Final decision on May 19

Nevada regulators recommend slot route operator Accel for two-year license after Century Gaming acquisition

Accel Entertainment's gaming machines.
2022-05-12
United States
Reading time 2:18 min

The Nevada Gaming Control Board has held a licensing hearing for a proposed $140 million takeover of Century Gaming -Nevada’s second-largest slot route operator- by Illinois-based firm Accel Entertainment. Regulators recommended that Accel receive a two-year gaming license after Century’s leadership eased worries in regards to the transaction during the contentious meeting, reports The Nevada Independent.

Regulators have a series of concerns in regards to Accel, Illinois' largest slot machine route operator. These include a $5 million fine the company is facing in its home market over an agreement signed with sports betting giant DraftKings; and the handling of sexual harassment charges against a former company official.

Additionally, Nevada regulators brought up questions about regulatory compliance in the licensing hearing, which reportedly lasted about two hours. “I don’t know that I believe you’re going to be fully compliant,” Control Board Chairman Brin Gibson said in connection to concerns with Accel’s record, according to the cited source.

After Accel officials addressed the Control Board, Century Gaming CEO Steven Arntzen alleviated some of the major concerns and expressed intentions to remain the chief executive of Century. This led regulators, which are satisfied with Century’s compliance record, to recommend that Accel receive a two-year gaming license.

According to The Nevada Independent, the Nevada Gaming Commission is now set to make a final decision on the recommendation, in a hearing scheduled for May 19. If granted a license, Accel would then have to reapply in 2024 following the closure of the initial two-year period. 

Slot route operators are companies that own and operate slot machines in non-casino locations, providing a service to small businesses -such as restaurants and convenience stores- that they would otherwise not be able to afford. They are generally licensed in the same manner as a casino, and in Nevada, they are regulated by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Accel is Illinois’ largest operator in this space, with more than 2,500 locations and 13,600 video gaming terminals deployed in the state. Companies within this segment either pay a fee to the location’s owner to lease the space for the games, or have a revenue-sharing agreement with the business.

By acquiring Century, Accel intends to expand its national footprint not only to the key market of Nevada but also Montana, where Century’s headquarters are located and where the operator has 5,800 games in 475 locations. In Nevada, the business is second only to leader Golden Entertainment, which has 8,324 slots in the state (considerably more than Century’s 2,580).

Accel’s acquisition deal includes two Century gaming tech divisions, reports The Nevada Independent. These are the Nevada-based Gamblers Bonus player rewards program, with a database of 127,000 customers; and slot machine developer Grand Vision Gaming, which has about 9,000 games across five states.

During the hearing, Arntzen said he intended to continue leading until retirement the company’s management team that operates Century’s business in Nevada and Montana once the deal closes. He also explained to regulators that Accel’s backing, which he described as “the right fit,” would permit his company to expand in existing and future markets.

Meanwhile, Accel officials told regulators the company could potentially be operating about 24,000 video gaming terminals by the year’s end, and that the business would be present in nine states after the deal closes. CEO Andy Rubenstein further said, according to The Nevada Independent, that Century was “the first step” in the long-term goal of expanding business.

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