News In Brief: February 14-February 18, 2022

February 18, 2022
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More French teenagers are gambling, according to a survey by the national regulator, with very high exposure to advertising a key motivating factor.

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French Youth Gambling On The Rise

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More than 80 percent of French 15-17 year olds are being exposed to gambling ads and around 35 percent of them say they have gambled at least once in the past year.

A survey by gambling regulator ANJ found that older teenagers who gamble are mostly playing scratchcards, but around 24 percent of those who say they have made a wager are sports betting and half used the internet to gamble.

The research also estimated that 7.6 percent of all 15-17 year olds have a problem with excessive gambling.

ANJ president Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin said: “Gambling is infiltrating more and more into the daily life of minors, relayed by advertising and by a certain complicity of parents. Whether online or in the physical world, combating underage gambling is now a major public policy issue because, as we know, the earlier gambling begins, the greater the risk of addiction. The ANJ is determined to mobilize all its tools to vigorously fight against these practices, including through sanctions."

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Netherlands Votes For Ad Ban Yet Again

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Disgruntled Dutch MPs have for the third time voted for a non-binding motion calling for a ban on advertising for “high risk” games, including most casino titles.

The vote does not compel the government to act, but increases pressure on ministers that have already promised a review of government policy due in April.

MPs are looking for action to be taken before April, when a number of major online gambling companies so far excluded by “cooling off” rules enter the market, over fears gambling advertising in the country will become even more intense.

The vote came as the Netherlands Gambling Authority announced it had issued a further online gambling licence to ZEbetting & Gaming Nederland.

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Amended Brazil Bill Proposes State-By-State Online Licensing

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A closely watched gambling bill in the lower house of Brazil’s Congress was amended on Monday (February 14), ahead of an anticipated vote on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies as soon as next week.

The updated bill is largely unchanged from an earlier version from December in terms of land-based casino and bingo operations.

However, it now incorporates fixed-odds betting within a new national gambling framework and would revoke a December 2018 lottery law that first legalized sports betting and remains in the process of being implemented.

That would mean Brazilian states could no longer proceed with offering sports betting through their lotteries.

Instead, a new national regulator would award licences for sports betting and online gaming on a state-by-state basis, with up to 45 licensees able to operate in populous Sao Paulo but no more than one operator for every million inhabitants of Brazil’s other 26 states.

Sports betting and online gaming operators would be required to have a minimum share capital of R$100m (approximately US$19.5m), the same as for casino-resorts. They would also be required to pay a licensing fee of R$600,000 for each "skin" or web address they operate. Gross gaming revenue would remain taxed at a proposed rate of 17 percent.

Chamber Speaker Arthur Lira last week said that Bill 442/1991 was ready to be voted on by deputies “at any moment”, although the proposal’s author would be continuing to fine-tune the measure.

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Ad Plans Critiqued In Netherlands

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The Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) has told all but one of its online licensees to change their advertising plans, or risk enforcement.

The regulator did not name any companies, but said that three of the 11 companies licensed at the time of the investigation had plans to advertise in places like family TV programs MarbleMania and the official website of Disney character Donald Duck.

Seven others were found to have been planning “less serious” deviations from the law, but were nonetheless told to change their plans.

The final licensee received just a recommendation.

Separately the regulator announced on Tuesday (February 15) that it had issued new approvals to two companies that are part of Dutch gambling provider JOI Gaming. It brings the total number of online licence holders to 14.

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MPs Decry GAMSTOP Affordability Stewardship

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Frequent gambling campaigners and heads of the UK parliamentary group on gambling harm, Iain Duncan Smith and Carolyn Harris, have launched a broadside against plans for self-exclusion provider GAMSTOP to run the trial of a single customer view.

Writing in The Times newspaper, the MPs complained that GAMSTOP is an industry funded service that was selected after the Gambling Commission had made the mistake of handing control over the data-sharing trial to the industry.

“In short, an industry that has endlessly resisted the introduction of an independent affordability system has now been handed responsibility by the regulator to assess its own customers, in partnership with an entity which is funded by the same industry,” they wrote.

“It beggars belief that so many of those who have been harmed by the gambling industry will now have their lives handed back to the gambling industry that was responsible for the harm in the first place.”

If GAMSTOP fails to hit a March deadline for the affordability project, the government should step in to take control of the project, Harris and Duncan Smith said.

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California Tribes Support Online Sports-Betting Measure

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The California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) announced its support Tuesday (February 15) for an amended online sports-betting initiative supported by four prominent gaming tribes that would allow tribes to offer state-wide mobile sports wagering.

The proposal would allow tribes to offer mobile wagering even if federal courts find that to be impermissible under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988, granting tribes the option of operating online sports betting subject to state regulation, “entirely off of Indian lands” and not subject to IGRA.

The proposed initiative would also entitle tribes to amend their gaming compacts to include craps, roulette, and retail sportsbook at their brick-and-mortar casinos.

“From CNIGA’s point of view, tribal operators, who are regulated at three levels of government, are the most natural fit to conduct sports wagering, a right only recently conferred on all 50 states,” said chairman James Siva.

“After out-of-state commercial operators entered their own ballot initiative, some of our tribes thought a second initiative was needed to counter what we view as an aggressive expansion of commercial gaming into the California gaming market.”

The vote on February 10 does not alter CNIGA’s previous support for the retail-only tribal sports-betting initiative that has already qualified for the November 8, 2022 ballot.

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Wynn Resorts Sells Encore Boston Harbor Real Estate

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Wynn Resorts will sell all the land and real-estate assets of Encore Boston Harbor to Realty Income for $1.7bn in cash, the gaming company announced Tuesday (February 15).

Wynn will continue to operate the property and will enter into a triple-net lease agreement with an annual rent of $100m and an initial term of 30 years, with one 30-year tenant renewal option.

The gaming company will retain its 13-acre developable land on the eastside of the Encore Boston Harbor, on a portion of which the company plans to build a parking structure and other non-gaming amenities.

Wynn has secured an option to sell the related land and real-estate assets to Realty Income for up to $20m of additional rent for up to six years following the closing of the transaction.

The transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter.

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Bet365 Begins Business In Buenos Aires

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Bet365 has launched a regulated offering in Argentina’s neighbouring jurisdictions of Buenos Aires Province and the autonomous capital city of Buenos Aires.

The operator joins Betsson and BetWarrior in the province, with that pair and four other providers including Codere also live in Buenos Aires City.

Both jurisdictions passed laws to regulate online betting and gaming in late 2018, with the province limiting its market to just seven licensees and requiring international operators to enter into an investment partnership with an Argentine company.

Bet365 has partnered with bingo hall operator Pasteko S.A. to be licensed in both the province and city.

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Ontario Adopts Standards For Land-Based Sports Betting

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The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has amended its regulatory standards for land-based gaming and lottery games to accommodate single-event sports betting.

The updated rules, which accompany those already put in place for Ontario’s forthcoming online gambling market, include provisions on accepted bet types, integrity monitoring and anti-money laundering. A further change will enable equipment used to support land-based gaming activities in Ontario to now be located outside the province.

For lottery-operated sports betting, neither in-play nor peer-to-peer wagering will be permitted, while no more than C$100 can be wagered on a single bet.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation began offering single-game sports betting across its lottery retailer network earlier this month, having deployed a new online sportsbook platform in August. Exactly how single-game sports betting will be implemented in Ontario’s land-based casinos has yet to be determined.

Single-game sports betting became possible last year after the Canadian parliament passed a bill to remove a previous prohibition from the country’s Criminal Code.

Including Ontario, single-game betting is being offered in all provinces apart from Saskatchewan, with Nova Scotia joining late last week prior to the Super Bowl.

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Nevada Considers Use Of Cloud Computing For Gaming Systems

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Caesars Entertainment has submitted a letter to regulators in support of an Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM) petition to amended Nevada gaming regulations to allow the use of cloud-based operating services.

“These proposed changes will allow gaming companies to modernize computer functions that will operate more efficiently and affordably while preserve the integrity of the state’s regulatory oversight,” wrote Jeffrey Hendricks, senior vice president and assistant general counsel with Caesars.

The changes to regulations would allow “parts of games, gaming devices, cashless wagering, race and sports book pool operations to be conducted at locations that are not on the premises of a licensed gaming establishment.”

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) is scheduled to host a workshop on Wednesday (February 16) to discuss the proposals.

Hendricks told the NGCB that Caesars is currently using cloud-based services in 14 states.

The use of cloud-based computing would provide greater disaster protection and allow for scalability as sports betting increases and Las Vegas hosts the Super Bowl in 2024.

“If these changes are not adopted, we will have to use on-site servers that do not perform as well as cloud-based systems,” Hendricks said.

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Governor Candidate Says Legalize Sports Betting In South Carolina

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Former Democratic U.S. Congressman Joe Cunningham, who is running for governor of South Carolina, believes it is time for the state to legalize sports betting.

“Let’s be honest, sports betting is already happening in South Carolina,” Cunningham said on his campaign’s Twitter page. “It’s just underground, unregulated, and brings in no tax revenue for the state.”

Cunningham said legalizing wagering on games “simply provides people more freedom while also generating revenue for our schools and roads.”

Sports betting is legal at two Harrah’s Cherokee casinos in North Carolina, while a bill allowing mobile wagering on professional, college, amateur and electronic sports passed the North Carolina Senate by a 26-19 vote in August and awaits a vote in the House of Representatives.

The only gambling currently allowed in South Carolina is the state lottery.

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Firm Reeled In Over Danish AML Failures

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Gambling company Reel has been reprimanded in Denmark over anti-money laundering (AML) failures.

The Danish Gambling Authority said Reel had failed to properly check the source of funds for a player who deposited approximately DKK2.4m (€323,000) into their gambling account across 2019 and 2020.

Only once the player was selected at random by the regulator did Reel carry out full checks, but still allowed the gambler to continue betting even though their deposit amounts far exceeded their salary, the authority said.

“Reel should therefore have had a suspicion or reason to suspect that the player's transactions could be related to money laundering,” the regulator said.

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Kentucky Unlikely To Legalize Sports Betting

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For the fourth time, Republican state Representative Adam Koenig will try to get a sports-betting bill through the Kentucky General Assembly, but opponents say any bill is dead on arrival.

Koenig said he is still putting the final touches on his bill.

“There are 30 states and the District of Columbia that feature live, legal sports betting,” Koenig said in a floor speech on Friday (February 11). “With three more set to join, with one of them Ohio, which will leave us almost surrounded when they go live.”

Despite Koenig’s efforts, a family group opposed to legalized gambling in Kentucky for years says it is not going to happen this year either.

In a statement on Saturday (February 12), the Family Foundation said if the sports-betting bill gambling proponents say they are going to introduce in the legislature is similar to their 2020 bill, it will be “dead on arrival.”

“We don’t sense any desire on the part of state lawmakers to expand gambling in this state two years in a row,” said Martin Cothran, a spokesman for the group.

Last year, the Kentucky legislature approved Senate Bill 120 that amended sections of state law regarding the definition of pari-mutuel wagering to allow for historic racing machines. Lawmakers were forced to act after the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled some slots-like historic racing machines in the state were illegal.

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BetMGM Launches Sports Betting In Puerto Rico

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BetMGM, which formed a partnership with Casino del Mar in September 2021, has launched Puerto Rico’s first regulated sports-betting platform at the casino’s La Concha resort, the company announced Friday (February 11).

BetMGM, a 50-50 partnership between MGM Resorts International and Entain, is accepting wagers at the resort in San Juan through 12 betting kiosks and five betting windows.

A full-scale BetMGM retail sportsbook is set to open at the resort later this year. BetMGM also plans to launch a mobile app in Puerto Rico later in the year.

“This is a monumental day for BetMGM as it marks the launch of our first operation outside of the U.S. mainland,” said CEO Adam Greenblatt.

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Casinos Excluded From Key Macau Land Plot

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A large plot of land once coveted by Las Vegas Sands to complete its “Cotai Strip” of casino-resorts in Macau has been zoned for commercial use and not entertainment, drastically reducing available plots for new gaming properties.

Macau’s government on Monday (February 14) announced that the plot of land in Cotai district previously known as “Parcels 7 and 8” must be used for commercial purposes until the year 2040, ruling out gaming until well after the next set of casino concessions expire in around 2032.

The plot is opposite Las Vegas Sands’ The Parisian integrated resort and Melco Resorts and Entertainment’s Studio City property and has remained all but fallow since Cotai was reclaimed from the sea some 20 years ago.

A map published in the government Gazette on Monday shows the land coloured red, or for commercial use, instead of the purple “tourism and entertainment” designation that includes casino properties.

The map also shows no substantial increase in land available for casinos, with an island of reclaimed land in Macau’s northeast only providing for residential zoning, public land and a small commercial zone.

Las Vegas Sands’ application for a land concession for Parcels 7 and 8 was rejected in late 2010 and the company withdrew its appeal against that decision in mid-2012.

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More French teenagers are gambling, according to a survey by the national regulator, with very high exposure to advertising a key motivating factor.

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