Archive for the 'Casino' Category
The European Union Court set an expected precedent for online gambling. The German state of Schleswig-Holstein has much more liberal online gaming laws than other jurisdictions in the country. Digibet, an online gambling provider based in Gibraltar, argued that the other states would need to loosen their gaming laws.
The German Federal Court disagreed with Digibet’s position, but felt some clarification was necessary. They referred the case to the European Union for a verdict. EU justices upheld the German court’s ruling, stating that fifteen German states wouldn’t be required to change their rules because of a single dissident. This means that other online German states will be allowed to maintain restrictive online gambling laws.
Digibet will be allowed to continue offering games of chance in Schleswig-Holstein, but it will need to stop providing them in the other jurisdictions it operates. The gaming provider will be allowed to continue offering online poker and other games of skill, but is unlikely to do so. Digibet left other German markets last year because of the high taxes they impose on online gambling providers.
The ruling was a setback for Digibet, but a ruling in its favor may not have helped much either. Schleswig-Holstein has recently announced that it will conform to the online gambling laws imposed in the fifteen other states. This would effectively make the EU court’s decision that all states need to implement the same laws irrelevant.
Many online gambling operators support Schleswig-Holstein’s laws and feel the rest of the country should emulate them. PokerStars recently received a gaming license in the state. It said that it supports the regulatory system, because it would arguably create more safeguards for players. However, many other German states maintain that their stricter online gambling laws have been effective.
MGM Resorts is one of the largest casino companies in the country. The company strongly favors the legalization of online gambling, but has been reluctant to participate in any of the new markets in the United States. The company isn’t expected to offer real money gambling until it witnesses meaningful changes in the United States.
MGM Resorts currently has a site that offers free to play online gambling. The company has stated that it doesn’t want to invest in a real money site until it is sure that it will provide reasonable return on its investment.
MGM’s hesitance is understandable. The online gambling markets in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have grown much more slowly than anticipated. New Jersey analysts believe that online gambling revenues will be less than 10% the amount Governor Chris Christie initially predicted. Gaming providers are facing a number of challenges that are holding the market back.
However, the state of the gaming market itself isn’t the company’s online concern. They said that the regulator environment is very confusing and they don’t know how it will change in the future. Changes in the federal landscape of online gambling could drastically affect it in the months to come.
MGM has recently appointed Thomas N. Auriemma to its Compliance Committee. Auriemma worked as a state gaming regulator for nearly three decades. He was the Deputy Director of the DGE for over 10 years. He also worked for the Casino Control Commission and served as an Assistant Attorney General.
He will help review developments in the state and national regulations and provide insight to senior management. John McManus, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for MGM, said that the company has considerable respect for Auriemma’s opinion.
Sheldon Adelson has encouraged many Republican lawmakers to support his effort to ban online gambling. One of his lobbyists wrote a bill that was introduced by Rep. Lindsey Graham. The new bill has gained the support of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Most Baptists feel that gambling is an immoral activity that should be prohibited. They have lobbied for state and federal to ban it.
A reporter recently interviewed Graham about the new legislation. Graham told the reporter that Adelson appears to have aligned himself with southern Baptists to help build support for his movement. Graham is a practicing Baptist, which is likely the reason that Adelon asked him to introduce the Restoration of America’s Wire Act bill.
Support for the new bill is particularly high in South Carolina. Over two-thirds of the primary voters that are registered as Republicans are Born Again Christians or Baptists.
Bruce Yandle, a professor of economics at Clemson University, said that the Baptist community has sometimes unwittingly allowed business leaders to encourage them to lobby for prohibition for services that they wouldn’t otherwise support. Yandle told a parable of illegal rum runners in the early 1900s that lobbied Baptist lawmakers to promote prohibition. Gambling advocates that are familiar with this tale see many parallels with Adelson’s recent efforts to ban online gaming.
Adelson has maintained that he is against online gambling for moral reasons. Most of his critics said that his statements are disingenuous. They feel that his script was written to cater to people with religious opposition to online gambling. Adelson has also used other scare tactics to discourage online gambling, such as running advertisements claiming that terrorists could use it to launder money.
The United States Congress is reviewing two bills that would reinstate a provision in the Wire Act that bans online gambling. Many online gambling advocates are discouraged by the proposed bills. Many local governments and lotteries are opposed to the bills as well, because the legislation would force them to stop providing some of their services online. However, companies that allow wagers on horse races were relieved to hear that the bills would not impact them.
U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham introduced the Restoration of America’s Wire Act last month. The bill has received bipartisan support, which has created concerns for the online gaming community.
However, Chaffetz and Graham have made some concessions to protect existing gambling services. They have carved out exemptions to protect horse racing and fantasy betting. The law also clarified that insurance, investments and other services sanctioned by the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 and Commodity Exchange Act will not be impacted by the proposed law. The bill clearly states that it will not impact existing federal laws or regulations.
While some businesses are glad that these exemptions were introduced, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act could cripple other businesses that depend on online gambling. New Jersey casinos have invested millions of dollars in online gambling. They hope that the new industry will offset losses they have incurred and avoid bankruptcy.
Dean Heller and Harry Reid, Nevada’s two representatives in the U.S. Senate, have both been lobbying in favor of online poker for several years. They are both worried about the implications of the bill, but haven’t outright proposed it. Both senators said that the law should be reviewed first. Graham stated that lawmakers favoring online poker should propose an exemption rather than voting against the bill in its entirety. Reid and Heller may consider her suggestion.
There are a number of reasons that New Jersey v lawmakers wanted to legalize online gambling. They wanted to create new safeguards for players, raise taxes and try to save the Atlantic City casino industry. These are all compelling motives, but another benefit that receives less attention is job creation. Online Poker Report recently wrote an article that discussed this topic in depth.
Most lawmakers prefer expanding brick and mortar casinos to create new jobs. While the online gaming industry doesn’t create as many jobs, it still helps put people to work.
Governor Chris Christie and other lawmakers wanted to use online gambling to bring high tech jobs to the Garden State. They included a provision in the online gambling law that requires many jobs to based in-state.
The Division of Gaming Enforcement estimates that the online gambling industry would create 200 new customer service jobs for New Jersey citizens. The actual figure could be higher if sites choose to hire developers, strategists and other professionals within the state. Many New Jersey citizens are already reportedly employed due to online gambling. This is encouraging for the state, because the unemployment rate is still over 8%.
The DGE reported that the customer service jobs will be in place by May 1. This deadline was based on an agreement that it struck with the casinos that are offering intrastate gambling.
The actual number of jobs created will depend on the success of the new industry and the strategies of the different gaming sites. Gaming providers will need to hire developers, programmers, marketing consultants, writers and a variety of other professionals. The operators do not necessarily need to hire New Jersey residents, but they may choose to do so for strategic reasons.
The Polish government amended the Gambling Act six months ago to allow more flexibility to third party companies that work with online gambling providers. One of the new amendments allows financial processors to process payments for online gambling companies. Those new regulations have recently gone into effect.
Before the new amendment was passed In October, only regulated Polish banks and financial providers were allowed to work with online gambling companies. However, many other countries voiced reservations with these restrictions. Lawmakers decided to open the market up to online payment processing providers and financial institutions from other European companies.
Skrill and Neteller will be allowed to enter the market and begin working with the country’s regulated online gambling providers. Their services will initially be limited to online sports betting and horse race betting. They are prohibited from working with online poker providers, but that restriction may be amended in the future.
The Polish Gambling Act was passed in 2011. The law was criticized for being overly restrictive, but it was an important first step towards a regulated online gambling market. The National Assembly has expressed an interest in further liberalizing online gambling and may make further amendments to the law in the future.
The new amendment is an important step towards are more open online gambling market. However, many other EU nations argue that Poland is still violating free trade treaties with the rest of the European Union. Many other countries have urged the European Commission to force them to start offering online poker and allowing providers from other member nations to offer their services to Polish citizens. However, they are doubtful that EU lawmakers will actually intervene.
The UK House of Lords has passed a new bill that will reform the gambling industry. The bill will create a number of changes that will affect both land-based and online gaming providers. The most significant reform is a requirement that all online gaming operators hold a UK gaming license to offer their services within the country.
The House of Lords supported most of the measures in the bill. There were only a couple of amendments that the Lords took issue with. The first provision that they debated was a horse racing levy.
They also voted against an amendment that would create new limitations on gambling advertisements. The UK Gambling Commission said that it would study the impact of the new advertising rules in the future and make a recommendation to Parliament. The House of Lords may be more likely to support the amendment after the review is completed.
The new gaming bill also has a 15% point of consumption tax on all gaming income derived from UK citizens. The tax will not apply to gaming revenue from customers in other countries. The new tax was written to deter gaming providers from avoiding taxes by relocating to other countries.
Some countries are upset by the new point of consumption tax. The Gibraltar government is afraid that many gaming providers in its country will return to the United Kingdom since they can no longer circumvent the UK gaming tax. However, William Hill has said that it will remain in Gibraltar for the foreseeable future.
The House of Commons will need to hold its final vote on the bill before it can be enacted. MPs have already read and passed previous versions of the bill, so they are expected to pass the final version in the next couple of weeks. Chancellor George Osborne is expected to sign the bill, which means the new law will likely go into effect this summer.
Russ DeLeon, one of the largest shareholders of PartyGaming is facing legal challenges with Chevron Corp. DeLeon helped fund an environmental lawsuit against the multinational energy company in Ecuador. Chevron has since retaliated by filing a lawsuit of its own. The lawsuit claims that DeLeon knew that the plaintiffs were using criminal tactics to win the lawsuit.
Documents from the prior lawsuit show that DeLeon gave the plaintiffs nearly $2 million. In return, he expected to receive about a quarter of the proceeds of any future settlement.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that the lawsuit was a clear violation of the RICO Act. Morgan Crinklaw, a spokesperson from Chevron, has seized on the statement. She said that DeLeon and the plaintiffs should be held accountable for trying to extort Chevron.
The lawsuit will be heard in Gibraltar since that has been DeLeon’s primary place of residence for the past six years. Judge Christopher Butler ruled against a motion to dismiss the case and stated that Chevron could move forward with the ruling. Butler doesn’t seem to be aware of Kaplan’s ruling that DeLeon and the plaintiffs in the original case violated United States RICO laws. He did cite previous findings from the U.S. judge, but isn’t required to use them as the basis for his own ruling.
DeLeon is already struggling to recover from the aftermath of his recent divorce. He and his wife were both priority shareholders in PartyGaming. Their divorce has created challenges for both of them and other PartyGaming investors. The new lawsuit won’t bode well for DeLeon either, but is unlikely to have as much of an impact on the company as his divorce.
Many gaming regulators in Europe have begun fining prosecuting unregulated online gaming providers. However, the Belgian Gaming Commission is taking an even stricter view on online gaming. Gaming authorities have indicated that they may prosecute players that use unregulated gaming sites as well. They said that players have had four years to familiarize themselves with the policies and have no excuse for failing to comply.
The BGC prosecuted a number of players in a bar several months ago. The players were engaged in offline gambling, but the BGC stated that it may start prosecuting players using unregulated gaming sites as well. The Public Prosecutor’s office would have final say on whether or not to pursue charges. However, the gaming regulator has the authority to initiate the process. They could also impose fines on players even if prosecutors decide not to take the case.
DLA Piper, a Belgium law firm that specializing in gaming law, is following the case closely. The firm is curious what measures the BGC will take in the near future. They wrote that threats to prosecute players is unprecedented and aren’t sure whether the regulator will follow through with the threat.
Marjolein De Paepe, a spokesperson for the BGC, said that the regulator made the new policies very clear. She said that players have been given ample opportunity to adapt to the new regulations. De Paepe said that the regulator will not hesitate to prosecute players.
There are currently six regulated online gaming providers in Belgium. Attorneys encourage players to limit their activity to these sites to avoid prosecution.
The country’s leading casinos are ecstatic that the new online gambling market will be launched in a few months. Some experts hope that the government will extend the regulations to allow gaming providers to share players with their counterparts in other EU member nations. However, a leading authority on the Spanish gambling industry feels that shared player pools will not be a top priority in the near future.
Albert Agustinoy Guilayn, a gambling expert from one of Spain’s top law firms, said that few casinos are advocating for shared liquidity. Guilayn said that they are focused on developing new products for their players in Spain.
Guilayn said that a few Spanish casinos have an oligopoly on the country’s gaming industry. They seem to be afraid of new competitors and are unlikely to support shared player pools.
Carlos Hernandez Rivera, the head of the Spanish gaming regulator, is in favor of shared liquidity. However, Guilayn feels that Rivera will be unable to gain enough support from lawmakers or industry leaders. The gaming regulators from Spain and Italy have been discussing possible compacts with their counterparts in other parts of Europe, but those negotiations have been unsuccessful so far. France has refused to participate in a shared online poker market and other countries seem hesitant to join.
The Spanish gaming industry is already undergoing significant changes. The government recently regulated slot machines and has finally liberalized online gambling. Guilayn said that lawmakers and industry leaders will need time to acclimate to these changes before proceeding with other proposals. They may consider shared liquidity pools if the new market is shown to be profitable. However, lawmakers may want to wait at least a couple fo years before making such a proposal.