Taft has substantial experience offering innovative, comprehensive legal services to a wide range of clients involved in all aspects of the casino and route-based gaming industry throughout North America and worldwide. As state and local governments have become increasingly dependent on gaming ventures as a source of revenue and jobs, the number of gaming-related opportunities for our clients has proliferated.
In a heavily regulated industry like casino and route-based gaming, we knew early on that the best way to learn the industry was by starting from the inside — by working as gaming counsel with state governments and their regulatory authorities to draft and advise on gaming legislation, rules and regulations. In addition to working on the government side of gaming, our lawyers have gained an in-depth understanding of the operational side of the gaming business by serving as counsel to some of the largest casino gaming companies in the world. We have also acquired significant expertise in the financial structuring of gaming transactions by representing investors, including private equity sources and real estate investment trusts, and lenders to gaming projects.
Our attorneys have represented industry clients in all aspects of casino and route-based gaming-related transactions, including the development and acquisition of facilities, structuring, negotiating and documenting of joint ventures to develop or acquire gaming projects, representing pari-mutuel, off-track betting and “racino” gaming operations, advising casino operators, casino gaming suppliers, equipment manufacturers and other vendors on licensing and other regulatory matters, representing gaming operators in multiple jurisdictions, and advising Native American tribes with respect to Class II and Class III gaming operations. The group earned a prestigious nationwide recognition by Chambers USA for Gaming and Licensing Law in 2020.
Regulatory and Compliance
- Advise on necessity of obtaining licenses and regulatory approvals to own, manage and operate casino and route-based gaming projects.
- Advise on necessity of obtaining approvals for public and private debt offerings of gaming companies.
- Advise gaming suppliers, equipment manufacturers and other vendors on regulatory matters.
- Assist financial institutions, private equity funds, investment banks, foreign corporations, sovereign wealth funds and real estate investment trusts in preparing corporate structures that are compatible with gaming regulatory issues.
- Prepare regulatory applications for gaming licenses.
- Advise on and draft gaming legislation, as well as related rules, regulations and policies.
- Represent gaming clients and vendors before regulatory agencies.
- Assist in the preparation of proposals submitted in response to municipal and state RFPs for casino licenses.
- Advise on the political process in connection with passing and amending gaming legislation.
- Draft internal compliance procedures for gaming clients.
- Conduct independent internal investigations related to alleged gaming regulatory violations.
Mergers and Acquisitions
- Provide M&A, contract, joint venture and real estate expertise to gaming owners, operators and vendors.
- Negotiate and draft management agreements with gaming operators.
- Negotiate and draft development agreements related to multi-billion dollar casino gaming projects.
- Negotiate and draft purchase and sale agreements relating to gaming assets.
- Advise on the formation of corporate and business structures to meet gaming regulatory requirements.
- Advise on all aspects of the development of gaming facilities and ancillary businesses.
- Negotiate and document senior, mezzanine and equity financing for gaming projects throughout North America.
- Advise commercial lenders, financial institutions, private equity funds and real estate investment trusts with respect to financing gaming developments.
- Advise sovereign wealth funds participating in gaming ventures.
- Advise individual investors on potential gaming opportunities.
- Serve as casino gaming counsel to city, county and state governments.
- Draft gaming legislation and related rules and regulations.
- Review and evaluate casino gaming proposals made by competing developers/operators.
- Advise city and state governments on conducting competitive selection processes for casino opportunities.
- Assist in evaluating impacts of proposed casino developments on host communities.
- Negotiate host community agreements between local governmental units and the casino developers.
- Advise local communities on route-based gaming matters.
- Represent casino gaming operators and route-based gaming operators in a variety of matters related to gaming assets, including contract disputes and trademark and patent infringement cases.
Transactions in which our gaming lawyers have been actively involved include the following:
- Selected by the New York State Gaming Facility Location Board to assist in conducting its competitive bidding process for the issuance of up to four gaming licenses in Upstate New York.
- Appointed by Ohio Attorney General as Special Counsel to provide legal services for casino legislation implementation matters for the state’s Office of Budget and Management.
- Development of Hoosier Park, Indiana’s first horse racetrack, and its related off-track betting facilities, as well as the further development of casino gaming at Hoosier Park.
- Financing of casinos and/or racinos in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and Pennsylvania, as well as Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.
- Development of Argosy’s riverboat in Lawrenceburg, Ind., one of the country’s most profitable riverboat casino gaming operations.
- Acquisition of River Downs in Cincinnati, Ohio.
- Development of the Augustine Casino, a Native American, land-based casino in Coachella, California.
- Counsel to two large publicly-held casino companies and their respective acquisitions of casino gaming assets.
- Representation of clients before gaming regulators throughout North America.
- Development of the French Lick Casino and its related facilities in French Lick, Indiana.
- Acquisition of the Fortune Valley Casino in Central City, Colorado, from Harrah’s.
- A $200 million minority investment in a multi-jurisdictional regulated casino gaming entity and the entity's completion of an approximately $800 million syndicated senior and junior debt facilities.
- Appointed by Michigan Attorney General as Special Counsel to provide legal services with respect to a proposed takeover bid of a Detroit-based casino.
- Represented the city of Detroit in connection with $2 billion development of three land-based casino projects.
- Counsel to the city of Detroit in connection with the bankruptcy and restructuring of a Detroit-based casino.
- Advised the city of Springfield, Massachusetts, in connection with its competitive selection process for a casino developer of an $800 million casino project and represented the city in connection with assessing impacts of the development and negotiating a host community agreement between the city and the casino developer.
- Represented the city of Taunton, Massachusetts, in negotiating an Intergovernmental Agreement between the city and a Native American tribe for the development of a $500 million casino development.
- Represented the town of Milford, Massachusetts, in assessing the impacts of a proposed casino development and negotiating a host community agreement between the town and the casino proponent.
- Counsel to Prince George’s County, Maryland, with respect to a proposed casino development to be located within the county.
- Represented a publicly-held casino company in the spinoff of real estate assets.
- Counsel to gaming-focused real estate investment trusts.
- Counsel to hundreds of licensees under the Illinois Video Gaming Act, including dozens of “Terminal Operators” that control the majority of VGTs operating in the market.
- Represented a private equity fund in connection with its investment in several casinos located in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.
- Represented several multi-jurisdictional casino operators in the acquisition and disposition of certain casino assets.
- Counsel to the city of Chicago with respect to drafting legislation for a city-owned casino.
- Represented a large investment bank in connection with its financing of a multi-billion dollar casino in New Jersey.
- Represented several multi-jurisdictional casino operators in conducting internal investigations related to alleged regulatory infractions.
- Represented a large VGT operator in contract litigation that influenced casino gaming operations in a new jurisdiction.
- Counsel to an association of Illinois route-based gaming licensees.
- Advised clients in connection with responding to competitive bidding processes for casino licenses located in Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana and Pennsylvania.
- Advised state legislators in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio regarding gaming legislation and related gaming regulations.