After Pilot Falls Ill Midair, Harry Reid Airport Flight Returns To Vegas

Published at 05:33h on March 23, 2023

Last update: March 23, 2023 at 05:33h.

An off-duty pilot flying as a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight assisted in landing a plane in Las Vegas after a regular pilot fell ill on Wednesday.

Clark County Fire Department crews and other officials meet a plane at Harry Reid Airport
Clark County Fire Department crews and other officials meet a plane at Harry Reid International Airport, pictured above. The Southwest Airlines plane was forced to return to Las Vegas after a pilot fell ill. (Image: KSNV)

The Southwest plane had left Harry Reid International Airport in the early morning and was heading to Columbus, Ohio. At 6:33 a.m., a pilot suffered a medical emergency which was described as including stomach pain and fainting, ABC News reported.

During the flight, someone told ground crew over the radio the pilot was stricken and “became incapacitated,” a monitored radio transmission from the plane revealed.

He is in the back of the aircraft right now with the flight attendants. But we need to get him on an ambulance immediately,” the flight crew announced in a radio broadcast, according to ABC.

A nurse on the flight helped to treat the ill pilot.

He apparently was transported to a hospital upon landing in Las Vegas. As of Thursday, his condition was not immediately known. It’s unclear what caused his illness.

Off-Duty Pilot Handled Communications

With the help of the unnamed off-duty pilot, the plane was able to return to Harry Reid Airport. The pilot was a pilot for another airline.

He assisted in radio communications while the second Southwest pilot pilot flew the plane.

Southwest reported that the Southwest plane was in the air for approximately 1 hour and 17 mins,

CNN10 citing data. The plane flew over southern Utah, north of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, before it was forced to return and land in Las Vegas, the Independent reported.The flight landed in Las Vegas safely at about 8 a.m. It was identified as Southwest Flight 6013.

After landing, Southwest put on a different flight crew to fly the passengers later on Wednesday to Columbus where the plane landed safely at John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration launched an investigation into the incident.

Fifth Incapacitated Pilot Within Two Weeks

Wednesday’s incident marks the “fifth pilot incapacitation that I’m aware of in the past two weeks,” Josh Yoder, an airline pilot, said in a Twitter post on Wednesday

.If the off-duty pilot wasn’t on the plane, a flight attendant reportedly could have assisted in the cockpit, while the second pilot flew the plane.

“We commend the crew for their professionalism and appreciate our customers’ patience and understanding regarding the situation,” Southwest Airlines said in a statement quoted by Las Vegas TV station

KVVU.During the Christmas holidays, numerous complaints were made about delayed and canceled Southwest flights that were supposed to land or take off from Harry Reid Airport


EveryMatrix US entry now supported by a new Connecticut license

EveryMatrix, a B2B iGaming supplier based in Sliema, Malta, has acquired a license in Connecticut, strengthening its presence in the US states that regulate sports wagering and iGaming as a leading provider in both sections.

New license:

After entering West Virginia, New Jersey, Michigan and Ontario, Canada, with an ongoing regulatory process in Pennsylvania, the provider has been awarded another US state license that further strengthens its presence in the US by supplying licensed brands in Connecticut with its innovative, customized content and platform services.

However, EveryMatrix has largely established relationships with flagship US operators for in-house gaming content via its proprietary Integration Platform, CasinoEngine.

Commenting on the license, Erik Nyman, President Americas, EveryMatrix, said: “EveryMatrix has focused on U.S. states that have regulated both iGaming and sportsbook as we are leading supplier in both verticals. With our licence approval in Connecticut, we are one step closer to securing access to all the significant regulated states in the U.S. and we are thrilled to go live shortly.

This is another significant milestone for the business and widens our reach to distribute our world-class content, platform and services to licensed operators in the U.S. market.

Online sports wagering and casino legalization in Connecticut:

As online sports wagering and casino are regulated in the State of the Constitution from October 2021, EveryMatrix, a flagship B2B supplier of turnkey platform, casino and sportsbook, officially opened its first US office in Miami, Florida in August 2020.

Furthermore, the company is an official member of the iDevelopment and Economic Association (iDEA).


Headquartered in Silema, Malta, EveryMatrix is one of the flagship platform providers in online casino games. The company was officially launched in 2008.

. They do this through dedicated studios that are semi-independent and located all over the globe.

There’s two options: invest in existing studios, or start their own businesses. They are easily able to do both because they are already in most areas and have been affiliated with many gaming companies. The company prefers small studios. Spearhead Studios was the first to join the company. It has been part of it since 2019. The company has grown rapidly and now has a growing number of independent studios.

JVL- JVL has been in land-based casinos for nearly four decades and is active in Canada. Their growing portfolio of online coin slots is available exclusively from EveryMatrix;

  • Lady Luck Games – This Swedish studio has been producing online slots since 2019, and as part of EveryMatrix since 2021. They are known for creating high-quality online slots that feature innovative designs, wild graphics, and unique game features.

Approved Bally’s iGaming Application in Pennsylvania

Published at 11:41 a.m., March 23, 2023.

Last update: March 23, 2023 at 12:21h.

Bally’s does not own or operate any brick-and-mortar casinos in Pennsylvania. But state gaming regulators on Wednesday nonetheless signed off on the Rhode Island-based gaming operator’s applications to run online casino games in the commonwealth.

Bally's Pennsylvania casino iGaming PGCB
The Bally’s Corporation plans to bring its online casino to Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved applications by the company for online slot machines and table games at its March 22 meeting. (Image: Bally’s Corporation)

Pennsylvania is home to 17 land-based casinos. In December, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) announced it would open up its iGaming market to gaming entities that don’t have a physical footprint in the state.

Bally’s is planning to build a Category 4 casino in State College near Penn State University. Bally’s has decided to apply for online gaming privileges in anticipation of this happening.

The PGCB stated late last year that 12 iGaming licences are available. The permits allow for online slot machines, three for house-banked tables, and six for interactive poker. Each vertical is subject to a $4 million licensing fee.

The PGCB approved Bally’s bid to host online slots and house-banked tables games. With the state’s blessing, Bally’s must pay the state $8 million for the online privileges.

Bally’s didn’t specify a timeline as to when the company might debut its internet casino operations.

Bally’s, state officials revealed, has been the only buyer for the PGCB’s iGaming opportunities since the bidding opened at the end of 2022. Pennsylvania’s brick-and-mortar gaming licensees had to pay only $1 million for the three online gaming verticals.

State College Latest

The PGCB in January unanimously approved Bally’s Category 4 casino application. The company wants to transform the former Macy’s department store at the Nittany Mall into a casino with up to 750 slot machines, 30 table games, and a sportsbook.

The Cordish Companies is legally contesting the Bally’s project because the company didn’t qualify to compete for a Category 4 license. The mini-casinos were originally reserved for slot licensees, but after interest waned, the PGCB opened up the bidding to key investors in those slot concessions.

Pennsylvania businessman Ira Lubert, who holds a 3% ownership position in Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, subsequently won the PGCB’s Category 4 auction round held in September 2020.

Cordish, outbid by Lubert’s $10 million offer, claims the businessman orchestrated an illicit bidding scheme with outside investors who weren’t supposedly allowed to bid under PGCB rules. Soon after tendering his $10 million bid, Lubert announced he partnered with Bally’s on the $123 million Nittany Mall casino project.

Cordish is appealing the PGCB’s decision to issue Bally’s a Category 4 license. The case could drag on for months, if not years, which could be why Bally’s is moving forward with iGaming in the interim at a significantly higher cost than it would need to pay as a land-based applicant.

Online Regulatory Infractions

The PGCB on Wednesday also signed off on $60K in fines related to iGaming.

Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course was fined $45K for allowing five individuals enrolled in the state’s iGaming Self-Exclusion program to gamble online with its iGaming partner. Regulators said the individuals were wrongly granted access to Penn Entertainment’s online Barstool Sportsbook.

Mohegan Pennsylvania and its iGaming partner, Unibet, were fined $7,500 for failing to properly suspend an iGaming account for an individual who had initiated a 90-day “cooling off” period.

And finally, Evolution, a business-to-business third-party iGaming provider that supplies remote live dealers for online table games, was fined $7,500 for not properly registering a new employee with the PGCB.

Light & Wonder mulls possible ASX listing

Leading developer of land-based and digital games, Light & Wonder, Inc. (formerly Scientific Games Corporation) recently announced that in addition to its existing primary listing on the American stock exchange, Nasdaq, is considering a potential secondary listing of its equity on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

Outside of the U.S., Australia is one of the global gaming supplier’s leading markets and listing on the country’s primary securities exchange could enhance Light & Wonder’s (L&W) exposure to long-term institutional investors there and subsequently complement its “strong existing base of shareholders” in both markets. This is not the first time such a move has been made. According to reports, Scientific Games was considering ASX-listing either its global lottery stakes or its newly established L&W arm in order to raise funds and reduce its large debt. Jarden Australia, a Sydney-based investment bank, was contacted by the operator to help them calculate the potential listings in the sixth-largest nation. This was prior to the demerger that saw the Las Vegas-based gaming giant split its lotteries and gaming businesses.

“The ASX is a premium market with a long track record as a platform for global gaming companies and a deep and liquid pool of sophisticated investors and market participants who have a strong understanding of the gaming business,” said Light & Wonder’s Executive Chair, Jamie Odell in a March 15th statement.

“We believe they will appreciate the value and long-term potential of Light & Wonder’s broad international business and strategy. We look forward engaging with the market as well as our shareholders regarding a possible secondary listing.”

The company will reportedly update investors once the evaluation process has been completed and a decision on whether or not to proceed on an ASX secondary listing has already been made. According to the press release, there are no assurances that L&W will pursue such a listing.

Growing Business

As mentioned, online gambling among Aussies has grow in popularity since emerging in the mid-1990s. Online gambling has grown in popularity since its inception in the mid-1990s. This is due to the widespread availability of internet-enabled devices, including smartphones. Participation in online sports betting also increased, with the snapshot showing that in the first half of 2021, 8 percent of Australians bet on sports of racing, compared to 5 percent the year prior.

Moreover, according to the latest report from leading market research company, IMARC Group’s, “Australia Online Gambling Market: Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2023-2028,” Australia’s iGaming market size reached $6,750,598,500.00 (AUD) (US$4.5 billion) in 2022. In addition, IMARC expects a growth rate (CAGR) of 7.09 percent during 2023-2028, with the market reaching US$7.2 billion.

iGaming, or electronic gambling, which includes activities like casino, live casino, poker and sports betting, is conducted via the internet and offers a wide array of advantages over land-based gambling, such as global access, no traveling, convenience, flexibility, bonuses, payment options, including crypto, and more.

Ignition Casino

Sites like are available to American and Australian players, and in addition to an online casino with hundreds of different pokies/slots from software developers Rival and RealTime Gaming, there is Live Casino where players can interact with real dealers and other players in real-time playing Live Dealer Blackjack, Live Dealer Blackjack Early Payout, American Roulette, European Roulette, Baccarat or Super 6, all of which are available 24/7. Ignition Poker offers video poker, specialty games, and a large online poker community. You can expect lower fees, faster transactions, and much more. Ignition’s online poker site is where the company shines. It offers multi-million dollar tournaments and great Jackpot Sit & Go’s. Both Ignition, and Bovada were then licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. The sites also shared poker player pools. Ignition is now based in Costa Rica.

Bally’s Evansville Pit Supervisor Accused of Illegal Poker Den

Published at 07:19 H on March 22, 2023

Last update: March 22, 2023 at 07:19h.

A Bally’s Evansville Casino table games supervisor,Ind. is facing three felony charges for allegedly moonlighting as an underground poker room operator.

Bally’s Evansville, Edward Hill, Ed’s Poker Club, Mark Edge
Edward Hill, left, and Mark Edge each face up to six years in prison, plus a fine of up to $10,000 for running Ed’s Poker Club in Evansville, Ind. (Image: Vanderburgh County Jail.)

Edward HILL, 53, was arrested March 15 for corrupt business influence, professional gaming, and promoting professional betting. These charges relate to the operation of “Ed’s Poker Club,” which was located inside an Evansville office building.

Hill had been running illegal poker games for years, but his business exploded when Bally’s closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Confidential Tipoff

As a pit supervisor at Bally’s, Hill knew gamblers to whom he could publicize the invitation-only games via text message. The landlord of the property Hill rented told him he was running an agency for temp workers.

The Indiana Gaming Commission was notified by a confidential source.

The whistleblower was convinced to wear a wire and go to Ed’s Poker Club. He was given marked bills to use as a buy-in and recorded video of Hill collecting money and interacting with players.

He was also able to obtain poker chips with an “Ed’s Poker Club” logo for investigators, which will be used in evidence.

When authorities raided the poker room, Hill answered the door. Hill answered the door when authorities entered the poker room. There were 16 players playing at two tables. The players were interviewed and released, according to court documents.

Also present was Tarkus Dillard, a Bally’s dealer, who is not believed to have held a management role at the poker club. Mark Edge (41), another Bally’s dealer was not present during the raid. On March 1, 2010, Edge was arrested. He is accused of being Hill’s primary dealer and managing the day-to day operations of the club. He is also facing felony charges for his role in the operation.

170,000 Messages

Investigators seized gaming equipment, records, and $9,240 in cash at the scene. They also took Hill’s phone, which contained more than 170,000 messages, many related to the club’s operations.

Hill told police he made around $200 a night running the club. According to court documents, Edge received a 25% cut from the proceeds. If convicted, both men face up to six years in prison, plus a fine of up to $10,000.

Bally’s, then known as the Tropicana Evansville, closed its doors at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. When it resumed operations, three months later, the poker room remained shuttered.

Bally’s Corporation acquired the casino in June 2021 and has yet to reopen the poker room.

Lake Mead’s Deepest Water intake Opening May Not Be Deep Enough to Serve Las Vegas

Published at 08:17 h on March 22, 2023

Last update: March 22, 2023 at 08:43h.

Even the most deep intake straw that pumps water from Lake Mead into the Las Vegas region may not be sufficient. The region receives 90% of its water from the nation’s largest reservoir. (Image: CNN)

A once-sunken vessel still rests on the rocks at the bottom Lake Mead. (Image: CNN

)This move comes less than a decade after Lake Mead’s rapidly falling water levels caused the SNWA shut down and to cap its highest straw, Intake No. 1. It no longer sits under water and to bring the pumping station online, Intake No. 3. This intake was completed in 2020 and is the most expensive at $1.5B. And it now provides almost all of Las Vegas’ water, according to the SNWA.

“We are not relocating the intake,” SNWA spokesperson Corey Enus told “We are evaluating if the intake opening needs to be lowered in its current location, so we can continue drawing water from well below the surface.”

It’s About Water Quality, not Quantity

Intake No. 3 currently sits more than 20 feet below Lake Mead’s dead-pool elevation of 895 feet above sea level — the depth at which Colorado River water can no longer flow through Hoover Dam downstream to Arizona, California, or Mexico, and hydroelectric power can no longer be generated.

“We are confident that we can continue accessing our water supply even if Lake Mead falls to a dead-pool elevation,” Enus clarified. Enus clarified that “we need to understand the implications of water quality if we draw water closer to the lake’s surface where there may be more silt and heat.”

third intake lake mead
The third straw intake tunnel, which is three miles long and 24-foot in diameter, provides water for more than 2M people and visitors in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. (Image:

Lake mead is currently only 28% full and its surface is only 150 feet above a dead pool. Since the drought struck the American Southwest 22 years ago, its level has dropped to 170 feet. Despite recent rains, the rate of the area’s decline is continuing to accelerate. According to the latest projections from the US Bureau of Reclamation, Lake Mead is expected to drop another 30 feet in the next two years.

Several options are on the table, according to the SNWA — from shortening the third-intake straw and lowering where its top sits, to building settling basins such as those used along the Mississippi River to remove sediment.

“We want to evaluate feasible options now, so we can make proactive, informed decisions, and ensure that our community’s water supply remains high quality,” Enus said.

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. is expected to start the feasibility study this month. The feasibility study should be completed in eight months.

UK Gambling Commission to Remove the Mark as Regulator According to Operators

Published at 04:10, March 23, 2023

Last update: March 23, 2023 at 04:10h.

The UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), asked for input from the gambling industry to help shape the future of gambling policy. The results are in and one common thread is operators’ belief that the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) needs more work to become a viable regulator.

The UK flag unfurled and waving
The UK flag unfurled and waving. The UK’s gaming regulator is in dire need of improvement, according to operators. (Image: Flickr).

The review was part of the UK’s ongoing preparations for its gambling whitepaper, which the government will likely not present until May after further delays. A DCMS committee solicited input from operators to help the process, with Bet365, Flutter and others responding.

The government agency, which has the lead in preparing the gambling reform, has published some of the feedback it received. Nearly all operators expressed concern about the conduct of the UKGC.

UKGC under Fire

The House of Lords in the UK, the National Audit Office, and the UKGC all stated that there is a rise in gambling addiction in the country. This is despite the fact the UKGC’s own surveys proving otherwise.

This raises questions about the UKGC’s motivations for issuing record-breaking monetary fines. Flutter, for its part, believes it knows the answer.

Flutter’s response was based on the DCMS information. It stated that it had repeatedly provided feedback to the UKGC. It doesn’t give feedback to operators, and it does not engage until it is ready to issue its latest fines. It keeps silent until it is ready to issue the latest fines.

Flutter also expressed concerns about the regulator’s ability and inability to adequately address the industry. Flutter also expressed concern about the UKGC’s inability to properly address the industry. To help overcome that hurdle, Flutter believes the UKGC needs to have more input from expert industry insiders.

Bally’s Corp, in part, agreed with Flutter. It stated that the commission doesn’t assess emerging technologies that address current regulations when it introduces new policies.Adding to the conversation, Entain echoed the sentiment and added another layer. It suggested the UKGC should be “co-operative rather than confrontational” when interacting with operators.

Affordability Checks Continue To Cause Friction

All of the operators touched on affordability checks, rumored to be a huge part of the upcoming gambling reform. There has been consensus that the checks will increase black market gambling.

The viability of these checks has never been studied in depth. Some operators, like Bet365, have begun to make changes in anticipation of the mandatory spending controls, but it’s difficult to implement policy without guidance.

Entain highlighted a survey that showed that about one-third of gamblers would move offshore if the UK were to implement mandatory affordability checks. Flutter, which along with Entain have been at the forefront of voluntary responsible gambling measures, agreed that only fully tested procedures should be considered.

The gambling white paper has been undergoing rewrites for almost three years. The white paper was due to be presented in September last year, but a series government missteps and unanticipated changes led to delays.

The DCMS recently stated that the whitepaper could be ready by the month’s end. It seems unlikely, however, as the department is still reviewing responses from operators. Without analyzing the input of the industry, new policies would undoubtedly cause irreparable damage.

President Biden appoints Joe Asher to lead the Wilson Center

Published at 12:47 p.m., March 23, 2023.

Last update: March 22, 2023 at 05:51h.

IGT Sports Betting president Joe Asher is a respected figure in the international sports betting industry. After being named by Joe Biden, his friend and fellow Delawarean, Asher will now be heading one of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s most prominent think tanks.

Joe Asher IGT Woodrow Wilson Center Joe Biden
Joe is one of sports betting’s most respected minds. President Joe Biden believes that Asher is a great choice to head the Woodrow Wilson Center in DC. This think tank, which is partially funded by Congress, is a nonpartisan policy forum that addresses global issues. (Image: William Hill)

Chartered by Congress in 1969 as the official memorial to President Woodrow Wilson, the center is a nonpartisan policy forum that addresses global issues, with recommendations formed through independent research and open dialogue.

Biden has tapped Asher as the new chair of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Board of Trustees — the formal name of the think tank. Asher replaces Bill Haslam who was a billionaire Republican and served two terms in Tennessee as governor.

Asher studied at the University of Delaware, where he also received his Juris Doctor degree. He says he’s known the Bidens for decades and has “been a big supporter” of the president for many years.

DC Outsider

Asher, a Las Vegas resident, has enjoyed a successful career in sports betting and was inducted into the SBC Sports Betting Hall of Fame in 2021. Asher said that it is not clear why Biden appointed him to this important, prestigious public policy position. Asher stated that he plans to contribute his business and handicapping knowledge to the think tank.

“They [Woodrow Wilson Center] dig into complex issues and present the facts and solutions for key decision makers,” Asher said to CDC Gaming Reports. “I am grateful for the opportunity. Asher explained, “I live in the west, away from the New York bubble and DC, and I am in the business community, not in government or academia.”

Hopefully, that’s a different perspective,” Asher explained.

Before heading up IGT’s sports betting department, Asher was CEO of UK-based William Hill, one of the world’s largest bookmakers.

Less than three years after the US Supreme Court overturned the federal sports betting ban, Caesars Entertainment acquired William Hill in April 2021 for about $3.7 billion. After selling Brandywine Bookmaking to Caesars, Asher joined William Hill in 2012. The Woodrow Wilson Center’s board of trustees is appointed by the President of the United States for six-year terms. The quasi-government, public-private partnership is located in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in DC.

Trustees serve on various committees with functions including executive, audit, finance and investment policy, development, fellowship, as well as strategic planning and programming,” a statement from the organization explained.

The trustees oversee the center’s leadership team, governance, and roughly 150-person staff. Each year, the Woodrow Wilson Center welcomes over 150 fellows from more than 100 countries. Fellowships are extended to scholars, practitioners, and public intellectuals.

Fellows conduct research and write in their areas of interest and interact with DC lawmakers on behalf of the center. Fellows accepted into the program receive a stipend of $90,000 a year for a nine-month fellowship.

The Woodrow Wilson Center generates the bulk of its revenue through private contributions and donations. For its 2021 fiscal year, 44.3% of $40.8 million in revenue came from grants and contributions. About 35% of the center’s revenue came from Congress.

ARIA to Host BetMGM Poker Championship in June

BetMGM is a leading sports betting and iGaming company based in New Jersey. The BetMGM Poker Championship will take place in ARIA Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, from Friday, June 9th to Tuesday, June 13th. The ARIA’s Poker Room will host the tournament for the second consecutive year as a part of the 2023 ARIA Poker Classic event.

Six-day Poker Tournament:

The BetMGM six-day tournament will begin with a Mystery Bount event on June 8th to be gradually brought to a spectacular finale on Tuesday, June 13th, when the final table will be played. The thrill of this closing event of the BetMGM Poker Championship at ARIA will be transferred to worldwide poker fans through a live stream from PokerGO Studio.

$3,500 buy-in, $ 2 million guarantee:

The championship is a $3,500 buy-in no-limit tournament with a $ 2 million associated guarantee. Eligible players will be invited to put up a buy-in and get a set number of tournament chips to prospectively join already the two starting flights at ARIA. The huge BetMGM event will feature at least 100 qualifiers from the operator’s markets of New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ontario, Canada with online qualifier events for the BetMGM Poker Championship at ARIA starting Monday, May 1st.

Qualifier Packages:

The players proving their eligibility online will be awarded the packages consisting of a $3,500 buy-in for the BetMGM Poker Championship and an $800 buy-in for the Mystery Bounty event. They will also get their travel expenses and a six-night ARIA stay from June 7-13th, 2023 covered by the organization. ARIA Resort & Casino is a five-diamond facility of the City Center complex located on the Las Vegas Strip.

Commenting on the upcoming tournament, Luke Staudenmaier, Director of Poker, BetMGM said: “It’s great to bring BetMGM players back to Las Vegas during one of poker’s most exciting times of the year. For a second straight year, ARIA is delivering a Championship event and we are happy to continue to build on our relationship with MGM Resorts while connecting BetMGM online players to the best poker rooms in the United States.”

BetMGM is a subsidiary of MGM Resorts International, a Las Vegas-based hotel and casino giant offering first-class accommodations, world-class entertainment, and high-quality gaming facilities.

Tennessee Sports Betting Tax Reform Bill put on hold until budget passes

Published at 11:04 a.m., March 22, 2023.

Last update: March 22, 2023 at 11:04 p.m.

Tennessee legislators will take action to revise the state’s sports gambling tax at the end of the current session.

A Tennessee welcome signage greets visitors when they enter The Volunteer State. The state is considering changing the way it taxes sports betting operators. This could include a move to a handle-tax. (Image: Carol/Adobe stock images)

The state House Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee passed House Bill 1362 after the budget was approved. The bill sponsored by Andrew Farmer, a state representative from Sevierville, has a fiscal effect that will not be included this year in the budget bill. The Tennessee General Assembly will not consider the bill until it passes the budget.

Last Year, lawmakers approved the budget on April 21. It was April 29 in 2021 and April 30 in 2019. The legislature will have time to review the sports betting taxes before May 4.1001010. However, the Senate has a bill that would revise the tax. That bill is scheduled for a hearing in that chamber’s Finance, Ways, and Means Committee next Wednesday.

Moving Away from 20% Revenue Tax

Both bills do away with the 20% tax on adjusted gross revenues that has been in place since sports betting was legalized in 2019. In place of the 20% tax on adjusted gross revenues, lawmakers propose to tax the handle, which is the amount wagered each month. The Senate proposes a 2% tax while the House bill calls for a 1.85% tax. Both bills would allow operators to deduct the federal excise tax of.25% from their monthly handle, before the state assesses it tax.

The House bill would also change the annual renewal fees that operators pay. The $750,000 annual fee will be reduced to $750,000 for all operators. However, fees and thresholds may change.

The House bill states that any operator taking more than $500,000,000 in wagers would still have to pay the $750,000 fee. The fee for sportsbooks that accept less than $100,000,000 in wagers would be $250,000 and all those between these thresholds would have to pay a $500,000 renewal charge.

A fiscal note was filed Wednesday, however, which sets the threshold at $100,000,000 in gross wagers during the 12-month period. The fee for those above the threshold would still be $750,000, while those below it would pay $375,000. The note also calls on the Sports Wagering Council (the bill also changes the name from the current Sports Wagering Advisory Council) to establish rules by July 1, 2025, that would establish license fees that would cover the council’s expenses incurred to regulate sports betting in the state.

Mandatory Hold Would Go Away

A major driver for the tax reform was operators not meeting the 10% hold rate that the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation established when it created the rules three years ago. The state mandated operators to meet the 10% hold rate when it created the rules three years ago. Both bills eliminate that requirement.

The fiscal note indicated that all operators who failed to meet the mandated 10% payment would be subject to a $25,000 fine. The fiscal note stated that all operators who failed to meet the 10% mandate in 2022 were required to make a “true-up” payment. In addition, the Tennessee General Assembly’s Fiscal Review Committee expects those nine operators to pay $25,000 this year. The Council reports that monthly revenue reported by operators from September to December ranged between $47 million in December and $31.8 million last month. The six-month span beginning in September has generated the six highest revenue marks since sports betting launched.

Prior to this current run, the high-water mark was $29.6 million in November 2021.

Put another way, during the first 22 months of reports, the state reported operator revenues totaling $395.2 million, or an average of $18 million per month. Operators have earned $238.7 millions over the past six months. This is an average of $39.8million per month.

Despite the fact that the reports only cover the NFL and college football seasons it’s still quite significant. From September 2021 through February 2022, the average monthly revenue was $20.7 million.