Brendan Bussmann

Windy City Gaming: Chicago will finally plant its flag for a casino development

Casinos in urban environments, not always the norm, have offered challenges in certain jurisdictions.

Major markets such as Philadelphia have had casinos near downtown for years. Pittsburgh and Detroit also feature casino gaming in downtown settings. The Washington, D.C. market, with MGM National Harbor, has also made an impact. But in recent years, more developers have embraced urban environments to meld properties into the fabric of the greater communities they serve. Two of the more recent examples were in Massachusetts, with MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor.

Some of the greatest opportunities for gaming expansion in the United States remain in urban settings. For years, New York, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas and Houston have been seen as potential expansion sites. But the most immediate opportunity exists in Chicago, which will locate a gaming development within the city itself.

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Research Brief: State Legislative Update on U.S. Sports Betting & Online Gaming February 2021

The buzz from this year’s Super Bowl continues to catch fire with the legal sports betting market as it continues to expand across the country. Almost every media outlet has talked about not only the matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs (or Brady vs. Mahomes), but also a story about wagering, handle, the line, and some of the major brand names across the states that are conducting legal sports betting. This has been the case for several years, but sports betting has become much more mainstream.

This year’s Super Bowl did not offer the match up that everyone had expected between two premier teams featuring what many viewed as the ‘GOAT’ vs. the rising star “Kid.” Tampa Bay’s dominance in all facets of the game threw many sportsbooks off that had the line hovering around three to four points leading up to kickoff. The American Gaming Association prior to the game estimated that $4.3 Billion would be wagered.

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Research Brief: U.S. Court of Appeals First Circuit Wire Act Ruling

While most of the attention in the United States was focused on the Inauguration on January 20, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit released its ruling on a case between the New Hampshire Lottery Commission and Neopollard, a lottery vendor, against the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) regarding the Interstate Wire Act of 1961. The suit was brought by New Hampshire in response to the memorandum issued by the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (“OLC”) on November 2, 2018 (the “2018 Memo”), which stated that the Wire Act applied to all forms of gaming and not just sports betting. The 2018 Memo reversed a previous interpretation of the original Wire Act issued in 2011 (the “2011 Memo”).

The 49-page ruling confirmed the district court’s ruling that the Wire Act only applies to a “sporting event or contest.” In light of today’s other activities, which largely surrounded the onboarding of a new administration that will push to reinstitute many Obama Era policies, this further accentuates the problems with the 2018 Memo and the stance issued by the Department of Justice in 2018.

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Research Brief: State Legislative Outlook 2021

As 2020 comes to a close and 2021 begins, there is hope for new beginnings. While this happens among many as new year’s resolutions and new starts happen in any year, this is the case now more than ever as the world continues to grapple with the Great Shutdown and SARS-CoV-2. A little over a year ago, the world began the journey that none have experienced in over 100 years since the last pandemic. No one could have predicted that the year would have gone the way that it did, with brick-and-mortar gaming being brought to a complete halt, in some cases more than once. The world also came to realize that online gaming and mobile sports betting can be a strong source of revenue to supplement, not supplant, existing gaming revenue. While the world hopes for a quick turn of the calendar as turning over a new leaf, it will take some time before the world returns to normal and excels beyond, having learned from the past year’s experiences.

One thing that can be noted at the close of 2020 is that revenues for sports betting and online gaming continue to grow. Numerous states have launched their product in the middle of the pandemic, including Colorado, the District of Columbia, Tennessee, and others. Others continued to modify their setup, with Illinois in flux as it hands down executive orders to allow in-person registration without enacting strong, permanent regulations. While many states are still trying to move forward as they launch their market, revenue will continue to increase, with many markets now reaching a stabilized year for growth with a favorable sports calendar that included almost every major sport this past fall. This includes modified schedules in football, baseball, basketball, hockey, golf, and others.

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2020 Trends: Latin America

The gaming market throughout Latin America continues to emerge. While gaming has been a strong form of entertainment, Latin America can be a mystery to some that have not followed it as closely. Like Asia, it remains one of the great opportunities for expansion in the industry on a wide scale, from sports betting to further development of brick-and-mortar facilities from Mexico to Brazil to Uruguay.

Many of these governments at all levels continue to face challenges as they had relied on gaming as a source of tax revenue prior to the Covid-19 pandemic as revenue is still rebounding. This has further put burdens on governments, as those employed in gaming have also struggled in 2020 with facilities operating under limited function post-shutdown and in some cases will remain closed until the end of 2020.

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2020 Trends: Japan

Like the rest of the world, the development of integrated resorts in Japan has been significantly stalled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Japan is just beginning to reemerge as it is now starting to allow foreigners back into the country. While many speculated that 2020 would be a robust year for the integrated resorts, it looks like Covid, like the rest of the world, will push IRs back into 2021 as things finally start to move down the road.

Earlier this year, Japan transitioned from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stepping down for health reasons to the current Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Suga, who was Abe’s top lieutenant, has been a strong proponent of the integrated resorts initiative. His ascendancy was the ideal outcome in terms of the succession from Abe. Suga will not be a caretaker prime minister and wants to leave his own stamp over the next year coming into a fresh election next September.

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Research Brief: State Legislative Update on U.S. Sports Betting & Online Gaming December 2020

Some may believe that the counting of votes is related to the continuation of the November Election. As the November Election continues to take up the airwaves, states are certifying their results, leading up to the Electoral College vote that occurred on December 14th. While court challenges remain, the counting of votes in sports betting showed a wide passage of legislation to legalize the activities. November proved that voters took a strong stance showing that sports betting is supported by a plurality in these jurisdictions.

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Revving the Engine: How Southeast Asia is using gaming as an economic generator

It seems like an eternity since we heard discussions about the robust nature of gaming in Southeast Asia. Recent discussions have surrounded the continued development of brick-and-mortar facilities in areas like Vietnam, Laos and others. Most of the concerns about gaming were related to the crackdown on online gaming that had been influenced by China and the geopolitical pressures they propagate to exercise their policy views on various parts of the world.

However, SARS-CoV-2 came and shuttered the gaming world as part of the Great Shutdown. Since then, many existing land-based gaming properties have struggled to reopen or, if open, are operating at less than full capacity.

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Research Brief: State Legislative Update on U.S. Sports Betting & Online Gaming November 2020

While the national scene continues to sort through its trials and tabulations at the presidential level, the 2020 Election saw a great deal of success for gaming at the ballot box. Gaming was featured on the ballot in six states, with five of those having direct implications to sports betting. As will be highlighted later on in this brief, this continues to show that taking measures to the ballot is a method that operators, legislators, and regulators should not shy away from. The key is having the proper education campaign on the positive impacts of sports betting, as well as being prepared to provide answers to the naysayers.

While this applied well to sports betting and to a lesser extent brick and mortar operations, the future for iGaming may not have the same success unless an effective education campaign is run. iGaming brings in a different element to the ballot and legislative conversation, and it is one that will be tested in the coming months as every state legislature meets in 2021. Passage of sports betting measures is often easier when voters can often turn on their television, radio, or social media apps and discuss the line, just as one would discuss how well or how poorly a quarterback is playing in any given football game. iGaming is a more challenging sell, as this is viewed more similarly to a traditional slot machine or a table game directly in the hands of consumers, and legislators need to know that the right measures would in place for financial and consumer protections.

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Research Brief: State Legislative Update on U.S. Sports Betting & Online Gaming October 2020

September became the crossroads never seen before in sports. Between the NBA and the NHL that were in their playoffs, the start of a limited college football season, MLB rounding out its abbreviated regular season, the start of the NFL, along with NASCAR, the U.S. Open in both golf and tennis, and the Kentucky Derby, it was quite an opportunity for sports bettors and operators. Numerous states continue to see record setting levels of revenue. Due in part to the unbalanced schedule as well as the continued increase in those states that now have active sports betting, record volumes overall are being wagered legally in the U.S. since the repeal of PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act).

The past month also saw significant agreements and deals between operators, media companies, and teams. The two biggest deals of the month involved NBC Universal and ESPN. In a blockbuster $500 million deal between NBC Universal and PointsBet, the two companies are moving down the field with sports betting that will become part of the viewing experience. Meanwhile, ESPN confirmed its sports betting partner in Caesars Entertainment and William Hill. DraftKings continues on as its fantasy sports partner. The Caesars Entertainment-William Hill partnership brings further light to the recently announced acquisition by Caesars of William Hill that is schedule be completed pending regulatory approval in the second half of 2021.

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