Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. A long mooted AskGamblers sale was completed by Catena Media, fresh development in Australia affected a number of casinos, the UKGC triumphed in a Rank Group appeal against a £5.85m penalty and also issued an apology for a now deleted tweet, in our latest round-up of a selection of last week’s headlines.
Catena Media completed the long-mooted sale of the AskGamblers brand to Gaming Innovation Group for €45m, with a maintained business streamlining remaining a focus for the former.
The transaction, which followed the commencement of an ongoing strategic business review earlier in the year, saw Catena offload a pair of wholly owned subsidiaries in Malta and Serbia that operate the AskGamblers brand and associated online casino entities JohnSlots and NewCasinos.
The purchase price is to be paid in cash in three tranches, with €20m to be paid on closing, €10m 12 months from that date and the remaining €15m 24 months on.
Rank Group failed in an appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal after the group’s Daub Alderney subsidiary was fined £5.85m in September 2021 for social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures.
An appeal was issued by Daub Alderney, the licensed arm of the Stride Gaming business that Rank acquired in October 2019, on the grounds that the financial penalty was excessive, unfair and disproportionate.
At the time of the punishment being handed down, the regulator was adamant that gambling operators will face the full consequences of regulatory failures, even if breaches occurred prior to ownership, which was partly the case in this instance.
This was questioned by Rank amid a belief that there were both equity and public policy issues raised by this outcome, with the appeal subsequently sought.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission launched civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court against 11 current and former directors and officers of The Star Entertainment Group.
This stems from an alleged breach of duties under section 180 of the Corporations Act, and becomes the latest fallout from a slew of governance failures being identified by royal commissions in New South Wales and Queensland.
Sarah Court, ASIC Deputy Chair, said: “ASIC alleges that Star’s board and executives failed to give sufficient focus to the risk of money laundering and criminal associations, which are inherent in the operation of a large casino with an international customer base.”
ASIC’s case includes claims against members of the Star board between 2017 to 2019, which includes former Chair John O’Neill and ex-Managing Director and CEO Matthias Bekier.
Current Chair Ben Heap and Katie Lahey, Non-Executive Director, are the only current directors subject to these proceedings. The pair are to step down once additional directors are appointed, and appropriate transition arrangements are in place. This process is expected to be finalised in the early part of 2023.
A report conducted by EY for the Betting and Gaming Council alleged that compulsory affordability checks pose a threat to the regulated betting and gaming industry.
The study suggested that the enforcement of tougher affordability checks has contributed to reduced revenues, supporting recent polling that found 70 per cent of bettors would be unwilling to allow regulated operators to conduct said checks to prove they can afford to wager.
EY’s published research noted that the online GGY for the industry has decreased since mid-2021, stating the re-opening of land-based venues, affordability checks and the decline in household income as potential causes behind this downturn.
PlayStar received an eight-figure equity investment from Meyer Global Management to aid in its future growth and continue its ongoing US expansion plans.
Catching the eye of MGM, the tech-focused investment firm has put its weight behind PlayStar by investing $15m to fuel the firm’s growth plans. PlayStar is currently looking to expand its operations and will use the investment to support its launch in Pennsylvania next year.
The UK Gambling Commission apologised for a now deleted tweet that incorporated a GIF that had been criticised as inappropriate.
Posted on Twitter on Friday 9 December, ahead of England’s World Cup game against France, the tweet, which directed viewers to its online register, advocated bettors placing wagers on the World Cup with licensed companies to “protect” themselves.
However, the UKGC made the decision to include a GIF with children wearing national team facepaint prominently featured, and the tweet was subsequently viewed over 20,000 times.
Baden Resources and NorthStar Gaming are continuing to work on regulatory approvals as the pair disclose amended terms of the proposed reverse-takeover transaction.
This saw the pair announce that they have extended the outside date of completion for the proposed business combination to January 30, 2023, following a shareholder meeting being held by Baden.
In November 23, 2022, Baden, a mineral exploration company focused on the acquisition, exploration and development of such properties in Canada and the USA, held an annual and special shareholders’ meeting at which all resolutions, including those necessary to complete the proposed transaction, were approved.
Since the initial announcement of the transaction, NorthStar, which owns and operates the NorthStar Bets online casino and sportsbook gaming platform, has raised an aggregate of $10.07m in anticipation of completion. The group has also vowed to continue in its efforts to raise additional funds.
The two parties continue to work towards satisfying all conditions of closing of the combination, including obtaining all stock exchange and regulatory approvals, and anticipate closing in January 2023.
Queensland regulators took action against further casino operators in the state after a months-long investigation that followed another exposé by the country’s media entities.
As reported by an array of outlets, those venues in question are Townsville’s Vile Casino as well as the The Cairns Reef Hotel Casino, which were accused of using unapproved junkets.
This came after Queensland’s Office of Liquor and Gaming regulators launched an investigation earlier this year following reporting by The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and 60 Minutes. This is the same trio that uncovered the initial, then perceived, failings by Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment that have been much discussed.
The Cordish Companies unveiled additional details of a $1.4bn transformative mixed-use development in Petersburg, Virginia, after being selected by the city on a unanimous basis in October.
The company vowed to construct “a world-class entertainment destination” that will deliver billions of dollars in economic benefits and create thousands of new jobs and benefits to the local community in a bid to become “a major new tourist destination for the city”.
It was said that the destination, which will be developed in phases, will feature more than 670,000 square feet of gaming, hotel, dining and entertainment space; 200-room hotel; over 2,000 slots and electronic table games and 60 live action table games including poker; sportsbook, event centre, a dozen food and beverage outlets and free parking surface.