Small Nuggets of News

Media in Singapore revealed that the two integrated resorts currently making up the world’s third-most profitable casino market, approved in 2006, were not the first to be contemplated. According to the reports, Singapore’s first-ever prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, had favored a casino project proposed for the small island of Pulau Sehahat, near the Singapore Changi Airport. Proposed by the Tourist Promotion Board, the project would have included a luxury hotel, a greyhound racetrack, a Turkish bath and other exotic features. Ultimately, the $20 million project was called off because the one-hectare island was too small.  •  Leading eSports operator BetConstruct announced a partnership agreement with Bulgarian slot manufacturer Euro Games Technology to provide its sports book product to EGT platform operators. The first will be 2Win, jointly owned by the state lottery operator in Macedonia and Casinos Austria. “We welcome 2Win into the community of BetConstruct partners,” said BetConstruct CEO Vahe Baloulian. “Entering new markets is always invigorating, and we look forward to expanding our relationship with EGT.”  •  Eldorado Resorts announced the creation of Columbus Southeast Hotel Group LLC, a joint venture with Vista Host, Inc., to develop a new 118-room Hampton Inn & Suites hotel that will be attached to Eldorado’s Scioto Downs Racino in Columbus, Ohio. Construction of the new hotel is expected to begin this month with a targeted completion date in late 2016. Pursuant to the terms of the joint venture agreement, Eldorado is contributing $1 million of cash and 2.4 acres of land immediately adjacent to the Brew Brothers microbrewery and restaurant at Scioto Downs Racino. Columbus Southeast Hotel Group, LLC will be responsible for the construction of the $15 million hotel and Vista Host, Inc. will operate it upon its completion.  •  The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on Wednesday approved an expansion at Parx Casino in Bensalem, that will add 268 slot machines and boost annual revenue by and estimated $15 million to $20 million. Parx, will increase its gaming floor 15 percent by expanding into space that is currently unused. That portion of the project will be ready to open this week, Parx officials told the board. The remainder of the project, including the new XLounge, is expected to be finished by Christmas. The project will add nine table games, with an emphasis on blackjack and roulette tables.  •  Just days before Japan’s version of the World Series began, the Nippon Professional Baseball announced that two more pitchers from the Yomiuri Giants had bet on professional baseball games. The announcement follows revelations three weeks ago that Giants pitcher Satoshi Fukuda had bet on games involving his team as well as Major League Baseball. Fukuda did not appear for the top team this season, so there is no suspicion that he fixed games, but gambling is a violation of NPB’s charter. “This is extremely regrettable,” NPB Commissioner Katsuhiko Kumazaki told the Associated Press. “Baseball holds a special place thanks to the support it has had for a long time from many fans.”  •  Blue Crystal Labs, a startup created by former Zynga social-casino executive Jesse Janosov, unveiled the social casino game “Simon Slots.” It combines the old sound memory game Simon with the spinning reel of a slot machine, which means the title could be classified as a skill-based game, and that means it could fall under very different regulations when it comes to gambling. At the moment, Janosov said in an exclusive interview with GamesBeat that Simon Slots is a pure social-casino game with virtual goods purchases. You can buy virtual goods with real money, but you can’t cash out your winnings in the form of real money.  •  The casino industry in Delaware reported that gaming revenues were up slightly for the last quarter, after 34 straight quarters of falling revenue. Speaking to Delaware’s News Journal, Dover Downs CEO Ed Sutor attributed the boost to low gas prices, and reiterated his longstanding position that the state needs to lower revenue taxes and fees to allow the three racinos—Delaware Park and Dover Downs, which both saw revenues increase for the quarter; and Harrington Raceway, which saw flat or slightly declining results—to return to long-term profitability. “Competition from nearby states hasn’t decreased,” he told the newspaper. “If anything, the future looks like it will get even tighter.”  •  InComm has entered an agreement with Scientific Games Corporation to bring new lottery gift card product offerings to consumers in North America. The agreement expands the lottery industry’s reach into many new distribution channels like chain pharmacy, big-box and general merchandise stores. The agreement also allows retailers to market and sell lottery gift cards together with traditional gift cards for the first time. “This is an exciting relationship for both companies,” said Brooks Smith, president and CEO of InComm. “Our collaboration provides us the opportunity to deliver innovative and secure payment options that help consumers and increase the reach of lotteries supporting worthy causes throughout North America.”  •  Basketball legend Michael Jordan, Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban have all invested in sports betting data provider Sportradar AG, and will sit on the firm’s new U.S. board. The Swiss firm counts more than 450 bookmakers and 30 state lotteries among its clients, and has established itself as a world leader in the industry. A new investment round in Sportradar AG totals $44 million, led by Revolution Growth, a private equity firm founded by Leonsis, who also owns NHL’s Washington Capitals.  • Ontario Gaming East Limited Partnership, which operates Thousand Islands Casino in Leeds and Grenville, Ontario, Canada, has guaranteed its 420 employees that their jobs will be there for at least a year. OGELP, which in September purchased the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s assets for $50.4 million, held a meeting with civic leaders of the area, at which it gave its assurances. The casino and the OLG slots at Kawartha Downs, are one of the largest employers in the area. The company plans to spend some money on renovation and held out the possibility of expansion sometime in the future.  •  eCOGRA has unveiled a new compliance testing service that will meet the requirements for casinos in jurisdictions such as the UK, Italy and Spain. It has assembled a team made up of Ethical Hackers, ISO 27001 Lead Auditors, Vulnerability Assessors and Certified Information System Auditors to conduct the assessments. According to CEO Andrew Beveridge, “In order to effectively service our clients across multiple regulated jurisdictions, it was necessary for us to have the professional capability to provide the full suite of services required by licensing authorities, without the need for our clients to involve additional third party contractors.”  •  Two top executives at the Mohegan Gaming Authority have signed
three year contract extensions. They include Bobby Soper, recently signed on as president and chief executive officer, with a base salary of $1 million and Mario Kontomerkos, chief financial officer, for $800,000 annually. Both contracts were extended to March of 2018.  •  The Bureau of Indian Affairs last week allowed three additional state tribal gaming compacts to go into affect in New Mexico. The total number is now 12 for 2015.  Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn allowed the compacts to take effect, although with concerns about revenue sharing. When the tribes assured him they were satisfied, he allowed them to go forward.  The state has now more “deemed approval” compacts than any other state. This represents a majority of gaming tribes in Arizona.  The next tribe likely to join this group is Nambe Pueblo, which just signed an updated compact.  •  The House of Representatives could vote on HR 511, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act next week, according to Politico. The act would remove tribes from the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board. A Senate version of the bill, S. 248, is also under consideration.  •  More than 120 people were injured when a high-speed ferry from Macau to Hong Kong hit an “unidentified object” offshore. According to reports, five of the injured were in critical condition.  ?  Studio City, Melco Crown Entertainment’s new casino resort on Macau’s Cotai Strip, has received permission to hire 2,000 non-resident workers. The operator must also hire at least 2,900 new local workers.  ?  Wynn Macau faces penalties for converting part of its mass-market gaming area into a VIP gaming area, where smoking is allowed. About 70 employees protested the conversion; Wynn has since reverted the area back to a mass floor.  ?  Two Geocapital companies have pulled up stakes and left Macau, according to reports. Geocapital Investimentos Estratégicos SA and its chief subsidiary, banking and insurance investor Geocapital Gestão de Participações SA, no longer have their head offices or any representative in Macau. The companies reportedly made their exit without paying employees, suppliers, banks and the government tax office.  ?  NetEnt has launched an ancient Egypt-themed video slot in mobile and desktop formats, Pyramid: Quest for Immortality, which includes NetEnt’s Avalanche re-spin feature and offers the chance to win cash prizes.  •  Ainsworth Game Technology agreed to make its most popular titles for computers, mobile, and tablet devices available via Microgaming’s Quickfire platform for regulated European and UK gaming sites.  •  New York curtains-maker Elyahu Cohen paid $37 milling to buy the Walgreens pharmacy located on 1.6-acre property at the Convention Center Drive and Las Vegas Boulevard in Las Vegas.  •  In light of strong local opposition, Nassau County Off-Track Betting  has decided against opening a VLT casino in Inwood and continues looking for a potential casino site.  •  The Plaza Casino in Las Vegas has opened a sports-related gallery in the former Las Vegas Club, with many items available for purchase.