Playtech Plc (LON: PTEC) is making a slow return to the regulated US market after losing 40% of value when US legislators dropped the hammer on internet gambling in 2006 with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Online gambling has never been specifically illegal in the United States but lawmakers made payment processing a problem and Playtech along with all other publically traded companies abandoned the market after the law went into effect.
On the heel of news that the software provider has launched live dealer studios in Zurich Switzerland in mid-December, we now learn that Michigan and New Jersey online casinos, operating within their own borders only, will be host to exclusive new Playtech live dealer studios.
Play Gun Lake casino online from Parx Interactive in Michigan will be the home of one of the new studios. The content will also be available online in the regulated New Jersey market through Bet365, according to a report on Market Watch. The obligatory regulatory approval hurdle has yet to be passed.
Once approved in both states, Playtech studios will begin to offer live blackjack, roulette, and baccarat from the studios. Each casino will receive feeds from Playtech’s Quantum Roulette. The game was originally launched in early September 2019.
Plans are in the works to expand the Quantum offering to include other types of games. The Quantum experience is delivered from a highly immersive studio with bleeding-edge sound, visuals, and dealer interaction to provide a truly immersive experience. Visual appeal and innovative gameplay make it a go-to game for many players and it will be a first-of-its-kind experience for the US online market.
Extreme Tech Studios
Playtech’s live casino offering is entertainment-centric and producers use state-of-the-art tech to deliver fantasy mixed with real money gambling. It’s the company’s first venture into the US live casino realm and an obvious step in strategic expansion plans.
Playtech Live Casino CEO, Edo Haitin said: “The launch of the two facilities represents our core strategy of bringing our industry-leading studio standards to the US whilst ensuring that Playtech Live’s most engaging and innovative products and technology are available to new markets and audiences.
“We are humbly grateful for the warm welcome and support our teams have received from the Atlantic City and Southfield communities, and we are looking forward to becoming an integral part of these communities and [to]
contribute our part
While online gambling over the internet has never been specifically illegal, several US Attorneys General have issued differing opinions. The US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA, the Bradley Act) stating that it violated the 10th Amendment (anticommandeering rule). That opened the flood gates to sportsbetting spreading across the country – but it didn’t address the Wire Act of 1961 which, of course, could not have applied to a technology or methods of gambling that did not exist at the time the Act became law.
The Obama Administration’s Justice Department issued an opinion stating that the Wire Act was written for and only applies to sports betting, not online casino gambling like slots or roulette games. And as a federal law, it is only concerned with interstate commerce or communications.
That opinion was enough to launch online casinos and poker sites in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware for starters and other states have followed suit. Oddly enough, none of the states expanded beyond their own borders except for shared liquidity poker pools. Nevada has so far refused to open online casinos even though state law authorizes them. The only missing element is regulation at the state level.
Seeking Clarity in US Market
IGT, now part of the Italian lottery giant formerly known as GTECH/Lottomatica has filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Justice in late November asking for final clarification of the 1961 Wire Act through a declaratory judgment. IGT stated it was a matter of survival for the company to know what to do next with the conflicting opinions of the Bush, Obama, and Trump Departments of Justice. While the Bush DOJ was negative, the Obama DOJ was positive. The Trump DOJ declared online gambling illegal but refused to prosecute the New Hampshire lottery after they won an appeal and continued to route lottery gambling traffic over the internet and outside the state.
As an interesting aside, Playtech acquired the Aristocrat Lotteries in 2014 which served Norway and Italy. Then in October this year, Playtech agreed to be taken over by Aristocrat Leisure Ltd for the sum of US$3.7b. Since the acceptance of the offer, various interlopers have tried to horn in on the deal.
Source: Playtech Launches Michigan, New Jersey Live Casino Facilities, Market Watch, December 24, 2021