PlayUSA Rewind: Poker Returns To MGM Springfield In Limited Capacity

Posted By Nicholaus Garcia on August 25, 2021

Time to help you transition into the weekend with another stellar edition of the PlayUSA Rewind!

This week, live poker returns to Massachusetts, NHL teams are getting jersey ads, and we catch up on recent sports betting launches across the US.

For even more coverage, be sure and follow @VisitPlayUSA | @reporternickg | @brantjames for all the latest insights.

On the rewind:

Live poker returning to Massachusetts casino

Fans rejoice! Live poker is returning to MGM Springfield in Massachusetts but in a limited capacity.

Instead of the usual 28 tables at MGM, those looking for a seat will only have 10 to 12 tables to choose from. Unfortunately for those who choose to gamble at Encore Boston Harbor, poker will not be making its return.

In July, a spokesperson for Encore Boston told the gaming commission that the casino could not find enough people to hire as dealers. In addition to that key element, the former poker room is now filled with some of the casino’s “highest-performing slot machines.”

Both casinos have been without live poker for over a year. However, in May, MGM and Encore Boston were freed from almost all COVID-19 restrictions.

The takeaway: From a revenue standpoint, the two properties are doing just fine. In fact, Encore cleared a record-high $59.07 million in gaming revenue in July. MGM also generated $23.71 million, its best since 2019. From a novelty perspective, those who love poker should be excited to see its return after a year’s hiatus, even though it’s only at one casino.

West Virginia sports betting hits low

These are the dark months, the time where only Major League Baseball is available to keep sports betting afloat.

The lack of football is affecting the WV sports betting market and all other jurisdictions across the US. Sports betting in the Mountaineer State narrowly cleared $19 million in betting handle in July.

Hollywood Casino and its pattern DraftKings cleared $8.1 million in bets. Down the road at The Greenbrier and its duo of FanDuel and BetMGM, combined for roughly $7.9 million in handle.

The low handle translated to only $2.1 million in revenue, down 27% from the previous month.

The takeaway: Before people freak out, again, this is a July report. Months like this are to be expected. In addition, college football and NFL betting will begin in a week providing the spark to turn these numbers around.

Advertisements coming to NHL jerseys

Although more prevalent with other sports in other parts of the world, jersey ads are finally coming to the National Hockey League.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the uniform addition for the 2022-23 season. But, don’t worry; this new addition won’t soil your favorite team’s uniform. The ads can only occupy a 3 x 3.5-inch rectangle, making them slightly larger than those seen on NBA jerseys.

A pair of teams, the New Jersey Devils and Vegas Golden Knights, partnered with Caesars Sportsbook — formally William Hill — back in 2018. Assuming the jersey ad space is one per team, the tiny rectangle might go to the highest bidder or perhaps even to a company the team already has a deal with.

The takeaway: Again, jersey ads are nothing new. The NBA, WNBA, and MLS all have them. However, most of those advertisements were before legal sports betting erupted across the US. Now, major sports betting operators are striking deals with individual teams and cable networks; it’s only fitting they conquer team uniforms as well.

Barstool sportsbook launches in NJ

Like a shadow in the night, Penn National Gaming quietly launched the Barstool Sportsbook in New Jersey.

Penn National gained market access through Freehold Raceway’s license and becomes the Garden State’s 19th online sportsbook.

By comparison, there are 25 online sports betting apps in Colorado.

Including New Jersey, Barstool is now live in five states — Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. But it doesn’t stop there.

Penn National has plans to launch in Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee, and Virginia and is part of a superbid vying for a chance to operate New York sports betting.

The takeaway: This is a textbook move to launch before the start of football season. Although Penn National has to compete with 18 other operators in New Jersey, none of the other apps have the die-hard following that comes with Barstool.

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Where we stand on sports betting launches in 2021

Our weekly Market Teasers segment will take a small break, so we examine the sports betting landscape. Several states passed sports betting bills this year, with some hoping to launch before the start of the NFL season. Among those are states with deep ties to NFL and college football.

Arizona

All signs appear to be pointing to a September launch for AZ sports betting. The only hiccup appears to be, surprise surprise, not enough licenses for Native American tribes. State regulators received 16 tribal applications but only have 10 tribal betting licenses to work with.

Louisiana

Louisiana adopted emergency sports betting rules on August 19, which basically allows for things to move faster. New gaming chairman Ronnie Johns said he believes sportsbooks will be ready by September.

North Carolina

Don’t expect NC online sports betting anytime soon. Although a bill to allow for 10-12 mobile sports betting licenses cleared the state Senate, there is still a long way to go before bets can be placed. For the time being, North Carolinians can place wagers at two tribal-owned Harrah’s branded casinos.

Maryland

Well, it’s official, Maryland will miss the start of the NFL season. Many had hoped MD sports betting would progress smoothly and be able to launch by September 9. But, unfortunately, a few things held up the process, and now, it will be at least 30 more days before things get rolling again.

Additional states hoping to launch sports betting by 2021-22 are Connecticut, South Dakota, Wyoming, and New York (mobile).

From the archives

Remember to follow @VisitPlayUSA | @reporternickg | @brantjames for even more insights.

Photo by Charles Krupa / Associated Press
Nicholaus Garcia Avatar
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick has had stints in Chicago and Washington, D.C., writing about politics, financial markets, and sports betting. He graduated from Texas Tech University and completed his master's degree in journalism at Columbia College Chicago.

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