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Archive for March 14th, 2019

Caernarvon Township Officials Give the Nod to Mini-Casino Plan

Caernarvon Township officials gave Tuesday unanimous approval to Penn National Gaming’s plans for the development of a Category 4 casino in the area, despite opposition from residents

Penn National submitted its application for a license for the operation of a Category 4 mini-casino last October. The company currently owns Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pennsylvania and is looking to expand across its home state.

Penn National has pitched a plan to develop the $111 million Hollywood Casino Morgantown on a 36-acre site that is accessible from Route 10 and Pennsylvania Turnpike. The facility will feature 750 slot machines and 30 table games. Penn National also plans to add restaurants and an entertainment venue.

About 40 residents of Caernarvon Township attended a meeting with township supervisors last night. Officials voted unanimously in favor of the casino plan they were presented with, despite previously mounted opposition.

Most of the attending residents hailed the project, saying that the mini casino would revitalize the town, which has been looking for ways to blunt the consequences of a stagnant growth for years now.

According to original projections, the mini-casino could inject nearly $95 million into the local economy and to generate 255 construction jobs and 250 permanent ones. The township expects to earn around $1.6 million from the gambling facility for being its host. Caernarvon would be entitled to 2% of the casino’s slot machine revenue and to 1% of its table game revenue. The township’s budget totaled $2.5 million last year.

Groups Mount Opposition

Last night’s meeting was mostly attended by proponents of the mini-casino project. The same could not be said about the March 4 public hearing hosted by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board at the Caernarvon Township Building.

Around 250 people took part in the hearing and many of them were quite vocal on why Penn National’s plan should be rejected.

Some of the attendees said they objected to the project for religious reasons, while others argued that a casino would not fit the social environment created in the region. There were also opponents who voiced concerns over increased crime and traffic volumes that could be prompted by the opening of the Category 4 gambling venue.

According to township supervisors only around 35 of the 250 attendees of last week’s public hearing were residents of Caernarvon and only six of them were opposed to the casino.

Penn National has said it would need around 18 months to build its mini-casino as long as everything goes according to plan. The company needs regulatory approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Its project also needs to be given the nod by the state Department of Environmental Protection as well as by the Berks County Conservation District.

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Erkut Yilmaz Wins His Second WPT Title at Thunder Valley

Several months after winning his first WPT title, Erkut Yilmaz joined the exclusive club of two-time WPT champions

Winning a WPT title is a great accomplishment, but winning two WPT titles in the span of several months indicates that the winner of said titles certainly has an ace or two up their sleeve.

Erkut Yilmaz took down last night the field of the WPT Rolling Thunder Main Event for his second WPT title of the current WPT season. Yilmaz scooped $303,920 in prize money for his deep run in the tournament. His prize included a $15,000 seat into the season-ending Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions.

However, it should be said that the player already secured his entry into the season-ending event earlier this season. Yilmaz won the WPT Borgata Poker Open in September for his first title from the popular poker series.

Commenting on his latest poker achievement, the player said last night that he could not believe “it happened again, and so soon.” Yilmaz also praised his fellow final tablists, saying that the closing stage of the tournament was extremely tough. The player captured the WPT Rolling Thunder title after a lengthy heads-up against Jim Callopy. The brand-new two-time WPT champ said that his final opponent was playing great and if he had not got lucky in a couple of sports, he might have not won the Main Event.

But here is more of how action unfolded on Tuesday at the host casino.

Final Day of Action

The final day of the WPT Rolling Thunder kicked off with the six final tablists heading into the casino to battle it out for the title. Action unfolded rapidly and it took only 12 hands of play before a first player hit the rail.

It was Jerry Robinson who exited the tournament in sixth place for a payout of $50,720. Anthony Zinno was the next to leave. The player vied for a fourth WPT title that would have tied him with Darren Elias, but had to settle for a fifth-place finish and $68,860 in prize money. Dylan Linde then busted in fourth place, good for $95,530.

While the first three eliminations occurred relatively quickly after the start of the official six-handed final table, three-handed action was a completely different ordeal. It took quite a while before another player busted. That player was Ajay Chabra, but he put up quite some fight, doubling up on several occasions, before departing in third place for $130,345 in prize money.

Three-handed play was just the prelude to an even lengthier heads-up duel between Yilmaz and Jim Callopy. The match kicked off with the eventual champion as the chip leader, but Callopy quickly bulldozed his way to the chip lead and held it for a while. Yilmaz eventually doubled up twice to regain control of the majority of chips in play.

However, Callopy kept on putting up great resistance to his opponent’s effort to end the tournament. The penultimate hand of the tournament turned out to be the one that determined whom the title would go to. The two finalists were almost even in chips at that point. Yilmaz won that confrontation, leaving his opponent with just three big blinds.

The next hand just sealed it all for Yilmaz and sent Callopy to the rail. The WPT Rolling Thunder runner-up claimed $200,780 for his deep run in the tournament.

The event drew 280 entries to the host casino – Thunder Valley Casino Resort – to generate a prize pool of $1.302 million. The money was split in payouts for the top 35 finishers.

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Rhode Island Could Soon Have Mobile Sports Betting

Rhode Island House lawmakers overwhelmingly pass a mobile betting bill, the piece heads to Gov. Raimondo’s desk

The Rhode Island House of Representatives passed Tuesday a House-sponsored bill and its Senate twin that call for the authorization of mobile sports betting. It is now up to Governor Gina Raimondo to decide whether digital wagering services should be rolled out on the territory of her state.

Gov. Raimondo has included tax revenue from sports betting in her budget for the upcoming financial year, so she is not likely to veto the mobile wagering measure.

The mobile betting bill passed the full House floor with overwhelming support from legislators and only eight negative votes. The legislative piece will allow Twin River Management Group, the operator of the state’s two casinos, to roll out mobile wagering services.

Rhode Island’s two casinos – Twin River Tiverton and Twin River Lincoln – launched in-person sports betting late last year, making the state the first one in the New England region to offer legal wagering services.

According to initial projections, Rhode Island’s mobile betting market could generate up to $8 million in tax revenue for the state this year.

A group of House Representatives introduced an amendment to the bill that asked for an opinion from the state Supreme Court whether the authorization of mobile betting represented gambling expansion. If the practice was deemed a form of gambling expansion, it would require voters’ approval in a statewide referendum. The proposed amendment was voted down yesterday paving the way for a speedier roll-out of digital betting in Rhode Island.

House Majority Leader Joe Shekarchi said yesterday that the bill does not aim to expand gambling, but to provide a new way of placing bets to keep up with technology.

Lawmakers Raise Important Concerns

Despite the overwhelming support at the final vote, a number of lawmakers voiced concerns of different nature in relation to the authorization of mobile betting in the state. According to Rep. Theresa Tanzi, betting on physical premises is one thing, but legalizing mobile wagering is “a whole new animal being unleashed.”

Other lawmakers pointed out that the bill practically creates a monopoly in the provision of mobile betting, as it only authorizes Twin River Management Group and its two properties to operate digital wagering.

A provision in the bill requiring gambling customers to register at one of Rhode Island’s two casinos in order to be able to place bets via their smartphones was also protested by some legislators. According to Sen. Sam Bell, the requirement will affect customer channelization, that is, bettors could keep wagering on unregulated websites.

It is yet to be determined when mobile betting will be launched in Rhode Island. As mentioned above, Gov. Raimondo needs to sign the legislation before it takes effect as a law.

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MGM to Seek Full-Scale Casino License for Empire City

Gambling giants lobby for the authorization of Las Vegas-style casino gambling in the New York City area

The new owner of Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway in Yonkers, New York is now looking to start unlocking value and believes that one of the ways to do this is by being given the nod to operate full-scale Las Vegas-style casino gambling.

MGM Resorts International bought the harness racing track and casino in January for $850 million. The company has already indicated that it nurtures hopes to be allowed to expand the property into a full-blown Las Vegas-style resort with slot machines and table games.

At present, Empire City Casino features 5,200 video-lottery terminals and a number of electronic table games.

MGM will be seeking a full gaming license before the moratorium on casino expansion in New York is lifted in 2023. The company also hopes to enter the state’s sports betting market, should lawmakers regulate the practice.

In a meeting with state legislators, Empire City Casino’s newly appointed CEO, Uri Clinton, said Tuesday that they are educating people and talking through the countless opportunities the authorization of new casinos in the state would create, particularly in the New York area.

Gambling expansion matters have traditionally been facing numerous hurdles in the state Legislature, and it will not be any different for the idea for expanded casinos. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state officials are approaching the topic cautiously.

Gov. Cuomo told local media earlier this year that he is aware there is a topic of conversation, but has no opinion or intention to make any changes for now.

Under New York’ law, no new casinos should be authorized until 2023, when a seven-year moratorium is set to expire. The moratorium was placed to help four recently launched Upstate commercial casinos gain foothold.

Las Vegas Sands Lobbies for Casino Expansion

Aside from MGM, another Las Vegas gaming and hospitality giant is too pushing for the authorization of more casinos in New York. Las Vegas Sands has expressed interest in entering what many believe could be an extremely lucrative market.

Resorts World in Queens is too hoping to secure a full-scale license before the moratorium expires in 2023. The property and MGM released Tuesday a joint statement to support casino licenses in downstate New York.

The statement read that New York City presents a “tremendous opportunity” for hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue to be generated. In addition, casinos in the area can capture gambling revenue that currently leaves the state, Resorts World and MGM further pointed out in their joint statement.

The success of a deal for the authorization of full-scale casinos in downstate New York will likely involve getting the existing four Upstate casinos on board. The properties were promised a seven-year exclusive right to operate casino gambling, and any changes would hurt their exclusivity. In addition, under state law, the casinos will get a portion of their license fee back if the moratorium is lifted before 2023.

The four gambling venues have failed to take off as quickly as they had been projected to. In fact, some of them have even sought a state bailout because of dropping revenues. None of them have commented on the renewed effort for ending the moratorium before 2023.

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