The Double Down: Tilting The Tables

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.

Pandemic paves way for casino cheats

“Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat.”

Jesse “The Body” Ventura was in character as a heel wrestler/commentator when he said this. Presumably, the rassler and actor who would go on to become Minnesota’s governor didn’t actually believe in the mantra.

But it appears there are plenty of casino gamblers these days who do.

CDC Gaming Reports’ Buck Wargo covered the World Gaming Protection Conference at the Tropicana Las Vegas this week, and he reported that since casinos reopened after the initial wave of COVID closures in 2020, advantage players and those looking to outright cheat have picked up additional edges to improve their chances of beating the house.

There are two casino weaknesses in particular that stand out. One stems from staffing issues since the start of the pandemic. Blackjack dealer turned casino consultant Sal Piacente explained at the conference that cheaters can get away with their various schemes more easily due to many casinos being understaffed. Additionally, the rush to fill jobs has led to some dealers making it to the tables with sloppy tendencies, such as exposing hole cards.

The other major new challenge for casinos concerns customers wearing masks, whether by requirement in earlier phases of the pandemic or by choice some three years after COVID arrived. It’s much harder than it used to be for security personnel to identify gamblers whose business is not welcomed in their casinos.

Some patrons come to casinos looking for a good time, knowing the odds are against them. Others come looking to win money, by any means necessary.

As Robert DeNiro’s Sam “Ace” Rothstein said in Casino, “The eye in the sky is watching us all.” But in the COVID era, the eye in the sky blinks a little more frequently than it used to.

This week on Gamble On …

Every Thursday, US Bets drops a new episode of the Gamble On podcast, and this week’s welcomed back’s Chris Rosen for a final look at Oscars odds ahead of Sunday’s Academy Awards broadcast. Will Everything Everywhere All at Once win everything in every category all through the night?

Latest Best Picture Odds:
Everything Everywhere -1100
All Quiet +1000
Banshees +1400
Top Gun: Maverick +1600

“If Everything Everywhere does not win, it would go down as one of the most historic upsets … ever.”
— @chrisjrosen, on #GambleOn

— US Bets (@US_Bets) March 10, 2023

Additional Oscars odds analysis

Oscar Odds Point To An Exciting Finish For Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress

Why Isn’t ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Favored To Win Best Picture?

Raising awareness

New York Lights Up The Sky To Fight Problem Gambling

Michigan Attorney Becomes Voice For State’s Most Desperate Gambling Addicts

Putting the ‘no’ in ‘iCasino’

Another Indiana iGaming Bill Fails To Make It Out Of Committee

Sen. Addabbo: Time Is Running Out To Legalize Online Casino In New York This Year

Whole lotto hypocrisy

Politicians Poke At Sports Betting Ads But Pander To Lotteries And Their Cute Groundhogs

Flutter antes up again

Flutter Paying $4 Million To Settle PokerStars’ Alleged Bribes To Russian Consultants

A new spin on online casino

Wheel Of Fortune Becomes First Branded Online Casino In North America

First numbers in from The Temporary

The Temporary by American Place generated slightly more than $3 million in casino revenue in its first 12 days of operation in February, according to figures released by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) this week.

The Waukegan-based venue, located close to the Wisconsin border and 40 miles north of Chicago, had just over 40,000 admissions following its Feb. 17 grand opening. Roughly $2.6 million of the revenue was generated via slots, while $365,000 came from table games.

The appropriately named property is the second temporary casino to open in Illinois. Full House Resorts is on the clock to open its permanent casino nearby within three years.

Hard Rock‘s temporary casino, which has been open since November 2021 and exclusively offers slots, reported $5.1 million in revenue for February. Bally’s, which is currently having its casino license reviewed by the IGB, is expected to open a temporary venue in the River North neighborhood of Chicago this summer if all approvals are given.

— Chris Altruda

Slight February fade in Maryland

The six casinos in Maryland collectively saw a year-over-year revenue decline 3.6% from February 2022 to February 2023, with five of the six individual casinos producing less revenue this February than they had 12 months earlier.

Total casino revenue in the state came in at $157.1 million last month, producing $66.9 in tax revenue and $48.7 million in contributions to the Education Trust Fund.

As usual, MGM National Harbor was the top revenue generator, though its $65.6 million represented the slightest of declines, 0.4%, year over year. The lone Maryland casino trending in the right direction was Ocean Downs, which improved 3.7% over February 2022 to $6.8 million.

— Eric Raskin

More from around the gaming biz

CIG CITY: Nevada casino smoking ban not likely as others consider [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

NO BALONEY, HERE’S ‘THE CONEY’: Coney Island casino and resort: First look at name, renderings [FOX5NY]

DID THEY TAKE THE TRASH YET?: $1 million winning lottery ticket spent the night in a bag of trash [UPI]

‘SKILL GAMES’ PLAY ON, FOR NOW: Proposal to ban slot-like machines stalls in Kentucky House [Associated Press]

THE ARK BENDS UPWARD: Revenue up almost 9% at Arkansas casinos in 2022 [Arkansas Online]

MACHINE ERROR: Man claims casino refused massive payout on slot machine jackpot [Albuquerque Journal]

MARCH HANDICAPPING MADNESS: National Horseplayers Championship set for Las Vegas [BloodHorse]

Image: Blundell Design

Author: Ryan Gonzales