Industry News

Macau Strip rebounding, new ground for NJ sports betting

Nevada GPC to review marijuana in casinos

The Nevada Gaming Policy Committee is set to sit down this week to review the position of marijuana in the state’s casinos. Recreational marijuana use was recently decriminalized within the state after a 54 percent positive vote back in July.

However, there are still strict restrictions on public consumption, as marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug by the U.S. federal government. The NGPC’s 12 member panel, which includes representatives of the Nevada Department of Taxation, will discuss whether the state’s casino industry can ease its stance on recreational (and medicinal) cannabis use within its businesses. Despite naysayers and low odds, the committee vows to move forward in reviewing the matter.

The GPC consists of some of the most influential figures in the state of Nevada, including Governor Brian Sandoval and MGM CEO Jim Murren. So far, the track record for allowing pot in casinos has been very poor. In the past the NGPC’s reviews and stance on cannabis have been mostly negative, extinguishing any hope that popular gambling establishments and marijuana could ever coexist. According to Commission Chairman Tony Alamo, no policy is being set, but merely a discussion is taking place in order to interpret the new laws and to find where everyone stands on the issue.

Las Vegas recently hosted the Marijuana Business Conference and Expo, the world’s largest cannabis convention, which attracted some 10,000 people and 700 proprietors. However, casinos have not warmly welcomed the “pro-pot” bandwagon, as many of them have gone through lengths to bar such events from their properties. Steve Wynn, CEO of Wynn Resorts, has even gone so far as refusing its reward program membership to any businesses/individuals with known cannabis industry ties.

This hasn’t stopped proponents however who feel that Sin City is the perfect place to spearhead a more positive stance on the controversial legalization and mainstream acceptance of the drug in America. Many feel that legalization across the board would only be a positive as it would bring in more revenue to the casinos, and the state; using Colorado as an example. After legalizing marijuana in 2012, Colorado has continued to see big increases in taxes collected from its sale and consumption (even surpassing alcohol sales).

Macau Strip rebound continues

Despite financial setbacks and a slump in revenue over the last several years, the Macau gaming market is finally bouncing back and shows no signs of slowing down. Analysts are now reporting that the gambling revenue in South Asia’s most popular casino enclave has increased by as much as 20 percent this month compared to the previous year. Experts suggest that a roughly 20 percent increase would total about $2.8 billion by the end of November alone. Macau’s Secretary of Economy and Finance, Lionel Leong has also estimated that the casinos would continue to see growth through to the New Year.

This is great news for industry giants in Macau, as previous years had seen stagnant profits in comparison to its largest competitor in the west, the Las Vegas Strip. Even the most conservative estimates have put November’s gaming revenue at $2.76 billion. According to brokerages analyzing the data, a big reason for the boom is both mass market and VIP revenues reaching double digits compared to 2016. Strong growth is important for Macau’s economy, as it stands to continue a trend that has been ongoing for over a year. The gaming sector of Macau is now on a 15-month streak of revenue increase after major financial setbacks due to Beijing authority-led corruption crackdowns previously in the year. 2017 will mark the first year that the casinos of Macau have enjoyed prosperity in gaming revenue since 2013.

Long term projections also remain positive according to credit rating agency Fitch Ratings. It has noted indicators for potential long term growth for the Asia-Pacific region. Ensuring the long term projections is the Chinese tourism sector and a driving middle class, both major factors for pushing up gaming revenues in autonomous Macau. If 2018 continues on the same trend of the previous year, many would claim that the powerhouse casinos of Macau would have the backs of mass-market gamblers to thank.

Fitch Ratings urges caution, however, as they added that many Macau operators also have considerable debt along with interests that are set to last well into the end of 2020, a risk that they are willing to take. And with upcoming license renewals, there are still many speedbumps on the road to continued long-term progress.

Online casino first to launch betting for virtual sporting events

A London based tech company has joined forces with the New Jersey-based firm Rush Street Gaming to bring real money wagering to the forefront of virtual sports gaming online; including soccer, horse racing, and motorsports. The company is the first of its kind to release virtual sports betting to the masses within the U.S.

Richard Schwartz, president of Rush Street Interactive, stated: “We are excited to lead the way in bringing online virtual [sports betting] to the United States with our debut in New Jersey”.
Though new to the U.S., virtual sports betting has been around in Europe since 2013 for the online gambling community. The platform creates exciting new opportunities for bettors in the U.S., who can choose to wager on unlimited simulated races and matches. Currently, soccer is offered, but the NJ-based company wants to expand its selection to online gamblers; vowing to have more varieties soon on the way.

The virtual platform works essentially in the same way that a live event would, and players can stream the results in real time from their computer screens or mobile devices. To ensure fairness, the games are regulated by an outside party, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. The new platform comes at a critical time for online gambling as it now makes New Jersey one of four states in the U.S. with legal online casino gambling. As new legislation passes, this benchmark is sure to create waves within the industry.
Though Rush Street Gaming operates land-based casinos in other parts of the U.S., including Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, virtual betting offers more convenience; players can choose to play and bet for real money from the comfort of their own homes.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether to repeal a 1992 based federal law that bans gambling outside a few select states within the continental United States. Experts suggest that repeal of the law would push out an almost $150 billion illegal sports betting market in the U.S. The potential motion to repeal the arguably antiquated law is set to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court sometime in early 2018.

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