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Inside Gaming: GTECH-IGT Merger Approved, Betting on 2016 Summer Olympics Begins, and More

GTECH-IGT merger

In this week’s Inside Gaming, the Nevada Gaming Commission approves a historic merger between a couple of industry giants while also okaying the state’s sportsbooks to offer Olympic betting, and Caesars sells its remaining interest in a couple of Ohio casinos and other properties.

GTECH-IGT Merger Gets NGC Go-Ahead

Yesterday the Nevada Gaming Commission met over whether or not to approve a huge merger in the gaming world, one representing the joining of forces of the world’s largest global lottery business with an industry-leading gaming equipment company.

Last summer the Italian gaming group GTECH first entered into a merger agreement with International Game Technology (IGT), a U.S.-based developer and distributor of slot machines, and over the course of subsequent months gained approval from shareholders and finalized details for GTECH to acquire IGT.

Three hours of meetings yesterday culminated with the NGC giving its approval to what amounts to the largest-ever merger for the industry’s manufacturing sector. As Howard Stutz reports for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Gaming Control Board and NGC signed off on the $6.4 billion buyout, with the newly-joined companies to take on the IGT name going forward.

The obtaining of approvals from various regulatory agencies continues, with the deal expected to be finally closed in mid-April. The $6.4 billion amount includes the acquisition of $4.7 billion worth of cash and stock by GTECH from IGT while also assuming $1.7 billion of the latter’s debt.

As Stutz explains, “GTECH has 79 percent market share in all U.S. wagers and serves 38 out of the 45 state lotteries” while also serving “27 online lotteries, including the United Kingdom, Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Mexico and Colombia.”

Meanwhile IGT — makers of the popular Wheel of Fortune and The Price Is Right games as well as numerous video poker games — makes about half of all the slot machines in the U.S. while also being a global leader in casino gaming entertainment.

For more on the NGC’s approval of the merger and its implications going forward, take a spin over to the LVRJ.

Nevada Sportsbooks Now Offering 2016 Olympics Betting

Another item on the agenda for the Nevada Gaming Commission this week involved the NGC giving its approval to the state’s sportsbooks to begin offering betting lines on the 2016 Summer Olympics to be held August 5-16 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

As David Purdum reports for ESPN, it only took a few minutes after the regulation was approved for the first Olympics lines to be posted, with the William Hill sportsbook making the U.S. men’s basketball team a minus-320 favorite to win the gold among other lines quickly posted.

Prior to the approval the Gaming Control Board had to come to an agreement with the International Olympic Committee last year regarding the sharing of information on bets made on IOC-sanctioned events in order to watch out for potentially illegalities.

Purdum explains how betting on the Olympics had been made illegal in the U.S. in 2001 as part of an overall push to prohibiting betting on sporting events involving amateurs.

It was following the 1988 Summer Olympics the IOC first lifted restrictions preventing professional athletes from competing in the games, with the gold medal-winning U.S. men’s basketball “Dream Team” of 1992 a memorable early example of U.S. pros competing. Gradually nearly all sports have come to feature professionals competing, with boxing and wrestling having been the sole exceptions in the summer games.

Sprint over to ESPN for more on the approval.

Caesars Sells Minority Share of Ohio Casinos

Finally, to return briefly to the Caesars Entertainment Corp. front and its ongoing efforts to manage its more than $24 billion debt, last night it was announced Caesars had sold their remaining interest in several Ohio properties for an unspecified amount to Rock Gaming. The sale was for Caesars’ remaining 20% interest in the properties, of which Rock Gaming now has 100% ownership.

The sale included Caesars’ interest in the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland and the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, the Thistledown Racetrack Casino, and three other properties. While many of Caesars’ properties are controlled by the bankruptcy-filing Caesars Entertainment Operation Co., neither of the Horseshoe casinos in Ohio were part of that division.

Rock Ohio Ventures, a subsidiary of Rock Gaming, announced the transaction on Thursday. Caesars will still manage both the Horseshoe Cleveland and Horseshoe Cincinnati as before, as well as the Thistledown racino, which will all remain part of the company’s Total Rewards network.

When the 2014-2015 World Series of Poker Circuit schedule was first announced, a WSOP-C stop had been planned for Horseshoe Cincinnati in March. However a little over a week ago that stop was canceled and removed from the schedule.

In January Caesars Entertainment Operation Co., the largest operating division of Caesars Entertainment Corp., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Then earlier this month it was announced that Gary Loveman was stepping down from his long-held role as Caesars’ Chief Executive Officer to serve as chairman of Caesars Entertainment and Caesars Entertainment Operation Co. Mark Frissora, former CEO of Hertz Global Holdings, Inc., will take over as Caesars’ CEO on July 1.

Travel to to read more about the Caesars-Rock Gaming transaction.

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