Just as football teams around the country must be prepared for on-the-fly adjustments this season, so have sportsbook operators been forced to be endlessly nimble during the coronavirus pandemic.
That reality means making plans, remaking plans and being OK with few things going to plan.
Westgate Las Vegas executive vice president of operations Jay Kornegay knows the feeling. The company’s expansion to Colorado should have been in motion, anchored by the SuperBook inside The Lodge Casino in Black Hawk and in concert with the just-kicked-off NFL season.
Along with that celebration should have been the company’s first SuperContest outside the state of Nevada. But Week 1 of the 2020 season came and went without residents being able to take part in the big-money sweepstakes. Westgate was first letting customers know in late August that the SuperContest would not be a full-season event in Colorado, and Kornegay himself was responding to questions on social media, saying the company was hoping for a version of its midseason reboot previously offered in Nevada.
.@SuperBookSports close to taking flight in Colorado.
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) September 3, 2020
Chalk up another COVID-19-induced sigh.
Kornegay confirmed this weekend in a message to Gaming Today that the Westgate is still aiming for a second-half SuperContest Week 9 launch in Colorado, with the first game of that week scheduled for Nov. 5. Entry fee details are to be determined, although the full-season Colorado price was supposed to be $500.
One last — and essential — hurdle remains before a midseason contest could launch, however. The event itself needs to be legal.
Currently, weekly game-selection contests have not been approved by the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission, as the games were not part of the original rules set when sports wagering launched in the state in May.
State gaming division spokesperson Suzi Karrer told Gaming Today last week, however, that a rulemaking session could be opened by the commission at any time, and two regularly scheduled commission meetings are on the books between now and November.
No formal application for a rules change has been submitted to the state, Karrer said, but she clarified that initial discussions of the process could be occurring informally.
Elsewhere around the Midwest …
• The Chicago Bears’ 21-point fourth-quarter Sunday did much more than give quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and coach Matt Nagy a one-week reprieve from Windy City fans’ ire.
The 27-23 victory over the Detroit Lions made for a successful day for Illinois bettors in their first chance to legally bet on the Bears inside state lines. The Bears money line (+116) accounted for 45% of all NFL bets made through BetRivers.com, the company reported late Sunday night. The Bears-Lions game was responsible for 22% of the state’s Sunday handle, behind only the primetime showdown between the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams.
• In two states where sports wagering was around in 2019, August handle reports are seeing positive responses, even during pandemic conditions. In Indiana, which passed its one-year legalization anniversary Sept. 1, August brought a total handle of $169 million, the state’s third-highest monthly mark in history ($187.2 million in February).
And action in Iowa more than doubled its July output, rising to $50.31 million from a $22.86 million total last month. That’s the first eclipsing of $50 million since February and surpassed totals from last football season in both September and October of last year.
• A group in Nebraska has spent the year attempting to get legalization of casino gambling on the November general election ballots.
Keep the Money in Nebraska said it collected more than 475,000 signatures through a handful of petitions to put the issue to a statewide vote. But secretary of state Bob Evnen blocked the proposals from reaching the ballots in recent weeks, saying the group of proposals failed to comply with a single-subject rule in the state constitution. He told the Lincoln Journal Star that a legal challenge to the state Supreme Court “appears likely.”
All the while, Gov. Pete Ricketts has penned an open letter denouncing acts of gambling in Nebraska. Iowa has maintained a strong casino presence near the Nebraska border for decades, given the legal dichotomy in the region.