Agen Casino 2018

Pennsylvania officially became the fourth US state to legalize online gambling when Gov. Tom Wolf signed the comprehensive gambling expansion bill on his desk last week. Now, the question is: Who will get online first? The Pennsylvania Senate approved H 271 on Oct. 25, legalizing online poker and online gambling in PA. The very next day, the House approved that bill by a vote of 109-72. New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada were previously the only US states to pass online gambling legislation. The PA gaming expansion The new law makes it legal to operate online slot machines, online table games and online poker throughout Pennsylvania. However, there are also a number of other gambling expansion initiatives attached. The new law regulates:
Daily fantasy sports
Sports betting (should it be legalized federally)
Online lottery sales
Video gaming terminals at approved truck stops
Tablet gaming in approved airports It also authorizes the construction of up to ten satellite casinos at under-serviced locations a specified distance from one of Pennsylvania’s 12 existing casino operations. Online gambling in Pennsylvania now legal Tax rates were heavily debated in the lead up to the passage of the law. PA lawmakers ultimately settled on the very same tax rates brick and mortar casinos in the state are already paying. This includes:
54 percent for online slots
16 percent for online poker
16 percent for online table games The state’s existing 12 casinos now have 90 days to apply for a license to operate the three different forms online gambling. PA casinos can apply for a license for all three. It will cost $10 million. PA casinos are also welcome to apply for any of the three separately. These licenses will cost $4 million each. If any of the 36 available licenses remain unclaimed following the 90-day period, companies outside of the existing 12 PA casinos will be allowed to apply for them. Getting ready for market While it took New Jersey close to nine months to launch of regulated online gambling from the day online gambling legislation passed, PA is expected to get things done a little faster. Regulators in New Jersey have paved a path for Pennsylvania. Plus, the process may be fast-tracked because it will only involve existing gambling licensees at the outset. It is also worth noting that Pennsylvania’s fiscal year ends in June. Lawmakers are certainly hoping to see the initial licensing fees come in before then, ensuring the revenue is on the books for the current fiscal year. Still, the question remains as to which of PA’s 12 existing casinos will be applying for the first licenses. Possibly passing Penn National Gaming operates the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course. The organization has been critical of some aspects of gambling expansion, particularly satellite casinos. It is unlikely to apply for one of the first online gambling licenses as it is reportedly pursuing legal options to combat the law entirely. Parx Casino was critical of proposed tax rates in the creation of the bill. Parx executives also expressed a fear online gambling operations would cannibalize the brick and mortar casino business. It remains unclear if the legislation that passed will draw Parx online. Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem owner Las Vegas Sands Corporation and its CEO and Chairman Sheldon Adelson have represented the largest opposition to online gambling legislation in the US for years. It might appear hypocritical if Sands applies for a license in PA. However, the competition may force its hand. Ready to roll Philadelphia’s SugarHouse Casino and owners Rush Street Gaming launched a New Jersey online gambling site under the Golden Nugget Atlantic City’s internet gaming permit in September 2016. Considering the company’s interest in online gambling, and the fact it has the software ready to roll, SugarHouse Casino could very well be one of the first to apply for table games and slots license in PA. Caesars Entertainment owns and operates Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack. Its Caesars Interactive Entertainment subsidiary also runs World Series of Poker-branded online poker rooms in New Jersey and Nevada. The Nevada site also shares player pools with 888 Poker online poker sites in Delaware under an agreement between the two states signed in 2015. New Jersey also signed on to join the agreement in October. As a result, Harrah’s and Caesars are a good bet to apply for one of the first online poker licenses in PA.

1 What the PA gaming expansion bill does
2 Online gambling licensing in Pennsylvania
3 Will it get signed?
4 About those tax rates…
5 The journey begins for legal online gambling in Pennsylvania With the stroke of a pen, online poker and gambling will become legal in Pennsylvania. The bill lies on a desk awaiting the signature of Gov. Tom Wolf, who has ten days to sign it. On Wednesday, Oct. 25, after several years of tweaking and amending, the Pennsylvania Senate approved H 271 which legalizes online poker and online gambling in PA. Today, the House approved that bill by a vote of 109-72. All that remains for the bill to become law is for the governor to lend it his autograph. Pennsylvania would become the fourth state to legalize online poker and gambling, following New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. Estimates for additional government revenue brought in by this bill are around $250 million. What the PA gaming expansion bill does The bill would legalize online slot machines, online table games and online poker throughout Pennsylvania. It also regulates daily fantasy sports, sports betting (if federally legalized), online lottery, video gaming terminals at truck stops, and tablet gaming in airports. It also authorizes up to ten satellite casinos, which are smaller template gambling centers set up in lower population zones. Additionally, the bill changes Category 3 licenses to remove the membership fee for a higher one-time fee. The government outlines its fiscal estimates on the bill here. Online gambling licensing in Pennsylvania After the bill is signed into law, the state’s existing 12 casinos would have 90 days to apply for a discounted license to operate all three forms online gambling (poker, slots, and table games). The discounted price is $10 million, which after 90 days increases to $4 million per license. Only after the existing PA casinos decide whether or not to apply for a license can out-of-state entities apply to be an online gambling operator. Will it get signed? Wolf has historically maintained a cautiously open-minded approach toward online gaming legislation. But confidence is high that he will sign it. His main hesitation has been that online gaming should not steal revenue away from Pennsylvania’s current legal casinos and gaming outlets. The bill’s tax rate would be 16 percent for poker and table games. Online slot machines would be set at 54 percent to match the current rate set for land-based slots in the commonwealth. About those tax rates… It appears legislators have come to an agreement that these are suitable tax rates that they believe will not impact local gaming businesses, but others disagree. Eric Schippers of Penn National, which operates the Hollywood Casino, has been quoted saying it is considering suing to stop the bill. “We’re considering our legal options because this would have a uniquely punitive effect on our casino, more so than any other casino in the state,” Schippers said. Penn National’s issue with the bill centers around the fact that the company believes satellite casinos will impact its business more than other casinos throughout Pennsylvania. In an earnings call Thursday morning, Schippers saw “significant flaws” in the bill, noting the 54 percent tax rate for slots. “We’re going to have to weigh all our options, and we’re going to have to dissect the 970 pages and go from there,” Schippers said. Other critics of the tax rate have come forward to say that if $10 million is the price tag, no one will pay it. With razor thin margins in New Jersey for online gaming, there are few if any who would risk $10 million for such a slow and uncertain return on investment. With questionable trends in Pennsylvania’s slot machine performance, a high tax rate may not be the appropriate solution to declining revenues. The journey begins for legal online gambling in Pennsylvania Time money will tell if the current tax rate will make sense for Pennsylvania. One thing is certain. If Wolf signs the bill, it will only be the end of the beginning of online gaming’s legislative struggle.

1 A tight race at the top
2 Just two PA casinos see declines
3 More than $108 million in taxes collected For the first time this year, Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem became Pennsylvania’s top-grossing casino in September. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board released total gambling revenue figures for the month of September last week, showing Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem pulled in more than $47.5 million. Parx Casino has held the revenue lead every month this year prior to September. However, the Philadelphia-area casino fell to second among the state’s 12 casino properties, posting $47.4 million in revenue throughout the month. Parx was the top-grossing casino in the state in 2016. It claimed more than $551 million in annual gambling revenue. Sands was a close second, posting a little more than $535 million throughout the year. While Parx held a strong lead in slots revenue in 2016, Sands earned almost $70 million more from table games, bridging the gap. A tight race at the top It has been close at the top through the first eight months of the year. However, Parx has been putting a small distance between itself and Sands every month until September. With just three more months until the end of they year, Parx would still have to be considered the favorite to remain Pennsylvania’s top-grossing casino in 2017. The news was good across the board for Pennsylvania’s gambling industry in September. In fact, total gaming revenue was up more than $10 million, or 3.86 percent, compared to September 2016. Total statewide gambling revenue hit $271 million in September compared to $260.9 million in the same month last year. Just two PA casinos see declines In fact, just two PA casinos saw revenues decline. Mohegan Sun Pocono’s total gambling revenues were down 3.56 percent from $21.5 million in September 2016 to $20.7 million last month. Additionally, Presque Isle Downs and Casino saw its total gambling revenue drop 3.37 percent from $11.5 million in September of last year to $11.1 million last month. The biggest gains were seen by Mount Airy Casino Resort. Its total gambling revenue jumped 8.69 percent from $15.9 million in September 2016 to $17.3 million last month. Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh also saw some impressive gains. Its total gambling revenue rose 8.02 percent from $26.1 million in September of last year to $28.2 million last month. Statewide table game revenues were up nearly 10 percent from $68.7 million in September 2016 to $75.6 million last month. However, slot machines continue to be the biggest earners at PA casinos. In September 2017 alone, statewide total slot revenues hit more than $195 million. More than $108 million in taxes collected Pennsylvania collects a 16 percent tax on table game revenues and a 54 percent tax rate on slot machine revenues. The total tax gambling tax revenue collected by the state in September 2017 was $108,307,631.75. Pennsylvania lawmakers are still considering legalizing online gambling in the state as a part of budget deliberations this year. The hope is online gambling can bring in an additional $200 million in tax revenue for the state. Image credit: Andy Borysowski /

1 Penn National Gaming
2 Pinnacle Entertainment Rumor has it one Pennsylvania casino giant is in talks to take over one of its competitors. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Penn National Gaming was in discussions with Pinnacle Entertainment regarding a possible merger. Representatives from both companies refused to comment. However, stock prices for both companies went up in the wake of the rumors. Penn National Gaming Penn National Gaming has its headquarters in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. However, the company has its roots in the Penn National Race Course in the Harrisburg suburb of Grantville. Also, the company owns and operates some 26 gaming properties in the US and manages one in Canada. In Pennsylvania, it owns and operates the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville. This property includes the Penn National Race Course that opened in 1972 with a one-mile dirt course and seven-furlong turf course. Also, the track hosts thoroughbred racing 52 weeks per year. Additionally, the Hollywood Casino opened at the property in February 2008. Table games were added in accordance with state laws in July 2010. The casino now boasts almost 2,500 slot machines and more than 50 tables. Also, there is a live poker room on site. The Hollywood Casino brand is Penn National Gaming’s largest. In fact, Hollywood Casino has properties in seven other states, including:
Missouri Some of Penn National Gaming’s highest profile casino properties include M Resort in Henderson, Nevada and Tropicana Las Vegas on the Las Vegas Strip. Pinnacle Entertainment Pinnacle Entertainment has its headquarters in Spring Valley, Nevada. However, the company traces its roots back to the Hollywood Park Turf Club racetrack in Inglewood, California. It now operates 16 casinos in nine states and a horse track in Texas. States with Pinnacle Entertainment-run casinos include:
Ohio Pinnacle Entertainment’s Pennsylvania casino is the Meadows Racetrack and Casino. The Meadows Racetrack and Casino is a standardbred harness racing track and casino just outside of Pittsburgh. A temporary casino opened at the track in 2007. However, it was replaced by a permanent casino facility in April 2009. Also, table games were added in July 2010. Additionally, there are more than 3,000 slots, 65 table games and a 14-table poker room at Meadows. Pinnacle purchased Meadows for $138 million in September 2016. Pinnacle Entertainment’s largest casino brand is Ameristar. Plus, Ameristar properties can be found in:
Colorado The rumors persists the two companies have held on-again, off again talks with Penn National Gaming interested in buying Pinnacle Entertainment. However, the two sides have not agreed on terms so far.

The Pennsylvania House will have three online gaming bills to choose from following the introduction of an online gaming bill by Representative Tina Davis. The Pennsylvania House of Representative Gaming Oversight Committee will also host two online gambling hearings in the coming weeks, one on April 16 and a second one on May 6. Davis is a known commodity on this issue as she was an early adopter of legalizing online gaming in PA. Davis first took up the cause back in 2013, but despite her history on this issue, the bill that is likely to be acted upon is the one introduced by Gaming Oversight Chairman John Payne. Representative Payne and HB 649 Payne’s bill (HB 649) is good reflection of the current landscape, as it doesn’t contain bad actor language and expressly allows for interstate compacts. Additionally, as the GO Committee Chair, and with the support of GO Committee Democratic Co-Chair Nick Kotik, the bill has top-down support from both sides of the aisle. In addition to the details noted above, Payne’s bill calls for the following:
Online gaming sites to be run by brick and mortar casinos licensed in Pennsylvania.
$5 million licensing fee for operators and $1 million for “significant” vendors.
A 14 percent tax on gross gaming revenue. While similar in nature, the other two bills that have been introduced have significant flaws. Representative Davis and HB 920 Davis’s bill is a carbon copy of her 2013 bill and is simply too short on details to be a contender, especially when you consider the crux of Davis’s bill (HB 920) is the same as the more detailed Payne bill. This shouldn’t be an issue, as Davis, who is also a member of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, cosponsored Representative Payne’s bill. Put this all together and it seems highly unlikely Davis’s bill will be the one that moves forward. Representative Miccarelli and HB 695 In contrast, Representative Nick Miccarelli’s bill (HB 695) calls for a starkly different path forward for PA online gaming. Unfortunately, the bill doesn’t really reflect the online gaming landscape of 2015. The bill would legalize online poker only and contains strict bad actor language that would prohibit PokerStars from applying for a license. Like Davis, Miccarelli is also a cosponsor of Payne’s HB 649. Last year this would have been a perfectly reasonable bill (Caesars was lobbying for just such a bill in 2014), but the consensus opinion in the industry in 2015 is online poker by itself will not produce enough revenue for the state to bother regulating, and with the new alliance between Caesars and PokerStars, the calls for strict bad actor language have diminished. Miccarelli’s bill is a legitimate alternative to the legislation introduced by Representative Payne, but it seems unlikely to gain any traction due to its restrictive nature. April 16 hearing On April 16 the House Gaming Oversight Committee will, for the first time in 2015, host a hearing focused completely on online gambling. The hearing is part of a host of hearings (dealing with online gambling, skill versus chance, and the 2014 small games of chance bill) scheduled by GO Chairman Payne in what he calls an effort to keep Pennsylvania’s gaming industry healthy and competitive. Online gaming has already been discussed this session, as a pair of informal hearings on gaming held at Harrah’s Philadelphia and Sugarhouse Casino on March 18 turned into impromptu online gaming hearings in their own right. You can watch one of the hearings here. A second hearing, dubbed an informational hearing on online gaming (the hearing also tried to define games of skill versus games of chance) was held on April 1. You can also watch that hearing here. According to the legislative calendar, the April 16 hearing will also be broadcast. May 6 hearing added Yet another online gaming hearing has been added to the legislative calendar on May 6. It’s unclear at this time if the hearing will be broadcast at this time. The series of hearings seems to be a strong indicator of Pennsylvania’s interest in online gaming expansion. Payne’s plan Representative Payne told that his goal is to gather all the facts and then present them to the legislature: These hearings could culminate with one of the above mentioned online gambling bills passing the GO Committee and possibly being called to the floor for a vote. Another path forward might be for the bill to be swallowed into the state’s budget, as it has tax implications. It would seem that with his online gaming bill and the slew of hearings he has called, Payne’s plan to keep Pennsylvania gaming healthy and competitive is on the right track.

The future of the Lawrence Downs Casino and Racing Resort project outside of Pittsburgh is again in doubt, according to a report by The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The problems for Lawrence Downs Joseph Procacci, the main investor in Lawrence Downs, has said through his attorney, John O’Riordan, that his plans for the casino and track could be scuttled. From the Trib-Review: Among the deadlines put in place? The first race at Lawrence Downs must be hosted by October of 2017. Seeing as the project is still not close to having ground broken, getting the track complete in less than two years seems like an unlikely timeframe. The Trib-Review also noted that “losing the project would cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue,” according to O’Riordan. Procacci is the sixth investor to attempt to complete a racino in Lawrence County since 2004, the T-R reported. The appeal is expected to be considered before the end of the year. The lay of the land in Western PA for gambling Lawrence Downs, if and when it is completed, would become the second racino and fourth overall gambling establishment in that part of Pennsylvania — fifth if you count Presque Isle Downs and Casino near Erie. There have been some concerns about market saturation for gaming in that part of the state; that’s part of the reason why Penn National reportedly backed out of plans to develop Lawrence Downs. Given the problems over the past decade with bringing Lawrence Downs to fruition, it’s fair to wonder if Procacci is truly the last hope for getting the project done. Racino issues come amid possible giant gaming expansion in PA As the Lawrence Downs racino faces an uncertain future, a possible gambling expansion could drastically change the landscape in Pennsylvania. A bill that once was simply an online poker and gambling regulation bill has been turned into a catch-all expansion bill that recently passed a House committee vote. That bill would, as written, make a number of changes to state gaming law. For example:
Racinos could offer slot machines at up to four off-track betting locations.
Airports could add slots if partnered with casinos.
Liquor service could be offered around the clock at casinos, with an additional fee. The desire to implement these and other gaming expansions — and the impetus to actually get Lawrence Downs up and running — are both open questions at this point.

1 What’s ahead for Mason-Dixon Downs
2 Local residents don’t want a racino
3 Has PA gaming industry already his saturation point? Adams County businessman David LeVan hopes luck will be on his side this time when trying to put a casino near Gettysburg. Right now there are 12 casinos in Pennsylvania. If LeVan has anything to say about it, that number will become 13 in a few years. In January, LeVan applied for the only available casino license in the state. That license would allow gambling along with harness racing. The name of the proposed casino is Mason-Dixon Downs. It will, assuming permits are secured, operate in Freedom Township. In a letter drafted by LeVan’s legal counsel, he said the casino and racetrack will boost the local economy. “Mason-Dixon Downs will deliver unprecedented opportunities for Freedom Township, surrounding communities, Adams County, local business, and most importantly, residents through hundreds of jobs,” said in a copy of the letter posted on “Host communities have received tens of millions of dollars in gaming funds for important projects and enhancements.” What’s ahead for Mason-Dixon Downs To build the casino and racetrack, LeVan will have to draft a land development plan. It will have to appease the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Should LeVan be successful with both organizations, he’ll have licensure as a designated harness-racing facility and a Category 1 casino. However, LeVan faces strong opposition from Freedom Township residents. Local residents don’t want a racino LeVan has tried to win approval for a license twice in the past 12 years. Both times he failed, and both times he proposed sites near Gettysburg. One of the factors impeding his progress is the opinions of locals, who are, in many cases, fiercely protective of the tranquil environs in and around Gettysburg. The most vocal opponents are part of No Gettysburg Casino, an initiative focused on keeping casinos out of the area. No Casino Gettysburg Chairperson Susan Paddock called Mason-Dixon Downs a “failing proposition” in an interview with a local Fox affiliate. “The nation is infuriated at the idea of taking this hallowed ground and putting a casino anywhere near it,” Paddock said. “It’s a failing proposition because there simply aren’t enough people here to make a casino work.” The No Casino Gettysburg contingent was also outspoken in 2011 when the PGCB decided not to grant LeVan a license for a Gettysburg-area casino. Penn Live wrote that opponents in attendance the day of the PGCB’s ruling let loose with “shouts, cheers and ovation” when the decision was announced. Has PA gaming industry already his saturation point? In addition to the concerns above, there is also the possibility that the state simply doesn’t need more casinos. Gaming revenue in PA has been down year-over-year in recent months. And while a new casino could be additive in revenue, it might also cannibalize existing revenue. The state legislature is considering a wide range of possible gaming expansions, including legislation that would authorize PA online casinos.

Online gaming hearing season is upon us. The Pennsylvania Committee on Gaming Oversight has already hosted one formal hearing on online gambling (and several other informal hearings), and has yet another on the schedule for May 6. California’s Governmental Oversight Committees in the Assembly and Senate are prepping for online poker hearings of their own, including two joint hearings (on May 22 and June 24) between the Assembly and Senate GO Committees. These hearings will likely see the usual cast of characters brought in to testify, which means some will be good and some not so good. Here is the list of people I would invite to speak at an online gaming hearing were I in charge of the invites. I’m going to abstain from listing any of the iGaming industry’s consultants, executives and power players at online gaming sites, or people whose livelihood is completely tied to online gaming. The goal isn’t to stack the deck with pro-gaming witnesses, it’s to create a comprehensive and well-balanced list of people who will tell it like it is, with a couple of advocates and detractors thrown in for good measure. The way I see it, there are six categories that need to be addressed. 6. Does the technology work? The efficacy of the technology in place at online gaming sites is one of the most hotly debated topics between iGaming advocates and detractors, yet the people who are in charge of making sure the technology the industry uses is up to the challenge are rarely invited to speak at hearings. Instead we get hypothetical assessments and blanket speculation from laymen masquerading as experts on technology they don’t fully understand, have never used, or simply don’t trust. If you really want to understand the capabilities of the technology being employed in the iGaming industry you need to talk to these two people. Anna Sainsbury GeoComply GeoComply is responsible for a lot of the geolocation technology being used in the regulated online gaming industry, and Anna Sainsbury, GeoComply’s CEO, has done a great job of calmly and coolly explaining how the company’s technology works whenever she has been asked to do so. The real-time demonstrations of geolocation technology slams the door on any detractor trying to poo-poo the ability to ring-fence a market. Matthew Katz CAMS CAMS is one of several companies handling the all-important player verification checks for regulated online gaming sites. CAMS CEO Matthew Katz is well-versed on the topic, as well as being open and honest when it comes to how the company performs these Know Your Customer (KYC) checks, as well as their limitations. 5. That’s all well and good, but let’s look at the numbers The next topic that needs to be addressed is the numbers. How much revenue can online gambling bring in and what will the market size look like? Forget Morgan Stanley and their ever-changing predictions about the potential size of the U.S. online gaming market. Or Wells Fargo and their pipe dream estimates of the potential revenue in New Jersey. Lawmakers need to hear from focused gaming analysts who have spent countless hours poring over online gambling revenue and traffic data, and more importantly, analysts who understand the iGaming zeitgeist. Chris Krafcik Gambling Compliance is considered one of, if not the top industry publication on a number of fronts including market data analysis, and Chris Krafcik is the man at the helm. Few people can match Krafcik when it comes to experience in this field. Krafcik has testified at several hearings, including the contentious hearing that took place in California in April of 2014. Adam Krejcik Adam Krejcik, an Eilers analyst and veteran of the gaming conference circuit, is another person who can be trusted to properly analyze data and make level-headed predictions of where the industry will be in five or ten years. 4. Opinions of problem gambling experts might surprise you What makes problem gambling such an important issue is that detractors of online gambling like to portray the industry as something that will expand the problem gambling rolls, but when you talk to the experts, they paint a different picture. An often-overlooked aspect of online gaming is its ability to detect problem gambling behavior. Similarly, by regulating online gaming, states are able to funnel more funds into problem gambling initiatives, such as the way New Jersey forces online operators to set aside $250,000 to fund problem gambling research and help groups. Keith Whyte Keith Whyte is the National Director for the National Council on Problem Gambling, so he’s certainly not a big fan of gambling of any kind. That being said, he’s also a thoughtful witness, and understands that online gambling is already available in the U.S., and unless we go full police state online gambling is likely to always be available in the U.S. in some way, shape or form. Whyte has repeatedly stated that online gaming sites have better detection methods than brick and mortar casinos, and he’s also indicated that proceeds from online gambling can be used to fund problem gaming initiatives. Parry Aftab Parry Aftab’s day job is Internet security, but the head of WiredSafety has long held the point of view that regulation of online gambling would help protect Americans, particularly kids and at risk gamblers. Aftab proved to be a credible and knowledgeable witness during her performance at the recently held hearing in Congress on Sheldon Adelson’s proposed online gambling ban, RAWA. The fact that she doesn’t have any allegiances to iGaming also helps her integrity. 3. Don’t forget the lobbyists No hearing would be complete without letting each side make the case for or against regulating online gambling. The trick to picking which lobbyist to invite is to keep the vitriol and the hyperbole to a minimum, which can sometimes be hard when dealing with lobbyists and gambling. With that in mind, my suggestion would be to invite two people (one from each camp) and allow them to make their case for and against online gambling. What we don’t need are anti-gambling zealots with their own agendas asking for policies that are either archaic or will simply never come to pass. John Pappas The head of the Poker Players Alliance has proven himself time and time again to be well spoken, insightful, and educated on why online gambling regulation would be a positive for the casino industry, state, and the players. John Pappas is a regular speaker at hearings, has submitted testimony to Congress, and is a veteran of gaming conferences. Andy Abboud Proving I’m willing to hear from both sides, I’d be more than happy to have Andy Abboud, or another representative handpicked by Sheldon Adelson to appear and testify. There are enough logical, factual based speakers on my hypothetical panel to allow one person to go completely off the rails and make wild unsubstantiated accusations. There are two reasons for this:
Most of the time they do more harm than good.
I truly believe our side has the facts and the better argument. 2. Regulators… mount up One of the many glaring omissions at the recent Congressional RAWA hearing was the lack of any regulator on the witness list. As Chris Grove noted, they held a hearing on regulated online gambling without inviting any regulators. This is a particularly egregious oversight when you consider three states (two in close proximity to Washington D.C.) have legalized online gaming, and four others have legalized online lottery sales. I would be happy with virtually any gaming regulator from one of these states, but two really stand out in my mind. David Rebuck My first choice would be the man who is currently in charge of overseeing the nation’s largest regulated online poker market, New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement chief David Rebuck. Not only has the DGE done a stellar job regulating the industry, they’ve also been forthcoming with their data and assessments, and gone above and beyond to allow iGaming press access to their bureau chiefs. AG Burnett My second choice would be AG Burnett, the head of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Burnett is my second choice because his state has only legalized online poker and doesn’t have to oversee online casino games. But as the nation’s oldest gaming state, any Nevada regulator should be well-versed on the industry, and Burnett has proven himself several times at gaming conferences where he has done an excellent job explaining the capabilities and difficulties of regulating online gambling. 1. I fought the law and the law… testified? The legality and enforcement measures law enforcement has to work with is the one area I haven’t seen addressed often, or in much detail at online gaming hearings. It would be informative to lawmakers if someone could stand before them and explain the history of online gambling enforcement and law, and what tools the current laws and interpretations of said laws prosecutors have at their disposal. Preet Bharara What better person to testify on illegal offshore online gambling and what tools the government has at its disposal than the man responsible for bringing about an end to PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and AP/UB on Black Friday? His name may amount to a cursed word in poker circles, but Preet Bharara was simply doing his job, and based on the outcome he was doing it quite well. Gaming Law expert “X” In addition to Preet Bharara it would also be instructive for Congress and state lawmakers to hear from a legal expert in gaming law, and get their take on the current legality and application of laws, the Wire Act, UIGEA, as well as answering any other gaming law questions the committee members may have. There are plenty of qualified individuals in this area to choose from, and since I’m not acquainted with many of them I’ll refrain from singling one or two out.

Andy Abboud, the Las Vegas Sands Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Community Development, has submitted written testimony ahead of Thursday’s online gambling hearing in front of the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee, and as is usually the case with Abboud, his statements are long on fear and short on facts. Here are some of the mischaracterizations, hyperbole, and outright lies Abboud will attempt to spew forth this week. Claim #1: The Wire Act has always banned online gambling In his written testimony Andy Abboud states, “Despite the fact the Justice Department’s Criminal Division had strongly and consistently interpreted the Wire Act as prohibiting all forms of online gambling.” First, the Wire Act was written in 1961, long before the Internet. The first official opinion on the Wire Act as it relates to online gambling came in 2002. And while Abboud is correct in asserting the DOJ was consistent in this application from 2002 through 2011, the courts were not in agreement. So, for nine of its 54 years (2002-2011) the DOJ did officially interpret the Wire Act as prohibiting illegal online gambling. Click here to learn more about the Wire Act and online gambling. Claim #2: The 2011 Opinion is just, like, your opinion, man Abboud will also claim, “No laws were changed by Congress…There was just an opinion letter – A letter which as Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch said during her nomination process, does not have the force of law and can be changed at any time.” As I noted in this column and above, the Wire Act Abboud and his boss Sheldon Adelson want is the 2002-2011 Wire Act, which just so happens to be the very thing they are now railing against, an opinion letter by the DOJ. And here is what Loretta Lynch had to say about the OLC opinion in full context: “[…] it is my understanding that the Office strives to provide an objective assessment of the law using traditional tools of statutory interpretation. These tools would not include seeking the views of Congress, the public, law enforcement, or state and local officials on a question of statutory interpretation.” “It is my understanding that OLC opinions customarily are treated as authoritative by executive agencies. I am not aware of any statute or regulation that gives OLC opinions the force of law.” Claim #3: Land-based cannibalization and job loss Andy Abboud apparently hasn’t gotten the memo that online gambling is now seen as complimentary to land-based gaming, since he continues to assert, “Internet gambling is designed to replace people with computer servers – because Internet gambling requires no community investment, no tradesmen, no dealers, and no maintenance workers or servers.” The idea that online gambling will cannibalize land-based gaming and kill jobs has been debunked over and over again. Online gambling can also be a boon for a local economy. What online gambling would do is create new jobs in the market, while at the same time insuring Pennsylvania’s land-based casino industry remains healthy and competitive. The two industries won’t just live side-by-side, they will reinforce one another. Claim #4: Technology doesn’t work The last Abboud talking point I’ll address in this column is the following: “Don’t be fooled by the technology companies that come before this committee today or in the future promising Internet technology that will be able to prevent kids from getting online to gamble – because it is nearly impossible to prevent minors from gambling online.” Basically, what Abboud is saying is don’t believe what you see with your own eyes, don’t believe experts in the field or the people who regulate them, and forget all the data – just trust me on this…it doesn’t work. Furthermore, the way Abboud portrays the inability of technology is somewhat surprising since Las Vegas Sands relies on the same technology to safeguard its own on-property online gaming options – yes, you read that right, you can gamble online at the Venetian Hotel and Casino in your hotel room. Abboud’s go-to example of the inadequacies of the technology is of an adult signing on and then handing their phone to a minor – what seems like an ultra-rare occurrence. This is no different than an adult buying alcohol or any other age-protected item, which is a crime punishable by law whether it’s alcohol or online gambling. And let’s not forget that same adult could hand their phone to any minor in any hotel room at the Venetian. If I was GeoComply or CAMS or any other company involved in Internet technology I’d be frothing at the bit at this comment, as it’s patently untrue and borderline libel. This claim is even more outrageous when you consider the number of cases of underage gambling and drinking Sands Bethlehem has been fined for over the years:
Six separate instances of underage gambling from June 2009 through January 2010
12 cases in 2010 and 2011, plus instances of self-excluded gamblers gambling at Sands Bethlehem
Six more incidents in 2012
Four more instances in 2013

Sheldon Adelson’s anti-online gaming lobby group, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG), recently touted a poll on Pennsylvania’s appetite for online gaming expansion. As is normally the case with polling data, the wording of the questions garnered precisely the results CSIG was hoping for. The poll in question was conducted by Harper Polling between April 22 and April 27, with 513 registered Pennsylvania voters polled via landline and cell phones. Here is why this poll should be filed in the “grain of salt” file. A little background on Harper Polling Harper Polling is a right-wing polling company founded by Brock McCleary. McCleary currently serves as Harper Polling’s President. Prior to Harper Polling, McCleary had most recently worked as the Polling Director and Deputy Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee during the 2012 election cycle. That being said, skepticism of Harper’s polling results goes beyond its partisanship. In an article from May of 2014, New York Times prediction guru Nate Cohn called Harper Polling “a newcomer to the land of cheap, partisan, automatic polling,” and said of its methodologies in previous polls, “Harper underrepresented urban voters… inconsistently weight for age.” Cohn said of Harper (and similar polling outfits on both sides of the political spectrum), “They may not be reliable for precise measurements of public opinion.”’s Nate Silver grades Harper Polling as a C+ in his pollster ratings. Results of PA online gambling poll were expected Given that Harper Polling doesn’t have the confidence of the experts, the results from the recent online gaming poll shouldn’t be overly surprising and fall within an expected range on this issue. A 2013 poll by Quinnipiac had opposition to online gaming expansion at 62% – in the same poll, a full 70% of Pennsylvanians were opposed to further land-based expansion as well. Gambling expansion issues have always polled poorly historically, particularly when the poll was commissioned by an anti-gaming group expecting certain results. This illustrates why the crafting of the language is so critical in polling. If you’re curious as to how biased the poll was, simply scroll down to the final page of the results and read the list of “messages” Harper’s pollsters asked the respondents. These are almost word-for-word the talking points of CSIG and anti-gambling crusaders. This polling ploy is clearly evident when we consider Harper’s first question about legalizing online gaming in Pennsylvania showed 73% of respondents opposed, but the same question posed just two questions later saw opposition rise to 83%. What changed 10% of respondents’ minds in the span of two questions? The answer is Question 2 of the poll which reads: First, notice scenario two mentions “key problems and potential abuses” but scenario one doesn’t mention “key benefits or safeguards.” This careful construction would lead the average citizen (who has scant knowledge of online gaming) to the impression that the risks outweigh the rewards. Scenario one paints online and land-based gaming as the same; scenario two depicts them as different and sneaks in a warning about potential issues. Second, touting the results as “68% find online gaming different than land-based gaming” when respondents were instructed to choose the scenario that was closest to their opinion is disingenuous. Particularly when just two scenarios were supplied. Many people likely fall into a gray area between the two. Finally, had Harper added a few lines to scenario one, detailing the revenue and consumer protections the regulation of online gambling would introduce, the swing may have been ten points in the opposite direction. Takeaway Harper Polling designed this poll with a single objective in mind: To obtain the desired results for whomever commissioned and paid for the poll.