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Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court gave the nod to states for sports betting, a number of states have legalized sports betting. Over the past week, several important developments have taken place in the country’s sports betting industry.
But even before we look at these stories, fresh updates from Europe indicate that taking advantage of the new European shared liquidity laws, Playtech’s iPoker Network has opened operations in France and Spain, with the door open for Portugal and Italy to follow suit. Meanwhile, the Federal Council of Switzerland has passed favorable gambling legislation that includes ending an existing ban on online gaming.
Coming back to U.S, Missouri lawmakers are reportedly making another bid to have sports betting approved in the state with a bill supporting the cause in the works. Another U.S state Virginia looks well on its way to push for sports betting with House Bill 1638.
iPoker has successfully entered the European shared liquidity market. After receiving shared liquidity poker licenses from French regulator ARJEL back in March 2018, iPokerrecently got the final nod from Spanish gambling regulator DGOJ, passing the final hurdle towards a planned launch for November 26.
Playtech owned iPoker Network is the first B2B poker network to enjoy the benefits of European shared liquidity laws entering the markets of France and Spain, with a possibility of opening operations in Portugal and Italy soon. With plans to merge Betclic and Unibet.fr in France and bet365, Betfair, Casino Barcelona and Sportium in Spain, iPoker seems poised to take the online poker world by storm.
Playtech COO, Shimon Akad was quoted saying, “The shared liquidity across the European markets represented a huge opportunity for the industry and was a significant move for their operators and players. You can find licensed Playtech Poker software in ten different European markets, with over 35,000 concurrent players enjoying multi-table tournaments (MTTs), Cash Games, Sit ’N’ Go and Twister tournaments.”
One of the largest governing bodies in Switzerland, the Federal Council of Switzerland, recently passed legislation in favour of gambling which includes the abolition of the existing ban on online gaming.
The Money Gaming Act enacted on November 7, will allow existing licensed casinos to bring casino games and poker online beginning January 1, 2019 with licenses expected to be issued starting in July.
This new legislation took six years to formulate and is based on the same protectionist model used in Belgium and the U.S., wherein online operators are required to hold a brick-and-mortar casino license.
Operators like PokerStars and Playtech will have to partner with any one of the 21 licensed casinos operating in the country if they wish to establish their roots within the country.
With a number of casino resorts already operational, Vietnam has seen rapid growth in its gaming market. And now, the country is about to allow its own residents to gamble in casinos, on a trial basis.
In the first step taken in this direction, a casino located on Phu Quoc Island has been given permission to offer gambling to Vietnamese citizens. As part of a pilot program that will run for a test period of three years, the casino which is owned by real-estate develop Vingroup and will open shop in 2019, will let locals gamble under certain conditions. Another casino is likely to soon offer legalized gambling to locals.
Part of the conditions are that the gamblers should be at least 21 years old, show valid proof of monthly income of minimum 10 Million Vietnamese dong ($432). Such prospective gamblers will have to pay a daily entrance fee of 1 Million dong ($44), or take a monthly pass for 25 Million dong ($1,080).
This move comes in to stop locals from travelling across the border to gamble. Vietnam is reportedly losing approximately $800 Million annually since lack of legal permission to gamble drives citizens to destinations like Cambodia. It is only in recent years that the country has identified gambling as a means to increase its tax revenues and taken steps toward legalization of gambling.
There are currently seven casino projects licensed for operation across various cities in Vietnam. Three other casino projects have requisitioned for licensing or are under construction. With a population of nearly 90 Million people, legalizing gambling for locals could drive many more casino companies to set base in Vietnam.
Although Missouri legalized casinos in 1992, sports betting is yet to find its way into the U.S. state. After a Sports Betting Bill sponsored by Representative Dean Piocher had failed to advance last year, the state’s lawmakers are reported to be working on circulating drafts of a sports betting bill that envisages an additional revenue of $60 Million annually to the state’s casino gaming revenue.
There are presently 13 riverboat casinos operational in Missouri, although they are no longer required to stay offshore, and are now stationary. St. Louis has the biggest casino market in the state with nearly half of the gaming revenue coming from the casinos running there. The casino owners have been pressing for legalization of sports betting in the state.
“I certainly anticipate it being out there for discussion before the House and the Senate,” Rep.Plocher said. Plocherinformed that multiple drafts of legislation were circulating since the high court issued its decision.
“Let’s be honest, the Supreme Court let the cat out of the bag on that one. There might as well be some continuity to it in how it’s regulated and enforced,” he said.
While Governor Mike Parson has expressed his neutrality to the idea of sports betting, legislators are working to iron out the bill. A spokesman for Governor Parson said that money generated by gambling should be spent on educational programs, as in casino gambling and lottery revenue.
Virginia is another U.S. state well on its way to legalize sports betting. The state’s lawmakers are reportedly drafting a legislation i.e. House Bill 1638 that will not only usher in sports betting, if passed it will also legalize online sales of lottery tickets in the state.
According to a Forbes report, the House Bill 1638 was pre-filed by Delegate Mark Sickles last week. The bill would see sports betting fall under the oversight of state lottery.
The legislation is also different from most other draft bills being prepared by states for sports betting for the fact that it seeks to offer no in-person wagering options. It also identifies a sports betting platform as a “website, app or other platforms accessible via the Internet or mobile, wireless, or similar communications technology that sports bettors use to place sports bets.”
House Bill 1638 also includes provisions like prohibition of any competitor, coach, trainer, employee or owner of a team in a professional sports event or any referee for a professional sports event from making a sports bet. Moreover, time-limits for sports betting licenses and number of sports betting licenses have also been outlined.
While there are no casinos in Virginia, pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing is legally permitted at licensed satellite facilities. The state’s legislators feel that permitting sports betting would create more jobs while relieving the state’s reliance on federal spending by diversifying the economy.