January PA Sports Betting Report Highlights Need For Mobile Wagering

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Pennsylvania sports betting generated a modest $32 million in January handle, begging a question: when is mobile coming?

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) released its January sports betting revenue report Friday. The state’s six sportsbooks held more than $2.6 million — roughly 8 percent — in revenue.

Hollywood, SugarHouse, and Rivers operated for the entire month of January. Parx, South Philly Turf Club, and Harrah’s all started their sportsbooks in January and reported partial months.

Examining the young PA sports betting market

With a nascent sports betting state like Pennsylvania, noise makes it dangerous to value small fluctuations too highly.

That said, doubling the amount of sportsbooks helped to double the amount of handle in PA sports betting. The three early movers combined to take about $16 million in handle in December.

Revenue proved strong for PA casinos in their first regular month as well. A total of $2 million in revenue equated to a 12.4 percent hold statewide.

Look next door and let’s talk mobile

The first two-plus months of PA sports betting took place entirely inside casinos and racetracks. That’s because state regulators continue to press pause on the launch of mobile sports betting.

New Jersey sports betting generated 80 percent of revenue from mobile and online platforms in January. For a state that pushed toward $400 million in handle with 11 live apps, that represents rapid growth.

Pennsylvania is one of the nation’s most populous states, with two large pro markets in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Every day without mobile could prove a lost opportunity in the Keystone State.

So when is PA going mobile?

Mobile wagering is legal in Pennsylvania per a 2017 law and state regulations. PGCB spokesman Doug Harbach told Legal Sports Report last month that a mobile launch timetable is undetermined:

“We continue to work with the casinos and their partners to get everyone licensed and equipment/software tested. Once the casinos are ready, we can launch.”

While March Madness appears a reasonable target, sources indicate to LSR that launch might not occur until April.

 

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New Hampshire Lottery Takes DOJ To Court To Stop Enforcement Of Wire Act Opinion

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This is a breaking story and will be updated.

The New Hampshire Lottery has filed suit in federal court against the Department of Justice to attempt to stop it from enforcing its new opinion about the Wire Act against lotteries.

“Today New Hampshire is taking action to protect public education in New Hampshire,” said Gov. Chris Sununu in a press release announced the court. “The opinion issued by DOJ puts millions of dollars of funding at risk, and we have a responsibility to stand up for our students.”

Later on Friday, the technology and service provider of the lottery — NeoPollard Interactive — also filed suit in federal

Lottery vs. the DOJ

The complaint in the US District Court for the District of New Hampshire comes just weeks after the DOJ said that the federal Wire Act applies to all forms of interstate gaming, not just sports betting. The opinion does not carry the force of law, but is meant as guidance for the DOJ as it pursues cases related to the Wire Act.

That opinion has worried many portions of the gaming sector, including lotteries whose business often crosses state lines.

The new opinion supersedes a 2011 DOJ opinion that declared the Wire Act only applied to sports betting, which had eased the minds of lotteries around the country. The 2011 opinion also led, at least in part, to the rise of legal intrastate online lotteries, online casino and online sports betting, all of which can potentially cross state lines because of the nature of the internet.

The NH Lottery “seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against the defendants,” according to the complaint:

NH Lottery v DOJ Barr Feb 15 2019 Complaint

More documents from the NH case

  • Declaration of Charlie McIntyre
  • Memo of Law
  • Motion for Speedy Hearing
  • Motion for Summary Judgment

Lottery provider lawsuit

NeoPollard, which handles the technology for the NH Lottery, put in its complaint against Barr and the DOJ:

01 – Complaint

Like the lottery itself, NeoPollard argues that the new opinion puts at risk nearly all currently legal forms of lottery:

As a result of the OLC’s erroneous change in position, gaming activities long thought to be lawful are now under threat of imminent criminal and civil prosecution. This includes not only making lottery products available to consumers for purchase via personal computers and mobile devices, but also traditional lottery sales via brick-and-mortar retail sales agents.

Why New Hampshire?

The court challenge likely came from New Hampshire because of a prior position of the First Circuit Court of Appeals which opined that the Wire Act only applies to sports gambling. That’s in addition to the legislative history of the 1961 law, which is generally accepted to be aimed at illegal sports wagering only.

The NHL lottery, in addition to traditional lottery products, has online lottery sales and also has designs on getting into sports wagering. The NH Lottery, in its complaint, notes the consequences of the new opinion regarding online sales:

The USDOJ’s reversal of the 2011 Opinion, without any further action or explanation, is also likely to have a chilling effect on banks accepting and processing these lottery-related transactions, which can effectively shut down this sales channel. This would result in a loss of approximately $6-8 million in education funding for New Hampshire.

The 2018 Opinion also has the potential to create catastrophic consequences for lotteries across the country and to jeopardize billions of dollars in state funding for good causesthat are supported by lottery activity that is authorized and legal in every state where it takes place.

The complaints names William Barr as the defendant; he was confirmed as Attorney General this week.

More from the Wire Act lawsuit

The NH Lottery says it fears it is acting illegally under a strict reading of the Wire Act opinion:

“The USDOJ’s reversal of the 2011 Opinion, coupled with statements that depart from long-standing non-use of the Wire Act to prohibit state-run lottery activity, now subject the NHLC and its employees and agents to criminal liability and prosecution.”

And later:

The defendant’s 2018 Opinion, coupled with its 90-Day Memo, make clear that the plaintiff and its agents face a credible threat of prosecution on an ongoing basis under 18 U.S.C. § 1084 for engaging in conduct that has otherwise been deemed lawful for decades and now risk substantial criminal and civil penalties for continuing to operate its state lottery activities.

The complaint notes two other cases in federal court saying that the Wire applies only to sports betting. It even says the US Supreme Court agrees, citing the opinion that led to the striking down of the federal ban on sports wagering outside of Nevada:

The United States Supreme Court has also indicated that this is the correct reading of the Wire Act. Murphy v. Nat’l Collegiate Athletic Assn., __ U.S. __, __, 138 S. Ct. 1461, 1483 (2018) (explaining that 18 U.S.C. § 1084, which “outlaws the interstate transmission of information that assists in the placing of a bet on a sporting event” and applies “only if the underlying gambling is illegal under state law,” helps advance “a coherent federal policy” that “respect[s] the policy choices of the people of each State on the controversial issue of gambling”).

Lots of pushback on the DOJ and the Wire Act

Just about no one outside of the DOJ has taken kindly to the new opinion, which has come under fire both for its legality and its creation.

Mulitple media reports have been finding links from the opinion to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp. The topic even came up in a House hearing questioning then acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

Other recent pushback on the opinion:

  • The president of New Jersey’s Senate asked the DOJ to rescind the opinion and also threatened legal action.
  • The New Jersey and Pennsylvania attorneys general raised their objections to the Wire Act opinion.
  • The North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries made its displeasure known.
  • MGM CEO Jim Murren said the opinion is unenforceable and that it could make things like Powerball illegal.

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Sports Betting Legislative Lasso: We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Rope

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Howdy, y’all!

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly roundup of all the sports betting goings-on in statehouses across the country. And there have been plenty of goings-on over the last week, including the addition of two more states to our map.

Here are the vitals for US sports betting right this instant:

  • States with regulated sports betting: 8
  • Jurisdictions pending launch: 3
  • States with bills on file: 29
  • Number of bills on file: 83

As always, we post those numbers with the disclaimer that they are probably outdated by the time you read them. More states and bills will no doubt be added to this fluid list over the coming weeks. (We’re looking at you, Michigan.)

Reminder: We update our sports betting bill tracker every single day just for you. And for us. But also for you.

New sports betting bills on file

Fans of this lasso who’ve been loyal readers since day one (two weeks ago) might notice that state counter increased by two this week. While a couple that considered 2018 bills have yet to refile again in 2019, one just did.

There’s also a brand new entry to the conversation for 2019: a midwestern state considering its first sports betting bill.

Maryland sports betting without referendum?

Lawmakers in Maryland dipped their toes in the water last year with proposals for a voter referendum that never materialized. This year, a pair of Republican representatives look to bypass that process altogether.

Del. Jason Buckel and Del. Kevin Hornberger are pushing a bill (H 1132) that would expand the state lottery program to include sports betting, a la Delaware and Rhode Island. The state would administer the industry and provide licensure to the six racetracks and six VLT operators, including Maryland Live! and MGM National Harbor.

Whether or not this approach sticks remains to be seen, but it does have key support from the Senate president. There are also three mostly matching bills on file proposing a 2020 referendum:

  • H 739
  • H 963
  • S 470

All of these bills will be considered in committee hearings on March 6 — the House bills in Ways and Means and the Senate bill in Budget and Taxation.

Minnesota sports betting bill finally drops

Rep. Pat Garofalo has been threatening to introduce a sports betting bill for a couple of years, even while the federal ban was still on the books. With PASPA now gone and appetite building across the midwest, the time has come in Minnesota.

The inaugural MN sports betting bill is not yet listed as filed, but we know what’s in it.

Garofalo held a news conference Wednesday, arriving with a briefcase full of draft copies to distribute to the press. His proposal would allow the state’s 19 tribal casinos to offer on-site sports betting, including via mobile devices.

Taxes and fees would be manageable, and there are no provisions for an integrity fee or the use of official league data.

Passage will primarily hinge on the support of tribes, which historically has been hard to come by. Garofalo has long maintained he would not file legislation without all stakeholders on board, however, so this step could be cause for optimism.

The sponsor considers his bill a favorite to pass during the current biennial session, but 2020 seems more likely than 2019.

This week in sports betting hearings

Did you spend your whole week watching committee hearings so you could keep your own bill tracker updated? You didn’t?! Well you’re in luck, because we did.

Here’s a rundown of the states in which sports betting recently came  up for discussion.

Indiana sports betting bills in committee

A measure that would legalize Indiana sports betting cleared its first committee stop this week.

The bill from Sen. Mark Messmer and Sen. Jon Ford (S 552) proposes a medium-sized expansion of the state’s regulated gambling industry. It would, in addition to authorizing a new casino near Terre Haute, legalize sports betting at all wagering facilities statewide.

That list currently includes 13 riverboat casinos, two race track casinos, and several off-track betting parlors.

The Committee on Public Policy considered the bill first, passing an amended version off to Appropriations with a 10-0 vote Monday. The former also has a more limited IN sports betting bill (S 439) — authored by the same two senators — still sitting on its desk.

Montana sports tabs, pools, coin flipping

It’s not exactly sports betting, but a proposal to legalize sports pools in Montana is finding some traction.

Sen. Mark Blasdel introduced his bill (S 25) late last year, and it quickly cleared the Senate once the 2019 session began. This week, the Business and Labor Committee for the lower chamber took up the bill in a scheduled hearing.

No vote is recorded, but context on the legislature’s website seems to indicate passage onto a second committee.

Bonus fact: This bill also includes provisions that would allow nonprofit organization to conduct legal, regulated “heads or tails” coin-flipping games — just not over the internet.

But wait, there’s more. Another bill (H 475) popped up in the House this week which would allow pari-mutuel sports betting under the oversight of the Montana Board of Horse Racing. It was only introduced by Rep. Brad Tschida on Thursday, so it has not yet seen any action.

LSR has also learned that Blasdel is working to draft a separate bill that would legalize full-scale MT sports betting.

What’s up with Washington sports betting?

A surprise effort in Washington got a quick mention last week, but we have enough to dig a little deeper this time around. Two WA sports betting bills, actually, have appeared over the past few days.

Rep. Eric Pettigrew is the primary sponsor of one (H 1975), which would allow legal sports betting via the state’s 28 tribal casinos. Like that Minnesota bill, this one allows for online/mobile betting only within the walls of those venues.

The sponsor presented his proposal during a public hearing before the Commerce & Gaming Committee on Thursday.

The executive director of the Washington Horse Racing Commission was among those who testified in opposition during the hour-long meeting. According to Doug Moore, however, the commission would support efforts to legalize sports betting which include the state’s horse racing industry.

He and the majority of stakeholders stand behind the second WA sports betting bill (H 1992), instead.

The committee took no action on H 1975, so both House bills remain with the committee for the time being.

Looking ahead

There is, as you can probably tell, a lot to monitor on a day-to-day basis. In the spirit of trying to get ahead, here’s what the calendar shows for the upcoming week:

  • Feb. 18: Missouri (S 44) — On tentative Senate calendar for perfection
  • Feb. 19: District of Columbia (Bill 23-25) — Council vote
  • Feb. 19: New Hampshire (S 310) – Senate Finance Committee

Uh, what else? It seems like there’s a fair chance we forgot about something somewhere, but … maybe just let us know on Twitter if we did? We’ll try to remedy any oversights when we do this again next week.

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State Senate Moves Rhode Island Sports Betting One Step Closer To Mobile

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Rhode Island is the smallest state in the nation, but it’s still inconvenient to have to drive to one of its two casinos to bet on sports.

The state Senate took a step toward enhancing the Rhode Island sports betting industry Wednesday by voting to allow mobile wagering within the state through the Twin Rivers casinos.

Following a 31-4 vote, the bill goes to the House. It is expected to get a vote later this month, House Communications Director Larry Berman told WPRI.

If the bill passes the House, it would go to Gov. Gina Raimondo‘s desk for a signature. Raimondo already showed her support by including $3 million in revenue from mobile RI sports betting in the budget.

The House also has a mobile wagering bill sponsored by Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.

How Rhode Island mobile betting would work

Last year, Rhode Island authorized sports betting at the state’s two Twin River casinos, located in Lincoln and Tiverton.

The bill contains a provision requiring in-person registration at a Twin River property for a mobile account. Bettors then would be able to wager from anywhere in the state, as verified by geofencing technology.

This is the method of registration used in NevadaNew Jersey has shown there are economic benefits in fully remote registration, though. The state generated about 80 percent of revenue from mobile in January.

Rhode Island sports betting generated $13 million in handle and more than $957,000 in revenue in December. The Boston area is roughly an hour-long drive from the Tiverton property, the closest option in New England.

Why mobile for RI sports betting?

Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio, explained to WJAR the reasoning for adding mobile wagering:

“The new in-person sportsbook that opened in November has been very popular, with lines sometimes stretching out the doors. It is an entertainment option that many Rhode Islanders enjoy, and visitors from outside the state are also flocking to our gaming facilities to place their wagers on sporting events.

“Expanding to mobile gaming would provide a convenient option for those wishing to enjoy this form of entertainment, and open up the economic benefits beyond the walls of Twin River.”

Rhode Island sports betting limited to casinos

WPRI indicated that during a floor debate, one of the no voters voiced objection to limiting mobile wagering to existing casinos.

“We would be giving a monopoly on online sports gambling to an existing business, Twin River, creating a monopoly in the state of Rhode Island,” said Sen. Sam Bell. “And this is America, we are supposed to be a free market economy where we have free market competition.”

Rhode Island sports betting runs through the state’s lottery per last year’s bill, in part to avoid constitutional restrictions on gaming expansion.

When Rhode Island authorized legal sports betting last year, some lawmakers suggested an expansion to mobile would require voter approval.

To get around that, the new bill requires that servers be located on the hosting facility’s premises. That provision is notable in light of confusion caused by the new Wire Act opinion from the Department of Justice.

 

 

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SportTechie’s State Of The Industry Conference To Address US Sports Betting

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This year’s SportTechie’s State Of The Industry (SOTI) conference takes place February 27-28 at Barclays Center in New York.

The inaugural conference took place in February last year. Since then, US sports radically changed with state-regulated legal sports betting rolling out across the country.

At the beginning of 2018, esports was the trending topic, with massive growth forecasts exciting the industry. This year, sports betting is now front and center.

MLB takes the stage

Keynote speaker for 2019 is Rob Manfred, Commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB).

The participants in this year’s SOTI are drawn from far and wide across the sports industry, and the one thing they all want to understand is how sports betting changes their worlds.

SOTI’s agenda and speaker lineup suggest they will be in the right place.

SOTI 2019 Agenda

After Manfred’s keynote conversation, the agenda moves swiftly on to “Advances in Sports Betting Technology.”

The issues up for discussion will cover “the salient issues for fans, teams, leagues and vendors, from OTT streaming tech, to data capture and retention.”

Expert panelists are:

  • Scott Butera, President of Interactive Gaming at MGM
  • Scott Kaufman-Ross, SVP, Head of Fantasy and Gaming at NBA
  • Seth Young, CIO at PointsBet
  • Moderor: Joe Lemire, Senior Writer at SportTechie

Athletes Voice

SportTechie’s Athletes Voice series takes the athletes’ perspective on technology.

  • Shawn Springs, NFL Pro Bowl CB and Founder & CEO at WindPact

Forecasting the Future

The session will examine the use of biometrics, artificial intelligence and virtual reality. The panelists will discuss their possible effects on training, playing and producing sports.

  • Lorin Hamlin, Innovation Partnerships at Under Armour
  • Albert Mundet, Head of Innovation Hub at FC Barcelona
  • Jasmine Robinson, Director at Causeway Media Partners
  • Moderator: Shawn Bryant, Managing Director, Sports at Intel

The Future of Sports Media Consumption and Production

New technologies such as streaming, OTT and digital media changed the way fans consume sports programming. Massive shifts in the sports content industry have ramifications for the future of live sports.

  • TJ Adeshola, Head of U.S. Sports Partnerships at Twitter
  • Shaka Arnon, Head of Business Development at WSC Sports Technologies
  • Zach Leonsis, SVP, Strategic Initiatives & General Manager at Monumental Sports & Entertainment
  • Moderator: Rich Greenfield, Media Futurist at BTIG Research

Quick Hitter – “Sport at the Service of Humanity”

What executives at teams, leagues and brands need to know about environmental sustainability in sport, from energy use to waste management, water conservation and food services.

  • Allen Hershkowitz, Environmental Science Advisor at NY Yankees

Gamification of Sports Consumption

How technology in the digital realm informs decisions on the field and at the venue in traditional sports, and vice versa.

  • Sohrab Farudi, CEO at Fan Controlled Football League
  • Noah Syken, VP, Global Sponsorships (Sports and Entertainment) at IBM
  • Gillian Zucker, President of Business Operations at Los Angeles Clippers
  • Moderator: Cynthia Frelund, Predictive Analytics Expert at NFL Network

Quick Hitter – The interactive nature of Twitch

How does the unpredictability of shared viewer interaction resonate with a certain audience? How does that compare with the traditional sports viewing experience and how are content producers adjusting?

  • Jane Weedon, Director of Business Development at Twitch

Tracking Athletes 2.0

From wearables to cameras, an endless array of information is being generated: internal versus external, personal versus positional, biometrics versus biomechanics.

  • Will Ahmed, Founder & CEO at WHOOP
  • Ryan Kaplan, VP of Business Content and Operations at FanDuel
  • David Lehanski, SVP, Business Development and Innovation at NHL
  • Moderator: Marques Colston, NFL Super Bowl Champ and Founder at Dynasty Digital

Registration is open (last year attendance was by invitation only) and full details are available at the SportTechie website.

The post SportTechie’s State Of The Industry Conference To Address US Sports Betting appeared first on Legal Sports Report.

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You Can’t Handle The Truth About New Minnesota Sports Betting Bill

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A new Minnesota sports betting bill takes a unique approach to handling the tax rate for the industry.

Rather than tax the gross gaming revenue for operators, legislation announced Wednesday by Rep. Pat Garofalo is the first in the nation to calculate tax obligations based on the total amount wagered.

Garofalo spoke to Legal Sports Report about why he chose to address the tax rate in this manner. He also discussed why he thinks it would set up Minnesota with the lowest tax rate on sports betting in the country.

Hold up: a tax on handle?

Garofalo’s bill, the Safe and Regulated Sports Gambling Act of 2019, proposes a 0.5 percent tax on handle. All other regulated sports betting markets in the US levy taxes based gross gaming revenue (GGR).

Garofalo contends that by taxing handle, casinos can have a particularly successful year in MN sports betting revenue without getting punished with higher taxes. He also expects that projections for handle will be more stable than projections on profits.

“Our focus is making this low cost and, in sports betting, revenues can be volatile,” Garofalo said. “This presents volatility to investors, and by making this very static, it provides more stability for them.”

How Minnesota sports betting tax stacks up

In 2017, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported a 5.1 percent hold for the state’s sportsbooks. That tracks with the state’s historical hold as well.

In sports betting terminology, what sportsbooks “hold” is the money from bets they win compared to the overall handle.

At 5 percent hold, the proposed tax rate of 0.5 percent on handle would equate to 10 percent of gross gaming revenue (GGR). This would be comparable to established regulated markets in the country.

Looking around the country for comparison

New Jersey has a tax rate of 8.5 percent on brick-and-mortar GGR, plus an additional 1.25 percent that goes to Atlantic CityWest Virginia and New York are right at 10 percent.

Nevada currently has the lowest tax rate in the country for sports betting at 6.75 percent of GGR. In calling Minnesota’s tax rate the lowest in the nation, Garofalo is considering that the hold in many states could be higher than 5 percent.

He points to New Jersey’s sports betting industry having close to an 8 percent hold in 2018 (approximately $1.2 billion in handle generating $94 million in revenue). A half-percent tax on handle with an 8 percent hold would equate to a 6.25 percent tax on GGR.

Lower than Nevada, yes, but it might be wishful thinking.

“With parlay and prop bets we’ll be offering, I think Minnesota casinos will be at 7 to 8 percent of the hold,” Garofalo said. “Based off that, we’d end up with the lowest tax rate in the nation.”

Will tribes ultimately get what they want?

The method for the MN sports betting tax rate might also just be about optics. A tax of 0.5 percent looks small, after all.

And it appears Garofalo is going to need to do everything possible to make sports betting appealing in order to earn support from tribal gaming interests.

The key takeaway is that Minnesota tribes want sports betting to take place only within their casinos.

In Minnesota, 11 federally recognized tribes operate 19 gambling establishments. Last year, Garofalo told LSR that he “would not submit a gambling bill the tribal casinos are opposed to.”

Support coming from tribes?

It appeared clear in how Garofalo deflected questions on where the tribes stood on the proposal, both in a press conference and to LSR, that they aren’t yet in support. Garofalo indicated that he gave a draft to tribes about 10 days before releasing it to the public.

“For close to a year, I’ve been listening to stakeholders and their concerns, and seeing mistakes that other states made,” Garofalo said. “At some point, you need to put pen to paper and put the bill out there for people to talk about.”

Bill appears crafted to please

It’s difficult to see how Garofalo could cater the bill more to tribal desires. He gave them exclusivity over sports betting, not allowing participation from the state’s two commercial racetracks or the state lottery.

He also limited the scope of wagering to the brick-and-mortar casinos. Mobile wagering would have to be on site.

And he wasn’t going to take away from tribal revenue by giving an integrity fee to professional sports leagues.

“I think it’s important that we listen to pro sports teams but, with this low-tax model, there simply isn’t enough to provide revenue streams to other entities,” Garofalo said.

Statewide mobile only if tribes approve

The language also specifies that tribes would enter into a new compact with the state for Minnesota sports betting rather than renegotiate current compacts. That is a can of worms most tribes in every state would resist opening.

Garofalo points out that authorizing Minnesota sports betting really is a two-step process. The legislature needs to create a law to allow for sports betting at tribal casinos, and then Gov. Tim Walz will have to negotiate sports betting compacts with the tribes.

He’s hoping tribal stakeholders will allow the bill to move, then work out final details with the governor.

Garofalo indicated that any future expansion of mobile wagering would be up to the tribes.

“Mobile gaming won’t be on the table unless tribal entities want it,” Garofalo said.

Garofalo knows how to parlay

Garofalo is the rare state legislator who admits a personal interest in seeing legal sports betting.

“I bet on sports all the time,” Garofalo said. “Not to brag, but I’ve done a pretty good job at it too.”

Garofalo said that he goes to Las Vegas at least a couple of times a year. He even said he might have even placed bets with online “Caribbean sportsbooks” in the past.

Regulating sports betting would be a way to keep Garofalo’s dollars, as well as those of countless other Minnesotans, in-state.

“Sports gambling is going to be legal in Minnesota,” Garofalo said. “I just can’t guarantee when.”

The post You Can’t Handle The Truth About New Minnesota Sports Betting Bill appeared first on Legal Sports Report.

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How A New Governor Could Help Connecticut Sports Betting Over The Hump

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A change in governors could be just what Connecticut sports betting needs to finally get up and running.

Last August, then-Gov. Dannel Malloy was rebuffed by the legislature when he requested a special session to approve a renegotiated compact agreement he discussed with the state’s Indian tribes.

As the new session gets into gear, Connecticut Rep. Joe Verrengia offered an explanation in a phone interview about last year’s resistance:

“I think what happened was, quite frankly, it was the will of the legislature to wait it out until we had a new governor. I wasn’t involved in those negotiations, but from what I gather one of the sticking points was there was an issue over a mobile platform and what it would look like.

My understanding is the mobile platform being discussed was restricted to brick-and-mortar within tribal reservations, and not a statewide mobile platform.”

Connecticut’s gaming landscape

Connecticut could have been one of the first states to offer sports betting after the PASPA ruling. However, a 2017 law that authorized the adoption of regulations in the event of a change in federal law went ignored due to complications with tribal gaming.

The state has two tribal casinos: Foxwoods (operated by the Mashantucket Pequot) and the Mohegan Sun (Mohegan). The tribes indicated they want to offer sports betting, but believe they should have an exclusive right in the state.

Last year, George Jepsen, the previous state attorney general, countered with a written opinion. Jepsen wrote that current compacts do not allow the tribes to offer sports betting without further legislative approval, nor do they provide them exclusivity to sports wagering.

Other stakeholders in the state include the lottery and off-track betting facilities, and Verrengia is in favor of an inclusive marketplace.

“When it comes to gaming in the state of Connecticut, whether it’s an expansion of casinos or sports betting, it’s not as easy as flipping a switch because of the compacts that are in place. I think it’s in the best interests for the state of Connecticut to work with various stakeholders to try to come to an amicable agreement.

I would say it’s highly unlikely for there to be legislative support that would allow for exclusivity for the tribes on sports betting.”

Governor needs to act before legislature

The first step toward authorizing Connecticut sports betting is the governor renegotiating compacts with the tribes that include it.

During his campaign, Gov. Ned Lamont indicated that authorizing sports betting would be a priority, and revenue could be used to cut property taxes.

Verrengia, who chairs the Public Safety and Security Committee, said Lamont already is engaging with the legislature on this issue. That makes Verrengia confident there’s a high probability a deal gets done.

“I’ve noticed a vast difference between the previous governor and Gov. Lamont,” Verrengia said. “His office reached out to me a number of times thus far to discuss sports betting, unlike the previous governor who was on the sidelines until the 11th hour.

“I think Gov. Lamont is more engaged in the process, working with different chairman and leaders in the legislature.”

Sports betting expected in budget

Lamont is presenting his budget to the full legislature Feb. 20. Verrengia expects plans for CT sports betting to begin coming into focus then.

“I’m pretty certain that we’ll see revenue streams that are related to sports betting in the upcoming budget,” Verrengia said. “I think the political will is there to get it done sooner rather than later.

“It’s just a matter of renegotiating the compacts and allowing for additional stakeholders to get a piece of the sports betting business.”

Finalizing the budget is expected to take until the end of the session on June 9, but a sports betting bill could pass sooner.

Territorial battle could ensue

While there is wide legislative support for CT sports betting, it could still get caught in political turmoil.

The bill introduced this year, S 665, while merely a placeholder, seems a strong indication that sports betting has immense legislative support. It was introduced by a bipartisan group of nine legislators led by Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney.

Verrengia points out this is going to be the tribal bill, introduced by senators from districts with tribal influence.

“This is really unlike any issue I’ve ever worked on in that this is not a Republican or Democrat issue here in the state of Connecticut,” Verrengia said. “It’s territorial. It all depends where you’re from. Sports betting could get tied up in the political arena as different factions are digging a line in the sand.”

Casinos also in the mix

There are issues around casino expansion where those lines could be drawn. The tribes want to jointly open a commercial casino outside their reservations in East Windsor. They got legislative approval in 2017, but the venture is caught up in legal issues.

Meanwhile, MGM Resorts wants to open the state’s first commercial casino in Bridgeport, the most populous city in Connecticut. Verrengia thinks this all needs to be resolved at once.

“I believe that sports betting should be a piece of an overall gambling policy for the state,” Verrengia said. “I think, one way or the other, the casino issue has to be addressed, sooner than later, while we still have sports betting on the table from a strategic negotiation standpoint.

“We need to all come together, get this worked out and move on.”

Chances for passage in Connecticut still good

While the stakeholder differences might make the chances to pass Connecticut sports betting seem bleak, Verrengia remains optimistic.

Despite the strife, all the stakeholders want sports betting. The governor and legislative leadership are in favor of making it happen.

“The positive thing is there really is a lot of support for sports betting,” Verrengia said. “It’s just a matter of how we’re going to get there.”

The post How A New Governor Could Help Connecticut Sports Betting Over The Hump appeared first on Legal Sports Report.

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NJ Sports Betting Sets New Record, Nears $400 Million In Wagers In January

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This is a developing story and will be updated.

New Jersey sports betting continued to grow despite less football to bet on in January.

The state’s sportsbook operators took more than $385 million in wagers last month, the biggest month in the short history of NJ sports betting. That figure reflects both online and retail sportsbook wagering, with the former accounting for almost 80 percent of total activity.

That’s up from $319 million in handle the state’s sports betting operators posted in December. Revenue was down a slight tick — $18.8 million in January vs. $21 million in December.

Breaking down New Jersey sports betting

Here’s a closer look at how each casino and its digital licensees fared in January 2019:

Property (Online) Digital Retail January Total December Total
Totals: $15,504,039 $3,270,901 $18,774,940 $20,814,222
Bally’s Wild Wild West (Caesars, 888) $260,290 $236,370 $496,660 $128,754
Borgata (playMGM) $41,897 $635,564 $677,461 $167,241
Golden Nugget N/A $27,287 $27,287 $82,532
Hard Rock (*combined retail/digital) N/A* $25,235* $25,235 N/A
Harrah’s N/A $20,615 $20,615 $215,971
Meadowlands (FanDuel, PointsBet) $5,850,117 $1,168,063 $7,018,180 $9,110,014
Monmouth Park (William Hill, SugarHouse) $1,171,980 $830,792 $2,002,772 $2,327,684
Ocean Resort (William Hill) $1,285,576 ($14,287) $1,271,289 $1,677,883
Resorts (DraftKings, BetStars) $6,893,983 $242,636 $7,136,619 $6,886,735
Tropicana $196 $98,626 $98,822 $217,408

NJ sports betting bucking a trend and growing

Using Nevada sports betting as a benchmark, the final three months of the year — when there is a lot of football to wager on — are usually the biggest in terms of total wagers.

While football is still being played in January, it’s down to just bowl games and the championship series in college, and playoffs in the NFL. That usually leads to less handle in Nevada.

That wasn’t the case in New Jersey, as it easily surpassed December’s and November’s numbers for handle. That’s partially due to the fact that the industry is still new and growing, and continues to add operators.

Looking at history as a guide

Just four years ago, Nevada sports betting handle in January hit $387 million; last year, Nevada had about $419 million in January wagers. So the days of Nevada having the catbird seat in terms of most sports betting could be numbered.

We also got a bit of a preview of the February numbers, as NJ sportsbooks took about $35 million in wagers on the Super Bowl. They ended up paying out nearly $5 million, putting them in the red for the game.

It will be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out. Nevada betting handle is usually dominated by wagering on the Super Bowl — usually around 30 to 40 percent of all wagering February — but it might be a relatively small chunk of overall activity in NJ.

It’s still FanDuel, DraftKings, and everyone else

The leaders in the market continue to be the same every month: DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.

Revenue in NJ is broken down by license holder. Both the Meadowlands (which includes FanDuel’s retail sportsbook and app) and Resorts Atlantic City (DraftKings) were around $7 million in revenue for online and retail combined.

Resorts includes BetStars NJ in its total and Meadowlands includes new operator PointsBet, but both are accounting for a small percentage of revenue and wagers under their respective licenses. Sources indicate to LSR that FanDuel and DraftKings comprise 90 to 95 percent of digital revenue for their licensors.

“It was another great month for bettors with College Bowl season and the NFL Playoffs, and the first month where customers had access to live in-app streaming of the Australian Open,” a FanDuel statement reads in part.

Break out the calculator

Doing some quick math, that means that the rest of the revenue — less than $5 million — split among a lot of different sportsbooks.

  • Monmouth Park ($2 million) and Ocean Resort ($1.3 million) — both powered by William Hill — were the only other books with seven figures in revenue.
  • MGM Resorts-owned Borgata continues to underperform at under $700,000 in revenue, despite the fact that it dominates land-based casino revenue. Borgata has a less-than-optimal retail sportsbook (a converted racebook) and its online app is well behind many others in terms of quality.
  • The new retail book from Hard Rock AC ($25K revenue) appeared on the report for the first time and already surpassed Harrah’s ($20K).

The post NJ Sports Betting Sets New Record, Nears $400 Million In Wagers In January appeared first on Legal Sports Report.

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Minnesota Sports Betting Gets A Big Push, But Will Tribes Give Their Blessing?

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Tribal casinos in Minnesota might be next on deck for regulated sports betting.

On Wednesday, Rep. Pat Garofalo unveiled a new MN sports betting bill as part of a press conference in the capital. Garofalo has been the primary spark for related discussions in Saint Paul over the past year, an effort which has finally spawned a piece of proposed legislation.

The bill has both a title and a logo:

Garofalo noted that he has shared the bill with “multiple tribal entities” after drafting it more than a week ago. He plans to introduce it formally when lawmakers return to work on Thursday.

Read the bill here.

What’s in the MN sports betting bill?

The MN sports betting bill proposes language to define and legalize “sports pools” within state lines. It would create a new five-member Minnesota Sports Wagering Commission to promulgate rules and regulations for the tribal casinos.

There are currently 11 federally recognized tribes in the state which operate a total of 19 gambling establishments. Under the provisions, those properties would be the only ones that could seek licensure.

While the bill lays out the minimum betting age of 18 years old, it puts many of the decisions over implementation in the hands of regulators. Not everything is left to the commission, though.

Garofalo’s bill only permits on-site mobile wagering platforms and retail sportsbooks, but it does expressly allow betting on any professional or NCAA D-I sporting event. There is no mention of an integrity fee or any other allocation to the sports leagues.

The license fee is not yet listed, and the only tax proposed is an excise levied at 0.5 percent of handle. That would generally work out to around 10 percent of revenue, presuming a typical hold of around 5 percent. If passed, Minnesota would be the first US state to calculate tax obligations based on the total amount wagered rather than revenue.

The federal government, of course, collects its own handle-based excise tax of 0.25 percent.

Odds of MN sports betting passing?

As the primary stakeholders in the Minnesota gambling industry, tribes have significant leverage with lawmakers.

In April of last year, Garofalo told LSR that he would not submit sports betting legislation that did not have their support. Perhaps that’s why his previous draft legislation went un-filed.

Though the tribes’s stance on this 2019 proposal remains unclear publicly, Garofalo’s press conference creates cause for optimism.

Echoing his sentiments to LSR in both 2017 and 2018 — while PASPA was still on the books — the sponsor reiterated his motivations for this long-standing effort in a recent interview with KARE.

“The primary benefits to Minnesotans from legalizing sports gambling is that you defund the criminal enterprises of the nation. You eliminate a revenue stream for potential money laundering.”

Garofalo believes his bill is a favorite to pass during the current session, though he admits it’s an underdog for this calendar year. The 2019 half of the two-year lawmaking session ends on May 21.

As for statewide online/mobile betting? Maybe later.

“Right now, the easiest way to get a law passed is to limit it to certain sites. And then we can address the issue of mobile and other platforms at some point in the future.”

The post Minnesota Sports Betting Gets A Big Push, But Will Tribes Give Their Blessing? appeared first on Legal Sports Report.

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No Sports Betting For You? Bill Seeks To Ban Wagering By New Mexico Lottery

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New Mexico is a state known for its conspiracy theories, but an author of a bill prohibiting the state lottery from offering sports betting tells Legal Sports Report that the legislation is as simple as it seems.

The legislature wants to rein in the New Mexico Lottery Authority from plans for a new game that would be tied to the outcome of sporting events. The bill comes as one tribe has already started offering sports wagering in the state.

The bill, H 441, wouldn’t limit current tribal rights to offer sports betting or impact any future legislative expansion of the activity, according to Rep. Matthew McQueen, who is a sponsor along with colleagues Jason C. Harper and Rod Montoya.

“This is just telling the lottery authority that we created the lottery to do lottery games, not sports betting,” McQueen said. “They’re trying to expand, and we’re trying to keep them focused on their given authority.”

Little New Mexico lottery with big plans

The New Mexico lottery board voted unanimously to approve the sports betting game for all its retail outlets in October. It is described as a parlay-like wager involving the possible outcomes of at least three sporting events.

Lottery CEO David Barden projected that the game would generate $30 million in revenue a year, with $9 million going to the lottery-funded tuition-assistance program for college students.

Barden told the Albuquerque Journal that the goal was to make the lottery attractive to younger people. “It’s not your grandmother’s lottery game,” he said.

The bill also seeks to thwart three more money-making ventures for the lottery: A Play at the Pump program that allows lottery ticket purchases at gas pumps, video lottery terminals, and any lottery purchases on a mobile platform.

Tribal gaming unaffected

Although New Mexico hasn’t passed legislation authorizing sports betting, the Pueblo of Santa Ana tribe opened a sportsbook at its Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel in October.

The tribe decided it was already within its purview to offer sports betting because there is no state law that prohibits it and the tribal compact authorizes all Class III games. Tribes in New Mexico have exclusive rights to the category of gaming under which sports betting falls.

McQueen noted that the new bill would not interfere with the tribal casino offering sports betting, nor is it meant to preserve tribal exclusivity to offer sports wagers in the state.

“That’s not the purpose of the bill, just the effect,” McQueen said.

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