GAMBLING

Colorado online gaming bill; New York sports betting; Adelson gives up on Mass.

TAGs: colorado, las vegas sands, Massachusetts, New York, new york racing association, sports betting

colorado-new-york-sports-betting-adelson-massachusettsColorado almost had an online gambling bill on the legislative docket this year, according to the body that represents the state’s 40 land-based casinos. Colorado Gaming Association exec director Lois Rice told CardPlayer that the group has drafted a bill modeled on the one currently pending in New Jersey, but hasn’t yet passed it to Colorado legislators because the CGA has its “hands full with another gaming-related issue.” Rice further said that this double-secret sight-unseen bill might not be introduced when state legislators reconvene in 2013, although she maintains online gaming “will be an issue in Colorado” next year. Perhaps not surprisingly, House Speaker Frank McNulty’s people claimed ignorance of any such plans by the CGA.

Also following New Jersey’s footsteps, New York state senator Tony Avella has introduced a bill that would allow state residents the privilege of betting on professional sporting events. The New York Post reported that the betting would be handled by the state’s casinos, the Aqueduct and Yonkers racinos as well as at OTB parlors. The proposal has received the backing of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, who said legal sports betting “has always made sense to me.” Avella says the state’s cut of the proceeds would help fund schools. (Won’t someone think of the children?) Avella’s bill would require amending the state’s constitution plus the small matter of a court appeal of the federal PASPA anti-sports betting measure, unless those two NJ pols can convince their Washington counterparts to simply junk PASPA.

Sticking with the Empire State, the troubled New York Racing Association has agreed to dissolve its 25-member board of directors and replace it with a state-controlled 17-member unit featuring entirely different people. The change was made at the behest of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is trying to restore public confidence in the NYRA following a scandal in which top officials allegedly intentionally overcharged punters on certain exotic wagers. New York will control appointments to the new board for the next three years, after which control will revert back to the NYRA, assuming no man-on-horse sex tapes featuring the appropriately named I’ll Have Another surface during this period.

Further north in Massachusetts, Las Vegas Sands has become the latest casino giant to back out of the running for a Bay State gaming joint. The Boston Globe quoted Sands’ spokesman saying Massachusetts’ plan to allow three casinos plus a slot parlor “didn’t synch with our business model.” Wynn Resorts made a similar decision earlier this month to back out of a Boston area casino. Sands reportedly spent $500k lobbying lawmakers to pass the casino bill in November, but that’s pocket change to Sands’ über-wealthy chief exec (and Massachusetts native) Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson probably knows what he’s doing. Economist Elliott Morss told Boston radio station WBUR that the northeast US casino market is not only facing saturation in the future, but is “very, very sick” at present. Morss pointed to New Jersey, where three casinos were coming out of bankruptcy; a Rhode Island casino is doing the same; the two casinos in Connecticut are struggling under massive debt loads; new facilities are opening in Maryland, etc. etc. “So when Adelson sees something like this going on, my sense is he’s saying, ‘Why would I go to that part of the US when I see all this bankruptcy? Why should I do it there when I can put another one in Macau or Thailand or some other Asian nation where the sky’s the limit?’” Why indeed?

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