News In Brief: May 8-May 12, 2023

May 11, 2023
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A Denmark gambling harm research group has revealed the donations it received from the local industry and Kyrgyzstan issues its first casino licence after un-banning the sector.

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Danish Addiction Research Funding Boosted By Industry 

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The Danish Gambling Committee (DLK) has received DKK12m (€1.61m) from the gambling industry for research into addiction over the next three years.

DLK was established in 2023 and is an impartial grant committee tasked with distributing money donated by a number of gambling companies for research into gambling addiction in the country.

The committee’s aim is to create a strong and healthy research environment with a focus on gambling.

Additionally, “the professional competencies of the board must set out the framework for an impartial evaluation committee, which must assess and select received research applications in order to ensure arm's length for the donors and protect the impartiality of the research projects”, according to its announcement on March 10.

Funding has been donated by Kindred Group, Danske Spil, Spilnu.dk, Mr Green and Betsson Group, which are all licensed by the Danish Gambling Authority,

Jørgen Frøkiær, head of the clinical medicine department at Aarhus University, where the DLK is housed, said his team is “pleased that the gaming companies are contributing to being part of the solution”.

“We are now looking forward to helping a research area well on its way, which has had a difficult time for many years,” Frøkiær said.

The committee consists of a board of directors, a grant committee with Danish and foreign researchers, an industry follow-up group with representatives of the gambling industry and an annual research conference.

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First Licence Issued For Casino In Kyrgyzstan

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The State Service for Regulation and Supervision of the Financial Market of Kyrgyzstan issued a licence to operate the first casino in the country.

The move comes amid ongoing government efforts to boost tourism and attract foreign investment to the country.

The licence was issued to the “Grand Casino” LLC, which paid a fee of 84m soms ($1m). The company will operate a gambling establishment with tables and slot machines under the same brand “Grand Casino” in the capital of the country, Bishkek.

On June 30, 2022, President Sadyr Japarov signed the law on gambling in Kyrgyzstan. After that, the Cabinet of Ministers approved a list of corresponding requirements for legal entities operating casinos, among which is gambling being permitted only for foreigners over 21 years old.

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Danish Athletes Win €405,732 Court Case Against Bet365

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A Danish court has ordered operator bet365 to pay DKK4.7m (€405,732) to professional athletes after the company used their images on its Twitter and Facebook profiles without consent.

The case put to the Copenhagen Maritime and Commercial Court was whether the use of the images was justified because they were of an “editorial nature” or whether they were in a marketing context, according to the ruling on March 8.

The case was filed on January 11, 2022.

Defendants include current Premier League football stars Christian Eriksen and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, the Handball Players' Association and the Danish Elite Sports Athletes' Association.

It was noted in the ruling that none of these players consented to the posts including their images and some, such as Eriksen, have never promoted gambling products individually.

The plaintiffs argued that between February 21, 2019 and March 11, 2021, bet365 used photos of a range of athletes included in the case, with the exception of Mikkel Hansen, where only his name was used.

Ultimately, the court ruled that each elite sportsperson should receive DKK50,000 in payment per post. Hansen also only received DKK50,000 for the two posts referring to him, not the full DKK150,000 he was seeking.

The fines must be paid within 14 days, according to the decision.

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PointsBet, University Of Maryland End Partnership

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PointsBet confirmed Tuesday (May 9) that it has ended its marketing partnership with the University of Maryland.

“PointsBet and Playfly Sports have reached a mutual agreement to end their sponsorship at the University of Maryland,” a PointsBet spokesman told VIXIO GamblingCompliance via email.

The deal, which was announced in December 2021, had been between Maryland Sports Properties, a Playfly Sports company, and the university.

In January, PointsBet discontinued a referral bonus program for the University of Colorado every time it referred a player to sign up for an account. Deals between universities and sports-betting operators drew national scrutiny after a New York Times article last year highlighted the marketing agreements.

PointsBet and the University of Maryland did not have a bonus program.

Additionally, The Athletic reported that Michigan State University and Caesars Entertainment had “inactivated” their partnership in late April, as Caesars had signage removed from the Louisiana State University campus.

Caesars did not respond to a request for comment.

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Caesars Signs With Tribes For Maine Sports Betting

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Maine’s four federally-recognized tribes have signed an exclusive deal with Caesars Entertainment to offer mobile sports betting in the state, the gaming company confirmed Tuesday (May 9).

The long-term agreement stems from legislation passed by the Maine legislature in 2022 and signed into law by Democratic Governor Janet Mills legalizing sports betting.

The bill gives the tribes exclusivity on mobile wagering. The Penobscot Nation, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, and the Mi’kmaq Nation are collectively known as the Wabanaki Confederation.

Caesars deal is with three of the four tribes, with the Passamaquoddy Tribe not participating. Eric Hession, president of Caesars Digital, expects the deal to generate significant revenues for the tribes and the state.

The law signed by the governor also legalizes retail sports betting at Maine’s two commercial casinos, as well as at off-track betting locations.

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Victoria To Lift Wagering POC Tax To 15 Percent

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Australia’s Victoria state will raise its wagering point of consumption (POC) tax from 10 to 15 percent, effective July 2024.

The move, introduced to state parliament on May 2, brings Victoria in line with most other states and ends its status as the smallest POC tax in Australia, first at 8 percent then 10 percent.

Queensland state and the Australian Capital Territory are the new industry outliers with a 20 percent POC tax.

The Victorian government said last week that the bulk of the increase in revenue will flow to the racing industry and provide more certainty to the industry amid pessimism over industry funding.

However, the move is also likely to hurt markets on margins, online competition and promotions, Racing.com’s Paul Tatnell said in commentary on Monday (May 8).

Tatnell argued additional government pressure is likely to reduce prize money, bonuses and even the number of races in Victoria.

POC tax hikes are supported by many in the racing industry and by retail wagering monopoly Tabcorp Holdings because they balance the national reach of corporate bookmakers and their licensing perks in the Northern Territory.

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Coljuegos Gets New Interim President

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Colombia’s gaming regulatory body Coljuegos has a new interim president, its third in the past six months.

Sammy Libos Zuñiga will be the temporary head of the organisation, after his appointment last week (May 5) by Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro.

Libos Zuñiga is another appointee from the conservative party, like his predecessor Roger Carillo Campo, and unlike Petro.

A trained economist, he will continue holding his position of deputy technical director of fiscal policy at the Ministry of Finance.

Libos Zuñiga is no stranger to the workings of Coljuegos, having previously served as the head of the planning office.

Ex-head of the regulator Carillo Campo served for just two months after he was asked to step down as part of a mass resignation following a breakdown in healthcare negotiations.

Carillo Campo replaced César Augusto Valencia, who left office in January after two and half years at the helm.

According to Colombia’s W Radio, the next President after the interim will be Marco Emilio Hincapié, who is currently the general secretary of President Gustavo Petro’s leftist party, Colombia Humana.

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Iowa Colleges Dealing With Gambling Investigation

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The University of Iowa and Iowa State are the latest U.S. colleges dealing with sports-betting investigations, following the firing of the University of Alabama head baseball coach last week.

Iowa’s athletic department confirmed the investigation on Monday (May 8) and shared more information about the incident.

“We are aware of the sports wagering investigation and are fully cooperating,” the university said in a statement. “We have alerted the NCAA of the potential violations and we have hired outside counsel to assist in the investigative process.”

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission is investigating both incidents.

In its statement, the university confirmed it was notified on May 2 about “potential criminal conduct related to sports wagering that also suggested possible NCAA violations.”

The university said it received information a couple of days after May 2 about 111 individuals, including 26 current student-athletes from baseball, football, men’s track and field, and men’s wrestling. The list does not include any current of former coaches.

Iowa State also notified the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) on Monday that it was aware of allegations that some of its student-athletes may have violated rules by betting.

The NCAA prohibits athletes from wagering in any capacity. Last week, Alabama fired its head baseball coach after regulators flagged betting irregularities at a sportsbook in Ohio on a game against Louisiana State University.

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Bill Boyd Steps Down At Boyd Gaming

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After nearly 50 years at the gaming company that he co-founded with his father Sam, Bill Boyd has stepped down from Boyd Gaming’s board of directors.

Boyd had occupied the co-executive chairman role with Marianne Boyd Johnson, who assumed the full time position on Thursday (May 4). She joined the company’s board in 1990 after starting at the Orleans Casino in Las Vegas.

Johnson is also a director at Western Alliance Bancorporation, a regional bank headquartered in Phoenix, with subsidiaries in Nevada, Arizona and California.

Meanwhile, Boyd will continue as chairman emeritus of the company, although he will not be a member of the board of directors, according to the company’s proxy statement.

“The company has grown and thrived under Mr. Boyd’s leadership, and he will leave behind a legacy of integrity, philanthropy, service and excellence.”

Boyd Gaming was founded in 1975 with the California Hotel and Casino in downtown Las Vegas. Currently, the Las Vegas-based company operates 28 properties in 10 states, including 11 in Nevada, and has a market capitalization of $7.16bn.

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Maine’s Sports-Betting Operator Revenue Cap Troublesome

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The Sports Betting Alliance (SBA), a coalition of major U.S. sports-betting operators, has expressed concern about potentially doing business in Maine because of the state’s revenue-sharing plan that requires Indian tribes to retain 60 to 70 percent of the revenue earned by private sportsbook partners operating under their licenses.

“We have long expressed concerns with the cap when it was being debated last year,” SBA spokesman Nathan Click said. “These concerns still stand, and we would welcome the opportunity to work once more with the legislature, tribes, and other stakeholders to address them.”

Click told VIXIO GamblingCompliance that operators have the same concerns with a new iGaming proposal, which also includes a 30 percent cap on operator revenues. The iGaming bill, LD 1777, was sponsored by Democratic state Representative Laura Supica and would allow the state’s federally-recognized tribes to operate licensed iGaming state-wide.

The cap appears to align with federal restrictions imposed related to tribal casino management contracts imposed by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

Click said the experiences of dozens of states show the best way to bring those betting with illegal offshore sites is to create a competitive legal market, where “bookmakers and gaming operators are able to compete” for business.

“The cap in Maine makes that kind of participation and competition impossible, leaving bettors with no choice but to continue using unsafe illegal apps,” Click said.

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Washington Debates Chips Sold Using Debit Cards

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The Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC) will consider a proposal on Thursday (May 11) to update its gaming regulations to allow for card readers to be placed on table games for the purchase of chips using debit cards.

Light & Wonder originally submitted the proposed regulatory change in April 2022, believing it was needed as they introduced their new product, AToM, which is a tabletop automated teller machine (ATM) that allows players to pay for chips using a debit card without leaving the table.

Currently, only cash is allowed to purchase chips at gaming tables. Washington gaming regulations do allow for debit card transactions; however, at cardrooms, all transactions must take place at the cashier’s cage or at an ATM.

Allowing debit card transactions at tables may allow for more control over cash withdrawals.

In Nevada, operators can set daily limits on the amount of cash patrons are allowed to withdraw from their accounts. Those limits are set for each patron and require a 24-hour waiting period prior to any change to their limits.

Currently, any limits on ATM withdrawals would be imposed by the patron’s bank.

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A Denmark gambling harm research group has revealed the donations it received from the local industry and Kyrgyzstan issues its first casino licence after un-banning the sector.

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