Daily Archives: February 15, 2020

Woman raises awareness of cystic fibrosis (CF) charity in memory of her cousin – Inverness Courier

Posted: February 15, 2020 at 11:01 pm

Emma Wilson with her cousin Jade Munro, who passed away in April 2019 after a lifelong struggle with cystic fibrosis.

An Inverness woman started fundraising for the Leanne Fund after her cousin lost her lifelong struggle with cystic fibrosis.

Emma Wilson (30) decided to run the Loch Ness Marathon last October, raising more than 2300 for the charity, which helps children suffering from CF and their families in the Highlands and Islands.

Jade Munro died aged 23 last April.

Ms Wilson said the cause was close to her heart: Jade was an amazing person and never complained about her condition even though she had to live with it her whole life.

She was so generous that before she died she asked to donate her beautiful hair to the Princess Trust to help kids with cancer.

She said it was the only thing she could donate as she couldnt become an organ donor because of her condition.

Ms Wilson knew about the Leanne Fund because Jade had received some support from it.

She said: The Leanne Fund does such a great job in helping children with CF, and its a local charity, so I felt I wanted to do something to help them.

I am a keen runner but I had never run a marathon before and it was more demanding than I had thought. Id like to do more fundraising activities in the future.

Ms Wilson has been helped by pupils at Cradlehall Nursery, who contributed to the fundraising effort by collecting almost 400 at their Christmas shows.

Chrisetta Mitchell, development manager at the Leanne Fund, said: We are so grateful to Emma for her support of the Leanne Fund in memory of her cousin Jade.

The incredible total raised from her marathon run will be used to provide vital services to those affected by cystic fibrosis.

The Leanne Fund is in its 10th anniversary year.

To find out more about the charity, visit http://www.theleannefund.co.uk and visit http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/emma-wilson146 for Ms Wilsons Just Giving page where donations can be made.

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Woman raises awareness of cystic fibrosis (CF) charity in memory of her cousin - Inverness Courier

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Ligand buys its way into partnership with Roche, CF Foundation plus some ion channel tech once owned by Pfizer – Endpoints News

Posted: at 11:01 pm

Ligand Pharma is once again buying its way into collaborations with some high-profile partners, feeding eight more drug discovery programs into its pipeline at a bargain price.

Its latest acquisition target is the core assets of Icagen, a neuroscience and rare disease-focused player headquartered in Durham, North Carolina. For $15 million upfront, Ligand is bagging one neurological program partnered with Roche, a cystic fibrosis project backed by the CF Foundation, as well as six wholly-owned assets.

Additional milestones and royalty earnouts will cap at $25 million.

Icagen has built deep expertise focused on ion channels and transporters to support target identification and evaluation, and has an established track record in ion channel drug discovery from screening to lead optimization, Ligand CEO John Higgins said in a statement. We expect these capabilities will be synergistic across multiple technology platforms at Ligand, particularly with Vernalis and in novel OmniAb antibody discovery targeting ion channels and transporters.

Vernalis was beat up by back-to-back FDA rejections when Ligand came to its rescue in August 2018, paying $43 million to get their hands on eight partnered programs and an operation in the UK.

Inking deals with companies skilled in later-stage drug development with the promise of royalties are core to Ligands business strategy one that short sellers have criticized as risky if they find the wrong partners.

Investors didnt appear impressed by Ligands choice, sending shares $LGND down 1.64% to $94.76.

Icagen, afterall, took a long and convoluted journey to this point. Having started out in 1992 and gone public in 2005, it sold itself to Pfizer in 2011 only to be reacquired and relaunched in 2015.

San Diego-based Ligand said it expects the deal to close in April, at which point it can push ahead with the preclinical programs at full speed.

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Ligand buys its way into partnership with Roche, CF Foundation plus some ion channel tech once owned by Pfizer - Endpoints News

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2 Easton bars busted for gambling, with nearly $50K seized from 1, police say – lehighvalleylive.com

Posted: at 11:00 pm

The Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement says officers conducted two gambling raids Wednesday in Easton, resulting in the seizure of video gambling machines and a hefty sum of money from two bars.

Enforcement officers around 10 a.m. Wednesday raided Easton Caf Inc. at 125 Northampton St. and Citizens Hose Co. at 839 Line St., state police said in news releases Friday.

From Easton Caf, officers reportedly seized two video gambling devices and $163. At Citizens Hose Co., officers took three video gambling devices and $47,996.52, police said.

Easton Caf did not wish to comment Saturday morning. Leadership of the nonprofit Citizens Hose Co. could not be reached immediately for comment.

Pennsylvania lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf in fall 2017 legalized some video gambling outside casinos, in an effort to close a multi-billion-dollar budget deficit, but limited the machines only to qualifying truck stops. Other components of the expansion included online gambling, iLottery games and sports betting.

State police in 2004 seized six video poker machines from Citizens Hose, along with $6,577 cash, months after The Order of Fleas also on South Side Easton agreed to forfeit $534,000 in assets and pay $168,000 in back taxes for an illegal gambling scheme at the Fleas Club that took in $100 million over 10 years.

Connor Lagore may be reached at clagore@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @ConnorLagore. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.


2 Easton bars busted for gambling, with nearly $50K seized from 1, police say - lehighvalleylive.com

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A sports-gambling bill passed in the state House last night. Heres how close it is to becoming law in Washington. – Seattle Times

Posted: at 11:00 pm

A quickly arranged full Washington state House floor vote on a bill to allow sports gambling in the states tribal casinos was overwhelmingly approved Thursday night and paved the way for possible passage into law by this spring.

Now, a companion bill needs to pass in the Senate before it can reach Gov. Jay Inslees desk and potentially become law.

The 83-14 vote on HB-2638 on Thursday night came just two days after a House Appropriations Committee agreed to forward it onward.

The bills sponsor, Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds, said Tuesday he had hoped to get a floor vote as early as next week so the vote on the Senate bill could occur before a March 13 deadline and enable the proposed legislation to reach Inslees desk by spring. Peterson did even better than that, getting the vote to occur within 48 hours along with an emergency amendment that blocks it from being subjected to a statewide referendum.

State lawmakers had worried that opposition from Nevada-based Maverick Gaming LLC which wanted sports gambling extended beyond tribal casinos to card rooms it controls would slow momentum to getting the bill passed before the end of this years shortened session and delay further proceedings until next January.

Incredibly proud of the strong 83-14 bipartisan vote, Peterson said. We have found a good middle path that supports our tribal partners, allows adults to safely access sports betting and protects our youth.

But the emergency amendment preventing a referendum seems destined to be challenged in court.

Maverick Gaming released a legal opinion Thursday night that it had sought from former State Senator and Washington Supreme Court Judge Philip A. Talmadge, who concluded there was no basis in deeming HB-2638 or SB-6394 an emergency for the state, namely because it will derive no direct tax revenue from the tribal casino activities. As such, Talmadge added there was no immediate threat to public peace, health or safety that warranted such an amendment.

An emergency clause to this legislation, claiming that either bill is necessary for the immediate preservation of public peace, health, or safety is highly suspect and will only ensure lengthy litigation testing such a legislative assertion, Talmadge wrote.

For now, the legislation would limit any sports gambling within tribal casinos, of which there are 29 operating within the state. Washington has some of the nations toughest anti-gambling laws and online betting of any kind is a Class C felony.

But HB-2638 does have an online component to it, allowing such betting only within the tribal casino confines.

Maverick had wanted that extended to smaller card-room casinos which allow limited gambling in card games such as blackjack played against the house and not individuals. Within the past year, Maverick has bought up 19 of the states 44 card rooms.

But lawmakers favored the more conservative option of the tribal casinos, saying their decades of experience at running gambling establishments would make sports gaming easier to regulate.

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A sports-gambling bill passed in the state House last night. Heres how close it is to becoming law in Washington. - Seattle Times

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XFL’s embrace of gambling could be instrumental to its growth: Sports Media Brief – AdAge.com

Posted: at 11:00 pm

Welcome to this weeks edition ofAd Age Sports Media Brief, a weekly roundup of news from every zone of the sports media spray chart, including the latest on broadcast/cable/streaming, sponsorships, endorsements, gambling and tech.

Ratings for the XFLs opening weekend were encouraging, with 22.5 million viewers sampling the wares on ABC, Fox and ESPN. According to Nielsen data, the average XFL viewer tuned in for 61 minutes, a measure that is comparable with college football consumption (69 minutes) during the 2019 season.

Whether the league manages to retain those early adoptersor, better still, expand on the opening numbersremains to be seen, but the XFLs embrace of gambling could be instrumental in boosting its popularity. According to ESPNs David Purdum, not only did Fox and ESPN announcers talk up point spreads and over/under bets during the inaugural broadcastsa practice encouraged by XFL brassbut the league actually prepped for the start of the season by consulting with bookmakers on new rules.

As Purdum reports, part of the XFLs mission is to embrace the spread, a catch phrase that XFL president Jeffrey Pollack says is indicative of the leagues determination to develop a product that aligns with the sports-betting future thats coming fast. The legal gambling boom is such an integral part of the XFLs operating philosophy that league officials went as far as to share their proposed changes to footballs established scoring rules with Vegas sportsbook operators. (One new wrinkle allows for a team to choose between attempting a one-, two-, or three-point conversion following a touchdowna modification that can make a nail-biter of even the most mundane spread or over/under bet.)

Purdum notes that while the opening-week XFL handle didnt exactly make for a windfallthe Caesars Sportsbook said that less than $10,000 was bet on the inaugural Seattle-DC gameit was more than the amount bet on many of Saturdays college basketball games and even some NBA games. Meanwhile, FanDuels New Jersey book said patrons bet 20 times more money on the first XFL game compared to the amount that was wagered on the now-defunct Alliance of American Football Leagues opener.

While the legit books were happy to take XFL wagers (naturally, setting the initial spreads and over/unders was a bit of a guessing game), many of the old-school guys wouldnt go anywhere near the action last week. When asked if he would take a bet on the St. Louis Battlehawks at plus-9.5 points, a bookie of our long-standing acquaintance recommended a 12-step program before cheerfully accepting a wager on a professional bowling tournament.

In the absence of a comprehensive audience metric, defining the scope of the Super Bowl audience remains a bit of a head-scratcher. But Fox this week got a little closer to determining an official delivery after Nielsen revealed the games out-of-home viewership.

All told, about 13 million people watched Super Bowl LIV in bars, restaurants or at a friends house, bringing the broadcast to a final tally of 113.4 million viewers,compared to CBSs year-ago average (112.7 million)a gain proportionate with the initial comparisons between the two live broadcasts.

According to Mike Mulvihill, executive VP for research and league operations at Fox Sports, the addition of the out-of-home data allows Fox and other broadcasters to get closer to the end goal of being able to capture as much consumption as we can. While the bonus eyeballs makes a hash of any attempts to compare this years Super Bowl to all the others for which out-of-home estimates werent made, recognizing the non-traditional views is a step in the direction of greater accuracy that gets as as close to the truth as possible, Mulvihill said.

Fox will begin baking in OOH estimates as part of its NFL guarantees as it begins selling its 2020 inventory of Sunday afternoon windows and the Thursday Night Football package. ESPN was the first to begin negotiating against the somewhat controversial metric, but the initiative hasnt been met with universal acceptance. (While Nielsens definition of a viable OOH impression relies on the clear transmission of the audio signal, buyers have questioned the validity of impressions delivered in noisy environments.)

All told, the OOH views accounted for a 13 percent lift versus Foxs linear deliveries, which is in keeping with the 12 percent boost such public consumption afforded the networks Sunday NFL broadcasts. Mulvihill saidFoxs Thanksgiving Day deliveries jumped 20 percent this year thanks to all the additional over-the-river-and-through-the-woods impressions.

Aside from merely boosting the overall numbers, OOH is instrumental in recapturing those hard-to-reachmillennials. Per Nielsen, out-of-home boosted the number ofadults 18-to-34 who watched Super Bowl LIV by 19 percent.

Now that the OOH data is set to be an inseparable part of the standard TV numbers issued by Nielsen every day, Mulvihill expects to see a significant change in how the networks promote their NFL broadcasts. Traditionally, we havent embraced the opportunity to have big public watch parties, because we dont get credit for those impressions, he said. When those out-of-home figures become the currency in the fall, all that will changeand that can only improve the fan experience.

Sports Business Dailys Ben Fischer and John Ourand this week reported that the NFL has asked teams for feedback on the prospect of radically expanding flex scheduling, including the possibility of moving games from Sunday to Monday in mid-season. In other words, the flex scheduling proviso that has allowed NBC to weed out much of the potential duds from its Sunday Night Football roster may be extended to ESPNs Monday Night Football.

While no specific plans are in placewere they to come, any changes in the current flex scheme wouldnt be made official until the zeroes turn over on the new media rights deals in 2023ESPN obviously would love to have the power to swap out late-season games between no-hopers. In 2018, the cable network carried a Christmas Eve curiosity featuring the 6-8 Denver Broncos and 3-11 Oakland Raiders, a joyless squabble that now stands as the lowest-rated MNF telecast in history (8.6 million viewers/4.5 household rating). Under a revised flex schedule, ESPN would have been given the latitude to sub in the far more compelling Houston (10-5) vs. Philadelphia (8-7) game that aired in CBSs early Sunday window.

In addition to the flex expansion, SBJ reports that ESPN has told the NFL that it plans to shift Monday Night Football back to broadcaster ABC if it retains the rights to the primetime package. (Bristols deal expires at the end of the 2021 season.) Such a scenario would likely involve some sort of MNF simulcast on ESPN, which depends on the NFL not only as a source of ratings points but as the property that buttresses its staggering affiliate fees.

In apodcast interview with Sports Illustrateds Jimmy Traina, the New York Posts Andrew Marchand suggested that money will determine whether the flex schedule comes to MNF, before adding that the real-world implications of flexing a Sunday game to Monday night may be less than ideal for the fans who travel to the games. Obviously, for TV purposes, flexing the games makes a lot of sense; it is a bit of a tougher equation for fans attending the games, Marchand said. Traina concurred. I think its a disaster for fansbut the NFL doesnt care about the fans going to the games, Traina said. They care about keeping their TV partners happy and generating ratings.

The Posts Joel Sherman reports that Major League Baseball is mulling over a series of big changes to its postseason format, one that would expand the playoff field from 10 to 14 teams and introduce a reality show twist to how the clubs are paired off in October. As Sherman explains it, the proposal would allow the runner-up in each league to select its first-round opponent. In 2019, the Yankees posted the second-best record in the American League behind those trash-can-banging "cheats"in Houston; under the expanded playoff rules, New York would have been given the option to play against the Rays, Indians or Red Sox.

Boston had the worst record of that group, Sherman wrote. Would the Yanks pick them or avoid the baggage of a series with their rival? It would create a ton of strategy and interest, and this is what MLB wants to sell.

The choices themselves would be presented on a selection special that would air on the final Sunday night of the regular season. More to the point, the addition of two teams from each league to the playoff mix would serve to reward additional postseason advertising industry to MLB media partners Fox, ESPN and TBS. Any alteration to the playoff format must be approved by the players union; as Sherman notes, the collective-bargaining agreement, like the TV deals with ESPN and Turner, expires after next season.

Not everyone is over the moon about baseballs thought experiment. On Monday, Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer tweeted a shot at the proposal and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. Your proposal is absurd for too many reasons to type on twitter and proves you have absolutely no clue about baseball, Bauer sniped. Youre a joke. Bauer expanded on his 140-character grouse with a seven-minute YouTube tirade in which he discusses how the plan would be a disaster for starting rotations before going on to suggest that Manfred doesnt have a firm grasp on media dynamics.

The outspokenBauer, who has a history of flapping his gums at theMLB boss, was fined an undisclosed amount of cashlast summer after flinging the ball from the mound over the centerfield fence inwhat ESPN characterized as atantrum. Two days after chucking the sphere into the seats, the pitcher was traded from Cleveland to Cincinnati.

Hes a Cinderella boy. Tears in his eyes, I guess, as he lines up this last shot. Hes got about 195 yards left, and hes got a, looks like hes got about an 8-iron. This crowd has gone deadly silent...Cinderella story, out of nowhere, former greens-keeper, now about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac...its in the hole! Its in the hole!

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Atlanta’s Pro Sports Teams Join Forces To Support Legalized Sports Gambling | 90.1 FM WABE – WABE 90.1 FM

Posted: at 11:00 pm

Atlanta Falcons CEO Rich McKay remembers sitting in an NFL meeting recently, talking about the Oakland Raiders impending move to Las Vegas. Its a city that was once off-limits for professional sports teams because of its association with gambling.

Can you imagine were talking about a stadium opening in Las Vegas, said McKay, recalling his conversation with a longtime colleague. Five years ago, we wouldnt have talked about being allowed the plane to land in Las Vegas. So times have changed.

Times have indeed changed as professional sports teams are now fully embracing gambling as a way to sustain interest from their fans.

McKay on Thursday was sitting alongside his counterparts with the Atlanta Hawks and Braves at a roundtable luncheon organized by the Atlanta Press Club. These franchises, along with Atlanta United, are pushing state lawmakers to make sports gambling legal in Georgia.

Some advocates are also pushing for casino gambling in Georgia and wagering on horse races, both of which would require a ballot referendum if passed by the legislature. These CEOs say theyre only focused on online sports gambling.

The effort to legalize sports betting in Georgia has taken a backseat during the current legislative session as lawmakers continue to work on balancing the states budget. But the legislation is still out there, and it has the full-throated support of the citys big four professional sports teams.

Gone are the days when sports teams worried about gamblers compromising the integrity of their sports.Now, all they see is upside, even though as Hawks CEO Steve Koonin notes, teams wont get a cut of the profits if sports betting is made legal.

Were doing this, not for an economic gain, in the literal sense, but to keep future fans engaged in our sport, Koonin said.

Engagement in the form of watching games on TV and attending them in person.

Braves CEO Derek Schiller said sports betting is an issue that could actually bring lawmakers from both sides of the aisle together. Schiller said Georgians are already using their phones to place bets on sporting events through out-of-state websites.

It is something that everybody can get behind, taxing something that is already ongoing and receiving those revenues to the state and allowing the politicians to determine where the dollars then go to, Schiller said.

Advocates say legalized sports betting could bring in billions of dollars at a time when Georgia is desperately seeking more revenue.

Opponents still question the morality of gambling in any form.

But Atlantas sports executives are all in.

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State orders 5 illegal gambling operations to close in Mid-Michigan – ABC 12 News

Posted: at 11:00 pm

LANSING (WJRT) (2/12/2020) - State regulators forced five Mid-Michigan businesses to stop offering illegal gambling.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board and Michigan Attorney General's Office collaborated on an enforcement effort during 2019 targeting illegal gambling operations.

Statewide, 12 businesses received cease and desist orders, five of which are located in Mid-Michigan:

Lapeer County-- Fortunes Skilled Gaming Lounge at 1777 South Cedar St. in Imlay City.-- Atlantis Internet Caf at 759 East St. in Lapeer.-- Jackpot Island Caf at 700 S. Main St. in Lapeer.

Genesee County-- Burton Redemption Center at 5515 Davison Road in Burton.-- Monte Carlo Caf at 723 S. State Road in Davison.

Each of the businesses that state regulators investigated claimed to operate redemption games, which are legal because they are based on skill and not chance. However, the businesses forced to close actually were offering casino-style video slot machines.

Richard Kalm, who is executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board, said illegal gambling often leads to money laundering and other crimes that jeopardize public safety.

Legal gambling is taxed and regulated, and taxes go back into the community as funding for K-12 education," he said. "An illegal gambling operation doesnt support the community but instead siphons funds away from it.

Each of the 12 businesses who received cease and desist orders decided to close, rather than face a 10-year felony charge of operating an unlicensed gambling business.

Gambling regulations are in place for a reason, and when bad actors choose to ignore the law, they must be held accountable, Nessel said.

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State orders 5 illegal gambling operations to close in Mid-Michigan - ABC 12 News

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More than $27000 in alleged gambling proceeds seized in Hall investigation – Gainesville Times

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Three men were arrested, four businesses were searched and more than $27,000 in alleged gambling proceeds were seized following a Hall County Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad sting.

The MANS unit used undercover officers to gather evidence before the searches and arrests Feb. 7.

Lt. Don Scalia said the search warrants were served simultaneously at businesses owned and operated by the three men arrested.

At Cafe Amigo on Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville, Scalia said officers found nine video gambling machines, more than $4,700 in gambling proceeds, receipts and other evidence of the crimes charged.

Three video gambling machines and more than $6,100 in proceeds were found at Mercado El Sol on Atlanta Highway in Gainesville, Scalia said.

Scalia said officers also found four video gambling machines and more than $6,200 in proceeds at Little Giant Grocery on Atlanta Highway in Gainesville.

The largest amount of alleged gambling proceeds was discovered at Coin Laundry Lavanderia on Atlanta Highway in Gainesville, where Scalia said they found four video gambling machines and $10,100 in proceeds.

Scalia said there are arrests pending further investigation regarding Coin Laundry Lavanderia.

Jung Yop Choo, 44, Jose Ulloa-Gonzalez, 51, and Navshadalia Momin, 62, were charged with commercial gambling.

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All-in on gambling – XFL embracing betting from the get-go – ESPN

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The XFL is embracing sports betting more than any other U.S. professional or collegiate league ever has.

While the NFL and other leagues spent years fighting in court to stop the spread of sports betting, the XFL kicked off its reboot by consulting with bookmakers on new rules and encouraging media partners to infuse gambling into broadcasts. The XFL may be just starting, but it appears it is already ahead of the gambling game. Now, we'll see if it pays off.

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For decades, the traditional leagues in the U.S. kept their distance from sports betting, concerned gambling would tarnish the integrity of the games. At the same time, even though commissioners and owners may have been reluctant to admit it, they benefited from fantasy sports and bettors participating in the massive underground and offshore sports betting industries. Former baseball commissioner Bud Selig once testified that sports betting is "evil, creates doubt and destroys your sport."

Times have changed. Legal bookmakers now operate in more than a dozen states, and, at least to this point, sports have survived. The NBA, the NHL and MLB each have official betting partners, and the NFL is moving in that direction. None of them, however, are as all-in on betting as the newest league on the block, the XFL, which, instead of shying away from the gambling industry, is determined to "embrace the spread."

"This notion of embracing the spread," XFL president Jeffrey Pollack said, "means that our mission, our design and our business infrastructure are all geared to the sports betting future that's coming fast.

"We see a lot of pros to leaning into the sports betting world," he added. "It's what our fans want. We don't see cons, we see opportunity."

When creating its rules and scoring system, the XFL kept the bettor in mind and even bounced ideas off Las Vegas sportsbook operators to see what worked and what didn't.

"I thought it was very interesting," John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, said of the informal calls with the XFL. "It was cool just to talk to the guys who were starting a new football league and see what kind of ideas they had."

The XFL landed on rules aimed at condensing the game. They wanted to increase the pace of play, eliminate virtually automatic plays like kicking extra points and enhance timing rules to improve comeback opportunities and keep the spread in play longer.

The XFL's play clock is 25 seconds (it's 40 seconds in the NFL), and the game clock stops only briefly, except for the final two minutes of each half, called "comeback periods." The goal was to deliver a similar number of plays per game as the NFL but in less than three hours. NFL games during the 2019 regular season averaged 126.8 offensive snaps and 45.6 points per game. The first four XFL games averaged 124 offensive plays and 38.5 points.

After touchdowns, teams choose between going for one point from the 2-yard line, two points from the 5-yard line or three points from the 10-yard line. "This enhances a team's ability to make a comeback," XFL senior vice president strategy and business development John Scheler said. "Your bet's in play longer because the team potentially has the ability to come back and cover the spread."

Overtime is decided by a pseudo-shootout, with teams alternating single plays from the 5-yard line. Each score is worth two points.

The rule tweaks to timing and scoring were a challenge for oddsmakers. Not knowing how coaches would handle the new options after touchdowns and their success rate on those attempts reduced the value of the traditional key numbers -- most notably three and seven -- that bettors are accustomed to in the NFL and college football. Out of the 19 touchdowns scored in the four games over the weekend, coaches elected for the 1-point option 11 times and the 2-point option eight times. They were successful on four 1-point chances and three 2-point chances.

Creating a point spread, though, was not the toughest task for oddmakers in Week 1. Setting the over/under was.

Circa Sports, a new bookmaking operation in downtown Las Vegas, was the first sportsbook to put up totals on the four Week 1 games. They admitted the process of setting the totals was not sophisticated.

"For me, it was a huge guess," Circa sportsbook manager Chris Bennett said with a chuckle.

Last Thursday, Circa opened at 40.5 for each game. The first wave of bets came in, all on the over in each game. In less than three hours, the totals on each game climbed into the 50s.

Three of the four Week 1 games went under the total.

For years, play-by-play announcers like Brent Musburger and Al Michaels slyly worked gambling references into broadcasts. "Some baskets are more meaningful than others," Musburger might say in regards to a basket that affected the spread. Michaels is known to describe a late score that pushes the game over the total as "overwhelming."

There were no veiled references, though, in the weekend's XFL games. Instead, announcers were overt, and the odds were front and center.

Point spreads and over/unders were displayed alongside the scores on the XFL broadcasts on ESPN and Fox, and advertisements for the sponsoring sportsbooks like Caesars and FoxBet popped up from time to time.

In the fourth quarter of the Seattle Dragons-D.C. Defenders game Saturday, ESPN color man Greg McElroy joked about the disappointment fans who bet the over must have felt when the Dragons elected to take points off the board after a running into the kicker penalty, only to squander the ensuing scoring opportunity by fumbling deep inside D.C. territory.

For many sports betting proponents, the odds-infused broadcasts were what they envisioned when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal statute in 2018, allowing states to decide whether to regulate gambling.

Joe Favorito, a longtime sports marketing consultant in New Jersey, was watching the St. Louis-Dallas game Sunday with his 21-year-old son, who asked what the "O/U 52.5" meant on the scoreboard on the bottom of the screen.

"[He] was casually following XFL and had no idea of the floating betting lines," Favorito told ESPN. "He assumed it was another deep dive into stats, not gambling. He figured it was similar to when 'SOG' appeared on a hockey scoreboard for shots on goal or when MLB suddenly added 'MV' for mound visits and 'PC' for pitch count to scoreboards. ... He became more engaged immediately."

At Caesars Sportsbook in Nevada, less than $10,000 total was bet on the point spread for the opening game between the Dragons and Defenders. It might not sound like a lot -- and compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars normally bet on NFL games, it's not -- but it was notable and was more than the amount bet on many of Saturday's college basketball games and even some NBA games.

"I think there's an interest, but it's just not something I think people have confidence to bet on yet, on the public side of things," Caesars senior oddsmaker Alan Berg said.

In New Jersey, sportsbook FanDuel said "20 times" as much money was bet on the first XFL game as was bet on the first game of the now defunct Alliance of American Football League. XFL betting increased from Saturday to Sunday by 55%, according to FanDuel.

The XFL believes it's only the beginning of the league's relationship to the sports betting industry, which unlike its predecessors, it has decided to embrace from the opening kickoff. The XFL has announced multiple betting partners, launched a new free-play gaming app (PlayXFL) and hired sports data company Genius Sports to provide integrity services.

"The XFL should be applauded for its proactive stance in engaging with the sports betting industry," Chris Dougan, spokesman for Genius Sports, said. "From its inception, the league has embraced best practices with operators and built strong relationships with the state regulators. By requiring all XFL players, coaches and officials to participate in our online integrity program, the league has made education a key pillar in preventing threats of betting corruption."

The two XFL games broadcast on ABC and ESPN averaged to 2.9 viewers. There was buzz on social media and at sportsbooks. The XFL is determined to make it last by, in part, being the most betting-friendly league in the U.S.

"For a lot of our fans," Pollack, the XFL's president said, "free-to-play gaming, fantasy and legal sports betting have become [as] essential to the football experience as the helmet, ball and jersey."

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All-in on gambling - XFL embracing betting from the get-go - ESPN

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Officers: 3 arrested in undercover Hall County gambling operation – FOX 5 Atlanta

Posted: at 11:00 pm

HALL COUNTY, Ga. - A Hall County investigation into illegal gambling has ended with the arrest of three suspectsat multiple stores around the county.

The three suspects were arrested during an undercover investigation into gambling in Hall County. (MANS Gang Task Force)

Officials say on Feb. 7, officers with the MANS Task Force, the Hall County Sheriff's Office, and the Georgia Lottery Corp. searched four businesses simultaneously looking for illegal video gambling machines.

The search operations were part of a multi-week undercover operation into gambling, officials said.

During the operation, police say they arrested three suspects at the businesses allegedly owned and operated by the men.

At the first location, Cafe Amigo on the 1500 block of Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville, officers say they arrested Jung Yop Choo and found nine video gambling machines, receipts, and other $4,700 in gambling proceeds.

Hall County deputies bust three business owners and charged them in connection to a gambling sting

The second location, Mercado El Sol on the 1800 block of Atlanta Highway in Gainesville, ended with the arrest of Jose Ulloa-Gonzalez and the seizure of over $6,000 in gaming proceeds. Officials also found three video gambling machines.

Officials arrested Navshadalia Momin at the third location, Little Giant Grocery on the 1900 block of Atlanta Highway. At this location, officers found four video gambling machines, receipts and over $6,200 in gambling proceeds.

Arrests are still pending at afourth location, Coin Laundry Lavanderia, at which officers found over $10,000 in gambling proceeds and four video gambling machines.

The three suspects are now booked into the Hall County Jail charged with commercial gambling and keeping a gambling place.

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Officers: 3 arrested in undercover Hall County gambling operation - FOX 5 Atlanta

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