Inside Gaming: Puerto Rico Lawmakers Pass Sports Betting Legislation

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The flag of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Follows States in Passing Sports Betting Bill

News of sports betting being introduced in many different states in the U.S. has dominated industry news over the last year. Indeed, it seems we can hardly get through an edition of "Inside Gaming" without mentioning yet another state having either passed new legislation and/or having launched sports betting.

This week we can share similar news regarding Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory located in the Caribbean about 1,000 miles from Florida. That's because lawmakers there have voted in favor of a measure to legalize both online gambling and sports betting in Puerto Rico, with only a signature from Governor Ricardo Roselló now needed for the law to pass. That step is expected, as Roselló has already expressed his support.

According to Yogonet Gaming News, both the Puerto Rico House and Senate passed the bill earlier this week which will permit betting on sporting events, fantasy sports, as well as eSports in both online and in land-based venues. Only amateur sporting events taking place on the island will be excluded.

The bill also provides for the creation of a new regulatory body to help oversee both new gambling as well as the territory's Horse Racing Industry Administration and the Gaming Division of the Tourism Office of the Department of Economic Development. The new law additionally outlines tax obligations while allowing for the new Gaming Commission to establish license fees as well as draw guidelines for who can obtain them.

As Legal Sports Report noted in April, Governor Rosselló supports the legislation, having then cited a study suggesting that revenue created could start at $29 million next year before increasing to $84 million by 2024.

Another study presented by Rosselló estimated the government could expect between $44-62M in annual revenue, all of which would be especially welcome in the wake of the territory's recent debt crisis and ongoing recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria which hit the island in September 2017.

Monitoring Eldorado-Caesars Merger Aftershocks

An earthquake with a 6.4 magnitude struck in Southern California yesterday, the effects of which were felt in Las Vegas as well with aftershocks continuing to be reported in the region.

Meanwhile figurative aftershocks continue to be felt throughout the industry following the blockbuster deal between Eldorado Resorts Inc. and Caesars Entertainment Corp. last month. The agreement saw Eldorado acquire and merge with Caesars in a cash-and-stock deal worth $17.3 billion (plus debt). When the deal is finalized in next year, the newly-formed company known as Caesars will be the largest gaming company in the U.S.

Earlier this week Seeking Alpha presented a detailed analysis of the deal speculating how it will affect both companies and the industry as a whole: "Eldorado Resorts: After Caesars Deal, Big Reward - And Bigger Risk."

The analysis discusses Eldorado's eventful progress over recent years while also considering how investors in both Eldorado and Caesars should be judging the merged company's prospects going forward, one important factor being how stable the U.S. gaming environment remains.

Meanwhile this week also addressed what analysts are saying about the deal in "Eldorado Enthusiasm: Analyst Forecasts Epic Move in Stock After Caesars Deal."

The upshot being described there appears to be "significant long-term benefits for the company post-acquisition," noting how even though Eldorado shares went down initially following the merger news, they've already rebounded and according to some forecasters will continue to do so.

The Las Vegas Sun has also shared a feature covering both Eldorado Resorts' past and future, "Reno gambling company poised to be US biggest."

The article recounts how Don Carano first opened the Eldorado Hotel Casino in downtown Reno in 1973, enjoying success from the start and eventually expanding the family business to more than two dozen properties across the U.S.

Following Carano's passing in 2017, the company is now managed by sons Anthony Carano (President and COO) and Gary Carano (Chairman) as well as Thomas Reeg (CEO). LVS spoke with all three to get a sense of where the company might be headed, in particular what its plans are for the nine Strip properties it has acquired from Caesars.

SLS Las Vegas Changes Name Back to Sahara

Finally, a familar name has recently returned to the Las Vegas Strip.

As dramatically revealed during a ceremony a little over a week ago, after several years the SLS Resort has changed its name back to the Sahara.

The Sahara first opened in 1952 and was part of the initial rise of iconic hotel-casino resorts on the famed Vegas Strip. Those who have seen the original Oceans 11 may recall how the Sahara was one of the locations featured in the film.

After being purchased by by Sam Nazarian and the Stockbridge Real Estate Group in 2007, the Sahara closed in 2011, then was reopened as SLS Las Vegas in 2013. Nazarian sold his interest in 2015, then later it came under new ownership after being acquired by the California-based Meruelo Group last year.

As The Los Angeles Times reports, owner Alex Meruelo was on hand to reveal the name change back to the Sahara, written "in all capital letters — amid fireworks and a light-flashing drone show that projected jackpot-winning slot reels (triple cherries and triple sevens) in the sky above."

In a statement Meruelo emphasized how the Sahara "played 'an important role in the evolution of the destination,' and pledged to continue that tradition 'for the love of Vegas.'"

The property continues to go through a $100 million renovation that includes upgrading the 1,615 hotel rooms, the casino, and the restaurants and bars.

Photo: "Flags of Puerto Rico and USA” (adapted), CC BY-SA 2.0.

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