No, this isn’t about politics. Or maybe it is. Either way, it’s another chapter in the crony-capitalism, juiced-in deal Washington, D.C.’s puppet government made with Intralot. Along with the Washington D.C. Lottery, Intralot is parent of that malign progeny GamebetDC. The latter recently changed its rules, suddenly imposing bet limits. It claimed to be motivated by problem-gambling worries. The real reason turns out to be that sharps were finding weaknesses in GamebetDC and using them to beat the system at sports wagers. Good for them! Not good enough for our nation’s capital, however …
Now that GamebetDC has realized it’s the “fish” at the table, it’s imposed a $1K ceiling on bets and set limits for wagering sessions. Sounds like dirty pool to us. A betting session can also be shut down if a customer wagers a subjective amount of ‘excessive’ money. Nor is there a specific time limit for making bets. Basically, if you’re beating the house, the house can 86 you. In particular, one keen-eyed bettor caused Intralot to soil its diapers. As Sport Handle explains, “The bettor exploited Intralot’s shaky bookmaking skills by sitting down at the kiosk and comparing GambetDC odds to other operators. When a stark enough discrepancy was found between them, the bettor would place their wagers.”
This is the same District of Columbia that zeroed out all problem-gambling help from its latest budget. As problem gambling expert Brianne Doura-Schawohl rightly fumed, “I am embarrassed for DC. Frustrated for the players and residents. Limiting a player who is winning due to ‘concerns’ while simultaneously never expending $.01 into education, prevention or treatment for PG. Then cutting all PG funding. Disgusting.” We couldn’t have said it better.
Still, despite GamebetDC’s effort to re-tilt the odds in its favor, it is no danger of losing its monopoly stranglehold over D.C. Not even after it went down on the day of the Super Bowl, a cardinal sin against sports fans. At present, Intralot is on track to have its sweetheart contract renewed through July 2029. This should bother D.C.’s city fathers much more than it does. If you go to a brick-and-mortar book you can have other choices but online bettors are SOL. As former councilwoman Elissa Silverman says, “The Council needs to scrap Gambet and move to a market-based system.” And the sooner the better.
We mark Elephant Awareness Day by drawing your attention to the political plight of a member of the Elephant Party, North Carolina casino hustler Sen. Phil Berger (R). He finds himself an endangered species for having pled Cordish Cos.’ case in the latest session of the Lege. As it happens, Cordish had optioned a plot of land, recently rezoned for gaming, in Rockingham County, despite vehement public opposition. And just who happens to represent that area? Berger. This in spite of recent polling showing residents against casinos 60% to 28%. Given the amounts of Cordish-related lucre that found their way into Berger’s campaign coffers, it’s hard to say he was making a principled stand. He’s no Liz Cheney … but does stand a comparable chance of being shunted into the unemployment line. Especially with a 41% disapproval rating (as against only 26% favorability). Berger’s alliance with Cordish also caused 59% of constituents to think more negatively of him. Boy, did he misread the tea leaves this session.
Were reelection conducted today, Berger could count on just 30% support, against 45% opposition—an all-but-insurmountable obstacle. However, Berger has tied himself to Big Gaming’s mast, saying he continues to support enabling legislation—and hang the consequences, apparently. At least some other Tarheel State Republicans see that gaming is a sinking ship. Gubernatorial candidate Mark Walker is against it, among others. Walker’s rival, current Lt. Governor Mark Robinson (R) is running from the issue as fast as he can, avoiding stating a position. Might he know that it’s a live grenade? He’s certainly not flinging his body upon it.
Meanwhile, back on the Las Vegas Strip, there’s a new battle line in the multi-front war being waged by the Culinary Union. It’s put a target on Alexxa’s Kitchen & Bar, at Paris-Las Vegas, demanding “respect” from owner JRS Hospitality. Seems JRS has taken a page from Amazon and hired union busters Labor Information Systems to browbeat Alexxa’s workforce. Labor Information is accused by the Culinary of using “threats and intimidation” to keep Alexxa employees toeing the line. Complaints against JRS run from a lack of job security at the restaurant to an absence of health insurance, which employees allegedly must buy out of their own pocket. Eight other Paris-LV restaurants are unionized, which evidently means as much as $6 more per hour, plus benefits. Hopefully, landlord Caesars Entertainment will prevail upon JRS to do the right thing by its workforce.
OK, so Circa Sports got it slightly wrong on that Thursday-night tilt between the hapless New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers, predicting a much narrower margin of victory for the Niners and a higher scoring total (45 points). But we’ll ride with Circa’s oddsmakers this weekend and see how their forecasts prove. An 11.5-point margin for the Dallas Cowboys over the consensus worst team in the NFL, the Arizona Cardinals, looked conservative … until Trevon Diggs tore his ACL, that is. And will the Los Angeles Rams really just squeeze past the punchless Cincinnati Bengals now that Cincy QB Joe Burrow is being rested? The Los Angeles Chargers/Minnesota Vikings throwdown is expected to be Week 3’s highest-scoring game, too close to call. The biggest blowout is thought by Circa to be Kansas City, romping at home over the Chicago Bears. A scoring frenzy is also expected when our Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Las Vegas Raiders. Pittsburgh won ugly last week but Las Vegas lost big, so this outcome is up in the air.
In other projected outcomes, the Cleveland Browns prevail over the Tennessee Titans, the Jacksonville Jaguars trample the Houston Texans and the New Orleans Saints fall short of the Green Bay Packers. What about the New England Patriots at the New York Jets? Somebody has to lose this one and Circa picks the Nyets to narrowly take the dive. Road teams are favored, understandably, in Buffalo Bills/Washington Commanders and Philadelphia Eagles/Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Elsewhere, the Denver Broncos go to the glue factory against the Miami Dolphins, the Atlanta Falcons fall a bit short of the Detroit Lions, the Indianapolis Colts get picked over by the Baltimore Ravens and the wretched Carolina Panthers are carrion for the Seattle Seahawks. Panthers owner David Tepper, architect of this mess, don’t let the doorknob hit you on the way out.
Should we throw a pity party for MGM Resorts International in the wake of the Sept. 10 cyber-rape of its computer systems? Columnist Sam Novak says no and supports his argument with a long litany of sins by MGM against its customers, its employees (and the many ex-employees it has left in its wake) and the Las Vegas community in general. Novak’s j’accuse makes for compelling reading. We’d only amend his indictment to note that previous MGM malefactors against the working man include not only Jim Murren but Clifford Perlman (who tried to open MGM Grand as a non-union property) and J. Terrence Lanni, who conducted a massive jihad against the MGM workforce, using the 9/11-induced dropoff in Vegas tourism as cover. Sometimes it seems like the only thing that Big Gaming hates more than employees is consumers. Speaking of which …
We’ll be skipping impending Global Gaming Expo this year and, after reading Novak’s description of present-day Sin City, we’re not sorry. He depicts a community being sacrificed on the altar of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, the most-hated sports event in Vegas since the NBA All-Star Game of 2007. (We were there for it and will never forget the frisson of unease that pervaded the MGM Grand casino floor.) The misdeeds include ripping up much of Reid International Airport for ill-timed repairs, done to placate Formula One fans, and the hopeless disruption of traffic on and around the Strip. Oh, and the tree massacre. The latter has extended now from Bellagio to The Mirage, so we can add Hard Rock International to the list of arboreal miscreants. It’s a dubious distinction.
Jottings: Where’s the recession for which Wall Street keeps hoping? Not in gambling? U.S. casinos just recorded their best July in history, to the tune of $5.4 billion. That’s a 6% improvement from the year previous … The overwhelming majority of Pennsylvania casinos are smoking-enabled, including backslider Mount Airy Resort. Even so, state Rep. Dan Frankel (D) has introduced a bill in the Lege to outlaw smoking in Keystone State casinos. The political calculus is against him, so he has our sympathies … The lower house of Brazil‘s parliament has forwarded a bill to legalize sports betting, a step forward in a slow-moving process. Advocates hope to realize $335 million in tax revenue next year. Good luck with that … Pawhuska Osage Casino & Hotel is rolled out in Oklahoma on Oct. 5. The 250-slot casino also offers 47 guest rooms … Elsewhere in the Sooner State, Golden Mesa Casino is investing $70 million in a new hotel, plus an RV park and a casino expansion that will bring its total of gaming machines to 1,000-plus … After years of lodge-intensive design and ambience, the Silverton is getting in touch with its inner cowboy. Expect a lot of “Yee-haw, pardner!” … As revenue growth slows for regional casinos, Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli perceives a “deterioration” in their performance. “Net-net, we continue to view the regional gaming complex as one that is out of favor with investors, given the perceived higher likelihood of negative revisions,” he wrote.