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Archive for April 6th, 2019

Hard Rock Snatches JACK Cincinnati Casino in $745 Million Deal

Hard Rock International is expanding its portfolio of gaming properties with the addition of JACK Cincinnati Casino, the gaming and hospitality giant announced today

Hard Rock, together with real estate investment trust VICI Properties, has agreed to purchase one of Ohio’s premium gambling properties for the total amount of $745 million in cash from its current owner, Detroit-based company Jack Entertainment.

Under the terms of the deal, VICI Properties, the REIT that spun off from Las Vegas casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. in 2017, will buy 100% of the interest of an entity of the Cincinnati casino that owns the land and real estate for $558 million, while Hard Rock will pay $187 million for the operating assets of the gambling venue.

VICI Properties and Hard Rock will then enter a long-term leasing agreement for an initial rent of $42.75 million per year and an initial 15-year term.

JACK Cincinnati Casino features a 100,000-square-foot gaming floor with 1,800 slot machines and 100 table games. In addition, the property includes six dining facilities and 33,000 square feet of meeting space.

Deal Expected to Close in Late 2019

The purchase of JACK Cincinnati Casino will not mark Hard Rock’s first foray into Ohio’s gambling market. The company first entered the state in 2013 when the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park opened doors. MGM Resorts International purchased the racino’s operating assets recently and rebranded it as MGM Northfield Park.

Hard Rock and VICI Properties said today that they expect to close the acquisition of JACK Cincinnati Casino in late 2019. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

Hard Rock, which operates 245 hospitality properties across 75 countries, plans to add new facilities and property improvements to JACK Cincinnati’s existing offering. The new additions will be announced later this year by the property’s new owner.

Commenting on the new property in their extensive portfolio, Hard Rock Chairman and CEO Jim Allen said that they look forward to introducing their brand to the Cincinnati region. The executive went on to welcome JACK’s more than 1,000 employees to the Hard Rock family. The gaming and hospitality giant currently employs over 40,000 people around the globe.

Under the terms of the deal, Hard Rock and VICI Properties will also take over JACK Entertainment’s Turfway Park horse racing track in Florence, Kentucky.

Commenting on their decision to sell their Cincinnati casino and the racecourse, JACK Entertainment CEO Matt Cullen said that they are confident Hard Rock is “the right choice to take JACK Cincinnati Casino and Turfway Park to the next level of growth.”

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Microgaming Slots Now Live with 888casino

Microgaming’s content is now live with 888casino in the UK, Scandinavian rollout of the provider’s games with the major operator coming next

Micgrogaming announced Thursday its online casino content has gone live with 888casino in the United Kingdom. The milestone agreement between the major provider and the online gambling operation enabled the latter to expand its existing offering with Microgaming’s extensive award-winning portfolio.

UK customers of 888casino are now able to play some of Microgaming’s most popular titles, including Jurassic World and Game of Thrones as well as a number of Casino in Bingo side games, the Isle of Man-headquartered supplier of gaming content said in a Thursday press release.

In addition, 888casino players have also been provided with access to Microgaming’s progressive jackpot network, known to be the largest in the world and to have paid out more than €1 billion in winnings to a number of lucky gamblers over the years.

Microgaming’s progressive jackpot network includes the widely popular Mega Moolah slot which has been smashing record upon record. Last fall, a lucky Grand Mondial Casino player hit Mega Moolah’s €18,915,872.81 jackpot, setting a new payout record for the online casino game.

Last month, Micrograming announced that two players have tapped the Mega Moolah jackpot within 48 hours, the first scooping more than €11.5 million in prize money and the second collecting €2.2 million.

Scandinavian Rollout Coming Next

Micrograming’s titles initially went live with 888casino in the UK. The gambling operation also holds licenses from the gambling regulators of Spain, Italy, Denmark, and Sweden.

Microgaming said in a Thursday press release announcing its new partnership with the online gaming powerhouse that its content will gradually be rolled out in other jurisdictions where 888casino is authorized to operate in, including Denmark and Sweden. The online casino, along with a number of other gambling companies, entered the newly regulated Swedish market early this year.

Microgaming’s games have been available in Sweden since day one of the country’s new regulatory regime with the likes of bet365, LeoVegas, Unibet, and PokerStars, among other major online gambling groups.

Commenting on their teaming up with 888casino, Micgrogaming’s CEO, John Coleman, said that they are thrilled to welcome the operator to their ever growing customer base and that they are confident “this will be the start of a positive strategic partnership which will further strengthen the Microgaming brand across Europe.”

Guy Cohen, SVP Head of B2C at 888casino’s parent company 888 Holdings, said that the partnership with Microgaming will bring their offering to the next level and that it will “enable [them] to raise [their] position of offering the most engaging and interactive casino content.”

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Bill Requiring Addiction Warnings on Lottery Tickets Reappears in Florida Legislature

A bill requiring lottery vendors to place a warning message about addiction risks on lottery tickets is gaining momentum in the Florida Legislature

The measure – House Bill 629 – survived on Thursday a vote in the House Commerce Committee. The bill’s approval in the committee paved its way for a full House floor review. An identical piece of legislation was introduced in the Senate, as well, but that one is yet to be reviewed by members of the Legislature’s upper house.

Authored by Rep. Will Robinson, HB 629 will require all Florida-facing lottery vendors to place the same message on the front of all lottery products distributed across the state. In addition, the piece mandates that the Lottery Department put the same message on all lottery ads and promotions.

The exact wording of the message proposed by Rep. Robinson is:

“Warning: Playing a Lottery game constitutes gambling and may lead to addiction and/or compulsive behavior.

The chances of winning a big prize are very low.”

Senator Keith Perry has submitted the Senate version of Rep. Robinson’s piece. As mentioned above, the measure has not been heard in Senate committees yet.

Record Lottery Sales

News about Florida potentially moving to add a warning notice on all lottery tickets came shortly after the state’s Lottery Secretary, Jim Poppell, announced that the Florida Lottery was on pace to surpass its record sales of $6.7 billion in the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

Last month, major lottery provider Scientific Games Corp. said that its long-time partner, the Florida Lottery, has broken the record for single-week retail sales of instant lottery games in the United States. Florida residents purchased $126.3 million worth of scratchcards in the week ending March 3, 2019.

There was a similar push for adding a warning on the front of lottery tickets in 2017. Back then, the measure passed the House effortlessly, and even though it faced some opposition in the Senate, it survived through that legislative hurdle, as well.
However, the proposal was vetoed by then Florida Governor Rick Scott. Gov. Scott said the piece imposed “burdensome regulations on the Lottery and its retail partners” and that many of the notice provisions it contained were “duplicative of current Lottery initiatives.”

With a new Governor on board, it is to be seen whether the rekindled push will have similar success in the two chambers of the state Legislature and whether it will receive the necessary approval from Florida’s top official.

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Study Reveals “Worrying” Surge in Female Gambling Addicts in Sweden

The majority of Sweden’s gambling addicts are women for the first time ever, a recent survey by the nation’s Public Health Agency (Folkhälsomyndigheten) shows

The report found that the overall number of problem gamblers has dropped since 2015, when the last such study was released. However, the surge in the number of female gambling addicts is one of several concerning trends outlined in the latest survey.

Public Health Agency investigators found that the gender gap among problem gamblers has been erased over the past four years. And of the 45,000 people whose gambling problem is serious enough to be deemed an addiction, 64% are women. That is up from 18% in 2015. The surge is largely blamed on the exploding growth of online gambling in the Scandinavian nation.

Commenting on the newly published findings, Ulla Romild, the researcher behind the survey, said that while overall numbers are declining, it is still “worrying” that the number of people with serious gambling problems is growing and that there is an increase among women.

Ms. Romild went on to say that the growing number of women gambling addicts is not the most important result in the survey. The scholar explained that that the agency’s focus is “broader than only the people being dependent on gambling” and that they are “more interested in a larger group experiencing harm” – that of people with moderate risk and gambling problems.

The above group includes more than 100,000 Swedes, the survey shows. And another 225,000 people have some risk of joining the above group.

Gambling under a New Regulatory Regime

Sweden’s new gambling law took effect on January 1, 2019. While international companies were able to service Swedish gamblers before the implementation of the new regime, they can now do it in a controlled and regulated environment with a license from the local regulator, Spelinspektionen.

Prevention and assistance to problem gamblers is one of the main tasks the regulatory body and its licensees have been charged with as part of the reorganization of the local gambling market.

The new law mandated the creation of the Spelpaus national self-exclusion register that contains information about all Swedes who opt to self-exclude from gambling for a set or an indefinite period of time.

According to information from Spelinspektionen, more than 30,000 people have chosen to register with Spelpaus and self-exclude from gambling between January 1 and April 1, 2019. Most of them have done so for an indefinite period of time. This means that until further notice, they will not be able to gamble with all operators licensed to provide their services on the territory of Sweden.

The promotion of gambling activities in the country has appeared on the radar screen of lawmakers and competent bodies and it seems more and more likely that restrictions will be introduced. Sweden’s Minister for Public Administration Ardalan Shekarabi issued a statement alongside the gambling addiction survey, saying that he will put an end to the aggressive advertising of gambling products.

Licensees have recently proposed a self-regulation system regarding how they advertise their offering, but Minister Shekarabi believes more needs to be done so that the most vulnerable members of the population are protected.

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