More than US$1 billion in resort investment is in jeopardy after an about-face on casinos by the Sri Lankan government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa (l.). Gaming figures prominently in luxury hotels planned by Crown Resorts and others, but religious and political opposition has proved to be too much. While the government previously said it would not allow foreign casinos, local stakeholders were said to be OK. Now, nothing is certain.
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MGM Resorts International announced several developments last week that will cement its position as the largest and most important operators in Las Vegas. After announcing it will build an eight-acre park with dining and entertainment outlets between its New York-New York and Monte Carlo casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, the company broke ground on a $375 million arena it is building with AEG (l.). And it will make major changes to its Mandalay Bay property as well.
Multimedia Games is acquiring automated table game supplier PokerTek, Inc., producer of the PokerPro multi-player poker game, for $13 million. Multimedia CEO Patrick Ramsey (l.) says the buy gives the company instant access into the Macau market.
A company controlled by Macau casino magnate Lawrence Ho is negotiating with Spanish developers to manage a casino in a planned megaresort complex near Barcelona. The news comes just months after Las Vegas Sands abandoned plans to develop something similar in Madrid.
Illinois state Rep. Bob Rita recently proposed two amendments regarding Chicago casinos. One plan would allow a state-owned 10,000-position casino, and the other would permit a smaller Chicago casino and four suburban operations. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (l.) said he wants to focus on the city's $18.8 billion pension deficit, not a casino.
Florida Governor Rick Scott (l.) said he soon may have a new Seminole gaming compact. But legislative leaders indicated they won't hold a special session to ratify it. In fact, the Democratic Caucus said it withhold support unless they're included in negotiations. Meanwhile the major players continue to pour millions into Scott's re-election campaign.
A sexual assault allegation came back to bite Nevele CEO Michael Treanor (l.) last week as he resigned from the Catskills casino project. Longtime gaming veteran Kathi Meci has succeeded him as interim CEO to compete with 21 other groups for the four upstate New York casino licenses.
The recently “modernized” Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. made overly optimistic predictions about new casino revenues, and also cut racetracks out of the revenue stream from slots. That’s made some provincial politicians angry, including opposition leader Tim Hudak (l.).
Two casino developers who want to build in Massachusetts, MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts, are calling on the legislature or the gaming commission to change the way that it taxes gambling winnings, or face a loss of players. Meanwhile, debate on a ballot question to overturn the legalization of gaming in the state continues.
Neither persistent patent issues involving major exhibitors nor a rival trade show in Macau have dulled optimism for G2E Asia’s lucky No. 8 show. The show expects record exhibitors and attendees for this year’s edition.
It took a year, but Manila’s new Solaire Resort & Casino is finally making money. Owner Bloomberry Resorts said the $32.7 million first-quarter profit vindicates the decision last year to fire its operating partner, Global Gaming Asset Management.
GLOBAL GAMING BUSINESS PODCAST: Ramesh Srinivasan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bally Technologies
This week the GGB Podcast features a discussion with Ramesh Srinivasan, the president and chief executive officer of Bally Technologies, on how his company has accomplished the merger with SHFL entertainment and what the results have been.
Macau’s neighboring Hengqin Island (l.) could become home to a 15,000-seat video gaming arena. The plan is part of billions in investment, most of it private, earmarked for developing the island, which likely will become an important conduit for visitors to Macau in the years ahead.
Morgan Stanley has released a new report on Japan containing significantly lower forecasts for revenues and returns. High labor and construction costs, increasing taxes, legal delays and the inability to attract enough Chinese high rollers all factor into the bank’s downbeat view.
Australia’s Donaco International has the OK from the government of Vietnam to proceed with the opening this month of its expanded Lao Cai International Hotel. Plans include a larger casino targeting cross-border players from nearby China.
Mongolia is looking for operators willing to take a gamble on a racetrack in the country. The government sees legalization as a revenue stream and plans to authorize race betting.
William Hill is closing scores of betting shops in response to the UK’s new get-tough stance on the electronic table games that are the sector’s mainstay. Actions include a tax increase on the machines and the granting of more powers to local councils to deny betting shop licenses.
Plans to open Britain’s first racino have been scrapped by track owners. The facility in Wolverhampton was to anchor a £22 million plan for revitalizing the area with a hotel and convention space.
Caesars Entertainment officials say they remain committed to the company’s Windsor Ontario casino despite falling revenues at the casino. But competition for casino dollars in the region has many analysts expecting one of the area’s four casinos to close.
Two bidders have emerged for a new exclusive casino license approved for the Pacific island of Saipan. But the government isn’t quite sure what to make of them and is looking for advice from an expert with Macau experience.
At least 20 local councils in the Australian state of Victoria are revising their planning laws to keep gaming machines out of poorer neighborhoods. Most of the councils want to see similarly tough rules at the state level, but the state’s top regulator says no changes are planned.
An American Indian tribe, the Snoqualmie, appears to have lost its $1.5 million investment in a casino in Fiji. The tribe has pulled out of the Pacific island project, saying its developer has defaulted on a loan from the tribe.
In a country with the highest rate of smoking in the America’s, a ban on lighting up indoors is wreaking havoc with casino profits. Pre-tax profits have fallen 31 percent since the ban came into force in March 2013.
A new report from McAfee outlines some of the ways criminals can, and have been, exploiting online gambling sites to launder money. The report points to the anonymity of gambling sites, the use of tax-free jurisdictions for many sites and the sheer number of such sites as helping criminals. But regulated sites make it much harder.
Deposits to New Jersey’s online gambling sites are only being accepted 42 percent to 46 percent of the time, according to a report by the Associated Press quoting CAMS CEO Matt Katz (l.). Officials see the low rates as the single biggest factor slowing online gaming in the state.
New Jersey State Senator Paul Sarlo (l.), chairman of the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, has criticized the administration of Governor Chris Christie for hiding revenue projections for online gaming in the next fiscal year. The administration wildly over-estimated the revenue from online gaming for this fiscal year.
Bwin.party officials have urged shareholders to vote against resolutions from SpringOwl, the investor group headed by Jason Ader. SpringOwl has proposed a number of resolutions for the company including nominating four representatives for the bwin.party board, including Innovation Group Chairman Steve Rittvo (l.). Ader, meanwhile, continues to make the case that the company is underperforming and not returning shareholder value.
According to PokerScout—which tracks online gambling figures—the amount of poker players playing on New Jersey’s online gaming sites is stabilizing after a sharp drop. Online gaming went live in the state in November.
Florida Governor Rick Scott is the latest politician to join in the call for a toughening of the federal Wire Act to outlaw online gambling in the U.S. Scott made his stance known as he is in negotiations to possibly expand casino gambling in the state.
A grassroots effort to legalize poker in Wisconsin is underway. The new group, led by the Poker Players Alliance, feels Wisconsin law allows poker as it is a game of skill, not chance.
Antigua and Barbuda officials have protested to the World Trade Association what they say is the U.S. government’s continued intransigence in settling the online gambling dispute between the two countries. The WTO ruled with Antigua saying the U.S. illegally blocked gamblers from playing on the country’s online sites more than decade ago, but the U.S. has still not made restitution.
If the Minnesota House follows the lead of the Senate—which appears likely—online scratch-off lottery ticket sales would end. Lawmakers had said Lottery Director Ed Van Petten launched the online scratch-off ticket sales without their approval. Van Petten said Senators "are making a huge mistake" that could cost the state $2.5 million annually.
Williams Interactive has launched two new slot games—Fire Queen and The Wizard of Oz Wicked Riches—for its Remote Game Server library.
Microgaming will release two new slot games for May timed to correspond with the World Cup football championship.
Zynga founder Mark Pincus (l.) is stepping down as the company’s chief product officer, but will remain chairman of the company.
Software company Playtech is leaving the Belgian online gambling market due to regulatory reasons forcing betting platforms that use its software to stop taking bets from Belgian players.
The California Assembly has been hearing testimony pro and con on two online poker bills. Most Golden State voters appear to support playing poker on the internet, but the devil in the details.
Big players like Caesars Entertainment, Genting and Foxwoods will vie with regional companies and smaller development groups for one of four Class III commercial gaming licenses in upstate New York. June 30 is the cutoff for comprehensive proposals. Developer David Flaum (l.) is involved in several bids.
Pinnacle Entertainment has dismissed a proposal to spin-off its casinos, including the Belterra in Indiana (l.), into a new real estate investment trust (REIT). Company officials said they are focused on consolidating the casinos and reducing debt, but may consider the idea in the future.
A casino bill originally passed in the Senate remains alive in New Hampshire, at least until the end of the May 6 session, despite a 173-172 vote in the House last week that defeated it.
A bill being introduced in the Delaware legislature would provide more than $20 million per year in tax and fee breaks to the state’s three racinos, including Delaware Park (l.).
The Pennsylvania-based gaming company, which owns M Resort (l.) far south on the Las Vegas Strip, is also being mentioned as a possible buyer of the Cosmopolitan at CityCenter. CEO Tim Wilmott has made no secret of Penn’s ongoing interest in Vegas, but says $2 billion is too much.
The $300 million Belterra Park Gaming & Entertainment Center opened last week near Cincinnati, Ohio. The fifth racino in the state, Belterra features the only turf track in the state plus a one-mile dirt track. The 48,000 square foot casino offers 1,500 video lottery terminals and three restaurants. The facility created 700 new jobs.
Bills have been introduced by lawmakers in Pennsylvania and West Virginia that would eliminate casino exemptions to statewide indoor smoking bans.
A bill allowing casinos to offer credit lines of $10,000 or more to high-stakes gamblers awaits Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's signature. The measure is designed to attract large bettors like athletes who do not like to carry large amounts of cash. SB741, passed with large majorities in both houses.
After two consecutive months of decline, Southern Nevada ended the first quarter of 2014 with a bang. March was a great month for tourism in Southern Nevada, and gaming revenues were up throughout the region and unemployment was down.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has held that prizes given away in monthly promotions by the Parx Casino (l.) are not taxable, in a decision with implications for other casinos.
Two Iowa casinos finally can stop subsidizing greyhound racing under a measure approved by the Iowa legislature. The bill requires Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs and Dubuque Greyhound Park to pay $72 million over seven years toward dog-owner retirement, no-kill kennels and helping the Iowa Greyhound Association lease the Dubuque dog racing track.
Although there only are six internet cafes in Colorado, state Rep. Polly Lawrence and Rep. KC Becker have co-sponsored legislation to ban them. Gambling only is approved in Cripple Creek, which Lawrence represents, plus Black Hawk and Central City, which are in Becker's district.
While the Michigan Senate unanimously approved a bill that would loosen restrictions on charity poker rooms that host so-called millionaire parties, the state Gaming Control Board has proposed tougher regulations. The board's proposals will take effect next month unless the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules says no. Governor Rick Snyder supports the tighter rules.
Churchill Downs Inc. was granted a conditional one-year license to operate Fair Grounds racetrack (l.) in New Orleans. Horsemen had complained about Churchill's management in regard to track conditions and customer service. Track President Tim Bryant told the Louisiana Racing Commission that the company will invest in turf repair and other improvements.
Problem gamblers in West Virginia can seek help in a variety of ways—from a website to a helpline to Gamblers Anonymous meetings. Retailers are required by law to post warning signs and place warning stickers on every video lottery terminal.
The grounds of the Atlantic City International Airport are getting an about $500,000 facelift as part of the airport’s ongoing moves to attract more customers.
After it opens in spring 2015, Cherokee Valley River Casino in eastern North Carolina is expected to generate $110 million in its first year, while Harrah's Cherokee Casino in the west is projected to lose $48 million. It's not cannibalization, it's more gaming options, said Cherokee Valley River Casino General Manager Lumpy Lambert.
Spokane County, Washington commissioners said the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs used an old process to define the crash zone at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington. Commissioners said modern methodology would have shown the site where the Spokane Tribe wants to build an off-reservation casino clearly would be in the zone.
Protestors gathered at the University of Alabama campus to oppose raids approved by state Attorney General Luther Strange (l.) that resulted in the closure of four bingo halls and the loss of 1,000 jobs. In addition, protestors said their voting rights had been violated since in 2003 voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing electronic bingo machines.
The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians and the Coquille Indian tribe are at loggerheads over the Coquille’s plan to seek a casino development in Medford, Oregon. The Cow Creek Indians say another casino will hurt the local economy and its people. The Coquilles claim the opposite.
Connecticut’s Indian casinos, Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun, are serious about recovering debts from gamblers who don’t honor their markers. Too serious, say some critics, who oppose placing liens on homes to recover small amounts.
MGM Resorts International has named Anton Nikodemus as chief operating officer of the company’s division overseeing new regional projects in Massachusetts and Maryland.
Sydney’s Star casino has a new managing director, Macau industry veteran Greg Hawkins. He’s expected to take the helm of Echo Entertainment’s flagship resort by September, pending regulatory approvals.
GTECH has named Donna Kimmel as senior vice president of human resources, and Erik Mena as sales manager for Central America and the Caribbean.
Horseshoe Baltimore announced that celebrity chefs John Besh and Aaron Sanchez (l.) will be collaborating on a Mexican restaurant at the new casino.
Pinnacle Entertainment has expanded its mychoice guest loyalty program to all 14 of its casino properties, and has increased the program’s benefits.
Station Casinos has launched a mobile app that allows users to access information about the operator’s properties and access their player’s club data.
Philadelphia’s SugarHouse Casino is offering a simplified version of craps called “Props & Hops,” invented by one of its dealers to draw younger players to the game, invented by one if its dealers.
Aristocrat Technologies has launched Helix, an ergonomically designed slant-top cabinet capable of running any game from the slot-maker’s entire library.
Reel Games will license and sell Euro Games Technology titles in the Puerto Rico gaming market under a new agreement between the companies.
JCM Global has secured the contract to provide 100 percent of the bill acceptors and cash-handling equipment at the Cromwell Las Vegas.
NextGen Gaming has chosen Betdigital to launch its online slot titles exclusively to Gala Boral’s licensed betting shops and bingo clubs.
Bally Technologies has revealed its product lineup for display at NIGA’s Indian Gaming 2014 Tradeshow and Convention and G2E Asia.
IGT revealed its lineup of games for display at the upcoming Indian Gaming trade show, and announced its establishment of a tribal scholarship fund.
Small Nuggets of News
Outrageous pronouncements, simple statements and words of wisdom