News In Brief: August 1-August 5, 2022

August 5, 2022
U.S.-based casino company Penn National announces that it is rebranding as PENN Entertainment.


Penn National Rebrands As PENN Entertainment


Penn National Gaming on Thursday (August 4) announced a rebranding of the company to PENN Entertainment.

The announcement comes as the company posted an 86.7 percent drop in year-on-year net income, from $198.7m in the second quarter of 2021 to $26.1.m this year.

Net revenue increased by 5.2 percent to $1.6bn this year from $1.5bn.

“Our new name maintains ties to our legacy while better reflecting our evolution into North America’s leading provider of integrated entertainment, sports content and casino gaming experiences,” said Jay Snowden, CEO and president.

Snowden told analysts that a potential recession creates a challenge in terms of modeling PENN’s business. But he was confident the company, as a regional operator, could navigate any economic downturn.

“Despite economic headwinds, we delivered consistent performance across our retail portfolio in the quarter and into July. In addition, last month, we successfully transitioned theScore Bet in Ontario to our own fully-integrated, proprietary stack, reflecting a key achievement in our strategic roadmap.

Snowden said they remain confident in our ability to mitigate the Barstool Sportsbook in the U.S. onto the new tech stack in the third quarter. PENN’s interactive division posted revenues of $154.9m, with an adjusted EBITDA loss of $20.8m.


FanDuel To Seek Nevada Gaming License


FanDuel Group, which is owned by Flutter Entertainment, could arrive in Nevada by the end of the month to operate the sportsbook inside the Fremont Hotel Casino in downtown Las Vegas, a Boyd Gaming spokesman confirmed Wednesday (August 3).

“We believe the FanDuel Sportsbook would be a great addition to the Fremont and the downtown area, and we look forward to sharing more details following the receipt of required regulatory approvals,” David Strow, a Boyd spokesman, said in an email.

Flutter Entertainment is expected to be on the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s agenda for its August 10 meeting, a source told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.

Boyd has a 5 percent ownership stake in FanDuel, which CEO Keith Smith described to analysts during an earnings call on July 26 as an “important strategic asset” that will grow more valuable as sports betting expands and they continue to build on their position in the market.

According to the deal, Fremont’s sportsbook will be rebranded as a FanDuel sportsbook, but Boyd will continue operating the outlet. In the beginning, FanDuel will not offer mobile wagering in Nevada.

A FanDuel spokesman declined to comment Wednesday. FanDuel’s decision to be licensed in Nevada was first reported by The Nevada Independent.


Lithuania Regulator Hands Out Two Fines


The Lithuanian Gaming Control Authority has announced two more fines for Gambling Strategy Group (Lošimų strateginė grupė) for €25,000 and UAB Tete-a-tete casino for €15,000.

Gambling Strategy Group, which is run by Betsson-owned operator Betsafe, sent a newsletter to 10,430 customers on February 10, 2022 that was deemed to encourage gambling participation, which violates the country’s strict advertising rules.

The newsletter included features of one of the operator's games and the newsletter was also seen as drawing attention to the company's reliability, according to the gambling regulator’s decision.

As recently as March 2022, Gambling Strategy Group received a separate €25,000 fine for non-compliant marketing for unlawful promotion of poker.

UAB Tete-a-tete casino, which operates gaming halls, was fined for allowing players outside Lithuania to gamble online, and forced to stop allowing them to gamble by August 10, 2022, or risk losing its license to organize gambling with Category B machines.

Decisions passed by the gambling regulator can be appealed.


Caesars Entertainment CEO Amused By Questions About Asset Sale


Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg made it clear to analysts on Tuesday (August 2) that the deadline to sell Las Vegas Strip assets is still the end of summer while expressing his amusement at how the tone of the questions had changed over the last few quarters.

“This has become, for me, kind of amusing because when I first started talking about, we are going to sell a Vegas Strip asset, the response … was why would you want to stell a Strip asset look at how great it is,” Reeg said.

“Now the conversation has turned to 'Oh my God can you get this done? This is critical.'”

“This is a change in you. Not in us,” Reeg told analysts during a second-quarter earnings call.

“This has been discretionary for us from day one and it remains so. So regardless of what level of fear is coursing through the investment community, we put our heads down and we do the work and if we have a trade that makes sense, we will do it.”

“If not,” Reeg said, “we are fine with it. It is very clear; the timeline is laid out in the VICI (Properties) documents that govern this.”

Caesars on Tuesday reported a second-quarter loss of $123m, after reporting a profit of $71m in the same period a year earlier. Net revenues for the quarter were $2.8bn.


California Battle Of Sports-Betting Initiatives Heads To Court


The California-Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Tuesday (August 2) seeking to remove what they describe as the deceptive and inappropriate use of its name in the No on 26 ballot arguments.

The NAACP said it supports Proposition 26, which would legalize retail sports betting at tribal casinos and racetracks in California, and the lawsuit claims the ballot arguments violate the organization’s bylaws governing the use of its trademarked name.

“NAACP is proud to stand with California Indian Tribes in strong support of Prop 26 to help preserve and further Indian self-reliance,” said Rick Callender, president of the California-Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP.

In a statement, Callender said they are “suing to have these dishonest statements removed from the ballot arguments so it does not mislead voters.”

Members of the No on 26 campaign were unavailable for comment late Tuesday.

The lawsuit claims a statement by Minnie Hadley-Hempstead, a retired teacher, who opponents say is president emeritus of the Los Angeles NAACP branch says they oppose Prop 26 to “protect young people from developing lifelong gambling addictions that often lead to ruined finances, relationships, even homelessness, and crime.”

The NAACP argues the quotation gives the false impression that the NAACP opposes Prop 26, even after they publicly endorsed the ballot initiative on February 18. Furthermore, the Los Angeles NAACP branch does not have the position of “President Emeritus.”


IGT Sets Aside $150m In DoubleDown Lawsuit


International Game Technology (IGT) has set aside $150m to cover any “possible loss” of a lawsuit against its former subsidiary DoubleDown, the company announced in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company, which reported second-quarter earnings on Tuesday (August 2), said it “will continue to monitor these matters and may adjust its disclosures.”

Former customers of DoubleDown, a social casino business that was previously owned by IGT, filed a class action lawsuit claiming the games that players can choose to purchase tokens that can be used for play amounted to illegal gambling in Washington state.

The case was first filed in 2017, the year IGT sold DoubleDown for $825m to DoubleU Games, and has gone through several court filings since then.

“International Game Technology is vigorously pursuing its defenses,” the company said.

As for IGT’s second-quarter results, the company posted revenue of $1.021bn, down 2 percent from $1.041bn in the same period last year. Operating income was $228m, down 7 percent from $244m.

IGT CEO Vince Sadusky reminded analysts on Tuesday that Brazil remains a significant opportunity that has been out there for some time. He said we have got to get through the Brazilian elections, and “we’ll see how things play out.”

“But clearly, for the few large jurisdictions that are remaining, it’s pretty compelling to the benefits of lottery for good causes,” Sadusky said.


Brazil Tourism Group Laments Lack Of Gambling Regulations


The Brazilian Business Chamber of Tourism met for the first time in person since the pandemic began on July 27 to discuss tourism strategies, including lamenting the lack of gambling regulation.

Magnho José, president of the Brazilian Institute For Legal Gambling (IJL), told attendees that the country’s economy is losing out every day while it waits to regulate. “Nearly 200 thousand Brazilians travel each year to play games of chance in other countries, generating jobs and income in those places. Legalisation in Brazil could generate 658,000 direct jobs and 619,000 indirect jobs in the gaming production chain.”

Chamber Deputy Rodrigo Coehlo was optimistic that the regulation of gambling would make significant strides after the presidential election. He was particularly hopeful for Law 442/ 1991, which has been waiting for regulation for more than 30 years. “The General Tourism Fund, Perse, and the Legal Framework for Gambling are the biggest watersheds in the sector in recent history.”


Victoria Introduces New Set Of Tough Casino Controls


The government of Australia’s Victoria state has introduced a second tranche of reforms for the operation of Crown Resorts’ flagship casino in Melbourne.

The latest changes, in line with 12 recommendations from a Royal Commission into Crown’s operations, include betting limits and electronic monitoring of customer spend.

All “Australian residents at the casino must fix a maximum limit on how much they are prepared to lose before gambling on pokies [slot machines] — an Australian first”, a government statement said today (August 2).

Players will be limited to using A$1,000 (€678) in cash per 24 hours, with amounts in excess requiring casino cards and personal identification.

The reforms also impose smoking bans in high-roller rooms and mandatory vetting of investors in Crown Resorts who aim for a greater than 5 percent stake in the company.

Crown Resorts, now controlled by US-based Blackstone Group, is undergoing a two-year period of probation under a government-appointed special manager.

The appointment and strict new legislation follow the Royal Commission’s severe criticism of the casino’s facilitation of money laundering and other compliance violations.


Market Conditions Cool Caliente-Playtech SPAC Deal


Playtech and Mexican partner Caliente Interactive have ended discussions with Tekkorp Digital Acquisition Corp., a U.S.-listed special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), over a deal that would have seen the Caliplay venture to enter the U.S. sports-betting market, according to a filing Friday (July 29) with the London Stock Exchange.

“Capital market conditions have deteriorated since the transaction was initially contemplated and, accordingly, this transaction is no longer being pursued in the same manner,” Playtech said.

However, Playtech said it continues to pursue other options with Caliplay to build a standalone U.S. gaming business under the Caliente brand and focused on the Hispanic community in the U.S.

“Both parties also continue to have discussions with the SPAC and its associates regarding this alternative opportunity. Discussions are at an early stage and further updates will be made if appropriate.”

The announcement comes after Tekkorp, Caliente and Playtech have already made moves to bring the leading Mexican online betting brand to the U.S. market.

In April, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) determined that Tekkorp Digital, a SPAC doing business as Caliente Interactive, had met the minimum qualifications for one of three available online sports wagering licenses. Tekkorp is still listed as an applicant on the IGB's website.

Title Unable To Make Payroll, Fund Operations

Body, a Texas-based lottery broker and information site, owes $425,00 in outstanding payroll obligations, the company admitted in a filing Friday (July 29) with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The board of directors of the company said it was also not clear about’s financial position, saying it “does not currently have sufficient financial resources to fund its operations or pay certain existing obligations, including its payroll and related obligations.”

“The company’s inability to pay this amount may result in employees terminating their relationship with the company and/or pursuing legal remedies,” according to the SEC filing.

Additionally, admitted its capital resources were not sufficient to fund its operations for a 12-month period and, therefore, there is a “substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

“If the company is not able to secure additional capital resources or otherwise fund its operations, the company will be forced to wind down some or all of its operations and pursue options for liquidating [its] assets, including equipment and intellectual property,” the filing said.


Massachusetts Lawmakers Create Commission To Study Slots Expansion


The Massachusetts legislature passed a veterans affairs bill on Friday (July 28) that mandates an official study on a potential expansion of gaming in veterans’ halls.

A narrower bill was amended in the House earlier in July with added provisions that would have enabled qualified veterans’ halls to apply for licenses from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to host up to five slot machines each.

The Senate rejected that proposal, however, and a conference committee of House and Senate members ultimately compromised on a plan to create a commission to study the issue.

According to Bill S.3075, the commission should make recommendations and submit draft bill language to the legislature based on regulatory oversight, the potential economic impact of slots at veterans’ halls and veteran gambling statistics, among other things.

The commission will comprise seven members including the executive director of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Its report will be due no later than June 1, 2023.


Codere Becomes Main Sponsor Of River Plate Football Club


Codere has become the main sponsor for famed Argentina football team Club Atlético River Plate, and will now have its name emblazoned on the front of the well-known red and white football shirts.

Codere has partnered with River Plate before, beginning its association in July of last year when it was named the club’s official bookmaker.

River Plate is one of South America’s most famous clubs and was ninth in FIFA’s club of the century poll. In terms of market power, it currently comes in sixth in the ranking of most members of all clubs in the world with 123,000 members.

“Codere is a sponsor we already know and with whom we have gone through a very important journey. It is a source of pride that such a prestigious international brand continues to trust in River and that it chooses to enlarge the agreement and be our ‘main sponsor.’” said Jorge Brito, the club’s president.

Carlos Sabanza, the head of Sponsorships of Codere, stated on behalf of the company: “We are very proud to be featured on the front of the Club Atlético River Plate jersey and convinced that in this new stage we will continue to promote our brand together, as well as to provide the Argentine public with the best entertainment omnichannel.”


Mexico's President Partners With National Lottery


Mexico’s President has partnered with the National Lottery for the third time, this time to raise money for the works on the Santa María Dam in the Sinaloa state.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO as he is known locally, invited lauded business people to dine with him at the National Palace for the event. The meal was used to encourage them to participate in the lottery draw, which includes prizes that range from cash to entire lots in the state of Playa Espiritu.

Among the attendees was magnate Carlos Slim Domit, the son of one of the world’s richest men, Carlos Slim Helú.

It is expected that the work on the dam will help to generate 30,000 additional jobs.

The last time the President partnered with the lottery was to auction off a house worth $4.5m in one of the country's most expensive neighbourhoods that used to be the residence of a notorious drug lord.


U.S.-based casino company Penn National announces that it is rebranding as PENN Entertainment.

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