PlayUSA Rewind: Coronavirus Outbreak Takes A Toll On Casino Stocks

Posted on March 10, 2020

The country has quickly fallen into a panic as the coronavirus continues to spread.

Shoppers are cleaning out stores while wrapped head to toe in plastic; schools and businesses are shutting down. Even the future of the Olympics and March Madness has come into question.

Pro leagues have issued memos to franchises with ideal ways to interact with fans, such as fist bumps instead of high fives and not taking pens directly from fans when signing autographs.

Even the casino industry has suffered. Particularly in Las Vegas.

On to the Rewind:

Coronavirus delivers hit to casino stocks

Around the world, countries are ailing from the coronavirus in more ways than one. From a business standpoint, travel restrictions in China, for example, come back to affect Vegas. Fear surrounding the toll it takes on Sin City has grown, especially after learning that Macau, Asia’s gambling capital, closed casinos for two weeks after the coronavirus outbreak.

After all, about 4% of international visitors to Vegas in 2018 hailed from China. Additionally, California residents made up about 21% of domestic visitors in 2018. California recently declared a state of emergency following its first coronavirus-related death.

All told, casino companies such as MGM Resorts InternationalWynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands Corp. have warned investors that travel restrictions, both internationally and domestically, could hurt Vegas.

Indeed, casino stocks took a sharp downturn last week, dropping as much as 14% around the same time Nevada health officials announced an individual tested positive for coronavirus. Among the companies taking hits (stats are as of March 5):

  • Red Rock Resort: down 13.86%
  • MGM Resorts: down 11.5%
  • Wynn Resorts: down 9.5%
  • Boyd Gaming: down 9.3%
  • Caesars Entertainment: down 5.69%
  • Las Vegas Sands: down 4.14%

Unfortunately, analysts and experts are predicting that this trend will continue so long as the number of new cases continues to rise. For now, playing online casinos may be as close of a gambling experience as people want to have.

FanDuel Sportsbook on its way to Michigan

Once again, the Michigan sports betting landscape has expanded.

Just in time for March Madness, FanDuel Sportsbook announced market access it acquired courtesy of a partnership with MotorCity Casino in Detroit.

The deal allows FanDuel to operate the property’s retail sportsbook as well as launch an online betting app later on. While the mobile solution will likely have to wait until next year, FanDuel could potentially open a retail sportsbook much sooner.

Brick-and-mortar betting could happen as soon as March 11 at some locations, nearly a week ahead of March Madness.

MotorCity was the last of three Detroit commercial casinos to land a sports betting partner. MGM Resorts will leverage Roar Digital (a joint venture with GVC), while Greektown Casino-Hotel will benefit from its owner Penn National.

FanDuel becomes the latest brand-name bookmaker to gain entry to Michigan, joining the likes of William Hill, PointsBet, Fox Bet and Scientific Games.

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Could Maryland sports betting be on the way?

On the threshold of soaring through the Senate: a bill to legalize sports betting in Maryland.

Not only is it legislation to regulate wagering, but it’s also a proposal that appears more inclusive than past drafts.

Changes to S 4 in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee allows for six casinos to acquire sports betting permits as well as three racetracks and a stadium for the Washington Redskins.

Sen. Craig Zucker, who amended the bill, expressed his confidence to Legal Sports Report that the legislation would pass.

As LSR detailed, the original bill called for casinos to receive sports betting exclusivity and features some of the highest fees and tax rates in the country: $2.5 million for initial licensing, 20% taxation.

While the tax rate remains the same, licensing fees have been tiered, from $2.5 million for casinos with 1,000 or more video lottery terminals down to $1.5 million for casinos with less than 1,000. The Redskins’ stadium would obtain a license for the higher amount.

Should S 4 pass through the Senate, it would need to succeed in the House and then receive a signature from the governor. After these steps, the legislation would go to the voters in November. Legalizing sports betting requires voter approval of a constitutional amendment.”

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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