Insider trading, licence review & M&A activity: the week in numbers

Insider trading, licence review & M&A activity: the week in numbers

Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. Urges to split and divest Svenska Spel, Federal Court approval regarding the sale of Crown Resorts, a further investigation being faced by Star Entertainment, and allegations of insider trading against a former Penn National Gaming employee, all feature in our latest recap.

2

BOS, the Swedish trade association for online gambling, welcomed proposals from the country’s Moderate Party that will split and divest a section of Svenska Spel should they come to power during September’s elections.

An intention to overhaul the country’s current gambling legislation has been outlined by the Moderates, with a headline measure to see the state owned gambling group split into two separate entities for monopoly gaming (lottery and keno) and competitive gaming (gambling units and sports betting). 

All proposals submitted have been supported by the Riksdag, the highest decision-making assembly in Sweden, except for that which calls for a reversal in the adjusted requirement for moderation in marketing.

The motion also calls for bonus regulation for online gaming to be liberalised, as well as urging the Spelinspektionen to develop a Spelpaus website to ensure that those who have shut themselves off from gambling receive help and support.

Furthermore, the Moderate Party stated that further proposals to counter match fixing are required, with it also suggested that an evaluation of the Gaming Act “and its consequences on the gaming market” should be conducted in two to three years time.

8.9

Blackstone moved one step closer to finalising its much publicised A$8.9bn (US$6.3bn) takeover of Crown Resorts after the Federal Court of Australia approved the proposed acquisition.

This represented the final regulatory hurdle for the purchase following rubber stamps being issued across the states of New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.

The acquisition of Crown by SS Silver II Pty, an entity owned by funds managed or advised by Blackstone and its affiliates, represents a price of A$13.10 cash per share.

Blackstone, which agreed to the takeover of the group in February, had made a number of acquisitive overtures during the course of many months.

560,762

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced insider trading charges against a former Penn National Gaming employee regarding the Pennsylvania headquartered firm’s $2bn cash and stock acquisition of Score Media and Gaming.

The complaint, filed in federal district court in Philadelphia, alleged that David Roda, who served as Senior Backend Architect and Director of Backend at PNG during a near three year stint, breached confidentiality duties  

It wass said that Roda learned in early July 2021 that a potential PNG takeover of Score Media and Gaming was on the cards, and was warned not to trade on that information.

However, 500 out-of-the-money call options were purchased in the days and weeks leading up to the announcement of the acquisition, with Roda also said to have tipped long-time friend Andrew Larkin, also charged by the SEC, who subsequently bought 375 Score Media shares.

According to the SEC’s complaint, the company’s stock price increased nearly 80 percent after the two companies publicly announced their deal, following which Roda and Larkin sold their holdings for profits of $560,762 and $5,602, respectively.

5-4

The US Supreme Court found in favour of two Native American tribes in a decades long legal battle regarding the permittance of certain gambling activities on tribal lands.

In a narrow 5-4 ruling, the decision of the nation’s highest court states that the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Indian Tribe and Alabama-Coushatta Indian Tribes of Texas have the autonomy to allow electronic bingo gaming on their lands, regardless of state rules, in compliance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

However, despite finding that if a game isn’t prohibited within Texas the state cannot impose restrictions on tribes, Justice Neil Gorsuch, Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, noted that this does permit any activity a tribe may choose.

2.7

Playtech announced that the sale of its Finalto financial services division to Gopher Investments, has gained the receipt of all required regulatory approvals.

The all-cash sale was approved by shareholders during a general meeting that was held on December 1, 2021, and also previously met a key condition of the ultimately doomed £2.7bn Aristocrat takeover.

In line with the sale and purchase agreement with Gopher Investments, the company now expects to finalise the deal on June 30, 2022

The impending completion is lauded as a “significant step” by Playtech, with the gambling group reaffirming a strategy to simplify its operations and focus on its technology led offering across the B2B and B2C gambling markets. 

600

California Governor Gavin Newsom rubber stamped a gaming compact alongside the Tejon Indian Tribe that could bring the development of a $600m casino complex alongside Hard Rock International.

With Newsom concurring with the US Department of the Interior’s determination to allow 320 acres of land to be placed in trust, the compact has moved onto California legislature for ratification.

The casino project, which will be situated on 320 acres of land, is located approximately 25 minutes south of Bakersfield and is expected to directly create over 1,000 construction and 2,000 permanent jobs.

It was previously suggested that plans for the Hard Rock managed entity would deliver a 165,000 square foot casino, 400 room hotel, 13 restaurants, RV park, entertainment venue, spa fitness centre and convention space.

3.6

Australia’s Star Entertainment Group said that it will “fully cooperate” after Queensland Attorney General, Shannon Fentiman, confirmed that the state is to conduct an independent review of the group.

The firm, currently the subject of a New South Wales probe to determine if it is complying with its statutory obligations and remains suitable to hold its licence, is to be faced with similar action regarding its properties in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Star, which has undertaken an executive reshuffle after vowing to “embark on a program of renewal in a timely manner,” saw closing submissions wrap up in NSW last month amid allegations of money laundering and fraudulent activity.

Destination Brisbane Consortium, a joint venture led by The Star Entertainment Group alongside its Hong Kong-based partners, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and Far East Consortium, is currently constructing the AU$3.6bn Queen’s Wharf Development in the Sunshine State.

Author: Ava Harvey