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Robert Simmons

Robert Simmons

News | Press Releases
1st June
DraftKings makes its first sports betting deal

US daily fantasy sports operator DraftKings, has announced the agreement of a licensing partnership with Resorts Casino Hotel, Atlantic City, a move which will eventually see the company offer an online sports betting product throughout the US state of New Jersey.

In February, DraftKings began expanding its operations into sports betting, in preparation for any potential Supreme Court decision on PASPA, opening an office in Hoboken, New Jersey and recruiting its first Head of Sportsbook, Sean Hurley.

Earlier this month, hot on the heels of the Supreme Court decision, the company announced that it would enter the sports betting market and now it seems the die is cast on that decision, with the company firmly planting its flag in New Jersey.

Under proposed New Jersey regulations, online sports betting company’s can only operate in New Jersey under licence from an existing operator, criteria in which DraftKings has now satisfied with this deal.

Speaking about the company’s first foray into the sports betting arena, Jason Robins, CEO and Co-Founder of DraftKings said :“We are excited to work with Resorts Hotel Casino to bring our new DraftKings sportsbook to New Jersey.

“As a tech savvy and a long-term growth oriented organisation, Resorts Hotel Casino aligns perfectly with our customer-focused, innovation culture.”

Once state laws concerning sports betting have been officially ratified, DraftKings has confirmed that they will commence with the launch of a sports betting app along with an accompanying web-based platform.

Morris Bailey, owner of the Resorts Casino Hotel added: “We are at a pivotal moment in the development of sports betting in the U.S.

“We are delighted to be able to have DraftKings utilise our gaming license in New Jersey. DraftKings continues to be at the forefront of sports entertainment innovation, and today’s announcement is the first step in being able to offer customers in New Jersey the most dynamic sports betting platform.”

1st June
Deadlock broken in Connecticut casino dispute?

There may be light at the end of the tunnel for the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes’ long standing efforts to build a third casino in East Windsor, Connecticut as the US Department of the Interior (DOI)is reportedly set to approve the revised compact agreement between the tribes and the state.

Development of the third casino property, a joint venture between the two tribes was initially approved in state law when the Public Act 17-89, An Act Concerning the Regulation of Gaming and the Authorisation of a Casino Gaming Facility in the State, was signed off by Connecticut governor Dannel P.Malloy in June 2017.

However, since then, the tribes have suffered delay after delay in their efforts to get going, despite strong support from the state. The chief antagonists for the tribes and the state have been the DOI, who have repeatedly delayed issuing their consent to the revised agreement and MGM Resorts, who opposed the casino development on the grounds that it would draw custom away from their own MGM Springfield development being built in nearby Massachusetts.

The state government of Connecticut has been steadfast in its support of the tribes, most notably in December when the state in conjunction with the tribes launched a lawsuit against the DOI over its delays.

The issue of compact ratification has been further complicated by MGM Resorts, who have repeatedly lobbied in the state and indeed the courts to have the agreement torn up, but to no avail.

In September, fresh from its latest defeat in the courts, MGM Resorts submitted an unsolicited $675m tender to build a casino in Bridgeport, Connecticut and has undertaken a significant advertising and lobbying campaign emphasising the benefits of the casino development to the state.

Last month, a delegation acting on behalf of the tribes and state requested an investigation into the DOI’s failure to ratify the compact agreement by the Inspector General. Concerns were raised over the influence of MGM Resorts on the DOI’s decision to delay.

One of the members of the Connecticut congressional delegation, Senator Richard Blumenthal gave voice to the frustrations felt by both parties: “We have requested meetings. We’ve submitted letters. We have never been given any sort of access to a meeting.”

“They basically stonewalled us. And at the same time, they sent copies of certain correspondence to the Nevada congressional delegation. There is a paper trail here that is very troubling.”

It now appears that this investigation has greased the wheels at the DOI, which will reportedly make an official announcement confirming ratification of the revised compact later today.

Speaking on behalf of the Mohegan Tribe and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation’s MMCT Venture, spokesperson Andrew Doba, told the Hartford Courant: “We are pleased that the department is taking this step, and we expect a similar action on the Mashantucket Pequot tribal amendments in the very near future. Today’s decision is the latest step in the overall goal to preserve thousands of good paying jobs and millions in tax revenue.”

This DOI announcement would satisfy the legislatory conditions set out by the Public Act, paving the way for the tribes to move forward with the development and potentially casting the future of the MGM Bridgeport development into doubt.

 

 

 

 

31st May
Intralot reveals latest figures amid US expansion plans

Worldwide online gaming and sports betting supplier Intralot has released its first set of financial results for 2018, revealing growth in all key verticals.

In its report, the company detailed Q1 2018 revenues of $327.8m (€280.7m), a year-on-year rise of 4.3% on the $314.1m (€269m) reported during the same period of 2017.

Gross gaming revenues also increased during the period, rising by 2.5% year-on-year from a Q1 2017 figure of $161.2m (€138.1m) to a Q1 2018 high of $165.2m (€141.5m).

Adjusted EBITDA and EBITDA also enjoyed year-on-year rises during the quarter, rising by 7.5% and 1.9% respectively, while net income after tax and minority interest from continuing operations also rose, albeit more modestly by 1.6% year-on-year.

Drilling down into individual gaming segments, sports betting was the largest contributor to Intralot’s revenue, contributing 58.9% of the company’s revenue.

This was closely followed by lottery games, which contributed 29.7% of its revenue, with contracts for technology contributing 6.2%. Revenues from video lottery terminals and racing round out the contributions to company total revenue, contributing 2.8% and 2.4% respectively during the quarter.

Earnings before tax decreased by 5% year-on-year to $15.3m (€13.2m) from a Q1 2017 figure of $16.2m (€13.9m).

It has been a busy period for Intralot, most notably in its lottery operations, with the group signing a new multi-year contract extension with the Illinois state lottery in February, with the proviso to install technology in over 7,500 retail locations throughout the state. A further contract extension was penned with the Wyoming Lottery later on in February.

Speaking about the positive growth, Antonios Kerastaris, group chief executive at Intralot, said: “The 2018 Q1 results show stronger sales and continuing growth in developed markets, reflecting increasingly successful market development efforts along with an upgrade of our offering with next generation products and services for lotteries digital transformation.”

Given its current exposure in the American lottery market, Intralot has the existing relationships to expand into sports betting operations in the US.

Addressing this potential, Kerastaris added: “Emphasis remains on growth in markets such as the United States where the recent lift of the federal ban on sports betting creates tremendous business opportunities from the rise of a potential €20bn market in annual GGR terms, on top of great prospects in new flagship projects such as the Illinois State Lottery.”

31st May
Pennsylvania takes first steps in sports betting regulation

Representatives from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board have passed the first set of temporary regulations concerning sports betting, in a meeting on Wednesday.

The main purpose in approving these regulations is to give the states casinos the impetus to apply for licences to operate sports betting. Under regulations, category 1-3 casinos can apply for a ‘Sports Betting Certificate’ at a cost of $10m, allowing them to physically set up their sports books.

Any operators wishing to apply for sports betting certificates must first illustrate that they have the appropriate financing required to run a sports book, the ability and experience to do it together with illustrating that appropriate security systems are in place. Additionally, interested casino groups can also apply for an interactive license, allowing them to conduct mobile sports betting in the state.

Upon receipt of a completed application the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has 120 days to conduct required background checks and infrastructure reviews needed to issue a licence. Under regulations sports book facilities must be physically connected to the casino’s gaming floor in order to qualify for licensing protocols.

With so many states across the US now rushing to get sports betting up and running, the race is on to be the first to operate legalised sports betting and get a jumpstart on the market. With the NFL season starting in September the timing has never been more crucial.

Addressing this need, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board spokesman Doug Harbach championed a more cautious approach, saying “We intend to move as quickly as possible, but at the same time remember that our role is to protect the public, so we're not going to unleash sports betting in the Commonwealth until we have this right."

Interestingly, no mention is made in the regulations of the so called category 4 ‘mini casinos’ which has been so successful in generating initial licensing revenue for the state. This may change. However, if Pennsylvania commences with the second round of licence auctions for the remaining five mini casino licences currently up for grabs.

The chief beneficiaries of the temporary regulations would most likely be the SugarHouse Casino, Parx Casino and Harrah’s in Philadelphia, Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and Penn National’s Hollywood Casino, all of which have the knowhow and financial clout to make sports betting a reality.

30th May
American Gaming Association outlines US sports betting stance

The American Gaming Association (AGA) has set out its priorities for sports betting in the US, issuing an open letter to the US Congress.

It has also confirmed that it will oppose any attempts by congress to create federal legislation concerning the legalisation of sports betting in the US, expressing its preference for a state-by-state approach to regulation and adoption, which it believes is better for its members.

Businesses, state governments and industry stakeholders everywhere are still coming to terms with the Supreme Court’s decision to permit legalised sports betting in New Jersey earlier this month, a move which effectively struck down the legal authority of the Professional and Amateur Sports Participation Act (PASPA).

It is a land of confusion that has led to some operators making big leaps into the US sports betting market while others have chosen to hold their collective breath. Into this breach steps the AGA, outlining its five priorities in its lobbying efforts in sports betting adoption.

Among these are to empower state regulation, place the welfare of consumers at the top of the agenda by promoting responsible gaming & responsible advertising, encouraging the use of contracts between sporting bodies & their gaming industry counterparts and strengthening game integrity by ‘rigorous sports betting regulation’.

Speaking about the need for state level regulation and adoption over federal legislation, the AGA said: “In the wake of the Court’s ruling, some have called for Congress to enact a federal framework to regulate sports betting.

“The AGA believes this is unwise, unnecessary and out of step with public sentiment indicating 7 in 10 Americans think this decision should be left to each state, not the federal government.”

A problem for the US Congress is that if it intervenes and drafts federal legislation concerning sports betting adoption it opens itself up to a second legal challenge from states over the constitutionality of such legislation.

The AGA added: “The regulations currently in place in every jurisdiction already address issues like age restrictions, record keeping requirements and licensing and suitability determinations, among others. On top of that, the gaming industry is already subject to stringent federal anti-money laundering regulations and has a strong record of compliance in that area.”

Buoyed by the rising tide of pro-sports betting sentiment pervading the US gaming industry, the AGA’s letter also asks Congress to re-evaluate the existing 1951 excise tax on sports betting.  Initially instituted at a higher amount, the state of Nevada successfully sued to have this reduced to a tax of 0.25% of the total handle of all bets placed to go back to the Federal government.

Justifying its call to re-evaluate, the AGA adds that this tax ‘hinders the ability of the legal market to compete with illegal operations that do not pay any taxes.’      

29th May
MGM Resorts expands into New York with $850m acquisition

Worldwide casino and resort developer MGM Resorts International has announced the agreement of a deal to acquire the Empire City Casino in Yonkers, New York for a fee of $850m.

Under the terms of the deal, MGM Resorts and its property development company MGM Growth Properties have entered into an agreement where the latter business will acquire Empire City Casino from MGM Resorts before leasing it back to an MGM Resorts subsidiary, which will then operate the property.  

The property will be added to the lease agreement that currently exists between MGM Resorts and MGM Growth Properties, with the annual rent payment to MGM Growth properties increasing by $50m annually.

This deal includes the complete refinancing of Empire City’s outstanding debts, at a cost of $245m, while at the same time MGM Resorts will finance approximately $260m of the remaining costs via the issuing of new stocks in MGM Resorts.

MGM Resorts will pay a further $50m consideration if the Empire City casino receives a licence to operate live table games from the New York State Gaming Commission on or prior to 31 December 2022 or additionally if MGM Resorts, in its capacity as leaseholder accepts the licence by 31 December 2024.

MGM Growth Properties has confirmed that it will fund the acquisition and its associated transactions via a combination of existing cash, borrowings under its senior secured revolving credit facility, and the aforementioned issuance of MGM Growth Properties shares to the MGM Resorts subsidiary.

Issuing a statement on the company’s website, Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International said: “We are excited to announce the addition of Empire City to the MGM Resorts portfolio.

“This acquisition represents an excellent opportunity to further solidify our presence on the East Coast, and in particular, expand our reach into the high-density New York City region. We believe this transaction enhances our free cash flow profile and presents attractive future opportunities for the Company, and we look forward to welcoming the Empire City team and guests to the MGM Resorts family.”

Empire City encompasses a 97-acre property and racetrack with 5,200 slots and electronic table games, multiple dining outlets, and both live and simulcast horse racing. During the last year, the company reported over $230m in net revenues and almost $70m in adjusted EBITDA.

James Stewart, CEO of MGM Growth Properties, added: “This acquisition will further increase our regional geographic footprint, giving MGM Growth Properties exposure to the New York City market, with another high-quality asset that will create meaningful value to shareholders and provide us with increased cash flows and growth opportunities.”

29th May
Nevada top executives paid $145m in 2017

Executives from some of the top gambling firms in Nevada were paid over $145.7m during 2017, according to financial research group Equilar and the Associated Press.

Former Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn topped the remuneration charts, netting over $34,522,695 in cash and stock based remuneration during 2017. Wynn has since left Wynn Resorts, liquidating his entire shareholding following a well publicised sexual misconduct scandal.

Multi-billionaire owner of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Sheldon Adelson came in second to Wynn, receiving over $26m in remuneration during last year. Las Vegas Sands operates the Venetian, Palazzo and the Sands Expo hotels in Las Vegas together with six other resorts in Asia.

In the bronze medal position was Caesars Entertainment Corporation CEO Mark Frissora, who received almost $24m in remuneration during 2017. Caesars exited chapter 11 bankruptcy in October following a protracted process that saw them write off over $24bn in toxic debt.

MGM Resorts International CEO, James Murren, rounds out the list of double-digit million dollar executive remuneration, netting over $14.58m during 2017.

IGT’s CEO Marco Sala and Boyd Gaming CEO Keith Smith were awarded $9.86m and $8.59m respectively, while Scientific Games CEO Kevin Sheehan took home over $8.1m during 2017.

Penn National Gaming CEO Timothy Wilmott was awarded $7.18m in remuneration during 2017. Wilmott has overseen Penn’s multi-billion acquisition of fellow gaming firm Pinnacle Entertainment, in a $2.8bn deal, which completed in December 2017.

Of the smaller casino operators, Red Rock’s Richard Haskins leads the way, receiving over $5.12m in remuneration during 2017, while Golden Entertainment’s Blake Sartini and Elderado Resorts’ Gary Carano were paid $4m and $3.95m respectively.

The Equilar report analysed the salaries of 339 CEO’s of some of the biggest US based companies, of which only 17 were female, meaning that men still account for 95% of America’s top  CEO’s. America’s highest paid CEO was Hock Tan, CEO of communications company Broadcom, who received $103.2m in remuneration during 2017.

25th May
New Jersey rubs salt into NCAA wounds with $150m lawsuit

Fresh from its victory in the Supreme Court last week, representatives from the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NJTHA) have filed a lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), claiming it cost the states racetracks almost $150m  in revenue by blocking the legalisation of sports betting.

In its lawsuit the NJTHA claims that the leagues acted ‘in bad faith’ by seeking a restraining order to block New Jersey’s Monmouth Park Racetrack from offering sports betting in 2014.

It alleges that the NCAA acted inappropriately in seeking a permanent injunction to bar the racetrack from offering sports betting, especially since the professional leagues were actively endorsing and promoting daily fantasy sports businesses at the same time. The injunction against Monmouth was granted in November 2014.

The NJTHA lawsuit claims that if it had been allowed to offer sports betting from November 2014 onwards, it would have made over $139m in revenue which was lost as a result of the ban.

New Jersey’s former governor Chris Christie signed a statute permitting sports betting at the state’s casinos and racetracks in 2014, only for that statute to be questioned legally in an action which culminated in a Philadelphia-based 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the statute violated PASPA in August 2016.

As one of the plaintiffs in the resulting Supreme Court case, the NJTHA has been invested in getting PASPA repealed since the very beginning and now fresh from its victory, the NJTHA is undoubtedly turning the screw on its former opponent.

The lawsuit also states that “During the intervening years the Leagues' actions nearly put Monmouth Park out of business, inflicted significant financial and emotional hardship on hundreds of innocent Monmouth Park workers, and jeopardized the continued viability of New Jersey's entire equine industry.”

Its suit also asks for payment of a $3.4m bond secured by the NCAA and professional leagues to cover any losses incurred while the ban was in effect as well as other damages which have yet to be determined.

No comment has been made by the NCAA or any of the other professional sporting associations regarding the lawsuit at this time.

24th May
Washington DC considers sports betting legalisation

Lawmakers from Washington D.C. have become the latest to discuss the issue of sports betting legalisation following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn PASPA as unconstitutional last week.

Keen to follow their judicial colleagues from around the US, officials have said that ‘everything is on the table’, as the state considers how best to legalise sports betting for its residents.

Speaking about the potential for sports betting to the Washington Post, Washington D.C council member Jack Evans said: “Virtually every state in the country has gambling, and many of them have casino gambling, and for Congress to say you can’t have gambling in the District of Columbia when virtually every jurisdiction has gambling now would be completely hypocritical, so I don’t think that’s a stumbling block either. So I think we can do what we think is best for the city.”

Sports betting has been illegal in Washington D.C. since the start of the 20th century, with Washington’s criminal code stating that it is illegal “to bet, gamble, or make books or pools on the result of any trotting race or running race of horses, or boat race, or race of any kind, or on any election or any contest of any kind, or game of baseball”.

Amendments to the code over the intervening years have widened the scope of this ban to include football, baseball, softball, basketball, hockey, polo, tennis, golf, wrestling, boxing, horse racing, greyhound racing, or any other athletic or sporting event or contest.

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, the number of states and districts considering sports betting or preparing regulations to bring sports betting into force has increased exponentially. Many states which have not actively pursued these aims may now be forced to as a way of keeping up with their neighbours, but also more importantly as a way of increasing their financial revenues.

Evans added: “I think the world today is a vastly different world than it was even 10 years ago for gambling in the District of Columbia. Anytime there was any talk of casino gambling in the District of Columbia, it was very strongly opposed, largely by the religious community.

“Fast-forward 15, 20 years, the world is different. Maryland has a casino less than a mile away from the District of Columbia in the MGM Grand and Maryland is rife with gambling everywhere. So the idea of religious institutions being opposed, I think, is long gone now, certainly in Maryland.”

A potentially significant wrinkle in this debate is that 18 square miles in the District, roughly 29% of the cities total land area is federal land, where under which gambling is expressly prohibited.

24th May
Aristocrat revenues up 28.5% during H1 2018

Australian land-based and online gaming supplier Aristocrat Leisure has revealed a 28.5% year-on-year rise in its revenue for the six months up to 31 March 2018

In its first financial report of the year, the company revealed revenues of $ 1.19bn, surpassing the $927.1m reported during the same period in 2017.

Operating revenues increased by 33.6% year-on-year, rising to $ 1.23bn, while company EBITDA also grew, rising by 28.9% to $366m during the same period in 2018.

Company profits after tax grew, albeit more modestly by 2.8% year-on-year from a H1 2017 high of $188.4m to $193.6m in 2018. Net profits after taxation, depreciation and amortisation rose by 12.7% year-on-year to $232.1m during the same period.

Among the company’s 2018 highlights has been a marked increase in its North American market share, typified by a 19% increase in its number of class III gaming equipment, which rose to 18,304 units during the period.

In addition the number of class II machines operated by the company increased by 4.6%, rising to 22,996 units in operation across the US.

Drilling down into individual segments, Aristocrat’s digital operations proved to be the biggest winner during the period, reporting a 220.7% year-on-year rise in revenues, which grew to $417.3m.

Revenues from its American segment rose by 6.9% year-on-year to $577.3m, while revenues in Aristocrats home market of Australia grew modestly by 1.9% during the period, rising to $162.2m.

23rd May
Paddy Power Betfair agrees FanDuel acquisition

UK and Ireland sports betting operator Paddy Power Betfair has announced the signing of an agreement to combine its US business with US daily fantasy sports operator FanDuel.

Under the agreement, Paddy Power Betfair will contribute its existing US assets along with a cash contribution of $158m. The company has confirmed that this cash contribution will be used to pay down existing FanDuel debts, which amounted to $76m at 31 March 2018 and fund working capital of the combined business.

Upon completion of the transaction, Paddy Power Betfair will own 61% of the combined business, with existing FanDuel investors owning 39%.

All current FanDuel investors will continue their investment in the combined business with a further proviso to take the Paddy Power Betfair’s ownership of the business to 80% after three years and 100% after five years.

Additionally, as part of the deal Paddy Power Betfair will have operational control of the business, which will become a fully consolidated subsidiary following completion. Paddy Power Betfair also has the right to appoint the CEO and a majority of the Board of Directors of the acquired business.

FanDuel has over 40% market share of the US daily fantasy sports market, with 7 million registered customers across 40 states. In 2017, it had revenue of $124m and 1.3 million active customers.

Speaking about the acquisition, Peter Jackson, CEO of Paddy Power Betfair, commented: "We are excited to add FanDuel to the Group's portfolio of leading sports brands. This combination creates the industry's largest online business in the US, with a large sports-focused customer base and an extensive nationwide footprint.

“The Group has leading sports betting operating capabilities globally and strong operations on the ground in the US. Together with our substantial financial firepower, we believe we are now well placed to target the prospective US sports betting opportunity."

The move comes less than a week after the US Supreme Court voted to endorse the state of New Jersey’s right to offer sports betting within its borders, a move which opens the door for sports betting legalisation across the US.

Matt King, CEO of FanDuel, added: “We are excited to bring these two great businesses together. The combination of brands and team, along with a shared culture and vision for the future, creates the leading gaming destination for US sports fans.”

The transaction is subject to customary regulatory and anti-trust reviews under US law, but is expected to complete in Q3 2018.

23rd May
Vietnam changing course on casino development incentives

Politicians in Vietnam are reportedly set to discuss proposals today that would scrap previously agreed taxation incentives for casino operators undertaking developments in some of the country’s special economic zones, according to reports in the VnExpress newspaper.

There are four main special economic zones: Van Don in Quang Ninh Province in the north of Vietnam, Bac Van Phong in Khanh Hoa Province and Phu Quoc in Kien Giang Province in the south.

The Vietnamese government had previously agreed to grant a 100% tax reduction for developers in the special economic zones for the first four years of operation of any subsequent casino built there.

A further 50% tax reduction will be applicable in the next five years, before reducing to a 10% reduction for another 21 years. After this period expires, casinos would be taxed at standard levels.

The move comes amidst criticism from delegates of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly that the tax incentives being offered are far too generous, leading to the drafting of a revised law reducing them.

Under the new proposals developers would pay preferential corporate income tax of 17% from the first day of opening to the end of the first five years of operation together with a higher excise tax, which is set at 15% for the first 10 years.  The current corporate tax rate in Vietnam varies between 20% and 22%.

In addition, plans for unlimited exemptions on leases linked to land plots and waterfront would be scrapped. Instead, new exemptions would apply that do not exceed half the leases of each casino project. The only exception to this is in the Van Don and Phu Quoc special economic zones, which are limited to 30 and 20 years respectively.

23rd May
Thirteen casinos targeted in Cyprus money laundering probe

Lawmakers from Turkey have launched an investigation into 13 casinos based in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as a part of a wider investigation into alleged money laundering and illegal betting.

Prosecutors in the southern city of Gaziantep have ordered the confiscation of over $100m in funds linked to suspected money launderers following an earlier investigation by the Board of Investigation on Financial Crimes which revealed that a number of casinos were involved in the transfer of large amounts of foreign currency.

Digging deeper, the board found that the transactions were made through the accounts of seven casino managers and also through staff accounts at 20 companies owned by the casinos themselves.

Early reports say that as much as $5bn in transfers abroad are being investigated by authorities, with suspects allegedly holding multiple accounts in seven banks based in Turkey, including one Bank Asya, which reportedly has links to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). Bank Asya has been closed down by Turkish authorities pending a full investigation into these links.

In 2017, the Turkish government implemented a law which would allow revenues from illegal betting gangs to be seized and bank accounts to be more tightly monitored, but large scale illegal betting and money laundering still takes place.

The  authorities have increased their cooperation with Turkey’s banks in order to better clampdown on this trend and last month police detained 11 suspected members of an illegal betting gang operating in Gaziantep.

22nd May
IGT sole bidder in Rhode Island sports betting roll out

Global gaming company IGT is in pole position to launch sports betting in the US state of Rhode Island, having been the only company to submit a bid to run the states sports betting business.

The Rhode Island Lottery first issued a request for proposals on the contract last month, in anticipation of any favourable Supreme Court decision being made with 18 firms participating in a pre-bidding process conference on the contract.

However, that initial interest proved to be unfounded, with IGT being the only company to submit a bid in time for the deadline for tenders. IGT already has a foothold in Rhode Island and has worked in partnership with the Rhode Island Lottery, running its electronic lottery systems.

Rhode Island lottery spokesman Paul Grimaldi expressed his disappointment over the lack of bids in an email to the Providence Journal, saying:  “We would have preferred more bidders. 18 companies expressed an interest in the RFP. We’re not going to speculate as to why more bids weren’t submitted.”

IGT’s bid has been passed to the RI Lottery’s technical review committee to assess whether it meets basic requirements.  The request states that bidders should ‘demonstrate in their proposals their capability to readily adapt to any future additions to authorised sports betting’.

Bidders initially submitted proposals to run sports betting at the Twin River casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton, but were also encouraged to propose methods by which their technology and sports betting might be expanded, should the state decide to increase its sports betting footprint beyond the casinos.

Speaking about the next stage in the process, Grimaldi added: “The bid could be rejected if a flaw(s) is discovered in the submission. We will consider our options at that point.”

Under the plan, the casinos would take the bets, with the bidding company setting the odds and running the betting technology in the background.

Initial budget estimates have said that sports betting in the state could generate up to $23.5m in revenue for the state, with around $800m per annum in bets being placed.

22nd May
Race for Andorra casino licence nears final furlong

Authorities in the tiny European principality of Andorra have confirmed that they will announce the winning bidder for its first land-based casino licence at the end of next month.

13 proposals from nine international companies have been submitted with names including Genting UK, French company Partouche, Germany’s Merkur Gaming, Spanish company Cirsa and Andorran company Cierco all in the running.

The winning bidder will receive a land-based casino licence covering the next 20 years and allowing for the construction of a casino resort, subject to the bidder making a minimum investment of €10m.

Genting UK and Cirsa are the biggest bidders for the licence, both agreeing to invest over $164.6m in the project.

Genting’s bid is the result of a partnership between itself, Andorran businessman Marc Giebels van Bekestein, Arc Resorts President Mark Vlassopulos, and British investor David Gray, with Genting holding a 70% share in the joint venture.

The company has confirmed that it plans to build a casino resort and hotel in the Clot d’Emprivat area of Andorra, creating 600 jobs during the construction phase with a further 400 full time casino employees once the project is completed.

Spanish company Cirsa have also stated their desire to build a property in the Clot d’Emprivat area but have submitted two separate bids to construct a property in different parts of the region. 

Partnering with French casino operator Groupe Tranchant in its efforts, Cirsa’s proposals encompass a small-scale casino while the other proposal provides for a much larger mixed use casino resort and hotel complex. Both Cirsa proposals state that they could be ready for guests by 2020.

Andorra first set out its gambling laws in 2016, establishing the legal framework required to govern its nascent casino industry. Any casino operating in Andorra will be subject to taxation on its gambling services.

22nd May
IGT reports 5% revenue growth in Q1 2018

Global gaming supplier IGT has reported a 5% year-on-year rise in its revenues during the first quarter of 2018.

Releasing its financial results for the period, the company reported consolidated revenues of $1,207m, surpassing the $1,153m recorded during the same period of 2017.

IGT attributed this rise to ‘strong global casino systems sales, broad-based momentum in lottery, and Italy sports betting results which all caused increases in revenue.

Adjusted EBITDA rose by 18% year-on-year during the period, rising to $436m from a Q1 2017 high of $371m, while adjusted operating income rose by 6% year-on-year to a Q1 2018 high of $251m.

Drilling down into individual areas of operation, North America gaming & Interactive revenues fell 20% year-on-year to $244m in Q1 2018, however, this was due to the absence of revenues from DoubleDown interactive, which was sold during the second quarter of 2017.

North American lottery revenues rose by 5% year-on-year to $295m while revenues from IGT’s international business also grew 12% year-on-year to $184m during Q1 2018.

IGT reported a 4% rise in its revenues from the businesses Italian operations which grew year-on-year to $483m.

Speaking about the results, Alberto Fornaro, CFO of IGT said: "We are solidly positioned to achieve our 2018 strategic and financial goals. With revenue growing 5% and Adjusted EBITDA up 18%, our first quarter results are some of the best we've reported."

However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the business as it continues to suffer the effects of foreign currency losses, which caused IGT to report a $103m net loss during the quarter. Of this $103m, $97m was directly due to what the company called ‘net foreign exchange loss’.

Company net debts were also hit by negative foreign currency impacts, with debts rising to $7,525m during Q1 2018 from a Q1 2017 figure of $7,398m, a rise of 2% year-on-year. Of this $7,525m loss, over $119m was directly due to foreign exchange losses.

Despite the losses, Marco Sala, CEO of IGT was keen to focus on the positives, adding: "Lottery same-store revenue growth was among the highest levels in the last several quarters, even in our largest markets. A sharp increase in systems sales, double-digit growth in global gaming machine replacement unit shipments, and sequential improvement in the North America installed base confirm the good momentum of our global Gaming business. 

"The positive underlying contribution from each of our operating segments provides a strong start to the year."

21st May
Bet365 upping sticks to Malta post Brexit

Online gambling operator Bet365 will relocate over 1,000 of its employees based in Gibraltar to the gaming hub of Malta, post Britain’s exit from the European Union, according to reports in the Times of Malta newspaper.

The newspaper reports that a sale agreement to purchase a commercial property in the coastal town of Tigne near Silema has already been agreed. 

Unnamed sources told the newspaper that “It is not everyday that 1,000 well-paid employees are relocated to Malta.

“Apart from the fact that we are talking about the largest sports betting company in the world - with some 23 million customers - a thousand individuals and their families looking for a place to stay for quite some time on a small island, will mean significant business.”

Bet365 first acquired a remote gaming licence from the Malta Gaming Authority in 2015, having previously registered three subsidiary companies there. At the time of the award, the company stated that this was due to ‘regulatory developments in various operating territories’.

However, with the continued uncertainty regarding the future status of Gibraltar post any Brexit deal, the future of a number of high profile companies based in the UK and its overseas territories is likewise uncertain. Many have already chosen to relocate to the EU in anticipation of any potential post Brexit decline in the UK’s economic fortunes.

Responding to the widespread reports, Bet365 issued a statement, explaining the purchase in an attempt to address the issue “We are taking additional property space and looking to recruit additional personnel in Malta to support our online operations and will also be expanding our infrastructure capabilities there. It should be noted however, that the number of people reported as being relocated to Malta are wholly inaccurate."

The company went on to reaffirm its ties with Gibraltar, adding:“Notwithstanding these plans for Malta, we can confirm that we will be retaining our strong presence in, and commitment to, Gibraltar where our main operational hub is based and will continue to maintain our existing dual regulatory and licensing strategy and presence.”

Gibraltar's Minister for Gambling Albert Isola also dismissed the reports, remaining bullish about Gibraltar’s future in a post Brexit world.

In a statement Isola said: "Bet365 has confirmed directly to us that they remain totally committed to Gibraltar and the entirety of it's workforce here. They are not leaving Gibraltar by any stretch of the imagination. Neither are they having to choose between us and Malta.”

 "We, nonetheless, understand that business needs certainty and has to manage risk. There is no single risk management solution here as the issues are complex."

Isola added: "What remains true is that Gibraltar remains the jurisdiction of choice for the most reputable gaming companies in the world. Brexit isn't going to change that."

11th May
MGM Resorts to buy back $2bn of its own shares

International casino resort company MGM Resorts International has announced that it will buy back over $2bn of its own shares, in an effort to build up a war chest of funds for future expansion.

It is the company’s second such repurchase in less than 12 months, having commenced a similar $1bn share repurchase programme in September 2017. Since the programme began, the company has repurchased over 30 million shares.

Speaking about the latest share repurchase scheme, Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts said: “The latest share repurchase authorization reflects the Company's financial strength and continued commitment to returning capital to our shareholders.

“We are pleased with the Company's strong balance sheet, which has allowed us to take a balanced approach to driving shareholder value through our quarterly dividend and share repurchase program, as well as continuing to invest in our properties and explore prudent growth opportunities.”

The decision comes amid a flurry of new investment by the company over the last few years that has seen the company spend $6bn and open three new properties:  the MGM National Harbor, the MGM Cotai and latterly the $960m MGM Springfield in Massachusetts which opens in August.

Earlier this week the company announced a $550m upgrade and rebrand of the former Monte Carlo casino resort in Las Vegas that will see the property renamed Park MGM.

In a presentation to investors MGM analysts have estimated that these new developments will increase the company’s revenue by as much as 34%, rising to $14.5bn by 2020. In addition adjusted cash flow is estimated to grow by over 39% to $3.9bn in the same period.

MGM are also planning to spend over $2.1 billion maintaining and refurbishing its existing property portfolio over the next three years, with the company planning large scale upgrades to the Las Vegas stalwarts, The Mirage and Bellagio.

11th May
The Stars Group Q1 2018 revenues up 23%

Online gaming company The Stars Group has reported a 23% year-on-year increase in its revenues during the first quarter of 2018.

Issuing its first trading update of the year, the Toronto listed company reported group revenues of $393m, surpassing the $317m accrued during the same period of 2017.

Company net earnings increased by 13.1% year-on-year during Q1 2018, rising to $74.3m and driving a 9.1% increase in diluted net earnings during Q1 to $0.36 per share.

Higher revenue figures for the company were mirrored in both its adjusted EBITDA and adjusted net earnings which rose year-on-year by 15.9% or $175m and by 22.8% or $139m respectively.

In addition, net cash inflows from operating activities rose by 38.2% year-on-year from a Q1 2017 high of $95.5m to a record $132m during the same period of 2018.

Speaking about the results, Rafi Ashkenazi, The Stars Group CEO said: “The Stars Group’s strong first quarter results continued our organic growth trajectory.”

Drilling down into individual business areas, real-money online casino and combined sports book was the big winner, with revenues rising by 55% year-over-year to a Q1 2018 figure of $134.5m. 

The Stars Group core PokerStars offering also reported a revenue rise during the period, with real -money online poker revenues increasing by 12.4% year-over-year to $245.9m.

Ashkenazi welcomed the positive revenues, adding:  “We are pleased with the performance of each of our verticals, poker, casino and sportsbook, which are benefiting not only from the continued success of Stars Rewards but also from our strategy of focusing on the customer and continued improvements to our product offerings.”

It has been a busy quarter for the company who have concluded two big acquisitions, firstly in February when it agreed a $117.7m deal to acquire a controlling interest in Australian sports betting operator CrownBet before following this up with a second monster deal, paying $4.7bn to acquire Sky Betting & Gaming last month.

Speaking about the potential direction of these new businesses, Ashkenazi added: “These acquisitions will help diversify our revenue base, increase our exposure to regulated markets, and transform our combined sportsbook into a second customer acquisition channel.

“These new additions will accelerate not only the organic growth we are seeing in our existing business but also our progress towards realizing our vision of becoming the world’s favourite iGaming destination.”

10th May
Kambi Group creates Chief Product Officer role

Sports betting company Kambi has announced the appointment of Mattias Eriksson to the newly created position of Chief Product Officer.

In his new position Eriksson will be tasked with driving the development of Kambi’s next generation sportsbook and will also be responsible for creating one which is able to lead a potentially soon-to-be regulated US market. 

Eriksson brings with him ten years of experience at Swedish sports betting monopoly Svenska Spel, including four years as Director of Business Development and Innovation.

Primarily based out of Kambi’s product-focused Stockholm office, Eriksson will lead the supplier’s product strategy, design and implementation, reporting to Kambi Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Business Development Officer Erik Logdberg.

Speaking about the appointment, Logdberg said: “I’m delighted to welcome Mattias as our new Chief Product Officer. Mattias’ knowledge and expertise in creating and commercialising future-ready products will be invaluable as we continue to build our product organisation.

“Our transformation into the future hinges on our ability to create products that help our operators outperform the market, and Mattias is the perfect fit to enable our ambition.”

Incoming CPO Mattias Eriksson added: “Kambi already has a fantastic product – the best Sportsbook on the market but, even more importantly, it has the capabilities required to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing sports betting industry.

“As a lifelong follower of US sports, I’m particularly excited at the prospect of bringing Kambi’s knowhow to American sports fans, and I’m confident we will have a product in place they will love as much as our customers around the rest of the world already do.”

10th May
Louisiana DFS bill moves a step closer

Lawmakers in the US state of Louisiana have voted to approve a bill that would legalise daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests in the state.

House bill 484, proposed by Representative Kirk Talbot, was approved by the Louisiana Senate, the state's upper house, by a 21-15 vote having previously been approved by the House of Representatives last month.

Having survived these two votes, the bill now moves back to the House of Representatives for a third and final vote, before passing to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards for approval.

The bill, known as the Louisiana Fantasy Sports Contests Act, removes a pre-existing prohibition against DFS contests, exempting them from state-wide definitions of gambling.

It permits DFS contests based on amateur events, while placing oversight for regulation of DFS contests in the hands of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

However, it is not a case of plain sailing for DFS advocates in the state as the Louisiana constitution states that ‘No law authorising a new form of gaming, gambling, or wagering shall be conducted in a parish unless a referendum election is held in the parish and the proposition is approved by a majority’.

This means that residents in every one of Louisiana’s 64 parishes must first vote to approve the bill in a state wide referendum before it can be fully legalised.

Should the bill be approved by both the House and finally the Governor, this referendum could take place as early as 6 November. However, lawmakers in the state will adjourn for the year on 9 June, leaving them not much time to debate the issue.

10th May
Hard Rock receives Atlantic City licence

International casino developer Hard Rock Resorts has been awarded a casino licence in New Jersey by regulators, in a move which will enable it to reopen the former Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.

In meetings on Wednesday, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission voted overwhelmingly to award a licence to the company, which has been redeveloping the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal since it purchased the property from billionaire investor Carl Icahn for $50m in 2017.

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, transitioning from the Indian palace-theme to a “rock ‘n’ roll” casino resort will open on 28 June.  

It will transform the 4.2 million square feet of defunct casino hotel space into a state-of-the-art casino, hotel, retail, dining and entertainment facility, aiming to increase employment opportunities, strengthening the faltering Atlantic City resort and by virtue the economy of New Jersey.

Speaking about the new development, Jon Lucas, chief operating officer of Hard Rock International, said:"What we have in store is going to blow people away. It'll be a boost for the reinvention of Atlantic City."

Seeking to launch the resort with a flurry of big celebrity names, Hard Rock International has budgeted over $30 million for entertainment in its first year, and will feature over 300 nights of live music, comedy and drama.

Officials from the company have said that they have received over 50,000 job applications from prospective employees for a total of 4,000 jobs.

9th May
Mohegan Sun takes sole ownership of Incheon casino project

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, the company which runs the Mohegan Sun chain of casino resorts, has announced the signing of an agreement to buyout its fellow developers stake in a casino project currently underway in Incheon, South Korea.

The unnamed South Korean company first purchased a 24.5% stake in what is known as ‘Project Inspire’ in 2015.  Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment has bought this stake back for an undisclosed fee, making them the sole owner of the $1.6bn casino project.

Project Inspire is a casino resort project featuring a number of hotel towers and a 20,000 square-foot casino encompassing over 250 gaming tables and 1,500 slot machines. The project also includes a 15,000 seat arena with an indoor-outdoor amusement park and is expected to open in 2021.

The completed casino resort will be the Mohegan’s first outside of the continental US.

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment is owned by the Mohegan tribe of Indians owns and operates large-scale casinos in the US states of Connecticut, Washington, Louisiana and New Jersey.

Speaking about the deal, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment CEO, Mario Kontomerkos, called the deal "a very important step" in the company’s international ambitions.

Kontomerkos added: “We view our position in Korea as highly advantageous, as when we open we will be the only true integrated entertainment resort in Northern Asia — an enviable position given our proximity to Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo.”

8th May
Moldova to end monopoly system on gambling

The body which controls gambling in the central European country of Moldova, the Public Property Agency (APP) is to reportedly shed its monopoly over gambling in the country.

According to reports on the Balkan Insight website, the APP is to end its monopoly on gambling and lotteries, announcing plans to implement a public-private partnership with two EU companies which will see the businesses run the APP’s operations on its behalf.

This move follows the 2016 crackdown against illegal gambling and casinos by the then largest party in the Moldovan parliament, the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM) and its leader Vlad Plahotniuc.

Later in 2016, Plahotniuc instituted a law to bring the provision of gambling services under a state-run entity as a way of ending illegal gambling, while also reducing the number of problem gamblers in the country.

The first company to win the right to operate slot machines in Moldova is Novo Gaming M Technologies GmbH, a division of Austrian gaming company NOVOMATIC AG. The agreement stipulates that Novo Gaming will be required to contribute 51% of slot machine revenues back to the National Lottery of Moldova.

The second contract, which entitles the winning company to provide lottery and sports betting services was won by NGM SPC Limited, a partnership between National Lottery AD, Bulgaria’s largest gambling operator, Market AD, and NGM SPC Ltd.

As with the first company, NGM SPC will be required to contribute a high proportion of their revenues back to the National Lottery of Moldova, the difference in this case being that NGM SPC must contribute 90% of their sports betting revenue generated from local betting customers back to the state.

In addition under the terms of the contracts, the two foreign businesses are required to contribute 75% of their lottery revenues back to the National Lottery of Moldova.

Similar public-private partnerships currently operate in Romania, Moldova’s neighbour,  albeit at a lower contribution percentage.

8th May
William Hill enjoys strong online and US growth

Issuing its trading update for the 17 weeks up to 24 April, international bookmaker William Hill has reported strong growth in its online and US divisions.

US revenues were the biggest rise during the period, increasing by 45% year-on-year while total net online revenue grew by 12% during the first 17 weeks of 2018.

William Hill’s online revenues were strengthened by what it called ‘very strong football and horseracing results in the early part of 2018’ together with favourable results in both the Cheltenham and Grand National horseracing events.

The company have confirmed that the strong US financial performance was due to a 17% growth in bets being placed. The first 17 weeks of the year play host to a number of important US sporting events, most notably the Superbowl, Masters Tournament and the NCAA’s March Madness tournament.

Total net revenues from William Hill’s retail operations dropped by 4% year-on-year, primarily due to a 13% drop in bets during the period, however its gross win margin rose by 18.8%.

Revenues from William Hill’s discontinued Australian operations, which were sold to CrownBet in March for $234.3m, dropped by 22% year-on-year during the period.

Speaking about the company’s performance up to this point, William Hill CEO, Philip Bowcock, commented: “William Hill has had a positive start to 2018, making further progress against our strategic priorities to grow UK market share, drive international revenues and deliver key transformation projects.

“Continued momentum in online and strong growth in the US has driven a good performance during the period. In the UK, an unprecedented run of bookmaker-friendly sporting results led to unusual wagering and gaming trends, which we expect to normalise over time. The sale of our Australia business has further strengthened our balance sheet.

“While we await the outcome of the UK Triennial Review and the Supreme Court’s decision on US sports betting legislation, we remain focused on continuing to deliver a great customer experience, particularly ahead of this summer’s World Cup.”

4th May
Remote Gambling Association issues GDPR guidelines

The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) has issued a number of mandatory policies in response to the impending introduction of the EU’s general data protection regulations (GDPR) later this month.

Its policies look at areas including accountability, governance, data protection officers, processing data be it sensitive or otherwise and details lawful basis for processing personal data.

The RGA has confirmed that the policies will be constantly reviewed and updated in order to keep RGA members abreast of any regulatory developments which may occur.

GDPR, created by the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission will come into force on 25 May and has the aim of increasing security and bringing data protection standards under one set of regulations.

Speaking about the decision to publish the policies, Clive Hawkswood, the RGA’s Chief Executive, said: “the principles which underpin the GDPR reflect the importance of safeguarding personal data and ensuring that it is used only where it is appropriate to do so.

“Unfortunately, there remains a good deal of uncertainty about the GDPR’s precise interpretation and application. This guidance is designed to help our sector navigate its way through the requirements as they are presently understood."

In the wake of the introduction, the online industry has undergone a significant realignment of its current personal data structures, with individuals accessing websites being asked to provide consent to revised terms and conditions reflecting these new data protection standards.

Hawkswood added: “It has had input from a wide range of stakeholders and we are heavily indebted to the ICO for the constructive and supportive advice it has provided at different stages of the process.”

4th May
Catena Media revenues up 57% in Q1 2018

Affiliate network Catena Media has reported a 57% year-on-year increase in its revenues during the first quarter of 2018.

Announcing its results for the period, the company confirmed revenues of $28.5m (€23.9m), surpassing the $18.1m (€15.2m) reported during the same period of 2017.

Company EBITDA increased by 44% during Q1 2018, increasing to $12.4m (€10.4m) from a Q1 2017 figure of $8.6m (€7.2m), while adjusted EBITDA grew by 63% year-on-year during the period, rising to $14.8m (€12.4m).

Net cash generated from operating activities rose to $12.3m (€10.3m) in Q1 2018 from a Q1 2017 figure of $4.7m (€4.0m),a rise of 157.5%.

The business reported a 66% year-on-year rise in new depositing customers during the period, with numbers rising from 80,421 during Q1 2017 to 133,322 during the same period of 2018.

In a statement accompanying the results, Henrik Persson Ekdahl, Acting CEO of Catena Media welcomed the cross financial rises, saying: “The quarter was the best to date, up 19 percent from Q4 2017 and we are progressing well towards our 2020 target.”

Acquisition hungry Catena Media have had a very busy start to the year, agreeing multi-million euro deals to purchase affiliate websites including BonusSeeker.com and the affiliate assets of BeyondBits Media Ltd. They have followed this up with further acquisitions last month, agreeing deals to purchase financial affiliate BrokerDeal.de and sports betting affiliate sites ParisSportifs and gg.co.uk.

During the quarter Catena Media have undertaken an extensive corporate restructuring, refinancing existing secured bonds totalling €100m while at the same time issuing new bonds worth over €150m.

In addition the company has announced the appointment of Per Hellberg as its new CEO, with Hellberg replacing acting CEO Henrik Persson Ekdahl in September 2018.

3rd May
Scientific Games reshuffles its executive pack

International gaming technology supplier Scientific Games has announced the promotion of Barry Cottle to the posts of President and CEO, replacing current President and CEO Kevin Sheehan.

Cottle, who currently occupies the CEO role at Scientific Games SG Interactive division, will assume his new role on 1 June, with Kevin Sheehan remaining with the company as a senior advisor.

Ronald O. Perelman, Chairman of the Board of Scientific Games, paid tribute to the outgoing Sheehan, saying: “Kevin took over after the successful integration of Bally and WMS and, as one company, moved Scientific Games forward and helped in driving growth across all our business units.

“I want to thank him for his strong leadership and tireless efforts that led to the company's success over the last two years and I look forward to continuing to work with him as a senior advisor to the company.”

In his current role, Cottle has spearheaded the company’s efforts to enter the sports betting and online lottery arenas through the acquisition of NYX/OpenBet, doubling revenue figures during his tenure as CEO. He has previously served as Vice Chairman of Deluxe Entertainment and has held executive roles at Zynga, Electronic Arts, Disney and Palm Computing.

Outgoing President and CEO Sheehan paid tribute to his team, adding: “I'm proud of what we have accomplished over the past two years. I want to thank the Scientific Games executive team, my friends and colleagues at MacAndrews & Forbes and all of our employees for their hard work and commitment. Barry has been a great partner, and I look forward to supporting his efforts to lead Scientific Games into the digital future.”

Scientific Games posted a 12% rise in its revenues during Q1 2018, but also made a loss in other areas due to its corporate refinancing and acquisitions. Cottle’s main task as President and CEO will be to ensure that Scientific Games returns to financial stability over the next 12 months.

Indeed, Cottle seems to be ready to take the up the challenge, adding: "Innovation is the cornerstone of our strategy at Scientific Games. Across all our business units and platforms, we are relentless in our efforts to drive greater efficiency and adaptability to take advantage of new and growing markets.”

In its second high-profile appointment, Scientific Games has also announced Tim Bucher as Executive Vice-President and Chief Product Officer across all of the business' divisions.

Bucher previously served as Senior Vice-President and General Manager of Seagate Technology, overseeing its $1.4bn global consumer business, helping it to expand into new markets including mobile, drone, and gaming.

He has previously been involved in several companies within the technology sector which have been taken public or been acquired by tech giants including Apple, Microsoft and Dell.

3rd May
Scientific Games revenue up 12% in Q1 2018

Worldwide gaming company Scientific Games has announced a 12% year-on-year rise in its revenues for the first quarter of 2018.

Announcing its financial results for the period, the company confirmed Q1 2018 revenues of $811.8m, surpassing the $725.4m revenue generated during the same period of 2017.

The company attributed this rise to the inclusion of $49.2m in revenue from the NYX Gaming Group, the business acquisition which completed on 5 January.

Drilling down into these figures, Scientific Games social gaming revenue was the big winner reporting a 21% rise during Q1, while lottery revenues grew by 7% year-on-year.

Revenues from gaming increased more modestly, by 1% year-on-year to $33m, reflecting a 30% increase in what the company called ‘machine replacement unit shipments offset by the impact from far few new casino openings globally.’

Attributable EBITDA also rose by 12% year-on-year during the first quarter of 2018, rising to $320.1m from a previous Q1 2017 high of $286.6m, also driven by the inclusion of financials from NYX Gaming Group.

Company operating income dropped 44% during Q1 2018, falling to $49.4m, from a previous 2017 Q1 high of $88m. Scientific Games attributed this drop to a $52.2m in restructuring fees and other charges, primarily incurred as a result of its refinancing and corporate acquisitions made.

Net company losses increased to $201.8m during Q1 2018, an increase of more than 100% on the $100.8m net losses reported during the same period of 2017. This drop was also attributed to the company’s corporate refinancing, which took place in February and the reduction in operating income during the period.

Scientific Games net cash from its operations also decreased during the period, falling by 73% year-on-year to $29.9m in the first quarter from a Q1 2017 high of $111m.

Addressing the company’s Q1 2018 financial results, Michael Quartieri, Chief Financial Officer of Scientific Games, said: "Our continued growth in revenue and AEBITDA, coupled with the lower interest costs resulting from our recent refinancing, establishes a solid platform for increased cash flows. We remain committed to our path of increasing cash flow, de-levering and strengthening our balance sheet."

During the period, Scientific Games concluded a number of refinancing transactions which resulted in a $69m reduction in its annual cash interest costs, while also extending the maturity of a portion of its debts from 2022 to 2024,2025 and 2026 respectively.

Despite the mixed results, Kevin Sheehan, CEO and President of Scientific Games remained upbeat, adding: “With improving momentum across all our businesses, we are excited by the prospects and opportunities to smartly grow our revenue and AEBITDA during the remainder of 2018 and beyond.”

2nd May
LeoVegas hit with £600,000 UKGC penalty package

Online gambling operator LeoVegas has agreed to pay a £600,000 penalty package following a Gambling Commission (UKGC) investigation which revealed failings relating to misleading advertising and the handling of customers at the end of their self-exclusion period.

The UKGC investigation found that 41 website advertisements by them or their affiliates misled consumers by failing to include significant offer limitations, or had failed to present those limitations clearly enough.

In addition a total of 11,205 customers who had elected to self-exclude themselves from the company’s website did not have their account balances returned to them on the closure of their respective accounts.

1,894 customers who reached the end of their self-exclusion period had received marketing materials from LeoVegas without first confirming their acceptance of it, while a further 413 customers who had also reached the end of their self-exclusion period were able to access their accounts and gamble, without speaking to those customers first or applying a 24-hour cooling off period.

LeoVegas have agreed to pay a £600,000 penalty package, divest all funds held in its self-excluded accounts either by returning them directly to affected players or making payments to socially responsible causes and have agreed to make a payment of £13,000 towards the commission’s investigation costs.

Responding to the identified breaches, LeoVegas have closed all affected accounts and have implemented procedures to process the return of account balances within 48 hours of a self-exclusion.

In addition, every quarter it will also reconcile any account balances which could not be returned, or which are under £1.00, and make a donation of the equivalent amount to charities for socially responsible causes.

Detailing the investigation’s findings, Neil McArthur, the Gambling Commission’s Chief Executive said: “The outcome of this case should leave no one in any doubt that we will be tough with licence holders who mislead consumers or fail to meet the standards we set in our licence conditions and codes of practice.”

“We want operators to learn the lessons from our investigations and use those lessons to raise standards.”

1st May
Nektan makes double COO appointment

White label gaming software provider Nektan PLC has announced the appointment of a new Chief Operating Officer for both its white label and B2B divisions.

Jane Ryan has been appointed as COO Nektan’s B2B unit, while Michael Byrne appointed to lead its white label business.

Already working within the Nektan business, Ryan has successfully spearheaded its launch in Asia through a global platform agreement with Tyche Digital for its Evolve Lite gaming platform, helping the company to have a presence across three continents (Europe, US and Asia).

Michael Byrne joins from Microgaming, where he previously held the position of Regional Business Manager, playing a key role in setting up a new Malta hub for the company’s gaming platform Quickfire.

In previous industry roles, Bryne served as Chief Commercial Officer and Senior Director at IGT for its Interactive division, also leading William Hill’s mobile division during a four-year spell with the company. 

Confirming the appointments, Gary Shaw, CEO at Nektan said: “We’re thrilled to announce our latest senior appointments. They are two highly capable individuals who will no doubt apply their wealth of industry experience and commercial acumen to grow our B2B and White Label businesses.

“Jane has performed exceptionally well for Nektan, helping to drive our global B2B operations forward, while Michael will bring a fresh perspective to White Label with his industry experience in senior roles.”

1st May
Cherry AB increases its stake in Almor

Online gaming company Cherry AB has announced a decision to acquire an additional 7.5% share in Maltese company Almor Holding Limited, for a fee of $4.85m.

Cherry Ab have confirmed the additional share purchase was made due to ‘continued favourable development of Almor’s group of brands’ and will be paid for by a combination of equal portions cash and newly issued shares in Cherry AB.

Almor is an online operator offering casino and sportsbook in primarily German-speaking countries.

Cherry’s current holding in Almor amounts to 82.5% and will amount to 90.0% following the completion of the additional purchase.

The company holds the right to utilise its option to buy the remaining shares in Almor in the first six months of 2019.

This option to acquire additional shares is based on a multiple of five times EBIT, calculated as an average of the years 2017 and 2018. 

1st May
Macau revenue up 27.6% in April

Gross gaming revenue in the Asian casino hub of Macau rose by 27.6% year-on-year during April according to new figures released by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ).

Beating industry estimates for the period, DICJ regulators confirmed gross gaming revenues of $3.18bn during April. Analysts had previously estimated revenue growth of between 18% and 22%.

The latest revenue increase marks the 21st month of consecutive revenue growth following a period of revenue decline in 2014.

This spike allowed Macau to record a 22.2% year-on-year expansion during the first four months of the year, topping $126.1m.

1st May
Connecticut tribes demand exclusivity on sports betting

Connecticut’s Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes have penned letters to the Connecticut state legislature calling for them to have exclusive rights to conduct sports betting in the state, should sports betting in the US be legalised.

In separate letters issued on both Friday and Saturday, both tribes wrote to House Speaker Joseph Aresimowicz asking him to “carefully consider a number of factors” before legalising sports betting in the state.

Senior officials from the tribes, who operate the Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mohegan Sun casino, argue that their existing revenue sharing agreements which entitle them to a 25% slice of video slot machine revenues also entitles them to exclusivity on sports betting.

The letter from the Mohegan’s stated: “If the legislature authorises sports betting in a manner that constitutes a video facsimile or video game of chance, such an authorisation would lift the moratorium under the tribal-state gaming compacts.”

The tribes went on to cite a recent legal opinion issued by Connecticut’s Attorney General George Jepsen which stated a  state law permitting sports wagering in Connecticut may "violate the exclusivity provisions”, referring to the revenue sharing compact signed with the state.

Speaking in response to the letters with the Hartford Courant newspaper, Speaker Aresimowicz said that he was open to hearing the tribes out: “I rather have conversations than say, ‘OK, you stop paying us the money for the compact and then we’ll tell you, you can’t have slot machines at all in the state.

“Nobody wants to do that. The tribes are going to be part of any type of gambling we do in the state of Connecticut.”

Sentiments that were not shared by Connecticut House Majority leader Matthew Ritter, who dismissed the tribes’ argument, saying: “It was never contemplated and the specific words were never used. Here we are 26 years later and they’re raising it for the first time.”

1st May
Nevada's billion dollar revenue streak continues

Revenues from casinos operating in the US State of Nevada surpassed $1bn in revenue generated during March, marking the third consecutive month of billion dollar revenues and the longest revenue streak seen since 2008.

In a report released late on Monday, the Nevada Gaming Control Board confirmed state wide revenue from casinos rose by 3.4% year-over-year, topping $1.03bn.

Drilling down into these record revenues, baccarat proved to be the big draw, with winnings increasing by 110.6% year-on-year to $117.2m during March.

Game and table winnings, which includes baccarat rose by 13.5% during March, topping $381m. The volume of money staked on baccarat increased sharply during March, rising 44.8% year-on-year to $835.8m.

Indeed, it was card and table games that sustained the states revenue streak, with slots gaming win dropping by 1.85% to $643.2m during March.

The March Madness basketball tournament proved to be a lucrative one for Nevada, with over $305.5m being bet on the tournament alone during March. 

Overall basketball bets placed during March topped a record $436.5m, more than doubling the record bets received in the state during the Super Bowl in February, which amounted to $158.6m.

Nevada sports book operators won over $38m on basketball bets during March, a decrease of 7.88% on the record $41.2m haul the bookies had from Nevada bettors during the same period of 2017.

30th April
Wynn Boston Harbour to rebrand following regulatory scrutiny

The CEO of worldwide casino developer Wynn Resorts, Matt Maddox has confirmed to Massachusetts gaming regulators that its forthcoming Wynn Boston Harbour casino development will be renamed Encore Boston Harbour.

In hearings before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), Maddox was keen to distance the business from its former CEO, Steve Wynn, saying: “Steve Wynn is not Wynn Resorts. This company is not about a man. It hasn’t been about a man for 18 years.”

Wynn is still under investigation by the MGC following widely publicised allegations of sexual misconduct, allegations which have seen him leave Wynn Resorts and sell his entire shareholding.

Under the Massachusetts Expanded Gaming Act, casino operators in the state must display ‘integrity, honesty, good character and reputation’. If they fail to adhere to these standards, under the law their licenses can be revoked.

Maddox added: “We polled hundreds and hundreds of customers checking into our hotels, and 60% of them had never heard of Steve Wynn. Forty percent had heard of him and had heard of allegations, and of that, 90 percent of the 40 percent said ‘we love the property, we love the service, we love the food. We don’t care who’s running it.'”

Wynn Boston Harbour becomes the third hotel to fall under the Encore brand, following Encore at Wynn Macau and the flagship Encore property in Las Vegas.

The reputational damage to the Wynn Resorts business by the Steve Wynn scandal has been substantial, prompting rumours of takeovers and the company to make several gestures to try to restore its tarnished reputation, this just being the latest.

Indeed it may not stop there, with industry vultures circling; Wynn Resorts may decide to liquidate the development entirely if the MGC finds there is enough cause to revoke its Massachusetts licence.

Despite these dark clouds, Maddox remained bullish, telling MGC officials: “We’re a $30bn company, and if there was ever any risk, due to heightened rhetoric, that there would be any contagion from Massachusetts into Wynn Resorts, we will have to take a hard look at what is best to protect our shareholders and our value.”

26th April
Caesars continues its non-gaming expansion into Mexico

Worldwide casino and resort developer Caesars Entertainment Corporation, fresh from announcing its first two non-gaming resort partnerships in Dubai, has announced the development of a third non-gaming resort, this time in Mexico.

The Caesars Palace Luxury Resort in Puerto Los Cabos, Baja, Mexico will cost an estimated $200m and will feature 500 hotel rooms and suites, restaurants, an entertainment venue, a gym, spa, tennis courts, and golf courses as well as a 40,000-square-foot convention centre.

Justifying its selection, the company stated a 40% rise in airline passengers visiting the region from the US and Canada over the last three years as the chief reason for its decision to expand.

Construction on the property will commence during the first half of 2019, with local property development company Grupo Questro handling the construction phase.

Upon completion of the property development, Caesars Entertainment Corporation will take over management of the property, receiving a licensing and management fee.

Speaking about the company’s newest investment, Caesars Entertainment President and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Frissora said: "Bringing Caesars Palace to Puerto Los Cabos will represent further progress on our strategy to expand the company's non-gaming businesses into premiere resort and gateway destinations.

"This resort will represent our first investment in Mexico, and it speaks to the global strength of the Caesars brand.”

Sentiments were echoed by Eduardo Sanchez Navarro Rivera Torres, Executive President of Grupo Questro who added: "We are very excited to work with our new partners to help bring the Caesars brand to Puerto Los Cabos. Caesars is known around the world, and we are confident that this luxury resort will be an incredible asset for global visitors."

If reports are to be believed, Caesars may also add another new market to its casino offering, with Australian media sources reporting the company’s Head of International Development, Steven Tight, has been wining and dining officials from Queensland’s Gold Coast tourism department in an effort to give Caesars integrated resorts plans there a leg-up.

24th April
National Indian Gaming Association outlines its support for sports betting

The executive and membership of tribal gaming’s governing body, the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) have adopted a resolution which supports the introduction of legalised sports betting in the US, subject to certain conditions being met.

At a time when every gambling industry stakeholder is jockeying for position in the potential post PASPA world, NIGA have outlined nine points which they contend would need to form any potential sports betting legalisation, in any state in which tribal interests are represented.

Among the points raised by the resolution, are provisos that tribal governments possess the inherent right to opt-in to any proposed federal sports betting regulatory scheme as a way of ensuring their access to the potential market.

In addition conditions state that tribes must be acknowledged as governments, with authority to regulate gaming in the same way that states do and any federal sports betting legalisation must include a guaranteed positive economic benefit for the tribes.

Any potential customers wishing to access tribal government sports betting sites can do so, as long as sports’ betting is legal where the customer is located.

NIGA also asserts that revenues accrued by tribes in respect of sports betting operations be exempt from taxation in the same way that their other revenue streams are currently exempted from taxation.

In a move which may placate some of the sports associations so active in lobbying efforts across the US, the tribal governments ‘acknowledge the integrity and protection of the game and patron protections for responsible gaming are of the utmost importance.’

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), so long the central pillar of tribal gaming in the US forms the final provisions of the resolution in which NIGA members assert that existing tribal compacts & rights under IGRA be protected and that IGRA itself should not be opened up for amendments.

This move comes amid speculation that the Trump administration is considering changing the way that tribes across the US conduct gaming business, opening them up to making revenue contributions to states as a way of boosting state taxation revenues.

24th April
Connecticut tribal casino row rumbles on

The Inspector General of the US Department of the Interior has announced an investigation into the agency’s handling of the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes application to build a third tribal casino in the US state of Connecticut.

A probe has been launched into the department's failure to ratify the revised tribal compact signed by both tribes and the state in June 2017. The revised compact called for the development of a casino in East Windsor and for that casino to be operated by a joint venture between the two tribes. 

23rd April
Malta Gaming Authority appoints new CEO

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has confirmed the appointment of Heathcliff Farrugia as its new CEO, replacing outgoing MGA head, Joseph Cuschieri.

Joseph Cuschieri announced that he would be taking up the role of CEO of the Malta Financial Services Authority earlier this month and the MGA have wasted no time in appointing his successor, who will take up the role with effect from 24 April.

Farrugia first joined the MGA in 2014, being appointed to the role of COO before taking up the post of Chief Regulatory Officer in 2016. In the CRO role he was responsible for all the regulatory activities of the Authority with specific focus on Regulatory Supervision, Authorisations, Compliance and Player Support.

Prior to joining the MGA, Farrugia occupied a number of roles in the telecoms industry, working for telecommunications giant Vodafone in its Maltese and Italian businesses.

Heathcliff Farrugia also served as a member of the MGA’s Supervisory Council and co-chaired the MGA’s Fit & Proper Committee, which was responsible for assessing those individuals and companies applying for Maltese gaming licences.

He has also been a board member of the Gaming Regulators European Forum (GREF), where he is now a member and is also a member of the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR) and the International Association of Gaming Advisors (IAGA).

23rd April
The Stars Group buys Sky Betting & Gaming for $4.7bn

Worldwide online gaming business, The Stars Group, has announced what could be one of 2018s biggest corporate acquisitions, agreeing a $4.7bn cash and stock deal to purchase Sky Betting & Gaming (SBG) from CVC Capital Partners and Sky plc.

If approved, the transaction will create the world’s largest publicly listed online gaming company.

Speaking about the acquisition, Rafi Ashkenazi, the Stars Group CEO said: “The acquisition of Sky Betting & Gaming is a landmark moment in The Stars Group’s history.

“SBG operates one of the world’s fastest growing sportsbooks and is one of the United Kingdom’s leading gaming providers. SBG’s premier sports betting product is the ideal complement to our industry-leading poker platform.”

The multi-billion dollar deal gives Stars Group a larger presence in the UK and a ready-made sports betting business that it could easily expand into the US, should legislatory conditions become more favourable. It also gives Stars Group access to a business with a significant mobile gaming arm.

Ashkenazi added: “Following this transaction, The Stars Group will have significantly enhanced scale and a highly-regarded global brand portfolio. As a result, we are well positioned to realize our vision of becoming the world’s favourite iGaming destination.”

2018 has been a busy one for The Stars Group which concluded a $117.7m deal to acquire a majority stake in Australian sports betting operator CrownBet in February.

Stars Group has confirmed that the deal is expected to create cost synergies of $70m per year.

Releasing an accompanying statement following the deal, Richard Flint, Sky Betting & Gaming’s Chief Executive Officer said: “We have had a fantastic last few years and would like to thank CVC and Sky for supporting us in becoming a leading online operator in the UK. This transaction allows us to offer our best-in-class products to a truly global audience. We’re excited about our future together.”

20th April
UK football leagues stand with US sporting associations

Representatives from Football DataCo, the company which holds the rights for the English Premier League and all professional soccer leagues in England and Scotland, have voiced their agreement with the NBA and MLB efforts to introduce an ‘integrity fee’ into any US sports betting roll out.

In an interview with ESPN Adrian Ford, General Manager for Football DataCo, said: “Broadly, we don't think what the leagues are asking for is fundamentally wrong, if you're trying to come up with a framework that works for both parties."

First set up in 2001, by English and Scottish professional leagues, Football DataCo uses an official data supplier in RunningBall, which in turn licenses the data to bookmakers and charges media for its feed through distributor Opta Sports.

Ford added: "We'd echo some of the high-level statements the NBA has made. If someone is making money off us, there's no reason why we shouldn't be interested in that and why we shouldn't have some level of involvement in the commercial return."

The NBA, MLB and latterly the PGA have advocated the payment of an integrity fee by sports betting companies wishing to operate in any states which decide to legalise sports betting, with the fee ranging from between 0.25-1% of the amount bet on league events.

At present, sports betting companies operating in the UK, do not pay any sort of integrity fee back to either the leagues or their respective data providers, however a successful implementation of such a scheme across the Atlantic could prompt a review of this convention.

A key weapon in this debate is the use of data by sports betting companies, which the associations contend should come directly from official league sources only. The contention is that any provider not using official league data should be barred from offering sports betting in any target US state.

Ford concluded: "When it comes to customers and integrity and really trying to provide the best experience, official data, backed by the leagues, is fact.

“Ultimately, the common goal -- and it is easier said than done -- must be to have a functioning, regulated, safe betting market that brings all the offshore money onshore for the good of the sport, for the protection of the players and presumably for the good of the states that are going to get tax revenues."

19th April
Global Gaming CEO steps down

Swedish-based gambling firm Global Gaming have announced that their CEO, Steffan Olsson will step down after ten years in the role.

Olsson, who stepped down at his own request will take on a new role within the business, taking responsibilities for what Global Gaming have called an ‘innovation team’, which will be internally called Global Gaming Labs.

Following the decision, current Global Gaming COO, Joacim Möller, will take over the role of acting President and CEO from the 1 May until a new person can be appointed. Global Gaming has confirmed that a recruitment process to fill this role is currently underway.

Möller is a relative newcomer to the Global Gaming business, having only been appointed as COO in the last 18 months, so the decision to appoint him to the top job is a bold one, however Global Gaming Chairman Peter Eidensjö stood by his decision, releasing a statement saying  it was “is a consequence of our long-term efforts to build a sustainable and sustainable organisation. We want to take advantage of the company's amazing growth, and we do this with the attitude that we will do our best.”

Speaking about the decision to step down, Olsson said: “It has been a fantastic trip both for me personally and for Global Gaming during all these years. I'm basically a developer, problem solver and entrepreneur, which I can do less and less now when the company has reached a new level.

"I want to devote my days to cutting-edge innovation work, and I therefore look forward to the new role, while others in the organization can focus on the ability to take care of our growth in several countries and a large number of new shareholders. "

Interim Global Gaming CEO, Joacim Möller, added: “I feel proud, excited and humble about the task of being part of the reorganisation and continued work on creating value for our owners.”

18th April
Cherry AB reports 104% revenue growth during FY2017

Nordic-focused online gaming provider, Cherry AB, has revealed year-on-year revenue growth of 104% during 2017.

In its full financial report for the year, the gaming company reported revenues of $267,668 during 2017, more than doubling the $130,981 reported during the full-year 2016.

Company EBITDA also registered triple digit growth, rising by 146% from a 2016 high of $20,681 to a 2017 record of $50,990.

A key contributor to this impressive growth was the amount of active customers and deposits, which rose to over 929,900 active customers who deposited a record $653,956 during 2017.

Cherry reported strong revenue growth in all business areas during 2017, revealing  double digit year-on-year rises in the areas of game development, online marketing and gaming technology but it was online gaming revenues which led the way in 2017.

Online gaming revenues reported a triple digit rise of 118%, rising from $99,008 in 2016 to a 2017 high of $216,678.

It was a busy 2017 for CherryAB, who acquired fellow gaming firm ComeOn Malta Ltd during Q2, then following this up with a 12.5% acquisition of shares in Highlight Games in Q4.

Shares in the business were also made available for trading on the Nasdaq Stockholm Mid Cap stock exchange during Q4.

17th April
DraftKings heads down under with Australian expansion

American daily fantasy sports company DraftKings has announced that it will begin offering daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests to Australian punters in Q2 2018.

The company confirmed that it has been granted a government licence by the Northern Territory Racing Commission, under which it is permitted to offer DFS contests in Australia.

Announcing the licence award, DraftKings CEO, Jason Robins said: “Australia is an important market for DraftKings, as it combines devoted sports fans with sophisticated, tech-savvy consumers – exactly the kind of people who love competing on DraftKings.”

Australia is the first country outside of North America and Europe where DraftKings has expanded operations, with DFS games available to consumers in seven other countries.

Expansion seems to be the name of the game for DraftKings, which has been heavily linked with expansion into US sports betting over recent months, following the creation of a US-facing sportbook department, the appointment of Sean Hurley as Head of Sportsbook and the opening of a new office in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Robins added: “Within the last few years, Australia’s burgeoning fantasy sports market has dramatically evolved, adding a variety of daily fantasy sports platforms, feeding the appetite of the many passionate sports fans who love getting closer to the teams, athletes and sports they love.”

17th April
Caesars signs agreement with Buena Vista Rancheria

Las Vegas stalwart Caesars Entertainment Corporation has announced the signing of a casino development agreement with the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California.

Under the terms of the agreement, Caesars will provide brand licensing and consulting services for the casino currently being developed, owned and operated by the Buena Vista Gaming Authority, near Sacramento, California.

Construction of the 71,000-square-foot property began with a groundbreaking ceremony, with the final casino set to open in 2019. The resort will include 950 state-of-the-art slots, 20 table games, one full-service restaurant and three fast-food outlets.

In a statement confirming the agreement, Caesars President and CEO Mark Frissora said: "This agreement with the Buena Vista Gaming Authority advances our growth strategy to expand the reach of our brands into new markets and reinforces our over 20-year history working with tribal partners."

Upon completion, the property will be branded Harrah's Northern California Casino with Caesars signing a management agreement with the authority to manage, operate and maintain the property on its behalf.

Rhonda L. Morningstar Pope-Flores, Chairwoman of the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians added: "We're excited to partner with Caesars Entertainment to bring the Harrah's brand to our gaming project.

"Harrah's is a world-class brand that is known for offering a fun gaming atmosphere with unparalleled customer service. We're confident that it will attract more people to our destination."

17th April
Tri- State online poker network launches 1 May

Online poker players in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware will be able to take advantage of the US’s first multi-state online poker network from 1 May.

Nevada and Delaware first entered into a shared liquidity agreement in 2014, which was designed to enlarge their respective online poker markets by increasing the size of player pools and offering bigger prizes to players across both states.

New Jersey joined the agreement in October 2017, with then Governor Chris Christie quoted as saying: “This agreement marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for online gaming, and we look forward to working with our partners in Nevada and Delaware in this endeavour.” 

These sentiments were echoed by New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement head David Rebuck, who told Associated Press: "This will raise jackpots and provide even greater opportunities for play.

"It also paves the way for additional states to join and grow the regulated, legal online poker market."

Indeed, one of the first potential candidates to join this agreement may be New Jersey’s neighbour Pennsylvania, which legalised online poker and casino gaming in October 2017.

A cornerstone of this shared roll out is an online gaming platform that has been vetted and approved by each jurisdiction.

Under the terms of the agreement, accrued revenues are taxed based on the jurisdiction where the player resides, with gaming regulators from all states included in the agreement able to access and regulate the mutually-used servers housing the platforms. 

Nevada Gaming Control Board chairwoman Becky Harris said that Nevada "is pleased to be part of this collaborative effort between regulators, operators, and the platform manufacturer to achieve the common goal of providing a sound gaming experience for patrons across multiple jurisdictions while still meeting our individual jurisdictional requirements."

Commercial poker sites WSOP.com & 888Poker.com, both operated by Caesars Interactive Entertainment, are reportedly planning to go live with tri-state operations from this initial launch date, with regulatory approval from all three states expected over the next few weeks.

Speaking about the roll-out, Bill Rini, WSOP.com's head of online poker said: "This has been a huge collaborative effort from all involved and it is important to thank the elected leadership and regulatory authorities in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey for their dedication and diligence to help move online poker forward."

17th April
SG Digital gets foot in the door in New Jersey

Scientific Games Corporation has announced that its SG Digital subsidiary has commenced “sportsbook product review sessions” with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), in preparation for any potential legalisation of sports betting in the US State of New Jersey.

SG Digital is currently heavily involved in sportsbook operations in Nevada, one of four states where sports betting is allowed under the Professional and Amateur Sports Participation Act (PASPA), using its OpenBet platform.

New Jersey is one of almost 20 states where sports betting legislation has been advanced and it has been the chief advocate for the repeal of PASPA.

Indeed, the nexus of legalisation efforts revolves around a Supreme Court review of a US Circuit Court decision which barred New Jersey from allowing sports betting in the first place.

Speaking about the discussions, Matt Davey, Group Chief Executive, SG Digital, said: “We work closely with the DGE to ensure responsible gaming experiences and congratulate the effort of the DGE and the state of New Jersey for taking progressive action to help create a safer sports betting market for the public.

"We are setting the foundations well in advance to help our partners establish themselves early in the emerging territory."

SG Digital have confirmed that there will be a number of enhancements to its platform, while at the same time the company is undertaking a recruitment drive to prepare for any US legalisation, should this occur.

Keith O'Loughlin, Senior Vice President, Sportsbook and Platforms at SG Digital, added: "Legalised sports betting in the US is an exciting prospect for us, and we're taking every step possible to ensure our product offering is fully compliant to hit the ground running when the marketplace eventually opens up beyond the current regulated states.

“We have spent time considering US customer needs and are focused on ensuring that the user experience is of high standard and can be delivered with speed."

16th April
Caesars announce non-gaming themed Dubai expansion plans

Global casino resort developer, Caesars Entertainment Corporation, have announced plans to operate two hotels and a beach club in Dubai, which will be the first Caesars operated and branded properties not to offer gambling related services.

Caesars have entered into a non-binding letter of intent with Dubai-based holdings firm Meraas, which owns the Bluewaters Island development, located in the United Arab Emirates. Due to the fact that gambling is banned throughout the mainly Muslim country, the two resorts will not feature casinos as gambling.

Under the terms of this letter, the two luxury hotels and beach club operated by Meraas will become the Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai and Caesars Bluewaters Dubai. The launch of the rebranded resorts will occur later this year.

In a statement announcing the partnership, Mark Frissora, President and Chief Executive Officer of Caesars Entertainment said: "Through our collaboration with Meraas, we anticipate Bluewaters Island will evolve into the region's top hospitality, dining and entertainment destination.

 "This project represents Caesars' ability to focus on our strengths in hospitality as well as reinforce our commitment and capacity to establish brands in new global markets." 

The 178 hotel room Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai hotel features two outdoor and one indoor swimming pools, a spa and a health centre, an event centre, a business centre, and six restaurants. The property will also include facilities for meeting and conference activity.

Its counterpart, the Caesars Bluewaters Dubai includes 301 hotel rooms, two swimming pools, 9,000-square-foot event hall, and food and beverage facilities. Both hotels will provide their guests with access to a nearly 5,000-square-foot private beach.

Abdulla Al Habbai, Group Chairman of Meraas, added: "We are creating unique experiences and leveraging strategic partnerships to showcase the best of what Dubai can offer to its visitors.

“The landmark arrangement with Caesars Entertainment, which aims to establish Bluewaters as a world-class tourist attraction with exclusive international entertainment opportunities, is a significant achievement for the emirate's thriving hospitality and entertainment sectors."

The arrangements between Caesars Entertainment and Meraas are subject to final documentation.




IN-DEPTH 12 July 2018
Harald Neumann: Focusing on the future
Harald Neumann is the CEO of NOVOMATIC, one of the world’s largest gaming technology providers and casino operators. He explains how this duality differentiates the business, and shares his exciting plans for expansion in the US
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