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Inside Gaming: Supreme Court to Consider Federal Sports Betting Ban

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  • Could the federal ban on sports betting be lifted? The U.S. Supreme Court will weigh in this fall.

  • Nevada casinos up in revenue for May despite the sportsbooks getting battered by NBA bets.

This week's Inside Gaming starts with sports betting in the United States, specifically sharing big news that the highest court in the land has agreed to consider a case challenging the current federal ban. Also covered this week are Nevada casinos' May numbers, a renewed attempt by developers to build a casino in Biloxi along the coast and the reopening of Resorts World Manila.

Supreme Court to Hear New Jersey Sports Betting Case

Big news this week regarding the potential future of sports betting in the United States, as the Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear an appeal by the state of New Jersey and its Governor Chris Christie of the federal ban on sports betting.

The New York Times reports the challenge to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 will be heard by the court in the fall. The law currently prohibits sports betting nationwide with a few exceptions — sports lotteries in Oregon, Delaware and Montana, and licensed sports betting in Nevada.

Back in 2011 voters in New Jersey voted to allow sports betting in the state, with many of the state's lawmakers similarly favoring doing so, and in late 2014 Christie signed a law allowing sports betting in the state.

However lawsuits from both the NCAA and the four major professional sports leagues in the U.S. led to the issuing of temporary restraining order by U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp.

"The challenges wound their way through numerous lower courts" after that explains NYT, "finally reaching the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, which issued a ruling last year upholding the federal ban."

Now, however, the Supreme Court will take up the case, and the governor, for one, is elated.

"The fact that the Supreme Court granted cert. in this case is a very good sign for sports betting having a future in New Jersey," said Christie. "I'm encouraged by it. We're not declaring victory, but at least we're in the game, and that's what we want to be."

As the NYT notes, lawmakers and other proponents of sports betting in several states, including California, New York and Pennsylvania have been pushing to revisit PASPA and open up the industry either to other individual states or the country as a whole.

"While the court has offered no indication of how it might rule or why it was moving forward with the case," says the NYT, "some industry advocates viewed the decision as a sign that the federal ban might be nearing its end."

Casino Revenue Up in May for Nevada, Despite NBA Losses

Speaking of sports betting, yesterday's numbers from the Nevada Gaming Control Board reporting May revenue for the state's casinos showed an increase in total gaming win of 3.51 percent year-over-year, though it wasn't because of betting on basketball.

The total gaming win for the state's casinos added up to just over $991.6 million for the month, up from a little more than $957.9 million in May 2016. Slots, table games and baccarat all enjoyed increases. Revenue for Strip casinos was up 2.97 percent, and downtown Vegas casinos were also up 9.54 percent.

Meanwhile casinos' sportsbooks lost a whopping $4.4 million on basketball alone as the National Basketball Association playoffs were in in full swing, as David Purdum reports for ESPN.

"It was a bloodbath," said senior analyst Michael Lawton of the NGCB. "Worst basketball loss in history."

Revenue from basketball bets was down nearly 190 percent year-over-year, thanks largely to a preponderance of favorites winning and totals going over (favorite bets of the public).

But don't weep too much for the sportsbooks, who thanks to baseball (where they collected over $6.6 million) and other sports the books managed an overall win of $2.9 million for the month, the 46th consecutive positive month for Nevada sportsbooks, notes Purdum.

Mississippi Developer Tries Again with Biloxi Bid

RW Development has already been turned down twice by the Mississippi Gaming Commission after making requests for site approval to build a new casino in Biloxi. This week the development team launched a third attempt at gaining such approval, reports the Mississippi Sun Herald.

A legal advertisement appearing in The Biloxi-D'Iberville Press signaled RW Development's intention again to apply for a casino license, requesting inclusion on the MGC's agenda for its next meeting in late July.

The notice describes the planned for property to feature 45,000 square feet of gaming space, 1,300 slot machines and 20 table games.

An initial application made back in 2008 was denied as the developer did not own property extending to the water's edge along the state's southern coast. A second application made earlier this year was also denied but without explanation, a decision appealed by the developers.

Mississippi law requires gaming sites to be no more 800 feet of the water's edge. From RW Development's point of view, the question concerns where exactly to begin measuring the distance.

The proposed location for the casino is on Beach Boulevard where other casinos are located (all closer to the water) , including the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, Golden Nugget Biloxi, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and others.

Resorts World Manila Reopens After Attack

This week Resorts World Manila resumed operations after the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (a.k.a. Pagcor) lifted the suspension of the casino's provisional license, according to CDC Gaming Reports.

The casino had been closed since the horrific June 2 incident that saw a would-be robber set fires causing 36 deaths and 70 injuries before he committed suicide.

As noted here earlier this month, Pagcor suspended the casino's license during the post-incident investigation in order to determine its potential liability and "compliance with all security, safety and gaming operations requirements."

Resorts World Manila passed those inspections, with the review including the casino presenting to regulators its new Casino Security Protective Action Plans.

Photo:"Supreme Court of the United States" Daderot, public domain.

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