Struggling Lucky Dragon Closes Casino

Financial woes have forced the first ground-up casino development in Las Vegas in seven years―and the first entirely themed and marketed to an Asian clientele―to shut down its gaming floor and restaurants. Management says it’s working to right the ship and reopen, hopefully, in the next six months.

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WEEKLY FEATURE: Macau Ends Losing Streak

Gross gaming revenues generated by Macau’s casino industry were up 19.1 percent for full-year 2017 compared to 2016. The total was MOP265.74 billion (US$33 billion) compared to MOP223.21 billion in the prior year. It was the first time annual revenue rose in the SAR in three years but December fell short of expectations. And will a new restriction on cash access via credit cards adversely impact the casino industry?

NYX Deal Done

Scientific Games last week completed the acquisition of NYX Gaming Group, first announced late last year. The combination of the two companies creates a leading B2B provider of digital gaming and sports betting technology, platforms, products and content. Kevin Sheehan (l.), Scientific Games chief executive officer and president, says the deal makes his company stronger.

Caesars REIT To Go Public

Vici Properties, created as part of the Caesars bankruptcy settlement, is readying an IPO that will list the company on the New York Stock Exchange. Vici, which currently owns 19 Caesars casinos in nine states, plans to use the proceeds to pay down debt and fund more acquisitions, including Harrah’s Atlantic City (l.).

Nepal Tiger Casino Opens

Starting with a New Year’s Eve bash, Sydney-listed Silver Heritage Group launched its casino at Tiger Palace Resort Bhairahawa in Nepal. The Asian operator paid a casino license fee of NPR20 million (US$194,000).

Massachusetts Tribe Closes Casino Office

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Gaming Authority in Taunton, Massachusetts has closed its tribal offices and the tribe is laying off employees. Some see this as the death knell of the tribe’s efforts to build a $1 billion casino in Taunton. Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell (l.) says the tribe is in it for the long haul.

Baha Mar Founder Sues Chinese Contractor

Sarkis Izmirlian (l.), founder and original owner of the Baha Mar Resort in the Bahamas, is suing China Construction America, the Chinese state-owned building contractor, alleging massive fraud.

New Jersey’s Brendan Byrne Dies

Former New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne, the major force behind the legalization of gaming in Atlantic City, died last week at 93. Under Byrne, two referendums were held to legalize gambling in the state. The second time was the charm.

Russia Backs Off Casino Tax

Russian lawmakers have passed a law exempting casinos from a requirement to deduct taxes from their clients’ winnings. The law was signed by President Vladimir Putin (l.) at the end of 2017.


Universal Takes Okada to Court

Universal Entertainment subsidiary Tiger Resort has filed a lawsuit against onetime boss Kazuo Okada (l.). The company is seeking $17.4 million in damages due to the former director’s alleged misappropriation of funds.

Jeju Shinhwa Opening Delayed Again

The grand opening of Jeju Shinhwa World on South Korea’s Jeju Island has been pushed back from January 18 to a “later date,” according to Hong Kong-listed Landing International Development Ltd.

Okura Hotel Coming to RW Manila

Casino operator Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc. has announced it will add a new Okura-branded hotel at Resorts World Manila. The 191-room hotel is expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Crown Towers Manila to Be Renamed

Like its counterpart in Macau, the Crown Towers hotel (l.) at City of Dreams Manila will get a new name starting January 16. The 300-room tower will operate under the name Nüwa, according to the company website.

Philippine Casinos Now Filing AML Reports

Starting January 4, Philippine casinos were required to file anti-money laundering reports with the government. They must now require all patrons to show identification and also keep records of gambling activities.

Donaco Prevails in Paradise Fight

Donaco International Ltd. says it’s won a court injunction to shutter the nearby Star Paradise casino resort in Cambodia. Donaco contends the property conducted gaming in violation of a non-compete agreement.

Philippine Lawmaker Pushes Casino Entry Fee

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III (l.), a member of the Philippines Commission on Appointments, is lobbying for a P3,000 (US$62) casino entry fee. He says the revenue would “serve as a deterrent” to compulsive gamblers

Vietnam’s Laguna in Line for Casino

A proposed casino at the Laguna Lăng Cô beach resort in Vietnam may be in place by 2021, say supporters of the plan. The casino would launch with 500 electronic gaming machines and grow from there.

Pechanga Opens $285 Million Expansion

The largest casino resort in California, Pechanga Resort & Casino, just got larger. Last week the Southern California Indian casino opened a $285 million expansion, including a 14-story hotel tower.


Ireland Rejects Betting Tax Hike

Irish lawmakers have nixed a proposal that would have doubled the betting duty from 1 percent to 2 percent. They heeded warnings from the industry that the increase could lead to the loss of businesses and jobs. Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe (l.) says it may be reconsidered next year.

Finland to Require Players to Confirm ID

The national betting agency of Finland, Veikkaus, has announced that by 2023 all player of slot machines will be required to confirm their identities. There are about 18,000 machines in Finland, mainly at supermarkets, kiosks and gas stations.

Sweden May Liberalize Gaming Market

Sweden is taking back control of the gambling market, a government minister announced recently. The EU has declined to act, and so Sweden is walking through the open door.

Big Winners in Gala Coral Merger

According to a report in the UK newspaper the Times, three corporate turnaround specialists that are being credited with reviving the fortunes of Gala Coral are holding shares worth more than £40m following the merger of the two bookmakers. The disclosure came with the announcement of a potential £4 billion merger between Ladbrokes Coral and GVC Holdings.

Scientific Games Criticized in UK

Scientific Games, a company that makes thousands of the UK’s fixed-odds betting terminals, has come under fire for offering gambling-style apps on Facebook without age checks. The apps—which are often themed on cartoons and fairy tales—are prompting allegations that children are being exposed to the risk of gambling addiction.


Bahamas Announces Grand Lucayan Sale

Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa will sell the Grand Lucayan (l.) strip hotel to Toronto-based Wynn Group under a recently signed letter of intent. The renovation project will reopen 1,000 rooms and create 1,000 jobs at the resort, which has been closed since October due to Hurricane Matthew damages.

Star Brisbane Project Gets Government OK

The government of Queensland, Australia has approved the development plan for Star Entertainment Group’s Queen’s Wharf Brisbane project. The complex will include a casino hotels and a residential component.

Ontario Considers Updating Sports Betting

The Ontario Gaming and Lottery Association is taking proposals to expand and update its online and mobile betting platforms to offer eSports and in-game wagering. Single-game betting is illegal in Canada but provinces offer limited sports lotteries. Still, Canadians spend $4 billion annually on offshore sports betting, according to the Canadian Gaming Association.

Proposed Ontario Casino Stirs Opposition

Some residents of Sudbury, Ontario, oppose a $60 million casino that has been proposed for the town. They claim they were never asked their opinion about the proposal.

Ontario’s Six Nations to Get $100 million

The Six Nations of Ontario will be paid about $100 million over the next two decades as part of an agreement with the provincial government. Some of the money will come from gaming.

Union Floored By FOI Fee

UNITE HERE, representing North American casino workers, , was billed more than a half-million dollars by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation for requesting records on casinos' anti-money laundering compliance. A union representative said the bill for the request, made under freedom of information laws, was "prohibitively high" and "a deterrent to accessing information."


Fantasy Sports Becomes Legal In Ohio

Ohio has legalized fantasy sports and put it under the watchful eye of the Ohio Casino Control Commission. The new law has the support of the state’s sports teams, including the Cleveland Indians

Spain Offers New Window for Online Gaming Licenses

Spanish gambling regulators are offering a new window for applications for online gaming licenses in the country. The extension comes as Spain is readying for shared online poker liquidity with other European jurisdictions. The country hopes to attract about 10 new operators, officials said. Winamax is expected to make a bid.

Crown Resorts to Sell CrownBet stake for $117 Million

Crown Resorts has agreed to sell its 62 percent stake in online betting company CrownBet $117 million. The company announced that it has an agreement with a buyer described only as “an entity associated with other shareholders in CrownBet, including CrownBet management team” led by CEO Matthew Tripp.

Hawaii Legislators Criticize Loot Boxes

Two Hawaii state legislators have come out against the sale of video game loot boxes in games such as EA Sports Star Wars Battlefront 2. Loot boxes contain virtual items used in the game and can be bought for real money. Since some items are valued more highly than others—and in some games, they are traded and gambled for real money—critics say they introduce children to gambling.

Optima Partners With Betfred

Optima announced an agreement with Betfred Group that will see the company provide its platform, ongoing development and support for Betfred’s online, retail and call center business. The deal includes the rollout of the OPTIMAMGS platform and its retail product Serverless v2 for over 1600 betting shops supporting near 4,000 point of sale OTC terminals.

FanDuel Offering Bitcoin Prizes

FanDuel offered the cryptocurrency Bitcoin as prizes in NFL tournaments for the first weekend of the NFL playoffs. The daily fantasy site began by offering one Bitcoin to the winner of its free NFL Wild-Card weekend tournament and two Bitcoins to the winner of its $3 tournament. Also, Yahoo has announced it will no longer offer fantasy golf in 2018.

World Poker Fund to Acquire Cryptocurrency Wallet

Social gaming developer World Poker Fund Holdings, Inc. announced it has signed a term sheet to acquire the intellectual property of a digital currency wallet. The wallet is currently being implemented into a non-gaming social app, the company said. The company plans to integrate the wallet into its gaming platforms. In another story, reports say the Caribbean island of Curacao has issued a blockchain casino license to a company called Edgeless.


Louisiana Casinos Want To Move Ashore

A task force in Louisiana is reviewing the pros and cons of permitting the state's 15 licensed riverboat casinos to move ashore, including Boyd Gaming’s Treasure Chest casino (l.) near New Orleans. Proponents said the move is necessary to compete with neighboring states, adding some of the vessels are 25 years old and may need to be replaced soon.

Feds Concentrate on California Card Rooms

Some question why California’s card rooms have been the focus in the last seven years of more enforcement by federal agents than all of the commercial gaming enterprises in the rest of the nation combined. That includes raids for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, money laundering and racketeering, among others. Artichoke Joe’s (l.) in San Bruno was fined $8 million by FinCEN last year

States Scrambling for Sports Betting

Delaware could be first on board if traditional sports betting is legalized outside of Nevada. Indiana is preparing to join the club, but it’s unlikely that the wager will become legal in Texas. Governor Greg Abbott (l.) and the legislature will undoubtedly oppose it despite the possibility of a huge economic impact.

LVCVA Launches New ‘What Happens Here’ Ad

The tourism agency shelved one of the most successful slogans ever in the aftermath of the October mass shooting on the Strip. But the LVCVA says it’s time for Las Vegas to be fun again and to celebrate it’s airing the first of a new slate of “What Happens Here, Stays Here” commercials.

More Than 900 PA Municipalities Ban Satellite Casinos

The final tally of municipalities that acted to opt out of the new Pennsylvania law allowing 750-slot satellite or “mini-casinos” is 936 jurisdictions, in which the mini-casinos are now banned. All 60 towns in Lancaster County, home of the Amish community, voted to opt out.

Economic Impact of Hollywood Casino Columbus Hard to Measure

Five years after the opening of the Hollywood Casino Columbus (l.) in the city’s West Side, opinions are mixed how much business activity it has generated separate from actual gaming. The casino, owned by Penn National Gaming, is the most profitable of the Buckeye State’s four casinos.

Lawmakers Pursue Casino-Tax Commitment

A constitutional amendment assuring the state's share of casino tax revenue mainly will be used for education will be introduced by Maryland state Rep. Maggie McIntosh and state Senator Joan Carter Conway (l.). They said voters are concerned gaming revenue goes to the Education Trust Fund but then gets mingled into the general fund.

Virgin Islands Requires Casino Compliance

VIGL, owners of Hotel Caravelle & Casino (l.) in St. Croix, may expand slots but won't receive a license extension. The VI Casino Commission said the company first must complete a 75-room hotel with banquet facilities for 400. Commissioners said they will give VIGL six months to qualify for a permanent casino license.

Bill Revisits Florida County Slots Issue

Last year the Florida Supreme Court unanimously ruled against allowing slots at Gretna Racing in Gadsden County plus seven others where voters approved them. But state Rep. Ramon Alexander's HB1111 would allow another countywide referendum on the issue. The county has a population of 46,000 and a 20 percent poverty rate.

Boyd Will Refocus Four Pinnacle Casinos

Mergers are heating up the U.S. regional gaming scene, and Boyd Gaming is in the thick of the fray. The company is spending $575 million to add four Pinnacle casinos in three states to its portfolio and another $280.5 million to snap up Pennsylvania’s Valley Forge Casino Resort (l.).

Genting Moving Forward On Miami Marina

The Miami City Commission voted to transfer submerged land from the Florida Department of Transportation to the city, then lease it to Genting subsidiary Resorts World Miami for a marina at the former Miami Herald site (l.). Genting bought the property in 2012 for $236 million for a casino resort but legislators have rejected expanded gambling.

One Month In, Tropicana Evansville Revenue Rises

Moving ashore made a huge difference at Tropicana Evansville (l.), which, in its first full month a land-based casino, posted gross revenue of $11.94 million in November, up from $10.66 million in October 2017 and $8.8 million in November 2016. The $50 million property opened October 20, after Indiana lawmakers allowed land-based casinos in 2016.

Kentucky Coal Country Considers Casinos

To offset vanishing coal-mining jobs in eastern Kentucky, investors in Jenkins have proposed building the Raven Rock Lodge and Resort, featuring a 300-room hotel, an adventure park and a 150,000 square foot casino. Legislators also plan to introduce bills legalizing casino gambling to help plug the state's $41 billion pension fund gap.

UNLV Wins Big in Stadium Deal

The university has wrung a joint-use agreement from the NFL Raiders that guarantee it a lion’s share of seat revenue during its home games at Las Vegas’ new $1.8 billion domed stadium. The Raiders, meanwhile, will be getting a bargain on land in the suburb of Henderson for a new headquarters.

Rhode Island Legislature Faces Gaming Issues

Rhode Island, whose third largest source of income is its two casinos, is facing a $60 million deficit this year. It may look at increasing how much it gets from its casinos and could allow state-operated internet gaming.

Slumping Sales Plague LV Monorail

Ridership on the Strip Monorail continues to fall short of projections. Company officials blame ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft for the problem. Whatever the reason, it’s bad news for plans to extend the line from MGM Grand to Mandalay Bay.

Observation Wheel Attraction Opens in Atlantic City

A $14 million observation wheel attraction has opened in Atlantic City. The 227-foot structure is billed as the third largest in the U.S. The project, at the resort’s Steel Pier, has been touted as a step towards diversifying the resort’s attractions.

Simulcasting Continues In Nebraska

In October, the Nebraska State Racing Commission declared simulcasting must end at the state's four thoroughbred racetracks at 11:59 p.m. on December 31. A federal judge upheld that decision. But simulcasting providers Omaha Exposition and Racing appealed and the commission reversed its position, without specifying a reason, just before 1 a.m. January 1.


Indiana’s First Tribal Casino Opens January 16

The first tribal casino in Indiana and the fourth of its brand, Four Winds South Bend (l.) will open January 16, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians announced. The 175,000 square foot venue will offer 1,800 games, four restaurants, players lounge, coffee shop, three bars and retail, and will provide 1,200 jobs.

Beloit Casino Would "Devastate" Rockford

The Ho-Chunk Nation announced plans to build a $405.5 million casino and entertainment zone in Beloit, Wisconsin on the Illinois state line. Beloit City Manager Lori Luther called the project "a potential game-changer" but Illinois state Senator Dave Syverson (l.) said it would devastate Rockford Governor Scott Walker could approve the casino, the tribe's largest, in 2019.

MGM Wants to Intervene in Connecticut Lawsuit

MGM Resorts International has filed in federal court seeking to intervene in a case filed against the Department of the Interior by Connecticut and its two gaming tribes. The tribes seek to force a ruling on a tribal gaming compact that would allow it to open a casino near the Massachusetts state line that would compete with the MGM Springfield (l.).

Lawsuit Challenging Elk Grove Casino Goes to Court

The case brought by challengers of a casino in Elk Grove, California that the Wilton Rancheria Indian Tribe hopes to build will have its first hearing on January 9. The court will gavel to order in federal district court in Washington D.C.

Tribe Loses Claim that Connecticut Owes It $610 Million

The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation has lost its court case seeking $610 million from the state of Connecticut. The tribe claims the state took 2,000 acres from it without paying more than 100 years ago. The judge disagreed.

Santa Fe Opera Getting Casino Neighbor

The Tesuque Pueblo announced plans to build a casino next to the Santa Fe Opera (l.). Tribal and opera officials have been in talks the past year to make sure the development considers the opera's unique open-air setting. The casino will open in fall 2018 with 750 slots and table games.

Gun Lake Donates Unclaimed Winnings

Three Michigan charities received donations totaling $20,000 from unclaimed slot and table game winnings at the Gun Lake Casino in Bradley. The tribe also gave $8.2 million as part of its biannual revenue sharing payment to the state of Michigan and local governments, schools and non-profit groups—up 24 percent over 2016.

New Mexico Study to Focus on Problem Gambling

Tribal gaming will help fund a study on problem gambling in New Mexico by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. The study was commissioned by the Responsible Gaming Association of New Mexico.

Spokane Tribe Opens Airway Heights Casino

The Spokane Tribe of Indians' opened Monday, January 8, featuring 450 slot machines, 12 table games, a restaurant-bar, deli and gaming-floor bar. Various areas are named for tribally significant places, customs and animals. The casino will provide 350 new jobs. Future plans include a hotel, retail and other supporting businesses.


Mississippi Considers Lottery Legislation

Mississippi ranks among six states without a lottery. Residents annually spend $5-$10 million on Arkansas' lottery and $30 million on Louisiana's. Governor Phil Bryant (l.) said Mississippi should consider creating a lottery to generate revenue without raising taxes. And Senate Finance Committee Chairman Fillingane said he'd allow a vote on lottery legislation.

Lottery Glitch Could Cost State $20 Million

On Christmas day, a computer glitch turned $1 Holiday Cash Add-A-Play tickets into $500 winners in the South Carolina Education Lottery. Word got around as players rushed to buy tickets. Now lottery officials set aside $19.6 million in possible payouts while they and computer system vendor Intralot investigates what happened.

Powerball, Mega Millions Jackpots Soaring

Since no one claimed the Mega Millions or Powerball jackpots at the end of 2017, both reached more than $300 million at the same time for the second time in U.S. lottery history. Currently the Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots rank among the top 25 all-time U.S. lottery jackpots for the annuity and cash values.


Atlantic City Has a New Mayor

Frank Gilliam Jr. was sworn in as Atlantic City’s new mayor succeeding Don Guardian. He told attendees at the city’s swearing in ceremony that he looks forward to making the city the “shining star of New Jersey.” Also, former state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority Director John Palmieri and been named Newark deputy mayor for economic growth.

Tabcorp Sets Merger Team

Tabcorp Holdings has announced its executive team that will lead the completion of its merger with Tatts Group. They include Managing Director and CEO David Attenborough (l.) and Chief Financial Officer Damien Johnston.

Moon Named CEO of Kangwon Land

Kangwon Land Inc., the sole casino operator in South Korea permitted to offer locals gaming, has appointed Moon Tae-Gon its new CEO. He will lead the company as the government cracks down on revenue growth.

Tribal Woman to Run for Idaho Governor

A tribal woman steeped in the issue of tribal gaming has announced she will run for governor of Idaho. Paulette Jordon is the first Indian woman to run for governor of the state.


IGT Expands Optima Partnership, Eyes Macau

IGT has expanded its strategic partnership with Optima Group for delivery of sports-betting services and the development of IGT’s sports betting platform, as its first new games arrive on casino floors in Macau.

M2G Releases Hotel Forecasting Module

M2G Analytics has released its largest hotel bookings forecasting module as part of its Casino Database Analytics suite of artificial intelligence products.

Macau Issues New ETG Standards

Macau has enacted new technical standards for live-dealer electronic gable games, the first such regulations tailored specifically for the live-dealer ETG genre.

DC Comics Registers Gambling Trademarks

DC Comics, home of superheroes from Superman to Batman and the Green Lantern, has registered a number of its trademarks for use as themes in gambling machines.


Miss America Pageant Under Fire for Casino Reinvestment Funds Subsidy

Controversy surrounding the Miss America Pageant has led to some New Jersey lawmakers questioning the pageant’s $4 million a year subsidy of casino reinvestment funds (Contestants on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City at left). Lawmakers argue that the pageant has not brought the economic impact to the city to justify the subsidy. Coupled with the pageant’s recent loss of Dick Clark Productions as a TV partner, the pageant’s future in the resort is uncertain.

WHO Adds ‘Gaming Addiction’ to Mental Health Disorders

The World Health Organization will soon issue its International Classification of Diseases and a new condition will be included: gaming addiction. WHO generally sets the pace for doctors and other medical professionals, who will now put gaming addiction on a similar plane as gambling addiction.

DNA May Reveal Jackpot Winner

A forensic analysis may determine the true winner of $920,000 in a November drawing of the Thailand lottery. Charoon Wimon claimed the prize and deposited the winnings. But his bank account was frozen after Preecha Kraikruan disputed Wimon. Officials will examine the tickets for fingerprints and Kraikruan's DNA. Results are expected later this month.




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