North Carolina casino legislation: Winners and losers

Much of the news emanating from North Carolina this last year revolved around online sports betting. But a recent draft casino bill circulating among legislators in the Tar Heel state has gained some support.

The bill has the potential to disrupt fledgling casino developments in Virginia, especially Caesars Virginia in Danville. It also potentially puts pressure on tribal casinos located in the western portion of the state, threatening gaming revenue rumoured to approach $1bn.

Paul Girvan

The bill calls for the development of four Class III casinos, one of which is assigned to the Lumbee Tribe for casino development in the eastern portion of the state. The remaining three casinos would be operated by the single entity that wins the bid. 

The language in the draft bill (below) essentially limits the development of the three commercial casinos to Rockingham, Anson and Nash counties. 

A site that is located in a county that (i) is a development tier one area, as defined in GS 143B-437.08 for the 2022 calendar year, (ii) has a majority of its land area within 60 miles of an international airport, (iii) is east of counties traversed by Interstate 77, (iv) does not contain Indian lands with gaming as of 1 July 2023, (v) is either a border county or a county traversed by Interstate 95, (vi) has a population of less than 100,000 as of the most recent federal decennial census at the time the application is made, and vii) is not in a county listed in GS 14-292.4(c)(5).

North Carolina casinos form part of new entertainment districts

The bill requires entertainment districts to be developed along with the casino in each of the three locations. The stated goal is to increase tourism and rural economic development. There’s a vision of retail, hotels, entertainment, residential and commercial and industrial developments.

The competing bidders would have to invest a minimum of $1.5bn and meet employment targets at each location. Not surprisingly, given the requirement and locations, this is titled as a Rural Tourism Incentive Programme designed to increase employment and economic development in rural counties.

A glance at the map shows just how significant these locations could be. 

Source: Maxim Strategy Group

The most obvious impact will be on Caesars Virginia in Danville, straddling the border between Virginia and North Carolina. Caesars, in partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee, opened a temporary casino on 15 May 2023. The permanent casino is slated to open in 2024.

It is planned to include a casino, a 500-room hotel, meeting rooms and conference centre and a 2,500-seat entertainment venue. The casino will feature 1,300 slot machines, 85 table games, a poker room and a sportsbook.

Built in Virginia, made in North Carolina

Caesars Virginia expects to draw a significant portion of its guests from the Winston-Salem, Durham and Raleigh metropolitan areas. More than 50% of revenue is likely to come from North Carolina residents.

The inclusion of Rockingham in the shortlist of three counties is a direct response to the Danville casino, located to provide an intervening opportunity and closer gaming venue for players in these cities.

With the right operator and the development of an entertainment district, a property in Rockingham County would present a powerful competitor to Danville. It could even provide an alternative for residents in southern Virginia.

The resultant market for Caesars Virginia (estimated to be approximately $400m) could shrink significantly, by as much as 45%-50%. Expenses would rise due to increased competition.

The Nash County site is approximately 40 miles east of Raleigh-Durham. While not in an intercept location like Rockingham County, it does provide an alternative closer to the metropolitan area than the Danville casino. This will intensify the battle for market share with Caesars Virginia.

The Anson County site is approximately 35-45 miles east of Charlotte. It would offer an alternative to the Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort, 30 miles west of Charlotte. That casino is currently in a temporary structure. Plans to develop a permanent casino costing $273m featuring a 1,500-room hotel, entertainment centre, restaurants, shops and a casino with 1,796 slot machines and 54 table games are currently on hold due to infractions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. 

The Charlotte market is large enough to support two casinos, especially if gamers from Atlanta can be induced to visit. However, the announcement of a commercial venture increases uncertainty surrounding the timing and scope of the tribal development.

Further ripple effects of North Carolina’s casino plans

The impact on Harrah’s Cherokee properties is likely to be small but noticeable (less than 10%). North Carolina residents in the more populous central and eastern portions of the state would now have viable and more proximate alternatives.

The Charlotte market is large enough to support two casinos – especially if gamers from Atlanta can be induced to visit

The Hard Rock Bristol property in Virginia is more of a local draw and is 120 miles away from the proposed North Carolina locations. Therefore, it’s unlikely to see much of an impact.

State senate leader Phil Berger suggested as much as $259m is being siphoned out of North Carolina towards the Danville casino. He seeks a solution to “stem the tide” of revenue and jobs flowing to Virginia.

This harks back to the arguments made between 1990 and 2020, when casino legalisation in one state prompted development plans in another in a domino effect. Land-based casinos spread rapidly throughout the US as a result.

With the passage of mobile sports betting in 2023 and that market likely to launch in 2024, land-based casinos could shuffle the competitive process to obtain one of the 12 sportsbook licences. Operators active in both verticals, of course, would realise bigger returns. These new properties will likely gain rights to offer retail betting.

The costs of casino expansion in North Carolina

There is a hefty licence fee of $25m, although a 22.5% GGR tax seems reasonable. This is substantially more than the 6% tribes pay to the state but it compares well to other states.

Coupled with a relative dearth of new gaming opportunities in the land-based sector, competition for licences could be intense.

However, the requirement to invest $1.5bn in the three sites and develop entertainment districts while committing to creating 5,250 jobs will limit prospective operators to those better capitalised. Businesses with broader development experience or partners experienced in non-gaming developments will be well positioned.

The Cordish Companies, with its established Live! brand, has the gaming and non-gaming development chops to address the three projects. Their lobbyists have been active in support of the legislation. 

It’s worth considering the unusual bundling of three projects is designed to attract an operator with the experience, brand recognition and financial muscle to take on the Eastern Band of Cherokees and Caesars.

This suggests major gaming companies such as MGM, Penn, Wynn and Bally’s would be well positioned to respond. Even though this could be viewed as competitive with the Cherokees there are also a few tribes with the track record and wherewithal to compete on a commercial basis.

There are the Seminoles with Hard Rock, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment and the Poarch Creek Band of Potawatomi Indians. Tribes with a lower profile for off-reservation developments could also emerge as potential bidders.

The Lumbee Tribe’s fight for federal recognition

The fourth casino is set aside for the Lumbee Tribe in the southeastern part of the state – even if it fails to gain federal recognition.

The tribe’s battle to obtain that recognition, and with it the rights to develop a casino, has a long history. The lack of recognition is seen by many, including local politicians, as an issue that needs correcting.

The proposed bill recognises this by setting aside 10 counties in the southeastern portion of the state where the Lumbees could develop a casino.


This development, if it progresses, could have implications for igaming. A major land-based commercial casino operator allied with an online betting operator would intensify lobbying for icasino down the road.

That effort may be years away. But a renewed push to legalise igaming in neighbouring states coupled with disillusionment over low sportsbook tax take could bring it closer.

No movement, but broad support

At the time of writing there has been no movement on the bill. There is reportedly broad legislative support while lobbyists from gaming operators (such as Cordish) are expressing interest.

It may take a year or two for this proposal to mature. But the growing flow of North Carolinians to Virginia will provide sufficient impetus for this to remain a hot issue over the next few years. The allure of tax revenues and economic development will reinforce this.

The winners, should this pass, will be the residents of the host counties, the Lumbee Tribal Nation, and North Carolina. All would benefit from the economic development and tax revenue.

The winning operator would also benefit as GGR estimates for the three properties exceed $1.2bn.

On the losing side would be Caesars and the Eastern Band of Cherokees, and their project in Danville. The Catawba Nation and their Two Kings property west of Charlotte, meanwhile, would see its potential market shrink.

EBITDA ticks up while revenue falters in Intralot H1

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) at Intralot grew 14.0% to €62.8m (£53.8m/$68.3m) during the first six months of the year.

However, revenue fell 2.9% year-on-year to €163.6m, while turnover for the period totalled at €175.3m, down 14.4%.

The turnover consists of the B2B revenue made from Intralot’s supplier business, along with stakes wagered by players through its B2C operator business.

After considering the €163.6m in revenue, Intralot then added €123.5m in technology and support services, €29.8m in management contracts and €22.0m in licensed operations to make up the turnover.

Cash flow for the six months improved by 20.2%, reaching €49.8m, which Intralot attributed to the improved EBITDA performance.

Looking at “significant opportunities” worldwide

Sokratis P Kokkalis, chairman and CEO of Intralot, said that the EBITDA and cash flow would aid Intralot in its expansion efforts in the US and beyond.

“Intralot’s results for the first half of 2023 show continuing EBITDA growth of 14.0% and healthy cash flows as the company consistently focuses on higher profit margin activities and lower leverage ratios,” remarked Kokkalis.

“These developments allow us greater confidence in refinancing our upcoming maturities with an improved credit profile and address significant opportunities in the US and around the globe.”

During the half-year, Intralot signed a number of significant deals. These included a deal to provide the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) with its Intralot Orion sports betting platform, as well as a long-term lottery deal with the Taiwan Public Welfare Lottery.

Cost of sales fall but EBIT improves

Looking at the turnover for the six months, most of the total was derived from Intralot’s operations in the Americas, which totalled at €114.8m. Europe contributed €50.7m, while €39.4m was attributed to “other” revenue. Eliminations resulted in €21.7m being removed from the turnover.

Lottery games were the largest contributor to the turnover, accounting for 58.7% of the total. Sports betting was the second highest contributor at 17.6%, followed by video lottery terminals at 12.7%.

Cost of sales was €112.3m for the half-year, a decline of 24.3% year-on-year. This brought the gross profit up by 11.8% to €62.9m.

Other operating income came to €14.7m. But administrative expenses at €36.4m offset this contribution. Following selling expenses at €9.1m, research and development expenses at €615,000 and other operating expenses at €512,000, the total earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) for the half-year was €30.9m. This was a rise of 69.6% yearly.

Profit up for H1

But this was affected by interest and similar expenses at €20.8m, as well as €129,000 in losses from asset disposal and €369,000 in exchange differences.

After considering various other costs, including €1.1m in income from investments, €1.7m in interest income and €3.7m in net monetary profit, the pre-tax profit for the six months was €16.3m.

Following €7.1m in tax, the net profit was €9.1m for H1, a rise of €8.8m year-on-year.

Second quarter

Turning to Intralot’s second quarter results, turnover was €85.8m, down by 20.0%. Intralot attributed this to the continuing effects of the expiration of its licence in Malta in July 2022.

Revenue totalled at €80.2m, down by 9.6%.

Cost of sales totalled at €55.4m for the quarter, posting a 27.1% decrease from Q2 2022. This left the gross profit for the quarter at €30.3m, down by 2.3% year-on-year.

Other operating income totalled at €6.9m. Administrative expenses came to €19.0m, while selling expenses were €4.3m. Other operating expenses were €413,000 and research and development expenses were €264,000.

This brought the EBIT for the quarter to €13.3m, a rise of 39.1%.

Further costs were made up of €10.1m in interest and similar expenses and €38,000 in losses from assets disposal. Following further income, including €1.1m in net monetary position, the pre-tax profit for the quarter was €5.3m.

Following €2.1m in tax, the total profit for the quarter was €3.2m, a fall of 69.4%.

Dutch lawyers lobby government over controversial Malta law

The letter – which was signed by five lawyers who are involved in litigation against gambling companies – argued the Dutch government should make clear its opposition to Bill 55, which it said, “seriously undermines European law”.

Bill 55, signed into law in June, shields gambling operators from legal liability resulting from their Malta Gaming Authority (MGA)-licensed activities.

Benzi Loonstein, Herman Loonstein and Johan Oosterhagen from law firm Loonstein Lawyers signed the letter, as did Martijn Bonefaas and Anton Heilig from Van Diepen Van der Kroef Lawyers.

Could the Netherlands see a repeat of Austria and Germany?

As outlined in the letter, both firms are heavily involved in legal action against MGA-licensed gambling businesses active in the European grey market.

Similar litigation efforts in Austria and Germany have led to legal precedents in higher courts saying gambling businesses are liable for all a consumer’s historic losses.

The letter said “there is an expectation and hope” that this will also happen in the Netherlands. It pointed to a ruling by the Dutch Council of State that grey market offerings were never permitted.

While most businesses have paid out after losing such cases, some operators have continued to fight the decision – notably several 888 and Flutter brands.

Lawyers argue Bill 55 in violation of Dutch law

The lawyers highlighted European and Dutch jurisprudence.

The lawyers argued that, since the Maltese operators offered gambling without a licence from the Dutch regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), they should be required to compensate a player for all losses.

As outlined by Casino Nieuws, the letter said gambling companies were operating “illegally” due to violating Article 1 of the Dutch Betting and Gaming Act (KOA).

“The violation of the duty of care has also caused major financial, personal and social problems for many participating citizens and their environment,” read the letter. “The examples of this are numerous and unfortunately underexposed to date.”

“A dangerous precedent”

The letter said Bill 55 was a violation of the Recast Brussels Regulation. This is the EU law which handles legal judgements between member states.

However, the MGA defended the law from this point last week, pointing to a section of the law which grants an exemption if it does not match the principles of its legal system.

The letter also argued Bill 55 represents an “interference within the independent judiciary and legislature” of the Netherlands, as well as Malta.  

“After all, attempts are being made to make it impossible for Maltese judges to recognise and enforce judgments of Dutch, German and Austrian judges. A law like Bill 55 has no precedent in the EU. This law would therefore set a dangerous precedent.

“We call on the Dutch government to stand up for the interests of this group of Dutch people and to ensure, via the European Commission, that Malta does not continue with the contempt of the rule of law enshrined in the EU treaties.”

Bill 55 dispute heats up

Following its passage, the law has faced criticism from politicians and regulators in Europe, with many arguing it is ultimately incompatible with European law.

Last month, the European Commission said it would seek to scrutinise Bill 55, in written responses from an anti-gambling German politician MEP, Sabine Verheyen.

This was followed in August with the German gambling regulator, the GGL, which argued in a written statement that Bill 55 was not in line with EU law.

PointsBet expects to break even in mid-2024 following US business sale

In its full year results ended 30 June 2023, ASX-listed PointsBet generated net revenue of AU$383.1m ($248.1m/€227.4m/£195.3m). This was up 7.6% year-on-year. Revenue from continuing operations – removing the US business it sold to Fanatics for $225.0m earlier this year – was up from AU$195.4m to AU$210.3m.

Looking ahead to 2024, PointsBet said it expects total net win to be 10%-20% higher than FY23. Without the cashflow requirements for fuelling growth in the US, it expects EBITDA to be at or close to break even from April 2024.

Total turnover for all operations was up 15% to AU$5.7bn, with continuing operations minus the US up 11% to AU$2.8bn.

Chairman Brett Paton and CEO Sam Swanell said the group intends to build on its “strategically important place” in Australia. They aim to grow its online share in this market from a current 5% position with the benefit of a more focused approach from a people, tech and product perspective.

“We are equally excited in the outlook for our Canadian business,” they said. “The Canadian business provides shareholders continued exposure to the North American Market through a jurisdiction that is more attractive than most US states.

“The lower capital requirements and higher operating margins benefited from lower gaming tax relative to most US states create strong prospects for attractive future economics with additional provinces going live over the next two year. Our technology is a real competitive advantage in both markets.

“We believe the early stage of the Canadian business complements our more mature Australian business.”

Marketing expenses set to drop

PointsBet’s total net win was up 26% to AU$391.1m, with continuing operations up 7% to AU$230.0m. Within that, sports betting from continuing operations was up 2.0% to AU$218.5m, with igaming at AU$11.5m.

Cost of sales in 2023 was AU$220.4m, with AU$104.6m from continuing operations. Gross profit stood at AU$162.7m, with continuing operations at AU$105.7m.

Total operating expenses of AU$394.1m included AU$154.7m from continuing operations. PointsBet expected to drop to less than AU$60m in 2024 following the sale of the US business.

The AU$90.3m spent on sales and marketing in Australia and Canada is set to drop by up to 20% in 2024. PointsBet reported a negative EBITDA of AU$230.6m for 2023, with AU$49.0m of that coming from its continuing operations.

“Significant growth”

In total, PointsBet generated turnover of AU$194.8m and revenue of AU$18.2m during its first full year of trading in Canada. It saw “significant growth” in sports betting net win to AU$6.8m.

Net win for igaming was at AU$11.5m in Canada, for total net win of AU$18.3m with 30,423 cash active clients. Total sportsbook turnover in Canada was AU$194.8m, which was driven by North American sports and the Fifa World Cup.

Australian turnover increased 4% to AU$2.6bn compared to the previous year, with sports turnover increasing by 47%. That offset declines in racing turnover.

Finlandia rebrands as Winlandia ahead of European expansion

The group has also announced that it will be among the first to apply for a gambling licence in Finland ahead of government plans to end Veikkaus’ monopoly by 2026. It has been operational in the Finnish market through its Malta Gaming Authority licence since 2014.

Winlandia said the rebrand will help it expand its presence in core regulated markets across Europe, including the UK, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. In the longer term it is also to seek entry in Canada and New Zealand.

The group added in a statement: “Winlandia plans to stand out from its rivals by tailoring the player experience it offers across games, payments, bonuses and customer service in each market, delivered with a playful Nordic twist and the Finnish Sisu.

“The decision to rebrand from Finlandia Casino came from a desire to expand internationally, but also to keep pace with the decision to dissolve the gambling monopoly in Finland and open the market to other licensed operators over the coming years.”

Winlandia international growth

The business said the decision to enter new markets was in part driven by sign-ups from markets outside of its home nation.

Christoffer Grönlund, head of acquisitions and PR at Winlandia, said: “We are so excited to have rebranded to Winlandia and to take our amazing casino experience to more markets such as the UK, Sweden, Norway and Denmark in the first phase. In the second phase, we will enter Canada and New Zealand.”

In June, the new Finnish government announced it was committed to ending the current monopoly system for gambling in favour of a licensing model, “no later than 2026”. The government said the aim of reform is to prevent the financial and social harm of gambling. A licensing model would improve the country’s channelisation rate to legal offerings.

Earlier this week, state-owned Veikkaus reiterated its support for the introduction of a licensing model for gambling, as the business reported its H1 results.

“The most important thing is that more gambling can be channeled into licensed offerings than before and we think that the licence system best supports this goal and the development of more responsible gambling,” said Veikkaus CEO, Olli Sarekoski, introducing the H1 report.

Codere Online ups outlook following Mexican growth

In a trading update for the three months to 30 June 2023, the Spain and Latin America-focused online gaming business saw a double-digit rise in net gaming revenue and decreased losses.

Impressive figures from Mexico and Spain led to an increase in net gaming revenue outlook for 2023 to €150m-160m. Adjusted EBITDA is now expected to be between €15m-25m, with the group targeting EBITDA and cash flow positivity for the full-year in 2024.

Total revenue was up 35% year-on-year to €37.1m with net gaming revenue up 34% at €39.1m. Codere Online now has 125,800 active monthly players, which is up 20% on Q2 2022.

Mexico replaced Spain as the group’s biggest market as it grew 51% to €18.0m in net gaming revenue. Active players in the Central American country now total 49,000 per month, which is up 54%.

Net gaming revenue in Spain was up 24% to €17.7m, with an 11% leap in active players to 40,700.

While Codere Online saw a drop in revenue within its small Colombia division, its other markets were up 40% to €1.4m.

Codere builds on Q1 momentum

Adjusted EBITDA was negative €4.5m in Q2, which was an improvement on the €9.9m loss during the same period in 2022.

While expenses were up compared to the prior period they were down compared to the revenue generated. Marketing was the biggest outgoing at €19.1m, which was 48.8% of Q2 2023 revenue compared to 66.2% in Q2 2022.

Net loss was €1.7m versus a net loss of €6.7m in Q2 2022. The group’s total cash position was over €45m at the end of the period compared to €49m at the end of Q1.

Chief executive Aviv Sher said: “We’re glad to present a strong set of second quarter results and to continue building upon the momentum from the first quarter.

“Our net gaming revenue grew 34% to €39m, in line with the level from the first quarter despite the seasonal decline in sporting events. Our casino product, which has been a strategic priority for some time, contributed 54% of our revenue in the period.

“Mexico posted impressive top line growth of 51% in the second quarter, reaching €18.0m and surpassing Spain for the first time since launching operations in the country. In Spain, net gaming revenue grew by an equally impressive 24% to €17.5m.”

Nevada posts record monthly win in July

Figures released by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, show total gaming win posted by casinos and sportsbooks was up 6.7% on July 2022. Nevada’s gaming sector has now generated gaming win of more than $1bn for 29 consecutive months.

The figures were driven by the state’s second-highest table game revenue total for a single month at $513.1m. This was up more than 7% year-on-year.

Revenues on the Las Vegas Strip came to almost $834.9m, up by 7.9% compared to the same period in 2022 and an increase of 14.8% on the $727.3m reported during June.

July’s revenues were an all-time record for the Las Vegas Strip, outperforming the previous record of $792.6m set in July 2021.

Nevada sports betting operators reported $25.3m in revenue, representing an increase of 55.7% compared to July 2022. Mobile and online betting accounted for 65.7% of all sports wagers during the month.

Wagering activity on sports is down by 7.7% for the first seven months of 2023 while revenues are down by 13.3% for the same period.

Gaming revenue for the first seven months of 2023 is up 4.1% year-on-year putting the state on track to beat last year’s record revenue total of $14.8bn for the calendar year.

Nevada collected $95.8m in percentage fees based on the taxable revenues generated during the month.

NZ parties clash over offshore gambling revenue

The New Zealand Labour Party – currently in government – has hit back at National Party claims it will fund its spending plans in part by forcing offshore gambling operators to pay more in tax should it be elected. The election is to be held on 14 October.

Introducing its NZ$14.6bn ($8.7bn/€8.0bn/£6.8bn) tax relief plan, National contended it can raise NZ$179m per year from offshore operators.

National Party deputy leader Nicola Willis said this would be done by “closing a tax loophole and ensuring offshore operators delivering online gambling to New Zealanders, pay tax.”

Willis told reporters that the goods and services tax (GST) is not currently being collected from the entire black market. National would force online casino operators to register and report their earnings.

Services that did not comply would be affected by IP geoblocking. Willis also said her figures include additional corporate taxes and casino fees.

Labour slams National Party’s estimates

Labour said estimates of the size of the market are based on studies by TAB and Lotto. It added that GST raises less than NZ$40m per year.

Barbara Edmonds, Labour’s revenue and internal affairs spokesperson, said: “Contrary to National’s fiscal plan, there is no ‘tax loophole’ on online gambling from offshore.

“We also challenge National to provide the costings for the claim that an average of NZ$179m per year could generate revenue of NZ$716m over the forecast period.

“As [National’s revenue spokesperson] Andrew Bayly knows, in the seven years since GST has been collected, only a total of NZ$170m has come from online casinos.”

New Zealand has collected GST at a rate of 15% on services and intangibles supplied remotely by an offshore supplier since October 2016. Among those charged are remote gambling service providers who make more than NZ$60,000 annually from New Zealanders.

New Zealand gambling policy

Labour’s racing spokesperson, Kieran McAnulty, also said that National’s fiscal plan risks double-counting other revenue currently raised from offshore operators.

“Offshore platforms who offer gambling on sports and race fixtures currently pay a point of consumption charge of around NZ$4m per annum, that is returned to the sports and racing codes in New Zealand for community benefit and harm minimisation efforts,” McAnulty said.

“It is sad to see that National is not making any provision for harm minimisation work to address problem gambling in their plan for taxing offshore platforms. They also need to clarify if their plan means the community and sports funding will now be scrapped in order to pay for tax cuts.”

BetMGM takes GameSense responsible gambling campaign to NFL stadiums

Las Vegas Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium is among the venues where the gaming group is to promote its campaign. GameSense, which MGM introduced in 2017, focuses on positive and proactive conversations about how to gamble responsibly.

In addition, MGM Resorts and BetMGM have announced a commitment to spend more than $1m annually to fund a variety of responsible gaming initiatives. This includes research, advocacy, prevention, marketing and organisational support.

“This is an extraordinary moment as we work with our team partners to raise awareness about responsible gaming,” said Rhea Loney, BetMGM’s chief compliance officer.

“Throughout the season, GameSense will play a pivotal role in reminding football fans who bet, to do so responsibly.”

Safe and enjoyable experience

The campaign will also be promoted at the home of reigning champions Kansas City Chiefs as well as those of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans and Arizona Cardinals. BetMGM has partnerships with all nine teams and is also an NFL authorised gambling operator.

GameSense was first developed and licensed to MGM Resorts in 2017 by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC).

Stephen Martino, senior vice-president and chief compliance officer at MGM Resorts, said: “The landscape of the gaming industry has evolved dramatically in recent years with the broad legalisation of online gambling and sports betting.

“Collaboration among operators and stakeholders is essential to ensure that responsible gaming remains a top priority. These efforts are vital to giving guests, customers, employees and companies the tools and information needed for a safe and enjoyable experience.”

The announcement comes ahead of the new NFL season, which begins on 7 September. It is also tied with this September’s American Gaming Association-backed Responsible Gaming Education Month.

Bet365 grabs Arizona licence

On Tuesday, the Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) announced it had authorised Bet365 for an event wagering licence through a market access agreement with the Ak-Chin Indian Community, a federally recognised tribe and one of the state’s 20 licence holders.

This marks the seventh state in which Bet365 has received a licence. The operator is already live in Ohio, Virginia, New Jersey, Iowa and Colorado.

Also on Tuesday, Bet365 announced it had begun its pre-registration period in Kentucky with an eye towards a 28 September launch. This comes after receiving a temporary licence to operate in the Bluegrass State the week prior.

Bet365 will take the place of Fubo Sportsbook, which had previously operated in the state through Ak-Chin’s licence. In October 2022, the streaming provider announced it would be closing its sportsbook with immediate effect.

The rise of Bet365?

The Denise Coates-led operator has long been considered the dog which didn’t bark in its lack of involvement in the US sports betting boom.

However, five years on from the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) by the Supreme Court, this appears to be changing.

In Ohio, the business reported it received the third highest revenue in July 2023, beating out both BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook, the third and fourth highest earning sportsbooks by US revenue respectively.  

Remaining licences unfilled

The ADG had initially been seeking three new operators to launch in the state after announcing it would be accepting new applications on 30 June. In addition to the one remaining tribal licence, this includes two licences available through partnership with an Arizona sports team.

Another licence may also be open soon. This follows the closure of Wynn Resorts-operated WynnBet in eight states including Arizona. The operator received its licence in 2021 through a partnership with the San Carlos Apache Tribal Gaming Enterprise.