MGM’s “asset-light strategy” has borne fresh fruit in the form of a $4.5 billion deal with Blackstone Group for its Bellagio resort (l.) in Las Vegas and an $825 million deal with Phil Ruffin for Circus Circus. Circus Circus is being sold outright. Bellagio will still be MGM’s to operate under a long-term lease. The funds will be used to pay down debt, according to MGM Resorts Chairman Jim Murren.
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Global Gaming Expo wrapped up last week boasting robust attendance, a vibrant show floor and stellar networking opportunities. Show organizers estimated more than 27,000 people made their way to the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas. An opening keynote by former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie played to a packed house, following a “state of the industry” by American Gaming Association President and CEO Bill Miller (l.).
The Macau government’s tourism chief pointed to a robust Golden Week holiday and the impact of the new bridge connecting the casino hub to Zhuhai and Hong Kong in her latest forecast for a near-record year for visitor arrivals. Also border crossings (l.) have been eased for Chinese and Hong Kong visitors.
Passing gaming laws and adopting regulations is slow going in Washington State. The legislature is part-time and meets for two months in some years. The state Gambling Commission may not meet more than 10 times a year. Currently, legislators are moving—slowly—on several bills that could legalize sports betting, including one by Rep. Joe Schmick (l.)
The Nevada Gaming Control Board has asked the Nevada Gaming Commission to find former Wynn Resorts chairman and CEO Steve Wynn “unsuitable” to hold a license in the state. Citing the many instances of alleged sexual misconduct that drove Wynn out of the company, the board says he “repeatedly violated Nevada’s gaming statutes and regulations” and brought “discredit upon the state of Nevada and its gaming industry”.
Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment of Connecticut, one of two U.S. operators vying for a Greek casino license, has revealed renderings of its planned integrated resort at the former Hellenikon International Airport near Athens. Mohegan CEO Mario Kontomakeros said the tribal company is “ready to begin as soon as we receive all the necessary approvals.”
U.S. Interior Department attorneys have asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by MGM Resorts International challenging is decision to allow an amendment to the gaming compacts between Connecticut and its two gaming tribes. The amendment allows the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans to operate a casino called Tribal Winds (l.) in East Windsor, 14 miles from MGM Springfield.
Research commissioned by the American Gaming Association (AGA) shows growing approval for the casino gaming industry. Some 49 percent of U.S. adults held a favorable view, up 4 points from 2018. The figures coincide with a surge in casino visitation, which increased 9 points to 44 percent in 2019. Even more people expect to gamble at a casino this year.
For five years, he oversaw the massive project of opening the $2.3 billion Encore Boston Harbor. Last week, four months after the casino opened its doors, Wynn Resorts announced the departure of President Robert DeSalvio.
The Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM) has selected Tom Nieman as the recipient of the 2019 Jens Halle Memorial Award Honoring Excellence in Commercial Gaming Professionalism, and the late Dave Palermo as the recipient of the 2019 Peter Mead Memorial Award Honoring Excellence in Gaming Media & Communications. At left, Tom Nieman, center left, and Natalie Burt, accepting the award on behalf of the late Dave Palermo, with AGEM President Luke Orchard, left, and AGEM Executive Director Marcus Prater.
Talk of an economic downturn is just that, according to many gaming CEOs interviewed by Fantini Reports at G2E. From robust wagering business to lots of financial activity, the gaming industry is alive, well and thriving.
Joining us on the GGB Podcast this week is Charles Cohen, the vice president of PlayDigital Sports Betting for IGT on his company’s success during the first year of legal sports betting in the U.S. Don’t miss a single episode of the GGB Podcasts. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify today.
And then there were three. Wynn Resorts recently announced it’s no longer interested in bidding on an integrated resort license in Osaka, Japan (l.), but is now looking at Tokyo. Wynn’s exit and the recent departure of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. could mean a better chance for MGM Resorts International, which will go up against Galaxy Group and Genting.
Curbing problem gambling by employees is the goal of new rules that will prohibit most categories of workers from visiting casinos in their off-duty hours. The extended ban will cover around 54,000 employees, including several thousand who work for the junkets.
The Macau government collected MOP394.2 million (US$48.7 million) from a 5 percent tax on junket commissions in 2018, exceeding the amount forecast by 40 percent. This year isn’t expected to be so good.
The owners of the 13, a struggling luxury resort on Cotai, have reached an agreement sell an existing shareholder a 40 percent interest for HK$750 million, or about US$90 million. They said the sale of another 10 percent could follow soon.
Ladbrokes-Coral owner GVC plans to close 900 shops in the UK by the end of 2021. The company blames the closings on the British decision to slash the maximum stake for in-store machines. On a lesser scale, an Isle of Man bookmaker has shut its doors completely. MustardBet, launched in 2018, hoped to become the industry’s leading low-margin sportsbook.
Austrian gaming group Novomatic has acquired Casino Riviera (l.) in the Slovenian seaside resort of Portoroz. With the acquisition, the company now controls nine out of 26 licensed casinos in the country.
Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie (l.) is calling for a formal investigation of Crown Resorts after a second whistleblower emerged to say the company made a practice of helping its VIP clients bypass customs and providing illegal perks like drugs and prostitutes.
The Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has received six proposals for casino projects. Before any further movement can take place, the state would have to amend the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974, which prohibits gambling. Concurrently, plans are apparently in motion to finally relocate Goa’s casino cruises from the Mandovi River.
The Saskatchewan Gaming Corp. and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) have reached an agreement for workers at Casino Regina (l.) that includes a 4.5 percent salary increase over five years and a 0.5 percent increase to the pension plan.
Construction is under way for the Great Blue Heron Casino (l.) in Ontario, Canada to open a four-story hotel in July 2020. The project is an enterprise of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, but is being financed by Ontario Gaming GTA, which won the rights to operate the casino with its successful bid for the GTA Bundle.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board says online poker will begin in the very near future. New Jersey’s experience may give some clues. Because the Garden State is better established in online gaming, many companies begin in New Jersey—think Fox Bet.
A UK company known as The Spinner may face a Facebook lawsuit for helping gambling companies target individual users through the social media giant and manipulate people into spending more on online casinos. The targets could include those underage. The objection comes after Facebook stands accused of influencing elections and consumer products.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has partnered with IMG Arena to create the UFC Event Center, which will give bettors an array of live betting options in real time. Reversals, knockdowns, submissions, takedown attempts, and takedowns landed will be routinely provided. Official data from the UFC will be available to sportsbooks for a licensing fee and a share of gross gaming yield. At left, UFC President Dana White and champion Amanda Nunes announced the deal at last week’s G2E in Las Vegas.
In September, the first full month of legalized sports betting in Iowa and Indiana, Iowa gamblers spent $38.5 million betting on sports and Indiana bettors wagered $35.2 million. In Iowa, mobile gambling accounted for nearly $21.8 million, or 56.6 percent, of the total. Indiana sports betting was on-site only but mobile betting launched October 1.
A Windsor, Ontario candidate is calling on the provincial government to approve a long-term effort to permit single-game betting on sports. The Canadian Gaming Association supports those efforts, made more urgent since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled sports betting legal in 2018. Sandra Pupatello (l.) outlined the benefits not just to Windsor but to the country in terms of revenue and jobs.
At a meeting of an Ohio House committee on sports betting, a Professional Golf Association (PGA) executive said the league and others want to require sportsbooks to pay for the use of official league data. Lawmakers countered the leagues have been providing this data at no cost for years.
Southern California’s San Manuel Band of Mission Indians has announced a sponsoring partnership with the Las Vegas Raiders and Allegiant Stadium. San Manuel Band CEO Loren Gill (l.) declared, “The popularity of the Raiders in Southern California is unmatched. Through this partnership, we are thrilled to offer our guests more access to high-quality sports and entertainment.”
Sportradar has purchased Optima, a sports betting and gaming platform in a deal that creates a full-service B2B shop with data, betting, trading and player management. These services will expand the current catalog to operators. According to Sportradar, the acquisition positions the company to become the world’s leading supplier of betting services and solutions.
Nerd Street Gamers headed by CEO John Fazio (l. in group photo) has raised $12 million from retailer Five Below to create eSports centers adjacent to the stores. The centers will host leagues, training camps, tourneys and showcases. Five Below will roll out a pilot program to build 3,000-square-foot spaces connected to multiple stores.
Research company Eilers & Krejcik has identified specific types of sports bettors, from sharps and high rollers to would-be pros, action chasers, superfans, status-seekers and casual dabblers. For example, sharps are driven to make a profit, while casual dabblers only bet on major events like the Super Bowl.
To protect student-athletes from pressures and protect the integrity of the university, trustees at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana approved banning students, faculty, staff and contractors from betting on Boilermakers games. The ban will impact more than 63,000 students, 19,000 faculty and staff plus contractors at the West Lafayette, Purdue Northwest and Fort Wayne campuses.
Maverick Gaming, led by CEO Eric Persson, last week announced that it was completing its purchase of the Wizards Casino in Burien. This rounds out Maverick’s purchases in the state, giving it 20 commercial casinos and a dominant position.
The city of Newport, Rhode Island has decided to delay for six months any decisions on the massive redevelopment that is contemplated for the site where the Newport Grand Casino (l.) once operated. City Council voted for the moratorium last week, and the developer is not pleased.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (l.) has proposed two options for that city's casino, included in Illinois' new gambling bill. One option would provide city-state ownership, the other would make the casino privately owned. Lightfoot also wants to lower the gambling bill's effective tax rate to 45 percent from 72 percent, which a feasibility study called “very onerous."
Plainridge Park Casino (l.), owned and operated by Penn National Gaming, is up for re-licensing. The property’s five-year casino license expires in 2020 and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission wants to get a head start on consideration since it is the first time a license would be renewed.
Up to 160 adult arcades in Jacksonville, Florida could be forced to close following the city council's recent vote to lift an enforcement delay on illegal simulated gambling machines. The businesses can remain open as long as they offer legal games, like bingo and video games. More than 2,700 people could lose their jobs.
A lawsuit filed by one of Alaska’s tribes, the Native Village of Eklutna, against the U.S. Interior Department has the potential to upset the applecart in the Last Frontier and open the state to Indian gaming. Interior recently denied the tribe approval to open a casino in Anchorage.
The Wind Creek Bethlehem casino resort officially opened last week after three years of planning and improvements, and as the work begins on $190 million worth of expansions. The grand opening celebration included a charity event.
The Seminole Tribe no longer pays the state of Florida its annual revenue share of $350 million due to a dispute over designated card games offered at parimutuels. Now the state is seeking to replace those funds, allowing parimutuels like Gulfstream (l.) to relocate their permits, extend operating hours and increase bet limits, and legalizing sports betting.
In rural Riverside County, the Cahuilla Band of Indians are building their new $35.2 million Cahuilla Casino Hotel, to replace the existing structure (l.). The Indians are looking at a tentative opening date sometime next spring.
For the sixth year in a row, last week the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise ceremonially presented a check for $5 million to the Navajo Nation’s Gaming Distribution Fund. The presentation was made at the start of the 24th Navajo Nation summer legislative session.
A Norfolk, Virginia group is gathering signatures for a referendum on a proposed $700 million casino to be developed by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe. The group said an email blast including a form allowing people to remove their names from the petitions was inappropriately sent. Another group recently formed in support of the casino.
Southern California’s Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians have received the approval from the federal government that will allow it to put 13 acres into trust and open a third tribal casino, according to tribal Chairman Jeff Grubbe (l.). The casino will be located in downtown Cathedral City.
Michigan's 12 casino-operating tribes made payouts to local governments of $30.1 million for 2018, an increase of 0.87 percent over 2017. The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe led the rest with a $6.03 million payout, followed by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians at $5.7 million and the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians at $5.74 million.
Stephen Bruner (l.), a candidate for principal chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, faces four criminal conspiracy charges regarding a raid on a restaurant on his family's allotment in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where 100 unlicensed slots were in operation. The case will be considered at a hearing October 22 in Muscogee (Creek) Nation District Court.
The Florida Lottery recently renewed its contract with Scientific Games for scratch-off games. The contract will provide an estimated $135 million for education through 2027, with extension options up to an additional seven years.
Not surprisingly, Eldorado Resorts has chosen six of the 11 directors who will govern the combined companies. Three others were handpicked by Carl Icahn, indicating the corporate raider will retain a significant influence in the newly formed gaming giant. Jan Jones Blackhurst (l.) is one of three women on the 11-member board and will retain the position she was appointed to last month.
Ainsworth Game Technology has announced that its North American president, John Bertolone, has resigned to take on a role as executive director at the International Center for Gaming Regulation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The North American team will be managed by CEO Lawrence Levy (l.)
Novomatic AG has named Robert Roosendaal (l.) a key account director, responsible for distribution of the complete Novomatic product portfolio in several key countries.
EFCO, a world-class supplier of industrial PC, gaming and EMS solutions, brought its latest gaming logic computer solutions to G2E 2019 with support for both the eighth generation Intel Core, Pentium and Celeron processor families (Coffee Lake) as well as the AMD Ryzen Embedded V1000 processor family.
Win Systems has completed a landmark financing package with Fortress and Goldman Sachs, raising $125 million of committed capital to fund its expansion into Latin America and elsewhere. The company has a track record of providing information management systems.
Next Gaming will introduce its skill-based, arcade-style gaming machines for a trial at the Linq in Las Vegas, and will soon test them at a Downtown Las Vegas casino.
MGA Games has joined Codere Colombia’s portfolio of online games, the companies have announced. After completing integration of these releases on the Codere Colombia platform, the casino slots and video bingo content certified in the Latin American country are now available for all gamers on the portal.
Agilysys Inc., a leading global provider of next-generation hospitality software solutions and services, has announced that Choctaw Casinos & Resorts has selected its Agilysys suite of Property Management System (PMS) products.
Konami Gaming Inc. has announced that its Synkros casino management system has been selected by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in California to deliver systems technology across the property’s entire gaming operations.
The power of the patented Fuzion technology from JCM Global continues to grow and benefit casino operators. Now, JCM has partnered with eConnect to further increase casino security and enhance surveillance and audit capabilities through real-time AML (Anti-Money Laundering) and SAR (Suspicious Activity Reporting) alerts.
JCM Global and Eurocoin have expanded their long-term relationship. Under a new agreement, JCM will now represent Eurocoin printers in North America and Latin America for a wide range of commercial applications.
The British Columbia Lottery Corp. is introducing a new responsible gaming tool called PlayPlanner at all casinos and gaming halls in the Canadian province as part of its commitment to encourage positive play and informed decision-making.
Japan’s Innovent Inc. has announced that at least five international IR operators will attend the upcoming 1st Japan IR Expo in Hokkaido, to be held at AXES Sapporo on Wednesday and Thursday, December 11-12, 2019.
Small Nuggets of News
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