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Archive for February 23rd, 2019

Slingo Owner Sells Real-Money Gaming Business

Gaming Realms has moved to sell its real-money business to focus on content development and licensing

UK gaming company Gaming Realms has agreed to sell its real-money gaming business to Oslo-listed River iGaming for a total consideration of £11.5 million, news emerged today.

Under the terms of the transaction, which still needs regulatory and shareholder approval, River iGaming will acquire Bear Group, Gaming Realms’ real money gaming operation. The Oslo-listed gaming company will also take over Gaming Realms’ 30% residual stake in River UK Casino. River iGaming bought an initial 70% stake in River UK Casino last June.

The two companies said that the total cash consideration for all related transactions will amount to £11.5 million, including the settlement of the £4.2 million contracted deferred consideration owed by River UK Casino to Gaming Realms, due in October 2020.

The UK gaming group said today that the sale was in line with its strategy to focus its attention on the development of new gaming titles and international licensing of its flagship Slingo brand. Gaming Realms recorded licensing revenue of £1.8 million in 2018, up three times from the prior year.

Gaming Realms said that Bear Group generated revenue of £8.8 million and delivered adjusted EBITDA of £0.5 million for the 12 months ended December 31, 2017.

Focus on Content Development and Slingo Licensing

Gaming Realms revealed today that it would use proceeds from the sale to boost its development and licensing business and to repay its £3.5 million loan extended by JPJ Group Plc.

Commenting on the deal, group CEO Patrick Southon said that the new regulatory environment in the United Kingdom, paired with the increased Point of Consumption tax, has “made it increasingly difficult to operate a sole UK-facing casino and real-money platform.” The executive went on to say that the acquisition of the Slingo brand and intellectual property in 2015 has enabled his company to “become a highly regarded developer and licensor of games in the international gaming market.”

Gaming Realms penned earlier this year a three-year deal with Scientific Games Digital to develop the Slingo MONOPOLY game. Under the terms of the deal, Gaming Realms will develop and publish the game across its Slingo B2B and B2C channels and through its distribution operators channel and third-party websites.

The gaming group expects to cut costs amounting to £3 million following the sale of its real-money business. The transaction is subject to approval from the shareholders of both Gaming Realms and River iGaming as well as from the UK Gambling Commission and the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, and is expected to be completed in the second quarter of the year.

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Golden Nugget Atlantic City Joins New Jersey Online Betting Frenzy

Golden Nugget has just launched its online sportsbook, but New Jersey bettors will not be able to wager on NBA games

Golden Nugget Atlantic City now operates a digital sportsbook in addition to its in-person betting facility. In a Thursday press release, the Boardwalk property announced that bettors can now place bets on its Golden Nugget Casino website via desktop and mobile devices.

Golden Nugget’s brand new operation brought the number of digital sportsbook in New Jersey to 13. The state legalized the provision of sports betting just weeks after the US Supreme Court annulled a long-standing federal ban on the practice. New Jersey’s first in-person sportsbooks were launched last June and digital operations went live not long after.

Golden Nugget’s online sportsbook is powered by betting expert SBTech and is integrated into its existing casino website.

While the Boardwalk property might be a bit late to the digital sports gambling party, its move to integrate its betting operation into its casino website would certainly help it capitalize on its existing playerbase.

Golden Nugget has long been the leader in New Jersey’s online casino space. The gaming venue generated Internet gambling revenue of $104.7 million last year, claiming a nearly 35% share of the local market which was worth just under $300 million in 2018.

Judging by New Jersey’s January gambling revenue report, the casino’s online gaming reign seems to be poised to continue this year. The property recorded Internet gambling revenue of $12.2 million last month, up nearly 67% from January 2019 and more than any other local casino.

No Betting on NBA

While the NBA is in full swing, Golden Nugget’s New Jersey-based customers will not be able to place wagers on NBA games. The Boardwalk casino and NBA team the Houston Rockets share the same owner – Tilman Fertitta. The Texas-born billionaire businessman bought the Rockets for $2.2 billion back in October 2017.

Under New Jersey’s sports betting law, owners of sports teams can offer betting on all types of sports apart from the sport or league where the conflict of interest lies. Golden Nugget has hoped to convince state lawmakers to allow it to offer betting on NBA games excluding those involving the Rockets. Such is the case in Nevada, where Mr. Fertitta’s gaming operations offer NBA betting on all teams aside from his own.

Despite the lack of NBA betting, Golden Nugget Atlantic City bettors still have plenty of options with Major League Baseball and March Madness right around the corner. In addition, the casino’s digital sportsbook went live right ahead of this Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony and will certainly see quite some volume as bettors will be rushing to wager on who the winners in the 24 categories will be.

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Indiana Gary, Terre Haute Casino Bill Heads to Senate

Bill authorizing the relocation of two Majestic Star casinos and a new gaming facility in Terre Haute survives a second committee vote

A bill that could change Indiana’s gambling landscape drastically has just received a major boost by legislators. The piece passed a second Senate committee vote on Thursday to now head to the full Senate floor.

Following a Thursday hearing, the Indiana Senate Appropriations Committee approved Senate Bill 552. The piece contains provisions for the legalization of sports betting and authorizes the merger and relocation of the two Majestic Star casinos into a single site in Gary. The new venue, if the piece of legislation gains the necessary traction in the state’s Legislature, will likely be located near the Borman Expressway.

In addition, SB 552 permits the license that will remain vacant from the merger of the two Majestic Star casinos to be moved to Vigo County. A new casino will likely be developed in the city of Terre Haute.

Despite the positive vote yesterday, SB 552 is not likely to have a smooth path toward taking effect as a law. The piece has only passed its second committee vote, but it has already gained opponents who are pressing press for amendments.

The Bill’s “Hold-Harmless” Provision

Lawmakers introduced certain amendments to the bill during yesterday’s hearing, and some of those were not received very well by mayors of Gary’s neighboring cities. The legislation contained the so-called “hold-harmless” provision that would have required the new Gary casino to contribute a portion of its gaming revenue to Hammond and East Chicago.

However, legislators removed that provision ahead of Thursday’s vote and replaced it with one that simply stated that the Gary property could share, at its discretion, a portion of its gaming revenue with Hammond, East Chicago, and Michigan City.

The mayors of the above-mentioned three cities voiced their opposition to the move, arguing that the new casino would impact their existing gaming operations and that a “hold-harmless” clause would offset that negative impact.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Mark Messmer, said yesterday that the provision needed to be removed so as to win committee approval. The lawmaker went on to say that they will try to re-insert the clause next week when the piece is to be reviewed by the Senate or once it heads to the House.

If SB 552 survives through all legislative hurdles, it will take effect on July 1, 2019.

As mentioned above, the piece authorizes the merger of the two Majestic Star casinos into a single venue. A plan about the development of that venue is already in the works. Gaming company Spectacle Entertainment revealed earlier this month that it intends to build a $300 million casino complex near Borman Expressway.

The property would feature a gaming floor and a 200-room hotel. According to Spectacle, it could annually generate gaming revenue of $75 million and create 400 new jobs, doubling the current staff of Majestic Star.

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Portugal’s Online Gambling Market Grows in 2018, Football and Slots Most Popular with Gamblers

Portugal’s online gambling space records revenue and turnover increase in 2018, with football and slots proving main drivers of growth

Portugal’s online gambling market grew nearly 24% last year, figures released earlier this week by the local regulator Serviço de Regulação Inspeção de Jogos (SRIJ) show. Regulated online gaming and sports betting services generated revenue of €152.1 million in 2018.

Last year marked the second full year of legal online gambling operations since Portugal re-organized its local market and began issuing licenses to interested local and international companies. The country’s new gambling law took effect in 2015, but it was not before the spring of 2016 that SRIJ granted the first license as part of Portugal’s market liberalization effort.

The online gambling regulator had awarded 15 licenses by December 31, 2018, of which 7 for the provision of online sports betting services and 8 for online casino games, including poker. SRIJ recently issued its 16th license to Gibraltar-based online gambling group 888 Holdings. The company will be able to operate online casino games and poker in Portugal. 888 is only the second operator authorized to go live with poker services in the local market, with PokerStars being the first.

According to SRIJ’s recently published annual and fourth-quarter revenue report, online sports betting was the main driver of growth in the local digital space. Revenue from the practice totaled €78.9 million, with overall wagers placed amounting to €391.8 million.

The final quarter of the year was the most successful for Portugal’s regulated betting market with the highest revenue and turnover recorded of all four quarters. Revenue during the last three months of the year totaled €21.6 million, while betting turnover stood at €110.6 million. Football was the most popular sport among Portuguese bettors, with bets placed on football accounting for 73.8% of the total.

The Online Casino Sector Grows, Too

Portugal’s online casino sector, too, grew in 2018, recording revenue of €73.2 million, up from €54.4 million in 2017, and overall stakes of more than €2 billion. The fourth quarter of the year was the most successful one for that vertical, as well.

Online casino revenue amounted to €21.5 million during the final three months of the year on stakes totaling €576.4 million.

Online slot games once again proved to be the largest digital casino segment, accounting for 61.6% of all stakes during the fourth quarter of the year. Roulette came next, claiming 14% of the total market, followed by cash game poker with a 10.6% share, blackjack with an 8.5% share, and tournament poker with a 5.3% share.

PokerStars was the only licensed online poker operator in the local gaming space for two years. It added Portugal to the shared liquidity pool between Spain and France last May after receiving the green light by SRIJ. It is yet to be seen how the local online poker market will be boosted with 888 joining the space. The company said that it would, too, seek authorization to participate in the shared liquidity project.

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