DOJ Short Circuits Online Gaming

The federal Department of Justice has reversed its 2011 opinion that opened the door for online gaming within a state’s boundaries. The DOJ now says that the 1961 federal Wire Act does prohibit betting over the internet and not just to sports betting involving the transfer of information across state lines. The new opinion posted early last week has set off a whirlwind of interpretations on how it will affect online gambling. Is Sheldon Adelson (l.) to blame?

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WEEKLY FEATURE: Casinos on the Table in Virginia

Virginia lawmakers are working on legislation allowing casinos in Portsmouth, Bristol and Danville. If it passes, voter referendums would be held in each city. Longtime gaming advocate, state Senator Louise Lucas (l.) is leading the legislative effort. Meanwhile, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe also has announced plans for a $700 million casino in Norfolk. And state Del. Marcus Simon pre-filed a bill allowing only mobile and internet sports betting.

Japan: IR Plans Keep Coming

In Japan, global gaming operators continue to scout possible locales for three multibillion-dollar integrated resorts legalized by the government in 2016. Among the most popular sites are Osaka, Hokkaido and Tokyo. MGM Resorts seemingly has put all its eggs in one basket with its Osaka First policy that will concentrate its efforts in Japan’s third-largest city, according the MGM Japan President Jason Hyland (l.).

Massachusetts Governor Names New Commission Chairwoman

Cathy Judd-Stein (l.), advisor to a long list of Massachusetts governors, and current deputy legal counsel to Governor Charlie Baker, has been named by Baker the new chairwoman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. She takes her post in the midst of an investigation by the MGC of Wynn Resorts International.

Integrity in Gaming Education

The legalization of sports betting has exposed the lack of understanding that most operators and more importantly, educators, have about the issue. And there are so-called “experts” that have never taken a sports betting wager in their lives and may have unknown loyalties. So beware your sources, suggests gaming veteran Richard Schuetz (l.).

Second Sochi Casino Open for Business

A second casino has opened its doors in Russia’s Krasnaya Polyana gaming zone. The Boomerang casino, operated by Domain, the appointed operator of the zone, debuted January 4. The Russian government hopes that Krasnaya Polyana will become as successful as the Primorye district near Vladivostok has become.

Cuomo: Sports Betting at New York Casinos Only

Sports betting looks like a go in New York, but it will be limited, for now, to on-site wagering at the state’s commercial and tribal casinos. Online and remote betting, and betting at racinos, racetracks and OTBs, will likely have to wait for a constitutional amendment, according to a spokesman for Governor Andrew Cuomo (l.).

Former Michigan Senator: Veto A Temporary Setback

In a Detroit News commentary, former Michigan state Senator Mike Kowall wrote that Governor Rick Snyder “made a mistake” when he vetoed bipartisan legislation allowing online gambling. However, he said in the upcoming legislative session his colleagues who still serve in the legislature would work with Governor Gretchen Whitmer (l.) to pass an online gambling bill.

Leong Still Cagey About Macau Concessions

Macau Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong (l.) continues to dodge questions about the upcoming gaming license retender, set to begin in 2020. Leong says the government is still “analyzing” the matter. With the SJM and MGM concessions expiring next year, it’s likely they will be extended to 2022 when all other concessions are due for renewal. 

FANTINI’S FINANCE: Government Oversight

No matter where casinos operate they all have one overriding fear: government interference. But when it comes at the federal level, there are unknown implications. That’s what happened last week when the U.S. Department of Justice reversed a 2011 DOJ ruling that throws online gambling and sports betting into question.


Okada Fighting Philippines Listing for Tiger

Kazuo Okada, the Japanese machine gaming tycoon, says Tiger Resort and parent Universal Entertainment have no authority to take the Manila casino operator public. That’s because, or so he contends, Universal is still his company. The Manila casino (l.) still bears his name.

Studio City to Cut VIP Ops

Melco Resorts’ Studio City (l.) casino in Macau will put an end to VIP rolling chip operations starting January 15, 2020. One brokerage speculated the operator will move the tables to Morpheus for premium mass play

VIP Boost Forecast for Singapore

Global investment bank Maybank Kim Eng predicts that gross gaming revenues in Singapore’s VIP segment will grow 5 percent this year and 5 percent in 2020, slightly ahead of its estimates for Macau.

Canidrome Company Fined

Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome, which held the concession for the city’s former greyhound racetrack, has been fined 25 million patacas (US$3.1 million) for abandoning hundreds of racing dogs when the track closed.


Sweden Warns of Self-Exclusion Rules

The new Swedish gaming authority Spelinspektionen has warned it will tolerate no scofflaws for its laws requiring that all online casinos offer self-exclusion. Operators that don’t toe the line face losing their licenses.


Rio Governor Stumps for Gaming

Governor Wilson Witzel (l.) of Rio de Janeiro is asking the Brazil government to finally legalize gaming to generate much-needed new revenues. Witzel says Rio will hit a financial wall in just a few months without some help.

BC Crown Counsel Mulls Prosecution of Casino Money Laundering

Police in British Columbia have placed the possible prosecution for major money laundering and other mob related crimes that appear to be centered on casinos in the Lower Mainland in the hands of the Crown Counsel. It has full authority to decide prosecution. It’s likely that Attorney General David Eby (l.) will make the decision.

Israel Continues to Block Online Wagering

Israel is fighting online gaming in the country, which currently is only legal when placing sports wagers. The police are resorting to strong measures to fight offshore online casino providers.


UK to Consider Banning Credit Card Use for Gambling

The UK government is considering banning the use of credit cards in gambling. UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said he wants to hold meetings with bookmakers and major retail banks to discuss why 20 percent of deposits to gambling firms are made with credit cards.

West Virginia Lottery Delays Online Gambling

West Virginia Lottery Director John Myers told a legislative committee his agency wants to consider online gambling after regulators work out sports betting apps for the state’s five casinos. Observers said the reason is the lottery’s success, surpassing 2018 projections by more than $25 million. Meanwhile, state Del. Shawn Fluharty re-introduced online gambling legislation.

Denmark Adding New Responsible Gambling Controls

The Danish government has proposed adding new social responsibility controls on gambling licensees designed to improve player protection standards in the market. The proposals include mandatory deposit limits and a requirement for problem gambling support resources to be prominently displayed.

GAN Announces Expanded Deal with FanDuel Group

GAN plc, developer and supplier of enterprise-level B2B Internet gaming software, services and online gaming content in the United States, announced a new long-term deal with the FanDuel Group. GAN will provide rapid deployment of Internet casino, and account services for Internet sports betting in Pennsylvania and West Virginia as well as continuing existing services for the group in New Jersey.

Evolution Gaming Completes Ezugi Purchase

Live casino specialist Evolution Gaming announced it has completed its acquisition of live dealer gaming provider Ezugi. The $12 million cash deals could include additional considerations up to $6 million.


Connecticut Likely to Approve Sports Betting in 2019

Gaming experts give good odds to Connecticut legalizing sports betting this year. A report entitled “2019 U.S. Sports Betting Outlook,” names five other states that could do the same: Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and New York. Connecticut Rep. Joe Verrengia is introducing a comprehensive bill.

Maine Bills Would Legalize Sports Betting

The Maine legislature is mulling several bills to legalize sports book. The different bills take varying approaches to legalization. Senate President Troy Jackson (l.) wants to emphasize a strong regulatory structure. One would benefit casinos. Another would benefit tribes. One would allow online wagering.

Kansas Lawmakers Drafting Sports Betting Bill

Sports betting legislation is under consideration in Kansas. House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer (l.) said, “I do think it’s something we ought to pursue.” But Senate President Susan Wagle said legalizing sports betting is “not a high priority.” Operators of the four state-owned casinos said they support sports wagering if it’s regulated by the Kansas Lottery.

Indiana Sports Betting Bill Filed

Numerous gambling-related measures have been filed in Indiana. State Senator Jon Ford’s would allow sports betting at casino sports books and online. Other bills would allow one of Majestic Star’s two casino licenses to move inland and the other at least 100 miles from Gary. Also racetracks could install table games this year, not wait until 2021.

Louisiana Sports Betting Unlikely In 2019

Louisiana lawmakers are expected to reconsider sports betting in the coming legislative session. The approval of online fantasy sports in 47 out of the state’s 64 parishes indicates voters may support other sports-related gambling. However, state Senator Ronnie Johns (l.) said lawmakers may not be able to work through sports betting issues until 2020.

New Jersey Investigating DraftKings NFL Sports Bet Contest

New Jersey gambling regulators are investigating a sports betting tournament held by DraftKings during the NFL playoffs where some competitors said they were unable to make bets on an NFL playoff game in time to compete for a $1 million top prize. The contest involved bets on two NFL playoff games. Some players said their winnings from the fist game were not processed in time for bets to made on the second game.

William Hill Signs Prairie Meadows Deal, Expands in Nevada

If Iowa lawmakers pass sports betting legislation, William Hill US would operate a sports book at Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Altoona, according to a recently signed agreement. William Hill also announced it has added five casinos to its stable of Nevada operations, mostly from its partnership with Eldorado Resorts.


Poarch Band to Expand Sands Bethlehem

Alabama’s Poarch Band of Creek Indians have revealed a plan to expand Sands Bethlehem after assuming ownership, including the addition of a new hotel tower. Jay Dorris (l.), president of Wind Creek, says the company could break ground the “day after” the purchase closes later this year.

Resorts World Denies Stealing Wynn’s Look

The future Las Vegas Strip competitors are locked in a federal court battle testing the limits of architectural trademarks. Wynn says Resorts World Las Vegas is deliberately copying its buildings, down to their curved glass and “bandings.” Resorts World says its rival is trying to stifle competition.

Moody’s Bearish on New York Casino

A new report from the credit ratings agency further downgrades the bonds for New York’s del Lago casino, and casts fresh doubts on the property’s ability to generate enough revenue to service its debt. It predicts a restructuring is in the cards.

Mississippi Coast Casinos Post Best December Since 2007

Mississippi Gaming Commission numbers indicate legalized sports betting helped the 12 Coast casinos post their best December gross revenue numbers in 26 years at $106.4 million, a 7.5 percent increase over December 2017. Coast casinos posted total gross revenue of $1.24 billion for 2018, up 4 percent over 2017—their best year since 2008.

Banner Year for A.C. Convention Bookings

For the fourth straight year the seaside resort nailed down more conventions in 2018 than the year before. The marketing agency for the Atlantic City Convention Center (l.) says the bookings will fill more than 371,000 hotel rooms over the next three years and generate $400 million for the local economy.

Maryland Gaming Revenues Up

Maryland’s six casinos generated nearly $1.75 billion in 2018, an 8.2 percent rise over the previous year, with earnings up for all casinos except one—Horseshoe Baltimore (l.).

Arkansas Commission Takes Casino Rules Comments

Following a standing-room-only meeting of the Arkansas Racing Commission, the public may comment until February 21 on proposed draft rules for casinos in Jefferson and Pope counties. Gulfside Properties and the Cherokee Nation have expressed interest in a Pope County casino (Gulfside’s rendering at left), and the Quapaw Tribe is looking at Jefferson County.

Atlantic City Casino Revenue Up 7.5 Percent in 2018

Atlantic City casinos saw their best performance in about five years in 2018 bringing in $2.68 billion in revenue, up 7.5 percent from last year. The introduction of sports betting in June saw the state’s sports books handle more than $1.2 billion in bets, keeping about $94 million in revenue. However, of the seven Atlantic City casinos that were operating in 2017, only one, the Golden Nugget (l.), showed a revenue increase for the year.

Black Hawk’s Monarch Topped Out

The top beam recently was placed by PCL Construction at the 23-story Monarch Hotel and Casino (l.) in Black Hawk, Colorado. The former Riviera Black Hawk Casino was purchased by Reno-based Monarch Casino & Resort Inc. in 2012. The project, scheduled for August completion, will include a casino, dining, hotel, lounges and top-floor spa and pools.


N.D. Tribes Would Collect State Taxes Under Bill

A bill with bipartisan support has been introduced in North Dakota that would allow tribes to collect and spend state taxes that are usually not collected on the reservation. However, tribes aren’t immediately jumping on board because they want their casino exempted, according to Ron His Horse is Thunder (l.), a member of the Standing Rock Sioux.

Craps, Roulette Attracting New Players in Oklahoma

Craps and roulette are attracting new customers to the Cherokee Nation’s Oklahoma casinos, since the ball-and-dice games were authorized last August by the federal government. The games will generate an estimated $20-$25 million annually for education. Electronic versions will be offered at some of the tribe’s smaller casinos.

Senator Reelected to Indian Affairs Chairmanship

North Dakota’s U.S. Senator John Hoeven (l.) has been reelected chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. He has pledged to work to empower tribal economic progress and improve public safety, health care and schools for tribes.

Aquinnah Board Requests Details on Tribal Casino

Color the Board of Selectmen of the Massachusetts town of Aquinnah irritated. In a letter to tribal Chairman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais (l.), they seek more open communication between themselves and the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah (Gay Head) and its plans for a Class II casino.

Elk Grove Casino Could Break Ground Soon

The Wilton Rancheria’s proposed $500 million casino, located at an abandoned mall (l.), could break ground in Elk Grove sometime this year. Tribal Chairman Raymond Hitchcock says the casino, built and managed by Boyd Gaming, will probably be open by the end of 2020.

Prairie Band Casino Turns 21

The Prairie Band Casino and Resort (l.) in Mayetta, Kansas has undergone numerous changes since it opened in January, 1998. In its 21 years, the property has added more than 190 hotel rooms, more than 20 gambling tables, a golf course, restaurants and a coffee bar, plus it recently was renovated.

Rhode Island Senators Threatened to Block Wampanoag Bill

Last year two Rhode Island Senators often close progressive allies of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (l.) sabotaged a bill she sponsored to help a tribe in her state put land into trust. The reason for the back door stabbing? It would have encouraged a tribe in their state to try to get equal treatment.


Eldorado Names Eastern Region Chief, Trop AC GM

Eldorado Resorts has promoted Steve Callender from general manager of Tropicana Atlantic City to senior vice president of the regional operators’ Eastern operations, and has named Jason Gregorec as the new GM of the Tropicana.

Pearl River Confirms Johnson In Top Post

After serving as interim president and chief executive officer since 2015, William “Sonny” Johnson officially assumed those positions at Pearl River Resort in Philadelphia Mississippi. Johnson joined Pearl River in August 2012 as vice president of casino operations. He also worked at Golden Nugget, Turning Stone, Gold Strike, Beau Rivage and Mirage casinos.

Bet.Works Appoints Quinton Singleton as COO

Gaming executive Quinton Singleton has joined internet gaming and sports book technology provider Bet.Works as the company’s chief operating officer. Singleton will manage the company’s operations with a focus on market strategy and working to place Bet. Works’ sports betting and Internet gaming platforms into regulated jurisdictions in the U.S.

Seibert Leaving Missouri Gaming Commission

William “Bill” Seibert Jr. announced he will retire in March from the Missouri Gaming Commission, where he has served as executive director since 2010. He previously worked for 30 years at the Missouri State Highway Patrol and also worked at the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole and the O’Fallon Police Department.

Casino Queen President Named Circuit Judge

The former president of the Casino Queen in East St. Louis, Illinois, attorney Jeffrey K. Watson, recently retired after being selected to become a judge in the Illinois 20th Judicial Circuit. Watson served as the casino’s legal counsel. He led a $170 million takeover of the property in 2002.

Tanaka to Retire from TransAct Board

Graham Tanaka will retire from the board of directors of TransAct Technology, sparking a search for an executive from the food & beverage area to replace him.


Sportradar Launches Marketing Service

portradar announced the launch of a new full-service marketing arm designed for sports betting operators, in response to strong demand from the industry.


‘Road to 2020’ Kicks Off UNLV Gaming & Hospitality Education Series 2019

The disruptive UNLV Gaming & Hospitality Education Series returns for its 2019 edition with a full-day session aimed at preparing the industry for changes in Las Vegas and in the gaming industry overall. Featuring some major speakers, “The Road to 2020” will examine the new developments in Las Vegas and the upcoming changes on and off the casino floor.




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