Small Nuggets of News

A lawmaker in Connecticut joined law enforcement officials to announce plans to shut down internet cafés in several communities, which he calls illegal gambling parlors. State Senator Danté Bartolomeo held a press conference outside the Meriden police headquarters to announce a crackdown on the parlors, which offer “pone card sweepstakes” that sell prepaid phone cards that can be used to play video slots on computers. Connecticut is the third state to go after the internet cafés. Laws have been passed in North Carolina and Ohio specifically outlawing such operations.  •  Bars in Pennsylvania can now start applying for state licenses to offer pull-tab games, daily drawings and other forms of gambling approved by the legislature last year. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board started accepting applications two weeks ago, and some expect most bars in the state will eventually offer the limited form of gambling. The bill allowing small games of chance was signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett in November.  •  California-based online gaming platform supplier CashBet has raised $1.7 million in angel funding for a platform that enables developers to build real-money gambling into their social and mobile games. The company aims to run a business that will allow more companies to bridge the game between the multibillion-dollar markets of mobile games and online gambling. The company, which is licensed by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission to serve customers in Europe, received the money from FWH Holdings and private investors, and it will use it to develop its online gambling platform.  •  Scientific Games Corporation announced the North American launch of AEGIS NGS, a next-generation central management system for the lottery industry. It will make its debut in 2015 with Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC) and be deployed across nearly 5,000 WCLC retailers. AEGIS NGS is an upgrade to the lottery’s current Scientific Games system. AEGIS NGS currently operates 15 systems for lotteries in Germany, France and Norway, and is scheduled to launch with two additional European lotteries in 2014-15.  •  UK casino giant Rank Group reported a 23 percent drop in pre-tax profit for the six months ended December 31 to £27.7 million. Bad weather and bad luck at its high-end London Park Tower were blamed for the decline. Visits to its Mecca bingo halls declined 10 percent over the period, driving operating profit down 38 percent to £13.9 million.  •  Macau Legend Development Chairman David Chow said he intends to invest up to €230 million in a hotel with a casino and other attractions on one of the Cape Verde islands. Chow is Cape Verde’s honorary consul in Macau. Hong Kong-listed Macau Legend operates the Landmark Hotel in Macau, two casinos in the territory and the outdoor Fisherman’s Wharf leisure complex.  •  PokerStars and Betfair have applied for licenses to operate in Bulgaria’s newly regulated online gambling market.  •  Macau’s Secretariat for Transport and Public Works has approved a new deadline for Melco Crown Entertainment to complete its City of Dreams resort on Cotai. Changes to the land concession give Melco Crown the right to build another five-star hotel at the site instead of private residences and up to four years to complete the work. The company will pay the city the equivalent of US$23.3 million to change its contract.  •  SJM Holdings said construction of its US$3.2 billion, 2,000-room resort on Cotai will begin “in weeks” and will be completed in 2017. No name or details of the project have been released.  • Downtown Las Vegas’s Container Park, open since November 2013, is doing better than anticipated, according to officials with the Downtown Project. It has drawn 225,000 people have visited.  ?  Bally’s famous Jubilee! burlesque show will reopen in March with new numbers by Beyonce’s choreographer, Frank Gatson Jr. Sources say the expected debut of the new production is March 22.  • The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last week rejected an appeal by residents of Amador County, California, who had challenged a 1985 ruling by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs recognizing the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians. This upholding of a lower court ruling means that the tribe can go forward with building a casino with 950 slot machines and 20 gaming tables on about 67 acres near Ione.  •  Ohio collected 2.2 percent less from gaming taxes in the fourth quarter of 2013 than it did in the preceding quarter, according to a report from the Ohio Department of Taxation. That works out to be $68.6 million for the fourth quarter that will be divided between the state’s 88 counties, schools, and eight largest cities. For the entire year Ohio disbursed $272 million in taxes from gaming. Total casino revenue was $821 million in 2013, which missed projections of $886 million. That figure compares to the $1.9 billion that was projected by supporters of the initiative that legalized casino gaming in the state. Fred Church of the state’s Office of Budget and Management said that a variety of factors could have played in the less-than-expected revenues, from competition at the state’s new racinos to a still spotty economy.  •  Wisconsin’s Forest Country Potawatomi Community has pulled out of the National Indian Gaming Association over the fact that NIGA has not taken a position against an off-reservation casino 40 miles away in Kenosha being pushed by the Menominee Nation, and which the Forest Community opposes. It accuses some of NIGA’s consultants and contractors with being involved with the project, and questions how NIGA can remain neutral as a result.