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State of the Union: Wire Act, Illinois, Pennsylvania and more

Insight | Analysis

This week’s State of the Union, in partnership with Segev LLP, covers New Hampshire’s victory in its legal challenge to the Department of Justice’s revised Wire Act stance. Elsewhere, online wagering has arrived in Connecticut, while Illinois appears to have succeeded in a battle to regulate sports betting. 

New Hampshire prevails in Wire Act challenge
A New Hampshire District Court Judge has ruled in favour of the state in its legal challenge against the US Department of Justice’s (DoJ) revised Wire Act opinion, stating that the 1961 act only applies to sports betting.

Judge Paul Barbadoro granted the state a summary judgement in which he rejected the DoJ Office of Legal Counsel’s 2018 opinion that claimed the legislation covers all forms of gambling.

He rejected the DoJ’s argument that New Hampshire had no grounds to file the case, as the revised opinion had not yet been enforced. He noted that the through the state lottery, it had “openly engaged for many years in conduct that the 2018 OLC Opinion now brands as criminal”.

Pennsylvania’s SugarHouse completes online sportsbook launch
Rush Street’s SugarHouse Casino has officially launched its online sportsbook, the first to go live in the Pennsylvania market. 

The desktop and mobile offering officially went live on last Friday (May 31) following a three-day operational test, and having secured final approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). 

“Since opening, our SugarHouse Sportsbook has been buzzing with sports fans 24/7,” SugarHouse Casino general manager Rob Long said.

“Whether they’re watching Philly teams on the big screen or following a soccer game or tennis matches live streamed directly from the French Open to, the action is round-the-clock, and now with online and mobile sports betting, you can take it with you.”

Illinois sports betting bill clears legislature after last minute push
The Illinois House and Senate have both voted through a wide-ranging gambling expansion bill, which includes measures to legalize sports betting in the US state.

Senate Bill 690, which originally focused on changes to property tax rates, has been expanded significantly through a number of amendments, including Representative Robert Rita’s Sports Wagering Act. 

This sets out plans to permit sports wagering and existing and new casinos in Illinois, as well as at racetracks and online. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 87-27 on Saturday, while the House on Sunday followed with an approval vote of 46-10.

The bill will now move forward to Governor J.B. Pritzker for signature later this month. Pritzker has previously spoken publicly about his support for gambling expansion in Illinois and is widely expected to sign off on the bill.

Kindred’s Unibet debuts in US market with New Jersey launch
Kindred Group has launched its Unibet brand New Jersey through a partnership with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, marking its debut in the regulated US market.

Kindred Group has launched its Unibet brand New Jersey through a partnership with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, marking its debut in the regulated US market.

Unibet will offer a selection of casino games to consumers under a Casino Service Industry Enterprise Licence secured in 2018, operating under Hard Rock’s igaming license.

New Hampshire bill heads back to House with Senate amendments
The New Hampshire Senate has passed an amended version of a bill to legalize sports betting in the state, with the House of Representatives now set to look at the legislation with a view of passing it on to the Governor for signature.

HB480, which sets out plans to regulate sports betting in-person, online and via mobile, has been discussed and amended in the Senate on a number of occasions in recent weeks as lawmakers look to nail down regulatory measures.

Last week, the Senate Finance Committee granted the bill an ‘ought to pass with amendment’ recommendation based on several amendments, and the Senate has now approved these and also new changes tabled by Senator Bob Giuda.

Should the House also give the go ahead to HB480, it will then move forward to be signed into law by Governor Chris Sununu.

Miomni secures injunction against software supplier Enterg
Sports betting software provider Miomni Gaming has secured an injunction against Enterg Software Solutions, trading as Entergaming, a Cyprus-based business that provided it with technology used to power a US sports betting platform.

Miomni’s injunction, granted by Judge David Edwards QC of the UK High Court of Justice’s Business and Property Court, orders Enterg to inform the supplier of any so-called “kill switch” integrated into its software platform, according to court documents.

This refers to any code within the platform that may allow it to be automatically deactivated, through timed events, remote activation or by any other means.

Scientific Games and Oneida win approval for NY sports betting venture
Scientific Games and tribal operator Oneida Indian Nation have secured approval from the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) for the partners’ sports betting venture New York State.

The partnership, first announced in January, will see Scientific Games provide its OpenBet technology to power sports betting at Oneida’s three New York casinos: Turning Stone Resort, Yellow Brick Road and Point Place.

This will include player management software and dynamic pre-game and live data feeds from Scientific Games-owned Don Best Sports, which is part of its SG Digital business.

Nevada monthly revenue falls below $1bn for first time in 2019
Nevada’s gaming revenue for April came in at $936.5m, the first month that the state’s total has failed to hit the $1bn mark in 2019.

Total revenue was down 1.8% year-on-year, and 8.5% sequentially. The majority of state revenue was derived from slots, which accounted for $658.8m (70.3%) of the total, up marginally year-on-year.

This was offset by a 5.8% drop in table, counter and card games (including sports and race betting) to $277.7m.

Sports betting saw revenue grow 32.7% year-on-year to $21.7m. An operator hold of 6.6% in April suggested total handle of $328.1m for the month, significantly down from March’s figures, which benefitted significantly from the NCAA’s March Madness tournament.

Alabama Governor signs fantasy sports bill
Alabama residents will soon be able to enter fantasy sports contests after Governor Kay Ivey signed House Bill 361 into law. 

The bill, introduced by Representative Kyle South, will see fantasy operators with national gross revenue higher than $10m required to pay a $85,000 annual fee to the state. Companies with revenue below this sum will pay a $1,000 fee. 

Licensees will also pay a 10.5% tax on revenue generated in Alabama. A 6% tax rate had originally been proposed, though this was then increased to 8% by the House. It was amended further to the final sum by the Senate, with the House concurring with the decision. 

Only those aged 19 and above will be allowed to enter fantasy contests.