Three Way Deal Links Penn, Pinnacle and Boyd

Penn National Gaming will purchase Pinnacle Entertainment for $2.8 billion in a transaction expected to close in the second half of 2018. As part of the deal, Boyd Gaming will purchase four Pinnacle casinos, including the Ameristar St. Charles (l.) in Missouri, for $575 million. Pinnacle shareholders will receive $32.47 per share. Boyd added another casino a day later when it bought the Valley Forge casino in Pennsylvania.

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WEEKLY FEATURE: Fun in Florida?

Developments are popping up in Florida on several gambling fronts. A bill that would require a statewide vote on any gambling expansion progressed. The Seminole tribe sued 25 internet cafes, which are flourishing in the state, and expressed concern over fantasy sports legislation, introduced by Senator Dana Young (l). And dog racing may be a thing of the past if voters approve a referendum next year. But the casinos connected to the dog tracks will remain open.

GVC Completes Deal for Ladbrokes Coral

Ladbrokes Coral Plc will become a part of GVC Holdings now that the long-rumored deal has been completed. The convoluted structure of the company and pending UK regulatory changes make it difficult to value, but experts say it could be worth anywhere from £3.2 billion to £4 billion.

China Reinstates Korea Gambling Ban; Locals Casino Stressed

China has reinstated a ban on tour groups to Korea, three weeks after it was relaxed and one week after a visit from President Moon Jae-in (l.) was expected to improve relations. And has Kangwon Land been ordered to make less money? According to a note from JP Morgan Securities, the only South Korean casino resort open to locals is on order from the government to limit growth.

Oz Gambling Losses Raise Concerns

Gambling losses in Australia have reached record highs, according to a new study by the Queensland state government. Punters lost almost A$24 billion (US$18 billion) in a year, half of it on pokies. And a report that Australia hosts the vast majority of the world’s non-casino slot machines isn’t going to help. Victorian Minister of Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Marlene Kairouz (l.) says her state is leading the way to help gamblers control themselves.

New Jersey’s Pallone Introduces PASPA Repeal

New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone has introduced a new bill that would repeal the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The bill is being introduced prior to a decision by the Supreme Court on New Jersey’s challenge to the 1992 PASPA law that banned sports betting in states where it did not already exist.

Ho Dumps Summit Ascent Stake

Melco Resorts & Entertainment head Lawrence Ho (l.) will sell off his entire stake in Summit Ascent Holdings Ltd., developer of Tigre de Cristal in the Russian Far East. The move was likely motivated by a planned new tax.

Great Canadian to Operate Greater Toronto ‘Bundle’

Despite an ongoing investigation of one of its casinos, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation has been given a 20-year contract to operate the “bundle” of casinos in the Greater Toronto Area, including Casino Brantford (l.). The contract was awarded by Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

The Skill Dilemma

Skill gaming puts casinos between a rock and a hard place. How can you allow very skilled gamblers to win every time on your skill games? Gaming industry tech expert Bruce Merati (l.) suggests that manufacturers install dual meter gaming, one for chance and one for skill.

FANTINI’S FINANCE: Regional Roundup

The merger of Penn National Gaming and Pinnacle Entertainment, which includes at third party, Boyd Gaming, shook up the U.S. regional gaming market last week. There are now four major regional players, and more possibility for consolidation.

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Ho Tram Launches Next Phase

The Ho Tram Project Co. has broken ground on the next phase of its $4.2 billion Grand Ho Tram integrated resort in Vietnam. The Kahuna Ho Tram Strip Condotel and Villa Development (l.) is set to open in 2019.

Golden Play Receives Casino License from Sikkim State in India

Golden Play Pvt. Ltd—an online gaming company—has been given a provisional license to operate a casino by the Indian State Sikkim. The company plans to operate out of its Hotel D’Wang Residency (l.) in the Deorali area of Gangtok. It will be the fourth casino in the state.

Hokkaido Entertains Multiple IR Plans

Pachinko manufacturer Heiwa Corp. is among the Japanese companies hoping to partner with a global operator on an integrated resort in the country. Its plan centers on Kitahiroshima in Sapporo City, Hokkaido.

PAGCOR: Casinos Serving Minors Could Close

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. says casinos found serving minors could put their operations in jeopardy. People under the age of 21 are forbidden from entering the gaming floors of casino resorts.

Macau VIP Boom to Continue in ’18

A Bloomberg survey of 10 gaming analysts shows that Macau could see a continuing surge in its high-roller business in the new year. The average forecast is for a 14 percent increase in gross gaming revenues in the market. The VIP entrance at Galaxy Macau shown at left.

IPO to Fund Cebu Casino

Philippine businessman Dennis Uy may use an initial public offering or backdoor listing to fund his planned Emerald Resort and Casino (l.) in Cebu. The $341 million resort will be built on Mactan Island in Lapu-Lapu City.

MGM Macau Marks 10 Years

MGM Macau is celebrating its 10th year in the world’s No. 1 gaming hub. Starting on December 5, the resort has marked the occasion with a series of events, including a gala party for 10-year employees.

Resorts World Genting Adding Zouk Club

In a bid to draw more young patrons, Resorts World Genting (l.) will add a Zouk Club-branded nightclub. The flagship club in Singapore is considered one of the top nightspots in Asia.

Tokyo Court Rules Racing Losses Deductible

A man who lost big on online races can treat his losses as tax-deductible, says Tokyo’s Supreme Court. The ruling is in line with a 2015 decision that such losses can be deducted if bettors wager regularly to make money.

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Silver Heritage Casino Poised to Open

With its hotel in receipt of a five-star rating by the government of Nepal, Silver Heritage Group Ltd. says it’s on track to open a casino at Tiger Palace Resort in Bhairahawa, near the capital of Kathmandu.

Packer Claims New Digs at Barangaroo

James Packer, the largest shareholder of Australian casino giant Crown Resorts, will acquire two floors of the company’s new resort complex, Crown Sydney (l.) in Barangaroo. Packer will pay $46 million for the space.

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Michigan iGaming Bill Adds Sports Betting

In the 2018 legislative session the Michigan House will consider three bills to legalize and regulate online gambling and sports betting. State Rep. Brandt Iden's (l.) Lawful Internet Gaming Act would allow and license internet gaming, create the Division of Internet Gaming and impose a 10 percent tax on licensed internet gross gaming revenue.

Lawmaker: Rhode Island Would Consider Online Sports Betting

A key Rhode Island lawmaker said the state would quickly consider legalizing sports betting if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a federal ban. Rhode Island state Senator William Conley (l.), the chair of the state’s Senate Finance Committee, said the state would move quickly to consider sports betting in a recent interview.

Mr Green to Acquire Evoke Gaming for €7 million

Mr Green will spend €7 million to acquire Evoke Gaming, owner of Redbet, in an acquisition deal expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2018. Evoke Gaming produced revenues of €15.5 million in 2016 and includes Vinnarum casino, Bertolt, MamaMia and Redbet. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

Sports Betting Up in Denmark

Sports betting showed steady growth in Denmark’s gambling market in the last quarter according to regulators. Overall sports betting was up 9 percent. Overall revenue from both online and land-based sources was up 9.3 percent.

eSports Joins the Academy at University of Akron

The University of Akron, Ohio has expanded its sports program into eSports, with a varsity team where “athletes” will be able to earn scholarships playing sports related video games. The university joins a growing number of campuses offering such programs.

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MGM Expanding its eSports Offering

MGM Resorts International is taking the lead in reshaping Las Vegas as an eSports mecca, sealing a deal to bring a regular slate of cash tournaments to the MGM Grand starting in 2018. The new year also will see the gaming giant open the Strip’s first eSports arena (l.) at the Luxor.

New North Jersey Casino Referendum Not Likely in 2018

New Jersey’s Senate president, Steve Sweeney (l.), says he doesn’t expect a second effort to put a referendum before state voters to expand casino gaming beyond Atlantic City will happen “anytime soon, if ever.” State voters overwhelmingly defeated such a referendum in 2016, but under state law a new referendum could be put before voters as early as 2018. Supporters of the plan, however, said they don’t want to try again until they’re certain the referendum could pass, which could take up to five years.

PENN’s Schippers: New PA Law ‘Money Grab’

Penn National Gaming spokesman Eric Schippers blasted Pennsylvania’s new gaming law as a “money grab” that will result in significant cannibalization. Yet with the announcement of the Pinnacle purchase, it’s likely Penn National Gaming, which operates the Hollywood Casino (l.) near Harrisburg, will be a bidder for an online gaming license, and undoubtedly a mini-casino.

New Jersey Regulators Approves Hard Rock Management Agreement

The New Jersey Casino Control Commission has approved a management agreement between the owners of the former Trump Taj Mahal and the operators of the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. The agreement allows Hard Rock to operate the casino—which it is refurbishing—even though it does not own the land it sits on. The land is owned by Boardwalk 1000, which includes Hard Rock International and investors Jack Morris and Joe Jingoli (l.).

Three’s a Charm for Wynn at Alon Site?

Wynn Resorts is spending $336 million to acquire 38 acres across from Wynn Las Vegas. It’s a site with a past. It’s where the New Frontier stood, where the Plaza Las Vegas (rendering l.) crashed and burned in the recession and, more recently, where James Packer bailed on his luxury resort Alon.

Tax Exemption Saved for Vegas Stadium Bonds

Congress has struck a provision from its massive tax overhaul that would have eliminated the tax-exempt status of bonds used to fund pro sports stadiums. Las Vegas is breathing a sigh of relief over the use of those bonds in the construction of the Raiders stadium (l.).

Catskills Opening Pushed Up to February

Asian play is the big prize in the marketing strategy being crafted at Resorts World Catskills (l.). Accordingly, New York’s newest gaming resort is speeding up its debut to cash in on the Chinese New Year.

Task Force Reviewing Baton Rouge Changes

The Riverboat Economic Development and Gaming Task Force is considering allowing Louisiana riverboats to move ashore, increase gaming space and offer sports betting. Baton Rouge Area Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Adam Knapp said L'Auberge Baton Rouge (l.) significantly impacted the market when it opened in 2012 but Baton Rouge can sustain three casinos.

Illinois Racetracks Seek Gaming Boost

Illinois horseracing officials said purse and revenue declines could be reversed if lawmakers allowed electronic gaming. Ten other states, including Indiana and Kentucky, legalized racinos, leading to higher purses, better horses and increased audiences. A bill permitting electronic gaming at racetracks (Arlington Park at left) narrowly passed the state Senate in May and awaits a House vote.

Aruze President Involved in Nevada Casino Buy

Eric Persson, the president and COO of Aruze Gaming America, is part of a group buying the Wendover Nugget Hotel & Casino (l.) in Nevada. The casino is near the Utah border and gets most of its business from Salt Lake City, some of it via a bus company that was part of the deal.

Keeneland Racetrack Site Work Starts

Ground is being prepared for the $50 million Keeneland (l.) quarter horse racetrack and historical racing machine facility in Corbin, Kentucky. However, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has not issued a license, previously said it won't consider new license applications, although two licenses are outstanding. Churchill Downs is partnering with Keeneland on the project.

Illinois Video Gambling Profit Split Upheld

Illinois video gambling parlors must continue to split profits equally with terminal operators, Cook County Judge Neil H. Cohen recently ruled. Parlor chain owners had sued the Illinois Board and the Illinois Machine Gaming Operators Association contending owners and terminal operators should be allowed to make their own deals, and buy, install and maintain their own machines.

Atlantic County Says It Lost Under State Casino Tax Plan

Officials in Atlantic County New Jersey say the county lost about $5 million in taxes under a state-approved payment in lieu of taxes plan for Atlantic City casinos. Even though the casinos actually paid more in county taxes under the plan, the program removed them from county tax roles affecting the overall, tax rate for the county. State officials, however, dispute the county’s numbers.

Massachusetts City Prepares for Casino

The town of Northampton, Massachusetts worries that its businesses will be devastated by the opening this fall of the MGM Springfield (l.). The city asked for and received a grant to create a marketing program to try to attract business from the visitors to the casino.

Pennsylvania Fines Mohegan $1 Million

Regulators in Pennsylvania have fined Mohegan Sun Pocono (l.) a record total of $1 million, in connection with an inside casino scam and doing business with unlicensed firms.

Aces Off Limits at MGM Sports Books

The newly minted Las Vegas Aces of the WNBA won’t be on any odds boards posted at the 10 Strip casinos (sports book at MGM at left) run by the team’s new owner, MGM Resorts International. The betting ban is in line with industry policy aimed at avoiding even the hint of a conflict of interest.

Former Rhythm City Caught In Dispute

The former Rhythm City Casino riverboat that served Davenport, Iowa for 15 years remains parked on a sandy spit near downtown Memphis. Owner William Lozier wants to host special events on the 275 foot, 5-story boat but the Memphis Riverfront Development Corporation denied a permit due to its size and generally unattractive appearance.

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Connecticut Tribes, MGM Jockey for Position

In what could be a major election issue in Connecticut next year, the state’s gaming tribes are squaring off for a big, take no prisoners war with MGM Resorts International over Bridgeport. The tribes want to protect their turf from MGM—at the same time local religious groups, including Catholic Bishop Frank Caggiano (l.), say, “a plague on both your houses.”

New Mexico Casino Might Close Permanently

A small tribal casino near Santa Fe, New Mexico that has never operated very profitably since it opened a year ago could be closed for good. The Nambe Falls Travel Center casino (l.) was operated by Nambe Pueblo.

Soboba Casino Replacement Moves Inward

Soboba Casino last week celebrated a “topping off” ceremony on its new hotel (l.). Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians lowered three white painted beams to mark the event. Soboba joins at least half a dozen Southern California casinos currently involved in expansion projects.

Michigan Town Okays Class III Games

Following a 5-1 vote by the village council, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians' Odawa Casino (l.) in Mackinaw City, Michigan can offer Las Vegas-style Class III games like those found at Odawa Casino in Petoskey. An expansion at Mackinaw City next summer will include a bar and grill plus 100 new slots.

Council Bluffs Sues To Stop Ponca Casino

The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska has the approval of the National Indian Gaming Commission to build a casino in Carter Lake, Iowa. But nearby Council Bluffs filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop the Ponca casino, claiming it would impact the $3 million the city receives in annual fees and taxes from existing casinos.

Hope Tribe, Arizona Sign Compact

The Hopi Tribe and the state of Arizona signed a 20-year compact allowing the tribe to own or lease up to 900 Class III gambling machines. The 22nd and last to sign a compact, the tribe rejected gambling in 1995 and 2004, but tribal Chairman Tim Nuvangyaoma (l.) said, "We're at a different time now."

Colorado Tribal Members Accused of Money Laundering

Seven members of a Colorado tribe have been charged with various counts of stealing money and embezzlement and then laundering the money at the tribe’s casino. The Ute Mountain Tribe members face prison terms of from five years up to 20 years.

Tribe Still Bets on Off-Reservation Casino

The tide of tribes being given permission for off-reservation casino has changed under the Trump administration. The Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin finds itself swimming against the tide.

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NH Keno Starts Operating

Keno 603 games were offered in seven cities in New Hampshire last week with more in line to join them. The games benefit all-day kindergarten.

Poll Shows Hawaii Lottery Support

Hawaii, one of the last remaining states with no gaming or lottery, could be fertile ground for the lottery. A just commissioned poll shows that a majority of residents support the idea.

French MPS Warn Against Private Investor in Lottery

Two French legislators in charge of evaluating gambling in France warned against bringing in private capital to the Française des Jeux—France’s lottery—under current regulations. The French MPs said such a move could only happen after an extensive review on how it will affect the lottery’s public service mission.

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William Hill Names Devlin Chairman

Roger Devlin has been named Group Chairman of UK bookmaker William Hill after nine years as Chairman of Sports Information Services. He’ll assume the role in April when current chairman Gareth Davis is scheduled to step down.

Northern Star Casinos Names Zornes CEO

Northern Star Casinos, based in Sparks, Nevada, hired David Zornes as chief executive officer. Zornes will oversee operations at the company's five northern Nevada properties. He brings 37 years of casino and hospitality experience to his new position, including several management positions in the casino and hospitality industry in Nevada, the Caribbean and Colorado.

Foxwoods Names Asian Marketing Head

Foxwoods Resort Casino, owned by the Pequot Indians of Connecticut, has named a new vice president of Asian Marketing. Ming Make comes to the job with 30 years’ experience in the gaming industry.

Public Policy Institute Names Advisory Board

Nine individuals have been named to the advisory board of the MGM Resorts Public Policy Institute at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. The Institute will research bipartisan solutions to the economic, education and workforce challenges of American workers and communities. Co-chairs are former U.S. Senator Harry Reid and former House Speaker John Boehner.

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Novomatic-Ainsworth Purchase to Close January 5

Ainsworth Game Technology announced that the purchase of the 52 percent stake of its shares owned by founder Len Ainsworth to Austria’s Novomatic AG is expected to close on January 5. Harald Neumann (l.), chairman of Novomatic, says he expects the deal to boost Novomatic’s U.S. market share to 10 percent.

NYX Shareholders Approve Sci Games Acquisition

Shareholders of NYX Gaming overwhelmingly approved the company’s acquisition by Scientific Games Corporation, putting the deal on schedule to close in early January. Scientific Games President and CEO Kevin Sheehan (l.) says the combination will create a world leader in end-to-end product portfolio.

Paradise to Pay IGT in Patent Dispute

Macau-based Paradise Entertainment Ltd. Has agreed to pay International Game Technology a fee of $800,000 to settle a patent dispute over its licensed products.

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Japan Congress Set for May

The third edition of the Japan Gaming Congress, focused on the impending Japan integrated resort industry, will be held at the Conrad Tokyo May 10-11.

G2E Asia to Feature Lottery Expo

The G2E Asia 2018 trade show and conference will debut the Asia Lottery Expo and Forum, a three-cay sub-event focusing on lottery products and business issues.

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Skins Betting At McDonald’s?

A lawyer for two YouTube stars accused of running a skins betting site for the game Counter Strike Global Offensive has told a gaming website that the contest was no different than those run by fast food restaurant McDonald’s. News of the site leaked in 2016 and helped set off the controversy about skins betting in video games. The site drew a number of civil suits, but no criminal charges were filed.

Casinos Send Lobsters into Battle

Lobsters are the succulent weapons in a battle between San Diego area casinos for the hearts and stomachs of patrons. Some casinos offer all-you-can-eat lobster buffets, others spread lobster around their various restaurant offerings.

Bad Beat Bad News for Station

The Nevada Gaming Control Board will rule in January on a dispute involving a bad-beat jackpot progressive at Station Casinos’ Red Rock Resort.

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