News in Brief: May 30-June 3, 2022

June 1, 2022
New Jersey regulators issue a civil penalty against the former owners of Golden Nugget Online Gaming for reporting failings.


New Jersey Fines GNOG Over Legacy Reporting Failings


Golden Nugget Online Gaming (GNOG) has been penalized $50,000 by New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) for failing to submit meeting minutes of its audit and compliance committees prior to its acquisition by DraftKings.

The company was also delinquent in submitting copies of its state and federal tax returns as well as other financial filings.

A settlement order published on Wednesday (June 1) said the DGE previously warned both GNOG and the Golden Nugget casino in Atlantic City of the untimely filings, which are required under state regulations.

A stipulation of New Jersey’s approval of the sale of GNOG to DraftKings, which completed in May, was that former parent company Fertitta Entertainment would be responsible for any regulatory assessments related to events prior to closing.

The DGE accepted Fertitta Entertainment’s offer to pay $50,000 to resolve the matter, according to the settlement order.


Gaming 'Fatigue' Reason For Iowa Casino Moratorium


Republican Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver said gaming “fatigue“ among the members of his caucus is why a temporary moratorium on new casino licenses was passed on the final day of the 2022 legislative session last week.

“Really it wasn’t a tough thing to get passed,” Whitver said on Iowa public television. “It’s a fatigue with a lot of the gaming bills we’ve passed. We just want to put in a pause and see how this shakes out over the next couple of years.”

There are 19 casinos in Iowa and a proposed 20th casino in Cedar Rapids would be blocked from applying for a license for a third time until July 2024 should Republican Governor Kim Reynolds sign House File 2494.

Whitver denied that lawmakers were taking any licensing decision out of the hands of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. He said it would still be up to the commission to decide, “but the legislature is… trying to make policy that is best for Iowans.”

Whitver noted that Iowa had seen a lot of gaming changes recently, including the launch of legal sports betting and Nebraska legalizing casinos.

“Especially after the sports gaming bill that passed, there’s so many ads, and so much talk about gaming, that people said, ‘We need to put a pause on this,’” Whitver said.


Washington Tribes Contributed $5.6bn In 2020


Despite the coronavirus pandemic that closed tribal casinos in Washington state for most of 2020, tribes were still able to contribute $5.6bn in gross state product, according to a report from the Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA).

The group's latest economic and community benefits report released Tuesday (May 31) found tribes still paid $26.5m to the Washington State Gambling Commission in 2020, a decline of only $5m from the previous year.

The report also found the 29 tribal governments employed one in every 86 state residents. That figure translates into 54,000 jobs traced back to tribes, including more than 37,000 job in casinos, markets and in the timber industry.

The report, authored by senior policy associate Jonathan Taylor of the University of Arizona in Tucson, found tribes accounted for $6.6bn in gross state product in 2019. Washington Tribes paid $1.2bn in state and local taxes, according to the report.

“If tribes were out-of-state corporations bringing this economic activity… to Washington, legislators would likely offer tax breaks and reductions,” Taylor said in a statement.


Swedish Self-Exclusion System Revamped


On Tuesday (May 31) the Swedish Gambling Authority (SGA) launched a new version of the country’s self-exclusion register, Spelpaus.

The update was primarily to make the service more user-friendly, the regulator said, and to allow gamblers to extend an ongoing exclusion.

Since the service launched along with Sweden’s online overhaul in 2019, more than 75,000 people have signed up.

The technical requirements for operators to connect to Spelpaus, which was the source of several fines in the early days of the market, have not changed with the update, the SGA said.

“ does not solve a gambling addiction, but can mean that you have time to reflect on your gambling habits and the opportunity to change them for the better or choose not to play again,” said Camilla Rosenberg, director general of the authority.


Even More Ad Fines In Lithuania


Two further fines have been handed out by Lithuania’s Gambling Supervisory Authority for gambling operators advertising their offerings on their own websites.

Olympic Casino Group Baltija and Tete-a-tete were both handed a fine of €25,000 for breaching the country’s tough advertising restrictions.

Both companies were found non-compliant in spot-checks between October 2021 and February 2022.

Infringing messaging included marketing copy that spoke of high quality graphics, exciting games and other messages that “encouraged visitors to the company 's website to participate in remote gambling”, the regulator said.


Lottery Shops Given Dominican Extension


The Dominican Republic’s Lottery Banks will have another week to adhere to regulations amid protests

May 30, marked the deadline for the Dominican Republic’s wayward lottery banks to sign an affidavit of compliance stating that they will adhere to newly created regulations. At the eleventh hour it was announced that the deadline had again been extended, this time till June 6. The original deadline was April 18.

In the past weeks, the lottery banks, represented by their association Fenabanca, have tussled with the authorities, promising to protest on the steps of the National Palace if their demands were not heard. Most recently, a video emerged of Fenabanca members surrounding and harassing director of casinos and gambling Teofilo Quico Tabar.

Fenabanca is particularly concerned by the new regulation that there can only be one lottery bank per 200 metres.

Lottery banks in the Dominican Republic are small shops that have gambling games on the premises. There are an estimated 100,000 banks operating in the country with approximately 30 more opening daily.

These banks have fallen foul of the island’s overhaul of gambling regulations in the wake of several fraudulent lottery scandals. In February, the government passed Measure 63-22, which places lottery banks under the purview of regulatory bodies overseen by the Ministry of Finance.


Baltic Bet Fined In Lithuania


In the latest in a string of fines, the Lithuanian Gaming Control Authority has issued €18,941 penalty against Baltic Bet for breach of the country’s advertising prohibition.

The regulator said that website had broken the law because it “encouraged visitors to the company’s website to participate in remote gambling”.

Baltic Bet company has until June 27 to bring itself back into compliance or it faces possible licence revocation, the authority said.

The infraction took place in October 2021 and included text promoting the operator’s games.

The fine can be appealed.


Richmond Mayor Opposes Casino Plan In Virginia Budget


Richmond can schedule a second voter referendum on a casino proposal in November, but Mayor Levar Stoney is opposed to the new state budget agreement that would not allow regulators to license the facility if approved by a legislative study on a proposed casino in Petersburg.

“As I said in my state of the city speech, I will reject anything that would harm opportunities for Richmond residents,” Stoney said Friday (May 27) at a news conference. “I believe the current language in the budget does exactly that.”

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that the leaders of the Senate Finance and Appropriations and House Appropriations committees reached a budget deal Friday that would delay the Virginia Lottery licensing the Richmond casino even if approved by voters.

The Richmond City Council in January approved plans to have a second casino referendum in November to establish a casino in Virginia’s capital city.

The resolution adopted on January 24 re-selected Urban One as Richmond’s casino development partner, nominated the same site as last year for the project, and ratified a community host agreement for the $565m facility.

Richmond voters in November 2021 rejected the casino proposal by a narrow margin.


Ex-MGA Official Charged With Money Laundering


The former chief technical officer at the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), Jason Farrugia, has appeared in court charged with money laundering and other offences.

According to reports in the Times of Malta, Farrugia and his wife Christine both pleaded not guilty to money laundering last week.

Jason Farrugia is also charged with extortion, accepting bribes, fraud exceeding €5,000, misappropriation, trading in influence, disclosing confidential information and computer misuse, the report said.

The MGA said in a statement that Farrugia had resigned as CTO in December 2021, after the regulator began an internal investigation.

“The results of these investigations were passed on to the relevant authorities and the MGA has been, and remains, at their disposal and providing all required assistance. In the meantime, the MGA continues to take all the necessary steps to ensure the integrity of its data,” said the regulator.


New Jersey regulators issue a civil penalty against the former owners of Golden Nugget Online Gaming for reporting failings.

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