North Carolina Sports Betting Bill Advances After Senate Vote

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The North Carolina senate voted 26-19 on Thursday to pass a legislation that would allow legal mobile sports betting and sports betting shops located at or near major spots venues.

Senate Bill 688 now advances to the North Carolina House of Representatives for action. A companion been has been stuck in the House for months but the bill’s proponents hope that the Senate’s vote will push their counterparts in the House of Representatives to help push it forward.

If the bill passes out of the Republican party controlled General Assembly, it would still have to go through the office of Gov. Roy Cooper for his signature before it becomes a law.

North Carolina Sports Betting Will Have One of the Lowest Tax Rates in the Country

If the bill is signed to a law, it will permit 10 to 12 online spots betting operators in the state. Owners of the state’s major sports venues like the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, and Carolina Hurricanes will also be allowed to open a retail sportsbook at their venues. The host of the PGA Tour can also establish its own brick and mortar shop.

The initial licensing fees for mobile operators would be $500,000 with a renewal fee of $100,000 every five years. Gross gaming revenue would be taxed at 8%, which is one of the lowest tax rates in the country. Because of the low tax rates, competition for the limited licenses is expected to be stiff.

Only eligible bettor aged 21 or over are allowed to register make deposits, and place bets from anywhere within the state’s borders. In-person registration is not required and bettors can place bets on in-state college programs and eSports events as approved by the regulators.

Tribal Online Sports Betting License Will Not Count Against the Total

The North American Tribes in the state could also apply for a mobile gaming license since their current compact with the state only permits in-person wagering.

Currently, legal North Carolina sports betting only takes place at its two casinos, the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Cherokee Valley River via retail sportsbooks operated by Caesars Entertainment. A third casino, which is owned by the Catawba Nation and is still under construction, is also expected to offer legal sports betting when it commences operations.

If the Cherokees and the Catawba both apply for a mobile sports betting license, which is expected, and get approved, their licenses will not count against the sports betting bill’s 10-12 limit.

Here’s What We Know About Harrah’s New Orleans Vaccine Rule

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Casinos around the United States remain between a rock and a hard place. These properties are working hard to boost revenue while still remaining as safe as possible for patrons and employees. Today, we’ll talk about Harrah’s New Orleans vaccine rule recently set in place.

Harrah’s is taking a major risk with this new rule. Some feel it could end up backfiring for one of the most popular gambling venues in Louisiana.

Let’s take a look at what is happening here.

Casino Companies Face More Pressure to Increase Restrictions

The past eight months have been good ones for most casino operators in the country. As Covid-19 infection rates dropped, tourism to major gambling hubs began to increase. Many of the smaller casino destinations around the US have experienced a major boost in their visitation rates, as well.

In recent weeks, a rise in infection rates has once again led to fears for these casino companies. States are beginning to order new rules for various businesses. In some states, casinos are already being ordered to implement new restrictions.

Las Vegas was one of the first major casino destinations to reopen after the shutdowns in 2020. Of course, the casinos here looked considerably different than they did prior to shutting down. Plexiglass barriers separated players at the tables. Slot machines were spread apart. Masks were required at all times for patrons and employees.

Most of these restrictions were removed months ago. Recently, however, Nevada once again ordered that masks be worn by everyone while on the casino floor. Some fear this could ultimately lead to a dip in tourism.

Casinos in Nevada once again managed to bring in more than $1 billion in revenue over the month of June. Revenue reports for July will soon be released. Many are curious to see whether or not the mask rule has any impact.

Las Vegas is far from the only city looking more into casino restrictions. We’re now beginning to hear one major new rule set in place at the popular Harrah’s New Orleans casino.

Will Harrah’s New Orleans Vaccine Rule Backfire?

New Orleans is home to many popular gambling venues. These properties have been posting solid revenue numbers over the last few months. The recent spike in Covid-19 cases now appears to be concerning many of the casino operators in this city.

Harrah’s New Orleans opened its doors to the public in 1999. It has grown to become one of the best and most popular casinos in the city. News broke over the weekend that this casino was becoming the first in the United States to require either proof of vaccine or a negative Covid-19 test to enter.

Harrah’s New Orleans vaccine rule was likely set in place by Mayor Cantrell’s announcement that a vaccine or a negative PCR test would be required for most indoor activities. That includes anything the state decides is a “high transmission risk.” It could end up having a negative impact on the casino’s revenue.

Many individuals throughout Louisiana and neighboring states have yet to receive a Covid-19 vaccine. A significant number of these individuals will likely be unwilling to get a PCR test in order to play inside a casino.

It’s unclear if other casinos in Louisiana will be forced to order these measures. As of now, only Harrah’s is choosing to order these entry requirements. That could change over the next few weeks and months if cases continue to increase.

New reports indicate some of the casinos in Las Vegas could soon order mandatory vaccine or PCR tests to enter. Here’s a quick look at when and where these rules could be set in place.

Is a Vaccine Mandate Coming to Las Vegas Casinos Anytime Soon?

The world remains in uncharted waters with regard to the current pandemic. That is particularly true with the rise of new, more transmissible variants circulating. The Delta variant has been steadily causing more infections in the United States, leading to more health restrictions set in place in many states.

Harrah’s New Orleans vaccine rule may become more common in many other casinos around the country. That includes some of the ones in Las Vegas. There is reason to suspect that some type of entry requirement could make its way to Sin City casinos in the future.

Several venues in Las Vegas already require either proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test. That includes AEG’s properties, the Smith Center, and Life is Beautiful. It’s becoming a common theme and one that could take a serious toll on the tourism industry here.

Don’t expect to see a full vaccine mandate coming to all of the casinos in Las Vegas. If anything, only certain properties will choose to take this step.

For now, there is reason to be optimistic. US casino revenue remains at its highest level in history. Based on the current trend, 2021 will be the most successful year in history for the country’s gambling industry.

What do you think of Harrah’s New Orleans vaccine rule? Will this hurt its revenue numbers moving forward? Let us know in the comments section below!

Cherokee Tribal Council Approves $275M Expansion of Valley River Casino

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The Cherokee Tribal Council recently approved a master plan for a major expansion at the Valley River Casino in Murphy.

The approved master plan represents an investment of more than double the $110M spent to create the initial facility in 2015. The Valley River Casino opened with a gaming area of 50,000 square feet, 1,050 slot machines, 70 table games, and a food court type dining area. In 2018, 41,000 square feet of of entertainment area was added in a $13M renovation. To keep it edge over the competition, a large-scale expansion was needed.

Said Harrah’s Regional Vice President for Marketing Brian Saunooke:

“We’re thrilled with Tribal Council’s support of the resolution and are optimistic that Chief Sneed will ratify the resolution.”

A $275M Project Cost

According to the resolution, the Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise will appoint JCJ Architecture to conceptualize and develop the project design while also providing for the cost estimate. For the project, the TCGE will obtain a loan not to exceed the amount of $275M.

The resolution did not name the projects in the master plan and the latter was not made public. However, key features in the expansion include an additional hotel tower, a new dining venue, a hotel lobby cafe, a spa, and indoor pool, additional gaming space, and additional parking.

North Carolina’s First Sports Betting Venues

Last March, the Cherokees partnered with Caesars Entertainment and William Hill U.S. to open the state’s first sports betting venues just in time for the NCAA’s March Madness. Dubbed as The Book, the sportsbooks opened at the Valley River Casino and at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee.

The sportsbook at the Valley River Casino has a 32-foot ultra-high definition screen and comfortable reclining chairs. It boasts of a total of gour ticket-writer windows and five self-service betting kiosks.

Expanded Sports Betting Bill Filed in North Carolina

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North Carolina just launched sports betting in the state. Now Senators want to expand the bill, allowing online sports betting to take place in the Tar Heel state.

Last week, Senators Paul Lowe Jr., a Democrat from Winston Salem and Republican Jim Perry of Kinston filed Senate Bill 688 which would legalize online and mobile sports betting in the state.

Senate Bill 688

Senate Bill 688 would allow the North Carolina State Lottery Commission to issue gaming licenses to at least 10 online gaming operators but not to exceed 12. These licenses would allow the operators to accept online bets on both professional and collegiate sports, esports, and amateur sports such as the Olympic games.

Application for license would cost $500,000 although the amount would be refunded if the applicant is not approved. The permit would be valid for five years after which, the operator will be required to pay another $100,000 for the next five years. Operators will be required to remit 8% of adjusted gross revenues as state tax.

Although the bill is focused on North Carolina online sports betting, it also allows owners of sports facilities that hold professional events and can accommodate at least 17,000 spectators to have computer betting facilities either inside the sports venue or anywhere within a quarter-mile of the facility.

First NC Sportsbook Opened in March

North Carolina passed in 2019 a legislation that allowed the state’s Native American tribes to open casinos in their jurisdiction. That resulted in the Cherokee Band of Indians to partnering with William Hill to put up retail sportsbook locations in their two Harrah’s themed casinos in the state. These sportsbook opened last month as the first in the state.

The ongoing Kings Mountain Resort project of the Catawba Indian Nation will also be allowed to establish their own retail sportsbook once the casino commences its operations.

Under Senate Bill 688, these tribal casinos are also permitted to join North Carolina Sports betting activities, without counting as one of the 10-12 online sports betting operators allowed under the legislation.

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.”

 

Amador County Harrah’s Casino Officially Opens Its Doors

The Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians officially opened doors to visitors and celebrated it with a grand opening ceremony. This Harrah’s Northern California casino is located in Amador County, and it is a project worth $168 million. The venue also had its soft opening on April 29, 2019, when hundreds of casino lovers rushed in to see what this brand new casino has to offer, creating severe traffic congestions. This 71,000 sq ft venue once again attracted hundreds of visitors for the grand opening.

The celebration took place at the property which is located approximately 32 miles southeast of Sacramento. It is located just south of Ione in the foothills of Amador County. The casino welcomed guests from all over the region, especially because it is the only casino that partnered up with Caesars Entertainment and Buena Vista Rancheria Me-Wuk, thus being a casino affiliated with Caesars Rewards. In fact, it is the only such casino nearby.

The party that happened during the opening incorporated many entertaining things, such as drones creating a light show which was specifically designed for this occasion, and with the Caesars-operated venue in mind. It was followed by a 3D projection which mapped the casino exterior and there was even magnificent pyrotechnics.

Apart from outstanding visual experience, there were a lot of other interesting things to do and see during the grand opening, such as the round-the-clock promotions and giveaways that started on May 17. It was an extension of a sort, and it continued the party that had started during the soft opening of the casino some three weeks before the grand opening.

The Buena Vista Rancheria Chairwoman, Rhonda Pope-Flores, stated that the weekend behind them had not only been a celebration of the casino opening, but also a sort of a way to say ‘thank you’ to the local community and all the guests that had been very supportive of the casino development process. The long history of hospitality is in the veins of the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians, and the previous weekend was just a taste of what is about to come. In other words, Pope-Flores stated that the grand opening ceremony was just the start of many celebrations that are planned in order to bring casino lovers together.

When it comes to the casino itself, it features a total of 950 slots and 20 table games. Furthermore, there are three dining options for fast-casual dining, as well as a traditional dining venue called Louie Oliver’s Restaurant & Bar. The casino officials also have big plans for the future, and one of the most significant at the moment is adding a hotel for all visitors who want to stay overnight.

Being 17 miles from the main competitor, Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort, the new location is likely to become the largest employer in Amador County. It is operated by a federally-recognized tribe of Jackson Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians, as well as the Mule Creek State Prison.

Apart from offering more than 500 jobs (400 of which are full-time positions), the casino will also offer various other benefits for the local community. In fact, Harrah’s already made a community contribution of $20 million, even before the casino was opened. It is estimated that the venue would pay approximately $8 million in ongoing contributions per year. Furthermore, $1 million would be awarded to the County Community Fund for various projects that will take place in the county. In other words, apart from jobs and entertainment, the casino will be included in the community and make significant ongoing contributions.