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Gambling in the USA

Gaming Americas Weekly Roundup – May 3-9

Niji Narayan

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Welcome to our weekly roundup of American gambling news again! It was again an eventful week in the USA, despite the still-active virus attack.

Here, we are going through the weekly highlights of the American gambling industry which include the latest news, new acquisitions and compliance updates. Read on and get updated.

Latest News

Playtech has partnered with Parx Interactive and Gun Lake Casino to launch Play Gun Lake, a new iGaming app for Michigan. The iGaming app will be powered by Playtech’s IMS platform and Player Account Management (PAM) and will feature Playtech proprietary iGaming content.

Wynn Resorts has announced that its two Las Vegas Strip casinos – Wynn and Encore – will return to full capacity, effective immediately. The group said it received the green light to operate at 100% from the Nevada Gaming Control Board after reporting that 88% of its employees had been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

BetMGM has announced the launch of BetMGM Poker and Borgata Poker in Pennsylvania, giving customers access to benefits tied to Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa in Atlantic City as well as other MGM Resorts’ casino-resorts nationwide. Pennsylvania is the third state to introduce BetMGM Poker and the second to introduce Borgata Poker, both powered by partypoker US Network.

The Washington State Gambling Commission has reached a tentative agreement with the Suquamish Tribe to amend its Class III gaming compact to add sports wagering. The Tribe operates its III gaming facility located on the Kitsap Peninsula on the Port Madison Indian Reservation. This is the second sports wagering tentative agreement in the state and this amendment establishes the framework for sports wagering at the Tribe’s Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort.

Penn National Gaming has launched Penn Game Studios, an in-house content development team focused on creating exclusive iCasino content for its customers. To fuel this effort, the Company is acquiring HitPoint Studios and its spun-off real money gaming company LuckyPoint. The acquisition is expected to close in the near term, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

PointsBet Holdings has announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary PointsBet Michigan has been authorised by the Michigan Gaming Control Board to commence iGaming operations and has launched its proprietary iGaming platform in that state. The launch of PointsBet’s iGaming operations follows the launch of Sports Wagering in Michigan on 22 January 2021. PointsBet plans to launch iGaming in New Jersey in June.

Financial Report

Caesars Entertainment has reported the operating results for the first quarter of 2021. Net revenue is $1.7 billion, an increase of 259.2% on a GAAP basis and a decrease of 16.0% on a same-store basis versus the comparable prior-year period.

New Acquisition

Catena Media has acquired Lineups.com, an online sports affiliation company. The total purchase price amounts to USD 39.6 million, payable in cash in three installments during a two-year period. An additional contingent cash payment of USD 0.5 million is payable if certain requirements are fulfilled within three years of the transaction date.

Compliance Update

Free Bets US is now licensed in New Jersey to market online sportsbooks and casinos with New Jersey Vendor ID 0092299. Being licensed in New Jersey as a vendor allows Free Bets US to generate commissions from online sportsbooks such as BetMGM and Borgata by promoting Free Bets in NJ.

EveryMatrix Press Releases

EveryMatrix opens games studio in Miami

George Miller

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EveryMatrix opens games studio in Miami
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EveryMatrix is pleased to announce its first iGaming development investment in the United States. Armadillo Studios will be part of EveryMatrix Group and based at the company’s headquarters in Miami, Florida.

Armadillo Studios is set to develop online casino games based on the U.S. market-specific game logic and player preferences. Managed by Razvan Haiduc as Chief Executive Officer and David Stoveld as Chief Operations Officer, Armadillo Studios is currently starting an extensive recruitment process for key roles in product development and design.

Razvan Haiduc joined EveryMatrix’s payments division in 2019 after a 5-year stint in iSoftBet and has since occupied several management roles across EveryMatrix.

David Stoveld is a well-known casino games producer with an impressive track record in established companies such as Scientific Games, NetEnt, Yggdrasil and Kalamba Games.

Ebbe Groes, Group CEO of EveryMatrix, says: “We’re more than happy to contribute to U.S. gaming culture with a wide portfolio of casino games which will be managed entirely by our team in Miami. Having Razvan and Dave in the studio’s management team brings us confidence that we can be a leading casino supplier in the U.S. market by 2023.”

Erik Nyman, President Americas at EveryMatrix, says: “I have seen the need for American focused games for years, and I am happy that EveryMatrix responds to the market’s call. I am very excited that David Stoveld, who I worked with in the past will be the creative lead and Razvan managing these efforts. It is a great pleasure having them here in our U.S. Headquarters close to our customers.”

Razvan Haiduc, CEO of Armadillo Studios, adds: “The U.S. market holds a lot of promises, and I am sure that investing in this direction is the right move for us. Armadillo’s games will bring loads of excitement and entertainment to casino aficionados across states. Dave and I will be building the American Dream together along with Erik and the rest of the team at our U.S. headquarters in Miami later this summer.”

After launching Spearhead Studios and RGS Matrix in 2020 and investing in Lady Luck Games earlier this year, a company set to list on NASDAQ First North Growth Market on June 23, 2021, Armadillo Studios is EveryMatrix’s third significant investment in games development.

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Gambling in the USA

Gold Coin Studios Signs Deal with Microgaming

Niji Narayan

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Gold Coin Studios Signs Deal with Microgaming
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Microgaming, the world’s premier gaming software provider based in Isle of Man, has signed an exclusive distribution agreement Gold Coin Studios, a US-based online casino developer.

Gold Coin Studios has games listed in the Microgaming platform, such as Arthur’s Gold™, Aquatic Treasures™, Animals of Africa™ and Bushi Sushi™.

As part of the new agreement, the US developer launched an exciting new adventure Silver Seas™ on the platform. Another release, Treasure Tracks™, is expected to arrive in July this year.

“All of us here at Gold Coin Studios are thrilled to work with Microgaming and have had a brilliant experience so far. Our extensive land-based gaming experience has given us a great base to work from and we can’t wait for you to see what we’ve got coming up!”  John Duffy, CEO at Gold Coin Studios, said.

“Gold Coin Studios have already given us some great games over the past year since they joined Microgaming. I’m looking forward to seeing them continue to cement their place in our roster of exclusive studios.” – Andrew Booth, Director of Games at Microgaming, added.

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Gambling in the USA

Casinos in Pennsylvania Can Now Return to Full Capacity

George Miller

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Casinos in Pennsylvania Can Now Return to Full Capacity
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Memorial Day 2021 might be a big day for casinos in Pennsylvania. Operators within this jurisdiction were beset by the state’s orders issued on Memorial Day 2020.

The casinos were forced to shut down operations in a bid to contain the spread of the notorious coronavirus. However, according to statements made by Governor Wolf, the PA state government will be lifting all Covid-19 related restrictions apart from mask-wearing.

Governor Tom Wolf recently made a statement that PA casinos can resume 100% operations on Memorial Day. With the ban on restaurants and bars being lifted, the industry expects to witness a significant turnabout.

Review the map of Pennsylvania casinos found here. Then you could decide whether to promote the companies now that they’re back in business.

Philly Set to Review State Plan
After the Governor’s statement concerning the lift of Covid-19 bans in the state, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley didn’t confirm whether the City of Philadelphia would follow suit. But, according to him, the Commission will have to review the state plan before giving a green light.

These statements from Farley triggered a violent reaction from the City’s council members. The furious council members argued that they are counting on the Farley’s reopening the City because Live Casino Philadelphia and Rivers Casino Philadelphia are within the City’s boundaries. As such, they are bound by the Commission’s rules.

There Lacks Absolute Certainty
You will realize that the operative word in these statements is “can.” Following last year’s closure of casinos in Pennsylvania for a hundred days, the PA Gaming Board released Covid-19 protocols for reopening.

However, with Wolf allowing these casinos to resume 100% operation, it remains unclear what the operators will do in light of added safety and health measures the gaming board put in place.

With many residents getting vaccinated and brick-and-mortar casinos resuming operation at 100% capacity, they have already begun hiring personnel. Valley Forge Casino was the first to hold a job fair. Other casinos in Pennsylvania have followed suit, with most posting job advertisements on social media.

Pennsylvania Casino Revenue Plunged in 2020
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, PA casinos witnessed a total of 1,500 closure days, about a third of the number of days they would have run normally cumulatively. With revenue from land-based casinos plummeting by about half, casino revenues in PA were bound to drop.

The State Gaming Control Board reported that fantasy sports operators and all the land-based casinos in the state generated a total of $2.65 billion last year, a significant (22%) drop from 2019’s year’s $3 billion collected from 12 casinos.

Land-Based Casinos Rebuild
At this point, it is worth noting that Pennsylvania is the second-largest gaming and gambling industry in the U.S after Nevada. The margin between these two states has grown wider since casinos in Nevada were legally allowed to offer full-scale iGaming services during the pandemic.

With the closure of brick-and-mortar wagering houses, gamblers turned to online casinos. These virtual casinos collected a gross iGaming revenue of slightly above half a billion dollars in 2020. However, since interactive iGaming platforms went live in mid-2019, there was no year-to-year comparison.

Wolf’s closure of brick-and-mortar casinos began in March last year, and gradual reopening commenced in June. By that time, the gaming revenue had dropped significantly. Table games and slots from developers like Relax Gaming generated a revenue of $1.86 billion last year. That was a 43% drop ($1.4 billion) from $3.26 billion gross gaming revenue recorded in 2019.

In light of the current developments, PA land-based casinos are getting ready to get back into business at full capacity. Pennsylvania National Gaming, the oldest operator in PA, will be launching two more venues, one in Morgantown and the other in York, later this year. According to the casino’s Q1 2021 report, it is currently experiencing high demand across the nationwide portfolio.

PA Residents Expected to Keep their Masks On
Wolf made it clear that lifting the bans did not mean that residents can return to the streets without wearing masks. Despite being vaccinated already, residents are expected to wear their mask when walking into land-based casinos.

The Governor says that he will lift the mandatory mask wearing order after 70% of the adults in the state has been vaccinated. According to the state Department of Health, about 50.1% of the adults had received at least one dose of the Covid-19 jab by May 6. In addition, 32.2% of the adults are fully vaccinated by taking a single dose of Johnson & Johnson or two Pfizer or Moderna vaccines doses.

The state department of health continues to make progress in the fight against Covid-19. With the evolving CDC guidance and more residents getting vaccinated, the state is committed to seeing its reopening efforts come to fruition.

However, the health agency is still calling upon Pennsylvanians to take all the necessary steps required to eradicate Covid-19, which means masking, social distancing, sanitizing, frequent hand washing and receiving vaccines.

Some Casinos are Enduring Better than Others
While not a single PA casino has managed to match pre-Covid revenue performance, the experience is different for each operator. In March, for instance, the statewide plunge in table and slots revenue from 2019 for casinos that had been in operation for at least two years was 21.5%, but Meadows went down 35.8%, Wind Creek 32,8%, and Mohegan Sun 13.9%.

McCraken and Frabbiele, two casinos on the opposite sides of Pennsylvania, both reported that part of their problems had to do with being in close proximity with other states that had adopted less restrictive measures. Meadows is also facing new competition from Live! Pittsburgh, a young but promising casino.

With the state allowing PA casinos to drop the 6-foot social distancing order and the resumption of full operation on May 31, operators within the state are filled with hope. According to state statistics, about 5,000 slot machines were not in operation as of March 2021 compared with March 2019.

The number of table game players had also been reduced from six to three. Casino executives suggest that cautious players be allowed to sit at a reserved table with three seats while others play on 6-player tables.
To surmise, PA casino operators need to be fully aware that the post-Covid world remains undefined.

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