Pennsylvanian Municipalities Act to Prohibit Casinos

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A recently passed legislation in Pennsylvania paves the way for the expansion of the state’s gambling by allowing up to 10 new casinos to be established within its jurisdiction. However, this endeavor has not been welcomed by some of Pennsylvania’s municipalities in the Centre County who are not for the idea of having a casino business operating in the area.

Just a couple of months ago on October 30th, Democrat Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 271 into law – the law which backed by the concurring General Assembly authorized gambling expansion opportunities in every part of Pennsylvania. This expansion would, for instance, create up to 10 category 4 slot machine licenses in addition to Pennsylvania’s 12 currently operational commercial casinos. About 300 to 700 slot machines and 50 table games can be operated by each of the Category 4 casinos though, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, none of these casinos can be operated within 25 miles of the state’s existing Category 1, 2 or 3 casinos. The only exception would be in the case of an operator opening a category 4 casino that is within 25 linear miles of its own Category 1, 2 or 3 facility.

As it stands, the municipalities have the power to either prohibit or even opt out of a casino that is located within its borders. To do this, the municipality’s governing body is required to send a resolution to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board before the 1st of January. A number of Centre County municipalities have already sent resolutions to prohibit the establishment of a casino.

The move by the municipalities is mostly driven by the long-term implications of gambling – the town’s residents believe that the casino would be a bad idea since most of the money that will be gambled and eventually lost will come from the town’s ordinary occupants. On the same note, they also did not see any benefits coming to the town as the mini-casinos would not be offering any ‘high-profile’ jobs to the county’s residents.

Any municipality that prohibits the location of a casino within its borders is allowed to revoke the prohibition, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board – however, upon revoking the prohibition, the municipality loses the right to prohibit the location of the casino again.

Revel, Former Atlantic City Casino Headed for Sale

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With all the buzz that has been going on around the state of New Jersey between the tribal casino owners and MGM Resorts International, it seems that more parties are beginning to show an interest in getting a piece of the Atlantic City pie. Now, a Colorado company has filed for the license for former Atlantic City casino, Revel. The report which was issued by Moody’s Investors Service on Monday 11th December 2017 details the plans of a Colorado firm to buy the now shuttered Revel casino for $200 million – the Colorado company which is known as AC Ocean Walk LLC also had to put up $100,000 as a non-refundable application fee. Moody’s Investor Service also went further and issued another report for the company’s plans for the casino once it is acquired. These plans included a projected May 2018 launch date – if everything goes as planned, that is. In the report, Mood’s Investor Service outlined that AC Ocean Walk LLC had also briefed the ratings agency on the financing and subsequent plans.

According to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, AC Ocean Walk LLC which also happens to be controlled by Bruce Deifik applied for this license back in October and this application is the latest indication that it is only a matter of time before a deal for the sale of Revel casino is reached. Glenn Straub, the Florida developer who bought Revel casino out of bankruptcy about two years ago has however repeatedly denied claims of a deal to sell it off. Despite Straub’s consistent denials of the claims, the buyers are now in possession of mortgage details from a court proceeding that is set to determine whether he needs a casino license to reopen Revel under a different moniker, Ten.

Prior to its closure in September 2014, Revel had only been operational for only a little over two years within which it did not make any profit and also went bankrupt, not once, but twice. Regardless, AC Ocean Walk LLC believes that they could turn the tide on Revel’s ill luck thanks to the newness  and the overall good condition of the property as well as the company’s ‘good liquidity.’

MGM Welcomes Competitive Bidding for Bridgeport Casino

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MGM Resorts’ long-running feud with Connecticut’s tribal gaming operators has recently shifted to the town of Bridgeport where MGM has proposed the construction of a gaming and entertainment complex worth $675 million. Amidst all this, MGM Resorts International has reasserted a bid that sought to have the state establish a competitive bidding process for a casino in Bridgeport – the Southeastern gaming tribes of Connecticut have shown interest in partaking in this process as it seems to be the best way to go about the issue.

“The Tribes’ request yesterday to be ‘part of that discussion’ is good news for the people of Connecticut,” MGM Resorts senior vice president, Uri Clinton wrote on Thursday in letters addressed to Connecticut’s Governor Dannel P. Malloy and the state’s legislative leaders. “There appears to be, for the first time, agreement that such a discussion is in the state’s best interest.”

“That the Tribes also see the tremendous potential of Bridgeport confirms our analysis that Bridgeport is by far the best-situated location in the state for a commercial casino — and the only location with the potential to actually grow the State’s gaming revenue,” he added.

Prior to this, the chairmen of the Mohegan and Mashantucket tribes who are the respective owners of the Mohegan Sun and Foxwood Resorts Casino had sent a letter to Governor Malloy as well as state legislative leaders declaring their interest in establishing a casino in Bridgeport.

“Back in 2015, our initial proposal would have authorized three new facilities, one in north-central CT, one in the Danbury area and one in Fairfield County,” the letter read. “It was the legislature’s decision to move forward with only one site in the north-central Hartford region. If circumstances have changed and there is now real interest in putting a casino in Bridgeport, we want to be a part of that discussion.”

The two tribes have had an exclusive deal with the state to operate their casinos on the Southeastern corner of Connecticut for years and the entry of MGM Resorts presented a stalemate. They, therefore, wrote to the state lawmakers asking to be partisan to any deliberations involving Bridgeport. There is, of course, no love lost between MGM Resorts International and the bill that aims to grant the tribes exclusive rights to develop a third casino in Connecticut – instead, the casino operator is pushing for an alternative bill that calls for competitive bidding on which of the two parties get to build a casino in Bridgeport.

The casino gaming agreements signed by the casinos years ago had the casinos share their slot machine revenue with the state in exchange for being granted exclusivity within the borders of Connecticut. This was however on condition that the no other entity would be given the opportunity to establish a casino business in Connecticut, otherwise, the payments to the state would stop. To clarify this further, the spokesman of the tribe, Andrew Doba had this to say:

“MGM can say whatever it wants, but the facts are simple. Their project would cost the state $1 billion or more in lost revenue. Continuing our partnership costs the state nothing and will in fact only enhance the amount of revenue the state already receives.”

Aristocrat Shakes Up Social Casino Games with Big Fish Deal

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Last week, in a rare twist of events, Australian gambling machine manufacturers Aristocrat Leisure announced its intent to buy social casino games development company Big Fish Games in Seattle. The $990 million game deal is a rare occurrence hence it did not draw a lot of attention but from the looks of it, the results will definitely be headliners in social casino circles.

Apparently, this deal with Aristocrat Leisure is Big Fish Games’ second major dealer – in 2014, Big Fish Games was bought by Kentucky Derby owner Churchill Downs for $885 million. Now, Aristocrat also seems to be toying with the idea of incorporating a business model that mixes their gambling expertise through their slot machine business and non-gambling social casino games where players get to play on virtual slot machines but without the perks of being able to win real money.

“The surprise announcement to acquire Big Fish for nearly $1 billion combined with its recent acquisition of Plarium for $500 million will transform Aristocrat’s digital business into a business that should generate in excess of $1.1 billion in revenues and $250 million in [EBITDA, or profit before taxes etc.] next year,”Eilers &Krejcik analyst Adam Krejcik said. “Following the acquisition of Big Fish, we expect Aristocrat will be the No. 2 social casino publisher worldwide. Additionally, Big Fish (along with Plarium) will help expand the company’s addressable market opportunities as it relates to social games.”

Aristocrat Leisure’s stakeholders are anticipating that the deal will be closed within the first quarter of 2018 pending regulatory approval which should follow shortly after. If things go as well as
Aristocrat hopes and the company effectively executes on the revenue expectations, Aristocrat is set to outgrow rival game company Zynga whose current market value is $2.5 billion.

“Big Fish’s digital-first social casino content and industry-leading meta-game capability and applications are highly complementary to Aristocrat’s existing and industry-leading land-based digital content business. The acquisition of Big Fish will immediately provide scale across our entire digital platform” said Trevor Croker, Aristocrat’s chief executive officer. “The strategic and financial benefits from the acquisition are highly compelling”

After the acquisition, Big Fish Games will continue to operate independently as a stand-alone business and this will be alongside two other Aristocrat-owned digital businesses, Plarium, and Product Madness. Furthermore, players will still get to enjoy fan-favorite Big Fish titles like Fairway Solitaire and Gummy Drop! as well as amazing titles from Big Fish’s globally top-ranked social casino app, Big Fish Casino.

PlayOJO Wins Malta iGaming’s Casino of the Year Award

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PlayOJO, which is a relatively new online casino has gained a lot of popularity in the recent past and now they have received another form of recognition. The Malta iGaming Awards recently crowned the new but popular PlayOJO Casino as 2017’s best casino operator. Malta’s iGaming Awards have always caused quite a stir in the online casino industry especially due to the prominence that accompanies the awards as well as their significance in terms of both local and international recognition.

The award did not come as a surprise considering the fact that PlayOJO has always strived to provide its customers with nothing but the best with its unique and innovative approach towards online gaming. Among the nominees were other equally impressive casino operators with outstanding backgrounds and excellent reputations which means that the competition was rather tight. However, the SkillOnNet powered PlayOJO emerged the winner – which makes it their second win after receiving the prestigious EGR Rising Star of the Year Award a few weeks ago.

Despite being in operation for just a little over a year, PlayOJO has most certainly created a lot of buzz in the world of online gambling by introducing some very innovative solutions as well as new technology to the industry. PlayOJO Casino’s Ohad Narkis was very excited about receiving the award something that he says proves their level of professionalism and commitment to providing the best online gambling experiences. He further thanked the judges for their honest opinions regarding the casino’s operational model and assured every player that they would definitely improve every aspect of it as they move along.

“We are delighted to have been named Casino Operator of the Year at the Malta iGaming Awards. Despite launching less than a year ago, we have already made a significant impact on the industry by taking the player experience to the next level. This award recognizes the hard work and dedication of the PlayOJO team, and I’d like to thank the judges for rewarding our achievements and successes in this way.”

Since it went live back in February, PlayOJO has proved to be a force to reckon with by being a disruptive challenger to most of the online casino operators, especially in the UK. Some unique features that have attracted a plethora of online gamblers include their responsible gambling policy as well as the money back option offered for every bet that a player places. However, the biggest selling point of PlayOJO’s operational model has been its approach when it comes to the casino bonuses and reward – they are all available to customers with no wagering requirements.

Resorts World Catskills Still on Track for Launch in 2018

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The fourth, and the last, of the upstate casinos authorized under the gambling expansion in New York, Resort World Catskills, is still expected to launch within the first quarter of 2018. The Acting of Director of the state Gambling Commission, Don Ochrym, in a recent press release confirmed that the casino is expected to kick off its operations by March 1st next year. Resort World Catskills is to be opened in Monticello, Sullivan County with over 200 participants expected to join in – casino machines are already being delivered and dealer training schools have already begun training people expected to work for the new establishment.

Previously known Montreign, the Resorts World casino by the time of its completion is anticipated to have used up at least $1.2 billion – but considering the revenue that the casino is expected to rake in, the budget can be said to be worth every penny.

In September the Times Union in a report acknowledged that these new casinos (Resorts World Catskills and three others that have been opened in the last year) are the state’s economic engines though they lagged behind in the first-year revenue projections. However, these financial struggles are expected to change a bit with industry officials and local stakeholders saying that it takes time to see whether a business is going to be a success in the long term especially if it is a casino.

The 1.6-million-square-foot, five-star Resort World Catskills is further promising customers of certain key features that will set it apart from all the existing casinos. Charlie Degliomini, who is the executive vice president of Resorts World Catskills parent company, Empire Resorts says that once construction is complete and the casino is officially complete, they expect up to 4 million visitors every year. He further pointed out that the casino’s core offering will be luxury as portrayed by the personal pools, private balconies, garden suites as well as the elite-guest gyms for third-floor residents – and, of course, not forgetting the three bars and six eateries.

Guests looking to grab a quick bite will love the food court and when they are not gaming they can indulge in a bit golfing on the casino’s Rees Jones-redesigned 18-hole golf course! Alternatively, there is a salon where they can get their nails down as they unwind or prepare for the next games.

Regardless, gambling is still going to be the biggest moneymaker for Resorts World Catskills. Degliomini expects that about three-quarters of its 332 suites will be allocated to the casino section to accommodate all the 130 table games and the 2,150 slot machines.

So far, everyone seems to be happy about the resort-casino project – local union leaders are so enthused about the project’s utilization of an all-union workforce of over 680 construction workers which gets even better as the number is expected to rise to 800 as the launch date nears. The union’s representatives are also excited about the great post-launch prospects that the casino will have for the local economy – about 1,400 jobs will be created at the main hotel, the golf course, and the casino.