Changes Could Be On The Way For New York Sports Betting Bill – Legal Sports Report


editing NY sports betting bill

The clock is starting to run down if we are going to see a New York sports betting bill make it to the finish line.

So it’s not shocking that we’re seeing some chatter in mid-May, with the legislature set to adjourn in a little over a month.

The latest on New York sports betting

Lawmakers in the Senate are apparently already working to change a bill introduced earlier this year that made it through one committee stop.

This came down on Friday afternoon from GamblingCompliance.

A spokesperson for Sen. John Bonacic — the sponsor of the legislation — told Legal Sports Report “there are currently discussions on potential amendments to the bill,” but that no final set of amendments exists as of yet.

 S 7900 is currently in the Senate Finance Committee.

The bill appears to widely legalize sports wagering at gaming facilities in the state, including via horse racing tracks, off-track betting parlors and tribal casinos. The state already legalized sports gambling at four commercial casinos, although it’s not clear if that would be implemented immediately if the US Supreme Court sports betting case strikes down the federal ban.

Where is the Assembly sports betting bill?

Getting too bogged down in the details of the floated Senate version of the bill might be a fool’s errand, unless it is going to mesh with what comes out of the Assembly. Still, killing the in-person requirement for registration would be a positive development, as that will help NY’s prospective online sports betting industry get off the ground more quickly.

We’re still waiting to see a promised bill from Assemblymember Gary Pretlow, but it has not yet surfaced. Pretlow chairs his chamber’s gaming committee, like Bonacic does on the Senate side.

When it comes to gaming issues, it seems like a bill needs his stamp of approval to move. That’s been the case for online poker, which has twice passed the NY Senate but has not gained much traction in the Assembly.

There’s also been talk of sports betting and NY online poker being handled in tandem in the state.

What’s next?

There’s still plenty of time for New York to pass legislation, as the session is slated to end June 20.

As we saw with a daily fantasy sports law in 2016, bills can be and often are passed at the last minute.

So, for now, we’ll have to trust that a lot of political sausage is being made behind closed doors.



Another Hole In PASPA: One Type Of Sports Betting Is Legal In Washington State – Legal Sports Report


Hole in PASPA sports betting

You can add another state not named Nevada, Delaware, Oregon or Montana to the growing list of jurisdictions at least partially exempt from the loophole-filled federal sports betting ban in the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

Enter Washington State.

According to a regulator earlier this month, a narrow category of “regulated sports pools” are permitted by law in the state.

Backdrop of PASPA revelations

The Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC) — the Evergreen State’s law enforcer with jurisdiction over sports betting — recently announced four arrests in connection with an illegal soccer gambling network.

“Sports betting may be a hot topic right now, but regulated sports pools are currently the only legal form of sports betting in Washington State,” said WSGC director Dave Trujillo in a press release dated May 3. “This ring was a criminal organization and we will continue to protect the public by dismantling similar operations.”

In a follow-up interview, another WSGC official elaborated on the type of ‘regulated sports pools’ that are permitted by law in the state.

“100-square boards were authorized by the state legislature in 1973 with the Gambling Act,” wrote WSGC public information officer Heather Songer in an email to Legal Sports Report. “Therefore, they were essentially grandfathered-in when PASPA was passed in 1992.

“These boards are often seen in bars during football season.”

What are the Sports Boards in Washington state?

In the online space, Washington State has some of the strictest anti-gambling laws in the nation, with certain activity constituting a felony. Daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel don’t operate there, for instance.

Washington State also has narrowly-tailored laws that permit sports betting.

The 100-square boards harken back to sports betting’s pre-digital era, with certain aspects decidedly quaint.

“A board or piece of paper is divided into one hundred equal squares, each of which constitutes a chance to win in the sports pool and each of which is offered directly to prospective contestants at one dollar or less” is one of the law’s old-fashioned requirements.

The statute also requires the buyer of a single square on the board to have a pen or pencil handy.

“The purchaser of each chance or square signs his or her name on the face of each square or chance he or she purchases” mandates the law.

So much for in-game betting with e-currency via a smartphone app in Seattle.

PASPA is a sieve

The US Supreme Court continues to deliberate the fate of PASPA in the long-running New Jersey sports betting case.

Whether PASPA’s sieve-like gaps in Washington State — as well as New Mexico, Wyoming, Arizona and both Dakotas — will matter to the Supreme Court is unknown. In deciding the pending case, however, the Supreme Court will undoubtedly probe PASPA’s text when interpreting the law vis-à-vis the US Constitution.

PASPA’s exemptions (see §3704) do not mention any state by name. Not even Nevada.

Such wordsmithing is but one example of why deciphering PASPA has proven to be so thorny for the past six years. PASPA’s hard-to-understand text could also be contributing to the longer-than-normal time in which the Supreme Court has been deliberating over the case since oral arguments were held on Dec. 4.

A decision in the Supreme Court sports betting case could come as early as May 14 or as late as the end of June.



Chaos Erupts In West Virginia Over Sports Betting After Governor Issues Statement On Integrity Fee – Legal Sports Report


WV sports betting integrity fee

A meeting held yesterday about the West Virginia sports betting law and an ensuing statement from the state’s governor today have created chaos among government officials and WV casinos.

What happened to WV sports betting on Thursday

Gov. Jim Justice announced an agreement this morning after a Wednesday meeting of government officials, casino executives and sports league representatives. Justice said in a press release that West Virginia would not pay an integrity fee to the leagues, but that an integrity fee going from the state’s gaming interests to leagues would take place.

“I insisted from day one that no part of an integrity fee for sports betting would be paid by the state,” Justice said. “I demanded that the entire fee be paid by the casinos.”

How that’s going to happen — and indeed if it will — remains in question. There are several possible mechanisms, including:

  • A special session to change the existing law, which would take place later this month.
  • The state lottery (which is charged with overseeing sports gambling) acting somehow unilaterally.
  • Commercial agreements between leagues and the state’s casinos.

The last of those scenarios would not really amount to an “integrity fee,” however. More on that in a bit.

ESPN reports that West Virginia and Marshall universities, who sent representatives to yesterday’s meeting, could be the first schools to get a slice of sports betting revenue.

It’s not at all clear how that would be handled, either. Asked about the ESPN report, a representative for Justice said specifics remain in flux.

“As for the sports betting tentative agreement, the process is still in the very early stages and many details still need to be worked out. There is no other comment and no other information available at this time,” said Butch Antolini, the governor’s director of communications.

More on the whole story from WV Metro News.

Governor’s announcement catches his own people off-guard

Clearly John Cavacini, head of the state’s gaming and racing association, heard a different tune in the Wednesday meeting.

Cavacini did not stop there. He provided the clearest picture yet into the negotiations: the leagues and casinos discussed contracts outside the sports betting law.

You cannot pay a fee that does not exist though

Of course, the state law passed in March that authorizes sports betting if PASPA is repealed did not feature an integrity fee. Justice allowed the law to go into effect without his signature because of a family connection to a casino at The Greenbrier. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred asked Justice to veto the legislation.

Justice did leave open the possibility of reconfiguring the law following the Supreme Court’s decision in the New Jersey case.

“After the U.S. Supreme Court issues its decision on sports wagering, to address any provisions of the legislation that might be in conflict, I will ask the Legislature to look at the advantages of partnering with the major sports leagues,” Justice said. “I believe there could be real value to this partnership. I expect the Supreme Court to rule on this issue in the next few months.

“This approach will allow us to develop a relationship with all the major sports leagues so that it is beneficial to everyone.”

Some kind of an integrity fee remains on the table

Justice’s press release strongly hints that an integrity fee could still revive via an upcoming special session. This line provides the clearest signal:

Lottery director Alan Larrick and his staff will be working on ways to implement the integrity fee and will determine what, if any, legislation is needed for codification.​

The state’s lottery will administer sports betting. The new law lets the state’s five gaming facilities offer sports betting. Each will pay $100,000 for the right to do so. At least $5 million can be expected in first-year tax revenue.

Gamers say there is no fee to discuss

Penn National had a seat at the table yesterday and Eric Schippers, its senior vice president of public affairs, said no deal is set.

That brings us back into the data debate over the West Virginia bill before it passed. The leagues want their data to be the only source for settling bets. The comments from Schippers suggest they might make more headway with the casinos than they did with legislators.

The WV legislature still would need to approve the fee

West Virginia legislators did not buy the leagues’ argument for an integrity fee in passing the law in March. The only change since then is yesterday’s inclusion of athletic directors from West Virginia and Marshall to present collegiate concerns.

An informed member of the West Virginia House of Delegates made it clear his side did not sign off on any negotiation:

Hanshaw gave a measured version of surprise. Fellow Delegate Shawn Fluharty went on a long thread about the potential for a state Open Meetings Law violation at yesterday’s summit. He also called out the so-called deal for short-changing taxpayers:

Why the legislators would change the law absent any compelling new reason or evidence remains an open question. Justice presented yesterday’s agreement as the path for moving forward, but much discussion remains before the law is changed.

“This was a difficult negotiation between many different parties, but the outcome will be very good for the State of West Virginia as well as the sports leagues,” Justice said. “Additional dollars received by the state from sports betting will be utilized for the benefit of many of our residents.

“However, all of this is a moot issue until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the legality of sports gaming across the country.”

What are the colleges and the NCAA up to?

If WVU and Marshall are taking money directly from the state’s casinos, that would be quite the revelation.

The NCAA insists that it supports neither illegal or legal sports gambling. In fact, there’s a de facto ban on NCAA championship events being held anywhere with legal sports wagering. That includes Nevada, New Jersey (despite the fact that its law is not in effect) and Oregon, which could only host events once it shuttered its sports lottery product.

The idea that the NCAA would allow its member institutions to directly take money from legal wagering would be a huge departure from anything the organization has said to date. The state increasing operational funds to help with investigations and monitoring as it relates to game integrity would certainly make a lot of sense, however.



WVU, Marshall state their concerns about WV sports betting – West Virginia MetroNews


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Representatives of West Virginia’s casinos and professional sports leagues – along with officials from West Virginia and Marshall universities – gathered at state Lottery headquarters to talk about sports gaming.

The state Legislature passed a sports gaming bill this past regular session, looking toward the possibility of broader legality nationwide.

Gov. Jim Justice has talked about tinkering with the law during a special session, possibly later this month. He let the bill pass into law without his signature because of his family’s connection to the casino at The Greenbrier.

The professional sports leagues have been pushing for an integrity fee, which would be their cut of the handle if sports gaming goes into effect. The handle is what remains of revenue after winnings have been paid out.

Lawmakers have not been particularly interested in an integrity fee – and with no big league teams in West Virginia, the pro leagues have had little leverage.

But West Virginia and Marshall expressing concerns may nudge the argument.

Wednesday’s gathering, which lasted from 10 a.m. to just after 5 p.m., included WVU vice president Rob Alsop, WVU Athletic Director Shane Lyons and Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick. Also there was Tom McMillen, president of Lead1 Association, which represents college athletic directors.

As states consider an expansion of sports betting with the possibility of an anticipated ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, colleges are starting to assert their positions.

Colleges have started expressing concerns that an embrace of sports betting in more states could increase the likelihood of athletic department violations.

Some individual colleges have also worried about the NCAA forbidding championship even in states with legalized sports betting.

Universities like West Virginia and Marshall could embrace an integrity fee to fund greater safeguards.

“We’ve been looking at it from a compliance perspective – what we need to do to make sure we’re educating and monitoring and working with our student athletes to put them in the best position going forward,” said Rob Alsop, a vice president at West Virginia University who attended Wednesday’s meeting.

“Today was really just a discussion about our concerns and making sure we do the best we can for the university.”

The stakeholders meeting at West Virginia Lottery was a who’s who of power players.

Bray Cary, a citizen volunteer for Gov. Jim Justice, is first to arrive for a stakeholders meeting about sports gaming.

Bray Cary, a citizen volunteer who works for Governor Justice, gathered the groups. In the afternoon, several in attendance said, Cary sent the casino representatives and the professional sports leagues officials to separate rooms and conducted a kind of shuttle diplomacy.

Governor Justice himself called in to the meeting in the morning, urging cooperation among attendees.

The stakeholders meeting also included representatives from Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and the Professional Golf Association.

Larry Puccio, a registered lobbyist for Major League Baseball and the NBA, also attended. Puccio was also leader of Justice’s transition team and lobbies for The Greenbrier, which has a casino and is owned by Justice’s family.

“I think it really was a productive day, and everybody worked very hard and worked together,” Puccio said as he walked to the parking lot at the end of the talks. “Everybody worked very hard and worked together, and I just think it was a great day.”

Stakeholders gather to discuss sports gaming at West Virginia Lottery.

Representatives came from Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino Racetrack, Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort, Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and The Casino Club at The Greenbrier.

John Cavacini, president of the West Virginia Racing and Gaming Association, was there too.

There were a few staffers from the Legislature, which may be expected to revisit sports gambling later this month. Delegate Roger Hanshaw, vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was the only elected official there.

Hamrick, Marshall’s athletic director, said the day presented an opportunity for the universities to express their concerns.

“The reason why I’m here – and why Shane Lyons is here – is because if sports betting becomes reality in the state of West Virginia then Marshall athletic events and WVU athletic events, people will be able to put wagers on them.

“Our sole purpose here, whether we’re for or against it, is if it happens we just want to make sure that everybody understands that would create potential problems, issues for us that are very manageable.”

Sports betting on college athletics events already exists, of course, but not In an official way, right in the state, the way West Virginia’s law envisions.

“Legally in West Virginia, guess what – it’s right in our face, so we’ve got to deal with it,” Hamrick said. “We’ve got to educate our kids, we’ve got to be in compliance, we’ve got to police everything. So that’s going to cost us additional dollars within our athletic programs.”

Hamrick noted that he spent six years as the athletic director for the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, smack dab in the betting capital of the country.

“I dealt with it every day,” Hamrick said. “You could bet on UNLV athletic events legally and so the last thing I wanted was our players involved in that. It was fine, but you’ve got to stay on top of it every day.”



Monmouth Park poised to use sports betting `Nuclear Option' – Asbury Park Press


CLOSE

Monmouth Park’s season-opening press conference dominated by sports betting case
Brian Johnston and Stephen Edelson, Asbury Park Press

OCEANPORT – Monmouth Park’s Turf Club hosted what amounted to a celebration of sports betting in New Jersey on Tuesday under the guise of a season-opening news conference, complete with the race track’s signature crab cakes and all the trimmings.

It’s coming, everyone said, the confidence staggering, even though the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in early December but has yet to issue a ruling on the state’s bid — with Monmouth Park pushing the fight to legalize sports wagering at race tracks and casinos.

William Hill, the betting giant partnering with Monmouth Park on this sure thing, already has sunk another $1 million into what will become the sports book when, not if, a favorable ruling comes down, which could be as early as Monday.

But what it they lose?

What if SCOTUS delivers a knockout punch to the state’s thoroughbred industry after a seven-year legal fight for a desperately needed alternative revenue stream, with purse money having fallen from $23.3 million in 2012, when the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association took the place over after former Gov. Chris Christie privatized it, to just $16.3 million last year?

It was never addressed during Dennis Drazin’s lengthy stint at the podium, when the chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, which operates the track for the NJTHA, spoke of victory being assured, telling the crowd what it needed to hear.

Afterwards, however, Drazin broached the subject. As the chow line grew behind him, Drazin threatening to use the so-called “nuclear option,” in which he would push a bill to completely repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which prohibits sports betting on individual games outside Nevada and three other states.

It’s the sports betting Hail Mary pass, with few rules and regulations in its aftermath.

 “Don’t forget that the week before the Supreme Court took the case, we were ready to do a total repeal in the Legislature,’’ Drazin said. “The leagues and the Justice Department have said all along you can do the a total repeal and we can’t stop you. So that would be my next move, if we lost the case.’’

Some have called it the wild west of gaming, with pretty much anyone able to set up shop and start taking bets. Drazin, however, paints a much more civilized picture.

“The legislators would have to be comfortable with, ‘would my constituents be OK if it’s on Main Street in my hometown?’ ’’ he said. “But if we get the message out, there’s a bunch of federal laws that still apply. So if a bookie wants to open up on Main Street in your hometown, under federal law they have to register with the IRS. They have to have all their employees register with the IRS. They have to pay a 2 percent gross gaming tax, and they only going to get 5 percent. And I don’t think a lot of people will want to do that.

“It’s not as bad as people who want to paint that picture might imagine. And if I had no other option, if you pass that and they can’t stop you, Congress will step in and pass something.’’

Can he really do all that?

“I know I could have gotten it done when (Sen. Ray) Lesniak was there, and while he’s not there anymore, he carries a lot of influence, and we have a lot of support,’’ Drazin said. “I have never talked to the governor (Phil Murphy) about whether he would sign such a bill, but Christie would have signed it. But I have not had that discussion with Murphy, and I don’t think I have to.’’

Of course, all of this is moot because the Supreme Court is absolutely going to side with New Jersey and bring sports betting to the state, either ruling PASPA unconstitutional or upholding New Jersey partial repeal of PASPA. At least that was the tone in the Turf Club on Tuesday.

Then again, as Drazin sees it, there literally is no way there won’t be sports betting at Monmouth Park sometime this summer.

Bet on it.

Stephen Edelson is an Asbury Park Press columnist: sedelson@gannettnj.com; @SteveEdelsonAPP



Record Kentucky Derby Numbers Show Why US Sports Betting Needs To Be Online – Legal Sports Report


Kentucky Derby betting

The 144th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday set new records for total wagers, with just $150 million wagered on the biggest thoroughbred race of the calendar.

Those numbers have a real-world lesson that should be applied to sports betting.

Inside the Kentucky Derby numbers

Here’s a look at handle from race day, according to Churchill Downs:

Wagering from all-sources on the Kentucky Derby Day program totaled $225.7 million, an 8% increase over the 2017 total and previous record of $209.2 million. Wagering from all-sources on the Kentucky Derby race increased 8% to $149.9 million from the previous record of $139.2 million set last year.

And that was obviously good for business.

“We are deeply grateful to all of the fans of the Kentucky Derby around the world who once
again made this an amazing and memorable experience,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill
Downs Incorporated. “We expect the Kentucky Derby Week Adjusted EBITDA to
reflect another record with $11.0-to-$13.0 million of growth over last year.”

Online horse betting for the Kentucky Derby

We also know that online wagering accounted for a sizable amount of that. According to Churchill Downs, handle for the day at its online wagering platform — TwinSpires — was $39.2 million, up 15 percent from 2017. For the featured race alone, online handle at the site and mobile app clocked in at $24.6 million, up 18 percent year over year.

That’s despite the fact that the site was not taking bets for a period of what appears to be 15 to 20 minutes leading up to post time because of technical difficulties. And those TwinSpires numbers don’t include the wagering at several other online horse betting sites.

Put simply, online wagering at just one online betting portal was about 16 percent of total handle for the Derby.

If you don’t do online sports betting, you’re doing it wrong

The lesson for states looking to legalize sports wagering should the federal ban be struck down in the Supreme Court sports betting case is simple: You’re limiting yourself if you don’t legalize online betting in parallel with wagering at land-based facilities (casinos, tracks, etc.). You’re not going to realize the full amount of revenue for gaming companies and in turn tax receipts without online betting.

The horse racing industry has obviously embraced online wagering. And there’s no telling how much more of a drop-off it would have experienced without it. TwinSpires, for its part, was advertising incessantly during Saturday’s races.

And, of course, we have the example of Nevada sports betting. There, handle has increased steadily because of the advent of mobile wagering.

If you’re a state that wants to get the most out of legal sports betting, you’d be silly not to have online wagering. Thankfully, most states considering sports betting bills are looking at legalizing it.

The bottom line: Online wagering is clearly helping increase the amount wagered on horse races. And while the horse racing industry isn’t always a model for success, here it’s a guidepost for what should happen for sports betting in the US.