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Houston Astros’ Fan Makes a Texas-Sized Bet on The 2019 World Series

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They say that everything is bigger in Texas. Well one big-time Houston Astros’ fan is banking heavily on his team. As reported by The Sun Herald, Jim McIngvale just placed a historic sports bet in a Mississippi casino.

Texas businessman “Mattress Mack”, Bets $3.5 Million At Mississippi Casino

Known as “Mattress Mack”, the Texas businessman bet $3.5 million that Houston will win this year’s MLB World Series. This is the biggest single bet in Mississippi since sports betting first became legal. The bet was placed in the sportsbook of the Scarlet Pearl Casino in D’Iberville. He walked in and opened a silver case containing the $3.5 million in cash.

The casino’s sportsbook is operated by DraftKings. LuAnn Pappas is the CEO of Scarlet Pearl and her comment was: “It’s the biggest bet in the state of Mississippi. It’s a record since sports betting went live in the state Aug. 1, 2018.”

Mattress Mack was dressed in his bright orange No. 2 Astros jersey. He was also donning a white Astros hat noting the fact they were AL West Division Champions this season. He went on to thank both the Scarlet Pearl and Draft Kings for booking the bet.

He previously made it known that he wanted to bet this amount on his favorite team. He added that, “and no other gaming company sportsbook in the world has come forward to take the wager.”

Scarlet Pearl’s Sportsbook Is Draftkings

The sportsbook at the Scarlet Pearl was the first DraftKings retail venture in the US sports betting market. Both DraftKings and the Scarlet Pearl will cover the $3.5 million bet. Casino owners, Bob and Delores Granier were present when the bet was placed. So was Matt Kalish as the co-founder and COO of DraftKings.

Mr. McIngvale has a chance to more than double his bet to win $7.7 million if Houston wins it all. The total payout by the casino would be $11.2 million counting the original wager. DraftKings had posted betting odds of +200 for the Astros as the favorites to win the MLB title.

Betting On Houston To Win The World Series

The sportsbook posted the following blurb on betting Houston to win it all this season: “When you roll out a starting pitching staff that includes Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke, you’re in pretty decent shape. Add in an offense that leads the league in WAR, and you’d be foolish to bet against them.”

The 68-year old Texas businessman is anything but foolish. He has built a thriving network of Gallery Furniture stores in the Houston area. He has also gained a reputation for staging a few outlandish promotions over the years. His quote on the bet added: “All of us in Houston believe in the Astros. If the Astros win a lot of customers will get free mattresses.”

A current promotion tied to the bet is refunds of more than $3,000 on recent mattress purchases. A report on this offer originally was posted in the Houston Chronicle. The last time Houston won the World Series was just two years ago in 2017. McIngvale mentioned that the same mattress promotion cost him close to $10 million. He is expecting that figure to climb based on sales if Houston wins again.

• Source: Mississippi Coast casino is taking a $3.5 million bet on World Series from ‘Mattress Mack’ From On October 1, 2019.

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IGT Expands Its US Sports Betting Presence to Arkansas

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Legal sports betting in the US market is growing at a rapid pace. This is less than a year and a half after the US Supreme Court’s landmark decision. Last May, the highest court gave individual states to right to govern sports betting. International Gaming Technology (IGT) has already expanded its sports betting solutions to 10 different markets.

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Sports Betting Comes To Arkansas?

The latest IGT expansion was in the state of Arkansas. Its IGT PlaySports deployment was at Saracen Casino Annex in Pine Bluff. The company made the announcement on its website.

This land-based casino is owned and operated by the Quapaw Nation. It is located adjacent to the Tribe’s in-development, Saracen Casino Resort. All the sports bets are processed through the PlaySports platform. The venue currently offers PlaySports’ kiosks. Further expansion efforts include IGT sports betting technology at the Saracen Casino Resort. This venue is expected to open sometime next year.

The growing list of US states with gambling operations utilizing IGT sports betting technology in the east include:

  1. New Jersey
  2. New York
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Rhode Island
  5. West Virginia

Along with the recent expansion into Arkansas, IGT has an existing sports betting presence in Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi and Nevada.

Enrico Drago is the IGT PlayDigital Senior Vice President. In response of this latest venture, he was quoted as saying:

IGT Is Making Sports Gambling A Reality In The United States?

“The market-readiness of the IGT PlaySports solution and the experience of our team enabled IGT to make sports betting a reality at the Saracen Casino Annex on an accelerated timeline. Adding Arkansas to the growing list of states with IGT PlaySports deployment was another important milestone that validates IGT’s leadership as a B2B platform provider. We look forward to expanding our relationship with the Quapaw Nation when the Saracen Resort opens next year.”

Positioned as a global leader in gaming, IGT has a strong presence all around the world. The company operates in every major channel from gaming machines, lottery applications and both digital and social gaming. Along with a wealth of premium content, expert gaming services round out the company’s portfolio.

IGT has made substantial investments in “in-depth customer intelligence, operational expertise and leading-edge technology”. Also included in its company profile is a long-standing commitment to innovation. This could be considered the driving force behind the company’s mission.

Gaming solutions are designed to “anticipate the demands of consumers wherever they decide to play”. Over the years, IGT has expanded its reach to more than 100 different countries. The company currently employs more than 12,000 people.

PlayShot is IGT’s primary application for sports betting. Its PlayDigital services and products include applications for lottery through PlayLottery.

Gaming products and services include:

  1. Games
  2. Systems
  3. Services
  4. Cabinets

Customer support is another major aspect of IGT’s business offerings. It offers the IGT University for gaming industry education. A few of its supportive programs are SAS Protocol, STARS Customer and STARS Report Guides.

IGT is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the trading symbol, “IGT.” The holding company headquarters are in the United Kingdom.

• Source: IGT Extends Sports Betting Footprint to Arkansas with PlaySports Deployment at Saracen Casino Annex From On October 2, 2019.


BtoBet Enters a Cross-Channel Partnership in Nigeria

BtoBet Enters a Cross-Channel Partnership in Nigeria

The online gaming industry continues to expand on a global basis. More and more regulated gambling markets are dotting the landscape to drive this trend. This has led to numerous partnerships between various facets of the gaming industry. Collaborations, partnerships and working agreements at every level are commonplace these days.

Learn About The Types Of Platform BTOBET Offers

BtoBet offers gaming platforms, games services and sports services as part of its product portfolio. The company provides numerous gaming solutions in the European, Latin America and African gaming market. A recent announcement on the company website, detail a new strategic partnership in the Nigerian gaming market.

Through STM Gaming as its Certified Partner for Africa, BtoBet will partner with Nigerian operator RedsonBet. This is a cross-channel endeavor designed to expand the retail network. RedsonBet will also use BtoBet’s technology to power its online and mobile channels. As part of the plan, the number of retail shops is expected to climb to 100 in the coming weeks.

The main focus behind RedsonBet’s efforts is an enhanced user experience.

It will be able to deliver a diverse portfolio of offerings that includes:

  1. Local and International Sports Betting
  2. Live Sporting Events
  3. Online and Live Casino
  4. Progressive Jackpots
  5. Added Special Bets and Virtuals

Alessandro Pizzolotto is the CEO of STM Gaming. His thoughts on this cross-channel partnership were:

“Undoubtedly the WLP Program has proved to be a perfect solution for Africa. Not only does it bring a simplified approach for licensees to enter the local iGaming industry, but the provision of advanced technology tailored to the local technological requirements. And the operational support that we provide to our partners are key elements to this success.”

About Their White Label Partnership Program

Adding her thoughts as BtoBet’s Chief Marketing Officer in reference to the White Label Partnership Program in Africa, Sabrina Solda stated:

“When we embarked on the WLP Program we had in mind coupling localization with deep local knowledge. You can never truly understand the dynamics of the local industries if you are not physically present in the region. This has been the Program’s major strength. With us not being only considered as just technological providers, but a source of information and knowledge. That is a great asset particularly in a market based on a set of unique circumstances from an infrastructural and regulatory aspect.”

She also added that through this approach her company and BtoBet’s Certified Partners are simplifying the process. This also helps to simplify any problematics with that process. It will be able to provide operators with not only adaptable technology, but industry expertise. This is vital to this partnership’s mutual success.

BtoBet’s primary role in this arrangement is as a White Label Certified Partner. STM Gaming acts as the company’s lead in the Nigerian market and RedsonBet is driving the retail applications.

These are the types of strategic partnerships that have driven BtoBet’s past success as a gaming solutions provider. This company can also be described as a true pioneer in the sports betting and online casino industry. Along with technology solutions, it also provides management services to its partners.


NBA’s New Starting Lineup Rule Has The Sports Betting Industry in Mind

Sports Betting Industry NBA starting lineup

There is no doubt that the atmosphere has changed since the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which effectively opened things up for the legalization of sports betting in any state that wanted to do it.

What it also did was sanitize the sports betting industry and culture for the existing sports leagues. We have seen the effect of this, as they have been seeking partnerships with casino and/or sports gambling interests.

But what’s interesting is that the National Basketball Association (NBA) was ahead of the others, as the commissioner, Adam Silver, not only acknowledged that the business existed, and was a viable source of fan interest, but that his league should somehow figure out a way to integrate itself with gambling.

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See How NBA’s New Starting Lineup Rule Has Gamblers in Mind

It is so overt now that owners like Ted Leonsis of the Washington Wizards are ready to host a sportsbook at his own venue (the Capital One Arena).

So we don’t think it’s any coincidence that Silver might tweak his league’s rules to accommodate those fans who may also be placing a friendly wager or two.

At the forefront of most of it is the desire to make things more transparent, so that it didn’t appear as if any information was being hidden from the viewer.

So he has announced that all teams would be required to publicly reveal their starting lineups a full 30 minutes before tip-off.

New Rules

There was indeed an existing rule that required such information to be public ten minutes before the start of the game. But the extra twenty minutes is by no means an insignificant thing.

You see, there have been instances where coaches pulled something of a “surprise” when it came to their decision to rest starters, or play people who were questionable because of an injury situation. Without the gambling angle involved, that wouldn’t mean very much at all. But when information is concealed from the general public, it is often available to just a few, and that leaves open the possibility that some could unfairly avail themselves of a betting opportunity.

That doesn’t necessarily signal corruption, but it could conceivably give the appearance of something rather sordid. And if you are forward-looking, you can see that a lot of the interest in a particular game might come from those betting on it, you know that you don’t want to add any unnecessary stigma to your brand. So it is better to have things as “out in the open” as possible.

And it is the right thing to do.

When someone who has the information acts on it, and it disadvantages someone else who doesn’t, it is, to use a term that may corny here, unfair. And advocates of the sports betting industry do pride themselves on presenting as much of a “level playing field” as possible. And what’s worse for the industry is that a sportsbook itself could get caught with its pants down by not being able to move lines in time to counter those who are aware of info that breaks too late, and that just doesn’t do anything positive for the integrity of the product.

So you’re hopefully not going to see any more situations like what Gregg Popovich or Steve Kerr have done, which is to decide at the last minute that some superstar was not going to play.

Of course, there is an allowance for those instances where a player who is injured and is a “game-time decision” might be unavailable because of something that was determined during pre-game warmups.

But you can bet (pardon the pun) that the league will be keeping a close eye on that kind of thing.


Elizabeth Warren Holds the Betting Edge for Democrats

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Ahead of another round of debates for the top Democratic candidates for president, Elizabeth Warren is the betting favorite. The updated political betting odds at Bovada have her listed at +200 odds to win her party’s nomination. A strong performance in the next debate could widen her thin lead.

Elizabeth Warren Holds the Betting Edge Over Joe Biden?

Joe Biden had been the party’s frontrunner all summer long, but he as slipped a bit to +250. Two weeks ago on the board at Bovada, Warren was a +220 favorite with Biden a very close second at +240. Both of these candidates continue to widen their edge against the rest of the field.

Bernie Sanders is still a factor in the race as a +550 third-favorite to win. His odds have gone up and down over the past several months. His recent campaign efforts have moved the dial a bit. Two weeks ago, his odds to win were +600 behind Kamala Harris at +550. The two candidates have switched places on the board. Harris is set as the +600 fourth-favorite this time around.

The best of the rest is led by Andrew Yang and Pete Buttigieg at +1000 betting odds to round out the Top 5. Interestingly enough, Hillary Clinton is next at +2000 even though she is technically not in the race. Maybe she has a few more tricks up her sleeve this time around. A few of the other interesting names on the list include Michelle Obama (+5000) and Oprah Winfrey (+10000).

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When it comes to the updated odds to actually win the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump remains in the lead. Two weeks ago his odds to win re-election were listed at +110 and they remain the same on the updated board. Warren (+450) now has the slight edge over Biden (+500) for the next spot on the list. The two were in a dead heat a few weeks back at identical +500 odds. Learn where you can bet the 2020 Presidential election over here.

Sanders is a +900 fourth-favorite to win the 2020 general election followed by Harris (+1600), Yang (+1800) and Buttigieg (+2500). Clinton’s betting odds to win the presidency in the next election stand at +4000 along with Tulsi Gabbard.

Mike Pence And Mitt Romney

Vice president Mike Pence is on the board at +6000 and Mitt Romney has long +20000 odds as two Republicans on the betting board. Winfrey’s odds for this political betting prop are also set at +20000.

The two longshots on the board are George Clooney and Kanye West at +90000 odds. Two weeks ago, both of these celebrities were bringing up the rear at even higher +100000 odds.

There is also a betting prop for which party will win the White House following the 2020 presidential election. The Democrats had the edge at the end of August as -125 favorites. The Republicans were set as -105 underdogs. The pendulum has swung the other way in early September with each party set at -115 odds to win.

The next Democratic debate is set for this Thursday, Sept. 12. The top 10 candidates will participate and this should have an interesting impact on the betting odds moving forward.


Murdoch Enters U.S. Sports Betting Market with FOX Bet

Fox Bet Sports Betting

A media giant hopes to capitalize on the proliferation of sports betting in America, in the wake of the Supreme Court reversal of a federal law. After the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was overturned, the race was on for states to legislate sports betting into existence. Since then, there have been new locations popping up everywhere, and the online and mobile angle has been added to make it even more convenient for customers.

is Murdoch Really Entering The U.S. Sports Betting Market with FOX Bet?

Mainstream media, which for the most part has avoided the sports betting discussion or handled it badly because of lack of expertise, is now diving in, as they seek to attract the attention of the casual bettor. And now Fox Corp has taken the boldest move yet.
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The Rupert Murdoch-owned organization, which is a rights-holder for NFL games, is launching FOX Bet, which will enable customers to place wagers through a phone app, while providing content as well. It represents a very comprehensive push to exploit the Fox brand to cash in on an activity that had heretofore been “taboo” to the major sports league. Morality matters less when there is money to be made, one supposes.

The Stars Group

Actually, in this venture Murdoch’s company is less involved in the actual bookmaking business than it is in the business of lending its “brand” name to an enterprise that can appeal to a new and growing market. They have enlisted a company called The Stars Group (TSG) as a tech/gaming partner. They do own about 5% of TSG on the basis of a $236 million investment. And so this raises the question of whether if there are problems with the service – in terms of customers getting paid in a timely fashion, for example – how much could that conceivably damage the Fox brand?

While Fox may be entering a whole new sphere, Murdoch has initiated a couple of ventures like this overseas. When he had Sky TV, he developed Sky Bet, which took advantage of his media presence. And it was successful (Comcast now owns Sky). But Sun Bets, which was established in association with his newspaper, The Sun, along with Australia-based Tabcorp Holdings, didn’t work out so well, and was closed down last year.

For Casual Sports Bettors?

The real value in this for Fox may not be so much in making a killing off the casual sports bettor, but instead in being able to engage fans and keep them involved. They will, in fact, be utilizing some of their on-air personalities, like Colin Cowherd and Nick Wright, for their insights in the way of “Bet Boosts,” and there will be basic videos explaining the various wagers. It is an approach specifically aimed at the recreational bettor. And Fox Sports, on a separate basis, will be offering a game with sports wagering as its basis, that will be free for the public to play.

FOX Bet has already launched on the Apple IOS and Android platform for customers in the state of New Jersey, and is currently in the midst of a “soft launch” for residents of Pennsylvania, which also permits online and mobile sports betting.

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Company Involved in D.C. Sports Betting Deal Has No Employees

Washington DC Sports Betting Contract

The saga of the sports betting contract in the District of Columbia is like the gift that keeps on giving. And it may come to an unfortunate end for somebody. Currently, there are two members of the D.C. Council – Robert C. White Jr. and Elissa Silverman – who are asking that the government conduct an investigation of a company that alleges that it is a local enterprise, and as such, helps to meet the requirements for getting a government contract, but may not be much of an enterprise at all.
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Saga Of The Washington DC Sports Betting Contract

This all stems from a report in the Washington Post in which it was revealed that Veteran Services Corp., which was used by Intralot, the company that was awarded the $215 contract, as its local representative, in effect. This deal came without a bid, which looked dubious to begin with, and now it has been discovered that this company doesn’t have any employees, and some of the executives that it has listed on its website don’t even work for them.

It’s a somewhat complicated story, but the gist of it is that Intralot submitted documents that stated Veterans Services was going to, in its own words, “perform the ENTIRE subcontract with its own organization and resources.”

However, back in 2009, when Intralot was pursuing the D.C. Lottery contract, Veterans Services had been vetted by city inspectors for its eligibility as a “local business,” they found that the company was owned by a 75-year-old woman named Barbara Bailey, whose son Emmanuel Bailey actually operated the company but was a Maryland resident. They found that Veterans Services operated out of Mrs. Bailey’s home, with two desks and a computer. And although the inspectors came to the conclusion that it did not qualify as a local business, they were overruled. Emmanuel Bailey, it was revealed, had contributed in excess of $30,000 to D.C. candidates for office, so perhaps some influence had been pedaled.

D.C Lottery And Intralot

Problems arose from the corporate structure that existed when Intralot began operating the D.C. Lottery, because it did so through a subsidiary called DC09. Veteran Services owned 51% of DC09, but Barbara Bailey’s 51% of Veteran Services did not, of course, translate to that same percentage in DC09. Yet, Intralot controlled and financed DC09, so as a result, the Greek-based company was performing all tasks necessary to carry the lottery off, when much of that was supposed to involve local interests.

In 2013, when Veterans Services applied for certification as a local business, it had no employees for the previous three years, according to D.C.’s Department of Small and Local Business Development. There were again no employees or wage reports two years later. Certain parties who have been listed as “vice presidents” had no idea that information even appeared on the company website.

Three years ago, Intralot was bidding for the Maryland lottery, in conjunction with Veterans Services. And they listed a Maryland address. But when Veterans Services was evaluated by officials, the conclusion was that they had “no capital, very limited business or industry experience,” and that they could not really explain what role they would actually play in the lottery operation. Even Emmanuel Bailey himself expressed that his company did not have any financial resources to carry out its contractual responsibilities.

So these are the people who will be accepting wagers from the public in the name of D.C. sports betting. Perhaps pending an investigation, which might be long overdue.

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Ditka Helps Indiana Officially Launch Sports Betting

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Legal sports betting began in Indiana on September 1, at the Ameristar Casino in East Chicago, just in time for the NFL regular season to begin. There are other venues who are following suit. And the race is most certainly on for customers.

How Does Mike Ditka Help Indiana Officially Launch Sports Betting?

We say that because neighboring Illinois has been a little slow to the table, not with its approval of sports betting, but rather its establishment of a set of rules and regulations by which the activity will be conducted. And it might be a few months before they are able to get that done. As such, they are going to fall behind, as locations such as the Ameristar, the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond and the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, are just a stone’s throw away from the major population center of Chicago.

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And they are trotting out the local legends. Mike Ditka, the Hall of Fame player for the Bears who was also the head coach the last time Chicago won the Super Bowl, and Devin Hester, who returned a kickoff for a touchdown the last time the Bears appeared in the Super Bowl, were special guests at the grand opening of the Ameristar-East Chicago sportsbook, which at the moment consists of five sports betting windows and a number of free-standing wagering kiosks.

Most of the customers who were interviewed by reporters expressed that they enjoyed the convenience factor; that Las Vegas may be a difficult place to get to, but if they can drive just a short distance to find a location where they can out down a casual wager and sit and watch the game, that was a real attraction.

Betting On Mobile Devices

There is yet another leap beyond this, of course. It will be only a matter of time until these same Indiana gaming establishments have the ability to enable their patrons to place their bets on a mobile device, thus increasing the level of convenience, and when that happens, there is the potential for a genuine explosion in popularity. The process the casinos will go through is to affect a partnership with companies who specialize in online betting.

The governor even got in on the act.

Republican Eric Holcomb, who signed the sports betting bill into law a little more than three months ago, was politically correct as he strode up to the window at the Indiana Grand Casino in Shelbyville and placed $10 wagers on the Indianapolis Colts (to win the Super Bowl), Indiana Pacers (to win the NBA title) and Indiana Fever (to win that night’s WNBA game), with a pledge to donate any winnings to the Indiana Canine Action Network.

Indiana is now the 13th state that has approved sports betting – the result of last year’s Supreme Court ruling to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which had prohibited sports wagering in states that had not already “grandfathered” it in.

And those gaming establishments in Northwest Indiana now have the ability to leverage those offerings they now have at their disposal against casinos in Illinois that will be looking for their piece of the action.


The Sports Betting “Scorecard”: Almost Everybody’s In

Sports Betting scorecard

It was only last year that the Supreme Court acted to overturn a federal law that prohibited any form of sports betting unless it had already been legislated into existence (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, also known as PASPA). And once they got the go-ahead to act on a state-by-state basis, the states sprung into action. When considering the red tape that often engulfs the legislative process, they have acted with lightning speed.

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Which Seven States Don’t Allow Legal Sports Betting?

Currently there are only seven states in the country in which there not only is no legal sports betting, but no proposed legislation – Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are six of them, and Nebraska is about to go the other way on that, because of the concern about business being lost to Iowa across the river.

The Location of The Casino Or Pari-Mutuel Establishment

The availability is on three different levels. First there is the actual physical location of the casino or pari-mutuel establishment that holds the license. Then there is the online access (via a website, for instance). There is also the increasingly popular platform of the mobile device. For the latter two, geo-tracking is in effect to ensure that the customer is situated inside the state that has authorized the activity.

While analysts ponder whether there is going to a saturation of the market, or perhaps more accurately, when the saturation will occur, it is important to note where the big gains are happening. And from that standpoint, it is clear that New Jersey has been the big winner. It may have been just a few years ago that the Boardwalk appeared to be taking on the appearance of a ghost town, but internet wagering, and now sports betting, have reversed those fortunes, to the point where the Garden State exceeds everyone in post-PASPA revenues of this kind.

Nevada, Oregon and Montana?

That is a notable accomplishment, considering that not far behind them is the neighboring state of Pennsylvania, which has a lot of room to grow its audience. Delaware, which is located close to both states, was one of the states (along with Nevada, Oregon and Montana) that was granted an exemption from the 1992 federal law, because they already had legalized sports betting in one form or another (in the case of Delaware, Oregon and Montana it was because of their legalized sports lottery).

One of the states that would seem to have the most potential is Florida since its greatest population centers aren’t faced with as much in the way of competition from neighboring states. So far no one has budged, but it is likely that the powerful Seminole tribe, which owns and operates the Hard Rock casinos, will force that issue sooner or later.

It’s actually hard to keep track of which states have sports betting implemented, because there are more opening their doors all the time, although Indiana was reportedly the 13th state to do so when its casinos started accepting wagers on September 1.

The American Gaming Association

According to figures produced by the American Gaming Association (AGA), the “handle” on legalized sports betting passed $10 billion in the month of July. And even though that figure represents just 7% of the illegal sports betting in the country, as per the estimates, that figure is liable to change in a hurry.

What is really going to propel the revenues on the part of the states is what happens outside of the physical sportsbooks. And no doubt they are looking at the example of New Jersey, where 85% of the money wagered is done outside of a brick-and-mortar location.

And if you follow sportsbook action at all, you know that there are ever-increasing ways to bet and stay involved in the action. One of the greatest innovations in the industry has been that of “in-game betting,” where the customer can continue to place bets even after the game kicks off, doing so through rather intricate software operating through an algorithm that calculates odds very quickly. You can imagine where this would apply, as patrons watch the games and can keep following along through bets on the contest that is in progress.

So the future is wide-open, although obviously, that looming possibility of saturation comes into play, as far as the commercial establishments are concerned. Will there be enough players in the end for everybody to be happy?

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More Conflict of Interest Reported in D.C. Sports Betting Deal

More Conflict of Interest in D.C. Sports Betting Deal

As if the story behind the no-bid contract for sports betting in the District of Columbia wasn’t bizarre enough, now we have what appears to be a case of nepotism that was connected to the vote that made Intralot the sole vendor. And some say, with a certain degree of sarcasm, that it is almost refreshing that the new development does not concern beleaguered D.C. Council member Jack Evans.

Why Is There More Conflict of Interest In The D.C. Sports Betting Deal?

The Washington Post has reported that the council member who cast the deciding vote on the matter – Kenyan McDuffie, who oddly enough had expressed skepticism about the unusual arrangement, which was closed to competitive bidding – is the cousin of the man who has been identified as a beneficiary of the sports gambling contract, to the tune of $3 million over a five-year period.

Keith McDuffie is a partner in a company called J.L. Terrell Construction, but that is not what is at issue. The problem is that, listed at the same address, is another entity, known as “Potomac Supply Company,” which, as an adjunct to the sports betting deal, will get the $3 million to provide commercial paper products in the role of a subcontractor.

Keith McDuffie listed as Potomac’s chief executive officer and principal contact

And when asked to submit detailed information about their vendors to the Council, Intralot had Keith McDuffie listed as Potomac’s chief executive officer and principal contact.

And where did Intralot get that kind of information? Well, from McDuffie himself.

Yes, this much is true, according to the Post’s report. Keith had made this communication, as per the request, directly to Emmanuel Bailey, an executive with the Greek-based Intralot who is the company’s main contact in the D.C. area with regard to the contract.

The official filing with the city lists one Okera Stewart as the owner of Potomac Supply. And while he admits that Keith McDuffie is “a childhood friend,” he insists that he has no financial interest in the company.

However, Keith sent the information about Potomac from his own email account. And Stewart’s explanation about that is flimsy at best, as he was having “technical problems” with his own email account. It is perhaps strange that in earlier versions of the Intralot proposal that came before the Council, during a period when Kenyan McDuffie was not a proponent of it, there was no mention of his cousin or Potomac Supply. But he shifted gears later.

Kenyan McDuffie has defended his vote on the council on the basis that the contract with Intralot is good for the city. But it is, in fact, the competitive bidding process that ideally ensures that residents of the district will get the best deal possible.

And it is important to note, as his cousin Keith and Okera Stewart were scrambling around for answers, that this issue of the possible conflict of interest wasn’t even addressed until the Post uncovered these documents.

Jack Evans, the most vocal champion of the no-bid contract with Intralot, was stripped of his position as chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue for the Council and is under investigation by both the Council and the Department of Justice. He is embroiled in conflicts of interest about Intralot because it turns out that Intralot’s lobbyist in Washington, William Jarvis, is the registered agent for Evans’ private consulting firm, and has also given legal advice on its contracts.

There is a Campaign Finance Reform Act, which will ban on political donations from companies looking for large government contracts. But that does not go into effect until November 2020, so it has no impact on what is going on here.

This quote, from the Editorial Board of the Washington Post, sums things up pretty well:

“D.C. has established a procurement system that is steeped in politics and parochialism, with the checkered history to show for it. The shock would come from an absence of questionable practices and preferential treatment.”