The Double Down: Absolute Powerball Corrupts Absolutely

Double Down

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.

Who owns the $2 billion ticket?

Remember that $2.04 billion Powerball lottery drawing in November, which saw a single winning ticket sold in California?

In February, the California Lottery revealed the winner to be a man named Edwin Castro, who had elected to take the $997.6 million lump sum payment, leaving him with a tidy $628.5 million after taxes. But as the Daily Mail has now reported, another California man, Jose Rivera, objects to Castro’s claim and is taking it to the courts.

So who is the true winner of the slightly-over-$2-billion-or-slightly-under-$1-million jackpot?

According to the California Lottery … yeah, it’s Castro, like the lottery said all along, case closed.

Rivera alleges that he purchased the winning ticket at Joe’s Service Center in Altadena on Nov. 7, and a man he identifies as “Reggie” stole the ticket from him. This Reggie refused to give the ticket back and supposedly threatened to destroy it if Rivera didn’t agree to split the winnings.

In the lawsuit Rivera filed, Castro and Reggie are two different people, and both, along with the California Lottery, are named as defendants. The lottery says the claims verification process includes viewing store surveillance footage of the ticket being purchased, and that, no way, Jose, you aren’t on it. 

The California Lottery said in a statement: “When it comes to the vetting process for big winners, California Lottery has the utmost confidence in its process for doing so. California Lottery remains confident that Edwin Castro is the rightful winner of the $2.04 billion prize stemming from the Powerball drawing in November of 2022.”

A worker at Joe’s Service Center told the Daily Mail that Rivera “is crazy” — a slightly less formal and politically correct version of the lottery’s statement, but a more direct and succinct explanation.

This week on Gamble On …

Every Thursday, US Bets drops a new episode of the Gamble On podcast, and this week’s welcomed National Council on Problem Gambling Executive Director Keith Whyte for a wide-ranging discussion to kick off Problem Gambling Awareness Month. Among the topics covered was the push away from individual state helplines and toward a centralized national number:

“In 1995, setting up your own state helpline number was a great idea. … In 2023, requiring an operator to list your number and 25 other different numbers is a bad idea. It actually hurts people trying to get help.”
— @TheKeithWhyte1, on the national move toward 800-GAMBLER:

— US Bets (@US_Bets) March 3, 2023

Another convo with Keith

Dear Keith: Do I Have A Gambling Problem?

Smoke signals

CDC Study Says Secondhand Smoke Plagues Casinos, Even In Non-Smoking Areas

Blast from the past

The History Of Historical Horse Racing

Great Wolf Lodge-ing a complaint

Gambling + Indoor Waterpark + Texas = Someone From Hell Bucking For A Raise

Whole buncha busts

Is Michigan A Hotbed For Illegal Casinos?

Raven about jai alai

Ray Lewis Joins Board Of World Jai Alai League

Rocky Mountain RG

Colorado Approves More Than $1.5 Million To Combat Problem Gambling

Put down the knife, monkey

Monkey Knife Fight Is No More, As Bally’s Pulls The Plug

Penn State-area mini-casino drama continues

To the surprise of absolutely no one who has been following the legal skirmishing over what could be Pennsylvania’s 18th and final casino, the issue was not settled by the state gaming board’s recent vote favoring a project in the State College/Penn State University area.

The Cordish Companies, which does business as Stadium Casino LLC operating two Live! casinos in the state, has taken advantage of its right to appeal the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s licensing decision of Jan. 25 to the state Supreme Court.

The regulator unanimously awarded a license to private investor Ira Lubert, who has a partnership with Bally’s Corp. to develop what is known in Pennsylvania as a “mini-casino” in mall space once occupied by a Macy’s. It would be the fifth of the small casinos, which are limited to no more than 750 slot machines and 30 to 40 table games.

Cordish, which lost out to Lubert in a 2020 auction held by the gaming board for rights to the project, contends Lubert has violated financing rules required for his bid and that the board has violated due process in approving him. The Baltimore-based company made similar arguments in a previous state Commonwealth Court lawsuit that is pending, and it’s unclear when the legal issues will be resolved and when work on the mini-casino will start or be completed.

— Gary Rotstein

Aristocrat on track with another slots partnership

In 2021, slot machine manufacturer Aristocrat Gaming announced a licensing agreement to build NFL-themed machines (which are expected to debut in casinos this fall), and the company is also an official partner of the Las Vegas Raiders and Allegiant Stadium.

This week, Aristocrat took another step forward on the Vegas sports scene, announcing a multi-year deal to become the official slot machine of the Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix, which is coming to the Vegas Strip Nov. 16-18.

“Las Vegas is widely known for world-class entertainment, hospitality experiences, and slot gaming, which is why we are thrilled to be the official slot machines of the Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix,” Aristocrat Gaming Chief Marketing Officer Mark Wadley said in a statement. “This event will be like no other and we look forward to inviting interested F1 fans to play our great lineup of entertaining slot games that match the excitement on the track.”

— Eric Raskin

More from around the gaming biz

MAYBE NEXT YEAR, INDY: Indiana online casino bill dies in committee [iGB North America]

STAIR-ING CONTEST: Top-ranked tower climber repeats Strat win, tying record time [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

BACK ON THE HORSE: Dutrow receives green light to resume training [BloodHorse]

PUSH AND PULL: Future of some electronic pull tabs in jeopardy after Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling [Star Tribune]

PLAXICO? IS THAT YOU?: Report: Man wounded by gun in pants at Vegas Strip casino [Associated Press]

BALTIMORE, MORE, MORE: Outside of Nevada, MGM National Harbor was top U.S. casino last year [WTOP]

COLUMBUS’ DAY IS COMING: Caesars Entertainment reveals renderings of planned casino in Columbus, Nebraska [Omaha World-Herald]

WHAT CAN $3.75 BUY YOU?: Woman walks out of Natchez casino a millionaire Sunday [The Natchez Democrat]

Image: Blundell Design

Author: Ryan Gonzales