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Compliance Updates

NIGC Announces Departure of Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer

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The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) announced the resignation of E. Sequoyah Simermeyer, as the chairman of NIGC, effective Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024.

Simermeyer, confirmed by the U.S. Senate in November 2019, led the Agency through unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic. During this time, the Agency helped set the regulatory conditions for a multi-year, post-pandemic recovery, where Indian gaming gross revenues rose to a record $40.9B last year. Prior to his tenure as chairman, Simermeyer served with NIGC as associate commissioner and director of the Office of Self-Regulation since 2015.

Reflecting on his time at the Agency, Simermeyer said, “I’ve witnessed firsthand how tribes across the Indian gaming industry have pursued economic sustainability through gaming by relying on – and cultivating – the robust regulatory reputation for which Indian gaming is well known, and made better when supported by effective and efficient measures by Indian gaming’s regulators. I’m proud of the integral part this Agency has played in meeting the challenges of an evolving industry, and encouraged that NIGC’s strong cadre of professionals will continue to work hand-in-hand with gaming operations to ensure tribal gaming remains primarily for the benefit of its citizens as the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) mandated 35 years ago.”

From day one, Simermeyer established industry integrity, preparedness, outreach, and Agency accountability as strategic goals for the Agency, leading NIGC through a period of growth and expansion of programs and services available to gaming tribes.

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Under Simermeyer’s leadership, the Agency took steps to grow its capacity to provide outreach, training and technical assistance to gaming tribes, notably formalizing its Environmental Public Health and Safely (EPHS) program to assist tribes with overall operational preparedness, and expanding the Agency’s ability to provide cybersecurity technical assistance as the industry faced emerging threats from cybercrimes, including NIGC’s first Chief Information Security Officer. His “3 for 35” campaign for workforce preparedness, aimed at building regulatory capacity to future-proof tribal gaming, was also an Agency signature outreach effort during his tenure.

NIGC’s efficient and effective approach to regulation was driven by its formalized, collaborative tribal consultation process, where over the past three years, the Agency published eight final rules to keep pace with changing regulatory conditions and industry best practices, while allowing tribes the maximum flexibility allowed under IGRA to pursue efficiencies intended to help operations grow and thrive. To further strengthen its compliance and oversight functions, the Agency also rolled out the “Report a Violation” tool on its website to allow for reporting suspected IGRA violations. NIGC also provided important clarity in the wake of industry-wide questions arising from emerging topics such as significant court decisions on sports betting, the impact of cannabis on licensing and the use of gaming revenue, and the independence of tribal gaming regulatory bodies.

Simermeyer also positioned the Agency as a lead collaborator with federal agencies and organizations similarly dedicated to the success of tribal gaming. NIGC’s annual multiagency Cybersecurity Symposium, Anti-Money Laundering/Banking Security Act (Title 31) regulatory training conference and ongoing partnership with the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign to prevent human trafficking, are all examples. He also led the Agency to pursue memoranda of understanding with federal agencies like the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, to promote a shared interest in researching the impacts of lending to tribes engaged in gaming and facilitating tribal access to capital.

Focusing on Agency operations, Simermeyer led the Agency through a multi-year IT security modernization plan to improve NIGC’s internal cybersecurity and resilience. Additionally, he transformed the Agency’s Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) Audit program to better align with FBI requirements. As another step towards transparency and accountability, the Agency reimagined its fiscal annual report to better tell the story of its commitment to preserve and protect Indian gaming under IGRA, and the stories of the employees behind it. Perhaps most important, under Simermeyer’s leadership, the Agency achieved a 91% employee satisfaction rating on the 2023 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), making the NIGC one of the best places to work in the federal government.

On transitioning to the next stage of his career, Simermeyer is grateful for his nearly nine years with the Agency. “My time with NIGC has been some of the most memorable and impactful years of my career. As a Native person, I’m truly blessed to have been surrounded by experts dedicated to protecting and preserving the valuable resource Indian gaming represents for our communities. I’m thankful for the advice and counsel of my fellow commissioners and NIGC staff, and the support and hard work of the nearly 5,000 tribal regulators who work alongside NIGC day-in and day-out to keep Indian gaming strong now, and for the next 35 years,” said Simermeyer.

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Additional details regarding the transition will be forthcoming.

Bradley Khoury

eCOGRA Authorized to Offer Certification Services in Brazil

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eCOGRA, the Internationally renowned Independent Testing Laboratory, has been officially authorized by the Secretaria De Prêmios e Apostas (SPA) to operate as a certifying entity for betting systems, live gaming studios, and online games in Brazil. This announcement marks a significant milestone as eCOGRA continues to extend its international offering of iGaming testing, inspection, and certification (TIC) services in regulated markets across the globe.

The announcement comes two months to the day after eCOGRA received approval to operate as a Certification Laboratory in Peru. The organization now operates in 39 online gambling jurisdictions, including Buenos Aires City and Province, Peru, Mendoza, Colombia, and Brazil in South America.

Since its establishment in 2003, eCOGRA has been at the forefront of online gambling certification, providing assurance on fairness and safety to players while offering the highest standards in TIC services to industry operators and software providers seeking to comply with regulatory requirements. The approval to operate in Brazil reflects both the trust eCOGRA has built in the international iGaming community and the quality of its certification services.

Bradley Khoury, Chief Technical Officer of eCOGRA, said: “We are thrilled to bring over two decades of expertise in online gambling certification to the vibrant market of Brazil. This approval from the Secretaria De Prêmios e Apostas (SPA) of the Brazilian Ministry of Finance is not only a testament to our unwavering commitment to the highest standards of competence and quality but also marks an exciting new chapter for eCOGRA. We look forward to working closely with Brazilian operators and interested parties to ensure a safe and fair gaming environment for all players.”

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The new Brazilian regulatory framework aims to effectively safeguard player interests and enhance the integrity of online gambling operations within the country.

“Brazil offers a dynamic and rapidly growing market, and we are excited to contribute to its development. Our goal is to ensure that Brazilian players have access to certified iGaming experiences, akin to what has successfully been implemented in other highly regulated jurisdictions,” Khoury added.

Operators and software developers offering in the federal Brazilian jurisdiction seeking to comply with the laws and regulations by undergoing testing, inspection, and certification can now turn to eCOGRA for their renowned services, assured of their commitment to quality, impartiality, and fairness.

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Compliance Updates

IGT and Acres to Resolve All Pending Litigation

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International Game Technology (IGT) and Acres 4.0, Acres Manufacturing Company, and John Acres (Acres) announced that effective April 12, 2024, they have reached an agreement to resolve all legal disputes between the two companies. Terms of the settlement have not been announced.

The resolution was reached in the US District Court of Nevada, directed to US patents that pertain to facilitating use of a financial transaction device in a cashless wagering system in a gaming system, and Nevada State Court directed to a breach of contract claims.

“IGT is pleased to reach a mutual agreement with Acres that resolves all disputes between us. This allows us to dedicate our collective resources where they are better served, driving continued innovation in the exciting and evolving cashless gaming space,” said Nick Khin, IGT COO Gaming.

“We are thrilled to put this matter behind us and work cooperatively with IGT to build exciting new gambling experiences that can increase both player enjoyment and casino profits,” John Acres, CEO of Acres, said.

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Australia

VGCCC Fines BlueBet AU$50,000 for Gambling Advertising Breaches

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BlueBet has been fined AU$50,000 by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) for breaching gambling advertising regulations.

The company was found guilty of 43 charges related to displaying gambling advertisements on or above public roads, contravening the Gambling Regulation Act 2003.

The charges stemmed from an investigation initiated by VGCCC, following a complaint from a member of the public. The breaches occurred over a two-week period in August and September 2022, with BlueBet’s gambling advertisements appearing on digital billboards at various locations, including Point Cook, Laverton, Rockbank and Ravenhall.

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Magistrate Greg Thomas, overseeing the case, expressed scepticism about BlueBet’s defence that it was unaware of the breaches, given the strategic placement of the billboards to target males aged 15-54 years old. While no conviction was recorded, Magistrate Thomas noted the high degree of negligence exhibited by BlueBet.

VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt AM said: “Gambling advertising has no place on public roads where it is readily visible to children and other vulnerable groups. These places are especially difficult to avoid as part of day-to-day activities. This decision sends a clear message to wagering providers that flout these protections for our community.”

Although Magistrate Thomas considered imposing a higher fine and recording a conviction, he took into account BlueBet’s guilty plea, cooperation with VGCCC and measures taken to prevent future breaches. BlueBet has implemented changes to prevent similar incidents and has cooperated with VGCCC throughout the process.

The post VGCCC Fines BlueBet AU$50,000 for Gambling Advertising Breaches appeared first on European Gaming Industry News.

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