Economics

Dragon Policy – China’s influence on gaming at home and abroad

China continues to exert its influence and powers around the globe in just about every aspect of social, economic and geopolitical dynamics. This includes not just what happens within the borders of China, but also the policies associated with its citizenry, either through travel and tourism to other parts of the globe or through its business influences as Chinese corporations establish a global presence in the same manner.

Gambling is seen as less than favorable in the eye of Xi Jinping, president of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. Xi maintains that gambling disrupts the social balance and harmony of the Chinese culture. This can be seen over the years in policy decisions to limit access to Macau, or Beijing’s policies toward other countries that may feature online gambling operations, an activity that is banned by the Chinese central government.

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Breaking Down the Adversarial Wall – Building the operator and regulator relationship through education and dialog

As the gaming industry continues to expand as a form of entertainment across the globe, operators and suppliers typically have three questions when they are looking at a brand-new jurisdiction or an expansion in an existing jurisdiction.  Those three questions are: what is the tax rate, what is the license fee, and who is the regulator?

On the flip side, legislators and regulators will seek input from prospective or existing operators as jurisdictions look to craft a new market, expand their market, or bring further innovation.  The balance between these interests can in some cases become awkward as operators look to effectively compete while also balancing the public policy goals of the market and allowing a strictly regulated market.

The crux of this is creating a healthy balance that allows effective regulation in the market, and not to be overly influenced by an operator or an outside stakeholder.  However, regulators must also allow ongoing, healthy dialogue and input into how a market needs to be crafted, how regulations may impede innovation, or how stakeholders can effectively operate in a market that allows the right amount of competition.

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Research Brief: State Legislative Update on U.S. Sports Betting & Online Gaming – June 2021

It has now been more than three years since the repeal of PASPA, with the New Jersey and Delaware markets reaching their three-year anniversary since launching sports betting operations.  It has also been three years of ups and down with the sports calendar and with sports betting revenue.  Revenue for the most part continues to climb, although it is difficult to find a stabilized year of data over the last twelve months due to the pandemic.  While is may be some time as the border wars continue, it will be critical to understand the full growth potential for this expansion opportunity in the gaming industry.

The industry continues to face the challenges of SARS-Cov-2, as seen most recently during the Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour.  Jon Rahm, who at the time was up by six strokes, had to withdraw from the tournament because of a positive test.  While the PGA let him finish the round and notify him in a bizarre 18th hole revelation, it remind the sports community that this pandemic is far from over, especially on a global scale.  Sportsbooks took the change in the marketing in different ways with some counting it as a withdrawal and returning wagers to players, while other took it as a win for Rahm who had a dominant lead.  This did lead to several conversation throughout the industry on how to deal with these and other incidents in the future, as well as the implications on responsible gaming and potential effects into the future.

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Research Brief: State Legislative Update on U.S. Land-Base Gaming – May 2021

The legislative cycle is coming toward the end of its run for 2021 with only a handful of states remaining that have policy implications other than those states that have full time legislatures. With most focus at this point on Louisiana (the last legislature to go into session this year) and Connecticut on sports betting, a number of land-based opportunities did not materialize into expansion. However, there are options that continue to be discussed across the country that prove that land-based gaming is still very much alive.

Almost every casino is back open in the United States following the Great Shutdown. In several cases, business is currently booming, as seen in the resurgence of the gaming industry that faced its greatest challenge that was imposed by government mandates. Nevada is a prime example of this as it just saw one of the best months it has ever had in generating gaming revenue, surpassing the $1 billion mark. Destinations such as the Las Vegas strip are seeing the return of the leisure customer that is excited to be back after over a year of closures. Part of this has been through the continued health and safety measures of the industry, vaccination efforts that began late in 2020, and the relaxation of draconian polices that were not always rooted in evidence-based research.

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Research Brief: State Legislative Update on U.S. Sports Betting & Online Gaming – April 2021

The more things change, the more they stay the same

A year after the start of the Great Shutdown, the gaming and sports worlds are returning. The NCAA Division I Men’s basketball tournament ran its course with no major problems. The Masters is in full bloom in Augusta, and MLB threw its first pitch at the start of this month. This is all occurring while fans are returning to games and events as stadium capacity increases.

Legislative sessions are also in full bloom, with most of these sessions hitting their stride as some deadlines have passed while others are fast approaching. Several states are trying to get sports betting across the finish line before their session expires. Many of these are running into challenges, not just from a timing standpoint but also due to the legislative process. As seen in Georgia, sports betting died because of the voter law and the difference between parties. This is just one example of how legislation can either be changed dramatically, get killed, or die under its own death through the sheer weight of the process of legislation. While the issues may change over time, the same factors can make or break the process and cause well-intentioned groups and caucuses come apart because of other issues.

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Research Brief: State Legislative Update on U.S. Sports Betting & Online Gaming – March 2021

March Madness is Upon Us

For the first time in two years, sports fans will be able to wager on the NCAA Division I Men’s basketball tournament.  While the tournament went dark last year because of the Great Shutdown, legal sports betting has expanded significantly across the country since last March.  However, this does not preclude though the office pools that will still take place, especially in jurisdictions that still do not have legal sports wagering.  The NCAA tournament is one of the largest wagering opportunities in the year, in addition to the Super Bowl that took place just over one month ago.

One of the challenges that will be faced those in legal states is the ability to wager on the ‘home team’, as several of these states have banned wagers placed on local teams and contests including college sports taking place in that jurisdiction.  States across the country are looking to provide these same athletes with the ability to profit from their name, image, and likeness (“NIL”) but provide them “cover” when it comes to wagers being placed legal on them.  However, keeping student-athletes off the legal books only allows an illegal market to continue, exposing these athletes to more harms than protections.  For the integrity of the tournament and student-athletes, the best place for any sports wager is in the legal market without restrictions.

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The Return of the Roaring ’20s: As the world recovers from Covid-19, the stage is set for a comeback; will Vegas lead the charge?

The 100-year anniversary of the roaring ’20s is upon us as the world finally begins to look toward new beginnings in a post-pandemic world.  Many have pointed out that the Spanish flu (which preceded the Roaring ’20s) is analogous to Covid-19, presenting a similar potential opportunity for the world to emerge from a pandemic with a new era of historic economic prosperity, which would include a boon to the hospitality, F&B and tourism sectors.

As eager as the world may be to return to “normal” life, it is vitally important that safety and health practices do not give way to pent-up demand and impatience.  Luckily, customers see a light at the end of the tunnel with vaccines being distributed and certain destinations gradually lifting restrictions.  While reintroducing global travel and entertainment will take time, deestination markets around the world will look to regain their share of the soon-to-be-rejuvenated global tourism market.

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Windy City Gaming: Chicago will finally plant its flag for a casino development

Casinos in urban environments, not always the norm, have offered challenges in certain jurisdictions.

Major markets such as Philadelphia have had casinos near downtown for years. Pittsburgh and Detroit also feature casino gaming in downtown settings. The Washington, D.C. market, with MGM National Harbor, has also made an impact. But in recent years, more developers have embraced urban environments to meld properties into the fabric of the greater communities they serve. Two of the more recent examples were in Massachusetts, with MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor.

Some of the greatest opportunities for gaming expansion in the United States remain in urban settings. For years, New York, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas and Houston have been seen as potential expansion sites. But the most immediate opportunity exists in Chicago, which will locate a gaming development within the city itself.

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Research Brief: State Legislative Update on U.S. Sports Betting & Online Gaming February 2021

The buzz from this year’s Super Bowl continues to catch fire with the legal sports betting market as it continues to expand across the country. Almost every media outlet has talked about not only the matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs (or Brady vs. Mahomes), but also a story about wagering, handle, the line, and some of the major brand names across the states that are conducting legal sports betting. This has been the case for several years, but sports betting has become much more mainstream.

This year’s Super Bowl did not offer the match up that everyone had expected between two premier teams featuring what many viewed as the ‘GOAT’ vs. the rising star “Kid.” Tampa Bay’s dominance in all facets of the game threw many sportsbooks off that had the line hovering around three to four points leading up to kickoff. The American Gaming Association prior to the game estimated that $4.3 Billion would be wagered.

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Research Brief: U.S. Court of Appeals First Circuit Wire Act Ruling

While most of the attention in the United States was focused on the Inauguration on January 20, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit released its ruling on a case between the New Hampshire Lottery Commission and Neopollard, a lottery vendor, against the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) regarding the Interstate Wire Act of 1961. The suit was brought by New Hampshire in response to the memorandum issued by the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (“OLC”) on November 2, 2018 (the “2018 Memo”), which stated that the Wire Act applied to all forms of gaming and not just sports betting. The 2018 Memo reversed a previous interpretation of the original Wire Act issued in 2011 (the “2011 Memo”).

The 49-page ruling confirmed the district court’s ruling that the Wire Act only applies to a “sporting event or contest.” In light of today’s other activities, which largely surrounded the onboarding of a new administration that will push to reinstitute many Obama Era policies, this further accentuates the problems with the 2018 Memo and the stance issued by the Department of Justice in 2018.

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