A disastrous first quarter looms for gaming in hard-pressed Macau, which last week reported its 10th case of the potentially lethal coronavirus, the first of a casino employee. As a result, Macau casinos have closed for at least two weeks, and probably longer, by the order of new Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng (l.). The shockwaves are likely to be felt in casino markets across the region, as travel by Chinese will be curtailed for several months.
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Hard Rock International Chairman and CEO James Allen (l.) last week disputed reports that Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment had been awarded the license to build and operate an integrated resort at the former Hellinikon International Airport near Athens. He conceded that Hard Rock had received a letter of disqualification for its IR, but said the “fix is in.”
Melco Resorts & Entertainment has bailed on its plan to buy a major share of Crown Resorts. Melco blamed its decision on the impact of the coronavirus, but the move came as Crown faces a major investigation in Australia linked in part to the family of Melco boss Lawrence Ho. This could be the end of a longstanding business relationship between Ho and Crown chief James Packer (l.).
In recent years, casinos in British Columbia were a reported hotbed of money laundering. Now the spotlight is on Ontario, where suspicious transaction probes skyrocketed from 945 in 2017 to 2,266 in 2018 and continued to rise in 2019. Critics are asking Ontario Premier Doug Ford (l.) to get involved.
At first glance, it would appear Las Vegas Strip missed out on a banner $12 billion year for Nevada gaming in 2019. But then, it’s easy to overlook the famed neon way’s underlying strength as a mass-market destination and increasing trends for non-gaming revenues.
The UK authority charged with investigating mergers will look at the proposed blockbuster deal between Flutter Entertainment and the Stars Group. The Competition and Markets Authority will examine an agreement that would create the largest gaming operator in the world.
Maryland lawmakers face a decision on competing bills that would add sports betting in the state. One includes an online component; one doesn’t. One includes racetracks; one doesn’t. The final bill requires a referendum. The important thing, according to Delegate Eric Ebersole (l.), is to “keep Maryland revenue in Maryland.”
Twin River Worldwide Holdings continues an aggressive expansion mode that soon will see the Rhode Island-based company operate 10 gaming properties in four states. “We’re still in a heavy acquisition mode,” said George Papanier (l.), president and CEO.
A bill that would give Connecticut’s gaming tribes the right to develop a commercial casino in the state’s largest city, Bridgeport, has been reintroduced. The bill would also legalize sports betting. Senator Dennis Bradley (l.) says he’s “ecstatic” at the prospect of an economic boost.
GLOBAL GAMING BUSINESS PODCAST: Joe Pappano, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Worldpay Gaming
This week the GGB Podcast features an interview with Joe Pappano, the senior vice president and managing director of Worldpay Gaming, on why payment processing is the next big hurdle that gaming must overcome.
An ex-lawmaker faces more charges in Japan’s widening casino corruption scandal. Tsukasa Akimoto (l.) is now alleged to have accepted JPY2 million (US$18,450) from Chinese sports betting firm 500.com Ltd., in addition to other monies. The firm reportedly was looking for a berth in the country’s casino industry. Three integrated resort (IR) licenses will be awarded.
At long last, a second casino is set to open in in Russia’s Primorye special economic zone. A cluster of casino resorts has long been planned for the zone, near the Black Sea port of Vladivostok, but Tigre de Cristal (l.), a project of Summit Ascent Holdings, has been the lone player since 2015.
Macau junket investor Suncity Group has said that Phase I of Hoiana, in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam, will be ready to open within the first quarter of this year, and has been unaffected by the coronavirus epidemic that’s hammering Macau.
French casino operator Vikings Group has announced it will undertake a major renovation of its Barbazan casino (l.) in southwestern France. The adding new slot machines, a new snack bar and a new smoking terrace.
Argentina government secretary Jorge Martínez says the landmark Necochea Casino (l.) is in deplorable condition, and its fate must be decided soon. When it was operational, the Buenos Aires property generated just $3.5 million in revenues, but cost almost $40 million to maintain.
Starting February 1, residents of the Indian state of Goa were banned from entering local casinos. Sawant told reporters the Commissioner of Goods and Services Tax, who is also the gaming commissioner, will implement the ban, which applies to 12 onshore casinos and six casino cruisers.
Pickering Casino Resort (l.), being built by One Toronto Gaming, is expected to open in Ontario in April. The casino is part of a planned $2 billion, 240-acre, multi-use development known as Durham Live.
Washington State has introduced competing sports betting bills. One limits wagering to tribal casinos. The other permits tracks, card rooms, tribal casinos and online betting. State Senator Curtis King (l.) says sports betting “needs to be controlled by the state.”
New Jersey may be flexing its muscle when it comes to sports betting success, but its results still pale in comparison to Nevada. The Silver State set another record for handle in 2019, the tenth consecutive record. The year also marked the second time Nevada surpassed $5 billion in handle.
International Gaming Technology (IGT) announced last month that it will deliver retail and mobile sports betting to customers at two gaming halls in West Virginia: Delaware North ’s Mardi Gras Casino in Nitro (l.) and the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack.
Missouri’s House Special Committee on Government Oversight has approved a bill to legalize sports betting and slot machines. The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Dan Shaul (l.), calls for the activity in entertainment districts in Kansas City and elsewhere.
A bill has been revived in the Arizona legislature that would allow tribes to offer sports betting off the reservation. Many tribes opposed it in the past, with the notable exception of the Navajo, who operate the Twin Arrows Casino (l.) outside Flagstaff. At issue is whether the plan violates the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Sportradar, a leading provider of sports data and content solutions, last week announced an expansion of its existing partnership with Major League Baseball (MLB), launching a new virtual baseball in-play offering.
Super Bowl LIV generated more than $268 million in legal wagering in 10 states. A few states had a negative hold after the Kansas City Chiefs victory. Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania led the way in handle. Handle rose 55 percent over 2019 in New Jersey.
Rush Street Interactive will partner with its Rivers Casino Philadelphia property to link its BetRivers.com online casino to the existing Rivers Casino Pittsburgh online sportsbook.
Scientific Games was expected to announce a partnership agreement with sports-betting giant FanDuel under which FanDuel will utilize SG sports wagering and iGaming technology.
The commission that regulates gaming in Massachusetts has asked the public if it should revive the process to issue a third casino resort license—though the state’s two existing casinos, including Encore Boston Harbor (l.), have underperformed. The license would be for Region C, the southeastern part of the state.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (l.) says the state needs "full, expanded gaming to compete with Indiana, Ohio and the rest of our neighbors, Republican-led states that are taking Kentucky dollars." The newly elected governor said more gambling would help pay for his budget proposals, from teacher raises to full Medicaid funding.
Virginia lawmakers have introduced more than 20 gambling bills in the current session. Legislation would OK casino gambling in five cities, legalize sports betting and allow online lottery sales. Senate President Pro Tem Louise Lucas (l.), a proponent of casinos, said, “Just give us an opportunity to determine our own destiny.”
The 2019 total of 42.5 million visitors to Las Vegas was the second-best annual performance ever. Convention attendance soared to a record 6.6 million. McCarran International Airport also set a record, with volume surpassing 51 million. As the new year unfolds, there should be more good news in store.
For the third time, two Oregon businessmen are pushing a ballot measure that would amend the state constitution and allow a commercial casino. Currently, only tribes can operate casinos in the state; Matt Rossman and Bruce Studer (l.), of R & S Strategy Group, want to change that.
Three more states have signed off on the $17.3 billion Caesars-Eldorado merger, bringing to five the number of jurisdictions that have approved it, with 13 to go. It looks like management will meet its first-half timetable to close on the mega-deal. Eldorado CEO Thomas Reeg (l.) will helm the new company.
As expected, the Nevada Resort Association (NRA) is fighting a 40 percent tax increase proposed by a Clark County teachers’ union. The NRA says the petition is invalid. Union leader John Vellardita (l.) says the trade group is “grasping at straws.” The union will push to get the question on the ballot in 2022.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (l.) submitted a state budget to the legislature that would divert $200 million in casino subsidies for the state’s horse-racing industry to a new education program.
Missouri state Rep. Rocky Miller (l.) has proposed legislation removing the Lake of the Ozarks from consideration as a casino location and adding the Osage River. He said he wants to get ahead of a petition initiative, such as the one that successfully legalized medical marijuana. Miller says legislators, not voters, should approve a 14th casino license.
The North Carolina-based Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has closed on its purchase of 198 acres in Sevierville, Tennessee (l.) on Interstate 40—the gateway to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Plans include hotels and convention space that could become a casino if the state eventually allows expanded gambling.
North Dakota's five gaming tribes say revenues have declined since electronic pulltabs launched in 2017. The games now are offered in all but three counties. Tribal Chairman Mark Fox (l.) said the competition “makes a huge difference, not just to us, but to the economy of the state as well.”
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt hasn't said if he'll accept tribes' exclusivity fee payments in February, but collecting the fees may indicate the tribes are correct in stating that their compact renewed January 1, which Stitt denies. State Rep. Emily Virgin (l.) saying Stitt “picked an unwinnable fight” with the tribes, says he should accept the payments.
The tribe that greeted the Pilgrims when they first stepped off the boat is going to a federal appeals court to fight for its right to offer gaming in the city of Taunton (l.). At issue is whether the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is federally recognized.
The Yakama Nation of Washington State has asked lawmakers in Pasco, Franklin County to reject attempts by the Colville Tribes to develop a casino in the vicinity.
The new Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington, is nearing completion after more than a decade of planning, five years of construction, and an investment of $400 million. The new property will be operated by the Puyallup Tribe.
The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation has terminated its contract with general contractor Swinerton in association with the resort expansion project at Cache Creek Casino Resort in Brooks, California. Construction on the project began in May 2017, and was scheduled to be complete in 2019.
Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort has ranked first among 51 northern Arizona hotels for travel, according to U.S. News & World Report. The recognition was based on an expert evaluations and recommendations as well as user ratings.
Alabama state Rep. Steve Clouse (l.) will introduce a bill establishing a state lottery to benefit education. Last year a measure directing lottery proceeds to the General Fund passed the Senate but failed in the House. Legislators also will consider the Poarch Band of Creek Indians' proposed gambling compact that would generate $1 billion annually for the state.
The Massachusetts Lottery’s fear that the casinos authorized for the Bay State would bleed money away lottery sales has turned out to be unfounded. In fact the lottery has continued to grow, although now it fears the effects of not modernizing.
Bulgarian legislator Valeri Simenov (l.), of the National Front for Salvation Party, has introduced an amendment to the country’s 2012 Gambling Act that would ban private lotteries and leave their operation solely to the government.
Nevada Rep. Dina Titus (l.) will share chairmanship of the new 30-member Congressional Gaming Caucus with Pennsylvania’s Guy Reschenthaler. Titus promises the group will make its voice heard in Washington.
IGT has appointed Fabio Celadon (l.) to the new role of executive vice president strategy and corporate development, responsible for strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and competitive intelligence.
BMM Testlabs has promoted Marzia Turrini (l.) to executive vice president, Europe and South America, named Melissa Sweitzer senior vice president of strategic accounts, and named Alexandru Petrescu as leader of global cybersecurity business.
DraftKings hired Christine Thurmond, a former administrator at Harvard Medical School and contributor to the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, as director of responsible gaming.
Eamonn Wilmott (l.) has resigned his position as chairman of the UK Tote Group. He first assumed the post in October 2019, and helped craft the Together for the Tote initiative, which teamed the Tote with Britbet.
Gasser Chair Company and Gaming Support will partner to extend the Ohio-based company’s products to 11 countries in Europe. “Combining Gasser’s knowledge of seating with our technological innovations will lead to new exciting developments,” says Gaming Support CEO Lucien van Linden (l.).
Synergy Blue has announced a distribution agreement with Canadian supplier Bet Rite, under which Bet Rite will sell Synergy Blue’s skill-influenced gaming machines in all Canadian markets. “With Bet Rite’s expertise, we see the Canadian market as one that is full of long-term potential,” said Synergy Blue CEO Georg Washington (l.)
Novomatic AG, through distributor Indo Pacific, has placed its Enchanted Fortunes linked progressive product in multiple casino locations in Cambodia.
Asia Pioneer Entertainment will lease electronic gaming equipment to Glimex Inc. for use at Palace Casino in Jpark Island Resort (l.), an entertainment center in Cebu, the Philippines.
Small Nuggets of News
Outrageous pronouncements, simple statements and words of wisdom