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Archive for January 19th, 2019

Maryland Explores Loopholes to Legalize Sports Betting Without Referendum

Maryland is exploring ways to fast-track sports betting without a statewide referendum as more states are expected to jump on the wagering bandwagon this year

Maryland lawmakers have rekindled the sports betting legalization debate just days after the beginning of the 2019 legislative session and are looking for faster ways to pass a legislation authorizing the practice without voter approval.

Under the state’s current law, any proposal for commercial gambling expansion should be approved via a statewide referendum. Residents of Maryland approved the legalization of casino gambling a little over a decade ago, but sports betting requires another referendum.

State lawmakers could not pass a betting legislation to put it on the November ballot last year, which means that the practice could only be legalized after the 2020 ballot and if endorsed by voters.

However, neighboring Delaware, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania have all gone live with sports gambling since last May when the US Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on the activity, which means that Maryland has already lost important competitive advantage.

To prevent the state lag further behind its neighbors, legislators are now exploring a possible loophole – the legalization of wagering on sports through the state lottery instead of through privately-run entities.

The Maryland lottery was created in 1972 after voters approved Constitutional amendment that authorized the creation of the body and gave it the power to consider various lottery games without requiring endorsement by residents.

What Lawmakers Think

A spokesperson for the state’s Governor, Larry Hogan, has said that the official will be working closely with the General Assembly to determine the best path toward the legalization and regulation of sports betting. It also became known that Maryland’s top official is open to any ideas put forward.

Del. Anne Kaiser, Chairwoman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has said that she believes a sports betting legislation will pass during this year’s session. However, it is yet to be seen what path the state Legislature will take.

Gordon Medenica, Director of the Maryland lottery, has told media that they are ready to embrace sports betting and that they have been keeping up with the developments in the field. However, Mr. Medenica pointed out that the General Assembly will have a lot of things to consider and clarify before going forward with an actual legislation.

The lottery official explained that lawmakers might need to discuss the definition of lottery games and lottery operation, and to clarify what it means for a given lottery game to be operated by the state lottery. According to Mr. Medenica, even if the General Assembly passes a sports betting legislation, the activity would probably not go live before early 2020, as a procurement process will have to be conducted first.

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Massachusetts Governor Moves to Legalize Sports Betting

Massachusetts sports betting debate gains momentum as Gov. Baker tables bill to legalize wagering on professional sports

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker launched Thursday his own push to bring legal sports betting to the state with a bill calling for the authorization of wagering on professional sports.

Gov. Baker’s bill joined a handful of legislative pieces that were introduced to the state Legislature earlier this week and are all aiming to legalize sports betting in one form or another. Rep. Brad Hill, Rep. Dan Cullinane, Sen. Brendan Crighton, and Sen. Michael Rush are all keen to bring the activity to Massachusetts.

Under Gov. Baker’s bill, bettors would only be able to wager money on professional sports. Betting on collegiate and high school sporting events would be strictly prohibited. The piece of legislation authorizes the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to oversee and regulate the provision of sports betting on the territory of the state and to vet all license applicants.

It should be noted that Gov. Baker has undertaken a slightly different approach in the legalization of the practice. His bill allows for both in-person and mobile betting. The state’s existing casinos – MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino (as well as the soon-to-be-opened Encore Boston Harbor) will be able to form partnerships with betting providers to offer both retail and digital services.

However, interested online gambling companies will, too, be able to apply for a license from MassGaming without having to partner any of the state’s existing land-based properties. While online operators will probably welcome that opportunity, it is believed that Massachusetts’ commercial casinos would be less enthusiastic.

Betting Taxes and Other Important Provisions in Gov. Baker’s Legislation

Under Gov. Baker’s bill, retail betting will be taxed at 10% on revenue, while online wagering will be taxed at 12.5%. Interested operators will have to pay an application fee of $100,000. Approved candidates will have to pay a $500,000 licensing fee that will have to be renewed every five years.

Gov. Baker said yesterday that his legislation was modeled after New Jersey’s betting law. The latter state launched legal sports betting in June 2018, just weeks after the landmark SCOTUS ruling that lifted a federal ban on the activity. New Jersey offers both in-person and mobile betting. Digital betting accounted for approximately 63% of the overall betting handle of $1.2 billion the state’s licensed operators processed in the period between mid-June and December 31, 2018.

As mentioned earlier, if passed, Gov. Baker’s bill would only authorize betting on professional sports. Other bills on the matter tabled in recent days include provisions allowing for betting on collegiate athletics or betting on collegiate sporting events taking place outside Massachusetts.

Gov. Baker’s legislation does not propose an integrity fee/royalty for professional leagues. Rep. Cullinane’s bill, on the other hand, contains a provision that allows leagues to collect a fee out of the wagers placed on their games.

Under Rep. Hill’s bill, tax revenues would go to a health insurance fund, an education fund, and a transportation fund.

With the sports betting debate gaining momentum, Massachusetts could become the second state in New England to legalize the practice. Rhode Island went live with legal wagering late last year when its Twin River casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton launched their physical sportsbooks. State legislators are now pushing to bring mobile betting during the ongoing legislative session.

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Frank Stepuchin Leads Final Table of WPT Gardens Poker Championship

Frank Stepuchin leads six players into the first televised final table of WPT Season XVII with a comfortable chip lead

The names of the players who will play the first televised WPT Season XVII final table are now known. Frank Stepuchin is leading the last six survivors in the WPT Gardens Poker Championship into the final stage of the tournament with a comfortable lead.

The six remaining players represent the first delayed final table of a WPT Main Tour Main Event. The popular poker series announced last year that from the start of Season XVII all its televised final tables will be played at a later stage and at HyperX Esports Arena at The Luxor in Las Vegas.

The televised final table of the WPT Gardens will be played on March 12 and will be filmed for FOX Sports Regional Networks.

After four days of play at The Gardens Casino, Stepuchin emerged as the chip leader out of six remaining players. He bagged and tagged 4.065 million in chips when the final table was set and organizers stopped action. The player is now in possession of about 40% of all chips in play.

He took the lead and cemented his position when he eliminated Toby Lewis, a three-time WPT final tablist. On what turned out to be the final hand of the night, Stepuchin moved all in with pocket fives on a [Jc][5h][2h][Kd][3d] board and Lewis called with [Kh][Jh] to hit the rail and miss the chance for another WPT final table appearance.

The Other Five Finalists

Of the other five remaining players, Shannon Shorr sits closest to Stepuchin on the temporary leaderboard. The player collected 1.71 million, good for the second largest stack. Steve Sung bagged 1.58 million into the final table.

Brent Roberts with 1.385 million, Ray Qartomy with 820,000, Jonathan Abdellatif with 555,000 were the other three players to make it to the final table of the WPT Gardens championship.

Stepuchin and Abdellatif have both secured seats into their first-ever WPT final table, while Shorr Sung, and Qartomy will all make their fourth final table appearance in March. Roberts has one previous WPT final table to his name. The player also has one WPTDeepStacks title from a few years ago. If he takes down the WPT Gardens, he will become the first player to have ever won both a WPTDeepStacks and a WPT Main Event.

All in all, the WPT Gardens Poker Championship, a $10,000 buy-in tournament, drew 253 entries who generated a prize pool of $2,428,800. The money was split into payouts for the top 32 finishers, min-cashes starting from $19,120. Each of the six finalists is guaranteed a minimum payout of $110,225. And the winner will walk away with the first-place prize of $548,825, including a $15,000 package into the season-ending Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions.

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The post Frank Stepuchin Leads Final Table of WPT Gardens Poker Championship appeared first on Casino News Daily.

Springfield Sees Surge in Crime after MGM Casino Opening

Crime spikes in the area surrounding Massachusetts’ first full-scale commercial casino, according to police data

There were two times more crime incidents at newly launched MGM Springfield than at Plainridge Park Casino, the WCVB 5 Investigates team reported citing numbers provided by the Massachusetts State Police.

MGM Springfield opened doors in late August 2018 to great fanfare. Las Vegas gaming and hospitality powerhouse MGM Resorts International spent nearly $1 billion on building the property that spreads across several blocks in the city of Springfield in Massachusetts.

MGM Springfield’s gaming floor features both table games and slot machines, while Plainridge Park Casino, which was launched in 2015 in Plainville, only features slot machines.

A recent report by the Massachusetts State Police showed that there were 208 incidents at MGM Springfield since it opened doors until the end of 2018. Those included five assaults, two sexual offenses, and 16 larcenies and robberies, among others. More than 120 arrests were made during the property’s first four months of operation. At Plainridge Park Casino, there were 115 incidents throughout the whole year.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is expected to release a comprehensive report on crime in and around MGM Springfield during its first months of operation in March. The regulator has previously committed to transparent reporting of crime in- and outside the state’s gambling venues.

Surge of Crime in the Area of MGM Springfield

5 Investigates said in an article from Thursday that it has joined forces with the School of Journalism at Northeastern University to review crime data from police reports and compile their own report on crime rate in the area of MGM Springfield.

According to the team of journalists, Springfield police had previously said that there was no growth in crime in the area outside the casino resort.

City data showed that there were 22 crimes in the area of the property in the three months before it opened doors in downtown Springfield. Following its launch, there have been 115 crimes reported by local law enforcement, data further revealed.

In stark contrast, there was no surge in crime in and around Plainridge Park Casino during its earliest stages of operation, according to multiple reports conducted in the months after the slots-only casino was launched in Plainville. Those initial reports were later on supported by more comprehensive studies.

MGM Springfield was the first full-scale commercial casino to open doors under Massachusetts’ revised gambling law from the early 2010s. Another integrated resort with Las Vegas-style gambling is slated to swing its doors open for visitors and guest this summer. Wynn Resorts is building the property in the city of Everett in the Greater Boston area.

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The post Springfield Sees Surge in Crime after MGM Casino Opening appeared first on Casino News Daily.


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