News In Brief: August 28-September 1, 2023

September 1, 2023
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Caesars and Rush Street have been fined in Iowa over illegal prop bets and Fanatics forges ahead with its PointsBet acquisition.

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Caesars, Rush Street Fined for Prop Bets In Iowa

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The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) has issued fines totaling $25,000 to settle complaints with Rush Street Interactive and American Wagering over incidents of illegal wagers being offered by both companies.

American Wagering, which does business as Caesars Sportsbook, agreed to pay $20,000 to settle a two-count complaint that they allowed retail and mobile proposition wagers on Super Bowl 56 between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals in February 2022.

According to the settlement agreement, on February 17, 2022, two Caesars Sportsbook customers told the IRGC that they had placed a $1,000 wager on the Super Bowl 56 coin toss using his mobile app.

An investigation also found that Caesars Sportsbook was offering bets on the coin toss at their retail locations, along with prop bets on the number of interceptions thrown by each quarterback during the game.

Caesars Sportsbook also accepted mobile and retail wagers on the outcome of the coin toss wager theough its app for Super Bowl 55 between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs.

Rush Street, which does business as BetRivers, accepted a $5,000 fine and admitted to accepting proposition bets last year on the individual performances “of an Iowa collegiate athlete involving either the University of Iowa or Iowa State University football teams.”

The IRGC’s approved wagers list makes it clear that “any wagers based upon the principal actor failing to reach a desired outcome are impermissible.”

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Fanatics Closes On Eight U.S. States In PointsBet Deal

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Fanatics Betting and Gaming, a subsidiary of Fanatics Holdings, closed on the first eight states in its acquisition of the U.S. business of PointsBet USA.

On June 30, PointsBet shareholders approved the $225m sale of its U.S. business to Fanatics.

Fanatics confirmed that as of Thursday (August 31) it had closed on its acquisition of PointsBet’s business in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania Virginia, and West Virginia.

As each state closes, PointsBet will be rebranded to “PointsBet, a Fanatics Experience.” PointsBet will be rebranded in Indiana and Illinois in the coming months, the company said.

Meanwhile, Australia-based PointsBet said Thursday it will focus on its Canadian business after selling its U.S. operations.

“We are equally excited in the outlook for our Canadian business,” chairman Brett Paton and CEO Sam Swanell said in an earnings report. “The Canadian business provides shareholders continued exposure to the North American Market through a jurisdiction that is more attractive than most U.S. states.”

“The lower capital requirements and higher operating margins benefited from lower gaming tax relative to most U.S. states create strong prospects for attractive future economics with additional provinces going live over the next two years,” they wrote.

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New Zealand Opposition Flags Offshore Online Gambling Tax

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New Zealand’s conservative National Party has released a pre-election tax policy that applies a suite of taxes to offshore online companies targeting local gamblers.

The policy, released on Wednesday (August 31), states that “offshore online casino gambling services currently benefit from a loophole where they are not required to register their earnings in New Zealand for tax purposes".

Unlike New Zealand’s land-based casinos, “offshore operators serving New Zealand customers are able to dodge these obligations”, it said.

The policy requires foreign operators to “register and report their earnings for tax purposes, with … ‘geo-blocking’ of services that do not comply with the New Zealand licensing regime”, according to the document.

The National Party would also set up a “regulatory regime” to enforce the changes, which would recover some NZ$179m ($107m) per year.

Opinion polling shows the National Party is within reach of forming a coalition government in the general election on October 14.

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Danish Police Fine Twitch Streamer for Gambling Marketing

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The Danish Gambling Authority said a Twitch streamer has accepted a 10,000 Danish krone (€1,342) fine for advertising unlicensed gambling websites.

The regulator said after it discovered the streamer marketing unlicensed websites, it reported the individual to the police.

The police agreed that the streamer had violated the law, and fined the person 10,000 krone, the amount recommended by the authority.

The episode marks the first time the Danish regulator has reported a case of illegal streaming to police, the regulator said.

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Virginia Lottery Fines PointsBet $21,000 For illegal Wagers

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The Virginia Lottery has reached a settlement agreement with PointsBet USA, which is to pay $21,000 over self-reported violations of the state’s sports-betting regulations.

PointsBet was licensed in November 2021 as a sports-betting supplier operator in Virginia on behalf of Colonial Downs Group, which operates Colonial Downs Racetrack and Rosie’s Gaming Emporium.

The company began accepting wagers in Virginia on December 15, 2021. Colonial Downs Group is owned by Churchill Downs Inc. in Louisville, Kentucky.

On several occasions since its licensure, PointsBet notified lottery officials that the company had improperly accepted wagers on known results or unauthorized sporting events.

In response, the lottery asserted that the improper wagers violated the state’s sports-betting law and regulations approved by the lottery.

“PointsBet has taken corrective measures to ensure future compliance with the sports betting law and its related regulations,” the lottery said in the agreement released Tuesday (August 29).

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Nevada Sets Date For Workshop On Technology Regulations

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The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) will host a public workshop next month to discuss potential changes in regulations that could result in more effective deployment of technology throughout the state’s gaming industry.

In a notice to licensees released Wednesday (August 30), the NGCB said the workshop will be held on September 27 and will include discussions on gaming devices, associated equipment, cashless wagering systems, and advanced technology.

“During the workshop, artificial intelligence will be one of many technology topics discussed,” said Michael Lawton, senior economic analyst with the NGCB.

The state’s current approval process was last updated in September 2015, following the passage of Senate Bill 9 which allowed the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) and NGCB to adopt regulations to encourage manufacturers to develop and deploy gaming devices that “incorporate innovative, alternative and advanced technology.”

Lawton also told VIXIO GamblingCompliance in an email that the NGC “may consider the proposed Esports Technical Advisory Committee regulations after implementing the regulatory revisions pursuant to Governor (Joe) Lombardo’s Executive Order 2023-003.”

The NGC is expected to approve several regulatory revisions at its meeting on September 21. The NGCB in early January recommended approval of regulatory amendments that would permit betting on esports, but final approval by the commission has been delayed.

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Intralot Introduces EGM Kill Switch In Victoria

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An Intralot subsidiary that monitors electronic gaming machines (EGMs) on behalf of the Victoria state government has introduced an EGM enabling and disabling option that conforms with gaming room opening hours.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Commission (VGCCC) said on Monday (August 28) that Intralot Gaming Services agreed to its request to install the on-off capability for individual machines in clubs and pubs.

“While this is a non-mandatory for venues, any decision to opt-in, or not, to the service will be a consideration in the type of regulatory action we take where we detect non-compliance with permitted hours,” the VGCCC said in a statement.

“We encourage all venue operators to opt-in to this automated service, as this will assist in mitigating the risk of non-compliance.”

The measure is one of numerous initiatives in the VGCCC’s tightening of scrutiny of land-based and online gaming segments. The regulator last week secured a A$600,000 ($386,000) court fine for top slots operator Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group over withheld pre-commitment technology for EGMs.

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Arizona Sports-Betting Market Expands, Licenses Still Available

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Arizona has expanded the number of regulated sportsbooks operating in the state by licensing bet365 to operate mobile wagering for the Ak-Chin Indian Nation, the state’s gaming regulator announced Tuesday (August 29).

The tribe was left without a mobile sports-betting deal when Fubo Sportsbook abruptly ended its operations in October, after its parent company FuboTV completed a strategic review of its operations.

The Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) still has two licenses to award professional sports franchises partnering with gaming companies. The application window for licenses opened on August 1 and closed on August 15.

“In the future,” ADG spokesman Maxwell Hartgraves said, “the department may open another application period for the remaining available licenses.”

“[Tuesday’s] announcement is the only allocated license during this application period,” Hartgraves told VIXIO GamblingCompliance in an email.

Arizona approved sports betting in late 2021, creating the opportunity for 20 licenses to be issued, with ten licenses available to the state’s Class III gaming tribes and ten to professional sports teams and facilities.

The initial group was 18, which dropped to 17 when Fubo closed.

Operators must pay a $100,000 application fee and a $750,000 fee for an event wagering operator license. Operator licenses must be renewed annually for a fee of $150,000.

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U.S. Justice Department Stresses It investigates, Prosecutes Illegal Gambling

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After more than three months, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has responded to a request by state gaming regulators to investigate offshore sportsbooks and internet casino operators, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) announced Tuesday (August 29).

In a one-page letter to NGCB chairman Kirk Hendrick, the DOJ stressed that it had undertaken, and continues to pursue, investigations into illegal gambling.

A coalition of seven state gaming regulatory bodies, including Nevada, asked the DOJ in May to prioritize targeting illegal, offshore sportsbooks and online casinos.

The other state regulators, who also received the DOJ’s letter, were from Colorado, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

Megan Bennett, intergovernmental liaison with the DOJ, wrote that the FBI is the investigative arm of the DOJ tasked with vetting allegations of violations of federal gaming laws.

“The department takes seriously the issue of illegal gambling, including illegal online gambling, and continues to successfully investigate and prosecute illegal internet gambling,” Bennett wrote. “The FBI works hard to establish and maintain strong partnerships with both public and private entities to combat illegal gaming.”

Bennett added the DOJ appreciated the “adverse impact illegal gaming has on individuals and communities and will continue to use all available tools to detect, investigate, and prosecute such illegal activity.”

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Denmark Blocks 49 Illegal Gambling Websites

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The Danish Gambling Authority (DGA) has successfully blocked 49 websites in the country for offering illegal gambling, as it revealed a plan to block websites twice a year instead of annually.

On July 14 2023, Copenhagen City Court ruled in favor of the DGA in all 49 cases that had been notified to it; however, this was not announced by the DGA until August 28. A list of all the blocked websites is available on the DGA's website.

The blocked websites mainly offer traditional casino games such as roulette, slot machines and poker, as well as betting. Thirteen of the websites are skin-betting websites.

Anders Dorph, director of the DGA, said: “It is a very important task for the Gambling Authority to ensure that Danes are not exposed to games that are offered illegally in Denmark and that do not comply with the requirements for, among other things, consumer protection laid down in gambling legislation.”

Dorph added that the DGA must also ensure gambling operators “who have a licence to offer games in Denmark can operate on the Danish market without unreasonable competition from providers who do not have to meet Danish requirements”.

Since 2012, a total of 276 illegal sites have been blocked in Denmark, according to the regulator.

The regulator uses a mix of tip-offs and its own automated search function to find potential illegal websites.

It is illegal to offer games in Denmark without a licence from the DGA or to provide gambling that targets Danish consumers.

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Richmond Referendum Challenge Rejected

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Residents of Virginia's capital city will have a second opportunity to decide whether to host a major casino-resort after a judge rejected a legal challenge against a planned November 7 referendum.

Richmond voters rejected an initial casino referendum in 2021 by a margin of around 51-49 percent.

However, the city council voted in June to hold a second ballot on the $560m-plus One Casino + Resort project of Churchill Downs Incorporated and local investment group Urban One.

A local non-profit charitable bingo operator filed a lawsuit last month seeking to block the second referendum, but a judge in Richmond Circuit Court rejected that legal challenge on Wednesday (August 23) due to a lack of standing.

Richmond was one of five cities authorized to host a casino under a 2020 gaming expansion law. Casinos have already opened in Bristol, Portsmouth and Danville.

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Caesars and Rush Street have been fined in Iowa over illegal prop bets and Fanatics forges ahead with its PointsBet acquisition.

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