Friday, April 20, 2018

Casino News Daily
Kenya Could Scrap 35% Gambling Tax and Introduce Tax on Winnings

Kenya’s current 35% tax on betting and gaming services could be scrapped by the government in favor of a 15% one under growing pressure from the country’s gambling industry.

Local media reports that National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale submitted earlier this week the Tax Laws (Amendment) Bill 2018, which seeks to lower the current tax rate and to add several more amendments to the country’s existing gambling taxation law, including a tax on betting and gaming winnings.

Kenya’s new taxation regime was approved by the country’s government and president, Uhuru Kenyatta, last summer and came into effect on January 1, 2018. Under it, all gambling services, including sports betting, casino gaming, and raffles, are taxed at a flat rate of 35%.

Previously, licensed bookmakers paid a 7.5% tax, while casino operators were taxed at 12%. Providers of raffles and similar competitions paid a 15% tax.

The new 35% tax immediately sparked controversy and drew criticism from gambling industry stakeholders, who condemned it as an extremely burdensome one. In addition to that tax, licensed gambling operators are also required to pay a 30% corporate tax and to contribute 25% of all sales proceeds to good causes.

The industry expressed concerns that there would be operators that would not be able to survive the new taxation regime. Pambazuka National Lottery went out of business on January 7, or less than a week after the new tax law came into effect. The operator cited the high tax rate as the reason for its demise.

The implementation of the new tax rate also resulted in Kenyan sports betting operator SportPesa withdrawing KES600 million (nearly $6 million) worth of local sports sponsorships.

Tax on Winnings

The new bill calls for the introduction of a tax on all winnings from gambling services. If the legislative piece gains the necessary support, it would require gaming and betting operators to deduct 20% on every win scored by their customers.

Tax consultants noted that the government should clarify how exactly the tax on winnings will be charged when customers win cars and other non-monetary prizes as opposed to cash prizes, from which the required tax is much easier to deduct.

Kenya had previously charged betting winnings, but dropped that tax in 2016 as numerous hurdles hampered its proper implementation. The new proposal for taxing gambling winnings aims to reduce interest in such activities among Kenyans, particularly among the younger members of the African country’s population.

Sports betting, in particular, has grown significantly in popularity in Kenya over the past several years. The growth has been attributed primarily to the widespread penetration of smartphones and the launch of mobile-based services that allow customers to bet and withdraw winnings via their mobile phones without having to provide bank account details.

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World Casino News
Monmouth Park Racetrack anxiously awaiting PASPA decision

In New Jersey, Monmouth Park Racetrack is reportedly anxiously waiting to hear whether the United States Supreme Court will overturn the existing Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) so that it may offer legalized sportsbetting. According to a Tuesday report from the Asbury Park Press newspaper, horses are due to start arriving at the […]

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Casino News Daily
Canberra Casino Owners Claim ACT Government Kept Quiet about Pokies Legislation Changes

Aquis Entertainment Group, which currently owns Canberra Casino, made claims that the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government kept the company uninformed for almost a year and a half about the details of its legislation set to greenlight poker machines at the Canberra Casino.

Jessica Mellor, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Aquis, released a statement to the stock exchange, following the Government’s decision to provide the company with a month-long period to confirm its further plans for the Canberra Casino. As Casino News Daily reported, the casino owner was given until May 14th to submit a final proposal for the redevelopment of Canberra Casino.

The first bid made by Hong Kong mogul Tony Fung majority-owned Aquis in 2015 amounted to A$330 million, with the company seeking permission to operate 500 poker machines on local premises. The negotiations, however, failed to reach a compromise for several years, fueling the uncertainty about the redevelopment project’s fate. Then, in 2017 an agreement was reached between the Australian Greens and the Labor Party, under which legislation could allow up to 200 pokies in the redeveloped Canberra Casino. Moreover, 60 electronic table games could also be added to the casino offerings under certain regulatory rules.

A few months after the legislation was officially rolled out, Aquis Entertainment was given some time to make an update on its unsolicited bid in a month. Gordon Ramsay, Attorney General, commented on the matter at the time when the announcement was made, saying that the casino expansion was important part of the Government’s plans to reduce the poker machines in the Australian Capital Territory from about 5,000 to 4,000 over the next couple of years.

Aquis Would Have to Consider the Redevelopment Again

As mentioned above, the Chief Executive Officer of Aquis claimed that the company did not get a response from the Government detailing it about the legislation update for 17 months after the case was lodged in June 2016.

Still, Ms. Mellor pledged that the Canberra Casino owner is to respond to the Government’s request within the timeframe provided, but she explained that the company would have to undertake a thorough consideration on the matter in order to assess the potential impact of such a step under stricter regulatory rules. Aquis’ CEO further shared that the company remains willing to develop an integrated resort in Canberra and said it would work in collaboration with the Government in order to achieve its goals.

In case that Aquis Entertainment goes on with its bid to add 200 pokies as part of Canberra Casino redevelopment, it would be forced to operate under stricter regulatory rules. The company would have to purchase 300 poker machine operating licenses, despite the fact it would lose 100 of them. Also, a maximum bet limit of A$2 is to be allowed at the poker machines.

The post Canberra Casino Owners Claim ACT Government Kept Quiet about Pokies Legislation Changes appeared first on Casino News Daily.

Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Women get more representation in Wynn Resorts board shakeup

Las Vegas-based casino operator Wynn Resorts is giving women more opportunity to be heard in the company in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal involving its founder and former CEO Steve Wynn.

Women get more representation in Wynn Resorts board shakeupThe Nasdaq-listed firm announced that that it has expanded the composition of its board to 11 members in order to appoint three “highly-qualified” women as independent directors.

Wynn Resorts said the appointments of Betsy Atkins, Dee Dee Myers and Wendy Webb signifies “a turning point” for the casino operator, which is still reeling from the scandal tied to its former leader. The announcement comes a day after Elaine Wynn, currently Wynn Resorts’ largest single shareholder, requested an overhaul of the entire board to “fully restore” the company’s reputation.

The appointment of Atkins, Myers, and Webb makes Wynn’s board 36 percent female, catapulting the casino operator into the top 40 S&P 500 companies in terms of female board representation.

Wynn chairman D. Boone Wayson said the company intends to add a few more new directors in the coming months.

“To be clear, this is the first step in our effort to refresh the board,” Wayson said in a statement.

Atkins, author of Behind Boardroom Doors: Lessons of a Corporate Director, is recognized as an expert in corporate governance and digital transformation, consumer experience and technology.

Meanwhile, Myers is known in the political circle as the ex-spokesman of former U.S. President Bill Clinton and the first woman to serve as the White House press secretary. She is currently the executive vice president for Worldwide Corporate Communications and Public Affairs at Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Finally, Webb is currently a director of ABM Industries, where she serves on the Audit Committee and Strategy and Risk Committee, and is on the board of 9 Spokes, a software company.

Aside from the appointments of the three women, Wynn Resorts noted significant actions to improve the workplace environment in response to the allegations regarding its former CEO. The company said it created a new department focusing on gender equality, diversity, fair treatment and female leadership and launched new employee benefits, such as paid parental leave.

Steve Wynn has sold his stock in the company, including 8 million shares to two long-term institutional investors, as part of the casino operator’s sweeping reforms.

The post Women get more representation in Wynn Resorts board shakeup appeared first on CalvinAyre.com.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Florida, Seminoles reach deal to extend casino revenue sharing

florida-seminoles-extend-casino-revenue-sharingFlorida’s state government has reached a new gaming deal with the Seminole Tribe, but a special legislative session on gaming issues appears to still be in the works.

On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced that the state had extended its casino revenue sharing agreement with the Seminoles through May 2019. The agreement, which was signed in 2017, calls for the tribe to provide the state with around $300m per year in exchange for exclusive rights to certain gaming products.

Scott said the agreement “ensures the Tribe’s current commitment remains intact” but Scott stressed that Wednesday’s deal “does not make any changes to state gaming law or expand current gaming operations in Florida in any way.”

The 2017 agreement was itself a stopgap deal due to the inability of state legislators to approve a new gaming compact with the tribe, which operates the Hard Rock International family of casinos. Gov. Scott and the tribe agreed on a new gaming compact in 2015 but it was never ratified by the legislature, where competing factions have prevented forward progress on pretty much any subject related to gaming.

Florida has been wrestling with whether to allow the state’s cardrooms to continue to offer so-called designated player games, which the Seminoles maintain violate their exclusivity over house-banked card games. Also up for grabs is whether to authorize slot machines at certain racetracks and jai-alai frontons.

The state’s latest gaming expansion effort came up short in March but legislators have been pressing for a special legislative session to address unresolved issues. Legislators are keenly aware that the state’s voters will face a ballot question this November that proposes amending the state constitution to make future gambling expansion plans subject to securing the approval of 60% of registered voters.

Following Wednesday’s deal announcement, Florida Politics’ Jim Rosica quoted a source who claimed leaders in both the state Senate and House were “fully engaged” in ensuring legislators get one last crack at approving gaming expansion before the November ballot.

Speaking of, the division of Walt Disney Corporation that has been financially supporting a ‘yes’ vote in November continues to put its money where it’s mouth is. Financial disclosure forms filed by the Voters in Charge political action committee showed Disney Worldwide Services Inc contributed $4.7m to the cause, representing roughly 70% of the group’s total financing.

Disney has been funding anti-gambling expansion campaigns in Florida for years, based on its apparent belief that commercial casinos would taint its family-friendly DisneyWorld theme park in Orlando. To be fair, it isn’t just Florida where Disney has an anti-gambling bent. The company has also forced slot machine developers to scrap titles based on Disney’s intellectual property.

The post Florida, Seminoles reach deal to extend casino revenue sharing appeared first on CalvinAyre.com.