Lights, Camera… Action!

Melco Crown Entertainment opened its $3.2 billion Studio City on Macau’s Cotai Strip last week to rave reviews. Though a government crackdown on corruption hasn’t helped the VIP segment, Lawrence Ho and James Packer (left with director Bret Ratner) are betting on the mass market by introducing a property built around entertainment.

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WEEKLY FEATURE: The Path Forward for DFS

The current attacks on daily fantasy sports have been withering. From the moment the Nevada Gaming Control Board declared DFS as “gambling,” other states have launched investigations. But two savvy gaming observers, David Waddell (l.) and Dustin M. Ford, have developed some consumer and society protection principles for the fantasy sports industry that will allow DFS to survive the storm and emerge healthy and prosperous.

The MGM REIT: Reduce Debt, Raise Value

MGM Resorts last week announced that it was forming a REIT to house 10 of its properties, including Mandalay Bay (l.) in Las Vegas. The new company would then lease those properties back to MGM. The news is just the latest in a trend that has seen other casino companies doing the same.

20-Year Texas-Tribe Dispute Resolved

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe has regained the right to offer Class II bingo gaming at its Speaking Rock Casino (l.) near Livingston, Texas, following a recent Interior Department ruling. The National Indian Gaming Commission will regulate the operation. Tigua Governor Carlos Hisa said the tribal council now will be able to plan ahead for the community.

Baha Mar Lays Off 2,000, But Gets Lifeline

Baha Mar Resort Ltd. has laid off all 2,000 of its employees, but owner Sarkis Izmirlian (l.) has been given three more weeks to stave off liquidation. Should the liquidation process begin, it could be years before the resort’s fate will be sealed.

Mohegan Eyes South Korea

Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority has submitted a $5 billion bid to build a foreigners-only integrated resort on South Korea’s Yeongjong Island. MTGA President Bobby Soper (l.) believes the facility’s ace in the hole is its location, the thriving Incheon International Airport.

Daily Fantasy Sports to Create Control Board

With daily fantasy sports sites under intense scrutiny from both federal and several state authorities, the industry announced it will set up an outside control board led by former Labor Department official Seth Harris (l.) to set ethical standards for DFS sites. The board would monitor daily and non-daily fantasy sites. Calls for government regulation of the industry continue, however, and Illinois even introduced legislation to regulate the industry in that state.

Macau Regulator Plans Exit

After 18 years on the job, Macau gaming regulator Manuel Joaquim das Neves (l.) has announced he will leave his position by the end of November. Neves informed local media he is leaving to spend more time with his family.

FANTINI’S FINANCE: A Sporting Chance

The investment of several NBA team owners in a company that provides data to the sports betting industry demonstrates how far we’ve come in the possible legalization of the wager in the U.S. And against the backdrop of the looming fantasy sports scandal, a big change could come soon.


More Junket Closures?

Several junket operators in Macau will reportedly close their doors due to the loss of VIP business in the territory. Dore Entertainment is closing one of three rooms at the Wynn Macau (l.); Jimei International has also reportedly closed one of its rooms at Wynn.

Cambodia, Macau Add Air Service

The governments of Cambodia and Macau have agreed to add direct flights from Phnom Penh to bring the Chinese SAR. Charter flights are currently the only way to fly nonstop between the destinations.

Best Sunshine Plans Saipan Casino

Best Sunshine International continues to plan a $7.1 billion integrated resort on Saipan in the Marianas Islands. Though voters on Saipan have twice voted against casinos, in March the legislature passed a gaming bill to bring new industry to the vicinity.

Tigre Hotel Booked Solid through ‘15

The five-star hotel at Tigre de Cristal, the new casino resort in Russia’s Primorye economic zone, is fully booked through the New Year, according to media reports. The resort does not officially open until November 11.

‘Pleasing’ VIP Turnover at Star Vegas

Donaco International Ltd.’s Star Vegas casino in Poipet, Cambodia, saw VIP rolling chip turnover rise 43 percent year-on-year for the first quarter of its financial year. Needless to add, “business is on track,” reported the company.

Cash and Carry at Sands China?

Macau gaming associations say Sands China Ltd. has ordered slot machine workers to carry cash so they can distribute immediate dividends to gamblers. Opponents of the reported policy say workers are afraid they will be responsible for losses.


Storm International Looks at Ukraine

Darren Keane (l.), CEO of global gaming operator Storm International, says the company is considering investing in the Ukraine if the proper legislation, licensing and the tax rates are implemented by the government.

Fewer Betting Shops in Scotland

As big bookmakers consolidate and move online, smaller high street betting shops are being pushed out, according to a new report. But the industry in the UK is bigger than ever; 65 percent of adults in Scotland and England have played in the past year.

Caledonia Says ‘Bingo!’

Caledonia Investments Plc has announced it will buy Gala Bingo Holdings Ltd. from Gala Coral for ₤241 million (US $369.24 million). Gala Bingo is the UK’s largest retail bingo operator.


Crown Cuts Casino in Half

Crown Resorts wants to scale down its planned VIP casino in Sydney. The new plan calls for a gaming floor that is half the size of the one originally proposed, but still substantial at 6,800 square meters (about 73,000 square feet). The rest of the project (l.) has not been changed.

Canada to Consider Full Sports Betting

With a new liberal government about to take control of Canada’s government, NDP MP Brian Masse (l.) say they plan to revive a measure to legalize single-game sports betting in Canada. Provincial lotteries currently are the only Canadian entities that legally can offer sports-betting wagers, but many lawmakers want casinos to have the option, too.

‘Sting’ Stokes Pokie Battle in New Zealand

Following an undercover news report on compulsive gambling, New Zealand’s Green Party has more ammo to fight additional pokie machines at SkyCity Entertainment. Gambling foes are preparing a suit against the whole pokie industry.


Switzerland To Legalize Online Gambling

Lawmakers in Switzerland are reportedly considering the legalization of some forms of online gambling. The legislation, however, would not go into effect until 2019, but a ban on online play has been repealed.

Russia Blocks Online Gambling Domains

In its continuing moves to block online gambling in the country, Russian officials from Roskomnadzor, the federal agency that oversees the media, have been seizing online gambling domains. More than a dozen gaming and sports betting sites were taken offline.

Software Detects Potential Gambling Problems

Researchers at BetBuddy gaming analytics firm and City University London are perfecting software that can detect early signs of online gambling addiction, so players can consider their habits or even self-exclude. The software compares gamblers' data to that collected from addicts who later self-excluded.

Nova Scotia Studies Online Gambling

Online gambling currently is not regulated in Nova Scotia but in anticipation of that, the Nova Scotia Provincial Lotteries and Casino Corporation commissioned a poll to gain a better understanding of how many and how often Nova Scotians play online poker and other popular casino games.

GLI to Test for Isle of Man

GLI has gained accreditation as an approved online gaming testing facility by the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission.

GeoComply Launches Suite of DFS Services

GeoComply USA’s new Solus software package will provide geolocation, anti-fraud and operation solutions for operators of daily fantasy sports programs. GeoComply’s Anna Sainsbury (l.) says the package is designed specifically for DFS.

Nektan, NetEnt Sign Licensing Agreement

Under a recently signed agreement, Nektan's mobile real-money gaming partners will have access to NetEnt's portfolio of more than 40 mobile online casino games, starting next month, including "Starburst," "Gonzo's Quest," "South Park" and more.

PartyPoker and 76ers End Sponsorship

PartyPoker has pulled out of its sponsorship deal with the Philadelphia 76ers. The move wasn’t explained, but analysts speculate the site’s owner GVC Holdings backed out as online poker still has not been legalized in Pennsylvania.

European Court Advocate General Criticizes German Online Gambling Laws

The European Court of Justice Advocate General criticized Germany’s online gambling laws saying that the country’s law should be non-discriminatory and comply with European Union laws. Germany’s laws have been under fire in the EU and courts have suspended the country’s granting of online licenses.

William Hill Australia’s ‘Click to Call’ Survives Scrutiny

The Australian Federal Police announced they will not investigate whether William Hill Australia’s “Click to Call” feature violates the country’s betting laws. William Hill officials said they stand by the feature, which allows for live play betting in sports contests.

Bitcoin Wins in EU Ruling

The European Union’s Court of Justice has ruled that under EU rules, virtual currencies like Bitcoin should be treated as currency, rather than a service which would be subject to a value-added tax. The ruling settles a case between Sweden and a Bitcoin exchange.

Contagious Gaming Purchases Digitote

Contagious Gaming has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase Digitote Limited and Digitote Software GmbH Deutschland for $7.2 million. Contagious Gaming develops technology solutions for international regulated gaming and lottery markets. Digitote offers customized software solutions for sports betting and racetracks.


Springfield Officials Not Happy With MGM

Alarmed by first the elimination of a 25-story hotel and then a downsizing of the entire project by 14 percent, Springfield, Massachusetts Mayor Domenic Sarno (l.) last week demanded to talk to top executive of MGM Resorts, which is planning an $800 casino resort in the city.

Caesars Unit For Sale; No Takers

Caesars Entertainment has placed its bankrupt main operating unit on the market, but key assets left out of the proposed sale have kept potential buyers away. Total Rewards, the industry leading loyalty program, is not part of the package.

Anti-Gambling Group Starts Florida Petition Drive

The anti-gambling group Voters In Charge in Florida has begun collecting 68,000-plus signatures to place a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot ensuring statewide voters—not lawmakers—approve future casinos. The group is led by John Sowinski, a familiar name in Florida anti-gambling efforts, who also heads Orlando-based No Casinos.

Vegas Faces Increased Competition for Conventions

Las Vegas faces strong competition from other trade show destinations that want to lure away some of the events that traditionally are held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Las Vegas is the world’s top destination for trade shows, and local officials have begun a $2.5 billion convention center improvement, but that might not stop some events from leaving.

Work Progresses on New York Casinos

Now that all four casino licenses have been granted, it’s time to get down to work. The proposed $155 million expansion of the Tioga Downs racino in Nichols, New York has started with a groundbreaking late last week (l.). The size of the proposed Montreign Resort Casino in the Catskills area of New York has grown from 80,000 square feet and 61 table games to 95,000 square feet and 102 gaming tables. And work got underway in October on a $15 million, 124-room Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Schenectady, which is located on a 60-acre parcel and next to...

Caesars Palace Renovates at 50

Iconic Caesars Palace turns 50 on August 5, 2016, and is undergoing a $75 million renovation of its Roman Tower, which Caesars has renamed the Julius Tower, in honor of former Roman General and Emperor Julius Caesar. The renovation of the tower’s 567 rooms (new décor at left) is the first in 15 years.

No Bidders, No Auction For Harrah's Tunica

Without any bidders, Caesars Entertainment Operating Corporation canceled its auction of the shuttered Harrah's Tunica Casino in Mississippi, which closed in June 2014 after being for sale for two years. The bankrupt operating group will ask a judge for permission to sell to TJM Properties, which earlier offered $3 million cash.

Upgrade for California’s ‘Bike’

One of California’s most successful card rooms, the Bicycle Casino near Los Angeles, will become the $50 million Bicycle Hotel & Casino (l.) with the opening of a seven-story hotel.

AGA Wants Candidates to Visit Casinos

After former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (l.) recently told a Nevada political reporter he doesn’t like gambling, the American Gaming Association urged Bush and other presidential candidates to visit Nevada casinos to learn more about the casino gaming industry and better understand its many substantial economic and social benefits for local communities and the states in which casinos are located.

Scarlet Pearl Among Coastal Upgrades

Scheduled to open December 9, the $300 million Scarlet Pearl Casino in D'Iberville will be the latest property jazzing up Mississippi's Gulf Coast. Several of the region's other 11 facilities have built hotel towers or renovated hotel rooms, opened new restaurants, upgraded golf courses or added dazzling light shows and other attractions.

Lago Casino Ad War Erupts

Largely led by the Oneida Nation of New York, which owns two Upstate casinos, an ad war has erupted in an effort to convince New York gaming regulators to deny a full casino license for the proposed $455 million Lago Resort & Casino in Tyre. Lago officials say the tribe is protecting a 20-year monopoly on gaming.

Deadwood Moving Beyond Gaming

Although casinos in Deadwood, South Dakota started offering keno, craps and roulette this summer, gaming tax revenue has been flat. To offer more than gaming and boost tourism, the city commissioned a revitalization plan to capitalize on its Gold-Rush history and place in popular culture.

Petition Drive Begins At Nebraska Racetracks

Patrons of Nebraska's five horse racetracks are being asked to sign petitions that would allow casino gambling at the facilities. Keep the Money in Nebraska aims to collect at least 113,900 signatures to let voters decide the issue. Spokesman Scott Lautenbaugh said Nebraska is losing $500 million annually to casinos in neighboring states.

Heating Plan for Revel Atlantic City

A plan to heat the closed Revel casino in Atlantic City has been submitted to the city. The closed casino has had numerous utility problems as its owners fight it out with the owners of the building’s power plant.

Illinois Budget Standoff Causing Ripple Effect

While Illinois remains without a budget, casino host towns, like Aurora, Des Plaines and Elgin, are struggling to finalize 2016 budgets and delaying infrastructure projects. In addition, lottery prizes of $600 or more are not being paid, causing players to try their luck in Indiana, Kentucky and Iowa.

Harrah's Biloxi Begins $14 Million Renovation

Building on the momentum of its 2014 upgrades, including casino expansion and new restaurants, Harrah's Gulf Coast Casino in East Biloxi will launch a $14 million renovation at its hotel tower next month. Rooms, lobbies, corridors, elevators, flooring, fixtures and more will be completely renovated, said General Manager Jonathan Jones.

Idaho Gov. Wants Instant Racing Terminals

Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter wants state officials to take another look at instant racing terminals, which allow bettors to wager of prior races. Idaho lawmakers banned the betting terminals over Otter’s veto, after the Idaho Supreme Court ruled Otter did not properly veto the measure and return it to the Idaho Assembly.

Natchez Hotel Opening In November

The former Isle of Capri Casino Hotel in Natchez, Mississippi will open as the new Magnolia Bluffs Hotel later than anticipated, in November. Recently sold for $11.5 million to Magnolia Bluffs Casino's parent, Casino Holdings Investment Company, the hotel requires more repairs than originally expected, the new owners said.

New Orleans Residents Support Smoking Ban

A New Orleans City Hall report showed 56 percent of residents favored the ban that took effect in April, and today 64 percent approve—but not Harrah's New Orleans Casino, which claims its revenue has fallen since the ban began. The casino wants permission to build two smoking courtyards with slots.

Third Ride-Hailing Firm for Nevada

Dallas-based ride-hailing firm GetMe is hiring 60 drivers for the Las Vegas market and would become the third ride-hailing service to start operations in Nevada. Competitors Uber and Lyft gained state regulatory approval to operate in Nevada, and Lyft is the first ride-hailing firm to begin legal pickup of airport passengers.


Seminoles Sue Despite ‘Significant Progress’ in Compact Talks

The Seminole compact provision allowing exclusive rights to blackjack in exchange for $1 billion over five years has expired. Although the tribe and Governor Rick Scott's administration have made "significant progress" toward a new deal, the tribe sued the state, and said it would continue to offer the games since the state breached the agreement.

Bill to Halt Arizona Casino Delayed

A bill in Congress that would prevent the $400 million Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Resort in Glendale, Arizona from opening has been pulled from a fast-track voice vote by sponsor Congressman Trent Franks (l.). The bill won’t be voted on now for at least a week.

Pamunkeys Fire Chief Who Questioned Gaming

Former Chief Kevin Brown accused other Pamunkey Tribe of Virginia leaders of trying to land a casino deal, which got him fired just before the tribe achieved federal recognition. Newly elected Chief Bob Gray said there's no casino agreement. Meanwhile, the Stand Up For California challenged the tribe's new status.

Arizona Tribes are a Major Employer

Arizona’s gaming tribes and their 23 casinos are the sixth largest employer in the state, larger even than McDonalds, according to a just published report.

Results of California Gaming Tribe Election Upheld

The recent tribal council election of the Chukchansi tribe of Northern California has been upheld despite a challenge by losing candidates. The next step, says the tribe, is reopening the closed Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino (l.).

Tribes Diversify For Economic Stability

In 2014, the nation's 459 tribal casinos in 28 states posted revenue growth of just 1.5 percent, which beat 2013's 0.5 percent increase. As a result, Nottawaseppi Tribal Chairman Homer A. Mandoka (l.), who depends on revenue from the tribe’s FireKeepers casino near Battle Creek, increasingly use casino revenue to finance new economic opportunities.

Mystic Lake Building Hotel, Convention Center

Ground will be broken next April for a new hotel tower and convention center at Mystic Lake Casino and Hotel in Prior Lake, Minnesota. Owned and operated by Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Gaming Enterprise, the project, to be completed by the end of 2017, will create 400 construction jobs and 100 permanent jobs.

Little Traverse Band Building Class II Casino

The Mackinaw Village Council did not approve a Class III casino with table games, so the Little Traverse Band of Odawa Indians is proceeding with a 5,000-square-foot Class II casino at a former water park site on Nicolet Street. The tribe plans a May opening of what would be the only Class II casino in Michigan.

No Plans for Grand Ronde Racetrack

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Oregon paid an undisclosed sum for a closed dog-racing track in Wood Village, and now the tribe wants ideas on how to incorporate it into a comprehensive business plan designed to diversify the tribe’s economic investments and interests. Gaming is an option, but only if it does not harm the Spirit Mountain Casino’s business.

BIA Announces New Rule on Secretarial Elections

The Department of the Interior has published new rules for Secretarial elections that allow for mail in balloting. This will keep tribal members who don’t choose to live on the reservation from being disenfranchised, says Kevin K. Washburn (l.), Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs.

California Tribe wins Overpayments Dispute with State

The state of California owes the Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians $32 million. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the state misled the tribe about how many slot machines it could legally possess, and thus owes them for the revenue it lost over a decade.


Texas, Delaware Lottery Execs Meet

Texas Lottery Commission Executive Director Gary Grief recently met with Delaware Lottery Director Vernon Kirk to discuss sports betting, online wagering and casino games--despite the opposition of conservative Texas leaders to expanded gambling, including Governor Greg Abbott. Lottery spokeswoman Kelly Cripe said the agency is "always considering new lottery games."


Freeman Named Top Lobbyist

The Washington, D.C., newspaper The Hill named AGA President and CEO Geoff Freeman as one of the top association lobbyists of 2015.

Pro Joins Nevada Gaming Commission

Former U.S. District Judge Philip Pro accepted an appointment to the Nevada Gaming Commission to fill a vacancy created when former Commissioner Pat Mulroy resigned to join the board of directors for Wynn Resorts. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval appointed Pro to replace Mulroy and said Pro’s experience as a federal judge should prove beneficial.

Andres Named Asia-Pacific Managing Director

25-year hospitality and travel technology industry veteran Patrick Andres was named managing director of Asia-Pacific operations at the Rainmaker Group. Previous he was executive vice president at Duetto, and also has worked at Travelport, Sabre Hospitality Solutions and Micros-Fidelio.

Morrison Exits Adelaide

The general manager of SkyCity’s Adelaide Casino has resigned his role effective December 31. Aaron Morrison, who made the announcement via the Australian Stock Exchange, said he is leaving for personal reasons.

Two Named to Poker Hall of Fame

The World Series of Poker announced Monday that Jennifer Harman (l.) and John Juanda will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during a ceremony November 6 at Binion’s Gambling Hall in Las Vegas.


Town and County Leisure to Distribute JCM

Britain’s Town and County Leisure has secured distribution rights to the Ticket2Go ticket-in/ticket-out payment system from JCM Global’s FutureLogic subsidiary.

MGM Announces VIP Arena Club

With its yet-to-be-named arena slated to open in April, MGM Resorts International has created a VIP club membership offering special discounted tickets and presales for events scheduled at the arena and access to its two planned clubs. MGM initially plans to sell 350 memberships, but said it might offer more.




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