Yggdrasil and ReelPlay partner for new release

Yggdrasil and ReelPlay have partnered to deliver the latter’s latest release; Festival 10K Ways.

The game features the Chinese lucky charm symbol Fu, with the 6-reel, 10,000 ways slot offering wins up to 10,000x by way of the Bonus Respins feature. It aims to ‘bring good fortune’ to players wanting to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

The game is the latest title that contains ReelPlay’s proprietary IP to be produced as part of the YG Masters portfolio. This follows on from releases Arr! 10K Ways and Bananaz 10K Ways.

“This celebratory slot promises to offer good fortune to anyone wishing to immerse themselves in this beautifully designed Asian-inspired release,” said Yggdrasil Head of Product & Programmes Stuart McCarthy.

“With up to 10,000 ways to win and thrilling chains of explosions to further post-payout potential, we fully expect ReelPlay’s latest 10K Ways game to be a huge hit with operators and players alike.”

As is the case with all YG Masters titles, the latest release is powered by Gati, Yggdrasil’s technology that enables partners to employ the standardised development toolkit to produce content, followed by quick distribution.

ReelPlay CEO David Johnson commented: “Festival 10K Ways is the latest instalment in our proprietary 10K Ways franchise. The 10K Ways series has fast become recognisable and trusted by operators and players alike. 

“Festival 10K Ways is a simple yet infinitely re-playable game offering exciting features and solid mechanics, wrapped in a sensitively considered and best-in-class production of art, animation and sound.”

Source: https://www.gamblinginsider.com/news/19781/yggdrasil-and-reelplay-partner-for-new-release

Monte Carlo casino operator recharged after turbulent times

Last week, operator of Casino de Monte-Carlo, Société des Bains de Mer, reported a strong increase in revenue for the first six months of 2022/2023. Here, Gambling Insider dives into the figures and looks at what drove a successful half-year of growth for the casino operator.

Last year (2021/2022), a year still feeling the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, Société des Bains de Mer’s H1 dip in results was no surprise. Although lower than the casino’s pre-pandemic €408.6m H1 results for 2019/2020, reporting €311.4m ($327.4m) in revenue for half-year was not as bad as it could have been given the slew of lockdowns gripping European nations at the time. 

The operator of what is arguably Europe’s most iconic casino would, therefore, have been delighted to see €432.3m reported for H1 2022/2023, an amount greater than that reported in H1 two years prior – a pre-pandemic era.  

The result of strong revenue for the latest half-year means operating profit has risen to €91.9m, an increase on the €50.1m profit reported for the first six months of last year. What’s more significant is profit, just like revenue, is up on the company’s pre-pandemic H1 2019/2020 figure of €69.4m. 

This marked difference is made evident in the casino’s impressive income for H1 2022/2023, taking €918.8m. The year-on-year upturn is vast; the Casino de Monte-Carlo only generated €45.6m for the first six months of the fiscal year 2021/2022.  

Of the operator’s segments, a rise in revenue from hotel services, understandably, saw the greatest growth. The Casino de Monte-Carlo saw hotel revenue hit €235.4m in H1 2022/2023, compared to €140m for the prior-year period. This represents a 68% rise in revenue year-on-year.  

Revenue from gaming was up, rising from €112.6m in H1 2021/2022 to €131.3m in the half year 2022/2023. Although a rise, this growth is not as impressive as that from the operator’s hotel segment, perhaps reflecting customers’ renewed willingness to travel, but not necessarily gamble.  

However, things weren’t all rosy for Société des Bains de Mer’s casino resort on the French Riviera. The operator reported a negative financial result of -€2.3m for H1 2022/2023, a larger negative amount than the -€1.5m reported for the same period last year. 

This marked difference is made evident in the casino’s impressive income for H1 2022/2023, taking €918.8m. The year-on-year upturn is vast; the Casino de Monte-Carlo only generated €45.6m for the first six months of the fiscal year 2021/2022

The operator does note, though, that the shedding of its 47.3% stake in Betclic Everest Group in June 2022 played a part in this, given the revenue losses from Betclic.  

Selling its stake to Dutch operator FL Entertainment at an agreed amount of €850m, half of the amount was paid to Société des Bains de Mer in cash, while the other half was in the form of shares in FL Entertainment.  

This also included Société des Bains de Mer receiving 4.95% of the voting rights in FL Entertainment, holding 10.39% of the company’s economic interests.  

Therefore, despite contributing to a slightly worse negative financial result of -€2.3m for Société des Bains de Mer in H1 2022/2023, the sale amount resulted in the operator generating what it calls “exceptional” profit of €813.5m on its financial statement for H1 2022/2023. This also accounted for a positive share in the revenue of €15.6m for the first six months of 2022/2023.  

These positive results for Société des Bains de Mer mean the operator had greater cash flow from its business in the first six months of the fiscal year, growing to €116.3m from €82.4m in the prior-year period.  

The after-effects of Covid still linger over the controlling company of the Casino de Monte-Carlo. Despite selling its Betclic stake and a marked upturn in hotel revenue, its debt as of 30 September 2022 stood at €470.6m, compared to a debt of €30m in the prior-year period, when the effects of Covid hadn’t fully taken its toll on businesses.  

But, although a large amount of debt to clear, Société des Bains de Mer says it remains committed to its investment programmes. With the sale of its Betclic stake refuelling its pockets with much-needed cash, the company still managed to invest €70.5m in the first half of its 2022/2023 fiscal year. 

source: https://www.gamblinginsider.com/in-depth/19407/monte-carlo-casino-operator-recharged-after-turbulent-times

Global Gaming Awards

The Global Gaming Awards are the most trusted and prestigious Awards in the gaming industry, recognizing and rewarding the strongest performers across the previous 12 months.

The Awards are powered by Gambling Insider and independently adjudicated by KPMG in the Crown Dependencies. BetConstruct is the event’s lead partner.

There are three Global Gaming Awards events a year.

The first event of the year is held in London, usually in early February, and rewards success achieved by operators and suppliers across Europe and Africa.

Our second event rewards companies who have been successful across the Asia region.

The flagship Global Gaming Awards event is held in Las Vegas every October and recognizes the most successful companies and individuals from the Americas region.

Companies are always nominated on merit and the reason for their nomination is made public in the official Shortlist magazine. It is also seen by the Judging Panel, together with a supporting statement, during the voting process.

A panel of C-level executives from the industry decides the winners, with KPMG in the Crown Dependencies monitoring the entire voting process to ensure full transparency and fairness.

General rules include: every company category has a consistent number of nominees across the Shortlist; only one person per company is allowed to participate in the Judging Panel; any judge who is working for/associated with a company which is shortlisted, can only vote in the categories in which said company isn’t nominated.

This month, our team will be attending the Global Gaming Awards in Las Vegas. You can contact us to make an appointment.

Source: https://www.gamblinginsider.com/connections/1245/global-gaming-awards

Asia round-up: Macau’s poor returns; ACMA’s request, Tabcorp & more

August: Macau Government collects MOP244.4m in gaming tax 

Figures from Macau’s Financial Services Bureau reveal that its Government has collected MOP244.4m ($30.2m) from direct taxes related to gaming for August 2022.

Taxes received by Macau’s Government are lower than usual, given that casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) for July only reached MOP398m, a result of intermittent lockdown policies and a legislative persistence to restrict travel.  

This June, direct tax on gambling operations in Macau stood just below MOP1.31bn. 

Most recently, Macau was closed between 11 July and 22 July 2022 as a countermeasure to rising cases of Covid-19 in the region. 

The tax rate on casino GGR is 39% in Macau; 35% of which goes straight to Government coffers while 4% is used to pay for good causes in the community. 

Recently, Macau has revised its gaming tax rate to increase welfare spending, with many of its residents suffering throughout the global pandemic.  

“We want to be customer obsessed in everything we do, and this is the first of what will be regular upgrades of our app to transform the digital wagering experience for punters”

Adam Rytenskild, Tabcorp CEO

ACMA requests further ISP blocks

Australia’s media and communications watchdog has called on internet service providers (ISPs) to block more offshore gambling websites. 

Following a round of block requests in mid-August, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found a further 15 platforms in breach of the law. 

Specifically, an ACMA investigation found the identified websites in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001. 

As a result, it has asked ISPs to prevent Australian users from accessing websites such as Spin Oasis, Fab Spins, RB Carnival and The GoGo Room. 

Since the ACMA made its first block request in November 2019, 614 illegal gambling and affiliate sites have been blocked. 

In addition, over 180 illegal services have withdrawn from the Australian market since the ACMA began enforcing new offshore gambling rules in 2017. 

The watchdog advised customers to avoid using unlicensed platforms, commenting: “The ACMA is reminding consumers that even if a service looks legitimate, it’s unlikely to have important customer protections. 

“This means Australians who use illegal gambling services risk losing their money.” 

Tabcorp’s “digital transformation” 

Tabcorp has released the first version of its new wagering app.

Australian bettors can now download and place bets using the Tab app, which is built on Google’s open source “Flutter” software. 

As a result, it is now faster to place a bet and easier to access personal betting information, among other new features. 

CEO Adam Rytenskild highlighted Tabcorp’s customer-centric outlook, whose feedback he said was used to develop the new app. 

“We want to be customer obsessed in everything we do and this is the first of what will be regular upgrades of our app to transform the digital wagering experience for punters,” he commented. 

Rytenskild continued: “We’ve listened to our customers and our new app has been developed with the feedback of punters front of mind.” 

“The ACMA is reminding consumers that even if a service looks legitimate, it’s unlikely to have important customer protections. This means Australians who use illegal gambling services risk losing their money”

Australian Communications and Media Authority, Official Statement

MGTO cautious on expected numbers for Golden Week 

The director of Macau’s Government Tourism Office (MTGO), Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, has expressed trepidation at the prospect of a mass influx of tourists for the upcoming national holiday, Golden Week.  

The week-long holiday includes National Day on 1 October 2022 but Fernandes, on behalf of the MGTO, has revealed she does not expect an influx of tourism.  

This is primarily due to the quarantine measures and travel restrictions still in place in Macau, which make travel to and from the region difficult.  

Missed a big gambling industry story in Asia? Don’t worry, contact us as soon as possible.

Source: https://www.gamblinginsider.com/news/18272/asia-round-up-macaus-poor-returns-acmas-request-tabcorp-more  

Game on: The top 10 gambling companies by market capitalisation

When discussing our industry, we throw out a lot of company names, but sometimes it’s useful to stop and put a face to them – or in this case, a price tag.

Gaming as an industry is continuing to grow, and despite macro-economic headwinds, companies continue to perform well.

But as we emerge from a pandemic and, if economists’ projections are to be believed, ride headfirst into a recession, which companies are currently on top and for how long will it stay that way?

To this end, we have broken down the top 10 gambling companies by market cap; offering a quick overview of their current financial situation and outlook.

10. Française des Jeux (FDJ) – €5.97bn (US$5.97bn)

Perhaps, to many people’s surprise, French national lottery operator FDJ has eked out a spot on this list. Like many land-based businesses, Covid-19 took a heavy toll on FDJ, but it has since executed a rebound. However, while its revenue has recovered, shareholders’ confidence has not. On a year-to-date basis, FDJ’s stock price has fallen, dropping from almost €39 to less than €32.

Currency fluctuations have naturally impacted the company’s market cap, especially given the current euro to dollar exchange rate, but a long-term pattern of diminished confidence indicates a more intrinsic problem: people do not see FDJ as a worthwhile investment. The company has struggled to regain shareholders’ trust after being hit by several headwinds in mid-2021, including an EU probe and Goldman Sachs downgrading its rating from “neutral” to “sell.”

However, market conditions are generally unfavourable right now and to earn a spot on this list is an indication that FDJ is doing something right. Ultimately, the company continues to support good causes, its primary goal as France’s national lottery operator.

Wynn Resorts’ story is a tale of two cities: Las Vegas and Macau. While the former has undergone a tremendous recovery from Covid-19, the latter continues to limp from one problem to another

9. Wynn Resorts – US$7.44bn

Wynn Resorts’ story is a tale of two cities: Las Vegas and Macau. While the former has undergone a tremendous recovery from Covid-19, the latter continues to limp from one problem to another. Most pundits don’t foresee a recovery for Macau until at least next year, and that’s if further complications do not arise.

Until this occurs, Wynn Resorts will have to hope shareholders can stick it out, relying on the company’s confidence in an eventual turnaround. But despite CEO Craig Billings’ optimism, his words may fall on increasingly deaf ears. Wynn Resorts’ stock price has ebbed and flowed in 2022. At the time of writing, it sits at US$64.02; a mild uptick when compared to last month.

However, this constitutes a considerable downturn when compared to the over US$80 its stock price opened at this year. But many analysts seem to share Billings’ optimism, albeit more cautiously. This may change if fears of a recession become a reality, but for now, the company’s position is relatively secure.

8. Entain – £7.2bn (US$8.2bn)

Entain is our first predominantly online operator, and one that has grown considerably in the past few years. But Entain’s stock is currently valued at just over £12, having fallen from nearly £17 at the start of 2022.

This is likely the result of a post-pandemic market stabilisation. As land-based operators return, Entain’s online business has, consequently, suffered. Don’t take our word for it; Entain has commented on this phenomenon itself. The company’s Q2 results reflected, what it called, “tough 2021 comparators.”

A withdrawal from the Netherlands has also impacted Entain’s performance, as well as tighter affordability measures in the UK. But improved retail trading has helped the company continue to grow and outperform analysts’ expectations.

Currently, most pundits predict a healthy growth trajectory for Entain, and one it seems determined to meet despite what CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen called an “uncertain” macro-economic outlook.

DraftKings is still very much a new kid on the block, but its youthful energy has helped the company carve out a commanding position in the US sports betting market. However, DraftKings might benefit from the age-old proverb: slow and steady wins the race

7. DraftKings – US$8.34bn

DraftKings is still very much a new kid on the block, but its youthful energy has helped the company carve out a commanding position in the US sports betting market. However, DraftKings might benefit from the age-old proverb: slow and steady wins the race.

In its quest to conquer the United States, DraftKings has spent a fortune on marketing and promotional offers. While the company has recorded double-digit top-line growth, DraftKings’ bottom line has born the brunt of its expenditure.

Q2 saw the company generate US$466m in revenue, but after deducting all costs, DraftKings reported a net loss of US$217m. Nevertheless, shareholder confidence has not wavered. Following the publication of DraftKings’ second quarter results, its share price actually rose.

Whether investors will continue to support the company’s strategy, especially as a recession looms, is perhaps less likely – but, for now, DraftKings seems content to spend, spend, spend.

6. Caesars Entertainment – US$9.67bn

Caesars, like many land-based operators, saw a surge in visitors after Covid restrictions were lifted. But, while its revenue has rebounded, investors’ confidence has unfortunately not. Caesars’ Q2 results triggered a short-lived stock bump, but on a year-to-date basis, the company’s share price has fallen from over US$89 to less than US$45.

However, this may be a mild hiccup given Caesars’ recent financial results and broader ambitions. Many analysts believe now is the time to buy Caesars’ stock, which may be sound advice if the company’s historic performance is anything to go by. Newer ventures will also offer additional revenue sources, such as Caesars’ foray into online sports betting.

Like many land-based operators, Caesars is attempting to capitalise on iGaming, though when it comes to wagering, has proven less successful than MGM Resorts. However, the company’s bread and butter is, and for the foreseeable future will be, its brick-and-mortar casinos.

5. MGM Resorts – US$13.11bn

MGM Resorts is a predominantly land-based operator with both Las Vegas and Macau operations, like Wynn Resorts. However, the similarities end there.

MGM Resorts’ operations in Las Vegas have helped offset a decrease in Macau revenue, resulting in an overall year-on-year increase of US$1bn for Q2. Where Wynn Resorts was hampered by Macau, MGM has managed to mitigate the effects.

As a result, the company’s slow climb back from Covid-19 has continued. In March 2020, amid widespread lockdowns and closures, MGM Resorts’ share price plummeted to less than US$10. However, at the time of writing, it is now worth more than US$33.

4. Aristocrat – AU$22.77bn (US$15.2bn)

Our next entry on this list is an Australian company and the first supplier. Aristocrat has narrowly missed out on a medal, posting fourth overall in terms of market cap. However, the runner up will likely feel little dismay given its considerable growth over the past five years.

As a manufacturer of gambling machines, Aristocrat was understandably hit hard by Covid-19, but like so many other companies, has executed a comeback. While Aristocrat’s share price has dropped since reaching a high of more than AU$48 late last year, it has largely returned to pre-pandemic levels.

3. Evolution Gaming – SEK 179.73bn (US$16.6bn)

We have now reached the final three. Evolution has earned itself a bronze medal, but the Swedish supplier’s lead over Aristocrat is fairly narrow.

Evolution’s evolution corresponds to the growth of online gaming more broadly, and in particular, live casino. Whether it can sustain this growth as land-based gaming returns, remains to be seen, but the company continues to post impressive quarterly results.

Nevertheless, Evolution’s stock is fairly unstable. On a long-term basis, the supplier’s share price has risen considerably, but since peaking last year, has been on a downward trajectory.

This trend looks set to continue, but it will at some point have to stabilise. However, when this will occur is hard to say and the current macro-economic outlook does not favour a plateau anytime soon.

2. Flutter Entertainment – £18.38bn (US$20.9bn)

Representing Ireland in the silver medal position is Flutter Entertainment. The bookmaker maintains a commanding position in both the UK and US betting markets, latterly through its FanDuel brand, so it comes as no surprise to see Flutter sitting pretty in second place.

At the time of writing, the company’s share price stands at nearly £104, and has, in recent months, reported sustained healthy growth. Flutter also completed the acquisition of Sisal last month, extending its dominance to Italy.

Consequently, the company is primed for future growth, with most analysts recommending investors “buy.” 

1. Las Vegas Sands – US$29.53bn

Finally, we come to first place. While online gaming has grown in recent years, and despite Macau’s troubles, Las Vegas Sands (LVS) remains number one in terms of market cap – but will the king keep his crown for much longer?

LVS stock has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. Currently, the company’s share price is just over US$38, a considerable decrease when compared to the almost $70 it was worth in February 2020. While LVS experienced a slight rebound in March of last year, the company’s share price has, by and large, been on a downward trajectory ever since.

Ultimately, the company’s fortunes are tied to those of Macau, and consequently, the city’s recovery from Covid-19. But even though LVS remains confident that visitor levels will return to pre-pandemic norms, it may well be a while yet before Macau truly emerges from the pandemic.

A more pressing issue is whether investors share the company’s confidence, and whether they have the means, or willpower, to wait out this storm – especially as another is brewing on the horizon.


All-in-all, there are a few surprising faces here, but mostly they’re who you would expect. There is a nice balance of online and land-based, but whether this balance will be maintained in a years’ time is hard to say. There is a lot riding on Macau’s recovery, especially for Wynn Resorts and LVS, as well as MGM Resorts to a lesser extent. If the city takes too long to recover, Wynn Resorts and LVS may find themselves moving down a place or two.

Source: https://www.gamblinginsider.com/in-depth/18205/game-on-the-top-10-gambling-companies-by-market-capitalisation

Gordon Ramsay’s first Hell’s Kitchen in California

Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant brand, Hell’s Kitchen, has opened a new location in Southern California, specifically at Harrah’s Resort.

The British chef and television personality opened his first restaurant under the Hell’s Kitchen name at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

As a result, this latest location represents Ramsay’s third Hell’s Kitchen at a casino-resort and first in California.

Harrah’s Resort SoCal is owned by the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians and operated by Caesars Entertainment. It is located between San Diego and Los Angeles, in a mountain valley along the San Luis Rey River.

The new restaurant, meanwhile, occupies an over 11,000-square-foot space that can accommodate up to 332 guests.

It features a bar, full-service restaurant, exhibition kitchen, lounge, curated wine wall, two private dining rooms and two chef’s tables.

“I love Southern California,” said Ramsay. “It’s one of the best places to live, as well as visit, so it was a no brainer to bring California’s first Hell’s Kitchen to Harrah’s Resort SoCal.”

Menu items include Ramsay’s signature dishes, such as beef Wellington and sticky toffee pudding, alongside other specialty items such as lobster risotto, Wagyu meatballs and pan-seared scallops.

Harrah’s also teased future additions to its menu, commenting that diners “can expect to see new and progressive dishes specific to the Harrah’s Resort SoCal location in the coming months.”

Restaurant General Manager Sarah Ertmann said: “It is an honour to open the first Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen in the state.

“This addition to Harrah’s Resort SoCal only furthers our mission to provide guests with unforgettable experiences and Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen embodies just that.”

Source: https://www.gamblinginsider.com/news/17667/gordon-ramsays-first-hells-kitchen-in-california-opens-at-harrahs-resort-socal

Space Wars 2 Powerpoints by NetEnt

Now introducing the next intergalactic classic, Space Wars 2 Powerpoints. NetEnt welcome players back to an out of this world experience, with the sequel of the much-loved game Space Wars.

After the popularity of the original intergalactic showdown, Space Wars 2TM Powerpoints brings players’ favorite adorable aliens, such as Brute, back to the reels – with an added twist. Featuring the brand-new mechanic Powerpoints, Column Blasters, Zappers, explosive combinations, Free Spins and an exciting Buy Feature, this game is running on rocket fuel.

The aim of the game is to fill up the Powerpoints meter! 

At the top of the reels, this meter records the amount of Powerpoints players achieve. Every match win will award Powerpoints and take players one step further along the meter. As it fills up, players move up the levels and increase their win multiplier. And while they continue to spin and play, players need to keep a keen eye out for the Zapper symbol. A 5 or 6 symbol match in the main game awards this symbol and will remove a number of symbol types from the reels – anywhere between 1-4 types of symbols – and can even appear in the Free Spins rounds. 

But there’s more! Players can also enjoy each of these individual features – the Zapper, the Column/Row Blaster, and the Bomb – in a thrilling series of combos. All players need to do is land these feature symbols adjacent to each other to explode the reels with wins.

 1000 or more Powerpoints in the main game activates Free Spins – and this is where things really start to blast off. If players are looking to rule the galaxy, this is where to do it, and the number of Free Spins awarded entirely depends on how many Powerpoints players are able to collect throughout the game.

With a high volatility and a return to player rate (RTP) of 96.05%, this game will bring players back to a well-loved favourite andset the stage for a whole new Space Wars extravaganza.

Source: https://www.gamblinginsider.com/news/16647/space-wars-2-powerpoints-by-netent

Winning ticket for Powerball’s $366.7 million jackpot sold in Vermont. Here’s the tax bite for the winner

If you’re holding the winning ticket for Powerball’s $366.7 million jackpot, don’t forget about your silent partner: Uncle Sam.

After rolling higher for about two months of three weekly drawings with no winner, the lottery game’s top prize was nabbed in Wednesday night’s drawing. The ticket was purchased in Vermont, which marks the first time the jackpot has been won in that state. 

Of course, the advertised amount isn’t what the winner will end up with. Whether the prize is taken as an annuity of 30 payments over 29 years or as an immediate, reduced cash lump sum, taxes end up taking a big bite out of the windfall.

For this jackpot, a required federal tax withholding of 24% would reduce the $208.5 million cash option — which most jackpot winners choose — by about $50 million.

More tax likely due after initial federal withholding

However, the top federal marginal tax rate is 37%, which applies to income above $523,600. In other words, there likely would be additional taxes due at tax time. For illustration purposes: If the winner had no reduction in income — for example, significant charitable contributions from the winnings — another 13%, or $27.1 million, would be due to the IRS ($77.1 million in all).

There also would be a 6% Vermont state tax withholding, which would mean $12.5 million going to state coffers right off the bat, with more generally due (the state’s top rate is 8.75%).

Odds of a Powerball jackpot win: about 1 in 292 million

The winner gets one year to claim the prize, and may be able to stay anonymous by claiming the money via a trust. It’s recommended that jackpot winners assemble a team of professionals to help navigate the claiming process, including an attorney, financial advisor and tax advisor.

Sometimes lottery prizes go unclaimed. In fact, a $1 million Mega Millions prize expires Thursday at 5 p.m.

The Powerball jackpot has reset to $20 million for the next drawing, which is scheduled for for Saturday night. The Mega Millions jackpot, meanwhile, stands at $360 million ($199.3 million cash option) for Friday night’s pull.

The chance of a single ticket matching all six numbers drawn in Powerball is about 1 in 292 million. For Mega Millions, it’s 1 in 302 million.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/30/tax-bill-for-vermont-winner-of-powerball-366point7-million-jackpot.html

Battle over smoking in New Jersey casinos pits workers’ health against profits

Legislation pending in New Jersey’s statehouse would end the exemption Atlantic City casinos have long enjoyed from a statewide ban on indoor smoking in public places. About 2,500 casino workers have united to push for the ban. And the state’s governor supports it, as well.

“If a bill came to my desk, I would sign it,” Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said in December.

The casino industry is fighting the effort, saying it’s worried about a ban’s potential impact on jobs and profits.

The move could cost about 2,500 jobs, said a February study by Spectrum Gaming Group, commissioned by the Casino Association of New Jersey. A complete smoking ban could cause gaming revenue to tumble between 20% to 25%, according to an analysis John DeCree, gaming equities analyst for CBRE. Smokers account for 21% of Atlantic City gamblers and traditionally produce higher profits as smokers sit longer and spend more money, according to the Spectrum report.

“My roulette and blackjack and slot machine in smoking sections make 50% more money than my non smoking games,” Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Atlantic City and president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, told CNBC. “That’s a fact.”

Lupo said many Hard Rock employees do not support a change to smoking restrictions because they worry about their livelihoods, and he insisted opponents of casino smoking are in the minority but are getting all the attention. Nearly 22,000 full-time and part-time workers are employed by the casinos in Atlantic City, according to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

“The dogs who bark the loudest are heard,” he said.

Tammy Brady is speaking up, and she’s hoping to get the attention of state legislators.

Brady, a dealer supervisor at Borgata, has worked in casinos for 37 years, since she was 18. She said she’s desperate to work in a smoke-free environment.

“That’s the worst part of my job. I would enjoy my job if it wasn’t for the smoke,” Brady said. Customers blow smoke directly in her face, she added. “It’s horrible. It’s just you have to sit there and just take it.”

Brady is on medical leave, getting treatment for breast cancer. “I’m worried about going back to my job in a smoking environment,” she told CNBC, tears streaming down her face.

There is no safe level of second hand-smoke, the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General has concluded. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cited a study that says 50% of the casinos sampled had air pollution levels known to cause cardiovascular disease after only two hours of exposure. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health recommends a completely smoke-free environment. “Casino workers are at great risk to the health hazards caused by secondhand smoke, including heart disease, lung cancer, and acute and chronic respiratory illnesses,” the federal agency said.

“When you’re on a smoking game. It’s torture,” said Pete Naccarelli, a longtime dealer at Borgata, which is owned by MGM Resorts.

The company declined to comment for this story.

A long battle

This isn’t the first challenge to New Jersey’s casino exemption for indoor smoking. In 2008, Atlantic City banned it and gaming revenue dropped 20% in just the first week. Citing economic challenges and a worsening economy, the city reversed the smoking ban and Atlantic City casinos were once again permitted to offer smoking on 25% of the casino floor.

Unite Here, the union representing casino employees who aren’t dealers, opposes any effort to reinstitute a ban, worried about declining revenue and job cuts.

But the United Auto Workers Union, which represents dealers at three Atlantic City casinos, and the United Food and Commercial Workers, have since joined the effort to eliminate the casino smoking exemption.

“Our members include dealers who sit inches away from patrons who blow smoke directly into their face for eight hours a day, every single day,” said UAW. “It is simply unacceptable, knowing what we know about the dangers of secondhand smoke.”

Last month, hundreds of casino workers held a rally in Atlantic City to push for the legislation to completely ban smokingwhich is pending in the Assembly and SenateThe legislation has 43 co-sponsors, including legislators from Atlantic City. The rally also marked the 16th anniversary of a New Jersey law banning smoking indoors. The Smoke Free Air Act took effect on April 15, 2006, and prohibited smoking in almost every workplace and place open to the public – except casinos.

While casinos worry their smoking patrons would stay away, some Atlantic City visitors they’d like to enjoy clean air.

Princess Foster, a tourist from Pennsylvania, said she would welcome a smoking ban in casinos. “The first thing that confronts me is cigarette smoke. We try to scurry through because we don’t want to inhale,” she said.

Smoking is only permitted on 10% of the gaming floor at Hard Rock Atlantic City, according to Lupo, with much more non-gaming space where smoking is prohibited. “Through Covid, we’ve done air filtration studies that validate that our air filtration is much much better than any of the other buildings throughout the states.”

The American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers recently sent a letter to the Casino Association of New Jersey, insisting there are no current ventilation systems that are effective against secondhand smoke and that they can only reduce odor and discomfort.

Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen met last week with Murphy, the governor, about the pending legislation. Allen told CNBC the industry needs to work with regulators to find middle ground, but he is worried about a complete about-face in New Jersey.

“The majority of our employees do not want to see a complete smoking ban because, unfortunately, they know it’s going to have a direct impact on the gratuities,” he said.

Hard Rock owns and operates casinos in other states that prohibit smoking indoors, though Native American tribes set the rules in casinos on sovereign tribal land. But Allen says in Ohio, the heated outdoor gaming patio has been very popular with patrons who smoke.

Where nearby casinos permit smoking, they might gain a competitive edge, according to DeCree of CBRE. “In markets like Chicagoland, New Orleans, and at Mountaineer in West Virginia, where customers had conveniently-located smoking alternatives, gaming revenue declined 20%+ in the first year after smoking was banned,” he wrote.

A shift on smoking

But DeCree’s analysis and Spectrum Gaming’s report are based on pre-pandemic results. Andrew Klebanow, a senior partner at C3 Gaming, said Covid caused a major shift in attitudes regarding smoking.

“Basically what happened was smoking prohibitions were implemented at no economic cost. Consumers didn’t react negatively, they kept coming in because they enjoy gambling,” he said. “Not what we expected to see, based on all the historical data we had prior to the pandemic.”

He predicts casinos that don’t go smoke-free are putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage. His assessment is based on results in Pennsylvania, where Mount Airy Casino Resort stayed smoke free and saw revenues rise slightly – while its competitor Mohegan Sun Pocono which allows smoking saw revenues slightly decline.

The Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, which is two hours from Atlantic City, opted to remain smoke free as well, even when the state lifted restrictions. Spokesman Marc Oppenheimer said there’s been no noticeable impact to revenue and that Parx continues to gain market share. Surveys show their guests prefer a smoke-free environment, he added.

Casinos in surrounding states like New York, Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland do not allow indoor smoking.

But, Hard Rock’s Lupo insists, Atlantic City’s economy is in a precarious recovery from Covid closures in 2020. “For us to have layoffs at a time at this time is dangerous and negatively impactful to the casino.”

Nicole Vitola, a table games dealer at Borgata, said she doesn’t buy the threat about jobs.

“They’re adding virtual dealers; they’re not worried about the job losses there,” she said. “When they went to online gaming, they weren’t worried about the job losses there. But when it comes for us saving our lives, they’re worried about the job loss. It doesn’t make sense.”

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/19/atlantic-city-smoking-ban-fight-worker-health-vs-profits.html

Research: 49% of gamers would deposit more

As US gaming continues to grow, the payment solutions package provided by operators has become crucial in driving retention and lifetime player value. Why?  

We discuss this all-important area of business for operators with PayNearMe’s VP & Head of Marketing, Anne Hay, and VP for iGaming and sports betting, Leighton Webb, using data gathered from 2,050 iGaming players across 19 states. 

Hay: We gathered data on the player’s experience with operator payment solutions, focusing on three key areas. We focused on age groups, from 18 to 65+, male vs female, and frequent vs casual bettors. Some of the most interesting differences can be seen between frequent and casual bettors. Frequent bettors were defined as placing one or more bets a week, and casual bettors as less than once a week.  

How important is it for you to have access to the following deposit options when depositing funds for online gambling/sports betting?

betting deposits, gambling deposits, deposit more

The research uncovered four key insights: 

  1. Choice matters. Bettors expect a wide range of options for making deposits and withdrawals. Some options bettors want aren’t even available in the US today. 
  2. Experience is everything. Slow deposits and withdrawals are hurting the player experience. The research indicated that the withdrawal process was 10% more painful than depositing. This is probably not surprising given the checks and balances that go into the withdrawal process. However, the research showed that with minor improvements, this process can be sped up significantly. The biggest issue for players was the length of withdrawal time.
  3. Information privacy. This is an area where the difference between frequent and casual really stood out. Casual bettors in particular were wary of sharing additional financial information to sign up. There’s an expectation around privacy and anonymity, to protect personal information.
  4. Preferences. Different bettors have different preferences, particularly frequent vs casual bettors. There is a need for operators to meet the expectations of both early adopters and casual bettors as the industry matures. It’s imperative for operators to retain players they work hard to attract to the site, given the incredible cost of acquisition per player operators spend. Many operators in the US are finding current acquisition costs unsustainable, $1,000+ per player.  

An important point here is that an operator does not officially acquire the player until a deposit is made. You may have a player visit your site, but until they make a deposit you haven’t acquired anyone. It’s a lot to spend on drawing a player to your site without giving any attention to that point of acquisition. It’s important, too, to make it seamless and frictionless for a player to complete the deposit. The data showed that the point of deposit represented a barrier, because the process was not seamless. Many said they would leave and try again at some point down the line, or leave and never come back. If you’re an operator opening up in a new state – the process of which is a bit of a land grab – then you have one chance to get a strong foot in the door. If you turn off players, particularly casual bettors from the offset, the likelihood of them coming back is pretty slim. 

How would having access to your preferred withdrawal types affect your withdrawal behavior?

iGaming withdrawals, betting withdrawals

Webb: I think the research shows that payments are more than just physically moving the money. When you look at choice, an operator shouldn’t have choice for the sake of it; but choice that supports the player experience, preferences and, of course, privacy. I was on a call last week with a Tier 1 operator in the US, who asked: “It seems like there’s an unlimited number of tenders we could have in our cashier, but what is the optimal tender mix, what is the best combination?” So choice is important, but it has to be the right mix so that the overall payment experience isn’t degraded, or confusing for the player. It has to be a mix that players are comfortable with, featuring tenders that players are used to using in their everyday lives. This way, when a player enters an application, you’ve lowered the entry barrier for a player.

PayPal is a great example. People use PayPal across their everyday lives, so having PayPal in an iGaming or sports betting application adds a layer of comfortability. The research backs this, 64% said PayPal was an important option, and this is backed up by the operators we speak to. On the other hand, Cash App, which is not available for operators in the US and is not available at all in the global iGaming space, was a tender type that 56% of respondents claimed would be their preferred tender. These two tender types (PayPal and Cash App) are very similar, in terms of the brand, the level of trust people have in them and the ease of use. Put this up against a tender type that players aren’t as familiar with and there are some operator sites that players are less familiar with, which is not good for the player or operator.  

How long does it typically take for you to receive funds from your online gaming account after initiating a withdrawal?

online gaming account

The other factor to keep in mind is that the US is a far less mature market than the UK and Europe. So when we talk about early adopters vs casual bettors, it’s an area that is extremely important right now in the US market. What the data has told us is that early adopters are more willing to go through any added complexity, any added hurdles to make that sign-up official with an operator, and simply wait for a more optimal payment option to come along. However, as the US market matures, one thing each state will see as it grows is that it will exhaust the acquisition of early adopters, and need to try to convert casual players into more frequent ones. These casual players are likely to have different sets of expectations and different tolerance levels, regarding deposits and withdrawals on an application.

What’s more, it’s worth noting that in the US, iGaming is only available in five states today. As iGaming continues to become more regulated in the US, we know this market has a different profile, it draws the more casual player in the US. Early adopters, the ones who bet frequently in the US, are associated far more with sportsbooks. They understand the steps associated with the process and are willing to go through all sign-up procedures. The takeaway from this is that operators need to think about payments as more than just physically moving the money, and think about it more as the overall experience. This touches everything from choice, the experience, the design, the flow of a website or application and communication with players.

This all ties in with privacy and trust. Operators need to think about their payment options holistically, that way they can best manage costs. As Anne said, customer acquisition costs are extraordinarily high for operators; there’s no way most of them can continue to spend upwards of $1,000 per player on acquisition costs. One of – if not the main way – to pull down customer acquisition costs is to do a better job at converting those players who download the app or visit the site, and go through to make a successful deposit. Plus, you can’t talk customer acquisition and forget lifetime value. So you need to make sure you’re retaining those users, and one of the ways to retain users is to make sure that their overall experience is a positive one. By that, I mean a successful withdrawal.

Source: https://www.gamblinginsider.com/in-depth/16968/paynearme-49-of-gamers-would-deposit-more-with-better-withdrawal-options

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