News In Brief: April 17-April 21, 2023

April 21, 2023
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Nevada regulators remove and update outdated gambling regulations.

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Nevada Regulators Eliminate Outdated Gaming Regulations

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The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday (April 20) approved 16 regulations for elimination as state gaming regulators seek to comply with a January directive issued by Republican Governor Joe Lombardo that all state agencies recommend at least ten regulations for removal by May 1.

Most of the subsections and amendments approved were no longer needed due to changes in the gaming industry over the last four decades. Other regulations dealing with hosting centers or auditing and financial statements needed to be updated to lessen the regulatory burden on licensees.

The recommendations were forwarded to the governor’s office.

Commissioner Steven Cohen, who was not reappointed to another term by the governor, announced that Thursday’s meeting would be his last. Lombardo has not named Cohen’s replacement to the five-member commission.

“Four years in this job has been a dream,” Cohen said. “Four years is also enough. It is time for new blood.”

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PlayUp Withdraws Ohio Application, Agrees To $120,000 In Penalties

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The Ohio Casino Control Commission announced a settlement on Wednesday (April 19) with PlayUp regarding alleged illegal gaming activities that led to the regulator planning to deny the company’s sports-betting license application.

The OCCC approved an agreement Wednesday that will see the Australian-based operator pay $120,000 in penalties, including a $90,000 fine to the state and $30,000 in restitution to customers who suffered losses after the regulator informed the company in December that it accepted illegal wagers in Ohio through its Slots+ online product.

As part of the agreement, PlayUp will withdraw its license application, agree not to seek an Ohio gaming license for four years and must approach the commission 90 days before submitting an application to review any planned product offerings.

In issuing its notice of intent to deny the application in December, the OCCC found violations of Ohio state law by PlayUp in offering the slots-like product based on the outcome of horse races and marketing it as legal gaming in the state.

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Texas Senate Takes Aim At Lottery Couriers

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The Texas Senate has endorsed a prohibition on online lottery ticket courier services by passing standalone legislation and separately adding language targeting lottery couriers to its proposed state budget plan.

Last week, senators passed Senate Bill 1820 to expressly ban any person from “facilitating the playing of a lottery game by telephone or through the internet.” The Senate’s 29-2 vote of April 12 came just a few days after the bill was passed out of committee.

Meanwhile, language expressing legislative intent that lottery courier services be forbidden in Texas has been included in the Senate’s 2023-25 budget amendment, which was approved by senators on Monday (April 17).

Texas is one of at least 15 states where independent lottery couriers such as Jackpocket, Lotto.com and Mido Lotto are operational. At least two states have previously passed legislation to prohibit lottery couriers.

To become law, SB 1820 still must be approved by the Texas House of Representatives and be signed by the governor. The House did not include language related to lottery couriers in its own version of the budget bill, which now has to be reconciled with the Senate’s budget plan.

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Rio de Janeiro Battles With São Paulo For Sports-Betting Headquarters

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Rio de Janeiro City councillor Carlo Caiado has announced the creation of a commission to address municipal taxation and the federal regulation of sports betting. Their first meeting took place on Wednesday (April 19).

São Paulo recently announced in December that its Municipal Service Tax (ISS) tax rate for betting and fantasy sports companies would be lowered from 5 to 2 percent, the minimum allowed, in an effort to attract sports-betting companies to establish their headquarters there.

Rio, meanwhile, is expected to set its ISS tax at 2 percent, but has yet to officially do so.

City Councillor Pedro Duarte said weeks ago at the end of March: “We wasted no time and already presented a project to have the same reduction here in Rio, putting ourselves on an equal footing in this dispute. Our city is the birthplace of the sport and the natural destination for these companies.”

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Denmark Allocates Funds To Fight Gambling Addiction

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Denmark has agreed to allocate 30m Danish kroner (€4m) to research and education on gambling addiction over the next three years.

The effort follows a Danish Gambling Authority study last year which said about 500,000 Danes have some form of gambling addiction, almost double the amount in 2016, the tax ministry said.

"The development we are seeing in the gaming area is very worrying,” said tax minister Jeppe Bruus. “Gambling addiction can have major and long-lasting consequences for those involved, and we have a special obligation to protect children and young people and other vulnerable groups. Therefore there is a need for us to both strengthen information efforts towards children and young people and research into gambling addiction.”

About DKK1m is being allocated this year toward a joint Nordic study of gambling addiction in the region, conditional on other countries contributing to the research, the ministry said.

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Myanmar Border Casino Staff Flee Amid Rebel Attack

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Hundreds of Chinese nationals working in the Myanmar border casino precinct at Shwe Kokko village have been evacuated following rebel attacks on another nearby village, according to local media.

The Karen Information Center news portal and Radio Free Asia Burmese reported that up to 2,000 residents of Shwe Kokko fled across the border into Thailand following deadly attacks some 9km from Shwe Kokko on April 5.

At least three people were killed in the incident, which involved a counter-attack by government troops and attack helicopters, the reports said.

Hundreds of those who fled are employees at Yatai International City, a mixture of casinos, online casino operations and possible scam syndicates developed by Chinese Cambodian national She Zhejiang.

At last report, She was in custody in Thailand almost two years after Interpol issued a red notice for his detention at China’s request.

Thai security forces are monitoring the evacuees, who are staying in rural communities, the outlets said.

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Colombia's Head Regulator Is Asked To Resign

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The saga to find a new head gaming regulator in Colombia continues, with reports coming in that new Coljuegos boss Roger Carrillo Campo has been asked to step down after little more than a month in office.

Carrillo replaced César Augusto Valencia, who stepped down in January after the election of leftist president Gustavo Petro, which Valencia claimed at the time was a coincidence and not the cause of his resignation.

The conservative Carilllo was immediately tipped for the position, but was mired in controversy when he impersonated a political rival in a local radio interview in an attempt to discredit him.

He was finally given the position after all, six weeks ago on March 3, despite his actions.

Now, however, the relationships between various political parties in Colombia have broken down in the process of brokering healthcare reform.

Ministers from political parties that have decided not to vote in favour of the reform have been asked to resign by Petro, which began on April 14.

Carrillo’s rumoured replacement is Mauricio Marín, the head of Fiduprevisora, which administers state resources.

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Website Blocking Powers To Be Used in Norway

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The Norwegian Gambling Authority has said it will begin blocking offshore gambling websites from the start of 2024.

Although Norway sent legislation to the European Commission in 2021 allowing it to engage in DNS blocking of unlicensed gambling websites, the enforcement tool had apparently not been used, according to a statement released by the regulator on Friday (April 14).

Almost all online operators other than the state-owned monopoly Norsk Tipping are considered illegal by the regulator and government.

“Those companies that do not withdraw from Norway will experience DNS blocking of their websites when new regulations come into force in 2024,” said the regulator.

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Tennessee Sports-Betting Reset Passes Senate

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The Tennessee Senate unanimously passed a bill on Thursday (April 13) to make various amendments to the state’s 2019 sports wagering law.

Alongside a series of more minor changes, Senate Bill 475 would eliminate the statutory requirement for mobile sportsbook operators to use official league data to settle all in-play wagers. It will also change Tennessee’s tax rate from 20 percent of gross revenue to 2 percent of handle, following deduction of federal excise taxes.

Speaking prior to Thursday’s 30-0 vote, Republican state Senator Richard Briggs described SB 475 as primarily a “clean-up bill” with the tax changes forming the main substance of the measure.

The Tennessee House of Representatives is presently considering similar legislation, although House Bill 157 would set a tax rate of 1.85 percent of handle and also introduce a tiered annual license fee structure for operators.

Tennessee’s General Assembly is scheduled to remain in session until May 4.

Senate approval of SB 475 came on the same day that Republican Governor Bill Lee signed separate legislation to also pass licensing and regulatory authority over fantasy sports contests to the Tennessee Sports Wagering Advisory Council.

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Betr Denies Responsibility Amid Record Inducement Fine

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Australian corporate bookmaker start-up Betr will pay A$210,000 ($141,000) in fines in New South Wales (NSW) state over an inflated odds promotion, despite insisting its conduct was legal.

Regulator Liquor & Gaming NSW issued the record fine to Betr for breaching laws on inducements to gamble or open a betting account, it said on Friday (April 14).

The offending promotions in October involved greatly inflated odds of up to 100-to-1 on horseracing events and football matches that ordinarily attract much shorter odds.

Betr elected to pay the 14 penalty notices while denying illegality. It is the first time Liquor & Gaming NSW has fined a bookmaker in lieu of criminal prosecution.

The regulator noted in its statement that Betr “voluntarily ceased the advertising campaign when contacted by Liquor & Gaming NSW”, but it did not say Betr refused to admit liability.

A Betr spokesperson told the Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday that “we do not accept and have made no admissions to breaching NSW law”, but elected to respond “amicably” to the fines.

Liquor & Gaming NSW also said on Friday that Australian wagering company SportChamps was found guilty of inducement advertising in a local court in Sydney on March 27.

SportChamps was fined A$40,000 plus A$14,000 in costs, suffering its third penalty after convictions in 2018 and 2019.

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Nevada regulators remove and update outdated gambling regulations.

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