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  Opinion
But why are companies in the gambling industry now going (or staying) private and is this something reflected in other industries?
Gambling Ins. A gavel, a gong, a bell; the three symbols of a fresh day of trading at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Although the tool itself has changed over the years, the act of the ‘opening bell’ has been solidified across public trading houses - even though Nasdaq doesn’t have a physical trading floor, the house still has an opening bell ceremony each day. That’s how strong it is.    However, more companies, with some high-profile examples within gaming, are pulling away from this iconic morning routine and instead favoring the quiet life of private equity.   But why are companies going private?  There are a few reasons why some big gambling companies are going private.    First of all, when a company goes public, there is a far greater level of administration and bureaucracy. A private company therefore has more control over its business, without having to please multiple shareholders.   Once a company goes private, the business is in the hands of a few select people; either the private equity firm or the family controlling the company. This makes it infinitely easier to make decisions and act on them.   There’s also less volatility from being on the publicly traded stock market, too. The stock market has quite infamous ups and downs, but unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years, you’ve probably noticed some global events that affected the economy quite severely.    If anything, this proves that there’s no set path to success for companies; going public is no longer a symbol of ‘making it’ but should instead be analysed as a viable strategy, rather than the only strategy   One of the biggest positives of being publicly traded, however, is access to capital. It used to be one of the only ways companies could get funding for projects, which is why going public was historically seen as the end goal for many businesses in the past.    But this isn’t the case anymore. Even as far back as 2018, IPOs brought in $50.3bn in the tech sector, while private equity firms invested $130.9bn.   Some companies never went public in the first place. Once a company goes private, the business is in the hands of a few select people; either the private equity firm or the family controlling the company. This makes it infinitely easier to make decisions and act on them. The biggest example in gambling is bet365, which has been private since it launched in 2000, owned and operated by the Coates family. On the supplier side, Interblock is a huge firm one would assume is NYSE-listed but has remained private, in 2022 being acquired by (you guessed it, private equity) funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management.   So perhaps we’ll see a new era of company ownership going forward, where gaming companies won’t be afraid to rely on private equity, rather than face the public eye on the stock market. Is it time for more casino and sports betting companies to take a gamble on their products and boot out the shareholders and their opinions for good?
  America
Maine online casino bill refuses to die, now in Senate hands.
If pieces of legislation had a measurable pulse, a bill to give tribal authorities within Maine exclusive control over online casino play in the state might be showing a faint signal right now. That proposal is effectively in need of some emergency intervention at this time.   On Tuesday, the Maine House of Representatives narrowly communicated a negative sentiment on the bill. While the Maine Senate has an opportunity to keep the bill alive, it might be prolonging the inevitable.   Maine online casino bill meets fate in State House While there was optimism around the proposal to legalize online casino play in Maine under the auspices of tribal gaming authorities earlier this week, that took a turn. On April 9, LD17771 failed in the Maine House by three votes, 71-74.     “The hope is the Senate will pass and we will recede and concur. Now, folks are on the record and folks can try to flip their votes.”   The bill’s sponsor, Maine Rep. Laura D. Supica, told Randy Billings of the Portland Press Herald2 that “much of the concern comes from the fact that it is exclusively for the tribes.” Billings also reported that other members of the state House would like to see online casino licenses available for the state’s commercial brick-and-mortar casino operators, supporting Supica’s assessment.   It’s a unique wrinkle in Maine’s legislative process that is giving LD1777 one last chance to progress.   Maine legislative staff have estimated4 that in its first full fiscal year, Maine would reap over $4.6 million in tax revenue off online casino play under the tenets of LD1777. There has been some concern that the bill’s 16% tax rate for such gaming is too low. That could be something that a last-minute amendment this week or a new bill in 2025 might address.   For her part, Supica proposes that the new gaming could produce $100 million for the state over the next five years. Among the state services LD1777 earmarks tax revenue for are the Gambling Addiction Prevention and Treatment Fund in addition to the Emergency Housing Relief Fund.
  Europe
Still the discrimination persists on financing for gambling companies in Europe.
The Independent Association of Recreational Machine Operating Companies of Catalonia, Europer, has published the results of its third barometer on the situation of the recreational sector. The objective of this analysis is to provide a greater understanding of the business reality in the recreational field for the economic world, the Administration and society in general.   7 out of 10 recreational companies have been harmed when requesting financing for their business because they are linked to the gaming sector.   This survey, carried out in March 2024, included the participation of 406 Catalan companies, 93% of which are SMEs. According to the results, 72.7% of companies in the recreational sector have experienced difficulties when applying for financing due to their association with gambling.     Albert Sola, president of Europer, expressed his concern about this data and noted: "We hope that these prejudices towards companies in our sector will soon disappear, since we strictly comply with the law and, therefore, we should have the same rights as any another industry”.   Regarding the evolution of business during the first quarter of the year, 54.5% of companies reported positive progress, while 36.4% remained stable and only 9.1% experienced a decline. These results represent an improvement over the previous quarter, where only 37.5% reported positive progress.     Regarding workforce growth expectations for the second half of 2024, 81.8% of companies plan to keep their staff stable, 9.1% anticipate growth and another 9.1% anticipate a decrease. These figures are similar to those of the previous quarter, suggesting a stable trend in the sector.   Albert Sola concluded: "These are encouraging data for companies in the gaming sector, and we hope that this positive trend will continue throughout 2024."  
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