Lesniak: Sports Betting Will Be Back ‘With A Vengeance’

In 2018, New Jersey Senator Ray Lesniak won his battle to bring legal sports bets to his own state and open the door for sports betting across the U.S. GGB News asked Lesniak about getting back, growing the industry, and how so many states missed the boat when it comes to sports bets.

The Calculus of Re-Opening

Everything is a calculation in business, but reopening after the Covid-19 shutdowns has a risk assessment that includes deaths and infections. How much is too much? Gaming expert Richard Schuetz (l.) really hopes the rewards are greater than the risks.

New Jersey Tracks Racing Again

After several days of qualifying runs, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy agreed to let horse tracks start racing again, provided a slew of protocols are followed. The Meadowlands (l.) got the first call, opening June 5. Monmouth Park and Freehold will follow.

Will Covid-19 Stymie Emerging Markets?

The economic and health crises caused by Covid-19 will have a long-lasting negative impact on existing gaming markets. How about markets in the pipeline? GGB News asked Global Market Advisors’ Brendan Bussmann how the historic double-whammy will affect Japan and other jurisdictions.

On the Strip, The Beginning Has Begun

Throughout fabulous Las Vegas, the largest gaming market in the U.S., casino doors are opening again. It’s not the Strip it was. It won’t be, either, not for a while. Analysts say a full recovery is at least a couple years out. But it’s a start. Above, blackjack tables at Bellagio are limited to three players, with Plexiglas separating the player and the masked dealers.

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WEEKLY FEATURE: ‘Mideast Peace’ Deal for California Card Clubs, Tribes Gets Backlash

Trying to broker a peace between California card rooms and gaming tribes, state Senator Bill Dodd is pushing a bill that would legalize sports betting in the state but also sanction house-banked games at card rooms, which tribes have been fighting for years. James Siva (l.), chairman of California Nations Indian Gaming Association, says the bill is designed to legalize table games in card rooms that the tribes say are illegal.

More U.S. Casino Openings

Casinos across the U.S., including Foxwoods (l.) and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, continue to resume operations based on the schedules and safety parameters handed down by their state governments. Here is a sampling of properties that put out the welcome mat last week or will do so soon.

European Casinos On the Road Back

Across Europe, casinos and betting shops have begun the long trek back to renewed operations and financial viability. Some opened in late May; others will not welcome patrons until July. Spain’s comeback date is yet to be determined. In France, only casinos in the “green zone” outside Paris may reopen, which includes Casino Barriere Trouville (l.).

For Macau, Normalcy at the Borders Is Elusive

In good news for Macau, the mainland Chinese city of Chongqing is issuing individual travel visas again. But there’s still no word on when the system will extend to the rest of China. In the meantime, Hong Kong is still under quarantine.

Louisiana Moves Closer To Legal Sports Betting

Louisiana House lawmakers approved a bill authorizing the language of a sports betting measure that may appear on the November ballot in each parish. Governor John Bel Edwards (l.) still must approve the measure before it can be placed on the ballot. Also, the Senate approved a bill that would establish regulations for daily fantasy sports.

Louisiana Ousts Gambling Board’s Jones

In a closed-door executive session, Louisiana state Senator Karen Carter Peterson forced the resignation of Gambling Board Chairman Ronnie Jones (l.), appointed in 2013. No reason was given for Jones' ouster. Peterson also blocked the appointment of New Orleans Convention Center Board President Walt Leger III.

U.S. Casino Industry Saw 3.7 Percent YoY Jump in 2019

Thanks to the expansion of legal sports betting, commercial casinos in the United States won $43.6 billion from gamblers in 2019, up 3.7 percent from the year before. The American Gaming Association’s Bill Miller (l.) says commercial revenues have tracked steadily upward for five straight years.

Pansy Ho Moves on MGM China

Hong Kong businesswoman Pansy Ho (l.), co-chair of MGM China and a major shareholder, has named herself managing director, signaling her intention to assert direct control over operations with a major reshuffling of executives at the top.

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Singapore Casinos, Government Collaborate on Reopening Plan

Officials with Resorts World Sentosa (l.) are working closely with Singapore government officials on a plan to safely reopen. Last month, Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry cleared a number of businesses to reopen starting June 2, but Sentosa and its market rival, Marina Bay Sands, were not on the list.

No Word Yet on Manila Casino Openings

Last Monday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gave the OK for many businesses to reopen throughout the country, but there’s no word yet on when casinos, including Melco’s City of Dreams Manila (l.), may join the group.

Korean Casino Backs Off Reopening Plan

Kangwon Land, the only South Korean casino that lets locals gamble, has tabled plans to reopen its main gaming floor following a sudden increase in Covid-19 cases in the country.

Suncity Ups Stake in Philippine Unit

Hong Kong-listed Suncity Group has announced plans to significantly increase its share in Philippine subsidiary SunTrust from 51 percent to almost 75 percent. Suncity plans a bond issue to fund the acquisition.

Century Shelves Cambodia VIP Deal

Gaming company Century Entertainment has ended its licensing agreement with Crown Resorts to run a VIP room at the Genting Crown Casino (l.) in Poipet, Cambodia.

Sands China Shores Up Balance Sheet

The Macau gaming giant is selling US$1.5 billion of fresh debt to help carry it through the pandemic. The company generated only $9 million in casino revenue in April, a 99 percent decline from last year, and by its own estimation is bleeding $200 million a month to stay afloat.

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Sale of French Casino Company SFC Falls Through

Gaming1’s plan to take control of French casino group Société Française de Casinos has “lapsed,” the company announced. The Belgian group blamed the impact of the coronavirus, which has decimated financial markets around the world.

U.K. Betting Shops Hit By Stakes Reduction

The U.K. Gambling Commission released data that indicated the decrease in maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals had a deleterious effect on overall performance.

German State to Privatize Casino Sector

The state of Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany has passed legislation to privatize land-based casinos in Aachen (l.), Bad Oeynhausen, Dortmund and elsewhere. The plan, which originated in 2018, would require a sell-off of shares held by state-owned banking group NRW.

Spain’s Codere Posts Massive Losses

In the first quarter, Bolsa Madrid gaming group Codere SA saw group-wide losses of €97 million due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The company is now in survival mode, and on the hunt for funding to keep it going.

Lithuanian Casinos At Risk for Money Laundering?

Lithuanian casinos, both online and land-based, are vulnerable to money laundering, according to a risk assessment conducted by the government. , On a scale of one to four, the industry got a four—for the highest risk. Many of the casinos are located in the capital city of Vilnius (l.)

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Bangladesh Bank Sues Bloomberry Over 2016 Cyber-Heist

Bangladesh Bank has filed suit against Bloomberry Resorts Corp., operator of Solaire Resort & Casino in Manila. The case concerns a notorious 2016 cyber-theft that led to losses of $81 million for the bank. It only recouped about one-fourth of the amount stolen by North Korean hackers.

New Zealand Group Encouraged As Patrons Return

SkyCity Entertainment of New Zealand, which reopened its gaming operations in Auckland and Hamilton in mid-May, says customers are flocking to return, within the limits of Covid-19-related safeguards.

Australia’s Star Sydney Reopens for VIPs

Last Monday, Star Entertainment Group welcomed back a select number of invited guests to its Star casino resort (l.) in Sydney, Australia. The main gaming floor of the property in New South Wales remained closed to the public.

ONLINE GAMING More

Cordish Picks GAN in Pennsylvania

Cordish Companies has selected GAN Ltd. as its platform partner for internet gaming in Pennsylvania, providing its solution to power the PlayLive! iGaming site.

Iowa Casino Launches Mobile App

Prairie Meadows Casino Racetrack & Hotel has upped its game with the introduction of a mobile app. Developed by TPI, a local director marketing firm, the app offers patrons a host of uses from reward point balances to promotions, to reservations for hotel rooms, dining and events.

SPORTS BETTING More

Ohio House Passes Sports Betting Bill

The Ohio House has finally approved a sports betting bill, which now heads to the Senate, which earlier passed its own bill. The bills are similar, the difference revolves around the choice of regulatory agency. The House favors the lottery as overseer, while the Senate wants the Casino Control Commission.

D.C. Sports Betting off to Rocky Start

Issues have plagued sports betting in Washington, D.C. from the get-go, with a lawsuit over a no-bid contract to the operator, Intralot. Now that the system is live, problems continue—from less than optimal odds to geolocation glitches that prevent some from placing bets.

Survey Says U.K. Bettors Demand Sports

This one is from the what-else-is-new category: a survey of sports fans conducted for U.K. sportsbook Ladbrokes indicates pent-up demand for the return of sporting events.

R.I. Wins Sports Betting Case

A lawsuit challenging the legality of Rhode Island sports betting legislation has been batted down by a Superior Court judge. The suit, brought by Daniel Harrop (l.) of Providence, said enactment of sports betting violated the state constitution requirement for a voter referendum.

U.K. Football League Ready to Play

The English Premier League is ready to begin the rest of their season on June 17. The first two matches pit Aston Villa against Sheffield United and Manchester City versus Arsenal. Games will be played without spectators, but televised. Players and staff will follow strict protocols.

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AC Casinos May or May Not Reopen by July 4

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is inching closer to green light for Atlantic City casinos to reopen. He said he’d like to see the gaming halls ready to roll by July 4 if talks with casinos convince him the industry is prepared. But a week later, Murphy extended the lockdown until July 7, with no mention of casinos.

Maryland Track Resumes Live Racing

The Maryland Jockey Club approved the resumption of live racing—without spectators, due to the coronavirus—with a meet that began May 30 at Laurel Park (l.).

Illinois Horse Racing Makes A Comeback

Fan-free horse racing began June 6 at tracks in Illinois, thanks to protocols that lessen likelihood of Covid-19 flare-up. Hawthorne Race Course (l.) re-opens on June 6, with racing two nights a week. The track estimates that no more than 25 additional personnel will be on hand to run live racing.

Another Coronavirus Victim: The Drew Las Vegas

For more than a decade the building has stood unfinished at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip, 67 stories of blue glass gleaming in the desert sun, a towering monument to the gambler’s worst enemy𑁋bad luck. And the Drew (ne’ Fontainebleau at left) may have reached the end of the road.

Groups Petition For Arkansas Casino Amendment

The group Arkansas Wins 2020 has begun a petition to allow a total of 16 casinos in the state, including three that are already operational: Southland (l.), Oaklawn and Cherokee. More than 89,000 signatures would have to be gathered by July 3.

PA Court Strikes Down Ban On Political Contributions

A federal appeals judge has ruled that the Pennsylvania gaming law that prohibits casino licensees from making political contributions is unconstitutional. The case was brought by shareholders in Sands Pennsylvania Inc. and Maggie Hardy Magerko (l.), owner of a group that leases land to Lady Luck Casino.

Sahara First on the Vegas Strip to Dump Resort Fees

Times being what they are, operators on the Las Vegas Strip are having to take a hard look at their value proposition. First to go was paid parking. Resort fees could be next, as the Sahara (l.) has temporarily suspended them.

TRIBAL GAMING More

Oklahoma Tribes Urge Federal Compact Approval

In Oklahoma, the Comanche and Otoe-Missouria tribes are defending their actions in signing a new gambling compact with Governor Kevin Stitt—a move widely criticized by other tribes. The dissenting tribes have urged in U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt (l.) to approve the compacts.

Michigan’s Gun Lake Tribe Issues $7.9 Million to Governments

The Gun Lake Tribe of Wayland, Michigan has shared more than $7.9 million in gaming revenue payments with state and local governments. Tribal Chairman Bob Peters (l.) called it “the most important … distribution we have ever made,” coming in the middle of the pandemic.

BIA Rejects Oregon Casino Plan

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) last week rejected the application by the Coquille Indian Tribe of Oregon to put land into trust that is located 170 miles from its reservation. The distance and jurisdictional problems were among the top reasons given by the BIA.

U.S. Treasury Gives Tribes More Time to Upload CARES Data

The U.S. Treasury extended the deadline to May 29 to tribes for uploading data to the Treasury website to apply for the $3.2 billion that remains of CARES Act that has been earmarked for tribes. It is already six weeks late in being paid out.

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NCPG Appoints Three

The National Council on Problem Gaming has named three new members to its advisory board. Valerie Spicer (l.) has served in various capacities in tribal gaming. Christopher Hebert worked in the attorney general’s office in Louisiana. George Sweny spent years with the Canadian lottery system.

GOODS & SERVICES More

TransAct Launches Safety Product

TransAct’s Epicentral Clean2Play provides printed proof that a slot machine has been cleaned and sanitized to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Dynam Looks to Penetrate Singapore Market

Dynam Japan Holdings is targeting Singapore for approval of a suite of video slot machines, including a pachinko-style game the supplier already has launched in Macau.

Gary Platt Donates Masks to Navajo Nation

Gary Platt Manufacturing has donated hundreds of masks to the Navajo Nation in response to a call from the group Seeding Sovereignty for equipment to fight the spread of Covid-19.

Everi Reports Q1 Loss, Looks to New Products

Everi Holdings reported a net loss of $13.5 million for the first quarter of 2020, due to the March closure of casinos due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but executives say liquidity has been preserved.

TRADE SHOWS & CONFERENCES More

SBC Plans Virtual Summit for September

SBC Events has announced that its flagship industry summit, originally to be held live in Barcelona, will be presented as a digital-only event for 2020. The SBC Summit Barcelona—Digital will be held September 8-11.

WILD CARD More

Oregon Casino Duped by Fake ‘Village People’ Manager

A Florida con man successfully swindled the Mill Casino in North Bend, Oregon by claiming to be a booking agent for ’70s disco group the Village People (l.). Casino management got wind of the fraud when it saw that the real group was playing elsewhere on the scheduled dates.

RG Fail: iGaming Site Closes After Breaches, Player Suicide

A U.K. online gaming site was shut down because it did not follow responsible gambling measures with a customer who committed suicide. PT Entertainment Services did not confirm the customer’s occupation or income, and offered him VIP perks after he had lost more than £30,000. UK Gambling Commission head Neil McArthur (l.) says an investigation is continuing.

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