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Gaming Report: Goa Casinos to Remain Closed, Caesars Entertainment Acquires William Hill For $3.7 Billion & More

Gaming Report
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  • Namita Ghosh October 5, 2020
  • 4 Minutes Read

As the country readies up for another phased reopening as part of Unlock 5.0, the offshore casinos in Goa will continue to remain closed. According to the Union Government’s guidelines, most activities in Goa will reopen, with limits placed on the number of people allowed in events and establishments. However, the state government has decided to keep the casinos closed for now, without any clear decision or timeline on the expected reopening.

In other developments, US casino behemoth Caesars Entertainment has acquired the London-based sports betting major, William Hill, for $3.7 Billion (£2.9 Billion) with the regulatory and shareholder approvals required to complete the transaction expected to be done by the second half of 2021.

The US state of Michigan had approved online poker back in December 2019. The state senate has now unanimously passed legislation that will open up the state to interstate poker liquidity sharing.

In what brings closure to a three-year-old tragedy, a Nevada Court has ordered MGM Resorts International and its insurers to pay $800 Million in settlement to more than 4,000 people and their families affected by a shooting incident in the Las Vegas strip in 2017.


Goa Casinos Asked to Remain Closed

It’s been over six months that casinos in Goa have been closed for business. Just when the sector was optimistic of reprieve as part of Unlock 5.0, the Goa government confirmed that no decision has been taken on the reopening of casinos, yet.

The move comes within 10 days of the state government granting another six-month extension to casinos to operate on River Mandovi.

On Thursday, Goa’s Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said even though the casino operators have sought resumption of operations, the government has not taken a final stand on the matter. “It will take some time to allow casino operations in the state,” Sawant said.

This essentially means that the casinos will continue to remain shut, facing mounting losses.


Goa Casinos – Affected Since Mid-March

Goa’s casino industry has been facing tough times since late March when the state government ordered casinos and other commercial establishments to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Goa had till June only 100 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases. The casino operators had appealed to the government than for commencing operations, but the government put its foot down, refusing to let casinos open.

The offshore casino operators have not only been left high and dry on the business front, but there has been a lot of hue and cry surrounding them in the political circles as well.

What came as a shot in the industry’s arm was the clean chit by the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) appointed audit firm that confirmed that the offshore casinos are not polluting the River Mandovi.

Not much later, the Panaji Mayor Uday Madkaikar affirmed the Corporation of City of Panaji (CCP) stand of not renewing offshore casinos’ trade licenses from next year.


Goa’s COVID Graph

There have been 34,900 active cases reported in Goa, of which 450 people have lost their lives. According to the latest reports, the spread of COVID infections has stabilized in Margao, Vasco, and Cortalim. Simultaneously, parts of North Goa like Panaji, Sakhali, and Porvorim continue to report a rising graph of cases.

CM Sawant is expected to hold a review meeting to take a final call on the reopening of theatres; it seems that for now, the reopening of casinos will remain on the backburner.


Caesars Entertainment Acquires William Hill For $3.7 Billion

Another mega-deal has been inked with US casino and gaming giant Caesars Entertainment acquiring UK-based sports betting giant William Hill. While both Caesars and Apollo Management had approached the company showing interest to take over, it was confirmed on Wednesday that the former is acquiring William Hill for $3.7 Billion (£2.9 Billion).

As part of the deal, Caesars’s UK subsidiary Caesars Bidco will acquire the entire issued capital of William Hill at 272p in cash for each share. However, the takeover is subject to approval from the operator’s shareholders, and the required regulatory approval is expected to be completed by the second half of 2021.

Commenting on this acquisition, Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg said, “The opportunity to combine our land-based-casinos, sports betting and online gaming in the US is a truly exciting prospect. William Hill’s sports betting expertise will complement Caesars’ current offering, enabling the combined group to serve our customers in the fast-growing US sports betting and online market. We look forward to working with William Hill to support future growth in the US by providing our customers with a superior and comprehensive experience across all areas of gaming, sports betting, and entertainment.”

William Hill chairman Roger Devlin added, “The William Hill Board believes this is the best option for William Hill at an attractive price for shareholders. In terms of our UK and International businesses, we believe they have a strong future ahead, and we will work with Caesars to find suitable partners to further the long-term growth prospects of these businesses.”

This is the third major acquisition in the gaming sector in the past year after the Flutter Entertainment – The Stars Group (TSG) merger and Eldorado Resorts- Caesars merger.

With William Hill now in the fold of Caesars, the company is clearly trying to consolidate its dominant position in the US.


Michigan Senate Passes Interstate Online Poker Bill

The US state of Michigan took a significant step forward for online poker after the state senate passed a bill that will pave the way for interstate liquidity sharing.

Senate Bill 0991 was introduced by Senator Custis Hertel Jr. in June and permits the state residents to compete against players in other regulated US states. It was passed by the Senate by an overwhelming 389-36 margin of votes last Wednesday.

Reacting to the development, Senator Hertel Jr said, “I think the bill is a common-sense thing all agreed to and it should move on. I don’t think there’s any controversy. How fast, I don’t know. I don’t think it will be before the [November 3] election. Probably right after.”

Now that the bill is approved, the underlying rules need to get the green signal. If passed into law, this legislation will serve as an amendment to the Michigan Lawful Internet Gaming Act, signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in December last year, legalizing online poker in the state.

The SB 0991 allows Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) to work with other jurisdictions for conducting interstate games. The bill states – “The board may enter into agreements with other jurisdictions, including Indian tribes, to facilitate, administer, and regulate multijurisdictional internet gaming for poker.”


Nevada Court Rules Las Vegas Shooting Victims be Paid $800M in Settlement by MGM Resorts & Insurers

A Nevada court has directed MGM Resorts International and its insurers to pay an $800 Million settlement to the 2017 Las Vegas strip shooting incident victims and their relatives. While MGM Resorts will have to pay $49 Million, the company’s insurance will have to bear the remaining $751 Million burden, according to the court order.

The case dates back to October 1, 2017, when a man opened fire from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay at people attending the open-air Router 91 Harvest music festival. While 58 people were killed, more than 850 others were injured.

Several lawsuits were filed after this tragic incident, and the recent directive will ensure that more than 4,400 victims and relatives of those hurt in the shooting will be compensated.

In her statement, Chief Judge Linda Bell of the Clark County District Court said that the settlement was “painstakingly negotiated at arm’s length for months with the expert assistance of experienced mediators” and “provides a very substantial fund for the settlement of personal injury claims.”

In their official statement, MGM Resorts reacted – “We are grateful that the decision brings families, victims, and the community closer to closure. It is especially meaningful that the decision comes one day before the third anniversary of the incident, a time of great sadness and reflection.”

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