MGM withdrawal, Dutch delay, and World Poker Tour: the week in numbers

Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. Today, we take a look at a further Dutch delay, UKGC data, World Poker Tour sale, continued COVID impacts and MGM’s Entain withdrawal.

0.6

MGM Resorts International issued an update after casting acquisitive glances towards global gaming and betting firm Entain, stating that it does not intend to submit a revised proposal and that it will not make a firm offer for the group.

The US casino operator, who is in partnership with Entain for the BetMGM brand, says that the decision came “after careful consideration” and having reflected on the limited recent engagement between the two companies regarding its rejected all stock proposal at an exchange ratio of 0.6x.

MGM says that it remains committed to being a premier global omni-channel gaming and entertainment company, and will maintain a disciplined framework while evaluating “a range of compelling strategic opportunities”.

1

Dutch regulator, Kansspelautoriteit, has announced another delay in the implementation of the country’s Remote Gambling Act, this time nudging its aforementioned timeline back by one month.

This means that the Act will enter into force on Thursday 1 April, one month later than the previously stipulated date of Monday 1 March which itself represented the latest in a number of delays.

That date at the turn of March constituted a two month delay from a revised January 1, 2021, date, which itself was pushed back six months from July 1, 2020.

Sander Dekker, minister for legal protection, who is responsible for games of chance policy, has confirmed the latest delay in a letter to the Dutch House of Representatives.

This revised timeline means that from April 1, 2021, license applications can be submitted to the Gaming Authority for the provision of online games of chance in the Netherlands. The online gambling market will open six months later, October 1, 2021.

3,000

The UK Gambling Commission says that its latest data shows that across the population as a whole “there is no evidence of a significant or sustained increase in gambling activity” during the COVID-19 period.

The comments come as the regulator publishes further data documenting how the renewed tightening of lockdown measures has impacted gambling behaviour in Great Britain.

Reasserting the necessity for operators to demonstrate extra vigilance during the current climate, as outlined last week by Neil McArthur, chief executive of the UKGC, the latest data reflects the period between March and November, inclusive, and covers both online gambling and consumer research.

Overall, the regulator states that “there has not been a significant or sustained increase in gambling activity since the COVID-19 pandemic began”.

Taking the data from a nationally representative sample of over 3,000 adults, six in ten say the amount they gamble has been unaffected by COVID-19, with 27 per cent reporting a decrease and 13 per cent documenting a rise in activity.

78.25

Allied Esports Entertainment has sold the World Poker Tour to private investment group Element Partners in a transaction that could be worth up to $78.25m.

The purchase, approved by the Allied Esports Entertainment board of directors, is expected to close in late January or early February 2021, assuming the company’s shareholders approve the deal and following required regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

Under the terms of the agreement, $68.25m will be paid upfront, with a fully guaranteed revenue share of five per cent of WPT-branded tournament entry fees on Element-owned or licensed gaming platforms, up to a maximum of $10m, payable over three years after closing.

Furthermore, Allied Esports is also exploring strategic options, including a sale, for its esports business, however, no potential or particular buyer has been identified and there are no initial or ongoing negotiations in respect of a potential divestment.

72

HSBC UK and its first direct division have increased the cooling off period to their gambling block feature, with the restriction extended from a 24 hour period to 72 hours.

The self-restriction tool, which prevents customers from being able to make gambling payments on their accounts after it’s switched on, will automatically decline any gambling transactions for three days, as the group aims to “help people control their urge to gamble”.

Available to HSBC UK and first direct customers with an active debit card, the option can be switched on via the ‘Manage Cards’ section of the mobile app, as well as via telephone banking or by going into a branch.

2.8

Shareholders of Enlabs have said that an offer of SEK 2.8bn, equivalent to approximately £250m, made by Entain “materially undervalues the company”.

Inking a letter to fellow shareholders of the firm, Alta Fox Capital Management, which currently owns 2,332,625 shares, representing 3.34 per cent of total shares outstanding, states that it does not plan to tender any shares at the current offer price of 40 SEK each.

Signed off by Connor Haley, managing partner of Alta Fox Capital Management, the group is joined in its rejection stance by a number of fellow individuals which boasts a combined over 10 per cent interest in the group.

14

Holland Casino has announced the continued closure of its roster of gaming establishments after the Netherlands’ government extended current lockdown measures until at least Tuesday 9 February 2021.

The company saw the doors close across its portfolio of casinos on December 14, 2020, as the Dutch government placed the country into “its strictest lockdown yet”. This followed previous closures in March 2020 as part of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This latest announcement sees Holland Casino forced to keep all 14 branches in Amsterdam-West, Amsterdam Center, Utrecht, Rotterdam, Scheveningen, Zandvoort, Groningen, Leeuwarden, Nijmegen, Enschede, Valkenburg, Venlo, Eindhoven and Breda closed until the aforementioned date, unless another extension follows.

150

Affinity Gaming is merging with a newly formed special purpose acquisition company, which plans to raise between $150m and $175m through an initial public offering.

Gaming & Hospitality Acquisition Corp, a newly organised blank check company, filed the S-1 form with the US Securities and Exchange Commission late last week, and plans to merge with its sponsor, Affinity Gaming Holdings, and at least one other company.

The firm says that it has not yet selected any specific business combination target, nor has anyone on its behalf initiated any substantive discussions, directly or indirectly, with any such target.

It said that its efforts to identify a prospective business combination target will not be limited to a particular geographic region, but that it intends to focus on business in the gaming and hospitality sectors.

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