Do not skirt Florida law to grow gambling county by county: Where we stand
Supporters for expanded gambling in Florida have actually had their efforts warded off in the Legislature in the last few years. Now, they've pinned their hopes on a new place, where there are less individuals to win over: the state's greatest court.
This week Florida's seven Supreme Court justices heard arguments for and against enabling slot machines at a small horse track in Gadsden County. If a minimum of 4 justice’s rule in favor of Gretna Racing, the choice might clear the method for slots to sprout, without legislative action, in a minimum of five other counties, consisting of Brevard.
If justices heed the state law at problem, and listen to legislators who passed it, they'll rightly reject the track's bid and block this big-time, back-door expansion of gambling.
Presently, Florida permits slots at state-licensed off-tracks betting horse and pet dog tracks, and jai-alai frontons in only two counties, Miami-Dade and Broward. That authorization came from a 2004 constitutional change approved statewide by voters, followed by the passage of regional referendums to allow slots in both counties.
Because of a federal law, slot machines also are permitted at 7 gambling establishments owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. But the 2010 gambling compact in between the Seminoles and the state gave the tribe exclusive rights to operate slots beyond gaming houses in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
A lawyer and part-owner of the Gretna track argued before justices that a state law the Legislature passed in 2009 to broaden slot machines to another track in Miami-Dade likewise provided other counties consent to hold their own mandates to permit slots at local gaming houses. Gadsden County voters licensed slots in a 2012 referendum. Voters in 5 other counties have actually green-lighted slots in similar referendums.
Lawyers representing the state refuted that analysis of the 2009 law. They said it enables slots in other counties only if first authorized by the Legislature or another constitutional modification.
Their analysis was supported in no unsure terms by state Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican and lawyer who was the point male on gambling policy in the Florida House when the 2009 law was drafted and passed. "It was not the intent of the Legislature to unlock for counties to hold their own mandates to permit the expansion of slots," he told The Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau.
And because the Seminole compact stated that their gambling establishments would not deal with competitors from slot machines beyond Miami-Dade and Broward counties, Florida receives about $120 million a year in revenue-sharing payments from the tribe. Those payments would disappear if a wave of added counties permitted slots.
While we are normally understanding to the principle of home rule for local governments, gambling is one of the policy locations where we make an exception. Academic research studies have revealed that negative financial and social effects of expanding gambling in one territory such as investing diverted from other companies, addiction and criminal activity do not stop at its borders. And turning pari-mutuels in counties on the outskirts of Central Florida into slots parlors also might break down the region's successful family-friendly brand for tourism.
Any groups that are bound and determined to expand slots at gaming houses beyond the two counties in South Florida need to do it the method the law offers: through the Legislature or the constitution. The state Supreme Court would be wrong to create a shortcut for them.
Casino operators up in arms over additional license
TRADE and Industry Minister Rob Davies s choice to award the North West an extra casino license has actually angered casino operators and might end up in court.
Recently, the minister enhanced the maximum number of licenses that may be granted in SA, from 40 to 41, with the extra one going to the North West.
This is the very first boost in more than 20 years since the legalization of gambling in the nation.
Davies stated on Monday the giving of the extra license to the North West was a once-off resolution adopted by the National Gambling Policy Council to supply redress to the North West after it had actually lost its Morula Sun license to Gauteng due to changing community demarcations.
But the Casino Association of SA (Casa) reacted by stating that the separation of provincial boundaries should not have an effect on the variety of casino licenses designated in the country.
The industry body also questioned the awarding of the added license in the lack of empirical information in assistance of a variance of the cap as included in the 1995 Wiehahn Gambling Report and the 2011 Gambling Review Commission Report.
"We are taking legal guidance, with the intention to take the choice of the minister on evaluation in the high court," said Casa CEO Themba Ngobese. "We have actually currently commenced with legal examinations, and we will submit our papers as soon as possible."
The number of casino licenses that may be provided in SA has actually been capped at 40 since 1995.
The cap was based on the suggestions of the Wiehahn report, which found that limiting the variety of casino licenses in SA to 40 would enable the gambling market to advance financial advancement without causing social degradation.
The findings of the Gambling Review Commission tasked by Davies in 2009 to investigate legalized gambling likewise found 40 to be an appropriate number.
However, the minister stated the research reports served just to recommend and suggest policy positions which it was up to the policy maker, in this case the department, fully to accept the recommendation or not.
"The topping of licenses at 40 does not avoid any future factor to consider increasing the cap as the National Gambling Act, Section 45, does empower consideration to enhance the limitation," he stated.
The Wiehahn report likewise set the variety of casino licenses per province based upon empirical considerations such as the propensity to gamble, economic activity, and population, among others.
The North West, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape have 5 licenses each. Mpumalanga and the Free State have 4, while Limpopo and the Northern Cape have 3. Gauteng runs 7 licenses.
Overwatch is becoming Blizzard's subtle, ominous gambling simulator
Trading figures, card loads there s something amazing about opening up a package and perhaps discovering something valuable (at least, to my personal tastes). Because they’re dangerous and greedy tools developed to wring money out of players currently magnanimously ready to pay over the game s $40 entry cost.
Gambling, not shopping
In my evaluation of Overwatch, I called the loot box system greedy and verging on disgusting. Looking at how Blizzard has set things up, it crosses that border and now sits comfortably in the middle of disgusting. There are many little additional actions developed to either intentionally or just easily soak gamers for more money, and this wants spending at least $40 on the game itself.
You can't buy them directly. You require going through loot boxes. Each loot box is an opportunity to get a skin, and not necessarily the skin you desire.
Oh, you can use currency to skins and other modification choices you want, sure, which I did to get my Tengen Toppa Gurren Reinhardt skin, however you can t really buy that currency. It just comes in loot boxes. At well, you can gamble for unique money to buy the things you want.
Think about that for a second.
Blizzard has tons of gamers who bought Overwatch and are ready to spend additional money on cosmetic options. Blizzard won’t accept our money for those additional, not straight.
This isn’t a CCG like Hearthstone, where the game itself is totally free to play and the really mechanics are constructed around getting cards through random possibility and preventing the risk of any online betting hacks attempt. That’s the entire appeal of that category. This is a shooter with some excellent cosmetic alternatives that Blizzard won t let us straight spend for.
There are lots of other little additional you can enter the loot boxes, like voice lines, emotes, sprays, and gamer icons. They’re great for random prizes you get when you level up, however when you include extremely desirable, rare products, it becomes a very real and bothersome sort of gambling.
It would have been a lot less skeevy of Blizzard to simply take the famous skins out of the loot boxes totally and make them cash-only. No, we wouldn’t have the chance to win the actually cool ones, but we likewise wouldn’t have the weird, grinding temptation of tossing dollar after dollar on loot boxes that may have exactly what we desire.
The skeeviness doesn’t stop there. The loot box system is currently a harmful sinkhole for whales, gamers of (normally, free-to-play) video games that use randomized in-game products as rewards (called gatcha systems, called after gashapon, the Japanese term for those little toys you can enter machines that can be found in plastic bubbles), who then spend an exorbitant quantity of money on those items. How Blizzard deals with Battle.net deals, in-game Overwatch purchases, and also sales tax is a more subtle, more ominous relocate to get extra pocket change from any player who might wish to chance on a box.
Take my money, now, and in the quantity I want to pay
I had a GameStop gift card rattling around in my wallet last weekend. GameStop sells Battle.net cards. Instead of wallowing in my shame last weekend, preferably in the exceptionally Shinobi-like Sparrow or Young Genji skins for Genji, I just discovered even more reasons to be disgusted at Blizzard.
The Overwatch in-game store has an offer for 24 loot boxes for $20. I got a $20 Battle.net card. The mathematics would exercise, except the Overwatch in-game store charges sales tax. The start of the disappointment. An additional dollar or two on the total isn’t a huge offer, and I m already weak enough to be in for $20 (credit or not), so I aimed to add a few dollars to my Battle.net account to cover the distinction. That amount was locked for 3 days, basic Battle.net policy. The middle of the frustration.
It doesn’t seem too troublesome to try to refund the balance I included to my account and just pay the balance in the game s store itself. You can t split purchases between payment methods, so if I wanted to get the pack I d have to pay for it, sales tax and all, in one swelling sum with my credit card.
And, after grumbling, investing 20 minutes awaiting consumer support to clarify a couple of things (and confirm that I didn’t miss a menu option that would let me sort this out without waiting), I stepped back and took a look at the entire row of microtransaction dominos Blizzard established. The long, slow burn of the disappointment.
Nickels, cents, and taxes
If you get a gift card somewhere, or merely like to go the video game trade-in path to validate your microtransaction purchases, you can get Battle.net cards at GameStop or Best Buy in even increments, like $20. If you live in a state with no online sales tax, it isn’t an issue. For about 70% of Americans, you’re going to get annoyed.
Sales tax is out of Blizzard s hands, that s apparent. It isn’t a surcharge Blizzard is adding to get more money from you; that money goes to the state you live in, but this is where Blizzard starts to get really sneaky to bleed you for cash past the sales tax.
You can’t make purchases in Overwatch using combined payment sources. If you just put a $20 credit on your Battle.net account, you need to put more money on the account by hand, yourself, to make the purchase you wanted.
Restless gamers who already spend $20 are left with a choice: spend another $20 and change, or include the balance to their Battle.net account and wait a complete three days before getting exactly what they want. Yes, the option remains in the hand of the consumer, however that just adds a temptation to invest double the cash on an item that is, currently, digital gambling. The player wishing to purchase loot boxes is a gambler currently, and, while I give Blizzard credit for not providing a mobile gaming-style $99.99 loot box package, the whole system is still structured to hook whales who want unusual items.
If that isn’t enough, even players who are patient enough to wait have an irritating hoop to jump through, seemingly developed specifically by Blizzard to get extra pocket modification in the transaction. Actually finding the total, consisting of sales tax, of exactly what you want to get in Battle.net can be a task. It isn’t noticeable in the in-game store; it reveals $19.99 and then just provides a mistake if your account doesn’t have the balance. The other choice in the in-game store is to pay for the important things completely with your credit card, and there s no firm total past the pre-tax cost above the huge Pay Now button.
The thorough, sensible solution is to find the post-tax total, which needs going into Blizzard s Battle.net web shop, selecting the package, clicking Buy for PC, and after that checking the total in the payment screen.
The easier solution is to eyeball it. Simply add a few bucks to the balance.
Literal pocket change being given to Blizzard, because the entire system seems to be built to provide the worst temptations of benefit and instant gratification to clients who are already successfully gambling, after paying a minimum of $40 for the game itself.
Choices and temptation
If it’s deliberate, it s Blizzard scrabbling to choose up nickels from players with holes in their pockets after they’ve already gotten their paper money. If it’s unintended, it’s a series of boneheaded, anti-consumer choices that simply occur to funnel additional bits of pocket modification into Blizzard.
That’s all in addition to the gatcha structure of the loot boxes and using possibility rather than choice. This isn’t to please players; it’s to hook whales ready to drop money on boxes after spending for a $40 video game. It’s soaking players from top and bottom, getting hundreds from addicted pseudo-gamblers while scraping up pocket modification from normal players.
There are many methods Blizzard might make excellent money off of gamers without screwing them over. A cash store, or the ability to buy currency straight, would be a start. It would be the outright least they could do to get past all of the horrible risks intended at hooking whales and sorting through other gamers. We’re clearly ready to exchange money for cosmetic improvements in a game we already spent for, and that s on us. It’s on Blizzard that we can’t in fact buy the important things we want and rather have to spend real money on gambling.
It’s just gross. It won t stop me or lots of others from playing Overwatch, nor must it unless Blizzard turns its disgusting gambling microtransaction design toward mechanical content like gamers and maps, but it s a big, ugly mark on an otherwise fantastic game.