Monday, April 30, 2018

Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Galaxy’s $500-million Boracay casino on hold

Galaxy executives clearly have a monumental task in front of them. They want – still – to try and convince Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte that Boracay is the perfect spot for its $500-million casino resort. Duterte has repeatedly called the once-popular tourist destination a “cesspool,” ordering it closed for six months. He has also gone so far as to declare, “There will never be [a casino in Boracay].”

Galaxy's $500-million Boracay casino on holdIt had previously been announced that the project was being pulled completely, but now it is simply “on hold” according to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR), which oversees gaming regulations in the country. Galaxy was already given a provisional license for the casino by PAGCOR, but once President Duterte took his stance on Boracay, everything halted. In an interview with Reuters, PAGCOR’s president, Alfredo Lim, said, “They (Galaxy) have to probably explain to the president the advantages and that they will comply with the environmental laws.”

President Duterte has apparently decided that gambling is evil, and has gone so far as to say that he wouldn’t approve any casino project in the country. Galaxy’s chairman, Lui Che Woo, along with the director of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and other representatives recently met with Duterte to try and convince him of the benefits of the entertainment complex Given Duterte’s propensity for stubbornness, that meeting probably didn’t go as the casino backers had planned.

At the beginning of the month, Duterte announced the closure of Boracay Island for a “six-month rehabilitation project” beginning on April 26. The result is the possibility of about 30,000 employees in tourist-related positions losing their jobs. However, Duterte has gone further, stating that he plans on giving the land to the farmers following the end of the rehabilitation period.

The Galaxy integrated casino project, if it’s allowed to proceed, would supposedly generate $100 million in revenue annually for the company. The company had already acquired the land and had begun working on the final designs before the axe dropped, with Duterte stating that gambling has “deleterious effects” on gamblers.

On a positive note, Duterte announced on April 29 that the six-month closure could be reduced. He said that he will defer the decision to his Cabinet, explaining, “I do not interfere in the work of the Cabinet members.” If Boracay is indeed closed for six months, it could mean the loss of $38.72 million in revenue to the region.

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Casino News Daily
Steve O’Dwyer Takes Down Another 50K High Roller at EPT Monte Carlo

Popular poker pro Steve O’Dwyer scooped another title from a PokerStars-branded High Roller last night at the Monte-Carlo Casino during the ongoing EPT festival. The player emerged victorious over a packed field of fellow high roller specialists to collect the tournament trophy and €676,300.

O’Dwyer played the €50,000 Single-Day High Roller. The event took place at the Salle des Americas poker room at the host venue on Sunday. It attracted 30 unique participants and 11 re-entries. O’Dwyer himself did not need to shoot a second bullet as he navigated through the event’s field beautifully to collect the largest payout.

Speaking of money, the tournament’s field created a prize pool of €1,988,910, which was distributed between the top six finishers.

EPT Monte Carlo Super High Roller champ Sam Greenwood became the unfortunate bubble boy in the €50,000 buy-in tournament. Germany’s Rainer Kempe was the first to fall into the money. The player’s share of the prize pool totaled €139,200.

Daniel Dvoress and Justin Bonomo were the next to exit the tournament, cashing €179,000 and €228,700, respectively. That was a second High Roller final table for Bonomo in just as many days as the player took part in the Super High Roller the previous day to finish fifth for €401,000. Steffen Sontheimer busted in third place, good for €467,410. His elimination set the heads-up match between O’Dwyer and Nick Petrangelo.

Two-Handed Action

It was in fact Petrangelo who eliminated Sontheimer to scoop his chips and the chip lead. He had 2.1 million at the start of heads-up to O’Dwyer’s 1.8 million. It took an hour before the name of the champion was determined.

And it was really all decided in the final two hands of play. Those two hands helped O’Dwyer gain control over the majority of chips in play and eliminate his final opponent. On what turned out to be the final hand dealt in the tournament, Petrangelo went all-in for his last chips and O’Dwyer called.

Petrangelo had [Qh][5c] at that point to clash against his opponent’s [Jh][Kd]. The [3c][2d][Qd][Ks][10s] ran out on the board to seal it for O’Dwyer. Petrangelo left second place for €467,410 of the prize pool.

O’Dwyer’s latest cash helped him boost his live tournament earnings to over $22.1 million. It is important to note that back in January O’Dwyer won another 50K High Roller. The player topped the elite field of the PCA $50,000 High Roller to collect $769,500. Back in January 2016, he won that same event for $945,495. And in December 2015, O’Dwyer captured the EPT Prague €50,000 Super High Roller title for €746,543. These are just a few of the countless high roller events the player has excelled in over the past several years to establish himself as one of the most seasoned and accomplished high roller players in contemporary live poker.

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Casino News Daily
Ocean Resort Casino Owner Promises Difference-Making Experience upon Property’s Reopening

Days after reports emerged that Ocean Resort Casino, formerly Revel, will open doors on June 28, the property’s owner, Bruce Deifik, revealed important details about their plans of how to prevent it from failure.

The former Revel launched in 2012 to much fanfare, but survived in the highly competitive East Coast casino landscape for just over two years. The property was shuttered in 2014 to become one of four Atlantic City Boardwalk casino properties to close doors that year.

Revel was purchased by Florida developer Glenn Straub in 2015. The businessman announced back then plans to reopen it as a casino resort but missed several self-imposed deadlines, while bickering with the owners of the power plant that serviced the property and with city officials and casino regulators over whether he needed a casino license or not.

Mr. Straub eventually accepted a $200-million offer from Mr. Deifik late last year after previously being approached by several other interested parties with similar bids. It became known earlier this year that the property will reopen doors as Ocean Resort Casino sometime this summer.

A Difference Maker

According to reports from local news outlets, the property might open on June 28, along with Hard Rock’s redesigned and rebranded Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, or the former Trump Taj Mahal. In his conversation with The Associated Press, Mr. Deifik did not confirm those reports. However, it became clear that the property is still targeting a summer 2018 opening, just as previously announced.

Mr. Deifik said that they have been paying close attention to what people have to say about Revel, both positive and negative and transfer that into their work on turning Ocean Resort Casino into an attractive destination. Listening to what people say and treating them with respect, Mr. Deifik believes, will be the difference-maker.

The property’s new owner will look to learn from mistakes and to broaden Ocean Resort Casino’s accessibility to different groups of visitors. For instance, there will no longer be a two-night stay requirement, a wall that previously blocked access to the casino floor from Atlantic City’s Boardwalk will be replaced by stairs that will welcome foot traffic, and there will be more facilities dedicated to children.

Customers of the former Revel have said that they felt unwelcome there and that higher-end visitors and guests were seemingly treated with more respect. Mr. Deifik said that customers and gamblers of all levels will be welcome to Ocean Resort Casino.

There were previous complaints that smoking patrons felt unwelcome at Revel as they were not able to smoke at the property. Mr. Deifik said that while he is not a smoker himself, he understands that group of customers deserves to be treated respectfully and that it will be welcome at Ocean Resort Casino, once it opens doors this summer.

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Casino – CalvinAyre.com
$400-million casino coming to Costa Rica

Costa Rica is preparing to get a new casino. The $400-million Casino City Caribe will be built in Moín on the country’s Caribbean coast, with construction beginning early next year, The Costa Rica Star reported. There will be several phases of construction before the entire project is complete in 2027.

$400-million casino coming to Costa RicaThe project will offer three different casinos and three hotels with a total of 264 rooms. There will also be 219 apartments, two convention centers, a business center, a spa and wellness center and additional recreational facilities. It will have access to the beach, as well as a marina and a heliport.

Casino City Caribe is still in development, but has acquired the necessary support needed to proceed. The project was designed by the architecture firm Patti Rao Project out of Vancouver, Canada. It has reportedly already received approval by the Ministry of Environment, the Costa Rica Tourism Board (CRTB) and the municipality of Matina, where Moín is located.

The first phase of the project is expected to generate about 150 new jobs for the region. When construction is complete and all facilities are open, it will reportedly provide employment to around 1,500 people. There was no indication of how long each phase would take to complete.

Moín, lies close to the Caribbean port city of Limón, a multicultural community composed of individuals of mostly Italian, Chinese and Jamaican origin who were brought in to work on the country’s railroad project in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Until 1948, Costa Rica didn’t recognize Afro-Caribbean people as citizens and they were not allowed to leave the province of Limón.

Both Moín and Limón have port terminals and are responsible for the bulk of the transoceanic trade in and out of the country. Combined, they account for 80% of Costa Rica’s import and export traffic.

Almost 3 million tourists visited Costa Rica in 2017, according to the CRTB, with just under 50% coming from North America. Already in 2018, tourist numbers look to be improving, as there was an increase of 6% in tourism during the first quarter of the year compared to the first quarter of 2017. North American tourism to the country increased by 11.4%, while European tourism jumped by 14.2%.

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World Casino News
Janis Laganovskis to speak at upcoming Mare Balticum Gaming Summit

After announcing the first lineup of speakers back in February, organizers of the Mare Balticum Gaming Summit have announced that four regulators will be present during the event to provide briefings and official gaming numbers from the Danish, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuanian markets. Each market will have panel discussions on the schedule with Janis Laganovskis […]
Casino News Daily
Sam Greenwood Takes Down EPT Monte Carlo €100,000 Super High Roller

Canadian poker pro Sam Greenwood was the first player to register into the 2018 EPT Monte Carlo €100,000 Super High Roller event and, in the early hours of Sunday, he became the last man standing after besting a field of 30 of the world’s best high rollers.

Greenwood collected €1.52 million after a lengthy final day of play, which included an action-packed heads-up battle against Germany’s Christoph Vogelsang. The German received €1.046 million for his runner-up finish.

It was in fact Vogelsang who led the final six players into Day 3 of the Super High Roller tournament. He had a massive chip lead over the rest of his opponents, but it should be said that all six survivors were running quite deep at the start of the day.

The first elimination of the day occurred quite quickly. Isaac Haxton fell out in sixth place, after clashing against Vogelsang. The player collected €313,000 for his performance.

It then took hours before another player left the final table. The remaining survivors were all careful during those several hours, playing small pots and trying not to get themselves into trouble. Justin Bonomo, who was vying for his second EPT Monte Carlo Super High Roller title was the next to leave, good for €401,000.

Bonomo was followed by the other former EPT Monte Carlo Super High Roller champion at the final table, Germany’s Ole Schemion. His share of the prize pool totaled €513,000. The elimination of recreational player and businessman Ali Reza Fatehi in third place marked the beginning of the heads-up match. Fatehi meanwhile scooped €669,920 from the tournament.

Greenwood vs. Vogelsang

An action-packed four-handed play which involved all four players taking the lead at some point was followed by an even more exciting heads-up duel. The match began with Greenwood holding 7.61 million in chips to Vogelsang’s 3.89 million.

However, the German spotted an opportunity to even and then take the lead which he played beautifully. At one point, Vogelsang was just a river card away from the title, but that river card went Greenwood’s way to save him from busting out in second place.

It was a lengthy heads-up battle which extended into the early hours of Sunday. It was half an hour past midnight when the job was finally done and the EPT Monte Carlo Super High Roller had its new champion.

On what turned out to be the final hand in play, Vogelsang’s [Ah][5h] clashed against Greenwood’s [Ks][Jc]. A [Js] on the flop and a [Jd] on the river sealed it for the Canadian player. Vogelsang received €1.046 million for his excellent performance and deep run.

Last night’s victory marked Greenwood’s largest live tournament win. It is also interesting to note that the Canadian player came into the EPT Monte Carlo festival fresh from two tournament wins earlier in April. The player first topped the field of the partypoker Millions Grand Final Barcelona €50,000 Super High Roller for €1 million in prize money and then won the WPT Amsterdam €6,000 High Roller for €125,785.

Including his latest in-the-money finish from last night, Greenwood’s live tournament winnings currently exceed $11 million.

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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Casino News Daily
Vogelsang Heads Final Table, Schemion and Bonomo Eye Second EPT Monte Carlo Super High Roller Title

The EPT Monte Carlo is among the most exciting festivals on the poker calendar. This year the excitement is doubled as the festival is making its comeback under the EPT brand after a two-year hiatus.

And the highest buy-in event on what is currently officially running as the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo Casino EPT is under way at the host venue. The €100,000 Super High Roller has always drawn poker’s finest talent and this year makes no difference.

Day 2 of the major event was played on Friday. It started off with 24 players, including Orpen Kisacikoglu and Daniel Dvoress who re-bought into the tournament shortly before the beginning of the second day of play. This year’s EPT Monte Carlo Super High Roller attracted a field of 46 entries, including 16 re-entries, to create a prize pool of €4,462,920. The top six places are paid, min-cash is worth €313,000. Aside from the very prestigious title of a Super High Roller victor, the winner will also receive a first-place prize of €1,520,000.

It was a rather short day at the host casino on Friday. Half of the 24 players who entered Day 2 of the Super High Roller were eliminated within the first four hours of action. Play lasted until the final six players were determined. Mikita Badziakouski, who bagged the largest stack into Day 2 and thrived for a big part of the day, eventually became the unfortunate bubble boy. He was knocked out in seventh place by German poker pro Christoph Vogelsang. The latter thus cemented his position as the overnight chip leader.

Aiming for Another Big Title

Vogelsang has recorded more than $15 million in live tournament earnings since October 2013, when he cashed for the first time in a live tournament event. Last year, the young German took down the highly competitive field of the $300,000 Aria Super High Roller Bowl for a first-place prize of $6 million. It is also important to note that back in 2014, he finished third in the $1,000,000 Big One for ONE DROP, leaving it to Dan Colman and Daniel Negreanu to square off for the title. Vogelsang collected $4,480,001 for his deep run in that event.

The player now has the chance to win big on European soil. Vogelsang ran quite well during Day 2 of the Super High Roller. The player emerged as the chip leader at some point in play to become the first to crack the 2 million mark. He then lost some of his momentum to regain it towards the end of the day and become the first and only player to crack the 3 million mark.

Vogelsang is thus leading the pack of six Super High Roller finalists into the final day of play with a stack of 3.02 million, well ahead of Sam Greenwood, who bagged the second largest stack last night (2.065 million) and Isaac Haxton (1.68 million), who rounded out the top three stacks.

Ali Reza Fatehi (1.84 million), Ole Schemion (1.49 million), and Justin Bonomo (1.405 million) are the other three players who are still in contention for the title and the first-place prize. It is important to note that Schemion and Bonomo are former EPT Monte Carlo Super High Roller winners.

Schemion won his title in 2016 for €1,597,800, while Bonomo became a Super High Roller champion back in 2012 for €1,640,000.

Super High Roller Action is set to resume at the host venue today at noon local time. The remaining contenders will play down to a champion.

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Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Wynn Resorts strips Wynn name from Boston Harbor project

wynn-resorts-encore-boston-harbor-casinoCasino operator Wynn Resorts is renaming its half-finished Massachusetts casino project to further distance itself from its former chairman’s sexual harassment allegations.

On Friday, Wynn CEO Steve Maddox met with members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) to discuss removing Wynn Resorts founder Steve Wynn’s name from the gaming license of the $2.4b Wynn Boston Harbor resort casino project in Everett, just north of Boston, which is scheduled to open in June 2019.

Wynn Resorts suggested in March that a rebrand of the property was likely. At Friday’s hearing, Maddox announced that the property would now be known as Encore Boston Harbor. Encore is the name of a resort property that opened in 2008 as the second phase of the Wynn Las Vegas resort.

Maddox told the MGC members that while “the Wynn brand is strong,’ he also understood “the cultural sensitivity” surrounding the numerous harassment allegations brought against Steve Wynn this year by female staff members.

Steve resigned in February and has sold off his entire holdings in the casino company. Maddox told the MGC that the company now had “no business association with Steve Wynn,” yet this separation, whether in terms of business and branding, may not be enough to ensure the company retains control over the Everett project.

The MGC hope to make a ruling on removing Steve’s name from the gaming license next week, but that’s a separate issue from the ongoing probe the MGC is conducting into how much Wynn’s senior management knew about the allegations against their former leader. Should the MGC not like what its probe uncovers, it could declare Wynn Resorts unsuitable to operate gaming in Massachusetts.

Should that worst-case scenario play out, it’s unknown who might take over the unfinished Everett project. On Thursday, rival MGM Resorts, which is opening its own Massachusetts casino this August, played down reports that it was planning on swapping projects, insisting it was committed to its own MGM Springfield project.

The Mohegan Tribe, whose casino properties include the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and which unsuccessfully vied for the sole Boston-area casino license that Wynn received, told The Day that it remained interested in setting up shop in Boston, should that sole license go back on the market.

However, the MMCT Joint Venture between the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation that is building a casino in northern Connecticut close to MGM Springfield, shot down media reports that it would be interested in taking over the Springfield property should MGM take over the Everett project. An MMCT spokesperson called such reports “rumor mill trash.”

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World Casino News
Wynn Resorts to rename Boston casino project

In an effort to further distance itself from former Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn, the Las Vegas-based company that bears his name will reportedly rebrand its $2.5 billion under-construction property in Everett, Massachusetts as Encore Boston Harbor. The name is taken from Wynn Resorts Limited’s Encore-branded gaming facilities it owns in Las Vegas and Macau. […]
World Casino News
Crown Resorts Limited fined for slot tampering in Melbourne

In Australia, casino operator Crown Resorts Limited has reportedly been fined AU$300,000 ($225,000) by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation after it was found to have contravened the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 at its Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex. According to a report from The Guardian newspaper, the firm was penalized after being […]

Friday, April 27, 2018

Casino News Daily
Construction of $400-Million Costa Rica Casino Resort to Begin Next Year

Construction work on a $400-million hotel and casino resort in Costa Rica is expected to begin in early 2019, after the project has received the necessary approval from the host municipality and tourism regulators, local news outlet The Costa Rica Star reports.

The property will be located in the village of Moín, in the Limón Province. It will operate as Casino City Caribe. Architecture firm Patti Rao Project will carry out the project. The company is led by Vancouver, Canada-based architect Patti Rao.

Mr. Rao told local media that they have selected Moín as the preferred location of their resort due to the untapped tourism potential of the area and their partners’ interest in investing in ecotourism projects. The architect further pointed out that the idea for Casino City Caribe emerged after he had retired and that he wanted to do something that would contribute to the further development of Costa Rica as a popular tourism destination.

Construction is expected to begin early next year. The project will be carried out in several phases until the final one is rolled out in 2027. Construction work during the first phase is expected to generate 150 new jobs. According to preliminary estimates, the resort will employ around 1,500 people once fully operational.


Casino City Caribe will feature three hotels with a total of 264 rooms, 219 apartments, three casinos, two convention centers – one with capacity for 60 people, and the other for 150 people – a spa and wellness center, an entertainment center, a business center, and different other recreational facilities as well as large green areas.

The complex will offer access to the beach. It will also feature a heliport and a marina to provide visitors and guests with better access options.

While the project is still in its early stages of development, it has already been granted the necessary approval from the host Matina Municipality, the Costa Rica Tourism Board, and the Ministry of Environment.

According to information from the Costa Rica Tourism Board, the island nation welcomed nearly 3 million international tourists last year. Visitors from North America accounted for more than a half of that number.

During the first quarter of this year, Costa Rica received 6% more tourists than the 919,631 arrivals recorded during the same period of 2017. The Tourism Board has said that while the number of tourists from North America decreased during the first three months of 2018, the number of visitors from Europe and North America increased 14.2% and 11.4%, respectively.

Costa Rica has recently opened its first convention center, aiming to position itself as a popular destination for business events. The total amount of $35 million was invested in the nearly 170,000 square-foot venue which has the capacity for over 6,500 delegates and offers nearly 50,000 square feet of exhibition space. As mentioned above, the new Casino City Caribe will, too, feature two convention facilities, although much smaller in scale than the newly opened Costa Rica Convention Center.

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Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Casino relief bill gets Delaware Senate approval

Cash-strapped casinos in Delaware have inched closer to getting financial relief as a bill seeking to slash their taxes moved forward in the Senate.

Delaware State News reported that Senate Bill (SB) 144 breezed through the Senate after majority of its members voted in favor of the bill, sending it to the State House of Representatives for consideration.

Casino relief bill gets Delaware Senate approvalThe senators believe that SB 144, now known as Senate Substitute 1 after the latest vote, will give the casino industry a new lease in life to run a healthy business and, at the same time, continue to provide jobs for residents of Delaware. The state’s three casinos have been struggling to earn a profit due to stiffer competition from other states and back-breaking tax rates.

“The simple fact is that the casino industry is very, very important for the local economy here in Kent,” main sponsor Sen. Brian Bushweller said, according to the news outlet. “Yet over the years our practice of increasing the state’s take … has put Dover Downs and the industry in a precarious situation.”

The state, however, could see a reduced take from the gambling industry if SB 144 is passed, although gaming analysts believe that the prospects of the casino tax relief bill to pass the State House is less certain.

Currently, Delaware gets 43 percent of slot machine revenue and nearly 30 percent of the casinos’ table game revenue. On top of that, the state also takes another $3 million in table game licensing fees annually.

If the legislation is enacted into a law, Delaware is expected to lose $15 million in the next fiscal year and $20 million in 2020. The bill intends to trim the slot tax level of Dover Downs and Delaware Park casinos   from 43.5 to 41.5 percent, while Harrington Raceway & Casino will see a slot tax level reduction from 42.5 to 40.5 percent.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf had already expressed his opposition against the bill and the way the piece of legislation was drafted. He pointed out that the Senate didn’t take the House’s input when they drafted the measure. Schwartzkopf admitted he wasn’t aware about the bill until he read about it on the newspaper last Thursday.

“I feel pretty out of it on this one, I’m telling you,” Schwartzkopf said. “For being an equal part in this thing, we have been left out. … Not just the bill but the discussion that would help craft the bill.”

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Casino News Daily
Norwegian Scholar to Review Whether Loot Boxes Constitute Gambling

A Norwegian scholar will open loot boxes in video games to determine their nature and whether these constitute gambling, Norwegian media outlet Norsk rikskringkasting (NRK) reports.

Norway is the next to review the in-game items after the gambling regulators of the Netherlands and Belgium have recently published the results of their own investigations into the widely publicized matter. The two regulatory bodies have found that the loot box systems of a number of popular video games violate Dutch and Belgian gambling laws.

Rune Mentzoni, an Associate Professor at the Department of Psychosocial at the University of Bergen, will purchase loot boxes featured in the FIFA Ultimate Team video game worth NOK50,000 (approx. $6,248) as part of his study. Mr. Mentzoni told media that this would help him determine whether loot boxes should be considered a form of gambling. His findings will be presented to the Norwegian Gaming Authority (Lotteri- og stiftelsestilsynet) and other regulators.

The scholar explained that he believes the purchase of loot boxes and the fact that they contain a random selection of items in terms of their value very much resembles playing on a slot machine. According to him, the in-game purchasable items are often a loss disguised as a win. The Dutch Gambling Authority drew a similar conclusion in its review of the nature of loot boxes, saying that these acted like slot machines as they could be opened unlimited times and deployed the “near-miss” effect.

The Norwegian Ministry of Culture has assembled a special committee to probe into the matter and determine whether loot boxes should be considered a form of gambling.

Trude Felde, a Senior Advisor to Norway’s gambling regulator, told NRK that an investigation could provide good arguments for a change in the country’s current law. She further pointed out that when crafting new regulations, regulators and legislators need to bear in mind that circumstance and technology change very quickly, therefore any new rules need to be developed in a more “technology-neutral” manner.

New Gambling Law

News emerged earlier this week that a coalition of four parties has submitted a legislation aimed at preventing unlicensed gambling operations from targeting local gambling customers. The new rules secured a majority at a Tuesday vote, but legislators are yet adopt them. This is expected to happen by May 7.

Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto are the two state-run entities that are authorized to provide gambling services in Norway. Despite previous proposals for the creation of a regulatory framework that would allow foreign operators to obtain licenses from the national regulator and operate in a regulated environment, the country’s government has maintained that the monopoly system is the most socially responsible one and there is no need for it to be replaced.

Under the new rules, the Norwegian Gaming Authority will be able to penalize foreign operators targeting local players despite the existing ban. In addition, DNS blocking will be introduced to ensure that local players are not targeted by unlicensed companies.

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World Casino News
Former Okada Manila exec Wolstenholme appointed COO at Hoi An project

Veteran international gaming executive Steve Wolstenholme (pictured) has reportedly been appointed group chief operating officer (COO) for Hoi An South Development Ltd.’s US$4 billion Hoiana casino resort project. Located approximately 18.6 miles south of Da Nang, central Vietnam’s fastest growing tourist destination, Hoiana will feature premium amenities including luxury hotels, private villas, a condominium hotel, […]

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Casino News Daily
Triton Super High Roller Series Returns to Maestral Resort & Casino in May

Located in one of the most spectacular parts of the Adriatic coast, the recently renovated Maestral Resort & Casino near Budva, Montenegro is just weeks away from swinging its doors open to one of this year’s hottest poker events – the Triton Super High Roller Series 2018.

The thrilling poker festival will run from May 12-18, 2018 at the resort and will feature four different events. It will represented the highly anticipated continuation of the extremely successful Triton Super High Roller Series 2017 poker extravaganza that took place at the same resort last July.

The festival is set to kick off with a two-day HK$250,000 (approximately $31,859) buy-in Short Deck Ante-Only tournament. Another tournament with a buy-in fee of HK$250,000 is set to start on May 13. It will, too, take place over two days and will feature a 6-Max structure.

There will be one more Short Deck Ante-Only event to be played within the festival. However, players will have to pay HK$1 million (approx. $127,435) in order to be able to enter it. The tournament will be played on May 17-18 and will actually mark the end of the festival.

Main Event Action

As in its previous edition last summer, the Triton Super High Roller Series Main Event will take place over three days starting May 15. The buy-in for the tournament amounts to HK$1 million, which provides for the creation of a massive prize pool and an attractive first-place prize for the winner, in addition to great excitement for both tournament entries and viewers who will be following the action from the host casino’s rails or from home.

German poker pro Manig Loeser topped the event’s field last year to collect more than HK$16.8 million (approx. $2.16 million) and the accompanying champion’s trophy. Loeser was the last man standing from a field of 52 fellow entries, who created a prize pool of HK$48,921,600.

Winners of other Triton Super High Roller Series events over the years include Fedor Holz, another German high roller super star, Daniel Cates, Dan Colman, the winner of the 2014 WSOP Big One for ONE DROP, and John Juanda.

It is also important to note that the upcoming festival will be the first one of the Triton Super High Roller Series to be livestreamed on Twitch. Organizers have previously revealed that there will be separate streams in English, Chinese, and Russian. It has also been understood that Randy ‘nanonoko’ Lew and Kane Kalas will host the English-language stream.

The Short Deck Ante-Only format will be another innovation to be introduced during the series in May. The format has gained quite some popularity in Asia and now has the chance to make its debut on the European poker scene. It features a smaller deck comprised of 36 cards. The 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s are removed from it and the Aces double as 5s. Aside from that, the game is played as a traditional Texas Hold’em.

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World Casino News
MGM Springfield provisional opening date announced

American casino operator MGM Resorts International has reportedly announced that its $960 million MGM Springfield property could open as soon as August 24 complete with a 125,000 sq ft casino offering some 3,000 slots alongside 100 gaming tables. According to a Thursday report from the Boston Herald newspaper, the venue will be the first Las Vegas-style integrated […]
Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Asian-fueled Las Vegas Sands rakes $3.58B in Q1

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson is planning to bet more money in Asia after his gambling facilities in Macau and Singapore helped boost casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. during the first quarter of 2018.

In a regulatory filing, Sands announced that its net revenue in the three-month period was at $3.58 billion, up 16.7 percent from $3.11 billion in the same period in 2017. The figures exceeded most analysts’ expectations of $3.36 billion. Sands’ reported profit of $1.04 a share also exceeded analysts’ expectation of 85-cent average.

Asian-fueled Las Vegas Sands rakes $3.58B in Q1The casino operator’s consolidated adjusted property earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) leaped 30.7 percent to a record of $1.50 billion.

Sands’ success relies on the strength of its facilities in Macau and Singapore, which both posted double-digit percentage growth. The firm’s Las Vegas operations provided additional support.

“The power of our unique convention-based Integrated Resort business model was once again on display during the quarter, with record quarterly financial results achieved in Macao, Singapore and Las Vegas,” Adelson said in a statement.

Figures released on Wednesday showed that Sands China Ltd. posted total net revenue of $2.16 billion, up 17 percent year-on-year. Its adjusted EBITDA for Macau rose 26 percent to $789 million due to higher VIP hold rate and increase in mass table gaming drop.

Adelson noted that Sands China “broke a number of quarterly records,” including “the highest-ever mass table gaming drop and revenue, the highest-ever retail mall sales, and the highest EBITDA margin since the third quarter of 2006”.

Venetian Macao led the revenue rally in Macau, with net revenue growing 19.6 percent to $868 million while casino revenue rose 20.1 percent to $716 million. Sands Cotai Central, which is being rebranded as The Londoner, managed a 19.6 percent net revenue gain despite poor rolling chip volume.

Cotai Central chalked up $549 million in net revenue while its rolling chip volume was at $2.41 billion. Mass table drop grew 19.8 percent to $1.76 billion with Adjusted Property EBITDA up 40.6 percent to $201 million.

Net revenue of Parisian Macau climbed 15.8 percent to $359 million as rolling chip volume rose 23.5 percent to $4.60 billion. The Parisian’s mass table drop rose 10.5 percent to $1.09 billion. Adjusted Property EBITDA improved 41.5% to $116 million.

A solid 66.9 percent increase in rolling chip volume and 37.3 percent growth in mass table drop fueled The Plaza Macao and Four Seasons Hotel’s revenue growth. Its net revenue increased 38.4 percent to $191 million while casino revenues grew 54.3 percent to $142 million.

The only Macau property that was unlucky in Q1 was Sands Macao, which saw its net revenue fall 13.5 percent to $154 million.

In Singapore, Marina Bay Sands’ casino revenue jumped 32.5 percent year-on-year to $652 million. Its adjusted property EBITDA hit $541 million, up 48.6 percent.

With business prospects looking bright in Asia, Adelson shared his ambitions of expanding his casino empire in Korea and Japan.

Adelson sees Korea as a potential new revenue stream for the company, citing a market intelligence that the Asian country is set to allow the construction of another locals-only casino. At present, Kangwon Land has the monopoly of locals-only casino market in South Korea.

“We think we are… number one in that line. Korea could be real,” Adelson said.

The casino mogul also reiterated his interest in getting a slice of Japanese casino market.

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Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Macau approves new baccarat side bet options

“Lucky Six” is a popular side bet in baccarat found in many casinos around Asia as well as at the Las Vegas Sands in Nevada. The bet pays out any winning banker hand that has a face value of six; Macau approves new baccarat side bet optionsif the hand is composed of three cards, the payout is 20 to 1 and 12 to 1 if it’s composed of two cards. Lucky Six has now been approved by Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), and was announced through Macau’s Official Gazette this week.

A DICJ spokesperson told GGRAsia the decision to revise the baccarat was made “to add a new betting option for the game type, so that there will be more variety in the ways of betting for the patrons.” The DICJ typically introduces new gambling options and games based on requests by casino operators, but didn’t specify whether or not this change came about due to a specific request.

While the betting option is now on the table, it isn’t required to be used by all casinos. The casino operators can choose whether or not they want it to become part of the regular lineup.

Baccarat is Macau’s game of choice. In 2017, it brought in 88.4%—$29 billion—of the city’s gross gaming revenue.  Of this, over half came from high-stakes baccarat. Lucky Six now joins other baccarat betting options, such as Dragon Seven and three progressive jackpot variants. In Dragon 7, a three-card banker hand totaling seven pays 40 to 1 while anything else pays zero.

The origin of baccarat is still questioned, but some sources claim that it began in the 19th century. In the game, cards are assigned a point value: two through nine are worth their face value while tens, jacks, queens and kings have no value and worth zero. Jokers aren’t used and Aces are worth 1 point. Hand values are calculated based on the rightmost digit of the sum of the hand’s cards. For example, a hand consisting of 4 and 3 is worth 7, but a hand of 6 and 8 (combined 14) is only worth 4. The highest possible hand value in baccarat is nine.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

World Casino News
China lottery sales up 6% for March

In China, March ticket sales for its official lottery systems saw a 2.9% spike, with revenue growth for Q1 sales of 9.4% year-on-year. GGRAsia reports that according to China’s Ministry of Finance, aggregate ticket sales of CNY40 billion (US$6.34 billion) for the month of March were registered for the East Asia nation’s two lotteries: the […]
Casino News Daily
Three Video Games with Loot Boxes Violate Belgian Gambling Law, Regulator Finds

At least three video games featuring loot boxes have been breaching Belgian gambling laws, an investigation by the Belgian Gaming Commission has shown. The news about the regulator’s position on the widely publicized issue comes shortly after its Dutch counterpart released its own findings regarding the virtual items just days ago.

Loot boxes gained broad attention with the fall 2017 release of the Star Wars Battlefront II video game. The latest installment of the popular Star Wars: Battlefront series quickly became the subject of major controversy due to the fact that it included a loot box monetization scheme.

Generally speaking, loot boxes are special items can be purchased in-game. They contain further items that can be extremely helpful to a player within the game, but can also be of little value. Each loot box includes a random selection of items and its contents only become known to a player after its purchase is completed.

The Belgian Gaming Commission was among the gambling regulators to question the nature of loot boxes. The regulatory opened a probe into the matter, the results of which were made public earlier today.

The Gaming Commission investigated four video games – Star Wars Battlefront II, FIFA 18, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and Overwatch. The regulator found out that loot boxes in three of the games – FIFA 18, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and Overwatch – violated Belgium’s gambling law. The Commission said that developers of Star Wars Battlefront II have addressed the issue following the controversy the game was embroiled in and that its loot box system no longer violated Belgian gaming regulations.

Under the country’s gambling law, spending real money on an item that could influence a player’s performance in a game constitutes a game of chance if the contents of such an item are determined by chance.

Teenagers at Risk

The Commission expressed concerns that loot boxes in video games and their gambling nature are putting vulnerable players at great risk. Video games are often played by players under the allowed age for gambling but being exposed by products that resemble gambling risks normalizing the activity.

The gambling regulator said today that developers of games with paid loot boxes violate Belgium’s gambling law and can be fined or even sentenced to prison for such a violation. They thus must remove the controversial in-game items or can otherwise face fines of up to €800,000 and or prison time of up to five years.

In a similar move, the Netherlands Gambling Authority, Kansspelautoriteit, announced last week the results from its own probe into loot boxes. The regulator investigated ten video games that featured loot boxes and were available to Dutch players.

Kansspelautoriteit found that four out of the ten games violated the Dutch Betting and Gaming Act as their loot box systems incorporated elements of games of chance into skill-based games. The provision of games of chance without the necessary authorization from the Dutch gambling regulator is strictly prohibited in the Netherlands.

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World Casino News
Redrake’s Jack O’Lantern vs The Headless Horseman slot a hit

Appearing out of the fog and darkness is a spooky new online slot title from Redrake Gaming. The recently released Jack O’Lantern vs the Headless Horseman slot game is sure to thrill every gambler, providing a haunting experience on a 5×3 grid. The game has 30 paylines and features high-quality animations and thematic sounds. From […]

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

World Casino News
Spirit installs Europe’s first Interblock innovation

In Germany, Spielbanken Bayern’s Casino Bad Steben is now home to Europe’s very first Dealer Assist Blackjack electronic table game (ETG), which has been installed by Spirit Gaming, Interblock’s distribution partner in Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Commenting on the acquisition, Director for Casino Bad Steben, Udo Braunersreuther, said, “This is exactly what we have been […]
Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Crown casino hit with fresh pokies tampering claim

Australian MP Andrew Wilkie has found what he described as “potentially very hard and indisputable evidence” to pin casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd. to pokies tampering.

Crown casino hit with fresh pokies tampering claimWilkie announced on Tuesday that he is in possession of Crown-branded ‘picks’ that were allegedly used by a former high-roller to jam poker machine buttons in order for gamblers to have uninterrupted games, according to The Guardian report.

Copies of the supposed Crown picks, as well as punter loyalty cards, have been submitted to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) to help the state regulator with its ongoing investigation, according to Wilkie.

Wilkie also informed Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Aston about the tampering claims through a letter.

“It certainly raised a couple of eyebrows this morning at the VCGLR when I showed them the picks, when I showed them the multiple loyalty cards. This is potentially very hard and indisputable evidence,” Wilkie said, according to the news outlet.

According to Wilkie, the pieces of evidence were given to him by a female high-roller who wished to remain anonymous.

The woman revealed that she loses up to AUD30,000 (US$22,824) every time she goes to Crown Casino. Instead of stopping her, the woman alleged that she was given multiple loyalty cards so that she could play several pokies at once.

For Wilkie, the testimony of the unnamed former gambler corroborated the stories of three Crown staffers who previously came forward to accuse the casino operator of allowing the tampering of video poker machines.

The whistleblowers claimed that casino managers ordered Crown Melbourne staff to tamper with the machines, including disabling lower bet provisions and modifying buttons to allow prohibited autoplay—acts that could increase gambling losses.

They made other allegations against Crown, such as tolerating the misuse of identity documents that helped certain high-value customers avoid the scrutiny of financial watchdogs Austrac and allowing certain customers to smoke marijuana on the premises.

“Obviously if they’re true, Crown Casino will have some very serious matters to answer, some very serious charges to answer because it is a crime in Victoria to illegally modify poker machines,” Wilkie said, according to the ABC Online News report. “It is a crime in Victoria to provide a patron with some sort of device to allow the machine to continuously play.”

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Casino News Daily
Gambling Machines Crackdown Announcement Due Within Weeks

The UK Government is set to reduce the maximum stake on the highly controversial fixed-odds betting terminals to £2, The Times reports citing people familiar with the ongoing discussions. An announcement is expected to be made within the next few weeks.

The decision was to be made public at an earlier stage, but according to media reports from yesterday the delay was incurred by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, who was said to have previously been opposed to such a massive cut in the maximum stake. Mr. Hammond reportedly contested the measure as it would result into a huge fall in tax revenue.

At present, FOBTs accept £100 maximum stakes every 20 seconds. Following a review into the gaming machines sector conducted by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, it was announced last fall that the maximum bet would be cut to somewhere between £50 and £2. A reduction to £2 would cost the exchequer £450 million in annual tax contributions, it has been estimated.

Latest media reports indicate that Mr. Hammond may be close to settling what was believed to be an ongoing dispute with supporters of a bigger reduction of the betting limits, with the latter group being led by Culture Secretary Matt Hancock. Sources told The Times that “[they] are nearly there”.

It is believed that Mr. Hancock and his team have managed to appease concerns voiced by Mr. Hammond about the impact the massive crackdown on FOBTs would have on tax revenue.

Alternative Revenue Sources

It is understood that levies will increase on other gambling services to offset losses incurred by the FOBTs crackdown. It is yet to be announced how exactly other forms of gambling will be taxed.

The announcement about the UK Government’s decision on the changes that will be introduced in the gambling machines sector is expected within the next several weeks. However, it will not be made before next week’s local elections due to purdah rules.

Following yesterday’s reports about Mr. Hammond’s opposition to a reduction of the maximum bet to £2, several influential MPs said that they would contest any decision that does not include a cut of the maximum stake to £2. Tory MPs Sarah Wollaston and Nick Boles were among those to say that they “will not support half measures”. Both officials took to Twitter to voice their opinion on the topic.

Shares in William Hill tumbled 11% as news about the pending crackdown on one of its key sources of revenue emerged earlier today. GVC, which recently acquired Ladbrokes Coral – the operator of the largest number of FOBTs across the UK, saw its shares go down 4.8% earlier today.

The B2 gaming machines or FOBTs represent UK’s second largest gambling sector. They generated gross gambling yield of £1.8 billion in the period between April 2016 and March 2017.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Elaine Wynn campaigns to oust Wynn director

Elaine Wynn’s bid to clean house continues. Following the exit of her former husband, Steve, as CEO of the casino giant, Wynn was given back her voting power, and she’s not afraid to wield it. She has already said she wants new blood on the board, and is now challenging shareholders to not vote for director candidate John J. Hagenbuch.

Elaine Wynn campaigns to oust Wynn directorHagenbuch is a director of Wynn Resorts who is up for re-election on May 16. He is also the executive chairman and co-founder of Westland Capital Partners. In a letter addressed to all Wynn shareholders, Elaine Wynn made another request—this time for them to withhold their votes for Hagenbuch in the upcoming election in May.

Elaine Wynn, currently the largest shareholder of Wynn Resorts with 9.24% of outstanding shares, said she’s “deeply concerned” by “the lack of independence and responsible oversight demonstrated by the current board of directors.” Specifically, Wynn is concerned about the casino company’s “most senior leadership,” which is why she says she’s “seeking to reconstitute the board and reform the company’s corporate governance.”

Wynn continued by expressing her distaste of the current “legacy directors” that have too much influence over the company, in particular Hagenbuch. She adds, “This is why today I am launching a “Withhold-the-Vote” campaign against John J. Hagenbuch. I urge you to join me in this effort.”

The overall tone of the letter certainly gives the impression that she won’t be happy until all of the old directors are removed. She wants to see a “New Wynn” that will eventually have younger members on the board, with fresh ideas and a new perspective not reminiscent of the old board.

According to Wynn corporate guidelines, any director who doesn’t receive more than 50% of the votes in his or her favor during an uncontested election must tender his or her resignation within five days of the vote. Wynn said, “If my proxy solicitation results in Mr. Hagenbuch’s failure to receive over 50% of the votes cast for his election, then I believe the failure of the board to accept his resignation would be an egregious violation of proper corporate governance and in direct opposition to a clear shareholder directive.”

The infighting will certainly continue between the old board and Wynn. There has been strong evidence to support a corporate coup d’état, and it’s going to be very interesting to see how things play out.

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