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India’s only gaming regulatory body, the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), has appointed former IAS officer Bimal Julka as its new chairman. Julka, who has more than four decades of administrative experience, replaces John Loffhagen in the post.
Meanwhile, India’s only BSE-listed gaming firm Delta Corp has picked up a 45% stake in Waterways Shipyard Pvt. Ltd. for ₹15.5 Crores. Located in Udupi, Karnataka, the shipyard has built more than 60 vessels, including the vessel for Delta Corp’s erstwhile Casino Royale.
In gaming reports from the U.S, Sheldon Adelson-owned Las Vegas Sands is eyeing an exit from the U.S. market. The casino conglomerate has hired a consultant to explore the sale of its U.S. assets that include its Las Vegas properties, the Venetian, the Palazzo, and the Sands Expo Convention Centre. The company is instead looking to increase its focus on Asia and other developing markets.
When Goa casinos have finally come back to life, live tournament poker is simultaneously making a grand comeback to the world’s gambling hub, Las Vegas. The Venetian took the first big move in this direction by launching its DeepStack Extravaganza series on October 26. The action runs through until November 29, and two MSPT Main Events will take place this month.
On the other hand, MGM International has decided to permanently close down the poker rooms of its three Las Vegas properties, namely, the Excalibur, Mandalay Bay, and The Mirage.
In England, all non-essential businesses, including casinos and betting shops, will close down again from November 5, as part of the government’s latest lockdown announcement to check the spread of COVID-19.
Bimal Julka is the New FIFS Chairman
India’s first and only gaming self-regulatory industry body, the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), took on its new name in February this year. In a fresh change of reins, the 2017-established FIFS has appointed Bimal Julka as its new chairman.
Julka, an IAS officer of the MP cadre 1979 batch, was Chief Information Commissioner till September 2020. As he enters the fantasy gaming industry, he will be working with the sector’s requisite stakeholders and looking at ways to strengthen its operating standards.
In his official statement on the appointment, Julka said, “While fantasy sports are seeing unprecedented growth in both users and operators, there arises an equal need to protect the users and promote responsible growth. I am happy to be part of FIFS and look forward to supporting and guiding the fantasy sports industry in achieving its full potential by affirming high standards and self-regulation.”
FIFS CEO Anwar Shirpurwala welcomed Julka onboard – “His (Julka) impeccable reputation and principles of good governance precede him. Having such a senior dignitary, like Julka, representing fantasy sports, will strengthen the industry’s credibility, and we are sure to witness new strides towards reformations and standardization of the rapidly growing fantasy sports industry.”
Julka replaces John Loffhagen, who was chairman of the FIFS for over three years. As Loffhagen steps down, he will continue to serve the gaming body and extend support on relevant future collaborations as a Strategic Advisor to FIFS.
Delta Corp Picks Up Stake in Waterways Shipyard Ltd.
India’s only BSE-listed gaming firm Delta Corp has acquired a 45% stake in Udupi, Karnataka-located Waterways Shipyard Pvt. Ltd., for ₹15.5 Crores. Delta made the acquisition via its subsidiary, Delta Pleasure Cruise Co., and the subscription is expected to be completed by December 31.
The investment is of long-term strategic use for Delta since the latter is involved in building casino vessels. In fact, the firm is a renowned shipyard operator of the country’s western coast. It has built over 60 vessels, including Delta Corp’s Casino Royale vessel.
Delta Corp made the announcement in a BSE filing last Thursday, that read: “Given the significance of marine vessels to the company’s casino business, this investment is expected to bring strategic benefits and a long-term partner to support Delta Group’s vessel building and maintenance requirements.”
Following the announcement, the company’s share price on BSE rose by 1.56% to ₹110.90. The scrip is currently trading at ₹112.40.
Needless to say, this is a strategic investment for Delta Corp. The company has suffered significant losses during the COVID-19 led lockdown that kept its casinos and hospitality venues in Goa and Sikkim closed. While its online poker arm, Adda52, has done considerably well, live gambling revenues for the company should also resume now that the Goa and Sikkim governments have allowed casinos to reopen.
Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Eyeing Exit From the U.S
Sheldon Adelson’s multi-billion casino company, Las Vegas Sands, is reportedly eyeing an exit from the U.S. market. The operator is exploring the sale of its U.S. assets for $6 Billion to increase its focus on developing markets like Asia.
Adelson has hired a consultant for the same and is reportedly eager to sell off its prime Las Vegas properties like the Venetian, the Palazzo, and the Sands Expo Convention Centre.
According to market analysts, the company is looking to bring in fresh resources to increase its presence in Asia and other emerging markets. While the company’s Adjusted Property EBITDA has done well, these funds could likely be used to acquire other casino properties like the Okada Manila in the Philippines, Australia’s Crown Resorts, and the Wynn.
Adelson confirmed this in an investor call, asserting that Asia is the best place for the firm. “If we can find something good in Asia, we’d certainly like to do,” he stated.
Venetian to Host 2 MSPT Main Events $600K GTD in November
Live tournament poker is coming back with a bang to Las Vegas, and the venue of choice for live MTT players visiting Sin City will be the Venetian. The venue has been hosting its popular DeepStack Extravaganza series since October 26. The action will continue through November 29, with at least $1.6 Million in prize money awarded at the series.
Among the major attractions at the series will be the $1,100 buy-in $200K GTD MSPT Main Event that will run from November 13-15, while another $1,600 buy-in $400K GTD MSPT Main Event will take place from November 19-24.
MGM Closes 3 Vegas Poker Rooms
Falling prey to the COVID-19 pandemic, MGM International has decided to shutter the poker room at three of its MGM properties – the Excalibur, Mandalay Bay, and The Mirage – for good.
The poker rooms at these venues were closed since mid-March after the COVID-19 outbreak, but the closure was assumed to be temporary. This news comes as quite a shock since each of these venues did brisk business pre COVID.
Before closing the poker rooms, MGM Grand will be hosting three special freerolls to hand out the leftover jackpot money collected at the poker rooms.
England’s Betting Shops & Casinos to Close in November Lockdown
All the 5,681 betting shops in England will close down on November 5, as per the new lockdown ordered by U.K.’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. The country’s Department for Health and Social Care has supported the move claiming that betting shop customers are more likely to remain in an enclosed space for long, increasing the risk of contracting COVID-19.
Reacting to the news, CEO of Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), Michael Dugher, said the decision was “not remotely about science.”
The BGC has called on the government to guarantee that the casinos and betting stores will be allowed to reopen once the lockdown is withdrawn on December 2.
The BGC also tweeted the same.
BGC chief executive @MichaelDugher: "When we exit this, the Government must have a science-led approach and avoid the arbitrary decisions that led to random closures of casinos and betting shops, which damage employment and revenues to the Exchequer."https://t.co/UtzZD6E6IM
— Betting and Gaming Council (@BetGameCouncil) November 2, 2020
Simultaneously, the BGC has welcomed the extension of the COVID-19 furlough scheme in England and said that the move will help protect land-based gambling sector jobs across the country. The furlough scheme directs employers to avoid permanent lay-offs and extends financial assistance in grants to employers for the same.