The stockholders of Caesars Acquisition Company and Caesars Entertainment Corporation decided to give a green light to the proposed merger of the two companies after successfully negotiating the terms and conditions of the Merger Agreement.
The Merger proposal finally received the approval of the shareholders of both Caesars Entertainment Corporation and Caesars Acquisition Company, so that the restructuring of the subsidiary of Caesars Entertainment, and namely Caesars Entertainment Operating Company can start. The shareholders also placed on the table of discussion other issues, related to the recovery of the Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, Inc. (“CEOC” ) after the company declared bankrupt, eyeing its future.
Mark Frissora, President and Chief Executive Officer of Caesars Entertainment explained that this will open new perspectives for development in front of the company. He expressed his gratitude to the stockholders, who supported the Merger Agreement.
The story of the proposed Merger started some time ago, and more precisely at the end of 2014, when Caesars Entertainment announced its intention to acquire Caesars Acquisition Company. The two companies entered an all-stock transaction partnership, which was supposed to create one of the biggest entertainment companies and to restore Caesars Entertainment Operating Company after the bankruptcy.
Upon eventual completion of the transaction, the merged companies were supposed to hold constantly growing assets and operate a massive network of gaming venues and resorts. The only setback in front of the stockholders was to agree on the terms of the agreement.
After many hardships and negotiations, today it was announced that the Merger Agreement received the approval of the shareholders and now it is waiting on the line for regulatory approval. The Merger is dependent on customary closing conditions and in case the companies fail to meet them, the agreement can be terminated. This means that both the target and acquirer needs firstly to meet certain conditions in order to comply with the legal procedure.
Caesars Entertainment Corporation is an American-based gaming company, which operates more than 50 entertainment venues. It is reported to be one of the biggest gaming corporation in the world and it is owned by a number of private companies.
The merger of Caesars Entertainment and Caesars Acquisition is expected to be finalized by the end of the year. In the meanwhile, both companies need to make sure that they will meet certain legal requirements. In case the Merger Agreement is successfully finalized, the two companies will focus on establishing a financially stable corporation, which produces a positive cash flow.
On Wednesday 19 people living in mainland China were arrested by Macau’s Judiciary Police. They were suspected to be the masterminds behind an illegal VIP gambling room in a hotel located in the city.
The criminals were scamming the potential players to take part in the scheme as well. TDM, Macau’s public broadcaster announced that the hotel in question is located in the NAPE district, but its name remains undisclosed for the time being. The 19 arrested suspects who took part in the illicit activity have allegedly developed a whole plan how to run the VIP gambling room in the most efficient way and each one of them had a designated role in the operation.
They were playing the roles as dealers, security guards, VIP hosts, VIP room operators and gamblers. At the time of the raid which the Macau Judiciary Police performed there were also four customers present in the venue. The illicit activities were suspected to be going on for the last two years and the Judiciary Police has been suspecting them and closely observing. Getting to learn the criminals’ habits is vital when policemen are trying to catch them at the crime scene while they are performing their unlawful act.
In this case, the conspirators have been operating illicit VIP gambling rooms in numerous locations in Macau and they have been very inventive when it comes to the way they were able to perform the criminal action. They were doctoring card shoes and transforming them in a way which will turn the results in the house’s advantage. They were always making the most of the situation and leaving the customers with smaller winnings or nothing. This practice could not be left without consequences and this is how the authorities received the knowledge that there is something illegal going on.
Macao Daily News, the Chinese-language newspaper, recently reported that a mainland China resident reported the crime to the police in June this year, with the claim that there is a VIP room set up in a hotel room, which is attracting gamblers with promises of big prizes. Mainland residents of all ages have been lured to play there and try their luck, but to no avail, because of the doctoring of the cards shoes which had been done.
According to the reports, at least five people have been victims of these schemes and owe debts to the people arrested by the police. Investigations are still going on in order to find out if there are more people involved in the criminal scheme. The police are looking for any alleged conspirators still out there.
In mid-July this year, a new pari-mutuel facility, also known as Kings Court, swung its doors open in Florida City. Only a few months later, it seems that the gambling venue has run into troubles due to Florida’s legal framework for gambling. Under Florida law, all gambling facilities, which would like to offer poker and casino games are obliged to offer pari-mutuel betting, including horse racing, greyhound racing, jai-alai, and others. Contrary to the expectations, Kings Court has met all the state requirements. The dynamic games, though, ravaged the facility, leaving it with shattered glasses and no profit. At least, the owners can operate without any worries about for the fiscal year, which is to end 30th June 2018.
By law, Kings Court was required to operate a jai-alai session before it can offer poker. Apart from that, there is a requirement regarding the minimum number of performances of the “obligatory” game, which is no less than 58. Despite all the downsides, Kings Court managed to meet the state’s requirements and now it is allowed to offer poker and casino games for the fiscal year, which is to end 30th June 2018. The next challenge in front of the poker room’s owners is to run 58 more performances by 30th June 2019, which is the end of the next fiscal year. Kings Court has almost 2 years to complete the mission.
Kings Court’s Problems from Offering Jai-Alai
In the meanwhile, the operators are to investigate a problem with the unique glass court, which was shattered on multiple occasions. The company, which installed the glass, convinced the owners that it is of high quality and it is specially designed for that purpose, but it seems that the players are either too strong, or the company did not keep its promises.
As aforementioned, Kings Court bumped into yet another problem. The pari-mutuel facility registered almost no profit from jai-alai. As for July and August, when Kings Court was allowed to offer only jai-alai, the figures revealed that the players gambled away $1,914 and $1,081, respectively. The picture seems to be wistful as a great number of people lost interest in the once thriving jai-alai sport and the city’s jai-alai venues are almost dying. Hence, it may be concluded that Kings Court poker room did a good job so far compared to the others.
Florida’s Gambling Rules
As aforementioned, in Florida, casinos and poker rooms are forbidden by law. However, the law offers one loophole. The only way to open a gambling facility and offer poker and casino games in Florida City is to offer pari-mutuel betting as this is the only gambling form that is allowed. But there is a good historical reason for Florida’s gambling law. The jai-alai sport was among the most popular in the area, but the things dramatically changed somewhere between the 1970s and the 1980s. Rumours were spread that the games are fixed and people’s interest in jai-alai dropped. In order to save the game’s vestige, the state introduced the current gambling law. On the other hand, the poker tables in these facilities are beehive with activity.
A financial year-old casino report came out of the closet this week, raising concerns regarding irregular cash transactions at Richmond’s River Rock Casino. Canada’s financial watchdog is to put the report under the microscope and consider stricter anti-money laundering measures. Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC) revealed that more than a half of River Rock casino workers lack the needed knowledge of money laundering indicators. Hence, Canada’s financial watchdog announced that it embarks on suspicious money transactions hunt at British Columbia (BC) gambling venues.
This week shipped with a shocking revelation. The newly elected BC government dug out a shelved casino report from the last year, which reveals some suspicious money dealings. The report in question was kept in dark from the previous Liberal government, withholding the casino report for more than a year. Attorney General David Eby commented that the previous government should have publicized the report, as it raises concerns regarding illicit cash. He added that BC can tackle the problem by keeping its eyes open for it and improve its anti-money laundering regime.
Casino Report Serves as an Eye-Opener
The report found out that in July 2015, the River Rock Casino Resort had received around $13.5 million in $20 bills. Moreover, the report claimed that River Rock casino employees did not show any signs of being concerned by the fact that Asian VIP customers of the casino were buying chips worth a fortune, paying only with bills of $20. Ears ago, police have warned that $20 bill is the most used bill by drug dealers. Nevertheless, the casino workers were unbothered by the fact that a number of rolls featuring $20 bills entered River Rock Casino. FINTRAC explained that almost 80% of the casino staff lack the needed knowledge of the indicators of suspicious money transaction. Mr. Eby announced that the financial experts will also explore if the casino tried to comply with the anti-money laundering measures or it did not take any actions at all.
It emerged on the surface that in 2016, FINTRAC sent a letter to the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), alarming for River Rock’s weaknesses. FINTRAC’s letter was also swept under the carpet along with the casino report.
British Columbia casinos do not file suspicious money transaction reports directly to FINTRAC, but firstly yo BCLC, which is responsible for informing the national financial watchdog. A flashback to the past recalls that this is not the first time, in which FINTRAC warns BCLC about gaming operations supervised by it. In 2010, BCLC was even slapped $670,000 fine for failing to adequately perform its functions. All these mistakes may have more than a negative impact on the BCLC, as the BC government announced that it will also reconsider the Lottery Corporation’s “financial responsibilities”.
Tightening Anti-Money laundering Measures
British Columbia Lottery Corporation, on the other hand, expressed its commitment to the heavy task to improve its anti-money laundering and close any loopholes in the regime. BCLC has started to move to non-cash options such as bank drafts and electronic fund transfers. Moreover, BCLC added that 276 people from all provincial gaming areas were banned due to suspicious behavior. The recently-elected B.C. government is to appoint an independent expert to explore potential money laundering in Lower Mainland casinos. This is expected to happen in the coming few days, but Garry Smith, a gambling research specialist with the University of Alberta’s Gambling Research Institute, said that there is a conflict of interests between the Canadian governments, as they are allowed to decide their own rules, which may obstruct the British Columbia New Democratic Government from actually tightening the rules.
Trinidad and Tobago’s proposed new budget plan appears to get into gears. Apart from discussing the gambling tax hike, it was also proposed an enhanced nationwide tax collection system, which is to function like a well-oiled machine. Responding to articles and editorials in the Guardian Newspaper regarding the tax collection system, Finance Minister Colm Imbert commented that the current system is not efficient enough and the problems which the government meets in collecting taxes should be publicized as these are of national importance.
Earlier this month, Finance Minister Colm Imbert introduced the government’s budget for 2017-2018, which included a dramatic tax hike on lottery winnings as well as doubling fees and taxes imposed on casino operators. The news scared some casino operators, who announced that they are to shut their gambling venues in case the government does not draw back from the tax increase, while others were protesting in front of the Parliament.
Despite all efforts, which the casino-involved people invested in convincing the government to reconsider its decision, it became clear that the government is not really willing to back off from its position and the tax increase will come into effect from the beginning of the next year. The dramatic increase, though, raised yet another concern regarding the compliance rates among the gambling operators.
Earlier this week, the media agency Guardian Newspaper posted articles and editorials, in which it is claimed that the government should not comment on issues such as the low compliance rate of the casinos regarding the payment of taxes or the upswing of the illicit gambling sector, but simply collect the taxes and to work on weeding out the unlawful gambling practices.
Power of Unity in Trinidad and Tobago’s Tax Collection System
Speaking of the aforementioned claims, Finance Minister Colm Imbert stated that the government is not the only body, which is responsible for the tax collection and solving any problems with it is mutual responsibility. He noted that the government has nothing to do with the enforcement of the law and hence, it is not right to think that the government is the only institution, which needs to look for a solution to the problem of non-compliance in the gambling industry. The Minister explained that the Revenue Authority, which is to be responsible for the tax collection is still in process of formation. In the meanwhile, the government should join forces with the Board of Inland Revenue and the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service to ensure the proper collection of taxes.
As it can be recalled, the Joint Select Committee found out that there are 2,000 bars in Trinidad and Tobago, which feature gaming devices and 5,000 more bars, which are suspected to offer similar gambling devices, without being registered. Mr. Imbert introduced these figures, while the Budget Debate was underway, but the Amusement Gaming Association of Trinidad and Tobago disagreed with the information, claiming that the figures are incorrect. The Minister explained that the figures are more than accurate. Based on the data, it was even estimated that the government loses at least $90 million in tax revenues and the money hole should be eliminated in a timely manner.
In August this year, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (the corporation responsible for the management of commercial gambling in Ontario) selected Great Canadian Gaming and Brookfield Business Partners LP to assume the control over three of its casinos in the Greater Toronto Area. Under the deal, the two companies inked a 22-year long deal that allows them to operate OLG Slots at Woodbine, OLG Slots at Ajax Downs and the Great Blue Heron Casino located in the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.
The two partners are to take over the day-to-day operations of the aforementioned casino properties being tasked with increasing the net from their operations. As it can be recalled, OLG announced a modernization plan in an attempt to spur new investment in the province’s gambling industry. It is interesting to mention that the three gambling venues have a total of more than 4,000 slot machines, 60 table games. In its procurement process, OLG announced that it is looking for an extensive expansion, after which the three gambling venues will have a total of up to 5,000 electronic games and up to 400 gaming tables.
Great Canadian and Brookfield were announced to be equal shareholders, each of them holding 49% stake in the partnership. Clairvest Group Inc. was announced to hold the other 2% in the joint venture. Following the announcement, Great Canadian Gaming’s and Brookfield Business Partners’ market price leaped up.
Many casino proponents supported the project as the expansion was projected to bring broad economic benefits to the local economy. Apart from that, the massive expansion would also mean lower unemployment rate and higher economic activity. Many officials recognized the high correlation between casinos and tourism, hoping that the casino expansion is to attract wealthy foreign visitors.
What Obstructs the Great Canadian-Brookfield Casino Expansion Project
Four months later, the expansion project did not move even a single millimeter forward. The reason for the standstill is that OLG has entered into a Transition and Asset Purchase Agreement with Ontario Gaming GTA LP (OGGLP) for the GTA Gaming Bundle, but the deal is expected to be closed in the beginning of the next year. Once the two parties set out the customary closing conditions, they are to enter a 22-year long Casino Operating and Services Agreement (COSA).
According to the project, the slot-only Woodbine is expected to be turned into a full-fledged entertainment center. Some time ago, Chuck Keeling of Great Canadian Gaming explained that at this stage, the two partners are unable to provide any further details regarding the project, explaining that the project should be firstly discussed with local, provincial, First Nations and third-party stakeholders.
MGM Resorts International, the gambling operator that stays behind Springfield’s casino, is currently seeking to join forces with the U.S. Department of Interior and convince the state officials to back off from their plans to allow the construction of the first tribal Connecticut casino located on a non-tribal plot of land. The move comes only a month after the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes filed a legal suit against the U.S. Department of Interior, claiming that their rights under the third casino gaming amendments are to be violated.
Last month, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations filed a lawsuit to convince Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to approve the two tribes’ gaming agreements with the state of Connecticut and allow the construction of the first off the tribal land casino, planned to be located near East Windsor. As it can be recalled, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a bill that allows the tribal-owned gaming company MMCT to realize its plans and build a third Connecticut casino on a non-tribal land. The lawsuit came shortly after the Department of Interior failed to make a decision and allow the two tribal nations to open their joint venture casino in East Windsor.
MGM Resorts Claims Legal Right to Intervene in the Case
The Department of Interior’s failure to address the issue in a timely manner was just the right thing for MGM Resorts, which was, and still is, opposing the construction of a third casino in Connecticut. The gambling conglomerate MGM unveiled that it is seeking to side with the U.S. Department of Interior and kill the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes’ plan to open a third casino in East Windsor. The construction of a tribal-owned casino on a non-tribal land is to violate the state’s deal with Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun that grants exclusive rights to the two federally recognized tribal nations.
In a court filing Tuesday, the gambling operator announced that the third casino may hit the profitability of MGM’s casino in Springfield, which is currently under construction. Hence, the Las Vegas-based gambling operator should have the legal right to intervene in the legal battle.
The state and the tribes, on the other hand, do not agree with MGM’s intervention in the case, while the Department of Interior still remains silent regarding the issue. The two tribes, which run the Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun Casino on their tribal land pay a 25% fee of their slots revenue to the state in order to preserve their exclusive right over the casino operations in the state. The recently signed casino gaming amendment was said to violate the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), as it supports commercial instead of tribal gambling.
Surrey is to bid farewell to the Newton Community Gaming Centre. The British Lottery Gaming Corporation (BCLC) confirmed that the bingo hall will be closed after 21st April this year. The closure of the Newton Community Gaming Centre is a result of Gateway’s intentions to relocate its gambling property to Delta and transform it into a multi-million casino resort. Some time ago, BCLC has chosen Delta as the preferred host for a new casino south of the Fraser River.
In 2014, BCLC announced that slot machines at Newton Community Gaming Centre will be relocated and since then, the gambling venue is offering only bingo games. Last September, BCLC announced that Gateway Casinos & Entertainment is poised to relocate its gambling venue in Surrey to the Delta Town and Country Inn after the site received preliminary approval.
Following the announcement, Gateway did not waste any time to submit its application to build a casino in South Delta. Gateway’s casino project was subjected to the necessary rezoning and public approval. In an attempt to win the hearts of the locals, the company behind the project outlined the broad economic benefits, which the casino could bring to the city.
Setting the Stage for Gateway’s Casino Proposal
The consultation process has already started with three public information meetings in the books. Quite unsurprisingly, locals had mixed emotions about Gateway’s casino proposal. Pro-casino crowds were excited to hear that the city will soon be the host of a premier casino. Casino opponents, on the other hand, lauded their concerns relating to the negative social costs that may be associated with gambling.
The future of Gateway’s casino proposal still remains blurred. Supposing that Gateway receives the go-ahead to build a full-fledged casino in Delta, the company would own or lease the facility and operate it on BCLC’s behalf. BCLC spokesperson Anjee Gill stated that Gateway’s lease agreement for the location is to expire this year and the company has already taken steps to transfer its employees from the Newton facility to other Gateway properties nearby.
The property is to feature a bountiful selection of gambling options, including slot machines and gaming tables. As for non-gambling activities, the entertainment complex is to feature two restaurants, bars, banquet space, luxurious hotel and others. Delta casino, that would be the relocation of the Newton license, is to boost the city’s local economy and decrease the unemployment rate.
In an interview with the Now-Leader, Newton Business Improvement Association director Philip Aguirre explained that the relocation of Gateway’s gambling venue is to have a negative economic impact on the city and a development strategy should soon be presented by the city officials.
The town of East Windsor in Halford County, Connecticut, is preparing for a public hearing that could potentially scrap the license of a tribal gambling venue in the area, paving the way for a more competitive bidding for the rights to build the first casino off tribal ground in the state.
Last year, Connecticut lawmakers decided to allow the Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan tribes to jointly build the first commercial gambling venue in the East Windsor area. This approval was followed by a proposition on behalf of MGM Resorts International to erect another casino in the town of Bridgeport.
The legislators attempted to push for a more open competition last year but to no avail. Things got heated up after the MGM Resorts International obtained an approval by the authorities of Springfield, Massachusetts to start the construction of a $960 million casino resort complex which is to be located just miles away from Connecticut’s state capital Hartford.
The prospect of another casino being built in such a close proximity aroused concerns that it would take away potential customers from the casinos the tribes operate in south-eastern Connecticut as they would drive to MGM Springfield when the resort opens doors in September 2018. This would lead to Connecticut losing both revenue and job positions associated with the gambling industry.
The two tribes proposed to build a gambling venue jointly in East Windsor which is located outside their reservation land. The main problem here was that federal law allowed tribes to operate gambling establishments only on tribal land, i.e. within the borders of their reservations. Despite that, the tribes were allowed to build the venue as it was expected to give the local economy a boost.
The Provisions of the Bill
The bill that will be the subject to a public hearing next week may scrap the two tribes’ license for building their gambling venue in the town of East Windsor. The purpose of this piece of legislation is to enhance competition as it involves a two-step process consisting of seeking bids and selecting from them.
Preparations for the $300 million tribal casino in East Windsor are already underway as last week the two Connecticut tribes proceeded with the demolition of an old movie theater at the site where their gambling venue is to be located. However, their leaders have confirmed they do not intend to start construction until the issue with the casino expansion is resolved, which is expected to happen either in late spring or in early summer this year.
Meanwhile, the bill has already attracted support from delegations from New Haven and Bridgeport. One of the key provisions of this piece of legislation requires prospective casino licensees to pay a non-refundable licensing fee amounting to $50 million as well as to contribute to the state economy with 25% of gross gambling revenue each year.
The potential licensees would also have to set aside the additional 10% of their gross revenue from slot machines for the funding of educational cost-sharing grants for the area. The bill also calls for the gambling venues to hire at least 2,000 employees from the local community. If the legislation is approved, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection will start accepting the bids by January 2019. The public hearing regarding the bill is to take place on Thursday next week.
The U.S. economy can always use any help it can get, especially when it comes to small communities that are suffering economically. Facing a drop in gambling revenue, states add new games in an attempt to keep their cut of the profits rolling in. Gambling expansion may produce certain pitfalls such as gambling addictions, but cash-strapped states have started to see gambling as a potential source of revenue.
Gambling does not have to take place in a casino at all. In fact, the gambling industry is a multi-channel business, which offers unlimited options. Gambling revenues are usually used to fund socially-beneficial programs. Some states divert a slice of the gambling revenue to help boost horse racing. This Wednesday brought us the intriguing news that a bill to allow slots-like betting machines to the former Colonial Downs racetrack in New Kent County sailed through Virginia Senate.
The legislation, which is also known as House Bill 1609, passed by a margin of 31-9 yesterday and now it is winding its way to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk, waiting for his approval. Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Fauquier commented that the bill aims at saving the horse racing industry, which is currently on its last legs. In fact, the horse industry in the U.S. is generally declining, which results in widening the revenue gap.
The bill was included inside the budget that Gov. Terry McAuliffe submitted before he stepped down from his office. However, the House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights stated that the officials should pay more attention to the bill and discuss it outside the budget. Earlier this month, the majority of the House members voted in favor of the bill, sending it to the Senate for approval.
Other States to Consider Legalization of Slot Machine-Like Betting Terminals
The “historical horse racing” terminals are slot machine-like betting terminals that allow players to place bets on replays of horse races that have already been run. For quite some time, horse racing proponents have pushed hard, without success, to allow historical race terminals at Colonial Downs (a defunct racetrack located 30 miles outside of Richmond). Yesterday, the legislation that seeks to establish “historical horse racing” as a form of horse racing took yet another step forward.
Earlier this year, Casino Reports found out that Idaho received a proposal for a ballot initiative to legalize “historical horse racing”. The Idaho Attorney General’s Office claimed that the legalization of these machines may draw a legal challenge, questioning the constitutionality of the proposal. The Attorney General stated that historical horse racing is legal across the state if it does not include slot machines or any casino gambling electronic equipment. The official pointed out that the “instant” horse racing machines resemble casino gambling electronic equipment, which may open Pandora’s Box.