Hot copy: Stories that caught our eye this week from around the sector
The X Gambler
BBC News this week reported on a new partnership between safer gambling charity GamCare and Myles Stephenson, a singer known for winning the X Factor in 2017, and now a member of boyband Rak-Su.
Stephenson’s habit started small, he said, but eventually he found himself playing online slots on his way to work each morning, which then “progressed into an addiction”.
Between the ages of 18 and 22, Stephenson would regularly gamble hundreds of pounds a spin, he said, which was “ridiculous” compared to his earnings at that time.
He was subsequently able to “turn his life around,” however, through the use of self-exclusion software and leaning on friends to help him avoid high street bookmakers.
“They’re the things I put in place to get my addiction off gambling and until this day, I haven’t been back inside a bookmaker, and I am still blocked on all gambling websites.”
Stephenson is now partnered with GamCare for a new campaign to help raise awareness of gambling harms and the tools available to help those suffering.
Campaigners for safer gambling and consumer protection will certainly be singing his praises.
Florida sports betting saga continues
The New York Times reported this week that the US Supreme Court has ruled in favour of a Native American tribe in Florida to be able to offer online sports betting throughout the state.
The move is the latest in Florida’s ongoing sports betting saga, which saw a compact signed with the Seminole Tribe of Florida in 2021 stating that anyone physically present in Florida could place mobile bets with its casinos, provided that the servers handling the transactions were situated on tribal land.
Land-based casino operators subsequently sued the federal government, claiming it should have blocked the deal, and found support for their claims from Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of the Federal District Court in Washington.
“When a federal statute authorises an activity only at specific locations,” the judge wrote at the time, “parties may not evade that limitation by ‘deeming’ their activity to occur where it, as a factual matter, does not.”
A unanimous three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals subsequently reversed Judge Friedrich’s decision, however, stating that the key questions in the case were “best left for Florida’s courts to decide.”
Now, the Florida Supreme Court is left with precisely that decision to make, as it sets out to determine the right path among widely differing perspectives on Florida law and the Seminole Tribe’s compact with the state.“If the Florida Supreme Court concludes that the Florida Legislature’s authorisation of the placement of wagers outside Indian lands is not permissible under the Florida Constitution, that would afford applicants the relief they seek,” said US solicitor general Elizabeth Prelogar of the case.
“That pending case provides the appropriate forum to resolve applicants’ claims based on the meaning of state law.”
While this ongoing regulatory battle remains a complex and contentious one, it seems Florida is one step closer to seeing it resolved.
Pinto takes the (NH)L
Reuters reported this week that Shane Pinto, a forward for the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, has been banned from the league for 41 games “for activities relating to sports wagering”.
The NHL pointed out that there was no evidence that the player made any bets on NHL games, leaving some uncertainty around the actual rules he breached.
NHL players are forbidden from betting on their own sport, but are permitted to gamble on others if they choose to do so.
Considered together, the facts suggest Pinto may have made bets on ice hockey games outside the NHL.
The 22-year-old player has not played for Ottawa this season, but had 20 goals and 35 points across 82 games with the team during the 2022-23 season, his first full campaign in the NHL.
“I want to apologise to the National Hockey League, the Ottawa Senators, my teammates, the fans and city of Ottawa and most importantly my family,” Pinto said in a statement.
“I take full responsibility for my actions and look forward to getting back on the ice with my team.”
The Senators added: “Shane is a valued member of our hockey club; an engaging, intelligent young man who made poor decisions that have resulted in a suspension by the National Hockey League. We know he is remorseful for his mistakes.
“While saddened to learn of this issue, the entire organisation remains committed to Shane and will work together to do what is necessary to help provide the support to allow him to address his issues and become a strong contributor to our community.
“When the time is right and with the league’s blessing, we will welcome him back to the organisation and embrace him as one of our own.”
As long as he sticks to the right path, it seems Pinto could be welcomed back onto the ice by this season’s halfway point.