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State of the Union: MGM, Wire Act, Michigan and more

Insight | Analysis

This week’s State of the Union, in partnership with Segev LLP, includes MGM’s decision not to submit a bid for European igaming operator Entain, as well as the latest results from Pennsylvania and the First Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to reject the Department of Justice’s 2018 Wire Act interpretation.

MGM Resorts decides against new Entain bid

MGM Resorts International has announced that it will not submit a firm offer to acquire its BetMGM joint venture partner Entain.

The US casino giant said that after careful consideration and reflection, it will not follow its initial proposal with a revised bid, or make a firm offer.

Under the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers, it had until 1 February to submit a new bid.

First Circuit Court rejects DOJ Wire Act appeal

The First District Court of Appeals has ruled that the 1961 Wire Act applies only to sports events, rejecting the Department of Justice’s contention that it also prohibits other forms of inter-state gambling.

The case concerned a letter from the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), titled “Reconsidering Whether the Wire Act Applies to Non-Sports Gambling”.

The letter examined the Interstate Wire Act of 1961, which states that using “a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest” is illegal.

Michigan sets January 22 launch date for online betting and gaming

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) has approved eight operators to launch both online betting and gaming – and a ninth permission to launch online wagering alone – from Friday (January 22).

Richard S. Kalm, executive director of the MGCB, said that with significant consumer demand, he expected the state to post high revenue figures and generate significant returns through taxation from the long-awaited launch.

“The Michigan Gaming Control Board and the state’s commercial and tribal casinos will begin a new era January 22 with the launch of regulated online gaming and sports betting,” Kalm said.

PA sports betting and igaming revenue records tumble again in December

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has again reported new record monthly revenue totals for sports betting and online gambling in December, though the US state saw further declines in its land-based casino market.

Total revenue from gambling in the state for December fell 42.2% year-on-year to $168.7m, while this figure was also 40.5% lower than the $283.3m recorded in November of last year.

NJ DGE rebukes operators for incentivizing reverse withdrawals

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has issued a warning to its online licensees, after a review found a number were offering bonuses to players that reversed withdrawals.

The regulator said it received a number of complaints from customers whose withdrawals were taking up to two weeks to be returned.

New Mexico bill would permit online betting, table games

Two New Mexico legislators have pre-filed a bill that would permit sports betting – both retail and online – and table games at the state’s racetracks.

HB101, introduced by Representatives Raymundo Lara and Phelps Anderson, would allow sports betting licensees to offer betting through three different mobile skins.

Mississippi to revisit online sports betting in new bill

Lawmakers in Mississippi are to consider a new bill that seeks to legalize online sports betting in the US state.

Introduced by Senator Scott DeLane, Senate Bill 2396 sets out plans to amend existing laws in the state and permit wagering online and via mobile.

AGA signs PGA Tour to responsible gambling campaign

Golf’s PGA Tour has signed up to support the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) ‘Have A Game Plan’ public service initiative to promote responsible gambling in the US.

Under the arrangement, the Tour and AGA will develop content encouraging golf fans to bet responsibly.

888 extends WSOP agreement with Caesars Interactive

888 Holdings has agreed to a multi-year extension of its exclusive B2B poker partnership with Caesars Interactive Entertainment, in a deal which sees 888 continue to power the World Series of Poker (WSOP)-branded online poker offering.

Caesars will continue to utilize 888’s turnkey poker platform and services in the US, for its mobile and desktop versions of the WSOP online poker rooms.

Michigan approves Pointsbet for online betting launch

The Michigan Gaming Control Board has approved the Lac Vieux Desert tribe and its platform provider, PointsBet, to launch online sports betting tomorrow (Friday, January 22) at noon.

The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians operates a casino in Watersmeet in the Upper Penninsula, and was the tenth operator to receive approval to launch online sports betting this week.

Virginia subcommittee approves casino betting license amendment

The Virginia House Subcommittee on Gaming has approved an amendment, HB1847, that means the state’s proposed land-based casinos would not count against the limit on sports betting licensees in the state.

Virginia legalized sports betting in April 2020, after state lawmakers amended a bill to factor in changes requested by Governor Ralph Northam. The market is expected to open soon, with a series of affiliates, payment providers and data suppliers also receiving authorisation last week.

Genius to form new holding company for NYSE listing

Genius Sports Group will form a new holding company, Galileo NewCo, for the proposed business combination with dMY Technology Group II that will see the data supplier go public with a $1.5bn valuation.

Genius is set to merge with dMY II, a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in order to go public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), having announced the transcation in October 2020. The deal has already been approved by both boards, but still requires dMY shareholder approval.

Virginia Lottery awards 26 sports betting vendor licenses

The Virginia Lottery has issued 26 sports betting vendor licenses to affiliates, payment providers and data suppliers ahead of the launch of the state’s regulated sports wagering market.

Better Collective, Facebook, MediaTroopers, PayPal, Paysafecard, Simple Bet, Skrill, Sportradar and The Action Network were among the successful applicants approved for licenses.

AZ Governor eyes sports betting in “modernized” gaming compact

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has called on legislators in the US state to pursue a new “modernized” tribal gaming compact, outlining how this could open the door to legalized sports betting and fantasy sports.

Speaking in his State of the State address, Ducey said he would be holding talks with legislators about the possibility of established a new gaming compact.

Jason Ader launches new SPAC targeting gaming acquisitions

26 Capital Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) founded by activist investor Jason Ader, will list on the Nasdaq today (15 January) following an initial public offering.

The company intends to purchase a privately held gaming, branded consumer, hospitality or e-commerce business, following an IPO to sell 24m units at $10.00 apiece.

Georgia legislature to consider new mobile sports betting bill

Georgia’s House of Representatives is to run the rule over a new bill that aims to legalize mobile sports betting in the state.

Sponsored by six Representatives, House Bill 86 seeks to amend Chapter 27 of Title 50 of the Official Code of Georgia by adding a section on sports betting.

Hard Rock acquires The Ritz Club’s casino licence in London

Hard Rock International is to open a new casino in London after it acquired the premises licence from The Ritz Club in the English capital.

The casino operator did not disclose further details of where the facility would be located. It did state the licence would allow it to seek out a location to establish a new venue in the English capital. goes live in Colorado

Lottery broker and information portal has launched its online and mobile lottery offering in the US state of Colorado.

Consumers in Colorado will now be able to play lottery games online and on a mobile device, including popular titles such as Mega Millions and Powerball.

Indiana lawmakers launch push for legal igaming

Indiana gamblers may soon have access to online casino games, after Representative Alan Morrison filed a proposal to regulate the vertical.

Morrison’s House Bill 1406 would legalize all forms of online casino gambling, with master licenses available to the state’s land-based casinos.

CT legislators submit betting and igaming bill

A group of Connecticut legislators have put forward a proposal to legalise betting and igaming in the state, following Governor Ned Lamont’s support for legalisation.

The bill – Senate Bill 146 or “An Act Authorizing Sports Wagering, Internet Gaming, Internet Lottery And Internet Keno” – was sponsored by 17 legislators across both major parties and both houses of the legislature.

GAN pens first Coolbet sportsbook deal in Virginia

iGaming solutions provider GAN has secured the first deal for its new Coolbet sportsbook after signing Letter of Intent (LoI) with an existing client in Virginia.

GAN did not disclose the identity of the customer, but did confirm the LoI covers the provision of an online, mobile-first sports betting experience in the US state.

DC Lottery betting handle growth fails to halt revenue decline in December

The DC Lottery reported a drop in sports betting revenue in December, despite an increase in its handle, while William Hill’s sportsbook at Washington DC’s Capital One Arena also experienced a month-on-month decline.

Players bet a total of $4.3m via the Gambet app last month, an increase of 10.3% on the $3.9m that was wagered during November 2020.

Playtika finalizes pricing for initial public offering

Social gaming giant Playtika has confirmed that its initial public offering (IPO) will see 69,500,000 shares sold to the public at a price of $27.00 per share, which could generate total proceeds of $1.88bn.

The $27.00 per share price exceeds the expected range of between $22.00 and $24.00 set out in its registration statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

AGEM names David Lucchese as new president

Gaming technology supplier Everi has announced that its executive vice president of sales, marketing and digital, David Lucchese, has been appointed president of the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM) as of January 12, 2021.

AGEM is a non-profit international trade association representing manufacturers and suppliers of electronic gaming devices, lotteries, systems, table games, key components and support products and services for the gaming industry.

PlayUp sponsors NHL’s New Jersey Devils

Australian daily fantasy and sports betting operator PlayUp has secured an agreement with the National Hockey League (NHL)’s New Jersey Devils, which becomes the operator’s first US professional sports team partner.

The deal sees PlayUp become the presenting partner of the Devils’ newly redesigned PlayUp Studio, the team’s Season Preview Show and the Pre-Game Live Show that broadcasts prior to all Devils home games.

Bragg adds former OLG chair to board to guide Canada strategy

Igaming content supplier Bragg Gaming Group has appointed Paul Godfrey, a former politician and previously chairman of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), to its board of directors.

Godfrey joins the Bragg board immediately and will be responsible for guiding the supplier’s strategy in Canada.

WynnBet expands market access to 7 US states

Wynn Resorts’ online gaming division, WynnBet, has increased its market access to include seven US states following a multi-year market access partnership with Elite Casino Resorts in Iowa.

The new partnership will give sports bettors in the state access to WynnBet’s mobile sports betting platform, licensed by Elite’s Riverside Casino and Golf Resort.

Allied Esports agrees sale of World Poker Tour

Allied Esports Entertainment and privately-held investment vehicle Element Partners have entered into a definitive agreement under which Element will acquire Allied’s poker-related business and assets, including the entities comprising the World Poker Tour (WPT).

Under the terms of the agreement, Element will acquire WPT for $78.25m, consisting of a $68.25m upfront payment and a fully guaranteed 5% revenue share of WPT-branded tournament entry fees on Element-owned or licensed gaming platforms, up to a maximum of $10m payable over three years after closing.

GeoComply donates $200,000 for PlayPause roll-out

Geolocation and compliance technology supplier GeoComply has announced a $200,000 donation to Conscious Gaming, the philanthropic organization it set up to protect consumers and enhance responsible gaming, in support of its deployment of self-exclusion tool PlayPause.

Conscious Gaming was set up by GeoComply to align all industry stakeholders’ responsible gaming needs and created a standardized baseline to share nationally. The organization aims to unite the industry in order to solve the challenges created by differing requirements state-by-state, it said.