BetMGM's Comments (Part 2)
Real-time information sharing
Regulation: The rules require the operator to share certain information to the Department and sports leagues in real time. (p. 46, 11VAC5-70-230(L)and (M))
Comment: To better reflect the statutory language, we suggest changing the provisions so that information is shared “as soon as is commercially reasonable.”
Review of advertising materials
Regulation: The proposed rules require a permit holder to provide all marketing and promotional materials to the Director in advance of dissemination for review and approval. (p. 46 11VAC5-70-240(A))
Comment: We respectfully note that a requirement for prior review of marketing materials may not reflect standard commercial and marketing practices, especially in a fast-paced industry such as mobile sports betting. In addition, such a requirement also is no longer part of regulatory standards in the casino gaming context. At minimum, we recommend adding a timeframe within which the Director shall review and approve marketing materials prior to dissemination. We suggest a time period no longer than seven days, and the prior review requirement should only apply to new promotions. We request that materials be deemed approved if no response from the Director is received within a given timeframe.
Regulation: Operators are prohibited from advertising in a media outlet (including social media) that appeals primarily to those under the age of 21. (p. 47, 11VAC5-70-240(I))
Comment: We request clarity on what is considered media outlets that “primarily appeal to those under the age of 21.” We recommend that any such guidance not prohibit regulated operators from advertising on popular mainstream online and social media platforms. In our view, prohibiting legal sports books from advertising on such marketing channels would significantly affect their ability to compete with illegal operators that have access to those platforms and do not offer any consumer protections or responsible gaming options.
Regulation: The draft rules prohibit advertisements “with such intensity and frequency that they represent saturation of that medium or become excessive.” (p. 47, 11VAC5-70-240(J))
Comment: We request further clarification on what constitutes saturation of a particular medium for advertising or excessive marketing. We respectfully note that, to be competitive with the illegal market, regulated operators must be allowed to effectively market their products to authorized, adult customers.
Regulation: House rules must be “readily available” to a player. (p. 50, 11VAC5-70-270 (F))
Comment: We request further clarification on what “readily available” means.
Player account funding
Regulation: The draft rules outline permissible funding methods for player accounts. (p. 54, 11VAC5-70-290(G))
Comment: We recommend including bonuses or promotions to the list of permissible funding methods for sports wagering accounts.
Suspension due to negative account balance
Regulation: The draft rules require player account suspension due to a negative account balance. (p. 56, 11VAC5-70-290(R))
Comment: We suggest including an exemption for an accidental negative balance that results from a delay in fund clearance by deposit or market settlements. Such negative balances can easily be remedied and should not trigger account suspension. We also recommend exempting negative balances that are resolved within 24 hours.
Regulation: “Player” or “sports bettor” is defined as an individual physically located in Virginia. (11 VAC 5-80-10)
Comment: We recommend changing the definition to “an individual physically located in an authorized location.” This ensures that Virginia would be able to participate in multi-state sports betting, should federal law legalize such activity. The change would also be consistent with § 58.1-4046 of the sports betting law, which states that “[a]ll sports betting shall be initiated and received within Virginia unless otherwise permitted by federal law.”
Regulation: A permit holder must ensure that only people physically located in Virginia are able to place bets through its platform. (11 VAC 5-80-40)
Comment: We suggest adding the following provision: “unless such bets are legal in the jurisdiction from which they originate, and federal law allows such wagers and the transmission of such wagers or information assisting in the placing of such bets.”
Wagering on Olympic events
Regulation: The term “sports betting” does not include placing a wager on sports events organized by the International Olympic Committee. (11 VAC 5-80-10)
Comment: We recommend changing the language to read “…nor does ‘sports betting’ include placing a wager on sports events organized by the International Olympic Committee that has not been approved by the Director.” We respectfully note that the sports betting law does not appear to prohibit wagering on Olympic games. We suggest authorizing a range of wagering products, as appropriate, in order to provide Virginia consumers a safe and regulated alternative to illegal sites that currently offer bets on the Olympics.
Wagering on "other" events
Regulation: The regulations currently do not allow “other events” wagering.
Comment: Other jurisdictions have also legalized wagering on “other events,” such as the Oscars and other non-sports events that the regulator deems appropriate for wagering. We suggest adopting a similar provision that would authorize such wagering in Virginia.
Regulation: The regulations require a permit holder to develop and prominently publish procedures by which a sports bettor may file a complaint with the permit holder in person, in writing, online, or by other means about any aspect of the sports betting program. (11 VAC 5-80-30(A))
Comment: We suggest deleting procedures for filing a complaint “in person,” given that some mobile operators may not have a retail sports book in Virginia. Alternatively, the regulations may be re-written such that “a sports bettor may file a complaint with the Virginia Lottery."