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

Insight | Analysis

This week’s State of the Union, in partnership with Segev LLP, covers the reopening plans for New Jersey casinos, the withdrawal of a bill to legalise sports betting in California and Rush Street Interactive’s launch of online sportsbooks in two Midwestern states.

New Jersey casinos to reopen at 25% capacity from July 2

New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy has announced that casinos in the state will be permitted to reopen at limited capacity from July 2, after more than three months closed as a results of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Casinos have been closed since March 16 as part of a ban on gatherings of up to 50 people in the state, in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Murphy said that casinos will be permitted to open from July 2, just ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, at a maximum capacity of 25%.

Dodd pulls California betting proposal

California Senator Bill Dodd has announced that he is to remove his proposal to regulate sports betting from consideration, just a day before it was due to go to a vote of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Dodd’s Senate Constitutional Amendment 6, developed in partnership with Assemblymember Adam Gray, had been placed in a suspense file earlier this month, as its fiscal impact was to be over $50,000.

It would then have required an Appropriations Committee hearing to determine whether it would be released from suspense. This was originally scheduled for June 18, before being pushed back to June 23.

Rivers and RSI launch first online sportsbook in Illinois…

Rush Street Interactive (RSI) and Rivers Casino Des Plaines have announced that they will launch the first legal online and mobile sportsbook platforms in Illinois today (June 18).

Due to go live at 10:00am CT, Kambi-powered will enable players over the age of 21 in the state to wager on a wide range of sports via a desktop computer or mobile device.

The brick-and-mortar BetRivers sportsbook at Rivers Casino Des Plaines was also the first retail facility to take the first legal sports wagers in Illinois when the state opened its regulated market on March 9 this year.

… and RSI also gains access to Michigan market

Rush Street Interactive (RSI) has agreed a deal to launch retail and online sports betting in partnership with the Little River Casino Resort in Michigan.

Under the agreement, RSI will become service provider for a new in-casino retail sportsbook at the property, which is operated by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians with plans in place to open the facility early in the third quarter.

Michigan launched legal retail sports wagering in March, days before the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic disrupted sporting fixtures worldwide.

Caesars and MGM require masks for all customers

Land-based gaming giants Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts have announced customers will be required to wear masks at all venues throughout the US in order to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

Both operators had previously varied their face mask rules for customers depending on state regulations.

While face masks were required at gaming tables in Nevada and for anyone indoors in a situation where physical distancing is not possible in Illinois, they were not required for customers in many other states.

DraftKings rolls out mobile casino in New Jersey

DraftKings has launched a standalone casino application in New Jersey as it seeks to expand its share of the gambling market in the state.

DraftKings said the in-house developed product will feature exclusive new titles, games from other providers and classics such as blackjack and roulette.

The operator said the new casino product – which comes two years after DraftKings began offering casino through its sportsbook app – has been introduced after extensive research of its broadening customer base.

… while FanDuel launches a standalone casino app of its own in Pennsylvania

Flutter Entertainment-owned FanDuel Group has launched a branded, standalone casino app for Pennsylvania players, while its licensing partner in the state, Boyd Gaming’s Valley Forge Casino, has announced that it will reopen to the public from June 26.

FanDuel had previously offered online casino games via its sports betting app in the state, but has now decided to roll out a separate product for the vertical – the first time the operator has launched such a product.

Casino games will still be available within the sportsbook solution, though customers will also be able to use their existing accounts to play via the new offering.

Global Daily Fantasy Sports completes Playgon purchase

Software supplier Global Daily Fantasy Sports has completed its acquisition of live dealer games supplier Playgon Interactive in a deal worth $9.5m.

Announced in December last year, the deal will see Global expand its footprint out of the daily fantasy sports sphere and into the live casino market.

Guido Ganschow, the president, chief executive and principal shareholder of Playgon, will join the Global board as part of the acquisition agreement.

Georgia Senate Committee revives sports betting proposal

Georgia’s Senate Judiciary Committee has resurrected the prospect of legal sports betting in the state by amending a bill to include a framework for legal wagering.

House Bill 903 – which had initially dealt with traffic citations – was amended to become a sports betting bill instead, a practice common in the final days of a legislative session in order to get a bill over the line.

The bill, which would amend the definition of a lottery in the state to include sports betting, now faces a vote on the Senate floor.

Apple receives class action complaint over loot boxes

California-based parent Rebecca Taylor has filed a class action complaint against tech giant Apple, alleging that by providing games containing loot box mechanisms through its App Store, Apple is complicit in or guilty of promoting gambling products to children.

The complaint was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division on Tuesday (15 June).

Alberta chooses NeoPollard for igaming platform

The province of Alberta will launch online gambling after entering selecting platform provider NeoPollard Interactive to power its offering through a tender process.

The province confirmed plans to launch igaming, regulated by the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC), in March as part of its 2020 budget. In 2019, it launched a request for proposals to determine who would provide the necessary technology for the offering.

NeoPollard, a subsidiary of lottery ticket printing company Pollard Banknote and also provides interactive lottery solutions in Virginia, New Hampshire, Michigan and North Carolina, won this process. The AGLC’s agreement with NeoPollard will last seven years, with an optional twelve-year extension.

Masks required at Nevada gaming tables

Gamblers in Nevada will be required to wear masks if they wish to play at gaming tables that do not have barriers in place, according to the latest safety regulations from the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

In addition, updated regulations to prevent transmission of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) state that all casinos must make masks available to any customer who wants one.

Mississippi makes $87,697 from betting as casinos reopen

The Mississippi Gaming Commission has reported sports betting revenue of $87,697 after the state’s casinos began to reopen from May 21 following their novel coronavirus (Covid-19) enforced shutdown.

Local media suggests that around 18 casinos reopened on that date, with others following either later that month, or from June 1. In those final nine days of the month, customers wagered $236,503, which after customer winnings were paid out, left $87,697 in revenue.

US casinos continue to reopen as Covid-19 restrictions eased

A number of leading commercial casino operators in the US have announced the reopening of their properties as states continue to relax restrictions for the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Commercial and tribal casinos were forced to temporarily close in March due to the Covid-19 crisis, but the easing of measures in certain states mean properties are now being allowed to reopen, subject to certain restrictions.

DoubleDown Interactive targets $200m as IPO launches

Social casino giant DoubleDown Interactive has announced the lunch of its initial public offering (IPO) in the US and revealed that it could raise more than double the amount it originally forecast.

DoubleDown Interactive, together with an unnamed selling stockholder, will offer a total of 11m American Depositary Shares (ADS), with every 20 ADSs representing one DoubleDown ordinary share.

Betfred selects Scientific Games for Colorado sports betting launch

Bookmaker Betfred has extended its partnership with Scientific Games in order to launch digital and retail sports betting services in the state of Colorado.

Under the agreement, Betfred has rolled out Scientific Games’ OpenSports full retail solutions, including a selection of self-service betting terminals, at the Saratoga Casino property in Black Hawk, Colorado.