Indiana’s Sports Betting Market Continues to Expand with BetMGM Launch

Soccer Player Kicking Ball Into Goal, BetMGM Logo
On Tuesday, Boyd’s Belterra casino celebrated the official launch of BetMGM’s mobile sportsbook. That makes for the fifth mobile sportsbook in the state.

Last month, BetMGM held a temporary license but was officially cleared on Feb. 25. The BetMGM app is powered by Roar Digital, a partnership between MGM Resorts International and GVC: Great Britain’s betting technology leader.

BetMGM now has four mobile states in the US: New Jersey, where they originally launched, Nevada, West Virginia, and Indiana. When you visit BetMGM’s official site, it asks, “Where do you want to play?” with an option to click on one of the four state’s portals.

Indiana’s Growing Sports Betting Market

With Governor Eric Holcomb signing SB 552 into law last May, Indiana has been diving deep into the sports betting industry.

From December to January, sports betting revenue jumped 5.6% to $170.8 million. The online handle of their sports betting industry included a 11.6% growth, hitting $123.4 million.

DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook dominated the online handle, with DraftKings alone contributing $66 million to the total number. The majority remainder was taken by BetRivers, with BetIndiana and PointsBet receiving less than $90,000.

A full list of the five, live sportsbook apps currently available in the state:

Sportsbook Launch date
DraftKings Sportsbook Oct. 3, 2019
FanDuel Sportsbook Oct. 26, 2019
BetRivers Oct. 3, 2019
BetAmerica Dec. 30, 2019
BetMGM Feb. 25, 2020

The sportsbook apps that the state eventually expects to see at an unknown date: Fox Bet, PointsBet, William Hill, and Caesars Sportsbook.

BetMGM’s Planned Future Launches

MGM COO, Bill Hornbuckle, says BetMGM could very well be in eight states by year’s end. Besides their mobile offerings, they also operate retail sports betting. Three states are already planned for the near future: Pennsylvania, Colorado and Iowa. BetMGM has high future hopes for Michigan in particular.

Hornbuckle said he hopes the company will dominate in Michigan, where MGM operates MGM Grand Detroit.

About BetMGM

When legal sports betting first launched throughout the US, BetMGM operated under a different name, “PlayMGM.” PlayMGM was the 1.0 version of BetMGM we know today. Today, BetMGM offers many exciting and convenient features for its players, including early cash out, live in-game betting, odds boosts, and more payment options including PayPal and Skrill.

New $500k Refuge Spa Addition at Renaissance Reno Hotel

Woman Lying on Chair at Pool Spa
Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel recently debuted their Refuge Spa on Feb. 22.

The 5,000 square-foot, full-service spa, which is located on the fourth floor of the property, features seven boutique treatment rooms, a float pod, a co-ed infrared sauna, locker rooms and showers, a VIP party lounge, and The Rise Spa bar.

According to a hotel representative, the new “urban sanctuary” cost about $500,000. From the official website for The Refuge Spa:

“The Refuge Spa is your tool for recovery so you can get back out and rise. Rise above the stress, the noise, the pressure and live life to its fullest. You aren’t going to be a victim of overwhelm. Instead, you’re going to take time to take care of you so that you can get back out there and thrive.”

Refuge Spa’s Industry-Leading Amenities

Float Pod

Refuge is leading the pack by being one the first spas to offer the popular new advanced floatation therapy. The Float Pod allows spa guests to float effortlessly atop buoyant water, inside of a large bed-sized container. The container features a special blend of water, salt, and minerals that allow floating to take place with ease.

Lounge & Sauna

The Reflect Lounge features beautiful, reflective art, cozy furniture, and complimentary refreshments to elevate spa guest into a tranquil headspace. The infrared sauna works to release bodily tension and help patrons detox from the day.

The Rise Spa Bar

The Rise Bar offers unique, hand-crafted cocktails and mocktails, craft beers, teas and spritzers, and health elixirs such as kombucha. The bar also serves up a small food menu, which include daily muffins, grilled chicken sandwiches, and Caesar salad.

Some of their specialty cocktails include the Wanderer, which uses watermelon kombucha, the Gold-Fashioned, their spin on the classic old-fashioned, and the Elderflower Essence, which infused elderflower liqueur with sparkling wine.

VIP Party Lounge

The VIP Party Lounge seeks to throw memorable spa parties by offering themed parties and several amenities. There are five different themed beverage bars for you and your besties to choose from: Keep It Classy, Mimosa Memories, Bites & Brews, Sparkle & Savor, and Fresh & Fabulous.

The packages include 50-80 minute spa treatment per guest, all-access pass to spa and amenities, choice of themed beverage bar and gourmet appetizer platter, and an 1.5 hours in the private VIP party lounge.

About Reno Renaissance Hotel

Reno Renaissance Downtown Hotel is a Marriott property in the heart of downtown Reno, Nevada. From their official website:

“Business and leisure travelers will have everything they need for their stay at Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel. Boasting a prime location just 3.4 miles from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, our upscale hotel provides easy access to top attractions such as the Reno-Sparks Convention Center and the Reno Events Center.

Guests can also have fun with our full-service bar and bocce courts, complemented by skee-ball, darts, shuffleboard, air hockey, pool tables, and arcade games. Retreat to stylish rooms and suites featuring chic décor, luxury bedding, plug-in media panels, flat-panel TVs and high-speed Wi-Fi.

You can also savor delicious fare at our on-site restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine in a casual fine dining environment.

Stay on top of your workout routine at our 24-hour fitness center and take a swim in our seasonal outdoor pool. If you’re hosting a business or social gathering during your trip, reserve one of our event venues.

Expect a rewarding stay at Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel.”

Offset Wins Over 100k at Aria Casino in Las Vegas

Rapper Offset, Casino Craps Floor, Craps Table
Fury wasn’t the only winner in Las Vegas over the boxing fight weekend. Migos rapper and Cardi B’s husband, Offset, also won a big chunk of change at the Aria Resort & Casino.

The ATL rapper showed off his chips in ten-thousand row stacks on his Instagram story. Offset can be heard saying, “We didn’t come to play today, we don’t come to play today,” as he pans the camera onto the chips. “This is what we came to do to Vegas,” he says.

It’s unsure exactly how he won his money, but the winnings might likely be from craps or a dice game.

Offset, who has an estimated net worth of $26 million, might not be hard-pressed for cash, but the winnings could be useful to him. Recent reports surfacing a few days ago reveal that the rapper was a no-show in court in a 400k lawsuit with a jewelry company.

The jewelry company sued the rapper last September over an outstanding 400,000 bill they advise wasn’t paid. Since the rapper didn’t show, the company is asking for a default judgement.

The items making up the six-figure debt are a $140k diamond-encrusted tennis bracelet, a $40k platinum tennis bracelet with emerald-cut diamonds, and a $95k platinum diamond necklace.

Other Big Wins in February

  • The biggest win for the month of February goes to a lucky gambler at Wynn Las Vegas, who won $1.7 million on a Wheel of Fortune slot machine off a $10 wager.
  • A lucky visitor from Hawaii turned her Las Vegas vacation into a $420,000 payday after hitting a seven-card straight flush and bonus bet playing pai gow at Main Street Casino.
  • A Wisconsin visitor won a $100,000 jackpot at a slot machine at Paris Las Vegas earlier in the month.

Massive Crane Needed to Complete Dome Roof on Venetian’s MSG Sphere Arrives

The Venetian Casino in Las Vegas, Red Construction Crane
A massive 580-foot tall crane, weighing in at nearly 870 tons, has just touched down at the MSG Sphere construction site located at 255 Sands Avenue.

The crane, known officially as the DEMAG CC-8800 Crawler Crane, was shipped in from Belgium. A total of 120 tractor-trailers were needed to deliver the machinery equipment to the Las Vegas site, and required 18 days of assembly.

A spokesperson for The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) says that the crane is needed to put up the steel that will complete the unique dome-shaped roof and exosphere.

Because of its enormous weight, the crane must sit atop a special base since the natural ground is too soft to adequately support it.

MGS says the crane will effectively complete necessary tasks such as carrying heavy loads and more specifically, delivering heavy loads across all sides of the Sphere and down into the venue itself.

Nick Tomasino, vice president of construction for Madison Square Garden, said this in a press release:

“MSG Sphere at The Venetian will be unlike any venue ever created, including its vision for reinventing entertainment – and how its constructed.”

More About MGM Sphere

The MGM Sphere is a joint venture between The Madison Square Garden Company and Las Vegas Sands Corporation. It’s being built adjacent to The Venetian Las Vegas and will be the first sphere-shaped venue of its kind. In total, the project’s estimated cost is between $1.2-$1.7 billion.

Features

Once completed, the MSG Sphere will be 366 feet high and 516 feet wide at its broadest point. For height reference, the Sphere will sit only 34 feet shorter than the Strip’s Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. The widest section of the sphere, being called the “equator,” is expected to be completed sometime in 2020.

It’s expected to reach 875,000 square feet, with enough seating available to hold 17,500 people. The entire project is scheduled for completion by 2021.

The MSG Sphere will be accessible through the Las Vegas Monorail, RTC Transit and The Deuce. Plans to build an identical MSG Sphere in Stratford, East London, upon completion of the MSG Sphere Las Vegas, are also underway.

“MSG Sphere is an engineering marvel that will change the face of entertainment right here in Las Vegas,” said Tomasino. “From the venue’s iconic spherical shape, the stage, seating and even the remarkable atrium, it’s easy to see the considerable progress we’ve made this year.”

About the Sphere’s Designer, Populous

Populous, the architecture firm behind Wembley Stadium in England, is a global design firm with clients spanning across four continents. The firm works with communities of all different sizes and uses a range of disciplines to “create experiences that amplify the joy felt in shared human moments.”

To date, they’ve completed more than 3,000 projects, have an accumulated value of $40 billion from their designed spaces, and have over 35 years of experience. From their official website:

“Our unrivalled knowledge, both technical and visionary, sets the stage for the next generation of venues. We create places for people to laugh, to cry, to high five, to celebrate, and to be a part of something bigger than themselves. We design with equal parts data and an understanding of how people come together.”

Atlantic City’s Borgota Not Impacted by MGM Computer Hack

Cyber Security Sign, Hand on Digital PadlockOn Feb. 19, media reports revealed that a data breach that infiltrated MGM Resorts’ cloud server last summer left the personal information of more than 10 million guests compromised. The approximate number of guests affected were 10,683,188, according to ZDNet.

“Last summer, we discovered unauthorized access to a cloud server that contained a limited amount of information for certain previous guests of MGM Resorts,” company officials of MGM said. “We are confident that no financial, payment card or password data was involved in this matter.”

According to LifeLock, an Arizona-based identity theft protection company, advised that the personal information that was leaked in the breach included names, birth dates, home addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license, passport information, and email addresses.

Of those whose data was comprised, notable people include Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and singer Justin Bieber, among other celebrities, reporters, tech employees, and government officials.

While the breach touched a significant amount of MGM International’s guests, luckily, no guest information from MGM’s Atlantic City property, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, was accessed, according to a spokeswoman for Borgata.

Since the breach, MGM has stated that they’ve “strengthened and enhanced the security of our network to prevent this from happening again.”

5 Steps to Take for Affected Guests

For guests who were affected by the breach, an article by CNBC offered five useful security measures for them to take:

Change your passwords

According to PCI Pal, 47% of Americans use the same passwords frequently, which is especially troublesome in the event of a data breach. Utilizing a program managers like LastPass can allow those affected to create unique passwords for separate accounts, while easily keeping them managed.

Set up credit monitoring

Monitoring your credit will allow you to spot any discrepancies in a timely manner, and provide a comprehensive look into your credit history and activity.

Practice good cybersecurity habits

Email is an easy way for hackers to gain access to credit card information or someone’s identity. Hackers set up “phishing” emails that include links designed to get people to click on them. Once someone clicks on them, it allows the hacker access to critical points of their online life.

Keep a record of your response

Consumers who received a breach notification should keep that notification stored away somewhere safely. Should that breach result in a settlement, it will be helpful to have the notification on hand.

Stay alert

The best response in the case of a data breach is to remain watchful over your accounts and personal information. Some static pieces of information, like social security numbers or home addresses, may be used by hackers at a later time.

About Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa first opened its doors in Atlantic City in 2003, igniting the city’s revival as the first new hotel property that, at the time, opened in 13 years. It includes 2,000 chic rooms and is located at Renaissance Pointe. From their official website:

At Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, guests can enjoy luxurious hotel accommodations, an expansive selection of casino & poker games, world class restaurants from Iron Chefs Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Michael Symon, and Michael Schulson, thrilling entertainment and nightlife, an award-winning spa and more. Borgata strives to present guests with the best hotel and casino experience in Atlantic City, NJ.

About MGM Resorts

MGM Resorts International is a publicly traded, American global hospitality and entertainment company. Its portfolio includes 30 unique hotel destinations through the US and China. MGM Resorts features “best-in-class hotels and casinos, state-of-the-art meetings and conference spaces, incredible live and theatrical entertainment experiences, and an extensive array of restaurant, nightlife and retail offerings.”

Harry Connick Jr. to Debut Mini-Tour at Wynn Las Vegas

The Wynn Las Vegas Casino, Harry Connick Jr.
Harry Connick Jr., musician, actor, composer, and television host, is back on the Las Vegas Strip this week to debut his latest show at the Wynn Las Vegas. The last time Connick played on the Strip was the fall of 2017 at Encore Theater. His new show, which will be a more intimate-style mini-tour set, will tie in his popular jazz-pop hits as well as his favorite hits by the late, legendary Cole Porter.

The show will be the shortened version of Connick’s Broadway series, which debuted last December, but will be distinguishable from his Broadway series. The series was made to compliment his newest recording, “True Love: A Celebration of Cole Porter.”

“It’s a pretty short tour but I really wanted to do a tour like this, an intimate show with only seven or eight musicians playing a lot of Cole Porter but a lot of songs from different albums I’ve done over the years, too,” Connick says. “It’s a very different show from what I did on Broadway and that show is going to be touring the world in the fall. This is a much more nimble show. It doesn’t have those giant sets and all that choreography. It’s a different kind of thing, very spur of the moment.”

Connick’s new show starts Feb. 26 at Wynn Las Vegas. In March, the mini-tour will move over to Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The goal is to expand the intimate set to a larger, full-scale version in the fall. For the expanded version, Connick wants to get a 25-piece orchestra on board, if it works in conjunction with the Broadway performances.

Connick expresses hopes that his full-scale version will also make it onto the Las Vegas Strip.

When asked about his deep appreciation for Cole Porter, Connick gave this account:

“When I was really young, there were a lot of songs he wrote that I knew and [played] but I didn’t know they were Cole Porter songs. It wasn’t until later that I started to realize he was the guy and to understand him in a different way. He’s been in my life a long time.”

More Shows at Wynn

  • Le Rêve – The Dream
  • SiriusXM Presents Dwight Yoakam: March 4, 6 & 7 at 8 p.m.
  • Lionel Richie: A Legend in Las Vegas: March 11, 13 and 14 at 8 p.m.
  • Robbie Williams: Live in Las Vegas: March 24 through April 4, 2020.
  • Diana Ross: An Extraordinary Evening: April 8-18, 2020.
  • Bryan Adams: April 22, 24, and 25, 2020.
  • An Evening with Lea Salonga: May 3 and 4.
  • Jo Koy: Just Kidding World Tour: May 8, 9, 29, 30 and 31 at 8 p.m.
  • Sebastian Maniscalco: May 23 & 24 at 7:30 and 10 p.m.
  • Russell Peters: Two back-to-back performances on June 6, 2020.
  • Jim Gaffigan: “The Pale Tourist”: June 13 at 7:30 and 10 p.m.
  • Trevor Noah: Loud & Clear: July 24 and 25.
  • John Fogerty: My 50 Year Trip: November 4 through 21, 2020 at 8 p.m.

New Construction Projects Seek to Improve Southwest Las Vegas

Aerial View of Southwest Las Vegas Area, New The Bend Project in Las Vegas
The southwest part of Las Vegas is known for being a more open part of the valley, with pockets of undeveloped lots of land, plenty of beautiful, new living communities, and unobstructed views of the Strip and the Red Rock Canyon mountain range.

What’s it’s not known for, however, is being an area that has a dedicated, trendy shopping or entertainment center like its Downtown Summerlin counterpart.

That’s about to change with the latest major shopping center currently being constructed in the area. It’ll be known as “The Bend,” and it’s being built near S. Durango Drive and W. Sunset Road.

The Bend shopping center will be more than just that, though. The entire plaza will include luxury theaters and restaurants on top of retail.

In addition to entertainment real estate, commercial development is also booming in the area.

David Tina, owner of nearby Urban Nest Realty, comments on the many new exciting developments in her part of town.

“I am hoping to see that become a focal point like the District or Downtown Summerlin for the southwest,” she said. “If you go across the 215, there is the Commons, an eat, work, and play campus.”

The Bend Will Likely Increase Value of Southwest Homes

According to County Commissioner, Michael Naft, the new developments will bring tremendous growth to the southwest part of the valley. And the tremendous growth will be accompanied by tremendous job opportunities for the people, Naft says.

As it’s known, where there is profitable growth, traffic, and interest in an area of town, the home value also goes up.

Residents of the southwest valley seem to be welcoming the new changes, too. Tom Hayzlett, who moved to the area three years ago, says it’s “nice to see new growth in the neighborhood.” He believes the growth is equally as good for the economy as it is his neighborhood.

“Every homeowner hopes the value of their home will go up; it has gone up since I bought the house,” Hazylett said.

More About the Bend

The Bend, that they’re touting as the “shopping experience at Sunset and Durango,” is gearing up to the largest development for dining and entertainment in the southwest area. Currently, there are ten tenants set up, 170,000 square feet planned, and 725 parking spaces that will be made available.

According to their website:

“The Bend will be the largest dining, entertainment and shopping destination in the Southwest area of the valley. Since it was announced, The Bend has signed the first new Galaxy Theater Luxury in Southern Nevada, in addition to many dining establishments, including Lotus of Siam, Freed’s Dessert Shop, The Great Greek, Aces & Ales Brewery and many more.

In addition to retail, they will have a state-of-the-art office, five-story boutique office building, which will feature 140,000 square foot of space and 595 parking spaces. From their website:

Designed by Yihong Liu + Associates, a LEED AP architect, this Class-A office space features an upscale lobby, gated parking garage with more than 500 reserved, covered and secured parking spaces for tenants, and balcony views of the Las Vegas Strip and surrounding mountain landscape.”

Goucher College Poll Shows Maryland Residents Divided Over Sports Betting

Sportsbook in CasinoAccording to a Goucher College poll released Monday, Maryland residents are almost evenly split down the middle when it comes to the legalization of sports betting in their state.

The Goucher College poll surveyed a total of 713 Maryland residents, by phone, and was conducted Feb. 13-18. The margin of error, of plus or minus, is 3.7 percent.

The results found that 49% of Maryland residents oppose expanding gambling that would allow sports betting to take place at racetracks, casinos or stadiums. On the other hand, 45% of Maryland residents are in favor of allowing it.

When it comes to allowing online sports betting, through the means of either placing wagers online or through an app as opposed to a physical casino sportsbook, those in favor slightly tip the scale with 47% of respondents in favor of it, compared with 43% of respondents who oppose it.

The Goucher College Poll comes during a time where Maryland lawmakers have been in serious consideration of legalizing sports betting. They have been considering uses for the tax revenue, and whether is would be best placed for the state’s K-12 education.

According to Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher, it’s unsure whether respondents know that lawmakers are discussing divvying up the tax revenue for the public school’s use. What’s clear, however, is that same level of division among respondents has been seen in previous polls.

“They are divided now,” Kromer said. “But my guess is that because public education is important to people, you’d see different numbers if they made that connection.”

State Pushes Forward, Will Need Public’s Approval

While state lawmakers are working toward passing through legislation that would permit sports betting in the state, according to the law, voters get the final stamp of approval. For legislation to pass, voters will need to approve it in a ballot referendum in November for it to get the green light to actually go through.

The General Assembly is also debating whether or not they should ask voters to remove themselves from the decision process completely, that’s if Maryland expands gambling in the future. Even still, voters get the final say in whether or not they want to be apart of that decision process.

Legalized Gambling in Maryland

Currently, on-site gambling is allowed in Maryland’s six casinos: Rocky Gap Casino Report in Flinstone, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, Hollywood Casino Perryville, Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover, Ocean Downs in Berlin, and MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill.

According to state analysts, Maryland’s total casinos are expected to generate nearly $1.8 billion in gross gambling revenue in the 2021 fiscal year. That revenue would allot $542 million to be used on the state’s Education Trust Fund.

While the support for education in the state is high, Marylanders get immediately turned off if they feel they’re being taxed too high, and it bleeds into their decision-making process for legalized sports betting.

“There is a high level of support for education. And then you see where the rub is. Marylanders feel like they are taxed too much,” Kromer said. “When asked about more services and more taxes, you see the plurality saying keep everything the same.”

NFL to Allow ‘Betting Lounges’ in Some Stadiums, While Still Prohibiting Gambling

Inside Sportsbook Lounge, Moneyline Bets, NFL Logo
According to Sports Business Daily, the NFL will allow certain stadiums to operate betting lounges beginning in football season this fall. This comes as a direct response to the sports betting industry boom currently happening across the US. But while the stadium will have these betting lounges on site, the league won’t let you place any actual bets at them.

Chris Halpin, NFL’s chief strategy and growth officer, says that these betting lounges will be put in stadiums where their states allow legal sports gambling. Currently, fourteen states offer legal sports gambling, and more are expected to follow suit in 2020.

“We feel good about how [sports betting has] evolved state by state,” Halpin told ESPN. “We’re more and more excited about how sports betting is developing, and we’re now doing more in the space. We’re very positive about how it’s developing.

“We’re allowing betting lounges,” said Halpin. “Similar to daily fantasy lounges today, in an adult, discreet area, there will be a betting setup, but we’re not going to have betting windows.”

While these new betting lounges show the NFL’s willingness to support a more inclusive sports betting culture more than anything else, they could lay the groundwork for actual betting happening on stadium grounds throughout the country in the future.

Stadiums Will Showcase Designated Sportsbook Sponsor

According to the report, teams will be allowed to assign an official sportsbook sponsor, and have their sponsor’s signage displayed in the stadium, so long as it’s not displayed in the lower bowl of the stadium. Signage must also clearly include the word “sponsor” in it whenever a sportsbook is mentioned.

NFL Recently Warmed up to Betting

For decades, the NFL pushed back against the sports gambling industry, and they pushed back hard. But why? It’s because they saw wagering on football as a direct threat to the integrity of the game as a whole. Now, the NFL has changed their stance on the industry and has come to embrace it.

Instead of viewing sports gambling as a threat to the game, they now see it as a industry that actually boosts fan engagement by allowing fans to get more into the game, and one that massively increases revenues.

Also, with much of the country now jumping on board with legalized sports gambling since the Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports 20 months ago, there’s much less of a negatively associated stigma attached to it.

A Big Year Ahead for Sports Betting

Sports betting is already winning big this year. With media deals being signed so early on in the year, most recently the $163 million stake deal of Barstool Sports by Penn National Gaming, it’s only a sign of more prosperous partnerships to come.

Popular fantasy sports companies, DraftKings and FanDuel, recently just entered into Colorado last month with their Twin River Partnership. The partnership will allow Colorado sports fans to access their award-winning sportsbook products.

Legalization only continues to spread throughout the country, with more than half of U.S. states expected to realistically have legalized betting by the end of year. Sportsbook startups are also popping up, along will apps/tools that continue to make the sports betting process more efficient and convenient for bettors.

Eldorado Holds Job Fair for the Row, Hiring 100+ Workers

Entrance to Eldorado in Las Vegas, Crowd at a Job Fair
Eldorado Resorts is holding a job fair on Wednesday, Feb. 26, to fill more than 100 openings at The Row, the company’s new branding for their three downtown hotel-casinos: Silver Legacy, Circus Circus and Eldorado.

”As we get ready to enter our busy season, we want to ensure we are not only properly staffed in all of our departments, but that all of our team members have enough time to be trained on The Row’s signature family-style service,” spokeswoman Sara Robbins told the Reno Gazette Journal on Monday.

The job fair will be held for eight hours, between 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Row Will Be on Par With Las Vegas Mega-Resorts

The Row is Eldorado’s rebranding of downtown’s tri-properties into one mega-resort, known as The Row. The combining of the three properties will put The Row on equal footing with mega-resorts in places like Las Vegas.

“When you put the Eldorado, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus together, you have a mega-resort that’s just like what you would find in Las Vegas with 25 restaurants, 22 bars, 11 night spots, four entertainment venues and 4,100 rooms all in the heart of downtown Reno,” said Gary Carano, executive chairman of the board of directors for Eldorado resorts.

It’s a mega-resort that competes with any casino around the country and believe me, we know the casinos around the country now.”

Key Developments for Eldorado Resorts Properties

Most notably, Eldorado Resorts is awaiting finalization of its $17.3 billion merger with Caesars Entertainment, which still requires approval from various agencies.

As far as developments go for the actual properties, Circus Circus Reno plans to change their west tower back into rooms for hotel use. Currently, the tower was used for dorm lodging in a $21.6 million deal with the University of Nevada, Reno, which expires on May 16.

With Caesars announcing the sale of Harrah’s Reno to CAI investment, the job security of Harrah’s Reno employees is on the fringe. Eldorado’s spokeswoman, Robbins, says that current Harrah’s employees are encouraged to apply for the Row’s open positions at the job fair this week.

Job Openings

Here’s a look at the various positions looking to be filled ahead of the resort’s busy season:

  • Accounting positions
  • Banquets and catering
  • Food and beverage
  • Entertainment
  • Hotel staff
  • Human resources
  • Housekeeping
  • Casino staff
  • Information technology
  • Carnival Midway
  • Property maintenance
  • Sales
  • Security
  • Special Events
  • Topgolf Swing Suite
  • The Spa

For a list of full job openings at the Row, please visit TheRowReno.com/jobs.

Eldorado’s Enticing Benefits Package

In an effort to incentivize prospective workers, Eldorado Resorts is flaunting their benefits package in conjunction with their onsite Eldorado Family Medical Center. They hope their generous benefits package will encourage more job-seekers to apply, especially in light of Reno’s tight and uncertain job market.

“(Employees) will receive free doctor visits, physicals, lab work, annual wellness checks, flu shots and access to over 50 high-quality generic drugs, helping them save on their out-of-pocket medical expenses each year,” Robbins said. “Team members are able to see a provider within 24 hours of scheduling an appointment without any co-pays or added costs.”

Henderson Will Host Community Meeting on Proposed AHL Arena

People on Hockey Arena Playing Hockey
Next month, the city of Henderson plans to host a community meeting to discuss residents’ concerns and questions regarding the proposal of a minor league hockey arena in the city.

Plans for a 6,000-seat arena were announced earlier this month by city officials. They advised that the current Henderson Pavilion will serve as the building site for the new arena. The Henderson Pavilion, located on 200 S. Green Valley Pkwy, is the largest open-air amphitheater in Nevada and has been used primarily for music performances.

The Pavilion is known for its 40,000-square-foot canopy style roof, which has been severely damaged in weather-related incidents in recent years, naming wind damage. Due to the damage, city officials already began evaluating how to repair and modernize the facility to optimize even greater entertainment opportunities, while preventing further damage to the useable infrastructure.

The City had talks of turning the Pavilion into an enclosed venue, so that events could be held yearlong and not be restricted to months with milder temperatures. However, the announcement of the Vegas Golden Knight’s acquisition of an American Hockey League (AHL) presented an exciting new opportunity during the Pavilion’s phase of reimaging its future use.

According to the City of Henderson website:

“While the City was envisioning the future of the Pavilion as an enclosed venue, the February 6, 2020 announcement by the Vegas Golden Knights (VGK) of their acquisition of an American Hockey League (AHL) team and intention to relocate it to southern Nevada made it clear that there was an opportunity to build upon the successful public-private partnership the City had established with the VGK.

This expanded partnership presents an exciting new opportunity to enhance the current Henderson Pavilion site by creating a 6000-seat family-friendly entertainment venue where the City can host concerts, cultural arts performances, high school and college graduations, youth and club hockey activities, meetings, and other community events in addition to hosting Henderson’s hometown professional hockey team.”

Community Meeting Details

Henderson residents are being encouraged to send over any questions and comments they want addressed to the city through an online submission form.

Community Meeting Details:

Date: Monday, March 9

Start Time: 4 p.m.

Location: Sun City MacDonald Ranch Clubhouse

2020 W Horizon Ridge Pkwy, Henderson, NV 89012

Additional presentations are also set to take place at 5 and 6 p.m.

Vegas New Professional Hockey Team

The Golden Knights announced in the beginning of this month their purchase of the San Antonio Rampage, an AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues, and revealed their plans to relocate the team to the Henderson/Las Vegas area.

Pending approval from the AHL Board of Governors, the San Antonio Rampage will begin their first season at the Orleans Arena before moving to their new home arena.

What is the American Hockey League?

Outside of the National Hockey League, the American Hockey League is the top-level of professional hockey in the US.

One of the big drawing points to having an AHL franchise in the Vegas valley is the chance for fans to see Golden Knights’ top prospects up close.

Prior to the San Antonio Rampage, Las Vegas had two other minor league hockey teams: the Las Vegas Thunder, which played six seasons from 1993 to 1999, and the Las Vegas Wranglers, who played at the Orleans Arena between 2003 o 2014.

Around 100k in Attendance for 2020 Nevada Democratic Caucus

State of Nevada Flag Waving
Up nearly 16,000 people in attendance from 2016’s caucus, which saw close to 84,000 people turn out, this year’s numbers toppled almost 100k, according to the Nevada State Democratic Party.

The vast majority of that number, nearly 75,000 people, showed up to participate in in-person early voting. In-person voting was held at several precinct locations around Nevada over a four-day period.

For Saturday’s designated caucus day, around a quarter of the people showed up, about 25,000 in numbers. Many of those in attendance were first-time caucus-goers, according to a spokesperson for the state party.

Caucus’ Big Winners and Losers

As of Monday, roughly 96 percent of precincts have reported the self-proclaimed democratic socialist, Sanders, as the projected Democratic winner, earning 6,589 county delegates. This was Biden’s best finish thus far, ending in second place. However, Biden could still win South Carolina, where he’s leading in the poles.

After dazzling in the Democratic debate, Senator Warren failed to continue the momentum at the Nevada caucus as she trailed behind. Klobuchar earned the least amount of country delegates, at 595.

A look at the numbers:

Sanders – 6,589

Biden – 2,872

Buttigieg – 1,960

Warren – 1,381

Steyer – 652

Klobuchar – 595

How Sanders Sweeped Nevada

Sanders victory was backed by three distinct, yet overlapping areas of support: Younger voters, liberal voters, and Hispanic voters. The Nevada Culinary Union also poured out their overwhelming support to the democratic candidate.

Sanders win was important ahead of California and Texas, two states with a significant Latino population.

According to the New York Times:

The polls showed Mr. Sanders winning men and women; whites and Latinos; voters in all but the oldest age group (17-29, 30-44 and 45-64); those with college degrees and those without. He was carrying union households and nonunion households, self-identified liberal Democrats (by a wide margin) and moderate and conservative ones (narrowly).

Caucus Affects Democratic Candidates Betting Odds

Nevada’s favorable win for Sanders has put him further in the lead to win the Democratic nomination for the 2020 presidential election.

After the Nevada caucuses, Sanders went from EVEN on Friday to -120, making it the first time the race has been a candidate go below plus odds. While Sanders has a good showing in Nevada and is slated to have a strong showing in South Carolina this week, the landslide victory by Sanders has Biden’s odds up to +1000 from +800.

The following odds are provided by Bovada, as of February 23.

Odds To Win The 2020 Democratic Nomination

Candidate Current February 21 February 12 February 5
Bernie Sanders -120 EVEN +110 +150
Michael Bloomberg +325 +400 +250 N/A
Pete Buttigieg +900 +600 +500 +450
Joe Biden +1000 +800 +1000 +450
Elizabeth Warren +5000 +2000 +2500 N/A
Hilary Clinton +2500 +2000 +2000 +2000
Amy Klobuchar +10000 +4000 +1500 +6600
Tom Steyer +25000 +10000 +15000 +15000
Deval Patrick +25000 +10000 +15000 +25000
Michelle Obama +10000 +10000 +10000 N/A
Tulsi Gabbard +25000 +15000 +20000 +20000

Odds To Win The Democratic South Carolina Primary

Candidate Odds of Winning SC Primary
Bernie Sanders -150
Joe Biden +110
Pete Buttigieg +5000
Tom Steyer +5000
Amy Klobuchar +10000
Elizabeth Warren +10000

Tennessee Sports Betting Rules Still Being Debated, Public Weighs In

Tennessee Flag Inside Tennessee State ShapeTennessee is only a few steps away from announcing how a mobile sportsbook will be run and operated in the state, but differences in the rules governing how it will be regulated is causing an unexpected delay in sports betting being officially launched in the state.

While sports betting became legal over six months ago, the rules finalizing how the licensees will operate is taking longer than expected, and its mostly due to differences in opinions. Currently, the delay is finalizing the rules has been pushed back four separate times.

After a set of meetings were held on Tuesday and Wednesday in an effort to lock down the final form of Tennessee sports betting rules, its gaining public commentary.

Public Comments in Response to Proposed Rules

The rule that seems to be getting the most attention is a clause stating that licensed operators would be required to keep a minimum of 85% of all wagers placed. The issue that people are taking with this is that it’s not working in tandem with sports betting, and is instead more similar to a fixed matrix lottery.

Critics of the 85 percent cap believe the percentage is too low, and handicaps winners earning, restricting the amount that might receive.

Robert Walker, Director of Sportsbook Operations for US Booking and veteran Las Vegas oddsmaker, had this insight to give:

“Any cap or in this case mandatory hold puts a brake on competition.  A straight bet with a 20 cent line (-110 on both sides) is a 4.5% theoretical hold.  In reality we hold much lower than that due to line movement.  Let’s say 3% for arguments sake and our return to players is 97%.

Historically books in Nevada hold much less than 8%. Any type cap like this will eliminate large straight bets as well, forcing those players offshore. We don’t quite understand the repercussions of not holding 8%, however, so there may be some room to maneuver.

At the end of the day handle and hold percentage mean very little. Revenue is all that matters. Any cap negatively impacts our ability to seek optimal revenue.

Locking Down a New Model Hasn’t Been Easy

Tennessee is unique is their rise to legalized sports betting, because they don’t have any land-based casinos or a gaming commission to model their rules on.

“We are the only state that has enacted a statute like this that is solely mobile sports betting,” said Lottery Board Commission Chair, Susan Lanigan. “So, no brick and mortar. we don’t have a gaming commission. We don’t have casinos; so, there’s not a model out there that we can easily follow. So, to a large degree, we’re having to figure this out from scratch. So, it does take time.”

The board will continue to put their heads together with legislature on this matter as the process continues. The main hope at this point is that sports betting will be a possibility for Tennessee residents in time for football season this fall.

Revenue at Encore Boston Drops, Rebounds in State’s Other 2 Casinos

Encore Boston Harbor Casino at SunsetEncore Boston Harbor, a Wynn Resorts property, are showing more drops in gambling revenue. According to a company official, the $2.6 billion property, which only opened up six months ago, has fallen short of revenue projections.

Wynn originally predicted that their Boston casino would earn $800 from gambling within its first year. According to state data, currently Encore Boston Harbor racks in an estimated $50 of gross revenue in gambling operations monthly.

According to the state’s Gaming Commission report on Tuesday, the Everett casino generated $6 million less in revenue in the span of one month, going from $54 million in December, to $49 million in January.

A spokeswoman for the casino says that officials will address the property’s revenue numbers during the company’s next quarterly earnings call.

Revenue is Up at 2 Other Massachusetts Casinos

Two other Massachusetts casinos are on the revenue rise though, MGM Springfield in Springfield and Plainridge Park in Plainville.

MGM Springfield’s gambling revenue increased by $2 million, going from $19 million in December, to $21 million in January. Plainridge Park’s revenue’s number went up a cool $1 million, going from $10 million in December, to $11 million in January.

Wynn’s Plan to Increase Numbers

Currently, Wynn Resorts has stated that they’re in the process of “rightsizing” their operation at the Boston branch.

The casino’s senior vice president of communications, Eric Kraus, told the state’s Gaming Commission that they’re looking into implementing automated drink dispensers. Other Massachusetts casinos have already began using these “robot bartenders.” Kraus believes the move would not only get gamblers their drinks in a timely fashion, but also eliminate an undetermined amount of back-of-house jobs that cut into operating costs.

The approval has been given to start rolling out these automatic drink-dispensing machines.

In an attempt to entice less affluent gamblers to their property in the numbers, the Encore property has lowered the minimum bets required for their table games. They’ve also offered free parking and introduced more budget-friendly food options, including a taco trucks that’s available on the casino floor.

An aerial gondola is also being considered. It would be used as a system that could conveniently transport and connect subway commuters directly with the casino.

About Encore Boston Harbor

The Encore Boston Harbor is one of three Encore properties, after Encore Las Vegas, which opened on December 2008, and Encore at Wynn Macau, which opened on April 2010. From their website:

The casino at Encore Boston Harbor brings glamour on a grand scale to the Mystic riverfront. Enter the main floor—open and airy, colorful and vibrant, with 40-foot ceilings, Red Rubino glass chandeliers, and a dazzling array of classic and state-of-the-art slot machines for every player, at every level. Move upstairs to our elegant terrace level for table games, poker tables, private gambling salons, high-limit gaming rooms, and a spectacular view of the action below. At every turn, welcoming dealers and hosts are dedicated to making your visit easy and enjoyable. It all adds up to an exciting, memorable five-star experience unlike anywhere else in Boston.

Could Esports be New Jersey’s Next Big Gambling Market?

Guy Playing Game on Computer, Esports
Since legalizing sports betting in 2018, New Jersey has only shown positive results from the sports wagering market. In fact, the Garden State hit a new record for the month of January, with over $540 million wagered. That’s more than Las Vegas has ever made in revenue leading up to the month of January, having yet to surpass the $500 million mark.

Casino Retail Revenue Internet Revenue Total Revenue
Bally’s $164,575 $491,164 $655,739
Borgata $723,927 $2,460,264 $3,184,191
Golden Nugget $116,266 $431,643 $547,909
Hard Rock $4,467 $340,933 $336,466
Harrah’s $107,424 $0 $107,424
Ocean Casino $377,369 $1,963,678 $2,341,047
Resorts Casino $163,436 $15,895,379 $16,058,815
Tropicana $100,288 $74,379 $174,667
Meadowlands Racetrack $4,275,047 $22,197,511 $26,472,558
Monmouth Racetrack $833,716 $2,799,094 $3,682,810

With the market in sports wagering doing so well, it points to the realm of esports being the next big, natural extension for the gambling market in New Jersey.

Esports: A Market Made for Millennials

In 2019 alone, data retrieved from Newzoo showed that esport’s global revenue passed the $1 billion mark. By 2023, viewership is projected to reach 646 million, at a steady 9% compounded annual growth rate, according to Business Insider Intelligence.

Extending the law to reach esports would diversify New Jersey’s growth market, especially since the esports market is predominately made of millennials, the generation who grew up on video games. It gives New Jersey a chance to diversify not only their growth channels, but the demographics making up their revenue earnings.

While physical, on-site gambling has typically appealed to the older demographic, online gamblers are by large made up of younger participants. Factor in esports gamblers, and you lower the overall age group of gambling across the different markets.

So far, the legalized sports law has bipartisan support in the lower house of the legislature and support from the state’s gambling regulator.

The Global Rise of Esports

For the past decade really, esports has been on the steady rise in the US, and it only continues to grow in popularity with each passing year. Thanks to the gaming generation and streaming culture, and online platforms like YouTube, Twitch and Mixer, competitive video gaming has become not only extremely popular, but profitable.

In fact, top participants in gaming tournaments are raking in seven-figures. Top players even become recognized celebrities in the world of esports. Video game players can even earn significant amounts of money through paid sponsorships, wearing jerseys with sponsors name with they live stream.

Esports popularity isn’t just found in the US either but has expanded its reach to countries like South Korea, Vietnam, China, Germany, and France, to name a few.

Ocean Resort CEO Reflects on Property’s Progress and Future Plans

Ocean Resort Casino, Atlantic CityLong before it was Ocean Resort Casino, the property was known as Revel, and it had a reputation of being the white elephant of the Atlantic City boardwalk. But why? According to Atlantic City and Philadelphia developer and nearby Showboat Casino owner, Bart Blatstein, it’s the “worst-designed building” he’s ever seen.

“There are so many reasons it failed. How can you have a casino on the Boardwalk and not be able to enter it from there?” questioned Blatstein.

It cost $2.4 billion to build the oddly designed casino, which features a hotel lobby on the 11th floor and casino on the sixth floor. When it finally shut its doors in September 2014, investors weren’t flocking to buy it.

Finally, in January 2018, AC Ocean Walk took a leap of faith and bought the property for a cool $200 million, renaming it Ocean Resort Casino.

Considering its difficult rise to claim Atlantic City acceptance and its inherent architectural issues, it made the revival process a difficult one, but one Ocean Resort CEO Terry Glebocki was willing to fight for.

“The property had a history of being tone deaf to most A.C. customers and we’ve overcome that,” Glebocki said. “We were voted No. 1 casino in A.C. (in 2019 by Atlantic City Press) for best rooms, best comps and best players clubs. That’s because of what we stand for, giving people a fair deal.”

Ocean Revamps their Property

Because of the property’s historical reluctance to prioritize the guest experience, Glebocki made sure to find ways to give guests what they actually want by being mindful of details and what the property has to uniquely offer that you can’t get elsewhere in Atlantic City.

Since the property reopened in June 2018, major forward changes have been made. For one, the current vibe is a lot hipper, and more relaxed. It’s also been transformed into a family-friendly resort.

She also figured out a way to adapt to the property’s unconventional architecture, making for a more seamless transition for guests to get from the hotel lobby to the casino floor, and vice versa.

“Our new elevator bank offers direct access from the hotel level to the casino level, two new elevators now lead guests from the hotel lobby to the casino floor. Customers previously had to take an escalator or elevator that was not near the hotel tower.

Glebocki also diversified the resort’s available dining options, offering up casual restaurants alongside the number of upscale restaurants to balance the mix, giving their variety of guests more freedom to choose what they can eat on-site.

The property has also significantly increased event bookings at their Ovations Hall, with 42 dates booked in 2019, and their rentable beachfront space, which has been a popular space for summer events.

The real winning addition to the property, however, is their Exhale Spa + Bathhouse, being touted as a “tranquil oasis.” According to Glebocki, “Exhale was recently voted the top spa in New Jersey by Spas of America. What sets us apart from our competition is our Turkish style co-ed bathhouse and Himalayan Salt Grotto.”

Plans for the Property in 2020

Atlantic City’s trailblazing CEO will be planning more changes for the property in 2020:

“We will be enhancing and adding new gaming experiences for our guests,” Glebocki said. “We are planning a major investment in a new high-limit slot experience that will position Ocean as a premier gaming destination in Atlantic City. We are also in conversations with our business partners in providing even more amenities and services that will wow our guests.”

About Terry Glebocki

Glebocki is a Lehigh University alum who served as vice president of finance for a few of Donald Trump’s Atlantic City casinos for 23 years. She served in the same capacity at Revel, beginning in 2007, before being promoted to chief financial officer of the company five years later in 2013.

In February 2019, she was appointed as Ocean’s chief financial officer. Last August, she served as the interim CEO after the property’s previous CEO, Eric Matejevich, stepped down. In December, she was named the official CEO of Ocean Resort Casino.

Glebocki is currently the only woman chief executive officer of an Atlantic City casino.

Lucky Texas Gambler Hits $1.3 Million Jackpot at Lake Tahoe Casino

Three Card Poker TableDorothy Boone, of Temple, Texas, has a lot to thank her friends for.

They told Mrs. Boone she should take a family trip down to Lake Tahoe with her husband. Instead of going to Laughlin as originally planned, she took the advice of her friends. It was a decision that paid off tremendously.

On Monday night, Boone hit a three-card poker progressive jackpot at the poker tables at Harveys Lake Tahoe, winning a total jackpot of $1,340,518. It was a warm welcome indeed, as it was the first Lake Tahoe visit for Boone and her husband.

When asked what Boone is planning on doing with the winnings, she says she’s “looking forward to using the money to buy a new house and take her grandchildren to Disney World or Disneyland.”

Other Winners Across the Lake Vegas Valley

  • Wisconsin resident Lana Grebby won $81,851 after hitting the Blazing 7s blackjack jackpot at Flamingo.
  • A lucky Fremont winner won a $31,674.30 fortune on the Abundant Fortune slot machine from a $1.76 bet.
  • Neil J. won $12,500 on the Crazy Money Deluxe VIP slot machine at Treasure Island.

About Harveys Lake Tahoe

Harveys Lake Tahoe is a Caesar’s Entertainment-owned property situated on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore. From their official website:

Elevate your adventure at Harveys Lake Tahoe, the very first casino hotel built on the South Shore. Harveys, which opened in 1944, has a rich tradition of hospitality that you’ll discover around every corner with chic, modern décor in our 740 Lake Tahoe hotel rooms and suites, and in the service provided  by our dedicated team. Walking distance to Heavenly, Harveys gives you easy access to all the four-season thrills that Lake Tahoe has to offer.

Colorado’s Proposed Initiative to Remove Casino Betting Limits

People's Hands Playing PokerCurrently, gamblers in Colorado aren’t allowed to wager more than $100 on a single bet when it comes to trying their hand at blackjack, poker, craps and other games. While this is higher than the limit state voter’s initially approved for back in 1990, a mere $5, it’s been years since the limit has increased.

Voted bet to increase the single bet limit to $100, but there hasn’t been progression on the amount since then. In fact, Colorado is one of only two states in the US that enacts limits on individual bets, the other state being South Dakota. But even South Dakota’s limit is higher, at $1,000 per single bet.

The tides are changing in 2020 though, with a proposal that’s currently being crafted in the state. That proposal would effectively allow Colorado’s three mountain towns, Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek, to remove the betting limit completely.

“These towns have built much of their local economies around hotels, restaurants, tourism and travelers who visit because of gaming. Voters in these communities should be allowed to decide what is best for them and their economy, including whether they want to change betting limits and add new games,” says Bruce Brown, former mayor of Cripple Creek who’s in support of a ballot initiative that would allow that.

Brown is a major proponent of a new ballot initiative that would allow betting limits to change and the addition of new games.

Initiative 157

Both Brown and Bill Cadman, former Colorado Senate president, are pushing to get this initiative, known as Initiative 157, onto Colorado’s ballot in November. If it makes it to the ballot, residents from the three casino towns will have the voice to be able to determine whether the limit will be removed.

It will be quite the road to get Initiative 157 on the November ballot, as it’ll require approximately 125,000 valid signatures submitted by early August. Signatures will also need to be representative of 2% of registered voters in 35 of Colorado’s Senate districts.

Even if that support is gained, 55% of the voters who participate in the 2020 election will still have to approve it. Why? Because the initiative is a direct amendment of the Colorado Constitution. If all goes through, gamers may get to see betting restrictions lifted as early at May 2021.

Mountain Towns Seem in Favor

In regards to lifting the betting limits and adding new games, David Spellman, Black Hawk’s mayor, is all in favor, stating that the cities want to give their players what they want.

“The City of Black Hawk is always in favor of gaming enhancements. As the gaming experience improves, it is more likely the original three host cities will continue to meet the demands of the gaming community.”

Karen Crummy, a spokesperson for the initiative, says it will effectively boost the income of Colorado’s mountain-town casinos.

“If local voters choose to approve new games and betting limits, mountain casinos could attract higher-income Coloradans who would typically travel to other states to gamble, as well as out-of-state, high-stakes bettors visiting Aspen or Vail.”

Proposed Casino Resort in South Richmond Awaits Public Approval

Downtown Richmond Virginia VIRGINIA — A forum organized Thursday by councilwoman Ellen Robertson, including a Pamunkey Indian Tribe representative and Richmond leaders, has been set up to give Richmond residents from the 6th district the opportunity to learn more the proposed casino resort that the Pamunkey Tribe are hoping to make a reality in the state’s capitol.

Thursday’s forum will include leaders from the civic and community realms, including Robert Gray, Tribal Government Chief of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, William Smith, Richmond’s Police Chief, Mark Olinger, director of Richmond’s Department of Planning and Development Review, and Leonard Sledge, director of Richmond’s Department of Economic and Community Development.

The meeting is scheduled to run for two hours, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. local time, and will be held at the Bellemeade Community Center.

Casino Details

The Pamunkey Tribe wants to bring a ‘world-class’ resort and casino, a $350 million investment, to Richmond’s Manchester neighborhood.

Four parcels of land on the city’s Southside are either under contract by the tribe or have been purchased by them. The tribe plans to develop the mega resort off Ingram Avenue and Commerce Road, where three parcels of land, totaling 36 acres, are available for their use.

The fourth parcel of tribe-affiliated land is 13-acres worth and located off Jefferson Davis Highway, near Walmsley Blvd. According to the tribe, they would use this off-site parcel property initially as a workforce training facility. Once hiring for the resort is complete, the Jefferson David property will then serve as a beneficial space for the surrounding community, possibly a health clinic or grocery store.

The resort and casino is planned to have a four-diamond, 275-room hotel tower offering ‘stunning views of the James River and Downtown.’ A spa and fitness center, and pool are among the featured amenities. There will also be several exciting dining options, including a luxury steak and seafood restaurant, a sports bar and grill, a buffet, and food court.

“We are very excited about our plans to bring a great resort and casino to Richmond,” said Robert Gray, Chief of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe. “Not only does this help fulfill the government’s intent to use gaming to help us secure our future, but it will also be a great economic boost for the City of Richmond and its citizens.”

Legalized Casino Gambling in Virginia

Currently, Virginia doesn’t allow tribal casinos or commercial casinos, and the state hasn’t been able to be easily budged when it comes to their stance on the issue, but that’s starting to change recently. With legalized gambling becoming more streamlined throughout the country, it’s making Virginia take a close, hard look at how it could benefit their state.

In the beginning of February, the bill to legalize commercial casinos in the state was approved by the Senate General Laws and Technology Subcommittee on Gaming. Next to follow-suit are state officials, with a majority of them thus far giving the green light.

Resident approval will be the last important, crucial piece of the legalization puzzle. If the majority of voters give their approval, the Pamunkey Tribe’s envisioned casino could become a reality, as well as other casino venues in the state.

Hilton Brand Plans Return to Strip with New Las Vegas Hotels

Former Las Vegas Hilton HotelHilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. is ready to bring their iconic Hilton brand back to the Las Vegas Strip.

According to a statement provided by both companies, Hilton will operate three hotels in conjunction with Genting Group’s Resorts World Las Vegas, the $4.3 billion resort set to open next summer. The new deal marks Hilton’s largest multi-brand deal throughout their company’s history.

“Together, Resorts World and Hilton are bringing back the essence of The Las Vegas Hilton, once the largest hotel in the world and synonymous with gaming, conventions and entertainment in Las Vegas, with this multi-brand development,” the release said.

The partnership will include three separate Premium Hilton properties: Hilton Hotels & Resorts, which will be the larger property featuring 1,700 rooms, LXR and Conrad – into Resorts World Las Vegas. Conrad, the smallest of the three properties featuring 1,500 rooms, is being designed specifically to cater to high-rollers and Hilton’s growing rank of loyalty program members.

“Our 100 million members are very eager to be there and we’ve heard about that for many years until we’ve had this chance to return,” said Greg Hartmann, a senior vice president of development at Hilton.

Resorts World Las Vegas, the 3,500-room resort that plans to include a 5,000-seat theater, 350,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, and a 220,000-square-foot pool complex, will be apart of Hilton Honor’s guest-loyalty program as well.

The Old Hilton Las Vegas

Built in 1969 by casino magnate Kirk Kerkorian, the original Las Vegas Hilton originally opened at the International Hotel. In 1970, it was sold to Hilton and renamed the Las Vegas Hilton one year later. At the time, it was once the world’s largest hotel.

Fast forward to 1998, Caesars Entertainment took ownership of the Hilton and sold it to Colony Capital in 2004. When Colony defaulted on loan payment, Goldman Sachs stepped in and took an ownership stake in 2011. In 2012, Hilton terminated its licensing agreement on the property, and the hotel was renamed LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino.

In its heyday, the hidden jewel among the off-Strip hotels was ranked among the world’s most famous and popular destinations. It was even considered Elvis’ “home” headquarters in Sin City. When it was in operation, the property boasted up to 3,000 rooms and suites.

More fun facts about the original Hilton’s early history:

  • The 64-acre lot was home to the Las Vegas Park Speedway, which ran as a horse and auto racing facility, in the 1950s.
  • The opening-night act in 1969 was Barbra Streisand.
  • In 1969, Elvis played 58, consecutive should-out shows to over 130,000 fans.
  • Presley had a residence at the property until December 1976.

About the Hilton Brand

Currently, the Hilton Brand operates 17 different hospitality brands, ranging from luxury, upscale full service, all suites full service, midscale economy, economy, and timeshare.

The Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand description from their official website:

For nearly a century, Hilton Hotels & Resorts has been proudly welcoming the world’s travelers. With more than 575 hotels across six continents, Hilton Hotels & Resorts provides the foundation for exceptional travel experiences and values every guest who walks through its doors. The most recognized name in the industry, Hilton remains synonymous with the word “hotel.” From inaugural balls and Hollywood award galas to business events and days to remember, Hilton is where the world makes history, closes the deal, toasts special occasions and gets away from it all. As the flagship brand of Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts continues to set the standard for hospitality, providing new product innovations and services to meet guests’ evolving needs.

Downtown Grand Tops off Third Tower, Final Phase of Development

Downtown Grand Hotel & CasinoThe Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino are nearing completion of the expansive, third tower addition to their property, which first broke ground a little over a year ago. The new tower is adding a generous 250,000 square feet of hospitality space, with 495 new rooms to tack onto the property’s existing 629 rooms. The tower has seven total guest-room floors.

“The topping out of our newest tower is an energizing milestone for all of us at the property,” said John Culetsu, VP and Managing Director of the Downtown Grand. “We are in the final phases of development and closer to the ultimate goal of extending our revered guest experience to many more travelers. We look forward to delivering the city’s newest room product this fall.”

The new tower plans to begin hotel bookings by spring, and ready for guests officially check-ins this September.

Third Tower Boosts Property’s Aesthetic

Located on the east side of the property, Downtown Grand’s third tower is a sleek, redefining architectural feature that stands at the corner of 4th and Ogden, within clear pedestrian view. With its contemporary exterior architecture, featuring clean lines and a modern, neutral color scheme, it’s a ramped-up boost to the property’s overall street presence.

The towel also features a versatile new entrance that leads to the main hotel casino floor.

Suite Upgrades

The Downtown Grand seeks to provide the modern traveler with a unique “boutique hotel experience.” With that goal in mind, the third toward has also upgraded its suites to include a premier room list offering 67 studio units, 20 one-bedroom suites, and three Presidential Suites. The Presidential Suites include the largest square footage, with close to 1,500 square feet of entertainable space.

Downtown Grand Continues to Pioneer the Way

Since 2013, Downtown Grand has been the pioneering mecca for downtown travelers looking to experience an industrial, futuristic-chic atmosphere in an area of Las Vegas more commonly known by its stark contrast as “Old Vegas” or “Vintage Vegas.”

The hotel launched during Downtown Las Vegas’ exciting resurgence. During this pivotal turning point in Downtown history, mega online shoe and clothing retailer, Zappos, relocated their headquarters downtown, Fremont East District was developed, and the Life is Beautiful Music Festival first launched.

Downtown Grand continues to adapt with the times and serve as a central hub for Downtown Las Vegas’ latest events and happenings. Now, more Vegas visitors and locals alike will get a chance to enjoy its sleek, boutique hotel experience with the latest addition of their third tower.

About Downtown Grand

From Downtown Grand’s website:

Downtown Grand was awarded the 2019 TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence, Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino is a unique hospitality and entertainment destination right in the heart of revitalized downtown Las Vegas. Located on 3rd Street between Ogden and Stewart, Downtown Grand encompasses an entire urban block of hotel, casino and dining amenities.

With its third hotel tower under construction and set to open in 2020, the property currently features an 18-story and 25-story tower adjoined by a walking bridge elevated over 3rd Street, with 629 guest rooms and suites offering luxury accommodations that set a new standard for sophistication and style in downtown Las Vegas.

Downtown Grand’s casino offerings include 25,000 square feet of gaming space with nearly 500 of the hottest slot machines, table games and a fully featured sports book powered by William Hill.

Restaurants, bars and entertainment options include Freedom Beat, Furnace Bar, Art Bar, Sidebar, The Spare Room Showroom, and the award-winning Las Vegas steakhouse Triple George Grill. Partnering venues include the famous Hogs & Heifers saloon and Pizza Rock, renowned as one of the best pizza restaurants in the city.

Downtown Grand features Citrus Grand Pool Deck, a rooftop pool experience with more than 35,000 square feet of entertainment and special event space, an infinity pool, restaurant and bar, semi-private cabanas, a fire pit and a grass seating area.

Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino is a member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts Connect Collection. All guests of are eligible to enroll in the I Prefer hotel rewards program, which extends points redeemable for cash-value Reward Certificates, elite status, and special benefits such as complimentary Internet to members upon every stay at more than 700 participating Preferred Hotels & Resorts locations worldwide.

For more information, call (702) 719-5100 or go to DowntownGrand.com.

N.J. Earns $837m from Mobile Sports Bettors in N.Y., Stats Put Pressure On Albany

Casino Slot Machine Floor, State of New Jersey
After a new study reported that New Jersey has received a mind-boggling $837 million in sports bets from mobile gamblers that live in New York, the pressure is on to legalize mobile sports betting in the Empire State.

New York is losing out in millions in tax revenue dollars, and with the state facing a whopping $6 billion deficit, the time to bet on legalized sports betting is now. One lawmaker is looking to change the current start of legalized mobile wagering as soon as possible, to prevent losing out even further.

State Senator, Joseph Addabbo, one of the biggest advocates of legalizing mobile sports betting in the state, said New York is “losing money in terms of educational funding. We are losing job growth. We’re losing the fact that we have an illegal activity already going on here in sports betting — we’re not recapturing that revenue. So, New York is losing out on a very large, growing market at this point.”

In response to whether New York has a market for legalized sports betting? Addabbo said confidently:

“Oh yes, our residents can’t wait to do this. They want accessibility in their own state. They want to do it in a safe environment, legally, in their own state. They are tired of going to New Jersey. They are tired of having an offshore, European online account, where it is questionable where their money is. They want to make sure they’re using the organized, regulated, safe mobile sports betting right here in New York state.”

Mobile Sports Betting Standstill in N.Y.

While Senator Addabbo is all for legalizing mobile sports betting in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo is on the opposing side. Cuomo didn’t include mobile sports betting revenue in his executive budget for the 2021 fiscal year, even going as far as calling online betting “irresponsible” in his state address.

According to Cuomo, “this is not the time to come up with creative although irresponsible revenue sources to solve a problem which doesn’t really exist.”

The time is ticking to get the governor on board for mobile sports gambling legalization. According to Addabbo, the state has until March to do just that. And their best bet is getting it put into the budget:

“We can introduce a separate bill, but it’s much more likely if it goes in the budget,” Addabbo said.

Legal Sports Betting in N.Y.

Although legalized mobile betting isn’t a possibility in the state as of now, Governor Cuomo has included a small sports betting expansion in his budget proposal.

Currently, on-site sports betting is allowed at authorized casinos, and restricted to those casino’s designated sports lounge areas. Cuomo’s expansion would allow gamblers to bet anywhere on casino grounds, not just the designated sports lounge areas.

The authorized New York casinos include: Resorts World Catskills, Rivers Resort & Casino Schenectady; Tioga Downs, and del Lago Casino & Resort.

In full-service casinos operated by the Akwesasne Mohawk, Oneida, and Seneca nations, sports betting in their lounges is also permissible.

Mayor Lightfoot Continues Pushing for Chicago Casino in Springfield

Illinois State Flag, Casino Slot Machine
On Tuesday, Illinois Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a major proponent for Chicago getting its own casino, met with legislators in Springfield in a play to push progress forward in making the casino dream a reality for the city.

While Lightfoot’s November pitch for locking down what she believes would be an incredible revenue source for the state went amiss, Tuesday’s meeting seemed much more promising. Lightfoot said great conversations were had and she believes steps were made in the direction for a casino being built in the Windy City.

Lightfoot has been working hard to recruit the right players needed to further her Casino cause. Last year, she even took it up to the Capitol to rally up more support. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to get the additional support she was looking for, with some lawmakers even requesting a slice of the Chicago casino revenue pie for their districts.

Capitol lawmakers cited their concerns of regionalism, and why they should even help Chicago in this pursuit. Eventually though, the lawmakers came to an agreement and decided to support Lightfoot’s plan.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that the support that was there is solid and that we get the additional votes that we need to get it over,” Lightfoot said.

Issues with a Chicago Casino

The major concern surrounding a casino being built in Chicago is the tax structure for possible developers. The tax structure came into light after a state-commissioned study called the taxes too burdensome for any real profit to be turned.

The state’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability released a report earlier this month that found that the revenue from state’s 10 existing casinos, and the generated tax dollars made from them, have been on a consecutive seven-year decline.

The report begs the question of a Chicago casino being profitable, and raises concern of its necessity in the city.

Tuesday’s Meeting with the Caucus

In Springfield, Lightfoot met with both Republican and Democratic legislators. The four legislative leaders included the Senate Democrats, Republican caucuses, and Chicago democrats from both chambers.

The trip to the Illinois House Republican caucus marks Lightfoot’s second visit since taking office. There, she addressed concerned from legislative leaders and provided the outline of her gaming proposal.

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, said that by Lightfoot speaking to the caucus directly, she’s making a big difference by representing the state from top to bottom.

“It was great to have Mayor Lightfoot in front of our caucus today,” Harmon said. “She made a compelling case for why it’s important for the whole state that we clean up the gaming bill.”

If Approved, Chicago Will be the Largest American City to Have a Casino

Chicago has been pushing for a Las Vegas-style casino for years, in what Lightfoot and other supporters say will indefinitely boost tourism and be the much-needed revenue source the city needs. If state lawmakers give the casino the green light, it will be massive.

A Chicago casino would even be large enough to compete with those on the Las Vegas Strip, as lawmakers approved nearly 4,000 gambling positions, slots or table seats. Famous Las Vegas casinos, such as Caesars Palace and Aria, by contrast, have around 1,500 slots per casino.

Atari to Open Video Game-Themed Resort in Las Vegas

View of Las Vegas, Atari Logo
Atari, the popular video game development company, responsible for pumping out video game classics such as Asteroids, Pong, and Missile Command, is trying their gamer hands in the tourism market now, too. They’ve recently revealed plans to build eight one-of-a-kind gamer-friendly hotels throughout popular U.S. cities throughout the country.

Unlike traditional resorts, Atari is looking to create a new experience, specifically geared toward gamers, that gamers won’t find staying anywhere else.

The Atari game-themed resorts are targeting family and business travelers that have a love for gaming. It will include immersive entertainment gaming options, such as virtual and augmented reality, with some properties featuring art studios and custom, high-tech venues to specifically host esports events.

Thanks to a deal struck with GSP Group, a strategy company focused on developing innovative, architectural design solutions, the first of the Atari Hotel group chain will debut sometime in the middle of this year, in Phoenix, AZ.

After Atari breaks ground in Phoenix, they plan to expand their reach to Las Vegas and six other U.S. cities, though a definitive timeline has yet to be set. The other planned host locations are Denver, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, San Jose, and Austin.

“We are thrilled to partner with GSD Group and True North Studio to build the first-ever Atari branded hotels across the United States. Together we’ll build a space that will be much more than just a place to stay,” said Atari’s CEO, Fred Chesnais.

Esports Rising Popularity in Las Vegas

The announcement of the new gamer-themed resorts comes at an opportune time, during the esports boom not only in the country, but in Las Vegas specifically. Millennials being the prominent demographic of those who partake in esports makes it an even more exciting draw for local tourism authorities looking to draw in the younger crowd to Las Vegas.

This new-age spectator sport, that appeals to a generation hooked on video games, isn’t child’s play though. It’s a serious competition that fills arenas, easily granting top competitors with serious, seven-figure salaries to boot.

From underserved market to one that’s catching the eye of investors, esports is finally making its long-awaited splash in the gaming industry. According to Robert Rippee, director of the Hospitality and Esports Lab at UNLV’s International Gaming Institute:

“Esports is growing to the point that it’s approaching mainstream interest. When hotel companies and investors are building entire hotel products around the product line, it has grown sufficiently to catch the interest of capital investors and developers.”

About Atari

Created in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, Atari is the original arcade game pioneer that has successfully branched into home video game consoles and home computer play.

The brand name itself means “Revolution, Entertainment and Technology,” and their applying their original, founding concepts to the groundbreaking efforts they’re continuing to make today.

According to their website, the Atari brand is developed with a multi-media approach:

“Atari is known as a globally recognized brand that transcends generations and audiences and for its multi-platform, interactive entertainment and licensed products… We own and/or manage more than 200 games and franchises including world-renowned brands like:

Asteroids®, Centipede®, Missile Command®, and hold the license for RollerCoaster Tycoon®.

Atari Games is the DNA of the Atari Group, exploiting more than 200 video games. This also includes Atari Casino, multimedia activities with Atari Studios, and Licensing.

In addition, we believe that blockchain technology is poised to take a very important place in our world and to transform the current economic ecosystem, especially in the video game world and in many aspects of the digital entertainment industry. We are working on a platform based on blockchain technology, which will have its own cryptocurrency called the Atari Token.”

Todd English’s Olives Restaurant Returns to Virgin Hotel This Fall

Chef Todd English, Virgin Hotels Logo
American celebrity chef and restaurateur Todd English is bringing back his Mediterranean-inspired restaurant Olives back to Las Vegas this fall. Todd English’s Olives first debuted inside of the Bellagio in October 1998, and officially closed its doors in 2008 to make room for Wolfgang Puck’s Spago.

Now, the celebrity chef is making his splash again in the city that he loves, and at the most excitingly progressive time.

Not only is he rehoming his beloved restaurant at the new Virgin Hotel this fall, the modern rebrand of the former iconic Hard Rock Hotel, but he also has plans to open up a contemporary food hall inside of Vegas’ new experiential retail, art, and entertainment space, Area 15, which opens to the public this spring.

Plans to Open Food Hall Inside Area 15

English has also partnered up with the brand-new entertainment complex, Area 15, to open an unnamed food hall that will be serving up a menu straight out of his imagination.

According to a press release, Area 15 patrons will be able to “dine among large-scale art installations, music, performance and other” activities upon its official launch.

A comparable, modern food hall concept in the valley is Block 16 Urban Food Hall, located in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. It features outstanding national eateries, including its most recent Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, a staple foodies could only once enjoy in Nashville.

District: Donuts is another favorite hailing from New Orleans, serving up delectable donuts, sliders, and brews that are all made from scratch every morning, beginning at 6 a.m.

Other Virgin Hotel Dining Options

Todd English’s Olives will be joining other exciting dining options at Virgin Hotel, including Nobu, Hard Rock’s 20-year veteran that’s scheduled to return with the Virgin Hotel opening, MB Steak, Pizza Forte, Commons Club, Virgin Hotels’ flagship food & beverage concept – a restaurant/longue located directly off the hotel’s main entrance that will serve up a globally inspired menu, an unnamed Thai restaurant hailing from Los Angeles, and a coffee bar from Hugh Jackman.

Hugh Jackman’s Laughing Man company will open up their conceptual Funny Library Coffee Shop, in what’s imagined to be a “communal workspace” that’s loaded with “an assortment of whimsical yet inspirational books.” One of those books will be Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 classic “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas”.

Aside from being a communal workspace, it will offer grab-and-go bites and specially sourced coffee blends from Jackman’s company.

About Virgin Hotels

According to Virgin’s website, the Virgin Hotel brand seeks to “intermix a passion for food and beverage, music and culture, fusing along with the local landscape and providing a vibrant and inclusive environment for travelers and locals alike.”

The Las Vegas branch will join several other national locations including Nashville, Dallas, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, New York, Silicon Valley, and Palm Springs. Virgin Hotels has also made a global splash with their location in Edinburgh, and they plan to have more locations to follow.

Virgin Hotels Chicago was named the “​#1 Hotel in United States”​ by Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’​ Choice Awards 2016 and “​#1 Hotel in Chicago”​ by Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’​ Choice Awards in both 2016 and 2017.

About Area 15

Area 15 is an innovative new entertainment complex opening spring 2020 that’s a “transformative blend of art, commerce, food, drink, design, technology and innovation.”

According to their website, Area 15 was inspired by creativity and is an “edgy, interactive, trend-ahead mall and performance complex that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality.”

It’s being touted as a “geek-chic playground that appeals to those that crave the extraordinary and desire the unexpected.”

The space will feature unique art installations, out-of-the-box retailers, sought-after dining options, and be used as an event space for immersive experiences, including musical performances, festivals, corporate events, private parties, esports tournaments and more.

Sports Betting in Illinois Will Go Live in Time for March Madness

Basketball on Two TV ScreensJust in time for one of the biggest sport’s betting events of the year, March Madness, sports betting in Illinois will finally go live.

That gives sports bettors in the state a lot to celebrate about. Not only will Illinois bettors be able to bet at casino sportsbooks, but they will be able to bet through those casino’s mobile apps as well. After sports betting officially goes live, after 18 months, mobile sports betting will only be available through online casinos, such as FanDuel and DraftKings.

According to Governor JB Pritzker’s press secretary, Jordan Abudayyeh:

“The Governor is pleased that Illinois sportsbooks will open for business by March Madness, generating revenue to rebuild universities, hospitals and other facilities across the state,” Abudayyeh said.

While no official date has been released for sports betting to go live, it will likely be before March 17, which is the first game of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament.

How Illinois Has Been Preparing for Sports Betting

In Illinois, three casinos issued out temporary sports betting operating permits. Those casinos include Des Plaines’ Rivers Casino, Alton’s Argosy Casino, and Elgin’s Grand Victoria Casino.

Last June, the General Assembly passed a mass gambling expansion package, and have been ironing out the details and rules that would govern sports betting since then.

Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Summit, a key player who helped push sports betting legislation through the General Assembly, remained optimistic throughout the long process that led up to this point. He offered this optimistic foresight into the state of sports betting last month:

“I think with the introduction of the second round of rules that were introduced last week … I expect that hopefully we will be able to place a legal sports bet by March Madness – that’s my aspirational goal,” Zalewski said. “I hope for March Madness but the sooner the better. A lot of work went into this and I’m excited about the opportunity.”

March Madness Sports Betting Stats

According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), an estimated $8.5 billion was wagered during last year’s March Madness alone. With more states offering legalized sports betting, that number is only expected to increase.

Here are AGA’s current statistics for March Madness betting:

  • 47 million adults in the US will wager on the NCAA Tournament.
  • 40 million people will fill out a bracket and wager $4.6 billion doing so.
  • 18 million Americans will bet $3.9 billion at some form of sportsbook.
  • 2.4 million will bet with an illegal bookie.
  • 5.2 million will bet on an illegal offshore website.
  • 4.1 million will wager through a regulated retail or online sportsbook.

Types of March Madness Bets

Futures of one of the most popular bets you can place during March Madness, and they are bets you can make all season long. The most common type of futures bet is picking the winner of the national championship. Other futures bets including choosing which conference will win the title, and which player will be crowned “most outstanding player.”

Happy betting, Illinois!

Caesars-Eldorado Merger Deal Pending New Jersey’s Approval

Ariel View of Atlantic CityThe $17.3 billion merger between Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Eldorado Resorts Inc. is still dependent on approval from 14 state regulatory agencies and the Federal Trade Commission, including New Jersey.

So far, four state regulatory bodies have approved of the merger, including Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Iowa and Illinois.

The merger will grant Eldorado Resorts control of close to 60 casinos in the country. While no explicit deadline for New Jersey regulators to make an approval decision on the merger decision has been set, gaming operators expect a deal finalization within the first half of 2020.

One reason New Jersey could be delaying approval are concerns they’ve cited over the economic concentration the deal would cause in the state, and Atlantic City turning into something of a monopoly.

Dan Heneghan, former public information officer for the Casino Control Commission (now retired) and former casino beat reporter for The Press of Atlantic City, said state gaming regulators are “concerned about economic concentration in the casino industry for many of the same reasons that the (federal) Justice Department is concerned about monopolies in industry in general.”

“If you have a monopoly, or something close to a monopoly, there’s always the concern that the big player can effectively set prices,” Heneghan said.

Back in September, Caesars Entertainment and Eldorado Resorts presented a joint petition to NJ regulators, and stated their intentions of providing an economic analysis that would disprove their merger would cause an undue economic concentration.

New Jersey and Atlantic City Play Major Role in Deal

Since the newly formed company will control nearly half of the resort’s casinos (four out of the nine total casinos), New Jersey and AC will play a major role in the deal. Under its current designations, the company merger will employ 40% of casino industry workers in Atlantic City and represent almost 37% of their total gaming revenue.

Currently, Caesars Entertainment has three outstanding deed restrictions on former casino properties. Those include the former Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, the Claridge Hotel and the Showboat Hotel Atlantic City. These restrictions disallow them to operate as gaming parlors and adds some stress to the current deal.

The Attorney General’s Office, who advised that New Jersey gaming regulators would also be retaining an expert, said this in an email:

“As required by law, the Division is responsible for ensuring the honesty, integrity and financial stability of casino licensees. Part of this process is analyzing the economic impact of casino acquisitions such as the Eldorado / Caesars merger. As part of this process the Division has retained an economic expert to assist with the review of this merger.”

About the Caesars-Eldorado Merger Deal

Eldorado Resorts $17.3 billion acquisition of Caesars Entertainment is slated to become the world’s largest casino operator in terms of gaming assets. To acquire 51% of Caesars, Eldorado will pay $7.2 billion in cash and 77 million shares of stock, as well as taking on Caesars’ existing debt.

Upon regulatory approval, Caesars will merge with Eldorado subsidiary Colt Merger Sub Inc and a new, wholly owned Eldorado subsidiary will exist and operate under the Caesars name.

Station Proposed for Virgin Trains, Near Las Vegas South Premium Outlets

Virgin Train in Train StationThe Virgin Train, the country’s first high-speed bullet train of its kind that will connect passengers between Nevada and Victorville, California by 2023, recently submitted documents to Clark Country for the train terminal’s proposed location.

The proposal is requesting almost 160,000 square feet for the train station with a terminal location south of Las Vegas Blvd., near Blue Diamond Road, across from the Las Vegas South Premium Outlets.

The terminal’s south-end location would make it easier to host large groups of transient passengers, as it’s a more open area of the city, but still close enough to get to the Las Vegas Strip. The Las Vegas South Premium Outlets are a little over four miles away from the Mandalay Bay Resort, the Strip’s ending casino.

Train Station Details

In details provided in the proposal, the train station will feature two stories and a basement, with a total height of 60 feet. In conjunction will be a seven-story parking garage, holding up to 2,700 spaces.

The station will include two entrances from Eldorado Lane. A bus drop-off area will also be accounted for and made available, and space for taxis and ride-share vehicles to get passengers to-and-from the station with ease.

Expected Debut

Plans to start construction on the new labor-intensive bullet train project is set to begin during the second half of the year and is expected to take nearly three years to complete. However, delays in bonds to help fund the $4.8 billion project could delay the break of the groundwork this year.

About Virgin Trains

With their headquarters in London and Birmingham, Virgin Trains has been a high-speed transportation provider on the West Coast Main Line tracks for over 20 years, first born in 1997. They have a fleet of over 70 Pendolino and Super Voyagers trains in the UK. From their website:

Running up to a vision-blurring 125mph with free onboard entertainment, a proper walk-in shop and comfy seats; we make journeys memorable. We go out of our way to make every second spent with us completely awesome. And, if we can have a good time while doing it, we believe we’ll do a better job. Plus it’s more fun.

They have stations in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Lake District, York, and Sleeper.

Virgin Trains USA

The Brightline rail service partnered with recently introduced Virgin Trains USA to build privately-funded passenger rail systems in locations in the US. Last year, they launched their first service in Florida between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with future plans to expand into Orlando and Tampa.

The Las Vegas – Southern California connecting rail system is the latest exciting project they’ve revealed and plan to start working on within the year.

Milestone Deal Gets Signed to Bring Dream Hotels Brand to Las Vegas

Las Vegas Welcome Sign, Las Vegas Strip in the BackgroundLocal developers, Contour and Shopoff Realty Investments, signed with hotel and brand management company Dream Hotel Group today to announce plans to debut their iconic, flagship Dream Hotels brand in Las Vegas.

They plan to have the free-standing, luxury lifestyle hotel located on the Las Vegas Strip and open for business in 2023.

The hotel will be centrally located on Las Vegas Blvd., and be clearly visible from the world-famous Welcome to Las Vegas sign. It will sit across from Mandalay Bay Resort, adjacent to McCarran International Airport’s private aviation terminal.

Being only two short blocks from the brand new Allegiant Stadium, the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders, and a short distance from T-Mobile Arena, Dream Hotel Las Vegas will be in a  prime position to capitalize on Las Vegas’ major south-end developments.

Hotel Features

The hotel will feature 450 chic guest rooms and suites, several exciting dining and entertainment options (including nightlife venues), three feature restaurants, two bar and lounge concepts on the casino floor, rooftop pool deck, bar and lounge, grab-and-go street level café, 12,000 square feet of private meeting and event space, full-service space, fitness center, and on-site parking.

The contemporary, innovative design that will streamline throughout the property is being headed by DLR Group, a global architectural firm that’s been assigned as designer and executive architect on the project. DLR Group is working closely with McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., a national general contractor, to build the luxury 21-story hotel tower.

Construction is set to begin in early 2021.

Other Dream Hotel Properties

The news of the Las Vegas signing came on the heels of four other recent signings, three north American additions, and one global addition. Those include Dream San Antonio, Dream Memphis, The Bight by Dream Hotel Group in Turks and Caicos, and Emma & Elissa by Dream Hotel Group in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

About Dream Hotels

Dream Hotels is a luxury lifestyle brand that seeks to incorporate upscale amenities, exceptional service, and built-in nightlife as a part of their guest’s stay. They describe their hotel experience as appealing to guests and their alter ego. From their website:

“We’ve built our entire brand around you and your perfect getaway. Inside each Dream Hotel, you’ll appreciate upscale amenities, obsessive-meets-compulsive service, built-in nightlife that seems to come naturally, and rare, raw energy drawn from some of the most stimulating cities in the world.

We don’t just offer beds to lay your head on for a night or two – we provide an introduction to a brand-new lifestyle. We’ll show you the finest art, architecture, and design, a space for balanced health and well-being, the latest fashion collaborations and musical artists, and state-of-the-art technology right in the comfort of your own room. It’s time to try something different and push the boundaries of your expectations for a hotel stay.”

Currently, Dream Hotels has 16 hotels in operation today, and more than 20 other locations in various development stages worldwide.

14 Illegal Gambling Operations in Michigan Get Shut Down by State

Poker Cards Laid Out, Stacked Casino Chips
Outside of licensed casinos, slot machines are illegal to operate in the state of Michigan. While redemption games are legal in the state, investigators found that 14 businesses were claiming to offer redemption games when they were in fact casino-style video slot machines.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office and the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) joined forces in 2019 to issue cease-and-desist orders to businesses throughout the state that were offering illegal slot games.

Rather than potentially facing criminal charges, each business decided to close. Should the businesses have chosen to remain open, they could have faced some serious charges. Unlicensed gambling business operators could be dealt a 10-year felony charge.

Two of the 14 businesses have reopened since closing down.

“Illegal gambling can lead to money laundering and other crimes that impact the safety and security of Michigan communities,” said Richard S. Kalm, MGCB executive director, in a press release. “Legal gambling is taxed and regulated, and taxes go back into the community as funding for K-12 education. An illegal gambling operation doesn’t support the community but instead siphons funds away from it.”

Redemption Games Versus Casino-Style Slots

The biggest defining factor between casino-style slots and redemption games is that casino-style slots are based on chance, while redemption games are based on skill.

Redemption machines feature rolls of computerized cannisters that are spun. When the final row comes on the screen, players can either “nudge” it to a win or a loss. Players of skill redemption games say that the machine gives broad hints on how to nudge their final row of play.

Another big different is that redemption games don’t pay the players in cash, but instead print out tickets that the player can redeem for gift cards or merchandise.

“Whether they are a skill-based game is subject to interpretation,” said Andrea Brancato of the Michigan Lottery. “They have not officially been determined to be illegal.”

The 14 Locations Given Cease-And-Desist Orders

  • Atlantis Internet Café, 759 East St., Lapeer.
  • Bingo City, 4443 Dixie Highway, Waterford. Operation has since reopened.
  • Burton Redemption Center, 5515 Davison Road, Burton.
  • Fortunes Skilled Gaming Lounge, 1777 South Cedar St., Imlay City.
  • Jackpot Island Café, 700 S. Main St., Lapeer.
  • Jewlz Haven, 66783 Gratiot, Richmond.
  • Lucky’s 7160 Highland Road, Waterford.
  • Lucky’s Skill Game Café, 66830 Van Dyke, Washington Township.
  • Monte Carlo Café, 723 South State Road, Davison
  • Oakland County
  • Spinners 777, 43648 Schoenherr, Sterling Heights.
  • Stoney Creek Internet Café, 2040 Whittaker Road, Ypsilanti.
  • The Nudgemaster Café, 3514 Plainfield Ave., Grand Rapids. Cafe reopened in January.
  • Waterford Redemption Center, 3687 Highland Road, Waterford.
  • X-Tech Internet Café, 290 South Telegraph, Pontiac.

State of Gambling in Michigan

While on-site gambling is legal and plentiful in the state of Michigan, online sports betting has currently been delayed until what lawmakers are estimating a debut date of 2021. The delay is due to the development of online rules that would adequately govern it, for the industries of online poker, online casino games, sports betting, and fantasy sports.

Sports Betting in South Dakota Takes a Step Forward

Basketball Going Through Net
On February 11, the Senate Joint Resolution passed the Senate in a 24-10 vote, pushing South Dakota further toward legalization.

Senate Joint Resolution 501 was first introduced on Jan. 30, 2020: 20 of the states 30 Republicans votes in its favor, with four out of five Democrats also in favor. With the passing vote, it has been sent to the state House for consideration.

If sports betting becomes legalized, the earliest the state could see it come to fruition would be Summer 2021. This would be dependent on the approval of the House and votes, of course. Mike Rodman, executive director of the Deadwood Gaming Association, believes sports betting could add a vital $4 million market to the city of Deadwood alone.

“We certainly think it is important to have sports wagering as another tool in our toolbox here in Deadwood, across the county sports wagering is kind of the rage, and we want to have that here to keep Deadwood a competitive destination with other gaming destinations,” said Mike Rodman, executive director of the Deadwood Gaming Association.”

Gambling in the State

Legal Gambling

On-site gambling is permissible in the state of South Dakota, and they are home to over 45 casinos statewide. The state also operates tribal venues alongside commercial gambling properties within the state. The city of Deadwood is a casino gambling hub in the area.

There are some restrictions on existing gaming laws, including what games venues are allowed to host. Currently, permissible venues can host slots, live poker, blackjack games, and casino-style poker games.

Smaller businesses, including bars and clubs, are permitted to operate “limited-stakes” card games and slot machines. Charitable gaming and race betting are also allowed, under certain conditions.

Illegal Gambling

Currently, online gambling is explicitly illegal in the state of South Dakota.

There have several laws addressing online gaming, specifically Chapter 22025A, titled “Internet Gambling”:

“For the purposes of this chapter, the term, bet or wager, means to directly or indirectly take, receive, or accept money or any valuable thing with the understanding or agreement that the money or valuable thing will be paid or delivered to a person if the payment or delivery is contingent upon the result of a race, contest, or game or upon the happening of an event not known to be certain. Bet or wager does not include the purchase, sale, or trade of securities or commodities under state or federal law.”

What’s more, is that any bet that’s illegally accepted in real money online casinos or sportsbooks will result in individual violations for the perpetrator, as outlined in Code 22-25A-9:

“Each bet a separate violation. A violation of § 22-25A-7 or 22-25A-8 occurs if the violation originates or terminates, or both, in this state. Each individual bet or wager offered in violation of § 22-25A-7 or from a location or site that violates § 22-25A-8 constitutes a separate violation.”

Rodman, who says that illegal betting has already been happening in the state, is excited for the opportunity for a new, legal option to become available.

Atlantic City’s Starting Year Casino Revenue up 23% From Last Year

View of Atlantic City
In an impressive 20-month streak, gaming revenue has been on the rise for Atlantic City casinos, with January being the seventh consecutive month of double-digit growth.

“2020 is off to a promising start for Atlantic City,” said Steve Callender, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey and senior vice president of Eastern regional operations for Tropicana Atlantic City’s parent company, Eldorado Resorts. “The city continues to see increased sports betting and tourism, two important economic drivers. I look forward to a year of continued progress in 2020.”

And all nine of the city’s casinos are feeling the growth.

According to Ocean Casino Resort CEO Terry Glebocki, their slot revenues were especially impressive, increasing a whopping 87% since last January. Glebocki says they will continue investing in their property with the addition of the new high limit slot parlor, Asian gaming salon, and VIP lounge.

Atlantic City’s newest properties, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and Ocean Casino Resort, are to thank for much of the city’s booming revenue increase. They ranked third and sixth in the market in their total revenue from tables and slots. That’s a 36% increase compared with 2019’s levels. Altogether, the city saw their tables and slots revenue go up 8.3%.

According to data released Wednesday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, casinos reported a total gaming revenue of $270.5 million last month. That’s a 22.6% increase, or $50 million, from last January.

James Plousis, Casino Control Commission Chairman, said “revenue from slots, table games, internet waging, and sports wagering all grew.” Adding that:

“Internet and sports wagering did particularly well, bolstering the industry’s performance in the middle of the traditional offseason.”

Online Revenue is Booming

In a series of firsts, Internet gaming revenue passed the $55 million mark in January. There has been a 64% increase in revenue last year, which is over a $21 million jump.

Of that $55 million, close to half of that amount came from Golden Nugget alone, with them dominating $21.2 million of the online gaming pie.

Exciting even still, is that, according to industry experts, online casino gaming has yet to hit its “sweet spot” in the state.

According to Eric Ramsey, gaming analyst for PlayNJ.com, if current revenue patterns continue, hitting $700 million is “within reach in 2020, which would have been inconceivable just a few years ago.”

Sports Betting is Largely to Thank

“The industry’s ability to find new areas of growth, along with the symbiotic relationship that exists with online sports betting, will keep online casino gambling moving forward,” Ramsey said.

It’s no secret. Sports betting is huge money in the world of wagering, and Atlantic City is cashing in on it. The city’s sports betting revenues are up 139.9%, resulting in a $23.4 million increase in revenue for the city’s casinos and their online/mobile partners.

Sports wagering even brings in gamblers who end up staying for additional gaming experiences. According to Plousis:

“Guests who came to wager on sports events took the opportunity to explore Atlantic City’s abundant gaming and non-gaming option. Casino executives I’ve spoken with were very pleased that customers stayed longer to enjoy the city’s diverse dining and entertainment offerings. Making investments that lead to positive customer experiences can provide strong competitive advantage for Atlantic City.”

New Jersey Could Possibly Out-Rank Nevada

That numbers for last month saw $540 million legally wagered on sports, thanks to the wide variety of highly-anticipated, annual NFL sporting events going on at the time, including the NFL playoffs and college football championship games.

With the current trajectory of gaming earnings in the state, betting experts believe that New Jersey won’t only go toe-to-toe with Nevada, the nation’s top-earning gambling state, but that it will surpass it in time. While January saw New Jersey earn over $500 million in revenue, Nevada, which earned $497.5 million in January 2019, has yet to surpass the $500 million mark.

“New Jersey could very well top Nevada, not just in January, but for the foreseeable future,” said Dustin Gouker, another lead analyst for PlayNJ.com. “And assuming that happens, we could be seeing the beginning of New Jersey’s more permanent place as the top market in the country.”

Lucky Gambler Hits $1.7 Million Jackpot on Wheel of Fortune Slots at Wynn

Casino Wheel of Fortune Slot Machine
On Monday evening, one lucky gambler hit big at the Wynn Las Vegas. When we say big, we mean $1.7 million big. They won off a $10 wager.

The gambler hit the jackpot on a Wheel of Fortune slot machine around 6:30 p.m. The exact payout was $1,734,677.19

The Wheel of Fortune slot machines have pumped out two other major wins in the valley over the last few months. Most recently in January, a gambler won $5.4 million on its machines at The Excalibur. Last November, a gambler won $2.2 million in November on its machines at The Mirage.

Other Wins This Month

  • A Wisconsin visitor won a $100,000 jackpot at a slot machine at Paris Las Vegas.
  • A Louisiana visitor, Katherine C. of Louisiana, celebrated her birthday with a $100,000 royal flush win at the Three Card Poker table at the Rio.
  • A California visitor, Preston, won $15,497 at a slots machine at the California Hotel.
  • A gambler won $13,794.90 at a progressive slot at Binion’s.
  • A Blackjack bet on a 21+3 table won a player $9,372 at Downtown Grand.
  • A video keno player earned $7,000 from a 7-spot hit at Fremont.

Information About Wheel of Fortune Slot Machines

The Wheel of Fortune slot machine has been a staple on casino floors since it first launched in 1995. Modeled after the popular, long-standing American TV game show, Wheel of Fortune, it’s a slot that’s hard to miss with its colorfully large, and recognizable spinning wheel that sits atop of the slot.

The machines are often standard three-reel machines, with a spot on the wheel typically being worth between 20 and 1000 credits. Special multipliers are attained when more than three spin symbols activate a game.

Since its arrival, the Wheel of Fortune slot machines have reportedly awarded more than $2.9 billion.

The Encore and Wynn Las Vegas Get Bumped up to 5 Star Forbes Rating

The Wynn Las Vegas, Encore Las Vegas
Forbes Travel Guide announced on Wednesday that two famous hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, the Encore and Wynn Las Vegas, earned an extra star on their rating, bumping them up to a perfect 5-star Forbes rating. Both properties were upgraded from their former four-star rating.

In an even more impressive feat, Wynn Resorts Ltd. stated that the Encore and Wynn Las Vegas now serve as the largest and second-largest resorts to earn a coveted Forbes 5-star rating globally.

The ratings come during Forbes Travel Guide’s annual Star Rating Awards, but this year saw Forbes giving a record number of five-star designations to numerous new properties, as a part of their global expansion.

107 awards were announced, with 70 of those awards going to hotels. As compared with 2019’s ratings, which only saw 21 hotels get added to the five-star rating list.

According to Amanda Frasier, head of rating for Forbes Travel Guide, the new five-star additions “really help propel (Las Vegas) to one of the strongest performing five-star cities and states in the USA,” adding that “Nevada as a state is so strong.”

Currently, as far as greatest number of five-star hotels in the U.S. goes, Nevada ranks fourth. For highest number of five-star spas and five-star restaurants, Nevada sits pretty in third place.

Other 5 Star Rated Hotels, Spas, and Restaurants in Las Vegas

Las Vegas has been awarded with six five-star hotels, six five-star restaurant, and four five-star spas. Here’s a list of the current five-star winners:

Hotels

  • ARIA Sky Suites
  • Encore at Wynn Las Vegas
  • Encore Tower Suites
  • Skylofts at MGM Grand
  • Wynn Las Vegas
  • Wynn Tower Suites

Restaurants

  • Joël Robuchon, fine French fare at MGM Grand
  • Le Cirque Las Vegas, fine dining under Bellagio’s circus-tent themed dining room
  • Picasso, Las Vegas’ most “artistic restaurant,” located at Bellagio
  • Restaurant Guy Savor, exquisite French fare in the Augustus Tower at Caesars Palace
  • Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, fine French flair on the 23rd floor of Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas
  • Wing Lei at Wynn Las Vegas, high-end Chinese cuisine

Spa

  • The Spa & Salon at ARIA
  • The Spa at Encore Las Vegas
  • The Spa at Vdara
  • The Spa at Wynn Las Vegas

What Earns a 5 Star Rating?

Forbes Travel Guide’s expert inspectors anonymously test properties against up to 900 rigorous standards. According to their website, here’s a glimpse into the standards they look for when giving their five-star rating:

  • Top-notch room service
  • Beautiful beds
  • Distinctive drinks
  • Supreme service
  • Memorable meals
  • Thoughtful turndown
  • Helpful housekeeping
  • Genuine interest
  • Exceeding expectations

And Forbes Travel Guide inspectors need to be sharp on their game to dish out the proper rating designation. On average, inspectors travel around 260 days per year, are contractually bound to not have any social media presence and fill out hefty inspection reports that take over 10 hours to complete.

“We need them to not only pay attention to the details after a long flight from one side of the country to the other or one side of the world other, but we need them to submit a really high-quality report,” Amanda Frasier, head of ratings, told USA TODAY. The inspectors go through rigorous training and need to understand cultural nuance.

“We know that cultural nuance and geographical location play a part in how service is delivered, and we want to make sure that comes through in the way that we conduct our evaluation and in the reports that these hotels end up reading.”

About Forbes Travel Guide

Forbes is the global authority on luxury verification. First launching in 1958, they began as a guidebook for US motorists, originally known as “Mobil Travel Guide.” Since their inception, their expert team of inspectors have traveled the world to anonymously assess hotels, restaurants, and spas in more than 70 countries against their rigorous luxury standards.

Inspectors stay as anonymous guests at each property they visit, allowing for a truly  independent and objective Star Rating process.

According to their website:

“While we assess both service and facility, our Star Rating system emphasizes service because your experience at a hotel, restaurant, or spa goes beyond looks — how it makes you feel is what you will remember most.”

“For us, it is all about how does the hotel make the guest feel?” Filip Boyen, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide, told USA TODAY.

Another Media Company Embraces Sports Betting: CBS Sports and William Hill Partnership

Sportsbook Moneyline, CBS Sports Logo
On Monday evening, CBS Sports and William Hill announced their exciting new partnership. The agreement will see that William Hill, one of the world’s leading sports betting operators, will become the destination sports book and odds provider for CBS Sports.

CBS Sports will in return have exclusive access to William’s Hill’s sports book, wagering data, and betting odds that they will officially be allowed to be included in their television broadcasts.

It’s a strategic partnership, and one that brings allow the opportunity to have William Hill’s market data advertised across CBS television programming. Through the new agreement, CBS Sports’ now has the chance to become a digital leader in the sports betting space and develop new diversified betting content to share across its various platforms.

CBS hopes that the partnership will allow sports bettors and fans the opportunity to further engage with them through the insightful, industry-leading betting information to be shared across their various digital programming offerings.

According to William Hill’s website:

William Hill will receive exclusive rights to promote its brand across CBS Sports’ broad range of digital properties, including through CBS Sports Fantasy, one of the largest fantasy platforms in the world, resulting in highly efficient customer acquisition for the sports betting company.

“We’re thrilled to launch this momentous partnership, which will allow us to deepen our investment and further extend our leadership in delivering multi-platform sports wagering content, while providing William Hill with unprecedented reach for their market-leading betting platform as they continue to grow their industry-leading U.S. business,” said Jeffrey Gerttula, Executive Vice President and General Manager, CBS Sports Digital.

“The power of our distribution, combined with the strength of our brands and the expertise of William Hill, has us well positioned to tap into the explosive growth of the legal sports betting industry in the U.S.  Together, we will deliver even more value to this rapidly growing segment of sports fans.”

Full Rollout Ready in Time for Fantasy Football Season

The right timing is everything. While the partnership will begin its initial crossing over in March, a full rollout is expected to be integrated just in time for fantasy football season.

“CBS Sports, similar to William Hill, has a longstanding history of connecting fans directly to the biggest events and most iconic moments in sports,” said William Hill US’ CEO, Joe Asher. “We are excited about this partnership, with assets including mass-reach digital content products, one of the largest fantasy sports databases and platforms in the world, and leading sports television programming, which will allow us to expand the William Hill brand across America quickly and efficiently.”

About CBS Sports

Currently CBS Sports stands as the second-largest sports property in the U.S. There are over 80 million users who span across its many sites and apps, they also have upwards of millions of followers on their social media accounts.

CBS sports broadcasts a vast portfolio of sporting events on the CBS network channel, such at the NFL, college football and basketball, the PGA Championship and more.

About William Hill

William Hill is an industry leading, UK-based betting and gaming company. It was originally founded in 1934, and has grown to employ more that 15,500 people in 12 countries, including the UK, Gibraltar, Malta, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, the US, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Latvia and the Philippines.

Before betting shops were legalized, William Hill first established their company as a postal and telephone betting service. Wagers were places through check that were sent in the mail, with bets being made well in advance of events.

Today, the iconic brand is 85 years old and remains a name that bettors everywhere can trust. From their website:

“At William Hill we continually innovate to bring our customers engaging ways to bet and game, whether in betting shops, sports books, online or on their mobile devices.  And we are committed to enabling them to gamble in a positive way, with a range of tools and systems that promote customers’ control as part of our Nobody Harmed ambition.”

Upstate New York Casinos on Upswing After a Slow Start

Casino Building
When the four casinos opened up in upstate New York back in 2017, they had a sluggish start. They struggled to make gains and have a steady stream of workable revenue come through their doors. And while they’re not racking in the big bucks just yet, big improvements have been made in attracting customers and boosting their revenue.

All four casinos experienced a brighter 2019 than they did in 2018, with each casino reporting a revenue increase. As a record reviewed by the USA TODAY Network from the state Gaming Commission showed, Resorts World Catskills had the biggest revenue increase from the year prior, at a whopping 48% gross gaming increase in its second year of business.

According to the review, the total revenue jump for the four casinos combined last year was 18%, or $618 million.

Bob DeSalvio, president of Genting New York State, the company that owns Resorts World Catskills, said that a “A 24-month ramp up period is not unexpected in today’s environment.” Adding the slower build up of a two-year period is more normal for gaming properties.

“If you look at the history of regional gaming properties over their lifetime, it’s about two years for them to really click in.”

From Gray to Rose Revenue Predictions

New York took a gamble back in 2014 when they handed gaming licenses to the four gaming properties standing in the state today: Del Lago, Rivers, Resorts World Catskills, and Tioga Downs.

All four casinos were unanimous slow-burners to start, and earning potentials looked meek. In fact, Del Lago and Resorts World Catskills were on the brink of bankruptcy and sold off last year.

Since being bought out last year, both companies have seen an increase in revenue. Del Lego’s economic impact was at $270 million and a gaming revenue of $157 million. This was 4% revenue jump for 2018.

With mobile sports betting becoming legalized across the country, this remains an important year for even rosier revenue predictions should mobile sports betting get the official green light.

Advocating for Lower Tax Rates for Long-Term Profitability

Many of the casino owners report taking a hit from the high tax rates, and say that the current rate is impeding on their ability to reach their long-term profitability goals, especially in a highly competitive regional casino market.

“While we continue to make progress in growing our gaming revenue,” Justin Moore, General Manager of Rivers, said in a statement, “we operate in a highly competitive and expanding regional gaming market where we pay the highest effective tax rate of all the commercial casinos which makes it difficult for us to compete effectively.”

In April, the first draft study on the future of NY’s gambling industry is set to be released. It comes at good timing, as the legislative sessions will end in June. The study could be a determining factor in the state Governor and state Legislature to reconvene on their stance of the state’s current gambling laws.

DTP Works with Neighboring Businesses to Host More Downtown LV Events

Downtown Las Vegas View, Downtown Project Logo
Zappos’ downtown investment project, DTP Companies, formerly known as Downtown Project, is trying to work with neighboring downtown businesses in order to secure a special use permit that would enable them to host events at the Fremont East parking lot, otherwise known as the Llama Lot.

The Fremont East parking lot, which the company owns, offers 120,000-square-foot of space to be utilized for downtown events. However, nearby businesses have some concerns.

One nearby property owner Donald Walford, cites concerns over the amount of noise, traffic, and inconvenience it would cause other downtown LV neighbors if recurring events were to take place at the lot. Walford’s concerns led him to request an appeal over the Las Vegas Planning Commission’s approval of the special use permit back in October.

The Las Vegas City council in turn decided to hold off on accepting votes on the approval until after the company makes an effort to meet with neighboring businesses and their owners.

Lack of Details Makes Nearby Business Owners Weary

While downtown business owners are on board for trying to revitalize downtown Vegas and make it more of a destination spot, not only for tourists but especially locals, they need more details regarding DTP’s intended use of the space. And they’re conscious of being respectful toward the actual people who live on-site in the more popular areas downtown.

As of right now, business owners are saying they haven’t been informed over important details yet, including what type of events DTP plans to hold at the lot, the frequency of those events, and when the operating hours would be.

“We’re all for improving the economy, but there are people that live downtown,” Walford said. “It’s not just for a party.”

Cathy Brooks, owner of the Hydrant Club dog daycare and training facility, which is located on the prime intersection of 9th and Fremont Street, says the request for the special use permit has been “overly broad and vague.”

In regards to the permit request and lack of communication surrounding it, Brooks says:

“As someone who has been on that corner for seven years, what I can tell you is communication and compromise are two things that the people who submitted this have not shown themselves to do to date.”

Drawing a More Harmonious Solution

In addition to the council having DTP meet with their neighbors to discuss in more detail their plans for running events at Llama Lot to fill in the blanks, Las Vegas City Councilwoman, Oliva Diaz, is also trying to ease downtown business owners’ concerns.

She’s advised conditions that DTP would have to meet for any event they plan to hold. Those conditions include being responsible for a thorough clean up once events are over, having security available at each event, and letting neighbors know what events will be occurring well in advance.

Diaz also proposed having restrictions on event hours, and giving the council six months to determine whether the special use permit will work for all parties involved, and that will be affected by the permit use.

“That’s why we’re going to have a six-month follow-up, just to make sure that this is a harmonious and compatible use for the area,” Diaz said.

The first vote on the special use permit, as well as Diaz’s proposed conditions, is scheduled to take place on March 4.

Sahara Las Vegas Unveils New Poker Room on Friday

Casino Poker Table, Sahara Las Vegas Logo
A favorite among locals, the SAHARA Las Vegas Hotel & Casino will be getting in on the poker action by opening their brand-new live poker room to the gambling public this Friday, Feb. 14.

Valentine’s Day will be the first time the casino has had a poker room on property since 2011, right before it shut down for three years to make renovations, re-opening as the SLS. After five years as being known as SLS, the company officially reintroduced their iconic, flagship brand name last June.

According to the casino’s official press release, the poker room’s daily hours of operation will be 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. local time. The room will feature seven tables offering real money action in a game chart that will include Texas Hold’em, 7 Card Stud, and Pot Limit Omaha players. A variety of mix games will also be available, depending on what spreads players are seeking.

Along with the seven tables, the room will include a 16’x9′ LED display video, five additional screens scattered throughout the room, daily tournaments, and 24/7 available food service provided by nearby Northside Café.

The daily tournaments will offer a minimum of four start times throughout the day, with buy-ins ranging from $45-$100. The primary tournament will be No Limit Texas Holdem.

“The Poker Room at SAHARA Las Vegas also offers a competitive rake at 10 percent with a $4 max,” according to the release.

SAHARA’s $150 Million Dollar Renovations

“The return of SAHARA Las Vegas to The Strip is significant for the city,” said Alex Meruelo, owner of SAHARA Las Vegas.

“The reimagining of this iconic resort will enable an enhanced guest experience that runs contrary to the megaresorts that have recently dominated the Las Vegas landscape. At SAHARA Las Vegas, guests will be greeted with a warm, customized experience set within a fully modern, dynamic resort.

We know guests come to Las Vegas to create memories, and we plan to help them do just that in a beautifully curated, intimate resort experience with personalized services that make everyone feel special.”

Interior Renovations

  • Sahara’s recently completed $150 million resort overhaul includes:
  • Entirely new updated casino floor
  • The luxurious new 24-hour CASBAR Lounge, located on the main casino floor
  • An Infinity premium gaming lounge
  • Revamped hotel rooms and updated hotel towers (including the tower’s names)
  • Renovated suites and corridors
  • Upgraded spa
  • New front desk/hotel lobby area

Exterior Renovations

  • Continued remodeling of the main porte cochère
  • A full renovation of the resort’s main pool
  • Second-story 18,500 square-foot combination nightclub, lounge and theatrical space, which will be positioned alongside the resort’s main pool
  • Exterior building refresh and new paint color
  • Marquee signage and letting including Sahara’s new branded logo

Food & Beverage Additions

  • Beers and Bets, casual American cuisine with offering a great sports-viewing experience (formerly Umami Burger, located next to the property’s sports book)
  • Uno Mas, Mexican street fare and street tacos, plus a fully-stocked tequila bar and Mexican beer
  • New Starbucks on property

Grand Opening Celebration, Feb. 21

To kick off the launch of their new poker room, SAHARA will be holding a grand opening celebration for players next Friday, Feb. 21. The celebration will include complimentary “champagne, hors d’oeuvres, branded swag, gift cards and giveaways.” According to the casino, “bounties will also be in play for the exciting event.”

About Sahara Las Vegas

The iconic SAHARA Las Vegas Casino & Resort first opened on Oct. 7, 2 1952. It has been a staple on the Las Vegas Strip for nearly 70 years and was a favorite spot for Frank Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack. Over the years, it also hosted the Beatles and a NASCAR Café.

It’s gone through some notable changes over the past decade, including a recession, and being bought out by LA-based Meruelo Group. The Meruelo Group ownership resulted in the property transferring the casino’s resort name and entity to SLS Las Vegas Hotel for five years.

When the property’s current owner, Alex Meruelo, took back control of the then-SLS property in April 2018, he wanted to change the name back to its original moniker, because of how recognizable the name has been throughout Las Vegas’ history.

The property officially returned to its traditional name, SAHARA Las Vegas, last summer. Refreshing the property has been a top priority since then, paying homage to the traditional property and old Vegas, while infusing it with modern flair for modern Vegas.

“The Sahara played an important role in the evolution of the destination,” Meruelo said at SAHARA’s rebranding company event. “We are writing the next chapter in the city’s evolution, for the love of Vegas.”

Hard Rock Atlantic City Debuts World’s First Live Internet Slots

Casino Slot Machines, Hard Rock Atlantic City Logo
Hard Rock Hotels & Casino Atlantic City unveiled their revolutionary live online slots at a news conference on Monday. The slots are the first of their kind and feature ground-breaking innovations in technology. Hard Rock has partnered with Softweave Ltd., an internet gaming company based out of Israel, to develop the unique software that gives players the ability to play live slots from a connected device.

“We are thrilled to present ground-breaking and innovative technology as real-money, online gaming continues to evolve in New Jersey,” said Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

“Similarly to live table games dealers, live slots enables our players to have one seamless experience to earn Wild Card rewards including hotel rooms, entertainment and dining at Hard Rock Atlantic City. Bridging the gap to provide a ‘live’ experience to our online consumers is something we are not only excited for, but very proud to be the first in the world.”

Live Online Slot Room

The selling point behind these live online slots, which makes them completely different than any other slot machine out on the market currently, is that they’re only activated and played on by online gamblers.

Casino guests have the ability to peek in on the action and see how the online players are doing, through the live slot room’s key-shaped windows. The room includes 12 machines featuring the popular games: Buffalo, Leprocoins, Hotter Than Blaze, SpitFire Mulipliers, and 34x4x4x Double Times Pay.

The room has a set of cameras that allow the virtual players to actually what’s happening in the room as they activate play from their off-site devices. Similar to traditional casino slot machines, there’s only one player allowed to play at a slot at any given time.

“The psychology, there are brick-and-mortar players that have a fear of doing things online,” said Kresimir Spajic, senior vice president of online gaming at Hard Rock International. “This is helpful in transitioning them into online customers. This is a real, physical machine that they can see, almost like they’re sitting in front of it.”

Lupo said that the innovative new slot technology was a “natural outgrowth of live-dealer tables games that have been growing in popularity in Atlantic City over the past six years.”

“Credibility and transparency have been paramount to seeing online gaming move forward,” Lupo said. “The difference between seeing a computer image as opposed to the kind of machine that a customer has been playing for years, it may be easier to understand.”

Hard Rock’s new live online slot room is located on the second floor of the casino, directly across from Fresh Harvest Buffet.

How To Play

Players can access the new live slots with a valid internet gambling account. They can make easily set up an account through Hard Rock’s online casino website. If all 12 machines are in use, players can wait in a queue until a slot is available. Lupo suggested that during the downtime, players can entertain themselves with the wide variety of online slots and table games available at Hard Rock’s online casino. Sounds like a win-win situation.

About Softweave Ltd.

SoftWeave specializes in creating gaming software and e-commerce product development. The company was founded in 2010 and is headquartered in Netanya, Israel. The company has successfully become a leading gaming solution and integration provider for gaming, e-commerce and cyber companies across the world.

They develop their products and services with a key focus on innovation. They were the first company to successfully design, develop, and launch high quality HTML5 games their Live Slots product.

As listed on the “about” section of their company’s website:

“For the past 7 years Softweave has developed a wide array of innovative gaming products for mobile social and online platforms. RGS, HTML5 games, portals, social content conversion and full-scale live tables are just a few of the projects Softweave has successfully delivered to its customers. The one thing Softweave prides itself on is our ability to utilize cutting edge technologies and innovation to deliver the best possible outcome to our leading industry customers.”

Mob Museum Offering Free Valentine’s Day Admission to Nevada Residents

The Las Vegas Mob Museum
Downtown Las Vegas’ Mob Museum, otherwise known as the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, will be celebrating its 8th year in operation this Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. In honor of the timely anniversary, it will be offering free admission for Nevada residents on Valentine’s Day.

Non-Nevada residents will be able to enjoy buy-one-get-one-free tickets.

Two exhibits will be on display for the holiday. The first is a complimentary car show that will include 15 different prohibition-style cars, on display from the Model A Ford Club of America and the Las Vegas Cadillac Club. They will be parked outside of the museum, with some of the vehicle owners on-site at the event.

The second exhibit is a crime scene exhibit highlighting prominent pieces of evidence from the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

The Mob Museum is located at 300 Stewart Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89101 and is open from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Food and beverage at the museum will also be discounted all day on Valentine’s Day, offering 20% off.

St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929 took place at the Lincoln Park garage in Chicago, during a cold Valentine’s Day morning. To this day, it remains one of the darkest memories of Mob history. Four men, who posed as police officers, busted through Bugs Moran’s headquarters on North Clark Street.

Seven of Moran’s members and associates were then lined against the infamous brick wall and shot to death by the posed police officers, who are allegedly believed to be associated with Al Capone’s gang.

In 1967, a Vancouver businessman bought the bricks from the wall where the shooting occurred, with some of the bricks still having bullet holes in them from the massacre. For a little over the next 40 years, the bricks were apart of a traveling exhibit.

They found their temporary homes in a crime museum and even a nightclub restroom, before eventually finding a permanent home at the Mob Museum.

About the Las Vegas Mob Museum

First opening in downtown Las Vegas on February 14, 2012, the Mob Museum is an interactive storehouse featuring the artifacts, narratives, and thorough history of organized crime in the United States. It features narratives from both sides, the mob members who committed the crimes, and law enforcement who worked to prevent the crimes.

The museum’s location used to be home to the former Las Vegas post Office and Courthouse. Which was registered on the National Register of Historic Places.

The museum features three interactive floors, offering signature insight and displays into the history of organized crime. The museum also houses the “Underground,” in their basement floor, which, according to their website, is:

“An immersive Prohibition history exhibit space featuring a distillery, speakeasy and private VIP room located in the basement of The Mob Museum. Surrounded by artifacts from the 1920s, experience Prohibition-era craft cocktails in our speakeasy and tour our on-site distillery for a taste of the past.”

Station Casinos Look to Sell Part of their 380-Acre Development Land Sites

Aerial View of Desert Lot Land, For Sale Sign
Right before the economy came crashing down last decade, Las Vegas’ local brand of casinos, Station Casinos, took future-oriented action and secured plots of dirt land around the valley. They did this as an investment for future hotels or properties that would sell big when the time was right.

Well, it looks like that time has come, and station casinos are ready to strike while the iron’s hot. Currently, land prices in Las Vegas are on the rise and construction shows no signs of slowing down. In 2019, the median monthly rent for apartments in the city jumped higher than any other major U.S. metro area.

A reason for raised land prices across the valley could have to do with the city transforming into a sport’s town and capitalizing on the recent influx of new residents.

Rodney Atamian, Executive Vice President of Strategy and Development, says they aren’t looking to liquidate their “entire land portfolio,” but that the “effort is underway” to determine which parcels they’ll either want to hold onto or sell off.

According to Station Casino executives, proceeds from any sales will be used to pay down debt.

Available Land Lots in Prime Spots

Frank Fertitta III, chairman and CEO of parent Red Rock Resorts, recently told analysts that they have an “unbelievable pipeline” of land, and it is in their interest to sell properties that they probably “wouldn’t get to for a long, long time.”

While Station Casinos has yet to determine or announce which lots they plan to sell, they have an attractive portfolio of 380 acres in many prime, fast-growing spots across the valley that are sure to appeal to buyers. The available lots include:

  • 105 acres on Tropicana Avenue, close to Las Vegas Boulevard
  • 71 acres southwest at Durango Drive and the 215 Beltway
  • 58 acres in Summerlin at Flamingo Road and Town Center Drive
  • 57 acres south of the Strip, at Las Vegas Boulevard and Cactus Avenue
  • 45 acres in Henderson at Via Inspirada and Bicentennial Parkway
  • 40 acres in the upper northwest part of the valley, off Highway 95
  • 5 acres on the outskirts of downtown Las Vegas

The 105 acres on Tropicana Avenue, practically on the Las Vegas Strip, would be a prime sell for Station Casinos, as well as the 58 acres they own in Summerlin, one of the valley’s fastest growing areas.

About Station Casinos

Station Casinos own a total of 10 hotel and casino properties in Las Vegas. These properties include Boulder Station, Green Valley Ranch, Mount Rose Station, Place Station, Palms Casino Resort, Red Rock Resort, Sante Fe Station, Station Casino Reno, Sunset Station, and Texas Station.

Their flagship establishment, Palace Station, originally known as the “Bingo Palace,” opened up in 1976.

In 2006, brothers Frank Fertitta III and Lorenzo Fertitta, along with Colonoy Capital LLC, purchased existing shares of the company at $82 per share and took the company private. On July 28, 2009, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. They listed $5.7 billion in assets versus their $6.5 billion in debt.

Two years later, in June 2011, Station Casinos exited their bankruptcy as they were able to accrue $4 billion less in total debt. Creditors gave operating power back to the Fertitta family and their partners. In October 2015, Station Casinos re-entered the stock market.

Recent Renovations for Two Mega Station Casinos Properties

The new year saw two of Station Casinos’ largest properties get major room renovation upgrades, Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa and Green Valley Ranch Casino Resort & Spa. Both of the Las Vegas and Henderson properties are AAA Four Diamond-rated.

Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa

Over 700 deluxe king and deluxe double queen rooms have been newly renovated and refreshed to reflect a “modern, desert-oasis-inspired getaway.” Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa property also renovated 55 signature suites.

The property promoted their new guest experience by offering their “New Year, New Room” package.

Red Rock Resort first opened in April 2006 and received numerous local and national awards, including making Conde Nast magazine’s Hot List of the world’s top new hotels and annual recognition by AAA as a four-diamond rated resort.

Green Valley Ranch Casino Resort & Spa

Green Valley’s renovation efforts focused on upgrading their spectacular suite experience, with the renovation of their Strip and Presidential suites. Each suite package offers sweeping views of the Las Vegas Strip, 2,750 square footage to enjoy, an eight-acre backyard pool area, and access to their 35,00-square-foot spa and salon.

Green Valley Ranch Resort first opened in December 2001 and holds the title for being the first off-strip boutique luxury resort. It has almost 500 rooms/suites, and a 35,000-square-foot spa and salon, as well as several entertainment, gaming, and dining options to enjoy on the property.

The resort is also featured on Discovery Channel’s reality TV program “American Casino.” Viewers get a behind-the-scenes look at what all goes into running a luxury resort. Green Valley Ranch Resort is the prime casino featured on the program.

Wynn Resorts Losing up to $2.6 Million a Day Due to Coronavirus Shutdown

Wynn Palace Macau at NightThe coronavirus, which has currently infected more than 31,000 people and caused 636 deaths in China, has caused Chinese Officials to shut down all casino operations in Macau, including Wynn Resorts.

Wynn resorts is a major operator of high-end hotels and casinos between Las Vegas and China, with three of their properties on the Cotai Strip in Macau: Wynn Macau, Encore at Wynn Macau, and Wynn Palace. Their two Las Vegas properties are Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Las Vegas.

The three Wynn properties were among 40 other casino properties that were forced to close their doors in the coronavirus shut down. Closing up shop on their luxury properties, during a high time of year for business, is a contributing factor to the $2.4-$2.6 million in loses being accumulated per day.

According to Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox, the big brunt of the revenue loss is connected to payroll, as the casinos employ around 12,200 workers in Macau. While the amount of revenue being lost daily is extremely high, it’s not causing frantic concern on the company’s end, with Maddox stressing the health and safety of their employees above all else.

“I’d like to commend the government of Macau and China for the decisive action they continue to take to contain the coronavirus,” Maddox said in a discussion regarding the company’s earnings call. “We’re in daily conversations with the government, and they’ve been terrific partners.”

Maddox also maintains that Wynn executives are confident that the company can bear the brunt of its current loses, and has a windfall of backburner funds available to weather its current financial storm. While Maddox is unsure when operations will resume to their normal activity, he believes things will go back to normal despite the current scare.

“We have a ton of liquidity,” said chief financial officer Craig Billings. “We have a couple billion dollars of availability between cash and revolver in Macau. That’s more than sufficient to last for, really, any period of closure.”

About Wynn Resorts Macau

The Wynn Resorts properties in Macau are among the most important in their market, as they make up a bulk of the company’s revenue. Wynn Macau first opened on the Cotai Strip on September 6, 2006. Its second toward, Encore at Wynne Macau, opened on April 21, 2010. The last Wynn property, Wynn Palace, opened August 22, 2016.

Currently, the Wynn properties in Macau rely heavily on their high-rollers and VIP gaming to drive revenue and profits. Reports found that Wynn Resorts earns nearly 40% of its casino revenues from VIP gaming. However, the company is planning out ways to remove the dependency on VIPs to gain high profitability.

Other Major Companies/Product Categories That Could Take A Big Hit

China is the world’s biggest player when it comes to mass product production. According to financial analysts, the coronavirus outbreak could negatively impact the global economy, with more risk posed to hurt certain industries more than others.

The 5 companies and product categories that could experience economic fallout the most from the virus outbreak are Apple, the entire beauty category, liquor companies, luxury clothing retailers (particularly Burberry, who has 64 stores in mainland China that have been temporarily shut down), and the Walt Disney Company. Disney has two major theme parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong. A two-month closure of the parks could result in a $175 million loss in revenue.

Sports Betting in D.C. is Finally Starting to Gain Some Traction

Aerial View of Washington DC Over a year ago, sports wagering was first signed into law in Washington D.C. on Jan. 23. 2019. However, it’s been a long and winding road since then to get an official sports bet made. However, it looks like the tides are finally beginning to shift in 2020.

“We want to get it right, rather than fast,” said William Hill US chief executive Joe Asher. “It’s going to be there for a long time, so we’re much more focused on getting it right and having something truly special than any artificial date.”

Possible Hang-ups

A big point of contention in the legalization matter has been the divided opinions among those who wish to see the sports betting industry thrive in Washington D.C. While it’s generally agreed that sports betting will help boost the economy, as we’ve seen it done in neighboring states like New Jersey, it’s unclear whether D.C.’s existing infrastructure has the ability to sustain these programs.

The uncertainty has caused many to drag their feet.

Another roadblock was when a D.C. citizen filed a lawsuit over the council approving a sole-contract with their current Washington D.C. lottery operator, Intralot. The contract was created so that Intralot could function at the District’s sports betting program, but it was done in a hasty effort to beat out neighboring states who were introducing sports betting.

The D.C. citizen filed the lawsuit claiming that the council “violated the federal Home Rule Act through its award.” While the lawsuit is out of the courtroom, it hindered the process of legalization even further. Currently, the D.C. Lottery says that city-operated sports betting will only be available sometime in the first quarter of 2020.

Potential Roll-Out Date

Despite the delays and roadblocks, Class B operators remain hopeful. Beth Bresnaha, Lottery Executive Director, says the office is looking to expedite the process and push things through, in a fair and transparent way.

The lottery is drafting proposed rules to D.C. retailers this spring, that will hopefully put them on track for an official rollout this fall. In the meantime, infrastructural upgrades will be made to retailers supporting sports wagering in order to handle the volume.

While geolocation requirements are causing some cost restraints, the Bet D.C. consortium (which boasts almost 30 bars and restaurants) has agreed to share some of the financial burden.

Capital One Arena Sports Book

As of now, the William Hill application for a sports book at the Capital One Arena is the only Class A or B application submitted. Asher said their goal for the Capital One Arena sports book and restaurant is to be able to have its doors open in 2020, ideally around the start of football in September, but no target dates have been set in stone.

The restaurant will have two working floors to work with, and William Hill may have an as-of-yet-unnamed restaurateur running the food operation. Their goal is to create a versatile location that offers an incredible sports book, and not just a location known for its sports book, plus a few extra amenities.

“It’s going to be in the nation’s capital, in between the White House and the Capitol, on top of one of the busiest Metro stations in the system, one of the busiest subway stations in the country,” said Asher. “There’s gonna be a lot of people coming and we want it to be something that people can get really excited about.”

Dancing with the Stars’ Derek Hough Snags Strip Residency

Derek Hough, The Flamingo Las Vegas Casino
Beginning on Feb. 7, tickets for “Dancing with the Stars” multi-champion Derek Hough’s new show, Derek Hough: No Limit, will go on sale. The multi-talented entertainer has danced his way onto the world-famous Strip in his first ever headlining Las Vegas residency. The “No Limits” show will be presented at the Flamingo Showroom, inside of the Flamingo Las Vegas.

According to the show’s description on Derek Hough’s website:

The dance-centric show will incorporate all-new production elements, designed specifically for the Flamingo Showroom, astounding versatility and, as always, Derek’s magnetic stage presence. Fans will journey through a true fusion of dance and music, as Derek explores styles ranging from ballroom and tap to salsa, hip-hop and everything in between.

Fans and dance lovers alike should have plenty of time to catch Hough’s vibrant spectacle, with the show scheduled to run from June 2 through November 7. Additional information can be found at flamingolasvegas.com.

“Performance is my passion, and I am excited to showcase this in an intimate and personal way,” Hough said in the show announcement. “My all-new production gives me the opportunity to connect with audiences and share what I love to do with them.  More than just being entertained, I hope everyone will leave feeling moved and inspired to get up and dance.”

About Derek Hough

Derek Hough is an American professional Latin and ballroom dancer and choreographer, who’s also made film, television, and stage appearances as both an actor and singer. He’s won a total of six seasons on ABC’s popular show “Dancing with the Stars,” the show’s only six-time champion in its history as a franchise.

Hough is a two-time Emmy Awards winner for his notable choreography work on Dancing with the Stars, and a nine-time nominee for Best Choreography. He’s also a New York Times Best-Selling author for his memoir “Taking the Lead: Lessons from a Life in Motion”.

He made his film debut in the feature film “Make Your Move” and currently has a recurring role on the hit ABC series “Nashville.” His stage performances include Radio City Music Hall’s Spring Spectacular, where he starred alongside Tony Award winning Laura Benanti, and the critically acclaimed Footloose production, where he starred as the male lead.

In 2017, Hough also took a seat at the judges table, alongside Jennifer Lopez and Ne-Yo, for NBC’s wildly popular “World of Dance” series. Hough’s little sister, Julianne Hough, is also an equally talented multi-entertainer who dances, choreographs, acts, and sings.

More Flamingo Show Acts

RuPaul’s Drag Race LIVE! – Tickets are currently available through Jan 2, 2021. Line-up varies by show and is subject to change.

CeeLo Green: Man in the Mirror – August 2020: 11, 13, 14, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22

Piff the Magic Dragon – Tickets are currently available through August 31, 2020.

X Burlesque – Tickets are currently available through December 30, 2020.

XBU: X Burlesque University – Tickets are currently available through December 26, 2020.

More Vegas Show News

“American Idol” Adam Lambert will make an extended stop on his Velvet Tour at the Venetian Theatre with three shows on April 22, 24, and 25. Tickets go on sale February 8.

“The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise” star Jordan Kimball will hit the Chippendales stage as a celebrity guest dancer for Valentine’s Day, February 14, and February 15, for four total shows being held at the Rio.

Love continues to be in the air with Cirque du Soleil offering a 50% discount for its seven Strip shows. Discounts began this Tuesday and will be available through February 16. Subject to availability, discounts can be applied to future show dates in 2020.

Vegas Golden Knights Announce Purchase of AHL Franchise

Golden Knights Logo and AHL Logo
In an official announcement made on Thursday, the Las Vegas Golden Knights have purchased an American Hockey League (AHL) franchise membership from Spurs Sports & Entertainment. Since Spurs Sports & Entertainment currently operates the San Antonio Rampage in San Antonio, TX, the Knights have applied to relocate the franchise in its entirety to the Henderson/Las Vegas area.

“Since our initial season ticket drive began five years ago in February 2015, we have witnessed first-hand the incredible passion and enthusiasm our community has for hockey,” said Vegas Golden Knights Chairman and CEO Bill Foley. By every relevant metric, the growth of the game here the last few years at all levels has been remarkable. We could not be more proud to bring a second professional hockey club to the Valley to accelerate this growth even further.”

George McPhee, Vegas Golden Knights President of Hockey Operations, says having an AHL located in our market has been a long-time goal of the Vegas Golden Knights since their inception.

Dependent upon the AHL Board of Governors approval, the Rampage will finish out their 2019-20 regular season and playoffs in San Antonio and relocate to the Henderson/Las Vegas area to kick off the 2020-21 AHL season.

Purchase Will Help Streamline Hockey Operations in Vegas

According to McPhee, 87% of all NHL players were graduates of the AHL. This will effectively help enable local Las Vegas fans to track Golden Knights prospects as they progress through the system. Prospects’ advancement to the AHL, which signals NHL playing potential, will be easier to follow with the franchise moving to Las Vegas.

“This move will effectively centralize our hockey operations and streamline our processes in terms of player development, scouting, transfers and staffing.” says McPhee.

“By bringing an AHL franchise to the desert, our fans will have more opportunities to experience the sport they love in the place we call home,” said Vegas Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz. “With our new community ice center under construction at Lifeguard Arena in Henderson, the club will have a world class practice facility as their team headquarters. We would like to especially thank our colleagues at Spurs Sports & Entertainment and the American Hockey League Board of Governors for their consideration and effort in continuing this process.”

Additional Details to Be Confirmed at Later Date

Pending purchase and relocation approval from the AHL Board of Governors, additional details will be confirmed at a later date, including team name, logo, ticket pricing, home arena etc.

Currently, Golden Knights Fans can place a $50 per seat season ticket deposit at http://vgk.io/ahl-vegas. VGK Members who put down a deposit will be granted priority access once seat selections start. Note: Season ticket deposits are refundable.

About the AHL

AHL Logo
The American Hockey League (AHL) is a US and Canadian based professional ice hockey league that serves as the primary developmental league for the National Hockey League (NHL). It’s also considered the “farm league” of the NFL. The minor professional hockey league has been in operation since 1936.

Currently, the oldest team in the AHL are Pennsylvania’s Hershey Bears, who first started playing in 1938.

The AHL major championship involves the two winning teams from their conferences that play for a chance to win the Calder Cup.

About Spurs Sports & Entertainment

Spurs Sports & Entertainment is an American sports and entertainment organization that’s based in San Antonio, Texas. Several sporting franchises are owned and operated by the organization, including the 5-time National Basketball Association (NBA) champions, the San Antonio Spurs, the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, NBA G League’s Austin Spurs, and the USL Championship club San Antonio FC.

The organization also operates Bexar County’s multi-purpose indoor arena, the AT&T Center.

Mississippi Ranks #3 in Top Gambling States in the US

Mississippi Flag, Poker Cards Pile
According to the American Gaming Association, Mississippi is one of the top gambling states in the entire country, taking third place after Oklahoma, in second place, and Nevada, in first place.

Using data from the American Gaming association (americangaming.org), here is a closer look at the average amount gambled by resident per year, by state in alphabetical order:

  • Arizona – $265
  • California – $211
  • Colorado – $281
  • Connecticut – $236
  • Delaware – $447
  • Florida – $147
  • Idaho – $89
  • Illinois – $108
  • Indiana – $335
  • Iowa – $510
  • Kansas – $229
  • Louisiana – $674
  • Maine – $107
  • Maryland – $290
  • Massachusetts – $40
  • Michigan – $286
  • Minnesota – $269
  • Mississippi – $717
  • Missouri – $286
  • Montana – $250
  • Nevada – $3,928
  • New Jersey – $326
  • New Mexico – $525
  • New York – $179
  • North Dakota – $320
  • Ohio – $159
  • Oklahoma – $1,141
  • Oregon – $263
  • Pennsylvania – $254
  • Rhode Island -$620
  • South Dakota – $288
  • Washington – $336
  • West Virginia – $345
  • Wisconsin – $229

Why is Gambling in Mississippi So Popular?

For one, Mississippi is currently the only state in the Southeastern Conference where sports fan can legally bet on football or basketball. Since the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court lifted the ban on sports betting across the states, Mississippi was essentially given a monopoly on sports betting in the South.

Couple that sports betting monopoly with the overwhelming number of people who love college sports in the state, and you have a winning recipe for gambling success.

“I vastly underestimated the love of college sports down here,” said Kathryn Lopez, sport book manager at Golden Nugget Biloxi, who moved from Las Vegas to Biloxi.

Will Hall, director of the sports book at the Beau Rivage, said that Mississippi’s prime location also makes it a draw for bettors, saying that the state is smack dab in the middle of the SEC school action, making for more passionate fans. According to him, “College football is 11 in the morning to 10 o’clock at night,” in the Southern state.

Betting is in Mississippi’s Bones

Even before the official legalization of sports betting in the state, Biloxi has had a drawn-out history of bookies and fantasy sports participation.

“People in this area knew how to bet,” said Chett Harrison, general manager of Golden Nugget Biloxi.

When you get people who know how to bet, and you factor out the time needed to master the learning curve, you pretty much have players who are ready from the get-go to lay down their dollars.

What’s Next for Gambling in the State?

Currently, gambling in the state in only allowed on-site at the state’s 39 casinos. Electronic mobile sports betting is permitted, but it must be on the grounds of a casino. While a bill was introduced to legalize mobile wagering outside of casinos, the bill went without a hearing and died out last February.

As of last November, the Biloxi Capital firm, which includes Coast developer Danny Conwill, is looking to turn the old Tivoli Hotel into East Biloxi’s newest $600 million casino resort. It lays on a 30-acre tract of beachfront, located just west of the Biloxi Yacht Club.

Councilman Felix Gines, who represents that direct area of East Biloxi, said this of the exciting new development plan:

“A development of this nature in East Biloxi will only help stimulate other much needed developments such as housing and retail growth. There isn’t a better location in Biloxi to help stimulate and kick start growth in the area. We believe in letting the market dictate itself…this could also be a game-changer for the city of Biloxi. This is a development that we’ve been working on for a while.”

The NFL Looks to Hire Their First Vice President of Sports Betting

Football Field, NFL Logo
For the first time in the league’s history, they are on the hunt for a vice president that will oversee the league’s sports betting initiatives.

According to Legal Sports Report, the new VP of its kind will adhere closely to the following job description, focusing on these four specific pillars:

  • Continuing to protect the integrity of the game.
  • Advancing the NFL’s brand and reputation.
  • Driving fan engagement globally.
  • Growing the value of NFL’s data & IP.

The League’s Change of Heart

Historically, the NFL has been strongly opposed to sports gambling of any kind, as they’ve cited “integrity of the game” as always being their top priority. So, what caused the sudden shift in their gambling philosophy?

The biggest reason is the explosion of legalized sports betting in recent years, beginning with the 2018 Supreme Court decision to legalize sports betting across the states. Currently, 20 states now have some form of legislation allowing legal sports betting, and that number is only expected to increase.

Now that the league has an official team in Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Raiders, and an official casino sponsor in Caesars Entertainment, changing their attitude toward sports betting was the only logical next step.

Here’s how the league described their multiyear casino partnership with Caesars on their website, which could be seen as one of their first public steps toward moving in favor of legalized gambling:

“This multiyear sponsorship is focused on Caesars providing unique experiences for NFL fans by using its casino properties, celebrity chefs, premier music artists and a wide range of entertainment elements.”

Caesars will have the exclusive right to use NFL trademarks in the United States and the United Kingdom to promote Caesars casino properties and activate at key NFL events including the Super Bowl and NFL Draft.

A Wise Move to Embrace Sports Gambling

It’s no surprise that NFL betting is big business, which makes it a wise move for the NFL to finally embrace sports gambling.

They’re also doing it at the right time, with the legalization of sports betting putting many safeguards into place when it comes to wagering, such as game fixing. The NFL can continue to prioritize integrity of the game, while proactively addressing the potential issues that may arise with sports gambling.

While NFL betting is nothing new, the rate at which it’s growing and how it’s growing is what makes this a unique time in betting history. Other professional sports leagues have welcomed gambling, proving to the NFL that the time to enter in the industry is now.

Having a huge casino partnership, the Raiders, and the 2020 NFL Draft all in Vegas couldn’t have come at a better time in looking to create and fill this new role.

An Important New Role

One snippet of the new job description may even point to the NFL including gambling content on its platforms, in describing how the VP will “oversee the distribution of content for gaming purposes and the integration of gaming products into the NFL’s platforms.”

Reporting directly to NFL chief strategy and growth officer, Christopher Halpin, the new VP of sports betting is expected to possess a “deep understanding” of the sports betting and sports business landscapes.

One thing’s for sure. The landscape of sports betting in changing across the entire country, and the NFL finally being on board with it will bring about even more exciting changes.

Atlantic City Casino Execs Say Reliable Air Travel Would Improve Visitation

Atlantic City Skyline and Plane
Atlantic City currently has a lot on their wish list of things they want fixed in order for business to begin booming in the seaside resort town again. From tearing down former casinos to restoring old casinos to their former glory, to making necessary city-wide fixes to keep the town feeling safe and looking beautiful for visitors and residents alike.

One big way Atlantic City’s top casino executives all agree could help drive visitation, is providing more reliable means of transportation for people to get to the city, namely air travel.

Increasing direct flights to Atlantic City International Airport from more major cities will make it more convenient for travelers to get there. This is especially necessary with the addition of more casinos being added in nearby locations, to help drive away any competition for travelers to play elsewhere.

“I think, if we had air service, it would make a big difference.” said Steve Callender, president of Casino Association of New Jersey and senior vice president of Eastern regional operations for Eldorado Resorts.

Marcus Glover, president and COO of Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, said the lack of convenient travel means to the city “is really what crippled this market and took it from a $5 billion market to right around a $3 billion market.”

Spirit Airlines is the Airport’s Only Carrier

Currently, Spirit Airlines is Atlantic City International Airport’s sole airline carrier.

James “Sonny” McCullough, commissioner of the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA), said that the authority has been working for years to try to bring other airlines on board, but the attempts have been unsuccessful.

“The problem is this, an airline looks at a location for what it’s going to cost them to operate at that location, but, primarily, they look at what is the customer base in a geographic area,” McCullough said. “When you go 12 miles east of the airport, all you have is fish, and fish don’t fly.”

Why Other Airlines are Keeping Away

Unfortunately, geographic location and lack of demand have been key preventers in either encouraging other airlines to fly to/from Atlantic City, or in keeping them coming back.

Back in the summer of 2014, United Airlines flew passengers to Atlantic City from its Chicago and Houston hubs. It was a short-lived route option, as the last United flight touched down in AC in December of that same year. The reason service was cancelled was simply due to demand not meeting the expectations.

United wasn’t the only airline to back out. Continental, US Airway, Delta, Northwest, WestJet, AirTran have also stepped away from being providers for the airport.

Trying to Incentivize New Airline Deals

As of last year, the SJTA has been offering tiered marketing incentives in an effort to draw more airlines to the region, in a deal they hope will land. The marketing incentive ranges from $25,000 – $140,000.

According to Bob McDevitt, an SJTA commissioner, this isn’t the first incentive they’ve tried to reel additional airlines in with, but this package is more general and not directed at any one specific airline. The new incentives are being tiered depending on the number of seats a carrier can provide and then turn around and sell within a year.

“The more seats you provide to and from, the more money you get for marketing, and the more passengers you put on the plane, the more times you get an additional incentive,” McDevitt said.

The incentive is centered and structured more around performance, rather than providing money to the airlines for simply giving them access.

Here’s how the marketing incentive is tiered for domestic flights and what the carriers would earn:

3,000-5,999 seats per year = $25,000

Up to 27,000 seats per year = $125,000 (+ $5 per passenger who returns through the airport for another domestic flight)

The incentive is even higher for international flights: Their first tier earns carriers $40,000 in marketing incentives, with top tier earnings of $140,000 (including the $5 per passenger bonus who returns through the airport).

The incentive is proposed for a year, with an option to renew for one more year after that.

If the incentives work, it would bring new customers to the area, not just for the airport but “a tremendous boost for the convention business,” McCullough said.

Drop in Annual Number of Visitors

Atlantic City casinos executives hope the airlines can work out some type of air travel compromise to get more passengers touching down in their city and walking through their doors.

In its heyday, Atlantic City was welcoming in over 35 million visitors annually. According to recent industry data, that number is down to a reported 22 million annual visitors, a 13 million drop in the figures.

“It’s really hard to grow the market if you don’t have a convenient means for people to get here,” Glover said.

Downtown Las Vegas’ D Casino Renovations Include Hockey-Inspired Bar

The D Casino in Downtown Las Vegas
The D Las Vegas, one of downtown’s hottest new casinos, will be giving their patrons more to be excited about with the reveal or their original new bar concept, BarCanada. According to an announcement made by the D Casino & Hotel, a hockey-inspired tavern-style bar will be included as part of the expansions being made to the downtown property.

The casino’s new bar will be an “ode to Canadian sports and culture,” according to the D. It will be located on the casino’s second floor as part of their second-floor expansion.

Set to debut this March, it will feature modern design, serve up specialty cocktails, and provide an intimate game-day viewing space that hockey lovers will be sure to love.

Back in November, the D Las Vegas closed its showroom to make way for the new expansions. The showroom was home to the popular, longstanding downtown shows “Defending the Caveman” and Adam London’s “Laughternoon,” and more recently the Ivory Star Productions “Marriage Can Be Murder” and “FRIENDS! The Musical Parody.”

In addition to BarCanada, more renovations are being made to refresh the 9,000 square foot second floor space. Another big update will be made to Circa Sports, the D’s sportsbook, by expanding it by 800 square feet. The Keno and high-limit slot areas will also be getting revamped. Lastly, new programming will be added from VSiN, The Sports Betting Network.

The City’s Transformation as a Sport’s Destination

The revolution that sparked Las Vegas’ transformation from an entertainment city to a true sports town all started with the birth of the city’s very own imagined team, the Vegas Golden Knights.

Las Vegas went from being a city that didn’t have a professional sports franchise to their name for over 100 years, to being a town buzzing with electric fan energy that can be felt all the way from the T-Mobile Arena, the Golden Knights’ home stadium, to downtown LV viewing parties, to any given bar in the city during game nights.

This year is another momentous year in morphing “Sin City” into “Sports City,” with the official induction of the Las Vegas Raiders that happened in January. They’re Las Vegas’ first-ever NFL sports team, with a brand new billion-dollar stadium built in their honor. Allegiant Stadium, the Raider’s home stadium, is scheduled to open this August.

To further capitalize on all sports momentum happening in the city, Las Vegas was even selected to host the 2020 NFL Draft, scheduled to happen on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip from April 23-25.

“There’s no denying that Las Vegas has transformed into a sports destination, and the D’s casino and sportsbook expansion is a direct response to that growth,” said Derek Stevens, CEO of the D Las Vegas. “As a hockey fan, I know where you watch a game can be just as important as the game itself. We are excited to debut a high-energy space where locals and visitors alike will want to grab a drink, place a bet and cheer for their favorite teams.”

When it comes to the new Las Vegas sport’s scene, Stevens is striking while the iron is hot. He owns three downtown properties, with his highly-anticipated new Circa Resort & Casino, located on the same Fremont block as the D, scheduled to open its doors by year end.

Circa, which will be the tallest building north of the Vegas Strip, will feature a world-class pool that will be available for use year-round, thanks to a innovate temperature control system that will be implemented. The pool will also include a massive 134-by-41-foot video customizable screen, making for the perfect watch-party atmosphere for sports fan.

About D Las Vegas

First opening in the fall of 2012, the D Las Vegas is a modern-day casino and hotel experience in the heart of vintage Downtown Las Vegas. Since opening, they’ve helped infuse an exciting new atmosphere into the Downtown scene.

From their on-site sportsbook, to the variety of bars and dining options, there’s no shortage of fun to be had at the D. Locals rave about the casino offering some of the best drinks and drink experiences downtown, courtesy of their skilled and flashy flair bartenders.

Announced in January, the D recently revealed their exciting new cashless gaming system.

Virgin to Build $.4.8B Las Vegas to Southern California Bullet Train

Virgin Trains USA Logo, Bullet Train View Through Window
Plans to start construction on a new high-speed bullet train, currently being known as the XpressWest, will begin during the second half of this year. Construction is estimated to take nearly three years, finishing up in 2023. It’s expected to generate over 15,000 construction jobs.

Virgin Trains USA is the company that will oversee the development. Virgin was authorized a $3.2 billion tax-exempt bond issuance from the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank at the end of last year to help fund the $4.8 billion project.

The bond issuance will help cover important project costs, mainly “hard construction costs.” This includes, but is not limited to, design and development, construction, rail system maintenance, a maintenance facility, passenger stations and more.

With one million of Las Vegas’ annual visitors coming from Southern California alone, it was the easy choice as one of the first places to implement a high-speed rail system in the US. The train will run from Victorville, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada, at speeds of up to 180 miles per hour along the route. The total trip time will take around 90 minutes one way.

Saving Time is the Selling Point Over Cheaper Costs

Compared to parts of Europe and Asia that have extensive, efficient rail systems in place that make it the most viable and affordable method of transformation, the United States still lacks a solid infrastructure that makes it the most viable option for American travelers who prefer taking a quick flight over a lengthy train ride.

The country’s first high-speed bullet train that would connect Southern California to Southern Nevada will seek to address those issues by becoming an attractive transportation option by shortening travel time.

While air travel currently retails at a fraction of the cost of train travel in the US, updated technology and high-speed rail systems will hopefully reduce train travel costs if the demand is high. The most important piece of leverage to the rail system will be the time travelers will save as opposed to making the drive between the two cities. It will effectively cut the travel time by more than half.

Business travelers could also find the additional time saved as more attractive, as it would allow them to do work on the train ride versus productive time lost making the drive themselves.

Another California Bullet Train Seems Like a Distant Dream

For decades, the state of California has been trying to build a route that would go from Los Angeles to San Francisco, but it keeps getting derailed. The $77 billion project promises to “transform how Californians travel.” So what’s the hold up?

Talks of a bullet train that would connect eight of California’s largest cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, first began in 1981. High-speed rail advocates plead that the alternative source of travel would help to greatly alleviate the state’s notorious traffic issue, and clear up pollution caused by heavy vehicle use.

But, decades later, the costly plan is still in a stalemate. California governor Gavin Newsom said this in his 2019 state address:

“The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long.”

Plan Opponents

Californians who aren’t on board with the plan cite concerns of the rail system cutting into their state’s beautiful landscape, and that the high price tag won’t show high returns when the demand for this mode of transportation will be on the lower end.

“It’s an unambiguous money-waster at a time when we have many demands on public resources,” said James Moore, director of the University of Southern California’s Transportation Engineering Program, in an interview with the Guardian.

“It’s economically clear that it’s not going to turn a profit, even if we take construction out of the project, even if we just focus on operating costs,” Moore said. “By law, the system has to operate without a subsidy. The fares that would be necessary to begin to recover cost will be so high that there will be insufficient demand for that mode of transportation.”

Plan Supporters

Californians in favor of the bullet train say that a state as widespread as California, that has multiple big cities that residents regularly travel between, needs an alternative mode of transportation.

Matt Regan, the senior vice-president of housing policy for the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, points to the Bay Area housing crisis that causes 200,000 residents to drive in from the Central Valley to get to work every day.

Regan says that a high-speed rail would offer two-fold benefits: Create an easier commute for those 200,000 affected residents and reduce air pollution that’s caused by cars sitting in traffic. According to Regan, 40% of the state’s greenhouse gas is caused by idle cars in traffic.

Iowa Opens up Betfred SportsBook at Grand Falls Casino

Sportsbook Moneylines, Map of Iowa Postcard
The Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort in Larchwood was the first Northwest to officially allow sports betting last September. On Thursday, they celebrated a momentous milestone with the grand opening of their new Betfred Sportsbook. Betfred, a reputable English-based gambling operator first founded in 1967, will be running the sportsbook’s daily operations as part of the new partnership with the casino.

Not only is the Betfred partnership unique to the state, but the country as a whole. The Iowa casino has the honor of being the first casino in the US that will be providing sports bets through the wildly popular Great Britain company. It will be exciting to see the imprint the company will make in their first expedition overseas.

Bryan Bennett, chief operating officer of Betfred USA Sports, seems more than optimistic:

“It’s been robust, as you would think, Tuesday was bigger than Monday, Wednesday was bigger than Tuesday, today’s going to be bigger,” Bennett said. “And it’s going to keep going, Sunday obviously culminating with the Super Bowl.”

Betfred Partnership Will Allow Robust Betting Options

Being backed by a heavyweight sports betting operator like Betfred means that the casino will easily have the means to accommodate a wide variety of bets. Versatility on this playing level makes them an extremely attractive betting provider in the region, so much so that they can surpass the level that Las Vegas sportsbooks might even provide.

The various bets the new Betfred Sports offers include, but are not limited to, professional and collegiate level games, prop bets featuring a variety of different factors (not just the winning team), and a variety of professional sports.

“For the Super Bowl alone, we have probably 1,000 props, 1,000 different things you can bet on, just for the Super Bowl alone,” Bennett said.

App Launch in the Works

In addition to the physical sportsbook currently being operated at Grand Falls, Betfred is also planning to launch an app. This will allow bettors more variety in their betting experience and add another element of available options and convenience that’s been the trademark behind Betfred’s success over the years.

The company hopes to have the app rolled out and up and running, just in time for March Madness, which begins on March 15, 2020.

About Betfred

Betfred is an innovating UK-based sports betting operator who opened their first shop in 1967 in Salford, England, through founding brothers Fred and Peter Done. With over 50 years in operation, they’ve grown to become one of the most established and respected names in the gambling industry.

From expanding from a single shop to creating an empire of more than 1,650 brick-and-mortar shops in England, to transitioning to the digital sphere and making their name in online gambling, Betfred has been a reputable source for wager making that’s consistently developed and improved itself over time.

In addition to Iowa, Betfred is planning to enter into more states with their sports betting operation, including Pennsylvania and Colorado.

Super Bowl Bets Net $1.2M for New Hampshire’s Educational Programs

Pile of Money, New Hampshire Flag
New Hampshire’s brand-new online sports betting program, which is managed through DraftKings and officially got up and running this past December, brought in an impressive $2.31 million in Super Bowl bets this past Sunday.

“The Patriots may not be playing in this year’s Super Bowl but that is not stopping New Hampshire from winning big,” said New Hampshire’s Governor, Chris Sununu.

Just last month, the New Hampshire Lottery and DraftKings combined forces to launch online and mobile sports betting in the state for the first time. And the results have been surprising to say the least. Since launching, close to 30,000 registered users have wagered over $17.3 million in sports bets.

“Our initial results over the first month speak to just how significant it was that we were able to launch mobile and online sports betting in time for the NFL playoffs, and specifically the Super Bowl,” said Charlie McIntyre, executive director for the New Hampshire Lottery.

“The Super Bowl is the single largest sports event of the year and we have seen incredible momentum building over the past few weeks. We are off to a tremendous start and we look forward to building on this success and continuing to maximize support for education in New Hampshire.”

Sports Betting off to a Strong Start

The timing of the recently launched sports betting program could not have come at a better time, with the Super Bowl being the driving force behind New Hampshire’s impressively strong sports betting start. McIntyre mentioned how hard the state worked to have the app ready during the year’s most profitable earning period.

“I don’t think the (state Legislature) thought we would launch this fast and we did,” McIntyre said.

The NFL playoffs brought in New Hampshire’s two biggest betting days so far, with at least $1 million being wagered each day. But McIntyre said that while the NFL was a big reason behind the state’s betting power, a lot of the early success comes from the “significant pent-up demand for sports betting that was being done in illegal markets and is now being done legally with regulations.”

A Win for the Kids

According to the Lottery Commission, the newly-launch online sports betting program has translated into a $1.2 million profit for the state’s educational programs. McIntyre and Sununu believe the state could rack in close to $10 million annually to the state’s education trust fund, which is directly distributed to schools in the state.

“In just one month, sports betting has generated over $1.2 million in net profit to the state, which goes directly toward supporting our education system – a win for kids. There is no doubt that New Hampshire is already serving as New England’s go-to destination for sports betting, and we are just getting started,” said Gov. Sununu.

About the New Hampshire Lottery

First founded in 1964, the New Hampshire Lottery reached an all-time record of $106.5 million during Fiscal Year 2019. Since its inception, it’s been the biggest contributor to education in the state, contributing upwards of $2 billion to the cause.

If sports betting continues to be successful in its predicted trend, the $10 million it’s projected to make in net profit for educational funds could make up 10% of what the New Hampshire Lottery contributed to state education in their ground-breaking 2019 sales year of $106.5 million.

How to Bet

Looking to place bets? New Hampshire residents can use the DraftKings Sportsbook app to place their bets, the exclusive digital operator in the state.

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What to Know:
New Hampshire state laws forbids bets being placed on state college teams or any college games that is set to occur within the state lines.

Virginia Lawmakers Take Steps to Legalize Casinos in the State

Wavy Flag for State of Virginia
On Tuesday, a senate committee advanced legislation that would allow voters across five key Virginia cities to hold local referendums to approve casinos. Voter approval will be key before the state can proceed forward with any more momentum to legalize casinos.

Those southern cities include Bristol, Danville, Richmond, Norfolk and Portsmouth. Currently, Virginia is one of the few states that disallow casinos of any kind in the state. However, the state has been moving toward casino legalization within the last few years, after decades of opposing it.

The Case for Legalization

The biggest sponsor for casino legislation in the state has been Democratic Senator Louise Lucas of Portsmouth. He’s adamantly advocated for the people of Virginia to be given the opportunity to determine their own destiny, calling the legalization of casinos a “no-brainer.”

“It’s been 25 years coming!” said Lucas during the first baby steps the Senate committee took last June in favor of getting this bill passed.

Those in favor of legalization argue that large-scale resorts that include casinos will boost the economy, creating new employment opportunities by the amount of jobs that will be generated as a result, as well effectively increasing tax revenues.

In a report recently released by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, it found that resort-style casinos located in Virginia’s aforementioned southern cities could generate around $260 million annually in new state gaming taxes, and create around 5,000 jobs.

The Case Against Legalization

Conservative groups aren’t optimistic over the benefits legalized casinos could provide to the state, arguing that it will instead create increased issues, such as high rates of people suffering from gambling addictions, along with higher crime rates.

These groups have also warned lawmakers that wealthy developers will be the ones who benefit from the news casinos, not the state’s poor.

It appears the conservative influence on the state has recently started to fizzle out, with the democratic win of the General Assembly majority back in November. It’s the first time democrats have won a majority in the state in over 20 years. The reason for the recent advancement in legislation can be seen as a direct result of GOP leaders losing their influencing power in keeping legislation at a standstill.

Keeping Casinos in the Southern Part of the State

The decision to focus on Virginia’s southern cities as possible casino locations has to do with lawmakers lack of enthusiasm that a casino could do as well in Northern Virginia. This has to do with the fact that MGM Resorts International $1.4 billion resort and casino recently opened in Maryland, a hop, skip, and a jump away from nearby Virginia.

Located across the Potomac River, just outside of Washington DC, MGM National Harbor has the current monopoly in the area. It boasts having a gaming floor “bigger than the White House,” over 300 luxury rooms, and a 3,000-seat theater.

What Comes Next?

Quiet negotiations are currently taking place with regards to legislation, discussing important key points such as the number of casinos the state will allow, and who will be appointed to run them. Jim McGlothlin, a wealthy coal industrialist who is planning to build a Hard Rock casino and resort in Bristol, and the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, who have their sights set on casinos in Richmond and Norfolk, are major contenders as far as potential casino owners go.

Martin Kent, CEO of The United Company, is also looking to have a casino in Bristol. He said this in regard to the legislation surrounding making that happen:

“Even in Virginia, there’s a lot of confusion about what happened last year. I think it’s best probably summed up this way: Any major issue that Virginia, its legislature, is looking to pass will oftentimes go through a re-enactment provision.”

Other key topics in Virginia’s legislature this year are the gambling issues that may arise with legalized casinos, as well as determining whether to legalize online sports betting and/or ban betting machines in convenience stores across the state.

Slot machines in Virginia’s convenience stores fell under a legally gray area in a state that’s been generally opposed to gambling. Since it was argued that a game that involves skill rather than chance is otherwise legal, it allowed for the implementation of slot machines to be overlooked during that time.

McCarran International Airport Parking Fees Increase

Airport Parking Garage, Cars Parked
Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport saw a parking increase go into effect on Monday, Feb. 3.

Long term daily parking, which was previously $16, is now $18 a day. Economy parking, which was previously $10, is up $2 as well, at $12 a day. The increase is in effect for both terminal 1 and 3 garages. In addition to daily garage increases, valet parking rates have also gone up to $30 daily from $23.

Short-term hourly parking rates have also jumped from $2, for a three-hour period, to $3, and $4 for every additional hour added. Short-term parking garage rates have remained the same, however, capping out at $36 per day. The remote parking lot rate will also stay unchanged, at a $15 daily rate, according to Airport spokesman Joe Rajchel.

Impound rates are seeing the biggest increase of the bunch, jumping up to $50 a day from $10 per day in order to get the vehicle back.

Rajchel says that this is the first time the airport’s parking fees have seen an official increase take place since 2013. Since 2013, airport traffic has increased a whopping 20%, with 2019 bringing in a record-breaking number of 51.5 million passengers.

How the Airport Plans to Use the Additional Parking Funds

McCarran Airport plans to use the additional revenue gained from the increased parking rates toward projects that will help maximize the number of parking spaces available. They also plan to create more spaces within the airport that will have a clearer distinction between pedestrians and vehicles.

Future Airport Project Talks

McCarran’s state-of-the-art Terminal 3, completed in 2012, was the airport’s largest expansion effort to date, costing around $2.4 billion. It was also the largest public works project to take place in Nevada’s history. It helped nearly triple the size of airport, in order to keep up with the ever-expanding city of Las Vegas, and the number of visitors who want to get a slice of it every year.

“We feel that we can easily accommodate 60 million passengers going in and out,” said Rosemary Vassiliadis, director of the Clark County Department of Aviation.

It’s clear that leading airport officials are confident in McCarran’s ability to handle the large, annually growing number of passengers, without the immediate need of an additional airport in the region. However, Vassiliadis says that the department will continue to pursue plans for a second major airport.

Ivanpah Valley Airport

The airport would be located on federal land in Ivanpah Valley, which is about 30 miles south of Las Vegas, along Interstate 15 between Jean and Primm.

Last June, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Clark County Department of Aviation all signed a memorandum that would allow an environmental impact study to take place that would study the 6,500-acre proposed Ivanpah Valley airport site.

The new airport isn’t a project that’s being rushed for completion, however, especially with McCarran’s capacity and the success of terminal 3 in effectively handling the increased passenger load. A second airport would be at least 15 years away.

Las Vegas NFL Draft Volunteers Can Sign up at This Website

NFL Logo, NFL Field
The city of Las Vegas was given the honor to host one of football’s most anticipated events, the 2020 NFL Draft. It’s the first time the city, who recently welcomed in the now-official Las Vegas Raiders, has ever hosted the event. It’s projected to bring in nearly 400,000 visitors from all over the country. The draft is scheduled to take place on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip from April 23-25.

With an event of this magnitude, volunteers by the numbers are being invited to help. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) began the process of recruiting volunteers on Monday.

From the various events and games that will be held surrounding the main event, as well as other major events scheduled to be held in Las Vegas throughout the year, thanks to Allegiant Stadium’s estimated July 2020 completion date, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities locals can choose from.

“With an ever-growing roster of championship sorts and special events coming to Las Vegas, it’s a prime time for local residents to get involved and be part of the action,” said Lisa Motley, director of sports marketing and special events for LVCVA, in a press release. “This is a great opportunity to showcase our tremendous community pride and for locals to be an integral part of a variety of extremely exciting contests and special events.”

Event Volunteer Opportunities

NFL Draft Experience

The NFL Draft experience, presented by Oikos, is a free event for fans that will be held every day during the 3-day NFL Draft. Fans will have the opportunity to snag autographs from their favorite players, as well as participate in a 40-yard dash competition. Scheduled times are Thursday, April 23, from noon through 9 p.m., Friday, April 24, from noon through 9 p.m., and Sunday, April 25, from 9 a.m. through 6 p.m.

Las Vegas Bowl

Announced last year, Las Vegas’ new world-class Allegiant Stadium will host the 2020 Las Vegas Bowl, in a six-year deal. The Bowl will feature a Pac-12 Conference team who will either be going against a Big Ten Conference team or a SEC opponent.

John Saccenti, executive director for Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas had the following to say:

“This is a ground-breaking development for our game and for our city.

In less than three decades the Las Vegas Bowl has grown into a must-see event each December and this collaboration takes us to the next level in not only the bowl world, but also the sports landscape as we will welcome three of the top conference brands in the nation to our event, which will be played in a stadium that is second-to-none.”

Pac-12 Football Championship

The Pac-12 league title game will move its championship game to Las Vegas for 2020 and 2021. The title game has been held at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for the past six years, beginning in 2014. The upcoming season will also be played at the Raiders’ new stadium.

Other major volunteer opportunities throughout the year will include various NASCAR races and the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, scheduled from December 3-12.

Where to Sign Up

The LVCVA has recently launched a portal where interested volunteers can register by filling out their required contact information, including email address, home address, contact numbers, and event shirt size. Once registered, notifications for open volunteer opportunities will be sent directly to volunteers as soon as they’re available. To sign up, visit the LVCVA portal at lvcva.rosterfy.com/register.

Golden Knights to Host Annual Fan Fest in Downtown Las Vegas February

Vegas Golden Knights Banner in Hockey RinkThe Vegas Golden Knights announced on Wednesday that they will be hosting their annual Fan Fest on Saturday, Feb. 29. It will be held at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, which is presented by the D Las Vegas, from 1-3 p.m.

It’s a free event that’s open to the public. You might be able to catch one of your favorite Knights’ players, as select players will be in attendance. Golden Knights broadcasters will also plan to be at the event.

The event will include various fun activities for fans of all different ages to engage in, including “Family Feud” and “Newlywed” style games between broadcasters and players. Question and answer sessions highlighting VGK knowledge will also go down.

More hands-on activities that will be available include street hockey, inflatable obstacle courses, face painters, and balloon artists. Fans will even get a chance to see performances and receive lessons from the VGK team.

The first 500 fans to make it to the event will receive a free Golden Knights/D Las Vegas giveaway item.

Food and beverage will also be available at the event for purchase.

Golden Knights season ticket holders will be able to enjoy an expedited entry into the event, as well as access to a Member Exclusive standing area, according to the team.

About the Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights are members of the National Hockey League (NHL) franchise and were first founded in 2017. Las Vegas first dedicated NHL team, they started their inaugural season impressively strong despite the Route 91 Harvest music festival shooting that struck Las Vegas on October 1st, 2017.

In fact, the team being formed during the tragedy helped raised the community spirit in ways the city didn’t expect.

“Having the team in this city during 1 October created a bond for all of us,” said Dena DuBoef-Roth, a Las Vegas local. None of these guys were from Las Vegas, except for one, yet they became one of us. They were not an just NHL expansion team. They were our team.”

They made it all the way to the playoffs in their first season, coming short against the Washington Capitals in their quest for the 2018 Stanley Cup. The Knights continue to work hard and make their fans proud through their dedicated sportsmanship and community efforts.

In the summer of 2019, VGK launched The Knights Assist, which is a community grant program providing aid to various Las Vegas-based nonprofit organizations. The program has provided $50,000 in community grants to five different charities that fall within the Knight’s giving pillars: Health and wellness, education, military, hunger and homelessness, and youth.

Grants are awarded bi-annually through the program, once in the spring and once in the fall.

About the D Las Vegas

The D Las Vegas is a modern-day casino and hotel experience, with hints of vintage Vegas, in the heart of downtown Las Vegas. The property offers comfortable rooms, blackjack tables, old and new slots, and bars that provide bustling entertainment and delicious drinks. As an ode to its innovative nature, the casino has recently released a cashless gaming system.

Las Vegas Will Run AD During Super Bowl Sunday for the First Time

Person's Hands Holding Remote, Watching Football on TVWith their official name change to the Las Vegas Raiders, and the 2018 Supreme Court ruling that allows sports betting, the NFL’s inviting Las Vegas to share in some of the action on their biggest stage.

During this sunday’s Super Bowl LIV pre-game spots, Las Vegas will run an advertisement for the first time ever. The 30-second “Key of Vegas” spot will air, highlighting the city’s new slogan, “What Happens Here, Only Happens Here,” between 5:30 – 6 p.m. EST/2:30 – 3 p.m. PST.

The spot showcases various Las Vegas residency artists, including Shania Twain, Aerosmith, and Christina Aguilera. It also highlight several famed Las Vegas locations, old and new, including Fremont Street Experience, where Twain can be seen riding a horse in a white dress in the ad, the library in Park MGM’s new NoMad Bar, and the Cirque de Soleil stage.

Lady Gaga’s bandleader, Brian Newman, and UFC heavyweight fighter, Francis Ngannou, also make an appearance.

The goal of the ad is to emphasize the unique experiences that visitors can only get in Las Vegas, and how varied those experiences are in today’s Vegas. Las Vegas continues to transform itself from a gambling mecca, to entertainment capital of the world, to most recently, a sport’s town.

In a pattern of firsts, the new campaign launched during last Sunday’s GRAMMY awards, featuring Vegas’ latest ad.

Marquee roll-outs across the Strip’s popular casinos and downtown displaying the new slogan were planned to be unveiled on Sunday night as well, but were postponed in lieu of the news of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight other victims, including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna. Marquee’s instead displayed the message, “LA, our hearts go out to you…RIP Kobe.”

A Winning Combination

The National Football League and Las Vegas have had a growing relationship throughout the years. In the years prior, the league didn’t allow the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority the permission to feature any ads during the Super Bowl.

The LVCVA is Southern Nevada’s marketing arm which spends around $100 million on all advertising efforts, with the latest slogan rebranding biting out a major chunk of this year’s budget.

With the arrival of the Las Vegas Raiders, and Las Vegas being named the host city of 2020’s NFL Draft, that has since changed. The Las Vegas ad airing during NFL’s biggest day will hopefully further draw connections to viewers that Las Vegas is quickly transforming into a serious sport’s town now, too.

Steve Hill, CEO and president of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said this of the exciting new partnership:

“We are excited to welcome the NFL to Las Vegas in 2020 with the Raiders inaugural season this fall and the NFL Draft coming in April. This is a partnership that continues to grow and is another big reason the destination is a mecca for sports fans, who flock to Las Vegas every year for an experience that only happens here.”

In addition to landing the TV spot, Las Vegas has also secured a Twitter sponsorship for Super Bowl Sunday, with Twitter running the 30-second ad in their highlight clips from the @NFL handle.

DraftKings and FanDuel Enter Colorado With Twin River Partnerships

DraftKings Backwards HatOn Monday, Twin River Worldwide Holdings announced separate market access partnerships with daily fantasy sports heavyweights DraftKings and FanDuel, giving sports fans in Colorado access to award-winning sportsbook products. Under the deals, both operators will receive the required permissions to operate mobile and online sportsbooks in the Centennial State.

Twin River Worldwide Holdings owns several casinos nationwide. Aside from Colorado, they manage properties throughout Rhode Island, Mississippi, and Delaware. In Colorado alone, Twin River operates three casinos and a horse racetrack.

These partnerships combine Twin River Worldwide Holdings’ nationwide experience in gaming and casino operations with market-leading sports betting expertise and globally recognizable brands.

The company recently purchased Golden Gates, Golden Gulch, and Mardi Gras. Each property comes with the ability to obtain three sports betting licenses. CEO George Papanier made the following statement regarding the acquisition:

“Completing the acquisition of Golden Gates, Golden Gulch, and Mardi Gras casinos in Black Hawk, Colorado last week included the right to three sports gaming licenses in Colorado and will really allow us to expand our footprint here well beyond our Arapahoe Park racetrack and off-track betting network.”

FanDuel Partnership

In the past, FanDuel Sportsbook has been available in Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Colorado is now the fifth state in which FanDuel will offer its services to gamblers. Their CEO, Matt King, also had something to share:

“Twin River has been engaged in sports betting since the beginning in Rhode Island and Mississippi, and they are an ideal partner as we continue to enter states that open up online and mobile sports betting.

Colorado has a sensible framework for sports betting, and we are excited to partner with a renowned gaming company like Twin River to bring our market-leading online sports betting experience to Colorado sports fans.”

Sports bettors will soon have access to a variety of online wagering options, including point spreads, moneylines, over/under, parlays, teasers, prop bets, round robins, and a long list of live bets. The FanDuel Sportsbook app will only make betting easier for Colorado residents.

DraftKings Partnership

Colorado is the sixth state to offer the DraftKings’ Sportsbook platform. They previously offered their services in the following states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Hampshire, and West Virginia.

“Coast to coast, DraftKings is committed to providing states across the country with the ultimate experience in legal sports betting,” said Ezra Kucharz, DraftKings’ Chief Business Officer.

Twin River holds a mutual pledge to providing exciting, real-time gaming opportunities, and we look forward to working alongside them to introduce Colorado sports fans to our award-winning product.”

As well as mobile and online sportsbook access, the partnership will also allow Colorado sports fans to place sports bets via a retail betting operation at Mardi Gras Casino in Black Hawk, CO. Colorado will become the fifth state where DraftKings operates a retail location, joining Iowa, Mississippi, New Jersey, and New York, subject to adoption of applicable regulations and both parties securing necessary gaming licenses.

Atlantic City Casino Execs Want City Cleaned Up, No Gambling at Showboat

Atlantic City CasinosAtlantic City’s top casino executives all agree that Atlantic City needs to clean up its act and become a safer place with a better public perception if business stands a chance of improving.

On Thursday, a few casino executives spoke at a panel held by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce. One area of concern they raised was of the non-gambling hotel, Showboat. Its owner had plans to reinstate gambling as a recreational activity on the property.

In the past, Atlantic City was known as a popular gambling destination right by the seaside. Today, executives are seeing a decrease in profits and hoping to adapt to the changing landscape. In the first half of 2019, profits were down almost 17%.

Thursday’s panel was unique in that it was the first sustained, nearly unanimous declaration by Atlantic City’s casino leadership. The group shared a common dissatisfaction with current conditions in the city, but it was something they previously addressed only in passing, or in private.

All of this comes on the heels of critical comments made two weeks ago from Jim Allen, CEO of Hard Rock International, that Atlantic City “is going in the wrong direction” and is in worse shape than when his company bought the casino three years ago.

Executives Voice Their Concerns

 “Our buildings can’t be surrounded by drug addicts and prostitutes,” said Hard Rock President Joe Lupo. “The street lights need to work. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. The city needs to be in better shape; it’s going to be tough. Go out and buy the biggest bulldozer the county has to offer, and you could probably make a lot of positive changes.”

It’s of no surprise that Atlantic City’s downtown and casino areas have high crime rates, but Resorts President Mark Giannantonio stated the facts: “We all agree we’re not pleased with where we are with the Tourism District.” He insisted that an overall reduction in crime might just improve revenue and visitation to Atlantic City by a significant 20% to 30%.

Eldorado Gaming, the parent company of the Tropicana property in AC, sent Senior VP Steve Callender to represent them in the panel. Callender identified the issues with vagrants who found solace at casinos, claiming, “they’ll stay there forever.”

Apart from loitering being a common concern, Callender also pointed out a maintenance issue. He said changes need to be made for the downtown and the casino district as a whole. He also complained about “three-foot potholes” near the entrance to his casino, because the city has neglected to repair them.

“There’s still a lot of blight,” added Borgata President Marcus Glover. “You need to get some wins and get some earned media about the positive things happening in Atlantic City.”

Ron Baumann, regional president of Caesars Entertainment, which owns Caesars, Bally’s and Harrah’s, said Atlantic City hasn’t improved by much within these last 10 years. He claimed there has been “ample opportunity and money” to help increase revenue and visitation. Baumann then called out the state agency in charge of planning and development in Atlantic City, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, saying they need to shift their focus and help solve societal issues in the city as a whole.

Executives Reject Idea of Gambling at Restored Showboat

Lastly, the casino executives blasted developer Bart Blatstein’s plan to restore casino gambling to the Showboat. The Showboat first opened in 1987. Although it was profitable, Caesars closed down the property in 2014.

Philly developer Bart Blatstein purchased it in 2016 and reopened the Showboat as a non-gaming hotel in July of that year. Two years later, he began applying for a casino license.

On Tuesday, Blatstein stated he sold the Playground pier complex back to Caesars Entertainment. Blatstein told The Associated Press that the move frees him up to pursue the restoration of gambling at the Showboat.

But Baumann, whose company is regaining ownership of the pier from Blatstein, said “the Northeast market is saturated; the last thing Atlantic City needs is another casino.” He added that “it would be purely cannibalistic to do something along those lines.”

Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small has not immediately responded to a message seeking comment on Thursday.

Arkansas’ Southland Casino Launches Sports Betting in Time for Super Bowl

Sportsbook Filled with PeopleWest Memphis, Arkansas is setting up their Southland Casino for success, as the gaming complex launched sports betting within days of the Super Bowl.

It appears the timing was coincidental, as Southland maintains that it is sheer coincidence that their sportsbooks would go live just a mere five days before the biggest sporting event in the country.

Senior Director of Marketing for Southland Casino Jeff Strang said “Timing is great. We feed off a population and we’re hoping it’s going to make it more convenient to come here based on time, travel as elsewhere in the Midsouth.”

Super Bowl Weekend Big for Numbers

The Super Bowl brings super betting along with it. New data from the American Gaming Association says 26 million Americans will wager approximately $6.8 billion on Super Bowl 54, a 15% increase from last year’s game as the Kansas City Chiefs face off against the San Francisco 49ers. This year’s Super Bowl will also be the most legally bet on Super Bowl in history.

With Super Bowl 54 expected to see a record number of betting dollars being wagered across the US, Southland Casino will certainly be getting a piece of the pie.

Bill Miller, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, points to research showing that 75 percent of NFL bettors are more likely to watch a game they have bet on:

“When Americans have skin in the game, it’s clear they are more likely to tune in,” he says. “It means the NFL is starting to realize the $2.3 billion opportunity that comes from sports betting annually.”

Southland Gets Help From Parent Company

Southland Casino is actually owned by the parent company, Delaware North, which recently signed a sports betting deal with IGT after months of a contract dispute with their previous sports betting supplier. The deal they made may have played a role in the timing of the launch date of Southland casino’s sportsbook.

However, any extra revenue will not just benefit Southland Casino. In fact, the entire city of West Memphis is planning to use the extra profit to improve upon and expand the city. Aside from attracting sports bettors, they’re hoping to turn it into a more tourist-friendly destination overall.

Expansions in West Memphis

West Memphis is looking to have a city-wide expansion to boost tourism, and sports betting going live is merely a small part of the plan. The city is also currently undertaking multiple different projects in hopes of bringing in more visitors. The state of Arkansas isn’t necessarily the most popular destination for a vacation in the United States, but the launch of sportsbooks in Southland Casino could be one essential part of the city’s revival.

Strang continues on the benefits for West Memphis by saying, “This adds more inventory to help compete to bring more events to the Memphis area so it compliments Memphis.”

Some of the other projects currently in the works are a 20-story hotel that is under construction, an expanded casino floor for Southland, and more restaurants.

As part of West Memphis Mayor Marco’s vision for a “new” city, it will include a new courthouse, police substation, library and two new fire stations. These essential city services, which were funded for a cool $12 million, will be placed strategically along Broadway Avenue.

“I am happy about the direction West Memphis is going. We haven’t had a building built since 1974. I wasn’t even born then. But, now we are about to have five new buildings,” said West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon.

Personalized Bricks for Sale at Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas

Personalized Bricks on GroundNot only are the Raiders making history with their recent transition from the Oakland Raiders to the Las Vegas Raiders, Vegas’ first dedicated NFL team, but Raiders fans now have the opportunity to secure a piece of history alongside with them.

The Raiders Foundation announced on Tuesday that fans will be able to purchase a personalized brick at Allegiant Stadium, the team’s new home in Las Vegas, through the Legacy Brick Program.

The personalized bricks will be cemented right in front of the entrance where fans will walk in once the stadium officially opens its doors August 2020. The bricks are a great way to pay tribute to loved ones or your love for Raider nation, in a lasting way.

All Proceeds Benefit the Raiders Foundation

Bricks range from $850-$1500, and all proceeds will benefit the Raiders Foundation, the charitable arm of the Raiders. Every dollar that is generated through the foundation goes straight back into the community. The foundation is committed to increasing community and civic health through military support, youth development, youth sport’s initiative and growing the game of football, according to a news release.

The Raiders Foundation first major charitable act as the Las Vegas Raiders was pledging $500,000 to eliminate student meal debt across the silver state:

“Today, we want to make a donation to the Nevada Department of Agriculture meal service program, which feeds kids lunch and breakfast at the schools. We are hoping to eliminate the debt that the entire state of Nevada has to do that project, and in that regard we are donating $500,000 to the program,” said Raiders Owner Mark Davis.

On Tuesday, Raiders partnered with MGM Resorts and Clean the World to package and donate hygiene kits to homeless veterans.

The Raiders are currently scheduling elementary schools, recreation centers, and other non-profit organizations for 2020 Raiders Junior Training Camps. These are free youth football clinics facilitated by the Raiders for boys and girls ages 7-12.

Raiders Junior Training Camps emphasize education, exercise and positive choices for kids in a safe and fun environment. The Camp’s curriculum was developed so that any student can participate regardless of age, gender, ability, or experience.

Raiders Surprise Local Fan-Family with Stadium’s First Seats

On Tuesday, the Raiders also surprised fans with the first installed stadium seats in a Twitter video, as well as the family that will be calling those seats theirs this year.

The Diaz family lives in Vegas but have been loyal Raiders supporters for years. One of the family members in the video mentioned that he is a Raiders season ticket holder and has been traveling to Oakland from Vegas to see the games. Now that the Raiders are officially in Vegas, the family couldn’t be more thrilled.

The Diaz family thought they were just taking a tour of the stadium. Instead, the organization surprised them with the first seats in the house, which the Raiders say will be the same seats they will sit in this upcoming season.

Bankruptcy Auction Sells 38 Acres of Property on Las Vegas Strip

Aerial View of South End Las Vegas StripChapter 11 Trustee, Attorney Kavita Gupta, has been appointed to oversee the bankruptcy sale of 38.56 acres of privately-owned real property on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. The Bankruptcy Court approved a bid deadline of April 30, 2020 for those who are planning to set a bid. For qualified bidders to auction, they set a deadline of May 19, 2020.

“The auction process is intended to bring about an efficient, transparent and final sale of this property. The 12 parcels can be purchased individually or in the aggregate with offers reviewed and considered in advance of the bid deadline,” said Gupta.

The development site, which is over 38 acres large, also includes around 750 feet of frontage on Las Vegas Boulevard directly across from Mandalay Bay. It’s prime real estate, considering the fact that it’s walking distance from the new Las Vegas Raiders stadium.

The development is being touted as a once in a lifetime opportunity as it’s in a Qualified Opportunity Zone and zoned for gaming, hotels, retail, restaurants, entertainment, resort uses and parking among other uses.

Since the properties are located just west of McCarran International Airport, there are maximum height allowances for different parts of the property.

Prime Real Estate

Matthew Bordwin, Principal at Keen-Summit Capital Partners LLC, one of the exclusive real estate advisors for this offering, says there’s nothing else like this property available for development on the Strip. With the heart of the Strip being between the Wynn property and Mandalay Bay being fully developed, this opportunity is the last true development opportunity within the heart of the Strip.

Michael Stuart, Broker at Colliers International, another exclusive real estate advisor for this offering, commented further that:

“The southern part of the Strip is becoming a strong growth area due to the opening of the new Raiders Stadium later this year. There is limited opportunity for developers to take advantage of a site of this size and capitalize on the more than 42 million annual visitors.”

Bankruptcy Filing

On April 30th of 2018, Desert Land LLC, Desert Oasis Apartments LLC, and Desert Oasis Investments LLC all filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions in the District of Nevada. Because Kavita Gupta is the court-appointed Chapter 11 Trustee for the properties, she has the responsibility and the right to oversee the entire sale process. Gupta also has to manage the debtors’ property and business activities.

Then, in December of 2019, Gupta appointed Keen-Summit Capital Partners LLC and Colliers International as the exclusive real estate agents for the aforementioned properties.

About Keen-Summit Capital Partners LLC

Keen-Summit Capital Partners LLC is a real estate brokerage, workout and investment banking firm. They are known for their concentration and focus on special situations, restructurings, bankruptcies, and receiverships. With a particular expertise in workouts and restructurings, Keen-Summit Capital Partners LLC represents property owners, retail and commercial tenants, commercial and industrial businesses, investors, developers, and creditors across various industries.

About Colliers International

Colliers International (NASDAQ, TSX: CIGI) is a leading global real estate services and investment management company. With operations in 68 countries, their 14,000 enterprising people work collaboratively to provide expert advice and services to maximize the value of property for real estate occupiers, owners and investors.

The approved bid procedures and full offering details are available at www.DevelopTheStrip.com

Washington Legislature Introduces Bills to Allow Sports Betting

Sports BookIn Washington state, bills to allow sports betting at Indian casinos for major events, like the Super Bowl and the World Series, have just been introduced. It looks like sports betting is expanding in the United States, following the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed for it to be legalized in every state.

These bills would effectively allow owners of the 29 Indian casinos in the state to open Las Vegas-style sportsbooks. While it’s a big move for sports betting in Washington, a company that operates 19 private card rooms in Washington says the bills should allow mobile betting, too.

Eric Persson, the owner of Maverick Gaming, said their company should also be allowed to offer sports betting services. This includes betting via the use of cellphones, computers, and other smart devices.

“That’s what the consumer wants,’‘ Persson told the House Commerce and Gaming Committee on Monday afternoon.

The committee heard Persson’s testimony about the proposal, but did not take a vote. The next sports betting hearing is scheduled for Thursday before a Senate committee.

Legal Gambling Can Help End Illegal Gambling

Rebecca Kaldor, director of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, said the casinos provide jobs and government services in some of the poorest parts of the state. Kaldor mentioned that Indian casinos provide jobs for over 30,000 people. In turn, they pay over $1.5 billion a year in wages and benefits. They also pay $722 million in taxes and account for over $5.7 billion for the state’s economy alone.

But Persson said operators of card rooms and other non-Indian gambling businesses should share in the sports betting action. He said many people in Washington are already betting on sports via off-shore bookies.

When asked how to reduce illegal gambling, Persson said people will naturally pursue legal options if given the choice.

Persson even pushed for Washington to start providing mobile betting options to bet on sports, insisting that the accessibility and legality would help end prohibited gambling on sports.

A few representatives from Native American casinos spoke out against adding cardrooms to sports betting venues. They believe those are private, unrelated businesses that don’t necessarily offer any benefits to Washington residents.

The Slow and Steady Approach

The Washington state House bill seeks to “figure out a slow and steady way to kind of enter into this new arena of gambling,” said House Commerce and Gaming Committee Chairman Strom Peterson, a Democrat from Edmonds and the sponsor of the measure.

The aforementioned bill would permit Native American-based casinos to revise their gambling agreements with Washington legislators and allow betting on sports in the future. However, the bill does block betting on sporting events that involve universities or colleges within the state. This is a legal component that other states have implemented as well, in an effort to prevent any potential corruption.

Native American leaders, along with casinos, have testified in support of the prohibition of betting on collegiate sporting events.

David Bean, chairman of the Puyallup Tribe, said gaming revenues have provided tribes with the means to provide many services to their members, and many jobs to both Indians and non-Indians.

“Indian casinos are a natural place for sports betting”, Bean said. “You know us. You trust us,” Bean said. “This is our home.”

Charlene Tillequots, a Yakama Nation Tribal Council member, said tribes have years of experience operating casinos. But Tillequots also said that sports betting is an activity that will require proper management.

Penn National Gaming, Owner of Tropicana, Buys Stake in Barstool Sports

Cartoon Hands ShakingPenn National Gaming, a regional gambling operator which owns the Tropicana Casino in Las Vegas, announced on Wednesday that it has bought a minority stake in Barstool Sports, the digital sports, entertainment and media platform.

With the $163 million deal, Penn National Gaming hopes it will put them in a prime position to compete in the growing sports-betting market in the US. Barstool, known for its roots as a Boston sports blog founded in 2003, is valued at a whopping $450 million.

When considering the deal, Barstool Sports will become a private gaming partner for Penn National. This deal could be active for up to 40 years and will give them the exclusive right to use the Barstool brand, whether that’s for online betting or retail products.

Penn National expects to close the deal in the first quarter of 2020, according to a company press release.

“With its leading digital content, well-known brand and deep roots in sports betting, Barstool Sports is the ideal partner for Penn National,” Jay Snowden, president and CEO of Penn National, said in a statement.

Increased Company Value Over Time

Initially, the deal will grant Penn National a 36% stake in Barstool Sports, however, that number will increase to around 50% in three years, with an additional investment of $62 million. Initially, Penn National will also receive two seats on Barstool Sports’ board of directors. Penn will receive other forms of executive control as well.

“Penn National Gaming has one of the biggest infrastructures in the country for gambling. They have sports tracks, they have casinos, they’re all over the country. They have the infrastructure, we have this rabid audience, this fan base craving it. Together, we’re going to create an omnipresent approach to gambling,” David Portnoy, president and founder of Barstool Sports, said in statement on Twitter.

Existing Deal Has Supreme Court Ruling to Thank

This deal never would have come to fruition if it weren’t for a key Supreme Court decision that occurred in May of 2018. On a federal level, the court ruling legalized sports gambling in the US. Now, individual states have the ability fo decide if they want to approve the legalization of sports betting and the terms that come along with it.

Since then, there’s been a rush by both media companies and the gambling industry to capitalize on what they both assume will be a boom in online betting. At the time of writing, the primary leaders of this movement are DraftKings and FanDuel. While they were operating as “daily fantasy” sports games, the two organizations spent a lot of money on marketing the activity and are now at the forefront of online and mobile sports betting within the United States.

The daily fantasy bubble quickly deflated, but the investment those companies made exposing themselves to a young audience seems to have paid off. The two companies are now surpassing the older, more established gambling institutions where online sports betting is legal.

Future Plans

Penn National, which runs or owns dozens of low-profile casinos and hotels around the US (Tropicana in Las Vegas being its most well-known property), believes that Barstool will be critical in attracting consumers to its casinos. The brand is also planning to launch an online betting app and bring in more traffic through these accessible means.

The head of Penn Interactive, Jon Kaplowitz, has high hopes for the Bartool Sportsbook brand. On behalf of his company, Kaplowitz states they’re looking forward to introducing 20 million customers to the new brand, through their retail sportsbooks and interactive products. In a statement, he said:

“Our growing team of product and engineering talent at Penn Interactive is focused on what we anticipate will be a best-in-class sports betting app, which is expected to launch in the third quarter of 2020.”

A person briefed on Barstool’s business estimates the company generated between $90 million and $100 million in revenue last year, with the majority coming from podcasts, merchandise sales, and gambling deals. Under the new agreement, Penn National Gaming’s revenue is projected to grow rapidly.

Las Vegas Welcome Sign Lights Up Purple and Gold to Honor Kobe Bryant and Crash Victims

Kobe Bryant Playing in Los Angeles Lakers GameThe iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign will light up purple and gold on Wednesday, beginning at 11 AM, according to Clark County Commissioners.

Purple and gold are the colors of Bryant’s longtime NBA basketball team, the Los Angeles Lakers. The sign’s lights are to signify and pay respects to the nine victims killed Sunday near Calabasas, California. Legendary basketball player Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among those lost in the LA County helicopter crash.

Foggy weather conditions and low-flying levels were major factors behind Bryant’s chartered Sikorsky S-76B helicopter going down over a hillside in the Los Angeles suburb of Calabasas. Those aboard were on their way to a basketball tournament in which Gianna was playing, and Bryant was coaching.

The identities of the nine victims killed in the Sunday crash were Kobe Bryant, 41; his daughter Gianna Bryant, 13; John Altobelli, 56; Keri Altobelli, 46; Alyssa Altobelli, 13; Sarah Chester, 45; Payton Chester, 13; Ara Zobayan, 50, and Christina Mauser, 38, according to Los Angeles officials, the Sun reported.

The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign has previously lit up to honor tragedies and different causes, including the 2017 Route 66 Festival shooting that claimed the lives of 58 people.

Las Vegas Valley Honors the NBA Legend

In addition to the sign lighting, the Women of Color Coalition, a student group at UNLV, 4505 S. Maryland Pkwy, will hold a vigil to remember Bryant at 8 PM outside the student union on campus.

 

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In honor of the legendary Laker’s basketball player, Kobe Bryant, the Womxn of Color Coalition invites you to our candle light vigil. We understand and recognize that many folxs in our campus community and surrounding community have been impacted by this tragedy and we want to provide a space for us all to come together for healing. Please feel free to bring candles and other memorabilia that you would like to honor Kobe with. There will be time for remarks and reflection for those who will like to share stories or encouraging words. Our memorial will remain in the SU Courtyard until Saturday for those of you who can not make it out Wednesday night. We will provide candles for the first 50 attendees. We hope this space will bring healing, love, and light to all. 💜🏀💛 #RIPKobeBryant

A post shared by UNLV WOMXN OF COLOR COALITION (@unlvwocc) on

The Eclipse Theaters, 814 S. 3rd Street, are also inviting fans to gather at the free event they’re hosting to honor Bryant. The theater will be screening the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers game this Friday, the first Lakers game since Bryant’s passing.

Multiple Las Vegas landmarks also paid tribute to Kobe Bryant’s life Sunday night. The LINQ’s famous 550-foot-tall Ferris wheel, the High Roller, lit up purple and gold. Fremont Street, a historic Downtown Las Vegas attraction, also glowed purple in honor of the famed basketball legend. One Summerlin, a prominent office building in the Downtown Summerlin shopping center, also paid its tribute by beaming purpl. They also tweeted the following:

Las Vegas Postpones New Slogan Amidst Tragedy

While Las Vegas aired its new advertising slogan during Sunday night’s 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, it postponed rolling it out across the city as initially planned.

“We were prepared to launch the newest advertising campaign for Las Vegas during the Grammys telecast on Sunday, Jan. 26,” Steve Hill, CEO and president of the LVCVA said in a statement. “In light of today’s tragic accident that claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and others on board, we are postponing any activity planned on the Las Vegas Strip until a future date. The hearts of everyone in Las Vegas are with the families and friends of those lost, with all of Los Angeles and with his fans around the world.”

The Las Vegas Sun reported that several marquees along the Las Vegas Strip and historic downtown area read, “LA, our hearts go out to you…RIP Kobe,” instead of the new “What happens here, only happens here,” advertising slogan.

But the LVCVA was unable to withdraw their new advertising because it had already been submitted into the rotation. Nevertheless, the LVCVA honored the victims of the helicopter crash on the Las Vegas Strip as well as on its official website with the following message:

“We are saddened by the loss of Kobe and Gianna. Our hearts go out to those lost in the crash, their families and to all of Los Angeles.”

McCarran Airport Had a Record-Breaking 51.5 Million Passengers in 2019

Airplane Flying Over Las Vegas StripMore than 51.5 million passengers touched down into McCarran International Airport last year, county officials said on Wednesday. It’s a new record for the ever-bustling Las Vegas airport. According to a press release from the Clark County Department of Aviation, it’s also the third straight year the airport has broken their record for passenger traffic, and the ninth straight year of year-over-year traffic increase.

Last October saw the airport’s busiest month ever, with 4.61 million passengers passing through its doors.

“The record passenger volume we’re seeing here at McCarran speaks to the widespread appeal of Las Vegas as a destination,” said Rosemary Vassiliadis, director of aviation for Clark County, Nevada — where Las Vegas is located — in a statement. “They’re coming for leisure, for sporting events and concerts, and they’re coming for business meetings and conventions.”

Passenger numbers are not only rising for the city of Las Vegas, but they have been steadily rising on the national level for the past several years. The national record hit the 1 billion annual passengers mark for the first-time ever in 2018, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data.

Domestic and International Travel Trends

Domestic Demand

The growth in Las Vegas is largely driven by strong domestic demand. Domestic travel was up 3.9%, from 44.86 million people in 2018 to 46.91 million in 2019, according to new figures.

Bargain carriers including Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Sun Country Airlines are among those growing the fastest at McCarran. Seats were forecasted to increase nearly 39% on Frontier, nearly 24% on Spirit, and a whooping 82.5% on Sun Country year-over-year in 2019, according to Cirium schedules.

Some recent additions include new Frontier service to seven more cities, including San Diego, Detroit, Dallas, Houston and Philadelphia. Sun Country also expanded its Las Vegas network to 13 nonstop routes, including Anchorage, San Antonio, Providence, Minneapolis, and Portland.

Nonstop International Routes

International travel ticked up in 2019, from 3.76 million fliers in 2018 to 3.81 million last year. Several carriers began offering international routes, including nonstop flights to Amsterdam, Paris, Israel, and Germany.

Landing a nonstop to Japan is airport officials’ main focus, with McCarran’s chief marketing officer Chris Jones describing a flight to Japan as “hugely important.” Currently, nonstop flights to Japan are only available from Dallas’ DFW airport and Los Angeles’ LAX airport.

International guests are big business, too, as international visitors typically stay a full day in Las Vegas longer than domestic visitors do.

International visitors make up approximately 17 percent of Las Vegas’ total visitors, but represent 20 percent of visitor spending, with 57 percent staying for four or more days.

Soaring into a Bright Future

The steady passenger growth has inspired Las Vegas officials plan to begin studying a new airport for the city. Environmental studies are set to begin next year on a facility that could open by 2040.

“As an industry sustained by passengers we are so grateful to the locals and visitors who chose to travel in 2019.

I’m excited to see what’s in store for 2020 and beyond as even more projects come online that we know will draw additional travelers to Southern Nevada,” said Vassiliadis.

MGM Grand Detroit’s New President, David Tsai, Will Help Implement Sports Betting

MGM Grand Detroit in Detroit, MichiganMGM Grand Detroit announced last Friday that David Tsai has been appointment president and COO. Tsai served in the same capacity since 2018 in his most recent position at Gold Strike Casino Resort in Mississippi, which is apart of the MGM Resorts.

He was responsible for launching Gold Strike’s first sports wagering operations stats during his time with the company and will bringing his expertise to Grand Detroit.

Here’s a glimpse into some of the insight he gained through launching Mississippi’s first legalized sports betting outlet:

“We’ve created an exceptional state-of-the-art venue that brings together sports, gaming, entertainment, dining and nightlife. These continued capital investments combined with our innovative service culture and M life Rewards loyalty program make Gold Strike the region’s premier sports entertainment destination.”

Regional portfolio president for MGM Resorts International, Jorge Perez, says that Tsai is taking the reigns in Detroit at an exciting and opportune time, as legalized sports wagering has been introduced to Michigan. He believes the leadership and experienced he gained in Mississippi, being the first to market its sports betting operations, will be a great, much-needed benefit for MGM Grand Detroit and its customers.

Tsai’s 13-Year Industry Experience

Tsai first joined MGM Resorts back in 2007. He served as senior vice president of corporate strategy and analytics at CityCenter/ARIA. He then served as senior vice president and CFO for Monte Carlos in Las Vegas. One of his biggest undertakings while at Monte Carlo was preparing the property for their successful transformation to Park MGM and NoMad.

During Tsai’s time as CFO for Monte Carlo, he invested a lot of the money in bringing local desert shrubbery, trees and plants for the communal space that leads into the T-Mobile Arena, saying that a lot of time and effort was spent making sure the landscape and paving was designed to be unique and comfortable.

Shifting gears forward to his latest role, Tsai says, “MGM Grand Detroit is the casino of choice in the region because of its outstanding team and their commitment not only to customers but to the community.” He continues:

“At a time of unprecedented change and opportunity for Michigan with the passage of sports betting, I am honored to be joining MGM Grand Detroit and look forward to continuing to bring our customers exceptional entertainment offerings and service, and working with the community.”

Tsai has an MBA degree from Stanford University, where he also completed his undergraduate studies.

How MGM Grand Detroit is Preparing for Legalized Sports Betting

Back in October, MGM Grand Detroit opened up their $6 million sports bar, Moneyline, as the perfect placeholder until sports betting becomes officially legalized in the state.

As of now, it serves as a fully-functioning sports bar, complete with 60 televisions, a capacity of 280 and three sections of VIP seating. It also features couches and high-top seating, and personalized game sound. It is 21-and-older, and is smoke-free, with business hours currently from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Located off the front entrance to the casino near the hotel lobby, it’s in a prime spot to becoming a major attraction with legalized sports betting.

 

Harrah’s Reno Will Transform Into Reno City Center

Hotel-Casinos in Downtown RenoReno’s historic Harrah’s hotel-casino was recently sold for $50 million by VICI Properties and Caesars Entertainment to Las Vegas-based real estate group CAI Investments, after being a landmark presence in the Northern Nevada city for nearly 83 years.

Harrah’s Reno first opened in 1937. It was founded by William F. “Bill” Harrah and originally a small bingo parlor and casino. Harrah was a successful entrepreneur in the United States, and Harrah’s Reno was the company’s first establishment. Today, the Harrah’s chain has 17 casinos in 11 different states. Four of them are located in Nevada, with Harrah’s properties in Laughlin, Reno, Las Vegas, and Lake Tahoe.

There are plans to renovate and update the long-established casino into a mixed non-gambling property in downtown Reno. Eventually, this area will be known as the Reno City Center.

Plans for the New Reno City Center

The remodeled property will feature about 530 market-rate apartments, 150,000 square feet of new office space, and 78,500 square feet of retail. Some of the planned stores include dining options such as a grocery star, a bar, a coffee shop, and even a few restaurants.

The Reno City Center will also feature a fitness center. There are plans to accommodate other recreational activities as well. According to CAI, there may be areas to walk around, similar to a park-like structure. Plans also factor in the east tower but remain fluid, CAI told the Reno Gazette Journal.

“The goal with the property is to offer much-needed housing, office and services to the downtown Reno market — all of which are instrumental in the continued diversification of the Reno economy”, said CAI Investments CEO Chris Beavor.

“Fulfilling these needs are especially important if Reno wants to continue attracting new businesses and employees to the region.”

The plans for this update is for the new infrastructure to be versatile. They plan to host plenty of easy and fun options on-site. The idea is for future residents to be able to take the elevator down from their apartment and have a walking distance commute at any of the offices. Then, they can take another walk down the river or head over to the gym. And it could all take place within the very same building.

Services are also planned to be a la carte, giving renters the options to pick and choose which services they want to utilize and pay for, be it parking, the gym, or pet-friendly lodging features. Apartments will be offered as one and two bedroom configurations, priced at market rate.

Estimated Timeline for Completion

Beavor hopes to have the Harrah’s Reno refresh done within 30 months after Caesars’ lease finishes later this year. Gryphon Private Wealth Management and CAI will be working together for the Reno City Center project.

The City Center also aimsto open at the same time as CAI’s 20-story boutique hotel project that will be located on Court Street. The boutique hotel project will be built from the ground up, unlike Harrah’s reboot.

Beaver is a Reno native. Hopefully, the two projects will add substantial value, bring traffic, and garner more attention toward downtown Reno.

“If you think of Reno in terms of a baseball match, we’re just right now at the top of the third,” Beavor said.

“Everyone in Reno has done a great job in the last 10 to 15 years with the downtown regional plan. Our next push into the fourth inning is to help improve the repositioning of downtown.”

 

Say Goodbye to Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas, Hello to Virgin Hotels Las Vegas

Hard Rock Hotel & Cafe in Las VegasThe new year is ushering in another major change, as the iconic Hard Rock Hotel will be closing its doors Monday, Feb 3, to make way for Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Hard Rock Hotel originally opened its doors on March 9, 1995. The $100 million property included a 28,000 square foot casino and an 11-story hotel with 339 rooms.

The café portion of the hotel was demolished a couple of months ago, and the hotel will officially be making its major renovations to the hotel portion next Monday. The new Virgin Hotels Las Vegas is scheduled to open its doors this fall.

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Virgin Hotels Las Vegas will include 60,000 square feet of fully-renovated casinos, over five acres of luxe upgraded outdoor space and pools, new world-class restaurants, lounges and bars, as well as 130,000 square feet of remodeled meeting, event and convention spaces.

The renovation includes a huge design shift from the current rock vibe with what’s being described as a “desert cool design.”

Wayne Klesmer, a Las Vegas local, says this of the city bidding farewells to historic properties and making way for new ones:

“They come and they go. I think we get something better. Like when they tore down Desert Inn, unfortunately I never saw Desert Inn, but now they got the Wynn and they got the Encore.”

Tribal Casino Management: A Las Vegas First

In a first for the Las Vegas gaming corridor, a Native American gaming enterprise will manage a casino when the Hard Rock Hotel transitions into Virgin Hotels Las Vegas this fall.

“It’s historic, the first time a tribal gaming operator will be managing a casino in Las Vegas,” said David G. Schwartz, gaming historian at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “This speaks to the growing economic power of the tribes, as well as their increasing expertise in gaming management.”

The Mohegan Tribe owns MGE, which opened its first casino, the Mohegan Sun, in Connecticut in 1996. MGE also has locations in Washington state, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Louisiana. MGE is owner and operator of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun.

“The timing was right (to enter the Las Vegas market),” Maria Kontomerkos, MGE’s CEO, said. “MGE’s portfolio of major strategic partners such as Live Nation and Paramount Pictures combined with our international reach ideally position us to drive business to the Las Vegas market.”

“Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, as an extension of the Mohegan Tribe, pride themselves on traditional principles, in sync with modern values. We are excited that Virgin Hotels Las Vegas will be their first entry in the Las Vegas market,” said Richard “Boz” Bosworth, president and CEO of JC Hospitality, owner of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. “MGE further expands on our commitment to partner with best-in-class operators for the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas transformation.”

Final Farewell

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will have its final rock with a couple of events starting Thursday. They’ll commemorate the casino’s 25-year history in town, with a final toast on Saturday.

Every day, guests will have the chance to win memorabilia pieces, such as signed guitars and gold records. There’s still a Hard Rock Cafe on the Las Vegas Strip in front of Park MGM and T-Mobile Arena. That location is expected to stay open.

Trump Still Owes Atlantic City Money for Trump Taj Mahal Casino

Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic CityThese days, there’s a lot of talk about Trump’s divisiveness and strategy within the White House. But there’s barely any mention of his unpaid bills as an Atlantic City casino magnate.

Trump obviously faces far more pressing issues now, including his impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate. So it’s highly unlikely that he will mention his unpaid bills from Atlantic City when he takes the stage Tuesday night at the Wildwoods Convention Center.

Former Workers Feel the Sting

As for the carpenters, electricians, plumbers, window installers and other contractors who built Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City three decades ago, the wounds from not being paid still fester.

“It’s terrible,” said Jenkins, who runs Triad Building Specialties. “I can’t stand Trump. I think he’s nothing but a snake oil salesman.”

Triad Building Specialties begn in the mid-1970s by Jenkins’ father. Jenkins was only 19 when he got the $300,000 contract to provide guardrails, doors, stalls, and paper dispensers for the nearly 300 public bathrooms at the Trump Taj Mahal casino overlooking the Atlantic City beachfront.

A Casino Built on Financial Sand

In Atlantic City, Trump bragged that the Taj Mahal — which he claimed had a price tag of $1.2 billion — was the “eighth wonder of the world.” Not only was it considered the largest casino anywhere, it was adorned with crystal chandeliers from Austria, hand-sewn carpets from Britain, Carrara marble from Italy and 70 onion domes that towered over the Atlantic City boardwalk.

But the Taj, as it came to be called, seems to have been built on financial sand.

What Trump didn’t say was that he financed the Taj with $700m worth of junk bonds. And what he did not tell the scores of contractors who worked on the overly lavish casino was that he could not pay their bills.

Triad Building Specialties ended up taking out a $40,000 loan just to pay its suppliers. And then the firm needed another decade just to pay off the loan. By the end of it, Triad had only received 40 cents on the dollar from Trump for its work on the Taj. Jenkins is now 49 years old and is the firm’s co-owner.

To be successful, it meant the Taj had to come up with $94m a year just to pay off its debts, and $1m a day to be profitable. Trump insisted the casino would make Atlantic City great again, returning the area to its prohibition-era glory days.

At one point in time, President Trump actually owned three casinos in Atlantic City. He employed nearly 8,000 citizens and accounted for nearly one-third of the Atlantic City area’s revenue.

But they eventually became unsustainable thanks to a mixture of enormous debts, rival venues, weak local demand, and negative press, which suggested Trump’s businesses were facilitating money laundering. This is something was later given credence when the Taj was fined $10 million for failing to report suspicious transactions.

 

Should Sports Betting in Georgia Become Legalized?

SportsbookThanks to an alliance of Atlanta’s big-league sports teams, there’s been a recent push for legalization of sports betting in Georgia. In fact, we could see the first legislation proposed as soon as next week.

Those teams, which make up what’s called The Professional Sports Integrity Alliance, is made up of the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Hawks.

The group has been busy lobbying lawmakers to legalize mobile sports betting. That’s wagering done on a phone, all cash, no credit.

There’s been some opposers, however, including Atlanta Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay, who thinks sports franchises wouldn’t make a dime off legalized betting.

Where does he say profit will go instead? It would become tax revenue that would go to the state of Georgia. Although he does believe the individual franchises would profit from increased fan engagement, something he believes is important in modern sports.

“With the younger fans, we need more engagement,”McKay said. “What we’ve seen from all the numbers is how much sports gambling there is going on from that age of 23 to 40, and this becomes an engagement opportunity for us.”

A European Betting Model

McKay said teams would base the betting on the European Model, where bets are made over a phone or mobile device.

Because it would not use credit cards, only cash in an account, he believes most bets would be made in the $10 to $20 range. He also said all the leagues and sports teams would take measures to ensure the integrity of the game.

The Alliance claims that the state of Georgia already has $1.5 billion worth of revenue due to underground or illegal gambling.

“They’re doing it now,” McKay said. “They’re doing it offshore, and they’re doing it illegally. So why wouldn’t we put some restrictions around it? Legalize it. Regulate it, and have the state make revenue off it.”

The Case for Gambling in the State

Georgia lawmakers are studying the potential economic benefits of expanding gambling in the state, which supporters say would bring thousands of jobs and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the struggling Georgia Lottery-funded HOPE scholarship.

Jennifer Roberts, associate director of the International Center for Gaming Regulation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a gaming law expert who has represented major hotel chains, said factors such as Georgia’s relative isolation from other gaming make a valid case for expanding the industry.

“In general, gambling does bring economic benefit to states,” Roberts said. “But any form of gambling is a policy decision for each state. Policymakers have to decide what the smartest approach is for their state.” Supporters for years have tried different ways to expand gambling in Georgia, through casinos or horse racing, but a recent call from Governor Brian Kemp to cut down budgets has renewed energy around the topic.

Georgians will need to approve a constitutional amendment to allow the expansion of casino gambling or horse racing betting within the state.

Kemp has said that while he opposes casino gambling, he will not stand in the way of putting an amendment before voters as long as it guarantees the revenue will benefit HOPE. Georgia Lottery officials have said improved performance by high schoolers and rising tuition have made it increasingly difficult to fulfill HOPE’s goal of providing full scholarships to the state’s top students.

“I know there’s always those opposed to gambling — and it is a policy decision,” Roberts said. “But there are definitely benefits from having a regulated legal (gambling) system. Part of that is having responsible gambling methods and consumer protections. That’s in addition to revenue benefits.”

Roberts said Georgia’s relative isolation from most forms of gambling creates an economic opportunity.

 

Local Las Vegas Player Wins 100K Royal Flush at The Orleans

Royal Flush Video Poker Slot MachineOne lucky local video poker player, who requested to remain anonymous, played big to win even bigger at The Orleans Hotel Casino Sunday.

On the $25 video poker machine, playing a five-coin $125 hand, the bettor hit a natural royal flush to win an astonishing $100,000 jackpot.

The player drew the last two necessary cards, an ace and a queen of hearts around 9AM on Sunday, according to publicist Michael Abante. The player was already holding a 10 of hearts, jack, and king.

This was the second $100,000 jackpot won at The Orleans just within the past two months. The Scientific Games Dancing Drums slot jackpot earned Texas visitor Raymond a $100,000 payout on Dec. 1st. He cashed in on his $26 bet when he selected three matching Grand Fu Babies.

Another Big Win Across the Valley

Sunday was a lucky day in Vegas it seems, because another lucky slots player hit big on the Wheel of Fortune slot machine at the South Point Hotel Casino, winning a $464,287 jackpot on a mere $1.25 wager. The winner also chose to remain anonymous, and there’s no telling whether they are a Las Vegas local or a visitor.

Other Smaller, But Hefty Wins Throughout the Week

  • At Treasure Island, Danielle G. won a quick $16,769 on the slots.
  • At Fremont Casino, a “mystery winner” earned $14,482 on the Madonna slots.
  • At Cannery Casino, a video poker player just needed a jack of spades for a royal flush worth $9,043.
  • At Oyo Hotel and Casino, a winner earned $7,000 for seven-spot keno bet.

New Jersey Lotto Winners Now Have Choice to Remain Anonymous

Lottery Winner Holding Winning Powerball CheckLottery winners in the state of New Jersey will now have the choice to remain anonymous. This is following a new law that Governor Phil Murphy signed on Tuesday. This bill passed the state Senate and Assembly without a single dissenting vote earlier this month.

Under the new law, the state lottery commission must set rules and regulations that permit lottery players to keep their identities unknown to the public.

Murphy signed S-2267, which makes an exemption to the Open Public Records Act, which allows people who win hefty amounts of money while playing the New Jersey lottery to have the option to have their identity withheld.

The original resolution, which was signed into law in November of 1969, required winners of large amounts of money to reveal their identities to the public. This has come in the form of press conferences, OPRA requests, and press releases.

“To amend, repeal, or supplement any such rules and regulations from time to time as it deems necessary or desirable, and to establish by regulation that holders of winning tickets or shares may choose to remain anonymous indefinitely and that the identity of a holder choosing such option shall not be included under materials available to public inspection,” the amendment says.

New Jersey isn’t the first state to allow winners to opt for anonymity. They join a growing list of states who also permit privacy, which are Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina and Texas. Arizona and Virginia also passed their own privacy bills last year.

Some states allow players to claim prizes anonymously through trusts. While many states have laws that dictate a winner’s name, hometown, and prize amount become public information.

Avoiding the “Lottery Curse”

The New Jersey law’s sponsors say this bill targets a phenomenon that is often referred to as the “lottery curse.”

Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney said in a statement that the curse often brings about harassment and threats. It usually occurs after winners’ identities are released to the public.

“The winners should have the option of remaining anonymous if they want to stay out of the limelight and away from unwanted attention,” Sweeney said.

Jason Kurland, a New York-based “lottery lawyer,” said that the best advice for new lottery winners is to keep your mouth shut and call a lawyer:

“Don’t advertise it,” Kurland said. “Don’t tell too many people you won. If your name’s out there, everyone comes out. Not only family you haven’t spoken to in a long time, but charities. Mostly good. But some are bogus.”

In 2018, the winner of what was then the eighth biggest jackpot in US history — a $560 million Powerball prize — successfully sued the New Hampshire Lottery for the right to remain anonymous.

The judge in the case said he was in no doubt that the New Hampshire woman, known only as Jane Doe, would be subject to “an alarming amount of harassment, solicitation, and other unwanted communications” should her name be revealed. Her right to privacy “outweighed the public’s interest in the disclosure of her name,” he ruled.

Opponents argue that requiring winners’ names to be available to the public promotes transparency within the industry. And this transparency is supposed to promote the perception that the lottery has integrity. The publicity is also good for business because it puts real faces and names to real winners. Apparent, the attention brought in by a jackpot winner usually results in a large spike in lottery sales for the upcoming draw.

Not Completely Anonymous

Even with the new law, winners of the New Jersey state lottery won’t be flying completely under the radar. Their identity will just be unavailable to the press and the public eye. State agencies will still be able to share their details internally, so they can remove things like outstanding child support payments, public assistance overpayments, and defaulted student loan payments before handing over the earnings.

Online Sports Betting in Michigan Likely Delayed Until 2021

Mobile Sports Gambling, Computer In BackgroundMichigan regulators, who are familiar with the previous implementation of new gambling regulations in Michigan, expect it to take approximately one year to solidify the rules for the industry – online poker, online casino games, sports betting, and fantasy sports.

The targeted 2021 completion of the online rules are based on the time it took to develop other rule sets in the past, said Mary Kay Bean, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

While Detroit’s three commercial casinos, as well as the state’s 24 tribal casinos, will all need to obtain the proper mobile sports bettor operating licenses for online gambling, it’s the agency’s goal to launch on-site sports betting this spring.

“We are at a very early stage of this process,” Bean said, according to the Associated Press. “The agency must establish several sets of administrative rules, which pass through many levels of review. The timing of implementation depends not only on our agency but also on decisions other departments, agencies and the Legislature make along the way.”

The rules process could require public hearings, public comments, and regulatory impact statements. In addition, the rules must then lead to a licensing process, which will include vetting and ultimately issuing those licenses.

How Michigan Is Preparing for Legalized Sports Betting

MGM Grand Detroit has prepared for the update by opening their $6 million sports bar, Moneyline, last October. It will have betting windows and self-service kiosks once approved. But Detroit won’t be the only place it will be available.

“We view sports betting as another nice entity that will drive more people to our property,” Mike Bean, the CEO of Saginaw Chippewa Gaming Enterprises with locations in Mount Pleasant and Standish, said, according to the news wire. “Our biggest question right now is when is it all going to be ready?

Penn National Gaming Inc. is the new operator of the Greektown Casino. There have been decades-long agreements with four internet gaming operators because the organization aims to bring sports betting to its 41 locations in 19 states. Two of their locations could potentially operate in the state of Michigan.

“We’re envisioning what (sports betting) could look like if it were passed,” said Eric Schippers, Penn National senior vice president of public affairs. “Michigan is leaving a lot of money on the table it could be generating in tax revenue and benefits that could be funded from this. There’s natural pressure to strike while it’s hot. We’re hopeful Michigan won’t allow itself to get left behind.”

How Does Michigan’s Timeline Fare With Other States?

Pennsylvania, as a point of reference, took approximately two years before its first online poker site was able to launch, but that was on the long-tail of the required amount of time, almost excessively so. One year is more realistic, according to most industry analysts and experts.

The timeline largely is the standard in other states that have legalized online gaming and sports betting, said Rep. Brandt Iden, R-Oshtemo Township, who spearheaded the online gaming package. A similar package took six to eight months to implement in Indiana, he said.

“I’d like it to be a little bit quicker, but that’s probably the timeline,” Iden said.

The in-person sports betting timeline is a good step forward, he said, but it’s not likely the state will experience significant tax revenue until online gambling piece is up and running.

“Until we’re fully integrated online, I don’t think we’ll be able to capitalize on revenue. But from a consumer protection standpoint, from getting players interested, certainly getting up and going in person is helpful,” Iden said.

Expanding Casino Gaming Beyond Atlantic City Isn’t the Best Bet

Atlantic City Casino BoardwalkIt’s a new year, and one where New Jersey is reconsidering expanding its gambling footprint past Atlantic City’s shores. While the statewide referendum to expand casino gaming outside Atlantic City ended in strong defeat in 2016, the idea of it still lingers.

When the question of casino expansion was on the 2016 ballot, it was met mainly with disinterest. Around 77% of voters said “no” the referendum question that stated:

“Do you approve amending the Constitution to permit casino gambling in two additional counties in this State? At present, casino gambling is allowed only in Atlantic City in Atlantic County. Only one casino in each of the two counties would be permitted. Each casino is to be located in a town that is at least 72 miles from Atlantic City. The amendment would allow certain persons to apply first for a casino license. “

At the start of the new two-year legislative session last week, both the Assembly and Senate reintroduced resolutions that support allowing casino gaming in other areas of New Jersey.

The reintroduced resolutions vary and address permitting casino gambling in certain North Jersey counties, as well as supporting the legalization of two gambling parlors outside of Atlantic City.

That makes five resolutions in total filed in the Assembly and one in the Senate that would expand gaming, in some form or another, outside Atlantic City.

What’s Making New Jersey Reconsider?

It’s possible that lawmakers are excited about the prospect of more New Yorkers swarming to a full-scale North New Jersey casino that’s closer to the New York border. The thinking behind it is this: If New Yorkers are willing to cross the New Jersey border to place online sports bets, how much more could they attract it if there were a casino available for players?

With the success of sports betting and online gambling being at an all-time high across the country, it created speculation for a bigger push for a North New Jersey casino last year, though it never materialized.

Why It Wouldn’t Be the Best Bet for Atlantic City

Roger Gros, the publisher of Global Gaming Business Magazine, believes now’s not the time to entertain ideas about casino expansion, especially in North Jersey.

“That would be a terrible idea. It would really kind of destroy the progress Atlantic City has made over the past few years.

Any kind of increased land-based competition in New Jersey would completely reverse that positivity and start Atlantic City on a downward spiral once again.”

While Atlantic City casinos are now doing better than they have been for years, some of them continue to struggle. Bad months at the brick-and-mortar casinos can be made up by revenue from online games though, Gros said.

He pointed out that there continues to be discussions about having casinos in New York City and “that will happen eventually.” If a North Jersey casino sees any increase in profit, that may just draw action away from Atlantic City, it would likely only be at the beginning and wouldn’t be as impactful over the long term.

“We just had a referendum two years ago on this very subject: 4 out of 5 voters rejected it and now the politicians want to bring it back? That is the height of insolence,” he said. “What we should really concentrate on is really expanding the internet online and mobile sports betting.”

They’re Officially the Las Vegas Raiders Now: And Here’s Their First Order of Business

Raiders Logo Graffiti ArtIt’s official: The Raiders officially became the Las Vegas Raiders on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

Gov. Steve Sisolak commemorated the momentous day by proclaiming Jan. 22 as Las Vegas Raiders Day in Nevada.

With Sisolak and team owner Mark Davis in attendance, the Raiders finalized what’s been in the making for nearly three years at the name change ceremony held on Wednesday. The special event was held in front of the Raider’s new home stadium, Allegiant Stadium. Sisolak gave an official proclamation to Davis at the conference to commemorate the change. Jim Plunkett, Raider’s legend, was also there in celebration.

“The Raiders were born in Oakland and played 13 seasons in (Los Angeles),” Davis said. “Both cities will always be part of our DNA. But today we begin a new chapter in our storied history. For today —  January 22, 2020 — we are now the Las Vegas Raiders.”

“And today,” Davis said, “Las Vegas officially becomes our nation’s capital.”

The crowd erupted in applause during the official announcement. Raiders players also signed Allegiant Stadium construction workers’ hard hats, and even one worker’s boots.

The Raiders are preparing to play for the first time in their new Las Vegas home this fall. Their headquarters and training facility are currently located in Henderson.

Exciting announcements were also made during the ceremony, one being that the Raiders will begin selling Las Vegas Raiders gear at the 2020 NFL Draft to kick off the change. The Raiders organization, who have already immersed themselves in philanthropic initiatives around the Las Vegas community, said the team will be doing even more.

500,000 Pledge to Eliminate Silver State’s Student Meal Debt

The Las Vegas Raiders are pledging $500,000 to eliminate student meal debt as their first big order of business. This pledge will be allocated through the Nevada Community Foundation (NCF). Schools in the state of Nevada that participate in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs will be working with the Nevada Community Foundation to eliminate any existing school meal debt.

“Today, we want to make a donation to the Nevada Department of Agriculture meal service program, which feeds kids lunch and breakfast at the schools. We are hoping to eliminate the debt that the entire state of Nevada has to do that project, and in that regard, we are donating $500,000 to the program,” Davis said.

Why Help is Needed

The National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs are federally assisted meal programs operating in public and non-profit charter schools. If a local family is unable to afford school meals and does not qualify for federal free or reduced-priced meals, the debt is accrued at the school level. The donation by the Las Vegas Raiders will narrow the gap between schools and families who are unable to pay off their student meal debts.

School Nutrition Association’s Pratt- Heavner said this of the importance of providing access to free meals:

“Providing universal free school meals would not only address this issue of unpaid meal charges, but it would recognize the fact that having a healthy meal in the middle of the day is necessary to school achievement. Hungry kids cannot learn.”

A Proud Partnership

The funds are being allocated through the Nevada Community Foundation, which is working in conjunction with the Raiders and the Nevada Department of Agriculture, administrator of the state’s National School Lunch (NSLP) and Breakfast (SBP) Programs.

Gian Brosco, President & CEO, Nevada Community Foundation, said this of the new partnership:

“We are proud to partner with the Las Vegas Raiders as the administrator of the organization’s community fund that will retire the cumulative school meal debt for eligible institutions currently participating in NSLP and SBP with the Nevada Department of Agriculture.

As the newly-minted Las Vegas Raiders begin to prepare for their arrival as the state’s first-ever NFL team, their positive influence over the Las Vegas community nly continues to grow, as evidenced by this significant gesture. We commend Mark Davis for actively seeking opportunities like this that make a real difference for Nevada students and residents.”

Las Vegas Changes Its Iconic ‘What Happens Here, Stays Here’ Slogan

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada SignSin City’s infamous, award-winning campaign that countless visitors have worked into their own Vegas narratives, is now getting a major facelift this year. “What happens here, stays here” will reportedly change to “What happens here, only happens here.”

The new catchphrase is scheduled to have its world debut in a 60-second ad during the broadcast of the Grammy Awards on Jan. 26, ABC News Las Vegas affiliate KTNV reported.

The president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), Steve Hill, announced the update last Friday. The organization’s new branding was revealed at the Vegas Chamber’s Preview Las Vegas event at Wynn Las Vegas.

Hill said the goal is for people to see how Las Vegas has transformed itself to be more than the Entertainment Capital of the World, KTNV reported.

And the change comes at the perfect timing, during one of the most exciting years in Vegas’ 115-year history. It’s the year the city officially got a NFL team, a new billion-dollar stadium, was crowned host of the 2020 NFL Draft, and is opening up a slew of new entertainment options.

What Happens Here, Stays Here

The original slogan that visitors have associated with the city for years, was first imagined in 2003 by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and advertising agency R&R Partners. The idea behind the branding was to showcase all that Vegas had to offer, outside of being a gambling destination. They wanted a slogan that would promote the themes of adult freedom and empowerment, too.

And it worked. Millions of tourists have worked the slogan into their own storylines from their Vegas trips, sharing some details, but leaving some for themselves. It’s somehow infused the essence of the Vegas experience.

A survey in USA Today called the famous campaign the “most effective” of 2003. The phrase has even been referenced throughout the entirety of mainstream pop culture. Just two years after the campaign’s anticipated debut, then-First Lady, Laura Bush, used the tagline in a discussion with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show. The slogan then became the name of the 2008 American comedy What Happens in Vegas. It also inspired a song of the same name by Usher, and contributed to a number of themes in the popular film series, The Hangover.

What Happens Here, Only Happens Here

R&R Partners are the brainchild behind Vegas’ brand new slogan, too, in what they hope will become as effective in the mind of visitors and locals alike. The advertising agency reportedly spent several years working on the campaign.

A spokeswoman for the agency told ABC News:

“It’s kinda been the baby of the company for a long time.”

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has an annual budget of $360 million. They spend over $100 million a year on all advertising efforts, and sources tell FOX Business that the latest rebranding will be taking a “significant” part of that million-dollar advertising budget.

The new slogan aims to represent all of Las Vegas’ history, including its most recent changes. The city itself has been evolving drastically over the past decade alone, and it’s been a long time coming. Visitors and locals are starting to see the wheels turning and the transformation of the city as a whole happening. Pretty soon everyone will know, what happens here, only happens here.

Detroit Casinos Report Record-Breaking $1.454 Billion in Revenue for 2019

MGM Grand Detroit CasinoDetroit’s three casinos set a record for adjusted gross revenue last year, earning $1.454 billion in 2019. According to the state, that amount tops the record $1.444 billion set in 2018, or a $10 million increase in revenue. Those three casinos are MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and the Greektown. It was record-breaking years for both MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity Casino Hotel.

This record casino revenue is also good news for the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit. The state saw just over $117.8 million in gaming taxes in 2019. This number was $800,000 more than what they accrued the previous year. Detroit was paid $184.2 million in wagering taxes and development agreements, compared to $182.9 million in 2018.

Slices of the Billion-Dollar Pie

With nearly 43% market share in 2019, MGM Grand Detroit blazed the trail in the Motor City. The casino made $623.5 million in revenue, 0.7% more than its record the year prior, according to the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

MotorCity Casino Hotel took the second-largest portion at 34% market share. Its revenue was $493.6 million, which is about 0.8% higher than the record it had set in 2018. And while MotorCity was in second place, the property still experienced year-over-year revenue growth on its way to record turnover.

The rest was from Greektown, which had revenue of $337.2 million and covered about 23% of the market share. That was up 0.6% from the previous year but fell short of its $352.8 million record in 2011, when the three casinos achieved a then-record of $1.4 billion.

Each casino saw a year-over-year uptick in fourth quarter revenue in 2019. Greektown’s increased 3.4% to $87.1 million, MotorCity’s rose 2.9% to $123.4 million and MGM’s ticked up 0.2% to $157.2 million.

MGM Grand Detroit Opens ‘Moneyline’ as a Money Move

The MGM Grand opened their new sports lounge, Moneyline, last October to position themselves on the future of sports betting in the state.

They designed Moneyline Sports Lounge to look and feel like a sports book you would see in Las Vegas. They did this to bring the Vegas experience to Detroit, and while sports gaming isn’t an option right now, that may not be the case for much longer.

Michigan house representative Brandt Iden has been pushing for legislative changes in sports betting for years. His efforts will go a long way when Moneyline will be able to achieve its full potential, as a Sports Book taking wagers for gamblers legally.

This was another smart, forward-thinking move for the industry-leading MGM Grand, one that if coupled with the legalization of sports betting, will undoubtedly garner in an even higher increase of revenue for the year.

A Good Year on the Horizon, Possibly

Michigan approved sports betting last December, and online and mobile wagering are part of that package.

Industry observers are divided on exactly when the sports betting will be ready for public consumption in the state. Some of the more ambitious timelines indicate its availability in the spring, sometimes after March Madness. Some of the more realistic estimates indicate that it could likely take all of 2020 for Michigan to get the sports betting bill ready.

But if sports betting in the state becomes available sooner rather than later, then Michigan is expected to see over $19 million in annual revenue solely from sports wagering.

Could California Become America’s Sports Betting Capital?

SportsbookIt’s been two years since the U.S. Supreme Court has removed legal barriers to sports betting, and in November, Californians may be asked to join 14 other states in allowing legal wagers on sports.

Should this go through, it would create an even more lucrative gambling industry in the state, worth upwards of billions of dollars and effectively creating competition among rival gambling interests in the state.

On Tuesday, 18 of California’s key Indian gaming tribes were given the green light to petition a statewide ballot initiative that would allow sports betting at tribal casinos and horse racing tracks, but not at rival card clubs or the internet.

Sen. Bill Dodd, who chairs the Senate Governmental Organization Committee that oversees gaming, told Legal Sports Report this:

“Frankly, I didn’t expect it, but it really wasn’t a surprise,” Dodd said. “They obviously have firm beliefs on what they see should be happening in this area, and that’s their right. But I represent all the people in the state of California, not just the tribes. And I think our approach to this should be more holistic.”

Senator Dodd says he and Assembly counterpart, Adam Gray, will proceed with holding hearings to fill out ACA 16. The ACA 16 is a bill that is a constitutional amendment to permit sports betting in the nation’s most populous state.

The first sports betting hearing on the ACA 16 was originally scheduled for Nov. 20, 2019 at Staples Center, but it didn’t happen. The hearing was re-scheduled for Jan. 15 in Sacramento.

Tribes Unrelated to Earlier Sports Betting Hearing Delays

Despite the state’s Native American tribes opting to break off and file their own amendment, the earlier hearings were not cancelled on account of this. The biggest cause behind the earlier postponement was the California wildfires, and rescheduling constraints.

While the Native American tribes aren’t responsible for the hearing postponements, they have added extra stress to the discussion, according to Dodd.

Dodd expressed that he and Gray wanted to go into hearings with an empty slate and hear from all sides before putting together a plan for offering sports betting in the state. Now that battle lines have been drawn, that slate is all but clear.

What Legalized Sports Betting in California Could Mean

A legal sports betting market could bring in $2.5 billion in gross revenue annually in California, the largest market in the country, according to Chris Grove, a managing director for Eilers and Krejcik Gambling LLC, a research and consulting firm that has provided estimates to California lawmakers.

The market could generate $250 million to $500 million in tax revenue for the state based on whether the tax rate is 10% or 20%, Gray said.

At a hearing earlier this month, Gray said:f

“It is clear that we are quickly heading in the direction of a well-thought-out, legal sports betting framework here in California. We need to create this framework to ensure regulatory oversight and provide consumer protections to get this long-standing and emerging activity out of the shadows of the illicit or black market.”

Sports Betting Must Become Legal Online, Too

California’s system should also seek to allow betting over the internet and smartphones using state-licensed sites so the legal system can compete and reduce the black market, league officials say.

The MLB has five teams in California. This is the most of any state in the US, so “it’s really important that California get it right, particularly because this will be the largest betting market in the country and it will be a state that other states look to,” Brian Seeley, a senior league vice president and deputy general counsel for Major League Baseball, told lawmakers this month.

Senator Dodd elaborated on the importance of an online sports betting market further:

“It’s clear that if we truly want to take illegal sports betting out of the shadows, there needs to be an online component for those who won’t patronize brick-and-mortar outlets.

Without that, it will remain largely unregulated, continue to pose the risk of fraud and fail to generate funds for education or help with problem gambling.”

Tribal leaders dispute that mobile betting should be allowed and their initiative would only allow betting at racetracks and at casinos, where patrons might be more likely to participate in other gambling activities as well.

“Though sports betting remains illegal in our state, the fact remains that Californians have and will continue to wager billions of dollars every single year on their favorite sport,” Dodd said.

 

Atlantic City’s Casino Employment Down Slightly in 2019

Ocean Casino Resort, Atlantic CityAs compared with numbers from the end of 2018, the total number of people working in Atlantic City’s nine casino hotels declined slightly at the end of 2019.

Experts say the 2019 decrease in employment isn’t a cause for concern, though. It’s also not an indicator that the industry is moving in the wrong direction, but rather a more accurate reflection that AC’s casino market added two properties in June 2018 — Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and Ocean Casino Resort.

But the lowered numbers are showing the market self-correcting after the previous addition of those two huge properties.

The Executive Director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism at Stockton University, Rummy Pandit, said the industry is still figuring itself out, as the nine casinos attempt to identify the best way to operate in an expanded market.

“The casinos were “more efficient” in 2019 and were therefore “able to generate higher levels of revenue at a lower expense rate,” Pandit said.

Employment Eclipsed with Hard Rock & Ocean Casino Opening

Hard Rock and Ocean Resort brought in a lot of traffic and excitement to the beachfront gaming mecca. And these marks hadn’t been met in over a decade. Only one month after the Hard Rock and Ocean reopened the shuttered Boardwalk casino properties, the entire casino hotel industry reported employing more than 30,000 people.

That was the first time employment eclipsed the 30,000 mark for the first time in four years. The last time the city reached those employment numbers was in 2014, right before four properties closed.

The dual openings of Hard Rock and Ocean resulted in the creation of 7,741 jobs in June 2018. By the end of that year, those two properties employed 6,927 people. As of December, Hard Rock (3,630) and Ocean (2,949) accounted for 6,579 casino hotel jobs, or just shy of 25% of the industry’s total labor force.

The Market Self-Corrects

According to Pandit, “New properties can take anywhere from six months to a year to stabilize in its market segments, and will adjust staffing levels accordingly.” After a strong summer and initial enthusiasm once the two properties opened, Atlantic City saw a 4.5% reduction in casino positions in September 2018.

Ocean Resort actually reported the largest decrease in the number of jobs lost (228) from the year 2018 to 2019. Bally’s Atlantic City reported the largest decrease in jobs as a percentage of its total workforce, with a nearly 9% difference in 12 months.

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa is currently responsible for employing the most NJ residents out of all the Atlantic City casinos. The casino reported over 5,500 jobs just last month. Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City provided 3,095 jobs at the end of 2019, third-most among the resort’s casino hotels. Tropicana rounded out the top five in 2019, reporting 2,947 employees.

Will 2020 Numbers Increase?

Heading into 2020, Atlantic City seems to be in a generally more optimistic spot, as it’ll be buoyed by an expanded casino market with more jobs and more revenue. On the contrary, it’s uncertain whether all nine casinos will make it the finish line of 2020, and whether nearby states will bite into the city’s main strengths right now: online gambling and sports betting.

2019 marked the first full year that all nine Atlantic City casinos were in full operation. How the city chooses to navigate the changing tides of the industry will be the biggest determining factor of how 2020 will go for them.

David Schwartz, a gambling historian with the University of Nevada Las Vegas, said this of key factors that will merit AC’s success this year:

“I think we will see the city continue to adjust to the new gambling landscape.

Sports betting and online betting will continue to grow in importance. Anything that gives people a reason to visit Atlantic City in person when there are plenty of places to gamble closer to home — including home — will be key.”

Ocean’s CEO, Terry Glebocki, is confident this will be a booming year for his casino, which he refers to as the fastest growing casino in Atlantic City. Saying it is “better positioned today than ever before.”

2020 could also see new life for the former Atlantic Club casino, which has been dark since Jan. 2014. Colosseo Atlantic City Inc., a New York investment and construction firm, bought the property in October and announced plans to reopen it as a non-gambling hotel.

Lupo, Hard Rock’s president, said:

“The challenge will continue to be seeing casino revenue growth continue. Most of the growth has been online gambling and online sports wagering. Can we keep people coming to the market and increase visitation?”

Only time will tell.

Sam Hagar Helps Ring in the STRAT’s Official Relaunch

Ground View of the STRAT Hotel Looking UpFormer Van Halen frontman, Sam Hagar, will be in town on Wednesday, Jan. 22, to help celebrate the official relaunch of The STRAT. Fans expect to see rock star Rick Springfield along with Hagar, as well as Governor Steve Sisolak and Golden Entertainment executives (the property’s owners) to perform and speak during the official relaunch.

The new branding for the property was first unveiled last year to go with millions of dollars in renovations that would be spread out over three years.

If you’re lucky, Haggar could serve you a drink throughout the night, since he’ll be doing some bartending for the event.

Hagar will toast the STRAT and a new spirits partnership with Golden Entertainment, which will include the introduction of signature cocktails made with his premium spirits, Santo Tequila Blanco, Santo Mezquila and Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, at REMIX Lounge, where he will be behind the bar from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

The “relaunch party” is scheduled to start at 5:30 PM.

Previous Changes Made to the Property

Golden Entertainment was tasked with rebranding the then 23-year-old iconic resort, formerly known as the Stratosphere, in 2018, with a hefty budget of $140 million.

Renovations completed since the summer of 2018 included a new baccarat pit, a remodel of more than 300 rooms, a new menu and remodel of the Top of the World restaurant and the addition of new restaurants Strat Café & Wok and 108 Eats.

Throughout the year 2019, major additions, renovations, and upgrades were made. This includes the BLVD & Main Taphouse and the View Lounge on the casino floor. There’s also the fully-remodeled sportsbook operated by William Hill.

The observation decks on floors 108 and 109 were also remodeled and the STRAT became the first of Golden’s properties to introduce True Rewards. True Rewards is a comprehensive gaming rewards program. It will eventually be available at more than 130 locations, including PT’s brand taverns, grocery stores like Smith’s and Albertson’s, and even a few casinos.

Renovations Near Completion

A full remodel of the entire 80,000-square-foot casino is now completed. There are over 750 slot machines and 44 tables. There’s even a new baccarat pit for those who prefer the beginner-friendly game. Designed to improve sight lines and the flow of traffic to enhance the overall guest experience, the casino has been completely transformed.

According to inside sources, the color new color scheme is inspired by the sky, stars, the sun, and the moon. The decor and the floor are covered in rich shades of amber and blue. Other new features include directional signage, a full redesign of the hotel’s registration area, and even a video wall behind the box office.

The exciting new Remix Lounge bar (where the “reinvention party” will take place) has also been added and is positioned conveniently on the main casino floor, which includes counter-top slots and comfortable lounging.

Additional renovations were made to 574 rooms of the STRAT’s 2,427 rooms, as part of its new Elevate series. The new rooms showcase contemporary design. The rooms are outfitted for modern technological needs, including a 55-inch television with accessible HDMI ports, a custom entertainment console and complimentary Wi-Fi; as well as with new beds and other furnishings.

The exterior has been renovated to deliver a striking new arrival for guests through new landscape architecture at the main entrance and surrounding the property; new exterior signage on the tower and at the porte cochere, where new LED is customized for holidays and special events; and a new LED screen showcasing vibrant video content.

According to company representatives, the renovations are designed to help the property stay competitive, consider the fact that it’s at the north end of the Strip.

The STRAT is also expected to launch their entirely new website with a new URl to go along with the rebrand: www.TheSTRAT.com.

What Guests Are Saying About the New ‘STRAT’

“The newly remodeled hotel looks wonderful. Staff were prompt on taking care of minor issues with our room and provided excellent customer service. The room was clean and bed was comfortable. We are glad the hotel is away from the heavy traffic of the main strip. Definitely would stay here again!” – C L, Google Reviews

“The Strat is one of my favorite places in Las Vegas. We have had such a good lunch in the cafe on the top of the tower. There was an amazing view of the city! They don’t charge nothing for entry but the minimum spending is $30 per person. We took awesome pictures and really enjoyed the views and food as well. Highly recommend to everyone in Vegas!” – Martin Švec, Google Reviews

“Great staff they treat you like family. Many new renovations are going on there. I have been going there for about 5 year’s and love it. They also have a couple of great restaurants there and you won’t be disappointed they are excellent.” – Bruce Pankers, Google Reviews

Protesters Opposing Homeless Ordinance Block Off Fremont Street

Fremont Street in Downtown Las VegasOn Monday evening, which fell on MLK Day, nearly 100 protestors came together on Fremont Street to make a bold appeal to city leaders that they want the homeless ordinance, scheduled to take full effect in February, overturned.

The city of Las Vegas ordinance will make it illegal for the homeless to sleep on public streets and sidewalks, if there are shelter beds available. Those in violation of the new rule could face a fine, jail time, or both.

City Council’s Hopes for the Homeless Ordinance

The Las Vegas City Council approved the camping ban back in November. While the leaders admitted it was flawed at the time, they believed it was a necessary step towards finding some kind of solution to the city’s homeless problems. Their hope is that the ordinance will drive homeless people to the shelters where they can seek help and force them to find a more sustainable living solution.

Protesters have a vastly different opinion. One protester, Katie Krikorian, said this of the City Council’s mindset toward alleviating the problem:

                “It shows how far removed from real society the City Council is if they think imprisoning people, or fining them, is helping them.

I do not have a simple answer to homelessness. No one else has come up with it, and I’m not going to either. But, definitely not fining and imprisoning them and making it harder for them to get a job or get on a lease.

Drop the penalties. If they’re not jailing people and they’re not fining people, and they’re sending officers around to give information about shelters, that’s absolutely fine.”

The Protestors Firm Stance

Local Minister Stretch Sanders helped effectively organize the protest through his presence on Twitter, and he says it won’t be the last:

                “We’re going to keep doing these types of actions until we get the ordinance overturned,” he said. “Let’s meet. Let’s negotiate. Let’s end the camping ban.”

Sanders’ hope is that the city will go back to the drawing board and find a better solution.

The protest remained peaceful, until tensions rose at the end. Some protesters blocked off the street, even after they were given a ten-minute warming by police to vacate. Officers detained and arrested about a dozen protesters who failed to listen to the warning.

The most popular chant of the night, that protesters marched and gave in unison, was “Housing not handcuffs!” Protesters also set up sleeping bags and sat in tents with the words “Poverty is not a crime” tagged over it.

One of the protesters, Robert Majors, had this to say about the stress the law is causing the Las Vegas homeless community:

              “I’m willing to do what it takes to make a stand against the laws that are making it harder for homeless people to survive,” he said. “We could do something creative, and not create a law that just hurts people.”

Majors was one of the protesters who ended up getting arrested that evening.

Pennsylvania’s First Month of Online Poker Generates $2.5 Million

Playing Cards on Top of Keyboard, Poker Chips, Red DiceFollowing a soft-launch in early November, December was the first full month of online poker in the Keystone State. The rollout came two years after the legislature legalized online gambling in 2017. With  early reports indicating that interest in poker was high in the Keystone State, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has supplied some evidence:

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Publishing its December 2019 revenue report, the regulator showed that monthly online earnings were up 10.3 percent. Pennsylvania online poker, in total, generated $2.5 million in revenue during December 2019. Nearly $400,000 of that revenue was collected by the state as tax revenue.

PokerStars PA Boosts Revenue

In November, online gaming revenue was $9,655,811. One month later, Pennsylvania’s five licensed operators earned $10,624,699. The jump was somewhat expected thanks to launch of PokerStars PA. Although the site went live in November, December was its first full month of activity.

Currently, PokerStars PA is the only Pennsylvania online poker room in operation and there has been no official word that a competitor is on the verge of entering the market. In less than two months, online poker revenue in the state totaled more than $4.4 million and added $710,000 to state coffers.

Thanks to the Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker (PACOOP), everything started off pretty well. Held afloat by the increase in activity during the event’s opening week, PokerStars PA increased the overall guarantee from $1 million to $1.2 million.

The total payout eventually surpassed $1.5 million; a figure that helped PokerStars rake $2,473,173 in December.

While impressive, the $2.5 million in revenue made in December only made up less than 1 percent of Pennsylvania’s gross gambling revenue, but online gambling is steadily taking up a bigger percentage of market share than in years past.

Online Poker Compared to Other iGaming Verticals in the State

Like its first month, online poker compares favorably in terms of revenue when considered alongside other iGaming verticals in the state.

The highest amount ever generated from slots last month was $1.9 million by Rivers-Philidelphia. Hollywood Casino ranked second and brought in about $1.5 million in profits. For table games, once again Rivers-Philidelphia led the market with $1.1 million in revenue. Mount Airy was the next highest with $805k.

When combining slots and table games, poker still fares well, out-earning all but the market-leading Rivers-Philidelphia.

Poker compares favorably when compared to the highly lucrative sports betting vertical, too. When compared to land-based sports betting, poker generated more than any single operator. In fact, poker almost outgained all land-based sports betting in the market last month which combined for just under $3 million.

It will be interesting to see the trajectory of Pennsylvania online poker revenue over the course of its first year. It’s uncertain whether the hype may wear off, or if it will continue to gain more and more traction. We may more operators enter the market and it is even possible that the state may begin sharing liquidity with other states should the Wire Act case be settled favorably.

For now, though, the good amount of revenue coming out of Pennsylvania demonstrates just how much money a state can truly generate in tax revenue from the regulation and legalization of online poker. It won’t be long before other states begin it to follow in its footsteps after seeing the numbers.

Ohio Sports Betting Bills Face Stalemate, While Neighboring States Advance

Ohio State FlagAs of Spring 2019, two sports betting bills have been sitting, unmoved, in Ohio legislature:

  • OH SB 111 resides in the state Senate and aims to have the Ohio Casino Control Commission in charge of regulating sports betting.
  • OH HB 194 is in the state House and if legalized would appoint the Ohio Lottery as the regulatory authority over sports betting.

While it’s clear that these two Ohio sports betting bills have been locked in stalemate for months, the path to get out of it is unclear. With the Super Bowl only weeks away, sports wagering’s peak season, it comes as a shock that there hasn’t been a bigger push to move these bills forward, given the sensitive timeline.

Sen. John Eklund gave this statement last month, regarding the status of the legislature to this issue:

“The heavy lifting in terms of educating members, gathering info, caucusing, I think in my opinion, we’re coming to the end of that line. I know it’s taking a long time, but that doesn’t mean nothing’s going on. We’re working very hard to get this just so.”

Comments from the Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, Larry Householder, however, seemed to indicate different views:

 “The Senate at this point seems pretty committed to keeping it with the casinos. So we’ll just have to figure it all out.”

Ohio Falls Behind Neighboring States

Since Eklund’s comments last month, Ohio’s northern neighbor, Michigan, officially legalized both retail and online sports wagering. Kentucky, Ohio’s southern neighbor, has also sent a sports betting bill to their House floor and the bill looks to be in prime position to be signed into law with the governor supporting the bill.

Ohio now sits in between three states with active mobile betting that does not require in-person registration. That means that residents who live near the borders of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, or Indiana can all hop over the state line, place their bets, and come back to Ohio. This issue will seemingly only be accelerated when Michigan launches its own sports wagering apps.

Meanwhile, OH HB 194 has had a total of eight hearings conducted in the House Finance Committee since being introduced and has yet to reach the House Floor. Similarly, OH SB 111 has had two hearings in the Senate committee of General Government and Agency Review with no luck of obtaining a full vote from the Senate.

What’s the Hold Up?

What the hold up is really coming down to a disagreement over which state agency should regulate betting on sports.

Senate President Larry Obhof and Gov. Mike DeWine said they’re in favor of making it legal in Ohio’s 11 casinos and racinos, so long as it’s overseen by the Ohio Casino Control Commission. It would levy a 6.25% tax, with proceeds going into the state’s general fund. The Senate bill has only received two hearings so far.

Householder supports putting the Ohio Lottery Commission in charge, which could grant permission to small businesses like bars and restaurants and fraternal organizations to have sports betting terminals. It calls for taxing betting receipts at 10%, dedicating the net proceeds for education and gambling-addiction programs. The House version got eight committee hearings, but hasn’t gotten a hearing since December, with Householder saying it wasn’t quite ready for a full vote.

Both the Senate and House versions would allow for mobile betting, with neither version raising much money for the state. Casino companies generally prefer that the Casino Control Commission regulate the industry, though they’re not too pressed about which bill gets passed.

 

Atlantic City Mayor Wants Former Trump Casino Demolished: Says It’s An ‘Eyesore’

Trump Plaza Hotel and Signage, People Walking By HotelDuring a meeting of the Metropolitan Business & Citizens Association, held at Caesars Atlantic City on Jan. 15, Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small said in a speech that one of his biggest and most important goals for the 2020 year is demolishing the Plaza Hotel. This was a former Trump property.

“My administration’s goal is to tear Trump Plaza down,” Small said. “That’s not accepted in any other city but Atlantic City. It’s an embarrassment, it’s blight on our skyline, and that’s the biggest eyesore in town.”

Mayor Small’s comments came on the heels of Jim Allen’s, Hard Rock International’s CEO, expressed disappointment in the state of the city. Allen confidently asserted that the city is in its “worse shape” since purchasing the Hard Rock property there three years ago. He states the city hasn’t responded swiftly or appropriately enough to growing concerns of the city’s worsening condition, for example, broken streetlights that have remained out for months:

 “When you’re in a resort environment where safety and security is so important, if the city can’t get something fixed as simple as the street lighting, then maybe a change is needed,” Allen said.

Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino was forced to shut its doors in 2014, as the Garden State’s gambling epicenter was hit with an extended bout of weaker traffic. Smalls was tired of the building being seen as nothing more than illegally-discarded trash. Once again, he started asking for the property to be demolished.

He wants his back yard cleaned up and rid of the dead weight, and he wants it now.

Trump Cuts Ties With AC Over a Decade Ago

Trump actually cut most of his ties with Atlantic City in 2009. This was when he sued to have his name removed from the shuttered Plaza building in October 2014, a month after it closed. The last of Trump’s involvement in the city was a small stake in the company. It was in return for the use of his name, but it has since been removed.

There are two other casinos that Trump once owned. Today, they’re currently operating under new brands—the Golden Nugget and Hard Rock. The Golden Nugget used to be the Trump Marina, and the Hard Rock was the former Trump Taj Mahal.

Currently, the Plaza building is owned by billionaire Carl Icahn, who assumed ownership of Trump’s former casino company from bankruptcy in 2016.

Obtaining a Demolition Permit

While the major goal of his administration is to make the building go away is clear, Small didn’t exactly specify who would bear the expense.

Trump Plaza was considered for demolition two years ago, but Icahn has not obtained a demolition permit, as reported by The Press of Atlantic City. Mayor Small’s effort to obtain funding from a state agency toward the cost of demolition failed, but he is putting enforcement in place this time around in an effort to help see his demolition goal succeed in the new year.

Small explained that a new 90-day code enforcement review panel is going to be put in place starting this week, according to The Press Of Atlantic City. Also coming are a business advisory council and infrastructure committee that are designed to help identify opportunities in both of those potential growth areas.

Circa, Las Vegas’ Newest Resort & Casino, Aims to Have the Greatest Pool in the World

Rectangle Pool, Two Palm Trees, Beige UmbrellasFremont Street’s exciting new Circa Resort & Casino is slated for a 2020 opening, but will it have the world’s greatest new pool, too?

Casino developer Derek Stevens introduced his latest casino project, Circa Resort & Casino, in January of 2019. After several years of purchases, Stevens now owns and operates The D Las Vegas and Golden Gate casinos. Circa will be his third downtown Las Vegas property when it opens in December 2020 in downtown Las Vegas.

Circa Resort & Casino is his biggest project to date, by a long shot. Here are his plans for the innovative and massive multilevel pool deck amphitheater:

 “We’re trying to build what I would consider to be the greatest pool in the history of the world. Hopefully it’s something that adds into the Vegas allure to bring more people.”

A “Destination” Pool

The heart of Steven’s pitch is the proposed multi-tiered pool amphitheater, that includes six separate pools and a 134-by-41-foot video screen that will allow for a variety of customized experiences. The massive screen will create an enticing watch-party atmosphere for sports fans.

“This is going to be a great venue to watch sports, a great place to catch sun, a great place to listen to music,” Stevens said, “and a great place for product launches.”

What makes the pool so different than any other pool not only in Las Vegas, but the world, is the temperature control system that will allow the pool area to remain open 365 days a year. Other Las Vegas Resort & Casino pools close down during the winter, which would effectively remove any competition for Circa in that respect.

Steven is referring to the aquatic center as a “destination pool,” as he predicts it will top tourist’s destination lists of must-see places when they visit Sin City. They expect to host 4,000 people a day at the multilevel pool.

Other Winning Features to Set Circa Apart

Circa Resort & Casino will be the tallest building north of the Vegas Strip. The property will be unlike any other in downtown Las Vegas. The innovative pool and sportsbook will make the property a destination instead of a property visited just because it’s in a mall of casinos.

Other plans for Circa are massive. There will be 1.25 million square feet of amenities including:

  • A three-level sportsbook with the world’s sportsbook video screen and broadcast studios
  • A rejuvenating Spa
  • Casino on two floors
  • 777 hotel rooms and suites
  • 9-story parking garage for guests
  • Numerous restaurants

Another difference between Circa and other “new” Las Vegas casinos is that this is a completely new construction project. Park MGM is the newest casino in Las Vegas. It’s the updated version of the Monte Carlo, which announced its exit from the Las Vegas Strip in 2016. Circa will be the first new casino actually built from the ground up in Downtown Las Vegas since 1980.

And Stevens does a great job of combining classic Las Vegas service with modern amenities. Circa should be the pinnacle of this experience with great dining, gambling, drinking, a spa, and hotel rooms:

“There is a lot of unmet demand for fun in Las Vegas,” said Stevens. “At Circa, our goal is to create a destination resort in a historic part of the city, while showing guests the time of their lives. We plan to double down on the world-class service Las Vegas has always been known for while bringing personalized experiences to a new level.”

2020 NFL Draft Plans Will Be Released Tuesday: Main Stage & Strip Closures

The Bellagio Fountains Rising During the DayWe’re now only 100 days out from what is planned to be the biggest single event the city of Las Vegas has ever hosted: the 2020 NFL Draft. Official planning is set to get underway for this mega event in Las Vegas, with the Clark County Commission scheduled to reveal those plans in greater detail during their regular Tuesday meeting, according to the agenda.

League officials announced in December 2018 this year’s draft would be held in Las Vegas, coinciding with the Raiders’ first season at Allegiant Stadium. Since then, exact event details, including what venue would serve as host, have not been revealed. The hot topics of discussion have been where the main stage will be, and possible road closures.

Main Stage Contenders

Since the draft announcement, there has been much speculation as to where the draft’s main stage will be. Transportation Reporter for the Las Vegas Review Journal, Mick Akers, shares his insight from Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, talks and trusted sources with Cassie Soto, Sports Anchor and Host for Las Vegas Review Journal:

                “The Bellagio Fountain is a possible main stage contender for the draft. Bellagio would be the dream stage that I think a lot of people would be happy to see come to fruition.”

For a while, the Bellagio Fountains as a backdrop seemed more like a rumor that people had doubts as to whether they could pull it off.

Akers mentioned that the Caesars Forum (behind Harrah’s) could also potentially serve as one of the main stages, which wouldn’t be much of a surprise considering that Caesars is the NFL’s first casino partner.

3-Day Strip Closure

If the main stage does end up being the Bellagio, fans should not plan on driving there or really anywhere on Las Vegs Blvd. for the few days surrounds the event.

For the event to be held successfully at the Bellagio, Akers says a 3-day Strip closure will need to be put in place. It would be the longest sustained closure on the Las Vegas Strip, besides the annual New Year’s Eve closures that last several hours for that one day.

With an event of this magnitude, it would be a 20-day time frame to set up and break down properly, which will result in lane reductions. Locals and tourists alike should keep in mind that the NFL Draft will have a multi-week impact on the city.

Transportation plans will be put in place for workers on the Strip, as they’re the lifeblood of operations in the heart of Sin City. Plans will be put in place to keep things rolling, regardless of there being no vehicle traffic on the Strip. It will also be interesting to see how the RTC, Las Vegas’ most profitable public transit company, will handle the event.

The closure would be planned from Harmon to Spring Mountain, a substantial, populated chunk of Las Vegas Blvd. chock-full of major resorts and restaurants.

Other Sites to Get Draft Action

As far as other sites that will likely get in on the draft action, there are several. Goodell mentioned talks of the High Roller, the Strat, and the famed “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. Some Las Vegas icons on the Strip, perhaps even Celine Dion, could be recruited for draft action.

With an estimated 400,000 people coming to Las Vegas strictly for the NFL Draft, the city will make sure to have a plan of strategy in place to handle the volume. Being that Las Vegas in no stranger to major events and hundreds of thousands of tourists being in the city on any given day, we’re confident that Las Vegas serving as the 2020 NFL Draft host will be a wild success.

Tennessee Lottery Finalizing Sports Betting Regulations in February

Tennessee State Flag: Blue Circle, White Stars, Red BackgroundSix months after online sports betting became legal in Tennessee, state lottery officials are still finalizing the rules governing how licensees will operate. The Tennessee Education Lottery Corp.’s Board of Directors is scheduled to meet in Nashville on Feb. 19. That immediately follows the TEL Sports Wagering Advisory Council meeting to further discuss the draft regulations the lottery released in late November.

Dave Smith, TEL Communications Director, gave this public comment:

“The goal is the TEL Board of Directors votes on the rules and regulations at its February 19 meeting.”

It’s unsure whether lottery officially will be able to take applications after the meeting adjourn. State Rep. Rick Staples, who sponsored the bill legalizing sports betting in Tennessee, and other leaders are hopeful that they can start taking applications next month and start product rollouts beginning in March.

Tennessee to Exclusively Take Online Sports Betting Applications

In a stark contrast to how every other state that has legalized sports betting in the US has operated, Tennessee decided to go exclusively go with online sports betting applications, not requiring brick-and-mortar establishments.

The Tennessee Sports Gaming Act, passed by state legislators last spring, did not legalize physical gambling locations Currently, the state does not have any casinos. Because of this, lawmakers placed sports betting under the TEL’s discretion.

The Gaming Act enforces the following rules: Players must be at least 21 years of age and physically present in the state in order to place a bet, operators will need to pay an annual $750,000 licensing fee, and the state will impose a 20% tax on licensees’ adjusted gross income.

Sports Bettor’s Criticism Over Proposed Hold Rule

Tennessee’s innovative approach to sports betting, with the acknowledgement of how much mobile applications dominate in states that allow both retail and online establishments, has received high praise. Whereas other states, the handle for online betting far exceeds the amount brick-and-mortar sportsbooks take. In some cases, it’s as wide as an 80/20 split.

What’s not receiving critical acclaim amongst sports bettors however, is the proposed hold rate. The proposed rule would require sportsbooks to cap payouts at 85 percent. The resulting 15 percent hold is up to three times as much as the average rate for the sports wagering industry.

Robert Walker, Director of Sports Book Operations for US Bookmaking, tweeted this about the proposed hold tying into the Tennessee Lottery:

Other Concerns

Other aspects of Tennessee’s sports betting that have drawn criticism are its requirement for using official league data and its high tax rate.

Tennessee is one of only three states that requires sportsbooks to use official league data to score live betting opportunities, joining Illinois and Michigan. However, Tennessee’s law allows for an exception if the league cannot provide the data under “commercially reasonable terms.”

The state is also planning to tax licensees at 20% of their adjusted gross revenue every month. Out of all the states that generate its sports betting income off of taxes, that rate is a bit lower in comparison to Pennsylvania’s 36%.

Gambling Revenue in Pennsylvania Skyrockets to Over $3.4 Billion

Bright Colored Slot Machines Inside of a CasinoThanks to a major boost as the result of the aggressive new expansion of gambling authorized by state lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017, Pennsylvania’s commercial casinos have reached an all-time high in revenue.

Pennsylvania, the nation’s second-largest commercial casino state, took an even deeper plunge into gambling that allowed people to bet online, in airports and at truck stops for the first time. The major expansion of gambling in the state was largely due to government leaders searching for money to plug holes in Pennsylvania’s tattered finances.

Their plan worked. According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, revenue at the state’s 12 casinos, as well as through fantasy sports contests and video gambling terminals at truck stops, rose in 2019 by $146 million, or 4.5%, over 2018 to above $3.4 billion.

For the fifth straight calendar year, casino revenue in Pennsylvania has grown.

A Breakdown of the Revenue Figures

Slot machine revenue was the lion’s share of the revenue at almost $2.4 billion, but shrank about $7 million. Revenue from table games rose by about $25 million to above $900 million.

The fiscal year 2019 demonstrated revenue coming in from the initial excitement of offering online gambling, sports betting, and video gambling terminals at truck stops.

Sports betting contributed over $84 million in profit, while online gambling through several licensed casinos contributed nearly $34 million. Over $2 million in revenue was achieved at video gambling terminals available at truck stops throughout PA. Daily fantasy sports contests brought in a whopping $26 million. This is over $10.5 million more from 2018, and a clear indication that sports gambling is on the rise.

Online Sports Betting Continues to Heat Up

The most lucrative online gambling vertical in Pennsylvania is sports betting. Last December, operators collected $14.5 million in revenue from online sports betting, dwarfing the $2.2 million generated in the market from land-based (retail) sports wagering.

Despite the fact that the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is technically gambling on sports, and the biggest operators also offer sports betting in Pennsylvania, sports betting figures reported by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board do not include revenue from DFS operators.

Protecting Pennsylvania’s Tax Revenue

Apart from Nevada (of course), Pennsylvania casinos bring in more gross revenues than any other state in the US. This is a statistic according to figures gathered by the American Gaming Association. But Pennsylvania is the No. 1 state in tax revenue from the casino industry, netting $1.4 billion in the most recent fiscal year.

Pennsylvania’s lottery is also one of the nation’s biggest, delivering $1 billion in profits on $4 billion in sales, though its revenue has flattened.

Lawmakers saw the casino gambling expansion as a way to bring in more tax revenue to their districts and pet projects. Wolf had also focused on ensuring that a gambling expansion would not damage the state’s existing tax collections from casino revenues or receipts from the struggling Pennsylvania Lottery.

When talks of the gambling expansions were still taking place, Wolf told reporters this:

“There’s been a lot of pressure from a lot of places in the commonwealth to actually expand this and we do need some recurring revenue. Again, the goal has been all along to do what’s prudent, not cannibalize existing gambling revenue coming to the state, and I think what we’re settling on will actually do that.”

 

 

Neon Museum Hopes Tim Burton’s “Lost Vegas” Is the First of Many Traveling Exhibits

Tim Burton's "Lost Vegas" Neon Exhibit Sign in Downtown Las VegasThe Tim Burton “Lost Vegas” display at the Neon Museum has been a sought-after attraction by Burton fans since it opened on Oct. 15, 2019. It’s been so popular, in fact, that it’s substantially benefited the downtown economy, and has been extended an extra two months until April 12, 2020. The Neon Museum’s CEO hopes this is just the first of many successful traveling exhibits to come.

What the “Lost Vegas” Exhibit is All About

The exhibit features large-scale artworks by the quirky American director, known best for his Gothic-style creations. “Lost Vegas” is the first U.S. showcase of Burton’s original artworks in nearly a decade, since his name and work drew more than 800,000 visitors to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2009. Some of his pieces at Lost Vegas are being seen for the first time anywhere since Burton created various sculptures and installation specifically for the Las Vegas exhibition.

The director of “Beetlejuice,” “Edward Scissorhands,” and “Batman” to name a few, is no stranger to Las Vegas. His 1996 science-fiction comedy “Mars Attacks!” was partially set here. In fact, a 1995 real-life hotel implosion of the Landmark Hotel and Casino just off the Strip was recast as part of the alien attack. In the movie, it was known as the Galaxy Hotel.

Visitors are able to explore Burton’s artworks alongside the museum’s antique sign collection (called the Neon Boneyard), throughout the museum’s 2.62-acre indoor and outdoor spaces. You’ll find some iconic signs from the “Mars Attacks!” film in the Boneyard, including the unrestored Jerry’s Nugget sign, The Fox Theater Marquee from the Charleston Plaza Mall, and the Desert Rose Sign from the south end of the Strip.

In addition to the main exhibit show, which is a $30 general admission price that grants a one-hour entry to the museum’s Boneyard, the exhibit also features the Tim Burton Brilliant nighttime show, which costs $24 and is a separate admission.

The Tim Burton Brilliant showcases the artist’s infinity for Las Vegas, and uses light projections, music, and archival footage to illuminate unrestored signs from the museum’s collection and the history of the town.

Here are what some visitors had to say about the experience:

“The exhibits are a little on the weird side, but I like weird, so that’s good,” museum visitor Gary Arsenault said.

“A little bit bizarre,” visitor John Baccile says of the exhibit, “but I think that speaks to all of us.”

The Exhibit Has Doubled the Museum’s Numbers

Neon Museum’s CEO, Rob McCoy, says the exhibit has doubled the museum’s attendance numbers. Last year, the museum welcomed around 250,000 visitors. Thanks to the Burton display, that number is expected to reach 400,000 this year alone.

“I don’t think this is a one and done,” said McCoy. “I think we’ll be looking for other traveling exhibits at the Neon Museum, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Tim Burton doesn’t come back and do something else. The little Neon Museum has become quite an international attraction. And it’s so special because it’s our history.”

Catch Tim Burton’s aliens, spiral-eyed girl and flying saucers while you can. Tickets are available at NeonMuseum.org.

 

NFL Enthusiastic About Vegas Hosting A Future Super Bowl

Raider's Football Player Catching Ball on Football Field, Raider's LogoIt’s the most exciting year Las Vegas has ever experienced when it comes to sports, and it’s a year of firsts. First, the Oakland Raiders will be making their new home in the valley, making them Las Vegas’ very first professional football team. Secondly, Vegas will host the 2020 NFL Draft this year (April 23-25), their first time hosting the NFL Draft in the city’s history. And finally, Allegiant Stadium, the Raiders’ new $2-billion home, will officially open its doors August 2020, making it Las Vegas’ first football stadium.

NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, said that Las Vegas’ hosting of the NFL draft will essentially serve as the Raiders’ welcome party with the league planning to “incorporate all the iconic features of this city.” Goodell said:

“This city knows how to put on big events, there’s no question about that. You have the infrastructure and it’s Super Bowl ready. You have Allegiant Stadium, which is going to be a world-class stadium that will be our stage ultimately. You have everything here.”

NFL Draft Predicted to Bring Substantial Economic Impact

Jeremy Aguero, a principal analyst with Applied Analysis, says that since Las Vegas has never hosted the NFL Draft before, it’s tough to really say the kind of impact it will have on the local economy. But, when factoring in information from last year’s host city, Nashville, it’s becomes easier to predict an outcome.

According to Aguero, that outcome looks positive. This is largely considering the fact that Vegas is a hot location, and one that’s able to accommodate and entertain the large crowd the NFL Draft will undoubtedly bring:

 “When you think about what the draft did in Nashville, about 600,000 people, and you see some of the other markets it’s been in, our expectation is Las Vegas has a good opportunity to beat some of those numbers, and that economic impact would be pretty substantial for the community.

“Not only are we superior to other locations, and I don’t mean that in any derogatory way, but we have more hotel rooms, access is easier here, we have a lot of entertainment options, we’re going to draw people to the event, we believe. And, in addition to that, every visitor that comes to Las Vegas spends more than $800 per person, per trip.”

How Hosting the Super Bowl Could Impact the City

With the Raiders making the move to Las Vegas, it marks the beginning of a shift of seeing Vegas as strictly a “casino town” to becoming a “sports town.” With Sin City the hosting Super Bowl, which the NFL wouldn’t predict to happen for at least the next five years (due to the location of the next four Super Bowl’s already being set), would further drive the economy in substantial ways.

Las Vegas hosting the Super Bowl could successfully marry the elements of what the city has been known for, gambling, with the valley’s newly infused sports culture in major ways.

“We think sports gambling in many ways creates a lot more engagement for our fans. It’s another opportunity for them to engage with our game.

What I see now is a city that has emerged from the Strip and primarily a casino-driven town to a city that’s really quite remarkable,” Goodell said. “I think we’ll all be grateful that Mark Davis made the decision to come here.”

Michigan’s Islands Resort & Casino Approves $30 Million Renovation

Island-CasinoOn Thursday, the Hannahville Indian Community Tribal Council granted approval to pave the way for the Island Resort & Casino in Michigan to begin a sizable renovation. The property will spend $30 million to expand the resort property by adding 11 stories to the Palm Tower. The top floor of the property will feature a brand-new restaurant as well as an expansive meeting space.

The hotel will also get a 140-room expansion on top of the 300 rooms that already exist. Aa water park and a swimming pool will also be built adjacent to the hotel. The casino and hotel property has been in need of expansion for quite some time given how many people visit the resort on a yearly basis.

More Space in High Demand

Tony Mancilla, the general manager of Island Resort & Casino, told Marquette local TV stadion WLUC:

“We have a high demand. We sold out 95 percent of our rooms every day of the summer, and on the weekends, we have waiting lists anywhere up to 200 people, so we have a high demand for the rooms.”

The property attracts casino gamblers, convention attendees as well as golfers.

Quintus 3D, an architectural planning firm from Wisconsin, is set to provide designs and engineering proposals in the coming weeks. Quintus 3D has previously designed the property’s Drift Spa, retail space and hotel lobby. The company is known to work with several Indian tribes all over the United States.

Michigan-based Gundlach Champion will oversee construction at the property. Gundlach Champion is also familiar with the property after having built the Island hotel’s Sun Tower as well as the casino expansion back in 1998. The designing, engineering and construction of the expansion is expected to begin in the next few months. Construction is slated to get underway in June, and the new features are expected to open at some point in 2021.

The casino’s current gaming floor includes a casino occupying nearly 409,000 square feet of space with over 1,200 games. There are countless slot machines as well as a poker room, bingo, blackjack, craps and roulette. The property is also home to an entertainment venue featuring over 1,300 seats.

Sports Betting On the Way in Michigan?

The new expansion is not expected to account for the possibility of the legalization of sports betting. However, the FireKeepers Casino in nearby Battle Creek will soon feature sports betting. The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, which runs the casino, has already partnered with Scientific Games Corporation in order to provide sportsbook services.

In December, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer officially signed the Lawful Sports Betting Act. The new legislation grants the Michigan Gaming Control Board the ability to hand out sports betting licenses to the state’s Indian tribal casinos. 3 commercial casinos located in the Detroit metro area will also be able to provide sports betting services.

At the time the bill was signed into law, Michigan became the 20th state in the US to pass a law legalizing sports betting. Those licenses will cost $100,000, and they can be renewed on a yearly basis for $50,000. Tribal sportsbooks will be taxed by the state at a rate of 8.4 percent, while the commercial casinos in Detroit will be taxed 11.75 percent. Detroit has a mandatory 3.25 percent add-on tax that applies to any and all forms of gambling.

The legalization of sports betting is expected to generate about $19 million in revenue for Michigan, according to estimates.

Louisiana Gaming Control Board Approves Proposed Caesars-Eldorado Merger

Eldorado-CasinoOn Friday, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board officially approved the proposed merger between Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Eldorado Resorts. While the board gave the $17.3 billion deal the thumbs-up, the regulator also criticized Eldorado for lacking in its efforts to upgrade its Baton Rouge casino.

Members of Eldorado’s brass made an appearance in front of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board on Thursday with hopes of helping the merger’s chances of being approved. Getting approval in all states in which Eldorado and Caesars operate is a necessary step for both to go forward with the proposed deal. The lucrative pact was officially announced in June of 2019, and industry experts believe the merger will close sometime in the middle of this year.

Louisiana Board Grills Eldorado Executives

Ronnie Jones, the Chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, asked Eldorado CEO Tom Reeg whether he and his team “were up to the task to make sure that you spread attention to all of the properties in all states in which you operate.” Jones cited the fact that Eldorado’s Belle of Baton Rouge Casino and Hotel has struggled to meet its financial goals over the past few years and that the lack of renovations is to blame.

Jones also made a note of the fact that Reeg and the rest of Eldorado’s representatives in attendance for Thursday’s meeting did not even stay at the Belle property. Instead, they stayed at L’Auberge Casino Hotel, which is owned by competitor Gaming and Leisure Properties.

Eldorado has invested only $1.1 million since acquiring the Belle, with most of the money going toward refurbishing and upgrading slot machines and gambling equipment. However, Reeg and Eldorado formally pledged to invest quite a bit in the riverboat casino property in the years ahead.

Eldorado Pledges Millions to Louisiana Properties

Reeg said that he and his group “understand that asset in its current state is not acceptable to the state and is not acceptable to us either.” He added that the “situation will be different” the next time they appear before the board. Eldorado subsequently pledged to spend over $500 million in Louisiana over the next 4 years, with $325 million of that money going toward overhauling Harrah’s New Orleans. Harrah’s is operated by Caesars.

Another $110 million will be put toward moving the Isle of Capri Casino Lake Charles onto land. The same will be done to the Belle of Baton Rouge. That process will involve moving the riverboat into a nearby atrium that had previously housed a shopping mall.

More Regulatory Challenges Ahead

Shareholders for Eldorado and Caesars both approved the proposed merger in November of 2019. Louisiana was the second regulator to officially vote on the merger after Missouri voted in December, and there are 12 more states that need to do the same before the deal will close.

Reeg said last summer that he would expect the deal to close some time in the first quarter of 2020, but that is looking unlikely at this stage. At the time, Reeg said,

“We’re still targeting a first half of 2020 closing date. If I were to place a bet today, I’d be betting on a first quarter close versus a second quarter close. But we’re going through the regulatory and antitrust in real time.”

Shareholders from Eldorado and Caesars were both over 99 percent in favor of the deal. Eldorado’s stockholders additionally approved a measure to reincorporate Eldorado from Nevada to Delaware following the merger’s closing later this year. Eldorado is set to pay over $7 billion in cash with 77 million shares of stock in order to acquire 51 percent of the new company. Eldorado will also take on Caesars’ existing debts.

Once all regulatory hurdles are cleared, the new company will own 60 casinos with 51,000 hotel rooms, 71,000 slot machines and 3,650 table games across the United States.

Hard Rock Will Continue to Invest in Atlantic City, Despite Town’s Bad Shape

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic CityThe CEO of Hard Rock Atlantic City, Jim Allen, voiced his concerns that Atlantic City is “going in the wrong direction,” citing that the city in the worse shape it’s ever been since buying the Atlantic City casino nearly three years ago.

The resort is doing their part to keep employee morale high. After an employee meeting last Thursday, the Hard Rock handed out bonuses to nearly $2,900 full-time employees, totaling $2 million. Allen said while the company is willing and ready to be a part of a solution to build a better Atlantic City, it’s not confident over recent developments.

The City Needs Patching Up

One particular area of concern that comes up often is the lack of urgency when it comes to maintaining the surrounding areas. This includes keeping the streets clean and repairing anything within the environment that may affect consumer safety and working to prevent potential accidents. Allen notes that the streetlights have been out for two months on several blocks along Pacific Avenue:

“When you’re in a resort environment where safety and security is so important, if the city can’t get something fixed as simple as the street lighting, then maybe a change is needed,” he said.

Allen had humble career beginnings in the casino industry, when he started out as a cook at Bally’s Atlantic City over 40 years ago. He made a mere $6.11 an hour. Understanding the importance of keeping the hospitality industry alive in the town, he felt urged to meet with Mayor Marty Small to discuss plans for progress.

Recruiting the Mayor’s Help

On Thursday, Mayor Small stated that he’s been working with the electric company and state agency responsible for planning in the city to restore functioning traffic lights. That’s the first step. When asked about the impact he’s made and plans to move forward, he said this:

“I’ve been in office 103 days and we’ve already made changes, with plenty to come. I’m moving my agenda forward, and will meet with anyone that has the city’s best interest (at heart), which Jim Allen does.”

What’s Next Moving Forward

If the casino’s performance improves, Allen said the company will be looking to double bonuses next year. Although the hotel misses its 2019 business targets by 10%, it didn’t stop the generous and forward-thinking CEO to give the bonuses.

The motive is to motivate full-time workers to provide great customer service. Many of the workers received $250, while managers received bonuses on scales tied to their salary.

It’s a smart business move. If the city can’t improve its infrastructure, it can at least improve its level of service to keep guests coming to the door. Jill Tyron, an administrative assistant for Hard Rock Atlantic City said this about the free bonus the company received:

“What’s not to love about free money? I love it here. The people I work with are wonderful.”

The company plans to invest at least $15 million in capital expenditures in Atlantic City in 2020, one of those expenditures including an expanded sports betting operation.

Rio Suite Hotel Celebrates 30 Years as Trendsetting Las Vegas Resort

Rio Suite Hotel in Las VegasBring out your Mardi Gras masks, because it’s time to celebrate the Rio Suite Hotel’s 30th birthday. The groundbreaking hotel shook up the Las Vegas resort scene when it opened on Jan. 15, 1990.

With the countless number of resorts on the Las Vegas scene now, it’s easy to forget how the Rio pioneered the way to the norm that’s industry standard today. The Rio was the first of its kind when it put the buffet kitchen in the dining area, when it opened a large-scale nightclub, and when it enticed crowds to its pool with white sands and exotic parties.

The off-Strip Brazilian-themed property also had the first all-suite resort in Las Vegas, with floor-to-ceiling glass in all the rooms. They also perfected the art of on-resort entertainment, with Danny Gans being the first start headliner to command a $100 ticket per show. Magic-show entertainers, Penn and Teller, have been serving laughs at their show that’s been running on the property since 2001.

Rio’s Highlights Over the Years

The Rio has had a colorful past thirty years indeed. Early visitors will recall being greeted by women dressed in colorful costumes with artificial fruit baskets on their heads.

In its heyday, it hosted its famous “Masquerade Show in the Sky,” that Rio guests were able to enjoy several times a night. It’s a much-missed attraction that amused both tourists and locals from Feb. 7, 1997, to its final performance on March 30, 2013.

The color spectacle included performer-laden floats traveling along a track on the ceiling and singers and dancers performing on a two-story, floor-level stage. Audience members can remember eagerly trying to catch beads tossed by performers.

In 1998, the Rio opened its Convention Center, that would later set the stage for the 2005 World Series of Poker Tournament. In 2006, Harrah’s purchased Caesars properties, including the Rio, for $9 billion. Caesars sponsorship of the WSOP helped fill the hotel to maximum capacity.

It was even the home of the late Prince’s residency in the 2000s.

The Chippendales show has also had its famous run there, usually falling under the first-time Vegas visitor’s to-see list.

New Owner: Looking To the Future

On Dec. 5, 2019, the newly formed Dreamscape Companies, became the new owner of the hotel in a $516.3 million deal. It has major hopes bringing the property back to its former glory.

Dreamscape will have plenty of lead time to determine how to drive customers to the 2,500-suite off-Strip property. Caesars Entertainment will continue to operate the building for two years with an option for a third year before Dreamscape takes over with its own management team, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Caesars will be paying rent of $45 million annually. This is all while Dreamscape strategizes on to whom and how it will exactly begin to advertise the resort.

The 22 acres of unused land, part of the 90-acre Rio campus, also provides potential opportunity, with potential development plans possibly including a Major League Baseball stadium, though it hasn’t been confirmed.

Even with the new management and ownership, the Rio will still continue to host Caesars’ popular World Series of Poker tournament, at least next year. The hosting rights still remain with Caesars Entertainment, but they will eventually make decisions on where to host the event in the future. The 2019 WSOP event attracted a record of more than 154,000 entrants.

Daily Fantasy Sports Provider DraftKings Opens Las Vegas Office

Town Square Offices in Las VegasDraftKings, the Boston-based daily fantasy sports contest provider, just opened up an office in Las Vegas.

President and co-founder, Matt Kalish, and DraftKings race and sports director, Johnny Avello, welcomed guests to the Town Square office on Wednesday, where 70 employees currently work. The company moved into their flexible new workspace on Monday – which it leases from WeWork – and plan to have more than 300 employees in the upcoming months.

Why Las Vegas is the Perfect Fit

When asked why the company chose Las Vegas to hold their office, Kalish said this:

“This is an iconic city when it comes to sports betting. It’s been the hub of all of that activity in our country for many decades. We see ourselves as looking to integrate as deeply as possible into the community.”

The opportunities with sports betting keep opening up nationwide. We want to make sure we continue to lead the pack and, to do that, we needed to invest in Las Vegas and take advantage of some of the great talent that’s here in this market.”

The Las Vegas office established a dedicated back-of-the-house call center that will handle customer experience, fraud, casino, sportsbook traders, human resources and information technology. Local employees are expected to handle customer inquiries around the clock. Once the DraftKings’ Las Vegas office is fully operational, it will be the second largest in the country behind the Boston operation.

Currently, the company offers its sports-betting app in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Hampshire and West Virginia with physical retail sportsbooks in New Jersey, New York, Iowa and Mississippi. According to Kalish, the company hasn’t decided how they’ll pursue a retail outlet or become a licensed operator in Nevada just yet, instead focusing solely on growing the company’s presence in the Silver State as of now.

Help from Local Talent

Former Wynn Las Vegas sports book director, Johnny Avello, was one of the first local talents to come aboard. He was hired by DraftKings in 2018 to work in the same capacity. Avello’s Las Vegas team includes sportsbook personnel that also formerly worked at other Las Vegas resorts.

Avello said this of finding a sweet spot for the company in town:

“Finding this location, it’s been in the works for a long time and, to me, it’s perfect. Town Square has great amenities, and this is a great work environment. It’s also close to the airport for people who need to get in and out. Anywhere where sports betting is legal, we’re looking to be in that market.”

DraftKings Continues to Expand

The company got its humble start out a spare bedroom. Founded in 2012 by Kalish and his two friends, Jason Robins and Paul Liberman, DraftKings quickly became a known brand once the popularity of fantasy sports was met with more loosened sports rules in different parts of the country.

Currently, the company’s daily fantasy product is available in eight countries, with its sports book division offering mobile and retail betting in eight states. DraftKings is also the official daily fantasy partner of the National Football League and the PGA Tour.

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For the past five years, DraftKings has had its eye on operating in Nevada. Last February, they announced their multi-state partnership deal with Caesars.

Under terms of that agreement, Caesars is offering DraftKings market access for its online gaming products, subject to passage of applicable laws and the parties securing applicable gaming licenses.

Their partnership with Caesars could result in new growth in the months ahead with Caesars on the verge of merging with Reno-based Eldorado Resorts Inc., in a proposed $17.3 billion deal. The deal is expected to close in the first half of this year.

The strategic plan to open a company office in the US gambling capital will only continue to expand their highly sought-after product and presence. Kalish said:

“DraftKings is in a great position. We have a ton of interest in the company because of our story. Everybody’s drawn in because of what’s going on with sports betting in the U.S. People want to change industries and change their career path to come work for us. I think we got 45,000 job applications last year.”