Sports Wagering and Expanded Gaming Headed to Florida

On April 23, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a thirty-year gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida (the “Tribe”) that is intended to bring sports wagering, craps, and roulette to the Sunshine State.  The compact, which the Governor’s office hailed as, “Larger and more expansive than any other gaming compact in U.S. history,” is projected to bring Florida over six billion dollars in revenue over the next decade.

The compact will permit the Tribe to offer sports wagering directly at its seven casinos and through a mobile platform.  Moreover, the Tribe may also offer branded sports wagering through the kiosks or mobile applications of partnering Qualified Pari-mutuel Permit Holders, which include horse tracks, jai-alai frontons, former dog tracks, cardrooms, and slot machine facilities.  Further, the compact permits Qualified Pari-mutuel Permit Holders to relocate, although the Tribe must approve certain moves.  However, by requiring that all sports wagering servers be on tribal land, all retail and mobile wagering will be deemed to be conducted by the Tribe at tribal facilities.

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By the Way, Maryland’s General Assembly Also Passed Fantasy Competitions

Much has been written about the Maryland General Assembly’s April 12 passage of sports betting legislation that, upon signature of the governor, will authorize up to 60 mobile licenses and more than 40 retail licenses here. The fact that the same piece of legislation – House Bill 940 – will also legalize, regulate, and tax fantasy competitions seems to have gotten lost in all the excitement. Would-be fantasy operators should note the following features of the law.

HB 940 legalizes and expressly exempts fantasy competitions from criminal laws against betting, wagering and gambling. It is fair to glean from the carve-out from criminal law, the title of the act (“Regulation of Fantasy Gaming Competitions”), and the invitation to the Lottery and Gaming Control Commission to establish a voluntary exclusion list for fantasy players that the General Assembly considered fantasy competitions gambling.
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Maryland Legislature Passes Sports Wagering Bill with Expansive Licensing Opportunities and Targeted Support for Women and Minorities

The number of sports wagering licenses in Maryland may ultimately reach the triple digits after  House Bill 940 was overwhelmingly approved by both chambers of the legislature on the last day of the state’s 2021 legislative session.  Surrounded by four states and the District of Columbia, which all offer live wagering, the legislature continued its game of catchup by passing the bill as an emergency bill, which will allow it to take immediate effect upon the signature of Governor Larry Hogan.  With a House vote of 122-16 and a Senate vote of 47-0, the expansive legislation creates opportunities for land-based licenses at in-state casinos, racetracks, professional sports stadiums, State Fairgrounds, simulcast betting facilities, bars, and restaurants and also for mobile licenses. Continue reading “Maryland Legislature Passes Sports Wagering Bill with Expansive Licensing Opportunities and Targeted Support for Women and Minorities”

Arizona Lawmakers Pass Sports Betting and Gaming Expansion Bill  

Arizona legislative leaders passed Arizona’s sports betting bill late Monday which sets the state for the legalization of land-based and state-wide online sports betting. Following the Arizona House of Representatives’ approval last month, the Arizona Senate approved Senate Bill 1797 with a 23-6 vote.  Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has indicated he will sign the bill once it reaches his desk for signature.

In summary, the bill legalizes sports betting, daily fantasy sports, retail and online keno, and mobile lottery draw games.  In regards to sports betting, the bill allows for 20 total licenses to be awarded for online sports betting.   The twenty licenses are designated as “event wagering licenses” which includes ten licenses designated for Indian tribes and ten licenses designated for professional sports franchises and facilities. Currently, Arizona is home to six professional sports franchises and facilities, including the Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Coyotes, Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Raceway and TPC Scottsdale, a PGA Tour affiliate.  Each event wagering operator may partner with a sportsbooks “designee” to operate its state-wide mobile sports wagering on the licensee’s behalf.

The event wagering licensee is also permitted to operate a land-based sportsbook in their stadium, or nearby retail locations that are within five miles of their designated facility, called a “limited event wagering license.”  The Arizona Department of Gaming is permitted to issue ten total limited event wagering licenses to authorize wagering at the ten specific retail locations.   Accordingly, the bill also permits an event wagering operator to partner with a racetrack enclosure that holds a permit issued by the Division of Racing to obtain one of the ten “limited event wagering license”.  The limited event wagering license only permits retail sports betting, and not online sports betting.

All licensed sportsbook are required to use official league data to settle “in-play” or “live” wagers.  Most significantly, the professional sports leagues are expressly permitted to share in the handle from the sports betting operators without requiring any gaming license or regulatory approval.

In addition to sports betting, Senate Bill 1797 permits fantasy sports operators to finally enter the Arizona market.  All fantasy sports operators must be licensed with the Department of Gaming.  Indian tribes that conduct Class III Gaming pursuant to the tribal-state gaming company may offer fantasy sports contests as well, either directly or through a third-party operator.

Key Components

  • Twenty total event wagering licenses are available
    • Ten licenses for Arizona professional sports franchise and facilities
    • Ten licenses for Indian tribes
  • Ten licenses for limited event wagering, for retail sports betting including racetracks and specific retail locations
  • The Department of Gaming will establish application fees and renewal fees for all licenses
  • Licensees are required to use official league data for live in-game wagers
  • Professional sports leagues are permitted to share in the handle from licensees without having to go through a separate licensing process
  • Fantasy sports contests are now legalized

Amendments to Arizona Tribal Gaming Compact

Governor Ducey plans to sign this bill to help facilitate amendments to the tribal gaming compact between Arizona and the 23 federally-recognized gaming tribes.  Following the signing of this bill, Governor Duce is expected to sign amendments to the state-tribal gaming compacts to allow tribes to expand casinos and offer additional table games such as baccarat, craps, and roulette.  The amendments also permit the Tribes to expand casinos to an unspecified number of new casinos in Phoenix.

New York Mobile Sports Betting Approved in Fiscal Year 2022 State Budget

New York Governor Cuomo and state legislative leaders have reached a tentative agreement on the Fiscal Year 2022 New York State budget paving a way for mobile sports betting in the Empire State.  here is a link to the Senate Bill 2509  .  The General Assembly must now vote to accept the budget and additional changes may be forthcoming.

In summary, the New York State Gaming Commission plans to issue a Request  or Proposal (“RFP”) by July 1, 2021, to select up to two providers to offer mobile sports wagering.  According to the April 6, 2021 revised Budget Bill, a “platform provider” is defined as “an entity selected by the [New York State Gaming Commission] to conduct mobile sports wagering pursuant to a competitive bidding process.”  The operators selected during in the RFP process would then be able to subcontract mobile betting contracts, also known as “skins”, to other providers.  The operators submitting proposals are required to house their mobile sports wagering platform provider server and other equipment with a licensed casino facility.  Based on existing publicly reported agreements and/or affiliations with upstate casinos,  FanDuel,  DraftKings, Bet365, and BetRivers may have such agreements in place.  However, as noted in the “platform provider” definition, any operator that has an agreement with an upstate casino is eligible, and therefore, already existing sportsbooks are not the only potential applicants.

The selected operators must offer at least four skins combined, but according to New York State Senator Joseph Addabo Jr. and chair of the State Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee, J. Gary Pretlow, there is no ceiling on the amount of skins available, but instead, what the “market can bear.”  The selected providers will pay a $25 million licensing fee and pursuant to a revenue-sharing agreement between New York and selected providers, New York is estimated to receive a minimum of 50% of gross gaming revenues.  Finally, the New York State Gaming Commission may select more providers if it determines additional licenses “are in the best interest of the state.”

Key Components

  • Two platform providers will be selected through a RFP process
  • “Platform Provider” is broadly defined in the law
  • The New York State Gaming Commission must issue a RFP no later than July 1, with a 30 day application window following the RFP
  • The New York State Gaming Commission has 150 days after the final application is received to select the providers
  • $25 million one-time licensing fee for each selected platform provider
  • Applicant must include its proposed skins in the application
  • Selected providers must combine for a minimum of four total skins
  • New York to receive a minimum of 50% of gross gaming revenue from the selected providers
  • Providers must have server located in land-based casino and will pay $5 million annually to the land-based casino to house the server, unless the provider is already affiliated with a land-based casino
  • No mandate on official league data, but there will be a preference for use of such data in the bidding process

Tribes, Racetracks, and OTBs Left Out of the Deal

Indian tribes located in New York were effectively left out of the bill besides a provision that rewards applicants additional points in the RFP selection process if they have a revenue sharing agreement with an Indian gaming operator.  The Onedia Indian Nation released a statement following the release of the agreement noting the mobile sports legislation would result in a breach of its ten-county gaming exclusivity zone and threatened to withhold $70 million in annual revenue sharing to the state as a result.  In addition, racetracks and off-track betting (“OTB”) locations were not included in the agreement, although previously proposed legislation would have allowed these operators to offer mobile betting.

If you have any questions about this please contact Frank A. DiGiacomo, Adam BergerJoseph F. Caputi, or any of the attorneys in our Gaming Industry Group.