Momentum continues toward legal sports gambling

Calder Casino offers patrons a chance to pick the winners of sports events, rotating from NFL to NBA to Major League Baseball. The winners receive free slot play.
Calder Casino offers patrons a chance to pick the winners of sports events, rotating from NFL to NBA to Major League Baseball. The winners receive free slot play.

As in years past, football fans who like a little bit of action can pick NFL games at Calder Casino: It’s a far cry from sports gambling, but it’s the best casino option we have.

That may change, according to the American Gaming Association and legal experts. They see a day when sports betting is legal at casinos everywhere and point to a case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding New Jersey’s efforts to legalize sports wagering. The case could bring about the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), that Congress passed in 1992, banning sports betting in most places.

“This is probably the most critical year in the debate surrounding sports betting,” says Daniel Wallach, a lawyer from the South Florida firm Becker & Poliakoff, who has become among the most popular speakers when it comes to sports gambling. “It’s when everything will come to a head.”

Wallach is on a panel that will discuss the latest developments at the Global Gaming Expo next week in Las Vegas. The AGA has made a push for legalized sports betting its signature issue, with regular press releases and news conferences pointing out the prevalance of illegal, unregulated sports gambling and insisting on a repeal of PASPA.

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Columnist Nick Sortal AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiherald.com

AGA President Geoff Freeman notes polls show a more favorable attitude toward sports betting, citing the popularity of fantasy sports and the overall presence of gambling in everyday life, such as the expansion of casinos and the lottery. The sports leagues also have backed away from their anti-gambling stance, if for no other reason than the fact that fans who are involved in fantasy sports have a much deeper interest in the outcome of all games — and their passion is reflected in the TV viewership numbers. For example, NBA commissioner Adam Silver in 2014 wrote a New York Times op-ed calling for a “federal framework” to legalize sports betting.

Would sports betting have a place in South Florida casinos if (a big if) the state then approved it? Freeman and others hope so, and note that in 2017 Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and West Virginia introduced some form of sports betting legislation. Much of it hinges on the repeal of PASPA.

But meanwhile, Calder patrons can pick the winners of selected NFL games from 9 a.m. Wednesdays through 10 a.m. Sundays. (It’s not sports gambling because the participants aren’t risking anything.) The top 20 scores will be posted every Wednesday and will win a share of more than $1,000 in free slot play. Those who finish in the Top 100 for the season win a share of more than $5,000 in free play.

The promotion is part of a continuing series at Calder, Director of Marketing Matt Harper says. The casino also rotates in baseball and basketball contests, depending on the season.

Daniel Wallach, who will speak on a panel at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas next week, says the sports betting issue will come to a head this year.

Charity event at Hard Rock

The World Series of Poker Circuit series is running at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, but Tuesday the action will be a little friendlier.

The casino is hosting a charity tournament to raise money for hurricane relief efforts. Proceeds go to Feeding South Florida, a hunger-relief organization that is currently focused on the Florida Keys.

A player party is set for 6 p.m., followed by the tournament at 7. Prizes include a $20,000 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event package, as well as more than $15,000 in tournament entries to various Seminole Hard Rock Poker events. There also will be vacation and hotel packages and signed memorabilia.

Buy-in is $300, with re-entries permitted. Go to SHRPO.com.

Coming up

▪ Miccosukee Resort & Gaming gives away a GMC Canyon or Terrain (player’s choice) at midnight Friday. Winners can opt for $12,000 and a hotel stay instead.

▪ Seminole Classic gives away a 2018 Audi A5 at 11 p.m. Friday. Qualifiers will be selected every 30 minutes from 7-10 p.m. and win $500 in free slot play. Then, at 11:30 p.m., one player will win $5,000 Free Play in the Last Chance drawing.

▪ Roberto Torres, a Cuban musician known for his interpretation of Simón Díaz’s “Caballo Viejo,” plays at 10 p.m. Saturday at Casino Miami. His show is part of the casino’s Latin Flavor series.

▪ Hialeah Park continues its big Saturday giveaway program. The casino gives away $1,000 in free slot play hourly from 2-4 p.m. and 9-11 p.m. At 5 p.m. and midnight, the prize is $2,000 cash. Casino patrons receive one free entry into the drawing, plus bonus entries on Saturday for every 25 slot points earned.

▪ Gulfstream Park gives away a 2017 Jeep Wrangler at 11 p.m. Saturday. The night starts at 6 p.m. with three free-play winners chosen every hour. A consolation drawing is set for midnight.

▪ The Isle Casino & Racing in Pompano Beach gives away a 2017 Cadillac CTS at 11 p.m. Saturday. Finalists will be selected every 15 minutes from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and win $500 in free slot play. The Cadillac winner can also opt for $35,000 cash.