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June, 2020

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Westgate Sportsbook Reopening: A Behind-the-scenes Look

The Westgate opened July 2, 1969, as the International, which at the time was the world’s largest hotel and casino.

The doors stayed unlocked until Nevada’s casinos closed March 18 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Westgate, which now boasts the world’s largest sportsbook, unlocked its doors on Thursday. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the reopening alongside Westgate sportsbook vice president Jay Kornegay.

10:14 a.M.: Less than two hours before the Westgate reopens, Review-Journal photographer Rachel Aston and I enter through a side door, where we have our temperatures taken.

We’re greeted by Kornegay and the world’s largest 4K video wall which, at 18 feet tall and 260 feet wide, is 20 feet wider than before. It’s also brighter and clearer after the Westgate replaced all the screens during the shutdown.

“We’re still fine-tuning some things, but the bottom (score ticker) is bigger, the screens are a little longer and they’re 30 percent brighter,” Kornegay said.

There are hand-washing stations at the entrance and exit to the book and plenty of hand sanitizer dispensers.

More than half of the seats in the sportsbook have been removed, along with every other seat in the racebook, marked by “Reserved For Social Distancing” sheets.

10:30 a.M.: Kornegay stops to chat with Dawn Rawle, Westgate’s VP of marketing and entertainment.

She tells him that the hotel had just checked in its first guest, a woman from Texas on vacation.

“It’s her birthday weekend,” Rawle said. “She was super excited. She will get a surprise in her room.”

10:45 a.M.: All Westgate employees gather in the book for a final meeting before the grand reopening. General manager Cami Christensen reminds her “leadership team” that they have to lead the way in wearing masks, washing their hands and having their temperatures taken and to do it “with a good attitude and with pride.”

“If you want to vent about how hard this is, my door is wide open to all of you at any time,” she said. “Just wear your mask.”

Kornegay poses for the group photo and does the wave with the rest of the team.

All of the employees are wearing masks, along with a small photo of themselves.

“Guests can’t see our face anymore, but now they can see our picture so they know what we look like,” Kornegay said.

Says Christensen: “Everybody always complains the dealers don’t smile in Vegas. This is going to be perfect to show that they do.”

11:10 a.M.: Kornegay checks on last-minute details. The empty racks in the book need to be filled with betting sheets. The initial plan was to hand them out at the counter upon request, but he decided that would’ve been overwhelming.

Kornegay then heads to the back room to consult with Doug Whelan, a systems integrator for NMR Events, which replaced the audio/video system for the book.

“It’s 96 percent done, but we’re still working on the sound and tweaking the format because they have to transfer control of the screens to the back room,” he said.

There’s a replica of the video wall in the back room on five TV screens that staff members are always monitoring.

Kornegay tries to resolve a problem on the replica screens with Whelan so that they can see the ticker as it comes across in the book.

“This is the time to ask these questions,” Kornegay says. “Millions of dollars have been spent.”

As sportsbook managers Eric Osterman and Randy Blum oversee the Westgate mobile app, Kornegay turns his attention to the “Welcome Back Superbook Guests” sign displayed on one of the screens.

He asks sportsbook director John Murray if he prefers to add the message ‘We’ve missed you’ or ‘Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back,’ in a nod to the 1970s TV show “Welcome Back, Kotter.”

Murray likes the second option because “It’s more fun.”

11:30 a.M.: A line of about 60 people has formed at the main entrance. William Vames, 56, of Las Vegas is first in line. He said he showed up at 1 a.M. But was told to come back later. He returned at 6 a.M. And has been patiently waiting since then.

“I just wanted to be one of the first ones in,” he says. “It’s like emotional therapy. Being away from the sportsbook, that’s my life. My baby’s been taken from me, and now I’m getting it back.”

11:45 a.M.: Kornegay and Murray join the rest of the Westgate team out front. Christensen addresses the staff, and they cheer for the guests in line.

11:55 a.M.: As the all-female band Dollface plays “Viva Las Vegas” inside, “Sexxy” creator Jennifer Romas and Westgate magician Jen Kramer are the first to enter, along with the hotel’s masked canine mascot, Sir Winston of Westgate.

Noon: Kornegay helps usher guests inside while ensuring they practice social distancing. Each of the more than 100 people in line are awarded $50 in free slot play and are greeted by employees who carry silver trays of masks and pass them out with silver tongs.

12:10 p.M.: After the guests enter the hotel, the back doors to the book are opened, and two lines quickly form at the betting windows.

“It’s good to see the guests again, and it’s good to get all the tellers and the rest of the team back to work,” Murray said. “There will be a lot more action now from over-the-counter business and the horse racing business.

“But it’s not going to feel like we’re all the way back until we get one of the major sports back.”

12:15 p.M.: The first two bets placed over the counter are for $2,000 each on the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins to earn the top seeds in their respective NHL conferences. The bet on the Blues (+225) pays $4,500. The bet on the Bruins (+175) pays $3,500.

“Not bad. It went way over (the amount I expected),” Kornegay said with a laugh. “I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that the first wagers would’ve been on winning the top seed in the NHL playoffs. But I didn’t think it would be on South Korea baseball, either.”

“We have a lot of (mobile) account activity. A lot of people withdrawing and making deposits. I guess the wave of the future is mobile wagering and more so even after this pandemic.”

The Westgate is covering all deposit fees on Sightline Play+ on its app through July 31.

12:30 p.M.: Besides horse racing, the only live sports on Thursday afternoon was the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage tournament.

But Kornegay quickly decided to switch the sound in the book from golf’s hushed tones to the legendary voice of late sportscaster Keith Jackson, who was calling an old Rose Bowl.

“The first day we open and I’ve got golf with no fans on,” Kornegay said. “It was just putting everyone to sleep. I just want something with a little bit more energy.”

1 p.M.: There were 18 players in the racebook and between 10 and 20 in the sportsbook the first few hours it was open.

“It’s about what I expected,” said Kornegay, who was approached by several bettors.

Robert Nolan of Las Vegas asks if can cash his $1,000 ticket to win $909 on the Lakers to go over 50½ wins. Kornegay kindly tells him he can’t as the Westgate refunded all wagers on regular-season win totals because of house rules that stipulate all 82 games must be played.

Another bettor who chats with Kornegay about football says he flew in from Ohio on Sunday but waited for the Westgate to reopen to visit a Las Vegas book.

“I decided to wait four days for this place to open to get the best value,” Dennis Whitehead said. “This is where you’re going to get the best value. I bet on the NFL. I put some money down on the futures.”

1:30 p.M.: John Todd Voss of Las Vegas had a handful of wagers on the golf tournament and said he’s entered the Westgate SuperContest the last five years. Registration has resumed for the prestigious NFL handicapping contest.

“I want to get ready for the SuperContest,” he said. “I want to get my futures in. I have hockey action, too. It’s always good to have a little action.”

2 p.M.: With everything running smoothly in a relatively quiet book, Kornegay heads to his office to catch up on emails and follow up on meetings from a marketing trip to Colorado, where the Westgate is opening another book.

3 p.M.: Kornegay greets guests in the book, including pro sports bettor Frank Carulli.

Relaxing in his reserved seat in the VIP section of the racebook, Carulli is impressed with the new video wall.

“The screens are really nice. They’re even nicer than they were and that’s saying something,” he said. “I can definitely tell the difference. They’re way brighter.”

A regular at the book before it closed, Carulli’s mask can’t conceal his glee about the reopening.

“I’m excited to be back,” he said. “This is my home away from home.”

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Patriots’ Devin And Jason McCourty Cautious Of NFL’s Return

New England Patriots defensive backs Devin and Jason McCourty described the possibility of returning to work as nerve-wracking and “scary” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think everybody’s nervous, because the norm is that we just go to work — we put in a lot of work, we bond together, we lift, we’re in close quarters. It feels like that’s all being taken away from us, so I don’t know how to react. I don’t know what’s it’s going to be,” Devin McCourty said Sunday night on the “Double Coverage” podcast.

“I love how a lot of players’ attention has been on what’s going on outside of football, and I think we’ll continue to do that. But figuring out football, to me, seems to be the hardest thing right now. We hope, but I don’t know if we’ll figure it out, honestly.”

The twin brothers said players haven’t been informed when they might return, and Jason added that he wouldn’t take part in a group workout at this time.

2 Related

“For me, there would be no coming together to do any type of practice with teammates, because I just think we can’t dismiss with corona and everything going on,” he said on the podcast he shares with Jason. “I’ve been out here in Nashville, and I actually go run at the high school where I think a lot of the 49ers players were doing their team-practice ordeal. They just had a player or two test positive, [according to a NFL Network report].

“It’s kind of scary because something like that, I think it was probably just offense, so they probably had maybe 10 guys out there. When you think about the future, if it’s hard for 10 guys just to get together to do little passing drills or anything of that nature, to think about somewhere between 53 and 90 guys in a training camp, it’s going to be insane. So I don’t know how that’s going to turn out.”

One possibility would be to emulate plans by the NBA and MLS for a “bubble” format. In a CNN interview last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that is what the NFL would need to do to give itself the best chance to have a season.

Both McCourtys expressed doubt on how that would work.

“I think it’s very different for football. You think about training camp, there’s 90 guys on the team. Not only are there 90 guys, but there’s a coaching staff usually made up of maybe 15 to 20 … And there are so many other football-essential personnel that are in the building. You’re talking about 32 teams with over 100 members that you have to house; I don’t know if it’s really fathomable for the NFL to be able to go in a bubble,” Jason said.

“Beyond that, I don’t really know — me, personally, I don’t want to ever say never, but I can’t anticipate me being away from the family for that long throughout the entirety of the season. That would be insane. It would feel like forever.”

Added Devin: “I just can’t see me stepping away from my family for that amount of time. When you sign up for different jobs, you kind of discuss it as a family, the hardship of that. For us as players, we never had to think about that. We have training camp kind of in a month and a half, so we haven’t heard until now. The days start counting down. You might be telling your wife with a week’s notice that you’re gone for six months. To me, that would be very tough. If that is on the table, I think that needs to be discussed sooner than later for guys to be able to make that decision.”

At one point in the podcast, Jason was asked the biggest obstacle the Patriots face in 2020, and he said any specific X’s and O’s are overshadowed by the bigger picture.

“[Similar] to every other team in the league, is figuring out how to get into the building. I know that’s kind of the cliché answer right now, but everything that’s gone on with COVID, I think it’s hard at this point to even think about the individual team obstacles that you’re going to have go through because there’s so much going on out of our control right now,” Jason said.

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Sahara Las Vegas To Reopen Poker Room Thursday

ts newly renovated poker room, which held its grand opening in February, is set to reopen Thursday with a game chart that includes No Limit Texas Hold ’em, Limit Hold ’em, Pot Limit Omaha, 7-card Stud and various mixed games.

It joins a handful of other Las Vegas properties — including the South Point, The Orleans and The Venetian — in offering poker.

Sahara’s poker room includes seven tables, a 16-by-9-foot LED video wall and five additional screens throughout the facility.

The venue will be open 6 p.M. To 2 a.M. Daily, with tables limited to five players, according to a Tuesday news release. Players are asked to reserve their seats online.

The Strip property also announced that it is now offering a new table game reservation system that promotes social distancing.

Group reservations are available for blackjack, roulette and baccarat tables through Sahara’s “Take a Seat” program, a first-of-its-kind offering in Las Vegas, according to the release.

The system allows players to book tables up to 72 hours in advance online. It is meant to help groups traveling together make arrangements to play the same live game. Additional games will be added in the future.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands Corp. Operates The Venetian.

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Robinhood Investors Buy New Sports Betting ETF In Big Numbers

Last week, Roundhill Investments launched its second ETF, the Roundhill Sports Betting & iGaming ETF (BETZ).

It’s designed to invest in companies the operate in-person and/or online sports books, operate online/internet gambling platforms or provide infrastructure or technology to such companies.

Its launch timing is a little ironic given the lack of live sports going on right now, but there’s little doubt that the sports gambling industry is huge. Add in the fast growing online gaming and eSports industries and ETF issuers have a huge market opportunity.

As of today, roughly 1/4 of the fund is invested in the technology segment, about 40% in sportsbooks and the remainder mostly in casinos and iGaming.

There’s quite a bit of global diversification here. It’s not surprising to see U.S.-based Draftkings as the top holding, but there’s only one other U.S. Company in the top 10.Robinhood Investors Jump In

Investors on Robinhood have been famous for being trend followers.

They were all over oil funds, including the United States Oil ETF (USO) and the ProShares Ultra Bloomberg Crude Oil Fund (UCO), when prices were crashing and then soaring. They’ve been adding to positions in airlines, particularly the U.S. Global Jets ETF (JETS), all throughout 2020. Both bets have been paying off handsomely post-bear market low.

And now they’re betting on betting!

BETZ is only a few days old, but Robinhood shareholders have quickly taken notice.

Nearly 12,000 Robinhood accounts have added BETZ to their portfolios already. Given its first to arrive advantage (a few eSports and gaming ETFs are already in business, but this is the first to focus heavily on sportsbooks as well), it’s a good bet that we could see this fund gain some traction.

It launched at around $1.5 million, but this buying interest will certainly increase that number in a hurry.

Too early to say if this is a winning bet, but Robinhood account holders have a decent track record lately.More ETF Research

How To Buy Bitcoin Without A Crypto Wallet

Top 5 Dividend ETFs That Are Perfect For Retirement

5 ETFs That Have Gained 30% So Far In 2020

Robinhood Investors Losing Interest In USO

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How To Play Private Poker Games Online On Partypoker

Are you looking for the best mobile app to play private poker games online with your friends, family, and colleagues?

partypoker have now introduced their own private poker games club function that lets you invite others to come and play with you.

If you are familiar with PokerNews, you know we wrote a lot about this already. We have an extensive guide on how to play poker with friends and also an entire walkthrough dedicated to the PokerStars home games online.

All the products we grace reviewed in the past, however, had one big issue that all players kept complaining about: they made organising private poker games online nearly impossible if you wanted to play poker on a mobile device.

That’s what makes the new partypoker option different and, at least in this very specific aspect, partypoker’s Club Games the best app to organize private poker games online.Private Club Games

The ‘Club Games’ make creating and joining new private poker games online very easy.

This new guide shows you how to set up your own private poker games online on the partypoker website and create the unique ID that your friends will need to join your online club.

Featuring fun gamification features, emojis, and cool animations, partypoker’s Poker Clubs come with up to 40% cashback and no increased rake whilst playing in your private poker games online.

And with ‘Club Games’ using partypoker’s ‘Real Name’ policy, you’ll know exactly who you’re playing against every time you sit down to play a private poker home game online!What Are You Waiting For!

What are you waiting for? Create your club and play private poker games online!How to Create a Private Home Game Online on partypoker

The people over at partypoker have made it really easy to set up your new ‘Club Game.’ The process involves no more than four steps.

Five, if you don’t have an account at partypoker yet.Step 1: Register on partypoker

This should go without saying – but you need to have an account on the platform if you want to organize a private poker game online on partypoker.

Click on the button below to get started.

REGISTER FREE ACCOUNT

The account is free and you get also all the bonuses described on this page (link opens on a new tab).Step 2: Click on Club Games

From the partypoker lobby, click on the Club Games tab from the top bar.

Private home games partypoker

Step 3: Create your own Poker Club

Click ‘Create Club’ and fill in the form. Be sure to use a memorable name and password, as well as an eye-catching description to make your private poker club stand out!

Remember: all clubs use real names.

Create a Private Poker Club Online

Step 4: Create Cash Game

Open the club details and head to the ‘Game Admin’ section.

Click ‘Create Game’ and decide what sort of poker games you want to play.

Stakes$0.01/$0.02$0.02/$0.05$0.05/$0.10$0.10/$0.25$0.25/$0.50$0.50/$1.00$1.00/$2.00

Club Games Create Cash Game

Stakes range from $0.01/$0.02 up to $1.00/$2.00. You can also change the number of seats (2, 6 or 8), the minimum and maximum buy-in (10, 50, 100 or 200 big blinds) and the game speed.

Game SpeedSlow – 20 seconds to actRegular – 15 seconds to actFast – 9 seconds to act

You can create new games or delete games using the Cash Games Lobby

Club Games Lobby

Step 5: Invite Players to Your Club

Once you’ve set up your private poker club online and the games you want to play, all you need to do is invite the people you want to play with.

Click the invite button at the top of your Club Lobby and send the unique code and password out.

Club Invite

 What Are You Waiting For!

What are you waiting for? Create your club and play private poker games online!Get Your Hands On Up To $30 Worth Of SPINS Tickets

When you download partypoker via PokerNews and make one real money deposit, you receive up to $30 worth of and SPINS tickets.

Deposit $10 to receive $10 worth of free play, made up of:Day 1 = 1 x $5 SPINS ticket + 5 x $0.25 SPINS ticketsDay 2 = 5 x $0.25 SPINS ticketsDay 4 = 5 x $0.25 SPINS ticketsDay 6 = 5 x $0.25 SPINS tickets

Up your initial deposit to $20 and $30 worth of free play is yours, made up of:Day 1 = 1x $5 SPINS ticket + 5 x $1 SPINS ticketsDay 2 = 1 x $5 SPINS ticket + 5x $1 SPINS ticketsDay 4 = 4 x $1 SPINS ticketsDay 5 = 2 x $3 SPINS tickets

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