Small Nuggets of News

The Maryland Live! casino, which is hosting its first major poker event this month in the $1 Million Live! Poker Classic, is employing enhanced security methods to avoid counterfeiting and the type of  “chip pocketing” that surfaced in last month’s World Series of Poker circuit event in Florida. According to a report in the Washington Post, the casino will employ procedures such as electronic cards that players carry from a busted table that indicate how many chips they have, rather than transporting the actual chips. Other precautions include new “bag and tag” procedures at the end of each tournament day, and the use of multiple sets of distinct tournament chips to fight counterfeiting.  •  Western Maryland fraternal clubs are reporting substantial revenue declines since the opening last may of Rocky Gap Casino Resort. At a meeting last week of representatives of various regional clubs, complaints were heard of Rocky Gap’s drain on pull-tabs and other charitable gaming run by the clubs. “We are down around $35,000 in gambling and $75,000 overall since Rocky Gap opened,” said Richard Everet of the Goodfellowship Club. Added Harry Grove of the Cresaptown Eagles, “What people don’t understand is when your profits are down, your charitable contributions, your sponsorship fees, all these kind of things take a hit.” Club representatives say they are additionally concerned with the 10 percent tax they pay to Allegany County on gambling revenue.  •  The Hard Rock Casino Vancouver in Coquitlam has picked Share Family and Community Services as its “signature charitable partner.” The Hard Rock, the former Boulevard Casino rebranded last December, will devote most of its resources to helping the Tri-City organization, which, among a variety of services, has a program for gambling addicts. Since Boulevard Casino launched in 2002, GCGC has donated thousands of dollars to Share. At its grand opening on December 20, Hard Rock contributed $10,000 to Share and, last week, presented the society with $3,000 at its Imagine gala fundraiser.  •  The European Parliament has approved draft legislation to implement an EU anti-money laundering directive aimed at cracking down on anonymous shell companies funneling money from illegal practices and avoiding taxes. The directive requires the ultimate owners of trusts and companies to be listed in public registrars in EU countries. It’s expected that many gambling companies, especially in the online sector, will be affected. The legislation, however, is not final and can still be rejected.   •  Macau casino operator SJM has opened a new high-limit area called The Tycoon Club at its flagship Grand Lisboa. The 740 square meters of space located on the mezzanine level above the casino contains around 10 table games and 30 slot machines.  •  The governing council of the English city of Bath has approved plans for a £14 million casino with a 128-room hotel and two restaurants. The facility will be operated by France’s Groupe Partouche in partnership with Global Gaming Ventures. Construction is slated to begin this summer, with an autumn 2015 opening planned. The development is expected to create 120 construction jobs and about 80 full-time positions when it is complete.  •  Non-executive directors William Lau Wong and Jeffrey Howard Schwartz are leaving the board of Sands China, the company said. Both will leave after the May 30 annual general meeting. The Hong Kong-listed operator previously announced that non-executive director Irwin Siegel was retiring after the annual meeting.  •  Gaming in Panama took in US$80.1 million in revenues last year, $4 million more than was collected in 2012. Data released by the Panamanian Gambling Control Board show non-casino slot machines accounting for most of the win at $42 million. Casino revenue totaled $24.3 million. The balance was made up by small-stakes machine games, bingo and other games of chance.  •  Macau’s University of Saint Joseph is partnering with Catholic University in Lisbon and the Kellogg School of Management in the United States to offer an Advanced Program in Casino & Hospitality Management. The English-language course, aimed at executive-level managers, will be taught in four stages in sessions in Lisbon, Macau and at Kellogg’s campus in Chicago. The first stage begins May 5 and ends July 10. Applications close on April 16.  •  Coral Interactive has purchased Cool Games, an independent multi-channel games developer, for an undisclosed price. Cool Games was founded in 2004 and offers about 300 games. Coral Interactive offered many Cool Games products before the purchase.  •  Crown Resorts is seeking full control of Betfair’s Australian online betting operations. Betfair currently operates in Australia as a joint venture with Crown and Betfair, but according to Fairfax media, Betfair wants to sell its stake in the business due to low profits. Crown chairman James Packer is reportedly seeking a complete a buy-out of Betfair.  •  Inspired Gaming Group has announced a new partnership with Betflag to supply virtual sports to Betflag’s Italian operations. Inspired will be supplying Betflag with eight games including football, horse racing, trotting, greyhounds, tennis, and motor racing, the company announced. •  Win River Casino in Redding, California, became a smoke-free establishment last week. Although gambling and smoking are often closely linked, a study the casino conducted of its customers showed that only 10 percent actually smoked. Being an Indian casino, Win River is not required to adhere to the state’s law regarding smoking in indoor businesses.  •  The Ohio Lottery Commission has OK’d purchasing 1,200 video lottery terminals from Intralot to deploy at fraternal lodges and VFW posts through the state.  They will replace raffle machines that had been at those venues, but which Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine had last year ruled were illegal gambling machines.  •  The number of Ohio residents choosing to voluntarily ban themselves from Ohio’s four casinos has increase so that, in March 748 residents of 11 states so identified themselves to the Ohio Casino Control Commission. That’s an increase of 37 percent from the 543 who banned themselves as of last September. The state’s four racinos, which are governed by the Ohio Lottery Commission, experience a similar uptick, from 155 this month, compared to 79 in September.  •  The Kern County, California, District Attorney’s office has sent letters to various businesses that offer internet cafes, offering amnesty from prosecution if they shut down. Deputy Sheriff’s delivered the letters by hand to about 25 merchants. They were instructed to contact the DA by a certain date to avoid prosecution. Deputy DA Greg Pulskamp told reporters, “We’re not guaranteeing tha
t, but we’re saying our intent right now is to let them go,”?he said, “Let them go into the night and they had a good run at it. As long as they stop right now, we’ll call it good.” Opinions published by the Fifth District Court of Appeal gave the DA the ammunition it desired to begin the prosecutions.  •  California’s Thunder Valley Casino has announced a cross-marketing agreement with MGM Resorts International that will give its loyalty program members benefits at MGM’s casinos and vice versa. MGM members will get offers from the California Indian casino in Lincoln. “We’re going to be doing cooperative marketing,” he said. “We’re going to be appealing to their customer base; they’re going to be appealing to our customer base,” said Doug Elmets, a spokesman for Thunder Valley.  •  Bathers let it all hang out earlier this month at opening day of the new summer pool season for Liquid Pool Lounge at Aria in Las Vegas, and the Tops Drop topless affair at Bare Ultra Pool adult pool in the Mirage.  March 10 was opening day at MGM Grand’s Wet Republic.  ?  Daniel Boulud will open a new contemporary French restaurant, DB Brasserie at the Las Vegas Venetian in May, with previews starting the last week of April.  ?  The Brooklyn Bowl at the Linq officially opened with Elvis Costello & the Roots during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.