Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. In our latest edition we revisit Mohegan’s Q4 financial performance, Uk Gambling Commission warnings, the JKO Play Playtech pursuit, and a Scientific Games purchase.
Persistent regulatory enforcement work regarding a failure to adhere to social responsibility and anti-money laundering rules are “simply unacceptable,” Andrew Rhodes, chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission, stated in the regulator’s ‘Compliance and Enforcement Report’
Despite the year being “one of the busiest” against a backdrop of global disruption, Rhodes explained that while he is “impressed by the amount of enforcement work carried out” it is also “disappointing that it should be necessary”.
During the year, the Commission suspended five operator licenses, as well as revoking those of one operational entity and nine personal management holders.
Furthermore, £32.1m was paid by 15 gambling businesses, including Caesars Entertainment UK, Netbet, and White Hat Gaming, as a result of fines or regulatory settlements, which is a larger total than in any previous year.
However, Rhodes voiced concern at seeing “the same two weaknesses in almost every case,” those being the aforementioned social responsibility and AML, the reasons for which are labelled as “almost as concerning as the failings themselves”.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida’s online sports betting app was temporarily shut down, following the outcome from its emergency motion for stay to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The rejection of the second appeal, following the first ruling from a lower federal court at the end of November, has resulted in the tribe temporarily halting activity on its Hard Rock Sportsbook app.
On the outcome, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia cited that the Seminole Tribe of Florida “has not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay in pending appeal”.
Following the court’s ruling, Hard Rock Sportsbook posted a statement on its twitter account which read: “Due to yesterday’s [Friday] appellate court decision, the Hard Rock Sportsbook mobile app will temporarily suspend accepting new bets and deposits.
“Player information and account funds are safe and secure, and the app will remain online for easy withdrawals via all payment methods.”
“The regulated betting and gaming industry is determined to promote safer gambling,” asserted the industry standards body, after voicing hope that child protection will be front and centre of the forthcoming UK government gambling review white paper.
Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, stated that its members “are not complacent” on the issue of protecting young people, adding that the industry “is determined to promote safer gambling”.
The group added that ongoing work being done by the regulated industry to keep young people safe is in “stark contrast” to that of the black market, which it again emphasises “has none of the safer gambling measures offered” by its members.
The BGC pinpointed 15 measures that have been introduced since 2019, including a £10m Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme; rules to curb children viewing gambling advertisements on football clubs’ official social media accounts; whistle to whistle ban; and age gating rules on advertising on social platforms, restricting the ads to those aged 25 and over for most sites. Further measures are said to be planned for the coming months.
JKO Play was handed a deadline of 5pm on January 5, 2022, to either announce a firm intention to make a takeover bid for Playtech or withdraw from the running to acquire the firm.
It was confirmed last month that the group, led by former Formula 1 team owner Eddie Jordan and ex-Scientific Games executive Keith O’Loughlin, had become a third potential suitor of Playtech, as reports swirled that a £3bn counterbid could be in the pipeline.
However, Aristocrat remains the frontrunner to secure any potential transaction after making its move in October, with an offer that values the company at £2.7bn, or 680 pence per share, a 58 per cent premium on its closing price during the prior week.
If successful in acquiring the company, Aristocrat has voiced an intention of leveraging its new Snaitech division to ‘operate and innovate’ in Europe, whilst also aiming to boost its revenues, expand its customer reach and provide material scale in online gaming.
This latest update saw the UK’s Takeover Panel impose the aforementioned deadline upon JKO Play, which would cease being applicable should a third party announce an intention to enter the bidding fray.
Should JKO indicate that it does not intend to follow up its initial acquisitive interests, the Aristocrat transaction is scheduled to close during the second quarter of 2022.
GambleAware detailed the outcome of its recent grant award process, as the charity aims to take “an important step towards reducing the current inequalities in gambling harms”.
This has seen GambleAware award £300,000, up from £250,000 specified in the original call for proposals, to heighten the knowledge of the lived experiences of minority communities, including minority ethnic, religion, and language groups, in relation to gambling and gambling harms.
Grants have been awarded to a pair of consortia, one led by Ipsos Mori and supported by researchers at the University of Manchester, with a second spearheaded by ClearView Research. Ipsos Mori will lead the overall research.
Objectives to be achieved during the 18-month programme are stipulated as exploring minority communities’ lived experience of gambling, harms, and advice, as well as information, support, and treatment services.
Scientific Games is to provide the AToM cashless tables game solution to operators in an array of global jurisdictions, after the firm finalised the purchase of ACS’ PlayOn.
The renamed AToM product line, which stands for Access To On Demand Money, looks to provide players with a seamless debit solution at live table games by allowing them access funds without having to leave their seats.
In addition, there are no back-end or out-of-network transaction fees charged by the player’s financial institution. To access funds, players simply swipe their debit card and enter their PIN.
The system is currently live on 650 table games at over 20 properties across North America, including venues in California and New Mexico, as well as Nevada’s Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Palace Station Hotel and Casino and Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa. AToM is also approved for use in New Jersey.
Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment lauded the “hard work, dedication and support” of its entire employee network, as the group secured adjusted EBITDA records during the fourth quarter ending September 30, 2021.
Amid the casino operator’s continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, net revenue through the three month period increased 33.1 per cent year-on-year to $391.23m (2020: $294m).
This uptick was aligned to the addition of Mohegan Sun Casino Las Vegas during the current period, combined with the COVID-related closure of MGE Niagara Resorts and state-mandated public health protocols at the company’s other properties during the past year.
Income from operations during the quarter increased 29.5 per cent to $65m (2020: 50.2m), with adjusted EBITDA climbing 33.1 per cent from 2020’s $82.8m to $110.2m, which was aligned to the aforementioned closures.
When compared to the relevant quarter of 2019, net revenue declined 5.5 per cent, however, adjusted EBITDA rose 23.3 per cent driven by reductions in labour and marketing costs.