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In our PokerGuru Gaming Report this week, we bring you five important updates from the poker and gaming industry. In our first report, we start with the news of US gaming firm Paddy Power Betfair acquiring FanDuel, a daily fantasy sports site for pushing further into the US sports betting industry.
We then move to Las Vegas in our next update where the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 has threatened to go on a strike unless employing casino management settle their contracts.
The third report highlights latest developments in Vietnam casino industry where after a gap of 10 years, a casino license has been issued, to The ‘Laguna LÄƒng’.
In the fourth report, we cover Bet365’s official confirmation of increasing the scale of its current operations in Malta, though the UK gaming giant has denied it is pulling out of Gibraltar altogether.
We conclude the gaming report with the recent turbulence in the gaming scenario in Myanmar where the government has shown positive signs on allowing ‘foreigners-only’ casino to operate but warned telecom majors against any form of ‘online’ sports betting or gaming.
Dublin-based online gaming firm Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) will be merging its US arm with the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) site FanDuel. After a formal agreement last Wednesday, the two groups have announced the merger, wherein PPB will hold a 61% stake and existing FanDuel investors will own 39% of the combined business.
The combined business will be operated by PBB once the deal closes by September end after regulatory approval. PBB that is contributing its current US assets of $612 million, $158 million of cash in the merger can opt to increase its stake to 80% after three years and 100% after five years. This is PBB’s second investment in daily fantasy sports sector, the first being the platform ‘DRAFT’ it acquired in 2017 for $50 Million.
“This combination creates the industry’s largest online business in the U.S., with a large sports-focused customer base and an extensive nationwide footprint. Together with our substantial financial firepower, we believe we are now well placed to target the prospective U.S. sports betting opportunity,” said PBB CEO Peter Jackson.
Meanwhile, talking about the merger, FanDuel CEO Matt King said that FanDuel is excited to bring these two great businesses together.
Till date FanDuel has spent $400 Million on its brand awareness. After the US Supreme Court ruling FanDuel voiced its intention to bring innovation to the sports betting space.
Just as we were hearing news of Las Vegas decking up to host the grand World Series of Poker (WSOP) 2018 and host home games under the Stanley Cup Finals under the banner of Las Vegas Golden Knights comes a shocker. The Las Vegas Culinary Workers Union Local 226 has voted to go on a strike by month-end unless contract agreements are settled.
The 25,000-strong worker union members met over two sessions last Tuesday and an overwhelming majority of 99% voted in favor of a citywide strike unless the new five-year contracts are settled by June 1.
If a deal isn’t reached, they said, nearly 50,000 workers including cooks, room attendants, servers, kitchen workers and bartenders working across 34 different casinos in Vegas will walk off their jobs. The strike will affect properties including those owned by MGM Resorts, Caesar’s Entertainment, Topicana Las Vegas, Golden Entertainment, Penn National and Boyd Gaming Corp. Contracts for Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino that will be hosting the WSOP will not expire before August.
The call for strike has come after a long gap. The union had voted in favor of a strike way back in 2002 but it was called off since a deal was reached in time.
The ‘Laguna LÄƒng’ has become the first resort in Vietnam to acquire a casino license in the past 10 years. The license was handed over to managing partner of Laguna LÄƒng Co, Banyan Tree Holdings by chairman of Provincial People’s Committee, Ho Kwon Ping during the recent Vietnam-Singapore Business Forum 2018.
The ‘Laguna LÄƒng’ has been issued the casino license for gaming operations in its $2 Billion resort project in Thua Thien Hue province.
Phase one of the project began 5 years ago but Phase two was being held up for the company to receive its casino license. The resort is now expected to begin full-fledged casino operations by 2022. This means it may not run gaming operations during the 3-year trial period marked by the Vietnam government wherein locals will be allowed to gamble in casinos.
It’s also not clear on who will run the gaming operations in the resort. While the Banyan Tree management remains tight-lipped, it is being reported that the local government has reached an early understanding with US-based Hard Rock Internationalfor gaming operations in the province. The company already operates Vietnam’s only large-scale integrated gaming resort, The Grand Ho Tram Strip.
UK-based sports betting major Bet365 has confirmed its decision to expand operations in Malta. While maintaining that it intends to hold a ‘strong presence’ in the United Kingdom enclave, Bet365 attributed the decision to regulatory developments and evolving global regulatory environment for online betting and gaming.
While the company has confirmed that an additional property has been acquired in Malta, it did not furnish details of the location. Bet365 also denied the recent reports carried by the Sunday Times of Malta that it was shifting its operational headquarters from Gibraltar to Malta after Brexit and relocating around 1,000 personnel in the process, calling the numbers “wholly inaccurate”.
Gilbraltar is considered as one of the biggest ‘hotspots’ for online betting and earlier reports of Bet365 moving out, post Brexit, sent ripples of shock through the betting industry and didn’t fare well with the government of the UK Enclave.
With the 2018 FIFA World Cup knocking on the door, the government in Myanmar has warned its private telecom firms against online gambling. In a recent move to check the growing presence of online gambling in Myanmar during the World Cup, the ministry of transport and communication issued a statement to all telecom firms that ‘if they break rules, they will be shut down’.
In the statement the Director-general of Department of Post & Telecommunications (DPT), Soe Thein has expressed concerns about forms of mobile gaming, and a local poker variant game called ‘Shan Koe Mee’.
Thein said that mobile operators and license holders of network facilities services were responsible to end active cooperation with online gambling sites and prevent future links to unauthorized activity. He added that telecoms would be punished regardless of a direct or indirect involvement in online gambling.
We recall that over the past few tournament cycles, operations like SOGA and Aces have attempted to crackdown gambling in different Asian countries. All online gambling except ‘e-lottery’ operations of state-owned Aungbarlay Lottery are banned in Myanmar. Early in 2018, Myanmar media reported the government looking at giving formal sanction to ‘foreigners-only’ casino operations in its mainland.