Rivers Casino to Open First Illinois Sportsbook in Time for March Madness

Sports Betting CartoonJust in time for March Madness, one of sports betting’s hottest times of the year, Illinois just received approval on Friday to open up the first sportsbook in the state.

The BetRivers sportsbook at Rivers Casino will be open and ready to take bets beginning at noon on Monday. Eddie Olcyzk, former Chicago Blackhawks star, was given the honors to place the very first bet.

The Illinois Gaming Board finally granted the 4,840-square-foot BetRivers Sportsbook approval to start taking bets on March 9.

The casino, who is owned by Kentucky-based gambling giant Churchill Downs and Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming, said it plans to launch its official BetRivers.com website and mobile app later this year.

6 Illinois Casinos Applied for Sports Betting Status

Rivers was just one of six Illinois casinos in the state who submitted applications for sports wagering licenses.

In December, the gaming board opened up the application process, with applicants hoping to gain approval in time for March Madness.

Hollywood Casinos, which has locations in Joliet, Aurora, and Argon Casino Alton, located near St. Louis, will be releasing information on the status of their sportsbook rollouts in the “coming days.”

Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin hasn’t responded to a request for comment yet. Par-A-Dice Hotel and Casino in East Peoria is further back in the application process than the rest of the casinos.

The Illinois Sports Wagering Act

The Illinois Sports Wagering Act grants the state’s 10 casinos, three horse tracks, and the seven largest sports venues in the state (they must offer 17,000-plus seating capacity) the allowance to operate a sports gaming license.

Within 18 months of the first on-site license launching, three additional, online-only, licenses will be issued. This delayed allowance on mobile sports betting is referred to as the “penalty box” provision in the press.

Sports Betting Licensee Fees

When applying for initial sports wagering licenses, fees must be collected. Take a look at the differing fees among Illinois’ casinos:

  • Alton Argosy: $1,948,186
  • Aurora Hollywood: $5,731,926
  • Des Plaines Rivers: $10,000,000
  • Elgin Grand Victoria: $7,801,967
  • Joliet Harrah’s: $8,581,742
  • Joliet Hollywood: $5,779,948
  • Metropolis Harrah’s: $3,420,849
  • Peoria Par-a-Dice: $3,641,064
  • Rock Island: $3,315,761
  • Louis Casino Queen: $4,975,750

As the chart shows, Des Plaines Rivers casino had to pay out the highest fee for licensing, while Alton Argosy had the lowest application fee.

March Madness Sports Betting Stats

March Madness is a prime betting season for sports bettors. According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), an estimated 47 million Americans planned to wager $8.5 million on the NCAA Tournament in 2019.

With sports wagering becoming more legalized throughout the country, that number is only expected to go up, and this year, Illinois will get a chance to add to the stats.

Take a look at the staggering March Madness statistics found by the AGA:

  • 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.
  • 4 million will bet with an illegal bookie.
  • 2 million will bet on an illegal offshore website.
  • 1 million will wager through a regulated retail or online sportsbook.

About BetRivers Sportsbook at Rivers Casino

From their official website:

BetRivers features a LED High Definition Wall and premium stadium seating sure to make you feel like you’re at the game. Monitors line the room and surround the 26-seat bar outfitted with tabletop video poker. 

BetRivers Sportsbook is currently accepting applications for Sportsbook writers and ambassadors.

Legal Sports Betting in Washington is Almost Here!

Washington may be the second state on the West Coast to officially legalize sports betting. Many politicians and sports fans want to see this form of gambling finally allowed here. Today, we’re going to talk about how this push to have legal sports betting in Washington came about.Sports Betting Picture

Many states around the country are now legalizing sports gambling. It’s proving to be an extremely lucrative industry. Lawmakers in Washington seem to recognize this fact.

Here’s what’s happening!

Washington’s Set of Gambling Laws, Explained

It might come as somewhat of a surprise to some, but Washington is home to a huge number of legal gambling options. This state is somewhat of a gambling hub for the Pacific Northwest. Most traditional forms of gambling are perfectly legal here.

This wasn’t always the case, though. For many years, Washington held a largely anti-gambling stance. In fact, some of the early leaders of this state set a blanket ban on gambling that lasted for decades.

In the 1980s, things began to change. Lawmakers here realized it was time to open a state lottery. About ten years later, the state approved plans to allow Native American tribes to operate casinos on sovereign land.

There are now a huge number of casinos in Washington that residents and tourists can access. Unfortunately, this state is against online casino gambling. A law was passed here in 2006 that seemed to criminalize playing casino games over the internet.

Some feel this law only makes it illegal to play casino games through sites based within the state. Others feel it’s a blanket ban on internet gambling.

Lawmakers are once again starting to embrace change. New reports indicate that legal sports betting in Washington may be just around the corner.

The Road to Legal Sports Betting in Washington is Almost Complete

The US Supreme Court decided to strike down PASPA in May of 2018. It was a monumental decision that immediately allowed every state in the country to set their own laws on sports betting. Today, more than 20 states have passed bills to legalize this industry.

It now looks like Washington is next. Two sports betting bills were presented here in February of 2019. This week, one of the bills to allow legal sports betting in Washington advanced to a final House vote.

This bill, called HB 2638, only allows for sports betting to take place inside tribal casinos. A House Appropriations Committee voted 25-7 to approve these new measures. The decision will now head to the House, and then the Senate for final approval.

Strom Peterson, a sponsor of this new bill, commented on the news to the media this week.

“I’m hoping to get this moving over to the Senate on a relatively fast timeline,” he said. “We’ll see if that happens, but with a very bi-partisan vote that we just had this evening, I think that helps.”

That’s certainly true. Both democrats and republicans are getting on board with the idea of legal sports betting. Most agree it will help to bring the state millions in additional revenue each year.

Will this state’s sports betting market be able to compete with Oregon’s?

Oregon’s Sports Betting Market is Set to Expand

Oregon was quick to jump on the sports betting train. Lawmakers here approved a bill to legalize this form of gambling in 2019 after months of careful consideration. Here, both land-based and online sports wagering is allowed.

Not long after approving this law, state officials began looking to expand the market. Soon, several new tribal casinos in the state will be allowed to offer sports betting odds. Several betting kiosks will also soon begin offering sports gambling options at different bars and retailers.

This isn’t going to make things easy for Washington’s sports betting market. The option to place wagers on different sporting events is welcomed here, yet the inability to make bets online is confusing.

Things are clearly going well for Oregon, though. Lawmakers in this state seem pleased with the revenue flowing in.

Legal sports betting in Washington may become available within the next few months. Hopefully, California completes the West Coast sports betting legalization this year, as well.

Stay tuned for more updates over the next few months!

Half the US Population May Soon Have Legal Sports Betting Options

For nearly two years, the US has begun to embrace the sports gambling industry. A huge number of states now allow sports betting and many more have plans to legalize this form of gambling over the next few years. New reports indicate half the US population may soon have legal sports betting options.Map Of The US

It’s great news for sports fans in the country. The US is finally catching up to Europe, where sports betting is hugely popular for decades. Now is the perfect time to look at how this industry has evolved and what to expect in the future.

Let’s get into it!

The Removal Of PASPA Changed the US Gambling Industry

The United States has always been a passionate sports country. Unfortunately, sports gambling was banned here for many years. Lawmakers here approved PASPA in 1992, essentially killing the sports betting industry. This set of laws made it illegal for any state besides Nevada to offer sports betting odds.

For Nevada, this was actually a good thing. A huge number of tourists would flock to different Las Vegas casinos just to enjoy the legal sports betting options available. The city earned millions in sports gambling revenue every month.

In May of 2018, things took a massive turn. After years of lobbying from New Jersey, the Supreme Court finally decided to overturn PASPA. Immediately afterward, every state in the country had the ability to set its own laws on sports betting.

Many states began instantly crafting legislation to legalize this industry. New Jersey almost immediately allowed casinos in Atlantic City to offer sports betting odds. Today, more than 20 states now have legal sports betting options available.

It’s clear that sports betting is becoming the norm in the US. Lawmakers here recognize how much revenue can be earned from the industry. A new report detailed just how popular this form of gambling may soon become in the near future.

Bank of America Reports on the Growth of Legal Sports Betting Options

As we just mentioned, nearly half of the states in the country now have legal sports betting options available. That doesn’t mean that half the population can place bets legally in their home state, though. Some of the biggest states in the country such as California and Texas have yet to approve any sports gambling legislation.

According to a new report, though, this could soon change. Bank of American claims that more than 50% of Americans will soon have sports gambling options available in their home state by 2022. The bank also states that revenue from this industry will reach $20 billion in the same time period.

“We think the success, adoption and technology behind online and mobile sports could be a catalyst for wider iGaming penetration, a notable shift for an industry that has thus far not been widely impacted by the Internet,” said Shaun Kelley, a research analyst at Bank of America. 

Unsurprisingly, a huge number of companies are now investing heavily in the sports betting industry. Barstool Sports is set to open a sports betting platform. The company was recently valued at $450 million after securing a new deal with Penn National Gaming.

The sports betting industry is soaring right now. Even some of the biggest sports leagues in the country are getting on board. Here are some of the states that are poised to legalize this industry soon.

More States Gear Up to Legalize Sports Betting

When PASPA was first struck down, there was a debate as to how successful sports gambling would be in the United States. Some felt that it would never reach the same level of popularity as casino gambling. This is not the case.

It’s turned into one of the fastest-growing industries of all time. The amount of revenue that’s being generated is astounding. As a result, more and more states continue to push to allow legal sports betting options.

Analysts are following California’s road to sports betting legalization. This state is home to nearly 40 million people. If sports betting is legalized here, the amount of revenue that the state would earn is immense.

Several major states have already presented sports betting legislation. Many of these bills are likely to be approved over the next couple of months.

It’s a great time to be a betting fan in the US. Make sure to stay tuned for more US sports gambling news over the next few months!

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.”

 

 

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.