New York’s recent State Budget law changed the gaming regulatory structure in New York state moving forward. The new law, the relevant parts of which become effective on October 1, 2012, created the New York State Gaming Commission, a new agency which will take over the regulation and responsibilities for all forms of legalized in New York including Class III Indian Gaming, pari-mutual wagering(both on-track and off-track wagering), bingo and chartable games of chance, the lottery and prospective New York casinos.
Pennsylvania property owners received increased rebates this year toward their school tax bills as part of the Commonwealth program of using a share of gaming tax revenue to aid citizen’s property tax burden. The payments fulfill the promise of the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Act to ”provide a significant source of new revenue to the Commonwealth to support property tax relief, wage tax reduction, economic development opportunities and other similar initiatives. 4 .P.S. 1102 Legislative Intent (2004). However, the signature intent behind Pennsylvania’s creation of a gaming industry, which is now second only to Nevada’s in casino revenue among the states, “to enhance live horse racing, breeding programs, entertainment and employment in this Commonwealth, has not proven as easily achieved. Successive administrations in Harrisburg have sought to lower the revenue originally intended for the benefit of Pennsylvania’s horse racing industry.
The Wall Street Journal reported on April 25, 2012, that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D) Nevada, and Sen. Jon Kyl, (R)-Arizona. are preparing legislation which would legalize online poker but outlaw many other forms of online gambling, including the type of internet wagering currently being contemplated by states such as New Jersey, Nevada and California.
The Journal reported that the federal legislation being drafted is “rattling state governments, even though few details have been made public.” The draft legislation purportedly would not only create a federally controlled internet based wagering system for online poker, but it will prohibit individual states from allowing many other forms of online gambling.
Congratulations to Duane Morris partner J. Scott Kramer on being appointed Chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Gaming Law Committee for 2012-13. Scott will lead the committee as it endeavors to review, study and make recommendations concerning legislative proposals in the area of gaming law; promote the understanding of laws, regulations and court decisions; and develop materials and educational programs to promote improvements in the field of gaming law.
The recent New Jersey internet wagering legislation, co-sponsored by N.J. State Senators Lezniak and Whelan, appears to have momentum. The buzz throughout the state capital is that some version of the legislation will be passed soon, perhaps as early as June. As with a similar internet wagering bill that passed the New Jersey Legislature last year prior to being vetoed by the Governor, only Atlantic City casinos will be permitted to offer gamblers the ability to wager of the internet.
The attention of legislators, state regulators and licensed casino operators has increasing turned to an alternative gambling trend—Internet sweepstakes cafes. Calls for bans have spurred legislative efforts in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts and other states. The cafes exploit state gambling laws which generally permit sweepstakes–defined as free game promotions which avoid characterization as gambling or illegal lotteries by managing the operative variables of consideration, chance and prize.
Per the gaming revenue numbers released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, in March, Pennsylvania’s casinos achieved a new high in gross table games revenue. While this may have been expected due to the recent opening of the Valley Forge Casino Resort, the increase was primarily due to significant gross revenue increases at Harrah’s Chester Downs with close to $7.9 million in gross table revenue from 125 tables, Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem with $12.1 million in gross revenue from 152 tables and Parx Casino with $11 million in gross revenue from 183 tables. There were an average of 1,028 tables in operation across Pennsylvania in March, and they brought in gross revenue of $61.9 million. March’s table games revenues surpassed the previous all-time high for table games, when Pennsylvania casinos raked in $56.6 million with an average of 854 tables in February, 2012.
Following the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s recent rejection of the final appeal by Philadelphia Entertainment Development Partners (“PEDP”)/Foxwoods in connection with the revocation of the PEDP/Foxwoods casino license – the looming question is what happens now with that license? Philadelphia developer, Bart Blatstein has expressed his desire to build a casino, entertainment retail complex on Broad and Callowhill Streets. One small problem with Blatstein’s proposal, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has taken no steps towards accepting any applications or proposals for the now revoked, remaining Philadelphia casino license.
The newly composed, five member Massachusetts Gaming Commission convened for its inaugural meeting on April 10, 2012. The good news – the Commission selected experienced gaming consultants to assist it in developing a plan for staffing, budgeting and administration of casino gaming in Massachusetts. The bad news – the Gaming Commission does not expect to award the casino licenses until 2014 at the earliest. That means no operating casinos in Massachusetts for three to five years. Massachusetts’s gaming law gives the Gaming Commission the power to permit up to three full resort casinos, one each in the Greater Boston area (Region A: Suffolk, Middlesex, Essex, Norfolk and Worcester counties); southeastern Massachusetts (Region B: Bristol, Plymouth, Barnstable, Nantucket and Dukes counties); and western Massachusetts (Region C: Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin and Berkshire counties). Continue reading “The Massachusetts Gaming Commission Holds its First Meeting”
On April 3, 2012, the New Jersey Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee moved forward an Internet wagering bill which will allow Atlantic City, NJ casinos to offer both New Jersey residents and persons outside of New Jersey the opportunity to place a wagers on casino games via the Internet. The latest version of the bill expanded the potential persons who could wager to include gamblers in other states and countries, suject to state gaming regulators agreeing that it is legal to accept such wagers.