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Casino City’s Friday Five: Merger edition

19 Oct 2018

By Dan Ippolito
The NBA season is underway and the World Series starts next week. This week there was news including both professional sports leagues and their annual revenues. Also catching our attention this week were a massive rumored merger involving two of the world's biggest operators, an online jackpot, a new sportsbook with Hard Rock International and a large acquisition.

Why don’t we begin with the jackpot winner?

5. Jackpot at Casumo
Casumo player Ida from Sweden landed a €131,546.60 jackpot win with a €0.40 bet on 27 September.

Ida was playing the popular progressive NetEnt slot Divine Fortune with €0.40 spins when she found herself staring at a mega jackpot win of €131,546.60.

She was playing at Casumo using her mobile phone late on a Thursday evening when she managed to get into the bonus round and scoop up the large amount.

Ida explained, "Our new dog kept me awake late in the evening so I just stayed in bed watching TV and playing on my phone. Somehow I got into the bonus game and pressed the button quickly." Ida thought she had won 131,000 SEK, but when she realized it was euro, she started to panic.

4. Penn National Gaming completes acquisition of Pinnacle Entertainment
Penn National Gaming announced earlier this week that it completed its previously announced acquisition of Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. as well as the related divestitures to Boyd Gaming Corporation and the real estate transactions with Gaming and Leisure Properties.

The transaction further enhances Penn National’s position as North America’s leading regional gaming operator, with 40 facilities in 18 jurisdictions: Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia. In aggregate, Penn National will now operate more than 49,000 gaming machines, 1,200 table games and nearly 9,000 hotel rooms, and employ more than 30,000 team members.

In connection with the transaction, Boyd Gaming purchased Pinnacle’s gaming operations at Ameristar Kansas City and Ameristar St. Charles in Missouri; Belterra Casino Resort in Indiana; and Belterra Park Gaming & Entertainment Center in Ohio, for approximately $563.5 million in cash, subject to certain customary closing adjustments.

Timothy J. Wilmott, Chief Executive Officer of Penn National, commented, “Our acquisition of Pinnacle Entertainment marks a significant milestone in Penn National’s 24-year history of growth as a public company, which has been predicated on our unwavering commitment to deliver exceptional entertainment to customers, support for the local communities where we operate and enhancement of value for our shareholders.”

3. NBA and MLB could see $1.7 billion from legalized sports betting
Annual revenues for Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) may increase by $1.1 billion and $585 million, respectively, due to widely available, legal, regulated sports betting, according to a new Nielsen Sports study commissioned by the American Gaming Association.

According to Nielsen Sports, greater fan engagement and viewership could boost the two leagues’ total annual revenue from media rights, sponsorships, merchandise and ticket sales, producing $952 million for MLB and $425 million for the NBA from increased consumption of the leagues’ products.

AGA recently released revenue projections for the NFL and NHL, showing that those leagues and teams stand to gain $2.3 billion and $216 million, respectively, from widely available, legal, regulated sports betting.

2. GiG signs LOI for sportsbook with Hard Rock International
Gaming Innovation Group Inc. (GiG) has signed a Letter of Intent with Hard Rock International for the provision of an omni-channel sportsbook platform in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino - Atlantic City, which opened on The Boardwalk this past summer to great fanfare.

The intention of the LOI is to execute an agreement and launch the sportsbook in New Jersey in Q4 2018.

1. Proposed Caesars merger is part of a larger trend in gaming industry
Sources told CNBC on Wednesday that Golden Nugget Casinos owner Tilman Fertitta wants to make a deal with Caesars Entertainment that values the casino at $13 per share. Shares of Caesars jumped more than 14 percent immediately following news of the potential merger.

Macquarie's Chad Beynon says that despite strong fundamentals, valuations in the gaming industry are "near five-year lows," which may be the reason more companies are exploring mergers.

The reverse merger, with Caesars as the acquirer, would exchange stock in a private company owned by Fertitta for shares in Caesars. Fertitta, who also owns the Houston Rockets basketball team, would serve as chairman and CEO of the combined company.

Beynon maintains his $15 price target for Caesars even though it is higher than what Fertitta's proposed deal would value the shares.

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