The largest gaming conference in North America, Global Gaming Expo (G2E), kicked off on Monday. The doors to the showroom floor open this morning, but G2E hosted 30 education sessions on Monday with hundreds of attendees.
Education Is the Name of the Game on Day 1
On Day 1 of G2E, I attended three education sessions.
Session 1: The Ongoing Uncertainty Created by the Latest DOJ Wire Act Opinion
- CJ Fisher, Partner, Fox Rothschild LLP
- Greg Brower, Shareholder, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck
- Dawn Himel, Deputy Director, Gaming Division, Louisiana Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General
- Matthew McGill, Partner, Gibson Dunn
- Kent Young, CEO, Spin Games, LLC.
Matthew McGill, one of the lawyers representing Neopollard in the New Hampshire case says contrary to the popular opinion that the judgment is limited to New Hampshire and the official plaintiffs, Judge Barbadoro’s opinion has a greater reach than that, as it wipes away the 2018 opinion and reinstates the 2011 opinion.
McGill also said the DOJ is “revisiting” the opinion and could issue another opinion. It’s unclear if the hypothetical opinion would be good, or not as bad.
Kent Young of Spin Games believes the 2018 DOJ opinion tamped down online gambling momentum in the US. He went on to say that more operators would be up and running in Pennsylvania without the opinion.
The big takeaway that the panelists seemed to agree on was that even if they win, will the department have the appetite to enforce the Wire Act opinion on state-licensed gaming operators and suppliers.
Session 2: Sports Integrity from the Regulatory Point of View
- George Rover, Managing Partner, Princeton Global Strategies
- Christopher Hebert, Director, Gaming Division, Louisiana Department of Justice/Attorney General’s Office
- Jay McDaniel, Deputy Director, Mississippi Gaming Commission
- Sandra Douglass Morgan, Chairwoman, Nevada Gaming Control Board
- David Rebuck, Director, New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement
George Rover moderated panels tend to have more straight talk than most, and this session didn’t disappoint.
The panelists (all gaming regulators) spoke at length about the role of the regulator and the importance of working together. That includes working with all stakeholders.
As David Rebuck said, integrity must come from everyone who profits from sports betting, not just operators. Media and others need to play a role.
And what would a sports betting integrity discussion be without the leagues? Jay McDaniel offered a way for leagues to help, telling the attendees that if the leagues are investigating a ref, player, or game, they can confidentially let regulators know, so the regulators can also monitor activity around the person or event.
There was also a lot of praise for Rover’s organization SWIMA, a first-of-its-kind national integrity monitoring service that sends real-time integrity monitoring alerts to all members. According to Rebuck, all licensed sportsbooks in the state are required to be a part of a national integrity monitoring service.
Session 3: Moot Court: Mobile or Not?
- Wes Ehrecke, President & CEO, Iowa Gaming Association
- Becky Harris, Distinguished Fellow, Gaming & Leadership, UNLV
- Gavin Isaacs, Chairman, SBTech
- Skylar Arakawa-Phampilon, Law Student, UNLV
- Jerrell Berrios, Law Student, UNLV
- Gregory Cloward, President, Gaming Law Society, UNLV
- Christian Ogata, Law Student, UNLV
Moot Court was the most interesting format on the G2E calendar. Four UNLV Law students had an opportunity to “argue” four different points of view in front of a three “judge” panel.
Two students argued for and against legal online gambling, and two other students made a case for in-person registration and mobile registration respectively.
My only comment on the session is this format should be used more often, but not overused. The questions the students faced were both pointed and unscripted. Both of which are often lacking at gaming conferences.
Behind the Scenes News and Notes
Conversations at G2E are as wide-ranging as the education session topics. However, there is typically one overarching theme that works its way into every session. A few years back, it was social gaming. In other recent years, it was millennials, skill-based games, and esports.
This year the theme seems to be an old familiar friend: Online gambling. Online gambling, be it sports betting or casino games, was in a lot of session descriptions, and it was brought up at every conceivable opportunity by panelists in the sessions I attended, as well as in the hallways.
A secondary theme was a welcome surprise to hear discussed was responsible gaming and problem gambling.
And finally, there was also a lot of chatter about how successful the ongoing efforts of the host casino to prohibit or stall online expansion will be. In virtually every instance the topic of the 2018 Wire Act opinion was broached, there was always a not so subtle reference to the building we were in, and that company’s efforts to derail online gambling in the US.