GGB NEWS SPECIAL REPORT: Will Covid-19 Mean the End of Cash?

Since the 1990s, consumer transactions have become increasingly cashless. Christopher Justice (l.), president of Global Payments, weighs in on how the current crisis could propel more cashless, “contactless” transactions, in gaming and across the board.

Defying the Pandemic, Gaming Shares Rally

The casino industry has been shut down for weeks, but you wouldn’t know it from a look at recent stock prices. After hitting bottom in mid-March, they came roaring back in April as investors look to reopening this month. Innovation Capital’s Matt Sodl (l.) warns that they’re not trading on fundamentals, however.

DraftKings Goes Public

The company which owns DraftKings sportsbook completed its merger with Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp. and supplier SBTech. The deal created one of the largest online sports betting, iGaming and daily fantasy sports firms, which could produce as much as $4.7 billion in annual revenue. DraftKings co-founder and CEO Jason Robins (l.) says pent-up demand should spur sports betting even farther in the near future.

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WEEKLY FEATURE: Melco Unloads Crown

Melco Resorts & Entertainment has sold its entire stake in Australia’s Crown Resorts Ltd. to U.S.-based hedge fund the Blackstone Group. A motivated seller, Melco unloaded the shares at a 37 percent discount. The companies are controlled by billionaires Lawrence Ho and James Packer (l.).

Macau Revenues Plummet 97% in April

Macau gaming revenue in April declined an unbelievable 97 percent, following an equally stunning decline in visitation in March as a results of the pandemic-related restrictions that largely have cut off tourism from mainland China. Restrictions are expected to be relaxed in May.

Virginia Gaming Bills Finally Passed

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (l.) signed legislation allowing casinos and sports betting in his state. The Virginia Lottery now must draft sports betting regulations by September 15, meaning sports betting could launch by the end of the year. Five casinos will be permitted in the southern parts of the state, all must have voter approval.

Hard Rock Continues to Appeal Greek Casino Ruling

Hard Rock International, which lost its bid to develop a casino resort at the former Hellenikon International Airport (l.) near Athens, is looking to a Greek appeals court to overrule the decision, which awarded the development to Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE).

Japan Won’t Stall IR Process

According to Global Market Advisors, Japan will not delay the application period for local governments seeking to host an integrated resort (IR). The gaming consultancy also expects the capital city of Tokyo (l.) to apply for one of the country’s first three IRs.

MGM Sacks Four Presidents

The coronavirus pandemic hit home for may high level and corporate executives last week as Station Casinos slashed property and corporate executives, while MGM Resorts let go four presidents of their Las Vegas properties, including longtime leader at New York-New York Cindy Kiser Murphey (l.).

AC Maps Reopening Strategy

Following the lead of Governor Phil Murphy (l.), the casino industry will collaborate with AtlantiCare, the regional health care organization to formulate a plan to re-open the gaming halls. It may take months to prepare, but in the end, the casino world will be far different.

FANTINI’S FINANCE: Up And Running?

After six weeks of doom-and-gloom, suddenly it’s OK to look head. With states opening up, casinos are starting the process to determine what the “new normal” is going to look like.

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Duterte Orders Philippine Casinos to Remain Closed

Philippine casinos and iGaming operations must remain on lockdown until at least May 15, by order of President Rodrigo Duterte (l.). Regulatory chief Andrea Domingo had called for an exemption for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).

Macau Plans to Spend Big to Boost Tourism

The government wants to allocate the equivalent of US$400 million on a program aimed at increasing overnight stays. The plan points to a more determined effort post-pandemic to move the market beyond its longstanding reliance on gambling day-trippers.

South Korean Casino to Open in the Fall

The 38-floor Jeju Dream Tower (l.) in South Korea is on track to open sometime this fall, according to promoter Lotte Tour Development Co. The new resort will include a foreigners-only casino.

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U.K. Gaming Group to Suspend Ads

Members of the U.K. Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) have announced a halt of all television and radio advertising while the country’s coronavirus lockdown continues. CEO Michael Dugher (l.) said iGaming is down, but the measure will be a “further safeguard” against problem gambling.

U.K. Says Many Bettors Wager More Since Lockdown

The first post-coronavirus pandemic survey, sponsored by a group that includes Three-Card Poker inventor Derek Webb (l.), in the U.K. found that too many bettors gambled more online on whatever sports were available or bet on more addictive games like online casinos. The survey asked over 1,000 people and discovered 28 percent increased betting activity.

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Saipan Operator Must Pay $5.6 Million to Contractor

Imperial Pacific International (IPI), operator of the only casino resort (l.) on the western Pacific island of Saipan, has been ordered to pay US$5.6 million to a former contractor to settle a breach-of-contract lawsuit.

Work Resumes on Fire-Damaged NZ Convention Center

Construction resumed last week on SkyCity’s $900 million International Convention Centre (l.) in Auckland, New Zealand. Work on the seven-story structure, damaged by a fire last October, began again in January, then stopped due to the coronavirus lockdown.

SciPlay Offers Gamified Exercise

SciPlay is teaming with personal trainer Craig Ramsay to offer “gamified” exercises to boost health during stay-at-home orders due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Caesars Casino Launched in Pennsylvania

The Caesars online casino has launched in Pennsylvania, in partnership with the Harrah’s Philadelphia land-based casino in Chester, following last month’s launch of Caesars’ online sportsbook.

Colombia OKs Live-Dealer Online Games

Colombian gaming regulator Coljuegos has approved a plan that would bring live-dealer online casinos to the country. To make it easier for operators to enter the market, Coljuegos will defer some associated fees.

TVBET Launches Live Online Backgammon

TVBET has launched a live backgammon game, designed to “retain the feeling of sitting at a casino table,” for distribution to online casinos around the world.

Ainsworth Enters New Jersey

Ainsworth Game Technology announced a multi-state content agreement with Golden Nugget, Inc. that will see the supplier’s games in the New Jersey iGaming market.

SPORTS BETTING More

Colorado Goes Live With Sports Betting

Colorado started sports betting operations on May 1, becoming the 18th state to legalize the wager. Although there are few sports to bet on now, some have estimated the state could be a $2 billion market in its first full year. With sports on hold, however, bettors will be able to access lots of esports, including NBA2K (l.).

Ohio Still Has No Sports Betting Bill

Ohio Rep. Brigid Kelly (l.) introduced sports betting bills over a year ago. The House version has undergone nine hearings, yet remains in committee. It’s got a long way to go, with some of the more progressive legislation, like letting bettors wager on Ohio teams, which drew the ire of state colleges.

NFL Draft Drew Heavy Betting

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on shuttering most sports, the NFL Draft, which saw Commissioner Roger Goodell announcing the picks from his basement man cave (l.), became a hot property this year. The results proved it as sportsbooks like Play Sugarhouse saw handle jump four fold. Prop bets such as next Quarterback Chosen attracted a lot of wagers.

White House Talks Sports with Leagues

The White House held a teleconference with medical officers from most pro and college sports aimed at paving the way to resume competition. Seema Verma, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, talked about the future of testing needed to begin and to sustain healthy play.

NFL Awards 2022 Draft to Las Vegas

Denied the festivities of the NFL Draft this year, Las Vegas got another shot when Commissioner Roger Goodell tapped the resort for the 2022 version. The just completed social distancing version of a draft took place April 23 to 25 without the hoopla, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

PointsBet Strikes Tribal Deal in Michigan

Australian company PointsBet will enter the iGaming market for the first time as part of a partnership with the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Northern Michigan. Once the regulations are finalized, PointsBet hopes to capitalize on the growth on online betting.

Betby Adds Esports

Sportsbook operator Betby is partnering with platform provider Gamingtec to offer growing online esports tournaments as part of a turnkey solution.

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Mississippi Casinos Await Go-Ahead

Mississippi casinos, which closed March 16 due to Covid-19, are not ready to reopen, although Governor Tate Reeves (l.) said he'll allow some businesses to reopen with restrictions. The state gaming commission and health department, with guidance from the governor, will determine when the state's casino industry will be ready to come back.

Missouri Casinos May Remain Closed Past May 15

Although Missouri Governor Mike Parson is allowing some businesses to reopen May 4, state Gaming Commission Chairman Mike Leara (l.) said he's not ready to reopen the state's 13 casinos which closed March 17 due to Covid-19. Leara said casinos could remain shut beyond May 15, costing the state at least $60 million in revenue.

Massachusetts Talks Safe Reopening of Casinos

The regulator responsible for the three casinos operating in the Bay State, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, has begun talking about what will be required to reopen the facilities that closed on March 15. Step one is to see what casinos in Macau, China, have done to reopen, since two of the state’s operators own casinos there (MGM Cotai at left).

LVS Will Require Temperature Checks

The Las Vegas Strip giant plans to install thermal cameras at all entry points to its Venetian and Palazzo resorts (l.) and will sequester guests registering temperatures over 100 degrees. The company also will employ a 25-member on-site medical team.

REITs Feel the Covid-19 Pinch

The real estate investment trusts that have become a common operating structure for casino resorts are feeling the pinch of the worldwide coronavirus shutdown, according to GLPI CEO Peter Carlino (l.).

PA Racetracks Prepare to Reopen

The Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission is working with representatives of horsemen’s associations on steps to reopen the racing business in the state.

Arkansas Casinos Remain Shuttered

In mid-March, after asking Arkansas health officials about closing the state's three casinos due to Covid-19, Governor Asa Hutchinson ordered the venues to shut down March 17 through April 30. As of now no date has been set for reopening Oaklawn Racing and Gaming, Southland Park Gaming and Racing (l.) or Saracen Casino Annex.

Nevada Casinos Open Uncertain

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has turned over responsibility for the opening of the state’s casinos to the Gaming Control Board. But he says the opening won’t be until phase 3 or 4 of the plan to reopen the entire state. And since phase 1 won’t begin until May 15, it’s unclear when other phases will kick in.

MGM Bolsters Balance Sheet

The gaming giant has raised $750 million in fresh debt to help tide it through the nationwide shutdown. The company says it’s spending $270 million a month to maintain its 24 idle properties in six states but has plenty of cash, as one analyst put it, to “endure.”

Covid-19 Threatens AC Financial Stability

Atlantic City faces a bleak future financially as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on casino revenue and municipal coffers, one tied to the other. State lawmakers may have to revise how casinos pay their share to the city.

Pandemic Hits Twin River’s R.I. Properties

The Covid-19 pandemic caused Twin River Worldwide Holdings to close its Rhode Island casinos in Tiverton and Lincoln (l.) on March 14. This has caused a 67 percent decline in revenues for March.

March Deadwood Casino Revenue Drops 20 Percent

The closure of Deadwood, South Dakota casinos in response to the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a 20 percent decrease in revenue to $69 million compared to March 2020. Deadwood Gaming Association Executive Director Mike Rodman said the market was "on pace with last year until March 25, when our world changed and Deadwood shut down."

Louisiana Casino Revenue Plunges 61 Percent

Louisiana's 15 riverboat casinos, four racinos and one land-based casino (Harrah’s New Orleans at left) lost 61 percent of revenue in March 2019 compared to March 2020, from $246.4 million to $97.1 million, according to state gaming board data. The state's gaming industry closed March 17 under executive order from Governor John Bel Edwards in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Oklahoma Tribes Extend Casino Closures

Oklahoma casinos operated by the Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw and Muscogee (Creek) nations will remain shuttered at least until May 15, tribal officials said, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The 130 casinos owned by Oklahoma's 35-plus tribes closed in March and will reopen according to the determination of each tribal government. Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby (l.) said the nation’s travel plaza’s will remain open.

Hard Rock ‘Ramp-Up’ One Year Away

Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen recently said it will take a year for the company's casinos, hotels and restaurants to start "ramping back up" from being shut down due to Covid-19. Allen said Hard Rock's Shenzhen, China property (l.) recently reopened but occupancy is at 12 percent—illustrating the challenges the company faces internationally.

MTGA Misses Casino Debt Payment

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which owns the Mohegan Sun casino, missed it $19.7 million interest pay because of being forced to close by the pandemic. As a result, Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded its credit rating.

Michigan Tribes Ponder Casino Reopenings

Although Michigan's 12 federally recognized tribes were not subject to Governor Gretchen Whitmer's order, they closed their 23 casinos on March 22 due to Covid-19. Now, as Whitmer (l.) extended the closures to May 15, tribal officials are concerned with balancing financial and public health pressures.

Mohegan Sun May Reopen May 12

The Mohegan Sun (l.), one of two mega-casinos in Connecticut won’t open before May 12. This is a two-week pushback from what the Mohegan Tribe originally announced.

Arizona Casinos Extend Closures

Casinos in the Phoenix, Arizona area have announced when they will be reopening. They all take into account the order by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s extending the shut-down to May 15.

Washington Casino to Reopen Smokeless

The Arlington, Washington-based Angels of the Winds Casino Resort will reopen soon. When it does patrons will not be allowed to smoke inside the facility.

Poarch Creek Continues To Honor Payments in Pennsylvania

On behalf of Wind Creek Bethlehem Casino, Wind Creek Hospitality, the business arm of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, recently paid its $2.5 million host fee to the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania--even though the state declared casinos could defer payments due to Covid-19 closures. General Manager Kathy McCracken (l.) said, "We understand that the community need is as great as ever."

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Melco’s Executive Shuffle

Studio City International Holdings Ltd., which operates Melco Resorts & Entertainment’s Studio City in Macau, has appointed Kevin Benning as senior vice president for operations, replacing Geoff Andres (l.), who will rejoin Melco Resorts Philippines.

Sato Steps Down as Head of Dynam Japan

Dynam Japan has announced the resignation of its longtime chairman, president and CEO Kohei Sato (l.) effective April 27. Dynam is Japan’s second largest pachinko hall operator.

Vegas Icon Roy Horn in Treatment for Covid-19

Roy Horn of the legendary Las Vegas big-cat act Siegfried & Roy has tested positive for the coronavirus. Horn is undergoing treatment, a representative for the duo announced last Tuesday.

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Moody’s: Pandemic Will Generate Gaming Mergers

The Covid-19 pandemic will accelerate the wave of gaming mergers that have already begun, such as the recently approved join-up of Flutter Entertainment and the Stars Group. That’s the opinion of analysts of Moody’s.

Synergy Blue Approved in Nevada

Synergy Blue’s arcade-style skill games have been approved for statewide distribution in Nevada by the Nevada Gaming Commission after successful completion of trials. Georg Washington (l.), CEO of Synergy Blue, called it a “huge milestone” for his company.

GAN Aims at $34.5 Million From IPO

Software supplier GAN is planning an initial public offering through which it hopes to raise as much as $34.5 million at a share price between $6.50 and $8.50.

GameCo VGMs Get the Go-Ahead in Nevada

GameCo LLC, creator of video game gambling machines, has announced the successful completion of the field trial for its platform in Nevada. Two GameCo VGMs were tested: Nothin’ but Net 2 (l.) and All-Star Hoops.

BetConstruct Launches New Game

BetConstruct has added to its iGaming Suite with a new product called Striker. The technology company says Striker is “ready-made for any market … within any online gaming platform.”

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2020 SAGSE Argentina Postponed

The 2020 edition of the SAGSE Expo in Buenos Aires has been postponed until next March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Organizer Monografie will hold “SAGSE+” events in many markets in the region, aimed at boosting the sector on a local level.

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