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Archive for February 22nd, 2019

Kentucky Sports Betting Bill Sweeps Through First Committee

Bill authorizing wagering on sports in Kentucky gained overwhelming support in House committee

A bill calling for the legalization of sports betting in Kentucky swept through a House committee vote on Wednesday, but it still needs to overcome a number of legislative obstacles, including a 60% majority support in the full House, which many believe would be an extremely challenging task.

Sponsored by Rep. Adam Koenig, House Bill 175 authorizes the provision of sports betting at the state’s existing horse racetracks or at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta as well as via a mobile betting app. However, if bettors want to place bets using their smartphones, they will first need to register in person at a licensed location so that they verify their identity and that they are of legal gambling age.

HB 175 gained overwhelming support by the House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee during yesterday’s vote. However, it still has a long way to go as it will have to gather at least 60 affirmative votes out of 100 to pass the full House floor.

Aside from in-person and mobile betting, the bill will also legalize online poker and fantasy sports, if it survives all pending legal hurdles.

Revenue for the State’s Pension System

If HB 175 takes affect as a law and sports betting goes live in Kentucky, in-person operations will be taxed at 10.25% on revenue, while online operations will be charged a 14.25% tax on revenue. Most of the tax revenue generated from sports betting will be used by state lawmakers to narrow a gaping pension deficit that currently stands at more than $40 billion.

A significantly smaller amount of the tax money contributed will be allocated to a gambling addiction treatment and prevention program.

Of Kentucky’s neighboring states, only West Virginia went live with sports betting following last May’s ruling of the US Supreme Court that struck down a federal ban on wagering. West Virginia lawmakers passed a sports gambling legislation in the spring of 2018 in anticipation of the SCOTUS decision and launched legal betting in August.

According to projections, Kentucky could reap nearly $50 million in annual tax revenue, if it manages to legalize sports betting before the rest of its neighboring states. However, if other surrounding states authorize the practice, analysts believe that Kentucky could annually collect around $20 million in betting taxes.

Commenting on what is next for his bill, Rep. Koenig said yesterday that he does not know how it is going to go and that they will now “have to work on talking to other members.” The legislator went on to say that they have a good chance to get HB 175 passed “if everyone votes their conscience.”

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The post Kentucky Sports Betting Bill Sweeps Through First Committee appeared first on Casino News Daily.

ARIA Renames The Ivey Room amid Phil Ivey-Borgata Legal Brawl

ARIA Resort & Casino has rebranded its high stakes poker area, previously named after poker star Phil Ivey

February 20, 2019 marked the end of a poker era in Las Vegas. The Ivey Room, one of the premium poker hubs in Sin City, no longer exists, or at least not under that name.

ARIA Resort & Casino debuted The Ivey Room in May 2010, just a few months after the opening of the glitzy resort and days ahead of the 2010 edition of the World Series of Poker. The room was named after poker pro Phil Ivey to celebrate one of the greatest players of one of the greatest games.

For nearly nine years, The Ivey Room was among the most popular high stakes rooms in Las Vegas and drew some of the world’s most accomplished players. It was the biggest competitor of the legendary Bobby’s Room, known to be the high stakes area of the Bellagio.

On Wednesday morning, ARIA staff removed The Ivey Room plaque to replace it with one bearing the name Table 1.

ARIA Director of Poker Operations Sean McCormack said yesterday that it was time for a change and that the idea to name the high stakes space Table 1 came from Elayne Teitelbaum, the ARIA poker room host. McCormack went on to say that the new name seemed fitting as a lot of ARIA’s players have already been referring to the room as Table 1 for a while now.

Does the Name Change Have to Do with Ivey’s Legal Battle with Borgata?

Phil Ivey has been embroiled in a lengthy legal battle with Atlantic City’s Borgata. Both ARIA and the Borgata are owned by Las Vegas gaming and hospitality giant MGM Resorts International. Speculations quickly emerged that The Ivey Room’s new name had a lot to do with its namesake’s legal problems with ARIA’s sister property.

McCormack said yesterday that they thought it was time to rename the room as nothing lasts forever. He went on to say that Ivey “is still an incredible player and still very much relevant in the poker world.” He did not link the poker pro’s ongoing legal battle to their decision to rebrand the poker room.

The latest installment in the Ivey-Borgata saga involved a federal judge giving the green light to the Atlantic City property to go after the player’s assets in Nevada in a bid to reclaim more than $10 million from him. Back in 2012, Ivey and his companion player Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun amassed $9.6 million in baccarat winnings by playing the game at the Boardwalk property.

The two player resorted to the controversial edge-sorting technique, which got them in the big legal trouble they are currently in. As Casino News Daily reported last week, the story of Kelly Sun will be told in a feature film by the producers of box office hit Crazy Rich Asians and her, and Ivey’s battle against the Borgata will probably be paid quite some attention to in the new movie.

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Ocean Resort Casino Names New CEO, CFO; Pens Arena Football Partnership

Luxor appoints new CEO and CFO of newly acquired Ocean Resort Casino; property secures major Arena Football League partnership

Luxor Capital Group parted ways with two top executives at Ocean Resort Casino less than a month after it took over the Boardwalk hotel and casino property.

The New York-based hedge fund announced earlier this week that the resort’s CEO Frank Leone and Chief Financial Officer Alan Greenstein were leaving their posts and would be replaced by Eric Matejevich and Terry Glebocki, respectively.

Mr. Matejevich previously served as Chief Operating Officer of the now-shuttered Atlantic Club Casino Hotel. He is stepping in as an interim CEO of Ocean Resort Casino until a permanent replacement is appointed. As for Ms. Glebocki, previously a Chief Financial Officer of Tropicana Atlantic City, she will replace Mr. Greenstein as the new CFO of Ocean Resort Casino.

Luxor said in a statement from earlier this week that as they are moving forward with enhancements at the property the expertise of the newly appointed executives “will be invaluable in continuing [their] momentum.”

As mentioned above, Luxor assumed control over Ocean Resort Casino earlier this month. The resort occupies the building of the former Revel, which closed doors in 2014 after just two and a half years of operation.

Florida developer Glenn Straub purchased the shuttered Revel in the spring of 2015, pitching ambitious plans for its reopening. However, that never happened and the businessman sold the property to Bruce Deifik in January 2018. Mr. Deifik paid $200 million for the closed resort and invested another $200 million into renovating and reopening it in June 2018.

Ocean Resort Casino never really managed to gain the momentum its owner hoped for as its monthly gaming revenue has stayed at or near the bottom of Atlantic City’s nine operational casinos since it opened doors.

News emerged last month that Luxor would take over the struggling property and would invest $70 million to enhance its casino floor, add a buffet and more rooms and suites. The New York hedge fund is currently seeking to obtain a temporary gaming license from New Jersey casino regulators in order to be able to manage the property while its application for a full license is under review.

A specially formed trust will be running Ocean Resort Casino until Luxor secures its temporary license. Mr. Matejevich was named trustee under the divestiture agreement New Jersey gambling regulators approved earlier this month.

Ocean Resort Casino to Host Atlantic City’s New Arena Football League Team

In a separate round of news, it became known on Wednesday that Ocean Resort Casino has become the official host hotel of the newly-formed Atlantic City Arena Football League team for the upcoming 2019 season.

The Boardwalk property will host the Atlantic City franchise throughout training camp, which kicks off in April. Ocean Resort Casino will also welcome visiting teams and referees throughout the season.

Fans of the teams will be offered special rates and discounted tickets. The property said in a Wednesday press release announcing the partnership that more information about the discounts will be released at a later point.

Commenting on the latest announcement, Ocean Resort Casino VP of Marketing and Sales Peter Ciccone said that they look forward to “partnering with Atlantic City AFL and assisting in growing both [their] brands.”

The yet-to-be-named team will play its home games at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall. Its first game is set for May 4 against Columbus.

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Massachusetts Casino Regulator Votes to Settle Wynn Lawsuit

MassGaming voted to settle lawsuit with Steve Wynn to clear way for publication of Wynn Resorts suitability probe findings

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted on Wednesday to reach a settlement with embattled casino boss Steve Wynn that will hopefully remove all legal obstacles before the publication of the regulator’s report on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to operate the Encore Boston Harbor resort.

Mr. Wynn sued last November the Gaming Commission and Wynn Resorts in a Nevada court, arguing that his former company improperly communicated information to the Massachusetts regulator that violated attorney-client privilege.

The Gaming Commission requested to obtain that information as part of its investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Mr. Wynn leveled by former and current Wynn Resorts staff members. The regulator launched its probe shortly after the publication of the Wall Street Journal’s detailed report about a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment by Mr. Wynn.

The commission’s investigative team also looked into whether Wynn Resorts hid information about the alleged sexual harassment incidents during a suitability review conducted back in 2013 before the Las Vegas company was granted its license to operate a casino resort in the Greater Boston area.

A settlement between Mr. Wynn and the Gaming Commission would clear the way for the regulator to receive the report compiled by its team of investigators and to move forward with its decision whether Wynn Resorts is suitable to operate the Encore Boston Harbor integrated resort. The property is slated to open doors in June in the city of Everett, near Boston.

The Uncertainty of Protracted Litigation

The Nevada judge charged with Mr. Wynn’s lawsuit against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission scheduled a hearing on the issue for March 4. The disgraced businessman, who last February stepped down from his post as CEO of Wynn Resorts and sold his stock in the company he founded, is seeking to permanently block the release of MassGaming’s findings.

However, the regulator voting to reach a settlement with Mr. Wynn could change the course of the lawsuit. Commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll told the Boston Herald on Wednesday that yesterday’s vote “eliminates the uncertainty of protracted litigation” and allows for “a robust, public review of its investigatory findings.” The regulatory body did not provide information about the terms of the agreement with Mr. Wynn.

News emerged last week that Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, which was among the bidders for the Greater Boston casino license, has filed amended claims to its lawsuit from last fall against Wynn Resorts. Sterling argues that the license awarding process was marred by a “number of improprieties” and that then Commission Chair Stephen Crosby lobbied for the Boston casino resort to be built in Everett where Wynn Resorts bought a portion of land owned by a long-time friend of the regulator back in 2012.

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