News In Brief: April 15-April 19, 2024

April 19, 2024
Tipico is fined over banned bets in New Jersey, a Star Entertainment executive resigns and PAGCOR appoints a new president.
New Jersey Approves $25,000 Fine Against Tipico

Tipico NJ has agreed to a $25,000 fine to settle a complaint over accepting wagers on prohibited sports events, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) announced Thursday (April 18).

The DGE found that from October 13, 2021 until November 8, 2021, and then again from December 8, 2021 until January 2, 2022, respectively, the company accepted wagers on prohibited sporting events.

The DGE did not disclose which prohibited sporting events Tipico accepted wagers on, or any financial information associated with the bets. 

In other regulatory decisions, the DGE required Resorts In Atlantic City to forfeit some $4,000, which the casino confiscated from a total of 15 people who failed to produce adequate identification, abandoned certain assets, or were otherwise prohibited from engaging in gaming activity. 

Star Entertainment’s Gold Coast CEO Resigns

Australian casino operator The Star Entertainment Group on Thursday (April 18) announced the resignation of The Star Gold Coast CEO Jessica Mellor after only six months in the role.

Celebrated as the company’s “youngest and first female CEO”, Mellor did not state a reason for her departure, although group chairman David Foster said “Jessica has decided the time is right to move on”.

Star began public hearings this week in a second suitability probe in neighbouring New South Wales (NSW) state that will likely determine the survival of the company’s casino operations in NSW.

The hearings have begun disastrously for the company, with evidence pointing to senior leadership attempts to undermine its external special manager and the regulator via shareholder legal action, and apparent covert monitoring of the special manager’s email or other data.

Other allegations against the company to date include the former CEO keeping debt data from the company board, and the former CFO being urged by a senior staff member to adjust earnings data to conceal a A$3.2m ($2m) loss caused by technical problems with slot machines.

Mellor was appointed CEO of the southern Queensland property in October 2023 and was COO of the same facility from 2019.

PAGCOR Names President/COO

Philippine gambling regulator PAGCOR announced on Thursday (April 18) that company director and former regional administrator Wilma Eisma has been appointed president and COO.

Eisma recently served as a director of the Development Bank of the Philippines from March 2022 and before that as administrator and chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, PAGCOR said in a statement.

Trained as a lawyer, Eisma previously worked for Philip Morris’ Philippine venture in public affairs and government relations, the Department of Trade and Industry, and in Congress in the office of the majority leader of the House of Representatives.

Previous PAGCOR president and COO Juanito Sanosa Jr. resigned from both posts in January.

Minnesota Racetrack Files Racketeering Suit Against Tribes

Running Aces, one of two racetracks in Minnesota, filed a federal racketeering lawsuit Tuesday (April 16) claiming tribal casinos in three locations have offered card games not authorized under the state-tribal gaming compact.

The lawsuit also comes as a bill that would overturn the Minnesota Racing Commission’s decision to allow up to 500 historic horseracing terminals at each of the racing tracks is making its way through the state legislature.

Running Aces contends the casinos have been offering “Class III” card games not authorized by state compacts under the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). 

Under the compacts, tribal casinos were limited to slot machines and blackjack, according to the Alcohol and Gaming Enforcement Division of the state's Department of Public Safety. 

Running Aces, which operates northeast of Minneapolis, named executive at two Grand Casinos, owned by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, and Treasure Island Resort and Casino, owned by the Prairie Island Indian Community. 

The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Minnesota under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act.

“All that we have ever sought was to be treated fairly, compete on a level playing field, take advantage of improvements within the pari-mutuel environment, and operate without fear of being eliminated,” Taro Ito, president and CEO of Running Aces, said in a statement. 

Representatives for the tribes did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

U.S. Supreme Court Denies California Tribal Casino Case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday (April 15) denied a bid by an anti-casino organization seeking to overturn a Ninth Circuit decision after determining that the Ione Band of Miwok’s can go ahead with their project. 

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had dismissed the case brought by No Casino in Plymouth (NCIP) to challenge the U.S. Department of Interior’s approval of the Ione Band’s gaming compact with the state of California approved in 2018.

NCIP also challenged the DOI’s decision in 2012 to take land into trust in Plymouth, California, for the benefit of the Ione Band and approving the use of certain lands for tribal gaming. 

The Ninth Circuit in its July 2023 ruling upheld the 2012 decision that recognized Ione Band as an Indian tribe and that the DOI did not err in concluding that the tribe was eligible to have land taken into trust on its behalf. 

The court also rejected NCIP’s claim that contends the 2012 decision violated the Appointments Clause because it was approved by the acting assistant secretary of Indian Affairs who was not nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. 

Plymouth is located 55 miles east of Sacramento.

BetMGM Fined $36,000 For Multiple Virginia Violations

BetMGM will pay a $26,000 fine and contribute an additional $10,000 to the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling to settle a complaint over accepting wagers from patrons on the voluntary exclusion list and other violations of state gaming regulations. 

BetMGM self-reported the incidents and, in one instance, followed up by Virginia Lottery staff, it was discovered that between January 2021 and March 2024, the sportsbook operator also had accepted wagers on in-state college teams, taken wagers on known results, and unapproved events.

The Virginia Lottery also found that BetMGM advertised itself to self-excluded persons in the state. In a four-page settlement agreement, lottery staff informed BetMGM that these violations of the state’s Sports Betting Law and other regulations were sanctionable. 

“BetMGM has taken corrective measures to ensure future compliance with the Sports Betting Law and its related regulations,” according to the settlement.

Kentucky Legislature Overrides Veto On Gaming Regulator

As the 2024 legislative session adjourned late Monday (April 15), Kentucky’s Republican-controlled legislature overrode Democratic Governor Andy Beshear’s veto of Senate Bill 299.

The bill creates an independent Kentucky Racing and Gaming Commission to regulate all pari-mutuel wagering, including historical horseracing machines, as well as sports betting and charitable gaming. 

The Senate overturned Beshear’s veto on Friday with a vote of 26-12, with the House voting 57-38. 

Republican Senator Damon Thayer introduced the bill in late March to replace the existing Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the Department of Charitable Gaming. 

“I have long thought the racing commission should be an independent agency like the lottery commission or public service commission,” said Thayer, who announced in December he would not seek re-election.

Thayer has been in the Senate for more than two decades, serving for more than a decade as Senate Majority Floor Leader. He will continue to serve until December 31.

BlueBet Receives Lighter Fine Over Freeway Ads

Australian corporate bookmaker listco BlueBet has been fined A$50,000 ($32,000) in Victoria state over improper freeway billboard advertising but avoided having the conviction recorded.

The Magistrates Court of Victoria imposed the fine plus legal costs of the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC), which brought the prosecution, according to a VGCCC statement on Monday (April 15).

The court heard 43 counts of illegal advertising on digital billboards across five freeway locations in Melbourne’s west for two weeks in August and September 2022 which amounted to a maximum A$1m fine.

Magistrate Greg Thomas “said that he found it difficult to accept BlueBet’s defence” of inadvertent breaches of the law, pointing at least to “a high degree of negligence by BlueBet”.

But Thomas opted for a lighter fine and no recording of a conviction because of BlueBet’s “guilty plea, cooperation with the VGCCC and changes … to prevent these breaches from happening again”.

The fine marks the latest scalp for the VGCCC, currently Australia’s most aggressive gambling regulator in terms of breadth and intensity of industry scrutiny.

On Thursday (April 11), BlueBet announced a plan to acquire Australian corporate bookmaker betr and announced an A$20m equity raising for the combined entity.

SkyCity To Forego Second Queenstown Casino Licence

Australasian casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group will give up the licence for a dormant casino in New Zealand’s Queenstown to focus on its main property in the southern resort town.

SkyCity subsidiary Otago Casinos severed its lease on the Wharf Casino property two weeks ago, the Mountain Scene newspaper reported on Monday (April 15). The licence expires this September.

The licence by law cannot be transferred to a more viable property, the daily quoted Jonathan Browne, general manager for SkyCity Queenstown, as saying.

Already “a challenging property to run” before its closure, according to Browne, the Wharf Casino has not reopened since the coronavirus pandemic forced its closure in March 2020.

The removal of the Wharf Casino leaves SkyCity with casino licences in Auckland, Hamilton and Queenstown in New Zealand, and a casino licence in Adelaide, Australia. The company also operates an online casino out of Malta.

Virginia Governor Defends Skill-Game Bill Rewrites

Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin has defended his decision to rewrite a bill designed to legalize skill games in Virginia and proposes stricter regulations on an industry that had been lobbying for a light touch regulatory environment.

Youngkin told Channel 8 in Richmond that the changes to Senate Bill 212 create a more robust regulatory structure with a set of arrangements for public safety and consumer protection.

Youngkin said his reasoning for the restriction was due to language in the law passed in 2020 when Virginia legalized casinos that prohibited additional historic horseracing terminals within 35 miles of a casino. 

“This has been the consistent part of legislation when historical horseracing was introduced when casinos were introduced,” Youngkin told Channel 8.

Among the changes supported by Youngkin is a prohibition on skill games located within 35 miles of a casino, and within 2,5000 feet of a school or place of worship. 

He also proposed capping the number of machines in Virginia at 20,000, raising the tax rate to 35 percent, allowing cities to ban the machines, and requiring that host locations sell lottery tickets.

UK Commission Calls For Nuanced View Of New Problem Gambling Survey

The UK Gambling Commission has warned against over-emphasis on the headline rate of problem gambling recorded in its forthcoming Gambling Survey for Great Britain (GSGB).

In a blog post on the commission's website, Laura Balla, the regulator's head of research, said that the survey was moving beyond the typical measures of problem gambling to also include wider harms caused to individual gamblers and those around them.

"It has never been our intention to develop a headline score or psychometric scale of gambling harms," she wrote.

"The wider impacts of gambling are varied and diverse and to develop a single measure or scale would be extremely challenging, and the results would likely be less useful when applied to our regulatory and policy work. Instead, the new questions will give us insight into the range of experiences and associated trends that different consumers are having and allow us to explore the nuance and complexity of the impacts of gambling."

An early test version of the GSGB released last year suggests the new official headline problem gambling rate will climb dramatically from previous estimates.


Tipico is fined over banned bets in New Jersey, a Star Entertainment executive resigns and PAGCOR appoints a new president.

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