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The strange allure of baccarat: ‘The cards speak for themselves’

Despite its relatively few players, baccarat can take casino revenue for a wild ride


Earlier this year, The New York Times published the obituary of John Fairfax of Henderson, a lifelong adventurer and gambling enthusiast who favored baccarat.

 

By Jeff Haney  why not visit the gaming section at Las Vegas Sun & sister publication Las Vegas Weekly
 

“Baccarat is equal parts skill and chance,” the Times obit stated. But it was wrong. Baccarat is 100 percent luck, zero percent skill. By all accounts, John Fairfax lived a rewarding and fascinating life, but he was not playing baccarat with a mathematical advantage against the house. No one does.

Even so, the casinos’ edge in the game is small enough—and many of the wagers large enough—that baccarat revenues can fluctuate violently compared with other games, often plummeting one month and soaring the next.

THE DECISION

For a card game that generates a sizeable chunk of Nevada’s table-gaming revenue, baccarat is a rather elementary pastime (see the rules below). It offers no opportunity to use logic or creative thinking, as poker does. It offers none of the intellectual stimulation of noncasino card games like bridge or hearts. It offers no chance to win a veritable fortune on a single modest bet, as you might with horse racing’s Pick Six.

The only decision in baccarat is choosing to bet whether the “player” or the “banker” will end up with a better hand. And even those terms have no real meaning. They might as well be called “red” and “blue” or “heads” and “tails.”

That’s it. The hand plays out according to a predetermined set of rules, and you can expect to lose a little more than $1 for every $100 you put into action (assuming you avoid the “tie,” which caters to masochists with its huge house advantage).

Belying the game’s simplistic nature, however, baccarat results play a major role in shaping the bottom line of Nevada’s big casino companies. In 2011, for example, the state’s casinos won $1.26 billion from baccarat players, while only netting $1.04 billion from blackjack players and less than $400 million from both craps and roulette players. Consider that baccarat is available at about 259 tables in 25 casinos, compared with blackjack’s 2,801 tables in 151 casinos, and its revenue numbers are even more noteworthy. No other table game even comes close.

CULTURE CLASH

In popular culture, baccarat historically has conjured images of James Bond in Nassau or well-heeled gamblers frolicking in Havana on the eve of Fulgencio Batista’s ouster. In fact, an early scene in 1962’s Dr. No, the first Bond film, shows 007 matching wits with Sylvia Trench across the green baize (although technically they’re playing Chemin de Fer, a variation of baccarat).

In Western society, baccarat’s reputation as a glamorous endeavor has largely faded. Modern-day baccarat play is driven primarily by gamblers from China and other Asian countries, where the game’s essence is deeply rooted in the culture.

“The Asians love the characteristics of the game,” says Bill Zender, a former gaming executive who served as vice president, director of casino operations and part-owner of the Aladdin hotel-casino. “To them it’s a pure gambling game. Once the cards have been shuffled, cut and placed into the shoe, the cards speak for themselves.”

Asian gambling tradition dictates that the fate of the players at a baccarat table is sealed in a freshly shuffled shoe. “Any mistake made by the dealer that is not handled with the correct procedure and changes the order of the cards could chase them from the table,” Zender says. “Asians have a strong belief in fate.”

In a conference call for investors last year, Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, said high-rolling casino customers from the U.S. prefer games other than baccarat.

“Most of our baccarat business is international,” Murren said. “There’s very little national [domestic] baccarat play.”

Non-Asian tourists would rather play a game that gives them an opportunity to make decisions on their hand.

“In years past, the only reason baccarat attracted some of the non-Asian customers was due to the tradition related to big-table baccarat,” Zender says. “Dealers in tuxedos, beautiful women acting as shills, the use of cash or gaming plaques. These traditions have gone by the wayside with the advent of Asian play. Asians are where the real money is.”

ROLLER-COASTER RIDE

A relatively small number of high-rolling gamblers drive the baccarat action in Las Vegas. As a result, even though the house maintains an edge in the long run, short-term results can be a wild ride. February 2010, for instance, was a great month for baccarat. The state’s casinos won more than $206 million from baccarat players that month—thanks in part to Chinese New Year celebrations—keeping 17 percent of the total amount of money wagered on the game. In June of that year, by contrast, the casinos won just $18.5 million from baccarat players, keeping only 3.5 percent of the money wagered.

Long-term, casinos aim to hold about 12 percent of the money gamblers risk at baccarat. Other games, which rely on a larger pool of players making much smaller bets, have more consistent hold rates from month to month and quarter to quarter. That’s why casino executives often refer to “Lady Luck” or “the luck of the draw” when addressing short-term baccarat results.

As Zender puts it, “How baccarat does, so does the Strip, and how the Strip does, so does the county and state.”

Rules of The Game

Traditional baccarat (bah-kur-RAH), or “big-table” baccarat, is played at a table that seats up to 12 or 14 players. It is often found in casino high-limit rooms.

A shoe containing eight decks of cards rotates around the table, giving each player an opportunity to act as dealer.

Aces are valued at 1 point, deuces through 9s at pip value (the number on the card) and face cards at zero points.

Players place bets on either the “player,” the “banker” or the “tie.”

The person designated as the dealer distributes two cards to himself for the “banker” hand and two cards to the person designated the “player,” usually the individual who has bet the most money on the “player” side. A hand’s score is the right digit of the sum of the two cards. The left digit is canceled. So, a 5 and a 6 is scored as a 1. A pair of 5s is scored as a zero, and so on. The score will always range from zero to 9, with 9 the highest possible score. Suits are irrelevant.

After the initial deal, the player or the banker stands when dealt a hand with a score of 8 or 9 (a “natural”). The player also stands if he is dealt a 6 or 7. Otherwise, the player draws a third card.

When the player does not have a natural, the banker hits on totals of zero to 2. If the player stands, the banker hits on 5 or less. If the player hits, the banker acts according to rules that determine whether he hits or stands.

The hand with a higher score wins. Bets on player pay even money. Bets on banker pay 19 to 20, or .95 to 1. The tie pays 8 to 1. Bets on banker and player push in the event of a tie.

Most baccarat play in Las Vegas is at high-end Strip casinos. In smaller casinos, mini baccarat is usually offered instead, with the house dealer handling all the cards and allowing the game to move faster. Otherwise, the rules are the same.

This story first appeared in Sun sister publication Las Vegas Weekly.

 

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CANADA - Gateway Casinos files IPO documents

Five years after getting wrapped up in a $1.4-billion private equity buyout, Gateway Casinos and Entertainment is ready to be a public company once again.

The Burnaby, British Columbia-based casino and gaming operator has filed a preliminary prospectus for an initial public offering, capping off a turbulent five year history during which the company was loaded up with debt and then forced to restructure right after the worst of the credit crisis.

Details of the new offering are still being completed, so a final size and yield have yet to be determined, but the deal should include both treasury and secondary portions, and it’s bound to be served up with a juicy yield because that’s what catches investors eyes now.

However, the company has already disclosed that about $77-million will go toward repaying term loans and another $60-million will be used to redeem notes, totalling at least $136-million. So the offering should be north of the $100-million mark at least.

Rumours the company would pursue a public offering had circulated for a few months, after Newt Glassman, the head of distressed debt firm Catalyst Capital signalled in a interview with the Globe that he was looking to starting selling off Gateway.

Mr. Glassman first set his eyes on Gateway around 2007, and in 2009 his company picked up some debt and subsequently took control of the company. The firm has since picked away at $1-billion in debt and Mr. Glassman joined the company’s board.

Proceeds from the IPO will be used to continue reducing debt and to complete Gateway’s refinancing process. The company will then invest some of its cash flow into growth opportunities by way of new projects and acquisitions.

From the initial report it appears Gateway is intending to issue a dividend and has earmarked about $69-million for payments. It’s still early days on that decision, but offering a quarterly dividend would separate Gateway from major competitor Great Canadian Gaming Corp., which doesn’t have one.

At a glance, it appears that market conditions are favourable for the company’s expansion. In the five years leading up to 2011, BC’s gaming revenue grew from $2.3-billion to $2.7-billion, and across Canada the gaming industry has more than doubled in size over the past 15 years.

But that doesn’t mean everything is rosy. Talks are ongoing with the British Columbia Lottery Corp., which has not yet approved the company’s plan to develop a hotel, convention centre and gaming facility on the South Surrey property it acquired in February. Gateway also cautions that heavy concentration in Greater Vancouver, upcoming lease renewals and the fact that more than half its staff are covered by collective bargaining agreements could all change management’s plans for the future.

Gateway is already one of the largest casino operators in Canada with 12 gaming properties located in British Columbia and Alberta (primarily Edmonton). That amounts to nearly 400,000 square feet of space that houses 5,568 slot machines, 41 poker tables and 577 bingo seats.

See this story and more at The Globe And Mail JACQUELINE NELSON
Globe and Mail Update
Posted on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 1:53PM EDT

http://www.gatewaycasinos.com/

 

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CANADA - OLG chair says Ottawa casino must be competitive

OLG chair Paul Godfrey said he'd like a potential Ottawa casino to be an attraction for more than just gamblers Thursday, May 24, 2012.

 

Updated: Thu May. 24 2012 1:29:26 PM
ctvottawa.ca

The head of Ontario's gaming corporation says a potential Ottawa casino must be able to compete with Casino Lac Leamy in Gatineau.

OLG chair Paul Godfrey said Thursday that Ottawa would be a good location if the private sector and city can team up.

"I could see it being attached to a hotel, I think retail shops could be in the area," he said. "Not just for people who like to gamble, it should be a centre that attracts people."

He said if Ottawa is willing, he hopes to have the new casino up and running in five years.

There can only be one gaming facility in Ottawa because of regulations, meaning the slots at the Rideau Carleton Raceway would have to close if a new casino opens.

With a report from CTV Ottawa' John Hua

 

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AUSTRALIA - ABC to pay $190,000 in The Star casino case

THE ABC has admitted it breached a duty of confidentiality when it aired a leaked list of The Star casino's top international high rollers.


Lawyers for the national broadcaster on Thursday settled a Supreme Court case brought against it by the casino and its owner, Echo Entertainment Group, and agreed to pay costs of $190,000.


The 7.30 Report, which aired on April 16, featured a leaked internal database identifying the casino's top high rollers.
The report detailed the high rollers' gambling patterns and how much money the top seven gamblers fed into the casino.
It also broadcast a number of internal incident reports relating to the high rollers' behaviour and photographs of the inner sanctum gaming pits.


The court previously heard The Star casino regarded its list of top players as a "highly prized internal database of international high rollers" and that such information was "highly confidential and commercially sensitive".


The information in question was available to only five per cent of the casino's employees, lawyers for the casino said.


The ABC had argued that the public had a right to know about the regulation of NSW's only casino, which was the subject of an Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) inquiry earlier this year.


Last week, the ILGA cleared the casino of any wrongdoing in handling sexual harassment claims against the casino's former boss Sid Vaikunta.


Katherine Richardson, representing the casino, on Thursday told the court the ABC had admitted it broadcast confidential information "in breach of the consequential duty of confidentiality owed by (the ABC) to (The Star casino)".


The ABC agreed not to publish the confidential information and to destroy all casino documents in its possession within seven days.


Justice Julie Ward congratulated both parties on reaching a "sensible resolution".


Read more: http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/abc-to-pay-190000-in-the-star-casino-case/story-e6frfku0-1226366043011#ixzz1vmziUU8L 

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MEXICAN GANG WARS - Another casino firebombed

May 21
Two gunmen were killed and a marine wounded in a clash between federal forces and gunmen in Xalapa, Veracruz state.
Gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed a police chief in Guadalajara, Jalisco state, while he traveled in his SUV.
Unidentified people burned down El Amazonas Casino in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state. Authorities said arsonists used gasoline as an accelerant but that no one was injured. El Amazonas opened in February 2010, and reportedly is connected to Los Zetas. Even though federal authorities reportedly closed the casino in March 2012, witnesses said men routinely occupied the casino.

The arson attack at the Casino Royale in Monterrey in August  left 52 people dead.
 

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Do you work, have you worked or are you thinking of working in Mexico? What are your opinions on the gangs operating in the country and the authorities seemingly inept performance at tackling them?

SINGAPORE - Casino watchdog to invest in staff training, tech development

SINGAPORE: The Casino Regulatory Authority will continue to invest in staff training and technology development to stay ahead in the ever changing gaming industry.

Speaking at the CRA workplan seminar, chairman Richard Magnus said the Casino Regulatory Authority is in the midst of developing a training framework that would provide a structured programme for officers' learning and development throughout their careers.

It also intends to build up capabilities in the area of regulatory forensic investigations.

Mr Magnus stressed that it needs to attract and retain officers to carry out regulatory work.

To ensure that employment terms remain competitive, Minister in Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry, S Iswaran said the CRA had recently conducted a review of the schemes and salaries.

The details of the revised scheme are being finalised and the revisions are expected to be implemented in the third quarter of this year.

- CNA/cc 

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HOW MANY OF THE ASIA CASINO RELATED PICTURES BELOW CAN YOU IDENTIFY? Some clues below the pictures

 

 

Some of the pictures above are:

Sheldon Adelson, Steve Wynn, James Packer, Dr, MIchael Gore, Pagcor Insider newsletter, Fiesta Poro Point Casino Philippines, Entertainment CIty Manila, Kings Roman Casino Laos, Galaxy Macau, Marina Bay Sands, Sands Cotai, Resorts World Sentosa, Solaire Manila.

Asian casinos fight world's best cheats: experts

HONG KONG - As billions of dollars pour into Asia's gleaming casinos, they are becoming the front line of a sometimes hugely lucrative battle between cheats and the house, say experts.

Both sides look to employ the latest, most advanced technology, but security consultant Sal Piacente says a scam in the Philippines last year took the gaming security world by surprise.

An Asian syndicate used an improvised camera hidden up a member's sleeve to film the sequence of cards in a deck as it was cut on a baccarat table in Parañaque City last May.

The order of the cards was relayed digitally to another gang member who, after analyzing the footage in slow-motion, returned to the table as the deck finally came into play hours later.

Piacente, a 47-year-old from Brooklyn, said the multi-million-dollar "cutter scam" showed that as long as Asian casinos were the most lucrative in the world, they would attract the most skilful cheats.

"The scams that happen here (in Asia) are a lot more sophisticated than in the States," he told AFP at the Global Gaming Expo Asia in Macau, a southern Chinese city that generates five times the annual gambling revenue of Las Vegas.

"What was happening here in Macau five years ago, is happening in the States now."

Asia is in the midst of a casino building boom, fuelled by wealthy VIP gamblers from mainland China, with billions of dollars being invested in huge integrated casino resorts from Macau to Manila Bay and Singapore.

The new properties bristle with cutting-edge surveillance technology, but the cheats are coming up with their own high-tech innovations, such as the sleeve-camera used in the Philippines.

"If you go to a place like this in Macau, where the surveillance is a lot better trained, then the cheats have to be more sophisticated," Piacente said on the expo floor at the glittering Venetian Macau resort.

Most of the exhibitors at Asia's largest casino expo, which was ending Thursday, showed off the latest slot machines or video gambling innovations, but Piacente's booth consisted of himself, a baccarat table and a bag of tricks.

Loaded dice, split chips and reflective gold rings are some of the more traditional tools of the cheater's trade, which Piacente, president of UniverSal Game Protection, demonstrates with a magician's flare.

He is also a master of sleight of hand—false shuffles, second deals, card palming—and can memorize a deck of cards instantly from sight.

He has worked a lifetime to perfect his skills, but tells his clients in the gaming world that the real cheats will be smarter, faster and better—especially in Asia where so much more money is at stake.

"I sit at home and practice thousands of moves for hundreds of hours. They're at home practicing one move for thousands of hours. They do that one move better than I could possibly imagine," he said.

"An amateur practices until he gets it right; a professional practices until he can't get it wrong."

It is a constant battle.

Hoffman Ma, deputy chairman of Success Universe Group, which owns the Ponte 16 casino in Macau, said US anti-fraud system manufacturers were tailoring their latest products for Asian casinos.

"We do probably have one of the most advanced systems," he said. "Technology helps you to be more efficient... and with the huge traffic (of casino gamblers in Macau) you really need that assistance," he said.

Nevada casinos, in contrast, were hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis and are struggling to keep up with surveillance technology, experts said.

"I hate to say it's archaic," said Douglas Florence, business development director at Canadian security camera company Avigilon, adding that many Las Vegas casinos still relied on grainy video stored on VHS tapes.

"Asia has been digital almost since day one because everything is new."

Avigilon has partnered with South African company Cheeteye, which offers casinos software that scours data from multiple sources to identify suspicious behavior patterns, such as increases in a certain player's average wager.

Cheeteye representative Graeme Powell said the company's revenues had doubled in the past two years as casino managers, particularly "young, tech-savvy" ones, adopted the system.

As for the Parañaque City cutter scam, several suspects have been arrested while the alleged ringleader, Singaporean lawyer Loo Choon Beng, was reportedly found dead in a Chinese hotel room in August last year. –Agence France-Presse

BY STEPHEN COATES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE May 24, 2012 3:38pm

 

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MISSISSIPPI - Jimmy Buffet helps open new Biloxi casino

JACKSON, MISS.

BILOXI, Miss. — The Margaritaville Casino is open. And it's already getting rave reviews.
Pascagoula native Jimmy Buffett came home Tuesday and opened Margaritaville Casino & Restaurant in Biloxi. Buffett played for nearly an hour, sharing songs and memories of growing up on the Gulf Coast.


Those who weren't among the 4,000 VIP guests formed an impromptu Parrothead yacht club near the marina and listened from their kayaks and party boats.


Interspersed among "Margaritaville," ''5 O'clock Somewhere" and other favorite songs, he shared memories. Buffett saluted Jake Mladinich, who hired him for his first professional gig at Trader John's in Biloxi, and called out, "Thank you Jake. It worked out."


The $62 million casino has hired 1,000 employees. It opened to the public at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Its interior boasts floor to ceiling windows offering a view of Back Bay, the marina and Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge, as well as replica vintage planes and boats as decor.


CEO Tom Brosig said they've already scheduled the first boxing match in June.


It is the first casino to open in South Mississippi since Hard Rock in 2007 in Biloxi. The IP was the first to open after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.


"I think this is great for Biloxi, great for the entire area," said Mike Hollywood, 65, of Ocean Springs.


Hollywood and his girlfriend, Anne Kiper, sat at one of the brightly painted picnic tables and sipped on frozen margaritas. The pair sang along to many of the tunes, and toasted their margaritas when "Come Monday" started playing.


"It is exactly what we hoped it would be," said John Hairston, a member of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. "There's nowhere else like it."


Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran said she believes it will attract a new group of people, some of whom she hopes will bring business to Ocean Springs.


"I'm here to see the volcano slider," said Jessie Hutton of Hammond, Ind., who also wanted to try her luck at the casino. "I hope I get some of their dollars," she said.


Janice Richardson of Gulfport said she wanted to see what Margaritaville looks like inside and didn't want to wait beyond the first day.


Gaming Commissioner Nolen Canon came from Northern Mississippi. "It's so Biloxi," he said of the resort.

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Russia eyes Vladivostok casino zone to woo Asian money - Aims to set up 6 sq km gambling zone in Vladivostok

   

 

* Aims to set up 6 sq km gambling zone in Vladivostok

* State-owned company to seek tenders from June

* Plan includes luxury hotels, yacht club

“Nash Dom — Primorye” website         WIKIPEDIA

MACAU, May 23 (Reuters) - Russia is placing bets that plans to build a gambling and entertainment zone near the port city of Vladivostok will lure investors who have spent big money on casinos for Asian gamblers in Macau and Singapore.

Vladivostok, located near China and known more for its oil and gas pipes, has been undergoing a facelift ahead of hosting an APEC summit in September.

It will, however, also face competition from Asian nations such as Vietnam and the Philippines, which are setting up similar tourism and entertainment zones.

Russia's state-owned Nash Dom Primorye is set to announce at the Global Gaming Expo in Macau on Wednesday that it is seeking private investors and/or companies to build casino resorts in a six square kilometre area near Vladivostok.

Vladivostok is one of four official Russian government zones where casino gambling is legal but is the only one that has formally initiated plans to lure foreign investors.

Known as the Integrated Entertainment Zone, the project has space for roughly five large resorts.

A report from Gaming Market Advisors, which conducts casino market research, estimates the zone could rake in revenues of $2 to $7 billion when completed. By comparison, Singapore's casino area which is similar in size, took in more than $5 billion in 2011.

Nash Dom Primorye has appointed Las Vegas-based Galaviz & Co as lead strategic adviser for the tender.

The tender will be initiated in June, giving potential international operators 60 days to send in a pitch and budget estimates. The government will then enter into discussions with potential investors by the end of October.

Marina Lomakina, general director of Nash Dom, told Reuters in an interview she hoped the zone would be fully completed within five years.

"We want companies who are well known and will help create amenities that are more than just casino gaming," she said, adding that the zone would require a total minimum investment of $2 billion from private investors looking to develop properties.

The masterplan includes luxury hotels, a yacht club, shopping malls as well as outdoor sports such as golf. As it stands now, the zone is 2.6 square kilometers, but can be extended to six square kilometers.

The project, which will focus on drawing in Asian money, comes at a time when China's economy is slowing and Macau's once turbo-charged monthly growth rate is falling to near single digits.

Russians would also contribute to the total revenue spent in the Vladivostok zone, Lomakina said. Unlike Asian countries such as Vietnam where it is illegal for citizens to gamble, Russians are allowed to gamble in designated local zones.

"We hope most of the customers will be from China, as well as Korea, Japan and the United States. We have very strong ties with these countries and expect to have their interest in the project."

Vladivostok is two hours by plane from Seoul and Tokyo.

The Russian port city has invested $7 billion over the past five years to develop infrastructure, including a new airport, bridges that resemble San Franscisco's Golden Gate and a new university ahead of the APEC summit. It is constructing more roads and transport links for the resort zone.

Lomakina said she hoped that by using international best practices to develop the zone, other projects in Russia would also follow suit.

"Russia is growing more integrated into the world. We are aiming to become more understandable to foreign partners and help them do business that is not only in oil and gas but other businesses too." (Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

By Farah Master - see all Farah Master's gaming related articles (quite a lot) HERE

 

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**** World Casino Networks country by country South East Asia casino report 2012 will be released soon, it will be free to all members of this network- why not join today for one year free and beat our soon to be introduced annual membership charges. If you are not a member and wish to receive the report please use the contact us form to mail us - there is a $199 fee for non members. 

Macau: propped up by high-rollers, but for how long?

Here we go again. Another sharp sell-off of Macau gaming shares on China slowdown fears. Industry forecasts have always underestimated Chinese high-rollers’ propensity to gamble, so are the latest prediction of gloom to be trusted?


The casino operators investing billions of dollars on new capacity are the worst hit, naturally. Galaxy Entertainment lost over 9 per cent of its market value in the last two days – it has just started building a $2.1bn extension of its existing property in the Cotai Strip which will double its size by 2015.


Sands China lost 7.6 per cent in two days. The owner of the Venetian has just opened the first phase of its $4bn Sands Cotai Central resort but is still building. Wynn Macau got off relatively lightly with a less than 6 per cent drop. It jas just received news that it can start building a new casino in Macau and according to Bloomberg, it is trying to line up a $1bn bank loan to help finance the construction.


The sell-off was sparked off by a flurry of analysts’ reports flagging up a marked slowdown in the so-called VIP segment in Macau. These are the big spenders who are taken to private rooms to gamble and make up roughly two-thirds of Macau’s casino revenues. Analysts put the growth in gross gaming revenue at 7-10 per cent so far in the first three weeks of May compared with the same period last year. This would be the slowest pace seen in a long time and much lower than the 15-20 per cent growth forecast for the whole year.

To read the full article and see the chart showing the decline in  "rolling chip" volume please click HERE

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Moon chips from Vegas casino mogul sent to NASA

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- What are the odds that chips of rock from man's first visit to the moon would end up with a flamboyant Las Vegas casino owner who once had a place with a rocket ship logo, a sign declaring "Sky's the Limit" and an eatery called the Moon Rock Cafe?

A Las Vegas lawyer for the estate of Bob Stupak is finding out.

Stupak died in 2009, and attorney Richard Wright recently sent to NASA a tabletop display with four rice-sized rock chips.

Wright hopes it'll be authenticated and returned to the people of Nicaragua.

Wright's got documents showing Stupak bought the display in 1987 for $10,000 and casino stock from a Baptist missionary preacher from Arizona who said it came from a Costa Rican mercenary soldier during the Nicaraguan revolution.

 

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Adelson won’t seek a casino in Massachusetts.

The worldwide casino company run by billionaire Boston native Sheldon Adelson will bypass the chance to build a casino in Massachusetts, saying the state’s plan to license up to three casinos and a slot parlor is going to dilute the market, according to a spokesman.

Adelson, who had spent nearly $500,000 lobbying lawmakers on the casino bill approved last November, is known for building lavish gambling resorts, some costing several billion dollars.

“With multiple facilities being proposed, it didn’t synch with our business model,’’ Ron Reese, a spokesman for Adelson’s company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., said Monday.

The confirmation that Adelson will skip the Bay State comes just two weeks after another Las Vegas casino developer, Steve Wynn, abandoned his plans to build a resort in Foxborough in the face of stiff local opposition. Wynn has given no indication he will choose another site in Massachusetts.

The absence of two industry giants, each with vast experience and deep pockets, could mean less competition for the Greater Boston casino license, potentially leading to lower bids or less ambitious projects, specialists say.

“When you have major corporations with all the wherewithal they have competing for one license - a prized license that the one for metropolitan Boston would be - I don’t think there is any question that each one would be coming out showing you something better,’’ said Frank Fantini, publisher of Fantini’s Gaming and Lodging Reports.

The state gambling commission will eventually solicit bids for up to one gambling resort in each of three regions of the state, and one slot parlor that could be built anywhere. The Greater Boston license, expected to be the most lucrative in the state, is being pursued by Suffolk Downs in East Boston in partnership with Caesars Entertainment. Suffolk Downs has said it will invest $1 billion in the development. Developer David Nunes, who has proposed a casino in Milford, has also pledged he will bid on the license but has not yet announced a financing partner.

The 78-year-old Adelson, raised in Dorchester, had been seen as a big unknown force in Greater Boston, a potential game-changing player with the know-how and financial resources to produce a top-flight bid - and to force other bidders to aim high.

Forbes pegs Adelson’s net worth at $24.9 billion, ranking him the world’s 14th-richest person. Adelson’s Venetian hotel is a top attraction for sightseers on the Las Vegas Strip, incorporating canals and gondolas, and an indoor shopping and dining plaza designed to recreate Venice at dusk. He has spent billions developing resorts in Macao, China, and Singapore, which have become huge gambling markets.

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MACEDONIA/BALKANS GAMBLING - Police stage high stakes crackdown against illegal gambling

Long shielded by law enforcement in the Western Balkans, gambling operations are now in police cross-hairs.

Gambling is becoming increasingly common in the region, a worrisome trend given its links to addiction and crime-related activity. It also has a far wider implication beyond stories of individual hardships: a potentially massive negative effect on the economy in general.

In Greece, a country fileted by budget cuts, Evgenios Giannakopoulos, the head of the watchdog agency Committee of Surveillance and Control of Gaming, estimates that revenue from illegal games amounts to over 7 billion euros annually, none of which flows into the budget.

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has an estimated 1,250 registered venues for different types of betting and gambling, putting BiH at the top of list of Europe in terms of volume. Second on the list is Serbia which, according to official statistics, offers 1,208 registered betting venues.

But it's the unregistered ones that keep revenue out of state coffers.

"It is assumed that there are as many sports betting [facilities] that work in the grey zone. Therefore the state budget loses tens of millions euros annually," Zoran Puhac, of the Serbian Association of Gaming Providers, told SETimes, noting that the same is likely true in BiH.

And in BiH, where one out of every five people plays a game of chance, about 500,000 people could be considered addicted.

In the face of all this, some countries in the region are banding together to fight gambling-related crime, including in one operation, seizing thousands of gambling machines worth over 10m euros.

"Gambling has increased significantly in the last years as the economic crisis progresses. The impoverished citizens seek refuge in gambling, both legalised and illegal gambling in Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo. Recent police operations have a crucial, positive impact on the whole society in the region," Trajche Arsov, a lawyer from Skopje who works on gambling related cases, told SETimes.

 Operation Detonator targets gambling rings in eastern Macedonia. [Reuters]

 

One ongoing action, dubbed Detonator, has cleared much of the crime in the eastern part of Macedonia. In four cities alone, police seized around 840 poker machines and other games of chance. About 30 people were arrested for illegally operating gambling businesses, and many others are still being sought. The difference this time is that police are smashing rings, not protecting them.

"Detonator represents the dark side of society and the participation of power among individuals or groups who hide behind the veil of real or fictitious political and police protection. Such people for many years managed to terrorise and intimidate ... the population in small and economically disadvantaged towns," Frosina Remenski, a professor at the Faculty of Security in Skopje, told SETimes.

According to Minister of Internal Affairs Gordana Jankulovska, the old days of protecting criminals are over.

"I would like to say to all those who think they can hide behind political affiliation, profession or their engagement in some institution, that nothing can help them if they have committed a crime and all of them will be brought to justice."

The group arrested recently in Macedonia allegedly extorted money from owners of local bars, used threats and violence, organised illegal gambling and were involved with illegal drug trafficking and excise goods. And this, in essence, was just the tip of the iceberg, says Arsov.

What began with the seizure of over 800 slot machines ended with the detection of casinos operating without licenses, failing to declare income or taxes, and hiring undocumented workers, he said. It "opens a space for expansion of the criminal investigation against other offenders ...in the capacity of helpers, instigators or accomplices. Here I think primarily of officials from the Customs Administration without whom not a single slot machine could enter unnoticed."

He also cites "the responsible persons in the Public Revenue Office who missed regular checks on the operation of each individual casino. All these people are an important link in the chain of organised crime, out of the boundaries of states, because without their help [crimes] can hardly be implemented. These kind of actions also happened in Serbia."

Much of the illegal gambling equipment in Macedonia comes from Bulgaria and Kosovo, and that connection is not lost on experts.

 

 Experts say gambling's tentacles extend well beyond casinos and other betting venues. [Reuters]

"The process of ordering, payment, transport, entering the country, customs and forwarding documentation, internal transportation, local accommodation and use of the appliances must be clues that should prove ... the responsibility of competent authorities and persons who were required to prevent and report the illegal entry of poker devices," Remenski said.

She explained that the gambling business and lottery are under intense monitoring in the EU and member states such as Bulgaria, to reduce the economic and financial crime and money laundering and prevent conditions for the emergence of illegal businesses associated with hazardous games and the illegal entry of poker devices.

"Operation Detonator showed how this kind of business can be cross border," added Remenski.

However, Detonator has not expanded to western parts of Macedonia, like Tetovo, Gostivar, Debar and Struga, where police have information that crime groups from Kosovo, Albania, and other countries are associated with local criminal clans.

By Aleksandar Pavlevski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 21/05/12 see this and other similar articles HERE

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MACAU - Final review on rules for smoking areas inside casinos

The draft on the requirements casinos will have to comply with while establishing smoking areas is almost ready, according to government officials.


A smoking ban was implemented in Macau earlier this year, however casinos were exempt until the beginning of next year. When the grace period ends, casinos will be entitled to set up dedicated smoking areas for up to half of the casino’s floor area.


According to the latest draft, casino staff will have no right to compensation should they fall ill after inhaling second-hand smoke.

These matters, according to the Health Bureau director Lei Chin Ion, do not fall under the “occupational hazard” category. He said the Labour Affairs Bureau made the decision.


Under the bill, pregnant women and workers diagnosed with respiratory diseases will be exempt from working in smoking areas.

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Sands China leads Cotai walk-in mass market

Union Gaming says Sands China Ltd’s properties in Cotai are the ones attracting the most walk-in visitors.


In an industry research note released yesterday covering the Macau mass market, analysts Grant Govertsen and Felicity Chiang measured the number of walk-in entries into each of the four casino resorts in Cotai: City of Dreams, Galaxy Macau, Sands Cotai Central and the Venetian Macao.


“What we found is that the Sands China properties collectively accounted for 65 percent of walk-in visitation versus having an approximate 55 percent share of mass-market table supply on Cotai,” they said.


Using the methodology of counting casino shuttle bus passengers to estimate the overall mass-market share of each gaming operator in Macau, Union Gaming analysts concluded that from April to so far this month, Sands China has led with a weighted share of customers of 34.6 percent.


It was followed by SJM Holdings Ltd (28.9 percent), Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd (19.1 percent), Wynn Macau Ltd (6.6 percent), Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd (6.0 percent) and MGM China Ltd (4.9 percent).


Compared to Union Gaming’s February and March survey, Sands China picked up the most share (+220 basis points), followed by Melco Crown (+40 basis points).


All other operators lost some share.

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Gaming show time in Macau

MACAU, 22 May 2012: Casino industry leaders gathered in the world’s gambling capital of Macau, Tuesday, for the Global Gaming Expo Asia, a three-day feast of gambling innovations at the glitzy Venetian hotel.


No expense or kitschy extravagance has been spared for the largest gaming event in Asia, show casing the industry’s latest products, services and technologies.


The casino business has boomed in Asia, and especially in the former Portuguese colony of Macau, over the past 10 years but this year’s expo is taking place amid fears of a glut of gaming tables across the region.


Gaming revenue growth in Macau has fallen from the stunning highs of the past two years, and the city’s casino operators have watched their companies’ shares tumble on the Hong Kong stock exchange since the end of April.


Macau relies almost entirely on gambling to keep its economy and tourism industry afloat.


Standard & Poor’s ratings agency last week warned of “medium-term risks” for Asia-Pacific gaming companies, notably those in Macau and Singapore, from billions of dollars in new casino supply proposed over the next five years.


It asked whether the Chinese gambling market could fill the huge integrated resorts — all-in-one playgrounds of casinos, hotels and luxury retail space — that are earmarked for construction from Macau to Manila Bay.


Earnings growth would moderate over the next 12 months, while remaining “robust”, the agency said.
“Given this backdrop, and despite continuing global economic uncertainty, all rated casino operators operating in the region have a stable or positive outlook,” it said.


US gaming mogul Steve Wynn announced this month he had received the go-ahead to build a new casino in Macau, adding to the 265,000 square feet (24,619 square metres) of gaming space his local unit Wynn Macau already owns.


In late April, Macau’s Galaxy Entertainment Group announced its intention to build the HK$16 billion (US$2.1 billion) second phase of its Galaxy Macau integrated resort, ramping up competition in the city.


Economic growth in China eased to 8.1% in the first quarter from 9.7% a year earlier, hit by falling domestic demand and Europe’s debt woes.


But Hong Kong-based analyst Aaron Fischer, head of gaming research at CLSA brokerage, believes the new casinos planned for Asia will drive demand to new heights.


“Referencing to Las Vegas shows that the gaming industry is a supply-driven industry in which new casino opening is needed to drive increased critical mass into the casinos,” he wrote in a report released last week.


There are five integrated resorts on Macau’s glittering Cotai Strip — which has boomed since the city liberalised its gaming industry in 2002 — and that number should more than double over the next decade, he said.


“Given the market size and growth and the long window before the next opening we believe Macau could absorb multiple openings within a narrow time frame,” Fischer said.


“Despite slowing growth, we believe Macau gaming stocks will rise 65% in the next 12 months and this is attractive compared to the average upside for (the) Asian consumer sector of 16%.”


Analysts said gaming stocks listed in Hong Kong had been hit by profit-taking and a more general sell-off in perceived higher-risk assets over the past two months.


Shares in Galaxy Entertainment, Wynn Macau and Sands China have each fallen about 20 percent since the end of April, in a broadly weaker market.


Six firms are licensed to operate casinos in Macau, which was handed back to Beijing in 1999 and enjoys freedoms not allowed on the mainland. It is the only place in China where casinos are legal.

 

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Casinos bet on Macau growth but China a wildcard

* Industry players gather in Macau for G2E Asia gaming conference

* Focus on Asia casino build-out as China growth slows

* Macau's May revenues likely to see notable slowdown, says analyst

Gaming executives and industry players gathering for a convention in Macau on Tuesday may have to finally confront what they have been predicting for the past two years -- a sharp slowing of growth in the world's hottest gambling market.

As China's economic expansion slows and high rollers from the mainland become more cautious, growth in Macau's gambling revenue could ease to around 11 percent year-on-year in May, analysts say. That is a healthy number, but a far cry from the up to 70 percent monthly growth rates seen in 2010 and even the 22 percent growth in April.

If May's growth is confirmed at 11 percent, it will be the lowest number recorded since July 2009. But revenues will still be a record for a single month.

"We are on the 18th month of a gradual decline rate. May will likely see a notable slowdown in the growth rate, but a record overall number," said Grant Govertsen, Managing Partner at Union Gaming Research in Macau.

The three-day conference at the Global Gaming Expo Asia, known as the G2E, focuses on the outlook for gambling in the region. Of particular interest is the emergence of new casinos being built in Macau, the Philippines and Vietnam at a time when growth is slowing in the formerly turbo-charged Asian economies.

Revenues in Macau, once a sleepy Portuguese fishing village and now a boom town and the biggest gambling market in the world, will be closely watched by Asian peers. Of particular interest is how much Chinese VIP spenders will be crippled by bad debt and the impact that will have on their gambling.

Macau, where casinos raked in $33 billion last year, is expected to make around $40 billion in 2012, with a growth rate estimated at 18 to 25 percent, down from 42 percent in 2011. High-spending Chinese gamblers account for around 70 percent of revenues, but their spending is dropping, analysts say.

The gap is increasingly being made up by China's emerging middle class, which has swarmed Macau's baccarat tables in record numbers. The mass market, made up of these newly moneyed Chinese, has so far been able to offset a dip in VIP revenues.

May's revenue figure will, nonetheless, be closely watched to see if there is a sharper decline than expected.

Billy Ng, director at Merrill Lynch Asia Pacific Ltd, based in Hong Kong, expects May growth at around 11 percent.

"It could go 13, 14 or 8, 9. If it turns out to be 8 or 9 ... I think that's a very shocking number to see," he said.

Casino stocks listed in Hong Kong have fallen between 12 and 23 percent since the start of May. The stocks, which trade with high volatility on a daily basis, a re lagging an 11 percent drop in the benchmark Hang Seng Index, on worries that weak China growth will hit the sector often seen as a play on mainland consumption.

AFFECTED BY CHINA PROPERTY, STOCKS

Some analysts are forecasting a deeper slowdown in the sector, predicting the year-on-year trend could turn negative in the fourth quarter and lead to weaker revenues in 2013.

"To assume that Macau gaming revenues will continue to grow at a double-digit pace, is to assume that the epic pace of property appreciation in China continues," said Mike Turner, analyst at Washington-based brokerage Compass Point.

Macau's boom in the past two years has been due in large part to the assets of many VIP customers in China appreciating sharply.

Those big spenders are also given credit by junket operators based on the value of their property or stocks. So with property prices easing and stock markets weak in China, Turner expects this to be mirrored in gambling revenues.

Other analysts, however, remain upbeat on Macau's future, citing a deeply unpenetrated market that will see further infrastructure development.

And casino owners operating in Macau are undeterred by possible easing of growth.

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the chairman of Las Vegas Sands , opened his new $4.4 billion casino on the Cotai strip last month, a reclaimed stretch of land off the Macau island of Taipa.

Rival Wynn Macau, a subsidiary of Wynn Resorts Ltd, said this month it had received approval to develop a 51-acre (20-hectare) plot on the strip.

Sands and Wynn both also have casinos on the main Macau peninsula, along with Macau kingpin Stanley Ho's SJM Holdings .

Other operators who own Macau's 35 casinos include MGM Resorts MGM China, Galaxy Entertainment and Melco Crown .

Macau, located on China's southern tip, has been a goldmine for the six casino players because of surging demand from mainland visitors and high rolling VIPs, eager to place their bets in the only city in the country where its 1.3 billion citizens are legally allowed to gamble in casinos.

Cotai seems to be where the big spenders are headed.

Since the opening of Galaxy's gold-themed palace, Galaxy Macau, in Cotai last year, the visitor flow to the strip has been steadily rising. The opening of Adelson's Cotai Central has cemented a shift away from the main peninsula, say analysts.

Lawrence Ho, chief executive of Melco, a $13 billion company, said the outlook for Macau in 2012 remains solid.

"With the potential for a significant increase in penetration, a supportive infrastructure development pipeline, as well as the economic growth and increasing prosperity of our major feeder market, we believe the future of Macau is well supported."

But investors in gaming stocks may need more convincing if May gambling revenues indicate a lower number than expected.

"Based on the first 20 days of May, we believe revenue is trending at 9-12 percent year-on-year growth, below our prior estimate of 15-19 percent year-on-year growth and our current 18 percent year-on-year 2012 estimate," said Cameron McKnight, an analyst at U.S. brokerage Wells Fargo.

 

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Australia: Gambler fails to recover millions

A Gold Coast businessman who turned over almost $1.5 billion in 14 months at Melbourne's Crown Casino has lost his bid to recover more than $20 million he lost there.

Property developer Harry Kakavas spent $1.479 billion on 30 separate visits to Crown between June 2005 and August 2006, winning and losing vast sums, but ultimately accruing losses of $20.5 million, a Melbourne court has heard.

Mr Kakavas claimed Crown knew he suffered from pathological gambling and lured him back to the casino with the use of a private jet and cash and entertainment gifts.

But on Monday the Court of Appeal upheld an earlier Supreme Court decision that the casino did not take advantage of his gambling habits.

Appeal judge Justice Bernard Bongiorno said Mr Kakavas alleged his pathological gambling condition impaired his ability to make rational decisions about the amount of money he gambled.

Mr Kakavas would gamble six-figure sums on hands of baccarat, which take a matter of seconds to play.

But Justice Bongiorno said the fact Mr Kakavas was able to negotiate favourable terms for himself at Crown demonstrated his ability to make decisions in his best interest.

'When gambling at Crown he had negotiated the terms on which he gambled and had threatened to and in fact had withheld his custom from Crown when he did not get what he wanted,' Justice Bongiorno said.

'These are not the characteristics of someone unable to conserve his own interests.'

Justice Bongiorno found the allowances Crown offered to Mr Kakavas were not out of step with those typically offered to high-rolling gamblers.

He also rejected a claim by Mr Kakavas that he had lost $30 million in one losing streak at Crown in 2006.

He said on one occasion in March 2006 Mr Kakavas returned home to the Gold Coast with $14 million in winnings.

'That he lost overall is not in any way surprising,' he said.

'The longer a person plays, the more certain it is that he will ultimately lose. Were it otherwise casinos would fail.'

Mr Kakavas was ordered to pay Crown's legal costs.

http://www.crownmelbourne.com.au/

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