Taking Wagers on Sports Betting & Online Gambling

– Joe Rosenbaum

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 prohibits most states from authorizing sports betting (the law grandfathered a few states, such as Nevada) and New Jersey has been fighting to convince the Federal government to allow the State to legalize and license sports betting.  The latest attempt to circumvent the Act was the repeal of New Jersey’s own sports betting prohibitions at racetracks and casinos.  That effort was derailed by a series of court decisions, culminating in a 9-3 en banc decision of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which then led to the State of New Jersey petitioning the Supreme Court of the United States.

Last month, the Supreme Court refused to deny New Jersey’s challenge to the Federal ban (see, Christopher J. Christie, Governor of New Jersey, et al, Petitioners v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, et al; and New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Inc., Petitioner v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, et al) and left the door open to grant certiorari in the case if the Office of the Solicitor General (which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice) argues the case raises serious issues and questions of Federal law. They could, if they so choose, seek to revisit the long-standing position of the DOJ holding sports betting illegal.  To some extent, with the new administration of President Trump in place, many see this as an opportunity to do just that, since many of you may remember that as owner of casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, then businessman Donald Trump was a proponent of the legalization of sports betting.

Clearly, as States look to generate other sources of tax revenue, many view this as an opportunity to increase revenues and regulate an activity that has long been associated with organized crime. Indeed, the American Gaming Association estimated well over $4 billion in bets were placed on the Super Bowl last Sunday, virtually all of it, illegally. President Trump has consistently said he is in favor of eliminating or reducing legislation and regulation that restricts what States may or may not do and that encumber businesses needlessly beyond necessary Federal oversight. This may well fit right into that category, although there have been no comments as yet from the Administration.

Former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, just confirmed last night as Attorney General of the United States, has voiced opposition to any expansion of online gambling in the past, although when questioned during Senate hearings, did indicate he was willing to take another look at how and to what extent online gaming is being enforced by the Federal government.  There is also the possibility that in deciding to allow sports betting and an expansion of online gaming generally, the Federal government may choose to adopt some form of federally regulated or licensed betting and gambling scheme. While the path ahead is far from certain and opposition remains, some things do seem clear: attitudes are changing, the present administration is not averse to controversial new ideas, is favorably disposed to the elimination of any unnecessary Federal regulation that stands in the way of creating jobs and stimulating the economy and, notably, is likely to welcome finding an opportunity to enable States to find ways to increase tax revenue – and taxing so-called ‘sin’ industries may not be such an objectionable idea.

Stay tuned and, of course, if you have any questions, want further information or need help, don’t hesitate to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or any of the attorneys you regularly work with at Rimon.

Thought Leadership

Thought leadership is a state of being in which one or more individuals articulate innovative ideas – ideas that stimulate thought and are futuristic or leading-edge.

Thought leadership requires confidence and a willingness to share ideas in the form of insights and principles that inform and guide future considerations.

Thought leadership is often controversial. New or different ideas, like innovative technology, can cause evolutionary change, but can also create disruptive or revolutionary change.

Although not all thought leadership must be actionable, it is often the basis for a re-evaluation of existing pathways, and a guidepost for new roads ahead.

New Jersey Casinos Permitted to Offer Mobile Gambling on Premises

In a press release dated October 9, 2012, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, Division of Gaming Enforcement, unveiled new temporary regulations applicable to mobile gaming in Atlantic City casinos. Procedurally, these regulations will remain in effect as of October 8 for 270 days, while the Division of Gaming Enforcement hopes to publish final regulations within 60 days.

With a focus on preventing underage gambling and protecting the security of mobile gaming, these new regulations will permit established and licensed casinos to enable mobile gambling on their property – ostensibly in every “recreational” area, but not in parking lots and garages. The regulations require providers of software and other technical means to exploit mobile gambling, to also obtain licenses as gaming-related service providers.

If you want to review the press release and materials, you can go to the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General website, or you can download and read a copy of the new temporary regulations right here N.J.A.C. 13:69O [PDF].

Of course, if you need help or more information, contact me, Joseph I. Rosenbaum (joseph.rosenbaum@rimonlaw.com), or any of the Rimon lawyers with whom you regularly work.

Online Gambling. Time to Change Legal Bytes to Legal Bets?

On December 23, 2011 the U.S. Department of Justice reversed its decade long position on the applicability of the U.S. Wire Act to online gambling that does not involve sports betting. In previous years, prosecutions were brought against any form of online gambling based on their interpretation of the Wire Act. This opinion, reverses the long standing position and may well clear the way for States to become more aggressive in legislatively enabling intra-State online gaming and who knows, perhaps the Federal government will consider licensing and regulation permitted online gambling. This is not simply big news within the United States. Gaming and gambling operators around the world who may already be working with governments on their lottery initiatives and many other companies who have no presence in the United States may now be looking to establish a foothold and ultimately a major presence in the U.S. Similarly, U.S. casino and gaming operators already licensed, may sense the opportunity for foreign investment and the injection of new capital, new expertise and a more global platform.

Rimon and its interdisciplinary team of experienced gaming transactional, e-Commerce, payment, privacy, technology and marketing lawyers have their eye on this new development that has the potential to energize the data-intensive, multi-billion dollar online gambling industry in the U.S. market. Joe Rosenbaum, Ramsey Hanna and Joshua Marker have authored a Client Alert which you can read here:  U.S. Federal Government Reverses its Stance on Online Gaming.

When Online Games, Health & Life Sciences and Crowd Sourcing Combine

This time, the law of unintended consequences is bringing scientists and online gamers together in a crowd sourcing manner hitherto unimaginable.

An article in this month’s edition of the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology has announced (citing both research scientists and online gamers as co-authors of the article) that through a 2008 purpose-oriented video game developed at the University of Washington in 2008 – Foldit – the structure of an enzyme, one used in complicated customizing of retroviruses, was accurately modeled. 

Who cares and how does this affect us? Well, as a former biochemist wannabe, if you can model the structure of these proteins, you can better understand how diseases are caused and correspondingly develop drugs to block or stymie the progress of those diseases.

Amazingly, gamers were able to produce an accurate model of an enzyme whose structure had eluded scientists for a very long time in only three weeks and the report notes, referring specifically to medication against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) for which an understanding and design of antiretroviral drugs is absolutely critical. Seth Cooper, one of the creators of Foldit noted that "Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans. The results in this week’s paper show that gaming, science and computation can be combined to make advances that were not possible before."

If you thought the intellectual property, licensing, user generated content, crowd sourcing, cloud sourcing, social media legal issues were already enough arising from scientific research, online gaming and crowd sourcing alone were enough to make your head spin, conjure up the implications when the term ‘convergence’ is applied to any two or three of these disciplines. Isn’t it time you had legal counsel and representation who can seamlessly help navigate them while your teams are busy solving the health care and medical problems of the world?

If you want to know more about how lawyers who understand can help your business, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or any of the Rimon attorneys with whom you regularly work.

Bots, Gaming and Copyright Law – International Law Office

Brad Newberg, in Rimon’s Virginia office, has authored a brief, insightful analysis of the copyright implications arising from the use of “bots” in gaming. Published in Legal Bytes initially, it has now (January 20, 2011) been published by the Media & Entertainment – USA newsletter of the International Law Office (ILO), written exclusively by Rimon lawyers and edited by Joe Rosenbaum, with the support of ILO.

This is a timely and important note, and you can read it either by using the link Bots in Game Play Questionable Under Copyright Law, or by downloading a personal copy for reading any time here: Copyright – Bots and Game (PDF). Of course, if you have questions or need help or more information, feel fee to contact Brad Newberg directly.

North Carolina Creates Tax Incentive for Digital Media Companies

Interactive digital media developers that are currently located in North Carolina—as well as those contemplating doing business in North Carolina—should evaluate their business activities to take full advantage of the tax benefits of a new North Carolina tax credit for companies developing interactive digital media, including video game companies and developers of online virtual worlds and interactive websites that allow consumers to create and manipulate certain digital goods (i.e., avatars in role-playing scenarios). In particular, digital media developers should consider joint ventures with educational institutions that will allow them to maximize the benefits provided by the North Carolina credit. For more information on North Carolina’s new tax credit for digital media developers, please read our full client alert, “North Carolina Creates New Tax Incentive Opportunity for Digital Media Companies,” written by Rimon attorneys Donald M. Griswold, Michael A. Jacobs, John P. Feldman and Kelley C. Miller.

Anti-Social? I’ll Still Share Our Social Media Presentations

In case you weren’t able to attend any of our three seminars on Social Media, we’ll still let you get a glimpse of what you missed. First, you missed Joe Rosenbaum and Anthony Traymore in San Francisco and Palo Alto, and in Century City (L.A.), where we were joined by Kate O’Brien, where we presented: “Social Media: It’s 10:00 p.m. Do You Know Where Your Brand Is?”

If that alone didn’t make you sad, you also missed all the substantive insights and experiences that were shared, the audio-visual effects, the examples and live experience of our presenters and local hosts, as well as the hospitality of three of Rimon’s West Coast offices.

What you don’t have to miss is a copy (in PDF form) of the presentations – each of which had slight variations. You can see and download each by selecting the live link on each city below.

While the base presentations were much the same in all three places, in San Francisco we focused a bit more on social media in financial services and corporate securities law. In Silicon Valley (Palo Alto), we did a somewhat deeper dive into the implications of social media in online gaming and entertainment, and in Century City, we focused on user-generated content, open-forum platforms and competitive advertising.

While the results are still being tabulated, we do know that a significant number of our clients and guests received continuing legal education credit (CLE) for attending, in addition to a meal – worth the price of free admission anywhere. We haven’t looked at all the evaluations yet either, but no one fell asleep, everyone stayed through the closing credits and a rousing rendition of the Social Media Blues, and many of our attendees stayed for follow-up questions.

We also received a number of inquiries about the possibility of individual companies or groups hosting a Social Media seminar presented by Rimon, and we are happy to do so for yours – we are an accredited CLE provider in most jurisdictions, if that is important to the legal folks – but many have asked about presenting to senior executives, business development, marketing, media and other professionals as well.

Not only can we tailor a seminar to your particular company, your brands and/or your industry, but we have developed, and will continue to develop, modules and focused presentation materials regarding online gaming and virtual worlds; promotions (e.g., sweepstakes, contests, product placements, branded entertainment); advertising and marketing (e.g., testimonials, endorsements, buzz, viral and word-of-mouth); labor and employment; corporate policy, public relations and crisis management; financial services; media and entertainment, including motion pictures and machinima; pharmaceutical, health and life sciences; technology and e-commerce; digital rights management (e.g., user-generated content, hybrid media); privacy, data protection and security; target marketing, location-based and behavioral advertising; regulatory requirements – both government and SRO (e.g., FTC, FCC, CSPC, FDA, PCI compliance, FACTA, GLB, HIPAA); cloud computing, and so much more – and we haven’t even mentioned our international or global experience, expertise or resources in other jurisdictions around the world.

If you are interested, please contact me (Joseph I. Rosenbaum) and we can work with you to help you engage us in your social media conversation with topics that are relevant to you. We will also be updating the research work already released in our Social Media White Paper with some of the materials and further work we continue to do in this area. Stay tuned – social media is not a fad.

Touchdown!

The NFL Players Association was recently ordered to pay $7 million in compensatory damages and $21 million in punitive damages to retired football players who claimed they were excluded from lucrative marketing deals. The class action claimed the “Madden” interactive football games, and deals involving sports card and sponsorships, intentionally scrambled images of retired players to avoid paying royalties. Active players received royalties for their images, but retired players’ images were scrambled. Now normally that might be a key question of fact to be determined by a jury. Unfortunately, there was a smoking gun! Someone at NFLPA wrote to Electronic Arts, publisher of the popular Madden games, explaining that unless they scrambled the retired players’ images, payments would be required. Oops.

Video Games Become a Taxing Subject

Did you know that Louisiana offers a 20 percent tax credit against expenditures for video game developers and certain other interactive digital media companies that are based there? This digital media tax credit is not unique to Louisiana. In 2005, Atlanta began a program of providing tax incentives to digital media, and a number of other places have begun to attract development using tax incentives as well.