State of the union: DoJ extends Wire act deadline and more

7 March 2019

This week's State of the Union focuses on the DoJ’s decision to extend its deadline for gaming companies to comply with its revised stance on the Wire Act. Also included this week are legislative developments in New York, Minnesota, Georgia and more.

DoJ extends Wire Act non-prosecution window
The Department of Justice (DoJ) has extended the window in which it will not enforce its revised interpretation of the Wire Act.

Following the publication of the revised opinion on January 15, the DoJ announced a 90-day non-enforcement period, designed to give stakeholders time to ensure their operations were compliant with the legislation.

This was due to come to an end on April 15, but will now be extended by an additional 60 days. This means operators, suppliers and lotteries have until June 14 to comply with the new opinion, which states the Wire Act applies to all forms of gambling, not just sports betting.

However, the opinion remains open to interpretation, and it is unclear to many companies how their business will be affected.

Furthermore, a number of legal challenges have been filed against the revised opinion. The Attorneys General of New Jersey and Pennsylvania have demanded licensed operators in each state be protected from any enforcement action. In New Hampshire, a suit has been filed on behalf of the state lottery, looking to overturn the DoJ’s new stance.

Supporting suits from trade body iDEA Growth and the New Hampshire Lottery’s principal supplier, NeoPollard Interactive, have also been filed in the state.

Pretlow makes mobile betting move in NY

Lawmakers in New York are to run the rule over a new bill that would legalise sports betting on mobile devices, in licensed casinos and at designated wagering lounges across the state.

Introduced by Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, bill A06113 would amend the current racing, pari-mutuel wagering and breeding laws in the state in order to permit sports betting.

Consumers aged 21 or older would be able to place wagers on professional and collegiate sports events, but wagering on high school competitions would not be permitted. The New York State Gaming Commission would be responsible for regulating the market.

Operators that secure a licence to offer sports wagering services in New York would be taxed at a rate of 8.5% of gross sports betting revenue.

Tax collected from sports wagering activities would be split between various causes, including problem gambling education and treatment efforts, as well as to help cover the cost of regulation.

Licensed casinos that offer sports betting will also have to pay a “royalty fee” of 0.2% of the amount wagered on sports events conducted by registered sports governing bodies. This payment must be made within 30 days of the end of any calendar year.

Tribal betting bill filed in North Carolina

Lawmakers in North Carolina will consider a new bill that would legalise sports betting on tribal lands in the state.

Sponsored be Senator Jim Davies, S 154 would allow tribal gambling facilities to offer sports wagering, in addition to gaming machines, live table games, raffles and video games that are currently permitted.

Should the bill come into law, consumers in North Carolina would be able to place legal bets on both professional and collegiate sports events.

However, punters would seemingly be limited to gambling on-site at the tribal facilities, as the bill does not make reference to mobile or online wagering.

S 154 has been written in accordance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and should it advance, the state would need to agree a Tribal-State Gaming Compact with tribes that intend on offering gambling services.

Minnesota considering online betting

Minnesota’s Senate Tax Committee will this week discuss a new bill that would legalise online, mobile and in-person sports wagering in the US state.

Sponsored by a cross-party group of senators, bill SF1984 would establish the Minnesota Sports Wagering Commission to regulate the market.

Consumers would be able to place bets on professional and collegiate sporting events, but wagering on virtual events would not be permitted in the state. Any person over the age of 18 would be able to place legal wagers.

The new Commission would take responsibility for awarding licences, with operators to be taxed on 6.75% on their sports wagering net revenue.

However, the bill did not state how much the sports betting licences would cost under the new regulations. Language in the bill refers to a fee, but, at present, it does not include an exact figure.

Licences would permit operators to conduct sports betting at racetracks and on tribal land, as well as via a website or mobile application. The bill also allows for operators to enter into third-party agreements to offer such services.

Georgia Assembly could take charge of sports betting

Lawmakers in Georgia are to consider a resolution that would amend the state’s laws and legalise in-person sports wagering at licensed gambling facilities.

House Resolution 380 would enable the Georgia General Assembly to establish a framework, under which gaming facilities could apply for a licence to offer sports betting services.

The resolution does not make any reference to either mobile or online sports betting, with punters set to be limited to in-person wagering.

Although the resolution does not include details as to how much licences will cost or the tax rate that licence-holders will face, it does state funds generated from regulated sports betting will be split between various causes, including educational programmes.

However, HR 380 does make clear that the amendment will only apply to sports betting. All other forms of gambling will remain prohibited in the state.

Off-track betting on the agenda in North Carolina
The North Carolina Senate is considering a new bill that would permit the state to legalise off-track pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing.

Sponsored by Senators Milton Fitch and Paul Lowe, Senate Bill 165 defines pari-mutuel wagering as betting on the outcome of races in which bets are purchased on a horse or horses, with all bets for the race pooled and held by the licensed organisation for distribution.

The bill calls for North Carolina to establish a Lottery Commission to oversee regulation of the market, as well as handle the accompanying licencing process.

Organisations and venues that want to offer pari-mutuel wagering would have to pay a fee of $1,000 (£756/€882) to secure a licence. Licence-holders would need to renew their licences on an annual basis.