Accusations of duplicity surround the Chicago casino license, which some are calling sour grapes from losing bidders.
The Bulletin Board
NEWS: Bally’s winning bid for a Chicago casino is allegedly under local and federal investigation.
NEWS: New York lawmakers lay out the case for legalizing online casinos.
VIEWS: Another poker scandal, or why poker isn’t legal nationwide.
NEWS: Pennsylvania court rules that skill games are not gambling.
NEWS: BetMGM interstate online poker “imminent” per presentation.
AROUND the WATERCOOLER: The average Joe’s opinion of sports betting ads.
STRAY THOUGHTS: 5 things list.
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Chicago Shenanigans? Bally’s Winning Casino Bid Scrutinized
Federal and local authorities are investigating Bally’s Chicago casino license following complaints from losing bidders.
Neither investigation is confirmed, but according to Crain’s Chicago, Alderman Brian Hopkins confirmed the existence of the federal inquiry by the US attorney’s office.
An investigation by Chicago Inspector General Deborah Witzburg is also reportedly afoot.
“A spokeswoman for Bally’s told Crain’s the regional casino operator isn’t aware of any investigations, but there is speculation that both the federal and local inquiries have been ongoing for several months.”
Former Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration called any talk of an investigation sour grapes from losing bidders.
Despite the city’s long history of corruption, this is not a uniquely Chicago experience. Casino bids are hotly contested, and rumors and misconduct allegations surround virtually every major project.
The Massachusetts bidding process turned into a multi-year legal ordeal. It even brought about the resignation of Chairman Stephen Crosby, who was accused of bias in selecting Wynn as one of the licensees.
Crosby denied all allegations but stepped down to eliminate what had become an increasingly large distraction. “I simply cannot let my involvement in these critical deliberations be used by others to hamper the commission’s ability to do its work or to undermine the confidence of the public in that work,” Crosby said.
The accusations flying in Chicago and previously in Massachusetts are just a taste of what New York has in store when it issues its downstate casino licenses.
Key NY Lawmakers Call For Legal Online Gambling
Speaking of New York, State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow teamed up to write an op-ed in support of legalizing online casinos, poker, and lottery in the Empire State.
“As we prepare to enter a new legislative session with COVID-era funding from the federal government expiring, we face a looming budget deficit of great proportions,” they wrote. “The state comptroller has pegged the deficit at $4.3 billion for next year and $8 billion for 2025.”
The duo also made the non-financial case for online gambling, saying, “A legal mobile gaming market allows us to prohibit underage players from accessing gaming platforms and provide resources and support for problem gaming – something the illegal market will never do.”
The op-ed is a good sign that the two lawmakers are on the same page, but as the gatekeepers in their respective chambers, it raises the question, who are they trying to convince?
The most likely intended target is Gov. Kathy Hochul. Another possibility is Assemblymembers, who, unlike their Senate colleagues, have been less willing to embrace online gambling.
I previously reported on other roadblocks New York faces, including the New York City casino licenses, which will dominate most of the gambling discussion.
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Marked Cards are Just the Latest Poker Controversy
Poker continues to shoot itself in the foot with scandals, cheating allegations, and what many onlookers would describe as outright degeneracy. The latest is alleged marked decks in ultra-high-stakes home games. In an update to the original story, PokerNews posted a statement from the accused on Tuesday.
These scandals are a double-edged sword. The things that make the game so interesting and provide it with such a colorful history are the very things that hamper legalization.
While the scandals rarely have anything to do with legal, regulated poker (live or online), they have a guilt-by-association aspect. Industry types understand the difference, but to the average person, it’s a distinction without a difference. Poker is filled with cheaters.
The late Sheldon Adelson long looked down on poker players and not because he felt they were cheating (not that he would put it past them); instead, Adelson would question the morals of poker pros.
During a keynote address at G2E 2014, Adelson said of poker pros waiting for their online opponents:
“They could be flying high and out of control of themselves, and what are they going to do with the poker players that are expert at playing poker. They’re just gonna clean everybody out? Like they do in the poker clubs and various casinos.”
In 2016, I sat next to New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow during the NCLGS lunch break and chatted online poker. As I wrote at the time:
“According to Pretlow, his overarching concern is the potential for players to collude.
“Pretlow remains unconvinced online poker operators can detect this form of cheating based on the information he has seen and received. According to Pretlow, online poker operators have touted their collusion detection software.”
Reputation is one of the hurdles poker will need to overcome before it is widely legal in the US.
PA Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Skill Games
Skill games have scored a victory in Pennsylvania, with the Commonwealth Court affirming a Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas ruling that skill games are not gambling.
According to the 7-0 ruling, they are not illegal because the games are based on hand-eye coordination rather than chance. Skill games is a catch-all term for slot-style machines with some skill component.
Of note, in Pennsylvania, skill game manufacturers want to be regulated (legislation has been introduced but is opposed by licensed casinos and problem gambling advocates).
“We’re in a unique position where we have a legal product — the court has said so — and we’re saying, ‘Please come tax us. Please come regulate us.’ It’s not something you hear very often in Harrisburg, but we’re hoping to get some action,” said Mike Barley, chief of public relations for skill game manufacturer Pace-O-Matic.
The Virginia legislature prohibited skill games in 2021, and the State Supreme Court recently upheld the ban.
In Kentucky, a judge rejected a motion to stop a new state law prohibiting skill games but added that the case has merit.
BetMGM Is Ready for Interstate Online Poker
A second poker story today.
As reported by PokerFuse, BetMGM has publicly stated, “Poker shared liquidity launch imminent.” Well, BetMGM wrote it, as it appeared in one of the company’s slides during an investor’s day presentation.
So what exactly does that mean? Great question. The answer is we don’t really know. That said, I have some guesses.
BetMGM has online poker offerings in two states that are currently part of the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA): New Jersey and Michigan. Further, it has the ability to launch online poker in two other MSIGA states, Nevada and the recently announced member West Virginia.
Around the Watercooler
Social media conversations, rumors, and gossip.
What does the average person think about sports betting ads? Here is a sample that came across my X timeline. The responses to this tweet are overwhelmingly in agreement and highlight something I touched on last week. If the average person thinks there are too many ads, only a simple, perfectly articulated argument will change their mind because they don’t have the time or desire to debate the issue.
And in other news, Hard Rock Bet is open to everyone, with an official launch scheduled for Thursday:
I’ve seen this on X quite a bit, so I thought I’d post mine here.
Five things other people like but I don’t:
This reminds me of a running joke at one of my former places of employment. Here is a list of things that Steve likes:
#1 - Hating things.