Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. In our latest edition we take a look at Entain’s continued M&A activity, a government challenge, Swedish performances and huge Las Vegas sales.
Las Vegas Sands is to divest its Las Vegas real property and operations for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $6.25bn, as the organisation focuses on reinvestment in Asia and high growth opportunities in new markets.
The agreement, which includes The Venetian Resort Las Vegas and the Sands Expo and Convention Center, will see an affiliate of funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management acquire the operating assets of the business for $2.25bn.
Real estate investment trust Vici Properties will subsequently pay $4bn for the land and real estate assets associated with the aforementioned facilities.
Simultaneous with the closing of the transaction, the company will enter into a triple-net lease agreement for the Venetian Resort with an affiliate of the Apollo Funds. This will have an initial total annual rent of $250m and an initial term of 30 years, with two ten-year tenant renewal options.
Licensed gaming companies in Sweden scored 2020 revenue of SEK 24.68bn (£2.10bn), representing a 0.4 per cent drop from 2019’s SEK 24.79bn (£2.11bn) as digital offset most of the declines felt by the country’s land-based sector.
According to figures released by the Spelinspektionen, the fourth quarter’s performance of SEK 6.79bn (2019: SEK 6.65bn), represented the year’s best quarterly performance ahead of Q3’s SEK 6.04bn (2019: SEK 5.96bn), Q2’s SEK 5.91bn (2019: SEK 6.11bn) and the first quarter’s SEK 5.94bn (2019: SEK 5.99bn).
The final quarter of the year also saw online betting and gaming and Svenska Spel’s lottery and Vegas slots lines score their best performances of the year, coming in at SEK 4.19bn (2019: SEK 3.65bn) and SEK 1.54bn (2019: SEK 1.73bn), respectively.
Charitable lotteries’ Q4 rose 7.9 per cent to SEK 982m (2019: SEK 910m), with bingo down 24.1 per cent to SEK 44m (2019: SEK 58m), and restaurant casinos closing the period at a 51.5 per cent reduction to SEK 32m (2019: 66m).
Concerns have been raised by campaigners for gambling reform regarding the appointment of John Whittingdale, the minister for media and data, who has been selected as the new lead for the upcoming review of 2005 Gambling Act.
Whittingdale, who voted in favour of allowing fixed-odds betting terminals at motorway service stations and amusement arcades, will be taking over responsibility for the review from the sports minister, Nigel Huddleston, almost three months after it was launched.
In 2014, Whittingdale voted against giving local councils powers to ‘prevent the proliferation’ of fixed odds betting terminals and betting shops while also voting against providing local government with more powers to regulate betting shops and fixed betting terminals.
Bacta has begun a legal challenge regarding the reopening of adult gaming centres in England, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week outlined the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.
This saw April 12 set as the date for betting shops in the country to reopen, with AGCs, bingo halls and casinos scheduled to follow suit on May 17.
Subsequently, Bacta has instructed global legal firm DWF Law to challenge the thinking behind the delayed reopening of AGCs after all other non-essential retail businesses.
The letter, addressed to Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, says that the group “cannot ignore the decision’s discriminatory impact and the long term hit to the AGC industry which would flow from it”.
Noting that events surrounding the pandemic “are of course unprecedented,” it adds that “the government is still required to exercise its decision-making rationally, in a non-discriminatory way and in accordance with legitimate expectations.”
The Betting and Gaming Council welcomed the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s decision to extend the furlough scheme until September, alongside that of business rate relief and the introduction of grants to support hard pressed high street businesses and hospitality venues.
Lauding the decision, the BGC noted that the extension will help support 44,000 people who work in retail betting shops and land-based casinos, which have been closed since the start of the year and therefore unable to generate any revenue.
Furthermore, the group also highlighted that even with partial relaxation of restrictions many retail, leisure and hospitality businesses would have struggled without additional longer-term support from the government.
Flutter Entertainment announced that its Cash4Clubs charity initiative has partnered with Made by Sport to create the 2021 ‘Clubs In Crisis’ campaign fund.
The COVID-19 response effort, which will provide funding for community sports clubs under the management of Made by Sport, has been launched with a donation of £4.79m by Flutter.
Asserting a focus on helping local grassroots clubs who are struggling to survive due to the impact of the pandemic, Flutter comments that, “with schools closed, financial relief dwindling and the pressure on mental health services at an all time high, the social aspect of sport once it is safe to resume has never been more critical”.
The initial donation being made by the group is the amount it benefitted from as a result of business rates relief, which was put in place from March 2020 to March 2021 for its shops in England.
Entain has, via its wholly-owned Bwin Holdings subsidiary, increased the price of its offer to purchase Baltics online gambling group Enlabs, after first making acquisitive moves at the turn of the year.
In January the independent bid committee of Enlabs unanimously resolved to recommend the company’s shareholders to accept the offer of SEK 40 per share, valuing the group at SEK 2.8bn, equivalent to approximately £250m, however a collection of interested parties, representing a ten per cent holding, suggested that the proposal “materially undervalues the company”.
The global sports betting and gaming entertainment firm has now, after previously extended its acceptance period, returned with an increased proposition of SEK 53 per share, which values Enlabs at around SEK 3.7bn, the equivalent to approximately £316m.