Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. This latest edition features a potential upturn in fortunes for Crown Resorts, UK Gambling Commission action, Las Vegas sales, and M&A activity.
BV Gaming, trading as BetVictor, paid a total of £2m, after an investigation undertaken by the UK Gambling Commission found fairness, social responsibility, and money laundering failures.
This was conducted after a compliance assessment of the business was undertaken in March 2020, with the subsequent examination discovering regulatory failings regarding an array of licence conditions and code of practice.
BV Gaming, which runs the BetVictor, Heart Bingo, and Parimatch entities, was found to have failings surrounding the implementation of AML policies, procedures and controls.
This, the regulator disclosed, included not adequately including risk factors such as high spenders or consumers using multiple gambling accounts or wallets, as well as drawing on a risk assessment “that lacked detail considering the large size of the business”.
It is added the group failed to comply with the social responsibility code provision, with deficiencies said to have been found in its responsible gambling policies, procedures, controls and practices, including weaknesses in implementation.
Las Vegas Sands finalised the $6.25bn divestment of The Venetian Resort Las Vegas and the Sands Expo and Convention Center to affiliates of Apollo Global Management and Vici Properties.
The transaction, initially detailed in March 2021, saw an affiliate of funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management acquire the operations of venues for $2.25bn, with Vici gaining all land and real estate assets for $4bn.
Following the sale, LVS voiced great belief in the future potential of the facilities as well as the Las Vegas area in general, emphasising that its importance to international leisure and tourism “will only grow in the future”. The company will also maintain its corporate headquarters in the city.
The immediate focus turned to the Asian market, where LVS said that a “long-term” commitment includes a $1bn reinvestment at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and the completion of the $2.2bn renovation of The Londoner in Macau.
Malta-based igaming affiliate KaFe Rocks was acquired by Glitnor Group for an undisclosed sum.
The acquisition of KaFe Rocks, Glitnor said, will be a key factor in the long-term growth of the business and accelerate its move into the lead generation space.
As a result of the takeover, KaFe Rocks Co-Founder Feda Mecan will join the Glitnor board of directors, while CEO Simon Pilkington will join Glitnor’s executive management team. Meanwhile the day-to-day management of KaFe Rocks will continue in its current format.
Over the last few years, KaFe Rocks has cemented its position as a leading igaming affiliate, with multiple power affiliate top 10 rankings.
Aristocrat Leisure asserted that it will learn the lessons from its ultimately doomed £2.7bn Playtech pursuit, with the group eyeing a scaled position across real-money gaming in the medium-term.
Speaking at the group’s annual general meeting, Neil Chatfield, Aristocrat chair, stated that the group is “very focused on alternative pathways” to achieving its much detailed global ambitions, including the US online gambling gold rush.
After shareholders of Playtech voted down the Australia-listed gaming manufacturer’s overtures earlier in the month, Chatfield assured that the company’s growth strategy will remain unaltered as a result of the outcome.
In addition to voicing a goal of accelerating momentum across all core business segments, he stated: “As an organisation we will certainly take forward many benefits from the experience, as we become more ambitious in our growth investments consistent with our increasing scale and capability.”
The Crown property swung open its doors for the first time towards the end of 2020, however, gambling operations were suspended after an Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority investigation, led by former supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin, deemed the company unfit to introduce the tower’s gaming floor.
A spokesperson from the ILGA released the following statement to 7News: “It is anticipated that the Authority may permit Crown to commence gaming on a conditional basis in the next few weeks.
“While the Authority has not changed its assessment that Crown is unsuitable to hold a restricted gaming licence until it has addressed the significant issues arising from the Bergin Inquiry, commencement of gaming on a conditional basis will contribute to assisting the Authority to assess Crown’s progress towards suitability.
“At this time, it is not possible to advise when a final determination regarding suitability will be made.”
Novibet surrendered its UK licence with immediate effect, after the betting and gaming firm officially informed customers that it would no longer be operational within the region.
The group entered the jurisdiction with licenses for real event betting and igaming, which includes poker, roulette, blackjack and other casino games, on November 1, 2014.
Subsequently, a remote gambling software licence and virtual event betting permits were added 2015 and 2017, respectively, before the ability to provide bingo games to customers via a website, apps, mobile, interactive TV or radio, was gained last year.
In an update posted on the Novibet website, the online casino and sports betting operator notified: “We would like to inform you that Novibet will not continue to operate in the UK from 21.02.2022. If you already have funds in your game account, please kindly withdraw them.
Churchill Downs Incorporated disclosed its intention to withdraw from the B2C online sports betting and gaming space over the course of the next six months.
The operator stated that the decision was made as it does not see a path that the business model delivers predictable and acceptable margins “for at least several years”.
This comes as the group reflects that it “had high hopes for the potential to build a profitable business in the space” upon the overturning of PASPA in 2018.
“We are always committed to building long-term value for our shareholders and consistent with this commitment when we see that an investment is not progressing as we had planned, we will redeploy the resources and capital to other growth projects or return the capital to our shareholders,” William Carstanjen, CDI CEO and Director, explained in an earnings call.
“We have proven with our past decisions that we are willing to walk away from businesses where we do not see a secure enough path to consistent profitable growth with an acceptable return for our shareholders.
Caesars Entertainment has maintained its Las Vegas divestment ambitions, the process for which was launched in early 2022, as the operator voices further optimism regarding the North American digital space.
The casino and entertainment operator asserted that “you should expect that that remains the case” regarding a Vegas strip asset sale, adding that “the next time we talk to you” regarding such a move “will be to announce that sale”.
Funds gathered from the expected disposal will be utilised to scale digital investments, as well as drive an array of development projects in a bid “to generate significant returns in the business.”