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Las Vegas’ Innovative Drive-thru Sportsbooks Let Bettors Sign Up And Deposit

Las Vegas drive-throughs have long been embodied by a burger the East Coasters lust over or weddings for lusty couples.

Now they’re a means for Nevada sportsbooks like Circa Sports, South Point and William Hill to infuse business into retail shops darkened by casino shutdowns forced by the COVID-19 pandemic and hindered by archaic regulations.

And maybe, Circa Sports Operations Manager Jeff Benson hopes, the ‘valet’ service sprouting in Las Vegas will provide an impetus for the United States’ former lone bastion of legal sports betting to modernize — two years after the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act enabled the enterprise nationally.

While states such as Colorado, where Circa will soon launch its first extra-Nevada operation, Indiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, allow for online registration, Nevada requires it be conducted in-person at retail sportsbooks. With those shops shuttered, curbside service was born at a small collection of sportsbooks last week. Benson would like to see them become an obsolete innovation with Nevada joining the full digital domain.

“Given the technological advances of the modern-day times we’re living in, it certainly, makes sense that we go that route,” Benson told PlayUSA. “And I think, obviously the coronavirus situation has certainly maybe accelerated that, given the fact that there’s regulations and social distancing guidelines and all that kind of stuff in terms of being around other people and being in casinos.

“So, I think that will certainly spearhead some of these legislators or operating groups working together to come to an agreement of some sort similar to what has taken place, in New Jersey or Colorado, given how successful they have been with it. I can’t imagine that that would be something put in place by the end of the year, but here in the next couple of years, I think it really forces the gaming control board to take a hard look at it and see if there’s any improvements they can make on the process, given how well it’s gone in other jurisdictions.”

Thank you, please pull forward …

Business has been encouraging at Circa, Benson said, with 120 registrations and “well over six figures in deposits” in the first three days of implementation preceding the UFC 249 card last weekend. Circa opened its curbside service on May 7.

A William Hill spokesperson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal business was “steady at all five locations” preceding the bout, also, and the company is considering expanding service in the future, according to a spokesperson.

Lines were longer and slower at South Point, according to anecdotal reports on social media.

“We’ve done similar things in the sense that we’ve done special events or valet locations for Super Bowl betting stations, things like that,” Benson said. “So in that sort of sense, it gave us a little bit of a blueprint. For us, we just tried to focus on the speed and efficiency of the operation, making sure we had enough people, just making sure we were organized, and doing things that cut down the wait time for our guests.”

Benson estimated customers have usually been accommodated within 10 minutes, constituting a “big win for us in terms of maybe some of the logistical challenges given that the casino’s not open and we don’t currently don’t have a cage.”

And therefore, no cash. Amid an odd scene of facemasks and gloves and drive-through betting, an unexpected snag came in the form of making change.

“So if somebody did come up and they wanted to deposit $340, for example, and they only had $400, we didn’t have the ability to obviously make $60 worth of change,” Benson explained. “So, for us, it was quickly something where we were telling people, ‘exact deposits only’, things of that nature.”

And then there was the matter of older uncashed tickets.

“We provided that flexibility just by depositing that entire amount into their account or making them an account and then obviously deposit the entirety of those winnings or refunds from those physical tickets into the account,” Benson said, “given that we weren’t able for security and compliance reasons, able to take cash from the casino to the curb.”

What can patrons do at a curbside Las Vegas sportsbook?

Customers have three services available at Circa’s curbside:

  • Registration and funding.
  • Funding of existing accounts.
  • Registration for other events such as its Circa Sports Million II or Circa Survivor contests.

(Services are similar at the William Hill and South Point).

“That has certainly been very, very helpful,” Benson said. “The reason that we’re doing the drive-through functionality is two-fold. First is because it allows new users to sign up and deposit, whereas with this remote fund funding, people who have never signed up for our app don’t have that luxury.

“And then the other thing is, Play+ functionality does come, in terms of the deposits, with a 3% service fee that is passed along to the consumer. And if you’re doing it, obviously curbside, there is no fee because it’s basically similar to if you were coming into the casino and depositing at the counter.

According to press releases, Circa’s curb will be open for business from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST daily. South Point’s location will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST. William Hill opened five locations for limited service preceding UFC 249.

“Ahead of the largest sporting events of the month, we wanted a safe way to meet the current demand from our customers,” CEO Joe Asher said in a press release.

William Hill offered a $65 bonus for bets for new and existing mobile customers.

How this Las Vegas sportsbook project came together

Benson said his company’s valet service at Golden Gate Hotel & Casino on Fremont Street was enacted quickly from its germ as an idea he discussed with sportsbook director Matt Melcalf. They saw it formalized in three days by a compliance team and pitched to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Circa has kept its risk room and mobile app operating during the shutdown mandated by Gov. Steve Sisolak while numerous others have gone dormant in the state. Circa’s launched was enabled by a new online payment system it brought online last month.

Bet MGM, Caesars, Circa and William Hill are the online sportsbooks currently operating.

“I kind of touched on the idea of doing curbside services once. A lot of these other restaurants started to do it, and I’ve seen how successful they were with it,” Benson said. “Then, obviously, there were a couple of other places, William Hill and South Point, who did curbside services as well.

“So, for us, it was just a combination of our management team coming up with this idea and giving our patrons another funding mechanism – especially new patrons given that there’s no remote registration here in Nevada. … It’s just something that given some of the antiquated sports betting laws here in the state and that remote registration isn’t possible.”

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Gambling News

Las Vegas’ Innovative Drive-thru Sportsbooks Let Bettors Sign Up And Deposit

Las Vegas drive-throughs have long been embodied by a burger the East Coasters lust over or weddings for lusty couples.

Now they’re a means for Nevada sportsbooks like Circa Sports, South Point and William Hill to infuse business into retail shops darkened by casino shutdowns forced by the COVID-19 pandemic and hindered by archaic regulations.

And maybe, Circa Sports Operations Manager Jeff Benson hopes, the ‘valet’ service sprouting in Las Vegas will provide an impetus for the United States’ former lone bastion of legal sports betting to modernize — two years after the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act enabled the enterprise nationally.

While states such as Colorado, where Circa will soon launch its first extra-Nevada operation, Indiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, allow for online registration, Nevada requires it be conducted in-person at retail sportsbooks. With those shops shuttered, curbside service was born at a small collection of sportsbooks last week. Benson would like to see them become an obsolete innovation with Nevada joining the full digital domain.

“Given the technological advances of the modern-day times we’re living in, it certainly, makes sense that we go that route,” Benson told PlayUSA. “And I think, obviously the coronavirus situation has certainly maybe accelerated that, given the fact that there’s regulations and social distancing guidelines and all that kind of stuff in terms of being around other people and being in casinos.

“So, I think that will certainly spearhead some of these legislators or operating groups working together to come to an agreement of some sort similar to what has taken place, in New Jersey or Colorado, given how successful they have been with it. I can’t imagine that that would be something put in place by the end of the year, but here in the next couple of years, I think it really forces the gaming control board to take a hard look at it and see if there’s any improvements they can make on the process, given how well it’s gone in other jurisdictions.”

Thank you, please pull forward …

Business has been encouraging at Circa, Benson said, with 120 registrations and “well over six figures in deposits” in the first three days of implementation preceding the UFC 249 card last weekend. Circa opened its curbside service on May 7.

A William Hill spokesperson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal business was “steady at all five locations” preceding the bout, also, and the company is considering expanding service in the future, according to a spokesperson.

Lines were longer and slower at South Point, according to anecdotal reports on social media.

“We’ve done similar things in the sense that we’ve done special events or valet locations for Super Bowl betting stations, things like that,” Benson said. “So in that sort of sense, it gave us a little bit of a blueprint. For us, we just tried to focus on the speed and efficiency of the operation, making sure we had enough people, just making sure we were organized, and doing things that cut down the wait time for our guests.”

Benson estimated customers have usually been accommodated within 10 minutes, constituting a “big win for us in terms of maybe some of the logistical challenges given that the casino’s not open and we don’t currently don’t have a cage.”

And therefore, no cash. Amid an odd scene of facemasks and gloves and drive-through betting, an unexpected snag came in the form of making change.

“So if somebody did come up and they wanted to deposit $340, for example, and they only had $400, we didn’t have the ability to obviously make $60 worth of change,” Benson explained. “So, for us, it was quickly something where we were telling people, ‘exact deposits only’, things of that nature.”

And then there was the matter of older uncashed tickets.

“We provided that flexibility just by depositing that entire amount into their account or making them an account and then obviously deposit the entirety of those winnings or refunds from those physical tickets into the account,” Benson said, “given that we weren’t able for security and compliance reasons, able to take cash from the casino to the curb.”

What can patrons do at a curbside Las Vegas sportsbook?

Customers have three services available at Circa’s curbside:

  • Registration and funding.
  • Funding of existing accounts.
  • Registration for other events such as its Circa Sports Million II or Circa Survivor contests.

(Services are similar at the William Hill and South Point).

“That has certainly been very, very helpful,” Benson said. “The reason that we’re doing the drive-through functionality is two-fold. First is because it allows new users to sign up and deposit, whereas with this remote fund funding, people who have never signed up for our app don’t have that luxury.

“And then the other thing is, Play+ functionality does come, in terms of the deposits, with a 3% service fee that is passed along to the consumer. And if you’re doing it, obviously curbside, there is no fee because it’s basically similar to if you were coming into the casino and depositing at the counter.

According to press releases, Circa’s curb will be open for business from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST daily. South Point’s location will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST. William Hill opened five locations for limited service preceding UFC 249.

“Ahead of the largest sporting events of the month, we wanted a safe way to meet the current demand from our customers,” CEO Joe Asher said in a press release.

William Hill offered a $65 bonus for bets for new and existing mobile customers.

How this Las Vegas sportsbook project came together

Benson said his company’s valet service at Golden Gate Hotel & Casino on Fremont Street was enacted quickly from its germ as an idea he discussed with sportsbook director Matt Melcalf. They saw it formalized in three days by a compliance team and pitched to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Circa has kept its risk room and mobile app operating during the shutdown mandated by Gov. Steve Sisolak while numerous others have gone dormant in the state. Circa’s launched was enabled by a new online payment system it brought online last month.

Bet MGM, Caesars, Circa and William Hill are the online sportsbooks currently operating.

“I kind of touched on the idea of doing curbside services once. A lot of these other restaurants started to do it, and I’ve seen how successful they were with it,” Benson said. “Then, obviously, there were a couple of other places, William Hill and South Point, who did curbside services as well.

“So, for us, it was just a combination of our management team coming up with this idea and giving our patrons another funding mechanism – especially new patrons given that there’s no remote registration here in Nevada. … It’s just something that given some of the antiquated sports betting laws here in the state and that remote registration isn’t possible.”

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Gambling News

A Look Back On How US Sports Betting Became Legal, Two Years Later

Editor’s note: The federal ban on sports betting in the United States was struck down on May 14, 2018. This is a look back at how that day arrived in the US from a member of the sports betting industry.

Over the lifetime of the American republic, the Supreme Court of the United States, the court of last resort, has issued landmark rulings that have altered the course of US history.

The court makes fewer than 100 decisions every year that have sweeping effects on American life. Over generations, the court’s decisions have changed race relations for the better, empowered women, given the press freedom to operate, guaranteed a person’s right to expression, or reiterated that the president is not above the law.

So on a bright December morning in 2017, as I trotted up the steps of the Supreme Court, I couldn’t help but cast a wry smile as a herd of people I’d got to know over the previous three years joined me in line.

Sports betting gets its day in court

As we waited patiently to hear the verdict that was to change the sports and betting industries forever a familiar member of sports betting panelists anonymous called out to me “Hey Chris, where’s your tie…this is the Supreme Court of the United States of America you know…show some respect.”

His words of encouragement epitomized the welcome that I had received from fellow “industry stakeholders” when I started work at Betgenius back in late summer 2014. Back then, he agreed to meet me at his lavish law office on K Street and, as I sipped my bottled water, he chided “Why are you here? You guys must be seriously deluded if you think sports betting will be made legal here in the US. You ever heard of Sheldon Adelson?”

As I left the building, I recalled how Churchill once said that lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for.

As the gates opened, we filed past the Corinthian columns through the Great Hall before taking a seat at the back of the courtroom. I remember looking around and seeing faces that had become familiar to me drawn from the sports leagues, the casinos, daily
fantasy sports, the American Gaming Association, New Jersey regulators, DC insiders as NCAA vs. Christie was about to play out the final act in front the nine Supreme Court justices.

The sports betting case: against the odds

For most of us, the stage had been set back in October 2017, when seemingly out of nowhere and against the Solicitor General’s recommendations, SCOTUS had granted New Jersey’s petition to hear the case – an act rarely taken by the Supreme Court.

The crux of the petition hinged upon whether the now 1992 federal law called the Professional and Amatuer Sports Protection Act (PASPA) — which had effectively outlawed sports betting in the US outside of Nevada — was unconstitutional.

So after a select number of attorneys were sworn into the Supreme Court Bar, the state of New Jersey’s attorney, Ted Olson, eventually stepped up to the plate to argue that PASPA violated the Tenth Amendment of the US Constitution, which reserves to the states all rights not explicitly granted to the federal government such as gambling regulation.

Not being member of the legal profession myself, I watched the body language of the justices and line of questioning for any
signs as to how the court my rule on this and reflected on three years of my working life that led up to this moment.

Living with a federal ban

Up until that point the US leagues held the view that it was unlikely that PASPA would ever be overturned, a move that would that could clear the way for legalized sports betting in the United States.

Those were heady days when the UK and European operators, armed with colorful presentations, welcomed these visiting ambassadors with open arms. I will never forget the buttoned-up league representatives jaws drop as they watched a bet placed on their sport from a phone in the pub.

That said, in private the UK operators still remained skeptical that the US would ever be open for business and that the AGA’s estimated $150 billion black market was fantastical. Oftentimes we would be a lone voice in the UK industry telling the operators that “there be gold in that them thar hills” in the hopes that cynicism, that is often a trademark British trait, might begin to lift.

The cynicism extended to my work colleagues in the London who frequently asked “what does that bloke do” whilst jabbing a finger in my direction before muttering “oh he’s getting sports betting legalized in the US.”

Ready for a change

Caution prevailed as the leagues went quietly about their business to minimize any unwanted scrutiny from the US sports media in the run-up to the hearing. The leagues immersed themselves in a crash course in sports betting and trans-Atlantic fact-finding missions to gain a better understanding how the lucrative relationship between the teams and leagues and the sports betting industry functioned.

Equally on the other side of the pond, there were concerns that US sports might been seen to be acting in a hypocritical manner given their historic public opposition to sports wagering.

This initial phase of irrational exuberance or “shuttle diplomacy” was not unlike how countries often seek to strengthen political ties by building up trade deals. In the run-up to the December 2017 oral arguments, both the leagues and the operators amicably discussed areas of mutual commercial interest (such as lucrative sponsorship deals) while both sides agreed upon the rigorous enforcement of sports integrity measures.

The ban falls

However, on May 14, 2018, everything changed. The Supreme Court struck down PASPA as unconstitutional and the value of companies behind sportsbooks, casinos and daily fantasy sports soared within seconds of the verdict being handed down. The largest sports betting market in the world was now open for business and the gold rush had begun.

Today, we live in a very different world and both sports and betting face a hard six months to get back on track.

The next round in the sports betting battle has only just begun, and as we reflect on a transformational two years, the stakes are now higher than ever.

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Gambling News

When Gambling Hot Spots Reopen Casinos, How Will Things Look Different?

It’s been a hellish two months for the land-based gaming industry following wide-spread casino closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Though online casinos seem to be picking up some of the slack, people are out of work, state and local economies are holding on by their fingertips, and people are left wondering when and if things will ever return to normal.

In states like Nevada, where the gambling and entertainment industry are pillars of economic security and held together by travel, the situation is a bit more complex. The numbers speak for themselves: 219 casinos closed and over 206,000 gaming workers jobless.

Other areas of the US, where the gambling industry also provides necessary capital needed to fund state budgets, are also searching for answers. Lawmakers, health officials, and gaming executives are scrambling to figure out how and when doors can reopen safely.

As consumers of entertainment, and those employed by it, we must trust that our questions will be answered. When will Vegas casino doors open? Will all casinos around the country have similar guidelines? These types of specifics are still being sorted out across the US but a picture is beginning to take shape as to when and how things might look.

When will Las Vegas casinos reopen?

Many properties including some on the Las Vegas strip are considering Memorial Day as a (very) tentative reopening date. MGM Resorts International said it plans to reopen in early June. However, nothing is set in stone, given the approval process.

First, each property must create a plan to ensure safety for customers and employees. Casinos must implement new guidelines adopted by the Nevada Gaming Commission into their plans, which among them include half the occupancy and frequent cleaning of surfaces and gaming devices.

Joe Bertolone, executive director of the UNLV International Center for Gaming Regulation, expect Las Vegas to open at a slower pace than other gaming markets.

“Clearly, the association with air travel in Las Vegas and other integrated resort markets like Singapore and Macau that have transportation as a key component to their gaming offerings, they are just going to open more slowly than other markets,” Bertolone said in an interview.

Caesars Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Tony Rodio echoed this statement during the companies quarterly earnings call.

“I think we’re all in agreement that we think regional markets are going to bounce back quicker because of the lack of needing to fly,” Rodio said. “When the governor in Las Vegas announced the move toward Phase 1 and the Raiders schedule came out, we actually had a pretty significant bump in reservations booked for the fourth quarter of this year.”

Right now there is no exact date or time when Las Vegas casinos will reopen.

Nevada operating and safety protocols

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) released both operating guidelines and health and safety policies that casino properties must follow prior to reopening. The policy memorandum specifically states a “plan must be submitted at least seven days before reopening occurs or as soon as reasonably possible thereafter.”

A few of the operational policies include:

  • A schedule for the replenishment of funds, including cash, chips, and tokens in all areas of casino accountability.
  • Licensees must take measures to pay receipts and wagers that may have expired during temporary closures.
  • Club venues will be allowed to reopen in compliance with any directive issued by the Governor’s office.
  • Licensees must comply with all prescribed local, state, and federal COVID-19 health requirements.

A complete list of all operating guidelines can be viewed here.

NV Governor Steve Sisolak issued policies and procedures to notify gaming operators of new operational requirements to “mitigate and reduce risk of exposure to COVID-19 for all employees, patrons, and other guests.” According to the release, these constitute the “minimum” requirements that should be followed and does not stop operators from implementing their own additional requirements.

Here are a few, but not all, of the new safety and health policies:

  • Occupancy will be limited to no more than 50% in each gaming area.
  • All reopening plans must include how disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer will be available to everyone.
  • Floor plans for slot machines must meet social distancing requirements.
  • Table games maximums: only three players per blackjack table, six players per craps table, four players per roulette table, and four players per poker table.
  • Extensive cleaning of all items including, dice, chairs, chips, and numerous other items when a new player or employee comes in contact with any item.

A complete list of all health and safety guidelines can be viewed here.

Bertolone said one of the important takeaways from the new guidelines is their ability to change.

“The thing that stands out the most is the recognition by regulators that this is a dynamic and fluid situation. While today there might be these standards, tomorrow they may change. Regulators are putting plans in place that allow for change,” he said.

Health and safety protocols are determined by local and state health officials, not the gaming board.

A new look at the casino experience

All of these new rules — which will likely become universal, give or take — bring us to how the whole casino experience will initially change for gamblers. At least, in the beginning, gone will be the dozen people hovering around a craps table rooting for someone on a hot streak. No longer will there be 10-12 high rollers sitting at a poker table stacking chips to look like city skylines. There won’t be groups of friends playing slot machines side by side or lines forming to enter new night clubs and eateries.

Based on the guidelines released by the NGCB, noise levels will be reduced by the lack of customers, spacing will be mandatory, and sanitation best practices will be heavily enforced.

George Rover, managing partner at Princeton Global Strategies and former deputy director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, anticipates similar policies around the US.

“All properties must comply with whatever executive order is handed down by their governor,” Rover said in an interview. “I can see maybe two out of every three slot machines closed or only three people at a blackjack table.”

Many of the policies in states like Nevada and Louisiana have mirrored Rover’s assessment. Expanding upon his comments, Rover said one thing that may cause a hold up in properties reopening is physical space.

“Some will be limited by their physical architecture,” he said. “They are all on equal footing but depending on their layout, some may be on better positioned when it comes to adopting what the executive order requires.”

Regional regulators weigh in

Experts may be focused on Las Vegas, but when reopening casinos begins, it will begin in the South. As first reported by Bloomberg, Louisiana casinos are set to begin reopening May 18, subject to approval by state-police.

“It will be a slow start and a conservative approach,” said Ronnie Jones, chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board (LGCB). “I think what will be proposed here will mirror Nevada and is pretty much what was proposed in Mississippi.”

According to plans released by LA Gov. John Bel Edwards, which can be viewed here, guidelines in Louisiana do in fact mirror some of the policies implemented in Nevada with a few exceptions.

Some but not all of the LA guidelines include:

  • Gaming positions will be reduced to 25%
  • Casino capacity will be reduced to 25%
  • Customers will be offered masks and be encouraged to wear them on the gaming floor
  • Temperatures will be taken by gaming employees

Fielding a workforce

Another potential issue is rallying employees to come back to work. According to a first-hand account written by Jones in Fantini’s Public Policy Review, he notes how severe Louisiana was hit by the pandemic.

“On a per capita population basis, Louisiana ranks 3rd behind New York and New Jersey in the number of infections and the number of deaths. In fact, one parish actually has the highest per capita death rate in the country, even higher than New York. Of the 25 counties throughout the country with the highest per capita death rate, ten are Louisiana parishes.”

In an interview, Jones said he continues to speak with general managers throughout the crisis and some a fearful even if they wanted to get to 100 percent, they don’t think they could.

“I’ve been speaking with general managers and a few are nervous their employees won’t be coming back to work,” he said. “They are either concerned for their own health or they are getting more from unemployment.”

Expected outlook on the casino industry

As with the reopening of any industry, policies and procedures will change. But according to Bertolone, “it’s too early to tell what will be the new norm.”

“Consumers are smart. Gambling is a very practical industry and without safety, the industry won’t recover,” he said. “The basic feelings of safety and cleanliness will be revisited whether you own a casino or a restaurant.”

Rodio said the company continues to work closely with regulators, and government and tribal officials to ensure operations upon reopening follow their directives.

“We will ensure that our operations are in compliance with applicable government directives and tribal mandates,” Rodio said. “While we don’t know the duration or the severity of the economic downturn — we recognize that recovery will take time.”

For now, the best the gambling industry or any industry affected by the pandemic can do is wait. In the grand scheme of things, two months is better than two years.

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Horse Racing Bets Supplementing Minimal Sports Betting Options

Welcome to another week of quarantine. Potentially, though, it won’t last much longer.

States across the country have started reopening select businesses and easing isolation restrictions as they pertain to the coronavirus pandemic. They have developed policies and guidelines for the public and industries to follow in order to resume operations.

In due time, it appears, casinos will reopen their doors after being closed, for the most part, since March.

Along those lines, major sports are reportedly close to returning. As such, legalized sports betting across the country could pick back up. For now, though, we continue to wait. Hopefully, not for much longer.

On to the Rewind:

Sports betting down, horse betting up in US

As spring turns to summer, any other year, we’d be coming out of one of the busiest times of the sports calendar, what with March Madness and playoff pushes in the NBA and NHL, not to mention the start of MLB and the Masters.

Of course, as it has been well-publicized, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the suspension and cancellation of major sports schedules and events, starting March 11. Notably, the NCAA tournament was scratched, which certainly hurt the wallets of bookmakers.

So it should come as no surprise that a virtually sports-less March included sports betting handle in the US plummeting by 65% as it relates to the previous month and reflects a year-over-year decline of 45%. Similarly, overall revenue dropped nearly 60% month to month.

Nevada took the brunt among states with legalized wagering, as its handle and revenue from February to March nose-dived by 71.1% and 96.2%, respectively. For the Silver State, the lack of March Madness delivered a blow, as basketball in March 2019 accounted for 83% of Nevada’s handle.

That said, it appears bettors may have found another outlet: horse betting.

In April, while year-over-year handle dropped 24.4%, horse racing attracted more than $639 million in wagers last month. Consider, though, that many tracks across the country remain closed and just 746 races took place — a 71.4% drop.

Most notably, the average race day boasted a whopping $7.5 million in handle. Compared with April 2019, that’s a 176.5% spike.

Michigan casinos closed until vaccine developed?

Since March 22, casinos in Michigan have been shuttered due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Some tribes have targeted reopening as early as this month. That’s not the case in Detroit, where properties might not open back up until a coronavirus vaccine is introduced.

As told to The Detroit News, city Mayor Mike Duggan noted that while reported COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state have declined, “[w]here we are today is where we’re going to be in September and is likely to be where we are in January.”

Duggan added that the virus will continue to exist until a vaccine is developed.

That said, Duggan related a potential world in which casinos potentially operated “at 25%-30% capacity” until a vaccine is introduced. He continued, saying he wouldn’t push for anything “before it’s medically safe” and that casinos might not welcome customers for a “few months.”

Closed casinos certainly hurt Detroit, which pocketed adjusted gross receipts of $1.45 billion from casinos in 2019, resulting in more than $184 million for the city.

Louisiana sports betting bills come to light

While sports remain sidelined, lawmakers in Louisiana have introduced three bills to potentially land legalizing sports betting on the ballot and in the hands of the public.

Sen. Cameron Henry, as he told Legal Sports Report, expects the Senate to vote on his bill in short order.

That bill, S 130, simply requests the legalization of the industry to hit the November ballot. This strategy provides Louisiana legislators to take a step forward toward potentially regulating sports betting by gauging the interest of state residents.

It also gives lawmakers ample time to develop regulations, as Henry said, ones that “we’ll have months to work on rather than days or weeks.”

But it won’t be a statewide legalization. Individual parishes decided to approve sports betting via referendum. As an example, 47 of 64 parishes green-lit daily fantasy sports.

To reach the ballot, legislators must pass a referendum bill by June 1. If approved by voters, Louisiana then implements language for a bill in 2021. Finally, a revenue bill with tax rates and fees must pass the legislature by a two-thirds supermajority and receive governor approval.

The other two proposed bills also aim to get in front of voters and include regulatory language for legal sports betting at 15 riverboat casinosone land-based casinos in New Orleans and four racetracks. Both proposals limit online wagering to casino properties.

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Gambling News

Horse Racing Bets Supplementing Minimal Sports Betting Options

Welcome to another week of quarantine. Potentially, though, it won’t last much longer.

States across the country have started reopening select businesses and easing isolation restrictions as they pertain to the coronavirus pandemic. They have developed policies and guidelines for the public and industries to follow in order to resume operations.

In due time, it appears, casinos will reopen their doors after being closed, for the most part, since March.

Along those lines, major sports are reportedly close to returning. As such, legalized sports betting across the country could pick back up. For now, though, we continue to wait. Hopefully, not for much longer.

On to the Rewind:

Sports betting down, horse betting up in US

As spring turns to summer, any other year, we’d be coming out of one of the busiest times of the sports calendar, what with March Madness and playoff pushes in the NBA and NHL, not to mention the start of MLB and the Masters.

Of course, as it has been well-publicized, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the suspension and cancellation of major sports schedules and events, starting March 11. Notably, the NCAA tournament was scratched, which certainly hurt the wallets of bookmakers.

So it should come as no surprise that a virtually sports-less March included sports betting handle in the US plummeting by 65% as it relates to the previous month and reflects a year-over-year decline of 45%. Similarly, overall revenue dropped nearly 60% month to month.

Nevada took the brunt among states with legalized wagering, as its handle and revenue from February to March nose-dived by 71.1% and 96.2%, respectively. For the Silver State, the lack of March Madness delivered a blow, as basketball in March 2019 accounted for 83% of Nevada’s handle.

That said, it appears bettors may have found another outlet: horse betting.

In April, while year-over-year handle dropped 24.4%, horse racing attracted more than $639 million in wagers last month. Consider, though, that many tracks across the country remain closed and just 746 races took place — a 71.4% drop.

Most notably, the average race day boasted a whopping $7.5 million in handle. Compared with April 2019, that’s a 176.5% spike.

Michigan casinos closed until vaccine developed?

Since March 22, casinos in Michigan have been shuttered due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Some tribes have targeted reopening as early as this month. That’s not the case in Detroit, where properties might not open back up until a coronavirus vaccine is introduced.

As told to The Detroit News, city Mayor Mike Duggan noted that while reported COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state have declined, “[w]here we are today is where we’re going to be in September and is likely to be where we are in January.”

Duggan added that the virus will continue to exist until a vaccine is developed.

That said, Duggan related a potential world in which casinos potentially operated “at 25%-30% capacity” until a vaccine is introduced. He continued, saying he wouldn’t push for anything “before it’s medically safe” and that casinos might not welcome customers for a “few months.”

Closed casinos certainly hurt Detroit, which pocketed adjusted gross receipts of $1.45 billion from casinos in 2019, resulting in more than $184 million for the city.

Louisiana sports betting bills come to light

While sports remain sidelined, lawmakers in Louisiana have introduced three bills to potentially land legalizing sports betting on the ballot and in the hands of the public.

Sen. Cameron Henry, as he told Legal Sports Report, expects the Senate to vote on his bill in short order.

That bill, S 130, simply requests the legalization of the industry to hit the November ballot. This strategy provides Louisiana legislators to take a step forward toward potentially regulating sports betting by gauging the interest of state residents.

It also gives lawmakers ample time to develop regulations, as Henry said, ones that “we’ll have months to work on rather than days or weeks.”

But it won’t be a statewide legalization. Individual parishes decided to approve sports betting via referendum. As an example, 47 of 64 parishes green-lit daily fantasy sports.

To reach the ballot, legislators must pass a referendum bill by June 1. If approved by voters, Louisiana then implements language for a bill in 2021. Finally, a revenue bill with tax rates and fees must pass the legislature by a two-thirds supermajority and receive governor approval.

The other two proposed bills also aim to get in front of voters and include regulatory language for legal sports betting at 15 riverboat casinosone land-based casinos in New Orleans and four racetracks. Both proposals limit online wagering to casino properties.

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Handle19 Sportsbook Moving Forward With 2020 DC Sports Betting Plans

The Coronavirus pandemic has affected the gambling industry across the world in many ways. Handle 19 sportsbook, which aims to be the first Class B operator for Washington, DC sports betting, is undeterred. In the current COVID-19 world, their goal remains unchanged.

Handle19 still plans to open a brick-and-mortar location in the District later this year. The brand is looking at expansion as well. A recent development on the other side of the Potomac River plays a large part in such growth.

Handle 19 sportsbook, DC sports betting and the COVID-19 impact

As casinos begin to work on plans to reopen, Handle19 looks at the pandemic situation from a different perspective. Ian G. Thomas, an attorney for Offit Kurman in Washington, D.C., who represents Handle19, shares his perspective.

“While Covid-19 has affected almost every facet of public life, believe it or not, it has had a limited impact on Handle19’s timeline,” Thomas said. “The goal was, and has always been, opening our doors by the start of the NFL season. That remains the same. Of course, the start of the NFL season appears to be a moving target at the moment. Regardless we are targeting a late summer/early fall launch.”

The pandemic has had some impact on Handle19’s opening process. Thomas shares that meetings went “socially distant” and walkthroughs at the future site went the same way. A change in location, favoring a site near Capitol Hill near Nationals Park over the original location in Adams Morgan, happened prior to the pandemic.

Thomas believes the biggest challenge may be making guests feel safe after Handle19 opens. Currently, a stay-at-home order remains in place in the District. While it’s possible that the situation may be different in August, the uncertainty makes planning difficult.

The virus’ potential impact after Handle19’s launch date

A Reuters poll showed only 27% of its respondents plan to visit venues where crowds might gather as soon as governments allow. A full 40% of respondents indicated they wouldn’t do so until a vaccine is available. Another 40% of those people also said they would wait regardless of how long the wait endures.

It’s unclear how many of the respondents live in or regularly travel to the District. It’s also not evident how many of the respondents are potential Handle19 customers. Regardless, that data suggests part of Handle19’s messaging upon opening should be safety.

“I think every business is struggling with these questions of safety in dealing with a virus that we are constantly learning more about and for which much still remains unknown,” Thomas added. “This challenge is made even more difficult by the fact that we are planning for an opening that is set to occur four months from now when circumstances could be entirely different. That said, we are evaluating a whole host of safety protocols and will be developing policies to adhere to the recommendations of the relevant federal and local agencies, including the CDC and the District of Columbia Department of Health. We also plan to closely track what others in the hospitality and retail gaming industry are doing to learn what safety measures are effective at protecting patrons while limiting any adverse effect on the user experience.”

Federal and local restrictions are out of Handle19’s control. Another key component of its business is similarly beyond its direct influence. In order to offer sports wagering, sports must exist. There’s reason for both caution and optimism for Handle19 in that regard.

Live sports are a big part of the equation

In the Steven Spielberg hit film, “Jurassic Park,” the park tour results in several no-shows of the dinosaur attractions. The scene gives birth to one of the most well-known moments of sarcasm in the movie. Dr. Ian Malcom, portrayed by Jeff Goldblum, spins the line perfectly.

“Ah, now, eventually, you do plan to have dinosaurs, on your dinosaur tour, right?”

In the same way, launching Handle19 without a new and shiny NFL season would be a disappointment. The potential upside, however, is that absence could make the heart grow fonder.

When major North American sports do resume/start, the demand for wagering upon those sports could be historic. Handle19 plans to be there whenever the action starts.

“As we have been seeing over the past few days, to a certain extent throughout this crisis, the appetite for sports fans to wager on athletic contests is still there,” Thomas explained. “Whether it was wagering on a Bulgarian Soccer match, table tennis, or more recently, on Korean Baseball, the metrics indicate that the desire to engage in recreational sports gambling is still very much present. It also appears that while North American sports leagues remain in limbo at the moment, European sports, particularly soccer, are slowly starting to return. As such, while delays in the return of U.S. sports leagues may alter the scope of Handle19’s launch, we do not anticipate it altering the timeline to launch.”

North American sports leagues are watching their European counterparts to glean insight. In the same way, Handle19 is casting its view beyond its current focus. The brand isn’t blind to recent events on the other side of the Potomac.

Handle19 eyeing opportunities across the river

Virginia recently became the second state to legalize sports betting within its borders this year. The law there doesn’t allow Handle19 to simply mimic its current Las Vegas-style concept. That doesn’t mean Handle19 can’t see an opportunity in Old Dominion, however. The VA law does allow for up to 12 online-only licenses.

“Handle19 has been monitoring the developments in VA closely and is exploring ways to enter the market in that jurisdiction,” Thomas commented. “While VA is going to be a primarily mobile market, Handle19 has already begun to explore strategic partnerships that would allow it to provide mobile offerings. It is also worth noting that Handle19 is a small minority-owned business that is fairly rare in the gaming space. This is important because the VA law provides a commitment to try to increase the participation of these types of businesses in the sports gambling industry. We believe that fact, combined with the know-how Handle19 has developed in the regional market will uniquely position the company to submit a strong application for a license in VA.”

For the time being, however, the focus is on D.C. The brand continues to work on the same timeline despite the pandemic. What the “new normal” will require is more flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing situations quickly. Handle19 seems to have a great handle on the situation.

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Gambling News

Handle19 Sportsbook Moving Forward With 2020 DC Sports Betting Plans

The Coronavirus pandemic has affected the gambling industry across the world in many ways. Handle 19 sportsbook, which aims to be the first Class B operator for Washington, DC sports betting, is undeterred. In the current COVID-19 world, their goal remains unchanged.

Handle19 still plans to open a brick-and-mortar location in the District later this year. The brand is looking at expansion as well. A recent development on the other side of the Potomac River plays a large part in such growth.

Handle 19 sportsbook, DC sports betting and the COVID-19 impact

As casinos begin to work on plans to reopen, Handle19 looks at the pandemic situation from a different perspective. Ian G. Thomas, an attorney for Offit Kurman in Washington, D.C., who represents Handle19, shares his perspective.

“While Covid-19 has affected almost every facet of public life, believe it or not, it has had a limited impact on Handle19’s timeline,” Thomas said. “The goal was, and has always been, opening our doors by the start of the NFL season. That remains the same. Of course, the start of the NFL season appears to be a moving target at the moment. Regardless we are targeting a late summer/early fall launch.”

The pandemic has had some impact on Handle19’s opening process. Thomas shares that meetings went “socially distant” and walkthroughs at the future site went the same way. A change in location, favoring a site near Capitol Hill near Nationals Park over the original location in Adams Morgan, happened prior to the pandemic.

Thomas believes the biggest challenge may be making guests feel safe after Handle19 opens. Currently, a stay-at-home order remains in place in the District. While it’s possible that the situation may be different in August, the uncertainty makes planning difficult.

The virus’ potential impact after Handle19’s launch date

A Reuters poll showed only 27% of its respondents plan to visit venues where crowds might gather as soon as governments allow. A full 40% of respondents indicated they wouldn’t do so until a vaccine is available. Another 40% of those people also said they would wait regardless of how long the wait endures.

It’s unclear how many of the respondents live in or regularly travel to the District. It’s also not evident how many of the respondents are potential Handle19 customers. Regardless, that data suggests part of Handle19’s messaging upon opening should be safety.

“I think every business is struggling with these questions of safety in dealing with a virus that we are constantly learning more about and for which much still remains unknown,” Thomas added. “This challenge is made even more difficult by the fact that we are planning for an opening that is set to occur four months from now when circumstances could be entirely different. That said, we are evaluating a whole host of safety protocols and will be developing policies to adhere to the recommendations of the relevant federal and local agencies, including the CDC and the District of Columbia Department of Health. We also plan to closely track what others in the hospitality and retail gaming industry are doing to learn what safety measures are effective at protecting patrons while limiting any adverse effect on the user experience.”

Federal and local restrictions are out of Handle19’s control. Another key component of its business is similarly beyond its direct influence. In order to offer sports wagering, sports must exist. There’s reason for both caution and optimism for Handle19 in that regard.

Live sports are a big part of the equation

In the Steven Spielberg hit film, “Jurassic Park,” the park tour results in several no-shows of the dinosaur attractions. The scene gives birth to one of the most well-known moments of sarcasm in the movie. Dr. Ian Malcom, portrayed by Jeff Goldblum, spins the line perfectly.

“Ah, now, eventually, you do plan to have dinosaurs, on your dinosaur tour, right?”

In the same way, launching Handle19 without a new and shiny NFL season would be a disappointment. The potential upside, however, is that absence could make the heart grow fonder.

When major North American sports do resume/start, the demand for wagering upon those sports could be historic. Handle19 plans to be there whenever the action starts.

“As we have been seeing over the past few days, to a certain extent throughout this crisis, the appetite for sports fans to wager on athletic contests is still there,” Thomas explained. “Whether it was wagering on a Bulgarian Soccer match, table tennis, or more recently, on Korean Baseball, the metrics indicate that the desire to engage in recreational sports gambling is still very much present. It also appears that while North American sports leagues remain in limbo at the moment, European sports, particularly soccer, are slowly starting to return. As such, while delays in the return of U.S. sports leagues may alter the scope of Handle19’s launch, we do not anticipate it altering the timeline to launch.”

North American sports leagues are watching their European counterparts to glean insight. In the same way, Handle19 is casting its view beyond its current focus. The brand isn’t blind to recent events on the other side of the Potomac.

Handle19 eyeing opportunities across the river

Virginia recently became the second state to legalize sports betting within its borders this year. The law there doesn’t allow Handle19 to simply mimic its current Las Vegas-style concept. That doesn’t mean Handle19 can’t see an opportunity in Old Dominion, however. The VA law does allow for up to 12 online-only licenses.

“Handle19 has been monitoring the developments in VA closely and is exploring ways to enter the market in that jurisdiction,” Thomas commented. “While VA is going to be a primarily mobile market, Handle19 has already begun to explore strategic partnerships that would allow it to provide mobile offerings. It is also worth noting that Handle19 is a small minority-owned business that is fairly rare in the gaming space. This is important because the VA law provides a commitment to try to increase the participation of these types of businesses in the sports gambling industry. We believe that fact, combined with the know-how Handle19 has developed in the regional market will uniquely position the company to submit a strong application for a license in VA.”

For the time being, however, the focus is on D.C. The brand continues to work on the same timeline despite the pandemic. What the “new normal” will require is more flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing situations quickly. Handle19 seems to have a great handle on the situation.

Source link

Gambling News

Big NASCAR Betting Anticipated As Races Return May 17

NASCAR is set to become one of the first major sports to return after a two-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. Action is set to begin on May 17, with three races at Darlington Raceway followed by two weeks of scheduled events.

As with the return of any major sports, the main goal is to keep competitors safe. In order to do this, league officials have changed up a few things that fans might not notice. However, races will still look the same.

NASCAR schedule for May

Sports bettors eager to place some bets on NASCAR races will be happy to know there will be seven races over an 11-day span beginning Sunday, May 17.

Here is what the schedule looks like thus far.

  • May 17 — Darlington Raceway — Cup Series
  • May 19 — Darlington Raceway — Xfinity Series
  • May 20 — Darlington Raceway — Cup Series
  • May 24 — Charlotte Motor Speedway — Cup Series
  • May 25 — Charlotte Motor Speedway — Xfinity Series
  • May 26 — Charlotte Motor Speedway — Trucks Series
  • May 27 — Charlotte Motor Speedway — Cup Series

New procedures for NASCAR

According to ESPN, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and state health officials, held conversations with NASCAR to determine the best and safest way racing could return.

One of the most noticeable differences with all May races will be the absence of fans.

Some, but not all, of the new procedures include:

  • Teams will be limited to 16 total members, including the driver.
  • Only licensed NASCAR team members will be permitted onto the racetrack and will be required to wear a cloth face mask at all times.
  • Garage work areas will be spread out to comply with social distancing requirements.
  • Pit crew members will use face screens in addition to normal gear.
  • There will be random temperature checks of everyone working in the garage area.
  • Anyone determined to be a potential virus threat will be required to leave and be replaced with another crew member.

NASCAR’s vice president of racing operations John Bobo said drivers and crew members will not receive COVID-19 tests because they are not widely available to the public.

Through a series of tweets, several high profile drivers like Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson, and Brad Keselowski have expressed their excitement for NASCAR’s return.

League officials have said there is a tentative schedule in place for June but anything past the May 17 return is subject to change.

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UFC Events In May Could Be The Injection Sports Betting Needs Right Now

Dana White doesn’t get his Fight Island. At least not yet. So for now, the empty arena a few blocks from the St. John’s River will suffice for the impresario of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

And for sports bettors eager for something else familiar.

The UFC’s bout is scheduled for Saturday, May 19 at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL, the first of three cards planned for the venue. The premier bout at UFC 249 will be a tussle between Tony Ferguson and replacement Justin Gaethja, who took the fight just two weeks ago because Nurmagomedov hasn’t been able to return to the United States after retreating to Russia when his previous card was canceled.

UFC 249 will mark the re-emergence of major professional sports in North America, preceding a Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson charity golf match and NASCAR’s return on May 17.

Thoroughbred horse racing has continued at a handful of venues, but that sport’s grip on mainstream America’s attention span was tenuous even in what would have been the run-up to a Kentucky Derby that should have been held on May 2.

UFC, while still a niche, is an ardent one and the weekend card marks a return to some semblance of normalcy for fans watching on television, as none will be allowed inside the arena. Bettors are finally presented with something more recognizable than table tennis, far-flung pro soccer leagues or Korean professional baseball.

“As one of the first major sporting events since COVID-19 caused a nationwide cancellation of major US sports leagues, we could not be more excited ahead of this weekend’s UFC 249 fight,” DraftKings Sportsbook Director Johnny Avello told PlayUSA. “Thus far, the card has seen significant volume and as the week goes on, we expect to see continued engagement around the highly anticipated match up.”

William Hill US trading director Nick Bogdanovich told PlayUSA that UFC betting volume has been “okay” through Tuesday, but also expects it to heighten as the bout approaches.

“I firmly believe come Friday and Saturday, action will be heavy,” he said. “It’s a great card in a great time zone and it’s the first step to having sports fans get excited about U.S. sports again.”

Sports and betting public has been awaiting UFC 249 card

White had originally balked at all attempts to curtail his business plan even as major pro and college leagues responded with varying speed and vigor to government moves to mitigate the spread of a COVID-19 virus.

He first planned to hold UFC 249, featuring a lightweight title fight between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, on April 23 at Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in California when the Barclays Center in Brooklyn became unviable.

This so-called “Fight Island,” a tribal island property on which the hotel is built, is exempt from the surrounding county’s shelter order, but White was eventually forced to yield to pressure from ESPN, which was to broadcast the event, and parent company Disney.

Though he still plans to field matches on an island, Florida became an amenable stopgap because of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s declaration that professional sports are “essential” services – the WWE has held fanless events in its Orlando Performance Center – meaning that the Florida State Boxing Commission also will oversee the proceedings as a regulated event.

What are the popular bets in UFC249?

Top-ranked Ferguson has won 12 fights consecutively and is a -177 favorite at DraftKings.

Gaethje is listed at +150 underdog at DraftKings, with the fight at -400 to last less than 4.5 rounds. Ferguson, who has won six of his last eight bouts by stoppage, is +260 at DraftKings to win by knockout, technical knockout or disqualification.

FanDuel has Ferguson as a -174 favorite (with Gaethje at +148), and at +260 to win by knockout or TKO. He’s at +600 there to win on points.

Reflecting Ferguson’s run of stoppages, FanDuel has Gaethje at +1400 to win in points.

In the co-main event, bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo (-220) is favored over challenger Dominick Cruz (+183) at DraftKings. Cejudo is listed at -210 at FanDuel, with Cruz at +176.

UFC takes its swing (and kick) as the next best thing for sports betting

When North American sports began shuttering on March 1 after NBA when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, sports fans, sports bettors and sportsbooks began groping for alternatives.

Most options, including the incredibly popular and lucrative NCAA Tournament, were quickly gone, replaced by the likes of Nicaraguan soccer, briefly Australian rules football, table tennis and eSports, notably eNASCAR.

The NFL Draft was a well-received return to taste of home, with anecdotal evidence from gaming operators claiming business was brisk. State revenue reports should reflect those assumptions after being a crushing April.

UFC now takes its turn with additional events: May 13 with a main event between Anthony Smith vs Glover Teixeira and May 16 with a main event between Alistair Overeem vs Walt Harris.

While not as much of a mainstream diversion as the NFL – but honestly, nothing is – the bloodsport brings a fervid fanbase hungering for content and a community of sports bettors who will likely feel more comfortable handicapping a mixed martial arts bout than Oleg Kutuzov vs Igor Smirnov in table tennis.

It’s not Fight Island, but it’s a port in a storm.

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