Hard Rock Buys Taj Mahal

Carl Icahn will sell the closed Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City to Hard Rock International for an undisclosed price. The sale ends a long battle for Icahn, who had been fighting city casino unions since acquiring the property out of bankruptcy. Hard Rock says they intend to invest more than $300 million in the property and re-open it as early as 2018 as a Hard Rock Casino. Meanwhile, Icahn reportedly is considering tearing down his other former Trump casino, Trump Plaza.

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WEEKLY FEATURE: MGM Resorts Bids for Sands Bethlehem

Pennsylvania’s most successful casino may change owners. Sands Bethlehem CEO Mark Juliano in a note to casino employees told them that a potential buyer has expressed interest in buying the property (l.). Sources tell GGB News that the buyer is MGM Resorts, which would give that company yet another foothold in the east coast market, which it is beginning to dominate.

Connecticut Tribes Settles on East Windsor for Casino

MMCT Ventures, the partnership of Connecticut’s two gaming tribes, has chosen East Windsor, and a former cinema complex, as the site for their proposed third, satellite Indian casino. They still need to convince the legislature to give the go ahead, and the governor has asked state Attorney General George Jepsen (l.) about the constitutionality of the plan.

No Georgia Casino Legislation This Year

The votes simply were not there to pass out of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee a bill allowing two casino resorts in Georgia, state Senator Brandon Beach, the measure's sponsor. The bill faced opposition from conservatives and religious groups. Beach plans to travel the state to build support for the measure in 2018.

Macau GGR Surges 17.8 Percent

The ups and downs continue in Macau, where the gaming industry’s recovery has proven anything but predictable. GGR was up in February to MOP 23 billion, for a 17.8 percent spike year-on-year, spurred on by new developments like Wynn Palace (l.), the Parisian and Studio City.

Croker Takes Over at Aristocrat

Trevor Croker (l.) officially took the reins as CEO of Australia’s Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. after his official appointment at the slot supplier’s annual general meeting. He joined Aristocrat in 2009 with retiring CEO Jamie Odell, both coming from the beverage maker, Fosters.

Online Poker Building a Strong Hand in N.Y.

Legislative support is building to make online poker legal in the Empire State this year. Leaders in both the Senate and Assembly appear to be on board, the state's new casinos favor it, and it's not expected that Governor Andrew Cuomo (l.) will stand in the way.

Packer Overhauls Crown

Casino giant James Packer (l.) continues to remake his hospitality empire with a comprehensive restructure of Crown Resorts Ltd. CEO Rowen Craigie is out and Packer has also cancelled an initial public offering.

Gaming Grows Up

Mature gaming markets demand mature gaming policies. There are many long-established gaming jurisdictions that fall prey to politics and back-room deals to increase competition, taxes or fees. Here’s how to combat that creeping profit eater.


Galaxy Gears Up for Japan

Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group, which saw a 51 percent increase in profits in 2016, is one of many global operators hoping to expand into Japan when the country launches its legal gaming industry. Chairman Lui Che Woo (l.) says his company has some deep roots in Japan via his building materials business.

Vietnam a ‘Hot Spot’ for Investors

Legislation that would permit the Vietnamese people to gamble in the country’s casinos has made the jurisdiction a “hot spot” for leading operators including the Las Vegas Sands Corp., Crown Resorts and others. LVS global development MD George Tanasijevich (l.) says the company is “eager” to get started.

Silver Heritage Struggles in Nepal

The ASX-listed operator was readying the debut of its third casino in Nepal last week as reports swirled that the new Tiger Palace Resort Casino (l.)was beset with cost issues and other problems. An early March opening is expected, and it will bring Silver Heritage's India-facing portfolio to three full-scale casinos.

Sands China Launches Loyalty Program

Sands China is partnering with ICBC and MasterCard to offer the “Sands Lifestyle” loyalty program, which will allow members to earn points on worldwide purchases redeem them at LVS Macau resorts.

Another Delay for Imperial Pacific

Imperial Pacific International is again looking to delay the grand opening of its multibillion-dollar Imperial Pacific Resort on the island of Saipan. This time it will require amending its official license agreement.

Nippon Ishin Presents Gaming Bill

Japan’s Nippon Ishin no Kai Party has proposed new problem-gambling legislation, a bid by the Osaka-centric party to help that city win one of two integrated resorts licenses soon to be awarded in Japan.

Parsekar Defers Ruling on Sixth Goa Casino

Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar (l.) of the Indian state of Goa says any decision about the renewal of a sixth offshore casino license will be made by the incoming government.

Paradise Expects Short-term Drop in Profits

The opening of the Paradise City casino in Incheon, South Korea may negatively affect short-term operating profits of operator Paradise Co. Ltd., say analysts. The resort is due to open in April.

Suncity Junket to Expand

Suncity Group CEO Alvin Chau Cheok Wa (l.) says the junket investor will expand its global gaming business. Suncity, founded in Macau in 2007, has 26 rooms including operations in Manila, Melbourne and South Korea.


Study Finds UK Gambling Advertising Misleading

A study published by the University of Stirling found that UK gamblers can be misled by complicated gambling rules in TV advertisements. The study focused on ads for live odds during English Premier League matches and found they were biased towards complex and highly specific bets.

Kindred Buys 32Red Plc; Danske Spil Next?

Malta-based online gaming company Kindred Group Plc, formerly Unibet, will acquire U.K.-based 32Red Plc for $219 million. 32Red owns the Roxy Palace brand. Stockholders for 32Red are already close to approving the sale. Reports that Danish state-owned gaming operator Danske Spil will be next.

Scottish Bookmakers Launch Underage Gambling Program

The Association of British Bookmakers Scottish Division has launched a new six-month education project to curb underage gambling. The outreach project is the latest in a series of responsible gambling measures introduced by the ABB.

Court: Phil Ivey Can Appeal Crockfords Case

Poker pro Phil Ivey has been granted the right to appeal a case on his use of edge sorting at Crockfords casino in London to the UK’s highest court. Crockfords refused to pay Ivey winnings at baccarat in 2012 saying he used edge sorting to win. Crockfords stance has been upheld by several UK courts.


Bermuda to Launch Casino Training

Bermuda is on track to open a casino by 2018, according to the island territory’s Casino Gaming Commission. The young industry is now developing a plan to train its future employees, says Richard Schuetz (l.), executive director of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission.

Kiwi Betting Booms

The amount of money spent by gamblers in New Zealand rose by 5.6 percent in the 2015-16 financial year, according to the government Department of Internal Affairs.


Court Approves Fantasy Aces Bailout

A bankruptcy court has approved a bailout of the Fantasy Aces daily fantasy sports site by DFS site FantasyDraft, which will acquire Fantasy Aces Player Database. FantasyDraft plans to give fantast Aces players up to $1,000 to cover their accounts.

Online Gambling Rises in Spain

Online gambling in the Spanish market rose by 13 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 and 20 percent over 2015 according to a report by Spain’s General Directorate for the Regulation of Gambling Affairs. The numbers reflect a 17 percent increase in new players over 2015.

Czech Court Rules Online Gambling Site Blocks Legal

The Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic has ruled that the country has the constitutional right to block unlicensed online gambling sites. The country has just put in tough new licensing rules and some legislators sought a ruling on the blocking from the court.

Online Gaming Up in Denmark

Denmark saw a 13 percent increase in online gaming in 2016 according to Danish regulators. The country saw gross gaming revenue of $5.3 billion in 2016.

Coral Launches Video Advertising from Fresh8 Gaming

UK bookmaker Coral has announced the launch of a video advertising product for online gaming. Partnering with Fresh8 Gaming. Coral will use the Fresh8 technology to power auto-generated videos with real-time offers and odds.


Vegas on a Roll

Resort operators in the gaming mecca are racking up the best hotel room rates ever as visitation continues to build on 2016's banner numbers, exceeding 3.5 million in January. Air travel counts for the month were the third-best in history. Strip gaming win was up more than 14 percent.

Pennsylvania Schedules Joint Hearing on Gaming

Members of the gaming oversight committees of the Pennsylvania House and Senate will hold a joint hearing on Tuesday, March 7 to discuss iGaming, casino host fees and gaming expansion proposals.

Missouri, Illinois Propose Slot Expansion

Missouri and Illinois lawmakers proposed measures concerning video gambling machines. Missouri state Rep. Bart Korman's bill would let bars and restaurants install up to five machines, and fraternal organizations up to 10. The Illinois Senate voted 31-26 to allow slots at racetracks. Illinois state Senator James Clayborne introduced a measure allowing up to 200 video gambling machines at Gateway Motorsports Park (l.).

Alabama Reviewing Gaming Options

A gaming advisory council to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (l.) is reviewing everything from all-out gambling to a lottery to a gaming compact with the Poarch Creek Indians, said council member state Rep. Connie Rowe. She said the tribe makes billions of tax-free dollars from its three casinos in the state.

Gaming Expanding Across New York

Tioga Downs (l.) has added more than 450 machine games to its newly expanded gaming floor as New York continues to bulk up as a leading casino state. The expansion comes as Seneca Buffalo prepares to roll out $40 million in new gaming and non-gaming attractions and a new VLT venue opens its doors on Long Island.

Indiana House Drops Casino Admissions Tax

In a 74-22 vote, the Indiana House approved legislation sponsored by state Rep. Todd Huston (l.) that would end casinos' $3 admission tax and add a new 3 percent tax on gambling revenue, beginning in July 2018. Huston called the admission tax "antiquated" and said the new tax "modernizes" the state's gaming tax structure.

Kansas Crossing Closer To Opening

More than 600 Aristocrat slot machines recently arrived at the $80 million Kansas Crossing Casino and Hotel in Pittsburg, Kansas. The property will offer video poker, traditional slots, progressive slots and 16 table games, plus a 123-room Hampton Inn and Suites and a 600-seat entertainment complex. It's expected to open within 60 days.

Wynn Harbor Cost Now $2.4 billion

In the months since August when Wynn estimated that the Wynn Boston Harbor (l.) near Boston would cost $2.1 billion to build, $300 million has been tacked onto the expected total. The casino, slated to open mid-way 2019 will not skimp on amenities, despite the additional costs, says Greg John, a spokesman.

Gulfport Developer Has Financing, Name

With the required $40 million in financing lined up, and an unofficial name—Golden Harbor--Mississippi Coast Entertainment's proposed $140 million Gulfport casino is moving forward, said Virginia attorney and developer Robert Lubin. He expects the Mississippi Gaming Commission to grant construction approval at its March 16 meeting.

Poll Shows Americans Split on Sports Betting

A new poll from Seton Hall University shows that Americans are split over the legalization of sports betting, but that legalization is supported by a majority of those under age 30.

Maryland Bill Aims at Ending State-Owned Slots

A bill in Maryland’s General Assembly aims to end the state’s role as the purchaser of slot machines for casinos, by offering tax incentives to the last two with state-owned slots (l. at Maryland Live!).

Poll Shows South Carolinians Support Casinos

In a recent poll, 68 percent of South Carolina residents said they support legislation allowing casinos if the tax revenue is used for road repairs; 30 percent opposed. "This is literally earth shattering," said state Rep. Todd Rutherford (l.), the bill's sponsor. Republicans, who hold majorities in both chambers, oppose the measure.

Former Revel Owner Refusing to Pay Atlantic City Casino Tax

Florida developer Glenn Straub (l.) is refusing to pay casino taxes due on his closed Revel casino in Atlantic City. Straub maintains that the closed casino is exempt from the state’s payment in lieu of taxes program in effect for city casinos. The state has not responded, but has previously indicated the property is required to make the payments.

Mystique Casino Now Called Q Casino

Mystique Casino in Dubuque, Iowa recently was renamed Q Casino, hoping to better compete with Diamond Jo Casino and two new Davenport operations. The venue lost 32 percent in revenue from 2008 through 2016. Q Casino will renovate its two restaurants, keep the gaming floor open 24/7 and bring in major musical acts.

In Las Vegas, Heaven for Gamers

A new 15,000-square-foot arena for e-sports and video gaming is coming to Fremont Street next month. Millennial Esports, as it’s called, will feature stadium seating, a main stage, video walls, concessions and the state-of-the-art in broadcast and internet facilities.

Pennsylvania Casino Celebrates 10th anniversary

Presque Isle Downs & Casino is celebrating its 10th anniversary. It has turned out to be the “golden goose” for Erie County according to Perry Wood, executive director of the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority.

Rising Star Develops RV Park

Construction started on a $1.5 million RV park at Rising Star Casino in Rising Sun, Indiana. Dan Lee, chief executive officer at casino owner Full House Resorts Inc. said no other Indiana offers an RV park. The state legislature recently denied Full House's request to move unused slots to a Terre Haute facility.


Seminoles Reject Senate, House Bills

Seminole officials recently said gambling bills proposed in the Florida Senate and House "do not make economic sense for the tribe." Tribal Council Chairman Marcellus Osceola (l.) said both bills would demand significant increases in revenue sharing without guarantees of exclusivity to justify higher payments. Furthermore, he said, the proposals might violate IGRA requirements.

Supreme Court Awaits Trump Request

The U.S. Supreme Court is giving the Trump administration until March 20 to decide if it wants to weigh in on the case of the Gun Lake Tribe of Michigan. A man who lives near the Gun Lake casino (l.) is appealing his case challenging the casino’s legality.

North Dakota Proposal: State Owned Casinos

The majority leader of the North Dakota House, Al Carlson (l.), wants the state to get into the casino business. Six Indian reservations currently offer gaming; however, he would like to break up that monopoly.

Idaho Tribal Gaming Measure Killed

A bill that would have had the effect of making tribal slot machines illegal in Idaho has been narrowly defeated in a committee vote last week. Rep. Tom Loertscher (l.) claims that video machines violate the state’s constitution.

Two Washington Tribes Building Additions

Within two miles of each other, two Washington tribal casinos are, in one case, building an addition, and in the other, a brand-new casino. The Kalispel Tribe last week announced a $20 million expansion while the nearby Spokane Tribe of Indians is building a $40 million casino—part of a much larger project.

Michigan Casino Doubling, Adding 100 Jobs

The Gun Lake Casino in Wayland, Michigan is doubling its size to 73,000 square feet. The project will bring in 500 new slots for a total of 2,100 and create a 20,000 square foot Harvest Buffet, featuring locally sourced meat and vegetables. The project will create 100 new jobs.

Cowlitz Chairman Awaits Ilani Casino

Bill Iyall (l.), chairman of the tribe Cowlitz Indian Tribe in Washington, can’t wait for the $510 million Ilani Casino Resort to open in April. It’s a culmination of efforts spanning several generations of his family and tribe.

Two of Three Renovation Steps Completed

The Grand Portage Lodge and Casino (l.) in Grand Portage, Minnesota recently completed the second of a three-step renovation project, featuring an expanded 12,000 square foot gaming floor with more than 400 new slots, blackjack and other table games. Part three will include an events center, new offices and updated restaurant and lounge.

Factions Face Off Over Proposed Casino

The proposed casino on Star Lake in Otter Tail County, Minnesota has various groups up in arms. Tribal officials said the casino would offer the tribe more self-sufficiency. Some within the tribe said it's "a fallacy" that the casino would create new jobs. A citizens' group said it's concerned about environmental impact.

Former Macy's Becoming Treasure Island Center

In downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, a long-vacant Macy's store is being transformed into the Treasure Island Center under a multi-year agreement between the St. Paul Port Authority and Treasure Island Resort and Casino. The facility will offer an ice rink, orthopedic clinic, brewpub, retail and office space, but no casino.


Bryant Urges Mississippi Lottery

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (l.) wants legislators to approve a state lottery that could raise $50-$60 million in annual tax revenue. A lottery bill died in the House and another, with a lottery amendment, failed in the Senate. But Bryant said Senators could add a lottery to an existing bill.

Florida House Preps For Lottery Trial

A trial will begin March 6 in Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran's lawsuit against the Florida Lottery. Corcoran (l.) accused the Lottery "wasteful and improper spending" for signing a multi-year, $700 million contract with International Game Technology. Corcoran said the Lottery can’t sign “a contract that spends beyond existing budget limitations.”


Navajo Gaming CEO Under Attack

Brian Parrish, chief executive officer of the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, is coming under fire for his involvement in 2002 in contest rigging contest in Las Vegas. So far his employer, the chairman of the board, Quincy Natay, is supporting him.

Baazov Trial Scheduled for November

Former Amaya Inc. CEO David Baazov’s trial on insider trading charges is scheduled for November, according to Quebec media. The trial is expected to last about 13 weeks. Baazov faces charges he tried to the market price of Amaya while CEO and during the company’s purchase of PokerStars.

Chehalis Tribe Promotes Miles

The Chehalis Tribe recently named Lisa Miles as interim Chief Executive Officer at Lucky Eagle Casino in Rochester, Washington. Miles joined Lucky Eagle in 2002 and previously worked for Ernst & Young in Chicago, as well as Bally Entertainment, Tulalip Casino and Six Flags.

Codeta Nabs Ex-Tain CEO

Codeta.com has recruited online gaming veteran Patrik Svensson to head up technology for the Sweden-based innovator in live table gaming on the internet. The new CTO will be key to Codeta's plans to expand globally, the company says.

Pariplay Names Soffer Business Development Chief

Gaming technology company Pariplay Ltd. has named Gil Soffer vice president of sales and business development. Soffer will develop new international business relationships for Pariplay's suite of gaming and lottery platforms and proprietary games portfolio. Previously he was an international business consultant at Isle of Man-based Playtech.


Scientific Games Partners with Golden Nugget

Scientific Games will partner with Golden Nugget Hotels and Casinos and Landry’s to deploy its CMP player-loyalty system with the Landry’s Select Card Program. Derik Mooberry (l.), Scientific Games group chief executive of gaming, says the integration is unprecedented.

GameCo Receives GLI Certification, Launches New Games

GameCo, Inc. received certification from Gaming Laboratories International for its skill-based slot machines under the GLI-11 standard, while expanding its product line. Blaine Graboyes (l.), CEO of GameCo, calls it a “huge milestone.”

MGM, B.C. Lottery Partner for Responsible Gaming

MGM Resorts International has endorsed the British Columbia Lottery Corp.'s innovative GameSense problem gambling program and is contributing $1 million to fund new research in partnership with the BCLC. MGM also plans to introduce GameSense in its casinos across the U.S.


ICE Sets Attendance Record

The 2017 ICE Totally Gaming trade show in London broke attendance records, passing 30,000 attendees for the first time in its history in the sixth consecutive year of growth.




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