Category Archives: Online Gambling

Guest Article:  Editorial: Florida gaming deal goes to court. One verdict is in: Lawmakers’ contempt for voters

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing sports betting saga taking place in Florida and today’s guest article on this matter is an editorial by Florida’s Finger Lake Times:  

Two Miami business leaders went to court this week in Washington, D.C., in an effort to stop the expansion of gambling in Florida — and to stand up for voters, since the Legislature and governor are doing just the opposite.

Developer Armando Codina and auto retailer Norman Braman, two of the state’s fiercest and most well-heeled gambling opponents, filed suit — along with the group No Casinos — against U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. The suit accuses the federal government of allowing the state to circumvent the Florida Constitution when it approved a new gaming deal this year — including off-reservation sports betting — with the Seminole Tribe. The suit also contends that Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature violated federal laws by authorizing gambling outside of Indian lands, among other claims.

We believe there’s little doubt that lawmakers and gambling interests crafted the deal precisely to get around the 2018 constitutional amendment that voters approved — by an unheard-of 72% — that specified the electorate must determine if there are more casinos in Florida…

Unless the courts stop this deal, more casino gambling will be allowed at existing facilities. The Seminole Tribe’s Hard Rock casinos in Broward and Hillsborough counties would be able to morph into full Las Vegas-style casinos with the addition of roulette and craps. No Casinos calls this the biggest gambling expansion in Florida history.

Yet, that’s not all. Even more alarming is the part of the deal where the Seminole Tribe says it won’t object to any new casino license as long as it’s at least 18 miles from its Hard Rock Casino near Hollywood.

Guess what? Both the Fontainebleau hotel and resort in Miami Beach and Trump’s National Doral Miami golf resort — both have indicated they would like to see a new law that would let them transfer a gambling license from an existing parimutuel to their properties — fall conveniently outside that magic 18-mile boundary line.

As Codina told the Herald, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how this movie is ending.”

Agreed.

The full article can be read HERE

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New Lawsuit filed to block Florida’s Oct 15th Sports Betting Expansion

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent sports betting legalization in Florida by means of its new Seminole Gambling Compact, and on the subsequent opposition.  A pair of Florida parimutuel companies have been leading the legal charge against Florida and the Seminole Gambling compact they entered into with the Tribe.  The issue, of course, stems from the inappropriate sports gambling expansion that will take place off reservation, gambling that requires the express consent of the Florida voters before it can be enacted.  The argument has been if the location of the online servers being on tribal land is enough to call it tribal gambling, or if the fact that anyone in the state having access to this gambling subjects it to constitutional voter approval.  Florida has moved forward with its plans to initiate and regulate sports gambling and have set Oct 15th as the date.  A new lawsuit by the same companies essentially seeks an injunction to hold off such gambling until the lawsuits can be heard.  The Miami-Herald explains:

Two Florida pari-mutuels filed a new motion in federal district court in Washington late Tuesday, asking a judge to block implementation of online sports betting under the Florida tribal gaming compact which is scheduled to begin later this year.

The motion, filed by Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room against U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, asks a court to enjoin the sports-betting portion of the state’s compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

The plaintiffs allege that although the Department of the Interior allowed the compact to take effect, the court should reverse that decision and block implementation until a legal sports-betting compact is established for Florida.

Although the Florida statute sets an Oct. 15 start date for tribal sports betting, a footnote in the lawsuit states that “representatives of the Tribe have informed Plaintiffs that the Tribe will not implement online sports betting until November 15, 2021.”

The court has scheduled a Nov. 5 hearing date to hear oral arguments on the Magic City motion for summary judgment with the goal of blocking the launch of online sports betting in Florida.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Missouri Lottery Targeted as Sports Gambling Expansion Regulatory Body

Casino Watch Focus has reported on various efforts to expand gambling in Missouri by legalizing sports gambling.  The Supreme Court has allowed for each state to set its own sports gambling regulations now, and many states have started expanding their gambling offerings into the sports realm.  However, in Missouri, most gambling outside of the lottery, or some charity bingo/fundraisers, is limited to the 13 licensed casinos that operate on either the Missouri or Mississippi rivers.  That hasn’t stopped those from looking into ways of expanding sports gambling in any means possible and it looks like the Missouri Lottery is the new regulatory target.  The Washington Examiner reports:

[I]f Missouri lawmakers allowed new products, such as sports wagering, and took steps to “modernize our channels of distribution” through online lottery ticket sales, revenues would dramatically increase – and quickly.

That was the pitch Wednesday by Missouri Lottery Executive Director May Reardon and Missouri Gaming Commission General; Counsel Edward Grewach before the Senate Economic Development Committee,

Casino operators are among those lobbying lawmakers to legalize sports gaming. Thirty-two states have done so since 2018’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, but efforts in Missouri have fallen short in consecutive sessions.

Reardon said the Missouri Lottery should administer any “new products” authorized by lawmakers,   noting 70% of global online sports wagering is conducted by lotteries.

Grewach said if lawmakers allow sports betting, only wagers placed by a person physically present in the state to a company also residing in Missouri would be legal.

Any proposal to do so, he cautioned, would “create some regulatory challenges for us.”

In addition to regulatory challenges pertaining to carrying out a lottery based sports gambling scheme, there would also be questions about the constitutionality of sports betting in Missouri, where gambling is expressly limited to casinos and the regulation through the Missouri Gaming Commission.  It would be expected that both those hoping to see sports betting remain outlawed in Missouri, and those whose interests align with casinos will object should such legislation find success in the Missouri Legislature. 

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Could the Florida Seminole Gambling Compact Sports Betting Case lead to a Massive Expansion of Gambling Around the Country?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing events surrounding the legalization of sports betting in Florida via the new gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe.  The implications of the new BIA ruling allowing online gambling to gamblers who simply link to servers located on tribal land, without regard to the gamblers physical location, could be profound.  The government claims their view is simply an updated view of how online gambling should work, but clearly its a method of usurping the Florida Constitution that expressly forbids expanded gambling without the vote of the people.  What kind of precedent will this set for other states?  An online source breaks down the Nationwide implications:

The Seminole deal seeks to be the nation’s first compact that permits off-tribal land gaming under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the sweeping legislation that regulates tribal gaming nationwide. The compact language also would permit certain aspects, such as the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, to stand even if online components are denied.

If online sports betting is approved, Florida would eclipse Pennsylvania as the nation’s most-populated legal digital wagering state. With California and Texas unlikely to approve mobile sports betting until 2025 or later, it’s a title the Sunshine State should hold for years to come. Along with more than 21-million residents, Florida averages more than 100 million tourism visits annually. Mobile wagering from Pensacola to Key West could create a market that reverberates beyond just the state itself.

Mobile sports betting authorization for the Seminoles could mean hundreds of other tribes could pursue digital gaming options of their own. Legal battles would surely follow, but an internet-friendly definition of wagering “on tribal lands” could mean every state with a recognized tribe has at least an argument for digital sportsbooks, lottery and casinos.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


UPDATE: Seminole Gambling Compact Officially Approved by Federal Government

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to ratify the Seminole Gambling Compact with Florida.  Most provisions were along similar lines as past compacts, but the sudden inclusion of online sports gambling to be regulated by the Seminole’s created an immediate controversy.  The compact is attempting to legalize mobile sports gambling which is illegal in Florida and must be voted on by the people to become legal.  The state of course claims the gambling servers for sports betting on Tribal land, so it’s irrelevant if the gamblers are off site and located in Florida which is illegal.  The Government had 45 days to approve, deny, or not take action, which defaults to allowing the compact.  The 45 days has passed, thus the compact has officially been approved.  An online source reports;  

On Friday, the top-ranking official in the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) wrote to Gov. Ron DeSantis and Tribe Chairman Marcellus Osceola that the compact those leaders signed on April 23 is “considered to have been approved” without action by the BIA, which declined to affirmatively approve it during a 45-day review period but also did not reject it.

Bryan Newland, head of the BIA, wrote: “After thorough review under IGRA, we have taken no action to approve or disapprove the Compact before August 5, 2021, the 45th day. As a result, the Compact is considered to have been approved by operation of law to the extent that it complies with IGRA and existing Federal law. The Compact will become effective upon the publication of notice in the Federal Register.”

The most controversial component of the compact legalizes mobile sports betting — individuals placing digital bets on sporting events via mobile devices, but not engaging with other players in internet-based games referred to as online gambling — everywhere in the state, but it deems those bets to have been made on tribal land where the file servers will process them. The arrangement is called “hub and spoke,” with servers on tribal land being the hub and devices across the state being the spokes.

This news is disappointing to many, including NO Casino’s, the watchdog organization that was instrumental in getting the Florida Amendment passed that requires a vote of the people to expand gambling.  Now that its official, they plan to put forth litigation to correct the over ruling.  The online source continues:

[T]he sports betting provision will face legal challenges arguing that the hub-and-spoke arrangement is a fiction designed to usurp Florida’s ban on expanding gambling without prior voter approval.John Sowinski, president of No Casinos, vowed to fight the compact in federal and state courts, chiefly to defend Florida Constitutional Amendment 3 passed by voters in 2018 to outlaw expansions of gambling without prior voter approval.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Department of Interior took no action on the compact between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida,” Sowinski wrote in a statement Friday to the Phoenix. “While this inaction means that it is deemed approved by the Department of Interior, it does not change the fact that this compact violates multiple federal laws as well as the Florida Constitution.

“The 2018 constitutional mandate of 72 percent of Florida voters could not be clearer,” Sowinski continued. “Only Florida voters, not politicians in Tallahassee or Washington, have the power to expand gambling in Florida. This issue will have its day in both state and federal courts, where we are confident that this compact will be overturned. We are committed to ensuring that the people of Florida will always have the final say on gambling as required by Florida’s Amendment 3.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Guest Editorial: Gaming companies placed a $62 million bet against Florida voters. Don’t let them win

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various attempts to expand gambling in Florida.  After a successful Amendment to the Florida Constitution, new gambling in the state must be approved by the voters.  So far, 4 different initiative potions dealing with gambling have been successfully funded to find their way on the ballot.  The Miami Herald Editorial Board has come out strongly in opposition and is warning Florida voters to avoid being deceived by all these gambling expansion measures.  Read below and for the full article, click HERE:

Consider yourself warned, Florida. The door has been flung wide open for more gambling and everyone is scrambling to get a piece of the action. How else to explain this astonishing piece of news: Gambling interests pumped a whopping $62 million in political contributions last month into groups and efforts that could influence the future of sports betting and casino gambling via ballot initiatives in 2022, according to a Miami Herald story.

With that kind of money on the table, the potential market in Florida must be huge. No doubt much of this interest springs from the Legislature’s easy approval this year of a $500 million gambling deal negotiated between the Gov. Ron Desantis and the Seminole Tribe.

Out-of-state, sports-gaming companiesFanDuel and DraftKings are each in for a cool $10 million, money they put into a political committee pushing to expand online sports betting across the state. They were iced out of the Seminole deal.

The Las Vegas Sands, a powerful new player, dropped $17 million into a political committee linked to two ballot issues for more casinos. Sources told the Herald that the company is interested in purchasing existing parimutuel licenses to open casinos in Jacksonville and other northern Florida spots.

Miami’s Magic City Casino anted up $15 million for its own political committee, official purpose unspecified. And the Seminole Tribe, winner of the last round of Gambling Gone Wild in this state, put $10 million into yet another political committee, mostly likely to defend its crown…

The timing of this slew of cash isn’t a coincidence. A new law was supposed to go into effect July 1 to limit contributions for signature-gathering — a requirement to get a proposed amendment on the ballot — to a paltry $3,000 per organization. But a lawsuit was filed, and a federal judge temporarily blocked the law just as it was about to go into effect…

It’s not completely clear yet which organization wants what next year. But the Miami Herald sketched it out this way:

FanDuel and DraftKings are looking for their own online sports betting deal to be approved by Florida voters. The Seminole Tribe wants to be ready to defend its 30-year gaming deal, which is still awaiting approval from the federal government. The Sands organization is eyeing casinos in northern Florida. And Magic City’s stake is designed to make sure parimutuels have a place at the table.

If that sounds like the state is being carved up like a roast at Sunday dinner, well, we agree…

But more gambling is not yet a done deal in this state. Getting a constitutional amendment onto the ballot in Florida isn’t easy. And any amendment must pass with at least 60 percent of the vote. No matter how much money the gambling companies throw at Florida, voters still have the final say.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Congressional attempts to redefine Tribal Gambling to allow Florida Gambling Compact Underway

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to pass a legal gambling compact in Florida with the Seminole Tribe, however, the new mobile sports betting provision has sparked opposition and now formal lawsuits to stop such action. Federal law allows for tribal gambling, but there are limitations and the current regulatory language and legal precedent are fairly clear that tribal gambling must be on tribal land, making online or mobile gambling outside of the legal purview if the gambling in question is not legal in the state where mobile/internet gamblers could be located.  The Florida Seminole compact is facing two current lawsuits and is under review by the Federal Government, but two Congressional lawmakers are taking action to quickly change federal tribal gambling regulation to allow the Seminole Compact to circumvent the lawsuits and the Florida constitution.  An online source reports:

Two congressmen have filed legislation that would seek to help more tribal casinos implement online gaming. US Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) issued a statement into the Congressional Record  Thursday to introduce HR 4308 

“This bill would clarify that, for purposes of tribal government gaming, the location of the wager occurs at the location of the server, unless a state and Indian tribe otherwise agree,” Correa said in his remarks.

“Making this clarification will keep intact the current system of tribal gaming and eliminate any frivolous litigation.”

The bill announcement occurred one day before a federal lawsuit was filed in Florida. That lawsuit seeks to stop the amended tribal gaming compact that would give the Seminole Tribe exclusive statewide mobile sports betting rights in that state.

It’s unclear how successful this blatant attempt to circumvent pending litigation and the Florida constitution will be given the time frame, but this isn’t the first time online-type tribal federal legislation has been filed.  However, those attempts have all failed.  Those attempts were more broad in scope, but still couldn’t receive the support needed.  Time will tell if this avenue impacts the current course of the Seminole compact.  

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Florida Sports Betting Legalization through Seminole Gambling Compact Officially Challenged via Lawsuits

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to pass a new gambling compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe.  An agreement has been reached, but a provision to legalize mobile sports betting by way of Seminole exclusivity has met tremendous opposition.  The most notable reason is because the Florida Constitution requires a vote of the people to expand gambling in Florida.  Those behind the agreement claim that the gambling servers are on tribal land and so even if a gambler is off the reservation, it’s still tribal gambling.  Despite the intuitive and logical notion that the gambling takes place where the gambler is located, as geolocation is a standard issue states have to deal with when offering gambling to people in their states but not across borders, this issue has been litigated and precedent would deem that the gambling takes place in both locations.  This the exact impetus behind two lawsuits that have now been filed against the compact.  An online source reports:

It seemed like only a matter of time before a lawsuit was brought against Florida’s new sports betting law  — and Friday was that day. Miami-based licensed parimutuel facility Magic City Casino and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp., a poker room which also features simulcasting on sports such as horse racing, have filed a “Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief” in federal court against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The complaint claims the new law is passed in violation of federal oversight, in having the Seminole tribe offer sports betting across the entire state of Florida via use of mobile devices such as smartphones.

“[O]nline gambling, including sports betting, is illegal in Florida. The Implementing Law purports to legalize it, but only if conducted by the Tribe under the 2021 Compact. It remains illegal otherwise,” according to the 67-page brief filed by the plaintiffs.

“Pursuant to the 2021 Compact and the Implementing Law, sports bets initiated by persons located physically anywhere within Florida (or even outside the state) are ‘deemed’ to have occurred on Indian lands because the ‘servers’ and ‘devices’ purportedly receiving the bets are to be located on the Tribe’s reservation. ‘Deeming’ the bet to have been placed on Indian lands because the servers are located there contradicts decades of well-established precedent interpreting applicable federal law. Contrary to the legal fiction created by the 2021 Compact and Implementing Law, a bet is placed both where the bettor and the casino are each located.”

Federal Law does allow for gambling on tribal lands, and Congress intended for limitations, such as preventing gambling that is expressly illegal in a state.  Not only is the scope of jurisdiction for tribal gambling clear, but there is well established legal precedent for mobile/internet gambling regulation and the location of servers and computers pursuant to such gabmling.  Past precedent was clear that the gambling must take place solely on tribal land, or it would be subject to state regulation.  They conclude:

“The NIGC has consistently maintained the position that the IGRA does not provide for any form of gaming off Indian lands,” the Florida suit also states. It refers to a 2001 letter by NIGC officials in continuing, “The use of the Internet, even though the computer server may be located on Indian lands, would constitute off-reservation gaming to the extent any of the players were located off Indian lands.”

The Seminole Tribe, however, is not challenged in this lawsuit from offering any sports betting at all.

“Plaintiffs recognize that the State could compact with the Tribe to permit in person sports betting by patrons physically on its reservations. However, the State cannot circumvent its own laws or federal law in an attempt to legalize off-reservation sports betting for the Tribe only.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Sports Betting in Florida via Seminole Compact to be Challenged in Court upon Passage, but can a Challenge Survive the Politics of the Deal?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the efforts to pass a new Seminole gambling compact in Florida and on the various attempts to legalize sports betting.  Now, the new Seminole compact has become the avenue for sports betting and if ratified by the Florida legislature in a special session, would become legal in the state.  Should that happen, legal challenges are essentially guaranteed.  The issue at hand is that sports betting would not simply be offered on Seminole property, which could be argued isn’t Florida proper and thus not under the recently passed Amendment 3 which requires all new gambling to be approved by a vote of the people, but instead all over the state via mobile gambling.  At that point it’s fairly clear that the gambling is happening in Florida and thus subject to a vote of the people prior to becoming low.  As previously explained, the State believes that because the servers for the mobile gambling are on tribal lands, its not in Florida.  However, as previously reported, a federal lawsuit regarding a similar issue in California concluded that gambling must be legal both where it originates and where the person gambling is located.  No Casinos, who released an ad campaign reminding everyone of the law, outlines why they plan to bring a legal challenge and why its argument is backed by various laws.  An online source explains:

No Casinos argues the arrangement runs counter to a couple of federal laws.

The Federal Wire Act holds, Sowinski said, “that a telephonic or electronic or online transaction of any sort occurs in two places: the place where the person originating the transaction is and the place where the person receiving the transaction is. It has to be legal in both of those places in order to be a legal transaction. That includes gambling, as well.”

Meanwhile, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act holds that tribes can’t offer games not otherwise legal within a state. The compact would legalize sports betting on the Seminole land, Sowinski acknowledged, but he insisted allowing play statewide implicates Amendment 3 and would require a statewide referendum.

“The Legislature doesn’t have the authority to authorize that today within the state, and therefore, according to federal law, they can’t negotiate to put that on the tribal land,” Sowinski said.

The concern, of course, is that the language that allows for negotiations of a gambling compact in the first place, supersedes the provisions in those particular laws.  If that part of the argument does produce a court ruling that pushes that provision to the people for a vote, it’s believed that the case would be appealed, and then the local and national politics of the deal come into play.  If that’s the case, the federal precedent established in the federal case in CA requiring that the gambling in question must take place where both parties have the legal ability to do so, might not be much help in the end.  The source concludes:

Even if a trial judge buys the No Casino argument, the state could appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which is packed with Donald Trump appointees (including two DeSantis had earlier placed on the Florida Supreme Court but whom Trump promoted), will certainly overrule, Jarvis predicted.

“And the U.S. Supreme Court, of course, is a Trump-appointed court. Trump has made it clear that he wants this deal. DeSantis has made it clear that he wants this deal.”

Federal agencies too, including the Department of the Interior (DOI), headed by Native American Deb Haaland, and its Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), also are going to accept the deal, he predicts.

The California case set federal precedent and the newly passed Florida Amendment 3 to the constitution shows clear intent by the voters to want to approve new gambling in the state, which would clearly include mobile sports betting.  Most believe the compact will get ratified, so time will tell how the legal challenges will shake out.  

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


New Florida Seminole Gambling Compact Reached, but the Inclusion of Sports Betting is Sure to Elicit Legal Challenges

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the years long attempts and finalizing a new gambling agreement between Florida and the Seminole Nation.  It would appear the long awaited agreement has finally been reached, but it will still need to be ratified in a special legislative session before it becomes law.  The Orlando Fox Affiliate reports:

Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe finalized a 30-year gambling agreement on Friday, inking a deal that would deliver at least $2.5 billion to Florida over the next five years in exchange for giving the tribe control over statewide sports betting. Tribal leaders, including Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr., joined DeSantis in his Tallahassee office for a ceremonial signing of the deal, known as a “compact.”

“We truly believe that this is the best deal for everybody. It’s not in favor of the tribe or the state. It’s in favor of both parties, because this is a long-lasting team,” Osceola said. DeSantis noted Friday that the agreement, which requires approval by the Legislature, would allow the state to capitalize on online sport betting.

Although many are pleased to finally see a new compact agreement reached, those who oppose see the compact as a legislative overreach, as it expands gambling without a vote of the people. Florida Voters overwhelmingly passed an amendment that requires all gambling expansion in Florida to be approved by the voters.  Fox continues:   

But John Sowinski, the campaign manager of the political committee behind the amendment, said sports betting and several other provisions in the proposed compact, which would allow the Seminoles to add craps and roulette to their current casino operations, run afoul of the Constitution.

The amendment, which was approved by 71 percent of Florida voters, “requires voter approval for any new casino gambling,” Sowinski said Friday in a prepared statement.

“That includes sports gambling, player designated games, craps, roulette, moving slot machine permits, and any other form of Class III gambling,” he said, referring to federal law classifications of tribal gaming. “The proposed compact violates the letter and spirit of Amendment 3. We call on the governor and our legislators to honor the will of the people, who demanded that any new casino gambling authorization occur at the ballot box, not behind closed doors in Tallahassee.”

Gov. DeSantis said he is willing to vicariously defend the agreement, claiming that this gambling is not in Florida, as Amendment 3 covers, but the sovereign land of the Seminole Tribe.  The agreement also allows for mobile gambling, which would clearly take place by people off the reservation and on actual public land.  Gov. DeSantis claims that because the servers are on tribal land, there is no violation.  However, a similar case was heard in CA and it could hurt that very argument.  An online source explains:

They would also have to argue that statewide mobile betting, accessible to gamblers outside the Seminole reservations, does not constitute gambling expansion in the state because servers are located on Seminole land.

This potentially conflicts with a 2016 federal court ruling against the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel When, in 2014, the Nation launched an online bingo site in California on the grounds that bets were being processed on its territory, they were swiftly sued by the State of California and the federal government. Ultimately, the court ruled “a bet must be legal both where it is initiated and where it is received.”

It may never come to that. While the bill has the backing it needs in the Senate, support is less assured in the House, which has become a graveyard for gambling expansion bills in recent years.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


As Gambling Growth is Expected to Soar with this Year’s March Madness, Employers and Addicted Gamblers to Face Troubling Results

Casino Watch Focus has long reported on the Madness of March and the impact this massive gambling event has on communities everywhere.  Last year, there was no NCAA National Basketball Tournament due to an abundance of caution following the beginning of a global pandemic.  So with a year off and many eager gamblers, it’s no surprise that the estimate for total bet and the total amount gambling are so incredibly high. Fox Business breaks down the numbers:

March Madness, both the tournament and the betting frenzy surrounding it, will look different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and online betting.

March Madness could be the most wagered on sporting events of all time, according to research from PlayUSA, which projected that the tournament could generate as much as $1.5 billion in legal bets. Online betting is expected to ramp up this year as the traditional system of paper brackets filled out in the office no longer works with most people working from home. Increased legalization of online betting is also making a huge difference.

During the last March Madness tournament, which took place in 2019, sports betting was only approved in a handful of states. This year, more than 20 states allow placing a bet online. Roughly 50 million Americans are expected to place bets this year, according to theAmerican Gambling Association.

With nearly 50 million people expected to gamble on the Tournament this year, clearly a lot of problem gamblers will find themselves in the mix, and the results could be unsettling.  An online source explains:

This year’s March Madness is highly anticipated after 2020’s NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. According to ODDS.com, the American Gaming Association projects more than 47 million Americans will place bets on March Madness — so it’s no coincidence that Problem Gambling Awareness Month falls in March.

The effort makes sure “people who are engaged in gambling, whether it’s brackets or other forms of gambling, are also aware that gambling can be a problem for some, and it can actually turn into an addiction,” said Jeffrey Wasserman, judicial outreach and development director for the Delaware Council on Gambling Problems.

Gambling disorders often tend to worsen, he added. Relationships can deteriorate, jobs can be lost, people could turn to criminal behavior to pay off debts — a pursuit Wasserman knows too well. “I’m 65 years old. I probably gambled since I was 18,” Wasserman said. “And my gambling addiction really progressed over the years, making me just a different person, making me discard my values and my value system I raised my kids with. Gambling became the most important thing in life for me.  After more than 30 years as an attorney, Wasserman lost his career because of gambling. He was in a dark place.

He’s been in recovery for the last five years. He attributed part of his turnaround to his family, who recognized he had a problem. Now with the Delaware Council on Gambling Problems, he’s helping people like him.

Individuals aren’t the only ones who can suffer from this multi-week gambling event.  In terms of cost to employers, the Charlotte Observer points to a Chicago-based study which says as much as $1.7 billion will be lost by employers in productivity, which breaks down to $109 million lost for every 10 minutes spent following the tournament. They believe there will be over 37 million workers participating in pools with 1.5 million watching games and results online from their desks. ESPN recently quantify the financial impact of just the gambling:

On the low end, the FBI estimated in 2013 that $2.6 billion was bet illegally on the tournament. On the high end, veteran bookmakers estimate the number to be anywhere from $12 billion to $26 billion. Friendly bracket pools are everywhere, with most everyone betting on the NCAA tournament in some form. But there are bets, and then there are bets. You don’t get to $26 billion with $20-per-sheet office pools.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Massive State Online Gambling Expansion Proposed by Missouri House Legislator

Casino Watch Focus has reported on various methods of expanding gambling in Missouri.  Everything from new casinos, the recent efforts of online sports betting, to legalizing illegal slot machines operating outside of regulated casinos.  In Missouri, the constitution only allows for 13 casinos to operate. They are technically riverboats, but outside of the lottery or perhaps some fraternal bingo/charity type gambling events, everything operates through the casinos.  With the Supreme Court ruling that states can now offer online gambling, it’s no surprise Missouri legislators would be examining the possibility of expansion.  There are still state constitutional limits however, so proposed legislation must be tailored accordingly.  A new bill being introduced does look to casinos to handle online gambling, but is the expansion too great?  An online source examines the newly proposed legislation:  

For quite some time, Missouri  has been looking towards legalizing sports betting. Now, it seems that lawmakers are also looking at online casino and poker games. The Senate has been the driving force behind sports betting and now it is the House looking to add other online gambling options in the state. Representative Dan Houx introduced a new measure this week, HB 1364, which will allow for complete online gambling, in all verticals. This bill would actually replace the Senate measure instead of a separate initiative.

Poker is mentioned in the legislation, but only to classify it as well as sports betting as a game of skill. Operators in the state are allowed to offer games of chance and skill. For the sports betting portion, the measure is similar to SB 256, which is already introduced in the state. It also allows for up to three skins per license holder.

The bill allows for each of the 13 riverboat casinos in the state to have up to three skins. If everyone gets involved and all the skins are taken, the industry would be the largest in the US.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Florida Opens Legislative Session with Sports Gambling Bills, but Can They Pass?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to legalize sports betting in Florida.  Florida not only has championship caliber sports teams in the Buccaneers (2021 Super Bowl Champions), the Lightning (2020 Stanley Cup Champions) and Rays (2020 American League Champions), they also hosted the Super Bowl and were part of the NBA Bubble during the Covid-19 Lockdown.  So it’s no surprise that there are continual interests in legalizing sports betting in the Sunshine State.  The methods seem to change, but the results remain the same, no success. Last year’s legislative session saw attempts without success as well, and this year’s legislative session begins with renewed efforts and possibly some of the largest expanded sports gambling attempts yet.  An online source reports:

When the Florida State Legislature opens Tuesday morning, it will do so with sports wagering  as part of the docke

The latest trio of bills filed by Reps. Chip Lamarca and Anika Omphroy would allow for wagering a pro sports venues across Florida, including NFL stadiums (three), Major League Baseball parks (two), NHL arenas (two), NBA arenas (two), and Major League Soccer stadiums (four), sites that host PGA, LPGA, and PGA of America events, WNBA arenas, National Lacrosse League and Major League Lacrosse sites, and Indoor Football League venues. Besides that, sports betting would be available at tracks offering parimutuel betting (horse and dog), jai lai frontons and tribal casinos.

The legislation envisions in-person wagering at all mentioned sites, as well as statewide mobile wagering, though HB 1317 doesn’t specify how many skins each physical location would be entitled to. That said, if only one skin were allowed, Florida would still have more than 20 skins available, and that’s just counting digital platforms tethered to the pro venues identified in the bill.

The question remains however, will the key issues be addressed or will expanded gambling be held back?  The online source explains:

As lawmakers and the governor look to move forward and create hype about sports betting, the elephant in the room that no one seems to be addressing is Indian Country, which under its compacts has exclusivity for casino gaming. Tribal gaming dates to 1999 in Florida, when the Miccosukee Tribe opened its casino in suburban Miami. But the state’s biggest tribe is the Seminoles, who have six properties including two operated by Hard Rock.

For reasons unrelated to sports betting, the Seminoles in 2019 stopped paying the state $350 million a year from gaming revenue. At the time, the Seminoles claimed their gaming exclusivity was violated by banked card games that were allowed at the state’s racetracks and jai lai frontons. The current compact which was signed on April 7, 2010, allows the Seminoles to withhold payments if the compact is violated.

Before the Seminoles suspended payments in 2019, the tribe had reached a tentative agreement with Sen. Wilton Simpson that would have allowed sports betting at the Seminoles’ casino properties, as well as racetracks and jai alai frontons for an annual payment to the state of $700-$750 million. The deal ultimately collapsed. Then, last January, Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, filed HB 1195, a proposed compact, that would have granted the Seminoles exclusivity for online sports betting. While that bill proposed a more than two-fold step-up in annual payments to $750 million, the legislation never made it out of committee.

The hard truth for lawmakers is this: Until there is a compact, it’s highly unlikely that sports betting will gain a foothold in the legislature.

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IRS Issues new Federal Tax Requirements for Fantasy Sports impacting FanDuel and DraftKings beyond the economics of the tax revenue

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many ongoing issues with one of the newest gambling fads, daily fantasy sports (DFS) betting.  After many years of legislators realizing how exactly DFS is actually gambling, many took efforts to ban them.  Then, the Supreme Court legalized sports betting, opening the door for states to legalize DFS as they saw fit. Now, the IRS has published its guidelines for the tax liability companies like FanDuel and Draftkings face as a result of their gambling business.  Yahoo Finance reports:

he IRS, in a July 23 internal memo made public on Aug. 7, issued new guidance that amounts to a major shot across the bow at daily fantasy sports (DFS) operators DraftKings and FanDuel.

The memo, which does not name those companies, concludes that DFS contest entry fees count as wagers, and thus fall under the existing excise tax on sports betting. The tax is 0.25% of the amount of a wager, or for DFS companies, a contest entry fee. In 2018, as an example, the DFS industry brought in $3.2 billion in fees  (that’s “handle,” not revenue), which would have meant $8 million in IRS excise taxes—significant for an industry that only generated $335 million in revenue that year.

The implications of such regulation actually extend beyond the simple tax revenue that companies owe.  The money owed will add up sure, but it’s the fact that paying the fees means the industry is stipulating that they are, in fact, gambling operations.  Even though it’s rather clear they are, they have long fought this distinction.  Their worry here is that acknowledgement in the tax code to being a gambling business will open them up to other gambling regulations that they would rather avoid clearly.  Yahoo Finance explains:

The companies will surely fight the IRS decision in court, a scenario that will reunite the two business rivals that worked together through 2015 and 2016 as they fought various state attorneys general to argue that their contests are “games of skill” rather than chance.

The companies won’t challenge the IRS merely because they want to avoid paying the taxes, but also because they have to challenge it on a reputation basis: agreeing to pay the taxes could amount to a concession that they do accept unauthorized wagers, which could open up the companies to additional legal penalties.

Back in 2015, as ESPN reported a former assistant U.S. attorney sent the IRS a letter about his belief that DFS companies “are clearly engaged in betting or wagering for purposes of the wagering excise tax.” If the IRS prevails, it would cost the two companies tens of millions of dollars—especially if a tax court decides the decision applies retroactively.

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Florida Gambling Hotline Reveals Crisis Experienced by those During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing complexities of Covid-19’s impact to the gambling industry.  Beyond the obvious loss of revenue revenue and shut downs, coronavirus’ impact reaches problem gamblers as well. The current climate has created a perfect storm of issues that can drive people to gamble and with the accessibility of online gambling to many, the threat of devastation is very real.  A Florida gambling hotline is helping to make the general public aware of such issues.  An online source explains:

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reshape life as we had once known it, closures of traditional brick-and-mortar gambling facilities coupled with social distancing restrictions and requirements have resulted in dramatic shifts in gambling behaviors along with serious negative consequences as reported by contacts to Florida’s 888-ADMIT-IT Problem Gambling HelpLine in March and April.

According to Jennifer Kruse, Executive Director of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG), “Of particular concern with recent COVID-19 closures and quarantines, is the associated increase inproblem-gambling-related risk factors that occur as a result, such as loneliness, stress, anxiety, depression, and increased use or abuse of substances. The severity of problems reported by individuals contacting the FCCG’s 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine in March and April illustrate the increased occurrence of these associated risk factors and resulting, exacerbated problem-gambling-related impacts experienced during this time.”

During the pandemic, the economic consequences have hit the country hard, and as result of the government mandated business closures, economic stimulus checks have been sent out to help keep people on their feet.  This situation can be viewed as a windfall of money to some, which has prompted calls for gambling to be shut down during this time.  Many will view the stimulus check as a way to gamble and increase their financial situation.  This big win mentality can trigger many stressors that exacerbate the problems leading to troubling and fatal consequences .  The source continues:

Receiving a stimulus check may also be viewed as an unexpected “big win” for at-risk and problem or recovering gamblers. Money lost gambling can lead to financial difficulties, which can trigger associated stressors that interfere with relationships, mental, and even physical health. These experiences can leave problem gamblers and their loved ones feeling discouraged and hopeless about the future.

“When a problem gambler feels they have lost everything and sees no possibility to gain or recover, suicidal ideation and/or attempts are very real possibilities. This is unfortunately what we have seen with contacts to the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine in April, with more than one in five (21%), revealing current or recent suicidal feelings or thoughts due to their gambling problem,” explained Kruse. 

“The share of callers referred to Crisis Lines in April (23%), also rose significantly by more than double, with increased levels of hopelessness and desperation reported, due to gambling-related financial and mental health repercussions brought about by the COVID-19 crisis,” Kruse noted, as cause for additional concern.

Unfortunately, these are not isolated pockets of impact, but rather spread all over the state.  Access to online gambling and the lottery means that closed brick and mortar casinos don’t shield those around the state from gambling’s destructive impact.  Help is available and should be sought out.  The source concludes:

The data reported during the month of April by 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine contacts, reveals that help seekers this month were from areas all over the state and were primarily from those engaged in the forms of gambling activities still available during quarantine and social distancing restrictions, Online Gambling and the Lottery. This illustrates the effects that gambling addiction can have on any community in the state, and further highlights that those associated impacts will correlate with what gambling options are accessible or available in a particular area.

At a time of uncertainty while the whole world anxiously awaits the return to “normal life,” whatever that may be, reassurance for anyone negatively impacted by a gambling problem that resources are available and accessible through Florida’s 888-ADMIT-IT Problem Gambling HelpLine has never been more important. “Gambling addiction is treatable, and population-specific programs and services for gamblers and their loved ones are accessible any time of the day or night, any day of the year.

The FCCG’s 24-hour confidential and multilingual HelpLine may be reached by calling 888-ADMIT-IT (888-236-4848), texting (321) 978-0555, emailing fccg@gamblinghelp.org, initiating a live chat at gamblinghelp.org, or by reaching out to us on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter,” concluded Kruse.

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