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Compliance Updates

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Names Director of Investigations and Enforcement Bureau and Executive Director

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The MGC met on January 31 in a public meeting to interview candidates for the role of IEB Director. Following those interviews, commissioners voted 5-0 to appoint Caitlin Monahan Director of the agency’s IEB. Monahan served as Interim Director of the IEB and before that served for three years as a member of the MGC’s legal division, recently as deputy general counsel. Prior to joining the MGC, Monahan was a litigator in the Boston office of the law firm WilmerHale. She started her career as an assistant in the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. Monahan graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

“I am excited for this important opportunity to lead the Commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau. Having served in the MGC’s legal division previously and in this role on an interim basis, I know the essential work in front of us and look forward to continue to collaborate with my colleagues across the MGC to ensure the integrity and safety of gaming in the Commonwealth,” said Monahan.

The IEB is the largest division at the MGC and is responsible for ensuring the integrity of Massachusetts gaming operations. The IEB has an investigatory side, staffed with members of the Massachusetts State Police Gaming Enforcement Unit and financial investigators, who complete background checks and ongoing suitability determinations on operators, vendors and employees of the gaming establishments. The IEB is a law enforcement agency, with subpoena power and broad investigatory authority to make sure that the people and business entities involved with gaming meet the established standards of integrity, honesty and good character. The IEB also has an enforcement side, staffed with Gaming Agents, who ensure that the Massachusetts casinos are in compliance with all regulations promulgated by the Commission. Additionally, the IEB oversees the MGC’s licensing division.

“Caitlin has been a valued member of the MGC team for a number of years, first in the legal division and recently as interim IEB Director – this experience will help ensure her success as she begins this new role. Her contributions have been essential to the work of the MGC in the regulation and oversight of casino gaming, horse racing, and establishing sports wagering in the Commonwealth, and I know she will continue to meet and surpass our high expectations as a leader of our organization,” said Chair Cathy Judd-Stein.

Much like final interviews for the IEB Director, Commissioners met in a public meeting on Monday March 18 to interview two final candidates for the role of executive director. Following interviews and deliberations, commissioners voted 4-0 to appoint Dean Serpa as executive director of the MGC. Throughout his career, Serpa has served in multiple senior roles throughout Massachusetts state government including leadership roles for the office of Governor Charlie Baker. He currently serves as the chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Policy Advisory Committee (GPAC).

“I want to thank the commissioners for entrusting me with this important role, and I look forward to joining the committed team at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. I am passionate about moving projects from inception to competition and working with teams to get things done – I am excited to build on my experience with GPAC as I get started as executive director of the Commission,” said Dean Serpa.

The executive director serves as the executive and administrative head of the MGC and is responsible for administering and enforcing the provisions of the law relative to the commission and each of the agency’s administrative units. The executive director reports to the five-member Commission.

“Dean’s unparalleled operations experience and record of leadership and service to the Commonwealth will allow him to step into the role of executive director and have an immediate impact on the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. His time as chair of the Gaming Policy Advisory Committee will provide him with an essential level of familiarity regarding MGC policies and programs as he begins his tenure,” said Commissioner Eileen O’Brien.

Commissioners Nakisha Skinner (chair) and Brad Hill served on the initial screening committee for the new IEB director and were joined by Chief People and Diversity Officer David Muldrew. Commissioners Eileen O’Brien (chair) and Jordan Maynard served on the initial screening committee for the executive director and were joined by Chief People and Diversity Officer David Muldrew and Chief Financial and Accounting Officer Derek Lennon. Former interim IEB director, Heather Hall, also served on the ED screening committee until she departed the Commission.

Compliance Updates

eCOGRA Authorized to Offer Certification Services in Brazil

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eCOGRA, the Internationally renowned Independent Testing Laboratory, has been officially authorized by the Secretaria De Prêmios e Apostas (SPA) to operate as a certifying entity for betting systems, live gaming studios, and online games in Brazil. This announcement marks a significant milestone as eCOGRA continues to extend its international offering of iGaming testing, inspection, and certification (TIC) services in regulated markets across the globe.

The announcement comes two months to the day after eCOGRA received approval to operate as a Certification Laboratory in Peru. The organization now operates in 39 online gambling jurisdictions, including Buenos Aires City and Province, Peru, Mendoza, Colombia, and Brazil in South America.

Since its establishment in 2003, eCOGRA has been at the forefront of online gambling certification, providing assurance on fairness and safety to players while offering the highest standards in TIC services to industry operators and software providers seeking to comply with regulatory requirements. The approval to operate in Brazil reflects both the trust eCOGRA has built in the international iGaming community and the quality of its certification services.

Bradley Khoury, Chief Technical Officer of eCOGRA, said: “We are thrilled to bring over two decades of expertise in online gambling certification to the vibrant market of Brazil. This approval from the Secretaria De Prêmios e Apostas (SPA) of the Brazilian Ministry of Finance is not only a testament to our unwavering commitment to the highest standards of competence and quality but also marks an exciting new chapter for eCOGRA. We look forward to working closely with Brazilian operators and interested parties to ensure a safe and fair gaming environment for all players.”

The new Brazilian regulatory framework aims to effectively safeguard player interests and enhance the integrity of online gambling operations within the country.

“Brazil offers a dynamic and rapidly growing market, and we are excited to contribute to its development. Our goal is to ensure that Brazilian players have access to certified iGaming experiences, akin to what has successfully been implemented in other highly regulated jurisdictions,” Khoury added.

Operators and software developers offering in the federal Brazilian jurisdiction seeking to comply with the laws and regulations by undergoing testing, inspection, and certification can now turn to eCOGRA for their renowned services, assured of their commitment to quality, impartiality, and fairness.

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Compliance Updates

IGT and Acres to Resolve All Pending Litigation

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International Game Technology (IGT) and Acres 4.0, Acres Manufacturing Company, and John Acres (Acres) announced that effective April 12, 2024, they have reached an agreement to resolve all legal disputes between the two companies. Terms of the settlement have not been announced.

The resolution was reached in the US District Court of Nevada, directed to US patents that pertain to facilitating use of a financial transaction device in a cashless wagering system in a gaming system, and Nevada State Court directed to a breach of contract claims.

“IGT is pleased to reach a mutual agreement with Acres that resolves all disputes between us. This allows us to dedicate our collective resources where they are better served, driving continued innovation in the exciting and evolving cashless gaming space,” said Nick Khin, IGT COO Gaming.

“We are thrilled to put this matter behind us and work cooperatively with IGT to build exciting new gambling experiences that can increase both player enjoyment and casino profits,” John Acres, CEO of Acres, said.

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Compliance Updates

$4.3 Billion Wagered Illegally During March Madness, Fueled by Social Media Influence

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Latest analysis by online marketplace intelligence specialists, YieldSec, commissioned by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling (CFG), has revealed a stark contrast between legal and illegal online gambling activities during the 2024 NCAA Men’s & Women’s March Madness Basketball Tournaments in the US. YieldSec’s monitoring unveiled an overwhelming majority of betting-related social media posts and video content, reaching up to 73% and 78% respectively, directing audiences toward illegal betting and gambling operators.

YieldSec’s findings shed light on the strength of the illegal gambling grip on the American marketplace, with 378 illegal sports betting operators and 651 illicit affiliates aggressively targeting US March Madness audiences and claiming 64% of the total market share, generating $4.3 billion in illegal and untaxed wagering. The remaining $2.4 billion wagered legally amounts to just 36% of the total market share.

These statistics underscore the challenges in controlling the proliferation of unlicensed gambling operators that have historically capitalized on the fragmented legal landscape of online betting in the US.

Key findings for March Madness 2024:

  1. Illegal gambling on March Madness comprised 64% of US online marketplace wagering ($4.3 billion Handle).
  2. Total value of March Madness betting (legal and illegal) amounts to a handle of $6.7bn.
  3. 378 illegal sports betting operators actively targeted the US.
  4. 651 affiliates promoted illegal sports betting operators that actively targeted the US.
  5. Illegals dominated social media content with up to 73% of all social posts in favor of illegal operators.
  6. 78% of all video content that linked to March Madness betting was linked to illegal operators.

Derek Webb, Founder of CFG, said: “This Yield Sec special report illustrates the dire need for a comprehensive strategy to tackle illegal gambling in the US. The lack of a united government approach and lax oversight by states have only compounded the problem, enabling entities with dubious backgrounds to operate freely. It’s high time for U.S. leadership to spearhead a unified solution to this pervasive issue.”

Ismail Vali, Founder and CEO of YieldSec, said: “The overwhelming presence of illegal gambling during one of the biggest sports betting events of the year is a clear signal that enforcement and monitoring need to be prioritized. Our findings are a call to action for stakeholders across the board to intensify efforts in combating the spread of unlicensed gambling operations that exploit the online marketplace. With the dominance of illegals across our social media channels, it’s clear that the threats to American commerce, community and consumers are a lot closer to home than ever imagined.”

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling is now advocating for a cohesive governmental response to illegal gambling, urging the Department of Justice, Treasury, Federal Trade Commission, and the Trade Representative’s Office to consider the findings of the YieldSec report as a basis for developing effective countermeasures.

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