Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. Acquisitions by Lady Luck Games and Century Casinos, a Light & Wonder divestment, Crown Resorts disciplinary proceedings and a Swedish market report, all feature as we look back at a selection of last week’s headlines.
Light & Wonder’s business transformation progressed after finalising the previously announced $5.8bn divestment of its lottery business to Brookfield Business Partners.
The company will maintain operations under the Scientific Games name, with Metro Atlanta to continue to serve as global headquarters and the entire executive leadership team to remain in place.
Light & Wonder, which said that the sale marks “a major milestone” and delivers one key aspect of a strategic company review, will use the proceeds to focus on the three priority areas of debt reduction and share buy-backs in a bid to return substantial capital to shareholders.
Furthermore, the company also stipulated that it will maintain a disciplined investment in key growth opportunities, adding that priority will be given to using its capital for buy-backs, debt reduction and organic investments unless convinced that M&A activity will deliver greater long-term value.
The Victorian gambling regulator commenced disciplinary proceedings against Crown Resorts’ Melbourne facility regarding the illegal transfer of funds from China.
Dubbed the ‘China Union Pay process,’ this came in relation to the findings of the state’s royal commission into the casino and entertainment operator, which found that the group had devised the plot in a bid to evade Chinese currency restrictions.
The royal commission report described the process as “the use of the Chinese-based bank card, China Union Pay, to allow international patrons to access funds in order to gamble at Crown Melbourne,” which occurred between 2012 and 2016.
This, it was added, was devised due to restrictions imposed on Chinese nationals transferring money out of the country, with the process initially seeing the issuance of a room charge bill to patrons that falsely asserted that the hotel had provided services.
The UK’s Committee for Advertising Practice introduced hard-line rules for gambling advertisements that will effectively ban imagery that appeals strongly to young people from being used.
This includes ads that feature or reference top-flight football players and other high-profile sportspeople; video game content and gameplay popular with under-18s; celebrities popular with under-18s, such as reality TV stars or social media influencers; and a person or character whose example is likely to be followed by those aged under 18 years or who has a strong appeal to those of that age.
The CAP stated that this introduction forms part of an ongoing commitment to safeguarding young people and vulnerable audiences, and represents a step-change from the existing rules that gambling ads must not be of ‘particular appeal’ to children.
A ‘strong’ appeal test prohibits content (imagery, themes and characters) that has a strong level of appeal to under-18s regardless of how it is viewed by adults.
The new rules say that gambling and lottery ads must not “be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.”
Regulation of the Swedish gaming market has improved the condition for achieving the overarching goals set by parliament, asserted Sweden’s State Treasury, upon delivery of a final report looking at the country’s digital ecosystem.
These ambitions include that the gaming market should be under public control, have strong consumer protection and protect revenue from gaming for associations and the state.
After being tasked to evaluate the effects of re-regulation, with particular regard to channelling and consumer protection, Treasury estimated that “the gaming market will function better in 2021 than in 2018”.
The Swedish market was re-regulated on January 1, 2019, due to an increasing number of the population wagering at black market entities, with the move undertaken in a bid for the state to gain a greater control of the country’s online gambling space.
In what was called “the most important effect of the re-regulation,” Treasury cited a significant increase in the proportion of the Swedish populace that now utilise licenced companies.
Lady Luck Games detailed the “great mutual benefits” to be felt after signing a letter of intent to purchase the ReelNRG gaming studio.
Through the acquisition of the London-based group, which followed past acquisitive moves for Revolver Gaming and the Danish operations of Spigo, Lady Luck will add 46 titles to its network and secure “important” UK and Malta licences.
ReelNRG, which will continue to operate independently, is expected to bring synergies in the form of cross-selling, cost optimisation and the opportunity to share technology and licences in the future.
The transaction, the purchase price of which consists of 2.5 million newly issued shares at a price of SEK 3.3 each, is expected to close at the end of the month, pending the customary documentation process.
Century Casinos finalised the purchase of a 50 per cent ownership interest in Smooth Bourbon from Marnell Gaming for $95m, which formed one part of a wider transaction.
In February 2022, Century detailed a definitive agreement that would see the group purchase 50 per cent of Smooth Bourbon as well as Nevada’s Nugget Casino Resort from Marnell Gaming for $195m.
Furthermore, the casino and entertainment operator would also retain a five-year option to purchase the remaining 50 per cent of the Marnell Gaming subsidiary for $105m, plus two per cent per annum.
Smooth Bourbon owns the land and building underlying the Nugget gaming establishment, and will enter into a lease agreement for $15m of annual rent.
April 27, 2022, was announced as the “milestone date” that Las Vegas’ Palms Casino Resort is to reopen, confirms the San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority.
This is said to represent a “new chapter in Palms history,” with the property having remained shuttered since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
Following the public opening date, which will be accompanied by what is being billed as a fireworks extravaganza, room and suite reservations will be accepted starting April 28.
Relax Gaming, Blueprint Gaming, Habanero and Pragmatic Play lead the way in the race for the CasinoBeats Game Developer Awards 2022, with multiple nominations on the shortlists announced today.
The awards celebrate the success of the game development industry and recognise the contribution of the teams behind the industry’s most creative and innovative titles.
The winners of all 20 categories will be revealed to an audience of igaming industry executives at the lavish Game Developer Awards ceremony at the Hilton in St Julian’s, Malta on Thursday 26 May.