News In Brief: April 25-April 29, 2022

April 29, 2022
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Minnesota's sports-betting bill passes through its final committee stage and just two bids are left standing in Japan as casino-resort deadline passes.

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Minnesota Sports-Betting Bill Sent To House Floor

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The Minnesota House Ways and Means Committee voted 14-7 on Thursday (April 28) to approve House File 778, which would legalize retail and online sports betting at tribal casinos and via online platforms partnered with Indian tribes, as the measure completed its final committee stop before being brought up for a vote on the House floor.

“Many of you have seen this bill before,” bill sponsor Representative Zack Stephenson, a Democrat, told the committee. “It is well travelled. We’ve had excellent discussion as we move through committee.”

Stephenson told his colleagues that legalizing retail and mobile wagering is an “idea whose time has come.”

During the 15-minute hearing, the committee voted against an amendment offered by Republican Representative Tim Miller that would have eliminated the bill’s proposed 10 percent tax on net sports wagering revenue.

Miller said with the state’s budget surplus the last thing lawmakers needed to do was create new taxes. He promised to bring up the amendment again on the House floor.

Stephenson opposed Miller’s proposal, saying eliminating the tax would leave the state subsidizing the sports-betting industry with no means of covering its regulatory costs.

A companion bill, Senate File 574, is pending in the Minnesota Senate and awaits action by the Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee, but Senate leaders are understood to be supportive of passing sports wagering this year assuming a bill does clear the House.

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Osaka And Nagasaki Remain As IR Deadline Passes

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The Japanese government’s deadline for integrated resort (IR) licence applications has passed, with only Osaka and Nagasaki left in the race for a maximum three licences nationwide.

Thursday’s deadline brought an end to almost a decade of speculation on various failed regional campaigns, while funding and logistical questions hang over the two surviving applications.

The Asahi Shimbun daily on Friday (April 29) confirmed that only Osaka — a joint submission by city and prefectural authorities — and Nagasaki Prefecture filed paperwork with the central government by Thursday evening’s deadline.

A third application from Wakayama City collapsed last week after the prefectural legislative assembly refused to endorse the bid.

The remaining applicants face no competition after years of abortive efforts by regional governments and gaming companies.

But Japanese media reports continue to fret over a lack of fiscal and corporate transparency in the Nagasaki offer and costing and logistical problems in Osaka, including railway construction and liquefaction fears.

Casinos Austria swooped in late to secure partner status in Nagasaki’s bid for an IR at Sasebo City’s Huis Ten Bosch theme park, in stark contrast to MGM Resorts International, which has campaigned in Osaka from the beginning.

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Two New Casino Licences Available In Switzerland

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Switzerland is to offer two additional casino licences, bringing the total number of casinos in the country to 23.

The country’s Federal Council, acting on advice from regulator ESBK, plans to create two more casino zones in the cities of Lausanne and Winterthur.

A tender for awarding the two new licences will begin in May, with concessions not expected to be handed out until Autumn 2023.

The 21 existing casino licences in Switzerland are due to expire on December 31, 2024.

Switzerland’s tightly controlled online gambling market only allows the holders of land-based casinos licences to offer online casino products.

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Kansas Sports-Betting Bill On Track For Passage, While Missouri Hits Roadblock

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Sports-betting legislation in Kansas appears to be on track toward passage as early as Thursday (April 28), while legislation in Missouri remains in flux following a filibuster Wednesday night.

The Kansas Senate declined to pass the amended version of Senate Bill 84 sent over by the House earlier this month, but instead formed a new conference committee designed to iron out technical changes to the bill.

The bill, if enacted, would allow each of the state’s four casinos to have up to three sports-betting skins, with a tax rate of 10 percent of gross sports-betting revenue.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Missouri, sports-betting legislation was the subject of a filibuster on the Senate floor Wednesday over the absence of language permitting video gaming terminals in the state.

Senator Denny Hoskins threatened as many as 153 amendments, “one for each million dollars difference in revenue that I’m prepared to offer” during a filibuster that spanned several hours before the Senate abruptly adjourned late Wednesday night.

The debate over inclusion of video gaming terminals in sports-betting legislation has been a key sticking point in conversations in recent years and supporters had hoped to force a vote on a clean sports-betting bill without video gaming terminal language this year.

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Colorado Considers Free Bet Limits, Responsible Gambling Funding

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A bill introduced on Tuesday (April 26) by Colorado’s Democratic House Speaker Alec Garnett would fund problem gambling programs in the state, as well as reduce free-play deductions for sports-betting operators.

House Bill 1402 would also eliminate the “cash only” requirement for purchase of instant lottery games in Colorado and require state gaming regulators to operate a state-wide program to exclude certain individuals from all or certain gaming activities beginning January 1, 2023.

Garnett’s bill would use $2.5m in sports-betting taxes and license fees, and $200,000 from the state lottery, to fund state-wide responsible gambling efforts.

The bill would also cap the amount of free-play that sports-betting operators are allowed to deduct from taxable revenue at an initial 2.5 percent of total annual sports wagering handle. The deduction would decrease by a quarter percent each year, until it reaches 1.75 percent in July 2026.

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Virginia Lottery Board Issues First Casino License

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The Virginia Lottery Board issued a casino facility operators’ license to Hard Rock Bristol on Wednesday (April 27), allowing the project on the state’s border with Tennessee to become Virginia’s first casino.

The board voted unanimously 7-0 to approve the operating license for Hard Rock International, after an extensive background investigation, the board said.

“Since enacted by the 2020 General Assembly, the board’s priority for casino gaming in the Commonwealth is that it be conducted with integrity and in a responsible manager,” board chairman Ferhan Hamid said in a statement.

Hard Rock Bristol is scheduled to open a temporary facility on the site of the former Bristol Mall in July, with the full casino-resort project opening in 2024.

The Virginia Lottery continues to review applications for three more proposed casinos in Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth.

The board also voted Wednesday to amend its regulations to include casinos in the Voluntary Exclusion Program operated by the Virginia Lottery.

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Schleswig-Holstein Readies Online Casino Licensing 

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The northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein said it has opened the applications process for four possible licences for online games such as roulette, blackjack and baccarat.

"By granting permission to host online casino games, the demand for gambling is channelled towards permitted offerings", the interior ministry said in announcing the step.

A fifth 15-year licence has been reserved for the state lottery company.

Operators can submit applications between May 23 and August 15, the ministry said. The system was approved by the state's parliament in January.

Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia are so far the only German states to have announced plans to open online table games to a licensing system.

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KSA To Hunt For Underage Ads

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The Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) has said it will begin a special investigation into advertising that its licence holders may be directing to minors or 18 to 24 year-olds.

Dutch regulations specifically prohibit targeted ads at young adults over fears that they are more likely to develop a gambling addiction, even though those over the age of 18 can legally gamble.

The regulator said it will be requesting information from licensed operators to check if any emails, bonus offers, push notifications or other messages have been sent to individuals in that age group or below.

The KSA also wants social media companies to proactively report instances where they see gambling marketing aimed at young people.

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New York Senate Committee Backs iGaming Bill

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The New York Senate’s gaming committee approved a series of bills on Monday (April 25) to regulate online casino gaming and lower the effective tax rates applied to mobile sports wagering and slot machines at one land-based casino.

Approved by a vote of five in favor to none against, Senate Bill S 8412 would authorize internet gaming through two online casino skins for each of the state’s commercial and tribal casino-resorts.

The bill, authored by Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee chairman Joseph Addabbo, became the first such proposal for iGaming in New York when it was introduced last month, but is not widely expected to be passed by the full Senate and Assembly before lawmakers adjourn in June.

In other actions on Monday, the committee also approved Addabbo’s bill S 8471 to enable New York’s licensed online sportsbooks to deduct promotional credits from taxable revenue and require the state gaming commission to hold a tender process to award five additional licenses, thereby reducing the headline tax rate from 51 to 35 percent.

Meanwhile, a third bill, S 8801, would reduce the tax rate applied to slot machines at the Tioga Downs land-based casino-resort from 35 to 30 percent of revenue.

Each of the three bills was approved without opposition during a hearing lasting less than eight minutes and have been advanced for further consideration by the New York Senate Finance Committee.

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Maine Sports-Betting Bill Sent To Governor

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A Maine Senate committee on Monday (April 25) moved a tribal sovereignty bill off the table, a procedural move that sends it to Democratic Governor Janet Mills for her signature or veto.

Legislative Document 585 would restrict mobile sports-betting licenses in Maine to federally-recognized Indian tribes. Each tribe can contract with one management services provider to operate online sports betting on its behalf.

The bill includes a $200,000 fee for a four-year license for each tribe and a 10 percent tax rate on adjusted gross revenues.

In addition, ten retail sports-betting licenses would become available for casinos, tracks and off-track betting locations.

Having supported the bill in the legislature, Mills is ultimately expected to sign LD 585 even though she vetoed an earlier sports-betting bill in 2020. Messages left with the governor’s spokesman Scott Ogden were not returned on Monday.

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Vegas Golden Knights Sign Jersey Sports-Betting Sponsorship Deal

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Following in the footsteps of the Washington Capitals, the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights have announced a multi-year jersey sponsorship agreement with Circa Sports for patches to be worn on home jerseys.

The home jersey patch will be worn from the start of the 2022-23 NHL season and is the organization’s first official jersey entitlement partnership. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“From the very beginning, I have been an avid supporter of the Vegas Golden Knights,” Derek Stevens, CEO of Circa Sports, said in a statement released on Sunday (April 24).

In September, the Capitals announced that a Caesars Sportsbook patch will appear on the upper right chest of the team’s red home and blue third jerseys, in the first jersey sponsorship in one of the big four U.S. sports leagues involving a sports-betting company.

The NHL’s Jersey Advertising Program allows up to two jersey sponsors per team when separate sponsors appear on home and away jerseys.

The Golden Knights and Capitals are still considering potential deals for their away white jerseys as sports-betting ads can only be worn at home by franchises in states where sports betting is legal, per NHL rules.

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Minnesota's sports-betting bill passes through its final committee stage and just two bids are left standing in Japan as casino-resort deadline passes.

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