Does Mobile Sports Betting Have a Future in New York?

At the beginning of April 2019, New York lawmakers opted to leave mobile sports betting out of the state’s FY 2020 budget despite having included a number of reforms and initiatives that are associated with other forms of gambling. The budget which was agreed upon by Andrew Cuomo, the state’s governor and its legislative leaders set out spending plans for $175.5 billion for the next financial year. Serious efforts for the expansion of sports betting law in the Empire State have been underway for quite some time during the ongoing legislative sessions and the budget negotiations seemingly opened another window of opportunity. However, the state’s current constitution was the biggest drawback to the bill – voters must approve any gambling expansion plans the same way they did for the commercial casinos upstate. The state will, however, move ahead with plans to regulate in-person wagering following some preliminary talks on sports betting regulations that were held in January – in fact, an initial list of regulations was even published shortly after those talks.

What Next?

Gov. Cuomo has not been shy to express his strong stance against mobile wagering in the state and his argument sites an amendment to the 2013 law that permitted the establishment of four additional casinos. The amendment paved the way for the establishment of land-based gambling facilities but left out online gambling. As mentioned earlier, a constitutional amendment would have to be commissioned only through the votes. The proponents of mobile sports betting and online gambling in the state now have until the end of the current legislative session (which will be in June) to push through online and mobile wagering legislation. In fact, Senator Joseph Addabbo who has been championing the bill has already filed S00017 that sets out an 8.5 percent gross revenue tax rate – this bill is currently being scrutinized by the Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee.
“We’re meeting from April to June. So, we now have to get a bill passed. It has to pass both the Senate and the house committees, then the Senate and the house and be signed by the governor. I would be really disappointed if we can’t get it done in this session because then we have to wait until January to start talking about it again,” Sen. Addabbo pointed out.
Fortunately, the state’s budget laid down plans to enhance other aspects of its legal gambling market that is currently limited to land-based casino gambling and horse racing.  Furthermore, the budget fixes the pari-mutuel tax rate for five years and “simplifies the commission structure for video lottery gaming in the state, as well as setting a cap on casinos offering free-play games to customers at 19% of the venue’s revenue”.

West Virginia Legalizes Online Gambling and Poker

West Virginia is now the fifth state in the United States to have given the green light for an online gambling industry. The West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act, become a law 15 days (excluding Sundays) after it was forwarded to the desk of the governor who ended up not signing it by the March 27 deadline. According to West Virginia state laws, any bill not signed into law or vetoed by the governor within a given set period is automatically passed to law.

While there were some concerns that Governor Jim Justice would veto the online gambling bill in the same manner that Michigan’s governor did, but after deeper insight into the matter revealed quite a number of reasons why online gambling in the state is here to stay. First, one of the supposed reasons why the governor chose not to veto the bill is because of his family’s ties to the ownership of a West Virginian casino. In essence, this means that by heartily signing the bill into law, the governor would have probably implicated himself as the move would have the appearance of impropriety.

Regardless, the news that online gambling and poker will be coming to West Virginia is still great news for gamers in the state who have had to deal with underground, unregulated and illegal gaming sites. Sports betting is a vital component of the bill and now West Virginia is officially the third state in the country – behind Pennsylvania and New Jersey – to have a legalized mobile and online sports betting.

That said, the state’s five casinos, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races; Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort; The Casino Club at The Greenbrier; Mardi Gras Casino & Resort; and Wheeling Island Hotel are now allowed to forward their interactive gaming license applications to the West Virginia Lottery, which will be in charge of the interactive gaming sector. These licenses will be going for $250,000 apiece and will be renewed every five years for $100,000. Also, the online gaming operators will be required to pay a 15 percent tax on all their online gaming revenue. The industry’s platform and service providers, on the other hand, will be required to pay $100,000 for their licenses.

When Can West Virginians Expect to Begin Gambling

As it stands, the West Virginia Lottery has until June 2020 to finalize on crafting a suitable framework and gaming regulations and it is likely that the soonest time that the interactive gaming operations will go live in the state will be after that. Still, it might be totally worth as the operators will have sufficient time to get ready.

Besides that, there is also the issue of the recent reinterpretation of the 1961 Wire Act which makes it apply to all forms of online gaming and not just sports betting. The law has the potential to cripple a lot of vital aspects of the gaming industry including the multi-state share liquidity pools that would have been very beneficial to West Virginia especially considering its considerably small population.

Virginia General Assembly Passes Casino Legislation

Last Saturday, the General Assembly of the state of Virginia passed compromise legislation that would effectively introduce the state – and Danville – to casino gaming in the near future, that is, if the governor decides to sign it into law.

According to Substitute Senate Bill 1126, the aforementioned legislation, the Virginia Lottery Board is authorized to regulate the yet-to-be-launched casino gaming industry in the state. Before that, there will have to be a framework for licenses and the bill, of course, clearly outlines these licensing requirements. It also specified both the civil and criminal penalties that operators would be subject to in case they violated the terms of the casino gaming law.

Moreover, casino gaming will still be limited to specific areas or cities that will meet the criteria that are outlined in the bill. For the selected cities, a referendum will have to be held so that the residents can vote on whether they agree to the establishment of a gaming facility. This is expected to be done by the end of 2020 which implies that it will certainly take a bit of time before casino gaming makes it to some places in the state. For instance, as it stands, Richmond and Norfolk have been identified as potential sites for a casino owned and operated by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe.

Recommendations and Taxes

A clause of the bill requires that a recommendation for casino gaming in the state to be filed with the concerned parties by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission by November 1 this year. This is further complemented by a re-enactment clause for the referenda provisions outlined by the bill. However, unless the bill is re-enacted by the 2020 session of the General Assembly, no referenda can occur. Also, unless the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission’s findings and recommendations with regards to casino gaming are published by the specified date, there will be no referenda.

As for taxes, if passed, the bill would impose a tax range of between 13 and 15 percent of the adjusted gross revenue of the state’s licensed casino operators. This would be based on the operators’ annual adjusted gross receipts.  The bill will further outline how the tax proceeds will be disbursed after collection.

As mentioned earlier, the Virginia Lottery Board would be responsible for regulating the gaming industry and this will involve actual development of the rules that conform to the provisions of the gaming act. The time period for this has been set for between January 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020. One of the prime considerations is the establishment and implementation of a voluntary self-exclusion program that will allow individuals to protect themselves from gambling-related harm.

Slovakian President Vetoes new Gambling Legislation

A little over three weeks ago, Slovakian legislators approved plans to get rid of the local online monopoly, something that would result in a major shakeup of the country’s online gambling market. The new regime had even planned to begin accepting applications for online casino licenses by March 1, 2019, after which license approvals would be issued as from July 1, 2019. There were also plans to start accepting online sports betting license applications after which the licenses would take effect on July 1, 2020. Online casino and online sports betting licenses would cause operators €3m apiece but operators who interested in offering both products stood a chance of saving a third of the fee by signaling their interest in applying for both.

Unfortunately, as promising as these plans seemed to be for both the international gaming operators and the country, the Slovakian president moved to veto the new gambling regime that would have effectively opened up the online market to international operators for the very first time in the country’s history. In a statement that was issued on Friday, Andrej Kiska, the President of Slovakia said that he had refused to approve the online gaming regulations that were issued by the country’s Ministry of Finance after being approved by the legislature earlier this month.

Not Up to Standard

According to President Andrej Kriska, the proposed gambling rules and regulations contained insufficient consumer protection measures. For instance, the president wants that everyone who has been declared bankrupt to be included in the country’s national gambling exclusion registry.

President Kriska was also not impressed because of the faults he found within the legislation’s requirement that all online gamblers submit digital copies of there Citizen’s Cards for identity verification. In his opinion there needed to be “a better way of demonstrating the eligibility to play gambling that would not pose a risk for the protection of sensitive and misleading personal data.”

Furthermore, the legislation failed to specify how the gambling revenues would be spent by the government – Kiska wants the lawmakers to return to the drawing board with a plan which directly links gambling taxes and fees to funding problem gambling programs in Slovakia. In addition to all that, Kriska wants the lawmakers to grant the local governments a bit more authority in determining what type of gambling would be allowed within their respective municipalities. Case in point, the rejected bill prevented the gaming operators from setting up facilities near schools but the president wants this to be extended so that it includes “places designed to express religious, moral and other personally sensitive attitudes, such as churches or institutions.”

Mohegan Sun Ready to Acquire Boston-area Casino

Connecticut-based gaming company, Mohegan Sun has recently announced that it is willing to buy out Wynn Resorts’ $2.5 billion Everett casino project if is found to be unsuitable by state regulators. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is currently facing a lawsuit over its alleged botched investigations into sexual misconduct allegations against Wynn Resorts founder and former CEO Steve Wynn. Apparently, the move by Mohegan Sun meant to give the Gaming Commission an easy way out of the dilemma which has some very high stakes.

According to the Boston Herald, Mohegan Sun stated that it is confident in its reputation and is, therefore, the “best choice and as gaming operator and licenses holder for a Region A resort casino.” The company further promised that they will be committed to opening the Everett project in a timely manner should it be allowed to acquire it and complete the construction which was already underway.

This is not the first time that Mohegan Sun has made its intentions to acquire a gaming license in the state of Massachusetts public – in 2014, the company and its partner Suffolk Downs lots a bid for a gaming license in the state to Wynn Resorts. This not only ended Mohegan Sun’s chances of getting into the state’s gaming market but also culminated in the termination of the storied horserace tack at Suffolk Downs. Even though the odds of getting back on its feet have not improved for Suffolk Downs, Mohegan Sun is seemingly still hopeful in its hunt for a casino license in the state.

In its attempts to get its intention out there, Mohegan Sun has already held a number of initial meetings with some neighboring communities to express their interest in case Wynn’s license is stripped. The purpose of these meetings was to assure the residents that it would honor existing surrounding community agreements that were negotiated by Wynn.

In fact, Mohegan Sun has been championing its interests in owning a Boston Casino for the past few years and it is likely trying to make it clear to the four commissioners that will either uphold or revoke Wynn Resorts’ license that there is an interested buyer – this would seemingly make the decision to withdraw Wynn Resorts’ license easier.

Not Everyone Is Convinced

Unfortunately, Mohegan Sun’s plans have not been riding well with everyone. For instance, Everett Mayor, Carlo DeMaria, has expressed his disapproval of the idea of the Mohegan Sun taking over the facility. Apparently, Everett’s agreement with Wynn Resorts gives it’s the ability to approve or reject the sale of the facility to a new company.

A lot of factors will come into play before the final decision is made. One of the most significant ones would be the fact that Mohegan Sun has even gone as far as filing a lawsuit against the Gambling Commission arguing that is was better suited for the state’s gaming license than Wynn.

China Allegedly Prods North Korea Into Dropping Casino Plans

North Korea’s construction plans for a 30-story hotel close to the Chinese border have been abruptly halted after the latter reportedly convinced North Korea that it was a bad idea citing concerns that Pyongyang’s plans to build a casino. Already, the project was halfway through with 20 stories having been built. The casino was to be situated in Sinuiju, an economic zone that lies in the northwest border and it was primarily aimed at attracting Chinese tourists.

How It Got to This

Gambling, except for two lotteries that are operated by the state, is completely illegal in China – the country has been putting tremendous efforts into keeping its citizens from traveling to other countries to gamble with the main intention being to reduce cases of problem gambling and prevent capital from leaving the country. North Korea, on the other hand, still faces multiple international sanctions that have had a significant negative impact on its local economy and as it turns out, China remains to be its main trading partner which means that China has quite a considerable amount of influence over it.

There have been lots of speculations surrounding the nixing of the project with China’s interjection being just one of the least bizarre ones even though it certainly makes some sense. Some analysts disagree with this speculation citing the fact that there is already a casino in North Korea close to the Chinese border in the Rajin-Sonbong special economic zone – China has not rejected the operation of this particular casino. That said, the analysts believe that it is more likely that the project ran out of funding hence the sudden halt in its development. While the relevance of both of these speculations cannot be disputed, the prevailing one remains to be seen.

Yang Bin’s Involvement Could Have Been A Factor

Developing the project is Yang Bin, a Dutch-Chinese billionaire who has been sourcing for foreign revenue to finance the completion of the project, something that sort of backs up claims that the project ran out of money. Yang, who was once the second-richest man in China was recruited by Pyongyang in 2002 to run the Sinuiju economic zone, a move that was backed up by forms North Korean leader Kim Jong II. The billionaire had big plans for the region into a semi-autonomous capitalist enclave that got the attention of Chinese authorities who worried that it had the potential of destabilizing the region’s economic and political management.

These plans fell apart when Yang Bin was arrested and imprisoned for tax evasion by Chinese authorities before being released 2 years ago. His involvement in the project is probably enough to get Chinese authorities on edge once again. So much so that they would want to have it completely shut down.

Indiana Lawmakers Propose Legalization of Sports Betting

Huge changes seem to be headed to Indiana’s gaming industry – it is possible that next year, we could finally have legalized sports betting in the state. This follows from last Friday’s summer study committee where the Hozier State’s lawmakers unanimously voted to recommend the legalization of sports wagering during the next legislative session. It has been about 5 months since the United States Supreme Court repelled PASPA and lifted the federal ban on sports betting but it is certainly not too late for Indiana to join the party.

The issue which was brought up by State Rep. Alan Morrison, a Republican with Brazilian descent, during the summer study committee. Mr. Morrison wants the state’s casinos to be able to offer “what they can”, especially when it comes to sports betting, something that he believes will keep them competitive. The lawmaker has been working on legislation aimed at legalizing sports betting, which will encompass both online and mobile betting.

The committee also went on to discuss possible security considerations for sports betting, most of which revolved around the registration of persons in online casinos with multiple forms of identification documents. This is to prevent both identity theft for gambling purposes as well as underage gambling, the latter being one of the most pressing concerns in the country’s gambling industry. In addition to these, the issue of problem gambling was also brought up with the Indiana Council on Problem Gambling saying that they are neutral is as far as the legalization of sports betting is concerned, but not failing to express concerns that problem gambling will eventually crop up.

Christina Gray, the Indiana Council on Problem Gambling’s executive director hopes that the lawmakers will consider the inclusion of resources to deal with the organization’s concerns. One of these would be the channeling of a percentage (1 percent, according to Gray) of the gaming tax revenue to the prevention and treatment of gambling addiction.

$466 Million in Economic Impact

According to report that has recently been released by, Eilers and Krejcik Gaming, a gambling research firm, legal sports betting in the state could generate up to a whopping $466 million within the first five years of the industry’s launch. The firm’s involvement is somewhat more proof that the state is very serious about the legalization of sports books – it was enlisted by the Indian Gaming Commission earlier this year and tasked with compiling a comprehensive report on the impact that the legalization of sports betting would have on the state.

The report revealed that, if legalized, the retail and mobile sports betting industries could bring in up to $56.2 million in direct economic impact within the first year. In five years, the number is projected to rise to $256 million in direct economic impact. Also included in the firm’s report is a revelation that mobile sports betting might take the center stage and become the main driver of Indiana’s betting market.

Eilers and Krejcik’s report’s recommendation was that the state should legalize sports betting as soon as next year during the next legislative session. Apparently, the risks of delaying the process might be too high for the state to bear – these include increased competition from other states, economic loss as well as further growth of the sports betting black market.

Mt. Airy Submits Application for Beaver County Mini-Casino

Last Friday, officials from the Monroe County-based Mount Airy Casino Resorts submitted a mini-casino license application to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Mount Airy’s plans will turn the over 100 acres of barren land in Big Beaver into a multimillion-dollar mini-casino and entertainment complex.

According to the Times Online, a local news outlet, Mount Airy plans to launch its mini-casino in Beaver County in late 2019, a facility that is anticipated to feature at least 30 table games and 750 slot machines. The plans officially kicked off last August when the casino bought 100 acres of barren land just off Interstate 376 where the mini-casino is set to be constructed, if the gaming control board approves their license application, that is. By submitting the official application for the license, the developers confirmed that they have indeed begun the process for final approval before construction begins. The application also included sports betting and online gambling.

While commenting on the issue, Mount Airy Pittsburgh’s vice president of marketing and gaming operations, Vincent Jordan said that he and other casino officials are excited about the license applications as it marked the beginning of the formal process that is required for them to establish a gambling business in Big Beaver County as early as next year.

“While the due diligence process is underway, we’re enthusiastic about working with the community on job training and other partnerships,” he elaborated. “We are looking forward to communicating our plans and are appreciative of all the help and collaboration we have received from Beaver County officials.”

Mount Airy’s Operations in the Commonwealth

Earlier this year, Mt. airy won a mini-casino license after making a $21,888,888.88 bid – the terms for this license also stipulated that the casino could include up to 750 slot machines and 30 table games. For this project, the casino has even already begun discussions with workforce development and educational partners, a move that has earned the operator a lot of praise form the county board of commissioners who have been keeping a watchful eye on the developments.

According to Daniel Camp, the chairman of the country commissioners, the move is an indication of Mount Airy’s commitment and dedication to the project.

“It’s great to see another organization and business come into Beaver County who is willing to and will be a great neighbor to our community,” Mr. Camp pointed out. “I think them being here this early prior to breaking ground is a sign that shows the commitment to the community and the project.”

The PGCB to Review the Application

The mini-casino application that was submitted on Friday required Mount Airy to conduct a traffic study, local impact report as well as other forms of research, which is typical of the application process. However, according to the gaming control board’s spokesperson, it will be a few weeks before they release the application to the public for review. In the meantime, the PGCB staff will be reviewing the application for completeness while at the same time redacting any confidential information that it may include.

Highlights of the September 27 Sports Betting Hearing

Last Thursday while the Senate dealt with the highly controversial US Supreme Court Hearings, a subcommittee of the US House known as the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigation hosted a sports betting hearing. The hearing that was officially recognized as “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America” is the first hearing of its kind since the landmark Supreme Court ruling that lifted the federal ban on sports betting.

The hearing involved testimonies from representatives of both sides of the divide including:

  • Sara Slane, senior vice president, public affairs, American Gaming Association
  • Becky Harris, chair, Nevada Gaming Control Board
  • Jocelyn Moore, executive vice president, communications and public affairs, National Football League
  • Jon Bruning, counselor, Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG)
  • Les Bernal, national director, Stop Predatory Gambling

The hearing which lasted 90 minutes mostly involved debates about where sports betting regulations need to come from – with the federal government or the states? Even though most of what was discussed was not surprising, to say the least, the questions that some of the committee members, who were for the most part opposed to the idea of any form of gambling, were asking. Some of the lawmakers in the committee as well as some of the witnessed painted a picture of a sports betting and gambling industry that was full of miscreants, thugs, degenerates and scammers, ideas that are certainly not true.

NFL Goes at Sports Betting, Again

The National Football League (NFL) was a major proponent of PASPA and the last thing league officials expected to happen was for the United States Supreme Court to repeal it – it joined all the other major sports leagues and the NCAA to fight New Jersey’s bid to be allowed to offer sports betting within its borders.

“Sports gambling conducted pursuant to State law threatens the integrity and character of, and public confidence in, professional and amateur sports, instills inappropriate values in the Nation’s youth, misappropriates the goodwill and popularity of professional and amateur sports organizations, and dilutes and tarnishes the service marks of such organizations,” Jocelyn Moore said quoting a section of the now-obsolete PASPA.

While the NFL is not hellbent in having the ruling reversed, it encouraged the committee to “create a modern framework” for the purpose of protecting the fans and the integrity of the game. Considering how many times the word “integrity” was used in the NFL’s testimony it would be safe to say that NFL seems to be intent on securing a piece of the sports betting market that is already proving to be very lucrative.

Thankfully, the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) officials were present to clarify the reality of the matter which is that the sports betting market is fine as it in the hands of state governments and there is no additional oversight needed.

Buffalo Wild Wings Eyeing Offering Sports Betting Services

Renowned U.S. sports bar chain Buffalo Wild Wings is reportedly eyeing a foray into the sports betting business as part of its efforts to enhance the restaurant business for its customers. According to sources close to the company, the sports betting plan will be in conjunction with sports betting and daily fantasy sports company DraftKings – the two are very close to inking a marketing deal. This is intended to make use of the opportunity that was presented after the U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling that lifted the federal ban on sports betting in May.

Buffalo Wild Wings owns 1,700 bars across the United States including places where sports fans residing in suburban cities usually hang out to watch the biggest league games like the NFL. Sports betting at these facilities might seem like one of the more unlikely scenarios but it is actually based on some rather compelling factors such as the aforementioned infrastructure – they already have the facilities and the market. These facilities are further spread out across all the 50 states

Speaking to ESPN’s David Purdum, the restaurant chain’s officials confirmed that as far as their interest in sports betting goes they are already “actively exploring opportunities, including potential partners, as we evaluate the next steps for our brand.”

“As the largest sports bar in America, we believe Buffalo Wild Wings is uniquely positioned to leverage sports gaming to enhance the restaurant experience for our guests,” a Buffalo Wild Wings official pointed out.

New Revenue Stream

Founded in 1982, Buffalo Wild Wings has enjoyed tremendous levels of success through the decades but as it stands, it is in need of new revenue streams since millennials prefer to have their food delivered instead of going to the restaurants. In fact, the low number of customers who visit the restaurants has already dealt a blow to its alcohol sales, according to recent reports.

The restaurant chain therefore certainly needs a new way to attract customers – it has been struggling for quite some time with slumping sales and an extended battle between an activist investor and its executives. This battle quelled down only after it was acquired by Arby’s parent company, Roark Capital.

“I think that if you look back when Buffalo Wild Wings was really, really, really successful, it was really the only one out there doing what it was doing,” Paul Brown, the former CEO said about plans to find new ways to renovate the chain. “We had a nationalized local sports bar, and then more competition has come in, and I think that some of that competition has been a little bit more innovative… I think there’s an opportunity to figure out the 21st-century incarnation of what made it so successful during particularly the early 2000s.”

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