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North American - Bahamas - Baha Mar To Hit $48.2m Milestone This Week


BAHA MAR executives believe they will this week unlock the Government’s $48.2 million contribution to Cable Beach infrastructure works when the third, and final, stage of the casino hotel reaches 100 feet above grade.

Robert Sands, the $2.6 billion developer’s senior vice-president for external and government affairs, said that while Baha Mar and the Christie administration had held different interpretations of the 100-foot milestone, the former was confident any doubts would be removed “by the middle of this week”.

By NEIL HARTNELL - Tribune Business Editor -   -

Disclosing that around $175 million worth of contracts had been awarded to Bahamian contractors, Mr Sands told Tribune Business that 60 per cent of “non-core” works on the Baha Mar project were now completed.

“Statistically, I would say without fear of contradiction that we’re getting close to the $175 million figure in terms of Bahamian contracts,” he said. “In terms of [Bahamian] persons, it’s getting close to 1,800.”

Baha Mar’s commitments to the Government are that it will generate a minimum 4,000 jobs for Bahamians during the $2.6 billion project’s construction phase, and provide a total $400 million worth of contracts for local contractors. It is close to hitting the 50 per cent, or half-way, mark on both those goals.

“Non-core works are about 60 per cent complete,” Mr Sands added, describing these as everything outside the main resort campus, which is the preserve of China State Construction. Non-core works have included the roads, bank and government buildings, along with the new golf course that has just started.

“There’s a lot more work going on,” Mr Sands said. “The sub-station for BEC is just about completed. We’ve also just about completed the re-building of the sewerage plant, which we had to complete for SuperClubs Breezes.”

He added that the planned demolition of the Wyndham’s ‘F’ and ‘J’ towers was “three-quarters” finished, and said: “The improvements to the beach in front of the Wyndham to make it a more contiguous beach, all that is in progress.”

Mr Sands disclosed that while Baha Mar felt it had met its Heads of Agreement obligation by July 9, 2012, when the casino tower first hit 100 feet high, the Government had wanted to be sure that all three stages - not just one - had reached this level.

As a result, the Christie administration had held off on releasing its share of the financing for the Cable Beach infrastructure and road re-routing, but Baha Mar is confident the issue will be laid to rest this week.

“Certainly by the middle of this week coming, we’re satisfied that the three sections of the casino - the entire casino tower - will be at 100 feet,” Mr Sands told Tribune Business.

“It’s in three parts. Two are definitely there, and the third phase will be there this week. As far as we are concerned, we had reached the milestone set in the Heads of Agreement some time ago. We believe we hit that milestone on July 9, but the Government wanted to be satisfied that not one section but three sections of the casino tower were at 100 feet.”

Hitting this milestone will see the Government release two payments to Baha Mar, one for $45.3 million and the other for $2.8 million, making for what Mr Sands said was a total of $48.2 million. The funds are the Government’s contribution to the project’s infrastructure and roadworks, in particular the new West Bay Street and Corridor 7.

As for Baha Mar’s search for a casino partner, Mr Sands said: “We continue to make good progress. We’re not rushing this initiative, and are making sure we do due diligence. I keep reminding people that our commitment to finding one is six months prior to opening.

“We’re achieving all our milestones at this point in time,” he added, “and there’s no indication we won’t meet the penultimate milestone of being open for the last quarter of 2014.”

Meanwhile, Mr Sands said Baha Mar and Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTEC) were conducting a review to “see if there could be a way forward” for the latter’s $102.3 million Seawater District Cooling plant, which had been designed to meet 90 per cent of the project’s air conditioning needs.

Mr Sands had previously told Tribune Business that Baha Mar had gone to ‘Plan B’, namely traditional forms of air conditioning, after OTEC failed to meet the original contract. “The terms we had originally set out between ourselves, they have not achieved,” he added.

And, with the Wyndham closed, Mr Sands said the Sheraton was hitting its forecast occupancy rates for September.

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ASIA - Macau - SJM wants to have 600 tables in Cotai

SJM Holdings Ltd wants to have up to 600 live gaming tables in Cotai, company chief executive Ambrose So Shu Fai said.

“We hope to place 600 gaming tables to the Cotai project in the future,” Mr So said, quoted by government-owned broadcaster TDM.

SJM currently has 1,700 live gaming tables.

SJM and MGM China Holdings Ltd are the only two gaming operators in Macau yet to be given permission to expand to Cotai.


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ASIA - Macau - Lawrence Ho increases stake in Melco


Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, the chairman and chief executive of Hong Kong-listed Melco International Development Ltd, has increased his stake in the company to 48.5 percent from 36 percent, further strengthening his control over Melco International.

The increase in Mr Ho’s stake was done after his Great Respect Ltd required converting its entire holding of around HK$1.2 billion (US$155 million) worth of convertible loan notes into equity.

Melco International is one of the two major shareholders at Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd, roughly holding one-third of it.

The other major shareholder is Australia’s Crown Ltd.





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ASIA - Macau - Land freeze for casinos still on: Francis Tam

The Secretary for Economy and Finance, Francis Tam Pak Yuen, said on Friday that the freeze on new land for casinos continues to remain in place.

In 2008, then chief executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah announced a freeze on new land for casinos but pledged to honour existing agreements with operators.

That included all casino projects filed before 2008 and still under consideration.

But Mr Tam said that any gaming operator could still file requests to the gaming regulator to open new casinos, if it didn’t involve a land grant.

According to some analysts, this is how Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd is likely to include a casino at its Studio City project in Cotai.

This method has previously been allowed for gambling facilities in new hotel-casinos that are not fully-owned by a gaming operator, as it is the case of Studio City. Because the land is granted to companies that don’t have a casino licence (or are not fully-owned subsidiaries of a concessionaire), the inclusion of gaming facilities in the land contract could raise legal issues.

In such cases, the request to include a casino is therefore made separately from the land concession request, and by a licenced gaming operator.

The gaming licence holder requests government approval to operate gambling facilities as a service provider at those properties.

This is the kind of arrangement that allowed the Ponte 16 and L’Arc casino-hotels to accommodate gaming facilities.

Meanwhile, Mr Tam also said that the 5,500 live table cap in place until next year won’t be removed.

Starting next year and until 2023, the government will limit the average annual growth in the number of live gaming tables to 3 percent, as previously announced, he added.

Mr Tam said the two caps aim to control the scale and growth rate of Macau’s gaming industry.


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NEW ZEALAND - SkyCity cheats use hi-tech gadgets

Sophisticated spy cameras and shuffling devices used by international syndicates targeting wealthy casinos.

Two casino gangs have been detected at SkyCity recently. Photo / APN

Global cheating syndicates trying to swindle millions of dollars with hi-tech gadgets are responsible for some of the hundreds of crimes committed at SkyCity each year.

By Jared Savage       | Email Jared       -       New Zealand Herald

Sophisticated spy cameras and shuffling devices - hidden up shirt sleeves - are some of the tools of the trade for the professional crooks who travel the world to target wealthy casinos.

Two casino gangs have been detected at SkyCity recently, including one VIP group who won $4.5 million.

Suspicions were raised about the 13 people on a junket from Singapore when the security team at SkyCity noticed the baccarat player who cut the deck had a "very unusual" action, according to Department of Internal Affairs documents released under the Official Information Act.

"As soon as the cutter had finished cutting the cards, he would leave the table and go to the bathroom," the DIA report noted.

The group also requested to increase the maximum bet to $200,000 and at certain times gambled to the limit to win hands.

Under surveillance the following night, SkyCity could find no evidence of cheating before the group returned to Singapore.

"All players involved in the syndicate wore short-sleeve shirts and played much lower bets than the night before," the DIA report said. "There is also a report that an attempt to apprehend this group was made in Las Vegas. This was unsuccessful, with no camera being located."

A spokeswoman for SkyCity said the $4.5 million won by the group was withheld while the casino worked with the New Zealand police to confirm the situation.

"The group left New Zealand and were subsequently arrested in Asia while attempting to defraud another casino using the same modus operandi."

In another scam in 2010, surveillance staff were alerted to a suspicious act at the baccarat table where four Asian men were playing. When spoken to by security, the leader of the group was asked to roll up his left sleeve. A mechanical device was strapped to his forearm and a SkyCity playing card - the 2 of clubs - was found in his possession.

He demonstrated to police "how the device was used to remove a playing card from play and substitute that with another in order to win", according to the report.

At first the men claimed to be part of a tour group to play golf, but were unable to give their handicap or name any clubs they had played.

One said the group had been sent to New Zealand "by their boss to cheat at the casino" and had successfully targeted SkyCity before in November 2008.

All four men pleaded guilty to obtaining by deception and were fined $7000 each, after agreeing to pay $80,000 in reparation, before being deported.

Before the SkyCity complex opened 15 years ago, anti-gambling lobbyists warned that the casino could become a "scene for large-scale criminal activity or a meeting place for people who commit serious crimes".

The most infamous cases were drug lords Ri Tong Zhou and Tac Kin Voong, who had a combined turnover of nearly $20 million over 12 months in the VIP lounge - effectively laundering their profits - where each ran his own large-scale syndicate in 2006.

Several fraudsters have been caught stealing millions from their employers to feed their gambling habits.

One of those, Richard Arthur Watson, stole $5.4 million over 10 years and had a $50 million turnover at SkyCity during that time.

How the scam works

The method of cheating was deleted from the Department of Internal Affairs' report.
But the "cutters" gang scam has been discovered in casinos overseas.

In baccarat, a player is asked to cut the deck after the dealer shuffles.

One member of the gang cuts the deck, then drags the cut card over the top of the deck, slightly separating the cards from one another with an index finger while a tiny camera hidden in a cufflink or sleeve records the card order.

The player then excuses himself from the table and hands the images to an accomplice; they are analysed and a cheat sheet recorded, all in the time a trip to the toilet takes.
The player dumps the camera, then heads back to the table armed with invaluable knowledge.

SkyCity responds to figures on crimes at its casino

The figures reflect SkyCity's commitment to ensuring our premises are safe and crime-free environments.

We have more than 20 restaurants and bars on the Auckland site and thousands of people come to the Auckland premises every day for various reasons. As in any hospitality venue there will be some issues when you are dealing with so many people.

When we trespass someone, we take that very seriously and enforce it rigorously. People can be trespassed for many reasons including inappropriate behaviour and not adhering to exclusion notices.

It is New Zealand law that children under 14 years cannot be left unsupervised. SkyCity policy is that all children under the age of 14 must not be left unattended for any period of time anywhere. This is a zero tolerance policy and we enforce it vigorously. Staff are trained to look out for unattended children and to intervene immediately if they see an unaccompanied child.

Over the past year we have increased our dedicated staffing in this area. We have increased the frequency of our carpark patrols and we now station staff members in the atrium areas during school holidays to look out for families and remind parents or guardians that children under the age of 14 must be accompanied at all times. Because often the issue is simply that parents are unaware of this policy, SkyCity has also produced a brochure on the issue for visitors.

We call the police in the case of an unaccompanied child if we discover that a parent/guardian has been gaming. We advise the Internal Affairs Department of all unattended-children incidents (irrespective of whether the parents were gaming) and exclude the parent/guardian concerned.

By Jared Savage | Email Jared


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ASIA - Philippines - first casino in Pagcor City may be operational by the first quarter of next year.

The first casino in Pagcor City may be operational by the first quarter of next year.

Leading the pack in this four-firm entertainment complex is Bloomberry Resorts Corp.’s Solaire. The project costs over $1 billion and will have a 700-room hotel, bayside villas, 1,200 slot machines and 300 gaming tables, just for its first phase of development. 

It will also have a 1,000 seat grand ballroom, spa and fitness center, and a bay view promenade. Other features include a multilevel parking building with 3,000 parking slot.

Enrique Razon, Bloomberry president said plans are already underway for Solaire’s expansion- another 300-room hotel, to be opened a year after the opening of the gaming complex .

Razon expressed confidence on the future of the Philippine gaming industry, estimated at $1.3 billion industry as of last year, and is said to have the potential to grow at an annual compounded rate of 24 percent in the next four years, hitting $3 billion by 2015, in a study by CLSA Asia Pacific Capital Markets.

Razon said the growth of the local gaming will be driven by foreign gamblers who will be pampered.

Following Solaire’s lead will be Belle Grande Manila of the Belle-Leisure and Resorts World-Melco consortium, which will put up a 250,000 square meter gaming complex, including approximately 20,000 square meters of gaming space with a capacity to hold 1,600 slot machines, 300-320 tables.

It will also have 6,000 sq. m. of VIP gaming areas, and six hotel towers with 1,000 rooms, divided into three brands.

Originally the first to put up its structure, the opening of Belle Grande Manila Bay has been moved because of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.’s (PAGCOR) requirement of first securing an 800-room hotel before a developers’ gaming complex can be opened.

The consortium is also sinking $1 billion into Belle Grande Manila Bay.

Bloomberry and the Belle consortium are just two of the four licensed firms to put up their facilities in the touted soon-to-be-premier gaming complex in the Philippines. As part of each licensee’s commitment, they are to invest at least $1 billion into the gaming complex, that is estimated to generate a direct employment opportunity of 40,000.

It construction stage however is estimated to generate between 50,000 - 70,00 jobs in the next three years.

Completing the list are the Alliance Global-Genting Resorts consortium and Japanese Kazuo Okada under his firm Aruze.

Alliance Global has just started pile works on its allocated site which will run for 60 days before actual constructions begin. Alliance Global has yet to reveal its plans for the gaming complex, to be named Resorts World Bayshore, which will be an extension of the company’s gaming business in Resorts World Manila in Newport City.

Okada’s Aruze meanwhile has been reported to have signed a joint-venture agreement Alliance Global and Robinsons Land Corp. for the construction and operation of its own gaming complex. 

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AFRICA - Zambia - Lusaka's Diamond Casino Opens

MINISTER of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo has challenged investors in the entertainment industry such as casinos to take advantage of few number of facilities in the country and invest more especially in other towns besides Lusaka.

Ms Masebo said this during the colourful and fun-packed grand opening of the Diamond Casino of Lusaka on Wednesday night that was graced by one of South Africa's leading bands Freshly Ground that sent the audience into a frenzy.

Freshly Ground possess that spell-binding musical power that injected a fresh mood of live music appreciation among local enthusiasts with the sound engineering at its best.

Zambia's renowned sound musician Brian Shakarongo was amazed and said it was good that most Zambian artistes and the minister in charge of Arts were present to see what bands like Freshly Ground can do when it comes to out-door live performances.

In toasting the grand opening of the casino, the minister however underscored the importance of casino investment to be spread especially in the tourist capital Livingstone as the country prepares to co-host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation conference in the town.

"You may be aware that the country will next year be co-hosting the UNWTO meeting in Livingstone. We therefore want to challenge investors in the industry to use the opportunity by putting up investments in the entertainment facilities in town ahead of the event," she said

With the opening of the new state of the art Diamond Casino that invested a total of 5 billion Kwacha and boasting of having employed over 90 local Zambians, the number of the casinos in the country now stands at 22 with 15 being in Lusaka alone..

Now, the minister is fully aware of negative effects that could be associated with gambling especially where the industry remains unregulated and to that she says: "We shall ensure that we guard against that, that is why my ministry is considering coming up with a Central Electronic Monitoring System to compel casinos to be connected to the centralised monitoring system ." she said.

The mood was high with local and international fans reaching cloud nine as they toasted the opening of the Diamond Casino with the band delivering an outstanding performance leaving almost everyone stunned.

After the action-packed performance by Freshly Grounds which left enthusiasts hungering for more ,partying moods were lifted but thanks to LIV nightclub that was apt for the game.

The crowd had nothing to lose as a huge number of enthusiasts were seen flocking into the LIV nightclub to continue partying with high quality party sounds delivered to the full satisfaction of enthusiasts. It was a night to remember!


Two other Lusaka casinos are looking for staff via our CASINO JOBS INTERNATIONAL (Click on links to view information) :

GREAT WALL CASINO - Lusaka  Casino Jobs International vacancies - Zambia - Inspectors

HARLEQUINS CASINO - Lusaka (Opening soon) - Casino Jobs International vacancies - Africa - dealers & Inspectors



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Northern Mariana Islands - $20M Rota casino plan unveiled

ROTA -- Construction of a casino in Rota will awaken the small island in the Marianas chain.

It also will help boost Guam's tourism industry, said the company that plans to build the attraction.

Written by Arvin Temkar Pacific Daily News. Artist's rendering of the planned casino on Rota. Courtesy of JMSH LLC

JMSH announced plans for the Rota Casino & Hotel, which the company said will bring $15 million to $20 million in tax income to Rota and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as additional revenue from increased tourism.

The company, which also owns several hotels and properties in Guam, also wants to start a commuter airline that will service 20 small flights a day between Guam and Rota and Saipan and Rota.

Hee Cho, CEO of JMSH, said ties between Rota and Guam will strengthen both economies.

"This is really a win-win situation," he said. Cho expects Chinese tourists to patronize the casino, and a China visa waiver to Guam would help shuffle tourists between the two islands.

An economic and population boost to Rota would also mean the island would buy more wholesale goods from Guam, said Rota Mayor Melchor Mendiola, who supports the project.

Rota, the southern island of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, has seen a drop in population over the past decade. The latest Census data shows a population of about 2,500. Residents say many of their friends and families have left the island for Saipan, Guam, and the mainland U.S. for better opportunities.

Though tourism once topped 20,000 visitors per year during the mid-1990s, the rate has plummeted to about 300 a month or 3,600 a year, said Hidekazu Yamaguchi, general manager of Rota Resort & Country Club, which JMSH also owns. The goal is to see the numbers climb back up to 20,000.

JMSH said the casino and hotel will create at least 1,000 jobs for the island. The company will begin accepting job applications from locals in mid-October, and plans to launch a job training center.

A press conference was held yesterday at the Rota Resort & Country Club. The casino and hotel will be built on the resort's property, which totals 2.4 million square meters.

Several Korean tour agencies and airlines, as well as local official attended the conference. JMSH is targeting tourists from China, Japan, Korea, Saipan and Guam.

Company officials said though they are ready to begin work, there are several holdups that are delaying the project. Rota's airport needs to undergo renovations that would allow it to accommodate larger aircraft, and there are some issues regarding the company's casino license, which it obtained last year.

Once the issues are sorted out construction will take approximately a year, said Cho. The initial phase of the project is expected to cost $70 million, and include more than 200 hotel rooms and a casino that will begin with slot machines but expand to more games.

Several Rota residents interviewed by the Pacific Daily News expressed support for the casino and hotel, which they said would bring a much-needed infusion into the crumbling economy.

"It's a dire situation we're in right now," said Alejo Mendiola, 53. "Everything is up -- gas, commodities, you name it."

Gas prices in Rota are more than $6, exceeding the minimum wage. A stroll through Songsong, the island's commercial area, shows several abandoned and dilapidated buildings along the main strip.

Rota already has a casino, but turnout is low and it's only open twice a week, said gambling commissioner Kelvin Hocog. Korean investors have also shown interest in obtaining gambling licenses.

Rota resident Juan Barcinas, 49, said he'd like to know more about JMSH's plans -- including how the casino will be regulated -- but otherwise, he supports the project.

"It's really true we need something to keep us moving," he said.

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USA - ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Hard Rock scraps Atlantic City casino plan

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) Atlantic City's last hope for a new casino in the foreseeable future died Wednesday when a group planning to build a smaller "boutique" casino on the Boardwalk scrapped the idea.

By: WAYNE PARRY | Associated Press - Wayne Parry can be reached at
Published: September 13, 2012 

AC Gateway LLC said Wednesday it is not proceeding with a casino-hotel on the south end of the beach that could have included a musical history museum with items from when the Beatles and Rolling Stones separately played Atlantic City. It cited the economy and Atlantic City's struggling casino market.

The resort would have been run by Hard Rock International, the casino-entertainment company owned by Florida's Seminole Indians.

"Hard Rock International has decided not to move forward with an application for a potential hotel-casino development in Atlantic City, due to current market conditions," the company said in a statement issued Wednesday morning, hours before it was to have paid a $1 million application fee with the state. "We have been evaluating Atlantic City as a prospective location for a hotel-casino development and have not eliminated this location for a future endeavor."

The company consists of New York-based Och-Ziff Real Estate, partnered with Florida-based Hard Rock, which has rock 'n' roll-themed restaurants, hotels and casinos around the world.

The project would have been the first smaller casino-hotel under a 2011 law permitting them in New Jersey. The hotel would have started at 208 rooms and eventually expanded to 850.

As of July 2011, three companies expressed interest in building new casino-hotels under the smaller-is-friendlier plan. But none was willing to put up the $1 million deposit required under the program as a show of seriousness.

The Gateway/Hard Rock plan's deadline was Wednesday. It already had gotten a six-month extension.

"We're disappointed, but this was not totally unexpected with the market conditions in Atlantic City and the overall state of the economy," said state Sen. James Whelan, a former Atlantic City mayor who came up with the idea for the boutique casino law one he still thinks can be viable. "Hopefully Hard Rock or someone else will take a look at this model in the future."

Whelan said the only potential investor interest in Atlantic City right now is in partnering with casinos on entertainment plans like the $35 million Margaritaville project at Resorts, or by investors looking to buy existing distressed casinos on the cheap. No one is talking about committing hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars on a large new resort right now, he added.

The first phase of the project would have cost about $465 million; cost estimates for the second phase were never made public. It would have been built on the Boardwalk on land that is now parking lots at the foot of the Black Horse Pike, known locally as Albany Avenue.

Hard Rock had planned to make more use of the beach than any casino ever has in Atlantic City: A pool, a cafe for afternoon barbecues and an outdoor entertainment area that could host concerts were part of the proposal.

The boutique casinos were designed to jump-start new construction in the struggling resort, where casino revenues have been tumbling for five straight years. Hard Rock CEO James Allen said last November the company would not have been interested in coming to Atlantic City without the ability to start slowly and then expand over several years.

Atlantic City's newest and most successful casinos each have about 2,000 rooms part of a strategy of exceeding the minimum requirements to dominate the market. For regular casino-hotels, the minimum number of rooms is 500; the boutique law permits as few as 200 rooms.

The smaller casinos were supposed to make it easier for new investors to enter the Atlantic City casino market without having to spend the $1 billion to $2 billion or more it currently costs to build a first-class casino resort. Revel, the $2.4 billion resort at the opposite end of the Boardwalk, opened in April but has struggled to gain market share.

It surpassed the $20 million mark in casino revenues last month for the first time, but still ranks 8th out of the city's 12 casinos in terms of revenue. It is also likely to be the last new casino built in Atlantic City for the foreseeable future, as casinos in neighboring states continue to siphon off jobs and money that once were Atlantic City's exclusive province.

When 2008 began, Atlantic City's casinos were fighting an economic slump but still talking and dreaming big, with plans for as many as four new casino-hotels worth as much as $11 billion. Of those, only Revel even put a shovel in the ground and it ran out of money halfway through construction, necessitating a worldwide search for the extra money needed to finish it.


Wayne Parry can be reached at

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USA - Slot Revenues Continue To Slide at Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun

Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun both reported lower slots revenues in August on Thursday, continuing a trend of decline for Connecticut's casinos.

Foxwoods reported a 3 percent decline compared to August 2011, with slot revenues of $50.5 million. Mohegan Sun reported slot revenues of $56.3 million, a 6 percent decline year-over-year.

The Hartford Courant

Tropical Storm Irene struck in August 2011 and caused a disruption of service at the casinos, with Foxwoods experiencing some power outages, likely effecting revenue results for the month.

"Our August results demonstrate a trend toward market stabilization," said Foxwoods CEO Scott C. Butera, "as our slot revenue steadies to within a narrow range of $50 million a month."

"Mohegan Sun experienced a decline … due to the additional gaming supply in the New York and New Jersey markets combined with reductions in guest spending as a result of the challenging Northeast economy," said Jeff E, Hartmann, President and CEO of Mohegan Sun. He noted that Mohegan continues to outpace its competitor in overall slot business.

The state's revenue-sharing fund received $12.8 million from Foxwoods and $14.1 million from Mohegan Sun in August 2012.

Read this story and more at The Hartford Courant


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ASIA - Macau - September 20th opening for Sheraton Macao Hotel, Central Cotai

The largest hotel in Macau set to open on the Cotai Strip


Macau’s largest hotel, the Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central will open its doors on the Cotai Strip, a clutch of glittering casinos and hotels in the former Portuguese enclave Macau, on Sept. 20.

By Lauren Mack who is the Travel Editor at The Daily Meal

The 3,896-room hotel is also the largest Sheraton hotel and boasts the biggest Sheraton Club in the world, with 570 rooms and suites. Owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp.and a member of Starwood Hotels, the hotel is located within the Sands Cotai Central complex, which includes the Sands Cotai Central hotel and a luxury shopping mall.

The Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central has three restaurants: Xin, an Asian hotpot restaurant; Bene, a trattoria serving Italian dishes and wood-fired pizzas; and Feast, an all-day restaurant with an open kitchen serving international fare.

Hoping to attract families and leisure travelers and not just those seeking to try their luck at the Cotai Strips casinos, the hotel has three outdoor swimming pools with poolside cafés and lounges, private cabanas, the Shine Spa for Sheraton, a fitness center, and a kids program.

Lauren Mack is the Travel Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack. Read more at




USA - New Jersey - N.J. OKs Mohegans' bid to run Atlantic City's Resorts

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Absent from the Atlantic City casino market for more than 30 years, Native American tribes have recently turned a close eye on the seaside gambling resort, with two tribes taking very different paths.

Written by
Associated Press 

Today, New Jersey regulators gave approval to the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority to run the day-to-day affairs of Resorts Casino Hotel and to buy 10 percent of the company. The decision came just two days after the Seminole Indians scrapped a plan to build a new "boutique" casino, citing the poor economy and cutthroat competition from gambling halls in neighboring states.

So which one is taking the right approach? They may both be.

The management deal for the Mohegans at Resorts gives the Connecticut-based tribe a cheap foothold in the nation's third-largest gambling market — not to mention a fantastic opportunity to cross-market their existing casinos in Connecticut and Pennsylvania — without having to spend the $1 billion to $2 billion a new casino would cost.

That reality was not lost on the Florida-based Seminoles, who had planned through their Hard Rock International business arm to build a new casino-hotel on the south end of the Boardwalk under a 2011 law allowing for construction of casinos with as few as 200 rooms. That's much fewer than the 500-room minimum in existing law and one-tenth of the 2,000 or so rooms that the newest and most successful casinos in Atlantic City offer.

The Seminoles, who would have partnered with New York-based Och-Ziff Real Estate to build the casino, would have started at 208 rooms and eventually expanded to 850. The first phase of the project alone would have cost nearly a half-billion dollars. Although Hard Rock doesn't rule out doing something in Atlantic City in the future, that price proved too steep.

The Mohegans, on the other hand, stand to profit not only from their small ownership stake in Resorts and the ability to drive new business to their other casinos, but also to showcase their management ability to other casino companies that may want a helping hand.

Mitchell Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Authority, said last month that the Mohegans have wanted to enter the Atlantic City market for years but did not want to spend $1 billion or more to build a casino from scratch. This deal provides an affordable entry to the market, currently ranked third in the U.S. after Nevada and Pennsylvania.

He also said the tribe has no plans to eventually buy Resorts outright. But if it does a good job running it and restoring it to profitability, that could open the doors to other management jobs at non-Indian casinos.

"We're extremely happy to be involved in Atlantic City," said Gary Van Hettinga, president of Mohegan Gaming Advisors, who will oversee Resorts for the tribe. "We believe this city has a great future. We're looking forward to getting started and finishing what my good friend and mentor Dennis Gomes started — making Resorts a profitable business again."

The Mohegans' involvement intensified after the sudden death in February of Gomes, a co-owner of the casino and a legendary figure in the industry. He was known for outlandish promotions, including pitting a live chicken against customers in games of tic-tac-toe, and his efforts as a mob-busting casino regulator in Nevada were chronicled in the film "Casino."

Without Gomes and his decades of experience in the picture, Resorts' majority owner, New York real estate investor Morris Bailey, began looking for help in running Resorts. A deal with the Mohegans soon followed. Bailey will continue to own 90 percent of the business, although the Mohegans have the option to buy an additional 15 percent after two years.

The Mohegans will oversee a $35 million renovation and expansion of Resorts headed by the addition of a Jimmy Buffett-themed Margaritaville restaurant, bar and entertainment complex on the beach, which is expected to open Memorial Day weekend.

"This is a critical time in Atlantic City," said Matthew Levinson, chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, which approved the management agreement today. "The state and the industry are focusing their efforts to transform the city into a well-rounded destination resort. With our approval of this agreement, Mohegan will be able to implement policies and practices that have helped to make its Connecticut casino one of the most successful ever. I want to see Mohegan bring that kind of success to Resorts."

The commission also determined that Mohegan Gaming Advisors will only need to obtain a casino service industry enterprise license, rather than a full-blown casino license. The service industry license is less expensive and is commonly held by vendors and manufacturers of slot machines, cards, dice and other similar equipment, Levinson said. But the background checks and investigations are virtually the same as those involved for a regular casino license, he added.

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ASIA - Laos - Foreign casino investor decries treatment in Laos

A Macau-based company embroiled in a court battle with Laos says the government is planning to seize its last remaining asset in the country.

Sanum Investments, which is behind several hotel and casino projects, took legal action against the Laotian government in August for allegedly misusing $US400 million intended for investment.

The company accused the government of issuing a retroactive $US23million tax bill and arbitrarily revoking licences and concessions worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Sanum's president Jody Jordahl told Radio Australia's Connect Asia he believes the Savan Vegas Casino, the country's third largest employer, is now under attack.

"The Ministry of Finance and the tax department have filed and submitted a request through the courts to force us to pay those improper taxes," he said.

"It's my understanding through the audit and tax law that the process will involve shutting down the club for 30 days.

"If we don't pay those improper taxes within 30 days, then they can quickly move to seize that property and liquidate it to pay those improper back taxes."

Mr Jordahl says this latest move is proof Laos' judiciary is not "free and fair".

He says repeated attempts to get in touch with the government to enter negotiations have failed.

"As far as the ICFID or someone else issuing an injunction of some sort, I don't think that's going to be possible in the amount of time that we have left," he said.

"What we're hearing from some of our sources is that the closure or seizure could happen any day."

Mr Jordahl says Sanum now has no choice but to wait for the outcome of the arbitration trial set to be heard by the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, an independent arm of the World Bank.

"If it (the casino) is seized we continue to work with the government, file objections and there will supposedly be a court process," he said.

"We hope that at that court hearing we get a fair hearing."

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Viejas Casino Sets New Guinness Record for World’s Largest Blackjack Table

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Viejas Casino, Southern California’s premier gaming, dining and entertainment destination, today set a new Guinness Record for the World’s Largest Blackjack Table.

“The timing coincides with the 21st anniversary of Viejas Casino and reflects our ongoing commitment to providing our guests with a fun, exciting and entertaining experience.”
The record was set at 9:45 a.m. today, as six guests sat at a massive blackjack table measuring just over 2,226 square feet and played a hand of blackjack with chips and cards that were ten times the size of the actual Viejas blackjack chips and cards. Philip Robertson, an official “Adjudicator” for Guinness was on hand to confirm the measurements and witness the hand of blackjack…and the new record was officially certified amid a rousing round of cheers and applause from Viejas Team Members and guests in the DreamCatcher at Viejas Casino.

MEDIA: Click here for Broll of the event and the official certification:

“I’m very excited for our Team Members and guests who helped set this new record,” said Viejas Casino General Manager Chris Kelley. “The timing coincides with the 21st anniversary of Viejas Casino and reflects our ongoing commitment to providing our guests with a fun, exciting and entertaining experience.”

Immediately after the record was certified, V Club members were offered a free opportunity to play a hand of blackjack at the table and enter a drawing for their share of a $21,000 cash prize.

Continuing the excitement, the public is invited to attend a 21st Anniversary Celebration at the V Lounge at 2 p.m. on Friday, September 14, featuring free Anniversary Cake, music and entertainment. On Saturday, September 15, two lucky guests will each win a 2013 Mercedes-Benz C250 Coupe capping off one of the most exciting milestones in Viejas Casino history.

About Viejas Casino

Located at I-8 and Willows Road east of San Diego, Viejas Casino features thousands of slot machines, exciting table games including Blackjack, Baccarat and Pai Gow, a poker room, a new high-stakes bingo room and an off-track betting facility. Viejas Casino features a variety of restaurants including the award-winning Grove Steakhouse, The Buffet and The Café. The beautiful Viejas Outlet Center, located right across the street, offers visitors a unique shopping experience with highly acclaimed stores, numerous eateries, Viejas Bowl and Viejas Mini Golf. For more information, visit or call 1-800-847-6537.


Viejas Casino
Robert Scheid
Public Relations

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Asian Casino Boom Aims to Lure Region's New Rich

In the Philippines, a $4-billion casino will soon rise from reclaimed land on Manila Bay. In South Korea, foreign investors are expected to break ground next year on a clutch of casino resorts offshore. And on the eastern edge of Russia, authorities plan a resort zone aimed at drawing Chinese high-rollers.

By KELVIN CHAN AP Business Writer - Follow Kelvin Chan at
MACAU September 13, 2012 (AP)

The projects are part of a casino building boom rolling across Asia, where governments are trying to develop their tourism markets to capture increasingly affluent Asians with a penchant for gambling. They're building glitzy, upscale Las Vegas-style resorts in a bid to copy the runaway success of Asian gambling hubs Macau, which rapidly became the world's biggest casino market after ending a monopoly, and Singapore, where the city-state's first two casinos raked in an estimated $6 billion a year after their 2010 openings.

The casino boom highlights how the gambling industry is being propelled by the region's rapid economic growth, with millions entering the middle class thanks to rising incomes that allow them to spend more on travel and leisure pursuits. But it has also intensified debate over the social ills and perceived economic benefits of the gambling industry.

"Definitely, the success of Macau has set off a chain reaction in what is happening in the region," said Francis Lui, vice chairman of Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group. "After the success of Macau and Singapore, of course you see more countries now assessing the pros and cons of having gaming as a driving engine for bigger economic growth."

"In the future the region is going to have more casinos."

The fortunes to be made are immense. After Macau ended a four-decade monopoly and allowed in foreign operators such as Las Vegas Sands Corp., Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International, the former Portuguese colony on the southern edge of China quickly overtook the Las Vegas Strip as the world's biggest gambling market. The foreign operators helped supercharge growth in Macau — previously known for its aging, seedy, no-frills casinos — by building flashy gambling palaces drawing wealthy mainland Chinese. Last year the city of just 500,000 people raked in $33.5 billion in gambling revenue.

In Singapore, the Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, which together cost more than $10 billion, have put the city on track to becoming the world's second-biggest gambling market.

By 2015, consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers predict the surge in Asian casino revenues will have "fundamentally reshaped the landscape of the global industry" and help Asia edge out the United States as the world's biggest regional market.

PWC forecasts that the Asia-Pacific gambling market will more than double from $34.3 billion in 2010 to $79.3 billion in 2015, surpassing the U.S., which is estimated to grow from $57.5 billion to $73.3 billion in the same period.

A number of projects planned or under way across the region are helping to fulfill that prediction.

Cambodian operator Nagacorp, which runs the only casino in the Southeast Asian city's capital, Phnom Penh, plans to open a $369 million expansion including hotels and shopping later this year. The company operates buses equipped with massage chairs to pick up punters from neighboring Vietnam.

Vietnam will get its first casino-resort next year. Canadian company Asian Coast Development is set to open a five-star MGM-branded beachfront complex in the southeast. It's part of a $4.2 billion tourist development aimed at drawing foreign visitors.

Both countries bar their own citizens from entering casinos.

Even the neglected Russian Pacific port city of Vladivostok, perhaps best known as the eastern terminus for the famed Trans-Siberian Railway, plans to get in on the action. Authorities announced plans in May to invite foreign investors to help develop an entertainment zone with no less than 12 casinos aimed at attracting Chinese and other North Asian visitors. When completed, annual revenues could reach $5.2 billion, according to a forecast by consultants.

In Japan, where legalization has been debated for years, lawmakers have been inching closer to approving casinos as a way to stimulate the economy and boost tourism following last year's devastating tsunami and nuclear disaster.

But not everyone is convinced it's a gamble that will economically benefit Japan, which already allows gambling on horse, boat and bicycle racing as well as slots.

"If we get casinos in Japan, that will destroy the nation," said Ken Wakamiya, an author and anti-gambling activist.

He pointed out that pachinko, a slot machine-like game, is one of the country's most popular forms of gambling. But he said it's played widely by poor people and as a result made them even poorer.

"Introducing casinos is a plan to rip off our own people. It is an act of madness," he said.

A similar debate has played out in Taiwan, which will get its first casino after residents on the island of Matsu voted in favor in July. Casinos are banned in Taiwan except on outlying islands, where approval in a referendum is needed.

Some countries are looking to Singapore as a model for how to bring in gambling without the side-effects. The country, which authorized two big casino-resorts as part of an effort turn the Southeast Asian city-state into a gambling and tourism magnet, is tightening what are already some of the strictest measures in Asia to control organized crime and gambling addiction.

Junket operators — middlemen that bring in wealthy high-rollers but which have also been linked to organized crime — are almost completely banned. Regulators also plan a big hike in the amount casino operators can be fined for breaking regulations that include charging locals 100 Singapore dollars ($81) a day to enter. The government also expanded a program banning people who are bankrupt or receiving welfare from entering casinos, raising the number to 43,000.

Despite the measures, more low income players are betting bigger amounts, according to a 2011 survey by the National Council on Problem Gambling, while the Samaritans counseling hotline reports receiving an increasing number of calls involving problem gambling.

"The gambling industry is not a sector that creates value-added products or services and therefore will have little impact on the development of the future economy," said Vincent Wijeysingha, treasurer of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party. "It does not contribute to the deepening of economic capacity or the introduction of new or innovative services or industrial techniques."

In the Philippines, church leaders have spoken out against a $4 billion project that the government hopes will turn a site on Manila Bay into the country's version of the Las Vegas Strip. Casinos have been legal since 1977 but many are small and run-down.

Foreign investors including Macau's Melco Crown Entertainment, Japanese pachinko tycoon Kazuo Okada's Universal Entertainment and Malaysia's Genting Bhd. are working separately with local partners on the project, which will include hotels, restaurants, museums, a marina and boardwalk and a monorail.

The project, dubbed Entertainment City, is aimed at drawing wealthy foreign gamblers but church leaders say it would promote "a culture of gambling" in the conservative, majority Roman Catholic Philippines.

Gambling "foments addiction, foments indolence, foments a mentality of chance and it destroys families," said Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz.

In South Korea, Universal and two other companies plan to build resorts in a special economic zone near Incheon Airport on Yeongjong Island. The companies, which also include Caesar's Entertainment Corp. of the U.S. and South Korea's Paradise Group, are scheduled to break ground in September 2013, said Lee Woo-hyung, director of tourism and culture department at the Incheon Free Economic Zone Authority.

Some are skeptical that the projects can rival the profits made in Macau, which has benefited from a seemingly endless stream of mainland Chinese gamblers.

Beijing has been happy to let its wealthy gamble their fortunes away in Macau, a special administrative region of China. But it might start clamping down on exit permissions to prevent citizens from boosting a regional rival's gambling tax coffers if geopolitical tensions flare.

That risk is most acute in the Philippines, which has sparred with Beijing over a disputed shoal, said Grant Govertsen, managing partner of Union Gaming Research Macau.

"You're entirely dependent on the good graces of Beijing to be successful," said Govertsen. "And I don't like those odds."


Teresa Cerojano in Manila, Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo and Youkyung Lee in Seoul contributed to this report.

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Singapore Bets on Casino Revenues


SINGAPORE—Two years ago, Singapore launched its first casinos in a bold bet that it could bolster its economy without attracting social ills, such as organized crime and gambling addiction, that have plagued other casino capitals.

By CHUN HAN WONG published on September 5th in the WALL STREET JOURNAL 

Today, its two new casinos—Las Vegas Sands Corp.'s LVS +0.14% Marina Bay Sands and Genting Singapore PLC's Resorts World Sentosa—are financial winners, generating about US$6 billion in gross gambling revenue in 2011. But the social experiment has yielded mixed results, pressuring authorities to do more to contain gambling ills even as the global slowdown and rising competition threaten growth in the country's fledgling casino industry.

To be sure, the feared rise in organized crime never materialized, and gambling overall in the city-state has actually declined. But government leaders are concerned about surveys that indicate more low-income residents are betting larger sums and frequent gamblers are playing more often, while more people are seeking counseling for gambling troubles. Anecdotal reports of problem gamblers in the local media—some of whom have turned to crime to fund their gambling addictions—have also alarmed people.

In response, the government is upping the ante. Authorities recently expanded a program that prohibits locals who are bankrupt or reliant on government aid from going into the casinos, with about 43,000 people now barred. In July, the government proposed significantly increasing disciplinary penalties for casino operators that don't follow Singapore's casino-control laws, which include taxing locals S$100 (US$80) a day or S$2,000 annually to enter the casinos and tough limits on gamblers' ability to get credit in them. More steps are in the works, such as limiting the frequency of casino visits by some local gamblers.

Singapore already had some of the strictest casino rules in Asia, with restrictions that prohibit casino advertising targeting locals and limits on the presence of junket operators—the middlemen who bring high-spending gamblers to the tables, issue credit and collect on debts in exchange for commissions. They are the linchpin of the world's largest gambling hub by revenue, Macau, but they also have been linked to organized crime and have largely been blocked from operating in Singapore so far.

The results of Singapore's experiment are being watched closely across the world. Lawmakers in Japan, backed by gambling interests like U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands, have stepped up calls for casino legalization to help revitalize the country's economy. Taiwan and Mongolia have flirted with the idea, as have U.S. markets like Miami. Wealthy private backers, including Japanese pachinko magnate Kazuo Okada, are pushing ahead with projects in the Philippines and Vietnam, with more potentially to come.

It still isn't clear how well policies like the ones enforced in Singapore work—or whether they can be sustained in the long run, especially as casino revenue growth there slows and other countries launch competitors.

"Singapore's regulatory approach is a good approach in principle [but] the evidence would indicate that these policies have actually had a relatively minor impact in Singapore," said Robert Williams, a professor at Canada's University of Lethbridge and researcher at the Alberta Gambling Research Institute. Others disagree, saying the rules have helped to prevent trouble.

The data are somewhat inconclusive. The casinos say visits by citizens and permanent residents—estimated to account for about 20% to 30% of all visitors—declined in 2011 from the previous year. The overall gambling rate among locals age 18 and above—which includes any participants in horse-racing, sports betting and lotteries— fell to 47% in 2011 from 54% in 2008, according to a survey published by the National Council on Problem Gambling in February.

The crime rate in Singapore fell 5.3% last year from 2010 to a 20-year low, while casino-related crime—mainly cases of theft, cheating and counterfeiting—has remained stable at less than 2% of total crime in 2010 and 2011, according to police data.

But more low-income players are betting large sums while frequent gamblers are playing more often, the latest NCPG survey found.

"We note from [the NCPG survey] that problem gambling issues in Singapore are largely contained," Singapore's Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports said. "However, we prefer to be proactive" in tackling gambling-related social problems. "The experience from other jurisdictions tells us that it usually takes three to five years for the situation to stabilize."

Official data collated from counseling centers point to rising numbers of people seeking help for gambling problems. One such center, the National Addictions Management Service, logged 398 cases in the financial year ended March 2011, up from 88 in the year ended March 2008. Cases at another center, the Tanjong Pagar Family Services Center, rose to 132 last year, up from 105 in 2010 and 86 in 2009.

Anecdotal examples of problem gambling have also spread. In December, a local court sentenced an audio-equipment salesman to six years in jail for defrauding employers and acquaintances of more than S$1 million to pay off debts and fund his gambling addiction, which included trips to Marina Bay Sands and lottery outlets, according to the man's defense counsel, Mervyn Tan.

As part of its recent tightening, the government proposes to increase maximum disciplinary fines on casinos to as much as 10% of their gross gambling revenue, which could push fines into the hundreds of millions of dollars, up from the current cap of S$1 million. Among those who will be locked out of the casinos are some citizens and permanent residents who are in arrears on rental payments.

Another issue, albeit more difficult to measure, is the wider social impact of the casinos, which critics say have encouraged more conspicuous displays of wealth while failing to help lift wages for low-income workers.

"The casinos pander to particular lifestyles of conspicuous consumption, and some of the measures banning the poor fuels the perception that we're stratifying society on the basis of wealth—it's worrying, and not something we should be proud of as a community," said Vincent Wijeysingha, treasurer of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party.

The government argues that the casinos—which hire about 22,000 people—have helped citizens' economic well-being, even though some positions have gone to foreigners.

Singapore's move to tighten casino regulations hasn't met much resistance from casino operators so far. Las Vegas Sands' Mr. Adelson said in July that his company isn't concerned by Singapore's moves and doesn't expect the tighter rules to significantly hurt its business. "We don't have a problem if [Singapore] wants to put a limitation on either visitation or the exclusion of very poor people," he told analysts in an earnings call. "We don't see the future coming out of poor, unfortunate, very vulnerable people."

But underscoring the pressures casinos may feel to open their doors to more gamblers, both Marina Bay Sands and Genting Singapore reported weaker second-quarter earnings, citing declines in business volumes.

For Singapore, the longer-term question is whether future governments will be tempted to ease controls if growth in casino revenue plateaus. Analysts expect Singapore's casino market to expand at a slower pace in the next few years, with revenue growth likely slipping into the high single digits amid greater competition from other Asian markets.

A battleground could be junket operators—the most potent potential growth booster for now, as Singapore is legally bound to not add new casinos until March 2017. While experts say Singapore doesn't intend to let junkets dominate its gambling scene as they do in Macau, some analysts say authorities may be compelled to license more of them if revenues wilt. Regulators here have licensed just two small outfits so far, and are planning tougher rules that could crimp operators' profitability.

Write to Chun Han Wong at

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USA - Las Vegas - IGT's DoubleDown Casino Debuts First Land-Based Deal in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS, Sept. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- International Game Technology (IGT), the global leader in driving technology innovations in the gaming industry, today announced that their DoubleDown Casino's first land-based partnership in Las Vegas, Nevada will be with Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas.

The DoubleDown Casino application will be hosted on the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas website,, giving players a chance to compete against friends and try their hand at winning virtual chips, all while remaining connected to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas.

"Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas is giving players more entertainment, even when they're not on the casino floor," said Eric Tom, executive vice president of global sales at IGT. "Engaging through the website allows players to remain connected to the property they know and trust, with DoubleDown Casino simply providing the gaming entertainment."

IGT's DoubleDown Casino provides players with exciting casino style game play online, with access to the full roster of games including Da Vinci Diamonds® and Cleopatra® slots, as well as multi-player poker. Other well-known and proven IGT slot games and an exhilarating new Bingo game are slated to arrive soon on the DoubleDown Casino.

"Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas is constantly looking for ways to enhance our players' experiences," said Bill Warner, president of WG-Harmon, LLC, which manages the property. "What the relationship with DoubleDown Casino enables us to do is provide just that—more fun, more play, more entertainment."

Through the DoubleDown Casino, IGT is offering its casino partners with an avenue to provide extended social entertainment to their players across multiple platforms. This rapidly growing revenue sharing relationship also provides access to the largest social casino site in the world—directly on a casino's proprietary website, allowing the casino to have an advantageous opportunity to deliver targeted marketing messages to their customers.

New games will be added automatically to the virtual casino, and first-time users of the app will receive $1 million in virtual chips to start their play.

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UK - Ministers plot new curbs on gambling machines that allow punters to stake £15,000 an hour

Ministers are planning a crackdown on high-stakes gambling machines which allow punters to bet more than £15,000 an hour.
They want to impose restrictions on how much a person can bet on the casino-style machines, which are found in hundreds of betting shops up and down the country.

Lib Dems want the machines, which are called fixed-odds betting terminals, to be limited to a maximum stake of £2.


The Government is also looking at tougher enforcement of age restrictions.

The plans mean ministers are effectively ignoring the Commons culture select committee, which recommended in July that gambling laws be further relaxed, including scrapping the current limit of four FOBTs per shop.

Last month, Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman and former home secretary David Blunkett said the party had been wrong to relax gambling laws.

Critics say the machines, which are so addictive they have been called the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling, allow users to rack up huge debts. They can stake £100 a time on roulette, blackjack or poker in the hope of winning £500.

Pubs and seaside resorts say they are being ‘decimated’ by competition from the machines, while MPs complain high streets are being ruined by the proliferation of betting shops.

Last night a government source said ministers were hoping to make an announcement ‘soon’ on the measures. ‘It’s an issue we are aware of and are keen to deal with,’ the source said. However, there are concerns cracking down too hard could push people towards online gambling.

Lib Dem Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey and culture spokesman Don Foster have both written to John Penrose, the Tory culture minister in charge of gambling policy. Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has also expressed concerns.

Last night, Labour MP David Lammy, who has accused his party of having precipitated the problem through its 2005 Gambling Act, which relaxed restrictions, said the plans ‘do not go nearly far enough’.

The British Beer and Pub Association said takings have fallen by at least £110million since the Act.

Mr Foster last night said ministers were looking at restricting the size of the stake, increasing the time between each ‘spin’, restricting the number of FOTBs a betting shop can install and restricting the number of terminals on each high street.
Any changes would be subject to a consultation process.

‘These machines are the cuckoo in the nest allowing £100 per spin,’ he said. ‘At last a number of government ministers are beginning to share my concerns.’

Read more in the Daily Mail

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