Author Archive: Brian Sanchez

Sports betting isn’t legal, but firms are jockeying now

Atlantic City, N.J. — Some of the leading gambling technology companies expect the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize sports betting nationwide, and are jockeying for position months before a decision is even rendered.

NYX Gaming is suing London-based William Hill over the proposed acquisition of NYX by Las Vegas-based Scientific Games. William Hill, which owns stock in NYX, is threatening to use its voting shares to block the acquisition unless it receives certain assurances from Scientific Games about what the newly merged company will and won’t be able to do.

In its lawsuit, NYX terms those requests “extortionate” and anti-competitive. William Hill calls them “perfectly reasonable.”

The maneuvering takes place as the Supreme Court prepares to hear a case brought by New Jersey that seeks to legalize sports betting. Federal law now forbids sports gambling in all but four states: Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon.

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Sports betting isn’t legal nationwide, but firms are jockeying already

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Some gambling technology companies expect the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize sports betting and are jockeying for position in the new industry months before a decision is even rendered.

A lawsuit filed Thursday in Atlantic City shines some light on the scramble. NYX Gaming Group Ltd., a company based on the British island of Guernsey, is suing London-based William Hill PLC over Las Vegas-based Scientific Games Corp.’s proposed acquisition of NYX.

William Hill owns stock in NYX and is threatening to use its voting shares to block the acquisition unless it receives certain assurances from Scientific Games about what the newly merged company will and won’t be able to do.

NYX, a leading provider of gambling software, terms those requests “extortionate” and anti-competitive, according to its lawsuit. They include demands that Scientific Games not compete with William Hill, and that it hand over source code for some NYX products.

William Hill says its actions are “perfectly reasonable.” Scientific Games did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The maneuvering takes place as the nation’s highest court prepares to hear a case brought by New Jersey that seeks to legalize sports betting. The state is taking aim at a 1992 law that forbids state-authorized sports gambling in all but four states that met a 1991 deadline to legalize it: Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon. Nevada is the only state to allow single-game wagering.

“Many in the industry think it is only a matter of time before sports betting is opened up one way or another,” said David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. “With that mindset, it is important to establish a position now, as states and operators will be choosing partners quickly.

“For the past 30 years, gaming companies have been driven by the promises of expansion,” he said. “In the past that meant more states opening themselves up to casino gaming, but the final frontier may be sports betting.”

On Sept. 20, NYX announced it would be acquired by Scientific Games, which makes a variety of products for lotteries and casinos.

But William Hill is threatening to block the deal.

“William Hill has made clear to (Scientific Games) and NYX that it fears competition in the marketplace,” NYX wrote in its lawsuit. “William Hill has expressed its view that the U.S. sports betting market is a ‘two-horse race’ between William Hill and NYX, and that as of now, William Hill has control over NYX.”

William Hill spokesman Ciaran O’Brien said the company is defending the rights of its shareholders.

“Aggressive litigious activity is a hallmark” of mergers and acquisitions in the U.S., he said. “But it will not deter William Hill from seeking perfectly reasonable assurances about joint projects with NYX.”

Asked about the industry’s desire to line up market share ahead of a high court ruling on sports betting, O’Brien said: “This may give a clue as to the aggressive litigation being aimed at William Hill.”

Schwartz predicted other companies likely to seek a share of a U.S. sports betting market include CG Technology; the South Point Race Book; and Boyd Gaming, all based in Las Vegas. He also predicted some startup firms headed by gambling industry veterans will emerge.

In a report last month, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming LLC, which tracks state-by-state gambling legislation, predicted legal sports betting could be offered in 32 states within five years if the Supreme Court rules in favor of New Jersey.

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Sports Βetting Ιsn’t legal, Βut Firms Are Jockeying Already

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Some of the leading gambling technology companies expect the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize sports betting nationwide, and are jockeying for position months before a decision is even rendered.

NYX Gaming is suing London-based William Hill over the proposed acquisition of NYX by Las Vegas-based Scientific Games. William Hill, which owns stock in NYX, is threatening to use its voting shares to block the acquisition unless it receives certain assurances from Scientific Games about what the newly merged company will and won’t be able to do.

In its lawsuit, NYX terms those requests “extortionate” and anti-competitive. William Hill calls them “perfectly reasonable.”

The maneuvering takes place as the Supreme Court prepares to hear a case brought by New Jersey that seeks to legalize sports betting. Federal law now forbids sports gambling in all but four states: Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon.


WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press

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Sports betting isn’t legal, but firms are jockeying already

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Some gambling technology companies expect the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize sports betting and are jockeying for position in the new industry months before a decision is even rendered.

A lawsuit filed Thursday in Atlantic City shines some light on the scramble. NYX Gaming Group Ltd., a company based on the British island of Guernsey, is suing London-based William Hill PLC over Las Vegas-based Scientific Games Corp.’s proposed acquisition of NYX.

William Hill owns stock in NYX and is threatening to use its voting shares to block the acquisition unless it receives certain assurances from Scientific Games about what the newly merged company will and won’t be able to do.

NYX, a leading provider of gambling software, terms those requests “extortionate” and anti-competitive, according to its lawsuit. They include demands that Scientific Games not compete with William Hill, and that it hand over source code for some NYX products.

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Schwartz predicted other companies likely to seek a share of a U.S. sports betting market include CG Technology; the South Point Race Book; and Boyd Gaming, all based in Las Vegas. He also predicted some startup firms headed by gambling industry veterans will emerge.

In a report last month, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming LLC, which tracks state-by-state gambling legislation, predicted legal sports betting could be offered in 32 states within five years if the Supreme Court rules in favor of New Jersey.

___

Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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The UK’s top law firms are relying on FX movements to boost growth figures

The UK’s largest global law firms have generated significant amounts of growth in 2017 not through innovation or new business, but through foreign exchange movements, according to a PwC survey.

Currency movements resulting from a weaker sterling caused a 4.9 per cent growth in fee income for the UK’s global top 10 firms, PwC’s 2017 law firms survey showed, compared to an 8.1 per cent growth in fee income overall.

Read more: Top law firms feel the heat as clients are delaying payment by an average of 130 days

Similarly, fluctuating foreign exchange rates caused a 4.4 per cent growth in profit, compared to a 9.8 per cent growth in profit overall.

This meant currency movements alone increased law firms’ revenues by £43.7m and profit by £16.2m.

But PwC has warned that relying on foreign exchange fluctuations will not be enough to ensure survival in an increasingly competitive market, and that “global law firms will need to make fundamental changes if they are to thrive in the future”.

“Having taken this one-off income and profit boost, it will be interesting to see the real commercial impact of Brexit on law firms start to play out in the current financial year,” said Kate Wolstenholme, PwC’s business services leader.

Read more: The UK’s law firms are seeing revenues plateau as they struggle to keep up with client expectations

“Undoubtedly some firms will enjoy a rise in revenue from providing regulatory advice to clients – but economic uncertainty means workflow is unpredictable, and there is also a cost of scenario planning to ensure firms remain fit for purpose for a post-Brexit environment.”

PwC’s survey also revealed that the international offices of UK global top 10 firms delivered around twice as much profit growth as in the UK, and that US top-tier firms are outperforming their UK peers across all key performance indicators.

Read more: Law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner in talks to merge with US’s Bryan Cave

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Print and law firms make LIVES charity calendar for 2018

Sleaford firms Ringrose Law and DPS have produced a charity calendar in aid of life-saving charity, LIVES.

Proceeds will be going towards training and equipping volunteer responders throughout Lincolnshire.

Ringrose Law invited members of the public to take their camera and explore Lincolnshire scenery, wildlife and architecture, and the 2018 calendar showcases the best images from the Love Your Lincolnshire Photo Competition.

Alex Bennett, Marketing Manager at Ringrose Law; “Thanks to everyone who entered and a big congratulations to all of the winners.”

Chris Strawson at print firm DPS, which put the calendar together, said: “This isn’t the first project that we’ve worked on that has involved LIVES, so we are well aware of what a great job they do, let’s hope that lots of calendars are sold are we can raise more vital funds for this fantastic local charity.”

The calendars can be purchased from any Ringrose Law office, including Sleaford, online at lives.org.uk or at many Christmas markets.

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Lagos to shut tax defaulting firms

Tax defaulting firms are to be shut down by the Lagos State Government from today Commissioner for Finance Akinyemi Ashade, said yesterday.

He said some banks had failed to remit statutory taxes, including withholding taxes on banks’ interests for more than 10 years.

Ashade said the government had resolved to resort to all lawful means to ensure compliance with statutory tax remittances.

“Any company found to have evaded tax will not be spared.

“It is in the interest of defaulting companies and their management to remit the statutory taxes to the state within the grace period to avoid embarrassment to them and their shareholders.

“All law abiding corporate organisations are advised to adhere to this directive as the state government has given enough grace period for them to remit their taxes.

“The government will on Monday, November 20, commence the process of shutting down the headquarters of corporate organisations, including banks that have failed to remit statutory taxes to government coffers,’’ Ashade said in a statement.

He said prompt payment of taxes would enable the government to provide the necessary infrastructure and improve the standard of living of the people.

“When people pay their taxes promptly, government is encouraged to do more. The administration of Akinwunmi Ambode has shown in the last two and half years that taxes paid are judiciously spent on projects that have impacted positively on the lives of residents,’’ the statement said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the government had on November 7, lamented that only about 600,000 residents out of a population of over 22 million were up to date in terms of tax compliance.

The government, therefore, directed all its revenue agencies to ensure prompt payment of taxes, including land use charges and also commence enforcement of payment by all tax defaulters with immediate effect.


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Tax evasion: Lagos threatens to shut banks, firms

The Lagos State Government yesterday threatened to commence shutting down the corporate headquarters of banks and other firms who have failed to remit statutory taxes. The state government accused some banks of withholding taxes on bank interest for more than 10 years. The government, which said it would begin the closure of such bank headquarters from Monday, November 20, also warned that any company found to have evaded tax would not be spared. It added that it is in the interest of defaulting companies and their management to remit the statutory taxes to the state within the grace period to avoid embarrassment to them and their shareholders.

The government, in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade, said that government would not hesitate to resort to all lawful means to ensure compliance with statutory tax remittances. Ashade said: “All law abiding corporate organisations are advised to adhere to this directive as the state government has given enough grace period for them to remit their taxes.

The government will, on Monday, November 20, commence the process of shutting down the headquarters of corporate organisations, including banks that have failed to remit statutory taxes to government coffers. It is in the interest of companies who are yet to remit their taxes to do so, on or before Monday. “Prompt payment of tax will enable the government to provide the necessary infrastructure and improve the standard of living of the people. When people pay their taxes promptly, government is encouraged to do more.

The administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has shown in the last two and half years that taxes paid are judiciously spent on projects that have impacted positively on the lives of Lagos citizens.” It would be recalled that the state government had, last week, directed all its revenue agencies to ensure prompt payment of taxes including land use charges and also commence enforcement of payment by all tax defaulters with immediate effect.

The government had lamented that many residents were not fulfilling their civic obligation of paying their taxes and that the prevailing situation would adversely affect government’s infrastructural renewal drive currently ongoing across the state, thus necessitating the decision to go all out to recover unremitted taxes.


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Gordon Campbell on the TPP outcome, and the Hobbit law

Gordon Campbell on the TPP outcome, and the
Hobbit law

First
published on Werewolf

tpp-hobbit-biggerWhen even Justin Trudeau
seems willing to abandon you by the wayside, you know
you’re in trouble. Yet somehow the Trans Pacific
Partnership trade deal has come lurching back from the dead
– and as predicted in this column last week, the member
countries gathered in Vietnam have announced a deal in broad
principle, shunted aside until a later date the stuff on
which they don’t agree, and declared victory.

The
actual conclusion is still months away, at the earliest. In
the coming weeks, the full content of the changes agreed in
Da Nang will emerge – and crucially, so will the timetable
for the ratification, signing process and implementation
period that’s now envisaged. Will our Parliament get an
opportunity to ratify this new deal before – or only after
– it is signed? Will this new version go ‘live’ once
we sign it, or will its terms be activated only after the
last country involved ratifies the deal and turns on the
lights? (According to some reports the deal goes ‘live’
once any six members have ratified it.)

Additionally, and
even after the still-problematic bits have been ironed out,
what is the run-in time envisaged before the new version take
effect? Reportedly, some 20 clauses in the original deal
(eleven of them affecting intellectual property rights) have
been “frozen” until such time as the US may re-enter the
deal. Given Donald Trump’s current attitude, this will
have to be under a different President.

If and when that
happens, will the US have to re-negotiate the re-activation
of those 20 frozen clauses? Or will they kick in
automatically once Congress has ratified the re-entry?
(Note: the ‘fast track’ presidential authority won by
Barack Obama to ratify the TPP is up for renewal in 2018,
for another three year term. Given the current mood in
Washington – which is increasingly hostile to fast track
and to multilateral trade deals – every clause of the TPP
may well be exposed to be re-litigation by Congress as early
as 2018, and certainly so by the next US administration in
2021 if the frozen version of the TPP remains in limbo at
that time. In sum, we can safely assume the US are out of
this pact for good. )

So… what have been the main
changes between the TPP deal that the Key/English government
bequeathed to the Ardern administration, and what we’re
now facing.

Foreign-owned housing.
Despite the previous government claiming for years that it
couldn’t be done, the new government has – within a
fortnight – found a mechanism within our domestic
legislation ( its in the Overseas Investment Act) to ban
foreigners from buying existing homes here. That’s good.
We were lied to, previously.

Investor State
Dispute Settlement (ISDS)
These dispute resolution
measures enable firms to sue government for passing laws
that impinge on the real or expected profits from
investment. The goal of removing all trace of ISDS measures
from the TPP deal was always something that late-comers like
PM Jacinda Ardern and Trade Minister David Parker were
unlikely to achieve.

Yet if we couldn’t remove ISDS
measures entirely, what we could do was make it harder for
foreign firms to access them. The Ardern/Parker aim in
Vietnam has been to severely restrict the conditions under
which foreign firms could trigger ISDS measures, and Parker
took at least three different routes to that goal.

Firstly, and as mentioned by Werewolf last week, there
are no ISDS measures within the existing NZ/Australia
investment protocol, and in the Australia /Japan and
Australia/US FTA deals. So the side agreement with Australia
on financial services that Parker has just announced in
Vietnam – whereby ISDS measures won’t apply to 80% of
foreign investment to this country – may be just the status
quo on steroids. To repeat: Australian foreign investment
here was already exempted from ISDS arbitration. Parker also
claims to have in train (but has not yet concluded) similar
bilateral ISDS exemptions with other TPP members.

Other
restrictions on ISDS include: foreign firms that have been
excluded by the Overseas Investment Office from
participating in bids will not, in future, be able to appeal
to ISDS arbitration in order to win inclusion in contract
bids. This is entirely in accord with the final “gain”
made by Parker in Da Nang that puts extra pressure on
aggrieved foreign investors to seek redress in domestic
courts before dashing off to ISDS arbitration panels.
In particular, this will affect any foreign firm with a
government contract here ; they will not enjoy access to
ISDS arbitration, but will have to rely on domestic courts.

As yet is unclear whether access to ISDS measures is
ruled out forever and entirely; or whether these measures
can be triggered only after all domestic legal
avenues have been exhausted. Presumably, these rules will
have to cut both ways. Meaning: New Zealand investors
offshore will similarly need to exhaust local courts in the
countries concerned before they can appeal to ISDS panels.

Moreover, aggrieved investors will not be able to hedge
their bets, and mount access to domestic courts and to ISDS
panels simultaneously. On balance, this development is a
good thing. There was always a tinge of racism in the
assumption that while New Zealand courts are reliably free
from political or monetary influence, those foreign judges
just can’t be trusted.

As mentioned, all the
US-inspired IP changes foisted on the TPP about the terms
and conditions of copyright (and penalty regimes) have now
been frozen. These IP measures would have cost this country
an estimated $50 million a year directly, and would have had
a chilling impact on innovation. Copyright will now revert
to being for the life of the author plus 50 years, and not
for the ‘life plus 70 years’ duration that the likes of
Disney were pressuring the US trade negotiators to deliver.
Also frozen: the requirements on Pharmac to expose its
administrative decisions and procedures to legal challenge
by US pharmaceutical companies.

And in
future….

Looking further ahead, ISDS measures
look like a thing of the past. Even the US wants to dump
them from NAFTA, and they’ve been set aside in the recent
EU/Japan deal, and the EU/Canada deal – because the
parties involved couldn’t agree to include them. As this
column has pointed out several times before, the EU wants to
scrap ISDS arbitration panels, and replace them with a
standing Investment Court that offers more in the way of
judicial independence, plus better rules of evidence,
disclosure and appeal rights. When New Zealand proceeds with
its planned bilateral trade deal with the EU, it will be
asked to scrap ISDS entirely and sign up to the Investment
Court.

That’s the route the Ardern government should be
taking – if it isn’t going to simply insist that foreign
investors will have to rely on our own local courts for
redress, take it or leave it. After all, if firms feel
nervous about that prospect, they always have the option (as
the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer recently said)
of taking out insurance against confiscation.

In sum,
ordinary citizens shouldn’t have to forego rights, pay
penalties and accept restrictions on the ability of the
governments they elect to pass laws, simply in order to give
certainty to investors, here and abroad. The Ardern
government needs to make the case for scrapping ISDS
measures in those terms – and not just try to restrict
their influence and impact.

The Hobbit, The
Sequel

The new government is consulting on how
best to proceed in scrapping the infamous Hobbit law. This
is the 2010 measure that excludes workers in the local film
industry from enjoying the normal rights to collective
bargaining and workplace protections that are available not
only to other New Zealand workers, but to workers in the
film industry overseas. Elsewhere, union representatives and
Hollywood studios regularly sit down to hammer out
collective agreements. Only here is that activity seen to be
demonic.

Presumably, one thing that will see daylight in
this review process will be the legal opinion that former
Attorney-General Chris Finlayson relied upon – and which
the Key/English government subsequently refused to release,
despite any number of OIA requests. This opinion was the
figleaf that the previous government relied on to claim that
collective bargaining with contractors would be illegal
under the Commerce Act. It will be fascinating to see how
robust that argument will prove to have been. Not much.
Otherwise, the previous government wouldn’t have hidden it
from daylight for so long.

Chances are, the revelation of
the contents of the legal opinion will further vindicate the
late CTU leader Helen Kelly. Every other belatedly released
document has. In 2011, Kelly set out the timetable for the
events that triggered the Hobbit
legislation.

The solution to the legal problem cited
by Finlayson was clear enough, and the unions involved had a
Simpson Grierson analysis of the Commerce Act to that
effect. As Kelly argued in 2011:

Whatever form that
agreement took would need clearly to be in line with NZ law.
If performers were to be employed as employees, this could
take the form of a collective employment agreement and if
they were to be employed as independent contractors then the
agreement could be on a minimum standard contract which
would be offered to performers for negotiation.

In
2013, a dump of documents and emails entirely validated the
position Kelly had taken:

These emails show that all
parties to the negotiations were aware that the do not work
notice had been lifted two days before Sir Peter went public
and that the unions and Warners were in the process of
drafting agreed press releases to announce it. The emails
also show the union had agreed to hold its release until
Warners was ready. This is made clear from the email sent by
senior Warners executive, Stephen Carroll on the 18th of
October.

That crucial email can be accessed here.

Basically, the
nub of Kelly’s position was that this dispute had been
resolved – and was known to have been resolved –
before the notorious anti-union marches were incited
around the country. As Kelly concluded :

A small
organisation with limited resources and a vulnerable
workforce, sought to enjoy what other workers in their
industry enjoy worldwide – the international right to
collectively bargain.

A major international
corporation combined with a powerful NZ film company, and an
anti- worker Government, to ensure there would not be union
bargaining in the growing NZ film industry.

In [the
end] a deal was struck without basis and against our
international legal obligations, that removed even the most
basic of work rights from the entire workforce (minimum wage
protections, Holidays Act, protection from unfair
dismissal). The Government and others lied to the people of
New Zealand in an effort to retain the perception of a
crisis in order to gain legitimacy for its actions. It was a
shameful moment in New Zealand’s political
history.

Hopefully, the full details of this
‘shameful’ episode will now emerge. In 2010, we saw a
Supreme Court ruling effectively overturned, our employment
laws gratuitously changed and $30 million extra in subsidies
dished out to a foreign company – and people up and down
the country were lied to by those who knew the dispute had
already been settled, and well before anti-union (and
anti-Australian) sentiment got whipped into a frenzy. In
reality, Hollywood studios deal with collective bargaining
all the time. The deciding factor about a location is the
extent of tax incentives on offer. These incentives and
grants remain for projects like the Avatar sequels
and Mortal Engines alike.

What will need to be
sorted out by the new government are the tax write-off
provisions for “contractors” once they become legally
recognised as “employees.” It will be important to
ensure that these workers are properly compensated for the
costs they currently shoulder as contractors, while and
after they make the transition. That difficulty however,
pales in comparison to the problems inherent in the status
quo – whereby one of our leading digital industries of the
21st century continues to labour under 19th century work
conditions.

Endless Road

Since the
TPP seems an endless road…what better song to celebrate
the lonesome endurance involved than this number from the TV
series Bonanza, sung in a bracingly bromancing
fashion by Pernell Roberts and Hoyt Axton. This “Endless
Road” song was written by Axton’s mother, Moe Boren
Axton, who also wrote Elvis Presley’s smash hit
“Heartbreak Hotel”. Angel Olsen has included a cover of
this song in her recently released album of rarities and
B-sides. Apparently, she came across it while watching
Bonanza re-runs with her mother.

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