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”.

Two Arkansas Racetracks Reopen as Full-Scale Casinos

In November 2018, Arkansas was one of the states that were voting in favor in of gambling expansion. Earlier this week, the state officially joined the list of states in the US where commercial casino gambling is legal and available to the residents. Marking this historical moment was the relaunch of Arkansas racetracks as full-fledged casinos.

Through the constitutional amendment that was approved by the state’s residents at a statewide vote late last year, Oaklawn Racing & Gaming in Hot Springs and Southland Park Gaming and Racing in West Memphis, the two former racetracks, were allowed to transform themselves into full-fledged casino properties where they would be able to offer tables games and slots machines. This also came after the Arkansas Racing Commission which currently oversees the state’s gambling industry issued both of them with casino licenses.

Oaklawn Gaming & Racing has since been rebranded as Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. This move was set off in November 2018 after the approval of Amendment 100 – the former racecourse announced a $100 million expansion plan that would include an addition 28,000 of gaming space among other changes to the property’s existing amenities.  Prior to the launch of the full-scale casino earlier this week, Oaklawn added eight table games to its gaming floor which had 1,3000 slot machines. The full expansion project is expected to be completed before 2020 live racing session.

West Memphis’ Southland Park Gaming and Racing is no slouch either. The casino now has a whopping 2,000 table games and a total of 40 table games that legal gamblers can now enjoy playing.

Sports Betting on the Way

Full-scale casinos aside, Amendment 100 also gave the green light for the provision of sports betting services in Arkansas. According to recent industry reports, Oaklawn is set to add sports betting to its portfolio in the coming weeks. Southland Park Gaming has also stated that it plans to go offer sports betting but not specific dates for the launch have been announced yet.

In fact, sports betting might not arrive at Southland as soon as some of the rumors reported. Earlier this year, the casino began promoting the upcoming debut of its BetLucky Sportsbook but according to news from the previous Friday, the casino’s owner has parted ways with its exclusive sports betting partners.  While the company is already searching for a new betting technology partner, it goes without saying that there will be an imminent delay in the launch of sports betting at the facility.

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 Advances Casino Gambling, Sports Betting Bill

The Virginia General Assembly has made a historic move by supporting the legalization of sports betting and casino gambling by passing Senate Bill 1126 which seeks to have casinos established in certain cities around the state. The gambling expansion bill is also the very first one in the recent past that has survived the Senate which has a reputation for dispelling any and all forms of gambling-related bills.

The Terms

Now that the hardest part of the process is complete, all that remains is for the state’s governor to sign the bill into law – while seemingly simple, this part of the process is just as crucial as every other part of the process. In Michigan, a gaming bill made it through the lawmakers but the governor chose to veto it. Fortunately, there is very little likelihood that this will happen in Virginia primarily because Gov. Ralph Northam says that he will support the gaming bill if it is beneficial for the state. So far, a gaming industry in the state seems to be a very promising idea not just for the operators and the residents but also for the state authorities and regulators who are going to rake in millions in tax revenue.

Senate Bill 1126 has some rather strict stipulations that will determine whether a state qualifies to host a casino. These include requirements that:

  • 40 percent of the land area of the city must be exempt from local real property taxation, or 24 percent provided that a Virginia Indian Tribe conducts such casino gaming.
  • the unemployment rate was at least 5 percent in November 2017 (or 4 percent if located adjacent to a state that has adopted a Border Region Retail Tourism Development District Act), a poverty rate of at least 20 percent in 2016, and a population decrease of at least 4 percent from 1990 to 2016.
  • the city has a population of more than 200,000 according to the 2017 population estimates.

In addition to that, the local authorities and the residents of the qualifying cities will have to be consulted extensively before the grant of a License to any casino – the Virginia Lottery Board will be responsible for the licensing.

Sports Betting and Online Gambling

While the major focus is currently on the land-based casinos, the bill further contains mechanisms that will see the launch of sports betting and online betting in the state. According to the bill, online gaming will be under the umbrella of “casino gaming”. The Virginia Lottery Board will, therefore, still be responsible for awarding licenses for these verticals – it will also be required to craft rules and regulation for the state’s gambling industry.

Bet365 Prepares to Debut in the United States

Renowned United Kingdom-based online gambling operator Bet365 is a step closer to offering its gaming services to the growing sports betting market in the United States. Known for offering world-class gaming service, the gaming company will be making its initial debut in the US through New Jersey and to seal the deal, it has already even gone as far as signing a lease on a piece of real estate in Marlton, New Jersey and this presumably where it will be operating from. The office space sits on a 19,000-square-foot-space at the Two Greentree Center and Bet365 will have access to it for quite some time thanks to the long-term lease.

Rumors of a possible venture into the United States emerged in 2018 when Bet365 partnered with Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, a local gambling operator – both companies signed a letter of intent as per New Jersey state gaming regulations before they were allowed to begin making plans for sports betting.

Dealing with Competition

Even though Bet365 has built quite the reputation for itself in the world of online gambling, this simply does not cut it in all gambling markets especially in cases where there are equally viable and reputable competitors trying to get a piece of the action. New Jersey is no stranger to gaming companies and already boasts of being home to a plethora of influential sportsbooks including 888Sport, Borgata, William Hill, FanDuel and DraftKings, all of which are considered to be quite good at the services they offer.

As such, penetrating the United States gaming market will certainly not be an easy task. This, however, does not mean that it is impossible. As a matter of fact, European gaming companies have been doing quite well in the United States thanks to the reliance on a mix of innovative gaming solutions as well as market-specific offerings that have resonated very well with US-based customers.

New Jersey is Just the First Stop for Bet365

Bet365 has had a lot of success back in the United Kingdom due to its prowess in finance and business and this is probably what will give the company an edge over competitors in the United Kingdom. It is already catching up with other established sports betting operators in the state and, as it turns out, its plans for the United States extend beyond New Jersey. The company is reportedly already eyeing expansion opportunities in New York, a move that is likely to be facilitated by the deal it recently signed with Empire Resorts.

AGA Pens Advisory Letter on Gaming Priorities to US Congress

The United States’ gaming industry has seen a lot of ups and downs but it goes without saying that it has been growing immensely and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. In a recent letter addressed to the US Congress, Bill Miller, the chief executive officer of the American Gaming Association, gave a brief overview of the gambling industry and it looks quite good. A few changes are needed here and there but it remains quite impressive despite the plethora of issues that have cropped up in the recent past. The AGA chief executive further outlined policies that the association believes should be prioritized going forward and stressed on the desire and importance of working with the Congress to foster further growth and development in the industry.

The letter detailed the vast gambling industry that spans across a whopping 42 states and supports over 1.8 million jobs while raking in $261 billion annually while bringing in $41 billion in tax revenue. There is no better for advancement than now since the industry has grown to become a mainstream form of entertainment which means demand is relatively high and is likely to keep growing.

“The opportunity to continue to promote the positive impact gaming has on communities, individual households, and the country is more abundant than ever,” the AGA chief executive wrote.

Advancing Sports Betting

Sports betting in the United States has been on a positive trajectory since the United States Supreme Court abolished PASPA and lifted the federal ban on sports betting in May 2018. The activity is expected to make a huge difference (positive, that is) on the country’s gaming market, something that even the pro sports leagues that were not for it have come to accept. As a matter of fact, nearly of the leagues have formed partnerships with different gaming operators in a bid to tap into the lucrative market.

A number of states have already launched their sports betting industries and many more are expected to join in very soon. A few more are just now considering legislative bills regarding the legalization of sports betting within their borders.

Rooting Out Illegal Operators

According to the letter, now that the gambling industry has shown its full potential, it is more important than ever that the federal government is involved. Bill Miller called for additional federal regulatory oversight especially with regards to sports betting. One of the ways that the AGA proposed was a more detailed review of existing anti-money laundering frameworks to ensure a strong culture of compliance – it would be the best place to start when it comes to weeding out black market sports betting operators.

Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Casino Begins Sports Betting in NJ

After receiving permission from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, Atlantic City’s Hard Rock casino has begun testing its sports betting offering. If this goes well, the casino will have its sports betting services in full operation just in time for the Super Bowl. This will be confirmed in the next few days when the casino operator officially releases its statement with regards to in-person sports betting at the gambling facility. Online sports betting is also being actively pursued by the company.

The sports betting market is quite lucrative and it comes as no surprise that Hard Rock casino has finally decided to join the party – the casino will be the eighth casino to offers sports betting in the state and its online sports betting app will be the tenth sportsbook apps in New Jersey. This venture will be the Malta-based GiG’s first every foray into the United States’ sports betting market.

It is certainly not going to stop there though – as the legal and regulated sports betting market in the country continues to grow, Hard Rock and GiG will probably seek to expand their gaming partnership to other states, especially those that already have operational Hard Rock casinos. Meanwhile, New Jersey is definitely a great place to test out the potential of the gaming market. This is primarily because the state championed the abolishment of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) thus paving the way for legal and regulated sports betting across the country.

“We are delighted to have reached another achievement in our partnership with Hard Rock,” said Robin Reed, the chief executive officer of GiG. “Hard Rock has global recognition, unparalleled reach and the same high ambitions as us. We look forward to continuing to support Hard Rock’s growth in New Jersey and expansion around the world.”

New Jersey’s residents and visitors can now place on a wide range of sporting activities including baseball, hockey, basketball, football, soccer, and college sports among others on both online and mobile platforms. As it stands, over $1.24 billion has been spent on sporting events in the states since its gaming industry went lice back in June 2018

Hard Rock’s History

The casino operator is perhaps best recognized for its acquisition of the former Trump Taj Mahal on the Atlantic City Boardwalk back in 2017. After purchasing the property, Hard Rock added its branding and design as well as the world’s largest music memorabilia collection to it before finally reopening it on June 28, 2018, as Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. Sports betting will, therefore, be joining the casino’s over 120 tables games 2000-plus slots.

NFL Inks First Sponsorship Deal with Caesars Entertainment

The National Football League has recently signed a multiyear deal with Caesars Entertainment Corp. making the latter the NFL’s first-ever casino partner. While the deal does not include sports betting, the partnership sets them up for more discussions that make a sports betting agreement very possible. During the announcement of the deal, it was revealed that both organizations have agreed to a three-year deal that is worth about $30 million annually.

“We couldn’t be more excited to work with one of the world’s largest gaming and entertainment companies,” Renie Anderson, the NFL’s senior vice president of partnerships, sponsorships, and consumer products, said.

What the Deal Entails

The sponsorship agreement will officially kick off during the 2019 playoffs and will give Caesars the exclusive rights to use NFL trademarks including the Super Bowls in the United States and the United Kingdom. However, the NFL’s trademarks will not appear on Caesars sportsbooks. According to Renie Anderson, the sponsorship deal is primarily concerned with providing fans with unique experiences by combining the NFL with expertise from Caesars. This will involve the combination of access to NFL events with Caesars stable of famous celebrity chefs, musical acts and locations across the United States and the United Kingdom.

This is a great step forward for the National Football especially considering the fact the major United States sports leagues are still grappling with how to approach the country’s new legal and rapidly growing state-driven sports betting industry. According to the American Gaming Association, the league eventually stands to reap revenues of as much as $2.3 billion every year from the gambling industry.

Prior to the sponsorship deal with the National Football League, Caesars Entertainment Corp. had already signed contracts with seven of the league’s teams – the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles – all of which will be included in 2020 NFL draft events in Las Vegas.

Not Yet Ready for Sports Betting?

Clearly, the NFL is still pretty hesitant when it comes to the direct promotion of sports gambling despite the fact that eight states have already legalized the activity and many others are considering a similar move. Renie Anderson said that while the league is still noncommittal about venturing into sports betting at this time, it would still be monitoring sports gambling.

“We’re not rushing into anything. We’ll continue to look at the industry as it evolves but it’s still has a lot of evolving to do,” he said.

The deal that has already been created between the two organizations effectively creates a working relationship which means that should the industry evolve in ways that would compel the NFL to venture into the space, then they can work up an agreement that is suitable for both of them. In the interim, the league is seemingly wading closer and closer to the casino space and thus sports betting might not be that far behind.

US Sports Betting Credited for Increased Sport Consumption

According to the results of a recent poll, at least 7 out of every 10 Americans would be willing to watch more sporting activities if they could be allowed to bet on the games. If these findings are anything to go by then they are definitely a reasonable explanation for the success of the newly-minted sports betting laws in the country.

Everything started with the state of New Jersey which, in 2012, initialized a quest to have sports betting legalize so that the residents could be able to gamble at their Atlantic City casinos – this they did by suing the federal government. The goal of the lawsuit was to have the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) overturn and in May 2018, New Jersey got exactly what it wanted when the United States Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting. Since then, a number of states have gone forward to introduce sports betting legislation of their own and many more are expected to follow through with similar actions in the near future.  Among the states that already have sports betting are Pennsylvania, Nevada, West Virginia, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Mississippi.

The Details of the Survey

Dubbed the Seton Hall Sports Poll, the survey which was conducted by the Stillman School of Business at the New Jersey’s Seton Hill University asked 1,000 people aged between 18 and 29 several questions about sports betting and how it was related to their interest in sports. The poll found that the of all these adults that participated in the survey 88 percent of them confirmed that they would be more attracted to watching certain sports if there was a possibility of betting on them. They also said that they would be willing to watch more live sporting events in person or on television if they would be allowed to bet on the outcome of those sports activities.

The survey also included questions about the May 14 Supreme Court ruling with 52 percent expressing their support for the move and only 28 percent of the women who participated in the survey supporting the court’s decision. Furthermore, the results of the survey also revealed that more than half of the participants felt that sports betting should include both collegiate and professional sports.

One of the issues that recorded the most division among the participants was the issue of problem gambling and gambling addiction. In this case, only 5 percent of the young adults that participated in the study believed that sports betting could lead to gambling addiction. Close to 30 percent of adult participants aged between 22 and 29, on the other hand, believed that sports gambling could lead to gambling addiction.

These results correspond with the result of an earlier poll that was conducted by the National Research Group and CBS – this is proof that the activity is beginning to be as impactful as many had hoped it would be.

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.”

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