Welcome to another week of quarantine. Potentially, though, it won’t last much longer.
States across the country have started reopening select businesses and easing isolation restrictions as they pertain to the coronavirus pandemic. They have developed policies and guidelines for the public and industries to follow in order to resume operations.
In due time, it appears, casinos will reopen their doors after being closed, for the most part, since March.
Along those lines, major sports are reportedly close to returning. As such, legalized sports betting across the country could pick back up. For now, though, we continue to wait. Hopefully, not for much longer.
On to the Rewind:
Sports betting down, horse betting up in US
Any other year, we’d be coming out of one of the busiest times on the sports calendar. What with March Madness and playoff pushes in the NBA and NHL, and not to mention the start of MLB and the Masters.
As it has been well-publicized, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the suspension and cancellation of major sports schedules and events as of March 11. Notably, the NCAA Tournament was scratched, which certainly hurt the wallets of bookmakers.
So it should come as no surprise that a virtually sports-less March included sports betting handle in the US plummeting by 65% as it relates to the previous month and reflects a year-over-year decline of 45%. Similarly, overall revenue dropped nearly 60%, month to month.
Nevada took the brunt among states with legalized wagering, as its handle and revenue from February to March nose-dived by 71.1% and 96.2%, respectively. For the Silver State, the lack of March Madness delivered a blow, as basketball in March 2019 accounted for 83% of Nevada’s handle.
That said, it appears bettors may have found another outlet: horse betting.
In April, while the year-over-year handle dropped 24.4%, horse racing attracted more than $639 million in wagers last month. Consider, though, that many tracks across the country remain closed and just 746 races took place — a 71.4% drop.
Most notably, the average race day boasted a whopping $7.5 million in handle. Compared with April 2019, that’s a 176.5% spike.
Michigan casinos are closed until vaccine developed
Since March 22, casinos in Michigan have been shuttered due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Some tribes have targeted reopening as early as this month. That’s not the case in Detroit, where properties might not open back up until a coronavirus vaccine is introduced.
As told to The Detroit News, city Mayor Mike Duggan noted that while reported COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state have declined, “[w]here we are today is where we’re going to be in September and is likely to be where we are in January.”
Duggan added that the virus will continue to exist until there is a vaccine.
That said, Duggan related a potential world in which casinos potentially operated “at 25%-30% capacity” until a vaccine is introduced. He continued, saying he wouldn’t push for anything “before it’s medically safe” and that casinos might not welcome customers for a “few months.”
Closed casinos certainly hurt Detroit, which pocketed adjusted gross receipts of $1.45 billion from casinos in 2019, resulting in more than $184 million for the city.
Louisiana sports betting bills come to light
While sports remain sidelined, lawmakers in Louisiana have introduced three bills to potentially land legalizing sports betting on the ballot and in the hands of the public.
Sen. Cameron Henry, as he told Legal Sports Report, expects the Senate to vote on his bill in short order.
That bill, S 130, simply requests the legalization of the industry to hit the November ballot. This strategy provides Louisiana legislators to take a step forward toward potentially regulating sports betting by gauging the interest of state residents.
It also gives lawmakers ample time to develop regulations, as Henry said, ones that “we’ll have months to work on rather than days or weeks.”
But it won’t be statewide legalization. Individual parishes decided to approve sports betting via referendum. As an example, 47 of 64 parishes green-lit daily fantasy sports.
To reach the ballot, legislators must pass a referendum bill by June 1. If approved by voters, Louisiana then implements language for a bill in 2021. Finally, a revenue bill with tax rates and fees must pass the legislature by a two-thirds supermajority and receive governor approval.
The other two proposed bills also aim to get in front of voters and include regulatory language for legal sports betting at 15 riverboat casinos, one land-based casino in New Orleans and four racetracks. Both proposals limit online wagering to casino properties.