News In Brief: April 3-April 6, 2023

April 6, 2023
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Curaçao minister promises industry tour, Missouri sports-betting bill pulled and Crown Resorts data emerges on the dark web.

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Curaçao Minister To Routinely Meet With Industry

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Curaçao’s minister of finance said he plans to set up a working committee to plan an exhibition or conference in the island nation, as he announced plans to meet with industry executives every six weeks.

Minister Javier Silvania urged key industry executives to unite, “so that one point of view can be taken by the stakeholders in the future”, the ministry said in a press release.

He will meet with industry officials on a “rotational basis” in order for as many in the industry to give input as possible, the ministry said.

In February, the minister promised to have online gambling legislation in place by the end of June.

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Novamedia Says It Has Surrendered Dutch Gambling Licence

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Novamedia, which runs the Postcode Lottery, said it has relinquished its Dutch online gambling licence as “unfit for fundraising”.

The move comes as restrictions on targeted advertising are set to take effect in the Netherlands on July 1.

The Dutch online gaming market is “rightfully so getting more tightly regulated, which makes it unfit to raise funds”, the company said in a statement.

Instead it will “continue exploring opportunities for innovation” in lotteries, and “for the time being, to make no further investment in the opportunities that online gaming could offer in the Netherlands”.

It will also explore the possibility of applying for licences in new markets, the company said.

A unit of the company received a Dutch online gambling licence a little more than a year ago.

Postcode Lottery Group is active in five European countries, including the UK and Sweden.

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Senate Tables Missouri Sports-Betting Bill

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After several hours of contentious debate on Wednesday (April 5), Republican Senator Tony Luetkemeyer’s request that his bill legalizing sports betting in Missouri be pulled from the Senate floor and placed on the informal calendar was granted.

It is unclear if the Senate will take up Luetkemeyer’s bill again.

Senate Bill 30 would legalize retail and mobile sports wagering, as well as establishing designated sports districts in areas surrounding stadiums in which professional teams play their home games. Those teams, including the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues, could partner with gaming companies to offer mobile wagering within the districts.

The Senate approved several amendments during eight hours of debate Wednesday, including increasing the sports-betting tax rate from 12 percent to 15 percent. Luetkemeyer had originally sought a 10 percent tax rate.

Another amendment approved by senators requires a $4 fee for casinos for every two-hours for customers who place wagers online.

Among the amendments defeated was a proposal to allow kiosks in local bars, as well as an amendment to put video lottery terminals (VLTs) into the bill. The amendment, which was defeated by a vote of 11-20, would have capped VLTs at three per establishment.

Both Senators Karla May, a Democrat, and Republican Denny Hoskins lobbied to legalize VLTs, while also eliminating unregulated and untaxed grey-market machines in Missouri.

Lawmakers also defeated another amendment to put sports betting on the ballot in the November 2024 election.

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Tennessee Senate Committee Advances Sports Wagering Tax Reform

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A Tennessee Senate committee has approved legislation that would tweak the state’s sports-betting law to include a tax on handle rather than on adjusted gross revenue.

The Senate’s Ways and Means Committee voted Wednesday (April 5) to approve an amended version of Senate Bill 475 which would change the state’s wagering tax from a 20 percent tax on adjusted revenues to a 2 percent tax on all wagering handle.

The move, legislators say, is designed to solve the issue of operators failing to meet regulatory requirements to hold at least 10 percent of handle.

Mary Beth Thomas, executive director of the state’s Sports Wagering Advisory Council (SWAC), which regulates betting, said at a March meeting that nine operators failed to meet the requirement in 2022.

The bill would also eliminate the state’s requirement for operators to use official league data to settle in-play wagers. Although many states have some form of official data rules, Tennessee’s is one of the strictest in that unlike other states, it outright requires operators to use the data rather than requiring leagues to first submit a request.

Several smaller operators submitted requests to the SWAC earlier this year requesting to use alternate data feeds citing the high cost of official data for the NFL.

The bill will progress to the Senate Select Calendar Committee for scheduling. A companion bill, House Bill 1362, was “placed behind the budget" in the House, which means it cannot be taken up by the chamber until it hears and passes the state budget.

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Kansas Senate Passes Mobile Tribal Sports-Betting Bill

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A bill that would allow federally-recognized tribes in Kansas to negotiate compacts with the governor to offer mobile sports-betting state-wide has been passed by the Senate but not before being amended by lawmakers.

The Senate substituted Senate Bill 322 for House Bill 2058 passed Tuesday (April 4) by a vote of 29 to 10 after senators approved a floor amendment to remove the exemption in the Kansas Indoor Clear Air Act, making casino floors or racetracks smoke free.

The bill now heads to Democratic Governor Laura Kelly for her signature.

On Monday, the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs approved an amendment to distribute tax revenue from Historic Horseracing (HHR) machines to the Kansas Horse Breeding Development Fund and the Horse Fair Racing Benefit Fund. HHR is taxed at 3 percent, but the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission has yet to license any gaming facilities.

Whitney Damron, a lobbyist for Penn Entertainment’s Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, told the committee on Monday that after the previous hearing there was a lot of discussion about what the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) will and will not allow when it comes to mobile sports betting.

“So for that reason, our client got to looking at it and you know what the original bill is, is probably more acceptable than everything we were trading back and forth,” Damron said. “Our position is we are going to accept the bill the way it was drafted."

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Crown Resorts Data Released On Dark Web

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Australian casino operator Crown Resorts on Wednesday (April 5) said a “small number of files” relating to employees and customers has been placed on the dark web after a ransomware attack.

Crown said the ransomware group obtained a “limited number of Crown files” as part of a global attack on the third-party file transfer service GoAnywhere, including “employee time and attendance records and some membership numbers from Crown Sydney”.

It said the files did not include or compromise employee bank names, tax, salary or other personal information, and that no personal data of Crown Sydney customers was accessed by the group.

The Crown statement did not state what demands the ransomware group made, if any. The company first reported the data breach on March 27.

“We are proactively notifying all impacted individuals and are updating membership numbers of those affected out of an abundance of caution,” it said. “Crown continues to work with law enforcement and our regulators in relation to this cybercrime.”

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Japan Delays IR Licences Outcome As Elections Loom

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Japanese central government officials have delayed the awarding of integrated resort (IR) licences until after local elections this month, the Kyodo News agency reported on March 29.

The two remaining bids for an IR licence are in Osaka and Nagasaki prefectures, with the MGM Resorts International consortium in Osaka facing hostility among candidates for tandem elections for governor of Osaka prefecture and mayor of Osaka city.

The delay seeks to “avoid influencing” the outcome of the election, Kyodo cited unnamed officials as saying.

Tension over Osaka’s IR candidacy is also reflected in accelerating local media coverage of problems with casinos and gambling addiction, with the Osaka Nichinichi Shimbun daily publishing a two-part review of economic and problem gambling issues on March 31 and April 6.

The two rounds of Osaka elections will be held this Sunday and on April 23. The Kyodo report did not provide a revised date for the central government’s IR licence announcement.

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Entain Aquires Sports and Information Company

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Entain said it has paid $150m to acquire 365scores, a scores and sports media company.

It provides scores and sports information, social content, and free-to-play games, with about 15m active users, the London-listed company said on April 5.

The deal also includes contingent payments of up to $10m, said Entain, whose brands include Ladbrokes, Coral and Sportingbet.

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Texas Gambling Bills Edge Forward

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Two sets of legislation to authorize land-based casino-resorts and mobile sports betting were approved on Monday (April 3) by the Texas House of Representatives’ State Affairs Committee.

House Joint Resolution 155 and House Bill 2843 would together provide for the operation of up to eight destination-resort casinos in specific areas of Texas, under the regulatory authority of a newly-formed state gaming commission.

Meanwhile, House Joint Resolution 102 and House Bill 1942 would allow for a dozen online sports-betting licenses to be awarded by the Texas Lottery Commission to the designated partners of the state’s major pro sports teams.

The successful votes follow a lengthy hearing last month by the State Affairs Committee and mark a step forward for gambling expansion in Texas, as similar proposals to authorize casinos and sports betting failed to clear the committee stage.

Still, the committee’s approval by a reported margin of 9-3 is just the first step in a long legislative process. The bills would also have to be approved by both the full House and Senate, with the accompanying constitutional resolutions requiring a two-thirds majority in both chambers, as well as approval by Texas voters in a state-wide referendum.

The Texas legislature will remain in session until May 29.

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Crown Melbourne Gamblers Ordered To Take Breaks

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The Victoria state gaming minister has ordered casino operator Crown Resorts to implement Royal Commission-recommended time limits on gamblers at the flagship Crown Melbourne.

Casino, gaming and liquor regulation minister Melissa Horne ordered the property to enforce 15-minute rest breaks for all customers who gamble continuously for three hours.

Horne’s press release on Monday (April 3) added that customers who gamble for 12 hours in a 24-hour period must break for 24 hours before being allowed to resume gambling, while no customer will be permitted to gamble for more than 36 hours within seven days.

“Further guidance for responsible gambling staff is also included in the direction, detailing how and when they should interact with a person demonstrating observable signs of gambling harm,” it said.

“This direction reflects my expectations that Crown must aim to be a global leader in the reduction of gambling harm – or lose their licence,” Horne said.

Crown, which is halfway through a two-year probationary period under a government-appointed special manager, must fully implement the direction within six months.

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Curaçao minister promises industry tour, Missouri sports-betting bill pulled and Crown Resorts data emerges on the dark web.

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