Michigan Governor Shoots Down iGaming Bill

In an unexpected development, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (l.) vetoed state Rep. Brandt Iden's online gambling bill, which had passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan approval. Snyder, who left office on January 1 due to term limits, said he was concerned online gambling could cannibalize state lottery sales and "encourage gambling by making it much easier to do."

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WEEKLY FEATURE: Up, Up and Away In Macau

Macau ended 2018 on a positive note, with total gross gaming revenue up 14 percent year-on-year. GGR came in at almost MOP302.85 billion (US$37.57 billion), compared to MOP265.74 billion 2017. The results exceeded analysts’ expectations for 2018, but they warn that 2019 should not feature the same double-digit growth.

China Suspends Philippine Tours

Last month, China suspended visa applications for tour groups from the Philippines due to “unprofessional operation” by an unlicensed travel agent in China. Individual visas will not be affected by the shutdown. It’s doubtful that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (l.) will retaliate because any action could make the situation worse.

Frissora Staying Put—For Now

Caesars Entertainment has prevailed on departing CEO Mark Frissora to remain in his position at least through the end of April. Frissora was set to leave in February, but Caesars says it needs more time to find his successor.

Berman Forms Esports Company

Grand Casinos co-founder and AGA Gaming Hall of Fame member Lyle Berman is using a special-purpose acquisition company to acquire two esports companies. The founder of Grand Casinos, Berman sold his most recent company, Lakes Gaming, to Golden Entertainment in 2017. This deal reunites him with the World Poker Tour, which he co-founded in 2002.

NFL Signs Sponsorship Deal with Caesars Entertainment

The NFL has announced a sponsorship deal with Caesars Entertainment that will make the gaming company the "Official Casino Sponsor of the NFL." The sponsorship begins immediately with the NFL playoffs and gives Caesars exclusive rights to use NFL trademarks—including "Super Bowl"—in the U.S. and UK. However, the deal excludes sports betting.

Albania Ends Most Gaming With New Year

The small and economically challenged Balkan state of Albania, which has one of the highest ratios of residents per casinos in Europe, has decided to ban gambling almost totally. The ban took effect on New Year’s Day but allows casinos in 5-star hotels, such as the Amadeus Palace (l.).

Blue Whale to Buy Aquis

Aquis Entertainment and Casino Canberra are set to be acquired by Michael Gu’s (l.) Blue Whale Entertainment in a deal valued at AU$32 million (US$22.6 million). The deal could be complete by the second quarter.

Connecticut Mulls Ending Tribal Gaming Monopoly

More Connecticut politicians are looking closer at the proposition of ending the gaming monopoly of the two tribes that operate Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun (l.). Although the state’s arrangement with the tribes remains highly profitable in tax revenues, MGM Resorts International is pursuing a hard sell of lawmakers on allowing commercial gaming companies to bid for rights to build casinos in the state.


Vietnamese Casino to Reap Big Bucks

A casino on Vietnam’s largest island, Phu Quoc, will generate gross tax revenues of VND19.95 trillion (US$860 million) in its first five years of operation, according to the country’s Ministry of Planning.

Macau Approves 272 Smoking Lounges

The Macau government has certified 272 smoking rooms in 18 casinos in the SAR. Sixteen properties failed to apply for the certification, which is necessary for the rooms to be operational.

Japan Recruits Foreign Workers

The Japanese government is pushing ahead with plans to bring hundreds of thousands of foreign workers into the country, despite widespread disapproval by residents. Casinos are likely to be the beneficiary as they may be able to import skilled workers to their operations.

Macau Legend Buys into Cambodia

Macau Legend Development Ltd. has announced that it will acquire a company that owns real estate in Cambodia with a plan to develop the property as an integrated resort. It’s uncertain whether a casino would be permitted at the property in Siem Reap, which is near the Angkor Wat (l.) world heritage site.

Melco Goes Solar

Melco Resorts & Entertainment has announced that it will install 18,000 solar panels at its City of Dreams and Studio City (l.) resorts in Macau. The system will generate enough energy to power 1,500 households for a year.

Sands: App Not Banned in China

Sands China Ltd., the Asian arm of Las Vegas casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp., is denying a report that the Chinese government had banned its mobile application from the mainland.


Italy Raises Gambling Taxes

The Italian government has introduced a series of tax increases for gambling operators as it also imposes a ban on gambling advertising. Starting January 1, online gaming license holders in the country face a 25 percent tax on gross gaming revenue on online casino and bingo—a 5 percent increase. Also, the land-based operators, such as a slot parlor in Rome (l.), saw an increase of 2 percent to 20 percent.

CoD Cyprus Gets Pricier

Melco Resorts & Entertainment has announced that it will exceed its estimated budget for City of Dreams Mediterranean, its casino resort in Cyprus, heading north of the original €550 million (US$623.6 million). President Craig Ballantyne (l.) says the property should be open in early 2021.


Kahnawake Gaming Commission Called Obsolete

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission has a reputation for being very independently minded in how it oversees casinos in the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, a First Nations reserve. To some critics that strong willed attitude is an impediment to it being part of a modern casino economy.

Will Crown Sydney Monopolize High Rollers?

The competition for high rollers between Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment is sure to heat up when Crown’s new Sydney resort (l.) in Barangaroo opens in 2021. Both operators saw declines in the second half of 2018.

Gateway Abandons Western Fair District Casino

The largest casino operator in Canada, Gateway Casinos and Entertainment, has withdrawn from its proposal to build a casino complex in the Western Fairgrounds in London, Ontario. It is now proposing a similar project in another part of the city.

Bahamas Expects Casino Expenses to Decline

The Grand Lucayan, a casino that the government of the Bahamas purchased in order to preserve it until it can find a private party to sell it, is costing the government about $1.5 million each month to operate. Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest (l.) expects that expense to decrease, he announced last week.

Saskatchewan Casino Holds Soft Opening

The Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan held a ribbon cutting for its Gold Horse Casino (l.) at the end of 2018. The casino will be operated by the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority.

North Bay, Ontario Votes to Support Casino

The city council of North Bay, Ontario, has voted to support a $30 million casino that would be built in the South End of the city. The city would get 5 percent of the revenue from the 300 slot machine property.


Playtech Settles Israeli Tax for €28-Million

Isle of Man-based gambling software provider Playtech said it will pay a total of €28 million under a tax settlement with Israeli tax authorities after an inspection of the company’s accounts from 2008 to 2017. The company said Israel has not imposed any further penalties.

UK Rules Cryptocurrency Trading is Not Gambling

The UK’s Revenue & Customs has updated its guidelines for taxing cryptocurrency investors including a determination that it will not treat trading cryptocurrencies as gambling. Profits gained from their possession will not be exempt from tax in the way other gambling profits are and profits made from speculating on cryptocurrencies will be subject to capital gains and income taxes.

Kindred Files Action Against Norwegian Gaming Regulator

Trannel, a subsidiary of Stockholm-listed Kindred Group, has filed a claim against Norway’s gaming regulator charging that it overstepped its authority by attempting to prevent Kindred from offering online gaming in the country. The filing accuses Lotteritilsynet of imposing unfair restrictions on the Kindred, including the blocking of payments between its site and players.

Blockchain Innovations Acquires the Games Company

BlockChain Innovations Corp., an international blockchain technology supplier serving the regulated gaming industry, announced it has acquired The Games Company, a provider of online casino games. The Games Company is licensed by the UK Gambling Commission and the Alderney Gambling Control Commission.


Virginia Lawmakers Propose Sports Betting

Three sports betting bills will be introduced in Virginia in the 2019 session. State Senator Chap Petersen and Delegates Mark Sickles (l.) and Marcus Simon will offer measures that differ in terms of collegiate wagering and regulation, among other issues. Simon said sports betting legislation could be delayed while a committee studies the issue for the 2020 session.

Dakotas Consider Sports Betting

A fiscal analysis of possible tax revenues if Deadwood casinos are allowed to offer sports book by passage of a South Dakota constitutional amendment shows that it wouldn’t generate that much money. Meanwhile, Governor Doug Burgum (l.) of North Dakota says he will neither oppose nor support efforts to bring sports betting to his state.

West Virginia Casinos Offer Mobile Sports Betting

Two new sports books recently opened in West Virginia—the first to offer a mobile sports betting app. Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack and Mardi Gras Casino & Resort near Charleston, both owned by Delaware North, accept bets from anywhere in the state via BetLucky.com. The two new sports books bring the state's total to five.

California’s Sports Betting Politics is Very Complicated

There are many reasons why California has not yet adopted a legal framework that would allow sports betting in the Golden State. A short answer is too many competing interests, and not enough incentive to seize and serve a common interest. Rep. Adam Gray (l.) is the point man for sports betting in the state.

D.C. Tavern Owners Support Sports Book

The District of Columbia Council has taken steps to introduce sports betting to the city. It has adopted a three-tiered fee structure that will allow big and smaller venues to offer sports book.

Iowa Casinos Propose Sports Betting Measure

The Iowa Gaming Association has proposed legislation that would allow casinos to establish sports books at their facilities and also allow bettors to establish accounts to bet on smartphone apps. IGA President Wes Ehrecke said the legislation would give the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission the authority to draft rules and regulate sports betting.

Fitch Forecasts Billions in Sports Betting Spinoffs

The ratings agency has issued a new report on the growing U.S. market in regulated sports betting that spells good news for casinos and racetracks. As more states legalize, the report projects, they could benefit by a combined $3 billion to $5 billion annually.

Mississippi Sports Books Post Best Month

In November, Mississippi sports books posted $44.5 million in handle—the best numbers since legalized sports betting launched in August, compared to $32.8 million in October. More than half the bets, or $27.9 million, were on football. Gulf Coast sports books led the state, with a handle of $27.7 million.

Rhode Island Casinos Make Room for Sports Betting

Rhode Island, which is heavily dependent on gaming taxes as a significant part of its state revenue, is now betting on sports book. Its two casinos, at Twin River and Tiverton, they are not just making room for sports betting. They are creating highly attractive spaces where bettors can lounge, relax, eat and drink.


Plainridge Casino Asks to Expand

In the casino business, standing still means falling backwards. So, it was perhaps inevitable that eventually Plainridge Park Casino (l.), the first casino to open in Massachusetts, would ask to expand the number of slot machines it is allowed to have, currently limited to 1,250. It says it needs more to stay competitive.

New Mexico Regulators Put Off License Vote For Third Time

Under pressure from the Attorney General, the New Mexico Racing Commission has one more postponed a vote on whether to issue the sixth and last racino license for the state. That pushes the decision into the New Year, where the new Governor Michelle Grisham (l.) may have something to say about the process.

Indiana Lawmakers Confront Gambling Issues

Sports betting, charitable gambling, taxation, "free play" and moving casino licenses will face Indiana legislators in the upcoming session. State Senator Jon Ford (l.) said he'll reintroduce sports betting legislation, plus a bill allowing one of Majestic Star's two licenses to move out of Gary—an unpopular issue among Casino Association of Indiana members.

Strip Win Comes Up Big in November

A resurgence in baccarat (l.) play fueled a 10 percent increase in Las Vegas Strip gaming revenues in November. The mass market also performed well as visitation grew by 5.4 percent compared to last year, and convention attendance was up more than 15 percent.

Hard Rock LV Will Close in Change to Virgin

The remodeling that will transform Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel (l.) into Las Vegas’ first and only Virgin Hotel will force the property to close for several months. That’s bad news for the 2,000 employees. The good news is they’ll still get paid, at least partly, and they’ll keep their current jobs.

Arkansas Commission Approves Casino Rules

The state racing commission has begun drawing up rules regarding expanded and new casinos, the result of the passage of Amendment 100 in November. The amendment allows Southland (l.) in West Memphis and Oaklawn in Hot Springs to offer full-fledged casino gambling, and authorizes one casino each in Jefferson and Pope counties.

Wynn Sues Resorts World over Vegas Design

Resorts World’s Las Vegas Strip resort is looking too much like a Wynn resort for Wynn’s liking. Wynn Resorts claims the $4 billion casino hotel under construction just opposite Wynn Las Vegas and Encore on the Las Vegas Strip is stealing their distinctive curved architecture.

Virginia Town Approves Casino Resolution

The city council in Danville, Virginia recently passed a resolution supporting legislation that would allow a casino in that city plus Bristol and Portsmouth. State Senator Bill Carrico (l.) and Delegate Israel O’Quinn will introduce the measure in the 2019 session. The bill applies only to those three cities and requires a local referendum to approve a casino.

Vegas Could Welcome LA Trains by Summer

The company behind a proposed rail link with Southern California says it has secured the route and equipment and will launch regular weekend service by the middle of the year. Plans call for the ‘X Train,’ as it’s called, to run on conventional track initially until a parallel high-speed line is completed.

Poor Maintenance Caused Florida Casino Shuttle Boat Fire

Poor maintenance and the captain's failure to quickly shut down the engine were the primary reasons for a fire aboard a casino shuttle boat last January in Port Richey, Florida, a National Transportation Safety Board investigation revealed. One person was killed and 14 injured in the incident, and the $450,000 boat was destroyed.


Gaming Tribes Slow to Embrace Sports Betting

Two gaming tribes have so far taken advantage of the lifting of the federal ban on sports betting to open their own sportsbook operations: the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and the Santa Ana Pueblo in New Mexico. Others have not stepped forward to join them.

Gun Lake Tribe Forwards $9 Million

The Gun Lake Tribe of Wayland, Michigan recently made a revenue-sharing payment of $9 million to the state, based on electronic gaming revenue from its Gun Lake Casino between April 1 and September 30, 2018. The state and local governments have received $118,368,404 in revenue-sharing payments from more than 16 distributions to date.

Cypress Bayou Reaches 25-Year Milestone

Cypress Bayou Casino Hotel in Charenton, Louisiana, owned by the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. It began as Chitimacha Bayouland Bingo and has had an economic impact of nearly $1 billion dollars, including $670 million in salaries and benefits, $202 million to Louisiana vendors and millions to local charities.


MGM Names New CityCenter, Empire City CEOs

Taking the reins at CityCenter is Steve Zanella, an MGM veteran who’s been running several of the resort giant’s core Las Vegas Strip properties. For Empire City in New York, the company has turned to Uri Clinton, a gaming attorney with deep experience in the Northeast.

Pansy Ho is Richest Woman in Hong Kong

Macau businesswoman Pansy Ho, daughter of casino kingpin Stanley Ho, has been named the wealthiest woman in Hong Kong according to a report by Bloomberg. Ho’s personal fortune comes in at US$5.5 billion.

Genting Chief's Son Promoted

Genting Bhd named Lim Keong Hui (l.), the son of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, 34, as deputy chief executive officer. He previously was executive director. Other management changes were announced, due to revenue losses, tax increases and issues surrounding projects in Malaysia and Las Vegas.

MGM Moves Lunn To Beau Rivage

Travis Lunn was named president and chief operating officer at MGM Resorts International's Beau Rivage Resort Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. He was general manager and senior vice president of operations at MGM Grand Las Vegas, where he helped launch MGM Resorts’ Military Veterans Program and chaired the company’s Veterans Employee Networking Group.

Senior Adviser Martin Leaves Galaxy

Trevor Martin, longtime HR executive and senior advisor for Galaxy Entertainment Group, has retired after more than a decade with the Macau casino operator. Martin racked up some 30 years of gaming experience.


Cordish Picks Contractor for Philly

The Cordish Companies picked Gilbane Building Company as general contractor for its Live! Casino Hotel in South Philadelphia, to oversee construction of the 1.5 million-square-foot facility.


Caesars Tests ‘Fan Cave’ On Millennials

With the “Fan Cave,” Caesars Entertainment is testing gaming concepts on a generation that has so far proven resistant to playing at the casinos their parents and grandparents have visited. That generation is the millennials. The Fan Cave is located at the Linq Hotel (l.) in Las Vegas.




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