Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. Our bumper bank holiday edition looks at UKGC lockdown data, Pennsylvania casino reopening protocols, a COVID-19 affected property acquisition collapse and the American Gaming Association.
The UK Gambling Commission has released new data highlighting that there hasn’t been an increase in the number of complaints about illegal gambling websites during lockdown.
Referring to the time frame since March 23 and highlighting that no spike has been evident by the UKGC, a total of 12 complaints about nine sites were made in March with 11 issues raised surrounding 11 entities a month later. The overall number of reports is said to have been stable over the past 12 months.
The regulator, who works with the National Cyber Security Centre to educate the industry and the public about the risks of illegal activity, boasts a team of specialists who monitor reports of illegal gambling and who then use a variety of tools to combat illegal websites and ensure that they are not offering services to British consumers.
Richard Watson, Gambling Commission executive director, said: “Our data does not indicate there has been an increase in any illegal gambling in Britain during the covid-19 crisis.”
The American Gaming Association has welcomed a Trump administration executive order which calls to swiftly identify regulatory reform opportunities to help promote job creation and economic growth.
Due to the current pandemic the American gaming industry is said to have been among the most impacted sectors of the economy following the temporary closure of all 989 commercial and tribal casinos throughout the country.
“As the gaming industry safely reopens and seeks to return to financial health, one critical area of regulatory reform the administration should consider is modernising the $1,200 slot jackpot reporting threshold, which has been in place since 1977,” said Bill Miller, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association.
“The current threshold is outdated and imposes significant compliance burdens on both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the gaming industry.”
According to the federal regulation, when a casino patron wins a slot machine jackpot of $1,200 or more, the machine is temporarily taken out of production while the patron is required to complete a W-2G tax reporting form.
Over the years the slot jackpots have steadily increased with inflation yet, according to the AGA, the $1,200 threshold has remained static since it was established in 1977.
The AGA believes that due to the inflation not being tacked there has been ‘a significant increase in the number of reportable jackpots’ which is resulting in ‘operational inefficiencies’ and more W-2G forms ‘flooding an underbudgetted and understaffed IRS each year’.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board have released a document, shared with the Commonwealth’s casino operators, outlining the minimum requirements required to be in place prior to re-opening its facilities.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic Pennsylvania’s 12 operating casinos have been closed since mid-March, yet as conditions throughout the Commonwealth improve Governor Tom Wolf has authorised the re-openings of casinos in a manner which promotes the safety of guests and employees and to ‘assure an environment conducive to proper regulatory oversight’.
“As conditions throughout the Commonwealth improve and the reopening of casinos is authorised, the PGCB desires to assure that re-openings occur in a manner which promote the safety of casino patrons and employees alike as well as assure an environment conducive to proper regulatory oversight,” commented PGCB executive director Kevin O’Toole.
O’Toole stated these new operational requirements have been laid out by the PGCB based on best-practices guidelines along with the various plans authored by gaming companies operating in Pennsylvania.
GVC Holdings has become the latest firm to follow a number of industry counterparts in seeking compensation from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs owed from tax charges related to fixed-odds betting terminals
After William Hill followed the lead of Betfred and Rank Group earlier in the week, with the bookmaker potentially positioned to secure a multi-million pound tax rebate, GVC estimates that it’s own claim will result in a cash inflow to the group of approximately £200m.
The sports betting and gaming group “understands” that it will be eligible for a rebate of historic VAT incorrectly paid on gaming machine revenues from its Ladbrokes betting shops in the period from October 1, 2002, to January, 2013.
Saratoga Harness Racing and American Gaming Group have come to a mutual termination agreement regarding the proposed sale of the latter’s Colorado-based Wildwood Casino.
Bringing an end to the previously agreed acquisition was deemed a necessary course of action by both parties due to the current economic impacts of the COVID-19 health crisis.
“At this time, we believe it’s in the best interest of both companies, and our respective casinos, to cancel the deal so we can focus on doing what’s best for our casinos and our players,” Joe Canfora, the owner of Wildwood Casino, noted.
“At Wildwood, we’re taking this time to develop and implement an entire health and safety strategy that goes above and beyond state and local guidelines to better protect our players and provide a comfortable, safe environment for gaming.”