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Saturday, March 31, 2018

World Casino News
Konami Gaming announces two senior level appointments

Las Vegas-based subsidiary of the Konami Corporation, Konami Gaming Inc. has named Casey Whelan as its Vice President of games sales for North America, while Jay Bertsch will take on the role of Vice President of global system sales. Prior to the promotion, Bertsch served as senior director of system sales for more than ten […]
Casino News Daily
Biggest EPT Sochi Winners

The first European Poker Tour festival since PokerStars brought back its popular live poker brand was held at Sochi Casino & Resort in the Russian city of Sochi. The EPT Sochi proved to be a great success, particularly its Main Event, which drew a massive field of more than 860 entries.

Bearing the above-mentioned in mind, it can be said that PokerStars has clearly made the right decision to dust off and revive its EPT brand, which had previously built a solid base of fans across Europe and the rest of the world. In addition to this, it should be pointed out that Sochi has great potential to become a new popular live tournament poker destination with its casino.

The EPT Sochi attracted thousands of players, both professionals and recreational ones. And millions were distributed in prize money to the ones who made it deep enough into the festival’s events. Here are some of the biggest winners during the EPT Sochi, the first of what we all hope will be a series of successful EPT festivals.

EPT Sochi ₽192,000 Main Event

Arseniy Karmatskiy bested a field of 861 entries to win the tournament on Thursday. The player’s share of the ₽150-plus-million prize pool totaled ₽27.3 million (approximately $478,451). Karmatskiy dominated the event’s final table, winning key pots and busting fellow competitors to build his stack and pull ahead of the other players left. In the end, he busted fellow countryman Viktor Shegai in second place to claim his first-ever EPT Main Event title.

Karmatskiy had some previous triumphs on the live tournament circuit. Last August, the player won the €2,200 German Poker Championship as part of the partypoker German Poker Championships at King’s Casino Rozvadov for a first-place prize of €185,000. During last year’s PokerStars Championship Sochi, Karmatskiy topped the field of a ₽19,800 event.

As mentioned above, Viktor Shegai finished runner-up to Karmatskiy in the EPT Sochi Main Event. The player collected ₽16.56 million ($290,225) for his efforts. Ernest Shakarian, Vahe Martirosyan, and Mikhail Kovalyuk were the other three players to cash big from the tournament, collecting payouts of ₽11.688 million ($204,840), ₽8.766 million ($153,630), and ₽6.923 million ($121,335) for finishing third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.

EPT National ₽66,000 No-Limit Hold’em

The EPT National was the first event on the schedule of the EPT Sochi festival. The tournament featured a buy-in fee of ₽66,000 and was played over March 20-23 at the host venue. As many as 439 entries bought into the event, including 266 re-entries. They contributed to the creation of a ₽41.031 million ($710,727) prize pool. The money was distributed to the top 103 finishers.

Czech player Matous Houzvicek was crowned the event’s victor. The player collected the amount of ₽7.77 million ($134,590) for besting the whole field of the tournament. This was Houzvicek’s largest cash from a live tournament. Including his EPT National first-place prize, the Czech’s live tournament earnings now amount to $241,500. Houzvicek cashed in one more tournament during the EPT Sochi. He finished 18th in the ₽132,000 No-Limit Hold’em Single Re-Entry for ₽228,000 ($3,978).

Other Players

Other players who cashed big from the EPT Sochi, included Sergei Kerzhakov and Viktor Ustimov. Kerzhakov finished sixth in the Main Event to collect ₽5.19 million ($90,958) for his deep run into the major tournament. This was the player’s third ever cash from a live poker tournament.

As for Ustimov, he cashed in two tournaments within the EPT Sochi. He first finished runner-up to Houzvicek in the EPT National, good for ₽4.745 million ($82,191) in prize money. He then took 42nd place in the Main Event for a payout of ₽498,000 ($8,728). The player currently has more than $620,000 in live tournament earnings.

The post Biggest EPT Sochi Winners appeared first on Casino News Daily.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Casino News Daily
Gov. Cuomo Refuses Bailout to Cash-Strapped del Lago Resort & Casino

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he is not supportive of a state commercial casino’s bid for a bailout. The top lawmaker was among the proponents of the legalization of commercial casino gambling in the state a few years ago.

Gov. Cuomo’s comments from earlier this week came shortly after del Lago Resort & Casino officials revealed that they were seeking assistance from the state after the gambling venue missed its first-year revenue projections by $100 million. While they did not provide details on the nature of help they were seeking from lawmakers, it is believed that they might have asked for a tax break.

Del Lago currently pays an annual tax of 37% on its slot machine revenue and a 10% one on table game revenue. The casino resort had its ribbon cut in February 2017. According to original forecasts, its casino floor was expected to generate revenue of $260 million during its first full year of operation. However, the gaming facility’s revenue eventually totaled $146 million at the end of that first year.

In a letter to Gov. Cuomo and New York State budget director Robert Mujica, Sen. Joe Griffo said that del Lago was seeking a tax break of around $14 million. The Senator further wrote that he did not support a bailout of this proportion, as the state had more pressing needs.

’Private Concerns’

Gov. Cuomo told local media earlier this week that the Upstate New York casinos were private concerns and that he did not want to “get into the business of bailing out private concerns.”

Del Lago officials have blamed the Seneca Nation for their casino’s failure to reach its gaming revenue goal. The tribe operates three casinos in the western part of the state. It used to share a portion of its gaming revenue with the state under a 2002 compact. However, it stopped making payments in 2016, arguing that the compact had expired.

Steve Greenberg, a spokesman for del Lago, said that the tribe has been using the portion of revenue it should have been sharing with the state to lure patrons with different offers and promotions. According to Mr. Greenberg, tribal casinos have thus been cannibalizing revenue from the state’s commercial casinos, hence del Lago’s call for assistance.

Casino officials have told lawmakers that the property generates enough revenue to pay the bills, but that it would likely face serious problems in the long-term if it is not treated to a bailout.

Rivers Casino, which opened doors in Upstate New York shortly after del Lago, is understood to have, too, turned to state lawmakers to seek a tax break. Rivers generated $151.8 million in gaming revenue during its first year of operation, falling well short of its target of between $180 million and $220 million.

The post Gov. Cuomo Refuses Bailout to Cash-Strapped del Lago Resort & Casino appeared first on Casino News Daily.

World Casino News
UKGC settles with Skybet over self-exclusion weaknesses

The Gambling Commission in the United Kingdom has levied a £1,000,000 penalty against Skybet for “failing to protect vulnerable customers,” according to a statement issued by the UKGC earlier this week. After an investigation, the commission determined that Skybet failed in their social responsibility by not honoring self-exclusion initiated by gamblers who might have felt […]
Casino – CalvinAyre.com
The Star Entertainment inks ‘expanded strategic partnership’ with Asian firms

the-star-entertainment-partnership-hong-kong-conglomeratesAustralian casino operator The Star Entertainment Group has sold a 10% stake of itself to two Asian firms with which it’s partnered on a Queensland integrated resort project.

On Thursday, The Star informed investors that it had entered into an “expanded strategic partnership” with Hong Kong conglomerate Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE) and property developer Far East Consortium International Ltd (FEC). The trio are already joint venture partners on the A$3b Queen’s Wharf casino project in Brisbane, which is expected to open to the public sometime in 2022.

The trio have inked a Strategic Alliance Agreement that will see them pursue several development projects, including up to five joint venture towers on Australia’s Gold Coast for hotel, residential, entertainment, tourism and retail use.

The trio will also collaborate on further expansion of The Star’s flagship Sydney property, as well as form a marketing alliance to leverage CTFE and FEC’s customer bases and loyalty programs to drum up new VIP and premium mass gambling business for The Star’s casino properties.

The Star also announced that the Hong Kong firms would each be taking a 4.99% stake in the company at a cost of A$245m apiece. While the HK firms are, in aggregate, currently prohibited from boosting their stakes above 19.9%, the companies have indicated they will apply to Aussie regulators to boost their aggregate shareholding to “over 10%.”

This isn’t the first time The Star has sold a piece of itself to Asian firms. Back when the company was still known as Echo Entertainment, Malaysian gaming giant Genting took a 9.7% stake in the firm. Genting expressed a desire to boost that stake up to 25% but kept hitting regulatory roadblocks and ultimately sold off its remaining 5.62% stake in The Star last summer.

Both of The Star’s new/old partners have been making moves to expand their gaming industry presence. CTFE already controls the $4.2b Baha Mar integrated resort in the Bahamas and is collaborating on a Vietnam casino joint venture with leading casino junket operator Suncity Group. FEC recently announced a tie-up with Trans World Corp, which operates casinos in the Czech Republic.

The post The Star Entertainment inks ‘expanded strategic partnership’ with Asian firms appeared first on CalvinAyre.com.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Casino News Daily
Popular Social Casino Constitutes Illegal Online Gambling in Washington

A US Court of Appeals judge ruled on Wednesday that Big Fish Casino constituted illegal online gambling under the Washington state gambling law. The recent court ruling could open Pandora’s box for the growing social casino sector, particularly in the US where online gambling is prohibited in most states.

Developed by Seattle-based casual gaming company Big Fish Games, Big Fish Casino offers free-to-play versions of popular casino games, including slots, roulette, and blackjack. Players can play these via virtual chips that have no actual monetary value. However, if users run out of chips, they can either wait until they are offered more free chips to play the games, or can purchase chips for real money.

Judge Milan D. Smith of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said on Wednesday that the virtual chips were a “thing of value” and their purchase actually represented illegal online gambling under state law.

The lawsuit was filed against Churchill Downs back in 2015 when the Kentucky-based casino operator was the owner of Big Fish Games. Churchill Downs bought the casual games studio a year earlier for $885 million. It announced last year that it would sell Big Fish Games to Australian gaming company Aristocrat Technologies for nearly $1 billion. The deal was closed earlier this year, as confirmed by the casino company.

The ruling could have a negative impact on the growing social casino market which was worth over $3 billion last year, as virtual currencies are widely popular in social casino games. The outcomes of previous lawsuits against representatives of the social casino sector had generally been favorable. However, Judge Smith’s ruling from Wednesday could complicate future lawsuits related to the nature of social casino games and whether these constitute online gambling.

Big Fish Casino’s Lawsuit in Greater Detail

In 2015, Cheryl Kater, a regular Big Fish Casino player, filed a lawsuit against the social casino’s parent company Churchill Downs, claiming that she had spent over $1,000 on virtual chips to be able to play. Her legal team also argued that virtual chips represented “a thing of value” under a provision in Washington’s gambling law.

[A]ny money or property, any token, object or article exchangeable for money or property, or any form of credit or promise, directly or indirectly, contemplating transfer of money or property or of any interest therein, or involving extension of a service, entertainment or a privilege of playing at a game or scheme without charge.

Ms. Kater further pointed out in her legal complaint that the virtual chips could be cashed out by being sold for real money on secondary markets or being transferred to other users. However, that argument was rejected by the Court of Appeals as Big Fish Casino’s terms and conditions explicitly prohibited practices of this kind.

The post Popular Social Casino Constitutes Illegal Online Gambling in Washington appeared first on Casino News Daily.

World Casino News
Win Systems to showcase new casino products during FADJA

After a successful 2017 and 2018 thus far, with highlights such as ICE Totally Gaming especially, Win Systems is ready to continue extending its reach in the Americas by showcasing a large range of its casino management systems and products at Feria Americana De Juegos De Azar (FADJA) April 5-6 at the CORFERIAS International Business and Exhibition […]
Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Nevada casinos continue winning streak in February

Gaming wins continue for Nevada casinos in February, with revenues reaching past the $1 billion mark for the second month in a row—thanks to revellers visiting America’s playground to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Nevada casinos continue winning streak in FebruaryFigures released Wednesday by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) showed that state-wide gaming revenue hit $1.02 billion in February, a 7.7% increase from the same period in 2017. This is the first time that Nevada achieved a back-to-back billion-dollar performance since March and April 2008.

For the fiscal year beginning July 2017 until February 2018, Nevada’s “gaming win” has risen to $7.9 billion, a 2.3% increase from the close to $7.7 billion reported in the 2016-2017 period.

The Las Vegas Strip posted its first monthly gain since the October shooting, logging winnings of over $603 million for February—an 11.37% jump from the same period last year.

Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the Tax and License Division of NGCB, attributed February’s gaming wins to the “big baccarat win” on the Strip, which was up 82.5% to $79.7 million. In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Lawton said “this February was much stronger than last February due to Chinese New Year falling in January” in 2017.

Nevada sportsbooks’ stellar performance came to halt in February, with overall revenue down 48% to $10.7 million compared to the $20.7 million posted in February 2017. This, however, still makes it the 55th consecutive winning month for the state’s sportsbooks, which experienced its last losing month in July 2013.

Football wagering dropped 136.35% year-on-year to less than $2.5 million, but basketball wagering revenue inched 0.68% to reach $11.6 million. Sports parlay cards was down 58% to $449,000, while sports pari-mutuel dropped 71% to $4,000. Nevada’s “other” betting category was also down 7.57% to $1.39 million.

Statewide slots revenue posted a modest 4.17% increase to reach $605.58 million in February, while total games and tables were up 13.27% to $412.33 million. Several major tables, however, reported declines, including blackjack ($88 million, -17.22%), craps ($31.2 million, -12.33%), and roulette ($36.4 million, -5.55%).

Overall, the gaming regulator said the state collected close to $44.2 million in percentage fees based on the taxable revenues generated in February. This was a 14.99% drop from the prior year’s March period, when Nevada fee collections reached close to $52 million.

 

The NGCB, however, noted that the amount did not reflect the $8.75 million in transferable tax credits used in March or the total amount of tax credits taken fiscal-year-to-date, which amounted to $65.8 million.

The post Nevada casinos continue winning streak in February appeared first on CalvinAyre.com.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

World Casino News
Paddy Power Betfair appoints new CFO

Jonathan Hill (pictured), the current Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for insurance and tourism group Saga plc, has been appointed CFO for Paddy Power Betfair plc (PPB:London) to begin his fall, according to a Wednesday statement (pdf) from the Dublin, Ireland-headquartered bookmaking business. The appointment is on the heels of a previous announcement by the bookmaker’s […]
Casino News Daily
Is £1 Million Enough Punishment for SkyBet for Failing Self-Excluded Gamblers?

News exploded earlier today that Sky Betting and Gaming (SkyBet) has become the latest UK-facing operator to have been reprimanded by the Gambling Commission for social responsibility failures. One of UK’s largest gambling companies, formerly owned by broadcasting giant Sky, SkyBet was fined £1 million by the regulator for failing to prevent self-excluded customers from registering with its websites and other regulatory breaches.

SkyBet is being imposed a penalty from the UKGC at a time when the regulator is reviewing its existing license conditions and is gradually rolling out tougher ones for iGaming operators to follow and comply with.

Last summer, 888 Holdings was fined £7.8 million for similar responsible gambling breaches. And last month, William Hill received £6.2-million bill for what the Commission deemed poor anti-money laundering policies and player protection failures. While the scope of violations was different in each of the three cases, the fines imposed certainly raise the question whether the UKGC has gone too soft on SkyBet.

The Nature of SkyBet’s Failures

The UKGC found, after probing into the matter, that SkyBet breached the Commission’s codes and rules for the provision of gambling services in three different ways. In the first place, it became clear that 736 customers of SkyBet, who had self-excluded themselves, were able to open duplicate accounts with the operator and gamble via those in the period between November 2014 and November 2017.

In the second place, around 50,000 customers kept on receiving promotional materials by the operator even after self-exclusion. Self-excluded players and bettors were thus encouraged to gamble. And while they were presumably not able to reopen their accounts with SkyBet, people, some of whom may have been trying to fight problem gambling behavior, could have felt the urge to gamble somewhere else.

Last but not least, the UK Gambling Commission found that a total of 36,748 self-excluded customers did not have their account funds returned upon account closure.

SkyBet will thus have to pay £1,008,600, including £750,000 to responsible gambling charities. The remaining portion of its penalty would be split in the following way – £450,000 for allowing self-excluded customers to open duplicate accounts, £250,000 for sending self-excluded customers gambling-related promotional material, and £50,000 which the operator will have to return to players who had opted for self-exclusion.

Does the Penalty Match SkyBet’s Failures?

SkyBet’s breaches of its license terms eventually affected tens of thousands of self-excluded customers in one way or another and could have affected many more.

The reason why a person decides to self-exclude themselves from one gambling website or another is that they either feel to be close to developing some form of gambling addiction or have already become a gambling addict. What may seem to be a minor violation by an operator toward a self-excluded player could actually become a serious trigger for that same player to relapse into their risky gambling behavior. Operators need to be aware of that and to make sure that their customers are well-protected.

SkyBet was found to have generated gross gambling yield of £217,306 from the self-excluded players who were able to open new accounts with the operator. In comparison, 888 was fined £7.8 million partly for allowing players, who had self-excluded from its betting/casino/poker platform, to play on its bingo platform. Players were thus able to deposit over £3.5 million with the operator.

While £3.5 million is an enormous amount when compared to just over £200,000, it is important to note that in 888’s case self-excluded players were able to gamble within the period between October 2015 and September 2016. However, with SkyBet self-excluded customers opened and used accounts between November 2014 and November 2017 or for three years.

In 888’s case more than 7,000 customers were affected, while in SkyBet’s case there were just over 700 customers. Both operators failed self-excluded players in a very serious manner and fines were a must. However, the fact that it took SkyBet three years to solve an apparent issue with its self-exclusion system raises questions and doubts about the operator’s ability to prevent customers with problem gambling behavior from being able to gamble.

As already pointed out, SkyBet is one of largest UK-facing operators. And if an operator with extensive record in the online gambling field and with a large player base is unable to protect its customers, it certainly deserves more than a slap on the wrist, particularly when it takes so long to solve an issue that could put at risk thousands of people.

The post Is £1 Million Enough Punishment for SkyBet for Failing Self-Excluded Gamblers? appeared first on Casino News Daily.

World Casino News
Red Tiger Gaming releases new Esqueleto Mariachi slot game

Inspired by the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, Esqueleto Mariachi is a new online slot game just launched by top software developer Red Tiger Gaming. The new game can be enjoyed via desktop or mobile device, whisking players away to enjoy a fiesta featuring lively skeleton musicians. With 5 reels and 40 paylines, the […]

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Japanese gamblers face restrictions on casino visits

The Japanese have a saying, “If you do not enter the tiger’s cave, you will not catch its cub.” Simply put, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Japan is preparing to venture into the gambling world, with a lot to possibly gain. In making the necessary arrangements, regulators have taken a pragmatic approach to establishing gaming legislation, but one decision perhaps falls just outside that realm.

Japanese gamblers face restrictions on casino visitsRegulators voted on Tuesday to limit the amount of times gamblers can enter casinos weekly and monthly. The plan for Japanese residents, as set forth by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and agreed to by the Komeito Party (KP), would limit weekly visits to three and monthly visits to 10.

Although they agree on the number of visits, the two parties still disagree on the number of casinos to be allowed, as well as the price of admission. Until all points in the legislation are cleared up, the chances of gambling opportunities in the reserved country are slim. The LDP and the KP will have to reach an agreement prior to June 20, the date their current session ends. Only after finalizing the terms of the bill can they send it to the Diet, Japan’s legislature that consists of a House of Councilors and a House of Representatives.

The LDP wants to see a casino entrance fee of JPY5,000 ($48) per person for Japanese residents. This is in contrast to the JPY8,000 ($75) the KP recommends and puts Japanese casino entrance fees on par with those of Singapore.  Some government officials have proposed a much lower fee, at around JPY2,000 ($19), with free admission for foreigners. The fee debate continues.

Another point of contention centered on the number of casinos that would be authorized in the country. The KP wants to see, at most, three casinos, but the LDP is pushing for as many as five. Their proposal is based solely on the number of local governments that have shown interest in wanting a casino built in their territory. However, who wouldn’t want part of a multi-billion dollar industry to brighten their back yard?

Analysts predict that only three casinos would bring in almost $10 billion in annual net profit to the country. Several international companies have lined up to compete for one of the few licenses that will be issued, with the first casinos expected to be ready by around 2022.

The post Japanese gamblers face restrictions on casino visits appeared first on CalvinAyre.com.

World Casino News
Yggdrasil inks content deal with Stanleybet

Provider of superior online and mobile casino games, Yggdrasil Gaming, has inked a content deal with Liverpool-based operator and manager of sports betting shops, Stanleybet, which will see its wide range of titles in Italy. In addition to popular gaming content, Yggdrasil will also provide the operator with access to its social sharing tool, BRAG […]
Casino News Daily
Borgata Motion for Summary Judgment Denied in Latest Installment of Phil Ivey Edge-Sorting Saga

A US district judge denied Monday a request for summary judgment filed by Atlantic City’s Borgata Casino as the gambling venue seeks to sue card manufacturer Gemaco for knowingly supplying it with defective cards, Law360 reports.

The playing cards were used by famed poker pro Phil Ivey back in 2012 when the player won more than $9.6 million by playing baccarat at the Borgata with its fellow player Cheung Yin Sun. The Borgata has also been suing Ivey seeking to collect the aforementioned amount plus damages from him and his companion player.

Last summer, the popular Atlantic City Boardwalk casino filed a motion for summary judgment in its case against Gemaco. The gambling venue claimed that Gemaco had provided it with defective cards and that it had thus enabled Ivey and Sun to exploit the defects and generate large profits from the casino.

On Monday, US District Judge Noel L. Hillman denied the Borgata’s motion and partly granted Gemaco’s cross-motion for summary judgment, ruling that Ivey and Sun were the ones to blame for exploring and exploiting differences on the backs of the cards while playing baccarat at the casino. Judge Hillman went on to say that Gemaco was thus not “liable for any tort claims” by the Borgata.

The judge granted Gemaco cross-motion for summary judgment for the casino’s common law breach of contract claim, of implied warrant claim, and of common law negligence. The card manufacturer filed a request for cross-motion summary judgment last October, claiming that the Borgata had no actual proof that the cards were defective as it destroyed them.

The Atlantic City seeks to recoup the $9.6 million it lost to Ivey and Sun from both the two players and Gemaco.

Where Does the Legal Dispute Stem from?

Ivey and Sun visited the Borgata back in 2012 to play baccarat. The two players requested a private pit, a Mandarin-speaking dealer, and decks of purple Gemaco cards, among other things. They amassed winnings of more than $9.6 million over four casino visits.

The Borgata paid out the money but it later on came to its knowledge that the two players had used the controversial edge-sorting technique to win at the baccarat table. Generally speaking, Sun and Ivey opted for the purple Gemaco cards because they knew that these had tiny discrepancies on their backs that could be exploited by players to gain edge over the casino. That was exactly what Ivey and Sun, who is notorious for her edge-sorting skills, did at the casino.

Judge Hillman ruled in October 2016 that the technique itself did not equal to criminal deception or fraud. However, the judge concluded that the two players violated the New Jersey Casino Control Act by deploying edge-sorting at the Borgata. Ivey and Sun are seeking a final judgment in the case, that was originally opened in 2014, in order to be able to appeal the October 2016 ruling to the US Court of Appeals.

Late last year, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom ruled against Ivey in his lawsuit against Crockfords. The player sued the Mayfair casino for withholding the amount of £7.8 million he won in 2012 by playing punto banco. Once again accompanied by Sun, Ivey amassed the winnings by deploying edge-sorting. The casino eventually refused to pay out the money and found itself embroiled in a three-year legal fight that eventually concluded in December.

The post Borgata Motion for Summary Judgment Denied in Latest Installment of Phil Ivey Edge-Sorting Saga appeared first on Casino News Daily.

Monday, March 26, 2018

World Casino News
Tigre De Cristal’s Phase II plans to focus on non-gaming amenities

As expected, the planning stage of the second phase of the Tigre de Cristal in the Primorsky Integrated Entertainment Zone (IEZ) outside of Vladivostok, Russia is now underway and will reportedly focus on non-gaming facilities. The purpose of a recent meeting between the management of the Primorsky Krai Development Corporation (JSC), the government-owned firm responsible for overseeing the […]
World Casino News
Unibet Open announces two new partnerships

Professional as well as recreational poker players will be glad to hear that the Unibet Open has recently signed two new partnerships to provide even more great game play options, ensuring the best live poker festivals for everyone. Unibet Open has partnered with the Cash Game Festival and the Unibet Deepstack Open, to provide top […]
Casino News Daily
New Allegations Suggest Crown Fabricated Slot Machine Trial Story to Avoid Penalties

Pressure on Crown Resorts has grown as a new wave of evidence shows that the casino operator might have only stopped what it previously described as a “trial” of removing betting options on slot machines after complaints from patrons.

A whistle-blower has told local news outlet ABC News that the major company, which operates two casino resorts in Melbourne and Perth and is building a third one in Sydney, felt forced to restore the normal operations of slot machines at its Melbourne property after customers at the casino had spotted that their betting options had been reduced significantly and had filed complaints.

Last fall, the Australian casino operator found itself embroiled in a scandal that could cost it its license in the state of Victoria. Back in October, independent MP Andrew Wilkie tabled evidence from three whistle-blowers who claimed that Crown had tampered with 17 of all 2,628 slot machines (or pokies as they are known in Australia) at its Melbourne casino, significantly reducing patrons’ wagering options and chances to win.

The chief allegation against the operator was that it has instructed staff to remove certain buttons on 17 slot machines. The gaming devices had thus been modified in a manner that had maximized profits for the casino and had reduced players’ wagering options. Patrons had thus been forced to wager the highest bet line on the affected machines, whistle-blowers had explained.

Separate allegations by the unnamed individuals also suggested that Crown had knowingly allowed select casino customers to dodge anti-money laundering regulations.

Crown’s Response and the New Wave of Allegations

Crown rejected all allegations back in October, but eventually admitted to removing buttons on 17 gaming machines between March and April 2017. The operator said in a March 5 statement to the Australian Stock Exchange that the “blanking” of buttons was part of a trial it had conducted at its Melbourne casino.

However, a whistle-blower who is employed at the casino company told ABC that the trial claims were “farcical”. He further pointed out that Crown only came up with the trial story after regulatory pressure began bearing down on its profitability and general performance.

The unnamed Crown employee went on to say that no trial had been running on the casino floor and what the operator had basically tried to do had been to see how much it could “rip people off”.

Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation had opened investigation into the allegations even before those were tabled in the Parliament. Crown could have its license from the regulator revoked if the allegations prove true.

The Commission has been presented with the latest whistle-blower evidence. The regulatory body told ABC that it is aware of the new claims and that these are now part of the ongoing investigation.

The post New Allegations Suggest Crown Fabricated Slot Machine Trial Story to Avoid Penalties appeared first on Casino News Daily.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

World Casino News
NetEnt AB goes back in time with new Hotline video slot

After unveiling its Asgardian Stones title late last month, online casino games innovator NetEnt AB has now revealed that it went back in time for the theme of its latest video slot innovation, Hotline. Stockholm-listed NetEnt AB described Hotline as a five-reel video slot that is the first to offer ‘a unique multi-level bonus bet […]
Casino News Daily
Top Philippine Architect Says Boracay Is the “Wrong Place” for Casino Resort

The proposed construction of a $500-million integrated resort on Boracay could damage the quality of the sand on the island, a top urban planner told local media.

According to Felino Palafox, a leading Philippine architect and urban planner, developers should not be allowed to build on the island’s beaches as this would have a negative environmental impact. Mr. Palafox spoke with local news channel ANC on Saturday.

Last week, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. awarded a provisional license to Macau-based casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group and its Philippine partner Leisure and Resorts World Corp. to build and operate a $500-million casino resort on Boracay.

Construction on the complex is set to begin in 2019 and to be completed over the next three years. Leisure and Resorts has recently secured a 23-hectare site on Boracay where its property will be built.

While the resort is expected to bring wealthy high roller players from the Asia-Pacific region and to thus boost the island’s already booming tourism sector, the proposal was not received very well by a number of parties, including tourism stakeholders and environmental groups.

During his recent interview, Mr. Palafox said that Galaxy’s project might be involving the “wrong land use at the wrong place at the wrong time”.

The locally established Boracay Foundation has also joined the casino resort debate recently, arguing that the island is well-known among tourists for its white sand beaches, water attraction, and bright nightlife scene, and these are enough to support and grow its tourism industry. The environmental group has added that the island does not need to promote itself as a gambling destination and that a casino would only harm its social environment.

News about the approval of the casino resort plan emerged as Boracay became the subject of heavy criticism from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Imminent Closure of the Island

President Duterte has been firing at the way the major tourism hub’s environmental issues have been handled since last month. The Philippines’ top official called the island a “cesspool” due to its lack of a properly functioning sewerage system and threatened to blow up every structure built on the island without the necessary permission.

After probing the island’s environmental situation, a specially assembled unit has recently recommended its closure for a period of between six months and a year, during which an environmental cleanup would be carried out.

It was confirmed earlier this week that the island would be closed for tourism for six months. In a letter to President Duterte, three government agencies recommended that the island be shuttered starting April 26. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Department of Tourism wrote in their joint letter that the proposed date would prevent Labor Day parties on the island on May 1. However, the island would still be able to welcome tourists that have long planned and made the necessary arrangements to spend the Holy Week break there.

The final decision is in the hands of President Duterte and it is yet to be seen whether he would approve the proposal of the three departments or would pick another date for the island’s imminent closure.

The post Top Philippine Architect Says Boracay Is the “Wrong Place” for Casino Resort appeared first on Casino News Daily.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

World Casino News
Golden Entertainment Incorporated inks estate-wide Synkros deal

American casino operator Golden Entertainment Incorporated has announced the signing of an agreement that will see it replace the existing management systems at four recently-acquired locations with the Synkros innovation from gaming machine innovator Konami Gaming Incorporated. Golden Entertainment Incorporated revealed that the coming months will see Synkros rolled out at its Aquarius Casino Resort […]
Casino News Daily
Enhanced Rules for Gambling Ads on British TV to Come Into Force in Mid-2018

Gambling ads shown on UK television should feature responsible gambling messages throughout their duration from the end of June 2018. The new requirement was introduced on Friday by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) as the latest enhancement to its Code for Socially Responsible Gambling Advertising (Industry Code).

UK-facing gambling companies will thus be required to add a responsible gambling message or a reference to www.begambleaware.org to every gambling-related commercial on UK television and to make sure that the message is legible and runs throughout the length of the clip.

Established in 2014, IGRG is currently comprised of the Association of British Bookmakers, BACTA, the National Casino Forum, the Bingo Association, and the Remote Gambling Association. All of the aforementioned are trade bodies that represent the UK gambling industry and its various sectors.

IGRG itself through its Industry Code aims to promote and encourage the provision of different gambling services in a socially responsible manner.

The introduction of the new TV advertising requirement came after a broader review of the UK Government into gambling companies advertising activity found that the www.begambleaware.org reference and other responsible gambling messages featured as part of adverts did not appear on screen long enough to be easily spotted by viewers.

The new advertising guidelines are included in the fourth edition of the Industry Code. The Code was first introduced in 2007 when the Gambling Act 2005 came into force. It was reviewed in 2016 and 2017. IGRG said in a Friday statement that it is now committed to reviewing the Code on an annual basis so that emerging issues are resolved in a timely manner.

Gambling Ads on UK Television

Television has long been among the most popular mediums among gambling operators to advertize their services on. According to a 2016 report by measurement firm Nielsen, UK-facing gambling companies spent £456 million to advertize on British television in the period between 2012 and 2015.

While a well-established watershed policy prevents gambling adverts from being shown before 9 pm, there are certain exceptions to the general rule. Under UK advertising regulations, gambling-related advertising content can be shown during live broadcasts of sports events throughout the day.

Anti-gambling campaigners have long been calling for an overall pre-watershed ban on gambling TV ads, citing concerns that these trivialize gambling to children and overexpose vulnerable people to the risks gambling activities may create.

A recent report by the UK Gambling Commission indicated that while people, and children in particular, may not be watching television as they used to, gambling ads on TV are still reaching young and vulnerable members of the population. According to the report’s findings, 80% of all children aged 11 to 16 had seen gambling adverts on television and about 39% had seen these at least once a week.

The post Enhanced Rules for Gambling Ads on British TV to Come Into Force in Mid-2018 appeared first on Casino News Daily.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Casino News Daily
Belgium’s Constitutional Court Restores VAT Exemption on Online Gambling Services

The Constitutional Court of Belgium annulled on Thursday a 2016 constitutional amendment under which online gambling operators were required to pay a 21% value-added tax on their Belgian operations.

Belgium regulated its online gambling market in early 2010 when amendments to the Gaming and Betting Act of 1999 were published in the Belgian Official Gazette. The amendments took effect on January 1, 2011 to allow international gambling operators to apply for licenses from the Belgian Gaming Commission and operate in a regulated environment.

In 2016, the Belgian Finance Ministry successfully advanced a bill that proposed for online gambling services to become taxable under the country’s VAT laws. The new taxation regime came into force on August 1, 2016.

Gaming and betting transactions are exempt from VAT in the most general case. The Belgian government justified its decision to change the status quo in 2016 with the need for new revenue sources and for a major boost to the country’s tax income. It was estimated that the termination of gambling and betting companies’ VAT exemption could generate the additional amount of €39 million for Belgium’s coffers.

Malta-headquartered gambling operator Kindred Group (previously Unibet Group) was among the first to comment on the latest tax developments in Belgium and the Constitutional Court decision. The company has previously challenged the introduction of VAT on online gambling operations, slamming it as “unfair” and arguing that it undermined “policy objectives” and lowered channelization by affecting consumer protection.

In a statement from earlier today, Kindred went on to say:

The ruling also points out the inherent incompatibility between consumer protection and tax revenue objectives, especially when products (lotteries vs other products) and channels (retail vs online) are treated differently.

Gambling Ads Crackdown

The Thursday ruling was certainly a big victory for Belgium-facing online gaming and betting operators. However, the country’s gambling industry suffered a heavy blow last fall, when it became known that the Belgian Chamber of Representatives has approved a proposal for the introduction of a stricter gambling advertising code.

The proposal first emerged last summer when it was tabled by Koen Geens, a Christian Democrat MP from Belgium’s Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams party. Mr. Geens criticized heavily the increased exposure of gambling services to vulnerable people, including children, through advertising and presented what he believed would be a good solution to the issue.

Mr. Geens’ plan included an outright ban on gambling-related ads during sports events broadcasts and the introduction of an 8 pm watershed. The politician and his party also called for the number of ads by each individual operator to be limited and for new measures tackling problem gambling and wider awareness of gambling-related risks to be introduced. The move was supported by the Belgian Gaming Commission.

The post Belgium’s Constitutional Court Restores VAT Exemption on Online Gambling Services appeared first on Casino News Daily.

Casino – CalvinAyre.com
IGT, Boyd launch VR archery tournaments at Vegas casino

boyd-igt-virtual-reality-vegas-casinoCasino operator Boyd Gaming and gaming supplier International Game Technology (IGT) aren’t giving up on bringing virtual reality (VR) technology to America’s casino gaming floors.

Boyd’s Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas recently announced the launch of new daily VR archery tournaments at the property’s Virtual Zone, which incorporates IGT’s VR platform and HTC Vive headset technology.

The Virtual Zone tournaments at the Orleans involve two archery games, SiegeVR and ArcheryVR, both of which involve players defending a castle by shooting virtual arrows at the hordes of aggressors attempting to storm the gates for the sake of (presumably) looting, pillaging and other socially frowned-upon activities.

The SiegeVR tournaments involve two-person teams competing against each other, with entry fees of $30 per team. Scoring is calculated by how many baddies your team knocks off with its arrows, and the top daily score wins $300 in ‘Slot Dollars’, which are only valid for 48 hours after they’ve been awarded.

For friendless archers, the single-player ArcheryVR tournaments cost $10 per person, with daily top scorer winning $125 in Slot Dollars. Regardless of which tournament style you fancy, your entry fee has to be in cash, and you also have to belong to Boyd’s B Connected rewards program.

Notably, the fine print indicates that Boyd has the right to turf so-called ‘advantage players,’ so if you have any Olympic gold medals for archery hanging in your closet at home, you’d be well advised to keep that info to yourself (and pretend to miss now and then).

The launch marks not only Boyd’s first VR entertainment offering but also the first time IGT’s VR platform has appeared on a casino gaming floor. IGT chief commercial officer Nick Khin said the VR platform delivers “an entertainment experience unlike anything previously offered on casino floors.”

Perhaps, but the millennials that habituate Vegas nightspots have so far proven relatively disinterested in some of the more innovative offerings that were specifically designed to entice them onto the casino gaming floor. The much-ballyhooed launch of so-called skill-based games have so far generated more headlines than revenue.

IGT announced its partnership with HTC Vive earlier this week, and HTC Vive’s VP of global content Joel Breton claimed VR tech “has proven to be a consistent traffic generator in entertainment venues.” VIVE Studios has already utilized IGT’s software development kit to develop a tournament-ready casino version of its Arcade Saga game. All that’s left now is the Field of Dreams question: we’ve built it, now will they come?

The post IGT, Boyd launch VR archery tournaments at Vegas casino appeared first on CalvinAyre.com.

World Casino News
Scientific Games launches Jin Ji Bao Xi™

After successfully launching Duo Fu Duo Cai in Macau, Scientific Games Corporation is ready to release another new title. The Asian linked progressive Jin Ji Bao Xi™ has been installed for the first time ever in Macau, set to launch in the Philippines and Cambodia in the near future. The new game is the latest […]
Casino News Daily
UK Court of Appeal Rejects Ladbrokes Appeal in HMRC Tax Battle

The UK Court of Appeal rejected an appeal lodged by Ladbrokes in relation to the gambling operator’s decade-long £71-million tax avoidance battle with HM Revenue and Customs, City A.M. reports.

The dispute relates to a 2008 tax scheme deployed by Ladbrokes and accountancy firm Deloitte that exploited a legal loophole to avoid a higher corporate tax bill. The loophole was closed by the UK Government the same year.

Back then, Delloite advised several of its clients, Ladbrokes included, to establish “transacting subsidiaries” within their groups and to transfer corporate tax charges into these. The larger groups thus created just a single unit that was generating losses.

In Ladbrokes’ case, the high street bookmaker merged two of its companies – Travel Document Service and Ladbrokes International, into one subsidiary. The arrangement involved an “artificially manufactured fall in the value of shares” in one of the companies to create a loss in the other company for tax avoidance purposes. Ladbrokes was found to have not suffered actual economic loss following the move.

The dispute between Ladbrokes and HMRC began with the latter slamming the gambling operator for knowingly entering the arrangement and exploiting a loophole to renege tax duties. The UK Government department also pointed out that nine UK corporations that had deployed Deloitte’s scheme had conceded to have done wrong and had paid the tax owed, urging Ladbrokes to follow suit.

The operator admitted back then that it did aim to avoid taxes and it did not generate losses in 2008, but maintained that its set-up did not fall within the remit of HMRC’s rules against tax avoidance at the time.

The bookmaker eventually paid the amount of £71 million in taxes but later on sought to recoup the sum.

Tribunal Court’s Ruling

The UK Tribunal Court sided with HMRC last February, ruling that Ladbrokes had been well-aware of the fact that it had exploited a tax loophole to avoid tax burden. The bookmaker was later on allowed to appeal the Tribunal Court’s ruling in the UK Court of Appeal.

The UK’s second highest law court rejected the major gambling operator’s appeal and bid to rebate the amount of £71 million it had to pay in taxes.

News about Ladbrokes losing its tax appeal case came shortly after the Competition and Markets Authority cleared the operator’s proposed takeover by Isle of Man-based online gambling company GVC Holdings.

GVC is set to acquire Ladbrokes Coral for up to £4 billion to create one of the world’s largest gambling companies. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of this year’s first half. This would be the second consolidation move undertaken by Ladbrokes Coral in as many years. The Ladbrokes Coral group was created back in 2016 through the merger of Ladbrokes and Coral. The company currently operates the largest chain of betting shops across the UK.

The post UK Court of Appeal Rejects Ladbrokes Appeal in HMRC Tax Battle appeared first on Casino News Daily.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Japanese regulators lower casino chip exchange reporting requirements

Governments around the globe have taken a serious interest in trying to curtail the amount of money laundering that is supposedly plaguing the gaming industry. Canada and British Columbia have been busily enacting legislation to prevent repeats of the negative publicity surrounding questionable activity at the River Rock Casino, and the U.S., the UK and Australia have also been exploring changes in policies to help clean up the system. Japan is now joining the fight, and recently ordered changes in reporting guidelines at casinos in the country.

Japanese regulators lower casino chip exchange reporting requirementsOperators of future casinos in Japan will be obligated to report customers who exchange chips worth $9,500 (¥1 million) or more. Regulators are responding to concerns that the casinos will be havens for the exchange of “dirty money” that is used for money laundering or financing terrorism. The new casinos are slated to be opened in integrated resorts in an effort to bring in more international tourism to the island nation.

Anyone who buys or cashes chips worth $9,500 or more will have to provide their name, address and birth date to casino operators. This information will then be turned over to a casino management committee, which will be created at a later date by the government. That entity will catalog the data and investigate any instances that raise flags, such as repeated high-dollar exchanges.

Japan isn’t the first country to introduce these money-laundering countermeasures. In the U.S., Nevada regulators require that casinos follow the same guidelines, and in Singapore the amount is less, at roughly $7,600. Macau has also placed restrictions on exchanges, with Large-Amount Transaction Reports being required for exchanges by junkets of more than around $62,000. Suspicious Transaction Reports are more vague, and are required for any transaction that is thought to be associated with money laundering.

Money laundering is big business. In 2012, a report by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that money-laundering activities amounted to as much as $3.6 trillion per year. That report brought about changes to multiple industries, including gambling, corporate reporting and banking.

Japan is set to re-enter the gambling market with the new casinos. Almost all forms of gambling, except pachinko and horseracing, have been prohibited. However, a change of heart by the Japanese parliament has opened the doors for casinos to enter the country. If everything goes according to plan, Japan anticipates an increase in tourism that jumps by 16 million visitors by the year 2020, up from the 24 million recorded in 2016.

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