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Gambling in the USA

PARX CASINO persuades the Keystone states regulators to confine the number of IGOs in the state

Athira A

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In an effort to confine the number of Interactive Gaming Operators (IGO’s — aka skins) that can establish shops in the State of Pennsylvania, Parx Casino Bensalem, the largest casino complex based in Pensylvania owned and operated by the Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment (GGE), persuaded the regulators of the state.

Parx: One skin per certificate holder

As per a  letter discovered by Gambling Compliance Research Director, Chris Krafcik, on January 30th, GGE  beseeched the keystone state’s  Gaming Control Board (paywall) to confine specifically each incoming internet gambling certificate holder (understood to be the land-based casinos that currently possess a license to conduct brick & mortar business in PA) to one skin per establishment; and that all branding should directly correlate to the main license holder.

GGE argued “The contrary scenario — whereby a Certificate Holder can have unlimited skins with it bestowing the ability to operate with any number of Interactive Gaming Operators (“IGOs”), some perhaps in partnership with third-party Qualified Gaming Entities and utilising the third party’s brand — creates a sublicensing regime that essentially transfers licensing authority from the PGCB to the Certificate Holder.”

In addition, GGE clings to the belief that the Board “should require that any branding associated with those skins match the brand of the Certificate Holder’s commercial casino operating under its PGCB slot machine license.” The entire email correspondence from GGE to the Gaming Control Board is available here.

The mandates suggested by GGE would essentially block sub-licensees (such as PokerStars, Betfair, and WSOP) from marketing their brands in Pennsylvania while locking-down the state’s future iGaming market in favour of a handful of large casinos with major brand power and customer databases in Pennsylvania. Parx Casino would, of course, be a primary beneficiary of such a policy, as it is the long-standing revenue leader in the PA brick & mortar casino industry.

Parx Casino is joined by Hollywood Casino Grantville, parent company Penn National, in its view that Pennsylvania should not adopt a similar strategy to neighbouring New Jersey, where iGaming revenue has consistently risen as more IGOs have entered the picture.

Response from iDevelopment and Economic Association

The iDevelopment and Economic Association (iDEA – which encompasses iGaming power brokers such as The Stars Group, GVC Holdings (parent company of Party Poker), Resorts Interactive and Tropicana Entertainment) has responded to GGE’s lobbying efforts with its own communication to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Not surprisingly, iDEA points to the current New Jersey iGaming model which has provided clear benefits for the health of the industry as well as Garden State residents through additional tax revenue.

“By allowing multiple skins per license, Pennsylvania will encourage robust competition among operators,” iDEA states in its letter to the PGCB.

“To compete with larger casinos, smaller casino operators might partner with both poker and table game operators under separate skins to provide innovative products under larger brand names,” iDEA adds. “Without the availability of multiple skins, they would be unable to do so. That competition and innovation will result in higher revenue for the state and greater satisfaction for players.”

 Thoughts and analysis

There is truth to iDEA’s arguments, as the allowance of multiple skins does encourage competition, ultimately resulting in a healthier environment for both operators and players. In New Jersey, there’s been a clear appetite for more sites than there are casinos, with brands such as Betfair and Play Sugar House gaining significant market share, all while bolstering the revenue of smaller Atlantic City brands.

In Pennsylvania, limiting the number of skins will be highly discouraging to smaller casinos, as the licensing fee to become an iGaming certificate holder for slots, table games, and poker is set at an outlandish $10 million (or $4 million per vertical). It is hard to foresee lesser land-based casinos getting too excited about paying this exorbitant amount for just one or two sites, especially for online gambling services that offer slots, which will be taxed at an unprecedented 54 percent of Gross Gaming Revenue.

Not to mention, if the sites are required to be self-branded, big brands like Parx will have a built-in advantage at launch, further discouraging smaller brands from taking a shot. This will be a shame, as smaller brands have proven more successful than the top dogs in New Jersey over the long haul — a fact we assume Parx is well aware of.

Ultimately this feels like a power grab from Parx, who will be a reluctant participant in the iGaming industry, and is looking to protect its industry-leading brand by all but preventing its competitors from entering the space.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will have the last say on this developing story as Keystone State residents anxiously await the 2018-2019 rollout of real money internet gambling.

Athira is a self-described “logophile” – a lover of words. She loves updating her vocabulary and playing around with words, to frame a sensible world of letters. Letters come alive when they become words and when words become sentences. And that’s her job, to put them together in a meaningful way without loosing its essence.

She has written content for websites, articles and poems for an international magazine, and press releases as well. She also loves writing on social media.

She holds a Masters degree in bio-technology, but she has always been interested in the organic farming of words. Besides writing content for our daily news feed, she is also working as staff writer/editor with Impressions Content Management, based in Kerala, India, which offers writing and editing services to clients around the world.

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Gambling in the USA

Las Vegas South Point Hotel and Casino to go down the road to renovation

Niji Ng

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The Las Vegas South Point Hotel, Casino and spa, which offers a 16-screen movie theatre, bowling alley, casino and full-service spa is all set to go down the road to renovation.

By unveiling a US$40 million remodelling plan for its Las Vegas property throughout the company’s three towers, the South Point Hotel Casino and Spa have set all its duck in a row. This comprises 2,049 rooms and 84 suites featuring new furniture, luxury flooring, crown moulding, mini refrigerator, and bathroom upgrades. The first phase of the redesign, scheduled to commence in April 2018, will be completed by September 2018.

The three-year project will refurbish one hotel tower each year and is estimated to be completed by September 2020. By the end of 2018, more than 630 newly-fashioned rooms will be available for guests at a US$10 upgraded room fee. The guest rooms offer a refreshed look, with new Bernhardt types of furniture such as beds, dressers, nightstands, chairs, sitting tables, and lounge chairs with an ottoman. In addition, the guest rooms will offer lamps with power and USB ports, functional desks for business executives, and a new colour palette.

In association with this new undertaking Ryan Growney, the General Manager of South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa said: “We live in a city that is continuously evolving, and we are always looking for opportunities to improve our guests’ experiences to set us apart from other properties. The last five years have consisted of a lot of exciting development projects that we strongly believe create a unique experience that only we can offer, and we are excited to unveil our new room upgrades, which we believe our guests will really enjoy.”

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Gambling in the USA

Accused of ravishment, Steve Wynn, who lost his face – to be replaced by Matt Maddox

Niji Ng

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Wynn Resorts board of officials finally gave a nod to its decision to replace the post of Steve Wynn, the former Chairman and CEO of American casino company Wynn Resorts, who stepped down prior to a few weeks, losing his face owing to sexual assault allegation.Consequently, Matt Maddox who has been the President of Wynn Resorts, since 2013 will take over as the new CEO.

In addition the company stated: “Pursuant to such registration rights agreement, Mr. Wynn may not sell during any quarter after the date of such agreement more than one-third of the company shares he holds as of the date of such agreement.”

Steve Wynn’s whose resignation will be completed by June, will leave his residence adhering to the agreement demands. Simultaneously he will not receive any severance or financial compensation.

The agreement also establishes that Wynn will provide reasonable assistance “in connection with any private litigation or arbitration and to the board of directors of the company or any committee of the board in connection with any investigation” related to his service.

Former employees of Wynn claimed he had displayed inappropriate sexual behaviour in front of them, while a manicurist told the Wall Street Journal that he forced her to have sex in his office.

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Gambling in the USA

Washington State Could Lead Charge Against Loot Boxes in Online Gaming

George Miller

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Washington State Could Lead Charge Against Loot Boxes in Online Gaming
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Washington state Senator Kevin Ranker introduced legislation bill in January that seeks an answer to this question: If they look, sound, and seem like gambling, are online-game loot boxes really gambling?

And more importantly, do these loot boxes, sometimes known as “loot crates,” which demand real money from game players for a chance to win in-game items, prey upon unsuspecting children?

Loot boxes or crates are virtual items in online games that a player can redeem to receive more virtual items for his avatar or character. It’s a way for online and mobile gaming companies to make money. The players can purchase the boxes outright, with cash, or buy keys to open the boxes.

China, Japan and Australia already regulate loot boxes.

PC Gamer reported Sweden’s Minister for Public Administration Ardalan Shekarabi said his country might classify loot boxes as gambling next year.

“It is obvious that there are many people suffering from gambling addiction, who also get stuck in this type of gambling and lose money because of it,” Shekarabi said.

What the bill says is, ‘Industry, state: sit down to figure out the best way to regulate this,’” Ranker told the Tacoma News Tribune. “It is unacceptable to be targeting our children with predatory gambling masked in a game with dancing bunnies or something.”

If parents realized how predatory these games are,” Ranker said, “they wouldn’t want them under their Christmas tree.”

Hawaii state Rep. Chris Lee’s legislation doesn’t seek to answer the question of whether loot boxes are gambling. To the Democrat’s mind, there is no doubt that they are nothing more than online casinos that should be kept out of the hands of children.

Lee also wants a warning on games that have “gambling-based mechanics” and to state the odds of winning what’s in the loot boxes.

Lee said he fell victim to online game when he download the game Clash of Clans a couple of years ago.

At one point,” Lee told Kotaku, “I started buying crystals. I ended up spending a few hundred dollars over the course of a few months.”

When he realized what he had done, Lee deleted the game from his phone and “there was no value left – it’s just money that’s gone.”

Lee said he wasn’t alone in falling into the trap offered by loot boxes and crates. Teachers in his district told Lee plenty of stories about families who had to pay their kids’ gambling bills.

Lee also said adults, as well as children, need to be protected from “predatory practices in online gaming and the significant financial consequences it has been having on families around this nation.”

I think this is an appropriate time to make sure these issues are addressed before this becomes the new norm for every game,” Lee said.

Fellow Democratic State Rep. Sean Quinlan said during a press conference in support of Lee’s legislation, “We didn’t allow Joe Camel to encourage your kids to smoke cigarettes and we shouldn’t allow Star Wars to encourage our kids to gamble.”

Polygon reported that game players began pushing back against loot crates and boxes last year, as did reviewers of the games.

When you run out of in-game money, you have two choices: Make a huge time investment by hunting down orcs in your game world and earning chests via vendetta missions, or spend some real money to get the more powerful orcs you need now. Does the game ever force you to spend money?” read a Polygon review of the game Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. “No. I’m sure you can get to the end of Shadow Wars without spending a dime, as long as you’re patient and persistent.”

But locking progress through this mode (and, again, toward the game’s secondary ending) behind either spending more money or doing tons of tedious busywork feels at least greedy if not predatory,” the review concluded.

However, the Entertainment Software Rating Board told the Tacoma News Tribune it does not consider loot boxes to be gambling.

While the digital goods within a box or pack are mostly randomized, the player is always gauranteed {sic} to receive in-game content,” an ESRB spokesperson said in an email.

Christopher Hansford, the political engagement director of a new lobbying group that is all about creating an awareness of online gambling, Consumers for Digital Fairness, disagrees.

We’re a group of folks who are sick and tired of seeing people and a medium we love exploited by unfair practices,” Hansford told Polygon. “So we decided to put our skills and experience to work to tackle this issue.”

A CDF statement on the group’s website claimed that loot boxes or crates usually contain nothing but “worthless trash.”

These practices involving real-money inputs and games of chance simply doesn’t belong in video games,” the statement read in part. “These loot boxes would be more at home in casinos and other licensed gaming establishments with adults, not our living rooms in the hands of our children.”

 

Source: pjmedia.com

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