Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Casino – CalvinAyre.com
SJM Holdings’ Macau market share falls to record low in 2017

sjm-macau-casino-market-shareMacau casino operator SJM Holdings endured double-digit declines in earnings and profit last year, while its share of the overall Macau market fell to a new record low.

Figures released Wednesday show SJM’s 2017 gaming revenue was essentially flat at HKD41.3b (US$5.3b), while adjusted earnings fell 10% to HKD3.1b and profit slumped 15.6% to just under HKD2b.

SJM’s VIP, mass market tables and slots revenue were all essentially flat year-on-year, despite the overall Macau market revenue rising nearly one-fifth over the same period. SJM’s share of Macau’s broader casino market fell to 16.1% in 2017, down from 19.1% in 2016, which was itself down from 2015’s 21.7%.

SJM CEO Ambrose So said the company remained optimistic about the future of Macau and claimed SJM was entering 2018 “in a strong position.” For the record, that’s the exact same phrase So used when discussing the company’s disappointing 2016 results, so read into that what you will.

SJM’s flagship Casino Grand Lisboa property reported revenue up 5.6% to HKD14.9m, driven mainly by an 11% rise in VIP gaming revenue, which offset a 4.2% fall in mass table revenue. But the property’s earnings and profit fell 5.1% and 1.4%, respectively.

Revenue at SJM’s 16 third-party promoted casinos reported revenue falling 5.5% to HKD20.2b, while these operations kicked back profits to SJM of HKD656m, down 13.4% from 2016.

SJM remains the only one of Macau’s six casino concessionaires yet to open a flashy venue in the lucrative Cotai region, but the company claims to have made “substantial progress” on its $4.6b Grand Lisboa Palace last year, despite damage caused by Typhoon Hato and the death of a construction worker in an industrial accident last June.

SJM’s CEO said the company was “still striving” to complete construction of the Grand Lisboa Palace “by the end of this year,” but analysts have suggested the property isn’t likely to open until mid-2019 at the earliest, and possibly not until 2020.

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World Casino News
DraftKings hires Sean Hurley to lead sportsbetting effort

Anticipating a positive outcome to the Christie v NCAA federal lawsuit currently being considered by the United States Supreme Court, daily fantasy sports operator DraftKings has announced the hiring of Sean Hurley to serve as its new Head of Sportsbook. DraftKings stated that Hurley previously worked as Head of Commercial for London-based sportsbetting solutions provider […]
Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Nevada sportsbooks have second-best January on record

nevada-casino-sportsbook-nhl-bettingNevada casinos topped the $1b gaming revenue mark in the first month of 2018, thanks in part to a near-record January at the sportsbooks.

Figures released Wednesday by the Nevada Gaming Control Board show statewide gaming revenue hitting $1.015b in January, a 2.5% decrease from January 2017. The decline was almost entirely limited to the Las Vegas Strip, where revenue fell nearly 9% to $554.7m, while virtually all other regions of the state were in positive territory.

Statewide slots revenue was up 7.6% to $655.5m, while total games & tables revenue declined 10.5% to $359.5m. Nearly all the major table games were down double-digits, led by baccarat ($113.2m, -28.3%), blackjack ($97.5m, -11.8%), roulette ($27.7m, -11.5%) and three-card poker ($10.7m, -5.8%). Craps proved an outlier, rising 12% to $35.3m.

The casinos’ sportsbooks had a stellar month, with overall revenue shooting up nearly 216% to $25.1m. The state’s racebooks weren’t as fortune, with revenue down 3.1% to $3.1m.

Basketball wagering led the revenue chart with just under $15m, the second-best January performance for the books behind only January 2017. Basketball handle hit $202m, but revenue was down 18.2% year-on-year as hold fell 1.5 points to 7.4%.

Football wagering revenue contributed only $7.8m, but this was up nearly 193% year-on-year, thanks to January 2017 being a rare losing month for football. Football handle totaled nearly $180m, about $40m less than the previous January, although this was largely due to a calendar quirk pushing the NFL’s final 2016 regular season game into January 2017.

The state’s ‘other’ betting category kicked in revenue of $2.85m, a whopping 1,251% year-on-year increase. The gains are in part attributable to the town’s new National Hockey League franchise, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, which have sparked new wagering interest in what had been a niche fetish of Canadian tourists.

Parlay cards added $430k to the books’ January revenue, while laggard baseball bettors ate into the books’ returns by cashing in nearly $1m worth of overdue winning tickets. The ‘sports pari-mutuel’ operations of Nevada-licensed US Fantasy Sports brought in a mere $16k.

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World Casino News
Poker pro Gus Hansen admits to losing $600K to King’s Casino Rozvadov Owner

For some time, well-known poker pro Gus Hansen took a break from high stakes poker. The WSOP bracelet winner is getting back to the high stakes action, gaming that made him a household name in the early 2000s and beyond. On Saturday, Hansen took to his Instagram account to discuss a trip to King’s Casino […]

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Casino News Daily
Atlantic City Labor Union Pens Agreement with New Trump Taj Mahal Casino Owner

Officials for labor union UNITE HERE Local 54 and casino operator Hard Rock International have signed a “card count neutrality” agreement, the Press of Atlantic City reported.

The agreement could help the union return at the former Trump Taj Mahal casino resort, which Hard Rock is currently converting into what would be Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. The property is scheduled to be reopened in June.

Under the agreement between Local 54 and Hard Rock, the operator should agree as an employer to recognize the labor union as the official “bargaining agent of the employees” if a third party confirms that the greater number of employees have signed UNITE HERE Local 54 membership cards.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City is currently taking shape at the site of Trump Taj Mahal, once owned by US President Donald Trump. The lavish casino resort closed doors in the fall of 2016 amid a workers’ strike involving Local 54 members. They picketed the property for over a month, asking to have their previous health insurance and pension packages restored. In the early 2010s, workers gave up on certain benefits to save the ailing Trump Taj Mahal from bankruptcy.

The property was owned by New York businessman Carl Icahn back in 2016 when it was shuttered. Mr. Icahn blamed the closure of the hotel and casino complex namely on the strike, arguing that it had hurt Trump Taj Mahal’s profitability beyond repair.

New Job Opportunities

The closure of Trump Taj Mahal left 3,000 people unemployed, including 1,000 Local 54 members. The property was purchased by Hard Rock International in the spring of 2017 for a reported price of $50 million. The Florida-headquartered casino operator pledged a $500-million investment into the India-themed resort, promising to convert it into a typical Hard Rock property, replacing its iconic minarets with rock’n’roll features.

The redevelopment project is expected generate over 1,000 jobs during construction and more than 3,000 jobs once fully operational.

Under the “card count neutrality agreement” Unite 54 local members, who were previously employed at Trump Taj Mahal, could return to the redesigned property.

Under the neutrality clauses of the agreement between the labor union and Hard Rock, the latter has agreed not to prevent its staff members from joining Local 54, if they wish, and the Union and its members have agreed not to disrupt their workplace through strikes and similar initiatives.

In comments to the Press of Atlantic City, both parties have said that they were content with the agreement. Bob McDevitt, President of Local 54, praised the Hard Rock management, saying that the company seemed to understand how Atlantic City’s market worked. Hard Rock officials, in turn, pointed out that their work with the labor union would help them enter Atlantic City successfully.

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Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Tax adjustment slashes Ainsworth fiscal H1 2018 profit

Net profit of Australia-listed slot machine supplier Ainsworth Game Technology Ltd plunged by more than 50 percent in the first half of its financial year as a result of a one-time tax adjustment.

Tax adjustment slashes Ainsworth fiscal H1 2018 profitIn a regulatory filing on Tuesday, Ainsworth announced that its company’s net profit from operations in the first half of fiscal 2018 tumbled to AUD9.7 million (US$7.6 million) from AUD$20.6 million (US$16.14 million) in H1 FY17.

Ainsworth’s total revenue for the six months to December 31, 2017, dropped 2 percent to AUD120.3 million ($94.3 million) from AUD$122.7 million ($96.18 million) in the prior year period.

The company attributed the dismal financial result to the one-off adjustment of AUD8.6 million ($6.74 million) in the first half of fiscal year 2017, which reflected “the reversal of previously-recognized deferred taxes resulting from the treatment of foreign currency movements.”

Ainsworth also noted that revenue growth from international markets was offset by “a weaker domestic performance.” Ainsworth’s international revenue grew 2 percent to AUD83.2 million ($65.22 million) in H118, while its Australian market slid 10 percent to AUD37.1 million ($29.08 million).

Excluding cost of sales and financing, Ainsworth’s total operating costs fell 8.2 percent to AUD56.3 million due to lower administrative and research and development expenses.

Ainsworth Game CEO Danny Gladstone said the financial results were in line with expectations, noting that it “provides a solid base for a strong second half performance.”

The company predicts that Ainsworth’s second half profit will be “modestly ahead” of the AUD42.2 million revenue it posted in H217.

To ensure further growth in the second half, Ainsworth said it will invest in new technologies and increase its range of innovative content. The company also vowed to intensify its sales and marketing focus.

“We enter the second half with good momentum and we are making continuing progress in growing in the Americas … We expect to increase our units on participation, driving high quality earnings and strong cash flow,” Gladstone said.

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Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Two Baha Mar execs turfed after Colombian hooker arrests

baha-mar-execs-fired-hookers-arrestedThe Baha Mar casino in the Bahamas has reportedly sacked two of its executives following the arrest of two suspected Colombian prostitutes at the integrated resort.

On Monday, the Bahamas Tribune reported that the two unnamed execs were dismissed last week on “suspicion of impropriety” following an internal investigation. The report quoted Baha Mar’s senior VP of administration and external relations Robert Sands saying the pair were fired after management became aware of “potential misconduct.”

Without directly drawing a line from one to the other, Sands also noted that the Royal Bahamas Police Force “concurrently arrested two women, who were charged with overstaying their visas.” The Colombian nationals entered the Bahamas legally on January 9 but were authorized to stay in the country for only nine days.

According to court prosecutors, Cable Beach police set up an undercover operation at Baha Mar on February 17, leading to the women being charged with visa violations three days later. Despite police suspicions, they apparently failed to gather sufficient evidence to charge the pair with solicitation.

It’s unclear if the firing of the Baha Mar execs was directly related to the suspected prostitution. But the Tribune reported that “at least two suites” at the property may have been used to ‘entertain’ VIP customers of the property’s casino.

Baha Mar reportedly informed the Bahamas Gaming Board last week that the dismissals were related to a “failure to fully disclose.” The Tribune reported that the Gaming Board had already been investigating one of the fired officials, whom a source claimed had been subject to investigation in Las Vegas for alleged mishandling of client funds.

The oft-delayed $4.2b Baha Mar held its official grand opening last November after several years of financial turmoil via the bankruptcy of its original developer. The property’s new ownership was finally confirmed last year as Hong Kong conglomerate Chow Tai Fook Enterprises.

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Monday, February 26, 2018

World Casino News
Coming Atlantic City casino promising plethora of live music

Ahead of its planned opening in the summer, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City has reportedly revealed that its first year in business will see it host in excess of 200 nights of live music spread across a wide range of genres. According to a Sunday report from the Associated Press news service printed by The Washington Post newspaper, the New Jersey casino is in the process of adding a further 1,800 seats to its Mark G Etess Arena in order to take the venue’s total seating capacity up to 7,000 and it intends to utilize this large space as well as more intimate areas for its future musical offerings. Formerly called the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort until its closure in 2016 amid a labor dispute between the local chapter of the UNITE HERE trade union and billionaire property developer Carl Icahn, the 2,000-room Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City is now owned by an entity known as Boardwalk 1000. The new proprietor consists of American casino operator Hard Rock International alongside private investors Joe Jingoli and Jack Morris while an enterprise known as HR Atlantic City is due to run all of the Atlantic City venue’s gambling facilities. Jim Allen, Chairman for Hard Rock International, reportedly told an audience that had assembled at the New Shiloh Baptist Church and Community Center last week that the re-branded Boardwalk casino is to feature more live music events than the Boardwalk city has ever seen while also noting that he only recently inked a deal that will see Beyonce and Jay-Z perform at the Hard Rock Stadium near Miami. “When’s the first time someone has done 200 shows in Atlantic City,” Allen reportedly asked last week’s assembled crowd. “When’s the last time you saw entertainment on a night other than Saturday in Atlantic City? We’re going to make that commitment.” By contrast, the Associated Press reported that Atlantic City’s 15,000-seat Boardwalk Hall venue hosted only eleven big-name concerts throughout the whole of 2017 while it described the musical offerings from the area’s existing casinos as ‘varying widely’ with most limited to weekends. “Bringing entertainment into the city mid-week at off-peak times will be a particularly persuasive reason for visitors to consider extending their stay,” Rummy Pandit, Executive Director of the Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at nearby Stockton University, reportedly told the news service. “Turning a two-night weekend stay into a long weekend or mid-week getaway can make a huge difference for Atlantic City’s lodging, food and beverage, retail, gaming and tourism businesses.”
Casino News Daily
Melco Looks For Cyprus Casino Resort Staff

Casino operator Melco Resorts & Entertainment and its partner Cyprus Phasouri (Zakaki) Limited have begun searching for staff for their €550-million integrated resort, currently under development in the Cypriot city of Limassol.

The developers have recently opened the first job positions for people interested to work at the first casino resort in the Republic of Cyprus. The positions available include slot attendant, dealer, gaming machine supervisor, finance, security, and information technology vacancies. It is also important to note that Melco and its local partner are currently looking for staff for the four satellite casinos in Nicosia, Larnaca, Paphos, and the Famagusta area as well as for the temporary casino in Limassol that are all set to open doors later this year.

Melco has said on the official website of City of Dreams Mediterranean that it is looking for “proactive and passionate talent” to join its team in Cyprus.

The actual resort with the main casino floor is slated to be launched in 2021 in Limassol’s Zakaki area. City of Dreams Mediterranean, as the multi-use complex will be named, will also be located near the My Mall Limassol shopping center, which is known to be the largest property of its kind in the Republic of Cyprus. As mentioned above, a temporary casino will operate in Limassol, until the main gaming floor is finished.

Jobs and Increased Tourist Activity

City of Dreams Mediterranean is expected to generate 4,000 temporary jobs each year during construction. Once fully operational, the resort would employ more than 6,500 people directly and indirectly.

According to analysts, the mixed-use complex could bring an additional of 300,000 tourists each year. Melco has also recently pointed out that it would look to attract visitors all year round and thus turn the tiny Mediterranean nation into a tourist destination that does not rely heavily on seasonality. At present, Cyprus welcomes the greatest portion of international tourists in the period between May and October.

City of Dreams Mediterranean will be the first property of its kind to open doors in this part of Europe. However, it seems that the €550-million complex could face competition from another casino resort in the region shortly after its opening.

It has recently emerged that Greek developer Lamda Development, together with a group of international developers, is planning to build an $8-billion multi-purpose integrated resort near Athens. Among a number of other facilities, the complex will also include a casino floor.

Last week, Greece’s top administrative court gave the green light to the country’s gambling regulator to launch a bidding process for operators that want to run the casino portion of the mega-resort. According to previous reports from Greek media, Las Vegas giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been looking to join the scheme.

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Casino – CalvinAyre.com
The 13 Holdings targets mid-2019 casino opening … maybe

the-13-macau-casino-2019-openingStruggling Macau luxury hotel project The 13 Holdings is hoping to attract fresh investment by announcing plans to launch casino gaming operations next year.

On Sunday, The 13 Holdings Ltd informed the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that it now plans to launch casino and retail shopping operations at its in-development luxury hotel project of the same name no earlier than March 31, 2019.

The announcement came as the company announced plans to raise additional capital via a new rights issue. The company says it needs an additional HK$973m (US$124.4m) to complete the unfinished hotel, which has undergone numerous financial setbacks over the past year.

Conceived as the ultimate gambling hideaway for the Asia-Pacific region’s über-wealthy during the Macau casino market’s pre-2014 heyday, the property’s raison d’être looked increasingly dubious after China began cracking down on corruption and on capital flow to Macau casinos.

Last month, The 13 founder Stephen Hung walked away from the project, resigning all his executive and board positions while selling off his significant holdings in the project. The company also announced another delay in the opening of the property’s hotel component, this time to April 30.

Part of The 13’s problem was the uncertainty surrounding Macau authorities’ willingness to grant the property a casino license. Early on, The 13 claimed it had reached a deal with an “affiliate” of one of Macau’s six casino concessionaires, with observers at the time suggesting the concessionaire in question was Melco Crown Entertainment (now Melco Resorts & Entertainment).

The 13 said Sunday that it had received a letter from this affiliate on January 17, and that this letter didn’t contain “any negative feedback” regarding their original agreement. The 13 claimed “disclosure restrictions” in this deal prevented the company from identifying the affiliate.

However, The 13 did indicate that the concessionaire “operates a number of integrated casino hotels in Macau and clubs with gaming machines as its non-casino based operations.” Among MRE’s divisions is the slots-only Mocha Clubs brand.

Assuming it ever opens, The 13’s casino plans to offer 66 gaming tables (16 VIP, 50 ‘premium mass’) with minimum bets set “at a comparatively high level.” The casino also hopes to offer around 50 high-limit slot machines.

However, The 13 cautioned that its casino plans depended on (a) the whims of the concessionaire and (b) securing the blessing of Macau authorities, and thus “the casino at The 13 Hotel may not proceed according to the currently contemplated plan.”

Furthermore, the money The 13 is currently seeking to raise won’t cover the casino’s development costs. For that, The 13 claims it will have to get out its begging bowl at some future date to raise an additional HK$352m ($45m).

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World Casino News
New online casino Lucky Vegas to launch March 6

BGO Entertainment Ltd has announced a new online casino will be launched this March titled Vegas Luck. Players can look forward to an exciting selection of slot games, progressive jackpot titles and table games, along with a unique rewards system. The new online casino will be live starting March 6th, providing members with the ability to collect lucky charms during gameplay. Each time a player fills a wishing well, extra spin rewards are provided, which are reportedly always wager-free at this online casino! New players to Vegas Luck will have access to a Welcome Bonus, which will include as many as 50 extra spins on the first deposit. For every £1 deposited, players will earn 1 extra spin. There is no wagering requirement and no max win cap. Players can claim their extra spins on Wild Wild West, Finn & The Swirly Spin, Lights and Starburst slot games. The new online casino is licensed in Alderney and by the UKGC with English as the only language and GBP the currency type on offer. Games are provided by the best in the industry including NetEnt, Playtech, IGT, NextGen, Gaming Lap, Quickspin and more. Deposit methods are of the highest quality for UK players including PayPal, Visa/MasterCard, iDebit, Boku, Pay.com, Skrill, NETELLER, Paysafecard and Ecopayz. For withdrawing funds in the UK, players can use Visa/MasterCard, PayPal, Pay.com, iDebit, Skrill and NETELLER. The new online casino will be live in just a few days, with players finding the new venue at www.VegasLuck.com.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

World Casino News
NetEnt launches newest video slot; Asgardian Stones™

Asgardian Stones™, the latest fantasy-based game from Swedish online casino games developer NetEnt, transports players into the mysterious realms of Nordic mythology and presents industry first crush features. First announced in January, the second game release of 2018 from NetEnt is a 5-reel, 3-row, 20-bet lines video slot that can be played on all devices. The game is sure to set pulses racing as players experience the magical surroundings, as colossal stones guard the gates of Asgard, where only the bravest of warriors can dwell amongst the Gods. One of NetEnt’s best-looking slots, the game includes the new Colossal Crush feature, an industry first, where colossal symbols crush rows of symbols underneath, with each row increasing the multiplier by 1 up to 4x, as well as an extra spin wheel that also crushes symbols and rows. The Colossal Crush feature showcases the fact that NetEnt continues to lead the way in the world of online casinos, with gaming experience and innovative games. A captivating Norse soundtrack immerses players into a game full of twists and turns as they try to overcome the colossal giant stones so that they may gain entry into the enchanted world. Commenting on the release, Chief Product Officer for NetEnt, Henrik Fagerlund, said, “Our team has worked tirelessly during the process of designing and creating Asgardian Stones™ and really look forward to see the game finally out with players all over the world,” according to to the press release. “The Colossal Crush feature is an industry first and only adds to the excitement this game offers, so we can’t wait to see the reaction from the gaming world as we continue our positive start to 2018,” said Fagerlund. At ICE Totally Gaming 2018, NetEnt took the opportunity to showcase its new game, Gonzo’s Quest VR, the first web VR slot game to be released within the igaming industry, which was developed using real-time 3D. Billed as a "true omni-channel creation," Gonzo'z Quest VR is due to go live this summer.
Casino News Daily
John Misirian Leads after WPT L.A. Poker Classic $10,000 Championship Day 1

The 2018 edition of the WPT L.A. Poker Classic $10,000 Championship kicked off on Saturday at Commerce Casino. As many as 475 entries registered for the prestigious tournament during its first day, but only 282 of them will progress into Day 2, which will be played later today at the host venue.

Action is scheduled to resume at noon local time and players who failed to join the field on Day 1 will be able to do that until the first break of Day 2 or around 1:45 pm local time. The tournament feature a freezeout format, which means that re-entries are not allowed.

John Misirian will be leading the start-of-the-day pack of contenders. The player assumed the chip lead at some point on Day 1 and cemented his position on the very last hand of the day by eliminating poker pro Sean Winter. Misirian bagged and tagged 234,300 worth in chips for the night.

The player comes fresh from a victory in an event that took place earlier during the ongoing LAPC poker festival. Talking with WPT staff, he said last night that that recent triumph had certainly built his confidence. Yet, he pointed out that one cannot be too confident, particularly in cases where the field is packed with poker professionals.

Feeling Comfortable When Playing with Good Players

Misirian revealed that playing with good poker players makes him feel more comfortable on the felt. The player went on to say that playing in an event that involves so many poker professionals provides opportunity to learn a lot.

According to his Hendon Mob profile, Misirian has a total of $268,377 in live tournament earnings. It can also be said that the player has mainly cashed in three-figure buy-in tournaments over the course of his career.

Day 2 of the $10,000 Championship will see the likes of Andy Frankenberger, Toby Lewis, and Richard Seymour take their seats after surviving the eight levels played on Day 1. However, former WPT Main Event champions Ryan Riess, Darren Elias, and Jared Jaffee did not make it through the day.

Registration will remain open through the first stages of Day 2, as mentioned above, which means that the field will certainly grow. Once registration closes, organizers will be able to calculate the prize pool and to announce the places paid and the first-place prize for the last player standing in the tournament.

Daniel Strelitz won the WPT LAPC Championship last year. The player bested a field of 521 entries to eventually scoop $1 million for his efforts. Streilitz entered this year’s event yesterday and survived through all eight levels to bag and tag 66,200 and secure a seat among the Day 2 participants. It is to be seen whether he will be able to win the exciting tournament for a second consecutive year. The Championship is set to be played through March 1.

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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Casino News Daily
A Casino Could Secure Convention Center for Sunshine Coast, City Council Believes

The possibility for the addition of a casino as part of the Maroochydore Central Business District development project is still being discussed by the Sunshine Coast Council, despite recent comments by Mayor Mark Jamieson that a facility of this type was not on their agenda at the time.

In a letter to the editor of local news outlet the Sunshine Coast Daily, City Councilor John Connolly said that the Council still believes a project, including a casino, under Queensland’s Integrated Tourism Development program was the right path to “securing a regional convention centre”.

Cr Connolly went on to say that the Sunshine Coast Council does not have the means to build a convention and exhibition center as soon as it might wish and that they have to consider different ways to fund a project of this kind.

Local media reported earlier this week that the Queensland Government has confirmed it had promoted a visit by Malaysian casino company NagaCorp to Sunshine Coast. The visit took place last fall. Reportedly, NagaCorp executives and an architect, who had previously worked on the company’s existing casino resort in Cambodia, met the Sunshine Coast Mayor to discuss opportunities for a future partnership.

State Tourism Development Minister Kate Jones said earlier that the meeting taking place did not necessarily mean that a casino would be included in the Maroochydore CBD development project.

Boost to Local Tourism

In his letter, Cr Connolly wrote that Sunshine Coast does not have a large convention center that is paid for by the government, unlike other regions around the state. According to the City Councilor, a project that would include a gaming floor as well as different non-gaming facilities could significantly help the city fulfill its plan for a convention and exhibition venue.

He went on to say in his letter that the Maroochydore CBD development, if it includes attractive enough offering, would boost the region’s construction sector significantly and would then boost the region’s and the state’s tourism sector. The official also pointed out that the city should not rule out that quickly the opportunities that a casino could create.

The Queensland Government has not confirmed that the addition of a casino to the Sunshine Coast development project has been debated. On the other hand, Minister Jones has confirmed that she would visit the Sunshine Coast in March to discuss tourism opportunities with Mayor Jamieson.

Federal and state MPs have fired at the Sunshine Coast Mayor for his failure to end the casino debate once and for all by ruling out the construction of a gambling venue in the city. Mr. Jamieson said earlier this week that the decision about a casino is not within his or the City Council’s power and that such a decision can only be made by the state government.

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World Casino News
AGS gets green light to offer its gaming products in Ohio

Las Vegas-based designer and manufacturer of gaming products for the casino industry, PlayAGS, Inc. (NYSE: AGS) recently announced that the company’s application to begin the sale and distribution of its Class III EGMs, along with its table game products, to commercial casinos statewide [Ohio], has been approved by the Ohio Casino Control Commission. Commenting on the approval, President and CEO of AGS, David Lopez, said, "We are very pleased that the Ohio Casino Control Commission has approved our license application and are confident in our ability to grow our Class III and table game product businesses within this robust marketplace," according to the press release. "This approval will allow us to leverage our already established relationships with many of the state's casino operators who are eager to begin offering our consistently high-performing products like OrionSM, ICON™, and Bonus Spin™.” The Ohio Casino Control Commission oversees all commercial gaming statewide, including Penn National Gaming-owned Hollywood Casino Toledo and Hollywood Casino Columbus, and JACK Entertainment’s JACK Cleveland Casino and JACK Cincinnati Casino. The recent approval of its Ohio license sees AGS’ total license count increase to 257 different jurisdictions, a 102 percent spike in total available market opportunity since 2012. Last month saw the Nevada Gaming Commission unanimously approved a registration order and an initial public offering (IPO) for what is the second-largest Class II slot machine manufacturer in the country. The New York Stock Exchange welcomed PlayAGS, Inc. on Jan. 26, 2018, on its initial public offering and first day of trading on the NYSE.
World Casino News
Bede Gaming agrees content deal with Pragmatic Play

UK-based online gaming software developer Bede Gaming has inked a partnership agreement with digital games provider for the online gaming industry, Pragmatic Play. The deal will reportedly see Pragmatic Play’s entire portfolio integrated into Bede’s premium platform, PLAY. Every Bede operator will now have access to Pragmatic Play’s more than 80 HTML5 games, including Gold Rush, Chilli Heat, Caishen’s Gold, Vegas Nights and Jurassic Giants, according to the news release. The integration of Pragmatic Play’s portfolio is in keeping with Bede Gaming’s expansion of its best-in-class content made available through PLAY. The developer has already inked several partnership deals with top content suppliers, including Playson and Gamevy, over the past few months. Commenting on the deal, Bede Gaming CEO Michael Brady, said: “We are always looking to expand our offering to clients with the latest and most exciting titles, and integrating Pragmatic Play’s games was an obvious decision as we continue to combine premium content with our leading marketing tools. “We look forward to enjoying a long and productive relationship with a provider whose games are already performing very well.” Also commenting on the move, Chief Business Development Officer for Pragmatic Play, Yossi Barzely, said: “We have a strong commitment to growing our footprint in regulated markets, and are delighted to do so in partnership with a provider as respected as Bede. “I am sure our diverse and expertly-modelled range of games will prove popular with their clients all over the world.” Founded in 2012, Bede’s platform, along with stringent security measures, offer completely flexible gaming solutions and is making quick work of establishing itself as the go-to option for innovative operators worldwide.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Greece to launch casino tender for €8b Hellinikon resort project

greece-casino-tender-hellinikonGreece is pressing forward with plans to get into the integrated resort casino business, motivated by the government’s need to ensure its international lenders keep the cash coming.

On Thursday, the Council of State, Greece’s top administrative court, approved the development plan for a major integrated resort project on the site of Athens’ former Hellinikon airport. The decision was then published in the official Government Gazette to ensure that foreign lenders wouldn’t miss the message.

Greece’s international bailout agreement calls for the government to receive another €5.7b tranche in March, on the condition that the government follows through on promised economic reforms, including the privatization of the Hellinikon project.

In Thursday’s Council of State ruling, the judges dismissed concerns that the project’s proposed high-rises violated local planning regulations, declaring that such deviations from the norm “are justified in serving the purpose of the public interest.”

In 2014, the Greek government authorized a 99-year lease for 620 hectares of land at the airport for an international consortium that includes local developer Lamda, China’s Fosun Group, which operates the Club Med tourism business, and Abu Dhabi-based developer Eagle Hills Properties.

The consortium planned an €8b integrated resort that would include a casino, high-rise hotels, luxury residences and a marina at which well-heeled gamblers could park their yachts. But Greece’s habitual legislative inertia and tangled economy have plagued the project from the start.

The consortium claims the project will, once fully developed, boost the country’s gross domestic product by a not-insignificant 2.4% by drawing in a projected 1m new tourists to the region per year.

Greece approved new casino legislation last month and Reuters reported that the government would soon hire an advisor to oversee a tender for a new casino license for the Hellinikon project.

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Casino – CalvinAyre.com
11th-hour legislative uprising saves Connecticut casino expansion bill

The debate on whether to allow a proposed competitive process in constructing Connecticut’s first casino on non-tribal land will go ahead, and MGM Resorts can thank Democratic State Rep. Jeffrey Berger for the last-minute Senate maneuvering.

11th-hour legislative uprising saves Connecticut casino expansion billOn Thursday, the Connecticut legislature voted 18-6 in favor of holding public hearings on the proposal seeking a competitive bidding process for a commercial casino in the state despite objections from the co-chairman of the General Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, the Hartford Courant reported.

No one expected any of the three legislative proposals for casino expansion to move forward in the committee, especially after Sen. Tim Larson, D-East Hartford, and Sen. Tony Guglielmo, R-Stafford, rejected calls to place the casino expansion bills on the agenda.

In a last ditch effort to save the casino expansion bill, Berger mustered significant support from the committee members and pushed for a hearing on the competitive bidding bill.

“The process here is important, and the process here is that there are many members certainly in the House—not sure how it falls in the Senate—but certainly many members and colleagues both as Democrats and Republicans in the House are very concerned about having an open, public discussion on a proposal for commercial gaming,” Berger said, according to the news outlet.

Larson, who voted against the public hearings, reminded his colleagues that the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, operators of Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun, had been strong partners of Connecticut as they contribute $7 billion to state coffers.

The committee co-chair then took a swipe at MGM for coming into Connecticut “with a one-trick pony and promise everyone the moon and the fence around it.”

Other legislators who voted against the public hearing said that it wasn’t the right time to talk about casino expansion since they don’t have the luxury of time to hold legislative sessions.

Rep. Joe Verrengia, D-West Hartford, the third co-chairman of the committee who long favored an open casino competition, pointed out that time shouldn’t matter, especially when the issue could greatly impact the state of Connecticut. Verrengia also stressed that holding public hearings isn’t an assurance that the bill will become law.

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World Casino News
Lucky Dragon hotel open for business until March 27; judge decides

A Nevada bankruptcy judge ruled Wednesday that the hotel of the Asian-themed Lucky Dragon resort off the north end of the Las Vegas Strip will remain open for another month. U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Nevada Judge Laurel Davis decided after a bankruptcy hearing for the Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino that the hotel would remain open until March 27, when the next hearing will take place. The casino, however, will remain closed and there will not be a foreclosure auction, the judge ruled, according to local television station FOX5. The resort’s operating entity Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino LLC on Friday, Feb. 16 reportedly filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection ahead of today's scheduled foreclosure. The property had a brutal start when just a few months after opening, in order to cut operating costs, one of its restaurants was closed and about a hundred people including the general manager were fired, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal at the time. The temporarily closing of all gaming and casino restaurant operations on January 4 further emphasized the then one-year-old Asian-themed boutique hotel and locals casino’s financial woes. At the time, the resort’s management reportedly told FOX5 that the casino was “reorganizing,” and that the temporary closure meant the laying off of casino workers and less gaming and dining options. A few weeks later in January the Lucky Dragon was served with a foreclosure notice. FOX5 reports that during the bankruptcy hearing, attorneys for Lucky Dragon reportedly said that in November the property had been appraised at $143 million, however creditors stated that it was appraised at $60 million. Without disclosing specifics, lawyers for the hotel also reportedly said that should the Sahara Ave property become available for sale, there are a number of potential buyers. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on Monday that according to bankruptcy papers, Lucky Dragon was appraised at $143 million, which was funded in part with $89.5 million worth of loans from 179 individuals who invested $500,000 each through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administered EB-5 visa program. Under the program, foreigners seeking permanent green cards can do so if they invest a minimum of $500,000 into a business venture that creates at least 10 full-time jobs. FOX5 reports that none of the attorneys were certain of how the immigration status of those individuals. Five years in the making from concept to ribbon-cutting, Lucky Dragon had a soft opening on November 19, 2016, and hosted its official grand opening on December 3, 2016.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Macau casinos ponder meaning of China’s transit visa price hike

macau-zhuhai-transit-visa-price-hikeMacau enjoyed a healthy year-on-year bump in visitors during the Lunar New Year festivities but analysts are fretting over a sudden and significant rise in the price of transit visas on the Chinese mainland.

The Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) announced Thursday that over 963k visitors traveled to Macau during the weeklong Lunar New Year celebration that spanned February 15-21, up 6.5% from the number who visited during the 2017 event.

The final figure is below the 10% year-on-year rise Macau witnessed over the holiday’s first four days, as the daily average peaked at 185.5k on February 18. The second last day of the holiday saw annual growth fall to 2.8%, while the final day’s figure was 1.4% below the final day of the 2017 event.

The MGTO’s standard caveat is that there’s no direct link between visitation and casino revenue, in part because many VIP and premium mass gamblers give Macau a wide berth during the holiday to avoid the teeming masses of tourists.

Sanford C. Bernstein analysts suggest the average daily gaming revenue over the first 19 days of February was down 16% from the same period in January. Should the casinos performance prove to be weaker than expected for the remainder of the month, the final revenue figure could fail to match February 2017’s total, which would snap Macau’s 18-month streak of year-on-year monthly revenue gains.

New Year’s travelers from the Chinese mainland totaled 716k, up 12.3% year-on-year and accounting for 74.3% of total visitation. So you can understand casino operators’ concern after word spread that the main border crossing from the mainland just announced a nearly sevenfold hike in the price of Macau transit visas.

On Wednesday, Portuguese-language media outlet Ponto Final reported that the customs office in Zhuhai in Guangdong province had abruptly hiked the transit visa cost from RMB50 (US$7.88) to RMB340 ($53.55). The price hike, which was reportedly due to a “policy change” by mainland authorities, took place last Sunday.

The visas in question are issued to mainland travelers who are transiting through Macau airports on their way to an international destination. But since the visas allow the bearer to spend up to a week in Macau before taking that international flight, they have been used to circumvent other rules limiting mainland residents’ trips to Macau to twice per year.

Mainland travel agents assisted in this subterfuge by agreeing to book air travel to international cities through Macau for a nominal fee, then cancelling the flight later without penalty. Studies from a few years ago indicated very few transit visa holders actually went on to visit their supposed international destination.

Ponto Final asked both Chinese and Macau officials whether the price hike reflected a desire to rein in the number of transit visas issued to mainland residents but received no answer.

The authorities in Beijing have historically taken steps to rein in Macau’s rapid-fire growth. In early 2014, when Macau’s casino market was at its all-time peak, Beijing launched a crackdown on corruption that ultimately led to Macau’s 26-month streak of monthly gaming revenue declines.

Macau has yet to regain those lofty 2014 heights, but the market has been on a prolonged hot streak. Perhaps Beijing is choosing to act now, before things get out of hand, using less severe methods, in the hope of achieving a more tempered growth. Or not.

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Casino News Daily
WSOP Main Event Champions to Clash at the Bicycle Casino Next Week

Former WSOP Main Event Champions will be the stars of the Live at the Bike! poker web show next Thursday and Friday, it has been announced. They will clash in cash games at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles, California and action will be streamed live on the Twitch and YouTube channels of Live at the Bike!

On Thursday, March 1, players will compete in a $10,000-worth Sit’n’Go. On Friday, they will sit around the poker tables of the Bicycle Casino for a $25/$50 cash game.

Johnny Chan, Jonathan Duhamel, Ryan Riess, Joe McKeehen, and Scott Blumstein were confirmed for next week’s live stream. It is yet to be seen whether more WSOP Championship winners are to join.

Originally launched back in 2005, Live at the Bike! takes pride in being the first live streamed poker web show and the first such show to stream live cash game action from the Bicycle Casino. Its episodes feature raw and unedited poker-related poker.

A Little Bit More about Next Week’s Participants

Johnny Chan

The player has won ten WSOP gold bracelets over the course of his poker career. He captured two of his gold pieces for winning the WSOP Main Event. Here it is interesting to note that the player won the Championship event in two consecutive years – 1987 and 1988, and nearly won it in 1989, but eventually finished runner-up to Phil Hellmuth. Chan was also actually the first non-US player to win the WSOP Main Event.

Johnathan Duhamel

The Canadian poker pro captured his WSOP Main Event title in 2010. He won the event after a heads-up battle against John Racener. Duhamel’s share of the tournament’s prize pool amounted to $8.944 million. He has two more gold bracelets from WSOP events. He won them both in 2015, one from the $111,111 High Roller for ONE DROP, and the other from the WSOP Europe €25,600 High Roller.

Ryan Riess

Riess claimed the title in 2013. Jay Farber was his final opponent in the tournament. Riess won $8,361,570 for his performance. The player has not won any other WSOP gold bracelets after the 2013 $10,000 Championship, but captured another important title last spring. The player topped the field of the WPT $10,000 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Finale for a cash prize of $716,088.

Joe McKeehen

The player took down the WSOP Main Event in 2015. He played heads-up against Joshua Beckley to capture the important title. The player won the amount of $7,683,346 from the world’s most prestigious No-Limit Hold’em tournament. Last summer, McKeehen won his second gold bracelet from the series. He topped the field of the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship for $311,817.

Scott Blumstein

Blumstein is the reigning WSOP Main Event Champion. The player won the tournament last summer. His share of the gigantic prize pool totaled $8.15 million. The player navigated the tournament’s large field easily to enter the nine-handed final table as the chip leader and to further extend his advantage until he remained the last man standing.

Live streaming from the Bicycle Casino with the former Main Event Champs is set to begin at 6 pm local time on Thursday and Friday (March 1 and 2).

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Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Landing International swings to profit in 2017

Hong Kong-listed Landing International Development Limited (LIDL) became profitable again in 2017, no thanks to its gambling segment.

Landing International swings to profit in 2017In a disclosure to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, LIDL reported that the company jumped to a HK$505.1 million (US$64.55 million) profit in 2017 from a loss of HK$1.1 billion ($140.58 million) in 2016.

The company attributed its profit swing to the stellar performance of its property development segment—including the sale of condominium units at Jeju Shinhwa—and the disposal of Les Ambassadeurs Club and Casino, an upmarket gaming venue in London.

LIDL’s gaming business, however, remained a drag to the company as its revenue dropped 35.1 percent to HK$235.80 million ($30.13 million) in 2017 compared to HK$363.45 million ($46.47 million) revenue in 2016.

Total gaming business segment loss of LIDL from continuing operations was approximately HK$ 117.01 million ($14.95 million). The firm gave no reason for the decline in revenue.

“Despite the disposal of Les A on 11 October 2017, the Group remains firmly committed to its Gaming Business and continues to operate Landing Casino in Jeju, South Korea,” the company said in a statement. “The Group recognizes that a casino is one of the most essential facilities within an integrated resort in order to offer its visitors a complete hospitality experience.”

Meanwhile, LIDL announced in a separate notice that Jeju Shinhwa World, a resort on South Korea’s Jeju Island, is set to open on February 25 after the Government of the Special Self-Governing Province conditionally approved the relocation of its casino from Hyatt Regency Jeju Hotel.

The firm currently has 28 gaming tables and 16 slots and electronic table games (ETG) at the Hyatt Regency Jeju Hotel. Upon its transfer to Jeju Shinhwa World, LIDL said that the Landing Casino will house 155 live gaming tables and 239 slots and ETG.

To provide better product offerings to the customers of Jeju Shinhwa World, Landing Jeju said that it plans to accelerate the construction of the waterpark, theme park hotel and dormitory and training facilities in 2018 instead of shelving it for next year.

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World Casino News
ORYX Gaming launches Arena Casino in Croatia

Slovenia-based online casino software company, ORYX Gaming, recently launched Arenacasino.hr, one of the first Croatian iGaming websites featuring casino and slots, according to to the news release. Via the deal, Arena Casino will be provided with ORYX’s complete technology stack, compliance services, gaming content, operational and marketing services. ORYX’s iGaming Platform boasts a wide selection of content from distinguished game providers such as NextGen, EGT, ORYX and Gamomat and has been certified in accordance with Croatia’s legal requirements. Arena Casino games are available to players via mobile and desktop, with a focus on mobile in keeping with the vision of being the lead mobile choice for players in Croatia. More than 100 mobile slot games can be enjoyed by players, along with unique bonuses, multiple payment methods and extra spins promotions with full support. CEO for ORYX Gaming, Matevz Mazij, said: “Croatia is an exciting iGaming market and we’re pleased to be able to use our expertise to help launch the inaugural online operation for Arena Casino. Our ability to comply with local regulatory requirements and deliver a strong game portfolio makes us the perfect partner to ensure success. I’m happy to say we had a great team of people involved.” The online gaming turnkey solutions provider also recently agreed a deal that will see it supply content from a selection of developers to two iGaming domains operated by Malta-based Quasar Gaming.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Casino News Daily
Casino Company’s Visit to Sunshine Coast Promoted by Queensland Government

The Queensland government confirmed that it had promoted the recent visit to the site of the Maroochydore Central Business District by executives of Malaysian casino operator NagaCorp, local news outlet the Sunshine Coast Daily reported earlier today.

The Maroochydore CBD, currently under development in the central part of Sunshine Coast (in the small town of Maroochydore), is planned to be a multi-million, mixed-use complex that will spread over 53 hectares of land. When finished, it will feature accommodation buildings of different types, food and beverage facilities, retail space, a number of office buildings, and a new city hall building.

Queensland’s Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones has confirmed that the November 2017 visit to the CBD’s site had been promoted by the state’s Special Projects Unit, which had been part of the Department of State Development prior to the latest Queensland election. She has also told local media that members of the unit have met and will be meeting with international investors to promote and encourage tourism development in the state.

The Queensland MP has further explained that NagaCorp’s visit was too part of their initiative to attract foreign investors to potentially invest into the state’s tourism industry. The Malaysian hotel and casino operator was provided with information about Queensland’s tourism sector as well as about the state’s Global Tourism Hubs scheme and the requirements an investor must meet in order to participate in said scheme.

Generally speaking, the Global Tourism Hubs were defined by state politicians as mixed-use properties with hotel, food and beverage, entertainment, and casino facilities. One such hub is set to be developed in Cairns. Under initial estimates, the project will cost A$1 billion and will include a casino. According to recent information released by the government, 12 investors, both local and international, have registered interest in participating the project. It has also been revealed that major casino companies have been among those 12.

Growing Pressure against Maroochydore Casino

While the addition of a casino to the Maroochydore CBD development has never been confirmed, local media had previously reported that the idea had been pitched by Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson.

Over the past several months, the city official has faced pressure both from state and federal politicians to nix any plans for a gambling venue as part of the CBD construction project.

Mr. Jamieson has told local media that there was nothing wrong with NagaCorp visiting Sunshine Coast and being interested in what development opportunities the region presented. The Mayor further pointed out that the casino company’s visit had been promoted by the state government and not by Sunshine Coast, and that any potential addition of a casino as part of the Maroochydore development project could only be decided upon by the Queensland Government and not by the city council.

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World Casino News
Campeonbet pens affiliate deal with Income Access

Curacao licensed online sportsbook and casino brand, Campeonbet, has launched an affiliate programme in partnership with Income Access, Paysafe’s marketing technology and services provider, as part of its strategy this year to reach beyond its Southern and Central American focus and enter new global markets. Under the terms of the deal, the new programme will be managed by Income Access with its affiliate software, enabling Campeonbet’s in-house team of affiliate managers to target players according to country, language, device and city and to segment campaigns. New affiliates who join the programme will benefit from up to 60 percent revenue share for the first three months of promoting the brand. After the promotional period has passed, commissions will revert to up to 50 percent revenue share, according to the news release. Operated by CW Marketing B.V, the brand is available in multiple languages, and this year after receiving regulatory approval intends to enter new global markets. Joshua Light, affiliate manager for Camppeonbet, said, “Our strategy and mindset at Campeonbet is strongly focused on international expansion, and we consider Income Access as an ideal ally on our journey into new global markets.” “Supported by the Income Access platform, our marketing department and affiliate team are dedicated to optimising our customer acquisition and retention across all marketing channels, with a strong focus in 2018 on affiliates,” said Light. Also commenting on the deal, chief executive for Income Access and Digital Wallets at Paysafe, Lorenzo Pellegrino, said, “Affiliate marketing is a tried and tested channel to establish a brand in new markets through long-term customer acquisition. “Our software will allow Campeonbet to tailor its affiliate campaigns very specifically to ensure they succeed in whichever market the brand is targeting.”