Operations

Research Brief: State Legislative Update on U.S. Sports Betting & Online Gaming – July 2021

The Halftime Report

Over the last 18 months, the world has faced serious challenges.  The paradigm has been turned upside down again and again with the impacts of SARS-CoV-2 and government mandates that have altered the landscape.  These challenges continue as events such as the Olympics will proceed for the first time without fans in the stands, including international visitors that bring significant economic benefit and global attention to the host nation.  This was one of the goals of showcasing the country of Japan to the world, but now the Games will also be without locals.  This has further angered local residents that did not want to host the games during the pandemic as they now will not be able to attend.

The year of 2021 in sports betting will be known for it’s one-upmanship, and this is not because the legislation for sports betting was improving and becoming more refined in using best practices achieved in other states.  It is instead the polar opposite, where the next state tries to one-up the others’ ability to craft a more unique market that often does not bode well for operators and, in the end, the consumers.  Each state that will be highlighted in further detail below has shown unconventional and ineffective path toward crafting their market, including tax rates set at upwards of 50 percent, ambiguity in the law that has caused the regulator to question key elements of their license structure, and in cone case a compact that likely violates the constitutional amendment that was pushed by the same tribe.

View Full Article Read More

Research Brief: State Legislative Update on U.S. Land-Based Gaming – July 2021

The Mid-Year Point

As the United States hits the midway point of this year, most state legislatures have adjourned their regular sessions. While some legislatures will come back in the fall because of the full-time status, most will only come back for a special session to handle redistricting that continues to to be delayed as states waif for data from the Biden Administration. Below is a summary of the current status in some key states:

View Full Article Read More

Mergers & Acquisitions – The More Things Change, The More Things Stay The Same

As the gaming industry continues to evolve, so do the industry players, corporations, suppliers, and other stakeholders.  The only constant among this group is that change thrives in this environment.

While some of the players may still look the same since before the pandemic, the hats they appear to wear can vary, as seen with such a high volume of mergers, acquisitions, and other corporate activities over the years.  Even through the pandemic, there was no stopping these continued efforts as companies either were slowed by the initial Great Shutdown or sought new opportunities to move forward.

View Full Article Read More

Research Brief: State Legislative Update on U.S. Sports Betting & Online Gaming – June 2021

It has now been more than three years since the repeal of PASPA, with the New Jersey and Delaware markets reaching their three-year anniversary since launching sports betting operations.  It has also been three years of ups and down with the sports calendar and with sports betting revenue.  Revenue for the most part continues to climb, although it is difficult to find a stabilized year of data over the last twelve months due to the pandemic.  While is may be some time as the border wars continue, it will be critical to understand the full growth potential for this expansion opportunity in the gaming industry.

The industry continues to face the challenges of SARS-Cov-2, as seen most recently during the Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour.  Jon Rahm, who at the time was up by six strokes, had to withdraw from the tournament because of a positive test.  While the PGA let him finish the round and notify him in a bizarre 18th hole revelation, it remind the sports community that this pandemic is far from over, especially on a global scale.  Sportsbooks took the change in the marketing in different ways with some counting it as a withdrawal and returning wagers to players, while other took it as a win for Rahm who had a dominant lead.  This did lead to several conversation throughout the industry on how to deal with these and other incidents in the future, as well as the implications on responsible gaming and potential effects into the future.

View Full Article Read More

Research Brief: State Legislative Update on U.S. Land-Base Gaming – May 2021

The legislative cycle is coming toward the end of its run for 2021 with only a handful of states remaining that have policy implications other than those states that have full time legislatures. With most focus at this point on Louisiana (the last legislature to go into session this year) and Connecticut on sports betting, a number of land-based opportunities did not materialize into expansion. However, there are options that continue to be discussed across the country that prove that land-based gaming is still very much alive.

Almost every casino is back open in the United States following the Great Shutdown. In several cases, business is currently booming, as seen in the resurgence of the gaming industry that faced its greatest challenge that was imposed by government mandates. Nevada is a prime example of this as it just saw one of the best months it has ever had in generating gaming revenue, surpassing the $1 billion mark. Destinations such as the Las Vegas strip are seeing the return of the leisure customer that is excited to be back after over a year of closures. Part of this has been through the continued health and safety measures of the industry, vaccination efforts that began late in 2020, and the relaxation of draconian polices that were not always rooted in evidence-based research.

View Full Article Read More

Windy City Gaming: Chicago will finally plant its flag for a casino development

Casinos in urban environments, not always the norm, have offered challenges in certain jurisdictions.

Major markets such as Philadelphia have had casinos near downtown for years. Pittsburgh and Detroit also feature casino gaming in downtown settings. The Washington, D.C. market, with MGM National Harbor, has also made an impact. But in recent years, more developers have embraced urban environments to meld properties into the fabric of the greater communities they serve. Two of the more recent examples were in Massachusetts, with MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor.

Some of the greatest opportunities for gaming expansion in the United States remain in urban settings. For years, New York, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas and Houston have been seen as potential expansion sites. But the most immediate opportunity exists in Chicago, which will locate a gaming development within the city itself.

View Full Article Read More

Strip Reset: COVID-19 is definitely challenging, but does the crisis present opportunities for a Vegas makeover?

Las Vegas soared until recent years, but we’ve reached the tipping point, where it’s necessary for the Strip to redefine itself again. Las Vegas is like no other place in the world. It’s the entertainment and sports capital of the world. It has the most amazing resorts. It just needs to remember our industry’s roots, redeliver on customer service, and provide value.

Covid-19 has devastated the industry and the greater Las Vegas economy. With the resulting industry shutdown, the city must take the opportunity to develop a strategy to reopen, reinvigorate and recapture its guests.

For the first time in well over a decade, both Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts, which between them operate 18 Las Vegas Strip resorts, have new leadership teams. These teams are comprised of seasoned casino industry professionals—not outsiders from professions other than hospitality—who have the ability to make these changes.

View Full Article Read More

Research Brief: Understanding Casino Operations

Given the uncertainties of coronavirus disease (“COVID-19”), investors are looking to understand the general operating parameters of a given casino operation and fixed versus variable expenses. This document provides detail on the intricacies of casino operations from a revenue and expense standpoint, including gaming revenues, operating expenses, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (“EBITDA”). The goal of this exercise is to provide an understanding of how these items may fluctuate between operators, as well as between jurisdictions. Additionally, this document will provide readers with an understanding of fixed versus variable expenses (for facilities that are open), allowing investors to more accurately project the performance of target properties under a variety of recovery scenarios.

The following discussion is based on Global Market Advisors’ (“GMA”) experience of reviewing hundreds of income statements from casino properties across the world. For the purposes of this analysis, GMA focused its evaluation on regional gaming operations in the United States, representing casino operations that have generated between $50 and $700 million in annual gaming revenue. Often, the only access that investors may have to operating income statements would be from those published from Nevada and New Jersey. As will be seen within this document, many departmental and overall margins vary greatly from casinos between these and other states. While many operations may have expenses that lie outside of the ranges presented in this report, the overwhelming majority of regional casinos across the United States likely fall within these ranges.

View Full Article Read More

Rethinking Food & Beverage

Of all the issues facing casino leadership, there is no greater quandary than solving the food & beverage equation. Restaurants in particular, present a host of issues. They are notoriously expensive to operate, consuming copious amounts of labor and product costs. Rarely do individual outlets post a profit and departmental profit is often dependent on beverage sales. High levels of customer satisfaction can be difficult to achieve, given that many players visit the same restaurant outlets on each visit, and in turn get bored with the menu selection. Perhaps the hardest aspect is balancing the needs of very frequent players while using food & beverage as a tool to attract new customers. Given all this, it may be time for casino operators to rethink their food & beverage programs.

Both commercial casinos in regional markets and Indian casino operators have historically adopted the same basic restaurant strategies, offering a buffet, three-meal room, quick-serve outlet and perhaps a more upscale steakhouse/ special occasion restaurant. Before undertaking a wholesale redesign of food & beverage outlets, it is important to understand how this basic suite of restaurant products came to be and then ask if those products meet the needs of the business and the preferences of today’s customers.

View Full Article Read More

Lessons from the Casino Industry

The casino gaming industry has long been perceived as a competitor to state lotteries. While it can be argued that the country’s adult population has a limited budget for all kinds of wagering, lotteries and casinos have, in fact, long operated in harmony. Casino expansion across the United States has not impeded growth of lotteries and lotteries did not affect the growth of casino gaming. The reality is that lotteries and casinos do not so much compete as share gamers. People buy scratch cards and draw tickets from budgets that are exclusive of casino gaming budgets. This is most evident during periodic events of lottery frenzy, when mega-jackpots attract widespread consumer and media interest. In those states that offer both casino gaming and lotteries, casino gambling does not decline during mega-jackpot events.

Both industries have grown but for different reasons. State and provincial lotteries continue to introduce new games and improve merchandising at the point of purchase. Lotteries also continue to expand their channels of distribution, signing up new retailers, and increasing the number of vending machine locations. Casino operators also continue to introduce new games, primarily electronic, and enhance their gaming environments. They also employ a variety of marketing strategies that are mostly unavailable to, or have never been considered by, state lotteries. Nonetheless, there are valuable lessons that lottery operators can learn from the casino gaming industry – in particular, customer engagement and customer relationship management.

View Full Article Read More