Hard Rock to Compliment Cincinnati Property With $70M Hotel

Hard Rock Atlantic City

In an effort to attract the regional crowd, Hard Rock International says that it will invest $70M to build a hotel at its downtown Cincinnati property.

Said Jon Lucas, chief operating officer for Hard Rock International:

“It’s critical to the continued success of this property as we grow the entertainment lineup. People can regionally come here, enjoy a show, gamble a little bit, eat some dinner. And then they don’t have to drive back home. They can spend the night.”

A Quick Timeline

The hotel plans include 300 rooms, a spa, fitness center, and luxury suites for high-rollers. According to Lucas, the hotel will be built either on the casino’s front lawn along Eggleston Avenue or north of the casino’s parking garage in what is now a surface lot.

Hard Rock says that they have already finished doing the feasibility study on the hotel project and they have already met with their partners regarding its timeline. According to Lucas, he expects the project to be finished “pretty” quick.

Increased Competition in the Local Gambling Market

Hard Rock’s $70M hotel plan is an indication of increased competition in the local gambling market. Churchill Downs recently announced that it is investing $148M to for the expansion of Turfway Park. The extension is intended to house 1,500 “historical racing machines” which are played like slot machines but which comply to Kentucky’s gambling laws.

Aside from the planned hotel, Hard Rock International also spent $40M to upgrade the dining facilities and concert venue facilities of the Cincinnati casino. The company also put up a sportsbook in the casino in anticipation of the legalization of sports betting in Ohio.

Aristocrat Leisure to But Playtech for $3 Billion

Two Rows of Progressive Slot Machines
Australian slot machine maker Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. has struck a deal to buy U.K. gambling software developer Playtech PLC for $3.7 billion in a transaction that will create one of the biggest business-to-business platform providers in the global gaming industry.

The deal, which was agreed upon on Sunday, will be finalized if the two parties will agree to the further terms and conditions of the deal. Once resolved, Aristocrat’s wholly-owned subsidiary Bidco will be the acquiring party.

In a statement, Aristocrat CEO Trevor Croke said:

“The combined group would offer a broad portfolio of end-to-end solutions for gaming customers around the world, as well as seamless player experiences, underpinned by a shared focus on responsible gameplay and innovation.”

Aristocrat’s Offer

Aristocrat offered to buy Playtech’s ordinary shares at $9.35 per share which is a 58% premium of its October 15th closing price. At that price, the total issued common shares of Playtech would have a fully diluted value of around £2.1 billion or £2.7 billion using the enterprise value basis.

To fund the deal, Aristocrat will raise AUD $1.3 billion or $961 million dollars in a share sale. The company will be offering the shares at an 8.6% discount from its closing price last Friday. Aristocrat says it has received letters of intent and irrevocable undertakings supporting the deal from investors representing 20.7% of Playtech’s outstanding shares, including its biggest shareholder.

Playtech’s Aggressive Expansion

The deal comes at a time when Playtech was aggressively expanding in the United States and Latin America. According to Playtech CEO Mor Weizer, the sale has the potential to enhance their company’s distribution and their capacity to build new and deeper relationships with partners to boost their technological capabilities.

Meanwhile, Playtech also announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Hong Kong-based Gopher Investments to sell its financial trading division Finalto in a cash deal worth $250 million.

Catawba Nation Begins Expansion of Two Kings Casino Pre-Launch Facility

North Carolina Flag
The Catawba Nation announced ongoing work to expand the capacity of their pre-launch casino located at Kings Mountain off Interstate 85.

According to a press release issued by project consultant Delaware North, the Catawba Tribe is expanding their North Carolina gambling facility because of th “overwhelming success” they have achieved since the pre-launch facility opened last July.

Catawba Nation Gaming Authority president Mike Ulizio also issued a statement on the expansion. Said Ulizio:

“With the overwhelming success of the Catawba Two Kings Casino’s pre-launch facility since opening, it makes sense to work as quickly as possible to provide additional gaming opportunities for our patrons across the Charlotte region.”

Double the Size of the Gaming Floor

The addition of the gaming machines will double the size of the existing 14,700 square feet gaming area of the pre-launch building and it will increase the total gaming machines at the facility to 1,000.

A representative for Delaware North said the expansion will include the hiring of additional personnel. The pre-launch facility had a manpower of 259 workers when it launched earlier this year. The capacity for the original pre-launch building was 1,100 people.

Site work for the expansion began at the start of this month and is expected to be completed at the end of the year, when Delaware North is expected to begin the construction of the first phase of the permanent Two Kings Casino Resort project.

Pre-Launch Facility

A pre-launch facility of the planned Two Kings Casino opened last July. It was constructed using prefabricated modular structures and has a total gaming area of 14,700 square feet with 500 slot machines. It also offers limited food and beverage and other guest amenities.

The first phase of the project is a larger “temporary” casino is scheduled to begin construction at the end of the year and is expected to be completed in one year. This planned structure will become a part of the full casino and is expected to add 1,300 slot machines to the existing pre-launch facility’s capacity.

Once completed, the full $273 million Two Kings Casino facility will also have table games and a hotel among other features. It is expected to create more than 2,600 permanent jobs at full buildout aside from hiring thousands of laborers during the construction phase.

Midwest Gaming Withdraws Bid for Waukegan Casino License

Row of Slot Machines in Casino

The Waukegan Casino race is down to two applicants after Midwest Gaming withdrew its application.

This was revealed by Illinois Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Frutcher on Thursday shortly before a random draw to determine the order of public presentations by the two remaining groups vying for the Waukegan license.

Las Vegas developer Full House Resorts and Lakeside Casino LLC, a group led by former Grayslake state Sen. Michael Bond are set to make their final presentations before the Board on October 3rd.

Sale of Arlington International Racecourse

Midwest Gaming’s withdrawal did not come without controversy. Hours earlier, Churchill Downs Inc. announced that it would sell Arlington International Racecourse to the Chicago Bears for $197.2M. Midwest Gaming is a joint venture of Churchill Downs and Rush Street Interactive.

But despite speculation, Rush Street spokesman Dennis Culloton said that it was a mere coincidence that they withdrew their application on the same day that the sale of Arlington was announced. Rush Street does not have an interest in the 326-acre parcel that could be the Bears’ destination but the company has a sponsorship deal with the team.

Going for the Chicago Mega-Casino?

The sudden turn of events led to speculation that the Rush Street consortium could be going all-in on a proposal for the recently approved Chicago mega-casino. Churchill Downs has been non-committal about a plan to apply for the Chicago casino which has gotten a lukewarm response from other national gaming developers due to high taxes.

It is also not clear in Churchill Downs or Rush Street Interactive or both as a partnership have applied for the 4,000 position Chicago casino but if they did, they would be considered instant favorites to get the license. RSI’s billionaire owner Neil Bluhm has close ties to Chicago Mayor Loi Lightfoot who earlier moved the deadline for submission of applications to October 29th.

Bally’s Quad Cities Slot Machines Open 24/7

Different Slot Machines
Bally’s Corporation announced on Thursday that the slot machines at its Bally Quad Cities Casino & Hotel will be open 24/2 beginning Friday, October 1st.

Said Travis Haskins, Vice President and General Manager of Bally’s Quad Cities in a press releases:

“Under our new Bally’s ownership and brand, we are excited to be able to expand our gaming times and offerings to our guests. After constricting hours and capacities during the pandemic, we are encouraged and optimistic to be able to expand our gaming to 24/7 for the first time in the property’s history. It is one of several positive changes we have made in the past couple of months as ‘Bally’s Quad Cities’ and essential to remain competitive in this market.”

This marks the first time in the history of the property that it will offer 24/7 gaming and it’s one of the several changes that Bally’s has implemented since acquiring the property for $120M from the Delaware North Companies Gaming & Entertainment last June.

Bally’s Quad Cities New Schedule

Under its new schedule, Bally’s Quad Cities will offer table games starting from 12 noon on Mondays and Tuesdays while stating operations at 9 am from Wednesdays through Sundays. Meanwhile, Poker will be offered from 4pm till midnight from Wednesdays to Sundays.

The Players Club will open at 8 am and will close at midnight from Sundays to Thursdays and 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays. The Blue Square Cafe is open by 7 am and will serve customers until 9 pm on Sundays to Thursdays but will extend up to 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Meanwhile, the Oculus bar is open from 9 am to 3 am daily. Likewise, the hotel front desk is open 24/7.

From Jumers to Bally’s

With Jumers gone after 48 years of making it mark in the Quad Cities, so is the Jumer’s Casino & Hotel which was purchased by Bally’s Corporation three months ago. Not long after, the property is undergoing a rebrand and is now known as Bally’s Quad Cities Casino & Hotel.

The property-wide rebrand is expected to be completed in 2022 but for now, the interior signage of the 13-year old casino has been changed and Bally’s has introduced its all-new Rewards players club program to the Quad Cities.

The former Jumers Casino has a gaming area of 40,000 feet with 870 slot machines, 25 table games, and a 205-room hotel with 11 luxury suites, and events center, the Oculus sports bar, the Edje nightclub, and four restaurants.

San Manuel Casino Rebranded as Yaamava ‘s Resort & Casino

Casinos in California

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians announced on Friday that they are rebranding the San Manuel Casino as the Yaamava’s Resort & Casino.

The move allows the tribe to pursue additional growth opportunities and serve the community under the San Manuel Enterprise.

In a statement, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Chairman Ken Ramirez said:

“Today marks a new chapter of rebirth and boundless potential, so we have given our property a new name—Yaamava’—the Serrano word for ‘spring. We are immensely grateful to our Tribal citizens, the thousands of San Manuel team members, and millions of valued guests over the years, all of whom helped make this moment possible.”

New Visual Identity

The rebrand includes the creation of a new visual identity and logo. The Yaamava’ logo is inspired by the ancestral lands of the Serrano people. It takes the form of yucca plant frond woven in basket pattern. The logo symbolizes an important part of the history of San Manuel in the region, and pays homage to its heritage and culture.

Renaming the property was discussed as early as three years ago when they broke ground on the new hotel and resort. With the tribe expected to close on the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas at the end of this year, the rebranding allows the tribe to lend the name San Manuel name to other business ventures.

Started as a Bingo Hall

The San Manuel Casino spent its first 35 years of existence as a Bingo Hall. In 2018, it broke ground on a $760M expansion. The first of the three-phase project was unveiled this summer with the opening of three new bars, two floors of expanded gaming with more than 1,600 slot machines added, a high-limit gaming room, and three retail shops.

In December, the casino is expected to open a brand new 17-floor hotel with 432 guest rooms and 127 suites. The hotel will have a pool deck and added dining options. The casino is currently working to fill in an estimated 2,500 jobs by the end of 2021 to man the expansion. Next year, a 2,800-seat entertainment venue is being targeted for opening.

Indiana Gaming Commission Receives Four Applications for Vigo County Casino

Casino Floor with Slot Machines and Table Games

The Indiana Gaming Commission posted a list of companies who have applied for the Vigo County Casino license after the deadline for the submission of applications passed at 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

Per the Commission’s website, the applicant are Churchill Downs, Full House Resorts, Inc, Hard Rock Terre Haute, and Terre Haute Entertainment. No other details in the application were mentioned in the publication.

In a statement, IGC executive director Greg Small said:

“We are very pleased with the level of interest in the Vigo County casino license and look forward to a competitive selection process. The work to evaluate these proposals begins immediately, with the goal of setting a Commission meeting date for official action before the end of the year.”

Vigo County Casino License Reopening

The application for the Vigo County casino license was reopened last July 1 after the Commission denied the annual renewal of Lucy Luck Gaming LLC. In its June 24 ruling, the IGC found Lucy Luck ineligible for a license renewal after “extensive review and considering all statutory and regulatory qualifications for renewal”.

The IGC also expressed concerns on Luck Luck’s financing was not complete. It also said that an executive team has yet to be set up. Lucy Luck has appealed the decision of the Commission but the issue is still pending. It remains to be seen how the appeal will affect the process of applications.

Applicants Submitted Detailed Proposals

Applicants were required to submit to the Commission a detailed proposal including “the proposed gaming facilities and proposed non gaming amenities, including any lodging facilities, dining facilities and retail facilities, at the proposed casino” while also paying a $50,000 application fee.

With the application period closed, the IGC will now conduct investigations on the applicants before determining a future date for “Commission action at a business meeting”. The disclosable portion of the proposals will be made available to the public in the coming days.

College Township Council Approves Nittany Mall Casino Development Plan

Hand Holding a $100 Bill Over a Laptop And Casino Games
The land development plan for the proposed casino at the former Macy’s property at the Nittany Mall has been approved by the College Township Council.

The project is still awaiting the approval of its Category 4 casino license from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board before the it can move ahead. The Board held a public input meeting last month and it will hold another similar discussion on a future date where the developer will be given the opportunity to present the plans for the board to vote and decide.

The Nittany Casino

Dubbed as the Nittany Casino in the plans, the project is expected to have 750 slot machines and 30 table games with sports betting also being eyed. A restaurant, bar, mini-outlet, and a quick serve food and beverage area are also in the works in the said casino project.

According to Chad Stafford of project engineer PenTerra, there will be few major renovations to be done for the exterior of the 94,000 square foot facility. However, a sally port will be added on the building’s Benner Pike side while a large canopy will be placed on top of the main entrance on the East College Avenue side.

New License in Centre County

Last September, Penn State trustee Ira Lubert won an auction for a Category 4 gaming license to be situated at Centre County with a $10M bid. In January, Bally’s Corporation announced that it had entered into an agreement with Lubert to develop the $123M mini-casino. Lubert’s group submitted an application that named the former Macy’s at the Nittany Mall as its targeted location.

According to Lubert, a casino at the Nittany Mall would reinvigorate the property and draw many new businesses to the mall itself and the surrounding area. That in turn will create jobs for local residents and hellp drive the region’s economy forward while also providing a new entertainment venue that the community can enjoy.

Massachusetts Casinos Blame Poker’s Absence on Dealer Shortage

Encore Boston Harbor Casino
There is a shortage of poker dealers in the Massachusetts casinos.

This was revealed by a casino executive during a Thursday hearing by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The issue was raised after the commission had received complaints from customers demanding the reintroduction of poker games at Massachusetts’ casinos.

Encore Boston and MGM Springfield, the two casinos in the state, resumed mostly normal operations last May after a difficult 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But since their full reopening, the two casinos have not brought back poker games and the commission started to notice after receiving customer complaints.

Although the two casinos said that they will make a decision on poker before the end of the year, they also insisted that they have not abandoned poker games and are currently adjusting their services based on the client demand and the capacity of their manpowe.

Said Encore Boston Harbor vice-president and general counsel Jaqui Krum to the commission:

“To be clear, we did not say never to poker. We have said just not at this time. We’re constantly readjusting our offerings based on guest demand. Throughout this difficult time, we have really tried to be agile and responsive. However, we do have limited space, and the former poker area is currently occupied by some of our highest-performing slot machines.”

“Simply Cannot Find Enough Dealers”

Krum said that reopening poker tables would cause the closure of other table games. She said that the casino just doesn’t have the staff to operate both right now. According to Krum, Encore “simply cannot find enough dealers” or other workers and has been running dealer schools almost non-stop.

The Encore executive also told commissioners that the casino has a standing offer to all of its poker dealers that the casino will pay for dealer school if they need to be trained to deal a different game in the casino. She also emphasized that Encore is not trying to cut jobs but rather to fit its offerings around the staff that it has available.

Increasing Customer Complaints

Investigations and Enforcement Bureau assistant director Bruce Band told the Commission during Thursday’s hearing that his office has received an increasing number of customer complaints. According to Band, the complaints about the lack of Poker games at Encore have grown from 4 to 5 per month to 40-50 per month in its most recent tally.

Despite that, the Commission decided that it would not take action related to poker just yet with commissioners saying that they want to give the casino operator deference to run the facility in a way that will maximize tax revenue to the state while preserving jobs that come with poker games. The commission however, asked for regular updated of the situation from Encore.

San Manuel Casino to Open First Phase of Expansion on July 24

Wheel Of Fortune Slot
San Manuel Casino will be opening Phase 1 of its expansion on July 24th, which coincides with its 35th anniversary.

The casino first opened as a bingo hall on July 24, 1986. In 1994, the bingo hall transformed to a 100,000 square foot casino that featured slot machines and table games.

Major Expansion

San Manuel Casino is in the middle of a major expansion project that will add the property’s first-ever resort with 432 rooms including 127 suites. A new entertainment venue, a pool deck with its own bar and private cabanas, a spa, expanded gaming space, new dining options, and retail stores.

The opening phase of the expansion includes a larger gaming space, a 24-hour restaurant, a high end dining venue, and 1,300 brand new slot machines. Later this year, the hotel is expected to open while the event center is expected to be completed in early 2022.

Looking to Hire For Thousands of Positions

With its large-scale project, the San Manuel Casino is currently looking to hire approximately 2,500 job employees to fill permanent positions by the end of this year. Interested jobseekers can browse the list of vacancies at the casino’s website at sanmanuelcareers.com.

Recruitment for cooks, cashiers, custodians, janitors, groundskeepers, and other hospitality jobs will begin this month. San Manuel Casino is giving $1,000 in welcome bonuses to those who will be hired while perks of up to $300 will be given to those that will be hired as cooks, kitchen workers, and custodial staff.