News In Brief: June 5-June 9, 2023

June 9, 2023
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Peru’s Congress submits its online gambling bill for final approval, BetMGM launches online sports betting in Puerto Rico, SciPlay's board of directors committee to review and consider a bid from Light & Wonder and Osaka police have made surprise inspections of more than 20 “amusement casinos”.

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Peru’s Online Gambling Law Sent To President

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Peru’s Congress has submitted the online gambling clean-up bill (31557) to the executive to sign.

President Dina Boluarte will have 15 working days to sign the bill, putting the deadline at June 28.

She is expected to do so, although if she refuses to, the bill will go back to Congress to promulgate.

The law officially known as “The law that amends Law 31557, the law that regulates the exploitation of remote gaming and remote sports betting, in order to clarify concepts and their scope”, will come into effect 120 days after the publication of the Supreme Decree that approves its regulations.

Companies currently operating in the grey market will need to act with haste to apply for a licence with the overseeing body MINCETUR.

Among the changes to the online gambling bill made by the text include allowing tourists to play with operators when in the country, expanding the permitted domains for online operators and closing tax loopholes.

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Osaka Police Inspect, Warn Gaming Clubs

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Osaka police have made surprise inspections of more than 20 “amusement casinos” in the city’s Minami entertainment district to warn against gambling activity, but no arrests were made.

Police on Thursday (June 8) swept through the Minami district’s clutch of gaming clubs, reportedly finding no illegal activity but warning proprietors and customers against real-money gambling on token-only poker and roulette tables.

Video footage from YTV News showed plainclothes officers entering the facilities on Thursday evening and distributing fliers with warnings of criminal prosecution for gambling behaviour.

The inspections follow the detention in Osaka of 21 suspects for real-money poker gambling on May 31, including Japan Poker Association director Joji Mikubo, a gaming club operator, eight organisers, and 11 customers.

Japanese police occasionally crack down on land-based gaming activity, but the arrest of the poker enthusiasts and inspection of their bank transactions suggest an enforcement upswing in the only city to be awarded an integrated resort licence.

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SciPlay Committee To Consider Light & Wonder Takeover 

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SciPlay Corporation on Thursday (June 8) announced that its board of directors had formed a committee of independent directors to review and consider a bid from Light & Wonder to acquire the outstanding equity interest in the company.

Light & Wonder proposed on May 18 to acquire the remaining 17 percent equity interest in SciPlay that it does not already own for $20 per share in cash, valued at $422m.

Currently, Light & Wonder owns about 83 percent of the economic interest and 98 percent of the voting interest in SciPlay.

In a statement, SciPlay cautioned its shareholders and others considering trading its securities because no decision has been made by the board of directors or special committee on the proposal.

“There can be no assurance that any definite offer will be made by Light & Wonder, that a definitive agreement will be executed relating to the proposed transaction or that this or any other transaction will be approved or consummated.”

SciPlay stressed in its statement that tit does not intend to comment further unless it deems it appropriate.

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IGT To Explore Strategic Alternatives, Including Sale Or Spin-Off

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International Gaming Technology (IGT) announced Thursday (June 8) that its board of directors is evaluating possible strategic alternatives for its Global Gaming and PlayDigital segments.

The board of directors, according to a statement, is considering alternatives, including but not limited to a sale, merger, or spin-off, as well as retaining and further investment in its Global Gaming and PlayDigital businesses. IGT also operates a Lottery division.

"Over the last three years, IGT has sharpened its strategic focus by reorganizing around core product verticals, monetizing non-core assets, reducing structural costs and significantly improving its credit profile," said Marco Sala, IGT executive chairman.

"We believe the intrinsic value of IGT's market-leading businesses and diversified cash flow profile is not currently reflected in our stock price and the timing is right to assess opportunities that may enhance value for IGT's shareholders.”

Barry Jonas, an analyst with Truist Securities, said the company has always “extolled the synergies of its three segments, though this is something Light and Wonder got over to extract value — while relatively new IGT CEO Vince Sadusky has been clear in his goal of a higher stock.”

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Mobile Sports Betting Launches In Puerto Rico

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BetMGM has become the first operator to launch online sports betting in Puerto Rico, according to an announcement made on Thursday (June 8) by the U.S.-facing joint venture of Entain and MGM Resorts.

BetMGM launched retail sportsbook operations last year at Puerto Rico’s Casino del Mar at La Concha Resort in San Juan.

Reflecting the terms of 2019 Puerto Rico’s sports-betting law, BetMGM’s registered mobile customers will have to appear in person at the land-based casino in order to validate their identity before they can place a wager. Puerto Rico is the only U.S. jurisdiction, alongside Nevada, with an in-person registration requirement.

Other operators with market access in Puerto Rico include BetMGM rivals Caesars and DraftKings, according to VIXIO GamblingCompliance’s U.S. Sports Betting Partnership Monitor. Caesars opened a retail sports-betting operation in December.

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Pennsylvania Self-Exclusion List Hits 20,000

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The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) announced on Wednesday (June 7) it had received its 20,000th voluntary request to be excluded from entering land-based casinos and retail sportsbooks under the agency’s Casino Self-Exclusion Program.

The program, created in 2006, prevents individuals from entering and participating in gaming activities at a casino or sportsbook for one year, five years, or a lifetime.

"The Casino Self-Exclusion Program, along with the agency’s 3 other self-exclusion programs, are effective and proven tools that allow for individuals to regain control over their lives, and to learn about other recovery resources,” said Elizabeth Lanza, director of the Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling (OCPG).

The control board “encourages anyone who thinks they may have a gambling problem to seek treatment and consider taking advantage of the voluntary self-exclusion programs.”

Lanza did not disclose if the latest request for enrollment in the self-exclusion program was for one year, five years, or a lifetime. According to data released Wednesday, the OCPG found 4,335, or 21 percent, of the 20,000 individuals in Pennsylvania have chosen the lifetime ban.

There are a total of 12,811 males and 7,189 females that have enrolled in the self-exclusion program, while individuals on this list range between 21 and 102 years of age; and, 1,026 self-excluded individuals chose to re-enroll in the program after previously removing their name from the list, including 307 who selected a lifetime ban at re-enrollment.

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North Carolina Sports-Betting Bill Faces One More Vote

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Mobile sports-betting legislation in North Carolina is one vote away from clearing both chambers of the state legislature after receiving a favorable vote Tuesday (June 6).

House Bill 347, which would legalize mobile betting in the state through up to 12 licensed operators, received its first concurrence vote in the House Tuesday by a 68-41 margin.

The Senate voted last week to approve an amended version of the bill, which, among other changes, increased the proposed tax rate on mobile betting to 18 percent and authorizes live horse-racing and pari-mutuel wagering.

A second concurrence vote is required in the House, which is expected to come Wednesday (June 7). If successful, the bill would advance to Democratic Governor Roy Cooper for a signature, which is also expected.

Although North Carolina Republican Speaker Tim Moore raised some eyebrows last week by saying the House would look to combine sports betting with other gaming issues such as video lottery terminals (VLTs) or commercial casino legislation, he later backtracked on those remarks, and those issues were not raised Tuesday during the vote.

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Virginia Lottery Fines Hard Rock $50,000

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The Virginia Lottery has reached a $50,000 settlement with Hard Rock Bristol, a casino operated by Hard Rock international, over allegedly violations with respect to voluntarily excluded persons, according to a three-page settlement released Tuesday (June 6).

The settlement agreement extends only to those alleged violations that are known to the Virginia Lottery and which occurred between November 2022 and March 2023.

“The lottery has asserted that these actions violated the Casino Gaming Law and the regulations promulgated thereunder, and that these actions were sanctionable,” the settlement reads.

If the lottery subsequently discovers “additional facts of a material and substantial nature involving any of those incidents … the lottery may pursue additional alleged violations.”

“As part of its corrective action plan, Hard Rock will continue to take appropriate measures to ensure future compliance with the Casino Gaming Law and its related regulations,” according to the settlement.

Hard Rock International was issued a gaming license to operate Hard Rock Bristol Casino, which opened a temporary facility on July 8, 2022, in Bristol, Virginia, near the Tennessee border.

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Indiana Regulator Reviewing NFL Betting Violations

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The Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) confirmed Monday (June 5) that it had received information pertaining to multiple media reports that Indianapolis Colts player Isaiah Rodgers is being investigated by the National Football League (NFL) for betting on games, including wagers placed on his own team.

“We have received information pertaining to this matter and we are following developments,” Jenny Reske, deputy director of the IGC, said in a statement emailed to VIXIO GamblingCompliance.

“The IGC is not the lead agency on this matter, as it involves alleged violations of a league policy at this point,” Reske said. “We will, however, continue to review information as it emerges to determine what, if any, regulatory actions are necessary.”

An NFL spokesperson told ESPN they had “nothing to add.”

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Singapore Turf Club To Shut Down

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After more than 180 years of operation, the Singapore Turf Club will close for good in 2027 after its last race in October 2024.

The Singaporean government will redevelop the club’s 120 hectares for housing and other forms of recreation, the club said in a statement on Monday (June 5).

The final race will be held on October 5, 2024, and the property will be handed to the government after March 2027, it said.

“The Club has seen significant success through its efforts to elevate the sport of horse racing in Singapore, including the doubling of feature races. However, in-person attendance at the racecourse has been declining over the past decade,” the statement said.

“We are saddened by the decision of the government to close the Club,” Turf Club chairman Niam Chiang Meng said. “We will do our best to ensure business as usual for the Club until our final race meeting. Concurrently, we will work with our stakeholders to ensure a smooth exit for local horse racing."

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Ukraine Regulator, Consumer Protection Service Sign Ads MoU

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Ukraine’s Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL) has met with the State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection (SSUFSCP) to discuss procedures for imposing fines for illegal gambling adverts.

During the meeting, the two organisations agreed on a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) for further cooperation and a list of priority areas where they can strengthen their relationship aimed at tackling illegal gambling adverts in the future.

The head of KRAIL, chair Ivan Rudy, and the head of SSUFSCP, Olha Shevchenko, attended the discussions.

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NagaWorld Expansion Delayed By Four Years

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Cambodian casino resort operator NagaCorp has announced a four-year extension of the completion date for the “Naga 3” phase of its Phnom Penh casino precinct.

Hong Kong-listed NagaCorp said in a bourse filing on Sunday (June 4) that it agreed with its construction contractor to extend the completion deadline to September 30, 2029, a delay of four years.

The decision was a result of the “external geopolitical macroeconomic environment and … stiff global inflationary pressures”, the statement said.

It added that the Naga 3 project, costed at $4bn when announced in 2019, could also be downsized to match “revenue generation with capex expenditure”.

NagaCorp’s pandemic headwinds have been amplified by uncertainty over the long-term viability of its China-facing business model and over the transition of company control from ailing Malaysian mogul Chen Lip Keong to his three sons.

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Peru’s Congress submits its online gambling bill for final approval, BetMGM launches online sports betting in Puerto Rico, SciPlay's board of directors committee to review and consider a bid from Light & Wonder and Osaka police have made surprise inspections of more than 20 “amusement casinos”.

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