Category Archives: Events & Reports

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Sports Betting Takes Central Stage at Illinois House Committee Hearing

Category : Events & Reports

Illinois legislators bullish on benefits from the legalization of sports betting
Legal sports betting is coming to Illinois and the question is not “if” anymore, but when and what the state’s wagering regulatory framework will look like, it has become clear from a four-hour hearing on the matter that took place on Wednesday in Springfield.
During the hearing, members of the House Committee on Revenue and Finance heard input from industry stakeholders, major sports leagues, representatives from different cities and towns, associations representing professional sports players, and a number of other interested parties.
The potential expansion of gambling in the state has been discussed for several years now, but bills on the matter have failed to advance too far in the Legislature. A legislative piece by Rep. Bob Rita and his fellow legislator from the Senate, Sen. Terry Link, has been what has kindled the gambling expansion debate in the state.
SB 7 was originally introduced early in 2017 and has been amended several times since then to propose the construction of new casinos in the state as well as the addition of slots and other gaming machines at local horserace tracks. Most recently, the piece was extended with provisions regarding the legalization of sports betting, online gambling, and daily fantasy sports.
The Wednesday hearing was the second of two concerned with the potential gambling expansion in the state. Sports betting was the main topic of that second hearing. It seems that a number of legislators have already made up their minds and believe that legal sports betting will benefit Illinois.
Highlights from Wednesday’s Hearing
While Rep. Rita has been among the most active lobbyists for gambling expansion in the state, other bills on the matter were produced this year and more are expected to be drafted in the coming months as Illinois is clearly gearing up preparations for the addition of more legal gambling options.
Rep. Lou Lang said on Wednesday that he plans to introduce his own bill on the matter. He further revealed that he is on his third draft currently, but will not be presenting any piece until “it’s been distributed to all of the stakeholders” for their input. Online sports betting and daily fantasy sports will be part of the bill, Rep. Lang has pointed out.
In his comments during the hearing, the lawmakers also stressed on the importance of not rushing the state’s sports gambling legislation, pointing to Pennsylvania as an example of how speedy legalization is affecting the market’s lure and potential.
Pennsylvania legalized sports betting last October as part of a sweeping gambling reform. However, it implemented a 36% tax on gross revenue and a $10-million license application fee, which resulted in just four of the state’s 13 eligible operators applying for a sports betting license.
“If you do it too fast, you make a real mess of this, as the state of Pennsylvania did,” Rep. Lang said Wednesday.
The introduction of a so-called “integrity fee” or some form of royalty for professional sports leagues was another issue discussed during the Wednesday hearing. Four states have launched sports betting since the mid-May SCOTUS ruling that lifted a long-standing federal wagering ban, but none of them have implemented an integrity fee.
The fee has been pushed for by the nation’s professional sports leagues, with those asking to be contributed a portion of the proceeds generated by legal sports betting as wagering offering is practically based on their own product.
Rep. Lang shared his thoughts on the matter during the Wednesday hearing, saying that he had no problem “giving major leagues a fee, but I want to give them a fee for something.” The lawmaker further elaborated that if leagues want to be contributed a share of sports betting revenue they should provide something (“… data, photos, marketing data”) the state’s sports betting market needs to improve its sports betting product.
While a sports betting legislation could be introduced during next month’s veto session of the state Legislature, this is not likely to happen, particularly bearing in mind the upcoming mid-term election on November 6. With that said, lawmakers will probably seek to move to legalizing betting early next year.
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Majority of New Gambling Accounts in Sweden Registered with International Operators, Report Finds

Category : Events & Reports

Off-shore gambling operators have proved particularly popular with Swedish gamblers over the past year
Accounts registered with international online gambling operators represent 60% of all online gambling registrations made over the past 12 months in Sweden, local consultancy firm Mediavision reported earlier today.
The firm also found that nearly 60% of all Swedes aged between 18-74 have an online gambling account, up 12% from last year. Svenska Spel, the state-run operator that holds the monopoly over most of the gambling services provided on the country’s territory, still holds the largest share of all registered accounts. Mediavision reported that combined, all regulated gambling operators account for around 58% of all registered gambling accounts.
However, international operators seem to be gaining momentum as approximately 60% of all new registrations made over the past twelve months were namely with companies targeting Swedish gamblers from outside the country.
Commenting on the latest trends discovered by the consultancy firm, Mediavision’s Mazyar Sajjadi said that a possible explanation why new and existing customers seem to be more and more drawn to international gambling operators is “their marketing with special offers and deposit bonuses.” Licensed Swedish operators are banned from offering any such bonuses to lure customers, under the country’s current laws.
Sweden’s new gambling regulations are just a couple of months away from taking effect. From January 1, 2019 onwards, international operators will be able to operate legally in the country as long as they have obtained a license from the local gambling regulator, Lotteriinspektionen.
The Swedish Gambling Authority launched the application process in July and has recently announced that it has so far received 55 applications from international gambling companies that are interested to operate in the newly regulated local market.
Local News Outlet Slapped with Fine over Gambling Ads
News emerged late last week that the Administrative Court has slapped a SEK100,000 fine on local news outlet Nyheter24 for failing to remove links featured on its website that were referring to international online gambling websites that were not licensed in Sweden.
The case was first brought to media attention back in 2014 when Lotteriinspektionen filed for an injunction against the media outlet. In October 2017, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled in favor of the regulatory body. However, Nyheter24 was found to have not removed the links to the internationally licensed online gambling products.
Swedish media outlets have for years been heavily criticized for featuring gambling-related advertisements. However, they felt encouraged to do so after the European Commission had declared the country’s monopoly system over the provision of gambling services one that violated EU principles for free trade and movement of goods and services among member states.
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Israeli Court Blocks Naughty 1xBet, Two Other Gambling Websites

Category : Events & Reports

Russian online gambling operator 1xBet among those to face block by Israeli authorities
A Tel Aviv District Court judge ruled earlier this week that three gambling websites targeting Israeli customers should be blocked. The ruling arrived after the cybersecurity unit of Israel’s State Attorney’s office requested action from a district court as part of a crackdown on illegal gambling operations in the country.
With very few exceptions, gambling is mostly illegal in Israel. The country’s existing gambling law currently allows for the provision of sports betting and lottery products only. Online gaming services are banned.
Local news outlets reported that a Tel Aviv District Court judge ruled that the www.p2vbet.com, www.1xbet.com, and www.totobet777.com be blocked so they are prevented from targeting Israeli customers.
While the provision of online gambling services on the territory of Israel might be banned, the country has been a preferred destination for a multiple international gambling companies to set up offices in, with 888, Playtech, and Ladbrokes Coral being few of those.
The Monday ruling was based on a 2017 law, under which local District Courts have the authority to block access to websites with improper content as well as ones used for criminal purposes. A number of websites have been blocked following the implementation of the law.
However, experts have expressed doubts about the efficacy and success of blocking websites with content that violates local rules and violations as it is extremely easy to circumvent the ban.
1xBet – Everyone’s Favorite to Block
As mentioned earlier, 1xBet, a major bookmaker and casino games operator hailing from Russia, has been among the websites to face block from Israeli authorities. And it should be noted that the operator has somewhat turned into one of the industry’s bad boys as its reputation has been challenged on multiple occasions over the past several years.
1xBet was previously found to be featuring fake games posing as ones developed by NetEnt. The operator has removed the games since reports about their existence emerged, but skepticism over its operations will certainly remain.
In addition, aside from Israel, 1xBet has a strong presence on the blacklists of a number of regulated jurisdictions after it has been caught targeting customers in those without holding the necessary licenses to operate there.
In Poland, there are nearly 200 1xBet-related domains to have been added to the country’s blacklist of erring operators. It is also important to note that the local Finance Ministry has been actively adding unauthorized domains to the list since the country market’s re-organization in April 2017.
1xBet has also drawn ire from gambling watchdogs in its homeland and its domains are often part of illegal gambling operation purges conducted by local regulators. And while the operator was found to have blocked access to its main website from within Russia, it has created multiple domains targeting Russian gamblers.
The gambling operation found itself in the middle of a bitter controversy in Italy last year. It was first picked as the official international presenting partner of the Italian Serie A football league for the 2017-18 season. However, the partnership was later on suspended due to heavy criticism from the government and local regulators. 1xBet currently only holds an online gambling license from Curacao.
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Sports Betting Debate Gains Momentum in Illinois

Category : Events & Reports

Adding sports betting to the mix of gambling expansion opportunities makes sense, says Illinois legislator
Gambling expansion is once again on the discussion table in Illinois as the second of two hearings on the matter is set to take place later this week. This time, state lawmakers are set to discuss the potential legalization of sports betting, online gambling, and daily fantasy sports.
Sports betting has been creating the biggest buzz within the US gambling industry this year, following the May 14 ruling of the US Supreme Court that effectively lifted a long-standing federal ban on the provision of wagering services and left it to individual states to decide whether they want to legalize the activity or to stray from the sports betting bandwagon.
Efforts for the potential expansion of Illinois’ gambling industry have emerged on several occasions in recent years but without much success as bills on the matter have never survived committee consideration.
It was not any different this year, except for the fact that a gambling expansion bill (SB 7) presented earlier in 2018 by Rep. Bob Rita has turned into the basis for the ongoing discussions. A previous hearing was held in August when state lawmakers sought input from stakeholders during a four-hour event in Chicago.
That hearing considered the potential construction of more casinos around the state as well as the addition of slot machines and similar gaming devices at the state’s struggling horse racing tracks, among other things.
The upcoming hearing, scheduled to take place on Wednesday in the state’s capital Springfield, will be primarily concerned with sports betting, online gambling, and daily fantasy sports.
Sports Betting Makes Sense
According to State Rep. Mike Zalewski, who recently spoke with local news outlet the Herald & Review, the addition of sports betting in the gambling expansion mix only makes sense. Rep. Zalewski currently chairs the House Revenue Committee. The lawmaker has further pointed out that wagering could be “the tie than binds the different industries” and the “bricks and mortar” that would form a “unifying approach going forward”.
A recent report on gambling in the state compiled by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability dwelt briefly on the potential legalization of sports betting in the state. The report reads that “it is difficult to predict the revenue potential” of the gaming services discussed by the Legislature as the final product and its taxation are not determined. However, “each of [the] formats would create a new revenue source for the state.”
Additional revenue is certainly something Illinois needs as it once again struggled to create a spending plan for the next financial year and close a deficit of more than $1 billion.
New Jersey reported last week that it has recorded sports betting revenue of nearly $24 million in September and has handled around $184 million in wagers. According to Rep. Zalewski, $184 million in betting handle “in a state like New Jersey” presents real opportunity for Illinois. The lawmaker added that if mobile betting is added to the mix, “then you would talk about a real opportunity to have revenue affect the state.” Of the $184 million wagered in New Jersey last month, a total of $104 million was bet online or via mobile devices.
The Illinois sports betting hearing is scheduled for noon local time on Wednesday in the capital Springfield. While the hearing is an important step, a sports betting legislation will not be presented and potentially voted on before January 2019 when the new legislative session of the state Legislature is set to commence.
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Netherlands’ Failure to Regulate Online Gambling a “Disgrace”, Says Kansspelautoriteit Chairman

Category : Events & Reports

Dutch Senate yet to vote on Remote Gambling Bill that the Lower House approved two years ago
The Chairman of the Dutch gambling regulator, Kansspelautoriteit, Jan Suyver, called it a disgrace that the Netherlands has failed to re-regulate and liberalize its online gambling market. Mr. Suyver commented on the country’s current local online gaming and betting landscape in a recent interview with news outlet Financieele Dagblad.
The Chairman of the Dutch gambling authority pointed out that the Netherlands is one of very few EU countries to have not regulated their online gambling markets in a manner that allows for international companies to apply for and obtain licenses and operate in a monitored and regulated environment.
Mr. Suyver went on to say that everywhere he goes, online gambling is legalized and jurisdictions with regulated markets really find it difficult to understand why the Netherlands has failed to keep pace with the developments in the gambling industry.
The Kansspelautoriteit Chairman further elaborated that a possible reason for the delayed re-organization of the local market might be the staunch opposition from the Dutch Parliament’s two Protestant parties – the Christien Unie and the SGP.
The country’s gambling law has barely been changed over the past five decades and the last significant amendments to the way gambling operations were conducted in the Netherlands were made before the rise of the Internet.
Senate Yet to Vote on Bill
A Remote Gambling Bill was approved by the lower house of the Dutch Parliament in 2016 and it is now up to the Senate to pass it and move to the re-organization of the country’s gambling market. The Senate was expected to discuss the bill after the Parliament’s summer recess, but any significant progress on the legislative piece is yet to be made.
Under the piece of legislation, international gambling companies will be able to apply for licenses and operate in a regulated environment. The re-organization of the local market will also provide Kansspelautoriteit with greater powers to spot and penalize erring operators.
The local gambling regulator has been imposing fines on companies targeting Dutch customers without being authorized to do so, but has found it hard to collect the fines. Malta-headquartered online gambling operators Betsson and Mr Green were the latest to be slapped hefty fines by the regulatory body and both said they would appeal the penalties.
While Dutch courts have traditionally sided with Kansspelautoriteit over the years, the regulator still lacks the power to actually punish companies luring Dutch players.
However, under recent proposals, operators previously fined by the regulator might have to wait for a while before being allowed to apply for licenses when the country finally regulates its online gambling market. A punitive measure of this kind has been broadly discussed and it now seems that it might be implemented, as recently stated by Dutch Minister for Justice and Security Sander Dekker.
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Caesars Selling Off-Strip Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, Fresh Round of Reports Suggests

Category : Events & Reports

Sale of Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, located just off the Las Vegas Strip, might be imminent this time, according to reports
Reports about the potential sale of Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, the off-Strip resort that has been hosting the World Series of Poker since 2005, have been emerging now and again for the past decade. And such reports have been particularly persistent over the past several months.
According to popular blog for everything Las Vegas-related, Vital Vegas, the eventual sale of the property might be on the way. In a tweet from last night, Vital Vegas said that there has been information that room service for the entire off-Strip resort is set to soon end at 11:00 pm daily. In addition, it seems that a significant portion of the butler staff at Palazzo Villa would be laid off in the coming week and dedicated kitchen would be shut down. It really seems that the property might this time be handed to a new owner.

Chatter out of Rio is room service for entire resort will soon end at 11:00 p.m. daily. Also hear a good portion of butler staff of Palazzo Villa suites to be laid off next week, dedicated kitchen to be shut down. We vote further indication of sale.
— Vital Vegas (@VitalVegas) October 8, 2018
Casino News Daily reported last month, once again thanks to Vital Vegas, that Caesars was “highly motivated” to sell its off-Strip hotel and casino resort and that three viable suitors have been circling it.
According to reports, the sale of Rio would result in the move of the annual WSOP poker festival to a new venue. And Vital Vegas believes that the $375-million Caesars Forum convention center, currently under construction in Las Vegas, will be the new home to the popular tournament poker series. Caesars has denied rumors for the potential move of the WSOP to another venue, but said rumors have become extremely persistent lately.
Previous Rio Sale Reports
First reports about the potential sale of Rio date back to 2010, when it emerged from unnamed sources that the property’s then owner Harrah’s Entertainment was seeking a buyer for the off-Strip casino resort. News outlets also reported back then that the property had quite some suitors and some were valuing it at around $500 million.
In 2013, Caesars was reportedly approached by the parent company of online poker operator PokerStars and a transaction was really close to happening, but eventually fell through. PokerStars’ then-Vice President of Corporate Communications fueled the rumors even further by confirming that the parent company of the poker brand was indeed interested in buying Rio.
A year later, in 2014, Robin Leach, a pioneer entertainment journalist, reported that an off-Strip resort had just been sold for $400 million and many suggested that the unnamed resort was namely Rio.
Rio opened doors early in 1990. It features more than 2,500 hotel rooms, a 117,300-square-foot casino with 1,100 slots and 90 table games, multiple entertainment and dining facilities, and around 160,000 square feet of convention space. It has most notably been host to the WSOP since 2005, when the series was relocated from its previous home, Binion’s Horseshoe.
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Casino Boss Sheldon Adelson Buys $40-Million Penthouse in Tel Aviv’s Akirov Towers

Category : Events & Reports

The Las Vegas casino boss owns one more apartment in the locally popular residential towers
US casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has increased his real estate portfolio with the recent purchase of a penthouse in one of the Akirov Towers in Tel Aviv, local financial news outlet the Globes reports. Mr. Adelson has reportedly paid $40 million for the luxury apartment.
Located on Pinkas Street in Old North Tel Aviv, the Akirov Towers were designed by Moore Yaski Sivan Architects and were built in the 2000s. The three residential towers each feature 34 stories and are nearly identical in height.
According to the Globes, Mr. Adelson bought the penthouse, which occupies the 33rd and 34th floors of the middle tower, in late July for an asking price of $40 million. The Las Vegas casino owner purchased the apartment from the sons of late Israeli business magnate and philanthropist Sammy Ofer. The businessman passed away in 2011.
The luxury penthouse occupies 900 square meters and has a 150-square-meter balcony with a panoramic view of Tel Aviv. The Akirov Towers are among the city’s most popular and coveted addresses. And the recently purchased apartment is not the only unit owned by the Adelson family in the towers. The Globes reports that a separate unit has previously been registered in the name of Mr. Adelson’s wife Miriam Adelson.
With estimated net worth of $35 billion (Forbes: October 5, 2018), Mr. Adelson is one of the world’s richest people. He is the founder, Chairman, and CEO of Las Vegas gaming and hospitality giant Las Vegas Sands. The businessman and his wife are major donors of different Jewish organizations. Most recently, they donated $70 million to Birthright, a program aiming to bring young Jewish adults to Israel on short educational trips.
Other Notables Owning Units in Akirov Towers
The Adelsons are not the only high-profile owners of apartments in the locally popular residential towers. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has, too, previously owned a unit in Akirov Towers, which he sold to another gambling boss several years ago.
As reported by local media, it was Playtech founder Teddy Sagi who bought the apartment on the 31sr floor in one of the three towers. The businessman reportedly paid the amount of NIS26.5 million for the unit previously owned by Mr. Barak.
Mr. Sagi actually has quite an impressive real estate portfolio across his homeland. Last spring, he bought two penthouse apartments in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Herzliya for NIS32 million. In 2010, he bought a house in the affluent Herliya Pituah beachfront neighborhood for NIS145 million. The businessman also owns a triplex on the 44-46th floors of Tel Aviv’s W Tower, which he has purchased from local real estate developer Moshe Peterburg for NIS19 million.
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West Virginia Lottery Commission Approves Permanent Sports Betting Rules, Rejects Integrity Fee Proposal

Category : Events & Reports

Integrity fee should be a matter discussed between casinos and sports leagues, without the state, says WV Racing Association President
The West Virginia Lottery Commission approved Wednesday the permanent rules for the operation of legal sports betting on the territory of the state. The regulator rejected all proposals made by professional sports leagues, most remarkably the one concerning the introduction of an integrity fee.
The so-called integrity fee has become the object of clashing opinions from professional sports leagues, lawmakers, regulators, and gambling industry stakeholders. Sports leagues have been asking for a share of what the nascent US sports betting market is generating, but lawmakers and regulators in all the states where wagering has become legal since the historical US Supreme Court ruling in May have dismissed demands for said fee when crafting the relevant betting legislations.
During a Wednesday meeting, the West Virginia Lottery Commission reviewed and voted on 18 comments and proposed changes to the state’s current sports betting regulations. As mentioned earlier, it voted down all seven proposals made by the sports leagues, including the one demanding the addition of an integrity fee.
State gambling regulators said after their vote that they did not want to intervene in negotiations between private business entities, that is the sports leagues themselves and casinos that operate sports wagering at their premises.
West Virginia approved a legal sports betting framework this past spring in anticipation of the SCOTUS ruling. First legal sports betting operations were launched at the end of August at Hollywood Casino in Charles Town. The Greenbrier launched its own sportsbook a couple of weeks later.
Reactions to the Rejected Integrity Fee Proposal
The newly appointed Director of the West Virginia Lottery Commission, John Myers, discussed integrity in a presentation ahead of the Wednesday vote on the proposed changes to the state’s betting rules. Mr. Myers said that integrity has always been part of the regulator’s policy and that it gives confidence to players to play.
Integrity is not a four-letter word […] If we don’t have integrity, players don’t play. If they don’t play, we lose revenue.
John Cavacini, President of the West Virginia Racing Association, the organization representing the state’s casinos, said following the Wednesday vote that commissioners had made the right call by deciding not to involve in negotiations between “privately held, for-profit” entities. Mr. Cavacini further pointed out that despite the rejected integrity fee proposals, West Virginia casinos are interested in discussing the matter with sports leagues on “an individual, contractual basis” as business organizations.
Commissioners approved on Wednesday two rule changes that would allow West Virginia bettors to check their mobile betting accounts while in another state. However, they would still only be able to wager money while they are physically located in West Virginia.
Mobile sports betting is expected to be rolled out in the state by the end of the year, probably in the coming weeks. It has also become clear that two more gambling venues, the Delaware North-owned Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack and Mardi Gras Casino, are expected to launch their sportsbooks in the next few weeks. The two properties originally planned to go live with sports wagering operations in late September, but notified state regulators that they needed a bit more time.
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