This week’s installment of Inside Gaming catches you up on a few stories reported here at PokerNews this week involving Caesars, Unibet, and the ongoing NCAA men’s basketball tournament, then moves on to report on Connecticut’s plans for a third casino, the current state of Switzerland’s casinos, and the Vegas strip going dark this weekend.
ICYMI: Caesars’ Creditors, Unibet Upswing, and March Madness
There have been a few industry-related stories reported on of late here at PokerNews, not the least of which being the launch of PokerStars in New Jersey. Read about the initial soft launch and upcoming tournament schedule here:
- “Positive Reactions All Around About PokerStars Launch in New Jersey”
- “Check Out the PokerStars New Jersey Daily Tournament Schedule”
Meanwhile, here’s a brief “in case you missed it” rundown of other items of note from the past week:
Creditors Seek $5.1 Billion in Damages from Caesars
On Tuesday came a report that Caesars Entertainment Corp could be required to pay a whopping $5.1 billion to creditors. That’s the amount in potential damages being sought after a court-ordered examiner determined that several of the company’s dealings led to Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. (Caesars’ largest operating unit) having to file bankruptcy in January 2015.
The examiner, Richard Davis, found evidence that Caesars’ private equity backers Apollo Global Management and TPG Capital had begun as early as 2012 to make moves to help their position in case of the CEOC or another operating unit declaring bankruptcy. In fact Davis determined that as early as 2008 — not long after Apollo and TPG acquired Caesars (then Harrah’s) — the operating unit was already insolvent.
Read more about the examiner’s report and what may result from it in “Caesars Owners Could Be On the Hook for $5.1 Billion to Creditors.”
A Successful 2015 for Unibet
The Unibet Group plc shared its annual report this week, showing the online gambling company’s gross winning revenue was up a healthy 13.5% in 2015 thanks in part to the acquisition of other online businesses and their customers during the year.
Sports betting was a big contributor to Unibet having hit a new record of £354.1 million in gross winning revenue in 2015, up from £312 million the year before. Casino games also helped spur the upward move, while poker experienced a revenue decrease from the previous year.
Learn more about Unibet’s year and future prospects in “Big Year for Unibet: Record Revenues in 2015 Despite a Decline in Poker.”
Sports Bettors Welcome March Madness
This year’s NCAA Tournament started this week with play-in games beginning Tuesday and the round of 64 getting underway yesterday. In anticipation of “March Madness,” the American Gaming Association produced a report estimating that a whopping $9.2 billion will be wagered on the tournament this year, the great majority of which will be bet illegally.
The AGA estimates more than 70 million brackets have been filled out this week to be entered in pools and other contests with cash prizes. Last year the average bet per bracket was $29.
For more on the popularity of betting on the NCAA tournament, read “Betting Fever: March Madness Wagering Reaching New Heights.”
Tribes Contemplate Third Casino Connecticut
Lawmakers in Connecticut yesterday voted against a motion to continue pursuing a study to consider the introduction of a third casino in the state to join the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket and the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville (pictured above). But that move doesn’t mean a third casino isn’t in the future for the Nutmeg State — in fact, it may mean a third casino comes sooner than later.
The state’s Commerce Committee voted on whether or not to forward legislation to conduct a study of the potential cost and revenue of a third casino to the Finance Revenue and Bonding Committeee. The motion was voted down, meaning the legislation will not move forward. The vote was viewed as a victory by the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes who had both urged lawmakers not to proceed with such a study, believing it would unnecessarily delay the time needed to get a new casino built.
As reported by WWLP, a spokesman for MMCT Venture, a company formed by the two tribes, explained the desire to construct a new casino quickly in order to compete with the MGM Springfield casino scheduled to open in 2018 just across the border in Massachusetts.
“The issue at hand is simple,” explained the spokesman. “If we do nothing to compete against MGM Springfield, Connecticut will lose more than 9,000 jobs and over $100 million in state tax revenue.”
With the study having been shelved by lawmakers, the tribes can now move forward reviewing site proposals for the third casino. Meanwhile MGM, having joined with Connecticut’s Schaghticoke tribe, earlier filed a lawsuit against the state arguing they were not allowed to compete to build a casino in Connecticut. An obstacle for MGM concerns the Schaghticokes only being recognized on the state level and not federally which is a requirement for building a casino in the state.
Visit WWLP to learn more about the possibility of a third Connecticut casino.
Swiss Casinos Seek Changes to Spur Growth
This week the Swiss Federation of Casinos (SFC) released its annual report, showing the country’s 21 casinos had decreased in revenue yet again, falling more than 4% year-over-year. That marks the eighth-straight year of declines for Swiss casinos, but the SFC has ideas for how perhaps to turn the tide.
In October 2015 the country passed a new law allowing the country’s casinos to offer online gaming while also repealing a previous law banning residents from gambling online. But the SFC wants the government also to begin blocking offshore online gaming sites currently being visited by Swiss residents, a move that is expected to prevent those other sites from cutting into the potential profits for Swiss sites and their sponsoring casinos.
Additionally, the SFC is calling for casinos to be allowed to offer both lottery games and sports betting, while also arguing against possible legislation to allow poker tournaments to be offered outside of the country’s casinos.
Learn more about the SFC’s ideas to help Switzerland’s casinos in its report, Englished here.
Vegas Strip Going Dark... But Just for an Hour
If you’re on the Vegas strip this Saturday night, don’t be alarmed if things suddenly seem darker than they should be. That’s because many Strip casinos will be dimming their exterior lights for one hour in recognition of “Earth Hour,” a worldwide movement whose purpose is to draw attention to climate change.
Caesars Palace, the Luxor, MGM Grand, Planet Hollywood, the Excalibur, the Bellagio, the ARIA, and other casinos will all dim their lights from 8:30-9:30 p.m. local time on March 19. It’s the 10th year of “Earth Hour” and the seventh time Vegas strip casinos have taken part.
More than 7,000 cities around the world are expected to take part in the effort sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund.
Visit EarthHour.org for more information about the movement’s history and purpose.