Inside Gaming: Caesars Bankruptcy Plan Approved; Raiders File to Relocate to Las Vegas

In this week’s Inside Gaming, Caesars Entertainment Corp. at last earns approval for its bankruptcy plan for the company’s largest operating division, Las Vegas sportsbooks take a historic-sized beating, and the Oakland Raiders file papers with the NFL to relocate to Las Vegas.

Court Approves Caesars Bankruptcy Plan

A much-anticipated moment for Caesars Entertainment Corp. occurred this week when a U.S. Bankruptcy Court accepted the company’s bankruptcy reorganization plan for its largest operating unit. The plan was approved on Tuesday Reuters reports, paving the way for Caesars to rid itself of $10 million worth of debt.

In addition to shedding debt, Caesars Entertainment Operating Corp. (CEOC) will be able to separate its property assets in the U.S. from gaming operations.

“Upon CEOC’s emergence, we will be positioned to strengthen our financial and operational performance by pursuing new opportunities to invest in and expand our brands and business,” said Caesars President and CEO Mark Frissora in a brief statement from the company regarding the plan’s approval.

The plan still needs to be approved by gaming regulators and those overseeing financial transations. Also the parent company’s merger with Caesars Acquisition will need to be completed before the bankruptcy reorganization plan can proceed.

“It’s a monumental achievement,” said U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Benjamin Goldgar at the confirmation hearing this week in Chicago. Goldgar has been involved in the case from the beginning, issuing numerous rulings dating back to the initial bankruptcy filing by the CEOC in January 2015.

The proposed plan was in doubt as recently as last month when bank lenders threatened to walk away from the reorganization plan, a move that would have delayed the restructuring process and threatened the plan from being implemented at all.

However just before the end of December, Caesars filed revisions to its plan in accord with changes desired by the lenders, and the potential roadblock was averted.

For more details on the plan and speculation about what lies ahead for Caesars, visit Reuters.

Historically Bad Weekend for Las Vegas Sportsbooks

On ESPN‘s Dan LeBatard Show co-host Jon “Stugotz” Weiner this week directed one of his humorous “Weekend Observations” toward Las Vegas casinos.

“I have a list of people I never want to hear complain,” said Weiner. “It’s constantly evolving, I have a new number one… it’s the people who run sportsbooks in Las Vegas.”

Weiner’s comment was in response to a chorus of reports regarding just how bad last weekend went for Vegas sportsbooks.

It’s been a rough few months for the line-setters, with favorites winning at a remarkable clip throughout the National Football League regular season, and also winning all four wild card round playoff games and the first two divisional round games last Saturday. As the public often supports favorites more frequently (giving up points), that translated into losses for the sportsbooks.

That trend changed last Sunday, when two underdogs won playoff games — the Green Bay Packers beating the favorite Dallas Cowboys, and the Pittsburgh Steelers beating the favorite Kansas City Chiefs.

As it happened, “the betting public… jumped from favorites to underdogs at precisely the right time this weekend and squashed multiple Las Vegas sportsbooks in the process,” reports David Purdum for ESPN.

How bad was it for the sportsbooks? William Hill, operators of 108 sportsbooks in the Silver State, “reported suffering the worst day in the company’s five-year history in Nevada.”

The public hammered away betting Green Bay and Pittsburgh both against the spread and on the money line. They also heavily bet the over in both contests, winning with the 34-31 shootout between the Packers and Cowboys but losing with the 18-16 defensive struggle between the Steelers and Chiefs.

Parlays also hurt the sportsbooks, with those concentrated significantly thanks to the fact that there were only four games on which to bet over the weekend.

The hit closely followed another one suffered by sportsbooks when underdog Clemson Tigers beat the Alabama Crimson Tide 35-31 in the college football title game, another instance where the public heavily bet the underdog both against the spread and on the money line, while also taking the over (which won).

However, as “Stugotz” suggests by his complaint, don’t feel too badly for the sportsbooks. Purdum notes how “Nevada sportsbooks won a combined $73.64 million on football, both NFL and college” from September through November. And with both the conference championships coming up this Sunday and the Super Bowl two weeks after that, the sportsbooks will have plenty of chances to recoup their losses.

Read more about the historic hit taken by Vegas sportsbooks over at ESPN.

Raiders File Paperwork for Las Vegas Relocation

Finally — and in other NFL-related news — you might have heard the report from yesterday that the Oakland Raiders have filed relocation paperwork with the league to move the franchise to Las Vegas.

“The application will be reviewed in the coming weeks by league staff and the Stadium and Finance Committees,” said the NFL in a statement. “The relocation of a franchise requires the affirmative vote of three-quarters of the NFL clubs (24 of 32).”

It is expected that the NFL owners will vote on the relocation proposal in March at the Annual League Meeting. According to NFL.com, if the owners approve the move, the Raiders “likely wouldn’t relocate to their proposed, 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas until 2020.”

Back in October, Nevada lawmakers voted in favor of legislation that would pave the way for the construction of the new stadium which sports an estimated cost of $1.9 billion.

Also of relevance to the potential move is the possible involvement in the team of Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. According to Forbes, Adelson has proposed a $650 million investment to go toward the stadium construction, with some suggesting he’s considering “seeking partial ownership with a path to the majority stake.”

Having a “casino owner as part of the NFL ownership ranks… [is] bound to give Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners plenty of thought,” suggests Forbes.

For “5 Burning Questions For the Raiders to Las Vegas” move, visit Forbes.

Photo: “Caesars Palace Casino” (adapted), Mark Richardson, CC BY 2.0.

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