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Archive for February, 2019

Caesars, DraftKings Forge Multiyear Sports Betting Partnership

Casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. and fantasy sports turned sportsbook operator DraftKings Inc. announced on Monday that they have forged a partnership that will smooth the latter’s way into a number of new jurisdictions

Under the terms of the deal, Caesars has obtained an undisclosed equity stake in DraftKings. The Las Vegas gaming and hospitality powerhouse will also receive a share of the revenue generated by DraftKings in the states where their partnership is in force. The largest US casino operator, Caesars currently manages nearly 40 properties in 13 states.

DraftKings, originally a daily fantasy sports operator, ventured quickly into the US sports betting space, following last year’s strikedown of a long-standing federal ban on wagering by the nation’s Supreme Court.

The company entered the New Jersey gambling market shortly after the state legalized sports betting. DraftKings quickly became the state’s largest online gambling operator, along with rival FanDuel.

DraftKings was able to enter New Jersey’s gambling market through a partnership with Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel. It also provides sports betting services in Mississippi.

The partnership with Caesars will certainly make it easier for DraftKings to expand its sports betting footprint across the US. The operator will still need to obtain a license from the regulators of states where wagering is legal, but having access to Caesars’ physical gaming establishments will certainly make the process smoother.

Official Casino Resort Partner

Under the terms of the deal, DraftKings will promote Caesars as its official casino resort partner in states where the two companies are present. Caesars will be able to continue running its own online casino and sports betting operations.

Despite being among the leaders in the provision of sports betting in the nascent regulated market of the United States, DraftKings does not operate physical sportsbooks. While regulations in different states vary, working in partnership with a land-based casino is a key requirement in some of the jurisdictions where sports betting is legal. Its partnership with Caesars will certainly facilitate DraftKings’ entry into states where the Las Vegas casino giant operates land-based properties.

Commenting on the newly-penned deal, Jason Robins, CEO and co-founder of DraftKings, said in a Monday press release that partnering with Caesars will “expedite [their] national roll-out process and give [them] the opportunity to work alongside one of the largest and most established industry leaders in the world.”

Since the federal sports betting ban was annulled last spring, Caesars has been working actively to form key partnerships and secure extended brand exposure within the nation’s growing regulated sports betting field. Earlier this year, the company became the first casino sponsor of the National Football League. And last fall, Caesars partnered with Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey to open the Caesars Club at the multi-purpose arena, known to be the home venue of the New Jersey Devils hockey team.

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LeoVegas Ventures Into Sweden’s eSports Betting Space

LeoVegas explores a new vertical with today’s roll-out of its brand-new eSports betting website,, in Sweden

LeoVegas is venturing into the lucrative eSports betting market with today’s launch of the newest brand in its online gambling portfolio – The eSports betting site has recently received a five-year license for the provision of online gambling services from Sweden’s gambling regulator, Spelinspektionen.

First news about LeoVegas’ interest to expand its reach into the eSports betting market emerged last fall when the online gambling operator acquired a majority stake in’s parent company, Pixel Holding Group Ltd. The transaction was finalized later in 2018 and LeoVegas paid €1.5 million for the eSports betting operation.

Commenting on’s entry into the newly liberalized Swedish gambling market, Pixel digital Ltd. CEO Eirik Kristiansen said in a press release published today that being licensed in Sweden represents a springboard that will also position the business for continued international expansion.

Aside from betting on eSports, will also be offering casino games and live casino. Sweden and the Nordics are the newly launched operation’s initial focus market, but owners believe it has the potential to grow further internationally.

LeoVegas CEO Gustaf Hagman said today that in a year when his company focuses “on strong growth but also on cost efficiency, it is inspiring to see that are developing well.”

eSports Is Massive in Sweden

Sweden has long been one of the super powers in eSports. According to a 2016 report commissioned by Unibet, the Nordic nation has more eSport players than any other country in the world. Sweden not only has the highest concentration of professional players, but they are also among the ones most eager to spend big on eSports.

The nation has one of the largest and most dedicated eSports audiences, with millions of Swedes watching competitive gaming and purchasing tickets and merchandise. According to an early 2018 survey compiled by PayPal and research firm Superdata, Sweden is Europe’s second biggest eSports consumption market, beaten only by Russia. The study was based on viewership data from Twitch and YouTube.

Sweden’s market volume stood at SEK254 million (approx. $27.2 million) at the time the PayPal report was released. Market volume is calculated on consumer purchase of tickets and eSports-related merchandise. It is believed that the Swedish eSports market will reach its peak this year and is expected to grow 14%, two times the growth rate of the global market, and to be worth around SEK350 million (approx. $37.6 million).

The reason why eSpots has turned into a booming business in Sweden has a lot to the with the fact that the country has a strong competitive gaming culture and has created an excellent environment for players to develop their skills and gain experience. The fact that the nation was among the earliest adopters of fast broadband further helped it grow into the eSports super power it is today.

With the widespread growth of competitive gaming, betting on eSports competitions has become an equally attractive activity. The re-regulation of the Swedish gaming market has paved the way for gambling operators to venture into the relatively new but already lucrative field of eSports betting and capitalize on its increasing popularity.

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Serial Troublemaker 1xBet Fined in the Netherlands

Kansspelautoriteit issued on Monday its first illegal gambling fine of the year, slapping €400,000 on 1xBet and

Days after the Dutch Senate passed the Remote Gaming Bill, paving the way for the re-organization of the local online gambling market, the Netherlands Gaming Authority slapped another hefty fine to erring operators serving Dutch customers without being permitted to do so.

Internet gaming companies 1x Corp. NV, registered in Curacao, and Cyprus-based Exinvest Limited were fined €400,000 for offering online gaming and betting services to Dutch punters, even though foreign operators are barred from the local market.

The Dutch gambling regulator, Kansspelautoriteit, said in a press release issued this past Monday that it has conducted a probe into the activities of the two companies in the country and has discovered that both served local customers for a certain period of time.

1x Corp. NV is the operator representing, a popular Russian gambling operation that is no stranger to regulatory trouble in a number of jurisdictions, while Exinvest owns

Kansspelautoriteit said that both websites could be reached from within the Netherlands, targeted local customers in Dutch language, and featured locally popular iDeal as an available payment method. The gaming regulator went on to say in its press release that both websites offered a wide variety of gaming and betting options.

Kansspelautoriteit also discovered that another 83 websites with Dutch language versions were operated by the two companies. Logging into any of those was possible with a single account.

As mentioned earlier, the Dutch Senate has finally passed the Remote Gaming Bill nearly three years after the lower house of the Parliament cast its positive vote on the piece. The bill provides for the re-organization of the local market in a manner that will enable international operators to obtain a license from Kansspelautoriteit and operate in a regulated environment.

However, operators previously fined by the regulator will have to wait for two years (after the enactment of the new regulations) before being able to apply for a local license, under a provision in the piece of legislation.

A Serial Troublemaker

1xBet’s tendency to target unregulated markets has got the online gambling operation in hot water on a number of occasions. Last fall, the website was one of three to be blocked in Israel, where the provision of gambling services is mostly illegal.

A Tel Aviv District Court ordered last October that,, and be blocked to be prevented from targeting Israeli gamblers.

In Poland, more than 200 1xBet-associated domains have been added to the country’s blacklist of naughty unlicensed operators since it re-organized its market in April 2017. 1xBet has also received multiple slaps on the wrist from watchdogs in its motherland, Russia. The operation’s main website has blocked access from within the country, but it has hundreds of domains that still target local gamblers.

News emerged earlier this month that 1xBet was one of several dozens of operators to have been issued a license by the Italian gambling regulator, Agenzia delle dogane e dei monopoli, to operate in one of Europe’s largest regulated markets.

1xBet found itself embroiled in a bit of a controversy in Italy a few years ago. It was selected as the official international presenting partner of the country’s Serie A for the 2017-18 season. The deal faced heavy criticism by the government and regulators, which forced its termination.

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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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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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