North Dakota House Wants Voters to Decide Fate of Internet Gambling

Closeup of Man Making Sports Bets on His Phone

Highly conservative North Dakota is showing signs of relaxing its anti-gambling stand.

On Tuesday, the North Dakota House endorsed a pair of bipartisan resolutions and companion bills that will pave the way for legal internet gambling to operate in the state. The proposals will now move forward to the senate and if approved by both chambers, the measures could appear on the November 2022 ballot for voters to decide.

Rep. Kasper Pushing Since 2005

Although no income estimates were discussed by the proponents of the measure, supporters believe that state-sanctioned online poker and sports betting would create massive revenues for the state’s charitable causes, including its compulsive gambling treatment program.

Fargo Republican Rep. Jim Kasper has been pushing for internet poker in the Legislature since 2005 but has been unsuccessful with the Senate always killing his initiatives. Had Kasper’s early proposals succeeded, North Dakota would have been the first state to legalize online poker. Currently, a total of six U.S. states allow internet poker.

Rejecting Online Gambling Exclusively on Tribal Land

The Republican controlled House also rejected on Tuesday a proposal the Democrats that would have allowed the state’s five Native American Tribes to negotiate an agreement with the Governor to allow online poker and sports betting on Tribal land.

Under that measure, online gambling would only be operated by the five tribes, utilizing servers within the reservations. That proposal was not supported by the majority of the House members. The House also killed on Tuesday a bill that would have allowed betting on previously recorded horse races.

Taking Advantage of Supreme Court’s 2018 Decision

North Dakota is one of a dozen states that are trying to take advantage of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to repeal the 1992 Professional Sports and Amateur Act in 2018, which opened the door for the legalization of sports betting in the United States.

Once opposed to gambling, North Dakota voters and legislators have altered their beliefs over the years. Voters firmly approved a state lottery in 2002 after rejecting three lottery measures in the previous 12 years. Along with bingo, blackjack , pull-tab tickets and other charitable games, it has become a multi-million annual industry for the state.

Kentucky Passes New Legislation to Legalize Sports Betting

Odds Board and Money
After last year’s bill was stalled and sent back to the committee, Rep. Adam Koenig has once again filed a new bill to legalise sports betting in the state of Kentucky.

The new legislation, House Bill 241, is sponsored by 17 Representatives, led by Koenig. It similar to the one that Koenig sponsored during the 2020 legislative session, in that it core is to legalize sports betting in Kentucky. However, the new bill also lays out proposals to regulate online poker and fantasy sports.

Kentucky Horse Racing Commission as Regulator

The sports betting aspect of the bill would permit online, mobile, and on site wagering. The state’s racetracks and professional venues which have a capacity of 50,000 or more people would be eligible to receive licenses that would allow them to host sports betting at their sites. Initial licenses would cost $500,000 with an annual renewal fee of $50,000.

If passed into a law, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will be named as an independent body to regulate the conduct sports racing as well as horse racing and pari-mutuel betting in the state. Meanwhile, the state’s Public Protection Cabinet would oversee daily fantasy sports while the Kentucky Lottery Corporation will administer online poker activities.

Surrounded by Sports Betting States

Last year’s sports betting legislation, House Bill 137, unanimously advanced through the Kentucky House Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations (LOAR) Committee which is chaired by Koenig. However, it did not receive a single floor vote in the state House of Representatives.

Kentucky’s legislature has long been reluctant to expand gambling in the state but it is surrounded by neighboring states that offer sports betting. Five of Kentucky’s border states-Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia all offer sports wagering. The other two-Missouri and Ohio, want to legalize. With its neighbors enjoying tax dollars, Kentucky may be about to reconsider its position.

Las Vegas Sands Reportedly Eyeing Sale of US Casinos Properties

Exterior View of the Marina Sands

Gambling operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. is exploring the the sale of its Las Vegas strip properties in a deal that could fetch $6B for the Sheldon Adelson-led corporation.

Las Vegas Sands is said to be currently working with an adviser to gauge and solicit interest for the Venetian Resort Las Vegas, the Palazzo, and the Sands Expo Convention Center.

According to people privy to the matter, Adelson is eyeing to focus on Asia while temporarily leaving the U.S. gambling market. A representative from Las Vegas Sands confirmed the the discussions but added that they are still in the early stages and nothing has been finalized yet.

Focusing in The Far East

If a sale is consummated, Las Vegas Sands would concentrate its casino operations in Macau and Singapore whose markets are much larger than the United States. While Las Vegas may be the more traditionally popular gambling destination, Macau is the biggest casino market in the world.

The company’s U.S. operations accounted for only 15% of the Sands’ total revenue in 2019. On the other hand, Macau accounted for 63% of the company’s $13.7B revenue last year while Singapore contributed 22% of that amount.

The insignificance of its U.S. market is said to be the main reason why Las Vegas Sands is studying to unload its key Las Vegas Strip properties. That plus the uncertainty of when Las Vegas is going to bounce back, have reportedly convinced Sands to focus in the Far East. Sands is reportedly eyeing an expansion in both Macau and Singapore with the company earmarking $2.2B in spending. A sale of its U.S. properties would fund that plan.

Asia is Bouncing Back Faster

The casino industry, which is dependent on air travel, is one of the hardest hit industries by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of June 30, 2020, the company reported a total outstanding debt of $13.2B excluding finance leases. If the Las Vegas situation doesn’t improve soon, it will lead to more losses for the company.

On the other hand, Macau is bouncing back faster. During an earnings call last week, chairman Sheldon Adelson revealed that the steady recovery of the Asian gambling market helped improve the company’s third quarter figures. Meanwhile, Marina Bay Sands had a profitable third quarter of operations.

Las Vegas Sands was founded by its current chairman, CEO, and majority shareholder Adelson who ranks among the wealthiest people in the world with a net worth of $29.7B. Las Vegas Sands is currently valued at around $37.5B.