Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. An array of financial updates, including Star Entertainment and Better Collective; an Australian law update; fresh Prop 27 opposition in California and a further UK Gambling Commission penalty package all feature in our latest headline recap.
Spreadex was hit with a £1.36m penalty from the UK Gambling Commission due to social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures.
Received following an investigation from the UKGC, the operator was said to have financial alerts that were “ineffective” and allowed customers to “lose significant amounts” over a short period of time.
This was said to place an “overreliance” on financial alerts to identify customers at potential risk of experiencing harm and not sufficiently recording and evaluating its customer interaction.
MGM Resorts has received all regulatory, governmental or similar clearances, approvals and decisions as the purchase of LeoVegas nears completion.
The casino and entertainment operators initially disclosed its €575m manoeuvre in early May 2022 with an offer of a 44.1 per cent premium on the group’s closing price of SEK 42.32.
At the time, the prospective purchase was praised as “a unique opportunity for the company to create a scaled global online gaming business,” with MGM previously detailing a plan to execute on an expanded online gaming presence in Europe.
The Victoria Gambling and Casino Control Commission reminded gambling incumbents of a series of changes to the state’s laws that are due to come into effect from September 1, 2022.
A slew of changes will be introduced from this week, including how locals can claim prizes and receive payouts, as well as “important information” for gaming venues, bingo and raffle operators in addition to community and charity organisations.
This follows a June 23, 2022, decision that saw the Victorian Parliament pass the Gambling and Liquor Legislation Amendment Act 2022, which changes various pieces of legislation, including the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 and the Casino Control Act 1991.
Among the changes coming into force include 24 hour clearance of electronic gaming machine winnings of $2,000 or more paid via electronic funds transfer, as well as a minor gaming permit only being required to conduct a raffle where the prize is above A$20,000
Fresh offences for conducting bingo, fundraising events and lucky envelopes online will also be introduced, which means a person cannot sell lucky envelopes, conduct bingo or sell such tickets via a website or any other online platform or interface, with exceptions including those sold via programmable electronic ticket machines at bingo centres.
California’s Republican Party (CAGOP) joined its Democrat rival in opposing Proposition 27 as the sports wagering legalisation race in the Golden State heated up further still.
This came as the CAGOP announced its position on seven initiatives that are set to go before voters in November, in a move which echoes the sports betting stance taken by the Democrats at its executive board meeting in July.
Prop 27, backed to the tune of $100m from Bally’s Interactive, BetMGM, DraftKings, Fanatics, FanDuel, Penn National Gaming, and WynnBET, would permit an expansion of online and mobile gambling.
Furthermore, 85 per cent of tax revenues would go to homelessness and mental health programs in the state. The tax rate would be set at 10 per cent, with licensing fees costing $100m per operator.
However, CAGOP also detailed opposition to Prop 26, which would permit in-person sports wagering at 66 tribal gaming properties as well as four horse racing tracks as well as allow additional gambling, such as roulette, at tribal gaming venues. The Democrats had previously gone neutral on this.
Land-based experienced a revival across the Netherlands as Holland Casino reported a post-COVID recovery to its 14 branches.
Publishing its interim report for H1 2022, revenue from January to June totalled €353.4m, with 23.4 per cent (€82.8m) of this stemming from its Holland Casino Online division.
Moreover, the company’s EBITDA was €40m, with profit before tax at €8.2m. However, the company noted that this performance was due to the easing of pandemic restrictions, which were in place during January and February earlier this year.
A “disrupted period” to the 12 months ending June 30, 2022, represents “a line in the sand” and “the end of old Tabcorp,” emphasised Managing Director and CEO, Adam Rytenskild, in an FY breakdown.
Amid a “disrupted year” due to COVID enforced lockdowns, Rytenskild asserted that “we have a clear strategy and a focused ambition to grow” as the group reports a 4.3 per cent revenue drop to A$2.37bn (2021: $2.47bn).
Furthermore, Tabcorp, which is in negotiations to offload gaming systems firm eBET to a preferred bidder following a strategic review, saw net profit after tax drop to $6.77m (2021: $269m) as EBITDA fell 22.3 per cent to $360.6m (2021: $464.2m).
In addition to labelling digital market share as the “hero metric for everyone,” Rytenskild noted that “I’m determined for us to be different and to be totally obsessed with creating products and experiences that Australia loves.”
Investigators in Michigan have seized yet more gambling devices and cash in a further series of raids after receiving “several anonymous tips” regarding the alleged storefront casinos.
Undertaken on Thursday 18 August, this saw 11 video slot machines and 56 computers, that were reportedly used for illegal gambling, confiscated, as well as $10,141 in suspected proceeds and gift cards on a pair of locations in the city of Flint.
One location, The Cellular Vault, contained 39 computers used to play slot-style games, and Cellular Bank housed 11 standalone slot machines similar to those seen in a commercial casino and 13 computers used to play slot-style games.
A second, Cellular Bank, also provided patrons a card with a PIN, allowing them to wager online from offsite locations such as their residences.
Better Collective expects to “remain active” in the M&A space with a “strong” list of targets the focus for a group that is anticipating “all time high activities” through H2 following a solid second quarter.
This saw revenue grow 40 per cent during the April to June time frame to close at €56m (2021: €40m), which was delivered despite “an exceptional” quarter one year earlier and low seasonality.
The publishing division grew 46 per cent to €38.12m (2021: €26m), while paid media jumped 28 per cent in Q2 to €17.91m (2021: €13.95m).
On a geographical basis, Better Collective’s Europe and the Rest of the World segment, buoyed by Latin American operations, grew 30 per cent to €42.87m (2021: €33m), with the US surging 90 per cent to €13.17m (2021: €6.95m).
Star Entertainment Group cited “COVID-19 related disruptions and regulatory reviews” as presenting “significant challenges” during the past year, with confidence reaffirmed once more regarding the group’s ongoing renewal program.
The embattling casino firm, which is facing a number of probes including investigations into its suitability to hold a licence in New South Wales and Queensland, saw net loss during the 12 months to June 30, 2021, plummet to A$199.6m from a profit of $57.9m one year earlier.
Property shutdowns in response to the pandemic, as well as operating restrictions, border closures and regulatory reviews were reported as having a material impact on earnings.
The company also reports $168m in one off expenses, up from $51.5m year-on-year, which included a $162.5m Star Sydney goodwill impairment, regulatory charges, and underpaid casino duty among others.