Government shutdown hits off-shore gaming economy hardest

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Las Vegas

As the Republican-run house jokingly pushed the nation into the Jr. High party pool of partial government shutdown Tuesday, the short-term effects of more than 800,000 federal workers off the job without pay indefinitely has had a severe adverse effect on off-shore gambling revenues.

As Thursday nears and no end in sight for the shutdown, the first since the winter of 1995-96, sports books and online gaming sites are being hit hard.

“About 78 percent of our revenue comes from people gambling at work,” said Michael Rosenblum of Antigua-based sportsbook.ag. “We estimate a larger-than-normal portion of that comes from government employees, because, let’s face it, who has less to do on Thursday and Friday than someone who works for the government.”

Indeed, industry experts note the shutdown could not have come at a worse time for the gaming industry.

“We’re nearing the heart of the college football season. Baseball playoffs started this week. The NFL is in full-swing and pre-season NBA basketball is underway,” said Hiram Rosen of the Wynn Las Vegas Race and Sportsbook. “Hell, MLS soccer just started. There’s even fucking soccer to bet on.”

The shutdown, caused by house Republicans who say they love the Constitution but refuse to follow it, affected almost a million workers for the nation’s national parks, museums, visitors centers and agencies like NASA and the EPA.

“Thank god we still have ‘essential’ employees working, like Border Patrol guards and food inspectors,” Rosen said. “Big gamblers, all of them.”

Rosen estimates total sports book revenues from the Wynn alone will lost this weekend from the estimated 100,000 federal employees residing within a day’s drive or otherwise planning to visit Las Vegas this weekend as “somewhere in the high eight figures.”

University of Nevada Las Vegas sociology professor James DeShields, who teaches a class in gambling habits of the American worker says the economic hiccup from the work stoppage will be felt as more of a rumble in Sin City.

“Federal employees in this country are some of the most entitled in the world,” he said. “They also have a lot of time on their hands and make a lot of bad decisions. If that doesn’t sound like a gamblers’ mentality, I don’t know what does.

“Just look at the gamble the house was taking putting us in this situation in the first place.”

Some of the biggest offshore sports book whales are still “in business” this weekend, however, sportsbook.ag’s Rosenblum said.

“I’m not going to name any names but one of our biggest accounts is called RamblinGamblinJoe with the address of Number One Observatory Circle, Washington DC currently throws down about $700k a week. He’s the Floyd Mayweather of the White House.”

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