Maybe Golden Nugget Will Accept NBA Bets In New Jersey After All

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A new NJ sports betting bill would lift an NBA betting ban that stifled the first year of wagers at Golden Nugget in New Jersey.

Mirroring bills in the New Jersey Assembly and Senate propose eliminating the restriction on those who own casinos and sports franchises. Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta, who founded Landry’s Restaurants and reportedly is worth $4.5 billion, owns the NBA’s Houston Rockets.

According to A5463:

Permits owner of 10 percent or more of member team of sports governing body to place or accept wagers on certain sports events in which other member teams participate.

Initially assigned to the Appropriations committee yesterday, the Assembly bill could be on the move but is in no rush, as New Jersey’s legislature meets throughout the year. A companion bill exists in the Senate as well.

Ban led to NJ sports betting market movement

Golden Nugget and online licensee BetAmerica are the only brands to suffer from the ban under current NJ sports betting law. Sponsored in the Assembly by Reps. Raj Mukherji and John Burzichelli, this new bill would allow NBA betting on all games not involving the Rockets.

Even if the bill becomes law this year, it appears too late to help Golden Nugget when the casino really needed it. SugarHouse Sportsbook jumped from Golden Nugget to Monmouth Park for its online NJ sports betting operation in October, in large part because SugarHouse could not offer NBA odds under Fertitta’s license.

Thankful for even the NBA

Even a blanket NBA ban looked better than what Golden Nugget faced a year ago. The original version of the NJ sports betting bill included a full ban on offering legal sports betting for owners of more than 10% of a franchise.

Golden Nugget lobbied for the removal of that restriction and won just a partial victory with the current state of affairs. The new bill would create a situation like the one under which Fertitta operates in Nevada, where the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas can offer NBA wagers not including the Rockets.

Golden Nugget trailing in revenue

With the NBA off the board, Golden Nugget stands at the back of the line in New Jersey sports betting revenue.

The Atlantic City casino generated less than $30,000 in overall revenue last month. That includes a loss of more than $16,000 in online sports betting — the vertical that accounts for more than 80% of NJ sports betting revenue in 2019.

In fact, Golden Nugget’s year-to-date sports betting revenue stands at less than $163,000. By comparison, market leader FanDuel Sportsbook accounts for the bulk of more than $53 million in sports betting revenue at Meadowlands Racetrack in 2019.

 

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NY Sports Betting Bill Clears Senate Hurdle, But Many More Await

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As New York Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. told Legal Sports Report earlier Monday, his NY sports betting legislation cleared the Senate on a 57-5 vote.

He also believes there is general support in the Assembly to pass the bill if leadership allows it to happen.

Addabbo indicated that he conferenced with Democratic senators on the NY sports betting bill at the end of last week to produce a few minor cosmetic changes to the language. He says that the updated S 17D will move through the Rules Committee today.

“The only reason I would like to see it on the floor today is to give the Assembly a little momentum, a little incentive,” Addabbo said. “If we do it today, it gives them Tuesday and Wednesday to do it. The sooner for us to do it, the better.”

The New York legislative session ends Wednesday.

NY sports betting fate in Assembly a bit shakier

Addabbo wasn’t as optimistic about the bill’s fate in the Assembly but said he hears there is general Democratic support for the bill.

“I can only be optimistic about my House, which I know for certain,” Addabbo said. “Assemblyman Pretlow, I believe, has done honorable work getting support for this bill. According to Assemblyman Pretlow, he has 76 Democratic supporters.”

There are 150 members of the Assembly and a simple majority is enough to pass legislation, meaning 76 supporters could be enough if they hold.

Wait just a minute …

But a bill can’t pass without Assembly leadership calling it for a vote. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has been a vocal opponent of previous efforts to expand gaming and gambling laws.

Heastie has not been friendly to previous online poker efforts in the Assembly, but Pretlow suggested last year that the Speaker is obligated to push forward a bill with 76 supporters from the majority party.

“If the speaker wants it, then they’ll do it,” Addabbo said. “If I show my leader that there’s a strong majority of my conference for a bill, he’ll bring it up on the floor. I think it’s the same thing in the other House.”

Governor still waiting at the end of the rainbow with an ax

If a NY gambling bill can make it through the Assembly for a change, it would go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has expressed reservations about the state constitutionality of mobile wagering all session long.

Just last week, Cuomo reiterated that he doesn’t think mobile wagering will get done this year.

Addabbo noted he has not been in recent discussions with the governor’s office and has no reason to believe he will change his mind, but thinks there is a benefit to putting the legislation on his desk.

“That’s the idea,” Addabbo said. “He can get a bill passed by the Senate and Assembly and then he has to make a decision to veto it, approve it, or maybe work with us on an administrative version of mobile.”

Sports betting bill faces a difficult path

Despite Senate passage, turning the NY sports betting bill into law this year remains unlikely.

Even the usually optimistic Addabbo did not feign much excitement for the bill’s ultimate prospects. He’s already talking about what will happen after it fails.

“After the session ends, we’ll regroup and see what direction to go in because jobs will be in jeopardy,” Addabbo said. “If we don’t infuse activity into the game situation here in the state, horse racing is hurting, OTBs are hurting – there are a number of places that will benefit from sports betting and, if we don’t do it, some jobs will be in jeopardy. I’d rather not see it.”

He spoke about letting the governor and lawmakers see how the state handles retail sports betting and then going forward from there.

New York recently finalized the rules for upstate casinos to offer sports betting on-site, but the existing law does not include mobile wagering. This bill would not only permit mobile wagering but authorize racetracks, off-track betting parlors and professional sports venues to have sports betting in partnerships with casinos.

“I can only be hopeful,” Addabbo said. “If we leave the session not doing it, it will leave $100 million on the table in revenue to the state, leave an illegal activity to continue in our state and our downstate residents to continue to go to New Jersey to partake in sports betting there.”

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The Week In Sports Betting News: Putting The Horses Back In The Barn, But Not In NY

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Bad news, cowboys.

With the busy part of the 2019 legislative calendar behind us, that lasso you love is becoming less germane by the week. A few states remain in contention to legalize sports betting this year, but we have a pretty good picture of where things will stand when it’s all done.

This should come as good news for longtime fans of the hereby-reinstated weekly recap that more broadly encompasses the US sports betting landscape. We’ll keep you in the legislative loop, of course, but we’re also welcoming back the good ol’ days where we do more than just watch 60 hours of hearings every week.

There’s quite a bit happening in markets that already have legal sports betting, too, as you might guess. If we remember how to do this, we’re supposed to start with a look back at the biggest headlines from last week. So let’s do that.

Now or later for NY sports betting

If New York lawmakers are going to legalize online sports betting, it’s going to have to happen now.

Matching bills from Sen. Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow are on the move in Albany, having cleared their committees of origin in both chambers. Apologies for starting with sports betting bills right out of the gate, but all eyes are fixed on NY sports betting from now until the legislature’s scheduled Wednesday adjournment.

Regulators recently finalized the rules for upstate casinos, but the existing law does not include mobile wagering.

Last week, though, the sponsors filed cleanup language that would authorize on-site and online betting via casinos, tracks, OTBs and professional sports venues. Eight states have legalized mobile betting to date, but only Illinois and the District of Columbia have similar provisions for stadiums and arenas.

Addabbo recently told LSR that the full Senate will vote on sports betting this week, which would be a first for either chamber. A similar effort by his predecessor, Sen. John Bonacic, never made it to the floor last year.

While NY lawmakers do have a habit of waiting until the last minute to deal with gambling issues, time is awfully tight. Both bills remain lodged in committee, and passage involves overcoming significant opposition in both the Assembly and the governor’s office.

NH sports betting coming soon

I swear we’re going to talk about things beyond sports betting bills, but we have to talk about New Hampshire first. It did the thing!

Lawmakers passed a bill to legalize NH sports betting last week, including statewide online wagering. The NH Lottery Commission will administer the product via up to 15 licensed agents — 10 retail and five online.

Apart from a prohibition against in-state collegiate markets, the rest of the legislation looks pretty good to our eyes.

There’s little doubt Gov. Chris Sununu will sign the bill either, considering his proposed budget includes $10 million in associated revenue. When he does, New Hampshire will join Rhode Island on the short list of New England states with legal sports betting.

The two largest markets in the region, Connecticut and Massachusetts, are both on the path but seemingly far from the finish line. Lawmakers in Maine, meanwhile, still have an outside chance to pass a bill this year too.

NJ sports betting > NV sports betting?

We can’t say for sure yet, but May might be the month New Jersey leapfrogs Nevada.

NJ sports betting operators handled $318.9 million in wagers during May, a slight uptick over April’s numbers. We don’t have an NV sports betting report for the month yet, but it needs to top its previous best of $315.5 million (2018) to retain the crown.

All of that handle turned into a win of $15.5 million for NJ sportsbooks, for a middling 4.8% hold. Total combined revenue is approaching $200 million since launch, the result of nearly $3 billion in wagers across the span of 11 months.

As far as trends go, it was more of the same for May.

FanDuel Sportsbook continues to set the pace, responsible for about half of the total revenue on its own. Early leader DraftKings Sportsbook has settled into its second-place role, and the top two drive more than 80% of online revenue — which is more than 80% of all revenue from NJ sports betting.

Lest you forget which industry is richer, NJ online casinos and poker sites added another $38 million to the bottom line in May. Golden Nugget won more by itself ($14 million) than all of the state’s online sportsbooks combined.

Wire Act update

Maybe this thing really is all about laws again.

By now, you probably know that New Hampshire challenged and defeated a new interpretation of the Wire Act in federal court. District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro issued a 60-page decision earlier this month squelching an attempt from the US Department of Justice to rope all forms of gambling into the statute.

“I hereby declare that § 1084(a) of the Wire Act… applies only to transmissions related to bets or wagers on a sporting event or contest,” Barbadoro wrote.

Although the DOJ is probably not done fighting, it did push its compliance deadline back for a second time. It will take no enforcement action until at least the start of 2020 while it re-evaluates its options in light of the decision. The department had planned to begin enforcement on June 14 after extending its initial deadline (April 15) the first time.

The ruling doesn’t have any impact on sports betting whatsoever, but it may help ease some of the most cautious minds.

Regulators in West Virginia, for example, have been timid about approving new online WV sports betting platforms pending a resolution. If it wasn’t already good to go there, it should be now.

The ruling also provides interim relief for other online gambling operations in regulated markets, including the interstate online poker compacts that are so critical to the success of that industry.

Sports betting takes and tidbits

Now there’s a subheading we haven’t typed in a while. Here are a few more crumbs of sports betting news, which have a way of collecting at the bottom of this piece:

  • Happy birthday: On Friday, Bill Gelman took a moment to celebrate the one-year anniversary of legal sports betting in New Jersey. Marty Derbyshire also ran through a few ways sports betting has changed the overall landscape in the state.
  • Singing the blues: Sportsbooks took a bath on the NHL when the longshot St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup. One prominent bookmaker called it a “disaster,” with the Blues priced as high as 300-1 in some midseason futures markets while wallowing in last place.
  • Brand new: Don’t get too attached to the new SugarHouse Sportsbook. Almost immediately after its launch in Pennsylvania, parent company Rush Street Gaming announced that it’s pivoting to the Rivers brand across all platforms. Also rebranding: BetStars to Fox Bet.
  • Add it all up: A new beta update to Google Ads allows regulated gambling companies (other than state lotteries) to advertise on the ubiquitous platform for the first time. Though, so far, limited to NJ sportsbooks, expect Google to add more states and verticals in the future.
  • Sour Apple: On the other hand, Apple is making life miserable for game developers. A new policy will force the majority of operators to recode their software and rethink their overall strategy for multi-vertical online gambling.

Here’s a breakdown of the Apple situation from our friends at Play Pennsylvania:

What we’re watching this week

We already mentioned that all eyes are on NY sports betting this week, so you know where our focus will be. There are a couple of other things worth monitoring too.

Pennsylvania is overdue to publish its report for May, which will be its last month without online sports betting revenue. SugarHouse Sportsbook went live earlier this month, ushering in the much-anticipated second phase of PA sports betting. It should be one of the largest markets in the country by the time it grows to maturity.

And of course, every eligible adult in Nevada will be watching and betting on the Golden Tee World Championship next weekend.

That’s really all we have, thanks to a complete lack of sports betting hearings for the first time in a long time. Thank goodness.

Make sure you’re following @LSPReport for updates throughout the week, and make sure you have yourself a happy Monday.

The post The Week In Sports Betting News: Putting The Horses Back In The Barn, But Not In NY appeared first on Legal Sports Report.

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Let’s Talk About The Lyons Case And Why It Matters More Than Ever Today

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Back in February, patron-saint lawyer of sports betting Ted Olson, as well as a few gambling pundits on Twitter, advanced a proposition. They said the First Circuit Court of Appeals had held that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting.

We explained that while the First Circuit did make a statement to this effect, it was dicta, which is not binding even on courts within the circuit. That was borne out to a degree in the recent New Hampshire decision from Judge Paul Barbardoro.

The Lyons case is, however, a very important sports betting case — even an important Wire Act case — but for different reasons.

A little bit of background

According to the government’s trial brief, the case involved “an extremely large illegal gambling business operating in Massachusetts,” as well as a few other states throughout the country.

In addition to the business elements operating in the U.S., the defendants maintained an office in Antigua, which operated the internet site Sports Off Shore (SOS). The business also used toll-free numbers.

The principle was Robert Eremian, a Lynnfield, Mass. native, who transplanted himself to Antigua after a law-enforcement investigation in the late 1990s.

Then things got interesting …

Moving to Antigua allowed Eremian to obtain a casino license from the government of Antigua. But seeking to expand his customer base, Eremian accepted bets via a network of agents in the United States.

Enter Lyons:

Todd Lyons was the primary collector for SOS in Massachusetts. He routinely met with and collected from agents who worked for SOS. Generally, these meetings occurred weekly, but sometimes occurred less often depending upon the amount of money due.

For example, the investigation has revealed that balances less than $5,000 were sometimes carried for weeks depending upon the creditworthiness of the debtor. Lyons also acted as an agent for SOS earning commission for his own group of gambling customers.

In 2006, the government began surveilling Lyons and Eremian. Eremian was employing about 50 runners across the country, managing hundreds of customers. The feds alleged that Lyons himself had individually collected $22 million between 1998 and 2006.

Here come the charges

Various members of the Lyons and Eremian consortium, including many of Eremian’s extended family, faced a long list of charges.

The charges included:

  • Racketeering
  • Aiding and abetting
  • Operating an illegal gambling business
  • Violations of the Wire Act
  • Violations of the Travel Act
  • Illegal money laundering
  • Filing false tax returns
  • Violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)

Lyons and Eremian were convicted of five counts:

  • Two racketeering conspiracy charges
  • One count of operating an illegal gambling business
  • Two counts of violating the Wire Act

They were, however, found not guilty on more than a dozen other counts. The pair was sentenced to 36 months in a federal prison camp in Florida.

Then came the appeal …

Both men appealed their convictions and argued they should be overturned for any one of 16 reasons, or some combination thereof.

The men argued:

(1) the district court improperly denied them a safe harbor instruction on the government’s charges that they violated the Wire Act;

(2) the Wire Act does not apply to the internet;

(3) the government did not prove they had the necessary mens rea to violate the Wire Act;

(4) their convictions involved an inappropriate extraterritorial application of the Wire Act;

(5) their Wire Act convictions should be overturned because the government was required but failed to prove that all relevant bets were on sporting events;

(6) the district court improperly admitted into evidence a directory of SOS agents.

Lyons separately argued that: (7) the district court should have suppressed evidence derived from wiretaps of his phone conversations;

(8) the district court should have suppressed evidence obtained pursuant to search warrants for his home, car, and person;

(9) there was insufficient evidence to convict him of money laundering because the government’s evidence did not distinguish between “proceeds” and “profits” of illegal gambling;

(10) there was insufficient evidence to convict him of violating the Travel Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1952, for the same reason;

(11) the absence of final implementing regulations precluded his convictions for violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (“UIGEA”), 31 U.S.C. §§ 5361-67; and

(12) the prosecution referred at trial to his decision not to testify, violating his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Eremian separately argued that: (13) venue did not lie in Massachusetts;

(14) there was insufficient evidence to convict him of racketeering; and

(15) instructing the jury on Florida law constituted a constructive amendment of the indictment.

Finally, Lyons and Eremian each challenges his punishment, arguing that (16) his prison sentence and the forfeiture judgment were unreasonable and violated the Eighth Amendment.

Let’s focus on the Wire Act

Lyons and Eremian launched a “kitchen-sink” appeal, but for our purposes, the Wire Act discussion is quite relevant to our current situation.

Lyons and Eremian argued that the trial court had erred in not instructing the jury about the safe harbor of the Wire Act that allows for bets where the transmission begins and ends where betting is legal.

The First Circuit found there was no error in not giving the jury instructions about the safe harbor because even though the bets were legal in Antigua, there was no evidence presented that any of the originating bets were legal. They were primarily from Massachusetts and Florida.

Fun with no. 2

The second claim made by Lyons and Eremian is a fun one: they argued that the Wire Act does not apply to the internet. This is a very significant holding from this case.

The defendants argued that the Internet is not “a wire communication facility.” This argument had come up roughly a decade earlier, in United States v. Cohen, but the First Circuit found the language of the text clearly incorporates the internet.

It even remarked how incredible the definition penned decades before widespread knowledge of the internet accurately describes the nature of it. Like the first claim, the second Wire Act claim was also a loser at the First Circuit.

An all-time great legal claim

The third claim regarding the Wire Act is a personal favorite. The defendants argued that the government failed to prove they had the intent to violate the Wire Act.

The First Circuit stated:

Reading their pleading generously, they appear to argue that even if the internet is a wire communication facility as a matter of law, the government was required to prove that they knew the law. While there are certainly good reasons why Congress might not wish to punish as criminals persons who do not know their conduct may be unlawful, as a general matter ignorance of the law is no defense.

When dealing with intent to commit crimes, it typically only matters that the defendant intended to do the act of which they are accused, not that the defendant intended to break the law. The defendant’s knowledge of the law is generally immaterial to their ability to form intent.

Eremian and Lyons then move on with their fourth argument to claim that the government was trying to apply the Wire Act extraterritorially. This, of course, is problematic because the communications were originating from Massachusetts and Florida, both of which happen to remain part of the United States.

A question not asked

The final claim that the defendants made regarding the Wire Act involves “Proof of Sports Betting under the Wire Act.” This is where the court says:

“The Wire Act applies only to ‘wagers on any sporting event or contest,’ that is, sports betting. 18 U.S.C. 1084(a); see also In re MasterCard Int’l Inc., 313 F.3d 257, 263 (5th Cir.2002).”

But that was not the question asked, which the court explains, stating:

“Therefore, Lyons and Eremian say, there was insufficient evidence to convict them because some evidence at trial showed that SOS also accepted bets on casino games and other forms of gambling not covered by the Wire Act. But nothing in the statute limits its reach to entities devoted exclusively to sports betting any more than a bank robber gets off if he also withdraws money properly from an ATM.”

The issue was not whether the Wire Act applied to sports betting because Eremian and Lyons accepted sports bets. The pair essentially argued the Wire Act should not apply because they did not only take sports bets. The First Circuit summarily rejected this argument.

So, what did Lyons tell us?

Lyons tells us a fair bit. We get confirmation that the Wire Act applies to the internet, and that Massachusetts and Florida are parts of the United States. We also learn that sports betting is covered by the Wire Act; that is a holding of the case.

We do not have a holding stating that casino games are excluded from the Wire Act. We have a citation to the Fifth Circuit and a suggestion that the First Circuit might adopt that view, but courts do not answer questions they are not asked.

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888: US Sports Bettors Don’t Use In-Play Betting Like Others But Soon Will

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888’s latest trading update presentation set out the company’s route to growth in the US market. One area where they see real opportunity is in-game sports betting.

888 Holdings is active right across the globe and it has six years’ experience in the regulated US market. With gaming operations since 2013 in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey, it has the most experience of any of the operators in the US legal sports betting market.

The company’s SVP Head of Commercial Development, Yaniv Sherman, believes this gives the company a data edge on the competition.

In-game betting provides a runway for growth

He showed investors this graph, which indicated how much “runway” there still is for the sports betting market:

The first columns of the graph show that US sports bettors are doing a lot less in-game betting than their global peers.

Half of US sports bettors are taking part in in-play betting compared to 63% of the global customer base. The number is even higher in developed markets such as the UK.

Sherman suggested part of this is because of US players’ experience with illegal offshore sites:

“Most of them have played on illegal sites which cannot offer in-game activities and there’s a different preference that we want to cater to. There’s more runway there because we know that in-play and mobile in general is a great equivocator in terms of volatility over time.”

888 expects US sports bettors to adopt more in-play betting as the market evolves.

US player profile different from Europe, changing

To reinforce his point, Sherman explained that the US bettor is not the same as their other global players. Moreover, the customer profile of US players is changing rapidly:

“I can pretty much vouch that the American player or consumer will look completely different in two, three, or four years’ time and different from the European one. And we want to adjust our product for that.”

Part of that profile change will be a shift to more in-play betting.

Interestingly, the graph shows that US sports bettors use the mobile app just as much as the rest of 888’s global customers.

Where they use mobile less is for online casino and poker. This is another potential area of growth.

Tapping offshore players in the legal market

Sherman made a particular comparison with the offshore sites that implies the legal state-regulated market has an advantage:

“I can tell you from personal experience, it’s a completely different product experience. When you are going after recreational players, that’s an untapped market from our perspective.”

He pointed out that of $150 billion wagered annually on sports betting, only 4% of that went through the legal market.

The clear implication: Over time, these customers can be attracted to the state-regulated sites. In-game betting will be one of the big draws.

How to spread the word?

One of the problems often cited by operators is that of getting the message out that sports betting is legal.

To that end, Sherman was excited by the prospects for advertising on Google. Last week, Google put its AdWords system into beta test for New Jersey gambling.

Until now, Google declined to allow its AdWords to be bought to promote any gambling.

The beta test is only for NJ sports betting. It is limited to only operators on the Division of Gaming Enforcement official list and is only for sports betting.

“It’s another development, and for us, it means this is good news,” Sherman told investors. “We are online animals; we are online DNA. This creates a competitive edge and it broadens the marketing pie for us to choose from …”

With AdWords available, 888 and the other online operators can expand their marketing reach. They might get their message to potential recreational players who wouldn’t otherwise see sports betting advertising.

Target 2025 for 888

888 gave investors a look at its expectations for the US in 2025. Even its “bear case” scenario looks bullish:

The states in blue are states that 888 expects will legalize gambling by 2025, but doesn’t include in its financial forecast.

The table on the left shows that on even a conservative projection, the US will be the world’s second-largest gambling market. If the blue states pass laws, the US will easily pass the UK to take the top slot.

888 doesn’t plan to be in all of these states. It will look at the taxes, regulations and market potential, and select those markets where it can make the biggest impact and get the best return on investment.

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Is This The Month NJ Sports Betting Passes Nevada For The Top Spot?

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New Jersey sports betting nearly caught Nevada in April, and it appears the Garden State could do so in May.

The state saw $318.9 million in wagers last month. In May 2018, Nevada sports betting set a record for handle in that month with $315.5 million.

That opens the possibility that NJ sports betting could pass Nevada in terms of wagers this month. Nevada numbers will come out at the end of this month, but the footsteps already grew louder on this front.

A closer look at NJ sports betting numbers

Handle increased slightly from April, when New Jersey took $313 million in wagers. Revenue fell more than $5 million to $15.5 million, though, without a clear reason. That equates to a steady but underwhelming win of 4.8%, which falls even farther when futures are extracted.

No major shifts took place within individual sport betting, with basketball and baseball win both falling slightly. Parlay hold checked in above 13% for the second consecutive month. That’s well below historical hold but seemingly in line with a market not enamored with the higher-margin plays.

Neither month approached what NJ sports betting accomplished in its first March Madness. More than $372 million flowed through NJ sportsbooks in 2019 during the biggest multi-day sports betting event on the American calendar.

More screen time = more wagers

NJ sports betting revenue approached $200 million since inception in June 2018 with the modest win in May. Perhaps even more impressively, total handle since launch neared $3 billion with one partial month left to calculate a full year.

As is the norm in the Garden State, NJ sports betting apps accounted for more than four out of every five wagers. Roughly 81% of bets in New Jersey occurred via mobile platforms in May, totaling more than $253 million.

For the calendar year, more than $1.11 billion of the $1.39 billion wagered took place on mobile. That seemingly established baseline above 80% appears to represent a sustainable trend for New Jersey.

Nevada more prone to swings

Mobile growth featuring superior technology allows New Jersey to keep a steadier stream of handle and revenue. It removes barriers to entry like weather and travel that can hamper retail sportsbook traffic flow.

Nevada still relies more on retail, even if only by the anecdotal level of 10-20 percent. That leads the Silver State open to bigger swings, for better and for worse.

A record March Madness with nearly $600 million wagered shows that Nevada still owns the top spot in the country — when everything lines up its way. Economic downturns or travel disruptions can combine with seasonal visitation fluctuations to push legal sports betting revenue the other way as well.

Consistent pressure from New Jersey (and eventually Pennsylvania and New York) likely will force the Nevada industry to adapt. Whether that is taking place in earnest remains to be seen, perhaps as soon as later this month.

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New Hampshire Sports Betting Is Almost Here; Legislature To Pass Bill Thursday

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Sports betting legislation is all set to receive final legislative approval in the New Hampshire House on Thursday after getting a recommendation of concurrence Wednesday in the Ways and Means Committee.

The House vote is considered a mere formality, according to bill author Rep. Timothy Lang.

“It will be a pretty quick vote,” Lang said. “I anticipate it won’t be challenged by anybody.”

This vote will send it to the governor’s desk, where a signature is expected to turn the bill into law.

New Hampshire House to concur with Senate changes

The Senate made three amendments to H 480, creating the need for the originating chamber to concur.

The amendments clarified that multiple online sports betting operators are permitted, capping mobile operators at five and reasserting that retail operators are capped at 10.

Rep. Susan Almy, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, had the authority to decide whether the committee concurred with the changes.

On Wednesday, she chose to survey committee members and opted for approval once she realized a consensus of the committee supported the bill. No official vote was taken.

“Nobody thought there was anything that they changed that would require us to go to a committee of conference and renegotiate a couple of really small things,” Almy said. “They didn’t change much.”

Almy told Legal Sports Report that she would get up on the floor Thursday and give a very short statement discussing what changes the Senate made, and reporting that the committee met and recommends the House concur with the changes.

“Then there will be a vote and unless someone we don’t know about gets up and says they want to speak against this and gets people to vote the other way, then it passes,” Almy said. “Very seldom does someone get up and do that at this stage.”

Legislator could tweak sports betting parameters in future

Lang indicated that he is disappointed that the Senate chose to limit the number of retail locations for sports betting. As a free-market individual, he prefers to see the market manage itself and have as many locations as supported.

He had also hoped that the Senate would reinstate brick-and-mortar in-play wagering, originally removed by the House Ways and Means Committee, stating that it makes no sense that in-play wagering can be done through mobile but not at a tavern.

Lang asserted that he will seek to make changes to the law in the future if needed.

“I’ll take the policy win,” Lang said. “Sports betting will now be legal in New Hampshire, and we can fine-tune it down the road.”

How New Hampshire sports betting will look

The bill authorizes the New Hampshire Lottery Commission to conduct sports betting directly or through authorized agents via the use of mobile internet devices and retail establishments. The effective date of the bill is upon its passage.

The legislation will:

  • Create a Division of Sports Wagering within the NH Lottery Commission to serve as regulator.
  • Permit wagering by people 18 years of age or older located in the state.
  • Allow for remote registration for mobile wagering.
  • Prohibit wagering on NH collegiate teams and any collegiate game taking place in the state.
  • Not provide an integrity fee to sports leagues or mandate the use of official league data.

Governor’s signature expected in about a month

Following tomorrow’s legislative passage, H 480 will head to the Enrolled Bills Committee to make sure the bill is clean and without typographical errors when it heads to the governor.

Lang expects the bill to reach Gov. Chris Sununu’s desk in the next three to four weeks. Sununu will then have 10 days to sign the bill. He is certain to do so, having included $10 million from sports betting in his state budget.

Anticipating the bill’s passage, Lang told LSR that he already contacted the governor’s office asking to be involved in a ceremonial signing of the legislation. You might say he is proud of the bill.

“I look at it as three groups are winning,” Lang said. “The citizens are winning in that they will now be able to place a bet and have consumer protections behind it, businesses are winning because they’ll have the opportunity to grow, and lastly the State of New Hampshire is winning because it gets revenue that will go toward education.”

The post New Hampshire Sports Betting Is Almost Here; Legislature To Pass Bill Thursday appeared first on Legal Sports Report.

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Sports Betting Legislative Lasso: NY Sports Betting Update; Where Else Could Still Legalize?

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Hello, ladies and gents, and welcome back to your regularly scheduled tour of the US sports betting landscape.

It’s been too long since we last spun our lasso in the air, so we figured we’d toss out a surprise Tuesday edition for you. Considering what has transpired in recent weeks, an unusual maneuver like this only seems fitting.

Several state legislatures have recently reached their adjournment deadlines, giving us a fair picture of what to expect by the end of the year. Here’s the situation for sports betting legislation right now:

  • States with regulated sports betting: 8
  • Jurisdictions pending launch: 9
  • States with bills on file: 38
  • Number of bills on file: 161

Astute readers may notice that the numbers on the board have changed a bit since the last time we counted. Two additional states are now in the “pending launch” category, including the largest market in the hungry Midwest.

This piece pairs well with the latest episode of the LSR Podcast, if you’re so inclined to listen while you read.

Listen to “LSR Podcast Ep.13 – Update on PA Sports Betting, IL Passes, WV Delayed, and LA…Who Knows?” on Spreaker.

Illinois sports betting gets there

An effort to legalize sports betting in Illinois came together during the final hours of session last weekend. Lawmakers actually needed two extra days of work to pass the enabling language within a huge funding package for vertical infrastructure.

The framework for IL sports betting creates multiple implementations — both in-person and online — via casinos, tracks, sports venues, and lottery retailers. An 18-month waiting period for online-only platforms represents an attempt to appease casino interests, the first in a long list of suboptimal provisions.

The law prohibits all wagering on in-state collegiate athletics, for example, while also empowering teams and leagues to impose further restrictions. What’s more, language requiring the use of official league data represents an unwelcome extension of a bad precedent established recently in Tennessee.

Although lawmakers softened the final tax rate down to 15%, that’s still one of the highest rates in the country. And licenses still cost up to $20 million for online operators.

What we’re trying to say is that it’s not the best sports betting law we’ve ever seen.

It is law, though, with the last-minute push allowing the Prairie State to join Indiana and Iowa at the finish line. Of the states with regulated sports betting today, only Pennsylvania is (just barely) more populous than Illinois.

Down the stretch comes New York sports betting

Regulators in New York approved the rules for retail sports betting on Monday, which is generating far less buzz than it should. But sportsbooks are coming.

The focus is on Albany, where lawmakers only have a week left authorize online sports betting under a new piece of legislation. Last week, the sponsors filed new versions of their matching bill in each chamber.

Sen. Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow are the state’s two biggest optimists and the chief proponents of expanded NY sports betting. While most of their framework is unchanged, the new language adds tracks, OTBs and sports venues to the list of eligible licensees. It also includes the integrity fee nobody wants and the official data requirement that might not even be legal.

The session is scheduled to end on June 19, and opposition within the Assembly and the governor’s office remain the most significant hurdles.

New reporting from the Wall Street Journal indicates that lawmakers may lump sports betting into a “big ugly” bill alongside a number of other pivotal issues, including climate change, rent control and marijuana. Such a calculated gamble might provide the only opportunity for passage this year.

But then there was this:

Then, later in the day, the Senate sponsor promised a vote in his chamber. So, right now, who knows what will happen in NY.

Louisiana sports betting doesn’t happen

Like Illinois, sports betting came right down to the wire in Louisiana. Unfortunately for bettors, though, it went the other way in the Pelican State.

The proposal from Sen. Danny Martiny looked promising for a while, an effort to bring on-site sports gambling to the casinos and tracks in the state. As was the case with daily fantasy sports last year, voters would need to approve LA sports betting at the ballot box in each of the eligible parishes.

After clearing the Senate with ease, the bill ran into a world of trouble in the House Appropriations committee. Members inserted two poison-pill amendments — one related to video poker parlors and another mandating the use of official league data — then voted not to advance it to the floor.

The sponsor continued to work the angles as the last few days of session ticked away, hoping to hitch his language to another vehicle. His last-minute attempt to load gambling provisions into the DFS tax mechanism went awry, though, sinking sports betting and possibly even fantasy sports.

Martiny will term out of office in 2020, and he used his final few minutes on the floor to express his frustration with the process.

Elsewhere in sports betting

The legislative calendar is growing mercifully quiet these days, though there is still some unfinished business related to sports betting in a few states.

Colorado definitely deserves mention, as voters will have the chance to decide on sports betting in their state this fall. Lawmakers recently passed a CO sports betting bill, though the ridiculous phrasing for the ballot question dampens its prospects.

Oregon also gets a shoutout for moving itself up onto the “legal pending launch” line this week. The state lottery is preparing to launch an OR sports betting product powered by Scientific Games, with a rollout possible before football season.

Other candidates for legal sports betting

Beyond those two, these states remain in contention to legalize sports betting this year:

  • Massachusetts: After two long days of hearings, lawmakers are hammering out the specifics for MA sports betting. The conversation is still in its formative stages, but stakeholders and policymakers have all year to draft an agreeable framework.
  • Michigan: We’re still waiting for an MI sports betting bill to appear, but Rep. Brandt Iden says it’s coming soon. Considering state officials are not yet on board with the sponsor’s other gambling bills, this one looks like a pick’em for 2019.
  • New Hampshire: The fate of NH sports betting will be decided during its final two steps this week. House Ways and Means will consider H 480 on Wednesday before the full chamber casts a Thursday vote on concurrence.
  • Ohio: Two competing bills are working to shape the structure of OH sports betting — one via the lottery and the other via casinos. Neither has moved in more than two months, but a recent committee hearing may provide the spark needed to reignite progress.

Barring any big surprises, that’s pretty much the list.

Efforts in Connecticut, on the other hand, are officially dead for the second consecutive year. It’s hard to imagine CT sports betting becoming legal until the relationship between the state and the tribes smooths over a bit.

Map of legal US sports betting

Green = legal          Yellow = pending launch

The post Sports Betting Legislative Lasso: NY Sports Betting Update; Where Else Could Still Legalize? appeared first on Legal Sports Report.

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The NY Online Sports Betting Bill Has A Chance? Senate Sponsor Confirms Vote Likely This Week

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New York Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. cleaned up his sports betting bill Tuesday to better define what sports facilities would be allowed to participate ahead of planned Senate passage of the legislation later this week.

The new language would allow for sports betting at all professional sports stadiums and arenas in New York with a seating capacity of more than 15,000.

A spokesperson for Addabbo tells Legal Sports Report that S 17C looks like it will get a vote in the full Senate this week. The bill is currently in the Finance Committee.

Tweaks on most recent NY sports betting amendment

Amendment B, introduced last week, allowed stadiums and arenas to partner with New York casinos to have sports betting kiosks connected back to the casino via the internet. The sports facilities would be allowed to offer these kiosks 20 months after the effective date of the law.

However, stadiums and arenas only would have been able to offer sports betting if there wasn’t already an affiliated racetrack, off-track betting parlor or video lottery terminal facility in the county. This would have excluded Citi Field, home of the Mets, and New Era Field, home of the Bills.

This was not the intention of the bill authors. Addabbo cleaned up the Senate amendment by deleting language that limited sport facilities to serve as affiliates only “in a county that does not have an affiliate.”

The new language simply states that “any professional sports stadium or arena in that county may serve as an affiliate.”

NY online sports betting still faces difficult road

Early Senate passage would be a nice first step for online sports betting legislation heading into the final days of the legislative session, which concludes June 19.

However, it’s comparable to walking up the first ten floors of the Empire State Building. There’s 92 floors left that will keep getting tougher, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is blocking off access to the elevator.

Cuomo repeated Tuesday that he does not think mobile sports wagering legalization will get done this year.

Assembly remains a question mark

Just to put the bill on Cuomo’s desk and make him take an official stance on the constitutionality of mobile wagering would be an accomplishment.

The Senate has been leading the cause for mobile wagering all session, including language in its budget proposal. Addabbo blamed the Assembly for failure to get sports betting into the budget.

In previous years, the New York Senate passed online poker legislation multiple times only to have it die in the Assembly.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow has been amending A 6113 to match the Senate bill every step of the way, and is expected to again, but it remains to be seen if the Assembly is ready to move on mobile wagering.

The post The NY Online Sports Betting Bill Has A Chance? Senate Sponsor Confirms Vote Likely This Week appeared first on Legal Sports Report.

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It’s Bye Bye Bayou As Louisiana Sports Betting Bill Falls Short

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The people of Louisiana will not have the opportunity to approve legal sports betting in their state this year.

After straddling the fence for a few days, lawmakers failed to pass a Louisiana sports betting bill on the final day of the session. Even worse, failure to approve for the daily fantasy sports tax mechanism seems to leave that industry in limbo too.

The initial purpose of H 459 was to establish revenue allocation for DFS — legalized via referendum last year — but a late attempt to stuff it with Louisiana sports betting language went fully awry.

The House previously scuttled a standalone sports betting bill in committee, and bickering between chambers ultimately derailed the train altogether.

LA sports betting effort falls apart

There was a time not so long ago that passage of the bill from Sen. Danny Martiny appeared to be a foregone conclusion.

His proposed model for Louisiana sports betting would have authorized sportsbooks for the state’s casinos and race tracks starting in 2020. It required a local referendum in each parish, so Martiny was merely going to offer residents the chance to decide if that’s what they wanted.

The sponsor had a good grasp on LA sports betting, and S 153 had good support as he ushered it through the Senate in April.

In late May, though, the House Appropriations committee loaded the bill with poison-pill amendments. The inclusion of video poker parlors and a mandate to use official league data put the bill in an unpassable posture.

Martiny and gaming stakeholders sat before the members and begged them not to destroy their work, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. The group adopted both amendments without objection and retained the bill in committee.

DFS stuck in no-man’s land?

Although the sponsor kept working to find an angle right up until adjournment, that vote was pretty much the end of the road for Louisiana sports betting. And the disjointed effort thereafter created potentially drastic consequences for fantasy sports.

During that committee hearing, Martiny told members that he intended to undo any changes by amending the DFS mechanism. He subsequently tried through two different vehicles, one dealing with regulation (H 459) and the other with taxes (H 600).

The maneuver landed the two bills in conference during the final few hours of the session, and Martiny could not sway the small group.

Bet you can’t, Louisiana

The five other conferees stripped sports betting provisions from the final reported version. Sen. Page Cortez flatly explained the changes to the full chamber: “Danny Martiny’s bill no longer exists.”

The defeated sponsor took the opportunity to air his grievances and created a sense he intentionally ran out the clock on the floor. While H 459 snuck through the adoption process, the Senate did not approve the changes to H 600 before adjourning sine die.

Where that leaves DFS is anybody’s guess for now. It’s legal and eligible for regulation but there is no tax mechanism in place.

Sports betting loses a top-shelf proponent

Louisiana was not alone in fiddling around with sports betting right up until the final gavel. The issue has come down to the wire in more than one legislature this year, including Indiana and Illinois.

Unlike Louisiana, though, lawmakers in those states approved sports betting on the last day of their sessions. Illinois actually needed two days of overtime to get its bill across the goal line, and a ballot measure is also up for a vote in Colorado this fall.

For the second consecutive year, though, Louisiana missed the steamboat. Lawmakers don’t return to session until March, so it’ll be a long while before they consider the issue again.

Term limits force Martiny out of office next year too, creating a vacuum of knowledge on the topic. Few lawmakers in the country have been such avid proponents of sports betting legislation over the past year or so.

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