It appears the light at the end of the tunnel is nearing.

Following weeks of social isolation and distancing, closed businesses and schools, shuttered casinos and sportsbooks, normalization has begun.

A number of states across the country have authorized select businesses to resume operations. For some, that includes the reopening of brick-and-mortar casinos, which, for the most part, have had their doors closed since March.

In addition, sports leagues and associations have started or developed plans to resume action, thus allowing legal sports betting to kick back into gear.

On to the Rewind:

US casinos are reopening

What a time spring is supposed to be for casinos across the country, what with weekend getaways, spring break, warm weather.

Alas, it did not happen in 2020. Rather, the coronavirus pandemic resulted in properties closing their doors to prevent the spread.

Now, casinos are ready to get back in the game.

Of note, Arizona casinos seemed to break the mold, as five brick-and-mortars welcomed guests May 15, albeit with “partial” reopenings.

Nonetheless, the dominoes began to fall. Louisiana became the first major gambling market to announce reintegration plans, allowing its casinos to resume operations May 18, pending approval from state police of the properties’ social distancing and health policies.

Not to be outdone, California got in on the action, as Viejas Casino & Resort went back online the same day. This week, two more casinos — Sycuan Casino Resort and Valley View Casino & Hotel — intend to enter the fold. By May 27Soboba Casino Resort expects to join the mix.

Arkansas casinos also received authorization to reopen May 18, potentially followed three days later by properties in nearby Mississippi. Come early June, another group of states could return to operations, highlighted by Florida, where six Hard Rock Seminole casinos could reopen.

Indeed, it appears as if the industry is ready to bounce back.

Michigan online gambling by Thanksgiving?

If you live in Michigan or are planning to visit over Thanksgiving, picture this: You sit down to a hearty meal of turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing — the works. You complete your traditional over-indulgence of carbs and wine. You walk to your favorite spot on the couch and take out your phone to take part in the newest addition to Michigan gambling: legal, active online casinos and sports betting.

According to one state regulator, that could become reality.

Despite lacking emergency rules, Richard Kalm, executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board, told PlayMichigan that the state could launch iGaming earlier than its original 2021 projection.

“We’re trying to start the licensing process a little bit ahead of the rules,” Kalm said. “We’ve been doing this a long time, we know some of the things we’re going to need.”

While Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has not signed off on emergency rules to expedite the introduction of online gambling, stakeholders have long held discussions regarding the aforementioned rules. The MGCB sent a draft to operators in April, regulations that share traits with those in Indiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

This has allowed regulators and stakeholders to work toward the launch of iGaming and potentially speed up the industry’s introduction.

With its 26 casinos still closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, thus preventing retail sportsbooks from accepting any wagers, Michigan could certainly use some good news about the future of the state’s gambling industry.

Sports betting gets big boost with events returning

Sports. Are. Back.

And it is the “other” category that is doing the heavy lifting for legal sports betting operators.

It began with UFC 249, an event that was relocated three times but ultimately went off seemingly without a hitch on May 9 in front of an empty VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in JacksonvilleFlorida.

Since then, NASCAR returned to the racetrack, Korean baseball has picked up steam, golf was back on the links, and Bundesliga soccer hit the pitch once again. These were among the sports you can still bet on.

All told, this past weekend was easily the busiest and most promising for bookmakers across the nation since the coronavirus pandemic brought the sports world to a grinding halt in mid-March.

Notably, the Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina (run in front of zero fans) attracted betting interest akin to the Daytona 500 at some books.

Not to be overlooked, the TaylorMade Driving Relief Match, a for-charity golf event pitting Rory McIlory and Dustin Johnson against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff, resulted in double the wagers of a typical PGA Tour event at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Similar spiked interest was enjoyed by most of the heavy-hitters in the legal sports betting landscape.

At BetRivers, for example, UFC 249 — the landmark event — was especially notable.

“We received more betting action on UFC 249 than we have for any regular season NFL game,” said Mattias Stetz, COO of Rush Street Interactive, which operates BetRivers. “It was even 33% more popular than Conor McGregor’s return to UFC this past January. The bettors are delighted to see the UFC again.”

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