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Archive for January 5th, 2019

Danville City Council Supports Casino Legalization Effort

Danville City Council approves resolution that could bring casinos to at least three cash-strapped cities around Virginia

The City Council of Danville, Virginia unanimously passed on Thursday a resolution to support a coordinated effort for the legalization of casino gambling in at least three cities around the state.

The casino push was initiated by the city of Bristol where a local group of investors wants to build a $150-million casino resort at the site of the former Bristol Mall. The Bristol City Council approved a similar resolution in September, arguing that a facility of this kind would come as a major financial boost for the city and its ailing economy. The city of Portsmouth joined the effort in October when its City Councilmen voted in favor of a casino resolution.

The three cities together two Virginia legislators will be seeking to persuade the state Legislature to allow residents of Bristol, Portsmouth, and Danville to vote on whether they want a casino through citywide referenda. Sen. Bill Carrico and Del. Israel O’Quinn have announced plans to introduce a bill on the matter.

The legislative piece will have to pass multiple hurdles in the Legislature and to be signed by Gov. Ralph Northam before taking effect and allowing voters from the above-mentioned three cities to decide on the future of existing and to-be-introduced casino proposals.

While Bristol is currently the only city of all three to have an actual plan for a casino, Portsmouth and now Danville have voiced their support the effort due to the economic potential of an establishment of this kind.

Commenting on yesterday’s approval of the resolution, Danville Councilman Sherman Saunders told local media that his economically distressed city needs a financial boost and that a casino in Danville could generate revenue for new schools, improvements to the city’s law enforcement and fire services, and infrastructure upgrades, among other things.

Estimated Impact and Feedback from Residents

According to an indipendent report by research house Chmura Economics and Analytics, a casino in Bristol could create 5,426 direct and 1,408 indirect jobs and could generate economic impact of nearly $1 billion by 2028.

Analysts project massive economic impact and thousands of new jobs for Danville, if a casino opens doors in the city. Similar projections were made for Portsmouth, as well. All three cities have been struggling with financial issues that have, in turn, triggered other issues, such as a decrease in population, for years.

Following Thursday’s vote on the casino resolution, Danville officials said that the measure has also been met with overwhelming support from residents of the city. While it seems that the majority of citizens favor a casino, there have also been negative comments in relation to the push. Residents have cited concerns over increased crime and gambling-related social issues that could arise from the construction of a casino within city limits.

Sen. Carrico and Del. O’Quinn have begun work on their bill and plan to introduce it early into the legislative session. Virginia lawmakers are set to reconvene on January 9.

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Dennis Brand Wins First WSOP Circuit Event of 2019

Dennis Brand from Texas won last night his first World Series of Poker Circuit gold ring after failing to capture one last December

Dennis Brand finished runner-up in the final WSOP Circuit event of 2018 at IP Casino Biloxi, and that second-place finish motivated the player from Houston, Texas to hop into action at Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, Oklahoma and win the first WSOP Circuit event of 2019.

Brand took down the $400 No-Limit Hold’m Monster Stack. The player outwitted a field of 615 entries to be crowned the victor and claim his first-ever Circuit gold ring. Brand also collected $42,620 in prize money for his efforts.

The tournament generated a prize pool of $202,950. The money was split into payouts for the top 63 finishers, min-cashes starting from $664.

The $400 buy-in Monster Stack was played over two days. Day 2 took place on Thursday at the host casino. It kicked off with 59 players who bagged and tagged from the previous night. Dave Alfa entered the final day of action as the chip leader with a hefty stack of 1.4 million. The player was well beyond the other remaining survivors.

Brand was eighth in chips at the time. But as the field narrowed down and the pace of action went up, the player accumulated chips in front of him to eventually emerge as the chip leader into the final table and never look back.

Claiming the Title after a Second-Place Finish

While a WSOP Circuit title eluded Brand at IP Biloxi, the player did not let that one slip through his fingers. The newly crowned champ entered the unofficial ten-handed final table of the tournament as the chip leader and never really relinquished his advantage.

Brand faced Charlie Johnson heads-up. Johnson, who running that deep into the tournament, had secured his first cash from the series, was vying for his first-ever WSOP Circuit title. The two-handed match was not a long one and it was Brand who dominated action over its course. Eventually, he eliminated his final opponent in second place to claim the title and the accompanying gold ring. Johnson walked out with a payout of $26,361.

The WSOP Circuit stop at Choctaw Durant continues with twelve more gold ring events that will run all the way through January 14. The $1,700 Main Event is scheduled to kick off on Saturday, January 12 with the first of two starting flights.

The highlight tournament will feature two more days of action and will thus be completed on January 14. The tournament will begin with a guaranteed prize pool of $1 million. However, judging by the interest the opening Monster Stack captured, it should be expected that the Main Event will prove even more popular and will see its guarantee crushed.

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Romania’s New 2% Turnover Tax on Online Gambling Takes Effect

Romania has moved ahead with a new 2% turnover tax on online gambling operators to fund social welfare program

Romania-licensed online gambling companies woke up on New Year’s Day to a new taxation reality as the government of the southeastern European country introduced late last year an additional tax on the practice, seeking revenue for a costly social welfare program.

Government Emergency Ordinance 114/2018 was published in the nation’s Official Gazette on December 29, 2018 to officialize a monthly 2% tax on gambling turnover. The new tax comes in addition to the annual license fee and ordinary tax each locally licensed operator is obligated to pay. Up until the beginning of 2019, gambling companies that had obtained licenses from the Romanian regulator, Oficiul National Pentru Jocuri de Noroc (ONJN), were taxed at 16% on revenue from local customers.

The new taxation regime took effect January 1. The 2% turnover tax is payable by the 25th of the following month, which means that operators will have to make their first payment by February 25, 2019.

Romania re-regulated its online gambling market in 2015, and ONJN has issued more than 20 licenses for the provision of online gambling services on the territory of the country since then. The start of the new regulatory regime was marked with a demand by the Romanian government that companies seeking authorization to enter the local market pay a retroactive 20% tax on their revenue from Romanian customers since 2009. The surprising back tax resulted in Romania collecting nearly €270 million in gambling taxes in 2015.

Initial Plans

The latest version of GEO 114/2018 took a more liberal approach toward gambling companies servicing Romanian players and how these would be taxed, come 2019. First news that the country’s government was preparing to roll out a new tax emerged in mid-December.

Back then, Romanian lawmakers were discussing the introduction of a 5% turnover tax for online gambling operators and of a 3% turnover tax for land-based companies. The original draft of the ordinance also contained provisions under which the new turnover tax would have applied retroactively to 2018.

The possibility of being required to pay a retroactive tax on turnover prompted a massive outcry from the gambling industry. The powerful negative reaction resulted in the Romanian government converting the proposed tax from an annual to a monthly one that would not apply retroactively.

Aside from the tax, GEO 114/2018 also introduced a requirement for licensed operators to contribute a set annual fee of €5,000 for online gambling operations and of €1,000 for land-based operations. The money is set to be used for initiatives aimed at promoting responsible gambling and assisting people suffering from gambling addiction.

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NFL Softens Toward Gambling, Clinches Caesars Casino Sponsorship

NFL warms toward gambling, selects Caesars as first Official Casino Partner as sports betting storms the US gambling space

The National Football League, which has historically avoided gambling, announced Thursday its first-ever casino partnership with gaming and hospitality giant Caesars Entertainment Corp.

Under the terms of the agreement, Caesars has become the league’s first-ever Official Casino Partner and as such, it will be able use NFL trademarks in the United States and the United Kingdom to promote its casinos and activate at key NFL events, including the NFL Draft and the Super Bowl.

The sponsorship takes effect with the start of the 2019 NFL playoffs this weekend. NFL and Caesars did not disclose many of the terms of their deal, but according to people with knowledge of the matter, it is for three years and is worth $30 million a year.

As the Official Casino Sponsor of the NFL, Caesars will have to provide football fans with “unique experiences” by using its casino properties, premier music artists, celebrity chefs, and the rest of its entertainment offerings, minus its sportsbooks.

Under the terms of the partnership, Caesars will not be able to use NFL trademarks at its sportsbooks as it only involves casino gaming and does not include “sports betting, daily fantasy sports or hotel/resorts.”

Caesars and its Las Vegas Strip properties will host elements of the 2020 NFL draft, the league said in a Thursday press release announcing the sponsorship. The casino operator has already established relationships with seven NFL franchises ahead of and over the course of the 2018 season.

NFL Warming Toward Gambling

As mentioned earlier, the NFL has avoided any relations whatsoever with gambling-oriented businesses for decades. However, last year’s annulment of the long-standing federal ban on sports betting and the subsequent legalization of the practice in multiple states seems to have prompted a change in the league’s attitudes toward gambling.

First indications that the NFL has softened toward gambling arrived when the league gave the nod to the Oakland Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas, a place primarily associated with its casino industry. Another major step toward embracing gambling was made when the league announced that the 2020 draft would take place in Las Vegas.

The NFL introduced surprising changes in its advertising policies allowing franchises to pen sponsorship deals with casino operators as long as those sponsorships did not involve advertising at sportsbooks and any other direct relation with the nation’s regulated sports betting industry.

Unlike the NFL, America’s other three major sports leagues have taken a more liberal approach when it comes to gambling sponsorship deals. The NBA, NHL, and MLB have each signed deals with Caesars’ Las Vegas archrival MGM Resorts International, and all three deals have been more focused on sports betting. For instance, MGM’s sportsbooks will be able to use official league data from its league partners to boost its sports betting business. NFL’s deal with Caesars does not include official league data sharing.

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