Spin Cycle: Bally Ho, Bovada No-Go, Prophet Pivot 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 …

Lucky number seven: Bally Bet launches in Mass

As of this week there is a officially a new mobile sports betting option for Massachusetts gamblers. Bally Bet launched in the state at 11 a.m. Tuesday, joining FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars, Fanatics, and ESPN Bet as regulated Bay State betting apps. That brings Massachusetts to seven active operators; Betr and WynnBet both operated briefly in the state before winding down operations there.

Bally’s, you’ll recall, was the lone operator to attend the May roundtable in Massachusetts on limiting bettors, as all of the active operators failed to show. Another meeting addressing the same topic is expected this summer, with all of the state’s operators purportedly planning to appear.

At a Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting this Monday ahead of the Bally Bet launch, Interim Executive Director Jordan Maynard made a point to thank Bally’s for not snubbing the commission in May.

Bally Bet is now live in eight states, with Massachusetts joining Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, New York, Ohio, and Virginia. Bally’s also has exclusive rights to operate online casinos in Rhode Island.

West Virginia joins the Bovada C&D brigade

Offshore operator Bovada is decidedly unpopular among U.S. gaming regulators. Michigan got the ball rolling in late May in sending site operator Harp Media B.V. a cease-and-desist letter, Connecticut did the same in June, and now West Virginia is in on the act.

The West Virginia Lottery, which oversees sports betting in state, issued a cease and desist last Thursday to the Curaçao-based operator.

Bovada is just one of many offshore operators available without permission or regulation to U.S. customers, but clearly it has become the trendy one to shut down, perhaps because it’s shown a general willingness to comply or perhaps it is simply the de facto representative and logical target, owing to its size.

According to the American Gaming Association, U.S.-based customers gamble $511 billion a year on unregulated options.

Prophet pivot

One of the two sports betting exchanges (alongside Sporttrade) that was an early entrant into New Jersey, Prophet Exchange, has announced that it is pivoting to the sweepstakes/social casino market after a brief dormancy.

For proponents of greater choice (and outs) on the sports betting front, it’s a disappointing development. But based on revenue report activity as well as comments by co-founder Jake Benzaquen regarding some of the structural challenges of operating in the regulated U.S. sports betting space, it is hardly surprising.

The company has not yet announced a launch date for ProphetX but when it does, the platform will quickly expand, with a new sweepstakes model, from the Garden State to most of the United States.

— Brett Smiley

Take my media partner, please

As Steve Ruddock reported Tuesday in his “Straight to the Point” newsletter, according to Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, DraftKings may be ready to sell gambling media outlet VSIN back to its founders, the Musberger family.

DraftKings acquired VSIN (which stands for Vegas Stats & Information Network) in 2021 for $70 million, and Ruddock wrote that Brent Musberger and company could now get it back for “pennies on the dollar.” It doesn’t quite sound as perfect as Dave Portnoy reacquiring Barstool Sports for literally one dollar, but it’s in that neighborhood.

VSIN, founded in 2017, airs video and audio shows focused mostly on sports gambling out of a studio in The D Las Vegas.

No cash, no card

Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City took a step into the future of land-based gaming this week, announcing Tuesday the launch of “Cardless Gaming.” In a nutshell, it brings fully mobile money management to in-person casino gambling.

Under the “account” tab on Ocean’s mobile app, players can simply open a QR code on their phone and scan that at any table or slot machine to buy in. There is no longer a need to get cash before heading to the casino, to pay exorbitant ATM fees while there, or even to bust out a credit card.

“The Ocean Casino Resort Mobile App takes our gaming experience to a new convenient level for avid gamers and fun-goers by providing a cardless option directly to the palm of their hands,” Ocean SVP and Chief Information Officer John Forelli said in a press release, adding that Ocean is “continuously adapting to evolving player preferences and utilizing advancing technology.” 

(Of course, there’s also Ocean Online Casino in New Jersey, if you want to skip the cash, the cards, and also the changing out of your pajamas.)

The Shuffle: Other news and views

THE OLD COLLEGE TRY: Lawmaker in NJ introduces bill to allow in-state college sports betting

DO IT LIVE!: BetRivers launches live-dealer iCasino gaming in Delaware with Evolution

MONEY AND INFLUENCE: The godfather of slots: Brian Christopher and what he looks for in a casino partner

THE WEINMAN EFFECT?: The number to beat is 10,043 as World Series of Poker Main Event week arrives

NOT REMOTELY SMART: Protectionism is holding back Nevada’s mobile sports betting market

AD IN: Google to allow lottery courier and fantasy sports ads in many states

GRAY DIVIDE: Kentucky judge keeps ban in place on slots-like ‘gray machines’

CODE RED: Schuetz: The US online sports betting ecosystem can’t handle the truth

INTERNAL BATTLE: Concerns grow over gambling addiction in the military

A LEG UP: New Jersey horsemen, casino owners score wins as state lawmakers break for summer recess

TAKE A HIKE: Illinois’ new sports betting tax rate takes effect; state now has 2nd-highest rate

SILENCE IS NOT GOLDEN: Ruddock Report: It’s quiet out there

MOTOWN MOXIE: Detroiter sues MGM Grand for not paying out her $127,000 casino jackpot

BABY STEPS: Rhode Island continuing iGaming growth with new revenue high of $2.25 million in May

HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Kambi names former Sportradar executive Becher as new CEO

DOWNSTATE DELAY: New York Gaming Board aiming to extend casino bid deadline to June 2025

MERCH AND DESTROY: Ohio gaming regulator proposes new rule amid Fanatics violation

The Bonus Round

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

We’re keeping The Bonus Round short and sweet for this holiday week. That poor fella in the video above thought he was in for blackjack fireworks, only to have his bottle rocket backfire on him. But there were some explosive wins to report elsewhere:

  • At the Scarlet Pearl Casino in D’Ibervile, Mississippi, three separate slots jackpots hit in a span of a few hours last Friday. First a man from Austin, Texas, won nearly $50,000 playing dimes on a Mighty Cash machine. Then a woman from Gulfport, Mississippi won $86,000, also playing dimes, on a Lock It Link machine. And then a man from Iuka, Mississippi topped them both by winning nearly $100,000 playing Triple Blazing 7s Double. “It was just like pop, pop, pop all day long,” a Scarlet Pearl employee told the Sun Herald.
  • Those wins pale in comparison to what happened at Hard Rock Atlantic City on June 26. A man who claimed he’d never been inside a casino before played a Wheel of Fortune slot, put $100 into the machine, and was down to his last $10 … when he hit the progressive jackpot for $1,593,457.33. Interestingly, game manufacturer IGT said the winner will be paid the nearly $1.6 million prize over a 20-year annuity. A bonus of $80,000 a year before taxes? Yawn.

And with that, hope everyone had a great 4th! And if you’ll indulge me a simple request, as a dog owner: The holiday is not the 5th of July. It’s not the 6th of July. It’s not the 7th of July. You get one day when you have carte blanche to light all the loud fireworks you want and when the panic attacks you’re giving my dog are my problem. All the other days, put your fireworks away. Show some compassion for the dogs and dog owners in your neighborhood. Celebrate our nation’s independence with a little bit of chill.