Pennsylvania gambling not to affect Atlantic City casinos
Analysts from Fitch Ratings, a big 3 credit rating agency, have stated that Pennsylvania’s new expanded gambling law will not adversely affect Atlantic City’s attempts to climb back into the limelight.
At the end of October Pennsylvania law makers passed legislation to allow 10 satellite casinos to be built in the state, together with approving slot and video poker machines at truck stops and airports.
Back in 2006, when Atlantic City was at the height of its glory and held a near complete monopoly on regional gambling, pulling down $3.8 billion in revenue per year, gambling was illegal in the three neighboring states, with the exception of two horse tracks in Delaware and a motor speedway with some electronic gaming terminals, making Atlantic City the de facto regional king.
Since then, gambling has slowly spread across the region, with slots and table games allowed in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York State. Pennsylvania’s recent decision to expand gambling via offering licenses to the state’s existing casino operators to open satellite casinos outside the already saturated urban areas is not likely to directly impact Atlantic City visitor numbers, say analysts.
Fitch Gaming, Lodging and Leisure analyst Colin Mansfield told the Press of Atlantic City, “Honestly, it’s hard to lose the same revenue twice.” In essence, he explained, patrons gambling closer to home have already found their slots and the new satellite casinos, as they are outside the already saturated urban centers, are not likely to substantially draw away visitors that had previously chosen Atlantic City.
At the same time, hope is in the air for an Atlantic City revival. With the former Trump Taj Mahal set to open in the summer of 2018 as the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, in a move that is expected to attract a younger crowd back to the city by the sea, analysts have been cautiously optimistic regarding a rebound in visitor numbers for the dwindling city.
Gambling firms make legal moves ahead of expected ruling on US sports betting
Last September, Scientific Games announced their intended acquisition of NYX Gaming, a move that William Hill has threatened to block as it owns 32% of NYX’s shares after NYX purchased OpenBet in 2016.
“William Hill confirms that it has issued a conversion notice to convert its holding of convertible preference shares and has commenced legal action in order that it may also vote such shares at the special meeting of shareholders,” the company said in a statement.
While it looks like run of the mill corporate squabbling over an acquisition, behind the scenes things may not be so simple.
A week later the NYX Gaming Group filed an anti-trust lawsuit against William Hill claiming that the bookmaking firm was intentionally trying to stop the acquisition to maintain its own market share ahead of an expected December ruling by the United States Supreme Court that punters hope will legalize sports betting nationwide.
“William Hill has engaged in wrongful conduct in violation of the New Jersey Antitrust Act in attempting to block the Acquisition, which will bring great benefits to the nascent regulated sports betting industry,” NYX Gaming said in a statement.
Fighting back against William Hill, Scientific Games has filed its own lawsuit in the state of Nevada, claiming the London based bookmaking giant is trying to limit fair competition were sports betting to become legal. The suit basically reiterates the claims made by NYX in New Jersey.
At the core of the issue is the fact that Scientific Games is in the position to become the exclusive third-party distributor of the sports betting platform NYX is developing, positioning it to quickly gobble up market share were the Supreme Court to open the flood gates on legalized sports betting across the country.
California card room fined millions
Last week the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced a whopping $8 million civil fine for the operators of one of the state’s oldest and largest gaming venues, Artichoke Joe’s Casino in San Bruno, for failure to enforce anti money laundering (AML) laws.
Jamal El-Hindi, acting director of FinCEN said, “for years, Artichoke Joe’s turned a blind eye to loan sharking, suspicious transfers of high-value gaming chips, and flagrant criminal activity that occurred in plain sight.” He went on to add that the size of the fine was determined based on the frequency and severity of the offences, as well as the casino’s “deficient culture of compliance”.
Artichoke Joe’s Casino was raided by Federal agents back in March 2011, a move that lead to the arrest of two Artichoke Joe’s customers for offering “extortionate and unlawful credit”, otherwise known as loan sharking. When asked about the illegal activity in his casino, the facilities manager is reported to have told authorities “It’s a casino. There’s always [expletive] loan-sharks.”
Artichoke Joe’s is not the first California casino to be fined for poor AML compliance. In July 2016, FinCEN reached a $2.8 million settlement with Hawaiian Gardens Casino for repeated violations of the Bank Secrecy Act.
That same year, Normandie Casino in Gardena was forced to dole out $2.5 million to resolve its own AML issues. A month earlier FinCEN pulled down $650,000 from the Oaks Card Club in Emeryville for similar AML compliance violations and temporarily shut down the Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Los Angles for money laundering violations.
UK local council accuses pensioners of running illegal £1 bingo ring
The Council that oversees the Harry Taylor House sheltered housing complex in Redditch, Worcestershire, has warned a group of pensioners who gather for Monday night bingo that their £1 bingo matches violate UK gambling laws and are illegal.
Every week the retired residents gather and pay £1 to enter the bingo tournament with the winner taking home the prize. The pool from games on Tuesday nights goes to pay for tea and cookies and into a fund for resident’s outings. When the Council heard of the games it informed the residents that their activities were illegal, in violation of the UK’s Private Gaming Law and would need to stop.
“It’s stupid, we only play for peanuts,” 76-year-old resident Maureen Price told the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper. “The money raised is saved and used for outings and things, like our Christmas party.”
The bingo games have been a regular part of the pensioners’ recreational activities for over 38 years. Resident Hazel Cooke, 77, told the Daily Mail, “There is a real social aspect to the bingo nights which is nice to have, I just hope the event hasn’t been tainted by the Council’s decision.”