New Jersey sports wagering hopes facing uphill climb after hearing

New Jersey sports wagering hopes facing uphill climb after hearing

Legal sports wagering in America could have a steep hill to climb after oral arguments Wednesday in a federal appellate court, where a New Jersey sports betting law faced tough scrutiny from 12 justices, potentially signaling the need for a new federal sports wagering framework.

The arguments pitted two former U.S. Solicitors General against one another, with Ted Olson arguing for New Jersey and Paul Clement arguing on behalf of the four major sports leagues and the NCAA. The two sides have been locked in a court battle with New Jersey over the wagering issue since 2012.

The 90-minute session at times resembled a star-studded event, with a packed courtroom abuzz to watch two of the nation’s leading appellate litigators take part in an intellectual duel. U.S. Courts of Appeal almost never grant “en banc hearings,” which refer to when all or most of the judges on an appeals court rehear an earlier decision by three of its judges. Yet, as any bettor would tell you, “almost never” isn’t the same as “never.” Last October the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit granted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s petition for an en banc hearing of his longstanding lawsuit with the leagues.

At the crux of Wednesday’s en banc hearing on the future of sports betting—and indeed the entire multi-year litigation—is whether New Jersey can implement the New Jersey Sports Wagering Law. This law seeks to repeal the state’s prohibitions against sports betting and also removes wagering restrictions on specific racetracks and casinos in New Jersey.

But New Jersey has been unable to execute this plan. A 1992 federal law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) prohibits 46 states from licensing, sponsoring or authorizing sports betting. New Jersey is one of those 46 states (Delaware, Oregon, Montana and most significantly Nevada were grandfathered out of PASPA). The sports leagues sued New Jersey, saying its wagering law violates PASPA. The only way New Jersey can overcome the federal ban is by convincing a court that the ban is unlawful as it applies to New Jersey’s plan.

New details revealed in Manning litigation with ex-Tennessee trainer by Michael McCann At first glance it may seem surprising that leagues would sue a state over its desire to allow forms of sports betting. Betting on sports increases interest in those sports. Sports league officials—especially NBA commissioner Adam Silver—have signaled a desire for Congress and President Obama to lift the federal ban on sports betting and adopt a regulatory scheme. Nevertheless, leagues, along with the NCAA, are categorically opposed to New Jersey’s plan. They believe if it was authorized by a court, it would make their leagues vulnerable to worrisome aspects of sports gambling, such as athletes and coaches potentially “throwing” games. A concern about the relationship between sports betting and the outcome of games separates sports betting from lotteries, slot machines, card games and other gambling activities that bear no relationship with sports and are subject to regulatory schemes.

While a victory for New Jersey would only directly affect the state, other places could benefit from it as well. Delaware, Pennsylvania and the U.S. Virgin Islands would be guided by the binding precedent created by the Third Circuit, and likely move forward with their own state-based wagering efforts. A victory for the sports leagues, on the other hand, would ensure the continuation of Nevada’s dominance over legal sports wagering and would squelch Atlantic City’s long coveted aspirations for sports betting enterprises.

With that backdrop in mind, Olson appeared to face a skeptical bench. The judges seemed less concerned with whether the state could repeal its own restrictions than they were with the unregulated nature of sports betting the repeal would lead to. Olson also partook in an ostensibly semantic yet substantively important argument over what it means to “authorize” sports betting.

“I think we’re headed to federal regulation, and that’s O.K.,” said N.J. Sen. Raymond Lesniak, the architect of New Jersey’s 2014 law. “Any state that wants [wagering] can have it. New Jersey is happy with that. There’s plenty of action to go around.”

Breaking down N.Y.’s investigation into NFL ticket sale practices by Michael McCann In order to get a piece of that action, the state must convince the judges that its proposed repeal of anti-wagering laws is not the same thing as an active authorization of betting, even if it would result in sports betting taking place in New Jersey. As explored more fully below, Olson on Wednesday emphasized that no elements of PASPA technically prevent New Jersey from repealing any gambling laws. For his part, Clement conceded that the state is free to repeal any existing state gaming laws. Yet Clement also argued that by demarcating where and how sports wagering can take place, New Jersey’s law implicitly authorizes a federally banned activity even if it doesn’t explicitly say so.

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AFL club rejects sports betting deal

AFL club rejects sports betting deal

Australian Football League (AFL) club Richmond becomes the seventh Victorian club to trade a bookmaker sponsorship for a responsible gambling commercial hook-up.

AFL club rejects sports betting deal, keeps poker machinesThe Tigers signed a three-year partnership with the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (VRGF), a deal which would precludes the club from having sports betting sponsors.

The club were sponsored by Sportsbet last year, but the deal was not renewed for this season.

Richmond now joins the majority of Victorian AFL clubs North Melbourne, Collingwood, Western Bulldogs, Hawthorn, Essendon and St Kilda that signed up for the foundation’s responsible gambling charter, leaving Carlton, Melbourne and Geelong as the remaining Victorian clubs to have relationships with sports betting agencies.

But here’s the conflict, the Tigers will still keep their poker machine venues, which provide it and other clubs with a substantial and reliable income stream.

The decision of the seven AFL clubs also puts them at odds with the AFL’s agreement with Crownbet (formerly known as BetEasy).

Crownbet is the league’s official betting partner for the next five years starting with the 2015 season, a deal worth close to $10 million annually. In addition, Crownbet also signed a deal to broadcast AFL matches online via its website and apps for the remainder of 2015 and the entire 2016 seasons.

Victorian gaming minister Jane Garrett lauded the clubs’ agreement with VRGF, but said that sports betting money was not “the new tobacco” in sports sponsorship.

“The difference between tobacco and gambling is quite significant in that every cigarette is doing you damage and there is no benefit to smoking. It’s a killer product, its very use kills you or causes you physical damage,” Garrett added. “There are plenty of people who enjoy gambling. It’s part of our life in Australia … most people do it without developing a problem so there is a difference between tobacco and gambling. Tens of thousands of people are employed in the clubs and casinos across Victoria, it’s a great pastime for people who enjoy it without developing problems.”

Garrett also called on the federal government to release the review that Barry O’Farrell has done with the Australia’s 2001 Interactive Gambling Act (IGA), adding that the outcome would determine how the country would deal with the issue.

O’Farrell has reportedly delivered his report to the government and its findings would be made public this month.

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Iovation on The Cusp of a Nevada Gaming License

Iovation on The Cusp of a Nevada Gaming License

Tech company Iovation is on the cusp of being granted a Nevada Gaming license to offer geolocation services to regulated online gambling sites in the state despite having ties to one of the largest scandals in online poker history.

It’s May 2013, and Ultimate Poker decide to severe all ties with tech company Iovation after players react angrily to the reminder that they were the company that created the software for Ultimate Bet (UB), and the infamous ‘God Mode,’ that allowed Russ Hamilton and several key executives to steal $20m+ from unsuspected players.

Iovation on The Cusp of a Nevada Gaming LicenseTwo years later, and the name of Iovation has risen to the surface of the Nevada online gambling scene once again, after freelancer Steve Brogan picked up that the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) had conditionally recommended them for a Nevada gaming license. Iovation co-founder Greg Pierson is one of those former UB executives thought to have benefited from the ‘God Move’ functionality.

The Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) plan to make a decision during a hearing scheduled for Feb 18 at 10 am. If approved, they will be able to provide geolocation software to anyone looking to do business in the online gambling industry in Nevada.

Writing at her home over at intrepid reporter Haley Hintze advises that a ‘low-level official of the GCB’ contacted her last November to ask questions relating to the ‘controversial background of Iovation’. According to Hintze, the employee was not ‘willing to go the extra mile,’ although she did send him and the GCB an e-mail showing that Pierson was in possession of the ‘God Mode’ cheat facility.

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Indiana lawmakers discuss minimum age of 21 to play daily fantasy sports

Indiana lawmakers discuss minimum age of 21 to play daily fantasy sports

Raising the minimum age of players from 18 to 21 was among the changes lawmakers discussed Wednesday while considering a bill to clarify the legality of daily fantasy sports in Indiana.

The House Public Policy Committee will vote on the bill, already passed by the Indiana Senate, next Wednesday. If it passes, it would move to the full House.

After more than 90 minutes of discussion by the committee, chair Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, said “things will change” in multiple aspects of the bill.

Other potential amendments include moving the regulation of daily fantasy sports from the Horse Racing Commission to the Gaming Commission and the fees that daily fantasy sports companies would pay to a newly created fantasy sports administration and regulation fund run by the state.

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, has suggested that the fantasy sports bill isn’t a major issue. But Dermody said at the start of discussion on Senate Bill 339 that it was an “important issue to a million or half-million Hoosiers.”

That number is an estimate of all fantasy sports players, including season-long games that are less formal and typically organized among friends.

At issue in the legislature are games where players open accounts with real money at websites operated by large companies, such as DraftKings and FanDuel. There are 50,000 to 150,000 daily fantasy sports players in Indiana, according an estimate by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, said daily fantasy sports “is a big thing that’s going to be around for a long time” and that lawmakers have to get it right without having to revisit the issue in a few years.

“If we put this off, we’ll still have quite a few Hoosiers playing this without consumer protections,” the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute, told the committee.

Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, expressed concern about the games infringing on the operations of Indiana’s “racinos,” including Hoosier Park in Anderson.

“I represent a horse racetrack, and I’m very protective of it,” she told representatives of the fantasy sports industry. “I would like to make sure you can’t come in, and, by Internet gaming, basically undercut what’s going on in my community.”

As numerous state legislatures and attorneys general grapple with the legality of fantasy sports, Indiana — home of the NCAA’s headquarters — became the first state to have a bill specifically prohibiting the games from using college sports. That change was made in a Senate committee.

The bill would allow Indiana’s racinos and off-track betting operations to create their own fantasy sports games or contract with an existing company.

State revenue would come from licensing fees, which the Legislative Services Agency estimates would be $175,000 to $335,000 annually.

Daily fantasy sports involves players receiving points based on how real-life athletes perform on a particular day. Players fill out their lineups by “buying” the athletes they want, all of whom carry varying fictional price tags. Players must stay within a maximum budget when making their lineups. Players can enter one-on-one matches for $1 or games with higher fees and thousands of participants competing for seven-figure prizes.

FanDuel and DraftKings became ubiquitous on sports television during the start of football season with a torrent of ads. The companies have mainstream investors, including major professional sports leagues.

In October, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI was investigating the unregulated industry, including allegations that DraftKings employees used inside information to profit on a competing site.

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The Least Bad Presidential Candidate for Gambling

The Least Bad Presidential Candidate for Gambling

If we want to assess which presidential candidates would be best or least bad for the gaming industry, it’s tempting to just make a laundry list of each politician’s statements and/or votes on gaming issues, check their financial backers and where they stand, and then rank it all with some kind of algorithm. Or just guess. Google the issue and you’ll find a plethora of articles on each candidate and where they stand on the gambling industry.

And the Least Bad Presidential Candidate for Gambling Is…But such one-dimensional analysis, while somewhat helpful, doesn’t go deep enough in determining who would be the best candidate for the gambling industry as a whole. For example, you could have one candidate who is, say, against a federal ban on online gambling. While that’s obviously a plus for the industry, if the same candidate wants to jack up corporate and capital gains and VAT taxes on everything that moves so he can pay to repave a bunch of roads and bridges that don’t need repaving just so he can look like he’s “doing something” and “stimulating the economy,” then that would not be good.

Or if a candidate once even owned a bunch of casinos himself and really knows the industry well and definitely would not support a federal ban, that candidate could still be really bad for the gaming industry if he, say, wants to ignite trade and tariff wars with countries he accuses of “stealing American jobs” by selling stuff to American consumers.

No matter how you look at it this election, there really are no clearly good candidates for the gambling industry. There might be least bad and worst, but that’s it. In any case, let’s take the three front-running Republicans and the two Democrats and maybe come out with an answer of who would be the least bad, comparatively.

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio, AKA “Rubiobot” would probably be the worst of all possible choices for the gaming sector. Anyone last week who saw the exchange between this guy and Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey who helped make online gambling legal in his state, is fully aware that Rubio is a blank slate. Rubio was a literal broken record when he chanted a 20-second or so bit about Obama trying to purposely wreck the country, repeating the same thing three times almost word for word. The saddest part was that even after the second repeat when Christie called him out for repeating sound bites, he did it again, clearly flustered, not knowing what else to say.

Repeating yourself isn’t the problem though. It just illustrates a danger. The danger is, though it may only be an internet rumor, Sheldon Adelson is thought to be backing Rubio, probably because Rubio is basically Play Doh and Adelson can mold him however he wants to with a bunch of money. Adelson, of course, is vocally against any form of online gambling anywhere in the solar system, with the possible exception of Pluto, because Pluto is no longer considered a planet. Even if Rubio lowers taxes, he is probably the most likely to appease Adelson. Lower taxes won’t help if there is a ban.

Donald Trump

On the one hand, Trump knows the gaming industry, and he knows it well. But that does not mean he’d be good for the gambling sector. On the plus side, he’s made vocal statements supporting online gaming, and he doesn’t seem to want to raise taxes much. The problem with Trump, besides being totally unpredictable, is that his bellicosity would not be good for any business, let alone gaming. He is a big time protectionist, and he’s an angry one, too. He talks about building a wall, but more than a physical wall, he would erect trade barriers fitted with barbed ware around the United States and tax imports up several different wazoos. Americans would be forced to pay more for their goods and services as competition is restricted and supply goes down, and consumers will have less money to gamble with. But inefficient domestic producers of goods and services would benefit at the expense of everyone else.

When Trump loses one scapegoat, he moves to another. He used to attack OPEC a lot for jacking up oil prices. Well, so much for that fantasy scapegoat with oil at $30 a barrel and OPEC pumping at full speed. Now he’s focusing all of his wrath on China, which would be the main target of his trade war. Aside from risking actual war if he does slap high tariffs on Chinese goods, a Trump presidency could destroy any chances of a decent Macau recovery next year, for four years. When you erect trade barriers, you hurt both economies involved in trade, and a trade war with China will not help Macau at all. So while Trump may seem like a good candidate for gambling, he may practically, be very bad.

Ted Cruz

There’s not much to say about Cruz regarding the gaming industry other than that he’s pro “States’ Rights” (what about individual rights?) so he would not interfere in a state deciding if it will legalize gambling or prohibit it. In that sense he’s kind of neutral. The dangerous thing about Cruz is that he supports a VAT, a value added tax. A VAT adds a tax at every stage of production, for every business, at every level. Even if theoretically Cruz would suck up less tax money than other candidates so businesses could actually grow, he would still add another needle into the vein that would never be removed, and the next guy to come into office can jack taxes right back up again, keeping the VAT.

Bernie Sanders

Sanders voted yes on the Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act of 2006. Would he support a federal ban on online gambling? Hard to say. The fact that Adelson wants the ban, that Adelson represents money in politics which Sanders is “against” even though he himself accepts plenty of money for his own campaign, implies that he would probably not support such a ban.

However, of all candidates, he would increase taxes the most, borrow the most, have the Fed inflate the most and generally spend the most of any candidate. This is assuming Trump doesn’t succeed in starting an actual war with China which would be much more expensive than any of Sanders’s plans. The good thing about Sanders is that his plans are so grandiose that he probably wouldn’t succeed at passing any of them, aside from the likelihood of the US government defaulting on its debt sometime in the next four years anyway. In that sense, old Bernie would probably not be too bad for the gambling industry, relatively speaking, provided he fails in passing most of his spending schemes.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary voted in favor of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, that law we all love with a sarcasm that knows no bounds. Despite this though, Mrs. Clinton may in fact be the best candidate for gambling companies just because she inspires such loathing among Republicans, and even some Democrats, that they would all be united in stopping any initiative she has at all. It would be total gridlock and few consequential bills would even get through Congress during her entire tenure. Hillary represents the status quo, or the devil you know, which is almost always better than the devil you don’t in politics.

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House stops bill aimed at boosting N. M. Lottery

House stops bill aimed at boosting N. M. Lottery

A proposal aimed at shoring up New Mexico’s struggling lottery scholarship program was halted in the House.

House stops bill aimed at boosting New Mexico LotteryThe House Ways and Means Committee voted 5-8 on a “do-pass” motion on Senate Bill 180 Tuesday, which halted the bill’s progress.

The legislation, approved by the Senate on a 29-12 vote last week, would require the New Mexico Lottery Authority to provide $41 million a year for college scholarships. It would also remove the requirement for the lottery to funnel 30% of its monthly revenue to the state college scholarship program to allow the lottery to spend more money on advertising and promotion, draw in more players and offer bigger prizes, said Senate Finance Chair John Arthur Smith, the bill’s sponsor. That, in turn, could lead to an increase in lottery revenue and more money for scholarships.

“What we’re attempting to do is maximize the bottom line to the state for lottery scholarships,” said Smith.

Some backers of the scholarship program opposed the legislation and the 30% monthly contribution that has resulted in an additional $9 million a year for scholarships.

“The $41 million floor will become a ceiling because the lottery does not have an incentive to deliver one penny more to scholarships, even if lottery sales increase,” said Fred Nathan, the executive director of Think New Mexico.

Meanwhile, several senators voiced concern about language in the bill that could lead to the state lottery offering slot machines and other types of video gambling, which could put the states’ compact with tribes at risk.

New Mexico gets a portion of the tribes’ casino and racetrack gambling revenue, totaling about $60 million in 2015.

Smith and Lottery Authority CEO David Barden said that bill would not have given the lottery any power to buy or use lottery games.

“We’re very cognizant of not violating the compact,” Barden told committee members.

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