Gaming Report: Chinese Court Seizes Boyaa’s Funds, DraftKings Debuts in West Virginia & More

Boyaa, DraftKings, FOX Bet & Caesars Entertainment - Gaming Report
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  • Namita Ghosh September 4, 2019
  • 6 Minutes Read

Hong Kong-based gaming giant Boyaa Interactive International has landed itself in a legal tangle with the Chinese government. In a significant hit to the online card and board game developer, a Chinese court has ordered a freeze on RMB635 million (US$88.6 million) of Boyaa`s idle cash reserves.

Moving over to the US, reports indicate that daily fantasy sports company DraftKings has launched its sportsbook portal in West Virginia. Meanwhile, in New Jersey, the Fox Sports – The Stars Group (TSG) partnership sports betting project, Fox Bet has gone live for sports wagering replacing the previous BetStars brand of TSG.

The world’s biggest gambling company, Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment it seems has scrapped its plans for opening an Integrated Report (IR) project in Japan. Caesars has been struggling with long-standing debt and was recently acquired by Eldorado Resorts for $17.3 Billion. The move is presumed to be a step by the new management to check the company’s failing fortunes.

The recently elected president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky has initiated the process for re-introducing legal gambling in the country and has already tasked his government to draft appropriate legislature for the same.

In Washington D.C., two members of the state council have sought the city agencies to examine a local firm called Veterans Services Corp. The firm has the city’s biggest lottery and sports betting contract, but there are reports of it allegedly being a shell company with no employees.

 

Boyaa’s Funds Worth $88.6 Million Seized by Chinese Court

Hong Kong-based gaming behemoth Boyaa Interactive International Limited was hit with bad news when a Chinese court ordered to freeze RMB635 million (US$88.6 million) of the online card and board game developer’s idle cash reserves.

Chinese Court Seizes Boyaa Interactive's funds

The court took the decision in the wake of its Chairman and CEO, Zhang Wei’s year-long prison sentence after one of its indirect subsidiaries, was found guilty of offering “bribes by entities.”

Boyaa stated that it was not notified of the situation because it was not implicated in the case and said, “the risk that the Company, its directors and its senior management will be subject to any prosecution by the relevant PRC judicial authority in relation to the alleged crime is remote.”

The money in question could even be confiscated if it is proved that these funds were derived from Zhang’s misconduct. No further detail on the case has been revealed so far.

DraftKings Launches Sportsbook in West Virginia

On August 28, daily fantasy sports company DraftKings launched its sportsbook platform in West Virginia, making the Mountain State the second US State where the product is accessible. The bets can be placed via the DraftKings’ iOS and Android app or online at Sportsbook.DraftKings.com. Fans can also seamlessly transition between the sportsbook and the fantasy app.

DraftKings debuts in West Virginia

The move is a pivotal step in the expansion of the company following its licensing agreement with Penn National Gaming. Moreover, the timing of the launch couldn’t be better with the upcoming opening kickoffs of the NFL and college football seasons.

Matt Kalish, co-founder of DraftKings, speaking about the launch of the sportsbook, said, “We are thrilled to continue our DraftKings Sportsbook expansion by getting our product into the hands of West Virginians. DraftKings knows the American sports fan better than anyone, and we look forward to proving that in the Mountain State.”

John Finamore, Sr. Vice President of Regional Operations at Penn National Gaming, stated, “We are pleased to help welcome DraftKings to West Virginia. They provide a quality online sports betting experience that will benefit their customers and the state.”

FOX Bet Debuts in New Jersey in Partnership With The Stars Group

A few weeks ago, we had reported that Fox Sports had partnered with The Stars Group (TSG) to launch a new sports betting brand FOX Bet in New Jersey. The sports betting site that offers a wide array of sports including football, basketball, cricket, and others to wager on has now gone live in the garden state.

FoxBet goes live in New Jersey

FOX Bet has replaced the BetStars brand in the U.S. state where it will operate alongside PokerStars and PokerStars Casino.

Hailed as the first-of-its-kind partnership between a national media company and a sports wagering operator, the 25-year commercial agreement came through after Fox Sports acquired a 4.99% stake in Stars for $236 Million. The partnership terms allow Fox Sports to acquire up to 50% equity stake in TSG’s U.S. business within the first 10 years of the agreement.

FOX Bet CEO Robin Chhabra in an official statement, said, “If you’re a sports fan in New Jersey, Fox Bet is a game changer. Fox Bet combines decades of expertise in content-rich programming and regulated online gaming to drive a superior, integrated and interactive live viewing experience for our customers found nowhere else in the United States.”

FOX Bet allows sports betting fans in New Jersey to wager on live sports events. It also facilitates access to Fox Sports content, instant scores, stats, and alerts. The site even offers predictions on sports events and gambling tutorials, expert insights, and news updates.

Caesars Entertainment Backs Out From Race For Japanese Integrated Resort Casino License

Back in June, the world’s largest gambling company, Caesars Entertainment, was acquired by Eldorado Resorts. Paying the former $8.58 Billion in cash and stock, Eldorado also agreed to take on Caesars’ sizeable debt, making the final deal worth a whopping $17.3 Billion. In a move clearly intended to cut corners, Caesars has pulled out of contention for obtaining a casino license in Japan.

Caesars Entertainment pulls out of Japan

Making the announcement last Thursday, CEO of Caesars, Tony Rodio said, “The timing of our decision is driven by sensitivity to the significant decisions Japan’s government and business partners will likely be making later this year to advance the process.”

Chairman of the Caesars Board of Directors, Jim Hunt said that he was thankful for how the Japanese government had treated the company during the time it was considering to enter Japan’s emerging gaming market.

Notably, it took three years for Japan’s legislative body, Diet to come to a political consensus and open doors for Integrated Resort (IR) casinos.

Caesars has been one of the top contenders keen to establish its presence in Japan. Last year in September, the company proposed a ‘100-year partnership’ with Japan’s government and unveiled ambitious plans to build a Caesars IR at Yokohama’s Yamashita Pier.

The Caesars IR project was named ‘Yokohama Art and Culture Park and Entertainment Resort’ and envisaged along the theme of the ‘The Great Wave’ by Japanese ukiyo-e artist, Hokusai. The company even began to develop a unique casino entry system for Japan that would use smartphones as the main instrument.

However, the company seems to have started looking away from potential investments since its acquisition by Eldorado Resorts. The Las Vegas-based company only recently pulled out from pursuing projects in Australia and Greece as well. Clearly, potential international projects like the IR project in Japan is not a priority for the new stakeholders who now have a majority stake in Caesars.

 

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky Pushes For Legal Gambling

In a move that is presumably aimed at saving Ukraine’s failing economy, the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky has sought re-legalization of gambling.

Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky

According to local media reports, the newly elected president has told his government and parliamentary representatives that new gambling laws need to be adopted before December 1, 2019. Zelensky has asked his government to draft the pertaining bills by October 1, putting Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk and Finance Minister Oksana Markarova in charge for the same.

Zelensky had announced his plans for re-legalizing gambling in five-star hotels last month. Bringing the subject up during his official visit to Turkey, the Ukranian president had said, “We will legalize gambling, namely, the operation of casinos in five-star hotels, which will stimulate the development of the region’s tourism cluster near the Black Sea. We also want to grow together here. Therefore, we want to see Turkish businesses as our partners rather than competitors.”

Gambling has been banned in Ukraine since 2009 though gambling businesses have operated illegally in the country with the state failing to reign in these illegal operations.

Intending to swiftly bring the legal structure in place, Zelensky has also tasked Chairman of Verkhovna Rada, Dmytro Razumkov and Head of the Servant of the People parliamentary faction, David Arakhamia with getting the laws passed before his December deadline.

 

Washington D.C. Council Members Call For Investigation Into Veterans Services Corp.

Two members of the Washington D.C. Council recently asked the city agencies to examine a local firm Veterans Services Corp. which has the city’s biggest lottery and sports betting contract.

Washington DC Council

Council members Robert C. White Jr. and Elissa Silverman, who provided a crucial swing vote to approve the contract, came after the company following a Washington Post investigation. The Greek gaming company Intralot selected the firm to comply with a D.C. law that requires companies with large public contracts to share a portion of the work with small local businesses. Intralot said Veterans Services would “perform the ENTIRE subcontract with its own organization and resources.”

But Washington Post found that the company had no employees, based on interviews and records.

Moreover, Intralot officials claimed that the work was to be performed by DC09, but The Post found that the Veterans Services owns 51% of DC09, and it was Intralot that funded the creation of DC09 and controls the company.

The story prompted Silverman and White to request D.C. government officials to review whether Veterans Services is complying with local laws.

Silverman said, “It is clear they are just a shell company,” and asked Attorney General Karl A. Racine to examine the validity of the city’s contract with Intralot.

“I’d like to know if the Intralot contract can be nullified or revisited given what has been reported about its compliance with the CBE requirement,” Silverman wrote in her request.

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