Done Deal in Florida

A new 20-year gambling compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe will bring the state $3 billion over seven years and allow the tribe to offer blackjack plus roulette and craps at its seven casinos, including Hard Rock Seminole in Hollywood. The legislature must ratify the proposal, which offers plenty to please, and anger everyone concerned. But the compact leaves open the possibility of a Miami casino and more racinos.

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WEEKLY FEATURE: RAWA History?

A hearing on the Restore America’s Wire Act held before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and Chairman Jason Chaffetz (l.) is being heralded as a major win for proponents of online gambling and a setback for the Sheldon Adelson inspired bill. Reports on the hearing are focusing on several members of the committee disputing claims by witnesses who support the ban. Many expected the committee to simply rubber-stamp the bill.

Ukraine to OK Gaming

Ukraine is poised to legalize and regulate gaming after a six-year prohibition (at left, a Kiev casino before the industry was shuttered in 2009). The Eastern European country reportedly plans to introduce online and land-based casino as well as sports betting. Experts question some of the conditions contained in the proposed law, however.

More Trouble for California Card Clubs

Hundreds of FBI agents smashed an illegal gambling ring is seven states last week, raiding two card rooms in Southern California, including the Seven Mile Casino in Chula Vista (l.), and seizing accounts. Allegations include money laundering, conspiracy and illegal gambling.

New Jersey Could See Two Northern Casinos

New Jersey lawmakers led by Senate President Steve Sweeney (l.) have reached an agreement on a proposal to put before voters that would allow two casinos to be built in Northern New Jersey, ending Atlantic City’s state monopoly on casino if approved. Exact locations for the casinos will likely not be named in the referendum.

New York Judge Shuts Down DFS

A New York state Supreme Court Judge last week ruled that all daily fantasy sports activities would be shut down until further notice. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (l.) has sought to ban the two largest DFS sites from operating in the state saying they conduct gambling illegal under state law. DraftKings, which was still operating in the state, says it will immediately appeal.

Washburn Steps Down at BIA

Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn is wrapping up a successful tenure at the Interior Department. He plans to return to teaching at the University of New Mexico. Taking over the position for the remainder of the term of the Obama administration will be the former general counsel of the National Indian Gaming Commission, Larry Roberts.

Chinese Company to Loan Baha Mar $50 Million

China Harbour Engineering Company has provided $50 million in financing to bank-appointed receivers of the stalled Baha Mar Resort in the Bahamas. The money will be used to maintain and preserve the property while bankruptcy receivers search for a buyer.

Why DFS Matters to Gaming

What is at stake in the DFS trouble is nothing short of the credibility of gaming not just legality of daily fantasy sports. The integrity of gaming overall is at stake when you consider the investments made in DFS companies by major media conglomerates.

AGA Initiatives Come Fast and Furious

The American Gaming Association has been busy. Just last week the organization issued a questionnaire to Republican presidential candidates ahead of this week’s debate in Las Vegas, part of the AGA’s “Gaming Votes” initiative; developed strong new anti-money laundering guidelines, and lobbied for improvements in the U.S. visa waiver program.

FANTINI’S FINANCE: Funny Fundamentals

Two recent cases where casino stocks took huge turns demonstrate how fickle investors can be. The fundamentals of the business in both instances changed not an iota, yet the stock prices took a wild ride. Find out why!

ASIAN GAMING More

Singapore: No Interest in Gaming Expansion

Marina Bay Sands (l.) and Resorts World Sentosa have contributed up to 2 percent to Singapore’s gross domestic product and created some 20,000 jobs, according to reports. But the government may not add more gaming halls when their licenses expire.

Macau Crunch Easing?

Analysts predict gross gaming revenue in Macau could see a year-on-year decline of up to 28 percent for the month of December. Hard to believe, but that’s actually good news for the world’s top gaming destination, now in the 18th month of a crushing downturn.

South Korea Sales Down in November

Gaming revenues at South Korean casino operator Paradise Co. Ltd. dropped 16 percent year-on-year for the month of November. Recent arrests in Mainland China may be partly responsible for the decline.

IP Wins Big on Saipan

Imperial Pacific’s temporary casino on the island of Saipan generated $1.63 billion in its first full month of operations, the company has announced. The temporary casino opened at the end of July, but launched VIP gaming at the beginning of November.

Tinian Casino to Reopen

The Tinian Dynasty Casino (l.) is set to reopen December 15, according to the Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission. The casino closed temporarily in August, due to the impact of Typhoon Soudelor.

EUROPEAN GAMING More

Ladbrokes Admits Tax-Dodge Scheme

U.K. bookmaker Ladbrokes has lost a £54 million (US$82 million) tax-dodge case. The bookie admits creating an artificial slump in one business to create a loss in another. Even so, the company says it will appeal the loss.

Who Will Buy Ladbrokes-Coral Shops?

The owner of Betfred has publicly speculated the company is interested in buying U.K. betting shops that may be shed in the aftermath of the Ladbrokes-Gala Coral merger. Fred Done, founder of the bookie site could be interested in as many as 500 shops.

GLOBAL GAMING More

Genting Adds to Star Stake

Queensland, Australian lawmakers have cleared the path for Genting Hong Kong to increase its stake in the Aussie casino operator, Star Entertainment Group, formerly Echo Entertainment.

Bermuda Maps Out Casino Path

Richard Schuetz (l.), executive director of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission, said having an internationally known casino operator on Bermuda "would put this place on the map." He noted casino gambling is part of the "new model" that's growing worldwide. A call line and self-exclusion would be available for problem gamblers, he added.

Australians: The Biggest Losers?

According to new government figures, when it comes to gambling losses, Australians top the list. In 2015, every man, woman and child in the Land Down Under will lose the equivalent of AU$1,000.

British Columbia Casino Buzz Aplenty

The potential for a new casino in Victoria, British Columbia, has many locals abuzz with anticipation of enhanced entertainment options, along with increased local revenues that would be used to help fund local social services improvements, emergency services, and other services and projects. But several assessments must be completed first, including finding a host community.

NSW Cracks Down on Gaming Ads

The Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing of New South Wales has warned the gaming industry it will not get away with advertising its products without facing stiff penalties. It has targeted a number of operators for what it says are illegal ads.

ONLINE GAMING More

Pennsylvania iGaming Tied to Budget

Pennsylvania lawmakers have placed their provision to legalize online gaming in the state budget plan for the coming calendar year, anticipating $120 million in revenue. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (l.) said the Senate would not support iGaming.

New Jersey Ready to Finalize Some Online Gambling Rules

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has opened three online gaming rules for public comment, one of the last steps towards finalizing the rules. The rules would allow for online sites to pit celebrity players against customers, locate computer servers in non-casino properties in Atlantic City and use online accounts to play social games.

Massachusetts Considers Online Gambling Bill

A bill from Senator Bruce Tarr (l.) to allow online gambling through Massachusetts-based casinos has been introduced in the Massachusetts Senate. Online gambling would only be allowed through state licensed casinos. The bill has gained little traction in the state legislature, according to reports.

Australia’s New South Wales’ OLGR Cracks Down On Gambling Ads

Australia’s New South Wales betting regulator, the Office of Liquor Gaming & Racing, has brought charges against some of the country’s biggest online gambling sites for illegal gambling ads and warned others that they will not tolerate any form of gambling promotion in the state.

PokerStars Granted Danish Sports Betting License

PokerStars has received a one-year sports betting license from Danish online gaming regulator Spillemynddigheden. The license is a preliminary for a possible five-year license. PokerStars plans to go live with sports betting in Denmark in 2016. Denmark also signed an agreement with European Economic area gaming regulators to share common practices.

Portugal Closes Its Online Poker Market

Portugal has announced that it will not allow online poker sites to pool players in other countries under its new online regulations. The move seems to follow a trend that has greatly decreased online poker play in Europe.

OLG Debuts Fire Horse Online

In an effort to integrate slots and horseracing, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation launched Fire Horse, a slots-like online game available on the OLG's newly created horseracing page, which also offers racing industry information and links to wagering websites. The OLG expects to offer more horse-related games in the future.

iGaming Up in South Africa

Lobbyists for the South African casino industry say online gaming contributed R17.2 billion (US$1.13 billion) to the nation’s gross domestic product in the 2014-15 fiscal year, an increase of 4.5 percent year-on-year.

IGT Licenses Patents to Gamesys

International Game Technology will provide online gaming company Gamesys with intellectual property usage rights for signature game features. IGT’s Victor Duarte (l.) says the deal will help deliver better games to players.

Racetracks Declare DerbyWars Illegal

Several horse racetrack owners and race operators across the county say Kentucky-based DerbyWars is an illegal racket that violates federal and state laws and deprive racetracks, race organizers, and horsemen groups from their share of profits derived from the real-world races upon which DerbyWars clients make selections and can win or lose money.

UNITED STATES GAMING More

Scarlet Pearl Opens In Mississippi

The $290 million Scarlet Pearl Casino recently opened in D'Iberville, Mississippi--the city's first and the state's 12th casino, offering a gaming floor with 1,350 slots and 45 table games plus an 18-story, 300-room hotel, tropical swimming pool and dining options. The 36-hole Lava Links miniature golf course features an "active" volcano. CEO Luann Pappas (in red) welcomes dignitaries to the ceremony.

Philadelphia Approves Casino Zoning

Philadelphia City Council voted to approve zoning bills for the $450 million Live! Casino. But a lawsuit brought by competitor SugarHouse will prevent construction from starting until it is resolved.

Reid Offers Parting Gift to Caesars

Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who is stepping down at the end of his term in 2016, is trying to amend the Trust Indenture Act of 1939 to allow out-of-court restructuring of corporate debt, to help home-state company Caesars.

MGM, Connecticut File Motions Over Casino Lawsuit

MGM Resorts and the state of Connecticut have filed dueling motions over MGM’s attempt to get a law passed in June ruled unconstitutional. The law allows the state’s gaming tribes to pick a site to build a casino to compete with the MGM Springfield that is expected to open in 2018.

Boston Loses Suit to Block Casino

Boston has lost its lawsuit challenging the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s decision to award a license to Wynn Resorts to build a casino in Everett. Mayor Marty Walsh (l.) says the city, which has spent more than $1 million in legal fees so far, may appeal.

Marsh Won't Pursue Alabama Casino Gambling

Although a study showed casinos at four Alabama racetracks could generate $400 million in annual tax revenue, state Senator Del Marsh (l.) said he will not pursue legislation allowing the casinos and a state lottery because the bill does not have legislative enough support. Marsh said he won't stop anyone else from promoting the issue.

Texas Racing Commission Chair Quits

Robert Schmidt declined a request by Texas Governor Greg Abbott (l.) to repeal historical racing rules and unexpectedly resigned as Texas Racing Commission chairman. He'll remain a commissioner. Rolando Pablos, appointed by Abbott last month, takes over as chairman. At its December 15 meeting commissioners could vote to repeal or republish the rules, or do nothing.

Idaho Instant Racing Declared Dead

Idaho isn’t likely to take up any other measures enabling instant racing wagering on horse and dog races already run. Many tribal leaders opposed creating an Idaho gaming commission and say the state’s lottery commission already does a good job of regulating gaming, but Governor Butch Otter opposes instant racing and wants a gaming commission in place.

Las Vegas Casino to Host eSports Team

The Downtown Grand in Las Vegas is hosting a professional eSports team from Australia for two months starting in November. Visitors can watch the five-member team practice a first-person shooter game for their next big competition, while the casino continues exploring new entertainment options to attract a new generation of guests.

Unions, Detroit Casinos Reach Agreement

A strike has been averted and a new five-year contract has been negotiated between the Detroit Casino Council—a consortium of four labor unions—and Greektown Casino, MotorCity and MGM Grand Detroit. The two sides had been negotiating a new contract since August and disagreed over health care, raises and bonuses.

New York Casino to Share Revenues

The Montreign Resort Casino at Adelaar is scheduled to open in 2017. The company is working with county officials to determine a revenue-sharing formula for local communities. Sullivan County will get 60 percent of money shared by the casino, with towns and villages left to split the rest.

Bill to Lift Deed Restrictions on Atlantic City Casino Advances

A bill to eliminate deed restrictions on the former Showboat casino in Atlantic City was passed by the New Jersey State senate. The restrictions have blocked attempts to redevelop the site, but Caesars Entertainment, former owner of the casino and responsible for one of its deed restrictions, called the bill unconstitutional.

Cosmopolitan Removing Fake Florals

Artificial palm trees and other fake outdoor foliage are very flammable and contributed to the rapid spread of an outdoor pool fire that caused $2 million in damages to the Cosmopolitan casino on July 25, so the casino is removing all of its artificial palms and outdoor foliage by early 2016.

New Hall for LV Convention Center

The Las Vegas Convention Center will grow by 1.4 million square feet with the addition of an $860 million hall, which will include meetings space and other amenities, and is to open in 2020. Work on the new hall is scheduled to being in early 2017, after completion of an outdoor exhibition area.

Kansas Crossing Receives Second Extension

The $70 million Kansas Crossing Casino in Crawford County, Kansas, received a second 90-day extension to open its facility in Pittsburg, due to a lawsuit by Cherokee County and the $145 million Castle Rock Casino Resort alleging state regulators did not follow proper guidelines when granting Kansas Crossing a contract.

Uber Approved for McCarran Pickups

Clark County approved ride-hailing service Uber to pick up passengers at McCarran International Airport, after Uber officials agreed to share information with county officials and established a way to collect and distribute an airport pickup fee charged to all passengers arriving at McCarran and departing via taxi, limo, or Uber, which also reduced its passenger fares by 30 percent.

Nevada OKs Casinos Break from Utility

Nevada regulators approved allowing MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts, and Las Vegas Sands to stop buying energy from the state’s largest utility, NV Energy, to pursue more affordable and sustainable alternative energies, but they must pay $127 million to do so, in order to offset costs the utility says it would have to pass on to residential customers.

Unemployment Rate Drops in Atlantic City

The Atlantic City area saw the largest drop in unemployment rate in the country according to a report by the U.S. Labor Department, but still ranks as having one of the highest rates in the U.S. The city saw four casinos close in 2014 putting about 8,000 workers out of a job.

Alabama Businesses Must Remove Games

Following complaints that convenience stores and other businesses were offering illegal gambling machines, the Colbert County, Alabama District Attorney's office sent hand-delivered letters to the businesses advising them to remove the games within seven days. Laws regarding electronic gambling machines vary from county to county in Alabama.

Downtown Las Vegas Hotel Makeover Announced

The 40-year-old California Hotel and Casino on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas will undergo a multi-million dollar renovation of its 500 hotel rooms and casino, and add new dining and drinking options for patrons, owner Boyd Gaming announced. No cost estimate was provided, but Boyd Gaming said the project will be done by the end of 2016.

Developers Buy Up Atlantic City Lots

Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein (l.) has been cleared to buy 64,000 square feet of waterfront property in Atlantic City for $3.2 million. Blatstein also plans to buy the closed Showboat casino. The two properties are not connected. Meanwhile, another developer has bought land near the closed Atlantic Club casino, which may be used to develop a water park.

Hyperloop Testing in North Las Vegas

Los Angeles-based Hyperloop Technologies announced it will begin testing its new tube-based transportation concept at a new site in North Las Vegas in early 2016. Hyperloop will convert a 55-acre industrial site into its test facility, where it intends to develop a viable rapid transit system that could reach 750 mph.

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House Bill Would Strip BIA of Authority to Recognize Tribes

Congress would have sole authority to recognize Indian tribes if the Tribal Recognition Act of 2015 passes first the House of Representatives and then the Senate. The bill’s sponsor is Rep. Rob Bishop (l.) who wants to take that authority away from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Spokane Tribe May Soon Get Right to Casino

Members of the 3,000-member Spokane Tribe are hoping that Washington Governor Jay Inslee (l.) will approve of putting land into trust near Spokane that would allow the tribe to build a $400 million casino.

Bill Would Recognize Tribe

A Montana tribe, the Little Shell Chippewa, has been waiting for 37 years for the federal government to recognize it. It is the only tribe to have the Bureau of Indian Affairs first publish a favorable finding, and then withdraw it.

No Movement on House Bill to Stop Arizona Casino

It appears that the Tohono O’odham Nation will be able to open its Desert Diamond West Valley Resort on December 20 on schedule without interference from a bill in Congress that would have prevented that. A move to push the bill onto the floor for a vote has failed.

Wisconsin Tribe Proposes Sports Complex

The city of Madison, Wisconsin and the Ho-Chunk Nation have been holding monthly discussions about building a sports and entertainment complex on 48 acres next to the tribe's casino. The project would offer indoor and outdoor playing fields, a hotel, conference facilities and a cultural center, with phase one to be completed in 2018.

Tribe, California City Reach Expansion Agreement

California’s Pechanga Indian Tribe and the city of Temecula have reached an intergovernmental agreement that pays the city $2 million each year in mitigation for the$285 million expansion of the Pechanga Resort & Casino. The tribe can’t move forward, however, without a similar agreement from Riverside County.

Two Oklahoma Casino Projects Completed

In Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation held a grand opening for its new six-story, 120-room hotel at the Cherokee Hotel & Casino Roland (l.). In Braman, the Kaw Nation held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the completion of phase two of its SouthWind Casinos' expansion.

Last Chukchansi Raid Defendant Settles

The last defendant in the case of the 15-armed men who invaded the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Northern California in October of 2014 has settled his case of trespassing without entering a plea. Vernon King’s case will be dropped in six months if he does not commit other violations.

Cypress Bayou Commences $20 Million Renovation

The Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana's Cypress Bayou Casino Hotel in Charenton will undergo a $20 million renovation with a new high limit area, restaurants, gift shop and a swimming pool upgrades. Cypress Bayou Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Anthony Patrone said 70 percent of expenditures will remain in the region.

Oklahoma Tribal Gaming Generates $1 Billion

The Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association recently issued the results of an economic impact study on tribal gaming, indicating the industry has generated nearly $1 billion since the state and tribes negotiated a compact in 2004. At the time forecasts predicted $71 million in annual gaming revenue—far less than the study showed.

WinStar Tops Texas For Star Performers

With gambling revenue to pay top fees plus radius and timing clauses, the Chickasaw Nation's Global Event Center (l.) at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma is luring A-list stars away from Texas concert halls. Plus, stars like the kid-glove treatment they receive at WinStar, said Entertainment Manager Stephanie Callaway.

Study: Tribal Casinos Harm Counties

Tribal casinos generally detracted from local economies across the nation, while commercial casinos boosted them from 1987 to 2007, when the number of states legalizing gambling grew from two to 33, as construction of tribal and commercial casinos boomed across the nation, according to results of an economic study conducted by the University of Nevada-Reno.

Idaho Must Pay Tribe’s Court Fees in Instant Horse Racing Case

Idaho must cover the legal costs of the Coeur d’Alene tribe, which sued to force recognition that the legislature lawfully passed a ban on “instant racing” at the state’s racetracks. Governor Butch Otter claimed he vetoed the bill, but the tribe showed that he didn’t submit his veto within the statutory time of five days.

Pearl River Resort Opens Bingo Room

As part of a $70 million renovation, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians opened a bingo room in the Silver Star Casino at Pearl River Resort near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Former Vice President of Casino Operations William Johnson is serving as interim chief executive officer while the tribe seeks a new chief executive officer.

FireKeepers Offers New Swarovski Store

Guests at FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan now can shop for high-end crystal jewelry, accessories, ornaments and more at a new Swarovski store located in the property lobby. Earned points may be used toward purchases at the dazzling new store.

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Illinois Lottery Winners To Be Paid

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (l.) signed Senate Bill 2039 which releases $3 billion to state agencies and local governments, including $1 billion to the Illinois Lottery, authorizing it to resume payouts to winners of $600 and more who were not paid the past few months due to the state budget impasse.

VLTs Increase Oregon Lottery Revenues

The addition of video lottery terminals has measurably increased revenues from the Oregon Lottery, according to state economists speaking before state lawmakers recently. They speculate that new machines attract more players and money.

PEOPLE More

Kelly Named Ladbrokes Chairman

John Kelly has been appointed chairman of the board of U.K. bookmaker Ladbrokes, effective immediately. The former CEO of Gala Coral replaces Peter Erskine, who left December 3 ahead of the Lads-Coral merger.

Shaked to Step Down at bwin.party

Golan Shaked will step down from his positions as group director of games at online gaming giant bwin.party, but will stay on as a consultant.

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Nevada Fantasy Gaming License Sought

American Gaming Association Hall-of-Famer and entrepreneur Vic Salerno (l.) has applied to the Nevada Gaming Commission for an off-track, parimutuel Sports System Operator's license, in an effort to become the first licensed fantasy sports betting operation in Nevada. The license would enable Salerno’s company, US Fantasy, to offer a variety of fantasy sports contests.

Intralot Unveils Pre-Commitment Gaming

Intralot Gaming Service on December 1 unveiled its first voluntary pre-commitment scheme, which is called “YourPlay,” for its 28,500 electronic gaming machines located across Victoria, including the Melbourne Casino. The voluntary scheme is designed to enhance responsible gaming and prevent problem gambling from affecting individuals, their families, and their communities.

New Aria Tower Suites, Convention Center

The Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas unveiled a new luxury Aria Tower Suites with special amenities and a renovated 300,000-suare-foot convention center, where Tower Suites guests might do business during the day. The convention center includes new customizable media walls and communications stations to keep convention attendees connected.

TRADE SHOWS & CONFERENCES More

EASG Conference Set for September

The European Conference on Gambling Studies and Policy Issues will be held at the InterContinental Hotel in Lisbon, Portugal, September 13-16.

WILD CARD More

Wynn Targets Millennials

A new 5,013-square-foot gaming area called the Encore Player’s Club is scheduled to open at Wynn’s Encore in Las Vegas this month and targets millennials with interactive gaming and other activities and amenities. The new club features a lounge-like setting with several gambling, dining, and entertainment options, and a January 6 formal opening is scheduled.

NUTSHELL More

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