MGM Resorts International is considering parting with the two marquee Strip names, Bellagio (l.) and MGM Grand, as it responds to pressure from activist investors to boost the value of its extensive real estate portfolio. A sale and leaseback, the expected route, could be worth as much as $7 billion. Chairman and CEO Jim Murren says a committee has been formed to evaluate the company’s real estate and potential.
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Mayor Lori Lightfoot (l.) revealed her five choices for the potential location of a Chicago casino, all on the south or west sides. No downtown sites were included due to opposition from the convention and tourism industries. Lightfoot noted, "This is not the definitive list," depending on the results of Union Gaming Analytics' feasibility study on each location.
Businessman and former leader of the local legislature Ho Iat Seng (l.) has won all but 22 nominations from the Chief Executive Election Committee. It means Beijing’s choice for the post will run unopposed when the formality of an election is conducted in August.
Even thought Kien Huat, the family trust controlled by Genting Chairman KT Lim, already owns 86 percent of publicly traded Empire Resorts, the company that owns Resorts World Catskills (l.), papers were filed last week by Kien to purchase the outstanding shares. A Genting spokesman said great efficiencies could be obtained by going private.
Greece will accelerate its regulatory process so a long-stalled tourism destination at a vacant Athens airport can launch by the end of the year, Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis (l.) said last week.
Dave Palermo died last week, and the gaming industry mourns. GGB Publisher Roger Gros remembers what he meant to the industry, to tribal gaming and to his casino industry family.
Last week the LDP Party of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (l.) and coalition partner the Komeito won 71 of 124 open seats in the House of Councillors. That’s good news for supporters of Abe’s IR plan for the country. Now officials in Osaka, Yokohama and other cities can begin making plans for the bidding process to start.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt recently proposed renegotiating tribal compacts, which will expire in January 2020, to raise the exclusivity tax rate tribes currently pay. Stitt said the original rate was fair when it was negotiated 15 years ago. But tribal leaders, recently joined by Kiowa Tribal Chairman Matthew M. Komalty (l.), signed a resolution rejecting Stitt's proposal, claiming the compacts should automatically renew at the same rate.
Revelations including ties between D.C. officials and Greek lottery operator Intralot fuel the controversy over Intralot’s no-bid award to run the district’s sports betting. Several city councilmen and Mayor Muriel Bowser (l.) are alleged to have ties to individuals who will profit from D.C. sports betting.
Governments in their zeal to protect their citizens often make decisions that often do the opposite. The FOBT crackdown in the UK has caused massive job loses and tax revenue declines and little if any impact on problem gambling. But the government is considering even more draconian measures.
GLOBAL GAMING BUSINESS PODCAST: Jane F. Bokunewicz, Associate Professor Hospitality, Stockton University Atlantic City
This week, the GGB Podcast brings Jane F. Bokunewicz, an associate professor of hospitality at Stockton University in Atlantic City on a new study just released that gauged the gambling habits of students at Stockton.
The Philippine Commission on Audit has asked the country’s gaming regulator to shut down the Manila Bay branch (l.) of its Casino Filipino brand, calling it a money-loser. The regulator/operator has refuted the COA’s findings.
Shareholders of Australian operator of Southeast Asian casinos Donaco International Ltd have voted to remove directors Joey Lim and Ben Lim (l.) from the firm’s board. The vote was taken July 18. The brothers are scions of the Lim family that owns Genting.
Japanese gamblers are crucial to the success of casinos in South Korea, but operators in Korea say they’re not concerned about the prospect of Japan opening its first resorts in the next few years. Officials with Mohegan’s Incheon-based Inspire (l.) said there are plenty of gamblers to go around.
Naga3 (l.), the sprawling US$3.5 billion Phase III addition to NagaWorld, will put the Cambodia integrated resort on par with the most lavish IRs in Macau. That’s the word from Hong Kong-listed NagaCorp.
Inspectors from Macau’s gaming regulatory agency turned up unannounced at VIP rooms at seven casinos, ostensibly looking for illegal gambling. They found none, they said. But China’s recent shaming of junket giant Suncity is likely to keep them on their toes.
The super-luxury Cotai hotel 13 (l.) is only partially open, still has no casino and is contributing next to nothing to owner South Shore Holdings. The company claimed HK$5.84 billion in losses for the latest financial year, mostly stemming from its development and opening.
A study from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports that a combination of weak regulations and subpar law enforcement have made Southeast Asian casinos a hub of organized crime and money laundering.
The government of the Indian state of Goa, which has missed eight deadlines to relocate six offshore casinos operating on the Mandovi River, has promised for the ninth time to move the boats.
Tokyo’s High Court has rejected an attempt by Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada (l.) to regain control of Universal Entertainment Corp., the company he founded, but that forced him out for financial improprieties in 2017.
Imperial Pacific International has not yet completed its long-delayed Imperial Palace Saipan, but now has broken ground on another integrated resort in the CNMI, to be called Imperial Casha in Tanapag (model at left).
Australia-listed casino investor Frontier Capital Group Ltd. planned last week to reopen gaming operations at the Hotel Stotsenberg in the Clark Freeport Zone over the weekend. The casino had a soft launch on June 10.
The Manila Jockey Club has made a deal to sell its racetrack in Cavite to Philippine real estate firm Ayala Land Inc. It will move from the original site within two years, making way for a new central business district.
The UK Gambling Commission will begin a 12-week consultation process in August to study whether to ban the use of credit cards at gambling sites and shops. The consultation continues a process begun in February studying the effects a ban would have on the industry. The consultation seeks input from interested in parties in areas such as alternative payment options and the indirect use of credit cards to fund gambling.
Ladbrokes and Coral have seen high street betting shop earnings fall after cuts were made to the maximum bet allowed on FOBTS. The company reported a 19 percent fall in its retail arm in the second quarter. However, expansion into other gaming areas saw the company see sales overall grow by 3 percent.
The Irish Government, which is reviewing its gambling laws, is reportedly considering a tax break for smaller operators who generate a yearly turnover below €2.5 million. The Irish Times reports that Finance Minister Paschal Donohue (l.) is prepared to listen to the concerns presented by the Irish Bookmakers Association about taxing smaller operators, especially in the country’s horseracing industry.
The government of Spain has set up a commission to combat match-fixing and fraud in the country’s sports betting industry. The board will identify and prevent illegal actions in sports competitions and fraud in betting.
In Chatham, Ontario, the new $36 million Cascades Casino quietly opened to the public. An official opening will occur August 8. Cascades is Gateway Casinos and Entertainment's first new Ontario facility. Meanwhile, 70 employees will be laid off at Ramara and Innisfil casinos due to reduced restaurant hours, new technology and "other basic business efficiencies."
An Ontario crime syndicate's casino activities were the "weak link" leading to the arrests of nine people including crime boss Angelo Figliomeni. Police said the group's gambling patterns and large cash transactions generated reports of suspicious transactions. Police also seized $35 million in assets, including 27 homes and 23 luxury vehicles.
The National Association of Collegiate Esports membership took steps to becoming a regulatory agency for eSports at colleges by approving several bylaws and constitution changes. One would create “intent” letters for eSports players intended to better enforce its rules and curb the trend of player poaching between schools. About 150 groups are now members of the association.
Betsoft Gaming will partner with OGaming, bringing Betsoft games to all of the operator’s brands, in the latest move in Betsoft’s global expansion.
Ganapati will release a slot game themed to showcase the career of legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao (l.), with proceeds to go to the boxer’s charity foundation in the Philippines.
August Gaming announced that its online random number generator has been certified by the test laboratory iTech Labs for use in the Philippines and the U.K
The New York Gaming Commission is backing a study on the potential for expanded sports betting. The project could prove to be just what advocates for remote betting are looking for. State Senator Joseph Addabbo (l.) says that the state is losing millions by failing to legalize online sports betting.
According to figures from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, more than 40 percent of an about $46.3 million sports betting handle in June was wagered online. Only one sportsbook app was available all month and two others were available for about a week. For June, $27 million came from the eight physical sportsbooks in the state and $19.3 million in wagers were made online.
In Indiana, temporary sports betting licenses have been issued by the state gaming commission to nine casinos, including Boyd Gaming’s Blue Chip (l.), and three off-track betting parlors. Officials said sports betting will become legal on September 1 but the roll-out may or may not occur on that date. Retail on-site betting could launch first, followed by online/mobile wagering.
Michigan state Rep. Brandt Iden (l.) says he will introduce another sports betting bill in August in his seventh try to get sports betting approved in the state. Iden told legal Sports Report he has waited on introducing the bill to make changes designed to finally get it passed. Even so, he said he doesn’t expect the bill to even be discussed until the state legislature settles on a budget.
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission approved Betfred, the world's largest privately owned retail bookmaker, to team with Elite Casino Resorts to provide technology and operate on-premise, mobile and online sports betting at Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort (l.), in Larchwood, Iowa. Betfred operates more than 1,600 retail stores in the United Kingdom.
Nasdaq Inc. has announced a deal with Football Index where it will provide the company with a trading engine. Football Index is a soccer player stock market and the deal will allow customers to buy and sell shares in professional players. Nasdaq will provide a flexible, cloud-based trading solution to the index.
Bay State Lawmaker Brad Hill’s (l.) patience is running low when it comes to the state approving of a sports bill. The Massachusetts legislature has been working on several such bills, include Hill’s, since January, without much to show for it.
Rhode Island’s first year of offering sports betting didn’t meet expectations. One month it took in less money than it paid out. But things appear to be looking up for the second year, thanks to mobile sports betting.
Washington state’s gaming regulators expect black market activity in sports betting to spiral upwards as lawmakers work to hammer out a legislative framework for legalizing sports book. He expects a law to emerge from the legislature sometime in 2020.
Now that the second casino, Encore Boston Harbor, has opened in Massachusetts, the first casino would like to become a full-fledge gaming hall, complete with table games. Officials with Plainridge Park Casino (l.) cite the recent opening of the Tiverton and Twin River casinos in Rhode Island.
The Palmetto Forum for Gaming Studies in South Carolina held its first meeting to determine public opinion regarding casino gambling. The state is one of only nine without a commercial or tribal casino. One of the group's founders, Dr. Jim Rex (l.), said it is "committed to examining, in an objective way, any advantages or disadvantages of having gaming in South Carolina."
Ho-Chunk, the Winnebago Tribe's economic development arm, will launch a petition drive to place on the November 2020 ballot a constitutional amendment allowing casino gambling at six state-licensed horse racetracks, according to its president and CEO, Lance Morgan (l.). Other petitions call for laws regulating and taxing casino gambling. A similar drive failed in 2016 when the required number of signatures was not gathered.
The Portsmouth, Virginia city council approved a resolution supporting a $500 million casino-entertainment district near Tidewater Community College, instead of the previously approved former Holiday Inn site on the Elizabeth River. Mayor John Rowe (l.) calls it a better site. The 400,000 square foot complex could include a performance venue, meeting space, 4-star hotel, restaurants, retail and a movie theater, creating 4,000 jobs.
The Gary, Indiana Plan Commission unanimously approved Spectacle Entertainment's request for a planned unit developing following the company's presentation of a timeline for the proposed $400 million Hard Rock Casino that will replace the Majestic Star casino (l.). Officials said the casino will open December 31, 2020, with a hotel and parking garage to follow soon after.
Stating it needs more time, the Arkansas Racing Commission put off hearing an appeal by Gulfside Casino Partnership about its Pope County casino license application. The commission rejected Gulfside's and four other casinos' applications for lacking letters of endorsement from current county officials. Gulfside argues its letters from previous officials are valid.
The expanded gambling law signed by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker also could expand the St. Louis gambling market, since two casinos--the Casino Queen (l.) in East St. Louis and Argosy Casino in Alton—are located east of the Mississippi River. If they add gaming positions as the law allows, the market could reach to Reno levels.
Cure Land Company recently received approval from the Mississippi Gaming Commission to build a casino on 98.5 acres in Hancock County, near the Silver Slipper Casino (l.). The proposed casino would offer 40,000 square feet of gaming space, 1,100 slot machines and 22 table games plus a 300-room hotel.
For the second time, the Miss America Pageant will leave its traditional Atlantic City home for a new casino destination. The 2020 Pageant will be held at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. The pageant is also switching broadcasters from ABC to NBC. The move to the Mohegan Sun comes after the pageant lost a subsidy to broadcast from Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.
Pennsylvania gaming revenue rose to more than $3.3 billion in the last fiscal year, setting a new record for the No. 2 commercial gaming jurisdiction in the U.S.
In Illinois, after business owners protested, the Danville city council delayed passing an ordinance limiting video gambling licenses to establishments that receive more than half their revenue from non-gaming sources. And the Oswego village board unanimously voted to allow licensed businesses to offer six instead of five video gambling machines, as permitted under the new state law.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has placed a freeze on $235 million in financial aid for state municipalities including about $3.3 million for Atlantic City. The resort has been trying to climb out of debt that nearly saw it declare bankruptcy two years ago. The freeze would be considered a credit negative for the city and the other municipalities where aid was frozen.
The Virgin Group, owned by Sir Richard Branson, has opened a hotel in San Francisco (l.). It is part of an unconventional hotel chain, including some casinos, that will stretch across the North American continent and across the Atlantic.
The tribe based on Martha’s Vineyard, in Massachusetts, has halted all construction work while its appeal of a decision forcing it to submit its Class II casino to land use rules and permitting from the city of Aquinnah. It is appealing to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. Tribal Chairwoman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais (l.) said she is committed to site safety.
Several years ago Wells Fargo Bank loaned $250 million to the California-based Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians to help it refinance its casino loan for the Chukchansi casino (l.). Now the bank is suing in New York court, alleging that the tribe is violating the terms of the loan agreement.
Revenue from New Mexico’s tribal casinos has seen a 10 percent decline in the last six years. The information was giving to lawmakers by the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee, which bases its calculations on how much the state’s 24 casinos pay in revenue sharing.
The tribe that is based in Palm Springs, California has partnered with Oak View Group and Live Nation Entertainment to propose a $250 million 10,000-seat sports arena and entertainment center. The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians will hold a groundbreaking next February.
Ground was broken for expansions at the Prairie Band Casino & Resort in Mayetta, Kansas, owned by the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. Set for completion in October 2020, the project will include a 74-room hotel tower, indoor/outdoor pools, spa and fitness center, convention space, dining options and a game room with virtual Top Golf.
Wilton Rancheria Tribal Chairman Raymond “Chuckie” Hitchcock remains unfazed by a lawsuit that has been launched by Stand Up by California. He says the tribe has obtained the financing for its proposed $500 million Wilton Resort Casino Spa.
The city council of Tucson, Arizona, has approved of a preliminary intergovernmental agreement with the Pascua Yaqui. The agreement allows the tribe to put 14.38 acres into trust and build a casino within city limits.
The Kern County, California Board of Supervisors has proposed a $218 million, 20-year intergovernmental deal with the Tejon Indians. The county would provide police and emergency services to the $600 million Hard Rock International hotel and casino.
Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino and Resort near Phoenix recently opened the Events Center. The expanded conference center connects directly to the 529-room hotel and is extremely flexible in its possible configurations.
Seven Pennsylvania casinos have failed to have a court order the state lottery to stop offering online games. The casinos were seeking an injunction to stop the games as part of an ongoing lawsuit against the state. The judge in the case has not ruled on whether the lottery games are legal under the state’s 2017 gaming expansion law, but said she will move quickly to rule on the case.
The Multi-State Lottery Association has settled a class-action lawsuit linked to an inside lottery scam for $4.3 million, and purchasers of losing tickets will be able to file for refunds.
Confirmation hearings began in the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs for E. Sequoyah Simermeyer to replace Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri as chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, which oversees the $32 billion tribal gaming industry. Simermeyer, a Coharie Indian Tribe citizen, currently serves as associate commissioner of the NIGC.
The National Hockey League has retained former American Gaming Association executive Sara Slane as a consultant to help the league capitalize on legal sports betting. Slane will advise the league on sports betting strategies, the cultivation of new partnerships in the gaming and sports betting marketplace, and gaming legislation, the league said.
Legendary bookmaker Jimmy Vaccaro will leave his position running the sports book operation at Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino and return to the South Point in Las Vegas.
Konami Gaming has promoted longtime regulatory compliance manager Lori Olk as the company’s new vice president, regulatory compliance.
Justin Moore has been named the general manager of Rivers Casino in Schenectady, New York. Moore is responsible for day-to-day operations at the resort, overseeing more than 1,000 employees.
An Australian court has delayed the first hearing in slot-maker Aristocrat’s infringement suit against Ainsworth Game Technology until September 4, with briefs due by August 28. Aristocrat contends that Ainsworth’s Jackpot Strike is too close to its Lightning Link progressive.
Merkur’s Rapid Thunder in-game jackpot bonus has successfully completed a series of tests across Mexico following successful showings at NIGA, Juegos Miami and the Peru Gaming Show.
Universal Entertainment Corp. has announced the introduction of a new Slot Program Play System that allows operators to offer preferred services to VIP players at its Okada Manila integrated resort in Manila’s Entertainment City casino complex.
Clarion Gaming Managing Director Kate Chambers (l.) say the company’s new status as a member of the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers is a reflection of the support the company’s shows give the supplier sector.
The National Council on Problem Gambling held a successful 33rd National Conference on Gambling Addiction & Responsible Gambling in Denver July 17-20.
Exhibitors from 26 global gaming jurisdictions will showcase their products and services at ICE Africa, to be held October 2-3 in Sandton, South Africa.
Small Nuggets of News
Outrageous pronouncements, simple statements and words of wisdom