Schoenke replied that gambling laws in the UK were different and ‘more restrictive.’
To be clear, he’s talking about the same United Kingdom that has a betting shop on every street corner in which it’s possible to wager up to £100 ever 20 seconds on fixed-odds video games like roulette. Yep, that UK, where ‘restrictive’ doesn’t seem to be a very apt adjective for its public gambling consumption.
‘It sounds like the difference is that in one country they have a lot of smart lawyers or lobbyists that are defining things in one way and in the other they’re not,’ Pallone shot back.
While there was some discussion of the need for consumer protections and prevention of underage gambling, the hearing didn’t break much new ground and there was no suggestion that any kind of legislation or regulation was likely to come out of it.
Some committee members also appeared to be ill-informed about the nature of the contests and the finer points of the issues being debated.
It’s safe to say, for now at least, that the federal government appears content to keep its nose out of daily fantasy sports for the next stretch.
Las Vegas Sands Corp Fined $2 Million by Nevada Regulators for Gaming License Violations
Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) will pay $2 million in fines to Nevada regulators for two instances of violation of its gaming license. The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) filed its complaint on Wednesday, but had already agreed to a settlement with LVS, which will permit the gaming giant to ‘neither admit nor deny’ the charges.
CEO Sheldon Adelson is neither admitting nor denying anything, thanks to a $2 million regulatory settlement for his Las Vegas Sands Corp. with Nevada regulators. (Image: David Becker/ZUMA Press/Corbis)
The first count relates to the company’s apparent failure to document more than $62 million it paid to a Chinese consultant who helped ‘obscure the company’s role’ in business deals in Macau and on the Chinese mainland. These included the purchase of property and a Chinese basketball team.
The NGCB filing came after a five-year investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into whether LVS had been in breach of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which covers the bribing of foreign officials.
The SEC did not accuse LVS of bribery in its findings last April, but did fine the company $9 million for lax record keeping. LVS was also ordered to hire an independent consultant to monitor its operations in China and Macau for the next two years.
High Roller Not Reported
The second count also relates to a historical transgression: the accusation that a decade ago, LVS permitted one of its high rollers, Chinese-Mexican businessman Zhenli Ye Gon, to wager $47.4 million at the VIP gaming tables of the Venetian without filing a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR).
Ye Gon was arrested in 2007 for alleged international drug trafficking and remains incarcerated in the US, fighting extradition to Mexico.
In 2013, LVS paid the US Attorney’s office in Los Angeles the $47.4 million Ye Gon had blown at the casino in order to settle the complaint that it had violated anti-money laundering laws.
No Judge Disqualification
Meanwhile, in other news, LVS was unsuccessful this week in its fourth attempt to have a Las Vegas judge disqualified from the longstanding wrongful dismissal case of former Sands China CEO Steven Jacobs.
LVS accuses Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez of ‘disparate treatment of the parties, disparate treatment of issues, and outright hostility to the defendants in this case’ and of having a ‘long history of one-sided, erroneous and erratic rulings.’
The Nevada Supreme Court found no cause to justify the claims.
Jacobs sued LVS in 2010, claiming he was dismissed for trying to blow the whistle on alleged company improprieties in Macau, which, he alleges, included the bribing of public officials.
Adelson-Owned Review-Journal Reports Story
Both of these somewhat negative LVS news stories, incidentally, have been reported this week by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Las Vegas newspaper purchased, initially secretly, by LVS Chairman Sheldon Adelson late last year.
Several weeks ago, popular longtime RJ columnist John L. Smith resigned from the paper after it emerged that he had been prohibited from writing about Adelson. This prompted concerns that other journalists may also be muzzled when covering LVS affairs.
That does not appear to be the case, at least on the surface, although staff members are still abandoning ship in steady numbers. With the departure this week of reporter Jennifer Robinson, all three journalists who broke the story that revealed the identity of the mystery owner have now left the company, reportedly voluntarily.
Atlantic City Casinos Post Eight Percent Uptick in April, Internet Gaming Up Big
Atlantic City casinos were looking up in April, with the region’s eight remaining venues posting $198 million in land-based revenue, and $215 million when including income from Internet gaming. That marks a cumulative 8.1 percent increase compared to April 2015 and sets a new monthly high for 2016.
Atlantic City casinos had a strong April, and the industry’s financial report could help Mayor Don Guardian, right, make his case that a state takeover isn’t needed. (Image: pressofatlanticcity.com)
Online casinos performed extraordinarily well, the market collecting $16.9 million for a 33.8 percent year-over-year jump.
After a downturn in revenues last fall, Atlantic City is showing signs of more stability and proof that the eight remaining casinos are capable of enduring what’s hoped to be the final leg of the region’s economic storm.
Revenues dropped from $258 million in August 2015 to just $190 million in January 2016, but three solid rebound months have brought a sense of optimism back to the Boardwalk.
Four casinos closed in 2014: the Atlantic Club, Showboat, Revel, and Trump Plaza.
It’s worth noting that April’s bounty benefited from the inclusion of two additional weekend days over the same month in 2015, which no doubt helped the new numbers.
‘Part of the increase was the result of a favorable calendar, but part of it is also the result of casinos doing a better job of attracting new customers,’ New Jersey Casino Control Commission Chairman Matt Levinson told Wayne Parry of the Associated Press.
PokerStars Makes an Impact
In the weeks and months after New Jersey’s first online casino opened in 2013, it became evident that the pre-market forecasts might have been a tad overcooked. The dazzling projections on total revenue that the Garden State would receive from licensing Internet casinos has never materialized, but slowly the sun seems to be beginning to shine on the state’s iGaming operations.
PokerStars is a most appropriate example, as the world’s largest iPoker platform’s recent inclusion into New Jersey gaming is already paying off for its land-based partner, the Mohegan-Sun owned Resorts Casino Hotel.
In February, Resorts grossed $1,318,338 from authorized online games. In March, it jumped to $1.9 million, thanks to PokerStars’ introduction on March 21 and contributing $597,677 in peer-to-peer funds.
Now in April, Resorts’ first full month armed with PokerStars at its side, the Atlantic City venue pulled in $3,478,108 from Internet gaming, an increase of 164 percent in just three months.
NJCCC’s Levinson’s opinion that the city is finally doing a better job of attracting new customers appears to be accurate, but it also wouldn’t have been possible without the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement finally approving PokerStars, after an exhaustive investigation.
But the gaming town isn’t out of the woods quite yet.
Atlantic City is still on the verge of bankruptcy, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) wants the state to take over its finances. With no love lost between them, AC Mayor Don Guardian (R) opposes that track, and instead is asking for a two-year extension with a bailout from Trenton.
Continued growth by the casinos would theoretically lessen the overall bailout needed.
This November, voters in New Jersey will decide whether to approve a referendum to end Atlantic City’s state monopoly on gambling and bring two casinos into the northern part of the state.
That could also end the apparent resurgence, or at least stabilization, of the struggling city, of course, a potentiality that has caused some major clashes of opinion on whether the state gaming expansion is a good move, or a terrible idea.
Though part of the revenues from potential casinos in northern counties would go to help Atlantic City, Guardian warned voters in March that other illicit aspects accompany gambling.
‘If you don’t think prostitution and drugs and other minor crimes won’t come . . . you’re being very foolish,’ Guardian opined.
Oakland Raiders’ Odds of Moving to Las Vegas Increasing as Owners Reportedly Warm to Sin City
Mark Davis wants to move his Oakland Raiders franchise to Las Vegas, but he’ll need three-fourths support from his NFL owner colleagues like Jerry Jones, the Cowboys boss seen here on the right. (Image: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)
Before the Oakland Raiders can become the Las Vegas Raiders, 24 of the NFL’s 32 owners would need to sign off on the relocation, and while the chances of that happening was previously thought to be slim due to Sin City’s legalized sports betting market, the accord is reportedly gaining support.
The NFL has long opposed locating a team in the nation’s gambling capital due to its highly active sportsbooks. The league feels that a franchise positioned next to millions of dollars being wagered on games could jeopardize its self-professed ‘integrity’ of football, even though the NFL has certainly not been without its fair share of scandals in recent years.
Asked in March about the NFL’s stance on putting a team in Vegas, Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters, ‘There are several cities that have a tremendous interest in the Raiders. I’m hopeful also that Oakland will be one of those and that we can avoid any relocation. . . Those are ultimately decisions about where they go and the impact that the potential gambling that we’d have to deal with.’
At least one owner has already reportedly begun dealing with the possibility of a team playing its home games in America’s largest gambling destination.
‘I think it would be a tough sell, but I don’t think it’s impossible,’ a NFL owner speaking on anonymity told Gary Myers of the New York Daily News. ‘I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed . . . If it’s between Las Vegas and being stuck in an awful stadium, there is nowhere else to go.’
Backed by Las Vegas Sands billionaire Sheldon Adelson and Majestic Realty, Raiders owner Mark Davis is proposing a ‘preliminary’ stadium budget of $1.4 billion. Davis would put up $500 million, Adelson is on the hook for $150 million, and the rest would be generated through hotel tax occupancy fees that would have otherwise likely went to renovate the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC).
MGM is against using taxes to build a football stadium on the proposed 42-acre plot next to McCarran International Airport, and one doesn’t need to look far to understand why. MGM is a 50 percent stakeholder in the newly constructed T-Mobile Arena, a venue that would compete for similar acts during the NFL offseason.
But Adelson has his motives too. Numerous Vegas insiders believe the casino tycoon is more than willing to spend $150 million on a stadium and direct taxes away from updating the LVCC to boost his own revenue at the Sands Expo and Convention Center.
Business as Usual
If the NFL does decide to permit Davis to move to Vegas, don’t expect any consolations from the gambling industry. ‘You come to Vegas, you take Vegas the way Vegas is,’ MGM Resorts oddsmakers Jay Rood told the Los Angeles Times this week.
Several bookmakers across the Strip have already publicly stated that they would not concede to any wish to remove certain games from the boards. Though the NFL hasn’t stated it would request sportsbooks to do so, Vegas is apparently readying its defense for the NFL brass should the owners approve the relocation.