PlayUSA Rewind: As Michigan And Pennsylvania Show Big Wins, Steve Wynn Loses Again

Posted on December 23, 2019 - Last Updated on April 14, 2020

‘Twas week before Christmas, and all through the nation, sports betting bills passed through state legislation.”

With the swoop of a pen, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made wolverines cheer, as the leader in Michigan gave legalized wagering the all-clear.

Another state, Pennsylvania, hung its stocking with braggadocios care. You would, too, if you took in $1 billion over the past year.

Many states and stakeholders have much to boast about. When Christmas day arrives, most will see gifts and joy abound. But one stocking is drooping, nearly touching the floor; with this much coal already for Steve Wynn, could it take much more?

End of obligatory holiday poem. Let’s get to the biggest news of last week.

Michigan sports betting is officially a go

Once again, the week’s biggest news involves Michigan. And fittingly, the week’s biggest news came on a Friday.

Whitmer signed off on the Lawful Sports Betting Act, among other bills, to officially legalize Michigan sports betting.

In addition to regulated wagering, Michigan saw the legalization of online poker, online casinos and daily fantasy sports. Big day for the Big Mitten. All told, the package of bills became the largest gambling expansion in the state’s history.

As it’s laid out, Michigan’s three commercial and 23 tribal casinos would be permitted to pursue sports betting licenses, shelling out a combined $150,000 for application and licensing. They would also be obligated to pay an 8.4% tax on adjusted gross sports betting receipts; commercial casinos would pay an additional 1.25% tax to the city of Detroit.

The man who correctly predicted Whitmer would sign off on legislation before Christmas, Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. also told Legal Sports Report that Michigan could roll out retail sportsbooks in time for March Madness.

Pennsylvania’s sports betting capital? Billa-delphia

Pun stretch or not, facts rarely tell lies.

A year after Hollywood Casino opened the doors to Pennsylvania’s first retail sportsbook, the Keystone State has exceeded $1 billion in handle. Total wagers in November set a single-month record in Pennsylvania as the public laid down over $316 million.

That total actually pushed PA’s lifetime handle to some $1.1 billion. And with more operators still expected to join the market, that second billion should come in short order.

The likes of FanDuel Sportsbook, a relatively late-comer to the PA party, has taken control of about 36% of the marketplace. For perspective, Rivers Philadelphia accounts for around 21% of wagers placed.

Pennsylvania’s lofty tax rates (a 36% take) obviously provides a hit to the wallet of operators. Even so, they still registered $75 million in profits during that first year. So, not too shabby.

Nearby New Jersey will always remain the standard, especially for Pennsylvania. As PlayPennsylvania laid out, the Garden State crossed the billion-dollar finish line seven months into operations. But Pennsylvania continues to expand. It boasts 12 retail sportsbooks and eight betting apps. But those numbers will surely change in the coming months.

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Losses abound for casino mogul Steve Wynn

The L’s keep piling up for good ol’ Steve Wynn.

The former Las Vegas magnate has faced a mountain of allegations regarding sexual misconduct in the workplace that ultimately led to his resignation. And last week, the Nevada Gaming Commission declared that it holds jurisdiction to discipline Wynn further. His attorneys argued otherwise, seeing as the 77-year-old, who has denied these allegations, no longer works in the state gambling industry and now lives in Florida.

Unsurprisingly, Wynn’s attorneys intend to appeal to the state Supreme Court as they question whether the gaming commission actually has jurisdiction.

In any case, Wynn just can’t win.

His company, Wynn Resorts, was fined $20 million by the NGC last year for failing to look into claims of sexual misconduct made against Wynn before he resigned. Interestingly, regulators in Massachusetts levied another $35 million in fines against Wynn Resorts for not disclosing the years of allegations against Wynn.

Last month, Wynn agreed to pay $20 million in damages, and insurance carriers will pay $21 million on behalf of current or former employees of Wynn Resorts. Per the agreements, none of this is an “admission of wrongdoing.”

Overall, it looks like it’s a stocking full of coal this year for the disgraced mogul.

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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