Tag: Gaming

From Gaming Tables To Masks, Recapping Las Vegas’ Big Reopening Weekend

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As the clock struck midnight on June 4, you could almost feel the electric anticipation of people getting ready to finally visit Las Vegas casinos again.

Casinos on the Vegas Strip opened at 8 a.m. and later on June 4. After a quick temperature check at many casinos, gamblers rushed in to place their first bets inside of a casino in nearly three months. While there were celebrations for the first guests at Caesars Palace and Bellagio, the scene was a bit more relaxed.

There was plenty of excitement to check into hotel rooms and hit table games and slot machines but visitors were cautious at first. That changed as the days continued and more guests arrived in Las Vegas from all over the world — and presumably, as the cocktails flowed.

Michael Trager, a visitor at Caesars Palace from London, told PlayUSA that he wanted to come to the reopening of Las Vegas because “I needed to see the reopening of Vegas. This is historic. In addition, in some ways, this pandemic has caused Vegas to change forever.”

The energy on the Las Vegas Strip

There are more than 100 casinos in the Las Vegas area. Only 30 of those casinos are located on the Vegas Strip and not all of those properties are currently open. Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International operate the majority of casinos on the Vegas Strip and are opening properties in phases.

MGM Resorts opened Bellagio, MGM Grand, and New York-New York with limited capacity. Excalibur will open later this week on June 11. MGM Resorts’ acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal he’d like to open Aria by July 4th weekend. He’d like to continue opening MGM properties every two to four weeks after.

Caesars Entertainment started with Flamingo and Caesars Palace. The company opened Harrah’s and The Linq promenade on June 5 due to overwhelming demand. Caesars expects to open The Linq casino, but not the hotel, next. The properties that are open now can offer more hotels and amenities for guests should customer demand continue to increase.

While the atmosphere on opening day at Bellagio was somewhat subdued, Caesars Palace and the Cosmopolitan were just getting started. Guests from California started to arrive on Friday afternoon and they were much more exuberant. Here’s a quick scene from the casino floor at Cosmopolitan on Friday night into Saturday morning.

To mask or not to mask

MGM Resorts and Wynn Las Vegas are offering complimentary face masks for anyone entering their properties. However, most casinos in Las Vegas are not offering free masks for all guests. Casino employees are required to wear face coverings at all times. Casino operators recommend guests wear a face mask but do not require it.

The video above captures a young crowd almost exclusively not wearing face coverings. This wasn’t the case all day. When the sun was still up on the first days of Las Vegas reopening there were noticeably more guests on and off the Vegas Strip wearing masks.

There was one thing in common with the majority of the guests wearing a face covering: the guests wearing masks tended to be older and more susceptible to catching COVID-19. Dru Chai, a visitor from California staying at New York-New York told PlayUSA that he “felt safe after visiting all three MGM Resorts properties that re-opened on June 4, although my experience was different at Bellagio where there were significantly more people compared to MGM Grand and New York-New York.”

Safety at Las Vegas casinos

The Nevada Gaming Control Board gave casinos a detailed list of health and safety policy requirements for reopening. Casino operators aren’t required to share their health and safety plans although many decided to do so before reopening.

The first thing some guests will notice happens right at the doors to enter a casino. Some casinos in Las Vegas — not all — are taking the temperature of guests upon entry. Checking temperatures is a way to see if a guest might have some symptoms of COVID-19. The process takes a couple of seconds but as casinos become busier, there could be a short wait.

The starkest change guests will see are dealers, and all casino employees, wearing face coverings. Sitting down at the tables and machines is also a different experience. There’s more space for social distancing and it’s noticeable with only three seats at blackjack and similar table games.

Craps is limited to six players while roulette tables only have space for four players. Slot machines have either been rearranged to create more space or there are chairs missing from games that might also be turned off.

Social distancing while gambling seems to be off to a good start at the larger casinos that have more room and open tables. Smaller casinos off the Vegas Strip might have some problems with onlookers. The limited space at the table might make gamblers hover while waiting to hop onto a hot craps game.

Social distancing measures could change in the future. For the time being, gamblers didn’t seem to mind having extra elbow room. Gamblers also didn’t mind playing behind plexiglass barriers at the few casinos that have the extra protective measure.

Chai also told PlayUSA “I was impressed that there were hand washing stations, including free masks, gloves, and sanitizing wipes readily available throughout the casino floor. There was an increased level of security, especially at highly trafficked points of entry.”

Even though there are significant safety precautions today, he wonders how long it will last, saying “it will be interesting to see how social distancing will be regulated when crowds significantly increase.”

Las Vegas is reopening slowly

Social distancing on the casino floor is an attempt to keep gaming spaces capped at 50% of capacity. This is mostly an attempt to keep the spread of coronavirus to a minimum. It also affords casino operators the ability to ease into restart their businesses slowly

Casino restaurants also have a 50% capacity limit. Some eateries remain closed while others have limited hours. This should change in the future but the limits are allowing the casino operators to re-learn how to walk before they run on all cylinders again.

Today’s Las Vegas does not offer the same experience as the beginning of March. In addition to limited bars and restaurants, most of the entertainment options that visitors love in Las Vegas have not returned yet.

Nevada venues can only have gatherings of 50 or fewer people right now. Large shows and residencies might return later this year or next year depending on the venue. Nightclubs aren’t open yet either. Pools are open for guests but don’t expect to see dayclubs and pool parties return anytime soon.

While large shows aren’t open, small lounges like Petrossian at Bellagio still offer their signature piano player to entertain its guests.

Is it time to visit Las Vegas again?

Las Vegas casinos are taking reopening very seriously. The thorough health and safety plans are an indication of the measures they’re going through to keep guests safe. It takes two to tango and guests have to do their part to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Many, but not all, casino guests are choosing to go without a face covering since there isn’t a mandate to wear one. The casinos are cleaning surfaces often but that doesn’t mean every surface is germ-free 24-7. While there are sanitizing stations, guests have to use them to do their part.

Anecdotally, those who wear masks are also washing hands often and using sanitizer often. Those not wearing masks might not be washing as frequently.

Wearing masks and cleanliness are personal matters for everyone. The casinos are doing their part and many of the best restaurants are open, albeit with limited menus. Almost every casino employee we’ve come across in the past few days has been happy to be at work and looking to welcome guests back to Las Vegas.

In a strange way, closing down casinos might have led to a way to improve the experience. The great customer service that Las Vegas is famous for is firing on all cylinders and is as good as it has been in years. Casino operators have streamlined and automated many hotel processes so guests can get what they want quicker.

This may not be the same Las Vegas as a year ago but it’s on the way back to being better than ever. It’s just going to take some time to get there.



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From Gaming Tables To Masks, Recapping Las Vegas’ Big Reopening Weekend

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As the clock struck midnight on June 4, you could almost feel the electric anticipation of people getting ready to finally visit Las Vegas casinos again.

Casinos on the Vegas Strip opened at 8 a.m. and later on June 4. After a quick temperature check at many casinos, gamblers rushed in to place their first bets inside of a casino in nearly three months. While there were celebrations for the first guests at Caesars Palace and Bellagio, the scene was a bit more relaxed.

There was plenty of excitement to check into hotel rooms and hit table games and slot machines but visitors were cautious at first. That changed as the days continued and more guests arrived in Las Vegas from all over the world — and presumably, as the cocktails flowed.

Michael Trager, a visitor at Caesars Palace from London, told PlayUSA that he wanted to come to the reopening of Las Vegas because “I needed to see the reopening of Vegas. This is historic. In addition, in some ways, this pandemic has caused Vegas to change forever.”

The energy on the Las Vegas Strip

There are more than 100 casinos in the Las Vegas area. Only 30 of those casinos are located on the Vegas Strip and not all of those properties are currently open. Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International operate the majority of casinos on the Vegas Strip and are opening properties in phases.

MGM Resorts opened Bellagio, MGM Grand, and New York-New York with limited capacity. Excalibur will open later this week on June 11. MGM Resorts’ acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal he’d like to open Aria by July 4th weekend. He’d like to continue opening MGM properties every two to four weeks after.

Caesars Entertainment started with Flamingo and Caesars Palace. The company opened Harrah’s and The Linq promenade on June 5 due to overwhelming demand. Caesars expects to open The Linq casino, but not the hotel, next. The properties that are open now can offer more hotels and amenities for guests should customer demand continue to increase.

While the atmosphere on opening day at Bellagio was somewhat subdued, Caesars Palace and the Cosmopolitan were just getting started. Guests from California started to arrive on Friday afternoon and they were much more exuberant. Here’s a quick scene from the casino floor at Cosmopolitan on Friday night into Saturday morning.

To mask or not to mask

MGM Resorts and Wynn Las Vegas are offering complimentary face masks for anyone entering their properties. However, most casinos in Las Vegas are not offering free masks for all guests. Casino employees are required to wear face coverings at all times. Casino operators recommend guests wear a face mask but do not require it.

The video above captures a young crowd almost exclusively not wearing face coverings. This wasn’t the case all day. When the sun was still up on the first days of Las Vegas reopening there were noticeably more guests on and off the Vegas Strip wearing masks.

There was one thing in common with the majority of the guests wearing a face covering: the guests wearing masks tended to be older and more susceptible to catching COVID-19. Dru Chai, a visitor from California staying at New York-New York told PlayUSA that he “felt safe after visiting all three MGM Resorts properties that re-opened on June 4, although my experience was different at Bellagio where there were significantly more people compared to MGM Grand and New York-New York.”

Safety at Las Vegas casinos

The Nevada Gaming Control Board gave casinos a detailed list of health and safety policy requirements for reopening. Casino operators aren’t required to share their health and safety plans although many decided to do so before reopening.

The first thing some guests will notice happens right at the doors to enter a casino. Some casinos in Las Vegas — not all — are taking the temperature of guests upon entry. Checking temperatures is a way to see if a guest might have some symptoms of COVID-19. The process takes a couple of seconds but as casinos become busier, there could be a short wait.

The starkest change guests will see are dealers, and all casino employees, wearing face coverings. Sitting down at the tables and machines is also a different experience. There’s more space for social distancing and it’s noticeable with only three seats at blackjack and similar table games.

Craps is limited to six players while roulette tables only have space for four players. Slot machines have either been rearranged to create more space or there are chairs missing from games that might also be turned off.

Social distancing while gambling seems to be off to a good start at the larger casinos that have more room and open tables. Smaller casinos off the Vegas Strip might have some problems with onlookers. The limited space at the table might make gamblers hover while waiting to hop onto a hot craps game.

Social distancing measures could change in the future. For the time being, gamblers didn’t seem to mind having extra elbow room. Gamblers also didn’t mind playing behind plexiglass barriers at the few casinos that have the extra protective measure.

Chai also told PlayUSA “I was impressed that there were hand washing stations, including free masks, gloves, and sanitizing wipes readily available throughout the casino floor. There was an increased level of security, especially at highly trafficked points of entry.”

Even though there are significant safety precautions today, he wonders how long it will last, saying “it will be interesting to see how social distancing will be regulated when crowds significantly increase.”

Las Vegas is reopening slowly

Social distancing on the casino floor is an attempt to keep gaming spaces capped at 50% of capacity. This is mostly an attempt to keep the spread of coronavirus to a minimum. It also affords casino operators the ability to ease into restart their businesses slowly

Casino restaurants also have a 50% capacity limit. Some eateries remain closed while others have limited hours. This should change in the future but the limits are allowing the casino operators to re-learn how to walk before they run on all cylinders again.

Today’s Las Vegas does not offer the same experience as the beginning of March. In addition to limited bars and restaurants, most of the entertainment options that visitors love in Las Vegas have not returned yet.

Nevada venues can only have gatherings of 50 or fewer people right now. Large shows and residencies might return later this year or next year depending on the venue. Nightclubs aren’t open yet either. Pools are open for guests but don’t expect to see dayclubs and pool parties return anytime soon.

While large shows aren’t open, small lounges like Petrossian at Bellagio still offer their signature piano player to entertain its guests.

Is it time to visit Las Vegas again?

Las Vegas casinos are taking reopening very seriously. The thorough health and safety plans are an indication of the measures they’re going through to keep guests safe. It takes two to tango and guests have to do their part to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Many, but not all, casino guests are choosing to go without a face covering since there isn’t a mandate to wear one. The casinos are cleaning surfaces often but that doesn’t mean every surface is germ-free 24-7. While there are sanitizing stations, guests have to use them to do their part.

Anecdotally, those who wear masks are also washing hands often and using sanitizer often. Those not wearing masks might not be washing as frequently.

Wearing masks and cleanliness are personal matters for everyone. The casinos are doing their part and many of the best restaurants are open, albeit with limited menus. Almost every casino employee we’ve come across in the past few days has been happy to be at work and looking to welcome guests back to Las Vegas.

In a strange way, closing down casinos might have led to a way to improve the experience. The great customer service that Las Vegas is famous for is firing on all cylinders and is as good as it has been in years. Casino operators have streamlined and automated many hotel processes so guests can get what they want quicker.

This may not be the same Las Vegas as a year ago but it’s on the way back to being better than ever. It’s just going to take some time to get there.



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Could The Impact Of COVID-19 On The Gaming Industry Spell Wire Act’s Demise?

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Fifty-nine years after the Wire Act was passed and 16 months after a Department of Justice re-interpretation of it sent a spasm through the burgeoning US gaming industry, stakeholders and entrepreneurs continue to debate over the extent to which the 20th-century law will impact their high-tech business opportunity.

Such was the case at the SBC Digital Summit, with Wayne Kimmel of SeventySix Capital sounding bullish on the Kennedy Administration’s anti-mob law being “done in the next couple of years.” But Adam Greenblatt, CEO of Roar Digital, pushed back as hard as cordiality would allow in telepresence.

Both Greenblatt and Kimmel appeared as part of a panel entitled “M & A and Investing in Sports Betting Companies.” During the panel, the Wire Act was only one of the topics on which Kimmel and Greenblatt disagreed.

The whole discussion spurred a bit of a debate on the pandemic’s potential impact on entrepreneurship in the US gaming industry and the controversial Wire Act.

COVID-19’s potential impact and where the Wire Act comes in

Kimmel believes COVID-19’s hammering impact on land-based gaming has revealed an opportunity for mobile and online business. And the Wire Act, depending on the interpretation, hampers that opportunity.

“I think a lot of the regulations, the laws, the blockers, the things that are happening or that we have in the United States right now, I think some of those things are going to go away,” he asserted. “I’ve been out there talking about the Wire Act and thinking that … I’m sorry, that’s done in the next couple of years.

“My team and I at SeventySix Capital, we believe that’s gone and I think that’s going to really, really affect a lot of players in this industry and will allow more innovation and allow more entrepreneurship. So, believing those kinds of things, looking out to the future and not just saying the world’s going to be like it is right now – because no one would have believed that all these casinos and sportsbooks would be dark – I mean, who could have ever imagined this? And I think coming out of this, other types of things are going to happen and that’s where I believe a lot of the opportunity will come from.”

Countered Greenblatt: “If you’re right and we see the end of the Wire Act, I’m taking us out for dinner and we’re drinking the most expensive champagne, my friend. But I can’t see it.”

Litigation will ultimately determine which is correct.

Kimmel: many new opportunities for entrepreneurs

Founded by Kimmel in 1999, SeventySix Capital specializes in sports tech venture capital, according to its website, including multiple gaming projects. Roar is the global collaboration between MGM Resorts International and GVC Holdings.

Kimmel compared the nascent American sports betting industry with the Internet landscape of the early ’90s — and how these opportunities of the time period made bold-thinkers into billionaires.

“There was this opportunity,” Kimmel said, “where entrepreneurs came in and really disrupted the way we not only did business but the way we lived and the way we do things. Similar to what happened then, I believe that same kind of thing is going to happen here within sports betting.

“I believe that there will be a lot of M and A’s, but at the same time there will be players that will come out of nowhere that you have never heard of before. You’ll see there will be the next Steve Jobs or the next Mark Zuckerberg, there will be those types of players in the industry.”

Greenblatt’s counter-argument: lots of hurdles for newcomers to break through

In a business environment increasingly laden with consolidation and the emergence of massive alliances such as the just-completed Flutter Entertainment acquisition of Stars Group, start-ups and mid-level players will struggle, Greenblatt countered. He seemed to be casting an eye on the players who didn’t come out of the dot.com bubble as well as Jobs and Zuckerberg.

“I disagree, actually, with some of the views previously expressed not because they are not logical, but because they underestimate the role of compliance and the impact of state-by-state as this market rolls out,” Greenblatt said. “Whereas in the early stages of the Internet what, as a global collective, we were doing was breaking new grounds enabled by technology, the US is just really a new geographical frontier where that really mature industry is able to penetrate, to roll out.

“It’s not like there is no Amazon. We have Amazons in our space. We’ve got the GVCs and the Bet365s and the Flutters and to unseat any of those will take number one, any enormous amount of capital. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible.”

Establishing the resources to win at compliance at a state level and quickly applying “product, marketing tools, affiliate tools, KYC tools, responsible gaming tools” without friction — as well as high-level corporate rivals — will be a daunting task for newcomers, Greenblatt added.

“I think it is not possible in this generation for a startup to unseat the global market leaders. I think M and A will take place at the very highest level, as we’ve seen now with Stars and Flutter, there will be some vertical integration taking place as we’ve seen with [DraftKings] and [DK and SB Tech], he said. “But, I think to bring together a collection of disparate assets or grow from grassroots into something which can compete for leadership, I think, is too difficult.”

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Could The Impact Of COVID-19 On The Gaming Industry Spell Wire Act’s Demise?

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Fifty-nine years after the Wire Act was passed and 16 months after a Department of Justice re-interpretation of it sent a spasm through the burgeoning US gaming industry, stakeholders and entrepreneurs continue to debate over the extent to which the 20th-century law will impact their high-tech business opportunity.

Such was the case at the SBC Digital Summit, with Wayne Kimmel of SeventySix Capital sounding bullish on the Kennedy Administration’s anti-mob law being “done in the next couple of years.” But Adam Greenblatt, CEO of Roar Digital, pushed back as hard as cordiality would allow in telepresence.

Both Greenblatt and Kimmel appeared as part of a panel entitled “M & A and Investing in Sports Betting Companies.” During the panel, the Wire Act was only one of the topics on which Kimmel and Greenblatt disagreed.

The whole discussion spurred a bit of a debate on the pandemic’s potential impact on entrepreneurship in the US gaming industry and the controversial Wire Act.

COVID-19’s potential impact and where the Wire Act comes in

Kimmel believes COVID-19’s hammering impact on land-based gaming has revealed an opportunity for mobile and online business. And the Wire Act, depending on the interpretation, hampers that opportunity.

“I think a lot of the regulations, the laws, the blockers, the things that are happening or that we have in the United States right now, I think some of those things are going to go away,” he asserted. “I’ve been out there talking about the Wire Act and thinking that … I’m sorry, that’s done in the next couple of years.

“My team and I at SeventySix Capital, we believe that’s gone and I think that’s going to really, really affect a lot of players in this industry and will allow more innovation and allow more entrepreneurship. So, believing those kinds of things, looking out to the future and not just saying the world’s going to be like it is right now – because no one would have believed that all these casinos and sportsbooks would be dark – I mean, who could have ever imagined this? And I think coming out of this, other types of things are going to happen and that’s where I believe a lot of the opportunity will come from.”

Countered Greenblatt: “If you’re right and we see the end of the Wire Act, I’m taking us out for dinner and we’re drinking the most expensive champagne, my friend. But I can’t see it.”

Litigation will ultimately determine which is correct.

Kimmel: many new opportunities for entrepreneurs

Founded by Kimmel in 1999, SeventySix Capital specializes in sports tech venture capital, according to its website, including multiple gaming projects. Roar is the global collaboration between MGM Resorts International and GVC Holdings.

Kimmel compared the nascent American sports betting industry with the Internet landscape of the early ’90s — and how these opportunities of the time period made bold-thinkers into billionaires.

“There was this opportunity,” Kimmel said, “where entrepreneurs came in and really disrupted the way we not only did business but the way we lived and the way we do things. Similar to what happened then, I believe that same kind of thing is going to happen here within sports betting.

“I believe that there will be a lot of M and A’s, but at the same time there will be players that will come out of nowhere that you have never heard of before. You’ll see there will be the next Steve Jobs or the next Mark Zuckerberg, there will be those types of players in the industry.”

Greenblatt’s counter-argument: lots of hurdles for newcomers to break through

In a business environment increasingly laden with consolidation and the emergence of massive alliances such as the just-completed Flutter Entertainment acquisition of Stars Group, start-ups and mid-level players will struggle, Greenblatt countered. He seemed to be casting an eye on the players who didn’t come out of the dot.com bubble as well as Jobs and Zuckerberg.

“I disagree, actually, with some of the views previously expressed not because they are not logical, but because they underestimate the role of compliance and the impact of state-by-state as this market rolls out,” Greenblatt said. “Whereas in the early stages of the Internet what, as a global collective, we were doing was breaking new grounds enabled by technology, the US is just really a new geographical frontier where that really mature industry is able to penetrate, to roll out.

“It’s not like there is no Amazon. We have Amazons in our space. We’ve got the GVCs and the Bet365s and the Flutters and to unseat any of those will take number one, any enormous amount of capital. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible.”

Establishing the resources to win at compliance at a state level and quickly applying “product, marketing tools, affiliate tools, KYC tools, responsible gaming tools” without friction — as well as high-level corporate rivals — will be a daunting task for newcomers, Greenblatt added.

“I think it is not possible in this generation for a startup to unseat the global market leaders. I think M and A will take place at the very highest level, as we’ve seen now with Stars and Flutter, there will be some vertical integration taking place as we’ve seen with [DraftKings] and [DK and SB Tech], he said. “But, I think to bring together a collection of disparate assets or grow from grassroots into something which can compete for leadership, I think, is too difficult.”

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With Closed Casinos, Nevada’s March Gaming Revenue Suffered Major Drop

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Last week the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported that the amount of money won by Nevada casinos in March fell by almost 40% compared to the same period last year. Gaming revenue for the state was $618 million in March. That’s a decrease of 39.57% from March of 2019 when casinos won $1.022 billion.

The reason for the huge decrease in gaming revenue for Nevada is the closure of all casinos in the state on March 17 to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

Different drops for different regions

Nevada casinos in different parts of the state have different customers. In fact, even casinos in the Las Vegas area have different gambling guests. The Vegas Strip is dominated by high rollers and large casino corporations. Downtown Las Vegas and the suburban casinos cater to different tourists and local residents.

Not only are there different casino operators but the guests play varying games and have varying budgets. Casinos on the Vegas Strip won $299.9 million from gaming customers in March. That’s a decrease of 45.67% from last year.

Meanwhile, casinos in downtown Las Vegas weren’t hit as hard on a percentage basis. These casinos won $43 million. That’s only a decrease of 25.92% from the previous year.

Nevada sports betting demolished

The amount of money won by Nevada sportsbooks was crushed before casinos were even closed. The NBA suspended its season five days before casinos were told to close their doors. Other major sports, including the NCAA basketball tournament (AKA March Madness), followed the NBA’s lead.

March is chock full of college basketball games for bettors. Between the large volume of college basketball conference tournament games and the 63 games (plus play-in games) during March Madness, Nevada sportsbooks lost one of the largest cash generators of the year. For comparison, the entire NCAA basketball tournament typically sees as much money wagered as the Super Bowl.

Nevada sportsbooks saw a massive 76.3% decrease in its sports betting handle compared to last March. This was the lowest monthly handle for Nevada since 1993. March Madness typically draws less experienced sports bettors which means that sportsbooks typically win more of the wagers placed.

Without March Madness, Nevada sportsbooks only won $1.5 million from $141 million wagered in March. This is a 95.5% drop from a year ago.

April gaming revenue will be much worse

April’s gaming revenue in Nevada will be much worse. While casinos were closed in the middle of March, they’ve remained closed for the entire month of April. Additionally, video poker and slot machines in bars, taverns, supermarkets, and gas stations have also been turned off.

The only gaming revenue in Nevada for the month will come from one of the following sports wagering apps that remained open for the month.

  • BetMGM
  • Caesars
  • Circa Sports
  • William Hill

These four sportsbooks were only available to existing customers. Players must visit a brick and mortar casino to first set up a new sports wagering account. Since casinos were closed, no new accounts could be opened and funded.

Nevada doesn’t have full online casinos like New Jersey or Pennsylvania but it does have an online poker website. WSOP.com was also operational while brick and mortar casinos were closed in April.

Nevada casinos reopening

Nevada casinos won’t reopen on until mid to late May at the earliest. Governor Steve Sisolak says casinos will be able to open again during the third or fourth phase of his reopening plan.

Regardless of the opening date for brick and mortar casinos, the four sportsbook apps will have company. The Westgate SuperBook says the app will be turned on again on May 7.

When casinos do open for business again, don’t expect to see a return to normal business right away. During its first-quarter earnings call, MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle said the company would open properties in phases. Bellagio and New York-New York will be MGM Resorts’ first two Las Vegas casinos to reopen. There could be another casino opening depending on demand.

While MGM Resorts doesn’t have a health and safety plan for reopening yet the company will have one in the next two weeks. They say that casino floors will have to be reconfigured to allow proper spacing. This should mean fewer table games and machines will be available right away. As a result, gaming revenue should be lower even after casinos reopen.



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Michigan Governor Signs Bill Legalizing State Sports Betting, Online Gaming

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Santa came early in Michigan.

Early FridayGov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the Lawful Sports Betting Act that legalizes Michigan sports betting. She also put pen to paper on bills to green-light online casinos, online poker and daily fantasy sports.

Whitmer’s signatures pushed across the finish line this collection of bills that modernize the state’s gambling industry.

After governor approval, Michigan sports betting is en route

To be fair, Whitmer has long believed legalized sports betting should enter Michigan. As noted, however, she stood beside a higher tax rate from which stakeholders and lawmakers frequently tried to talk her down.

After months of rebuffing proposals to regulate wagering, and a year after the previous governor vetoed a similar bill, Whitmer finally came around with this latest package of bills.

As a result, Michigan becomes the ninth state in 2019 to legalize sports betting and the 20th state overall. It also becomes the fifth state to legalize online casinos and the sixth state to legalize online poker.

All told, this package of bills stands as the largest expansion of gambling ever seen in the state of Michigan.

A breakdown of Michigan sports betting

Earlier this month, Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. predicted to Legal Sports Report that the governor would sign off on these bills before Christmas. While Whitmer cut it close, she did, in fact, prove the senator correct.

As Hertel told LSR, the state aims to launch its retail sports betting industry in time for March Madness.

Under the newly signed bill, Michigan’s three commercial and 23 tribal casinos will be allowed to apply for brick-and-mortar and online wagering. Fees to do so include: $50,000 for application; $100,000 for licensing; and $50,000 annual renewal.

Operators will be limited to just one online sportsbook in the state, and all in-play wagers offered must use official league data.

As a perk for operators, Whitmer conceded to a lower tax rate. After advocating for upward of 15% in taxes, the governor signed off Friday on an 8.4% rate on adjusted gross sports betting receipts. Commercial casinos will pay an additional 1.25% city tax to Detroit.

More iGaming on the way in Michigan

As indicated, Whitmer also signed off on bills to legalize online casinos, online poker and daily fantasy sports.

Representing something of a compromise from lawmakers in order to establish lower sports betting taxes, iGaming will incur higher tax rates than initially proposed.

That tiered structure will range from 20% to 28%.

Regardless, each casino in the state will be permitted to pursue licenses for both online casinos and online poker, with each property afforded one brand in each vertical.

Cost for licensing mirrors the sports betting model: $50,000 for application; $100,000 for licensing; $50,000 for annual renewal.

Also similar to sports betting, daily fantasy sports will be taxed at an 8.4% rate. Operators, though, will only have to shell out $20,000 for initial licensing and $5,000 for annual renewals.

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