Gaming Regulations & Licenses
In January 2000, the Company obtained a license to manufacture gaming machines in the state of Nevada, the United States, and a subsidiary, Konami Gaming, Inc (Nevada, the United States), also obtained licenses to manufacture and sell gaming machines in the state of Nevada, respectively. In line with the obtainment, we have entered the gaming market. Currently, we have acquired licenses for the manufacture and sale of gaming machines in various countries and regions overseas, including the United States, Australia and Asia, and we have developed our business. In connection with the obtainment of these licenses, Konami Group is subject to regulations in various countries and regions. As a typical case of these regulations, natures, scope and procedures of the ordinances and regulations regulating the manufacture, sale and distribution of gaming machines in the state of Nevada (the “Nevada Regulations”) are described below.
The manufacture, sale and distribution of gaming devices, equipment and related software is subject to federal, state, tribal and local regulations in the United States and foreign jurisdictions. While the regulatory requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the majority of these jurisdictions require licenses, registrations, permits, findings of suitability, documentation of qualification including evidence of financial stability and/or other required approvals for companies who manufacture and distribute gaming equipment, as well as the individual suitability or licensing of officers, directors, major shareholders and key employees. Laws of the various gaming regulatory agencies generally serve to protect the public and ensure that gaming related activity is conducted honestly, competitively, and free of corruption.
Various gaming regulatory agencies have issued licenses allowing us to manufacture and/or distribute our products and operate “wide area progressive” systems, also known as WAP systems. We and our key personnel have obtained or applied for all government licenses, permits, registrations, findings of suitability and approvals necessary allowing for the manufacture, distribution, and where permitted, operation of gaming machines in the jurisdictions where we do business. We have never been denied a gaming related license, nor have our licenses been suspended or revoked.
2. Nevada Regulation
The manufacture, sale and distribution of gaming devices in Nevada or for use outside Nevada are subject to the Nevada Gaming Control Act and the regulations of the Nevada Gaming Commission (Commission), and the State Gaming Control Board (GCB), and the local laws, regulations and ordinances of various county and municipal regulatory authorities (collectively referred to as the Nevada gaming authorities). These laws, regulations and ordinances primarily concern the responsibility, financial stability and character of gaming device manufacturers, distributors and operators, as well as persons financially interested or involved in gaming operations. The manufacture, distribution and operation of gaming devices require separate licenses. The laws, regulations and supervisory procedures of the Nevada gaming authorities seek to (i) prevent unsavory or unsuitable persons from having a direct or indirect involvement with gaming at any time or in any capacity, (ii) establish and maintain responsible accounting practices and procedures, (iii) maintain effective control over the financial practices of licensees, including establishing minimum procedures for internal fiscal affairs and the safeguarding of assets and revenues, providing reliable record keeping and requiring the filing of periodic reports with the Nevada gaming authorities, (iv) prevent cheating and fraudulent practices, and (v) provide a source of state and local revenues through taxation and licensing fees. Changes in these laws, regulations, procedures, and judicial or regulatory interpretations could have an adverse effect on our gaming operations.
Our subsidiary that conducts the manufacture, sale, and distribution of gaming devices in Nevada or for use outside Nevada, as well as the operation of slot machine routes and other gaming activities in Nevada, is required to be licensed by the Nevada gaming authorities. Our licenses require the periodic payment of fees and taxes and are not transferable. Each type of machine we sell in Nevada must first be approved by the Commission and may require subsequent machine modification. Our gaming subsidiary licensed in Nevada must also report substantially all loans, leases, sales of securities and similar financing transactions to the GCB and the Commission, and/or have them approved by the Commission. We believe we have obtained all required licenses and/or approvals necessary to carry on our business in Nevada.
We are registered with the Commission as a publicly traded corporation and are required periodically to submit detailed financial and operating reports to the Commission and to furnish any other information that the Commission may require. No person may become a stockholder of or receive any percentage of profits from our licensed gaming subsidiaries, without first obtaining licenses and approvals from the Nevada gaming authorities.
Our officers, directors and key employees who are actively engaged in the administration or supervision of gaming and/or directly involved in gaming activities of our licensed gaming subsidiaries may be required to file applications with the Nevada gaming authorities and may be required to be licensed or found suitable by them. Officers, directors and certain key employees of our licensed gaming subsidiaries must file applications with the Nevada gaming authorities and may be required by them to be licensed or found suitable. Our bylaws provide for us to pay all costs of the GCB investigations that are related to our officers, directors or employees.
The Nevada gaming authorities may investigate any individual who has a material relationship or involvement with us, or any of our licensed gaming subsidiaries in order to determine whether such individual is suitable or should be licensed as a business associate of a gaming licensee. The Nevada gaming authorities may deny an application for licensure or finding of suitability for any cause deemed reasonable. A finding of suitability is comparable to licensing and both require submission of detailed personal and financial information followed by a thorough background investigation. The applicant for licensing or a finding of suitability must pay all costs of the investigation. We must report changes in licensed positions to the Nevada gaming authorities. The Nevada gaming authorities may disapprove any change in position by one of our officers, directors or key employees, or require us to suspend or dismiss officers, directors or other key employees and sever all relationships with such persons, including those who refuse to file appropriate applications or whom the Nevada gaming authorities find unsuitable to act in such capacities. Determinations of suitability or of questions pertaining to licensing are not subject to judicial review in Nevada.
We are required to submit detailed financial and operating reports to the Commission. If it were determined that any Nevada gaming laws were violated by us or any of our licensed gaming subsidiaries, our gaming licenses could be limited, conditioned, suspended or revoked, subject to compliance with certain statutory and regulatory procedures. In addition, we, our licensed gaming subsidiaries and any persons involved may be subject to substantial fines for each separate violation of the Nevada gaming laws at the discretion of the Commission. The Commission also has the power to appoint a supervisor to operate our gaming properties and, under certain circumstances, earnings generated during the supervisor’s appointment could be forfeited to the State of Nevada. The limitation, conditioning or suspension of our gaming licenses or the appointment of a supervisor could (and revocation of our gaming licenses would) materially and adversely affect our gaming operations.
The Commission may require any beneficial holder of our voting securities, regardless of the number of shares owned, to file an application, be investigated, and be found suitable, in which case the applicant would be required to pay all of the costs and fees of the GCB investigation. If the beneficial holder of voting securities who must be found suitable is a corporation, partnership, or trust, it must submit detailed business and financial information including a list of beneficial owners. Any person who acquires more than 5% of our voting securities must report this to the Commission. Any person who becomes a beneficial owner of more than 10% of our voting securities must apply for a finding of suitability within 30 days after the chairman of the GCB mails the written notice requiring this filing.
Under certain circumstances, an Institutional Investor, as this term is defined in the Commission regulations, which acquires more than 10%, but not more than 15%, of our voting securities may apply to the Commission for a waiver of these finding of suitability requirements, provided the institutional investor holds the voting securities for investment purposes only. An institutional investor will not be deemed to hold voting securities for investment purposes unless the voting securities were acquired and are held in the ordinary course of its business and not for the purpose of causing, directly or indirectly (i) the election of a majority of our board of directors, (ii) any change in our corporate charter, bylaws, management, policies or operations, or (iii) any other action which the Commission finds to be inconsistent with holding our voting securities for investment purposes only. The Commission considers voting on all matters voted on by shareholders and the making of financial and other informational inquiries of the type normally made by securities analysts, and such other activities as the Commission may determine, to be consistent with holding voting securities for investment purposes only. If the beneficial holder of voting securities who must be found suitable is a corporation, partnership, limited partnership, limited liability company or trust, it must submit detailed business and financial information including a list of beneficial owners. The applicant is required to pay all costs of the GCB investigation.
Any person who fails or refuses to apply for a finding of suitability or a license within 30 days after being ordered to do so by the Commission or the chairman of the GCB may be found unsuitable. The same restrictions apply to a record owner who fails to identify the beneficial owner, if requested to do so. Any stockholder found unsuitable and who holds, directly or indirectly, any beneficial ownership of our voting securities beyond that period of time as may be prescribed by the Commission may be guilty of a criminal offense. We are subject to disciplinary action, and possible loss of our approvals, if, after we receive notice that a person is unsuitable to be a stockholder or to have any other relationship with us or any of our licensed gaming subsidiaries, we (i) pay that person any dividend or interest upon our voting securities, (ii) allow that person to exercise, directly or indirectly, any voting right conferred through securities held by that person, (iii) give remuneration in any form to that person, for services rendered or otherwise, or (iv) fail to pursue all lawful efforts to require the unsuitable person to relinquish his voting securities for cash at fair market value. Additionally, the Clark County authorities have taken the position that they have the authority to approve all persons owning or controlling the stock of any corporation controlling a gaming licensee.
The Commission may, in its discretion, require the holder of any of our debt securities to file an application, be investigated and be found suitable to own any of our debt securities. If the Commission determines that a person is unsuitable to own any of these securities, then pursuant to the Nevada gaming laws, we can be sanctioned, including the loss of our approvals, if without prior Commission approval, we: (i) pay to the unsuitable person any dividend, interest, or any distribution whatsoever; (ii) recognize any voting right by the unsuitable person in connection with these securities; (iii) pay the unsuitable person remuneration in any form; or (iv) make any payment to the unsuitable person by way of principal, redemption, conversion, exchange, liquidation, or similar transaction.
We are required to maintain a current stock ledger in Nevada which may be examined by the Nevada gaming authorities at any time. If any of our securities are held in trust by an agent or by a nominee, the record holder may be required to disclose the identity of the beneficial owner to the Nevada gaming authorities. A failure to make this disclosure may be grounds for finding the record holder unsuitable. We are also required to render maximum assistance in determining the identity of the beneficial owner. The Commission has the power at any time to require our stock certificates to bear a legend indicating that the securities are subject to the Nevada gaming laws and the regulations of the Commission. To date, the Commission has not imposed this requirement on us.
We may not make a public offering of our securities without the prior approval of the Commission if the securities or their proceeds are intended to be used to construct, acquire or finance gaming facilities in Nevada, or retire or extend obligations incurred for such purposes. Such approval, if given, does not constitute a finding, recommendation, or approval by the Commission or the GCB as to the accuracy or adequacy of the prospectus or the investment merits of the securities. Any representation to the contrary is unlawful.
Changes in control of the Company through merger, consolidation, acquisition of assets or stock, management or consulting agreements or any act or conduct by a person whereby he obtains control, may not occur without the prior investigation of the GCB and approval of the Commission. Entities seeking to acquire control of us must satisfy the GCB and the Commission in a variety of stringent standards prior to assuming control. The Commission may also require controlling shareholders, officers, directors and other persons having a material relationship or involvement with the entity proposing to acquire control, to be investigated and licensed as part of the approval process relating to the transaction.
The Nevada legislature has declared that some corporate acquisitions opposed by management, repurchases of voting securities and other corporate defense tactics that affect Nevada gaming licensees, and publicly-traded corporations that are affiliated with those operations, may be injurious to stable and productive corporate gaming. The Commission has established a regulatory scheme to ameliorate the potentially adverse effects of these business practices upon Nevada’s gaming industry and to further Nevada’s policy to (i) assure the financial stability of corporate gaming operators and their affiliates; (ii) preserve the beneficial aspects of conducting business in the corporate form; and (iii) promote a neutral environment for the orderly governance of corporate affairs. Approvals are, in certain circumstances, required from the Commission before we can make exceptional repurchases of voting securities above their current market price and before a corporate acquisition opposed by management can be consummated. Nevada’s gaming laws and regulations also require prior approval by the Commission if we were to adopt a plan of recapitalization proposed by our board of directors in opposition to a tender offer made directly to our shareholders for the purpose of acquiring control of us.
License fees and taxes, computed in various ways depending on the type of gaming or activity involved, are payable to the State of Nevada and to the cities and counties where our subsidiaries conduct operations. Depending on the particular fee or tax involved, these fees and taxes are payable either monthly, quarterly or annually. Annual fees are payable to the State of Nevada to renew our licenses as a manufacturer, distributor, and operator of a slot machine route. Nevada gaming law also requires persons providing gaming devices in Nevada to casino customers on a revenue participation basis to pay their proportionate share of the taxes imposed on gaming revenues generated by the participation gaming devices.
Any person who is licensed, required to be licensed, registered, required to be registered, or is under common control with such persons (collectively referred to as licensees), and who proposes to participate in the conduct of gaming operations outside of Nevada is required to deposit with the GCB, and thereafter maintain, a revolving fund in the amount of $10,000 to pay the expenses of investigation by the GCB of the licensee’s participation in foreign gaming. This revolving fund is subject to increase or decrease at the discretion of the Commission. As a licensee, we are required to comply with certain reporting requirements imposed by the Nevada gaming laws. We are also subject to disciplinary action by the Commission if we knowingly violate any laws of the foreign jurisdiction pertaining to our foreign gaming operation, fail to conduct our foreign gaming operations in accordance with the standards of honesty and integrity required of Nevada gaming operations engage in any activity or enter into any association that is unsuitable because it poses an unreasonable threat to the control of gaming in Nevada, reflects or tends to reflect discredit or disrepute upon the State of Nevada or gaming in Nevada, or is contrary to the gaming policies of Nevada, engage in any activity or enter into any association that interferes with the ability of the State of Nevada to collect gaming taxes and fees, or employ, contract with or associate with any person in the foreign gaming operation who has been denied a license or a finding of suitability in Nevada on the ground of personal unsuitability, or who has been found guilty of cheating at gambling.
3. Other Jurisdictions
Other jurisdictions in which we operate also requires various licenses, permits and approvals regulating the manufacture, sale and distribution of gaming machine which are generally similar in many respects to Nevada's restrictions.
4. Federal United States Registration
The Federal Gambling Devices Act of 1962 (the Act) makes it unlawful for a person to manufacture, transport, or receive gaming machines, gaming devices or components across interstate lines unless that person has first registered with the Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice. We are so registered and must renew our registration annually. In addition, gambling device identification and record keeping requirements are imposed by the Act. Violation of the Act may result in seizure and forfeiture of the equipment, as well as other penalties. We have complied with the registration requirements of the Act.
5. Native American Gaming Regulation
Gaming on Native American lands is governed by federal law, tribal-state compacts, and tribal gaming regulations. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, or the IGRA, provides the framework for federal and state control over all gaming on Native American lands and is administered by the National Indian Gaming Commission, or the NIGC, and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. IGRA requires that the tribe and the state enter into a written agreement, a tribal-state compact, which governs the terms of the gaming activities. Tribal-state compacts vary from state-to-state and in many cases require equipment manufacturers and/or distributors to meet ongoing registration and licensing requirements. In addition, tribal gaming commissions have been established by many Native American tribes to regulate gaming related activity on Indian lands. We manufacture and supply gaming equipment to Native American tribes who have negotiated compacts with their state and have received federal approval. We possess approvals to supply gaming equipment and components to Native American casinos in several States.
6. International Regulation
Certain foreign countries permit the importation, sale and operation of gaming equipment in casino and non-casino environments. Some countries prohibit or restrict the payout feature of the traditional slot machine or limit the operation and the number of slot machines to a controlled number of casinos or casino-like locations. Each gaming machine must comply with the individual country’s regulations. Certain jurisdictions require the licensing of gaming machine operators and manufacturers.
We manufacture and supply gaming equipment to various international markets including Australia, Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and South Africa. We have obtained the required licenses to manufacture and distribute our products in the various foreign jurisdictions where we do business.