GamblingCompliance: After Epic Super Bowl, U.S. Sports Betting Push Picks Up Steam

14TH FEB 2017 | WRITTEN BY: CHRIS SIEROTY

A new poll has found only 15 percent of American adults admit they would bet on the Super Bowl if it were legal to do so, a surprisingly low percentage given the amount of money the casino industry’s main lobbying group estimates was wagered illegally this year.

The poll was released as two Republican lawmakers in Maryland introduced legislation to legalize sports betting should the federal ban be overturned by the courts or Congress.

The Seton Hall Sports Poll mostly focused on Super Bowl 51 between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons, won by the Patriots after an epic comeback.

Rick Gentile, director of the poll, found that 10 percent acknowledged wagering on the game, either through a bet, a pool or a fantasy league, whereas 84 percent said they had no wager on the game.

Gentile then asked 661 adults nationwide whether they would have bet on the game if sports gambling was legal in their state.

Among the respondents, 15 percent said yes, whereas 79 percent said they would not place a Super Bowl bet, and 6 percent said they did not know.

The poll outcome appears to reflect the lingering stigma attached to betting, according to Gentile.

“Historically, we’ve gotten the same response,” he told GamblingCompliance.

“We’ve asked this question in various forms for ten years. People simply don’t want to admit they have or will gamble on the Super Bowl or March Madness.”

“I keep asking the question because it’s fascinating to hear their responses,” Gentile said.

In the only state in U.S. where sports wagering is fully legal, betting handle on the Super Bowl in Nevada set a record this year of $138.5m.

Nevada’s sportsbooks won about $10.9m, or just under an 8 percent hold, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Still, the American Gaming Association (AGA) estimated that Americans wagered a total of $4.7bn on the Super Bowl, with 97 percent of the bets, or $4.5bn, being placed illegally due to the federal ban signed into law in 1992.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) bans single-game wagering in all states bar Nevada, while allowing very limited wagering in Delaware, Montana and Oregon.

Even as pollsters and lobbyists debate the potential of legalized sports betting, there are a number of states that have filed new legislation since January 1 aimed at authorizing legal sports betting in spite of the federal ban.

The latest effort is in Maryland, where a pair of Republican state delegates — Jason Buckel and Kevin Hornberger — have filed House Bill 989, which would establish a “Task Force to Study the Implementation of Sports Gaming.”

The goal of the group would be to recommend a policy for the state should there be some change in the federal law outlawing sports betting.

“The introduction of a sports-betting bill in Maryland is the latest indication of a growing desire to lift the federal sports-betting ban,” said Erik Balsbaugh, vice president of public affairs at the AGA.

“With public support behind them, states are realizing that lifting the ban would allow them to recapture lost revenues that could support vital public services,” Balsbaugh said.

The Maryland task force would consist of three delegates, three state senators, the director of Maryland’s gaming regulatory agency, plus representatives from the state’s casino and horseracing industries.

Casinos and racetracks would be eligible to apply for a “sports gaming license,” according to the seven-page bill. HB 989 is currently being considered by the House Ways and Means Committee in Annapolis.

To become reality, HB 989 would require either a congressional repeal or amendment to PASPA, and approval by a state-wide voter referendum at the next November election following its passage.

Through the bill, Maryland has joined Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina as states that have introduced sports-betting legislation this year, with one eye on PASPA’s demise.

New Jersey has passed a series of sports-betting bills in recent years in defiance of PASPA, with a legal appeal currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“You are going to see more states enacting ‘stand-by’ legislation,” said Daniel Wallach, a gaming attorney with Becker & Poliakoff in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Wallach told GamblingCompliance on Monday that these bills “would enable states to take advantage right away” of any changes in federal law.

“For the first time we are on the verge of something,” Wallach said. “As many as eight to ten states will have these bills. In some cases they’ll be bills to change the state constitution, others will allow them to be ready when the law changes.”

Maryland’s bill was introduced about a week after Michigan Representative Robert Kosowski introduced House Bill 4060, which aims to allow the state’s land-based casino license holders to accept wagers on sporting events.

Similar to Maryland, Michigan residents would first have to approve the measure in a state-wide referendum.

Wallach expected the U.S. Supreme Court to grant a hearing on New Jersey’s efforts to legalize sports betting.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court delayed a ruling on whether it would take up New Jersey’s latest challenge to the scope of PASPA.

Instead, the court asked the U.S. solicitor general’s office for advice on its consideration of a federal appeals court ruling that New Jersey’s 2014 sports-betting legislation violates federal law.

The court’s decision to ask for the solicitor general to file a brief on behalf of the federal government means a decision could take several more months, especially since President Trump has not named a new solicitor general yet.

In a 9-3 decision last August, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said New Jersey’s sports-betting law violates PASPA.

However, Wallach went so far as to predict the “Supreme Court will invalidate PASPA by June 2018.”

GamblingCompliance: New Jersey Fines PokerStars Over Out-Of-State Bets

8TH FEB 2017 | WRITTEN BY: CHRIS SIEROTY

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has levied a $25,000 fine against Amaya for allowing out-of-state bets to be placed on its PokerStars mobile site.

The fine was the second issued by the DGE within the last year against an online gaming company for accidentally accepting wagers from beyond New Jersey’s borders.

On June 27, 2016, the DGE similarly fined GameAccount Network (GAN) $25,000 for allowing out-of-state betting on its Android app.

GAN is the online gambling software provider for Betfair in New Jersey.

According to a civil action order signed by DGE director David Rebuck on January 20 but published on Tuesday, the fine against Amaya US Services stems from an investigation into a software glitch that revealed gamblers not physically in New Jersey were allowed to wager on PokerStars.

“The [DGE] issued a fine of $25,000 to Amaya US Services for a software flaw related to geolocation checks that affected a small number of players on PokerStars.NJ,” an Amaya US spokesman said in a statement emailed to GamblingCompliance on Tuesday.

“Upon discovery, the issue was quickly resolved and Amaya US proactively reported it to the DGE,” an Amaya spokesman said. “While the number of people and amounts wagered were minimal, Amaya US acknowledges and accepts that this is a serious matter and continues to be wholly committed to providing a safe, secure and compliant playing platform in New Jersey.”

Before the problem was discovered and corrected, 12 people located outside New Jersey deposited a total of $425 and were able to play for an average of 22 minutes each.

In the two-page order, Rebuck wrote that the fine was backed up by “sufficient legal and factual support.”

PokerStars reported to the DGE that it had identified a flaw in its “handoff software” that allowed a limited number of gamblers located outside New Jersey to engage in real-money gaming “before a subsequent geolocation check detected [them] and blocked them from wagering.”

The DGE wrote the issue “was corrected on or about September 8 and all patrons are correctly being checked to confirm they are physically present in New Jersey.”

New Jersey’s 2013 internet gaming law requires that online bets are placed only in New Jersey, with licenses limited to casinos in Atlantic City and servers installed within the city as well.

Although federal laws including the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) ban unlawful betting across state lines, there is no suggestion Amaya broke them in this case.

“UIGEA creates a federal violation if the operator knowingly accepts a money transfer from someone from a state where betting online is illegal,” Anthony Cabot, a partner with Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie, said in an email Tuesday.

“No violation would occur where the operator did not know or had no reason to know that players from outside New Jersey were participating in the activities,” Cabot wrote.

Last year’s fine against GAN stemmed from an incident in which the company “inadvertently activated software on its Android application” that allowed six people located outside New Jersey to wager “less than $350 on their internet gaming accounts.”

Between the time at which DGE discovered the inconsistencies and the date of the fine order, GAN retooled its Android app software to fix the glitch, per the DGE’s order last June. The DGE said that fix was “tested and approved by the division.”

In both cases, software errors allowed very few out-of-state players to place bets in New Jersey’s regulated online casino market. Regulators have generally cited the state’s strict geolocation rules and systems as a significant success story.

The Amaya and GAN fines are not the first that the DGE has levied for compliance breaches in New Jersey’s online gaming market.

Since online gambling was launched Bwin.Party ($10,000) has also been fined for non-compliance of terms of a divestiture agreement that was a condition of its suitability approval in 2013.

Caesars Interactive ($25,000) and Resorts Casino ($7,200) have been fined for direct advertising to residents on a self-exclusion list. Meanwhile, Borgata ($5,000) and the Tropicana Casino ($2,200) were also previously fined for accepting wagers from underage gamblers.