Casino

China slowdown hits Macau gambling industry

The slowdown in the Chinese economy is having an impact in a number of areas, and one of the most notable is the effect on Macau, sometimes described as the gambling capital of the world.

There was an indication of the negative effects on the Macau gambling sector last week when Wynn Resorts announced their latest earning figures. Although Macau revenue was up more than £200 million on a year ago, the company was projecting earnings 20 percent lower than expected for the fourth quarter of 2018, and analysts have pointed to the fact that Wynn Resorts has not lost any of its market shares, suggesting that the market itself is taking a turn for the worse.

Wynn is more exposed than most US operators to the Macau market, through its two casinos on the Cotai Strip, but a downturn in the gambling industry in Macau would be bad news for all operators, and a flashback to the turbulence of 2014 and 2015, when new regulations from the Chinese government, combined with a slowing economy, saw casino revenues crash.

Credit cycles

And the economic data suggests that Wynn Resorts could have good reason to be cautious. It is known that gaming revenue lags behind mainland credit cycles by about 15 months and around a year ago, China’s government began to slow down the flow of credit.

The housing market, which is also often a good indicator, has been showing warning signs, with sales falling over 3 percent in September, and supply outstripping demand, to the extent that 22 percent of properties in China are unoccupied. New data on the credit situation in China will be released later in the week, which will give a clearer picture, but Macau’s casino operators are already bracing themselves for difficult economic headwinds over the coming months.

Andie Hughes

Andie Hughes is a UK-based freelance betting and gambling writer with over a decade of experience in the industry, having written for Betfair, ESPN, Boylesports, Sporting Life and various other popular betting sites. Contact Andie at andiehughes73@gmail.com.

Casino

Gambling remains controversial in Arkansas

The issue of casino gambling remains controversial in the US state of Arkansas despite the fact that voters largely approved the expansion of gaming in Tuesday’s elections.

An amendment to require licenses for new casino venues in Crittenden, Garland, Pope and Jefferson counties, known as Amendment 4, was passed with over 54 percent of the vote. The amendment will provide for an expansion of gambling at Oaklawn Jockey Club in Garland County and Southland Racing in Crittenden County. Speaking about the vote, the Communications Director at Southland, Glen White, said that the outcome would be beneficial for the local area:

We thank the voters for their trust in us. We will increase our investment, provide more jobs and continue to offer a great experience for our guests.”

Another casino proposal from the Quapaw Nation would see the construction of a 12-story casino resort in Jefferson County, provisionally titled the Saracen Casino Resort.

Bad deal for Arkansas

But although the voters of Arkansas approved the issuing of four casino licenses, there remains plenty of opposition to casino gambling in the state.

The Family Council opposed Amendment 4, and speaking about the outcome of the vote, the organisation’s President Jerry Cox said that the casinos would be ‘festering sores’ in the communities of Arkansas, and that the new licenses represented a bad deal for the state.

In Pope County, the majority of those who voted were against Amendment 4, and Pope County residents also approved a local referendum option which seeks to block officials in the County from issuing any letters of support for casino applications. It isn’t yet clear whether this move would be able to prevent a casino coming to Pope County, but it seems likely that any such application would meet with significant protest, despite the majority of Arkansas residents being in favour of casino gaming.

Andie Hughes

Andie Hughes is a UK-based freelance betting and gambling writer with over a decade of experience in the industry, having written for Betfair, ESPN, Boylesports, Sporting Life and various other popular betting sites. Contact Andie at andiehughes73@gmail.com.

Casino

Churchill Downs Aiming For Online Success

The operators of the famous Churchill Downs racetrack in Kentucky have brought forward the launch date for their online New Jersey betting operation.

Churchill Downs Incorporated announced that it would be launching its mobile casino and sports betting operation in New Jersey in the fourth quarter of 2018, after initially predicting a start date in the first quarter of 2019. At the same time, the company has also acquired a majority stake in the Illinois Rivers Casino Des Plaines, as it aims to take advantage of online opportunities. 

The change in plans was announced as part of the company’s third quarter report. According to the CEO of Churchill Downs, Bill Carstanjen, they were still waiting to be granted a licence to offer online gambling in New Jersey, where they will be operating through a deal with Atlantic City’s successful online casino platform, the Golden Nugget.

Increase in revenue

Churchill Downs was able to record a 12 percent revenue increase during the third quarter of 2018, despite a decline in their proceeds from racing, thanks to a rise in casino gaming income. Overall revenue during the quarter was $221.3m, with $105m of that total coming from casino gambling.

As well as preparing for its launch in New Jersey, Churchill Downs is also making an entry into the New York and Colorado markets, following a deal struck with Saratoga Casino Holdings and has already started taking bets in the state of Mississippi via sportsbooks at two casinos.

The purchase of a 50.1 percent stake in the Rivers Des Plaines, which will continue to be operated by Rush Street Gaming, establishes a Churchill Downs presence in Illinois and the company is also believed to be targeting a launch in Pennsylvania, as they aim to increase their share of the rapidly growing sports betting market in the US.

Andie Hughes

Andie Hughes is a UK-based freelance betting and gambling writer with over a decade of experience in the industry, having written for Betfair, ESPN, Boylesports, Sporting Life and various other popular betting sites. Contact Andie at andiehughes73@gmail.com.

Casino

Social Casino Games Increase Addiction Risk

A new study has found that young people who play free social casino games are significantly more likely to play for money with online and land-based casinos, and that they are more likely to develop gambling problems in later life.

The study was compiled by Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). It revealed that twelve per cent of respondents aged between nine and thirteen had played on social casino games during the preceding three months. While children of this age are unable to enter land casinos or gamble for real money online, but there is no age restriction on free gambling games.

Free social casino games include many traditional casino games including poker, slots and table games, though rather than winning real money, players win points or prizes.

Type of play

According to the author of the study, Dr Elton-Marchall, there is evidence to show that social casino gambling may encourage children to link gambling with excitement and so lead to their transitioning to gambling with real money, partly because it is often easier to win social casino games than real money games, which gives younger people a false impression about the profitability of gambling.

The study revealed that 37 to 50 per cent of young respondents who admitted to gambling for money and playing social casino games also had low to high problem gambling, but only 10 percent of teenagers who gambled with real money but didn’t play social casino games suffered from problem gambling. The findings are likely to lead to calls on governments and gambling regulators to treat social gaming in the same way as real money gambling in land casinos or online.

Andie Hughes

Andie Hughes is a UK-based freelance betting and gambling writer with over a decade of experience in the industry, having written for Betfair, ESPN, Boylesports, Sporting Life and various other popular betting sites. Contact Andie at andiehughes73@gmail.com.

Casino

Cherry to launch Polish Sportsbook

Stockholm-based European online betting group Cherry AB has announced that it will be launching its first betting operation in the Polish market, with the unveiling of sportsbook PZBuk.

Back in July, as part of its interim update, the company revealed that it would be entering the regulated Polish online betting market after successfully applying for a gambling operator license to the Ministry of Finance in Poland. In the weeks since that announcement, the company has been working on establishing a presence in the Polish market, in order to adhere to Polish gambling laws that state any companies holding a licence must have an active presence within the country.

As a result, the Swedish company has created Cherry Online Polska based in Warsaw, and has now announced the launch of its first Polish operation. PZBuk, which translate as ‘the Polish bookmaker’ will be part of the company’s B2C division called Come On, which was set up in 2017.

Complete compliance

Announcing the launch of PZBuk, the CEO of Come On, Lahcene Merzoug, emphasised how closely the new brand would adhere to the relevant regulations:

Our Polish sports betting licence allows us to launch one of the first brands in the Polish gaming market. At the PZBuk.pl site, we can offer our online services, which are in complete compliance with Polish regulations.”

Cherry Online Polska is the ninth betting entity to be awarded a license in Poland since the nation’s gambling laws were overhauled in 2017. The country is regarded as a particularly tough market for betting companies, mainly due to the 12% turnover tax that the government imposed on all betting companies, a development that led to William Hill and Bet365 withdrawing from the country.

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Andie Hughes

Andie Hughes is a UK-based freelance betting and gambling writer with over a decade of experience in the industry, having written for Betfair, ESPN, Boylesports, Sporting Life and various other popular betting sites. Contact Andie at andiehughes73@gmail.com.

Casino

Leo Vegas to challenge Italian betting ban

A leading European betting company has made the first move in a legal challenge to the planning ban on gambling advertising, included by the Italian government as part of its Dignity Decree.

The Stockholm-listed company LeoVegas has made a formal complaint to the European Union, and is confident that the planned implementation is in breach of EU procedural rules.

The LeoVegas challenge hinges on the principle that the plan to introduce the regulation breaches a key European rule that requires member states to inform the EU Commission of any draft proposals for technical regulation. In this case, LeoVegas is arguing, this step was not taken.

In putting together their complaint, the company has had meetings with MEPs from a number of countries, including Malta, Italy and Sweden and claim that there is widespread agreement among the politicians they have spoken to that the correct procedure has not been followed.

Ban on internal marketing

The proposed changes would ban all gambling advertising, and LeoVegas is arguing that this is against EU principles as it will hinder market access, restricting the incentives for companies from other EU states to enter the Italian betting market.

Currently, ten established gambling operators in the Italian market hold a market share of around 60 percent and the ban on marketing operations is likely to lead to smaller or newer companies leaving the market or deciding not to enter it, which will increase the dominance of the established operators, at the expense of competition.

It is not yet clear what response the EU will make to the complaint, but according to reports in the media, LeoVegas are also preparing further challenges, as part of their aim to overturn the bill completely over the course of the next year.

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Andie Hughes

Andie Hughes is a UK-based freelance betting and gambling writer with over a decade of experience in the industry, having written for Betfair, ESPN, Boylesports, Sporting Life and various other popular betting sites. Contact Andie at andiehughes73@gmail.com.

Casino

Drop in Nevada casino revenue

There has been a marked drop in casino revenue in the US state of Nevada, according to a report published by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. According to the NGCB, gambling revenue in the state, which includes the gambling hub of Las Vegas, fell for the second month in a row during August, although the results are in line with what some analysts had predicted.

The report reveals that Nevada’s casinos took gambling revenue of $913 million from visitors during the month of August, which equates to a 7.7% decrease when compared with the same period in last year. August’s figures also represent the lowest monthly revenue recorded so far in 2018.

Difficult comparison

Michael Lawton, a senior analyst at the NGCB, said that they were disappointed with the August figures, but said that the Board was not surprised, as casinos in the state were facing a difficult comparison with trading conditions in August 2017. Last year, August’s revenue was boosted by the fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor, which took place in Las Vegas:

People called it the fight of the century, and it was a pretty big draw and it drove a lot of those gaming numbers for last August. We didn’t have an event this August that was anywhere near replicating something of that magnitude. We knew going in this was going to be a tough month for us.”

The report revealed that casinos based on the Las Vegas Strip earned revenue of $477.9 million, which is down 12.4% from the same month in 2017, while the volume of visitors to these venues remained at a similar level. Casinos based in downtown Las Vegas also experienced a fall in revenue of 4.8% to a figure of $46.2 million.

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Andie Hughes

Andie Hughes is a UK-based freelance betting and gambling writer with over a decade of experience in the industry, having written for Betfair, ESPN, Boylesports, Sporting Life and various other popular betting sites. Contact Andie at andiehughes73@gmail.com.

Casino

William Hill links up with IGT

UK bookmaker William Hill and casino game producer International Game Technology have agreed a partnership to add sports betting options to a number of US state lotteries.

Under the terms of the deal, the two companies, who have previously worked in tandem to win a similar contract in the state of Rhode Island, will expand their current offering to provide a complete online sports betting package, bringing together the IGT platform which enables land-based, mobile and retail gambling, and William Hill’s sports betting expertise.

IGT already offer their platform in four US states as a betting solution for a range of partners, while William Hill has also established operations in the five states that offer sports betting following the Supreme Court decision in May that overturned the federal ban on sports betting.

William Hill’s US chief executive Joe Asher said that their reputation and expertise made them an ideal partner for US lotteries:

William Hill’s track record as an operator globally, and our clear leadership as a sports book operator in the US, in particular, mean that US lotteries can be confident that in choosing IGT and us together, they will be benefiting from a reliable, trustworthy, and responsibly-managed solution.”

Betting frameworks

Prior to the overturning of the sports betting ban, there were four states in which betting frameworks already existed before the betting ban existed, but in 46 of the US states sports betting remained illegal. Since May, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia and Illinois have either set up betting regulation frameworks or are moving ahead with the relevant legislation.

The North American chief executive of North America, Renato Ascoli, said that the deal with William Hill would put them in a good position as sports betting spreads throughout the US:

“We are delighted to be partnering with William Hill, whose proven leadership and capability in U.S. sports betting operations will ensure that we are able to fully support our lottery customers as states start to regulate these products.”

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Andie Hughes

Andie Hughes is a UK-based freelance betting and gambling writer with over a decade of experience in the industry, having written for Betfair, ESPN, Boylesports, Sporting Life and various other popular betting sites. Contact Andie at andiehughes73@gmail.com.

Casino

NetEnt ventures into Lithuania

Casino software developers NetEnt have announced the launch of a new partnership that will expand their operations into a new regulated gambling market.

The company has entered a partnership with Lithuanian betting operators TOP Sport and hasn’t ruled out the possibility of making further deals associated with the Lithuanian market.

Under the terms of the deal, NetEnt will launch a number of its most popular casino titles using the online infrastructure of TOP Sport, which is known as the largest betting operator in the country.

Speaking about the deal, the managing director of NetEnt Malta, Henrik Fagerlund, said that the company would be working to expand its business by entering regulated markets in new countries, and that Lithuania is one of the best territories in which to expand:

Since the regulation of the Lithuanian market for online gambling in 2016 the market has matured, and we see great potential for Lithuanian players taking a liking to our games.”

Largest betting company in Lithuania

TOP Sport was founded in 2002 and was the first betting company to set up in the Baltic state, which according to Fagerlund, made them the obvious choice:

TOP Sport is the largest betting company in Lithuania and we are proud to partner up with them and they represent a great opportunity for us to showcase our products to Lithuanian players. We’re sure that players will love our games and I won’t rule out that we’ll be working with more Lithuanian operators in the future.”

NetEnt’s recent expansion may also be partly related to disappointing revenue growth in the second quarter of this year, which was attributed to a slowdown in the UK. In July CEO Therese Hillman said that the company’s game portfolio would grow in the second half of the year.

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Andie Hughes

Andie Hughes is a UK-based freelance betting and gambling writer with over a decade of experience in the industry, having written for Betfair, ESPN, Boylesports, Sporting Life and various other popular betting sites. Contact Andie at andiehughes73@gmail.com.

Casino

Starlight Casino Opens on Wednesday

Wednesday, September 26 is going to be a massive day for the Starlight Casino in West Edmonton Mall. This the date when the Canadian casino has its grand reopening after a $57m renovation.

The casino replaces the Palace Casino and now covers 15,000 square metres. There are some new features introduced, including new restaurants and The Replay Arena which will feature ‘Dealtainers’ who aren’t just card dealers but also partly performers. They will be appearing at four of the tables and can control everything from a centre console which changes the lights and music, and even shows colourful graphics on a huge screen, with players sitting at one of 35 interactive tables.

The long-range goal is to get people in who have never tried table games and make it really, really fun,” said Starlight Casino general manager Kevin Booth. It’s hoped younger players will be attracted by the Dealtainers. Booth added that “When it gets busy, and a little louder and the DJ is there, it’s going to be a totally different concept that no one else has.”

New Games

The Starlight Casino will also be featuring some new games, including Fortune’s Cup live-action digital horse racing, Pac Man and the Prizm Social Roulette table. On its way soon is a 24-hour poker room with eight tables and its own private entrance. Also new is a set of large windows which allow plenty of natural light to enter the casino floor. 

The casinos have 40 gaming tables, 768 slot machines and space for about 2,000 customers. Gateway Casinos & Entertainment have created 300 more jobs taking the total number of employees up to 500.

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Steve Ashfield

Steve Ashfield is a freelance writer who has a wide range of experience covering various aspects of the gambling industry. Over the years he has edited professional wrestling magazines, written horse racing tips, and covered news on a variety of different sports. Contact Steve at ashfieldwritingservices@gmail.com.

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