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Archive for February 12th, 2019

Dover Downs Shareholders to Vote on Twin River Merger Next Month

Dover Downs stakeholders to vote on proposed merger with fellow casino company Twin River at a special meeting on March 26

Dover Downs Gaming & Entertainment shareholders will vote on the company’s proposed merger with Twin River Worldwide Holdings, Inc. at a special meeting next month, the two gaming and entertainment operators announced in a joint statement issued on Friday.

The companies also said that the US Securities and Exchange Commission has declared effective Twin River’s registration statement that contained Dover Downs’ proxy statement regarding the proposed merger.

Twin River and Dover Downs first revealed plans to merge their operations last July. The deal, when finalized, would represent the latest of this kind amid a wave of consolidation within the US land-based casino field. Urged by growing competition, the legalization of sports betting, and some regulatory pressure, a number of companies have opted to combine their businesses with fellow casino operators in a bid to better position themselves to claim a larger share of the market.

The special meeting of Dover Downs’ shareholders is set to take place on March 26 at 8 am Eastern Time at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Dover, Delaware. Shareholders of record at close of business on February 5 will be able to vote on the proposed merger.

The deal is expected to be finalized shortly after the meeting, subject to shareholder approval, the satisfaction of certain other conditions, and regulatory approvals.

Geographical Expansion

Twin River operates the Twin River Tiverton and Twin River Lincoln casinos in its home state, Rhode Island. Late last year, the two properties debuted their physical sportsbooks to became the state’s exclusive providers of legal sports betting services.

The company also manages gambling venues in Biloxi, Mississippi and Aurora, Colorado. The merger with Dover Downs will expand Twin River’s geographical presence to the Mid-Atlantic region.

The deal will also transform Twin Rivers into a publicly traded company. Under the terms of the planned merger, Dover Downs shareholders will exchange their stock for common shares in Twin River, representing 7.225% of the total equity of the combined entity. Twin River shares are to be registered on NYSE or NASDAQ. The company generated net revenue of $428.8 million during the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017.

Once the deal closes, Twin River will add the Dover Downs Hotel & Casino property in Dover, Delaware to its portfolio and will expand its gaming offering with 2,200 more slot machines and a number of table games. Dover Downs also added recently a sportsbook that takes single-game bets on professional and collegiate sporting events.

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Florida Senate President to Introduce Comprehensive Gambling, Sports Betting Bill

Florida Senate President Bill Galvano reiterated this past Friday his plan to introduce a sports betting bill during this year’s legislative session

However, the Senate’s top official pointed out during an interview with Florida Politics reporters that his legislation would not be limited to sports wagering, but would also concern other aspects of the state’s gambling industry.

Florida’s 2019 legislative session is set to commence on March 5. Sen. Galvano said last month that he has directed a Senate committee to review the sports betting issue and craft a related legislation by the end of February.

The lawmaker added on Friday that the bill would include other gambling-related matters, the nature of which can still be addressed by the Legislature. Florida voters passed last November the so-called Voter Control of Gambling constitutional amendment that gave residents of the state the authority to decide on the future of the state’s gambling industry. In other words, any gambling expansion proposals that appear in the Legislature will require voters’ approval in order to take effect.

Sen. Galvano said last week that aside from sports betting, his bill would also include “more of a comprehensive impact on the pari-mutuels, from tax rates to hours of operation.” The state’s pari-mutuels also feature card games and slot machines in certain parts of Florida.

Seminole Tribe Compact

State lawmakers will also seek to “stabilize and present new terms or modified terms” to Florida’s existing compact with the Seminole Tribe during the upcoming legislative session. Under said compact, the state receives a portion of the gaming revenue generated by the tribe’s casinos in exchange for exclusivity over the operation of blackjack.

The current deal expires in May. Previous negotiations between Florida lawmakers and tribal officials were not particularly smooth, but the Seminoles have kept paying the state its share of the blackjack revenue generated at their gambling venues.

Sen. Galvano said on Friday that the two parties will have to reach an agreement this spring so that the state can secure an additional $3 billion in revenues over a seven-year period. The lawmaker, previously a House member, played an instrumental role in negotiations over the original compact with the Seminole Tribe that was signed in 2010.

Sen. Galvano further elaborated that the Seminoles would probably want sports betting and that they would still want to add more table games, such as roulette and craps. The lawmaker also pointed out that the tribe wants stability and it can “point to an agreement that is not in flux.”

It is yet to be seen what Sen. Galvano’s gambling bill would include and how it would address sports betting and the Seminole issue. However, any gambling expansion proposal could face litigation, as it would be considered a violation of last year’s amendment.

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Stride Gaming Confirms News Reports about Potential Sale

Stride Gaming is considering a sale as part of an ongoing strategic growth review, the online casino and bingo operator revealed today

UK-based online gambling group Stride Gaming confirmed today that it has been reviewing a number of strategic options for its future growth, including a potential sale of the company.

Stride’s announcement arrived a day after The Times reported that the company has put up itself for sale. The gambling group confirmed that portion of the news outlet’s article, but also clarified in its statement from earlier today that it had been fined once by the UK Gambling Commission in recent months, not twice as inferred by The Times.

The UK gambling regulator slapped a £7.1 million fine on Stride’s subsidiary Daub Alderney for failing to provide the customer protection standards required under the terms of its UK license.

Stride is the online gambling group behind the Lucky Pants Bingo, Kitty Bingo, and Regal Wins Casino brands, among others. The company has a major presence in the online bingo sector of the UK, holding an 11% share of that lucrative market that is worth around £2.8 billion a year.

The group is listed on AIM and its market cap stands at nearly £85 million at press time.

Stride said in today’s statement that it is reviewing the possibility to participate in industry consolidation through a sale of the company. It pointed out that there was no offer made for the online gaming group at the moment and that there was no certainty that should an offer be made, the board would pursue it.

Stride’s statement read further that the company would remain primarily focused on “winning and retaining mass market, recreational customers onto its bingo and casino sites.” The company has hired banking and asset management group Investec to assist it with its review and with any potential offers made.

Other Growth Options

The UK-licensed gambling group further pointed out that its review of growth opportunities is not limited to a sale. Stride is also considering the implementation of a “more aggressive UK and international organic expansion strategy.”

Expansion of the gambling company’s operations through acquisition in the UK or across international markets is, too, among the options reviewed by Stride’s board, it became known today. The group said that it wants to take advantage of the disruption in the online gaming space that has been prompted by fiscal and regulatory changes.

Last but not least, Stride said that its board has remained confident in the company’s ability to navigate successfully through ongoing “fiscal and regulatory market pressures” and to leverage its unique structure to capitalize on “significant growth opportunities” in the ever-changing UK gambling market.

Stride’s board expects to report on the progress of its review ahead of announcing interim financial results for the period ending February 28, 2019.

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Mohamed Abdou Wins Largest-Ever WPTDS Brussels Main Event

France’s Mohamed Abdou took down last night the record-breaking field of the WPTDeepStacks Brussels Main Event for €118,000

The largest-ever WPTDeepStacks Brussels Main Event came to a close at Grand Casino Brussels Viage last night with Mohamed Abdou emerging as the victor from a 584-person field to claim the €118,000 first-place prize and the accompanying €2,000 WPT Season-Ending Package.

Abdou remained the last man standing after a long Day 3 of the tournament and a short heads-up against Rehman Kassam.

Prior to last night, the brand-new WPTDeepStacks champion had just under $40,000 in live tournament earnings. Most recently, he finished 6th in a €450 No-Limit Hold’em tournament that took place as part of the WPTDeepStacks Deauville festival. The event took place last December and saw Abdou collect €3,305 in prize money.

Commenting on his biggest poker win, Abdou told WPT staff last night that it felt great to scoop WPTDeepStacks title. The player went on to say that he came to Brussels after playing a Winamax satellite. He actually bubbled the WPTDS package and received €500, but decided to take the trip to Brussels anyway. Of his plans, Abdou said that he would be playing a lot more tournaments and that he would attend the upcoming WPT Barcelona festival.

How Action Unfolded on Day 3

The final day of the tournament kicked off with 18 players down from a record-breaking field of 584 entrants. Greek player Kyriakos Papadopoulos led the pack of finalists into Day 3 with a stack of 2.66 million. Abdou started the day with the second-largest stack of 1.985 million.

It was a long day at the host casino as everyone left was eyeing the top prize and was fighting fiercely for it. By the time the official nine-handed final table was set, both Papadopoulos and Abdou had lost some of their momentum and quite some chips. The start-of-the-day chip leader was down to just 1.2 million at that point.

The Greek player left the tournament not long after. He was eliminated in seventh-place for a cash prize of €19,000. As for Abdou, he managed to recover his foothold and to place himself in a better position to attack the top.

Eventually, Abdou faced Rehman Kassam heads-up. It was a short battle that did not really involve any major confrontations. The two players battled it out for half an hour before they put all chips in play at the center of the table to end it all.

On what turned out to be the final hand in play, the flop ran out [4s][Qs][9d] to see Kassam bet 500,000 into the 1 million pot. Abdou shoved and Kassam called for 5 million. Abdou tabled [Qc][7c], while Kassam turned over [Qh][10c]. The board delivered a [7d] on the turn. The river card was no good for Kassam and the player, who makes a living as a VIP Account Manager at partypoker, had to settle for €79,000 as the WPTDeepStacks Brussels Main Event runner-up.

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