Spin Cycle: Online Poker Spreading, Caesars Numbers Dipping Highlight Week In Gambling

Eric Raskin

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Welcome to “Spin Cycle,” Casino Reports’ weekly Friday roundup of all things impactful, intriguing, impressive, or idiotic in the gambling industry. Pull up a chair, grab a stack of chips and a glass of your beverage of choice, and take a spin with us through this week’s news cycle …

Huge (likely) news for interstate online poker

Just like online casino legalization, the spread of regulated online poker has been crawling along at a painfully slow pace. Like a douchey 22-year-old in a hoodie and sunglasses checking his cards six times before making a slow-motion pre-flop fold, iPoker has, for the last 11 years, been mostly taking forever to do nothing.

But, as reported by Pokerfuse, recent days have brought news that may finally get online poker moving in the right direction. If the game isn’t going to add new states (there are currently just six with active sites), it at least needs to combine player pools in the states that do have access, and WSOP.com — the online brand of the World Series of Poker — appears to be preparing to do that in a major way.

It was already possible for players in Nevada and New Jersey to play WSOP online events and intermingle, but now Michigan seems on the verge of joining the fray. As Pokerfuse observed, the WSOP announced its Online Circuit Series from May 11-22 for all three states, with identical schedules among all three, and with guaranteed prize pool amounts that are all but impossible to reach with only Jersey and Nevada.

Nothing has been announced yet, but the possibility of players in three states competing against each other and having access this summer to WSOP Online bracelet events is a game-changer — or, at least, as big a game-changer as online poker is going to get until more states come aboard.

The emperor has excuses

Happy Q1 Earnings Call Season! This week saw MGMPENN, and DraftKings among the many spouting numbers and platitudes and adjusting their EBITDAs.

But it was Caesars that stood out somewhat from the pack, not just because it didn’t try to spin all of its news in a positive direction, but also because it offered lots of excuses for why the numbers weren’t so strong.

There was the old “lower than expected hold” on table games. There was “weather-related weakness in January and early February.” There were “unfavorable outcomes for the Super Bowl and March Madness.” There was even Adele postponing her concert dates to Q4.

Basically, we heard everything short of, “The dog ate my earnings.”

CEO Tom Reeg said on Tuesday’s call that “Everything that could go wrong for us did,” noting there were over $75 million of “one-time negatives in the quarter.”

So just what were the numbers? Caesars reported net revenue of $2.74 billion, down 1.2% from 2023’s $2.83 billion, with adjusted earnings down 9.9% from $958 million to $853 million. Not ideal, obviously, but something tells us we’re not quite in fall-of-an-empire territory.

Fantasma enlists Tequity with eye on speed to market

Not every company making news in the gaming space is a household name like Caesars. On Thursday, Tequity, an up-and-coming iGaming software provider, announced it had agreed to an integration deal with Fantasma Games, a studio seeking to expand its presence in North America and other markets.

The deal sees Tequity license its Remote Gaming Server (RGS) that “increases operational efficiencies,” a press release explained, boosting speed to market for the Swedish studio as it seeks to add more partners and provide more gaming content.

“We are excited to be working with Fantasma Gaming to help further their growth in key markets worldwide,” said Krzysztof Opałka, chief technology officer at Tequity. “This partnership illustrates the power of our platform in delivering an efficient RGS solution that speeds up the launch process of their top-quality content.”

Added Fantasma Games CEO and founder Fredrik Johansson: “Thanks to the Tequity platform, Fantasma Games is working faster and smarter across a number of areas, allowing us to bring innovative content to our partners at speed. This integration significantly boosts our growth potential, as we look to increase the number of operator partners we work with around the world and deliver them relevant, localized, and exciting games.”

The Shuffle: Other news and views

DAVE & BUSTED: The history of the Great Arcade Gaming Era

NEW PA PLAYER: Mohegan Digital launches iGaming site, app in Pennsylvania

ROLL TIDE?: Alabama lottery legalization effort clears House, only to fall one vote short — for now — in Senate

NON-COMPETING INTERESTS: Ex-DraftKings executive’s work at Fanatics restricted by US judge

MOVING MARKETS: Flutter shareholders vote at AGM to move primary listing to NYSE

DODGER BLUES: Ohtani interpreter’s alleged embezzlement led to California, Vegas casinos

‘SOTA POP: Arrest of senator in Minnesota could upend sports betting bill, other business

BETTER LUCK NEXT YEAR: What went wrong for online casino legalization in 2024?

NOT TOP PRIORITY: Saracen wants to expand online gambling in Arkansas, but commission is swamped

GOBBLED UP: The GLI Group acquires all outstanding shares of Trisigma

PALACE INTRIGUE: Caesars Palace Casino app revamp offers curated lobby experience, faster functionality

HORSE, PLAY: Derby draws crowd, but Churchill Downs cashes in on web, casinos

CARD DENIED: Senator behind bill to ban credit cards for online gambling feels obligation ‘to try to deter addiction’

LOSE-LOSE SITUATION: Cooper calls for change to tax law around gambling winnings

ALL BY DESIGN: The psychology behind engaging gamblers with casino design, slots, and table games

BUFFALO BOUND: Bills sign Quintez Cephus after reinstatement from gambling suspension

YOU GOT A WARRANT?: Iowa college athletes file civil lawsuit against state and DCI investigators over gambling sting

AD SUBTRACT: Sports betting companies cut ad spending

SLOTTED IN: Casino streamer Brian Christopher to appear at Canadian Gaming Summit

DO NOT PASS GO: Monopolies are bad economic actors, and unfortunately, gaming regulatory agencies are monopolies

A BIRTHDAY, A REBIRTH: Venetian turns 25, plans major renovation

The Bonus Round

Completing the Spin Cycle with some odds and ends and our favorite social media posts of the week:

  • There was an unusual amount of brick-and-mortar slots news this week. Maybe it’s just coincidence, sort of like when those two movies about Steve Prefontaine got made at the exact same time. Anyway, the Las Vegas Advisor wrote about Slots A Fun on the north end of the Vegas Strip getting a retro rebranding including 75 old-school coin- and token-operated slots; the Las Vegas Review-Journal covered the same topic and spun off it to shout out all the area casinos that still offer coin slots; and CDC Gaming Reports wrote about both Delaware Park Casino opening a new Light & Wonder gaming lounge and Mohegan Sun unveiling a new Hold & Spin Slot Zone. From the vintage to the cutting-edge, there’s something for every slots fanatic out there.
  • A detail worth calling some attention to in this week’s PENN Entertainment Q1 call (which helped prompt the Pat McAfee clip in the Awful Announcing tweet above): CEO Jay Snowden said a standalone Hollywood Casino app is coming by early 2025. For now, as ESPN Bet users in legal iGaming states know, you can only get to the iCasino by logging into the mobile sportsbook.
  • BetMGM announced a new iGaming partnership this week, as the operator has kicked off a deal with Boldplay, a company that offers digital slots, table games, virtual scratch games, and keno. More to come, but for now, three games are available exclusively at BetMGM Casino in Michigan: Toro Bravo (pictured below), Gold Metal Ox, and Cyborg City.