News In Brief: February 26-March 1, 2024

March 1, 2024
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North Carolina announces mobile betting licenses, discord brews in Arizona over gaming machines and Wyoming confirms intention to adopt sports-betting rules.
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North Carolina Issues First Seven Mobile Betting Licenses
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The North Carolina State Lottery Commission announced Thursday (February 29) that seven operators have been granted mobile sports betting licenses and will be able to begin registering accounts and accepting deposits Friday.

The seven interactive sports wagering operator licenses are the first to be issued by the commission ahead of the launch of legal mobile sports betting on March 11.

The brands who received licenses included FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Fanatics, bet365, ESPN Bet and Underdog.

The companies were all required to reach “written designation agreements” with North Carolina-based sports teams or facilities in order to be eligible for a mobile betting license. For example, bet365 has partnered with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets and Fanatics Betting and Gaming with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.

The commission received nine applications for mobile sports betting licenses, with the other two applications coming from Indian gaming tribes, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and the Catawba Indian Nation.

Both tribes already offer land-based gaming at their respective casino locations. The Cherokee have a partnership with Caesars Sportsbook, which received approval as a sports wagering service provider in North Carolina, while the Catawba have yet to reveal their mobile betting plans.

In a release, the commission said it expects to approve additional licenses “in the near future.”

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Arizona Tribes May Withhold Revenue Over Gambling Devices
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Arizona lawmakers are being warned that if they try to authorize historic horseracing machines (HHR), tribal communities could withhold gaming revenues owed to the state, according to an opinion issued by the state attorney general. 

Navajo Senator Theresa Hatathlie, a Democrat, requested the opinion after a bill that was introduced in last year’s session by Republican Senator Sonny Borrelli ultimately failed.

In a formal opinion, Attorney General Kris Mayes wrote that in the amended tribal-state gaming compact signed in 2021, tribes have the exclusive right to operate HHR machines in Arizona. 

The amended compact signed in 2021 legalized land-based and mobile sports betting, fantasy sports and keno. 

“Consequently, it remains true that any legislative authorization of HHR devices would permit a tribal party to the compact to exercise their rights under the compact to be released from certain gaming limitations and reduce the tribe’s gaming-proceed contributions to the state,” Mayes wrote. 

Historic horseracing, also known as instant racing, allows a gambler to place a wager on the outcome of previously run horse race by choosing a horse identified by a number.

The primary difference between HHR and a slot machine is that instead of using a random number generator, HHR machines are a type of pari-mutual wagering.

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Wyoming To Adopt Final Sports Betting Rules
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The Wyoming Gaming Commission has issued a notice of “intent to adopt” amending sports betting rules that were approved by the state legislature last year, the commission confirmed in an email Thursday (February 29). 

During the 2021 session, the legislature passed the Online Sports Wagering Act, which authorized online sports betting in Wyoming. There are no retail sportsbooks in the state.

The amendments to the sports-betting rules clarify several terms, including who constitutes “key personnel” and what a “critical component” is in the general provisions. They also establish that a “key personnel” license is valid for five years with a $250 fee.

In addition, an amendment extends the time the commission has to consider applications from 60 to 90 days, while another clarifies that sports-betting operators can carry over losses for one month only, and one removes a section that had allowed operators to request that new markets be added to the betting menus. 

Currently, there are four legal sportsbook operators, and they are Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International, FanDuel and DraftKings. Wyoming’s law requires a minimum of five operators in the state, with the commission accepting applications.

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Nevada Gaming Control Board Updates On Cyberattack
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The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) issued an update on Wednesday (February 28) concerning a security incident last month that took down the agency’s public-facing website.

In a statement, the NGCB said an investigation determined that no personal information was accessed or acquired by any unauthorized persons as a result of the incident.

“Upon becoming aware of the incident, NGCB agents promptly took steps to investigate the situation, and secured the website in accordance with NGCB’s established protocols.”

The NGCB said it chose to shut down the existing website and transitioned to a new website platform under the guidance of the Nevada Office of the Chief Information Officer. 

“The security of the NGCB’s information systems is a top priority. Accordingly, the NGCB will continue working diligently to maintain such security.”

The NGCB website was taken offline by a cyberattack on January 25. No further information was released by the state’s gaming regulatory agency. 

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Tax Cut For Iowa Casinos Advances
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A bill to lower the tax rate on casinos’ gross gaming revenue has had some initial success in the Iowa legislature, but whether there is enough legislative support for any gaming tax cut remains to be seen.

House Study Bill 719 would lower the graduated tax rate that currently stands at 22 percent for casinos that generate at least $3m in gross gaming revenue (GGR) from slot machines and table games. Under the bill, the tax rate would decrease a percentage point each year, ending at 19 percent in fiscal 2027.

Iowa currently has 19 casinos that generated more than $4bn in revenue in fiscal year 2023, according to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. 

The bill, proposed by Republican Representative Bobby Kaufmann, was approved Monday (February 26) by a 2-0 vote in the House Ways and Means subcommittee. Kaufmann also chairs the House Ways and Means Committee.

“We’re lowering taxes for individuals, we’re lowering taxes for corporations, but we’re not lower taxes for casinos. It just doesn’t seem fair,” said Republican Representative Jane Bloomingdale. 

Radio Iowa reported that there was concern among the members of the subcommittee that reducing casino taxes would cut the amount of money deposited in the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund.

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PGA Tour Focuses On Responsible Advertising, Gambling
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The PGA Tour announced Tuesday (February 27) that it has joined the Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising, while also renewing its position within the leadership circle of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).

Created by the National Football League and FOX broadcasting in 2023, the Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising is a voluntary organization overseeing a responsible approach to advertising.

“With the proliferation of sports betting in the United States, the PGA Tour remains committees to establishing a safe and healthy marketplace for consumers,” Scott Warfield, PGA Tour vice president, gaming, said in a statement.

Warfield said renewing its position with NCPG was about continuing the tour’s “mission to educate fans on the merits of gambling responsibly and the resources available to address problem gambling issues.” 

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Queensland Suppressed Star Casino Report
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The Queensland state government buried a 2019 report it commissioned into Star Entertainment Group’s Queen’s Wharf integrated resort that found the project would impose almost A$720m ($470m) in “annual social costs”.

The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) report said the Queen’s Wharf project would worsen problem gambling in the region, estimating that problem gamblers in state capital Brisbane were responsible for 20 to 30 percent of revenue at Star's Treasury casino.

The report was obtained by the Brisbane Times after a freedom of information application.

Predating the coronavirus pandemic but coinciding with Beijing’s crackdown on Chinese nationals gambling overseas, the report disputed company expectations for overseas VIP patronage, stating that 85 percent of customers would hail from Queensland, the Times reported on Friday (February 23).

Additional problem gambling generated by the casino would add more than A$18m to A$700m in “annual social costs”, it said.

The burying of the report triggered researcher objections and was followed by the axing of a wider QUT project examining the casino’s impacts.

Exposure of the report follows the release this month of a negative Queensland Audit Office review of the state government's gambling harm strategy.

It found the Department of Justice and attorney general’s "regulatory program is not effective in holding the gambling industry to account … primarily due to the lack of a mandated code of practice, limited risk assessments, and inadequate compliance activities".

“Overall, the department does not know whether its existing strategies have been effective in reducing gambling-related harm in Queensland.”

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Nevada Amends Junket Regulations
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The Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) has signed off on several amendments to a regulation governing how casinos report activities related to registered independent agents that attract high-rollers to the state’s casinos.

Without debate, the five-member commission voted unanimously on Thursday (February 22) to approve amendments to Regulation 25 on independent agents. The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) recommended the changes during its meeting on January 10.

“The changes are very straightforward,” said John Michela, senior deputy attorney general. “The board would like to reduce the reporting requirements for independent agency.”

Instead of submitting annual reports to the NGCB, licensees will be required to keep records of their registered independent agents, commonly known as junkets, and have that information available for inspection by the board during audits.

Michela said the amendments were effective upon NGC approval.

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North Carolina announces mobile betting licenses, discord brews in Arizona over gaming machines and Wyoming confirms intention to adopt sports-betting rules.

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