News In Brief: January 30-February 3, 2023

February 3, 2023
A Dutch illegal online casino owes tens of millions to the state, a sports-betting bill makes unprecedented progress in Missouri and Aruze moves to restructure its US business.


Infamous Dutch Online Casino Must Repay Millions


Individuals convicted of running an illegal Dutch-headquartered online casino years before the nation opened its market to online licensing have been told they must repay €24m to the state.

Sheriff Gaming and many of its staff were found guilty in 2018 of illegally offering online casino games in the Netherlands, with its top executives sentenced to two years in prison.

Now a new ruling has confirmed the amount they owe to the exchequer in unpaid taxes while operating an online casino that was, at the time, in defiance of the monopoly held by state-owned Holland Casino.


Mississippi Mobile Sports Betting Moves Forward, At Last


Legislation to enable online sports betting in Mississippi was passed out of committee for the first time on Tuesday (January 31).

Various bills to expand Mississippi’s sports-betting market beyond its current footprint of sportsbook operations in land-based casinos have been introduced in the House and Senate each year since 2019, without ever clearing the first hurdle.

House Bill 606 was heavily amended before its approval by the House Appropriations Committee, however.

Initially proposing to permit mobile sports wagering via Mississippi casinos, the revised bill now would merely create an 11-member task force to study online sports betting and present policy recommendations to the state legislature by a deadline of October 15, 2023.

To become law, the study law also must pass the full House prior to a February 9 deadline before being considered by the Mississippi Senate.

“For the last several years we’ve been working on a mobile sports betting bill, and at this time we felt it was the proper thing to put this task force together, then hopefully come next year and have a good mobile sports betting bill that this House can pass,” Republican bill sponsor Casey Eure told the Clarion-Ledger newspaper.


Aruze Gaming's U.S. Business Files Bankruptcy Petition


Aruze Gaming, a Las Vegas-based slot machine manufacturer and U.S. division of Aruze Gaming Global, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Nevada as part of a company-wide restructuring plan, which included U.S. president Robert Ziems leaving the company.

In a statement, Aruze said Yugo Kinoshita, CEO of Aruze Gaming Global, will be taking over day-to-day operations of the company while the board searches for a replacement.

Aruze said the filing was part of an effort to restructure because of a “recent garnishment judgement against Aruze resulting from a separate judgement against Aruze’s shareholder.”

The company said it intends to continue operating normally.

“We fully understand the implications associated with this action, but we believe this is the best way for Aruze to maintain the overall health of our business,” Kinoshita said.

Kinoshita stressed that the “restructuring has no reflection on the health of Aruze.”

“We’re proud of the advances we have made to establish Aruze as a casino mainstay,” he added. “As we progress through this process, we are assured that Aruze will emerge as an even stronger company."


Sports-Betting Bill To Be Introduced In Minnesota


Republican state Senator Jeremy Miller plans to introduce the Minnesota Sports Betting Act early next week in an effort to reach a bipartisan effort to legalize sports betting in the state, a spokeswoman for the senator confirmed Wednesday (February 1).

Miller is waiting for a draft of his proposal before he introduces it in the Senate.

“It’s time to authorize sports betting in Minnesota,” Miller said in a statement. “As other states move to authorize sports betting, Minnesota is falling behind. We are the only state in the region where it remains fully illegal to bet on sports.”

Miller stressed that his proposal was “fair and responsible.” The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association would not comment until it has seen the bill.

He released a few of the bill’s details on Tuesday (January 31).

The bill would allow Minnesota’s 11 tribes to provide retail sports betting at their casinos, while the state’s two racetracks would have the option of offering retail wagering. Each of Minnesota’s professional sports teams would have the option to offer retail wagering on-site at their stadiums or arenas.

In terms of mobile wagering, each tribe would be eligible for one primary license to operate mobile sports betting, but would also have the option to receive one more mobile license to partner with a professional team or racetrack.

The tribes could utilize the primary license, the partnership license, or both. Miller said tax revenue from sports betting would be split equally between tax relief for charities, support for mental health and problem gambling, major sporting events, and for grants to support youth sports.


U.S. Government Awards Detained NagaWorld Union Boss


The detained leader of a Cambodian casino union has been named by the U.S. State Department as one of ten recipients for the annual Global Human Rights Defender Award.

The State Department said in a statement on Thursday (February 2) that Chhim Sithar, leader of the Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at the NagaWorld casino precinct, had defended hundreds of sacked colleagues “amid harassment and her arrest in 2022”.

The statement said the “lucrative” casino complex is “one of the most politically connected businesses in Cambodia”.

Sithar remains in pre-trial detention after being charged with violations of bail conditions.

“We applaud Ms. Sithar’s recognition as a 2022 Human Rights Defender,” U.S. ambassador to Cambodia W. Patrick Murphy said in a separate statement.

“She is a courageous and tenacious labor union leader who peacefully advocates for the rights of Cambodian workers.”

NagaWorld operator NagaCorp and the Cambodian government have been in dispute with hundreds of protesting former employees since late 2021, when the company sacked around 1,300 staff.


Pennsylvania Lawmakers Debate Legalizing Esports Betting


A Pennsylvania lawmaker plans to introduce legislation to legalize esports betting.

In a memo to his House colleagues, state Representative Ed Neilson, a Democrat, said the state should “quickly add esports to our gambling portfolio.”

“Last year, the esports industry was valued at $1.1bn worldwide,” Neilson said. “In the coming years, it is estimated that the esports industry has the potential to generate nearly $1.8bn in economic activity.”

He noted that legalizing wagering on esports would bolster the state’s economy and “the attendant tax revenue.”

Neilson introduced a similar bill, House Bill 1580, to legalize esports betting last session. His proposal was referred to the House Gaming Oversight Committee but was not considered before the legislature adjourned its 2022 session on November 30.

As of Monday (January 30), Neilson had yet to introduce his latest esports betting bill.


Vermont Considers Legalizing Sports Betting


A Vermont lawmaker has introduced a bill to legalize sports betting and create a state-controlled New Hampshire-style competitive bidding process overseen by the state Department of Liquor and Lottery.

House Bill 127 would direct the Department of Liquor and Lottery’s commissioner to negotiate and authorize a minimum of two but no more than six sports-betting companies to operate mobile wagering in Vermont.

“The department may authorize a single operator to conduct a sportsbook is an insufficient number of qualified applicants participate in the competitive bidding process,” according to the measure.

The measure proposes operators pay an annual $275,000 license fee.

Representative Matthew Birong, a Democrat and sponsor of HB 127, would require any applicant to include an estimate of their potential wagering revenue and the percentage of gross revenue from mobile sports betting the applicant will pay the state if selected.

As of Monday (January 30), the bill has yet to be referred to a House committee for consideration.


Delaware To Examine Online Sports-Betting Options


Delaware’s House of Representatives has resolved to set up a four-member panel to review the online sports-betting markets of other states and make recommendations on how Delaware could expand its retail-only model.

Although Delaware was the first state outside Nevada to launch full sports betting following the historic May 2018 Supreme Court ruling to invalidate a federal ban, legal offerings are limited to physical sportsbooks in three casinos and sports lottery parlay cards at other retail locations.

Potential expansion to mobile sports betting was referenced earlier this month, however, when the Delaware Lottery issued a request for proposals to seek a new platform and other technology partners to support its online casino operations.

As passed on Thursday (January 26), House Resolution 6 calls for a review of policy options before that contract is awarded.

Any operating model should “address consumer demand and draw consumers from neighboring states and the thriving, illicit offshore gambling market; provide consumer protections and safeguards; and be operated in a manner which will produce the greatest income for the state,” lawmakers said in the resolution.

The House panel’s recommendations are due by June 30, 2023.


Wyoming To Amend Sports-Betting Law


The Wyoming House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday (January 27) that tweaks the 2021 state law authorizing online-only sports betting.

Among other things, House Bill 181 will require vendor licenses for server hosts and sports integrity monitoring services, as well as for certain key personnel of both operators and suppliers.

It also amends language related to the deduction of promotions and bonuses from taxable revenue, and will limit the ability of operators to carry over monthly losses to offset taxes.

As things stand, six sportsbook operators have been licensed for a mobile sports-betting market that generated just $13m in revenue through the end of November.

After passing the House by a 53-8 margin, HB 181 now must be approved by the Wyoming Senate before being signed into law by the governor.


A Dutch illegal online casino owes tens of millions to the state, a sports-betting bill makes unprecedented progress in Missouri and Aruze moves to restructure its US business.

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