News In Brief: August 15-August 19, 2022

August 19, 2022
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Bremen continues its hostility towards betting shops, Veikkaus to add a watershed to its slot machines and a trio of betting exchanges to debut in New Jersey.

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Bremen Says Bookmaker Managing Director 'Unreliable'

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The German state of Bremen has said it will “drastically reduce” the number of sports-betting shops through its gambling regulations, as one managing director of four shops is deemed “unreliable”.

The managing director wanted to open three more shops in the near future, but drugs and knives were found in the shops, meaning “even if the legal origin of the funds required to set up the betting shops were proven” they cannot open.

In Bremen's gaming law, unreliable means “anyone who does not offer any guarantee that they will practice their trade properly in the future”, according to the Interior Ministry’s latest update on August 16, which is responsible for the crackdown.

“In this case, it is not absolutely necessary that you are at fault (e.g. if drugs are found on business premises). Rather, it is a security measure. Indications for this are in particular criminal offenses and administrative offences,” the ministry said.

A total of 20 betting shops have submitted the documents requested by the senator for the Interior, Ulrich Mäurer, after applications to operate the shops were rejected over money laundering fears.

At the time of writing, only three shops have been allowed to reopen in the state.

Five lawsuits have also now been received by courts against the state.

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Veikkaus to Limit Slots Hours in Supermarkets

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Veikkaus, the Finnish gambling monopoly, said it will limit playing hours of slot machines in supermarkets from September 1.

Operation will be limited to between 9am and 9pm and game menus will not be visible until visitors have passed identity checks, the company said Thursday (August 18).

Slot machines other than in grocery stores will not be included in the limited playing hours, the company said.

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Betting Exchanges Among New Market Entrants In New Jersey

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New Jersey’s online sports-betting market continues to expand ahead of the start of the 2022 NFL season, according to documents published by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) on Thursday (August 18).

Three online sportsbooks — Fubo, Prophet Exchange and Sporttrade — all received approval from the DGE earlier this month to commence so-called “soft play operations” to live test their products before a full launch.

The latter two operators are set to become the first betting exchanges launched in the U.S. market since the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling to overturn a federal ban on expanded sports wagering.

The three new operators will take the number of online sportsbook skins active in the New Jersey market to 26, with the Garden State overtaking Colorado as the most competitive market in the U.S., according to VIXIO GamblingCompliance’s U.S. Sports Betting Partnership Tracker.

At least one further sportsbook platform is also understood to be preparing to launch in New Jersey in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, in addition to the three new online betting skins, the New Jersey DGE granted approval this month for PlayStar to launch its online casino platform in the state.

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Ex-Indiana Lawmaker Sentenced In Casino Campaign Violations

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A former Indiana state senator and a former casino executive were sentenced Wednesday (August 17) to federal prison for devising and participating in an election finance scheme that illegally donated gaming company money to a politician’s failed 2016 congressional campaign.

Brent Waltz, 48, a former Republican Indiana state senator and 2016 candidate for U.S. Congress funnelled $40,500 in illegal contributions to his campaign. Those funds came from Indianapolis-based gaming company New Centaur LLC through more than a dozen straw donors and Waltz himself.

Waltz, who pleaded guilty to receiving fictitious donations and for lying and misleading the FBI, was sentenced to ten months in prison. John Keller, 72, plead guilty to causing the filing of a false tax return and was sentenced to two months in federal prison.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Keller, former vice president and general counsel of New Centaur, also known as Centaur Gaming, paid a political consultant $41,000 in corporate funds and directed him to funnel $25,000 to a local political committee in Indiana.

He also concealed the contribution by claiming on the company’s tax return that the $41,000 was a business expense. Centaur sold two Indiana casinos to Caesars Entertainment in 2018 for $1.7bn, allowing Keller and casino executive Rod Ratcliff to form Spectacle Entertainment.

Keller’s indictment in September 2020 led Indiana gaming regulators to force Spectacle to sell its Gary casino to Hard Rock International, along with its ownership of a casino project in Terre Haute.

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Tribunal Throws Out Star Entertainment Player Bans

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A Queensland tribunal has overturned bans on two gamblers imposed by The Star Entertainment Group after it found the players did not behave dishonestly acting on playing card abnormalities.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled on August 3 that the company failed to prove the men had counted cards, engaged in “edge sorting” to capitalise on card manufacturing defects, slouched to view cards as they were dealt, or colluded during play.

Star Entertainment issued the exclusion orders over events at the Star Gold Coast casino in February 2018, prompting the men to appeal the decision at a hearing in November 2020.

Tribunal member Ann Fitzpatrick found the two gamblers to be reliable witnesses and that casino staff could not reasonably believe their conduct “affected the proper conduct or integrity of gaming”.

The judge said it was impossible to determine if the playing card anomalies in this case gave rise to an unfair advantage to the players given that the cards passed casino standards and that the mathematical advantage was small.

“Noting an asymmetrical back on a card is of no use unless one knows what lies beneath,” she wrote. “Gaining any sort of ‘leg up’ in those circumstances would seem to be extraordinarily difficult.”

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AGA Announces 2022 Gaming Hall Of Fame Inductees

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The American Gaming Association (AGA) announced the Gaming Hall of Fame class of 2022 on Tuesday (August 16), featuring three individuals CEO Bill Miller said helped “transform the gaming industry in their own significant ways.”

The AGA introduced Gavin Isaacs, Virginia McDowell, and Michael Rumbolz as the newest members of the Gaming Hall of Fame, which was established in 1989.

Isaacs is the former president and CEO of Scientific Games and current chairman of Games Global, while McDowell is the former president and CEO of Isle of Capri Casinos and currently a non-executive director with Entain and co-founder of Global Gaming Women.

Rumbolz, for CEO of Everi Holdings, is currently executive chairman of the board at Everi.

“From leading casino and manufacturing operations across the country to serving in a multitude of board and advisory roles, their influence has spanned the U.S and global gaming industry, and we are all better for it,” Miller said in a statement.

The Class of 2022 will be honored during an induction ceremony at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas from October 10 to October 13.

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ICRG Receives $600,000 Grant From Bally's Corp

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The International Center for Responsible Gaming (ICRG) has received a $600,000 donation from Bally’s Corporation to support research on gambling among young adults and the usage and effectiveness of responsible gambling tools.

The IRGC will invite scientists from around the world to apply for these grants in a rigorous competition that ensures funding only the highest quality research, according to a statement announcing the donation released Monday (August 15).

The IRGC will also sponsor programming that will extend the research findings of these projects beyond academia and provide guidelines to the gaming industry for effective responsible gambling strategies.

“With this grant, Bally’s has taken a giant stride toward understanding the health risks of young adult gamblers and improving the effectiveness of existing responsible gambling tools,” said IRGC president Arthur Paikowsky.

The donation will also help fund several programs designed to educate treatment providers, responsible gambling professional, regulators and public policymakers about gambling disorder and responsible gambling.

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Hard Rock's Successful First Month In Virginia

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The Virginia Lottery released its first report Monday (August 15) on revenue generated by the state’s only operating casino in Bristol, near the border with Tennessee.

In July, Hard Rock International’s temporary casino generated some $12m in adjusted gross revenues (AGR) from slot machines and table games.

According to gaming officials, the casino’s 870 slots generated AGR of $10.23m, while 21 table games posted $1.48m in AGR for a total of $11.71m.

The Virginia Lottery noted that state law assesses a graduated tax on a casino’s AGR, or wagers minus winnings, and an 18 percent tax assessment generated over $2.1m in taxes paid to the Gaming Proceeds Fund for the first month of gambling in the state.

Of the $2.1m in taxes, $703,048, or 6 percent of AGR, was directed to the regional improvement commission, $16,873, or 0.8 percent, went to the problem gambling treatment and support fund, and $4,218, or 0.2 percent, went to the family and children’s trust fund.

The Virginia Lottery Board approved the casino license for Hard Rock’s Bristol casino in April 2022, and the temporary facility opened on July 8.

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German State Of Bremen Gives Green Light To First Bookmaker Reopening

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The German state of Bremen has approved one betting shop to reopen on Friday (August 12) and has called in help to ensure it can reach decisions on other bookmaker openings as quickly as possible.

The operator was allowed to reopen after it “was able to prove where the start-up capital for the sports betting office came from”, according to an update from the Senator for the Interior’s office.

Bremen’s Public Order Office has received documents, some “several hundred pages long” from “most of the operators” in the state, after they were forced to close their doors by the regional government last week over money laundering fears.

The Public Order Office is now going to receive help from the state’s finance department to ensure it “reaches decisions as thoroughly as possible and as quickly as possible”.

Bookmakers have reportedly filed five lawsuits since they were forced to close their doors.

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Kansas Sports-Betting Regulations Approved, Launch Date Unknown

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Kansas moved a step closer on Friday (August 12) to launching sports betting after regulators unanimously approved a set of draft regulations for sports wagering.

The decision by the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission (KRGC) to sign off on their regulations will send the rules sometime this week to state attorney general Derek Schmidt for his approval.

After Schmidt signs off on the regulations, the state’s four casinos will need to sign contracts with the Kansas Lottery before launching sports betting.

A law enacted in May allows each casino to operate land-based and mobile wagering under regulation of the lottery, with each casino receiving up to three online skins.

“The most important step is getting the contracts agreed to between the facility managers and the state of Kansas,” KRGC chairman David Moses told KSHB-TV in Kansas City, Missouri. “It’s something we’ve never done before.”

“Even though other jurisdictions have had sports wagering that doesn’t mean that we can just adopt what they’ve done.”

There is currently no launch date for sports betting in Kansas.

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NSW Toughens Casino Regulation, Creates Regulator

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The New South Wales (NSW) state parliament has passed amendments to casino legislation that create an independent casino regulator and extinguish regulatory compensation for operators.

The Casino Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 passed both houses of parliament on Thursday (August 11) with minor amendments, fulfilling the government’s promise of a “major overhaul” in upgrading regulatory controls, in line with recommendations from the Bergin Inquiry into Crown Resorts.

The changes to the Casino Control Act 1992 and the Gaming and Liquor Administration Act 2007 create the NSW Independent Casino Commission (NICC), which will exercise “unprecedented powers to monitor casino activities”, the government said in a statement.

“This marks a new era in the way casinos in NSW are allowed to operate, with new comprehensive measures targeting key issues such as money laundering and other criminal activity,” hospitality and racing minister Kevin Anderson said.

The NICC will take over some responsibilities of the current regulator, the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA), whose probes into Crown Resorts (via the Bergin Inquiry) and The Star Entertainment Group (via a pending review report) triggered purges of their boards and senior management.

The legislation also removes compensation for operators in the event of regulatory change, as well as banning junkets and adding anti-money laundering and responsible gaming provisions.

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Chile Police Raid Casino Bosses

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Last week, the National Economic Prosecutor’s Office raided the premises of executives of three Chilean Casinos.

Inside sources confirmed to Diario Financiero that the raids took place due to suspected collusion.

“I do not know why the Prosecutor’s Office assumes that these three operators are in collusion, but we are calm with the ongoing investigation,” said a casino source who wished to remain anonymous.

The casinos in question are Dreams, Enjoy, and Marina Del Sol. Dreams and Enjoy are currently in the middle of a merger, which is on pause while it awaits a green light from the National Economic Prosecutor’s Office.

They are investigating the merger over antitrust concerns. At the time the investigation was launched, the office stated: “The merged entity with the ability and incentives to reduce the quality of certain competitive variables in gaming services … could substantially reduce competition”.

If successful, the new company would control 15 of the 26 casinos in the country.

Dreams and Marina Del Sol have also all filed complaints in the past two months against online betting operators for, they claim, violating tax laws.

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Bremen continues its hostility towards betting shops, Veikkaus to add a watershed to its slot machines and a trio of betting exchanges to debut in New Jersey.

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