Episode 30: Minnesota, DC, Delaware and Illinois

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The World Series of Politics is back after some technical hitches and we’ve got a lot to catch up on.

We begin in Minnesota. Hopes were high for the state to legalise sports betting before the close of the legislative session, but it inevitably ended without sports betting being considered. Minnesota had been one of four US states that stakeholders thought might pass sports betting legislation, alongside Alabama, Georgia and Missouri. None of them did.

A number of elements factored into Minnesota falling at the final hurdle, Bussmann highlights, one being the arrest of state senator Nicole Mitchell for burglary.

“In the end, one of the downfalls off of this was just, you had, you know, a bunch of people, some are some Ds that just didn’t want to get along at the end,” he says. And although a result was achieved in the form of a package – a compromise agreed in the chamber by both parties and from both houses – this was not advanced because it didn’t appear on the agenda.

“We got killed by the process this year.”

Market ramps up in DC

We hurtle over to Washington DC, which has kicked off its budgeting process. Iden takes us through a bill from Councilmember Kenyan R McDuffie, which would authorise a mobile market in the district.

“The language that McDuffie has crafted calling for an open competitive sports betting market in the district is now inserted into the budget,” Iden explains. “That process will unfold over the course of the next three weeks or so while council debates the overall budget package.

“At which point in time, the budget package will eventually be passed with certain language in it.”

The next step is for the budget package to be sent to congress and be approved there within 30 days. Whether this language – which would permit an open and competitive sports market – stays in the budget, or is removed to be a standalone piece of legislation, remains to be seen.

Iden adds that commissioners and council members are in opposition to the model put forward by Intralot, which chose FanDuel as its new subcontractor in March following middling results with GamBetDC.

“This DC sole-sourced lottery-run contract has failed the district,” he continues. “Just simply putting a band-aid on this with a new operator in the market simply coming in and taking over for the last failed programme of Intralot in the past… isn’t going to solve the problem.”

Last but not least, Delaware and Illinois

Third in the lineup is Delaware, which is facing a similar situation. Like DC, Delaware has a sole source operator through the lottery and operators are sniffing around for a competitive market. But Delaware also has igaming, which DC does not.

Bussmann says Delaware’s model has always been fractured. But House Bill 365 is aiming to fix that.

And, at the end of the day, an open and competitive market would duly challenge the illegal market.

Speaking of the illegal market, we make our final stop in Illinois – the state on everybody’s mind. Last week the state’s house of representatives passed a controversial heightened tax rate. The new rate would see certain operators be taxed at 40%, a far cry from the original 15%.

“Bad tax policy should never be followed,” Bussmann implores. “It’s one of the challenges, as we’ve talked about before, that I saw with the report in Maryland that the state did, that they layer on more bad tax policy and what that should end up with.

“Let’s look at the economics of the market, let’s look at the economics of operators.”

But we don’t quite end there. Iden gives a shoutout to his home state, Michigan, and the Michigan Gaming Control Board’s (MGCB) decision to give Curaçao-based Bovada the boot. The MGCB alleges that Harp Media BV – which operates Bovada – allowed Bovada.com and Bovada.lv to be accessible to Michiganders. This was despite Harp Media BV not having the appropriate licence.

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