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Sri Lankan Government to impose heavy taxes on casinos

Sri Lanka is to increase taxes on casinos and gambling centres targeting additional revenue from new casinos that are to be set up in exclusive zones in Colombo and other major towns to lure high-end tourism to the country, official sources said.

According to the sources, two Singaporean parties, Malaysia's Genting Casino Group, US-based FEE Group which entered Sri Lanka in 2009 with a partnership with Ceylon Continental Hotel and India's Delta casino firm have expressed interest in opening high class casinos in the island.

The Inland Revenue Department has collected over Rs. 1.5 billion in tax revenue from casinos in six years up to 2011, a senior official of the department said. The tax revenue earned by the government from 810 casinos, betting and gambling centres has been Rs 196.4 million in 2006, Rs 282 million in 2007, Rs 268 million in 2008, Rs 270 million in 2009 and Rs 295 million in 2010, and Rs.297 million in 2011.

The government is planning to swell its coffers, by imposing additional taxes on betting and gaming which is expected to become a money spinner with the country's plan of embarking on an ambitious tourist promotion programme targeting US$2 billion in tourism revenue with the expected 2.5 million tourists by 2016.

Sri Lanka opened its own first casinos in 1977, and bookies existed even before that. Today there are 10 casinos in Colombo and 800 gambling centres around the country. The casinos had functioned under the provisions of the Gaming and Betting Act of 1988 and thereafter the Casino and Gambling Act of 2010 which came into force with effect from January 2012.

The new law that legalises casino gaming and betting on sports and horse racing and allows the establishment of special zones for gaming will make all unlicensed gaming and betting illegal after this year.

Thailand - NO DICE: Phuket casino inspections come up empty

PHUKET: With most of Phuket out in force to welcome Songkran with a watery battle over the past few days, the new Superintendant of Anti-human Trafficking Division (AHTD) Region 5 instead took to the streets for a very different reason – to hunt down illegal casinos.

PARITTA 'MAI' WANGKIAT
Chief Reporter
            083 240 5837
reporter3@thephuketnews.com     
Saturday 14 April 2012, 11:02PM

 


PHOTO: Superintendant of Anti-human Trafficking Division (AHTD) Region 5, Pol Col Sitthichai Lelasawad, led officers to inspect the Tiger bar on Saturday afternoon.


Pol Col Sitthichai Lelasawad made the trip from the nation’s capital in response to recent allegations from outspoken Bangkok politician Chuwit Kamolvisit that casinos were operating on the island with impunity, and in some cases with direct police involvement.

Mr Chuwit himself was due to visit Phuket on Thurday to reveal the sites of the alleged illegal casinos, but postponed the trip at the last minute following Wednesday’s tsunami scare.

The AHTD – a special police division dedicated to the suppression and investigation of human trafficking crime, labour exploitation, and social order – became involved after Mr Chuwit also claimed that prostitution rings and pornographic shows had been operating inside the casinos.

The newly opened Tiger bar complex, and Tiger Discotheque, both on Soi Bangla, and Bangkok Residence Hotel in Patong were all targets of inspections by the AHTD over the last two days (April 13-14).

Film and photographs were taken by the officers as evidence, which they will now pass on to the Royal Thai police.

But what that evidence will show is that casinos were not in operation at those venues, Col Sitthichai said.

He noted the air conditioning and lighting on the upper floors of the Tiger bar complex – one of the locations alleged by Mr Chuwit as housing a casino – had still not been completed, making it unlikely that the venue was being used for anything other than the beer bars on the lower level.

Incomplete facilities illustrate unused space, he said.

The inspection of Tiger Discotheque and Bangkok Residence Hotel also found nothing that might indicate casinos were in operation.

In addition, Col Sitthichai and his officers had visited about 50 Phuket bars and nightclubs in Phuket Town and Patong since they had arrived in Phuket two days ago. No casinos were detected.

However, Pol Col Sitthichai said he would continue to send teams of officers at random to continue the investigation, as he said Phuket has a reputation for being a hub of after dark entertainment.

“We will continue to investigate these allegations,” Col Sitthichai said.

Officers from Kathu police station conducted similar inspections late last month, and also found no evidence to suggest that any of the venues were being used as casinos.

On March 31, Mr Chuwit told Bangkok-based media that he had video footage of Phuket casinos in operation, including clips of a senior police officer entering the premises.

However, as yet no one else has seen the footage. Mr Chuwit said he would only reveal it if the Commander of Police Region 8 pledged to punish all officers involved by transferring them to the troubled southern provinces along the border with Malaysia.

An assistant managing director of the Tiger Group, Sema Sinchai, has insisted that there were no such casinos in the businesses run by Tiger Group, and that the allegations were baseless.

“We would like to see the evidence Mr Chuwit claims he has,” Mr Sema said. 

Leaving Las Vegas...next stop Macau

High rollers head for Chinese enclave as American recession takes huge toll on 'original' gambling mecca.

In the go-go 1990s, Las Vegas was hyped as America's fastest growing city, a magnet for those who wished to share spiralling profits from construction and hospitality.

Story by Peter Huck  The New Zealand Herald

 

Above:  The multi billion dollar Sands Cotai strip which opened last week 

The gambling mecca was on a roll and the sky was the limit, an optimism made explicit by the $1 million in cash behind acrylic glass that greeted punters who ventured into Binion's, home to the World Series of Poker.

No longer. Rocked by the nation's worst housing foreclosure rate, high unemployment and plummeting custom, Las Vegas is reeling from the deepest economic downturn - ironically provoked by unregulated financial gambling and a housing bubble - since the 1940s, when casinos came to the desert.

"Ordinarily, Las Vegas was the last to go into a recession and the first to come out," Mayor Oscar Goodman told the New York Times in 2010.

"This one is different."

The uber-bullish Goodman was confident things would improve, and by last year gaming revenues had made a modest recovery, but seismic change is shifting the focus from glitzy Las Vegas.

In the past decade or so, gambling has gone global. internet gambling has changed the equation, even as casinos proliferate on American Indian reservations and emerge around the world, from South Africa to New Zealand.

The biggest high roller is China, with Macau, a former Portuguese colony, rapidly emerging as the world's gambling hotspot. And while Nevadans like to say that whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, gaming entrepreneurs Steve Wynn, MGM Resorts International and especially Sheldon Adelson, have supersized the Las Vegas model - glitzy casino resorts - to exploit China's gambling mania.

The Americans hope to tap into a motherlode of Asian cash - Adelson has casinos in Macau and Singapore and is eyeing Japan, Korea and Vietnam - a win-win strategy with a major downside: avoiding entanglement with organised crime groups, such as Macau's triads, that can bring unwelcome scrutiny from US officials.

Macau's rise has been meteoric. The Centre for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada Las Vegas says Macau is "the undisputed leader in gaming revenue". Last year, China said revenue was US$33.5 billion ($41 billion), a 42 per cent increase from 2010, or 5.5 times that of the Las Vegas Strip.

Investment Group CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets forecast that by 2015 Macau will dominate world gambling, with US$65 billion in revenue. This is expected to reach US$108 billion by 2020. American gaming moguls began to move in about a decade ago.

Spectacular growth followed. Macau is Vegas on steroids.

It also echoes mafia-era Las Vegas, when mobsters laundered money through casinos.

State regulators and Wall Street investment revamped Las Vegas as a resort destination in the 1990s.

Today, 40 per cent of revenue is from gaming, compared with 94 per cent in Macau, the rest from tourism and conventions. For decades, Macau was dominated by casino boss Stanley Ho, and the industry was triad infested. Can Americans remake Macau as a resort destination?

The man to watch is Adelson, 78, an outspoken figure who sometimes seems a throwback to old-school Las Vegas. He hit media radar in January after donating US$16.5 million to a Super PAC that backed presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. This seems a bagatelle for a man Forbes lists as the world's 14th richest figure.

Adelson's Macau plans include a gargantuan replica of the Las Vegas Strip on the Cotai Strip, a landfill his company constructed using three million cubic metres of sand, that joins Coloane and Taipa islands.

Besides the Sands Macao and the Venetian Macao (Macau's alternative spelling), Adelson plans the US$5 billion Sands Cotai Central with multiple casinos and 5800 hotel rooms.

"They aren't simply knockoffs of the originals on the Strip but, by many measures, have surpassed the genuine article in terms of size, amenities and luxury," reported Vegas Inc. "The Venetian Macao is the biggest casino in the world," says CGR head David Scwhartz. "They have about 800 tables. That's as much as 10 casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, minus the slots. These people like to gamble." In 2010, US$600 billion was wagered, quintuple the Las Vegas total.

American authorities suspect the real figure is far higher.

Last year the Congressional-Executive Commission on China said "gambling is tied to widespread corruption, organised crime, money laundering and movement of cash from mainland Chinese governments and state-owned companies into Macau".

It sounds like Vegas in its mobbed-up heyday. Triads have infiltrated the "junket" system that issues credit to mainland Chinese gamblers, legally limited to about US$3000 a trip, and collects debts.

Known as the "Macau Laundry Service", junkets are perfect for hiding money. The Washington Post says 57 per cent of high rollers are officials or state-owned business managers whose average loss is US$3.3 million, often public money.

The US believes such scams fund crime. This spells trouble for US-listed companies such as Adelson's Las Vegas Sands. Nevada law specifically forbids casino operators from mixing with criminals.

But how do you recover debts and milk Macau - 51 per cent of Adelson's sales - without triad entanglement?

US investigators want to know if the Sands Macao bribed local officials, alleged by Adelson's former man in Macau, and violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

"When the smoke clears, I am absolutely - not 100 per cent but 1000 per cent - positive that there won't be any fire below it," Adelson said, refuting corruption allegations.

Sometimes it's easier to dump US interests and head to Macau. In 2010, MGM Resorts quit Atlantic City, the second-biggest US gambling market, after state regulators demanded the US company sever ties with its Macau partner, Pansy Ho.

According to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, Ho is under the influence of, and dependent on, her father Stanley Ho. He denies US claims triads "operate and thrive" inside his 16 (out of 33 in Macau) casinos.

As Macau plans the sort of audacious construction projects, albeit on a vaster scale, pioneered in Vegas big spenders such as Sheldon may have gotten in deeper than they thought, in a high octane economy where corruption remains China's Achilles heel.

By Peter Huck
Be part of the news. Send pics, video and tips to nzherald.

 

 

 

Genting may offer us$ 4.7 billion for Australian Casino operator Echo Entertainment

(Australia).- Casino operator Genting Singapore has plenty of chips to play after raising over $1.8 billion since February. That’s led to speculation an up to 4.5 billion Australian dollars (US$4.7 billion) bid for ASX-listed Echo Entertainment may be in the cards.

As reprted by the WSJ Deal Journal Australia

Echo, which owns the just revamped The Star casino in Sydney, is widely viewed as a sitting duck since its was spun out of Tabcorp last year. It has a reasonably open share register, with Australian gaming and media tycoon James Packer its biggest holder with a 10% stake.

Although Packer’s investment in February sparked a sharp rally in Echo’s shares, Macquarie analyst Gary Pinge reckons Genting Singapore, a subsidiary of Malaysia’s Genting Bhd, could still afford to pay a decent premium for the company, which also owns Jupiters on Australia’s Gold Coast and casinos in Brisbane and Townsville.

“Our analysis suggests that Genting Singapore could comfortably pay A$6.00-A$6.50 a share, a 35-50% premium to Echo’s current share price, and see the acquisition as earnings per share-accretive,” Mr. Pinge says. At the upper end, this would value Echo at A$4.47 billion.

Mr. Packer’s Crown Ltd. has indicated it’s seeking regulatory approval to increase its stake in Echo to 20%. However, Mr. Pinge says a full acquisition would be EPS-dilutive for Crown in the near-term and stretch its balance sheet. Mr. Packer is separately trying to convince lawmakers to allow another Sydney casino development and a go-ahead would tie up large amounts of his capital.

Macquarie’s analysis comes after Genting Singapore’s chief financial officer said Monday it plans to invest proceeds from bond issues to expand its gaming and hospitality business through fresh projects and acquisitions, and is exploring opportunities in Asia.

The company announced a bond issue worth up to 700 million Singaporean dollars (US$557 million) this week after raising S$1.8 billion from a bond issue in February. Both fundraisings happened despite the company having a healthy balance sheet.

Macquarie says an acquisition of Echo would make strategic sense as its casinos are in Australian cities where the Genting Group has attempted to win licenses previously.

It would also help Genting Singapore build a regional footprint with access to gateway city Sydney, which hasn’t effectively penetrated the Asian VIP gaming market.

Crown, owner of the Crown casino in Melbourne, accounts for about 80% of Australia’s VIP market. By acquiring Echo, Genting Singapore could cross-sell Echo’s properties to its existing VIP customer base, especially given The Star has just completed an A$870 million refurbishment.

Like the WSJ Deal Journal on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @WSJAustralia.

USA- Gulfport: Ex–Island View worker says camera taped her undressing

GULFPORT -- A circuit judge refused Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a former Island View Casino Resort employee who claims a hidden video camera recorded her and other employees as they changed clothes in a Players Club office for special events.

By ANITA LEE Sun Herald 

The former employee, Kelle Ryan, also claims she was wrongfully fired after she discovered the hidden camera.
Judge John Gargiulo denied Island View’s motion to dismiss Ryan’s claims of invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful termination. However, after hearing arguments from both sides, he did throw out allegations the casino failed to follow Mississippi Gaming Commission regulations, negligently hired and retained employees responsible for the surveillance camera, interfered with her employment prospects and defamed her.
Ryan seeks damages to compensate her for invasion of her privacy, emotional distress and lost wages. She also is asking for punitive damages.
The casino’s attorney, Kimberly Rosetti, argued Ryan has no case because the surveillance camera was installed July 30, 2008, and discovered by Ryan about two weeks later on Aug. 8.
“There is no footage of her changing clothes during that time period and she testified that she didn’t change clothes during that time period,” Rosetti argued. “There’s no evidence that she was viewed changing clothes in that office.”
Camera not in security plan
Ryan’s attorney, David Harris, said Security Director Bryan Roach installed the camera without including it in the casino’s written security plan or informing his boss, the company CEO.
Roach has said he installed the camera July 30 at the request of the human resources director.
The two men claim the camera was installed because of suspected drug activity. Rosetti said they did not know anyone was changing clothes in the office.
‘She freaks out’
Ryan, who was working as a Players Club representative, discovered the camera when she examined a smoke detector in the room. It didn’t appear to be working, Harris said, so she took off the cover. A camera was underneath.
“She freaks out, for lack of a better word,” Harris told the judge. “She starts to cry, she starts to shake.” She sat down to compose herself, he said, then headed for the human resources office.
Security intercepted her, interrogated her, then escorted her off the property, Harris said. She was then fired.
Rosetti said Ryan was fired because she tampered with and damaged casino property.
When Ryan tried to collect unemployment, both sides agree, the casino objected. Harris said she did not receive unemployment because the casino reported to the state she was fired for misconduct. No evidence showed the casino wrongly distributed information about her termination.

Asian casinos: Genting bets on new markets

GENTING group is eyeing casino opportunities in the highly regulated Japan or South Korea after building up a war chest of more than RM13bil to fund its expansion programme.

Genting Bhd has cash and cash equivalent of RM13.2bil as at Dec 31, 2011 (FY11) with RM11.9bil in bank balances and deposits while the balance of RM1.3bil in money market instruments. It is also able to generate more than RM500mil in free cash flow every year.

The group already has a sizeable stash of money to finance its expansion plans but clearly it is not resting on its laurels, for it has just announced plans for second issue of perpetual securities in Singapore to raise more funds.

By LEONG HUNG YEE
hungyee@thestar.com.my

the star online 

Genting Singapore Plc, 52% owned by Genting Bhd, plans to sell S$500mil (US$397mil) in perpetual subordinated capital securities, a hybrid of bonds and equities, to mostly retail investors.

Just last month, Genting Singapore raised S$1.8bil from perpetual securities that was sold mainly to institutional and private-banking investors.

Genting Singapore chief financial officer Lee Shi Ruh says the proceeds from the perpetual subordinated capital securities issue would be used by Genting Singapore for the company's “expansion and ventures into new acquisitions or greenfield projects”.

“Should the opportunities arise, Japan and Korea are the options we can look at. The funds raised will put us in a strong position for potential overseas investments,” she says in an email reply to StarBizWeek.

When asked on the price of the S$1.8bil perpetuals solds to institutional investors that has been edging down, Lee says as with other types of securities, the price of the perpetual securities would fluctuate in short-term as interest rates move and market conditions change.

“However, investors of the perpetual securities tend to be long-term holders who value the stability of the interest income over the long-term”.

Analysts are not surprised that Genting was looking to put its money in Japan or South Korea as the gaming company had indicated its plans to grow its core business overseas despite a setback from its venture in Miami in January. Genting group has indicated its appetite for future casino development amounting to some S$5bil in the immediate to medium term.

“Japan is mulling over liberalising the casino industry for a while but regulatory risk with regards to casino licencing will continue to hinder Genting's plan to penetrate into the country,” an analyst, says, adding that Genting would be more cautious in its approach after the setback of its Miami venture when the state legislature pulled a vote to liberalise gambling activities in Florida.

He believes Genting group would be able to hold its own and bid for casino projects if it materialised in Japan or South Korea due to its track record in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Some analysts, however, remain cautious on Genting's venture into east Asia due to the regulatory issues in Japan and South Korea.

“Yes, we are cautious but we are also optimistic with Genting's expansion plan into Japan and South Korea. Its a huge market to tap,” an analystsays.

A local bank-backed analyst says several markets including Japan had been looking to liberalise their gaming industry but timing remained uncertain. He says Genting was not the only gaming operator interested in the Japan market, Las Vegas Sands Corp had also expressed its interest to expand there.

He says proper legislation and the right-sized market were among the factors considered by casino operators. Casino operators will only be attracted to invest if the markets offered an open access to locals and foreigners, excellent location and easy accessibility, and attractive tax rates, he adds.

Genting Singapore's Lee reportedly says the potential liberalisation of Japan and South Korea's gaming industries could be similar to Singapore's decision, which legalised casinos in 2005. The two integrated casino resorts in Singapore have helped boost its tourism industry.

Currently, a group of lawmakers in Japan are pushing for a bill that could legalise casinos in the country. In South Korea, only one of its casinos is open to citizens and it is located in a rural area far from major cities. It has been reported earlier that South Korea was planning for a new casino-resort near Incheon International Airport to attract Chinese and other Asian tourists.

Genting, which was founded in 1965, has been on an expansion mode. It has more than 26 years of experience in operating casinos and integrated resorts in the United States, Asia, Australia and the United Kingdom. The group is the largest casino operator in the United Kingdom, with over 40 venues. Genting entered the UK casino market in 1976.

Indeed, Genting's financial results has shown a lot of improvement after growing its business overseas.

Genting Bhd's net profit for financial year 2011 rose 30.1% to RM2.86bil from RM2.2bil a year earlier on the back of a 28.7% increase in revenue to RM19.55bil.

“We believe that including land cost, an integrated resort-cum-casino project in Japan could cost more than US$8bil,” AmResearch Sdn Bhd analyst Gan Huey Ling says in a recent report.

She adds that Marina Bay Sands cost an estimated US$5.5bil to develop, while Resorts World Sentosa would cost about US$5.8bil after the Western Zone is completed.

As at end-financial year 2011, Genting Singapore has a gross borrowings of S$3.2bil and cash of S$3.4bil. The group's operating cashflow was S$1.4bil in 2011 while free cash flows were S$118.3mil.

A local analyst believes that the additional debt burden of S$500mil was highly manageable as Resorts World at Sentosa (RWS) itself generates an operating cash flow of more than S$1bil annually.

The analyst is not surprised by the second issuance as the Genting group had previously indicated its appetite for future casino development amounting to some S$5bil in the immediate to medium term.

Citi Investment Research says the newly issued perpetual securities would be accounted for as equity, same as the S$1.8bil issuance that was done in mid-March.

“The annual distribution to the new perpetual security holders is estimated to further reduce profit attributable to common shareholders by about S$36mil (assuming the S$200mil green shoe option is exercised). More importantly, we believe that Genting Singapore cannot pay common shareholders any dividends before they satisfy the distributions payable to the perpetual holders,” it says.

CIMB Research reckons that this second round of issuance, coming hot on the heels of the recent S$1.8bil offering in February, was to satisfy retail demand (the S$1,000 denomination was considerably less than the first offering's S$250,000).

“The purpose of the fund-raising remains the same to gear up for Genting Singapore's business expansion, among others.

“Higher interest costs from the additional S$500mil issuance will lower our financial year ending Dec 31, 2012 (FY12) to financial year 2014 earnings by an estimated 1% to 2%.

“Including this S$500mil, Genting Singapore will have S$2.3bil of fresh funds for opportunistic ventures and acquisitions.”

It says the management of Genting Singapore had indicated, during its fourth quarter 2011 results conference call, that equity commitments to future ventures could be anything from S$500mil to S$400mil.

A third of debt-equity funding would put the size of investment opportunities at S$7bil, says CIMB Research.

Apart from investing in east Asia, analysts say the extra cash in Genting's war chest would be good for the group as it could take advantage of suppressed asset valuations amid current economic jittery in the United States and Europe.

Some analysts are also speculating that Genting may be looking to invest in its second integrated gaming and resort complex in Vietnam.

With a cash pile of more than RM13bil and a fund of S$1.8bil raised earlier, Genting group will continue to be under the watchful eyes of investors as to where the group is going to put its money.

Nevada regulators: Keep casino pool parties classy

Nevada regulators are warning casinos to keep a tight rein on pool party mischief that's reflecting badly on the state.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board notified licensees this week that it was still fielding complaints about criminal activity and questionable fee collection practices at pool parties and night clubs.

The board's letter commends casinos for building "world class entertainment venues," but warns that they could face disciplinary action if they aren't proactive in preventing crime or shady business practices.

Board members are rallying casino owners to protect Nevada's "positive reputation" as a tourist destination.

The board has issued similar notices in 2006 and 2009, but says it needed to renew the call since some venues have changed ownership.

USA - Florida: Casinos on the 2014 ballot? Political committee lays the groundwork

   

      Casinos on the 2014 ballot? Political committee lays the groundwork

     After failing to persuade the Florida Legislature to pass a bill to open South Florida to mega resort        casinos, gambling interests have taken the first steps to bring the issue directly to voters in 2014.

A political committee under the name of “New Jobs and Revenues for Florida” was created April 10 with the purpose of promoting a “statewide constitutional initiative re gaming.” The committee chairman is Tallahassee lawyer and lobbyist John French and its treasurer is political committee consultant and accountant Nancy Watkins of Tampa. Download New Jobs and Revenues for Florida Committee

The only group so far that has expressed an interest in conducting a petition drive to bypass lawmakers and go directly to voters is the Genting Group, the Malaysian-based conglomerate that has kept a low profile since a House committee knocked its chances off the legislative agenda in mid-session.

Spokesmen for Genting said they were not aware of the initiative and the company’s top officials could not be reached for comment but the company has been the only entity to suggest a desire to bring the issue to voters.
The petition process requires that the organization get petitions signed by eight percent of the voters in the last presidential election to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot. The proposal must then be approved by 60 percent of the voters.

That’s a heavy lift, especially since statewide polls showed that while support was high for the casino measure in South Florida, there was less than 60 percent support in every other region of the state. Meanwhile, voters have blocked attempts to authorize casino gambling three other times when casino initiatives were on the ballot in 1978, 1986 and in 1994.

The pari-mutuel industry won approval to bring slot machines to eight race tracks, dog tracks and jai alai frontons only after telling voters the new gambling venues would be limited to Miami Dade and Broward.

No Casinos, the anti-gambling group backed by Disney and Miami auto magnate Norman Braman, is ready to oppose the initiative campaign, said John Sowinski, director of the group.

“Our sense is that legislators weren’t fooled by the slick sales pitch and Florida voters won’t be fooled by it either,’’ he said. “If Genting, or whoever this committee is, filed an amendment to expanding gambling in Florida, we will put together a committee to oppose it and our sense is it will be a similar outcome.”

Genting has spent more than $500,000 on real estate, including purchase of The Miami Herald building, in its quest to build a $3.8 billion bay front resort. Absent the casino approval, it said last month that it will move forward with a dramatically scaled down mixed-use plan for its Resorts World Miami.

Posted by Mary Ellen Klas at 6:30 PM on Friday, Apr. 13 in Florida Gambling Debate | Permalink

Miami Herald
 

New class-action suit filed against Full Tilt Poker directors

As reported by Steve Green VEGASINC.COM   contact Steve by clicking HERE

 

Two Full Tilt Poker directors were hit with another class-action lawsuit Thursday by online poker players upset because they can’t withdraw funds from the company.

Attorneys for four lead class-action plaintiffs filed suit in federal court in Las Vegas against Full Tilt directors Howard Lederer and Chris ''Jesus'' Ferguson, alleging conversion.

The lawsuit complains that before and after ''Black Friday'' — nearly one year ago on April 15, 2011 — Lederer and Ferguson ''exercised unlawful dominion and control'' over players’ funds in Full Tilt accounts.

It was Black Friday when federal prosecutors unveiled a crackdown and criminal fraud charges against online poker sites Full Tilt, PokerStars and Absolute Poker.

Later in 2011, the government claimed Full Tilt ''was not a legitimate poker company, but a global Ponzi scheme.''

Thursday’s lawsuit in Las Vegas focused on the Ponzi scheme allegation, charging U.S. players have been wrongfully denied access to some $150 million in their Full Tilt accounts in part because of the actions of Lederer and Ferguson.

The lawsuit claims Lederer received some $42 million in distributions and ''profit sharing'' payments, some of which was loaned from Full Tilt and may or may not be outstanding; while Ferguson similarly received $85 million, some of which may have been in the form of loans.

''Additionally, defendants approved distributions and loans to the other owners of Full Tilt Poker from funds directly traceable to the player accounts,'' the lawsuit says. ''The distributions and loans to Lederer, Ferguson and the other Full Tilt Poker owners were from intermingled funds containing monies from the player accounts.''

The suit seeks a court order requiring the defendants to refund players their money and punitive damages.


Leila Navidi

Phil Ivey plays during the World Series of Poker H.O.R.S.E. event at the Rio.

The lead plaintiffs in Thursday’s suit are poker players Steve Segal of New York, Nick Hammer and Robin Hougdahl of Minnesota and Todd Terry of New Jersey.

The same four players last year filed a class-action suit against Lederer, Ferguson and other Full Tilt officials and corporate entities in New York alleging racketeering because of an alleged pattern of bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering; but in January a federal judge found that court lacked jurisdiction over the individual Full Tilt defendants.

In trying to establish jurisdiction for the new Nevada lawsuit, the players’ attorneys cited ''diversity jurisdiction'' in which all parties are residents of different states; and ''personal jurisdiction'' and ''venue'' because Lederer lives in Nevada, Ferguson has ''conducted substantial business'' within Nevada and ''because many of the wrongs and acts complained of herein were contemplated and executed by defendants in this district.''

The Full Tilt defendants have not yet answered the new Las Vegas lawsuit, but they’ve denied similar allegations in other suits including one filed in October in Los Angeles by different poker players.

The Los Angeles lawsuit names not just Lederer and Ferguson, but also Full Tilt CEO Raymond Biter and celebrity players including Phil Ivey.

Besides the New York and Las Vegas cases involving Segal and his three co-plaintiffs, and the Los Angles case; there are three other federal civil suits pending against Full Tilt and its officials involving different plaintiffs in New York.

One of those plaintiffs is the United States, which in an amended complaint in September unveiled the Ponzi scheme allegations against the company. The government claims that as of March 31, 2011, Full Tilt Poker owed about $390 million to players around the world, including about $150 million to U.S. players, but had only about $60 million in its bank accounts.

Thursday’s Las Vegas lawsuit was filed by attorneys at the firm Shook & Stone Chtd. In Las Vegas and the firm Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP in New York.

Boston mayor touts proposed casino, names panel

By BOB SALSBERG
Associated Press
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 5:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 5:12 p.m.
BOSTON - Boston Mayor Thomas Menino touted the benefits of a proposed resort casino at Suffolk Downs on Thursday as he named a five-member advisory panel to help the city plan for development of a gambling hall at the 77-year-old horse racing track.

Likening it to throwing out the first pitch of the season at Fenway Park or firing the starting gun of the Boston Marathon, Menino said the appointment of the Host Community Advisory Committee was the first official step toward bringing a casino to the city's East Boston neighborhood.

Menino said that it presented a rare and historic economic development opportunity and that the advisory panel would help ensure it was done right.

"Our focus remains on our neighborhoods and our continued commitment to make Boston a beautiful place to live, work and raise your family," the mayor said.

Brian Leary, a former WCVB-TV news anchor and reporter who is now a partner in the law firm of McCarter and English, was named chairman of the panel.

The committee was formed a day after the operators of Suffolk Downs formally asked the cities of Boston and Revere to begin host community negotiations for a casino. The track straddles the two cities. A host agreement would specify what a developer would offer a city to address traffic, public safety and other possible impacts of a casino.

The state's new casino law allows up to three resort-style casinos, including one in eastern Massachusetts. Under the law, firms seeking to develop a casino must negotiate a host community agreement and win the support of residents in a referendum before they can formally apply for a license from the state Gaming Commission.

Suffolk Downs' potential competitors for the eastern license include Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn, who has proposed a casino on land owned by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft in Foxborough. A firm has also expressed interest in developing a casino off Interstate 495 in Milford.

The Boston site would be the more desirable, Menino said, because of its close proximity to Logan International Airport and major convention centers and its status as Massachusetts' most populous city.

"We're not reinventing, to use a bad pun, the roulette wheel," Leary said. "It's been done before. There are other urban centers that have successfully rolled out casinos and have extracted good deals on behalf of the city."

Joining Leary on the advisory committee are Sara Barnat, an East Boston resident and executive of a real estate development firm; Lisa Calise, the city's former director of administration and finance; David Fubini, an executive of management consulting firm McKinsey & Company; and Ronald Walker II, president of Next Street, a Boston-based merchant bank.

The Rev. Richard McGowan, a Boston College professor with expertise on the economics of gaming, would separately provide guidance to the city, the mayor said.

The committee's tasks include advising the city on potential impacts of a casino and gathering input at community meetings, Menino said. The panel won't consider any casino sites in Boston other than Suffolk Downs because no other proposals had been offered, Menino said.

The mayor also said he wouldn't push for a citywide referendum on the proposed Suffolk Downs facility, an option available under the casino law, and would seek to have any vote limited to residents of the East Boston neighborhood.

"My position has always been neighborhood vote," Menino said. "It affects mostly the people of East Boston, and the people of East Boston should have a say in it."

The entire city would benefit from tax revenues generated by the casino, he added.

Follow all the latest CASINO GAMBLING IN MASSACHUSETTS at the Boston Globe

Slot maker IGT seeks stake in future of online gaming via Facebook

Las Vegas Sun

Saturday, April 7, 2012 | 2 a.m.


BLOOMBERG NEWS
Facebook is being seen as a way to introduce casino games to a younger crowd via social gaming.

Related stories
The clear and present danger to Nevada’s economy (3-4-2012)
Slot machine maker IGT purchases online gaming company (1-12-2012)

Las Vegas casinos might not be the only ones betting on the legalization of online gaming, according to an article on The Wall Street Journal’s All Things D website. Social networking giant Facebook might also be playing a big hand.

In the article, Facebook is compared to a casino in terms of real estate and customers, the report says.

Facebook takes a 30 percent cut of the money that game developers make from games they’ve created for the social networking site, the report says.

Slot machine manufacturers like Nevada-based International Game Technology are trying their luck in the world of social networking by creating games for a virtual casino, a free application on Facebook, the report says.

Right now the Wire Act of 1961 outlaws bets on sporting events, but depending on the state not all events and contests are prohibited, according to the report.

To read the entire Wall Street Journal's All Things D story, click here.

NFL allowing limited casino ads

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL will allow teams to accept advertisements for casinos and other state-licensed gambling-related establishments during the next two seasons.
Those ads can appear only in game programs, on local radio broadcasts and in the upper bowl and inner concourses of stadiums.
The league told the 32 clubs on Thursday that the change in policy will allow such advertising on a limited basis from casinos in their markets. After the subject was discussed at last month's owners meetings, the league reviewed how other sports handle casino advertising, did fan research, analyzed likely impact of recent gambling-related legislative developments and surveyed all 32 franchises.
"We remain steadfast in our opposition to the proliferation of gambling on NFL games," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. "There is a distinction between accepting advertising in a limited fashion and gambling on the outcome of our games."
No employees of the NFL and its teams, including players and coaches, can endorse or appear in any advertisements for any form of gambling.
Previously, teams have been permitted to accept advertising for horse and dog racing tracks, for municipal lotteries and off-track betting organizations, provided they offer no betting schemes based on actual sporting events; to enter into sponsorship agreements with municipal lotteries, provided the lottery offers no games based on actual sporting events; and to accept advertising for the city of Las Vegas, provided such advertisements contain no references to or depictions of gambling or casinos.
Under Thursday's change, any entity being advertised can't have a sports book or accept or promote gambling of actual sporting events other than horse or dog racing. In the case of facilities with multiple locations, some of which include a sports book or otherwise accept or promote gambling on actual sporting events, the advertisements "must clearly and prominently advertise the locations that do not have a sports book and do not otherwise accept or promote gambling on actual sporting events. No reference to any of the locations that do have them is permitted.
All advertisements must include a responsible gambling message. The advertisers must agree to contribute funds to the league's gambling education and other related programs.
No naming rights or programming sponsorships can be sold to casinos or gambling-related entities.

Columbus casino to hire more than 600 dealers

COLUMBUS, Ohio — One of the state's voter-approved casinos in Columbus says it's prepared to hire more than 600 full- and part-time dealers.
The general manager of Hollywood Casino Columbus said Friday the casino was recruiting people to support over 100 table games, including 30 poker tables. Ameet Patel said the facility will identify qualified candidates and begin conducting interviews later this month.
Applicants must be at least age 21, have a high school diploma or equivalent and pass a background check. Dealer school begins in early June.
Penn National Gaming, Inc. is developing the $400 million Hollywood Casino Columbus on the city's west side. It will feature 3,000 slot machines and several restaurants. It's expected to open this fall.
Voters in 2009 also approved casinos in Cleveland, Toledo, Cincinnati and Columbus.

 

Here's the link folks:  http://www.hollywoodcasinocolumbus.com/Careers 

UK casino news - Milton Keynes casino operator announced

 

The operator of the new £10m casino in Milton Keynes has been announced.

Gaming operator Aspers will run a casino in the Xscape complex. Chairman Damian Aspinall said it would be a "fantastic new addition" to the area.

The application beat rival bids from the Leisure Plaza near the railway station and Stadium MK in Bletchley.

PY Gerbeau, chief executive of X-Leisure said he was "thrilled" by the announcement: "We're very much looking forward to welcoming the new casino."

The 36,500 sq ft casino will include gaming tables, electronic slot machines, a restaurant and a sports bar.

Mr Aspinall said the licensing committee had recognised its bid delivered "the best operator in the best location within the best development".

The original plan for the complex, including a hotel and shops, was presented by X-Leisure, owners of Xscape, in 2009.

A reduced application to convert the ground floor was made in October 2011 but deferred for further consultation.

Sands' Adelson plans $35 billion casino-resort in Spain

(Reuters) - U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson said on Wednesday he plans to spend $35 billion (22 billion pounds) on a mini-Las Vegas strip in Spain where he is courting the country's two top urban areas, Barcelona and Madrid, with plans for a casino complex.

Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS.N), was speaking at a press conference ahead of the opening of his new casino property in the former Portuguese colony of Macau, the world's largest casino destination, where he is expected to increase market share considerably over the next 12 months.

"We are looking at 12 integrated resorts, 3,000 rooms each. A mini Las Vegas, about half the size of the Las Vegas strip in Spain for the European market," said Adelson, clad in a dark suit and sporting a matching red diamond-chequered tie and handkerchief.

Each building would cost between $2.5 (1.57 pounds) and $3 billion (1 billion pounds) and the company would target customers from Western and Eastern Europe in addition to the former Soviet bloc.

Adelson did not address the debt crisis that has gripped Europe, although he has said that the complex in Spain would be a five to 10-year project, by which time he expected demand to have picked up significantly.

Las Vegas Sands said in February that it was studying an investment of as much as 15 billion euros ($20 billion) over 10 years in a casino complex in Spain that would include 36,000 hotel beds, 18,000 slot machines and three golf courses.

BANKING ON ASIA

On his Asian expansion plans, Adelson said he would continue to develop integrated resorts in the region after the success of his properties in Macau and Singapore, where his casino is among the most profitable in the world.

"We are looking to build two each in Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Taiwan is late in catching up. There is pending legislation in the other three countries," said Adelson, one of the world's richest men worth an estimated $25 billion (15 billion pounds), according to Forbes.

Under its $31 billion (19 billion pounds) Macau unit, Sands China Ltd (1928.HK), the group already has two casinos open in the special administrative region of China just one hour by ferry from Hong Kong.

The new Sands Cotai Central, erected opposite Adelson's Italian-themed Venetian, will cost $5 billion (3 billion pounds) upon completion, slightly cheaper than the company's $6 billion (3 billion pounds) Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore, he said.

"The total cost up till now is $4.4 billion (2.7 billion pounds), but who is counting?" Adelson said, laughing.

The final price tag would be roughly twice the cost of local player Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd's (0027.HK) Galaxy Macau, which opened last year.

The project will add 5,800 hotel rooms to Macau's supply constrained market, as well as 300,000 square feet of gambling space and 1.2 million square feet of shopping, entertainment, dining and convention facilities.

Estimated to increase Macau's total hotel capacity by 26 percent, the property will house the Conrad, Sheraton and Holiday Inn hotel brands. Conrad and Holiday Inn will open immediately, while the Sheraton will open in the second half.

CHALLENGES ALONG THE WAY

The opening of Sands Cotai Central comes after lengthy delays in construction which began in 2008 when the financial crisis hit and the company laid off hundreds of workers.

Adelson, 78, said on Wednesday the delay was not just due to financing, but also a shortage of labour and issues over the number of gaming tables.

As the only operator to open a new casino resort in Macau this year, analysts say Sands China is likely to increase its approximately 16 percent share of Macau's gaming market to 25 percent within the next year.

"We are submitting plans for another 3,600-room property next to Four Seasons. We hope to move some dirt around...put in pilage before the end of this year," Adelson said, referring to Parcel 3, a plot of land already allocated to the group.

It would take between 24 and 44 months to build.

His application for land sites 7 and 8, where he had planned to build more gaming properties on Macau's Cotai strip, was rejected by the Macau government in 2010 after the firm already invested around $160 million (100 million pounds) on the site. He said on Wednesday that he was in talks with the government about potential modifications the company would have to go through.

It has been far from a smooth journey in Macau for Adelson, who was born into a Jewish immigrant family in Boston and started work by selling newspapers on street corners.

He is embroiled in a number of lawsuits, including one with Steve Jacobs, the former fired head of Sands' Macau operations. Jacobs is suing for breach of contract and now working with the U.S. government on corruption investigations involving Sands China.

Shares in Sands China were down 3 percent on Wednesday, lagging a 1.2 percent drop in the main Hong Kong index .HSI.

Macau, the only place where Chinese nationals are legally allowed to gamble in casinos, said gambling revenue surged 24.4 percent in March to 25 billion patacas ($3.1 billion), in line with forecasts.

(Reporting By Farah Master; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Matt Driskill)

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