Frank is back with new Web gambling bill...and more North American news



Frank is back with new Web gambling bill

Congressman Barney Frank has introduced a new and improved bill to license and regulate online gambling in the United States - one that seeks to remedy the deficiencies in his failed 2007 version by banning most sports betting and outlining more detailed player protections.

The new bill authorizes the U.S. Treasury to license and regulate companies to offer Internet gambling services - except on professional and amateur sports - and takes regulation out of the domain of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which was passed in 2006 by the last Republican Congress and signed into law by President Bush. UIGEA makes is illegal for U.S. financial services providers to process money transactions by U.S. citizens for Web gambling purposes. Frank’s bill would not repeal UIGEA, but a companion piece of legislation he has filed would delay its enforcement until Dec. 1, 2010 - a move he has tried before, unsuccessfully.

As in the old bill, individual states would be allowed to opt out, and operators would be obliged to install technology to ensure they comply with state laws.

A third measure introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott (D.-Wash.) would oblige the newly regulated companies to pay a 2 percent tax on player deposits. He said his and Frank’s legislation together could raise up to $43 billion in federal taxes and “additional billions for various state governments” over a 10-year period.

Frank said he intends to see his legislation clear the House Financial Services Committee, which he chairs, before the August recess. If that happens it will mark a major improvement over the 2007 bill.

SPORTS BETS, TABLE GAMES AUTHORIZED IN DELAWARE

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has signed a bill into law permitting sports betting and table games at the state’s three racetrack casinos.

Barring complications, of which there might be a few, it is anticipated that betting will go live by the start of the National Football League season, and table games, which could include blackjack, craps, roulette and poker, will be operational by year’s end.

The legislation gives the state Controller General’s Office, the state Department of Finance and a representative of the racinos, which are located at Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway, 75 days to agree on regulations for the table games and what portion of revenue from them will go to the state.

The group also will study whether the state or the individual casinos should determine or restrict the variety of games to be offered and the size of bets that can be placed.

The legislation does not specify what form the sports betting will take, and state officials said they are waiting on word from the Delaware Supreme Court to determine what types of betting would pass both state and federal muster.

WYNN, PENN NATIONAL JOIN BIDDING FOR RACINO AT AQUEDUCT

Seven entities, including several major gambling operators, have entered a new round of bidding for the rights to develop and operate a casino at Aqueduct Racetrack.

With major budget woes adding fresh momentum to the idea of legalized gambling in New York City, the state wants to jump-start the project, which has been on the drawing board since 2001 and is on its third governor. It stalled again earlier this year when racetrack and racino operator Delaware North failed to raise a promised $370 million up-front payment for the 4,500-slot racino in the borough of Queens.

Delaware North is back in the running. This time the Buffalo, N.Y.-based company is partnering on a bid with Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, one of its three New York racinos, and The Peebles Corp., a large African-American-owned real estate development company, and McKissack & McKissack, an African-American and woman-owned architecture and design firm.

Peebles also entered a separate bid, according to news reports.

The others bidders include Development Associates, a subsidiary of Steve Wynn’s Wynn Resorts; racetrack and casino operator Penn National; Manhattan-based SL Green Realty Corp., which had partnered with Delaware North in a previous round of bidding and is now joined by Hard Rock Entertainment and Jeff Gural, a Manhattan real estate developer who operates the upstate harness tracks Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs; and an entity called Aqueduct Entertainment Group.

The seventh bidder was identified by Gov. David Paterson’s office as Mohegan Sun, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether the Connecticut-based casino giant had submitted a formal proposal, according to a report on BloodHorse.com.

No specifics on the bids had been released by the Governor’s Office at press time.

GLI marks 20 years of leadership

Gaming Laboratories International is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month as the world leader in independent testing for the gaming industry.

GLI has 13 testing laboratories in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America and is the only laboratory of its kind to hold both U.S. and international accreditations for compliance with ISO 17025 and 17020 standards for technical competence in testing and inspection services. GLI is also the only independent laboratory to be GSA-approved to test and certify the industry’s latest set of communication protocols.

GLI also operates the only privately run Interoperability Center, a facility that helps suppliers and regulators ensure equipment connects to systems and communicates correctly.

GLI is renowned for using technology trends to help manufacturers reduce costs and speed time to market with tools such as “Point.Click.Transfer,” an online application that allows OEMs to transfer previously certified products to other jurisdictions.

Because GLI’s engineering staff is spread across the world the company is able to bring an unparalleled brain trust to the goal of helping suppliers and regulators stay ahead of and understand advancing technology with programs. “GLI University,” which conducts on-site and off-site training and roundtables, is a unique example of the company’s commitment in this area.

GREAT CANADIAN HIT WITH $2 MILLION LOSS

Great Canadian Gaming reported a first-quarter loss of $2 million (US$1.74 million) on a 4 percent decline in revenues to $96.1 million.

The company attributed the drop in business to the economic downturn, which it said significantly reduced slot play at its British Columbia and Nova Scotia properties

The results include $11.4 million in restructuring expenses associated with cost-cutting initiatives. The company said 524 jobs were eliminated during the period.

The net loss worked out to two cents per share, compared with a profit of $5.4 million, or six cents per share, in the first quarter of 2008.

CASINO HOPES DASHED IN TEXAS LEGISLATURE

Another try at bringing casino gambling to Texas was declared dead last month after a bill to put the issue before the voters failed to garner enough support in the state House of Representatives.

The measure, authored by Rep. Edmund Kuempel, who had to be hospitalized last month after he collapsed in an elevator in the Capitol building in Austin, sought to amend the state Constitution by plebiscite to allow resort-style casinos at horse and greyhound tracks and on Indian lands.

The bill’s demise spells an end to longstanding efforts by the Tigua Tribe to revive gambling at its Speaking Rock Casino, which was closed by judicial order in 2001 in response to a lawsuit by then-state Attorney General John Cornyn.

Rep. Norma Chávez, a staunch supporter of the tribe, said that charity gaming bills still working through the Legislature remain a possibility for the Tiguas, but their hopes for a casino will have to wait until the Legislature reconvenes in 2011.