Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. Today we revisit the latest UK Gambling Commission penalty, Hard Rock detailing its maiden Las Vegas manoeuvre, Crown Resorts voicing ambitions for a Sydney gaming start, and an array of acquisitive moves.
Crown Resorts is anticipating opening the gaming floor of its $2.2bn Crown Sydney Hotel Resort during the early stages of next year, although the group does note that an official date is yet to be confirmed by the regulator.
The company made the announcement in an investor briefing, in which it added a belief that it has made “good progress” with its culture transformation program that is looking to address an array of significant failings previously identified.
Steve McCann, CEO and managing director at Crown, explained:
“We believe we have made good progress in implementing the reforms contained in our remediation plan, including those outlined in the Bergin report, and continue to work constructively with the independent monitor.
“We are in frequent discussion with ILGA, and whilst no official opening date has been confirmed by the regulator, we are currently targeting the gaming floor opening early in the new year.
“Whilst all gaming areas are complete, opening will be on a staged basis given current staffing levels, with further recruitment for gaming related roles required ahead of a full commencement of gaming operations.”
The UK Gambling Commission initiated regulatory action against Buzz Group, which must pay a £780,000 fine after social responsibility and money laundering failures were discovered.
Furthermore, the company, which operates the buzzbingo.com gaming portal, has also received a formal warning for the failures, which the regulator says occurred between October 2019 and December 2020.
Social responsibility failures included financial triggers not sufficiently identifying at-risk players as they were set too high, systems not sufficiently identifying at-risk players, and not carrying out effective customer interactions with customers who gambled aggressively over short periods of time.
Furthermore, the Commission also stated that “once a decision to interact with a customer had been made staff did not always sufficiently follow the requirement of the operator’s own customer interaction procedure to check the customer was comfortable with their gambling levels, if they felt in control, and then discuss responsible gambling tools and support resources”.
MGM Resorts International, in connection with real estate investment trust Vici Properties, rolled-out an agreement to sell the operations of The Mirage Hotel & Casino to Hard Rock International for $1.075bn in cash.
As a result of the acquisition, which is expected to close in the second half of 2022, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, Hard Rock plans to build a guitar-shaped hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.
Prior to 2020, HRI had no previous involvement with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino brand in the Nevadan city.
However, the group purchased the licensing and naming rights for Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas in May 2020, and vowed to utilise it as outlined above when the right opportunity presented itself.
The Swedish gambling regulator, Spelinspektionen, issued Betway with a reprimand and penalty fee of SEK 100,000 for unauthorised bonus offers.
This followed an investigation from the regulator in connection with Betway sending out a marketing campaign on June 10, 2021, with a 200 per cent match bonus which players have allegedly been able to “take advantage of more than once”.
On June 18, 2021, the company notified the Swedish regulator that a marketing incident had occurred. The notification was said to state, among other things, that Betway created a marketing campaign for a 200 per cent match bonus in its back office management system.
Betway argued that the campaign was only intended for distribution to customers who were registered in a smaller trademark, as was handled by the company, but the promotion was incorrectly made available to all of its customers who were registered in the database.
As a result, a total of 53 bonuses were credited to 52 customers during the period of 11am to 2pm on June 10, 2021.
Dr Laila Mintas condemned allegations that she threatened to “burn PlayUp to the ground” as “wrong”, further stating that the accusation “makes no sense”.
This was in response to a temporary restraining order issued by a Nevada court on behalf of PlayUp US, where she was formerly CEO, which saw US district court judge Gloria M Navarro sided with the online gambling firm, with the matter set for a hearing on the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction in a Las Vegas Courtroom on Thursday 16 December, 2021.
Issuing a statement to SBC Americas responding to the media coverage, Mintas stated: “I am a major shareholder in PlayUp as of today and invested seven figures of my own savings into the company. It makes no sense that I would have made any of those comments that are quoted in the filing or tried to destroy a deal to sell PlayUp as I would have benefited from that as well as all other shareholders.
“All the claims mentioned in the fillings are wrong and my lawyers are working on filing shortly my response to those claims to tell the true story based on written evidence.”
Fertitta Entertainment is to pay $33m to Fast Acquisition following the mutual termination of a merger agreement which was first disclosed on February 1, 2021, before being amended a little under five months later.
The former, which is the parent company of Golden Nugget and Landry’s, had previously voiced an expectation of using the proceeds from the transaction to accelerate its growth initiatives, general corporate purposes and reduce existing debt.
The two parties have simultaneously terminated the deal after a settlement was reached regarding the disagreement over the termination date.
The settlement ensures that Fast Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company that is co-headed by Doug Jacob and Sandy Beall, gains $33m through a combination of upfront and deferred payments, part of which is contingent on whether the group ultimately effectuates a business combination transaction.
This includes a payment to the SPAC that it is said will be used to cover expenses associated with the terminated transaction, as well as a replenishment of its working capital account. Fast asserts that it intends to continue to seek a business combination with another operating company.