New Jersey Casino Smoking Ban Gets Legislative Hearing

Feb. 1, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

In New Jersey, legislators have scheduled a hearing to discuss a proposed ban on smoking in Atlantic City casinos. The hearing in Trenton is set for Feb. 13 in the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

Smoking is allowed on up to 25% of the casino floor in New Jersey, the Associated Press reported, but casino workers and health advocates are seeking a total ban. 

In other states, casino employees also are continuing to push for a smoking ban. Here is a list that Gambling.com posted last year of smoke-free casinos nationwide. An updated list will be provided as new information becomes available. 

Sports Betting Is Technically Legal In Nebraska, But You Still Can’t Bet

Feb. 2, 2022 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Nebraska legalized sports betting through a ballot referendum in November 2020. The state has taken its time to launch, considering it only allows retail betting. 

Technically, sports betting is now legal in Nebraska, following the publishing of official rules. But according to Nebraska Racing and Gaming Executive Director Tom Sage, the infrastructure is not in place to launch. 

Only two facilities meet the requirements to offer sports betting:

  1. WarHorse Casino in Lincoln
  2. Elite Casino Resorts in Grand Island

Minnesota Has A New Sports Betting Bill

Feb. 2, 2022 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Minnesota State Sen. Jeremy Miller plans to introduce legislation legalizing sports betting in the state. Miller’s proposal would see tribes hold a monopoly on mobile betting, but commercial racetracks and professional sports teams would be able to offer retail betting alongside the state’s tribal casinos. 

One interesting wrinkle is major sporting events (everything from the Super Bowl to the Big 10 Championships to WWE events) would be able to apply for a temporary on-site sports betting license. 

Minnesota was a darkhorse candidate to legalize sports betting in 2022 and were it not for the late addition of commercial racetracks to the mix, the state would likely be setting up its mobile sports betting rather than taking another bite at the apple in 2023.

Inside Scoop: Per sources, Miller’s bill is unlikely to gain traction. We expect a second bill to be introduced by a Democrat lawmaker in the coming days. that bill is expected to be the vehicle for sports betting discussions this year. 

Does iGaming Hurt Brick-and-Mortar Casinos? No, FanDuel Says

Feb. 1, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

For years, Las Vegas casino owners, including the Sands’ Sheldon Adelson, opposed any form of online gaming. 

The thought was that a gambler using a computer or cellphone to bet on sports or play blackjack won’t bother driving to a traditional casino. 

At a brick-and-mortar casino, unlike a living room couch, a customer presumably would drop money not only at on-site table games and slot machines but also in restaurants, bars and gift shops.

That attitude still exists. To this day, Nevada bettors wanting to use a mobile sports wagering app have to register in person at a licensed gaming site. iGaming is illegal in the Silver State.

Outside Nevada, some casino operators have the same attitude.

At the G2E conference in Las Vegas last fall, Jay McDaniel, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, told Gambling.com that off-site mobile sports betting has had trouble winning approval at the Legislature in Jackson because casino operators are concerned that mobile wagering will keep customers from going inside casinos. Two of Mississippi’s 26 commercial casinos allow on-site mobile sports betting, but off-site wagering is illegal, as is iGaming.  

No Harm Done: Geneski

This week during a New York legislative hearing in Albany, FanDuel Group President Christian Genetski addressed concerns that iGaming will hurt the land-based casinos’ bottom line.

Mobile and in-person sports betting are already legal in New York, but iGaming is not.

Genetski told New York lawmakers that data from states with iGaming, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan, shows iGaming doesn’t cannibalize brick-and-mortar casinos. It helps, he said.

“It’s attracting a different kind of consumer to casinos that would never come before,” Genetski said. 

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Queens, told Gambling.com he hopes to win approval this year for an iGaming bill linking iGaming apps to land-based casinos.

Georgia Senators Introduce Standalone Sports Betting Bill

Feb. 1, 2022 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

A group of 11 Georgia senators has introduced a standalone sports betting bill (SB 57). The bill will likely compete with a separate, comprehensive bill to bring casinos and sports betting to the state via a constitutional amendment.

The standalone bill authorizes up to 18 mobile licenses, with nine reserved for professional sports teams and venues that host PGA and NASCAR events. The remaining licenses would be up for grabs in a competitive bidding process.

The measure calls for a 20% tax rate. The bill does not allow promotional deductions but does allow Georgia sports betting operators to deduct the federal excise tax from their tax obligations.

What sets SB 57 apart is it would bypass the constitutional amendment requirement by placing a wedge between traditional casino games of chance, and sports betting, which can be argued is a game of skill. That is accomplished by having the Georgia Lottery run sports betting, which has been argued can be done without a constitutional amendment. 

Texans Support Sports Betting, Big-City Casinos: Poll

Jan. 31, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

A University of Houston poll shows Texans support Senate Joint Resolution 17 to allow statewide sports betting, a casino in each of the four largest metro areas — Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth — and limited casino gambling at horse and dog tracks.

Those who support SJR17 include:

  • 69% of born-again Christians
  • 78% of people who do not identify as born-again Christians
  • 83% of Black, 77% of Latino and 73% of white Texans
  • 78% of men and 72% of women
  • 80% of Democrats, 74% of Independents and 72% of Republicans
  • 75% of urban Texans, 74% of rural Texans and 66% of suburban residents

The university’s Hobby School of Public Affairs conducted the online survey in English and Spanish from Jan. 9-19. In total, 1,200 Texans ages 18 and older participated in the survey. The margin of error is +/-2.8%.

Online Bookmakers, New York Legislators Dispute 51% Mobile Tax Rate, Support iGaming

Jan. 31, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

Executives from FanDuel and DraftKings urged New York legislators on Tuesday to lower the 51% tax rate on mobile sport betting revenue. Some legislators expressed concerns about lowering the rate.

Speaking at a legislative hearing in Albany, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins and FanDuel President Christian Genetski said the rate is too high and could lead to a falloff in wagering statewide.

That falloff could occur, Robins said, because of adjustments the bookmakers will have to make to survive in New York. Those adjustments include offering less favorable betting odds than neighboring states with mobile wagering. Such steps would drive bettors to illegal websites, he said.

‘Color Me Skeptical’

Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Queens, said it was “no secret” when mobile sports wagering began statewide in January 2022 that the tax rate would be 51%. He said it is a “hard argument” to make that a reduction would not hurt education funding.

Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D- Round Lake, said, “Color me skeptical,” regarding the idea that a lower rate will bring in enough new bettors to offset the lost revenue the state depends upon.

iGaming Support Urged

Also at Tuesday’s hearing, Robins and Genetski urged legislators to approve iGaming in New York.

Addabbo, who supports iGaming, said he will continue the discussion on that topic at a future date. He previously told Gambling.com he plans to push for legislation this year to legalize iGaming.

The hearing Tuesday was a fact-gathering session among members of both legislatives chambers. No votes were taken.

Hearing Scheduled For Maryland Online Gambling Bill 

Jan. 31, 2022 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Maryland lawmakers will hold their first discussions on a proposal to legalize online casinos and online poker. 

The hearing is scheduled for February 15 with the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

The proposal, (SB 267) was introduced by Sen. Ron Watson and Sen. Nancy King. If passed, it would put online gambling in the hands of Maryland voters on the 2024 ballot. 

Per the bill’s synopsis:

Authorizing the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission to issue certain licenses to certain video lottery operators to conduct or participate in certain Internet gaming operations in the State; authorizing the Governor, on recommendation of the Commission, to enter into certain multijurisdictional Internet gaming agreements with certain other governments, subject to certain limitations; and submitting the Act to a referendum of the qualified voters of the State.

Massachusetts Retail Betting Launches Today

Jan. 31, 2022 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Mobile betting is still weeks away but beginning today at 10 AM Massachusetts bettors will have the option to place retail bets at one of three locations in the state.

  • Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, MA
  • MGM Springfield in Springfield, MA
  • Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, MA

All three locations will feature an on-site sportsbook and sports betting kiosks in other approved areas of the casinos.

  • Plainridge Park will start with a temporary Barstool-branded sportsbook with five betting windows and 18 kiosks.
  • MGM Springfield will boast a BetMGM Sportsbook sportsbook with eight betting windows, along with 18 kiosks.
  • Encore Boston Harbor’s WynnBET Sportsbook Sportsbook features 10 betting windows, with 120 kiosks placed around the property.

Each location is bringing in former Massachusetts athletes and local personalities for the ribbon-cutting ceremonies and to place the historic first bets.  

New York’s 51% Mobile Sports Betting Tax Expected to Come Up at Hearing 

Jan. 30, 2023 | Larry Henry | @NEWSLarryHenry 

In-person sports betting in Massachusetts begins tomorrow (Jan. 31) at 10 a.m. ET, but 30 minutes earlier, a separate event regarding sports betting kicks off in New York’s capital city, Albany.

At 9:30 a.m. ET, Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Queens, and Assemblyman. Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, are holding a legislative hearing on mobile sports wagering’s first year in New York and its impact on the state budget. In addition to the 51% tax on mobile sports betting, topics such as iGaming and downstate Las Vegas-style casinos might also come up.

New Hampshire Enters The Online Casino Conversation

Jan. 30, 2022 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Sen. Timothy Lang introduced a bill seeking to legalize online casinos and poker in New Hampshire. The legislation (SB 104) would license 3-5 online sites through a bidding process and run by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. This model is similar to the state’s sports betting industry.  

The bill was discussed in the Ways and Means Committee on Jan. 25, but no vote was taken.

The bill will pit big national brands (the likely winners of the bidding process) against the state’s small brick & mortar retail gambling establishments that fall under New Hampshire’s “charitable gaming” law. 

The legislation is tied to an effort to create free in-state tuition at two-year colleges for eligible residents. 

Sports Betting Faces An Uphill Climb In Alabama 

Jan. 30, 2022 | Steve Ruddock | @SteveRuddock

Alabama Sen. Greg Albritton announced his plans to introduce legislation legalizing a state lottery, casinos, and sports betting once again, hopefully with a different outcome. 

A 2020 study painted a positive picture of gambling in Alabama. Gov. Kay Ivey supported a 2021 gambling package, and newly elected House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter is lukewarm to gambling expansion. Still, any gambling expansion in Alabama will take a Herculean effort. 

  • A constitutional amendment will be required, which means any effort will have to pass the legislature, the governor, and the residents.
  • According to AL.com, gambling bills are 0-180 since 1999. The 2021 package passed the Senate but was never considered by the House.
  • The state’s electronic bingo halls (the only form of gambling in Alabama) are under fire from Attorney General Steve Marshall and the Alabama Supreme Court.

The new legislative session begins on March 7.

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