The reels are always spinning in the gambling industry, and “The Double Down” is here every Friday to catch you up on all of the week’s biggest news. Sports Handle’s “Get a Grip” rounds up everything on the sports betting side, and US Bets provides the best of the rest: brick-and-mortar happenings, online casino developments, poker headlines, and more. So pull up a chair, crunch the numbers, and slide forward another stack of chips.
Eyes like a hawk on Hawkeye State
In the first two weeks of The Double Down, we’ve led with Las Vegas and New York, two entirely logical places to lead with on a gambling industry website. This week, we’re taking a trip to the midpoint between those two — just about. Technically, the midpoint on such a journey is Omaha, Nebraska. But Omaha is right on the Nebraska-Iowa border, so we’re saying “close enough.”
Yes, Iowa has our attention this week, as the Hawkeye State finds itself the subject of multiple gaming news items that have nothing in common except the state in which they’re taking place.
On the sports betting side of things: SuperBook, the venerable brand that came to Vegas in 1986, made Iowa the sixth state with access to its mobile betting app, joining Nevada, Colorado, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Arizona.
Over to brick-and-mortar casino doings, and leaning into that Nebraska-Iowa midpoint bit: The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska broke ground Monday on a 60,000-square-foot expansion of the Prairie Flower Casino in Carter Lake, Iowa. This will bring the total size of the casino to a little over 70,000 square feet; in other words, it’s a substantial expansion. Prairie Flower has roughly 100 employees and expects to add about 200 more when the project is complete, the Scottsbluff Star-Herald reported.
And then there’s an unusual story at the intersection of casinos and lawsuits: A jury found the Isle Casino Hotel in Waterloo, Iowa, liable for a beating one casino patron suffered at the hands of another in January 2021, awarding Montana Gunhus $1.732 million, about a quarter-million dollars shy of the $1.98 million his attorneys were seeking. The casino staff didn’t intervene when Damond Williams — who awaits criminal charges — allegedly attacked Gunhus for spending credits on Williams’ players club card.
And you probably thought nothing interesting ever happens in Iowa.
This week on Gamble On …
Every Thursday, US Bets drops a new episode of the Gamble On podcast, and this week’s featured the debut of new co-host Jeff Edelstein and welcomed Future Anthem CEO Leigh Nissim for an eye-opening conversation about how analysis of customer behavior can lead to an enhanced, personalized player experience:
“We’re very focused on experiences, which is an often missed part of the industry.”@futureanthem CEO @Nissimleigh stopped by #GambleOn to talk artificial intelligence and player behavior and drew a line from free desserts at restaurants to free bets at sportsbooks: https://t.co/FOsQRZ0qaM pic.twitter.com/Tpz1pfacdi
— US Bets (@US_Bets) November 4, 2022
Got your Powerball tickets?
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Progress Report On Horse Racing Safety Plan Shows Impact
Lost In The Fog, Harry Aleo, And The Best Horse Racing Interview Ever
Ballot don’t lie
PredictIt Vs. The Polls: Election Wagering Site Telling Its Own Story
Back in the jai alai again
Dania Beach Casino Gives Jai Alai A Second U.S. Foothold
Not a Vie-able business, it seems
Say Bye To Vie, The First Esports Betting Site To Die In New Jersey
If at first you don’t succeed …
Little River Band May Resubmit Plans For Fruitport Casino
All-in to open 2023
High-Stakes Poker Tourneys Set To Return To The Borgata
No cheating allegations, just a classic Hustler hand
It didn’t create even a fraction of the firestorm of the much-debated Robbi Jade Lew-Garrett Adelstein hand, but another bold poker move livestreamed by the Hustler Casino earned attention last weekend. If you’re in the mood for a wild hand free of accusations of skullduggery, wealthy amateur Bill Klein provided fireworks as he battled Brian Kim for a pot:
Is the sickest bluff you’ve ever seen?
HOLY S%*T!!! Bill Klein is an absolute legend for this!! pic.twitter.com/q6qlOikagU
— Hustler Casino Live (@HCLPokerShow) October 29, 2022
PENN asks age-old questions in assessing Q3 earnings
In a third-quarter PENN Entertainment earnings call in which he reported “solid” revenue performance of $1.6 billion up 7.5% over the prior year, CEO Jay Snowden expressed continued concerns about the oldest customer demographic.
Snowden said company officials have continued to be “pleasantly surprised” by growth in casino visitation from those in their 20s through 40s, including “growth on top of growth” in 2022 from what had already taken place last year compared to the pre-COVID era. The 21-34 age group, for example, is up 90% compared to 2019.
PENN has historically relied on the 65-and-older age group for about one-third of casino revenue, however, and that group is still down about 20% from what it was pre-COVID, Snowden told investment analysts on Thursday’s call. That does represent improvement from the oldest age group’s casino patronage being down about 40% as of a year ago, he noted.
“That speaks to where we’re thinking about upside as we move forward and that older segment gets more comfortable as time goes on post-COVID, post-vaccination rollout,” said Snowden, who told the analysts that PENN sees no basis to anticipate a recession harmful to the industry, but it has charted a plan to reduce costs by 45%, if necessary.
— Gary Rotstein
AGEM Index jumps 14% in October, ending brief skid
The Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM) index rose to 846.64 in October, jumping 14.4% from the previous month. The monthly gains marked the first time that the AGEM index closed higher in three months. The index is comprised of 12 global gaming suppliers throughout the world, with nine of the companies located in the U.S.
For the month, nine of the 12 index components closed higher, led by Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX: ALL), whose stock price rose by 12.6%. The strong month from Aristocrat led to a contribution of 35.62 points to the index, just ahead of Light & Wonder, Inc., whose stock price surged 30.9% in October and contributed 29.78 points to the index. Light & Wonder joined Aristocrat as the only two companies to contribute 25 points or more on the month.
While all three major U.S. averages closed higher in October, the AGEM index still beat the S&P 500, which rose 8% on the month. The AGEM index ended October down 21.5% from its level 12 months earlier.
— Matt Rybaltowski
More from around the gaming biz
WYNN WIN SITUATION: Wynn shares jump after Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta buys a 6.1 percent stake [The Nevada Independent]
BRISTOL CLEAR PLANS: Hard Rock groundbreaking planned for November [Bristol Herald Courier]
SINKING FEELING: Sunken casino riverboat exposed due to low Mississippi River water levels [WLBT.com]
LEAVING LAS VEGAS LIGHTER: Las Vegas airport slot operator surpasses $1 billion in all-time revenue [Las Vegas Sun]
ANY PALA BOYD’S IS A PALA MINE: Boyd Gaming completes acquisition of online-gaming tech company for $170 million [CDC Gaming Reports]
SANDS RUNNING OUT: Sands reportedly drops online gaming efforts [The Nevada Independent]
BUSINESS ASH USUAL IN NJ LEGISLATURE: Plan to ban smoking in Atlantic City casinos is still waiting for a vote. Is politics holding it up? [NJ.com]
PAI WOW! $1M table game jackpot hits at Strip casino [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
Image: Blundell Design