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Daily Archives: January 11, 2020
Posted: January 11, 2020 at 3:47 pm
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Posted: at 3:47 pm
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It feels like the awareness and legalization of online gambling did not exist until the repeal of PASPAin 2018, which opened the door for state-sanctioned sports betting.
Certainly, that is not the case. Prior to that historic decision by theUS Supreme Court, several states enacted legislation to launch (or even went as far as launching) regulated online gaming markets. That includes Pennsylvania.
In2017, the Keystone State passed into law a gambling expansion package that allowed online casinos, online poker and online sports betting. It was not until well over a year later that any of the verticals rolled out.
The lengthy waits have been well-documented, and so too have the drawbacks of such delays. Regardless, Pennsylvania stands as one of just three stateswith all three regulated markets operational.
And despite prolonged holdups, PA online gambling appears well on its way to a bright future. The Keystone State could get their faster, though, by addressing several issues while continuing to perpetuate its assets.
Start with the obvious: Pennsylvania sports betting has boomed.
In its first year, legalized wagering in the state generated more than$1.1 billion in bets. And despite facing a sky-high tax rate of 36%, operators pocketed nearly$75 million in revenue.
Overall handle has increased in each month since April, a credit not only to thriving competition but also to the advent and swift takeover of betting apps. (Online wagers account for better than80% of overall bets placed in Pennsylvania.)
Of course, football season helped: Each month between AugustandNovemberfeatured handle totals exceeding$100 million including Novembers record total of$316 million.
With eight betting apps and 12 retail sportsbooks, Pennsylvania continues to expand its sports betting industry as it attempts to rivalNew Jersey andNevadaas legal sports betting powers. (For perspective, nearby New Jersey needed seven monthsto eclipse $1 billion.)
The other two online verticals in Pennsylvania operate in the shadows of sports betting. Like regulated wagering, though, online casinos and online poker remain in their infancy.
That said, the group of Pennsylvania online casinos has increased to five operators since going live inJuly 2019. In November, that collective totaled some$7.6 millionin revenue, reflecting a$2.75 million increase from October. Since launching with three operators, online casinos in Pennsylvania have spiked$6.88 million in revenue.
As for online poker, November marked the first month of the vertical in the Keystone State. And it did not disappoint, asPokerStarsdebuted with rake and tournament fees totaling near$2 million.
Fear abounded that Pennsylvanias high tax rates and licensing fees would prevent the state from reaching anything close to full maturity.
Who could blame them? Even today, PAs rates stand as thehighest in the country.
Operators, however, flocked toward the Keystone State; those who saw rising success in New Jersey opened up shop in PA. The likes of DraftKings Sportsbook,FanDuel SportsbookandFox Bet (among others) have thrown their hats into the Pennsylvania sports betting ring. As hasUnibet, which, likeSugarHouse andParx, also powers an online casino.
Competition gradually swelled as 2019 wore on, seemingly in stride with the PA publics growing hunger for and acceptance of online gambling.
How hungry has the public been? Of the states top five propertiesin terms of revenue during November 2019, four enjoyed noticeable boosts year over year in part because of online gambling products:
To boot, properties such asValley Forge (+71.38%) and Mount Airy (+31.64%) saw big spikes from November 2018, again in part to the advent of online gambling.
In hindsight, not much was terrible about Pennsylvanias modernization.
Initially, the states gouging tax rates and licensing fees didnt sit right with stakeholders or analysts. They still dont, of course, what with Pennsylvanias rates still sitting as the highest in the country. That said, while that certainly has affected the bottom line for some, those rates have yet to scare off operators, who continue to hold an optimistic outlook for the potential of online gambling.
Then, of course, there was the wholeWire Actdebacle of 2019. Just before the close of 2018, theDepartment of Justiceissued an updated opinion of the act, essentially noting that the Wire Act should pertain to all forms of online gambling and thus prohibited under federal law.
As theNew Hampshire Lottery started mounting its case against the DOJ (one that is still circulating through the courts), Pennsylvania maintained a cautionary approach. The state required operators to establish in-state servers and to submit plans to thePennsylvania Gaming Control Board explaining how they would come into compliance should the new Wire Act opinion become enforced.
Such tactics no doubt delayed the debut of online casinos and online poker in Pennsylvania. Additionally, it restricts the title selection in the state.
Simply because Pennsylvania has opened up all three online verticals does not mean the states work is complete. These industries want to grow more. They want to become innovative. These are the paths Pennsylvania can take to help each industry reach its full potential or at least close to it.
As such, moving forward, it would be ideal for Pennsylvania to be looking out for its casinos. While the safe bet is the following will not occur, it would sure help online gambling become even more profitable.
First, revisiting the tax rates would allow for industry stakeholders to open up their wallets more. Obviously the state claiming a larger take does not allow operators to take advantage of marketing and promotional tools. In such marginal industries, operators are already left with low percentage profits. These rates only dig into those pockets even more.
Certainly, Pennsylvania is unlikely to make any changes soon (if ever) surrounding tax rates. But what about its stance on the Wire Act opinion? One court has already ruled in favor of the NH Lottery condemning the DOJs take on the Wire Act. And now the DOJ is appealing that ruling. As such, that opinion appears a far cry from being enforceable.
Regardless, Pennsylvania remains cautious. And as a result, operators in the state are limited in what games and titles they can offer, while others cant even get a foot in the PA door because of a lack of in-state servers.
Looking forward, what price could Pennsylvania pay by requiring so much of stakeholders? Under status quo, could Pennsylvania fall well short of its potential?
Former New JerseyGov. Chris Christieessentially said as much in 2019, noting that these fees are not going to encourage innovation or investment in the properties.
Every dollar you pay in licensing fees or in taxes is a dollar you dont have available to bring new types of betting to the floor, to have state-of-the-art products to allow the experience to be more enjoyable. Thats why I think they are missing the boat.
In the end, its a short-term problem and a long-term problem. The long-term problem is theyre not going to invest in getting Pennsylvanians the best technology because they spent all they are going to spend on the licensing fees and the taxes.
Posted: at 3:47 pm
January 10, 2020Martin HarrisThe Stars Group Announces Agreement with Michigan Tribe for Online Betting, Poker, and Casino
It was just last month that Michigan became the latest state to pass online gambling legislation when Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, thereby allowing operators to offer various types of online gambling, online sports betting, and online poker.
Games haven't launched yet as regulation is still to come, but there was additional news from Michigan this week as The Stars Group announced "it had entered an agreement with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Gaming Authority for online betting and gaming market access in the State of Michigan."
The agreement "grants The Stars Group first skin market access to operate and brand real-money online betting, poker and casino in Michigan." In other words, PokerStars becomes the first online poker operator to announce a partnership in Michigan. The Stars Group will still need to obtain approval from regulators to move ahead and begin offering games in the state.
In November, PokerStars became the first operator to launch in Pennsylvania.
In May 2019, The Stars Group announced a new partnership with FOX Sports to launch FOX Bet in the United States. Then in October came news of another big merger between The Stars Group and Flutter Entertainment to form a new UK-based online gambling company.
"We are excited to announce this agreement with the Odawa tribe, which further strengthens our market access as we work to continue to build our FOX Bet business into one of the leaders in the emerging U.S. online betting and gaming market," said FOX Bet CEO Robin Chhabra.
Fred Harrington Jr. of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Tribal Council was similarly excited when commenting on the agreement.
"The Tribe's partnership with The Stars Group extends beyond our reservation and places the thrill of world class sports betting and online gaming under every finger-tip sliding across a touch screen in the State of Michigan," said Harrington.
According to the agreement, "Odawa will receive a revenue share from the operation of the applicable online offerings by The Stars Group."
Georgia has been a state where lawmakers and other interested parties have been discussing the possibility of introducing casinos and/or other types of gambling for some time and this week they were talking about it again.
Back in early 2019 we shared news of renewed discussions of the topic including Governor Brian Kemp making known that he would not oppose gambling legislation were it to come from state's lawmakers, even if he personally did not support it. During the year some worked to try to add a referendum to last November's ballot to allow the state's citizens to weigh in on the matter. Those efforts fell short, but the idea is being discussed again already this year.
Meanwhile council members in Atlanta did approve an ordinance in early November requesting the Georgia General Assembly to allow the city to add a nonbinding ballot question in the future to discover how Atlanta residents felt about their city becoming a gambling destination.
Speaking of becoming a gambling destination, the Atlanta Motor Speedway would like to become just that and add a casino and hotel as well as other attractions such as a water park and concert venue. Owners have even drawn up plans for such expansion.
It was only fitting, then, that the Atlanta Motor Speedway served as host to a public hearing of the Special Committee on Economic Growth last night. The committee made up of 15 members of the Georgia House of Representatives met with more than 200 Georgians to discuss a possible statewide referendum and the chances of future legislation to make the Speedway's vision a reality.
According to WXIA-TV in Atlanta, when lawmakers asked for opinions about introducing gambling in the state, "none rose to speak seriously against it."
That's not to say there aren't opponents of the idea, most of whom cite familiar arguments that "gambling breeds addiction and damages families." But the outward flow of potential revenue and taxes to neighboring states like Mississippi and Florida have proponents clamoring for Georgia to get on board.
"There's no taxes collected in the state of Georgia from these app based sports betting, where there's nothing collected," said committee chair Alan Powell at the hearing. "The money's going to other states. That's money that could be spent in this state."
Georgia lawmakers begin the new legislative session on Monday. It remains to be seen whether this is the year the state's lawmakers finally take up the topic of introducing gambling in earnest.
Finally, on Wednesday the Nevada Gaming Control Board gave tentative approval to the partnership between MGM Resorts International and GVC Holdings to establish digital sports betting in Nevada.
The partnership was first announced during the summer of 2018, involving each group agreeing to invest $100 million in order to provide capital for the venture with a name inspired by the MGM's Leo the Lion Roar Digital.
The Nevada Gaming Commission still needs to sign off on the NGCB's recommendation, per CDC Gaming Reports.
When that happens, the BetMGM app that launched last September will replace the PlayMGM app currently being used. From there, Roar Digital will be handling all of the company's online sports betting while MGM Resorts will continue to operate its 10 sportsbooks in the state.
"This will not be the model in every state," explained Adam Greenblatt, CEO of Roar Digital. Well cater to whatever the market requires. In Tennessee, its a direct license and Roar will apply for a direct license to operate the whole thing.
As part of its effort to position itself well for the future of sports betting, MGM Resorts partnered with the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and Major League Baseball during 2018, and late last year also forged a multi-year deal with Yahoo! Sports.
The Stars Group is a majority shareholder in iBus Media.
Photo: "Michigan welcome sign" (adapted), Andreas Faessler, CC BY-SA 4.0.
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Inside Gaming: Stars Group partners w/ Michigan tribe; Georgia discussing casinos, gambling (again).
The Stars Group partnership with a Michigan tribe a first step toward PokerStars' return to state.
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Posted: at 3:47 pm
Lawmakers in New York once again have the opportunity to consider online poker legislation this year. Following a complete lack of progress through 2019, a relevant bill from Sen. Joseph Addabbo is back on file for 2020.
That alone is hardly a cause for optimism, though. Lawmakers in the Empire State have filed bills to legalize online poker every year since 2014 without anything to show for it.
Michigan and West Virginia, meanwhile, both managed to legalize online poker in 2019.
The NY online poker bill remains unchanged from its introduction in 2019, and the terms are fairly straightforward.
If passed, S 18 would essentially remove poker from the list of prohibited games of chance in New York. The state Constitution prohibits such games with limited exceptions, including the regulated commercial casino industry that spawned in 2013. The enabling law does not, however, include any authorization for online gambling.
Addabbos bill would authorize up to 11 licenses for NY online poker, each valid for 10 years at a cost of $10 million apiece. The state would tax revenue at a rate of 15%, which falls in line with New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and it holds both regulated and unregulated sites accountable for those taxes.
There is no express bad actor clause among the suitability provisions that would preclude sites like PokerStars from operating in the state.
The bill did not move last year, so it is once again assigned to the Gaming, Racing and Wagering Committee that Addabbo chairs. A matching bill (A 4924) from Assemblyman Gary Pretlow is also reassigned to his corresponding committee in the lower chamber.
Addabbo and Pretlow have become the two champions of gaming legislation in New York, though progress has been utterly elusive. Pretlows involvement dates back to the beginning, while Addabbo took the reins from retired Sen. John Bonacic last year.
Although NY sports betting is now up and running in a regulated environment, its approval stems from that same 2013 law. And the sponsors have, in the years since, repeatedly failed to expand the provisions for gaming in the state.
The same inaction that has scuttled online sports betting has pumped the brakes on other forms of gambling including online poker. None of the sponsors efforts surrounding online gambling, sports betting, or casino expansion have come to fruition in the past seven years.
New Yorkers are rightly pessimistic about their chances of expanded, modern gambling legislation this year.
Addabbo and Pretlow have spent the last two years working to extend the sports betting provisions to include online/mobile wagering with nothing to show for their efforts. A lack of support in the Assembly and a headstrong governor espousing constitutional concerns have left the majority of NY bettors without easy access to a regulated outlet.
The nearest legal sportsbook to a population center is more than an hour north of New York City.
What perhaps is the most concerning for the prospects of poker is that the sponsors focus has fully shifted to sports and rightly so. The revenue expectation for poker pales in comparison to the potential haul from online sports betting in the state.
In addition to his efforts surrounding sports betting, Addabbo is also keen on opening up new casino licenses for the downstate properties in and around NYC. That would, for one thing, bring MGM into the conversation with its new property in Yonkers. And it might represent the best chance for poker to sneak through.
Barring something unexpected, though, itd be wise to temper your expectations for NY online poker in 2020.
The bill isnt terribly long; give it a read.
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Posted: at 3:46 pm
JERSEY CITY Its been called sports betting tourism and because New Jersey is right next to New York, the Garden State is profiting from the practice in a big way.
So big, in fact, experts in the gaming and tourism industries speculate that the days of New Jerseys dominance in sports wagering may end in the not-too-distant future.
For now, though, the Garden States prominence is evident. At the NJTransit station in Hoboken, dozens of ads for DraftKings, one of the giants of the online betting industry, are plastered on walls and on fences between trains.
Its a graphic reminder, literally, of how big sports betting is in the state and how important promoting it near transit hubs connecting New Jersey to New York is.
At least one online gaming site, FanDuel, has told Bloomberg News that at least 22 percent of its online wagers come from New York.
How it works was apparent at the PATH station in Hoboken. Its the first stop in New Jersey on the train line after it picks up passengers from five stops in Manhattan, the countrys wealthiest potential market.
New Yorkers go from the city to sports bars like Texas Arizona, right across the street from the Hoboken PATH train, to watch games and place bets online.
They do so in a state where it's totally legal, but having come from a state where it's banned. Theyre able to do so because the geolocation software on their smartphones or other devices show the New Yorkers to be in New Jersey.
Texas Arizona staff told PIX11 News that they most frequently see the New York-to-New Jersey sports betting tourism take place on weekends, especially during the football season.
Other New Jersey residents made clear that they appreciate the practice.
They come across the river. It makes sense, said Vladimir Gomez, a Hoboken resident. [Its] not a long distance.
It's also very lucrative. Industry and state figures indicate that sports gaming brought more than $4 billion to New Jersey in 2019 twenty alone.
Maegan Webb said shes seen people place online bets.
You do it online, she said. A lot of people go on apps to do it.
She said that she doesnt gamble, but that she, like another non-gambling Hoboken resident, Nicholas Rutigliani, but sees how it benefits them, since New Jersey taxes every betting dollar.
Theyre making money off it, so it's beneficial to New Jersey, Rutigliani said. I think New York is just losing money.
His assessment was echoed by an expert in the field.
Donald Hoover, a senior lecturer in hospitality and tourism management at Fairleigh-Dickinson University, said that the windfall from New York to New Jersey can't last forever.
New York is considering legalizing online sports betting, having seen how well New Jersey has profited.
It's certainly going to happen, Hoover said about the prospect of New York making online sports betting legal. It's just a matter of time.
In the meantime, New Jerseys juggernaut in the industry continues. Its second only to Nevada for sports betting revenues, as one of New Jerseys biggest online gambling outfits, 888 Holdings, affirms.
2019 was a landmark year because it was the first full year where legal sports betting was available in the state of New Jersey, said Yaniv Sherman, head of commercial development for 888 Holdings, in a statement.
The state led the pack in legalizing sports betting and the results speak for themselves. The market has consistently grown throughout the year, along with a record-breaking November and December during which almost half a billion dollars were wagered. This is resulting in significant tax income for the state, as well as a healthy, competitive and safe landscape for players and operators alike.
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Why The First California Sports Betting Hearing Of 2020 Will Not Have Fireworks – Legal Sports Report
Posted: at 3:46 pm
Were you hoping for the first California sports betting hearing of 2020 to resemble the food-fight scene in Animal House with potentially more mean spirit behind each fling, youre likely to be disappointed.
The Joint Assembly and Senate Governmental Organization Committees informational hearing wont feature anyone from Californias Indian gaming tribes, cardrooms or racetracks. It also will not feature online operators who would like to enter the state.
Instead, the hearing, which takes place today at 1:30 p.m. in Sacramento, will focus on an overview of regulated sports betting in America.
The California sports betting hearing is a couple of months later than originally expected. The chairmen previously tried to schedule the hearing for last November at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Following opening remarks from committee chairmen Sen. Bill Dodd and Assemblyman Adam Gray, the hearing will include the following panels:
Heres an update on what happened in California relating to sports betting in 2019 and what to expect in 2020.
With this hearing, Sen. Bill Dodd and Rep. Adam Gray begin to explore what they want to include in a constitutional amendment to authorize CA sports betting. They are trying to put it on the ballot in November.
However, the states key Indian gaming tribes already have broken off to file their own ballot measure that would limit sports betting to brick-and-mortar tribal casinos and racetracks. This has fueled the war between California tribes and cardrooms.
Dodd toldLegal Sports Reporthe favors a more inclusive sports betting modelthat would include mobile CA sports betting to maximize revenues and capture the black market for sports betting that already exists in the state.
The public comment period at the conclusion of the hearing provides the opportunity for Californias gaming industry stakeholders to provide their input. Animal House fans might want to keep watching until the end.
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