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.

FinCEN Director Addresses Gaming Industry

On August 13, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) Director Kenneth Blanco addressed the 12th Annual Las Vegas Anti-Money Laundering Conference and provided insights on his agency’s expectations for the ever-evolving gaming industry.

The following are some key takeaways:

Cost Cutting Poses National Security Threat. Director Blanco stressed that reports of compliance budget cuts by casinos looking to trim costs and retain gamblers is seen by FinCEN as a national security issue and not something the agency takes lightly. Further, despite FinCEN not publicizing any enforcement actions against a casino during the last year, it is continually looking at compliance across all financial institutions and will not hesitate to act if it identifies violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”). It is also important to note that not all enforcement actions are public—FinCEN often closes cases with warning letters sent to financial institutions or refers cases to our delegated examiners for additional review.

Casino Industry Trends. In terms of suspicious activity being reported in 2019, Minimal Gaming with Large Transactions is the highest reported activity with more than 5,000 Suspicious Activity Reports (“SAR”) reflecting this activity. Reports of Chip Walking have dramatically increased since this was added to the SAR form in the summer of 2018. Chip Walking is now the second most selected suspicious activity on the SAR form, with more than 4,400 reports being cited this year to date.

The other frequently cited suspicious activities include:

  • Transactions below CTR Threshold
  • Unknown Source of Chips
  • Two or More Individuals Working Together
  • Alteration or Cancelation of Transactions to Avoid CTR Requirement
  • Suspicion Concerns on the Source of Funds

Additional analysis of trends reported by casinos checking the “other” box on the SAR form includes reports of suspicious activity involving sports betting, abandoned jackpot, and bill stuffing.

Sports Betting and Mobile Gaming. Casinos and card clubs must integrate sports betting and mobile gaming products into their existing AML programs. FinCEN expects casinos and card clubs to collect cyber-related indicators through their mobile gaming or betting applications in order to monitor and report potentially suspicious activity. Examples of such cyber-indicators include: source and destination information, file information, subject user names, system modifications, and account information.

Relevance of Convertible Virtual Currency (CVC) Advisory to Casinos. There are generally two areas where CVC will intersect with casinos and card clubs: so-called CVC casinos on the internet, and physical casinos and card clubs that accept CVC for gaming.

As FinCEN’s CVC guidance points out, internet gaming sites that operate online without licensure from a state or tribal gaming regulator are not “casinos” for purposes of regulations implementing the BSA. However, they are likely operating as money transmitters. Money transmitters have their own obligations under the BSA and its implementing regulations, which includes a formal registration with FinCEN.

Casinos and card clubs that accept CVC from customers either on location or through mobile applications, need to ensure that CVCs are accounted for in policies, procedures, internal controls and risk assessments. This includes developing processes for reviewing and conducting due diligence on transactions in CVC, for conducting blockchain analytics to determine the source of the CVC, and incorporating CVC-related indicators into SAR filings.

Culture of Compliance. Critical to fostering a culture of compliance is utilizing enterprise-wide information and ensuring such information gets into the hands of compliance personnel. For example, information developed by casinos for business and marketing, as wells as information developed by casino security departments for combating and preventing fraud should be used by casino compliance personnel to monitor customers for suspicious activity. Similarly, a casino’s legal department should alert compliance personnel when a subpoena is received as it could trigger reviews of customer risk ratings and account activity. Moreover, larger casinos may have multiple affiliated casinos that could benefit from the sharing of information across the organization.

Innovation and BSA Value. In January 2019, FinCEN began an ambitious project to catalogue the value of BSA reporting across the entire value chain of its creation and use. The project will result in a comprehensive and quantitative understanding of the broad value of BSA reporting and other BSA information to all types of consumers of that information.

As an example, given the current state of the opioid epidemic, something a minor as the mobile phone number of a suspect from a casino SAR could be vitally important to a DEA agent since the suspect would provide a real phone number to ensure he is called when his winnings are wired out to a bank account. Using that mobile number, the agent can build out a communication tree and identify new individuals, entities, addresses or accounts. A DEA agent can also use this information to seek legal approval to wiretap or track the movement of the phone, identify potential informants, and build out a network of associates.

Preparing Your Casino For Iran Sanctions Compliance

As a result of the previously reported reimposition of United States nuclear-related sanctions against Iran, on October 11, 2018, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) released an Advisory that provides casinos, and other financial institutions, updated guidance for identifying possible Iranian related criminal transactions.

Continue reading “Preparing Your Casino For Iran Sanctions Compliance”

Christopher Soriano Speaking at Mastering Fantasy Sports and Online Gaming Law CLE

Duane Morris’ Christopher Soriano will be speaking at a telephonic seminar about fantasy sports, online gaming and digital sports gambling on February 28, 2018 at 12:00 p.m.

The teleconference will discuss the latest on Mastering Fantasy Sports and Online Gaming Law. The seminar will introduce the most relevant issues and solutions along with latest legal developments and Supreme Court decisions affecting the industry.

For more information and to register, please visit the event website.

Christopher Soriano Speaking at Seton Hall Law School’s Gambling Law Symposium

Duane Morris’ Christopher Soriano will be presenting at a gambling law symposium hosted by the Seton Hall Law School’s Continuing Legal Education at Seton Hall University on March 1, 2018 at 3:30 p.m.

The symposium will discuss New Jersey’s gambling laws while focusing on the following topics:

  • The New Jersey Constitution, Statutes, Rules, and Regulations Governing Gambling
  • The Definition of Gambling Under New Jersey Law: The Chance Versus Skill Debate Involving Fantasy Platforms and Poker
  • The Impact Of Technological Advances Upon Laws Governing The Placement of Wagers On Horse races
  • Overview Of Supreme Court’s Sports Betting Case and
  • On-Line Casino and Other Forms of Gambling Under Federal and New Jersey Law

For more information and to register, please visit the event website.

Can You Get Busted for Your Bracket? Duane Morris Partner Christopher Soriano on Office Pools, Fantasy Sports and All Things Gaming Law

Duane Morris partner Christopher Soriano of the firm’s Cherry Hill office appeared on a recent broadcast of the “Wagner & Winick on the Law” radio program, during which he joined co-hosts Dean Mitchel Winick and Professor Stephen Wagner, both of Monterey College of Law, to discuss the interplay of federal and state laws in the United States related to regulating gambling and how many of these laws are outdated. A sampling of the topics discussed include Internet gaming, office brackets, fantasy sports, casinos and the lottery.

Within the context of the NCAA March Madness Tournament, Mr. Soriano provided insights on the gaming law implications of office bracket tournaments, which, as in most instances where people put in money on the results of a sporting event, are illegal for the most part. Mr. Soriano also commented on the developing area of fantasy sports and the important distinction to be drawn between games of skill and games of chance. For example, the traditional season-long fantasy sports contests are considered legal because skill is involved; while daily fantasy contests have been viewed as being illegal games of chance. Therefore, where is the line between when something is a contest of skill and when it is a contest of chance?

To listen to the radio program in its entirety, please visit the Recent Podcasts, Webcasts and Audio section on the Duane Morris website.