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Inside Gaming: Nevada Jan. Win Tops $1 Billion Despite Strip Decline

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  • It's a decrease year-over-year, but Nevada total gaming win tops $1B for first time in 12 months.

  • A new casino opens in NY; Stars Group acquires majority of CrownBet; EU Court rules against Hungary.

This week's Inside Gaming begins with the latest monthly revenue report from Nevada, reports on a new casino opening in New York, tells of an online gambling company's acquisition of a majority share in a popular sportsbook, and shares news about a ruling in Hungary regarding its online gambling laws.

Nevada Total Gaming Win Exceeds $1 Billion in January

The Nevada Gaming Control Board released its monthly report this week, showing casinos in the Silver State enjoyed a collective gaming win of just over $1 billion in January — the first time since January 2017 the total has topped the billion-dollar threshold.

To be specific, the total gaming win as reported by the state's nonrestricted gaming licenses was just over $1.105 billion, down a little more than 2 percent from the $1.036 billion win of January 2017 but the highest total since then. Meanwhile casinos on the Las Vegas Strip were down almost 8.9 percent year-over-year, reporting a $554.7M total gaming win versus the $608.9M from the previous January.

As the Las Vegas Sun reports, Michael Lawton, senior research analyst with the Tax and License Division of the NGCB, noted how this year January had one less weekend day than a year ago. That Chinese New Year — "a major tourist draw" — came in January this year and February this year also likely affected the casinos' bottom line.

Downtown casinos were up 1.76 percent. Also seeing increases were those in Washoe County (up 11.14 percent), Elko County (up 16.95 percent), the Carson Valley Area (up 7.21 percent), and South Lake Tahoe (up 14.83 percent).

Nevada sportsbooks were way up for the month compared to a year ago, with a total win of almost $25.1 million, up nearly 216 percent over the just under $8 million from the previous January. The overall amount wagered was down, however, from $455.2 million to $418.6 million. Those numbers don't include this year's Super Bowl which took place the first Sunday of February.

New Casino Opens in Upstate New York

Upstate New York's newest casino opened its doors Thursday morning, the Point Place Casino in Bridgeport.

The $40 million casino operated by the Oneida Nation is located off Route 31. At 65,000-square-feet, the property features 500 slot machines, 20 table games, two restaurants, two bars, a bakery, and an 800-car parking lot. Plans are in place for local bands to perform in The casino's lounge.

According to Syracuse.com, there were hundreds lined up to be the first inside once doors opened at 10 a.m. yesterday, with the first 1,000 receiving free t-shirts.

The Oneida Nation additionally operates the similarly-sized Yellow Brick Road Casino in Chittenango and the larger Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona.

The Stars Group Acquires Majority Share of CrownBet

On Tuesday The Stars Group announced it had acquired a 62 percent equity interest in the Australia-based online sportsbook CrownBet Holdings Pty Limited. According to a press release, the acquisition was completed "for an aggregate amount of approximately $117.7 million."

The all-cash transaction saw The Stars Group partnering with other CrownBet shareholders to complete the purchase. CrownBet's founder and current CEO Matthew Tripp will continue in his position operating the business, while The Stars Group may appoint a majority to the board of directors.

Completion of the acquisition is pending approval by the Northern Territory Racing Commission.

"We are excited to enter the regulated Australian sportsbook market with CrownBet," said Rafi Ashkenazi, CEO of The Stars Group, who additionally praised the sportsbook's "strong management team, proprietary technology, mobile app, unique partnerships and market-leading loyalty program."

As The Australian Financial Review opines, the acquisition will "likely" herald an effort by The Stars Group "to push for online poker games to be legalised in Australia."

In August 2017, lawmakers in Australia passed the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016, after which all major international operators were forced to exit the country.

EU Court Rules Against Hungary in Online Gambling Dispute

Finally, on Wednesday the Court of Justice for the European Union ruled against Hungary in a case brought by U.K.-based online operator Sporting Odds Ltd. after it had been fined for serving Hungarian players without a license.

The EU court found that Hungary's requirement restricting online gambling operators also to provide a land-based offering was in violation of Article 56 of the European Union Treaty. The ruling both absolves Sporting Odds Ltd. and prevents the Hungarian government from similarly prohibiting other EU online operators from providing services in Hungary.

Intergame reports the European Gamingn and Betting Association "welcomed the ruling... stating that it 'is a significant step in providing further legal clarity to online gambling regulation in Europe.'"

This week's ruling also confirms an earlier one by the CJEU that member states "cannot bring any enforcement action, including any form of administrative sanctions such as fines and blocking measures, against EU-licensed online gaming operators if the national legislation is in breach of EU law."

The Stars Group owns a majority shareholding in iBus Media.

Photo: "Night aerial view, Las Vegas Strip," Carol M. Highsmith (public domain).

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