Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. A pair of Australian casino developments, UKGC performance review, financial updates and the New York casino race all feature in our latest review of a selection of last week’s headlines.
The Star Entertainment Group was hit with a record penalty for an Australian operator due to money laundering failures, with the group’s licence also suspended indefinitely.
Effective from October 21, The Star received written notice from the New South Wales Independent Casino Commission and has been told to pay a total penalty of A$100m ($62m, £55m) on a timetable yet to be agreed by the NICC.
The Star Sydney casino will remain open and operating with the NICC appointing Nicolas Weeks as Manager of the property for a period of 90 days, subject to extension by the regulator. Staff at the property will be unaffected by the appointment.
Land-based participation is still lower than pre-pandemic levels in the UK sector, although the year to March 2022 witnessed a three per cent increase, according to Andrew Rhodes, CEO of the UK Gambling Commission.
Addressing the 2022 IAGR Conference in Melbourne in a speech that summarised the Commission’s recent series of enforcement actions, Rhodes also revealed there has been signs of recovery since the pandemic due to in-person gambling participation rate increasing to 26 per cent from 24 per cent in March of last year.
During the global pandemic, online participation witnessed a grand increase and, since the public health restrictions, it remained statistically stable at 26 per cent compared to March 2021 – but Rhodes expressed that it continues its long-term increase.
However, he expressed that, within the UK gambling market, the sector is “not seeing inexorable growth”, with overall gambling engagement stable and not growing as a whole.
Caesars Entertainment and SL Green Realty united to outline a Times Square casino vision as the battle to win one of three licences in the region hots up.
As numerous gaming operators and property developers set their sights on one of the highly sought after certifications, Caesars and the real estate investment trust, which would redevelop 1515 Broadway, promised to deliver “major economic benefits to all Times Square stakeholders”.
The partnership, said the pair, will make “significant investments” in security, traffic, and mass transit improvements, accelerate economic recovery for surrounding businesses and create good-paying union jobs for New Yorkers should its pursuit of a gaming licence prove successful.
The Queensland government detailed the introduction of tougher laws and stricter oversight of casino operators in the latest development to impact the country’s retail gaming establishments.
Shannon Fentiman, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, noted that “the strong reforms” contained in the Casino Control and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 are designed to ensure casinos are operating lawfully and transparently, and take their responsibilities to reduce gambling harm seriously.
This comes after former Court of Appeal Judge Robert Gotterson found Star Entertainment unsuitable to hold a casino licence within the state following a review that examined a broad range of issues and highlighted “major failings and concerns”.
The government instigated review also made a series of recommendations, these include the appointment of a special manager to mirror arrangements in New South Wales, the introduction of an identity linked gambling card in Queensland casinos, implementation of cashless gambling, and the setting of limits for electronic gaming machines.
888 acknowledged awareness of “increased cost of debt” and “impact on industry trading conditions in the UK” as group revenue slipped seven per cent year-on-year through the year’s third quarter to £449m (2021: £484m).
Making the comments in a trading update for the July to September time frame, the group primarily aligned the decline to enhanced UK online player safety measures as well as closure in the Netherlands.
With retail reported as stable YoY at £124m, despite the impact of three days of closure, total online revenue fell ten per cent to £325m (2021: £360m).
Total UK online revenue of £171m represented a drop of 13 per cent YoY driven by a reduction in average spend per player, while the Dutch market accounted for four per cent and six per cent of Q3 2021 for 888 and William Hill, respectively.
Breaking this digital performance down by division, 888 in addition to William’s Hill UK and international online segments all tracked declines of five per cent, 14 per cent and 12 per cent to £148m (2021: £156m), £125m (2021: £145m) and £52m (2021: £59m), respectively.
Playmaker Capital stressed an ambition of evolving from a pure digital sports media business to also capitalise on the igaming affiliate opportunities presented by the North American igaming industry.
To aid with these US and Canadian goals, the company detailed the $31.2m acquisition of Wedge Traffic, which became Playmaker’s first affiliate platform business.
In addition to diversifying revenue generating capabilities and increasing US market exposure, the transaction, said Playmaker, maintains a strategy of acquiring businesses that offer a new core competency to the group’s ecosystem.
It is hoped that Wedge’s technical and affiliation skillset, combined with the Playmaker ecosystem, will “create significant value for online sportsbooks and casino operators that are vying to acquire and retain customers”.
Las Vegas Sands reaffirmed group-wide confidence in Macau despite acknowledging that the current operating environment in the gaming hub “remains difficult”.
However, despite revenue and AEBITDA shortfalls being reported across all five company properties in the region, the relaxation of restrictions in Singapore saw Marina Bay Sands lead LVS to a 17.26 per cent Q3 revenue rise.
This figure increased year-on-year to $1.01bn (2021: $857m), but operating loss stood at $177m (2021: $316m) with net loss at $380m (2021: $594m) at the close of the three month period.
Despite the ongoing struggles in Macau, Robert Goldstein, Chair and Chief Executive Officer, noted in an earnings call that customer demand and spending “have proven resilient at the premium mass level” from a gaming and retail perspective.
A $10,000 fine due to a pair of incidents as well as the placement of eight adults on a state-wide exclusion list was made in the latest round of action by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
The former has the regulator approve a consent agreement that led to a fine of $10,000 for Stadium Casino, operator of Live! Casino Philadelphia, for two incidents that saw individuals gain access to restricted areas of the gaming facility.
Furthermore, the board has took action against eight adults, each of which have been banned from all casinos in the Commonwealth for leaving children unattended in order to gamble.
This came after a total of 16 children, aged between two and 13 years of age, left in unattended vehicles at a range of facilities across the state for between eight and 57 minutes.