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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: Reopening plans edition

24 Apr 2020

By Dan Ippolito
We have seen several U.S. states near the ready point to begin reopening certain things to the public. Some have even announced a date that they will begin to do so. Many casinos in Nevada are pushing for reopening to take place sometime next month. As Las Vegas awaits the reopening of all the casinos, we saw the World Series of Poker take necessary steps to keep the 51st running of the tournament able to take place in 2020. Also this week, we have Twin River Worldwide acquiring three casinos, two tribes now able to offer sports betting and Virginia making moves in sports wagering. 5. Otoe Missouria Tribe and Comanche Nation can no offer sports betting Leaders of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and Comanche Nation on Tuesday signed new compacts with the State of Oklahoma that will help them expand their gaming footprint. The highlight of the compacts signed with Gov. Stitt is that the tribes can now provide full-blown Class III gaming. Under Class III gaming, the tribes will be able to operate sportsbooks. With that new authority, their casinos will no longer require patrons to pay an "ante" to play a hand of blackjack. "The bottom line is that the tribes signed compacts that are much better than their old gaming compacts, and they did so to improve the economic prospects of their people," Robert Rosette, an attorney who represents both tribes, said. 4. Twin River Worldwide acquires three casinos The company acquired Eldorado Resort Casino - Shreveport and MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa from Eldorado Resorts. It also purchased Bally's - Atlantic City from Caesars Entertainment. The three properties combined contain 3,318 slots, 2,092 hotel rooms and 176 tables, in addition to 6,000 square feet of convention space at the Eldorado Shreveport Resort and Casino. The Shreveport and MontBleu transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2021 and the Bally's transaction is expected to close in late 2020 or early 2021. Soo Kim, Chairman of the Twin River Board of Directors, stated, "This is a great deal for Twin River, and diversifies our business across eight states. It reaffirms our commitment to employees, customers and the communities in which we operate that Twin River will be stronger than ever." 3. 2020 WSOP postponed until the fall The 51st running of the World Series of Poker, set to begin Tuesday, 26 May from the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas is officially being postponed as a result of the public health emergency involving COVID-19. It is now targeted for fall of 2020, with exact dates and events to be determined. Back in late March, the WSOP told Casino City it was still planning to go on as scheduled. When this year’s edition does run, it will include poker’s world championship, the $10,000 buy-in Main Event championship, the richest prize pool on the poker calendar each year. Other official WSOP competitions are anticipated to be played online throughout the summer. “We are committed to running the World Series of Poker this year but need additional time to proceed on our traditional scale while prioritizing guest and staff well-being,” said Ty Stewart, Executive Director of the World Series of Poker. WSOP Europe, hosted at King's Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, remains on the calendar for the fall 2020 as well. 2. Virginia approves casino and sports betting legislation On Wednesday, during a reconvened session, the state House and the Senate of Virginia approved several amendments to legislation to bring sports betting and casino gaming to the state. Gov. Ralph Northam proposed the amendments, which include a casino in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond. Casino gaming is now in the hands of the public, as they will vote on the matter on 3 November. The sports betting bill allows for up to 18 licenses in the state. However, operators are required to pay $250,000 for a three-year license and $200,000 for a renewal. 1. Casinos begin to announce plans for reopenings While some U.S. states are not ready to begin entering the reopen process, there are some that have put plans into place and even some casinos with a planned reopen date in the next week. The Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council announced in a Facebook post yesterday that it is "starting the process of re-opening the reservation" and is expecting a limited opening of the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel in Idaho on Monday. The casino is planned to open to the general public a week from today. Companies understand that this is an unprecedented time, which calls for a change in action. In a message shared on LinkedIn, acting MGM Resorts CEO William Hornbuckle spoke about the reopening process for MGM’s properties. He mentioned how it will be “operating differently” when the reopening begins. From the casino floor to restaurants, the way things will be cleaned, the way people are greeted and more will all be enhanced and different as everyone works to get through the pandemic. In an op-ed for The Nevada Independent, Matt Maddox, CEO of Wynn Resorts, emphasizes that Nevada may be one of the states that was hit the hardest by COVID-19 and he is pushing for a May reopening for Las Vegas. Maddox hopes for an incremental opening, which includes wearing masks, keeping social distancing and increasing testing. He understands that if a spike of cases arises from this reopening then the casinos and resorts would have to take a step back. The Nevada Gaming Control Board has its own message and document when it comes to reopening. For a casino and resort to be considered in the reopening process, they must provide a detailed plan and timeline to the NCGB. The plan needs to be submitted a week before the reopening date, or at least as soon as reasonably possible. Included in the plan, must be the gaming areas, entertainment and club venues that are part of the reopening. If certain areas are going to be phased in, then dates must be included for each venue. These are just some of the highlights listed in the document. Now that this is out, I am sure we will begin to see more properties submitted reopening plans to prepare for a potential welcoming back of guests in the near future.
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