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Archive for March 11th, 2019

Churchill Downs Closes Duo of Acquisition Deals

The casino and racetrack operator has expanded its presence in Illinois and Pennsylvania with the addition of two properties to its portfolio

Kentucky-based casino and racetrack operator Churchill Downs Inc. completed a duo of acquisition deals earlier this week as part of the company’s strategy to extend its footprint in key markets across the United States and to cement itself as a leading owner of gaming properties and horse racetracks.

In a statement from Friday, March 8, Churchill Downs announced the purchase of Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin in Farmington, Pennsylvania for total cash consideration of $100,000. News about the transaction’s closure arrived on the heels of the necessary regulatory approval the casino and racetrack operator received by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board earlier this week.

Churchill Downs has thus assumed management of the property after acquiring certain assets related to its management from rival Eldorado Resorts. Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin opened doors in 2013. The property features 600 slot machines and 27 table games.

Churchill Downs acquired the Lady Luck property as a condition for the closure of a previously announced deal to purchase Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie, Pennsylvania from Eldorado Resorts for total cash consideration of $178.9 million. That transaction was finalized in January. Last month, Presque Isle was given the green light by the state’s gambling regulator to begin operating a sportsbook. The casino is yet to build and launch its sports betting facility.

Churchill Downs Completes Rivers Casino Des Plaines Acquisition

Churchill Downs closed yet another acquisition deal earlier this week. That transaction secured the company with expanded presence in the Illinois market and the addition of the state’s top performing casino to its portfolio of properties.

The Kentucky-based casino and racetrack operator finalized the purchase of a majority stake in Rivers Casino Des Plaines. The property opened doors in 2011 in the greater Chicago area, just two miles from O’Hare International Airport. It features nearly 1,000 slot machines and 58 table games.

Churchill Downs was able to close the previously announced acquisition of the casino after the Illinois Gaming Board voted 4-0 in favor of the deal on March 1. The company paid nearly $407 million for a 62% stake in the property’s parent company Midwest Gaming Holdings.

Churchill Downs runs one more operation in Illinois – Arlington International Racecourse, which too is located in suburban Chicago. Regulatory hurdles have hampered the company’s attempts to add slot machines and other gaming options at the racetrack for years now. With the acquisition of Rivers Casino, Churchill Downs has now entered the state’s casino gaming market.

The company has also positioned itself for an entry into Illinois’ sports betting market, should the practice become legal in the state. Any proposals for one form of gambling expansion or another have historically proved hard to survive in the Illinois Legislature, but there are somewhat optimistic prognoses that things could turn up differently this year.

The state’s newly sworn-in Governor J.B. Pritzker has added the legalization of sports gambling to the state’s budget plan for the next financial year. The top legislator believes that legal wagering could help Illinois narrow a massive gap in its budget.

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The post Churchill Downs Closes Duo of Acquisition Deals appeared first on Casino News Daily.

New Zealand’s SKYCITY to Roll Out Online Casino by Year’s End

The casino operator revealed plans to expand into the online casino space, despite the lack of proper regulations in New Zealand

New Zealand casino operator SKYCITY Entertainment Group plans to launch a real-money online casino operation by the end of the year, local news outlets report citing the company’s spokesperson Colin Espiner.

SKYCITY first revealed its ambitions to expand into the online gambling space last August. The company currently operates integrated entertainment properties with casinos in its homeland as well as in Australia.

It is illegal to provide online gambling services from within New Zealand, but SKYCITY plans to exploit a loophole in the country’s law and will base its operation outside the country. It will be unable to run its business from Australia, as well, since online casino games are prohibited under the nation’s revised gambling law from 2017.

Mr. Espiner told local media that they are yet to pick a location for their online operation. The company’s spokesperson indicated that SKYCITY is considering Malta, which has been a popular online gaming hub for years now. It also became known that the New Zealand casino operator is exploring opportunities to form a partnership with an established online gambling operator.

SKYCITY’s online business would be limited to casino games. The company does not plan to explore sports betting for now.

Under New Zealand’s current regulations, SKYCITY will not be able to advertise actively its casino website across local media. Offshore gambling companies have found a way to circumvent rules and promote their operations to Kiwis, but SKYCITY said it would not exploit any existing loopholes. It would instead rely on some search engine optimization to attract gamblers.

Contributing Revenue to the Government

SKYCITY does not expect to generate any significant profit from its online casino during its first year of operation due to heavy setup costs. However, the company believes that the operation would take off rapidly.

Mr. Espiner told local media outlets that the gaming and hospitality operator could pledge up to NZ$40 million in annual taxes per year to the government. SKYCITY’s online casino will not be in New Zealand’s jurisdiction as it will be based outside the country, but the company said that it is willing to contribute funds to its homeland. Mr. Espiner went on to explain that even if the government cannot accept its contributions, SKYCITY would direct the money to charity.

The casino operator said it would make sure to monitor strictly its online gaming operation and that services are provided to customers in a socially responsible manner. Problem gamblers will be detected timely and will be imposed time and spending limits, the company’s spokesperson added.

Despite SKYCITY’s pledges for tax revenue and social responsibility, New Zealand Minister for Internal Affairs Tracey Martin reportedly said that she was “disappointed they are forging ahead” and that the move showed the inadequacy of the country’s current regulatory framework.

Minister Martin indicated last year that she would present a paper aimed at reorganizing the local online gambling market. SKYCITY is optimistic that the legislation would allow for the provision of online casino services in a controlled environment, instead of banning the practice altogether. It is understood that Minister Martin would introduce the piece to the Cabinet this April. However, any changes in the nation’s gambling law would take two years to be implemented.

News about SKYCITY gearing up preparations to launch its real-money online casino was condemned by New Zealand’s Problem Gambling Foundation, which has been lobbying for the introduction of more restrictive regulations regarding the provision of gambling services for years.

Offshore gambling companies have already been targeting local customers, but SKYCITY believes it could become a favorite online casino destination among Kiwis, because it is a locally known and trusted brand. Mr. Espiner said that they hope they can become the market leader and that people would rather give their credit card details to them than to an operation they have never heard of.

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The post New Zealand’s SKYCITY to Roll Out Online Casino by Year’s End appeared first on Casino News Daily.


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