News In Brief: July 25-July 29, 2022

July 29, 2022
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Dutch lotteries investigated over potentially illegal online games, new AGA guidelines for AML compliance published and slots scandal deepens in Paraguay.

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Dutch Lotteries Offering Services Online, Warns KSA

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Lottery providers are offering their services online in the Netherlands despite not being allowed to.

The operators, who have not been named, have caused enough concern to force the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) to launch an investigation.

The KSA warned that it “takes enforcement action if the law or permit conditions are violated” and that it “sees that lottery providers are increasingly adding online game elements to their offer”.

Lotteries are not allowed to offer their games online, but they can sell tickets online. Offering a game linked to a lottery online is prohibited.

The regulator added that there it considers lottery a “less risky” gambling product and games such as online slots or casino games as “high-risk”.

“The distinction between risky and less risky games of chance is there to protect consumers. People who want to participate in a lottery [should] not come into contact with more risky games of chance without being invited,” the KSA said.

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American Gaming Association Updates AML Guidelines

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The American Gaming Association (AGA) on Thursday (July 28) released the third version of its Best Practices for Anti-Money Laundering Compliance, updating the AGA’s guidance to reflect various regulatory changes since 2019.

Among other things, the best practices reflect new requirements established by the Anti-Money Laundering Act passed by Congress in late 2020.

They also incorporate new sections related to digital wallets and online gaming, with the AGA report recommending that online operators conduct appropriate reviews to screen for suspicious activity and take preventative steps to mitigate risks of fraud.

Regarding the use of cryptocurrency by gaming operators, the AGA report states that “suggested best practice is to require any virtual currency to be converted to U.S. dollars prior to usage for gaming at a slot machine, table game, sportsbook, or other gaming area,” so that subsequent transactions will be subject to the reporting requirements as other casino gaming activities.

In a statement, AGA vice president of government relations Alex Costello called the best practices report “an invaluable resource for our industry [that] demonstrates gaming’s commitment to protect the U.S. financial system from money laundering and other forms of illicit finance.”

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Court Rules In Favor Of California Tribe In Dispute With Governor

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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday (July 28) affirmed a lower court decision that the state of California and Governor Gavin Newsom acted in bad faith during their negotiations for a tribal-state compact to allow the Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians to conduct gaming.

The district court found that California’s demand for tribal enforcement of state domestic support orders “pulled negotiations into a field wholly collateral to the operation of gaming facilities,” in violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

In its 78-page decision, the appeals court found that through its insistence on family law, environmental law and tort provisions, California substantially exceeded IGRA’s limitation that any Class III compact provision be directly related to the operation of gaming activities.

Judge Patrick Bumatay dissented, writing the majority opinion creates an automatic bad-faith rule not found in IGRA’s text. “And while I agree with the majority that California negotiated for topics outside IGRA’s scope, I disagree with the majority’s purpose-based analysis of good faith,” he wrote.

James Siva, chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, said Thursday’s decision finally sets the proper parameters for good-faith negotiations under IGRA. Siva called on Newsom to respect the court’s ruling and quickly conclude a new compact that is consistent with IGRA.

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Florida Gaming Regulators Warn Jacksonville Over Electronic Games

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The Florida Gaming Control Commission (FCCC) has issued a warning to officials in Jacksonville that a proposal to legalize adult arcades with casino-style electronic games within the city limits could conflict with a state law that bans slot machines in most of the state.

“Slot machines in Florida are generally illegal. And slot machine gaming is not specifically allowed in Duval County,” FGCC executive director Louis Trombetta wrote in the letter obtained Thursday (July 28) by VIXIO GamblingCompliance.

Trombetta said the only way to allow slot machines in Duval County would be through a change to the state constitution, and a city ordinance would have “no effect” on being able to legalize gambling.

“Owners and operators of any existing ‘adult arcade’ offering illegal slot machine gaming should be aware of the civil and criminal consequences for such illegal gaming,” he wrote.

The Jacksonville Land Use and Zoning Committee has scheduled an August 2 public hearing on the proposed ordinance. In 2019, Jacksonville officials banned so-called simulated gambling devices after deciding they were a public nuisance.

City Council member Garrett Dennis filed the ordinance, but media reports say he is seeking the advice of city attorney Jason Teal over whether his proposal allows illegal gambling.

Trombetta said commission staff will be at Tuesday’s hearing.

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Arkansas Judge Asks Election Officials To Reject Casino Referendum

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Pope County Judge Ben Cross is asking the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners to reject a ballot referendum being funded by the Choctaw Nation in neighboring Oklahoma that would force another state-wide casino ballot initiative.

The Choctaw Nation has been funding a political action committee in Arkansas called “Fair Play Arkansas,” which asks voters to remove Pope County from being eligible to host a casino. Arkansas voters approved a casino initiative in 2018 that legalized casinos in four counties — Pope, Crittenden, Garland and Jefferson.

In his two-page letter, Jones expressed his serious concerns with the validity of the proposed ballot title language, arguing that proponents “intentionally hide their desire to blur the lines between ‘repeal’ and ‘revoke,’ and ‘authorization’ and ‘license.’”

“They bend over backward to make the prospective language of the amendment seem retroactive in the title,” he said. “The purpose of the board’s review is to prevent ambiguous, confusing or intentionally misleading ballot language from tricking voters.”

Cross admitted that he was a supporter of current licensee Cherokee Nation Business, which plans to build the $250m Legends Resort and Casino. He also claimed the Choctaw’s lawsuit and campaign were simply about not having any competition less than 90 miles from their casino in Pocola, Oklahoma.

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Paraguay Regulator Misses Slots Deadline

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Paraguay’s Games of Chance Commission (Conajzar) has once again found itself in hot water, this time because a politician is demanding it account for missing a regulation deadline.

Deputy José Rodríguez asked for regular reports from Conajzar during a congressional session on Thursday (July 28), seeking to know why they have not regulated slot machines yet when the deadline to do so has come and gone.

Law 6903 was enacted on April 21 with a 90-day window to regulate. It is meant to protect minors and other vulnerable groups from slot machines in small shops across the country by banning them from anywhere other than casinos and designated halls. It also reiterates the power that municipalities have to licence these halls.

Conajzar has come under fire in the past year for an allegedly corrupt and now voided contract with a company called iCrop who provided the slot machines.

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Ukraine Targets Licence Fees To Help War Effort

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As the Ukrainian state looks to secure funds for its ongoing defence against Russia, the gambling regulator has reminded operators to pay their annual licence fee.

The Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL) said “the conditions of war, every payment for the benefit of the state is a significant contribution” in an announcement on July 26.

“Let's remember that by replenishing the state budget, gambling organisers not only fulfil their obligations but also support the Armed Forces and bring our victory closer!" KRAIL wrote.

Calls on operators to help KRAIL fill government coffers follows a separate announcement that it has signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation (MoU) with Lithuania’s Ministry of Finance, which oversees the Lithuanian Gaming Control Authority.

The MoU will see the pair of gambling regulators exchange information, conduct webinars together and share best practices after their previous agreement was “interrupted” by the war, according to the Lithuanian regulator.

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El Salvador And Canada Partner To Launch Electronic Lottery

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El Salvador has approved the creation of a national electronic lottery with the help of a surprising partner.

The Canadian Commercial Corporation, which is state-owned and technically reports to parliament, will launch and operate the lottery on its own dime.

The president of the national charity lottery, Javier Milián Velásquez, commented: “With this agreement, we will implement new games, we will expand the range of products, without putting the State's capital at risk; that is, this modernization process does not put state finances at risk.”

It has been reported that 10 percent of revenue will go to municipalities and an additional 10 percent will go to lottery vendors, while “the rest” is earmarked for public health, education and other welfare programs. It is not known at this time how much of the revenue will be kept by the Canadian Commercial Corporation.

The initiative was approved on July 26 with 64 votes for, 4 against and 11 abstentions.

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Brazilian Court Rules To Shut Down Lottery Intermediaries

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The Association of Intermediaries of Digital Lottery Games (AIDIGLOT) has protested against the court ruling that state-owned CaixaBank is allowed to shut down two of its member sites.

AIDIGLOT was formed in March, insisting at the time that there are at least 20 plus such companies that offered these services, and there was a need to protect and unify them.

On July 20, AIDIGLOT met with the secretary of advocacy for the Ministry of Competition and Competitiveness, to affirm, in the words of its founder Mirko Meyerhoff: “That digital intermediation services for lottery products do not constitute any crime, providing quality and convenience for consumers in the Brazilian lottery market.”

AIDIGLOT claims that the decision violates the Economic Freedom Act, which allows enterprises to function without interference from the state. “The Association makes an appeal in defence of free enterprise and believes that Caixa, in addition to supporting its purpose, vetoes economic freedom of companies in its own country.”

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Dominican Operation 13 Case Sent To Trial

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A judge in the Dominican Republic is sending to trial the case of the now infamous fraudulent lottery draw, which funnelled off 500m pesos ($9.2m).

Ten stand accused in the case, including former National Lottery Administrator Luis Maisichell Dicent, who is currently being held in prison before the trial. His family claims that this move makes him a political prisoner.

However, the case was delayed in being sent to trial after Dicent’s lawyer appealed the evidence against him.

Operation 13, as the fraudulent draw is now known due to the winning number 13, happened on May 1 of last year and involved several high ranking officials. As a result, the Dominican Republic’s government has conducted an overhaul of gambling oversight, creating several new regulatory bodies.

The government has recently finished negotiations with the National Federation of Lottery Banks (FENABANCA), which by definition includes any small shop with games, and finally finished officially registering legitimate lottery banks within their system.

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Macau Names Casino Tender Commissioners

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Macau has formed a public tender commission for selecting the next set of casino concessionaires, suggesting a tender announcement is imminent.

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng on Wednesday (July 27) named the commission's members, all of whom are secretarial or other government agency heads.

They include economy and finance secretary Lei Wai Nong, Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) director Adriano Marques Ho, and the secretaries for justice and social and cultural affairs.

Other members include representatives of the Judiciary Police and the Office of the Chief Executive, and directors of the government’s economic development, tourism and land services organs.

The tender’s framework was published on July 5 after the amendment and passage of revised casino legislation in June, a series of rapid developments that suggest the tender result could be known before current concessions expire at the end of the year.

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Fulham F.C. Gets Gambling Sponsor But Brentford F.C. Fans Say No More

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Fans and football teams appear to be at odds as the pressure begins to mount on Premier League clubs ahead of their reported vote on a voluntary gambling shirt sponsorship ban.

Brentford Independent Association of Supporters (BIAS) has joined calls to end gambling partnerships after 70 percent of 783 surveyed fans called for an end to Hollywood Bets' shirt sponsorship when the deal concludes in 2024.

“Having a gambling addiction can harm your health and relationships. It can also leave you in serious debt,” BIAS said.

However, moments before the results of the BIAS survey were published, a few miles down the Thames, Fulham Football Club confirmed a record sponsorship agreement with W88, an Asian online betting firm, reinforcing that any immediate end to gambling sponsorships is unlikely.

Speaking in June 2022 at the World Gaming Executive Summit (WGES) in Barcelona, Jon Don-Carolis, commercial director at Fulham Football Club, warned that his team, which has just been promoted to the Premier League, is expecting not to be permitted to sign a new gambling shirt sponsor from the 2023/2024 season.

However, Don-Carolis said Fulham heard it can sign deals up to three years long until then, predicting there will be quite a few long-term deals popping up before the cut-off, such as Everton’s controversial multi-year partnership with Stake.com.

The new partnership agreement also follows an open letter sent by UK pressure group The Big Step to Premier League football clubs this week, calling on them to ban gambling sponsorships.

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UK Charity Calls For Football Ad Prohibition

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UK pressure group The Big Step has written an open letter to Premier League football clubs, calling on them to ban gambling sponsorships.

Clubs are reportedly set to vote on whether to voluntarily step away from the use of gambling companies as primary shirt sponsors, in an effort to avoid more punitive government action in the ongoing Gambling Act review.

The Big Step is calling for teams to not only back the move, but go further and fully prohibit all forms of gambling partnership.

“A vote to end gambilng sponsorship must be the start of comprehensive action that extends beyond the front of your shirts. Doing it alone is incoherent. If you vote to accept the principle that gambling ads on shirts are harmful, then the same must apply to the same logos on sleeves, for the adverts that flash around your pitch, in your stadium and on your club’s website,” says the letter.

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California Tribes Submit Signatures For 2024 Online Sports-Betting Initiative

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A coalition of California Indian tribes has submitted more than the required signatures to place their amended online sports-betting initiative on the 2024 ballot, according to data released by the Secretary of State’s election division.

In a memorandum to county election officials on Friday (July 22), supporters of the initiative submitted more than 1.31m signatures, well above the 997,139 needed to qualify for the state-wide ballot.

The proposed amendment to the state’s constitution, supported by the Wilton Rancheria, Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, grants tribes the option to operate mobile wagering subject to state regulation, instead of under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The initiative would also entitle tribes to amend their gaming compacts to include craps, roulette, and retail sportsbooks at their brick-and-mortar casinos. San Manuel and the other three tribes first filed their initiative for the 2022 election but opted to focus on the 2024 election.

According to state election law, each county is required to verify 500 signatures or 3 percent of the number of signatures filed, which ever is greater.

As of Monday (July 25), six counties had reported their totals from random or full checks to the secretary of state’s office. The 52 other counties have until September 2 to complete their verification.

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Massachusetts Regulators Continue To Review Sports-Betting Report

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An advance draft report examining the potential impact of sports betting in Massachusetts has been provided to regulators, but is not expected to be officially released until it is finalized in late August or early September, according to a memo to the gaming commission dated Tuesday (July 26).

Mark Vander Linden, director of research and responsible gaming with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), wrote that the report is currently in draft form as it continues through the MGC’s external review process, which includes multiple rounds of feedback from disciplinary research peers.

The report, being created by Rachel Volberg and a research team, examines the current status of legalized sports betting in the United States, including the various regulatory models adopted, revenues generated, and the economic and social outcomes identified to date.

Volberg is executive director of Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA), which is a department within the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Vander Linden wrote that the MGC also has provided an advance draft of the report as a resource to the six-member Sports Wagering Conference Committee that has been in negotiations to try and settle differences between the House and Senate versions of a bill to regulate online and retail sports betting.

The MGC is expected to discuss the preliminary report at its meeting Tuesday.

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Light & Wonder To Run Ecuador Lottery

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Light & Wonder Inc, formerly Scientific Games, has won the National Lottery Contract in Ecuador for the next ten years.

The contract includes instant games, retail technology, lottery systems and a lottery draw game that will be the first electric draw game in Ecuador.

“We are honoured to expand our 20-year relationship with Lotería Nacional de Ecuador with our world-leading instant game services, and by launching electronic draw games for the very first time in Ecuador,” said Scientific Games Americas president John Schulz.

"Leveraging our global experience with national lotteries, our goal is to support the expansion of the Lottery's retail network with our proprietary technologies to generate more profits for the social work of the Guayaquil Board of Charity."

The revenue will go towards funding Junta de Beneficencia de Guayaquil, the country’s largest charity, which subsidises hospitals, elderly care and funerals, and education.

The new contract also includes providing intelligence software and game management systems.

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Crown Sydney To Launch On 'Double Eight'

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Blackstone Group-controlled casino operator Crown Resorts has announced that its Sydney casino will open on August 8, some 18 months after the New South Wales (NSW) gaming regulator suspended its launch.

Crown said on Monday (July 25) that Australia’s “only VIP casino” will open its Crystal Room first, followed by its Mahogany Room at a later date. The statement did not say if 12 private Sky Salons will operate from day one.

The casino, part of the Barangaroo complex on Sydney’s harbourfront developed by Crown’s former controlling shareholder James Packer, will have around 160 gaming tables and 70 electronic gaming tables, but no slot machines, as per licensing conditions.

While Crown has been stripped of the bulk of its Chinese VIP market, given Beijing’s crackdown on gambling, impacts from the coronavirus pandemic and regulatory blocks on junket activity in NSW, the launch date of August 8 — Double Eight, an auspicious combination in Chinese culture — suggests management are anticipating substantial business from visiting Chinese nationals and Chinese and other Asian Australians.

“The entire team at Crown Sydney has been preparing for this moment for a long time and we felt the symbolism of the 08.08 date represented ideal timing to open our doors,” Crown Sydney CEO Simon McGrath said.

Although tagged a VIP-only casino, the last reported and very low minimum bet range of A$20-A$30 ($14-$21) for specific games means Crown Sydney is more properly classed as a members-only facility.

Crown Sydney remains under a form of regulatory probation following compliance reforms and the purging of its Packer-era board.

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Dutch lotteries investigated over potentially illegal online games, new AGA guidelines for AML compliance published and slots scandal deepens in Paraguay.

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