Virgnia’s “Sports Bettor Bill of Rights” Draws Flak From Major Operators

Virginia Sign

The public comment period on the proposed rules and regulations of sports betting in Virginia ended last Wednesday and some of the initial policies have received opposition from major gambling operators.

During the review process, major platforms like DraftKings and FanDuel have taken issue with some of the consumer protection rules that officials are proposing. One particular regulation that has received negative feedback is the one that requires the betting platforms to provide players with information that can help them make “informed decisions about their gambling”. These information include how the odds were calculated, odds of winning a bet, and the handle and payout amounts.

Other Issues That Drew Negative Reactions

According to the gambling operators, no other sports betting state in the United States has imposed a similar requirement. FanDuel in particular, noted that it recently offered 24 different bets on an NBA playoff game and that had nearly 300 potential outcomes and even more possible parlay wagers. Presenting the required information under Virginia’s proposed Sports Bettors Bill of Rights in real time will cause logistical problems on both processing power and screen space.

Other issues that drew negative reactions include the process of allowing players voluntarily ban themselves from sports betting for two years, five years, or for life if they feel they are losing too much money or if they feel they are getting addicted to gambling. The regulations also requires gambling operators to submit all marketing and advertising materials to the Lottery for pre-approval. The advertising rules also prohibit them from targeting minors and ads that violate “good taste” are disallowed.

Additionally, there is a proposed rule that bans betting on the Olympics, something which was not included in the legislation of the General Assembly. For this issue, the operators argued that excluding some sports evets would defeat the purpose of the legislation. Several companies also requested for a more lenient advertising policy where they won’t need a formal sign-off in advance.

Laying The Foundation of Virginia Sports Betting

The public review is being conducted by the Lottery to lay the foundation of the sports betting rules in Virginia. The outcome of the review will determine how quickly or not sports betting will launch in the state and what the bettors expect to see in the betting apps when they are officially launched. If all goes well, sports betting is expected to start next year in Virginia.

This year, the General Assembly passed a legislation authorizing the Virginia Lottery to hand out between four to 12 sports betting licenses in the state. Sports betting in Virginia will start online, largely via sports betting apps. However, it could eventually expand to the brick and mortar casinos being planned in different cities and the Colonial Downs operated Rosie’s gambling places.

The Virginia Lottery Board is expected to meet on Tuesday to vote on the new rules on sports betting. Once the rules and regulations are in place, the Lottery will begin accepting applications for sports betting licenses next month. Sports betting is expected to bring in an annual $55M in state tax revenues.

New Jersey Lotto Winners Now Have Choice to Remain Anonymous

Lottery Winner Holding Winning Powerball CheckLottery winners in the state of New Jersey will now have the choice to remain anonymous. This is following a new law that Governor Phil Murphy signed on Tuesday. This bill passed the state Senate and Assembly without a single dissenting vote earlier this month.

Under the new law, the state lottery commission must set rules and regulations that permit lottery players to keep their identities unknown to the public.

Murphy signed S-2267, which makes an exemption to the Open Public Records Act, which allows people who win hefty amounts of money while playing the New Jersey lottery to have the option to have their identity withheld.

The original resolution, which was signed into law in November of 1969, required winners of large amounts of money to reveal their identities to the public. This has come in the form of press conferences, OPRA requests, and press releases.

“To amend, repeal, or supplement any such rules and regulations from time to time as it deems necessary or desirable, and to establish by regulation that holders of winning tickets or shares may choose to remain anonymous indefinitely and that the identity of a holder choosing such option shall not be included under materials available to public inspection,” the amendment says.

New Jersey isn’t the first state to allow winners to opt for anonymity. They join a growing list of states who also permit privacy, which are Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina and Texas. Arizona and Virginia also passed their own privacy bills last year.

Some states allow players to claim prizes anonymously through trusts. While many states have laws that dictate a winner’s name, hometown, and prize amount become public information.

Avoiding the “Lottery Curse”

The New Jersey law’s sponsors say this bill targets a phenomenon that is often referred to as the “lottery curse.”

Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney said in a statement that the curse often brings about harassment and threats. It usually occurs after winners’ identities are released to the public.

“The winners should have the option of remaining anonymous if they want to stay out of the limelight and away from unwanted attention,” Sweeney said.

Jason Kurland, a New York-based “lottery lawyer,” said that the best advice for new lottery winners is to keep your mouth shut and call a lawyer:

“Don’t advertise it,” Kurland said. “Don’t tell too many people you won. If your name’s out there, everyone comes out. Not only family you haven’t spoken to in a long time, but charities. Mostly good. But some are bogus.”

In 2018, the winner of what was then the eighth biggest jackpot in US history — a $560 million Powerball prize — successfully sued the New Hampshire Lottery for the right to remain anonymous.

The judge in the case said he was in no doubt that the New Hampshire woman, known only as Jane Doe, would be subject to “an alarming amount of harassment, solicitation, and other unwanted communications” should her name be revealed. Her right to privacy “outweighed the public’s interest in the disclosure of her name,” he ruled.

Opponents argue that requiring winners’ names to be available to the public promotes transparency within the industry. And this transparency is supposed to promote the perception that the lottery has integrity. The publicity is also good for business because it puts real faces and names to real winners. Apparent, the attention brought in by a jackpot winner usually results in a large spike in lottery sales for the upcoming draw.

Not Completely Anonymous

Even with the new law, winners of the New Jersey state lottery won’t be flying completely under the radar. Their identity will just be unavailable to the press and the public eye. State agencies will still be able to share their details internally, so they can remove things like outstanding child support payments, public assistance overpayments, and defaulted student loan payments before handing over the earnings.

Tennessee Lottery Finalizing Sports Betting Regulations in February

Tennessee State Flag: Blue Circle, White Stars, Red BackgroundSix months after online sports betting became legal in Tennessee, state lottery officials are still finalizing the rules governing how licensees will operate. The Tennessee Education Lottery Corp.’s Board of Directors is scheduled to meet in Nashville on Feb. 19. That immediately follows the TEL Sports Wagering Advisory Council meeting to further discuss the draft regulations the lottery released in late November.

Dave Smith, TEL Communications Director, gave this public comment:

“The goal is the TEL Board of Directors votes on the rules and regulations at its February 19 meeting.”

It’s unsure whether lottery officially will be able to take applications after the meeting adjourn. State Rep. Rick Staples, who sponsored the bill legalizing sports betting in Tennessee, and other leaders are hopeful that they can start taking applications next month and start product rollouts beginning in March.

Tennessee to Exclusively Take Online Sports Betting Applications

In a stark contrast to how every other state that has legalized sports betting in the US has operated, Tennessee decided to go exclusively go with online sports betting applications, not requiring brick-and-mortar establishments.

The Tennessee Sports Gaming Act, passed by state legislators last spring, did not legalize physical gambling locations Currently, the state does not have any casinos. Because of this, lawmakers placed sports betting under the TEL’s discretion.

The Gaming Act enforces the following rules: Players must be at least 21 years of age and physically present in the state in order to place a bet, operators will need to pay an annual $750,000 licensing fee, and the state will impose a 20% tax on licensees’ adjusted gross income.

Sports Bettor’s Criticism Over Proposed Hold Rule

Tennessee’s innovative approach to sports betting, with the acknowledgement of how much mobile applications dominate in states that allow both retail and online establishments, has received high praise. Whereas other states, the handle for online betting far exceeds the amount brick-and-mortar sportsbooks take. In some cases, it’s as wide as an 80/20 split.

What’s not receiving critical acclaim amongst sports bettors however, is the proposed hold rate. The proposed rule would require sportsbooks to cap payouts at 85 percent. The resulting 15 percent hold is up to three times as much as the average rate for the sports wagering industry.

Robert Walker, Director of Sports Book Operations for US Bookmaking, tweeted this about the proposed hold tying into the Tennessee Lottery:

Other Concerns

Other aspects of Tennessee’s sports betting that have drawn criticism are its requirement for using official league data and its high tax rate.

Tennessee is one of only three states that requires sportsbooks to use official league data to score live betting opportunities, joining Illinois and Michigan. However, Tennessee’s law allows for an exception if the league cannot provide the data under “commercially reasonable terms.”

The state is also planning to tax licensees at 20% of their adjusted gross revenue every month. Out of all the states that generate its sports betting income off of taxes, that rate is a bit lower in comparison to Pennsylvania’s 36%.