News In Brief: July 24-July 28, 2023

July 28, 2023
France's national lottery operator is set to absorb its Irish equivalent and Nevada officially approves $10m fine for Steve Wynn.


Irish Lottery To Move Under French Control


France’s national lottery operator FDJ has announced it is to buy Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) for an undisclosed sum.

PLI was owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which also formerly owned current UK National Lottery operator Camelot, although it sold that company to Czech-headquartered Allwyn after it lost the rights to run the UK draw to the latter operator.

FDJ’s deal to acquire Ireland’s largest lottery operator gives it exclusive rights to operate the Irish National Lottery until 2034.

The transaction still needs the approval of Irish regulators.


Nevada Accepts $10m Fine Against Steve Wynn


The Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) officially brought Steve Wynn’s career in the gaming industry to a close on Thursday (July 27) when it approved the largest fine ever assessed against an individual licensee.

The commission voted 4-0 to accept the settlement, which required Wynn to pay a $10m fine. NGC chairwoman Jennifer Togliatti said she had a conflict and did not vote on the matter, but she did chair the hearing.

The commission’s approval ends a dispute between Wynn and the Nevada Gaming Control Board after the board issued a 23-page complaint on October 14, 2019, accusing him of sexual harassment.

Under the terms of the settlement, Wynn did not admit or deny the allegations set forth in the complaint.

Wynn, 81, now a resident of Florida, did not attend the commission’s meeting in Carson City.

Wynn has agreed to remain entirely removed from any direct or indirect affiliation, financing, consultation, promotional advertising in any form of media or licensing agreement in the Nevada gaming industry.

But he was not barred from having any “direct or indirect passive ownership” of less than 5 percent of any licensed gaming company.

“I appreciate also the efforts of all the parties bringing this matter to a close,” said commissioner Rosa Solis-Rainey. “It is a huge blemish on the industry.”

“Mr. Wynn made some incredible contributions,” she added. “The nature of the allegations that were made and the history behind that … in my mind warrant the amount of the fine that was negotiated.”


Pennsylvania Regulators Fine Mohegan, Rivers Pittsburgh


The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on Wednesday (July 26) issued several fines totaling $67,500 for underage gambling and an untrained employee dealing on a casino floor.

Downs Racing, which operates Mohegan Pennsylvania, was fined $50,000 for allowing individuals under the age of 21 to be on the casino floor.

In the first incident, state gaming regulators said the individual gained access multiple times to gamble. In the other incident, the individual gained access to the casino floor and was provided alcohol.

Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, which is operated by Holdings Acquisition, was fined $10,000 for allowing a minor to enter the casino and gamble, while Sugarhouse HSP Gaming, operator of Rivers Casino Philadelphia, was fined $7,500 for allowing an untrained employee to deal roulette.


Profitability Surprise In Second Quarter For BetMGM


BetMGM is on track for full-year revenue at the upper end of its previous guidance, helped by double-digit revenue growth from digital operations in the first half of the year, the company announced Wednesday (July 26).

Net revenue was $944m, an increase of 55 percent, for the first six months of 2023. BetMGM, a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and Entain, is also on track to deliver at the upper end of its previous guidance range for the year of $1.8bn to $2bn.

“I am pleased with the significant progress we have made during the first half of 2023 as we continue our strong growth and remain on our path to profitability,” said Adam Greenblatt, CEO of BetMGM.

Greenblatt assured investors and analysts the company remained focused on building “a sustainable, scalable” business. BetMGM also announced they “reached the key milestone of positive EBITDA” for the second quarter.

Analysts noted the positive guidance for the second half of 2023 in notes to clients on Wednesday despite new investments for launches in Kentucky and North Carolina.

In terms of digital, Chad Beynon, an analyst with Macquarie Group, expects BetMGM to grow by 35 percent this year. He also continues to believe there are “opportunities to solve the 50-50 stake.”

“With one of the strongest balance sheets, supportive shareholders, and a goal to be a global digital leader, we expect this to be a priority,” Beynon wrote in a note to clients.


SEC Rule Gives Companies Four Days To Report Hacks


The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday (July 26) adopted new rules requiring publicly traded companies to disclose hacking incidents.

The new cybersecurity rules require companies to disclose a cyber incident within four days after determining it is serious enough to be material to investors.

The disclosure may be delayed if the U.S. attorney general determines that immediate disclosure would pose a substantial risk to national security or public safety, according to the SEC.

Companies, including those publicly traded gaming companies licensed by state regulators, will also have to describe periodically what efforts they are making to identify and manage cyber threats.

SEC chairman Gary Gensler, who supported the final rules, told his colleagues during an open meeting on Wednesday (July 26) that he believes they will help enhance and standardize reporting of these incidents to shareholders.

Gensler added that cyberattacks are a fact of modern life.

The vote was 3-2 with the dissenters, saying the new rule was unnecessary given existing requirements and were unduly burdensome on companies. For example, Nevada regulators in December signed off on new state mandated cybersecurity regulations that impact some 400 publicly traded and privately held licensees.

The final rule becomes effective 30 days following publication of the release in the Federal Register.


Washington Regulators Increase Maximum Wager Limit


After more than a year of debate and seven regulatory hearings, the maximum wager limit in cardrooms throughout Washington state will increase by a hundred dollars by the end of next month.

The Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC) last week approved the increase from $300 to $400 over the objections of commissioner Anders Ibsen and Sarah Lawson. WSGC chair Alicia Levy, vice-chair Julia Patterson and commissioner Bud Sizemore voted in favor of the increase.

Lawson, who expressed her opposition at a meeting in April, reiterated her position that gambling, according to state law, is only authorized as an economic stimulant for a business that is primarily engaged in food and beverage sales.

Lawson criticized previous increases in the wager limits for flipping the business model, so it is no longer that the business is primarily engaged in food and beverage, it’s that they are primarily engaged in gambling and food and beverage is secondary and incidental to their casino business.”

The increase was initially submitted in July 2022 by Vicki Christophersen, a lobbyist for Maverick Gaming who owns and operates 22 cardrooms in Washington state.

Her initial proposal sought to increase the maximum single wagering limit from $300 to $500 for all house-banked gaming tables. Maverick Gaming also proposed to create a “high limit room” with a maximum wager of $1,000.

Christophersen said she appreciated that the WSGC took its role very seriously and that the “modest adjustment” was appropriate and consistent with the commission’s authority.


Oklahoma Attorney General To Handle Tribal Compact Case


Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond will be representing the state in a lawsuit dating back to 2020 over four state-tribal gaming compacts that were signed by Republican Governor Kevin Stitt.

Drummond on Tuesday (July 25) delivered an official letter notifying the governor of his decision. He also said he spoke with Stitt by phone.

“As you should fully understand, this long-running and costly litigation is a direct result of your refusal to follow Oklahoma law,” Drummond wrote, adding that the litigation has cost the state $600,000.

“The four tribal gaming compacts you signed were invalid from the state because you did not have the approval or authorization from the Oklahoma legislature to enter the gaming compacts.”

The federal lawsuit was filed by the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Citizen Potawatomi and Choctaw nations after Stitt revised gaming compacts he had reached with the Comanche Nation, the Otoe-Missouria, the Kialegee Tribal Town and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the compacts invalid in July 2020, but Stitt submitted them to the U.S. Department of the Interior, who approved them.

Last week, Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat and House Speaker Charles McCall, bit Republicans, requested the attorney general take charge of the federal lawsuit pending in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.


Massachusetts Regulators Discuss DraftKings Unauthorized Tennis Bets


Massachusetts gaming regulators will consider possible penalties after DraftKings admitted it took hundreds of bets on unauthorized tennis events.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) met Monday (July 24) for an adjudicatory hearing regarding the self-reported non-compliance of DraftKings with the state’s sports-betting catalog.

Zachary Mercer, an attorney with the MGC’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB), testified the IEB became aware of the unauthorized bets on March 23, 2023, when it was notified by DraftKings.

From March 10 to March 22, DraftKings accepted 864 wagers and $7,867 in total handle on three UTR Pro Tennis events. The reason for the error, according to the company, was the trading support team discovered that UTR events were enabled upon launch and remained active until the day of discovery.

DraftKings blamed the error on a “miscommunication” between the trading and the trading compliance teams, as a trader copied tennis events from another market without approval from the compliance team.

The MGC did not decide on the DraftKings complaint on Monday. Instead, it will issue a written decision at a later date, with potential punishments ranging from a reprimand to a fine to a suspension or revocation of DraftKings’ license.


France's national lottery operator is set to absorb its Irish equivalent and Nevada officially approves $10m fine for Steve Wynn.

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