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Gateway and Leisure come together in Canada

Mon, Dec 30, 11:37am by Ethan Anderson

Gateway Casinos and Entertainment, known to be one of Canada’s largest operators of land-based casinos, has agreed to merge with special purpose acquisition company Leisure Acquisition Group, in a deal valued at $1.115 billion (US$1.463 billion).

Casino News Daily reports the transaction will see Gateway go public and its shares trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Its tie-up with the special purpose acquisition vehicle will enable it to gain public listing without having to go through an initial public offering process.

Under the terms of the deal, Gateway will merge and the combined entity will become a new subsidiary of the Canadian operator’s current holding company GTWY Holdings Ltd.

News about the latest consolidation in the North American land-based casino sector emerged on Friday.

It also became known that hedge fund HG Vora Management LLC is backing the transaction through a $30 million equity commitment.

The hedge fund has so far committed more than $100 million, including previously invested capital, to support Gateway’s growth.

Gateway currently operates 25 casino and entertainment properties in British Columbia and Ontario.

Those feature more than 12,800 slot machines, 365 table games and 72 food and beverage outlets.

The company also runs two properties in Edmonton, Alberta.

Merge approved by Gateway

The tie-up has already been approved unanimously by the board of director of both Gateway’s holding company and Leisure.

It is expected to close sometime in the second quarter of 2020.

The deal is subject to approvals from Leisure shareholders and regulators as well as to contractual approvals and registrations from Crown agencies, and other customary conditions.

Once the transaction closes, Marc J Falcone, who currently serves as a director at Leisure, will step in as chief executive officer of the combined entity.

He will replace Gateway’s current chief executive Tony Santo, who will retire from the company once his successor’s appointment becomes effective.

Mr Falcone said that he is excited to enter “this new role as chief executive officer of Gateway” and that he believes the Canadian casino market “offers unparalleled growth opportunities” that all make it possible for him and the rest of the company’s management team to create “significant shareholder value”.

According to initial projections, the transaction will result in Gateway generating revenue of US$659.3 million in 2020 and US$707.8 million in 2021.

The merger with Leisure is anticipated to boost Gateway’s expansion campaign in the next three years, which is planned to include the opening of three new casinos in Ontario, the relocation of two existing casinos in the province and the relocation of two existing casinos in British Columbia.

In addition, the casino operator’s current organic growth plan includes the addition of more than 1,900 slot machines, nearly 100 table games, and 15 branded food and beverage outlets to its existing offering.

Gateway’s expansion rolls on

Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Ltd. continued its assault of Canada after acquiring Chances Signal Point, a casino in Williams Lake in a report by Calvin Ayre in March.

According to a recent press release by Gateway, “this strategic acquisition marks the next milestone in Gateway’s growth strategy which has seen the company expand its footprint and product offering across Canada.”

Gateway now owns 27 properties across Canada, mostly in British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta and employees 8,658 people.

The chief executive officer of Tony Santo said: “everyone at Gateway is very excited to welcome Chances Signal Point and their tea to the Gateway family. We look forward to bringing our unique entertainment offerings to Williams Lake.”

Gateway offers 448 table games and 13,887 slots across its portfolio.

Its properties also feature 561 hotel rooms and 85 restaurants and bars. It first launched 27 years ago.


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