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State of the Union: A look back at the week that was in North America

| 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

Nevada to Dave & Buster’s: No betting

The Nevada Independent reported that Nevada is the latest state to take notice of Dave & Buster’s plan to offer betting among friends. Gaming Control Board agents met with Dave & Buster’s executives to say betting at the amusement centres wouldn’t be allowed.

Board chair Kirk Hendrick said in a statement on Monday (13 May) that the board “opposes activities that could promote underage gambling, as well as wagering activities by businesses catering to a significant number of minor clientele.” Other states have reacted as well. An Illinois lawmaker filed a bill that would prohibit the idea and regulators in Ohio and Pennsylvania are considering action.

Date set for Mizuhara plea change

On Wednesday (15 May) the US Attorney’s office said that Ippei Mizuhara’s change-of-plea hearing is set for 4 June. The hearing will be in the federal building in Orange County. Previous court dates have been in Los Angeles. Mizuhara, baseball star Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter, pled not guilty on Tuesday (14 May) as a procedural matter. He’s already signed a plea deal and a federal affidavit shows he admitted he’s guilty of stealing funds from Ohtani.

Mizuhara faces up to 33 years in prison and $1.25m in fines. He is accused of transferring nearly $17m from Ohtani’s accounts to pay off debt.

Chief Louisiana regulator announces retirement

Ronnie Johns, head of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, last last week announced his retirement effective June 30. Johns was appointed to the position in July 2021 by then Governor John Bel Edwards. He’s been in public service for 37 years, including 22 in the state legislature. Johns oversaw the development of regulations and the launch of online sports betting.

Johns told the American Press that he has reached a time in life to prioritise his family. It’s time to “chase our grandkids from ballpark to ballpark, school events and wherever life’s journey takes them”.

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NY senator trying to tweak betting laws

New York State Senator Joe Addabbo this week filed a bill that would earmark 1% of tax revenue for problem and responsible gaming initiatives. The minimum amount designated for PG/RG programmes would be $6m. Another 1% of tax revenue would be sent to youth team sports funding and youth sports and education funding.

Last month, Addabbo filed a bill that would raise the legal age for daily fantasy from 18 to 21. That bill – SB 9044 – would also allow for peer-to-peer pick’em-style DFS games. New York’s legislative session is set to adjourn on 6 June and bills don’t carry over to 2025.

Court: No problem with Ontario sports betting

On Monday (13 May) an Ontario superior court ruled that the province’s online wagering and casino model is legal, reported the Associated Press. The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke (MCK) filed a lawsuit questioning the legality of how the government agencies regulate legal gambling. Canadian lawmakers voted in June 2021 to decriminalise single-event wagering. Operators went live on 4 April 2024.

The MCK, according to the AP, has been licensing gambling operators for 25 years for the Mohawks of Kahnawà:ke. The group argued that Ontario’s new gaming will result in losses for its community.

Circa Sports live in Kentucky

Circa Sports launched on Tuesday (14 May) in Kentucky in partnership with ECL Corbin/Cumberland Run, the company announced. The company says it offers the highest betting limits in the industry and “transparent odds”. Kentucky marks Circa’s fifth US state. Consumers are required to make a minimum deposit of $20. Kentucky’s regulator launched live, legal digital sports betting on 28 September 2023.

Harrah’s Columbus opens

Caesars Entertainment opened its Columbus, Nebraska, casino on Friday (17 May) to rave reviews and big crowds. The first jackpot was hit at 10.14am local time, a $1,876 win on Power Push. The first sports bet was $20 on the Boston Celtics to win the NBA Finals (-135). The 17,000sqft new property has 400 slot machines. The 2,100sqft sportsbook has a 163-inch video wall.

The property is branded as a Harrah’s casino and is in partnership with Columbus Exposition and Racing.

Justin Thomas first athlete to make deal with Fanatics

Golfer Justin Thomas signed a deal to represent Fanatics, the company announced on Tuesday. According to the press release, Thomas will “highlight new product enhancements, create social content and engage with the Fanatics community over the course of the next year.” Thomas is in the field for the PGA Championship at Valhalla.

In other news …

Borough leaders rallied outside a New York state senator’s office on Monday (13 May) in support of a casino project near Citifield. Mets owner Steve Cohen is behind the project, which would require legislative action to move forward.

The Colorado Division of Gaming, on Wednesday (15 May), sent out an update to its March 2024 wagering revenue report. After discovering an error, the agency “revised” the Top 10 Sports by Total Wagers section, according to an email announcement. The update does not affect handle, wagers or taxes collected.

Citing the risk to kids, a Prince Edward Island (Canada) senator says he supports a national gambling advertising framework, according to CBC. “My particular concern is the impact on young people. These ads [feature] a lot of sports heroes, a lot of celebrities. Young people may be aspiring for that lifestyle, thinking, ‘Oh, I can make some easy money.’ Are we expanding the number of gamblers and are we growing the addiction problem in the future?”

Fontainebleau Miami Beach announced on Tuesday (14 May) that it will unveil a 45,000sqft, five-storey convention centre in Q4. The space will feature a grand staircase, LED walls and floor-to-ceiling windows. It will also have a 7,000sqft rooftop terrace with ocean views.

President Joe Biden on Thursday (16 May) appointed National Indian Gaming Commissioner associate commissioner Sharon M Avery as acting chair. She replaces E Sequoyah Simermeyer, who left in February for an executive position at FanDuel. Avery will serve in both roles until a senate-confirmed chair is in place. The appointment was effective as of 15 May.


New Jersey: Online casino, sports betting revenue up; land-based down

GLPI acquires three land-based casinos for $105m

Flutter CFO: North Carolina “won” by continued investment

US DoJ to Supreme Court: Florida case isn’t your purview

Ohtani’s ex-interpreter enters “not guilty” plea, with plans to change plea

AGA reports record US quarterly revenue

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