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Archive for December 4th, 2018

Playtika Looks to Expand Outside Social Casino Sector with Wooga Acquisition

Israel-based social casino giant Playtika announces another acquisition as part of growth and diversification strategy

Israeli developer of social casino games Playtika has acquired Wooga Gmbh, a Berlin-based publisher of mobile-friendly story-driven games, in a bid to diversify its business outside of its core market.

No details of the deal were revealed by the involved parties, but according to sources familiar with the terms of the acquisition, Playtika has paid more than $100 million for the German game developer.

Wooga was founded in 2009 by Jens Begemann. The company rose to prominence with casual mobile titles like June’s Journey and Pearl’s Peril that feature hidden objects for players to find or puzzles. It tried to diversify its offering with more hardcore games, but that venture did not prove profitable and eventually resulted in staff layoffs. Currently employing 180 people at its Berlin studio, Wooga says it has regained its strength in the $70-billion casual games market after shaky two years.

Wooga had previously raised around $30 million from the likes of Highland Capital Partners and Balderton Capital. In a statement from earlier today, the game publisher said it finds it the right decision to “now partner with a new owner that will grow with [them],” instead of having VCs investing for a limited time and then looking to sell their shares.

Playtika will keep Wooga’s current staff and Mr. Begemann. It also became known that the Berlin studio’s portfolio of games will remain the same.

Expansion and Diversification through Acquisition

The acquisition of Wooga comes just over a year after Playtika purchased Israeli studio Jelly Button Games Ltd. in what became its first foray outside its main market of social casino games.

Playtika, which is based in Herzliya, Israel, announced earlier this year the establishment of its investment arm Playtika Growth Investments. The company also revealed plans to spend up to $400 million through its investment division to acquire digital businesses that are already profitable or near breakeven and that offer proven products.

Since founded in 2010, Playtika has spent more than $300 million acquiring ten companies, excluding Wooga. The Israeli social casino game developer itself was sold twice to larger businesses. In 2011, Caesars Interactive, subsidiary of gaming and hospitality giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. bought Playtika for $150 million. In 2016, a consortium of companies led by China’s Shanghai Giant Network Technology Co., Ltd. bought the studio for $4.4 billion.

Playtika’s game Slotomania has been a massive hit over the years. According to a report by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, the game generates between $20 million and $22 million every month.

Of their latest purchase, Playtika founder and CEO Robert Antokol said that they see great opportunities for the company in the casual games genre and the addition of Wooga “firmly positions [them] for this next phase of [their] evolution.”

According to analysts, Playtika is the leader in the social casino games market with a 28.6% share. It is also believed that the company is twice the size of its nearest competitor, Australia’s Aristocrat.

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The post Playtika Looks to Expand Outside Social Casino Sector with Wooga Acquisition appeared first on Casino News Daily.

Kyle Cartwright Vies for Eighth Gold Ring in WSOP Circuit Harrah’s Cherokee Main Event

Seven-time gold ring winner Kyle Cartwright leads final 15 into last day of Harrah’s Cherokee Main Event

Kyle Cartwright, a winner of one WSOP gold bracelet and seven WSOP Circuit gold rings, is looking to add another piece of Circuit paraphernalia to his already impressive collection. The player from Bartlett, Tennessee is leading 15 players of the ongoing Harrah’s Cherokee Main Event into the final day of action.

Day 2 of the tournament was played on Sunday at the host casino, Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina. It began with 144 survivors from the two starting flights. The hopefuls were led by Ryan McKnight. Despite his initial advantage, the player came out in 22nd place for a payout of $11,370.

One of the most important highlights of the day was the burst of the money bubble. That happened in Level 2. Losing a massive pot against Day 3 finalist Virgil Beddingfield, it was Tim Kane who scooped the title of the unfortunate bubble boy.

The Harrah’s Cherokee Main Event is traditionally one of the busiest tournaments over the course of the Circuit schedule. The current event drew a behemoth field of 1,127 entries who smashed the $1 million guaranteed prize pool and generated $1,707,405. The prize money was split into payouts for the top 117 finishers, min-cashes starting from $2,800.

Cartwright’s Rise to the Top

Cartwright emerged as the chip leader after winning a massive pot during the final level of play. The player bagged 4.75 million last night to lead the 15 finalists into the final day of action. As mentioned earlier, the player is looking to capture his gold ring number eight.

He last won a piece from the series in September 2017, when he emerged victorious in the IP BILOXI $1,675 Main Event. The player also collected $118,332 in prize money.

Aside from his success on the Circuit scene, Cartwright has also been running pretty well in WSOP tournaments. In the summer of 2014, the player bested the field of a $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em tournament for his first gold bracelet and $360,435 in prize money. Cartwright currently has more than $1.3 million in WSOP and WSOP Circuit winnings and a victory at Harrah’s Cherokee will significantly boost his bankroll.

Each of the 15 remaining players is guaranteed a minimum cash of $20,301. And each of the nine final tablists will leave with no less than $30,904. However, all players are certainly hunting for the title and the first-place prize of $311,616. The winner will also receive a well-deserved gold ring and will lock up a seat into the season-ending Global Casino Championship that happens to annually take place namely at Harrah’s Cherokee.

Mai Chaitib with 4.145 million and Toby Boas with 3.57 million are the two players standing closest to Cartwright on the temporary chip counts chart. Former Harrah’s Cherokee Main Event champ Jake Bazeley is also still in the run, vying for a second title at the casino. The player bagged 1.12 million last night and is currently standing in the bottom half of the leaderboard.

Day 3 action starts at noon local time. The remaining players will play down to a champion.

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The post Kyle Cartwright Vies for Eighth Gold Ring in WSOP Circuit Harrah’s Cherokee Main Event appeared first on Casino News Daily.

Missouri Seeks Participation in US Sports Betting Frenzy

Missouri rekindles sports betting debate after previous unsuccessful attempts, Gov. Parson not opposed to wagering happening in the state

Missouri is making a play for legalizing sports betting on its territory a little over six months after the US Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on wagering and after seven states have gone live with sports betting since the landmark ruling was issued.

According to reports from multiple local news outlets, the state Legislature is likely to consider sports betting as a new source of revenue for the local education system. Rep. Dean Plocher has told media that he certainly anticipates the topic to be out there for discussion before the House and the Senate.

The legislator has long been a staunch supporter of the legalization of sports betting in the state. He introduced a legislation on the matter last spring, but the piece did not advance in the Legislature. Rep. Plocher has also said that multiple sports gambling bills have been circulating since the federal ban was lifted.

Under those initial draft legislations, the state’s 13 casinos would be allowed to run sports betting services. According to early projections, gambling on sporting events could generate between $18 million and $40 million for the state’s coffers. Missouri’s current gambling law reads that tax revenue from casino gambling must be spent on various educational programs. Since casinos will operate wagering, tax money from the practice will, too, go to the state’s education system, unless the current law is amended.

Integrity Fee Debate

While the sports betting legalization debate has not officially began in Missouri, there have already been discussions among lawmakers and other involved parties regarding the introduction of an integrity fee. Last spring’s legalization effort included a request by baseball teams St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals to receive a share of what sports betting generates in the form of an integrity fee. The money would be used to offset any increased expenses that might arise from wagering.

The two teams supported last spring a 1% fee from all wagers placed at the state’s casinos. Opponents of the proposal said that such a fee was not necessary as sports teams and leagues would benefit from increased interest once sports betting became legal in Missouri.

Rep. Plocher has said that he supports the implementation of an integrity fee, but has pointed out that lawmakers would have to find a “sweet spot” for both the state’s casinos and the sports leagues.

Sen. Denny Hoskins, another sports betting legalization proponent, has said that the integrity fee issue would remain divisive and that he would review how other states were handling it. None of the seven states that have gone live with sports betting since the SCOTUS ruling have implemented such a fee.

While the legalization of wagering might still face different hurdles while debated in the Missouri Legislature, the state’s governor would not be one such hurdle, it has become known. A spokesman for Gov. Mike Parson has said that while sports gambling was not a charge the official was leading, he was not opposed to it happening.

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The post Missouri Seeks Participation in US Sports Betting Frenzy appeared first on Casino News Daily.

Philippine Court of Appeals Backs Waterfront’s Bid for Manila Casino Resort

Court of Appeals upholds previous court ruling ordering PAGCOR to grant Waterfront a provisional license for the operation of a casino in Manila’s Entertainment City

The Philippine Court of Appeals has ordered PAGCOR, the country’s gambling regulator, to issue a provisional gaming license to casino and hospitality company Waterfront Philippines Inc. for the development of a hotel and casino resort in Entertainment City, Manila.

The Court of Appeals ruling upheld an August 2017 ruling by the Manila Regional Trial Court, under which PAGCOR was supposed to act on Waterfront Philippines’ license application and grant the company its license. The Court of Appeals also ordered PAGCOR to pay the hotel and casino company PHP100,000 in moral damages and PHP100,000 in exemplary damages, according to information from multiple local news sources.

Waterfront first announced plans to build a hotel and casino resort in Manila’s Entertainment City in 2008. The company said back then that its property, dubbed Grand Waterfront Hotel and Casino, would include a casino and a 2,500-room hotel, among other facilities.

Waterfront submitted all the necessary paperwork, but PAGCOR has not acted on its application for the past decade. The company filed a petition for mandamus in March 2015, seeking action on its application for a gaming license.

As mentioned earlier, the Manila Regional Trial Court ruled in favor of the hotel and casino operator last summer.

‘Without Delay’

The Court of Appeals said that the Trial Court’s ruling from August 2017 should be implemented without delay and that “considering that no additional documents were further required to be submitted”, Waterfront is believed to have completed the application process.

The Court of Appeals went on to say that there was “no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Regional Trial Court” in issuing its decision last year.

As per the two rulings, PAGCOR will have to review Waterfront’s application and issue a license for the operation of a casino in Entertainment City. Resorts World Manila, Solaire Resort & Casino, City of Dreams Manila, and Okada Manila, all four built within Entertainment City, have previously been issued similar licenses.

Waterfront said back in 2008, when it first introduced its project, that it planned to invest between $500 million and $1 billion to build the hotel and casino resort and that it would jointly develop and operate the property with an unnamed Macau-based operator.

The Court of Appeals ruling regarding Waterfront’s hotel and casino resort plan arrives at a time when President Rodrigo Duterte has unleashed his latest crackdown on gambling. The official has reiterated multiple times that he would make sure that no new casinos were built in his country in an effort to block the proliferation of gambling, which he said he hated.

Two major casino companies have sought earlier this year authorization from PAGCOR and have been issued provisional licenses by the regulator to build and operate integrated resorts with gaming floors in two popular tourism hubs.

Macau’s Galaxy Entertainment Group has revealed plans to develop a $500-million resort on the island of Boracay, while Hong Kong developer Landing International Development has planned to build a $1.5-billion property in the capital Manila. The future of both projects is now surrounded by clouds of uncertainty as President Duterte has condemned them and has promised to do whatever it takes to prevent them from being materialized.

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The post Philippine Court of Appeals Backs Waterfront’s Bid for Manila Casino Resort appeared first on Casino News Daily.

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