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State of the Union: CA, LA, NJ and more

Insight | Analysis

This week’s State of the Union, in partnership with Segev LLP, includes the latest updates on bills to put sports betting to voters in both California and Louisiana, as well as revenue figures from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Indiana, which continue to be heavily affected by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Future of CA betting bill in question as hearing delayed

California residents will have to wait further for an update on the status of legal sports betting in the state, as the latest hearing on bill SCA 6 has been pushed back to June 23.

SCA 6 – proposed by Bill Dodd – sets out plans to allow for a statewide referendum on the sports betting, which would have to be backed by two-thirds of voters before it could come into law.

The bill was approved by the California Senate Committee on Government Organization on 3 June, but on 9 June, it was placed on the California legislature’s suspense file as it had a fiscal impact of more than $50,000.

Louisiana Governor signs off on sports betting referendum bill

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has signed into a law a bill to arrange a parish-by-parish referendum on whether to legalise sports betting in the state.

Introduced by Senator J Cameron Henry, SB130 allows parishes across the state to hold referendums as to whether sports betting should be permitted in each jurisdiction.

The proposition will appear on the ballot of the 3 November election, after which Louisiana lawmakers and the Gaming Control Board would set out rules for licensing, regulation and taxes in 2021.

Covid-19 closures continue to hit NJ revenue in May

Enforced casino closures and the suspension of sporting events due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic led to a further year-on-year drop in gambling revenue in the state of New Jersey during May.

Total gaming revenue for the month amounted to $95.9m, down by 65.4% from $276.8m in May 2019, but up 15.7% from $82.9m in April this year.

All brick-and-mortar casinos and sportsbooks remain temporarily closed in New Jersey, in line with state orders to combat the spread of Covid-19. New Jersey has been one of the hardest-hit states in the US, reporting 169,441 positive cases and 12,733 related deaths, at the time of writing.

PA igaming revenue growth continues into May

Pennsylvania’s online gaming revenue has once again grown strongly month-over-month, while sports betting revenue has significantly increased from April 2020.

With no land-based casino gaming, however, revenue was significantly down year-on-year, falling 79.0% to $61.0m. Igaming accounted for $55.8m of the total, up 29.7% month-on-month. With the vertical going live in July 2019, there are not yet any prior year figures to compare it with.

Figures from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) reveal that this broke down to $12.4m from table games, up 18.4% from April, with the vast majority – $38.8m – coming from online slots.

FanDuel adds NFL data with Sportradar extension

FanDuel Group has agreed to extend its partnership with sports data and content provider Sportradar, in a deal that will allow the sports betting and daily fantasy sports operator to access official National Football League (NFL) league data.

The expanded arrangement means that FanDuel now has access to all major US sports data from Sportradar.

FanDuel and Sportradar have been working together for a number of years, with Sportradar supporting the betting operator with live streams of sporting events on its sportsbook mobile app.

GAN sees revenue and profit decline in first quarter

GAN has reported a year-on-year drop in revenue and profit for the first quarter, primarily due to the impact of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on the gambling software business.

Revenue for the three months to 31 March totalled $7.7m, down 19.8% from €9.6m in the corresponding period last year.

GAN noted that the previous year’s figure included $4.9m in other revenue as a result of both hardware sales and the licensing of GAN’s strategic US patent. It said these exceptional items in Q1 2019 contributed to the year-over-year decline.

XLMedia poaches Rakuten’s Dorward for North America role

Affiliate marketing services provider XLMedia has announced the appointment of Ken Dorward, formerly of Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, as its new president North America.

Dorward, who will also join the XLMedia global executive committee, will focus on exploiting opportunities within the personal finance and sports markets in the US and Canada.

This will include building new strategic partnerships and also both acquiring and developing content-rich and engaging websites.

FanDuel & Denver Broncos announce multi-year partnership

FanDuel Group announced a multi-year partnership with the Denver Broncos, becoming an official sports betting and daily fantasy partner of the National Football League (NFL) team.

This is the first sports betting partnership announced for an NFL team since the league allowed teams to sign up sports betting partners this year. Other operators have struck partnerships with teams in the league, though these only covered casino products.

FanDuel will gain access to official Broncos trademarks and logos, to use across its sports betting and daily fantasy offerings in Colorado.

Major leagues throw weight behind Canadian betting push

A coalition of major North American sports leagues have publicly expressed their support for single-event sports betting in Canada.

In a joint statement published by the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA), the National Basketball Association (NBA); National Hockey League (NHL); Major League Soccer (MLS); Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Canadian Football League (CFL) hailed efforts to allow legal betting.

“Sports betting gives fans another exciting way to engage with the sports they love,” the leagues said. “Because a legal and regulated sports betting market in Canada would be beneficial to sports and their fans, we urge prompt action to make this a reality.

DraftKings aims to raise $567m from US public offering

Sports betting and daily fantasy sports operator DraftKings has announced plans to launch a public offering of new shares in the US, with the aim of raising $567m.

The offering will include 14m shares of new Class A common stock, with existing shareholders to sell a further further 19m of shares.

The selling stockholders may also grant the underwriters a 30-day option to buy up to an additional 4.95m shares of Class A common stock.

Delaware igaming revenue hits new high in May

The Delaware Lottery was announced that online gaming revenue in the state’s regulated market reached $1.1m in May, its highest total for 2020 to date.

The monthly figure represented a 261.8% year-on-year increase on the $313,648 generated in May of last year, as well as a rise from $856,182 in April this year.

Video lottery games remained the main source of income for the state’s three igaming licensees, with revenue amounting to $798,817. Table game revenue totalled $242,109, while poker rake and fees stood at $93,973 for the month.

BCLC and theScore back Canadian single-event betting push

Canadian provincial lottery operator the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) and media business theScore have both declared their support for single-event sports betting in the country.

Canada’s Criminal Code, under paragraph 207(4)(b), currently only permits bets on at least three games or more, meaning that a wager on a single match or event is illegal.

However, Conservative Member of Parliament Kevin Waugh aims to change this with C-218, also known as the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, which had its first reading in the House of Commons in February. The bill looks to repeal paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code to permit single-event betting.

Illinois Gaming Board issues reopening guidelines

The Illinois Gaming Board has announced its guidelines for reopening following closures caused by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, with casinos to operate at 50% capacity and poker rooms staying closed.

Both casinos and video gaming terminal operators may return to activity when Illinois enters Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan, which can happen on 26 June at the earliest. All land-based gaming facilities have been shuttered since March 16.

Indiana sportsbook market returns to growth in May

Sportsbook stakes in Indiana rose 41.9% month-on-month in May, as players shifted to betting on sports beyond the US major leagues.

The latest figures from the Indiana Gaming Commission reveal amounts wagered rose to $37.0m, of which $30.5m was wagered on sports outside football, basketball and baseball. While the regulator did not break down this figure any further, it suggests bettors have shifted to sports such as soccer or table tennis and mixed martial arts, which proved popular in Oregon in May.

Gtech denied sovereign immunity protection in Texas

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled against Gtech, the gaming services and solutions provider now part of International Game Technology (IGT), in a case over legal immunity claims in the state.

The case related to consolidated lawsuits brought by thousands of purchasers of the ‘Fun 5’ tic-tac-toe game, which Gtech printed and produced for the Texas Lottery Commission under an existing contract.

Betfred agrees Broncos partnership

National Football League franchise the Denver Broncos has announced in its second sports betting deal in as many days, with Betfred US becoming its latest official partner.

This will see the operator open a sports betting lounge near the Broncos’ Mile High Stadium.

Futbol Sites Network secures investment from Stars Group veterans

Digital sports media group Futbol Sites Network Group (FSN) has joined forces with highly experienced gaming executives Jordan Gnat, Robin Chhabra and Andy Clerkson, in a bid to expand the network’s global reach.

The group owns and operates more than ten sports websites, aimed at sports fans in Latin America, and in Hispanic communities across the USA.

OK tribe strikes social and sports deal with Betconstruct

The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, has launched a new social casino product powered by Betconstruct, with the deal also allowing for the supplier to provide sports betting technology to the tribe’s non-profit igaming solutions arm GreySnow Group.

The social platform is integrated with the tribe’s land-based loyalty program, allowing it to engage and retain players when they are off-property. The Iowa tribe currently operates two land-based casinos, Cimmaron Casino and Ioway Casino, as well as a travel plaza with slot machines, in the state.

Eldorado extends lease with Gaming and Leisure Properties

Eldorado Resorts and Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLPI), from which Eldorado leases its Tropicana-branded properties and Belle of Baton Rouge venue in Louisiana, have agreed to extend their lease agreement and freeze rent on these properties for 2020 and 2021.

The lease – for Tropicana Evansville in Indiana, Tropicana Atlantic City in New Jersey, Tropicana Greenville in Mississippi and Tropicana Laughlin in Nevada – has been extended to 20 years, ending on 30 September, 2038, plus a renewal option for a further 20 years.

Intralot appoints Boothe as permanent US chief

Greek gaming and lotteries giant Intralot has appointed Byron Boothe as permanent chief executive of its US subsidiary.

Boothe will continue overseeing day-to-day leadership of the Intralot Inc. business, having served as interim chief executive of the subsidiary since 2019.

BCLC names Savoie as new compliance chief

Canadian provincial lottery operator the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) has appointed Marie-Noëlle Savoie as its new chief compliance officer.

Savoie, who will also serve as vice president of legal, compliance and security, is set to begin her new role on June 29 and will be based at the BCLC office in Vancouver.

CDI to reopen five more US casino properties

Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) has announced that it is to reopen five more of its casinos across Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Casinos will begin to resume activities from today (June 12), with CDI to stagger the reopenings across the next seven days, after all of the locations were forced to temporarily close due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Boyd Gaming to reopen casinos in Indiana and Ohio

Boyd Gaming has announced plans to reopen 3 casinos in Indiana and Ohio, bringing its total number of properties back in operation to 24 out of 29 across the US.

On Monday June 15, the company plans to resume operations at its two properties in Indiana; Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa in Michigan City, and Belterra Casino Resort in Florence.