PlayUSA Rewind: PA Lottery, MI Sports Betting En Route, Eldorado Finalizes Deal

Written By Grant Lucas on December 9, 2019 - Last Updated on September 29, 2023
Picture of Caesars Palace in Vegas

Certain headlines, tweets, email subject lines or even text messages make you step back and shake your head.

Shake it off, you think. Let’s try reading that again to make sure I indeed saw what I saw.

You’re not alone. Happens all the time. But despite any head-scratching stories (Josh Shaw, anyone?), we must persist and keep up with US gambling news for better or worse.

Time to pause, rewind and recap the biggest stories that have happened across the USA.

Pennsylvania Lottery goes under the microscope

Over the past year, the Pennsylvania Lottery has reached levels it had never before reached. Records have fallen. State residents’ lives have changed. And it has certainly attracted headlines.

But so, too, has it attracted the attention of the Pennsylvania auditor general: Eugene DePasquale. Focusing on repeat winners, DePasquale intends to audit the state lottery and conclude if it is meeting the standards to prevent fraud by winners and lottery retailers.

In collaboration with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, as well as with four other newspapers, PennLive conducted a national investigation that uncovered potential illegal activity connected to the frequency of these lottery “winners.”

An example used is a Massachusetts resident who has turned in over 7,300 winning tickets worth $10.8 million. The player purchased winning tickets from other players at a discount, a scheme that apparently necessitates the cooperation of lottery retailers.

Upon hearing of this case, which began in 2016 and came to a conclusion earlier this year, DePasquale sat up. If nothing else, he said, he simply wants to “ensure that the Pennsylvania Lottery is doing everything possible to prevent and stop any fraud.”

The lottery, which endured the “Triple Six Fix” era of fraud some 40 years ago, recorded $4.5 billion in sales during the last fiscal year and awarded nearly $3 billion in prizes.

Sports betting on the way to Michigan?

The on-again-off-again-on-again-off-again nature of Michigan sports betting appears to be on again.

State Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. told Legal Sports Report that negotiations between stakeholders and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have progressed swimmingly.

In fact, he added, “I fully expect the bills (to legalized sports betting and internet gambling) will be on the governor’s desk and signed before Christmas.”

Considering the wide gap that separated lawmakers from governor recently, this progress comes as a bit of a surprise. The stickiest point, it seemed, was the tax rate set for sports betting and online gaming in Michigan. While the governor hoped for higher rates (thereby guaranteeing a hire kickback for the state’s school system), stakeholders targeted lower rates.

In previous efforts, a different governor vetoed similar bills for similar reasons. Per Legal Sports Report, however, Hertel has played the role of mediator: helping forge negotiations from both sides of the table. As such, gambling expansion in Michigan appears well on its way.

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It’s all coming together: Eldorado-Caesars merger approved

One of the more anticipated mergers of the year finally received shareholder approval.

Holding Special Meetings of Stockholders on the same day, Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment received approval to move forward with the merger.

Over the summer, Eldorado announced it would acquire Caesars, “reflecting total consideration of approximately $17.3 billion,” according to a release at the time. The transaction is expected to finalize within the first few months of 2020.

Eldorado has certainly been active over the past year. Among the various properties it has acquired, Eldorado added seven casinos from Tropicana Entertainment.

But this deal, with Caesars, this takes the cake. After all, only Penn National is present in more states than Caesars. And Eldorado has casinos in 12 states. Combined, the new group boasts over 60 properties across 17 states–many in the gambling capital of Las Vegas.

No doubt, Eldorado-Caesars will become the largest, and certainly more powerful, casino firm in the world.

Grant Lucas Avatar
Written by
Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf throughout his career.

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