Casino Cabbie: Letter From America 17

As American Football fans–and sports betting aficionados everywhere–gird their loins for this weekend’s Gridiron World Championship, AKA The Super Bowl, we share our US correspondent Lauren Harrison’s latest Letter From America:

Game of Thrones

Total gambling revenue figures for Nevada 2023 are in — and they’ve hit a record high of US$15.52 billion.

This puts the state 4.6 percent ahead of revenue figures for 2022 but still behind Macau’s monumental US$22.8 billion figures for last year.

The two global gambling locations are often compared, with both vying for the top spot as best betting destination.

But, going by these figures alone, Macau still Rules OK.

Sweet Carolina

The North Carolina State Lottery Commission has set the date that the legal sports betting market will open. And it’s high noon on March 11.

Pre-registration begins March 1.

“[It] means that North Carolinians will be able to place bets on their favorite teams in many of this year’s college basketball conference tournaments, including men’s tournaments in the ACC, Conference USA, the MEAC, and the AAC, as well as throughout the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments,” commented Commission Chair Ripley Brand.

“Bets on sporting events have been made for as long as those events have taken place. But this time they will be legal. They will be done securely and fairly. And they will be made under rules designed to encourage Responsible Gaming.”

There are 12 operator licenses available in The Old North State, named for the beheaded king Charles 1 of England, and nine applications have been received to date.

Operators seeking permits must partner with a sports team, league, or venue, and BetMGM and DraftKings have already announced they will launch, with Charlotte Motor Speedway and NASCAR, respectively.

Caesars, looking to expand its relationship with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Fanatics, partnering with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and ESPN Bet, joining forces with Quail Hollow Golf Club (who else?) are also poised to join the sports betting party.

Hits and Mississippi

The blessed Magnolia State, where in-person sports betting at licensed casino premises has been legal since 2018, may soon have regulated online gaming.

Two new bills–HB271 and HB635–have been introduced to the state legislature, after five previous failures .

Forgive the pun, but let’s hope this latest move is a Hit – and not a Miss(issippi).

Nevada Hacked Again

In yet more disquieting news about digital security in the home of US gambling, The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) has announced via X that it has been hacked, resulting in the board taking down its site until it can restore control.

Until then, the NGCB is working on getting a temporary site up and running for those seeking information and relevant web links regarding gambling in Nevada.

This is Nevada’s third major hack after MGM and Caesars were attacked last year.

The NGCB has not announced any more details or disclosed what information has been compromised.

Come on guys, perhaps you need reminding in this special week that: “It’s Defense that wins Super Bowls”.

Smoke and Ire

New Jersey’s Atlantic City Casinos are finally considering prohibiting indoor smoking.

While the rest of New Jersey banned indoor smoking in 2006, currently it’s still permitted on 25 percent of the casino floor.

Health-conscious Atlantic City workers have long been fighting for reform. But concerned stakeholders are worried about the effect of a casino-wide smoking ban on businesses.

The Senate health committee has already approved the proposed smoking ban bill, and NJ Governor Phil Murphy has said he will sign it, bringing it into force, should it pass the final hurdles.

2023 Digital Casino Revenues Boom

New Jersey, surprise-surprise, has won the digital revenue race revenue in 2023, just slightly ahead of Pennsylvania, with total revenue of US$5.78 billion, a 10 percent increase from 2022; iGaming grew by 15.7 percent, up to US$1.92 billion, while sports betting, with a total revenue of US$1.01 billion, increased by a whopping 31.9 percent.

Pennsylvania, meanwhile, also had a solid year; taking total gaming revenue of US$5.69 billion, up 9.3 percent on 2022.

The Keystone state saw a massive jump in iGaming, which increased by 27.7 percent yearly to a total revenue of US$1.74 billion, with sports betting increasing by 14.31 percent.

In Michigan, the Wolverine state, records were also smashed, with total iGaming and online sports betting revenue up 18.3 percent, year-on-year.

Sports betting generated revenue of US$420.4 million, while iGaming enjoyed revenue of US$1.98 billion.

Illegal Operators Under Fire in Michigan

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) is one of the most active regulators regarding enforcement action, especially against illegal operators.

This has previously led to several legal cases — and the destruction of thousands of illegal gaming machines in true “Untouchables” style.

The regulator has further underlined its tough rep by sending cease-and-desist orders to three unlicensed companies operating within Michigan’s state lines: PredictionStrike of New York; Cyprus-registered Sweepstakes Limited and VGW LuckyLand, Inc. of California.

Affirmed MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams: “Gambling regulations are in place for a reason, and illegal gambling operations are not welcome in Michigan.

“We do not want businesses who skirt the law, [leaving] Michigan citizens vulnerable because they are playing on unregulated sites with no recourse.

“[This] siphons funds away from communities because they are not paying taxes like a regulated, legal gambling establishment would.”

Maryland May Greenlight iGaming

Maryland Senator Ron Watson has announced he will introduce an iGaming and Poker proposal for the second year running during Maryland’s 2024 legislative session, which opened January 17.

According to the state’s legislation tracker, the bill hasn’t yet been registered, but local newspapers are already reporting on it.

This year’s bill edition differs from the 2023 version as it features significantly increased taxes, up from a proposed 15 percent to over 46 percent.

While the tax hike seems likely to quieten opposition from the land-based casino industry, it doesn’t look good for online operators, as markets with a similarly high tax rate, such as neighbouring Delaware, have stagnated since approving online gaming.

Should the bill pass, with final approval needed though a public referendum, it’s hoped–and expected–to help relieve the state’s substantial US$400 million budget deficit.

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