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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: Construction, closings and WSOP edition

9 Jun 2023

By Dan Ippolito
Game 4 of the NBA Finals is tonight and the Miami Heat need to avoid dropping into a 3-1 series hole against the Denver Nuggets. While that is the lead talk in the sports betting world, in the gambling industry, the World Series of Poker is two weeks in and we have already seen some massive wins with plenty more to come. In addition, we also have Las Vegas life changing, a big winner at BitStarz, an Ottawa casino starting construction, and Churchill Downs suspending operations.

Let’s begin with nearly $700,000 in winnings:

5. BitStarz player wins just south of $700,000 in April
During a four-day period in April, the player won $690,000 over three different big wins all on the Gamblelicious: Hold and Win slot from Booming.

The streak started off with a $223,786 win on 27 April. Just one day later, Joe managed to score $231,885. His final win came on 30 April when he managed to grab $239,809.

4. Odds of winning in Las Vegas are falling fast
Las Vegas and the state of Nevada have been on a huge revenue run for over two years. Some have wondered if this incredible streak of billion-dollar revenue months could be tied to changing odds on games.

Analysts at Vegas Advantage estimate that more than two-thirds of all blackjack tables on The Strip are now only offering only 6:5 payouts as opposed to more favorable 3:2 ratio they have historically offered when a player hits 21 on the first two cards, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This raises the house advantage by approximately 400%.

3. Construction starts on Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Ottawa
Construction officially started this week on Ottawa's newest tourism and entertainment destination, the future Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Ottawa. A groundbreaking ceremony, with guests using Hard Rock's guitar-handled shovels, was held at Rideau Carleton Casino, Future Hard Rock.

The completion of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Ottawa is planned for the spring of 2025. Rideau Carleton Casino, Future Hard Rock will remain open 24/7 during construction.

The new Canadian property will include the following:
  • A 150-room Hard Rock Hotel, including 22 suites
  • An expanded Hard Rock Casino with 1,500 slot machines, 40 live action table games, Sportsbook, high-limit gaming and a Baccarat room
  • An 1,800-seat Hard Rock Live theatre with standing room for 2,200
  • More than 10 restaurants, bars and lounges, including the Hard Rock Café and Council Oak Steakhouse
  • Rock Shop and Unity Store
2. Churchill Downs suspends operations at flagship track
Earlier this week, the home of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs moved the remainder of its spring racing to Ellis Park in order to conduct a review of safety and surface protocols in the wake of 12 horse fatalities the past month.

Following a thorough internal review and concurrent investigations conducted by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, no single factor has been identified as a potential cause and no discernable pattern has been detected to link the fatalities.

Ellis Park traditionally hosts a summer race meet in Kentucky that is scheduled from 7 July to 27 August 2023. The new safety initiatives announced by Churchill Downs last week will remain in effect for the remainder of this meet at Ellis Park.

1. World Series of Poker sees big winners in Week 2
Paris Las Vegas and Horseshoe Las Vegas have seen thousands of players enter events and only a few walk away with gold bracelets. Let’s take a look at a few highlight events thus far.

After 48 levels of grueling play, battling through the field of 18,188 players and a final eight-handed feature table in the spotlight, Tyler Brown was named the champion taking home a cool $1,000,000 in the $1,000 Mystery Millions event.

That’s four. The $1,500 Seven Card Stud event came to an end with Nick Schulman emerging victorious after besting the final table and defeating Andrew Hasdal heads up for his fourth World Series of Poker bracelet and $110,800. Schulman is no stranger to poker success, having amassed over $15 million in career-tournament earnings dating back to 2005 when he burst into the poker scene.

Turning $5,000 into $2.6 million is incredible and that is what Michael Moncek was able to accomplish. Out of 568 players that entered the $5,000 Mixed No-Limit Hold'em/Pot-Limit Omaha event, Moncek was the only one to remain when the dust settled after 26 hours of play over two days. Runner up, Fernando Habegger came into the final day with the chip lead and managed to navigate all the way to the final heads up. Habegger received $330,344 for his efforts.
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