News In Brief: January 16-January 20, 2023

January 20, 2023
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Massachusetts regulator scheduled to approve sports-betting ad rules, University of Colorado discontinues PointsBet referral scheme and New South Wales Premier supports proposed ban on club political donations.

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Massachusetts Poised To Approve Advertising Rules, Betting Catalog

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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) is scheduled to approve regulations pertaining to sports wagering advertising during a public meeting on Friday (January 20), according to a meeting agenda and related materials published late Thursday.

Revised advertising regulations contain few changes from an initial draft published and discussed by the five-member commission during a meeting last week.

Among other things, the advertising rules will require operators to be responsible for all advertising of sports betting by third parties, prohibit payments to advertisers based on the volume of bets placed or wager outcomes, and prohibit sportsbook employees or vendors from promoting specific bet types.

The commission has added new provisions to establish minimum criteria for responsible gaming messages, ban advertising in venues where minors are expected to make up more than 25 percent of the audience, and grant regulators the authority to require operators that violate advertising rules to henceforth submit all marketing materials for pre-approval.

The MGC is also scheduled to approve an initial catalog of allowed wagering events ahead of the launch of legal sports betting as soon as January 31.

Commission staff have recommended that regulators refrain from approving bets on esports, entertainment award shows and certain other events pending further investigation.

The staff also advised against permitting wagers on virtual match-ups or virtual sports, as requested by Massachusetts casino operators MGM, Penn Entertainment and Wynn, “due to it being more of an iGaming product rather than a sports wager.”

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Colorado Discontinues PointsBet Referral Bonus Program

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A deal between PointsBet and the University of Colorado (CU), which included incentives for the university every time it referred a player to be signed up for an account, drew national scrutiny in November after a New York Times article highlighted the affiliate marketing agreement.

PointsBet is paying CU a reported $1.6m over the course of the six-year contract for marketing placement, including advertising space at CU football and basketball games.

As part of the deal, CU would receive a $30 referral bonus each time someone signed up with PointsBet with a Colorado University code and placed a bet.

On Thursday (January 19), CU spokesman Steve Hurlbert confirmed the referral fee has been discontinued, “but our agreement with PointsBet remains in effect through June 2026, per the contract.”

Hurlbert did not offer details as to why the referral fee was discontinued, but the deal had raised questions about whether it was appropriate for CU to be benefitting from encouraging of-age students to participate in sports betting. The decision to end the referral program was first reported on Thursday by the Colorado University Independent.

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NSW Premier Supports Ban On Club Political Donations

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The Premier of New South Wales (NSW) has hinted he might introduce a ban on political donations from registered clubs, potentially damaging the lobbying power of slot machine interests.

Premier Dominic Perrottet told the Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday that his Liberal government could match a pre-election promise by the Labor party to ban such donations.

Labor has also promised to ban external pub and club advertising and reduce the number of machines state-wide.

It was not immediately clear if Perrottet’s comment includes pubs, which are distinct registered entities and host a sizable proportion of the state’s electronic gaming machines.

A growing consensus between progressive and conservative politicians over the last year on slot machine and other gaming policy bodes ill for the clubs’ formidable lobby group ClubsNSW.

ClubsNSW’s sometimes ruthless tactics and efforts at litigation have angered politicians across the spectrum and triggered demands for tough reforms from civic and religious groups and even former gaming mogul James Packer.

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Entain Accelerates Plans To Leave Unregulated Markets

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Entain, operator of Ladbrokes and bwin brands, said it is accelerating plans to exit unregulated markets.

The London-listed company said it is advancing its plan to depart from markets by the end of 2023 “where there is no clear path to market liberalization via domestic regulation”.

A spokesman said the announcement means the company will exit about eight markets, including Argentina and Iceland.

The currently unregulated markets where it will remain because it expects regulation will eventually come, include Brazil, the spokesman said.

The net gaming revenue and EBITDA changes will have no impact on previously announced forecasts, the company said.

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Saxony Casinos Becomes First State-Owned Slots Online

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This week Saxony Casinos becomes the first state-owned company in Germany to offer online slots, executives said.

So far 22 companies have been granted nationwide online slot licences by regulators, and those that have launched until now have not been state-owned.

Around 340 slot games have been approved by the regulator, according to the Joint Gaming Authority for the Federal States.

The company, Sächsische Spielbanken, has land-based casinos in Dresden, Leipzig and Chemnitz.

Casino officials believe that there is only 10 percent overlap between the company’s land-based players and those expected to play online, with the company targeting a 5 percent to 6 percent national market share.

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DraftKings Pulls DFS From Four EU Countries

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DraftKings has decided to withdraw its daily fantasy sports (DFS) product from four European Union markets, the company confirmed Wednesday (January 18).

The four markets are Austria, Germany, Ireland and Malta, where DFS will officially shut down “effective January 22”.

In a statement, DraftKings said the decision will allow the company to effectively serve its rapidly growing North American sports-betting customer base.

“While there is unquestionably a passionate fantasy sports community in these four countries and we have seen strong engagement since our 2017 launches, this decision aligns with DraftKings’ current focus on and prioritization of the North American market.”

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New York Considers Adding Five Mobile Sportsbooks

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New York Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr, a Democrat, has introduced a bill that would expand the number of mobile sports-betting operators in the state while potentially lowering the nation’s highest gaming tax rate.

Senate Bill 1962 would increase the number of operators from nine to 13 by January 31, 2024, and to 16 by January 31, 2025.

Addabbo also proposes that as the number of operators increase, New York’s 51 percent tax rate on gross gaming revenue (GGR) should decrease. According to the bill, should ten to 12 operators be licenced in New York, the tax rate would decline to 50 percent, followed by 35 percent with 14 mobile apps then to 25 percent with 15 or more.

The bill allows sports-betting operators to deduct promotional bet from their state tax bills, although Addabbo would double the license fee from $25m to $50m.

Currently, there are nine licensed mobile sportsbook operators in New York. They are: FanDuel; DraftKings; BetMGM; BallyBet; Caesars Entertainment; WynnBET; BetRivers; PointsBet; and Resorts World.

Addabbo’s bill filed Tuesday (January 17) is similar to a Senate Bill 8471 he introduced during the 2021-2022 legislative session. That bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee only to die in the Finance Committee.

This latest bill has been referred to the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee.

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Online Sports-Betting Bill Introduced In Mississippi

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After four bills died in committee last year, Republican Representative Casey Eure, chairman of the House Gaming Committee, has filed a measure to legalize mobile sports betting in Mississippi.

Mississippi casinos have had sports betting since 2018 but on-property only. Eure’s bill, House Bill 606, would grant one skin per casino with annual in-person registration and no partnerships with iGaming platforms.

The bill has been sent to the House Gaming Committee for its consideration.

As for taxes, mobile wagering would be taxed at the same level as retail sports betting.

Sports wagering is taxed at 11 percent to 12 percent of gross gaming revenue (GGR). GGR from betting is added to GGR from other gaming operations for taxation purposes.

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Spain’s Regulator Reveals Lottery Marketing Proposal

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Spain’s General Directorate for Gaming Regulation (DGOJ) opened the window to receive public comment on the draft resolution for the online marketing of lottery games.

The DGOJ will accept feedback from the general public and interested parties until March 1, 2023.

The aim of the project is to “guarantee the protection of consumers” and impose limitations on marketing.

Concerns were raised over the removal of an in-person middleman, so to speak, as online products “do not allow the traditional direct interaction with the participant, typical of marketing with a physical presence of the customer at the points of sale”, said the DGOJ.

The regulator wrote that, in turn, this led to an increase in “the pernicious effects of gambling, since it increases the risk that people who, due to their subjective condition, should not participate in gambling activities by virtue of the provisions of Law 13/2011”.

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Italy Fines Meta €750,000 For Ad Ban Breach

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The Italian Communications Regulatory Authority (AGCOM) has fined Meta Platforms Ireland Limited, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, €750,000 for violating the gambling advertising ban.

In an announcement on January 13, 2022, the gambling regulator announced its first-ever fine for a social media platform for a breach of the current gambling advertising ban.

AGCOM stated that one of the key reasons for the fine was Meta’s failure to prevent its users from targeting Italian consumers with advertising about games with cash prizes.

In addition to the fine, Meta is required to prevent its users from uploading any future content that may breach the gambling advertising ban.

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New York Debates Warnings On Gambling Advertisements

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Two New York legislators have introduced a bill to require all gambling and sports-betting advertisements in the state to include warnings about the potentially harmful and addictive effects of gambling.

Senate Bill 1550 introduced by Democrats Luis Sepulveda and Leroy Comrie on Thursday (January 12) would also require the New York State Gaming Commission to ensure that all advertisements include the state’s problem gambling hotline number (1-877-8-HOPENY).

The bill has been referred to the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee. A companion measure, Assembly Bill 118, has been referred to the Racing and Wagering Committee.

If it passes, the new rules will take effect 16 days after they become law.

Comrie justified the need for these warnings out of concern that the advent of the internet has made gambling more accessible through online betting platforms.

“As gambling becomes more easily accessed by more people, the number of lives negatively affected by gambling has also increased,” Comrie wrote. “This can lead to serious consequences for the gambler and their family.”

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Irish Football Association Chairman Wants Betting Levy Increased

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The chairman of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has called on the Irish government to increase the existing levy on betting from 2 percent to 3 percent.

Roy Barrett told local media that the estimated €1.5bn received by the horse and greyhound sector since 2001 should be increased and used to support football and other sports.

Barrett, who will step down as chairman later this year, also called on lawmakers to waive some repayments on a €7.6m loan that was granted over the last three years.

“Can the FAI financially make those payments into the future? Yes, we can. However, with limited resources all that’s doing is taking from the ability of the FAI to provide those funds back into the community be it the grassroots or whatever. That’s the reality of it,” Barrett said.

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Massachusetts regulator scheduled to approve sports-betting ad rules, University of Colorado discontinues PointsBet referral scheme and New South Wales Premier supports proposed ban on club political donations.

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