Pennsylvanian Casinos Go Dark in Latest Anti-Covid Push
Casinos in Pennsylvania will have to close through at least January 4, Governor Tom Wolf announced on Thursday, responding to growing concerns about the overwhelming number of COVID-19 infections.
Speaking on Thursday, the Governor said that the matter has become too pressing for the state’s authorities to ignore and that starting on Saturday, all gaming properties in the state will have to close well through the New Year’s and early January, with a possible extension after the holidays depending on the incidence of infection.
Pennsylvania is the latest state to enact this measure after Michigan closed casinos on November 18 and plans to try and restart operations in some capacity on December 20. Illinois issued closures on November 20 for its part.
The Keystone State has 12 casinos and racinos and they will all have to remain shuttered while the governor’s order is in place.
Casino Mogul Sheldon Adelson Continues with Texas Push
Las Vegas Sands Corporation owner Sheldon Adelson will focus on expanding gambling in Texas. To do so, the renowned casino boss will first have to pass legislation successfully, something he has hired no fewer than ten high-powered lobbyists for in the state.
Speaking to media, Andy Abboud, who is the leading lobbyist for Las Vegas Sands, said that Texas was one of the most exciting expansion opportunities for LVS, but the company still liked to keep its options open and consider expansion in Japan, Brazil and New York as a possibility.
However, Texas is considered “the biggest plum,” when it comes to gaming. Abboud believes that the state can benefit immensely, by encouraging lawmakers to set the standards high, should they agree to pass gambling legislation.
According to Abboud, any investor should be prepared to spend at least $1 billion, but ideally over $3 billion to bring a facility that will tempt lawmakers and consumers, as well as provide real, actual value to the state.
Meanwhile, the Adelsons have been donating heavily to GOP lawmakers, and Miriam and Sheldon Adelson spent $4.5 million in September to the Republican State Leadership Committee, or at least an account that was affiliated with the organization to help with the state legislative races.
Texas is one of the few hardliners when it comes to gambling in the United States with sports betting and casinos prohibited. Yet, facing a massive $4.6 billion budget shortage, Texas may have no other choice but to look for additional sources of revenue.
Google to Empower Users in Restricting Gambling Advertisement
Internet users will be able to restrict advertisement content that they deem vulnerable or sensitive, and specifically gambling and alcohol ads, among several other options. The technological giant Google has teamed up with the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking in a bid to limit exposure of vulnerable groups to such content.
The initiative comes as a complementary feature of Google’s consumer-protection tool kit which already features numerous options including but not limited to Mute This Ad and a new, personalized approach to displaying advertisement, based on regions and the appropriateness of the content in relation to the user’s age.
Google is rolling out the solution in the United States and for YouTube first, but the product should scale up globally in 2021. Users will have the option to switch on and off such restrictions and gain more control over what type of content they see.
Tribal Casinos Hit $34.6bn in Fiscal 2019
Before COVID-19 struck, tribal gaming was going strong, so strong in fact that casinos and gaming facilities operated by Native American tribes hit a record $34.6 billion in revenue for the fiscal 2019.
Thanks to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, tribal gaming has been legal for 32 years, leading to the creation of 522 tribal casinos in 29 states with a strong impact on local communities and extending support to government budgets.
Understandably, the National Indian Gaming Commission which reported the record-high fiscal year expects the next one to be much worse due to the pandemic. Commenting on the situation, NIGC Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer had this to say:
“Tribes’ dedication to a safe and sustainable Indian gaming industry is demonstrated in the preventative measures tribes continue to take during the challenging economic times brought on by the pandemic. This same dedication has fostered a successful and responsibly regulated Indian gaming industry over several decades.”
The pandemic forced 1000 commercial and tribal casinos to close, with tribes prioritizing the well-being of their communities, even though many of them have sufficient sovereignty to choose and operate despite the pandemic. Most have preferred to remain shuttered during the period, and still comply with state recommendations.
Michigan Issues 15 Sports Betting and Online Gambling Licenses
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) has issued a total of 15 online and sports betting licenses to tribal and commercial operators, marking the beginning of a new and ambitious chapter for the state.
The companies to have received licenses include American Wagering, GAN, NYX Digital Gaming, Parx Interactive, FanDuel, Golden Nugget, and others. The list extends to partners such as Wynn Sports and BetMGM, Entain, which recently rebranded as GVC< and MGM Resorts International.
Before any company can bring their online product live, however, they will have to meet a number of requirements. Depending on how fast they tackle these, Michigan will be able to decide on a date when interactive gambling and online sports betting can go live in the state.
In a statement, the MGCB had this to add:
“The platform providers still must meet other regulatory requirements before online gaming and sports betting can launch in Michigan. The launch date will depend on how quickly they can fulfill the requirements.”
License-holders will also have to make sure that their employees have occupational licenses, similar to what the United Kingdom does in asking live dealers to be certified and trained specialists, for example.