Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. As we close out the year, this week’s edition carries a distinct US flavour, featuring fines in Atlantic City, a court reversal in Kentucky and West Virginia sports betting.
The Stars Group has seen a $870m Black Friday ruling against the operator in the US state of Kentucky overturned by an appeal court, reversing in full a December, 2015, trial court judgement.
When, on April 15, 2011 – so-called Black Friday – the US government took sweeping actions against the country’s online gambling operations, enforcing the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, a series of actions and reactions were set in motion – including the $870m lawsuit against PokerStars, lodged by the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
The Kentucky Court of Appeals stated that “allowing a complaint, like the one put forth by the Commonwealth, to move forward would lead to an absurd, unjust result.”
“We applaud the decision of the highly-respected three-judge panel of the Kentucky Court of Appeals,” said Marlon Goldstein, EVP and chief legal officer of The Stars Group. “The merits of the case prevailed, and we look forward to putting this matter behind us as we sharpen our focus on executing on our growth strategy going forward.”
Two of Atlantic City’s land-based establishments have fallen foul of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, after being found to have offered wagers on college football earlier in the year.
Such activity is illegal within the state, with Golden Nugget Atlantic City and Caesars Entertainment Corporation subsequently being found to have broken state regulation.
As a result Caesars, which permits sports wagering at its Bally’s and Harrah’s establishments within the region, was fined $2,000 for taking bets on a September 10 football game between Rutgers and Kansas.
Furthermore, the Golden Nugget was penalised $390, arising from bets associated with various, although unspecified, New Jersey college football games during the same period.
The law applies to every Garden State university and is designed to stop wagering on any college sporting events that take place in the state, regardless of whether or not those events are between New Jersey educational facilities.
Those customers who bet on the games in question will receive a full refund if they can be identified.
Nektan released its full-year financial report, for the period ending June 30, 2018, which saw both revenue and reach grow, whilst losses continued, despite being reduced.
Total revenue grew 52 per cent in the period, to £20.1m up from £13.3m, while net gaming revenue also increased significantly, up 48 per cent to £19.4m from £13.1m a year prior.
New first-time depositing players increased strongly, up 20 per cent year on year to 156,703, whilst total cash wagering was up markedly, by 43 per cent to £560m from £390m in the prior period.
However, losses continued even if adjusted EBITDA loss was reduced to £2.4m, down from a loss of £3.4m in FY 2017. The 12-month period also saw an operating loss of £5.5m, an increase on the £4.6m deficit posted in the previous period.
The figures include 12 months’ operation of Nektan’s US division, compared to six months in the prior year. Excluding the US, adjusted EBITDA loss in the period reduced to £1.4m from £2.7m, which saw an operating loss of £0.5m in H2 versus £0.9m in H1.
Gary Shaw, Nektan founder and executive director, commented: “During the year, Nektan continued to develop its mobile casino product offering, expanded into new geographic markets, launched new product offerings and grew significantly in each quarter.
“We believe that our proprietary technology is unique in the market place and we are now attracting major global partners who wish to use the feature rich gaming content we have worked so hard to populate our platforms with.”
Global hospitality and entertainment firm Delaware North has unveiled two casino-based sportsbooks within West Virginia, in addition to also launching its BetLucky.com online and mobile app for statewide sports wagering.
The retail sportsbooks are located at Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack in Wheeling and Mardi Gras Casino & Resort near Charleston, which opened this week opened after the completion of field testing.
The free BetLucky betting app, available at BetLucky.com or the Apple App Store, is the first to be available in West Virginia and can be used to wager anywhere within the state.
Luisa Woods, vice president of marketing for Delaware North’s gaming division, commented: “We think West Virginians and visitors to the Mountain State are going to love how easy it is to register and use the app.
“The platform was designed to be flexible, easy to use and reliable, with innovative features designed specifically to engage and entertain US sports fans. Patrons at the casinos can use the app or the betting tellers in the sportsbooks.”