MGM Grand Sold in $4.6 Billion Strip Megadeal

The game plan for MGM Resorts is to exit the real estate business and amass a pile of cash in the process. The newly announced sale of its 5,000-room Las Vegas flagship, MGM Grand (l.) as well as Mandalay Bay, to a joint venture between MGM Growth Properties (MGP) and Blackstone will go a long way toward achieving it. MGP will also pay MGM Resorts $1.4 billion to lower MGM’s ownership in the company.

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WEEKLY FEATURE: UK Bans Online Credit Card Bets

Online bettors in the U.K. will soon have to pay for the activity in cash. A newly instituted ban on credit-funded bets will become effective in April. Ewallets and services including PayPal will likely be included in the ban. Gambling Commission CEO Neil McArthur (l.) says the move is designed to minimize harm to gamblers who play with money they do not have.

Mohegans Advance in Greece, but Hard Rock Won’t Go Quietly

Connecticut-based Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment is the final remaining bidder in the race to win an Athens casino license, at the now-closed Hellenikon International Airport (l.). But reports indicate rival Hard Rock Entertainment won’t concede defeat, at least not until it’s challenged the decision.

Japan Casino Scandal Shakes Public Trust

The corruption scandal surrounding Japan’s looming integrated resort (IR) industry has shaken the confidence of the public. Some are now asking the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (l.) to reconsider the plan to open three IRs in the country. Most Japanese have never supported IRs, due to fears about increased problem gambling.

Florida Proposal Would Renew Seminole Compact

Under proposed legislation, the Seminole Tribe would pay Florida $3 billion in the first four years of a renewed gaming compact. The bill would allow the tribe to offer banked card games and slots outside Broward and Miami-Dade counties, and prohibit player-banked games at parimutuels. The potential compact would take effect July 1.

On the Road to Sports Betting, MLB Is Taking it Slow

Sports betting offers Major League Baseball a host of in-play opportunities, the kind denied to other sports that aren’t as statistics-heavy. At a Las Vegas summit, MLB executive Kenny Gersh (l.) said the league plans a full-scale use of proposition bets in the future.

Mexican President Says No New Casinos

The president of Mexico has forbidden new casinos in the country, and warned local governments that if they defy his order, they do so at their peril. Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador says introducing new gaming halls would be “shameful.”

Hard Rock’s Allen Awards AC Employees, Blasts City & State

Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen (l.) led an “Employee Town Hall” to show appreciation for the employees of Hard Rock Atlantic City. But he still had harsh words for property owners and public officials for allowing the continuing deterioration of the shore resort.

UNLV Conference Eyes Artificial Intelligence, Biometrics

It’s coming fast so the UNLV Boyd School of Law held a conference last week focusing on artificial intelligence, biometrics and big data. The conference brought together academics, scientists, gaming officials, attorneys and regulators to examine the impact on the industry. A panel of operators moderated by UNLV law professor Anthony Cabot (l. to r.) included GVC’s Martin Lycka, Penn National Gaming’s Dan Cherry, and Katie Lever from the Drew Las Vegas.

The California Legislature: A Parliament of Whores

The long and winding road of California card rooms must stop with Robert Lytle, a regulator who approved radical changes to card room procedures, and then was booted from the business. California legislators continue to ignore this act and support a corrupt industry. Former California regulator Richard Schuetz shames Kirk Kirkland (l.), the president of the California Gaming Association.

FANTINI’S FINANCE: 2020: So Far, So Good

In the new year so far, we’ve seen a general rise in gaming stocks, with more ups than downs, and the broader economy looks encouraging too. Here are some of 2020’s early winners.


Delta Corp. to Operate Nepal Casino

India-based gaming operator Delta Corp Ltd. has disclosed that it has been licensed to operate a casino at the Marriot Hotel in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. It will be Delta’s first venture outside its home market.

Platinum to Manage Gaming at Vietnam Casino

Asian-based management consultancy firm Platinum Entertainment Ltd. has been appointed as the exclusive manager of gaming operations at Royal Halong Hotel’s Royal Casino (l.), a boutique casino in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay.

Brazil Tourism Minister Wants IRs, Not Bingo

To boost tourism and stoke the economy, Brazil Tourism Minister Marcelo Álvaro Antônio (l.) says only full-scale integrated resort complexes will do. Antonio wants to see tourism far exceed its 2019 numbers—about 6 million foreign tourists visited the South American country last year.


Ukraine Forcibly Closes Hundreds of Illegal Gaming Halls

Ukrainian police have shut down more than 900 gaming halls since late December, part of a purge of the operations ordered by President Volodymyr Zelensky (l.). Gambling is illegal in Ukraine, but thousands of such operators have opened under the guise of lottery offices.

Vikings Casinos’ French License Renewed

It’s another 20 years of the Groupe Vikings Casinos operating the Bourbon Lancy Casino (l.) in central France. Vikings has pledged to renovate the casino to the tune of more almost $8 million.


OLG to Bid Out Canadian Casino Ops

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. has announced it will accept bids from operators who want to assume day-to-day control of Caesars Windsor Hotel & Casino. Incumbent Caesars is expected to stay on until 2023.

In Australia, SkyCity Repairs Under Way

SkyCity New Zealand is starting the new year with a massive task: repairing the damage caused by a fire at its unfinished convention center. The blaze was reportedly caused by an untended blowtorch.

Canadian Casino Development Under Way

A casino project that’s been years in the planning is finally nearing development in London, Ontario. Gateway Casino and Entertainment will build the $75 million Starlight Casino, which is scheduled to open in 2021.


EGBA to Spain: Don’t Overregulate iGaming

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) is advising the government of Spain that sometimes “well-meaning consumer-protection measures” can sometimes be counterproductive, driving online players to unregulated offshore sites.


Vermont Looks at Mobile-Only Sportsbooks

Two Vermont senators have introduced a bill to authorize mobile sports betting in the Green Mountain State. The bill from Senator Dick Sears (l.) and Michael Sirotkin asks the Department of Liquor & Lottery to contract with a provider or providers to enable residents to begin placing wagers by the middle of 2020.

Tennessee Sports Betting Compromised by Hold Rate

A draft for Tennessee’s proposed sports betting regulations got poor marks based on the required minimum hold rate of 15 percent, almost double the successful New Jersey rate. If the high hold remains, according to a report, Tennessee could lose operators, customers and tax revenue.

Missouri Moves to Legislate Sports Betting

Missouri is one of nine states looking at sports betting during the current legislative cycle. The state Senate has three bills in play, one proposed by Senator Tony Luetkemeyer (l.). While Luetkemeyer feels his bill will gain traction this year, colleagues aren’t so sure.

Verizon Eyes Sports Betting and Media Content

Known primarily as a mobile phone provider, Verizon entered the sports betting world through a partnership with MGM Resorts International in November. The company hopes to expand its relationship with MGM into at least five more states this year, and add content sites.

NY’s Addabbo Pushes for Mobile Sports Betting this Year

Having failed in 2019, New York state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (l.) is more determined than ever to bring mobile sports betting to fruition in the legislature. Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed last year’s legislation, so the bill carried over unchanged.

California Struggles to Create Workable Sports Betting

The most populous state in the country has failed to find its footing when it comes to sports betting. Blame the various factions at odds with each other. On one hand, California has Native Americans who operate 65 casinos. On the other, it has 100 or so card venues. Pechanga’s Jacob Mejia (l.) says a referendum that allows tribes and racetracks to host sports books makes the most sense.

New Jersey Sports Betting Numbers Explode

In 2019, New Jersey generated more than $4.5 billion from sports betting, producing $36 million in state taxes. Mobile wagers accounted for 88 percent of the bets placed in the state in December, FanDuel sportsbook topped the market for the month.

Maine Lawmakers Will Vote to Override Sports Betting Veto

Lawmakers in Maine will vote to override Governor Janet Mills’ sports betting veto, but it’s questionable whether supporters have the votes. Mills’ decision was based on young and vulnerable gamblers, something the bill failed to address, she said.

FSGA Honors Best in Fantasy Sports, Sports Betting

The Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association (FSGA) handed out industry awards last week during its annual Winter Conference. Top honors were shared by the Fantasy Footballers and ESPN, each with five awards.

At NCLGS, Lawmakers Told to Lower Sportsbook Expectations

Attendees at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) in San Diego last week were cautioned to temper their expectations of huge profits when and if their states legalize sports betting. Kate Lowenhar-Fisher (l.) an attorney with Dickinson Wright in Las Vegas, said high taxes could “kill” the industry.


Goodbye, Harrah’s Reno

When it comes to business, it seems history doesn’t count for much. The gaming business is no exception. And so it is that in a matter of months, the 82-year-old casino where it all started for Harrah’s, in Reno, Nevada, will be no more. The property was first opened by company founder, Bill Harrah.

Eldorado to Sell Louisiana Casino to Maverick

Eldorado Resorts will come closer to finalizing its merger with Caesars Entertainment with the sale of its Eldorado Shreveport, Louisiana property (l.) to up-and-coming Maverick Gaming, which will enter its fourth state market with the $230 million acquisition.

Ohio Gaming Halls Post Record Revenue

Last year was a record-breaker for Ohio's 11 gambling venues, which posted a total of $1.94 billion in revenue. The state's casinos generated $851 million, up 1.6 percent over 2018, and racinos produced $1.1 billion, or $1.55.8 million per property, a 6.2 percent increase. Out in front was MGM Northfield Park (l.)

Nevada Gaming Board Endorses Witkoff License

Two new owners of Las Vegas Strip casino properties got the nod from the Nevada Gaming Control Board last week. Drew Las Vegas developer Steven Witkoff (l.) says financing is in place and everything’s a go for completion of a resort, seen as a catalyst for a revival of the north end of the Strip. And Carl Icahn and two members of his team received approval for their role in the Eldorado purchase of Caesars Entertainment.

Iowa Developers Propose $225 Million Airport Casino

A proposed $225 million casino and hotel (l.) at Des Moines Airport could help pay for the new 18-gate terminal set to open 2008. Highview Development's proposal features a 350-room hotel, a skywalk, and restaurant and wedding and banquet facilities.

Missouri Considers Measure Banning Illegal Machines

Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz (l.) has introduced legislation to prohibit unregulated, untaxed slot machines popping up in gas stations, restaurants, bars and truck stops statewide. Companies that place the machines contend they're legal, since players can view the outcome of a wager before continuing, removing the element of chance.

Nevada Teachers Seek Gaming Tax Hike

It’s a long shot, but the Clark County Education Association is pushing to get a measure on the 2022 ballot to raise the gaming tax rate on the state’s largest operators. Not surprisingly, the Nevada Resort Association is strongly opposed. Governor Steve Sisolak (l.) is likely to resist, too. And another union, the Culinary, may have something to say about it too.

Illinois Horsemen Announce Two Possible Arlington Buyers

Two potential buyers have expressed interest in purchasing Arlington International Racecourse (l.), according to the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. Owner Churchill Downs recently declined to add casino gaming at the track, after two decades of lobbying for it.

Hard Rock Breaks Ground in Gary, Indiana

A groundbreaking ceremony took place last week at Spectacle Entertainment's $300 million Hard Rock casino in Gary. The ceremony featured original members of the Jackson 5, all Gary natives. The venue will produce an estimated $20 million for the city. The Indiana Gaming Commission also approved Spectacle's application for the Vigo County license.

IGT, Rhode Island Operator Making Peace?

International Game Technology and Twin River Worldwide Holdings are negotiating to end an impasse over a Rhode Island Lottery contract. IGT is fighting to preserve its no-bid, 20-year, $1 billion contract negotiated with Governor Gina Raimondo (l.), but Twin River wants some concessions.

Congressional Gaming Caucus Relaunched

The American Gaming Association last week applauded the relaunching of the Congressional Gaming Caucus for the 116th Congress, led by Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson (l.) and Pennsylvania Rep. Guy Reschenthaler. The caucus will serve as a platform to discuss federal policy issues related to the U.S. casino industry.


North Carolina Tribal Council Approves Term Limits

The tribal council of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians approved term limits for members of the Tribal Gaming Commission and the Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise. The tribe operates casinos in Cherokee and Murphy, North Carolina. Principal Chief Richard Sneed (l.) doesn’t think it’s necessary because tribal voters can always remove someone from office they don’t like.

Washington Tribal Casino to Expand

Washington’s Spokane Tribe celebrated the two-year anniversary of the Spokane Tribe Casino (l.) by announcing the second phase of construction. This will include doubling the existing 38,000-square-foot casino and adding a food court, sports bar and entertainment center.

California Casino Delayed

Redesigns have resulted in a delay to the opening of Wilton Rancheria’s casino (l.) in Elk Grove, Sacramento County, California. Although Tribal Chairman Raymond Hitchcock says the project is “back on track” the tribe is looking at opening it in late 2021, and not this year.

Washington Tribe Back In Court, Fighting for Recognition

Washington’s Chinook Indian Nation, whose ancestors lived along the Columbia River, is going back to court to fight for recognition from the federal government. It is suing the U.S. Department of the Interior to reopen its application, which was denied in 2002.

Report: Maine Tribes Shortchanged by State

Compared to other tribes across the United States, the government of Maine makes its Native Americans sit at the children’s table. That’s the conclusion of a 300-page report just released by a task force commissioned by the state legislature.


Paradise Entertainment Names Allison SVP of Sales

Paradise Entertainment has appointed Kelcey Allison, formerly CEO of Aruze Gaming America and GSL Gaming Group, as senior vice president, operations and business development of its U.S. subsidiary. Paradise is a leader in the ETG market in Asia.

Greenwood Names Hausler CEO

Greenwood Racing Inc. has named former Trump Entertainment and Isle of Capri executive Eric Hausler as the company’s new CEO, after an extensive search to replace former chief executive Anthony Ricci.

Amos Joins Spectrum as Marketing VP

Sherry Amos has joined Spectrum Gaming Hospitality Group as vice president of marketing. Amos formerly worked for Tropicana Casino and Resort, Seminole Hard Rock, the Cordish Company and Resorts Atlantic City.

CFO Named to Lead Empire City

Ed Domingo, who was keeping the books for Yonkers racino Empire City, has been promoted to president and chief operating officer. A 20-year gaming veteran, Domingo served as CFO at Bellagio prior to moving east, and has held executive positions with Caesars Entertainment and Rush Street Gaming.

Prior Stepping Down from William Hill

Ruth Prior will resign from her position as chief financial officer and director of William Hill, to return to the private-equity sector with Element Materials Technology.

Landing International Adds New Director

Hong Kong-listed Landing International Development has announced the addition of Yeung Lo as executive director of its board. He replaced Zhou Xueyun, who resigned for what she described as personal reasons.


Konami’s Synkros System Wins Gold Award

Konami Gaming Inc. last week announced that its Synkros casino management system won first place honors in the Data Quadrant Awards by SoftwareReviews, a division of Info-Tech Research Group. Synkros took the gold medal through reviews submitted by verified industry operators. Licensed in Malta

The Malta Gaming Authority has approved to begin esports operations., in partnership with BetConstruct, will offer esports players a reliable, informative, and safe way to bet on their favorite games, like CounterStrike: Global Offensive (l.), the company announced.

Pariplay Introduces Phoenix Gold Slot

Pariplay Ltd., a gaming technology company serving iGaming operators, land-based casinos and lotteries, has launched Phoenix Gold, a new mythology-themed online slot.

Comcast Funds Tech Start-ups with Sports Betting Potential

A new venture from Comcast can help fund new trends in sports betting technology. SportsTech will offer the media giant an early peek at new avenues. The company, in partnership with Boomtown, will select ten start-ups to receive seed money in exchange for equity.


ICE 2020 to Host ‘AR Treasure Hunt’

ICE 2020, which will take place at London’s Excel Centre (l.) next month, will host a first-of-its-kind in-show “augmented reality treasure hunt” across the trade show floor.




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