Friday, October 17, 2014

Benefiting from The Fixer Upper From Cocoa Casino



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Fixer Upper Player Rating: 12 Stars out of 10 Stars

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Bally and IGT's merger's impact inside the gaming industry



In hindsight, nobody should say they couldn’t see it coming.

The mergers this summer of International Game technology (IGT) and Bally Technologies with lottery suppliers GTECH and Scientific Games have both re-formed the gaming industry and taken its actual shape into focus. A stagnating market always consolidates within the service of profits and a brand new growth story. The controlling narrative for the leading suppliers is now total gaming; selling content to regulated gaming operators the arena over, into whichever segment happens to have access.

The stagnation was the U.S... brick-and-mortar casino industry revenues, that have been flat-to-down since 2007 in lots of key markets. False economic starts and tepid recoveries have put operators in cost reduction mode; suppliers didn't get a hold of a brand new technology that would re-ignite the replacement cycle as ticket-in/ticket-out technology once did; and new competitors came along to take in a growing element of the ever smaller collection of new machine orders that were out there.

“The simple undeniable fact that there has been no discernable relief at the replacement cycle front really put these guys in a tricky spot,” said Christopher Jones, managing director and senior research analyst, Telsey Advisory Group. “What pushed things over the threshold was the influx of competitive pressure available on the market. IGT was consistently losing market share and WMS [Gaming] had collapsed after a perfect multi-year run after which you had new entrants in a market that wasn’t necessarily growing. If anything, it was actually contracting. The surroundings was just resulting in continued misery.”

A NEW DAY FOR OPERATORS

The “Big Five” suppliers that used to face atop the slot world have been reshaped. Bally, IGT, WMS, Konami Gaming and Aristocrat Technologies at the moment are owned by four different companies, but two of these companies are distinctly larger in size, with quite a number product that sets them excluding the competition, and that figures to affect pricing.

“This is a horny important event for the industry,” said Jones. “What now we have is a duopoly. You won’t have operators available in the market seeking to split their order book. Operators loved the variety of the gaming technology space because they may play one against the opposite. They might say Manufacturer A has a box for $18,000, why should I PURCHASE your $23,000 box when it does just nearly as good as yours? Now you’re really going to must go along with any such two combined entities for the majority of your floor. Konami, Multimedia [Games] and Aristocrat don't seem to be going so to fill your casino floor. Their offerings are very limited, their systems backbone is concentrated on somewhat smaller casinos and they’re just not as broad-based. You’re going to must embrace these larger platforms. One of the power swings clear of the operators toward the manufacturers.”

Jones and others see the opportunity of incrementally more consolidation within the industry, even though last month’s purchase of Multimedia Games by Global Cash Access (GCA), two companies with limited overlap, didn’t exactly agree to Wall Street’s expectations.

“Aristocrat/VGT remains to be relatively small; Konami goes to have a troublesome time on a per-machine basis when all is alleged and done, “said Jones, who sees real pricing power accruing to the massive Two. “Your biggest competitors are going to return in with a system that incorporates table games technology, gaming ops and games on the market. The associated fee goes to be one number; they won’t provide you with per-unit pricing and you’re just not likely as a way to compete. There’s no reason to provide a smaller competitor significant market share because there’s unlikely to be numerous upside to that development. Power has a great deal swung back to the manufacturer because of these deals.”

Not everyone agrees at the amount of pricing power that GTECH and SciGames could have within the casino business, but there should a minimum of be some relief at the discounting side, said Todd Eilers, director of research, Eilers Research.

“I don’t think things are so consolidated or can be with the deals still to come, that vendors are going to have pricing power,” said Eilers. “You still have Konami; Aristocrat; Multimedia, despite the fact that it’s owned by GCA; Aruze; Ainsworth; up and up-and-coming companies like Incredible Technologies. There are options in the market and a few of them are still pretty sizable, with quality product and shipping an excellent amount of games. I BELIEVE the consolidation will relieve a bit of of the pressure relating to discounting and such things as that. But I don’t think things are going to so consolidated that these guys are going to have the ability to boost prices.”

SYNERGIES & NEW MARKETS

The price tags at the IGT and Bally deals are $6.4 billion and $5.1 billion respectively. The deals may be paid via a mix of realizing cost synergies and having access to new revenue potential, with a heavy emphasis at the former.

There may be no shortage of pressure. Alex Bumazhny, director Fitch Ratings, wrote in a note last month that the suppliers are “sizably exposed” at the variable rate debt side and thus prone to any rise in short-term interest rates, which he deems “likely” over the following one to 3 years. Including Aristocrat’s earlier $1.3 billion purchase of VGT, the four acquisitions announced among casino suppliers over the last three months, “places about $22 billion of debt on about $3.7 billion of EBITDA excluding synergy benefits. This equates to an aggregate 6X debt/EBITDA ratio for these suppliers in comparison to 2X debt/EBITDA in 2012, before the wave of consolidation began. Higher leverage and rising rates of interest may make refinancing on acceptable terms challenging when the suppliers’ cheap short-term rate debt starts coming due in early 2020s.”

Jones said the GTECH/IGT deal is compelling from the standpoint of being less leveraged than SciGames/Bally. “I just like the capital structure a bit of better,” he said. “There could also be going to be a tax benefit as a result of UK listing. I do just like the merger of 2 companies which can be 900-pound gorillas of their environment. I FEEL GTECH will probably do what everyone have been telling IGT to do for a while, that's to make a decision whether or not they are based in Reno or Las Vegas and realize a few of those corporate efficiencies sooner as opposed to later.  I do think that probably the most success they’ve had with DoubleDown adds to the synergies; there’s not a heck of a large number of overlap. It really seems like a real merger of businesses where 1+1 will equal 3. I FEEL they’re going to have a lot better distribution, although I MIGHT have preferred to look a more robust Asian distribution from a type of companies. I FEEL they’re still a bit of weak at the Asian exposure and the electronic table games area as well, which I BELIEVE is a space where IGT has taken its eye off the ball. They’re looking to play catch-up with their new partnership with LT Games.”

As for SciGames/Bally, they’ve pop out with a $220 million synergy number which means there's a fair amount of overlap, said Jones. “Certainly, there's a significant amount of overlap between Bally and WMS at the gaming ops side of the business. They've insisted they will run the ops business as separate companies but I LOCATE that can’t be true because they, hopefully, will develop a joint protocol which might give them more leverage. It might be silly to not use the similar purchasing environment and never gain leverage on a buy; the very last thing on the earth you’d need to do is compete with one another on a purchasing environment.”

On the revenue side, there may be enthusiasm for the whole gaming vision that may be implied by the combo of leading slot machine and lottery suppliers.

“Whether you’re running a lottery, a racino or a casino, the back-end system is all pretty similar; they’re all running off the similar platforms and accounting systems, ” said Brent Pirosch, director of gaming consulting for CBRE’s Global Gaming Group. “IGT/GTECH and Bally/SciGames became the touchpoint for the entire industry by virtue in their back-end systems. “Anywhere you're thinking that there could be growth coming, they're now well-positioned for the longer term. IGT and GTECH are the primary guys at the ground in any jurisdiction. If you’re a kind of guys who believes that airports are next in relation to being good new locations for slot machines, or whichever branch grows the fastest, they’ve got a beautiful deep hook into it.”

For GTECH and SciGames, the increased range of opportunity addresses problems at the lottery side in their business which aren't dissimilar from challenges faced by the casino segment.

“Growth in lotteries has slowed; privatization was presupposed to be a large opportunity and that never really materialized,” said Eilers. “Where it did, it was not necessarily a fair thing for the vendors, i.e., GTECH in Illinois. A logical expansion strategy was to get entangled with the industrial casino business. SciGames made that bet with WMS. They saw an immense opportunity to roll up the corporations within the domestic space here and saw a large number of cost synergies. What I’ve seen through the years is that lotteries are more or less a me-too business model; whatever one does the opposite emulates.”

With that, Eilers said it made perfect sense that GTECH would do an identical deal to SciGames/WMS. “When IGT was up on the market it made logical sense for GTECH to return in. They’ve already partnered in Italy with the VLT market there.  There’s a possibility to take that land-based slot content and use it on a government-sponsored VLT arena, whether or not it's Italy, Greece or a commercially distributed market just like the UK betting shops. Gaining access to that content and having the ability to deploy it across VLT or VLT-like markets is a good thing about owning a conventional slot company. That still creates a bonus after they go after new VLT markets.”

On the interactive side, lotteries, like casinos, have an interest in building out interactive businesses. “That marries nicely with what one of the vital slot vendors are doing in that space,” said Eilers. “Casinos and lotteries are faced with similar problems in looking to tap right into a younger demographic specifically. Lotteries are making efforts at the interactive side. Mobile is a large opportunity. I FEEL you’ll continue to peer state lotteries be just as aggressive, if no more so, within the area of Internet-based sales. In a large number of cases, it’s slightly easier for lotteries to get into that market because they don’t necessarily want to pass any type of law. It varies and it may be complicated, but, in numerous states, the argument will also be made that lotteries are allowed to sell games over the web. In states and not using a large casino lobby, you’ll see lotteries remain aggressive in this front.”

MORE TO COME?

The flurry of deals within the slot space still leaves the door open for further combinations, even one who might involve another lottery player. The name that comes up generally is Intralot, an Athens, Greece-based company which generated about $2 billion in revenue in 2013. The firm recently made news in Ohio, where it placed 750 of its EZ Play gaming terminals in fraternal organizations within the state under the auspices of the Ohio Lottery.

“It would make perfect sense that they might have an interest in doing something, but I haven’t really heard their name mentioned as an interested buyer,” said Eilers. “They have a tight U.S. presence, more so at the draw-based lotto side. In my mind, they'd be a logical buyer.”

Absent another big lottery/casino supplier deal, Eilers thinks it might make sense for smaller companies to team up. There are, as he points out, extenuating circumstances though.

“It would have made sense for Konami to shop for Multimedia, for instance, but it's important to understand that they’re a part of a larger, Japanese organization and the japanese culture is traditionally not big on M&A,” said Eilers. “Aruze has a big owner who's very wealthy and isn't driven by the similar issues and concerns as a public company; he doesn’t necessarily need to sell or buy. In general, I BELIEVE you may still see consolidation occurring within the industry. As these big deals ripple in the course of the industry, the lower- and middle-tier players are going to need to do something in addition. You’ve already seen that with Global Cash buying Multimedia.”


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Casinos In Ohio Not Meeting Expectations As State Budget Suffers



Published on December 9, 2013 by Terry Goodwin

It took lawmakers several attempts to convince Ohio residents that casinos can be beneficial to the state budget. The legislators and lobbyists ran with the concept not just the tax revenue, but in addition the industrial impact of getting casinos in a town would far outweigh the negative possibilities.

After years of trying, residents finally embraced the idea, authorizing four casinos back in 2008. The cities of Toledo, Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati received the rights to host the casinos, and last year the gaming facilities were off and running. Within the year for the reason that casinos opened, revenue has fallen in need of expectations.

The 2013 budget proposed by Governor John Kasich included $958 million in tax revenue from casino gaming. The real figure came out to $868 million, falling nearly $100 million in need of expectations. That has ended in some questions in Ohio as casino operators seek for answers, and lawmakers spoke to the unpredictability of projections.

"Estimates of casino revenue are very difficult to foretell while you have no prior performance to head off," said Fred Church, Deputy Director of the Office of Budget and Management.

Year two may be equally hard for lawmakers to predict, because the first year is usually the next grossing revenue producer than years yet to come. The joy of the brand new casinos have worn off, and now the gaming facilities must depend on their loyal customers to drive revenue. Analysts predict that it takes three years before accurate predictions of casino revenue will also be made.

The developers of the four casinos, Penn National Gaming and Rock Gaming, pay the state a 33% tax on slot revenue. That may be probably the most highest percentages within the US, and indicates the small margins that the operators are engaged on.

While the 2013 revenue projections were off, officials in all four cities, and the state, are preparing for less revenue in 2014. Budget adjustments are being made upwards of $1 million in each city, and an adjustment of around $10 million is predicted within the state budget for next year.


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Historic Atlantic City Casino Given to Lenders



The first casino within the US outside Nevada completed a deal to maintain it operating by letting lenders take the gambling venue in exchange for dropping the debts owed.

Play Now at Slots Oasis! Resorts Atlantic City, notable for being the primary modern legal casino outside Nevada, was released by its owners to lenders in a deal approved by regulators yesterday. The brand new Jersey Casino Control Commission said it might allow the casino's lenders to take control of the gambling facility in exchange for a cancellation of debts owed.

The move allows the primary casino to open in Atlantic City after the legalization of casino gambling in 1978 to continue to function. And not using a deal, the gaming venue was almost sure to close, as operators could not pay the mortgage and other bills.

A new corporation referred to as RAC Atlantic City Holdings LLC was formed by the consortium of lenders, which incorporates Wells Fargo, to function Resorts. Regulators gave the brand new company a one-year casino license.

Nicholas Ribisi, who co-owned the casino with Colony Capital, will continue to hold an interest within the resort, in addition to manage the valuables. Ribisi also retains ownership of the gaming equipment within the casino.

Ribisi vowed to stick involved, and told the brand new York Times that he'd work to enhance the casino and potentially buy it back from the holding company.

Resorts' debts were revealed to be $337 million greater than the sum of its assets.

Published on November 20, 2009 by VirginiaMaddox


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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Nice to satisfy you, Mr Peru



This year's Americas Cup winners' photo won't feature Team Peru. A Mexican clean sweep within the semi-finals, followed by a loss to Colombia in a subsequent play-off, quickly put paid to such ideas. Instead, the Peruvian quintet will take 'just' $2,500 each back to their home country. Can we see them when the following Americas Cup-style tournament rolls into paradise? It's impossible to mention. That is, unless after all we're talking about Luis Felipe Villaran Bedoya.

Or as I REALLY LIKE to name him, "Mr Peru".

pca2014.acp.humberto luis villaran.jpg

Mr Peru and Mr Costa Rica at this year's Americas Cup of Poker

This weekend Mr Peru represented his country on the poker tables for a 3rd straight year. In 2012 he was a part of an international Cup of Poker winning side and personally collected greater than $22,500. A year later he added $2,500 after his team finished fourth in a preceding Americas Cup of Poker in Panama.

Yet now, stood within the brightly lit, marble-floored hallway that leads from the Imperial Ballroom back to the Atlantis Resort's thousands of hotel rooms, Mr Peru looks somewhat deflated about today's $2,500 prize.

"It's a disappointment, but it's poker," he says of Team Peru's fourth place finish. "WE STOCK the hopes of the poker community and it feels very, superb (to symbolize Peru). I THINK a large number of proud."

Dressed in his team's red and white colours, Mr Peru's "proud" is obviously on display here in Atlantis. When he is not living his other life as stock broker in Lima, he plays tournaments on PokerStars on a semi-professional basis, and during the last few years his presence at events like these have turned him right into a poker somebody in Peru. It is a fame that may be thoroughly deserved.

Thousands of individuals tried to qualify for this year's Americas Cup. But Mr Peru beat them. Thousands likely tried to qualify for the sector Cup of Poker. But, again, Mr Peru beat them. Such consistency in poker isn't common place. In order the Mexican and Chilean teams butt-heads round the corner within the Americas Cup final, what does he believe the important thing to consistency is?

"A lot of discipline and difficult work," says Villaran. "To qualify for the Americas Cup I played between two and 3 tournaments for nearly 28 days in a row. It was constant. I wasn't looking to win the tournaments but just earn points, points, points. NUMEROUS players don't understand that, they simply need to win."

pca2014.acp.002.luis villaran-2-3.jpg

Luis Felipe Villaran Bedoya: once, twice, thrice a Peruvian player

Apparently if you wish to follow in such successful footsteps and take a shot at Americas Cup glory, you will have to be "a rock at the start" of every qualifying tournament, and make good use of the time clock.

"If the button passes you and you've got one blind and one point locked up, I prefer to not push. By the point the blinds comes you might have much more points. I LOVE to maintain my blinds."

Judging by Villaran's record in such matters and the calm way he delivers each word, it is a strategy I WOULD NOT argue with. But can such consistency realistically continue?

"Yeah, sure," he says. "THAT IS my third time so I WOULD LIKE to return again."

Until next year then I guess, Mr Peru. All of the best.


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Read More... [Source: PokerStarsBlog.com :: Americas Cup]

Heavyweight Gold New Addition of I-slot At Cocoa Casino



^Online casino players can Float like a Butterfly and Sting like a Bee in Cocoa Casino’s latest I-slot, Heavy Weight Gold. Powered by Rival Gaming, Cocoa Casino have been offering interesting and level filled I-slots for some time now. Similar to wine, they're recovering with age. The 5 reel video bonus I-slot has [...]
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