Casino Cabbie: Letter From America 19

With so-called “March Madness”–the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball championships, and arguably the world’s biggest betting event–heaving to a spectacular end today, what better moment to issue the clarion call of Casino Cabbie’s latest Letter From America.

March Madness

Yesterday South Carolina’s women’s team defeated Iowa 87-75 to win the College National Championship, and thus completed a perfect, undefeated, season.

Today it’s the men’s turn, with UConn, the University of Connecticut, the favourites, hoping to beat Indiana’s Purdue and win back-to-back championships.

“It’s probably the largest betting event in the world that happens annually,” Robert Boland, a law professor and expert in sports and gaming, told Casino Cabbie.

“Maybe the World Cup, a quadrennial event, draws a little bit more money around the world, but it’ll draw at least US$15 billion of betting.”

Up, and Down, in New York

Year-on-year, the March handle in the Empire State was up 3.4 percent at US$1.85 billion; but revenue fell 6.8 percent to US$151.7 million as players enjoyed bigger winnings.

Flutter’s FanDuel led the pack with US$73.1m in revenue and a handle of US$781.2m; DraftKings placed second with US$48.8m from US$612.2m in bets; Caesars trailed way back in third with revenue of US$13.6m from US$189.4m in wagers; ahead of BetMGM with US$7.8m off US$125.9m; Fanatics, US$3.8m from US$53.2m and Rush Street with US$3.3m from a handle of US$66.2m.

On a month-on-month basis, the statewide handle was up 4.5 percent, from February’s US$1.77bn, and revenue surged 15.5 percent.

Meantime, cooling recent hype, the New York State Gaming Commission has cautioned that the three new, much-touted, casino resort licences will likely not be issued until late next year.

North Carolina Weaves A Magic Spell

Newly-regulated North Carolina has hit the ground running in spectacular fashion.

Bettors spent a massive US​​$198 million in only the first week of sports betting, which kicked off March 11, informed the regulatory state lottery commission.

US$142m was returned to punters in winnings, while US$43m was marked as gross profit, subject to tax of 18 percent.

Eight platforms–among them Caesars Sports, FanDuel, DraftKings, ESPN BET, BetMGM, Fanatics, and bet365–launched in time for March Madness.

And in further impressive stats, Geocomply recorded a staggering 5.4 million checks from 370,000 accounts in just two days, representing roughly 3.5 percent of North Carolina’s 10.8 million population.

Tax Hike for Jersey Online Casinos?

Legislators in the Garden State are seriously considering a tax hike in the leading US iGaming market.

State Bill S3064, introduced by Senator John McKeon, seeks to double NJ online casino and sports betting revenue taxes from 15 and 13 percent, respectively, to 30 percent.

Last year gambling industry taxes in Jersey brought in US$414 million, but, as one of the earliest adopters of Internet wagering, New Jersey also has some of the lowest tax rates in the US.

It’s now argued that upping taxes will defuse arguments about “unfair” regional competitiveness. Neighbouring New York state, for example, has a tax rate of 51 percent and Pennsylvania 36 percent.

Needless to say, the Casino Association of New Jersey adamantly opposes the bill.

While iGaming continues its surge, the total betting take in the gambling pathfinder state has already tipped the US$1 billion mark this year.

Rich pickings, indeed.

Watch this space.

Florida Settles with Seminoles

Following a protracted legal challenge brought by companies including West Flagler Associates and the Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation, Florida’s Supreme Court has settled in favour of the state’s Native American Seminole Tribe.

The plaintiffs argued that the Seminoles’ launch of Hard Rock Bet was in breach of Florida’s betting compact because the platform was operating outside tribal lands and thus created a de facto sports gambling monopoly in the state.

But the Supreme Court ruled that sports betting is not casino betting and providing they pay the state a fee of US$2.5 billion over the next five-years, as agreed under the compact, the Seminoles can continue operating Hard Rock Bet statewide.

Pennsylvania iGaming High

Revenue may be slipping in other verticals, but online casinos in Pennsylvania hit record revenue highs in February, with a total of US$184.9 million.

Total gambling revenue for the month was US$499.1m, up 9.3 percent, year-on-year.

Retail slots remained at the top of the charts, accounting for US$202.7m, while online slots revenue rose 35.6 percent to US$125.9m.

Louisiana Gambling On Ad Ban

The Pelican State is joining Pennsylvania in discussing a gambling ad ban.

House Bill 727, introduced by State Representative Shaun Mena, seeks to prohibit sports betting and daily fantasy advertising on TV.

Sports betting is legal in 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes and last year more than US$2.9 billion was spent betting on sports in the Pelican State.

Despite Responsible Gambling concerns, the proposed ad ban has been called “unlikely to make it” and “bad for business.”

RG On A Roll

Pennsylvania lawmakers are also introducing a bill to ban credit cards from being used in sports betting, daily fantasy contests, lottery, and online casino payments — just like the UK and three other US states: Iowa, Tennessee, and Massachusetts.

And DraftKings has released a new onsite tool called My Stat Sheet that presents punters with their playing data.

The data is presented as user-friendly, helping players make informed choices regarding their gambling and spending.

Consumers can view bets placed, deposits, withdrawals, contest involvement, time spent on the platform, and wins across time.

“As sports betting technology continues to evolve, DraftKings remains committed to continuously enhancing our robust responsible gaming program,” said DraftKings Chief Compliance Officer, Jennifer Aguiar.

“The My Stat Sheet tool will help customers evaluate their play and make informed choices.”

Georgia’s Off My Mind

Efforts to legalise sports betting this year in Georgia have died to live another day.

Two complementary bills passed the Senate and were awaiting approval by the House but they ran out of legislative time.

The bills aimed to support education in Georgia, with 80 percent of a proposed 20 percent sports betting tax allocated to the pre-K and HOPE scholarship programs.

Responsible Gambling and sports promotion programmes would have been funded by the remaining 20 percent.

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