GCG Closer to Acquisition as Most Casinos Remain Closed

The news was big. In the last few months of 2020, Apollo Global Management submitted a bid to acquire Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. Not only was it a massive deal worth more than C$2.5B, it came as the coronavirus pandemic had already shuttered GCG’s gambling properties across Canada for more than six months.

While the two companies don’t expect the deal to close until the second quarter of 2021, a key approval pushes it slightly closer to completion.

Acquisition Refresher

Apollo Global Management announced in November 2020 that “funds managed by affiliates of Apollo” agreed to acquire all outstanding shares of Great Canadian Gaming Corporation at C$39 per share. GCG’s board of directors unanimously approved the deal.

Many shareholders did not.

Some of them vocally complained that the share price was too low. Top shareholders like BloombergSen and CI Financial were among the first to speak out, saying that Apollo was attempting to buy a Canadian monopoly at “rock-bottom prices.” And those that felt that way comprised more than one-third of the votes necessary for shareholder approval.

Facing the danger of a shareholder veto, Apollo Funds announced a new bid on December 21 of C$45 per share.

Enough shareholders approved of the new price to make it official. Two days later, the final vote showed nearly 80% of them approved the deal, and the companies proceeded to obtain approval from various provincial gaming regulators and the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

As this process moved forward, GCG and Apollo made the news for some unsavory reasons. GCG’s CEO Rod Baker tried to sneak vaccines from a First Nations community, and Apollo CEO Leo Black paid Jeffrey Epstein for financial advice. Both top executives resigned.

Meanwhile, the acquisition process moved forward.

First Major Approvals Noted

The Supreme Court of British Columbia was the first to put its stamp of approval on the acquisition, having done so on December 30, 2020. The court approved Raptor Acquisition Corp. to acquire the issued and outstanding common shares of Great Canadian Gaming. Raptor is an affiliate of funds managed by Apollo Global Management affiliates.

On April 5, 2021, GCG announced that Invest in Canada approved the deal. Invest in Canada is an organization that approves direct foreign investments into Canada which emerged from the Investment Canada Act and launched in early 2018. The purpose is to vet companies for national security purposes but also to facilitate the new investor’s entry into the Canadian market.

Raptor Acquisition Corp. received this approval, putting it closer to the closing of the deal, still anticipated in the second quarter of this year.

Most GCG Casinos Remain Closed

Great Canadian Gaming provided an update on its 26 casinos at the beginning of April. More than one year into the pandemic, the majority of its casinos remain shuttered. Some had been able to reopen for a time with multiple precautions implemented only to be ordered to close again due to virus surges.

As of April 2, all of Ontario’s casinos are closed. Two – Shorelines Casino Belleville and Elements Casino Grant River – had previously received some authorizations to reopen, but a new April 2 order from government and health officials forced another shutdown. Now, the full list of shuttered casinos (and casino portions of racetrack venues) in Ontario is:

  • Casino Woodbine
  • Casino Ajax
  • Elements Casino Mohawk
  • Elements Casino Flamboro
  • Elements Casino Brantford
  • Elements Casino Grand River
  • Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands
  • Shorelines Slots at Kawartha Kowns
  • Shorelines Casino Peterborough
  • Shorelines Casino Belleville
  • Great Blue Heron Casino
  • Flamboro Downs
  • Georgian Downs

All British Columbia casinos remain closed as well. Those are:

  • Hard Rock Casino Vancouver
  • River Rock Casino Resort
  • Hastings Racecourse & Casino
  • Chances Casino Maple Ridge
  • Chances Casino Dawson Creek
  • Casino Nanaimo
  • Elements Casino Chilliwack
  • Elements Casino Surrey
  • Elements Casino Victoria

Select GCG Casinos Open with Restrictions

Nova Scotia officials have allowed casinos to remain open at this time but with restrictions. Table games are prohibited because of the difficulties in keeping cards and chips sanitized and maintaining social distancing. Masks are required. And other space and customer restrictions remain as well. This applies to the two GCG properties:

  • Casino Nova Scotia Halifax
  • Casino Nova Scotia Sydney

And in New Brunswick, GCG’s sole casino – Casino New/Nouveau-Brunswick – is open per health and government officials. Mask requirements and space limitations remain the current protocol, but management has allowed some table games to resume.


Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen


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