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.
Why do 44 states hate money?
This was April revenue release week in the major legal iCasino states, and here is the overly simplistic takeaway: Online casino remains in a growth pattern with no signs of approaching its leveling-off point.
Only six states regulate the vertical as of now, which leaves 44 states, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico, that haven’t yet legalized. Surely they have their reasons. Some of them may even be good reasons. Money isn’t everything, after all. It can’t buy you love.
But if it could buy you love, that would mean we have 46 jurisdictions turning their backs on easy access to love.
Across the board, the online casino states all made more money in April ’23 than they did in April ’22.
Michigan has ascended to the top of the iCasino mountain most months, and its gross revenue haul last month was a 20.4% improvement over the previous April. In New Jersey, the O.G. iCasino champ, revenue was up 16.3% year-over-year in April. In Pennsylvania, the total was up 19.1% over April ’22, and though the Keystone State is consistently No. 3 in monthly revenue, it remained tops in tax revenue from iCasino due to a much higher tax rate, with the state collecting $58.3 million in April.
The other three states with legal mobile casino gambling — Connecticut, West Virginia, and Delaware — aren’t cranking out revenue on the same level as Michigan, Jersey, and Pennsylvania, due to smaller populations and fewer operators. But they each saw significant growth over their April ’22 numbers — especially West Virginia, where revenue grew about 34% year to year.
The six iCasino states generated total revenue of $475.7 million for April, up 14.4% over April 2022. Yep, there’s a whole lotta money to be made in online casino. And it’s just going to keep trending upward, whether legislators in the other 46 jurisdictions take notice or not.
This week on Gamble On …
Every Thursday, US Bets drops a new episode of the Gamble On podcast, and this week’s welcomed Establish the Run co-founder Adam Levitan to talk about the future of fantasy, the present of parlays, and his unlikely role as the Dear Abby of DFS:
"People are fascinated by thinking about life in the same way that you would think about gambling. I can't stop. It's a real problem. As I'm walking around every day, I'm calculating the EV on my time."
— @adamlevitan on the latest episode of #GambleOn https://t.co/pUCeKseOky pic.twitter.com/dwRTbn15ck
— US Bets (@US_Bets) May 19, 2023
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Another record-breaking revenue quarter
Eighteen of 30 commercial gambling markets set record revenue highs in the first quarter of 2023, paving the way for an eighth consecutive record-breaking quarter for the industry.
According to the American Gaming Association, revenue across legal gaming states in the U.S. reached $16.6 billion from Jan. 1-March 31. Those numbers reflect combined revenue for retail gambling, online gambling, and legal sports betting. During that period, new digital sports betting markets in Ohio (Jan. 1) and Massachusetts (March 10) launched.
The AGA’s revenue tracker shows a 15.5% increase compared to Q1 2022, with sports betting revenue up 70.1% and iGaming up 22.7%.
— Jill R. Dorson
Three’s company on Virginia casino scene
The Virginia Lottery released April casino revenue figures this week, sharing revenue data from Hard Rock Bristol and Rivers Casino Portsmouth. Gambling revenue from the two casinos totaled $35.4 million, with Rivers Casino accounting for $21.3 million of that total. Slots accounted for $25.1 million worth of revenue, with table games providing the other $10.3 million.
Virginia received $6.4 million in taxes from April casino gaming revenue.
Soon, Virginia Lottery casino revenue reports will include data from a third property, as Caesars Danville opened its 40,000-square-foot temporary location Monday. The temporary casino includes eight sportsbook kiosks, 740 slot machines, 28 electronic table games, and 25 live table games. The permanent facility is projected to open in late 2024.
— Bennett Conlin
Maine, Rhode Island bills making little progress
As Maine lawmakers meet for a special session that ends June 1, Rep. Ben Collings continues to hope his tribal casino bill will move forward, according to the Portland Press-Herald. The bill would allow tribes to build casinos outside of Indian Country, with the exception of two counties where there are currently commercial casinos.
According to Collings, the bill won’t be brought up until after the legislature acts on a tribal sovereignty proposal. Maine’s tribes do not have the same level of sovereignty as those in other states due to the 1980 Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act, which means they have been unable to capitalize on the expanding retail and digital gaming markets.
Maine’s legislature granted the tribes exclusivity to online sports betting last year, as a step toward rebuilding fractured trust between the state and the tribes.
In Rhode Island, an online gambling bill brought by Senate President Dominic Ruggerio has made little progress since it was introduced in January. Last week, the Senate Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs Committee recommended the bill be laid over for more study. Rhode Island’s legislative session ends June 30.
— Jill R. Dorson
Main Event Maynia is here
The 54th annual World Series of Poker begins May 30, but for some, the march to the Main Event starts this weekend. WSOP organizers are doing all they can to improve their chances of breaking the record, set in 2006, of 8,773 entries in the $10,000 championship event, and one part of that plan is what they’re calling Main Event Maynia this Saturday and Sunday.
This weekend sees satellite tournaments at live poker rooms at Caesars properties and partner casinos in North America, South America, Europe, and Africa, awarding seats (plus a travel stipend to Las Vegas) for the Main Event. Buy-ins to the Main Event Maynia tourneys start as low as $140, while those willing to spend more to skip a step can do so for $1,175.
In the U.S., host casinos this weekend include Harrah’s Cherokee, Horseshoe Las Vegas, Horseshoe Tunica, Horseshoe St. Louis, Harrah’s Pompano Beach, Turning Stone Casino, Hard Rock Tulsa, Grand Victoria Casino, Horseshoe Council Bluffs, and Thunder Valley Casino Resort.
— Eric Raskin
More from around the gambling biz
LET’S SEE SOME ID: B.C. casinos will require all who enter to show government ID [The Globe and Mail]
LOOT ME TONIGHT IN ATLANTIC CITY: Atlantic City casino-hotels accused in scheme to boost room rates [Reuters]
NATURAL EVOLUTION: Galaxy Gaming reaches agreement to provide table games for Evolution Group [CDC Gaming Reports]
DICEY OPERATION: Gambler’s claim of illegal dice must be investigated, court rules [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
PREAK PERFORMANCE: A techy, hip, and bold new idea is revolutionizing horse racing [The Athletic]
NEXT OF KINDRED?: Kindred Group CEO Henrik Tjarnstrom resigns with immediate effect [EGR]
MADDEN SCRAMBLE: Stockton to host esports tourney featuring former NFL players as part of North To Shore Festival on June 10 [The Press of Atlantic City]
Image: Blundell Design