Category Archives: legislation

Missouri Senate Pro Tem Files Illegal Missouri Gambling Machine Bill with Severe Punishments for Violators

Casino Watch Focus has long reported on the every baffling situation involving illegal gambling machines all over Missouri.  The State’s gambling law is very clear that slot machines are only allowed inside legally licensed and regulated casinos, yet these gambling machines have popped up all over the state.  Casino Watch Focus presented a Guest Article clearly outlining the lack of proper enforcement on the issue, even after a clear court ruling confirmed such machines are illegal.  Given the enforcement has been so slow, Missouri Senate Pro Tem David Schatz has introduced legislation that would clearly outline enforcement and more significantly, severe punishment, for those who continue to run these illegal slot machines.  The Missouri Times Reports:

“I filed SB 10 because of the proliferation of illegal gambling machines throughout the state,” Schatz said before the Government Accountability & Fiscal Oversight Committee Thursday morning. “There are dozens — if not hundreds — of establishments across the state of Missouri that house these unauthorized gaming machines. There is no grey area with this; the gaming laws are black and white, and this is impacting revenues that should be going to our schools. There’s no need for us to not move this legislation forward.”

Under Missouri law, gambling machines are only allowed in casinos. Schatz’s bill would allow the Gaming Commission to partner with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Supervisor of Liquor Control to investigate illegal gambling machines in rest stops, fraternal organizations, and other locations across the state. The bill would also add permanent revocation of a lottery gaming license to the list of sanctions for offenses and assert that devices using random number generators and awarding monetary prizes fall under the definition of illegal machines.

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Florida Sports Gambling Legislation Leveraged to Push Seminole Gambling Compact

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing attempts to solidify a new Seminole Compact to govern over tribal gambling and exclusivity rights on various forms of gambling in Florida altogether.  The compact’s exclusivity clause expired a few years ago and a series of events have prevented a new deal.  There have been various stalls and subsequent attempts to bring everyone back to the negotiation table though, including a push last summer over sports gambling exclusivity in a new Compact.  Given the coronavirus pandemic, more people were at home, spending more time online, so mobile sports gambling became a carrot to negotiations.  Those efforts also stalled and questions over the legality of its expansion in light of the voter approved Amendment requiring voter approval for gambling expansion were left unanswered.  Now, a similar effort is being made to leverage exclusivity in sports betting to bring everyone back to the gambling table.  An online source explains:

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, filed three bills Monday that would allow the state’s lottery department to issue licenses and oversee legal sports wagering in Florida with revenue dedicated to education beginning Oct. 1, 2021.

Brandes’ Senate Bill 392 authorizes the state’s Department of the Lottery to operate a sports wagering program and lays out the parameters of how it would operate. SB 394 imposes a 15-percent tax on “sums received from a sports pool” and SB 396 establishes $100,000 application and renewal fees for state-issued sports wagering licenses.

Brandes’ 2021 proposals are similar to the trio of bills he introduced in the waning days of the 2020 legislative session as lawmakers prepared to leave Tallahassee in March without a new gaming pact with the Seminoles. The bills are essentially a prod to spur urgency in talks between Florida and the Tribe and to stop leaving money on the table – some estimates top $700 million annually – when the state’s current year and next year budgets face unanticipated pandemic-induced shortfalls.

The Seminole gaming compact remains in negotiation with the Tribe objecting to the state’s taking control of sports wagering, especially since such an expansion could be outlawed under the November 2018 passage of Amendment 3, which requires any “expansion of gambling” be approved by at least 60 percent of voters in a ballot measure.

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Loot Box Gambling in Video Games Front and Center of new UK Legislative Efforts

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to classify loot boxes as gambling.  Most recently, the Netherlands issues huge fines against video game publisher EA over this gambling type mechanic in their game Fifa and Spain has shifted focus to regulating these loot boxes as gambling to help protect the children who play these video games.  The UK has been examining the issue for a while, and a new effort being pushed by a local legislator is placing loot boxes front and center.  An online source reports:

Midlothian MP Owen Thompson called for the updating of gambling laws to include tougher action to prevent children and young people being encouraged into gambling-like behaviours while using video games. After the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Minister Nigel Huddleston outlined plans for a forthcoming gambling review, the Midlothian MP called for it to include measures to regulate the use of “loot boxes” in video games. Academic research has linked loot box spending to problem gambling in adolescents.

Mr Thompson called for an extension of the Gambling Act 2005 to include loot boxes and action to prevent video game companies from profiteering on the back of young people who develop gambling-like addictions.

Mr Thompson said: “It is well past time the UK’s gambling laws were made fit for the digital age. Of particular concern is the rise in gambling in children under 16. One important step would be to close the loopholes that allow gambling-like tools to be excessively used in children’s video games. “Parents don’t care about the legal definitions of gambling – they want to know their children are safe when playing popular video games and that means tighter regulations to protect from online harms.

When describing the nature of loot boxes, Mr. Thompson points out that academic research has explained the link to problem gambling and that these video game companies are operating in a legal loophole that needs to be addressed.  The online source continues:

“The presence of loot boxes can encourage young people who are enjoying a video game to spend money they can’t afford in order to keep going, and academic research shows this is linked to problem gambling. It is a very short step between that and addictions to other forms of gambling games like slot machines.

“This is a loophole in the law that needs to be closed down so that tougher regulatory measures can be taken. The Vice Chair of EA Games described loot boxes as ethical and fun, but as a gamer myself I find they can be a costly distraction at best, and capable of encouraging online harm at worst. I find it highly unethical to profit from excessive spend from teenagers on games of chance.

“We cannot wait for the industry to take tougher action – the UK Government needs to tighten the laws and ensure everything possible is done to ensure children and young people are protected when online.”

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Local Councilman Introduces Casino Smoking Ban Ordinance for Missouri Facility

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent decision of many casinos to, at least temporarily, support a ban on smoking in their facilities.  Covid-19 is clearly an airborne virus and not only do smokers need to remove their masks to smoke, but the act of smoking clearly demands they blow the smoke out and away from them, contaminating the air all around them.  A Kansas City area councilman has offered an ordinance to effectively ban smoking as the casino and local health officials, according to the councilman,  don’t seem to want to put public safety over monetary gain.  An online source reports:

St. Joseph City Councilman PJ Kovac is introducing an ordinance that would effectively ban smoking inside the St. Jo Frontier Casino during the coronavirus pandemic, a model hundreds of casinos have followed. Kovac also accused the city health director of turning a “blind eye” to the health of those who visit the casino. “You know, we don’t want to hurt our revenue,” Kovac said sarcastically, referring to tax dollars the city receives from the casino. “So is it about money or is it about health? To all the other businesses, it’s about health.”

Kovac said he has witnessed casino patrons removing their masks indoors while smoking in close proximity to others. “A guy rolled up right next to me smoking the entire time,” he said. “He’s blowing smoke right at me, then he gets done, cigarette in his mouth with his mask down, goes all the way up the casino floor.” Bradley told News-Press NOW that health department staff has visited the casino in regards to enforcement of the mayor’s mask order, but that no one has been fined or sanctioned.

A spokeswoman for the Missouri Gaming Commission, the state agency that generally regulates casinos, said that it’s up to individual cities to regulate smoking inside the establishments. According to CDC Gaming Reports,125 casinos across the country that previously allowed smoking have banned the practice during the coronavirus pandemic, though it’s unclear how many of those will make the ban permanent.

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As states like Florida end Greyhound Racing, a new Federal Bill has been filed

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing situation in Florida regarding greyhound racing and the most recent ban of live races by Florida voters.  Several states have made similar efforts to end an industry that many view as problematic in the area of animal treatment and rights and unnecessary as a gambling device.  Calls have come for a more uniform, federal solution, and the first step in such a journey is now underway.  As an online source reports:

U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., introduced House Resolution 7826 on July 29. The bill, also called the Greyhound Protection Act, would amend the Wire Act to prohibit gambling on commercial greyhound races. The bill would also prohibit gambling on open-field coursing where greyhounds and sighthounds are judged on their ability to chase down hares.

“Greyhound racing is cruel and must end,” Cardenas said in a statement. “My bill allows for a sensible wind-down of an already-declining industry that will ultimately outlaw greyhound racing. As a longtime animal welfare advocate, I am committed to always speaking up for the voiceless.”

U.S. Rep. Carenas takes the position that the industry is on its way out naturally, so he wants to establish a method for phasing the industry out in a way that is not only advantageous for the animals, but those in the industry as well.  The online source continues:

“Greyhound racing will soon end in the United States, and this bill allows for a managed phase-out of the activity to enable planning to provide homes for the dogs and certainty for the owners, workers, and breeders in the industry,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “Greyhound racing is dying, and it’s best to manage the shutdown of the industry to allow for a soft landing for the people and the animals involved.”

GREY2K noted that greyhound racing is quickly losing the race for relevance in the 21st century. Gulf Greyhound Park, the last greyhound track in Texas, shut down last month. The Birmingham Race Course, Alabama’s last remaining track, closed in April. Southland Casino Racing in Arkansas, a Delaware North-owned property, announced last October that greyhound racing would be phased out by 2022.

In 2018, an amendment to the Florida Constitution was passed ending greyhound racing by the end of 2019, shutting down 11 racetracks in the state. The amendment was notable because Florida was the first state to legalize greyhound racing in 1931. 

“Momentum is building for a national phase out of greyhound racing,” said Carey Theil, executive director of GREY2K. “Since the end of the legislative session dog racing has ended in two more states, and West Virginia will soon be the last state to sanction the activity. According to state records, more than 9,000 greyhound injuries have been reported at Mardi Gras and Wheeling since 2008, including 3,254 dogs that suffered broken bones and 420 greyhounds that died. Greyhounds also  endure lives of confinement, and some dogs are trained by being given small animals to tear apart.”

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Missouri Casino Expansion via Lake of the Ozark Bill Dies – Initiative Petition to bypass the Legislators Seems Likely

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many attempts at legalizing casinos near Osage Beach at the Lake of the Ozarks.  The Missouri constitution very clearly limits casino gambling to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, but attempts have been made for over a decade to expand gambling to that part of the state.  New attempts have been made, but those legislative efforts appear to have come to an end, leaving an initiative petition as the new driving effort.  A local new source reports:

Hopes for a casino at the Lake of the Ozarks have been dealt a serious blow. Missouri House Joint Resolution 87, which could have paved the way for a possible gambling boat on the Osage River below Bagnell Dam, has succumbed to the woes of COVID-19.

“It’s dead,” HJR 87 sponsor and proponent Rep. Rocky Miller said this week. “I would have liked for a possible casino to go through the existing proven structure, but I am fairly certain a Ballot Initiative Petition process will begin now.”

In this scenario, a ballot initiative would need to get the required number of signatures to be placed on the ballot, and then the ballot petition would need to win at the polls.  The last ballot initiative that passed was reportedly due, in large part, to the cap of 13 casinos in the state.  Its unclear if there is actual support to amend the constitution once again to allow 14, 15 or even 16 casinos in Missouri.  An online source explains:

Osage River Gambling had already been working on changing Missouri law to bring a casino (or three) to Lake of the Ozarks, via a Citizen’s Initiative Petition (CIP). A CIP would bypass the Missouri legislature and put a constitutional amendment straight to the voters… The CIP would also seek to add three new casino licenses to the current state maximum, bringing it up to 16.

It’s a plan built for high-rollers: the CIP will cost $1 million, the group expects. But they already have the money set aside. They have also polled the ballot language. “It passed easy: 67 percent,” Hand said. That was with the addition of the Osage River and no new licenses, though; investors expect a CIP’s passage to become tougher with the addition of new licenses. Gaming companies with existing Missouri casinos would oppose it.

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Covid Concerns in Florida are Driving Discussions of Legalized Mobile Sports Betting Via Tribal Gambling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various attempts at legalizing sports betting in Florida.  Most efforts have thus far failed, including attempts during the legislative session to open it at casinos.  Now that the coronavirus has shut down the economy and is keeping people indoors, the focus seems to have shifted to mobile sports betting.  An online source reports:  

The Seminole Tribe is currently in talks with state legislators to draft proposals on regulating mobile sports betting in the Sunshine State. The fallout from COVID-19 has devastated economic activity and led to widespread unemployment across Florida. In an attempt to make up the budget shortfalls, Florida legislators are eyeing out-of-the-box proposals such as regulated online betting activity.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida owns and operates the hugely successful Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. As lawmakers continue to work feverishly on crafting a budget for 2020/2021, unforeseen expenses and the shuttering of non-essential economic activity has ramped up financial pressures on state coffers. According to the New York Times, there are currently over 36,000+ cases of coronavirus in Florida, with 1,378+ deaths, and rising.

This push is viewed as a financial boon for the city looking for quick tax money and a financial windfall for the Seminole Tribe.  The estimates are in the hundreds of millions, but its still unclear if such gambling would actually be legal, given the amendment passed by Florida voters that requires a vote on new gambling expansion.  The online source continues: 

Nonetheless, it has widely been reported that the Seminole Tribe will be paying the $500 million for the first year and the $700 million every year thereafter to the state of Florida for exclusivity vis-a-vis online sports betting services.

Lawmakers hope that legislation permitting mobile sports betting can mitigate the effects of severe budget shortfalls that are currently being experienced. Back in 2018, Florida voters decided by a margin of 71%-29% that they will have the final say on any further gambling expansion a.k.a. /Amendment 3./

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Missouri Senate Proposes Gambling Expansion at a Time Many View as Socially Irresponsible

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing gambling expansion issues in Missouri.  The most recent issues have been the illegal gambling machines in places like gas stations and truck stops and those hoping for a new casino at the Lake of the Ozarks.  This specific expansion policy involves increased pull tabs at truck stops, and several Missouri legislators thing the idea is socially irresponsible.  The Columbia Daily Tribune reports:

The Missouri Senate passed its spending plan Tuesday with language allowing the state lottery to install 100 new pull-tab machines throughout the state and open up truck stops to the games for the first Time. Currently, only 500 are allowed and they can only be installed in veteran and fraternal organizations. The pull-tab name refers to the perforated tabs covering slot-machine style symbols on tickets dispensed by the machines. Players pull back the tabs to see if they’ve won a prize.

But a number of lawmakers objected to the idea, calling the expansion morally wrong. Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said it would be “a direct offense to our low-income people who will divert their money to things like this.” “This bothers me a lot,” he added.

Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, said the same thing and that it would be even worse at a time when people are reeling from the pandemic and the resulting downturn. “With people not thinking as straight as they normally would with all the pressures of the stay-at-home and lack of community and other things that would stabilize a person, I think the impact would be even greater than it would at another time,” he said.

Sen. Eric Burlison, R-Battlefield, added that the idea “disgusted” him. “I’m not a fan of funding our schools through gambling,” he said.

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New Missouri Gambling Bill Seeks to Legalize Illegal & Unregulated Slot Machines

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the illegal gambling machines that have emerged all over Missouri.  The Missouri constitution limits gambling to river boat casinos along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers only.  Any other gambling outside of the lottery is illegal. So naturally many were confused when illegal slot machines started showing up at truck stops and other locations outside of regulated casinos.  Initially there was confusion over who had the authority to shut them down as the Missouri Gaming Commission can only regulate gambling at the casinos. However, after some time, a lot has been done to curb the illegal devices including criminal and civil lawsuits.  Missouri representatives have been looking at legislation to explicitly ban them all together and there has been some disagreement on how to handle the situation in general. However, its still rather shocking to see legislation proposed that would attempt to violate the Missouri Constitution and make such gambling devices legal.  An online source reports:

The new bill, dubbed Senate Bill 566, aims to combat the illegal gambling machine problem. It seeks to allow state-regulated video gambling machines in truck stops, fraternal and veterans’ organizations and retail locations that hold liquor licenses. It suggests that people over the age of 21 should be allowed to access these regulated machines, which will be monitored by the State Lottery Commission.

Some lawmakers are uncomfortable with the idea of these machines. For instance, Senator John Rizzo said that he doesn’t want kids to walk into gas stations, buying Gatorades and passing through these gambling machines.

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Florida Gov Looking Forward to Meeting with Seminole Tribe to Discuss Gambling Pact as Current Gambling Efforts Stall

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many attempts to establish a feasible gambling pact between the Florida government and the Seminole tribe.  Most recentlythe Tribe ended payments to Florida after the state failed to properly eliminate a form of table gambling that the Seminole’s held exclusive rights to offer.  Attempts were made to come up with a deal, but nothing materialized. As this year’s legislative session nears close, the two parties find themselves in a similar situation, though Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is hopeful that a meeting and a solution might be on the horizon.  An online source reports:

House and Senate leaders appear unable to reach agreement on a sweeping gambling deal, but Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t thrown in the towel.

For the second week in a row, the House Gaming Control Subcommittee canceled a scheduled Friday meeting, where any deal between the two chambers could have been revealed.

Discussions between legislative leaders have been ongoing, but the Seminole Tribe of Florida — a key player in any gambling deal — has not been part of the talks.

“I have not met with them yet. But I would like to have a resolution, and so I anticipate meeting with them in the not-too-distant future,” DeSantis told reporters Thursday. “I hope we can get something done. I think it would be good, if we can. But that is definitely on the agenda on the not-too-distant future.”

Gov. DeSantis believes this year the circumstances are different, and his administration has been given more time to properly evaluate the needs of both sides.  News 4 Continues: 

Sen. Wilton Simpson, a Trilby Republican who will take over as Senate president in November, reached a deal with the Seminoles in the waning days of the 2019 legislative session. But DeSantis, who took office in January 2019, said he didn’t have enough time to vet the proposal before the session ended.

He said Thursday that he focused during his first session last year on “the things that I campaigned on,” which did not include a deal with the Seminoles.

“I got something very late, and there was just no way I was going to sign the state up for a 30-year agreement, 48 hours into it. So, I’ve had a chance to really understand what the state should benefit from it.

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Florida not Likely to Legalize Sports Betting this Legislative Session

Casino Watch Focus has reported on various efforts to legalize sports betting in Florida, including methods that would attempt to get around the Voters in Charge initiative.  That initiative saw the passage of a constitutional amendment that requires a vote of the people to expand gambling. It would appear that fears over such methods can be set aside, as it’s being reported that its unlikely sports betting will be legalized this legislative session.  An online source reports:

Sports betting isn’t likely to make much, if any, headway in Florida this year, according to state political insiders with connections in Tallahassee. The Florida Legislature is currently in session until mid-March. But with 2020 being an election year, incumbents’ priorities may boil down to passing a budget, not drawing the ire of constituents and not much else.

The Tampa Bay Times recently surveyed 150 “insiders” – defined as lobbyists, politicians, activists, party workers, campaign staff and donors – to assess the odds of various high-profile bills making their way to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). Sixty-three percent of the connected group said sports betting is a no-go in the Sunshine State this year.

“It doesn’t seem like there’s any chance it’ll be legalized in time for the 2020 football season,” said Brian Edwards, founder of Florida-based BrianEdwardsSports.com, in an interview with Casino.org. “In fact, we might be looking at three to four years before Florida gets on board.”

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Missouri Legislator Pushing for New Casino in Osage Beach Area

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to regulate casino gambling in Missouri.  Each state has different laws and Missouri originally only allowed for 2 hour river boat gambling excursions.  With each passing year, the expansion of gambling through the erosion of the laws has resulted in 13 full standing casinos.  Those casinos do technically float and they have to be located on either the Missouri or Mississippi rivers, but to the casual observer, it appears that Missouri has 13 large and free standing casinos operating.  So, perhaps it’s not too surprising that every few years someone new wants to see a new casino in a part of the state that’s prohibited by the constitution. Branson has been the most popular venue debated, but Osage beach has been discussed in relation to a possible tribal casino.  Now it would appear that much like the Netflix television show Ozark, there is discussion of trying to set up a casino on a new waterway.  Specifically, Rep. Rocky Miller, who was a consultant to the show, is out promoting a resolution he has filed in hopes of adding the Osage river to the accepted venue list.  The Springfield News Leader reports:

A legislator from around the Lake of the Ozarks wants to allow riverboat gambling there. No, this is not a recap of the Netflix show with Jason Bateman. Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Lake Ozark, filed a real resolution in the Missouri capitol Friday that would ask voters to add the Osage River to the list of waterways where casinos are permitted.

Miller said he consulted on the Netflix show “Ozark,”   which centers on the Byrde family’s efforts to launder money for a Mexican drug cartel in Osage Beach. Season 2 focuses on their efforts to open a riverboat casino at Lake of the Ozarks. And Miller says he told the showrunners about the law.

Miller’s approach wouldn’t necessarily establish a casino in the area right away because there is a hard cap of 13 casino licenses that can be granted.  His proposal would simply open the Osage river up to an acceptable venue, so if one of the licenses  would become available. The News Leader continues:

The resolution wouldn’t necessarily bring anything to his area immediately. It wouldn’t touch the limit voters put on the casino licenses in 2008, and all 13 of those are currently in use. But if one were to come available, he said, his area “would become a great option to revive some revenue.”

It’s not clear how much interest there is in the General Assembly this year. Miller said he thinks there’s a chance it gets through the House, though the always-mercurial Senate is a bigger question mark. He said he thought leaving the cap alone would help with the casino lobby, though. He added that requiring a public vote on the issue could be a way to pitch the bill as well.

The odds are most certainly stacked against the idea of expanded casino gambling.  The constitution would need changed to allow the law, meaning the path of least resistance might be an initiative petition, a direct vote of the people.  History would indicate a long shot though, as this exact issue was defeated overwhelmingly in Branson.  

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New Florida Lottery Bill Seeks to Prevent Gambling Expansion

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts by legislators to pass meaningful gambling legislation in the area of state sold lottery tickets.  Last year a bill was passed that required warning labels on Florida lottery tickets. That bill was vetoed by the Governor, citing a loss of revenue due to belief that large warning labels would cause less gambling on lottery tickets. This year, a new bill is being introduced that seeks to address the Governor’s concerns, while still preventing gambling expansion on other fronts.  Florida Politics explains:

The measures require the “play responsibly” message to be printed on the lottery ticket and take up at least 5% of the ticket’s total surface area. That’s a reduction from previous proposed warning messages, which were more detailed and took up more space on those tickets.

The legislation also mandates the message be displayed in TV, electronic or paper ads, with the same requirement that the message take up 5% of the surface area of the advertisement. For radio ads, the warning must be issued at the end of the promotion.

Both new bills include a provision barring lottery games that are tied to athletic events. “The [Department of Lottery] may not authorize the operation of a lottery game in which the winner is chosen on the basis of the activities or outcomes of one or more sporting events,” *the bill reads*.

Finally, the legislation would require $500,000 annually for an advertising program warning against gambling addiction. “The department shall, subject to competitive bidding, contract for such services, which must include an advertising program to encourage responsible gambling practices and to publicize a telephone help line,” the measure reads.

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Puerto Rico to Approve Cockfighting in direct defiance of President Trump’s new Federal Bill

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ever cruel gambling sport known as cockfighting. This illegal gambling activity involves strapping razors to the feet of the chickens who battle, typically to the death, while people gamble on the outcome. New legislation passed by President Trump will provide additional enforcement tools to help crack down.  An online source explains: 

The enactment of federal law will now enhance the fight against animal cruelty. Last week President Donald Trump signed the federal pact preventing animals from cruelty. The law will now help the local enforcement to crackdown cockfighting, which is prevalent in Las Vegas Valley.

Despite having a variety of gaming activities in nearby Las Vegas, cockfighting is prevalent in the region. The sport is popular among Latin American migrants. It is culturally accepted in South America, but banned in the US. According to Casino.org, California and part of Texas are a hotbed of the sport; the sport is operated by rings who host betting activities among the spectators. Razors are fixed on the birds’ feathers, and they usually fight to the death.

The new federal law will enable local law enforcement to have more power in persecuting those involved in the activity. It is a felony for anyone found abusing non-human living things such as birds, mammals, reptiles, or amphibians.

Despite these efforts, Puerto Rico has not acquiesced to the federal direction on such matters.  In fact, Puerto Rico is now passing new legislation to attempt to protect their cockfighting industry, and they are aware of the federal legal battle that will ensue.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports:

Puerto Rico will defy the U.S. government and approve a law to keep cockfighting alive in a bid to protect a 400-year-old tradition practiced across the island despite a federal ban that goes into effect this week, officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.

The move brought cautious rejoicing in the cockfighting business despite concerns that the U.S. territory is trying to override a federal law that President Donald Trump signed a year ago. “We are certainly challenging a federal law. We know what that implies,” Rep. Gabriel Rodríguez Aguiló, who co-authored the bill, told the AP. He said that Gov. Wanda Vázquez was scheduled to sign the bill Wednesday morning and that he expected the fight to end up in federal court.

Those in opposition not only see cruelty to animals as terrible and preventable, but they also dispute the claims that its an economically viable means of governmental revenue.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch concludes:

Animal rights activists have long pushed to end cockfights in U.S. territories, saying they are cruel and noting they are illegal in all 50 U.S. states. Wayne Pacelle, founder of the Washington- based Animal Wellness Action, said he doesn’t believe the statistics on Puerto Rico cockfighting.

“They are widely exaggerating the economic value,” he said. “Watching animals slash each other just for human entertainment and gambling is not judged as a legitimate enterprise by mainstream people.”

The measure says it is legal for Puerto Rico to host cockfights as long as people don’t export or import cocks or any goods or services related to cockfighting. The latter actions would violate the federal law, based on how Puerto Rico officials interpret it. “It remains to be seen whether that’s how federal authorities understand it,” said Rep. Luis Vega Ramos.

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Missouri Legislators to introduce Sports Betting Bills, this time with a cut for Professional Leagues

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing growth of sports betting after the Supreme Court’s ruling to allow states to legalize sports gambling.  Many states have done just that, with Florida being the most recently reported state to consider its legalization. Nothing has passed in Florida and Missouri attempted last year to introduce legislation, but it lacked any fees to pro sports organizations.  Now it would appear that with the pre filing of two new sports legalization bills, Missouri is going to reattempt legalization, but this time with the addition of integrity fees.  An online source reports:

Lawmakers in Missouri have pre-filed legislation to legalize and regulate sports betting, following the issue of a favorable special committee report. The new proposals are similar to bills introduced earlier this year, which failed to pass before the end of the 2019 legislative session.

However, sponsors of new bills have called for the inclusion of integrity fees to be paid to professional sports leagues, and as much as 0.75% of handle.

Here’s what’s included in the bills: SB 567 from Sen. Denny Hoskins calls for the Missouri Lottery Commission to oversee sports betting with 0.25% of handle paid to the leagues. SB 754 from Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer seeks 0.75% of handle to be paid to the leagues. The bill would put the Missouri Gaming Commission in charge of regulation.

The decision to include an integrity fee might not actually help the legislation get passed this year considering the issue has been vehemently opposed in other states.  The online source continues:

The issue of integrity fees is a thorny one and is bitterly opposed by operators, who argue that they would eat into their slim profits from sports wagering. Operators usually only keep around 5% of the total handle and, should this be compromised, the additional costs would then have to be passed onto players in the form of un-competitive lines and less enticing promotions.

Integrity fees have been advocated most notably by the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB), as a way of profiting from the proliferation of sports betting in the U.S. However, none of the states to launch legal sports betting so far have approved such a fee, with New Jersey  going so far as calling the idea “insulting”.

Whether or not such gambling efforts violate the Missouri constitution that limits gambling to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers remains to be seen.  However, the possible inclusion of mobile operators would sure seem to make that question more discernible, which could make the passage harder than typical legislation.  The new legislation is vague, but does seem to want to set up such a system. The source concludes: 

The committee report, which was presented to the state House on Dec. 5, does at least include a potential sweetener for the operators:statewide online/mobile wagering. While vague on the subject, the report stated it is interested in mobile wagering and “creating a level playing field insofar as that is possible”“.Whether that means the market will be opened up to several mobile operators or ensuring retail sportsbooks aren’t dominated by single operators is unclear.”

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