Weekly Poker Roundup: December 11, 2017

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NJ Assembly Passes Bill to Permit iGaming Areas at Horse Tracks

The New Jersey Assembly passed a bill Thursday that would permit horse tracks throughout the state to setup online gambling cafes at their venues. It was a long time coming for this vote, as Assembly Bill 4255 was introduced in October 2016 and soon made it through the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee by a 4-3 vote. The Assembly vote wasn’t nearly as close: 60-12-1 in favor.

Right now, brick-and-mortar casino gambling in New Jersey is only permitted in Atlantic City. Obviously, people around the state can gamble online, so my initial reaction to this was that having an internet gaming area set up at a horse track is pointless. But that’s just because I was stuck on first-level thinking.

Horse tracks have desired slot machines, video poker, and the like. They can’t have that legally, but online gaming cafes will be a near-substitute. The tracks will make money from it through payments from the online gambling sites. Customers may stay at the venue longer because they have more gambling options. And perhaps, just maybe, it could serve as a bridge toward legalized gambling outside of Atlantic City one day.

Woman Wins Car at Viejas Casino, Only Receives Tax Bill

Winning stuff is fun. Not receiving the stuff you win is not. Not receiving the stuff you win and having to pay money on top of it is the worst. That is what happened to Merida Manipoun in May 2016 and now she is fighting it in court.

Manipoun was a customer at the Viejas Casino & Resort in California and was fortunate enough to win a drawing in the “Dream Machine” promotion, the prize for which was a 2016 Aston Martin Vantage GT, valued at $134,000. The casino announced her as the winner, brought her on stage, and celebrated the moment in front of casino patrons.

According to Manipoun and her attorneys, though, after the awards ceremony and pictures, Manipoun was taken into a back room and pressured to forego the car and opt for a much smaller cash payout. She refused, but Viejas still didn’t give her the car. They did, however, give her the tax forms as if she won the car. Manipoun went directly to the dealership to ask for the car, but to no avail, so now she was stuck with no prize AND a pricey tax bill.

Manipoun is suing the employees in charge of the promotion rather than the casino itself because the casino is on tribal land and therefore has sovereign immunity protection.

Caesars Sells Harrah’s Las Vegas in Leaseback Deal

Caesars Entertainment Corporation has agreed to sell its Harrah’s Las Vegas property to VICI Properties for $1.14 billion in a leaseback deal. VICI will own the casino and hotel property and will rent it to Caesars while Caesars continues to operate it as usual. The billion-plus dollars will be used to finance Caesar’s purchase of Centaur Holdings, which includes the Hoosier Park Racing and Casino in Anderson, Indiana and the Indiana Grand Racing and Casino in Shelbyville, Indiana.

In the agreement, Caesars would rent Harrah’s from VICI for 15 years at an initial annual payment of $87.4 million. At the end of the term, Caesars can renew the lease for up to 20 years in five-year increments.

As part of the deal, Caesars is acquiring an 18.4 acre parcel of land from VICI, located adjacent to Harrah’s. Caesars will build a 300,000 square foot convention center on the land. After completion, Caesars can exercise an option to require VICI to buy the convention center and lease it back to Caesars. VICI can also opt to do that if Caesars declines.

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