Soccer-Winning FA Cup Would Be Ideal Preparation For Real Clash: Guardiola

Manchester City’s slim hopes of retaining their Premier League crown have gone but they still have two trophies in their crosshairs, manager Pep Guardiola said after the club reached the FA Cup semi-finals with a 2-0 win over Newcastle United.

As well as the Cup, City are also still in the hunt for the Champions League title and hold a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid from the away leg of their last 16 clash in February before the competition was suspended due to COVID-19.

Europe’s elite club competition will be completed with an eight-team mini-tournament held in Lisbon in August. The FA Cup semis will be held on July 18-19 and the final is scheduled for Aug. 1.

“We have two competitions we can win,” Guardiola told reporters on Sunday.

“It will be good to arrive against Real Madrid in the best condition. To win this title would be the best way to prepare for Madrid.”

Guardiola also said he was pleased with City’s response after last week’s 2-1 defeat at Chelsea handed Liverpool the Premier League title.

“We’re delighted after the defeat against Chelsea to be in London again at Wembley to play against Arsenal in the semi-final to try to reach the final of the FA Cup,” he added.

“Always it’s an incredible trophy and it gives us an extra bonus.”

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Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga Seasons: What You Need To Know, Day-by-day

The coronavirus pandemic caused sports around the world to be put on hold, with Europe’s top soccer leagues among them. Ligue 1 (France) and the Eredivisie (Netherlands) were among the competitions to abandon their seasons, but those to resume include the Premier League (England), La Liga (Spain), Serie A (Italy) and Bundesliga (Germany).

With games on a daily basis between now and August — when the Champions League and Europa League will restart — ESPN FC presents a one-stop shop for everything you need to know from across Europe.

Jump to previous days: June 21 | June 20 | June 19 | June 18 | June 17 | June 16 | June 15 | June 14 | June 13 | PreviewsSchedule, scores and standings

Fixtures: Daily match schedule | Premier League | La Liga | Serie A | BundesligaResults: Follow every game | Premier League | La Liga | Serie A | BundesligaTables: All leagues | Premier League | La Liga | Serie A | BundesligaStreaming on ESPN+ (U.S. Only)

LIVE games and replays | Serie A | FA Cup | Copa del Rey | DFB-Pokal | FC DailyWhat to read and watch: Reaction June 21

As the Premier League returned to action, Liverpool needed just two wins to secure their first league title in 30 years. They couldn’t pick up three points in a stalemate of a Merseyside derby at Everton, but the solitary point from their goalless draw inches the Anfield outfit that much closer to the crown. In Spain, Real Madrid’s win at Real Sociedad saw Los Blancos leapfrog Barcelona at the top of the table.

Ogden: Liverpool’s wait for the title goes on a little longerRatings: Azpilicueta 8/10 as Chelsea solidify their hold on fourthRatings: Mane 8/10 but Liverpool held goalless in Merseyside derbyReports: Inter close in on Serie A’s leading pair | Madrid go top with win at SociedadSarri: Ronaldo ‘not physically at his best right now’

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Steve Nicol explains why both Liverpool and Everton will be happy with a draw in their first game back.June 20

It has been a miserable return to Premier League action for Arsenal, who were beaten again and saw their injury curse strike once more. Borussia Dortmund secured second place in Germany thanks to dynamic displays from two young stars, while Spain’s big two are arguing about referees.

Ratings: Arsenal defence implodes in shock defeat at BrightonReports: Vitolo rescues Atleti | Leicester lapse | Lewandowski bracePetrosyan: How a youth team ended up playing a Russia league gameHaaland on teammate Reyna: “He’s the American Dream”Zidane refutes Pique claim that referees favour Real Madrid

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Steve Nicol says Bayern Munich’s Champions League match will be tough after a full month break.June 19

Manchester United saw promising signs from Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba as they came from behind to earn a point at Tottenham and the title race in Spain took a new twist as Barcelona were held to a draw at Sevilla, with Lionel Messi missing the chance to score his 700th career goal.

Olley: Fernandes picks up where he left off to save Man Utd at SpursRatings: Messi misses chance for 700 as Barcelona slip up at SevillaLowe: La Liga restarts with trouble for home teams and keepersInsider Notebook: Bellingham latest, contract crunch, Arteta’s hairSane to leave Manchester City after rejecting new contractFC Daily: Spurs and Man United draw; Barcelona drop vital points

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Steve Nicol says Man United’s first penalty was “100 percent” correct, despite Jose Mourinho’s criticisms.June 18

With Karim Benzema in prime form, Real Madrid strolled to victory over Valencia to stay just two points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona. Meanwhile, Chelsea confirmed the signing of Timo Werner from RB Leipzig and the fallout continued from Arsenal’s defeat at Manchester City.

Ratings: Benzema gets 9/10 for golazo, brace in Real winToe Poke: What we learned from Premier League’s returnKarlsen: Why Werner will settle quickly at ChelseaMarcotti: Bayern’s eighth title incredible and problematicLuiz future decided this week | Celta sign Sevilla’s NolitoFC Daily: Madrid close on Barca; Spurs-Man United preview

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Gab Marcotti disagrees with Maurizio Sarri’s use of Cristiano Ronaldo in Juventus’ defeat vs. Napoli.June 17

The Premier League resumed with goal-line technology controversy and Man City easing past woeful Arsenal. In Italy, Napoli claimed the Coppa Italia by beating Juventus on penalties, with Cristiano Ronaldo not even getting to take one. Perhaps he will win the Champions League final at home in Portugal?

Ogden: Familiar Prem feel as Man City impress, Arsenal implodeRatings: Arsenal’s 1/10 Luiz woeful | 8/10 De Bruyne stars for CityHighlights (U.S.): Napoli earn Coppa glory | Match replay | ReportReports: Dortmund woe | Atleti’s Felix stars | Villa Hawk-Eye farceGuardiola outspoken on racism | Premier League players kneelLisbon to host Champions League final, Europa League in GermanyFC Daily: Strong start for Man City; Napoli upset Juve in Coppa final

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Shaka Hislop says Juventus’ loss to Napoli exposed a variety of problems in Maurizio Sarri’s side.June 16

Just 31 days — and seven straight wins — after resuming their season, Bayern Munich sealed yet another German league title. In Spain, Ansu Fati and Lionel Messi ensured Barcelona stayed in control of La Liga. And get set for Wednesday, with Premier League resumption and Coppa Italia final.

Ogden: Premier League players set for tiring yearRatings: Messi makes sure Barcelona do enough vs. LeganesRichardson: Can Napoli deny Ronaldo and Juventus?Report: Bayern win eighth straight Bundesliga titleFC Daily: Bayern’s glory; looking ahead to the Coppa Italia final

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Gab Marcotti and Steve Nicol have varying opinions on how difficult Bayern’s Bundesliga dominance has been.June 15

The Premier League returns this week with support for Black Lives Matter, while Marcus Rashford is going above and beyond to help underprivileged children. The Champions League and Europa Leagues will not restart until August, but when it does, we can look forward to World Cup-style tournaments!

Marcotti: Zidane unhappy, Premier League and Black Lives MatterReport: Lisbon to host eight-team Champions League tournamentArteta feels positive about Aubameyang’s Arsenal futureRashford fights on for kids’ meals despite Prime Minister’s snubFC Daily: Bayern’s UCL prospects; Griezmann’s Barca impact

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Mark Ogden explains the crucial role Paul Pogba could play in Manchester United achieving a top four finish.June 14

Eden Hazard returned to action as Real Madrid responded to Barcelona’s emphatic victory with their own one-sided win against Eibar, but there was disappointment for cross-city rivals Atletico. And ahead of the Premier League’s resumption, Christian Pulisic was in friendly action for Chelsea.

Ratings: Ramos, Hazard star as Madrid close on BarcaReport: Atletico Madrid held in BilbaoMarcelo takes a knee, raises fist after scoringPulisic features in Chelsea friendly winFC Daily: Assessing the title race in La Liga

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Frank Leboeuf says Eden Hazard’s performance vs. Eibar is a positive sign for Real Madrid in the title race.June 13

La Liga champions Barcelona opened the scoring after two minutes and, with Lionel Messi in fine form, eased to victory at Mallorca. In Germany, champions-elect Bayern Munich moved within three points of the title, while Erling Haaland struck an injury-time winner for Borussia Dortmund.

Ratings: 9/10 Messi stars, Barcelona resume with easy victoryHighlights (U.S.): Napoli reach Coppa final | Match replay | ReportReports: Bayern leave it late | Haaland saves DortmundPSG manager Tuchel confirms Silva and Cavani will leaveFC Daily: Barcelona’s impressive return; Bayern edge closer

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Gab Marcotti lauds Christian Eriksen’s performance for Inter, but says Napoli’s defense was the difference.Get ready to resume: Preview content

Dawson: Liverpool’s title wait, Man United’s top four hopesMarcotti: Juventus, Lazio fight for Serie A glory in ItalyMarsden, Kirkland Barca, Madrid to resume title raceConnelly: Can anyone stop Bayern in the Bundesliga?Battle of the Leagues: Which competition is best?

Asian Art Museum To Remove Bust Of Patron. That’s Just A Start.

The museum’s recent original exhibitions include the popular “Lost at Sea: Art Recovered From Shipwrecks,” Philippine art — which Brundage never collected, art and electronic literature by Korean and American artists, as well as traditional arts from the National Palace Museum in Taipei.

Mark Johnson, an art professor at San Francisco State University, who has curated shows at the Asian Art Museum, said that while historically the museum was focused on a white perspective of Asian culture, it has made “incredible strides, diversifying its staff, board and curators,” adding that the curators are largely nonwhite.

The museum’s staff is 50 percent white, 27 percent Asian, 12 percent Latino and 7 percent black. (Some people identified as two or more races.) The board is about half Asian and Asian-American, and 73 percent of its curators are Asian and Asian mixed race. “We certainly recognize that there is always room for improvement,” Dr. Xu said.

Dr. Xu, responding to the Berkeley professor’s comment, said that in developing exhibitions, the museum does bring together scholars, community leaders and artists. “We’ve been working on decolonizing and creating a horizontal redistribution of power that can get at structural racism for years,” he said.

Mr. Tsuchitani and others praised the museum for appointing Abby Chen as head of contemporary art and senior associate curator in 2019, saying she comes from the Asian-American art community, but adding that the institution “still has a long ways to go,” he said.

But the museum is adapting to the changing climate.

This week it will offer an online reading of a theater piece about an African-American drag queen in San Francisco who in 1966 threw coffee in a police officer’s face, after he attempted an unwarranted arrest. That led to a riot, an early gay response to police harassment.

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California Inches Closer To Legalized Sports Betting

California has taken another step toward fixing its colossal budget deficit.

The California Senate Governmental Organization Committee voted to pass a bill that would legalize sports betting as a constitutional amendment on to the Senate Appropriation Committee. A hearing is scheduled for June 9.

Sen. Bill Dodd and Assemblyman Adam Gray, the duo who introduced the bill, played a key role in securing a 9-3 vote from Democrats on the committee.

The amendment could go a long way in helping the Golden State escape its estimated $54-billion-dollar hole in the budget.

If sports betting were to receive the green light in the state, it could make around $282 million in the first six months and $502 million in state taxes once the market grows, according to the Sacramento Bee and Eilers and Krejcik Gaming.

Dodd said he believes legalizing sports betting would bring the act into the light, allowing the state to capitalize financially on something that will likely take place regardless of its legality. Residents of California place at least an estimated $10 million in illegal bets each year, according to Courthouse News.

The bill would allow online sports betting and in-person betting to take place at tribal casinos and racetracks.

Despite the steps it has taken so far, there’s no guarantee that legalized betting makes its way to the biggest West Coast state in 2020.

For a constitutional amendment to find the ballot, it must receive a two-thirds vote from the legislature before racking up a majority vote during the statewide elections in November.

Tribes also played an adversarial role to the bill, believing cardrooms don’t deserve the increased gaming rights the bill would give them.

If sports betting does make it through, though, it could thrive in a state like California.

Not only does California boast 15 professional sports teams across the four biggest leagues in America, but it houses the nation’s largest state population at almost 40 million.

New Jersey, which boasts a population of about 8.8 million, has generated $62 million in tax revenue for the state over the last two years.

With non-sanctioned betting already taking place in the sports-crazed state, legalized sports betting could create one of the most successful markets since the Supreme Court struck down PASPA in 2018.

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Deadline For San Rafael Business Property Statements Extended

San Rafael, CA – The past two months have seen unprecedented disruption to daily routines, jobs, and operations of local government. Although many of its employees are working remotely, the Marin County Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk (ARCC) remains open during the COVID-19 pandemic and is determined to complete its constitutional responsibility.

The staffs of each ARCC division are ready to assist taxpayers and residents during this difficult time, even more since California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that extended the filing deadline for business property statements without penalty until May 31. Since the new deadline falls on a Sunday, the deadline is now officially Monday, June 1, for forms to be delivered to the Marin County Assessor’s Office. Businesses had faced a 10% penalty if they were unable to file by the initial May 7 deadline.

“We understand many businesses in all sectors are facing difficult decisions as we shelter in place,” said Shelly Scott, the Assessor, Recorder and County Clerk. “Since every little bit counts, we’d like to remind everyone that many of our services are available through our website, by mail, and by phone.”

California business property taxpayers are required to report their taxable business personal property with a combined value of $100,000 or more to assessors on an annual basis. Law requires that a 1% tax be applied to all business property valued (in total) of $5,000 or more.

Business personal property includes business equipment, supplies, as well as tangible assets such as printers, copiers, furniture, manufacturing and lab and restaurant equipment – everything but the land and the building. If a business has already filed, it stills has until May 31 to file amendments.

If you need assistance in preparing the statement, the Assessor’s Office can offer some tips. Questions can also be addressed by telephone at 415-473-7208 or email AssrPersProp@marincounty.Org with questions. The offices may be closed to the public, but the Assessor’s Office staff remain ready to help.

Visit the Assessor’s Office website for more information on filing requirements and resources. The office staff remains ready to assist taxpayers and answer questions. Public counters for all three divisions are closed during the pandemic, but residents may call the following numbers for staff assistance:

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Bundesliga Soccer To Resume On May 16 In Empty Stadiums Across Germany

BERLIN — The Bundesliga soccer season will resume on May 16 in empty stadiums, picking up right where it left off two months ago amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Everyone has to be clear. We’re playing on probation,” German soccer league managing director Christian Seifert said. “I expect everyone to live up to this responsibility. Our concept is designed to catch infections early.”

Seifert said the return of soccer was because of the success the country’s leaders and health officials have had in response to the outbreak.

Germany has had a high number of COVID-19 infections — nearly 170,000 by Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University — with about 7,000 deaths, a lower number compared to elsewhere.

Even with the NHL season suspended, we’ll send you Flyers analysis every Tuesday.

The country’s relative success in combating the virus has been attributed to early testing, a robust health service and strict lockdown measures that are now being loosened.

“That we’re allowed to play again boils down to German politics for managing this crisis, and the health system in Germany,” Seifert said. “If I were to name the number of tests that I was asked about in teleconferences with other professional leagues, with American professional leagues, with clubs from the NFL, the NHL, Major League Baseball and others, and I tell them how many tests are possible in Germany, they generally check, or there’s silence, because it’s just unimaginable in the situation over there.”

Only about a third of Germany’s massive testing capacity of almost 1 million a week is being currently used, said Lars Schaade, the deputy head of the Robert Koch Institute.

Though the French league has already been canceled, the Bundesliga’s return has given hope to soccer officials in Spain, Italy and England that they may yet also finish their seasons.

“I am confident that Germany will provide a shining example to all of us in how to bring football — with all its excitement, emotion and unpredictability — back into our lives,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said.

Seifert said the season will restart with the 26th round of games, including the Ruhr derby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke on the opening Saturday. That match will test local authorities who hope to keep groups of fans from gathering around the stadium or at bars to watch on television.

Pay-TV broadcaster Sky said it will show some games on the first two weekends for free in Germany.

Seifert, who was speaking in Frankfurt after a video conference with members from each club, warned that everyone involved will need to maintain strict hygiene measures to ensure another suspension will not be necessary.

The Bundesliga was suspended on March 13 with nine rounds remaining. Seifert said the last round is now planned for the weekend of June 27-28. He said the second division will also begin on May 16.

“The decision means economic survival for some clubs,” Seifert said.

Seifert said there have been 10 positive cases of COVID-19 in the first two waves of tests among the 36 professional clubs, with another two positive cases found in a third wave.

It was initially planned that teams would spend two weeks in quarantine before games could resume, but a compromise on shorter training camps in isolation for each team was reached because players have been undergoing regular tests.

Seifert said a decision on whether to temporarily allow five substitutions per match depends on FIFA rules. FIFA made the proposal to help players cope with game congestion but it is still subject to approval from the International Football Association Board, soccer’s law-making body.

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Amazon And NFL Renew ‘Thursday Night Football’ Streaming Deal — And Add One Saturday Game

A “Thursday Night Football” game as seen on Amazon Prime Video. (Amazon / NFL screen grab)

Sports fans missing baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer and just about anything else that should be in play right now are holding out hope for the return of football in the fall. And Amazon is right there with them, as the tech giant announced Wednesday that it will once again deliver the live digital stream for “Thursday Night Football.”

The National Football League and Amazon reached a multi-year agreement to renew their exclusive partnership, which brings 11 games broadcast by FOX on television to an audience watching on Prime Video and Twitch across a variety of sites, apps and devices.

Amazon said that makes the games available to 150 million paid Prime members in over 200 countries. The company took over streaming rights for “TNF” from Twitter in 2017.

The new deal brings with it the right to exclusively stream one regular season game globally on Prime Video and Twitch. That game will be played on a Saturday in the second half of the 2020 regular season — and will still be televised in the participating teams’ home markets.

“As our relationship has expanded, Amazon has become a trusted and valued partner of the NFL,” Brian Rolapp, chief media and business officer for the NFL, said in a news release. “Extending this partnership around ‘Thursday Night Football’ continues our critical mission of delivering NFL games to as many fans in as many ways as possible both in the United States and around the world.”

Amazon’s version of “TNF” on Prime Video and Twitch brings with it some unique interactive viewing features, such as X-Ray and Next Gen Stats powered by Amazon Web Services, which are intended to bring fans closer to the game.

AWS is the official cloud and machine learning provider for the Next Gen Stats platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play. AWS also helped power the recent — and entirely remote — NFL Draft.

Members watching on Prime can choose to watch the FOX broadcast, the FOX Deportes Spanish language coverage, and multiple other audio options.

“We know Prime members and the Twitch community around the world love the NFL, and we remain committed to giving them the best and most customizable streaming experience possible, with a broad selection of premium content available at their fingertips,” said Marie Donoghue, vice president of Global Sports Video at Amazon.

The average audience for “TNF” in 2019 was 15.4 million viewers. Digital streaming across Prime Video, Twitch, NFL digital, FOX Sports digital and Verizon Media mobile properties surpassed an average minute audience of over 1 million — up 43 percent from 2018.

The NFL streaming deal is part of Amazon’s growing video arm that includes the company’s Prime video library; its Amazon Studios production unit; and other sports-related live streaming deals.

Season five of the Amazon Original documentary series “All or Nothing,” produced by NFL Films, premiered in February with “All or Nothing: The Philadelphia Eagles,” exclusively on Prime Video.

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Match Poker Nations Cup Final To Be Contested Online Amid Pandemic

(Reuters) – The International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP) Nations Cup final on May 30 and 31 will be hosted online with most of the 14 participating countries still facing lockdowns due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the governing body said on Thursday.

Players will participate from their homes and a gameplay software will enable each member of every team to see and communicate with all of their table competitors while sessions are on.

They will also be allowed to speak with their team mates, captains, managers and analysts during breaks in play, although some contestants will experience early morning play while others will be participating during the evening or night.

“All international sports federations are facing enormous challenges due to the pandemic but we are fortunate that, with our gameplay software, we are able to play a ‘live’ event but in individual home locations,” IFMP president Patrick Nally said in a statement.

“The social relationships developed through the hosting of our Match Poker events are important to us and we’re looking forward to getting back to live events as soon as practical.

“But we will continue to support our international competition schedule in this manner until such times as our ‘sporting family’ can be reunited.”

Teams include world champions Ukraine, European champions Spain and Asian champions India among others while an invitational ‘Digital Nation’ team and a president’s pick will also be part of the tournament.

“Pennsylvania’s gaming industry is navigating waters that are unprecedented anywhere,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayPennsylvania.Com. “It’s an industry that employs thousands in Pennsylvania and generates millions of dollars in tax revenue, and it is not designed to be closed. Growth in online casinos is helping, but it can’t entirely make up for the revenue lost from sports betting and land-based casinos being shut down.”

With the sports world largely shuttered after March 11, Pennsylvania’s handle slumped to just $131.3 million for the month, according to official data released Thursday. That is down 60.2% from $329.8 million in February, though up from $44.5 million in March 2019, before online sports betting launched.

Coronavirus-related closures have limited books to futures betting and some international sports. March Madness alone would have attracted $100 million in bets at Pennsylvania sportsbooks, according to PlayPennsylvania estimates.

“The timing of the coronavirus shutdowns was particularly damaging to Pennsylvania sportsbooks, costing the industry millions in basketball-related bets,” Gouker said. “The first weekend of March Madness is the second-biggest sports betting event in the U.S., behind only the Super Bowl, and its cancellation leaves no feasible way to make up that revenue. Obviously, there are dramatic health and economic concerns for everyone right now, but the loss of revenue will be felt by Pennsylvania’s gambling industry for quite some time.”

$118.3 million, or 90.1%, of March’s handle came from online betting. FanDuel Sportsbook/Valley Forge Casino led online sportsbooks with $53.7 million in March wagers, down from $138.5 million in February. That yielded $2.8 million in taxable revenue. Rivers-Philadelphia led the retail market with a $2.3 million handle, down from $7.2 million in February, and produced $146,281 in revenue.

“The bottom line is that Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks will not be healthy again until the sports world begins to reopen,” Gouker said. “No one yet knows for sure when that day will come. But sports leagues everywhere are trying to figure out ways to begin games again, so there is at least some reason for some optimism.”

Online casinos and poker

Online casino games and poker generated a record $24.3 million in revenue, easily surpassing the record $19.5 million in revenue set in February. March’s gains yielded $5.9 million in state taxes.

Poker tallied $3.1 million in revenue, all by Mount Airy/PokerStars. Before New Jersey broke it in March, the all-jurisdiction record for poker revenue in a month was $3.1 million, set in October 2016 by New Jersey. Online casinos boosted monthly revenue to $21.1 million on $871.6 million in wagers.

“Pennsylvania’s online product has been slow to develop, but the revenue the industry is generating now is vital to the gaming industry and the state budget,” Gouker said. “Ideally, Pennsylvania’s online casino industry would’ve had the opportunity to mature more quickly. But it is definitely better than if it didn’t exist at all, as is the case in most states.”

Rivers-Philadelphia led the market with $6.8 million in revenue on $293.2 million in wagers. That is up from $4.8 million in revenue on $194.7 million in wagers in February.

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Casino’s Partnership Adds Sports Betting, Online Gaming

The casino launched its Gun Lake Casino Sportsbook and online gaming site last week, courtesy of its partnership with the Pennsylvania-based Parx Casino.

The Gun Lake Casino Sportsbook will allow bets on sports such as football, basketball, baseball, golf, hockey, soccer, boxing, mixed martial arts, tennis and more.

Sports bets will be placed at the new betting counter inside Stage 131 or self-serve kiosks located throughout Gun Lake Casino. 

“We are motivated to offer our casino guests and all Michigan residents, the ultimate first-time experience with these new entertainment offerings,” said Jose Flores, vice president and general manager for Gun Lake Casino. “We have strategically crafted our partnership with Parx Casino to allow a flawless and unsurpassed plan for our guests interested in sports betting and online gaming.” 

Parx Casino has sports betting and online gaming operations in New Jersey, as well.

“Parx Casino is thrilled to partner with Gun Lake Casino to power their online and retail sports betting business as well as online casino products,” said Matthew Cullen, senior vice president of interactive gaming and sports for Parx. “We’re excited to bring our expertise in effective, profitable customer acquisition and online product operation to the vast Michigan customer base.” 

Also last week, Gun Lake announced it will be temporarily closing due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The casino closed at 3 a.M. Monday and will remain closed until 9 a.M. March 30. All events and promotions scheduled during this time are canceled.

“Protecting the health and safety of our guests and team members is of utmost importance and our main priority,” said Sal Semola, president and chief operating officer for Gun Lake Casino. “While there is no requirement to close, we believe in doing our part to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”

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England Retains 4 Champions League Spots Despite City Ban

LONDON (AP) — England is still due to retain four Champions League participants next season regardless of Manchester City’s ban.

City is second in the Premier League but the Abu Dhabi-owned club was barred from European competition for two seasons by UEFA on Friday for masking money flows in an attempt to comply with Financial Fair Play rules.

The Premier League’s top four finishers are guaranteed automatic qualification places for the Champions League group stage that begins in September.

But City being banned does not prevent England taking up its full allocation of places for the elite competition. A country only loses a European spot when it is rejected by an eligible team.

“If a club refuses to enter the competition, having qualified for it on sporting merit and obtained a licence from the competent national body, no other club from the same association may be entered in its place,” the UEFA regulations state.

But if a club is either excluded or not allowed into the competition by UEFA, then the place goes to the next in line from that country.

That is what happened in Italy this season after AC Milan’s decision to voluntarily remove itself from the Europa League to pay for UEFA FFP breaches.

Milan finished fifth in Serie A last season, missing out on the Champions League places by one point.

It opened the way for Roma to enter the group phase of the Europa League after finishing sixth in Serie A, rather than having to go through qualifying. Torino, which finished seventh, took Roma’s spot in the qualifying rounds.

City is still hoping to overturn its Champions League ban, announcing plans Friday to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Matteo Scarpellini attended his first Atalanta game when he was only 10 months old. Carried by an uncle who wanted to “baptise” him in the club’s traditions, he was part of a crowd that saw them defeat Catanzaro 1-0 on the opening day of the 1975-76 Serie B season. He has followed the club devotedly ever since.

“If you’re born in Bergamo, you have to be Atalantino,” Scarpellini tells Bleacher Report. 

“My family is Atalanta, every one of the family. We live in an area where there are a lot of Inter and AC Milan fans, because Milan is pretty close. Also Juventus. But we teach the kids when they’re born to follow Atalanta. You have no choice—you have to be an Atalanta fan.”

They start them young in Bergamo, the northern Italian city that Atalanta call home. In an initiative launched by president Antonio Percassi following his return to the club in 2010, every infant born in the Lombardy city is sent a mini Atalanta replica kit along with two bottles of locally produced baby milk.

Hailing from a city with a population of only 122,000, Atalanta prides itself on being a family club, but it is also welcoming to outsiders, as the legion of overseas supporters who have fallen for the rustic charms of the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia over the years can testify.

“We have a really good network of international fans,” says Nigel Mannering, an Atalanta fan from Portsmouth in southern England. “There’s all the Italians and the guys in Bergamo, but we have fans in Norway, we have fans in Poland, in Ireland, there’s French fans, there’s a couple of Germans, there’s Dutch. We’ve all kind of mingled and got to know each other.”

Conor Clancy, an Irish football journalist and Atalanta supporter who lives in Parma, recalls seeing his bewildered father being embraced by a couple of jubilant locals on the Curva Nord following a late winner against Inter Milan in October 2016.

“It’s one of those experiences that sticks with you,” Clancy says. “There’s a real family feel.”

Since Gian Piero Gasperini took over as head coach in the summer of 2016, Atalanta’s homely charms have given way to something altogether more spectacular. Despite operating on a shoestring budget compared to Serie A’s biggest clubs, La Dea (“The Goddess”) qualified for the UEFA Champions League last season for the first time in the club’s history, having previously ended a 27-year wait for European football by making it into the UEFA Europa League in 2017.

In their maiden Champions League campaign, they became the first team since Newcastle United in 2002-03 to progress from the competition’s group phase after losing their first three matches. Gasperini’s free-scoring side face Valencia in the first leg of their last 16 tie on Wednesday, and for supporters raised on a steady diet of relegation scraps and early cup exits, it is all taking a bit of getting used to.

“It is really hard to explain just how much this run means,” says Clancy. “With every game, the fans are pinching themselves and going, ‘Is this really happening?’ The way they managed to go through just adds to the dream-like nature of it. It doesn’t quite seem real and it hasn’t seemed real for the last three or four years.”

Atalanta secured their place in this season’s competition with a 3-1 win over Sassuolo on the final day of last season. For a club that has been relegated to Serie B and promoted back three times in the 21st century, it was a scarcely believable achievement. For Scarpellini, it had even deeper meaning.

“I have a very strong memory, even a bit sad, because it was the last time I saw my close friend Tito,” he says. “Eleven days later, he died of a heart attack aged 53. I remember hugging him after the game. We were crying—almost everyone was crying. It was a dream come true. I was hugging him and saying, ‘We’re in the Champions League, Tito! I can’t believe it!’

“That feeling, supporters of the top teams can’t realise how beautiful it is. Because they are used to it. When you are a supporter of a small club and for some reason you achieve something big like this, you lose yourself. If you support a small club, all the terraces become your friends. More than friends—they’re family.”

Matchday 1: Dinamo Zagreb 4-0 Atalanta

Drawn alongside Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta were the only team in Group C not to have won their national championship the previous season. Few teams relish a visit to Dinamo’s intimidating Stadion Maksimir, but none of the Atalanta fans who made the trip to the Croatian capital for their team’s first-ever Champions League game could have anticipated quite how uncomfortable an evening it would prove to be.DAMIR SENCAR/Getty Images

The visitors were 3-0 down at half-time and conceded a fourth goal when Mislav Orsic tucked away his hat-trick goal in the 68th minute. After the dizzy highs of the previous three years, their maiden Champions League campaign began with a brutal reality check.

“Atalanta got stage fright,” says Eirik Stangnes, an Atalanta fan from northern Norway who has come to consider Bergamo his “second home”. “They weren’t prepared for it. They got absolutely battered.”

Matchday 2: Atalanta 1-2 Shakhtar Donetsk

Obliged to play their home games at San Siro because of renovation work at their own stadium, Atalanta scored their first Champions League goal courtesy of Duvan Zapata’s 28th-minute header, only for things to fall apart again.

Junior Moraes equalised for Shakhtar before half-time and then, with Atalanta flooding forward in search of a winner, Gasperini’s men were hit with a sucker punch in the fifth minute of stoppage time when Dodo played in fellow substitute Manor Solomon to smuggle home the winner.VINCENZO PINTO/Getty Images

“It was an absolute sickener,” recalls English fan Mannering. “Given the way the first game had gone, then you concede a goal with literally the last kick of the game to lose the second game. Knowing that we’d got Man City home and away to come after that, I basically felt that was it. We were out.”

Matchday 3: Manchester City 5-1 Atalanta

Ruslan Malinovskyi’s 28th-minute penalty fleetingly nourished hope of an upset among the Atalanta supporters at the Etihad Stadium, but a quickfire Sergio Aguero brace allowed the home side go in 2-1 up at half-time, and Raheem Sterling’s second-half hat-trick put the game to bed in emphatic fashion.Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

At the halfway stage in the group, Atalanta were rock bottom with no points from their first three matches, only two goals scored and no fewer than 11 conceded. Since the Champions League’s second group phase was scrapped in 2003, no team had ever progressed to the knockout phase after losing their first three matches. But the remarkable durability that Atalanta have displayed under Gasperini meant that not all of their supporters were prepared to abandon hope just yet.

“Given what’s happened in the last few years, there’s never the feeling that anything’s dead with this team,” says Clancy. “You can never write them off.”

Matchday 4: Atalanta 1-1 Manchester City

With 42 minutes on the clock in Atalanta’s return fixture against City, their Champions League goose looked well and truly cooked. Sterling had given City an early lead and after Josip Ilicic was penalised for handball, Gabriel Jesus stood poised to double the visitors’ lead from the penalty spot.MIGUEL MEDINA/Getty Images

But the Brazilian fluffed his lines, hopelessly scuffing his spot-kick wide of the left-hand post, and four minutes into the second half, Mario Pasalic headed in an equaliser from Papu Gomez’s cross. With Shakhtar scoring twice in stoppage time to snatch a 3-3 draw at Dinamo in the other group game, it gave Atalanta a fighting chance of squeezing into the last 16.

“When Gabriel Jesus missed the penalty was a very important moment,” says Andrea Mastrovito, a Bergamo-born artist and Atalanta die-hard who regularly flies in from New York to watch his team’s matches. “Maybe the most important moment. The whole stadium felt that we could do it. Everything changed in that moment.”

Matchday 5: Atalanta 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb

Atalanta had to beat Dinamo in their penultimate match and hope Shakhtar failed to win at City to stand any chance of going through to the knockout phase. They claimed their first Champions League victory thanks to goals in each half from Luis Muriel and Gomez, while Shakhtar came away from the Etihad with a 1-1 draw. Against all probability, it was still on.MIGUEL MEDINA/Getty Images

“With the 2-0 win against Dinamo Zagreb, it was like Europe was really seeing what Atalanta were about,” says Clancy. “They had big momentum going away to Ukraine for the last game. That’s when the belief really took off.”

Matchday 6: Shakhtar Donetsk 0-3 Atalanta

Half an hour from the end of their final group game in Kharkiv, with the score goalless, Atalanta were heading out and Shakhtar were going through. The fates seemed to be conspiring against the away side when Timothy Castagne’s close-range effort in the 66th minute was ruled out for offside, but a millimetric VAR review overturned the decision, sparking delirium among the visiting supporters.SERGEI SUPINSKY/Getty Images

After Dodo was sent off for catching Remo Freuler in the face with his hand, Atalanta rubberstamped their wholly improbable passage to the last 16 with late goals from Pasalic and Robin Gosens. Back home in Bergamo, thousands of fans streamed to the airport to await their returning heroes.

“Everybody who was in Bergamo went to the airport to wait for the players to come back,” says Scarpellini. “You can imagine: fireworks everywhere, smoke. It was amazing. It was a night you had to be there.”

Having travelled to Ukraine to watch the match among Atalanta’s ultras, Mastrovito arrived back in Bergamo a couple of hours after the squad had passed through the airport.

“We arrived in Bergamo at five in the morning,” he says. “I also had jet lag, so I didn’t want to go to sleep. I was so excited. I waited for the newspaper store to open and I bought all of the newspapers. I had a very big, beautiful breakfast in the most beautiful bar in town and then I went to bed at 10 in the morning. I put all of the newspapers on the floor in my room so that when I woke up, I’d understand that it hadn’t just been a dream.”

Round of 16: Atalanta v Valencia

The draw for the round of 16 could have provided Atalanta with more glamorous opposition than a hit-and-miss Valencia side, but the feeling among the club’s fans is that it offered their team the best possible chance of continuing their Champions League adventure. “Valencia are a very good side, but we can do something,” says Scarpellini.

Yet while Gasperini and his players can harbour realistic ambitions of reaching the quarter-finals, there seems little danger of anybody within their fanbase losing perspective.

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