February gaming $$$ looking positive

February gaming $$$ looking positive

February 27, 2018 3:00 AM


As we bring February to a close, indications are suggesting, for gaming (other than Baccarat) and non-gaming revenue, the state of Nevada and more particularly Las Vegas and surrounding area may enjoy one of the best February’s ever.

For those wondering why I excluded Baccarat, Chinese New Year events on the Strip had great volume and enjoyed good action, but there were not nearly as many Mega-Whale sightings as hoped for. Also, with Baccarat some players bet at such lofty levels they can turn casino wins into casino losses in just a couple of hours when Lady Luck sits on their side of the table.

Keep in mind, February saw the Super Bowl, lots of nice conventions, net pay increases from reduced federal tax withholdings, lots of bonus check money in action and Chinese New Year landing on the same long weekend that enjoyed Presidents’ Day. In fact, a number of Las Vegas Strip Resorts had such demand on the combined Presidents’ Day/Chinese New Year weekend they commanded higher room rates than six weeks earlier for New Year’s Eve 2018.

Nothing makes gaming executives smile more than their customers having lots of reasons to come to their favorite resorts with extra cash in their pockets. Unfortunately, as Nevada is way behind the rest of the civilized gaming world in the speed of gaming data collection, we will have to wait till the end of March to find out how well the casinos really did in February.

Bad news: Wagering Act

Regular readers of this column know I’ve has been a long-time believer that the existing federal ban on sports wagering is unconstitutional. The industry should be lobbying with one voice at various state legislatures and not let the leagues get too much of a head start in guiding the state by state process of approving sports betting laws and regulations.

To the very point of leagues lobbying various state legislatures, there is a document floating around reputed to be the NBA’s and MLB’s preferred structure for governing sports wagering titled Model Sports Wagering Act.

After reading it I thought, if it is a legitimate document, and I have no reason to think it is not, it was probably composed by a combination of professional lobbyists (likely including a lawyer or two) and one or more former gaming regulators who would purport knowledge of gaming regulations governing sportsbooks – all of whom probably know absolutely nothing and/or have no practical knowledge about operating a sportsbook.

While I do not fault the leagues for taking a shot at getting as much money and control over the sports betting opportunities on their leagues as they can, both the industry and various states would be foolish to essentially let the regulatory power over their sports wagering business shift to the leagues.

I am not opposed to the leagues getting some of the action and believe their support of legal sports wagering would be a good thing, but it should be fair.

In essence the proposed Wagering Act would basically:

1. Compel the books to pay 1% of the gross wagers as a rights and integrity fee. Whereas the Federal government only asks for ¼ of a percent and there is no consideration for books making layoff wagers, this would effectively double tax those wagers.

2. Require the books to only use the leagues’ or league-approved information services for information necessary for wagering purposes. This would not only provide a monopoly to the leagues in which they can set any price they desire for the information but sets up a real operating problem for offering bets on sporting events that do not have an organized body that could provide such data. If you must only use the data provided by the sport’s governing body and they have no data, how can you legally make a line?

3. Allow the leagues to “restrict, limit, exclude wagering” on events as they deem fit. This power could essentially allow the leagues to kill straight bets or bets on anything that could look like fantasy wagers, essentially giving the leagues preemptive rights beyond those of the states’ regulating bodies.

4. Bar a whole host of league affiliated persons from wagering (like a ticket writer has a prayer of knowing where a cash bettor at the betting window works).

While there are many other fundamental absurdities in the proposed language, the sports betting industry should sit up, take notice, prepare a realistic counter proposal and not let themselves be put in a position of either economic or regulatory control from leagues that do not hold, possess or intend to get any form of gaming license in applicable jurisdictions.