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Archive for January 8th, 2019

Rutter’s Picks Penn National as Preferred Gambling Machine Operator

Penn National to operate slots-like gaming terminals at 20 Rutter’s locations, pending approval from the state Gaming Control Board

Pennsylvania convenience store chain Rutter’s today announced that it has selected an affiliate of casino operator Penn National Gaming to operate video gaming terminals (VGTs) at its properties. At least 20 Rutter’s establishments are expected to receive initial approval to feature VGTs.

Marquee by Penn, LLC, an affiliate of Penn National, has been chosen as the preferred Terminal Operator by the major store chain, it became known.

Under an omnibus gambling expansion legislation signed by Gov. Tom Wolf in the fall of 2017, certain establishments are eligible to host no more than five VGTs each as long as they meet criteria set by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

The gambling devices resemble traditional slot machines. Under state laws, the devices can accept maximum bets of $5 and pay out a maximum $1,000 to winning players.

Winnings should be paid out at special redemption machines that are located on site. People under 21 are prohibited from wagering on VGTs. In addition, the state’s gambling law mandates that the machines are placed in an area that is constantly observed by an employee and cannot be accessed easily by minors.

Penn National has obtained a conditional license to operate VGTs around the state from the local gambling regulator. Subject to final regulatory approval, the major gaming company will operate gaming terminals at Rutter’s stores. The chain has submitted application with the Gaming Control Board, seeking permission to initially install VGTs at 20 locations.

Storied History and Shared Attributes

Commenting on today’s announcement, Rutter’s CEO and President Scott Hartman said that they are a company with a storied history in Pennsylvania and “a proven commitment to the communities in which [they] serve” and that their decision to select Penn National as their preferred VGT operator was very much based on the fact that the gaming company shared the same attributes.

Being selected as Rutter’s terminal operator, Penn National reached another milestone in its Pennsylvania growth strategy. Last year, a property owned by the company became Pennsylvania’s first casino to go live with legal sports betting. Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course began accepting wagers in mid-November. The property is currently operating a temporary sportsbook, while its main betting facility is under construction.

Pennsylvania legalized the provision of wagering services, both at brick-and-mortar venues and digitally, in the fall 2017 as part of the above-mentioned sweeping gambling expansion push. Sports betting then became possible due to the May 2018 decision of the US Supreme Court to lift a long-standing federal ban on the practice.

Back in September, Penn National received an approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to operate online casino gaming on the territory of the state.

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William Hill Secures Competition Clearance to Buy Mr Green

William Hill’s proposed £242-million acquisition of fellow gambling operator Mr Green receives approvals from competition authorities

British gambling operator William Hill announced today that it has received all the necessary approvals from competition authorities to acquire online gaming and betting company Mr Green & co AB (MRG) for SEK2.8 billion (approximately £242 million).

MRG now has up until January 17, 2019 to accept the recommended cash offer, William Hill further pointed out in a statement from earlier today.

The major British gambling company made the takeover bid in October 2018. It announced back then that it was seeking to buy its fellow gambling operator in a £242-million deal that was recommended by William Hill shareholders. The company plans to pay in cash for MRG’s shares.

Now as William Hill has obtained approvals from the competition authorities in all necessary jurisdictions, the transaction is “no longer conditional upon any approvals from authorities,” the British operator said in today’s statement.

As mentioned earlier, the last date for the offer to be accepted is January 17. William Hill said today that it will announce on or around January 21 whether the conditions of the offer have been satisfied and if they have been, settlement is expected to begin on or around January 25.

Reducing UK Impact

William Hill cited a number of reasons why it has decided to approach MRG with a takeover offer, but its effort to reduce its exposure to the UK gambling market is certainly among the most important ones.

In its domestic market, William Hill, alongside other companies with retail gambling operations, are facing a clampdown on the highly lucrative FOBTs sector. The UK government is set to implement this spring a massive reduction on the maximum stake accepted by the controversial devices from £100 to just £2. William Hill is the second largest operator of FOBTs in the country and the looming crackdown will have a severe impact on its business.

The British bookmaker also seeks to strengthen its online gambling business as the UK government has introduced a 6% increase of the 15% remote gambling duty paid by locally licensed companies. In fact, the operator, which has a rich retail betting heritage, has long been looking for a suitable digital partner to help it improve its online operations.

William Hill also said last year that the acquisition of MRG, which is headquartered in Malta, will help the company secure a ready-made base in the European Union in the post-Brexit era. The British operator’s business is currently run from Gibraltar.

William Hill expects synergy benefits of no less than £6 million a year from the takeover of MRG. These are to be achieved progressively and their full delivery is expected by the third year after the completion of the transaction.

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Philippine Court Issues Arrest Order for Casino Boss Kazuo Okada

Philippine court orders the country’s police to arrest Japanese casino mogul Kazuo Okada on three counts of fraud

A Philippine court has ordered the arrest of Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada after the country’s Department of Justice recommended last month the leveling of charges against him on three counts of fraud. The court issued the arrest order on Friday and it was made public on Sunday, Reuters reports.

Back in December, the Philippine DoJ issued a ruling on a legal motion filed by Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment, the operator of the Okada Manila casino resort. The ruling read that Mr. Okada misappropriated over $3.1 million from the company. The agency also recommended the filing of charges against the embattled businessman over three counts of fraud.

Mr. Okada sought reversal of the DoJ ruling, arguing that the Department dismissed crucial evidence while preparing its decision. In a 14-page motion filed late last year, the businessman’s legal team said that he obtained the contested amount of money as salaries for serving as CEO of Tiger Resort and in consultancy fees for the months of April and May 2017.

Mr. Okada and his legal team thus disputed DoJ’s statement that he acquired the above-mentioned amount “through mistake or fraud.”

Tiger Resort is a subsidiary of Universal Entertainment Corp., the Japanese pachinko manufacturer Mr. Okada himself founded more than five decades ago. In 2017, Mr. Okada was ousted from the board of the Philippine casino operator after allegations emerged that he had misappropriated funds without the approval of fellow board members.

Arrest Order

On Friday, Judge Rolando How of the Parañaque City Regional Trial Court Branch 257 ordered the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to present Mr. Okada to court. It was unknown whether the Japanese businessman was in the Philippines at the time of issuance of the order.

The local court fixed a bail at PHP348,000 (approx. $6,627) for all three charges the DoJ recommended in its December resolution.

In its motion, Tiger Resort has said that the company’s former Chief Operating Officer Takahiro Usui facilitated the contested payments to Mr. Okada. Mr. Okada claimed that Mr. Usui had been authorized to sign agreements and related documentation in response to DoJ’s argument that the former COO did not have the proper authorization to sign any papers without the board’s approval.

According to local media reports, Judge How issued on Friday an order for the arrest of Mr. Usui, as well.

Mr. Okada was detained in Hong Kong in August 2018 over corruption-related charges. The businessman had to surrender his passport after an interview with the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption, known to be the city’s anti-graft regulator.

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Day 1 of Inaugural PokerStars Players Championship Sees 1,014 Entries

Talal Shakerchi leads 754 Day 1 survivors into the second day of the inaugural PokerStars Players Championship

The poker year has officially begun with the start of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, one of the hottest, funniest, and most exciting poker events on the live tournament calendar. This year, PokerStars has decided to spice things up by adding a brand-new rake-free tournament to the schedule of the major festival.

Poker festivities kicked off Sunday, January 6, with the beginning of the highly anticipated PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC). Organizers have promised to hold the biggest $25,000 No-Limit Hold’em tournament in the history of the game at Atlantis Casino in the Bahamas and they delivered.

Once Day 1 of the event wrapped up, it could be seen that it had attracted a total of 1,014 entries, including 320 Platinum Pass holders. Over the course of last year, PokerStars offered players who participated in certain events the chance to win said Platinum Passes, which secured them with a seat into the PSPC. But even without the lucky 320 who managed to take hold of such passes, the PSPC would still be the largest $25,000 buy-in tournament ever.

Bearing in mind the humongous interest in the tournament, its overall prize pool has already eclipsed $25 million. And it is poised to swell up because registration for the event will remain open until noon local time today, that is once cards are thrown in the air for Day 2. More information about the prize pool and the paid positions will be revelaed once registration closes for good. The only thing we know so far is that the winner will walk away with $5 million in first-place prize money.

Who Survived Day 1?

Action on the first day of the PSPC unfolded so quickly that it was really hard to keep up. Eventually, it was Talal Shakerchi who ended the day as the chip leader. The player bagged and tagged 425,300 in chips last night, a stack he built up throughout the day from the 60,000 he entered play with.

Shakerchi is no stranger to PCA action. In 2016, the player topped the field of a $5,300 No-Limit Hold-em 8-Handed Turbo for $90,800 in prize money. Overall, Shakerchi has nearly $6.2 million in live tournament earnings. The player scooped his career’s largest cash of $1,188,000 last month when he finished fourth in the $300,000 ARIA Super High Roller Bowl.

Aside from Shakerchi, there are also a number of poker notables still in contention for the inaugural PSPC title, with some of those being Phil Hellmuth, Chris Moneymaker, David Peters, Mustapha Kanit, Patrik Antonius, and Kristen Bicknell.

Players who could not make it through the day included writer turned poker champ Maria Konnikova, Ronald Mici who won the Foxwoods Moneymaker Tour Event, and Twitch streamer Arlie Shaban, among others.

Day 2 action resumes today with 756 players from Day 1 and others who have taken advantage of the late registration option to secure a seat into the second day.

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