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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: Jackpots, illegal bets and iGaming edition

17 Feb 2023

By Dan Ippolito
We have talked a lot about Massachusetts sports betting since the retail launch on 31 January. However, this week is a little different after the three Bay State casinos confessed to accepting illegal wagers.

Before we get into those details we have more top stories to look at. New York is looking at bringing online casinos to its arsenal, Maine began its sports betting process, U.S. commercial gaming continues to reach massive figures, and several players walked away with big jackpots.

Let’s start this Friday off with some paydays:

5. Jackpots from Las Vegas and Florida
Earlier this week, Caesars Las Vegas casinos saw two jackpot wins in under five hours. On Monday, at 11 p.m., Linda California won $128,070 after hitting a major progressive jackpot on Face Up Pai Gow Poker at Paris Las Vegas. Fleischmann was visiting Las Vegas to see her cousins, who she says are her good luck charm. After playing for one hour, she landed the jackpot and plans on using the winnings to renovate her home and add to her travel fund. Then Tuesday morning at 3:08 a.m., another lucky guest hit a $219,000 jackpot playing slots at Caesars Palace.

We move our attention to Florida where the jackpot reached seven figures. On 8 February, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida resident hit the nation’s first $1 million jackpot on an Aristocrat Gaming’s Dollar Storm slot game at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood. The guest won the $1,122,803 jackpot while playing the Dollar Storm slot machine with a $12.50 bet.

4. AGA: 2022 US commercial gaming revenue tops $60 billion
U.S. commercial gaming revenue reached an annual record of $60.4 billion in 2022, according to the American Gaming Association’s Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker. This marks the first $60 billion year for commercial gaming, passing the previous record of $53.0 billion set in 2021.

The year was punctuated by all-time high quarterly commercial gaming revenue of nearly $15.9 billion in Q4 2022. Sports betting and iGaming both marked single quarter highs, while traditional gaming grew 1.7% year-over-year.

“Even as we navigate macroeconomic headwinds, I am optimistic about the year ahead,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “To carry our momentum into 2023, the AGA remains focused on combating the illegal market, doubling down on responsibility, and creating favorable policy and regulatory conditions that enable our industry’s sustained success.”

3. Maine starts application process for sports wagering licenses
Wednesday morning, the Maine Gambling Control Unit announced that The Pine Tree State is joining four of the New England states in the sports betting world. Maine has a long way to go, but with the provisional sports wagering application process underway, it’s closer than it was on Tuesday.

According to the Maine Gambling Control Unit website, the following licenses must be obtained by a person or entity in order to participate in sports wagering:
  • A facility sports wagering license to conduct sports wagering in which wagers are placed within a physical location in this State.
  • A mobile sports wagering license to permit a mobile operator to operate sports wagering through an approved mobile application or other digital platform that involves, at least in part, the use of the Internet.
  • A supplier license to sell goods and services to be used in connection with sports wagering, but not to directly accept wagers.
  • A management services license to manage sports wagering on behalf of a facility sports wagering licensee or a mobile sports wagering licensee.
  • An occupational license to be employed by a facility sports wagering licensee or a mobile sports wagering licensee to operate sports wagering when the employee performs duties in furtherance of or associated with the operation of sports wagering.
Vermont is the lone New England state to not legalize any type of sports betting yet as legislators focus on the regulations of the operators.

2. New York proposes online casino business
On Wednesday, New York Senator Joe Addabbo proposed iGaming Bill S4865 which would affect both the online casino and sports betting worlds in New York.

If passed, this bill would only tax the Empire City’s nine sports wagering operators at a 30.5% tax rate as opposed to the 51% state tax they’re being hit with for mobile sports betting.

In addition to the lesser tax rate, the bill would also offer one license per operator for each of the state’s nine sports wagering operators of 10 years to conduct slots, table games, and live-dealer games provided the live-dealer studios are in state.

Despite the fact that the bill didn’t make it onto Governor Kathy Hochul’s executive budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2023, that won’t stop FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM, BetRivers Online, PointsBet USA, BallyBet, WynnBET, and Resorts World Bet to push for it in future years.

1. Massachusetts sportsbooks already under fire
There always tends to be some bugs to fix when something new is launched, and it didn’t take long for land-based sports betting in Massachusetts to fall victim to an unfortunate blunder.

Sports wagering in the Bay State does not permit the involvement of college teams in Massachusetts. However, all three casinos in the state – Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park Casino – broke this rule within the first three weeks of legal sports betting.

A Harvard men’s basketball game was available at MGM Springfield, a Boston College women’s basketball game was offered at Encore Boston Harbor, and a Merrimack men’s basketball game was on the menu at Plainridge Park Casino. The operators themselves did report the issues to the MGC once they were aware of them.

In Tuesday’s Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting, it was reported that just north of $6,800 was wagered on that Merrimack College vs. Long Island University hoops game in early February because Merrimack was marked as being a Florida school rather than a Massachusetts one.

After being looked into it, it was determined by Plainridge that no suspicious betting activity involving the Merrimack game occurred.
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