All posts by Joseph Caputi

States Shutting Casinos Down to Combat COVID-19

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, casinos and racetracks have become the next domino to fall.  Ohio, Indiana, Massachusetts, Illinois, Rhode Island, and parts of Pennsylvania have been required to shut down their facilities or keep the total number of individuals present under a designated limit.  These announcements came late Friday afternoon after many of the states enforced limiting the number of public gatherings.

Ohio’s four casinos and seven racetracks have been ordered to shut down or limit the total number of people in their buildings, including employees, to under 100.  The order came from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine as part of the state’s effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.  The Indiana Gaming Board has suspended all casino operations for 14 days beginning Monday, March 16.  The Massachusetts Gaming Commission also has voted to shut down casino operations.  Massachusetts will reevaluate the decision in two weeks, but all gaming floors are set to be closed to patrons at 5:59 a.m. Sunday.  Like Massachusetts, Illinois’ ten casinos will close for at least 14 days, and  Rhode Island’s two casinos are being required to close for at least a week.  Lastly, four of Pennsylvania’s twelve casinos have closed temporarily for 14 days.

States such as New Jersey have not yet shut down, and according to New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy, there is no plan for New Jersey casinos to shut down.  Also, in Las Vegas, Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International are temporarily closing to stop the spread of the virus.

Although casinos are closing, online casino gaming will not be affected.  Moreover, online casino gaming can potentially grow during the 14 days shutdown.  In states like New Jersey, where there is no shutdown, many people may stay away from casinos and decide to play online.

Sports wagering has also been affected by COVID-19, and is essentially shut down nationwide with no sports available to bet on.  This comes at a time where states such as Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois have just begun to accept sports wagers.

The casinos that are facing shut down are also taking the initiative to provide for their workers.  Penn National Gaming and Wynn Resorts have stated it plans to continue to pay its employees full wages and benefits while the suspension period is in place.  Penn National has also stated it plans to continue its deep cleaning efforts to prepare to welcome back its customers when the pandemic ends.

We will continue to follow this situation closely and provide any additional updates.

Updated on 3/16/2020.

 

 

Colorado Voters Cover the Spread and Approve Sports Betting Bill

Colorado House Bill 1327, titled “Proposition DD: Legalization and Taxation of Sports Betting” was put to voters in a ballot measure and was narrowly approved on Tuesday, November 5.  Colorado Governor, Jared Polis, signed Proposition DD into law in May 2019 and Colorado voters decided its final, successful outcome making Colorado the 19th state to legalize sports betting.  The law will permit land-based sports betting at Colorado’s 33 casinos, as well as state-wide mobile betting.  Notably, Proposition DD does not permit proposition bets for college sports.

The Colorado Division of Gaming is charged with regulating the new market which will allow three types of licenses to be submitted for approval.  Each casino will be limited to a single online/mobile platform or “skin.”  A master license will be issued to an operator that holds a retail gaming license in the state prior to May 1, 2020, or has obtained one through the purchase of an ownership interest in a casino that was in operation prior to May 1, 2020.   A sports betting operator license or an internet license sport betting operator license will be allowed  to contract with a master licensee to operate sports betting in person or online.  The bill sets the maximum license fee at $125,000 and each license must be renewed every two years.

Proposition DD’s passing will allow legal bets to be placed as early as May, 2020 and will tax a casino’s net sports-betting proceeds at a 10% rate.  This tax revenue will be used to pay for regulating sports betting in Colorado, a hold harmless fund, gambling addiction services, water projections, and other obligations.  According to Colorado’s fiscal impact statement, lawmakers expect around $10 million in tax revenue in the first year based on the expectation that Colorado sports betting licensees would take between $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion in bets.  We will continue to monitor this topic and provide updates on this legislation.