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Wisconsin Weighing the Options for Sports Betting

The start of the NFL season has brought with it a new interest throughout the United States due to the fact that many residents can legally place wagers on their favorite teams for the first time. With an increase in sportsbooks at casinos throughout the Midwest, as well as the establishment of popular sports betting sites in neighboring states, the state of Wisconsin is feeling the pressure to follow suit.

At the start of the NFL season this past weekend, residents of Wisconsin were able to cross the Mississippi River into Dubuque, Iowa to place their wagers on the Packers, as well as other NFL teams. After the Supreme Court’s decision in 2018 to give states the right to legalize gambling, 13 states have legalized sports betting and 35 states could push for legalization in the next five years, as reported by the Madison State Journal.

Sports Betting Throughout the Midwest

Iowa’s Diamond Jo Casino, located just outside of Dubuque, is one of the many casinos throughout the country that now offers a sportsbook for those interested in placing wagers on NFL games, as well as other sports. Bettors previously had to fly to Las Vegas or place their bets through a bookie or offshore sportsbook, now they just need $5 and transportation to the Diamond Jo Casino, whose sportsbook is run by popular daily fantasy sports provider FanDuel.

In addition to the sports betting options in Iowa, a number of other sports wagering opportunities have presented themselves in the Midwest. Just a week before the NFL season kicked off, Indiana opened its sportsbooks, and Illinois will be doing the same before the end of the year. Michigan and Minnesota legislators are also pushing to legalize sports gambling in their states as well.

Despite the rate at which sports betting is spreading throughout the country, the state of Wisconsin has yet to take definitive steps toward legalization. Throughout the United States, sports gambling has shown that it can be successful in bringing in significant amounts of money in the states where it has been legalized. Delaware has brought in over $7 million in taxes since legalization, while Pennsylvania and New Jersey have brought in $8 million and $28 million respectively. So, what’s the hold up in Wisconsin?

Obstacles and Timetable for Legalization

Representative Tyler Vorpagel believes that the legalization of sports betting in the state of Wisconsin could be beneficial for the state as a whole, as he told NBC Green Bay. Vorpagel was responsible for the introduction of the Daily Fantasy Sports bill, but the bill never reached an assembly vote. Despite Vorpagels efforts, there are still many who oppose the suggestion that Wisconsin should legalize sports betting. Organizations like Citizens Against Gambling believe that the legalization would come at the expense of residents, who may fall victim to large gambling companies who try to take advantage of addictive gambling behaviors.

A realistic timetable for the legalization of sports betting within the state of Wisconsin would suggest that the process could take years. The idea needs for first be approved by the Assembly and the Senate in two consecutive session, which would then lead to a referendum that would allow for an amendment to the state’s constitution. An alternative option for sports betting in the state of Wisconsin would be through tribal casinos, which are already operating under a gaming compact in the state.

If the state chose to take the longer route, the tribal nations that are currently operating 26 casinos within the state of Wisconsin could be affected and may push to renegotiate their existing compact to allow them to offer sports gambling anyway. There is some concern that the legalization of sports betting in the state would stop payments to the state from these tribes, due to the fact that they would no longer have the exclusive right to offer gambling in the state. This is concerning considering the state received $53 million from the tribes in the past year.

Lingering Concerns

To some, the benefits of legalizing sport betting in Wisconsin are clear. However, many of these benefits are still in question. While the taxation of legal sports betting will certainly bring money into the state, there is some concern over the projected revenue. Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia have all brought in half or less than half of what they expected from the legalization of sports betting.

Proponents of the push for legalization suggest that sports betting is already taking place illegally within the state of Wisconsin; the legalization and regulation of this betting would only benefit the state and its residents. The concern is that this legalization would make betting more available, making it dangerous for residents who may be suffering from gambling addiction. Although sports betting has been legalized in other areas of the country, there is still much debate about the rules and regulations of such an initiative.

For the time being, residents of Wisconsin will have to settle with crossing the Mississippi River or into neighboring states in order to place any wagers on their favorite NFL teams.

Concerns Over D.C. Lottery and Sports Gambling Contract

Intralot, a Greek company that offers a variety of gambling and sports betting services, received a $215 million contract to provide sports betting to the city of Washington D.C. last month. As reported by the Washington Post, the company will be responsible for half of the work needed to introduce sports gambling to the city, while maintaining the existing lottery system. The only problem: Intralot has given this responsibility to a firm that doesn’t have any employees.

Adhering to the Law?

The law within the nation’s capital requires companies with large public contracts to subcontract work to small local businesses. In doing so, large companies would help boost the local economy and create jobs for local residents. Intralot chose a company they partnered with on a previous deal that gave them the power to run the lottery within the capital, but this choice has been the source of speculation about whether or not local businesses and residents would be benefiting at all.

Earlier this summer Intralot confirmed that the firm Veterans Services Corp. would be responsible for providing all of the resources needed to fulfill the terms of the contract. The new deal was awarded without a traditional bidding process, which raised a few red flags for an agency that has no employees and has listed executives on their website who do not actually work there. Emamanuel Bailey leads Veterans Services Corp. and is a resident of Maryland, not Washington D.C. In order to adhere to the law, the company was registered at the home of his 75-year-old mother in D.C. Bailey’s mother is also a majority shareholder of the company.

Questionable Political Ties

In addition to these concerns, other media outlets have suggested that Bailey’s political connections have played a hand in the awarding of the recent sports gambling contract. Councilmember Jack Evans originally pushed for sports betting within the nation’s capital and is now being investigated by the FBI for possible ethics violations. Other subcontractors linked to the Intralot deal have close ties with a number of other politicians. These connections motivated council members Robert C. White Jr. (D-At Large) and Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) to call for a close examination of Intralot and Veterans Services Corp.

Further Complications

In response to concerns surrounding Veterans Service Corp.’s ability to effectively handle the contract, Intralot officials said that the work could be completed by DC09, another company that was formed in a joint effort by Intralot and Veterans Services 10 years ago. The link between the companies only furthers the confusion surrounding the deal, as Veterans Services owns 51 percent of DC09, while Intralot funded the creation of DC09 and is in control of the company, as found by The Washington Post. It is also worth noting that Bailey’s compensation over the past five years has not come from Veterans Services Corps, but DC09.

DC09’s headquarters are legitimately based in Southeast Washington, but the confusion surrounding the connections between the companies and political figures seem to discredit this fact. Additionally, no formal mention of DC09 was made in the initial plan that Intralot submitted to district officials earlier this summer. Bailey’s comments to The Washington Post, referring to Veterans Services as “a case study” for the small-business program, hardly eases any of the concerns that have been raised thus far, and the deal must now stand up to the formal probe launched by council members in Washington D.C.

Illinois Sports Betting Expands to Convenience Stores

Within the year, residents of Illinois will be able to start placing sports bets at their local convenience stores. Gamblers throughout the state could have access to a new lottery sports wagering pilot program at 2,500 gas stations, convenience stores, and other retailers, with the option of adding an additional 2,500 retailers following suit in the second year.

Increased Access and Availability

The unique program follows the bill announced earlier this summer, which legalized sports betting within the state. Not only that, the landmark piece of legislation is widely regarded as being one of the most aggressive and expansive sports betting bills the US has seen since the overturning of PASPA by the US Supreme Court last year. 

Over the past few months the State has introduced sports betting at its casinos, while also announcing the establishment of six new casinos along an increase in availability of video gaming terminals throughout the state. The pilot program for a lottery sports betting system is the first of its kind within the United States.

Like other lottery programs throughout the country, gamblers aged 21 and older will be able to place their bets at electronic kiosks at retailers throughout the state. The new lottery sports program will give residents the opportunity to pick the outcome of multiple games as part of a single bet, otherwise known as a parlay. The bettor must select all of the correct outcomes in order to win. This type of parlay wager was not possible until the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision made last year to legalize sports betting throughout the country.

Timetable and Projected Costs

In wake of this monumental decision, a number of states have made the push to legalize and regulate sports betting within the past year. However, many states have chosen to implement sports betting through brick-and-mortar casino sportsbooks or online betting platforms rather than a lottery system. Delaware is the only state to have a comparable parlay-only lottery system, which brought in over $6 million last year. This system, however, requires a $2 minimum wager on parlay bets for only NFL and collegiate football. The new sports-betting system in Illinois has the opportunity to expand on this, in order to make a wide variety of parlay bets readily available.

The pilot program in Illinois is projected to cost nearly $20 million, a large portion of which stems from a steep licensing fee. Despite high initial costs officials estimate that the sports-betting industry within the state could generate $58 million to $128 million annually. The Chicago Sun Times reported that Illinois Lottery general counsel Cornell Wilson is turning to other states in order to research the most effective ways to implement and launch this new program. The plan is set to role out with little to no threat to business for large casinos and sportsbooks, who offer more variety and better odds for sports betting. Rules and regulations surrounding the parlay lottery kiosks still need to be established, and no concrete time table for the official launch of the program has been established.

In the end, Illinois is moving closer and closer to the full-scale mobile betting we see in states like Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New Jersey. This is nothing more than the state lottery’s attempt to get in on the action. Being that licensing fees for the parlay-only product are massive ($20 million), it goes without saying that one of the bigger sportsbook operators will lay first claim to it.

Indiana Moves to Legalize Sports Betting

The US Supreme Court overturned a law that banned sports betting in late 2018, and the wake has brought with it many states moving to legalize and regulate the activity. Earlier this month, Indiana became the 10th state to legalize sports betting thanks to the passing of a bill through both the house and the senate. Governor Eric Holcomb—unlike what we saw in Tennessee—was eager to sign the bill into law.

Upon signing the bill, he extrapolated upon his position by saying, “Gaming is a highly regulated industry that once had little competition, but now does from surrounding states and new technology. By modernizing our laws, this legislation will spur positive economic growth for our state and for an industry that employs over 11,000 Hoosiers. Additionally, it will bring in new revenue and create hundreds of new jobs – both permanent and in construction. I will direct the Indiana Gaming Commission to monitor for potential effects of this bill so that we can make necessary changes in future legislative sessions.”

There is not yet any clear indication of when bets will begin being taken, however some predictions point to the start of the 2019/20 NFL season as a likely date. With that said, it is believed that online betting platforms will take a bit longer to materialize. Online gaming has never been a thought in Indiana, so it may take some time for all of the rules and regulations to be figured out.

Overview of the Bill’s Path to Law

HB1015, otherwise known as the “Gaming Matters” bill, was created and introduced by Republican Mark Messmer, a state senator. Despite most senators and representatives presenting little opposition to the idea of legalized and regulated sports betting, there was some controversy during the bill’s journey to the desk of Governor Holcomb. While HB1015 was in committee within the House, language that allowed for online sports betting was taken out of the bill. This modified version of the bill was then passed through the House and onto Senate committee, where the online sports betting language was added once more. This bit of political trickery may be one of the crucial happenings that allowed for sports betting to finally be legalized.

In addition to the bill allowing for sports betting to take place both online and within the state’s brick and mortar facilities, it also paves the way for a new casino to be built in Terre Haute. This, in and of itself, might be the biggest change to the gaming landscape in Indiana. Up to this point, the casinos that do exist must—as a matter of law—be located on a body of water like a river or lake.

Despite the bill now being signed into law, Indiana’s gaming commission will not even begin accepting applications until the middle of the summer. Those who do apply will be forced to pay a $100,000 application fee and those that are approved will be forced to pay $50,000 annually in order to retain their license. On top of this, all sports betting revenue will be taxed at a 9.5% rate, which is better than what you will find in most other states where sports betting has been approved.

Conflict of Interests Arisen

Something that caught the eye of more than a few people is language in the bill that allowed for Spectacle Entertainment to move one of its Gary, Indiana licenses nearly 3 hours inland to Terre Haute. This is significant due to Terre Haute’s location on I-70, a cross-country interstate that connects East and West coasts. There is no doubting that this will massively increase revenue and profits for Spectacle Entertainment.

There are resounding criticisms regarding this particular portion of the bill due to potential conflicts of interest between Spectacle and members of Indiana’s state government. The IndyStar reports that Spectacle has spent more than $50,000 flying Governor Eric Holcomb to events. What’s more, a primary investor is rumored to have arranged a contract for the law firm of House Speaker Brian Bosma. All things considered, it seems a lot like Spectacle Entertainment greased the wheels to push through a law that would inevitably mean more profits for them in the long-run. Despite this, they may not be the only ones moving to Terre Haute. This is so because even though Spectacle is able to move one of its two licenses inland, the other license they hold will be temporarily removed. Ultimately, it will be offered to other operators and allow for another casino to be built in Terre Haute.

Iowa Lawmakers Legalize Sports Betting and Daily Fantasy Sports

Iowans can finally get ready to join a host of other states in placing real money, legal wagers on their favorite professional and college sports, amongst other events. This week, lawmakers in the Hawkeye State approved legislation that legalized both sports betting and daily fantasy sports (DFS) games that you would find at sites like DraftKings. One distinction worth making before going any further is that even though DFS games are available online, sports betting was legalized only in person, at approved destinations (ie. Casinos). The only way by which one can place sports bets online is if they first go to one of the states 19 casinos and register as being someone who is of at least 21 years of age.

This piece of legislation and its subsequent passing comes in the wake of a 2018 US Supreme Court decision that overturned a Federal Ban on sports betting outside of Las Vegas. In the wake of this ruling being overturned, many states have legalized sports betting in a hurried manner. Iowa did not rush to legalization, but the state began considering the issue almost immediately after the Supreme Court’s ruling. According to Senator Roby Smith, a Republican from Davenport, “this just brings people out of the shadows and gives them a regulated environment. It gives people the freedom to choose to do sports wagering, legally.”

What Happens Next?

Now that lawmakers have agreed and passed legalization efforts, there is still one more hurdle that has to be overcome; getting the governor’s signature. The bill is headed to the desk of Republican Governor Kim Reynolds, who has stayed almost silent on the issue. Being that the gambling industry in Iowa is growing on what seems to be an exponential basis, there are few people who think the governor will abstain from signing this bill into law.

For Iowa casinos, there is no putting a price on the signature of Governor Reynolds as this would mean an absolutely massive win for them. According to the Des Moines Register, the bill sets forth that the state’s casinos would be tasked with regulating the sports betting industry despite other, previous proposals potentially giving that authority to another entity.

If all goes well and the bill does earn the signature of the governor, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission will begin developing the rules casinos that offer sports betting would have to follow. If everything goes to plan, it is widely believed that bets may come streaming in as soon as July or August. It is believed that the commission will utilize its emergency rule-making procedure so that rules can be implemented and betting can begin as quickly as possible. Though this may sound rushed, the procedure outlines that the Administrative Rules Review Committee can, at a later date, alter anything that they should deem needing alteration. Ultimately, the goal is to allow for legalized bets to be able to be placed before college and professional football seasons begin.

Not Everyone is Happy About This Ruling

Though the passing of this bill represents a massive bipartisan effort, not everyone is happy that the bill has been passed. Religious organizations and various lobby groups have condemned the passing of the bill in the same way as has been done in so many other states where sports betting has been legalized. All opponents of the bill have made the same disproven claim that legalizing sports betting will increase gambling addiction. This claim clearly did not gain much traction, however.

All things considered this seems to be a great move for Iowa and one that makes sense, too, considering the nearly 20 gambling destinations in the state. 

Vegas Sportsbooks Cash in on Football Wagers

Written by: Kayla Sherrell

Since the Supreme Court overturned a key federal anti-gambling policy this past summer, sports betting revenue has begun to flood into gaming establishments across the country. And to nobody’s surprise, the establishments populating America’s hub of sports and casino gambling, Las Vegas, are seeing tons of cash from sports betting – particularly as the football season kicks into high dear.

This Football Season Vegas Sportsbooks Win

It’s no secret that Americans love football, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that Las Vegas Casino sportsbooks took home their own hefty winnings this past November. Nevada sportsbooks came out $18.4 million dollars ahead on football bets, and $8.7 million on all other sports. Sportsbooks make their money by collecting a commission on losing bets, and as sports wagering enthusiasts continue to line up and place bets on their favorite sports, Vegas sportsbooks are expected to continue this upward trend. If revenues continue to grow at the current pace, the region is on track to set all-time records this year for the amount of capital wagered and amount won.

Legalized Sports Wagering Brings in Revenue for Vegas Casinos

Nevada casino shareholders were initially fearful that Vegas casinos would begin to lose business and revenue as other states move to legalize sports betting and launch their own legal sportsbooks. The numbers have shown this anxiety was uncalled for, as Vegas sportsbooks are seeing a surprising spike in revenue as opposed to a drop. In fact, it appears that if anyone has suffered as a result of the legalization, it’s the illegal bookies making bets in the shadows.

Before the federal ban on sports wagering was struck down, the American Gaming Association estimated that Americans alone were feeding around $150 billion annually into the gambling black-market. Keep in mind that local and offshore bookies have been the only options for U.S sports bettors for quite some time, nearly a quarter of a century. The prosperity of these illegal entities rely heavily on the illegal market being the only outlet to gamblers, the legal market strips away that advantage.

Up until this past May, illegal bookies have conducted business with minimal competition. However, illegal gambling establishments are now facing much more competition from local legalized gambling markets. The legal gambling market provides opportunities for sports wagering enthusiasts to continue their recreation without fear of persecution, and it’s creating opportunities for legitimate gaming across the United States.

Although these black-market gambling entities will likely not fade away quickly or quietly, it has become clear that legal gambling outlets are the future for fighting off the illegal gambling trade within the US. The pace of legalization regarding sports wagering has progressed rapidly, and if it continues it will be sure to have meaningful impacts on how Americans place their bets. For now, experts are waiting to see how the growing legalized gambling market will affect gaming on both the black market and at legitimate establishments.

MGM Enters Sports Betting Partnership with the NHL

Written By: Kayla Sherrell

The National Hockey League, the second major professional sports league established in the United States, attracts millions of fans to the sport of ice hockey every year. The 24 U.S.-based NHL teams play dozens of games every year, creating valuable markets for entertainment, advertisement, and merchandising. And now, it appears that the NHL is looking to add gaming as another – and highly lucrative – revenue stream.

National Hockey League Partners with MGM Resorts

In a historic move, the NHL announced a multiyear agreement MGM Resorts International earlier this week. Many experts are seeing this move as a response to this year’s Supreme Court ruling opening up sports wagering to state regulation and control. Following the ruling, 18 states have legalized sports betting, opening up new opportunities for partnerships between professional sports organizations and private gambling establishments. Big hitters in the casino business and prominent sports associations alike are moving quickly to take advantage of growing prospects in the world of sports betting.

A Deal for Data

Professional sporting associations have the potential to bring a great deal of value to the gaming industry because they have insider access to information that is highly relevant to setting odds. As part of the recent deal, the NHL has agreed to provide MGM with previously unavailable NHL-branded game data. This data may eventually include puck and player tracking information.

The data that the NHL is passing on to MGM will be produced by the league’s tracking system, which is currently still under development, although early features like player tracking is expected to be executed next season. Future data tracking features are predicted to measure everything from a player’s shot velocity to real-time wagering. Notably, however this valuable data will not include player injuries. Rather, the NHL will leave injury reporting to the team’s discretion. NHL’s commissioner, Gary Bettman justified the NHL’s decision by explaining that the sports association does not want its players to be targeted when playing with a known injury.

The NHL-MGM deal includes promotions during marque events held by the league, including the Stanley Cup, All-Star Game, and the Winter Classic. But MGM largely expects to facilitate an expansion of its sports betting operations by relying on the data they receive from NHL and other sports associations they’re working with. As they collect this data, the casino will be able to provide customized gaming features and innovative betting opportunities for customers in the growing U.S. sports betting market.

Key Terms Preserve NHL’s Independence

Specific terms have not yet been disclosed, but the deal the NHL struck with MGM is a fixed revenue arrangement. This means that the NHL will not be receiving any kind of cut from the gaming profit brought in by the casino, which preserves important ethical principles in sports wagering.

Notably, the NHL’s agreement with MGM is non-exclusive. Other casinos will also have the opportunity to purchase NHL’s data for their own sports betting operations, which provides the NHL with a great deal of flexibility for the future.

Sports betting is changing in response to the new law, and with change comes re-imagination and innovation. The recent NHL-MGM deal demonstrates the type of creative responses that sports organizations and casinos are coming up with following the recent Supreme Court decision, and it remains to be seen what enterprising business people in the gaming industry will come up with next.