It’s information overload everywhere, and there’s not time enough to sleep and eat and stay fully apprised of what’s happening on this crazy blue dot of ours (two out of three ain’t bad). Here’s the weekend Sports Handle item, “Get a Grip,” recapping the week’s top U.S. sports betting stories, highlighting some fresh news, and rounding up key stories.
Top stories around our network this week
Well, now, that wasn’t so hard, Massachusetts, was it? (Uh, yeah, maybe.) After years of dithering when they weren’t dathering about it, Bay State lawmakers agreed at the very tail end of their legislative session to legalize mobile and retail sports betting in the state.
The bill awaiting Gov. Charlie Baker’s signature is mostly a positive one for the industry, though it became the latest jurisdiction to block most betting on competition involving in-state colleges. (Thankfully, we’re not talking the likes of Alabama football or Duke basketball when it comes to Massachusetts athletics.)
Now the real fun begins — the wait for launch now that all of the waiting for legalization has ended. There’s speculation that retail betting could be available during football season, while mobile operators may have to wait until early 2023 for approval. Whenever it happens, Massachusetts will finally be joining every one of its surrounding states besides Vermont in the sports betting game, and that’s an end zone spike that’s long overdue. But our coverage went far beyond New England this week, as shown below.
Glad to hear it!
You want numbers? We got numbers
Here are some things to look forward to
Here are some things to maybe not look forward to
Yes, Canada, there’s a dark side to all this gambling, too
Those are some pretty big letters there, fella
Consider Caesars a kind of Switzerland
Since last year, Caesars has been the biggest wagering company to stay out of the mayhem over ballot initiatives in California. The company is noticeably absent from the list of those backing Proposition 27, the statewide mobile proposal, and has not publicly backed or opposed either of the two wagering initiatives.
Caesars operates two brick-and-mortar casinos in the state under the Harrah’s brand, partnering with the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California near Sacramento and the Rincon Band of Luiseño Mission Indians near San Diego. Because of the partnerships, Caesars is the only major company that has existing market access for sports betting, either retail or digital.
“In terms of California, we’re not part of either initiative,” Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg said in a Q2 earnings call Tuesday. “We want to see sports betting in every jurisdiction that we can find. We’d love to see iCasino in every jurisdiction we can find. We have a decade-long relationship with a number of tribes across the country where we’ve been managing their assets through multiple contract renewals, which was a unique position when we bought Caesars. I’ve never seen that before.”
— Jill R. Dorson
NAACP suing over use of name in Prop 26
Days after the California-Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court seeking to have its name removed from “No on 26” ballot arguments, the “No on 26” campaign agreed to remove the information in question. The campaign is backed by card rooms in the state.
The NAACP earlier this year came out in support of Proposition 26, the tribal-backed, retail-only sports betting initiative on the November ballot. But according to the filing, an NAACP representative offered support of the “no” campaign believing that this is what the NAACP wanted. Minnie Hadley Hempstead, president emeritus of Los Angeles’ NAACP branch, was ”asked to contribute a statement to the Argument Against by the president of the Sacramento NAACP branch, who was also a paid campaign consultant for the No On Proposition 26 campaign,” according to court documents.
“We’re glad the card room casino operators did the right thing and removed the deceptive and inappropriate quote from their No on 26 ballot arguments,” said Rick Callender, president of the California-Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP via press release. The “No on 26” campaign had not issued a comment by late Friday afternoon.
— Jill R. Dorson
Washington tribe condemns card room lawsuit
Eric Persson is the CEO of Maverick Gaming, which owns and operates several card rooms in Washington state. He’s also a member of the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe in Washington state and, on Thursday, Persson’s tribe filed a motion in federal court seeking to invalidate a lawsuit brought by Persson’s company, which holds that state officials have unlawfully handed Washington’s tribes a monopoly over sports betting and other forms of gaming.
“It pains us to have to legally oppose a member of our own tribe,” Charlene Nelson, chair of the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe, said in a press release. “But Eric Persson’s lawsuit left us no choice. If successful, this self-serving case would cause irreparable harm to historically marginalized tribal communities and to the general public as well. It is also clear to us that Maverick’s lawsuit is just one prong of a broader national assault on tribal sovereignty.”
Maverick has retained the services of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher attorney Ted Olson, the former U.S. solicitor general who in 2018 convinced the Supreme Court to overturn PASPA, clearing the way for legal sports wagering outside of Nevada. For his part, Persson has maintained that his case against Washington state officials will ultimately wind up in the hands of the highest court in the land.
— Mike Seely
Maryland casinos set monthly revenue record
Maryland’s six casinos set a monthly gaming revenue record of $181.5 million in July. Casino gaming tax contributions to the state totaled $76.1 million for the month. The revenue tallied comes from slot machines and table games and doesn’t include retail sports betting, which is offered at five of the six casinos.
“We had a record-setting fiscal year 2022, and we’ll be announcing those figures soon, but for now we congratulate our casino partners on a great first month of FY 2023,” Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin said in a press release. “The casinos are continuing to expand their entertainment options as they rebound strongly from the pandemic, and their success translates into funding for schools, communities and businesses.”
MGM National Harbor led the six casinos in revenue creation, generating $77.2 million, and Live! Casino and Hotel ranked second, generating $61.6 million last month. None of the other four casinos generated more than $20 million in monthly revenue.
— Bennett Conlin
Caesars Sportsbook goes live in Wyoming
Caesars Sportsbook went live in Wyoming on Tuesday, becoming the fourth legal mobile sportsbook (BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel are the others) to launch in the state. PointsBet is also licensed to be an operator in Wyoming, where only mobile betting is authorized, but has yet to launch in the state.
Caesars Sportsbook is now operational in 24 states and jurisdictions.
“We’re ready to give sports fans in Wyoming the first-class sports betting experience they deserve,” Eric Hession, co-president of Caesars Digital, said in a press release. “Our upgraded mobile sports wagering app together with unforgettable experiences through Caesars Rewards is a special combination we’re excited to bring to this market.”
— Bennett Conlin
Jai alai expansion shot down
The Florida Gaming Control Commission has denied a proposal from Orlando Jai Alai to hold 40 matches this year, meaning Magic City Jai Alai in Miami remains the only active fronton in the U.S. The commission said the Orlando parimutuel operator’s petition, filed in January, could not be altered to add jai alai matches under state law.
“According to the statute, we don’t have the authority to approve this, and if we did approve it without that authority, we would be authorizing what is illegal gambling,” commission Chairman John MacIver told Florida Politics.
Jai alai was once one of the most popular parimutuel wagering opportunities in the U.S. before beginning to decline in the 1990s. Magic City Jai Alai reimagined the sport five years ago and has been staging a modified version of the game since then at its location near the Miami airport.
— Mark Saxon
Movin’ on up …
FanDuel has promoted Andrew Sneyd to executive vice president of marketing, according to a press release. He will oversee key marketing efforts for sports betting, daily fantasy sports, casino, advance-deposit wagering, retail, and free-to-play.
Meanwhile, Hard Rock has named Joe Lupo president of the future Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas. Currently the president of the company’s Atlantic City location, he has 30 years of casino gaming experience. Hard Rock International plans to purchase The Mirage Hotel & Casino from MGM Resorts International, and also announced that it’s promoting Anthony Faranca to president of its Atlantic City property.
— Jill R. Dorson
More of the most important, interesting stories
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Fubo “evaluating” sports betting product, scouting partners [Action Network]
TRY, TRY AGAIN: Pro teams deliver new pitch for sports gambling to NC lawmakers [WRAL]
MINNESOTA MULLING: Future prospects for legal sports betting in Minnesota rest with the tribes, horse tracks [MinnPost]
ANOTHER VEGAS TEAM?: A’s, casino magnate to meet about potential Las Vegas ballpark [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
Casino magnate Phil Ruffin is heading to the Bay Area today to meet with Oakland Athletics about a potential site for a new ballpark. The site in question: the Las Vegas Festival grounds. https://t.co/WCU1PIBnXr
— Las Vegas Review-Journal (@reviewjournal) August 2, 2022
SLEAZEBALL CHARACTER PROMOTES RG: Innovative AB&C gambling addiction campaign earns top award [Delaware Business Times]
HMMM, I KNOW I PUT THAT SOMEWHERE: Is $2 million missing from Louisiana Downs purse? Attorney general “aware of the complaint” [Shreveport Times]
PILING ON AGAINST HISA: HISA faces new legal challenge in Texas [BloodHorse]