The week in 60 seconds

eGRNA_the week in 60 seconds

A round-up of the good, the bad, and the ugly in a week that saw Nevada and Delaware sign the first US egaming interstate compact, while NJ Governor Chris Christie slashed egaming revenue estimates

Story of the week

Nevada and Delaware sign groundbreaking state compact 

Nevada and Delaware made US egaming history this week when they signed the first interstate compact, or Multistate Internet Gaming Agreement (MIGA) to allow poker players in each state to play against each other.

The structure of the document is such that other states can be easily added to the agreement as and when they regulated egaming. Although MIGA is currently internet poker only, other states that join will be able to decide whether they chose to pool liquidity over online slot and casino games as well.

The move will provide a boost to online operator 888, currently the only operator to be licensed in both states through its deal with Caesars in Nevada and as part of a consortium that supplies the Delaware State Lottery with its online platform.

Good week

California online poker back on the agenda

Progress is on the horizon in California after two new online poker bills were submitted in time to be considered in the forthcoming legislative session.

The Pechanga-backed AB 2291 bill has been supported by a consortium of eight tribes and would allow for unlimited 10-year non-transferable licenses featuring a US$5m license fee.

The second bill, SB 1366, has been authored by Senator Lou Correa and is similar to his previous SB678 bill which set the license fee at $10m and tax at 10% of GGR.

Both bills have urgency statutes, which mean they can take effect immediately if they are approved by a two-thirds majority vote in each house of the legislature.

Bad week

NJ Governor slashes egaming revenue estimates

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has downgraded earlier estimates on how much tax revenue the state would generate through egaming by more than 500%.

Christie had predicted gross gaming revenues from internet gambling would hit US$1.1bn in the first seven months from launch, generating around $200m in tax revenues for state coffers.

Yet in his latest state budget plan announced on Tuesday, Christie revealed he now expects egaming tax revenues to reach just $34m for the fiscal year that ends 30 June, and predicted that number would increase to just $55m the following year.

Quote of the week

“From the very beginning, TIGA organizers have known that there is an opportunity for tribes to work with other jurisdictions that already have significant experience and an established track record with internet gaming,” said TIGA spokesman Jeffery Nelson on the Isle of Man government seeking to compact with the tribal egaming alliance.

In other news:

-          Illinois egaming bill could generate US$500m, PPA says

-          TwinSpires growth boosts Churchill Downs

-          Internet lottery bill submitted in NJ

Isle of Man seeks egaming compact with US tribal alliance

Isle_of_man_clip_art_hight

Agreement with the Tribal Internet Gaming Alliance would pave the way for the first inter-jurisdiction egaming compact in North America

The Isle of Man (IOM) government is looking to join forces with the Tribal Internet Gaming Alliance (TIGA) in the US, in what would be the first inter-jurisdiction egaming compact agreement in North America.

In a letter sent to the Alliance, Peter Greenhill, CEO of egaming for the IOM government, praised TIGA’s efforts to “create and implement a world-class internet gaming regulatory system”.

He said the IOM would be “pleased to engage TIGA to facilitate the opportunity for TIGA and the Isle of Man jurisdiction to negotiate, enter and/or establish inter-jurisdictional agreements for mutual benefit”.

TIGA spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said the alliance “very much welcomed the interest from the Isle of Man” but declined to comment on how an inter-jurisdiction compact agreement would work.

He said the benefits to TIGA included knowledge sharing, assistance with drafting regulation, cross-border licensing, server space and business deals, and joint marketing opportunities.

“From the very beginning, TIGA organizers have known that there is an opportunity for tribes to work with other jurisdictions that already have significant experience and an established track record with internet gaming,” Nelson said.

Last October eGR North America revealed that TIGA had formed to allow players located in tribal territories across the North America to access real-money slots, poker and casino games.

TIGA is based upon Native American sovereignty laws allows tribes across the US join forces to offer internet gambling to players within their territories.

The Wisconsin-based Lac du Flambeau Tribal Council was the first to ratify the treaty, with the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Tribe next to sign up.

“With the addition of one more tribe, the TIGA Treaty will become effective and TIGA will initiate government-to-government negotiations with other jurisdictions. We hope that the Isle of Man will be one of our very first meetings,” Nelson added.

The news comes after Nevada and Delaware signed the first inter-state egaming compact agreement in the US in a bid to boost player liquidity and revenue figures in both states.

In other news:

-          Internet lottery bill submitted in NJ

-          Michigan Lottery launches egaming app

-          Nevada and Delaware compact: five talking points

Opinion: New era for tribal gaming

Jeffrey Nelson

Indian law attorney Jeffrey Nelson looks at the new Tribal Internet Gaming Alliance and its impact on the tribal gaming landscape

Exactly 25 years after Congress enacted the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians took the first step toward ushering in a new era of Indian gaming to be offered on the internet.

On October 17, 2013, the governing body of the Tribe voted unanimously to ratify an inter-tribal egaming treaty that it helped to develop with several other Midwest tribes.  Now the Lac du Flambeau is extending an open invitation to all other tribes anywhere in the United States to join it by signing the treaty and creating the Tribal Internet Gaming Alliance, or TIGA.

TIGA will be much more than an advocacy group.  As a treaty organization, it will become a government instrumentality of its member tribes, capable of jointly operating and regulating an internet gaming enterprise under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act for the benefit of its member tribes.

Until state or federal egaming laws change, wagers will be taken only from people who are physically present within the member tribes’ collective jurisdictions.  It will be a way for the tribes to gain incremental revenue from their casino patrons and other tourists, as well as attract a whole new demographic to visit Indian lands. Perhaps even more importantly, TIGA will offer its member tribes a way to establish themselves in the real-money internet gaming space before most of the egaming competition in the United States is even allowed to launch.

TIGA can legally operate without any state authorization.  Courts have determined that the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) preempts state gambling laws within the tribes’ Indian lands, leaving tribal-state compacts under IGRA to be the only mechanism by which a state can regulate gambling on the Indian lands within its borders.

That said tribal-state compacts cover only class III gaming, leaving the tribes and the National Indian Gaming Commission with exclusive jurisdiction over class II gaming.  For this reason, TIGA plans to limit its initial operations to class II gaming within its member tribes’ collective Indian lands, thereby eliminating the need for state authorization.  Under IGRA, the class II games that TIGA may offer include slot-like bingo, traditional bingo, pull tabs, and poker—a perfect line-up for an eager internet market.

Under the terms of the TIGA Treaty, each member tribe will appoint three representatives to sit as the TIGA Treaty Council.  The Treaty Council will elect a Business Committee to handle all business decisions and a Gaming Commission to regulate and audit the internet operations.  Each TIGA body may hire full time staff.

The net revenues from the operations will be divided among the member tribes according to a distribution plan to be developed by the Treaty Council.  Those funds may be used by the member tribes for the same governmental purposes as currently allowed for Indian gaming revenue under IGRA.

The TIGA Treaty also allows TIGA to enter into inter-jurisdictional agreements with states or foreign nations that have legalized internet gaming for purposes of poker liquidity, progressive jackpots, reciprocal licensing determinations, or exchanges of license applicant information.

Over the past 25 years, Indian gaming has brought casino entertainment to the heartland of America and established that gambling operations can be a positive force for economic development and governmental revenue.  TIGA will now do the same for internet gaming.

Jeffrey Nelson is an attorney at Kanji & Katzen PLLC in Washington, D.C. and legal counsel to TIGA.  He formerly served as the Assistant Solicitor for General Indian Legal Activities at the Department of the Interior and a Senior Attorney at the National Indian Gaming Commission.  

US tribes join forces to launch on-reservation gambling

Bussiness

Real-money slots, poker, and casino games will be available to players located in tribal territories

Players located in tribal territories across the North America will be able to play real-money slots, poker and casino games under the terms of a new treaty signed by Native American tribes last week.

The Tribal Internet Gaming Alliance (TIGA) is based upon Native American sovereignty laws and will see tribes across the US join forces to offer internet gambling to players within their territories.

The Wisconsin-based Lac du Flambeau Tribal Council was the first to ratify the treaty, with a further 27 tribes across 12 states showing interest in the alliance, according to a press release from TIGA.

“We asked our Gaming Commission to do the homework on this, and they and our attorney found minimal risk in our moving forward. We want to be at the forefront of online gaming, and this is another step to advance that,” said Lac du Flambeau Tribal President Tom Maulson.

The alliance has chosen C2Rewards as its preferred platform supplier. Tribes signing the treaty will be able to use the platform free of charge, and will share player pools and liquidity across the network. The alliance is open to any federally recognized tribe in the US.

“We look forward to working with other tribes to advance internet gaming, and creating additional opportunities for our tribal members,” added Maulson.