News In Brief: March 4-March 8, 2024

March 8, 2024
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U.S. Supreme Court extends the Department of Interior's deadline response in a case seeking to end mobile sports betting in Florida, while a Hawaii lawmaker pushes for a comprehensive analysis of the potential legalisation of online sports betting.
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U.S. Supreme Court Extends Deadline In Florida Case
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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to extend the deadline for the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) to file a response in the West Flagler Associates case, which seeks to end mobile sports betting in Florida.

West Flagler claims Interior Secretary Deb Haaland violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) by allowing a compact between the Seminole Tribe and the state of Florida which authorizes gambling off tribal lands to go into effect.

The original deadline was Wednesday (March 13). U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar filed the extension on Tuesday (March 5), citing “the heavy press of earlier assigned cases to the attorneys handling this matter.”

The DOI will now have until April 12 to file a response to West Flagler’s brief.

The Seminole Tribe was allowed to offer retail and state-wide online sports betting when Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and the legislature in 2021 approved the latest compact.

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Hawaii Forms Working Group To Consider Legal Sports Betting
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A House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) filed in the Hawaii legislature requests a state agency convene a sports wagering working group to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the potential legalization and regulation of online sports betting in the state.

The analysis would be overseen by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. HCR 70 was offered Wednesday (March 6) by Representative Daniel Holt, a Democrat and chairman of the House Economic Development Committee.

Among the reasons cited for studying the issue was an estimate from the American Gaming Association (AGA) that Americans wager more than $63bn each year in the illegal market. “The legalization of sports wagering presents an opportunity to generate significant revenue for Hawaii,” the resolution states. 

The working group would have nine members, including two representatives of the Sports Betting Alliance, a coalition of operators that includes BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Fanatics Sportsbook.

The Sports Wagering Working Group would be tasked with estimating potential revenue from mobile sports betting, and identifying an appropriate regulatory structure and consumer protections. A report is expected to be filed with the legislature no later than 20 days before the start of the 2025 regular session.

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Changes In Belgium Will Drive Players To The Black Market, Says BAGO
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The Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO) has once again warned that restrictive player protection measures will unintentionally drive consumers to the black market.

BAGO President Tom De Clercq, who has advocated for advertising restrictions for the industry, told Vixio GamblingCompliance that a complete ban means consumers can no longer distinguish between legal and illegal providers, driving many of them to illegal online operators.

A recent survey conducted by the research firm NEPA on behalf of BAGO, with a sample of 1,000 Belgian players in May to June 2023, just before the decree restricting advertising came into effect, found one in five Belgian players had played on an illegal website in the past three months.

“Among the most vulnerable players, this figure rose to 43 percent. Moreover, 70 percent of the respondents were familiar with an illegal brand name. Yet another proof that illegal operators easily find their way to Belgian players through online advertising. Similar legislative acts in Italy and Spain have resulted in an unprecedented growth of illegal markets,” De Clercq told Vixio GamblingCompliance.

BAGO also fears that the mandatory separation of player accounts with the same operator makes it “much more difficult for the player to keep track of his or her expenses” and could impede an operator’s ability to detect problematic behaviour early.

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Spain Arrests 53 In Crime Ring Hacking Satellites To Defraud Betting Operators
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The Spanish national police, with support from Interpol, Europol and the Spanish Tax Agency have arrested 53 people suspected of acting as “betting mules.”

According to Europol, the suspects allowed organised crime networks to use their accounts on betting websites to bet on ‘predetermined results.’

The operation spanned over 20 countries and included fixed football, tennis and table tennis matches.

Through the use of over 1500 personal accounts, the network racked up approximately €2 million in winnings.

The perpetrators used a refined and advanced hacking system to defraud betting houses. They intercepted satellite feeds to view live streams ahead of betting operators and then placed the correct winning bets.

The arrests are part of a larger investigation that began in 2020 which has involved the arrest of 22 additional suspects. In the years since, the authorities have seized €13,000 in counterfeit banknotes, two satellite dishes, 47 bank accounts and other illegal equipment including routers and phones.

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Brazilian Football Defends Itself Against Match-Fixing First Place Ranking
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The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) has issued a statement highlighting the progress it has made against match-fixing following Sportradar’s report that named Brazil as the country with the highest number of “suspicious betting events” in the world.

The CBF claims that Brazil hosts the most football games in the world, which would contribute to them being ranked first.

The federation also pointed out that the number of suspicious betting events had fallen since 2022, and that only 15 of the 109 matches this year were organised by the CBF. Both details were reported by Sportradar in their report.

Not already reported by Sportradar and revealed by the CBF: the fact that the number of games monitored by Sportradar in Brazil increased nearly 400 percent in 2023. This would indicate that the number of suspicious events fell from 2022 even more than what was reported.

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Rhode Island Ready To Become Seventh U.S. iGaming State
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The Rhode Island Lottery Commission has adopted new regulations for internet gaming ahead of the anticipated launch this week of a Bally’s online casino platform in accordance with a June 2023 state law.

Bally’s is understood to have begun a live testing period for its Rhode Island online casino on Friday (March 1), which was the effective date of last year’s iGaming law.

The Rhode Island Lottery also published updated regulations dated March 1 to include a new chapter specifically to address online casino games. 

The new iGaming regulations generally conform to those applied to the lottery’s Sportsbook Rhode Island online sports-betting platform, although players must be at least 21 years-old to participate in online casino games versus 18 for sports wagering.

Available games on the Bally’s online casino will be limited to online slots and live casino table games streamed from a studio within the Bally’s Lincoln casino, with virtual table games not permitted by state law. 

All games must be approved by the director of the Rhode Island Lottery and certified by an independent testing laboratory, according to the regulations. Bally’s will also be responsible for ensuring that game providers are vetted and licensed by the Rhode Island state police and Department of Business Regulation.

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Belgium Sets Date For Advertising Ban
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The King of Belgium has given royal approval to amendments to the country’s gambling establishment and player protection law passed by the House of Representatives in January that bans advertising and introduces a host of other restrictions. 

The new law, which includes a ban on bonuses, as well as the possibility for people under 21 years old to be refunded if they are not asked for ID when they purchase gambling products, will come into force on September 1, 2024.

Separately, the Flemish Media Regulator (VRM) issued Dutch media outlet VRT Canvas with a €10,000 administrative fine on February 15  for including online gambling promotions during its broadcast of the Europa League and Europa Conference League in September and October 2023. 

The VRM said it “has established that broadcasting sponsorship announcements on behalf of a license holder for online gambling during the interruption of a competition is contrary to the correct application of the Gambling Advertising Royal Decree”.

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Ukraine Hands Out First Gambling Advertising Fine
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Ukraine’s Gambling and Lotteries Regulation Commission (KRAIL) has handed out its first fine for distributing illegal gambling advertising.

The UAH2.13m fine (€51,000) was issued to an unnamed company for distributing advertising for unlicensed gambling, according to a KRAIL press release on March 1.

The fine followed an investigation by the gambling regulator; however, the press release lacks specific details about the violation.

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Top Sports UAB Fined Again In Lithuania For Ignoring Exclusion Request
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Lithuania’s gambling regulator has imposed yet another fine on Top Sport UAB after the operator did not respond to a player’s request to add them to its self-exclusion list. 

The €25,000 fine can be appealed, according to a press release on the Gambling Supervisory Service’s website on March 1.

Top Sport has been issued with fines several times in Lithuania in recent years, including three different times in a single week in June 2023. One of these fines was also €15,000 and issued for allowing someone to gamble from outside the country.

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U.S. Supreme Court extends the Department of Interior's deadline response in a case seeking to end mobile sports betting in Florida, while a Hawaii lawmaker pushes for a comprehensive analysis of the potential legalisation of online sports betting.

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