Caesars’ Garber Talks Bad Actors, California’s Online Poker Chances and Daily Fantasy Sports

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Mitch Garber, CEO and President of Caesars Acquisition Company, offered a variety of commentary and insights regarding the present and future of regulated US online gambling on a recent earnings call covering CACQ’s 2Q14.

Listen to a replay of the call here.

Garber’s comments, transcribed in part below, covered topics including Caesars’ relationship with PokerStars under new owner Amaya, bad actor clauses, California’s path to a bill and daily fantasy sports.

Garber on Amaya: “I know and like their CEO personally”

In response to a question concerning how Amaya’s acquisition of PokerStars’ impacted the market in general and Caesars specifically, Garber declined to play prognosticator.

“I think we’ll all agree that from a capital finance perspective it was a tremendous transaction,” he said. “How it will impact US real money online gaming is really unclear to anyone.”

Garber’s commentary continued, veering into the topic of how regulators might approach PokerStars. “I think we’ve been very consistent in what we’ve said, which is that regulators have become very knowledgeable in a very short period of time about online gaming and licensing online gaming operators.”

“PokerStars,” Garber continued, “or now Amaya with the PokerStars asset, will go through that very stringent licensing process that we all do go through, and regulators and legislators will make decisions on their applications as they do on ours and any other parties.”

“Certainly PokerStars has been a poker company to be reckoned with. And we leave decisions about how’ll they’ll impact the market and whether they’ll enter the market at all to the regulators,” added Garber.

But Garber did suggest that the transfer of ownership would improve the notoriously poor relationship between PokerStars and Caesars.

“On the other hand, we’re partners with Amaya pre the transaction because we use their software platform for our casino games under the Caesars brand in New Jersey.”

“I know and like their CEO personally,” continued Garber, “and I think we’re just going to monitor the situation and take the time to take positions as we need to take positions.”

California online poker “to become a reality” in 2015

Adam Krejcik of Eilers Research asked Garber if CACQ had a “firm stance” on the bad actors issue in California or if the company planned to “weigh in” as things progressed.

“We’ll weigh in as things progress,” answered Garber. “We’ve already started our lobbying effort for 2015 quite heavily.”

Garber saw plenty of room for optimism regarding California.

“I think that the tribes have come a long way actually in some forms of consensus even though it fell apart. So if I look at where we were a year and a half ago and where we are today I think we’re close to a bill.”

And as to how to close the final gap? Garber: “I think we have to let cooler heads prevail and come up with reasonable language for everybody for a bill to ultimately pass.”

“But,” Garber added, “we’re not going to make our positions clear. I think that we have the ability to influence some of the decisioning. And we’ll cross each bridge as we come to it.”

Garber closed his commentary on California by stressing that “at the end of the day we want a bill in California.”

“No bill is not serving anyone’s purpose at all. It’s a huge market and we want a piece of that market. We want to do business in California. We expect in 2015 that it’s going to become a reality.”

Daily fantasy sports: “Interesting,” but …

Toward the end of the call, Garber was asked if his company had any plans to explore the rapidly-evolving daily fantasy sports industry.

Garber suggested that the company has been pitched on any number of DFS opportunities, joking that “if I had a dollar for every person who has mentioned [DFS] to us that would be a good business in itself.”

The problem, said Garber, was that CACQ hasn’t “yet found the right entry point. We haven’t seen that the business is actually a big enough monetizing business today to make a real dive into it. But it’s certainly very interesting. And we are looking at [DFS] actively.”

Listen to a replay of the call here.

- Chris is the publisher of Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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