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, horse wagering, and more. So pull up a chair, crunch the numbers, and slide forward another stack of chips.
One lucky L.A. raker
Exactly one winning ticket was sold for this week’s massive Powerball drawing. The purchase was made in downtown Los Angeles, and Kobe Bryant’s latter-career Lakers jersey number, 24, came up twice, as both the “Powerball” number and as one of the other five winning numbers.
Coincidence or fate?
If you’re trying to match all-time Lakers to the other numbers — 7, 10, 11, and 13 — your respective best options are probably Lamar Odom, Norm Nixon, Karl Malone, and Wilt Chamberlain. (Not a bad starting five, honestly.) So, was the winning ticket sold to a Lakers fan? Did that ticket buyer hand-select their own numbers based on love for Kobe and other notable players who wore the purple and gold?
Nobody knows yet, as the winner hasn’t come forward. The ticket was sold at Las Palmitas Mini Market, and according to the New York Post, the family that owns the store believes the winner to be an elderly “Hispanic lady.”
Whoever won, and however they landed on the lucky numbers, they claimed the sixth-largest U.S. lottery jackpot ever, at $1.08 billion (exceeding the payout expected heading into the week). The winner has up to a year to claim the prize, and to decide whether they want approximately $37 million a year for 29 years or a lump sum of $558.1 million (which will be a mere $325 million or so after taxes).
Various other folks collected smaller prizes from the most mainstream-accepted form of gambling, including seven tickets that matched five numbers and won a little under $450K each.
But the consistent winners in this lottery game, as always, are the states running them. The New York State Gaming Commission put out a press release Thursday touting some key numbers, including the three-month Powerball run between jackpots producing $54.9 million in “economic benefit for New York.” That breaks down as $8 million in commissions for New York retailers and $46.9 million in funding for New York public schools.
The record for largest-ever Powerball jackpot remains the $2.04 billion hit last November, also in California. In that instance, the winning numbers were 10 (Norm Nixon again), 33 (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), 41 (Elden Campbell), 47 (never worn by a Laker), and 56 (also never worn by a Laker), with a Powerball of 10 (Norm Nixon yet again).
Our highly scientific takeaway: If you insist on playing the lottery, buy your Powerball tickets in California and strongly consider paying tribute to Kobe Bryant and Norm Nixon with your numbers.
This week on Gamble On …
Every Thursday, US Bets drops a new episode of the Gamble On podcast, and this week’s welcomed Rob Coakley, a fantasy sports expert with a side passion for poker who went on the thrilling — and exhausting — run of a lifetime deep into this summer’s World Series of Poker Main Event:
He made it to Day 6 of the WSOP Main Event and finished in the top 150 … and @KingCoakley stayed hot after getting eliminated, as he told the fellas on #GambleOn: https://t.co/an0fj7sa8u pic.twitter.com/APhmgWu1Lr
— US Bets (@US_Bets) July 21, 2023
Poker boom 2.0?
Tar heels and spinning reels
What’s new in revenue
Ocean State making waves
Top pair: Patinkin and Spader
Court of opinions
More fixed odds, less California racing
As it prepares to host Kentucky Derby champion Mage at this Saturday’s TVG.com Haskell Stakes, Monmouth Park and its wagering partner, BetMakers, have announced the addition of Penn National Race Course to the growing list of tracks that can be wagered on using fixed odds on the MonmouthBets app.
Proponents of fixed odds have argued that they have more appeal to traditional sports bettors than parimutuel pools, where prices can move right up until a race starts, but state regulators and industry forces outside of New Jersey have been slow to warm to the newfangled form of horse wagering.
On the opposite coast, the Stronach Group (aka 1/ST) announced that it would be shuttering Northern California’s last remaining racetrack, Golden Gate Fields, at the conclusion of the year in order to focus on improving field sizes and the like at Santa Anita Park in the Los Angeles area, which it also owns.
Santa Anita will host the Breeders’ Cup in early November, and on Thursday it was reported that, for the first time in the event’s 40-year history, the Breeders’ Cup Classic would be the third-to-last race on Saturday’s card instead of occupying its traditional closing slot. Why? So NBC can show the Classic before switching to college football coverage at 7 p.m. Eastern as part of its new “Big Ten Saturday Night.”
Horse racing may be the so-called sport of kings, but in the U.S. of A., the throne only makes room for pigskins and pads.
— Mike Seely
More from around the gambling biz
THE HOUSE (OF THE DRAGON) ALWAYS WINS: Scientific Games reaches multi-year agreement for Game of Thrones lottery games [CDC Gaming Reports]
COWBOY UP: Vegas Vic fully lit again after complaints on sign’s condition [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
STAY AND PLAY: Hollywood Casino Columbus operator aims to start building Ohio’s first casino hotel by fall [The Columbus Dispatch]
THINK PINK: Barbie movie taking over Circa Resort [KTNV.com]
ATOP THE TOTEM POLE: Tribal gaming revenues rise nearly 5% and hit record high in fiscal 2022 [CDC Gaming Reports]
LET’S GO TO THE MALL: Casino planned for former Sears at Pheasant Lane Mall [New Hampshire Union Leader]
NEWSFLASH — THERE’S MONEY IN ICASINO: States find big bucks in virtual casino games [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
JERSEY GIRL: Atlantic City’s main casino union, where most workers are women, is finally led by one [Associated Press]
Image: Blundell Design