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Best of Dan Ippolito

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Casino City’s Friday Five: Record sports betting edition

29 January 2021

Super Bowl LV is next Sunday and sports bettors are chomping at the bit for the incredible amount of prop bets that are available. This betting opportunity will surely bring in big numbers to the sportsbooks around the U.S. In months leading up to the Super Bowl, several U.S. states saw their sportsbooks bring in record numbers. Before we get into Super Bowl talk, this week we also have more news from Caesars Entertainment and Bally’s, a major Pai Gow win out of Las Vegas, and a casino in Puerto Rico resurfacing.

Let’s start with a big payout:

5. Massive Pai Gow Poker win at The Orleans
A first-time visitor from Utah tried his luck at The Orleans Hotel and Casino and hit a nearly $250,000 regional linked Pai Gow Poker progressive jackpot on Friday, 22 January.

The winner, who wishes to remain anonymous, was playing Pai Gow Poker and bet $1 when he hit the rare natural seven-card straight flush, winning him a Pai Gow Poker progressive jackpot of more than $223,000 at 1:46 a.m.

The player also placed a fortune bonus side bet of $5 that won him an extra $25,000. In total, the guest won $248,396 during his visit.

4. Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation to reopen casino in Puerto Rico
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and LionGrove announced the formation of a partnership to reopen the historic El San Juan Casino as the Foxwoods El San Juan Casino.

In addition to redeveloping the casino, the two partners are also thrilled to reopen the renowned Tropicoro entertainment venue, welcoming back performers, artists, live entertainment and events once again to its stage.

“Our success and experience with operating Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut will allow us to effectively expand our footprint and bring award-winning gaming experiences to Puerto Rico,” said Rodney Butler, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman.

3. Caesars and Bally’s jump into the fantasy sports game
On Monday, Caesars Entertainment announced a strategic investment in the daily fantasy sports platform SuperDraft.

As part of the investment, SuperDraft will join Caesars' online brands, World Series of Poker, Caesars Online Casino, and, upon the acquisition's close, William Hill, as part of a full slate of mobile and online gaming channels.

To kick-off the partnership, SuperDraft will launch its first $1 million tournament on 7 February - the SuperMillion Big Game contest. Opportunities will be offered daily across paid and free entry contests to give anyone the chance to win a ticket and compete for the $300,000 first place prize. Additionally, two $100,000 contests with $20,000 first place prizes will occur on Super Bowl Sunday to offer something for daily fantasy players of all pocketbooks.

Caesars wasn’t the only one making moves in the daily fantasy sports world this week.

Also on Monday, Bally's Corporation announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Monkey Knife Fight.

In 2020, MKF was ranked by SponsorUnited as the sixth most-searched and tenth fastest-growing brand in sports and entertainment.

"With this acquisition, we are pleased to enter into the high-growth DFS market. Monkey Knife Fight is a unique asset that we look forward to incorporating into Bally's constantly growing omnichannel portfolio of land-based casinos and iGaming platforms," said George Papanier, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bally's Corporation.

Monkey Knife Fight has approximately 180,000 registered users and 80,000 depositing players.

2. U.S. sports betting continues to produce big numbers
Colorado sportsbooks closed 2020 with yet another record month that made the Centennial State the sixth to surpass $1 billion in wagers for a year.

Colorado's online and retail sportsbooks tallied their eighth consecutive month of record wagering with $284.6 million in December. That was up 23.1% from the previous record of $231.2 million set in November.

For all of 2020, Colorado's retail and online sportsbooks produced:
  • $1.2 billion in wagers, of which $1.17 billion were made online
  • $75.8 million in gross gaming revenue.
  • $28.3 million in net betting proceeds
  • $3 million in state taxes, including $2.2 million in the last three months.
Illinois online and retail sportsbooks collected more than $450 million in wagers in November, setting a fresh record for monthly handle to place fourth among legal sports betting markets in the U.S.

Illinois bettors placed a record $451 million in wagers in November. That is up nearly 4% from $434.6 million in October. Only New Jersey ($931.6 million) and Nevada ($609.4 million) — the two oldest legal sports betting markets in the U.S. — and Pennsylvania ($491.9 million) generated more in bets during November 2020.

“Remarkably, Illinois has done all this with just a handful of operators and without some of the best-known brands in the industry,” said Joe Boozell, analyst for

Tennessee’s online sportsbooks continued to gain momentum, reaching $180 million in wagers in December to close 2020 with the best two-month debut in U.S. sports betting history.

In a December that featured four NFL Sundays, down from five in November, bettors placed $180.9 million in wagers. That topped November’s $131.4 million handle by 37.6%. December’s wagers produced a “win” of $13.9 million for the operators, up from $13.2 million in November.

Through the market’s first two months, Tennessee has:
  • Generated $312.3 million in bets, by far the most of any legal sports betting jurisdiction in U.S. history. The next closest was Indiana, which produced $126.9 million in its first two months in 2019.
  • Shattered the records for the best first month and the best second month. Indiana held both records, hitting $35.2 million in September 2019 before reaching $91.7 million in October 2019.
  • Set a new standard for operator revenue with $27.1 million. Indiana generated $20.1 million in its first two months, including $11.5 million in its second month.
1. Super Bowl prop bets hit the board
With William Hill opening expanded prop wagering yesterday, bettors have 1,218 different ways to bet next Sunday’s Championship game.

William Hill Sportsbook & Racebook will also be offering continuous live InPlay wagering (point spreads, totals, and money lines) throughout Super Bowl LV.

The Kansas City Chiefs are currently three-point favorites versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at William Hill and the total (over/under) is 56.5.

William Hill obviously isn’t the only sportsbook ready to offer prop bets to its bettors.
Intertops Sportsbook is starting right from the coin toss and giving the chance to bet on heads or tails.

Head over to bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook and you will be able to find some more detailed bets to place. There you can place a wager on props like how many penalties will be accepted in Super Bowl LV, which the line is set at 10.5. If you’re into special teams, then you can look into something like when the first field goal will be scored as well.

Prop bets haven’t always been so popular but began to take shape and grow heavy interest back in 1986 when William "Refrigerator" Perry broke some books with a prop bet on him.

There are plenty of choices to pick from for when that ball flies off the first kicking tee at 6:30 p.m.
Casino City’s Friday Five: Record sports betting edition is republished from
Dan Ippolito

As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports. Email him at, or follow him at @casinocity_dan on Twitter.
Dan Ippolito
As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports. Email him at, or follow him at @casinocity_dan on Twitter.