Bet On It: Event Wagering Compact Amendment Reached In Wisconsin

This week in the sports betting and iGaming space, Louisiana sports betting faces a regulatory hurdle and Macau gaming revenue surges.

SECTOR NEWS

WynnBET, a sports betting app from Wynn Resorts (WYNN), announced it has partnered with the San Carlos Apache Tribe to pursue an online sports betting license in Arizona. This marks the 16th state added to the rapidly growing list of jurisdictions where WynnBET operates or plans to launch. In Arizona, WynnBET will work directly with the San Carlos Apache Tribal Gaming Enterprise, which operates the Apache Gold Casino and Apache Sky Casino, to secure licensure. WynnBET's market access to the state is subject to license eligibility and availability as well as regulatory approvals.

On the other side of the United States, Genius Sports (GENI) announced that it has been granted a permanent sports wagering license by the West Virginia Lottery Commission. Genius Sports is now operational in 13 U.S. states. West Virginia was the fifth U.S. state to offer legal and regulated sports betting when it launched in 2018.

Casino companies, such as Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands (LVS), MGM Resorts (MGM) and Melco Resorts (MLCO), operating in Macau were in focus on Thursday after it was reported that gaming revenue in the region surged almost 813% last month compared to the same month of last year. Macau's Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau said gross revenue from games of fortune in the region increased 812.5% to 6.535B patacas in June compared to the same month of last year. This compares to a 492.2% year-over-year increase to 10.445B patacas in May compared to the same month of last year and a 1,014.4% year-over-year increase in April to 8.4B patacas. Year-to-date GGR is 49.023B patacas, a 45.4% increase from 33.72B patacas last year. 

MGM Resorts announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase Infinity World Development Corp's 50% interest in CityCenter Holdings for $2.13B. The purchase price represents an implied valuation of $5.8B based on net debt of $1.5B, after giving effect to the recently closed sale of a two-acre parcel. The agreement will make MGM Resorts the 100% owner of CityCenter on the Las Vegas Strip, which is comprised of Aria Resort & Casino and Vdara Hotel and Spa.

MGM Resorts has also entered into a definitive agreement with Blackstone (BX) to monetize the Aria and Vdara real estate assets, pending the close of the equity purchase agreement between MGM Resorts and Infinity World. Under terms of the agreement, funds managed by Blackstone will acquire the Aria and Vdara real estate for $3.89B in cash, which represents a multiple of 18.1x rent. Following the acquisition, both properties will be leased to MGM Resorts for initial annual rent of $215M. The transactions are expected to close in the third quarter, subject to certain closing conditions. The closing of the Infinity World transaction is not contingent on the closing of the transaction with Blackstone. 

Scientific Games (SGMS) announced that the company, with the support of its board, intends to divest its Lottery and Sports Betting businesses. Scientific Games is evaluating strategic alternatives to execute the divestitures for each business, respectively, including an initial public offering, or IPO, or a combination with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, or a sale or a strategic combination with another business. There can be no assurances that Scientific Games' exploration of alternatives for its Lottery and Sports Betting businesses will result in any transactions or other actions by the company. Jefferies analyst David Katz raised the firm's price target on Scientific Games to $95 from $62 and reiterated a Buy rating on the shares following the announcement. The "new version" of Scientific Games has "compelling attributes" as the Gaming business has the potential to execute more effectively and he believes the opportunities in iGaming and social gaming would be "rapid growers in the near term at least," said Katz, who has raised his target multiple on the shares.

WISCONSIN COMPACT AMENDED TO INCLUDE EVENT WAGERING 

Governor Tony Evers and Oneida Chairman Tehassi Hill signed a compact amendment on Thursday that expands allowable gaming at Oneida Nation casinos and affiliate locations in the state of Wisconsin to include event wagering. This compact amendment will be the first to allow event wagering, including sports betting, to occur in Wisconsin. Following the signing, the compact amendment will be sent to the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs for a 45-day review. The compact amendment signed follows months of negotiations between the Oneida Nation and the Wisconsin Department of Administration’s, or DOA, Division of Gaming. The compact amendment was voted on by the Oneida Nation Business Committee on Wednesday. Following the signing of the compact amendment by Governor Evers and chairman Hill, the agreement will be sent to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, or BIA. BIA will have 45 days to review and approve the compact amendment. If approved, the Oneida Nation can begin expanding operations to allow event wagering at Oneida Casino.

The compact amendment also allows for remote event wagering on land owned by the Nation or held in trust for the Nation by the federal government that contains a commercial building owned or leased by the Nation. The Nation hopes to begin offering event wagering in time for the upcoming football season. “I’m grateful to Chairman Hill and the Oneida General Tribal Council for their partnership on this historic compact amendment,” said Gov. Evers. “The Oneida Casino is a critical source of revenue and employment for Oneida Nation and this expansion will bring new opportunities for employment and revenue growth to the Tribe.”

LOUISIANA SPORTS BETTING HITS SNAG

Louisiana's sports betting implementation is being delayed by the absence of a gambling regulatory chief, state Senate president Page Cortez said in an interview with USA Today. Governor John Bel Edwards has signed a series of bills by Cortez, Senator Rick Ward of Port Allen and Representative John Stefanski of Crowley legalizing the framework for sports betting. However, the Gaming Control Board must decide the rules before before the casinos can create sportsbooks and restaurants and bars can secure kiosks where bets can be placed. "It's a little bit of a hiccup," Cortez said. "We don't have a Gaming Control Board chair, and until then the board can't promulgate the rules." Former board chair Mike Noel resigned on June 9 rather than face a Senate confirmation hearing where he could have been questioned about actions by his State Police.

Edwards’ spokesperson, Christina Stephens, says the governor “looks forward to making an appointment sooner rather than later.” The Daily Advertiser noted that there has been speculation that Lake Charles Senator Ronnie Johns is in consideration for the role. Pat Evans of Legal Sports Report reported that the legislative process for Louisiana sports betting was streamlined. Stefanski told LSR that was likely because of the voter mandate from November 2020 when 55 of 64 parishes and 65% of all voters approved sports betting. That speed reportedly left optimism the goal of launching by this fall was obtainable, but this new development could but that soft deadline in jeopardy. 

THE CORE FOUR

Ryan Butler of Action Network noted that four state legislatures that are still in session are considering sports betting legalization bills with hopes in 2021. Those states are: 

  1. Ohio
  2. North Carolina
  3. Massachusetts 
  4. Maine

In Ohio, the state Senate passed an online and retail sports betting bill on June 24 with hopes the House do the same by June 30. On the contrary, no vote was taken and lawmakers aren’t set to reconsider the bill until this fall. Massachusetts lawmakers have introduced a variety of sports betting bills the past two years. Reportedly, none have garnered serious consideration from the legislature. Maine is on the verge of sending a new bill to Governor Janet Mills' desk, but Butler said her signature is no sure bet. North Carolina’s retail sports betting bill passed the state legislature with bipartisan support. On the other hand, a statewide mobile betting proposal has not gained nearly as much momentum.

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