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Empire Resorts partners bet365 for sports betting and iGaming in New York

Shares in New York-listed casino operator Empire Resorts jumped over 30 per cent in value Wednesday morning as the company announced a sports betting partnership with an affiliate of leading international sports betting company bet365.

The two parties have agreed a 20-year partnership covering land-based and online sports betting and gaming in New York, as well as an investment of up to $50m in Empire Resorts by the affiliate of bet365 Group.

Empire Resorts said that the collaboration between New York’s premier integrated commercial casino resort and the world’s largest online sports betting operator positions Resorts World Catskills as the leading sports betting and gaming destination in New York state.

The companies will be entitled to an equal share of profit under the terms of the agreement, after bet365 recoups its start-up and other costs.

New York is yet to legalise online gaming and has no specific legislation authorising sports betting, although the New York Gaming Commission has said that the state’s existing casinos are authorised to offer sports betting under the 2013 Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act.

“New York law contains a sports wagering provision that can become effective upon a ruling of a court of competent jurisdiction that such activity is lawful,” the commission said at the time. “The Supreme Court decision appears to have triggered this provision.”

The Gaming Commission began developing sports betting regulations in May following the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

“Joining forces with bet365 positions Empire and our flagship Resorts World Catskills to lead a potentially enormous new market,” said Manny Pearlman, executive chairman of Empire Resorts.

“bet365’s global expertise in effectively developing and executing world-class sportsbooks strongly complements Empire’s leadership in commercial casino operations in New York. This collaboration, which will enable Resorts World Catskills to be a leading destination for sports wagering in New York State, highlights our commitment to the continued growth of Resorts World Catskills, as well as our dedication to working with the best, most innovative pioneers in the industry to provide world-class gaming options.”

The company also announced that Kien Huat Realty III, Empire Resorts’ largest shareholder, has committed to purchase up to $126 million of convertible preferred stock, with a conversion price of $20 per share. bet365’s $50m investment is also priced at $20 per share, payable in two tranches.

Simon Betteley, president of Hillside (New York), a bet365 affiliate, commented: “This landmark agreement, which combines Empire’s gaming operating skill with our expertise in providing best-in-class online sports betting, allows bet365 to tap into what we believe will be one of the most significant online and sportsbook markets in the United States.”

Shares in Empire Resorts Inc. (NSQ:NYNY) were trading up 32.94 per cent at $11.34 per share in New York Wednesday morning.

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