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The Peach State’s gambling supporters eagerly anticipating the 2019 legislation

Niji Narayan

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The supporters of pari-mutuel and casino gambling in Georgia have been pushing for the inclusion of a legislation in the General Assembly session of next year.  A scrutiny released on Wednesday by the  Georgia Horse Racing Coalition shows an integrated project of a racetrack and a casino in suburban Atlanta with a 300-room hotel, along with an entertainment centre and lounge venues. The facility holds the potential to generate up to US$1.2 billion a year.

In view of this, the Georgia Representative, Brett Harrell, R-Snellville, said that he is planning to present the proposal to the House Rural Development Council after the current legislative session ends next week and work hand-in-hand  with state Senator Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, to introduce a legislation during the 2019 legislative session that would give go-ahead to three venues in different parts of the Peach State.

Harrell emphasised that “A horse racing facility would create thousands of jobs, deliver tens of millions in new state and local tax dollars and bring new revenues and business development to rural Georgia through its equine industry. Georgia is one of only six states that have no gaming outside of its lottery, and I believe horse racing would bring together different strengths our state has in tourism and agriculture,” he added.

Despite the efforts, this is not the first time that supporters have tried to legalise casino gambling in the state. A previous plan even included measures to increase tourism and raise additional revenue for the state’s scholarship programme. However, the legislation died because of the oppositions from the Governor Nathan Deal and General Assembly members.

The report carried out by The Lewis Group established that a racetrack-casino with an investment of US$525 million would create over  4,000 construction jobs and approximately 2,300 permanent jobs. It would also generate US$210 million in state and local taxes during its first year of operations.

Beach said: “This report gives lawmakers a clear vision of what a horse racing facility would contribute to Georgia.  We will  work to pass legislation that enables a horse racing track in Georgia that is one of the nicest in the world.”

Compliance Updates

UK House of Lords Calls for Urgent Regulation of Loot Boxes

Niji Narayan

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UK House of Lords Calls for Urgent Regulation of Loot Boxes
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The House of Lords Gambling Committee has urged the UK government to classify video game loot boxes as “games of chance.” The recommendation came as part of a wide-ranging report in which the committee suggested a number of changes to the gaming industry.

“If a product looks like gambling and feels like gambling, it should be regulated as gambling. The government must act immediately to bring loot boxes within the remit of gambling legislation and regulation,” the report says.

Loot boxes have long been controversial in video games. They offer players a chance at a randomised reward when opened. To further complicate matters, boxes can often be bought for real money, and the rewards can sometimes be traded.

Lord Grade, chairman of the committee, said that lots of other countries have already started to regulate loot boxes because “they can see the dangers” which is teaching “kids to gamble.”

He said the Gambling Act was “way behind what was actually happening in the market” but he added that the “overwhelming majority” of the report’s recommendations “could be enacted today” as they do not require legislation.

The Lords report is wide-ranging, covering the entire gambling industry, but focuses in part on new forms of gambling, and those targeted towards children.

“There is academic research which proves that there is a connection, though not necessarily a causal link, between loot box spending and problem gambling,” it says.

The Lords report concludes that ministers should make new regulations which explicitly state that loot boxes are games of chance. It also says the same definition should apply to any other in-game item paid for with real money, such as FIFA player packs.

The government told the committee that its planned future review of the Gambling Act would focus on loot boxes. But the Lords report warns: “This issue requires more urgent attention.”

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Compliance Updates

Norway to Consolidate Gambling Laws Under Single Legislative Banner

Niji Narayan

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Norway to Consolidate Gambling Laws Under Single Legislative Banner
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The Norwegian Ministry of Culture is going to launch a consultation on unifying the country’s gambling laws into a single piece of legislation. The new bill would bring together the existing Lottery Act, Gambling Act and Totalisator Act under a group of gambling laws that would apply to the entire Norwegian market.

The consultation will run through to September 29, with a range of stakeholders invited to give their opinions on the proposals.

“The purpose of the bill is to improve responsible gaming [standards] and to prevent problems and other negative consequences of gambling,” Minister of Culture and Gender Equality Abid Q. Raja said.

“We still want voluntary and non-profit purposes to benefit from the profits that gambling generate, and the bill facilitates this, but at the same time also demands more efficiencies from Norsk Tipping,” Raja added.

Among the key proposals in the bill are for Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto to retain the exclusive right to offer gambling. Both operators would be subject to strict state control, including the government having a final say on board appointments to each business.

The bill would also have the Ministry of Culture assume responsibility for all elements of the gambling market, including rules governing the horse racing sector, which is currently overseen by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

The country’s regulator Lotteritilsynet would also be given more power to ensure that gambling is taking place legally. This would include ordering internet service providers to notify users that when they see marketing from offshore operators, this is both unlicensed and illegal.

Aside from traditional gambling, the consultation will also gather opinions on loot boxes in video games and whether these features should be covered by the new set of laws.

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Compliance Updates

GiG Secures Sports Betting License in Colorado for WSN.com

George Miller

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GiG Secures Sports Betting License in Colorado for WSN.com
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Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) has further expanded its presence in the United States after receiving a Vendor Minor sports betting license for its flagship affiliate site WSN.com from the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission.

GiG Media is now active in seven US states through its flagship US-facing sports betting website World Sports Network (WSN.com).

GiG was granted its first affiliate vendor registration in January 2019 for the state of New Jersey. This was followed in December 2019 by a certificate of registration for sports wagering in Indiana. In February 2020, GiG secured authorisation from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to provide affiliate services in the Keystone State.

Jonas Warrer, Managing Director of GiG Media, said “We are delighted to further strengthen our position in the US with this latest license approval. WSN.com continues to gain momentum in the US market and Colorado provides us with an even greater opportunity to convert visitors into players as legal sportsbooks begin accepting customers in the state.”

Colorado became the 18th state to legalise online sports betting in the US in May 2020. The online sports betting market in the centennial state is estimated to reach approximately $200 million in annual revenue at saturation, according to H2 Gambling Capital.

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