Casino City's Friday Five: The glass is half full edition
By Gary Trask
We start in Las Vegas, where the city continues to persevere and rally in the wake of tragedy. We then move on to the introduction of more innovative and creative games on the casino floor and more positive news surrounding iGaming and sports betting regulation. And, finally, it's a feel-good story from the Czech Republic, where a former school teacher became an instant millionaire when he captured the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event.
Now, on to the yellow brick road . . .
5. Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Marathon attracts 40,000 runners
Surrounded by heavy security, runners with heavy hearts from all 50 U.S. states and more than 70 countries took part in the annual Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Marathon last weekend, just six weeks after the tragic mass shooting at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. The marathon is the "only private event to shut down the famed Las Vegas Strip," according to organizers. Local bands performed live music and "Vegas Strong" t-shirts were sold, with proceeds benefiting the Las Vegas Victims Fund.
Gilles Rubio from France won the men's division, while Marisa Hird from Illinois took first place in the women's race.
Vegas Strong! The annual LV Rock n Roll Marathon is today! Music meets fitness along the Las Vegas strip! "Enjoy!"?? pic.twitter.com/d1LIcq9vfc— Vegas Strong (@VegasStrong2) November 12, 2017
4. Sports Betting USA welcomes attendees in New York
With a pivotal U.S. Supreme Court hearing scheduled for 4 December regarding the state of New Jersey and its efforts to legalize sports wagering, the timing was ideal for this week's first annual Sports Betting USA conference in New York.
Created by Clarion Gaming, the two-day event allowed industry experts and leaders the chance to share insights and discuss the state of sports betting in the U.S, including panels about the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). It was the first event dedicated exclusively to the development of sports betting in the USA.
"Our intention is to progress the debate and not simply to talk shop," said Ewa Bakun, Head of Industry Insight & Engagement at Clarion Gaming. "I want to be able to harness the intellectual and professional insight of our distinguished speakers to issue a five-point plan which will signpost the next steps to kick-start the legalization process and bring to a close the journey that we have all been on."
3. Seminole Hard Rock Tampa first US casino to offer SPHINX 4-D video slots
We are proudly the first casino in the country to receive @IGTNews SPHINX 4D™ Video Slots! Looking for an unprecedented gaming experience? Enter here for your chance to play $500 on the new award-winning slots on November 21. Details: https://t.co/eBImZnrs5c pic.twitter.com/Zkc1RmBq31— Seminole Hard Rock (@SHRTampa) November 13, 2017
A hot trend in the casino industry is the continued effort to bring new and more engaging gaming machines to the floor in lieu of your ordinary slot machine. The latest casino to do so was Seminole Hard Rock Tampa, which became the first venue in the country to offer the SPHINX 4-D video slot this week.
The award-winning IGT slots combines "gesture-based technology" with glasses-free 3-D graphics, creating "unprecedented immersion and interaction with mid-air haptic technology."
Said Dan Ingster, Vice President of Slots at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, "This is the world's only glasses-free 3-D machine in full ultra HD resolution. For those who are seeking an interactive experience and who enjoy variety and big bonus action, these machines will definitely be appealing."
2. New Jersey online gambling market sets annual revenue record
The good folks in Pennsylvania must have loved this story. Just weeks after the Keystone State became the fourth U.S. state to regulate online gambling, nearby New Jersey announced record iGaming revenues.
With two months of the year to spare, the state's online casinos brought in $200 million in gross revenue, topping 2016's total earnings.
The state's regulated online casinos combined to generate $20.6 million in October, according to the New Jersey Monthly Internet Gross Revenue Report, released Wednesday by the state's Division of Gaming Enforcement.
With $20.6 million in revenue, October marked the eighth consecutive month that the state's regulated online casinos have collected more than $20 million in combined revenue from online poker and casino games. New Jersey's online casinos have now generated $204.2 million in gross revenue for 2017 through 31 October, crossing the $200 million milestone for the first time and leaping past the $196.7 million record for annual revenue that the industry set in 2016.
New Jersey is on pace to generate nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in gross revenue from legal online gambling by year's end. Since New Jersey legalized and regulated online gambling in November 2013, the Garden State's online casinos have collected $682.6 million in lifetime gross revenue. That has poured $119.4 million in tax revenue into state coffers, which, once again, was music to the ears of those in Pennsylvania who worked so hard the past few years to push through the long-awaited regulation.
1. Former teacher wins WSOP Europe Main Event
There's nothing like a Cinderella story from the world of poker to warm the heart and that's what we got at the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event this week.
The winner — Marti Roca de Torres from Spain — is a former economics teacher who quit his day job a few years ago to become a poker pro. What's more, the 36-year-old qualified for the Main Event through a $220 satellite at 888 Poker, which turned out to be a pretty solid investment as his victory not only provided him his first-career WSOP bracelet, but he also went home with a check worth €1,115,207.
Roca De Torres is the fourth player from Spain, and first Catalan, to win a WSOP bracelet and the seventh bracelet in total for his home country.
When asked what he was feeling after the momentous victory, the Spaniard was modest and reserved, saying, "I don't know, I am more nervous now than before when I was playing. But for sure I am very happy and it is a dream come true, I don't know what to say."
Obviously, Phil Hellmuth he is not. And maybe that's not such a bad thing.