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Casino City's Friday Five: Good news, bad news edition

3 May 2019

It was a classic case of a good news, bad news across the gambling landscape this week.

On the positive side, we saw an online slot player turn a €1.25 bet into over €3 million, and a historic mobile-only sports betting bill move closer to becoming law in the U.S.

The negatives? Well, the sports betting market that was legalized in Rhode Island nearly six months ago could all of a sudden be in jeopardy, and Wynn Resorts got slapped with a $35 million fine for the manner in which it handled the sexual assault allegations by its namesake. That last bit of news also came with more good news: Encore Boston Harbor will keep its gaming license and open, as planned, in June.

We delve into all of the above in this week's Friday Five, but first, grab a copy of the Racing Form and mix yourself a mint julep. It's almost post time for the most exciting two minutes in sports.

5. Top facts and figures for the Kentucky Derby
Big weekend for those who like to have a reason to party. Not only do we have Cinco de Mayo on Sunday, but the first Saturday in May also means it's Kentucky Derby time.

Casino City's Dan Ippolito dug deep into the numbers and spoke with renowned horse racing writer Michael Dempsey to come away with some interesting betting tidbits for the 145th edition of the Run for the Roses.

Since Dan's deadline for this top 10 was Monday morning, he wasn't aware that the favorite and his pick to win, Omaha Beach, would be scratched, so we'll slip in an alternate: Improbable. The Bob Baffert trained entry will come out of the profitable five post, and in five career starts has three wins as a two-year-old and two very close places as a three-year-old. As of this morning, he was listed at 6-to-1, so we'll scoop it up and hope he can handle the distance.

4. Joker Millions player hits €3.1 million jackpot
It was a happy and profitable Easter for a player at Betsson Casino & Live Casino last Sunday after winning a colossal €3.1 million jackpot on Yggdrasil’s popular Joker Millions slot game after placing a €1.25 on his laptop.

You may remember that just over five months the Yggdrasil’s record jackpot of €7.8 million fell on the same progressive game.

Joker Millions, released in 2015, is one of Yggdrasil’s most popular global games, which after hearing about the above story does not come as a shocker.

3. GOP activist sues Rhode Island over sports betting launch
After a few weeks of mostly positive news regarding the growing market for legalized sports betting in the U.S., a lawsuit surface in Rhode Island where a Republican-led group says the state made "a reckless gamble" when it brought sports betting to Twin River Casino and Tiverton Casino Hotel late last year without voter approval. In turn, the group is suing the state and asking that it pull the plug in sports betting until the people can vote on it.

According to The Providence Journal, a lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in Superior Court, with former Providence GOP mayoral candidate Dr. Daniel Harrop as the plaintiff, arguing that the state Constitution requires a ballot referendum to legalize any “new types of gambling,” so the current model violates the law.

Unfortunately for those of us who like to bet on sports here in New England, these guys have a valid point. And the timing couldn't be worse, as it comes on the heels of the Granite State getting ready to launch a much-needed mobile sports betting platform.

Stay tuned . . .

2. Online sports betting coming to Tennessee
Speaking of online sports wagering, by virtue of its governor opting not to sign a bill, Tennessee is in position to become the first U.S. state to implement a mobile-only bill.

After the bill was approved by the House and Senate, it was sent to Governor Bill Lee’s desk for a signature, but it appears the first-term governor is going to take the easy way out and allow the bill to pass without his signature.

Laine Arnold, Lee’s press secretary, told The Tennessean, "The governor has said he does not believe that the expansion of gambling is best, but he recognizes that many in the legislature found this to be an issue they want to explore further. He plans to let this become law without his signature."

The bill requires operators to use official data sources for settling in-play bets and prohibits anyone under age 21 from wagering on sports, as well as athletes and owners of a team involved in a game, people who run sports betting operations, and others "with influence over a game’s outcome." In addition to making it an online-only bill, the House also increased the license fee to $750,000 annually and the tax rate to 20%.

1. Wynn Resorts slapped with $35 million fine, but can keep Encore Boston Harbor license

Late on Tuesday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission announced that it was fining Wynn Resorts $35 million for not disclosing sexual misconduct allegations against former CEO Steve Wynn. On the positive side, the MGA also said in the process that the casino operator will maintain its license for Encore Boston Harbor, the new $2.6 billion mega resort that is scheduled to open outside Boston city limits in June.

The decision came following a year-long investigation and three-day hearing into the sordid allegations of sexual assault against Mr. Wynn that surfaced back in February if 2018, and how Wynn Resorts handled them.

So, now, thankfully, we can all focus on the grand opening of Encore Boston. The building has already become a welcome sight to the Boston skyline, and the anticipation grows for locals who have been starving for a world-class gambling venue in these parts with each and every day.

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