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State of the Union: IL, NJ, FL, WV and more


This week’s State of the Union, in partnership with Segev LLP, covers developments in Illinois, New Jersey, West Virginia, Florida and more.

Illinois Gaming Board launches sports betting consultation
The Illinois Gaming Board has launched a public consultation to gain input from the public, the gambling industry and other stakeholders about proposed sports wagering regulations in the state.

The consultation began yesterday (27 August) and will run to 27 September, and comes as work begins on developing a regulatory framework for sports betting in the state.

In June, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law the gaming expansion bill passed by the state legislature. While neighbouring Iowa – whose governor signed a sports betting bill into law in May – has already taken its first legal bets and with Indiana soon to follow, Illinois still needs to map out specific regulations for the vertical.

It therefore remains unclear when the state’s betting market will actually open for business.

Illinois Gaming Board administrator Marcus Fruchter described the consultation as an important step in building that framework and moving towards opening the market.

NJ Senate passes bill allowing Golden Nugget to take NBA bets
The New Jersey state Senate has passed a bill that would allow casinos that share owners with a professional sports team to accept bets on the leagues in which those teams participate.

The bill now only needs the signature of governor Phil Murphy to become law.

The current prohibition has prevented Golden Nugget Atlantic City from offering bets on the National Basketball Association. Tilman Fertitta, owner of the venue’s parent company Landry’s, also owns the Houston Rockets NBA franchise.

This also affected Golden Nugget’s sub-licensees, currently only Churchill Downs’ BetAmerica sportsbook. Rush Street Interactive previously ran a sportsbook under Golden Nugget’s license, but switched to Monmouth Park last year.

Mobile wagering returns to WV with FanDuel app launch
FanDuel Group has announced the launch of its West Virignia sportsbook app, marking the return of mobile wagering to the state.

The app launched via the Flutter Entertainment-owned operator’s licensing partnership with The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, the resort owned by West Virginia Governor Jim Justice.

Mobile betting in in West Virginia has had a difficult start. DraftKings carried out testing of an app in May with a view to rolling it out to consumers soon after. However, while testing of the system was successful, the regulator ultimately delayed the launch, over concerns relating to the physical location of the servers, which may have resulted in the offering failing to comply with the federal Wire Act.

bet365 begins final testing ahead of full NJ launch
bet365 is closing in on a full roll out of its New Jersey sportsbook, after beginning a regulator-controlled soft launch of the product on 22 August.

Should the soft launch go without a hitch and the operator secures approval from the state Division of Gaming Enforcement for a full roll out, it will become the second skin to launch under Hard Rock Atlantic City’s operating license.

Hard Rock has already launched a Gaming Innovation Group-powered offering under its own brand, while Unibet will be its third and final skin, with an offering expected to launch soon.

Florida Lottery set to renew SG instant ticket contract
The Florida Lottery has given notice of its intention to renew Scientific Games’ contract to serve as its primary supplier of instant win games, continuing a relationship that began in 2008.

It comes as the existing contract between Scientific Games and the lottery nears its end, on 30 September, with the solutions giant understood to have fended off competition from two rival bidders.

The contract covers the provision of tickets and printing services, as well as ticket vending and dispensing machines.

Delaware sports betting revenue grows despite dip in handle
Delaware’s regulated sports betting market has reported revenue of $507,410 for the month of July, with lower customer winnings offsetting a decline in amounts wagered.

Total handle for the month ended 28 July 2019 amounted to $3.9m, a 38.0% decline on the $6.3m staked in June, and less than half the $8.2m wagered over the month ended 29 July, 2018.

However with less staked, customer winnings also fell, to $3.3m, or 85.2% of amounts wagered, compared to a 91.6% win percentage in June.

DraftKings given go-ahead for Iowa betting debut
DraftKings is to enter the newly regulated Iowa market through a partnership with Wild Rose Entertainment, which operates three casinos in the state.

DraftKings and Wild Rose received approval yesterday (22 August) from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission after submitting applications and documentation to move forward with their partnership agreement to operate sportsbooks at properties in Clinton, Emmetsburg and Jefferson.

Wild Rose said it chose to name DraftKings as its first retail and mobile sports betting partner after evaluating the US market since Iowa’s new sports betting law was enacted in May. The move comes just over a week after the first legal bets were taken in the state, which has just over three million inhabitants.

WatchAndWager renews Cal Expo license
Webis Holdings’ advanced deposit wagering (ADW) business WatchandWager has renewed its license with the California Horse Racing Board to conduct harness racing at the Cal Expo racetrack in Sacramento.

The licence runs from the start of the 2019-20 harness racing season on 9 November until the 47-race season ends on 25 April, 2020.

The company – which has operated Cal Expo, California’s only harness racetrack, since 2012 – also noted that it is in advanced negotiations with Cal Expo to secure a significant extension of the contract to operate racing at the track.

SportsHub hit with penalty for unlawful NJ fantasy offering
SportsHub Games Network has become the first online fantasy sports business to be hit with a civil penalty for operating in New Jersey without a license.

The operator will pay a $30,000 civil penalty under the New Jersey Fantasy Sports Act (FSA), a 2017 statute that legalized and regulated online fantasy gaming in the state. 

The statute came into effect from August 2017, with fantasy sports operators already active in the state given until 6 February 2018 to apply for a permit or cease all activities in New Jersey.