Spin Cycle: Texas Trepidation, Caesars Confidence 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 …

Hold your horses, Texas

Casino legalization advocates in the Lone Star State may have to play the long game, according to a report published this week in The Dallas Morning News.

Based on quotes from Texas lawmakers, the newspaper concluded that getting anything done in 2025 looks like “an even greater long shot” than it was in 2023 — when, of course, nothing got done.

In short, the ball would need to get rolling in 2025 in the state Senate, but perpetual opponent of gambling Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick still calls the shots in the Senate — the same body that declined to vote in 2023 on the online sports betting bill that passed the House in a 101-42 landslide.

If The Dallas Morning News’ read on the situation is correct, then Miriam Adelson and Las Vegas Sands may have dropped a whole lot of cash propping up Texas Republicans in what seemed to be an effort to move casino legalization along. Then again, there’s always 2026, and there’s always more to the story.

Bally’s gets social

Bally Casino is licensed for regulated online play in three states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. But that leaves a whole lot of other states with a customer base to potentially pursue.

Enter Bally Play, a new free-to-play social casino announced Tuesday in partnership with Ruby Seven Studios, offering all the usual iCasino game play options. From table games to slots to video poker, with games from IGT, Everi, and more, Bally Play will offer more than 150 titles in all.

“As part of our growth strategy, we have been seeking to complement our brick-and-mortar and interactive gaming offerings with a social casino,” said Bally’s Corporation Chief Product Officer Sina Miri. “Working with Ruby Seven Studios has allowed us to create a unique, best-in-class social casino experience for our existing players and can help us attract new players.”

An Icahn and an empire

As first reported by Bloomberg News, billionaire (five times over) Carl Icahn has a “sizable” position in Caesars Entertainment, news that caused Caesars stock to go up 15% and provoked speculation about the investor’s intentions.

“I like Caesars and I own some stock. I would never do activism in Caesars,” Icahn downplayed to CNBC.

The 88-year-old Icahn was very much engaged in activism in the past, most notably when he pushed for the Caesars-Eldorado merger that came to fruition in 2020, but if taken at his word that activism is not on the agenda this time, financial insiders are generally viewing this latest investment simply as an endorsement of current Caesars management.

Mixed martial slots

One thing playing slots and fighting in the UFC have in common: In both, it’s important to know when to tap out.

Casino game provider Games Global has decided to tap in to the crossover between gamblers and MMA fans, signing an exclusive three-year content deal to produce UFC-themed slot titles.

“Partnering with UFC, one of the most popular sports brands in the world, is significant for us and we look forward to showcasing our first title to the world in the coming months,” said Games Global Chief Product Officer Andy Booth in a press release.

The first of the exclusive Games Global UFC slots titles is due to be released July 23, and is called UFC Gold Blitz Extreme.

The Shuffle: Other news and views

WHALE WATCHING: Inside the online gambling VIP economy

MILITANT APPROACH: Ban on base slot machines among proposals floated for annual must-pass defense bill

LAND OF BENJAMINS: Player in Illinois claims Mega Millions jackpot

DIAMOND DOGS: Report: FanDuel to ink naming rights deal with Diamond Sports

CRACKING THE CODE: GameCode launches iGaming slots in Michigan, New Jersey

THE UMPIRE STRIKES OUT: The Nevada Gaming Control Board’s job is to call balls and strikes, not to pick winners

BANNED AID: After MLB’s reckoning on sports betting offenders, what can leagues do to enforce the rules?

WORTH A SECOND LOOK: Canadian lottery winner’s $5 million misread earns him endless supply of reading glasses

BUY NOW?: Analyst expects DraftKings stock to soar

GOING NOWHERE FAST: New York gambling bills remain in limbo as legislative session ends

FROM GLITCH TO GAVEL: BetMGM to appear before Michigan State Supreme Court

JOURNALISM JACKPOT: Jackpot.com hooks up with Associated Press as official lottery courier, provider

LOUNGE ACT: Gold Strike Casino opens Next Level Lounge, featuring Aristocrat titles

LIVE-DEALER LEGALITY: Evolution sues Light & Wonder for copyright infringement over live roulette game

THE HITS KEEP COMING: Multiple flags on the play in MLB, NBA betting scandals

BOSS BASH: Hermalyn takes shots at DraftKings CEO Robins in latest court filing

ASKING ABOUT MULTITASKING: Online sports betting will be the ruin of state lotteries: fact or fiction?

RATE EXPECTATIONS: Illinois Gov. Pritzker boasts of growth while signing new budget into law

DEEP FREEZE: YouTuber-backed ‘bank’ turned sweepstakes casino Yotta has 85,000 accounts locked up

KIND OF A BIG DEAL: Can an improved WSOP website revive online poker in Nevada?

SHOVELING SNOWDEN: PENN Entertainment investor says it’s time to sell the company

The Bonus Round

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

  • This next tweet requires a little context. Chad Knight was a college baseball player at Duke, whose sports betting desires had to be limited to comply with NCAA rules. The instant Duke lost to Oklahoma on Sunday to end Knight’s final season …

  • For all the talk about Illinois increasing its sports betting tax rate from 15% to a variable percentage ranging from 20% to 40%, lost in the shuffle was Illinois also increasing the state tax on VGTs (video gaming terminals). That rose in the new budget from 34% to … 35%. OK, maybe it makes sense that one didn’t steal any of the headlines.
  • Shoutout to Flutter, the only gaming company named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential Companies of 2024. Our sources say it came down to Flutter vs. Boeing for the final spot, and Flutter got the nod.

  • This week in turning-a-little-into-a-lot news, BetMGM spread the word about an online casino player in Southfield, Michigan, who was playing Bison Fury (not to be confused with former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury) and won $1 million off a 40-cent spin. Progressive jackpot payouts sure are nice when you hit ‘em!
  • The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s story about a game innovation at Four Queens in downtown Vegas is worth a quick read — especially if you’re a new parent excited to see the phrase “baby craps” in print in a context that doesn’t require you to reach for the diapers and wipes.

And on that note, have a great weekend, and may all your New York Times spelling bee submissions find honey!