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Inside Gaming: Last Year Biggest Ever for Sports Betting in Nevada

Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook
  • New numbers from Nevada Gaming Control Board show 2017 the biggest year ever for NV sports betting.

  • Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino apply for online licenses in advance of openings.

This week's Inside Gaming begins with a report from Nevada showing that sports betting has never been bigger in the state, tells of a couple of new casinos in New Jersey seeking online gaming licenses, shares news of sanctions against a casino-linked criminal network in Asia, and notes another price increase for parking on the Strip.

Nevada Sports Bettors Break Records in 2017

As the Supreme Court continues to weigh its decision in the case of Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association — a ruling which could considerably change the landscape of sports betting in the United States going forward — the Nevada Gaming Control Board this week shared figures confirming that 2017 was the biggest year ever for sports betting in the Silver State.

Nevada sportsbooks enjoyed a total gaming win of nearly $248.8 million in 2017, with just over $4.68 billion wagered. Both totals represent all-time highs, with the win topping the previous high of $231.8 million in 2015 and the amount wagered exceeding last year's total of $4.51 billion. It was the eighth consecutive year the total amount wagered by sports bettors has increased.

Noting how more than three decades of data means "Nevada is a good test case for the long-term viability of sports betting as is available in the United States," the UNLV Center for Gaming Research summarized the new numbers while also providing historical context and totals by sport.

The Center's report shows football once more to have been the most popular sport among bettors, as has been the case every year since 1992 (the first year of "by sport" figures). However the sportsbooks enjoyed a larger sports betting win from basketball in 2017 ($87.4M) than from football ($79.9M), ending a five-year run of football yielding the highest win for the house.

Almost $81.9 billion has been bet on sports in Nevada since 1984, the Center notes, with the total amount won by NV sportsbooks over that period being just over $3.9 billion.

In related news — and dovetailing on last week's story of the NBA's eagerness to support legalized sports betting (and share in the profits) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared on ESPN Radio this week to reiterate his league's reservations about legalized sports betting.

Goodell expressed concern regarding "anything that's going to impact negatively on the integrity of our game," adding that should the Supreme Court rule in favor of changing current gambling laws that the NFL is "going to be prepared as a league to address those [changes]."

Meanwhile the biggest sports betting event of the year will take place on Sunday with Super Bowl LII pitting the Philadelphia Eagles against the defending champion New England Patriots.

The line has come down somewhat since opening after the conference championship games, having settled with the Patriots currently listed in most places as a four-and-a-half point favorite.

New Atlantic City Casinos Apply for Online Licenses

Two new casinos remain scheduled to open on the Atlantic City Boardwalk later this year, and both have already sent in their applications for online licenses to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement in order to be able to offer online gaming options to their new customers.

The Hard Rock Atlantic City Hotel & Casino (on the site of the closed Trump Taj Mahal) has filed its application for an online license, reports So, too, have the owners of the Ocean Resort Casino, the new name for the old Revel property finally purchased last month.

The Hard Rock Atlantic City is scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend at the end of May, while the Ocean Resort Casino has indicated plans to open later in the summer.

Since legislation was passed in 2013, online gaming revenue has steadily increased for New Jersey operators, with a plan to begin sharing player pools with Nevada and Delaware announced last fall being cited by industry observers as another potential catalyst for continued growth.

U.S. Imposes Sanctions Designed to Break Up Gambling Empire

Reuters has reported that on Tuesday the United States Treasury Department instituted sanctions targeting four individuals tied to an Asian criminal network, among them Zhao Wei, owner of Kings Romans International.

The Treasury Department's statement identified Wei and others as having engaged in "horrendous illicit activities" described by an Office of Foreign Assets Control official as occurring "throughout southeast Asia."

The Kings Romans Casino in Laos is located along the banks of the Mekong River, and according to the sanctions it was from there "the Zhao Wei network allowed the storage and distribution of heroin and other narcotics," with officials from multiple countries having seized drug shipments over the last four years that were traced to the casino.

The casino in Laos remains open; however, the sanctions mean "all assets from Zhao's network under U.S. jurisdiction have been frozen and Americans are prohibited from engaging in transactions with it."

Cost of Parking Increases Again at MGM Properties in Vegas

Finally, if you happen to be heading to an MGM Resorts International property in Las Vegas to place your Super Bowl bet, take note that it will cost you more to park there — if you plan to stay longer than an hour, that is.

On Wednesday parking prices were increased at the Aria, Bellagio, Delano, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, The Mirage, Monte Carlo/Park MGM, New York-New York, and Vdara.

While parking is free for the first hour at all of those properties, the cost has increased for longer stays — KTNV in Las Vegas provides a chart indicating the price hikes. Only Circus Circus still offers free self-parking (although you have to pay for valet).

This is the second increase in fees by MGM Resorts since becoming the first group to begin charging for parking on the Strip in 2016, with Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts, and The Cosmopolitan thereafter following suit.

Photo: Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

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