Basketball, both professional and the collegiate March Madness Tournament saw the biggest wins, with sports books collecting some $463.5 million in a sports betting streak for Nevada bookmakers that harks back to the glory days of July 2006. At that time, it was the British Open that brought in the bats, with Tiger Woods at 8/1 to win and Phil Mickelson at 14/1, a long short victory that, while pulling in heavy betting caused Nevada sports books a small loss.
March Madness boost
March Madness was the real money maker this year, with $429 in bets on the college tournament alone, giving a strong boost to overall March betting. 2017 still saw higher profits for bookmakers, with Nevada bookies pulling down $41.2 million as opposed to $38.2 for March Madness 2018.
Major League Baseball also helped the bookmakers bottom line in March, bringing in $16 million over three days of bets, a dramatic March increase over last year’s $4.9 million.
Hockey, especially the expansion of the Vegas Golden Knights, added another $53 million to total March wagering, up from $36.6 million the year before.
Sports betting is the forth largest revenue source in the state, with slots pulling down a cool $643 million, Baccarat $117 million, blackjack $95 million and sports betting $38 million in profit.
Times they are a changing
The streak may not last forever however, as the US Supreme Court considers a case that may well open the flood gates on legalized sports betting across the nation. The case, Christi vs NCAA, centers on New Jersey’s attempts to legalize sports betting, a move which major league sports in the US, including Major League Baseball, the NHL, NFL, NCAA, and NBA all opposed.
Currently under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 outlaws sports betting with the exception of four states: Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Delaware. The case before the Supreme Court seeks to over turn that ban and, according to most court observers looks likely to succeed.
Other states already lining up
In light of the highly expected Supreme Court ruling a number of states are already tabling legalized sports betting laws to get in on the action in the event of a favorable ruling. With the current size of illegal sports betting in the US estimated to exceed $196 billion, it’s easy to see why beyond New Jersey, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and West Virginia have all set state legislation in motion.
In fact, the major league sports organizations, seem to have woken up and smelled the coffee, and are now actively lobbying state legislatures to include a commission to go to the leagues themselves. Where previously they had cried foul over the threat of legalized sports betting corrupting US sports leagues, now they seem to be eager to get their slice of the pie if the Supreme Court rules in New Jersey’s favor and declared PASPA unconstitutional.
SJM Holdings posts 26% Q1 growth
SJM Holdings, the brain child of casino tycoon Stanley Ho, has posted a substantial rise in Q1 profits for its Macau casino operations, which are up nearly 26% to $93 million. Net gaming revenues were up 6.7% to $17.8 million.
Falling behind the competition
SJM, however, still faces a number of challenges, with its $4.6 billion casino on the Cotai Strip plagued by delays, even as competitors the like of Sands China and Wynn Macau open their doors to the first regional players.
Uneasy changes at the top
And troubled waters lay ahead. Ho, long one of Asia’s richest men, plans to step down from the family owned business this June, potentially sparking a power struggle among his 17 children and 4 wives.
“This complicated structure, in our view, leaves room for a potential power tussle within the board given the lack of clear control,” said DS Kim, an analyst at JP Morgan in Hong Kong as reported by Reuters.
Over the last five years the 96-year old billionaire has stepped down from most of the day-to-day management operations of his casino empire, but a clear line of succession is still lacking. The chairman’s office is now comprised of four people, including one of his ex-wives and his daughter. His third wife is a company director, and SJM competes directly in Chania against Melco Resorts, run by his son Lawrence Ho and MGM China, co-chaired by his daughter Pansy.
The history of familial acrimony runs deep, so deep in fact that Stanley Ho sued a number of family members in 2011 over billions of dollars in reconstructions in which he said he had not given his consent. While the dispute was settled quickly, in a matter of months, it elucidated the tumultuous times in the life of one of the most prominent families in Asia.