News In Brief: March 18-March 22, 2024

March 22, 2024
A new president for the Swedish gambling regulator, Maryland refuses to take up online casino legislation, Rush Street is reportedly considering a sale and a study says casino cannibalization is a myth.
New Chairman Of Swedish Gambling Authority Announced

Swedish authorities have named Claes Norgren as the new chairman of the Swedish Gambling Authority’s (SGA) board. 

Norgren, who will replace Per Håkansson, will take up his new role on April 1, 2024, according to an announcement made by the Ministry of Finance on March 21.

He has previously worked as the auditor general, and the head of the Financial Supervisory Authority, and served as the deputy governor of Sweden’s central bank (Riksbank).

Additionally, the government has appointed Therese Mattsson as a new member of the SGA board starting on April 1, 2024.

The former director general of the Coast Guard’s term will end on March 31, 2026.

Maryland Senate Leader Sinks iGaming Hopes

Maryland senators are a “hard no” on legislation to authorize online casino gaming, according to Senate President Bill Ferguson.

The Senate leader, a Democrat, made the remarks to Maryland Matters this week after an iGaming bill was approved by the state’s House of Delegates on Saturday (March 16). 

Ferguson said that bill as well as an unrelated measure passed by the House were “not things that we’re going to be taking up this year.”

In February, a Senate committee heard but did not vote on an alternative iGaming measure to House Bill 1319. The Senate bill’s sponsor has since suggested that senators could now look to remove all substantive language from HB 1319 and instead seek to hold a straightforward referendum on whether online casinos should be legalized in Maryland, before revisiting the specifics next year if the referendum is successful.

Maryland’s General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on April 8.

Online Casino Cannibalization A Myth, Says U.S. Study

The states of New York, Illinois, Maryland, Louisiana and Virginia would all see an increase in revenue from land-based casino gaming after they choose to legalize online casinos, rather than cannibalization of their current markets, according to a study released Thursday (March 21) by a coalition of leading U.S. sports-betting operators.

The independent study produced for the Sports Betting Alliance found that the six U.S. states currently with legal iGaming had seen an average of 2 percent growth in land-based revenue post-legalization, with similar results anticipated in new online casino markets. 

Of the five potential iGaming states studied, legislation is currently pending in New York, Maryland and Illinois, while industry advocates are understood to have lobbied lawmakers to introduce bills either this year or next in both Louisiana and Virginia.

The Sports Betting Alliance represents FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Fanatics. Its study follows a similar report released last month by online gambling trade association iDEA Growth. 

Florida Supreme Court Tosses Seminole Compact Challenge

The Florida Supreme Court has declined to review the legality of the state’s landmark 2021 tribal gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.

In an opinion published on Thursday (March 21), justices said the appeal of commercial gaming operator West Flagler Associates “presents nothing other than a challenge to the substantive constitutionality of the law ratifying the compact,” and therefore could not be heard directly by the Supreme Court because Governor Ron DeSantis did not exceed his authority in executing the agreement.

Petitioners should instead file a challenge, in the first instance, before a trial court, justices said.

West Flagler argues that the compact violates Florida’s constitution by authorizing new forms of gaming, including retail and state-wide mobile sports betting, without a voter referendum. The Florida Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday did not address the merits of the case.

Last June, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the validity of the Seminole compact under federal law. That ruling is also currently being appealed by West Flagler to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Gets Interim Chair

Governor Maura Healey, a Democrat, has appointed commissioner Jordan Maynard as interim chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, following the retirement of Cathy Judd-Stein. 

Healey’s administration confirmed Thursday (March 21) that it is in the process of searching for a permanent chair. Maynard was appointed to the five-member commission by former Governor Charlie Baker in 2022.

The commission was created in 2011 and is the licensing and regulatory agency of the casino, horseracing, and sports betting industries in Massachusetts.

Judd-Stein had been the chair of the commission since her appointment in 2019 by Baker, and her term expired on Thursday. 

During her tenure, the state legalized and launched a land-based and mobile sports-betting regime that has become one of the most closely scrutinized models in the U.S. due to aggressive policymaking in areas such as advertising and data privacy.

Pennsylvania Fines Live Casino Over College Prop Bets

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has approved a $10,000 fine for Stadium Casino, which operates Live! Casino Philadelphia, for offering unapproved college prop bets through its subcontracted Betway platform.

John Crohe, senior enforcement counsel with the PGCB’s office of enforcement, said that between August 27 and September 11, 2022, Betway accepted college prop bets as a result of a failure to block these wagers following a system update. 

Crohe said Wednesday (March 20) a total of 90 wagers were placed for $5,406, with a total payout of $6,357. He did not identify any specific prop bets placed by patrons. 

Tom Diehl, vice president of legal for Live! Casino in Philadelphia, attributed the violation of PCGB’s sports-betting regulations to human error, and no additional prop bets have been placed since the initial incidents. 

At the behest of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), state regulators have considered or have outright banned prop bets on individual college athletes.

Ohio, Maryland, and Vermont are three states that recently imposed bans. Prop bets on college athletes were already prohibited in nine states, including Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Oregon, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Arizona. 

The PGCB also fined DraftKings $10,000 for permitting players in Pennsylvania access to its “Reignmakers” fantasy contests after the control board ordered an end to the contests in the state.

Bally's Sets Meeting With Massachusetts Regulators

Bally’s Corp. will have its first meeting with staff from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) on Monday (March 25) to discuss its sports-betting plans as they are the only licensed sportsbook operator in the state that has yet to launch.

“It will be the first of what I hope are many meetings with them,” Bruce Band, director of sports wagering at the MGC, told commissioners during an agenda-setting meeting Wednesday. “We will be able to give you a little update with that” next week.

Bally’s was one of nine operators to receive licensure ahead of the state’s mobile sports-betting launch in March 2023. Even though the company has not launched it has paid a $1m fee to renew its license. 

At a commission meeting last week, Band said the company was aiming to launch in the second quarter this year, but it still has work to do.

“I am pleased to hear about Bally’s cooperating fully with director (Bruce) Band,” said MGC chair Cathy Judd-Stein. “I think maybe we can frame it as poor communication not necessarily lack of cooperation.”

New Management Board Takes Over At Poland's National Lottery Operator

The supervisory board of Poland’s national lottery operator Totalizator Sportowy has named the company’s new management board.

Rafał Krzemień has been appointed Totalizator Sportowy’s new president. Szymon Gawryszczak and Artur Kapelko have been named as the firm’s management board members.

In their new roles, Gawryszczak will be responsible for sales, products and marketing, and Kapelko will oversee the company’s administration, Totalizator Sportowy said in a statement.

The state-owned company’s management board has five members. The remaining two board members are Stanisław Grabiec and Bogdan Pukowiec.

The new appointments at the helm of one of Poland’s leading gambling industry players come in the aftermath of last December’s change in government, which paved the way for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

Tusk is leading an alliance of centre-right, liberal and left-wing parties which won the country’s October 2023 general election.

Before his latest appointment, Krzemień served as the president of the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, a municipally-owned company in the country’s capital ruled by Tusk’s Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) party.

São Paulo Seeking To Attract Online Operators

The municipal government of São Paulo has published an ordinance to confirm how a local services tax will be applied to licensed sports-betting and online gaming operators that choose to set up shop in the Brazilian business capital.

Under Brazilian law, companies are required to pay a services tax of between 2 and 5 percent to the local municipality where they are based. The São Paulo city government previously approved a local law in 2022 to set the lowest rate of 2 percent for companies operating fixed-odds betting or fantasy sports games.

A new ordinance published on Monday (March 18) confirms that the tax will be applied after the deduction of the 12 percent federal tax on gross gaming revenue that was established by December’s Law 14.790 to implement a national licensing regime for online gaming and sports betting.

In a statement, the São Paulo government said the ordinance was designed to provide “stability and predictability” to potential operators and avoid any future litigation over the issue.

“With this, the city of São Paulo takes an important step in the process of consolidating its status as the main point of attraction for high tech companies in Brazil and Latin America,” the government added.

Maryland Sports-Betting Bills Stall In House

Crossover day for bills to advance out of their original chamber in Maryland came and went Monday (March 18) with a pair of sports-betting bills dying in committee. 

House Bill 1291, sponsored by Democratic Delegate Dalya Attar, would require sports-betting operators in Maryland to have their content audited by third-party independent evaluators. Currently, those audits are optional for licensees.

Attar’s bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee but after a recent hearing, her proposal never received a committee vote.

House Bill 1087, which was also assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee, would prohibit online gambling on college campuses in Maryland. The bill had set a deadline of August 1 for each institution to establish a geofence around their campus to block all online and mobile apps. 

Democratic Delegate Pamela Queen’s bill received a hearing last month but was never voted on by the committee. 

Currently, House Bill 1319, which would legalize online casino gaming, has been referred to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, after its passage by the House on Saturday. 

The 2024 session of the Maryland General Assembly adjourns on April 8.

Bloomberry, GGAM Settle Over Management Dispute

A ten-year dispute between Solaire casino operator Bloomberry and Global Gaming Asset Management (GGAM) has ended, with a settlement closing five court cases and securing $300m for GGAM.

Bloomberry’s termination of GGAM’s contract to manage the Philippine integrated resort soon after its opening triggered years of court cases and arbitration in the Philippines, the United States and Singapore that targeted both Bloomberry and owner Enrique Razon.

On Tuesday (March 19), Bloomberry said in a Philippine bourse filing that it had reached a “universal settlement” with GGAM to end litigation and buy back GGAM’s shares in the company for $300m, pending regulatory approval.

The price of 18.32 pesos ($0.33) per share for the deal compares with Bloomberry’s share price of 10.84 pesos on Tuesday at 11am.

“This settlement will put an end to the dispute of [Bloomberry subsidiary companies] with GGAM which has dragged on for ten years,” the filing said.

The agreed-upon price is slightly higher than the $296.5m that a Singapore arbitrator awarded to GGAM in 2019, but which remained in dispute.

South Korea Kills Unfinished Incheon Casino

The South Korean government has “invalidated” the business status of a stalled casino project on Yeongjong Island near Incheon International Airport.

The R&F Korea (RFKR) casino-resort can no longer operate a casino after failing to abide by construction deadlines and receive a further extension, GGRAsia reported on Tuesday (March 19), citing a Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism spokesperson.

Construction at the RFKR site has been suspended for four years.

The apparent failure of the project follows the grand opening early this month of the neighbouring Mohegan Sun-controlled INSPIRE Entertainment Resort.

The RFKR property’s tortured history started with a joint venture between Indonesia’s Lippo Group and Caesars Entertainment Corp in 2013.

RFKR owner Guangzhou R&F Properties Co replaced Lippo in 2016 before Caesars abandoned the project and the Korean market in 2021 after years of delays and funding problems.

China Warns Against Gambling In Singapore

China’s embassy in Singapore has warned Chinese nationals not to gamble at the city’s two casinos, following similar warnings from Beijing’s missions in South Korea and Sri Lanka.

The embassy on Monday (March 18) said via its WeChat channel that gambling in casinos outside China could amount to an extra-territorial criminal offence by Chinese nationals.

It also reminded citizens of communications channels with the Ministry of Public Security to inform others involved in gambling.

“Even if overseas casinos are legally opened, cross-border gambling by Chinese citizens is suspected of violating the laws of our country,” the statement said, as quoted by Reuters.

“Cross-border gambling may also bring risks such as fraud, money laundering, kidnapping, detention, trafficking, and smuggling,” it said.

“The Chinese government has always opposed any form of gambling and opposes Chinese citizens leaving the country to engage in the gambling industry.”

It was not immediately clear why the Singapore embassy released the statement at this time. Beijing has periodically warned its traveling citizens not to gamble overseas.

At the time of publishing (March 19), the Singapore embassy’s notification had not been posted on its website in Chinese or English.

Washington State To Require Problem Gambling Signage

After reviewing the rules of 18 states and two Canadian provinces, the Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC) will consider requiring all licensees to have problem gambling signage on the property or clearly on any advertisements.

The new rule aims to address problem gambling by requiring signage at all public entrances and exits of a gambling area; in or near gambling areas; and in any areas where cash or electronic fund transfers are available. The additional language also requires all advertising materials to contain a responsible gambling message.

The responsible gambling message must include, at a minimum, the statement "play responsibly" or similar language and the toll-free telephone helpline number for problem gambling and gambling disorders. 

“All direct advertising, marketing, or promotional materials must include a clear and conspicuous method allowing patrons to unsubscribe from future advertising, marketing, or promotional communications.”

Julia Patterson, vice chair of the WSGC, said the rule does not apply to tribes, but she was pleased that tribes are already doing this and are supportive of the new rule. 

“I support the rule change for problem gambling signage,” said Gideon Cauffman, vice chair of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Gaming Commission. “It would be helpful for the entire community of Washington.”

The five-member commission is expected to initiate the rulemaking process at its April meeting.

Alabama Needs To Enhance Enforcement Not Legalize Gambling

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall urged lawmakers to strengthen enforcement against illegal gambling operators in the state instead of making more gambling legal in the state.

“I don’t accept the premise that we need to legalize gambling to enhance enforcement because there are enforcement mechanisms that exist separate and apart” from what is being considered in the legislature, Marshall said. 

The debate over gambling has moved to the House after the Senate advanced amended versions of House Bill 151 and House Bill 152 that would amend the constitution to permit the creation of a state lottery and create new enforcement mechanisms to curtail unregulated gambling.

Marshall discussed the legislation during an appearance Friday (March 15) on Alabama Public Television’s Capitol Journal. From an enforcement side, Marshall said, he fully embraces raising the consequences of engaging in illegal activity. 

Currently, he said, it is only a misdemeanor, and those who operate these establishments are “not worried about the consequences of what they are doing.” 

“Let’s raise those up to felony offenses,” Marshall said. “And by the way, not just felony offenses that are Class D for which you can’t go to jail as a matter of law. Let’s make the penalty itself have some consequences; somebody could face jail time as a result of what they’ve done.” 

Self-Exclusion Fines In Ukraine

Ukraine’s gambling regulator has fined a group of four unnamed operators UAH14m (€329,892) for allowing self-excluded players to gamble.

The regulator, KRAIL, said it was acting on complaints from gamblers that four licence-holding online casino companies were not properly barring players who are on the national exclusion list.

The regulator only gained the right to make “unscheduled” compliance inspections after an amendment to the country’s gambling law was passed in November 2023.

Kazakh Self-Exclusion Enters Digital Age

Kazakhstan has rolled out an online self-exclusion service, adding to what was previously a paper-only system for a player to exclude themselves from gambling.

The system uses the country’s eGov mobile app and instantly adds players to a national self-exclusion list for six months to a year, the government said.

The previous system required a paper form to be submitted and it could take up to eight days for a gambler to be added to the list.

London Mayor Criticised Over Failure To Ban Gambling Ads

The mayor of London, the UK’s capital city, is being pressured to ban gambling ads on the London Underground.

Mayor Sadiq Khan pledged to remove gambling ads from the tube in his 2021 election manifesto but has so far not done so. In comments to the BBC, he said he had asked the Greater London Assembly (London’s local government) to “do some research into this” and an official said he would “move as swiftly as possible” based on the outcome of this research.

Khan is up for re-election in May and he has been criticised by his election rivals for backing out of his promise to ban gambling ads on the city’s most used transport network.

“This is something that should be easy to do. It doesn't involve building anything or borrowing any money. It shouldn't be taking three years," said Rob Blackie, the Liberal Democrat candidate for London Mayor.

Welsh Poker Den Busted

Law enforcement agents, the Gambling Commission, HM Revenue & Customs and Cardiff City Council have conducted a raid on an underground gambling operation in the UK.

Two men were arrested in the Welsh capital on suspicion of money laundering offences, after six poker tables, a spinning prize wheel, poker coins and chips and flatscreen TVs were seized from a gambling den.

“We are committed to tackling illegal gambling activity across the UK and will continue working closely with law enforcement and partner agencies to achieve this,” said Kay Roberts, the Gambling Commission’s executive director of operations.


A new president for the Swedish gambling regulator, Maryland refuses to take up online casino legislation, Rush Street is reportedly considering a sale and a study says casino cannibalization is a myth.

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