My crystal ball predictions for 2020: Is it clear, or is it cracked? By Howard Stutz, Executive Editor, CDC Gaming Reports January 2, 2020 at 6:00 pm I don’t like to make predictions. I’ve never cashed a futures ticket on the World Series winner (betting on the Dodgers for the past 30 years wasn’t a wise move) and don’t get me started on my political forecasts. So why am I’m going to enlighten you with a few gaming industry prognostications for 2020? It’s sort of a sell-indulgent game so I can look back at the end of December and see if my crystal ball was clear or cracked. I’m sure I’ll be reminded of my misses rather than congratulated on the ones I hit out of the park, or even those caught up against the wall on the warning track. Yet I’ll venture forth. There are a few locks that any gaming industry observer can see coming. Shutterstock image Sports betting – now taking place legally in 14 states – will continue to grab the headlines. Michigan, Illinois, Colorado and Tennessee will launch their legal activities in the first half of 2020. The two Harrah’s casinos in North Carolina will move forward with their sports betting plans later in the year, in partnership with William Hill US – an offshoot of the pending Eldorado-Caesars merger. By the way, William Hill and DraftKings – fueled by proceeds from its public listing – will wage a spirited battle for the U.S.’s growing sport wagering market. As for new states that might potentially legalize sports betting, signs point toward Ohio, Maryland and Louisiana passing laws and regulations. A wild card in the mix is Massachusetts, but I believe a push in the Commonwealth will ultimately fall short. In California, I believe tribal gaming leaders will qualify their previously announced sports betting referendum for the November ballot and that it will ultimately pass, despite opposition from the card room casinos and several state lawmakers. I don’t foresee a legislative push for a second referendum also making the ballot. This will set the stage for some type of compromise when lawmakers have to take up the voter-approved sports wagering issue in 2021. Fourteen states – possibly 15 – will take wagers on next month’s Super Bowl. In Nevada, however, the game between the New Orleans Saints and the Baltimore Ravens (yes, that’s my prediction) won’t reach the record $158.6 million wagered in 2018. Another lock is that the aforementioned $17.3 billion merger between Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment will be completed by Spring. This will lead to multiple casino sales to avoid federal antitrust implications and help Eldorado achieve its stated goal of $500 million in cost savings. I would expect to see Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe’s Mont Bleu, a northwest Louisiana property and at least one or two Midwest casinos change hands, most likely with the involvement of a real estate investment trust and some small regional casino operators. As for a longshot prediction, Eldorado will sell Bally’s Las Vegas, Harrah’s Reno, and Bally’s Atlantic City to help the company reduce its exposure in those markets. Another casino sale in Las Vegas will involve the Tropicana. In October, Penn National Gaming all but said the Rat Pack-era Strip resort was on the block, having attracted various interested parties. Whether it will be a sale/leaseback with a gaming REIT, or an outright divestiture, remains an open question, however. The signs point to Las Vegas having a banner year for visitation, with several large trade shows and conferences on the books, as well as special events, including April’s National Football League Draft. The Strip won’t see any new resorts – the $4.3 billion Resorts World Las Vegas has been pushed into 2021 – but the unveiling of the $2 billion Allegiant Stadium will come with tremendous fanfare. The first season of the Las Vegas Raiders – as much as it pains me to predict this – will lead to the team making the NFL playoffs. And at some point in 2020, the NFL will award the 2025 Super Bowl to Las Vegas. Derek Stevens’ Circa Resort-Casino will open in downtown Las Vegas in December (a lock) and Wynn Resorts will announce plans for development on the former Alon/Plaza/New Frontier site on the Strip (a longshot.) Merger rumors will be heated among several slot machine providers, but look for one or two of the successful skill-based game developers to be acquired by a major equipment manufacturer. Circa Casino Resort Here are some outside of Nevada predictions. Georgia will continue to debate legalizing casino gaming, but the effort will ultimately fail. In Oklahoma, Indian tribes and the state’s governor will come to a consensus and end their war of words over tribal compacts and exclusivity fees. (Maybe sports betting legalization will be the compromise idea?) Illinois will revisit the regulations for a planned casino in downtown Chicago that will make the site more profitable and attract the interest of major casino operators. #commentary – My crystal ball predictions for 2020: Is it clear, or is it cracked? –@howardstutz, Executive Editor, CDC Gaming Reports. https://t.co/2T66re9KIZ #CDCgaming — CDC Gaming Reports (@CDCNewswire) January 4, 2020 Overseas, Japan’s casino legalization process will continue to drag out. Tokyo, and the country at large, are currently consumed with hosting the Summer Olympic Games. However, Osaka will move forward and by year’s end, chose an operator – MGM Resorts International. Macau will rebound from its pathetic 2019, and the market will be abuzz by the end of year in anticipation of the 2021 opening of the redeveloped Londoner Macau by Las Vegas Sands. Feel free to check back with me in December to see about my hits and misses. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.