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Inside Gaming: Playtech Purchases PokerStrategy, the Maryland Live! Poker Room & More

Posted at 12:20 2013-07-15 by Pamela Maldonado

In this edition of Inside Gaming, Caesars Entertainment Corp. announced the initial approval for Planet Hollywood spinoff into a separate company, Maryland Live! broke down its walls to open a 52-table poker room, and UK-listed company Playtech announced the purchase of PokerStrategy.com.

Caesars Entertainment Receive Initial Approval for Planet Hollywood Spinoff

According to Las Vegas Review Journal, Caesars Entertainment is taking steps to spin off its online gambling venture into a separate company.

The casino operator said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Wednesday that it would raise $1.18 billion from selling stock for the new public entity. Caesars plans to launch a legal and regulated online poker site in Nevada in the coming months, and already operates more than 50 casinos and hotels throughout the United States. Caesars, however, is the only major U.S. casino company that has yet to make a presence in the Chinese gambling district of Macau.

The company said in its regulatory filing that it is “actively participating in the U.S. lobbying effort” to expand legalized online gambling beyond the three states where it is currently permitted, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.

Once the world’s largest gambling operator, Caesars has struggled with debt recently. According to Deputy General Counsel Michael Cohen, the spinoff would do little to reduce the company’s $21.1 billion in long-term debt.

It is estimated that nearly $500 million of the total debt, which is tied to Planet Hollywood Resort, would move to the new entity along with a planned Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore set to open in 2015 and Caesars Interactive Entertainment.

“Compared to our capital structure, that’s not a big change,” said Cohen. “Caesars has a lot of debt. We think it’s manageable, but others disagree.”

Officials are expected to distribute rights to stockholders to buy as many as 125.4 million shares of Caesars Acquisition at $9.43 per share. Caesars Entertainment and its private equity owners, TPG Global and Apollo Global Management, will obtain about 70 percent ownership in the new company.

News of the spin off, released on Wednesday, sent shares of Caesars up $1.81, or 12.81 percent, to close at $15.94. In conjunction with some of the changes set by Caesars, its shares have more than doubled in value. Gambling regulators voted three to zero favor of the move. The state’s five-member Gaming Commission will make a final decision later this month.

To read more, visit the Las Vegas Review Journal.

Maryland Live! Expected to Open New Poker Room

Maryland Live! Casino officials announced it would be opening a 15,000 square-foot, 52-table poker room. Scheduled to open next month, the casino hosted a ceremony on Thursday where officials knocked down the wall revealing the construction going on inside.

"We'll have a really good room as far as the service and the consistency of the play and the comfort — comfort's important," said Poker Director Mike Smith. "There should be something here for everyone."

Located in Hanover, Maryland Live’s poker room is schedule to open at noon on Aug. 28, pending approval from state regulators. It will feature 27 tables on the first floor and 25 tables on the top floor, which will often be reserved for tournament play.

The newly developed poker room will host the Players Poker Championship Aruba Satellite Tournament as part of its grand opening. The series begins Sept. 2 and will offer $60 buy-in events during the week for a chance to play in $520 buy-in tournaments every Sunday, where a $5,000 prize package will be awarded. Winners will receive a $2,500 buy-in at the 2013 PPC Aruba World Championship in October, which offers a guaranteed $200,00 prize pool. In addition, winners will also win a seat into another $550 buy-in tournament with a $40,000 prize pool plus six nights at a hotel with $360 awarded towards travel expenses.

The poker room is expected to add 300 jobs to the casino’s 2,400-person workforce. Smith said about 170 experienced dealers have signed on and 70-80 more are in training. Poker variants such as hold’em, Omaha, and stud will be available for play along with other games upon request.

For more information, check out the Baltimore Sun.

PokerStrategy.com Becomes a Playtech Company

Online gambling software specialist Playtech announced a “bolt-on” acquisition of poker website PokerStrategy.com for €38.3m ($49.8m).

“The directors believe the acquisition is complementary to both Playtech’s PTTS marketing division and its overall poker offering, further strengthening Playtech's leading position in poker and providing a community-based model for player acquisition, which is attractive to both social and real-money players in existing and soon to be regulated markets,” Playtech said.

Playtech currently runs the iPoker Network and by acquiring PokerStrategy.com, it will allow the company to expand its marketing opportunities beyond its business as a service provider to operators.

Playtech laid out its plans for PokerStategy.com expressing, “The acquisition will allow Playtech to further diversify its business by providing licensees with access to the world’s largest independent poker community with over six million members, thereby cementing existing relationships and creating incremental opportunities for both software and PTTS marketing.

PokerStrategy.com is not expected to change or be rebranded. “PokerStrategy.com will stay fundamentally the same and maintain its independence in the market,” the online poker site said in a statement posted on its website. “We will continue working with all of our current partners and continue to add additional poker rooms for you to choose from, without any restrictions.”

PokerStrategy will be working with Playtech to upgrade its poker software as well as enhance the iPoker network and its overall poker product.

PokerStrategy.com co-founders Dominik Kofert and Enrique Guzman will stay on at the acquired business on a consultancy basis. Meanwhile, Damian Sokol and Pavel Stehno will also continue their positions as PokerStrategy’s chief executive officer and chief operating officer respectively.

For more, check out CalvinAyre.com.

*Lead picture courtesy of mdpokerconnection.com.

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