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Wirtz Beverage, Charmer Sunbelt to merge

The Charmer Sunbelt Group and Wirtz Beverage Group, two North American family-run distributors of wine, spirits and beer, have signed an agreement to combine substantially all of their beverage alcohol operations.

The new company, Breakthru Beverage Group, initially will have operations in 16 markets — including Las Vegas — employ more than 7,000 people and represent a portfolio of premier wine, spirits and beer brands with $6 billion in annual sales.

All of the holdings of Charmer Sunbelt Group and Wirtz Beverage will stay intact and become subsidiaries of Breakthru Beverage.

Nevada is served from a facility at 1849 W. Cheyenne Ave. in North Las Vegas.

W. Rockwell Wirtz and Charles Merinoff will lead the new organization as co-chairmen of the board. Daniel Wirtz, president of Wirtz Beverage Group, will be vice-chairman. Greg Baird, Charmer Sunbelt Group president, will serve as president and CEO of the new company. Arthur Wirtz, Wirtz Beverage chief operating officer, will serve as executive vice president of operations and a member of the board.

As president/CEO, Baird will be responsible for day-to-day operations of the company, and will have organizational oversight and direct management of the senior leadership team. All company personnel will report to Baird, who will report to the board and operating committee members Merinoff and Daniel Wirtz. The operating committee will oversee the integration of the businesses, manage and direct strategic planning, and play a key role in leading supplier relations.

The new organization will be headquartered in New York with a corporate leadership presence in Chicago.

The two companies share many of the same supplier partners, distributing similar brands across a geographically diverse footprint.

Charmer Sunbelt Group operates local distributor and/or brokerage houses in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, and has interests in Alabama and Mississippi. The Wirtz family has interests in Illinois, Wisconsin, Nevada, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa and throughout Canada.

Alliance Beverage in Arizona will continue to be a joint venture, between Breakthru and the Glazer family, and Breakthru will have interests in Alabama and Mississippi with the Glazer and Young families. The markets of Canada, Connecticut, Iowa, Missouri and New York will not be owned by the company. However, Charmer Sunbelt and the Wirtz family anticipate continuing their respective partnership, management and supportive relationships with these affiliated companies.

The closing, subject to customary conditions including shareholder and regulatory approvals, is anticipated to occur in January.

ACEP, GameAccount team up on virtual gaming

American Casino & Entertainment Properties LLC (ACEP), through its online division ACEP Interactive, is partnering with GameAccount Network PLC to expand its online virtual gaming website to a national level.

GameAccount Network is based in the United Kingdom and its U.S. headquarters is in Las Vegas. ACEP owns and operates four gaming and entertainment properties in Nevada including the Stratosphere casino-hotel, Arizona Charlie’s Decatur, Arizona Charlie’s Boulder and Aquarius Casino Resort in Reno.

Slated to launch this winter, the collaboration will evolve the site’s online offerings by providing a larger game library, stronger mobile offering and the ability to monetize with virtual currency.

“GameAccount Network has proven themselves as the go-to platform to meet the needs of the casino operator,” Alec Driscoll, director of Gaming Development at ACEP, said in a statement.

Launched in 2013, acePLAYpoker.com offers free online virtual gaming, including poker and slot games, allowing ACEP to stay top-of-mind with gamers and provide an enhanced customer experience.

Once updated, the website and mobile app will offer an expanded profile of simulated slots and table games as well as new games such as bingo. ACEP is the fifth land-based casino to adopt GameAccount Network’s technology and the first in Las Vegas.

“We believe simulated gaming is the right opportunity for major land-based Nevada casino operators seeking to extend their business and patron relationship online and take market share in the highly competitive Las Vegas gaming market,” Dermot Smurfit, CEO of GameAccount Network, said in a statement.

Brazil trade delegation plans Las Vegas, Reno visits

The Brazilian Trade Mission will visit Las Vegas Nov. 2 and 3, organizer MCE Solutions LLC said.

The governor’s office of the Brazilian State of Espirito Santo, the state’s investment agency, and a delegation of Brazilian businesses including trade associations and business executives will comprise a historic trade mission to Reno and Las Vegas as well as San Diego.

The trade mission, which aims to develop long-term trade partnerships between the two countries and expand market share between the U.S. and Brazil, will include 25 delegation members consisting of state officials, business and trade associations, key industry executives and education officials.

The focus will be on the industries of education, energy, construction, marble and granite suppliers, tourism, clothing, chocolates and vaccines. Business relationships and investment opportunities will be explored with U.S. business owners.

Brazil is the sixth-largest economy in the world, with U.S. exports totaling over $42 billion, accounting for 15 percent of all Brazilian imports. Espirito Santo is the largest producer of petroleum in Brazil, and the capital city of Vitoria is the biggest steel producer in the world. It also has several of Brazil’s major ports.

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