Government Law & Policies

Bouncing POGOS

Online gaming has been on the radar of mainland Chinese authorities over the last six months, as they seek to stop online operations in Asia. They are particularly focused on online gaming markets in Cambodia and the Philippines, which are suspected of targeting Chinese nationals.

In response to several compliance issues and concerns raised by Beijing, Cambodia has effectively shut down its online gaming operations. However, the Philippines and President Rodrigo Duterte, even after meeting with the Chinese President Xi Jinping, decided to keep its online gaming operations open. The market is thriving throughout the Philippines and looks to continue to grow under the regulatory structure of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR).

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Rising Sun: Japan begins to enter the homestretch in 2020

Like the cherry blossoms in the spring in Japan, integrated resort developments will begin to emerge into full bloom starting in January 2020. The coming year will see significant progress at the central government level that will then launch the RFP process at the prefecture level.

If the level of activity in the second half of 2019 is any indication, 2020 will prove to be a very robust year. However, there is still a lot of work to do before Japan awards up to three of the coveted IR licenses established through the IR Promotion and IR Implementation Acts.

Since the market began to emerge some 20 years ago, Japan appears to be in the homestretch for the initial round of development of integrated resorts. The movements not only by operators but also by interested prefectures will continue to evolve in the coming weeks and months.

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Research Brief: Japan IR Timeline Update

Late last month, many stakeholders following the Japan Integrated Resort process believed they were thrown a curve ball, following reports stating that the process would be delayed by a year without the appointment of the Casino Management Commission and other cabinet and ministerial positions. However, the delay will likely not be as long as initially thought but would only be a minor delay in the marathon for integrated resorts in Japan.

First and foremost, this process is still in its infancy. While stalwarts of the process have been trying to get legislation passed for over twenty years, the race continues to move at a moderate pace as the government begins its official process to form the Commission and the 300-plus items that still need to be officially decided. It was thought that the Commission would likely be appointed before the end of the current regular session of the Diet. However, this part of the process has been delayed because of the upcoming elections that have been planned for the Upper House of the Diet. While it has not been confirmed that a double election would occur in July 2019, there is also the potential that a snap election in the Lower House could be held at the same time.

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Research Brief: Wire Act New Hampshire Case Ruling

On the afternoon of June 4th, a ruling was issued by United States District Judge Paul Barbadoro in the 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, reversing a previous opinion issued in 2011 (the “2011 Memo”). The 60-page ruling in the New Hampshire case confirmed the 2011 Memo, stating that the Wire Act applies only to sports betting and setting aside the 2018 Memo. The result in the New Hampshire case represents a shot across the bow of the authors of the 2018 Memo and others, in the DOJ and elsewhere, who have pushed this agenda for the last several years.

The case was one that many throughout the gaming and lottery industries had been watching since the 2018 Memo was released earlier this year. After the 2018 Memo was released, the DOJ offered a 90-day window before enforcement of the Memo would go into effect, which meant that enforcement should have commenced on April 15, 2019. The DOJ extended that deadline another 60 days earlier this spring, pushing the end of the non-prosecution period to June 14, 2019.

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Macau: The Future Beyond the VIP

Fifteen years ago, on May 18, 2004, Las Vegas Sands Corp. opened Sands Macao and changed the course of casino gaming in the region.

Macau was once considered a secondary gaming market that catered to a small base of customers from Hong Kong and Guangdong, China. However, Sands Macao and subsequent entrants demonstrated that by providing high-quality gaming, dining and lodging environments, markets will respond.

In the case of Macau, markets responded enthusiastically. In 2005, the city’s casinos generated $5.9 billion in gaming revenue, and by 2018, the industry had generated $37.9 billion.

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Research Brief: Education on Sports Betting

Since the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”) by the U.S. Supreme Court, seven states have legalized and launched sports betting. These states include Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and New Mexico, in addition to Nevada which has been operating legally for decades. Each state has tailored their own sports betting regulations to meet their unique market dynamics. While some states have not instituted the most ideal tax rates or structures, these states are adding a new revenue source to their existing gaming and lottery product.

Nearly 30 states have introduced sports betting related language as of the writing of this brief, and others are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks and months as they look either to pass legislation or to study the opportunity that sports betting could provide to their state. Many of these states have already started to hold hearings or are continuing the debate from last year. As these states continue these conversations, they should take two things into consideration. The first is that integrity, first and foremost, is upheld in the legislation and regulations that are established for sports betting. It is never in a fee or royalty that is paid to anyone that is not taking the risk of operating a sports book. Second, there should be no rush to enter the market, as first-to-market status has already been achieved. At this point, it should be about taking the time to get things right by creating a robust, competitive market in a strict regulatory environment.

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Sports Betting Across America: A 2019 Legislative Preview

As 2019 begins, states across the country are looking at their legislative agendas. Every state’s legislature will meet in 2019 and there will be several issues that will be discussed,some of which will revolve around gaming and lottery. One thing that will likely be discussed in every state is the potential for sports betting. This is an important opportunity for state lotteries to expand their portfolio of games and connect with the next generation of players.

Many states are assessing the expansion opportunities for the lottery. This may include the use of video lottery terminals, iLottery, or other forms to sell their existing products through the internet, kiosks, or other means. The potential for sports betting to enhance funding for good causes is another option that many Lottery Directors across the country are hoping their state legislators are considering. Commercial casino and online gaming operators also recognize the economic potential of sports betting, and are lobbying state legislators to implement a license-and-regulate model that would enable them to offer sports betting.

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Lessons from the Casino Industry

The casino gaming industry has long been perceived as a competitor to state lotteries. While it can be argued that the country’s adult population has a limited budget for all kinds of wagering, lotteries and casinos have, in fact, long operated in harmony. Casino expansion across the United States has not impeded growth of lotteries and lotteries did not affect the growth of casino gaming. The reality is that lotteries and casinos do not so much compete as share gamers. People buy scratch cards and draw tickets from budgets that are exclusive of casino gaming budgets. This is most evident during periodic events of lottery frenzy, when mega-jackpots attract widespread consumer and media interest. In those states that offer both casino gaming and lotteries, casino gambling does not decline during mega-jackpot events.

Both industries have grown but for different reasons. State and provincial lotteries continue to introduce new games and improve merchandising at the point of purchase. Lotteries also continue to expand their channels of distribution, signing up new retailers, and increasing the number of vending machine locations. Casino operators also continue to introduce new games, primarily electronic, and enhance their gaming environments. They also employ a variety of marketing strategies that are mostly unavailable to, or have never been considered by, state lotteries. Nonetheless, there are valuable lessons that lottery operators can learn from the casino gaming industry – in particular, customer engagement and customer relationship management.

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