Casinos Reopening, Staff Laid Off and Huge Fines Dominate the Industry News

From bricks and mortar casinos re-opening to online poker rooms shutting down or moving, as well as huge fines and workers laid off, it has been a fantastically-busy week in the poker and wider gaming industry…

By: Andrew Burnett

Open or shut case?

We’ll start off with the ‘good news’, with some 55 casinos re-opening according to the American Gaming Association’s ‘COVID-19 casino tracker’.

With close to 1000 casinos nationwide, the industry, as well as poker players and gamblers, have been itching to see some return to normality.

Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel was among the first to open its doors to customers, with social distancing measures in place and limited capacity.

Players and staff had to undergo temperature checks at the entrance and were given masks if they required one, the casino closing between the hours of 3am and 7am to allow deep cleaning, according to KTVB.

The historic gold-rush mining town of Deadwood in South Dakota also saw players returning, with Tin Lizzie Gaming Resort and Cadillac Jack’s open for business late last week.

CEO Caleb Arceneaux told CNBC news: “We were about 15% or 20% higher than a typical weekend. Cabin fever’s real, and I think people wanted to get out and go experience, you know, gaming again.”

Those hoping to replicate that in Louisiana will have to wait after plans to re-open were pushed back slightly by State Governor John Bel Edwards.

Businesses will be restricted in general to 25% of normal capacity in Phase 1 of the state’s re-opening, and New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell has already stated that casinos will not be among the city’s first phase.

Elsewhere in the country, Californian casinos look likely to remain shuttered for a while yet, as will New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Nevada are moving closer to a re-opening, last Thursday seeing a well-attended meeting of the Nevada Gaming Control Board discussing detailed plans to get moving.

It looks likely to be at least June, however, before players in Vegas will be allowed back into the casinos, with poker being held 4-handed, despite complaints that this will make it unviable for professionals.

Layoffs and ‘furloughs becoming permanent’

Less positive is news that many of the tens of thousands of furloughed staff could be laid off amid the financial crisis that has hit the USA’s casino and gaming industry.

It follows reports that four Las Vegas strip hotel presidents have been let go, with the Bellagio, Luxor, New York New York, and Excalibur named by the LVRJ.

The newspaper also shared news of a legal notice sent to its workers by MGM International, who employ more than 60,000 workers in the industry.

The letter states that although employee health benefits are being extended until August 31st, the current furloughs may ‘last more than six months’ or become ‘permanent’ layoffs.

Stations Casinos, which owns the Palms Resort among several others in Las Vegas, will lose a “significant but unspecified number” of employees once they re-open, according to an AP report of a recent CEO Frank Fertitta announcement.

MPN officially shuts its doors with online rooms moving or folding

The Microgaming Poker Network officially closes its doors this week, and nine of its remaining 16 online skins will be moving to the iPoker network.

One who won’t be going anywhere, however, is 32Red – the poker arm of the site ceasing all activities, although the casino and flagship sportsbetting platforms will remain.

Many of the 16 skins are accounted for now, recent announcements that Olybet will join GGNetwork, with Grosvenor Poker going to iPoker, although full details are still rather sketchy.

Huge fine for UK gaming firm

FSB Technology have become the latest company to fall foul of the UK’s gaming regulators, hit this week with a £600,000 fine for “advertising, money laundering and social responsibility failings.”

The London-based tech provider who launched back in 2007 with sportsbetting technology were mainly fined for not ensuring third-party operators complied with regulations.

Examples of breaches given by the UKGC included:

  • inadequate documentation supporting spending levels of a customer who lost £282,000;
  • a VIP manager who was working without adequate oversight and insufficient Anti-Money-laundering training;
  • FSB clients sending mass marketing emails to self-excluded customers.

The £600,000 fine will go towards the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, with FSB to pay over £34,000 ‘investigation costs’ to the UKGC.

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