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Archive for February 26th, 2019

After Casino, World Expo, Osaka’s Mayor Now Pitches Formula One Plans

The Mayor of Osaka believes that the city’s successful bid to host the 2025 World Expo and its plan to bid to host one of the country’s three future integrated resorts could also boost its chances to become home to a Formula One Grand Prix race

Local news outlet The Mainichi quoted Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura saying during a press conference last week that he would “very much like to realize the Osaka F1 Grand Prix.” According to Osaka’s top official, the artificial island of Yumeshima would be where the city could host Formula One races. The man-made island will host the World Expo in 2025.

Mayor Yoshimura further dwelt last week that he hopes the host venue for the trade show would be developed with the necessary infrastructure that can subsequently be used to host Formula One motor events. He pointed out that regular asphalt roads would not be suitable to be used for races, so they “should develop better quality ones.”

The official indicated that Osaka and Yumeshima, in particular, could become a home to Formula One street circuits. Currently, Japan hosts one Formula One Grand Prix event per year at the Suzuka International Racing Course in Suzuka City, Mie Prefecture.

Formula One Ambitions Only Achievable with Casino on Yumeshima

Mayor Yoshimura said that the Formula One plans could and should only be realized if Osaka is selected as the preferred host of one of Japan’s three integrated resorts that are to be built as part of the country’s casino legalization push.

The official pointed out that a casino resort on Yumeshima will turn the artificial island into “the best entertainment area which cannot be seen anywhere else.”

Osaka City and the Osaka Prefecture are gearing up preparations to submit their application to host one of Japan’s integrated resorts. It is yet unknown when exactly the government will pick the three locations for the properties, the first of their kind in the country, but analysts believe this is certainly going to happen this year.

Osaka has long been deemed one of the favorites in the casino resort host race. Officials believe that the city will be able to open the property in 2024, right before the World Expo.

There already are popular casino hubs that are also hosts to Formula One races, with Monaco and Singapore being the most notable examples. Monaco could easily be identified as Europe’s most popular casino hub, while Singapore is home to two of the world’s largest integrated resorts, with those being Genting Group’s Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands operated by Las Vegas gaming and hospitality giant Las Vegas Sands.

Both Genting and Las Vegas Sands have also expressed interest in entering Japan’s casino market. Other major companies that will be bidding for the right to operate one of the nation’s first casinos include Lawrence Ho’s Melco Resorts & Entertainment, Florida-based Hard Rock International, and Las Vegas powerhouse MGM Resorts International. MGM and Melco have pointed out that they are particularly interested in Osaka and its Yumeshima island.

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The post After Casino, World Expo, Osaka’s Mayor Now Pitches Formula One Plans appeared first on Casino News Daily.

Caesars, Carl Icahn in Talks over Board Representation, New CEO

Caesars reportedly in talks to give Carl Icahn board representation, activist investor proposes Anthony Rodio as Mark Frissora’s successor

Gaming and hospitality powerhouse Caesars Entertainment Corp. is reportedly in talks with Carl Icahn to offer the New York activist investor a role in selecting its new CEO, Reuters reports citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

The ongoing talks also involve an agreement between the company and the businessman that would give him board seats. The latest reports surrounding the future of Caesars arrive shortly after Mr. Icahn confirmed last week in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that he has amassed a 9.78% stake in the hotel and casino operator and that he believes its potential sale would offer the best value for its stockholders.

Caesars said in a response to Mr. Icahn’s filing that it has engaged in discussions with the businessman and that it would consider all his suggestions.

It also became known from last week’s SEC filing that the billionaire investor plans to nominate “a slate of directors” to Caesars’ board during the company’s annual shareholders meeting.

The casino operator is reportedly in negotiations with Mr. Icahn to give him board seats. Unnamed sources with knowledge of the ongoing talks said on Sunday that the billionaire investor has proposed Anthony Rodio as the new CEO of Caesars when Mark Frissora steps down.

Mr. Frissora was to leave in February, but the company said not long ago that he will remain at its helm for a little longer.

CEO Candidates Shortlist

Caesars already has a shortlist of candidates to succeed Mr. Frissora. The company has reportedly told Mr. Icahn that it will consider his candidate, as well. Mr. Rodio is currently the CEO of private gambling company Affinity Gaming.

According to sources, Caesars is open to providing Mr. Icahn with board representation. The businessman could receive a significant minority in the 12 board seats, sources believe. The deadline for Mr. Icahn to nominate board directors expires on March 1, which means that ongoing discussions between the investor and Caesars could result in a deal in the next few days.

If a deal is not reached, the casino operator may either extend the nomination period or continue talks with Mr. Icahn even if he files a board slate for election, sources pointed out.

The New York activist investor is not Caesars’ only shareholder to be pressing for the company’s sale. News emerged over the weekend that the company’s largest stockholder, Los Angeles hedge fund Canyon Partners, believes shareholder value will be “best served and enhanced by an open sale process.” It was reported last summer that another hedge fund, HG Vora, had built a 5% stake in Caesars and was urging the company to sell itself.

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Connecticut Committee to Review Four Gambling Bills This Week

Gambling expansion in Connecticut is set to receive a fair amount of attention this week as four bills on the matter are set to be discussed in the Legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee, local newspaper The Day reports

In his budget speech last week, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont somewhat endorsed the legalization of sports betting by saying that the state needs new sources of revenue and that sports betting and Internet wagering could be two such sources.

State Senator Cathy Osten has introduced a bill authorizing Connecticut’s two federally recognized tribes – the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans – to offer sports betting services at their casinos and via smartphones. The legislation, if passed, would also allow the Connecticut Lottery to roll out an online keno product “pursuant to agreements” with the two tribes.

If the measure succeeds through the Legislature, it could pave the way for Connecticut to become the next state in New England to go live with sports gambling. Rhode Island is currently the only state in the region to provide legal betting services. Its Twin River casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton went live with in-person betting late last year. A bill authorizing mobile wagering is currently under review in the Rhode Island General Assembly.

Casino Measures

The Public Safety and Security Committee is set to host tomorrow a public hearing and to collect testimony on four gambling bills. The hearing is scheduled for 10 am local time and will take place at Room 1E of the Legislative Office Building in the capital Hartford.

Aside from sports betting, the bills are also focused on the future of the state’s casino industry. Connecticut is currently home to two tribal casinos – Foxwoods Resort Casino, owned by the Mashantucket Pequots, and Mohegan Sun, owned by the Mohegans.

The two tribes have been given the nod to jointly build a casino resort in East Windsor to keep gambling revenue within the state and blunt gaming competition from the recently launched MGM Springfield in neighboring Massachusetts.

However, each of the two tribes needs to have their individual renewed agreements with the state approved by the US Department of the Interior. The agency has given the nod to the Mohegans’ compact with Connecticut, but is yet to act on the other tribe’s agreement.

A bill spearheaded by Sen. Osten calls for the elimination of the federal approval requirement. If passed, the piece would pave the way for the two tribes to finally commence work on their joint casino project.

Another measure calls for the opening of a bidding process for an integrated casino resort in Bridgeport. MGM is pushing the bill for a third year. In 2017, a similar legislation was introduced but failed to reach the House floor. Last year, it barely survived a House vote, but the Senate never voted on it. It is to be seen how far the legislation will go this time.

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Malaysia’s WA Hospitality to Enter Cambodia’s Casino, Hospitality Market

Malaysian hotel operator WA Hospitality has revealed plans to enter the casino and hospitality market of Cambodia through a partnership with local real estate developer Won Majestic

The Malaysian company has signed an agreement to operate Won Majestic Casino Hotel & Resort in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. The property is currently under development and is slated to open doors in the first quarter of 2021.

The Won Majestic complex will feature a five-star hotel, 270 apartment units, 313 grade A offices, retail spaces, a 2,500-square-meter casino, food and beverage outlets offering a wide variety of food – from Chinese to Western cuisine, and a sky bar overlooking the city of Sihanoukville. With its 28 stories, the resort’s building will soar 120 meters above ground.

WA Hospitality was established in 2015 as a subsidiary of UK travel and hospitality group World Avenues. Its agreement to operate the Sihanoukville resort represents the first international contract won by WA Hospitality.

Commenting on their entry into Cambodia’s hospitality market, WA Hospitality Executive Director Ally Bhoonee said that Won Majestic will not be the “typical casino hotel” and that their concept for the property involves offering “entertainment and excellent personalised service.” The executive went on to say that they expect 80% hotel occupancy during the resort’s first year of operation and that they will be targeting upmarket free independent travelers from China and Southeast Asia.

Sihanoukville – the Main Driver of Casino Growth in Cambodia

Sihanoukville, part of the Preah Sihanouk Province in the southwestern part of Cambodia, is home to 88 casinos, according to recently released government data. The city and the province have proved the main drivers of growth in the country’s casino gaming industry in recent years, mainly due to a surge in the number of visitors from China to the coastal area.

According to recent data by Cambodia’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, the nation issued 52 casino licenses in 2018, up 50% from the previous year and bringing the total number of permits for the operation of gambling venues to 150.

It also became known that a significant number of the licenses awarded during the twelve months ended December 31, 2018 were for casinos in the Preah Sihanouk province.

Licensed casino operators are required to pay an annual license fee of $40,000 to the government of the Southeast Asian nation and to contribute a portion of their revenue. Government officials have previously said that they expected gaming revenue to reach $56 million in 2018, but it is to be seen whether that target was indeed reached as the Finance Ministry, tasked with overseeing the local casino industry, is yet to compile its annual financial report.

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The post Malaysia’s WA Hospitality to Enter Cambodia’s Casino, Hospitality Market appeared first on Casino News Daily.

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