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Gaming Report: Turf Clubs Explore Online App, Goa Casinos to Remain Closed & More

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  • Namita Ghosh June 4, 2020
  • 5 Minutes Read

The Coronavirus pandemic has changed many aspects of life, profoundly affecting the gaming sector as well. To overcome the financial woes caused by a literal crash in punter attendance, the country’s Turf Clubs are exploring the possibility of launching an integrated app that will accept online bets on horse racing held across the country!

The Horse Race industry is not the only one struggling at the moment. Goa’s casino sector is in the same boat, and things are unlikely to change anytime soon as clarified by Goa CM Pramod Sawant, who announced that all offshore and onshore casinos in the state will remain closed in the wake of the health crisis. The coastal state has less than 100 reported COVID-positive cases, but the government is not in the mood to take any chances.

There was a prominent partnership that got inked recently with telecom giant Bharti Airtel joining hands with Haryana-based e-Sports company NODWIN Gaming, for launching the Airtel India Esports Tour. The tour will cover popular Esports tournaments like FIFA, India Premiership by NODWIN, and will be broadcasted on Airtel’s digital platforms.

Unlike India, the casino sector in the US is on the fast-track to resume operations. Close to 333 out of the 989-licensed commercial and tribal casino properties in the country have already reopened. Casinos in Nevada have also been green-lighted to reopen with the date set for June 4. While many properties are opening the same day, others will be resuming operations over the coming week.

Wrapping up this feature is news from the gaming solutions company, Playtech that will be launching online casino products in New Jersey via Bet365. The company has acquired regulatory approval for the same.


Horse Racing Industry Proposes App For Improving Volume & Profits

India is home to several horse racing clubs, where betting is carried out at the venue at tote booths or with licensed bookmakers at the premises. With the COVID-19 putting a near stop to horse racing, the Turf Clubs have suffered significant losses in recent months.

The racing season is gearing up to resume operations, and even though the lockdown restrictions are being eased out, the industry’s biggest fear is that the punter turnout will remain low. Taking a cue from real-money gaming segments like fantasy sports, poker, and rummy, the racing clubs are now giving serious consideration to launching a horse-betting app for attracting more bettors.


Horse Racing App Coming Up?

The Turf Authority of India (TAI) is reportedly working on an integrated online betting app. Hinting as much, Chairman of the Mysore Race Club, Dr. N Nithyanand Rao, who is a member of the TAI board, revealed that the TAI has tasked a tech firm for the same.

Rao added that the app will run across centers that acquire the requisite permission from their state governments, once the Union Government approves the proposal.

“We cannot do without online betting,” Rao said, adding that having Online Betting Counters (OBC) in place will eliminate illegal betting. “All punters will be given cards and numbers, and they’ll be punting through that, and they can keep a tab on their money.”


Horse Racing Going Digital – A Profitable Preposition?

An integrated app that allows people to access racing schedules across all the Turf Clubs in India and bet will not only widen the horizons for the horse racing industry, but it will also help improve profit margins for the clubs.

Racing manager for Kunigal Stud Farm, Zeyn Mirza, was quoted by Deccan Herald as saying, “I am not sure we’ll be able to get the government to reduce the tax, but what we can do is fight to legalise online betting… An online betting application linked to the clubs’ totalizator is the only way forward. If this is combined into a national Tote with combined betting collections from all Turf Clubs across the country, punters could make bigger profits, as the volume would be greater.”

He explained that an integrated app will attract more punters while improving earnings per bet. For instance, he said, currently, if a person bets ₹10 at a 10:1, he makes ₹100 and then loses ₹30 to GST. However, with an online app, if there is a collective totalizator, the punter could make ₹700 on a ₹10 bet.


Goa Government Not in the Mood to Open Casinos Anytime Soon

The coastal state of Goa has been one of the least affected states in the country during the ongoing global crisis with less than 100 cases, and no COVID-19 related deaths reported so far.

Pramod Sawant


The government had, as part of lockdown 3.0 on May 4, announced significant relaxations. However, establishments like casinos, bars, and restaurants have been asked to remain closed.

In an interview with TOI, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant discounted the possibility of reopening casinos anytime soon.

When asked if similar to restaurants and malls that will be opening within a week, would casinos also be opening its doors soon, Sawant said, “No, not at all. We want to allow restaurants to open so that people who go to work and depend on them for tea and snacks are not deprived of it. Besides, it will also help these restaurants and small eateries to get some business.”

Casinos in Goa and Sikkim have remained closed since March 15. Recent reports suggest that “the casino industry has suffered heavy losses due to the shutdown, with the casino sector in Goa having let go of over 1,000 employees and made heavy pay cuts to salaries of the remaining staff.”

It is becoming increasingly evident that the casinos may not be able to resume operations before July-August.


Bharti Airtel and NODWIN Gaming Launch Airtel India Esports Tour

Indian telecommunications company Bharti Airtel has joined forces with Haryana-based Esports Company NODWIN Gaming to create the Airtel India Esports Tour.

The new entity is said to be the first and largest property of its kind in this segment. It will initially cover games like GO, Clash of Clans, FIFA, etc. In due course, popular Esports tournaments held by NODWIN Gaming like the India Premiership by NODWIN, Dreamhack India, The Northeast Cup, KO Fight Nights, and PAN Fest will also be included in the tour. The tour will be broadcasted on Airtel’s digital platforms to expand the emerging format to newer audiences.

The founder and MD at NODWIN Gaming, Akshat Rathee, said, “Nodwin Gaming believes that by binding the elements of independent tournaments into a single storyline we will give rise to a new culture in the competitive world of Indian esports. The teams and players will now look up to perform throughout the year rather than focusing on few big standalone tournaments in a year.”

Elaborating on the partnership, Chief Product Officer, Bharti Airtel, Adarsh Nair said, “At Airtel, it has always been our aspiration to support a digital India. Gaming is the next frontier of entertainment, and it gives us great pleasure to announce our partnership with Nodwin to unlock the potential of esports in India. esports is taking a higher share of where our youth spend their time and we look forward to a deep partnership with Nodwin to evolve this space and support the youth in India.”

It is estimated that by 2021, online gaming will become a massive market in India, worth over $1 Billion, with over 620 million gamers.

The Airtel India Esports Tour will also have a national ranking and awarding system for Indian Esports players, basis their annual performance across tournaments, and will be used as a base to create a points table for all participants.


50% of US Casinos Reopen, More Gearing Up to Resume Operations

There are 989 commercial and tribal casino properties across the US, and the COVID-19 pandemic had forced all of these businesses to shut down in mid-March. While some of the tribal casinos like the Coeur d’Alene Casino in Idaho reopened as early as the first week of May, two more Oklahoma establishments reopened around the same time. Casinos in Deadwood, South Dakota, and Florida’s Seminole Hard Rock Tampa were among the other casinos that reopened before June.

Starting June 1, a large number of brick-and-mortar casinos in the country have resumed operations with social-distancing protocols in place.

According to the American Gaming Association, currently, 333 casinos in the country have opened, across 23 US states, and more joining the list through the month. While casinos in Nevada and Alabama are poised to reopen today, several casinos in West Virginia, Arizona, Washington, Rhode Island, and California are reopening on different dates over the next seven days.



Nevada Casinos Reopen After 78-day COVID-19 Closure

Most gambling venues in Nevada are going ahead with reopening plans on June 4, despite the George Floyd protests that turned violent earlier this week.

Among those casinos that are reopening right as the COVID-19 closure deadline ends are MGM properties The Bellagio, MGM Grand and New York-New York, the Wynn Resorts, Venetian, Circus Circus, Encore, The Cosmopolitan, The Orleans, South Point, The Park, Golden Nugget and The D, Golden Gate, Downtown Grand, etc.

Caesars Entertainment Corp has announced that its properties, Caesars Palace and the Flamingo, will open first on June 4, followed by Harrah’s and The Linq that will be resuming operations on June 5.

On the other hand, Westgate Resort and Casino plan to reopen its poker room on June 18.

Even though casinos are getting back to work, the poker rooms inside these establishments are not. The Nevada Gaming Control Board has underlined stringent health and safety guidelines, with venues required to operate at 50% capacity only. The Board guidelines also dictate limiting poker to four-handed play, which has acted as a significant deterrent for venues to reopen poker rooms in the first phase.

The Venetian, The Orleans, and South Point are a few venues that have confirmed the reopening of their poker rooms, other popular places like Wynn Resorts and Aria have announced that their poker rooms will remain closed.


East-Coast Casinos

Casinos in the northeastern sectors of the US, including Delaware, Connecticut, Iowa, and Missouri, have also reopened recently.

Delaware’s casino sector was among the worst-affected owing to the Coronavirus pandemic. The casinos reopened last weekend after receiving the Governor’s assent to resuming casino operations with 30% capacity as part of the first phase of the state’s reopening plan.

In Connecticut, despite Governor Gavin Newsom’s clear directives, several tribal casinos reopened a fortnight back. Two more tribal casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan, went on to resume operations on June 1.

Casinos in Iowa and Missouri have also resumed operations.


New Jersey Casinos

Atlantic City casinos would be reopening a month after casinos in Las Vegas resume operations. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has indicated as much, predicting a July 4 reopening date, under certain restrictions.

In a radio interview, Murphy said, “It’s probably still too early to give you a very specific answer, but there’s a lot of work going into that right now. But we are trying like heck to get toward, I hope, before the Fourth of July or at least by the Fourth of July … that we’re in a position where we can say, you know what, subject to a lot of different parameters, the casinos can be open again.”


Playtech to Launch Online Casino in New Jersey Via Bet365

Gaming solutions giant Playtech has secured regulatory approval from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) to launch its online casino products in New Jersey.

The company obtained a transactional waiver to roll out its casino products with Bet365. The initial launch of the online casino will feature its sports platform and live casino products in the state and elsewhere in the US, subject to licensing procedures.

Speaking on the launch, Playtech chief executive, Mor Weizer, said that it was a “major milestone” for the business. Weizer said, “We are delighted to have met the stringent regulatory requirements of the NJDGE and to be launching in New Jersey with our long-standing strategic partner bet365, the US is a highly strategic market for Playtech and we see significant demand for the full breadth of our product offering.”

Playtech pointed out that it has already begun licensing processes in other states.

Weizer added, “This is the first step for Playtech in the US, and we are very excited about the long-term opportunity.”

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