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Compliance Updates

Alabama Lawmakers Push Sweeping Gambling Bill That Would Allow Lottery and Casinos

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A group of Alabama lawmakers unveiled a sweeping gambling bill last week that could authorize a state lottery and 10 casinos across the conservative Deep South state as some Republicans look to get the question before voters in November.

Alabama is one of few states without a state lottery, after lawmakers in 1999 rejected a proposal to allow one. And unlike neighboring Mississippi, the state has been resistant to full-fledged casinos with table games and slot machines. Lawmakers estimate the proposal could provide more than $800 million in annual revenue to the state.

If approved by three-fifths of lawmakers, the proposal would be put on the ballot for voters to decide.

“We believe that people deserve the right to vote on this issue,” said Republican Rep. Andy Whitt, who led a group of legislators who worked on the bill.

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The gambling bill, now backed by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, was among several controversial measures put forward by lawmakers to kick off the legislative session. A committee advanced legislation that would make it a crime to return another person’s absentee ballot, a restriction Republican supporters said they want to enact before the November presidential election.

A draft of the gambling legislation was distributed to lawmakers last week and supporters said the bill could be up for a vote in committee and on the House floor as soon as this week, depending upon support. Republican backers of the bill will need to whip votes from within their ranks and also win the votes of a substantial number of Democratic lawmakers.

“We’re trending in the right direction,” Republican Rep. Chris Blackshear, who will sponsor the bill, said of efforts to get the needed 63 votes to pass the bill in the Republican-dominated House.

Several lawmakers from both sides on the aisle said they needed more time to review the bill before determining how they will vote.

Supporters pitched the bill as a means to crack down on small electronic gambling machines that have cropped up in convenience stores and small gambling halls. The state has been in a long-running legal battle to shut down electronic bingo machines, which have whirling displays that make them resemble slot machines. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who are not under state jurisdiction, have three sites with the slot machine lookalikes.

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The proposed constitutional amendment would allow a state lottery, seven new casino sites, sports betting and also authorize the governor to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians that would enable the tribe to offer casino games at their three existing locations. The tribe would also be able to offer such games at a new casino site in north Alabama that could attract customers from Tennessee and Georgia.

Lottery proceeds would go to education programs such as scholarships for two-year community and technical colleges and dual enrollment. Casino and sports betting revenue would go to the general fund, where lawmakers would decide each year how to allocate it.

The controversial bill to enact absentee ballot restrictions would make it a misdemeanor to deliver someone else’s absentee completed ballot or distribute an absentee ballot application prefilled with someone else’s name. It would be a felony to give and receive payment for helping people vote absentee.

Supporters say the change is needed to combat voter fraud, but opponents say it would discourage voting by absentee ballot.

Republican Sen. Garlan Gudger said the bill would stop bad actors “trying to steal our elections”. Gudger said the bill was changed from an initial version that sparked heated debate last year and would have largely prohibited any help with absentee ballots.

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Democrats on the committee and opponents who spoke at a public hearing, questioned the need for the bill.

“This bill doesn’t just erect barriers, it obliterates the bridge connecting disenfranchised citizens to their democratic right to vote,” said Tari Williams, who works with a Birmingham-based nonprofit that works with low-income people.

The same committee last week delayed a vote on legislation that would regulate which flags could be displayed outside public property in Alabama. The bill listed certain flags such as the American flag, state and city flags and others that would be allowed. A Democratic lawmaker questioned the need for the bill and language suggesting flags from previous governments would be allowed.

“Are we going to put the Confederate flag all over? The Spanish flag?” asked Sen. Linda Coleman Madison, a Democrat from Birmingham. “It looks like this is opening up a can of worms,” she added.

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Compliance Updates

NJ Governor Murphy Establishes Task Force to Support Responsible Gaming

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has signed Executive Order No. 360, establishing a Responsible Gaming Task Force responsible for providing advice and recommendations to the Governor’s Office and to the Attorney General regarding reforms to support responsible gaming and to address problem gambling in New Jersey.

A rise in problem gambling has been observed over the past few years, according to a 2023 report from the Rutgers University Center for Gambling Studies. The Rutgers study estimated that 6% of New Jersey residents are at high risk for problem gambling, which is significantly higher than the national average of 1-2%, with the highest rates affecting Black/African American or Hispanic residents.

“New Jersey is known to be a gaming destination with historic locations like Atlantic City, amusement gaming at the Jersey Shore, notable horse racing venues, and more. This Task Force will see to it that we maintain our global leadership in gaming by ensuring that we have the tools needed to address problem gaming for our residents,” said Governor Murphy.

“I applaud Governor Murphy for his leadership in elevating responsible gaming initiatives through the establishment of a statewide task force. New Jersey has been a national leader in casino and sports wagering for many years, and we owe it to our residents to review and expand our existing efforts on problem gambling. This task force demonstrates that ‘responsible gaming’ is not merely a buzzword in New Jersey, but a critical issue that demands the attention of government entities, industry, and stakeholders. As Chair of the task force, I’m eager to get underway in examining ways to help bring attention to and support the prevention and treatment of gambling disorder,” said Attorney General Platkin.

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The responsibilities of the Responsible Gaming Task Force will be to review several areas of the problem gambling landscape, including the effects on underage and vulnerable communities; develop strategies to achieve responsible gaming; and make recommendations for policy changes to address the issue of problem gambling.

Members of the Task Force will consist of seven government representatives or their designees, including:

The Attorney General, who shall serve as Chair;

The Chair of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission;

The Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs;

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The Director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement;

The Director of the Division of State Lottery;

The Executive Director of the New Jersey Racing Commission; and

The Commissioner of the Department of Human Services.

The Task Force may consult with experts, representatives of regulated entities, or other knowledgeable individuals in the public or private sector with respect to any aspect of its mission.

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Compliance Updates

Flows Now Registered in New Jersey

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Technology solutions provider Flows is now officially registered as an active vendor in New Jersey.

James King, CEO of Flows, said: “Receiving approval as a vendor in New Jersey is a next natural step for us at Flows as we accelerate our North American expansion. It highlights the dedication and effort of our entire team and aligns with our mission to deliver cutting-edge innovation platform to the US market. A big thanks to our fantastic client Light & Wonder who supported our registration as well as a big shout out to North America’s finest legal outfit Saiber LLC (Jeremy and his team) for their expert guidance throughout this process.”

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Compliance Updates

Aruze Gaming Announces Rapid Expansion Throughout North America and Asia

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Aruze Gaming Global (AG2) has announced rapid expansion throughout North America and Asia. AG2 has now met the rigorous requirements and has been granted approvals from the following jurisdictions, across North America and Asia. These new gaming licenses dramatically expand AG2’s addressable markets in more than 160 new jurisdictions, including recent approvals in Macau (SAR) China (DICJ), Philippines (PAGCOR), Pennsylvania, Virginia, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and dozens more that are in process. Additionally, AG2 is establishing offices and distributorships in the Netherlands, Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia, and Vietnam to further extend its international reach. AG2 has now been granted licenses for over 160 gaming jurisdictions world-wide, up from just 76 licenses in August of 2023.

This accomplishment marks a substantial expansion for AG2, solidifying its commitment to providing cutting-edge gaming solutions with the highest standards of regulatory compliance. The recent approvals underscore the company’s dedication to fostering strong relationships with its partners across the globe while ensuring responsible and transparent gaming practices.

Kelcey Allison, Global Chief Operating Officer, said: “The timing could not be better for the new gaming licenses. Coupled with the recent release of several new titles that are performing at 2 to 3 times house average – thus giving us some amazing new content for our existing and newly accessible markets.”

Betty Zhao, SVP of International Operations, said: “Our explosive growth and high-performing new content is fueling a lot of excitement with our new customers.”

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