* Let’s start with sports betting…
Gov. J.B. Pritzker indicated last week Illinois sportsbooks will be open for business by “March Madness,” the upcoming annual NCAA basketball tourney. The governor last year signed a massive gambling package, legalizing sports betting at retail locations and across digital platforms.
The Illinois Gaming Board issued the first three operating wire room permits earlier this month to the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, which has a bid in for a Waukegan gaming venue, Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin and the Argosy Casino in the downstate Mississippi River town of Alton. Online sports betting license applicants need to wait 18 months after legal sports betting is underway to apply for the three gaming licenses, pegged at $20 million each, offered in Illinois.
Like the Super Bowl, the college basketball tournament draws heavy betting action from Illinoisans who think they can beat the oddsmakers. For you Illini fans, Illinois has a 77.8 percent chance of making the Big Dance, according to one sports ranking.
The Illinois Gaming Board moved the Land of Lincoln another step closer to entering the sports wagering market late Thursday afternoon when it released Phase 2 of its sports wagering rules. […]
The bill prohibits wagering on games involving in-state schools, which could be disappointing for some locals given that there are 13 Division I teams spread across eight conferences — and high-major programs Illinois and DePaul are vying for spots in the 68-team field.
The new provision allows for futures betting on events such as the NCAA tournament, covering “the final outcome of a series or combination of sports events such as a tournament or season outcome which includes both Illinois and non-Illinois collegiate teams or individuals” but also extending the prohibition on such wagers being placed on Illinois teams.
This rule is consistent with New Jersey’s prohibition on such wagers. Indiana and Iowa have no such provision regarding their college teams.
* Moving along to casinos, here’s theIndianapolis Business Journal…
The futures of a planned casino in Terre Haute and one under construction in Gary remain up in the air as the Indiana Gaming Commission looks into allegations that a former Indianapolis gambling company and one of its officers were involved in a federal campaign finance scheme. […]
At issue is Spectacle Entertainment Group’s ownership in the gambling operations in Gary and its application for the planned Terre Haute casino. Spectacle is owned in part by former executives of Centaur Gaming, which in 2018 sold its racinos in Anderson and Shelbyville to Caesars Entertainment.
A federal plea deal that became public Jan. 23 alleged that Centaur was involved in funneling thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to an Indiana congressional candidate in 2015.
Court documents didn’t name Centaur, but the Indiana Gaming Commission confirmed it’s the company involved. The plea deal also implicated the vice president and general counsel for the company, which was John Keeler.
Keeler and former Centaur Chairman and CEO Rod Ratcliff now operate Spectacle Entertainment, which is constructing the $300 million land-based casino in Gary and is the only applicant for the Terre Haute casino license.
But, you know, if Indiana would just get rid of Speaker Madigan and reform its redistricting process, this stuff wouldn’t ever happen.
Snark aside, Indiana’s troubles are good news for the Danville casino and the south suburban casino and the Chicago casino (if it ever gets off the ground).
* And now to video gaming with Hannah Meisel at the Daily Line…
Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) raked in $95,000 in campaign contributions from six major players in Illinois’ video gaming industry, including operators, a gaming parlor chain and the umbrella association that protects video gaming interests, according to reports filed this month with the Illinois State Board of Elections. […]
“One of the downsides of becoming senate president in the middle of a General Assembly and seven weeks before a primary election is I have to raise money to defend caucus members in tough primary fights,” Harmon said.
The gaming-related contributions reported by Harmon are:
$25,000 from Accel Entertainment Gaming LLC, the state’s largest video-gaming terminal operator, based in Burr Ridge. [by far the largest single donation to an Illinois politician the company has made]
$10,000 from Fair Share Gaming, LLC, a video-gaming terminal operator based in Tinley Park. [by far the largest contribution ever from the company]
$5,000 Illinois Gaming Systems, LLC, a Naperville-based video gaming terminal operator.
$25,000 from J&J Ventures, Inc., an Effingham-based firm that operates video gaming terminals along the Illinois-Missouri border. [That contribution was the largest in J&J’s history]
$5,000 from Lucy’s Place LLC, an Elmwood Park-based chain of video gaming cafés with 25 locations in Illinois.
$25,000 from the Illinois Gaming Machine Operators Association PAC, the political action committee representing video gaming interests in Illinois.
Harmon said the contributions went to his campaign committee because he is in the process of setting up a new campaign fund for Senate Democrats, called ISDF. The fund was created last week, according to campaign records, and Harmon said he expects the fund to officially replace the Illinois Democratic Victory PAC in the coming weeks. […]
The timing of the donations comes as the industry presses lawmakers to ban a major competitor to video gaming terminals: sweepstakes machines.
Harmon has not yet said where he stands on banning those sweepstakes machines.
* Speaking of sweepstakes, we recently discussed a bipartisan fact-finding mission by Reps. Kelly Cassidy and Tim Butler that looked into those games. Bernie did a story about it…
Butler put $30 into the [sweepstakes] machine and took a loss, getting $16 from the bartender. Cassidy was a winner, getting $13 for her $10 investment.
Butler said he had been told by an industry representative that cash for sweepstakes winnings aren’t condoned, and there’s a way to go online to get merchandise. But the experience in the bar confirmed for Butler that there’s not that much difference between unregulated sweepstakes machines and video terminals that can only operate with state Gaming Board approval, and involving background checks and payment of taxes.
“If you want to participate in gaming like this, you need to go through the process that we’ve set up,” Butler said.
* Citadel Advisors, Others Break From Hedge Fund Pack, Short Sports Betting Stocks: Currently, rosy projections range from $5 billion to $8 billion in earnings for US sports betting companies several years out — not large numbers — and an executive from MGM recently acknowledged that the company’s sports wagering operations may not be profitable until 2025.
* Illinois’ Harrah’s Metropolis Casino Scheduled to Reopen 8 am Tuesday Following Flood Worries
* Moran: With a Waukegan casino looming, it should be when, not if, Route 120 joins the Tri-State full access club