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State of the Union: Big fine in Philly, Caesars NYC plans and more

| By Jill R. Dorson
Welcome to iGB's State of the Union, a look at the biggest North American sports betting stories we've covered over the week and briefs on others we found interesting.
state of the union

Live! Philadelphia fined $100,000

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board this week issued a $100,00 fine to Live! Philadelphia for taking sports bets over the phone. At the PGCB meeting, it was revealed that more than $287,000 in wagers were taken by phone. Of the bets, three were taken via text message and lost and the bettor never laid down the funds.

Live! Philadelphia representatives told the PGCB that it had terminated the employees who took a total of 15 bets via phone or text message. In addition, all have also been placed on the involuntary exclusion list. Live! Philadelphia also now bans personal phones for sportsbook employees while at work and lowered its surveillance notification threshold to $10,000.

Caesars proposes Times Square makeover

Caesars Entertainment has plans to plant trees, improve sanitation coverage and create a composting initiative if it wins a land-based casino licence for Times Square. AMNY reported on Wednesday (26 June) that Caesars, which is pitching a Times Square casino, will invest $250m in the neighbourhood.

Caesars is partnered with SL Green and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation for the bid, which is one of 11 for three licences. Caesars polled residents in the Times Square and Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhoods to determine what improvements they would want to see. The company has already partnered with the nonprofit Doe Fund, which seeks to end homelessness and provide job opportunities.

Iowa gaming licence moratorium set to sunset

A two-year moratorium on gaming licences will sunset in Iowa next month and at least one company is preparing to apply for a licence. The Gazette reports that gaming operator Peninsula Pacific Entertainment – in partnership with the nonprofit Linn County Gaming Association – will apply. The pair have their sites set on a Cedar Rapids location.

The Iowa Racing Commission is expected to reveal details of the application process at its 8 July meeting. There are currently 19 licensed casinos in the state.

Cherokee Nation gets Pope County (AK) licence

On Thursday (27 June) the Arkansas Racing Commission awarded Cherokee Nation Entertainment a licence to build a casino in Pope County. The site is one of four named in a 2018 ballot initiative that also legalised digital sports betting. The licence was initially issued to the Gulfside Casino Partnership, but the state supreme court ultimately ruled that Gulfside did not have the proper documentation to win the licence.

Cherokee Nation Entertainment has plans for a 50,000sq ft casino with 1,200 slot machines and 32 table games. Additionally, there will be a dedicated poker room and sportsbooks as well as a hotel tower, spa, event space and multiple dining options. There is no timeline available yet for when the casino will open.

Making waves in Minnesota

Governor Tim Walz appointed two tribal leaders to Minnesota’s racing commission and track owners aren’t happy, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe chief executive Melanie Benjamin and former president of the Prairie Island Indian community Johnny Johnson were appointed. Both tribes run casinos in the state and have been at odds with the tracks over a legal sports betting proposal. There are multiple lawsuits pending between the two groups.

Running Aces president and CEO Taro Ito said the appointments are “a slap in the face to the Minnesota horse racing industry”. Canterbury Park CEO Randy Sampson said: “We do not believe it is appropriate for competitors of the racetracks to serve in the role of our regulators,” in a written statement to the Star-Tribune.

Trouble brewing in Maine?

Nine casino inspectors filed grievances against Gambling Control Unit chief Milt Champion, per CDC Gaming Reports. It’s not the first time there have been issues around Champion. In 2023, Champion was suspended without pay after a posting “inappropriate tweets”. According to reports, Champion changed work schedules so that casino inspections do not take place on Sundays and Mondays. Inspectors say that, besides being a suspect policy, the change prevents them from earning overtime pay and holidays.

State Senator Joe Baldacci last year questioned why it took Champion’s unit so long (nearly two years) to launch digital sports betting. The inspectors wrote Baldacci a letter saying Champion has “extremely questionable ethics”.

Worth the read

SportsHandle’s Matt Rybaltowski took a deep dive into the craziest story in the sports betting industry this week. “John Doe” filed a lawsuit alleging that DraftKings was in cahoots with famous bettor Gadoon “Spanky” Kyrollos. In the lawsuit, he alleged that people were sent to rough him up and extort $500,000. A day after the lawsuit became public, Spanky revealed John Doe’s name and attempted to discredit him. We can’t make this stuff up.

Read about the lawsuit here and Spanky’s texts here.

In other news…

Michigan lawmakers passed an FY2025 budget that includes funding to add 14 positions at the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB). The positions will be used to “expand the MGCB’s regulatory capacity and enhance protections against illegal activity” according to an MGCB press release. The legislature also committed an additional $3m to the Compulsive Gambling Prevention Fund.

On Tuesday (25 June) Bally’s announced that it had joined the Responsible Online Gaming Association (ROGA). Bet365, BetMGM, DraftKings, Fanatics Betting and Gaming, FanDuel, Hard Rock Digital and Penn Entertainment are part of the group. ROGA’s mission is to create responsible gaming initiatives, fund research, and educate.

Also on Tuesday (25 June) the Chicago Blackhawks announced that the team will have Circa Sportsbook patches on their home jerseys from the beginning of next season. This will be the first time that the Blackhawks will put a team partner on their jerseys. Circa Sportsbook launched its Illinois sports betting platform in September 2023 and is partnered with New American Place Casino.

A new Florida law will protect members of the state gaming control commission. The law prevents the release of the private information of members of the commission. According to the bill, the release of such information could put commissioners in “danger of physical or emotional harm” by people or businesses they have investigated.

Great Canadian Entertainment has agreed to sell its Casino Nanaimo to Petroglyph Development Group Ltd. The group is the commercial arm of the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

This week NeoGames signed a seven-year deal to become the sole ilottery provider for the NH Lottery. The agreement goes into effect from 1 July 2025 and NeoGames will provide a “turnkey ilottery solution”.


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