News In Brief: April 10-April 14, 2023

April 13, 2023
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Ohio's lottery director has suddenly resigned and a Ugandan draft law proposes a gambling tax hike.

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Ohio Lottery Director Resigns

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Ohio Lottery director Pat McDonald abruptly resigned Wednesday (April 12), with a spokesman for Republican Mike DeWine saying it was “due to medical reasons.”

“I can confirm that director McDonald submitted his resignation and intent to retire due to medical reasons to our office today,” Dan Tierney told VIXIO GamblingCompliance in an email.

Tierney confirmed that Michell Gillcrist, the governor’s aerospace and defense liaison and Northeast Ohio regional liaison, will be the interim director.

McDonald had run the lottery since his appointment by DeWine in February 2019. He previously served on the Ohio Lottery Commission since 2007, including eight years as its chairman.

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Uganda Proposes 10 Percent Tax Hike

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Ugandan lawmakers have proposed to amend the country’s gambling law to increase the tax rate for gambling and betting from 20 percent of the total money staked minus payouts (GGR) to 30 percent.

The Lotteries and Gaming (Amendment) Bill 2023 was published on March 30 in the Uganda Gazette by Matia Kasaija, the minister of finance, planning and economic development.

If enacted, the change will come into force on July 1, 2023.

The bill is one of several “tax bills 2023” being proposed by the government at the moment.

It is currently under consideration by parliament, which has invited industry stakeholders to comment on the proposal.

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Sports Betting Bill Dies In North Dakota Senate

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Voters won’t get the opportunity to decide on a ballot measure on whether to legalize sports betting in North Dakota, in a move supported by state universities, religious groups and family organizations.

The state Senate on Monday (April 10) voted 30-16 to defeat House Concurrent Resolution 3002. The House of Representatives narrowly passed the measure in January by a 49-44 vote.

The measure would have required the legislature in 2025 to authorize sports betting in North Dakota, with licensing and regulation by the state.

The Senate last month defeated Senate Judiciary Committee amendments to the resolution that would have allowed sports betting, but only on professional sports. The House in January also defeated the same amendments, which were lobbied for by Mark Hagerott, chancellor of the North Dakota University System.

Currently, new tribal-state gaming compacts announced in November allow for internet gaming and mobile sports betting within tribal reservation boundaries. However, those same compacts include a provision allowing tribes to offer iGaming and mobile sports across the state, if authorized by state and federal law in the future.

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Everi Acquires E-Bingo Firm Video King

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Everi Holdings announced Tuesday (April 11) that it had entered into a purchase agreement to acquire certain assets of Video King, a privately-held provider on electronic bingo tablets, video gaming content and other systems, for $59m.

Everi expects the cash transaction to close within 60 days. The acquisition is expected to provide the Las Vegas-based company with an established customer base to enable additional growth in its games segment.

Barry Jonas, a gaming analyst with Truist Securities, wrote in a research note that the deal will allow Everi to deploy its cashless wall and iGaming content across Video King’s 50,000-plus e-bingo tablet installed base. The company is licensed in more than 60 jurisdictions, including by tribal regulators in Texas, California and Florida.

The games are found in bingo halls, commercial and tribal casinos, and luxury cruise liners. Video King posted $25m in fiscal year 2022 revenue.

“We think this transaction … fits with Everi’s strategy of focusing on smaller, tuck-in acquisitions (such as ecash, Venuetize and Intuicode) to leverage its scale,” said Jonas.

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Brazil’s New Fiscal Framework Expected At The End Of The Week

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The journey to the provisional measure to regulate sports betting is picking up pace. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, has recovered from the pneumonia that postponed the legislative agenda and has departed for China. He is expected back on April 16, at which time the government’s new fiscal framework to replace the spending ceiling will be addressed.

This includes text for the provisional measure on sports betting.

Senator Randolfe Rodrigues, who leads the government in Congress, told the Brazilian press on Monday (April 10) that the fiscal framework would be sent by Congress to the president at the end of this week.

This week, the big football clubs of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, and the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) will be heard in Congress, per their request. Last week, the Ministry of Finance made it clear they were willing to negotiate with the football industry.

A final text for the provisional measure, after incorporating suggestions, is expected within the month.

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Medical Journal Takes Stand On UK Gambling Update

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The BMJ medical journal has run a series of opinion pieces on a proposed UK statutory levy on gambling and the training materials it might help fund in the run-up to a crucial government white paper on gambling reform.

A levy could raise funds for research and addiction treatment, but it is not clear the funds would help reduce gambling harm if it “deflects questions about how much harm should be tolerated and on what grounds”, wrote May van Schalkwyk, a doctoral fellow at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, in the BMJ, which is published by the British Medical Association.

One of the three pieces cites a February report by a campaign group against gambling harm, Tackling Gambling Stigma, which urges the UK government to weed out “stigmatising” training materials that it says blame players for their addiction and downplay and transfer responsibility from the gambling industry.

That group is run by former executives at GambleAware, and is funded by Derek Webb, a former poker player and entrepreneur who funded the anti-fixed-odds betting terminal group that succeeded in its campaign to get stakes limited to £2 per spin.

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Deadline Approaching For Gaming Bills In Nevada

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The Nevada legislature faces its first deadline of the 2023 session as committees in both chambers must pass several gaming measures by Friday (April 14).

Among them is Senate Bill 7, which includes a provision to allow the Nevada regulators to adopt rules to allow for temporary manufacturer registration.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider SB 7 on Wednesday (April 12). The bill would also revise regulations relating to the registration and oversight of employees, fining an applicant or licensee who is late or deficient in making certain filings and repealing provisions concerning global risk management.

Also introduced this session was Senate Bill 14 that includes changes to rules allowing a spouse or personal representative of a licensee who has died to temporarily represent them and revising provisions relating to delinquent debt owed to the NGCB.

As of Monday (April 10), the Judiciary Committee had not scheduled a vote on SB 14.

Assembly Bill 380 calls on regulators to create a list of people with interactive wagering accounts who have been suspended or banned for cheating. The Assembly Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Wednesday (April 5) but did not vote on the measure.

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Industry Support For D.C. Problem Gambling Funding

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The Sports Betting Alliance (SBA) has lobbied in support of keeping tax revenue generated by the District of Columbia’s sports-betting market dedicated to problem gambling, according to a written testimony submitted by Jeremy Kudon, SBA president.

“SBA supports the District’s dedicated source of funding for problem gaming treatment and prevention,” Kudon wrote in a letter submitted to the D.C. Council Committee on Health on March 30.

“Across the country and in DC, SBA member companies have supported efforts to fund publicly administered problem gaming programs through revenue generated by sports betting.”

Mayor Muriel Bowser has proposed to eliminate $200,000 set aside for problem gambling services and use the tax revenue elsewhere in her fiscal 2024 budget proposal.

In a one-page letter, Kudon wrote that legal and regulated operators provide resources to help players manage their gambling habit and prevent problem gambling, including self-limits on the amount of time spent on the platform, caps on deposits and exclusion from the app.

“These internal protections are most effective when complemented by a publicly administered problem gaming treatment and prevention program,” he wrote.

Messages left with Bowser’s office and D.C. Health on Monday (April 10) were not returned. SBA is an industry lobbying group, with members including BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Fanatics Sportsbook.

BetMGM operates retail and mobile wagering in partnership with Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals, while FanDuel operates a retail sportsbook at Audi Field, home of Major League Soccer’s D.C. United.

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Osaka Voters Back Pro-IR Candidates

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Voters in Osaka comfortably returned the city mayor and prefectural governor in local elections on Sunday (April 9), galvanising pro-casino political forces in the region.

Supporters of integrated resorts (IR) in Japan are breathing a sigh of relief after Osaka Mayor Hideyuki Yokoyama and Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura, both members of the Osaka-based Nippon Ishin no Kai party, defeated anti-casino candidates in a de facto referendum on IRs.

Yokoyama more than doubled the vote of his Liberal Democratic Party-supported rival, while Yoshimura trounced a group of rivals with around three-quarters of the vote.

Nippon Ishin no Kai candidates also secured majorities in the city and prefectural legislatures pending a second round of elections on April 23.

This is a first for the party, which also won its first non-Osaka governorship in Nara Prefecture, setting the stage for its national expansion in the next Diet elections.

The central government has delayed announcing successful IR licensees until after regional elections conclude, but after Sunday the Osaka consortium of MGM Resorts International is in the box seat.

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Texas Committee Passes Bill To Ban Lottery Couriers

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The Texas Senate’s State Affairs Committee has passed a bill to prohibit online lottery courier services.

Senate Bill 1820, as amended before its unanimous approval by the committee on April 5, would require the Texas Lottery Commission to adopt regulations to ban anyone from “facilitating the playing of a lottery game by telephone or through the internet.”

That would include anyone who “accepts orders for or sells a ticket for the game” or “arranges to purchase… a ticket on behalf of the person playing the game.”

SB 1820 received support from various religious groups but is opposed by Jackpocket, one of several courier operators active in Texas.

To become law, the bill still must pass the full Senate and House and be signed by the governor.

Lottery courier services such as Jackpocket operate in more than a dozen states, including Texas, but have been prohibited through legislation in Virginia and Wisconsin.

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AGA Report Highlights Gaming Industry Diversity

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A study from the American Gaming Association (AGA) has found the gaming industry’s workforce is more diverse than national and hospitality industry benchmarks and boasts a diverse executive pipeline.

“Consumers, policymakers and investors are raising their expectations for all businesses on how they contribute to society beyond the bottom line,” said AGA president and CEO Bill Miller.

More than six in ten, or 61 percent, of gaming industry employees are minorities, compared with 52 percent of the broader hospitality industry and 42 percent of the total U.S. workforce.

Twenty-three percent of gaming employees are Hispanic, and 19 percent are Black, both higher than the national workforce and in line with the hospitality industry.

The study also found that 60 percent of operator employees are minorities, up nearly 20 percent from 2011 and higher than the hospitality sector and national workforces overall.

Forty-five percent of gaming manufacturer employees are minorities, compared with 38 percent of the broader electronic manufacturing workforce.

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Ohio's lottery director has suddenly resigned and a Ugandan draft law proposes a gambling tax hike.

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