News In Brief: September 18-September 22, 2023

September 22, 2023
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Thousands of people in Kentucky are pre-registered already in anticipation of the launch of online sports betting next week. 
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Kentucky Sports Betting Set For Approaching Mobile Launch
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Prospective Kentucky sports bettors have pre-registered more than 60,000 accounts in advance of the state’s mobile launch next week, according to Governor Andy Beshear.

The state is set to launch mobile betting on Thursday (September 28), following a launch of retail betting at state racetracks on September 7.

Seven mobile operators have been licensed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to begin accepting wagers on day one: bet365; BetMGM; Barstool Sportsbook; Caesars Sportsbook; DraftKings; FanDuel; and Fanatics.

In addition, Circa Sports has been licensed, but plans to launch its mobile application later this year, the commission said in a release.

In the statement, Beshear said that the state saw more than $4.5m wagered in the state over the first two weekends of retail betting.

“This is a strong number that certainly reflects the excitement Kentuckians have for the opening of sports wagering,” the Democratic governor said. “With college football and the NFL season underway, plus the launch of mobile wagering, we expect that number will grow significantly.”

The state projects that the sports-betting program will produce $23m a year when fully implemented.

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Academic Report Says UK Ad Self-Regulation Is Failing
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Self-regulation of advertising of gambling is “completely failing”, a researcher at the University of Bristol has said, with researchers finding about 11,000 gambling messages across match TV and radio broadcasts and social media in the first weekend of Premier League football.

The study of media coverage between August 11-14 found that 92 percent of 391 marketing ads breached ad regulations because they were not identified as advertising.

Only about 21 percent included gambling harm reduction messages, while less than 19 percent included age warnings, the researchers said.

The Betting and Gaming Council challenged the research, saying it “fundamentally misunderstands advertising and how it is regulated”.

“Betting advertising and sponsorship must comply with strict guidelines and safer gambling messaging, which promotes safer gambling tools and signposts to help those concerned about their betting, is regularly and prominently displayed,” a spokesperson said. 

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Ohio Fines Hollywood Casino Columbus $200,000
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The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCC) approved a settlement agreement Wednesday (September 20) with the Hollywood Casino Columbus property for violations that included failing to meet minimum security standards.

The Penn Entertainment property was fined $200,000 after regulators alleged that the casino failed to meet required security staffing minimums on several occasions dating back to 2017.

The casino also failed to notify the commission that it was understaffed and was unable to properly respond to a March 2023 incident because the property was understaffed.

In addition, the commission said that the casino allowed an underage patron onto the casino floor despite failed identity verification at the door.

According to the consent agreement, the casino has hired 18 additional security officers since March and is in the process of hiring more.

The casino has also implemented a revised security plan.

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MGM Resorts Restores Full U.S. Resort Operations
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MGM Resorts International has resumed normal operations nationwide more than a week after disclosing a cyberattack had severely affected both its regional and Nevada properties.

“We are pleased that all of our casinos, hotels, dining, entertainment, and resort services are operating normally, and are welcoming thousands of guests each day,” the Las Vegas-based company said Wednesday (September 20).

The company first disclosed it was hacked on September 11, which affected the company’s hotel and casino operations in eight states. MGM had struggled to return to normal operations for more than a week. 

In a research note Wednesday, Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Chad Beynon estimated MGM’s financial losses from the cyberattack would be between $20m and $40m. He estimated the costs to Caesars Entertainment, which confirmed last week it also dealt with a cyberattack, would be $15m.

Beynon said he spent three days in Las Vegas last week while MGM was trying to recover from the attack on its company.

“Being in Vegas during the cyber attacks was eye-opening as property internet, reservation desks, check-in desks, elevators, and machines were not running smoothly,” he wrote. “That said, we believe the financial damage was contained and relatively minimal.”

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Colorado Self-Exclusion List Tops 500
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The Colorado Division of Gaming has launched the state’s self-exclusion program, which allows individuals with gaming concerns to be excluded from the state’s regulated gaming industry.

Previously, the Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado (PGCC) enrolled individuals and managed the self-exclusion list. 

“We currently have over 550 on the Division of Gaming's self-exclusion list, which includes names from the time when PGCC was maintaining the list,” Shannon Gray, a spokeswoman with the Colorado Department of Revenue, said in an email Wednesday (September 20). 

The new self-exclusion program, which was launched earlier this month as part of Responsible Gaming Education Month, allows people to enroll voluntarily. Once enrolled, they are excluded from all Colorado regulated gaming, including casino gambling and retail and mobile sports betting. 

The exclusion period options are one year, three years or five years. 

The self-exclusion list has already been disseminated to licensees in Colorado, which will allow them to take the steps needed to prevent enrolled individuals from gambling, the division said. 

In a statement, the division stressed that the goal over the next year is to build a robust website to make signups and dissemination as efficient as possible.

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California’s Effort To Resolve Legality Of Cardroom Games Remains Alive
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A controversial bill that would give tribal nations in California a three-month window in 2024 to take legal action against cardrooms that offer blackjack or baccarat dealt by third-party proposition players (TPPP) are in violation of tribal exclusivity rights.

Senate Bill 549, also known as the Tribal Declaratory Relief Act of 2023, passed the Senate with a 37-0 vote, with three senators not voting, in May, but remained in the Assembly Rules Committee as the legislature adjourned on Thursday (September 14).

Tribal casinos have alleged for years that card rooms are violating state gaming law and infringing on their exclusive right to operate “banked” card games.

Under the current bill, tribes will get a three-month window beginning on January 1, 2024, to pursue one lawsuit only against the cardrooms. That start date was expected to be amended by lawmakers.   

The legislation also proposes to consolidate all litigation in the Sacramento County Superior Court, where every cardroom would have a legal right to intervene in the lawsuit. 

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Postcode Lottery Ad Banned
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An ad for the People’s Postcode Lottery has been banned by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) because it appeared to suggest taking part in the lottery could solve people’s financial woes.

An ad for the lottery that appeared in the Daily Mail newspaper depicted a couple who had cancelled their wedding after one of them was made redundant, but had resurrected their plans after winning a five-figure sum on the People’s Postcode Lottery.

The UK-based lottery argued that the ad did not imply that the couple were hard up for money in general, simply that their ability to pay for an expensive wedding was in question.

The ASA rejected this argument, noting that the ad portrayed the couple as stressed over their wedding plans and that gambling had relieved that stress and provided a solution to their financial concerns.
 

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Dutch Regulator Chair Defends Duty Of Care Concerns
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The chair of the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) has hit back at “not pleasant” reactions from stakeholders after announcing shortcomings in gambling licensees’ duty of care to prevent gambling addiction.

In a blog post on September 18, the chair of the KSA, René Jansen, said the regulator has acknowledged that a “fragmented interpretation of the duty of care is not always to the advantage of the player”. 

The government is expected to update duty of care requirements in Dutch gambling law later this year.

“The duty of care is an extremely important task (perhaps the most important) that a provider has, and it must therefore be taken very seriously. Based on the findings in this study, we will help with this by further defining the standards and tightening our policy rules,” Jansen said.

The head of the KSA also defended the licensing system, saying before it was introduced “there was no duty of care at all” and called on operators and trade associations to “raise the duty of care bar before then. The sooner the better!”.

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North Carolina Lawmakers Unveil Casino Bill
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A draft bill dealing with casino expansion in North Carolina would authorize the state to issue four casino licenses, to add to the three casinos owned by two federally-recognized tribes.

Republican Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger’s office released a copy of the legislation on Saturday (September 16), which was obtained first by CBS 17 in Raleigh.

One of the licenses will be reserved for the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, which is recognized by the state and not the federal government. The three other casinos would have to be located in rural counties on the state border and have a majority of its land within 90 miles of an international airport, according to the 23-page bill. 

The licenses and industry would be regulated by the North Carolina Lottery Commission. Berger’s bill proposes a 22.5 percent tax on gross gaming revenue, with 5 percent of the net tax revenue going to the county where the casino is located. 

The bill also calls for the creation of “rural tourism districts,” which will include a casino and other amenities. A company seeking to develop those districts would have to invest at least $500m in private funds in each district and have ten years of experience in the commercial gaming industry. 

Republican Representative Jason Saine told CBS 17 that a vote on the casino plan could come as early as Wednesday.

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Professional Golfer Phil Mickelson Admits Gambling Addiction
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Phil Mickelson opened up about his gambling addiction on Monday (September 18) in a lengthy post on X, formerly Twitter, in which he confirmed he will not be betting because he crossed the "line of moderation and into addiction.”

The comments released were the first by the six-time major champion since extensive allegations were made in a recent book by Las Vegas gambler Billy Walters. 

“Most of you will enjoy this football season with moderation while having lots of fun and entertainment,” Mickelson said. "The fantasy leagues will provide banter amongst friends and money won or lost betting won’t affect you. I won’t be betting this year because I crossed the line of moderation and into addiction which isn’t any fun at all.”

Walters wrote that Mickelson’s losses over five years total nearly $100m, while betting over $1bn. Mickelson, 53, did not address those allegations in his statement Monday.  

“After many years of receiving professional help, not gambling, and being in recovery from my addictions, I’m now able to sit still, be present in the moment and live each day with an inner calm and peace,” he wrote. “This football season and beyond, enjoy yourself with moderation so it doesn’t detract from your ability to be present.”

Walters said he ended his betting partnership with Mickelson in 2014. Two years later, Walters was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for insider trading, with which Mickelson was never charged, and had to repay $1m he made off a stock deal.

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German Regulator Fines Malta-Based Online Operator
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The German gambling regulator has fined Malta-based online operator Red Rhino €50,000 for offering its services in the country without a licence.

The Joint Gambling Authority of the Federal States (GGL) said the operator stopped offering gambling on its platincasino.de website but not on the website of the same name with a dot.com domain after it handed it an enforceable prohibition order. 

A “high penalty” was also imposed on a payment service provider that acted in connection with Red Rhino, according to the GGL press release on September 14.

The regulator said the enforcement action shows the rest of the market that it will “take consistent action against unauthorised online gambling offers and is exhausting the administrative measures available to it. In principle, penalty payments can be repeated or increased until the prohibition order is complied with.”

GGL board member Benjamin Schwanke said: “The GGL’s measures are having an impact and we are seeing an increasing pushback on existing unauthorized online gambling offers.”

Red Rhino is licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA).

The GGL has recently described Malta’s controversial Bill 55, which is now law, as a “protective shield” for its gambling companies and claimed it is not compatible with European Union regulations on recognition of judgments in another jurisdiction.

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Chile Prepares For More Lawsuits Against Online Operators
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After its victory in Chile’s Supreme Court, state lottery operator Polla Chilena de Beneficencia has declared it will file a civil suit against online betting operators in the country. 

Last week, Chile’s Supreme Court ruled that telecomms provider Mundo Pacífico must block 23 online betting sites. 

Macarena Carvallo, the president of Polla Chilena’s board, now alleges that these platforms are the reason for revenues halving since 2019.

Meanwhile, the lawyer for Dreams casino, Carlos Gajardo, warned those in commercial partnerships with online operators that “they expose themselves to being criminally prosecuted for crimes”.

Carlos Baeza, a lawyer who works with offshore operators, called the ruling “a heavy day” and relayed that the online gambling bill, which is currently in the midst of heavy negotiations in the economy commission, will remain there a while yet. 

The transitional period proposal was ultimately rejected by the commission last week. 

“It was agreed to invite the Director of Internal Revenue Service to explain some things about the taxation they are proposing. They are proposing that they have to pay retroactive taxes for three years, and those retroactive taxes in Chile are illegal. So, they had many doubts and finally the agreement was not approved.”

The director or the Internal Revenue Service will speak before the commission on  September 26. 

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Victoria Regulator Sues Tabcorp Over Minor Access
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The Victoria state gambling regulator has opened fire against Tabcorp Holdings again, this time prosecuting the wagering giant and eight associated retail outlets for allowing minors to gamble.

Just two weeks after fining Tabcorp A$1m ($642,000) for disobeying its orders following a data centre outage, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) is suing the company for a maximum A$700,000.

The VGCCC alleged in a statement on Monday (September 18) that Tabcorp, six hotels, a club and a TAB retail outlet allowed minors to gamble on 27 occasions in a two-month period in late 2022.

The regulator has lined up 54 charges against Tabcorp, including 27 involving a minor and poor gaming floor supervision, while 71 charges against the retail outlets could result in a cumulative fine of A$1m for the latter.

The probe into Tabcorp and the retail outlets was triggered by a complaint from a member of the public, the statement said.

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Australia Tables Bill For Banning Online Gambling Credit
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The Australian government has tabled a bill that would ban credit card and digital payment use for online gambling.

The Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and Other Measures) Bill 2023 follows a commitment announced in April to prohibit “use of credit cards, credit related products and digital currency as payment methods for interactive wagering services”, according to an explanatory memorandum.

The bill introduces criminal and civil offences, and expands the powers of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to monitor the gaming industry and enforce the amended legislation.

A six-month grace period is included in the bill to give gambling operators and financial institutions time to adapt to the restrictions.

 

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Thousands of people in Kentucky are pre-registered already in anticipation of the launch of online sports betting next week. 

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