Gambling.com Insider News, Trends and Gaming Analysis

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Louisiana Casino Opens Two-Story Sportsbook

Sept. 7, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

The Margaritaville Resort Casino in Northwest Louisiana is opening one of the largest sportsbooks in the region today — just in time for Thursday's NFL regular season opener between the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and visiting Detroit Lions.

The Margaritaville resort is a Penn Entertainment riverboat casino on the Red River in Bossier City.  

The two-story sportsbook opened Thursday with ticket windows and betting kiosks on the second floor, said manager Casey Lewless. The two-story area features more than 50 television screens and a restaurant. Other features over time will include a cigar bar and nearby pool area with TV screens.

The resort is fewer than three hours from Dallas. In Texas, sports betting is illegal.


Maine Readies For November Sports Betting Launch

July 26, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Maine regulators have submitted their sports betting rules to the Attorney General's Office for final review. The AG has 120 days to approve the regulations, putting Maine’s sports betting launch sometime in November if all goes well. 

Milton Champion, the executive director of Maine’s Gambling Control Unit, pointed to a mid-November rollout, "We're talking about November 10th at the latest, so maybe the following week we will go live, and hey, what a great Thanksgiving present, right?"

The MGCU expects 10 physical sportsbook locations. The state’s four recognized tribes are expected to offer a mobile betting app. Three of the four tribes have partnered with Caesars, while the fourth tribe, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, has yet to announce its sports betting partner.

One interesting tidbit is a $40,000 licensing fee for affiliate marketers, which will likely keep all but the biggest affiliates out of the market, considering the expected size of the Maine sports betting market.

As Mike Murphy said on Twitter, “Word is affiliate licenses in Maine will cost $40,000 (h/t @parlaytom) for four years? If this is true, what's the over/under on how many affiliate companies apply for licensing and pay the fee. I’m going with 4.” 


Washington State Raises Wagering Cap At Commercial Cardrooms

July 26, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock Washington State Raises Wagering Cap At Commercial Cardrooms

In a 3-2 vote, the Washington State Gaming Commission raised the wager limit at the state’s commercial cardroom by $100, from $300 to $400. The increase was requested by Maverick Gaming, which owns the majority of the state’s licensed cardrooms, 23 of 38. Maverick requested that the cap be raised to $500 to counteract inflation. 

This is the third increase since cardrooms were authorized in 1997 and the first since it was increased to $300 in 2009 – in 1997 the cap was $25. 

Unsurprisingly, the state’s tribal gaming operators opposed the increase, citing the state law that authorized the social card rooms to increase food and beverage sales. The tribes pointed to a near-50-year-old provision that allowed businesses “primarily engaged in the selling of food or drink for consumption on the premises” can conduct social card games as a “commercial stimulant.”


Jackpocket Is Now Live In Massachusetts

July 25, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Jackpocket is live in its 17th U.S. jurisdiction following its announced launch in Massachusetts. 

Massachusetts joins Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington DC, and West Virginia as locales that have authorized the Jackpocket app. 

"Jackpocket is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year and it's amazing to see our growth in creating a safe and convenient lottery experience," said Peter Sullivan, CEO of Jackpocket. "This is an exciting time for Jackpocket as we take the lead showcasing how gaming can be a safe, fun, and integral piece of generating state revenues. Proceeds from the Massachusetts Lottery go to local programs and organizations that make a real tangible impact for Massachusettsans every day. Now, Jackpocket will help drive additional funds for these vital programs across the state, and we can't wait to see who our first big winner from the Bay State will be!"

Interestingly, the spread of Jackpocket is outpacing legal online lottery sales. Expanding to online lottery often requires legislation, while regulators have the ability to approve lottery courier services like Jackpocket – Jackpocket is only offered in states that have expressly authorized the app. 


Tribal Gaming Sets A New Revenue Record In 2022

July 24, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Tribal casinos generated $40.9 billion in revenue in 2022, according to a release by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC). The tally is nearly 5% higher than the 2021 tribal gaming revenue and a new record. 

“This year's historic revenue reflects the resiliency of many tribal gaming operations, and how tribal gaming continues to rebound and remain strong. Tribal governments and the operations they license continue to explore new and innovative ways to expand and deliver world-class experiences to cultivate sustainable economies. Across Indian country, tribes pursue economic sustainability through gaming by relying on the robust regulatory reputation for which Indian gaming is well known, and made better when supported by efficient and effective measures," said NIGC Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer.

Per the NIGC, the FY 2022 revenue was calculated from financial audits of 519 establishments owned by 244 federally recognized tribes in 29 states.

The complete FY 2022 Gross Gaming Revenue Report can be found here.


Source Code Required In Kentucky Sports Betting Regulations 

July 24, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Kentucky’s emergency sports regulations contain an interesting requirement first seen in the recently approved Vermont regulations. That requirement is for licensees to hand over their source code to a third-party testing lab. 

Operators unsuccessfully pushed back on the source code policy in Vermont, with FanDuel asking the Vermont Liquor and Lottery Board to remove the provision:

“Section 2.1 of Part III of the Proposed Procedures requires Mobile Sports Wagering Operators to provide access to their platform’s source code to an independent testing laboratory as part of the testing and certification process for the platform. This is not necessary for the independent testing 2 laboratory to complete its review of critical files and thus should be removed.”

With Kentucky following Vermont’s lead, this could become a trend in the industry. Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) almost universally handles the testing across the country, so once the policy is required in one state, the same stipulation should see decreased opposition. 

The Kentucky regulations also copied Vermont’s strict age and identity verification requirements, which FanDuel also opposed in Vermont, writing:

“Section 2.2 of Part IV of the Proposed Procedures details the acceptable processes for age and identity verification. While this section is written broadly, we believe the Department should have the authority to approve alternative identity verification procedures that they deem acceptable. This would also give flexibility to utilize alternative procedures as technology develops. It is also important to note that issues with account registration and identity verification are the number one driver of customer contacts and complaints during the launch process since it is a requirement before individuals are able to wager. Allowing for increased flexibility in the process will allow for the best customer experience and likely minimize complaints to the Department.”


NCLGS Calls For Nationwide Responsible Gambling Standards 

July 17, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

The National Council of Legislators from Gaming States is the latest organization pushing for what amounts to national standards around responsible gambling. The National Council on Problem Gambling and the American Gaming Association have national guidelines for operators. The NCLGS proposal provides guidelines for lawmakers and regulators. 

The NCLGS proposal is designed “to help states develop robust responsible gaming standards.”

“Gaming in the United States is authorized and regulated at the state level, but states need guidance as gaming grows,” said NCLGS President Sen. Jon Ford of Indiana. “This two-year effort by legislators is the first to leverage what we have learned for the benefit of our members as they grapple with this critical need.”

“We urge all states that offer gaming to consider the guidance offered in this historic resolution,” said NCLGS Vice President Christie Carpino, Representative of Connecticut.

The entire resolution hasn’t been posted, but the highlighted suggestions overlap with the previous efforts from the NCPG and AGA:

  1. One accredited national problem gambling helpline number within all jurisdictions;
  2. State or jurisdictional advertising guidelines to ensure that marketing is targeted only to those who are of legal age to gamble, that marketing follows standards not to offer content, themes, and promotions that have special appeal to those consumers most at risk for gambling problems, and to ensure there are programs that audit and monitor the content of third-party marketing affiliates;
  3. Policies and programs that enable customers to discontinue their play temporarily or permanently through exclusion programs from gaming activities statewide and across multiple jurisdictions with multiple term lengths;
  4. Coordination of gambling exclusion lists to prevent people with gambling problems and others on exclusion lists from problematic play in other states.

FanDuel Has 58 Problems With Vermont Sports Betting Regulations 

July 17, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

In a written statement to the Vermont Liquor and Lottery Board, FanDuel listed 58 issues with the state’s sports betting regulations. The company’s criticisms were divided into three categories:

  • Major Concerns
  • Secondary Concerns
  • Requests for Clarification and Minor Errata

Among the major concerns the company listed were:

  • Providing independent testing labs with access to the company’s source code. 
  • Integration testing beyond the usual identity and geolocation verification services. 
  • Several issues around player verification procedures.
  • A cap on promotions set by the Lottery. 

Some of the major concerns like *required fields would require Vermont-specific changes to the platform, as these are not required in other locales.  FanDuel criticized other rules like timeout disclosures and reaffirmation of deposit limits as making customers jump through hoops that will send them to black market sites or keep them from using responsible gambling tools in the future. 

The secondary concerns and requests for clarifications are largely about language:

  • Adding “reasonably” to geolocation regulations.
  • Clarification of server location requirements.
  • Clarifying affiliates. 
  • Clarifying the definition of service providers and suppliers. 

FanDuel’s full written statement can be read here


North Carolina Lawmakers Considering More Gambling Expansions 

July 14, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

The North Carolina legislature apparently has the Bill Belichick “no days off” mindset. Fresh off the legalization of mobile sports betting, the Tarheel State is still considering other gambling expansions this year, per Senate leader Phil Berger

North Carolina is one of a few state legislatures able to meet year-round. According to Berger, lawmakers could still approve non-tribal casinos and video gambling terminals (VGTs) as they continue working on the state budget due on July 1. 

Berger put the chances that one or both proposals would be included in the budget or passed separately at better than 50-50.

Berger told the local press, “The gaming is already taking place in North Carolina, and gaming is taking place on the border of North Carolina that is pulling money out of North Carolina.” Revenue leaking over a state’s borders is a talking point that has contributed to the legalization of everything from casinos to mobile sports betting across the country. 

Considering North Carolina’s politics, a second gambling expansion so soon after the legalization of online sports betting will be a very difficult sell. 

Kentucky Targeting September for Sports Betting Launch

July 11, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

The legalization of sports betting in Kentucky earlier this year was a pleasant surprise. The Bluegrass State was certainly a candidate, but it wasn’t one of the top candidates. And now it’s provided the sports betting universe with another piece of good news: it plans to launch retail betting on Sept. 7, followed by a mobile launch on Sept. 28. 

The news came during a special Kentucky Horse Racing Commission meeting to announce temporary regulations. 

The timeline would have Kentucky retail sportsbooks holding ribbon-cutting ceremonies on the same day the 2023-2024 NFL season kicks off. Retail betting would be available for Week 4 of the NFL season. 

Read the full article about Kentucky's sports betting launch at Gambling.com's Kentucky Betting page.


The Michigan Gaming Control Board Has A $50 Million Budget

July 6, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Michigan Gaming Control Board members will receive a massive raise if Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs this year’s state budget, as they will go from unpaid volunteers to receiving annual salaries of $63,000. 

“A well-funded gaming control agency is crucial for ensuring fair and honest gaming in the State of Michigan, preventing fraud and illegal activities, and addressing problem gambling,” MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams said in a press release. “I sincerely appreciate the support from Governor Whitmer and the Legislature of a budget that will help the MGCB continue its responsible gaming messaging campaign, support our state’s growing gaming economy, and allow us to grow our team and make investments into efficient systems that help strengthen our mission and integrity while supporting those we serve.”

The funding includes $3 million for a responsible gambling campaign created by the MGCB earlier this year. The state’s “Don’t Regret the Bet” campaign provides resources, information, and gambling education. 


Skill Games Were Banned 2 Years Ago In Virginia, So Why Do They Still Exist?

July 6, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

The Virginia legislature banned so-called skill games in 2021, but because of a legal challenge to the state’s ban, skill games in slot machine clothing can still be found throughout the state. 

As the Virginia Mercury reports:

“The original court injunction that kept skill games running — and raised doubts about the constitutionality of treating them as illegal gambling — was set to expire in May of 2022, with an expectation the case could have been resolved by then. More than a year later, it’s still unclear when and how clarity might come on an issue some see as an ongoing failure by the state to set a clear, enforceable and legally defensible policy.”

That means the state of Virginia has just as many skill games as it did pre-prohibition. And the machines are entirely unregulated and untaxed. 

With no end in sight to the court case, there is an ongoing push to legalize and regulate the games, making Virginia just another state with a VGT-VLT-Skill Game debate on its plate. 


New Jersey Reauthorizes Online Gambling For 5 Years

July 5, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Reauthorizing online gambling was a much tougher lift than it should have been for New Jersey, the most successful online casino market in the country. When online betting NJ was first legalized online gambling in 2013 it gave itself an out, just in case the experiment went awry. That out was a 10-year reauthorization. 

The Garden State did reauthorize online gambling, but only for five years, and even toyed with the idea of a two-year authorization. Considering the success of online gambling in New Jersey, the reduced term is something of a headscratcher. 

Per local press, the changes came as a surprise to the industry:

“But on Tuesday, an Assembly panel cut that to just two years without discussing or even announcing the change. Since then, lawmakers have repeatedly declined to say why the extension was shortened. The next day, the extension was set at five years — again, without explanation.”

“Reducing the time from 10 years to five years is the wrong way to go,” said gambling industry consultant Daniel Heneghan. “It sends the wrong message to companies interested in being involved in internet gaming."

The most plausible explanation for the five-year reauthorization is a bargaining chip for an increase in gambling taxes. 


Seminole Tribe Of Florida Reviewing Court’s Sports Betting Decision

June 30, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

In evaluating its “next steps,” the Seminole Tribe of Florida is reviewing a D.C. Circuit Court decision regarding sports betting in the state.

The court decision might open the door again to sports wagering in Florida.

Spokesman Gary Bitner said the tribe “is pleased with today’s unanimous (court) decision.”

“It is a positive outcome of the Seminole Tribe and the people of Florida, and for all of Indian Country,” Bitter said. “The tribe is fully reviewing the decision to determine its next steps.”

Bitner’s statement, tweeted Friday by Gambling.com Group reporter Steve Bittenbender, is dated June 20, though the statement apparently was meant to be dated June 30.

Earlier Friday, Daniel Wallach, a gaming law and sports betting attorney, broke a story on Twitter that the D.C. Circuit Court has vacated the opinion of the District Court in a Florida sports betting case that had put a freeze on mobile wagering in the state almost two years ago.

When the news broke on Friday, speculation arose regarding a possible revival of sports betting in Florida in the near future. In late 2021, the Seminole Tribe briefly made a mobile sports betting app available statewide. However, the app soon was shut down in a legal dispute over whether the tribe could offer online wagering off tribal lands.

While it was unclear late this week what the impact of Friday’s court decision will be, the legal maneuvering could take awhile to resolve. 

“What the D.C. Circuit says is that it needs to be up to a Florida court whether sports betting off tribal lands violated the state constitution,” Bittenbender tweeted.

Currently, New York is the most populous state with legal sports betting. The three largest states — California, Texas and Florida — do not have legal and live sports wagering.


Four More NFL Players Suspended For Sports Gambling

June 29, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

The NFL on Thursday suspended four more players for violating league rules against gambling, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Isaiah Rodgers and Rashod Berry of the Indianapolis Colts, and free agent Demetrius Taylor, were suspended indefinitely for betting on NFL games last year, the newspaper reported. At the end of the upcoming season, the players  can apply to be reinstated.

Also on Thursday, Tennessee Titans offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere was suspended for six games for betting on non-NFL games at a team facility. 

These four bring the number of NFL off-season gambling suspensions to nine.

The NFL rules on gambling state players cannot:

  • Bet on the NFL
  • Gamble at a team facility 
  • Have someone place a bet for them
  • Share inside information
  • Enter a sportsbook during the NFL season
  • Play daily fantasy football

Source: Wall Street Journal


When Will Mobile Sports Betting Begin In North Carolina? Here's Where To Find Out

June 28, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

The North Carolina State Lottery Commission has put a webpage together to provide up-to-date information on when mobile sports betting will begin. 

The web address is nclottery.com/sports-betting.

Under a recently approved law, mobile sports betting must begin in the Tar Heel State on or before June 14, 2024. It can begin as early as Jan. 8. 

A start date early in the year would give bettors a chance to wager on some major sporting events in 2024, such as the NCAA men’s March Madness basketball tournament. College basketball has a strong tradition in North Carolina.

Lottery Commission members are aware the public is eager to learn when mobile betting will be allowed legally.

“Many people want to know when North Carolina will begin permitting legal sports betting,” said Chairman Ripley Rand. “We will keep the public up to date about when these programs will launch.”


Betting Odds Favorite Jesse Watters To Replace Tucker Carlson On Fox News 

June 26, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

Fox News host Jesse Watters has been named to replace Tucker Carlson in the cable network’s high-profile 8 p.m. ET time slot.

Carlson’s abrupt departure in April led to speculation about which of several Fox News hosts would be slotted into the 8 p.m. broadcast schedule.

At the time, Gambling.com listed Watters as the favorite to take over for Carlson.

Carlson departed after private messages surfaced showing his “disregard for management and colleagues,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The cable network has been using a rotating lineup of guest hosts at 8 p.m. 

Currently, Watters hosts the 7 p.m. show “Jesse Watters Primetime” and is co-host of the network’s most highly rated program, “The Five,” an afternoon roundtable discussion each weekday.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s show, "The Ingraham Angle,” will move from 10 p.m. to 7 p.m., Fox News announced Monday.

In April, Gambling.com had her as the second favorite behind Watters to replace Carlson. 

Beginning July 17, the following will be the Fox News evening schedule. All times are ET:

  • 7 p.m. ”The Ingraham Angle" with Laura Ingraham
  • 8 p.m. "Jesse Watters Primetime” with Jesse Watters
  • 9 p.m. "Hannity" with Sean Hannity
  • 10 p.m. “Gutfeld!" with Greg Gutfield

Congress Queries The NCAA And Professional Sports Leagues On Sports Betting

June 21, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Nevada Rep. Dina Titus is one of the staunchest supporters of gambling in Congress. But even Rep. Titus has concerns about the recent spate of gambling controversies that have enveloped professional and collegiate sports. 

Per reporting by ESPN’s David Purdum, Rep. Titus has sent a letter to commissioners and presidents of 12 professional leagues and the NCAA requesting information on gambling policies and investigations, including prohibitions on athletes and employees and policies on education.

“We wanted to get ahead of this,” Titus told ESPN. “That’s why we expanded it to include so many of the different sports. It seems to be one of those things that needs addressing, as we look at sports betting generally.”

In the letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Titus asked for responses to the following questions by July 15:

  • What is your league’s sports betting policy for athletes and staff?
    • Does your league prohibit affiliated individuals from betting on leagues outside of your own?
    • Does your league prohibit sports betting in league-affiliated locations like stadiums or practice facilities?
  • 2) How often does your league require in-person education on the rules surrounding sports betting? Please describe the education required for players and staff to be in compliance with your league’s rules.
  • 3) How many staff members does your league employ for the education, monitoring, and investigation of sports betting activity by league-affiliated individuals? Please describe what partnerships your league maintains to assist with these efforts.
  • 4) Does your league provide a list of names of individuals who are prohibited from sports betting to integrity monitoring firms and sportsbooks?
  • 5) Since 2018, how many individuals have been found guilty of breaking league rules regarding sports betting? What punishments have these individuals received?
  • 6) How many active investigations does your league currently have into suspicious sports betting activity?

Whether the leagues respond is likely a moot point, as the outcome is undoubtedly Congressional hearings. Non-answers or general answers will raise more questions, and complete answers to the final two questions will raise a few eyebrows. 


Proposal To Double Ohio Sports Betting Tax Rate Back On Table

June 20, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

When it passed its budget last week, the Ohio Senate inserted a proposal from Gov. Mike DeWine to increase the sports betting revenue tax from 10% to 20%. The proposal was part of the House budget before being stripped from the final budget in April. 

With the reinsertion by the Senate (along with other amendments), the bill will head back to the House for concurrence. The more likely outcome is a conference committee, where the House and Senate can hash out their differences. 

Tax increases aren’t unprecedented (Pennsylvania raised its tax on gambling revenue by 2% in 2016), but a doubling of the tax rate just months after the launch of the industry would be historic. 


Bet365 Is Live In 5 States After Iowa Launch

June 15, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

One of the sleeping giants in the sports betting world has awoken. Bet365 Sportsbook entering the U.S. market has been slow and deliberate, but the UK powerhouse is now live in five states and is already outperforming several established brands per Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.

Bet365 is live in:

Per the EKG Line newsletter, Bet365 is outpacing Caesars Sportsbook and Barstool Sportsbook in terms of app downloads, spurred by its launch in Ohio. EKG also notes that Bet365’s app ranks higher than Caesars and Barstool in the company’s quarterly testing. 

As EKG’s Chris Krafcik notes, Bet365 has a 7% market share in Ohio, but accounts for 11% of bonusing in the state. Bet365 continuing that level of spend, in Ohio and other markets, is unlikely.

“SO ... 365's Ohio-driven U.S. OSB app install momentum — although timely and directionally interesting — is merely the first chapter of a larger (and hopefully eventful) U.S. story that will unfold over the next few years,” Krafcik wrote on LinkedIn. 

Bet365’s renewed interest in the U.S. appears very strategic (the company made a half-hearted play at a New York license and decided not to pursue a Massachusetts sports betting license despite approval) and coincides with its success in Ontario.


Vermont And North Carolina Governors Sign Sports Betting Bills

June 15, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Wednesday saw two states officially join the ranks of legal online sports betting jurisdictions: Vermont and North Carolina.

In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper signed the state’s mobile sports betting bill into law at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte. 

"This legislation will help North Carolina compete, make sure taxpayers receive a share, create many good-paying jobs and foster strong economic opportunity," Cooper said. "As we move forward, we should work to make sure more of the revenue is used to invest in our public schools, teachers and students."

Per our analysis, North Carolina is expected to be a top-performing sports betting market, rivaling existing markets like Virginia and Michigan.

In Vermont, the signing was more low-key, with Gov. Phil Scott signing H127 into law and setting the stage for up to six mobile sportsbooks in the Green Mountain State. 

“I first proposed Vermont legalize sports betting several years ago and I’m happy the Legislature has come to an agreement, as well," Scott said in a statement. “We know many Vermonters already participate in the marketplace and bringing it above board provides important resources and consumer protections.”


Greyhound Racing Is Dying; Congress Wants It Dead

June 13, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

A congressional effort to prohibit greyhound racing would be the final nail in the industry’s coffin – a coffin that has seen a lot of activity over the last 20 years.

In the 1980’s, there were some 50 greyhound tracks in 19 states. In 2023 there are two tracks in a single state. Further, betting handle has plunged from a peak of $3.5 billion to about $350 million in 2022. 

Needless to say, greyhound racing is all but extinct in the United States, and H.R. 3894 is a bipartisan effort that would eliminate the last vestiges of it. The bill’s subtitle says it all, “To amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit commercial greyhound racing, live lure training, and open field coursing, and for other purposes.”

The only state with active greyhound tracks is West Virginia, where two tracks are all that is left of a once mighty industry. The decline has been two-fold, as some states have outlawed greyhound racing over animal welfare concerns, while others saw tracks close for economic reasons. 

After more than 60 years of live dog racing at Southland Casino Hotel in Arkansas,  the final race concluded Saturday on New Year’s Eve.

Still, the federal legislation would have a more significant effect than closing two West Virginia dog tracks. While some states have outlawed betting on greyhound races, you can legally bet on greyhound races (from the West Virginia tracks or international racetracks) online and at simulcast facilities in plenty of states. H.R. 3894 would end that, as the bill prohibits remote gambling on greyhound racing.   


New Jersey Online Gambling Renewal Deadline Fast Approaching

June 12, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

New Jersey was among the first states to legalize online casino gambling. As such, the legislature inserted a contingency plan into the law, just in case the experiment didn’t work out: a 10-year reauthorization clause. 

The experiment did work (better than anyone could have imagined), and the New Jersey legislature will reauthorize online casino gambling. That said, lawmakers are showing no signs of urgency, as the deadline to reauthorize the law is in November. 

The good news is the bill to reauthorize online gambling is beginning to move through the legislature and could be on Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk by the end of the month. 


Bally’s iCasino Is Now Available In Pennsylvania

June 12, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Pennsylvania is already a bustling online casino market, but with a population of 13 million, the market isn’t saturated. Enter Bally’s, which soft-launched its online casino product to select customers in the Keystone State on June 7, after it received approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in March.

The Bally’s soft launch officially began on June 8, and Pennsylvania online casino soft launches typically last three days. Assuming there were no incidents of note, Bally’s Pennsylvania online casino should be out of the soft launch at this time. 

Bally’s foray into the Pennsylvania online casino market began in January when the PGCB made the 12 unclaimed online gambling licenses (three online slots, three online table games, and six online poker) available in January. Each license costs $4 million, and Bally’s applied for the online slots and table games permit. The PGCB later approved that request. 

Bally’s is also trying to build a Category 4 casino near Penn State University. Like its online gambling licenses, several Category 4 “satellite” casino licenses went unclaimed by existing casino licensees, so the PGCB opened the bidding to outside companies. Bally’s jumped at the opportunity and was unanimously approved by the PGCB, but plans have stalled following a lawsuit by Cordish Company. 

Decision Expected Soon On Funding For A’s Stadium In Las Vegas

June 9, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

Nevada legislators are set to return Monday to Carson City to decide whether to use public money to help fund a Major League Baseball stadium in Southern Nevada.

The Oakland Athletics are seeking up to $380 million in public funding for a $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof on the Las Vegas Strip near the airport.

If the A’s relocate to Las Vegas as planned, the stadium would be built at the site of the Tropicana hotel-casino, which first opened 1957. The Tropicana had a long history of being linked to the Mob but now is operated by Bally’s Corp. of Rhode Island.

Gov. Joe Lombardo, a Republican former Clark County elected sheriff, called the Legislature into a special session this week to decide on the stadium proposal. Las Vegas is in Clark County.

Lawmakers adjourned for the weekend before Senate Bill 1, the stadium proposal, could be decided upon.

At the end of this week, it was unclear whether the bill will be approved.

However, Steve Sebelius, the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s politics and government editor, noted in a column this week that most of the influential groups in Southern Nevada, including the casino industry, support the funding proposal.

“That includes labor unions, including the politically powerful Culinary Local 226, the casino industry, chambers of commerce from around the Las Vegas Valley, and the Republican governor,” Sibelius wrote. “It’s rare to see these forces align and fail to get what they want. That’s one of the key factors that make Legislative Building regulars believe that the proposal may be stalled, but is not totally dead.”


Seneca Nation And New York Reach Compact Agreement

June 8, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

New York and the Seneca Nation have agreed in principle on a new 20-year compact. The breakthrough is welcome news considering the two sides have had a stressed relationship for several years. 

A little backstory: The current compact expired earlier this year, but the arrangement has been in dispute since 2009, when the Seneca withheld revenue payments to the state, citing VLTs at racetracks within the tribe’s exclusivity zone. That was solved in 2013, but a new headache arose when the sides extended the original compact by seven years.

Unlike the neatly laid out tax obligations in the original compact, missing from the renewal was what percentage the Seneca Nation would pay during that time, which the Seneca Nation took as the rate being 0%. Obviously, New York disagreed. 

The new deal: Seneca President Rickey Armstrong, Jr. said a framework deal has been reached, and he expects the agreement to be finalized in the coming days. 

“Negotiating a fair compact was critical to the future of the Seneca Nation and the future of Western New York. Throughout the negotiations, our focus remained on arriving at a fair equitable deal that secured the future of our gaming operations, the final funding for our operations that provide critical services for our people and a significant jobs and economic benefits it generates in Western New York,” Armstrong said.

The agreement still requires the following:

  • Gov. Kathy Hochul’s approval – Hochul recused herself from negotiations as her husband works for a commercial gaming company, Delaware North.
  • The Seneca Nation to approve the compact via a referendum vote.
  • The Department of Interior to sign off on the new agreement.

Mobile Betting Is Coming To North Carolina

June 7, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

To paraphrase John McClane, “Welcome to the party, pal.” 

North Carolina is on the cusp of legalizing mobile sports betting following favorable votes in the House of Representatives. 

The bill had plenty of scares after passing the House in March. The Senate sat on the bill for several months before passing the bill – after making numerous amendments. Those amendments required the bill to return to the House for concurrence, which created new opportunities to derail the bill.

One potential roadblock was House Speaker Tim Moore, who intimated he might try to combine sports betting with other gambling expansions like casinos and VLTs. Fortunately, Moore changed his mind, and the bill sailed through the House without further modifications. 


Ohio Regulator Criticizes Kentucky’s 18+ Sports Betting Age

June 7, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Ohio’s top regulator fired some shots at the sports betting law in Kentucky, which sets the legal betting age at 18.

Matt Schuler, executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, called it a “fundamental mistake” and said, “I absolutely hate the idea that individuals under 21 can go across the border, open an account and bet. I think it’s horrible.”

However, Schuler’s concerns may be moot, as at least one Kentucky operator has stated it will set its age at 21, in line with most other states and the recently updated guidelines from the American Gaming Association. 

That said, there are several states and U.S. jurisdictions with a legal sports betting age of 18:

  • Rhode Island
  • New Hampshire
  • Montana
  • Washington DC
  • Puerto Rico

Further, most states are 18+ for lottery products and horse racing, and several states allow 18-year-olds in casinos. 


Nashville Sports Tech Company Gets Boost

June 5, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

Nashville-based SoBet is celebrating its first anniversary this month with a “significant achievement” in its growth, CEO Cooper Lycan says.

The online company has joined the 2023 Techstars Sports Accelerator program for sports tech companies.

The 13-week Techstars mentorship program focuses on new technologies and business models in the sports industry, according to its website. Techstars is headquartered in Indianapolis.

In addition to SoBet, the 13 companies in this year’s Techstars class include New York-based SIQ, providing advanced analytics to basketball players, and The Highlights App, a Miami-based platform for watching the latest sports highlights.

Lycan said the Techstars Sports Accelerator is a “significant achievement” that will allow SoBet to gain insights to "help us diversify our revenue streams and scale faster and better.”

"Being accepted into this prestigious program allows us to gain access to a network of industry experts and leaders at the intersection of technology and sports,” he said.

SoBet’s online platform connects subscribers to sports handicappers and sports-content creators who offer insight into sporting events and teams.

SoBet’s one-stop format keeps bettors from having to click around on different social media and pay-for-picks sites, Lycan told Gambling.com earlier this year. 


Ohio’s Sports Betting Kiosks Are Doing Worse Than You Think

June 5, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

The amount of money generated by Ohio’s sports betting kiosks in bars and restaurants has been paltry. 

 

But local reporting makes the already low topline numbers look even worse. According to WBNS, sports betting kiosks are on pace to generate about $312,000 in revenue this year. 

According to the Ohio Lottery, it costs more than double that amount to oversee the kiosks. 

“While we were tasked by the Legislature with starting the lottery sports gaming program, we knew that it was not going to be as lucrative as traditional lottery products. Unlike traditional lottery games that have fixed payouts and prize structures, sports gaming’s odds are volatile and change quickly, and sometimes proprietors take a loss. Lottery sports gaming is also competing against mobile sports betting, which currently appears to have taken up 98% of the market in Ohio.”

Report: Online Casinos Impact On West Virginia Retail Gambling 

June 5, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

A new report from Spectrum Gaming Group analyzes online gambling’s impact on existing retail gambling in West Virginia. The topline findings indicate online gambling is not cannibalizing retail gambling and has been a net positive for West Virginia. 

Spectrum chose West Virginia because of its uniqueness in the U.S. gambling space. The Mountaineer State is the only locale that has online casinos, land-based casinos, and distributed gambling (VLTs). 

According to a chart from Spectrum, all three verticals have grown over the observed period (Sep. 2021 to April 2023). Spectrum used a rolling 12-month average to determine growth. 

  • VLT GGR has been relatively steady.
  • Casino revenue has increased by 18%.
  • Online gambling revenue has tripled.

Spectrum concluded that online gambling poses less risk to land-based gambling in West Virginia than in other states. “Igaming is not a threat to eclipse retail gaming revenues in West Virginia, as it is in the “big three” igaming states of Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania,” Spectrum wrote.

Per Spectrum, West Virginia differs from other online gambling locales because of the longstanding presence of VLTs, and West Virginia ranks last in broadband access. 


FanDuel, DraftKings Remain Top-Rated Mobile Sports Betting Apps

June 5, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Eilers & Krejcik Gaming’s quarterly look at the U.S. online sports betting apps showed little change among the top 10. According to EKG, the Top 8 brands remain unchanged, with FanDuel holding the No. 1 spot for the third straight report, followed by DraftKings at No. 2, PointsBet at No. 3, and Bet365 at No. 4. 

Per the EKG Line, “The top eight apps — and their order — remained unchanged from the previous quarter, suggesting an increasingly settled market and an absence of real challenger brands.”

Changes could come when BetFanatics is part of the mix (the company is acquiring No. 3 ranked PointsBet) and Penn’s impending shift from Kambi to its in-house tech stack powered by TheScore. 

The latter is unlikely to see a substantial change in its app ranking, considering it’s currently a respectable 6th. However, as EKG points out, “Penn has promised immediate product upgrades after that migration, backed by more external marketing spend.”


The U.S. Legislative Landscape - June 1, 2023

June 1, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

A look at legislative efforts and launch updates in the U.S. online gambling space. 

 

State Last Update Latest News
Rhode Island May 14 Rhode Island is throwing its hat into the online casino discussion. A new bill would legalize the activity in the state. However, SB 948 is on hold as the Senate Special Legislation and Veteran Affairs Committee determines if legalization requires a change to the state constitution.
Vermont May 29 The Vermont legislature has passed a sports betting bill. Gov. Phil Scott has said he will sign the bill when it lands on his desk. A tentative launch timeline has mobile betting live in Jan. 2024.
Mississippi April 10 Mississippi passed a bill (HB 606) that would set up a sports betting task force to study the potential impacts of mobile sports betting. The bill creates an 11-member panel that must submit findings and recommendations by December 15, 2023.
South Carolina May 1 A bill to legalize sports betting, HB 3479, looks like it will go down in flames – to no one’s surprise. The state also has an online parimutuel betting bill. Supporters are pointing to the South Carolina horse racing industry being on life support, as owners have left the state for greener pastures in other states.
Illinois April 2 A bill introduced by Illinois State Sen. Christina Castro to legalize online casinos ran out of time in the Illinois legislature.
Ohio Feb. 13 Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s 2024-25 budget included a very interesting sports betting tweak, as the governor wants to double the sports betting tax rate from 10% to 20%. This is something to watch for in Ohio and elsewhere.
Oklahoma May 1 Sports betting will have to wait In Oklahoma. HB1027 by Rep. Ken Luttrell would allow state tribes to amend their gaming compacts to offer in-person and online sports betting has fallen by the wayside. The governor has voiced support, but the state’s major gaming tribes are not fully on board yet.
Maine May 29 Maine continues to inch towards a sports betting launch, with the state now targeting a launch date in late-2023. The revised rules are a good sign, but Maine’s top regulator, Milton Champion has been put on administrative leave after incendiary tweets. That doesn’t seem to put the new launch timeline in jeopardy. Maine also has a new online casino bill introduced during a special session. The bill (not expected to go anywhere) would legalize online casino gambling like the state legalized sports betting, through Native American tribes.
Georgia April 10 Georgia sports betting has fallen by the wayside.
Minnesota May 29 Minnesota sports betting has fallen short once again. The original plan to legalize retail and mobile betting via Minnesota’s tribes was scrapped, and lawmakers tried to include the state’s two commercial racetracks via a stipend from tax revenue.
New York May 29 Online casinos weren’t included in Gov. Hochul’s budget, nor was it included in the Assembly or Senate budgets, all but ending New York’s online casino hopes this year. New York recently amended its affiliate rules, prohibiting revenue-sharing deals, but allowing CPA agreements. At least for now.
Indiana Feb. 24 Indiana’s efforts to legalize online casinos and online poker are over, thanks to VLTs and cannibalization concerns.
Texas May 29 The Texas House passed a bill to place sports betting on the 2023 November ballot. The bad news is the bill is all but dead. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick took to Twitter to indicate there isn’t enough support from Senate Republicans to allow the matter to go forward.
North Carolina May 29 North Carolina House passed a mobile sports betting bill. Last year the House was the sticking point, which bodes well for the state’s chances this year. HB 347 would create an online industry with up to 12 commercial operators. And for tribes to compact with the state to offer mobile betting. The Senate has amended the bill in several ways, but the changes do not seem like dealbreakers, although this will be an important process to watch.
New Hampshire May 1 After the Senate passed New Hampshire’s online casino bill, the bill met its end in the House Ways & Means Committee amid cannibalization concerns from the state’s charity gaming operators.
Kentucky April 2 Kentucky is officially a legal sports betting state. Following the passage of HB 551 in the House and Senate, Gov. Beshear signed the bill last week. The state must wait until June 29 to begin the rulemaking process, potentially setting up a late 2023 or early 2024 launch.
Missouri May 14 Missouri’s efforts to legalize sports betting in 2023 have ended. Senate gridlock over the legalization of VLTs has once again derailed the state’s attempts to legalize sports betting.
Tennessee May 1 Tennessee has shifted its sports betting taxation model from revenue-based to handle-based. Tennessee is the first state to go this route.
Iowa March 19 A new bill in Iowa would legalize online casino gambling in the state. The bill’s sponsor has said the goal isn’t passage but to educate fellow lawmakers and set the table for a serious effort in 2024.
Arkansas April 10 The Arkansas Legislature wrapped up a three-month session on without approving bills to enlarge the state Racing Commission. The Senate voted 20-5 to kill Senate Bill 539, which would have added four consumers to the seven-member panel. The commission regulates all gaming in Arkansas, including horse racing, casino gambling and sports betting.

iDEA Growth Latest Group To Adopt Responsible Advertising Code

June 1, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Advertising is the talk of the sports betting world. With so much attention focused on the negative, several groups are looking to get out in front of future issues by implementing responsible marketing codes. 

The American Gaming Association (AGA) was one such group, and iDEA Growth, a nonprofit focused on online gambling legalization, has followed suit and adopted a responsible advertising code for its members. 

iDEA’s new policies that members must abide by are:

  • Complying with legal requirements relating to sports wagering and online gaming advertising
  • Promoting sports betting and online gaming only to those over the age of 21
  • Limiting college and university advertising
  • Promoting responsible gaming
  • Implementing and monitoring code compliance

These policies align with the AGA’s standards and the recently announced Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising. This group includes the NFL, MLB, NBA, and other leagues, which set forth six principles:

  • Sports betting should be marketed only to adults of legal betting age.
  • Sports betting advertising should not promote irresponsible or excessive gambling or degrade the consumer experience.
  • Sports betting advertisements should not be misleading.
  • Sports betting advertisements should be in good taste.
  • Publishers should have appropriate internal reviews of sports betting advertising.
  • Publishers should review consumer complaints about sports betting advertising.

 


NC Sports Betting Bill Readies For Senate Vote

May 24, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

North Carolina sports betting has progressed through the Senate and could be voted on as soon as today. The Senate will be in session at 4:30 and sports betting is on the agenda. 

If the Senate approves the legislation, the changes to the bill previously passed by the House are likely to result in a conference committee. Since our last update, the HHR amendment has been removed, which was the most controversial change. 

The Senate has also amended the potential start date, changing it from a static date of January 8, 2024, to a more malleable timeline of within 12 months of passage. 

The good news is none of the changes are believed to be dealbreakers, but after last year's efforts fell apart at the last minute, and by the slimmest of margins, nothing should be taken for granted. 


NC Sports Betting Bill Future In Doubt After Significant Changes

May 24, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

North Carolina was a favorite to expand its legal sports betting options to include mobile betting. Everything was going smoothly, with a bill (HB 347) passing the House in March by a 64-45 margin. A similar bill failed to pass the House in 2022 by the slimmest of margins. 

The Senate was expected to follow suit (the Senate passed a mobile betting last year). But those hopes have hit a snag following a flurry of amendments to the bill by the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee.

Several of the amendments are significant and threaten the bill’s eventual chance of passage.

  • The Committee increased the tax from 14% to 18%.
  • Promotional deductions are now prohibited.
  • Licensing changes have given an advantage to local teams.
  • Legalizes parimutuel wagering, live and online.
  • Authorizes historical horse racing machines.

The Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee approved the amended bill, which must pass the Finance Committee and the Rules and Operations Committee before it can reach the Senate floor for a vote. 


Gavin Newsom Signs Cardroom Moratorium Pleasing Tribes And Cardrooms

May 24, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed AB 341, re-upping a moratorium on new commercial cardrooms in the state for 20 years. The previous moratorium expired on Jan. 1. 

Under the previous moratorium, no new cardroom licenses could be awarded, and existing cardrooms could not expand beyond the maximum number of tables already permitted. 

The new moratorium restricts new licenses (including those filed between Jan. 1, 2023, and today) but allows some cardrooms to moderately increase the number of tables on-site. 

Per AB 341, “The bill… would authorize a city, county, or city and county to amend its ordinance to increase the number of gambling tables that may be operated in a gambling establishment that operates fewer than 20 tables, by up to 2 additional tables the first year, and up to 2 additional tables every 4 years thereafter, as provided.” 

Two San Jose cardrooms can add 30 tables after a voter referendum approved the expansion. 

The moratorium is one of the rare examples where California tribes and commercial cardrooms are on the same page. Existing cardrooms don’t want any new competition, and tribal casino operators don’t want to see new cardrooms or existing cardrooms expand. 


Massachusetts Regulators Express Displeasure With Sports Betting Faux Pas 

May 24, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

DraftKings has run afoul of Massachusetts sports betting rules, having accepted wagers on UTR Pro Tennis matches in March. UTR is an unapproved league in Massachusetts. DraftKings booked 864 wagers for a total of just $7,800. 

According to DraftKings, the misstep was due to copying a betting menu from a different U.S. locale. 

During the meeting, MGC Commissioner Eileen O’Brien stated her frustration with the lackadaisical attitude, “Well, we just copied from somebody else,” which has led to several violations in the short existence of Massachusetts sports betting.

The MGC has also recently codified two temporary policies:

  • Operators cannot deduct promotional play from their gross gaming revenue.
  • Affiliates are restricted to CPA deals with sports betting operators. Revenue-sharing deals are prohibited.

Maine’s Top Gaming Regulator Placed On Leave, But No Change To Sports Betting Timeline 

May 24, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Maine’s top regulator, Milton Champion, has been put on administrative leave after several insensitive tweets. However, the state is still targeting a November launch of its sports betting industry, with newly appointed deputy director Matthew Motti taking over the Maine Gambling Control Unit while Champion’s conduct is reviewed. 

“The Gambling Control Unit remains committed to implementing the law in a manner consistent with the November time frame previously publicly discussed,” Lt. Thomas Pickering of the Maine State Police wrote in an email to the local press.

Before he was placed on leave, Champion unveiled the second draft of rules, which possessed far fewer controversial items than the first batch. The state could meet its launch timeline if there is no need for a third draft. 


Shreveport City Council Repeals Casino Smoking Ban 

May 23, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

The Shreveport, La., City Council voted Tuesday to lift a ban on smoking inside casinos.

Four of the seven City Council members voted in favor of Ordinance 46, allowing smoking in casino gaming areas again but retaining a ban in other sections, such as restaurants. One City Council member was absent.

At Tuesday City Council meeting, lasting more than two hours, several casino workers and medical professionals said exposure to second-hand smoke creates serious health problems such as cancer and heart disease.

However, some Shreveport casino workers and executives said the smoking ban, enacted on Aug. 1, 2021, has driven gamblers across the Red River to neighboring Bossier City, where smoking is allowed inside casinos. That shift in customer loyalty threatens jobs in Shreveport casinos, according to those who opposed the ban.  

The Shreveport-Bossier City area is in northwest Louisiana near the Texas border. According to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, two of the three riverboat casinos in Bossier City recently have been the highest-performing gambling halls in the area on a monthly basis. Shreveport has two riverboat casino. 

Boyd Gaming executive Vincent Schwartz said gaming revenue began migrating across the river to Bossier City casinos after the Shreveport smoking ban was implemented in 2021. Nevada-based Boyd Gaming operates the Sam’s Town riverboat casino in Shreveport.

Because gamblers are taking their business to Bossier City, the Shreveport smoking ban has led to job reductions at casinos in that city, fewer tips for casino workers, and less spending with local vendors and in downtown businesses, Schwartz said. 

Urging the City Council to maintain the ban, casino employee Desmond Hill asked the elected officials to stick with their pledge to protect the casino workers’ health, as intended with the 2021 smoking ban.

“Don’t sell us out,” he said.


Health Coalition Seeks To Retain Shreveport Casino Smoking Ban 

May 22, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

A coalition seeking smoke-free workplaces is urging the Shreveport City Council to maintain a ban on smoking inside casinos. 

Shreveport is in northwestern Louisiana near the Texas border.

In a letter to the Shreveport City Council, and at a rally on Monday, members of the coalition said the ban on smoking in Shreveport casinos, enacted in August 2021, should remain in place.

The council is expected to vote Tuesday, May 23, on an ordinance revision to allow smoking inside casinos again but only on one floor.

Some Shreveport elected officials contend the smoking ban has hurt the casinos’ bottom line, especially since the gambling halls across the Red River in neighboring Bossier City allow smoking. Shreveport has two riverboat casinos, while Bossier City has three. Two of Bossier City's riverboat casinos, the Horseshoe and Margaritaville, are leading by far in total gaming revenue. 

A May 18 letter from the Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) urged the City Council not to put “the perception of higher profits” ahead of employee health concerns.

“You would be saying it’s OK that workers like us are getting diagnoses of cancer, heart disease, COPD, asthma and other unacceptable conditions that our peers working other jobs don’t have to confront,” the letter states.

In recent years, some resorts across the country, including on the Las Vegas Strip, have banned smoking, while many others allow gamblers to smoke. 

Opponents of bans say any decision on smoking should be left up to private businesses like casinos.


Minnesota Sports Betting Dreams Turn Into A Nightmare

May 22, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

The clock is about to tick down to zero on Minnesota’s sports betting hopes this year. With the legislature unable to agree on how the state’s sports betting industry should be structured, it looks like it’s on to 2024 for Minnesota. 

“I think we’re probably out of time,” Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman said on Friday. “I think that there’s a coalition of folks who are still really interested in making sure that that gets done. I just don’t think it will get done this session.” 

Today is the official last day of the 2023 legislative session.

Mobile licenses are exclusively for Minnesota tribes, but at issue is the possible inclusion of the state’s two commercial racetracks, either as retail locations or via a subsidy from the state’s cut of sports betting revenue. 

As we reported last week:

“The latest proposal would provide the racetracks with 3% of the state’s tax revenue from tribal sports betting operators, capped at $20 million, followed by annual payments of $1.5 million to each track. But it seems neither the tribes nor the two tracks are on board. Canterbury doesn’t like the equal distribution and phasing down of payments after the cap, and Running Aces is more interested in retail betting.” 


SDNY Charges 18-Year-Old In Sports Betting Account Hacking Scheme

May 22, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York unsealed a six-count indictment “charging Joseph Garrison in connection with a scheme to hack user accounts at a fantasy sports and betting website (the “Betting Website”) and sell access to those accounts in order to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from them.”

Garrison, 18, of Madison, Wisconsin, is charged with:

  • Conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison;
  • Unauthorized access to a protected computer to further intended fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison;
  • Unauthorized access to a protected computer, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison;
  • Wire fraud conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison;
  • Wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and
  • Aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison.

The betting website was not named, but it appears to be in relation to the breaches at DraftKings in late 2022, based on the timing of the incidents and screenshots in the criminal complaint. 

“On or about November 18, 2022, GARRISON launched a “credential stuffing attack” on the Betting Website,” the complaint reads. “During a credential stuffing attack, a cyber threat actor collects stolen credentials, or username and password pairs, obtained from other large-scale data breaches of other companies, which can be purchased on the dark web.” 

The complaint continues:

“Garrison and others successfully accessed approximately 60,000 accounts at the Betting Website (the “Victim Accounts”) through the credential stuffing attack.  In some instances, the individuals who unlawfully accessed the Victim Accounts were able to add a new payment method on the account, deposit $5 into that account through the new payment method to verify that method, and then withdraw all the existing funds in the Victim Account through the new payment method (i.e., to a newly added financial account belonging to the hacker), thus stealing the funds in the Victim Account.  Using this method, Garrison and others stole approximately $600,000 from approximately 1,600 Victim Accounts.”

Evidence seized in a search of Garrison’s home in February linked him to the breaches. 

FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael J. Driscoll said: “As alleged, Garrison attained unauthorized access to victim accounts using a sophisticated cyber-breaching attack to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars.”


Fanatics Plans Late-May Launch After Approval In MA

May 17, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

And then there were eight. 

Just days after it announced it was acquiring PointsBet’s U.S. sports betting assets, Fanatics was in front of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, where the Commission approving Fanatics sports betting license application in a 5-0 vote. 

Fanatics is targeting a late-May launch and would become the eighth mobile operator in the Bay State. 

Fanatics will join an already crowded Massachusetts sports betting field that includes:

  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • BetMGM
  • Caesars Sportsbook
  • Barstool Sportsbook
  • WynnBet
  • Betr

Caesars Sportsbook Partners With Two Kentucky Tracks

May 17, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Kentucky’s sports betting rules have yet to be promulgated, but that isn’t stopping stakeholders from getting the ball rolling. Caesars is the first U.S. sports betting operator to throw its hat into the Kentucky arena, following announced agreements with Keeneland and Red Mile Gaming and Racing.

The deal is online-forward, as each Kentucky racetrack can partner with up to three online sports betting operators. Per BetKentucky.com, Red Mile will possess an on-site Caesars branded sportsbook, but whether a similar venue will be located at Keeneland has yet to be decided. 

Kentucky is using an aggressive launch timeline that could see retail sportsbooks up and running by the NFL season, with a mobile launch to follow. However, it’s unclear if the state’s regulatory body, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, will be capable of meeting that demanding timeline. 


The U.S. Legislative Landscape - May 15, 2023

May 15, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Our weekly look at legislative efforts and launch updates in the U.S. online gambling space. 

 

State Last Update Latest News
Rhode Island May 14 Rhode Island is throwing its hat into the online casinos discussion. A new bill would legalize the activity in the state. However, SB 948 is on hold as the Senate Special Legislation and Veteran Affairs Committee determines if legalization requires a change to the state constitution.
Vermont May 14 The Vermont legislature has passed a sports betting bill. Gov. Phil Scott is expected to sign the bill soon.
Massachusetts March 19 Mobile sports betting is live in Massachusetts, with six operators launching on March 10.
Mississippi April 10 Mississippi passed a bill (HB 606) that would set up a sports betting task force to study the potential impacts of mobile sports betting. The bill creates an 11-member panel that must submit findings and recommendations by December 15, 2023.
South Carolina May 1 A bill to legalize sports betting, HB 3479, looks like it will go down in flames – to no one’s surprise. The state also has an online parimutuel betting bill. Supporters are pointing to the South Carolina horse racing industry being on life support, as owners have left the state for greener pastures in other states.
Illinois April 2 A bill introduced by Illinois State Sen. Christina Castro to legalize online casinos has run out of time in the Illinois legislature.
Ohio Feb. 13 Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s 2024-2025 budget included a very interesting sports betting tweak, as the governor wants to double the sports betting tax rate from 10% to 20%. This is something to watch for in Ohio and elsewhere.
Oklahoma May 1 Sports betting will have to wait In Oklahoma. HB1027 by Rep. Ken Luttrell would allow state tribes to amend their gaming compacts to offer in-person and online sports betting has fallen by the wayside. The governor has voiced support, but the state’s major gaming tribes are not fully on board yet.
Maine May 1 Maine continues to inch toward a sports betting launch, but with regulators overwhelmed by the process, that launch has been pushed back to 2024. Maine also has a new online casino bill introduced during a special session. The bill (not expected to go anywhere) would legalize online casino gambling like the state legalized sports betting, through Native American tribes.
Georgia April 10 Georgia sports betting has fallen by the wayside.
Minnesota May 1 Minnesota sports betting has hit a snag. The original plan to legalize retail and mobile betting via Minnesota’s tribes is being tinkered with to include the state’s two commercial racetracks via a stipend from tax revenue. The state is running short on time, with just two weeks left in the legislative session.
New York March 19 Online casinos weren’t included in Gov. Hochul’s budget, nor was it included in the Assembly or Senate budgets, all but ending New York’s online casino hopes this year.
Indiana Feb. 24 Indiana’s efforts to legalize online casinos and online poker are over, thanks to VLTs and cannibalization concerns.
Texas May 14 The Texas House passed a bill to place sports betting on the 2023 November ballot. Unfortunately, action in the Senate is extremely unlikely. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick took to Twitter to indicate there isn’t enough support from Senate Republicans to allow the matter to go forward.
North Carolina April 2 North Carolina House passed a mobile sports betting bill. Last year the House was the sticking point, which bodes well for the state’s chances this year. HB 347 would create an online industry with up to 12 commercial operators. And for tribes to compact with the state to offer mobile betting.
New Hampshire May 1 After the Senate passed New Hampshire’s online casino bill, the bill met its end in the House Ways & Means Committee amid cannibalization concerns from the state’s charity gaming operators.
Kentucky April 2 Kentucky is officially a legal sports betting state. Following the passage of HB 551 in the House and Senate, Gov. Andy Beshear signed the bill last week. The state must wait until June 29 to begin the rule making process, potentially setting up a late 2023 or early 2024 launch.
Missouri May 14 Missouri’s efforts to legalize sports betting in 2023 have ended. Senate gridlock over the legalization of VLTs has once again derailed the state’s attempts to legalize sports betting.
Tennessee May 1 Tennessee has shifted its sports betting taxation model from revenue-based to handle-based. Tennessee is the first state to go this route.
Iowa March 19 A new bill in Iowa would legalize online casino gambling in the state. The bill’s sponsor has said the goal isn’t passage but to educate fellow lawmakers and set the table for a serious effort in 2024.
Arkansas April 2 Legislation to add four "consumer" members to the Arkansas Racing Commission will be voted on this week. Proponents say the commission is too cozy with the horse racing and casino industries. Opponents say this is an effort to overturn the state rule requiring national online bookmakers to share 51% of profits if partnering with a local casino on a mobile sports betting app.

Oakland A's, Bally's Corp. Ink Stadium Deal At Tropicana Casino Site 

May 15, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry

Rhode Island-based Bally’s Corp., which operates the Tropicana hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip, on Monday announced it has entered a “binding agreement” with the Oakland Athletics to build a Major League Baseball stadium at the site.

Bally’s and Gaming & Leisure Properties Inc. will provide about nine acres of the 35-acre resort site at Tropicana Boulevard and the Las Vegas Strip for a big league ballpark. The 30,000-seat stadium is expected to attracted 2.5 million visitors annually. The Tropicana is on the southeast portion of the Strip near Harry Reid International Airport.

The A’s have been unable to reach a deal in Oakland to construct a new stadium and have indicated the team will move to Southern Nevada.

The Tropicana, which first opened in 1957, is one of the few formerly Mob-connected resorts on the Strip with much of its original construction in place. The Tropicana once was connected to organized crime figures such as Frank Costello, Johnny Rosselli and Nick Civella.

In the 1970s, the Tropicana was at the center of a federal investigation into untaxed gaming revenue being funneled illegally from the resort to the Civella crime family in Kansas City.

Several Las Vegas Strip resorts once connected to the Mob, including the Stardust and Sands, have been demolished. 


Sports Betting Passes Texas House, But DOA In Senate

May 15, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

The Texas House of Representatives has passed a bill that would put the legalization of sports betting on the 2023 ballot. The measure required a two-thirds majority in the House, which it received, and will require the same vote tally in the Senate. 

Needless to say, Gambling Twitter was in a euphoric tizzy after the vote. Could the second most populous state in the nation, and one that is known to be ultra-conservative when it comes to gambling, really legalize sports betting?

The answer is, almost assuredly, no. 

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick dumped a bucket of cold water all over Gambling Twitter’s hopes and dreams.

Also of note, a separate measure to authorize casino gambling failed to reach the 100-vote threshold in the House. For now, Texas will remain a veritable gambling desert. 


Missouri Legislature Fails To Pass Sports Betting… Again 

May 15, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

The Missouri legislature has adjourned, and once again, it has done so without legalizing sports betting. 

The Senate has been gridlocked for several years as a bloc of lawmakers refuses to allow a vote on a sports betting bill that doesn’t include the legalization of VLTs (video lottery terminals) in the state’s bars and restaurants. 

Because of Missouri legislative rules, the small contingent of Senators led by Sen. Denny Hoskins has been able to derail standalone sports betting bills, and there is no end to the stalemate in sight. The state’s only hope to legalize sports betting is to reach a compromise with Hoskins and co. on VLTs. 

The overarching issue is VLTs are extremely cannibalistic to existing land-based gambling. The tradeoff (sports for VLTs) is a deal Missouri casino operators aren’t willing to make. 


Minnesota Sports Betting Bill Faces Familiar Problem 

May 15, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Minnesota looked like a shoo-in to legalize sports betting this year, but the Land of 10,000 Lakes has encountered a singular problem that it seems unable to solve. 

Mobile sports betting would be run through the state’s tribal gaming operators, but the two commercial racetracks in the state are pushing for a piece of the action. And even though it’s a relatively small ask – last year it was retail betting, and this year it is a stipend from sports betting tax revenue – A deal seems out of reach.

The latest proposal would provide the racetracks with 3% of the state’s tax revenue from tribal sports betting operators, capped at $20 million, followed by annual payments of $1.5 million to each track. But it seems neither the tribes nor the two tracks are on board. Canterbury doesn’t like the equal distribution and phasing down of payments after the cap, and Running Aces is more interested in retail betting. 

Per Bloodhorse.com:

“If you’re the harness track you say well, that’s fair, but if you’re looking at the realities of the business, harness purses and Thoroughbred purses aren’t the same,” said Canterbury media relations manager Jeff Maday. “So it’s not realistic to split it 50/50. There needs to be a different number. That’s part of the objection on our side. But I think Running Aces also has said all along...that they want to be treated the same as the tribes, which is realistically a non-starter. We’re not going to be given a license at this point.”


Sports Betting And Casinos On The Move In Texas 

May 11, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Bills putting separate sports betting and casino referendums on the 2023 ballot are moving through the Texas House of Representatives.

  • HJR 102 would ask voters to legalize sports betting
  • HJR 155 contains both casinos and retail sports betting

Both bills require 100 affirmative votes (a two-thirds majority) on third reading to pass and move to the Senate. HJR 102 was close on second reading, with 97 yes votes. HJR 155 has more work to do, as it tallied 92 yes votes on second reading. 

Per the resolution, HJR 102 would authorize sports betting through sports teams, professional golf venues that host annual, sanctioned tours, and any Class I racetrack in operation as of January 1, 2023. 

The rest of the details would be determined in enabling legislation in the unlikely event either resolution is approved. If either measure passes the House, it is expected to face even more formidable opposition in the Senate. 


Vermont Sports Betting Bill Passes Legislature

May 11, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

It’s almost official, Vermont is the 39th state to legalize sports betting once Gov. Phil Scott signs the bill passed by the legislature last week. The Green Mountain State will be the second to legalize sports betting in 2023, following Kentucky’s affirmative vote in June. 

The bill uses a bidding process similar to New Hampshire and New York.

Under the guidelines, the state will select 2-6 operators to offer mobile sports betting to Vermonters. The Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery will handle the application process. The expectation is two or three applicants will be selected considering the state’s tiny population – Vermont is the 49th-ranked state in population with 650,000 residents. 

In addition to suitability, the DLL will consider the amount of revenue-sharing in each proposal, with the state mandating a minimum of 20%. That is in addition to an annual $550,000 licensing fee. Another interesting aspect is in place of an advertising cap the legislature considered, the DLL will negotiate advertising limits during the proposal process. 

The newly created industry would earmark $250,000 towards problem gambling in FY2024. That obligation increases to $550,000 in subsequent years. 

Vermont’s sports betting law indicates a January 2024 launch. However, whether the state can stick to that timeline is an open question, considering Vermont is a non-gaming state, which means regulators are relatively green regarding sports betting.


Missouri Sports Betting Rises From The Grave, But For How Long?

May 10, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Missouri sports betting is back! But before you get too excited, the return of sports betting is a last-ditch effort, akin to Gandalf’s speech to Pippen in the Return of the King, “'There never was much hope. Just a fool's hope.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t a Hollywood movie, and Missouri is unlikely to pull off a Tolkienesque miracle… But there is a chance.

Rep. Dan Houx has played his last card, adding sports betting to unrelated legislation already passed by the Senate. 

The bill, SB 92, received several amendments, morphing it from dealing with tax credits for interns and apprentices to a multifaceted tax reform bill. 

The most interesting part of the effort was the vehicle chosen by Houx is a bill sponsored by Sen. Denny Hoskins, putting the biggest sports betting roadblock in the Senate in a difficult situation. And not stopping there, Houx also included an amendment supported by one of Hoskins’s key allies, Sen. Bill Eigel.

It’s unlikely these tactics will be well-received in the Senate, but once again, Houx is putting the Senate on the hot seat and forcing their hand. The most likely outcome is a conference committee, as the two chambers passed different versions of SB 92. 

The conference committee will include Hoskins, so, at the end of the day, little has changed other than the debate being extended. 


Maine Gets Its First Sports Betting Operator

May 8, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Maine has its first sports betting operator, as Caesars Sportsbook has signed a deal with three of the state’s four tribes, according to reporting by SportsHandle’s Jill Dorson. 

The Caesars’ agreements with three of the four Maine tribes mean that any hope of a competitive market (with up to four operators) is off the table, as only one potential license remains. At most, the state will have two sportsbooks to choose from.

Maine legalized sports betting in May 2022 and is currently preparing for launch. A barebones staff and a chief regulator that is unconcerned with the industry’s desire for a speedy launch have pushed the timetable back to 2024. 

According to Champion, he’s received nearly 600 public comments on the initial sports betting draft rules, with just himself and one other Main Gambling Control Unit employee assigned to responding to each, along with their other existing duties. 


GeoComply Acquires Licensing Solutions Provider OneComply

May 8, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Per a press release, GeoComply has acquired OneComply, “a provider of comprehensive solutions that assist companies operating in regulated markets to manage their personal and corporate licensing obligations.”

“Licensing organizations and key individuals is necessary but can be a painful process for any entity working in regulated industries such as gaming or fintech,” GeoComply Co-Founder and CEO Anna Sainsbury said in the release. “As an existing OneComply customer, we know just how much OneComply eases that pain, not just for us but also for the regulators administering the process.”

The acquisition continues GeoComply’s strategy of streamlining operator services and improving the user experience. 

The list of services offered by GeoComply now includes the following:

  • Geolocation
  • IDComply, know your customer (KYC) checks
  • GeoComply Chargeback Indicator
  • Fraud detection
  • OneComply licensing solutions

Kentucky Launching Sports Betting With A Barebones Staff

May 5, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Anyone concerned with Kentucky’s proposed sports betting launch timeline would do well to read a WCPO 9 I-Team investigation comparing Kentucky’s regulatory workforce with nearby states.

WCPO took a deep look at the Kentucky regulatory systems in place as the state prepares for its sports betting launch. WCPO contrasted the Ohio Casino Control Commission and its 111 employees with 55 working in enforcement with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s 40 employees and four enforcement positions. 

Ohio is a much larger state with 11.7 million residents compared to Kentucky’s 4.5 million. That difference shows up in total employees, but the disparity in enforcement employees is massive. The gap is even larger between Kentucky and Indiana, with the Indiana Gaming Control Commission boasting 152 enforcement employees. 

“They’ve systematically set up the racing commission to really allow the tracks to regulate themselves, which is not a good situation for the taxpayers,” Michael Barley, chief public affairs officer for Pace-O-Matic Inc. told WCPO.  Pace-O-Matic games were recently ruled illegal in Kentucky. The company has filed a lawsuit to overturn the law.

With Kentucky targeting a pre-NFL retail launch date and a late 2023 online sports betting launch, the lack of personnel is troubling – WCPO notes the KHRC has four enforcement employees, four in licensing and two in compliance. Rep. Michael Meredith believes the KHRC will hire new staff to meet the target dates.  


MGCB Latest To Call For Illegal Gambling Crackdown

May 5, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

After sounding the illegal gambling klaxon, the American Gaming Association has picked up some high-profile support. Michigan Gaming Control Board executive director Henry Williams is the latest cosigner of an AGA letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, urging law enforcement to crackdown on illegal gambling.” The coalition is asking Garland to “address the significant threats offshore illegal gambling poses that state regulators cannot tackle alone.”

"In Michigan, strict laws and rules govern internet gaming and sports betting and provide consumer protections, promote confidence and ensure fair and honest gaming," Williams said in a press release. "We are willing to help the U.S. Department of Justice in any way we can as it pursues enforcement of U.S. laws against offshore illegal gaming enterprises that take advantage of our citizens."

Williams joins his counterparts in Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Nevada as signatories, “urging the U.S. Department of Justice to make combating illegal, offshore sportsbooks and online casinos a priority.”

The letter highlights several dangers posed by illegal offshore wagering sites, including: 

  • Lack of investment in responsible gaming programs
  • No age verification requirements to protect minors
  • No controls to prevent money laundering
  • No guarantees of fair payouts for customers
  • Loss of state tax revenue that funds important initiatives like education

Vermont Moves A Step Closer To Legal Sports Betting

May 5, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

[Updated] The Vermont House voted to legalize sports betting on Thursday, setting up what should be a noncontroversial vote in the Senate, and a visit to Gov. Phil Scott’s desk to be signed into law. 

Legal sports betting is poised to become a reality in the Green Mountain State after a sports betting bill (H 127) has moved to third reading in the Vermont Senate. The measure has already passed the Vermont House of Representatives. 

The amended bill is expected to pass the Senate, at which point it will return to the House for concurrence before landing on Gov. Phil Scott, who has voiced support for legal sports betting and included sports betting in his state budget. 

The amendments shouldn’t be a barrier in the House, as most deal with responsible gambling policies along with a non-controversial tweak to the operator licensing fees. 


IGA Panel: Oklahoma Sports Betting Still Has A Long Way To Go

May 4, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Oklahoma is a sports betting candidate state, but the stakeholders are not on the same page. 

The sticking point is Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desire to renegotiate tribal compacts and increase the tribes’ tax obligations to the state. And the rift is quite large. As CDC Gaming Reports notes, Stitt wants as much as 25%, far more than the current tax rates of 4% on the first $10 million, 5% for the next $10 million, and 6% for more than $20 million. 

Stitt is using sports betting as a means to amend entire compacts. 

“With the current state of leadership, I don’t see it happening anytime soon with all the tribes,” former Quapaw Tribe chairman JR Matthews said. “It’s pretty much dead this year. I’m sure it will come back next year. The legislators want to see, this because they know the state will get left out. When you have Texas, Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas around you (potentially) having sports betting and we don’t, they’ll have a problem. All of our money will be leaving instead of coming in.”


Minnesota Lawmakers Make A Last-Ditch Push For Sports Betting

May 4, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Minnesota Sen. Matt Klein isn’t ready to give up on sports betting. With sports betting bills (SF 1949 and HF 2000) stalled, Klein has amended his legislation to include the state’s two commercial racetracks (Running Aces and Canterbury Park) in an effort to increase support in the statehouse.

“There’s not going to be an agreement on this unless the tracks, the teams, and the tribes are at the table and negotiate a compromise,” said Rep. Pat Garofalo.

Klein’s amendment wouldn’t provide sports betting licenses to racetracks, something the state’s gaming tribes oppose. Instead, it would provide horse racing facilities with a stipend. Under the proposal, 30% of the tax revenue collected by the state would be placed in an “economic development fund for the tracks capped at $20 million. After that initial infusion, the two tracks would split $3 million annually,” per the Star-Tribune.

With the amendment, the Senate State and Local Government Committee is expected to reconsider the bill, but the Minnesota legislative session deadline of May 22 is fast approaching.


New York Budget Includes A $455 Million To Renovate Belmont Park

May 2, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

A budget compromise between legislative leaders and Gov. Kathy Hochul includes a $455 million to the New York Racing Association to rebuild Belmont Park. 

Per NYRA:

“According to an analysis performed by HR&A Advisors, the multi-year project to build a new Belmont Park will generate $1 billion in construction-related economic impact and create 3,700 construction-related jobs. Upon completion of the project, additional racing and non-racing activities at the new Belmont Park will generate $155 million in annual economic output, support 740 new full-time jobs, and produce $10 million in new state and local tax revenue per year.” 

Interestingly, the plan is to tear down the current venue and replace it with a new but much smaller grandstand – a sign of racing’s current ability to draw fans compared to years ago when Belmont Park attracted 40,000 fans for its 1905 opening. 

Once completed, NYRA would relinquish its lease for Aqueduct Racetrack (which could become home to a downstate casino with nearby Resorts World), with all downstate racing taking place at the new Belmont Park. A renovated and reimagined Belmont is also expected to bring the Breeder’s Cup back to New York. 

“The transformation of Belmont Park will secure the future of thoroughbred racing in New York State, create thousands of good jobs and drive tourism to Long Island and the region for decades to come,” said NYRA President & CEO David O’Rourke. “We thank Gov. Hochul and our legislative leaders for recognizing the importance of this project to the countless New York families and small businesses reliant on a strong horse racing economy.”


NFLPA Realizes Licensed Sportsbooks Are Highly Regulated

May 2, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

The aftermath of five NFL players being suspended for gambling has been interesting, to say the least. Most interesting is how quickly it fell out of the main news cycle. It may have been a blip, but there is some concern that further incidents will create compounding problems. 

In a remarkable statement, the NFLPA warned agents about the tracking capabilities of legal sports betting apps:

“During the NFL’s investigations we have learned that these apps (like FanDuel) are highly sensitive and very sophisticated at tracking, among other things, user location to be sure that the people using the app are not ‘prohibited gamblers’ and/or that the person using the app is in a location where they are allowed to place bets on the app. We have confirmed that some states monitor/audit FanDuel and the other gambling apps to ensure that the companies are in compliance with state law. Further the apps monitor gambler activity. It was as part of that monitoring that the NFL learned of the players using the apps at work in violation of NFL rules. At no time should players open or use any mobile gambling app while at work.”

The statement is remarkable for two reasons. First, why was it sent to agents? And second, the need to explain that licensed sportsbooks are strictly regulated and capable of knowing who and where you are at all times. 

But as Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio put it, the warnings won’t stop players from placing restricted bets, “They’re either not paying attention, or they don’t care.”


Bally’s Partners With Kambi For U.S. Sports Betting Reset

May 2, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Bally’s plans for a comprehensive in-house sports betting platform have gone up in smoke, but we now know what Bally Bets 2.0 will look like, as the company has announced a partnership with Kambi, one of the top B2B sports betting platforms in the world. Bally’s also entered into an agreement with White Hat Gaming for its player account management platform.

Per a press release, Bally’s said it plans to roll out its new Kambi-powered platform “in at least seven U.S. states and at four retail gaming locations by the end of this year.”

The deal also allows Bally’s to “exercise the option and pay an agreed sum, the two parties would enter into a separate long-term outsourcing agreement in relation to Kambi’s range of modularised services.”

Robeson Reeves, Chief Executive Officer of Bally’s Corporation, said: 

“We are very excited to have entered into long-term agreements with both Kambi and White Hat, two of the world’s most established and trusted gaming technology companies. 

“Kambi provides an award-winning sportsbook that delivers unrivalled sports betting entertainment. By incorporating that with White Hat’s PAM platform solution, as well as our geographic reach, customer base, and marketing prowess, Bally’s will be optimally positioned to achieve significant scale and capture substantial market share in the global gaming market. This, in turn, will support our vision of becoming the premier, full-service, vertically integrated casinos and resorts, online sports betting, and iGaming company.”


New Hampshire Online Casino Bill Falls Short

May 1, 2023 | Steve Ruddock

New Hampshire's online casino legalization efforts have come to an end. After squeaking through the Senate, a bill that would have brought legal online casino gambling to the Granite State failed to pass the House Ways & Means Committee. 

At the same time, new online casino efforts have emerged in neighboring Maine and nearby Rhode Island, and sports betting is a favorite to pass in neighboring Vermont. This regional expansion bodes well for New Hampshire resurrecting the online casino bill in 2024.  


Rhode Island Jumps Into the Online Casino Conversation

May 1, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Rhode Island lawmakers have introduced bills to legalize online casino gambling in the state. the legislation has several references to poker, including rake and interstate agreements. 

HB 6348 and SB 948 both seek to legalize online gambling through the state's two licensed casinos (both operated by Bally's) that operate through a contract with the state lottery. 

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi released a joint statement on the legislation: 

“This legislation is a first step in the public review process around potential iGaming in Rhode Island. Our state casinos provide an important source of revenue to fund vital programs and investments that benefit all Rhode Islanders. The companies that manage casino operations on behalf of the state have made significant investments to ensure they are well-positioned to thrive in the years ahead, much of which was required under [previous] legislation. "It is imperative that we continue to explore all avenues to protect and bolster our competitive position, including the potential for iGaming."

Rhode Island's legislative session ends on June 30. 


Tennessee Names Illegal Sports Betting Sites

April 26, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

In Tennessee, authorities have publicly listed some illegal sports wagering sites that could land bettors in trouble.

On its website, the Tennessee Sports Wagering Advisory Council says, “Offshore, illegal sportsbooks operate under many different names: Jazz, Sportsbetting.ag, XBet, MyBookie, Bovada, BetUS, BetOnline, Everygame, BetNow and GT Bets.”

The list includes a warning that the use of illegal sports betting sites is a crime. Also, if bettors use an illegal site and can’t get their money back, the state won’t be able to assist. 

“If you bet with an offshore, unlicensed sports betting site and are not able to withdraw your funds, no regulator can help you recover your money,” the website warns.

Tennessee is a mobile-only state with no brick-and-mortar casinos. However, sports betting is legal on 12 mobile apps, including major national brands like BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel. The national sites offer legal protection and data privacy and also provide tax revenue for state programs, the website notes. 

“These licensed sportsbooks pay taxes to the state of Tennessee that support educational scholarship programs, local infrastructure projects, and responsible gaming initiatives,” the SWAC website notes.


Vermont Sports Betting Bill Passes Key Committee 

April 26, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Vermont is the lone sports betting holdout in the northeast, but that could soon change. 

The Senate Finance Committee voted in favor of a sports betting bill that had already passed the House. The bill will now move to the full Senate for a vote. If passed, the measure will return to the House for concurrence, as the Finance Committee amended the bill by doubling the cost from $275,000 to $550,000 for a three-year license. 

The Vermont legislature is in session until mid-May. 


Maine Lawmakers Propose Online Casino Bill  

April 26, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Maine legalized sports betting in 2022, and now the state is eyeing further online gambling expansion. As it prepares for a special session, a group of lawmakers has introduced a bill that would legalize online casino gambling. 

Per the summary:

“This bill authorizes each federally recognized Indian nation, tribe or band in this State to operate Internet gaming pursuant to a license from the Gambling Control Unit within the Department of Public Safety. Only a federally recognized Indian nation, tribe or band in this State is eligible to obtain a license and operate Internet gaming. The licensing structure follows the law governing sports wagering. The law governing sports wagering is also amended to remove mobile sports betting, which the bill regulates as Internet gaming.”

Like its sports betting law, online casino gambling would be legalized via the state’s tribes and overseen by the Maine Gambling Control Unit. A four-year license costs $200,000, with a supplier license costing an additional $40,000. The industry would be taxed at 10%, with 1% earmarked for the Gambling Addiction Prevention & Treatment fund, which is less than the 2% earmarked for the Opioid Use Disorder Prevention and Treatment Fund. 

Passage seems unlikely, as Maine is still in the process of setting up its sports betting industry. Regulations have been slow, and the state has yet to receive a single online sports betting license application despite imploring potential operators to file as soon as possible. 

However, the introduction of an online casino bill (and a similar bill still alive in neighboring New Hampshire) is a positive sign for future online casino expansion in the region. 


First Nebraska Sportsbook Plans Late-May Opening  

April 25, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

The Warhorse Casino in Lincoln, Nebraska, could be the state’s first legal sportsbook. “We’re going to be starting sports wagering probably by the end of May,” said Lynne McNally, the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association vice president. 

The Warhorse Casino in Omaha has run into construction delays, but there is the possibility of a sportsbook opening on the site while the casino construction is completed. “We’re looking what we can do in Omaha. Our challenge is having an active construction zone while we offer sports betting. But we are looking at options right now,” McNally said.

Nebraska legalized sports betting via a voter referendum in November 2020. The measure passed by a 65-35 margin, demonstrating support for sports betting. Despite the mandate, it has been a slow slog, to say the least, with a two-and-a-half-year gap between the referendum and the state taking its first sports bet – assuming the Warhorse Lincoln sportsbook is ready to go next month. 


Missouri Sports Betting Hopes On The Ropes  

April 24, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

With three weeks left in the official legislative session, sports betting is on the outside looking in. 

When asked about a late breakthrough, House Speaker Dean Plocher said, “it seems the sun is setting” on legalizing sports betting in 2023. A compromise with pro-VLT senators hasn’t been reached, and with little time left to act, sports betting could be scuttled yet again. 

A bloc of Senators has made it clear that sports betting legislation will not pass unless legislation legalizing and regulating video lottery terminals (or VLTs) is included or passed on a parallel track. 

According to Plocher, the Missouri legislature has bigger fish to fry, with issues ranging from school choice to making it harder to amend the state constitution on the legislative wish list.  All these issues have passed the House and are active in the Senate. That means the House will have to decide where to spend its political capital, and it looks like sports betting is further down the priority list.  

Tennessee Sports Betting Prepares For Shift To Handle Tax  

April 24, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Tennessee was the first (and only) U.S. state to impose a minimum hold percentage on its operators, and now the Volunteer State can claim another sports betting first. Last week, the Tennessee legislature passed a bill to shift the tax model from revenue to handle-based. 

The change was due to Tennessee sportsbooks not meeting the state’s 10% minimum hold requirement, with the state taxing revenue at 20%. 

Under the new model (which is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee), the state would tax its sports betting operators on handle, at 1.85%. The change will have a minimal impact on the actual tax revenue collected by Tennessee. 

What it will do is remove an ineffectual policy (nine of the state’s 11 sportsbooks have been fined for not meeting the 10% hold requirement) that sportsbooks oppose, and the state hasn’t been able to enforce appropriately, as the fine is little more than a slap on the wrist. 


Massachusetts Puts Up Huge Numbers In First Month Of Mobile Sports Betting  

April 19, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

The March numbers are in, and the freshly launched Massachusetts online sports betting market put up jaw-dropping numbers.

In 21 days, the state tallied $560 million in bets, making it the #3 state in terms of March betting handle. Adjusted for a full month, the handle number would jump to nearly $800 million.

There is a huge caveat to the numbers, as operators were giving away the store in Massachusetts, inflating the handle numbers. 

As Chris Krafcik of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming pointed out on Twitter, the adjusted handle per resident in Massachusetts top recently launched states. Still, its adjusted revenue per resident numbers are well below Ohio and Maryland. 

That discrepancy is, at least partly due to marketing and bonus bets given away in the state. 


Leagues and Media Outlets Distance Themselves From Sports Betting Ads 

April 19, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Sports betting advertising is fast becoming a very controversial topic. In addition to responsible gambling groups and advocates, the industry faces fire from a newly formed group that should be marketing allies, sports leagues, and media outlets, dubbed the Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising.

Members include the NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball, WNBA, NASCAR, MLS, and Media outlets NBCUniversal and Fox.

“As the legalization of sports betting spreads nationwide, we feel it is critical to establish guardrails around how sports betting should be advertised to consumers across the United States,” the group said in a statement.

It also listed six core principles:

  1. Sports betting should be marketed only to adults of legal betting age.
  2. Sports betting advertising should not promote irresponsible or excessive gambling or degrade the consumer experience.
  3. Sports betting advertisements should not be misleading.
  4. Sports betting advertisements should be in good taste.
  5. Publishers should have appropriate internal reviews of sports betting advertising.
  6. Publishers should review consumer complaints pertaining to sports betting advertising.

Most of the principles are in step with the AGA’s responsible gambling code, as Casey Clark, AGA Senior Vice President, said in a statement:  

“We applaud the responsible advertising commitments announced today by many of America’s biggest players in sports entertainment. Closely mirroring commitments already made by AGA members through our recently updated Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering, these efforts reflect a shared prioritization of responsible gaming and consumer protection. Building a sustainable legal wagering market requires alignment from the entire sports betting ecosystem, and today’s announcement is another important step.”

 


Kindred Eyes May New Jersey iCasino Launch 

April 18, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Kindred has received final approval from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement for its Unibet online casino platform. In a press release, the company outlined its plans to bring the platform to market in May. 

"I am very pleased that we are now able to launch our own Kindred platform in New Jersey, and I am immensely proud of everybody at Kindred who has made this possible. Introducing the Kindred platform to our customers in New Jersey will provide the entertainment and experience enjoyed by our customers in Europe. We are now finally able to show off our true Unibet product. I also want to thank the NJDGE for a professional collaboration during the approval process", says Henrik Tjärnström, CEO of Kindred Group.

The New Jersey launch will be a first step for Unibet, which recalibrated its U.S. strategy last year to focus on states with sports betting and online casinos. It plans to launch in nearby Pennsylvania in Q2 2023. 


Michigan Gaming Control Board Launches A New Podcast

April 17, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

It seems everyone is getting into podcasting. Look no further than the recently launched Double Down Michigan, a podcast hosted by Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Henry Williams, covering anything and everything to do with Michigan online gambling.

“Through our podcast, Michigan citizens will learn more about the gaming industry and its impacts on the state and on its patrons,” said Williams. “If you enjoy gaming or are curious about how the industry works, our podcasts will provide insights from a regulator’s unique perspective. We also will help our listeners by sharing information on responsible gaming and problem gambling.”

Thus far, two episodes have been released:

  • Episode 1 features Sandra Johnson, the responsible gaming manager for the Michigan Gaming Control Board. The 17-minute chat covers much ground and explains many of the basic responsible gambling components of the MGCB.
  • Episode 2 is a longer conversation (nearly an hour) with Michael Burke, the president of the Michigan Association on Problem Gambling. Burke delves into his own battles with gambling addiction.

Massachusetts Gov. Supports Online Lottery

April 17, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Massachusetts is fresh off a successful mobile sports betting launch and wants to keep the momentum going. The House of Representatives proposed budget includes money from online lottery sales, and Gov. Maura Healey said she supports the plan during an interview with Boston Public Radio. 

When asked about online lottery, “I think it’s important for us to catch up there and meet people where they are,” the new Massachusetts Governor told host Jim Braude.

The Treasury Department oversees the lottery in Massachusetts, and Deborah Goldberg, State Treasurer, is a longtime advocate for online lottery sales. Goldberg sees online as the next frontier that will help the Massachusetts Lottery maintain its best-in-the-nation ranking when it comes to lottery spend per capita. 

You can read our full reporting for a deeper dive into the politics of online lottery in Massachusetts. 


Kentucky Targets Pre-NFL Sports Betting Launch

April 13, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

As reported by BetKentucky.com, Kentucky politicians are hopeful the state could have retail sports betting locations up and running by the start of the NFL season. 

Rep. Damon Thayer told BetKentucky.com:

"I have actually spoken with Jonathan Rabinowitz, who's the chairman of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. And we spoke about the desire on the part of the public to have something ready to go by football season. And, of course, the sports betting doesn't officially become legal until June 29. And then there's a six-month period in the bill that allows the racing commission time to get the regulations up and going. That doesn't mean I have to take the whole six months."

But even Thayer cautioned that a pre-NFL launch for retail betting was far from guaranteed and doesn’t expect mobile betting until late-2023 or early 2024. 

"That doesn't mean it's going to happen. That's a pretty aggressive launch. But he thinks that there's a chance that the racetracks could have their locations running by this fall. But that the online options might take a little bit longer."


Vermont Primed To Become The Next State To Legalize Sports Betting 

April 13, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

A favorable sports betting study has Vermont poised to become the next legal sports betting state. Per reporting by Matthew Kredell, a few minor amendments in the Senate, followed by concurrence in the House, could see the Green Mountain State pass a sports betting bill by Mid-May.

Because the state lacks land-based casinos and gambling venues, the Vermont sports betting market will be mobile-only, with perhaps a handful of operators at most, considering the state’s sparse population. 

Should Vermont pass a bill, it would be a clean sweep for New England states with not just sports betting, but mobile sports betting. 

  • Rhode Island
  • Connecticut
  • New Hampshire
  • Massachusetts
  • Maine (legal, but not yet launched)

Sports Betting Won’t Be On The Ballot In North Dakota 

April 11, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

The North Dakota Senate overwhelmingly rejected a measure that would have placed the legalization of sports betting on the 2024 ballot. The measure, CR 3002, squeaked by in the House of Representatives with a 49-44 vote in January.

After its passage in the House, sports betting has been an unwelcome guest in the Senate.  A committee rejected the measure, and the full Senate voted against it on Monday in a 16-30 vote.

CR 3002 was “A concurrent resolution to amend and reenact section 25 of article XI of the Constitution of North Dakota, relating to authorizing sports betting.”

The Senate also rejected a bill, SB 2358, that would have created a sports betting task force in February. That vote wasn’t close either, with the bill failing by a 12-34 margin.  

SB 2358 is “A bill for an Act to create and enact a new section to chapter 53-06 of the North Dakota Century Code, relating to the creation of a sports betting task force; to provide for a legislative management report; and to provide an expiration date.”


Ohio To Allow Sports Betting Gift Cards

April 11, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

The Ohio Casino Control Commission has approved Ohio sports betting gift cards to fund a bettor’s account. These gift cards will function like any brand-specific gift card you find at a gift card kiosk, with the notable caveat that you must be 21 to purchase or use these cards. 

Per Cleveland.com, The OCCC approved gift cards at the request of operators. 

The OCCC added a couple of other safeguards, as each gift card must include responsible gambling messaging and efforts made to avoid advertising to anyone under 21 or near college campuses. The OCCC also must approve the gift cards before they are deployed.

Similar cards are available in other sports betting states. 

Why are gift cards needed? The answer is simple; they are a stand-in for cash in the virtual world. Cash-reliant customers have few options to deposit money into a sports betting account. 

There are two legitimate reasons to use cash:

  • Customers who are wary of divulging credit card numbers or checking accounts online.
  • Customers who don’t have a credit card or checking account.

Arkansas Lawmakers Conclude Session Without Expanding Racing Commission

April 10, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

The Arkansas Legislature wrapped up a three-month session on Friday without approving bills to enlarge the state Racing Commission.

Last week, the Senate voted 20-5 to kill Senate Bill 539, which would have added four consumers to the seven-member panel. The commission regulates all gaming in Arkansas, including horse racing, casino gambling and sports betting. 

A House bill that also would have expended the commission by four members was bottled up in the House Rules Committee.

Opponents said the bills were an effort to stack the commission with members willing to overturn the state’s 51% profit-sharing rule. That rule requires national online bookmakers to share 51% of profits if partnering with an in-state casino on a mobile sports-betting app. These bookmakers, which typically share 5-10% of profits, are not operating in Arkansas, the only state with a 51% rule.

Supporters said the bills would have added members with no ties to casinos, thus balancing a panel seen by some as too cozy with the state’s gaming industry.

Arkansas legislators are slated to return to Little Rock on May 1 to consider overriding any of the governor’s vetoes and for a formal adjournment. 


Rhode Island Renews Sports Betting Contract With IGT

April 10, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

The Rhode Island Lottery has renewed its sports betting contract with IGT for another three years. 

IGT has been the sole provider of online sports betting in Rhode Island since its inception in 2019. Under the original deal, IGT received 32% of revenue, with Bally's (Rhode Island's sole casino operator) getting a 17% cut and the state receiving the remaining 51%. The details of the new deal are not known at this time.

Rhode Island explored other options but, in the end, settled on the company it already knew. 

"As one of the first U.S. lotteries to launch sports betting, Rhode Island Lottery is very pleased with the successful program we have built over the last five years, backed by IGT's world-class technology and William Hill's operator experience," said Mark Furcolo, Rhode Island Lottery Director said in a press release. "IGT recently invested significant resources to enhance our sports betting platform and mobile app. These upgrades will enable us to maximize revenue and offer a solution that remains competitive among neighboring states in this dynamic, regional sports betting market."


The U.S. Legislative Landscape - April 10, 2023

April 10, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Our weekly look at legislative efforts and launch updates in the U.S. online gambling space. 

 

State Last Update Latest News
Mississippi April 10 Mississippi passed a bill (HB 606) that would set up a sports betting task force to study the potential impacts of mobile sports betting. The bill creates an 11-member panel that must submit findings and recommendations by Dec. 15.
South Carolina Feb. 13 A bill to legalize online parimutuel betting on horse races has been introduced. Supporters are pointing to the South Carolina horse racing industry being on life support, as owners have left the state for greener pastures in other states.
Illinois April 2 A bill introduced by Illinois State Sen. Christina Castro sponsored a to legalize online casinos has run out of time in the Illinois legislature.
Ohio Feb. 13 Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has unveiled his 2024-25 budget, and it includes a very interesting sports betting tweak, as the governor wants to double the sports betting tax rate from 10% to 20%.
Oklahoma March 6 In Oklahoma, HB1027 by Rep. Ken Luttrell has passed the Appropriations Committee. The bill would allow state tribes to amend their gaming compacts to offer in-person and online sports betting. The governor has voiced support, but where the state’s major gaming tribes are is unknown.
Minnesota March 6 A bill introduced by Rep. Zach Stephenson has passed two House committees. The bill, HF 2000, would legalize retail and mobile betting via Minnesota’s tribes. A separate bill in the Senate includes the state’s two racetracks.
New York March 19 Online casinos weren’t included in Gov. Hochul’s budget, nor was it included in the Assembly or Senate budgets, all but ending New York’s online casino hopes this year.
Texas April 2 Bills have been filed to legalize mobile sports betting in the Senate and House. An informational hearing in March was a positive development. Bills have passed committee, but the Lone Star State still feels several legislative cycles away from a serious push towards mobile sports betting.
North Carolina April 2 North Carolina House passed a mobile sports betting bill. Last year the House was the sticking point, which bodes well for the state’s chances this year. HB 347 would create an online industry with up to 12 commercial operators. And for tribes to compact with the state to offer mobile betting.
New Hampshire Feb. 24 The Senate passed New Hampshire’s online casino bill on Second Reading. It still requires committee approval and passage by the full Senate a second time before it can head to the House.
Kentucky April 2 Kentucky is officially a legal sports betting state. Following the passage of HB 551 in the House and Senate, Gov. Beshear signed the bill last week. The state will have to wait until June 29 to begin the rulemaking process, potentially setting up an early 2024 launch.
Missouri April 10 Missouri continues to be a tough state to figure out. The Missouri House has passed HB 556, but the sticking point has always been the Senate. Senate discussions have gone nowhere, with VLTs remaining an insurmountable hurdle, at least for the time being.
Iowa March 19 A new bill in Iowa would legalize online casino gambling. The bill’s sponsor has said the goal isn’t passage, but to educate fellow lawmakers and set the table for a serious effort in 2024.
Tennessee March 6 Tennessee regulators have delayed punishments for sports betting operators that have violated the state’s 10% hold requirement. The delay is to give the legislature an opportunity to modify the rule.
Arkansas April 2 The Arkansas Legislature has adjourned without approving a bill to add members to the state Racing Commission or overturn the state rule requiring national online bookmakers to share 51% of profits if partnering with an in-state casino.
Maine Feb. 13 Maine continues to inch towards a sports betting launch, but with regulators overwhelmed by the process, that launch is likely going to be well into 2024.
Georgia April 10 Georgia sports betting has fallen by the wayside.
Indiana Feb. 24 Indiana’s efforts to legalize online casinos and online poker are over because of VLTs and cannibalization concerns.
Massachusetts March 19 Mobile sports is live in Massachusetts, with six operators launching on March 10.

Missouri Senate Hits A Sports Betting Impasse

April 6, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

The Missouri Senate discussed sports betting for roughly eight hours on Wednesday. The result was an amended-for-the-worse bill and a legislative body no closer to a solution than it was at the start of the day.

At issue are VLTs. A small bloc of senators is intent on legalizing VLT machines and has decided that the best path is to hold up any expansion of gambling unless VLTs are also on the agenda. 

For a complete breakdown of yesterday's marathon debate, you can read our full-length feature here

Maine Sports Betting Launch Timeline Is Full Of Uncertainty

April 5, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

After legalizing sports betting in the Spring of 2022 (the law went into effect in August), Maine is inching its way toward a sports betting launch. However, that launch could slip into 2024, as operators have yet to apply for a sports betting license. 

“The applications are out there, and I’d really like to see people that are going to do business in Maine start to fill out and reach out to us and communicate with us, and let’s get these applications in now rather than later,” Milton Champion, executive director of the Maine Gambling Control Unit said. “All you’re going to do is prolong those start dates.”

Champion feels confident the timeline has improved from a Q1 2024 launch to a Q4 2023-early Q1 2024 launch. However, there are still several steps in the process, including the rewriting of rules, a second public comment period, and the finalizing of rules. That could take six months. 

the lack of applications likely has much to do with the state's proposed advertising restrictions. Operators were already concerned about the market considering the state's small population. If they're handcuffed by some of the strictest marketing restrictions in the country, the market may be one of the few they avoid. 


Texas Gambling Bills Lack Senate Support: Lieutenant Governor 

April 4, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

A Texas House committee has approved legislation that could legalize sports betting and commercial casino gambling, but the measures lack support in the Senate, according to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Patrick, a Republican who serves as Senate president, told the Dallas Morning News there aren’t enough GOP votes in the upper chamber to approve gambling bills. The 31-member Senate includes 19 Republicans.

“We don’t have the votes for casinos,” Patrick said. “There are not enough votes for sports betting, and I don’t think that’s going to change.”

This is consistent with what major sports bettor and Houston furniture salesman Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale told Gambling.com in October. McIngvale said Texas would have not legalize sports betting or casinos during his lifetime, in part because of opposition from religious groups.

Like all bills, the three recently approved in the House State Affairs Committee require passage by the full House and Senate before going to the governor for his consideration. Those bills are: HJR102, HB1942 and HB2843.

Sports betting is legal and live in 33 states and Washington, D.C., but not in the three most-populated states: California, Texas and Florida.


Arkansas Senate Rejects Bill To Expand Racing Commission

April 3, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

The Arkansas Senate on Monday voted overwhelmingly against a bill to add members to the Arkansas Racing Commission.

Senate Bill 539 by Sen. Joshua Bryant, R-Rogers, would have added four "consumers" to the commission, which oversees all gaming matters in Arkansas, including horse racing, casino gambling and sports betting. 

The Senate voted 20-5 against the bill, with four not voting and six designated as "present."

Supporters have said the commission is too cozy with the horse racing and casino industries and needs the voices of consumers with no ties to the state's three casinos or casino vendors. Six of the seven current members are horse owners, Bryant said on the Senate floor Monday before the vote was taken.

Opponents said the bill was an effort overturn the state rule requiring national online bookmakers, including DraftKings and FanDuel, to share 51% of profits if partnering with one of the three Arkansas casinos. These national operators typically share 5-10%. Arkansas is the only state with a 51% profit-sharing rule.

The Arkansas casinos are in West Memphis, Hot Springs and Pine Bluff. The only mobile sports betting apps available in Arkansas are affiliated with these three casinos. National online bookmakers don't operate mobile sports betting apps in Arkansas.

During discussion Monday on the Senate floor, Sen. Terry Rice, R-Waldron, objected that the bill was approved in committee last week at about 10 p.m. with no public testimony. 

Bryant said he "had no idea" when introducing the bill that it would be controversial. He noted the Racing Commission's duties have expanded in recent years to include casino gambling and sports betting, adding that the panel could benefit from having consumer advocates.

In the other chamber, House Bill 1723, which also would add four members to the commission, was scheduled to be heard in the House Rules Committee on Monday but did not come up for consideration. The sponsor, Rep. Lee Johnson, R-Greenwood, previously told Gambling.com he thought the bill would be "tabled," meaning it would not come up for a vote. 

The legislative session could wrap up by Friday but might extend until April 11, said Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, the Senate president pro tempore.

 


North Dakota Lawmakers Could Place Sports Betting On The 2024 Ballot

April 3, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

A bill that would let North Dakotans if they want legal sports betting could soon be decided. The bill, HCR 3002, passed the House back in January in a close vote, 49-44. But the Senate Judiciary Committee voted not to recommend the bill. That said, the legislation could still receive a vote in the Senate as it is on the Senate Calendar. 

The North Dakota legislature is in session until April 28. 

the bill doesn't legalize sports betting, nor does it offer anything along the lines of tax rates, licensing fees, or even the structure of the industry. All HCR 3002 does is put the question in front of the voters. 

If approved by voters, lawmakers would hash out the details. 

Arkansas Senate Committee Approves Bill To Expand Racing Commission

March 30, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

The Arkansas Senate Insurance and Commerce Committee on Thursday night approved a bill to add four members to the state Racing Commission.

Under Senate Bill 539, by Sen. Joshua Bryant, R-Rogers, the current seven-member commission would expand to 11 members. The commission oversees all gaming in Arkansas, including horse racing, casino gambling and sports betting. 

The bill was approved in committee on a voice vote at 9:58 p.m.

In the other legislative chamber, House Bill 1723 to expand the commission by four members is stalled in the Rules Committee. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Lee Johnson, R-Greenwood, told Gambling.com he believes the bill will be "tabled" in the House, meaning it would not receive a vote. However, the House bill is scheduled to be heard Monday in the Rules Committee.

Like all bills, any legislation to expand the Racing Commission requires approval by the full Senate and House before going to the governor for consideration.

The House and Senate versions would require the four new members to have no ties to casinos or casino vendors. The bills are viewed as an effort by national online bookmakers such as DraftKings and FanDuel to add consumer members who might not always align with Arkansas' three casinos on issues such as mobile sports betting.


Arkansas Racing Commission Bills Stall In Committee

March 30, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

The clock is ticking on an effort this year to add four members to the Arkansas Racing Commission.

Two legislative bills — one in the House and another in the Senate — have been scheduled this week for committee hearings but have not been brought up for a vote. The legislative session is expected to end early next month in Little Rock.

On Thursday, Senate Bill 539, by Sen. Joshua Bryant, R-Rogers, was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Insurance and Commerce Committee but had not been taken under consideration by Thursday night.  

The bill would expand the Racing Commission from seven to 11 members. The commission regulates all gaming in Arkansas, including horse racing, casino gambling and sports betting.

For the past two days, a House version of the bill, HB1723 by Rep. Lee Johnson, R-Greenwood, has been on the House Rules Committee calendar but has not been voted upon. Earlier this week, Johnson told Gambling.com he thought the bill would be “tabled.” That means the bill would not come up for a vote. However, it has been placed on the House Rules calendar for Monday. 

Both bills would add four commission members with no ties to Arkansas casinos or casino vendors. The bills are viewed as an effort by national online bookmakers such as DraftKings and FanDuel to add commissioners who won’t rubber stamp requests from Arkansas’ three casinos.

The commission previously approved a rule change requiring national bookmakers to share 51% of profits with Arkansas casinos if partnering on a mobile sports betting app. These national bookmakers typically share 5-10%. The only mobile apps operating in Arkansas are affiliated with the three casinos.


Kentucky Sports Betting Bill Down To The Wire

March 30, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

It will be a photo finish in Kentucky as the Senate considers a bill that would legalize sports betting in the state on the final (official) day of the legislative calendar. 

Per sources, the vote will be incredibly close. the bill is rumored to be one vote shy of its 23-vote threshold, with three undecided lawmakers. 

“I would tell you I feel like we have the votes. There are a couple who have not completely committed to the effort, but I think they’re there. they’re just being a little coy. If I get one of those two, I think we’re good,” the bill's sponsor, Rep. Michael Meredith, told local press.

If passed, Meredith believes mobile betting will be live in the Bluegrass State in late-2023 or early 2024. 


North Carolina House Passes Sports Betting Bill

March 30, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

The North Carolina House of representatives easily (as easily as these things can be) passed a sports betting bill on Wednesday. That sets the stage for mobile sports betting in the Tarheel State should the Senate pass the legislation (HB 347). 

The Senate passed similar legislation last year, but that bill ultimately fell short in the House. This time around, the House passed the bill with plenty of votes to spare, with a final vote tally of 64-45. 

Barring a significant amendment in the Senate, mobile sports betting is close to reality in North Carolina.

HB 347 would allow up to 12 mobile sports betting licensees in the state. It would also allow tribes to renegotiate their compacts to include mobile betting. 


Bill To Expand Arkansas Racing Commission 'Tabled' In House, Scheduled For Senate Hearing

March 29, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

A bill that would add four members to the Arkansas Racing Commission has been tabled in the House this legislative session, the sponsor told Gambling.com on Wednesday. A Senate version is scheduled to be heard Thursday.

Asked in a cellphone text message if House Bill 1723 would be tabled this year, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Lee Johnson, R-Greenwood, replied, “I think it’ll be tabled.”

If a bill is “tabled,” it won’t be brought up for a vote.

HB1723, which would expand the commission from seven to 11 members, was scheduled to be heard Wednesday in the House Rules Committee but was not taken into consideration. It has not been rescheduled for a House committee hearing.

However, the Senate version of the bill, SB539, by Sen. Joshua Bryan, R-Rogers, is scheduled to be heard Thursday in the Senate Insurance and Commerce Committee. If it passes in that committee and on the Senate floor, it still would require approval in the House.

The Racing Commission oversees all gaming matters in the Arkansas, including horse racing, casino gambling and sports betting.

Critics contend the Racing Commission is a rubber stamp for the state’s three casinos. The bill would add four members with no affiliation to Arkansas casinos or casino vendors.

Others assert there is no need to alter a commission that effectively regulates an industry providing thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue for the state.

Prior to the launch of mobile sports betting last year in Arkansas, the commission approved a rule change requiring national online bookmakers such as FanDuel and DraftKings to share 51% of profits if partnering with an in-state casino on a mobile app. These national bookmakers typically share 5-10%. HB1723 is viewed as a vehicle ultimately to give national bookmakers access to the Arkansas sports betting market.

Currently, the only sports betting apps available in Arkansas are affiliated with the state’s three casinos. 


Skill Game Companies File Suit In Kentucky

March 28, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

A recently passed law prohibiting so-called skill games in Kentucky is being challenged in court. The gaming companies that manufacture and operate the slot-like games have filed a lawsuit that calls the ban unconstitutional. 

"Legislation banning skill games is unconstitutional and we are prepared to defend the legality of our games in court," Michael Barley, Chief Public Affairs Officer for Pace-O-Matic, one of the plaintiffs, said in a statement. "Our priority is, and always has been, protecting the rights of Kentucky small businesses and fraternal organizations who rely on legal games of skill for income."

The games use a loophole in state laws by adding a skill element that plays a role in the outcome. 

the law was applauded by the American Gaming Association. The AGA has been imploring state and federal agencies to crack down on these unregulated machines, which they consider illegal gambling. 

In a statement the AGA said:

"Not only do these machines harm communities, but they also pose an existential threat to our industry. Last year, Americans wagered $511 billion with unregulated machines and illegal sportsbooks and online casinos—costing communities more than $13 billion in tax revenue."


Rush Street Is Leaving The Connecticut Sports Betting Market

March 27, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Rush Street Interactive is ending its time as the Connecticut Lottery's sports betting partner. 

In a press release, RSI announced it would be winding down its Connecticut operations. 

“We thank the CLC for their partnership over the last two years. We are proud of what we have accomplished together in Connecticut and have enjoyed the relationships that we have built with the players," Richard Schwartz, CEO of RSI, said. "Consistent with our long-term strategic goals, after much deliberation and discussions with the CLC, we believe it is in the best interest of RSI and our stockholders to wind down this partnership.”

RSI's PlaySugarhouse sportsbook will remain until the Lottery finds a new partner. That could be a difficult lift. The Lottery can only offer sports betting, while the two tribal operators, partnered with FanDuel and DraftKings, can offer sports betting and online casino. 

That advantage is likely why RSI is leaving, and other companies like BetMGM or Penn will likely stay out of Connecticut. A better candidate is a third-party supplier like Kambi.


Arkansas Bill Would Expand Gaming Oversight Panel

March 27, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

A bill was introduced at the Arkansas Legislature on Monday to expand the number of members on the state Racing Commission.

House Bill 1723 by Rep. Lee Johnson, R-Greenwood, would expand the panel from seven to 11 members. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Joshua Bryant, R-Rogers.

The four new commission members must be consumers who are not affiliated "in any way" with an Arkansas casino licensee or casino vendor, the bill states.

The Racing Commission oversees all gaming matters in Arkansas, including horse racing, casino gambling and sports betting. Critics contend the current commission is too closely tied to the state’s three legal casinos and serves as a rubber stamp for the casinos.

The commission previously voted to approve a rule change, sought by Arkansas casinos, to require national online bookmakers such as FanDuel and DraftKings to share 51% of profits if partnering with an in-state casino on a mobile sports-betting app. The national operators typically share 5-10% with local casinos. Currently, the only mobile sports-betting apps operating in Arkansas are affiliated with the three in-state casinos.

Carlton Saffa, chief market officer at Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff, told Gambling.com on Monday that adding members to the Racing Commission “is a solution in search of a problem.” 

“Why are we growing government?” he said. “Or, more bluntly, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

Saffa said the current commission is “the gold standard for industry-specific regulation in our state.”

“Their right-approach to overseeing this heavily regulated industry has resulted in thousands of jobs, millions in taxes paid monthly, and over a billion dollar invested in our state," Saffa said.


Can The Missouri Senate Answer Lingering Sports Betting Questions?

March 27, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

The Missouri House has passed a sports betting bill, but the Senate has always been seen as the sticking point. The stickiest sticking point is Sen. Denny Hoskins. 

Hoskins is a VLT supporter and has derailed sports betting in previous years over the lack of action on VLTs. 

With a debate in the Senate expected as early as this week, we could soon know if Hoskins has the political clout to stop sports betting in its tracks yet again. 

Last year Hoskins effectively filibustered a sports betting bill that was believed to have majority support by threatening 153 amendments, one for every million dollars of revenue the state was losing by not legalizing VLTs (by Hoskins math).

A big difference in 2023 is neighboring Kansas's sports betting industry, which was legalized and launched last year. To highlight the point, GeoComply recently released data showing the number of attempts to access legal sportsbooks in Kansas from Missouri. 

According to GeoComply, it blocked 136,000 attempts from Missouri on the day of the AFC Championship Game. It has blocked 8.7 million Missourians since Kansas launched in September. 


A Big Week For North Carolina Sports Betting

March 27, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

This is a pivotal week for mobile betting in North Carolina. Bill HB 347 is on the calendar in the House Rules Committee and the House Republican Caucus. 

Approval by both would send the bill to the House Floor on Wednesday.

North Carolina fell just short of legalizing sports betting in 2022. With a number of new lawmakers following the November elections, the path forward in 2023 looks far smoother. 

That said, operators are taking no chances, with at least one sending out push alerts to North Carolina residents urging them to contact their state lawmakers and express support for mobile betting. 


Missouri Gaming Association Urges Senate To Pass Sports Betting Bill

March 23, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

The Missouri Gaming Association (MGA) issued a statement on Wednesday asking state senators to avoid the "issues" that derailed sports betting legislation in previous years. The unnamed issue is known to all: VLTs.

"On behalf of the Missouri casino industry, we thank Rep. Dan Houx and Phil Christofanelli, sponsors of HCS HB 556 and 581, and the House Representatives for passing the sports betting bill. As the Senate takes up the bill, we urge Senators to keep issues unrelated to sports betting from being added to the bill. These unrelated issues have brought sports betting legislation down in the past and would likely do so again. Our citizens deserve and are ready to join our nation's capitol and the 36 states that have passed sports betting and kept tax dollars in their state."


UConn Departs ‘Awful’ Las Vegas Hotel For ‘High-Level’ Resort

March 23, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

Finding their Las Vegas hotel rooms in “awful condition,” the UConn men’s basketball team moved this week to a “high-level hotel,” according to David Borges, a reporter for CT Insider.

The Huskies, set to play the Arkansas Razorbacks Thursday in a Sweet 16 matchup, arrived at the pyramid-shaped Luxor on the Las Vegas Strip to find “dirt, vomit … and worse,” Borges wrote.

The reporter did not identify the resort in a story posted online but later named the Luxor in a tweet. He did not give the name of the team’s current hotel.

This week, standard rooms at the Luxor were $74 on Thursday. Rooms at “high-level” hotels on the Strip can cost at least $300 a night — and much more.

A quick check of hotel room rates in Storrs, Connecticut, where UConn is located, indicates many daily rates are in the $60-$75 range, with “high-level” hotel rooms running from $100-$199 a night.

The Luxor, which opened in 1993, is one of the megaresorts constructed during a casino building boom on the Strip, beginning with the Mirage in 1989. This construction boom led to the implosion of several older hotel-casinos, many once controlled by the Mob, including the Desert Inn, Sands, Stardust and Dunes.

Like most major hotel-casinos on the Strip, the Luxor is outside Las Vegas city limits. The Luxor is at the southwest end of the Strip near Harry Reid International Airport and Allegiant Stadium.


Texas Holds Informational Sports Betting Hearing 

March 23, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

The Texas House of Representatives State Affairs Committee held a lengthy sports betting hearing on Wednesday. The hearing was informational, with no vote taken.

The committee listened to testimony from numerous proponents and opponents of sports betting as the legislature considers two sports betting bills:

  • HB 1942/HJR 102 - A standalone sports betting bill that would legalize mobile betting in the state.
  • HB 2848/HJR 155 - A bill that would legalize resort casinos and sports betting in Texas.

Both measures would require a constitutional amendment, which means a 2/3 majority in both chambers of the Texas legislature, followed by a voter referendum.

Speaking in favor of sports betting were professional sports teams and leagues as well as industry groups. Opposing the bills were religious organizations and anti-gambling groups. 

One interesting opponent was the Kickapoo Tribe, who were left out of the mobile betting bill. 

Sports betting faces an uphill climb in Texas. The state is not welcoming to gambling, and the 2/3 majority requirements will be difficult to achieve. Another factor that could hinder progress is the Lone Star State's neighbors (Louisiana and Oklahoma), which are currently benefitting from Texas's gambling desert. 


Vermont Sports Betting Bill Moves To House Floor 

March 23, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Vermont's sports betting bill (H 127) has made it to the House floor and is on the calendar for March 23. This is the furthest a sports betting bill has made it in the Green Mountain State, but time is running out, as the legislative session ends in mid-May.

Vermont is the lone sports betting holdout in the Northeast, as every other state has not only legalized sports betting, but has legalized mobile betting:

  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Connecticut
  • Rhode Island
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey
  • Delaware (expected to launch mobile betting in the near future)
  • Maryland

The momentum stems from a favorable commission report that laid out several sports betting models Vermont could adopt. Of note, Vermont is nearly devoid of gambling, with the only option the state lottery.


Sports Betting Banned In Most SEC States

March 22, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

A block of Southeastern Conference states from Texas to Florida makes up the largest sports-betting desert in the U.S.

Of the 11 states with universities in the SEC, sports betting is legal and live in only four — Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi.

That leaves seven SEC states without legal sports wagering. The number would be eight if the University of Oklahoma were in the SEC this year. The Sooners are set to join the conference next year.

Not including Oklahoma, the  SEC states without legal sports betting are:

  • Texas
  • Missouri
  • Kentucky
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • Florida (legal, but not live)

More than 84 million people live in these seven states combined. Nationwide, the U.S. population is over 331 million.

Lawmakers in these seven states (eight, including Oklahoma) have sought, without success, to legalize sports betting. One obstacle: opposition from religious groups, according to what legislators, and Houston sports bettor Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale, have told Gambling.com.

It is unclear whether lawmakers in any of these states will finally approve sports betting this year.

No other geographic region has as many states without legal sports betting. Across the country, sports betting is legal and live in 33 states and Washington, D.C. The most populated state, California, home to more than 39 million residents, does not have legal sports betting.


Maryland Online Casino Bill Takes A Hit 

March 22, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Maryland's efforts to legalize online gambling via a voter referendum ran into a significant but not insurmountable hurdle this week. 

SB 267 failed to advance out of the Maryland Senate before "crossover day," which diminishes the possibility of the legislation receiving further action this year. 

Per the bill's synopsis:

"Authorizing the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission to issue certain licenses to certain video lottery operators to conduct or participate in certain Internet gaming operations in the State; authorizing the Governor, on recommendation of the Commission, to enter into certain multijurisdictional Internet gaming agreements with certain other governments, subject to certain limitations; and submitting the Act to a referendum of the qualified voters of the State."

The bill can still be considered but would first have to make a pit stop in the rules committee. With the state's legislative end date fast approaching, Maryland online casinos will have to take another bite at the apple in 2024. 

Maryland is fresh off its mobile sports betting launch, which it also legalized via a voter referendum. 


Maryland Bill Wants To Audit Sports Betting Touts 

March 21, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

A bill in Maryland that would audit sports betting handicappers (AKA touts) was passed by the Senate on Monday and has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. 

Per the synopsis, SB 621 would:

"Requiring the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission, by December 31, 2023, to identify and accredit certain independent evaluators to evaluate certain sports wagering content provided by certain sports wagering experts, sports wagering influencers, and content partners; requiring the Commission to establish standards of practice governing sports wagering content; requiring certain sports wagering licensees and sports wagering operators to contract with certain independent evaluators for certain purposes; etc."

The bill is something many in the sports betting industry can get behind, but how touts would be identified is a question the bill doesn't answer.


New Jersey Could Soon Have A Gambling Diversion Court 

March 21, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Ralph Caputo that would create a gambling diversion court in New Jersey made progress on Monday. The bill, A 420, was sent to the Appropriations Committee after its passage by the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee. 

If enacted, it "Establishes “Gambling Treatment Diversion Court Pilot Program” to be administered by AOC."

The only states with gambling diversion courts are Nevada and Ohio, with Nevada's court being the oldest, having launched in November 2018. 

These courts function much the same as drug diversion courts, helping people that have committed crimes due to NJ online casino addiction to avoid jail and enter into the diversion court's treatment program. 


The U.S. Legislative Landscape - March 20, 2023

March 20, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Our weekly look at legislative efforts and launch updates in the U.S. online gambling space. 

 

State Last Update Latest News
Massachusetts March 19 Mobile sports is live in Massachusetts, with six operators launching on March 10.
Mississippi March 19 The Mississippi House passed a bill that would set up a sports betting task force to study the potential impacts of mobile sports betting. If passed, the still-to-be-determined 11-member panel must submit findings and recommendations by Oct. 15. The Senate has passed an amended version. The bill has until April 3 to pass both chambers.
South Carolina Feb. 13 A bill to legalize online parimutuel betting on horse races has been introduced. Supporters are pointing to the South Carolina horse racing industry being on life support, as owners have left the state for greener pastures in other states.
Illinois Feb. 13 Illinois State Sen. Christina Castro sponsored a bill to legalize online casinos. Illinois is the fifth state to explore online casino-poker expansion in 2023.
Ohio Feb. 13 Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has unveiled his 2024-25 budget, and it includes a very interesting sports betting tweak, as the governor wants to double the sports betting tax rate from 10% to 20%.
Oklahoma March 6 In Oklahoma, HB1027 by Rep. Ken Luttrell has passed the Appropriations Committee. The bill would allow state tribes to amend their gaming compacts to offer in-person and online sports betting. The governor has voiced support, but where the state’s major gaming tribes is unknown.
Maine Feb. 13 As Maine inches towards its sports betting launch (between August 2023 and January 2024), advertising restrictions have become controversial. Will these debates slow down the launch? It remains to be seen.
Georgia March 19 Georgia sports betting is back on the table after it was added to a piece of legislation that dealt with soap box derbies (the original language was later removed from the bill). The resurrected sports betting effort would legalize sports betting via the state lottery.
Minnesota March 6 A bill introduced by Rep. Zach Stephenson has passed two House committees. The bill, HF 2000, would legalize retail and mobile betting via Minnesota’s tribes. A separate bill in the Senate includes the state’s two racetracks.
New York March 19 Online casinos weren’t included in Gov. Hochul’s budget, nor was it included in the Assembly or Senate budgets, all but ending New York’s online casino hopes this year.
Indiana Feb. 24 Indiana’s efforts to legalize online casinos and online poker are over thanks to VLTs and cannibalization concerns.
Texas March 19 Bills have been filed to legalize mobile sports betting in the Senate and House. These are in addition to previous legislation seeking to legalize in-person sports betting and allow land-based commercial casinos. A public hearing is scheduled for March 22 on HB 1942.
North Carolina March 19 North Carolina’s long-awaited mobile sports betting bill has been introduced. HB 347 would create an online industry with up to 12 commercial operators. And for tribes to compact with the state to offer mobile betting. A hearing is scheduled for March 21.
New Hampshire Feb. 24 The Senate passed New Hampshire’s online casino bill on Second Reading. It still requires committee approval and passage by the full Senate a second time before it can head to the House.
Kentucky March 19 A new sports betting bill, HB 551, has made steady progress in Kentucky. Passing through the House and clearing a first hurdle in the Senate.
Missouri March 19 A Missouri committee passed HB 556, a bill that would legalize sports betting. The committee did not pass a sports betting bill that also included VGTs, which quickly became controversial, with VGT supporters making hay. Rep. Houx believes he can overcome the opposition in 2023.
Tennessee March 6 Tennessee regulators have delayed punishments for sports betting operators that have violated the state’s 10% hold requirement. The delay is to give the legislature an opportunity to modify the rule.
Iowa March 19 A new bill in Iowa would legalize online casino gambling in the state. The bill’s sponsor has said the goal isn’t passage, but to educate fellow lawmakers and set the table for a serious effort in 2024.

Louisiana Riverboat Casinos: A Thing Of The Past?

March 16, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

Bally’s Corp. is developing a master plan to replace its Shreveport riverboat casino with a land-based resort — a trend that could see all Louisiana riverboat casinos disappear one day.

At Thursday’s Louisiana Gaming Control Board meeting, Chairman Ronnie Johns said he is looking forward to the Rhode Island-based company’s master plan to build on land in Louisiana’s northwest corner.

“That’s the future of gaming in Louisiana,” Johns said.

Currently, 15 riverboat casino licenses have been issued statewide, but since 2018, the operators have been allowed to scrap the floating casinos and build land-based resorts. Riverboat Louisiana casinos have been a fixture in Louisiana since the 1990s.

In Lake Charles, Caesars Entertainment recently opened a land-based Horseshoe hotel-casino after the company’s riverboat casino, then named the Isle of Capri, came unmoored during a hurricane and slammed into a bridge.

Plans also are underway to replace riverboat casinos with land-based resorts in Bossier City, Baton Rouge and the New Orleans area.


Sports Betting Makes A Return Appearance In the Georgia Legislature

March 16, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Several Georgia sports betting efforts fell by the wayside on "Moving Day" (when bills need to clear their house of origin), but because of legislative rules, sports betting is still alive and well.

A bill dealing with pinewood derbies, HB 237, has been wiped clean and replaced with sports betting language. the maneuver is not uncommon in legislatures that allow it.

After adding sports betting language to the pinewood derby bill, the bill was passed by the Georgia Senate Committee on Economic Development and Tourism in an 8-1 vote. the original pinewood derby language was then stricken from the bill in a separate vote - ending the possibility of betting lines on pinewood derby races. 

In summary, the Georgia sports betting effort that would put control in the hands of the lottery, thereby bypassing the need for a constitutional amendment, is back in play. 


Mobile Betting Task Force On Track In Mississippi

March 15, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

In Mississippi, a bill to create a task force to analyze online sports betting is still alive at the Legislature in Jackson. This is according to a legislative website listing “not dead” bills. The legislative session is set to end April 3.

Under House Bill 606, a 13-member task force would be required to produce a report by Dec. 15. Both chambers have approved the measure but now must agree on an amended Senate version. 

Currently, Mississippi online sports betting is still illegal. On-site mobile wagering is legal, though it only takes place at two MGM Resorts casinos in the state. Mississippi is home to 26 commercial casinos, with eight of those in the Biloxi area. The state’s Gulf Coast, where Biloxi is located, is the nation’s fifth highest revenue-producing gaming market. 

Off-site mobile sports betting has faced resistance in Mississippi from casino operators who want bettors wagering inside the resort, where guests might also spend money on hotel rooms, restaurants and entertainment. 

Louisiana is the only Gulf Coast state, from Texas to Florida, with legal off-site mobile sports betting.


Online Casinos Absent From New York Budgets

March 15, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Legal online casinos in New York will likely have to wait until next year, as both the Assembly and Senate left online casinos out of their recently submitted budgets. 

While not officially dead, the absence from the proposed budgets presents a difficult path to passage in 2023. 


Iowa Bill Would Legalize Online Casino Gambling

March 15, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

A new bill would legalize Iowa online casinos in the state. The bill, HSB 227, would allow Iowa's existing casinos to offer up to two (and possibly three) online casino brands. 

Iowa passed legislation last year that put a moratorium on issuing land-based casino licenses for two years. While the moratorium doesn't explicitly extend to online casinos, prominent lawmakers have said their intention was a moratorium on any gambling expansion, citing gambling fatigue. 

However, that was the mood last fall. With the moratorium's failure to mention online expansion, there is reason to believe the topic could be broached this year. 


GeoComply Releases Massachusetts Sports Betting Data

March 13, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

The latest geolocation information released by GeoComply confirms what everyone already knew, Massachusetts is going to be a very strong sports betting market. 

According to GeoComply, they recorded 8.1 million geolocation checks from more than 400,000 unique accounts during Massachusetts's launch weekend. that was the fifth busiest in the country, trailing only New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.

The numbers are always bigger during launch, but the 400,000 accounts are more than double any of the similarly sized states:


Arkansas Senate Could Seek To Expand Racing Commission

March 13, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

A potential bill is being considered at the Arkansas Legislature to add four members to the Arkansas Racing Commission, Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, told Gambling.com. on Monday. 

The bill had not been introduced by the end of Monday's floor session. Hester, the Senate president pro tempore, said he was uncertain when the bill might be introduced. 

The bill would expand the current seven-member commission to an 11-member panel. Hester said the four new members would be appointed by the governor and would be general consumers not tied to any specific profession.  

The Racing Commission oversees all gambling matters in the state. Critics contend the commission is tied too closely to the horse racing industry and casinos. However, it is unclear whether there will be legislative support to change the composition of this powerful commission.

This potential new legislation is being discussed about a year after mobile Arkansas sports betting was launched under a profit-sharing rule only found in the Natural State. The rule has kept large national online bookmakers such as Draft Kings and FanDuel out of the state.

In December 2021, the Arkansas Racing Commission voted on a rule change requiring national bookmakers, including DraftKings and FanDuel, to share 51% of profits if partnering with an Arkansas casino on a mobile sports betting app. 

These national bookmakers typically share 5-10% of profits in other states.

Hester told Gambling.com there is no plan to use legislation to abolish the 51% rule in Arkansas. 

During last year’s legislative session in Little Rock, lawmakers signed off on the 51% rule change. A short time later, mobile sports betting became legal statewide.

Currently, Arkansas’ three brick-and-mortar casinos operate their own branded online mobile sportsbooks. These are the only mobile sportsbooks available in Arkansas.

In-person sports betting inside casinos also is legal in Arkansas. The state’s three casinos are in West Memphis, Hot Springs and Pine Bluff.


Georgia Sports Betting Is Only Mostly Dead

March 13, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Georgi's 2023 sports betting hopes went up in flames last week when neither chamber managed to pass sports betting legislation before the end of crossover day.

However, as any industry watcher will tell you, most legislatures have plenty of rules that allow efforts to be resuscitated at a later date. Georgia is no exception. 

Georgia Speaker of the House Jon Burns went full Miracle Max on Friday, declaring 2023's sports betting efforts only mostly dead. 

“Monday night may have not been the right time, best time for sports betting,” Burns told the local press. “But you know, we have a 40-day session last time I checked, and we’re going to have a 40-day session this year.

“We don’t close the door on anything. We will continue to talk, we will continue to get educated, and I’ll continue to do what I’ve committed to doing and that’s listening to my members."

The big question: Is Burns just paying lip service to the powerful interests who support sports betting, or is a second sports betting push in the cards during a potential special session?


North Carolina Rep. Introduces Mobile Sports Betting Bill

March 13, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

North Carolina Rep. Jason Saine introduced a bill to legalize mobile North Carolina sports betting in the Tarheel State. The bill, HB 347, is very similar to last year’s effort.

“This bill is a bipartisan bill and we’ve learned a good bit from both sides about some of the tweaks that needed to happen,” said Rep. Saine. “We’ve worked to accommodate those concerns, and we believe we have a bill that can do better than pass. It can get broad support from both caucuses.”

HB 347 would license up to 12 online operators, with a $1 million licensing fee and a 14% tax rate. Operators are able to deduct promotional credits from their tax obligations, but these deductions are phased out by 2027. 

The bill also allows both North Carolina tribes to offer mobile betting after entering into a compact with the state – retail betting is already allowed at the state’s two tribal casinos. 

HB 347 also increases problem gambling funding in the state from $1 million to $3 million. 

North Carolina fell just short of legalizing mobile sports last year. With dozens of new lawmakers in the House and Senate, the hope is that it will be smooth sailing this time around.


Massachusetts Sports Betting Launch, A Fairly Smooth Ride

March 13, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Massachusetts mobile sports betting launched on Friday, and aside from a few minor blips, the launch was precisely what a state hopes for… uneventful.

Barstool Sportsbook’s short-lived launch issue prevented bettors from accessing bonus bets. 

Barstool also ran afoul of gambling Twitter for its “Can’t Lose Parlay” language. 

Massachusetts’s regulators aren’t playing games with advertising. The MGC has already called out three FanDuel ads, and the Barstool “Can’t Lose” language is unlikely to go unnoticed. The MGC already expressed concerns over the company’s advertising practices during its licensing hearing. 


Legal Betting Recalls Massachusetts’ Mob History

March 11, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

Bay State sports bettors now can legally wager at casinos and online — a different environment from the well-documented history of illegal wagering in Massachusetts.

That illegal wagering, involving mobsters and other underworld operatives, has been examined in TV and print news accounts.

One prominent example is “Biography of a Bookie Joint,” a November 1961 CBS News investigation into illegal bookmaking in Boston.

Hollywood also has turned out movies looking at organized crime in and around Boston involving gangsters such as James “Whitey” Bulger.

Bulger and the Winter Hill Gang participated in various crimes, including illegal bookmaking, according to Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, former Boston Globe reporters who wrote the true crime book “Black Mass,” later made into a movie with the same title.

There have been many other accounts of the Boston underworld, including in novels by the late George V. Higgins, but with the March 10 launch of online wagering, sports betting now is allowed legally in the state inside casinos and on mobile devices.


  

Oaklawn Announcer Departs In Twitter Flap

March 10, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

After more than a half-dozen years at Oaklawn Park, announcer Vic Stauffer has "separated" from the horse track, he said in a tweet on Friday.

This separation occurred in a conflict over an earlier tweet apparently referencing masturbation, according to the Arkansas Times.

Stauffer disputes the “severity” of that tweet but stepped aside anyway.

“I've separated from Oaklawn Racing," he tweeted. “I thank them for 6 1/2 GREAT yrs. We disagreed about the severity of a tweet I recently posted. Respect their opinion.”

In the earlier tweet, Stauffer appears to have referenced being caught masturbating as a teenager, the Arkansas Times reported. Stauffer has not confirmed the intent of the earlier tweet.

Jim Byers, the announcer for Lone Star Park near Dallas, will serve as interim announcer at Oaklawn, according to the Daily Racing Form. 

The historic horse track in Hot Springs is home to the Arkansas Derby, an important prelude to the Triple Crown races, beginning with the Kentucky Derby in May.

Casino gaming was illegal but widespread in Hot Springs for decades until authorities shut it down in the 1960s. During the illegal gaming years, the Spa City was popular among gangsters such as Al Capone, Charles “Lucky” Luciano and Frank Costello.

Currently, the only legal casino gambling in Hot Springs occurs at Oaklawn in a Las Vegas-style setting with table games and a sportsbook.


Online Petition: ‘Save Las Vegas Mirage Volcano’ 

March 9, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

An online effort is underway to save the flame-spewing volcano in front of the Mirage hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Thousands of people are fuming over plans to demolish the longtime landmark and tourist attraction.

A  “Save the Volcano” online petition at change.org had more than 8,815 signatures on Thursday.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida has bought the Mirage and intends to rebrand it as a Hard Rock hotel-casino. The plans call for construction of a guitar-shaped hotel tower in place of the volcano. The Clark County Commission is set to consider the guitar tower on March 22, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Like most major resorts on the Strip, the Mirage is south of Las Vegas city limits, within the county’s jurisdiction.

According to the petition, locals intend “to reverse the new owner's plan to destroy this one-of-its-kind masterpiece.”

“Frankly, it should be a historical landmark,” the petition states.

Casino developer Steve Wynn first opened the Mirage in 1989. Considered the first megaresort on the Strip, it sparked a casino building boom that led to the implosion of several longtime hotel-casinos, many once controlled by the Mob, including the Stardust, Desert Inn, Sands, Dunes and Hacienda.


Kentucky Sports Betting Bill Makes Progress

March 9, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

A sports betting bill is quietly making progress in Kentucky. HB 551, introduced by Rep. Michael Meredith, was unanimously passed by the House Licensing & Occupations Committee this week. 

According to the bill's sponsor, the bill has enough support to pass the House. 

"We know there's a ton of this activity already going on in the state and there's a ton of residents crossing the border to place their bets," Meredith told the local press. "We just need to bring this home and regulate it properly."

Meredith's bill differs from a separate effort that looked to combine sports betting, DFS, and online poker. that comprehensive approach was met with more opposition. 


Missouri Senate Pushes Off Sports Betting Bill Discussion 

March 9, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Lawmakers were expected to discuss Missouri sports betting this week. Those discussions never took place and will not occur until next week at the earliest. 

There is a bill in the Senate and the House, and neither chamber took up the issue, despite both chambers placing sports betting on their tentative calendars. 

The big issue in Missouri is VLTs. A contingent of lawmakers is adamant that sports betting will not be legalized without VLTs. Until some agreement is reached on VLTs, sports betting is likely to remain elusive in Missouri. 


Senator: New Yorkers Need Jobs; Don’t Delay Downstate Casinos

March 8, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

In New York, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo wants downstate casinos to open as soon as they’re ready rather than waiting on some universal start date.

Addabbo told Gambling.com it makes sense to let casinos open when they can. Requiring them to open on the same date, as late as 2026 or beyond as some have suggested, would delay much-needed worker paychecks and postpone a revenue stream New York could use for state services, he said.

“Let’s get the benefits rolling,” Addabbo, D-Queens, said this week.

A three-member panel is overseeing the licensing for three downstate casinos. The “downstate” area includes New York City, Long Island and Westchester County. Four commercial casinos already exist in upstate New York.

Current downstate gaming properties, including Resorts World in Queens and Empire City in Yonkers, can have slot-style video lottery terminals but not casino table games such as craps and blackjack. The three new license holders would be allowed to offer Las Vegas-style table games in addition to slots.

Among other proposals, gaming companies are seeking licenses for Las Vegas-style casinos in Times Square, Coney Island, the Bronx, Queens and Long Island.

Addabbo said only “viable proposals” should be taken under consideration. 

The Resorts World and Empire City casinos wouldn’t require top-to-bottom construction and could open more quickly than a resort requiring a full build-out, according to proponents of those sites. 

“If someone is an existing site, so be it,” Addabbo said. 


Caesars Expects ‘Best Month’ Ever In March

March 7, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg is the latest casino executive anticipating a record-breaking March in Las Vegas.

“Vegas is exceedingly strong,” Reeg told CNBC’s Contessa Brewer. “As we head into March, we’re looking at a March that could be the best month that we’ve ever had at Caesars.”

In a tweet on Tuesday, Brewer posted a portion of her interview with Reeg. She tweeted, “The concern over consumer spending pullback just isn't hitting Las Vegas.”

Earlier, MGM Resorts International CEO Bill Hornbuckle said March could be the best hotel revenue month “in our history.”

These optimistic expectations come as Las Vegas embarks on a packed calendar of tourist-attracting events, including a NASCAR race, Taylor Swift concerts and NCAA March Madness basketball tournaments.

The expectations for this March follow a strong 2022 for casino gaming in Las Vegas. Last year, the Las Vegas Strip led all commercial gaming markets in total revenue and was the only one in the Top 20 with a double digit increase (17%) over 2021.


Time Rapidly Expiring In New York To Legalize iGaming, Senator Says

March 7, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

The final horn is about to sound on any chance a New York iGaming bill will pass at this year’s legislative session in Albany.  

Because of time constraints imposed by the budget process, an iGaming bill needs to be resolved by the end of this week, said state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Queens.

If that doesn’t happen, then “we’re done” for this year, Addabbo said.

The senator spoke with Gambling.com over the phone after conducting an iGaming roundtable on Tuesday in New York City.

Addabbo said failure to approve an iGaming bill this year will cost the state at least $1 billion in revenue that can be used for education and other state needs.

However, the senator is confident iGaming will be legalized in New York at some point, if not this year.

“It’s not a matter of if, but when,” he said.

Online gaming, called iGaming, allows gamblers to use their computer or cellphone to play Las Vegas-style casino games such as craps, blackjack and poker. It is legal in seven states, including three that border New York — Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The year, Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, have introduced legislation to legalize iGaming statewide.

 


Delaware Lottery Receives 7 Bids For Online Gambling Contracts  

March 7, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

The Delaware Lottery put out a request for proposals to fill its expiring online gambling contracts. Seven companies submitted proposals to the Delaware Lottery prior to the March 3 deadline:

  1. 888
  2. Evolution
  3. GeoComply
  4. Kambi
  5. LexisNexis
  6. Light & Wonder
  7. Rush Street Interactive

The RFP was for any platform operator or vendor, which is why companies like LexisNexis and GeoComply appear on the list. 

Per the RFP:

"The Delaware State Lottery (“DSL” or "Lottery") is issuing this Request for Proposal (the “RFP”) to invite interested Vendors to submit a Proposal for the implementation of its Internet Wagering System and Services Solution (the “Internet Wagering Solution” or “Solution”) comprised of a player account management (“PAM”) platform, operational and support services (“Managed Services”) and games from multiple vendors including casino table games, Video Lottery games, poker, bingo, and keno with the option for the Lottery to add internet sports betting (“Game Vendors”). The option for internet sports wagering may be at (1) Production Operation launch date, (2) at some point in the future or (3) not at all i.e., outside the scope of this RFP."

Delaware is currently an online gambling monopoly (run by 888), with each of the state's three racinos licensing the same platform from the lottery.  

There is some hope the Delaware Lottery will expand its options when it selects a new vendor or vendors. As Gambling.com Founder Charles Gillespie wrote in an op-ed:

"The Delaware Lottery’s recent announcement to select a new vendor for iGaming, and the potential to expand into online sports betting, has created excitement in the industry — is Delaware ready to leave its woefully aged system of parlay cards, retail sports betting, and bland run-of-the-mill iGaming options behind? The answer, unfortunately, is still unclear. But they should certainly think twice before sole-sourcing the entire contract to a single vendor again."

You can find a deeper dive on Delaware online gambling here.


Give Slot Jackpot Winners A Break On IRS Paperwork: House Gaming Caucus

March 6, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

U.S. House members from states with legal gaming want to reduce the hassle factor of filling out IRS paperwork on slot machine jackpots of at least $1,200  — a threshold set in the 1970s before the nationwide spread of casino gambling beyond Nevada.

The tax threshold would be raised to $5,000 under a recent congressional proposal, according to U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa. That figure would go up over time with inflation.

Reschenthaler and Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., co-chair the congressional gaming caucus. These two House members, along with three others, have introduced legislation they are calling the Shifting Limits on Thresholds (SLOT) bill.

A former Nevada state legislator, Titus said the current $1,200 threshold creates “excessive paperwork” for jackpot winners having to fill out IRS W-2G forms. When that threshold was set in 1977, $1,200 was considered a more significant win than it is today, lawmakers said.

“While I believe appropriate taxes should be collected on winnings, raising the threshold would reduce paperwork and ensure this is accomplished more efficiently,” Titus said.


NY Lawmakers And Regulators Take Aim At Sports Betting Ads  

March 6, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Sports betting ads are under attack on multiple fronts in New York.

Last week, the NY Assembly passed a bill, A 1118, that:

  • Requires all advertisements for gambling and sports betting to include warnings about potential harmful and addictive effects of gambling;
  • Requires the state gaming commission to cooperate with the commissioner of addiction services and supports to ensure that all advertisements for gaming activity state a problem gambling hotline number.

the bill now sits in the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee. 

At the same time, the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) unanimously approved draft rules that would impose stricter controls on advertising and marketing. 

Among the restrictions are:

  • A ban on the use of "free" and "risk-free" terms in advertising
  • Prohibiting affiliate marketing in the state

The latter was borrowed from Massachusetts, but New York's neighbor to the east recently issued a waiver to affiliates as they look to loosen these restrictions. 

the rules are now in a 60-day public comment period. Following the public comment period, the NYSGC will consider changes to the rules before a final vote is taken. 


The U.S. Legislative Landscape - March 6, 2023

March 6, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Our weekly look at legislative efforts and launch updates in the U.S. online gambling space. 

State Last Update Latest News
Massachusetts Feb. 13 The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has set a mobile launch date of March 10, a few days before the start of the NCAA men’s March Madness basketball tournament on March 14.
Mississippi Feb. 13 The Mississippi House passed a bill that would set up a sports betting task force to study the potential impacts of mobile sports betting. If passed, the still-to-be-determined 11-member panel must submit findings and recommendations by Oct. 15, 2023.
South Carolina Feb. 13 A bill to legalize online parimutuel betting on horse races has been introduced. Supporters are pointing to the South Carolina horse racing industry being on life support, as owners have left the state for greener pastures in other states.
Illinois Feb. 13 Illinois State Sen. Christina Castro sponsored a bill to legalize online casinos. Illinois is the fifth state to explore online casino-poker expansion in 2023.
Ohio Feb. 13 Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has unveiled his 2024-25 budget, and it includes a very interesting sports betting tweak, as the governor wants to double the sports betting tax rate from 10% to 20%.
Oklahoma March 6 In Oklahoma, HB1027 by Rep. Ken Luttrell has passed the Appropriations Committee. The bill would allow state tribes to amend their gaming compacts to offer in-person and online sports betting. The governor has voiced support, but where the state’s major gaming tribes stand is unknown.
Maine Feb. 13 As Maine inches towards its sports betting launch (between August 2023 and January 2024), advertising restrictions have become controversial. Will these debates slow down the launch? It remains to be seen.
Georgia March 6 A Georgia sports betting bill, SB 57, which would have legalized retail and online betting through the state lottery was voted down by the Senate in a 37-19 vote. There are several competing efforts, but for progress to be made, lawmakers will need to coalesce around a single bill.
Minnesota March 6 A bill introduced by Rep. Zach Stephenson has passed two House committees. The bill, HF 2000, would legalize retail and mobile betting via Minnesota’s tribes. A separate bill in the Senate includes the state’s two racetracks.
New York Feb. 24 Sen. Joseph Addabbo has introduced an online casino bill, S 4856, that would bring online gambling to the state. The bill faces an uphill battle, as Addabbo's counterpart in the Assembly, Gary Pretlow, has introduced online casino legislation of his own, and Gov. Kathy Hochul did not include revenue from online casinos in her budget.
Indiana Feb. 24 Indiana’s efforts to legalize online casinos and online poker are over thanks to VLTs and cannibalization concerns.
Texas March 6 Bills have been filed to legalize mobile sports betting in the Senate and House. These are in addition to previous legislation seeking to legalize in-person sports betting and allow land-based commercial casinos. Jeffries analysts said, "source and channel checks suggested there was “notable movement” on both land-based and/or OSB “for the first time in recallable history through a statewide voter referendum”."
North Carolina Feb. 13 After a near-miss in 2022, Senate Leader Phil Bergman told the local press he believes there is enough support to pass a mobile sports betting bill this year.
New Hampshire Feb. 24 The Senate passed New Hampshire’s online casino bill on Second Reading. It still requires committee approval and passage by the full Senate a second time before it can head to the House.
Kentucky Feb. 24 A new sports betting bill, HB 551, has been filed that eliminated online poker and DFS from the picture. The big question in Kentucky is, will VGTs become a problem?
Missouri Feb. 24 A Missouri committee passed HB 556, a bill that would legalize sports betting. The committee did not pass a sports betting bill that also included VGTs, which quickly became controversial, with VGT supporters making hay.
Tennessee March 6 Tennessee regulators have delayed punishments for sports betting operators that have violated the state’s 10% hold requirement. The delay is to give the legislature an opportunity to modify the rule.

Sports Betting Bill Goes Down In Flames In The Georgia Senate 

March 3, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

A bill that would have legalized sports betting and pari-mutuel horseracing through the Georgia State Lottery was resoundingly rejected by lawmakers earlier this week. The Georgia Senate rejected the bill, SB 57, by a 19-37 vote.

The Georgia House will consider a similar bill (the House version does not include horse racing), and a third effort seeking to legalize sports betting through a constitutional amendment is still active. 

The constitutional amendment approach would require a 2/3 majority vote in both chambers as well as a voter referendum. 


MA Regulators Grant Affiliate Waivers For Sports Betting Launch

March 3, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted to grant a waiver to affiliates allowing affiliates to enter into CPA (cost per acquisition) deals with licensed sports betting operators. 

The MGC granted the waiver until April 14, giving itself time to amend the current regulation that prevents marketing deals with third-party vendors. 

The MGC plan is to create a bifurcated system with affiliates able to register for CPA deals with operators but needing a higher level of licensing for revenue-sharing deals.


FanDuel Official Sports Betting Partner of MLB

March 2, 2023 | Richard Janvrin | @RichardJanvrin 

FanDuel is the co-exclusive Official Sports Betting Partner of Major League Baseball. In an announcement Thursday, FanDuel and MLB noted that the deal is a “multi-year partnership.”

With this deal, FanDuel sportsbook has rights to official MLB branding and “category designations” for products like the sportsbooks, DFS, and Faceoff platforms, as well as marketing campaigns. 

FanDuel and Major League Baseball have a relationship dating to 2019, with FanDuel as an Authorized Gaming Operator. books 

Starting in the 2023 season, FanDuel will stream MLB.TV’s Free Game of the Day on the sportsbook app and FanDuel+ platform. FanDuel will also have the right to use highlights as part of the programming on FanDuel TV. 

The companies announced that the partnership will “also create new opportunities for MLB and FanDuel to collaborate on projects for other sponsor partners of both FanDuel and MLB platforms, as well as to work together to bring consumers new sports betting product innovations to drive deeper fan engagement.”


Tennessee Regulators: 10% Hold In Legislatures Hands

March 2, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

At a hearing this week, the Tennessee Lottery Sports Wagering Advisory Council decided to delay any potential punishment of Tennessee sports betting operators for violating the state's mandatory 10% hold requirement. 

Instead, regulators are working with state lawmakers to change the rule, per SWAC Executive Director Mary Beth Thomas. 

Per the Center Square:

"Thomas noted she has met with representatives from the sports gaming industry and operators and has been given “appropriate assurances” the industry will negotiate a legislative fix to the issue. She suggested the operator punishment be delayed until after the legislative session ends in May."

In other Tennessee news, regulators approved Fanatics as the 13th licensed sportsbook in the state. 


Sportsbooks Spend Heavily During Ohio Launch

March 2, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Ohio sports betting came out of the gates at a full sprint, but behind the huge handle and revenue numbers are equally huge promotional spend totals.

  • Handle = $1 billion
  • Revenue = $205.7 million
  • Promotional spend = $320 million

Only two operators generated revenue in excess of their promotional spend, Caesars and Betr. Barstool Sportsbook's promotional spend was ever so slightly more than its revenue.

As usual, the market was dominated by FanDuel (50%) and DraftKings (27%), with BetMGM coming in third with an 8.5% market share.

Ohio also provides an opportunity to look at some of the lesser-known operators, including new entrants like Bet365, Betr, and Tipico, and the hyper-local BetJACK.

Bet365 had a solid debut in Ohio, garnering 4% of the market ($38.6 million handle). The showing was Bet365's best U.S. performance to date. 

Tipico was below 1% market share with handle of $10 million. Betr (the micro-betting site that includes Jake Paul among its owners) barely registered, with handle of just over $1 million. 

BetJACK, which was marketing early and often didn't fare much better, with just over $4 million in handle.


Sports Betting Operators Are Getting Cold Feet In MA

March 2, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

In a recent edition of the EKG Line (a free newsletter from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming), the team put forth several reasons operators have either avoided Massachusetts or are withdrawing their licensing applications.

  • BetRivers never applied
  • Bet365 and PointsBet have withdrawn their applications

The EKG team pointed out that Massachusetts has a middling population, but that is offset by the state's near-the-top median income.

A more salient point is the competitive environment. In other locales, it's usually a matter of dealing with FanDuel, DraftKings, and MGM. That provides opportunities for a company to become a Top 5 operator. In Massachusetts, outsiders will need to leapfrog a much larger group. The state's three casinos are all major players in the national sports betting space:

  • Wynn
  • MGM
  • Penn

The state is also the birthplace of Barstool Sports and the headquarters for DraftKings. Factor in FanDuel, and outsiders will have a hard time cracking the Top 5.

Another point raised by EKG was marketing. Boston is a very expensive advertising market, and its TV and radio markets bleed into New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont. 

According to EKG, Massachusetts operators will need a 7-8% market share to reach profitability. 


Las Vegas Casinos Banking On Massive March

March 1, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

March is expected to be a major money-maker for Las Vegas casinos, with several tourist-attracting events on tap.

MGM Resorts International CEO Bill Hornbuckle said March could be the best hotel revenue month “in our history,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Throughout the years, March has attracted large numbers of people wanting to hang out at casino sportsbooks and bet on NCAA men’s basketball tournament games. This year’s March Madness games begin March 14 at arenas across the country, culminating in the championship game on April 3 in Houston.

That traditional basketball tourism surge is expected again this year, but other major events also could attract big crowds. The following events are set to take place this March in the Las Vegas Valley:

  • Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament at Mandalay Bay resort, March 1-5
  • UFC 285 fight card at T-Mobile Arena, March 4
  • NASCAR’s Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, March 5
  • ConExpo-Con/Agg construction trade show at the Las Vegas Convention Center, March 14-18
  • NCAA Men’s March Madness West regional basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena, March 23 & 25
  • Taylor Swift concerts at sold-out Allegiant Stadium, March 24 & 25

These events and more are expected to push the Clark County casino gaming win over the billion-dollar mark again. In January, Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, recorded its 23rd straight month of more than $1 billion in casino wins.


Don't Count Out Mobile Betting In Texas

March 1, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

First reported by the Compliance+More newsletter, analysts at Jeffries said, "source and channel checks suggested there was “notable movement” on both land-based and/or OSB “for the first time in recallable history through a statewide voter referendum”."

The news comes from Gov. Greg Abbott's continuing softening on gambling expansions in the Lone Star State. 

Abbott recently told the local press that he would support an entertainment-led resort that included gambling. 

There are many moving parts and numerous stakeholders, with opponents and proponents swarming the statehouse to make a case for and against:

  • Resort casinos
  • retail sports betting
  • Mobile sports betting
  •  

NFL Slots Slated For Casinos This Year 

Feb. 28, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

NFL-licensed slot machines are coming to casinos in Las Vegas and other cities.

On its website, Aristocrat Gaming notes its NFL-themed slots will be available later this year in an as-yet-unannounced number of casinos.

The company is allowing fans to “customize their experiences” by going to the Aristocrat website and entering their team’s favorite jersey (home, away, throwback) and other choices.  The fan-favorite leaders so far are the Dallas Cowboys, Kansas Chiefs and Denver Broncos. 

In the past, the NFL attempted to distance itself from gambling and Las Vegas. Underworld figures such as oddsmaker Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, who illegally operated four Argent Corp. casinos in Las Vegas for Midwestern crime families during the 1970s, were often in the news, raising concerns about fixed games and rigged sports betting. In the move "Casino," Robert De Niro portrays a character based on Rosenthal. 

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who retired in 2006 after 17 years in that position, opposed putting an NFL team in Las Vegas.

Since then, sports betting has become legal and live in 33 states and Washington, D.C.

Now Las Vegas is home to two major sports teams, the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders and NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. In addition, Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s are considering relocating to Southern Nevada from the Bay Area.


Minnesota Sports Betting Bill Makes Progress

Feb. 28, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

A bill that would bring legal Minnesota sports betting passed the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee by a vote of 10-to-6 on Monday. The bill, introduced by Rep. Zach Stephenson, will move on to the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee.

Stephenson's bill would put tribes in complete control of mobile and retail betting in the state, while a separate effort by Sen. Jeremy Miller would include retail betting at the state's two commercial racetracks.

That lone sticking point led to last year's failure, but as reported by local media, "One committee member said progress is being made on a deal that would include the state’s two horse tracks, which are not yet part of the bill."


AGA Responds To Maine's Proposed Sports Betting Advertising Restrictions

Feb. 27, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

In a letter to the Maine Department of Public Safety, Gambling Control Unit, American Gaming Association President and CEO Bill Miller pushed back on proposed advertising rules the state is considering. 

"Legal sportsbook advertising has an essential role in drawing bettors away from the predatory illegal market to the protections of the legal, regulated market," Miller said in the letter. "Particularly in new markets, advertising helps to inform the public about which sportsbooks are legal, as well as to ensure customers receive responsible gaming messages."

Miller also highlighted the AGA's responsible advertising code its members abide by:

"The AGA’s Responsible Marketing Code on Sports Wagering sets a high standard for operators by prohibiting targeting underage and vulnerable populations and mandates inclusion of responsible gambling resources. It also provides a means for any member of the public to file a complaint to ensure compliance with the code."

Under Maine's proposed controversial rules, sports betting ads would be severely limited, including restricting ads to the network televising the game or event and a prohibition on promotional offers. 


Louisiana Casinos Near Texas Booming

Feb. 27, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

The two Louisiana gaming markets closest to Texas lead the Bayou State in casino revenue, outpacing the larger cities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Below are the January revenue totals for Louisiana’s 16 commercial casinos (14 riverboats plus one land-based property in Lake Charles and another in New Orleans):

  • Lake Charles: $63.59 million
  • Shreveport-Bossier City: $45.3 million
  • New Orleans: $39.1 million
  • Baton Rouge: $19 million

Because commercial casinos and sports betting are illegal in Texas, Lone Star State bettors are continuing to wager legally in the Louisiana cities closest to the border.

Lake Charles is 35-40 minutes from the Texas border and 2 1/2 hours from Houston, the nation’s fourth most populated city, behind New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The Shreveport-Bossier City area is 25 minutes from the Texas border and fewer than three hours from Dallas.

The Texas Legislature, meeting in Austin until May 29, is taking a handful of casino and sports betting bills into consideration, but resistance from religious groups is expected to create obstacles.


Tennessee SWAC Will Take A Look At 10% Hold Rule

Feb. 27, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

On Wednesday morning, the Tennessee Lottery's Sports Wagering Advisory Council (SWAC) is expected to revisit the state's rule requiring sports betting operators to have a hold percentage of at least 10%. 

According to the meeting agenda, SWAC will:

Issuance of Notices of Violation of Rule 1350-01-.09 and Disciplinary Action for the Following Operators: 

  • American Wagering, Inc. d/b/a Caesars Sportsbook
  • BetMGM, LLC
  • Crown TN Gaming, LLC d/b/a DraftKings
  • Gamewise, LLC d/b/a Betly
  • Penn Sports Interactive, LLC branded as Barstool Sportsbook
  • SBOpco, LLC d/b/a SuperBook
  • Tennessee Action 24/7 LLC
  • Wagr Inc.
  • WSI US, LLC d/b/a WynnBET

The list indicates Tennessee is going to increase enforcement of the rule.


A Single Issue Stands Between Minnesota And Mobile Sports Betting

Feb. 27, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Minnesota sports betting is trending positive, but a looming issue could upset the process.

As it stands, the state's gaming tribes and professional sports teams are on board with two bills, HB 2000 and SB 1949, that would grant tribes exclusivity over sports betting. 

The only hurdle is two commercial tracks in the state, both of which want a piece of the sports betting action. Efforts to bring retail betting to Running Aces in Columbus and Canterbury Park in Shakopee derailed last year's sports betting efforts. 

The racetracks (and their supporters) still want in on the action, and per local reports, if they do, the state's professional sports teams also want a piece of the pie. 


The U.S. Legislative Landscape - Feb. 27, 2023

Feb. 27, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock 

Our weekly look at legislative efforts and launch updates in the U.S. online gambling space. 

State Last Update Latest News
Massachusetts Feb. 13 The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has set a mobile launch date of March 10, a few days before the start of the NCAA men’s March Madness basketball tournament on March 14.
Mississippi Feb. 13 The Mississippi House passed a bill that would set up a sports betting task force to study the potential impacts of mobile sports betting. If passed, the still-to-be-determined 11-member panel must submit findings and recommendations by Oct. 15.
South Carolina Feb. 13 A bill to legalize online parimutuel betting on horse races has been introduced. Supporters are pointing to the South Carolina horse racing industry being on life support, as owners have left the state for greener pastures in other states.
Illinois Feb. 13 Illinois State Sen. Christina Castro sponsored a bill to legalize online casinos. Illinois is the fifth state to explore online casino-poker expansion in 2023.
Ohio Feb. 13 Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has unveiled his 2024-25 budget, and it includes a very interesting sports betting tweak, as the governor wants to double the sports betting tax rate from 10% to 20%.
Oklahoma Feb. 13 In Oklahoma, HB1027 by Rep. Ken Luttrell has passed out of committee but has a long way to go, including requiring tribal support. The bill would allow state tribes to amend their gaming compacts to offer in-person and online sports betting. (The governor has voiced support.) Oklahoma only has tribal casinos, which currently have no sports betting. The state has no commercial casinos.
Maine Feb. 13 As Maine inches towards its sports betting launch (between August 2023 and January 2024), advertising restrictions have become controversial. Will these debates slow down the launch? It remains to be seen.
Georgia Feb. 24 A Georgia sports betting bill, SB 57, has passed committee, but with several competing efforts, lawmakers will need to coalesce around a single bill. SB 57 aims to legalize sports betting through the state lottery, which would bypass the need for a constitutional amendment.
Minnesota Feb. 13 State Sen. Jeremy Miller introduced legislation legalizing sports betting in the state. Miller's proposal would see tribes hold a monopoly on mobile betting, but commercial racetracks and professional sports teams can offer retail betting alongside the state's tribal casinos. A separate bill from Rep. Zach Stephenson is also expected to be introduced soon.
New York Feb. 24 Sen. Joseph Addabbo has introduced an online casino bill, S 4856, that would bring online gambling to the state. The bill faces an uphill battle, as Addabbo's counterpart in the Assembly, Gary Pretlow, has also introduced online casino legislation, and Gov. Kathy Hochul did not include revenue from online casinos in her budget.
Indiana Feb. 24 Indiana’s efforts to legalize online casinos and online poker are over thanks to VLTs and cannibalization concerns.
Texas Feb. 13 Bills have been filed to legalize mobile sports betting in the Senate and House. These are in addition to previous legislation seeking to legalize in-person sports betting and allow land-based commercial casinos in the largest cities. A recent poll shows support among Texans for legal sports betting, but there is resistance from religious groups and others.
North Carolina Feb. 13 After a near-miss in 2022, Senate Leader Phil Bergman told the local press he believes there is enough support to pass a mobile sports betting bill this year.
New Hampshire Feb. 24 The Senate passed New Hampshire’s online casino bill on Second Reading. It still requires committee approval and passage by the full Senate a second time before it can head to the House.
Kentucky Feb. 24 A new sports betting bill, HB 551, has been filed that eliminated online poker and DFS from the picture. The big question in Kentucky is, will VGTs become a problem?
Missouri Feb. 24 A Missouri committee passed HB 556, a bill that would legalize sports betting. The committee did not pass a sports betting bill that also included VGTs, which quickly became controversial, with VGT supporters making hay.

PointsBet Calls It Quits In Massachusetts

Feb. 27, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

PointsBet sportsbook has decided to withdraw from the Massachusetts sports betting market. In a statement, PointsBet called it a strategic withdrawal:

"We have chosen this path to emphasize our continued focus on our 14 live states of the US (plus Ontario) and how we can best optimize those markets which provide an immense TAM for us to go after."

PointsBet isn't the first company to call it quits in the Bay State, as Bet365 bowed out before it went through the licensing process. 

Massachusetts was expected to have more than 10 mobile sports betting apps. With the withdrawal of PointsBet, Massachusetts will launch its mobile betting industry on March 10 with seven operators:

  1. DraftKings
  2. FanDuel
  3. BetMGM
  4. WynnBet
  5. Barstool Sportsbook
  6. Caesars
  7. Betr

Bally Bet and Fanatics have told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission they plan to launch in May, while Betway has yet to pin down a precise launch date. 


New Hampshire Online Casino Bill Clears A Hurdle

Feb. 24, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Indiana's online casino went up in smoke, but one of the darkhorse candidates cleared a hurdle this week. New Hampshire lawmakers passed SB 104 by a 13-11 margin on Wednesday, February 22. The vote (second reading) was required to keep the bill active.

The next steps include passage by the Finance Committee - Chairman James Gray voted in favor of the bill, which bodes well. Before it can pass the Senate and head over to the House, the bill will also need to pass the full Senate again. 

The legislation has a long way to go, but if a state is going to squeak an online casino bill through, it is likely to be a state like New Hampshire. 


Encore Casino Takes Illegal Bets For Second Time

Feb. 24, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

For the second time since it launched on Jan. 31, Encore Boston Harbor has self-reported a betting violation. Once again, the mistake was attributed to a glitch by GAN, which helps run the backend of Encore's sports betting offerings. 

As with its previous transgression, the casino took an unspecified number of bets on Boston College women's basketball games. Betting on in-state colleges is prohibited under Massachusetts law.  

Encore Boston Harbor spokesperson Beth Gibbons said a “programming error as it relates to NCAA women’s college basketball markets and are currently working with our provider on a permanent solution.”

In the interim, Encore has decided to take all women's college basketball games off its betting menu.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission in a no-nonsense regulatory body. With this being the casino's second violation, the fine or penalty handed down by the MGC could be quite significant. 


New Sports Betting Effort In Kentucky Could Be Spoiled By VGTs

Feb. 23, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Kentucky has a new sports betting bill that would bring retail and sports betting to the Bluegrass State.

The bill, HB 551, was introduced by Rep. Michael Meredith. If enacted, it would create a robust industry with retail betting at the state's nine licensed horseracing tracks and up to 27 mobile apps (three skins per licensed racetrack).

"This is about regulating something we already have in the state," Meredith told FOX 56. "If you look, the estimates are that there’s about $1,000,000,000 each year in Kentucky illegally and unregulated."

Unlike existing bills, HB 551 is sports betting exclusive, as Meredith eliminated poker and daily fantasy sports from the equation. 

That said, there is a growing debate over VGTs in Kentucky (and across the region), with the pro and con side of the issue topping lobbying spend in 2023, per the Courier-Journal. 


District Court Sides With Tribes In Washington State Sports Betting Case

Feb. 23, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

A federal judge dismissed Maverick Gaming's lawsuit against Washington State's current prohibition on sports betting by commercial operators. Maverick Gaming is expected to appeal. 

Maverick Gaming owner Eric Persson filed suit in January 2022. The filing states that the state's sports betting laws violated IGRA, which allows tribes to offer Class III games if the state has legalized the activity for non-tribal operators. 

Washington State allows retail sports betting at tribal gaming properties, while the state has a blanket ban on Class III gambling (sports betting falls into the Class III bucket). 

Maverick Gaming's argument is the opposite side of the IGRA: If the state allows tribal sports betting, non-tribal entities should also be allowed to offer sports betting.

Of note, Persson is a member of the Shoalwater Bay Tribe, and it was the tribe that filed the motion to dismiss the case. 

This is a significant victory for tribal sovereignty,” Washinton State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said. “Washington law strikes the right balance by permitting sports betting and confining it to tribal casinos, where tribes have experience carefully regulating gambling where individuals must be physically present.”

Persson suffered another big loss recently, losing a nearly $2 million pot in a televised poker game. 


Indiana Online Casino Bill Withers And Dies

Feb. 22, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

And the No. 1 Seed has been eliminated. Indiana online casinos bill is dead, after it failed to meet a committee deadline this week. 

There were high hopes in Indiana this year, but several issues derailed the effort. The biggest issue was the inclusion of VGTs in the discussion. 

Also mentioned as an impediment was a fiscal note that claimed online casinos would cannibalize land-based casinos. The problem was the note cited a 2011 study that predates legal online casinos in the U.S. by two years. 

The good news is there are five other candidates with online gambling bills:

  • New Hampshire
  • Kentucky
  • New York
  • Illinois
  • Maryland

The bad news is none of the states are expected to pass legislation this year. 


South Dakota Mobile Sports Betting Bill Falls Short

Feb. 21, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

A bill, HJR 5006, that would have brought online sports betting before South Dakota voters failed in the ND House by a 41-28 margin last week. 

The bill text summary reads, "Proposing and submitting to the voters at the next general election an amendment to the Constitution of the State of South Dakota, providing for wagering on sporting events via mobile or electronic platform."

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Greg Jamison told the local press, "What's happening in effect is that all these revenues are bypassing the state of South Dakota. This question I think, is intended to bring those individuals back into compliance, let them enjoy the gaming that they would like and the revenues help go to the city of Deadwood."

Opponents pointed to the recent WalletHub study that painted South Dakota as the second-most gambling-addicted state in the country. 


Analysts Aren't Buying What DraftKings And FanDuel Are Selling In NY

Feb. 21, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

In a hearing last month, the top dogs at DraftKings and FanDuel made a case for a lower mobile tax rate in New York. The pair made several arguments, saying that while it's counterintuitive, a lower rate would eventually bring in more tax revenue for the state.

As reported by the Earnings+More team, Paul Leyland from Regulus wasn't buying it, saying, “They put forward pretty bad arguments. The case for why they would want a change in the tax rate is blindingly obvious.”

Leyland also pointed to the failed campaign in California and how it points to DraftKings and FanDuel's unwillingness to change their lobbying strategies in a rapidly evolving climate where they are increasingly painted as the "heel". At the same time, lawmakers hold all the cards as the "face" looking out for the consumer. 

California "demonstrated that the current way that online gambling companies lobby puts off the voters,” Leyland said. “They haven’t learned the deep lesson in California yet and, until they do, they are not going to win any big state lobbying.”


Georgia Sports Betting Bill Passes Committee

Feb. 21, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Georgia has several sports betting bills in play. One, SB 57, recently stirred to life, as the Senate Economic Development Committee passed it by an 8-1 margin. 

Unlike other efforts, SB 57 would legalize retail and mobile sports betting in Georgia without a constitutional amendment. Instead, SB 57 would put sports betting under the purview of the Georgia Lottery.

According to gaming law attorney Daniel Wallach, this would allow Georgia to legalize sports betting without bringing the matter before the voters. 

The bill still has a long way to go. Its next stop is the Senate Rules Committee. An affirmative vote there would put it in the queue for a vote on the Senate floor. 


Oakland A’s Eyeing Three Possible Las Vegas Ballpark Sites 

Feb. 17, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

The Oakland Athletics are eyeing a third potential site in Southern Nevada for a $1 billion, retractable-roof stadium.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, this comes as the team has at least 11 lobbyists, including President Dave Kaval, registered at the legislative building in Carson City.

The three possible stadium sites are:

  • The Las Vegas Festival Grounds at the north end of the Strip.
  • The land where the Tropicana hotel-casino sits at the southeastern end of the Strip near the airport.
  • The land where the Rio hotel-casino sits just west of the Strip.

Uncertain the team can work out a deal for a new ballpark in the Bay Area, the A’s for months have been looking at the Festival Grounds and Tropicana hotel-casino sites. 

The Festival Grounds site is north of Circus Circus in the area where the El Rancho resort was located before burning down decades ago. 

The Tropicana is a Mob-era resort investigated in the 1970s for a casino skimming pipeline that sent untaxed gaming revenue from there to the Kansas City crime family. The Tropicana’s new operator, Bally’s Corp. of Rhode Island, has indicated the resort will be rebranded or demolished.

The Rio site has recently been added to the list of possible locations for a stadium, according to what a source told the newspaper.


Louisiana Among Nation Leaders in Gaming Options

Feb. 16, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

In LA, people have more ways to gamble, from table games to horse racing to sports betting in Louisiana, compared to other states.

According to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, the state collected tax revenue in January from the following:

  • 14 riverboat casino licensees (including the land-based Horseshoe Lake Charles)
  • One land-based casino in New Orleans (Harrah’s)
  • 18 on-site casino sportsbooks
  • Eight mobile sportsbook operators
  • Four horse tracks with slots
  • 12,191 video slot devices in 1,411 locations statewide

Louisiana is the only Gulf Coast state, from Texas to Florida, with legal off-site mobile sports betting. (In Mississippi, two MGM Resorts casinos offer on-site mobile sports betting, but off-site mobile wagering is illegal. Mississippi has 26 commercial casinos, with eight of those in the Biloxi area along the Gulf Coast.)


Sen. Addabbo Drops New York Online Casino Bill 

Feb. 16, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

New York State Sen. Joseph Addabbo unveiled his online casino bill on Wednesday. 

Per the bill, any licensed sports betting operator, casino, tribal casino, or racetrack would be eligible for online casino licenses, in addition to a competitive bidding for three additional licenses. That would enable plenty of New York online casinos to go live, given the big presence of operators in the state at the moment.

Addabbo's bill (S 4856) is mainly standard fare. The exceptions are it:

  • Calls for a hefty 30.5% tax rate
  • Has an accelerated timeline to launch, with immediate licensing (likely based on existing licenses) and a launch date of 120 days after regulations are published.
  • has a unique requirement that any live dealer games must be union jobs.

The accelerated launch timeline likely means New York will allow games tested in other jurisdictions not to have to go through a second round of testing in New York. 

The bill's chances of passage are tenuous. Addabbo's counterpart in the Assembly, Gary Pretlow, has introduced online casino legislation of his own, and Gov. Kathy Hochul did not include revenue from online casinos in her budget. 

All three will have to find a compromise for a bill to pass. 


Bally's Is Moving On From Bet.Works

Feb. 16, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

A buying spree predicated the entry of Bally Bet Sportsbook into the U.S. sports betting space. The company tried to catch up with peers with a number of acquisitions. One of the more prominent was the acquisition of the Bet.Works sports betting platform.

that experiment is coming to an end, as Bally's announced it is looking for a third party to handle its sports betting platform. 

Per the EKG Line newsletter:

"Bally's is focusing on a “near-term path to profitability” and “leasing technology structures that integrate quickly”— in other words, finding a third-party sportsbook supplier who can provide an immediate product upgrade."

EKG went on to say that in-house tech may work for major firms, but smaller firms may begin to shift back to suppliers like Kambi.


Willam Hill App Back Online in Nevada After Crashing Super Bowl Sunday

Feb. 16, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

After crashing during the Super Bowl on Sunday, the William Hill app is up and running again in Nevada.

In a statement issued early Thursday, William Hill tweeted that the William Hill Nevada and Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill apps had been restored to “full functionality” in the state on Wednesday evening.

The company, a subsidiary of Nevada-based Caesars Entertainment, did not indicate why the app crashed or what fixes were required to get it back online.

“All customers should now have access to their accounts,” William Hill tweeted. “We are deeply sorry for the frustration and inconvenience this outage cause our customers.”

The incident created an online backlash from Nevada's angry William Hill customers who had been unable since Sunday to withdraw their money. 

By early Thursday, Nevada gaming regulators, nor William Hill, had indicated what steps would be taken to ensure a similar crash will not happen again. There was no indication whether William Hill or Caesars would be fined.


William Hill App Still Down in Nevada, Bettors Angry

Feb. 15, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

Though Nevada casinos have begun to accept in-person bets at William Hill sportsbook ticket windows, bettors remained locked out of the app early Wednesday, unable to withdraw money. 

The William Hill app crashed toward the end of the second quarter of Sunday’s Super Bowl. This knocked the Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill and William Hill Nevada apps offline in the state, the company said. The on-site casino sportsbooks also crashed in Nevada. 

William Hill, a subsidiary of Nevada-based Caesars Entertainment, operates 113 on-site casino sportsbooks in the Silver State.

By early this week, William Hill and the Nevada Gaming Control Board stressed they are looking into the matter.

That has not placated bettors who have been unable to access their winnings on the app.

Early Wednesday, a Nevada bettor messaged this reporter, saying, “2/15/2023 at 2:20 am -- The William Hill mobile app is still not up. Maybe all their data is lost? Or their app is being held hostage by a hacker?” 

One social media user tweeted, “@NevadaGCB please look into this. @WilliamHillUS is not letting us take out any money from our accounts, and their customer service says they have no way to access our account ... I have 3000 being held hostage #WilliamHill #SuperBowl #Nevada.”


MGC Discusses Betting Violations At All 3 Massachusetts Sportsbooks

Feb. 15, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

All three Massachusetts sportsbooks gave the Massachusetts Gaming Commission something to talk about, as all three operators took wagers on in-state colleges, something that violates Massachusetts sports betting law.

Latest violations:

  • Encore Boston Harbor accepted a bet on the Boston College Women's Basketball Team as part of a five-leg parlay.
  • MGM Springfield accepted wagers on two Harvard basketball games.
  • Plainridge Park took 33 bets on a Merrimack College game due to a supplier error that mistakenly listed the school in Florida.

All violations were self-reported.

The MGC did not issue fines or punishments on Tuesday, but the IEB noted that similar violations in other jurisdictions resulted in penalties between $5,000 and $10,000. 


William Hill App Crashes In Nevada; Bettors Unable To Cash Out

Feb. 14, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

Nevada gaming regulators this week are looking into what caused the William Hill sports betting app to crash Sunday, leaving winning bettors unable to cash out at least through Monday night.

The William Hill sports betting app crashed in Nevada on Sunday about the time of the Super Bowl, a Reno bettor told Gambling.com on Monday. The bettor has been unable to cash a winning ticket either on the app or at a William Hill ticket window in a Reno casino, he said.

William Hill, a subsidiary of Reno-based Caesars Entertainment, operates 113 race and sportsbooks statewide and also has a mobile sports betting app available for Nevada bettors.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board issued a statement indicating it is “aware of the issue,” adding that “board agents from the Enforcement and Technology Division are investigating the matter.”

By Tuesday morning, that status had not been updated. The board earlier tweeted that bettors placed $153.18 million in Super Bowl bets on all mobile platforms and on-site sportsbooks statewide this year. On a last-second field goal, the AFC’s Kansas City Chiefs defeated the NFC’s Philadelphia Eagles, 38-35.

William Hill’s latest tweet, posted on Monday, states that the company is “aggressively working to restore full functionality to the William Hill Nevada app.”

“We understand how frustrating this is for our guests,” the online bookmaker tweeted, “and we apologize for the inconvenience. We are moving quickly to resolve the problem.”


Sports Betting Boosting Traffic At Ohio Casinos

Feb. 14, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Retail sports betting is often overlooked, but retail betting can be very beneficial. Case in point, Angela Matthews of Jack Entertainment said the Thistledown Racino has seen a 10-15% boost in foot traffic since the retail sportsbook opened. 

Even more important than how many, Matthews pointed to who was coming to the property. “What we’ve seen is actually a demographic we haven’t seen," said Matthews. "A little bit younger crowd."

The experience at Thistledown isn't unique. Operators across the U.S. have noted increased traffic, food and beverage sales, and/or table game revenue following the introduction of retail betting options. 


A New Sports Betting Effort In Georgia

Feb. 14, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Georgia has yet another sports betting bill to choose from this year following the introduction of HB 380 by Rep. Marcus Wiedower. 

HB 380 differs from a separate piece of legislation (SB 57) introduced by a group of 11 state senators on Feb. 1. 

  • Wiedower’s bill would create two classes of licenses, one for mobile operators (capped at 16) and one for retail operators.
  • Wiedower’s bill also has a lower tax rate, 15%, compared to SB 57’s 20% tax rate.

HB 380 has the support of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, “a privately funded 163-year-old organization representing businesses, colleges, universities, and nonprofits across the 29-county region that makes up the nation’s eighth-largest market.”

“This legislation would legalize responsible sports betting in Georgia and generate additional revenue for education under the Georgia Lottery,” said Marshall Guest, senior vice president of public policy and public affairs for the Metro Atlanta Chamber.”

Of note: SB 57 is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Economic Development & Tourism Committee today at 8 a.m. ET. 


Sports Betting Scheme Busted in Nevada

Feb. 13, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

The Nevada Gaming Control Board has disrupted an “alleged embezzlement scheme” connected to sports-betting kiosks.

The board did not name the sports-betting operator, but the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that a local judge recently heard an embezzlement case of $100,000 or more involving sports betting operator William Hill, a subsidiary of Reno-based Caesars Entertainment. Two people face felony charges in the investigation.

The newspaper reported that William Hill, the largest sports-betting operator in Nevada, has 113 race and sportsbooks in the state.

In a news release, the board said the suspects, employed by the operator, used IT systems "to illegally add money to sports wagering kiosks, and then print and redeem fraudulent wagering vouchers.”

In a separate incident, a Reno sports bettor told Gambling.com on Monday that William Hill’s mobile app was down after the Super Bowl on Sunday and also on Monday. The bettor said no one was getting paid as late as Monday afternoon. A message from William Hill indicated the company was experiencing “technical difficulties with the mobile application.” 


The U.S. Legislative Landscape - Feb. 13, 2023

Feb. 13, 2023 | Steve Ruddock and Larry Henry | @SteveRuddock and @NEWSLarryHenry

Our weekly look at legislative efforts and launch updates in the U.S. online gambling space. 

State Legislative Update
Massachusetts On-site sports betting began on Jan. 31 in Massachusetts without issue, per Massachusetts regulators. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has set a mobile launch date of March 10, a few days before the start of the NCAA men’s March Madness basketball tournament on March 14.
Mississippi The Mississippi House passed a bill that would set up a sports betting task force to study the potential impacts of mobile sports betting. If passed, the still-to-be-determined 11-member panel must submit findings and recommendations by October 15, 2023.
South Carolina A bill to legalize online parimutuel betting on horse races has been introduced. Supporters are pointing to the South Carolina horse racing industry being on life support, as owners have left the state for greener pastures in other states.
Illinois Illinois State Sen. Christina Castro sponsored a bill to legalize online casinos. Illinois is the fifth state to explore online casino-poker expansion in 2023.
Ohio Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has unveiled his 2024-2025 budget, and it includes a very interesting sports betting tweak, as the governor wants to double the sports betting tax rate from 10% to 20%.
Oklahoma In Oklahoma, HB1027 by Rep. Ken Luttrell has passed out of committee but has a long way to go, including requiring tribal support. The bill would allow state tribes to amend their gaming compacts to offer in-person and online sports betting. (The governor has voiced support.) Oklahoma only has tribal casinos, which currently have no sports betting. The state has no commercial casinos.

AGA Opposes Federal Sports Betting Advertising Restrictions

Feb. 13, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

The American Gaming Association (AGA) has issued a statement opposing the federal sports betting advertising prohibition introduced by Rep. Paul Tonko last week. 

The AGA's Chris Cylke wrote, “The American Gaming Association (AGA) and our members adamantly oppose any legislation that seeks to ban or limit casino gaming advertising, including for legal sports betting." 

Cylke said the advertising restrictions would reduce awareness of legal betting options and benefit illegal operators. 

"Congress should instead focus its attention on combatting the predatory and pervasive offshore illegal market that offers no responsible gaming measures, age verification or problem gambling resources," Cylke said.


SC Bill Would Legalize Parimutuel Betting On Horse Races

Feb. 13, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

South Carolina is constantly touted as a dark horse candidate to legalize sports betting, but the state legislature appears to be focused on another type of online betting, parimutuel horseracing. 

A new bill would legalize parimutuel betting on horse races. Up to three licenses would be made available by a newly minted commission. 

However, online parimutuel betting faces an uphill battle in one of the most anti-gambling states in the country. Not helping the situation is a governor who openly opposes gambling. 

Supporters have pointed to neighboring states that offer online parimutuel betting, and better incentives for horse owners. “Unfortunately, we’re getting kicked to the curb by other states who have incentives,” Deborah McCutchen, who runs McCutchen Training Center, told a Senate subcommittee on Feb. 7. According to McCutchen, other states offer incentives to owners if their horses are stables in-state for a minimum period. 


Ohio Gov. Wants To Double The Sports Betting Tax Rate

Feb. 13, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's 2024-2025 budget includes a provision that would increase the current tax rate on sports betting operators from 10% to 20%. 

The increase would have to be approved by the legislature during budget talks, where it will face an uphill battle, considering Ohio sports betting launched in January.

DeWine's budget also included a prohibition on using free or risk-free terminology in advertising and automatic exclusion for anyone threatening athletes, coaches, referees, or anyone involved in a sporting contest.  


Watered Down Mississippi Mobile Sports Betting Bill Passes House

Feb. 13, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

A bill that would bring statewide mobile sports betting to Mississippi easily passed through the House of Representatives by a 109-5 vote last week. However, by the time of the vote, the bill had morphed from a Mississippi online sportsbooks legalization effort to creating a mobile sports betting task force. 

The text of HB 606 reads:

"[Creates a] Mobile-Online Betting Task Force to undertake a comprehensive analysis of all matters related to legalizing online betting, online gaming and/or online wagering for a fee within this state and to recommend the proper oversight and regulation of the online betting, online gaming and/or online wagering with a fee."

The 11-member task force must submit their recommendations to the legislature by Oct. 15, 2023. that timeline puts the legalization of statewide mobile betting off until 2024, at the earliest. 

Mississippi was one of the earliest states to launch sports betting following the repeal of PASPA, but operators are currently limited to retail betting and on-site mobile betting. 


‘Trust Isn’t There’ Between California Tribes, Online Bookmakers

Feb. 10, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

A path exists to legal mobile sports betting in California, but it’s a “very long” path, according to a tribal leader.

“Yes, there is a path, but it’s very long,” Victor Rocha, editor of Pechanga.net, tweeted this week. “The trust isn’t there.”

Apparently, this was about the strained relationship between California tribes and national online bookmakers such as FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM.

These national companies backed a measure on last November’s statewide ballot that would have legalized mobile sports betting. The tribes opposed that measure, instead seeking voter approval for in-person sports betting at tribal casinos and four horse tracks.

Both ballot measures failed. Attack ads left each side bruised. 

Tribal leaders say national online bookmakers can’t come into California again and overlook the tribes.     

“It’s going to take time for the stench of this mess to dissipate,” Jacob Mejia, director of public affairs for Pechanga Development Corp., told Gambling.com last year.

In his tweet this week, Rocha implied an opportunity exists in California for the online bookmakers that didn’t participate in last year’s bruising ballot fight.


Illinois Is The 5th State To Introduce An Online Gambling Bill

Feb. 10, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Illinois has joined the list of online casino candidate states in 2023. But just like the other members of the small list, the Land of Lincoln has a long way to go before it joins the current group of legal online casino states.

State Sen. Christina Castro introduced SB 1656 on Feb 8. The legislation would legalize online casino gambling through existing casinos and racetracks. Each potential licensee could launch up to three online skins, allowing plenty of Illinois online casinos to go live. 

Illinois joins Indiana, Maryland, Kentucky, and New Hampshire as states with active online gambling bills. 

If legalized, Illinois would join Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, and Connecticut as states with legal online casino and/or poker. 


A Solution To The Expired California Cardroom Moratorium Emerges

Feb. 10, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

California cardrooms and tribes have long been at odds when it comes to gambling in the Golden State. With the 25-year moratorium on new cardrooms ending, the two sides are again on opposite sides of the issue. Although, this time, larger cardrooms, are on the side of tribes, as the moratorium has prevented competitors from entering the market. 

With the moratorium ending, the California Bureau of Gambling Control (CBGC) started an application process for new licenses. 

A new bill (AB 341), introduced by Assemblymember James Ramos would reinstate the moratorium, but with a compromise solution that many cardrooms support. 

Per the legislation, small cardrooms can add two tables, and then two more tables every four years until they reach a 10-table cap. The bill would also invalidate any new licenses issued in 2023.

The California Cardroom Association (CCA) supported the bill in a statement:

"We appreciate the leadership of Assemblymember Ramos in bringing together cardrooms and tribal casinos with the introduction of a balanced legislative proposal. Assembly Bill 341 addresses the need for an expansion of tables at California cardrooms while maintaining a cardroom license moratorium that has been in place for decades. We look forward to working with the tribal community, the State Legislature and the Governor’s Administration to pass a measure that supports communities across California.” 


2 Massachusetts Sportsbooks Took Illegal Wagers During First Week

Feb. 10, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Massachusetts sports betting is in its infancy, but two of the state's three retail betting operators have already caught the eyes of regulators after taking bets on Massachusetts' colleges during the first week of legal sports betting.

Per Statehouse News Service, "Encore Boston Harbor accepted wagers on a Boston College women's basketball game and Plainridge Park Casino took action on a Merrimack College men's basketball game."

Both sportsbooks self-reported the violations, which appear to be due to a vendor error. 

"Due to a data input error by one of our vendors, we notified and self-reported a violation to the MGC. We regret that this mistake happened, take full responsibility, and have added several remedial steps to our compliance process to help prevent this from happening again," Plainridge Park General Manager North Grounsell said.

The violations came to light during an MGC hearing. Regulators are determining their next steps - precedent in other states would indicate a fine. 


Massachusetts Regulators Set A March 10 Mobile Betting Launch Date 

Feb. 9, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

This morning the Massachusetts Gaming Commission announced the state's long-awaited mobile sports betting launch date, which will take place on Friday, March 10, according to MGC Executive Director Karen Wells.

The launch will give the state's mobile sports betting operators several days of lead time for the NCAA Tournament, one of the biggest events on the sports betting calendar. 

The MGC has approved the following mobile sports betting apps:

  1. Bally Bet
  2. Barstool
  3. BetMGM Sportsbook
  4. betr
  5. Betway
  6. Caesars Sportsbook
  7. DraftKings Sportsbook
  8. Fanatics Sportsbook
  9. FanDuel Sportsbook
  10. PointsBet Sportsbook
  11. WynnBET Sportsbook

Illinois Bills Take Aim At Responsible Gambling Standards 

Feb. 9, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Illinois is a top sports betting market, and lawmakers are starting to look at the negative impacts of its success. 

A new bill (HB 2204) would add gambling disorders to the Substance Use Disorder Act.  

“… In provisions requiring the Department of Human Services to establish a public education program regarding gambling disorders, requires the program to (i) promote public awareness to create a gambling informed State regarding the impact of gambling disorders on individuals, families, and communities and the stigma that surrounds gambling disorders and (ii) use screening, crisis intervention, treatment, public awareness, prevention, in-service training, and other innovative means to decrease the incidents of suicide attempts related to a gambling disorder or gambling issues…” 

A separate bill (SB 1508) would enact one of the most proactive intervention policies in the country, as it requires operators to display a pop-up message with problem gambling links after every 10 bets a player makes. 

“Amends the Sports Wagering Act. Provides that the Illinois Gaming Board shall require an online sports wagering licensee to, after every 10 wagers made online by an individual, display a pop-up message directing that individual to websites on gambling addiction help.”

SB 1508 is far more controversial. Even problem gambling advocates have stated concerns about this level of hectoring. As Responsible Gambling consultant Jamie Salsburg recently wrote about interventions:

“How will we know if the intervention is successful?… Are you sure they are going to want to hear from us? Like really? Won’t they be pissed off and angry? What do we do if they start yelling at us? Is it possible it might set them off even more? Could it act as a trigger to gamble even more?”


Public Hearing On Missouri Sports Betting Bills 

Feb. 8, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Two sports betting bills are up for discussion today during a public hearing in the House Emerging Issues Committee:

  • HB 556 – Dan Houx
  • HB 581 – Phil Christofanelli

Even if the hearing focuses on the issue at hand, there is the elephant in the room, and the elephant’s name is VLTs – the issue that derailed Missouri’s sports betting efforts last year. 

In the Senate, Sen. Denny Hoskins has introduced sports betting legislation that includes VLTs.

Until Missouri lawmakers resolve the VLT issue (casinos are vehemently opposed), it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the legislature to pass any gambling expansion. 


Sports Betting, Casino Bills Introduced in Texas

Feb. 7, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

Nationwide, sports betting is not allowed in the three most populated states — California, Texas and Florida.

But a push is underway in Texas to legalize sports betting and, to a limited degree, commercial casino gambling.

Below are a half dozen bills introduced so far at the Capitol in Austin to expand gaming in the Lone Star State:

  • HJR 97 by Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth
  • HJR 102 by Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano
  • HB 1942 by Leach
  • SJR 17 by Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston
  • SJR 39 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham
  • SB 715 by Kolkhorst

Some of these measures would authorize mobile sports betting.

A number of prominent Texans, including Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, contend legal sports betting is inevitable in the Lone Star State. 

However, Houston furniture store owner Jim McIngvale, a multimillion-dollar sports bettor known as Mattress Mack, told Gambling.com he doubts sports betting and commercial casino gambling will be legalized in the near future because of opposition from religious groups.

The legislative session began Jan. 10 and is set to end May 29.


The U.S. Legislative Landscape - Feb. 7, 2023

Feb. 7, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Our weekly look at legislative efforts and launch updates in the U.S. online gambling space. 

State Legislative Update
Maine As Maine inches towards its sports betting launch (between August 2023 and January 2024), advertising restrictions have become controversial . Will these debates slow down the launch? It remains to be seen.
Massachusetts On-site sports betting began on Jan. 31 in Massachusetts without issue, per Massachusetts regulators. The target is early March (before the March 14 start of the NCAA men’s March Madness basketball tournament) for the launch of mobile betting.
Georgia Georgia will soon have competing sports betting measures. SB 57 seeks to legalize sports betting through the Georgia Lottery. Under the bill, retail and mobile betting are permitted, with as many as 18 mobile licenses available. Half (9) are reserved for in-state professional sports teams, the PGA, and venues, like Augusta National (The Masters) and Atlanta Motor Speedway (NASCAR). A separate effort is expected to drop very soon. It will include sports betting with land-based casinos and parimutuel horse racing.
Minnesota State Sen. Jeremy Miller plans to introduce legislation legalizing sports betting in the state. Miller's proposal would see tribes hold a monopoly on mobile betting, but commercial racetracks and professional sports teams can offer retail betting alongside the state's tribal casinos. A separate bill from Rep. Zach Stephenson is also expected to be introduced soon.
Mississippi Mississippi is exploring the possibility of statewide mobile betting. Three House bills to allow off-site mobile sports betting have been introduced.
New York New York is very keen on online casinos. State Sen. Joseph Addabbo told Gambling.com he intends to introduce a bill to legalize iGaming, with licenses tethered to commercial casinos. New York has four upstate casinos, with three downstate casino licenses currently up for grabs. Assemblyman Gary Pretlow has already introduced two iGaming bills. One legalizes online poker by classifying it as a skill game. The other is an online casino bill that he sponsored last year.
Indiana Indiana’s efforts to legalize online casinos and online poker have hit a snag. Sources have identified three stumbling blocks in the Hoosier State: VGTs, cannibalization concerns, and a lack of good data on the size of the offshore market.
Texas Bills were filed to legalize mobile sports betting in the Senate and House this week. These are in addition to previous legislation seeking to legalize retail sports betting with land-based casinos. A recent poll shows support among Texans for legal sports betting, but there are still strong pockets of resistance. If anything happens this year, it is likely to be retail-only.
North Carolina After a near-miss in 2022, Senate Leader Phil Bergman told the local press he believes there is enough support to pass a mobile sports betting bill this year.

Is 2023 The Year For North Carolina Mobile Betting?

Feb. 7, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

North Carolina gave mobile betting the old college try in 2022, but the effort fell short by the slimmest of margins. With 26 new members in the House and 12 new state senators, there is some hope that 2023 will produce a different result. 

Speaking to the Carolina Journal, Senate leader Phil Berger thinks there is enough support to pass mobile betting in 2023.

In a June survey, VIXIO GamblingCompliance spoke with 600 likely voters in North Carolina about sports and sports betting. The results highlight the difficulties of passing a mobile betting bill in North Carolina. 

One of the interesting results was that just 33% of North Carolinians believe it violates religious and moral ethics. A plurality (46%) was more swayed by the argument that it undermines the integrity of college sports. A whopping 57% support retail betting but oppose mobile betting. 

these results should help shape arguments, and a very good piece of news was that after hearing the various arguments, 50% of respondents strongly or somewhat support legal sports betting. Only 39% opposed it. 


What’s Next in California for Sports Betting?

Feb. 6, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

This week at ICE London, a gaming technology convention, California tribal leaders plan to discuss the next step regarding legal sports betting in the nation’s largest state.

Victor Rocha, editor of Pechanga.net, says sports betting will come up at the Tribal Gaming Seminar on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at the ExCel London, Capital Suite, Room 17.

“We’re having an important conversation on California sports betting with tribal leadership,” he tweeted. “Don’t miss it.”

In November, California voters rejected two sports betting ballot measures. One would have legalized in-person sports betting at tribal casinos and four horse tracks. Another would have allowed statewide sports betting on mobile apps and computers.

Rocha and other tribal leaders have vowed to fight an expected effort in 2024 to legalize mobile wagering in California.


Online Casino Efforts In Indiana Hit A Roadblock

Feb. 6, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Indiana is seen as the nation's best bet to legalize online casinos and online poker in 2023. While it is still the top candidate, the Hoosier State's efforts have stalled out, with online gambling hearings delayed indefinitely. 

Per sources, the cause is a trio of things:

  1. Video Gaming Terminals inserting themselves into the conversation.
  2. Newfound cannibalization concerns among some potential stakeholders.
  3. A failure to highlight the size and scope of the iCasino black market.

Getting the state back on track before the legislature adjourns at the end of April is going to be a difficult, but not impossible, task. 


Is Tennessee Getting a Casino?

Feb. 3, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

A national cable news network recently reported that Memphis, Tennessee, is among cities with a casino or “plans to build one.” 

Currently, it is a mobile-only state with 13 Tennessee online sportsbooks offering apps to bettors wanting to wager on sports from football to cornhole. The nearest commercial casinos are in Tunica, Mississippi, and West Memphis, Arkansas.

So is a land-based casino or brick-and-mortar sportsbook coming to Tennessee soon? No, says Mary Beth Thomas, executive director of the Tennessee Sports Wagering Advisory Council. 

“A constitutional amendment would be required to permit casinos to operate in Tennessee,” she told Gambling.com this week. “I am unaware of any legislative change or movement to allow brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in Tennessee.” 


5 States Are Considering Online Poker in 2023

Feb. 3, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Within the first month of 2023, five states have introduced legislation to legalize poker:

  1. Kentucky – a gambling expansion package featuring sports betting, DFS, and online poker.
  2. Indiana – legislation legalizing online casinos and poker.
  3. Maryland – a bill to place online casinos and poker on the ballot.
  4. New Hampshire – A bill legalizing online casinos and poker.
  5. New York - (A 1380) A bill defining online poker as a game of skill.

that's the good news. 

The bad news is passage doesn't look promising outside of Indiana. And even Indiana has run into some speedbumps (VLTs and cannibalization concerns) that have delayed a hearing on its online gambling bill indefinitely.  


New Jersey Casino Smoking Ban Gets Legislative Hearing

Feb. 2, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

In New Jersey, legislators have scheduled a hearing to discuss a proposed ban on smoking in Atlantic City casinos. The hearing in Trenton is set for Feb. 13 in the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

Smoking is allowed on up to 25% of the casino floor in New Jersey, the Associated Press reported, but casino workers and health advocates are seeking a total ban. 

In other states, casino employees also are continuing to push for a smoking ban.


Sports Betting Is Technically Legal In Nebraska, But You Still Can't Bet

Feb. 2, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Nebraska legalized sports betting through a ballot referendum in November 2020. The state has taken its time to launch, considering it only allows retail betting. 

Technically, sports betting is now legal in Nebraska, following the publishing of official rules. But according to Nebraska Racing and Gaming Executive Director Tom Sage, the infrastructure is not in place to launch. 

Only two facilities meet the requirements to offer sports betting:

  1. WarHorse Casino in Lincoln
  2. Elite Casino Resorts in Grand Island

Minnesota Has A New Sports Betting Bill

Feb. 2, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Minnesota State Sen. Jeremy Miller plans to introduce legislation legalizing sports betting in the state. Miller's proposal would see tribes hold a monopoly on mobile betting, but commercial racetracks and professional sports teams would be able to offer retail betting alongside the state's tribal casinos. 

One interesting wrinkle is major sporting events (everything from the Super Bowl to the Big 10 Championships to WWE events) would be able to apply for a temporary on-site sports betting license. 

Minnesota was a darkhorse candidate to legalize sports betting in 2022 and were it not for the late addition of commercial racetracks to the mix, the state would likely be setting up its mobile sports betting rather than taking another bite at the apple in 2023.

Inside Scoop: Per sources, Miller's bill is unlikely to gain traction. We expect a second bill to be introduced by a Democrat lawmaker in the coming days. that bill is expected to be the vehicle for sports betting discussions this year. 


Does iGaming Hurt Brick-and-Mortar Casinos? No, FanDuel Says

Feb. 1, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

For years, Las Vegas casino owners, including the Sands’ Sheldon Adelson, opposed any form of online gaming. 

The thought was that a gambler using a computer or cellphone to bet on sports or play blackjack won’t bother driving to a traditional casino. 

At a brick-and-mortar casino, unlike a living room couch, a customer presumably would drop money not only at on-site table games and slot machines but also in restaurants, bars and gift shops.

That attitude still exists. To this day, Nevada bettors wanting to use a mobile sports wagering app have to register in person at a licensed gaming site. iGaming is illegal in the Silver State.

Outside Nevada, some casino operators have the same attitude.

At the G2E conference in Las Vegas last fall, Jay McDaniel, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, told Gambling.com that off-site mobile sports betting has had trouble winning approval at the Legislature in Jackson because casino operators are concerned that mobile wagering will keep customers from going inside casinos. Two of Mississippi’s 26 commercial casinos allow on-site mobile sports betting, but off-site wagering is illegal, as is iGaming.  

No Harm Done: Geneski

This week during a New York legislative hearing in Albany, FanDuel Group President Christian Genetski addressed concerns that iGaming will hurt the land-based casinos’ bottom line.

Mobile and in-person sports betting are already legal in New York, but iGaming is not.

Genetski told New York lawmakers that data from states with iGaming, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan, shows iGaming doesn’t cannibalize brick-and-mortar casinos. It helps, he said.

“It’s attracting a different kind of consumer to casinos that would never come before,” Genetski said. 

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Queens, told Gambling.com he hopes to win approval this year for an iGaming bill linking iGaming apps to land-based casinos.


Georgia Senators Introduce Standalone Sports Betting Bill

Feb. 1, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

A group of 11 Georgia senators has introduced a standalone sports betting bill (SB 57). The bill will likely compete with a separate, comprehensive bill to bring casinos and sports betting to the state via a constitutional amendment.

The standalone bill authorizes up to 18 mobile licenses, with nine reserved for professional sports teams and venues that host PGA and NASCAR events. The remaining licenses would be up for grabs in a competitive bidding process.

The measure calls for a 20% tax rate. The bill does not allow promotional deductions but does allow Georgia sports betting operators to deduct the federal excise tax from their tax obligations.

What sets SB 57 apart is it would bypass the constitutional amendment requirement by placing a wedge between traditional casino games of chance, and sports betting, which can be argued is a game of skill. That is accomplished by having the Georgia Lottery run sports betting, which has been argued can be done without a constitutional amendment. 


Texans Support Sports Betting, Big-City Casinos: Poll

Jan. 31, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

A University of Houston poll shows Texans support Senate Joint Resolution 17 to allow statewide sports betting, a casino in each of the four largest metro areas — Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth — and limited casino gambling at horse and dog tracks.

Those who support SJR17 include:

  • 69% of born-again Christians
  • 78% of people who do not identify as born-again Christians
  • 83% of Black, 77% of Latino and 73% of white Texans
  • 78% of men and 72% of women
  • 80% of Democrats, 74% of Independents and 72% of Republicans
  • 75% of urban Texans, 74% of rural Texans and 66% of suburban residents

The university’s Hobby School of Public Affairs conducted the online survey in English and Spanish from Jan. 9-19. In total, 1,200 Texans ages 18 and older participated in the survey. The margin of error is +/-2.8%.


Online Bookmakers, New York Legislators Dispute 51% Mobile Tax Rate, Support iGaming

Jan. 31, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

Executives from FanDuel and DraftKings urged New York legislators on Tuesday to lower the 51% tax rate on mobile sport betting revenue. Some legislators expressed concerns about lowering the rate.

Speaking at a legislative hearing in Albany, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins and FanDuel President Christian Genetski said the rate is too high and could lead to a falloff in wagering statewide.

That falloff could occur, Robins said, because of adjustments the bookmakers will have to make to survive in New York. Those adjustments include offering less favorable betting odds than neighboring states with mobile wagering. Such steps would drive bettors to illegal websites, he said.

‘Color Me Skeptical’

Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Queens, said it was “no secret” when mobile sports wagering began statewide in January 2022 that the tax rate would be 51%. He said it is a “hard argument” to make that a reduction would not hurt education funding.

Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D- Round Lake, said, “Color me skeptical,” regarding the idea that a lower rate will bring in enough new bettors to offset the lost revenue the state depends upon.

iGaming Support Urged

Also at Tuesday’s hearing, Robins and Genetski urged legislators to approve iGaming in New York.

Addabbo, who supports iGaming, said he will continue the discussion on that topic at a future date. He previously told Gambling.com he plans to push for legislation this year to legalize iGaming.

The hearing Tuesday was a fact-gathering session among members of both legislatives chambers. No votes were taken.


Hearing Scheduled For Maryland Online Gambling Bill 

Jan. 31, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Maryland lawmakers will hold their first discussions on a proposal to legalize online casinos and online poker. 

The hearing is scheduled for February 15 with the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

The proposal, (SB 267) was introduced by Sen. Ron Watson and Sen. Nancy King. If passed, it would put online gambling in the hands of Maryland voters on the 2024 ballot. 

Per the bill's synopsis:

Authorizing the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission to issue certain licenses to certain video lottery operators to conduct or participate in certain Internet gaming operations in the State; authorizing the Governor, on recommendation of the Commission, to enter into certain multijurisdictional Internet gaming agreements with certain other governments, subject to certain limitations; and submitting the Act to a referendum of the qualified voters of the State.


Massachusetts Retail Betting Launches Today

Jan. 31, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Mobile betting is still weeks away but beginning today at 10 AM Massachusetts bettors will have the option to place retail bets at one of three locations in the state.

  • Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, MA
  • MGM Springfield in Springfield, MA
  • Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, MA

All three locations will feature an on-site sportsbook and sports betting kiosks in other approved areas of the casinos.

  • Plainridge Park will start with a temporary Barstool-branded sportsbook with five betting windows and 18 kiosks.
  • MGM Springfield will boast a BetMGM Sportsbook sportsbook with eight betting windows, along with 18 kiosks.
  • Encore Boston Harbor's WynnBET Sportsbook Sportsbook features 10 betting windows, with 120 kiosks placed around the property.

Each location is bringing in former Massachusetts athletes and local personalities for the ribbon-cutting ceremonies and to place the historic first bets.  


New York’s 51% Mobile Sports Betting Tax Expected to Come Up at Hearing 

Jan. 30, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

In-person sports betting in Massachusetts begins tomorrow (Jan. 31) at 10 a.m. ET, but 30 minutes earlier, a separate event regarding sports betting kicks off in New York’s capital city, Albany.

At 9:30 a.m. ET, Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Queens, and Assemblyman. Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, are holding a legislative hearing on mobile sports wagering’s first year in New York and its impact on the state budget. In addition to the 51% tax on mobile sports betting, topics such as iGaming and downstate Las Vegas-style casinos might also come up.


New Hampshire Enters The Online Casino Conversation

Jan. 30, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Sen. Timothy Lang introduced a bill seeking to legalize online casinos and poker in New Hampshire. The legislation (SB 104) would license 3-5 online sites through a bidding process and run by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. This model is similar to the state's sports betting industry.  

The bill was discussed in the Ways and Means Committee on Jan. 25, but no vote was taken.

The bill will pit big national brands (the likely winners of the bidding process) against the state's small brick & mortar retail gambling establishments that fall under New Hampshire's "charitable gaming" law. 

The legislation is tied to an effort to create free in-state tuition at two-year colleges for eligible residents. 


Sports Betting Faces An Uphill Climb In Alabama 

Jan. 30, 2023 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Alabama Sen. Greg Albritton announced his plans to introduce legislation legalizing a state lottery, casinos, and sports betting once again, hopefully with a different outcome. 

A 2020 study painted a positive picture of gambling in Alabama. Gov. Kay Ivey supported a 2021 gambling package, and newly elected House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter is lukewarm to gambling expansion. Still, any gambling expansion in Alabama will take a Herculean effort. 

  • A constitutional amendment will be required, which means any effort will have to pass the legislature, the governor, and the residents.
  • According to AL.com, gambling bills are 0-180 since 1999. The 2021 package passed the Senate but was never considered by the House.
  • The state's electronic bingo halls (the only form of gambling in Alabama) are under fire from Attorney General Steve Marshall and the Alabama Supreme Court.

The new legislative session begins on March 7.