VICI Conquers Cleveland

Analysts are applauding the $843.3 million deal announced by real estate investment trust VICI Properties in which it will buy and then lease back the JACK Cleveland Casino (l.) and nearby JACK Thistledown Racino. The transaction is expected to close in early 2020. The properties will continue to operate under the JACK name. The sale/leaseback agreement is JACK Entertainment's third deal in the last year.

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WEEKLY FEATURE: California’s Hard Rock Opens with a Smash

With the ritual smashing of a guitar, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento last week opened the largest, most competitive casino resort in Northern California. It’s a joint project of Hard Rock International and the Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe of the Enterprise Rancheria.

Live! Philadelphia: Built to Last

Cordish Companies’ Stadium Casino celebrates the topping-off of Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia, which will open next year in the heart of South Philadelphia’s Stadium District. The location of the facility is one of the best in the northeast, accessed by several major highways and bridges.

Macau Weakness Hits Sands, SJM in Q3

Las Vegas Sands and SJM Holdings in Macau have reported declines in gaming revenue of 2 percent and 3.2 percent respectively as 2019’s double-digit drop in VIP win is taking a toll on the market. SJM, which lacks a mass-market draw on Cotai, is especially feeling the pinch. In welcome news, Sands honcho Sheldon Adelson (l.) took part in LVS’ earnings call for the first time after a long illness.

Support for Prop DD High in Colorado

With Tuesday’s election looming, it’s still hard to predict whether Colorado residents will be able to place sports bets. Voters must support Proposition DD, sponsored by House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (l.), to make the wagers possible. The additional wagering system will only add to a healthy Colorado gaming market.

Wisconsin Tribe Fights Illinois Shut-Out

The Forest County Potawatomi Community of Milwaukee, Wisconsin has cried foul in the rejection of its plan to build a casino in the city of Waukegan, Illinois. According to the tribe, it ranked highest in a consultant’s report, yet was graded last and pushed out of the running. Potawatomi CEO and General Manager Rodney Ferguson (l.) said a casino in Waukegan made sense.

Greece Reforms Gaming Laws

The Greek government has passed legislation that reforms the country’s gaming laws. A bill in the Invest in Greece package will see operators permitted to continue offering random number generator (RNG) games such as slots, an offering omitted from an earlier draft. President Prokopis Pavlopoulos (l.) now must sign the bill.

Bobby Baldwin Named Chief Executive Officer of Drew Las Vegas

Witkoff has appointed former MGM and Mirage executive Bobby Baldwin as vice chairman of Witkoff and chief executive officer of Drew Las Vegas. Baldwin will help develop the long-delayed Las Vegas Strip property as well as advise the company on long-term growth.

SWIMA: On the Lookout for Suspicious Bets

Launched six months ago, the Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association (SWIMA) alerts members of possible suspicious betting. If staff determine an activity raises red flags, SWIMA notifies regulators in 10 participating states, according to Chief Integrity Officer George Rover (l.). FanDuel sees the organization as an important way to find cheaters.

Yahoo, MGM Resorts Bring Online Betting to Fantasy App

Thanks to an agreement between Yahoo Sports and MGM Resorts, patrons can bet online through Yahoo’s fantasy sports app. Fans will be able to bet on a number of sports from the NBA to the NHL to tennis. The deal also brings content and live events into play. One executive said it will change the future of fandom.

The Myth of Chris Christie

The deification of former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is under way in the sports betting world. But industry observer Richard Schuetz isn’t a fan. He explains how Christie stumbled into the sports betting arena and why he may not deserve the accolades showered upon him.

FANTINI’S FINANCE: Assets or Operations?

MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren last week outlined the potential sale of the remaining real estate assets of the company. His vision is to transform MGM into a developer-manager-operator that will propel it into a unique role as an entertainment company.

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Japan: MGM Recommits to Osaka

In Japan, MGM Resorts International has changed its longstanding “Osaka First” policy to “Osaka Only,” doubling down on its commitment to build an integrated resort (l.) in the city and prefecture. MGM has its eye on Yumeshima Island, and hopes to fast-track its resort to open in 2025.

Singapore: Higher Entry Fees Keep Some Gamblers Away

In April, the Singapore government decreed that residents would have to pay 50 percent more to enter the two local integrated resorts, Marina Bay Sands (l.) and Resorts World Sentosa. The higher fees, designed to reduce problem gambling, have resulted in a 4 percent drop in GGR at the Sands.

Shuttered Cambodian Casino Wants to Reopen

The owners of a Cambodian casino that was closed last summer for multiple violations have applied to build a new casino in another location. Jin Ding Casino (l.) was shut down in May for operating without a license, promoting illegal online betting and releasing untreated sewage into the sea.

Suncity to Enter Philippines

Hong Kong’s Suncity Group Holdings Ltd. announced last week that it will get into the Philippines gaming market with a deal to operate a casino resort in Manila’s Entertainment City (l.). Its competition there is formidable: Entertainment City Manila, Okada Manila, Solaire and Resorts World Manila.

Macau Battling Illicit Cash From China

Macau is warning of a crackdown on street-level payment services purporting to help visitors evade China’s strict currency controls by transferring money out of their online accounts on the mainland. The warning comes with the threat of hefty fines.

LVS Fight With Ex-Asian Partner Delayed

A Macau court has granted a Taiwan company a postponement until next September in its $12 billion lawsuit against the Las Vegas Sands Corp. The company, LVS’ original partner in its Macau concession bid, claims it was illegally dumped in favor of the Galaxy Entertainment bid that ultimately won the license.

EUROPEAN GAMING More

Latvian Tax Takes a Toll on VIP Play

With a new tax on player winnings, one gaming operator in Latvia complains that VIP play has taken a dive. Storm International opened its Shangri La Casino (l.) in Riga in November 2017.

Genting UK Revamps Glasgow Casino in Asian Theme

Genting UK is in the midst of a major overhaul of its Glasgow Sauchiehall Street Casino. The renovations, to be finished by the end of November, will create an Asian-themed décor throughout. The work will also add a new gaming room with electronic games and slots. The company will host relaunch events in conjunction with Chinese New Year.

Spain Cities Take On Problem Gambling

Concerns about problem gambling in Spain has led some regional governments to take action. The number of players is increasing; in 2018, the figure reached more than 1.4 million people, 5.24 percent more than a year before, many of them young adults.

UKGC Urges New Problem Gambling Standards

At a gaming compliance forum in Malta, Neil McArthur, chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission, said new standards are needed to help addicted gamblers. This follows a study a year ago that looked at 123 online casino operators. About a third of those need to submit an action plan to raise standards.

Swiss Look to Reduce Gambling Addiction

An independent foundation in Switzerland has introduced a digital program to help spread awareness and relief for addicted Swiss gamblers. The program offers advice such as setting spending limits and time-out periods. A study released in October found three percent of the population is addicted or at risk of addiction.

GLOBAL GAMING More

Australia: Star Proposes Billions in Gold Coast Investment

Australian casino operator Star Entertainment Group Ltd. says it will invest billions of dollars in the Star Gold Coast (l.)—but only if the Queensland government tables plans for a second casino. Star Chairman John O’Neill said “this level of commitment … would require exclusivity.”

Crimean Gaming Zone to Open by 2022

The republic of Crimea on Russia’s Black Sea will introduce a gaming zone by 2022. The zone was first approved after Crimea’s annexation in 2014; according to estimates, the industry can bring in up to 25 billion rubles (US$390 million) a year.

Crown’s VIP Sales Swoon Amid Global Challenges

Australia’s Crown Resorts Ltd. last week said VIP revenues at its resorts Down Under plummeted 46 percent between July and October 20 due to declining tourism numbers as Chinese gamblers curtailed their visitation. High rollers from mainland China account for much of the operator’s VIP sales at the flagship Melbourne casino (l.).

ONLINE GAMING More

Genting Buying Authentic Gaming

Genting Gaming Group has signed an agreement to acquire LeoVegas subsidiary Authentic Gaming, a supplier of live dealer iGaming solutions, for €15 million.

Australia Cracks Down on Online Casinos

The Australian government passed the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill in 2017, eliminating gray areas of the law. The effect was to drive most iGaming operators from the country, but unscrupulous operators surfaced to fill the void.

SPORTS BETTING More

N.Y. Senator Stumps Anew for Mobile Betting

Queens, New York Democrat Joseph Addabbo (l.) says he’ll reintroduce legislation to expand sports betting to the internet for players in the Empire State. His reasons, he says, are as clear as the view across the Hudson.

N.H. Sportsbook Could be Active by Super Bowl

The New Hampshire Lottery has awarded the contract for operating both retail and mobile sports betting to DraftKings, with its partner Crown Gaming Inc. Now it will be seen whether the sportsbook will be operational before the Super Bowl.

Michigan Sports Betting Bill Sent To Full House

Michigan state Rep. Brandt Iden's legislative package allowing sports betting and online casino games and fantasy sports passed the House Ways and Means Committee to move to the House floor. The measure raises the sports betting tax rate from 8 percent to 8.75 percent and includes a mandate to use official league data. MGM Detroit took the lead in opening a new sports book, the Moneyline Sports Lounge.

Ohio Sports Betting Considers Regulators

Two sports betting bills are being considered by the Ohio legislature. House Bill 194 would put the Ohio Lottery Commission in charge, with the Ohio Casino Commission conducting investigations. Senate Bill 111 names the Ohio Casino Commission as chief regulator. College and university officials asked that collegiate athletics be removed from wagering.

W. Virginia Mobile Sports Betting Topped $1M in September

Mobile sports betting revenue in West Virginia reached $1 million in September. The Greenbrier casino reported more than $450,000 on revenue through the FanDuel app, almost three times what was won in the casino itself. But at the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races the reverse occurred with the DraftKings app garnering over $712,000, a third of the on-site take.

Missouri Committee Considers Sports Betting Bill

The Missouri legislature's Special Interim Committee on Gaming recently took testimony from sports betting representatives. All supported mobile registration and wagering, a competitive tax structure, no mandates on official league data and no integrity fee. In a mature market, the state could expect $289 million in annual sports betting revenue, according Eilers & Krejcik projections.

PointsBet Seeks $80 Million For U.S. Expansion

PointsBet plans to raise $80 million to fuel expansion in the United States. Money should help with market access in Iowa, Indiana, Colorado and elsewhere, in some cases pending approval. The company released impressive results in New Jersey and Iowa to date. Other areas targeted for funding: marketing and client acquisition and technology and product development.

Montana Scopes Out Mobile Sports Betting Locations

Montana could grant up to 1,400 locations to offer sports betting with the first bets possible by the end of the year. Under the aegis of the state lottery, sports bets can be made on college and pro events. The lottery will also offer a mobile app, even though bets have to be placed within bricks and mortar location.

Golf to Roll Out Sports Betting Next Year

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan (l.) says golf will unveil sports betting options next year. The tour will work with IMG Arena on the gambling platform. He says the sport has dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s in terms of integrity and monitoring, and it’s all about fan engagement.

NCAA to Let Athletes Profit from Names, Images

Reversing a long-standing policy, the NCAA has approved a rule to let players profit from their names and likenesses. The proposed change would enable student athletes to have the same opportunity to make money as other students, provided they make education a priority. It comes just weeks after California passed a bill that allows student-athletes within the state to make such deals.

UNITED STATES GAMING More

Hard Rock Investors Submit Illinois Application

Fifty-three investors in a proposed $311 million Hard Rock casino in Rockford, Illinois electronically submitted 10,000 pages of documents to the Illinois Gaming Board to apply for a gaming license, plus a $250,000 application fee and $50,000 background check fee. Investors include Dan Fischer, owner of Dotty's gambling cafes and Cheap Trick lead guitarist Rick Nielsen.

New Casino at Atlantic City Showboat?

Showboat Atlantic City owner Bart Blatstein has applied to the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) to subdivide his property into five lots, reportedly to circumvent a deed restriction that would prevent the Showboat from opening a casino. Blatstein received preliminary approval for a gaming license in March.

SugarHouse Is Now Rivers Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s SugarHouse Casino is now Rivers Casino Philadelphia, as owner Rush Street Gaming institutes consistent branding between its three gaming properties.

Twin River, Rhode Island Settle Licensing Dispute

Twin River Worldwide Holdings has settled a dispute with the state of Rhode Island over a licensing issue. But the operator’s battle with Governor Gina Raimondo over her proposed no-bid contract with IGT continues even fiercer than before.

California Approves Bonds for Bullet Train to Vegas

The California board responsible for approving bonds for private state and public projects has approved of a $3.25 billion bond request by Virgin Trains USA to build a bullet train between Victorville, California and Las Vegas, Nevada. The link would be 170 miles long.

Say Goodbye To Horseshoe Southern Indiana Riverboat

Caesars Entertainment will throw a farewell celebration for the Horseshoe Southern Indiana Casino riverboat on the Ohio River in Elizabeth, Indiana on Saturday, November 30. The vessel, opened in 1998 as the Glory of Rome, will be sold as the operation moves to an $85 million land-based venue.

Another Vegas Buyer Passes on Historic Moulin Rouge

The head of the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority has withdrawn his pitch for the agency to bid on the site that once hosted Las Vegas’ only racially integrated casino. The problem was that the revenue component of the plan required a working casino.

TRIBAL GAMING More

Oklahoma, Tribes Begin Compact Talks

Officials from more than two dozen Oklahoma tribes recently met with state Attorney General Mike Hunter (l.) to begin compact negotiations. Governor Kevin Stitt claims the 15-year old compacts expire at the end of 2019 and wants to renegotiate for a higher percentage. Tribal leaders claim the compacts renew automatically.

Judge Rejects Arkansas Anti-Casino Lawsuit

An Arkansas circuit judge has rejected the anti-gambling group Citizens for Pope County's claim that allowing a casino there would be unconstitutional. The ruling paves the way for a $225 million casino proposed by Cherokee Nation Business and Legends hospitality company, owned by Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones (l.). Numerous lawsuits are pending.

Group's Ads Expose Poarch Band Strategy

Former Alabama state Senator Gerald Dial (l.) created Poarch Creek Accountability Now to reveal the tribe pays no state taxes on casino profits but does pay taxes in other states where it operates venues and also contributes huge sums to state and local political candidates. Tribal leaders said Dial's group's ads are " built on lies and misinformation."

Norfolk Anti-Casino Petition Misses Target

In Virginia, Citizens for an Informed Norfolk didn't gather enough signatures on petitions to reverse the city council's approval of a land sale to the Pamunkey Indian Tribe for a $700 million casino. But the group recently filed a new petition that could reverse the original ordinance.

LOTTERY More

Mexico OKs Lottery Merger

The government of Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies has voted 392-1 to repeal Mexico’s lottery laws and merge La Lotería Nacional para la Asistencia Pública (Lotenal) with Pronósticos para la Asistencia Pública (Pronósticos).

Impact of Lottery Shutdown Lingers On in Philippines

Philippines real estate firm Belle Corp., which owns a piece of City of Dreams Manila (l.), a Melco Resorts property, says it posted a slide in revenues to September 30 following the closure of lottery outlets in the country. The shutdown was ordered in July by President Rodrigo Duterte.

PEOPLE More

NCAI Elects Fawn Sharp President

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has elected Fawn Sharp as its new president. She won with 61.97 percent of the vote in a field of four candidates.

Tennis Star Named Melco Brand Ambassador

Melco Resorts & Entertainment has announced that Japanese tennis great Naomi Osaka has been named a brand ambassador and sports group director for the company’s integrated resort (IR) bid in Yokohama.

Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Names Minick

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa named Steve Minick director of entertainment. He will manage the hotel's 1,500-seat Hard Rock Event Center, which will present more than 60 show a year by major entertainers. Previously Minick was corporate director of entertainment and business development at Pinnacle Entertainment, Las Vegas.

Win Systems Adds Cobas in Spain

Win Systems, a leading provider of technology for the gaming and entertainment industry, has just added Miguel Cobas (l.) as regional sales manager of the gaming division for Spain.

Casino Boat Promoter Wins Indian Election

The promoter of the Big Daddy Casino on the Mandovi River in Goa, India has won a seat in the Haryana legislative assembly elections. Gopal Kanda is the first casino owner to win an election in India.

GOODS & SERVICES More

Red Rake to Provide Social Games to Wind Creek

Red Rake Gaming has inked a deal with Wind Creek Hospitality (Alabama casino at left) to provide a full portfolio of slots, video bingo and table games for patrons to play on their devices. VP of Game Operations Ron Nesbitt says such games help retain customers. The new portfolio of games employs high quality graphics, bonus rounds and lots of action.

SG Shareholder Sues Company

The third-largest shareholder of Scientific Games Corp. has sued the supplier, alleging the company improperly “schemed” with its largest shareholder to force a share sale.

WILD CARD More

Beshear Produces Bevin's Suicide Comment Recording

In a July radio interview, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said, "Every night somewhere in America, somebody takes their life in a casino." Bevin denied making that statement in a recent debate with state Attorney General Andy Beshear (l.), who's running to replace Bevin. So Beshear attached the recording to a social media post.

Ejected Gambler Crashes RV Into Casino

Las Vegas police say a woman who was angry at being kicked out of a Las Vegas-area casino intentionally drove her motorhome into the Cannery Casino, critically injuring a custodian. Jennifer Stitt, 50, will be charged with attempted murder.

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