BUSINESS

Law firms win big in New Jersey’s online gambling push

TAGs: bwin.party, Caesars Entertainment, Mark Lipparelli, New Jersey, New Jersey Online Gambling, Wynn Resorts

new-jersey-lobbying-cashWe’re still waiting for the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to release its initial online gambling revenue reports, but early reports suggest the lawyers and lobbyists hired by gambling firms to help nudge New Jersey’s elected officials over the online gambling finish line are the real winners.

The DGE is now requiring public disclosure of the sums these firms reap for gaming-related activity. The initial filings cover a broad period from 2009 to 2013 and are inconsistent, with some firms filing more detailed reports than others while others failed to separate New Jersey-centric spending from national lobbying efforts. Future disclosures must be made on a quarterly basis.

The clear winner appears to have been the Denver-based law firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which earned $4.7m from New Jersey’s online move, most of it coming from just three companies: Bwin.party, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts. Bwin.party paid the firm nearly $941k between November-December 2012 and between March-December 2013 to ensure its operations were compliant with NJ regulations. (Bwin.party also paid poker player Michael Sexton between $100k – $300k on an annual basis effective June 1, 2010 for “marketing, brand ambassador and consultancy services.”) Wynn Resorts Interactive – which isn’t yet active in the New Jersey market – paid the law firm $287k between June and December 2013 for “professional services for NJ online gaming.”

In keeping with tradition, Caesars Entertainment has no peer when it comes to showering lobbyists with cash. Caesars paid the Brownstein et al law firm $2.16m between 2010 and 2013 for lobbying/consulting and financial services. Caesars’ forms also included money it received over the past couple years, including over $191k from MGM Resorts in July 2013 for “reimbursement for federal activities.” Caesars Entertainment Operating Company also received a total of $750k from California’s Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians – Caesars manages the tribe’s Harrah’s Rincon casino north of San Diego – between March and July 2012 for “internet gaming activities.”

Former Nevada Gaming Control Board chairman Mark Lipparelli’s name comes up on a few forms. Station Casinos‘ offshoot Fertitta Acquisition Co. paid Lipparelli $160k in 2013 for “market advisory services.” Geolocation firm CAMS paid Lipparelli $42k while Betfair Interactive also cited Lipparelli for consulting yet failed to include how much it had compensated him.

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