Hank Azaria’s Home Game a Rare Bright Spot in a Gloomy Week for the Gaming Industry

It has not been the best of starts to the year for bricks and mortar casinos, although online is still finding ways to draw in the crowds, and this weeks industry news features the latest on these stories – Hank Azarias online home game included!

By: Andrew Burnett

Hank Azaria’s Online Home Game for Charity

We’ll start with the positive stuff, and Simpsons actor Hank Azaria’s love for the game is certainly that, the voice specialist planning to take his home game online at PokerStars for charity.

The red spade site launched Hank’s Home Game last week on its PokerStars Home Games setup, and although the players will compete for play money, PokerStars are turning the $50k on the table into real money, all going to charity.

Azaria was joined for his first home game by ‘Black Monday’ star Don Cheadle, ‘Mad Men’ actor Jon Hamm, TV comedian Michael Ian Black, ‘Away’ actor Josh Charles, and the man who portrayed Player X in the blockbuster poker movie ‘Molly’s Game’, Michael Cera.

Azaria, well-known for his charitable poker appearances, said of his new role: “I am delighted that I have been able to work with PokerStars on this fun series, and I hope people enjoy it as much as we enjoyed playing each game.”

PokerStars’ PR Director Rebecca McAdam Willetts added: “We hope it provides much-needed entertainment for viewers at home.”

Vegas and Macau still reeling from revenue woes

Meanwhile, land-based operators in both Vegas and Macau released their end-of-calendar year figures and the shortfall compared to 2019 could be counted in $hundreds of million, and even $billions.

In Nevada, the Gaming Control Board (NGCB) showed off the ‘win revenue summary’ for December 2020, reporting ‘a total “gaming win” of $683,733,423 for the month of December 2020.’

That is a 35.35% decrease compared to December 2019, when a $1,057,539,090 win was posted across the state’s nonrestricted gaming licensees.

The NGCB also reported: “For the fiscal year (July 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020), gaming win has decreased 24.04%.”

Over in Macau, the December figures showed the 12th consecutive month of at least a 60% drop in revenues, despite January posting more than $1billion according to the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.

The last few months, however, have seen Macau slowly but steadily improve, from a record low of July revenues totalling $168million, a close to 95% year-on-year drop.

Chinese New Year this month, traditionally a boom period for Macau gaming, is expected to help figures, though not as much as hoped given a recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the region.

Golden Nugget parent company to be publicly traded

The parent company of one of Vegas’ most iconic casinos, the Golden Nugget, has decided to go public after a decade as a private company.

Fertitta Entertainment owner, Tilman Fertitta, who also owns the Houston Rockets basketball team, plans to take his casino empire and restaurant chain Landy’s public in a deal that values his business at $6.6 billion.

A statement from Fertitta explained: “After I compared the opportunities provided by a transaction with Fast, versus the traditional IPO route, it became abundantly clear that we could access the capital markets with more certainty and speed if we did a deal with Fast.”

Fast is a SPAC, an empty-shell company set-up specifically to raise the funds necessary to buy a company, which then replaces the original on the stock exchange. A similar approach was taken last year when Fertitta went public with Golden Nugget Online Gaming.

Entain shares dive after MGM deal fails

partypoker, Bwin and Ladbrokes owner, Entain, saw share prices fall significantly on news that a proposed £8billion bid from MGM had been rejected.

Shares fell as much as 17% before rallying somewhat this week, after Entain claimed the MGM bid “significantly undervalues the company.”

MGM reportedly “do not intend to submit a revised proposal” though chief executive, Bill Hornbuckle, stated: “We believe that Bet MGM has established itself as a top three leader in its markets and we remain committed to working with Entain…”

Had the deal with the UK-based gaming firm gone through, MGM would have had “full control of its U.S. joint venture with Entain at a time when the industry is seeing dramatic growth”, explained Bloomberg.

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