If I Can Make It There

While New York gaming regulators approved licenses for three upstate casinos in December, tribal casinos, community groups, and at least one state lawmaker says the new casinos will cause more harm than good and should be stopped. The Oneida Indian Nation says it will sue the New York Gaming Commission to prevent competition from the Lago casino (l.) in Lyre to its Turning Stone casino in Verona. Meanwhile, a planned VLT casino at Long Island’s Belmont Park also has the locals riled.

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WEEKLY FEATURE: Diamond or Coal?

The controversial Desert Diamond Casino near Glendale, Arizona, opened December 20. The Tohono O’odham Nation first proposed the casino in 2009, but local, state and federal opposition tried to block it at every turn. The Tucson-based Tohono O’odham Nation prevailed, however, and the first week was a clear success. Members of the tribe cut the ribbon late last month.

Amaya Handed Huge PokerStars Fine

A judge in Kentucky fined Amaya Gaming $870 million as penalty for its subsidiary PokerStars.com’s illegal operation of online gaming for state residents from 2006 to 2011. Amaya did not own PokerStars at that time and said it will dispute the ruling.

U.S. Baha Mar Subsidiary Moves to End Chapter 11

Northshore Mainland Services, the only U.S.-based subsidiary of the company behind the Baha Mar resort in Bahamas, has moved to dismiss Chapter 11 proceedings. Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie (l.) said last week that he expects the property to open in 2016.

New Jersey Still Divided on New Casinos

Little was accomplished over the holiday break to bring two competing plans for new casinos in New Jersey to be built outside of Atlantic City closer to a compromise. The issue comes down to a number of differences in the plan including which casino companies will be allowed to bid for the new projects—those already in the state or a new developer, favored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (l.). Time is running out for the state legislature to vote on putting a referendum before voters in November.

California Casino Reopens after 14 Months

A California casino that was closed 14 months ago due to an armed incursion by a faction of the Picayune Rancheria reopened on the 31st day of December. The soft opening of the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino was a marked success.

Japan Still Pushing Casino Bill

Japan’s long-delayed casino bill could now be on track for passage in late 2016. If that happens, supporters hope integrated resorts can open in for the 2020 Olympic Games. But that prospect seems unlikely at this point.

Oklahoma Tribe Pursues Poker Website

If a federal judge approves an arbitrator's ruling, the 800-member Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma will become the first in the state to operate an international gambling website, Pokertribe.com. The Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes tried to launch a gambling site with the same name but the Interior Department claimed that overstepped compact limits.


Flameout in South Korea?

Six months ago. 34 gaming companies were lining up to bid on a pair of South Korea gaming licenses. That number has dwindled to just six amid concerns that the jurisdiction will not draw enough foreign VIPs. Now, Lippo and Caesars say their development (l.) may not come to fruition.

Entry Fee for Philippine Casinos?

The Philippine National Tax Research Center says it supports an entry fee of PHP3,500 (US$74) for all Filipino casino visitors; a tax on lottery winnings; multiple taxes for horse racing clubs; and a tax on horse race winnings. Resorts World Manila at left.

Macau Slump Drags Into 2016

GGR in Macau through November 2015 dropped 35.3 percent year-on-year, according to figures released by the city’s gaming regulator last month. Though the recession shows no sign of abating, the jurisdiction is debt-free with ample cash reserves.

Tinian Dynasty Remains Closed

The shuttered Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino in the Marianas Islands did not reopen as planned December 15. Dynasty’s general manager said the opening was postponed because there are no gaming commissioners in place to inspect the property.

More Traffic at RWS

More visitors are coming to Resorts World Sentosa. Patronage jumped almost 20 percent in third-quarter 2015, according to analysts. The good news is tempered by a drop of about 10 percent in average daily spend.

St. Regis Macao Opens

The five-star St. Regis Macao Hotel opened December 18 on Macau’s Cotai Strip. A project of Sheldon Adelson’s Sands China Ltd., the hotel has 400 rooms and suites and is part of Adelson’s “Cotai Central” complex, which will include the Parisian resort.

Cambodia Casino Bill Stalls

Cambodian officials say a bill to regulate the country’s casino industry, due for approval in late 2015, is now expected to pass the country’s National Assembly in the first quarter of 2016.

IPIM Takes on Macau MICE

Starting in November, the Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute will handle promotions for the city’s meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions business. IPIM will take over from Macau Economic Services.


Gala Coral Sells Bingo Clubs

British bookie Gala Coral has completed the sale of its bingo clubs ahead of a planned £2.3billion (US$3.4 billion) merger with bookmaker Ladbrokes. Caledonia Investments bought the clubs. Gala CEO Carl Leaver says the firm will focus on retail and online.

Eight the Hard Way

Eight international casino operators are vying for a single casino license in Cyprus. Of the eight, three will make the final cut before the winner is chosen in 2016. The bidders must submit detailed proposals. The trio of finalists will be named in February.

Putin: Bookies, Pay Up

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants bookmakers to help pay for national sporting events. His plan, which has the support of Russian football leagues, would include sponsorships akin to those in the U.K.

Ban FOBTs, Says Scottish Parliament

The Scottish parliament has called for a ban on fixed-odds betting terminals, which have been compared to crack cocaine because of their alleged addictive qualities. Punters can lose hundreds of pounds in minutes on the high-stakes machines.

Casino Malta Gets Fourth License

Late last month, the Malta Gaming Authority licensed its fourth casino in Malta, to be located on the lower level of the InterContinental Hotel. The $12 million project will be operated by Olympic Entertainment Group.


Brazil Looks to 2019

If pending casino legislation passes, Brazil could see its first casinos open sometime in 2019, according to forecasts. Bill 186/2014, which has already passed one Senate commission, provides for land-based casinos, bingo halls and online gaming. President Dilma Rousseff (l.) reportedly supports the measure.

Bermuda Finalizes Casino Gaming Commission

A new Bermuda Gaming Commission recently was established under the island nation's Casino Gaming Act that passed last year. Shawn Crockwell, minister of Tourism Development and Transport, named Alan Dunch (l.) as chairman. The House of Assembly also is considering a draft of the site selection application process.

U.S. Virgin Islands Raises Casino Fees

Virgin Islands casino employees and operators are facing newly increased fees under recently passed amendments. Commission Chairperson Violet Ann Golden said for 15 years the commission did not collect what was allowed by law. Susan Varnes (l.), president of Treasure Bay VI, called the fee raises "anti-business."

End of Tasmanian Monopoly?

Debate continues in Tasmania over the gambling monopoly held by the Federal Group, which operates Hobart’s Wrest Point Casino (l.) and Launceston’s Country Club. The operator’s lock on gaming continues until 2023, but is subject to renewal in 2018.

Packer’s Blues

Months after resigning as chairman of Crown Resorts, Aussie casino magnate James Packer (l.) has quit the company’s board. Reuters reports that the departure “cuts Packer’s influence” over the global firm, which is struggling due to the recession in Macau. Packer could be positioning to take the company private, however.

Kyrgyzstan to OK Casino

On December 22 the Kyrgyzstan Ministry of Economy announced it is considering a foreigners-only casino to be developed near the capital city of Biskek. The former Soviet republic outlawed gaming in 2011.


iPoker Bill Introduced in California

For the sixth time in as many years lawmakers in California have introduced bills that would legalize online poker. However, these bills are more likely to make it to a vote than any bills previously sponsored. Senator Isadore Hall (l.) will introduce the bill in the upper house.

DraftKings, FanDuel Fight Illinois Ban

FanDuel and DraftKings have both filed lawsuits against Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (l.) after she issued a ruling that daily fantasy sports are illegal in the state. Illinois joined New York, which also saw its attorney general declare the games illegal in that state. The two largest DFS sites continue to maintain that their contests are legal games of skill. Iowa may also act to change the rules on DFS.

Colombia Regulates Online

Late last month, Colombian gaming regulator Coljuegos announced it is considering several draft bills that would govern online gaming. Those bills have been released to the public for its input.

GAN Teams with Borgata, Lady Luck for Social Casino Games

Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa will partner with GAN (formerly GameAccount Network) to offer social “simulated gaming” through the casino’s online gambling sites. The system will introduce “free-to-play” social casino games connected to the casino’s rewards program, pending approval by state regulators. GAN also announced a deal with Lady Luck.

Joingo Partners with Big Stack

Mobile solution company Joingo has partnered with Big Stack Technologies to offer proprietary virtual casino games on the Joingo mobile app.

Armenia Bans Online Gambling Ads

Armenia’s government is close to issuing new regulations that would ban most advertising for online gambling sites. The move is aimed at cutting down exposure of the sites to underage and problem gamblers.

Keane, Paddy Power Reach Settlement

Roy Keane (l.), former captain of the Republic of Ireland and Manchester United football team, and Paddy Power reached an out-of-court settlement. Keane sued the bookmaker in July, claiming it used his image without his consent in its "Euro 2016—Braveheart" campaign.


Georgia Considering Parimutuels, Casinos in ‘16

Georgia legislators are considering allowing parimutuel wagering and casino gambling to boost the struggling Hope scholarship program with gambling tax revenue. Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert (l.) claims the lottery, which funds the program, is not paying its lawful share. Meanwhile more than two dozen lobbyists have registered with the state, including 14 from MGM Resorts International.

Caesars May Still Stop Suits

An appeals court in Chicago has overturned lower-court rulings that denied the request of Caesars Entertainment’s largest operating unit to halt shareholder lawsuits during bankruptcy proceedings.

Group Opposes Initiative to Allow Second Bay State Slots Parlor

A group opposed to an initiative that would allow a second slots parlor in the Bay State has appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court to try to keep the measure off the ballot. The suit names Attorney General Maura Healey (l.) for qualifying the measure for a vote.

Florida Slots Case Moving Forward

Gretna Racing in Gadsden County, Florida may file a friend-of-the-court brief in the state Supreme Court, which is considering whether slots may be allowed without legislative approval at Gretna Racing. Gadsden County also has asked to file a similar brief in the case that could have far-reaching implications.

Borgata Wants $62.5 Million Payment from Atlantic City

Atlantic City’s Borgata casino has asked a judge to force Atlantic City to pay it $62.5 million in back tax refunds. City officials, however, say they haven’t got the money and said they hope to negotiate a payment schedule with the casino.

Ohio Wants to Shut Down Charity Raffle Machines

Ohio state Attorney General Mike DeWine (l.) wants to shut down the raffle machines that 1,700 clubs and posts use to raise money for charity and veterans. The case will go to trial this summer.

U.S. Budget Bill Preserves Casino REITs

The U.S. Congress passed a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending and tax bill that preserves the right of casino companies to operate as real estate investment trusts.

Maine Initiative Would Add Casinos

A citizen petition drive in Maine aims to create a referendum that would legalize casino gaming in York County, in the southern part of the state.

Pennsylvania Gambling Funds Diverted

An investigation by a local newspaper has found that the Pennsylvania legislature has used funds meant to combat illegal gambling in the state for other purposes.

Cosmopolitan Turns Profit, Gets Makeover

The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas turned its first-ever profits during the latter half of 2015, and its owners initiated a $200 million renovation over the next three years that will create new gaming and recreational opportunities, including a new high-limit slots area, a bigger race and sports book, new restaurants, the CliQue lounge (l.), and nightclub.

Atlantic City Union Seeks Benefits Solution for Taj Mahal

Atlantic City’s largest casino workers union is in talks to partner with Mt. Sinai Health System to create a new benefits plan for workers, says union head Bob McDevitt (l.). The move could help solve one of the thorniest issues in the union’s fight with that Taj Mahal casino.

Las Vegas Strip Pedestrian Safety Examined

Las Vegas officials are looking at ways to help prevent future problems between drivers and pedestrians after a woman repeatedly drove her car onto the sidewalk in front of several casinos, killing one pedestrian and injuring dozens more on December 20. Building pedestrian skywalks and a light rail system are among potential solutions local officials are considering.

Forbes: Strip Lacks Importance for Sands

While the Las Vegas Strip at one time was its primary source of income, Las Vegas Sands’ ventures in Macau and Singapore far outweigh its Venetian and Palazzo casinos on the Las Vegas Strip in importance, and likely will continue to do so well into the future, according to Forbes.

Strong November At Mississippi Coast Casinos

Mississippi's 11 Gulf Coast casinos posted revenue of $91.4 million for November, up 3.4 percent over November 2014—a three-year increase of more than $9 million and the best November since 2008. River casinos posted $69.8 million, a $12 million decline since November 2013.

Bill Would Set Up Florida Gaming Commission

A five-member gaming commission has been proposed by state Senator Maria Sachs (l.) that would be designed to centralize regulations of all kinds of gaming in Florida. The bill has both proponents and opponents.

Tahoe Casino Renovation Planned

The Grand Lodge Casino at Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort & Spa will undergo a $5 million renovation over the next year that will improve its gaming, food, and beverage services for visitors and events. Casino operator Full House Resorts and Hyatt agreed to undertake the renovation, with Hyatt paying up to $3.5 million and Full House Resorts $1.5 million.

‘Polercoaster’ Ride Gets Approval In Atlantic City

The New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has approved a plan to build an innovative “Polercoaster” on land formerly occupied by the demolished Sands casino. The project still depends on tax incentives from the state.

Good November for Nevada

Slots play, record sports betting activity, and the calendar, helped Nevada casinos to post a 7.8 percent increase in gaming revenues this November and move slightly ahead of the revenue pace from a year earlier, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported. For the month, state casinos netted $944.3 million from $8.5 billion in wagers.

Illinois Releases Gaming Taxes

Cook County, Illinois will receive $3 million in casino tax revenue owed by Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, which fought a three-year court battle alleging the county's slot-machine tax was unfair. East St. Louis will receive $2.5 million following passage of a partial budget giving the state comptroller's office the authority to release the funds.

Tracinda Headquarters Moving to Las Vegas

The Tracinda Corporation is moving its headquarters from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to be closer to its largest asset, MGM Resorts International. Two Tracinda executives also are directors of MGM Resorts International and say they support efforts to create a real estate investment trust to generate more capital.

Nightclub Planned for Las Vegas Arena

Hyde Lounge at Las Vegas Arena will open in April, facility manager sbe announced. The lounge is located in the upper area of the arena owned by MGM Resorts and provides views of the action in the arena as well as the Las Vegas Strip and offers special VIP access, bottle service, and other amenities.

Convention Center Boom in Las Vegas

More than $3 billion in convention center projects either recently completed or underway in Las Vegas illustrate the high importance local properties place on maintaining Las Vegas as the world’s top destination for trade shows and conventions, which generated more than $7 billion in business in 2014.

Closed Atlantic City Race Course Files Tax Appeal

The closed Atlantic City racecourse in Hamilton Township New Jersey is seeking to lower its tax assessment for the second time since 2012. The owners won a previous appeal with a substantial drop in assessed value for the 250-acre site.


Kansas Can't Block Downstream Expansion

A lawsuit by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and the Cherokee County Commission seeking to block Downstream Casino's expansion into Kansas was tossed out by federal Judge Daniel Crabtree. Quapaw Chair John Berrey said the suit was "nothing but an attempt to discourage the tribe from pursuing its rights under federal law."

Texas Tribes Could Reopen Casinos

Texas Attorney General Kenneth Paxton has filed a lawsuit to stop the Texas Tigua (Speaking Rock casino at left) and the Alabama-Coushatta tribes from reopen their casinos, both closed by the state 13 years ago, even though the Interior Department and the National Indian Gaming Commission ruled the tribes may legally operate casinos on their reservations.

Catawba Nation Awaits Decision

The South Carolina-based Catawba Indian Nation is waiting to hear if the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs will take into trust 16 acres in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. The tribe, which filed its application in 2013, is in talks with Hard Rock International about a $600 million casino-hotel (l.) that would provide 5,000 jobs.

Seminoles, Genting Giving In Florida

The Seminole Tribe of Florida has given more than $2.7 million in the past three years to Florida politicians and PACs, including $100,000 to the Republican Party of Florida and $115,000 to the Florida Democratic Party in 2015. Genting's Resorts World Miami has given more than $120,000 in Florida this year.

Virginia Tribe’s Federal Recognition on Hold

The application by the Virginia tribe whose ancestors greeted the first settlers in the state 400 years ago has been waiting for years to be granted federal recognition. Currently the application is being held up by an appeal from a California anti-casino group.

California Tribe Plans $285 Million Expansion

The owners of one of the largest and most profitable Indian casino resorts in California have begun a $285 million expansion. The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians in Riverside County revealed the details on the expansion last week.

Miccosukees Lose Another Legal Round

Both a federal judge and an appeals court panel have claimed the Miccosukee Tribe's a lawsuit against Miami attorneys Guy Lewis, Michael Tein and Dexter Lehtinen had “no evidence or only patently frivolous evidence." Tribal attorney Bernardo Roman III, who filed the suit, is the target of a Florida bar ethics investigation.

California Tribe Proposes Casino Resort

Sacramento, California, would get one of its largest Indian casinos ever if the Wilton Rancheria gets permission for its Twin Cities Casino Resort. The tribe released the environmental impact for the casino last week.

Snoqualmie Denies Discrimination Charges

City officials in Snoqualmie, Washington denied allegations of racial discrimination and rights violations as claimed in a lawsuit filed by Snoqualmie Tribe against the city, its mayor and city council members. At the core of the dispute is the city's agreement to provide medical, fire, emergency and service to the Snoqualmie Casino.


Alabama Lawmaker Introducing Lottery Legislation

Alabama state Rep. Alan Harper (l.) said he will introduce a measure allowing voters to decide on a statewide lottery when the legislature convenes in January. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh recently announced he will not sponsor legislation that would have allowed a referendum on a state lottery and Las Vegas-style casinos.

Minnesota Lottery Director Quits

Minneapolis Lottery Director Ed Van Petten (l.) resigned after a Minneapolis Star Tribune report revealed he was reimbursed $7,000 for staying at personal timeshare units at conferences. Appointed by Governor Mark Dayton in 2012, legislators accused Van Petten of overstepping his authority after approving ticket sales online and at gas pumps and ATMs.

West Virginia Lottery Denies Request

The night before Deborah Carter submitted a request to be removed from West Virginia's voluntary self-exclusion list, she was spotted at the Mardi Gras Casino in Nitro and escorted out. As a result, state lottery commissioners denied her request, and placed her on the involuntary exclusion list, permanently.

Kansas Now Ensnared in Bogus Lottery Scam

Kansas is the fifth state to accuse Eddie Tipton of fixing lottery tickets. The former security chief for the Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association had access to machines to secretly install ticket-fixing software. He's out on appeal after being sentenced to 10 years in prison for fixing a $14.3 million Hot Lotto jackpot in 2010.


Heikki Rinta-Panttila Named Olympic General Manager

Olympic Entertainment Group has hired Heikki Rinta-Panttila, the former general manager at Casino RAY, as general manager at its new flagship casino in Tallinn, Estonia, set to open in May 2016. Rinta-Panttila has served as development manager, vice president and general manager at Finland’s state-owned Casino RAY and Grand Casino Helsinki.

Treasury Department Names Tribal Representatives

The U.S. Department of the Treasury recently appointed three members to the Tribal Advisory Committee on issues relating to Native Americans and taxes. They are Jamestown S'Klallam Tribal Chairman W. Ron Allen (l.), Cherokee Nation Treasurer Lacey Horn and Mohegan Tribe Lifetime Chief Marilynn "Lynn" Malerba.

Joseph Eve Adds Senior Auditor

Joseph Eve CPAs has named Joshua Branum as senior auditor, bringing Branum back to a function he performed previously with the firm.


Golden Entertainment Adds 1,000 Slots

Nevada’s largest slots operator got bigger with a $20 million acquisition of an unnamed slots operator in the state. The transaction gives Golden Entertainment more than 8,600 slots in Nevada, which are located in 46 taverns and restaurants, including PT's Pubs (l.), across the state. The unnamed seller also obtained 50,000 shares in Golden Entertainment.

AGA’s By The Book Adds Tribal Data

The American Gaming Association's By the Book online interactive resource now offers data on Class III Tribal gaming statutes and regulations in 28 states, along with key information on the regulatory environments and 2014 economic impact data for commercial casinos across 24 states.

Penn National to Use Scientific Games VLTs

Penn National Gaming has signed an agreement with Scientific Games to utilize the supplier’s WMS Blade gaming terminals in 270 Illinois bar and retail gaming establishments.

Classic Hotels & Resorts Teams With Duetto

Five Classic Hotels and Resorts in California and Arizona will implement Duetto's open pricing and price optimization technology solutions. Nearly 1,000 hotels and casinos in more than 50 countries utilize Duetto's revenue strategy services.

Borgata Plans Premier Nightclub

The Borgata casino resort in Atlantic City will add a $14 million nightlife experience it calls the Premier Nightclub, designed by Josh Held.

GLPI Properties Pick MicroFirst

Two properties owned and operated by Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc., have installed the service enhancement system produced by MicroFirst Gaming Inc.


ICE to Institute ‘Academy’

February’s Ice Totally Gaming show will debut the Totally Gaming Academy, a program of training courses involving both operations and gaming supply.

SuzoHapp Highlights ICE Lineup

SuzoHapp has announced the currency-handling solutions it will display at the ICE Totally Gaming trade show in London next month.

Quixant to Launch Processor at ICE

Quixant will launch the AMD Embedded R-Series processing unit at the ICE Totally Gaming trade show, heading a lineup of new gaming platform products.

GPI Details ICE Offering

Gaming Partners International will display a complete portfolio of table-game supplies, including chips, dice, playing cards and layouts, at the ICE Totally Gaming trade show.




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