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Dan Ippolito

As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and he writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports.

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Casino City’s Friday Five: Massive jackpots and casino closings edition

18 Dec 2020

By Dan Ippolito
We’ve been seeing it happen since March, but casinos still continue to battle with the dilemma of whether to stay open or not. This week, we saw many areas across the globe shut down casinos due to a rising number of COVID-19 cases. For an up-to-date look at all of the casino openings and closings in the U.S. and Canada check out our map of properties at

Aside from the closures, we had some jackpots hit at some casinos that are still open. In other news, the World Series of Poker has its U.S. version of the final table set for the Main Event, a poker room reopening in Atlantic City and move toward making virtual sports betting the next big thing.

Let’s begin with some big winners:

5. Several jackpot wins
On 28 November, Jeremy, an Indiana resident, turned visit to The Venetian Las Vegas into a $656,665.80 payday when he hit the jackpot on Aristocrat Gaming's Mad Max: Fury Road slot game.

Jeremy was visiting the casino to celebrate his birthday, which made the unexpected win that much more exciting.

Exactly two weeks later, a guest from Hawaii hit the Wheel of Fortune jackpot at El Cortez Hotel & Casino in Downtown Las Vegas and walked away with $588,698.

The lucky player, whose first name is Walter, had only bet 10 quarters before hitting the six-figure jackpot.

4. Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City reopening poker room
Harrah's Resort Atlantic City will reopen its World Series of Poker Room on 26 December with enhanced health and safety protocols implemented to ensure the well-being of players and employees.

Harrah's Resort will be the first casino in the market to offer an eight player game, with individual safety shields between each position on the table. Additional plexiglass will be installed on each game for the safety of dealers.

The World Series of Poker Room at Harrah's will offer the following games upon reopening:

1-2 No Limit Hold'em
1-3 No Limit Hold'em
2-5 No Limit Hold'em
2-4-6 Hold'em
3-6 Hold'em
10-20 Omaha H/L

3. Is virtual sports betting the next big thing?
Verizon Media and Entain (formerly known as GVC Holdings) announced a global innovation alliance to develop new opportunities across interactive sports and entertainment.

Verizon Media and Entain will collaborate to develop a first-of-its-kind virtual reality experience that will combine live sports viewing with interactive layers of sports data and gaming. Consumers will be able to participate in sports events, check data, socialize with friends, and place bets on Entain platforms.

Along with betting on the Entain platforms on live streaming sports events, the goal is to create realistic, immersive experiences for sports fans, such as being in the stadium, participating in play, competing and betting on outcomes on the Entain platforms.

2. Nine await final table for WSOP Main Event
The 705-field for the World Series of Poker $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em World Championship was narrowed down to the final nine spots, which includes a mix of former bracelet winners and new faces. These final nine players will travel to Las Vegas to battle live on Monday, 28 December at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.

The winner of that final domestic table will then go head-to-head against the newly-crowned international table winner, Damian Salas of Argentina, on Wednesday, 30 December for title of World Champion, an additional $1 million.

Each player at the final table is already guaranteed $98,813 in prize money, but each has their eye on the $1,553,256 top prize. The runner-up will also become a poker millionaire as $1,002,340 is set aside for second place.

2020 WSOP Main Event Domestic Final Table Chip Counts

Joseph "kolebear" Hebert/13,052,534

Shawn "shades927" Stroke/5,252,000

Ryan "Hagzzz021" Hagerty/5,071,572

Ye "YUAN365" Yuan/4,829,459

Michael "geNet1x_" Cannon/4,408,847

Gershon "jets613" Distenfeld/3,475,481

Ron "Samthedog76" Jenkins/2,476,746

Upeshka "gomezhamburg" De Silva/2,151,969

Harrison "Harrisond33" Dobin/1,581,392

1. Casino shut downs continue
I think I speak for everyone when I say I am ready for more of a normal life to return once these case numbers begin to drop again. I know the casinos around the world feel the same way.

Casinos and gaming venues have had to fight off the idea of needing to close for well over half a year now. Some have closed temporarily several times but with the numbers rising again, we are seeing many close down this time.

Casinos and bingo halls in the U.K. were forced to shut down temporarily as of 16 December. Areas affected by this change include Greater London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire in the south of England. In addition to nobody being allowed to attend casinos and bingo halls, supporters aren't allowed to attend sporting events in those locations.

The Danish Gambling Authority informed people that in connection with the lockdown of 38 municipalities, restaurants, gambling arcades and casinos will close in these municipalities. The lockdown became effective on 9 December and will continue until 3 January 2021.

Canada has also seen casinos being closed down after Century Casinos temporarily closed its Canadian casinos and racetracks at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, 12 December 2020 to comply with quarantines issued by the Alberta government to contain the spread of COVID-19. The government mandate is expected to be reassessed in four weeks.

In the U.S. we are seeing some states shut down all of their casinos and others adjusting.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board worked with the 12 operating casinos in the Commonwealth on closing procedures and those 12 properties ceased operations on 12 December. Under the governor’s order, casinos may reopen at 8 a.m. on Monday, 4 January 2021.

In Nevada precautions are being taken while keeping casinos open. Originally set to expire on 14 December, the Nevada statewide pause, including smaller capacities at casinos was extended by Governor Sisolak to 15 January.
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