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State of the Union: Las Vegas, Colorado, Detroit and more

Insight | Analysis

This week’s State of the Union, in partnership with Segev LLP, sees casinos in Nevada and beyond reopen, while the latest sports betting figures come in from Iowa, Oregon and – for the first time – Colorado.

Operators begin to reopen Las Vegas casinos

A number of US casino operators have begun to reopen their properties in Las Vegas, Nevada, after a period of temporary closure due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Casinos were forced to close on March 17 as the state sought to slow the spread of Covid-19, but Nevada governor Steve Sisolak last month set a target date of June 4 for casinos to resume activities in the state.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) also provided new guidelines for reopening, including that casinos must limit the number of players in their facilities and at gaming tables in order to prevent transmission of the virus.

Colorado sportsbook handle hits $25.5m in first month

Colorado’s Department of Revenue has revealed that total handle for the state’s first month of legal wagering reached $25.5m.

The unaudited figure for May has been revealed ahead of a more comprehensive breakdown of revenue for the month, expected to be released in mid-June.

All stakes were placed via mobile, with the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos closed since March 17 as a result of novel coronavirus (Covid-19). Four operators launched on May 1, the first day from which bets could be taken, with six licensees currently active.

Detroit casinos limited to 15% capacity upon reopening

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) has approved minimum reopening guidelines for Detroit’s three commercial casinos, which will limit each property to 15% of legal capacity and ban smoking on the gaming floor.

A date for reopening is yet to be finalized, after the venues closed from March 16 as Michigan went into lockdown to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

While this date will be determined by an executive order from Governor Gretchen Whitmer, public health and safety protocols have now been issued, giving an idea of what the venues will look like once they reopen.

Controversial OK betting compact approved by DOI

The controversial tribal gaming compacts that give two Oklahoma tribes rights to offer sports betting in the state have been approved by the US Department of the Interior (DOI), according to state Governor Kevin Stitt.

The Class III gaming compacts, which were struck with the Otoe-Missouri Tribe and the Comanche Nation in April, allowed each operator to offer betting, poker, roulette, slot machines, and blackjack at their gaming facilities.

Stitt said he was “extremely pleased” that the compacts have been approved by the DOI.

Oregon Lottery sees betting handle and revenue rise in May

The Oregon Lottery’s SBTech-powered Scoreboard sportsbook app has begun its recovery from the sporting shutdown caused by novel coronavirus (Covid-19), with revenue and handle both rising in May.

Turnover for the Scoreboard app rose 64.5% month-on-month to $7.3m, aided by strong consumer interest in table tennis and mixed martial arts (MMA).

Table tennis, which has risen to the fore amid the suspension of other popular sports due to the pandemic, accounted for $3.8m of stakes, with customers placing 76,822 bets on the sport.

Iowa betting market begins recovery in May

The latest figures from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission show the state’s betting market recovering from its April struggles in May, with revenue and handle both growing month-over-month.

While the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos remaining closed throughout May as a result of novel coronavirus (Covid-19), amounts wagered via mobile betting apps grew significantly, rising from April’s all-time low of $1.6m to $7.0m.

Customers won back $6.5m during the month, leaving revenue of $501,062, a 233.3% improvement from April’s $150,331 total. This was generated almost entirely online, with the total reduced marginally by a loss from the retail channel.

NBA Board of Governors approves format for season’s restart

Yesterday (4 June) the National Basketball Association’s Board of Governors approved a competitive format for the restart of the 2019-20 season.

This marks the first formal step on the path to resuming play in the NBA, which has been suspended since March due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) are working together to build a comprehensive plan for the return of the season. Both say they are working with infectious disease specialists, public health experts and government officials to establish a rigorous program to prevent and mitigate the risk related to Covid-19.

Smarkets enters US with Full House launch in Colorado

Betting exchange operator Smarkets has rolled out its SBK mobile sportsbook app in Colorado via a partnership with casino operator Full House Resorts – marking its entrance into the US market.

Players in the state can now download SBK, which is powered by the Smarkets betting exchange, and access a range of sports wagering options.

The SBK app also features an interface and community-led social network where users can post bets and follow tips from others players.


DoubleDown Interactive files for $100m US IPO

DoubleDown Interactive, the social casino giant majority owned by South Korea’s DoubleU Games, is looking to raise up to $100m from an initial public offering on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

In a filing with the Korea Stock Exchange (KRX), DoubleU said the offering would provide funding to support strategic acquisitions, as well as repaying financial investors.

Newgioco eyes US expansion with new subsidiary

Newgioco Group has established a new US-facing operating subsidiary with the aim of expanding its sports betting operations throughout the country.

Elys Gameboard Technologies will run as a wholly owned subsidiary of the business, with Newgioco to code its Elys betting platform for US certification.

MLS to return with new tournament in July

Major League Soccer (MLS) will return from a suspension caused by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, for a new tournament starting on 8 July that will form part of the 2020 MLS season.

The MLS Is Back Tournament, like the remainder of the NBA season, will be held at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney World Resort in Florida.

Illinois suspends in-person registration rule for betting

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed an executive order to temporarily relax rules that require consumers in the state to register in-person in order to access online sports betting services.

The state opened its regulated sports wagering market on March 11 this year, after Pritzker signed into law the Sports Wagering Act in July 2019.

The bill stated that for the first 18 months of the market, customers must sign up in-person for an online sports wagering account at a licensed venue. However, this has not been possible since mid-March due to the closure of all casinos as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

MGM Resorts to reopen Aria, Luxor & Mandalay Bay for summer

MGM Resorts International has announced plans to reopen three more of its Las Vegas casinos in the coming weeks as the business emerges from the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) enforced shutdown.

Under the proposal, Luxor and The Shoppes at Mandalay Bay Place will reopen on June 25 at 10 am PST.

CDI reopens Derby City Gaming, purchases HRMs from IGT

Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) has reopened its Derby City Gaming property in Louisville, Kentucky, and agreed a deal to acquire 1,250 historical racing machines (HRMs) from International Game Technology (IGT).

Derby City Gaming, like all CDI properties, will operate in line with the business’s new ‘CDI 360 Degree Approach to Safety’, aimed at protecting employees and customers during the ongoing novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

MGM to reopen Excalibur in Las Vegas on 11 June

MGM Resorts is set to reopen its Excalibur Hotel & Casino property in Las Vegas on 11 June, the operator’s fifth property in the state to reopen.

All casinos in the US closed in March as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. After other states including Louisiana and Mississippi allowed casinos to reopen in May, Nevada casinos opened their doors again on 4 June.

Century Casinos reopens WV Mountaineer resort

Century Casinos has reopened its Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort in West Virginia after the venue closed in March due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The operator said that prior to reopening, it instituted “comprehensive and state-specific safety and social distancing protocols as directed by the West Virginia Lottery” before reopening on 5 June.