The Double Down: Gray Matters

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.

The fall of the machines

When most people hear the word “gambling,” they think of slot machines at casinos, dealers tossing cards across the felt, or, increasingly, sports betting. Depending on what state folks live in, they might never have heard such terms as “gray machines,” “electronic pull tabs,” “skill games,” “historical horse racing” (HHR), “video lottery terminals” (VLTs), or “video gaming terminals” (VGTs).

But whatever names they go by, these variations on slot-like games are popular forms of gambling in numerous juridictions — and in some states are just about the only legal gambling option available.

And they’ve been in the news a lot the past week, as legislators are increasingly examining or reexamining their legal status.

In Kentucky, which saw sports betting legalized last Friday, the gray games are on life support — and the business owners who rely on them for income aren’t happy about it.

In North Dakota, as The Bismarck Tribune reported, the Senate last Friday killed a bill to expand the number of sites that could house the machines. The day before, the Senate unanimously approved a bill to limit the machines’ proliferation while the state conducts a gambling study this year and next.

In Alabama, illegal video gambling machines are increasingly being discovered and shut down, as WTVM reports.

And in Missouri, while legislators continue to debate possible action to legalize sports betting, the Senate voted 20-11 on Wednesday not to legalize VLTs.

Is this gambling “gray” area inching toward fading fully to black? It’s a subject worth keeping a close eye on. While most forms of gambling are expanding in availability, these slot-adjacent machines could prove a victim of the casino/sports betting industry’s success.

This week on Gamble On …

Every week, US Bets drops a new episode of the Gamble On podcast, and this week’s welcomed The Action Network Senior Golf Writer Jason Sobel — live from Augusta National — to share his pick to win the Masters and how optimistic is too optimistic when it comes to wagering on Tiger Woods:

Tiger Woods tees off at #themasters soon. @jeffedelstein wants to bet on him and root for him. @JasonSobelTAN endorses that approach — but only up to a certain point.

— US Bets (@US_Bets) April 6, 2023

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Breaking Down The Chances Of Each Major New York City Casino Proposal

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A parimutuel pioneer

On 90th Parimutuel Anniversary, Michigan’s Last Horse Track Looks Ahead

There’s always next year

Way-Too-Early Betting Odds Name National Champion UConn Among 2024 Title Favorites

Tables turn at Hard Rock Opening Act in Illinois

Hard Rock’s Opening Act, its temporary casino in northern Illinois, expanded Wednesday to include table games after 16-plus months of exclusively slot play. The Seminole Tribe broke ground last September on its $310 million permanent casino, located at the former Clock Tower resort, and remains on track to open in the fourth quarter of this year.

Hard Rock has generated $73.4 million in slot revenue in Rockford through February since opening its temporary casino, averaging $115.68 per admission from the 630,000 admissions counted. It claimed $5.1 million in revenue in February, with average revenue of $114.91 per admission.

Hard Rock was the first to open a temporary casino in Illinois in November 2021, followed by Full House Resorts opening the Temporary by American Place in Waukegan this February. The Bally’s application to open its temporary venue in downtown Chicago is still being reviewed by the Illinois Gaming Board, with the company hoping to open the property this summer.

— Chris Altruda

The official fantasy home of the Braves

Days after the start of the baseball season, the Atlanta Braves announced a restarting of the team’s partnership with PrizePicks as the ball club’s “official daily fantasy sports partner.” The Braves and PrizePicks first aligned during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

There’s plenty of debate over where sites such as PrizePicks fall on the line between sports betting and DFS. For now, Georgia residents have access to the operator’s real-money offering while they wait on legislators to legalize retail or mobile sportsbooks.

“PrizePicks shares our commitment to thoughtful innovation and providing an optimal fan experience,” Braves Senior Vice President of Corporate and Premium Partnerships Jim Allen said in a press release announcing the reunion with the fantasy operator.

“We are honored to partner with the Braves again,” echoed PrizePicks CEO and co-founder Adam Wexler, “a testament to our commitment to being a major part of the Georgia sports ecosystem.”

— Eric Raskin

Caesars relaunches Tropicana iGaming in Garden State

Caesars Entertainment relaunched its Tropicana Online casino product in New Jersey on Wednesday, improving the integration to its “Caesars Rewards” loyalty program. Players in the Garden State have access to both American and European roulette, live-dealer blackjack, poker, and baccarat, as well as numerous slot games.

“Caesars has a legacy in New Jersey with a history of providing a best-in-class gaming experience,” said Matthew Sunderland, senior vice president of iGaming at Caesars Digital. “The relaunch of Tropicana Online Casino is an important step in our progression toward providing valued customers with the best iGaming products in the industry. We’re confident this new offering delivers an elevated online casino experience with rewards that can’t be matched, similar to the industry-best experiences customers enjoy at Tropicana Atlantic City.”

— Chris Altruda

More from around the gambling biz

A TOKEN GESTURE: Station Casinos adds NFT rewards to loyalty program [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

 TABLE THAT IDEA: One of Nebraska’s racetrack casinos hopes to add table games soon [Lincoln Journal Star]

CHESA-PEAK PERFORMANCE: Maryland casinos generate $176.5 million in gaming revenue during March []

THE BIGGEST LITTLE SLOT HIT: Turning $10 into $14 million: Player wins Reno’s biggest Megabucks jackpot ever [Reno Gazette Journal]

ONLINE JACKPOTS GET BIG TOO:  BetMGM online casino player wins $1 million slot jackpot on $1 bet [BetMGM Blog]

HOLDING JACKS: Cordish Companies announces acquisition of Diamond Jacks Casino & Hotel [CDC Gaming Reports]

GARDEN VARIETY: Spinoff company to oversee MSG Sphere, Tao Group, MSG Networks [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

Image: Blundell Design

Author: Ryan Gonzales