Nigel Eccles, CEO of FanDuel, wants to do something completely different with FanDuel when it launches in the UK shortly.
FanDuel is planning on launching in the UK in August, a company spokesperson told Gambling Insider this week, although its entry into the market appears to be hindered by a pending license application. Thus, that date is ‘not set in stone,’ according to the spokesperson.
The company applied for a UK gambling license last year, when co-founder and current CEO Nigel Eccles told Bloomberg that he was confident of licensing and that his interaction with UK regulators had been straightforward. ‘It’s simple,’ he said, of the application process. ‘You fill out the form, you post it off, and you’re good,’ he said.
But the best part of a year later, he’s still waiting. By contrast, rivals DraftKings received its UK license back in August 2015, and launched in February this year. It had planned to go live in December 2015, but this was postponed as its domestic legal strife mounted. Trouble at home may explain why it launched with little fanfare, in contrast with the high-profile TV advertising campaigns in the US, and has thus far failed to set the UK alight.
DraftKings raised $300 million in funds last year to aid its planned international expansion, but apart from a low-key sponsorship deal with Premier League clubs Arsenal, Liverpool and Watford, the brand has barely registered in the UK.
For FanDuel, the process will be quite different, presuming its license is eventually rubberstamped, as expected.
FanDuel in fact began life in Scotland, and Eccles was a Northern Irishman living in Edinburgh when the company was formed. While it moved to Houston, Texas, to launch the FanDuel product as we know it today, it has maintained its Scottish roots, and still has offices in Edinburgh, where Eccles still lives, and Glasgow.
FanDuel has a better understanding of the market, a fact that has made Eccles more circumspect about the UK launch. The UK is an untested market for DFS; a country whose citizens are able to bet real money on the outcome of any sporting event they like, as well as almost every aspect of those sporting events, from the number of throw-ins in a soccer match to double faults in a tennis match. Do they even need DFS?
‘I think it’s an interesting proposition,’ he told Bloomberg last November. ‘Candidly, we’re going to test the waters, but it’s an unknown. Everyone needs to prove that there is a market outside the US.
‘It may not even be a daily fantasy product. I told the guys, come to me with a skill-based product in the UK that you think will work,’ he said. ‘We think that sports is universal, but the way people engage with sports is different, and the right game for them might be different in every country.’
While DraftKings expanded is soccer offering in preparation for its entrance into the UK, much of the product is identical to that of its US client, with a plethora of US sports on offer.
Hillary Clinton Ponders How a Casino Can Lose Money, While New Jersey Rescues Atlantic City From the Brink
Hillary Clinton equates running a casino with printing money, as the presumed Democratic presidential nominee is going on the offensive against her presumptive Republican challenger in ex-casino boss Donald Trump.
Hillary Clinton can’t grasp how a casino could possibly go bankrupt. Ironically, the statement comes the same week that New Jersey moves to bail out Atlantic City, which has been mired in the fallout from several failed casinos for years now. (Image: Rebecca Cook/Reuters)
Amid declining poll numbers and a bump for Trump as his challengers have folded, Clinton is directing her narrative to the Donald in an attempt to move the focus towards what she hopes others will see as the billionaire’s shortcomings.
Speaking to supporters at a rally in Detroit hosted by the Services Employees International Union (SEIU), Clinton said, ‘What little we know about his economic policies would be running up our debt, starting trade wars, letting Wall Street run wild. All of that could cause another crash and devastate working families.’
Clinton’s speech pandered to her backers and cited familiar talking points. ‘Trump economics is a recipe for lower wages, fewer jobs, more debt,’ she said.
But then came a zinger that will likely be turned around by Trump in the future to show that the former Secretary of State doesn’t understand how things work in the real world.
‘He could bankrupt America like he bankrupted his companies,’ Clinton stated. ‘How can anybody lose money running a casino?’
Clinton’s belief that it’s impossible to lose money while running a casino will be seen by her critics as proof that she has little knowledge of running a business.
After all, two years ago, three casinos other than the Trump Plaza also went bankrupt in Atlantic City. They included the Showboat, Atlantic Club, and the multibillion-dollar and fated-for-disaster Revel, the latter having first opened only three years prior amid much fanfare.
Trump has built his entire campaign on his business expertise, consistently reminding voters that he’s hired tens of thousands of workers during his career. Few career politicians can say the same.
Trump advisor Ed Brookover wasted no time in hitting back at the Democratic contender’s remarks. ‘I think that Mrs. Clinton has a lot to learn about how American businesses work,’ Brookover told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Atlantic City Lifeline
Though Clinton presumably can’t fathom why casinos in Atlantic City might need help from the state legislature, New Jersey officials reportedly reached a bailout plan this week for the gambling town that’s been dancing around bankruptcy throughout 2016.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the New Jersey Senate and Assembly have struck a deal to provide $60 million to the seaside gaming destination. In exchange, Atlantic City officials must develop a plan within the next 150 days to show it’s working hard to get its fiscal house in order.
Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian (R) and State Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D) have been at odds with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) and State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) on the best course of action.
Christie’s side favored a state takeover, while Guardian preferred a bailout with the understanding that his office will make appropriate economic changes.
After months of back and forth, it seems Sweeney and Prieto have finally come to terms. A vote is expected on the rescue package later this week in Trenton, and should it receive the necessary support, would then head to Christie’s desk.
‘Now we have a tool package that is actually going to save Atlantic City,’ Guardian told the WSJ.
Could VGTs Derail Pennsylvania Online Gambling Bill?
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, whose budget would leave a deficit this big! Could online gambling be a small part of filling that hole? (Image: post-gazette.com)
Pennsylvania’s online gambling bill may be enjoying a legislative comeback and could even find itself facing a House vote very soon, according to noises being made in the corridors of power in Harrisburg. Some of those noises are suggesting it could even happen this week.
But its proponents are concerned that a controversial addition to the bill, which would sanction the introduction of video gaming terminals (VGTs) to airports and off-track betting parlors, could derail the whole thing. The fear is, should lawmakers be required to vote on legislation tied to VGTs they might well kill it all.
There is House support for Representative John Payne’s (R-Dauphin County) HB 649, especially among GOP lawmakers who are anxious to find ways to fix a gaping pension deficit without raising taxes, but VGTs remain controversial.
The possible social impact aside, the expansion of gaming machines beyond casinos is, somewhat unsurprisingly, universally opposed by the state’s land-based casinos, and therefore unpalatable to the lawmakers who represent them and their communities.
VGTs a ‘Non-Starter’
Payne’s bill was introduced in February 2015, proposing to authorize online poker and casino gaming alone, but somewhere along the way it got tied up with the VGT expansion, a cause some policymakers are still trying to maneuver into law.
Writing in an op-ed for Penn Live this week, Judah Rosenstein, Pennsylvania director of the Poker Players Alliance, said that several influential senators have stated any bill that includes VGTs will be a ‘non-starter’ and would die in the House before they even got to vote against it.
‘It makes no sense to allow unregulated offshore markets to thrive when state regulation would replace illegal operators with licensed Pennsylvania-based companies that have been thoroughly vetted and approved by state regulatory agencies,’ he argued. ‘We cannot allow political maneuvering on VGTs to get in the way of safeguarding our citizens.
‘With the budget looming, our state politicians have a lot on their plates. Adding VGTs at this time would be asking them to bite off more than they can chew,’ he added.
State politicians certainly do have a lot on their plate; parties are currently so divided on fiscal issues that the last budget was nine months late, a state of limbo they will be anxious not to repeat.
Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s latest budget plan would create a $1.8-billion to $2.3-billion deficit and lawmakers have a deadline of June 30 to agree to it. Republicans are just as desperate to plug the hole without raising taxes, and online gambling could yet play a small part in that, but VTGs won’t be coming along for the ride.
Gardena’s Normandie Casino Likely to Close Following Anti-Money Laundering Violations
End of an Era: Could it be curtains for the Normandie, which has been operating in Gardena, California for over 75 years? (Image: minamipictures.com)
The Normandie Casino in Gardena, California, which has been dealing cards to gamblers for over 75 years, is about to bag up its chips and head for the exit unless a new buyer can be found.
The card club, California’s oldest, began life as the Western Club in 1940 and was renamed the Normandie in 1947 when it was bought by gambling pioneer Russ Miller. It has been in the Miller family ever since, but in April the California Gambling Control Commission revoked the club’s license after Russ Miller’s four sons, Lee, Larry, Greg, and Steve, the current owners, were convicted of federal felony money laundering charges.
The operators admitted that they had contracted independent ‘promoters’ to attract high-rollers to the casino and then deliberately avoided filing the requisite Currency Transaction Reports to the Treasury Department on valuable transactions. Instead, they would submit CTRs that named the promoter instead, while structuring transactions so they appeared to be under the $10,000 threshold.
They also admitted to conspiring to hide the identity of an individual who won over $1 million from another party at the casino.
Warning to Small Operators
At the recent Bank Secrecy Conference in Vegas, representatives from the casino industry and the legal profession met to discuss the importance of financial compliance and anti-money-laundering measures.
These were rules, one delegate warned the assembled party, that applied to all gaming establishments, whether you were Caesars Entertainment Corp or a California card club, a tip of a hat, maybe, to the brothers’ plight.
But he may as well have been referencing the Palomar Card Club, or the Seven Mile High Club, both in San Diego, and both of which were raided by the FBI late last year. They are accused of permitting an illegal Mafia gambling ring, whether knowingly or not, to launder money at their establishments.
Interest from Flynt
While convicted felons are unable to be considered for licensing in California, the Miller brothers were granted a four-month grace period in the hope they might find a buyer for the Normandie.
One possible candidate could be Larry Flynt, whose Hustler Casino when it opened under a mile away in 2000, was more luxurious than the competition, and precipitated the demise of Gardena’s once-thriving old card clubs.
The Normandie, the first to open and last of the original clubs still standing, might be of interest to Flynt, a source told local news, but he would want to turn it into a Vegas-style property with a hotel, restaurants, and shops, thus ushering in an end of an era for Gardena.