The SCALER Weekly 4/10/24

SharpRank’s weekly updates on Compliance, Audit, Legislation, Ethics, & Regulation within the Sports Betting Industry.

Alabama Legislature Resumes Talks on Gambling Legislation Amid Amendments and Uncertainties

The Alabama Legislature is gearing up to resume discussions on contentious gambling legislation after a week-long pause. Gambling has remained a central point of debate throughout the legislative session, with two bills, HB151 and HB152, aiming to establish comprehensive gaming regulations. While both bills received substantial support in the House and Senate, the Senate’s amendments significantly altered the original proposals, including provisions for a statewide lottery and a mandate for the governor to negotiate a gambling compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI), while excluding sports betting and online gambling. The revised Senate bills, which also authorize pari-mutuel wagering, are currently awaiting action in the House, with lawmakers returning from Spring Break. State Rep. Chris Blackshear anticipates negotiations to resume this week. However, the path forward remains uncertain, with options for the House including voting to concur with the Senate’s substitutes, initiating a conference committee, or halting progress altogether. Governor Kay Ivey’s approval will be crucial, although she has expressed a need for thorough review of the amended legislation. Concerns have been raised by Senator Greg Albritton regarding the potential challenges in reaching a compromise, particularly given the constitutional amendment’s requirement for a three-fifths vote in each house.

The Full Story Here.

Controversy Surrounds Proposed Ban on AI in Sports Betting Legislation

New York Congressman Paul Tonko has proposed legislation to regulate the legal sports betting industry, with a notable inclusion being a ban on using artificial intelligence (AI) to track individual gambling habits. While Tonko’s aim is to prevent predatory practices, concerns have been raised about hindering AI technology’s potential to identify and prevent problem gambling and integrity breaches. The legislation, named the SAFE (Supporting Affordability and Fairness With Every) Bet Act, is still under development, and discussions revolve around balancing consumer safety with technological advancement. Despite the increasing importance of AI in detecting betting irregularities, questions remain regarding the definition of AI and its role in promoting responsible gambling. Optimove, for instance, has developed predictive models to identify high-risk players, emphasizing the need for real-time alerts to address irregular behavior effectively. Meanwhile, stakeholders weigh the potential impact of restricting AI on promotional strategies and addiction assistance efforts, emphasizing the delicate balance between regulation and innovation in the evolving landscape of sports betting.

The Full Story Here.

Survey Reveals DraftKings’ iGaming Lead, ESPN Bet’s Potential, and Parlays’ Importance in US Sports Betting Market

DraftKings and FanDuel dominate the US sports wagering market, with DraftKings leading in iGaming, according to a Truist survey. Despite DraftKings’ edge, both brands are highly valued, and DraftKings is expected to excel in marketing. Meanwhile, Penn Entertainment’s ESPN Bet, though relatively new, has shown potential, with consumers indicating preferences and willingness to integrate it for betting purposes. Parlays are crucial for operators’ profitability, with a majority of surveyed individuals favoring them, although usage levels vary. In the iGaming realm, DraftKings leads, followed by FanDuel and BetMGM, with Caesars Entertainment making strides in both iGaming and sports wagering, showcasing the importance of cross-selling and retention strategies.

The Full Story Here.

Mississippi Advances Online Sports Betting Proposal with Senate Committee Approval

Mississippi’s proposal for online sports betting has cleared its final Senate committee, paving the way for potential advancement to a floor vote. The bill, HB 774, differs slightly from the version passed by the House in February, potentially requiring reconciliation if approved by the full Senate before the April 11 deadline. Since Mississippi’s legalization of sports betting in 2018, the state has restricted online wagering to on-site locations, unlike Arkansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee, which have implemented statewide digital platforms. The Senate committee’s amendments to HB 774 include regulations for fantasy sports, limitations on player entries, and measures to address gray-market electronic gaming machines. The bill, featuring a 12% tax rate aligned with retail sports betting revenue, would authorize 26 licenses tied to the state’s commercial casinos. Despite a 22% decline in handle from January last year, Mississippi’s sports betting revenue surged 31.4% year-on-year in January 2024, signaling promising growth potential according to a task force report forecasting a significant increase in total handle following a mobile wagering launch.

The Full Story Here.

Louisiana to Ban College Athlete Prop Bets Starting August 1, 2024

Louisiana’s Gaming Control Board Chairman announced the prohibition of prop bets on college athletes, effective from August 1, 2024, following a statement from NCAA President Charlie Baker urging states to ban such bets. The decision, made well before the NCAA’s request, aims to address concerns about prop bets threatening the integrity of competitions and leading to harassment of athletes. This ban precedes the LSU Tigers’ opening game on September 1 against the University of Southern California Trojans in Las Vegas, marking a significant regulatory move in the realm of sports betting.

The Full Story Here.

NBA Fines 76ers for Injury Disclosure Violation

The NBA fined the Philadelphia 76ers $100,000 for breaching league rules regarding the disclosure of Joel Embiid’s injury status, following an investigation prompted by discrepancies between media reports and the team’s official injury updates. Despite speculation from credible NBA insiders about Embiid’s potential return, the 76ers consistently listed him as “out” until shortly before tip-off, when he was suddenly upgraded to “available.” This incident sheds light on broader issues of transparency and integrity in injury reporting across professional sports leagues, highlighting the impact of such practices on sports bettors and media partners.

The Full Story Here.

Iowa DCI’s Use of GeoComply Software Raises Legal and Privacy Concerns

In early 2022, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) sought assistance from GeoComply, a tech company, to track online betting activity in the state, especially among college athletes. GeoComply offered its software to the DCI, enabling agents to monitor betting patterns without warrants. However, controversy erupted when it was revealed that the DCI utilized GeoComply’s tool without legal authorization, raising concerns about privacy infringements and the legality of the investigations. Despite initial support from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, GeoComply eventually revoked its software access to the DCI amidst public backlash. This incident ignited debates regarding privacy rights, constitutional issues, and the regulation of sports betting in Iowa.

The Full Story Here.

Maryland Does Not Pass iGaming

Before the conclusion of Maryland’s 2024 legislative session, lawmakers failed to pass a bill aimed at legalizing iGaming. The proposed legislation, HB 1319, sponsored by Democrat state delegate Vanessa Atterbeary, sought to allow up to 30 operators to conduct online casino games in the state. These licenses, priced at $1 million for a five-year term, would have been accessible to existing land-based casinos, racetracks, and other entities through a competitive application process. Tax rates for most online casino games were slated to be set at a minimum of 55%, except for live dealer games, which would have incurred a 20% tax. Despite receiving approval in Maryland’s lower chamber with 92 votes in favor and 43 against, the bill faltered in the senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee. Opposition from the casino industry, citing concerns about potential job losses and market cannibalization, contributed to the bill’s failure. Furthermore, a poll commissioned by iGaming opponents revealed that 64% of respondents opposed online casino gambling. This setback in Maryland’s iGaming legalization reflects similar challenges encountered in other states like New York, Georgia, and Minnesota, indicating a broader impasse in online gambling expansion initiatives across various regions.

The Full Story Here.


Click here to read last week’s SCALER.