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New York’s Online Sports Betting Bill Clears Committee Vote; Online Poker Attached to Proposed Budget for Third Straight Year
Less than one week after introducing a bill to regulate sports betting, New York state senator John Bonacic (R-42) successfully steered his latest gambling expansion proposal through the committee he chairs.
Bonacic’s position as chairman of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee made the preliminary passage of Senate Bill 7900 a formality of sorts, so no votes were tallied. Instead, the bill – which would allow the Empire State to establish legal sports betting via both land-based and online sportsbooks – was moved on to the Senate Finance Committee without delay.
SB-7900 was introduced on March 7 and forwarded to the Finance Committee on March 13.
In a statement issued by his office, Bonacic referenced the looming U.S. Supreme Court decision which is widely expected to strike down the current federal prohibition on sports betting:
“With today’s passage of S.7900 out of the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, legalized sports betting is one step closer to becoming a reality in New York State.
I thank my colleagues on the Committee for their support of this bill, and look forward to working with them and the many stakeholders, during the remainder of the legislative session to ensure that New York has the best piece of legislation possible should the Supreme Court strike down PASPA.”
In December, the Court heard oral arguments in the case of Christie v. NCAA et al, which concerns the efforts of Governor Chris Christie to legalize sports betting in New Jersey. The Garden State approved sports betting measures, both legislatively and on the ballot, with Christie signing versions into law in 2012 and 2014. Each signing prompted a slate of lawsuits from North America’s four major professional sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL), along with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
The leagues contended that New Jersey’s efforts to regulate sports betting constituted a violation of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 – the federal law which limits legal sports wagering to four states (Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware).
As his statement alluded to, Bonacic’s bill is contingent on a Court ruling – which is scheduled to be rendered within the next few months – striking down PASPA’s control over state-regulated sports betting:
“No gaming facility may conduct sports wagering until such time as there has been a change in federal law authorizing such or upon a ruling of a court of competent jurisdiction that such activity is lawful.”
With most legal observers and gambling industry experts in agreeance that the Court was amenable to New Jersey’s case during oral arguments, more than a dozen states have introduced bills based on the potential PASPA repeal.
California, Illinois, Iowa, and West Virginia are among the 16 states currently considering similar legislation.
Based on his plan for an 8.5 percent tax on sports wagering related revenue, Bonacic positioned the legalization of sports betting as an effective way to solidify the state’s budget:
“If allowed, sports betting will be a revenue enhancer for education in New York,” said Bonacic, who is also spearheading the online poker efforts. “We have the chance to ensure our sports betting statute is fully developed and addresses the needs of the state and all stakeholders so we can hit the ground running if and when we can authorize and regulate sports betting.”
In other iGaming news out of New York, the Senate once again included online poker in its annual budget proposal.
Buried within the massive document, which serves as a baseline for lawmakers to base their discussions with the executive branch, is a passage calling for online poker to be regulated.
The same language has been included in the Senate budget proposal for three straight years, and while that legislative body has successfully passed online poker bills in 2016 and 2017, the Assembly has refused to hold a vote.
With its acquired Atlantic City casino set to open this summer, Hard Rock International has partnered with Greentube to launch a social gambling website.
Visitors to the HardRockSocialCasino.com platform will find a full complement of casino games to choose from, including classics like baccarat, blackjack, and roulette. Slots, video poker, and scratch card style lottery games are also available.
As a social gambling provider, the new Hard Rock Atlantic City site lets players take on the house free of charge, with only virtual credits known as “coins” up for grabs.
In a press release dated March 12, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City president Matt Harkness said social gambling will introduce the global casino brand to the New Jersey marketplace:
“We are excited to announce the arrival of our online social gaming site that is easy to navigate and offers free play.
Launching this social games website will bring excitement to those who enjoy playing the most innovated games for slots and tables online and it will be a great opportunity for many to experience and connect to the Hard Rock brand for the first time.”
The launch comes just five weeks after Hard Rock International announced an arrangement with Greentube – a subsidiary of Austrian-based iGaming giant Novomatic – to design social gaming sites for each of the Florida-based conglomerate’s 11 casino properties worldwide. That agreement began with the Seminole Hard Rock venues in Florida, before branching out to New Jersey following the acquisition of the former Trump Taj Mahal.
In a contribution piece published by EGR Global, Gabriel Cianchetto – who serves as president of market development for Greentube North America – wrote about the collaborative process between his company and Hard Rock International:
“Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming are large, multifaceted organizations with specific design demands and quality standards for each of their web properties. This meant that our private-label social casino program, Greentube Pro, had to evolve to meet their needs.
Hard Rock/Seminole tasked us to create a multi-property and multi-brand framework for all of their North American casinos. This framework reflected a true branded experience for each property, enabling players to choose their preferred casino when they register.”
Cianchetto also revealed an expanded mobile platform selection made possible by partnering with Amazon:
“Part of Hard Rock’s business strategy was to make their social casinos available to all, meaning mobile compatibility with not just Apple and Android, but also Amazon platforms.
By now offering Hard Rock/Seminole social casinos to players on Amazon Fire devices, we’ve opened up an entirely new marketing channel to Amazon aficionados.”
After taking over the defunct Trump Taj Mahal last year for a relative bargain at $ 50 million, Hard Rock Atlantic City’s online presence won’t be limited to social gambling for long. A partnership with Gaming Innovation Group announced in February will produce the latest entrant to New Jersey’s thriving online gambling industry.
Kresimir Spajic, senior vice president of online gaming for Hard Rock International, made it clear at the time that the company wanted a piece of New Jersey’s $ 245 million iGaming revenue haul from 2017:
“Hard Rock has an ambitious plan to become a global leader in the international online gaming space.
We are confident that, together with Gaming Innovation Group, we can disrupt the market, through product innovation and unique user experience.”
Gaming Innovation Group’s chief executive officer Robin Reed was pleased to partner with Hard Rock International’s pursuit of iGaming integration:
“We are excited to be part of Hard Rock International’s inspiring and innovative plans to become a global leader in the international online gaming space.”
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Continuing an ongoing dialogue between lawmakers and the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding online gambling’s legality, Representative Diane Titus (D-1) of Nevada defended the Silver State’s iGaming industry in an open letter.
Writing to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Titus argued against reversing a 2011 memorandum issued by the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel limiting the federal Wire Act’s iGaming ban to sports betting.
Prior to the memo’s release, the Wire Act of 1961 – which prohibited sports wagering via telephonic means – had been interpreted to form the basis of a full ban on internet gambling operations of any form, known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006.
When the DOJ shifted their stance, individual states were effectively free to pass legislation to legalize and regulate online poker and casino games.
Nevada became the second state to successfully pass an iGaming bill in February of 2013, joining Delaware, and within two months, the Ultimate Poker platform became the first legal iGaming site to go live within the U.S. New Jersey also legalized online poker that year, along with casino games, and Pennsylvania passed a comprehensive iGaming package in late 2017.
As a result, conservative donor and billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson has allied with conservative lawmakers on Capitol Hill to back a series of bills purporting to “Restore America’s Wire Act” (RAWA). While those efforts have proved to be toothless thus far, Adelson continues to fund the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) and the arrival of ardent anti-gambling voice Jeff Sessions as Attorney General has revived the RAWA debate.
Sessions was forced to recuse himself from iGaming-related policymaking after he stated that he was “shocked” by the 2011 memo during his Senate confirmation hearings.
Titus opened her letter to Rosenstein by reminding the DOJ’s second in command of that memo’s clearly delineated directives:
“This opinion clarified that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting and does not prohibit other forms of online gaming.”
She then pointed to Nevada’s successful track record regulating online poker for the last five years as proof that iGaming legal states are thriving under the new laws:
“Much of the legal gaming in the U.S. occurs in my congressional district. Accordingly, Nevada has set the gold standard when it comes to gaming regulation and consumer protections.
In Las Vegas we have seen that a regulated market is always better than an illegal one.
Internet gaming will not go away with a reversal of the Wire Act guidance; it will merely push more consumers into black markets. A reversal will only hurt business.”
Titus also refuted claims made by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) – sponsor of the original RAWA bill in 2014 – and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who jointly authored their own letter to Rosenstein requesting the 2011 memo be reexamined:
“The Graham-Feinstein letter uses fear tactics and hyperbolic language to emphasize their distaste for online gaming.
While they claim online gaming ‘preys on children,” in Nevada there are effective technological safeguards in place to verify age and location. In contrast, unregulated internet gaming sites provide no assurances that minors will be prevented from gambling.”
In closing, Titus observed that regulated iGaming industries force unregulated sites out of the marketplace altogether, significantly improving consumer protections:
“There is copious evidence that businesses involved in illegal online gaming have left the regulated online gaming markets in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey.
I encourage you to carefully study this issue and consult with industry leaders, regulators and consumers before reversing Wire Act guidance in a way that could eliminate jobs in the online gaming industry, infringe on states’ rights, and exacerbate growth of the illegal online gaming market.”
In January, a bipartisan group of Congressional delegates from New Jersey – where iGaming revenue reached $ 245 million last year – also responded to the Graham-Feinstein letter by writing directly to Rosenstein.
Louisiana just joined the list of states with an online gambling bill under consideration, courtesy of state senator Daniel Martiny (R-10).
Martiny introduced Senate Bill 322 on March 2, and at the moment, the four-page document merely provides an outline for Louisiana voters to decide the iGaming issue directly. If passed, S-322 would call for a public referendum to be held during the upcoming November election cycle.
A proposition added to the ballot in each of Louisiana’s 64 parishes would pose the following question to voters:
“Shall internet gaming be allowed to be conducted within the parish of _____?”
SB-322 is designed to give the state flexibility in implementing online gambling, as individual parishes can approve or reject the proposition through a simple majority vote. In parishes that pass the measure, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board (LGCB) would then partner with local gaming board authorities to develop a regulatory framework for licensing and supervising iGaming operations.
The bill would also establish a system whereby iGaming providers must partner with Louisiana’s licensed riverboat and land-based casinos to obtain an internet gaming license. This would follow the successful model currently utilized in New Jersey, where state-licensed casinos in Atlantic City have been linked with online poker and casino platforms since 2013. Last year alone, New Jersey’s iGaming industry generated nearly $ 250 million in revenue while sending millions into state coffers via taxes and licensing fees.
SB-322 doesn’t address taxation or licensing fees, but the bill offers a general framework for classifying legal forms of internet gambling:
“Proposed law defines ‘Internet gaming’ as any variation or composite of an authorized game that is offered through the internet, provided that such games, or variations or composites, are found suitable for use by the board and any other game which is determined to be suitable by the board.
The term includes gaming tournaments conducted via the internet in which players compete against one another in one or more games authorized by the board.”
Only players 21 and over who are physically located in a parish which voted in favor of the ballot proposition would be permitted to gamble online. Furthermore, legal iGaming wouldn’t go live in Louisiana until January 1 of 2020 at the earliest.
Martiny – who previously held a seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1994 through 2008 – serves Jefferson Parish, which includes sections of the New Orleans metropolitan area. In his position as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Martiny will be able to influence fellow lawmakers to support SB-322 in exchange for favorable votes on other issues.
SB-322 is the third gambling-related bill taken up by Louisiana legislators in the last week.
State representative Major Thibaut (D-18) introduced House Bill 245 – which would expand the state’s current laws on horserace wagering to include all forms of sports betting – on March 1.
On March 5, state representative Kirk Talbot (R-78) introduced House Bill 484 in an attempt to regulate the daily fantasy sports (DFS) industry.
Back in October, when online sportsbook Bovada released its opening odds for 2018 Stanley Cup futures betting, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights couldn’t be further apart.
The Lightning, led by sniper Steven Stamkos, were listed among the NHL’s top contenders at (+1200). Meanwhile, entering their first season as an expansion franchise, the Golden Knights came in dead last at (+20000).
Today, the latest odds update puts the league-leading Lightning (46-17-4; 96 points) at the head of the pack with a (+550) price. But with the playoffs fast approaching, a Golden Knights (42-19-5; 87 points) team that has stunned the sporting world all season sits at (+600) to hoist the Cup.
Assembled largely from castoffs discarded by other teams in the expansion draft – as well as deft maneuvering in free agency by general manager George McPhee – a Vegas team expected to compete for draft position is primed for a playoff run.
Leading goal scorer William Karlsson has potted 35 thus far, while David Perron paces the team in assists with 44 helpers. And with three-time Cup winning goalie Marc-Andre Fleury looking like his old self in the crease, the Golden Knights have built a comfortable nine-point lead in the Pacific.
As for the Lightning, the return of Stamkos after last year’s season-ending injury has certainly been a spark – but the offensive load has been shouldered by NHL points leader Nikita Kucherov (33-53-86). Add in the goaltending exploits of Andrei Vasilevskiy, the league-leader with 39 wins, and Tampa Bay appears poised to capture the Presidents’ Trophy, if not the Cup.
Their closest competitor on the Bovada betting board is the Nashville Predators (43-14-9; 95 points), who actually have identical odds at (+550) after opening the year at (+1400). After last year’s “Smashville” squad fell to Pittsburgh in a six-game Stanley Cup final, pundits may have expected a hangover effect, but the Preds have already eclipsed last year’s point total with over a dozen games to go.
The Boston Bruins (41-15-8; 90 points) are next up at (+800), and while they trail the Lightning by six points in the Atlantic, three games in hand essentially puts them in a dead heat. Searching for their seventh Stanley Cup in franchise history, the Bruins have steadily climbed the betting board since opening the season at (+1800).
At (+850), the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins (38-25-4; 80 points) close out the list of contenders offering better than 10 to 1. They haven’t moved much from an opening line of (+850), and while it hasn’t been a perfect season for the Pens, elite scorers like Sidney Crosby (22-48-70) and Evgeni Malkin (37-45-82) are more than enough to mask this dynasty’s deficiencies.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Chicago Blackhawks (29-30-8; 66 points) and New York Rangers (30-31-6; 66 points) are by far the league’s biggest disappointments.
The Blueshirts and Hawks opened the year at (+1400) and (+1600), respectively, but their last place performances have seen them plummet to “off the board” status.
See below for all the info on the 23 teams still vying for the most coveted trophy in all of sports, as currently listed on Bovada:
2018 NHL Stanley Cup Odds on Bovada
|Team||Stanley Cup Odds on 3/7|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+550|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+600|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+1500|
|Los Angeles Kings||+2200|
|San Jose Sharks||+2500|
|St. Louis Blues||+3500|
|New Jersey Devils||+5000|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+5000|
|New York Islanders||+10000|
|Detroit Red Wings||+30000|
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With the United States Supreme Court widely expected to repeal the current federal ban on sports betting in the coming months, daily fantasy sports (DFS) titan DraftKings is preparing to enter a new arena.
In a press release issued today, DraftKings announced that U.K. iGaming expert Sean Hurley has been hired on to serve as the site’s first “Head of Sportsbook.”
In his new role, one which was recently added to the company’s organizational hierarchy, Hurley has been assigned to “help build, launch and drive the sports betting vertical at DraftKings.”
Hurley will report to Matt Kalish, the site’s chief revenue officer and cofounder. In the statement, Kalish praised Hurley’s previous work within the European iGaming space:
“Sean brings a wealth of gaming experience to DraftKings and furthers our ability to be a leader in the sports betting market.”
Prior to joining DraftKings, Hurley spent a year as the head of commercial for the London-based Amelco, a leading backend and B2B provider for major online sportsbooks such as Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, and William Hill. Hurley also serves as an advisor to Sports Data Labs, an international firm which specializes in collecting, collating, and analyzing athletic performance data on behalf of clients ranging from professional leagues to sportsbooks.
Based in Boston, DraftKings currently operates offices there and in New York City, but Hurley will report to the company’s recently opened office in Hoboken, New Jersey.
The Garden State is the driving force behind the current push for federal reform, which emerged from New Jersey’s repeated efforts to regulate sports betting on the state level. Voters approved a referendum to allow sportsbooks back in November of 2011, and the state legislature followed up in January of 2012 by passing a bill to that effect.
A coalition of collegiate and professional sports leagues – including the NCAA, NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL – responded by filing suit in federal court, alleging that New Jersey’s efforts to regulate sports betting violated the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992. That law prohibits all but four states (Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana) from offering any form of wagering on athletics.
The resulting case, collectively known as Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association I, saw the Third Circuit rule against New Jersey under the pretense that PASPA precluded states from regulating sportsbooks. New Jersey refused to relent, passing a second Sports Wagering Act in 2014 which removed the state’s operational role by allowing Atlantic City casinos to run their respective sportsbooks.
Once again, the federal and appeals courts sided with the leagues, but in June of last year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear New Jersey’s final appeal. Based on the initial oral arguments heard by the court, and leagues like the MLB and NBA publicly reversing their opposition to legal sports betting, industry experts and legal analysts widely expect the Court to rule in New Jersey’s favor.
The pivotal ruling will be handed down sometime between early March and late June, and if the Court favors New Jersey’s right to legalize sports betting, PASPA will be effectively repealed.
In its statement, DraftKings made it clear that Hurley’s hiring was based largely on the expectation of an imminent PASPA repeal:
“(Hurley) will focus on preparing Sportsbook as a potential new line of business for DraftKings in anticipation of the pending Supreme Court decision in Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association.”
DraftKings is hardly alone in anticipating the launch of legal sports betting industries throughout the U.S.
Atlantic City’s leading casino property, the Borgata, has already constructed a sports bar area designed for quick conversion to a sportsbook. Meanwhile, states like West Virginia, Kansas, and New York are currently moving sports betting bills through their legislatures.