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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo hasn’t changed his opinion very much on gambling. In a statement on February 25, Cuomo made it clear that he does not support a “knee-jerk reaction” to allowing additional casinos to open in the state.
This comes as gambling interests have been lobbying for expansions of casinos within the New York City area. Operators have pledged more than $500 million to the state to acquire the new licenses. The MGM-owned Empire City and the Genting-owned Resorts World have been lobbying to receive two of the three remaining casino licenses authorized by the state. Las Vegas Sands Corporation is the other.
Despite the possibility of large revenues from license fees and taxes, the Governor did not include new casinos in his most recent budget proposal. At the press briefing, Cuomo explained, “These are complicated issues, and I am skeptical about quick, knee-jerk reactions to doing something like that, especially if it’s conditioned on money.”
There is a ban on new casino licenses being issued until 2023. The purpose of the ban is to allow the four upstate casinos to have the opportunity to develop and grow before allowing additional operations to begin. However, operators have been pushing to try to get this ban lifted, suggesting that it would give the state enough money to help with the $6 billion deficit New York faces.
Adding to the mix is the fact that Cuomo recently dismissed the idea of allowing online sports betting within the state. Once again, his annual budget proposal did not include allowing additional wagering on sporting events. Sports betting is currently allowed at the four upstate casinos and tribal gaming venues, but no online or mobile wagering has been made legal.
As a result, the easiest option for New York City residents looking to bet on sports is to cross state lines into New Jersey to place bets. This is bad for the state, as it loses tax revenue to its neighbor.
The governor is not moved by this argument, pointing out his belief that allowing online wagering can only be accomplished through a change in the state constitution. This isn’t a point of view shared by state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr, as he told CalvinAyre.com recently.
The California Lottery (CSL) shortchanged schools by $36 million in the 2018 fiscal year. That’s according to State Auditor Elaine Howle, who recommended Tuesday in a damning letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and the legislature that the agency should be made to pay it back.
Howle wrote that the Lottery has failed to comply with a 2010 education funding law that required it to increase the amount of money it diverted to schools in proportion to its own net-revenue growth.
She blamed poor management at CSL and a lack of state oversight for the shortcomings. The State Controller’s Office had failed to assess the efficiency of the Lottery’s operations, Howle said.
According to her audit report, the Lottery had been unable to prove its payouts had been optimized “for maximizing funding for education, leaving it unable to know whether it is diverting too much funding to prize payments.”
It also used too many noncompetitive contracts with suppliers, which meant it was likely to be missing out on cost savings.
It is critically important that the lottery adhere to these requirements, because they are safeguards that ensure that the lottery’s education funding increases as the lottery’s revenues increase, and that the education funding is at its highest possible level and does not decline sharply from one year to the next,” Howle wrote.
Misuse of Funds
State Sen. Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) requested the audit last year after a spate of controversies at Lottery HQ set alarm bells ringing.
CSL Director Hugo Lopez resigned in June after a separate audit conducted by State Controller Betty Yee found CSL had possibly misspent more than $305,000 on travel, food, and accommodation at conferences.
At a trade show in Orange County, CSL agreed to pay $60 for 12 granola bars and $45 for a dozen cookies. Separately, it splurged $21,666 on T-shirts, backpacks, lip balm, and iPad cases for employees.
Former Gov. Jerry Brown brought in the DOJ after receiving an anonymous letter that accused lottery executives of favoritism when hiring and promoting staff. The whistleblower also released photos of lottery officials partying at a bar and accused employees of fraud and lewd behavior.
“The @calottery was created to fund schools. Period,” Chang wrote Tuesday on Twitter after reading Howle’s findings. “They have a history of controversy, so this comes as no surprise to me. Every dollar wasted at the lottery is a dollar that won’t go to the classroom — this has to stop.”
California Lottery Agrees to Differ
California voters approved the establishment of a lottery by public referendum in 1984. They were told that 34 percent of revenues would go to education.
But in 2010, in the midst of the economic downturn, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill to amend the California State Lottery Act. This permitted “the commission to establish the percentage to be allocated to the benefit of public education at a level that maximizes the total net revenues allocated to the benefit of public education.”
Since then, the lottery’s annual revenue has grown from less than $3 billion to more than $7 billion.
Lottery Director Alva V. Johnson denied his agency owes money to education, arguing there is a “fundamental difference of opinion” between how CSL and Howle are interpreting the 2010 amendment to the State Lottery Act.
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The New York Yankees’ World Series odds are lengthening following the news that starting pitcher Luis Severino will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2020 season.
The Yanks have been the consensus betting favorite to win this year’s World Series. Oddsmakers across the country had the Bronx Bombers as short as +350 to win the franchise’s 28th Commissioner’s Trophy. But now down yet another starting pitcher, and the Los Angeles Dodgers have the shortest MLB title odds.
DraftKings has the Dodgers at +375, slightly edging the Yanks at +400.
I don’t want to sugarcoat the fact that being without Sevy, that’s a blow, but it doesn’t change our expectations and what we’re truly capable of,” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “Nothing changes.”
As of Monday afternoon, DraftKings said 57 percent of the money wagered on the World Series outcome, and 45 percent of all tickets, was on the Yankees.
The Yankees have been betting favorites for the duration of the off-season and leadup to Spring Training. That was especially true after New York landed Houston Astros ace Gerrit Cole in December with a staggering nine-year, $324 million deal.
The acquisition shortened New York’s odds from +500. But it’s been one loss after another since. Severino is the second starting pitcher in the planned rotation to suffer an injury this month.
Starter James Paxton is expected to miss three to four months recovering from back surgery. That news came just a month after MLB announced starter Domingo German accepted an 81-game ban for violating the league’s domestic violence policy.
German will miss the first 63 games, as he was given credit for the 18 games he missed last year while the investigation was ongoing.
German led the Yanks with 18 wins during the 2019 season on a 4.03 ERA. Paxton was 15-6 on a 3.82 ERA. Severino missed all of the 2019 regular season because of injuries, but in 2018, he went 19-8 on a 3.39 ERA.
New York’s rotation to start the season will now go Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, and two vacancies.
Cole Hard Truth
The Yankees’ high hopes for 2020 rest now even more on Cole.
DraftKings has various prop bets on baseball’s highest annually paid pitcher. The sportsbooks’ over/under win total for him is set at 16.5 wins. His odds of throwing a no hitter, which would be Cole’s first, are long at +2000.
The Yankees, notorious for outspending teams, might be in buying mode following the loss of Severino.
GM Brian Cashman said Tuesday, “We’re constantly looking for upgrades. But this time of year, you look from within and see and give opportunities for what you have, and typically that’s how it shakes out, especially until after the June draft.”
He added, “You keep relying on depth. So, wouldn’t say expect any domino effect or cause and effect in terms of us being able to go to marketplace where a marketplace this time of year typically doesn’t exist.”
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Caesars Posts Q4 Loss, Revenue Climbs 2.6 Percent, 2020 Outlook Supported by Conventions, Sports Betting
Caesars Entertainment Corp. (NASDAQ:CZR) reported a fourth-quarter loss of 45 cents a share, well below the loss of 11 cents a share Wall Street was expecting. But revenue jumped 2.6 percent to $2.17 billion from $2.12 billion a year earlier.
The company said it reduced $100 million in expenses since the start of 2019. That’s a figure that will go a long way toward Eldorado Resorts, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:ERI) plan to trim costs by at least $500 million when it finishes its $17.3 billion purchase of the Caesars Palace operator in the first half of this year.
Caesars’ results were largely driven by the strong demand at our Las Vegas properties, excellent cost controls, and the addition of sports betting in several states, which drove increased visitation,” said CEO Tony Rodio. “In addition, our focus on costs and operating efficiencies across the company contributed to the excellent performance.”
In the last three months of 2019, Caesars’ Las Vegas Strip properties, including Caesars Palace, Bally’s, the Flamingo, and Planet Hollywood, combined for $989 million in revenue, up from $949 million in the year earlier period. Turnover at the company’s regional properties rose to $1.032 billion from $1.014 billion.
Ex-Las Vegas, “US net revenues increased $18 million year over year, primarily due to growth in Iowa and Indiana as a result of our new sportsbooks and better results in Atlantic City,” according to Caesars.
The company operates three venues on the Atlantic City boardwalk: Bally’s, Caesars Palace and Harrah’s.
Sports Wagering Helps
On a conference call with analysts this afternoon, Rodio and other members of the Caesars executive team highlighted strength in the company’s sports betting operations in the fourth quarter.
Rodio noted in some regions, such as Indiana and Iowa, sports wagering is bringing some previously dormant members of Total Rewards, the Caesars loyalty program, back to the company’s properties. Many of those gamblers are giving the operator other business, including slots and table games. The Hawkeye and Hoosier States are two of the fastest-growing sports wagering markets in the US.
According to a presentation provided to analysts and investors, Caesars operates 29 sportsbooks across the country, including 17 outside of Nevada. The company expects that number to increase this year, “pending legislation, as seen in North Carolina.”
Caesars added that it expects to launch mobile sports wagering in Indiana, Iowa, and Pennsylvania in the first half of 2020.
The operator did not offer up specific earnings and revenue guidance for the current quarter or 2020. But Rodio sounded an optimistic tone, noting Las Vegas should remain strong with the opening of the Caesars Forum conference center next month and the NFL Draft in April.
The Caesars chief executive officer said over 240,000 room nights have been booked because of the conference space.
Recently, rumors have swirled that Eldorado could consider selling that asset or the Colosseum at Caesars Palace on the Strip when it completes the takeover. But no comments were made to that effect on today’s call. ERI reports results Wednesday after the close of US markets.
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Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics in Jeopardy Because Of Coronavirus, But Odds Favor Games Staying on Schedule
The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo could be cancelled because of the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. But odds, at least for now, favor the games remaining on schedule.
Opening ceremonies are scheduled for July 24 at Olympic Stadium in the Japanese capital.
But with the deadly virus still uncontained, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warning Americans Tuesday that “disruption to everyday life might be severe,” many are wondering if the Olympics need to be called off. The odds of that happening remain relatively long.
One online bookmaker asks, “Will the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games start on time as scheduled?” “Yes” is at -300, and “No” is +220. A winning $100 bet on those odds respectively nets $33.33 and $220.
The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains that while COVID-19 has potential to become a pandemic, it is still only an epidemic.
A pandemic is a disease that has spread across many continents, while an epidemic is the rapid spread of a disease within a given region or population.
There are 80,239 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China. Ninety-six percent (77,780) of the cases have been identified in China.
However, the virus has now infected people in 33 other countries or territories. South Korea has been hit particularly hard with 977 confirmed cases, and 10 resulting in death. Japan has 157 confirmed patients, and the disease has killed one.
Speaking with the Associated Press, longtime International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound said the decision whether to hold the Summer Olympics will need to be made within the next two or three months.
I’d say folks are going to have to ask, ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or not?’” Pound explained.
He added, “A lot of things have to start happening. You’ve got to start ramping up your security, your food, the Olympic Village, the hotels. The media folks will be in there building their studios.”
He advised athletes to continue their training. “As far as we all know, you’re going to be in Tokyo,” he concluded.
Pound added that there’s little chance of relocating the games to a region less impacted by the coronavirus. Odds on the Summer Olympics occurring in another city are long at +600.
Japan is set to have the eyes of the sporting world this summer. The country’s had the eyes of the gaming industry for several years because of its wishes to welcome three casino resorts.
Japan is expected to move forward with awarding the three integrated resort licenses following the Summer Olympics.
MGM Resorts appears to be a lock for Osaka. Las Vegas Sands is the other frontrunner, the casino giant targeting Tokyo or Yokohama for its multibillion-dollar project.
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The debate odds for tonight’s showdown in Charleston, South Carolina, predict that the Democratic Party’s 2020 frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders will be on the defensive for much of the roughly two-hour affair.
The senator from Vermont cemented his frontrunner status by winning Nevada last weekend. He’s the betting favorite to win all but six Democratic primaries.
The 78-year-old is expected to face much criticism tonight from the six other Democratic candidates who remain, vying to take on President Donald Trump in November. As a result, bettors believe Sanders will command the most speaking time.
The PredictIt market, “Who will speak the most at the Feb. 25 Democratic debate?” has Sanders’ shares at 47 cents. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is next at 26 cents, and former VP Joe Biden third at 12 cents.
The share prices for the remaining candidates are Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (nine cents), business tycoon Mike Bloomberg (eight cents), former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (seven cents), and billionaire Tom Steyer (three cents).
The CBS debate begins at 8 pm ET.
Can Sanders Beat Trump?
The seven Democrats have varying viewpoints on policy issues, but one thing they have in common is the shared motive to defeat Trump. Some political pundits say Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, simply cannot appeal to enough voters.
Bloomberg, who according to PredictIt bettors has the second-shortest odds of winning the Democratic nomination, is already on the offensive. The billionaire is pointing to Sanders’ ties to the gun lobby as one reason he shouldn’t win the ticket.
Bernie has been weak on gun safety his entire career. He’s voted against background checks. He voted to give gun makers immunity. He’s received help from the NRA,” Bloomberg tweeted.
The billionaire continued, “I’ve been the NRA’s #1 enemy for decades. Bernie’s been the NRA’s buddy for decades. We already have a president who caves to the NRA. We don’t need another one.”
Bloomberg spokeswoman Galia Slayen added that “the country can’t afford to let Bernie Sanders skate by another debate without a focus on his extreme record.”
Biden kept things a bit lighter, telling reporters, “I’d like whomever the Democrat is to beat Donald Trump. I’d vote for Mickey Mouse over Donald Trump.” He added, however, “I don’t think (Sanders) can beat Donald.”
PredictIt bettors have plenty of debate odds to partake in for tonight’s discussion.
Along with speaking time, the online exchange asks how many of the seven candidates will say the word “billionaire.” Three is the front-runner at 30 cents, and four next at 27 cents.
The political odds suggest four candidates will say “socialism/socialist,” and six will say “African-American.” Steyer is projected to speak the least amount of time, his shares in that market at 59 cents.
Sanders is the favorite to win Saturday’s South Carolina primary. His shares are at 65 cents, Biden 34 cents, and Steyer a distant four cents. With 54 delegates, South Carolina offers up the most delegates before Super Tuesday on March 3.
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A recent study ordered by Cherokee Nation Businesses (CNB) has concluded that if a resort and casino was built in Russellville, Arkansas, it would produce over $3 billion in economic activity for the state in the first decade alone. The Economic Impact Group was commissioned to conduct the study and the CNB released it as part of a proposal in mid-February.
“In forming our plans for Legends Resort and Casino, we turned to a network of experts to help us understand how this project would impact the region’s economy,” CNB CEO Chuck Garrett said. “It was fitting for us to engage this research through Dr. Russell Evans and EIG who are already very familiar with current CNB operations.”
This study compared data from six Oklahoma counties of similar size to Pope County, where the casino would be built. They explained in the study that these “micropolitan areas” are near large metropolitan sectors, but not adjacent to them.
They found that in the first year of casino operationsm 1750 jobs would be created with a total employee income of $43.3 million. They extrapolated this to suggest that over a 10-year period, over 21,000 jobs would be created with an employee income total of $530 million.
Estimating the potential income tax revenue, Pope County would earn as much as $4.3 million in the first year, rising to $5.8 million by the 10th year. In total, the state would rake in $52.3 million through the first 10 years.
The proposed casino hasn’t been welcomed by all in Pope County. Citizens for a Better Pope County have argued that the Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC) had broken rules by granting a permit to CNB. The group felt that the authorization of the casino was unconstitutional as it was not put up to a public vote, and wanted to have the permit thrown out.
A judge ruled that the project did not violate the state’s constitution and that the agreement between the Cherokee nation and the state was both legal and binding. However, some lawsuits concerning the bidding process still has the CNB’s plans on hold.
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A downtown Las Vegas casino has reached a key milestone in the construction of its new tower.
Last week, crews reached what will be the top of the Downtown Grand Hotel and Casino’s seven-story third tower. This spring, hotel staff will begin booking the 495 new rooms, which are slated to open in September.
The Downtown Grand, located a couple blocks north of the Fremont Street Experience, offers a boutique lounging experience. Among the nearly 500 rooms in the new tower will be 67 studio rooms, 20 one-bedroom suites, and three Presidential suites.
The Presidential suites all will feature nearly 1,500 square feet of living space.
We are in the final phases of development and closer to the ultimate goal of extending our revered guest experience to many more travelers,” said John Culetsu, the vice president and managing director of the Downtown Grand, in a news release. “We look forward to delivering the city’s newest room product this fall.”
Construction on 250,000-square-foot tower started in January 2019. When complete, the Downtown Grand will offer more than 1,100 rooms.
Not all of the current work is taking in the new tower. The gym, which is located in the original tower, Is being expanded to more than 1,500 square feet.
Former Lady Luck
The Downtown Grand stands where the Lady Luck stood for more than 40 years, until it was closed in 2006. After being dormant for about five years, work started on the new hotel.
The $100 million investment transformed the old casino into a boutique hotel with more than 24,000 square feet of gaming space. It currently features seven distinct dining options and a William Hill sportsbook to complement each other.
Vegas Revitalizing Downtown in 2020
The Downtown Grand isn’t the only development that’s helping reshape and revitalize Vegas’ downtown.
On New Year Eve, the Fremont Street Experience celebrated the completion of the Viva Vision upgrade. Nearly 50 million LED lights were installed as part of the $32 million project. Viva Vision is the signature attraction for Fremont Street, a 1,500-foot long canopy over the street that provides light shows on a daily basis.
The new brighter lights will allow for more light shows, including some during daytime hours.
Nearly 25 million visitors go to the Fremont Street Experience annually.
That same month, developers of the Expo at World Market Center Las Vegas celebrated the topping off of its 315,000-square-foot convention space expansion that’s slated to open in July.
After the Downtown Grand’s new tower opens, the next big unveiling for the district will be the Circa Resort and Casino. That’s expected to open in December. The project, being built by Derek Stevens, is the first new construction casino for the downtown district in 40 years.
The project represents about a $1 billion investment. It will feature 777 rooms and be the primary retail location for the Circa Sports sportsbook. The three-story sportsbook will include a 78-million-pixel high-definition screen. Other amenities will include a rooftop amphitheater with six pools with a 125-foot screen.
It also will feature a two-story casino.
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Casino operator Caesars Entertainment Corporation closed out 2019 with another nine-figure net loss, in yet another example of what the struggling company’s chief exec calls a ‘solid’ performance undone by the pesky need to service its debt.
On Tuesday, Caesars reported revenue rising 2.6% year-on-year to $2.17b in the final three months of 2019, while operating income rose 77% to $177m. However, the company booked a net loss of $304m in Q4 versus a net profit of $198m in Q4 2018.
For the year as a whole, revenue rose 4.2% to $8.74b while operating income fell 16.4% to $618m and the company booked a net loss of $1.2b versus a $303m profit in 2018.
In what has become something of a tradition, CEO Tony Rodio said the numbers showed “another quarter of solid operational performance,” which makes one wonder if a teenage Rodio was similarly adept at spinning a failing grade on a book report to his parents. “When you think of it, Dad, an ‘F’ is only five letters from an ‘A’ but it’s 20 letters from a ‘Z’!”
At any rate, Rodio credited the full-year revenue gains to contributions from Caesars’ acquisition of two Centaur Gaming properties in Indiana, strong results in Las Vegas and a better than expected hold at the company’s gaming tables that boosted revenue by as much as $65m.
Caesars’ Vegas division reported revenue rising 4.2% to $989m in Q4, while the ‘Other US’ unit gained 1.8% to $1.03b. The ‘All Other’ segment slipped 2.6% to $148m, in part due to declining gaming volume at Caesars’ high-end UK casinos.
Rodio echoed the views of other casino operators regarding the positive side-effects of legal sports betting, which Caesars currently offers at 17 casinos outside Nevada. Rodio said betting has enticed formerly dormant customers of the company’s Total Rewards program to come check out the sportsbooks, boosting revenue at non-betting amenities in the process.
Caesars’ net losses were attributed to – what else – costs associated with juggling the company’s prodigious debt, which continues to stick around long after the company’s bankruptcy and restructuring few years ago. Caesars paid $1.37b in interest alone on its debt last year while impairment charges on land and buildings and gaming rights rose by $406m.
More challenges may lie ahead if Vegas starts reporting coronavirus cases. While no guests have yet to report exposure to the virus, Rodio expressed concern that domestic travelers could decide to give Vegas a wide berth “for the fear of interacting with Asian clientele.”
Caesars continues to make progress toward its planned merger with rival Eldorado Resorts later this year but Rodio declined to speculate on rumors that Eldorado CEO Tom Reeg would look to unload some of Caesars’ Vegas properties post-merger. Eldorado will release its own financial report card on Wednesday.
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