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State of the Union: PA, MGM, Maine and more

Insight | Analysis

This week’s State of the Union, in partnership with Segev LLP, covers a new record month for New Jersey sportsbooks and a major increase in gambling revenue in Pennsylvania.

Elsewhere, Maine’s hopes for legal betting were dashed, while MGM Resorts announced the departure of chief executive Jim Murren.

Pennsylvania sports betting revenue soars in January
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has reported a 16.9% year-on-year rise in gambling revenue for January, aided by growing contributions from igaming and sports betting.

Total revenue across all regulated verticals, comprising land-based table games and slots, online casino, sports betting, fantasy sports and video gaming terminals, rose to $302.8m. This came predominantly from the state’s land-based market, with slots accounting for $190.3m of the total, up 5.8%, and table games $72.6m, down 2.5%.

Sports betting, in a month in which the National Football League playoffs took place, saw total handle rise 1.7% month-over-month to $348.4m. This was largely wagered online, which accounted for $308.6m of total handle, a 3.8% advance on December 2019. Land-based stakes, meanwhile, fell 11.8% to $39.8m.

January’s sports betting revenue, after promotional credits, amounted to $22.8m, double December’s $11.4m take.

MGM revenue increases beyond $12bn in 2019
Revenue at MGM resorts increased 9.6% year-on-year while the sale of the Bellagio resort boosted profits as the operator continues to pivot its business model away from property holdings.

However, the operator withdrew its 2020 financial targets due to issues in Asia.

Of MGM’s $12.90bn in revenue, casino made up the majority, at $6.52bn, up 5.0% year-on-year. Hotel rooms were the second-largest source of revenue at $2.32bn, while foot and beverages brought in $2.22bn, entertainment retail and other sources $1.48bn and reimbursed costs $436.9m.

Maine sports betting bill fails as Governor veto sustained
Maine looks set to remain without legal sports betting for the foreseeable future after the House sustained Governor Janet Mills’s veto of a bill seeking to permit sports wagering in the state.

The House was asked to vote when faced with the question: “Shall this Bill become a law notwithstanding the objections of the Governor?” Though the House voted 85-57 for the bill to progress, it did not secure the two-thirds vote required in order to pass.

The vote, which took place with one excused, two vacant and seven being absent, means the veto was sustained and the bill will now not become law. Legislative Document 553 is now listed as ‘DEAD’ by the State of Maine Legislature.

Sports betting amendment passes SD senate
A bill to amend the constitution of South Dakota in order to allow sports betting has passed the state senate by a vote of 24-10.

The bill, SJR501, was introduced by state senator Bob Ewing and passed by the local Government committee on February 7 by a 5-2 vote before passing in the senate on February 11.

The state constitution of South Dakota currently prohibits gambling, except for roulette, keno, craps, “limited” card games and slot machines, provided there are conducted within the city limits of Deadwood, a town in the Black Hills Forest close to the Wyoming border. Senator Ewing’s constituency includes the city of Deadwood and most of Lawrence County, of which Deadwood is the county seat.

ALC hires Chris Keevill as new chief executive
Canadian provincial lottery operator the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) has announced Chris Keevill as its new chief executive officer, effective 1 May.

Keevill, currently chief executive of creative agency Colour, will replace Brent Scrimshaw, who has led the lottery – which serves the provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador – since 2011.

Scrimshaw announced that he was to step down from the role in September last year, having spearheaded significant investment in technology during his tenure. He will remain in place until 1 May in order to ensure a smooth transition to the new leadership.

MGM on the hunt for new CEO as Murren announces departure

MGM Resorts International has announced that its chairman and chief executive officer Jim Murren is to step down, bringing to an end almost 12 years in charge of the operator.

Murren was appointed chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts in 2008, having worked for the business since 1998, and will serve in his current roles until a successor is appointed.

He is described as having had a transformational impact on both MGM and on Las Vegas, having been an early advocate for online gaming, then playing an instrumental role in bringing professional sports to the city. MGM noted he was heavily involved in the building of Las Vegas’ first sports stadium, the T-Mobile Arena.

Mississippi sports betting revenue up to $4.6m in January

The Mississippi Gaming Commission has revealed that sports wagering revenue increased 64.5% year-on-year to $4.6m in January, while the state’s handle also climbed by $10.0m.

Revenue was up from $2.8m in January of last year, and was also 31.4% higher than the $3.5m posted in the final month of 2019.

Consumers in Mississippi wagered a total of $45.2m on sports last month, which was 28.4% more than the $35.2m spent in January 2019.

Alabama governor creates gambling policy study group
Kay Ivey, governor of Alabama, has issued an executive order to create a “study group” to investigate the effects of gambling reform in the state.

The Governor’s Study Group on Gambling Policy will be tasked with submitting a report to the governor, state legislature and public by the end of the year.

Alaska Governor proposes new Commission to diversify gambling
Alaska’s Governor Mike Dunleavy has introduced legislation to establish a new state lottery corporation, with the aim of expanding legal gambling options across the state.

Senate Bill 188, and the accompanying House Bill 246, both set out plans to form the Alaska Lottery Corporation, which would have the ability to organize, operate and regulate a state lottery.

Loto Quebec revenue falls in Q3 as key verticals struggle

Loto Quebec’s revenue fell 11.1% to $685.6m as a lack of larger jackpots slashed lottery revenue, while revenue from other verticals also declined in the quarter ended 31 December, the third of the operator’s fiscal year.

Of Loto Quebec’s $685.8m in revenue, $247.8m came from casinos, down 5.0% year-on-year. Gaming establishments (VLTs in bars and bingo halls) brought in $225.6m, down 8.2%, while revenue from lotteries – the largest driver of revenue in Q3 of 2018 – fell 19.5% to $219.2m.

Washington sports betting bill clears House

The Washington House of Representatives has voted through a bill that would legalize land-based and online sports betting in the state, with the tribal-focused legislation now set to move forward to the Senate.

House Bill 2638 cleared the House by a vote of 83-14, and is now with the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee for further debate and discussion.

Connecticut to consider new sports wagering bills

Lawmakers in Connecticut are to run the rule over several new bills that would legalise sports betting in the state, though the legislation is dependent on Governor Ned Lamont reaching agreements with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes.

Sponsored by Representative Joseph Gresko, House Bill 5168 would allow both tribes – currently the only entities licensed to offer gambling in the state – and other operators to apply for a new license to offer sports wagering in Connecticut.

Wyoming to consider online sports betting bill

Lawmakers in Wyoming are to assess a new bill that aims to legalize online and mobile sports wagering in the US state.

Sponsored by Representative Tom Walters and Senator Ogden Driskill, House Bill 0225 was introduced in the Wyoming House yesterday (February 12).

DraftKings signs trio of partnerships with NBA franchises

DraftKings has signed new partnership agreements with a trio of National Basketball Association (NBA) teams.

The deals see it become a sports betting partner of the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers, and a daily fantasy sports partner of the Boston Celtics.