4 Minutes Read
The cricket season is in full swing bringing fantasy sports platforms back in business. We`ve seen a flurry of celebrity endorsements this month, with fantasy sports operator Howzat becoming the latest platform to jump on the celebrity endorsement bandwagon. The startup has roped in three famous cricketers: the former Sri Lankan team captain Kumar Sangakkara, Keiron Pollard, and Irfan Pathan as its brand ambassadors.
In international updates, global sports betting giant William Hill has confirmed that both Caesars Entertainment and Apollo Management have offered to buy it out.
In the latest updates from the gambling hub, Las Vegas, the Circa Resort Casino has been granted a license by the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) and will begin operations on October 28. The casino will be running the world’s biggest sportsbook under Circa Sports.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) from handing out fines. According to official filings, the Board has levied $435K in penalties to six Vegas casino properties for various violations. Topping this list is Freemont Casino that has been slapped with a $300K fine for an incident involving the casino staff wrongly detaining a woman for alleged theft.
It looks like all is not merry in the UK, where the gambling industry is vehemently opposing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of a 10 PM curfew on pubs, restaurants, and other venues, including casinos. Thousands of casino employees stand to lose their jobs because of these changes, and PM Johnson is reportedly going to review the country’s Gambling Law.
Howzat Appoints Kumar Sangakkara, Keiron Pollard & Irfan Pathan as Brand Ambassadors
With the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 unleashing cricket frenzy across the nation, it is business time for fantasy sports sites. Howzat is the latest in the country’s gaming sector to onboard popular cricketing icons for endorsing its offerings. The fantasy sports platform has signed up three iconic cricketers, Kumar Sangakkara, Keiron Pollard, and Irfan Pathan, as its brand ambassadors.
This news comes just 10 days after Paytm First Games signed on cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar as the brand’s new face.
Howzat has flagged its association with the three cricketing icons by integrating them in the ‘Play with Legends’ feature on the app. As part of this, Sangakkara, Pollard, and Pathan will make their own teams on the site, and players can directly compete with these teams.
The Head of Growth and Revenue at Junglee Games, Aman Sajita, expressing delight at the new collaboration explained the concept – “This innovative feature of playing with the legends adds a new dimension to fantasy sports. We are sure that in this coming Cricket season, the fantasy sports enthusiasts will be excited about this opportunity to challenge and compete with the legends they have followed over the years.”
A Big Move for Howzat
Howzat claims to be India’s most trusted fantasy sports app, and this brand association with Sangakkara, Pollard, and Pathan comes at a time when the brand has big expansion plans up its sleeves. All three cricketers will be seen across Howzat’s social media campaigns and advertisements, in addition to participating in the ‘Play with Legends’ feature on the site.
Talking about the collaboration, Pathan commented, “Very excited to team up with Howzat.com. I have always tried to connect with my fans since the time I started playing. Now after retirement, this gives me a chance to stay connected with them and also bring a sense of competition and excitement that the game of fantasy cricket offers. This platform gives a chance for everyone to showcase their skills and become a champion. This much-awaited cricket season is the perfect time for the fans and me to play together, and this innovative feature of Howzat.com to “Play with Legends” makes that possible.”
Sangakkara, the former Sri Lanka team captain, added – “The app is fun and a great test of your tactical skills and cricketing knowledge. I am really excited to be partnering with the Howzat team and engaging with fans as part of their “Play with Legends” feature. I might have retired from playing, but I remain deeply passionate about the game and look forward to the challenge of playing directly with millions of cricket fans.”
Gaming Brands Rope in Big Names
Many popular cricket figures have joined hands with fantasy sports brands to promote their offerings. Former Indian national team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been representing Dream11 since 2018. Virat Kohli, the Indian national team skipper, is the brand ambassador for Mobile Premier League (MPL) since March 2019. Gautam Gambhir has been associated with CricPlay, and BCCI’s reigning president Sourav Ganguly represents My11Circle.
Joining this accomplished lineup of cricketing legends earlier this month was ace cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle who not only invested in fantasy sports portal Fantasy Akhada but will also be endorsing the brand for two years. Another site, Playerzspot, onboarded cricketers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Smriti Mandhana as brand ambassadors this month.
Caesars, Apollo Offer to Acquire William Hill
There’s the possibility of a change in ownership in sports betting behemoth, William Hill, happening sometime soon as both Caesars Entertainment and Apollo Management have offered to buy out the gambling giant. The proposals come in the wake of an increased push for online gambling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, the board of directors of William Hill confirmed that the company has been approached by both these firms in recent months. While Apollo is reported to have made a written cash offer on August 27, Caesars has forwarded several proposals to the company.
The board stated – “Discussions between William Hill and the respective parties are ongoing. There can be no certainty that any offer for William Hill will be made, nor as to the terms on which any offer might be made.”
The board also added that both companies have until October 23 to clarify whether they intend to make a formal acquisition offer.
Sports betting is one of the top-performing gaming verticals in the U.S. right now. Caesars already has an existing business equation with William Hill, and after the Eldorado- Caesars merger, it owns a portion of the latter’s U.S. arm acquired by Eldorado.
A potential tie-up between Caesars and William Hill would immediately catapult the latter into the top tier of the country’s online gambling sector. For Caesars, it would help drive more business to its live casinos located across the country.
The news sent shares of William Hill spiraling up 40% on Friday, bringing the company’s valuation above $4 Billion, according to data provided by Yahoo Finance.
Circa Now Licensed in Nevada, Will Run World’s Largest Sportsbook
The Circa Resort Casino has been granted the license to operate by the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) and will be commencing operations on October 28. The property has already started taking reservations for what promises to be the world’s largest sportsbook operations.
The two-storeyed casino is the first in 40 years to be built from the ground up and is located in Downtown Vegas. The NGC has already approved the casino for licensing on September 9. On September 24, the Commission took a vote on the same, and the licensing was approved unanimously.
Gaming Commissioner Deborah J. Fuetsch said that the casino would boost the city’s casino sector, “Something new and exciting is what we need down in Las Vegas.”
Incidentally, Circa that will have 1,350 slot machines and 49 table games on the casino floor will also run the world’s largest sportsbook under the brand name of Circa Sports – capable of hosting up to 1,000 spectators.
Casino owner Derek Stevens, who also owns the Golden Gates and the D Las Vegas, said, “Circa is about moments, and we’re going to create moments.”
Stevens predicted, “From the atmosphere to offerings, Circa Sports will meet and exceed those expectations by giving guests the best and most exciting sportsbook they’ve ever stepped foot in.”
Nevada Casinos Fined $435K For Multiple Violations
Only yesterday, we had reported on the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) filing a formal complaint against the Freemont Casino in Las Vegas for illegal detention of a woman on the grounds of suspected theft. According to the latest updates, the board has stamped a $435,000 fine on Freemont Casino and five other casinos for different violations.
The Freemont Casino has been handed out the most massive fine of $300,000 for the unreasonable manner in which its security staff treated the woman.
Meanwhile, the Meruelo Group that operates the Sahara on the strip and Grand Sierra Resort in Reno has been fined $75,000 for various COVID-19 violations on these two properties.
The other casino properties that have fined include the Cod Casino and Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall in Ely.
The move comes as part of NGCB’s drive to ensure casino properties adhere to norms.
In July, on Governor Steve Sisolak’s directives, the Board initiated investigations into 111 cases of health and safety protocol violations by casinos.
UK PM Boris Johnson Likely to Review Gambling Law, Gambling Industry Opposes New Curfew
The announcement by UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose a new, 10 PM curfew on pubs, restaurants, and venues, including casinos, has not gone well with the country’s gambling sector. Even as the gambling majors have vehemently opposed this new order, the latest updates indicate that PM Johnson and his chief adviser Dominic Cummings will be conducting a review of the country’s Gambling Law.
CEO of the UK Betting and Gaming Council, Michael Dugher, has reacted strongly to the curfew announcement. “The 10 pm curfew will slash casino incomes by up to 75 per cent and likely lead to half their workforce – some 7,000 people – being made redundant” and that the government “may well have signaled the death knell for the casino industry,” he said.
He warned that without immediate and substantial financial help from the government, perfectly viable casinos will “simply go the wall.”
The Guardian has in the meantime, quoted well-placed sources claiming that PM Johnson and his closest advisers were reviewing the UK Gambling Law.
The newspaper stated – “The PM just sees it as people being exploited and it’s not him.”
On the other hand, Lord Foster of Bath, who is Chairman of the recently set-up House of Lords group, ‘Peers for Gambling Reform, said, “Given that we have a third of a million problem gamblers, including 55,000 children, and one gambling-related suicide every day, action is urgently needed.”