Life for the Taj

Trump Taj Mahal may not close in mid-November after a federal bankruptcy judge allowed the casino to cancel its contract with Local 54 of UNITE HERE, the city’s largest casino union. Prospective new owner Carl Icahn will invest $100 million in the property if some state and city tax payments are reduced or delayed. Should it be forced to shut down, the Taj would be the fifth Atlantic City casino to close since the beginning of the year, leaving just seven still operating.

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A group of investors led by former Pinnacle Entertainment CEO Dan Lee (l.) wants to overthrow the current board and management of Full House Resorts Inc., based in Las Vegas. Full House has fired back, saying it may sell. The shareholders criticize money-losing investments and executive compensation.

New Jersey Refines Sports Betting Laws

Governor Chris Christie (l.) last week signed a bill in hope to clear the way for sports betting to be allowed in New Jersey. The state is trying to work around a federal ban on sports betting by allowing un-regulated sports betting at casinos and racetracks. Ultimately, however, the decision will rest with a federal judge scheduled to hear arguments on the state’s plan next month.

Down to the Wire in NY

It’s the homestretch for 16 development teams competing for up to four new casino licenses in New York State. For months, a casino siting board has been sizing up the proposals and hearing from bidders and the public. Gaming commissioners may announce the winners this month. But bidders for the Grand Hudson Resort & Casino (l.) are said to be “tax cheats.”

New Jersey to Accept Skill-Based Games

New Jersey regulators, in a move they hope will improve business in beleaguered Atlantic City, are calling for submission of skill-based games that can attract new players.

Arizona Tribe Shot Down by Judge on Gaming Compact

A federal judge rejected an argument by New Mexico’s Pojoaque Pueblo to obtain a new gaming compact with the U.S. Interior Department without the approval of the state. The tribe promises to appeal, but the compact will expire in June 2015. Pojoaque Pueblo Governor George Rivera (l.) isn’t happy.

Golden Week Fails to Glitter

Macau welcomed more than 900,000 visitors during the popular Golden Week holiday, a new record. But that didn’t translate into gaming revenue, which analysts say fell steeply in comparison with last year in line with the downward trend of the last four months.

Crown Deal Under Fire in Victoria

A controversial agreement with the state of Victoria provides Crown Resorts’ Melbourne flagship with insurance against the costs the casino might accrue from problem-gambling policies that don’t exist yet. Critics are appalled and say the terms will tie the hands of future governments.

Online Operators Exiting Singapore

Operators are beginning to pull out of Singapore’s now-illegal web gaming market. First to the exits were Bet365 and IBC Bet, while 888 and SBOBET have stopped accepting new accounts from the city-state. The law, which takes effect next year, entails steep fines and jail terms for violators.

FANTINI’S FINANCE: Mystery in Macau

Las Vegas Sands reported their quarterly earnings last week and it appears that their executives are as confused as the analysts about what is happening in Macau. Is it VIP weakness or mass market? And what role is being played by the Chinese government?


More Macau Smoking Rooms Come on Line

Seventeen of the city’s 35 casinos now have airport-style smoking lounges in place to comply with a new prohibition on smoking in public gaming areas. Eleven more have applied for approvals, as operators quickly pivot to adjust to a ban that is much stricter than anticipated.


William Hill Scores In Undercover Tests

The United Kingdom's retail betting chain William Hill recently was named among the country's highest performing outlets in undercover tests conducted by Serve Legal, an independent ID check auditing company. William Hill scored 86 percent compared to the national rate of 82 percent for approaching underage individuals.


Union, Casino Workers Reach Agreement

Just prior to Canadian Thanksgiving on October 13, the 800 union-member employees at the Great Blue Heron Casino on Scugog Island in Ontario reached an agreement with the managers of the gaming facility for a new three-year contract. Previously 91 percent of the unionized employees had voted to support a strike over benefits and schedules.

Licensing an Issue in Mexican Reforms

Casino operators in Mexico say they’re behind legislation to better regulate the industry, but they suggest the 10-year licenses the measure provides for are too short. The bill, currently under review in Congress, spells out licensing rules and establishes a national gaming watchdog.


MGM Pushes Online Poker Bill in NY

MGM Resorts International does not own a casino in New York. It is not among the bidders vying for the first four commercial casino licenses in the state. Yet it is lobbying hard for legal online poker in the Empire State, and pushing the idea through its Let NY Play campaign.

Court Dismisses Gibraltar Challenge to UK Gambling Law

Britain’s new online gambling regulations have survived a challenge from online betting firms based in Gibraltar after a court dismissed the challenge. The new law requires any firm seeking to take bets bin the UK to be licensed.

Ladbrokes Leaves Three More Countries

Ladbrokes intends to withdraw from Switzerland, Norway and Hungary. The withdrawals come before the introduction of new licensing conditions in the UK. The company has already exited the Canadian market.

Tax-Hungry Czechs Get Tough

The Czech Republic doesn’t particularly like online gambling, but it does like the taxes. New rules have been proposed that will open the market to the rest of the EU but will keep a close eye on domestic gambling and limit individual wagers.

Online Bet Trading to be Launched would match gamblers to an online site in games are populated online, but in which the house has no advantage—other than a cut of “trades.”

Jeffrey Haas on New Jersey Online Poker

Jeffrey Haas, poker director for, sat down with Bluff magazine and discussed a wide range of topics including Party Poker’s venture into New Jersey online poker. Haas acknowledged that online providers in the state need to improve in virtually every aspect of the customer experience and said PokerStars expected arrival in the state should be a game-changer.

Canadian Online Casino Shuts Down

The Northern Bear casino was billed as Saskatchewan’s first online casino, but after two years the site is now closing. Though the site never generated revenue, its operators say it was still an important step to protect First Nation people’s constitutional rights.


Suffolk Downs Asks Commission to Revisit Boston Metro License

The dying racetrack that hoped for a new life with a casino proposal by the Mohegan tribe has asked the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to reconsider its decision to award a casino license to its rival, Wynn. However, the commission doesn’t look anxious to grant Suffolk Downs Racetrack’s request. But a union that represents workers at Suffolk Downs is suing, along with the city of Revere, alleging the commission violated the law.

Wave of Layoffs at SLS Las Vegas

Mere months after its star-studded grand opening in August, the SLS Las Vegas has laid off some of its work force. The adjustment was small; less than 2 percent of employees were let go after the resort “evaluated its staffing needs,” a spokesman for the property said.

Indiana Pols: What Constitutes Gambling "Expansion"?

Although Indiana casinos are steadily losing revenue to competition in neighboring states, Governor Mike Pence (l.) and anti-gambling Republican lawmakers won't allow gambling "expansion." But some lawmakers believe if Majestic Star casino gives up one of its two gaming licenses, casinos could move onto land and racinos could get live table games without "expansion."

Deadwood Casino’s $1 Million Renovation Completed

A $1 million renovation has been completed at the recently reopened Gold Dust Casino & Hotel in Deadwood, South Dakota. The project included a new kitchen, restaurant, walls and ceilings as well as new games among the casino's 180 slots and tables. A major storm last fall delayed the scheduled reopening.

Philadelphia Developer to Buy Atlantic City Shopping Pier

Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein says he will buy the Pier Shops at Caesars in Atlantic City, getting the $200 million structure for $2.5 million. Blatstein did not announce specifics for the four-story shopping complex, but said he intends to make it a tourist destination all its own. Blatstein is also competing for a casino license in Philadelphia.

Illinois Report Links Video Gambling, Casino Declines

The rise of video gambling, which has been legal in Illinois for two years, could be the cause of declines in casino revenues in Illinois, according to the recently released annual report from the state Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

Atlantic City Casino Revenue Falls in Wake of Casino Closings

Atlantic City’s casino revenues for September showed a mixed bag as casino closings hurt the total casino revenue for the month—down about 13 percent—but five of the city’s remaining casinos showed revenue increases. Only two casinos showed declines. The results suggest that after four casino closings this year, the remaining casinos are picking up some of the former players from the closed properties.

Floridians: More Gambling Wrong Direction

In a recent poll by the University of South Florida, 43 percent of respondents said more casino gambling would take the state in the wrong direction; 29 percent said more casino gambling is the way to go. Still, the state's casinos and racinos brought in $408 million in tax revenue last year.

Texas Lawmakers Could Abolish Lottery

Although the 23-year old Texas lottery raised a record $1.2 billion for education last year, lawmakers and others are calling for its elimination, claiming it targets the state's poorest population. A joint legislative committee recently met to weigh the lottery's pros and cons.

Circus Circus CEO: No Need for Change

For years the northern end of the Strip in Las Vegas has been struggling to reinvent itself with new resorts designed to draw more visitors to the area, which is far from the most of the Sin City action. But one resort sees no need to change, says Don Thrasher, Circus Circus president and CEO (l.). Low room rates and a kid-friendly kitsch keep Circus Circus going strong.

Colorado Amendment Proponents Pledge Additional Taxes

If Colorado voters approve Amendment 68, allowing a casino at Arapahoe Park racetrack near Aurora, backers said they would provide an additional $34.5 million in local taxes, including $17 million for road improvements, in response to concerns expressed by Aurora city officials.

Cannibalization Concerns Maine Casinos

Cannibalization is all the talk in New England states in the current election cycle. In Massachusetts, planned casinos would be the cannibals, keeping gambling money at home. In Maine, existing casinos said they'd be cannibalized by two proposed new operations.

Arcana: Sean Patrick’s Could Grow

Golden Gaming’s recent rebranding of four Irish pubs under the Sean Patrick’s moniker could be the start of a larger growth strategy, says company COO Steve Arcana. The owner of PT’s Pubs and Sierra Gold bought the four Nevada pubs from the Morrissey Group.

Gulf Coast Casino Boosts Development

D'Iberville, Mississippi officials said the Scarlet Pearl Casino, scheduled to open in December 2015, led the way in nearly $141 million issued in building permits in the last fiscal year. As a result of the casino, developers are interested in building housing and hotels in the downtown area.

PA Gaming Board Suspends CEO

The chief executive officer of Valley Forge Casino Resort has been suspended by the state gaming board for allowing underage women to access the casino.

MontBleu in Tahoe to Get $24M Facelift

MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa at Stateline on Lake Tahoe’s south shore will soon begin more than $24 million in renovations to its 437 rooms, casino floor and convention center, owner Tropicana Entertainment has announced.

Revel-based Nightclub Fights to Stay Open

The HQ nightclub at Atlantic City’s closed Revel casino is fighting to re-open despite the casino being shuttered. The nightclub’s owners have asked a bankruptcy judge to stop Revel from blocking a re-opening.

Argosy Leaves Sioux City

The Argosy riverboat, home of the Belle of Sioux City casino, departed Sioux City, Iowa last week for a trip down the Missouri River. It's destined for an Illinois shipyard, where the vintage riverboat will be salvaged or sold.

Resorts World Vegas ‘A Game-Changer’

Malaysian casino giant Genting is known for doing things big. Its Resorts World Las Vegas, no under development on the Strip, is the biggest project the city has seen in years. The sprawling $4 billion resort, with 100,000 square feet of gaming space, will open its first phase sometime next year.


California Casino Remains Closed a Week After Showdown

A California casino, Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, is losing $1 million every day it doesn’t operate continues to be closed at the orders of a federal judge who insists that feuding factions sit down and talk. Some say the casino could remain closed for months. Former National Indian Gaming Commission Chairman Phil Hogen (l.) calls it an “explosive” situation.

Proposition Aimed at One Tribe Could Affect All of California

One tribe in California will directly benefit if Proposition 48 passes: the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians. But the referendum could have massive effects on Indian gaming in the state if it fails to pass. Pechanga Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro (l.) says the vote is about a Las Vegas casino company forcing an issue.

Walker's Delayed Decision Frustrates Lawmakers

Wisconsin legislators and others are becoming increasingly frustrated with Governor Scott Walker's slow pace in making a decision about the proposed Menominee casino in Kenosha. Walker (l.), who's running for re-election, requested and was granted an extension until after the November 4 election.

BIA Seeks Comments on San Diego Tribe’s Trust Application

The federal government is seeking comments on a fee to trust application for a San Diego, California tribe, the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeño Indians that wants to build a casino in Barstow, more than 100 miles from its reservation.

Oglala Sioux, South Dakota Negotiating Compact

Within two months, a new gaming compact between the state of South Dakota and the Oglala Sioux Tribe is expected to be approved. The agreement would allow the tribe to offer blackjack and poker and up to 750 slot machines. The tribe currently operates 250 slots at its Prairie Wind and East Wind casinos.

Northern Arapaho Gaming Compact Extended

The Northern Arapaho tribe recently was granted a 20-year extension by the U.S. Department of Interior to operate the Wind River Casino on its Casper, Wyoming reservation. Tribal officials said the extension will allow them to receive financing for expansions and improvements at the casino and on the reservation.

Funding, Environmental Impact Challenge Project

The Nez Perce tribe wants to build a $14 million interchange its Clearwater River Casino, three miles east of Lewiston, Idaho. But funding the project and making sure it doesn't disturb waterfowl present two major challenges.


Two Casino Execs Among World’s Top CEOs

The Harvard Business Review list of the world’s top 100 CEOs includes some well-known names from the gaming industry: Steve Wynn, head of Wynn Resorts Ltd., and Edward Tracy (l.), president and CEO of Sands China Ltd.

Causey is Caesars’ New Chief Accountant

Caesars Entertainment Corp. has appointed Keith Causey as the company’s new chief accounting officer. Causey steps into the role formerly occupied by Diane Wilfong, who has left the company “to pursue another opportunity,” Caesars said in a press release.

Harrah's Exec Mirman Joins California Newspaper

Richard Mirman, a former executive at Harrah's Entertainment, recently was named interim publisher and chief executive at the Orange County Register and the Riverside Press-Enterprise newspapers, owned by Freedom Communications. The struggling company recent closed the Los Angeles Register, positioned as a Los Angeles Times competitor, five months after starting publication.

Jones Named Grosvenor Managing Director

At the end of the month, Mark Jones will take over as managing director at the Rank Group's Grosvenor Casinos. Jones joined the company in 2009 and previously held positions as chief executive at Pizza Hut UK, chief executive officer at Yates Group and executive chairman at Premium Bars and Restaurants.

Aristocrat Names EMEA Chief

Aristocrat has appointed 30-year gaming industry veteran James Boje as managing director for the Europe. Middle East and Africa region.

Storm8 Appoints New Executives

Storm8 has appointed a new president of games and networks and a new chief creative officer. Both are former Zynga employees.


Caesars Tops in Social Gaming

In mid-2013, Caesars Entertainment’s social games nudged aside Zynga for the No. 1 spot in online gaming, with Slotomania as the stronghold. Gamers do not play for cash, but can buy add-ons and other perks that make the field a real moneymaker. How much? How does $2.7 billion sound?

MGM Tests Interactive Betting Tables

MGM Resorts is testing four-player tables with touch-screen wagering tables at its sports book, with internet-connected stations supplied by Suzo-Happ.

Golden Nugget Picks Agilysys

The new Golden Nugget Lake Charles casino will use enterprise software from Agilysys, including the company’s Lodging Management System.

BMM Approved in Singapore

BMM Testlabs has been licensed as a Singapore Recognized Testing Laboratory after meeting new requirements for testing service providers.

Gauselmann Acquires Betcom

The Gauselmann Group has acquired Betcom Limited, a gaming software company, as part of the German company’s expansion into the U.K. market.





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