Caesars Restructuring Nears Completion

Merger with an affiliate, a challenge to convince creditors and an approaching deal prepare Caesars Entertainment for a prepackaged bankruptcy. But questions still surround how many of the company’s debtors will agree to the deal and how subsequent lawsuits will be filed.

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WEEKLY FEATURE: Brisbane Battle

Echo Entertainment and Crown Resorts, which just locked horns over a gaming license in Sydney, are rivals again as Brisbane prepares to award a new license. The development will be centered in the Queen’s Wharf district. The designs (Echo plan at left) were released before the end of the year, and everyone seems pleased.

Atlantic City’s Taj Mahal Makes Year End Open

The Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City did not close December 20—though many gamblers thought it had—and investor Carl Icahn says he still hopes the casino can stay open for good, but “on my terms.” Meanwhile, the casino is trying to win back gamblers and fight attacks by the unions. Will Sell Social Gaming Business says it is in active negotiations with Rising Tide to sell its social gaming business after a tough year that saw the company take hits in social gaming and in its New Jersey online offering. The company has also warned of lessened revenues due to weak wins in sports betting in the last month. The company also said it is considering possible mergers.

The Race to Build South Korean Casinos Is On

A development partnership that includes U.S. gaming giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. has inked an agreement to construct a US$838 million casino resort in Incheon, South Korea. Paradise also plans a new resort in the same vicinity.

Old Cuban Casinos Might be Revived

Once the gaming Mecca of North America, Cuba may someday be reborn as a casino destination now that the United States and the island nation have started to thaw relations. Casinos were once owned by legendary Vegas operators like Wilbur Clark, who operated the Tropicana casino in Havana (l.).

Navajos Propose New Gaming Compact

The gaming Navajo Nation-New Mexico gaming compact will expire in June on three casinos (Fire Rock at l.) and tribal leaders recently proposed a new arrangement that Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates called "fair for our people and for the people of New Mexico." Another New Mexico tribe has also signed a compact with the state.

Three New York Casino Licenses Established, Controversy Ensues

The Lago Resort and Casino in Tyre, Montreign in Catskills, and Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady (l.) have been named as the three casinos to be granted licenses from the state board. Local Indian casinos may feel a swift blow to their revenue, and one has responded with an expansion of its own. But the Southern Tier has been left out and officials are not happy.

FANTINI’S FINANCE: Disappointing Year

As 2014 wrapped up last week, investors in gaming stocks are probably saying “good riddance.” Companies with operations in Macau were particularly hard hit.


Big Trouble in Little China

A crackdown on money laundering by Chinese President Xi Jinping (l.) has some analysts predicting that Macau’s multibillion-dollar gaming industry may have peaked. The overall market shed $58 billion in revenue in 2014. Xi’s visit to Macau recently emphasized his points.

Japan Could OK Casinos in 2015-16

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (l.), who just won his second term in office, has pledged to stoke the nation’s economy with a plan that may include casino gaming. Legislation is already being drafted to introduced integrated resorts in the country.

City of Dreams Opens in Manila

Solaire in the capital of the Philippines finally has some competition: City of Dreams opened its doors in December. The soft opening included the debut of the resort’s main casino floor and several restaurants.

LVS Gets OK to Finish Parisian Macao

The Las Vegas Sands Corp. says the Macau government has given it the go-ahead to complete its $2.7 billion Parisian resort. The property is expected to open in stages in late 2015 and early 2016.

Delay for Galaxy Macau?

The president and COO of Galaxy Entertainment Group denies reports that Phase II of the company’s Galaxy Macau property will not open until May. The target opening was originally set for March.

AAEC Drops Sands Lawsuit

The head of the Asian American Entertainment Corp. has withdrawn a lawsuit seeking US$5 billion from the Las Vegas Sands Corp. Marshall Hao Shi-sheng said he was instrumental in preparing Sands to get a gaming license in Macau.

Okada Cleared of Bribery Charges in Philippines

Universal Entertainment Corp says Philippine law enforcement has dismissed allegations of bribery against the company and its owner, Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada. Okada was accused of trying to pay off the Philippine government to get a casino built.

New Smoking Restrictions for Macau?

The government of Macau is expected to announce new restrictions on smoking in casinos, says Alexis Tam Chon Weng, the new secretary for Social Affairs and Culture. An announcement of the new rules could be made in March.

Vietnam’s Grand Ho Tram Launches Phone Bets

Last month the Grand Ho Tram resort in Vietnam launched live telephone betting on some table games. The perk for high rollers could attract gamblers steering clear of Macau. The games are transmitted to players live via the internet.


Catalonia: BCN World Still On Track

Despite the departure of main investor Veremonte, the mammoth BCN World project outside Barcelona will go forward, according to the regional government of Catalonia. The Generalitat and La Caixaa have agreed on an 18-month purchase option for the 470-acre plot of land.

UK Gaming Tax Causes Uproar

One of the last independent bookmakers in London warns that he and fellow bookies could go out of business when a new gaming tax is levied this spring. A 25 percent duty rate on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs, l.) was approved last April, and will go into effect this March.

Andorra Considers Legal Gaming

The Andorran legislature is looking at a draft bill that would permit one casino in the European microstate, which already has a flourishing tourism industry.

Campaign Addresses Problem Gambling in Britain

Britain’s top gaming firms are behind a new campaign against compulsive gambling. The Senet Group, a unit of William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Paddy Power, is behind a new ad campaign to raise awareness.

Czech Republic Considers Gambling Tax Increase

A proposal from the Czech Republic Finance minister to increase the country’s gambling tax to 30 percent to 40 percent of gross win is scheduled to be considered by the government.


Crown: Lower High Roller Tax

Australian casino operator Crown Resorts says a “super tax” on high roller play at its Melbourne property is crushing profitability. Crown has taken its complaints to the Victoria government. CEO Rowen Craigie (l.) says his casino is marketing with “one hand tied behind its back.”

Sri Lankan Candidate Comes Out Against Crown

Mithripala Sirisena, who is running for president of Sri Lanka against incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa, has pledged to cancel a casino license given to Crown Resorts Ltd. if he wins the vote. The election is January 8.

Canada Considers Single Sports Event Wagering

The Canadian Senate will review Bill C290, which would legalize betting on single sporting events. Currently Canadians only are allowed to bet on several sports events at a time through parlay bets or pools. The Association of U.S. Pro Leagues, including the NHL, NBA, NFL and MLF, is expected to challenge the legislation.

Measure Would Allow Taller St. Croix Casinos

U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John deJongh Jr. (l.) is considering a bill to allow casinos to reach eight stories instead of the currently allowed six. Casino Control Commission member Violet Ann Golden noted Puerto Rico allows 30-story casinos and said only the Virgin Islands has leadership "hell bent on keeping our zoning laws so conservative."

Fung Buys Casino Canberra

The sale of the struggling Casino Canberra became final in December. Hong Kong billionaire Tony Fung’s Aquis Canberra will pay up to AUS$6 million (US$4.9 million) for the property and gaming license, according to reports.

Locals Ask Province To Stop Gaming Expansion

Officials in Scugog, Ontario have asked provincial leaders to not allow gambling beyond the Great Blue Heron casino, owned by the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. They said expanded gambling would harm the Great Blue Heron, which has generated $25 million for the local and regional economies and employs 1,100 people.


Ruddock: Research Showing Online Gambling Doesn’t Create Problem Gamers columnist Steve Ruddock has listed three studies that show that online gaming is not leading to an increase in problem gambling. Ruddock acknowledges that online gaming is still relatively new and much more study is needed, but so far critics of online gambling are being proven wrong.

Russia Considers Online Poker Ban

A bill outlawing the playing of online poker in Russia has been passed by the country’s lower house. Online poker play would be allowed in four designated areas, but outside those areas, online players could face serious fines as well as jail time.

EU Streamlines Online Gambling Rules

The European Gaming & Betting Association announced a deal between European Union states to simplify online gambling rules under a new EU directive.

Isle of Man Gives Online Gambling Sites Relief

Isle of Man-based online gambling sites will get some relief from the island as they face Britain’s new point of consumption tax. The British dependency has offered relief from paying taxes twice to it 56 licensed gambling operators.

Microgaming Introduces Casino App

Microgaming has released what is being called the first real-money casino app on the Windows Phone Store. The app features over 35 of Microgaming’s premium games, including online slots, progressives, table games and video poker.

Pala Interactive Expanding Into New Jersey

A Southern California gaming giant, Pala, has entered the interactive online gaming market in New Jersey with Pala Interactive. It has plans to enter the market in other states as they become available.


Philly License Challenged

Philadelphia casino SugarHouse and Tower Entertainment, a losing bidder for the city’s second license, have challenged the gaming board’s decision to award the license to Live! Hotel and Casino (l.).

New Jersey Lawmakers Debate New Casino Referendum

A referendum to go before New Jersey voters to expand casino gambling seems likely for November, but exactly where those casinos would be located is being contested hotly in the state legislature. The main candidates are Jersey City, the Meadowlands and Newark. Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop (l.) says his city is closest to the action.

2015 Set for Big Changes on Las Vegas Strip

Last year saw big changes on the strip, including The Sahara and Bill's Gamblin' Hall re-branded as SLS Las Vegas and The Cromwell, respectively. Vegas also welcomed in the game-changing Linq, featuring the mammoth High Roller Ferris wheel, largest in the world. As entrepreneurs move forward, 2015 is set to be just as impressive, with the completion of the Grand Bazaar Shops (l.) set for the early part of the year.

Massachusetts Town Continues Legal Challenge to Wynn Casino

With MGM Springfield planning too break ground in a few months, the town of Revere continues to try to prevent Wynn Resorts from doing the same in Everett, doubling down on its legal challenge to the gaming giant, based on reports that it is being investigated for money laundering.

Kansas Extends Southeast Casino Deadline

Developers interested in opening a state-owned casino in Kansas' southeast gaming zone now have until January 30 to file an application. The Kansas Lottery moved the deadline from December 19 to give new review board members more time to become acclimated. To date, three developers have expressed interest.

End of an Era for Las Vegas Law Firm

After 47 years, prominent Las Vegas-based law firm Lionel Sawyer & Collins will dissolve. Sam Lionel, 95, (l.) opened the practice with former Nevada Governor Grant Sawyer, and became one of the first Law Vegas law firms to open an office in Reno. Nine of the 35 total lawyers, including Lionel, will add to the staggering numbers of giant law firm Fennemore Craig.

Court Rules Free Play Can't Be Taxed

Promotional free play at Deadwood casinos cannot be taxed, according to a recent ruling by the South Dakota Supreme Court. Deadwood casinos have fought free play taxation since it began five years ago. Locally, monthly free play represents 8 percent of play in small casinos to 25 percent in larger establishments.

New Orleans Considers Smoking Ban

If the New Orleans city council passes a ban on smoking in public places, $104 million in revenues and state fees could be lost over two years, according to the Louisiana State Police, which oversees gambling in the state. The ban would impact Harrah's casino, a horserace track and several video poker establishments.

Indiana Considering Casino Changes

To proposals endorsed by subcommittee of the Indiana House Public Policy Committee could become law in the upcoming session. One would allow live dealers to replace computerized table games. Another would permit casinos to move from water to land. Governor Mike Pence (l.) agreed the proposals would not expand gambling, which he opposes.

Auditor to Scrutinize Pennsylvania Board

The Pennsylvania auditor general will review the operations of the state gaming board to determine if operational efficiency allows the maximum revenue to the state.

MGM Moves Forward, Harmon Mess Now Behind

MGM Resorts is set to pay a $173 million settlement to general contractor Tutor Perini Corp. over the defective Harmon Tower planned at CityCenter. The settlement allows MGM to move forward with highly anticipated projects in the works. With MGM Resorts owning 50 percent of CityCenter, they may be able to recoup $88 million additionally.

NBA Commissioner Proposes Working with Christie to Legalize Sports Betting

Despite the fact that the NBA is currently fighting New Jersey in court on the state’s plan to offer sports betting, league commissioner Adam Silver (l.) said he would join with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to work to left a federal ban and regulate sports betting. Silver has broken from the other professional leagues by calling for regulated sports betting.

Kentucky Targets Internet Cafes

A bill pre-filed in the Kentucky Senate is designed to clear up ambiguity concerning internet cafes, specifically making the operations illegal.

Las Vegas Thrilled With 2014 Tourism Numbers

While the December numbers have not been tallied yet, Las Vegas is predicted to have set all-time records in 2014. With an estimated 340,000 hitting Vegas to ring in the new year, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority are hesitantly throwing out a figure of 41 million visitors for 2014. Even if the 41 million mark isn't hit, 2014 will assuredly surpass the previous record of 39.7 million visitors set just one year before in 2013.

New York and Atlantic City Casinos Brace for Increased Competition

With profits continuing to drop in Atlantic City, another blow will come in 2016 in the form of three New York casinos. New Jersey may look to expand gaming beyond Atlantic City in hopes of cushioning the blow. Local New York casinos are also looking for ways to counteract the eventual stiff competition.

Atlantic City Gets Tax Relief, Help For Neighborhoods

Atlantic City has struck a deal with Wells Fargo to sell a major tax lien on the closed Revel casino, the city’s mayor said. The $32 million lien did not initially sell at auction. The city will receive $26 million for the lien. And a bill that would help homeowners and businessmen, as well as casinos, has been introduced.


Cowlitz Ruling Could Set New Indian Gaming Precedent

In La Center, Washington, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe has been approved to build a casino after more than a decade of legal battles. Cowlitz Chairman Bill Iyall (l.) says the tribe is in its homeland and deserves to be granted a permit to build a casino.

Shinnecocks Look to Seminoles for Assistance

The star-crossed Shinnecock Nation of New York has turned to another supporter for assistance, the Seminole tribe, which dominates Florida’s gaming industry. The Shinnecocks want to build a casino on Long Island. The tribe split with previous benefactor, Michael Malik in 2012.

Walker's Kenosha Casino Decision Coming

In just a few weeks, the world will know if Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (l.) approved the Menominee Tribe's proposed $810 million off-reservation in Kenosha. Prior to the February 19 deadline, Walker must balance job creation with the possibility of the state owing millions to the Forest County Potawatomi tribe.

Four Winds Announces Satellite Casino

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians announced it will open a satellite casino in August, located between Kalamazoo and the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan. The satellite facility will offer 500 slots and nine table games, a restaurant and bar.

Congress Fails to Block Arizona Casino

Opponents of the Glendale, Arizona casino being built by the Tohono O’odham Nation failed to pass a bill through the 113th Congress that would have halted the casino from opening. Now they are pinning their hopes on the 114th Congress, which will be ruled by Republicans. Tonoho Chairman Ned Norris Jr. (l.) said it is time to move on.

Tribe Wins Duluth Lawsuit Dismissal

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa recently won another victory over the city of Duluth which had sought to block the expansion of the tribe's Fond-du-Luth Casino. U.S District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled the tribe did not need the city's approval to have the Carter Hotel, owned by the tribe, taken into federal trust.

Connecticut Tribe Anticipates Massachusetts Competition

The Mohegan Tribe, which operates the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, wants to open another gaming facility to protect the economy from competition, in the form of MGM Resorts International's $800 million casino, opening in 2017 in Springfield, Massachusetts. But so far Connecticut lawmakers are not too concerned about potential revenue losses.

Court Won't Reconsider Broken Arrow Ruling

In a blow to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied his request to reconsider its ruling overturning a district judge's May 2012 decision to halt construction at the Kialegee Tribal Town’s Broken Arrow casino. Pruitt claims the National Indian Gaming Commission declared the parcel was ineligible for gaming.

Administration Encourages Tribes to Grow Pot on Reservations

The Obama Justice Department is extending the same courtesy to tribal reservations that it currently gives to states when it comes to enforcement of federal drug laws, and is opening up a can of worms that many Indian tribes would prefer remain closed.


Rochanne Hackett, NIGA Board Member, Dies

National Indian Gaming Association board member and associate member representative Rochanne Hackett died December 17. Serving 30 years in the financial industry, the last 15 as senior vice president and director of gaming development at Wells Fargo Bank, Hackett helped provide more than $10 billion in capital for 30 tribes and commercial gaming companies.


Agilysys Announces User Conference

Agilysys has announced that its Agilysys Inspire User Conference and Executive Summit 2015 will be held February 23-25 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California.

All's Quiet In Michigan Gaming Lab

The Gaming Control Board Lab in Detroit, Michigan is staffed by five engineers who test slots and other games for compliance with state standards before they're installed in the city's three casinos. The lab resembles a mini-casino except it's so quiet employees can hear the ventilation fans.


Mexican Gaming Fair to Reconvene

ELA: The Mexican Gaming Fair, will reboot in May in either Mexico City or Cancun, following the passage of the country’s new gaming law.

‘Zitro Revolution’ Planned for ICE

Zitro will introduce community games and new bingo titles in a collection called “Zitro Revolution” at the ICE Totally Gaming trade show in London.




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