Caesars Obtains $400M Loan From VICI Properties, Inc.

Eldorado And Caesars Logo
VICI Properties Inc. announced last Friday that it has provided Caesars Inc. a mortgage amounting to $400M. The loan was in accordance with the LOI entered upon by the contracting companies last June 15, 2020 and is secured by the Caesars Forum Convention Center.

The mortgage has an initial interest rate of 7.7% and a term of five years. It is pre-payable starting in year 3 subject to certain conditions. The Caesars Forum is subject to an amended Put/Call Agreement between VICI and Caesars Inc. with the former’s call option being accelerated to 2025 in connection with the entry into the mortgage agreement.

Conditioned to the Merger

Last June, VICI Properties agreed to loan Eldorado Resorts Inc.$400M via a Letter of Intent (LOI). The loan was to be secured by the recently opened Caesars Forum Convention Center in Las Vegas. It was conditioned to completion of the $17.5B merger between Eldorado and Caesars Entertainment which was completed in July 2020. Additionally, VICI agreed to purchase 23 acres of underdeveloped land near the center of the Las Vegas Strip for $103.5M.

Prior to the merger, Eldorado operated 23 properties in 11 states, including the Eldorado Resort in Nevada and Louisiana, Tropicana properties in New Jersey, Nevada, and Indiana, and the Isle of Capri or Isle properties in Louisiana, Florida, Colorado, Missouri, Iowa, and Mississippi.

Largest CAsino and Entertainment Company in the U.S.

Meanwhile, Caesars Entertainment primarily operated under Caesar’s, Harrah’s and the Horseshoe brands, with properties all over the world including Dubai. The surviving entity is known as Caesars Entertainment, Inc. and is now the largest casino and entertainment company in the United States.

VICI Properties Inc. is one of the largest real estate investment trust companies in the United States. Its geographically diversified portfolio of 31 gaming companies includes the world-famous Caesars Palace and has a total of 50 million square feet. The properties are leased to leading gaming operators like Caesars, Hard Rock Casinos, Century Casinos Inc., JACK Entertainment, and Penn National Gaming.

Judge Orders Ex-Borgata Executive to Return Mobile Phone

Borgata Hotel-Casino
Borgata Casino got a shot in the arm from Lady Justice last Thursday as a federal judge in Nevada ordered a former Borgata casino executive, among others, to return a company-issued mobile phone which contained valuable information on Borgata’s top players and highest rollers.

Aside from instructing the former Borgata exec to return the cell phone, U.S. judge Gloria Navarro also issued a temporary restraining order preventing the two former executives who left Borgata this summer to work for the Ocean Casino Resort from contacting any past, present, or prospective clients of the Borgata Casino. Navarro also ordered the two former Borgata executives not to share trade secrets or confidential information to their new employers.

Poaching Accusation

However, the judge did not order the two executives removed from their jobs at Ocean Casino despite violating unfair competition laws and agreements. In not terminating the two, Navarro reasoned that the plaintiff did not present evidence that proved Ocean knew that the two were using Borgata trade secrets in their current employment.

Last month, Borgata Casino accused Ocean Casino of “poaching” six former executives in what it called an “attempt to cripple “ it by using trade secrets and sensitive information about its top clients. Borgata proceeded to filing a lawsuit after it asserted that the hiring of their former officers violated New Jersey’s unfair competition laws.

Attempt To Cripple Borgata

The case centered on William Callahan and Kelly Ashman Burke, who worked with Borgata’s top clients, and who were recently hired by Ocean Casino. Borgata took exception of Callahan for his failure to return a company-issued cell phone which was said to contain top secret information regarding Borgata’s high-rollers. Borgata claimed that Callahan refused to return the phone even after he had resigned from his post at their casino.

Callahan worked with Borgata’s highest-level customers who spent around $1.5M-$4M per visit. Borgata claimed that these clients were worth a collective $25M per year and Ocean was “crippling” their business using the information that Callahan took from Borgata using his cell phone. The case was filed in Nevada because MGM Resorts International, Borgata’s parent company, is located there.

William Hill and CBS Rollout New Fantasy Football Offerings

William Hill
William Hill US and CBS Sports announced on Wednesday that they are rolling out new product offerings to kick off their partnership ahead of the fantasy football season in the US.
The fantasy football season follows the schedule of the current NFL Season which begins on Friday, September 10, 2020 and ends on January 3, 2021.

In a statement released on Wednesday, William Hill President of Digital Ken Fuchs said:

“Our partnership is a first-of-its-kind, creating an experience geared to the sports fan and fantasy player that showcases William Hill content and products across the CBS Sports Digital landscape. We’re ready for fantasy football season to begin and can’t wait to introduce fans to the future of sports betting while taking their game to the next level.”

Educating Sports Fans

The rollout includes a new parlay free-to-play game as well as extensive odds and data coverage across all CBS platforms. Product integration also involves fantasy game enhancements, interactive betting markets within scoreboards, and extensive betting content. It also gives sports bettors access to educational tools such as prop and bet calculators.

According to William Hill, most of the offerings are intended to educate sports fans on how to make picks for fun, understand the sports betting market, and go directly to William Hill’s products to complete their betting transactions seamlessly in states where it is live.

Currently, William Hill US is available in 11 states where sports betting has been legalized plusThe Bahamas and the District of Columbia. Its mobile offerings are available in Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey, and West Virginia.

Exclusive Sportsbook and Wagering Data Provider

Last February, William Hill took a huge step in its US expansion when it announced that it had forged a strategic partnership that would make it the exclusive sportsbook and wagering data partner of CBS Sports across all platforms, including CBS Sports Fantasy which is one of the largest fantasy platforms in the world.

Under the agreement, CBS Sports will utilize William Hill’s odds, experts, and more than 140 sportsbooks to solidify its digital presence. In return, William Hill will receive exclusive rights to promote its brand across all CBS Sports’ range of digital properties, including CBS Sports Fantasy.The deal kicked off with the initial integrations last March and with the start of the NFL season, the full rollout is now live.

The new betting experiences are currently rolled out across all CBS platforms including CBSSports.com, CBS Sports Fantasy, SportsLine, CBS Sports HQ, and CBS Sports Fantasy Mobile Apps.

Bet.Works Launches Self-Service Betting Terminals in Colorado

Shape of Colorado State, Red Casino Chip on Top of State
U.S. sports betting technology provider Bet.Works has launched its own branded self-service betting terminals in Colorado. The devices, called Elite Sportsbook, are positioned at the Red Dolly Casino in Blackhawk, Co.

Said Bet.Works CEO David Wang:

“Bet.Works is continuously innovating and leading the way in creating the best sports entertainment products available on the market. Our self-service betting terminals featured at the Red Dolly Casino provide Colorado players with a convenient and simple platform to wager on-property. Bet.Works is very proud to add this guest service technology to our U.S. entertainment portfolio.”

Self-Service Betting Terminals

The GLI certified self-service betting terminals were designed and built by KIOSK Information Systems, a leading provider of self-service kiosks in North America. The ELITE Sportsbook has a dual 22” PCAP displays and a programmable colored LED lighting. It boasts of an intuitive user interface and a comprehensive transaction component. The kiosk integrates scanning, cash acceptance, ticket in/out for independent wagering.

The devices are a product of the partnership between Bet.Works and Elite Casino Resorts. These two companies previously teamed up to bring sports betting technology to Iowa. Last month, the two Iowa casinos where they launched their product contributed a combined 15.2% of the sports betting revenue in The Hawkeye State.

Sports Betting Picking Up in Colorado

Sports betting became legal in Colorado at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020 when almost all of sports was shut down. Despite U.S. professional sports leagues like the NBA, MLS, and MLB suspended, it was able to generate a total of $946,741.34 revenue during its maiden month.

With games returning in recent months, Colorado’s sports betting activity has picked up quickly. Revenue grew by 35.8% from the first month or $3.M during June. In the month of July, the total sports betting revenue in The Centennial State totaled $5.2M. With the NFL set to start its 2020 season this month, the numbers are expected to increase further.

Catawba Nation Reveals Name and Logo of North Carolina Casino

North Carolina Casinos

The Catawba Nation announced last Friday that the name of their gaming project in Kings Mountain, North Carolina will be Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort. The name and the casino’s logo were unveiled last August 28, 2020 at a private event attend by citizens of the Catawba nation, casino partners, city officials of Kings Mountain.

Said Catawba Nations chief Bill Harris:

“Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort celebrates our rich history and hopeful future in our ancestral lands in North Carolina – where our people were established hundreds of years ago, as the names Catawba River, Catawba County and Catawba College suggest. The name pays tribute to the 18th century Catawba Chief King Hagler and to the City of Kings Mountain, which will be home to the new casino resort. It also symbolizes the unique relationship that the Catawba people have historically had – and will continue to strengthen going forward – with fellow residents of the region.”

Tribute To King Hagler

King Hagler was the Catawba Chief from 1750-1763. Under his rule, the Catawba Nation forged a peaceful relationship with the American colonists in the region while also strongly defending the rights of his people. The Catawba tribe helped protect the colonists during the Revolutionary War, French War, and Indian War. In return, the Catawba got the support from them.

The logo of the proposed casino depicts King Hagler against a representation of Kings Mountain. The logo was developed in consultation with Delaware North. The New York-based hospitality and entertainment company is an adviser of the Catawba in the ongoing project.

First Phase Opening in 2021

Last March, the Catawba Nation received approval from the U.S. Department of the Interior to use 15.76 acres of land from Dixon School Road and I-85 to build the casino. The project has gotten disapproval from local groups and other counties in the state. In July, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians filed a lawsuit to stop the construction. But a week after the case was filed, the Catawba broke ground with the goal of opening the first phase of the casino in 2021.

The proposed casino’s gaming area is expected to have more than 1,700 electronic games and 54 gaming tables. The resort will also have a 940-seat restaurant space plus a service area/player’s club in the main gaming area.

Budget Shortfall Looms in Atlantic City Due to PILOT Bill

View of Atlantic City Beach

The crippling effect of the coronavirus pandemic to Atlantic City’s casinos will have a direct impact in the Garden State’s 2021 budget. That’s because the casinos’ total direct revenue is the basis of their annual payment to the city based on the 2016 PILOT bill.

Under the bill, which was enacted in 2016, casinos make annual payments to the city based on revenue rather than pay property taxes based on property value. Last year, Atlantic City’s casinos had a total revenue of $3.2B and they made a total of $150M payments to the city in 2019.

But with the pandemic halting casino operations for four months starting March 2020 and the imposition of health and safety restrictions that limited gaming operations since they were allowed to reopen, the casinos in Monopoly City are unlikely to duplicate last year’s performance.

Unlikely to Duplicate 2019 Performance

From January to July 2020, Atlantic City’s nine casinos have reported a total gaming revenue of $1.2B. That’s well off the $1.845B they made through the first seven months of 2019. Also, the casinos reported an average revenue increase of 11.48% per month beginning August 2019 to the end of the year.

But with the current restrictions, it’s not expected that they will overperform their previous month’s income and because of that, they are expected to come up very short of last year’s totals. Casino win has been down by more than 58% through July and is not expected to pick up with the prohibitions and restrictions currently in place.

Need For Tangible Solution

The PILOT Bill was passed to put an end to the casinos’ property tax appeals filed before the city. It was seen as a means to stabilize Atlantic City’s tax base. The bill was projected to bring a steady $120M in annual payments from the city’s nine casinos and it had been working before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

Sen. Chris Brown (R-Atlantic) who voted for the PILOT bill in 2016, recognizes the need to modify the legislation. Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D-Atlantic), a prime sponsor of the PILOT bill, recognized the need to do something but noted that the city has to “be careful on how to navigate” through the looming shortfall. Meanwhile, the absence of a tangible solution has made locals fear of an imminent increase in property taxes or a decrease in municipal services.

Borgata Casino Files Lawsuit Against Ocean Casino

Borgata Hotel-Casino

Atlantic City’s top casino has filed a lawsuit against one of its competitors, claiming that the rival hired half-a-dozen of its former Marketing Executives in an effort to steal trade secrets.

The case was filed on Thursday by MGM Resort International’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa against Ocean Casino after the latter allegedly poached former Borgata executives in an attempt “to cripple” it by using details of its most profitable customers. According to Borgata, Ocean Casino violated unfair competition laws and agreements that prohibit at least two of the highest ranking executives from working for a competitor for a year after leaving.

High-Roller Customer Data

At the center of the complaint is former Borgata exec William Callahan who now works for Ocean Casino. It is alleged that Callahan has retained his Borgata-issued phone which contains valuable information about Borgata costumers. The lawsuit states that Callahan has refused to return the phone as recently as Monday this week.

Callahan was in charge of Borgata’s high-roller customers. These were patrons who spent $1.5M to $4M per visit and who would be flown in and out of the casino’s events using Borgata’s private jet. According to Borgata, these individuals were worth at least $25M per year to the company.

Aside from Callahan, Borgata also mentioned the name of former executive Kelly Ashman Burke in the document. The plaintiff also said that four other ex-marketing personnel have been hired by Ocean Casino in an attempt to “cripple” Borgata’s casino operations in Atlantic City.

Direct and Primary Competitor

The Borgata leads the nine-casino market in the area but in the lawsuit, it asserts that Ocean City is a direct and primary competitor for high-level customers in Atlantic City. Interestingly, Ocean Casino ranks just sixth among the nine Atlantic City casinos in terms of total revenues, making just one-thirds of what Borgata has raked in over the period.

The Ocean City Casino is the former Revel Casino which was shut down in 2014. The Revel operated for over two years and never came close to making a profit. But the casino reopened in 2018 under a new name and ownership and it has improved its ranking in the market.

Last month , Ocean Casino ranked second in Atlantic City casino win with its revenue of $23.6M a 23.1% increase against its July 2019 figures. Ocean saw nine straight months of slot pay growth before the coronavirus pandemic hit last March. Borgata was closed for the most part of July but in terms of income, it still makes three times more than any of its competitor.

BetMGM to Launch “Betting Across America” Show in Collaboration with VSiN

BetMGM in iPhone
BetMGM announced a partnership with the Las Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN) for a daily sports betting show starting next month. The show entitled “Betting Across America” will use the latest sports betting data and and analytics to provide expert betting commentary and insights from some of the most credible experts in the business.

Said BetMGM chief marketing officer Matt Prevost:

“VSiN has been a great media partner for BetMGM and we look forward to continuing to work with the VSiN team to produce engaging sports betting related content. By giving VSiN unprecedented access to BetMGM Sportsbooks, there will be no shortage of interesting story lines and excellent opportunities for betting enthusiasts and sports fans to get an inside peek.”

BetMGM recently got a $1B boost from the IAC earlier this month. The influx of new money is expected to help BetMGM increase its presence in the U.S. sports betting industry market and this TV deal with VSiN is seen as one of the first steps to achieving that.

Betting Across America

“Betting Across America” will be broadcast by VSiN will be broadcast live from the BetMGM studios in large sports betting markets across the country. Pending approval, it will air on weekdays from 3-5 pm ET/ 12noon-2pm PT starting August 31 and weekdays from 1-3 PM ET/10am-12noon PT beginning September 5th.

The show will feature BetMGM’s oddsmakers and experts who will be joined by VSiN’s top hosts including former NFL player and Las Vegas personality Mike Pritchard. Former NBC The Daily Line host Tim Murray and famed sports bettor James Salinas will also be among the VSiN personalities who will appear on the new show.

Aside from VSiN.com, sports fans and bettors can watch Betting Across America and VSiN’s other sports betting programs via Sirius XM, Comcast Xfinity, Sling TV, fubo TV, and RSN’s across the U.S. and Canada.

Sports Betting Going Mainstream

Since its legalization in the United States in 2018, Sport Betting has come a long way. Aside from new states following the lead of those before them, the sports betting industry has taken a major leap in 2020 and is going mainstream.

We have seen TV and sports betting provider relationships established recently. In January, Penn National Gaming finalized its purchase of Barstool Sports. CBS and William Hill formally announced their partnership in February.

Earlier this week, ESPN announced the opening of its Las Vegas Studio at the LINQ, where it will produce sports betting content in cooperation with Caesars Entertainment. Aside from moving its “Daily Line” show there, the collaboration is expected to come up with a new sports betting digital show this fall.

Twin River Could Lay Off 1,300 Workers Next Month

Twin River Casino
Twin River has notified the Rhode Island labor officials that it could be laying off a total of 1,300 employees next month .

According to Twin River spokeswoman Patti Doyle, the company filed a layoff notice with the State Department of Labor and Training last August 11th. Doyle clarified that 1,043 furloughs in Lincoln, and another 296 in Tiverton are set to become permanent at the end of next month.

Doyle added that the workers who are facing layoff are currently furloughed by the company and they continue to receive health insurance benefits. She added that the number of workers let go could still change, depending on the on the business conditions at that time.

Numbers Could Still Change

In a call with analysts, Twin River CEO George Papanier revealed that the company tried to bring back as many employees as possible after the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of their establishments. However, he said that with the current restrictions they are faced with since reopening, they don’t know how many will ultimately be brought back. Said Papanier:

“While we have been able to welcome back a large percentage of those affected, there are still a large number of employees affected on furlough while we await the ability to increase capacity and amenities.”

Last August 11th, Twin River reported a $24M second quarter loss as a result of the casinos being forced to shutdown in March due to the coronavirus pandemic and also by the decreased capacity it has operated with since they were allowed to reopen.

Rhode Island Slow to Recover

However, CEO Papanier said that Twin River is pleased with the results they have seen since they were allowed to reopen in June. Out of their $24M Q2 loss, only $2M came in the month of June and the initial figures for the month of July were encouraging for a return to profitability. Added Papanier:

“While we continue to be willing to spend money to capture market share and drive revenue, we don’t expect to simply return to the old way of doing business. We believe many of the efficiencies we have realized are sustainable over the long term and will result in improved profitability for our properties even while increased sanitation and cleaning costs become the norm.”

Business in the South and West casinos of Twin River have picked up faster than their Rhode Island flagship with states like Colorado and Mississippi faster to ease COVID-19 health restrictions. However, Twin River Rhode Island President of Operations Marc Crisafulli is optimistic because he hopes that they will be allowed to return to 24-hour operations in the coming weeks.

ESPN Opens Vegas Studio for Sports Betting Themed- Content

Caesars Entertainment
ESPN’s Las Vegas studio at the LINQ Hotel and Casino opened on Monday, more than a year after the sports media conglomerate entered in to a sports betting pact with Caesars Entertainment.

The studio will serve as ESPN’s home in sin city and it will be responsible for creating sports-betting related content across ESPN’s platforms. Under the agreement, Caesars will also serve as ESPN’s official odds data supplier across TV and digital.

Said ESPN EVP of Content Connor Schell:

“The appetite for sports betting content continues to grow among fans. Our new studio will not only operate as the headquarters for that content, but it will also anchor our year-round presence in Las Vegas – a city that has become a destination for the biggest events in sports. The LINQ studio allows us to meaningfully cover the lineup of major events on the horizon with our league partners like UFC and Top Rank, the NFL regular season with the Las Vegas Raiders – beginning with the Monday Night Football home opener on Sept. 21 – the Las Vegas Bowl, the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, NBA Summer League, and the rescheduled NFL Draft in 2022.”

State of the Art Studio

The 6,000 square foot facility includes three state of the art studios and features 12 cameras, including two exterior robotic cameras. It is the first ESPN studio to fully support 4K resolution and will be launched in Full HD. The studio will operate via ESPN’s REMI production workflow, with 24 transmit and receive paths to ESPN control rooms around the country.

The new studio will bring Vegas-exclusive sports betting and entertainment content to ESPN. The channel’s sports betting show Daily Wager will move to the LINQ studio starting September 8th. Aside from being the channel’s hotbed for sports betting-related content, it will also play a key role during major sporting events, especially in the Las Vegas area.

ESPN is also eyeing to launch a new digital show this fall. The show is a sports betting related content which will be distributed in in multiple platforms. New episodes of this still untitled show will be available three times a week on the ESPN app, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It will also include content from Caesars.

Sports Betting Deal

ESPN’s expansion to the sports betting industry came after the legalization of sports betting across the country. Interestingly, ESPN and Caesars Entertainment announced their deal during the first year anniversary of the legalization of sports betting across the country.

In the past, Nevada had been the only state where sports betting was legal. But last year, states like Iowa, Indiana, Montana, Tennessee, and Washington D.C. joined the scene after seven states legalized it in 2018 following the Supreme Court’s decision to allow states the option to legalize sports betting.

According to the American Gaming Association, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018 has helped create a sports betting market of $8B in 2019, including a total of $3B which was wagered outside Nevada.