Just weeks after Rank Group sealed a deal with Gala Coral to acquire its 23 casinos, further upheavals in the British gaming landscape seem imminent.
One question is the fate of London Clubs International (LCI), the Caesars Entertainment subsidiary that appointed Goldman Sachs earlier in the year to advise on a possible sale of its 13-venue casino estate.
Ten of those casinos are in Britain, including the London Playboy Club, with a further couple in Cairo and one in South Africa; the chain was bought by Caesars (then Harrah’s) in 2006 for $568m (£366m), more than twice the current valuation of around $250m (£161m).
Rank was reputedly interested in LCI, but such a deal now looks unlikely, because of the management and financial burdens of the Gala acquisition and because of the monopolies issues that would be raised.
Also said to be on the cards are offers from Genting and from French operator Lucien Barriere, which has previously tried (and failed) to enter the British market in licence bids for Bournemouth and Leeds, both in partnership with Luminar Leisure.
There are also suggestions of possible management buyouts, either of LCI as a whole or of its South African Emerald Resort & Casino alone, which accounts for about a third of the group’s total valuation.
Meanwhile, Aspers appears likely to close its casino in Swansea.
Said chief operating officer Richard Noble: “We have undertaken a comprehensive review of the Swansea site, which has determined that the continued operation of Aspers in Swansea does not seem to be commercially viable.”
Closing the five-year-old venue would leave Aspers with just three sites. But the firm is disappointed not only by the current business’s performance, but also by delays in the granting of a new so-called “small casino” licence for Swansea, which would have enabled it to ramp up operations there.
“For five years now we have eagerly awaited the opportunity to bid for the licence which would have allowed us to operate a much more viable and enhanced customer experience with a wider offer than a typical casino,” Noble said. “Unfortunately, the licence has still not been issued for tender.”
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