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Star Entertainment Submits Proposal to Merge with Crown Resorts

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Star Entertainment Submits Proposal to Merge with Crown Resorts
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Australia’s Star Entertainment Group has submitted a conditional, non-binding, indicative proposal to merge with Crown Resorts.

According to details released via the ASX, the proposal values Crown’s shares in excess of AU$14 per share – exceeding the value put forward by competing bids in recent weeks which value Crown at closer to AU$12 per share.

Those competing bids include a revised offer from American multinational private equity and hedge fund giant The Blackstone Group, received over the weekend, which increases its bid from an original AU$11.85 per share to AU$12.35 per share.

US global asset management firm Oaktree Capital Management L.P. has also proposed a AU$3 billion offer to acquire the 37% stake in Crown currently held by James Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings.

However, Star has outlined its case for a merger, with the offer representing a share exchange ratio of 2.68 The Star shares per Crown share with a cash alternative of AU$12.50 per Crown share for up to 25% of Crown’s issued share capital.

“Based on recent trading values of The Star and the substantial value that would be unlocked by a merger, The Star estimates its pro forma share price to be more than AU$5 per share, implying potential value of the Scrip Consideration in excess of AU$14 per Crown share,” it said.

The Star said it believes a merger represents a “compelling value proposition for all shareholders by creating a national tourism and entertainment leader with a world-class portfolio of integrated resorts with enhanced scale and geographic earnings diversification, significant balance sheet strength and free cash flow generation.”

It would also allow for AU$150 million to AU$200 million in cost synergies per annum with an estimated net value of AU$2 billion.

“A merger of The Star and Crown would result in significant scale and diversification and unlock an estimated AU$2 billion in net value from synergies,” Star Chairman John O’Neill said.

“With a portfolio of world-class properties across four states in Australia’s most attractive and populated catchment areas and tourism hubs, the combined group would be a compelling investment proposition and one of the largest and most attractive integrated resort operators in the Asia Pacific region.”

According to Star, a merger would also open the door for potential sale and leaseback opportunities on some of the group’s enhanced property portfolio – leaving the door open for the likes of Blackstone and Oaktree to acquire assets in the future.

Crown said it has not yet formed a view on the merits of the proposal and will commence an assessment process on its merits.

Australia

PUBLIC HEARINGS TO BE HELD AS PART OF THE STAR CASINO’S LICENCE REVIEW

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PUBLIC HEARINGS TO BE HELD AS PART OF THE STAR CASINO'S LICENCE REVIEW
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Public hearings will be carried out early next year as part of a review of The Star Casino.

The review, which is considering how effectively The Star is complying with its statutory obligations and whether it remains suitable to hold a casino licence, started four weeks ago after Adam Bell SC was appointed by the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA).

Mr Bell has advised ILGA that he considers it in the public’s interest to hold public hearings on matters including but not limited to The Star’s maintenance and administration of systems to counter money laundering and infiltration by organised crime.

ILGA is fully supportive of Mr Bell’s decision, with hearings expected to be held in March 2022. The publicly available report will be due to ILGA by 30 June 2022.

Regular reviews of casinos in NSW are required under the Casino Control Act. The last review of The Star was conducted in 2016 by Jonathan Horton QC.

 

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Australia

Star Sydney Casino Reopens After Three-month Closure

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Star Entertainment has confirmed that the Star Sydney has been allowed to reopen for fully vaccinated customers. The venue will operate at a limited capacity of 1 person per 4 square metres indoors and 1 person per 2 square metres outside.

Casino guests will also be ordered to wear masks and to remain seated while eating or drinking. All of Star Sydney’s staff have been fully vaccinated. It is expected restrictions will be eased once New South Wales reaches an 80% vaccination rate.

Meanwhile, Star Queensland has increased its capacity to 1 person per 2 square metres. Patrons no longer have to be seated while eating or drinking. However, the wearing of masks remains mandatory indoors.

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Australia

Australia: NATIONAL RESEARCH REVEALS ONLINE HABITS DOUBLE IN A DECADE

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Australia: NATIONAL RESEARCH REVEALS ONLINE HABITS DOUBLE IN A DECADE
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A two-year gambling study has revealed more Australians than ever are reaching for their phone to have a punt, with the number of online gamblers doubling in the past decade.

The Second National Study of Interactive Gambling in Australia surveyed more than 15,000 Australians and found 17.5 per cent of adults had gambled online in 2019, up from 8.1 per cent in 2010.

The study, funded by Gambling Research Australia, found that overall gambling participation decreased from 64.3 per cent in 2010, to 56.9 per cent in 2019.

Professor Nerilee Hing, from CQUniversity’s Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory said Australia’s most popular forms of online gambling were lotteries (10.1 per cent of adults), race betting (5.9 per cent) and sports betting (5.8 per cent).

“This growth in online gambling has been driven by faster internet speeds, the convenience of betting on smartphone apps, extensive advertising and inducements, and new betting options like multi-bets,” Professor Hing said.

“New online activities have also been introduced, including e-sports, fantasy sports, skin gambling, and loot boxes.”

The study found the average online gambler was likely to be a young male, better educated than the average Australian, in a de facto relationship, and to gamble across multiple activities.

The Commonwealth and State/Territory Governments are currently implementing the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering (the National Framework).

The intent of the National Framework is to bring Australian consumer protection measures up to date, to ensure they reflect best practice nationally, and are consistent across jurisdictions. The National Framework consists of 10 consumer protection measures that aim to reduce gambling harm.

This was also the first national study to examine the negative consequences of gambling for gamblers, their family and friends.

Overall, 9.1 per cent of Australian adults experienced some level of harm from their own gambling and 6.0 per cent from another person’s gambling. Online gamblers were twice as likely as land-based only gamblers to experience harm.

The findings from this study will further inform online gambling policy and consumer protection measures across Australia.

Gambling Research Australia is a national gambling research partnership between Commonwealth, State and Territory governments, and chaired by the NSW Government. GRA funds projects of national significance and contributed more than $1 million towards the Second National Study of Interactive Gambling in Australia.

CQUniversity’s Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory is a research initiative to support understanding of games of chance, through experiment, simulation, and observation.

Second National Study of Interactive Gambling in Australia researchers included CQUniversity team members Dr Alex Russell, Professor Matthew Rockloff, Professor Matthew Browne, Nancy Greer and Vijay Rawat, International researcher Dr Anne Salonen (National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland), Associate Professor Nicki Dowling and Dr Stephanie Merkouris (Deakin University), Dr Matthew Stevens (Charles Darwin University), Associate Professor Daniel King (Flinders University), and Linda Woo (former Executive Director of Policy and Projects, Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General).

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