Connecticut Governor Throws Support for State Sports Betting Bill

Odds Board and Money
Gov. Ned Lamont said last week that he is working on bringing sports betting and iGaming to Connecticut. Per Gov. Lamont, he has been talking to the state’s two tribal casino operators about adding sportsbooks and online gaming to their services.

Said Gov. Lamont about residents heading to nearby states to make sports bets:

“Connecticut should not leave these opportunities for other states to benefit from our inaction.”

Senate Bill 146

SB 146 would authorize the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians to conduct both retail and online Connecticut sports betting on tribal land. The two tribes would also be allowed to run online casino businesses.

Furthermore, the bill proposes that the Connecticut Lottery Corporation to sell lottery game tickets and organize online keno games. The bill also states that the legalization of Connecticut sports betting, online gambling, as well as selling of game tickets and online keno games are subject to “new or amended agreements” with the Native American tribes.

If Senate Bill 146 is accepted, a reasonable set of procedures and data security standards for internet gaming need to be set-up. Likewise, Connecticut sports betting and online gambling will provide revenue to the state in the form of taxes.

Legalization Won’t Happen Overnight

Although the bill’s proposal has been filed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that legalization will happen overnight. The Connecticut General Assembly still has to vote on the bill during the 2021 legislative session, which will conclude on June 9th or four months for legislators to decide whether or not to approval legal Connecticut sports betting.

But COVID-19 has affected badly the revenues of Connecticut, as it has the other states in the U.S. Some lawmakers said last week that legal sports betting can help the state offset revenue losses and that could be enough to convince lawmakers to help pass the bill.

If passed, the bill won’t take effect until 2022, just in time for the fiscal year 2023. According to Democratic lawmakers in the state, if legal Connecticut sports betting goes as planned and the bill is passed, they could see an increase in annual revenues by $47.3M in 2023.

Cowboys, Mavericks Throw Support for Legal Texas Sports Betting Bill

Texas State Flag
Sports Betting Alliance says that the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, and Texas Rangers have thrown their support for legal Texas sports betting.

The Alliance, which is a coalition of companies backing the proposed sports betting bill, revealed that the Cowboys, Mavericks, and Rangers have joined the Dallas Stars and FC Dallas in backing the legislation to legalize sports betting in the Lone Star state.

Since gambling is banned in the state constitution, legal Texas sports betting will need the nod of two-thirds of both the House and Senate to amend the constitution. After that, another bill will have to be passed to enact the details of licensing and regulation. Then it will have to be approved by a majority of Texans in a vote.

What Does the Bill Say?

The current version of the legal Texas sports betting bill provides for the state to sell “skins” or permits to sports betting operators who partner with a sports franchise or a horse racing track. Some skins will only allow online legal Texas sports betting, while others will permit the on-site betting in sports stadiums and horse-racing tracks.

Licenses would cost $500,000 for mobile Texas sports betting and $50,000 for on site operators. Renewal fees would also be collected with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation in-charge of issuing the skins.

Only players aged 21 and older are allowed to wager on sports. The list of sports available for betting was not available but under the bill, betting on college sports in permitted. According to the bill’s author, Houston Republican Rep. Dan Huberty, bettors would receive a maximum of 90% of their winnings. The remaining 10% will go to the Texas special education fund.

Limited Gambling in Texas

The only forms of gambling that exist in the Lone Star State are the Texas Lottery, bingo, plus some horse and greyhound racing. Native American tribes have fought for years for the expansion of gambling, citing their right as Federally recognized tribes and sovereign nations to do so, but they have failed. Only the Kickapoo Nation currently owns a casino in the Lone Star state. But the casino doesn’t have the traditional slot machine games and other Las Vegas-style table-games.

Because of limited gambling in Texas, residents are currently engaging in Illegal sports betting. Since there legal Texas sports betting doesn’t exist, they have been forced to turn to offshore or unofficial sports betting sites that don’t provide customer protection.

The Dallas News reported that Texans are spending $2.5B in out-of-states casinos. If legal texas sports betting is approved, Rep Hubert said that it could be worth several hundred million dollars of new revenue to the state without raising taxes.

Bally’s Corporation to Construct $120M Casino Near Penn State

Bally's Atlantic City
Bally’s Corporation announced on Monday that it has entered into an agreement with former Penn State University trustee Ira Lubert for the design, development, construction, and operation of a Category 4 licensed Pennsylvania casino.

The said casino will have up to 750 slot machines and feature 30 table games, and it will be built near the “Nittany Mall” which is located about four miles from the Penn State campus. According to Bally’s the Pennsylvania casino will also have a retail sports betting shop, online sports betting, and online gaming, subject to separate licenses.

Per Bally’s Chief Executive Officer George Papanier:

“Expanding our rapidly growing, national footprint into the attractive Pennsylvania gaming market represents yet another major milestone for Bally’s and a great way to cap off a truly extraordinary year. Regional, land-based casinos remain the cornerstone of our portfolio diversification strategy, providing the necessary support for the growth, development and success of our future sports betting and iGaming initiatives. We look forward to combining our own proven track record of greenfield development with Ira Lubert’s local knowledge and expertise to bring Bally’s first-in-class gaming experience and amenities to customers and sports fans across Pennsylvania.”

Bally’s Will Acquire Majority Interest

Under the agreement, Bally’s will acquire a majority interest in the partnership, including 10% of the economic interests of all retail sports betting, online sports betting, and iGaming operations related to the project. Including construction and licensing costs, Bally’s estimates the cost of the Pennsylvania casino to be $120M.

According to Bally’s, construction will start during the first half of 2021 and will take approximately one year to finish. Once completed, it will be Bally’s first casino in Pennsylvania. The company owns or manages 11 gambling properties across seven states and will add three more in new states, including the Pennsylvania project.

About Ira Lubert

Lubert graduated from Penn State in 1973. The well-known real estate and property equity investor has been part of casino developments in Pittsburgh and Valley Forge. He served as chair of the Penn State Board of Trustees in 2016 and of the six-man committee that hired Bill O’Brien as the school’s football coach in 2012.

The chairman and co-founder of Lubert-Adler was recently awarded by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board the right to apply for a Category 4 slot machine license for a casino to be constructed within a 15-mile radius of Unionville Borough, Center County, Pennsylvania. Lubert has a minority founding investment in Rivers Casino.

BetMGM Announce Launch of iGaming Product in Pennsylvania

Tablet With an Online Casino With Casino Backgound

BetMGM announced last Friday that it has successfully launched in the Pennsylvania iGaming market.

In a statement, BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt said that the company is excited to launch its igaming product in the Keystone State. According to Greenblatt, players can register or connect their M Life Rewards membership with their BetMGM app account. This will enable them to earn M Life points which can be redeemed in MGM resorts across the United States:

“With more than 140 different games, including our own in-house progressive jackpot network, we’re delivering the widest range of content currently available in the state. Alongside MGM Resorts and its M life Rewards program, BetMGM will provide players with a truly unique entertainment experience.”

No Ties to a Land-Based Casino

BetMGM’s entrance in the Pennsylvania iGaming market comes with no ties to a land-based casino. The Keystone State passed a law in 2018 that allowed the Pennsylvania Gaming and Control Board the power to issue certificates to qualified gaming entities (or QGE) which are defined as companies that are active in online casino wagering in other U.S. states or foreign countries.

The Keystone State has three certificates for slot providers, three more for table game operators, and four peer-to-peer poker apps with each certificate costing $4M. BetMGM will offer both slot and table games in the Pennsylvania iGaming market. The company also offers its iGaming services in New Jersey, Nevada, and West Virginia.

BetMGM Eyeing Pennsylvania Sports Betting Market

While the certificates issued to QGEs does not include a sports betting, BetMGM revealed last Friday that it is in the process of securing the necessary license to offer sports betting in Pennsylvania. With the Keystone State emerging as the third largest sports betting market in the United States.

Last month, BetMGM announced a partnership with the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers. The deal made BetMGM the first betting company to partner with the Steelers. If BetMGM’s sports betting license is approved, it will also become an official sports betting partner of the Steelers.


Plaza Casino Announces Plan to Renovate Greyhound Bus Terminal

Mixed Image of Roulette Wheel Cards and Cash
The Plaza Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas announced on Wednesday its plan to redevelop a building that currently houses the Greyhound bus terminal on the Las Vegas casino.

The bus terminal will be vacated in the middle of 2021 and Plaza has started discussions with developers on possible projects to be constructed on the area. With 48,500 square feet and adjacent parking, the Las Vegas casino says that the building is a perfect location for new entertainment, dining, and retail outlets that will revitalize the downtown Las Vegas area.

In a statement, Plaza Hotel & Casino CEO Jonathan Jossel said:

“We are very excited to usher in this new era on Main Street. Main Street is where downtown started, and today, it remains the heart of downtown, connecting a thriving Arts District, a state-of-the-art city hall, popular destinations like the Plaza, Fremont Street Experience, our newest neighbor Circa, and much more. The Plaza is proud to have held the 1 Main Street address for nearly 50 years. With Greyhound relocating, we look forward to transforming the bus station into a new, dynamic downtown destination that will improve the ambiance and sense of community on Main Street. And with Symphony Park achieving its vision as a hub of residential, commercial, and cultural offerings, enhanced connectivity to it will bolster Main Street and downtown overall.”

Pedestrian Pathway

Aside from the renovation of the Greyhound bus station, Plaza Casino will also build a four block pedestrian pathway that will connect the Las Vegas casino with a new elevated bridge which will be constructed by the city over the Union Pacific railroad tracks to the new commercial and residential developments in Symphony Park.

The pathway will boast of a desert landscaping with lighting, and a decorative safety wall that hopes to create and enjoyable and relaxing pedestrian experience.

Revitalizing Downtown Las Vegas

The two projects exemplify the commitment of the Tamares Group in revitalizing downtown Las Vegas. For over ten years, Tamares chairman and CEO Poju Zabludowicz has pushed for the development of the company’s properties in downtown Las Vegas, including the 2015 sale of the Las Vegas Club which paved way for Circa, the first new resort constructed on Fremont street since 1980.

During the previous ten years, Tamares has undertaken several expansion and improvement projects at The Plaza. Most recently, the owners of the Las Vegas casino added a 100-plus premium Luxe room and suites at the Core Arena which is an outdoor equestrian and multipurpose facility on Main street.The improvements and development are expected to continue until next year when Plaza Casino celebrates its 50th year anniversary.

Lancadia II Gets New Jersey Approval for GNOC Acquisition

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The New Jersey Casino Control Commission has given the green light for the acquisition of Golden Nugget Online Gaming by Lancadia Holding II.

With the approval, GNOG is now a separate entity from its brick-and-mortar casino business. This move allows Lancadia II and GNOG to complete the merger announced earlier this year. Once that deal is consummated, the combined entity will go public and trade in the stock exchange.

Said Lancadia II co-chairman and CEO Tillman Fertitta:

“We are appreciative of the efforts of both the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and the Casino Control Commission in approving our transaction.”

A Special Acquisition Company

Lancadia II is a special acquisition company (SPAC) or blank-check company launched by Tillman Fertitta. Fertitta is the owner of five Golden Nugget casinos-two in Nevada, one in Atlantic City, one in Biloxi, Mississippi, and one in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Lancadia II is currently traded under the symbol “LCA” but will change its name to Golden Nugget Online Gaming, Inc. with “GNOG” as its Nasdaq trading symbol.

Fertitta will remain as the chairman and CEO of GNOG. He will hold a controlling economic interest and a controlling voting interest in the merged company. Meanwhile, Thomas Winter, who was hired to develop Golden Nugget’s online gaming business, will continue to serve as the company’s president.

Second Publicly Traded Online Casino

Golden Nugget Online Gaming is affiliated with Golden Nugget/Landry’s hospitality, gaming, and restaurant business owned and operated by Fertitta. It started operations in 2013 and has seen a 50% CAGR revenue growth since 2014. GNOG will become only the second pure publicly traded online casino in the United States

GNOG’s merger with Lancadia II was first announced in June 2020. Once completed, the merged company will have an anticipated pro forma enterprise value of $645M. That amount is six times the projected $122M 2021 projected revenue of GNOG. Lancadia will assume $150M of GNOG debs while paying down at closing and additional $150M of its own debt, plus pay prepayment fees, transaction fees, and expenses.

Strong Presence in New Jersey

Golden Nugget reported an online gaming revenue of over $28M in New Jersey, easily the biggest for New Jersey online gaming operators. From January to October 2020, Golden Nugget had a total online gaming revenue of $263M according to the monthly state reports.

GNOG will enter the Pennsylvania and Michigan markets once their applications in those states are approved. It plans to enter both markets in early 2021. Last week, GNOG also entered into an agreement with the Danville Development LLC for access to the Illinois market for online gaming and sports betting once these are legalized. The Danville casino will also be branded as Golden Nugget.

Island View Casino Parent Company Sues Insurer Over COVID-19 Losses

Casino Floor In Michigan
Gulfside Casino Partnership, the owners of Island View Casino Resort in Mississippi, has filed a $10M federal lawsuit against its insurance company for COVID-19 losses. Gulfside Casino Partnership is also demanding $90M in punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and interest.

The Misissippi casino says that it has lost $46.M when it was forced to close from March 16 to May 21, 2020 per instruction of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. However, the policy only covers up to $10M.

The case alleges breach of contract and negligence against the Georgia-based Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance Co. which is affiliated with Chubbs. According to a report from the AP Westchester divided shares of the risk to nine other insurers.

Won’t Pay Unless There is Physical Damages

Gulfport lawyer Joe Sam Owen, who represents Chubbs, said that legal claims related to COVID-19 have boiled down to the definition of “physical damage”. As a general rule, insurance companies argue that properties must suffer actual physical damage to recover losses under their insurance policies.

But Gulfside Casino argues that its policy specifically covers the losses caused by its inability to accept bookings or cancelled bookings brought about by “a contagious or infectious disease at an insured location, and as determined by a public or civil authority”. Because its insurance policy had cancellation coverage, the Mississippi casino paid $408,268.00 per annum for the premium.

Not Covered

Last July, insurance consultant Crawford Global Technical Services was tasked to review the claim of the Mississippi casino. In a letter sent to Island View Casino, Crawford Global said that “As a general matter, the policies afford coverage only when there has been direct physical loss, damage or destruction. In the absence of such damage, there is not coverage.”

Crawford Global added that pollutants and contaminants such as virus are not covered. Likewise, communicable disease is not covered in other policy language. Last July, Circus Circus LV also filed a lawsuit against American International Group (AIG), joining a long list of companies in various industries pursuing litigation against its insurers.

Illinois Casinos Ordered To Shut Down Again Beginning Friday

Casino Chips and a Deck of Cards

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced in a news conference on Tuesday the complete shutdown of Illinois casinos. The decision comes in the wake of a surge in the COVID-19 virus cases during the past week.

Said Pritzker during the briefing:

“The simple fact is that COVID-19 is spreading quickly and widely. Our hospitals are beginning to experience real strain, and at the current infection rate they will be overwhelmed.”

Pritzker added that the effort would “pause a number of indoor activities where science shows us this virus can can easily spread.” He hopes that the measures will help bend the state’s current coronavirus curve without having to enforce a stay-at-home order for its constituents.

The shutdown follows the actions of Michigan after Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered the state’s three commercial casinos closed for three weeks beginning Tuesday to curb the spread of the pandemic. Unlike Michigan’s shutdown, Pritzker didn’t give a timetable as to when the Illinois casinos can reopen. Illinois was one of the first states to shut down its casinos at the height of the pandemic last March Illinois casinos were forced closed on March 15, 2020 and were allowed to reopen on July 1st.

Tier 3 Mitigations

Pritzker’s move puts the state into what he termed as Tier 3 mitigations beginning 12:01 am on Friday. Under the new shutdown, retail establishments are ordered to drop to 25% capacity while groceries and pharmacies are limited to 50% capacity. Gyms car stay open at 25% capacity if masks are worn at all times and locker rooms are closed.

On the other hand, museums, theaters, and Illinois casinos will be completely closed. Impacted by the order are Caesars Entertainment and Penn National Gaming who each have three casinos in the state, Rush Street Gaming and Boy Gaming who each have one Illinois casino, DraftKings which has licensed its name to Casino Queen, and Jumer’s which is in the process of beng sold to Bally’s Corp.

Rise in COVID-19 cases

State Health Officials reported 12,601 probable and new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. That was the 12th straight day where the state had more than 10,000 cases During the past week, Illinois has averaged 12,381 COVID-19 cases per day. Overall, the state has accumulated a total of 597,849 cases since the pandemic began.

97 deaths were also reported on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 10,875. Over the past week, Illinois has been averaging 84 deaths per day which is the highest weekly average since June 2nd. During the height of the pandemic, the average deaths per day in the state was 100 deaths per day.

Zouk Group Partners With Resorts World Las Vegas For $4.3B Project

Resorts World Las Vegas
The Zouk Group has forged a partnership with Resorts World Las Vegas to build an integrated resort which will bring Singapore’s homegrown brand to Sin City.

The $4.3B project is expected to open in the summer of 2021. According to the Singapore news outlet The Straits Times, the night club and entertainment space will occupy 100,000 square feet of the Resorts World Las Vegas. The venture aims to reinvent the traditional Las Vegas hospitality experience by showcasing Singapore’s famed approach to entertainment.

Said Andrew Li, Chief Executive officer of Zouk Group, in a statement:

“The partnership between Zouk Group and Resorts World Las Vegas will bring entertainment and lifestyle brands together on a property destined to breathe new life into the Las Vegas market. With over 29 years of experience in the nightlife industry, the Zouk brand is proud to make its debut at Resorts World Las Vegas, in a destination considered by many to be the entertainment capital of the world.”

Largest Development in Two Decades

The multi-concept complex will include a Zouk nightclub which is similar to the iconic one in Singapore, an AYU dayclub, an outdoor venue with a Southeast Asian tropical island theme, RedTail, FUHU Asian dining cuisine, and social gaming bars where guests can enjoy food and drinks while playing a variety of fun game like beer pong, darts, and pool.

Genting Berhad of Malaysia has been tasked to develop the project which is being labeled as the largest development in the city in almost two decades. This venture is the first such undertaking of the Zouk Group in the United States. More details about the project will be revealed in the coming months.

A Lifestyle and Entertainment Company

The Singapore based Zouk Group is a leading lifestyle and entertainment company. It owns establishments in the entertainment, food and beverage, and nightlife sectors. The business started as a single night club called the Zouk Club.The club fostered the growth of electronic dance music and influenced the music taste in the Lion City.

The Zouk Club was purchased in by the Genting Hong Kong group in 2015 a the prompting of Genting heir Lim Keong Hui. The young Lim grew the business into a diverse lifestyle group with 17 outlets that include night clubs, day lounges, restaurants, and burger bards. Last September, the son of Genting patriarch LKim Kok Thay purchased the Zouk Group for $10.1M.

Brin Gibson Appointed As Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman

Table with Poker Cards and Casino Chips, Welcome to Las Vegas Sign
Las Vegas attorney J. Brin Gibson has been named as chairman of the regulatory panel he once advised. Gibson was appointed as Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board on Tuesday by Gov. Steve Sisolak.

The appointment is effective on November 18th and will run through the remaining two years of outgoing chairman Sandra Douglass Morgan’s term. Morgan resigned last week to join the board of Fidelity National Finance, Inc. She was the first African-American and second woman to chair the more than 60-year old board.

Said Gov. Sisolak of the appointment:

“I am overjoyed to make this appointment. Brin is exactly the type of committed public servant needed in this important role during this critical time. Brin’s extensive background and expertise in highly regulated industries, including his experience as Chief of the Gaming Division, makes him a perfect fit for this position, and I look forward to watching him excel in this position.”

Extensive Background and Expertise

Gibson spent four years as the Chief of the Gaming Division and First Assistant Attorney General for the Nevada’s Attorney Genera’s Office. In this role, Gibson supervised all regulatory and administrative law action for the Office of the Attorney General and oversaw a 400 strong staff of lawyers and legal associates.

Most recently, Gibson served as thee general counsel of Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. Under that capacity, Gibson served as the Chief Legal Counsel regarding ethics, transactional, and legislative matters. He was also Chief Legal Counsel to Gov. Sisolak and all Executive Branch agency directors and cabinet members.

Top Gaming Regulator

As Chairman of the Board of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Gibson is considered as the state’s top gaming regulator. The job has an annual salary of $158,879 and the three-man Board is responsible for making recommendations on licensing and other gaming polices to the Nevada Gaming Commission.

The Commission and Board govern the Nevada gaming industry through strict regulation and other related activity. Their mission is to protect the integrity and stability of the industry through investigative and licensing practices. They enforce laws and regulations while holding the gaming licensees to a high standard. Through these practices, both regulatory  ensure the collection of taxes and fees that are essential sources of income for the state.