Golden Opportunity

Golden Gaming has announced a merger with Lakes Entertainment set to be finalized by the end of the year. Golden Gaming, known for being a slot machine route operator in Nevada, will pick also pick up Lakes' Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Maryland as part of the deal. For Lakes CEO Lyle Berman (l.), an industry visionary, it may be the final deal.

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WEEKLY FEATURE: Hard Rock Mystery

Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment received preliminary approval to enter the New Jersey casino market either in Atlantic City or in other markets if casinos are expanded in the state, where Hard Rock owns part of the Meadowlands complex. Hard Rock Chairman Jim Allen (l.) did not announce any construction plans, but has said it has been in discussions with the potential new owner of Atlantic City’s closed Revel casino.

Walker Not Budging On Kenosha Casino

Shockwaves continue to flow through southeastern Wisconsin over Governor Scott Walker's January 23 decision against the Menominee Nation's proposed $800 million Kenosha casino, operated by Hard Rock International (l.). Ten bipartisan state legislators presented Walker a letter urging him to reconsider, which he said he can't and won't do. Menominee leaders suggested they may consider legal action.

Macau’s Big Slump Ending?

Gross gaming revenues in Macau rose 6 percent for the week ending January 25. That could mean the market, which saw seven months of precipitous decline in 2014, could be stabilizing. Some measures indicate diversification efforts will be good for the gaming hub.

Caesars Wins Venue Change

A federal bankruptcy judge has ruled in favor of Caesars Entertainment, ordering that the operator’s bankruptcy case be filed in Chicago to end the involuntary bankruptcy bid. Opponents of the bankruptcy plan had insisted the case be heard in Delaware, where Caesars does not operate.

Scientific Games Moving to Las Vegas

Lottery and gaming giant Scientific Games Corporation is moving its headquarters from New York to Las Vegas after completing its acquisition of two slot suppliers.

New California Online Poker Bill Different From Gatto Proposal

Two bills that would legalize online poker in California are now vying for passage. The original, by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, includes a “bad actor” provision that many find unpalatable. A rival bill, by Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, would remove that provision and would allow participation by racetracks.

Adelson Takes Over as CEO of Sands China

Las Vegas Sands Corp. founder and Chairman Sheldon Adelson (l.) is taking the top spot at Sands China Ltd. as current boss Edward Tracy retires. The 81-year-old billionaire casino mogul will become the new chief executive of the company’s subsidiary in Macau.


The great baseball player, Ernie Banks, died last week. Former casino executive Richard Schuetz recollects when he worked with Banks at a hotel in Las Vegas to attract more customers—undoubtedly from Chicago.


Macau Casino Workers: Partial Smoking Ban Not Good Enough

Macau limits smoking in casinos to VIP rooms where the high rollers play. Employees of those casinos are now demanding a total ban on smoking within one year. They are recruiting citizens to support the campaign. And now the government may be getting behind the ban.

Vietnam Allows New Casino

A decision by the government of Vietnam to bring a casino to the island of Phu Quoc—and even allow Vietnamese patrons under certain circumstances—has generated mixed reaction among the citizenry. Any investor would have to pony up $4 billion, minimum, to develop there.

Casinos for Tokyo Olympics? Doubtful

A report from Union Gaming Research says integrated resorts in Tokyo and Osaka “will never happen” before the start of the 2020 Summer Olympic games in Tokyo. Even so, the environment is right to bring casinos to the marketplace, the gaming research firm added.

South Korea Studying Cruise Line

South Korean casino operator Grand Korea Leisure Co. Ltd. is exploring the feasibility of cruise ships to draw more Chinese patrons. South Korea has no domestic cruise line, but more than 1 million people traveled to Korea by ship last year_up by almost one-third over 2013.

City of Dreams Manila Officially Opens This Week

The grand opening of Melco Crown’s highly anticipated City of Dreams resort in Manila is set for February 2. On hand for the celebration will be company co-chairmen Lawrence Ho and James Packer, along with Clarence Chung, chairman and president of Melco Crown Philippines.

Bloomberry Invests in South Korea

Bloomberry Resorts Corp., based in the Philippines, has bought 12.2 hectares (30.1 acres) of land on Muui Island in South Korea. The property in the Incheon Free Economic Zone will be developed “into a leisure and tourism complex,” the company said in a filing.

China Star to Divest of Macau Land

China Star Entertainment has about a month to dispose of several plots of prime real estate in Macau. The land, worth HKD2.23 billion (US$288 million) is next to the company’s Lan Kwai Fong hotel property. In 1999, the local government gave the land to the parent of SEJM Holdings.


Greek Casinos Continue Downward Spiral

Greece’s economic crisis plus a spike in illegal gambling are behind the continuing downslide in revenues at the country’s nine licensed casinos, including Casino Loutraki (l.). The gaming halls have seen a decline of about half a billion euros since 2008, the start of the global recession.

Romania to OK Online Bets

Romania’s legalization of online gaming may not be the windfall the government is hoping for. Critics of the new policy point out that Romanians’ appetite for gaming has dropped significantly since the recession. The government still hopes online games will help plug a budget gap.

Czech Republic to Tax Rogue Gaming Operators

The Czech Republic is taking a hard line on unlicensed gaming operators in the country. The Ministry of Finance plans to levy a tax on the companies to compensate for estimated losses to the government. That figure has been set at €17 million annually.


OLG Changes Generate Higher Revenue

Municipalities that host gambling operations have benefited since the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation changed its revenue sharing formula. For example, Chatham-Kent received $737,000 last year compared to $683,000 the previous year from its Dresden racino. Now the OLG may be seeking private sector operators to bid on new casino operations.

Canadian Billionaire in International Legal Battle

Michael DeGroote (l.), a Canadian billionaire and philanthropist, is involved in a legal battle over investments made to Caribbean gaming operations. DeGroote invested $5 million in the company in 2010, while they stopped making payments on the loan in 2012, after adding staff who has links to a Canadian mafia clan.


Michigan Online Gambling Flies Under Radar

In August of 2014, the Michigan lottery made it possible for residents to purchase lottery tickets online, something the majority of people were left in the dark about. The project has seen 87,000 people purchase tickets online, contributing to nearly $26 million being wagered in total.

Online Gambling Bill Spurs South African Debate

A bill to legalize online gambling in South Africa now before that country’s Parliament is spurring a stiff debate. Land-based casino revenue has stagnated in the country and many South Africans play online at illegal sites, despite the threat of stiff penalties.

Russia to Block Unsanctioned Online Gambling Payments

Russia is preparing to block payments to online gambling sites taking Russian bets as it prepares to launch its own sports betting market. Online gambling is illegal in the country, but some online sports betting operations are expecting exemptions.

Mr. Green Buys Mybet Italia

Mr. Green & Co. has purchased mybet Italia for an undisclosed price. The acquisition continues the online casinos expansion into the Italian market.


Kansas Southeast Zone Attracts Four Developers

Friday was the deadline for submitting bids to build a state-owned casino in Kansas' Southeast Gaming Zone. Four developers expressed interest: Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin (l.) and the Quapaw Tribe's Downstream Casino; Castle Rock Resorts; JNB Gaming, formerly Peninsula Gaming; and Southeast Kansas Casino Partners LLC.

Scott Meets Secretly With Casino Executives

Florida Governor Rick Scott (l.) recently met secretly with top officials from seven South Florida gambling properties. Most likely the executives lobbied for changes in the Seminole compact allowing them to compete more effectively. Compact provisions guaranteeing the state $116 million in annual revenue will expire July 31 unless Scott renegotiates the agreement.

Bay State’s First Casino Set to Open in June

The first of four casinos in Massachusetts, the $250 million Plainridge Park Casino (l.), is set to open in June, the state Gaming Commission learned last week. And the state gaming commission is asking the legislature to amend the gaming bill to allow for larger winnings before reporting them to the feds.

Bill Would Close Pa. Casinos Daily

A bill introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature would require the state’s casinos to close between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. daily, as a hedge against problem gambling.

Mississippi Supreme Court Hears Katrina Case

After Cherri Porter's Biloxi beach house was damaged by Grand Casino barges during Hurricane Katrina, State Farm denied her claims. She lost lawsuits against the insurance company, her agent and Grand Casino. An appeals court upheld the rulings. Now the Mississippi Supreme Court will consider Porter's appeal, based on a similar 2013 case.

Indiana Legislator Claims Bill Not Expansion

Indiana Governor Mike Pence (l.) has not clarified what he means when he says he's against expanded gambling. But state Rep. Tom Dermody said his proposed legislation does not expand gambling. His bill would allow the state's 10 riverboat casinos to move ashore, permit live dealers at racinos, extend free-play and provide capital incentives.

Maryland Slot Reductions OK’s by Commission

State senators in Maryland were delaying any decision on requests from Horseshoe Baltimore (l.) and Maryland Live! to reduce their numbers of slot machines in favor of more table games but late last week the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission voted unanimously to approve the reductions.

New York Bidder Faces Hurdles After Obtaining Initial License

Politicians and gaming operators wrote a letter to the state of New York on January 10 asking for the state to pull the license awarded to the Lago Resort and Casino (l.). They said the area will lose 1,100 jobs while local casinos will lose $133 million in gambling revenue.

Strip Set for Boom 2015

With a strong 2014 in the books, the Las Vegas Strip looks to continue with the upward trend they are currently riding. While Atlantic City and Macau continue to slide downward, the Las Vegas Strip has shown phenomenal results, with non-gaming revenue climbing through the roof.

Trump Atlantic City Bankruptcy Plan to Go Before Creditors

Trump Entertainment Resorts has won approval in bankruptcy court to present a plan to turn control of its troubled Atlantic City properties to billionaire Carl Icahn (l.) to its creditors for a vote. A bankruptcy judge rejected objections from a committee of unsecured creditors and the city’s main casino union that the plan is not viable. He also approved a further $20 million loan from Icahn to keep the Trump Taj Mahal casino open while the reorganization is underway.

Illinois Video Gambling Revenues More Than Double

Video gambling revenues more than doubled in Illinois, with the games generating $165 million for the state in 2014, up $75 million from 2013. Municipalities received $33 million, compared to $15 million in 2013. Gamblers spent $2.4 billion on the machines in 2014, up from $1.1 billion in 2013, with $1.8 billion in payouts.

Atlantic City’s Closed Revel Casino Gets Tax Break

The closed Revel casino in Atlantic City has reached a tax assessment settlement with the city that reduces its assessment to $225 million. Originally, the casino was assessed at $1.15 billion, though that was later cut to $625 million. The casino is in bankruptcy.

Vermont Legislator Re-introduces Casino Bill

Republican Rep. Ronald Hubert will pass along a bill asking for the approval of a casino license in Vermont. Hubert has failed six straight years, but has re-structured this bill to provide more gaming revenue to assist the elderly population in Vermont.

Harrah's New Orleans Loses Smoking-Ban Exemption

Minutes after the New Orleans city council unanimously approved a city-wide smoking ban, Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey offered a new ordinance allowing smoking in half of Harrah's Casino. Ramsey said she believed she was acting on behalf of Mayor Mitch Landrieu (l.), who disavowed her actions. Ramsey subsequently pulled the proposed Harrah's exemption.

Fontainebleau Investor Avoids Disaster with Favorable Settlement

With the collapse of the Las Vegas project Fontainebleau, hotelier Jeffrey Soffer was in court with creditors, who sought out a claim of $2 billion against Soffer. A bankruptcy judge, however, has ordered Soffer to pay only $27.5 million to creditors, of which $25 million will be covered by insurance.

Las Vegas Sands Reports Profits

The numbers are in for Las Vegas Sands, which show a profit of $721.3 million for the fourth-quarter, and $2.84 billion on the year. Gaming revenue accounted for 82 percent of their annual revenue.

Rhode Island Braces for Impact From Massachusetts Casinos

Massachusetts' four casino licenses, which are sure to help the state out, are predicted to cripple business in adjoining Rhode Island. An estimated $1 billion per year is spent by Massachusetts residents outside of their state each year on gambling.

Airline Incentives Approved for Atlantic City Airport

The South Jersey Transportation Authority has approved financial incentives to attract major airlines to little-used Atlantic City International Airport. The move comes as Air Canada has announced summer service to the airport.

New Jersey Congressmen Enter State’s Sports Betting Fight

Two New Jersey Congressman, Frank LoBiondo and Frank Pallone Jr. (l.), have introduced bills that would allow sports betting in New Jersey. One would exempt the state from a federal ban on sports betting and the other would give all states four years to enact their own sports betting laws and be exempted from the federal ban.

Uber Pushes for Ride-Sharing in Nevada

Popular ride-sharing network company Uber is intent on becoming a legal service in Nevada. After a highly anticipated launch last October, the billion-dollar company was abruptly halted after officials declared them to not be operating in accordance to state law.


New Mexico Tribes Discuss Proposed Compact

The gaming compact between six Native American tribes and the state of New Mexico will expire this year. But after years of negotiations, a new compact has been proposed that would raise revenue sharing percentages. The state legislature and U.S. Interior Department would have to approve the new agreement.

Idaho Tribe Proposes Legislation Banning Instant Racing

The Coeur d'Alene tribe recently proposed legislation that would ban instant racing in Idaho, even though it was approved by the state in 2013 as a way to raise money to help the horse industry by expanding simulcasting. House and Senate committees recently held hearings on the measure.

City Asks Arizona Tribe to Build Casino Quickly

Build faster! That’s the message of the city of Glendale, Arizona, which wants the Tohono O’odham tribe to work quickly to finish its tribal casino next to the city. Tribal Chairman Ned Norris Jr. (l.) says the economic impact will be as strong as last week’s Super Bowl.

Golden Moon $70 Million Renovation Completed

The Golden Moon Casino at the Pearl River Resort in Philadelphia, Mississippi recently debuted its $70 million renovation. The upgraded 70,000 square foot gaming floor features a one-of-a-kind video wall, unique architectural ceiling and special carpeting incorporating Choctaw themes, as well as state-of-the-art Konami technology.

A $20 Million Hotel, A 20th Anniversary

Celebrations recently were held at two Louisiana casinos. A new $20 million hotel opened at Pinnacle Entertainment's Boomtown Casino New Orleans, creating 45 new jobs. And Coushatta Casino Resort, owned and operated by the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, honored its 20th anniversary with a performances and prizes.

Pastors Protest Proposed Catawba Casino

The Kings Mountain, North Carolina city council recently received a letter signed by 75 pastors asking them to end their support for the Catawba Indian Nation's proposed casino resort. Catawba officials said the casino resort would bring $349 million dollars into the area annually and create more than 4,000 jobs.

Lucky Eagle Announces $40 Million Expansion

The Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel in Rochester, Washington will break ground this month on a $40 million expansion, including an additional 40,000 square feet of gaming and dining and new parking structures. Existing buildings will be renovated after the new area opens this fall.


Nevada Gaming Control Board Reappoints Two

With contracts set to expire at the end of January, the Gaming Control Board renewed the contracts for Chairman A.G. Burnett (l.) and board member Shawn Reid for four additional years. Both have been with the board since 2011.

Amaya Names Adviser, VP

Amaya Gaming has appointed former Ontario Police Commissioner Chris Lewis as an adviser to its board, and George Sweny as vice president of strategic ventures.

IPG Names General Manager

IPG International has named Gus Noble as its new general manager, responsible for all sales, marketing and operational activities in Asia.

Long-Time Entertainment Executive to Leave Station Casinos

After a run of 20 years with Station Casinos, Vice President of Entertainment Judy Alberti has decided to leave her post. Alberti was responsible for bringing several acts to Station Casinos, and helped launch the careers of numerous performers. She has not stated any plans for the future.

Boyd Gaming Elects New Board Members

Boyd Gaming recently declared Las Vegas attorney John Bailey, and Loews Hotels and Resorts CEO Paul Whetsell as the newest executives on their board of directors. Loews operates 22 hotels in the United States and Canada, while Bailey specializes in corporate and gaming law.

Lambert Retiring From Gaming Commission

After 22 years, Patrick Lambert announced he will retire as executive director of the Cherokee Tribal Gaming Commission. The only executive director in the commission's history, Lambert said he plans to run for principal chief in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians' upcoming elections.


Merkur Casino Takes Tickets to Pit

Germany’s new Merkur Casino will feature ticket-in/ticket-out operation at either the slot machines or the table games, permitting cash-free play. Managing Director Frank Ziegler head of IT and security Karl-Heinz Lager (l.) encouraged the casino to go cash free.

Galaxy to Exhibit at ICE

Galaxy Gaming announced it will be a “full participant” at this week’s ICE Totally Gaming trade show in London, at stand S6-112.


GSA to Launch New Standards at ICE

The Gaming Standards Association will use this week’s ICE Totally Gaming trade show to introduce a suite of “next-generation” standards to the industry.




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