State of the Union: A look back at the week that was in North America

NJ senator proposes online gaming tax hike

New Jersey Senator John McKeon has filed a bill that would increase the tax on online casino and digital sports betting platforms to 30%. Online casinos currently pay a 15% state tax, while sports betting platforms pay 13% of gross gaming revenue. The bill is one line, and does not include an effective date or argument for the proposed change.

New Jersey law requires that online casinos and sportsbooks be tethered to brick-and-mortar locations, including casinos and horse racetracks. There are currently 30 online casinos and 18 digital sportsbooks.

In general, sportsbook operators are most comfortable with a tax rate of 10% or less. A 30% tax on sports betting would move New Jersey from one of the most favorable places to do business to one of the least.

Of the nearly 40 US jurisdictions that offer legal online sports betting, nine have a tax rate of about 15%, and of those nine, three are states where the lottery is the regulator. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine last summer spearheaded a doubling of the tax rate on wagering there, raising it from 10% to 20%.

Wagering platforms off to hot start in North Carolina

North Carolinians welcomed betting and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament by wagering $198.1m in the first full week of digital sports betting, which coincided with the start of March Madness.

During that first week, sportsbook betting platforms had gross wagering revenue of $42.7m, and paid the state $7.7m in tax revenue, the North Carolina Lottery’s sport betting department shared at a meeting 26 March.

“I think people liked the ability to wager in North Carolina on sports,” deputy executive director for compliance and sports betting Sterl Carpenter understated.

Duke, North Carolina and NC State all made the field of 64 and advanced to the Sweet 16, but 1-seed North Carolina was denied a trip to the Elite 8 with a 89-87 loss to 4-seed Alabama. NC State, an 11-seed, is the highest seed still alive in the tournament. GeoComply previously reported 5.4 million location checks in the first 48 hours of live betting.

MGC weighs limits for sports betting platforms

After a Wall Street Journal story exploring credit and VIP customers in sports betting ran 27 March, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission 28 March began a discussion about placing limits on bets that can be placed at sportsbooks and how operators target VIPs and those who are at risk.

Commissioner Eileen O’Brien also said that she would like to see the answers that any sports betting platforms in Massachusetts provided to US Senator Richard Blumenthal, who requested information from operators. Blumenthal is also sponsoring the GRIT Act, which would redirect 50 percent of the federal excise tax on sportsbooks and send it to problem and responsible gambling programs.

Also in Massachusetts this week, a public-private consortium announced that it will begin to explore ways to raise awareness about how wagering can harm young people and the risks associated with gambling, according to the Boston Herald.

The ultimate goal, according to a press release from Attorney General Andrea Campbell’s office, is to create an “evidence-based education, training, and health curriculum targeted at middle school, high school, and college-aged young people.”

Athletes sound off on sports betting

Jayson Tatum keeping it light on the court and in the parlays! Don’t worry, he’s got your back!#jaysontatum #BostonCeltics #celtics #sportsbetting #BETTING #NBA #nbanews #nbabasketball

— EssentiallySports (@es_sportsnews) March 28, 2024

North Carolina center Armando Bacot was asked about sports betting at the Tar Heels’ NCAA presser in Los Angeles Wednesday, ahead of Thursday’s March Madness Sweet 16 game

— Langston Wertz Jr. (@langstonwertzjr) March 28, 2024

Two new appointees coming to NICG

US Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced 25 March the proposed appointments of Sharon Avery and Jeannie Hovland as associate commissioners for the National Indian Gaming Commission, which supports tribal economic development and self-sustainability in Indian Country.

Avery, a member of Michigan’s Saginaw Chippewa Tribe, is currently associate general counsel for the NIGC, and Hovland, a member of South Dakota’s Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, is vice chair of the NIGC. The appointments are open for a 30-day public comment period, after which they will become final.

The NIGC in February lost its chairman, Sequoyah Simermeyer, when he abruptly resigned and less than a week later was introduced as a vice president for strategic partnerships at FanDuel.

NCAA on proposal to ban college-athlete prop bets

Good to see exMassGov @CharlieBakerMA @NCAA now recognized the inherent harm of College Sports-Betting to athletes & the public! @MassGamingComm@massteacher @BTU66 @NUSL @MassCasinoWatch

— Wynn-Encore Boston Casino Oversight (not WynnLV) (@revokewynn) March 28, 2024


Georgia lawmakers fail to legalise sports betting as session closes

Unwinding the sports betting disaster in DC and what comes next

FanDuel the driver of Flutter’s ‘tremendous’ North American success

IGA executive director: Tribes will drive California wagering

Ohtani: ‘I never bet’ or ‘willfully’ wired money to bookie

Downstate NY casino license decision not expected until 2025

PGAM 2024: How is the industry raising RG standards?

Following the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018, gambling fever has swept large sections of the US, with 40 jurisdictions since taking up the option to offer legal wagering. 

The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) launched PGAM in 2003 with the aim of raising awareness on the issue. Since its inception, and particularly post-PASPA, the event has marked an important month in the calendar in the fight for responsible gambling (RG). 

Chrissy Thurmond, head of RG relations at DraftKings, hails the influence of PGAM in helping the gambling industry to combat irresponsible play. 

“One of the things that has been really beneficial for the whole industry to see is the impact that PGAM has had across the board, not only with operators, but with academics, with clinicians, with people who engage in the online space in particular,” Thurmond explains.  

“Across the US, I think the knowledge about PGAM and the information around PGAM has really gotten to a place that is quite embraced and people look forward to really engaging with that across the US.” 

This year’s edition also marked something of a milestone for the industry. On Wednesday (27 March), Thurmond’s DraftKings was among seven leading North American operators to join forces and launch the Responsible Online Gaming Association (ROGA).  

DraftKings, along with fellow giants such as FanDuel and Fanatics Betting & Gaming, is committing upwards of $20m (£15.8m/€18.5m) over the first year to support ROGA’s aims of promoting best RG practices and education on the topic. Jennifer Shatley, an RG pioneer who worked on Caesars’ first responsible gambling programme in the late 80s, serves as executive director. 

The beginnings of the gaming expansion backlash 

Not everybody is effusive in their support for ROGA and, as betting availability increases across the US, so does the criticism of the industry.

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling (CFG), for instance, is questioning whether ROGA will make attempts to support the Gambling addiction Recovery, Investment and Treatment (GRIT) act, which aims to allocate 50% of preexisting sports betting excise tax towards problem gambling help. 

A CFG tweet describes ROGA as a “desperate response” to mounting media pressure on operators to do more in the fight for RG. This forms part of a wider backlash from the pressure group looking to slow the pace of gaming expansion, involving targeted press criticism similar to reform campaigners in Great Britain.  

Its ultimate goal appears to be a push for federal oversight, in spite of PASPA’s repeal ultimately making sports betting a states’ rights issue.  

To accept CFG’s arguments is to accept the industry simply can’t do enough to protect its consumers. However, there is a concerted effort, spanning multiple operators, to ensure a higher level of protection.  

Stigma putting the brakes on RG progress 

First, it’s important to consider the challenges operators face in reducing gambling harms. Perhaps the highest obstacle to overcome in terms of US problem gambling is the stigma surrounding the issue. For all of the heightened awareness, levels of problem gambling won’t alleviate if player attitudes aren’t changing towards the adoption of RG tools designed to help players betting beyond their means.

One of the dominant viewpoints raised is that RG tools are seen as only applicable for those with a problem, as opposed to all players utilising them to maintain an entertaining outlook on gambling, rather than a hobby that can get out of hand to financial and personal detriment. 

Rachel Gundy, head of product at Betr, says: “How we’ve historically talked, particularly in the US, is that responsible gambling has been used to refer to problem play.   

“It’s important that we start to reframe or rebrand responsible gaming and player protection so that it means a toolkit and a strategy for everyone, wherever you fall on the spectrum of risk.” 

Rise in awareness a positive

For Jessica Feil, vice president of regulatory affairs and compliance at OpenBet, the rise in awareness of the dangers of problem gambling in the US can only be a good thing as players move from the “shadows” of the black market into regulated play. 

“We’ve seen the biggest expansion of gambling in US history and that has led us to a lot of information and learning a lot about the levels of problem gambling in the US,” Feil says. 

Data pushed by reformists suggests there is a rise in unhealthy gambling behaviours. However, Feil argues this misrepresents the issue.  

“We’re seeing more prevalence of [problem gambling]. Not because there is more prevalence, but because we’re identifying it better, and that’s a good thing because that means we can then take the next step as an industry to get people help and resources that might not have been available to them before.” 

State collaboration can ensure national coverage 

The strongest gambling regulatory regimes in the world largely have overarching rules across entire populations. But the bigger the market the more difficult these are to impose, especially in the US’ framework of 50 sub-jurisdictions.

That may suggest an absence of more comprehensive measures, bringing a number of complexities to the surface. 

Gundy and Feil both highlight the lack of a national self-exclusion list, meaning those who live near borders and self-exclude can often simply cross a state line and gamble somewhere else. 

Betr has its own solution to that problem, however “Betr takes a hard line, so if you are excluded in one state, we exclude you nationally,” Gundy explains. But that’s not mandated by regulations, and it’s an area where states could work together more effectively to protect vulnerable users she suggests.  

Feil adds there is a vast array of different helplines designed to help problem gamblers in their time of need. 

“When you see an advertisement for sports betting on TV or something here in the States, you might see 12,13,14 different numbers for help,” she says.  

Progress is being made, through the 1-800-GAMBLER helpline. Operated by NCPG, 1-800-GAMBLER now covers all 50 states and US territories and generally recognised as the national helpline number for problem gambling in the US. 

All about the evidence: The need for further research 

jess feil of openbet is calling for more research on problem gambling in the us

But these solutions are targeting a problem without fully understanding its scope.  

The Gambling Survey for Great Britain (GSGB) was partly designed to ascertain the levels of problem gambling in Great Britain. In other European countries such as Germany and France, extensive surveys have been carried out to establish the number of black market players. 

In the US, though, the NCPG has carried out just two national surveys on gambling attitudes and experiences since 1999. The last came in 2021 and it’s currently unclear when its next research will take place.  

In Thurmond’s view, this is an area that needs rectifying if the US is to fully clarify how common problem gambling is. “Research is a core tenet of a responsible gaming programme and I think supporting research is imperative,” she says. “It’s one of the ways that we are going to be able to understand and glean valuable insights to what is actually happening in the US. 

“We really feel that, in order for us to have an impact and move the needle, we need to be doing what we say we’re doing, which is supporting evidence-based research and supporting the researchers that do that hard work.” 

Research provides the foundation

Gundy believes research on the number of problem gamblers will provide the platform to really drive RG efforts in the US. However, she also feels there should be further studies into aspects such as early education, the effectiveness of specific RG tools and how operators can best communicate with gamblers to drive the most engagement with players. 

For Feil, this research “helps us understand prevalence. It helps us understand trends. It helps us understand who’s most vulnerable and the best ways to support them and help people when they need it. 

“But at the same time, we need to know that they’re effective and that we’re reaching the right people. So, more research is going to continue to be really important so that we can get better at quickly identifying that problem gamblers are getting the support they need.” 

How are companies tackling the problem gambling issue? 

Betr, DraftKings and OpenBet are among the US gambling companies hoping to lead the way in the fight for a safer gambling environment for players, with all three running initiatives to combat problem play. 

DraftKings, for example, has engaged in two RG-driven moves within PGAM alone, looking to help players better analyse their play and overcome the issue it sees in players not having easy access to RG tools. 

The first saw the launch of its My Stat Sheet tool, a resource designed to clearly outline players’ habits and help them to make data-driven decisions in regards to RG. The second was the expansion of its link with Kindbridge Behavioral Health, which will provide clinical help to bettors facing problems. 

Thurmond explains the importance of the two deals in DraftKings’ aim to spearhead the fight for RG. “We feel that this has really planted the flag in the environment so that we have been able to set the standard and really set the pace so that our peers across the industry will join and engage with us.” 

Suppliers take the lead on RG

While OpenBet is a supplier rather than an operator it is taking an active role in reducing gambling harms. Last June it acquired responsible gambling, anti-money laundering (AML) and fraud detection technology specialist Neccton as it bids to expand its RG efforts by overcoming the lack of research on the topic to make it easier to identify problem play. 

Europe-based Neccton has been operational for over 15 years. Feil trusts that experience will prove hugely beneficial to OpenBet’s key company pillars of protecting players, especially in the US. 

“The best thing about it is that Neccton is all driven by academic research and evidence,” Feil says. “You can identify trends and sort of spot what the trouble issues are going to be and start working with them to make sure that they stay on the safe side and make sure it stays entertaining for them. 

“The product has been live in Europe for over a decade. And we’ve been working to educate US regulators and the US industry about the power here and what we could do and how much we can do to really make RG a normal part of player behaviour.”

Embedding RG in onboarding

For Betr, co-founded by influencer Jake Paul, the operator is aware of its particular appeal to younger audiences and has subsequently taken action to safeguard that potentially vulnerable sector since its inception in 2022. 

For instance, Betr prompts all users to turn on RG tools during onboarding, and for those aged 21-25, a monthly deposit limit is set automatically when joining. Bettors are prohibited from using credit cards, while the operator leverages its media arm to push player protection efforts. 

Betr’s efforts are working to some effect, too, with a third of its user base actively using RG tools, showing that stigma can be overcome, especially among younger bettors, by simplifying access. 

Additionally, Gundy explains the advantages of Betr’s recent deal with Birches Health, where players can use a direct link via the settings section of the operator’s app to access betting limits, RG resources and a connection with professional support. 

“It was an opportunity for a really fruitful partnership where if you need to get off this app, we want to get you off the app and get you help,” Gundy outlines. 

Innovation and collaboration can drive RG progress 

Technology is key tool in how companies can identify problem play in a more efficient manner while meeting players in a familiar online environment. 

However, both Gundy and Feil believe there is still potential for technology usage to improve further to help combat problem gambling. 

“We’ve fallen into a historical bias where we’ve had a standard set of tools for a long time,” Gundy says. “We’ve failed to ask the question of if they are still the right tools even though our audience has changed.” 

Feil adds: “It’s a learning process for every company and something we’re constantly inspecting. I think beyond just sort of taking and bolting on these new technologies and things like that, it’s about going back to your core technologies and saying, ‘Right, what does and doesn’t work?’” 

How can operators work together? 

Any successful RG strategy spread across a nation as vast as the US requires collaboration between gambling companies to piece together a safe environment for players to enjoy betting. 

This is an area where Thurmond is of the opinion that real progress has been made, with would-be competitors working towards a common goal, much in the way that ROGA will attempt to do. 

On education, though, efforts must be stepped up between operators in Gundy’s view. 

“The awareness for gambling has risen, but our early education efforts have really remained flat, specifically around player protection,” she declares. 

“So, for me personally, this is an operator call to action where we need to find ways to be advocates and partners with the regulator to drive these early education efforts.” 

“Little steps” of progress 

While Thurmond, Gundy and Feil all agree that progress has been made on RG in the US, they are under no illusions that it’s a constantly evolving process in which there’s still work to be done. 

For Thurmond, technology is set to be the area in which DraftKings focuses its efforts. 

“I do think that DraftKings are innovators,” Thurmond concludes. “I think it will be ever evolving, but I’m really optimistic about the future.  

“I’m really hopeful and very positive in the way the US is taking a look at responsible gaming and incorporating it and I’m looking forward to seeing how innovative we can get.” 

Feil believes every company can always do better, but acknowledged progress can only be made in “little steps”. 

Optimism seems to be high among US gambling companies in the fight against problem gambling, even at a time when the industry faces its first backlash.  

By the time PGAM rolls around again in just over 11 months, there’s a belief that those “little steps” Feil referenced will have been made to further protect vulnerable players with movements such as ROGA.  

Georgia lawmakers fail (again) to legalise sports betting

In fact, the package of bills that got through the Senate in less than three weeks never even got in front of the full House for consideration.

Two amended legal sports betting bills — a constitutional amendment and enabling legislation — got out of the House Higher Education Committee early Thursday morning, though sources say the committee had the votes to move the package the previous night. That left about 15 hours to negotiate a deal before the session ended, but the Rules Committee — which met at least three times Thursday — declined to consider the bills.

This was the fourth consecutive session during which Georgia lawmakers could not come to a consensus and the second time legal wagering became a political football.

In 2021, state Democrats pulled their support after Republicans passed a controversial voting rights bill. This year, the Republicans again got close, but apparently could not compromise enough on other issues to draw in the Democrats needed to get the two-thirds majority required to pass a constitutional amendment in the House, though they did in the Senate.

Constitutional amendment had richest PG/RG funding in US

Negotiations continued throughout the day, sources said, but as the day progressed, it became clear that there were two distinct camps of thought in Atlanta, and the odds of whether or not legal sports betting would get to a vote depended heavily on which camp was sharing information.

“While this was one of the closer attempts of Georgia getting a constitutional amendment done, the actual vote total won’t be known unless you bring all the liars to the table,” gambling consultant Brendan Bussmann of Las Vegas-based B Global told iGB. “It’s unfortunate that some legislators trust the voters to vote them back into office but do not trust them to have that same opportunity at the ballot box to allow this additional form of entertainment at the Peach State.”

Legalized sports betting rears its head once more in Georgia. Will it ever come to pass? via @GeorgiaRecorder

— John Cole (@ColeToon) March 28, 2024

The constitutional amendment, SR 579, was amended Thursday morning to include the richest problem and responsible gambling earmarks in the country — 15% of tax revenue, capped at $22.5m per year.

Sources say that had the resolution reached the floor, a second amendment would have been offered. That one would have cut the problem and responsible gambling funds to 5% of tax revenue and changed where other funds were headed.

“I am impressed to see the state commit meaningful time, attention and funding to preventing and addressing problem gambling services if sports betting were to ultimately come to the Peach State,” responsible gaming advocate Brianne Doura-Schawohl told iGB before it was clear that wagering would not get a House vote.

“Historically, Georgia has ranked one of the lowest in the nation as it pertains to their per capita contributions to this important public health issue. Georgia, with this amendment, now surpasses the 38 states plus Washington D.C. in their contributions to problem gambling from legalized sports betting.”

Minnesota, Missouri could still legalise

Many stakeholders considered Georgia to be the industry’s best shot at adding a new legal wagering state in 2024. Twelve states have yet to leaglise, including two of Georgia’s neighbors, Alabama and South Carolina.

Winning STL: Why legalized sports betting would help Missouri and the Cardinals
[but what about harm to the people?]

— Tim McBride (@mcbridetd) March 20, 2024

Lawmakers in Minnesota are still considering multiple bills that would legalise, but don’t have the full support of the state’s tribes. And if an initiative backed by the professional sports teams gets on the ballot in November, Missourians could have a chance to legalise wagering as well.

GST leaves India out of its depth

Dust off your time machine and travel back to 1867, when India’s Public Gaming Act was enacted.

This piece of legislation regulated some forms of gambling with extremely strict parameters. It legalised lotteries and horse racing but banned the operation of public gaming houses. At the time, anyone caught running a public gaming house faced a fine of ₹200.

Obviously, the original legislation couldn’t have taken online gaming into account. This left the practice in a state of uncertainty, despite a ready-and-waiting base of gambling and sports fans.

In more recent years, attempts have been made to legalise both online gambling and sports betting. In 2016, the Supreme Court backed calls for legalised betting, referring to India’s penchant for cricket as a driver.

During the same year, a Special Committee of the Government of Nagaland was considering legislation known as the Nagaland Bill. This bill outlined how online gambling, and specifically online games of skill, would be regulated in India. 

Defining online gaming

The Nagaland Bill was signed into law in April 2016 by PB Acharya, the state’s governor. Since then, online gaming has mostly been regulated on a state-by-state basis.

SROs play a critical role, according to Dr Aruna Sharma

Fast forward to the present day, and a concerted effort is being made to classify online gaming into distinct categories in India.

Online games of skill represent games where bets are placed and won through skill rather than luck. These include rummy, which was identified as a game of skill in 1968. Games of chance, meanwhile, cover all other types of legal gambling in India.

Having a clear definition between games of chance and games of skill is critical for operating legally in the country. This is where Self-Regulatory Organisations (or Bodies, known as SROs or SRBs) come in.

SROs were established under the amended IT Rule 2023. This aimed to introduce a joint regulatory system between the IT Ministry and SROs, wherein industry bodies – not just one government regulator – would have the power to define games. The industry, then, would be afforded more flexibility and control.

“The Self-Regulatory Organisations formed under the guidelines of IT Rule 2023 have a major role to play in establishing these parameters,” explains economist and former Indian government official, Dr Aruna Sharma.

“SROs are already formulated and have their code of conduct in place to move towards responsive gaming.”

SROs are compelled to create a framework in which users have access to gambling harm prevention information. The organisations must also set up know your customer (KYC) checks, be based in India and have a complaints process in place.

Pause here for a moment and we can see that India’s online gaming market has been developing slowly but surely. But it can’t be smooth sailing forever.

Fairytale comes to an abrupt end

Enter the dreaded 28% GST flat tax on turnover for online gambling, casino and horse race betting. India’s GST Council announced the move in July last year to much ire. Industry bodies such as the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) condemned the tax rate as potentially stunting the regulated market.

And the criticism was well placed. Operator Super Group, which owns sportsbook brand Betway and online casino brand Spin, exited the Indian market last October in response to the GST announcement.

Ravindra Shinde, CEO of Dyutabhumi Hotel and Resorts, agrees that the rate is extraordinarily high – even more so when measured against rates in other countries.

The 28% GST looks even higher when compared to other countries, says Ravindra Shinde

“That’s why international operators mostly don’t take an interest in investing in India regarding the gambling sector, because the government charges very high taxes compared to the gambling taxes in Singapore, Macau and other states,” Shinde explains.

For online operators and horse racing, GST would be applied to the full value of the bet placed rather than the gross gaming revenue (GGR). For land-based operators, the tax would be applied to the face value of chips purchased at each retail venue.

Lower the 28% tax rate and, according to Shinde, India’s gambling industry would be enhanced.

“At present, the 28% is not feasible for international operators,” he says. “If the government reduces the taxes, then gambling would be very profitable in India.”

Money money money

Except for the small fact that it won’t be profitable. This is because India’s tax authorities are currently working to implement the 28% GST on online gaming operators retroactively, even going as far as issuing show-cause notices to real-money operators, crying GST evasion.

According to local media these show-cause notices, which reference alleged GST evasion dating back to 2018, total ₹1tn (£9.45bn/€11.06bn/$12.05bn).

It’s a development that has left the industry stunned according to Sharma, although events of next week could offer a glimmer of hope.

On 2 April, a hearing will be held at the supreme court. If all goes to plan, the GST rate will be challenged during the session – just like it has been challenged at the High Court of States.

Media reports in January stated that the supreme court had heard pleas from Head Digital Works and Games 24/7, asking it to push back against the 28% GST decision. The central government and the GST Council were asked to submit their responses to the challenges within two weeks.

What might lie ahead?

Despite the ongoing battle over the GST, Sharma says that India’s gambling market is seeing a fair amount of growth and development.

“Currently, the igaming market in India is flourishing, with a significant rise in the number of players, igaming platforms and a remarkable increase in accessibility to smartphones and the internet,” she explains.

Sharma is hopeful for India’s online gaming market in 2024. For one, she predicts that it will grow in popularity, helped by “the fact that 60% of the hundred million mobile phones in India are smartphones”.

Hopes lie on the outcome of the 2 April hearing in the Supreme Court

“In that sense, you can expect a rising and strengthening user base,” she asserts.

But whatever way you consider India’s gambling market, GST is never too far away.

“Some 28% is a very high price for taxes, because any gambling company would want to invest the money [elsewhere],” adds Shinde. And he’s right. Super Group isn’t the only company to exit the Indian market – Bet365 also officially exited in October.

The battle against India’s extortionately high GST is at a critical crossroads. Challenges against the 28% tax rate – as well as the retrospective application – are with the country’s highest courts. It is now up to the industry to make a case for dramatically slicing the tax rate.

Slovaks place €21.4bn in bets over 2023 as online market surges

Martin Bohoš, director general of the regulator, stated players in Slovakia were paid €20.4bn in winnings. Contributions to the state rose by over €50m year-on-year to more than €301m.

In state contributions, the online levy accounted for €93m of the total, while fixed-odds bets were responsible for €80.48m. Land-based casinos, meanwhile, contributed €61.9m to the state.

The online market continues to dominate, with 90% of Slovaks preferring to bet online. For number lotteries, however, online betting accounts for just 14% of bets with Slovaks still preferring to play the lottery at land-based venues.

The tax rate for fixed-odds betting in Slovakia is 22% of gross gaming revenue (GGR) for online operators and 6% of turnover for land-based companies. For casino, meanwhile, the rate is again 22% for online operators. For land-based casinos, 27% of the GGR goes to the state while 3% goes to the municipality in which the casino is located.

Regulator looking to clamp down on illegal operators

Bohoš noted the ongoing challenges the Slovakia regulator is facing with illegal online operators. However, he also highlighted that statistics show the fight against illegal gambling has been “effective”, especially on technical devices such as quiz machines in pubs and other hospitality venues.

The battle with illegal operators stretches to online, too, with the regulator actively searching for online black-market operators, including loot boxes in computer games. The regulator has the power to place sanctions on advertising of illegal operators.

Bohoš outlined the risks of certain municipalities looking to ban gambling, saying such restrictive measures can drive players to the potentially harmful black market.  

“I would like this topic to be subject to a wider social discussion, because if someone feels that by banning legal gambling in the territory of a larger city, gambling will be dealt with, yes, legal gambling will be dealt with, but the risks of illegal gambling will remain high.”

In May 2023, the regulator announced it had conducted 2,511 inspections during Q1. This was 201 more than in the same quarter of 2022. Digital inspections shot up by 90% compared to Q1 2022.

Municipality restrictions expected to reduce land-based contributions

Though land-based casinos contributed €61.9m into the state budget over 2023, the regulator expects that figure to drop by up to 22% in 2025. This is because of the prohibitive regulations of certain municipalities.

Municipalities have the power to regulate gambling on their territory. These capabilities include the banning of land-based venues and other restrictions such as forbidding certain locations.

Bohoš also criticised Slovak cities and municipalities for not paying enough attention to the nation’s gambling agenda.

What products are available in Slovakia?

Sports betting, horse race betting, poker and casino are all regulated gambling products in Slovakia. Lottery and bingo, meanwhile, are reserved for the monopoly provider, state-owned Tipos.

Slovakia’s gambling law came into force on 1 March 2019. This allowed private operators outside of Slovakia to apply for sports betting and casino licences, though sports betting licences only became active on 1 July 2020.

In 2022, the country’s regulator published a whitelist of websites that are run by licenced operators in Slovakia.

Reduced spending helps Allied Gaming cut net loss in 2023

Revenue in the 12 months to 31 December 2023 was 15.6% higher at $7.4m (£5.9m/€6.9m). This, coupled with lower costs, allowed net loss at Allied to fall significantly.

The group operates three core divisions in Allied Esports International (AEI), Allied Mobile Entertainment (AME) and Allied Experiential Entertainment (AEE), with a core focus on the esports market.

Allied owns a series of global properties, runs live events and offers production services across the esports sector. It counts HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas as its flagship venue, while also running the Allied Esports Trucks 18-wheel mobile gaming arenas.

CEO Yinghua Chen praised the “substantial” progress Allied made during 2023. This includes the acquisition of a majority stake in mobile games developer Beijing Lianzhong Zhihe Technology, which completed in August.

This, Chen said, places Allied in a strong position for further growth in 2024 and beyond. 

“We made substantial progress during fiscal year 2023 and have entered fiscal year 2024 in a position of strength,” Chen said. “AEI, AME and AEE are all poised for growth as we execute on our strategic objectives this year.

“With Beijing Lianzhong Zhihe Technology now integrated into our business, AEE finalising events and expanding its presence in Asia and the continued demand we have for our AEI properties and content, we are extremely excited for the year ahead and very confident in our path forward.”

Allied net loss down to $3.6m

Taking a closer look at the 2023 results, in-person activities remained the primary source of revenue at $5.0m. This was level with the previous year.

Revenue growth was driven by other operations within the business. Multiplatform content revenue hiked 42.9% to $2.0m, while casual mobile gaming generated $698,522, whereas in the previous year this was not part of the Allied business.

As for spending, total costs and expenses across the business were 21.0% lower at $14.3m. This was helped by a 29.6% drop in general and administrative expenses – Allied’s main outgoing – to $7.6m. 

Lower spending resulted in a lower operating loss of $6.6m, compared to $11.8m in 2022. However, bottom line was improved by other income helping reduce overall loss.

Expense income reached $46,684, while interest income amounted to $3.0m. As such, this left Allied with a net loss of $3.6m, in contrast to the $10.8m loss posted in the previous year.

In addition, adjusted EBITDA loss improved from $8.6m in 2022 to $4.6m.

Positive end to 2023

Full-year growth was helped by a strong finish to 2023, with Q4 proving successful for Allied.

Revenue in Q4 was some 75.0% higher at $2.1m. Again, this was driven by the impact of the Beijing Lianzhong Zhihe Technology acquisition, with this generating an additional $698,522 in casual mobile gaming revenue.

Total costs and expenses were marginally higher year-on-year at $4.0m. However, revenue growth meant operating loss was reduced from $2.7m to $1.9m.

Other income totalled $30,730 and interest income $792,103. This resulted in a bottom-line net loss of $1.1m, an improvement on $1.7m in 2022.

As for adjusted EBITDA loss, this was reduced from $1.7m in the previous year to $1.2m.

Swedish regulator bans three operators

Newera Frozen PTE Limited and Aprodi Limited were banned on similar contraventions. Spelinspektionen discovered that both operators organised illegal “skin” lotteries for Swedish players.

These lotteries allow players to stake skins, which are collectable items that can be sold and purchased within video games. Skins also hold monetary value outside of the video games they belong to.

The regulator found that Newera Frozen PTE operated the site, while Aprodi operated Both sites offered different game modes for betting with skins. One of these was a game where players could place a bet with one skin to win a more valuable skin.

The sites were mainly marketed on video platforms such as YouTube and Twitch. Spelinspektionen noted that the marketing took the form of user-generated material. This meant that the operators commissioned it, but did not have control over the marketing’s contents.

Specifically targeted to Swedish players

In its decision notice, the regulator outlined how it classifies content as being targeted to Swedish players. It considers whether information on the site is in Swedish, if it has a .se domain, whether it uses a Swedish e-identification or payment service and if its affiliates have marketing material in Swedish.

In the case of and, the regulator found that both sites contained information in Swedish. The FAQ section on was in Swedish, and the site also used a Swedish payment company.

Meanwhile,’s terms and conditions were in Swedish, as was its affiliate marketing.

In response to the investigation, Newera Frozen PTE said it sells loot boxes, “which cannot be considered gambling”, meaning that it did not need an operating licence. The operator has since removed all Swedish text from its site and removed the Trustly payment service it had offered.

Ruling on both operators, Spelinspektionen said that Sweden’s Gambling Act applies to games where the win has economic value.

“… the Swedish Gaming Authority believes that the skins sold on the website should be considered to have a value in money,” it wrote. “The Gambling Act is thus applicable to the game in question.”

Galaktika NV also banned

The regulator also slapped unlicensed operator Galaktika NV with a ban for targeting Swedish players through Galaktika – which operates multiple sites, including, and – is registered in Curaçao.

The investigation into found that its affiliate marketing was in Swedish. In response to the investigation, Galaktika NV said it did not intentionally target Swedish customers. Instead, it said it outsources marketing to third-party organisations that target the European market.

The regulator ultimately ruled that Galaktika NV had infringed chapter 3, section 3 of the Gambling Act. This states that a licence is required to provide games in Sweden.

“The Swedish Gaming Authority believes that the company should still be considered to target the Swedish market by having affiliates who market their games to Swedish consumers via affiliate websites,” Spelinspektionen ruled. “Against this background, the Swedish Gambling Authority considers that Galaktika NV conducts gambling activities aimed at the Swedish market.

“Because they lack a licence to provide games in Sweden, the Swedish Gaming Authority decides to ban Galaktika NV from providing games in Sweden.”

Slew of fines

These latest rulings come after Spelinspektionen issued two landmark fines in recent weeks. On Monday this week, the regulator announced that it had hit Svenska Spel Sport & Casino, the digital arm of Svenska Spel, with a fine of SEK100m (£7.5m/€8.7m/$9.5m).

Svenska Spel Sport & Casino is alleged to have taken insufficient measures to combat harmful gambling, as well as not adequately performing player safety checks. The investigation into the company took place between October and December 2021.

Also on Monday, Yggdrasil was issued with a penalty fee of SEK300,000 for allegedly supplying software to a company not licensed to operate in Sweden.

Georgia committee passes wagering bill with most generous RG cutout in US

Today (28 March) Georgia’s General Assembly is set to adjourn by 11.59pm EST. The Higher Education Committee passed amended versions of SR 579 and SB 386, and the Rules Committee put the package on its agenda less than 30 minutes later, but has not yet sent it to the house floor.

Should the house pass the package, it would have to go back to the senate for concurrence or to a conference committee because the bills were amended.

The issue has been sitting in the Higher Education Committee for more than a month as lawmakers rallied support and massaged the bills to find a consensus. As recently as Wednesday (27 March) the proposals were laid over due to lack of support. It was not clear until the vote was called Thursday morning that there was a compromise.

By law, both chambers must pass the constitutional amendment by a two-thirds majority. Neither party has that majority, so bipartisan support is required.

15% of tax revenue headed to PG/RG programmes

SR 579 is a constitutional amendment that would send the decision to legalise statewide mobile wagering to voters in November and SB 386 is the enabling legislation.

Together, the bills would allow for up to 16 digital platforms and operators would be taxed at 25% of adjusted gross revenue. The bills do not allow for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks but do allow for the state’s professional sports teams to partner with sportsbooks.

The committee approved an amendment to SR 579 from bill sponsor Senator Bill Cowsert that would dedicate 15% of state tax revenue to a newly created “Responsible Gaming Fund” that would support “programmes and services that seek to prevent individuals from experiencing, and provide assistance to individuals who experience, addiction or other problems related to betting or gambling”.

According to the amendment, 15% of the first $150m in tax revenue would go to problem and responsible gambling programmes. The other 85% would be earmarked into an “Educational Opportunity Fund.”

Both bills passed by voice vote, but not without some detractors. Delegates Clay Pirkle and David Knight voiced concerns about legalising, saying that if the state says it is OK, then some people might try wagering when they would otherwise have not.

Pirkles said it was “his truth” not to support the bills and Knight said he “fundamentally disagrees” with the idea to legalise statewide mobile wagering.

IGA executive director confident of California sports betting with tribal help

Another attempt to legalise sports betting in California failed in January after two ballots aiming to grant tribes exclusive rights were scrapped following fierce tribal opposition in the state.

Eagle1 Acquisitions Corp, the group of backers for a proposition to legalise sports betting in California, had made several amendments to its ballot initiative in December in a bid to gain increased tribal support, however the efforts ultimately failed.

In response, the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) stated the failure should serve as a warning against future attempts to legalise sports betting in the state.

Jason Giles, Executive director of the indian gaming association, sees operator engagement with the tribes as a positive

However, Giles believes there could be more success when the next chance to launch a legalisation effort comes around in 2026, pointing to the 2027 Super Bowl in Los Angeles as a key reason to get a sports betting bill over the line before then.

“There is most certainly a path to online sports betting in California – and it starts with the tribes,” Giles told iGB ahead of the Indian Gaming Tradeshow and Convention, set to be hosted at the Anaheim Convention Centre in California between April 8-11. “I don’t think it is inevitable as some people have said recently, but we are seeing positive signs, such as the decision by FanDuel and DraftKings to engage with us at our tradeshow in Anaheim.

“We are not putting a timescale on when tribes will exercise their sovereign authority and look for that path forward with the state, commercial gaming, and the tribal community. It is more important to put measures in place that maintain the sustainability of our communities and the tribal gaming industry.”

2023 a crucial year for tribal sovereignty

2023 proved to be a key year in the tribal nations’ fight for sovereignty in the US as state governments looked to increase their control over Indian country.

Tribes earned a key victory during the summer as a federal appeals court reinstated a compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe, effectively creating a tribal monopoly in the state for statewide mobile sports betting.

In September, the full US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia opted against rehearing that case, and the Seminole Tribe relaunched mobile betting in Florida in November with its operator Hard Rock Bet. The Florida Supreme Court then rejected a motion from pari-mutuel betting operator West Flagler Associates to suspend Hard Rock Bet.

Tribes then received another big boost in February 2024 as the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced updated federal regulations, similar to those seen in Florida, that boost the “clarity and transparency” of Indian gaming compacts.

Giles hailed the impact of the DOI’s move, stating: “We are pleased that the Biden-Harris administration is demonstrating commitment to Indian country. We’re also very hopeful that they will provide a strong platform for business growth.

“Indian Country is stronger than ever and will, through our tribal leadership, continue to defend the rights of tribal communities.”

The future of tribal gaming

The National Indian Gaming Commission’s annual report showed revenues in 2022 rose 4.9% to $40.9bn (£33.0bn/€38.2bn). That $1.9bn year-on-year gain is the highest ever recorded.

Tribal gaming has certainly bounced back from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, setting the sector up for a prosperous future.

Giles is confident tribal gaming will continue to fare well, while outlining it will work with those who respect its values and offer new ideas.

“Tribal gaming will remain strong through a robust regulatory framework and by taking a sustainable, long-term approach to the industry’s future,” Giles added.

“Tribal communities are open for business and open to new ideas and innovation. We are looking to work with companies who not only understand Indian Country, but who can bring new ideas and new technologies so that we can continue to offer world-class experiences for customers.”

Tribal protection

Despite the continued strength of the Indian gaming sector, fears are still lingering over politicians and other commercial gaming interests looking to get in on the tribal success.

For Giles, however, he is steadfast in his confidence that tribal gaming will continue to fend off its competitors, as long as the community works together.

“Protection will be at its strongest if tribes remain united against anyone who seeks to undermine tribal sovereignty,” Giles continued. “The tribal gaming industry is very successful and has built a highly sustainable industry.”

“That isn’t to say that we are not interested in speaking to these companies and their representatives. I firmly believe that a co-operative approach borne out of a respect for our tribal governments and institutions will be beneficial to everyone.”

Fanatics replaces PointsBet in Kansas

Players in Kansas can now download the Fanatics Sportsbook and begin placing sports bets. 

Existing PointsBet customers will have their information automatically migrated to the new Fanatics Sportsbook. This includes their username, password, account balance, rewards points and any responsible gaming settings.

The Kansas launch means Fanatics now has a sports betting presence in 17 states across the US. It follows the roll-out in North Carolina earlier this month when the state officially launched its legal sports betting market.

Other recent launches for Fanatics include New York, where it also replaced the PointsBet brand. FBG acquired PointsBet US in August 2023 and has been phasing out the PointsBet brand ever since, with Indiana another state where Fanatics took the place of PointsBet.

This month, FBG also picked up an event wagering licence from the Arizona Department of Gaming, clearing it to launch in the state.

Aside from sports betting, FBG also operates the Fanatics Casino in Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Kansas sports betting handle exceeds $200m in February

The latest set of monthly results in Kansas, covering February, show year-on-year growth in the state’s sports betting market. This included total betting handle increasing 4.6% year-on-year to $203.0m (£160.5m/€187.7m).

Of this, $193.9m was bet with online sportsbooks while the remaining $9.1m was spent at retail locations.

Revenue in the state also rocketed by 8,405.8% to $3.1m. Some $3.0m came from online betting, while just $5,025 was generated by retail sportsbooks. Kansas was also able to post $305,494 in tax during the month.

As for legacy PointsBet, the brand had been offering online sports wagering with Kansas Crossing. However, in February, despite players wagering $1.6m, the partnership did not generate any revenue.

In fact, the Kansas City-PointsBet partnership performed the worst of all six online betting ventures in Kansas. DraftKings and Boot Hill Casino led the way with $2.0m in revenue from $87.7m in total wagers.

However, only half of online operators reported any sort of positive revenue in February. FanDuel and Kansas Star, posted revenue of $885,938 from $58.5m, while Caesar’s, also partnered with Kansas Crossing, hit $198,496 in revenue off $11.2m.