Walker Rejects Wisconsin Casino

Governor Scott Walker last week refused to approve an off-reservation Kenosha casino that would have been owned by the Menominee Tribe and operated by Hard Rock International. While the Menominees offered to cover losses suffered by the Forest County Potawatomi at its Milwaukee casino, Walker concluded that a Kenosha casino would leave the state vulnerable to hundreds of millions of dollars in payments should it be approved.

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WEEKLY FEATURE: State Takes Over Atlantic City

Saying he can’t wait any longer, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (l.) appointed a special emergency management team to oversee Atlantic City’s troubled municipal finances and operations. The city has seen a drastic drop in casino tax ratables as gambling revenue continues to drop in the resort and is facing a massive budget shortfall. However, officials stopped short of calling the move a state takeover of the city.

South Korea Adding More Casinos

The South Korean government is preparing to license two more foreigners-only casinos and also add some 5,000 new hotel rooms. The move could increase tourism investment by about KRW3.5 trillion (US$3.25 billion), says Deputy Finance Minister Jeong Eun-bo. The casino at the Hyatt Regency Jeju Hotel (l.) is operated by Genting.

Judge Hands Setback to Caesars

Caesars Entertainment’s plan to restructure the largest portion of its $25 billion in debt could be derailed by Judge Shira Scheindlin’s (l.) ruling in a lawsuit by lower-level creditors. Experts expect “long, drawn-out process.”

Second California Online Poker Bill Submitted

A second bill to legalize online poker was introduced last week by Democrat Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer (l.). Unlike the first bill, authored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, the new bill includes the racetracks, added to the state tribes and cardrooms.

Wynn’s New Casino Plan for Massachusetts Looks Familiar

Wynn Resorts, which promised a new, less mundane casino design for Everett, Massachusetts, released those plans last week, looking very much like the Las Vegas and Macau casinos of the same name. At the same time its erstwhile rival for the Boston metro license, the Mohegan Sun, joined a lawsuit to take that casino license away.

Baha Mar to Open in March

The largest casino-resort project in the Caribbean announced plans to open three of its four planned luxury hotels in late March, ahead of a May grand opening. The opening means the hotel will miss the winter “high season” but will allow operators to be more organized for the next one, says Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchombe (l.).

Bill Reintroduced to Kill Glendale, Arizona Casino

Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona have reintroduced a bill that would prevent the Tohono O’odham Nation from opening a casino in Glendale. Similar bills have failed in the past and there is little reason to think this bill will fare any better.

FANTINI’S FINANCE: Regional Roundup

A profitable December has ramped up hopes that the regional casino companies will report good earnings for the fourth quarter and for the year. Will that lead to a bull market in this segment?


Junket Firms Exiting Macau

The David Group, one of the Top 10 junket operators in Macau, will close down three of its seven VIP rooms in the gaming hub. David Group locations are a favorite destination of high rollers; the company’s rooms at the Venetian and City of Dreams (l.) closed late last year.

Russia’s Primorye Takes on Macau

With more than $1 billion in investments promised by international gaming companies, the Primorye region of Russia hopes to rival Macau as a casino destination. A new casino resort (l.) operated by the First Gambling Company of the East is set to open later this year.

Macau Operators Could See Tax Hike

Casino companies that do business in Macau may be looking at a spike in their tax rate. Macau casinos now pay a tax rate of 39 percent on gross gaming revenue; that could rise after the government conducts a “mid-term review.”

Vietnam OKs Phu Quoc Casino; Inches Toward Dropping Locals Ban

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved plans for a casino complex at Phu Quoc Island (l.), the country’s largest island. Officials in the southern province of Kiên Giang will field bids and oversee the project; a minimum investment of US$4 billion is required. So far, no investors are biting.

Nepal OKs New Casino Operator

The government of Nepal will issue a special license to Hong Kong-based gaming operator Silver Heritage Ltd. to run the Shangri-La Casino (l.), located at the Shangri-La Hotel & Resort in Kathmandu. The casino was previously operated by Star Management.

Chinese Government: UnionPay Is Small Potatoes

Reports that Mainland China is monitoring UnionPay debit cards as part of its crackdown on money laundering in Macau may be overstated, say some analysts. For one thing, high rollers typically don’t use debit cards to move money.

Singapore Considering Group Self-Exclusions

The Singapore ministry has asked the National Council on Problem Gambling to consider several options regarding casino self-exclusions, including allowing religious groups to apply. Minister Denise Phua also has suggested that all citizens be banned from entering a casino unless they apply to enter.

Labor Has Upper Hand in Macau

Macau’s gaming industry is growing and shrinking at the same time. Though a crackdown by the Chinese government has caused high rollers to flee and revenues to plummet, the openings of Studio City, Galaxy Macau Phase II and three other resorts could send labor costs into overdrive.

Chinese Lawmaker Pushes Full Smoking Ban

Speaking on behalf of the Federation of Trade Unions, Chinese legislator Ella Lei Cheng I warned that the historic drop in gaming revenues in Macau could hamper efforts to completely ban smoking in the city’s casinos.

Local Operator Possible in Macau

When it comes to new casino concessionaires, the government of Macau might look for an operator closer to home. A new report says the gaming enclave may want a local entity to compete with overseas operators who dominate the destination.

Ho Facing Prison Time

Alan Ho, nephew of SJM Holdings Chairman Stanley Ho and a suspect in a prostitution sweep in Macau, is likely to spend the Chinese New Year behind bars, according to media reports. More than 100 people were arrested in connection with an alleged prostitution ring at the Hotel Lisboa.


Olympic Casino Coming to Malta

Eden Leisure has signed a management agreement with Olympic Casino to operate Malta’s biggest casino. The gaming arm of Olympic Entertainment and Chairman Armen Karu (l.) is a leading provider of gaming services in the Baltic states and operates casinos in Poland, Slovakia, Belarus and Italy.


Illegal Slots in Mexico?

An industry executive claims up to 15 percent of the slot machines in Mexico are uncertified, outdated and otherwise sub-par. AGEM Mexico President Carlos Carrion says about 13,5000 of the country’s 90,000 machines are questionable, which raises the risk of piracy.


Online Gambling Revenue Bounces Back In New Jersey

Online gambling revenue in New Jersey was up 22.8 percent in December to $10.7 million after hitting an all-time low of $8.74 million in November. Revenues increased for both online casino games and online poker. The increase stops a three-month decline in online revenue. Experts say a deal sharing players between WSOP.com and 888.com helped.

New York To Test Online Gambling Bill

After two online gambling bills in 2014 both failed to pass in New York, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow isn't giving up hope. While the odds are tremendously stacked against him, Pretlow has suggested a bill will more than likely be introduced this year. MGM created a campaign last year called Let NY Play, with the intent of convincing lawmakers and the public alike to allow online gambling in the state.

Fantasy Sports Betting is a Felony in Washington

Betting on a fantasy football game in Washington state is technically a felony, although no one has ever been prosecuted under the law. Nevertheless, a lawmaker wants to “free the masses,” from the law.

NCLGS Adopts Framework for Online Gaming

The National Council of Legislators from Gaming States has adopted a Policy Framework for Internet Gambling. The framework is seen as a model for states considering legalizing online gaming, but also calls for penalties for illegal sites.

David Baazov: Amaya Welcomes Investigation, Regulations

Amaya CEO David Baazov (l.), speaking to Canada’s Business News Network, said the company expected an investigation from securities regulators in Quebec and is cooperating with the investigation. In the wide-ranging interview he also said that they welcome new regulations and that the company is making money despite not having launched yet in the U.S. market.

South Africa Toughens on Online Gambling

Despite reports that the South African government may consider legalizing online gambling in the country, the South African Department of Trade reaffirmed the country’s general ban on internet gaming and denied any move to legalize it. The report comes after a new online gambling bill is expected to go before the country’s parliament.

Mississippi Online Gaming Bill Considered

Details on an iGaming bill introduced by Rep. Bobby Moak focused on regulation and law enforcement, along with penalties for Mississippi players caught gambling on illegal iGaming sites.


Owner Willing to Shell Out for New York Casino License

Tioga Downs owner Jeff Gural (l.) seems dead set on being granted the fourth casino license in New York which may or may not be awarded. After Tioga Downs was initially rejected, Gural has become committed to spending whatever it may take to eventually win the prize. Meanwhile, opposition from a powerful senator will not help a fourth license.

Blatstein Withdraws Philly Appeal

Bart Blatstein, whose bid to create the Provence (l.) as Philadelphia’s second casino was rejected in favor of the Live! Casino Hotel, has withdrawn his appeal of the gaming board’s decision because he’s got buyers interested in the property where the casino would have been located.

Delaware Panel Recommends Casino Aid

A Delaware panel of government officials and lawmakers is recommending tax breaks and rule changes that would return $46 million annually to the state’s struggling racinos. The proposal was presented by state Senator Brian Bushweller (l.), whose district includes Dover Downs.

Illinois To Consider Gambling Bill—Again

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (l.) is considered to be more gambling-friendly than his predecessor Pat Quinn, so legislators will try once again to pass expanded gambling legislation, including allowing slots at horse racetracks and building five new casinos in Lake County, Chicago, Rockford, Danville and the south suburbs.

Judge Allows Revel Sale to Continue

A federal judge has allowed the sale of Atlantic City's closed Revel casino to a Florida developer to proceed despite challenges from some of the casino’s tenants and its main power supplier. Glen Straub, the buyer, had threatened to walk away from the purchase if the challenge was upheld, but the judge ruled that the sale would not irreparably harm the tenants.

Illegal Super Bowl Betting to Exceed $3.8 Billion

The American Gaming Association used the occasion of the upcoming Super Bowl to push for legalized sports betting by releasing its first estimate of illegal wagering on the event. And two New Jersey Congressmen, including Rep. Frank LoBiondo (l.), have introduced a bill to legalize sports betting nationwide.

Former California Gaming Cop Accused of Conflict

The former head of an agency that regulates gaming in California, Robert E. Lytle (l.), has been accused of violating the state’s conflict of interest laws after he set up a gaming consultation firm.

New Jersey Racing Group Blasts Leagues in Sports Betting Case

The New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association has filed a brief in the state’s court bid to allow sports betting that criticizes the pro sports leagues for supporting fantasy sports betting while opposing the state’s right to offer sports betting at racetracks and casinos. The brief argues that the leagues are hypocrites and have “unclean hands” in trying to block sports betting.

Nebraska: Game Of Skill Or Chance?

Poker would be considered a game of skill, not chance, and therefore be legalized in Nebraska if state Rep. Tyler Larson's bill is approved. Larson, 28, the legislature's youngest member when elected in 2010, also offered bills allowing bars to stay open 24/7 and eliminating the required 5-minute break between keno games.

Atlantic City’s Cabs Disappearing

Atlantic City has seen four casinos close in 2014 and more may follow. The closings left a glut of taxicabs, limos and other forms of public transportation with fewer and fewer customers to serve. The city is now planning to revamp its taxi regulations as more and more drivers abandon the city.

Candidates Debate In Gaming States

As Republican presidential candidates debate during the primary season in Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa and Florida, the American Gaming Association plans to spread the word that the gaming industry in those states generates $60 billion in economic impact, delivers $10 billion in taxes and provides 473,500 jobs.

Bill Would Give Headliners Tax Break in A.C.

A bill has been proposed in New Jersey that would exempt performers who play Atlantic City from income tax payments. The bill would give performers a break at all New Jersey venues provided they play shows in the resort.

Rhode Island Casino Seeks to Add Hotel

Twin River Casino in Rhode Island says its needs a hotel in order to have a chance of competing against the big casino resorts that are in the works for neighboring states. Casino chairman John E. Taylor says his company plans to ask the legislature to lift the ban on the casino operating a hotel.

Indiana Legislators File Diverse Gambling Bills

Indiana state Rep. Tom Dermody's legislation would allow live dealers at racinos and permit riverboat casinos to move onto land. State Rep. Todd Huston filed a measure essentially deregulating casinos. And State Rep. Alan Morrison introduced bills that would allow sports betting at casinos, racinos and off-track betting locations and fantasy sports games at racinos.

Hoover Dam Lodge Remodel Moving Forward

In Boulder City, the former Hacienda has been re-branded as the Hoover Dam Lodge, and is scheduled for completion this spring. The property was purchased by Nevada Restaurant Services Inc., the parent company to Dotty's, and has quite a bit in store for locals and tourists alike.

New Orleans, Iowa Consider Smoking Bans

A potentially brutal smoking ban could decrease gaming revenues by as much as 20 percent at Harrah’s New Orleans as the city council approved a bill that would eliminate smoking in three months. In Iowa, a bill has been introduced that will add casinos to the state’s public spaces smoking ban.

Local Opposition to Long Island Casino Grows

Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. are currently in talks to purchase the vacant 200,000 square-foot Fortunoff building on Old Country Road, with the intention of using the building for gaming. 15 percent of the building would be used for gaming, with the rest used for restaurants and shopping. A recent gathering at a local high school took place in which residents strongly opposed the notion.

Tropicana Atlantic City $35 Million Renovation Approved

The New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has approved a $35 million renovation and facelift of Atlantic City’s Tropicana Casino Resort. The centerpiece of the project is the transformation of Tropicana’s Boardwalk facade into an interactive light and sound display.

Sports Book Operators Eye Olympic Wagering

Nevada has not legally allowed wagering on the Olympics since a trial run in the early 1990's. Several local sports book operators recently held a workshop with the Nevada Gaming Control Board to discuss the issue of legalizing wagering on both the Olympics, and contests where the winner is determined by judges, such as American Idol, or the Heisman Trophy.

2014 Mississippi Revenue Down 3 Percent

Over the past decade, Mississippi dropped from the third to the sixth largest casino market in the U.S. But gaming commission Executive Director Allen Godfrey said the market remains strong. Coastal casinos posted a 1 percent increase for 2014 with $1.08 billion in casino revenue versus $1.07 billion in 2013.

Alabama Gambling Enforcement Funds Limited

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (l.) recently told state Attorney General Luther Strange the state has limited funds to help Strange in his aggressive fight against electronic bingo. Bentley said the state constitution says the attorney general is responsible for the impeachment of law enforcement officials who engage in “willful neglect of duty.”

Las Vegas NHL Team a Growing Possibility

Next month will be the time for the people of Las Vegas to show just how bad they want an NHL team. Billionaire Bill Foley and the Maloof brothers have teamed together, among others, as a potential ownership group for a hockey franchise, but still need to prove to the NHL that the plan could work.

Atlantic City Taj Mahal Hearing Delayed

Billionaire Carl Icahn’s quest to take over the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City has been delayed two weeks to give the casino’s debtors more time to review the bailout plan.

Three Gaming Bills Before South Dakota Senate

South Dakota lawmakers will consider three measures concerning Deadwood gambling. Senate Bill 56 would provide guidelines for gaming tax calculations. Senate Bill 57 officially would allow keno, craps and roulette in Deadwood casinos. Senate Bill 58 would address gaming commission issues and raise penalties for Deadwood gambling lawbreakers.

Instant Racing in Idaho to be Investigated

Instant-racing machines, which have been around since 2013 in Idaho, will be investigated by detectives and local experts. Local Indian tribes claim the horse racing industry mislead Idaho lawmakers as to what exactly the machines were, which the tribes claim are nothing more than themed slot machines. Local racetracks, however, consider the machines a form a pari-mutuel wagering. The Wyoming Supreme Court ruled against the machines in 2003.

Las Vegas Conventions Strong in January

January tends to be the biggest month for conventions in Southern Nevada, and this year is no exception. After a record 170,000 people attended the Consumer Electronics Show, last week saw 20 events roll into town, with attendances ranging from 75 to 67,000 people. The largest of them was the annual Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) show.

Lucas Introduces Virginia Casino Bill

Virginia state Senator Louise Lucas (l.) is back with a casino measure similar to one she pulled last year. SB716 would establish a state casino gaming commission and allow gambling in localities where at least 40 percent of the land is exempt from local property taxes—meaning Lucas' home base of Portsmouth.


Renew Seminole Compact Or Allow Casino-Resorts?

With a budget surplus, Florida Governor Rick Scott and state lawmakers may not be so quick to renew certain Seminole compact provisions, set to expire July 31. Although the tribe gives the state $116 million annually for exclusive rights, casino-resorts in Miami and Tampa (l.) may be more tempting.

California Tribal Faction Requests Court Intervention

Because some members of the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians in California are not being paid their monthly allotments, one of three factions vying to control the tribe have requested that a federal judge appoint a receiver to make the payments.


Hairston Leaving Mississippi Gaming Commission

Chairman of the Mississippi Gaming Commission John Hairston will leave the board January 31, earlier than the official end of this term in October. Hairston recently was named president and chief executive officer at Hancock Holding Company. Governor Phil Bryant is expected to name a replacement before Hairston leaves.

Penn Names Chris Sheffield VP of iGaming

Penn National Gaming has created a new position, senior vice president managing director iGaming, and invited Chris Sheffield, formerly of Betfred n the UK, to fill it.

IAGA Names Clark Executive Director

The International Association of Gaming Advisors has named former longtime SHFL gaming supplier executive Kirsten Clark as its new executive director.

EveryMatrix Names CFO

EveryMatrix has named Diane Dalli, a veteran of financial management in the online gaming sector, as chief financial officer.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Elects Hicks

Louis Hicks has been elected second chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, defeating former Principal Chief A. D. Ellis in a special election. Hicks received 2,010 votes and Ellis received 1,070. Principal Chief George Tiger said, “The citizens have spoken and indicated support for the continued progressive direction of this administration."


Summit Ascent Buys EGMs for Russian Casino

A subsidiary of Summit Ascent Holdings Ltd, owned by Macau casino investor Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, has agreed to buy electronic gaming machines for a casino project in Russia. First Gambling Company of the East is buying 300 EGMS for its casino, which is set to open in May.


Stevens to Deliver ICE Keynote

National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernest Stevens Jr. will deliver a keynote address at the ICE Totally Gaming trade show.

GLI to Highlight Services at ICE

Gaming Laboratories International will highlight its many services beyond gaming testing at its stand at the ICE Totally Gaming trade show.

IAGA to Sponsor WrB

The International Association of Gaming Advisors will sponsor the 2015 World Regulatory Briefing February 3 at the ICT Totally Gaming trade show.

Aristocrat Highlights ICE Lineup

Aristocrat Technologies will highlight its “Wonder Wheels” dual-seat immersive game in its lineup of products at the ICE Totally Gaming trade show.




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