Small Nuggets of News

Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem in Pennsylvania posted a 92 percent occupancy rate for its 302-room hotel for the quarter ending June 30, while commanding a nightly room rate of $154, according to the Allentown Morning Call. The newspaper reports that the 92 percent compares to an average occupancy rate of 66 percent for the local Lehigh Valley’s 5,800 rooms, which have an average room rate of $94. “The Sands hotel numbers are huge,” Michael Stershic, president of tourism agency Discover Lehigh Valley, told the newspaper. “The demand is huge. People want that full casino experience.” Las Vegas Sands Corp. is considering building a second hotel at Bethlehem.  •  BMM Testlabs announced it has been awarded a license for the Italian AWP market, issued by the Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli di Stato. BMM’s Italian business is led by Antonio Gridà Cucco, senior group manager, operations. “This AWP license, coupled with our current online license, confirms that BMM now has complete coverage in Italy,” said Gridà Cucco. “Italy has enormous relevance in the European gaming landscape, and BMM is very pleased to now be able to offer services to both the land-based and online segments.”  •  Aristocrat’s VGT subsidiary launched its wide-area Class II Easy Money Jackpot last week at 10 casino locations across Oklahoma. The jackpot is found on eight popular VGT game titles, including 777 Bourbon Street, Crazy Cherry, Hot Red Ruby, King of Coin, Lucky Ducky, Mr. Money Bags, Reel Fever and Smooth as Silk. The progressive jackpot resets at $250,000.  •  Police authorities in Italy are cracking down on internet cafes, known as CTDs, which are alleged fronts for mafia organizations offering illegal online casino games. Authorities reportedly took action against more than 50 individuals alleged to be involved in a mafia organization running the cafes. To date, 45 Italian companies and 11 foreign entities have been identified, and the government has shut down 82 websites operated by 1,500 CTDs.  •  A Latvian subsidiary of Olympic Entertainment Group (OEG) signed an agreement to acquire 100 percent of Latvian casino operator SIA Garkalns and its subsidiary SIA Post-Nevada. According to Madis Jääger, CEO of OEG, the agreement follows the group’s strategy of seeking expansion opportunities both in new markets as well as in countries where the brand of Olympic Casino in already well-known and highly valued. “We are in the middle of a year of intense expansion,” Jääger said. “In addition to the acquisition in Latvia, we are working on a large project to enter the market in Malta, and at the same time we are building our flagship casino and the first Hilton in the Baltics.”  •  Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. (CEOC) was denied permission to pursue a quicker-than-normal appeal of a ruling that allows bondholder lawsuits against its parent to proceed while the operating unit reorganizes in bankruptcy. The casino giant is appealing the July 22 ruling of Judge Benjamin A. Goldgar holding that lawsuits against the unit’s parent, Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corp., could proceed while CEOC is in bankruptcy. Last week, Goldgar rejected a request to appeal his decision directly to the federal circuit court, bypassing the district court. The decision makes it more difficult for the company to halt the bondholder litigation before a Manhattan federal judge can consider imposing billions of dollars in liability on the parent, possibly forcing the parent into bankruptcy.  • Suzo Happ subsidiary Scan Coin, a leading supplier of banknote acceptors in the casino industry, signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Central Bank on the new €20 banknote that will enter into circulation on November 25. “It is essential to be ready for this event, even more so when taking into account that the €20 banknote is one of the most used of the euro banknote denominations,” commented Marcel Oelen, Suzo Happ EMEA managing director.  •  Interactive game developer Genesis Gaming announced the release of the fast-paced video slot Dinosaur Adventure, available exclusively at Unibet Casino and “designed for the dinosaur-loving gambler in all of us,” the company said. Designed for “Triple Play” release, Dinosaur Adventure will be available in desktop (Flash), mobile (HTML5) and Spin City application (Native iOS/Android) formats. The Spin City application will feature the game in coming weeks. The game is a 1,024-ways-to-win format with free-spin bonus events and wild multipliers. “Dinosaur Adventure was designed to be an exciting game for the true gambler,” said Scott Sims, head of global design at Genesis Gaming. “The wild multipliers in the free spins bonus bring in the high volatility and big wins that make for a thrilling game.”  •  Chance Hill, an online casino operator based in Madrid, Spain, and licensed in Curaçao, has launched a new affiliate program with Income Access. Chance Hill offers players games from a variety of providers including Microgaming, Betsoft, NetEnt and Softswiss. Rafael M Rios, CEO of Chance Hill, said, “We are looking forward to developing the program and our broader relationship with Income Access over the long term, and seeing the affiliate channel play an increasingly important role in our acquisition strategy.”  •  The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), in partnership with the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, held a workshop on Developing Viable and Sustainable Tourism Products: The Singapore Model. The workshop, in Bridgetown, Barbados, was conducted by Christopher Khoo, the senior tourism consultant at International Business Dynamics (iBusiness), a training and consultancy firm. The CTO said the workshop examined six main areas relating to Singapore’s strategic approach to tourism. These include planning and development, product development, partnerships, investment and financing, marketing and education and training.  •  Churchill Downs Inc. announced that CEO William C. Carstanjen has been named a Class II director on the company’s board. Carstanjen, who was appointed by the board in August 2014 as the company’s 12th CEO, will serve on the 11-member board until the 2016 annual meeting of shareholders, where he will be nominated for election by the shareholders.  •  Penn National Gaming is seeking to cut its assessed valuation of its Hollywood Casino in Bangor, Maine, arguing that declining business (a 13 percent drop in 2014 from 2013) and increased competition makes it less valuable, and should mean it pays less taxes. If Penn’s request were granted it would result in an $876,849 tax rebate. The city of Bangor recently rejected the request, so the company has appealed to the state.  •  The Seven Mile Casino card room opened last week in Chula Vista, San Diego County, becoming California’s newest casino. It replaces the Village Club Card Room, which operated for nearly 70 years. Chula Vista bucked th
e Golden State trend, which is to close card rooms. The city government actively promoted the newer more upscale location. San Diego County currently has four card rooms. San Diego city has a policy of closing card rooms as the current owners die. However, the city of Chula Vista is expected to collect an annual $500,000 license fee from the Seven Mile.  •  The National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) will hold its 30th anniversary Mid-Year 2015 fall conference at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino November 2-4. The theme of the conference will be: Empowering Leaders.  •  Imperial Pacific International opened a temporary casino on Saipan on July 26. Imperial Pacific International has plans to build a casino-resort on Saipan in five phases; it has a 25-year license to run a casino.  •  Melco Crown will soon announce the grand opening date for its $3.2 billion Hollywood-themed Studio City resort on Macau’s Cotai Strip. The nongaming elements include a 300,000-square-foot shopping mall; a 427-foot Ferris wheel; a 300-seat theater; and a virtual reality ride called “Batman Dark Flight” based on the DC Comics character.  •  Rock Shot Bingo, a new energetic alternative to traditional bingo, has expanded to Red Rock Resort after success at Green Valley Ranch Resort. The new form of bingo features a special rotating theme, with prizes such as poolside cabanas and hotel rooms in addition to cash.  •  Penn National Gaming has said it will implement a development plan for the newly acquired Tropicana Las Vegas that will take three to five years. Penn plans on upgrading its player rewards system while evaluating the expansion of retail, food and beverage, and entertainment offerings on the property.  •  The Schenectady City Planning Commission gave final approval to Rush Street Gaming for the $330 million Rivers Casino. Rush is still waiting for a casino license from the state Gaming Commission, with an anticipated date in the early fall.  •  R&R Resources+, a marketing firm led by former Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford, will lead brand marketing efforts for MGM National Harbor. Horsford represented Nevada’s Congressional District 4 for a single term, then lost in the 2014 mid-term elections.