Friday July 26,2013 : ONLINE GAMBLING FIRM IN BID FOR AN ATLANTIC CITY LAND CASINO
Multi-million dollar anonymous Asian backing for UK public company 2UP Gaming.
Taking the market by surprise Thursday was an announcement by the Brit publicly listed online gambling company 2UP Gaming plc that it has significant financial backing from an anonymous Asian source to acquire an Atlantic City land casino.
2UP Gaming's situation rings the changes on the more usual deals, in which New Jersey land casino operators partner up with established remote gaming companies to take advantage of the state’s new online gambling regulatory regime, which restricts licensing to Atlantic City land operators.
It also has echoes of the effort that Pokerstars parent The Rational Group is devoting to acquiring an AC land casino
Producing proof of its intentions, on Thursday 2UP issued a press statement announcing that a letter of intent has been signed with an at this stage unidentified “Asian investment group” which has committed to an investment of up to $330 million to acquire an existing Atlantic City land casino.
Current planning calls for the finalisation of the definitive agreement by no later than September 9 2013.
In the statement 2UP chief exec Marino Sussich revealed that 2UP has been positioning itself to be a major player in the international i-gaming market, with a particular focus on what he termed the "emerging markets," and had future plans to launch into a legalised US market.
Sussich revealed that the Asian deal had been facilitated by Vincent Crandon, managing director of New York-based project finance outfit MidOil USA., which has apparently already assembled a qualified local team in anticipation of New Jersey success.
Curacao licensed and London-listed 2UP originated in Melbourne, Australia several years ago. It came to notice in January this year, when it announced the Euro 25 million acquisition of the Italian DBG Poker Group.
Even at that early stage there were hints that ownership of a land casino in the United States was on the cards.
2UP's Web presence currently consists of the 2up.com website, which is ostensibly a trial venue for the firm's online casino and poker products.
Industry observers have pointed to Colony Capital's Atlantic Club casino as a likely target. The subject of a controversial and ultimately abortive deal with The Rational Group earlier this year, the cash-strapped and debt burdened land casino is apparently still available and could provide 2UP with the sort of vehicle it could use to further any land casino ambitions, or for that matter plans to enter the New Jersey online gambling market.
That would eventually entail revealing the identity of the Asian backers, which could be interesting.
Time will also be of the essence, bearing in mind the November 29 deadline for New Jersey online gambling licensing applicants to file documents with the state regulator.
One thing is for sure – the announcement has caught the industry's attention, and the information presented at 2UP's agm on August 9th will be pored over by industry experts.