Spin Cycle: Taxes Rising, Stocks Falling, And Offshores Ceasing And Desisting Highlight Week In Gambling

Eric Raskin

slot machines cosmopolitan

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 …

DraftKings, FanDuel feeling Ill effects

Illinois’ sports betting tax rate increase has been a central story in the gambling industry all week, and since Casino Reports covered the Senate approving the progressive tax hike at the start of the week, the Illinois House proceeded to sign off on it as well and send it to Gov. JB Pritzker’s desk — where it sits as of this article’s publication on Friday.

Nothing is official yet. But the markets are reacting as if it’s a done deal, and the stocks of DraftKings and Flutter — the parent company of FanDuel — took a tumble.

Investor’s Business Daily projected that with Pritzker’s signature, FanDuel’s revenue will be taxed at 37% and DraftKings’ at 36%, compared to 15% now for both. And although this is just one state, Illinois will probably not be the last to increase taxes on operators — with some experts believing New Jersey doing so would cause serious aftershocks.

As such, DK’s stock dropped 10.3% on Tuesday, and Flutter’s fell 7.7%.

(We’re assuming Al Sharpton writing a letter last week to the Federal Trade Commission warning against the FanDuel-DraftKings duopoly didn’t also play a major role in hurting their stocks, but one never knows.)

The Mitten waves goodbye to Bovada

The Michigan Gaming Control Board has seen just about enough of Bovada, a Curacao-based online sports betting and casino company that is accessible to many U.S.-based gamblers despite not being licensed to operate in the States. The MGCB sent Bovada operator Harp Media B.V. a cease-and-desist letter on Wednesday, followed by a public statement on the matter Thursday from MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams:

“The proliferation of online gaming platforms has led to increased scrutiny from regulatory bodies worldwide, and this action serves as a stern warning to overseas companies that flouting local regulations will not be tolerated. The MGCB remains steadfast in its commitment to upholding Michigan’s laws and regulations and will continue to actively monitor and enforce compliance within the state to ensure a fair and secure gaming environment for all.”

The MGCB says Bovada is in violation of the state’s Lawful Internet Gaming Act, the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act, and the Michigan Penal Code and wrote that Harp Media “has 14 days from receipt of the letter to take steps to prevent Michigan residents from gambling on their websites or the MGCB will take legal action.”

Professional gambler and Unabated co-founder Captain Jack Andrews believes Bovada will indeed take those steps:

On the Strip and in the mix

All eyes in the poker world turned this week to the start of the annual World Series of Poker at Paris Las Vegas and the Horseshoe on the Vegas Strip. For a few days in the middle of the Series, though, an alternative poker option will arrive right across the street.

Cardplayer Lifestyle’s Mixed Game Festival is coming to a new venue for its eighth iteration from June 16-20 — the iconic Bellagio casino— to offer what event organizer Robbie Strazynski calls the largest home-game-style gathering in the world. In contrast to the WSOP’s freezeout tournaments and no-limit hold’em-heavy schedule, this festival, as the name suggests, is all about the mixed games — $4/$8 dealer’s choice cash games, specifically, with higher stakes available.

The Mixed Game Festival has a new main sponsor, The Moneymaker Tour, and prizes include a daily $400 entry into a Moneymaker Tour side event — although to win the prize, the players have to not only have their seats drawn at random, but also correctly answer a Chris Moneymaker-themed trivia question.

“The Moneymaker Tour’s fundamental purpose aligns well with what I’ve always tried to do with my Mixed Game Festival,” Strazynski told Casino Reports, “namely to promote poker on a grassroots level. So having them as our primary sponsor makes sense on multiple levels.”

As for the venue, “I’m honestly still pinching myself,” Strazynski said. “Even though I’ve been actively engaged in promoting the Mixed Game Festival and saying ‘Bellagio’ over and over again, I don’t think it’s hit me that we’ll actually be playing mixed games there.”

Tiny iCasino states RI and DE, checking in

Online casino revenue watchers tend to focus heavily on New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan — understandably, since those states see operators collect over $100 million in revenue from gamblers every month.

But revenue in the small states counts too, and we now have April figures from Rhode Island (the 44th largest state) and Delaware (the 45th largest) to squint at.

In its first full month of operation, Rhode Island, with lone operator Bally’s, reported $2.08 million in iCasino revenue and a shade under $930,000 in taxes collected. Per day, that’s about $69,000 in revenue, a noted uptick from the partial month of March, when revenue came out to about $45,000 per day of operation.

Delaware, meanwhile, continues to feel positive effects from BetRivers taking over the state’s iCasino operations at the end of 2023. Revenue for April totaled $4.4 million — up more than 240% over April 2023 ­— with the state collecting $2.5 million in taxes, compared to $742,000 in the same month last year.

The Shuffle: Other news and views

ENGINE FAILURE: How Google search updates turned affiliate-media partnerships into costly zombie deals

VEGAS, BABY!: Nevada’s record April gaming numbers bolster summer expectations

THE INCOVENIENT TRUTH: iLottery legalization efforts find opponent in convenience stores

BUMPY RHODE: Bally’s sold its Tiverton casino, now it wants more subsidies from the state

ANOTHER ‘L’ FOR THE METS?: Citi Field casino looks to be struck out after key senator voices opposition

INTERSTATE LOVE SONG: WSOP makes history with three-state online poker launch

OUT OF THIS WORLD: Galaxy Gaming appoints Steve Kopjo chief financial officer

HELPING SANDS: Texas House Speaker Phelan secures primary victory, boosting Las Vegas Sands’ casino ambitions

COMING TO CANADA: Swintt approved to launch online casino games in Ontario

LEGALIZATION LULL: The Ruddock Report: Revising estimates downward

CLEARING THE AIR: We are suffocating on the job, and our union doesn’t care

JACKED UP: Online lottery courier Jackpot expands into New Jersey, its sixth state

NYCASINO: ‘New Jackpot City’ and the fight for the right to build a casino in New York City

NOTIFICATIONS ON: IC360 launching new platform called Alert360

HUSH MONEY MEETS PUBLIC MONEY: Trump guilty verdict causes heavy election betting volume, ultimately not much odds movement

STILL ALL-IN: The World Poker Tour committed to Macau despite setback 

TALES FROM THE CRYPTO: MyPrize launches international online casino, sweepstakes casino in U.S.

DELAWARE DOUBLE DIP?: Delaware looks to allow multiple sports betting apps, questions of revenue loss and lawsuits ensue

The Bonus Round

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

  • It’s always recommended to take estimates of the size of the black market with the proverbial grain of salt. But, for whatever it’s worth, the Campaign for Fairer Gambling shared a report Thursday claiming that in three states alone — New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota — $9.5 billion of illegal gambling takes place each year. Note to Michigan regulators: Grab some stamps, you have more cease-and-desist letters to send.
  • Talk about an explosive way to go out: Hard Rock International revealed this week that when it renovates The Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip this summer to turn it into Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas, the first step will be the demolition of the volcano out front. The volcano will be replaced by a giant guitar — and here’s hoping Pete Townshend will still be alive to smash it when the next re-brand comes.
  • Is there anything more romantic than helping your significant other cheat to win in I Luv Suits Poker? According to 8 News Now in Las Vegas, Yuk Wong is facing six counts of cheating or attempting to cheat at a gambling game for allegedly conspiring with a dealer at Mandalay Bay with whom she was “in a relationship.” The report says the dealer — whose name was redacted in court documents — paid Wong even when she lost hands in the I Luv Suits table game. Hey, Luv will make a person do crazy things.

And with that, the weekend is here, so kick back and crack open a soft drink — but do so responsibly …