For some football, that is. NFL season literally kicks off tonight with the much-hyped Detroit Lions visiting the champion Kansas City Chiefs. But the on-field action threatens to be overshadowed by the off-field brouhaha surrounding sports betting. (Nor is it a football-only problem.) The league has been talking out of both sides of its mouth on this issue, decrying wagering by coaches and players, yet raking in the dough from a trio of partnerships with sports betting firms. After spending decades bitching and moaning about the threat to its ‘integrity’ posed by legal wagering, the NFL couldn’t get in on the action fast enough. So it’s ill-qualified to occupy the moral high ground.
That being said, there’s no excuse for the dog-ate-my-homework attitude of players caught with their hand in the betting cookie jar. League rules are pretty simple. Don’t bet on pro football and don’t bet (at all) while at team facilities. That’s not rocket science. And although few NFL players could be accused of being rocket scientists, there’s no excuse for not understanding the betting rules, whose critics would have us believe are an arcane formulation that would put advanced calculus to shame.
One figure who doesn’t think NFL rules go far enough is mega-agent Leigh Steinberg, who can count a few supporters among players as well. Some teams drive the point home by reading their players each breaking news item about a league betting mishap, a salutary measure. A surprisingly good story in the New York Post runs down the complexities of the betting issue for the league, which is highlighted by having the next Super Bowl being held in Las Vegas. Remember, if a player so much as sets foot in a sports book it’s hello, suspension. Meanwhile, online books are placing all their chips on the 2023-4 season as the one in which they’ll finally swing to a profit (as FanDuel has already done). So no pressure there. Speaking of pressure, 73.5 million people are expected to wager on pro football, so one can well imagine the verbal abuse (and worse) being heaped on players when they don’t come through with some Joe Sixpack’s prop bet.
Besides, when ESPN‘s weekday-morning NFL show is prominently bannered as being sponsored by DraftKings, the new moral is driven home: It’s not whether you win or lose but did you cover the spread?
In a triumph of cookie-cutter thinking, Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Kirk Hendrick has imposed a new rule that will mean thousands of untested gaming devices will soon be invading Silver State soil. If you can get your machine approved in, say, Rhode Island, it’s now A-OK for Nevada. The rest of the Control Board is cut out of the loop in the fatwa, which places sole regulatory discretion in Hendrick’s hands. (And you didn’t think the current American trend toward authoritarianism had any ramifications for gaming.) Hendrick is caving to manufacturers’ pressure with this move. According to the Nevada Independent‘s Howard Stutz, “One company representative [inept ex-Gov. Bob List] suggested Nevada was no longer ‘the gold standard’ when it came to innovation.” If by “innovation” you mean “taking a wild leap into the virtually unknown,” well, yes.
This putsch means Nevada regulators will be soon overseeing devices with which they are unfamiliar. Perhaps instead of wailing about a too-slow approval process, perhaps gaming companies should be pressuring the state to properly fund oversight of industry which is still governed by a regime the size of the one that rode herd on the 1990s. As Big Gaming continues to upsize, Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) continues to downsize and deregulate, wrongheadedly. The untoward consequences will probably not be long in coming.
Speaking of a backlogged Control Board, it’s taken it a year and a half to approve Scott Kreeger‘s appointment as president of Station Casinos. Had he been found unsuitable (and we see no reason for that), what a disservice to both Station and Nevadans would have been perpetrated by waiting so bloody long to figure it out. The session was highlighted by another proxy fight between the NGCB and the Culinary Union, which wanted to litigate Station’s anti-union activities. We would say it’s not the time or place to do it, save that Hendrick & Co. ensure that there is never a right time or place to discuss the issue. For its part, Station trotted out a few current employees who spoke highly of the company.
As for Kreeger, the ostensible subject for the hearing, he’s a refugee from Sam Nazarian‘s shambolic SLS Las Vegas. He also spent three years in Macao, working for Galaxy Entertainment, and one wonders what Macanese lessons he has to impart to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, his Galaxy tenure was truncated by the pandemic and Kreeger sounds genuinely happy to be with Station now. And why not? The company’s in an expansive mood, with a growth story that Kreeger will be charged with selling on Wall Street. Station, he says, has a 10-year plan and we hope he’ll be around to see it to fruition. Aside from some predictable ass-kissing by cretinous NGCB member George Assad, about the only eyebrow-raising aspect of the hearing was the disclosure that Station had been over a year without a president prior to Kreeger’s arrival. That may have been a formality from the Fertitta Brothers‘ perspective but why was it allowed to slide?
Steve Wynn says he couldn’t sexually harass his employees because he’s legally blind and ostensibly can’t chase them around a room. Seriously. And the dog ate his homework. Wynn’s attorneys also fell back on the “disgruntled former employee” line against Jorgen Nielsen. The main purpose of the disgruntled Wynn’s defamation lawsuit against Nielsen appears to be to chill anti-Steve speech and it ought to be tossed on those grounds alone.
In a related development, Wynn Resorts bought its way out of trouble by settling quietly with nine Judy Does, victims of Steve Wynn’s predation. The nine opted for anonymity out of a fear of the very retaliation that Wynn is visiting upon Nielsen. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal‘s Richard Velotta, “the women gave graphic descriptions of how Steve Wynn asked personal questions of a sexual nature, forced them to massage him near his genital area, and required them to provide services to him in secluded areas, including his office.” Per the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Judy Does “repeatedly expressed a willingness to provide more information, so long as their privacy could be assured.” Thanks but we’ll take your word for it, ladies.
Jottings: Iowa State University bet-happy QB Hunter Dekkers and four fellow student athletes have pleaded guilty to making underage wagers, using their parents as ‘beards’ in some cases. Possible NCAA discipline may follow and we hope it does, as the plea deal enabled the lads’ attorney to ludicrously claim vindication for his clients … Maryland casinos dipped rather sharply in August, down 5% to $161.5 million. MGM National Harbor represented $68.5 million of that (-5%). Maryland Live accounted for $55 million (-3%), while Horseshoe Baltimore limped along with a measly $15.5 million (-10.5% and bad by Horseshoe standards). Also-rans were Hollywood Perryville ($7 million, -1%), Ocean Downs ($10 million, -4.5%) and Rocky Gap Resort, now with 100% more Century Casinos, tallying $5.5 million, -7% … How the not-so-mighty have fallen: Entertainer Gigi D’Alessio was booked into Bally’s Atlantic City, as part of his “world tour,” at $125 a seat. Those tickets have been marked all the way down to $35 a head. Writes our Atlantic City correspondent, “I think not many people know who Gigi is (or care) and Bally’s booked him for two nights, October 14th and15th. Probably will be a near-empty showroom.” Astute move, Bally’s.