International edition
September 29, 2020

The top 10 stories chosen by readers

Yogonet's 10 most-read stories of 2019

Yogonet's 10 most-read stories of 2019
Some of the top read stories included interviews with CEOs of FOX Bet, Pala Interactive and Hard Rock Sacramento, and UK politicians such as former MP Tom Watson.
Argentina | 12/24/2019

With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, Yogonet looked back on its top 10 success stories over the past 12 months. Acquisitions, openings, and exclusive interviews were among the topics chosen by Yogonet's readers. 

The investment company, which bought the hotel and casino for USD 1.73 billion in 2014, announced in April it was working with Deutsche Bank AG and PJT Partners to solicit interest from potential buyers for the resort. The opportunity was expected to attract the attention of big Las Vegas operators, Asian firms, or US regional casino companies.

In one of Yogonet’s most prominent interviews of 2019, Robin Chhabra, chief executive of the company created as a partnership between The Stars Group and Fox Sports, said FOX Bet puts sports first and betting second, and that he finds similarities with Sky Bet's approach. In its first 8 weeks, free-to-play sports prediction game FOX Sports Super 6 app was downloaded more than 820,000 times, and had more than 7.5 million total contest entries. "We knew we were going to put entertainment first, with sports betting there to enhance that experience," he said.

Ahead of the opening of the chain’s new property, the president of Hard Rock Sacramento at Fire Mountain told Yogonet their main goal was to be part of a 900-acre sports and entertainment zone in the area that would hopefully become a regional powerhouse and destination experience on the West Coast of the United States. Mark Birtha even spoke about their plans to plans to include a sports betting venue. "We are absolutely interested in having that amenity available in the future here — sports betting and internet gaming. We believe that having this in Northern California would create a strong partnership with the local sports environment and a great product for our clientele here at the property," Birtha explained.

Ahead of ICE North America—which took place in Boston across May 13-15—the CEO of the gambling arm of California’s Pala Band of Mission Indian Native American tribe spoke with Yogonet about regulatory changes in the industry, including the uncertainty around the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) reinterpretation of the Wire Act. Jim Ryan's concern, like that of many others in the industry, was that the present opinion could be interpreted in a way that shut down intra-state gaming. "Because intra-state gaming might not, but internet transactions do cross state lines," he explained.

The APAS real-time algorithm, introduced by the newly-formed Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) as part of Responsible Gambling Week in November, tracks a player’s behavior second by second looking for evidence of them chasing losses, playing erratically, speeding up or spending too long on the machine. If it finds risks, they are locked out of it for a “cooling off period” of at least 30 seconds while managers are alerted. Safer gambling warnings are immediately displayed on the machine’s screen.

In September, it was announced that the gambling giant was holding talks to sell its Las Vegas property to real estate mogul Phil Ruffin. In October, both parties reached an agreement under which the property was sold for $825 million. Circus Circus, now more than 50 years old, was once a flagship property of publicly traded Circus Circus Enterprises. Last week, the Nevada Gaming Commission finally approved licensing for Ruffin.

In an exclusive interview with Yogonet, the then MP Tom Watson spoke in detail about the current regulatory framework in the UK, the situation as regards remote license holders and consumer protection. He delved into the different policy proposals introduced by the Labour party with a view towards a new Gambling Act, which included a gambling ombudsman, affordability checks and a mandatory levy. "We need to have a new approach to legislation, and to do that quickly, we have to identify the things that we can achieve most realistically in a short time frame with the industry," he said. Tom Watson has now resigned as MP and deputy leader of the Labour party.

In August, Empire Resorts reported a second-quarter 2019 loss of USD 35.96 million, due to gross gaming revenues below projections and overleverage. Gaming experts traced the casino’s problems to its location, far from New York City. At the time, Malaysian-Chinese casino magnate K.T. Lim, whose family trust Kien Huat Realty owns 86 percent of Empire, said he hoped to turnaround the situation by bringing more electronic gaming nearer the city, and Resorts World Catskills intended to introduce sports betting before NFL season began. The casino finally rolled out its ‘Sportsbook 360’ in September.

RoBET, a tech startup led by entrepreneur Edoardo Narduzzi, opened its activities offering the possibility to bet on 17 different sports worldwide and covering 47 different national soccer championships. Customers can use the platform with three different digital assets: RoBET own token RAC, Eth or Bitcoin. In October, the company became the first decentralized, blockchain-based sports betting business licensed by the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC).

The decision was a part of the Las Vegas-based casino firm's cost-cutting program released in April that whacked approximately 2,000 jobs from its labor force or about 3% of its 71,000 employees. The first phase of layoffs, which affected managers, not union workers, was aimed at slashing labor costs by USD 100 M.

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