Friday, January 29, 2021
Top Stories
2020 had record tourism — but not kind of records LVCVA wanted
Nevada (Las Vegas) - Richard N. Velotta, Las Vegas Review-Journal - Tourism experts were looking at 2020 to be a record year for Las Vegas. And it was. But not with the kinds of records they were expecting early on last year. Coming off a record year in 2019 for convention visitation at 6.6 million people and only four years removed from the largest number of visitors ever for Southern Nevada in 2016 with 42.9 million people, with just under 1.25 million visitors in December. With 19.03 million visitors total in 2020 — a 55.2 percent decline from 2019 — the year will go down in history as the worst for visitation since 1989.

Governor ends early closing time for businesses
Maine (restrictions) - Owen Kingsley, WABI-TV - Governor Mills announced today that she will end the 9 p.m. early closing time for businesses beginning Monday. The news lifts the mandated curfew for restaurants and bars, indoor and outdoor amusements, movie theaters, performing arts venues and casinos. “We are beginning to round the corner on the post-holiday surge of COVID-19. With these improved public health metrics, and with the holidays behind us, it is appropriate to remove the early closing time requirement,” said Mills.

MGM National Harbor reopens restaurants
Maryland (restrictions) - Rebecca Cooper, Washington Business Journal - MGM National Harbor will reopen its restaurants Friday, nearly two months after Prince George's County shut down indoor dining due to rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in the area. Restaurants in Prince George's, including in MGM, will still be limited to 25% capacity. That's the same for the casino at large, which has been limited to 25% capacity since Dec. 9 when Alsobrooks put the indoor dining ban in place and tightened some other coronavirus restrictions.

Londoner Court in Cotai completed 1Q: Las Vegas Sands
Asia (Macau) - GGRAsia - Londoner Court, a 370-suite hotel facility at Sands China Ltd’s Londoner Macao resort on Cotai, is due to be “completed in the first quarter…describes Londoner Court as a US$400-million project. The Londoner Macao is a revamped and rebranded version of Sands Cotai Central. The upgraded venue has been given a British theme, including a façade replicating the Palace of Westminster. The new-look property is due to have its formal first-phase opening on February 8.
United States/Canada News
Commercial
Gaming’s share of COVID relief a step in improving industry’s health
National (AGA) - Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports - Any financial aid that gaming businesses obtain from the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package currently under consideration on Capitol Hill will help the industry right itself following 2020’s economic devastation brought about by the ongoing pandemic. Still, American Gaming Association Bill Miller said Thursday said the funds would just be a start. Miller said other legislative efforts on Capitol Hill, including tax incentives, liability protections, and economic stimulus measures are needed to help the commercial and tribal casino markets dig themselves out of financial holes caused by the pandemic.

Opinion: Pandemic will not bury Las Vegas’ convention industry
Nevada (Las Vegas) - Editorial, Las Vegas Sun - A survey of convention visitors who came to Las Vegas during the 15 months prior to the pandemic showed that the majority are feeling burned out about online meetings and are ready to get back to face-to-face interactions…“Our brand is still who we are: We are the place that you can come to escape, and there’s plenty to come escape from now. We bring excitement, we bring freedom, and people miss that,” Hill said during the Vegas Chamber’s annual Preview meeting last week. “But in the meantime, it’s a balance between what Vegas has to offer, as well as the health and safety precautions that we’re taking.”

Reports of Las Vegas’ death greatly exaggerated, executive says
Nevada (Las Vegs) - Bryan Horwath, Las Vegas Sun - Executives of a major Strip resort company see more short-term pain but long-term optimism for Las Vegas, especially in the convention sector. Las Vegas Sands CEO Rob Goldstein said today he doesn’t buy theories that the Las Vegas tourism market will be forever altered by the pandemic. “There’s been recent commentary that’s been fun to read about how Las Vegas will never return to pre-pandemic levels,” Goldstein said. “Some are saying Las Vegas’ best days are behind it. I’ve heard all this before over the past 20 or 30 years. There’s no question that this town is struggling now, but we believe Las Vegas has plenty of gas in the tank.”

Nevada Sports Betting Handle Dipped In 2020
Nevada (sports) - Brad Allen, Legal Sports Report - Nevada saw the second-most sports betting action of any state in the US in December, despite a relative dip in handle to $588 million, down around 3.5% month-on-month. Retail bets accounted for 40% of the total handle, compared to 60% for online. Nevada continues to lag behind the rest of the country in adopting mobile because of its arcane rules requiring in-person account registration. Nevada sportsbook revenue for December came in at $40.6 million, good for a hold rate of 6.8%, third in the US.

Full list of Super Bowl 55 props from the Westgate
Nevada (Las Vegas) - Case Keefer, Las Vegas Sun - A football season that’s been unlike any other throughout its duration is ending just like normal — at least in Las Vegas. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook unveiled its expansive Super Bowl proposition-bet menu in its traditional Thursday night slot 10 days before the big game. The rest of the sports books in town will soon follow and officially usher in the biggest single-game gambling event of the year.
Lottery finding its footing during COVID
Massachusetts (lottery) - Colin A. Young, State House News Service - The Massachusetts Lottery saw greater sales and profit performance during the six months from July through December 2020 than it did during the same six months in pre-pandemic 2019, despite changes in consumer behavior and sharp restrictions on key Lottery venues like restaurants and pubs… the agency sold $2.723 billion in the first half of the fiscal year, a 2 percent increase. Those sales have generated an estimated profit of $531.7 million, a 4.3 percent increase.

Plainville casino reopens for 24-hour operation
Massachusetts (restrictions) - Tom Reilly, Sun Chronicle - Planridge Park Casino is back open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The slot parlor returned to full-time gaming Wednesday, staffers announced, and will be open 24/7 going forward. Plainridge, the state’s other two casinos in Everett and Springfield, and other businesses in the state had been operating under limited hours imposed by Gov. Charlie Baker last month.

Regulators expect crowds to return with 24-hour operations
Massachusetts (restrictions) - Jim Kinney, Republican - MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park casinos are still not drawing big enough crowds to bump up against the state’s 25% capacity limit. But Bruce Band, assistant director and gaming agents division chief for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, said y he expects crowds to grow as the state’s three resort style casino’s resume 24-hour-a-day operation.

State racing panel formalizes its July casino decision
Arkansas (regulation/license) - Michael R. Wickline, Democrat-Gazette - The Arkansas Racing Commission on Wednesday approved an order regarding its July denial of appeal by Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation Businesses’ Legends Resort and Casino LLC…also approved an order with for the commission’s July 30 ruling that Legends Resort and Casino LLC is a qualified applicant for the Pope County casino license.

Mervis Industries suing city of Danville over proposed casino
Illinois (Danville) - Sophia Espinosa, WAND - The city of Danville faces a bump in the road after it was dealt a lawsuit over its proposed casino. "I nearly believe it's retribution.," Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. said about the lawsuit over the location for the proposed Golden Nugget Casino…Mervis Industries is seeking a circuit court judge to declare that the city of Danville unlawfully changed its zoning code from industrial to business zoning for the purpose of putting the casino at the site. "Originally, the casino was going to go on land that's owned by two of the individuals who are the head of Mervis Industries, Williams said.

Online gaming, sports betting off to roaring start in Michigan
Michigan (sports) - Ryan Zuke, Michigan Live - Watching last weekend’s NFL conference championship games and other sporting events was a more enthralling experience than usual for Jack Abate…one of thousands of Michiganders to take advantage of the highly anticipated launch of online gaming and sports betting in the state…official revenue and wagering numbers from the opening weekend are not yet available, but there was a high level of activity…Michigan and Virginia both launched online gambling late last week and combined for 7.5 million online gambling transactions across 400,000 accounts,
Indian gaming
Foxwoods boosted payment to state to meet ‘minimum contribution’
Connecticut (Indian gaming) - Brian Hallenbeck, New London Day - Six months into the fiscal year that began July 1, Foxwoods Resort Casino has forwarded $40 million in slot-machine revenue to the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection — the “minimum contribution,” as spelled out in the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe’s revenue-sharing agreement with the state. Foxwoods met the requirement by adding $716,766 to its slots contribution in December.

Mohegan Sun hits jackpot loan deals after ‘going concern’ warning
Connecticut (Indian gaming) - Alexander Soule, CT Post - With new loan deals for $1.4 billion, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority paid off $615 million in debt coming due in October. The debt had prompted a “going concern” warning late last year of possible insolvency in the event it could not refinance. The Mohegan Sun casino resort in eastern Connecticut has yet to resume operations at full capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority reported a $162 million loss for 2020.

Cuomo budget bets big on casino money from Seneca Nation
New York (Indian gaming) - Tom Precious, Buffalo News - Hit by the pandemic, the amount of tax revenues the state is raising from the gambling sector has plummeted…there is one line item deep within the newly proposed budget by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo showing a huge boost in gambling revenues – all thanks to the Seneca Nation of Indians. The governor is anticipating that the Seneca Nation will pay the state at least $450 million that Albany says it is owed since the tribe stopping making revenue-sharing payments in 2017 on proceeds from slot machines at its three casinos in Western New York.

Rincon Reservation Road Brewery expanded
California (Indian gaming) - Alex Groves, Press-Enterprise - Not too long ago, if you wanted to taste the unique beers of Southern California’s Rincon Reservation Road Brewery, you had to stay pretty close to Valley Center. Owned by the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians and located on the same reservation as Harrah’s Resort Southern California, you could only find the beer at the tasting room, the casino and a nearby convenience store…Now, the brewery is looking to expand its reach by opening new tasting room locations.

Jamul Indian Village Development Corporation Announces Refinance
California (Indian gaming) - Monterey County Now - The Jamul Indian Village Development Corporation (JIVDC), owner and operator of Jamul Casino, announced that it closed a loan with a syndicate of commercial banks led by Western Alliance Bank and Nevada State Bank. The other lenders associated with the refinance were Columbia Bank and CIT Bank.

Biden Reaffirms Tribal Sovereignty
National (Indian Country) - Native News - As part of his racial and equality initiative, President Joe Biden on Monday signed a Presidential Memorandum that reaffirms tribal sovereignty through tribal consultation. “In my campaign for President, I made it very clear that the moment had arrived as a nation where we face deep racial inequities in America and system — systemic racism that has plagued our nation for far, far too long,” Biden said.

Controller: 120,000 hardship checks mailed
Arizona/New Mexico (Indian Country) - Rima Krisst, Navajo Times - Navajo Nation Controller Pearline Kirk announced on Tuesday that her office has sent out nearly 120,000 Hardship Assistance checks and another 80,000 checks were expected to be issued by the end of this week… maximum payments being issued are in the amounts of $1,350 for adults and $450 for minors, which represents 90% funding of the CARES Act Hardship Assistance Program.
Racing
HHR Bill With Support of Senate President to be Filed
Kentucky (racing/slots) - T. D. Thornton, Thoroughbred Daily News - A Kentucky State Senator whose district includes Turfway Park said Thursday that he intends to file legislation and hold a hearing next week to make historical horse race (HHR) gaming legal, “maintaining the status quo” for the revenue flow that annually contributes tens of millions of dollars to purses in the state.

Authentic's Derby Win Voted Moment of the Year
National (racing) - Thoroughbred Daily News - The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) named Authentic (Into Mischief)'s victory in the Sep. 5 GI Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve as the 2020 FanDuel Racing/NTRA Moment of the Year. The result was based on 3,403 votes cast via Twitter and an online poll.

Baffert, O'Neill 3-Year-Olds Vie in Robert Lewis Stakes
California (racing) - Byron King, Blood-Horse News - Between Bob Baffert and Doug O'Neill, they have won eight Kentucky Derbys. In keeping with that history, the two trainers hold the best hands Jan. 30 in the $100,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3), Santa Anita Park's second prep of 2021 for the Kentucky Derby. Baffert, a six-time Derby winner, starts Medina Spirit and Spielberg, while O'Neill, twice a Derby winner, also starts a pair, Hot Rod Charlie and Wipe the Slate. The four are likely favorites.

Gambling Cat poised for big improvement in Friday allowance
Florida (racing) - Marty McGee, Daily Racing Form - A filly named Gambling Cat has been defeated by a combined total of 50 lengths in her two starts since a debut victory in September – and yet she’s still likely to be among the top wagering choices in the Friday feature at Gulfstream Park. Turning back from longer races, Gambling Cat will garner plenty of attention in the only allowance on a 10-race Friday card, a five-furlong first-level turf dash for 3-year-old fillies carded as the ninth race

Drain the Clock to Make Graded Debut in Swale Stakes
Florida (racing) - Blood-Horse News - Slam Dunk Racing, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables, and Michael Nentwig's Drain the Clock will make his graded stakes debut Jan. 30 in the $100,000 Claiborne Farm Swale Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

Aqueduct cancels Friday card because of cold
New York (racing) - David Grening, Daily Racing Form - Friday’s eight-race Aqueduct card has been canceled due to a forecast that calls for high winds and windchills in the single-digits, the New York Racing Association announced on Thursday. The National Weather Service has called for wind gusts in the mid-30-mile-per-hour range with temperatures in the low 20s and wind chills in the single digits on Friday.

Godolphin Runners Dominate Carnival's Second Night
Dubai (racing) - Bob Kieckhefer, Blood-Horse News - It was all Godolphin—almost all the time—in the second night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse Jan. 28 as Sheikh Mohammed's blue silks were home first in four of the five Thoroughbred races and filled the top six spots in one of them.
International News
Google allows Play Store gambling app downloads in new markets
Global (igaming) - Ted Menmuir, SBC News - Google has updated its ‘Play Store’ developer terms and conditions, announcing that it will allow real-money app downloads for a further 15 countries…From 1 March, Google will broaden its Play Store gambling terms, allowing real money app downloads for the markets of – Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the USA.

Sunak monitors Gambling Review closely
Europe (UK) - Ted Menmuir, SBC News - Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has raised direct concerns with the DCMS about further ‘enhanced affordability checks’ being imposed on bookmakers. Reported by the Racing Post, local racing delegates of Sunak’s Richmond North Yorkshire constituency wrote to the Chancellor opposing a consultation proposal being reviewed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

UKGC seeks guidance on customer interactions
Europe (UK) - Ted Menmuir, SBC News - The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has launched a further consultation seeking guidance on ‘how online gambling companies interact with their customers’. The Commission aims to gather wide-ranging insights and opinions from businesses, employees and their customers on ‘what protections should be offered by online gambling operators to prevent harms to their customers’.

Aquis quarterly cash flow report
Oceania (Australia/results) - Press Release - Aquis Entertainment Limited, this is the first full quarter’s trading after the re-opening of Casino Canberra on 10 August 2020 following the ACT Government’s mandated shut-down as part of their Covid-19 restrictions. During the quarter, the business continued to comply strictly with the Government’s trading restrictions. Despite operating at a reduced capacity under the restrictions, all  operational employees have returned to their pre-shutdown working hours.  Business revenues were strong throughout the quarter and net operating cash flow is also positive.

NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority Inquiry
Oceania (Australia) - Press Release - Crown Resorts announced the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) has issued a news release relating to the inquiry under section 143 of the Casino Control Act 1992 (NSW) (Inquiry). The news release provides that, on 1 February 2021, ILGA will receive the Commissioner’s report of the Inquiry and that the report is expected to be publicly released within the next two weeks.

SkyCity Celebrates 25 years Entertaining Auckland
Oceania (New Zealand) - Press Release - On February 2nd 1996, SkyCity Auckland officially opened its doors to the public and to celebrate SkyCity will be hosting a free ‘90’s themed Federal Street Party this Friday 29 January 2021, with a stellar line up of Kiwi artists from the era…“Since we first opened to the public 25 years ago, SkyCity Auckland has transformed from a casino business into one of Australasia’s largest tourism, leisure, and entertainment companies employing 2,500 staff from a wide range of ethnicities and skill levels, speaking 57 different languages.

Imperial Pacific struggles to turn the corner
Oceania (Marianas) - Michael Penn, Asia Gaming Brief - The plight of its foreign workers has put pressure on Imperial Pacific International as never before, with even the US Department of Labor recently demanding action from the court, including the possible arrest of Chairwoman Cui Li Jie. In the latest turn, US District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona Manglona has ordered IPI to satisfy the remainder of the consent judgment with the Department of Labor by March 1, threatening that otherwise she will appoint a receiver to gather and liquidate IPI’s assets.
Five groups submit qualifications for Nagasaki casino RFP
Asia (Japan) - GGRAsia - “Five groups” have submitted documents in an effort to qualify for the request-for-proposal (RFP) phase of Nagasaki prefecture’s effort at getting a casino resort.
According to a Friday announcement by the prefectural integrated resort (IR) promotion division. It didn’t name the entities involved. Hodo Nakamura, Nagasaki prefecture’s governor, said they were drawn from, respectively, Europe, the United States and Asia.

Currently 77 VIP Clubs in Macau
Asia (Macau) - Inside Asian Gaming - Macau’s casinos are currently home to 77 VIP clubs operating 1,566 gaming tables as of January 2021, reflecting a decline in the number of licensed gaming promotors announced by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau earlier this week.

Genting says sale of remaining stake in Macau likely
Asia (Macau) - Ben Blaschke, Inside Asian Gaming - Genting Hong Kong, the Hong Kong-listed cruise ship arm of Malaysia’s Genting Group, says there is a good chance it will eventually sell off its entire remaining stake in a Macau hotel and casino development as it fights to keep its troubled cruise business afloat. 

Government calls on citizens to avoid going abroad during CNY
Asia (Macau) - Macau News - The Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre calls on all citizens to stay in Macau as much as possible during the Chinese New Year (CNY). In a statement issued today, the authorities recall that the pandemic situation intensified with the beginning of winter – especially in the northern hemisphere – noting that in several provinces of mainland China there are outbreaks of Covid-19 “with some seriousness”.

Unemployment rate drops slightly by 2020-end
Asia (Macau) - Nelson Moura, Macau Business - The general unemployment rate and the unemployment rate of local residents have both dropped slightly to 2.7 per cent and 3.8 per cent, respectively, in the October-December 2020 period. Total employment by December end reached 388,800 and the number of employed residents totaled 281,500, up by 2,600 and 3,200 respectively from the previous September-November period.

Lawmakers unhappy with gov’t’s response to economic crisis
Asia (Macau) - Renato Marques, Macau Daily Times - Lawmakers are not happy with the approach taken by the government regarding the ongoing economic crisis. Their disappointment was clear yesterday at the Legislative Assembly (AL) plenary session, where Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong was grilled by lawmakers questioning the lack of government measures to mitigate the difficulties of both citizens and companies.

Govt does not exclude extra financial support: Lei
Asia (Macau) - Macau Post Daily - Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong underlined yesterday that the government will not rule out the possibility of rolling out a third round of financial support measures for residents and businesses – in case something “unexpected” happens resulting in the need for the government to financially support residents and businesses.

Flights drop 81.4 pct last year
Asia (Macau) - Macau Post Daily - The number of arriving and departing commercial flights in Macau declined by 81.4 percent to 13,676 last year than in 2019. Last month, there were 1,117 commercial flights arriving in and departing from the local airport, a year-on-year drop of 82.9 percent.
Yesterday's News
Nevada and Strip gaming revenues to their lowest totals since the 1990s
Nevada (results) - Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports - Nevada gaming revenue figure for 2020 was $7.87 billion, a decline of 34.6%...December saw gaming revenues fall 35.3% statewide to $683.7 million and more than 50.6% on the Strip to $292 million.

December Lottery revenue falls, as casinos see plunge in business
West Virginia (results) - Phil Kabler, Gazette-Mail - For December, the Lottery had gross revenue of $87.5 million, down $6.63 million from December 2019. Racetrack video lottery revenue at the four casinos fell to $28.46 million, 29%. Table games revenue dropped to $2.08 million, 34%. Video Lottery revenue of $34.4 million. Sales of lottery tickets were $20.9 million.

Las Vegas Sands company operating results
Global (results) - Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports - Las Vegas Sands total net revenues declined 68.4% to $150 million at the Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas, 69.7% to $669 million at the company’s Macau properties, and 59.6% to $345 million at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Total revenue in the quarter of almost $1.15 billion was a decline of 67.3%.

Sands China reports 70% drop in revenue for Q4
Asia (results) - Macau News - Sands China Ltd has reported total net revenue of $672 million for Q4 2020, a 70 per cent decline from $2.24 billion for the same period in 2019. Net loss was $246 million against net income of $513 million reported for Q4 2019. EBITDA in Sands China’s Macau properties was $47 million, a decline from $811 million in Q4 2019.

Illinois Reports Record $447M Sports Betting Handle for November
Illinois (sports) - Chris Altruda, Sports Handle - The Illinois Gaming Board released its sports betting revenue numbers for November…$447 million handle…revenue dipped narrowly month over month to $41 million, for a 9.17% hold rate.

Rank Group posts 58 per cent NGR fall
Europe (results) - Lewis, G3 Newswire - Rank Group has reported a 58 per cent fall in underlying net gaming revenue to £156.9m in the second half of 2020. The closure of venues and restrictions led to a 70 per cent reduction in venues underlying NGR – down from £306m to £90.9m. From an underlying profit of £58.7m over the corresponding period in 2019/20, Rank’s balance sheet has fallen to an operating loss of £41.8m in 2020/21.
This report is edited by Ken Adams

This report is the property of Ken Adams
and is compiled exclusively for CDC Gaming Reports.

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