Auditors and Gambling

There are two more days to go to vote in the survey, “Which audit firm is the next to collapse?”  I am impressed by the number of votes and a little surprised by the results so far.  But, sometimes a focused, self-interested, popular opinion is a better prognosticator than all the experts on CNBC.

I was encouraged not once, not twice, but three times recently to write to the alternative wagering site TradeSports and its sister site InTrade to propose the audit firm failure wager to them.  As we all know, the future of the audit industry is much more important than who will win the US presidential race or next week’s unemployment numbers.  More than a few of my “set” – auditors, lawyers, and other normally risk-averse types – are apparently also secret bettors. Or so their knowledge of these sites tells me!
Talking about this got me to thinking about the role of the Big 4 firms in the casino and regulated gaming industry.  The story was, while I was at PwC, that PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP did not involve itself with gambling or porn.  At least, not during business hours.  But my Google Alerts went off recently with news of PwC’s Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2008-2012.
The latest edition of this entertainment and media industry forecast was released June 18, 2008. The report covers the US, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Canada and says it provides an-depth global analyses and five-year growth projections for 15 related industry segments.  The forecast is pretty bullish for the casino and other regulated gaming segment, especially outside the US.
“In Asia-Pac, major resort casinos in Macau will propel that area to become the largest single casino gaming destination in the world.”

“New casino licenses in Chile and rising disposable income will contribute to casino gaming growth in other markets.”  “Middle East/Africa will be the fastest-growing area of EMEA, increasing to $3.3 billion in 2012 from $1.9 billion in 2007, a CAGR of 12 percent. Western Europe will increase at a 6.6 percent annual rate to $30.5 billion in 2012.”

And their folks get interviewed by Forbes.

Global gambling revenue is estimated to pass $155 billion in 2012 after growing at an annually compounded rate of 6.5 percent per year, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP report released Wednesday.  Gambling revenue is expected to rise from nearly $114 billion in 2007 because of new casinos and upgrades to existing ones around the world, the report said…

Total gambling revenue in the United States will remain well ahead of other regions, growing at 4 percent annually from $60.3 billion in 2007 to $73.3 billion in 2012, the report said. But tough economic times will lead to declining revenues in 2008 and 2009 in Nevada and Atlantic City, N.J., according to the report.

Mary Lynn Palenik of PricewaterhouseCoopers said the mortgage crisis and high gas and travel prices will lead to the decline.

PwC’s UK firm is very active in advising casino and regulated gaming firms.
Regional Casino Investment Could Stimulate the Development of New High-Quality Leisure Facilities for UK Regions LONDON – 17 MAY 2006 – As the Government prepares to issue 17 ‘new-style’ casino licences, research conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP demonstrates the benefits these schemes will have in cross-funding new high-quality leisure facilities.

PricewaterhouseCoopers ‘Hospitality Directions Europe – Casino gambling: can UK leisure win?’ looks at how the investment in casinos could stimulate much needed economic growth and eventually cross-fund new leisure facilities throughout the country.

Julie Clark, UK leisure leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP said:

“There are clear opportunities for leisure development as part of these casino bids although the precise scale of opportunities will depend largely upon the particular circumstances of the projects, the partnerships, the funding, the location, the catchments and the mix and quality of the facilities proposed.

And the PwC’rs write articles promoting the sector and complete consulting engagements for casino owners.

The Outlook for Regulated Gaming: It’s A Good Bet
By Joan Van Tassel  People may not always win their wagers at the table or at the slot machine, but forecasts suggest that many companies in the gaming business are going to be in the chips. Whether it is bricks-and-mortar or online gambling venues, PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2006-2010 says that the global revenue for “Casino and Other Regulated Gaming” will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.8 percent from $82.2 billion in 2005 to $125 billion in 2010.

The client is an international leisure company, with high profile brands in businesses which included restaurants, hotels, casinos, bingo halls and film processing. The company has interests in several countries, with a key focus in the UK and US. This company had identified health and safety management as a key business risk.

So I was not surprised to find that PwC really does avoid auditing the casinos and regulated gaming industry.  They’d prefer to consult to them.  Better for the squeaky-clean image not to be seen counting the millions in cash until it’s in your own shop.
But I was surprised to find one lonely PwC audit engagement in Las Vegas, of course.   And I was also surprised to find that the audit engagements are fully concentrated in the US in only two of the Big 4 – EY and Deloitte.
KPMG is nowhere to be seen.
Interestingly, in Europe, troubled Sportingbet PLC and PartyGaming PLC, (whose executives could not travel to the US under fear of prosecution,) are avoided by the Big 4.  Both companies have recently changed auditors to BDO Stoy Hayward.
Ladbrokes EY No bets from US
International Game Technology Deloitte
Harrah’s Deloitte
Isle of Capris Casinos Inc  EY
Las Vegas Sands PwC
MGM Mirage Deloitte
Monarch Casino & Resort EY
Pinnacle Entertainment Deloitte
Riviera Hldgs Corp Com EY
Trump Entertainment Resorts EY
Wynn Resorts Ltd EY
Sportingbet PLC BDO Stoy Hayward No bets from US
PartyGaming PLC BDO Stoy Hayward No bets from US
Full disclosure:  I’m a pretty good blackjack player and I’m a real lucky charm if you’re shooting craps.
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  1. […] Ernst & Young and Deloitte audit all the big gaming players but PricewaterhouseCoopers would rather consult on gaming and talk about its bright future  – LVS was its only big gaming audit – than be involved […]

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