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State of the Union: PointsBet, OK, CA and more

Insight | Analysis

This week’s State of the Union, in partnership with Segev LLP, includes the first partnership between a sportsbook and a Major League Baseball team, as well as new tribal compacts in Oklahoma and the status of sports betting in California.

PointsBet seals MLB first with Detroit Tigers partnership
PointsBet has achieved a pair of industry firsts through its exclusive partnership with the Detroit Tigers, becoming the first sportsbook to partner a Major League Baseball (MLB) team and the first to partner a Michigan-based sports franchise.

The multi-year deal begins from the start of the 2020 MLB season on July 23, and comes after Michigan launched legal sports betting in March this year.

Through the deal PointsBet aims to enhance fan engagement and gameday experiences by providing access to unique experiences, content and promotions in and around the Tigers’ Comerica Park stadium.

Oklahoma Governor signs new gaming compacts with two tribes
Oklahoma’s Governor Kevin Stitt has signed new tribal betting compacts with the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (UKB) and Kialegee Tribal Town (KTT).

The compacts will allow both the UKB and KTT to offer Class III games and table games, but neither arrangement covers sports wagering.

The KTT compact said that the tribe will pay the state 12% of its gross gaming revenue (GRR) from slot machines during the first two years of operation. This rate will increase to between 13-15% for each year through to the end of 2035, depending on GGR total.

California tribes granted extension on sports betting
California tribes will have 90 more days to gather enough signatures to get their sports betting measure on the ballot in 2022 after a court granted an extension to the deadline by which it must secure sufficient public support.

The California Sports Wagering Regulation and Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act – put forward by a coalition of 18 California-based Native American tribes – would amend the state constitution to legalize sports betting at locations including tribal casinos and licensed racetracks, with a 10% GGR tax.

The measure needed to receive 997,139 valid signatures by 21 June in order to appear on the November 2020 ballot, but due to time taken by the signature verification process, the initial list of signatures needed to be submitted to counties by 21 April.

G2E Las Vegas 2020 cancelled
The Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas will not take place in 2020, after organizers the American Gaming Association (AGA) and Reed Exhibitions formally cancelled the event.

AGA president and chief executive Bill Miller explained that global travel restrictions and unclear guidance on large public gatherings meant it was impossible to hold an in-person event this year. It will now be replaced by a series of virtual events.

“Health and safety have always been our top priority and the uncertainty created by the ongoing pandemic makes this the prudent decision ahead of critical deadlines for exhibitors planning to participate,” he explained.

Circus Circus sues AIG over unpaid Covid-19 claim
Circus Circus Casino has filed a lawsuit against insurance company AIG for damages exceeding $75m in the United States District Court for Nevada, arguing the operator’s AIG insurance policy failed to cover “all risks” as specified during the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.

The operator entered into an insurance agreement with AIG starting in December 2019 providing coverage of up to $500m to Circus Circus against “all risks of direct physical loss or damage to insured property from a covered cause of loss”.

A “covered cause” in the policy refers to any cause that is not specifically excluded.

Eldorado wins Nevada approval for Caesars acquisition
Eldorado Resorts has secured approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board and Gaming Commission to proceed with its proposed acquisition and subsequent merger with Caesars Entertainment Corporation.

The two operators first announced the deal last year, with Eldorado set to pay $17.3bn – $7.2bn in cash, and approximately 77m Eldorado common shares – to take ownership of the Caesars business.

The merger was subject to a number of customary closing conditions, including securing approval from authorities in Nevada. Shareholders from both Eldorado and Caesars in November also gave the deal the green light, while authorities in a number of other states have cleared the merger.

Atlantic City casinos reopen after Covid-19 shutdown
Five casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey reopened on 2 July after being closed for more than three months due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy last month announced that casinos would be permitted to recommence activities from July 2, at a maximum capacity of 25% for the time being.

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.

Twin River completes acquisition of Eldorado properties
Twin River Worldwide Holdings has completed the acquisition of Eldorado Resorts’ Isle of Capri Casino in Kansas City, Missouri and the Lady Luck Casino in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The $230m (£256.1m/€283.4m) acquisition is the latest in a series of strategic efforts to diversify the operator’s property portfolio.

“Isle Kansas City and Lady Luck Vicksburg expand our geographic footprint with assets in attractive markets. We believe these assets are a great fit for our portfolio and see the opportunity to increase the net cash flow from these properties with our redevelopment and operating plans,” George Papanier, president and chief executive officer of Twin River, explained.

BetMakers partners PointsBet for fixed-odds racing in NJ
Sports betting operator PointsBet has agreed a new deal with online wagering solutions provider BetMakers to launch fixed-odds betting on horse racing in New Jersey.

Under the agreement, BetMakers DNA (BDNA), a subsidiary of BetMakers, will provide its wagering technology to power PointsBet’s racing offering in the state, including its data and pricing solution.

PointsBet will initially offer fixed-odds betting to punters in the state on all race meetings at Monmouth Park. Subject to regulatory approval, both parties intend to extend the service to include racing from other US and international markets in the future.

Nasdaq writes to Newgioco over results delay
The Listing Qualifications Department of the Nasdaq stock exchange has written to betting and gaming operator and supplier Newgioco Group after it failed to file its first quarter results in time.

The notification letter has no immediate effect on the listing or trading of Newgioco’s common stock on the Nasdaq, the business noted.

It explained that the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, and the travel restrictions imposed by the government in its core Italian market, had hindered its ability to meet filing deadlines. This prevented company officers, management and staff of its independent accountants from travelling to Italy.

Covid-19 halts DoubleDown Nasdaq listing plans
South Korean social gaming giant DoubleU Games has announced that it will put plans to list its social casino subsidiary DoubleDown Interactive on the Nasdaq stock exchange on hold, blaming economic uncertainty.

In a Korea Stock Exchange (KRX) filing, DoubleU explained that it believes investor appetite for the listing has declined as a result of the uncertainty caused by a re-emergence of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in the US.

The business did note that it would re-examine the possibility of a market listing at a later date, when it felt conditions were more favourable, and would aim to do so as quickly as possible.

UNLV launches study into impact of betting and igaming
The University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) is to conduct a study assessing the impact of online gaming and sports betting regulation in the US, with the project to be funded by GVC Holdings’ non-profit arm, the GVC Foundation US.

The study, which will be carried out by UNLV’s International Gaming Institute (IGI), will assess developments in markets across the US, to determine the key issues facing policymakers and stakeholders, especially those related to player protection.

“Effective public policy is always best served by an evidence-based approach to its creation,” Alan Feldman, distinguished fellow in responsible gaming for IGI and chair of the International Center for Responsible Gaming, explained.

Amelco given green light for Colorado expansion
Sports betting software and trading services provider Amelco has secured regulatory approval to power the launch of a second sportsbook in Colorado.

Amelco is already active in Colorado via its partnership with The Stars Group’s Fox Bet brand, and has now been approved to launch BetWildwood, a joint venture with ISI Race & Sports.

This will be the first online sportsbook to launch under Wildwood Casino in Cripple Creek’s online betting license, and is due to go live later in July.

Miami-Dade county casinos close just weeks after reopening
Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) has announced the temporary suspension of operations at Calder Casino in Miami Gardens, Florida.

The closure followed a Miami-Dade county emergency order issued by Mayor Carlos Gimenez, requiring the closure of entertainment venues including casinos, in an effort to control the rise in cases of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19).

Sporting Solutions taps SCCG to aid US entry
Sportsbook and lottery supplier Sporting Solutions has agreed a partnership with Las Vegas-based gaming consultancy SCCG Management, in order to accelerate its entry into the North American sports betting market.

SCCG will provide the supplier with business development and strategic support through the relationship, as the supplier looks to carve out a presence in the states.

PlayUp brings in Mintas to spearhead US expansion plans
Australian sports betting and daily fantasy sports operator PlayUp has named Dr Laila Mintas as chief executive of its new US division as it prepares to enter the market.

The operator, which is already active in Australia, New Zealand and India, said it has already acquired market access in “multiple US states”.

Stats Perform secures USL betting data rights
Sports data and technology supplier, Stats Perform, announced it has secured the long-term official betting data rights for the United Soccer League (USL) competitions.

The deal covers the USL’s two professional leagues, the USL Championship and USL League One.

BCLC looks to expand lottery reach with iTel partnership
Telecommunications provider iTel Networks will provide internet to Canadian provincial lottery operator British Columbia Lottery Corporation’s (BCLC) retail partners through a new partnership.

This is designed to help partners in remote and rural areas of British Columbia sell lottery products, by providing remote network services to retailers.

888 extends igaming partnership with Delaware Lottery
Online gambling operator 888 has extended its exclusive igaming deal with the Delaware Lottery by an additional two years.

Under the partnership, which began in 2013, 888 will continue to power the US state’s online gambling platform, with players able to access a range of casino and poker games.