News In Brief: May 30-June 2, 2023

June 2, 2023
A video gaming terminal tax in Illinois has been ruled unlawful, after a judge struck down a local ordinance.


Illinois Court Strikes Down Local Gaming Tax


A local ordinance taxing video gaming terminals (VGTs) in Illinois has been ruled unlawful and barred by state law, a circuit court judge has ruled.

Perkin officials in October approved a city ordinance assessing a “fee” worth 2.5 percent of net revenues received by any VGT registered to operate in the city, which is located south of Peoria, Illinois.

The ordinance called for proceeds from the fee to be split between the city’s police and fire pension funds. Violations could trigger fines of up to $750 a day.

Two members of the Illinois Gaming Machine Operators Association (IGMOA) sued the city late last year in Tazewell County Circuit Court, arguing the fee was an illegal tax on terminal operators.

Such a tax is “unauthorized, is unlawful and unenforceable” because the state’s Video Gaming Act bars them, the plaintiffs argued in their lawsuit filed in December 2022.

“This ruling sends a strong message that Illinois communities should work with our members to draw in more customers and play, not drive them away with unnecessary taxing schemes, and we will take these arguments to other communities where these local taxes are being considered and pursued,” said Ivan Fernandez, IGMOA’s executive director.


Massachusetts Joins Chorus Of States Seeking Prosecution Of Illegal Sites


Massachusetts has become the eighth state to urge the federal government to prioritize prosecuting illegal, offshore sportsbooks, and online casinos.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) on Tuesday (May 30) signed off on a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland asking the Department of Justice to “prioritize investigation of these offshore sites.”

“We hold our licensees to the highest standards to meet those priorities. Illegal, offshore gambling operators are not held to these same standards by any regulatory authority, and often take advantage of the legalized landscape in jurisdictions such as Massachusetts to attract customers to their products,” the MGC wrote.

The letter added Massachusetts to the list of seven states that sent a letter to the Department of Justice dated April 28 asking federal law enforcement to “prioritize combating” illegal offshore gambling sites. The seven other states are Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada and New Jersey.

“The MGC and our regulatory colleagues in other jurisdiction are concerned about the dangers of illegal, offshore gambling sites,” according to the letter signed by the five-member commission.


IGT Inks Connecticut iLottery Contract, Launches First Multichannel Progressive In U.S.


IGT has signed a contract to deploy an iLottery system and provide interactive lottery draw game and keno operations on behalf of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation, the global lottery supplier giant said on Wednesday (May 31).

The Connecticut Lottery last year held a competitive request-for-proposals process to select an iLottery partner in line with the provisions of a 2021 gaming expansion law that also provided for mobile sports wagering and online gaming.

Unlike Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and other states, however, Connecticut will not be able to offer interactive instant lottery games.

In a statement, IGT said Connecticut’s iLottery program “is anticipated to launch in the late fall of 2023.”

In a separate statement on Wednesday, IGT also announced the launch of the U.S.’ first omnichannel progressive jackpots for Wheel of Fortune games in New Jersey.

The omnichannel games will see progressive jackpots accumulate when the game is played either in Atlantic City casinos or through New Jersey’s online casino platforms, enabling both casino patrons and online players to win higher prizes.

IGT said the offering was the second omnichannel wide area progressive slots game in North America, following its Powerbucks omnichannel game that is live in Canada.


Malaysian Leader Confirms Gaming Law Deliberations


Malaysia’s Prime Minister has confirmed the government is reviewing four laws related to gambling to update regulation of land-based and online segments.

In response to a question with notice in parliament on May 24, Anwar Ibrahim’s written reply said he hoped that amendment of the laws will allow the government to “enforce and regulate licensed gambling activities and online gambling more comprehensively”.

Anwar’s reply noted that the review covers the Common Gaming Houses Act 1953, the Pool Betting Act 1967, the Lotteries Act 1952 and the Betting Act 1953, all of which lag technological and market transformation.

Malaysia tentatively proposed the legalisation of online gambling for non-Muslim citizens and residents in 2020, but progress has been slow and vulnerable to electoral shifts.


US Court Backs Solaire, Midas Casinos In Hacking Saga


The New York Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that dismissed a claim by Bangladesh’s central bank against Solaire casino operator Bloomberry Resorts over hacked bank funds gambled at the Philippine resort and the nearby Midas casino.

The appellate division of the New York Supreme Court on Tuesday (May 30) upheld a Supreme Court branch finding on April 8 that Bangladesh Bank’s case was outside the court’s jurisdiction, according to a Bloomberry filing to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear if Bangladesh Bank would appeal.

The long-running case has seen the Bangladesh authorities frustrated at several turns over jurisdictional issues, despite $101m in bank funds being hacked from the US Federal Reserve in New York in early 2016.

Up to $81m of that money was gambled at the Solaire and the nearby Midas Hotel & Casino, whose company Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co is also a defendant in the case.


North Carolina Mobile Betting Bill Heading To Senate Floor


Two North Carolina Senate committees voted to advance legislation that would legalize mobile sports betting in the state, sending the bill to the Senate floor as early as Wednesday (May 31).

The Senate Finance Committee was the first to act Tuesday, approving an amended version of House Bill 347, a bill that permits up to 12 operators to offer mobile sports wagering.

The amended version includes several technical changes, but the most significant changes from the bill approved by a separate Senate committee last week include the removal of legalized historical horseracing, as well as adding a requirement that the launch of mobile betting must take place within one year of the bill taking effect.

Later Tuesday afternoon, the Senate Rules and Operations Committee also approved the bill with no further changes, setting the stage for the bill to head to the Senate floor.

The Senate is expected to take the bill up for a second reading on Wednesday and will require two separate successful votes in order to pass the Senate. If it does, the bill will return to the House for concurrence.


Ghana Praises MGA Following Information Exchange


The Gaming Commission of Ghana (GCG) has said it should “benchmark” itself against the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) following its second visit to meet the European regulator in months.

The purpose of the visit was to learn about the MGA’s structure, as well as share information regarding licensing and compliance processes, criminal probity assessments, anti-money laundering supervision processes and risk-based approaches to regulation.

Kobby Annan, deputy commissioner of the GCG, said: “This visit has demonstrated the importance of engaging more with stakeholders, and of adopting a more robust data collection process and a wider range of enforcement approaches and guidelines.”

Kinga Warda, the MGA’s chief of policy and international affairs, said the collaboration “signifies our commitment to promoting responsible gambling practices, regulatory excellence, and fostering a secure and transparent gaming environment”.

The MGA similarly hosted a delegation from Ghana at the end of 2022.


A video gaming terminal tax in Illinois has been ruled unlawful, after a judge struck down a local ordinance.

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