Why Pennsylvania Should Follow Nevada’s Lead and Regulate FanDuel and DraftKings

fanduel-draftkingsNevada is rarely a pillar of morality or model lawmaking.

However, the state’s decision last week to shut down daily fantasy sports operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel until they obtain gaming licenses is a path Pennsylvania should emulate.

By classifying daily fantasy sports as gambling — because that’s what it really is — rather than a game of skill, Nevada determined that a proper license from the Gaming Control Board is necessary to do business in the state. Nevada is now the sixth state to outlaw or limit daily fantasy sports — and there are plenty of others seeking to regulate or ban the increasingly popular contests. Currently, New York, Delaware, Illinois, and even the U.S. Congress are investigating the legality of daily fantasy sports. Read more »

These 2 Bills Would Allow Sports Gambling, Airport Slots in Pa.

Slot machine with basketball and planes

Original photo by Garry Knight used under a Creative Commons license.

A Pennsylvania lawmaker is in a mood to expand legalized gambling. Not only does he want to make it legal for you to gamble on sports, he wants airports to be allowed to install slot machines in boarding areas.

Those are the two bills pushed by State Rep. Nick Kotik, a Democrat in Allegheny County. Kotik is the Democratic chair of the gambling oversight committee. Yesterday he introduced HB1606, a bill that would legalize sports gambling in the state.

Under federal law, sports betting is illegal in all but four states: Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana. Only Nevada offers betting on individual games. The only option in Delaware is technically a “sports lottery” and offers parlay cards. But New Jersey passed a bill legalizing sports gambling in 2012 and is challenging federal law in court; today the 3rd circuit vacated its previous ruling against the state and the full third circuit will re-hear the case in a few months. Read more »

Shaq Invented a New Form of Blackjack and He’s Debuting It at Parx


Photo via PRNewsFoto/Parx Casino

Shaquille O’Neal is a man of many talents. Basketball, acting, rapping, trying to build apartments in Atlantic City, tweeting, et cetera.

And now, perhaps, he’s made his greatest accomplishment: Shaquille O’Neal and Dynamic Gaming Systems have invented a new form of blackjack. It’s officially called ShaqBLACKJack, but most of the logos seem to make you want to call it Shaq Jack.

According to a release, Dynamic Gaming Systems and O’Neal literally spent four years developing this game. One pictures O’Neal in his basement, furiously flipping through a deck of cards and coding different games on a UNIX machine. Read more »

Stockton: Icahn Wanted 1,331 Hotel Rooms to Waive Casino Pact

Showboat Casino

Showboat Casino on September 1st, 2014, the day after it closed. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

Yesterday, an independent report commissioned by Stockton University about the school’s disastrous purchase of the former Showboat casino was released. The report blamed many, but mostly former Stockton president Herman Saatkamp, who was forced to resign in the wake of the sale.

Stockton bought the former Showboat casino from Caesars last year for use as a branch campus. But Trump Entertainment Resorts, which owns the nearby Trump Taj Mahal, said it would enforce a 1988 pact that said the Showboat could only be used as a casino. (There is also a deed restriction on the property that says it can’t be used as a casino; this will probably be hashed out in court now that the property will reportedly be sold to Bart Blatstein.)

The company said the reason for enforcing the deed restriction was because the college would attract underage gamblers who would attempt to gamble at the Taj. “[W]e believe that having a college located next door to the Taj will hurt our business and create numerous problems for us going forward,” Trump Entertainment Resorts said in a statement in March. “The scenario of young college students residing full time in a dormitory a few steps away from the Taj is entirely different from allowing families to dine in our restaurants.”

The report, however, says Trump Entertainment (which no longer has a connection with the GOP frontrunner other than the name) was willing to waive the deed restrictions — if Stockton would give them all its hotel rooms each summer. Read more »

Insider: African-American Leadership Is Rolling Over for Casino Deal


[Update: Wednesday, Sept. 23, 3 p.m.] After publication of this op-ed, Philly mag learned that the author performed public relations work for the National Action Network, an organization that is a central player in this controversy. That fact should have been disclosed to readers. Citified regrets the omission.


(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from a Citified insider. McCalla is a policy consultant who has provided pro bono advice to mayoral candidate Anthony H. Williams and other candidates this election cycle.) 

To quote the lyrics of famed Rapper Flo Rida, “It’s goin’ down fo’ real”!

At the August 18th meeting of the City Planning Commission, fat-cat executives and exquisitely dressed lobbyists from the Cordish Companies presented their preliminary plans for Live! Hotel & Casino, to be located in the South Philly Sports Complex.

It was there and then that Paula Peebles, local founder and chair of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, informed commissioners that her organization was aware of and concerned by unresolved lawsuits alleging racial discrimination at casinos Cordish operates (eight have been filed since 2010, in which plaintiffs say, for instance, the company used dress codes as pretense to keep black patrons out). Peebles warned that NAN would conduct its own probe and, if the group found the allegations credible, she would lead it in a battle to oppose commission and City Council approval of the gambling house.

This put NAN nose to nose with the politically potent Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity. Read more »

WATCH: Documentary Examines Lives of Unemployed AC Casino Workers

2014 was a brutal year in Atlantic City : 8,000  jobs were lost in 2014 after the closure of four of the city’s 12 struggling casinos.

Now the  Media Mobilizing Project has released a documentary , Building a Sandcastle: A Broken Promise to Atlantic City, that tracks the lives of unemployed casino workers from the many high-profile closures that occurred in 2014.

“The casinos industry in this area, and our union, is like the lifeblood of the communities around here,” said Alfred Kare sadly, a server at the Trump Taj Mahal. Read more »

Boutique Casinos Closer to Reality in Atlantic City

Atlantic City at dusk, November 2014

Photo | Dan McQuade

It was more than four years ago that Chris Christie signed legislation approving new boutique casinos in Atlantic City. Despite interest from a few groups and one submitted proposal, no boutique casinos ever opened. Then, four large casinos closed in 2014.

But the interest in boutique casinos remains, and this week an assembly panel advanced a bill that would ease some of the requirements for smaller casinos.

The old bill required one of two boutique casinos to eventually expand to a casino with 500 rooms, and mandated both boutique casinos in the pilot program be new construction. The new bill would eliminate both requirements; the new casinos would still need to have at least 200 rooms to also operate gambling. Read more »

Jersey Man Arrested After Peeing on Casino Slots




A New Jersey man was arrested Friday after he peed in the coin tray of a slot machine at a Pennsylvania casino.

William Compton, a 53-year-old man from Manalapan, New Jersey, reportedly was taken into custody after he refused to leave Parx Casino, and additionally charged resisting arrest by Pennsylvania State Police. Read more »

Will More Atlantic City Casinos Close?

Resorts - Trump Taj

Resorts and the Trump Taj Mahal were the only two Atlantic City casinos that posted operating losses for the first quarter of 2015. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

Atlantic City’s casinos recently reported a bit of good news: Gross casino operating profits more than doubled in the first quarter. The eight remaining casinos made $81.3 million — compared with $38.8 million in 2014.

Obviously, these numbers are skewed: In the first quarter of 2014, casinos had deep losses from Revel dragging down these numbers. But now that Revel and other struggling casinos (and the still-profitable Showboat) have closed, the situation has leveled out. Winter is not the easiest time for a resort town to turn a profit, and all but Resorts and the Trump Taj made money.

But obviously the news can’t be all good for AC’s casino industry. Speaking at the East Coast Gambling Conference on Wednesday, a Wall Street analyst said more casino closures were likely. Read more »

5 Charts That Show Just How Screwed Atlantic City Is

Atlantic City winter beach

Atlantic City in February 2015 (Photo | Dan McQuade)

On Tuesday, Atlantic City’s Chris Christie-appointed emergency management team released its first report. The results were grim.

“The acute financial distress facing the City is imminent and the causes of such distress are not transitory,” emergency manager Kevin Lavin wrote in the report. “Absent an urgent, material realignment of revenues and expenses, this crisis will rapidly deepen and will threaten the City’s ability to deliver and maintain essential government services impacting the health, safety and welfare of its residents.” Christie’s executive order required Lavin and consultant Kevyn Orr, who handled Detroit’s bankruptcy, to issue a report within 60 days.

“It’s actually a lot more severe than we thought when we started 60 days ago,” Lavin said, though he and Orr said bankruptcy was not being considered. Atlantic City has a $101 million city budget shortfall and a $47 million deficit in the school district. The managers recommended $10 million in city cuts, including hundreds of layoffs, and appointing mediators to work with casinos and unions.

New Jersey State Senate president Steve Sweeney lambasted the report: “This report does nothing more than dramatize the fiscal crisis in Atlantic City … Today’s report was 60 days in the making and it reached the same conclusions that we did in November: that decisive action is needed to stabilize Atlantic City’s finances, reduce expenses, protect local taxpayers and reposition the casino industry for future growth.” Sweeney has proposed his own plan that includes a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program for the casinos.

Sweeney is right: The report does dramatize Atlantic City’s fiscal crisis. You can read it at the end of this post. But since it’s essentially just a stop-gap report — another one is due in 90 days — let’s take a look at some of its charts that illustrate the bad shape A.C. is in. Read more »

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