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Archive for December, 2018

Michigan’s Outgoing Governor Says ‘No’ to Online Gambling

Michigan’s outgoing Governor vetoes online gambling bills due to concerns over the financial and social impact of the practice

Hopes that Michigan would soon join the handful of states that offer legal online gambling died on Friday as outgoing Governor Rick Snyder vetoed three bills that called for the legalization of the practice.

Gov. Snyder took action on a number of bills this past Friday as he prepared to surrender his office after two terms at the helm of Michigan. The bipartisan legislative effort to bring online gambling to the state was among those to get a big ‘no’ from the state’s highest ranking legislator.

Gov. Snyder vetoed House Bill 4926 and its accompanying pieces HB 4927 and HB 4928, citing concerns over the financial and social impact of the legalization of online gambling on the state’s territory.

HB 4926 was approved by the Michigan House of Representatives this past June. There was no further action on the piece of legislation up until earlier this month. In a last-minute effort, the Senate passed the bill just a few days before Christmas to send it to the Governor’s desk.

If Gov. Snyder had signed the legislation, it would have allowed the state’s three commercial casinos – MGM Grand Detroit Casino, Motor City Casino, and Greektown Casino – as well as casinos operated by Michigan’s federally recognized tribes to offer online casino and poker games within the state’s borders.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board would have issued licenses for the operation of online gambling. Licensed operators would have been taxed at 8% on their revenue from the practice. The state’s commercial casinos would have had to pay an additional 1.25% to their host cities.

Easier to Gamble

In a veto letter to the state House and Senate, Gov. Snyder said that while he appreciated the amount of work that went into the online gambling legalization effort, there were several important issues that prompted his veto.

The legislator pointed out that the introduction of online casino games and poker could shift have shifted residents’ gambling behavior from the state’s iLottery program to Internet-based gambling at local casinos. He went on to say that under the proposed tax structure, the state’s School Aid Fund would have only got four cents for each $10 wagered online. In comparison, the Michigan Lottery contributes $2.76 to the fund for each $10 of spending.

Gov. Snyder also said he was concerned that the bills “will encourage gambling by making it much easier to do so.” As a result he did not want to sign legislation that would proliferate gambling, while there would be a “reasonable chance” that the state could lose revenue for social services.

The legislator concluded his veto letter by saying that he would leave it to Michigan’s next administration to review more thoroughly the revenue implications from the authorization of online gambling.

Gov. Snyder also vetoed this past Friday a bill that would have created a framework for the provision of fantasy sports betting in a regulated environment, saying he did not believe the legislation could produce positive results for the state at this time.

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Vietnam’s Quang Ninh Province Seeks Permission to Build $2-Billion Casino Resort

Another integrated resort could be built in Vietnam as the country looks to direct its gambling industry to a the right path after difficult past

The coastal province of Quang Ninh in Vietnam seeks permission to build a $2-billion integrated resort with a casino in the Van Don district, local news outlets report citing information from the chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, Nguyen Duc Long.

During an online conference between the government and 63 Vietnamese provinces on Friday, Mr. Long said that the major project is currently under consideration by the Ministry of Planning and Investment and other competent agencies, and added that they hope the government would complete the review soon.

The Van Don casino resort will spread over 2,500 hectares of land. As mentioned earlier, developers plan to pour $2 billion into the scheme. Aside from a casino, the property will also feature multiple entertainment options, hotels, and food and beverage facilities.

The resort will be developed in phases, with the first phase hoped to become operational sometime in the first quarter of 2019. The whole complex is expected to be completed and become fully operational by the first quarter of 2022.

The province and developers seek a 50-year gaming license, it also became known. Once fully operational the hotel, casino, and entertainment resort is expected to generate VND250 billion (approx. $11 million) a year for the nation’s budget.

Important Economic Center

Van Don has taken a center stage in Quang Ninh’s strategy to attract investment and develop infrastructure and improve a number of local industries. So far, the Quang Ninh economic zone has captured investment capital of more than VND36 trillion into Van Don’s infrastructure.

Recent development projects have included Van Don International Airport and the Ha Long – Van Don expressway. The Quang Ninh province is also planning to kick off construction work on the Van Don – Mong Cai highway project with a total investment of over VND11 trillion in the first quarter of 2019. The scheme is expected to be completed within 22 months.

It is also important to note that if the Van Don casino resort project gets the necessary approval from the government of Vietnam, it will join several more similar plans that have been approved in recent months.

Last month, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc gave the nod to an integrated resort scheme in on the Phu Quoc island. The complex is expected to open doors in 2021 and will be the Southeast Asian country’s first gambling facility to allow nationals to gamble.

Up until recently, Vietnamese residents were banned from gambling at local casinos under the country’s casino law. In January 2017, the Vietnamese Prime Minister signed a new decree that allowed locals to enter and gamble at certain casinos during a three-year trial period. If the Government is content with the results from that period, the law could be changed permanently so that Vietnamese nationals are allowed entry into the nation’s gambling venues.

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Race for Sixth Racino Continues as New Mexico Racing Commission Delays Decision

Third time was not the charm on Friday as New Mexico Racing Commission once again postponed vote on sixth racino license

The race for New Mexico’s sixth and final racino is far from over as state racing regulators decided on Friday to once again postpone a vote to select the winning bidder that will build and operate the facility. Five companies are bidding for the lucrative racino license.

Once the license application process closed this past August, it has been up to the New Mexico Racing Commission to visit all proposed locations for the state’s sixth racino, meet with bidding developers, and make a decision. Commissioners have so far postponed a vote on issuing the license three times.

Ray Willis, Chairman of the racing regulator, told local media yesterday that the New Mexico Attorney General’s office has warned the Commission that if it proceeded with selecting the winning bidder, the office would not be obligated to defend commissioners in case of a legal fight.

One of the companies bidding for the racino license has filed a petition with a district court, seeking a temporary injunction and claiming that the racing regulator has not done enough to study the matter in detail. News about the legal motion have arrived as pressure for the commission to finally issue the license has been building up.

The Republican-appointed five-member regulator could see a change of its current make up come January 1, 2019 when New Mexico’s new Democrat Governor is to assume office. A change could affect the licensing process.

Existing Racinos Warn Against More Competition

While most members of the Racing Commission are in favor of issuing a license for New Mexico’s final racino, the state’s five existing facilities have expressed concerns about the impact of additional competition. They have pointed out that a sixth venue would hurt their business as New Mexico’s racing industry is “far from healthy and not in need of additional forces” that create “additional downward pressures.”

Under New Mexico’s compact with Native American tribes that run casinos on the territory of the state, only six racinos can operate there. Each of the racinos can feature 600 slot machines or up to 750 such devices if it buys them from other facilities and the transaction gets the nod from the New Mexico Gaming Control Board. Albuquerque, Farmington, Hobbs, Ruidoso, and Sunland Park host the five existing venues.

Racing regulators issued a sixth license to a Canadian developer back in 2008. However, the project fro a racino in Raton never materialized and the winning company eventually lost its license.

Five Bidders Vie For the Sixth License

Five applications had been submitted by the time the bidding process closed this past August. There is an 80% chance that New Mexico’s sixth racino could land somewhere in the eastern part of the state as four of the bidding developers are looking to build their facility in that region in a bid to capture visitors from West Texas.

Three of the proposals involve the development of a racino in Clavis. The most expensive of the three bids came from Nevada-based Full House Resorts. The company has revealed a $200-million plan to build the world’s first moving grandstand that will travel around the racetrack at the speed of the horses, offering spectators a unique perspective. The other two Clavis bids were valued at $50 million and $75 million.

The fourth Eastern New Mexico bid proposes a $61.7 million racino in Tucumcari. The final bid calls for a $75-million racino in Lordsburg, which means that the license will have to head to the other side of the state, if regulators pick this project as the winner.

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Rhode Island’s First Sportsbook Handles $683,000 in Wagers in First Five Days

Rhode Island’s first sportsbook at Twin River Casino in Lincoln saw betting handle of nearly $683,000 during its first days

The sportsbook at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island handled $682,714 in wagers on professional sports during its first five days of operation, figures released Friday by the Rhode Island Lottery showed.

Twin River Casino launched its sports betting facility on November 26 to become the state’s first gambling venue to offer wagering on athletic competitions. Against the betting handle of $682,714, the casino paid out $609,717 in winnings to gamblers.

That left $72,997 in profit from sports betting operations. The money was split among Twin River, its sports betting partner IGT, and the state. Under Rhode Island’s gambling law, the state gets 51% of sports betting revenue generated at the sportsbooks that operate on its territory. It is unclear how much exactly Rhode Island collected from sports betting in November as expenses and commissions are deducted from winnings before the state receives its share.

Twin River Casino was originally supposed to go live with sports betting on October 1. The state formally authorized the practice via the 2018 budget process in June. Back then, analysts projected that Rhode Island would collect tax revenue of $23.5 million through the end of the fiscal year in June 2019. Projections were lowered significantly following the nearly two-month delay in the start of sports betting in the state. Experts now believe that Rhode Island could reap around $12 million in tax revenue by June 30.

Is Mobile Betting Coming to Rhode Island?

While multiple studies have suggested that mobile betting could really be the thing that would make the big difference in the provision of legal sports wagering services in the US, only three states currently offer their gamblers the opportunity to place bets via their smartphones. It was only a few days ago when West Virginia premiered its sports betting app, joining Nevada and New Jersey.

Rhode Island is poised to at least give the authorization of mobile betting a fair amount of discussion next year. News emerged earlier this month that Senate President Dominick Ruggerio plans to introduce a mobile betting bill in a bid to double tax revenue for the state. According to Sen. Ruggerio, the state could collect $50 million a year, if mobile betting gets rolled out.

A recent Oxford Economics report offered more ambitious projections of betting handle of $1.1 billion and tax revenue of $80 million a year, if Rhode Islanders and guests of the state are allowed to place mobile bets.

Rhode Island currently has two operational sportsbooks – the one in Lincoln that debuted in late November and a facility at Twin River’s sister casino in Tiverton. The latter betting venue was launched in early December. Betting handle and revenue information about the second sportsbook will be included in the Rhode Island Lottery’s December financial report, which will be released on January 28.

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MCCTI and MGM Springfield Hold Open Houses for Blackjack, Poker Dealer Classes

MCCTI continues its initiatives to train people for casino jobs at MGM Springfield as Massachusetts’ first commercial casino looks to establish itself as a popular gambling destination

Two open house sessions organized by the Massachusetts Casino Career Training Institute (MCCTI) and MGM Springfield took place this past Thursday to provide people interested to enroll in their blackjack and poker dealer classes with additional information.

Both classes are slated to begin on January 7. They aim to prepare interested participants for full- and part-time employment in the casino dealer industry.

The MCCTI was formed by Massachusetts’ fifteen community colleges as a collaborating workforce development entity that provides people with workforce certification, training, and licensure, among other things. The organization works together with the state Gaming Commission.

The MCCTI has partnered the Holyoke and Springfield Technical Community Colleges to provide people with the necessary training to become licensed blackjack or poker dealers. Those who complete successfully the Training Institute’s classes will be able to apply for a job at MGM Springfield and commence the job interview process.

Commenting on their latest open houses, MCCTI’s Paul Sheehan told local news outlet 22News that they have been doing those for several months and have seen quite some interest, with an overwhelming number of people completing the classes and getting hired by MGM Springfield.

MGM Springfield Welcomes 1 Million Visitors in First 40 Days

MGM Springfield opened doors this past August to become Massachusetts’ first commercial integrated resort featuring a casino. The $960-million property occupies several blocks in downtown Springfield and is owned and operated by Las Vegas gaming and hospitality giant MGM Resorts International.

The gambling company has promised state and local officials and gaming regulators to create 3,000 permanent jobs for residents. In addition, it has established a goal to hire 35% of its MGM Springfield workforce from the host city and 90% from the city and the region.

Property officials told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission during a meeting last week that MGM Springfield drew 1 million visitors during its first six weeks of operation. An average of 15,000 people visit the casino every day, it also became known. Officials for the resort told gaming commissioners that the figure above is very much on a par with original expectations.

The state’s first full-scale commercial casino generated gaming revenue of $36 million during its first forty days, which transfers to nearly $9 million in tax revenue. Under Massachusetts law, commercial casinos are taxed at 25% on gaming revenue.

A second integrated resort – the $2.5-billion Encore Boston Harbor – is slated to open doors next June. The property has entered the final stages of construction in the city of Everett in the Greater Boston area.

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