Queensland, DraftKings, AGA, and L&W: 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. A DraftKings response to Roe vs Wade, US action on offshore operators, Bally’s and Light & Wonder M&A action, and updates on Star Entertainment Queensland investigation all feature in our latest headline recap.

5

As the DCMS pushes back the UK gambling sector’s white paper of recommendations to July, speculation continues to mount on the pending outcomes of the government’s review. 

With PM Boris Johnson reportedly maintaining his 2019 general election pledge of imposing significant curbs on the online gambling sector, The Times and Daily Mail detailed that new controls would focus on applying technical constraints on online operators.

This would reportedly include imposing “maximum stakes of between £2 and £5 for online casinos, a ban on free bets and VIP packages for those who incur heavy losses, and ‘non-intrusive’ affordability checks.”

Despite the government’s rumoured tightening of technical measures, it has also been suggested that the review could “drop plans to ban gambling companies from sponsoring Premier League football clubs” – a ban previously deemed as a guarantee of the review.

100,000

DraftKings joined an array of US-based firms in outlining an enhanced benefits package for employees following a landmark US Supreme Court ruling that overturned the constitutional right to abortion.

In a decision that sparked protests in the US, and which drew vocal, public criticism at the Glastonbury festival, the Roe vs Wade judgement clears individual states to prohibit the procedure. 

Responding to the decision that struck down a near 50-year precedent, the gambling group pledged an expanded benefits package that will “reimburse travel expenses for US employees and their dependents up to $10,000”, joining firms such as Meta and Disney in detailing such a move.

This, said the group, would cover medical and behavioural services that have access limited due to the unavailability of contracted providers or state legislative action, and includes abortion, gender affirmation, fertility, behavioural, or any other covered medical service.

30

A ban on the use of role models within gambling advertisements has officially entered force in the Netherlands, after the nation’s regulator issued a warning earlier this month.

This has seen the Kansspelautoriteit remind incumbents that it is to “closely monitor compliance with the ban in the near future,” with enforcement action to be taken “immediately” in the event of a violation.

From today (June 30), role models will no longer be permitted in gambling ads throughout the country, a decision that concerns “all persons who enjoy some form of public fame, such as (former) professional football players, influencers and models”. Charity lotteries, the state lottery and the lotto are exempt.

28

The American Gaming Association welcomed a Congressional letter that encourages an investigation into the illegal market, stating that eradicating such entities is one of the “top priorities” of the gaming industry association.

The communication, issued to the Department of Justice and signed by 28 members of congress, labelled illegal gambling operations as “predatory operations” that they state “expose our constituents to financial and cyber vulnerabilities”.

It was added that they “do not have protocols to address money laundering, sports integrity, or age restrictions; and undermine states’ efforts to capture much needed tax revenue through legal sports betting channels”.

Citing the confusion created for consumers, with these “dangerous operators” not being “relegated to the dark web, but instead are easily accessed through any computer or smartphone,” the members of congress urged that “we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the illegal market is thriving and operating unfettered”.

400

Light & Wonder agreed to a $400m reduction in the divestment price of OpenBet, with Endeavor Group now set to pay a total of $800m.

This will see the former Scientific Games receive $750m in cash and $50m in class A common stock of Endeavor, which is down from $1bn in cash and $200m in stock that was detailed in September 2021.

The amended fee, which L&W says represents a “final step” to a streamlined portfolio, is reported as providing “a strong valuation in the current market” and increases the speed and certainty of closing.

2

GambleAware is aiming to help people to “sustain their recovery” relating to gambling harm and the impact of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis via the launch of two funding programmes. 

Entitled the Aftercare Funding Programme and Community Resilience Fund, the gambling charity is looking to support those most at risk across Great Britain and reduce health inequalities in the “most disadvantaged communities”.

As of writing, the £2m AFP is seeking applications for projects, which will close on August 15, is said to provide support services for people in recovery from gambling harm. 

In addition to the above, GambleAware confirmed that current partners, along with new charities and organisations, will be eligible to apply for funds.

14

Bally’s Corporation is to divest the real property assets of its two Rhode Island casinos, namely Bally’s Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort and Bally’s Tiverton Casino & Hotel, to Gaming and Leisure Properties for $1bn.

However, the casino and entertainment operator will immediately lease back both properties and continue to own, control, and manage all the gaming operations of the facilities.

The pair will be added to an existing master lease, which has 14 years remaining as well as four five-year renewals at the tenant’s option, with incremental rent of $76.3m.

20

The government of New Zealand outlined what it lauded as “the most significant investment to address gambling harm in 20 years,” via an increased NZ$76.12m strategy that will be implemented over the next three years.

This enhanced service programme, which will run from  2022/23 to 2024/25, is designed to represent the Labour government’s commitment to addressing gambling harm and associated health inequities.

The cost represents an increase of $15.78m from the last levy period, which ran from 2019/20 to 2021/22, that will be recouped by a levy paid by non-casino gaming machine operators, casinos, the TAB NZ and New Zealand Lotteries Commission.

900

The Queensland government elaborated on a number of key areas that the impending investigation into Star Entertainment will probe, as well as confirming a fresh cash influx to ensure Sunshine State casinos are operated lawfully.

The inquiry is to investigate the use of China UnionPay debit or credit card facilities, and other arrangements, to help facilitate gambling by Chinese nationals despite currency movement restrictions.

In New South Wales, where closing submission wrapped up last month as part of an ongoing investigation to determine if the group remains suitable to hold its licence, hearings heard allegations that The Star disguised A$900m of payments from UnionPay bank accounts through hotels adjacent to its venues, before transferring the money to patrons.

Queensland also confirmed that a commitment to anti-money laundering responsibilities will be looked into, including detecting and preventing money-laundering risks, implementation of know your customer systems, and enhanced and ongoing customer due diligence obligations, particularly as they relate to high risk and high value customers.

Furthermore, management of VIP patrons, action taken regarding exclusions, and approach to gambling harm minimisation, including fitness for purpose, implementation, and resourcing, will also be under the spotlight.

Author: Ava Harvey