California Dreamin’

Betting on college sports in California has always been a contentious issue. In a state where colleges like USC and UCLA consistently field excellent teams, other colleges like Stanford and UC Berkley are more education and reputation focused. And the tribes understand all that.

GameCo to Launch Esports Book

GameCo LLC has partnered with USBookmaking to launch the first-ever esports sportsbook, available first at the Sky Ute Casino Resort (l.) and to all players in Colorado, says GameCo founder Blaine Graboyes.

Why Disney Now Embraces Sports Betting

In years past, the Walt Disney Company has sought to protect its family image by opposing gambling. But with its ownership in ESPN and a stake in DraftKings, the company sees betting in a whole new light.

Macau Likely to Extend Casino Concessions

Analysts with Morgan Stanley and Macquarie Capital say the window is closing on the time left for Macau to finalize a new gaming law and rebid the territory’s six casino concessions. They expect that two- to three-year extensions are in the offing.

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WEEKLY FEATURE: Crown Sydney Opens Sans Casino

Aussie gaming operator Crown Resorts is facing a class-action lawsuit by investors who say they were damaged by Crown’s alleged breaches of anti-money laundering laws. Meanwhile, James Packer’s firm has been given the OK to open its Sydney resort—without a planned VIP casino.

In Japan, Suga Government Still Invested in IR Plan

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (l.), who succeeded Shinzo Abe in September, is as interested as his predecessor in the introduction of integrated resorts in the country. The IR plan was delayed by Covid-19.

Biden Names First Native American Interior Secretary

The administration of President-elect Joe Biden will include the first Native American cabinet secretary. New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland has been named to lead the Interior Department, which oversees, among other things, the U.S. relations with Indian Country. Haaland previously directed the gaming enterprise of her tribe, the Pueblo of Laguna.

Londoner Macao Set to Debut Next Month

The newest addition to Macau’s Cotai resort district, and one of its most elaborately-themed, opens its first phase to the public on January 22. From there, it’s on to Chinese New Year.

States Set New Sports Betting Record

New Jersey established a new national record in sports betting handle in November, topping $931 million. But it was just one of several states to set records last month. Mississippi, Iowa and Indiana all hit new highs.

California Tribes Near Putting Sports Betting on Ballot

A coalition of about 20 California gaming tribes have gathered enough signatures to qualify a ballot measure legalizing sports betting on the 2022 ballot. The measure would allow retail sales by tribal casinos and racetracks.

Will Three Times Be the Charm for the Netherlands?

Casinos and other entertainment venues will be closed for over a month from December 15 to January 19, by order of the Netherland Prime Minister Mark Rutte (l.). It’s the third and most extensive lockdown of casinos after the first two failed to reduce the number of Covid cases. Other European casinos were also impacted.

Hard Rock, Seminoles Launch Hard Rock Digital

Hard Rock International has tapped iGaming and sports betting veterans, including Rafi Ashkenazi (l.), former head of The Stars Group, to head Hard Rock Digital, as the operator launches online gaming sites and sports books at all its Seminole Hard Rock properties.

Michigan Casinos Given OK to Reopen

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (l.) last week said the state would allow high schools, theaters, bowling alleys, casinos and some other venues to reopen from the pandemic lockdown but the ban on indoor dining has been extended.

Just Richard

Richard Schuetz (l.) reflects on the many different roles he’s played in his life. The gaming veteran has worked on every side of the industry to become an expert and serious consultant.

FANTINI’S FINANCE: The Biden Promise

With sports betting, the Covid crisis and challenges to the election process, few gaming observers have focused on what an administration led by Joe Biden would mean. Here’s are a few hints.

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Saipan Operator Under Fire for Payment Lapses, Other Violations

Legal troubles continue for Saipan’s sole casino operator as the local chamber of commerce and island lawmakers demand past-due payroll (workers protest at left) and tax payments. Meanwhile, Imperial Pacific International CEO Donald Browne has been held in contempt for noncompliance with court orders.

Korean Casinos Close in Cautionary Measure

South Korean gaming operator Paradise Co. announced last week that it would close its Seoul casino, Paradise Walkerhill, for seven days as the country battles a new surge in Covid-19 infections. Other casinos in the country including locals property Kangwon Land (l.) had already closed.

Marina Bay Sands Stages First Big Concert in Months

Some 500 attendees were expected for live performances last week at Marina Bay Sands. It was the Singapore resort’s first event on such a scale since the pandemic hit. MBS Senior VP Paul Town called it a “great step.”

U.S. Says Myanmar Casino Mogul Is Triad Member

The United States Treasury Department has accused casino investor Wan Kuok Koi (l.) of bribery and corruption as the boss of a Chinese triad called 14K. The U.S. has officially sanctioned Koi.

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Spain Casinos Criticize Continued Closures

Gaming operators in the Catalan region of Spain are very unhappy about the government’s decision to reopen shopping centers but keep casinos closed. They say it shows “contempt” for 8,000 gaming employees.

GLOBAL GAMING More

Uruguay Seeks Casino Investors

Uruguay is seeking bidders to invest in renovating the Hotel Casino Carmelo (l.) into a five-star hotel casino. It hopes to help revive a tourism industry damaged by the pandemic.

ONLINE GAMING More

Lottery Commission Approves Full iGaming Licenses

West Virginia’s five casinos have been granted full iGaming licenses by the West Virginia Lottery. Each paid $250,000 for a five-year license. Previously Mardi Gras, Wheeling Island, Mountaineer, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town and the Greenbrier Resort operated on 270-day interim licenses.

IGT Launches PlayDigital Solution in Finland

IGT PlayDigital has launched its online gaming solution, including the IGT PlayRGS remote game server and IGT PlayCasino content, with Veikkaus Oy, Finland’s state lottery operator.

SPORTS BETTING More

Kentucky Sports Betting Derailed

Passing a sports betting bill appears to be unlikely in Kentucky until 2021 or even 2022, said state Rep. Adam Koenig (l.). The state Supreme Court’s ruling against a particular type of historical horseracing machine used throughout the state moved legalizing sports betting to the back burner.

Michigan Mobile Sportsbooks Possible In January

Fifteen gaming platform providers received provisional licenses to offer online sports betting in Michigan, perhaps as soon as mid-January. Provisional license holders still have to pass independent platform testing and meeting other regulatory requirements, according to Richard S. Kalm (l.) of the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Oklahoma Sports Betting Not Imminent

With tribal gaming compacts essentially considered renewed, Oklahoma tribes and legislators may turn their attention to legalizing sports betting. But Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Chairman Matthew Morgan (l.) said most tribal leaders are not in a hurry over sports wagering.

Canada Still Bullish on Single-Game Betting

The approval of single-game sports betting in Canada was left at the altar as the House of Commons took on another law instead of debating betting. The House adjourned until late January when bipartisan support expects to bring the proposal to long sought passage.

DraftKings Bullish on Future

DraftKings CEO Jason Robins (l.) said with no new states launching sports betting in 2021, the company still expects to grow 40 percent. But New York and Connecticut could join the club in addition to other states which bodes well for DraftKings.

Entain Licensed in Latin America

On its first day under the new name Entain, the former GVC Holdings PLC became the first global sports betting and gaming operator to gain licensing in Latin America.

UNITED STATES GAMING More

Nevada Governor Won’t Close Casinos Amid Latest Covid Surge

Nevada is battling record numbers of new Covid infections. The state’s per capita rate of virus-related hospitalizations is the highest in the country. But gaming is too important to jobs and the economy to shut down, says Governor Steve Sisolak (l.).

Maryland County Restricts Casinos, Restaurants

Maryland’s Prince George’s County responded to a record number of new Covid-19 tests by banning indoor dining at bars and restaurants, and by limiting capacity at MGM National Harbor (l.) casino to 50 percent.

AGA Executive: Hope for Lower IRS Slot Threshold

Chris Cylke (l.), the senior VP of government relations for the American Gaming Association said that prospects are “better than ever” for the Internal Revenue Service to raise the reporting threshold for slot wins for the first time since 1977.

Georgia Lawmakers Pre-File Gaming Legislation

When the Georgia legislature convenes in January, lawmakers will consider legalizing sports betting, horseracing and casinos. Rep. Ron Stephens (l.) says it’s time the state gives Georgians what they want.

Boyd Gaming to Sell Nevada Casino

The Eldorado, a slots-only locals venue, is one of three casinos in Boyd’s Southern Nevada portfolio that never reopened after the pandemic lockdown ended. Now it’s going to the company’s Henderson rival, DeSimone Gaming, owner of the Railroad Pass, for an undisclosed sum.

In AC, You Can Bid to Implode Trump Casino

The derelict Trump Plaza in Atlantic City (l.) will be imploded in January after years of neglect. Bidders can vie to press the button that will make the former Boardwalk casino come crashing down.

Missouri Lawmakers Pre-File Gambling Bills

Three sports betting bills pre-filed by Missouri state senators are virtually identical except for license-holder taxes and fees. State Senator Denny Hoskins (l.) also pre-filed a bill to legalize and regulate VLTs.

Mississippi Supreme Court Rejects Casino Site

The site of Ray Wooldridge’s Big Play Entertainment Center in Biloxi, Mississippi does not meet state standards for casino locations. Wooldridge, a former owner of the New Orleans Hornets National Basketball Association team, has been angling for approval for the site since 2008.

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North Carolina Amended Compact Accelerates Sports Betting

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ two Harrah’s casinos in North Carolina are on track to open sportsbooks in time for March Madness. Governor Roy Cooper signed an amended compact which was forwarded to the U.S. Department of the Interior for approval.

Indiana, Pokagon Band Nears Final Compact

The state of Indiana and the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, owners of the Four Winds Casino in South Bend, are on the verge of finalizing a gaming compact. Indiana Gaming Commission Executive Director Sara Tait said negotiations “are in a very late stage.”

North Carolina Developer Wants Casino-Adjacent Land Rezoned

Wallace Cheves, developer of the Catawba Nation’s Two Kings Casino Resort in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, is seeking to have two parcels surrounding the project site rezoned for single and multifamily housing. A public hearing will be held Tuesday, December 22.

BIA Approves Relocated Eagle Mountain Casino

The BIA has approved putting 40 acres into trust for the Tule River Indian Tribe. This will allow the Central California tribe to relocate its Eagle Mountain Casino to Porterville.

Arizona’s BlueWater Reopens, Slowly

The BlueWater Resort & Casino, operated by Colorado River Indian Tribes, is reopening, very, very slowly from its March shutdown. The phased reopening began in September and is still ongoing.

Pala Casino Adds Asian Gaming Room

The change in gambling patterns caused by pandemic prompted Pala Casino (l.), in Southern California, to convert a poker room into an Asian Gaming Room. It offers games such as pai gow poker and baccarat.

LOTTERY More

New Zealand Lotto Sales Doubled

Lotto purchases in New Zealand, especially online sales, skyrocketed beginning in the first two months of the pandemic, when the country was put into an almost complete lockdown. The only way to buy Lotto tickets was online—and such sales doubled.

PEOPLE More

Leadership Switch at Melco

Melco Resorts and Entertainment has announced that Kevin Benning is now senior vice president and property general manager of its Studio City casino resort in Macau, replacing Geoff Andres (l.), who will move to Benning’s former position as Manila COO.

BMM Names Goel COO

BMM Testlabs has named former Aristocrat Technologies executive Navin Goel (l.) as the company’s new chief operations officer, charged with leading the company through its next growth phase.

FSB Adds Chief Revenue Officer

FSB, a leading sports betting and iGaming supplier has appointed Ian Freeman as chief revenue officer. Freeman has iGaming experience with IGT and Kambi.

GOODS & SERVICES More

Scientific Games Debuts Kascada Cabinet

Scientific Games debuted its new Kascada slot cabinet showcasing the game Coin Combo at the Green Valley Ranch casino, with a live-streamed event hosted by The Slot Cats YouTube channel.

Michigan Grants AGS Provisional iGaming License

AGS recently received a provisional iGaming supplier license from the Michigan Gaming Control Board. That means when iGaming launches in the state—expected in January—players will be able to access the same content online as offered in land-based casinos.

Wynn Las Vegas Launches New Loyalty Program

Wynn Las Vegas has launched Wynn Rewards, its new player loyalty club, supplanting the former Red Card loyalty program with current Red Card members automatically enrolled in the new club.

Melco Using AI to Reduce Waste

Global gaming operator Melco Resorts & Entertainment has announced it has installed a system called Winnow Vision to help reduce food waste. The system is powered by artificial intelligence technologies.

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QUOTABLE QUOTES

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