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.
Four looking to score
Will 2023 be that breakout year for online casino legalization we’ve been waiting for? That’s hard to say, but it’s at least shaping up as the breakout year for the introduction of online casino legislation.
It has been a full decade since regulated iCasino became an option for state lawmakers to consider, and quite a few years of that decade passed without a single elected official anywhere drafting a bill. But this year, it’s been like the moments immediately preceding a football game in Buffalo. (Ya know — lots of Bills introduced. Try to keep up, OK?)
The granddaddy of all potential mobile casino states is New York, where an online poker bill was introduced two Wednesdays ago and a casino counterpart is expected any minute. A day after that New York poker bill dropped, Indiana officially became the first state to see an iCasino bill filed in 2023. This was not a surprise. The Hoosier State tried to get in on the online casino action in both 2021 and 2022, and it was presumed to be a race between Indiana and Illinois for who would be first out of the starting blocks this year.
Indiana won that race, and now Illinois can’t even come in second or third place.
This Wednesday, Maryland made its move, with Sens. Ronald Watson and Nancy King introducing the state’s first online casino bill. There is no chance of actual, legal iCasino gambling in Maryland this year, however. All that this legislation could accomplish is getting online casino on the November 2024 ballot for the public to vote on.
The New Hampshire Senate has also introduced an iCasino bill, but it too wouldn’t take effect this year. If the legislation passes, it proposes a start date of Jan. 1, 2024.
So chances are decent that 2023 will end with the same number of states with iCasino up and running, as was the case at the beginning of the year. But legislation is in the air all over the place. The breakout year is coming soon — and it could be a huge breakout indeed if the trend of the past couple of weeks continues.
This week on Gamble On …
Every Thursday, US Bets drops a new episode of the Gamble On podcast, and this week’s welcomed professional sports bettor and Unabated co-founder Rufus Peabody for a conversation covering everything from Buddhism to questionable college football lines to handling the “logistical nightmare” of trying to get millions of dollars down on the Super Bowl:
MAJOR BREAKING NEWS (yes, this merits ALL CAPS!! And multiple exclamation points!!) from the latest #GambleOn podcast about @RufusPeabody's Super Bowl betting plans: https://t.co/BjWZMKRlDD pic.twitter.com/pULYYSN7SJ
— US Bets (@US_Bets) January 27, 2023
The latest NY retail casino buzz
Report: NYC Casino Proposal Near Penn Station Emerges As Deadline Nears
Shroom with a view
Can A Derivative Of Magic Mushrooms Help Cure Gambling Addiction?
Rev up the engine
Michigan Online Casino Revenue Hits Record $152.8 Million In December
Connecticut Tops $1 Billion In Single-Month Online Casino Handle To Cap 2022
Illinois Casinos Post $114.4 Million In Revenue For December
It runs in the family …
Suing BetMGM From Prison? In Eddie Antar’s Family, That’s Not Crazy
Pro Poker Player Gets 12 Months Probation For Running Illegal Poker Room
You never forget your second time
Rivers Casino Portsmouth Becomes Second Virginia Casino To Open
One for the aged
Pegasus World Cup Boasts Competitive Field, But Lacks Star Power
In 2020, when the beloved cash game series High Stakes Poker returned after a decade-long hiatus, Gabe Kaplan heard that phrase that has followed him his whole career: welcome back.
But now it’s time to say goodbye again, as the 77-year-old actor, comedian, and poker player is retiring from his role in the HSP commentary booth.
“I had a blast doing High Stakes Poker, but the time has come for me to hang it up and empty my locker,” Kaplan said in a press release. “I want to thank [co-host] A.J. [Benza], [producer] Mori [Eskandani], and all the staff, players, dealers, and viewers. We had 16 years of good times and now memories.”
“Working with Gabe Kaplan was a highlight of my career,” said Benza. “Playing the straight man to his unbelievable comedic timing was precious. Not to mention learning poker at his knee. We had a great run and that’s why you never bet against two guys from Brooklyn.”
Kaplan’s replacement will be announced next week. In the meantime, here’s one last memorable hand he and Benza called together:
Ema Zajmovic (@EmaZajmo) and Matt Hanks played a RIDICULOUS hand in the premiere of High Stakes Poker Season 10.
Zajmovic gets all the money in with top set against just top pair.
You won't believe what happens next.
📺 – Watch the premiere here: https://t.co/TxrRsI0KML pic.twitter.com/biAsua8cwU
— PokerGO (@PokerGO) January 26, 2023
A (common)wealth of casinos
Pennsylvania probably isn’t going to catch Nevada in the land-based casino count anytime soon, but the Keystone State remains in expansion mode 19 years after slot machine gambling was first allowed there. This week was a busy one on the Pennsylvania casino growth front, as the state’s 17th brick-and-mortar property opened and what figures to be its 18th took a major step forward.
Parx Casino Shippensburg had its “soft opening” Thursday, with a grand opening scheduled for next Friday. The flagship Parx Casino sits in the Philadelphia suburbs, and this new “mini-casino” is about 150 miles to the west.
Before long, that Shippensburg property will have somewhat local competition to the north in the State College area, as another mini-casino — what would be Pennsylvania’s fifth — received licensing approval Wednesday. At the earliest, that casino near Penn State University’s campus could open in 2024.
Just another 400 or so casinos and Pennsylvania will be breathing down Nevada’s neck.
More from around the gaming biz
A DANGEROUS BLUFF: Pro poker player admits he sent powder in hoax directed at Gaming Commission [Times Union]
TEXAS NO-STEP? A regulatory feud threatens to end thoroughbred racing in Texas [Texas Monthly]
TRIBAL CASINOS UNMASKED: Navajo Nation rescinds mask mandate on vast reservation, including casinos [CDC Gaming Reports]
IMPROVING THAT Q RATING: Plans unveiled for $75 million renovation of Q Casino [Telegraph Herald]
THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN: University of Houston conducts survey to see if Texans back major changes to state’s gambling laws [ABC13]
CASINOS ACCUSED OF PLAYING JACK HIGH: Las Vegas Strip hotels colluded, inflated room rates, lawsuit claims [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
NOT PUSHING HER LUCK: She’s 105, doesn’t gamble, and found a second family at Reno casino [Reno Gazette Journal]
Image: Blundell Design