The ownership and operation of gaming facilities, the manufacture, distribution and operation of inter-casino linked systems and the offering of off-track pari-mutuel wagering, race books and sports pools in Nevada are subject to the Nevada Gaming Control Act and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder (collectively, the “Nevada Act”), as well as various local ordinances and regulations.
The activities of William Hill PLC (“the Company”) in Nevada are subject to the licensing and regulatory control of the Nevada Gaming Commission (the “Nevada Commission”), the Nevada State Gaming Control Board (the “Nevada Board”) and numerous local regulatory agencies. The Nevada Commission, the Nevada Board and these local regulatory agencies are collectively referred to as the “Nevada Gaming Authorities”.
Our direct and indirect subsidiaries that conduct gaming in Nevada are required to be licensed by the Nevada Gaming Authorities. We have been found suitable to own the equity interests in our licensed and registered subsidiaries (the “Gaming Subsidiaries”) and we are registered by the Nevada Commission as a publicly traded corporation for purposes of the Nevada Act (a “Registered Corporation”). As a Registered Corporation, we are required to periodically submit detailed financial and operating reports to the Nevada Board and provide any other information the Nevada Board may require.
Any beneficial owner of our voting or non-voting securities, regardless of the number of shares owned, may be required to file an application, may be investigated, and may be required to obtain a finding of suitability as a beneficial owner of our securities if the Nevada Commission has reason to believe that such ownership would otherwise be inconsistent with the declared policies of the State of Nevada. If the beneficial owner of our voting or nonvoting 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 its beneficial owners, to the Nevada Board. The applicant must pay all costs of investigation incurred by the Nevada Gaming Authorities in conducting any such investigation.
The Nevada Act provides that persons who acquire beneficial ownership of more than 5% of the voting or non-voting securities of a Registered Corporation must report the acquisition to the Nevada Commission. The Nevada Act also requires that beneficial owners of more than 10% of the voting securities of a Registered Corporation must apply to the Nevada Commission for a finding of suitability within thirty days after the Chairman of the Nevada Board mails the written notice requiring such filing. An “institutional investor”, as defined in the Nevada Commission’s regulations, which acquires beneficial ownership of more than 10%, but not more than 25% of our voting securities may apply to the Nevada Commission for a waiver of such finding of suitability if such institutional investor holds the voting securities for investment purposes only. An institutional investor that has obtained a waiver may, in certain circumstances, hold up to 29% of our voting securities and maintain its waiver for a limited period of time. An institutional investor shall not be deemed to hold voting securities for investment purposes unless the voting securities were acquired and are held in the ordinary course of business as an institutional investor and not for the purpose of causing, directly or indirectly, the election of a majority of the members of our board of directors, any change in our corporate charter, bylaws, management policies or our operations, or any of our gaming affiliates, or any other action which the Nevada Commission finds to be inconsistent with holding our voting securities for investment purposes only.
Any person who fails or refuses to apply for a finding of suitability or a license within thirty days after being ordered to do so by the Nevada Commission, or the Chairman of the Nevada Board, may be found unsuitable. The same restrictions apply to a record owner if the record owner, after request, fails to identify the beneficial owner. Any equity holder who is found unsuitable and who holds, directly or indirectly, any beneficial ownership of the common equity of a Registered Corporation beyond such period of time as may be prescribed by the Nevada Commission may be guilty of a criminal offense. We will be subject to disciplinary action if, after we receive notice that a person is unsuitable to be an equity holder or to have any other relationship with us or our licensed or registered subsidiaries, we (i) pay that person any dividend or interest upon our securities, (ii) allow that person to exercise, directly or indirectly, any voting right conferred through securities held by that person, (iii) pay remuneration in any form to that person for services rendered or otherwise, or (iv) fail to pursue all lawful efforts to require such unsuitable person to relinquish his securities including, if necessary, the immediate repurchase of said securities. Additionally, local Nevada regulatory agencies also have the authority to approve all persons owning or controlling the stock of any corporation controlling a gaming license.
We are required to maintain a current membership interest ledger in Nevada, which may be examined by the Nevada Gaming Authorities at any time. If any 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. Failure to make such 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 Nevada Commission has the power to require any membership interest certificates we may issue to bear a legend indicating that the securities are subject to the Nevada Act. We do not know whether the Nevada Commission will impose such a requirement on us.
Changes in control of the Company through merger, consolidation, stock or asset acquisitions (including stock issuances in connection with restructuring transactions), management or consulting agreements or any act or conduct by a person whereby such person obtains control, may not occur without the prior approval of the Nevada Commission. Entities seeking to acquire control of a Registered Corporation must satisfy the Nevada Board and the Nevada Commission that they meet a variety of stringent standards prior to assuming control of such Registered Corporation. The Nevada Commission may also require controlling equity holders, officers, managers 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.