The dramatic victory of the Philadelphia Eagles in last week’s Super Bowl LII came as bad news to Las Vegas sports book makers, who chalked up six and seven figure losses as a result of both the record-breaking game and a deep pocketed mystery better who placed a $2 million bet on the Eagles to win and walked away with $3.2 million.
According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, sports fans wagered a record $158.6 million on the epic game, laying down $20.1 million more than on last year’s Super Bowl spectacle. Sports books profits were a paltry $1.2 million on the action, a drop of $9.8 million over the 2017 final.
“The game didn’t quite go exactly the way he had hoped for, but we kind of grinded out a small win on this particular event when you consider all things,” said Jay Rood, who heads sports betting operations for MGM Resorts International, where the Patriots were a 4.5 favorite. “When you consider us as an overall hotel-casino company, I think at the end of the day, we are going to be all right. We had thousands of people here enjoying themselves watching the game.”
At the same time, the American Gaming Association estimated that across the US, punters would lay down around $4.76 billion on the game, with a mere 3%, or some $138.5 million being wagered legally in Las Vegas and the four other states with legalized sports betting.
“Well, we are a little disappointed with the bottom line,” Jay Kornegay, the sports book director of the Westgate Las Vegas, told reporters. “This event is dominated by the general betting public and they always like to bet on things to happen. So, they like to bet the yeses more than the nos. They like to bet the overs more than the unders, and a lot of those come through for them. We had our worst Super Bowl prop results ever.”
Mandalay Bay renumbering floors after tragic shooting
In light of last year’s mass shooting tragedy in Las Vegas, the MGM owned Mandalay Bay hotel and casino is renumbering its floors to break the strong negative association visitors have had with the 32nd floor used by 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, to fire off some 1,100 rounds into the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest music festival across the street, killing 58 people and leaving 851 injured. The shooting was one of the greatest man-made tragedies in modern US history.
The casino announced that it would be renumbering floors 31 through 34 to floors 56 through 59, effective by the end of the week.
“What MGM wants to do is move on from the tragedy and service customers without ignoring but without calling attention to it,” Michael McCall, a hospitality professor at Michigan State University, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “You don’t want (the 32nd floor) to become a morbid tourist site.”
Mandalay Bay is “trying to create new associations [with the floor] and move forward. When you have someone as a guest, you don’t want to put them in a place that has a negative association,” Michelle Paul, a UNLV psychology professor, told the Review-Journal. Paul currently runs The Practice, a mental health clinic offering free services to people affected by the shooting.
University rejects WTO classification of gaming disorder
In response to the World Health Organization’s plans to classify “gaming disorder” as a mental health condition its list of mental health ailments, the University of California, Irvine has published a response to the plan insisting that, at least for a majority of players, video and other games “have a positive influence”.
Gaming disorder is defined as a long-standing or recurring pattern of behavior that illustrates a lack of control over gaming habits both off and online, whereby the sufferer lends increasing importance to gaming over other important daily activities and continues on to a point in which the negative consequences of a person’s gaming habits are ignored in favor of continued or escalated game play.
The World Health organization has announced plans to include the classification in its 11th update of the International Classification of Diseases, set to be published mid-year 2018. The guide book is widely used around the globe by both practitioners, researchers and statistical analysts to identify global health trends.
In response to the announcement, UC Irvine’s Department of Informatics published a comment noting that the Higher Education Video Game Alliance has found little to no evidence to support the proposed classification.
“We don’t dispute that there are some young people who get into problematic gaming communities or play too much at expense of other activities,” Mimi Ito, director of UCI’s Connected Learning Lab, told the Los Angeles Times. “But we want to stress that is a minority of gamers. For most young people, games are a positive influence in [their] lives, whether more traditional games, sports or video games.”
The university’s response also pointed out ongoing research that showed gaming activities could have positive effects on students.
Over the last decade UC Irvine has become a contemporary magnet for academic backed gaming study and research. In 2016, the university opened its eSports arena, transforming an old student longue into a state-or-the-art egaming center.
ESports are a burgeoning online market and of great interest to casino operators keen on attracting a younger generation of gamers. The eSports arena at Luxor will open as the first such facility on the Las Vegas strip in March 2018. Nevada gaming regulators had approved new rules for skill-based gaming back in 2016, leading to massive growth in esports competitions and wagering. The market is expected to grow to $1.5 billion by 2020.
Cambodian casino operator NagaCorp posts stellar profits
Leading Cambodian casino operator NagaCorp reported a huge surge in earnings for last year, up 79.9% to $956.3 million, driven in large part by a 142% increase in VIP revenue as a result of effectively attracting Chinese whales to their Phnom Penh casino hotel complex as the Chinese government eased restrictions on high-rollers gambling abroad.
Net profit grew an impressive 39% to come in at $255.2 million. In light of the stunningly positive results the company announced that it was proceeding with a planned casino hotel outside of Vladivostok, Russia, despite a hike in gaming taxes in Russia that could hit the bottom line. NagaCorp has said it plans to invest around $350 million in the new project.
The announcement comes in stark contrast to the actions of Lawrence Ho Tau-lung, the Macau casino tycoon who recently dumped his entire stake in the Tigre De Cristal casino development, the only casino hotel operation currently in Vladivostok, for $21.3 million, after Russian authorities nearly doubled the tax on casino earnings.
“An office has been established in the city center of Vladivostok, Russia,” the company said in its latest financial statement as reported by the Nikkei Asian Review. “Certain key personnel have been appointed to monitor various aspects of the progress of the project which remains broadly on schedule for operation by 2019.”
NagaCorp operates 903 hotel rooms, 300 gaming tables and 2,500 gaming machines at its Naga2 complex in Phnom Penh. The company’s earnings contributed approximately 3% to Cambodia’s gross national product last year thanks in large part to revenue from big spending Chinese tourists.
Some 1.2 million Chinese tourists visited Cambodia last year, an increase of 46% over 2016, becoming the largest group of foreign tourists to visit the country.