Posts Tagged ‘once’

Senators Graham, Feinstein Once Again Ask DOJ to Ban Online Poker

 Senators Graham, Feinstein Once Again Ask DOJ to Ban Online Poker

It has been a while since we heard from Senator Lindsey Graham (R – S.C.) about trying to ban online poker in the United States, so I suppose it was about time for him to try to revive his dead horse. Last week, Graham and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – CA) sent a letter to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, asking him to reverse the Wire Act clarification issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2011, a decision which would effectively make online gambling completely illegal in the U.S.

As readers may remember, the Wire Act was designed more than 55 years ago to curtail organized crime by making sports betting over phone lines illegal. For whatever reason, decades later, the Department of Justice interpreted it to include all gambling over the internet. In late 2011, the OLC clarified that the Wire Act only applied to sports betting, thus officially opening the door for states to launch their own online gambling industries.

Sen. Graham has introduced billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) multiple times, trying to get the OLC’s ruling reversed, but it largely hasn’t been taken too seriously by lawmakers. Thus, it’s time for another approach.
As one would expect, the letter is mostly bullshit. For example, one paragraph states:

The DOJ opinion had the practical effect of repealing legislation Congress carefully and thoughtfully enacted in 2006 to ban internet gambling – legislation developed over seven years and crafted based on assurances from DOJ at that time that internet gambling was barred by the Wire Act and other federal criminal laws.

I’m not going to bother parsing every word, but suffice to say that the UIGEA – the law referred to there – was not “carefully and thoughtfully enacted.” It was, instead, attached to a must-pass SAFE Port Act and snuck through in the middle of the night with virtually no debate.

The letter goes on to use the “won’t anyone think of the children” scare tactic that we have heard a million times and again cites an old FBI letter that states, “[o]nline casinos are vulnerable to a wide array of criminal schemes” like money laundering. Of course, that letter is always misrepresented, as the concerns it addresses have to do with unregulated gambling, not legal, properly regulated online gambling.

Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas skewered the letter in a statement, saying:

If they were handing out awards for Congressional letters, this one would win “most misleading” in a landslide. Aside from the statement that Pennsylvania authorized online gaming and other states are considering it, there is nary a fact contained with the letter’s five paragraphs. Congress has given express authority to states to regulate igaming, a detail that Senators Graham and Feinstein repeatedly ignore. Moreover, they continue to misrepresent and almost decade old FBI letter that does not address the realities of regulated online gaming. I suppose it’s easier to conflate reality with their own bias to continue making the same points, than actually own up to the fact that regulated igaming is responsible public policy.

The PPA posted the entire letter, which can be read here.

The post Senators Graham, Feinstein Once Again Ask DOJ to Ban Online Poker appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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888 & Rank Increase Offer to Buy William Hill, Rejected Once More

 888 & Rank Increase Offer to Buy William Hill, Rejected Once More

On Monday, 888 Holdings and The Rank Group announced that they made a second proposal to acquire William Hill. William Hill announced, in turn, that it has rejected the offer. The “Revised Proposal” comes just six days after the initial proposal from 888 and Rank.

Both bids had two pieces: cash and stock. The new proposal increased the estimated value of the stock portion while also giving William Hill a larger ownership percentage of what would be a new, combined company.

In the original proposal, 888 and Rank would merge to create BidCo, the company which would turn around and buy William Hill to form a massive gaming company from the three rivals. William Hill shareholders would have received 199 pence per William Hill share in cash plus .725 BidCo shares per William Hill share. 888 and Rank (called the Consortium) estimated the value of the stock piece based on both of their share prices at the close of markets on August 5th, the last day of trading before the announcement of the proposal, making the total package worth 364 pence per William Hill share. William Hill shareholders would have owned 44.6 percent of the new company.

William Hill’s Board of Directors turned down that offer, so yesterday, 888 and Rank made a new one. As mentioned, the cash part – 199 pence per share – is the same, but the stock part has changed. This time, .860 shares of 888 Holdings were offered for each share of William Hill, rather than going with the BidCo arrangement. Again using the August 5th price of 888 as a guide, this increased the overall estimated value of the proposal to 394 pence per William Hill share. William Hill shareholders would have 48.8 percent of the new company in this case.

The total value of the offer is £3.425 billion, compared to £3.164 billion last week.

Once again, though, William Hill’s board is having nothing of it. In a press release, the company said:

Having reviewed the Revised Proposal with its financial advisers, Citi and Barclays, the Board of William Hill has unanimously rejected the Revised Proposal as it continues to substantially undervalue William Hill and as such the Board continues to see no merit in engaging with the Consortium.

The Board of William Hill continues to believe that the Revised Proposal is highly opportunistic and does not reflect the inherent value of the Group. Under the Revised Proposal, William Hill shareholders continue to be offered a substantial proportion of their consideration in highly leveraged BidCo shares and so it is directly relevant that the Board of William Hill continues to believe that a combination of William Hill with 888 and Rank will not enhance William Hill’s strategic positioning or deliver superior value for shareholders compared against William Hill’s strategy, which is focused on increasing the Group’s diversification by growing its digital and international businesses.

The Board cites a number of risks for its shareholders, including complications stemming from a three-way merger with not enough of a price premium to make up for it, the idea that proposed cost synergies wouldn’t be seen in full until 2020, and a high amount of debt for the combined company.

William Hill Chairman Gareth Davis said that the entire offer price is still not enough of a premium over William Hill’s current share price and that the cash portion remains unchanged, implying that he prefers cash over stock.

“As we have said before, this is highly opportunistic and complex and does not enhance the strategic positioning of William Hill,” Davis said.

It will be interesting to see if 888 and Rank keep trying and if there is eventually a number that would satisfy the Board, despite all of its concerns.

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