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Archive for February 7th, 2019

Rhode Island Senate Committee to Review Mobile Betting Bill

Rhode Island Senate lawmakers are set to discuss today a piece of legislation that calls for the authorization of mobile sports betting within state limits

Authored by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, Senate Bill 0037 would allow Rhode Island’s Twin River Lincoln and Twin River Tiverton casinos to operate a mobile betting app in addition to their physical sportsbooks.

The Lincoln-based gambling venue launched its sports betting facility on November 26 to officially bring legal sports betting to Rhode Island and make it the seventh state to go live with sports gambling following last year’s landmark SCOTUS ruling. Its sister property in Tiverton opened its sportsbook the following week. British bookmaker William Hill operates the sports betting facilities at both casinos.

Senate President Ruggerio revealed last year that he was working on a bill that would authorize mobile betting on the territory of the state. The Rhode Island Senate’s top lawmaker introduced the piece of legislation in mid-January. The bill was referred to the Senate Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs Committee and its first hearing was scheduled for today, February 6.

If the bill passes all legislative hurdles, it will authorize and “provide for online sports wagering through authorized hosting facilities” in the state.

The Convenient Option

Senate President Ruggerio has previously explained that the authorization of mobile betting would provide bettors with “a convenient option” and would “open up the economic benefits” beyond the walls of Rhode Island’s two in-person wagering facilities.

Sports betting is taxed at 51% on revenue and tax contributions are used to support “critical services.” Senate President Ruggerio has pointed out that mobile betting would represent an additional revenue generator that would offset reliance on taxes for state needs.

According to information from the Rhode Island Department of Revenue, football fans in the state wagered legally nearly $6.5 million on the Super Bowl at the state’s two operational sportsbooks. On Sunday, the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams to capture their sixth championship.

Rhode Island is currently the only New England state to offer legal sports betting, which made it a focal point for fans of the Patriots from the region.

Although the state’s Revenue Department initially said it would not release Super Bowl betting stats, it eventually published those last night. Nearly 51,000 Super Bowl wagers were placed at Rhode Island’s two casinos, and William Hill paid out around $2.35 million on those. About 75% of all bets placed favored the Patriots.

All in all, the two betting facilities handled nearly $13.8 million in sports wagers in the period between November 26 and December 31, 2018. January financial data is yet to be released by the Rhode Island Lottery. The two sportsbooks generated revenue of a little over $1 million, which means that the state received more than $500,000 in tax revenue for the first weeks of legal sports betting.

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Binion’s Announces Expansion, Reopens Legendary Apache Hotel

One of the flagship Downtown Las Vegas properties is getting bigger amid booming development and renovation activity in the heart of Sin City

Binion’s Gambling Hall, the original home of the World Series of Poker, is being expanded, owner TLC Casino Enterprises revealed yesterday. The company unveiled plans to add full-service saloon at the property and to bring back the shuttered Apache Hotel that had been a Downtown Las Vegas fixture since 1932 until its closure in 2009.

TLC Casino Enterprises, which also owns Four Queens Hotel and Casino, bought Binion’s in 2008 for the total amount of $32 million. The company was forced to close Apache Hotel when the Recession hit Las Vegas. Its rooms have remained unoccupied since 2009.

A decade later, the TLC Casino Enterprises team is breathing new life into the shuttered facility. It is set relaunch as Hotel Apache by the summer. It will operate as a boutique hotel with 81 rooms that will feature “vintage-style furnishings reminiscent of the original Hotel Apache” that debuted in Las Vegas in the 1930s.

Binion’s General Manager Tim Lager said yesterday that they will give their customers “the modern thing” with flatscreen TV sets and USB cords, but with an old-school feel as the rooms will have hardwood floors, stained-glass windows, and lace curtains.

It is interesting to note that the original Apache Hotel had a history of spooky occurrences. The property was featured on ghost-hunting television shows after multiple reports of paranormal activity.

Whiskey Licker Up

TLC Casino Enterprises also announced yesterday that it would add the Whiskey Licker Up full-service saloon to Binion’s existing facilities. The saloon will be located right above the original Whiskey Licker Bar. It will offer “drinks, dining, dancing, live entertainment, and even a mechanical bull.”

With a huge rotating bar and all its offerings, Whiskey Licker Up will provide guests of Binion’s with unique views of Fremont Street, live acts directly from the street as well as in-house entertainment. TLC Casino Enterprises said that it plans to debut the saloon this summer.

The announcement about the expansion at Binion’s arrives as renovation and development activity in Downtown Las Vegas seems to be at its peak. Earlier this year, businessmen Derek and Greg Stevens unveiled the name of what has been referred to as the 18 Fremont Street casino resort project.

Their Circa Resort & Casino is expected to open doors in Downtown Las Vegas in 2020 with a 44-story, 777-room hotel, the largest sportsbook in the city, a two-level casino, a number of eclectic restaurants, and a multi-tiered pool amphitheater, among other facilities.

News also emerged last month that Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino would get a third hotel tower with nearly 500 new rooms and suites to respond to the growing demand for accommodation in Downtown Las Vegas.

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The post Binion’s Announces Expansion, Reopens Legendary Apache Hotel appeared first on Casino News Daily.

Online Gambling Regulation Discussion Begins in Dutch Senate

After years of delays, the Dutch Senate finally commenced its review of the so-called Remote Gambling Bill. The Senate’s debate on the proposed re-regulation and opening of the local online gambling market to interested international operators began yesterday.

While a vote on the bill, previously approved in the Dutch House of Representatives, is yet to take place in the Senate, there was tiny progress toward that necessary vote during yesterday’s discussions.

According to Gaming in Holland, which live-tweeted key takeaways from the Senate’s debate, the Remote Gambling Bill has already gained majority support in the upper house of the Dutch Parliament. However, there was a surprising twist in yesterday’s discussions that extended late into the night.

Senate lawmakers asked Dutch Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker to provide written answers to three important questions regarding the re-organization of the nation’s gambling market. Minister Dekker has long been the main proponent of the re-regulation of the Dutch online gaming and betting field.

The legislator will have to provide more specific explanation on what the term “illegal operator” stands for and on what legal basis such operator can be excluded from the local gambling market. The second question raised by the Senate expects Minister Dekker to present measures that would restrict gambling advertising on websites and social media and on what legal basis such measures could be implemented.

Finally, the Minister will have to provide information on specific measures “grounded” in the Netherlands’ administrative law to block illegal gambling websites after the reorganization of the local market. As mentioned earlier, Minister Dekker will have to provide written answers by Friday.

Takeaways from the Senate’s Questions

While the general mood during yesterday’s debate gave up support for the Remote Gambling Bill, the three questions raised late into the night show that the legislation could undergo certain modifications before being voted on by Senate lawmakers.

In the first place, it seems that the Senate might insist on the introduction of a blackout period for companies that have already been servicing Dutch customers, despite the fact that the Netherlands’ current gambling regulations prohibit that. Such companies will not be allowed to apply for and obtain licenses from local regulators for a certain period of time as a punishment for violating previous rules, if measures on the issue are indeed introduced.

It also seems that lawmakers will seek to implement certain restrictions in the way regulated gambling services are advertised on the Internet, including on social media. Any such restrictions should not come as a big surprise, particularly given the fact that several European countries have recently signaled plans to consider and potentially introduce limitations on how gaming and betting products are promoted.

Based on the third question that Minister Dekker will have to provide a written reply to, the Senate is clearly considering to add provisions that will require local Internet service providers to block gambling websites managed by unlicensed operators. Blacklisting and ISP blocking have been practiced in a number of regulated markets, but have proved highly ineffective against the battle against unlicensed operations.

The Dutch Senate will meet again next Tuesday, February 12, to review Minister Dekker’s written replies and possibly vote on the Remote Gambling Bill. The piece was passed by the Dutch House of Representative in the summer of 2016, but has seen little movement in the Parliament since then.

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The post Online Gambling Regulation Discussion Begins in Dutch Senate appeared first on Casino News Daily.

NJ Casino Regulator to Review Luxor’s Acquisition of Ocean Resort Casino

New Jersey casino regulators commence review process for granting interim casino license to the new owner of Ocean Resort Casino

The New Jersey Casino Control Commission is set to hold today its first meeting on the recently announced sale of Ocean Resort Casino to New York-based hedge fund Luxor Capital Group, The Press of Atlantic City reports.

The meeting is scheduled for today at 10:30 am local time. The casino regulator will review a joint petition for the transfer of ownership filed by the property’s former owner, Colorado businessman Bruce Deifik, and Luxor.

Mr. Deifik and the New York hedge fund filed the petition in question on January 28, 2019, the same day that the businessman confirmed that he is handing the Boardwalk hotel and casino resort to Luxor.

Ocean Resort Casino opened doors on June 27, 2018. The property occupies the building of the former Revel resort. Despite its efforts, it kept lagging behind its Boardwalk competitors, and that prompted speculations that Mr. Deifik might be looking for a buyer of the property. The businessman confirmed those reports in mid-January, saying that he had entered an agreement to hand the resort to a then-unidentified entity.

Luxor was one of two primary lenders to Mr. Deifik when he purchased Ocean Resort Casino from Florida businessman Glenn Straub in January 2018. Mr. Deifik bought the then-shuttered property for $229 million through two bridge loans: a $122.5 million one from Luxor and a $110 million one from J.P. Morgan. The J.P. Morgan loan was repaid last summer with a second loan of $175 million.

Regulators to Review the Transaction

The transfer of ownership cannot be finalized without approval from New Jersey casino regulators. If the Casino Control Commission approves the joint petition filed by Mr. Deifik and Luxor, the latter would increase its ownership interest in Ocean Resort Casino to 83% from 34%.

The commission’s approval would allow for the creation of a trust that would be controlled by a designated trustee and would hold the majority interest in the Boardwalk casino resort. Eric J. Matejevich was named as the trustee in the January 28 joint petition. Mr. Matejevich, former Chief Operating Officer at the now-shuttered Atlantic Club Casino, will serve as trustee until Luxor gets interim authorization to operate casino gambling in New Jersey.

The process of granting such interim authorization could take up to 90 days during which the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement will conduct an probe into the hedge fund’s suitability to run a gambling operation in the state, and another 30 days within which the Casino Control Commission is to set a hearing date on the authorization.

Once Luxor receives interim authorization, state gambling regulators will commence a more thorough review of the hedge fund before issuing an actual casino license.

According to the joint petition filed by Luxor and Mr. Deifik, the New York hedge fund will invest $70 million into the property. Of that amount, $50 million would be used to reduce the balance owed to J.P. Morgan, while the other $20 million would be spent on acquiring majority ownership in a holding company of AC Ocean Walk, which holds the casino license for the operation of the resort’s gaming business.

Luxor has also revealed that it plans to add a buffet at the property, finish 12 hotel floors in the middle of the hotel tower to add 500 rooms to the existing 1,400 ones, and upgrade the casino floor.

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The post NJ Casino Regulator to Review Luxor’s Acquisition of Ocean Resort Casino appeared first on Casino News Daily.


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