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Fresh gaming updates from Dakota and Kentucky give hope for the fast-growing sports betting and online poker industry in the U.S. In Dakota, the Senate State Affairs Committee passed the Senate Joint Resolution II, bringing the sports betting resolution a step closer to approval. In Kentucky, past efforts for legalizing sports betting may have failed, but Republican Representative Adam Koeing is in no mood to give up. Koeing has announced House Bill 175, which envisages legal sports betting and also includes provisions for online poker and fantasy sports.
In an interesting new development, Internet search report by Hootsuite and ‘We are Social’ has identified betting-related queries as the top Google search queries made by the Kenyans in 2018.
In UK, the gambling regulator UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has released its new customer identity verification rules, and from the looks of it, online gambling operators are looking at a slew of new and much tougher rules.
South Dakota Voters May Soon Have Power to Opt For Sports Betting
The tribal-dominated U.S. state of South Dakota has made a steep but positive stride towards making sports betting a reality for its residents. On Wednesday, the Senate State Affairs Committee passed by a narrow 5-4 margin, the Senate Joint Resolution II that will allow South Dakota Voters to decide whether or not they want to legalise sports betting in the state.
Notably, last November the Deadwood Gaming Association (DGA) had pushed for legalization of sports betting and submitted a ballot measure to state Attorney-General Marty Jackley.
According to the DGA, sports betting will bring in more tax revenue for the state and the city, and boost tourism as well. The DGA and the Legislative Research Council approximated that Deadwood sports betting would bring in an additional $184,700 to the state in tax revenue. However, the Department of Revenue of (DOR) South Dakota doesn`t seem to agree. The Revenue officials claimed that the DGA was projecting an exaggerated estimate of revenue numbers and that any extra revenue wouldn’t suffice to even pay someone for regulating the industry. DOR secretary David Weist said that the DGA was using Nevada as a benchmark but Nevada has a “mature industry” and the same didn’t apply to South Dakota.
Despite the opposition, the passing of the Senate Joint Resolution II has opened the possibilities of legalized sports betting in the state in future. If the resolution passes the Senate floor, it will be on ballot in 2020, allowing voters to have a say on legalizing sports betting.
New Online Poker Bill Surfaces in Kentucky
Yet another U.S. state that is making a bid to introduce legalized sports betting is Kentucky. Efforts for this have been long made, albeit unsuccessfully in the past. With the U.S. Supreme Court having struck down a federal ban on sports betting last year, Kentucky is now fast moving to join the list of states that offer sports betting.
Republican representative Adam Koeing recently declared that he is initiating fresh efforts towards regulated sports betting, and this time it includes provision for online poker.
In a tweet posted on February 6, Koeing said that he was excited to file House Bill (HB) 175. The bill would, he said, mainly push for sports betting but also cover online poker and fantasy sports.
Excited to file HB 175 yesterday, which will allow legal sports betting, on-line poker and fantasy sports in Kentucky. It’s time to provide the freedom for those who wish to engage in these activities to do so legally. Let’s be ahead of the curve Kentucky!https://t.co/zfBRRiMmKF
— Adam Koenig (@repkoenig) February 6, 2019
Efforts made in Kentucky in the past for allowing residents to legally participate in sports betting have failed. Senator Julian Carroll was at the helm of two such efforts. Carroll had formulated BR 155 in September 2017 seeking a framework for legalized sports betting in the state’s racetracks and off-track betting facilities, but BR 155 was stalled before the end of the year. Later in January 2018, Carroll proposed SB 22 that sought to amend a Kentucky stature that exempts certain sports from the state’s betting ban. The bill proposed that the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission should be given authority to implement new regulations for sports betting, and direct all tax revenue generated to state coffers. However Carroll’s efforts came to naught yet again.
Even if the Department of Justice (DOJ) passes the Bill, with the recent re-interpretation of the Wire Act, the path to legalize sports betting may not be smooth. Additionally, any online poker industry in the state is likely to be fenced, and residents may be unable to play against an international pool of players, or players from other U.S. states.
Betting Queries Top Google Searches List in Kenya
Interest for betting seems to be fast on the rise in Kenya, according to Internet search figures. Hootsuite and We Are Social recently released an Internet search report on the Google search habits of Kenyans in 2018. As per the report, of the top 20 Google search queries by the country’s residents, 11 subjects were related to betting alone.
Kenya’s leading sportsbook SportPesa topped the search list indicating its continued dominance. ‘SportPesa login’ was also one of the search queries, and other prominent operators that were most searched were BetPawa, Betin, Forebet and Betika. Sports data sites Livescore, Prediction, Livescore CZ and SportsPesa Livescore, all made the list.
The betting sites also scored high in terms of website traffic. According to the top-20 Alexa Website Ranking, the Kenyan domains SportPesa, Beltin, 1xBet and BetPawa garnered the maximum traffic.
The popularity of online betting can partly be attributed to the fact that the country has a reported 84% internet penetration rate, which is quite high when compared to the 32% average across the six other East African community partner states that include Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Burundi and Uganda.
In 2018, the Nielsan survey reported that Kenya’s online betting penetration stood at 27%, significantly higher than the neighboring Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda.
In 2017 the Kenyan government brought in a massive tax hike, amounting to 35% on betting operators with the stated aim to check gambling among youth. The hike was later rolled back to 15% in September 2018, though the government added a 20% tax on punter’s winnings.
The political leadership in Kenya is now pressing the government to emulate Uganda that announced last month that foreign betting operators would not have their local licenses renewed.
UK Gambling Commission Releases New Customer ID Check Rules
Online gambling operators are facing a slew of tough, new rules in UK. On Thursday, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) released its new customer identity verification rules that involve verifying the age of customers and other restrictive diktats before processing customer withdrawals.
The new verification rules will come into effect from May 7.
While the old rules gave operators a 72-hour window to conduct various age verification checks, they must now ensure that a new customer is of legal gambling age even before they allow the particular customer to deposit funds into their user accounts on the site or make a bet. Operators also have to verify whether the bet is being made using the customer’s own money or via funds provided in a free bet or bonus offer.
These new rules similarly also apply to free-to-play gambling products on operator websites. Although the UKGC acknowledged that these products were technically not gambling, it held out that there was no legitimate reason why these should be available to minors. The new requirements, the UKGC has emphasized, are part of the regulator’s three-year plan to ensure a “fairer and safer” gambling environment for UK customers.
Other important aspects that the new rules tackle include the process of identity checks, which the online operators demand only after a customer wants to withdraw winnings. Operators will now have to verify the name, address, and date of birth of customers before allowing them to gamble. Operators should, the UKGC stated, clearly inform customers on the type of identity documents or information required.
These requirements, the UKGC said, will allow operators to prevent potential gambling harm because the identities of the operators will now be cross-checked not only with their individual self-exclusion registries but also with data collected by the Gamstop multi-operator self-exclusion scheme. The gambling regulator is also planning consultations to discuss an operator-customer interaction for operators to deal with customers who display potential problem gambling behavior.