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Pennsylvania, Nevada and Illinois sportsbooks score big in Super Bowl

According to preliminary figures released by the states’ respective gaming boards

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he Nevada Gaming Control Board released figures on Tuesday that showed $136.1 million was wagered in the state on Super Bowl LV that featured the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, marking the fourth-best win for the state’s books in the last 10 years.
The sportsbooks ended up holding 9.2% of the money wagered for a “win” of $12,574,125, KTNV reports.
According to the gaming control board, Nevada is home to 184 sportsbooks and several were still able to have guests enjoy the game under COVID-19 restrictions.
As for Pennsylvania, the state’s board preliminary figures show $53.6 million was wagered on Sunday’s Super Bowl through retail and online sportsbooks, which represents a 74% increase over wagers placed on the game last year.
After payouts, revenue is expected to be $9.4 million following a negative revenue amount from 2020 Super Bowl wagering, the Reading Eagle reports.
This was the third year in which legal sports wagering was available in Pennsylvania for the Super Bowl, but just the second in which online wagering options were available. This year, patrons could choose to place Super Bowl wagers at 15 retail locations and through 12 online wagering sites. Those numbers last year were 12 and eight respectively.
The board also reported that there were 320,000 unique users that logged onto online sports wagering sites in Pennsylvania on Super Bowl Sunday based on data it obtained from geolocation technology service GeoComply.
Figures from last year’s Super Bowl Sunday were 200,000 unique visitors to Pennsylvania regulated sports wagering websites. These figures do not include customers who were visiting and wagering at any of the retail sports wagering locations in the Commonwealth.
Finally, in Illinois, taking their first chance to bet legally on the Super Bowl, football fans laid down $46 million in wagers, an amount called “historically the largest amount ever in Illinois.”
According to figures released Monday by the State Gaming Board, the total handle was $45,610,513 — with $42,756,647 of those bets being made online. The state’s cut of that is $1,148,890 in tax revenue.
“That number, that 1.1 could go up,” said Joe Miller, the board’s policy director. “There’s still some outstanding wagers still out there. So yeah, though, these are all preliminary numbers, just raw from the sportsbooks this morning.”
Miller said the big game was the biggest event since sports betting was legalized in 2019 and launched last year.
“I just don’t know that there was a comparable event since last March when the first sports betting started,” he said. “Maybe some European soccer or something, but I don’t even think that that comes close. I think this is historically the largest amount ever in Illinois, and it’s that way for other jurisdictions as well.”
The money bet on this one event is “nearly 20% to a quarter” of the total amount of all bets made in November, the last month for the state has data, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

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Hard Rock Casino Rockford gets preliminary approval from Illinois regulators

It is the first among the six casinos authorized by legislation to be found preliminarily suitable

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he Illinois Gaming Board made a unanimous preliminary determination Thursday that the proposal for Hard Rock Casino Rockford is suitable.
This approval was needed to continue, while failure to be found suitable could have derailed the $310 million casino complex project. However, Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter warned Hard Rock that the finding was far from a final approval, Rockford Register Star reports. Fruchter encouraged the company to continue to cooperate with the state’s analysis of owners, ownership structure, investors, vendors and employees. 
“Preliminary suitability is an important step in the licensure process, but it is not the ultimate step,” Fruchter said. “It is not final licensure, nor is it a guarantee of final licensure.”
Hard Rock is the first among the group of six casinos authorized by legislation in June 2019 to be found preliminarily suitable. Now, the Gaming Board will continue to investigate key players behind the Hard Rock proposal as the company prepares to submit a detailed plan for operations of its proposed temporary and permanent casinos.
The Gaming Board Chairman Charles Schmadeke made cryptic references to unanswered questions even as he encouraged approval. “Frankly, I have some questions about some of the former and current relationships of some of the key individuals but those are questions — they are not evidence,” Schmadeke said. “All of the evidence that I have seen that’s been produced to the Gaming Board does not show there are any problems. As this matter proceeds, that evidence may or may not develop that some key persons may not have the fitness for this particular project, but we are not there today.”
Dan Fischer, owner of Dotty’s gambling cafe and the chief investor in the Hard Rock Casino Rockford project, is embroiled in a civil lawsuit over efforts to expand his gambling empire. He and others were accused of taking part in a “sham transaction” to expand his chain of gaming establishments in a $46.5 million deal, according to a civil lawsuit filed in Cook County. His company has denied any wrongdoing.
Hard Rock’s proposal includes a 65,000-square-foot casino, a Hard Rock Café and a 1,600-seat Hard Rock Live venue at the former Clock Tower Resort on East State Street at the entrance to Interstate 90.
Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara sent a letter reaffirming the city’s support and encouraging the Gaming Board to find the project suitable, where he pointed out the potential importance of the casino for the city’s economy. The project is expected to generate as many as 1,200 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs at the casino complex. Rockford will receive a minimum of $7 million annually from the casino, under terms of a host community agreement.
Company officials say a temporary slots-only casino will open at Giovanni’s Restaurant & Convention Center within 90 days of approval from the state.
“We are grateful to the state and the Illinois Gaming Board for their support and for allowing this process to get one step closer to reality,” said Jon Lucas, COO for Hard Rock International, in a written statement. “We have a lot of work to do to complete this process, and we are excited at what lies ahead, as we know the city of Rockford is as well, with respect to the jobs and revenues this project will create.”
State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, applauded the decision and praised the application put forward by Fischer and Hard Rock International. “While today’s action is not final approval, it does allow Hard Rock to move forward with and for us to get the temporary casino up and running,” Syverson said in a news release. “I am confident because of the great work done at the front end of this process, the final approval will come shortly. This is a huge win for Rockford and the region.”

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Illinois: application review for casino license delayed once more

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fter the Illinois Gaming Board did not receive bids from investment banks it planned to hire to help vet applicants, a review of applications for a south suburban casino license has again been postponed.
With four sites in the south suburbs vying for one license, the setback comes after applicants learned last fall, at a point when they hoped the gaming board was close to making a decision, that the review process for evaluating proposals had been pushed back due largely to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The gaming board had, in early December, put out a request for proposals seeking investment banks and other experts to review matters including a particular casino project’s economic impact, potential job creation, and overall financial projections for each project.
Bids were due to be opened on Jan. 8, but no submissions were received, Marcus Fruchter, the board’s administrator, said at a Jan. 27 gaming board meeting.
He told board members a revised proposal would be drafted and issued to prospective bidders, but it was not clear when that would happen.
The Illinois General Assembly in May 2019 approved legislation expanding the number of casino licenses throughout the state from the current 10.
Along with the south suburban licenses, additional licenses were designated for Chicago, Danville, Rockford, Waukegan and Williamson County.
The legislation had also provided for a combination horse racing track and casino, or racino, which had at one point been proposed for the former Tinley Park Mental Health Center.
Along with the legalization of recreational marijuana, the revenue generated from the massive expansion of gambling in Illinois is expected to help fund the state’s $45 billion Rebuild Illinois capital spending plan.
Four sites are competing for the coveted south suburban land-based casino license:

Calumet City has proposed, along with partner Delaware North, using part of the River Oaks shopping center at Torrence Avenue east of Interstate 94, for a casino and related development.
Wind Creek LLC, whose partners includes the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, has proposed a casino on property straddling the border of East Hazel Crest and Homewood, at the interchange of Halsted Street and Interstate 80/294.
Lynwood and its partner, the Ho-Chunk Nation, propose a casino just east of Illinois 394 and north of the interchange with Glenwood-Dyer Road.
Matteson has partnered with the Choctaw Nation, of Oklahoma, for a casino at the former Lincoln Mall site at U.S. 30 and Cicero Avenue.

Late last October the applicants learned that a decision on awarding a license had been delayed, and that once the gaming board hired an investment banker to help in the review process it could be another six months before a finding of “preliminary suitability” would be made.
The gaming board was supposed to have made a decision on the south suburban license within 12 months of receiving the applications, and that deadline was at the end of October. However, the board could, under the gambling expansion law, provide written explanations of a delay to the applicants, which the board did.
Fruchter, at the October meeting, said some aspects of the application review process were “difficult and at times impossible” because of the pandemic.
The delay comes as a land-based Indiana casino close to the south suburbs, Hard Rock Casino off Interstate 80/94 and Burr Street in Gary, expects to open in mid-April. The $300 million project will include 1,600 slot machines and 80 table games.
Contestants for the south suburban casino, such as the Southland Live project in Calumet City just across the state line, have touted their locations as not siphoning off customers from existing Illinois casinos, such as in Joliet, and also keeping gamblers in the state who now travel to casinos in northwest Indiana.
Southland Live, in paperwork filed with the Illinois Gaming Board, said it expected its casino could also bring Hoosier gamblers into Illinois. It reported that Illinois residents spend more than $700 million annually gambling at northwest Indiana casinos.
In an email, Osi Imomoh, Delaware North’s regional general manager, said the company respects “this deliberate process and stand ready to engage when an investment banking firm has been selected.”
A spokeswoman for Wind Creek, the Homewood-East Hazel Crest applicants, said that “while disappointed with the delay” the applicant “anxiously awaits the opportunity to present and share more about why they’re the best operator for the south suburbs.”
Wherever the casino is ultimately located, gambling revenue would be shared with dozens of other south and southwest suburbs, under the state legislation. That would help bolster communities that have seen a drop in revenue, such as sales taxes, due to the pandemic.
But even before the pandemic, several suburbs have seen their commercial tax base shrink due to a number of factors. The Southland Live group, in its filing with the gaming board, pointed out that the River Oaks shopping center has battled store closings and long-term vacancies for years, with tax revenues never recovering.
The economic future of the shopping center and the city itself are “bleak without a paradigm-shifting stimulus” that the casino would bring, the group said.
While not promoting one applicant over another, the Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau has cited a Southland casino as a potential tourism draw for the area as well as generating jobs.
“It’s a big disappointment,” Jim Garrett, the bureau’s president and chief executive, said of the delay. “It sets us back a little bit.”
“We just have to keep our eyes open and make sure it happens,” he said.

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