The Most Important Gaming Stories of 2014 – in My Opinion By Howard Stutz January 1, 2015 at 12:33 am 10 – NBA commissioner Adam Silver says sports betting should be legalized. 9 – FinCen increases its money laundering crackdown on the casino industry. (At the end of the year, the American Gaming Association issued a policy report on money laundering compliance). 8 – An illegal World Cup betting ring was busted up at Caesars Palace by FBI and state gaming agents. The ring had originally operated in Macau and involved high-end poker players and Chinese crime triads. 7 – Internet gaming’s decline (Ultimate Gaming folds, Nevada and New Jersey numbers were unimpressive) and Sheldon Adelson’s anti-Internet gaming influence. 6 – Massachusetts casino issues (Wynn earns the Boston-area license, MGM Resorts wins the Western license and the ballot referendum) 5 – Las Vegas showing signs of a rebound. SLS Las Vegas and the poorly-named Cromwell open; non-gaming attractions open or are under construction (MGM’s sports arena, Caesars The Linq and High Roller Observation Wheel, MGM’s The Park, and MGM’s Rock in Rio festival grounds). 4 – Macau’s gaming revenue decline and corruption crackdown issues. Macau faces its first-ever annual gaming revenue decline. 3 – Slot machine industry mergers. Scientific Games buys Bally Technologies for $5.1 billion; GTECH Holdings buys IGT for $6.4 billion (deal still pending regulatory approval), Global Cash Access buys Multimedia Games for $1.2 billion. The deals changed the slot machine industry landscape. 2 – Atlantic City casino closings and New Jersey gaming issues. Four casinos closed (Atlantic Club, Showboat, Trump Plaza and Revel) but the Trump Taj Mahal was saved. Also New Jersey tried to implement sports wagering and considered casinos outside of Atlantic City. The moves were an attempt to save the state’s cratering gaming market. No. 1: Caesars financial problems and planned bankruptcy. The casino company has a gaming industry-high $22.8 billion in debt, more debt than the city of Detroit (as I wrote a while back). By the end of the year, a restructuring plan was in place to eliminate $10 billion of the debt, take its largest operating division into bankruptcy reorganization, turn it into a real estate investment trust, and merge Caesars Growth Partners back into the company.