Innovating Safety: In Covid-19 Era, A Whole New Industry

A burgeoning industry is springing up to keep casinos safe, so customers young and old can feel comfortable visiting. It includes leading-edge technologies as well as simple but improved products, like cloth masks. Re-opening day at Caesars Palace at left.

Maine Casino Limits Guests to 5 Percent of the Norm

Oxford Casino Hotel and Event Center (l.) in Oxford, Maine reopened July 9 allowing just 200 customers to enter the gaming area at any given time. In an average year, the Churchill Downs property welcomes 2 million guests.

Re-opened A.C. Casinos Not Attractive to Millennials

Without dining, clubs and concerts, millennials have not returned to the Atlantic City casinos in number seen in pre-Covid-19 days, according to executives. Stockton University’s Jane Bokunewicz (l.), points to research that indicates gambling is not high on the list of reasons millennials come to casinos.

The Big Problem With A Small Number: 0.000041%

A proposed reduction in money dedicated to problem gambling in Nevada leaves it with such a small percentage compared to gross gaming revenues that it helps to see it written down. And that number also represents a converse threat to the gaming industry, not only in Nevada, but across the U.S. if operators and manufacturers don’t wake up and do the right thing, says gaming industry conscience Richard Schuetz.

Guangdong Ends Mandatory Quarantines

In Macau, access to the Guangdong market isn’t expected to bring back the boom times. Analysts say that will have to wait for a restoration of China’s Individual Visit Scheme. Nonetheless, they see it as a big step toward the market’s recovery.

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WEEKLY FEATURE: Eldorado Resorts Gets Final OK for Caesars Deal

The approval of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission was the last thing standing between Eldorado Resorts and its $17.3 billion purchase of Caesars Entertainment. Jersey regulators didn’t make it easy but in the end gave their OK to the deal, with a few stipulations. The purchase should close this week.

GVC CEO Steps Down, COO Moves Up

Kenny Alexander (l.), the longtime CEO of GVC, has stepped down effective immediately to spend more time with his family. COO Shay Segev will succeed him.

Ukraine Parliament Approves Gambling Legislation

The Ukrainian parliament voted 248 to 95 to approve Bill-2285D which will allow the government to repeal the 2009 law banning all forms of gambling except state-run lotteries. Passage of the bill was a key goal of President Volodymyr Zelensky (l.) and the SoP Party. Critics, however, said the bill was drafted in secret and contained numerous flaws.

Perelman Considering Sale of SG Stake

A filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reveals that Ronald Perelman (l.), chairman and largest shareholder of Scientific Games, is exploring a sale of his 39 percent stake in the company.

Card Club Leader Urges Governor to Close Indian Casinos

California Gaming Association President Kyle Kirkland (l.) is urging Governor Gavin Newsom to include tribal casinos in his shutdown order of other casinos, including card clubs. The CGA says Newsom has the authority to do so despite tribal sovereignty.

UK Casino Reopening Set for August 1

The UK Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) is highly critical of the government for not allowing casinos to reopen. The government of Boris Johnson (l.) has announced that they will be eligible to reopen on August 1.

Layoffs Come to Singapore

The city-state’s two casino resorts have been reopening in phases since mid-June. But the market continues to struggle with the pandemic’s impacts on gaming and tourism, and now Resorts World Sentosa (l.) is moving to permanently cut jobs.

Virginia Sports Betting Regulations Issued

On July 15, the Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall (l.) released the first set of sports betting regulations for 60 days of public comment. The second set will be issued on August 10. The lottery board will vote on the regulations on September 15 and license applications will be received and reviewed from October 15 to October 31—all hopefully leading up to the launch of sports betting next January.


It took a while, but Reno’s Eldorado Resorts is about to become the owner of Caesars Entertainment properties, which includes the Harrah’s brand that just coincidentally got its start in Reno more than 80 years ago.


September Debut Set for The Londoner

The first phase of Sands China’s US$2 billion remake of its Cotai Central resort complex into the Londoner (l.) will open on schedule this fall. Plans call for a fourth hotel, more MICE space, a 6,000-seat arena and an array of themed attractions.

Hotels Return at Marina Bay Sands

The non-gaming amenities have been cleared to reopen at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands. While gaming started again on July 1, the hotel towers have continued to be closed.

Melco Floats US$500M. in Fresh Debt

Added to a $1.92 billion credit facility secured in April, the new senior notes represent another boost for the balance sheet as the company waits for its Macau and Manila markets to recover from the damage of Covid-19. The facility is separate from another raise for Melco’s Studio City (l.).

Manila Authority Cancelled Airport Deal

The Manila International Airport Authority rejected a change of plans from a consortium tapped to redevelop the Ninoy airport. The group said the change was needed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

IPI Seeks More Time to Pay Debts

Imperial Pacific International, operator of the Imperial Palace Saipan is asking a federal court for time to pay its debts. IPI is struggling to make payroll, an attorney told the court.


UKGC to Review Where VIPs, Regulations Clash

How casinos engage high value customers and VIP players and how such thing as “preferential service” clashes with gaming regulations is the subject of a review by the UK Gambling Commission. It is working closely with the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).

Czech Slots Grow Gaming Revenue

Czech Republic gaming revenues grew 16 percent in 2019 over 2018. Leading the way was better performance by online and land-based slots and lottery sales.


Kenya Removes, Brings Back Sports Betting Tax

A Kenya finance bill signed into law included a provision to remove a 20 percent tax on sports betting. The government than re-introduced the same tax to be re-established in six months. Pro-sports betting groups blamed the tax for the closure of two major firms, while anti-gambling groups lamented its removal.

Ontario Casinos to Beginning to Reopening

Ontario, Canada, casinos will begin reopening this week, including the Rideau Carleton Casino (l.). The announcement was made by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG).


A.C. Revenues Continue Online Rise

Atlantic City revenues for June showed predictable patterns: online win skyrocketed, but coupled with the continued closure of retail casinos, the overall picture was one of steep declines. Sports betting also offered promise even with no major sports to bet on.

DraftKings, SBTech May Prove Imperfect at First

When announced, the merger between DraftKings and SBTech sounded like a good deal for each side. But integrating the two companies is not as easy to pull off. There are the differing platforms and the differing technologies. Then there’s a need for specialized talent.

Dutch Seek Approval of Online Gaming Law

The Dutch government’s Remote Gambling Act rests in the hands of the European Commission for review. The commission will decide if it meshes with the European Union law. Amendments include efforts to deal with addictive behavior and to minimize the risks.

DraftKings Launches Mobile App in PA

DraftKings has launched its mobile app in Pennsylvania, featuring exclusive online slot games and table games including blackjack and roulette.


Colorado Sports Betting Makes Strong Debut

Colorado introduced sports betting in May despite the lack of major sports which shut down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Yet the debut did better than any market except Indiana, the latter opening when sports ran full tilt in 2019. The figures bode well for the state’s future. Table tennis was a surprisingly strong performer the first month.

Nevada Regulators Weigh Past-Posting Debacle

The Nevada Gaming Control Board is expected to rule on whether or not BetMGM will be required to pay out on bets that were placed at Bellagio after Asian baseball games had already started.

Washington Tribes Negotiate Sportsbook Terms

Four of Washington’s 29 gaming tribes have begun negotiations with the state to offers sports betting. The legislature approved a tribal monopoly in March. Washington State Gambling Commission’s Dave Trujillo (l.) says operations in other states will be studied.

Four Winds Selects Kambi to Manage Sportsbooks

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians chose Kambi Group PLC to provide sportsbook management services to its three Four Winds Casinos in Michigan. The first wagers occurred at New Buffalo in 18 kiosks. The deal does not yet include the casino in Indiana as negotiations on a new compact continue.

Sports Betting Supports Iowa Gaming

Iowans continued to bet on sports online while the state's 19 licensed casinos temporarily closed and professional and collegiate sports were interrupted due to Covid-19. Sports betting launched in Iowa last August 15. Gaming commission figures show Iowans bet $368 million on sports in fiscal 2020, ending June 30, with $223.6 of those wages placed online.

Study Illustrates Online Sports Betting Dangers

British professor Dr. Darragh McGee’s (l.) study says the widespread availability of online sports betting indicates the "gamblification of sports," meaning mobile apps and looser rules about sports advertising lead to broader appeal and easier accessibility, particularly among young adult men. Sports wagering is becoming as enjoyable as actually watching the games, the study showed.


Boyd Gaming Lays Off Thousands

In line with a warning issued in May, the company is cutting 25 percent of its workforce of 25,000 in 10 states. Boyd has reopened all but three of its casinos (Sam’s Town in Shreveport, Louisiana at left) but said “significant restrictions” on its business remain.

Strip Casinos Move to Limit Smoking

Nevada regulators mandated face coverings at table games back in June, A statewide order followed shortly after requiring face coverings in all public places, including casinos. But what happens when players feel the need to light up?

Edwards Signs Casino Tax Incentive

Despite concerns about its impact on the state treasury, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (l.) signed into law an $83 million incentive allowing the state's casinos and racinos to give customers $5 million in free promotional play without paying taxes on it. The measure is intended to make up for the state gaming industry's $122 million loss since May 2019 due to Covid-19.

Bars Take Sisolak to Court Over Second Lockdown

Governor Steve Sisolak’s (l.) most recent shutdown applies to taverns in seven Nevada counties where Covid transmission rates are spiking. Operators, however, say they’re being unfairly singled out. In Clark County, dozens are suing to have the order rescinded.

Illinois Casinos Must Follow New Rules Or Lose Licenses

After being closed three months due to Covid-19, Illinois casinos and video gambling machine locations were allowed to reopen July 1 with new health and safety protocols. Recently Illinois Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter (l.) said any violations of the new guidelines could cause a venue to lose its license. It's not clear how the rules will be enforced.

Is Nevada Re-opening Plan the Gold Standard?

Regulatory oversight of Nevada casinos re-openings should be celebrated to provide comfort that visiting is safe, says Virginia Valentine (l.), president of the Nevada Resort Association.. Such oversight is important to keep the casinos open in the wake of rising numbers of cases. Other states face similar problems, but with smaller numbers of licensees to regulate.

Arkansas Disqualifies Casino Petitions

The political group Arkansas Wins 2020 submitted 97,000 signatures on petitions to place on the ballot a constitutional amendment allowing 16 casinos statewide. However, Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston said the group did not comply with a state law requiring signature gatherers to be certified that they passed criminal background checks.

All Three Massachusetts Casinos Open

Massachusetts’s three casinos are all now open. Plainridge Park Casino led the way on July 8, followed by Encore Boston Harbor (l.) on July 12 and MGM Springfield on July 13.

Cuomo Stops NY Casinos From Reopening

New York’s four commercial casinos were removed by Governor Andrew Cuomo from his Phase IV reopening order. It is unknown when they will be able to reopen.

Mixed News from the Strip

Caesars Entertainment announced that Bally’s (l.) on the Las Vegas Strip will reopen July 23, while Las Vegas Sands Corporation announced that it will close its Palazzo tower to weekday reservations.

Nebraska Voters to Consider Casino Gaming

Proponents of three measures that would amend the Nebraska constitution to allow casino gaming have been submitted the Secretary of State by Keep the Money in Nebraska. They gathered 477,000 signatures before the July 2 deadline.

Virginia Board Pre-Certs Hard Rock for Casino Resort

The Virginia Lottery Board pre-certified Hard Rock International and two local groups to build and operate a casino hotel (l.) in the former Bristol Mall. The city followed with a resolution seeking the Circuit Court permission to ask city voters for approval of the project, expected to employ 2,000.

NY Casinos Warn of Massive Layoffs

The four commercial casinos in upstate New York warn that unless they are permitted to reopen, some 5,000 workers who are currently furloughed could be laid off permanently. American Racing sent out WARN notices to workers at its properties, including Tioga Downs (l.).

Mississippi Casino Operators Express Optimism

Customers are returning to Mississippi casinos in numbers that make operators hopeful about the summer and fall. The state's casinos reopened May 21 and posted decent numbers through Memorial Day and July 4. Full House Resorts' Silver Slipper Casino (l.) in Hancock County reported total casino win rose 12.3 percent despite a 15.9 percent drop in guest numbers since reopening.

Pennsylvania Lawmakers Adjourn with No VGT Bill

Last-minute efforts by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (l.) to craft a bill legalizing and regulating skill games and VGTs in bars failed, as the legislative session adjourned with no VGT bill.

Detroit Suffers Financially As Casinos Remain Closed

Detroit's three casinos await Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's approval to reopen. Closed since March 16, Whitmer recently extended Covid-19 lockdowns. Meanwhile, the state and the city have received $0 in tax revenue since the three casinos (MotorCity at left) produced $0 in April, May and June combined, compared to $44 million in 2019 for Detroit.

Nevada Secures $4 Billion in Fed Loans

The U.S. Treasury offered more than $4 billion in loans to 42,000 recipients in Nevada in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Much of that aid went to the hospitality industry, including casino hotels, casinos, restaurants, even strip clubs.

Mohegan Las Vegas Casino Making Progress

Work continues at the future Mohegan Sun Casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, the market's first tribally managed casino, set to open before January 1. The former Hard Rock property was purchased in 2018 by an investor group. Former Station Casinos executive Joe Hasson (l.) has been named GM.

Borgata to Open July 26

After electing to forego the early July re-openings of its fellow casinos, Borgata has come up with a date: July 26. The delay was due to efforts to provide dining options given the order by Governor Phil Murphy that indoor dining was a no-no. The property will follow MGM Resorts guidelines.

LVCVA in Talks to Acquire Monorail Company

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is in discussions to acquire the Las Vegas Monorail Company, and operate the currently idle monorail as conventions and meetings return.

Tiverton Proposes Restricting Casino Revenue

Having been burned by a Rhode Island state promise that if it lost casino revenue it would be paid back, the town of Tiverton faces a financial “pickle.” The town is putting a measure on the ballot that would restrict casino revenue so that budgets won’t be shot with holes if the town’s casino can’t operate for months.

Table Games Could Return to Colorado

One county in Colorado is looking at allowing table games to return to its casinos. Gilpin County, the home of Black Hawk (l.), has submitted a proposal for safe operation of casinos to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. And casino operators in Cripple Creek, did not have to pay gambling machine fees for the first two weeks in June.

Resorts World Completes Gigantic LED Sign; Announces Partnership with AEG

One of the largest LED building displays in the U.S. recently was completed at the $4 billion Resorts World Las Vegas casino on the Strip, expected to open in summer 2021. And the property also announced a partnership with AEG to develop entertainment for the property, including a 5,000-seat theater (l.)

Casino Officials Discuss Employee, Patron Mask Use

Human resources officials recently gathered virtually for the ICE North American conference. Among the topics discussed was mask-wearing among employees and guests. According to a Nevada OSHA report, about 80 percent of guests comply with wearing masks on casino floors. Some casino operators said employees who don't wear masks could face disciplinary actions, including termination.


Grand Jury Seeks Tribal Financial Records

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts has been served a subpoena by a federal grand jury. The tribe has been ordered to turn over financial records. Tribal members have accused Chairman Cedric Cromwell (l.) of financial shenanigans in the past.

3rd Palm Springs Casino Underway

Development is underway on the third Agua Caliente Casino in the Palm Springs, CA area, this one in Cathedral City. Officials believe the project, like the other two, operated by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, will be an economic booster for the downtown section of the town.

No Word on Bingo’s Return to CA

There’s no word on when bingo will return to California’s tribal casinos. Although tribal gaming has returned for more than a month, no tribe has reopened its bingo hall.

June Connecticut Slot Revenues Fall Slightly

Slots revenues at Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun were down only slight in June compared to last year. June was the first month of operation for both Connecticut tribal casinos since the pandemic shut down in March.

ilani Casino Bans Indoor Smoking

Washington’s ilani Casino, operated by the Cowlitz Tribe, has banned smoking until further notice. The tribe cites health concerns as the reason for the change.


Wynn Las Vegas’ Sadhwani Announces Retirement

Ramesh Sadhwani, general manager and executive vice president of hotel operations at Wynn Las Vegas, announced he will retire on July 31. A 40-year veteran of the hospitality industry, Sadhwani worked at Wynn Las Vegas for eight years. He was instrumental in establishing the property as the world's largest Forbes 5-Star resort, said Wynn Las Vegas President Marilyn Spiegel.


Suppliers: G2E Cancellation the Right Call

Suppliers commented at last week’s digital ICE North America conference that the American Gaming Association and Reed Exhibitions made the right call in canceling the Global Gaming Expo. Konami’s Tom Jingoli (l.) said it was the right thing to do.




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