Valve tries to skin, skin betting in TF2

Valve Corporation announced late last week that it would begin blocking Team Fortress 2 gambling accounts.  This comes on the heels of a skin betting issue in which the state of Washington demanded that the company immediately ban of the transfer of weapons on its Steam platform.

 (via Wikipedia)

The Washington State Gambling Commission determined that skins were used as consideration in illegal gambling on third party web sites.

Valve was sued in Washington state due to allowing an alleged online illegal gaming market.  However, the court dismissed the case on Valve’s motion to dismiss.

The recent move by Valve likely looks to curb additional issues with potential skin betting and lawsuits down the road.

New Jersey advances DFS bill in state Assembly

Will Daily Fantasy Sports become legal in the state of New Jersey?

A bill introduced to legalize Daily Fantasy Sports was approved by the New Jersey state Assembly’s tourism and gaming committee on Monday.  An updated bill established guidelines including a 10.5 percent quarterly tax rate on the gross revenue of all operators.

The legislation would define daily fantasy sports as a “game of skill” versus a “game of chance.”

Some of the key statements within the bill:

the outcome of a game will be determined by statistics generated based on the performance of actual individuals participating in real professional or collegiate athletic events;

all prizes offered to participants will be established and disclosed in advance to all participants;

the outcome will not be based solely on the performance of an individual athlete, or on the score, point spread, or any performance of a single real team or combination of real teams;

The bill imposes an annual registration and renewal fee for all daily fantasy sports providers in an amount equal to 9.25% of daily fantasy sports gross revenue.

  Also, the bill sets forth penalties for violations of the provisions of the bill and regulations

DraftKings gets go ahead in Germany

The Sports Business Daily reports that the Malta Gaming Authority has issued a controlled games skill license to DraftKings to allow the company to operate in the country of Germany and other European nations.  The license allows the company to operate in countries that do not require a local gaming license.

The report notes that the license applies to DraftKings only as the application predated the merger with FanDuel.  Unlike the license it was given in the UK, this one designates daily fantasy sports as a game of skill.

The expansion is big news for the daily fantasy sports company.

The status of legalizing online poker in Washington state

A hearing was held on January 18th before a Washington State Senate Commerce Committee on the future of online poker within the state.

The hearing was held before the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee to discuss the possible regulation and taxation of internet poker and daily fantasy sports.  We have discussed the DFS discussion here.

As for online poker, the committee took testimony from John Pappas of the Poker Players Alliance (a grassroots activist group per Pappas) as well as an interesting testimony from a math schoolteacher and avid online poker player.

Pappas spoke about how Washington’s law prohibiting online gaming is one of the strictest criminal penalties for wagering on the internet.  Pappas said that the law was nonsensical and unenforceable.  He hoped that the legislature would look into ways of licensing and regulating online gaming. Pappas asked that online gaming be viewed as a consumer protection issue.

He pointed to New Jersey as a state that has done well in regulating online gaming.

It is a Class C Felony penalty (5 years in prison and/or $10,000 penalty) if someone is caught gambling online in the state, which, according to Pappas is similar to the penalty given to sex offenders.

Online poker is illegal in Washington state despite attempts to repeal the law.  But there’s nothing currently before the legislature regarding repealing the law and/or legalizing online poker.

The Washington State Gambling Commission gave an overview of the Gambling Act.  It noted that Consideration, Chance and Prize are the three issues the commission considers.  The attorney for the commission noted that it has not arrested any players as it stated that it focused more on companies.

The question of what other states are doing with online poker and whether those states that have regulated it determine whether it is a game of skill was a query.  The commission went over states that looked at license fees and what taxes each assessed.

Testimony was also provided by proponents of online poker.

Ernie Stebbins of the Washington Indian Gaming Association noted that tribal gaming were an economic benefit for tribes.  According to Stebbins, on an annual basis for state and local sales tax provides $255 million to the state treasury.

On the other side, the concern of compulsive gambling was an issue raised by those that might be opposed to the legalization of online poker.

There was no bill before the committee which is problematic if there is to be any movement for the state of Washington.

LA Gear files opposition to LA Chargers Trademark

From my Copyright and TM Blog:

The San Diego Chargers NFL franchise is moving up the 5 to Los Angeles.  Among the issues that the franchise had to address is a trademark issue involving its logo.

The franchise, Chargers Football Company, LLC, filed for the mark last January.

The logo has been under criticism by the public and has been opposed by LA Gear.  You might recall LA Gear was popular for footwear back in the 1990s.

The trademark was published for opposition on December 20, 2016 and LA Gear filed an opposition on the same day.

In its Notice of Opposition, LA Gear claims that the proposed mark by the Chargers will be over to the “same classes of consumers and at least through the same channels of trade as Opposer’s (LA Gear’s) Goods.”  its mark will be diminished and dilute “the distinctive quality” of its famous marks.

LA Gear by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

The Chargers have until February 7, 2017 to file an Answer.

Hawaii introduces new bill to legalize online gaming

A new internet gaming bill was introduced in Hawaii on Friday.  The bill is one of the many different pieces of legislation being introduced across the nation as a swell of bills concerning gaming is coming to the forefront in 2017.

The bill identifies that “tens of thousands” of Hawaii residents are already using illegal online gambling on unregulated internet web sites.  The bill is meant as a way “[t]o protect Hawaii residents who gamble on the Internet, and to capture revenues generated from internet gambling in Hawaii…”

The legislation will seek to create an “internet-only lottery and gaming corporation, which shall be a public instrumentality…”  It will be subject through a “system of audits and reports.”

The bill goes on to define its scope on what the internet lottery and gaming corporation may do:

(1)  Offer internet wagering on games of chance and games of skill, including lottery, poker, and casino games, to individuals over the age of eighteen years; provided that the corporation shall not offer internet wagering on any sporting event or sporting contest;

(2)  Enter into agreements with other state gaming entities for the offering of multistate games, consistent with state and federal law;

(3)  Utilize the broad reach of its internet gaming platform to offer legally compliant free-play games and sweepstakes with Hawaii related prizes to individuals outside of Hawaii, for the purpose of attracting tourists and providing free exposure for Hawaii and Hawaii businesses to domestic and overseas markets;

(4)  Conduct no more than two land-based gaming entertainment events annually, related to the corporation’s internet game offerings, for the purpose of attracting tourists to Hawaii; provided that the corporation shall not have the authority to conduct any other form of land-based gambling; and

(5)  Engage in other activities consistent with the purpose of this chapter and rules adopted hereunder, and with state, federal, and international laws.

Notably, the bill does not attempt to define a “game of chance” versus a “game of skill.”

The introduction of the bill comes a year after it ruled Daily Fantasy Sports illegal gambling.  Just a year ago, the state’s Attorney General defined Daily Fantasy Sports as contests that constitute gambling under Hawaii law.  Could we see the state revisit this in light of the proposed law?

Washington state unlikely to pass DFS law in 2017

For those hoped 2017 would be the year that Washington State would legalize Daily Fantasy Sports, it appears that the hope has faded just 18 days into the new year.

A Senate Commerce Committee hearing on a Daily Fantasy Sports bill which would classify DFS as a game of skill did not provide any timeline as far as movement and senate committee chair Michael Baumgartner indicated that there would be no chance that Daily Fantasy Sport will move this year.

The bill would classify DFS as a game of skill and not gambling for purposes of the Gambling Act.  It defines a fantasy competition and provides certain conditions regarding prizes and the determination of the contest winner.

The hearing was the first for the bill although some committee members noted it was similar to one introduced last year.

Senate Bill 5169 would classify Daily Fantasy Sports as a game of skill rather than that of chance which would exempt it from any classification of gambling. According to the proposed bill, “[a]ll prizes and awards offered to winning participants are established and made knwon to the participants in advance of the game or contest and teh value of the prizes and awards is not determined by the number of participants or the amount of any fees paid by participants.”  Ensuring the classification of skill, the proposed legislation notes that wins “reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants and are determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals in multiple real world sporting or events…”

Testifying in favor of the bill was former state attorney general Rob McKenna who now works at a law firm representing DraftKings and FanDuel.  McKenna indicated that there were 40 states that allow Daily Fantasy Sports.  Ohio would soon be the 41st state with legislation pending.  McKenna is hopeful that Washington the 42nd state.

The committee asked McKenna about how other states have addressed regulation to which he referred them to states such as Colorado, Virginia and Maryland.

In addition to McKenna, Maureen Greeley, the Executive Director of the Evergreen Council of Problem Gambling testified before the committee that warned of gambling addiction and the concern about regulation.

It was clear that without a lot of detailed questions regarding the bill, that the committee is taking baby steps in learning the intricacies of Daily Fantasy Sports and without the education, it’s unlikely that we’ll see DFS legal in Washington in 2017.

For more background on the battle for DFS in Washington state, I wrote a piece last year.