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Josh Shaw Suspended for NFL Season for Sports Betting

It seems as though sports and sports betting have been engaged in a complicated relationship since the very first sporting event was held. Over time, sports betting has brought about challenging ethical questions like “Who should be allowed to bet?” and “How will betting impact the sport?” For years, sports betting was banned in the United States, but a 2018 Supreme Court decision overturned that ban, bringing these concerns to the fore once more. Just this past week, a player in the National Football League was suspended for the remainder of the 2020 season after placing bets on games across the league. This suspension has done nothing to silence the debate about appropriate practices for sports betting and people are once again directing their attention to these ethical issues.

Details of the Incident

Josh Shaw is a defensive back for the Arizona Cardinals who has been on injured reserve with a shoulder injury since August 25. Shaw has not played a single down for his team this season, but that doesn’t give him the right to place bets on any of the games. The NFL has a strict gambling policy that prohibits athletes, coaches, officials, and other professionals employed by the league from betting on games. Although the NFL has banned its employees from betting, more than a dozen states have legalized sports betting, making it readily available to people across the country. Sources say that on Sunday, November 10 Shaw placed a three-team parlay at Caesar’s sportsbook in Las Vegas. Shaw’s bets were on the second half of three games in Week 10, including the Cardinals game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Shaw’s bet lost, and Caesars contacted the NFL shortly after Shaw placed the wager. Nevada gaming regulations require sportsbooks to avoid accepting wagers by any professional athlete or coach, and Shaw listed his occupation as “professional football player” when filling out his application to open an account at Caesars. Shaw’s suspension was issued shortly after the NFL conducted an investigation to verify that he did in fact place the wager.

The League’s Response

In a statement released by the NFL, Commissioner Roger Goodell cited those timeless ethical concerns surrounding sports betting. Goodell emphasized that the success of the NFL depends on the preservation of the integrity of the game, and whenever an employee of the league bets on a game that integrity can be compromised. Players or coaches could very easily have access to information about teams and matchups that the common bettor would not be privy to. What’s more, players could even go as far to impact the outcome of the game through their own actions, or by encouraging others to act in a way that could influence an individual match.

The NFL’s investigation into Shaw’s betting revealed that Shaw did not involve any of his teammates or coaches in the bets he made. Additionally, he never used his position to help him gain inside information that would help him win the bets that he placed. Most importantly, the outcome of the games that Shaw bet on were not affected in any way by the bets that he placed. It is important to note that Shaw’s suspension is through the 2020 season but could last longer than that. He is able to appeal the suspension, but if that appeal fails, he would have to wait to petition for reinstatement on February 15, 2021.

History of Issues

Shaw is not the first player to be caught placing bets in the NFL, but the most recent incident of sports betting by a player dates back more than 20 years. In fact, only four players in the history of the league have faced suspension for betting. Despite the fact that these incidents are infrequent, they certainly raise many concerns for a league who is known to struggle with discipline issues. The NFL is often in the news for issues of domestic violence, substance abuse, and other issues. The fact that gambling has become legal in many places throughout the country means that sports betting can now be added to the list of issues for the league. These concerns continue to mount, while the league has begun to accept sponsorships from fantasy sports companies, casinos, and state lotteries for the first time. Ironically, Caesars Entertainment, who is responsible for operating the sportsbook where Shaw placed his wager, was just announced this past January as the league’s official casino partner.

Shaw has been no stranger to controversy either. During his college years he was suspended for fabricating a story about an ankle injury he picked up. He claimed to have injured his ankle rescuing a family member, but actually hurt it falling off a third-floor balcony. Shaw was drafted in 2015 by the Cincinnati Bengals, and he has since played for the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before being picked up as an unrestricted free agent by the Cardinals this year. Shaw may never have the opportunity to play professional football again, given the severity of the suspension and his history, but the larger issue is that the NFL is faced with a problem that is more prominent than four total suspensions would suggest. It is possible that Shaw’s suspension could force the league to take a closer look at whether or not sports betting is widespread now that it has become more available. What’s more, it’s forced the league and the public to readdress those timeless ethical questions.

California Tribes Weigh in on Sports Betting

A coalition of Native American tribes proposed a ballot measure for the 2020 election, which could give voters the opportunity to decide whether or not sports betting should be allowed at racetracks and tribal casinos. The filing of these papers has been supported by 18 tribes throughout the state and marks the newest chapter in the ongoing push for sports betting legalization in California. This initiative has been led by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, who have stated that they believe Californians should have the option to participate in sports wagering in a regulated and safe manner. The interest of the tribes comes on the heels of another sports betting bill, which was introduced by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) this past June. The action of the tribes suggests that they want to ensure they get a piece of the action. The tribes now face the task of collecting the signatures of nearly one million registered voters in order to make next year’s ballot, but that’s not the only obstacle that stands in the way of sports betting legalization within the state.

Details of the Initiative

The coalition’s proposal would allow California’s Native American tribal casinos and racetracks to offer retail sports betting, as well as craps and roulette. Bettors must be 21 or older to place a wager and wagering on high school sports and Californian collegiate athletics would be prohibited. Any marketing or advertising directed at minors would be illegal, and consumer protections as well as anti-corruption measures would be put in place in order to guarantee the integrity of sporting events. Tax on sports betting revenue would be at 10 percent and that revenue would be directed to public safety, mental health programs, education, and regulatory costs. The ultimate goal of the proposed legalization is to help address concerns over illegal and offshore sports wagering operations, which lack the necessary safeguards to protect Californian citizens.

An important component of the proposal is that sports betting would only be offered in-person. Bettors would not have the option of betting online or through a mobile device and must travel to a casino or racetrack in order to make any wagers. This may raise a few eyebrows considering the fact that in states where sports betting has been legalized up to 80 percent of wagers are placed remotely, rather than in-person. The hope is that by offering sports betting at these established locations, officials could enforce strict regulations and ensure responsible gambling and transparency. Additionally, the tribes may fear that online and mobile sports betting could take business away from their casinos.

Conflicting Interests

The legalization of sports betting in California has been an ongoing discussion since the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to allow states to legalize sports betting. Since California officials made their proposal this past June to legalize sports betting, conversations between constituents suggested that change could be in the very near future. The new proposal from the Native American tribes has complicated this in some ways. The supporters of the new initiative include the Ague Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the Barona Band of Mission Indians, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians; all of these tribes operate some of the most successful casinos in the state, thus giving weight to their proposal.

The proposal to offer sports betting at casinos and racetracks owned and operated by the tribes puts them at odds with the operators of California cardrooms, who have been making their own push for sports betting in the state. The two groups have struggled in the past over player-banked table games, which the tribes contest have taken away from their business and violated their exclusivity agreements for gaming. The conflicting interests of the group mirrors their ongoing debate over online poker, which could mean the prolonging of a decision over the best way to legalize sports betting within the state. The legalization of sports betting echoes these past arguments, as the Native American tribes push for legalization of sports betting through in-person retailers. Their proposal seems to directly oppose any online or mobile betting, which means sports betting could be less accessible.

Future of Sports Betting

With so many conflicting views surrounding sports betting in the state of California, it is tough to say whether or not legalization can come in a timely manner. Over a dozen states have already legalized sports betting or proposed some form of sports betting, and many are moving forward with those proposals within the next year. There is one thing the aforementioned groups agree on: sports betting should be legalized in order to prevent unlawful operations. If the tribes get their way, the proposal will give them exclusivity over legal sports betting, and all bets would have to be made in-person. The tribes believe that they can get the signatures necessary to put the proposal on the ballot for next year’s election. At that point it will be up to voters to determine whether or not in-person sports betting can contend with illegal online operations which have already established themselves as a more accessible option.

Atlanta Sports Teams in Favor of Sports Betting

As sports betting grows in popularity throughout the United States, four of Atlanta’s professional sports teams have voiced their opinions about legalizing sports betting in the state of Georgia. The presidents of the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks, and Atlanta United have formed the Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance in hopes of encouraging lawmakers to take action. The group recently sent a letter to state legislators, urging them to legalize both online and mobile sports betting. Now officials are feeling the mounting pressure to make a change to bring a significant gambling expansion to the state of Georgia.

Presenting Their Argument

The presidents of the teams represented by the new coalition have joined forces in hopes of addressing sports betting in the state of Georgia, which has been an ongoing point of interest as more than a dozen states have legalized some form of sports betting throughout the country. The goal is simple: regulate sports betting and create revenue for the state. The letter cites the fact that Georgia is the 12th largest state for illegal wagering, suggesting that it is past time legislators take action to ensure that sports betting activities are taking place in a controlled environment for the safety of vendors and bettors alike. The belief is that by addressing illegal sports betting activity, legislators can ensure the safety of its citizens while preserving the integrity of the sport. While the individual sports teams would not directly benefit from the revenues generated from potential sports bets, they would expect viewership and interest in the games to increase if fans were given the option to bet on games.

Previous Attempts at Legalization

For years, Georgia has looked into gambling expansions through a constitutional amendment but has failed to meet the required support. In the state, such an amendment will only pass with two-thirds support in the Legislature, which would then require support from the majority of Georgia Voters. Even the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to allow sports betting in the United States wasn’t enough to spur change in the state, and now this coalition of professional sports leaders believes a change must be made. In their letter to lawmakers, the coalition suggests that a lower threshold of support must be accepted in order to bring sports betting to the state.

Legislature has already felt the mounting pressure for gambling expansion in the state due to citizen interest in casinos and horse racing. Now the Supreme Court’s decision and the coalition of sports professionals brings additional pressure. Tennessee, Georgia’s neighbor to the north, has already legalized sports betting. Georgia House Speaker David Ralston has voiced his own opinion, saying that Tennessee is usually the last state to adapt to change and that it’s time Georgia explored its own gambling expansion options. Over the past few months, Georgia lawmakers have been studying sports gambling in Tennessee and other states who have adopted sports betting, in hopes of developing their own plan for expansion.

The Pros and Cons

Despite obvious interest throughout the state, there are still concerns surrounding the legalization of sports betting. Virginia Galloway, a lobbyist with Georgia Faith and Freedom Coalition, voiced her opinion of the new coalition and what it could mean for the state. Galloway cited many known issues surrounding gambling, such as addiction and social issues, suggesting that sports professionals were looking to take advantage of hard-working Georgians. Galloway’s comments echo those of the many religious groups and people who stand in opposition of a gambling expansion, believing that such a decision could lead to an increase in crime and other unwanted behaviors. While there may be a contingent of people who lend voice to Galloway’s concerns about predatory gambling practices, there are many who would argue just the opposite.

The sports coalition noted that they are not suggesting the introduction of an entirely new industry; there is no denying the existence of the underground gambling that takes place throughout Georgia. As it stands, that industry is operating without any safeguards against the very things the Galloway fears. The legalization of sports betting would hopefully address some of these issues, and the coalition believes that it could also generate nearly $50 million in annual revenue. Part of the money generated would be funneled through the Georgia Lottery-funded HOPE scholarship, which benefits Georgians. In addition to the enticing revenue, a gambling expansion including sports betting would generate a significant number of jobs.

Governor Brian Kemp recently called for a cut in state spending, which many believe is an indication of the intent to push for a significant gambling expansion in 2020. As it stands, a constitutional amendment would require the support of 120 state representatives and 37 senators and potentially support from the majority of voters in the state. In the coming months, the sports coalition hopes to continue to encourage change in their state.

New Hampshire Votes on Sportsbook Retailers

On Election Day in New Hampshire, nine cities will have the opportunity to vote in favor of in-person sports betting. Voters in Concord, Berlin, Claremont, Dover, Laconia, Manchester, Nashua, Rochester, and Somersworth can expect to see the following question on their ballots this Tuesday: Shall we allow the operation of sportsbook retail locations within the city? The question focuses solely on the introduction of physical sportsbook retailers, after mobile sports betting was legalized under House Bill 480 in July. As it stands, anyone over the age of 18 is allowed to participate in online sports betting, excluding a select number of people affiliated with the events being bet on. The new ballot question would likely extend this law to include physical sports betting retailers.

What the Ballot Question Means

Under the new law, the New Hampshire Lottery would be responsible for conducting all sports betting, which would be allowed as many as 10 physical sportsbook locations. Potential sites for sports betting retail locations include convenience stores or anywhere Lottery tickets are sold. Like other states who have adopted online and in-person sports betting, New Hampshire is exploring options for establishing contracts with prominent leaders in the industry. The state recently announced that they have entered contract negotiations with DraftKings and Intralot, in order to launch both online and retail sports betting services. Before these contracts are solidified, they must first be approved by the state’s Executive Council. While online betting is set to be available before the end of the NFL season, in-person sportsbooks are still riding on a favorable vote during Tuesday’s elections.

As it stands, bettors would be barred from placing wagers on any collegiate sporting events that involve teams from the state of New Hampshire. Additional restrictions would be placed on commissioners from the Lottery Commission or immediate family members’ employees of the agents running the sportsbooks; the players, teams, referees, and other officials associated with the games being bet on; and anyone who is acting as a proxy for the previously mentioned people or groups. Aside from these limitations, bettors can expect to have an array of bets available for all of their favorite sports and leagues. The addition of in-person sportsbooks would include familiar betting options for single games, teasers, parlays, over-under bets, as well as prop bets.

What’s at Stake

Unsurprisingly, money is an important factor when considering the legalization of sports betting in a state. Residents want to know that winnings will be taxed in some way to help bring in revenue and benefit those who live there. Currently, no concrete revenue projections have been released in relation to the potential legalization of in-person sports betting retailers. This is due in part to the fact that no contract has been met between the state and a vendor. That being said, DraftKings has offered 50% of its gross gaming revenue from mobile and retail betting to the state, and it is expected that a deal could be finalized soon. On the other hand, Intralot has offered 19,25% of revenues to the state for any lotter-style sports bets.

What to Expect from the Vote

Even if voters approve sports betting locations in their respective cities, it does not necessarily guarantee that these structures will be put in place. The Commission has the final say in where the 10 locations will be established throughout the state, and of course city officials will also have a say in the matter. If voters are against the establishment of in-person sports betting locations, online operations will continue to operate without interruption. Additionally, the Lottery has other games that offer sports betting at convenience stores, grocery stores, and any establishment where lottery tickets are sold. Tuesday’s ballot represents the ongoing growth of sports betting throughout the nation, and voters now have to decide whether they will follow suit.

Michigan House Approves Sports Betting Legislation

The Michigan House of Representatives have passed legislation for sports betting in the state, despite the fact that lawmakers have not reached a consensus with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The bill, which legalizes sports betting, internet gaming, and gambling on fantasy sports, passed on a bipartisan vote of 63-45 on Wednesday. Rep. Brandt Iden, R-Oshtemo Township, has been pushing the bill along in hopes of making sports betting available to Michigan residents before it becomes available in its neighbor-state, Ohio, at the end of the year. 13 states in the country have already legalized some form of sports betting and 33 states have proposed some form of legislation; the Michigan House of Representatives hopes that this recent vote will help their state join in on the action.

Details of the Bill

Once sports betting launches in the state, residents can expect to have access to making bets on some of their favorite leagues, such as Major League Baseball and the National Football League. Like many other states who have legalized sports betting, Michigan would allow bettors to place wagers on the outcome of games, while also offering a variety of live betting options. As mentioned, the bill legalizes sports betting in brick-and-mortar casinos throughout the state, as well as online and internet gaming. The latest bill comes following two similar bills that were vetoed last year by former Gov. Rick Snyder, who feared that the legislation, which also expanded upon traditional gambling in the state, would impede upon the state’s lottery.

The main focus and the reason for the delay on the passing of sports betting in the state of Michigan is due largely in part to the debate surrounding the tax rates. As it stands, the bill applies an 8.75% tax on sports betting, including a 3.25% tax for Detroit casinos. Online betting would differ in that the tax would start at 4% and gradually increase over time to 23%. Early projections show that the sports betting tax could generate $30 million in revenues, which could help ease the concerns of those in opposition of the bill.

Concerns Surrounding Sports Betting

Whitmer’s office contends that the current tax rates in the new bill are too low to realistically benefit citizens of the state. As noted by the Detroit Free Press, Whitmer’s greatest concern is the impact the new legislation could have on the School Aid Fund. The School Aid Fund currently taxes all casinos in order to help contribute to educational opportunities. The fear that Whitmer has about the new sports betting legislation is that it will take business away from existing gambling operations, thus decreasing the amount of funding schools are receiving. As it stands, the Michigan Lottery and brick-and-mortar casinos in the state pay a significantly higher tax rate, which benefits the state’s public schools. Whitmer’s office estimates that the new legislation could result in a loss of $28 million annually to the funding of these schools

Up to this point, Whitmer has been reluctant to meet with legislators and discuss a solution to this ongoing problem. Now that the House has chosen to move forward without the support of the Governor’s office, it appears that these concerns will need to be addressed immediately, possibly resulting in a veto of the newly passed legislation. If the bill is not vetoed, or the two groups and quickly reach an agreement, then Michigan residents can expect to engage in sports betting as soon as February. If not, it appears that Iden and other representatives will be willing to go back to the drawing board in order to bring sports betting to the state in the near future.

Purdue University Bans Sports Betting

This past Thursday, the Purdue University Board of Trustees approved a new sports wagering policy that has raised a few eyebrows throughout the country. The new policy bans faculty, staff, and non-athlete students from gambling on any sporting events that involve Purdue teams, coaches, or student-athletes. While sports betting was legalized in the state of Indiana as of September 1, any person found violating the new policy at Purdue could face termination or other punishment. The proposed ban would bar those associated with Purdue University from placing bets at brick and mortar sportsbooks as well as online sportsbooks. The policy will go into effect once the rule has been officially published by the University.

The NCAA rules already prevent student-athletes, university officials, coaches, and other professionals from wagering on college athletics, but Purdue’s decision to extend this ban on wagering to everyone associated with the University is unique. The policy aims to restrict the ability of staff and athletes to exploit their positions and potentially influence the outcome of the events in which they are betting on. For example, a professor could pressure their students into influencing the outcome of a match, or they could ridicule them for their performance in which they lost a bet. Additionally, athletes may share game plans or team strategy that could impact fair play. While a rule banning sports betting to prevent these unsavory situations seems like a good idea, the logistics of such a rule raises some serious questions.

Complications Surrounding the New Rule

In the state of Indiana, anyone who is 21 or older can bet on sports. It’s up to the Indiana Gaming Commission to ensure that all gambling operations are adhering to guidelines established by the industry. The challenge that the new policy that Purdue has presented is that faculty, staff, and students are only restricted when betting on Purdue matches, so how can this type of activity be monitored or regulated? As the policy stands, students and staff can still bet on other collegiate sports, just not those associated with their University. This opens up a myriad of issues with trying to monitor who is betting on what at Purdue.

While the University may be able to monitor the internet activity of the students on campus, they certainly wouldn’t be able to flag all sports betting websites because not all sports betting is being outlawed, only the matches being played by Purdue. This means that the University would have to develop a system that allows them to thoroughly analyze all activity on sports betting websites and applications to monitor exactly what students are betting on, which would require a dedication of extensive resources and may also raise questions about invasion of privacy. Additionally, it would be difficult to track who is responsible for the inappropriate online activity. What if a student is logged in under someone else’s account? What if they are logged in as a guest account? Not to mention the fact that many students may be using their own wireless network, or even placing bets through applications on their mobile devices. Tracking the online activity of every student, even those who are using networks other than the one provided on campus, would be impossible.

It is equally important to consider the approach that Purdue takes in order to crack down on sports betting at brick and mortar locations. Since the law states that anyone 21 and older can place bets on sports in the state of Indiana, casinos have no obligation to provide Purdue University with any information about the betting activity of its customers. The same could be said about the Indiana Gaming Commission, who oversees both the brick and mortar and online betting for the state. Their job is to monitor the activity of casinos and consumers in relation to the law, not the rules of Purdue University. Without much legal leverage, it is difficult to see how Purdue plans to crack down on these instances of sports betting without relying on individuals to divulge information when they see others violating the rules.

Timeline and Expectations

The announcement that came on Thursday has been in the works since all sports betting was legalized in early September, and University officials believe that it is a step in the right direction for Purdue, and that it accurately represents the University’s values. The expectation is that the rule will go into effect before Purdue plays Iowa on Saturday, October 19. Purdue will be the first public university to adopt a no sports betting policy in a state where sports betting has been legalized. However, St. Joseph’s University, which is a private college in Pennsylvania, recently announced a similar policy. If this is to be an emerging trend throughout the country, it will be interesting to see if Purdue is successful in establishing guidelines that accurately detect and identify students who violate the rules, without infringing upon their rights.

Colorado Residents to Vote on Sports Betting

After much debate in recent months, Colorado residents will finally have the opportunity to vote on the legalization of sports betting within the state. The Colorado Proposition DD would bring legal sports betting to the state with a 10% tax that would be dedicated to environmental programs. As it stands, the state of Colorado offers limited gambling and gaming options to its residents, including casinos with slot machines, poker, and blackjack. Gaming was first legalized in Colorado in 1991; this November, voters have the opportunity to expand these gaming opportunities, by voting for Colorado to become the 20th state to legalize sports betting.

How Does Proposition DD Change Gambling in Colorado?

On November 5, residents of Colorado will vote for or against Proposition DD. If residents vote in favor of legalizing gambling in the state, then the new law will go into effect as of May 2020. Bettors would be given the option of placing a variety of sports wagers at casinos throughout the state. The new law would legalize betting on professional and college sports, Olympic games, motor sports, and esports contests; these changes would be in addition to the legal horse and dog racing gambling that is already available in off-track locations within the state. One of the only exceptions to legal sports wagering would be the limitation of individual player prop bets for collegiate athletics, which is more or less the standard in states where sports betting has already been legalized.

Fantasy sports, which were legalized in 2017, are unaffected by Proposition DD. In other words, no additional taxes are to be expected from existing fantasy sports games. While many states have already adopted online sports gambling applications, Colorado Proposition DD would restrict sports gambling to three licensed casinos: Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek. That being said, in time it is likely that these casinos would adapt to offer in-person and online betting options, potentially through sportsbook applications such as FanDuel.

Gambling with a Purpose

The initial conversation surrounding Colorado’s interests to legalize gambling mirrored the many other states who have been wrestling with the possibility since the U.S. Supreme Court decided to lift the prohibition of sports wagering in 2018. Concerns were raised about the proper rules and regulations that would be introduced if sports betting was legalized, as well as potential concerns for a rise in gambling addiction. In addition to these issues, residents and policymakers alike feared that the revenue generated from legalization would not do anything to serve the state’s economy or its residents. The early indication is that Proposition DD will address a number of these concerns, in hopes that residents will welcome these gaming changes with open arms.

The Aspen Times reported that the goal of Proposition DD is to help close the $3 billion state funding gap for the implementation of the Colorado Water Plan. The proposed 10% tax on sports gambling would have an annual cap of $29 million a year from casino sports-betting revenue. The largest percentage of the money from the 10% tax would go towards funding environmental programs. This includes programs like the Colorado River Compact (CRC), which is a program that benefits Colorado and its surrounding states by providing over 7 million acre-feet of water each year to Lake Powell. Lake Powell is a reservoir that crosses the border between Colorado, Arizona, and Utah, and the CRC includes contributions from other surrounding states as well. In order to meet the goal of providing such large quantities of water, the Colorado Water Plan aims to provide incentive for residents, farmers, and businesses to reduce water consumption.

A smaller percentage of the money taxed would go to gambling addiction services, while another portion would be directed to a “hold harmless fund,” which is a legal agreement that allows bettors to seek compensation if they can prove sports gambling damaged their financial well-being.

Managing Expectations

While the prospect of using the tax on sports gambling to cover the fund for this program is appealing, it can hardly cover the $3 billion gap in funding. Early projections suggest that if sports betting were legalized in May 2020 then it could be expected to generate roughly $10 million in its first year of legalization. In following years, it would be expected to plateau around $15 million. While this does not cover the large lack of funding for the Colorado Water Plan, it is refreshing to see that the state is using gambling in a way that could benefit the state and its residents.

Opposition to the proposed legalization argue that the burden of the Colorado Water Plan should not fall to those who are interested in betting on their favorite sports. Additionally, environmentalists have raised their concerns about the negative effects of future gaming expansion projects that could lead to pollution or the damaging of the existing natural areas within the state. Despite these concerns, it appears that Colorado residents have met Proposition DD with an open mind. Additionally, the benefits of Colorado’s Proposition DD could provide a model of responsible gaming laws for states that are still on the fence about the benefits of legalization. For now, residents will wait until November 5 to see the where the state’s sports betting plans are headed.

Pittsburgh Casino Unveils New Sportsbook Lounge

Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania unveiled its $5 million BetRivers Sportsbook on Monday afternoon, offering bettors an array of new amenities to enjoy while placing wagers on their favorite sports teams. Rivers officially began offering sports betting in December, but the temporary sportsbook paled in comparison to the state-of-the-art lounge that was unveiled on Monday. The new sportsbook allows bettors to place wagers on a variety of sports and was open just in time for patrons to place wagers on the Monday Night Football match-up between the hometown Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals, who were playing just a few blocks away at Heinz Field.

New Look Sportsbook

The new BetRivers Sportsbook covers 5,500 square feet, which is about twice the size of the sportsbook area that opened in December. The renovations for the new sportsbook lounge and surrounding areas, which was formerly home to Levels Lounge, cost roughly $5 million. The new area is home to 24 86-inch high-definition monitors, as well as two LED monitors that measure 7 feet tall and more than 50 feet wide. The screens are positioned to offer nearly 360 degrees of live sports action to bettors in the surrounding areas. The large monitors are designed to show at least four games at once, on a screen that is divided into quadrants. Surrounding the screens is seating for up to 195 guests.

Outside of the seating area, bettors have the option of placing their wagers at six sports writer windows or 27 self-service kiosks. Throughout the casino’s gaming floor, bettors will also find an additional six kiosks at which they can place their sports wagers. Alongside the unveiling of the sportsbook, Rivers also took the opportunity to unveil changes and upgrades to the surrounding areas, which give bettors a view of all the live sports action. Just outside of the sportsbook seating area is a new bar that seats up to 34 guests. Additionally, the upgraded 55-seat digital gaming section for blackjack, roulette, and baccarat, all with live dealers, are just within reach of the new sportsbook space. Although Monday was the official opening of the new lounge, it is expected that future changes could be in store for the BetRivers Sportsbook. Officials have mentioned a number of new additions that bettors could enjoy in the near future, such as food kiosks with servers and reservable booths.

New Opportunities

Rivers general Manager, Bill Keena, spoke with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the immediate impact he has seen from the new sportsbook lounge. Keena credited the sportsbook for bringing in a younger demographic that would otherwise be lost in the shuffle at Rivers casino. This demographic was a big part of the crowd during sportsbook’s soft opening this past Friday. Sports wagering brings in bettors from all age groups and has led to day to day increases for table games, slots, and food and beverage revenues, according to Keena.

The opening could not have come at a better time, as the Steelers hosted the Cincinnati Bengals with both teams in search of their first win of the season. On Monday afternoon, the Steelers were 3 ½-point favorites and 85 percent of the wagers placed were for the Steelers to cover the spread or win outright. The new BetRivers Sportsbook was packed later that evening, as the Steelers defeated the Bengals by a score of 27-3, to the delight of the majority of the bettors. Rivers casino will be pleased as well, as sports betting continues to grow in popularity with the help of its new sportsbook. Between the months of November and June just last year, Rivers brought in more than $58 million from in-person and online sports betting. The addition of the BetRivers Sportsbook hopes to build upon the already impressive revenues.

Indiana Sets Launch Date for Mobile Sports Betting App

On September 1st, sports betting became legal in the state of Indiana; now the state is announcing the official launch for mobile sports betting, which will go live October 3rd. Throughout the month of September, casinos in the state of Indiana have launched their own sportsbooks in order to take advantage of the sports betting industry that has been growing rapidly throughout the country. On Wednesday, the Indiana Gaming Commission authorized Rush Street Gaming to begin conducting mobile sports betting in early October.

Rush Street Gaming is a Chicago-based gaming company that is known for its partnership with the French Lick Casino. It’s application to launch its mobile sportsbook was accepted by the IGC, who notes that the mobile sportsbook meets state requirements. As the Indy Star reported, bettors who will be using the mobile option can expect to see the same types of sports bets that they have come to expect from any casino sportsbook. The mobile sportsbook will be available anywhere in the state, and individuals will not need to register at the French Lick Casino in order to download the app and begin placing their bets.

A Rapid Change for Sports Betting

Since its legalization at the beginning of September, sports betting in the state of Indiana has grown significantly. As of September 1st, three casinos were taking bets at their newly launched sportsbooks. By September 19th, the number of casinos accepting sports wagers had grown to 13. Two other casinos have been authorized to begin accepting sports wagers but have yet to announce an expected launch date for their sportsbooks. Indiana joins the growing list of states who have introduced mobile sports wagering since the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize it last year. Indiana’s Governor, Eric Holcomb, officially signed a bill this past May that brought sports betting to Indiana as of September 1st. Indiana will become the 17th state to launch mobile sports betting, joining Pennsylvania, Iowa, West Virginia, and others.

The announcement of the first mobile sportsbook in the state of Indiana could be an indication that residents can expect others to enter the playing field within the next few months. The IGC made no formal announcement about any additional mobile sportsbooks, but the Majestic Star Casino and Hotel has applied for a sports betting license and the owners have expressed their interest in offering an online sportsbook.

What to Expect

Rush Street Gaming’s app will operate similarly to those that have been running throughout the country. Users will create an account by providing personal information and a form of payment. The app will also use geofencing technology, which will ensure that bettors who are using the app are in fact located within the state of Indiana. The new mobile sportsbook is actually the third online sportsbook that will be operated by Rush Street Gaming, who already offers mobile sports betting in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Perhaps its most notable achievement was the launch of the first online casino,, which has grown in popularity over the past three years.

The October 3rd launch could be a large indicator of whether or not other gaming leaders will try their hand at mobile sports betting in Indiana. Gaming leaders like Caesars Entertainment and FanDuel already have a presence in the state’s gaming industry, so it is safe to assume that it is only a matter of time before they become involved. DraftKings, who recently was approved for an online betting application vendor license for the Ameristar Casino East Chicago, could also be eyeing a sports betting app for the state of Indiana. There has also been speculation about the England-based company, Smarkets, and their interest in launching an online sportsbook in the state. For now, bettors can look forward to the October 3rd launch of the Rush Street Gaming app.

Flyers Team up with SugarHouse Casino in New Deal

When mobile sports betting became a reality in the state of Pennsylvania in May of 2019, SugarHouse Casino led the charge in launching the first mobile sportsbook in the state. After the launch of the SugarHouse Sportsbook, many others followed, including Parx Sportsbook, Bet Rivers Sportsbook, and FanDuel Sportsbook. Now, SurgarHouse is hoping to pioneer a new era in sports betting, as they announce their partnership with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center.

The Wells Fargo Center is home to the Philadelphia Flyers, 76ers, and a variety of live concerts and events. The announcement of a multi-year deal makes SugarHouse Casino and the official sportsbook partner for the Flyers. This partnership could be the first of many, as sports betting continues to grow throughout the state since its legalization. The recent announcement coincides with a number of updates and renovations coming to the Wells Fargo Center, including an updated scoreboard that incorporates 4k video technology.

New Sports Lounges

In addition to the new scoreboard, the Wells Fargo Center will be making a number of changes to accommodate bettors and promote their partnership with SugarHouse. The Wells Fargo Center is adding two sports lounges in the arena for fans to cheer on the Flyers and many of their other favorite sports. The new areas will offer nearly 100 screens throughout the lounges, where fans can enjoy sports betting through their mobile devices.

The sports lounges are modeled after the sportsbook lounges located at the brick-and-mortar SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia. The lounge located on the Main Concourse at the south end of the arena will be home to 10 86” inch screens, in an area that covers approximately 5,680 square feet. There will be an additional 16 65” screens located behind the bar, including odds boards and SugarHouse ambassadors, who will assist guests in registering for the online sportsbook. The second lounge, located at the arena’s top level, faces the center of the arena, so guests can enjoy the game in real time. The upper lounge covers an area of nearly 6,500 square feet, and includes a number of food and drink vendors, bar and table seating, and a custom video wall. In addition to the 22×8 foot video wall, the lounge at the top level will have many smaller screens for fans to watch the action on TV.

Opportunities for Growth

The agreement presents a number of opportunities for both parties. For SugarHouse, they receive exposure for their sportsbook and online betting services, as well as a marketing partnership that includes advertising throughout the arena. Additionally, SugarHouse will receive advertising through a number of other mediums, such as radio, billboard, and digital. On the other hand, the Wells Fargo Center is getting a helping hand on a project that has been labeled “Transformation 2020.” The remodel comes with a price tag of $265 million and includes the previously mentioned scoreboard, a VIP club, and the redesign and introduction of the sportsbook-style lounges. The scoreboard was raised this week during a media event, while the lounges are set to make their debut for the Philadelphia Flyers opener on October 9th.

The Flyers aren’t the only team cashing in on the opportunity to partner with local sportsbooks; Philadelphia’s MLS team, the Union, announced their partnership with Parx Casino last month. Like SugarHouse, Parx was quick to introduce their mobile sportsbook to the state of Pennsylvania, and now both casinos have looked to further their success by partnering with their hometown teams. Parx is now responsible for presenting the halftime show for each Philadelphia Union game, and sends a team of representatives to every home match to show fans how to download the Parx app to begin placing wagers.

As sports betting continues to grow throughout the United States, more and more professional sports teams may be looking to partner with local casinos. Gambling has become inseparable from sports since its legalization, and it appears that it is an industry that can be mutually beneficial for teams and casinos alike.