Casino Cabbie: Letter From America 21

Welcome to the latest edition of our partner Casino Cabbie’s Letter From America, featuring a terrific mix of some top stories that may shift the very shape of U.S. iGaming and sports betting. We begin in Florida, where we hope the sun continues to shine on Indian Tribal gaming rights.

Seminole Supreme Court Ruling

In a major move–which may have a big impact on Tribal gaming reach in America–, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) meets this Thursday to discuss the ongoing dispute over online sportsbook operating licences between Florida’s Seminole Indian nation and West Flagler Associates.

West Flagler represents the established, non-Tribal, gambling establishment in the Sunshine State, and they have long been challenging the terms of the gambling compact between the Seminoles and Florida administration, which gives the Indian nation extensive iGaming rights, under federal and state law.

In this preliminary hearing, only four of the nine SCOTUS judges need to concur for the full case–which effectively claims the Seminoles have an unfair monopoly on online gambling in Florida–to be heard before the court.

The legal challenge to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which is federal law, has massive implications.

If West Flagler wins their argument it will set a legal precedent that could challenge gambling compacts between Indian nations and separate state authorities across the nation.

Watch this space!

X Marks The Spot

iGaming giants Evolution Gaming and Light & Wonder are butting heads in the Nevada District Court in a dispute over intellectual property rights.

The case dates to 2021 when Evolution and L&W (then trading as Scientific Games) were working together on creating a land-based version of Evolution’s popular Lightning Roulette game.

Although the partnership was never realised, Evolution claims that while in talks they supplied L&W with confidential data that L&W subsequently used to create the games Roulette X and Power X.

Evolution is seeking compensation and wants to prevent L&W from creating more similar titles.

This is the second time this year that L&W has been accused of creating copycat titles.

Out of Luck

Incredibly popular in the U.S.–as they essentially allow most players to access online casino games via a legal loophole–, sweepstakes casinos are under increasing scrutiny in the nation.

Following the example of Michigan and Idaho, Georgia is now looking to close the legal breach.

A class action lawsuit, brought by Mz. Destiny Kennedy and others to recoup their losses, has been filed against VGW — operator of Luckyland Casino, Global Poker and Chumba Casino.

To date, VGW, one of the largest sweepstakes operators in the U.S., has yet to respond to the challenge.

Three State Poker has launched the first online shared-liquidity cross-state poker network, accepting players from Michigan, Nevada and New Jersey.

Activating the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement, “this platform upgrade is long overdue and is a big win for our players,” says Caesars Digital Vice President of Online Poker Danielle Barille.

“[And] the best is yet to come for WSOP Online tournaments, [with] a better experience, more value, and the biggest prize pools of the year.”

Boom and Bad

The American Gaming Association (AGA) has reported record revenue for Q1, the 13th consecutive quarter of growth for the U.S. commercial market.

Some US$17.67 billion was generated in the quarter, ending March 31; US$6.09 billion in March alone, now the second-highest-grossing month on record.

Retail accounted for approximately 70 percent of the revenue generated, with just under 30 percent coming from online gambling.

Land-based gaming generated US$12.34 billion; up 0.3 percent, year-on-year; sports betting–partly driven by launches in Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina and Vermont–created US$3.33 billion in Q1, up 22 percent, y-o-y; and iGaming, which launched in Rhode Island during the quarter, was up 26.1 percent, generating revenue of US$1.98 billion.

“Gaming’s continued growth relies on maintaining our commitment to innovation and responsibility,” affirms AGA President and CEO Bill Miller.

But the AGA also estimates that U.S. citizens bet some US$511 billion with illegal and unregulated gambling operators last year 2023, costing the legal industry around US$44.2 billion in lost revenue and state governments US$13.3 billion of tax revenue.

Game of Skills

Following a veto by state Governor Glenn Youngkin, Virginia lawmakers have only until June 28 to draft a new bill on legalising betting in “games of skill” — after which Virginia’s legislative session closes for the year.

Governor Youngkin vetoed State Bill 212, which called for the legalisation of betting in games of skill in Old Dominion, even though it was approved by both the Senate and House.

Although he remains open to regulation, Youngkin cautions:

“In recent years [we have] authorized casinos, sports betting and pari-mutuel wagering, on top of longer-standing gaming options like the Virginia Lottery, horse racing and charitable gaming.

“[But] when it comes to additional gaming options, such as games of skill, we must proceed with a robust set of safeguards.”

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