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Best Gambling Guide for online gambling reviews, best gambling bonuses, gambling games, and gambling tips. Best gambling payouts and best gambling bonuses are featured in this gambling guide.

 

Gambling News by Gambling Headquarters

Friday, March 31, 2006

Vegas Visitors' Spending Shows 15 Percent Rise

 

If the love of money is truly the root of all evil, go ahead and slide Las Vegas a few steps closer to hell.

Thanks to some lavish spending by last year's out-of-town guests, there's a helluva lot more money for locals to love.

The statistics on dollars spent are contained in the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority's 2005 visitor profile, a nearly 90-page document chronicling everything from guests' average trip length to whether they visited a local nightclub.

The report, released Wednesday, suggests that last year's visitors didn't hold back when patronizing area hotels, casinos, restaurants, shows and shopping centers.

Eighty-six percent of the city's 38.6 million visitors said they gambled while in town. Their average casino budget was $626.50 per trip, up 15 percent.

Alan Feldman, an MGM Mirage senior vice president, was not surprised by the findings given the state's recently released record gaming win of $11.6 billion, up 10.3 percent.

Feldman added the convention authority's findings are particularly important because they indicate across-the-board spending increases.

"The community has focused on nongaming attractions for the better part of the last decade, and rightfully so," Feldman said. "This just shows that that effort has brought (Las Vegas) a better gaming customer as well."

Food and drink expenditures averaged $248.40 per trip, up 4 percent from the prior year and 19 percent from 2003.

Tom Bachner, general manager of The Capital Grille at Fashion Show, said restaurant and bar tabs were up in part because restaurants must pass on suppliers' approximately 20 percent price increases for meat, dairy and produce.

In addition, Bachner said he thinks Las Vegas has attracted an older, more sophisticated traveler. That claim was supported by his restaurant's wine sales increase of up to 18 percent.

"Las Vegas is really on people's radar these days," Bachner said. "I've seen a big number of upper-middle class people in their 40s, 50s and 60s who are coming here for the first time."

Authority data show 21 percent of visitors were between 40 and 49, while 20 percent were between 50 and 59. Twenty-seven percent were at least 60 years old.

Overall, visitors' average age decreased from 49 to 47.7 years thanks to a 4 percentage point gain among 30- to 39-year-olds. That group last year accounted for 20 percent of the citywide total.

Twenty-four percent of visitors reported household incomes between $60,000 to $79,999. Twenty-two percent earned more than $100,000 per year, well above that category's prior 13 percent count.

Though too few cared what all the fuzz was about surrounding Wynn Las Vegas' new Broadway transplant "Avenue Q", last year's visitors still spent $2 more on entertainment, averaging $49.43 per trip.

Shopping reported a nearly 10 percent boost to an average of $136.60 per trip.

Other notable findings included:

* Downtown Las Vegas took a huge hit last year. Only 46 percent of travelers said they visited the Fremont Street region, well below the prior year's 57 percent.

Transferring those percentages into actual visitors indicates nearly 3.6 million fewer people went downtown from 2004 to 2005.

* Vacations were the top draw for 61 percent of all guests, while 12 percent cited meetings or conventions.

* Forty-seven percent of travelers arrived by plane, the same percentage as 2004.

* Travel agents continued to play a lesser role in people's plan-making. Only 17 percent said they used such a service, down from 20 percent the prior year and 22 percent in 2003.

Many people have migrated to the Internet when planning a Las Vegas getaway: data showed 40 percent of guests went online before making a trip last year, up from 32 percent two years before.

Demographic data show last year's local visitors were largely married (74 percent), white (83 percent) and employed (67 percent).

Forty-four percent were college graduates, 24 percent retirees. Southern California remained the city's top guest supplier at 29 percent, up from 27 percent a year ago. Arizona held steady at 6 percent.

The percentage of foreign visitors slipped slightly to 12 percent, down 1 point from the prior year.

The U.S. Commerce Department won't release year-end data on specific cities' foreign visitation until this summer. But that data will likely show Las Vegas hosted more foreign travelers in 2005 than 2004 because the city's foreign and domestic visitor counts each expanded last year.

The annual study was prepared by GLS Research, a San Francisco-based polling firm regularly hired by the authority. Its workers conducted approximately 300 in-person interviews each month last year, primarily inside or near Las Vegas hotel-casinos and motels.

Responses were confined to non-Clark County residents ages 21 and up. To ensure people experienced the city before reviewing it, only visitors who planned to leave the city within 24 hours could complete the questionnaire.

The margin of error for the 3,600 respondent sample is plus or minus 1.6 percent at the 95 percent level, which means if the survey were repeated exactly as it was originally conducted, responses would be within 1.6 percent of the original results 95 percent of the time.

CasinoRoom.com Joins PokerAffiliate.com

 

CasinoRoom.com has now been incorporated into the world's leading online gaming affiliate program – PokerAffiliate.com. Affiliate partners can now recruit players to not only the leading poker sites PokerRoom.com, HoldemPoker.com, EuroPoker.com and eCardroom.com but also to the brand-new casino site, CasinoRoom.com.

As a special offer all affiliates with PokerAffiliate.com will earn 45% revenue share from casino games for the first two months, until the end of May. During this time, players who sign up through affiliates will receive an amazing 100% up to $100 first deposit bonus.

The site offers a virtual casino experience with all the fun of traditional casino games including Roulette, Craps, Black Jack, Carribean Pirate Poker, Baccarat, etc. Players who already hold an account at the world's third largest poker site, PokerRoom.com, can now use the same player account to enjoy the games on CasinoRoom.com. Since the two sites are fully integrated, a single account can be used for poker and casino games. And this brings with it the opportunity for affiliates to increase their revenues as well as to attract new players.

Players at CasinoRoom.com are also offered free access to a range of revolutionary mobile games including Mobile Black Jack, Mobile Casino, and Mobile Fruit Slots. All of these games are available to play with real money meaning even more revenue streams for affiliates.

PokerAffiliate.com offers bi-weekly payments, and there is no need for affiliates to worry about whether their players win or lose in the casino games. When payments are made, affiliates who have a negative balance will have their account set to zero, independent of poker earnings.

As the online gaming industry continues to flourish, affiliates can reap the rewards by promoting PokerRoom.com and CasinoRoom.com and in doing so earn revenues from the same players over two sites. PokerAffiliate.com offers the chance to share in the earnings in one of the most lucrative industries in the world.

The success of online gaming shows no signs of abating, and with PokerAffiliate.com partners from the one program can reach the entire gaming audience, maximizing profits through promoting the leading sites in the industry.

Fortune Lounge Launches New Promotion

 

Fortune Lounge has done it again. Just as you thought it couldn't get better after the revolutionary Free Spins and Free Time promotions, Fortune Lounge has unleashed yet another innovative deal: "Free Play Worth $200".

Resembling the 100 Free Spins mechanics, whereby players enjoy free spins up to 100 spins, players can now enjoy free play up to $200. Effectively, players will be given a competition account and credited with $200 worth of casino credits. From there, it's up to the player to wager and win.

For the discerning player, this means more exclusive, non-stop action from Platinum Play, with over 155 games supplied by Microgaming. Once the player has wagered his $200 requirement, the amount above the initial balance will be transferred to the player as a comp. This means the player gets to pocket his or her wins – a generous offer.

Casino du Liban Board Approves Accounts

 

As reported by the INA Daily News: "The new board of directors of Casino du Liban approved Tuesday the accounts of the casino over the past seven years which showed an increase in gross revenues from $80 million in 1998 to $130 million in 2005. Announcing the figures at a news conference, casino chairman Elie Ghoraieb attributed the impressive results to a series of measures he adopted since being named president in 1999.

"He also talked about the heavy political pressure on him and his administration since he took office but emphasized that he had never bowed to pressure and intimidation.

"But Ghoraieb criticized the Finance Ministry for 'unjustifiably slamming 30 percent in tax on the gross revenues of slot and poker machines although the contract clearly stipulates that the government collects LL1,000 a year from each slot machine.'

"The chairman, heaped praise on President Emile Lahoud for supporting his work and vehemently denied allegations that the casino was tucking away some of its revenues for nefarious purposes.

"…According to a 30 year contract with the casino, 30 percent of gross revenues go to the Finance Ministry. But the casino administration stressed that the 30 percent only applies to roulette tables, back jack and other table games.

"The Finance Ministry and the Central Bank control 48 percent of Intra Investment Company and the remainder is divided among Gulf and Lebanese shareholders…"

Politicians Oppose Arkansas Casino Proposal

 

As reported by the Arkansas News Bureau: "Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Rep. John Boozman, R-Rogers, said Wednesday they oppose a proposal to build an American Indian tribal casino on the downtown riverfront in Fort Smith.

"Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., said she was undecided on the idea.

"The effort by the United Keetoowah Band would hurt the state's poor and flies against a 2000 referendum in which Arkansans voted against allowing casino gambling in the state, the lawmakers said.

"…The Tahlequah, Okla.-based tribe, one of three federally recognized Cherokee tribes, on Tuesday filed a trust application with the Oklahoma branch of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to develop the 10-acre site into a 250-room hotel and casino.

"In their application, tribal officials are setting out to show that the Arkansas land lies within the historic treaty boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.

"…If approved, the application would allow the tribe to use a provision in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that lets tribes operate gambling facilities on land held in trust.

"A bill that was approved by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Wednesday would limit the ability of tribes to open casinos off their reservations.

"But it would allow landless tribes like the Keetoowahs to establish casinos under certain circumstances where they could show they have historical ties to the property…"

Abramoff, Kidan Sentenced to 70 Months

 

As reported by the Florida Sun Sentinel: "Disgraced super lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former business partner Adam Kidan were sentenced Wednesday to 70 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $21.7 million in restitution to the bank they defrauded.

"But as expected, Miami federal court judge Paul Huck stayed the sentences for 90 days so Abramoff and Kidan can continue working with authorities in a potentially widespread bribery and influence peddling investigation on Capitol Hill. Huck has the discretion to lower their prison time once their cooperation is evaluated.

"…Kidan, 41, added that he's accepted full responsibility for his role in the wire fraud scheme, an apparent shot at Abramoff, who recently filed a court motion that not only asked for leniency but also blamed Kidan for much of the bank fraud scheme to purchase the Dania Beach-based SunCruz Casinos gambling ships.

"…In addition to potential prison time, Assistant United States Attorney Lawrence D. LaVecchio said that the men owe $21,701,015.45 to Foothill Capital Corp., the financing firm in the $147.5 million sale of the Dania Beach-based SunCruz Casinos. It proved an ill-fated deal, ending with possible prison terms for Kidan and Abramoff, who raised more than $100,000 for President Bush's re-election campaign. Six months after the sale, the floating casinos' founder, South Florida entrepreneur Konstantinos 'Gus' Boulis, was murdered.

"The bank fraud case revolved around a stipulation in Foothill Capital's $60 million loan that Abramoff and Kidan pay Boulis $23 million of their own money at the closing. But when they couldn't come up with the down payment, Abramoff and Kidan came up with a plan to have Boulis sign promissory notes and then the three of them faked a wire transfer showing the $23 million had been paid…"

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Experts: Massachusetts Slots a Good Bet

 

As reported by the Lowell Sun: "If Massachusetts legislators legalize slot machines, experts say, it's not a question of whether an Indian tribe will seek to open a casino. It's a matter of when.

"A nod to Class III gaming, as slots are classified, is the first of several required steps outlined in the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which gives a federally recognized American Indian tribe the right to open a casino.

"And with one recognized tribe already in Massachusetts -- and possibly more in the pipeline -- approving slots is essentially a green light for casinos.

"…But with another slots vote scheduled in the House for April 5 -- and with many gambling supporters claiming to have the majority this time -- the possibility of an Indian tribe pursuing a casino could be more real than ever. Last October, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill that would grant licenses for up to 8,000 slot machines in the state.

"Rep. Charlie Murphy, D-Burlington, who opposes legalizing slots, said most lawmakers realize a vote in favor on April 5 opens the door to casinos…"

Rockaway Beach Moves Towards Casino

 

As reported by the Branson Daily News: "On Monday, the city of Rockaway Beach took a step toward building a 'mixed-use facility that would include a casino,' while preserving the resources the city already has on the lakefront.

"The Board of Aldermen approved a resolution to send letters to developers with the intent to entice them to build a facility that would include a casino in the city of just under 700 people.

"Mayor Tom Strom estimated that 86 percent of the city's population still wanted to pursue the building of a riverboat casino. He also said he felt that developers would still be interested in coming to the area.

"In 2004, Rockaway Beach attempted to convince state voters to change the Missouri constitution to allow a riverboat casino on Lake Taneycomo in Rockaway Beach. Currently, the state only allows casinos along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers…"

Reno Problem Gambling Center Cites High Demand

 

As reported by the Associated Press: "Officials at a new problem gambling center in Reno said demand for treatment is high and there's already a waiting list of people seeking help.

"The center that officially began taking patients earlier this month said its intensive outpatient program is filled. Operators hope to raise $250,000 to offer another daily session.

"Based on a nonprofit Las Vegas gambling addiction treatment center, the Problem Gambling Center in Reno has been operating since November, but didn't advertise services until March.

"After the intensive six-week treatment, which requires four group meetings a week, patients get one year of weekly 'aftercare.'..."

Object 9 Recognized for Casino Rouge Project

 

ReBrand 100, an international awards competition established to recognize the world's 100 most effective rebranding campaigns, recently presented Object 9 with a Merit award for identity work the firm produced for Casino Rouge. Rebrand 100 acknowledges organizations and their branding partners that have successfully repositioned, revitalized and/or redesigned some or all of an existing brand's characteristics in order to drive strategic objectives.

Entries are evaluated on a before-and-after basis and assessed on the resulting impact on strategic organizational goals and target markets. "We always go the extra mile to achieve that critical blend of design and business strategy essential to achieving market objectives," said Jon Cato, Object 9 CEO and partner. Object 9's creative team rejuvenated Casino Rouge's corporate brand and graphic identity, including the design and execution of a new corporate Web site, direct mail, booth displays, merchandising booklets and promotion collateral. The full list of winners is located at www.rebrand100.com.

"Casino Rouge tapped Object 9 to help us overcome growing threats from larger, destination-style casinos. We needed an upscale presence that reflected a bigger and better casino that also incorporated our signature red color," stated Mike Odom, strategic marketing director for Casino Rouge. "Redesign efforts contributed to an increase in awareness, market share and response to promotions. Additionally, we were successful in moving more players into our top tier database."

Foxwoods CEO Retires

 

As reported by the Norwich Bulletin: "William Sherlock, president and chief executive officer of Foxwoods Resort Casino for the last six years, has announced he will retire at the end of the year.

"Under Sherlock's tenure, Foxwoods has added more than $300 million in value through expansions and upgrades. The casino also broke ground in November on a $700 million expansion.

"Sherlock started at Foxwoods in 1997 at chief operating officer and was promoted to his current position in 2000…"

Underdogs Dominate PicksPal.com's Bracket

 

College basketball fans have been getting their brackets busted at an alarming rate – and Las Vegas has been cleaning up. That's because an astounding 68.3% of the underdogs have covered the points spread according to PicksPal.com, the free online sports picking contest that lets fans pick the game with point spreads, over/under and hundreds of other fun props.

Here's a look at the tournament results to date:

- Round 1: 22 underdogs in 32 games covered. 68.75%

- Round 2: 10 of 16 underdogs covered. 62.50%

- Round 3: 5 of 8 underdogs covered. 62.50%

- Elite 8: All 4 underdogs won and covered: 100%

- Total: 41 underdogs in 60 games have covered. 68.3%

Since PicksPal.com members did not need to pick all of the games before the tournament started, they have adjusted their picks and gone with the underdogs. They were not surprised this past weekend as a large percentage of PicksPal.com members picked the underdogs (with the points) in three of the four Elite 8 games: LSU (67%); UCLA (59%); George Mason (55%).

"In any sport, if anything is trending more than 55 % in any direction it is a true anomaly and Las Vegas is the beneficiary," said Tony Karpinski, Director of Odds for PicksPal.com. "Many of our game players noticed this trend early and have been riding the wave of underdogs to tremendous success in the PicksPal.com Hoops 1001 bracket game."

At PicksPal.com, fans don't just pick the winners: they can accumulate additional points by picking against the point spread , over/under, and thousands of fun props and exotic picks. Members can select from up to a dozen prop picks for each game. The Hoops 1001 Contest also features live in-game picks that add an interactive element never experienced in the history of tournament brackets , as well as special picks for the second half based on first-half action.

Rather than attempting to pick every winning team from the beginning of the tournament, PicksPal.com gives players 5,000 points at the start of each round. Fans can also join the Hoops 1001 Contest after they are eliminated from their traditional bracket game. The member with the most points at the end of each round wins an iPod, while the overall champion is awarded a 42-inch flat panel HDTV.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Germans Online Betting Increases

 

As reported by the Heise: "In 2005, Germans spent around 3.3 billion euros gambling and betting online, 35 percent more than the previous year. Their neighbors in Austria spent 1.3 billion euros, while the Swiss only spent 0.3 billion euros according to a study conducted by consulting firm Goldmedia on the market potential of lotteries, casino games, and betting on the Internet in the "DACH" region (Deutschland, Austria, Canton Helvetia).

"Per capita, Austrians spent 177 euros last year gambling online, more than four times as much as Germans did (40 euros) and almost five times as much as the Swiss (36 euros).

"…According to Goldmedia's analysis, the limited offer of legal gambling in Germany and Switzerland has led to an extremely large share of foreign providers on the online markets there…"

California Compact Faces Senators' Questions

 

As reported by the One Bakersfield: "For the first time since the G.O. Committee took on the role of vetting tribal gaming compacts negotiated by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor's lead negotiator on this issue, attorney Daniel Kolkey, will appear to answer senators' questions about the deal, including whether or not the proposal is in keeping with the governor's own proclamation on off-reservation gaming.

"The Big Lagoon band had been locked in a legal battle with the state for six years over not being allowed to build a casino on their ancestral land, which was considered too environmentally sensitive. Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians Schwarzenegger struck a deal wherein Big Lagoon would build its casino in Barstow alongside a casino proposed by the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians, whose ancestral land is also more than a hundred miles from the proposed casino resort site. Opponents call the tactic of seeking federal recognition for non-ancestral lands to use for gaming 'reservation shopping.'…"

BingoTek Announces First UK Bingo License

 

BingoTek (www.bingotek.com) has consolidated its position as the leading provider of online bingo after securing its first licensing deal in the UK with RAL Interactive Limited, operators of Cyberslotz Bingo (www.cyberslotz.co.uk).

The UK bingo game utilises advanced technology to provide a game specifically designed to replicate the atmosphere of the traditional bingo club experience. Realistic graphics and UK-specific chat sounds give the game an authentic UK bingo hall quality. UK bingo uses 90 numbers and has rules uniquely different to the 75 number US version where cards are sold as 'tickets' and 'books' are sold to a series of games known as a 'session'.

Brian Morgan, Managing Director of RAL Interactive, said: "We are constantly looking at new gaming options to offer our loyal customers and the addition of bingo complements our existing portfolio of games perfectly. BingoTek was the natural choice of partner to team up with, given their track record of success, enthusiasm for product innovation and flexibility in customising their system to suit our requirements."

One of the BingoTek founders and chief consultants Graeme Levin, former founder and operator of the successful gaming portal Gambling.com commented: "We are very excited about this new deal and are confident players will have a most enjoyable experience more in line with what they would experience in a real UK bingo hall."

BingoTek's first licensee, Bingodrome, has proved extremely successful. The popular site has consolidated its position as the best bingo game online by picking up one of the online bingo industry's most prestigious awards, the 'Best Bingo Overall' award from BingoAwards.com for January and February 2006.

"We are delighted at this superb recognition because it is online gamers who have made the voting decision – not industry insiders. We are confident that the bingo site operated by Cyberslotz will be every bit as popular", Graeme said.

About BingoTek

BingoTek is a privately owned holding company located in the British Virginia Isles. The ultimate Bingo software offers unique solutions that cater for all online Bingo requirements.

About Cyberslotz

Cyberslotz.co.uk is the leading online games website in the UK, allowing its members to play a variety of games from as little as 1p a game. Cyberslotz hosts a selection of unique online fruit machines, bingo and scratch card style games, as well as cutting edge casino classics. Since its launch 4 years ago, Cyberslotz has signed up 1,000s of loyal customers and has paid out over £100 million in cash prizes. Cyberslotz.co.uk is owned and operated by Talarius plc. Under the QuickSilver brand, Talarius operates adult gaming centres and is the market leader in this sector in the UK.

Tribal Casino Lawsuit Hearing Begins

 

As reported by the New Mexican: "The question of whether patrons of tribal casinos can file personal-injury lawsuits in state courts was argued Monday in the New Mexico Supreme Court.

"Attorneys for plaintiffs injured at Santa Clara Pueblo's Big Rock Casino Bowl and at San Felipe Pueblo's Casino Hollywood argued that a provision in gambling compacts between the tribes and the state allows such lawsuits in state courts.

"The provision in the 2001 compacts states that personal injury claims 'may be brought in state district court, including claims arising on tribal land, unless it is finally determined by a state or federal court that (the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act) does not permit the shifting of jurisdiction over visitors' personal injury suits to state court.'

"'This is a sophistic attempt to get past the language that was negotiated,' attorney Paul Kennedy said. Kennedy represents Ivan and Lucy Lopez, who sued San Felipe Pueblo after both of them fell at the pueblo's Casino Hollywood.

"However, a lawyer for the pueblos said while the pueblos waived their immunity from litigation as sovereign entities when they negotiated the compact , they did not give up their jurisdiction over personal-injury lawsuits.

"…Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Bosson wondered whether pueblos reneged on their gambling compacts with the state.."

Skagit Valley Casino Plans Hotel

 

As reported by the Puget Sound Business Journal: "Skagit Valley Casino Resort said it will open a new luxury hotel near its existing 103-room hotel and casino in late July.

"…The new hotel -- The Skagit Ridge Hotel -- will have 4,000 square feet of meeting space.

"'The addition of The Skagit Ridge Hotel expands our range of premium accommodations, which enables us to meet the growing demand by individuals and groups,' said Don Guglielmino, corporate general manager for The Skagit, in a statement."

Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Vacancy Filled

 

As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Senate Democrats moved quickly yesterday to fill a vacancy on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, a powerful new agency that will license 14 slot machine casinos in the state.

"Lackawanna College President Ray Angeli, 62, was named to fill the seat on the seven-member board that opened when former member William Conaboy, a Scranton lawyer and businessman, resigned Friday.

"Mr. Angeli will retain his job as college president while taking the $145,000-a-year job as a gaming regulator, said Tess Candori, spokeswoman for Senate Democratic Leader Robert Mellow of Scranton.

"…Under Act 71 of 2004, Gov. Ed Rendell chooses three of the seven gaming board members, and the General Assembly's four top leaders each name one member…"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Unitab, Tatterall Plan to Merge

 

As reported by the Australia ABC News: "Australia could have a new gambling entity with the announcement of a planned merger between two major companies.

"Queensland's Unitab and Victoria's Tatterall's companies are planning to merge to create a company with operations in every state and territory.

"Unitab chief executive Dick Mc Ilwain says the two companies complement each other and will generate expected revenue of more than $3 billion.

"…Gaming analyst at CCZ Securities Tony Waters says the proposed merger would mean Unitab will not be making a future bid against Tattersall's for Victorian gambling licences…"

Aristocrat Names New Director

 

Aristocrat Technologies, Inc. today announced that 27-year gaming industry veteran Tommy Florio has been named Director, Multi-Station Gaming to lead the Company's emerging multi-station gaming device business in North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Florio will develop and execute strategic sales plans and initiatives for Aristocrat's new multi-station gaming business, focusing initially on Aristocrat's portfolio of Interblock multi-station gaming devices. Aristocrat obtained rights to distribute this line exclusively in North America after acquiring a 50 percent interest in Electroncek, a Slovenia-based manufacturer of electro-mechanical multi-station gaming products marketed under the brand name Interblock. The Interblock portfolio includes Roulette, Dice, Sic Bo, Baccarat, and Bingo/Keno multi-station games. He will also focus on opportunities to place PokerTek's interactive, electronic PokerPro(TM) poker table game into casinos in the Caribbean and Latin America. Aristocrat recently acquired an equity interest in the Charlotte, N.C.-based company.

For the past three years, Florio has served as Aristocrat's Sales Director -- Eastern Region. He and his team have significantly grown Aristocrat's market share in casinos throughout eastern Canada, the eastern United States, and the Caribbean.

"The appointment of an executive of Tommy's caliber reflects Aristocrat's commitment to broaden our product range from slot machines and casino management systems into multi-station table games, offering gaming operators a broader range of gaming solutions," said Gavin Isaacs, President of Aristocrat Technologies, Inc. "Tommy's years of gaming industry experience and strong customer relationships throughout the Americas will be key as we launch this exciting new line of business."

Before joining Aristocrat, Florio served three years as Vice President of Sales for TCS of America, a gaming equipment supply company. Prior to that, he served four years as Director of Sales with Shuffle Master, Inc., a supplier of automatic card shufflers and proprietary table games. Previously, he held various management roles in gaming operations throughout North America including the Argosy's Bell of Sioux City, Trump Maria, the Golden Nugget Atlantic City, Showboat Atlantic City, Golden Eagle Canada, and the Winnavegas Casino.

Macao Trio Rank Among World 13 "Hottest Casinos"

 

As reported by Xinhua: "Three of Macao's 19 casinos are ranked among 13 'hottest casinos' by the famed business magazine Forbes, local media reported Monday.

"The Forbes list ranked the Hotel Lisboa, the Mandarin Oriental and the Sands Macao as the No. 6, No. 7 and No. 9 respectively.

"The magazine dubbed the Hotel Lisboa 'a fixture on the Macao skyline,' with its 1,000 hotel rooms and 18 restaurants.

"The Mandarin Oriental was described as 'a smaller, posher' alternative to the "gargantuan" Hotel Lisboa, according to the Forbes.

"The Sands Macao, the first gaming facility in the region being operated by a western enterprise, was hailed by the Forbes for its themed gaming room, a large number of gaming tables and the effective running..."

Virgin Mary Firewood Added to GoldenPalace.com Collection

 

Just seconds away from being cast into the fire of a wood-burning stove, a chunk of firewood bearing the image of the Virgin Mary was saved only to be sold on eBay to online casino GoldenPalace.com for $99.

The seller of the item, coincidentally named Faith, never considered herself a religious person, but was astonished when she found the image of the Virgin Mary complete with halo staring back at her.

"I was about to chuck this into the wood stove when the image in the center caught my eye," said Faith. "This is an image of the Madonna! I could not burn it. It's even got a halo of lighter colored wood around her head! Nothing short of miraculous!"

The holy image will be right at home amongst the casino's ever-growing collection of religious, paranormal, and generally eccentric items bought on eBay. GoldenPalace.com plans to take these items on tour around the country this summer as part of a traveling museum displaying pop-culture Americana.

Setting the standard in marketing creativity, GoldenPalace.com has devised some of the most exciting and outrageous advertising campaigns in the past few years. Recently, items such as the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Britney Spears' Pregnancy Test, and William Shatner's Kidney Stone, have garnered extensive worldwide media attention for the casino.

PBL Wants Horseracing Channel

 

As reported by the Age.com News: "James Packer's Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd is going head to head with the country's other gaming giant, Tabcorp, for the first time, offering more than $25 million for a quarter stake in rebel horseracing broadcaster ThoroughVisioN.

"It is believed that TVN chairman Harold Mitchell, a close associate of the Packers, decided at a board meeting yesterday afternoon to put the proposal before shareholders — the racing clubs in Sydney and Victoria — later this week.

"Mr Packer's bid for a piece of TVN, which values the company at more than $100 million, signals his intent to take on Tabcorp.

"It would give PBL part ownership of the broadcast rights to Australia's most lucrative thoroughbred races, including the Melbourne Cup.

"It could also provide the group with the foundation for a bid for the Victorian wagering licence when Tabcorp's licence expires in 2012…"

Billion Pound Game: Has the UK Become a Nation of Gamblers?

 

As reported by the BBC: "This year's World Cup is going to see a 'seismic increase' in gambling ... and that's on top of betting on Big Brother and online poker. Has the UK become a nation of gamblers?

"This summer, £1bn is going to be staked in bets on the World Cup.

"That's the prediction from Professor Leighton Vaughan Williams, a government adviser on gambling and head of the Betting Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, who says gamblers in the UK are set to gamble an unprecedented amount on this year's biggest sporting event.

"This will be the latest surge in sports betting which, in just five years, has seen the amount gambled in the UK rise from about £7bn per year to £40bn, he says.

"...First of all, the nature of the betting market has changed radically.

"...Now, though it is growing, horse racing is "falling dramatically" as a share of the sports betting market and represents less than half of what's gambled. Taking its place, particularly in internet gambling, has been football.

"Another key factor has been that it is now much easier to bet - through the internet, mobile phones and interactive television.

"...So without leaving your home, you can place an online bet on a football match - predicting the score, the time of the first goal, the goalscorer or the number of corners - and then watch the match live.

"...There's also a trend for continuing to make bets during a match, says Professor Vaughan Williams, with the odds shifting as the game progresses.

"...It also reflects a major social change. When England last won the World Cup, betting shops had only recently been legalised - now gambling is a multi-billion part of the leisure industry.

"...Gambling has also entered the entertainment industry. Punters placed £10m on this year's Oscars, and there was £20m staked on the last US presidential election.

"...But expect to hear plenty more about the latest odds this summer. "There's nothing that moves that you can't bet on," says Professor Williams..."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Nine.com Names 'Gambler of the Week'

 

Nine.com's notorious Gambler of the Week award has been bestowed upon Thomas Burns. Nine.com, a property of Leisure and Gaming, has once again chosen a real gambler who has taken an unusual, heroic or foolish risk during the previous week.

"I think Thomas Burns is worthy of receiving our Gambler of the Week award. Mr. Burns made an obscene gesture at a construction worker in Pittsburgh. The construction worker reported him to the local authorities, and he was later cited for disorderly conduct. We think that this is a newsworthy situation, but we'll let the public decide what kind of 'gambler' he really is," says Maria Marmo, of Nine.com's Media Relations.

"Burns said he became frustrated with a traffic delay and made the gesture at a construction worker. If I had a citation for every time I made an obscene gesture ... well, let's just say I'd be on the news myself." Mrs. Marmo added, "Fortunately for Mr. Burns, Pennsylvania courts have ruled that the gesture doesn't automatically constitute disorderly conduct, because it is not 'obscene' as defined by the law, unless it is used in a clearly sexual context, which makes Mr. Burns a gutsy fellow for flicking the finger."

"I loved this story from the start," says Mrs. Marmo. "Getting cited for an obscene hand gesture makes you think twice. I just had to name Mr. Burns our gambler of the week for his 'gutsy gesture.' Mrs. Marmo concludes, "As this week's Gambler of the Week, Mr. Burns will receive Nine.com merchandise and gift certificates for use on Nine.com."

Atronic Launches Deal or No Deal Series

 

Atronic will feature an exciting and innovative library of 'progressive' multi-game products designed to increase player excitement and operator revenue in booth #1001 at the upcoming National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) show April 3rd - 5th at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Atronic will launch its new Deal or No Deal(TM) series based on the hit TV show. The two Deal or No Deal(TM) games both feature a thrilling bonus where players can select a suitcase and then play against the bank, just like in the popular TV show. Additionally, the games feature jackpots designed to hit frequently, guaranteeing lots of action.

Atronic's stunning new Lady Orleans(TM) series of games features four unique themes, each with a distinctive design and character. The exceptional games combine a free games feature with Atronic's new Mystery Magic(TM) progressive link.

Through an agreement with Universal Studios Consumer Products Group, Atronic's new Miami Vice slots bring the memorable television show to life in two new games, Miami Vice(TM) and True Identity(TM). One of the most visually stunning and stylized television shows of the 1980s, Miami Vice not only rocked our pre-conceived notions of just how far a police drama could go, but changed the face of television forever. The games feature the iconographic brand and unique, scatter triggered jackpots designed to hit frequently, and are being launched in Spring 2006. Additionally, Universal Pictures brings Miami Vice to the big screen in its motion picture debut scheduled for release on July 28, 2006.

The popular Cash Fever(TM) multi-level bonus link will be shown with new game themes and a new configuration designed for pennies. Atronic's successful eMillions(TM) Wide Area Progressive (WAP) will also be featured with new themes, as well as Atronic's penny WAP, Penny Parade(TM).

Additionally, Atronic will launch a library of games, many designed for the extremely popular penny denomination. The Super Play(TM) series features both paylines and scatter play modes and configurations up to 750 credits. The entertaining Super Wiener Dog(TM) and new "win two ways" game Mistress of the Egypt(TM) also feature player selectable, high bet configurations that are ideal for pennies. Other new e-motion(TM) themes to be launched at the show include the comical Tabby Cash(TM), impish Elven Gold(TM), enchanting Three Withes(TM), distinctive Green Goddess(TM), striking Mystery II, and magical Mayan Magic(TM). Atronic Systems will further present its range of solutions and the thrilling Tournamania(TM) tournament product to tribal customers at the show.

Second Singapore License Bidding to Open Soon

 

As reported by AFX: "Bidding for Singapore's second casino project on Sentosa island will open on April 28 and close on October 10, the Singapore Tourism Board said.

"The winning bidder is expected to be announced by the end of the year, the board said in a statement.

"Contenders for the Sentosa project -- expected to cost $2 billion to develop -- include Malaysia's Genting International, US gaming giant Harrah's Entertainment, Bahamas-based Kerzner International and Las Vegas Sands…"

Nevada Gold Retains Financial Advisor

 

Nevada Gold & Casinos, Inc. today announced that it has retained Libra Securities, LLC (``Libra') as its financial advisor to review potential initiatives intended to enhance long-term shareholder value.

Libra is expected to assist the Company in reviewing possible acquisitions and asset divestitures among other initiatives. The Company indicated that it was premature to estimate when the review would be completed or what potential initiatives, if any, would be undertaken.

H. Thomas Winn, Chairman and CEO of Nevada Gold & Casinos, Inc., commented, ``We believe an experienced financial advisor will benefit, as well as complement, our internal efforts to determine what the next best steps are for the Company in driving long-term shareholder value.'

Town Holds onto Casino Dream

 

As reported by the Massillon Independent: "Lordstown, in the Mahoning Valley, is best known for its General Motors Plant, just as Massillon was associated with Republic Steel.

"It's a tough little Northeastern Ohio village near Youngstown, and like Massillon has been hit hard by job losses in recent years.

"…Enter the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and the dream of a casino.

"The residents of Lordstown and its Village Council have bought into the shared dream with the Shawnee and believe it can become a reality and benefit the area.

"Lordstown Mayor Michael Chaffee said he's visited the tribe's casino out west, spoke with Chief Charles Enyart and came away impressed.

"…Lordstown passed the intergovernmental agreement 4-2, Chaffee said, and then a referendum initiated by the voters passed 1,000 to 400.

"…There still is uncertainty as to whether Ohio will get gambling, Chaffee explained, 'but it's beneficial to have an agreement in hand. We haven't invested anything if it doesn't happen.'…"

Wakefield Council Bet on Casino

 

As reported by the Wakefield Today: "Wakefield Council's cabinet committee is set to give the go-ahead to a proposal for a super casino at the Xscape complex in Glass Houghton next week.

"A report says the casino would be 5,000sq m, with 1,250 jackpot machines, bingo and betting.

"It says: "The economic benefits include an estimated 1,500 full-time equivalent jobs at the casino and up to 6,000 jobs in the local supply chain"…"

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Blackpool Casino Hit with Slot Tax

 

A future Blackpool super casino will be hit with an extra £6 million per year tax bill, it was confirmed yesterday.

"The small print of Gordon Brown's tenth budget confirmed earlier reports that operators will have to pay £5,000 annually for each of the 1,250 unlimited jackpot slot machines in the one resort casino which will be allowed under the new gambling act.

"At the other end of the scale, Blackpool's pinball and video game machines will be exempt from amusement machine license duty (AMLD) altogether.

"…Potential developers have consistently said that any large investment in the UK would rely on cutting the current 40 per cent tax on gambling to 15 or 20 per cent.

"That did not happen in this budget and by next year's budget the council which wins the golden ticket' regional casino license is expected to be inviting formal tenders from potential operators…"

Oregon Non-Tribal Casino Plan Rejected

 

As reported by the Oregonian: "The state rejected a package of ballot measures Thursday that could have allowed construction of the state's first non-Indian casino.

"The two Lake Oswego entrepreneurs backing the project, proposed for east Multnomah County, said they would rewrite the measures and try to qualify them for the November ballot. But critics said they doubt whether financial consultant Bruce Studer and attorney Matthew Rossman have enough time to get any casino measures before voters this year.

"The secretary of state rejected the measures after questioning the legality of linking the two ballot measures, one that would repeal the state's constitutional ban on casinos and another that would direct the state to site a casino at the now-closed Multnomah Greyhound Park in Wood Village.

"Acting on the advice of the attorney general, the secretary of state said it was unconstitutional to make the enactment of one ballot measure contingent on the passage of another. In early February, the state rejected an earlier version of the initiatives for the same reasons.

"Representatives of the Oregon tribes, who have been preparing to wage a multimillion-dollar fight against this new competition for the gambling dollar, cheered the news…"

Nevada Gaming Commission: Wireless OK, But Which Way?

 

Rules governing the use of wireless hand-held gaming devices in casinos, after laboring for two years of through the state's legislative and regulatory processes, were adopted Thursday by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

But what form the technology will take is still to be determined.

Conceivably, the gaming commission's unanimous approval gave casino patrons the right to place wagers on hands of blackjack or spins of a roulette wheel from poolside or while waiting in line for the buffet using a device similar to a personal digital assistant.

While technology company representatives, their legal advisers and gaming regulators applauded the end of the regulation drafting process, all agreed more work lies ahead before the first bet is placed.

"It's the beginning of something, but I'm not really sure what that something is," Gaming Commission Chairman Peter Bernhard said. "Over time, we'll see technology introduced that will become a system that is exciting for the public, while at the same time, meets our concerns as well."

Bernhard said an influx of casino patrons raised on technology might find interest in mobile gaming.

Longtime gaming attorney Bob Faiss said the approval marked the beginning of another evolution in the gaming industry.

The matter was one of almost two dozen new gaming regulations approved Thursday, but none of the other changes attracted as much interest as mobile gaming. Regulators commented that New Jersey was also beginning to consider enacting wireless gaming laws.

The hand-held gaming software will include firewalls so the devices can't be used outside of public areas, such as hotel rooms, or outside the boundaries of a particular hotel-casino. Also, safeguards will be used to ensure the devices can't be used by minors.

During the next few months, gaming and technology companies are expected to begin submitting proposed wireless gaming products to the Gaming Control Board for testing.

"We're looking forward to the next step in the process, and it's a process that will go on over a period of months," said Joe Asher, managing director of Cantor Gaming, an affiliate of New York-based financial services company Cantor Fitzgerald.

"It will be up to the Gaming Control Board to determine when they are satisfied with the technology," Asher said. "They will need to get comfortable with the technology."

Cantor Gaming made the initial approach to state lawmakers in 2003 for mobile gaming, lobbying during the session for approval of wireless and hand-held gaming laws. The company believed the technology behind the wireless hand-held devices used by bond and securities traders could be adapted for use in casinos.

"Mobile gaming is the next step of gambling technology because it allows the patron to gamble when he or she wants in the appropriate areas of the casino," Asher said. "There is an entire generation that has grown up with mobile devices. People like to do what they want on their own terms. That's what mobile gaming allows."

For a time, Cantor Gaming was the only hand-held gaming player on the scene. But in the last year, as the regulations were debated, other companies began to step forward. Shuffle Master and Progressive Gaming International Corp. are two Nevada licensees that are planning to submit wireless, hand-held gaming devices for testing.

"We were the ones who started the process, but we always expected others would join the party," Asher said. "The gaming industry is a very mature and competitive environment and we're comfortable where we stand."

Asher said Cantor Gaming has applied for a Nevada gaming license to distribute the devices to casinos. After the products have been investigated, field testing inside casinos would be the next step.

"There has been a high level of interest by the casinos that's only going to intensify after today," Asher said.

Like Cantor Gaming, Diamond I Technologies has filed paperwork for gaming licensing.

"We've got the equipment and the software and we're about 80 percent there," said company President David Loflin, who said he has agreements with some casinos that would be outfitted with the hand-held games.

Analyst Releases Odds for Pennsylvania License

 

As reported by the Mercury News: "LIMERICK -- 10-1.

"Those are the odds an area research analyst is giving Boyd Gaming Corp. of receiving a gaming license from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for its slots parlor proposal in Limerick.

"Brian McGill is a gaming analyst for Susquehanna Financial Group, an institutional research, brokerage and trading firm based in Bala Cynwyd. Earlier this month, McGill released a 13-page report discussing the chances for each of the 14 applicants vying for the five available standalone casino licenses across the state.

"With six bids for two at-large licenses, McGill's analysis puts Boyd's Limerick proposal on the outside looking in.

"The odds-on favorite is the Las Vegas Sands proposal (3-2) in Allentown, beating out Aztar Corp.'s Allentown Tropicana proposal (7-1). The favorite in the Scrantonarea is Mount Airy Lodge (3-1), beating out Pocono Manor (7-1). To contrast, Cross Roads Resort's bid in historic Gettysburg has been met with heavy resistance by several groups, thus receiving 99-1 odds.

"…The first region Susquehanna Financial Group foresees getting a license is the Allentown/Bethlehem area, which has struggled to generate economic growth, though 600,000 people live in the immediate area…"

Wyoming Tribes Pursue Casino Expansion

 

As reported by the Casper Star Tribune: "In both the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes are pursuing expanded or new gambling operations, according to Thursday testimony to the state Legislature's Select Committee on Tribal Relations.

"Melanie Gambler, chairwoman of the Northern Arapaho Gaming Agency, said she has been busy training staff to manage and run games such as blackjack. She said she expects to hear from the U.S. Department of Interior about full expansion to Las Vegas-style gambling within two weeks.

"Jim Conrad, manager of the tribe's Wind River Casino, reported that financing is nearly resolved and should be finalized within two weeks. He said the current operation has 428 electronic gaming machines and 150 employees.

"Gambler said she has met with Fremont County commissioners to discuss their traffic concerns at the current Wind River Casino site just south of Riverton. Commissioner Doug Thompson said the in-and-out traffic from the casino is high, particularly on weekend nights.

"…Edward Wadda, the state's tribal liaison for the Eastern Shoshone, reported that his tribe continues to pursue casino gambling, working with the state on a gaming compact and meeting with the state attorney general two weeks ago…"

Russian Gambling Bill Passes First Reading

 

As reported by RIA Novosti: "The lower house of parliament passed Friday the first reading of a bill on the government regulation of gambling.

"The bill went through with 300 votes in favor and 105 against with one abstention.

"The document lists gambling activities in the country authorized by the government, which include casinos, slot machines, and bookmaker offices.

"The bill also bans unlicensed gambling business, and encourages the consolidation of gambling businesses and regional quoting.

"The bill, proposed by pro-presidential party United Russia, requires establishments to have net assets of at least 600 million rubles ($22 million) and the win percentage of a slot machine to be no less than 80%…"

Friday, March 24, 2006

Montreal Casino Revamp Rejected

 

As reported by the McGill Daily: "The $1.2-billion project to revamp the Montreal Casino and move it to a working-class district was axed on Friday after a ten-month anti-casino campgain was successful in preventing the initiative.

"Community groups and residents of the Sud-Ouest borough of Montreal, where the new casino and entertainment complex was to be constructed, mobilized against the project, arguing that it would further aggravate the social problems in Pointe St. Charles, a neighbourhood that currently has one of the highest poverty rates in Canada.

"Proponents of the project had marketed the complex as a way of attracting over 6,000 new jobs and revitalizing the neighbourhood, where about half of the families live below the poverty line. However, residents argued that the casino would increase the already alarming number of problem gamblers in the area.

"…The governments of Quebec and Montreal both initially supported the plan to move the casino from its current location on Île Notre-Dame, but as popular pressure increased and the governments' own committees came out against the proposal, it became politically dangerous to support the project…"

Mega Millions Jackpot Grows to $56 Million

 

So you think nobody won Tuesday's Mega Millions drawing? Not so. Even without a jackpot winner, there were more than 500,000 winning tickets. That includes eight tickets that came within just one number of hitting the jackpot. Now the jackpot for the Friday, March 17, 2006 Mega Millions drawing grows to an estimated annuity value of $56 million.

The winning numbers in Tuesday's drawing were: 27-28-30-42-50 and the Mega Ball number was 22.

Those eight tickets that each matched the first five numbers and only missed the Mega Ball number were purchased in California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan (2), New York and Washington.

Mega Millions is played in 12 states: California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

Mega Millions drawings are held Tuesdays and Fridays at 11:00 PM Eastern Time, 10:00 PM Central Time and 8:00 PM Pacific Time.

LV Sands' $2.76 Billion Stock Offer

 

Las Vegas Sands Corp. on Tuesday announced the seventh and eighth hotels for the casino operator's Chinese Cotai Strip development, but the latest joint venture agreement was overshadowed by the company's secondary stock offering that could land Chairman Sheldon Adelson and his family more than $2.76 billion.

Before the stock market opened Tuesday, Las Vegas Sands announced it had set a $50.25 per share price for the 55 million shares of common stock being sold by several trusts that would benefit Adelson and the Adelson family.

The fixed price sent shares of the Las Vegas casino operator and developer down to reflect the announcement. By the end of the day, shares in Las Vegas Sands closed at $49.97 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange, down $1.28 or 2.50 percent.

Almost 19.6 million shares were traded, making Las Vegas Sands the seventh most active stock on the exchange.

Jeffrey Logsdon, a gaming analyst with Harris Nesbitt, maintained his neutral rating for Las Vegas Sands, saying the offering should "remove a meaningful overhang on the stock once the shares are absorbed by the market."

Logsdon added that "this should clear the way for more normalized fundamental related trading in coming weeks."

Prudential Securities gaming analyst Bill Lerner had previously thought the offering could impact the company's shares because of the amount being sold back into the open market.

"We believe this may weigh on the stock as the market is concerned about the magnitude of the secondary," Lerner said.

Upon the sale, Adelson and trusts that benefit his family still control 70.5 percent of Las Vegas Sands, which operates The Venetian.

Matthew Toole, a research manager with Thomson Financial in New York, said the transaction was the largest common stock offering ever in the gaming sector. The original initial public offering by Las Vegas Sands in December 2004 ranked second at $794 million.

Toole said it was the fifth largest all-time secondary share public stock offering across all sectors.

"It does seem to be the largest offering by an individual or family," Toole said.

Las Vegas Sands won't benefit from the stock sale and a company spokesman said Adelson and his wife planned to use the money to "continue their pursuit of philanthropic causes."

Adelson and Las Vegas Sands executives were in New York and scheduled to ring the opening bell for the New York Stock Exchange today.

Separately, Las Vegas Sands and Hilton Hotels Corp. announced an agreement to build a 1,200-room Hilton Hotel and a 300-room Conrad Hotel on the Cotai Strip, which is adjacent to the Chinese gaming enclave of Macau. The agreement is nonbinding the companies expect to sign a binding agreement by the end of the second quarter.

The hotels would be operated by Hilton while Las Vegas Sands will own and operate retail, entertainment, and casino facilities within the hotel sites.

Las Vegas Sands, which operates the Sands Macau and is spending $2 billion to open the Venetian Macau in 2007 on Cotai, has similar agreements with other hotel companies for the area of reclaimed land between the islands of Taipa and Coloane.

Four Seasons is building a hotel on the Cotai Strip; Starwood is building both Sheraton and St. Regis brand hotels; and Shangri-La is building both a Shangri-La hotel and a Traders hotel.

"The desire to be a part of the Cotai Strip by some of the most prestigious brands in the hotel business has been gratifying as they realize the significance of this important development and do not want to miss out on this opportunity," Adelson said in a statement.

Hollywood Sportsbook Offers Odds on NCAA Tournament

 

Hollywood Sportsbook features odds on the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament between the Connecticut Huskies and the Albany (NY) Great Danes on March 17th 2006.

Connecticut will open the NCAA Tournament Friday night against Albany in Philadelphia, and will enter the tournament as heavy favorites to emerge as the representative in the Final Four. UConn will present a difficult matchup for Albany, who can't match Connecticut's level of athleticism or its level of talent.

The Huskies are one of the most complete teams in the country, even the UConn reserves are capable of doing damage, the team has shooters and post players that can hurt opponents, so the Danes will have to play smart. The game is scheduled to start at 7:25 pm (ET) on Friday and Hollywood Sportsbook proudly features odds on the event.

Hollywood's Media Relations executive, Alejandro Gomez, was quoted saying – "With weapons in the low-post game and on the perimeter, No.1 UConn is one of the favorites to cut down the nets, the have talent and can beat opponents in many different ways. They will be hard to stop"

"On the other side, the Great Danes have played consistently all season and execute efficiently on offense. But, even if everything goes perfectly for Albany, they haven't played a team of Connecticut's caliber in a long time, so their chances are slim. If they slow the game down and minimize possessions, they will have the best chance to compete – added Mr. Gomez".

Hollywood sportsbook is eager to provide you with a convenient and secure environment through which you can enjoy your recreational sports betting; they are currently offering sports betting lines for the game mentioned above. It's really easy to contact them via phone or internet from anywhere in the world. You can get started by opening your account within 5 minutes of verification of your funds. Three easy steps: Register, Deposit and Play. It's that simple!

GWIN Inc. Reports Record Results

 

GWIN Inc. announced today its second quarter results, which include significant increases in operating income and net income for both the quarter and the six month reporting period. For the three months ending Jan. 31, 2006, operating income increased to $637,918, compared to $231,306 for the same period in 2005, an increase of 176%. Net income for the quarter increased to $608,617, compared to a loss of ($372,683) for the comparable period in 2005, an improvement of $981,300. Six month operating income and net income showed even larger improvements. For the six months ending Jan. 31, 2006, operating income increased to $33,928, compared to a loss of ($545,882) for the comparable period in 2005. Net income for the six months improved to $145,770, compared to a loss of ($1,214,346) for the comparable period in 2005. Revenues were also higher for both the three month and the six month periods. For the three months ending Jan. 31, 2006, revenues were $2,732,080, compared to $2,721,666 for the same period in 2005 with six month revenues improving to $4,508,839, compared with $3,883,141 for the comparable period in 2005, a 16% increase.

Wayne Allyn Root, chairman and CEO of GWIN Inc., said, "We have spent six years building GWIN and 'The WinningEDGE(TM)' into leading brand names in sports handicapping. Today's filings are a clear indication that the groundwork laid during that time is beginning to pay off. It is important to note the changes and related challenges that the Internet has brought to all media-related businesses and to our industry in particular. We have moved from a business model essentially 100% dependent on handicapping information and services, to become a more diversified sports, handicapping and entertainment company. We take pride in our ability to continue adapting to changes and exploiting opportunities. As these numbers show, we have created a business model with multiple revenue streams from handicapping sales, television production and sales of advertising and sponsorships. A prime example is the multi-year deal we structured last year with Hooters Casino Hotel Las Vegas. We are looking at this as a model to structure additional high-margin relationships with mainstream sponsors eager to reach our valuable database. Our database demographics are highly prized by advertisers -- males 21-49, high disposable income, college-educated, small business owners, professionals and/or self-employed, interested in sports, gaming and entertainment lifestyles. Over the past years we have built these databases such that we and our advertisers are now able to directly reach over a million highly desirable consumers. We believe it to be one of the most valuable assets of the company and one that we have only begun to exploit. I am proud of today's results and proud of how far we have come."

Said Douglas Miller, COO, "We are especially pleased that we have been able to achieve these higher revenues while holding the line on operating expenses. One of the very attractive aspects of our business is that we operate with substantial gross margins. In our services division, once we achieve our break-even point, as much as 50% of additional top line revenues flow through to the bottom line. The percentage can be even greater for incremental advertising revenues. Our goal over the coming months is to increasingly monetize our database and to continue to hold the line on expenses while exploring opportunities to add high-margin revenues, all to increase our bottom line."

Dover Downs Reports Expansion Plan

 

Dover Downs Gaming & Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: DDE) announced an expansion plan that will more than double the number of hotel rooms and add a luxurious 8,000-square-foot spa to the Dover Downs Hotel & Casino.

By the summer of 2007, the Company expects to have added 268 luxury rooms to the Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, bringing the total number of rooms to 500. Twelve of these rooms will be specially designed spa suites featuring either hot tubs, pool tables or fireplaces plus wet bars and plasma screen TVs.

"This expansion is the next step in our plan to make Dover Downs one of the premier gaming destinations on the East Coast," said Denis McGlynn, President and Chief Executive Officer of Dover Downs Gaming & Entertainment. "We are very excited to offer more rooms and additional amenities to our current and future customers. Given the consistently strong occupancy levels we have seen since our hotel opened in 2002, it is our belief that these improvements will attract more casino customers to Dover Downs." McGlynn added that approximately 50 new jobs are expected to be generated when the expansion comes on-line bringing total employment at Dover Downs Gaming & Entertainment to almost 1,000.

Friedmutter Group was retained as the principal architect for the project late last year and Dover Downs expects to enter into a construction management agreement with T.N. Ward Company shortly. Both companies are industry leaders in casino and hotel design and construction, having worked on facilities in both Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Construction on the $52 million project is expected to begin in April following final City of Dover Planning Commission approval. A 16-month construction period is anticipated.

Dover Downs Hotel & Casino already boasts a AAA-rated Four-Diamond hotel, an array of fine dining options, 2,500 of the most popular slot machines available, with many featuring state-of-the-art ticket-in ticket-out technology, and the Rollins Center®, an 18,000-square-foot multipurpose ballroom which routinely features headline entertainment such as Bill Cosby, Wayne Newton, Tom Jones and The Temptations as well as business conferences, conventions and banquets. For the past three years, the property has earned the title of "Best Racino" by the readers of Casino Player magazine.

The Inside Wagering Line: The Pinnacle Pulse

 

With March Madness upon us, millions will be completing tournament brackets for entertainment or profit. The first 32 games are the easiest of the batch to analyze. Knowing nothing at all about the teams, you can look at the spreads for each game at PinnacleSports.com to get an idea of the likely outcome of each game.

Occasionally you'll find a lower seed that is favored to beat a higher seed, giving you a clear advantage over others in your office pool that are not considering the spreads. For example, #7 California is a 1.5 point underdog to #10 N.C. State. Players who are unaware of the spread are more likely to select California than N.C. State because of the seeding, despite the market's confidence in N.C. State.

While we have written about the "Pinnacle Lean" in the past, using the spreads at Pinnacle Sportsbook can help you get a feel for the strength of each team in the NCAA tournament. One way to use these is to identify "vulnerable" teams – ones that are favored to win by less than 2 points or are an outright underdog. If you're competing in a pool, you generally do not want to select the winner of that game to advance past the next round.

For example, in the Atlanta region, #5 Syracuse is a 1-point favorite over #12 Texas A&M. The winner of that matchup plays the winner of #4 LSU (-6.5) vs. #13 Iona. Regardless of whether you think Syracuse or Texas A&M will win, either team has a substantial chance of being eliminated. If you pick LSU to beat Iona, it makes sense to go with LSU again against the Syracuse/A&M winner, since LSU is considered more likely to advance to the next round based on their odds to win the tournament. At the time of writing, LSU is 36/1, Syracuse is 70/1 and Texas A&M is a 200/1 long shot to win the tourney at Pinnacle Sportsbetting.

Which teams are most likely to under-perform in the first several rounds? In the Atlanta region, #7 California faces a very real chance of being eliminated in the first round. If the first round games are worth 1 point (as in many office pools), you can determine the expected value (EV) of each selection by looking at the Pinnacle Sports Betting moneyline on that game. In the N.C. State/California game, N.C. State is a -123 favorite, while California is a +113 underdog. Since Pinnacle Sports only uses a 10-cent line, the no-vig line on this game is N.C. State -118. These markets are deadly accurate and can be used to estimate the chances of each team winning.

For a favorite, the chance of it winning is (ML/ML-100). In this case, it would be (-118/-118-100) = (-118/-218) = 54.1%. If you select N.C. State, your bracket EV is 0.54 points for that selection. Cal would be worth 0.46 points. In this case, using spreads and moneylines to help you make your bracket picks added 0.08 points of EV. If you felt lucky and picked California anyway, you would certainly want to fade them in the next match-up, as each subsequent round you picked them would cost EV in your bracket.

The key to being successful in an office pool or bracket contest is to find "bargain" teams to back advancing to the Sweet 16 or further. Considered by many as a potential sleeper in this year's tournament is Kansas who is a current 6.5-point favorite in its match-up against Bradley. While no one will be surprised by a first round Kansas win, the real value of Kansas comes from its likely second round game against the winner of #5 Pittsburgh vs. #12 Kent State. The most likely match-up is Kansas-Pittsburgh and both teams finished with similar records at 25-7 and 24-7, respectively. A differentiator between the two teams is that Kansas found its form towards the end of the season, winning 9 of its last 10 regular season games. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has headed in the opposite direction, losing 5 of its last 10 games. While many people won't be surprised by a #4 seed advancing to the Sweet 16 (after all, every #4 would make it if there are no upsets), understanding this match-up helps you avoid picking the 'upset'.

Another bargain team to take a close look at is North Carolina – an 11.5-point favorite in their opener against Murray State. The victor will advance to face the winner of the Michigan State-George Mason game. One method of estimating lines for subsequent games is to compare Sagarin ratings. North Carolina's rating is a full 7 points higher than either possible opponent, suggesting they have a very good chance of making the Sweet 16. North Carolina is another prime example of a team you likely don't want to fade in the first two rounds.

Going one round further, North Carolina's most likely opponent in the third round would be Tennessee (although early action at Pinnacle Sports suggests they could struggle in their opening game against Winthrop). Even in this hypothetical match-up, the Tar Heels would be a 5-point favorite. While no game outcome is certain, successful bracket players are always looking for ways to gain small advantages. Understanding North Carolina's match-ups might help to give you the edge.

While you consider these tips for completing your NCAA tournament bracket, you may want to consider how the players been betting on the NCAA tournament to help you pick your national champion.

Xavier (+5 -106) vs. Gonzaga

This game looked like it had the potential to be a classic Sharps vs. the public battle and it hasn't disappointed. At the Pinnacle Sportsbook we opened the game at Gonzaga -3 where it was fiercely and ferociously bet up to Gonzaga -6 ½ by the public. Since then, we have seen opposition from sharp money which has steadily pushed the line on the game back down to Gonzaga -5 where it has now settled. If early indications are anything to go by, we fully anticipate this match-up to be the most heavily bet game in the entire first round.

Davidson (+9.5 -105) vs. Ohio St.

We opened the line on this game Ohio State -13 and it was quickly bet down to -11.5. Since then we have seen the number steadily fall with unopposed sharp money facing little resistance from the public as the line now sits at -9 1/2. We anticipate public money will come in on Ohio St. in single digits as post draws nearer. Thus far however, the Buckeye's game has seen the most powerful wave of one way money and suggests that professionals feel #15 Davidson has a legitimate shot against the Big Ten regular season champions.

NC State (-1.5 -103) vs. California

In what could be considered a metaphor for what a traditional March Madness game is all about, this game has flip-flopped a half dozen times already. We opened California as a 1.5 point favorite which quickly shortened to 1. Since then there has been a prolonged duel with favoritism changing amid heavy wiseguy trading on both sides. It does look however that NC State has prevailed - for the time being at least - with the line settling with the Wolfpack as a 1.5 point favorite.

NCAA Tournament Winner Odds

UConn is a heavy public favorite. The Huskies initially opened at +315 and pre-selection trading drove them down to +250 to win the tourney. After the selections were announced, UConn money dried up (possibly due to North Carolina also being in the Washington region) and the price drifted back to +294.

Kansas was also heavily traded, especially after selections were announced. We initially offered them at +3500, but post-selection action from sharps quickly drove it down to +1762.

Although Duke won the ACC tournament, players have been slow to back them. The Blue Devils opened at +350 , drifting up to +412 before the conference championships. After winning their tournament, Duke continued to move up to +491. This might be in part to a strong #2 seed in Texas being placed with Duke in the Atlanta Region.

Villanova poses an unusual challenge for bettors with the uncertainty of Allan Ray, who averaged 18.8 points per game for the Wildcats. In the Big East tournament, Ray appeared to suffer a serious eye injury although it turned out to be much less serious. Players have been reluctant to back Villanova despite Ray being cleared to play. Villanova opened at +940 and has drifted to + 915 in moderate trading.

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South Coast Hosts Horse Show

 

South Coast today raises the curtain on a whole new form of entertainment for Las Vegas: world-class horse shows.

Don Williams, a horse owner from New England, said Boyd Gaming Corp.'s new $600 million resort on Las Vegas Boulevard, south of McCarran International Airport, will change the dynamic of Las Vegas as a destination for him.

"(I've) never been here before, never wanted to. But we're horse people. They're our business and our hobby. That gives us a reason to come here, probably several times a year," he said.

The American Quarter Horse Association, the largest horse owners group in the country, will help kick off the new facility, the only equestrian arena in the country tied to a major hotel.

More than 800 horses were unloaded Monday and Tuesday for the Silver Dollar Circuit Show, which runs today through Sunday, South Coast Assistant General Manager Ryan Growney said.

Vendors have set up 40 booths in the exhibit hall to promote their wares to attendees.

Attendance is difficult to estimate because it's the resort's first show, Growney said, but South Coast has booked 3,500 rooms nights connected with the show.

On the peak night, 350 rooms were booked, although the association could have booked 500 if the second tower of the South Coast were already open, he said.

"So far, it seems to be a big hit. The show moved down from Reno last year and everybody is in love with the facility, especially the amenities from the front-door bellmen on. It gives them a chance to unwind after they get here," Growney said.

The South Coast Equestrian Complex features a 4,400-seat arena and 1,200 climate-controlled horse stalls on the parking structure's first floor. It also features a 31,250-square-foot show arena floor and with an overlooking bar.

Growney said 124 event days already are booked for the rest of the year and he hopes to have 40 weeks booked in 2007.

South Coast General Manager Mike Gaughan Jr. said the idea for the equestrian center stemmed from his father's involvement in horse competitions and his operating a working ranch in North Las Vegas.

But he said because the complex is the first equestrian center in Las Vegas and the first tied to a major hotel in the country, its opening and operation were a particular challenge and opportunity.

Tim Lanier, the original manager of the equestrian center who recently left the company, said South Coast and its equestrian center will appeal to a whole new market segment for Boyd.

"Horse enthusiasts as individuals have incredible discretionary income, like people who own yachts," Lanier said.

"An equestrian crowd is an affluent crowd. The center will do some rodeos, but a rodeo crowd is an extreme sport crowd. It appeals to the masses. ... With the equestrian center, the business will be unique in Las Vegas and the West Coast," he said.

"That made it really a genius thing to do. There are no other competitors for customers worth $1.5 million on average and an income of $175,000," Lanier said.

Advance bookings even before December were so successful that Boyd Gaming moved development of the second South Coast tower up to coincide with the first.

That was because the property was fully booked with equestrian events, leaving its convention and meeting areas underused, Lanier said.

"Las Vegas is more of a key to this than all the other factors involved. When people are showing horses, it's their hobby. They want to come to a great destination where they can have fun," Lanier said.

Thus, the equestrian center also moves Boyd Gaming away from catering to just local customers, he said.

In addition to the equestrian facilities, the center includes 80,000 square feet of exhibit space and 20,000 square feet of meeting and prefunction space.

The stalling area of the South Coast Equestrian Center is available only to participants to board their livestock during their events.

Pennsylvania Slot Block Approved

 

As reported by the Pennsylvania Evening Sun: "The House backed an effort to stop a Gettysburg-area slots parlor Tuesday night, approving an amendment to the 2004 slots law that would ban any stand-alone casinos in Adams County.

"Rep. Stephen Maitland, R-Gettysburg, sponsored the amendment that passed by a vote of 199-0.

"The amendment was attached to an omnibus package of changes to the slots law that now heads to the Senate, where the fate of the Gettysburg-area ban is uncertain.

"Maitland's effort is meant to block the Crossroads Gaming Resort and Spa, proposed at routes 30 and 15 by a group of investors led by Gettysburg businessman David LeVan.

"…The House vote is the latest round in a slots debate that has attracted national attention, and it could lay the groundwork for months of legislative maneuvering over Gettysburg-area slots…"

Panel: New York County Can't Handle Casinos

 

As reported by the Hudson Valley News: "The creation of casinos in Sullivan County could preclude their own doom, predicted Michael Edelstein, President of Orange Environment.

"Edelstein was one of three on a panel who addressed the potential impact Sullivan County casinos would have on Orange County, at a gathering in Goshen, attended by about 40, including several Orange County lawmakers and some town and village officials.

"The consensus: Orange County's existing transportation infrastructure is already approaching capacity, and the county is the fastest growing in the state, without up to five casinos moving in next door, in Sullivan, the second fastest growing county.

"Edelstein says that could pose a significant dilemma for backers of any casinos…"

NCAA Teams Up with Vegas Bookmakers

 

As reported by the Kansas City Star: "As March Madness and the inevitable gambling it inspires approaches, the NCAA is looking for help from an unlikely, if entirely logical, ally — Las Vegas casino bookmakers.

"A longtime foe of college sports wagering, the NCAA is sending an observer to Las Vegas over the next two weekends, not to spy but to work with sports gambling operators toward what the two sides see as a common goal. Both want honest games.

" 'It does seem like a strange partnership,' said Rachael Newman-Baker, NCAA director for agents, gambling and amateurism activities, 'but when it comes to protecting integrity of the games, we're fighting the same fight.'

"The NCAA's interest in keeping sports free of corruption is obvious. And without confidence that the games are on the level, bettors would turn away and hurt the casinos' profits…"

Las Vegas Condo Market Discussed

 

Nobody really knows the depth of the high-rise condominium market in Las Vegas, though nearly 1,000 have been built and sold and another 5,800 are under construction, a local economist said Tuesday.

John Restrepo, principal of Restrepo Consulting Group, predicted that 10,000 to 14,000 new units will come onto the market over the next five years, a mixture of straight condos and condo-hotels.

"It's a variety of things that come into play to see how deep we are," he said at a Nevada Contractors Association luncheon. "At one point we had 60,000 units planned. We were never as deep as we thought."

Restrepo counted 75 planned projects at 10 stories or higher with 41,000 condo units and 21 condo-hotel projects with 12,400 units. Of those, 15 condos and six condo-hotels have graded their site and put up a construction fence with a sign that "the most unique high-rise in the universe is coming any day now," he said.

Nine condo projects and three condo-hotels are "real," meaning you can see the steel going up, including One Queensridge Place at Alta Drive and Rampart Boulevard.

"We had a captive audience," said Bob Wallace, vice president of construction for Executive Home Builders, developer of the $250 million Queensridge project with Peccole Nevada Corp. "We marketed to people who live in the area -- and it's a high-end area -- some of the folks whose kids have left and they don't need a big house anymore."

Several high-rise projects have been derailed in Las Vegas for a number of reasons, including lack of financing, rising construction costs, a shortage of qualified general contractors and overaggressive marketing teams that sold units before locking in costs.

Restrepo said six projects -- Liberty, Ivana, Icon, Krystal Sands, Hard Rock and Aqua Blue -- are "dead or wounded," canceled or put on hold for whatever reason. Three "John Does" are also on the R.I.P. list, he said.

Kenneth Haeger of Summit Consulting International said contractors must follow a critical path method for scheduling construction of high-rise projects, where a planned sequence of activities depends on various steps preceding each other.

"It's pretty simplistic," he said. "One activity has to be finished before I can start the next activity. We've got to have the rebar in before we can pour the concrete."

Inevitably, as a project proceeds, things happen that delay the schedule, Haeger said.

"Change orders, late deliveries. We had a water plant where the pumps were delivered late and they sued us for liquidation damages. A status check showed the foundation for the pumps was not ready for delivery, so the pumps did not impact the delay," Haeger said.

Research shows that 80 percent to 90 percent of condo buyers in the Strip corridor are speculators, investors and second-home buyers, Restrepo said. That's different from downtown, where the blend is probably 50-50 between local residents and second-home owners, he said.

"Very few people want to live on the Strip full time," he said. "Look at Turnberry Place and Park Towers. They're always dark."

That's why condo-hotel projects such as The Residences at MGM Grand, Platinum and several projects planned along the Harmon Avenue corridor have a good chance at succeeding.

"We do know there's a huge amount of interest in Las Vegas and people want to live here," Restrepo said. "People want to live near the ocean or water some people say the Strip is our ocean. I don't know about that."

Missouri Gaming Commission Director Resigns

 

As reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "The state's top gambling regulator is stepping down.

"Kevin Mullally, executive director of the Missouri Gaming Commission for the last five years, will leave next month to become general counsel and government affairs director for Gaming Laboratories International Inc.

"…Mullally, 42, announced his resignation at the commission's meeting Wednesday in Jefferson City. It is effective April 15.

"He said in an interview that he was not forced out. He said he had always intended to seek another job by 2007, when his daughter will graduate from high school.

"…Under Mullally, Missouri has been recognized as one of the toughest regulatory climates for casinos…"

Kansas Bill Heads to Senate

 

As reported by the Kansas City Star: "A bill authorizing two casinos and slot machines at dog and horse tracks, including the Woodlands, could be debated in the Senate as early as Thursday.

"The bill earmarks 75 percent of the state's share of gambling revenue for schools and 25 percent for local property tax relief.

"The property tax reduction would send about $10 million to Johnson County, $8 million to Sedgwick County and $2.5 million to Wyandotte County.

"Supporters said they were optimistic, but casinos and slots had never gained Senate approval anywhere outside of American Indian reservations.

"…Before sending the bill to the full Senate, the Federal and State Affairs Committee Tuesday altered the bill in an effort to improve its chance of passage…"

Gulfside Casino Partnership, Harrah's Close Property Deal

 

As reported by the Biloxi Sun Herald: "Rick Carter and Terry Green now own the Grand Casino Gulfport property.

"Their company, Gulfside Casino Partnership, closed on the purchase of the property from Harrah's Entertainment this morning in a ceremony on the seventh floor of the old Hancock Bank building. They plan to open a casino inside the Oasis Hotel by Sept. 1 with 900 slot machines and about 30 games, but will expand the gambling space. By Jan. 1, their plans are to have 2,100 slot machines and about 52 table games.

"The two are scheduled to appear before the Mississippi Gaming Commission on Thursday to present their site plan.

"Gulfside Casino Partnership plans to have a job fair within the next 60 days to begin hiring employees…"

Gold Reef Reports Earnings Up

 

As reported by the iAfrica News: "Gold Reef Casino Resorts has reported a 12.1 percent rise in headline earnings per share to 102.1 cents for the year ended December 2005 from 91.1 cents a year earlier.

"A dividend of 51 cents per share was declared, covered twice by HEPS, compared with 48 cents a year ago.

"The company attributed the results to strong trade and good cost control at its casinos. Group revenue was up 10.3 percent to R1.2-billion and profit attributable to shareholders increased 20 percent to R230.7-million…"

Arye Shrugs Off Raid

 

As reported by the CBC News: "Saskatchewan-born billionaire whose Costa Rican mansion was raided by police on the weekend is calling the raid a 'golden opportunity' to promote his internet gambling business.

"Calvin Ayre was on the cover of Forbes' 'world's wealthiest people' issue last week and the business magazine says he's worth in excess of $1 billion US.

"It's a long way from the pig farm near Lloydminster where he spent his early years, although Ayre, 44, insists he hasn't changed much.

"…Gambling is illegal in Costa Rica and it was reported police thought Ayre was hosting a poker tournament.

"However, Ayre said he was actually hosting a wrap-up event after shooting the latest episode of a realty TV show – about poker.

"…Police did not arrest Ayre, but he said they confiscated his laptop computer and ate food put out for his guests…"

Anti-Online Gaming Bill Pass in House

 

As reported by the Westfall Weekly News: "A U.S. House committee on Wednesday approved a bill aimed at stamping out the $12 billion Internet gambling industry by stopping businesses from accepting credit cards and other forms of payment.

"The bill, cleared by voice vote in the House Financial Services Committee, would prohibit a gambling business from accepting credit cards, checks, wire transfers and electronic funds transfers in illegal gambling transactions.

"…But Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, the top Democrat on the House committee, opposed the bill. He said Congress should not seek to control how adults spend their money just because some lawmakers oppose gambling…"

Woman Hits $100,000 Jackpot

 

Taking the 'shortcut to Vegas' paid off in a big way for Catherine Clark of San Pedro, California. She is the most recent major jackpot winner at Pechanga Resort & Casino. In less time than it would have taken her to drive to Sin City, Catherine had achieved the ultimate winner's goal. Shortly after her arrival, she began playing a $10 "Bonus Times" slot machine in Pechanga Resort & Casino's new High Limit Gaming Area that yielded her a giant check made out for one hundred thousand dollars. "I'll try not to spend it," Catherine grinned.

Pechanga slots stay hot and pay out big jackpots to players on a frequent basis. You could be next. If you enjoy non-stop gaming action without the long drive to Nevada, you'll want to visit Pechanga Resort & Casino in beautiful the Temecula Valley. This shortcut to Vegas features 2,000 of the hottest and newest slot and video poker machines providing gaming excitement around the clock. Spread across the 188,000 square-foot casino, players will find their favorite games such as The Price Is Right, I Dream of Jeannie, Triple Play Poker and more.

Report: Falling Demand Brings Drop in Room Rates

 

Rapidly rising room rates took a rest in the first three months of 2006 following nearly two years of steady gains, gaming analysts said this week.

Rates for rooms on the Strip booked three weeks in advance fell an average 3 percent in the 2006 first quarter to $204, data from Bear Stearns showed. Midweek rates dropped 5 percent while weekend rates were up 1 percent.

Excluding Wynn Las Vegas, which only opened April 28, rates dropped 6 percent on average to $201.

Bear Stearns analyst Joe Greff said surveys of rates less than three weeks in advance show that operators are responding to softening demand by cutting rates further.

In first quarter of 2005, average rates were up 10 percent, midweek rates were up 11 percent and weekend rates were up 7 percent.

For all of last year, average rates were up 4.5 percent, midweek rates up 5.5 percent and weekend rates up 2.5 percent.

In the Bear Stearns first-quarter survey for 2006, average rates were down 3 percent at MGM Mirage properties to $208, down 10 percent at the former Caesars Entertainment properties to $192, down 13 percent at the former Mandalay Resort Group properties to $197, but up 7 percent at Harrah's Entertainment properties to $211.

Rates dipped 2 percent at The Venetian to $349, 10 percent at the Tropicana to $108 and 10 percent at the Stardust to $97. They increased 18 percent at The Aladdin to $240 and 23 percent at the Las Vegas Hilton to $176.

A similar survey of Strip operators by Deutsche Bank showed stronger room rate performance on average than Bear Stearns, but with room rates up on average 4.4 percent in the first quarter.

Each survey covers about 25 percent of the Strip market.

However, Deutsche Bank analyst Marc Falcone said the room rate surveys historically have been good barometers of stock price performance given Las Vegas operators' leverage from room rates to earnings.

CRT Capital Group gaming analyst Steve Ruggerio said visitation levels and occupancy rates in Las Vegas remain very strong.

Brian Gordon, a partner in the Las Vegas-based Applied Analysis financial consulting firm, said it would be unrealistic to maintain recent rates of growth for an extended period of time.

"Given the substantial run-ups in the past year, it was logical room pricing would hit some kind of a ceiling. At some point, budgets for leisure travel simply get pinched," he said.

Gordon said room rates have not topped out, but the acceleration in rates experienced across the board for the past 12 months to 18 months is not likely to continue.

However, different tiers have been hit differently by consumer demand in the past six months, Gordon said.

Specifically, lower-tier hotel-casinos have continued their inexorable room rate increases, especially as demand has been diverted from both higher-end properties and bargain destinations that have closed, such as Boardwalk, Bourbon Street and Lady Luck.

At the same time, room rates have slowed to a crawl and started to slide downward at top-tier properties, Gordon said.

"The range of room rates is narrowing across the sector," he said.

Ruggerio said the rate divergence shows low to middle market properties remain strong, partly thanks to a pricing umbrella from the top end hotel-casinos.

However, Gordon said that "at new price levels, consumers are more cost conscious when it comes to leisure travel. Visitors are more selective and the operators are having to respond."

"Room rates are a function of supply and demand, with occupancy being the other driving force. To maintain critical mass at a property, operators adjust room rates to hold up occupancy," he said.

Falcone said Deutsche Bank's longer-term survey through late April shows that rates are rising compared with previous years.

And Ruggerio said visitor levels and occupancy rates in Las Vegas remain very strong.

Lucky Woman Drives Home in Style

 

Four lucky tickets were drawn last night during the "Go Man Go, Car-A-Week" Give- Away Promotion at Pechanga Resort & Casino. Excitement grew as the crowd waited in anticipation to see if each player called was indeed present. All four were on the stage in a matter of minutes, and each anxiously awaited their chance to pick the key that would start the 2006 Dodge Charger parked outside. The first and second contestants each tried their keys to no avail. Then it was down to the ladies, and the audience was eager to hear the engine start. A hush came over the crowd as the third player turned her key…silence. Player four, Kim Maly of Temecula, knew she was holding the winning key. "I was overwhelmed and ready to faint," she said with a flushed smile. "It's a good thing Gary was right there, he held me up when I went woozy."

"I saw her wavering and reached out to steady her," said Gary, who happened to be the first contestant to try his luck at the Charger's ignition. Once she was firmly seated behind the wheel, Kim put the key in and fired up the engine. The spectators clapped and cheered as Kim's husband joined her in their new high performance car.

Pechanga Resort & Casino features 2,000 of the hottest and newest slot and video poker machines, providing gaming excitement around the clock. Spread across the 188,000 square-foot casino, players will find their favorite games such as The Price Is Right, I Dream of Jeannie, Triple Play Poker and more.

Pechanga Resort & Casino is located at 45000 Pechanga Parkway, just off the I-15 freeway, in the beautiful Temecula Valley. The resort is California's first resort and casino to be awarded the AAA Four Diamond rating, and holds it four years running, and offers luxurious hotel rooms and suites, non-stop casino action, eight exceptional restaurants, entertainment and health club.

Iowa Casinos Expand

 

As reported by the Des Moines Register: "Iowa's casino industry is in the midst of a $742 million expansion boom.

"Four new riverboat casinos will open over the next 14 months, and 10 existing casinos are undergoing major face-lifts or expansions to add more gambling space, fancy restaurants, plush hotels and parking garages.

"About 18 million guests already leave behind $1.1 billion annually at Iowa's riverboat and racetrack casinos. The new casinos are expected to generate an additional $200 million per year in gambling revenue.

"One of the biggest projects will be unveiled Wednesday night in Council Bluffs, where Harrah's Entertainment Inc. will open the glitzy $85 million Horseshoe Casino on the site of the former Bluffs Run Casino. Actor Jim Belushi will appear at an invitation-only event, along with NASCAR driver Robby Gordon, who will ride into the new casino on a motorcycle from Orange County Choppers…"

Harrah's Brand on Fast Track

 

When race car driver Robby Gordon rolls his yellow and purple No. 7 Chevrolet onto the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for this afternoon's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400, the expected 150,000 NASCAR fans in attendance may think speed.

Jeffrey Pollack is gambling that they will also think Harrah's.

Pollack, vice president of sports and entertainment marketing for casino giant Harrah's Entertainment, hopes the large Harrah's logo on the hood of Gordon's racer will impress both the fans at the Speedway and the millions watching the race on network television.

Pollack said the company's sponsorship of Gordon's car is the right combination. Racing fans and the gaming company's customer base are one and the same.

"Harrah's is a brand that instills excitement and enthusiasm, and that's what NASCAR is all about," said Pollack, who spent five years as NASCAR's managing director of broadcasting and new media before joining Harrah's in August. "There are so many similarities between the racing audience and the NASCAR audience, that for our company, it's a natural fit."

Harrah's, along with Jim Beam Bourbon and Menards, a Midwestern-based home furnishing chain, are sponsoring Robby Gordon Motorsports, a driver-owned NASCAR team. Today's race is the first event of the season for which Harrah's has the primary sponsorship position on Gordon's car. The company will have the spot on the racer's hood at seven other races this year.

In the company's contract negotiations with Gordon, Pollack said Harrah's wanted the primary sponsor position during events at racetracks most relevant to the company's casino customer base, such as Las Vegas; Phoenix; Kansas City, Mo.; and Fontana, Calif., outside Los Angeles.

Pollack said Harrah's, which is in the second year of its deal with Gordon, doesn't disclose the financial terms of its sponsorship arrangement. One racing source said the major NASCAR teams command total annual sponsorship deals in the $15 million to $20 million range.

According to NASCAR, a team sponsorship allows Harrah's to place the company's logo on the race cars, vehicle haulers and the driver and crew uniforms. During races when Jim Beam or Menards has the primary sponsorship position, smaller Harrah's logos are still found on the car and on the driver and crew uniforms.

Harrah's also has an agreement with Gordon for personal appearances.

But Pollock said Harrah's receives more from the sponsorship than exposure.

"It allows us to create race packages for our very important customers," Pollack said. "These are memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, such as taking customers into the (racing) pit, offering special seating and a behind-the-scenes look at the race."

Eric Wright, vice president of research and development for Joyce Julius and Associates, an Ann Arbor, Mich., firm that specializes in measuring the media impact of sponsorships, said that when a company signs onto the hood of NASCAR racer, there are plenty of risks.

"It's a roll of the dice because your brand is contingent on the car's success or failure on the track," Wright said. "If the car doesn't do well, it really doesn't do much for the brand."

Wright said during a typical two- to three-hour NASCAR race, the average television-screen time for a race car's primary sponsor is about 12.5 minutes; the average number of times the announcers mention the sponsor is 2.6 times a race.

Based on what it would cost for advertising during the race, the comparable value to the sponsor for time on the screen is $1.7 million, Wright said.

"Obviously, if a car goes out on the first lap, then the average time on television decreases," he said. "There are other subtle factors involved, such as the logo design and the size of logo. Some just pop out on the hood."

Gordon said the main challenge of having multiple primary sponsors is changing the look of the race car each week. Otherwise, he said, it's good to have multiple deals. Gordon said Harrah's benefits by bringing its customers to races when the Harrah's car is running.

"The cost of running these teams has gotten up there, so while it's a little more difficult for the team (having multiple primary sponsors), it gives us a great platform to race. Hopefully, Harrah's customers become fans of our team."

Another benefit for Harrah's is the loyalty NASCAR fans have traditionally shown to the sport's sponsors.

"Our fans are extremely brand-loyal, far more than any other sport" said Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of corporate communications. "If our fans know Harrah's is involved, when they have a choice in casinos, they will choose Harrah's because of that sponsorship."

NASCAR claims to have a fan base of more than 75 million. More than 13 million attended NASCAR events in 2005, and 17 of the top 20 highest-attended sporting events in the United States in 2005 were NASCAR races.

In 2005, televised NASCAR events captured some 306 million viewers, according to ratings by Nielsen Media Research. Nextel Cup races, such as the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400, were the No. 2 rated sporting events on television last year behind National Football League games. On 14 out of 36 weekends, NASCAR Nextel Cup events were the most-watched sporting events on television.

"The exposure for your brand with NASCAR is a tremendous value," Pollack said. "Because of the brand loyalty of NASCAR fans and the connection with Robby Gordon, we're confident that we see a good return on that investment."

Harrah's also benefits from the sales of NASCAR-related merchandise, which the racing organization estimates to be $2 billion annually.

In the online store for Robby Gordon Motorsports, more than two dozen products featuring the Harrah's logo are offered, such as die cast replica cars for $65, along with T-shirts, hats and novelty items ranging from $3 to $20. For $100 a fan can buy a Harrah's race crew jersey; $1,000 will bring home an authentic Harrah's firesuit worn by a member of Gordon's pit crew. Harrah's also sells some of Gordon's team gear at its casinos.

Pollack wouldn't say what the split was for sales of Robby Gordon-Harrah's merchandise, but a racing source said all sponsors normally receive a percentage of the proceeds from merchandise sales with their logo.

"We don't disclose the nature of deals like this, but let's just say it's a mutually beneficial relationship between Harrah's and Robby Gordon," Pollack said.

He added that he would not be surprised to see some cross-promotions in the near future featuring Gordon and Harrah's other highly recognized sports venture, the World Series of Poker. He said there is a similarity between NASCAR drivers and professional poker players.

NASCAR's relationship with Harrah's and other gaming companies -- Boyd Gaming Corp. sponsors two Busch series races -- forged a new convergence between professional sports and casinos. Unlike the National Football League, which prohibits even the smallest of connections between the sport and Las Vegas, NASCAR embraces the gambling audience.

While the National Basketball Association required that Nevada sports books remove lines on the league's all-star game before placing the event in Las Vegas in 2007, NASCAR thrives on its fans wagering habits.

"About 40 percent of our fans are what you would call avid," NASCAR's Hunter said. "Others are more casual with some interest. But a lot of them want to place a bet on their favorite team or driver. We think it adds interest and the sports books have gotten very creative in the wagers they offer."

However, like other major league sports that prohibit its athletes from betting on their own games, Hunter said NASCAR rules don't allow drivers or crews to wager on the races.

"The gaming industry is very attractive sponsor and we hope it grows," Hunter said.

Golf Betting Column: What The Golfinggods Say.

 

Just when you think that the game of golf has turned into a bodybuilding competition with sticks and a white ball along comes Luke Donald and reminds you that elegance in the game has not vanished entirely. Here is a golfer who has the tempo and style of a Hollywood star in the 1950's, he simply makes the game easy and enjoyable to watch. His victory at the Honda Classic illustrated once again his enormous potential and I expect him to be a top five player for the next decade – he is that good.

It also should be noted that the tournament organises are to continue a solid test of golf next year when the tournament is moved to the PGA National course. It is nice to see that some tournaments believe in selecting tournaments venues that are not bias towards the 'beefcake' and allow the 'ballerina' players an option as well. Long may it last!

I stated last week that in Asia you should only back players who are local or who have had experience in this part of the world. Well this theory was proved right again with Mardan Mamat of Singapore winning the Singapore Open. Once again let me say that local knowledge rules in Asia.

This weeks US tour schedule moves to Bay Hill for the tournament Arnie built, the Bay Hill Invitational. The Bay Hill layout will provide a good test of golf with narrow fairways and large undulating greens. The wind will be a factor in the afternoon and this will add to its toughness.

Selections:

Tiger Woods: as boring a selection as watching paint dry but the truth is he is the player they all have to beat. Not playing at his best this year but with three victories already he is just a class above. Beat him and you win.

Stuart Appleby: led this tournament after three rounds last year and can compete again this year. Already a winner on tour this year his game is solid and a good showing with the flat stick and he should be right there on Sunday.

Jose Maria Olazabal: if his driving is solid then he must be a chance this week. One of the great iron players and short game wizards this course will demand elements of his game that he is comfortable with. A good each way chance!

Others to mention: Adam Scott, KJ Choi and Retief Goosen.

The European Tour continues its love affair with the Asian sector this week with the staging of the TCL Classic played at the Yalong Bay golf course in China. This course was designed as a stadium course and thus it may turn the tournament into a putting contest, with wide fairways and large greens.

Selections:

Thaworn Wiratchant: his swing may not be pretty but his short game is as good as anyone. His performance last week when defending champion was encouraging and another good showing is expected.

Paul Casey: won here last year and likes the ability to rip the drives with no concern on where it ends up. He has the length to chip and putt a good score around this course and is fancied to defend his title.

Ross Fisher: the Englishman continues to play three good rounds in most tournaments only to let himself down in the final round. I think this is a sign of inexperience and this will not continue. He is too talented to not be winning tournaments and represents a good each way bet this week.

Others to mention: Shiv Kapur, Thongchai Jaidee and Andrew Buckle.

Until next week – May The Golfinggods Be With You!

For all your Golf Betting requirements log onto https://www.golfinggods.com/

UK Casino Rules Published

 

As reported by the 24 Dash News: "Proposed rules on how to govern Britain's gambling industry in the future are being published today.

"The draft rules aim to keep crime out of the industry, ensure gambling is fair and protect vulnerable people, including children, from harm.

"The draft Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice also contain rules designed to combat addiction and regulate online gaming websites - which have seen a huge growth in recent years - for the first time.

"A spokesman for the Gambling Commission, which is publishing the proposed rules for consultation, said the measures followed legislation passed last year by Parliament…"

Stanley Leisure Sell Maxim Stake

 

As reported by the UK Times: "Stanley Leisure has sold back its 50 per cent stake in Maxims, the upmarket casino, to Genting, the Malaysian gaming group, for £8.5 million.

"The deal comes 14 months after Stanley purchased the holding in the Kensington, West London, casino from Genting for £6.45 million as part of a wider tie-up between the two companies to take advantage of new gambling laws.

"Genting received the original payment in Stanley shares — equivalent to a 1.1 per cent stake — and at the same time acquired a further 9.1 per cent stake in the British company from Lord Steinberg, its founder and chairman.

"Since then, Genting has lifted its stake to almost 12 per cent while building a separate holding of 29.8 per cent in London Clubs International, which last month sold its Les Ambassadeurs casino in Knightsbridge to an Indonesian tycoon…"

Senate to Vote on Tribal Gaming Authority

 

As reported by the Bartlesville Examiner: "Dismissing complaints from Indian gaming advocates, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Wednesday the Senate Indian Affairs Committee will vote March 29 on his bill to broaden federal authority over tribal casinos.

"McCain bristled at a statement by Ron His Horse Is Thunder, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota and South Dakota, that the bill resulted from anti-Indian press reports and the scandal surrounding disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

"…McCain, who is the Indian Affairs chairman, opened the session by saying he 'steadfastly' rejects the view that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 should not be reviewed or changed.

"…To lay the foundation for his legislation, which he introduced last November, McCain has conducted hearings on almost a monthly basis since April 2005 on the federal Indian gaming law…"

Peermont Profits Up

 

As reported by the South Africa Money Web: "A strong showing in financial 2005 from the East Rand's Emperors Casino, coupled with a bigger stake in that operation helped Peermont Global deliver a 33% increase in headline profits for the year to end-December 2005.

"Pallavi Ambekar, an analyst at Coronation Fund Managers – which holds 18,9% of Peermont's share capital on behalf of shareholders through nine unit trust funds – says the results are very pleasing: 'At this point, it would be the preferred entry point to the sector.'

"The JSE-listed gaming and hospitality company said revenue for the year increase by 35% to R1,2bn, while headline earnings per share (Heps) increase by 33% to 66,6c. Adjusted Heps (which exclude a once-off option gain) were up 17% to 58,7c, while the dividend was increased by 18% to 32,4c…"

New Zealand Racing Industry Gets Tax Break

 

As reported by the Radio New Zealand: "The racing industry is to receive a $30 million package of tax-breaks. Details were announced today at the conclusion of Auckland's Racing Carnival Week.

"A key change will see the duty on gambling profits cut from 17.9% to 4%.

"Racing Minister, Winston Peters, says that means gaming duty for the racing industry will be aligned with that of casinos and provide the industry with a level playing field…"

Melco Shares Up

 

As reported by the China Standard: "Shares of Melco International Development, controlled by the family of casino tycoon Stanley Ho, soared by more than a quarter to a record HK$14.60, after the company said it has clinched the last available gambling subconcession in Macau.

"The stock rose as much as 27.7 percent to HK$14.75 during Friday's morning trading session and closed at HK$14.60, up 26.41 percent and the largest single-day gain since the company entered the gaming sector.

"Melco shares have gained 63 percent so far this year, outpacing the 3.4 percent gain in the Hang Seng Index

"…The surge in Melco's shares also boosted other Macau gaming stocks Friday. Shares of Galaxy Entertainment, a casino operator, rose 6.8 percent to HK$5.45 while Shun Tak Holdings, which holds an indirect stake in casino owner Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, gained 7 percent to HK$9.10…"

Norwich Leaders Consider Rejecting Casino Idea

 

As reported by the Norwich Evening News: "City Hall leaders are planning to turn down a unique opportunity for Norwich to become the new Las Vegas of the East and be the location for one of the country's new casinos.

"Under last year's Gambling Act, three new types of casino will be allowed to operate.

"Throughout the country, one new regional casino will be permitted along with eight new large and eight new small casinos.

"All local authorities have been asked to consider whether they wish to be considered as locations for them. But the Liberal Democrat executive at City Hall is planning to turn down the offer when it is asked on Wednesday whether to get council officers to put in a bid for a licence for one of 17 casinos.

"The council's deputy leader Hereward Cooke said the council wanted to back Great Yarmouth's bid for a casino instead.

"…At the moment, Blackpool is in the driving seat for the single regional casino, although Great Yarmouth has not given up hope entirely…"

NASCAR Arrives in Vegas

 

NASCAR fans in Southern Nevada don't have to visit Las Vegas Motor Speedway to snag the sport's most popular products.

Just a pit stop away from this city's largest megaresorts, Chicago businessman Steve Deli and his wife, Anne, are offering an extensive array of licensed T-shirts, caps and jackets.

The nation's third NASCAR The Official Store opened Jan. 19 on the Fashion Show mall's first floor. Situated just off the mall's easternmost entrance, the 2,400-square-foot shop is easily visible to pedestrians on the Strip.

"We want to capture markets with high tourist traffic as well as ties to NASCAR -- places with races and tracks," Mike Northrop, director of store operations, said Thursday.

Northrop cited this city's nearly 40 million annual visitors, as well as Las Vegas Motor Speedway, host of Sunday's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 Nextel Cup event.

"Business has been good here from the jump, but this week is our Christmas, so to speak," Northrop added.

Jim McMichael, senior marketing manager for Fashion Show, called NASCAR the country's fastest-growing sport. For obvious reasons, he welcomes its fans' presence at the mall.

"Its fan base is growing tremendously," McMichael said. "(The store) is a great resource for our local customers and tourists."

The concept is catching on elsewhere. The first NASCAR The Official Store opened in July in Orlando, Fla.; No. 2 dropped on Chicago's tony Michigan Avenue retail district in September.

More will follow by summer's end, including sites in Branson, Mo., and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. A second Orlando store is planned, as is another Las Vegas store inside Desert Passage at Aladdin.

Unlike other retailers that carry licensed NASCAR apparel, Northrop said his company sells an exclusive line of T-shirts representing 28 popular drivers.

Store-exclusive caps and jackets will follow in time for the 2007 racing season, he said.

The Deli family's business, American Road Retail, directly licensed the store's rights from the Daytona Beach, Fla.-based National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.

Another major sports league could soon follow NASCAR's lead in Southern Nevada.

National Basketball Association executives told the Review-Journal last month they're considering placing a league-owned NBA Store in Las Vegas before next year's All-Star events in the city.

Nothing has been decided so far, an NBA spokesman said Thursday.

The world's only NBA Store is on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Montreal Casino Gets Mixed Response

 

As reported by the CBC Radio: "Guy Coulombe says it is too early for the Quebec government to decide to move Montreal's casino.

"Coulombe heads an intergovernmental committee that is examining whether the casino should be moved to the Peel Basin, in the heart of some of Montreal's poorest neighbourhoods.

"There's a lot of good in Loto-Québec's project, but there is concern about the impact of the project, Coulombe said while releasing his report Thursday.

"…He recommends the gaming authority pay $300,000 to the southwest borough council so it can create a group that will discuss solutions to local social problems.

"…Loto-Québec and the Cirque du Soleil want to build a $1-billion entertainment complex and casino for the Peel Basin…"

IGT Extends Exchange Offer

 

International Game Technology announced today that it is extending until 5:00 p.m. New York City time on Tuesday, March 14, 2006, unless otherwise terminated or further extended, the expiration of its offer to exchange up to $969,712,000 in aggregate principal amount at maturity of new Zero-Coupon Convertible Debentures due January 29, 2033 ("new debentures") for an equal aggregate principal amount at maturity of its currently outstanding Zero-Coupon Convertible Debentures due January 29, 2033 ("old debentures").

As of March 9, 2006, $672,348,000 principal amount of the old debentures had been tendered (including $10,594,000 principal amount tendered subject to guaranteed delivery), representing approximately 69.3% of the total amount of old debentures outstanding.

Dynasty Gaming, Golden Palace Sign Deal

 

Dynasty Gaming Inc., a global online gaming sector leader with a first-to-market aggregate player, cash-wager version of Mahjong, today announced the signing of a contract with Golden Palace Limited. The contract, through Dynasty's Mahjong Systems Limited subsidiary, covers the installation and payment of royalties for the Company's Mahjong Mania gaming software. Mahjong is acknowledged as the world's most widely played game.

The Golden Palace contract is the seventh contract signed by Dynasty's MSL unit since marketing of the gaming software began in 2005 and it comes only a few weeks after a cash-wager version of Mahjong Mania was launched on the Ladbrokes' online sports betting site.

Dynasty Chief Executive Albert Barbusci stated, "We are delighted to have entered into an agreement with Golden Palace, particularly as it is one of the world's leading online casino operators with a very substantial North American client base. This represents a win for their customers as well as for our company. We recognized from the outset of our marketing efforts that signing contracts with even a small number of leaders in the online gaming sector would generate a broad interest for our gaming software amongst a wide range of online casino and sports betting operators."

"The increased level of enquiries we have received in recent weeks suggests that this wider interest is beginning to show itself," continued Mr. Barbusci. "The signing of Golden Palace, coupled with the recent signing of Ladbrokes, clearly illustrates the increasing demand for a cash-wager version of Mahjong."

Richard Rowe, Chief Executive of Golden Palace Limited, said, "Our research has shown the importance of continually adding quality gaming products to our mix of cash-wager offerings. We are confident that demand exists within our client base for an online version of cash-wager Mahjong, already the most widely played game in the world. It is our intention to have the game installed and ready for play within the next three months."

Mahjong Mania is the first-to-market version of an online, aggregate, cash-wager Mahjong game. Dynasty Gaming, through MSL, derives income from software licensing fees as well as a royalty or share of rake from each game played on the sites of those operators licensing the Mahjong Mania software. Dynasty's 76.9 million common shares are widely held by U.S., U.K. and Canadian investors.

The TSX Venture Exchange does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Coventry Bid Finds Support

 

As reported by the icCoventry: "Labour opposition leader John Mutton has called on Birmingham and Solihull to back Coventry's bid to have Britain's first pilot super-casino.

"He said they should give up their respective plans for a pilot at the Birmingham City Football Club and at the National Exhibition Centre.

"He spoke after Coventry's Tory-run cabinet voted to officially tell the government the city is joining the race.

"…Tory council leader Ken Taylor stopped short of calling for the two nearest rivals to pull out and is confident of beating them even if they continue.

"He is campaigning to get the number of regional pilots increased again from one to eight and has written to his party leader David Cameron asking for support…"

WPT Offers Father's Day Present Ideas

 

For dad this Father's Day, you can't go wrong if you pick poker. However, cards and chips are just the starting point. The World Poker Tour has gone "All-In" with an array of branded merchandise that will bring a smile to dad's face.

Here's a brief look at what's coming for Father's Day and where you can get it:

For Mobile Phones, PDAs and Wireless Devices

From MFORMA -- World Poker Tour® 7-Card Stud Wireless Game. (SRP is approximately $4-$6/month but varies with carrier.) -- MFORMA, has added World Poker Tour: 7 Card Stud to its first title, World Poker Tour: Texas Hold 'Em, launched last summer, one of MFORMA's most popular titles of all time. MFORMA's new WPT 7 Card Stud incorporates the best features of Texas Hold 'Em, plus exciting new enhancements that advance the entire category of mobile casino games. Just like WPT Texas Hold 'Em, WPT 7 Card Stud features six-person real time multiplayer, online leaderboards, global rankings and customizable profiles. New for WPT 7 Card Stud, MFORMA has enhanced the artificial intelligence, which now presents distinct player personalities for an added layer of intrigue. This enables players to become familiar with tournament regulars and their playing styles as they progress through game modes on their way to winning a WPT title. World Poker 7 Card Stud also has advanced multiplayer capability, including the six-person, real-time multiplayer action that made Texas Hold 'Em such a hit. Players can login and play online with players from all over the world. A leaderboard keeps track of all player chip totals and rankings and players can see the overall leaders as well as the other players immediately surrounding their position. During online play, players will be matched up with players of similar ranking. As your poker playing skills improve, your ranking rises, and you will be matched up with more challenging opponents. Players can play in weekly tournaments with fixed buy-in and pre-determined winnings. Tournaments are single table only with the top finishers splitting the purse. Available from most major US mobile phone service carriers.

Home

-Dad will be cookin' with Two Dog Designs' Designer WPT BarbeQue GrillCovers™. (SRP: $29.95 to $59.95, depending on size.) Bet on the durability of this handsomely designed, high quality grill cover, made of heavyweight polyester. Waterproof and weather resistant covers have PVC lining and velcro enclosures to give a grill added protection. Available in three sizes: 26" fits most dome and portable grills; 45"-54" fits most mid-sized cart-style grills; 55"-72" fits most large cart-style grills. The World Poker Tour logo is infused into the fabric for vibrancy and wearability.

-Two Dogs' Matching WPT BBQ Utensils & Carrier is a unique and useful barbecue accessory you can wager will be put to good use. (SRP: $19.95) Zippered carrier with World Poker Tour logo is durable, heavyweight polyester, with a flap that folds into the case to protect the tools inside: tongs, fork, and spatula.

-And to make sure there's plenty of soda and beer going down during the barbecue, you'll want the Talking Bottle Opener from Pacific Direct. (SRP:$9.75 ) This fun item, which features four soundbites from the WPT show including the signature opening, is a great conversation starter at the party.

Now if you really want to upscale the party, consider WPT Bar Mirrors from Head West. (SRP: Ranges from $39.99 to $59.99). These creative and fun decorative bar mirrors that "reflect" the spirit of the WPT are perfect for bar or game rooms.

Auto

-Get up to speed with the WPT Seat Cover, Steering Wheel Cover, CD Visor Organizer, Car Seat Cushion, Sun Shade and Sun Cutter from Shell Auto Accessories. (Priced from $1.99 to $19.99) These fun products make dad feel like a real Ace when he's motoring about town. Available at auto supply stores, drugs stores, supermarkets, discount stores and mass merchandisers.

Dad's Home Game

-When having your own poker table isn't an option, there's the World Poker Tour® Portable Poker Mats from Game-Matic, Inc.—a perfect solution. (SRP $69.95.) These high-quality, super wear-resistant mats bear the WPT logo and either the phrase "No Limit Texas Hold'Em" or "Shuffle Up and Deal." They can instantly turn any level surface into a functional poker table. The WPT Mats are made of absorbent material, are spill proof, machine washable, lightweight and ultra-thin for easy packing, and feature non-slip protective rubber backing. They pack up into a compact carrying case with strap, and include a bonus CD-Rom containing the WPT rules and regulations. Sizes include 18" x 36", 24" x 40" and 24" x 45".

-From The United States Playing Card Company -- World Poker Tour® Premium Poker Set. (SRP/Under $89.99) -- Your home game can serve up some style with this WPT Premium Poker Set. The set comes complete with six wood and cork beverage coasters emblazoned with the WPT logo! Packed conveniently in a handsome wooden chest for poker at home or on the go, the World Poker Tour Premium Poker Set features two removable trays containing 300 heavyweight clay-filled 11.5 gram WPT chips – the true poker player's chip--two decks of Premium WPT Bee cards and a nickel finish metal dealer button.

Games

If Dad's got a passion for both pinball and poker, than he'll be tickled pink with Stern Pinball's WPT Pinball Machine, perfect for hours of boisterous play with the whole family. (SRP $4,499). The full sized pinball machine, which pictures the show hosts on its video screen, lets players shoot cards on 16 drop targets to make card hand combinations. Competitors vie to reach the simulated WPT World Championships™ by virtually traveling city to city playing Texas Hold 'Em on the World Poker Tour.

-World Poker Tour® Video Game (SRP.19.99 for PSP) --2K Sports, is expanding its line of World Poker Tour games for video play with its new version for the PSP™ PlayStation®Portable) systems. World Poker Tour for PSP features real-life professional poker stars and venues showcased in the WPT TV series with enhanced artificial intelligence players, customizable characters and online capabilities compatible with PlayStation®2 consoles. Online connectivity is a major part of playing World Poker Tour for PSP. Gamers will have the ability to connect wirelessly with other PSP systems or online to compete against players across the country on both the PSP and the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system. New enhancements to World Poker Tour for PSP include a completely new and innovative artificial intelligence system that allows gamers to challenge more than 1,200 different characters, all with their own unique playing styles and behaviors. Gamers who are able to bump up their career earnings can unlock custom clothes, accessories, and invitational events found only in the PSP version. Players can also create more than 4,000 custom variations of poker, and choose to play against computer opponents or take their custom poker game online to battle for poker supremacy. Available at video game retailers.

WPT Books & Instruction

-From HarperCollins—World Poker Tour: In the Money by Antonio Esfandiari. (SRP: $15.95.) You don't have to be a WPT tournament player to come out ahead in poker. Cash games are the most commonly played style of Hold'em in casinos, home games and online. This follow-up to WPT: Shuffle Up and Deal and WPT: Making the Final Table from poker professional Antonio Esfandiari, with contributions from other stars of the World Poker Tour provides the next level of poker strategies and insights educating today's poker players on the secrets of non-tournament play. This is a "must have" for all poker enthusiasts. Available at booksellers nationwide, Amazon.com and World Poker Tour.com.

-If your dad secretly harbors a desire to make a World Poker Tour Final Table, or just to clean out his buddies at the weekly poker game, the two-day WPT Boot Camp? is perfect. (Cost: $1,695) It's a chance to learn directly from poker champions and the WPT hosts. A fantasy camp for poker enthusiasts, WPT Boot Camp is designed to give amateurs an intensive emersion in poker strategy over a weekend. Camp attendees are tutored on all aspects of competitive tournament Texas Hold'Em Poker. Coursework is carefully constructed to compress poker's learning curve. Sessions feature an integrated curriculum that includes live lectures, archived WPT video footage, game play, and personal secrets from poker superstars. Students receive hands-on training filled with tips and tools to help them better understand the "tells," "reads," and strategies integral to improving their game. For starters, students learn to identify their unique skills and the skills of opponents. They then explore the mathematics of poker, followed by instruction specific to Texas Hold'Em. Lastly, students get tutelage on how to approach tournament play. The core of instructors is made up of select World Poker Tour® tournament champions and WPT television commentator Mike Sexton. Each WPT Boot Camp limits enrollment to only 60 students so the learning experience is maximized. Seats can be reserved at WPT Boot Camp.com or by calling 866-WPT-BOOT.

Dad's Personal Attire

If he's worth his weight in gold, then by all means consider either of two powerful and stunning 14K gold men's ID bracelets from Roberto Martinez Jewelry. The newest pieces of The World Poker Tour® Collection feature a gold bar with either diamonds spelling out WPT or arranged in the shape of a spade. The bars are attached to handsome heavyweight interlinked chain. (Price for WPT bracelet: $2,250. Price for Spade bracelet: $1.225.) Available at World Poker Tour.com and Tutto at Bellagio.

Many of these items can also be purchased on the WPT webstore at World Poker Tour.com, along with a full line of other products including: cards, chips, poker sets, card shufflers, handheld games, apparel, lingerie, boxer shorts, hats, wristbands, headbands, women's jewelry, DVDs, books, artwork, housewares, wall clocks, decorative tabletop clocks, alarm clocks, wrist watches and candy, as well as WPT brand novelty items such as magnets, antenna toppers and key chains.

The Inside Wagering Line: The Pinnacle Pulse

 

With "Cinderella" stories and buzzer beaters capturing the imagination of basketball fans everywhere, the NCAA tournament has become one of the biggest sporting events of the year. With Selection Sunday taking place this weekend to announce the 65 participants in the 2006 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship, it's safe to say that the popularity of "March Madness" isn't solely due to those cheering for their alma maters. Many more have a betting interest in the tournament with office pools featuring tournament brackets being the most popular.

Much of the excitement of the tourney is the danger that any given team could be upset. While no #1 seed has ever lost to a #16 seed in tournament history, everyone else is vulnerable. In fact, a team seeded #13 or lower has pulled off a first-round shocker 36 times in the last 20 years. Last year, Bucknell and Vermont ruined brackets everywhere with first round upsets over trendy Final Four picks Kansas and Syracuse, respectively.

With all of these upsets, it is very difficult to even get the Final Four right, let alone win a bracket. If you've spent a lot of time analyzing teams, you have another option: a straight bet on the game. While a wager can make any game more exciting, it's always better to make a bet with your head instead of your heart by doing the research first.

Before the tournament starts, there's time to study all the teams and games. With so much public money flowing on March Madness, there are bound to be spreads on games that are off – public money always gives rise to opportunities. By doing a little homework, the NCAA tournament can provide a great opportunity to win money by avoiding the mistakes of bettors whose heart-driven betting will always ensure that you'll find value at Pinnacle Sportsbetting.

When analyzing teams for tournament play, here is a list of a few things to consider before pulling the trigger on your plays:

1 - How has a team done in its last 10 games? This is often a better way to predict a team's current level of performance than using all the games this season – rotations are hopefully set and young players have matured. Consider the #17 LSU Tigers – they started slowly at 8-5, but have since gone 14-2. By contrast the #16 Florida Gators have lost 4 out of their last 8 games. While ranked similarly, the two teams are headed in opposite directions.

2 - Does the team have depth? A team that relies heavily on just 5-6 players for most of the game will be at a disadvantage against a deeper team, especially in the later rounds of the tournament. If a team plays two tough games in three days, having a deep bench can make all the difference. By way of example, consider the 2005 Tournament when Wisconsin-Milwaukee and West Virginia pulled off big upsets with the help of their deep benches.

This year, Connecticut has been the role-model for depth with five players averaging 10+ points per game and eight players seeing a lot of time. On the other hand, Duke is a "two-trick pony" with only two Blue-Devils averaging over 10 points per game. If J.J. Reddick or Sheldon Williams become injured or face foul trouble, Duke could stumble.

3 - How has the team played against similar caliber opponents? Games where a team is outclassed or is a large favorite are not too useful, because a coach may rest starters or a team could score garbage points when being blown out. This will affect that game's statistics as much as the actual players' performance.

If you are comparing two teams, do not use statistics for the whole season. Time permitting, tally the stats for only the relevant games. For example, Long Beach has the #1 offense in the country averaging 83.7 points per game. However, in games against opponents in the top half of Sagarin ratings, they average only 72 points per game. If you blindly use season-long statistics, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.

4 - Power rankings are often inaccurate – they place as much weight on games played early in the season or on mismatches (which are less useful for analysis) as more recent games against equal opponents. The public often relies heavily on power ratings though, so many game spreads will move towards the spread predicted by Sagarin ratings. If such a move will hurt your price, make your bets early before the line moves.

With Selection Sunday taking place this weekend, try to use these ideas while examining this week's conference tournament games. Who do the sharps and public like?

Odds To Win 2006 NCAA Tournament

We've had high volume on most of our NCAA futures, but this is especially the case for the 2006 Tournament winner. If our bettors are right, Connecticut is the favorite to win the tournament. We opened the Huskies at +315 and have seen them highly traded driving the price down to +255. The next most popular team (from betting volume) was North Carolina, whose opener of +7429 was bet down to +912. Nobody wanted to back Duke after its poor finish to the season, causing its opener of +350 to drift up to +412.

Odds to Win Men's Big East Conference Tournament

Similar to the 2006 Tournament, Connecticut is the team to beat. A majority of bets on this conference future were on the Huskies, driving our opener of +157 down to +125. Villanova is the only other team really given a chance at +219. The real question for this conference championship is how much Huskies coach Jim Calhoun will rest his players, having already secured a top seed in the 2006 Tournament.

Odds to Win Men's Big 12 Conference Tournament

We've had heavy trading with a vast majority of the money coming in on Texas and Kansas. Texas opened at +100, but has been bet to a -138 favorite while Kansas opened at +514, but is now trading at +263.

Odds to Win Men's ACC Conference Tournament

Several of our professional prop players bet heavily on this tournament. Duke is a clear favorite (opened at +113, and bet down to +100) despite losing its last two regular season games and has now drifted back to +110. We've been surprised by the N.C. State backing, driving our opener of +1639 down to +1093

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Riviera Holdings Reports Loss

 

Juggling gauchos, an assortment of drag queens and one tired topless revue apparently can't pack in fans like they used to.

And that's bad news for the parent company of the Riviera.

Las Vegas-based Riviera Holdings Corp., which owns the 50-year-old Strip hotel-casino and Riviera Black Hawk Casino near Denver, on Wednesday revealed a nearly $3.9 million fourth-quarter loss due in part to weakened entertainment sales.

That 32 cents per share decline was significantly greater than the nearly $1.5 million loss, or 13 cents per share, reported for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2004.

Riviera Holdings' quarterly revenue was nearly $46.2 million, down 2.8 percent from last year's $47.5 million.

Cash flow -- a key performance indicator generally defined as earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization -- was nearly $8.2 million, down 8.1 percent from the prior year's $8.9 million.

The Riviera's Las Vegas productions -- which include the long-running variety show "Splash," the drag revue "La Cage" and the topless "Crazy Girls" -- sold 71,000 fewer cash tickets than in 2004, and issued 92,000 fewer complimentary tickets. Those showgoers' absence clearly hurt casino revenue.

"Several of our shows, as you well know, are dated," said Bob Vannucci, the property's president. "The other issue we have to overcome is the level of competition. There are over 100 shows on the Strip right now."

Vannucci ruled out the possibility of adding an expensive headliner. The Riviera will instead pursue shows new to the market, and tweak its existing productions to make them more attractive.

The Riviera's 2,070-room hotel continued to perform well. Average daily rates grew by $7.92 in the fourth quarter to $72.38, while its revenue per available room tally climbed by $5.24 to $62.84.

The Riviera is marketing to customers in the database of the recently shuttered Westward Ho, a move Vannucci believes will bolster his hotel-casino's 2006 performance.

Riviera Holdings is frequently connected to buyout rumors thanks to its 26-acre parcel on the north Strip.

Bill Westerman, the company's chief executive officer and chairman, again said the company will consider redeveloping its Las Vegas site, taking on a joint venture partner or selling its interests outright.

Westerman in January sold 1 million shares to a group of investors that includes former Starwood Hotels' Chairman Barry Sternlicht and Las Vegas real estate developer Brett Torino.

The group hoped to buy the entire company, but negotiations broke down earlier this month when a special committee of Riviera board members could not agree on a price.

Riviera Holdings has studied expanding into the Gulf Coast, though executives worry that market could be oversaturated should other gaming companies build $500 million megaresorts in the region.

Steven Ruggiero, an analyst with Stamford, Conn.-based CRT Capital Group, said Riviera Holdings' fourth-quarter performance was "softer then expected." The company's net revenue was 4.75 percent below his prior projections, while cash flow missed his estimate by 4.6 percent.

First Player Out at "Become a Pro" Finds Way To Stay and Play

 

Playing in the biggest Texas Hold'em tournament of his budding poker career, 31-year old Christopher Birchby couldn't believe his good fortune, when on the first hand, he was dealt aces in the hole.

His happy surprise was only matched by the sheer terror of facing an all-in re-raise against his rockets from early chip leader Bill Pero. Already short-stacked and pot-committed, Birchby called the bet and watched his good luck disappear, along with his tournament life.

Pero hit a set on the flop with his pocket 10's and improved on the turn by filling up his tens with twos. Birchby didn't even stick around to see the river.

"I looked at my aces (before the hand) and thought to myself, this is it, I'm going to double up and have a chance for a big stack early in this tournament," Birchby said. "By the time I realized he'd flopped a set with his 10's, I was already too committed."

Birchby was the first player eliminated in PokerRoom.com's inaugural "Become a Poker Pro" tournament. The distinction of being the first to go was stinging enough, but to go out in the first hand with aces – all Birchby could say was "ouch."

"I wouldn't play the hand any differently," Birchby said. "I made my move and 80 percent of the time, you win with that hand. I took my shot and it didn't work out."

To help dull the pain, PokerRoom.com spokesperson Glenn M. Cademartori entered Birchby into PokerRoom.com's weekly "Big Deal" tournament, the Web site's largest attraction with a weekly prize in excess of $22,000.

Connecting to the Internet from the cruise ship was a costly proposition, with Birchby racking up $70 in Wi Fi fees in addition to the $320 entry fee required to enter the "Big Deal."

So why put up the fee?

Cademartori said the answer was two-fold. First, he wanted Birchby to get a chance to play some more poker and secondly, he wanted the PokerRoom.com community logged in around the world to have hand-by-hand access to the tournament through Birchby.

Birchby accomplished both, placing 23rd out of 295 in the March 5th "Big Deal" while at the same time, answering online players' questions about who was winning "Become a Pro", play-by-play chip counts, and what it was like to play poker aboard a gigantic ship.

"He went out so quickly we wanted to offer him a consolation prize and get him into the Web sites' biggest weekly tournament," Cademartori said. "This way we were able to keep him in the room and have him communicate with our community. It served a two-fold purpose and it seemed to make him happy."

Already one of the most popular players on the PokerRoom.com site, the cash prize of $708 from his finish in the "Big Deal" was but a modest addition to Birchby's bankroll, nothing compared to the "Become a Poker Pro" package. However, Birchby said it was a nice distraction.

Interestingly, Birchby again had pocket aces while playing online, this time while playing a PokerRoom.com "Ace of Aces" tournament. Again, he made a big raise pre-flop and was called, only to see his rockets fall to an inferior hand.

His opponent held pocket eights and when the river card fell, Birchby was yelling "no eight." Of course, the eight fell and Birchby could only laugh. Throughout the day's bad beats, Birchby held a winning attitude.

"If you're going to lose a tournament, you might as well do it somewhere tropical," Birchby said.

Playing online under the alias MarvinGarden, Birchby said he tries to sit at the computer 5-6 days a week, but finds it difficult considering he's starting his own business in his native Southern California.

Birchby will open his Coola Sunscreen Company in two months with his girlfriend and business partner Kristen Burrows, who also was a cruise guest (and did quite well in the "Friends and Media Tournament" on Saturday night).

Birchby's products are currently available for viewing at coolasunblock.com.

Most of his original business investments for the sun block company came from online poker winnings. He promised his girlfriend when he started playing poker that they would do something together to make up for the time spent in front of computer monitors.

A new joint business seemed agreeable to both.

If all goes to plan, Birchby hopes to make poker a full-time career in the next couple years using profits from the new business to further his bankroll.

"We're really excited about the company launch and we've received a ton of support from friends and players in the PokerRoom.com community," Birchby said. "I'd love to be a professional player, but I have other things I want to accomplish first."

At the "Become a Poker Pro" tournament's conclusion, Birchby was there to see Jim Davenport win the inaugural title, offering the new champion a high-five and warning the other players that it would be his crown next year.

He echoed this sentiment later that night in the final toast, telling his competitors-turned-friends that they should all make plans to be back again next year.

"This was a great event and even if I knew that I was going to be the first one out, I'd still have come," Birchby said. "I hope they have this event again next year. I'll definitely be trying hard to get back."

Birchby said he still plans to play plenty of online poker. His current obsession is qualifying for the World Series of Poker through PokerRoom.com's Ace of Aces tournaments running all this month.

Davenport Becomes Poker's Newest Professional

 

When Jim Davenport's friend became sick with cancer three and a half years ago, he and a group of his University of Southern California (Berkeley) friends decided to support their buddy by shaving their heads and staying in on the weekends.

In their new-found downtime, the group of friends Davenport calls the CORE took up the game of poker, playing for dimes and quarters and learning the subtle nuisances of a variety of poker games.

Eventually, his friend recovered and Davenport was able to resume normal young adult activities. The CORE members took off to their own corners of the world, but what remained behind for Davenport from those days at USC was his love of poker.

What started as a way to pass time soon became a passion for Davenport, who won the inaugural PokerRoom.com "Become a Poker Pro" tournament on March 5th, securing the title of professional poker player and a prize package worth $250,000 just two years after playing his first hand online.

"I'm still so nervous," the 25-year old Davenport said after winning the tournament. "I measure success in being able to wake up in the morning and being excited about going to work. I legitimately love my new job (as an investment banker in Southern Calif.), and I feel like if I didn't win, I would still go home a winner. But they're not sponsoring me through the poker circuit, so now I have a new employer."

PokerRoom.com's "Become a Poker Pro" tournament began as an idea in the summer of 2005. Rather than invest money in a professional pitchman, PokerRoom.com officials decided to go with an amateur representative as their public face.

The new poker pro will captain Team PokerRoom, a compilation of PokerRoom.com satellite winners that have represented the Web site internationally by playing in the world's major tournaments after earning a seat online.

The "Become a Poker Pro" package includes a $60,000 stipend and 12 entries into major tournaments worldwide over the next year. Included with those entry fees are airfare, lodging and other travel costs.

Last September, PokerRoom.com invited 69 of their players to square off online for a chance to board a Caribbean-bound cruise ship and become the Web site's first professional player.

Invitees were limited to those players who had won major tournament qualifiers on the website in order to ensure that the eventual champion had the proper amount of "big game" experience.

Davenport secured a top ten finish in that online tournament, receiving his invitation to fly down to Miami and play at a final table aboard the "Majesty of the Seas" cruise ship.

Davenport had 82,600 chips going into the event, good enough for sole possession of fourth place. The chip leader had 103,700 chips.

Two days after boarding the ship, Davenport had possession of all the chips and PokerRoom.com officially offered him a professional sponsorship.

As part of the agreement, Davenport will play in nearly all the major poker events this year, including the World Series of Poker Main Event, the World Poker Tour Bellagio 5 Diamond Classic in Las Vegas, and the World Poker Tour Final also at the Bellagio.

"We are very excited for Jim and our company. This is a major milestone for both of us," PokerRoom.com spokesperson Glenn M. Cademartori said. "Jim is a big time player on our site and we are excited he'll be representing Team PokerRoom in the upcoming year."

Although the WSOP and the WPT tournaments offer Davenport the best chance at continued prestige, poker's newest professional said he's most excited about playing at the Aviation Club in France, another tournament entry fee paid for by PokerRoom.com.

"I'm most excited about the Aviation Club in France, and playing in Monte Carlo, Davenport said. "I'm a big traveler and I've been to Vegas a thousand times since I live in Southern California, so I'm really excited to go overseas and play in Europe."

Currently, Davenport is working as an investment banker; a job he says was another of his dream occupations. Although he's hesitant to leave this full-time profession, he believes poker is a passion he must follow while the opportunity is there.

As his playing ability grew over the past couple years, so did his passion for the game.

After winning a few dollars off friends in college, Davenport realized he had some potential in the sport. He went online and found PokerRoom.com two years ago, registered as JDtrojan3, and things took off from there.

"Poker is just a passion of mine," Davenport said. "I love the game."

Davenport started off playing $5 and $10 sit-and-go tournaments online, only allowing himself to play for higher stakes once his bankroll was secure. Texas Hold'Em tournaments became his staple game.

His first major tournament victory was a $40 online qualifier to the 2005 WSOP Main Event. He enjoyed the WSOP event, but didn't play well enough to finish in the money.

He attended that event with Ryan Rufe (Parma, Ohio), a popular PokerRoom.com player who also played in the "Become a Poker Pro" tournament and finished in third.

Davenport painfully knocked Rufe out of the "Become a Poker Pro" tournament on March 5th after flipping over a pair of jacks, but, before Rufe walked away, he whispered to Davenport one last piece of advice – don't be afraid to check the nuts in heads up play.

"I asked Rufe what he thought about checking a monster heads up and he said I should go for it," Davenport said.

When Davenport faced off against Bill Pero heads up for the tournament prize, he peeked at his hole cards and found A-Q offsuit. He checked the hand and caught an ace on the flop – checking that bet as well.

Eventually, he forced Pero to put all his chips in the pot, taking the tournament with the nuts and fulfilling a lifelong dream to become a poker professional. He never stopped thanking Rufe after the game.

Support during the event was never an issue for Davenport. His girlfriend Kimberly Lansing by his side the entire tournament, agonizing with Davenport over every raise, check, and call.

As a freelance writer for People Magazine, Lansing had a chance to cover the Oscars that weekend, but chose instead to support her boyfriend. When asked if she had any regrets, Lansing said she wouldn't have missed this tournament for the world.

She even loaned him her bobby pin, which he used as a card protector. The other players gave him grief for the shiny gift, but he used the pin every hand. Once the tournament was complete, Davenport kissed the pin and vowed to never play without it.

"He loves the game and he was the one who taught me how to play," the 24-year old Lansing said. "I was there when he won the online qualifier. When he's in online tournaments, I like to sit and watch him play. There was no way I was going to miss this one."

Now that he's the official PokerRoom.com champion, Davenport said he plans to practice his land-based game a lot more. Although he'll continue to play online, he wants to sharpen his live game skills for his entries into the big tournaments.

But before he gets to work on his poker career, Davenport wanted to make sure those who supported him during his run got their thanks.

"This is about all the people who helped me, my friends, my family, my girlfriend," Davenport said during the late night celebrations. "I'm lucky to be here."

Bluff Magazine Crosses the Atlantic

 

America's #1 poker magazine, 'Bluff', is crossing the Atlantic to delight European poker lovers with its unique and eclectic mix of news, view and expert tips from Poker's finest exponents.

Written for real players by real poker professionals, Bluff Europe will be available in the UK and mainland Europe from March, making it Europe's first and only lifestyle magazine dedicated to the poker enthusiast.

The combination of high-quality content and precisely-targeted distribution mechanism means that Bluff Europe will appeal to - and reach - a wide European audience, many of whom will be seeking a tournament, challenge or simply, new poker room to try.

In addition to its UK & Continental European card room distribution channels, the publishers of Bluff Europe are in the process of acquiring additional distribution partners so that anyone in Europe can purchase a copy at major book sellers.

The move into Europe marks an important milestone for the hugely-popular magazine, which has achieved an impressive US circulation of 250,000 in just two years.

Features Editor, Philip Conneller, says: "With Bluff's winning blend of entertainment and information, we are confident that we can replicate the success achieved in the US for our readers and our advertisers. The time is right. And this is too-good an opportunity to miss!"

Editor in Chief, Michael Caselli, added, "The poker lifestyle in Europe is a different animal to that in the US. Bluff Europe reflects that. Where poker goes, we will follow."

Study: Pennsylvania Resort Impact Minimal

 

As reported by the Tribune Democrat: "A new study emphasizes that Seven Springs Mountain Resort's plans for a 500 slot-machine casino would cater mostly to existing clientele and would not radically transform the resort or the countryside that surrounds it.

"'This is not going to change who we are or what our guests have come to love about Seven Springs,' resort President Scott Bender said. 'And, because it's an additional amenity to our guests, we do not anticipate many issues, or even a lot of change.'

"Seven Springs is one of two resorts in the state that have applied for two available $5 million licenses designated for resorts. If both prove eligible, each should gain a license.

"…The study focuses mostly on transportation systems.

"…Officials say that significant tax revenue and economic growth would stem from a casino at the resort, which already is among the largest area employers…"

Micronesian Casino Deal Signed

 

 As reported by the Saipan Tribune: "Tinian moved a step closer to becoming Micronesia's Las Vegas, with two companies now in the process of establishing hotel casinos on the island.

"Representatives of the Marianas Resort Development Co. Inc. and the Department of Public Lands signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday in relation to a new $170-million casino and golf course project on Tinian.

"MRDC comes in addition to Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino, which has been operating since 1998, and Bridge Investment Group, which also looks to invest about $150 million in a new hotel casino.

"…Phase I of the project will be completed after an initial investment of more than $170 million. It will involve the construction of a 300-room hotel casino, with 100 full suites and 200 junior suites, four full-service restaurants, a spa, wedding chapel, shopping arcade, and a convention facility that will accommodate 600 people…"

Michigan Casino Proposal Face New Laws

 

 As reported by the Port Huron Times: "Port Huron has two groups vying to build a tribal casino in the city.

"One effort got approval from city voters in 2001. The question now is, would the new effort require a similar vote - or even a statewide referendum under Michigan's new gambling law?

"Lawyers are working to find out.

"Port Huron Development of Clinton Township announced plans Monday for a 500-room hotel, casino and indoor water park on 20 downtown acres and extensive renovations to McMorran Place.

"In addition, the Bay Mills Indian Community of Brimley is waiting federal approval to allow the tribe to operate a casino near the Thomas Edison Inn. The issue remains stalled in Congress.

"Bay Mills and inn owner Don Reynolds were partners on the casino idea. Port Huron voters in June 2001 approved bringing a casino to the city. Then-Gov. John Engler approved the Bay Mills deal in 2002, which allowed the tribe to swap Upper Peninsula land near Charlotte Beach for rights to the spot at the Port Huron hotel.

"…The ballot language, however, didn't specify what casino, what Indian tribe or where the casino would be built. State law also changed after Engler approved the Bay Mills-Port Huron deal. It now requires a statewide vote on new casinos…"

Harrah's Releases Impact Report

 

 As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "If you're at least 21 and living in Allegheny County, Harrah's is counting on you to lose $400 at its slot machines during the casino's first business year. By year four, if you're not sick of losing, you'll be expected to forfeit $521 annually.

"Harrah's Entertainment rationalizes its higher-than-industry-average slots projections by touting its nationwide network of customers and its ability to route customers from distant locales to its dozens of properties.

"Even so, Harrah's, in an economic impact study submitted to the state, says it expects that nearly three-fourths of its $531.4 million in annual slots revenue will come from residents of Allegheny County. J

"ust a small share of customers will come from beyond a 100-mile radius, according to the impact statement submitted to the state.

"…That average spending of $400 per person jumps when you consider that up to 40 percent of Allegheny County's gambling-age population won't visit the casino even once. That means the remaining 60-plus percent will have to pick up the slack, losing $650 or so in the first year.

"Fortunately, you won't have to spend it all at once…"

Hamas Closes Casino

 

 As reported by the Arutz Sheva: "The Oasis Casino, which sometimes had a daily turnover of close to a million dollars, was built in Jericho after the signing of the Oslo Accords, over ten years ago. In 1999, it made a profit of $54 million from the close to 2,900 people who visited the casino daily - 99% of them Israelis.

"The casino shut down in late 2000, a month after the PA started the Oslo War, after its roof was used for terrorist gunfire attacks at Israeli targets. The building was heavily damaged by Israeli retaliatory fire, and though it was later refurbished, it has never re-opened.

"In September 2005, the German weekly 'Focus' reported that Austrian businessman Martin Schlaff, a co-owner of the casino, tried to bribe PM Sharon into re-opening the casino earlier than planned. The reports stated that Schlaff allegedly funneled some $4.5 million into Sharon family bank accounts, possibly via Sharon's friend Cyril Kern, in exchange for a decision to re-open the casino. This took place, the reports state, in February 2002, 16 months after the casino was closed.

"Another Sharon controversy regarding the casino involved the Prime Minister's top aide Dov Weisglass…"

WPT Boot Camp Event Stops in Reno

 

 Imagine sitting down with a handful of great poker pros to learn the true insider techniques that lead to million dollar victories at World Poker Tour® Final Tables. There will be 100 aspiring poker players living this scenario on March 30, 31 and April 1 when the WPT Boot Camp Champions Event makes a stop at the Reno Hilton in Reno, Nevada.

WPT host Mike Sexton will lead an all-star team of instructors that includes T.J. Cloutier, Mark Seif, Clonie Gowen and Linda Johnson. These pros will cover sophisticated poker tactics that should add to the cache of tools already possessed by students, and help trainees reach their goal of a WPT Final Table.

The weekend's learning experience begins when students take their VIP seats at the taping of a WPT Final Table being held at the Reno Hilton. It is there that students see exactly what happens at the final stage of a WPT tournament and discover how poker's elite handle the situations that evolve. In the days that follow, students rub elbows with some of poker's top stars and are treated to two full days of instruction. Lastly, attendees get a shot at beating the pros during a private No-Limit Hold'em Tournament. The instructors will be competing alongside students for the grand prize -- a WPT Main Event seat. But throughout the tournament students will have the chance to knock pros out of the game and receive $500, plus the right to gloat to poker chums back home.

This three-day encounter culminates with an elegant awards banquet where the tournament winner receives his or her WPT Main Event seat and money for hotel and travel expenses. The victor will also be bestowed with an etched glass trophy and official red WPT Boot Camp Champions Event jacket.

"The WPT Boot Camp Champions Event gives poker fans the chance to learn from pros in an intimate setting. Each instructor teaches hour-long breakout sessions in front of about a dozen students. This allows attendees to interact directly with the pros, and offers a quality learning experience. It really is the chance of a lifetime," says WPT Boot Camp co-founder Ron Rubens.

In breakout sessions instructors talk about the specific skills that have led to their success. Sexton deals with heads-up play. Seif addresses the art of "reading" competitors. Cloutier gives winning tips he's developed over decades. Gowen reveals how to handle difficult flops, and Johnson discusses cash games. There are also sessions about advanced betting strategy and secrets for online success.

The March WPT Boot Camp Champions Event taking place at Reno Hilton will be one of only two such sessions conducted in 2006, and enrollment is limited to 100 people. The cost is $2,895, which includes a seat at the private tournament and fabulous awards banquet, as well as breakfasts, lunches and cocktails with the poker pros.

The WPT Boot Camp Champions Event is an extension of WPT Boot Camp, which is an authentic instructional seminar featuring an integrated curriculum that includes live lectures, archived WPT video footage, game play and personal tips from poker superstars. These exciting two-day camps tutor students on all aspects of competitive, tournament Texas Hold'em Poker. Using uniquely developed courseware and World Poker Tour tournament video footage, students receive hands-on training filled with tips and tools to help them better understand the "tells," "reads," and strategies integral to improving their game. A portion of the coursework is based on Sexton's book, WPT: Shuffle Up and Deal. Instruction comes from Sexton and many other pro players who are considered the most dynamic, highly regarded poker champions in the world.

WPT Boot Camp is the brainchild of Ron Rubens and Steven Berman, co-founders of River Gaming, LLC. The duo developed the program after years of work in the gaming industry and prior experience producing instructional seminars. River Gaming is a licensee of WPTE, which holds an ownership interest in the WPT Boot Camp.

"The first WPT Boot Camp Champions Event was a huge success,' Berman said. "It gave a lot of aspiring poker pros the ammunition to go out and be successful in their local card rooms. We received a bunch of emails from students in the months that followed stating how hugely successful they'd become at the green felt."

The current cost for enrolling in a regular WPT Boot Camp is $1,695.00. Classes typically sell out well in advance, so it is advisable that interested parties register early.

Trump Plans Addition to Taj Mahal

 

 As reported by the Press of Atlantic City: "Rising 485 feet above Atlantic City, it will give Donald Trump's gaming empire some much-needed upward mobility.

"Plans were submitted Tues-day for a 45-story addition to the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort that will serve as the centerpiece of the company's post-bankruptcy turnaround.

"Besides the financial benefits, the new 800-room hotel tower will allow Trump to reclaim bragging rights for Atlantic City's tallest building. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, which tops out at 479 feet, eclipsed the Taj Mahal's existing 42-story tower by 64 feet when it opened in 2003. Now Trump will take back the title by a mere 6 feet.

"…Architectural renderings show the Trump name emblazoned on the top of the tower in gigantic letters. Pending regulatory approvals, construction of the estimated $250 million project is expected to begin in June, with completion by summer 2008.

"…Since emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy last May, the company has slashed its debt, reduced interest payments by $102 million annually and secured a $500 million line of credit to spruce up and expand its three aging casinos.

"The new tower is the next phase of a capital plan that started last year with $110 million in renovations to the Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and Trump Marina Hotel Casino…"

OasisCasino.com Offers March Madness Contest

 

 OasisCasino.com, online sportsbook, casino & racebook is getting ready to tip-off another NCAA tournament with its $5,000 March Madness Bracket Buster contest. The free online contest yields a $5,000 Grand Prize to the contestant that correctly predicts the most winning teams in each of the sixty-five (65) games held during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

"NCAA's March Madness is considered one of the most competitive tournaments in all of sports", said Randolph Shea, OasisCasino.com Director of Corporate Communication. "Our $5,000 March Madness Bracket Buster contest is an opportunity to give each OasisCasino.com customer the opportunity to experience all the excitement that is associated with one of the sports industry's greatest spectacles."

Brackets for the NCAA Tournament will be finalized on Selection Sunday, which takes place March 12th. The $5,000 Bracket Buster contest begins on March 16th. For more details and contest rules, please visit OasisCasino.com.

OasisCasino.com, founded in 1997, is licensed in and operates out of Willemstad, Curacao, N.A. OasisCasino.com offers both free access and wagering accounts for all Las Vegas scheduled sporting events, the largest number of interactive casino games on the internet and a full service racebook.

Local Council Supports Carlisle Casino

 

 As reported by the UK News & Star: "Plans to bring a casino to Carlisle have won the backing of the council.

"…Councillors meeting last night voted to put Carlisle's name forward as a venue for one of 17 new casinos to be opened as the Government relaxes gambling laws.

"…A report from the council's director of development services, Catherine Elliot, said a casino could attract tourists, create jobs and support an up-market hotel.

"…The city's name will now go forward to a panel advising the Government on where the new casinos should be.

"…The plans include one super casino, which would be likely to be in Blackpool, and 16 others across the country…"

Gambling.com Hot off the Press

 

 The premiere issue of Gambling.com Magazine debuts in style this month.

A full-colour lifestyle glossy publication, the only independent VIP magazine written for online high-rollers is targeting the 50,000 most active Platinum Members of the self-same titled Gambling.com website.

With an intended readership of over 100,000, editor Michael Caselli says, "With high production values, it's the careful blend of entertainment, strategy and cutting edge design, along with a degree of synergy with content from the website that makes this magazine a cut above the rest. This is very much a 'coffee-table style' magazine which we believe will have a very long 'shelf life' and our readers will be able to refer to time and time again."

An international magazine that's primarily about online gambling and the excitement and glitz one associates with the jet set lifestyle of high rollers to Las Vegas, it's fitting that the first issue should feature one of the ultimate in jet setters – Richard Branson, who tells us why he needs to live life on the edge, why he wears a goatee and the biggest gamble he's ever taken.

Other features include an inside look at Fifty, London's most exclusive adult playground; an interview with Jennifer Harman, the world's greatest high stakes female poker player who tells us what it's like to play in the richest game of all time; Andy Bloch on how he broke the bank with the MIT blackjack team; America's leading handicapper, Jim Feist, on March Madness, and much, much more.

"It's important to recognize and acknowledge the loyalty of our most active and committed members by giving them something of added value in return. We already communicate and send them special offers by email, however our Platinum Members have welcomed their elevated status, and we believe they will welcome the magazine as a further extension of a brand to which they have great affinity. " Said Tim Rosenberg, Gambling.com MD.

Over the years Gambling.com has developed a loyal community of gaming enthusiasts, with the Gambling.com Member's Arena providing a gateway to a wide range of some of the best and most trusted gaming sites on the internet. It also now offers its Platinum Members free casino games and tournament freerolls for cash prizes along with exclusive access to all other areas of the website. The new bi-monthly magazine along with personalized cover letter is delivered free directly to their door giving them an additional way to engage with Gambling.com and to read exclusive articles and receive special offers from the top online casinos.

Gambling Foes Plan Legislative Move

 

 Supporters of an Internet gambling ban may try this week to add the prohibition to lobbying reform legislation on the Senate floor.

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., on Tuesday, said he may offer an online wagering ban amendment as early as today.

Online gambling revenues reached $10.9 billion in 2005, according to the research firm eMarketer. The exact number of gambling Web sites is uncertain, but the total is believed much higher than the 1,800 that existed in 2000.

Kyl, who has been trying to outlaw Internet gambling for more than a decade, was asked if the industry may have become too large and powerful to be banned.

"That is a concern," he said.

Meanwhile, Kyl has gained a Democratic ally -- Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas -- in pushing for an Internet gambling ban.

"Basically, the way the Internet has functioned is that it's really opened a lot of communities -- a lot of people to gambling that otherwise they couldn't do," Pryor said.

One of the reasons Kyl and other lawmakers are renewing efforts to ban Internet gambling is the fall of Jack Abramoff, a once-powerful lobbyist who pleaded guilty in January to three felonies in a fraud and bribery case.

Abramoff, who is cooperating in a federal investigation of corruption in Congress, has been accused of killing a House bill in 2000 by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., that would have banned online wagering.

Abramoff collaborated with an aide to then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, to defeat the proposed ban because it would have put one of his clients out of business, according to the Washington Post.

Ironically, DeLay is one of 118 co-sponsors of Goodlatte's bill this year.

Goodlatte re-introduced his bill on Feb. 16, saying Abramoff had been responsible for "widespread disinformation" about the 2000 measure.

Pryor said he agrees.

"It did appear that there were clearly some shenanigans on the House side perpetuated by Abramoff and (Republican consultant) Ralph Reed and others that basically cost the bill its passage," Pryor said.

Sharyn Stein, a spokeswoman for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, said he will not decide how he will vote on the Kyl-Pryor amendment until he has had a chance to review it.

"In the past, Senator Reid has opposed Internet gambling because he has not been convinced it can be regulated by the same strict standards as casinos in Nevada," Stein said.

Calls to Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., were not returned.

Suncoast, Rampart Don't Fear New Resort

 

 Station Casinos opens its Red Rock Resort next month, but its nearest competitors aren't quaking in their boots.

The $925 million casino at the intersection of the Las Vegas Beltway and Charleston Boulevard has been touted by those who have toured it as being not only clearly better than all other locals casinos, but as good as any on the Strip.

Pretty big praise, so you might think the operators of the Suncoast and Rampart casinos would be worried about losing business.

They're not.

"All of our customers are going to want to go see the Red Rock," said Rampart co-owner Bill Paulos. "Everybody's going to want to see the Red Rock. Station does a helluva a job; those guys (the Fertitta brothers, Station's top executives and owners) do a great job.

"But we have a niche casino at Rampart. We have a base of customers who like the feel of what we do."

The Suncoast, operated by Boyd Gaming's Coast Casinos subsidiary, won't lose too much business either. The property's been open for more than five years, and Coast Chief Executive Michael Gaughan isn't worried about the casino losing long-term business to Red Rock.

Red Rock is a bit more than two miles away from the Suncoast and a little farther from the Rampart. Gaughan said recently that the Las Vegas Valley's growth, particularly in and around Summerlin, will insulate Suncoast from the impact of the April opening of Red Rock.

"The town's just exploding, and Suncoast won't take the hit you might think," Gaughan said.

Paulos laughed when he was asked if Station had given him a tour of the property - other Las Vegas casino owners have, bosses who weren't as directly competitive.

"No, they haven't asked me, but I'm anxious to go," Paulos said. "I want to see what you can get for almost a billion dollars."

Gaughan said new slot systems in place at his South Coast and Suncoast will soon be expanded to Coast's Orleans and Gold Coast casinos. The new systems allow the casinos to give customers free slot play as an inducement to come in and gamble and as a reward for previous play.

Station has long offered a system with that capability, but Gaughan said that he won't try other Station-style marketing to lure slot players.

While Gaughan lures gamblers in with mailers promising substantial rewards to top players, Station takes more of a shotgun approach, offering Jumbo Jackpots at random to slot players and inexpensive gifts on its mailers.

"The difference between me and Station is they run a lottery," Gaughan said. "I reward my better players."

Paulos said he and partner Bill Wortman are finalizing their plans to convert the Nevada Palace on Boulder Highway to a Cannery brand.

"We hope to be pushing dirt by the end of the year," Paulos said.

The partners' North Las Vegas Cannery is two months away from opening a major expansion that will include 14 movie theaters, a big race and sports book, a poker room and an Italian restaurant and deli.

Behind the decision to expand was a gradually growing customer base boosted by the increasing number of people living in close proximity to the Cannery.

"In most other businesses you have to build enough capacity for your average business, but in the locals casino business you have to build for your peak business," Paulos said. "The Cannery is doing very, very well."

Report Could Delay Quebec Casino Plans

 

 As reported by the 940 News: "The Coulombe Report, comissioned by the province to evaluate the Peel Basin Casino project, could put the plans to move the casino on the backburner, according to a report in La Presse.

"Guy Coulombe, former head of Hydro Quebec, has reporteldy issued a long list of considereations that the province will need to evaluate before giving the casino project the green light.

"…This revision of the 1-billion dollar project apparently comes as a surprise. La Presse reports that only a few months ago, the government was expecting a document advising it to go ahead with the casino and recreational tourist attraction."

Questions Still Surround Boyd's Pennsylvania Project

 

 As reported by the Philadelphia Daily News: "When Boyd Gaming Corp. announced its intention to build a slots parlor in this township just across the border from Chester County, residents were left with many questions about the project and its effect on the community.

"Two months later, most of those questions have not been answered.

"At a meeting last week, Boyd officials shed some light on several of the pressing issues facing area residents.

"For example, would a Las Vegas-based company that owns casinos the likes of the Borgata in Atlantic City and has six major projects currently in the works around the country find its way to a big field along Route 422 between Pottstown and Royersford?

"Blake Cumbers, vice president of development for Boyd, said that like real estate, the top three factors in siting a casino are location, location, location.

"…Cumbers said Boyd discovered Chelsea's proposal for the Philadelphia Premium Outlets only after the gaming company settled on Limerick. The site is insulated from the potential threat of expanded gaming in neighboring states because it is far enough away from state lines, he said.

"…Boyd is projecting 65 percent of its patrons to come from the Philadelphia area, where casino-goers will have the option of an hour-and-a-half commute to Atlantic City, N.J., or a 45-minute drive to Limerick. Except for table games, the Limerick site would offer plenty of similar amenities in addition to Chelsea's massive high-end retail outlet center, which features more than twice the amount of shops in Atlantic City.

"When the project, which is planned in phases, is finished, the result will be a $650 million casino, hotel and conference center. There will be 600 hotel rooms and suites, 5,000 slot machines, seven restaurants, meeting and convention facilities, retail shops, an entertainment lounge and a parking garage…"

Las Vegas Workers Try to Stay Afloat

 

 As a host of older hotels are torn down in the coming years to make way for the biggest building boom in Las Vegas history, the longtime landmarks will yield to taller, glitzier and much more expensive casino resorts.

For many Strip workers employed at the current hotels, enthusiasm over that renaissance is mitigated by one nagging question: Will I have a job?

Even for the fortunate ones for whom the answer is yes, there still is the worry about how to get by between when the old hotel closes and the new one opens.

For many, severance payments can soften that difficult transition, giving workers a financial cushion until their next job while also allowing companies to maintain goodwill until those employees are needed again.

The problem is, some workers might not know about such payments ahead of time.

Companies generally do not advertise severance payments out of concern that people will take the money before making a good faith effort to find another job. Management also is concerned that the information will set a precedent.

Worker assistance has become a top priority of the Culinary Union, which represents nearly 60,000 hospitality workers on the Strip.

The Culinary Union recently negotiated a historic agreement with Boyd Gaming Corp. that will include severance payments for eligible union workers at the Stardust, a property to be torn down next year to make way for a $4-billion casino resort and hotel development.

Boyd is offering the same severance payments and other benefits for nonunion workers at the Stardust, which employs about 1,900 people.

The union hopes the deal, which will likely cost in the millions of dollars, will set a precedent on the Strip as future properties are torn down for redevelopment.

"We don't think this will be the last one that will close and be blown up for something new," Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer D. Taylor said of the Stardust.

The Stardust severance payments will be based on years of service and apply to people employed after July 1 - a formula designed to keep workers around while redevelopment planning is under way. Workers with more than 20 years of experience will receive $10,000, with payments declining on a sliding scale to $1,000 for those employed for less than a year.

Boyd also has agreed to a "card check" procedure at Echelon Place - the union's preferred method of organizing workers and the means by which the Culinary has organized nearly all of the properties on the Strip over the past several years.

The company will give all of its workers preferential hiring at other company properties, including Echelon Place, the upscale resort complex that will open at the Stardust site by 2010.

Boyd is not the only company to open its wallet to displaced workers.

When MGM Mirage laid off about 700 employees at the now-closed Boardwalk casino to make way for a $7-billion collection of resort hotels and condos, most of those workers retired or ended up taking jobs elsewhere.

For the 100 or so people who could not find work after attending company job fairs, there was a surprise at the end - a severance check, plus paid medical coverage under the federal COBRA insurance plan.

The Boardwalk was a nonunion property, so the payments applied to all workers unable to find jobs at other properties.

The payments ranged from a month's pay for workers with less than a year of service to up to six months' pay for those with more than 10 years of service.

Rather than publicizing the humanitarian gesture, though, MGM Mirage kept the information close to the vest.

Severance payments are not company policy or written in stone, MGM Mirage spokeswoman Yvette Monet said. They are made "at management's discretion."

The company also offered severance payments when the company's Mirage closed its "Siegfried & Roy" show after Roy Horn was seriously injured by a tiger during a performance. The Mirage is remodeling the theater for a Beatles-inspired Cirque du Soleil show expected to open in May.

Arte Nathan, head of human resources at Wynn Resorts, said hotels have used severance payments in a variety of situations such as closing entire casinos and parts of properties.

"These are case-by-case situations," Nathan said. "I think it depends on the economic situation of that closure and of the corporation. There are a lot of factors that go into a decision like that."

Like other Strip casinos, the Riviera has used severance payments to soften the blow of a layoff. Workers who were let go when a keno room and a poker room closed years ago, for example, were offered payments.

"If you start publicizing it, you can get locked into something," said Duane Krohn, chief financial officer of the Riviera's parent company. "Management will always try to treat people as fairly as they can. But it's a discretionary decision."

Because redeveloped properties will be much larger than their predecessors and many workers will move on to other jobs while the new resorts are being built, the transformations will leave operators in need of skilled workers.

The Culinary Training Academy, a partnership between the Culinary Union and Nevada Partners is spending $8 million to add nearly 30,000 square feet to its North Las Vegas job-training facility.

"We are always trying to stay at least slightly ahead of what is happening so we can respond," said Nevada Partners Executive Director and state Sen. Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas.

In the past, most laid-off employees have been able to find jobs elsewhere because of Las Vegas' strong economy, he said.

Nevada Partners officials meet regularly with representatives of each of the 30 hotels - mostly big Strip properties - that are also board members to make them aware of the free training and job placement services available, Horsford said.

Many more workers may be seeking those services over the next several years. The Boardwalk and Westward Ho are scheduled for demolition this year, while the Stardust and New Frontier are expected to come down in 2007.

The Imperial Palace is expected to be torn down and replaced as part of a master plan that parent company Harrah's Entertainment is creating for its properties on the east side of the Strip, including the Flamingo, Harrah's and O'Sheas. Harrah's also is looking to acquire the nearby Barbary Coast property from Boyd to include that site in the development plan.

The future of the Tropicana is still in limbo, though parent company Aztar Corp. is expected to decide within months whether it will keep the property as is or tear it down to make way for a resort estimated to cost at least $1.2 billion.

The Culinary Union signed an agreement with the Tropicana in June 2003 ensuring that union workers would receive priority hiring should the property be redeveloped.

Taylor calls severance payments "the right thing to do."

"These older properties have workers who have been extremely loyal," he said. "There's some value placed on that loyalty. I think there's been some appreciation of that."

The union also is "working quite hard to get these people placed" given that many are not ready to retire, Taylor said.

The number of Stardust union workers exceeds the number of union jobs available at Boyd's other properties in Las Vegas.

The Stardust agreement could set a precedent for other properties on the Strip because the union likely will press for it again, said David Hames, an associate professor of management and labor relations expert at UNLV's College of Business.

"It's good human resources management practice from the standpoint of maintaining goodwill, especially if they want to hire them back if they rebuild their properties," Hames said. "I think it's a positive step."

Global Casinos Reports Q2 Results

 

 Global Casinos, Inc. (OTCBB:GBCS) has announced its financial results for the second fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2005.

Casino revenues for the three months ended December 31, 2005, were $944,549 compared to $999,577 for the 2004, a decrease of $55,028 or 5.5%. The revenue decrease is primarily attributed to the completion of certain construction work performed in the town of Black Hawk in June 2005 that had the effect of driving customer traffic into the casino during the comparable period in 2004. This anticipated decrease in customer traffic during the quarter as compared to the same period in 2004 was partially offset by increased promotional efforts.

For the six months ended December 31, 2005, Casino revenues were $2,021,529 compared to $1,966,555 for the comparable period in fiscal 2005, an increase of $54,974 or 2.8%. The beginning of this six-month period still had some of the aforementioned construction, which drove additional traffic to the casino.

INCOME FROM OPERATION

Income from operation declined by $150,264 to $53,844 from $204,148 during the three months ended December 31, 2005, compared to 2004. Operating income decreased due to the reduction in revenues and increased promotional expenses. For the six months income from operations decreased by $133,300 or 30% to $289,860 as a result of the decreased revenues and increased promotional expenses.

NET INCOME

Net income was a loss of ($111,736) for the quarter ended December 31, 2005, compared to a net income of $860,254 for the quarter ending December 31, 2004, a decrease of $971,990. Diluted earnings per share were (0.03) for 2005 and $0.25 in 2004. For the six months ended December 31, 2005, net loss was ($44,030) compared to 2004 net income of $1,029,606, a reduction of $1,073,636. Diluted earnings per share were $(0.01) in 2005 and $0.34 for the comparable 2004 period. The results for 2005 include an interest charge of $336,180 versus $96,946 in 2004. This was due to the issuance of a 12% convertible debenture with detachable warrants and a beneficial conversion feature. These debentures were converted to equity on December 31, 2005, which will reduce those interest charges in future quarters. In 2004 there was a one-time gain of $705,034 for the six-month period due to actions taken to improve the Company's financial position.

Anti-Casino Group's Statements Criticized

 

 As reported by the Gettysburg Times: "A group supporting efforts to bring a casino to Adams County has called a preservation group's statements against the gaming facility "deliberately misleading."

"Pro-Casino of Adams County spokesman Jeff Klein, of Biglerville, said the Civil War Preservation Trust misled its members when it called the Gettysburg battlefield 'endangered,' and laid the blame on a casino proposed to be built within a mile of a portion of the battlefield.

" 'The thing they fail to mention is there's a brand new car dealership closer to East Cavalry Field than the casino is,' Klein said.

"He also pointed out Pella Windows and Adams County National Bank, two of the most visible businesses in the Adams Commerce Park, both closer to East Cavalry Field than the casino would be.

"Klein also noted the Gettysburg National Military Park has grown during the past 15 years, as the National Park Service acquired properties on its boundaries…"

WagerWeb.com Offers Knicks Odds

 

 The most recent win on Saturday has stretched the Knicks record to 16 wins on the season. However, even with the win they are on pace to challenge the current franchise record for fewest wins in a season. The current franchise low of only 21 victories has happened twice, in 1960-61 and again in 1962-63. However, in all fairness, both of those teams played only 80 or fewer games. The current Knicks are lucky enough to play 82, making the accomplishment deserving of much more attention.

"I have a feeling that this is not what Larry Brown expected when he left the Detroit Pistons," said WagerWeb.com CEO Dave Johnson. "The New York Knicks are one of the most underachieving teams in the NBA Basketball League. With the highest annual payroll in the entire NBA, at a little over $120,000,000, they have only notched 15 wins. The New Orleans Hornets have an annual payroll of only $48,000,000, and they have 31 wins under their belt. Money doesn't always buy wins in professional sports. The Knicks will break their current mark for losses with less than 5 wins in their 23 remaining games. We expect to take a large amount of money on 19-20 wins which will break the record."

South African Casino Revenues Up

 

 As reported by the South African Herald Online: "Revenue at the Boardwalk casino complex on the Port Elizabeth beachfront increased by 15% for the half year ended on December 31, as more foreign tourists descended on the city and South Africans splashed out more of their hard earned cash.

"The casino complex's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (Ebitda) also rose by 20% during the same period.

"On Friday, Sun International chief executive Peter Bacon attributed the increase in revenue at the Boardwalk to a combination of factors.

"These included increased market penetration, a stronger local economy, and more international tourists visiting the city as more cruise ships docked at the harbour.

"…In total the Sun International group revenue came in at R2,9-billion, 17% ahead of last year, which combined with an improvement in margins resulting in a 23% increase in Ebitda to R986-million…"

River Belle Online Sends Player to WSOP

 

 At the final table of the No-Limit Texas Hold'em World Series of Poker Main Event, the greatest poker players in the world are at war with each other, giving cold stares and making bluffs, painfully relinquishing chips until only one is left standing, ready to claim a fortune. But fortunes are made at more than one table at the World Series of Poker (WSOP).

This summer River Belle Online Poker will send one of its loyal players to compete in any or all of the 45 events at the 2006 World Series of Poker. Entry into the competition can be done in one of two ways: logging on to RiverBellePoker.com and finding the WSOP Multi Event promotion or by accessing the WSOP Multi Event tables in the Satellites tab of Multi-Table Tournaments in the River Belle Poker software. The final tournament to determine the River Belle representative at the WSOP is scheduled for May 20th, and players can enter into qualifying tournaments with buy-ins as low as $11+$1.

The winner will have one month to recuperate before a two month marathon of competitive poker in Las Vegas. They will arrive as the best player on the River Belle network and could leave as the best player in the world. To make the experience even more comfortable, River Belle will be including up to 60 nights of accommodation in a luxury suite at the Rio Hotel & Casino, round trip tickets for the player and their guest, plus $3,500 in spending money. All told, the lucky River Belle rep will be winning a prize package of more than $130,000, with an opportunity to experience the WSOP and win millions.

"This is an opportunity to live and breath poker for two months," said Tim Johnson, Chairman of Carmen Media Group, owners of Belle Rock Entertainment.

"This promotion is available to every single River Belle player. I wish everyone the best of luck as always, but in this case luck will only get your foot in the door. The rest is up to your skill and passion for poker."

Prairie Meadows Urged to Build Hotel

 

 As reported by the Des Moines Register: "State regulators are urging Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino to construct a hotel and parking garage to spur more business, contending the Altoona gambling operation is underperforming in its market.

"The Altoona track already has one of Iowa's most profitable gambling properties, raking in $174 million in gross casino revenue last year from 2.7 million customers who lost an average of $64 apiece.

"But Jack Ketterer, administrator of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, said Prairie Meadows has more potential for increasing its profits than any other Iowa casino.

"…[Prairie Meadows Chairman Jack Bishop] said he was reluctant to make any commitment to a hotel project because Prairie Meadows already has a $60 million expansion under construction. The county-owned business has a limited ability to borrow more money, he added, because Polk County voters will decide in 2010 whether casino gambling will continue…"

Kansas Lawmakers Delay Bill Again

 

 As reported by the Kansas City Star: "Yet again, Kansas lawmakers have delayed introducing a bill to expand state-run gambling that would include a casino for Kansas City, Kan.

"Leaders in the Senate said last week they would take the weekend to work out the kinks in the plan. They are also working to ensure they have the requisite 21 votes to pass the measure.

"Expanded gambling is never a sure bet in the Kansas Legislature. Bills to expand slot machines and casinos are always proposed, only to be defeated by anti-gambling lawmakers and competing gambling groups that want to push their specific interests.

"This year, with lawmakers under a court order to increase school funding by $400 million to $500 million, the pressure to pass expanded gambling is back. So are the challenges.

"…Lawmakers who support the provision say they want to ensure that all state-run gambling is free of corruption or conflicts of interest among lawmakers. Opponents of expanded gambling often raise the specter of corruption as a reason to vote against gambling.

"…Senate leaders have said for weeks that they wouldn't introduce the bill unless they had 21 votes. And week after week, the bill is delayed. Even if a gambling proposal passes the Senate, it faces another tough fight in the House, where representatives are up for re-election. Some lawmakers will be pressured to endorse gambling for local economic development; others will be pressured to vote against it…"

Delaware Brings in Gambling Machines

 

As reported by the Delaware State News: "New gambling machines could be coming to Delaware casinos in the fall.

"The state lottery office is soliciting bids from companies to provide multi-player machines offering electronic versions of games such as poker or blackjack.

"Unlike the traditional card games legal in places such as Atlantic City and Las Vegas, but not Delaware, the players would rely totally on luck.

"…A state law passed last year authorized the new machines, and the state lottery office is upgrading the computer system it uses to monitor machines to handle the multi-player versions.

"…The lottery office expects the new machines to be delivered in the fall, but will not have an exact date until it opens bids from machine suppliers in the spring…"

PinnacleSports.Com Releases Updated NCAA Tournament Odds

 

 Now that the regular season has ended, over 300 Division I men's basketball teams enter their conference tournaments this week hoping to earn an invite to "the big dance" for a shot at the national championship. With the field of 65 teams announced on Sunday, leading online sportsbook PinnacleSports.com today released updated odds to win the 2006 men's NCAA Basketball Tournament.

The largest sports betting site on the Internet, PinnacleSports.com has listed individual odds on several likely tournament-bound teams capturing the NCAA crown. Perhaps the nation's most talented team from top to bottom, the Connecticut Huskies are the odds-on favorites to win their third national championship under Jim Calhoun at 5/2 odds. Despite losing back-to-back games to Florida State and North Carolina, PinnacleSports.com lists Duke at 4/1 to survive "March Madness". Big East regular season co-champions Villanova currently stand at 8/1 to win the national championship while reigning champions North Carolina are at 10/1 to become the first repeat winners in over a decade. PinnacleSports.com lists the Texas Longhorns at 11/1 to add the men's basketball title to the BCS championship they won in January's Rose Bowl. Other teams that should be in contention for the national title include: Memphis (12/1); Ohio State (14/1); West Virginia (19/1); Illinois (21/1) and Florida (26/1).

In addition to offering odds on which team will win the national championship, PinnacleSports.com has also created a betting option on the Division I conference of the tournament winner. With likely number 1 seeds Connecticut and Villanova, the sixteen-team Big East is an overwhelming 7/5 favorite to win this year's NCAA tourney. PinnacleSports.com lists the Duke and North Carolina-led ACC with the second best odds at 14/5 followed by a deep Big 10 conference at 8/1 and the Big 12 at 9/1. With Memphis likely to earn a high seeding in the NCAA tournament, Conference USA is 11/1 to capture the title while the SEC and PAC-10 are at 20/1 and 23/1, respectively.

Las Vegas Targets Gay Target

 

 With an estimated $65 billion in annual expenditures, American homosexuals are one of the world's most sought-after leisure travel submarkets.

And Las Vegas, like other cities, aims to snag a larger slice of that pie.

Promoting this city to gays and lesbians requires a different approach than those favored by many competing destinations.

But armed with new research and an advertising campaign that's demonstrated strong multicultural appeal, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority recently unveiled its first gay promotional push.

Within the past two months, the agency funded by room taxes placed print ads in three prominent gay publications: The Advocate, Out, and Out Traveler.

The same ads have been used in nongay magazines -- evidence of the "What happens here, stays here" campaign's universal appeal -- said Terry Jicinsky, the authority's senior vice president of marketing. Still, he said the authority's latest rollout is the next phase in Las Vegas' ongoing quest to diversify its visitor base.

Popular gay getaways such as Key West, Fla.; Palm Springs, Calif.; and Provincetown, Mass.; promote themselves with promises that guests will enjoy a largely gay community.

Las Vegas, however, takes a marketing approach similar to New York's, which urges gays to experience the same art galleries, restaurants and shows that appeal to everyone else.

"We're trying to attract this subculture here to immerse them into the Las Vegas experience," Jicinsky said.

The authority does not plan to create gay-specific ads, but existing ads could be "tweaked" to include same-sex couples or scenarios that gays can easily associate with, he said.

"The 'single guy on the cell phone' ad was one that a lot of the male gay community could visualize themselves being part of," Jicinsky said, referencing a recent "What happens here, stays here" spot.

That television ad showed a young man asking his hotel operator to deliver a wake-up call to his cell phone. He's uncertain if he'll be in his room the next morning.

More TV exposure will follow. The authority this spring will sponsor three episodes of the Bravo cable network's popular "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" series.

The show will film in local casinos, and could produce a "making of" documentary that would later air on Logo, a gay and lesbian-themed television network tied with MTV, Jicinsky said.

Advertising on Logo is also planned.

With the authority's assistance, local businesses have hosted journalists from national and regional gay publications to capture "free media" coverage.

David Paisley, program manager with Community Marketing, a gay-oriented tourism research firm, said Las Vegas ranks among the world's best in the pursuit of gay travelers.

In addition to the authority, he praised Cirque du Soleil and local hotel operators, particularly MGM Mirage, for extending a welcoming message.

"Of any destination that's made progress in the last decade, Las Vegas has made the most," Paisley said.

From its headquarters in San Francisco's Castro District, Paisley's company recently analyzed more than 24,000 survey responses from homosexual travelers.

It reported U.S. gays and lesbians spend approximately $65 billion annually on travel, including 53 percent who dropped more than $5,000 per person on vacations the prior year.

Ninety-eight percent of those polled said a destination's "gay-friendly reputation" factored into their decision to travel there.

Respondents' ranked Las Vegas their second-favorite destination, with a 25 percent score.

That meant one in four gay travelers polled had visited the city within the past year, or planned to come here within 12 months' time.

Only New York (30 percent) scored better, trailed closely by San Francisco and Los Angeles/West Hollywood (24 percent each).

Community Marketing research shows that gay interest in Las Vegas has spiked in recent years as the city added more Broadway shows and gay headliners such as Elton John, who regularly performs at Caesars Palace.

"Gaming is not as important to gays as it is to the mainstream," Paisley added. Among gays, he said, "it's the shows, shopping and restaurants" that attract people to the city.

Homosexual business travel could also grow locally.

Las Vegas is a longtime sponsor of the Gay & Lesbian World Travel Expo, and the authority has actively courted gay-friendly travel agents and trade show producers. Those efforts are led by Mya Lake Reyes, its senior manager of diversity marketing.

"There are gay dentist groups, gay softball leagues. For every group that exists in the mainstream world, there is a gay and lesbian equivalent," Paisley said. "I think that Las Vegas, more and more, is going to go after those kinds of gay conventions."

Local leaders also want Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based civil rights organization promoting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality, to hold a conference or fund-raising dinner here, Jicinsky said.

Las Vegas' pro-gay push could benefit from an increasing celebration of homosexual culture within popular media circles.

The gay community's pop culture profile has boomed in recent years, as evidenced by Ellen DeGeneres' celebrated coming-out party in 1997, the recurring Big Gay Al and Mr. Slave characters in Comedy Central's "South Park" cartoon series, and the long-running success of the NBC television comedy "Will & Grace."

Tonight's Academy Awards show could set a new high-water mark.

The gay cowboy love story "Brokeback Mountain" is nominated in eight categories, including best picture and three of the four acting categories.

"Capote," a biographical look at celebrated gay writer Truman Capote, is up for five Oscars, including best picture and best actor honors for Philip Seymour Hoffman. Separately, "Desperate Housewives" star Felicity Huffman could be named best actress for her portrayal of a preoperative transsexual in "Transamerica."

Jicinsky noted that Las Vegas' marketing efforts predate this year's Oscar hoopla. And gay and lesbian travelers aren't the only demographic category receiving special attention from the convention authority.

Hispanics have been targets of specialized Las Vegas marketing efforts for approximately five years; initiatives aimed at black travelers began three years ago.

A new campaign targeting Asian-Americans is being planned.

Las Vegas Faces Labor Shortage

 

A 'material lack of qualified labor in Las Vegas over the next several years' threatens new casinos and high-rise condominiums being developed here, a Deutsche Bank study found.

"Despite the phenomenal growth of Las Vegas, the construction talent pool is not deep enough to provide the needed labor to build all currently announced projects," Deutsche Bank analyst Marc Falcone said. "We believe if all announced and anticipated projects were to proceed before the end of the decade, a significant portion would not get off the ground given the limited depth of the construction talent pool, most importantly subcontractors."

Brian Gordon, a partner in the Las Vegas-based financial consulting firm Applied Analysis, agreed that the level of investment being discussed, an estimated $10 billion to $15 billion in new construction over five years, makes labor and material supplies a concern.

"The question is whether the supply chain can keep up with planned development," he said. "We've seen employment up more than 12 percent over the last year, really a record pace. You have to ask yourself whether there are even enough bodies to fill the necessary construction positions. That question has yet to be answered."

Falcone said labor shortages have also created market pressures that have let subcontractors raise prices and be selective about project work. The higher prices have also pinched general contractors and delayed projects.

These market pressures are having a greater effect on inexperienced and independent developers, especially those not based in Las Vegas, Falcone said.

"The result has been some well-known developers are throwing in the towel on Las Vegas," he said.

"What we're having here isn't a demand constraint," real estate analyst Richard Lee said of the failed projects. "It's a situation that nobody predicted. The No. 1 problem is construction costs and lack of skilled labor."

Deutsche Bank's study suggested that MGM Mirage's Project CityCenter alone could use more than half of the licensed subcontractors in Las Vegas. Some general contractors, such as Perini Building Co., have limited flexibility to take on additional projects given their full pipelines.

Perini Chairman Dick Rizzo, in a recent conference call, told Wall Street analysts and investors the limited number of trade workers, general contractors and subcontractors, controls, or limits, growth in Las Vegas for now.

Because of the returns on investment, anything built on the Strip, especially casinos and hotel-condominiums, will likely get built, he said. The developers of these projects will be able to pay the wage and salary premiums to lure the workers they need.

"You're competing against a billion-dollar monstrosity," said Jim Stuart, co-founder of Centra Properties and a partner with actor George Clooney in the planned Las Ramblas condo project. "The gaming giants can afford to play in this market and anybody other than the three or four biggest companies in town have tremendous pricing issues to deal with."

Plumbers, electricians and ironworkers are hot commodities for union and nonunion jobs. Subcontractors say they've held back from bidding on projects for fear of not getting the labor. Their biggest problem isn't winning the bid, but staffing the bids they win.

"We do a labor forecast, we work on it on a daily basis. It's the hardest challenge -- you can't take work and just expect that you're going to get 50 or 60 guys for help," said Jim Manning, president of Interstate Plumbing and Air Conditioning.

He said he uses nonunion labor but pays union-competitive wages, offers benefits, training and a 401(k) to his workers in an effort to retain them.

"It feels like you're in a bidding war for your own people," Manning said, adding that the shortage keeps him from taking some jobs.

Although the cost of building materials are leveling off, construction costs have climbed high enough that no high-rise project can be built for less than $400 per square foot, which means units have to sell for $800 per square foot to $1,000 per square foot to turn a profit.

Other factors the Deutsche Bank study cites for crimping Las Vegas development include the time it takes to build a major resort; a 25 percent increase in construction costs over the past six months; rising interest rates and the added risks they create; the escalating cost of land; and the permitting process, which now takes twice as long to complete as it has historically.

The price of steel, diesel fuel and concrete, along with such materials as pipes and wiring, has driven up the costs of building a high-rise tower, said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America.

The cost of a cubic yard of concrete rose from 10 percent to 15 percent last year and will see a similar increase in 2006, he said. The average cost for diesel fuel used in construction trucks is up 36 cents a gallon from last year. The cost of gypsum, the main ingredient in wall board, rose 42 percent since 2004, and copper used in wiring and fixtures rose about 70 percent in two years, Simonson said.

Hard Rock Sale Lures Bevy of Investors

 

 Peter Morton, owner of the Hard Rock Hotel, surely is getting just what he wanted -- a bevy of would-be buyers barking at his heels. As the tale falls into place, it seems Morton was approached by an investor, probably Station Casinos, that failed to meet his terms. Still, talks convinced him of the value of his holdings, including land that is ready for condominium development. That, plus the wandering gaze of a philanthropist in his early 60s and a son, Harry, who is said to have little interest in running the business, and he let word out he was getting proposals from buyers (meaning he wanted them).

The result is more interest than Morton can shake a fist at. The leader seems to be The Rank Group, to which he previously sold the Hard Rock Café. At least four other investors are said to be interested in joint ventures with Rank or as independent parties, we're told. Analysts say $750 million would get the deal done. But the analysts also say not to expect an announcement immediately as bankers, investors and investment advisers review a confidential "book" for the sale and as new bidders line up.

High rollers at Caesars Palace keep complaining, but the hotel-casino's management contends they are off base. Overall, Caesars has cut the number of slots in its casinos from 1,900 to 1,500, even if some areas seem more crowded with machines. High-end slot play is at an all-time high, with volumes up more than 20 percent in the past eight months. Also, Caesars points out that its new poker room is in an area not previously used for gambling, although high rollers say it could be used for table play and the traffic is mostly riffraff.

Loyal high rollers are probably complaining loudest about Harrah's Entertainment removing craps tables from the Forum Casino at Caesars Palace, and adding one craps table to the Palace Casino, for a net loss of three craps tables. Caesars has also added a roulette game that lets bettors place bets on computer screens, increasing the speed of the game and eliminating the need for dealers handling chips. Less manpower is necessary at the table since the dealer does not handle money or need to supervise betting with live chips.

China is once again proving to be very inscrutable. Counterintuitively, gaming revenues in Macau decreased 5 percent in January even though visitor volume increased 19 percent from last January. Insiders say the Chinese stay home on their New Year's, which fell in January this year vs. February in 2005. Also, more Macau visitors are going to the new Fisherman's Wharf instead of hitting the casinos.

Gaming Corp. Trading Strong

 

As reported by Sharecast: "Gaming Corp, owner of the casino.co.uk and gambling.com sites, continued to enjoy strong trading in the first three months of the year.

"'The first quarter of the 2006 financial year has seen continued strong trading across the group, generating first quarter profits before tax materially ahead of the profits for the whole of the previous financial year,' said Gaming.

"…Gambling.com continues to make a strong contribution to group profits, added the firm, noting that the advertising base continues to grow with more than 1,000 casino and poker sites now listed on its search network."

Gambling Companies Courting Massachusetts

 

 As reported by the Boston Herald: "For gambling tycoons, the ultimate prize may not be another towering casino complex on the Vegas Strip.

"Rather, it may be cracking one of the most lucrative and so far elusive potential gambling markets in the country - Massachusetts.

"Some of the world's top gambling magnates have long dreamed of building giant casinos in Massachusetts, where the state Lottery is a billion-dollar-plus affair and residents still have enough money left over to fill the coffers of two Connecticut casinos.

"It has long been an unrequited love, with stodgy State House lawmakers spurning one gambling proposal after another over the years by lopsided margins.

" But the odds may be finally shifting, with a proposal to put slot machines at local racetracks facing the best chance of any such bill in years…"

Treasure Bay CEO Steps Down

 

As reported by the Biloxi Sun Herald: "Bernie Burkholder and Treasure Bay Gaming & Resorts announced jointly this morning that Burkholder has stepped down as chief executive officer of the privately held gambling company.

"Susan Varnes, the corporate vice president of operations and general manager of the Biloxi casino, assumed management of the company with the new title of chief operating officer.

"'I wish Treasure Bay, its employees, vendors and customers the very best,' Burkholder said. 'My heart will always be with them and Treasure Bay. While there is never a good time to leave a company, I believe Treasure Bay has a very bright future with a strong and loyal management team and employment base in place."

"…It will be late summer or fall before the Biloxi casino reopens, Varnes said…"

Spread of Gambling Loses Steam

 

After years of heady campaigns to spread legal, commercial gambling to new jurisdictions in the United States, proliferation has ground to a halt in 2006.

Deutsche Bank analyst Andrew Zarnett called current chances for proliferation in the near term "nominal to nonexistent."

"Within the U.S., there's very little proliferation except for Pennsylvania, where slots at tracks are planned, and Florida, where any impact would be nominal since the market is not destination-based and would not compete for visitors," he said.

Gaming foe Tom Grey, executive director of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, said no statewide referendums to expand gambling are likely in 2006 or in the next two years, although there is limited discussion of a referendum in Kentucky.

"It won't happen in an election year or with all the campaign financing scandals," Grey said. "It would be like Pickett's Charge," referring to the ill-fated Confederate attack on the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

A local group has proposed a casino one mile from the Civil War battlefield, but it is given very little chance of being approved, he said.

Politicians want campaign contributions in nonelection years, but do not want the onus of gambling proposals and the organized opposition they bring in election years, Grey said.

"A decade ago, all states were in play, in a feeding frenzy for gaming revenues," Grey said.

As recently as the 2000 and 2002 election cycles, a majority of states had serious proposals pending to legalize casinos, slots at tracks and new riverboats, most of which ultimately proved illusory.

Just three years ago, a dozen states were moving to legalize new forms of gambling or liberalize existing regulations and three states were also considering raising gaming taxes. Six months later, insiders and analysts at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas declared proliferation the name of the game in casino development.

They said gambling's spread is the best hope Nevada-based operators and slot machine manufacturers have to boost revenues and profitability in the next few years.

Two years ago, local fiscal concerns were touching off another battle between the states for gaming revenues, just when it seemed as if the economic recovery might lead the industry into a period of consolidation rather than more proliferation.

Deutsche Bank analyst Marc Falcone said that drive for proliferation was expected to be a big boost for slot makers in Nevada, especially Reno-based International Game Technology, Alliance Gaming Corp. and WMS Industries.

According to Deutsche Bank, jurisdictions seriously considering expanded gambling included Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Washington.

Last year, only eight states still had good prospects for expanding gaming, analysts said.

And today, industry experts say the proliferation of gambling has run its course, with 90 percent of the American people now living within two hours of legitimate casinos.

"Basically, the country is covered," said University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor Bill Thompson, who specializes in gaming studies. "The issues of legalizing (gambling) have been resolved. The political disputes instead are over taxes and regulations."

There is also a drive to increase the size and number of tribal casinos, from which some gaming operators such as Station Casinos are profiting, rather than increasing the number of areas in which commercial casinos are permitted, Thompson said.

Operators instead are focused on established jurisdictions that favor their operations, such as Nevada, New Jersey and the Gulf Coast area, and on the spread of gambling overseas.

"The industry is content with the spread of gambling to date. Now, they just want more facilities (in jurisdictions where gambling already is legal," Thompson said.

Political candidates are shying away from supporting new casinos because the budget morass motivating them in recent years has subsided, gambling is not in the same favor with voters it has been in the past, and gaming foes have been mounting successful campaigns.

Brian Gordon, a partner in Las Vegas-based financial consultants Applied Analysis, said political pressures outweigh the fiscal benefits a state might get.

In addition, the budget crises many states faced only a few years ago have improved.

Grey's group and other antigambling organizations are going on the attack with television and radio advertisements and local organizing efforts to build public sentiment against the gaming industry, Gordon said.

They are also pushing for increased gaming taxes to cover the cost of the social consequences of gambling, to enact prohibitions on markers in Illinois and to promote self-exclusion programs for problem gamblers, Grey said.

"Polls show people think there is enough gambling, operators have not delivered on their promises of economic development and the climate today is much better for fighting (proliferation) than ever before in memory," he said.

Spanish Casino Prepares for Move

 

As reported by the Tenerife News: "The days of Puerto de la Cruz's Casino Taoro are numbered. The popular gambling attraction is set to move down from its present perch overlooking the town, to its new home in the waterfront Lago de Martiánez, in June.

"As far as visitors are concerned, the new location in the heart of the resort will be a boon, but the limited parking possibilities in the area, compared with those of the Parque de Taoro, have been a cause for some concern within the managing company.

"The Casino's management is said to be considering a whole raft of different transport possibilities for customers, among them the idea of purchasing a fleet of electric cars to ferry gamblers between the Lago and the Pirámides de Martiánez car park. The existing agreement with Puerto's taxi drivers by which customers get a free ride will continue as before…"

Pennsylvania Developers Pledge Community Contributions

 

 As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "The Penguins and Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. pledged yesterday to return to the community any profits earned as a result of a proposed $400 million-plus redevelopment of the lower Hill District.

"The team and the casino operator could be in line to receive a percentage of the profits when and if the residential, office and restaurant development, to be undertaken by Nationwide Realty Investors of Columbus, Ohio, starts to make money.

"The redevelopment is part of a plan estimated at more than $1 billion advanced by Isle of Capri, the Penguins and Nationwide in a bid to secure the Pittsburgh slot machine license. As part of that bid, Isle of Capri is offering $290 million toward construction of a new arena.

"The entire project is contingent upon Isle of Capri winning a slots license.

"…Whatever profits are returned would be in addition to the $1 million a year Isle of Capri has promised to donate for community development out of casino profits…"

Montreal Cautious About Casino

 

As reported by the Montreal Gazette: "Loto-Quebec's proposal to relocate the Montreal Casino to the Southwest borough could help revitalize the area but questions remain about public security and the impact on the neighbourhood, the city of Montreal says.

"The city's executive committee presented its concerns and a series of questions about the project in a 20-page document submitted yesterday to Loto-Quebec.

"'An investment of this size - about $1.2 billion - would help in the revitalization and the development of the Southwest borough, a part of Montreal where the needs are enormous,' executive committee member Alan DeSousa said in an interview.

"…'You have to take into account all the benefits and all the impacts in the community before you can come to a final decision,' said DeSousa, the executive committee member responsible for economic development…"

Biloxi Resort Proposal Approved

 

 As reported by the Biloxi Sun Herald: "The $1 billion Broadwater Resort proposal passed the Biloxi Planning Commission on Thursday, with stipulations that plans for future phases would have to be approved by a committee.

"After about 3½ hours of discussion, developers of the 261-acre condo, hotel and casino resort got a height variance - which will allow one structure to be built at 403 feet, as opposed to the 220 feet specified in the city's Land Development Ordinance - among other variances and a zoning change.

"Now, the plans will go before the City Council for final approval.

"The Broadwater plans call for two casinos: one at the site of the Broadwater Hotel and another south of U.S. 90.

"…The Broadwater Resort would be built with some 3,375 total condo and 1,900 hotel-room units on site and would also have an 18-hole golf course, with possible condominiums to be built on the site of the former Broadwater Sun Golf Course. The golf course, which is about 180 acres, would also have retail shops along the edges…"

Washington Tribal Casino Planned for 2007

 

As reported by the Seattle Times: "A new tribal casino that will be the first on the Eastside and the closest to Seattle could open as early as the fall of 2007.

"The Snoqualmie Tribe's five-year quest to build a casino on 56 acres off Interstate 90 east of Issaquah cleared a big hurdle Thursday when the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs gave the land federal reservation status.

"The 600-member tribe has been waiting since 2001 for that to happen so it could create its economic engine: a 150,000-square-foot casino 27 miles from Seattle.

"Getting reservation land status means the parcel falls under tribal authority and is generally exempt from state laws.

"…It will be the newest addition to tribal gaming in the Puget Sound region, which has casinos operated by the Tulalip, Puyallup and Muckleshoot tribes…"

Study Warns Blackpool Plans Flawed

 

As reported by the Blackpool Today: "Dreams of a rejuvenated Blackpool through Las Vegas-style casinos are seriously flawed and could damage the resort's economy, a new study has warned.

"Profits would go abroad, jobs would go to migrant workers and the number of problem gamblers would escalate, according to the independent report by consultants Hall Aitken.

"But Blackpool Council has hit back at the study and says its research shows the town will benefit if it wins the UK's much sought after first regional casino licence next year.

"…The report claimed a casino would not change the resort's pattern of seasonal employment, fewer jobs would be created than anticipated, and more than 6,000 problem gamblers would be generated costing an additional £15m a year to deal with.

"It also claims any profits created would return to overseas shareholders…"

PartyGaming CEO Leaves

 

As reported by the UK Guardian: "Richard Segal, the chief executive who led the online gaming group PartyGaming through its stock market flotation last year, has refused to move to Gibraltar, where the company is headquartered, and is to leave in June with a full payout, likely to be worth about £10m.

"Mr Segal, who has commuted to Gibraltar from Monday to Friday since joining the company in the summer of 2004, said he refused to base himself there over weekends because of 'family ties in London'.

"…The rest of Mr Segal's management team are all located in Gibraltar. The chief executive said he had been asked to follow suit, first by the chairman, Michael Jackson, then by the full board.

" 'm putting my family first,' he said. He agreed that his successor ought to be located in Gibraltar for the whole week…"

Mississippi Governor Optimistic About Gaming Industry

 

As reported by Reuters: "Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour on Thursday said preparations for Hurricane Katrina were as good as they could have been, waving off doubts raised by a video showing U.S. President George W. Bush being warned of the severity of the storm the day before it hit.

"Barbour also forecast a revival of Mississippi's $2.5 billion a year gambling industry, which was devastated when Katrina smashed into the Gulf Coast in August, forecasting that his state would one day overtake New Jersey as the nation's second-biggest casino market behind Nevada.

"…The state is hoping that casino operators Harrah's Entertainment Inc., MGM Mirage Inc., Isle of Capri Casinos Inc., Penn National Gaming Inc. and others will reinvest in the state and build new hotels and casinos.

"Companies can take advantage of billions of dollars worth of tax breaks and private-activity municipal bonds in the federally declared Gulf Opportunity Zone to help build new facilities.

"A recent Mississippi state law change also now allows casinos to be situated on land up to 800 feet from the waterside. Previously, they had to be located on water in floating barges.

"…Mississippi's coast is the third largest gambling market in the United States after Nevada's Las Vegas and New Jersey's Atlantic City. Casino revenue in the state was $2.47 billion in 2005, down from $2.77 billion in 2004, because of the destruction brought by Katrina…"

California Casino Vote Clears Hurdle

 

As reported by the Desert Dispatch: "The controversial local casino initiative is headed for the ballot.

"In San Bernardino County Superior Court Wednesday in Barstow, Judge John P. Vander Feer decided contents of a lawsuit aimed at blocking the initiative from vote were "premature" and threw the suit out.

"…The suit was filed by a citizens' group and the Los Coyotes tribe, who feel the initiative would jeopardize a deal made between the City of Barstow, the Los Coyotes and Big Lagoon Rancheria for a proposed dual casino-resort project.

"…Residents will vote on the initiative at the June 6 primary election…"

Aladdin Transformation One Step Closer

 

The transformation of the Aladdin into Planet Hollywood is a step closer with work completed on the rotunda in the hotel-casino's center.

Mike Dean, president of M.J. Dean Construction, the general contractor for the project, said basic work on the 6,000-square-foot rotunda, the first major interior portion of the redevelopment project, was largely completed Friday.

Other phases of the redevelopment are still being designed or are awaiting permits, Dean said.

The project's rotunda phase was a key part of the plan to put the Aladdin on a higher plane, said Robert Earl, co-chairman of Aladdin owner OpBiz. The phase changed traffic flow to broaden the resort's customer base and to present an edgier, trendier look.

OpBiz is a partnership of Earl, Bay Harbour Management and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.

Redevelopment of the Aladdin includes dropping the Middle East theme and repositioning the property in the same class as Mandalay Bay, The Mirage and MGM Grand.

The transformation of the Aladdin into the Planet Hollywood started in October and should finish in this year's fourth quarter.

Aladdin President Mike Mecca said the rotunda project, like other parts of the redevelopment, was designed to reclaim "shelf space" to give the hotel-casino more square footage for entertainment, restaurants and casino operations.

"And we're not just talking new, exciting amenities for the property," he said. "The overall design makes it very contemporary, very competitive and very accessible."

The property continues to operate as the Aladdin during renovation. Mecca said despite the redevelopment project and rebranding of the Aladdin, occupancy rates have remained in the high-90 percent range.

"The marketing team is doing a great job of disguising the construction work and minimizing the disruption, which helps the property do as well as it is," he said.

WagerWeb.com Offer Baseball Record Odds

 

Records are made to be broken, but the record that Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins is going for is one that many thought would stand forever. Rollins is 20 games away from tying the immortal Joe DiMaggio's 56 consecutive game hit streak. Rollins ended last season hitting safely in 36 straight games, and if he can get off to a hot start this season, he, too, could end up in baseball history.

"This is a record that few people thought would ever be challenged," Wagerweb.com's Dave Johnson said. "Rollins has the advantage of having ended last season on a roll and having all off-season to rest and work on his hitting. If Rollins can handle the pressure of chasing one of the most sacred MLB baseball records in history, he could have a really good shot at breaking it."

Paddy Power Opens Betting on Irish Open

 

Paddy Power, Ireland's largest bookmaker, today launched betting on Europe's oldest poker tournament, the Irish Open. The tournament, being held in Dublin from 15-17 April 2006, is one of the richest in Europe with a €1 million guaranteed prize pool and €50,000 added by the sponsors, paddypowerpoker.com

Continuing a tradition of great value, innovative and punter-friendly specials Paddy Power will refund outright bets placed before the start of the tournament for any player who makes the final table but does not win.

The final table of the event is being broadcast on Sky Sports 2 on Easter Monday at 9pm and Paddy Power will have betting in running.

The event has betting 'outright' and as registrations progress a host of other markets will spring up. If a bet is placed on a player who does not play in the event, the stake will be refunded.

Bets can be placed online at PaddyPower.com – prices are in the sports section – or by visiting a Paddy Power shop in Ireland or the UK (we regret we cannot accept bets from the USA).

Olympic Sports Book Changes Name

 

Olympic Sports Data Services, Ltd., known online as Olympic Sports Book, one of the oldest and largest online sportsbooks, announced today it was changing the brand name of its online sportsbook to The Greek Sports Book.

The name change to The Greek Sports Book is a natural transition, one which will enhance marketing campaigns, distinguish its first and foremost property, and help solidify the brand recognition of a single brand name.

Market research revealed that even though many clients were aware of Olympic Sports Book as the company name, most referred to it as "The Greek," which represent both the web site address as well as the owner's nationality. "The Greek" will also tie in with other offerings under the same brand name. These include The Greek Casino, which offers an abundance of casino games, and The Greek Poker, which is an online poker room. All are accessible under the same account for customers.

Management reviewed both the name change and surveys from players and determined that more amenities would further augment the transition, which began to evolve during the 2005 football season. A new web site look was introduced, featuring easier navigation, enhanced content and a professional look. A year-round bonus program offering new players a 21% bonus and existing players 11% bonus reloads, as well as the inclusion of free contests and cash giveaway promotions, produced an overwhelmingly positive response from players.

The new logo for The Greek Sports Book was introduced to the site on March 1. Over the next few weeks, the transition will be finalized with new ads appearing on various networks, stationary changes, and web site changes all being made to reflect the brand name change.

After a nearly seamless transition to the new name, management is pleased with its decision. The Greek Sports Book has a new look, more amenities, and the tradition of "sweat the game, not the payout" continues.

GameTech Reports Q1 Results

 

GameTech International, Inc., a leading designer, developer and marketer of electronic bingo equipment and bingo systems, today announced financial results for the Company's first quarter ended January 31, 2006. Net income totaled $839,000 or $0.07 per fully diluted share compared with $1,000, or $0.00 per share in the same period in 2005. Revenue for the quarter totaled $12.3 million, slightly higher than in the first quarter of 2005.

The Company's increased profitability resulted from more favorable gross profit margins of 62.3% for the first quarter of 2006 compared with 55.6% in 2005 and reductions in operating expenses to 52.0% of revenue, down from 55.9% of revenue in 2005. Management's continuing cost-saving initiatives, such as personnel reductions, decreases in depreciation and reduced operating expenses, were instrumental in achieving more positive ratios.

While revenue for the quarter was only slightly higher than in the same period in 2005, the Company saw increased revenue in key markets, including Michigan, Kentucky and Nevada, among others. Revenue from these expanding markets offset decreased revenue due to the loss of certain accounts and the reduction of the Oklahoma market as a result of unfavorable legislative action.

"We are pleased that the first quarter of 2006 has allowed us to continue the successes we realized during the latter part of fiscal 2005. The substantial improvement in net income this quarter from the same period last year indicates we are seeing the beginning of the benefits of our cost-saving initiatives we have put into place and the early stages of our market expansion efforts. We have reduced litigation activity, which has substantially reduced our legal expense. At the same time, we have realigned our infrastructure and reduced our operating expenses in most areas," said Jay Meilstrup, GameTech's President and Chief Executive Officer.

Meilstrup continued, "We are pleased with our first quarter results. Our efforts moving forward are focused on increasing our current business base, developing new products and concepts and expanding into new markets."

GameTech International is a leading developer and marketer of a comprehensive line of electronic bingo equipment, including portable bingo terminals, fixed-base terminals, and turnkey accounting and management software systems. The Company supports its bingo operator customers with products that typically increase play, revenue and profits, and with software customized to enhance management and operations, all backed by unparalleled customer service and support.

Gambling Shake-Up in Australia

 

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald: "The Bracks Government's bid to maximise returns from gambling in Victoria is gathering pace with the release of four issue papers for the review into the gaming machine, wagering and Club Keno licences.

"Victoria's Gaming and Racing Minister, John Pandazopoulos, called for submissions from industry stakeholders and members of the public yesterday, making it clear that the present licence holders, Tabcorp and Tattersall's, would not breeze through the process.

"…Though both incumbents have an enormous edge in the race to secure the licences beyond their 2012 expiry, industry analysts said the Government had designed the process to attract bids from new players.

"…Racing Victoria and Queensland's UNiTAB have both hinted they might bid for Tabcorp's wagering licence, while Mr Pandazopoulos's office has suggested the gaming machine licence - held by Tabcorp and Tatts - could be rearranged to give control to individual venue owners…"

American Wagering Completes Acquisition

 

American Wagering, Inc. (OTC BB:BETM.OB) (the "Company") today announced that the Company's wholly owned subsidiary AWI Gaming, Inc. ("AWIG") completed the acquisition of, and commenced operations at, Sturgeon's Inn & Casino in Lovelock, Nevada ("Sturgeon's") on March 1, 2006. The acquisition of Sturgeon's is expected to be immediately accretive to the Company's fiscal 2007 operating results.

Victor Salerno, the Company's CEO and President, said, "We are excited about closing a strategically important acquisition that helps us to both diversify and provide us with strong growth potential. We expect the Sturgeon's operation will help us achieve both near- and long-term earnings accretion and will help pave the way to future hotel/casino acquisitions."

Salerno continued, "Our enthusiasm for acquiring Sturgeon's is driven by a desire to diversify and solidify our earnings, as well as a desire for cross-selling and promotional opportunities among our various subsidiaries. In addition, we are optimistic that already-identified cost reductions and cost synergies among our subsidiaries will improve our earnings and cash flow in fiscal 2007."

Bruce Dewing, President of AWIG, said, "Lovelock is a vibrant community expected to increase in population dramatically over the next several years. We are proud to be the newest member of the Lovelock community and look forward to providing a complete entertainment experience with unparalleled gaming and dining choices combined with superior service. We hope to model future hotel/casino acquisitions on our experiences and successes at Sturgeon's."

About Sturgeon's Inn & Casino

Sturgeon's is a full service hotel, casino and restaurant operation located adjacent to Interstate 80 in Lovelock, Nevada (approximately 90 miles east of Reno, Nevada). The facility contains over 65,000 square feet including the following:

-- Casino area with 124 gaming devices, bar, cashier's cage, count rooms, vault area, video arcade, lounge area and public restrooms.

-- Restaurant area with total seating of 118, full kitchen, dish wash area, private dining or meeting area, storage areas and cashier's counter.

-- Motel with 74 units, covered porte-cochere, registration desk and lobby, indoor swimming pool, housekeeping and storage areas, laundry room and manager's apartment.

-- Banquet room known as the "Center Club" with stage, light and sound equipment, chairs, tables and storage areas.

The main facility is located on 3.580 acres, which includes the above facilities plus paved public parking. Adjacent to the main parcel is a gravel parking lot of 0.432 acres, bringing the total land area to 4.012 acres.

Tomlinson to Speak at Pennsylvania Gaming Congress

 

State Sen. Robert M. "Tommy" Tomlinson, an architect of the Pennsylvania gaming act, will be a featured speaker at the 2nd annual Pennsylvania Gaming Congress on March 6-7.

Sen. Tomlinson, who engaged in a decade-long fight to authorize slot machines at racetracks, was instrumental in crafting and passing Act 71, which allows up to 61,000 slots in the Commonwealth. Gov. Ed Rendell signed the legislation July 5, 2004, at a ceremony hosted by Sen. Tomlinson at Philadelphia Park.

Sen. Tomlinson will be the Pennsylvania Gaming Congress keynote speaker at the conference's Monday night reception at the Whitaker Center here.

More than 400 gaming-related professionals from 25 states and provinces have registered to attend the Pennsylvania Gaming Congress, including officials from all 20 applicants for Pennsylvania Category I and Category II operator licenses.

The conference program includes sessions with Pennsylvania gaming regulators, Pennsylvania racino operators, Wall Street analysts, diversity experts, land-use and zoning experts, as well as the Keynote Luncheon and Exhibition Area.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Congress takes place at the spacious Whitaker Center and attached Harrisburg Hilton. Additional hotel rooms are available at the neighboring Crowne Plaza Harrisburg by calling (717) 234-5021 and asking for the "Pennsylvania Gaming Congress" rate.

Duane Morris LLP and Duane Morris Government Affairs are Presenting Sponsors of the Pennsylvania Gaming Congress. Contributing sponsors are: A.C. Coin & Slot, Aristocrat Technologies, Bally Gaming and Systems, Cooper Levenson, Cope Linder Architects, Cyberview Technology, Ernst & Young, Gaming Industry Observer, Global Gaming Business Weekly, International Game Technology, JCM American, Jefferies & Co., Keystone Gaming Alliance, Konami Gaming, Las Vegas Sands Corp., LPCiminelli Inc., MEI, Money Centers of America, Pocono Manor Resort & Casino, Radio PA Networks, SOSH Architects, Trump Entertainment Resorts, WMS Gaming and Vibrant Development.

Sun International Posts Rise in Earnings

 

As reported by Reuters: "South Africa's biggest casino operator, Sun International, posted a 34 percent jump in first-half adjusted headline earnings per share on Thursday but said growth would slow in the second half.

"Adjusted headline earnings per share in the six months to end-December rose to 248 cents from 185 cents in the year-ago period, the company said in a statement.

"But headline EPS -- which strips out capital, non-trading and certain one-off items -- fell to 98 cents from a restated 221 cents.

"…Sun International, which owns the popular Sun City resort north-west of Johannesburg, said revenue growth from casinos and a brighter outlook at its hotels and resorts should continue for the second half of the year…"

Pennsylvania Awards Six Slot Licenses

 

Six gaming equipment companies, including industry giant International Game Technology and Las Vegas-based Aristocrat Technologies, have been awarded Pennsylvania's first slot machine licenses.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said the companies are subject to a series of 40 conditions set out by the regulatory agency. Pennsylvania lawmakers, in July 2004, authorized the installation of up to 61,000 slot machines in 14 locations, including racetracks and stand-alone casinos.

Seven racetracks, including four that are operating, are expected to be the first licensed to receive slot machines, possibly by the end of the year. Up to 5,000 slot machines will be authorized at each location.

"This is a major step for expanded gaming in Pennsylvania," gaming control board Chairman Tad Decker said in a statement.

Still, Pennsylvania regulators will need to license in-state distributors to work with the manufacturers. The control board is divided over whether to allow distributors to operate within the entire state or within selected regions.

"They're finally moving forward to get issues resolved, which is a good sign," Susquehanna Financial Group gaming analyst Brian McGill said. "But the key is still how many distributors will be allowed. The timing has been a moving target, but my best guess right now is we're looking at a September time frame."

IGT spokesman Ed Rogich said the company was the first to file an application with the state, but until the suppliers are determined, the excitement level remains the same.

"(IGT's licensing) shows progress but it doesn't change anything as of today," Rogich said. "It's a positive step that brings us closer to reality, but a whole lot more has to happen."

Aristocrat Technologies President Gavin Isaacs said previously that Pennsylvania was a strategic opportunity for the Las Vegas-based slot machine manufacturer.

"Aristocrat, together with our Pennsylvania gaming machine distributor KGM Gaming is looking forward to working with Pennsylvania throughout the implementation of its gaming program," Isaacs said.

How long the process will take is still a mystery.

Pennsylvania is the first new major gaming jurisdiction of any consequence since the late 1990s. Under the gaming tax structure, 53 percent of all revenues generated by the slot machines will go to state and local governments.

In addition to seven racetrack sites, the state will award gaming licenses of 5,000 slot machines each to five stand-alone casinos -- two in Philadelphia, one in Pittsburgh and two at sites to be determined. Two resort locations of 500 machines each will also be awarded.

Even if the distributors are determined by the end of summer and the racetracks are awarded licenses, facilities to house the slot-machine-only casinos will need to be built.

"You're pretty much looking at a summer of 2007 event," McGill said.

IGT and Aristocrat were joined by WMS Industries as the most well-known major gaming companies receiving the licenses. Still under consideration are Shuffle Master, Bally Gaming, Konami Gaming, Atronic Gaming and lottery company Gtech Holdings.

Michigan AG Wants End to Lotto Pools

 

Attorney General Mike Cox announced today that he has demanded that PowerPick Player's Club of Michigan, L.L.C., a Grand Rapids based subsidiary of PowerPick America, L.L.C., stop selling subscriptions to lottery-ticket pools for Michigan Lottery games because the business violates state law.

"Illegal gambling is just that: illegal," said Cox. "My office will continue to pursue those who try to violate the public trust to line their own pocketbooks."

In his cease and desist letter sent to PowerPick Players Club of Michigan (PowerPick), Cox demanded that PowerPick immediately stop selling or reselling Michigan Lottery tickets or shares and providing Michigan Lottery tickets or shares as bonuses to its customers. Cox has also demanded that PowerPick inactivate the Michigan portion of its website.

Unlike legal lottery clubs, PowerPick profits from selling shares of lottery pools. Michigan's Lottery Act prohibits selling Michigan Lottery tickets or shares at a higher price than that set by the Commissioner of the Bureau of State Lottery. It also prohibits anyone other than a licensed lottery sales agent from selling Michigan Lottery tickets or shares.

According to PowerPick's website, only a portion of the money the business collects from its customers goes toward purchasing Michigan Lottery tickets. The rest goes to company profit and overhead. PowerPick is not a licensed lottery sales agent.

PowerPick also violates provisions of Michigan's Penal Code that prohibit private businesses from promoting a lottery for money, setting up or aiding in setting up a lottery, selling pools, accepting bets, and publishing information concerning making bets or selling pools.

Jackpot Factory Launches Slot Promotion

 

The Jackpot Factory Group, a leading online casino group that has paid out over $4 billion since its launch, unveiled an enormous slot promotion called "Slot Madness." During March, the group's casinos – All Slots Casino, All Jackpots Casino, First Web Casino, and Wild Jack Casino – will reward over 1,500 players with cash prizes totaling a whopping $250,000.

Slot Madness runs seamlessly with every slot game – video, reel, and progressive – making it easy and fun for players, as they can ride their hot games during the entire promotion. Each weekend, the casino group is slamming down thousands of dollars in bonus money to its top players in various categories, such as top payouts and random bonuses.

Spokesperson for the Jackpot Factory Group, David Brickman said, "We want to make as many winners as possible in Slot Madness; to do so we're making it easy for our players to snatch their bonuses. Every player, new and old, automatically qualifies for this phenomenal promotion and is entitled to win on any slot game. Our team worked hard on making every slot game eligible, because this distinctive feature allows players to play 'their game' without having to think about the terms of our promotion."

The Jackpot Factory Group has long been known for budgeting big bucks on its promotions, earmarking thousands of dollars on a weekly basis, and this month, the trend continues in an upward arc, as they put a quarter of a million dollars on the court exclusively for this promotion.

Calvin Ayre Foundation Launches Web Site

 

Calvin Ayre, one of the pioneers of online gaming, formally announced today the launch of the Calvin Ayre Foundation web site. The Foundation, which is federally registered in Costa Rica, is active in supporting charitable causes throughout the world.

Founded by Mr. Ayre in 2004, the Foundation's aim is to achieve meaningful and lasting improvements in the environment and in the lives of disadvantaged individuals and communities. The Foundation focuses on promoting greater equity in five broad areas: Environment, Education, Social Development, Child Welfare and Animal Welfare.

Over the years, Mr. Ayre's Bodog Entertainment Group has worked with numerous national and international charities. Among those organizations are the Fisher House Foundation, the LA Lakers Youth Foundation, the Humane Society, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Animal Avengers Organization, and the Sean McCauley Hope Foundation for Pediatric Cancer.

"Through the Calvin Ayre Foundation, we're able to cross international borders," says Mr. Ayre. "With fewer barriers, we are better able to offer support for meaningful charitable causes."

The Calvin Ayre Foundation supports the charitable initiatives of other organizations as well as those goals it lays out for its own projects. One of the long-term initiatives the Foundation is working on include the sponsorship of the higher education needs of underprivileged youth.

As well, the Foundation supports large-scale initiatives, such as the Sponsor-A-School Project and the Sponsor-A-Family Project. These programs are the core of the Foundation, which directly manages its money and the allocation of funds to the various initiatives under its mandate.

"There are few things that bring greater satisfaction than witnessing the smiles on the faces of the children we are actively sponsoring," says Calvin Ayre, founder and chairman of the international charitable foundation. "Our Adopt-a-School Project, to cite one example, allows us to play an integral role in improving the conditions and care for the children attending primary schools in Costa Rica."

Recently, the Foundation was on hand for a telethon in Costa Rica that supported the Critical Care Tower of the National Children's Hospital.

Visit www.CalvinAyreFoundation.com web site today to learn more

ThwartPoker Set for Online Launch

 

When Daniel Pfeiffer was 17 years old, he became captivated by a card game his father invented. A mathematician, Arthur Pfeiffer found poker interesting but thought chance played too large a role in the game, so in 1984 he created a version of poker called "Pickem," which eliminated the element of luck.

All cards were played face up in Arthur Pfeiffer's game, and each player selected his own cards. Players tried to make the best hand while blocking their opponents from making an even better hand. To make card selection possible, he created a prototype "Dealer," which read, stored, and dealt cards. The machine was controlled by a microcomputer, and each player had a port to "dial in" his card selection. Once selections were made, the dealer would distribute the cards under the control of the microcomputer.

Although production of the game never went much farther than a few focus groups, it stuck in the back of Daniel's mind as he built a successful career as a software engineer. With the advent of the Digital Age, Daniel Pfeiffer approached his father with the idea of bringing the game to the Internet.

"He was kind of surprised at first, because it had been in limbo for so long," Daniel Pfeiffer says of his father's reaction to the idea. "I remembered how the game had been such a great idea, and it just occurred to me to make it a Web game."

The dream is now a reality. The duo now co-owns ThwartPoker Inc., and has offered games on mobile phone networks for nearly two years. Hold'em Poker+ for Prizes on Atlas Mobile (since acquired by InfoSpace) first became available to the public in April 2004.

Numerous wireless companies offer the game to their customers, who can play the game for $2.99 a month or have unlimited access for a one-time fee of $6.99. It is the most popular game on InfoSpace, with millions of entries into multi-player tournaments. One player won a $2,000 trip to Las Vegas in June 2005. Along with its popular appeal, Hold'em Poker+ for prizes earned critical acclaim with an IGN Wireless Editors' Choice Award in 2005.

Buoyed by the success of the mobile version, ThwartPoker is now available on the Internet at www.thwartpoker.com. Users can download a 60-minute trial before deciding if they want to subscribe to the service (currently $2.99/week or $9.99/month).

Based in Palo Alto, Calif., the company can legally award cash prizes since the game is based completely on skill. Currently those prizes are awarded to players who are most successful against virtual opponents, but multi-player real-time tournaments will be also available in the not-too-distant future.

The Pfeiffers eventually plan to interface the wireless and Internet platforms so players can face each other whether they are in front of their PC or holding a cell phone. While the Digital Age changed the way people could play, the essence of Arthur Pfeiffer's game remains the same, despite the loss of the "Dealer" machine he created to play the game 20 years ago.

"It was a magical thing," Daniel Pfeiffer says, describing the prototype his father created. "The physical unit that my father built to play the game had quite a charm. The psychological element of how to build the best hand while preventing your opponents from building a better one is fascinating to me."

How to Play ThwartPoker

There are two versions of Thwartpoker: Hold'em Blitz and 6 Card Battle. In both games, cards are played face up and players select their own cards to build the best possible hand. Players simultaneously pick one card at a time, and if two or more players select the same card they receive a blank card and miss that turn. In Hold'em Blitz, three community cards are revealed before each player selects four cards, while each player selects six cards to make a hand in 6 Card Battle. The best 5-card poker hand wins in both games.

The Internet version of the game adds a new element, allowing players to make bets based on the strength of their hands and their opponents' hands. Both versions award bonus points based on the rank of the hand created, regardless of who wins the showdown.

"With this new form of Hold'em Poker, we combine the betting experience of No Limit Hold'em with the element of choosing your cards," Pfeiffer says. "Now when you get beat on the last card you get beat based on your own choice and your opponent's choice, not on the luck of the draw."

For more information and a free trial version download, visit www.thwartpoker.com.

SkyCity to Go Head-On With Sports Bars

 

As reported by Stuff: "SkyCity Hamilton is taking a $2 million punt that a major new sports bar will help pull more customers into the Riverside casino and entertainment complex on Victoria St.

"Final decisions on other revamps, to cost about $1 million, are expected within a few months.

"...SkyCity Hamilton general manager David Christian said yesterday that the bar's construction, scheduled to start toward the end of next month, would cost about $2 million.

"...While gaming ads might feature in the new bar, Mr Christian said these would not be 'heavy'.

"...Other changes include the current buffet restaurant near the casino becoming a table service restaurant and yet-to-be-decided alterations to an upstairs deck area..."

Football Betting Column: The Pinnacle Pulse

 

What are the three most important things a professional considers when betting a game? Price, price and price. Getting the best number on every game will turn a 50% handicapper into a net winner and allows a 53% capper to show a handsome profit at season's end. Every penny you're able to shave off of a price adds to your bottom line.

We price shop to save cents on a gallon of gas and smart bettors are just as price sensitive with sports betting and use comparison shopping to find the best lines. playing at the best available price is one of the easiest ways for any player to increase his potential winnings.

In addition to your existing bookmaker, you should ideally hold accounts at one or two reduced juice bookmakers like Pinnacle Sportsbook, along with a couple of recreational books, where you'll find inflated favorite prices and therefore attractive odds on the underdog.

Using an exchange is another option, but one question I'm often asked is how do you compare the cost of playing on an exchange, versus playing at Pinnacle Sports? The easiest way is to look at the total juice paid if you play both sides of the same game.

If you see a line on a game listed on an exchange you need to adjust the price for any commission charged to get to the true price for comparison purposes. Exchanges generally charge between 2% and 5% in commissions on bets placed. Every 1% in commission is the equivalent to 2.2 cents on the moneyline.

At Pinnacle Sports we use an 8-cent line on MLB. So if for example we listed the Yankees -112/Boston +104 and an exchange listed the same game at what appeared to be a 6-cent line at Yankees -111/Boston +105, is the exchange offering the best price on the game? If the exchange charges a 2% commission on winning wagers, the equivalent moneyline is 6 cents + (2.2 * 2) = 10.4-cent moneyline.

By way of comparison, a wager to win $100 on the Yankees at Pinnacle Sports Betting would return $212 ($112 risk amount + $100 winnings) while an exchange would return $206.78 ($211 – 2% commission). Conversely on the Red Sox, a customer at Pinnacle would see a return of $204 ($100 risk + $104 winnings) while on an exchange it would be $200.90 ($205 – 2% commission).

If exchanges at times are not all what they seem, is there another way to beat Pinnacle's already low prices? The answer is yes, by using the Pinnacle Sports Wager Order Form. First, you'll save money compared to the market price and unlike exchanges, Pinnacle Sports never charges commissions on either winning bets or matched offers.

How do you use the order form? On all major sports, the Pinnacle sports betting menu has a "Wager Order Form" option on the top-right of the page. This takes you to the same sport-specific page where you can select a wager you'd like to customize by adjusting the spread or moneyline in your favor.

Once you've selected a team to wager on, you can adjust the spread, price and enter the wager amount. One extra feature is a cutoff time, where you can set your order to expire anywhere from one minute all the way up until game time. If the line on the game moves for even just a fraction of a second to the price you have set on an open order, your bet will automatically be accepted and you'll have action at the enhanced price and line you set.

Pinnacle's order form can save you a lot of money, but you must be careful with orders open for a long time. Consider this: The market price on the Chicago Bulls is -6 (-110). PinnacleSports.com is offering -6 (-105). You place an offer for the Bulls at -6 (-102). If the market price moved to Bulls -6 (+100) which is the equivalent to -5.5 -110, your order would get filled at -6 (-102) as the market drifted. You will still beat the initial offering of -6 (-105), but if you spent 3 hours in front of a service like Don Best, you might have been able to get a better deal.

If you're a full-time professional that already watches the screen, this isn't a problem. If you see the market drifting down, you can simply cancel your order at any time. Most bettors don't have that kind of time and those players have another option – set the cutoff time for 5 minutes, 30 minutes or however long you plan to spend making your bets. If at the end of that time it isn't filled or only partially filled, you can always cancel your order and take the best market price.

Another method any player can use is to offer very close to the market price. Orders that are 1-cent cheaper than Pinnacle's price (e.g. we are offering Bulls -6 -105, and you order -6 -104) will often get filled and if it does, you've taken another step towards being a pro by getting a better price. If it's not filled, you can still play at Pinnacle's reduced juice pricing. If you have more time and patience, you can start with larger discounts and lower them until you fill your order.

We regularly receive questions about the Wager Order Form, so hopefully this week's column helps players understand how it can save them even more money on their bets. Although I try to provide insight on general gambling theory in the Pinnacle Pulse column, if you have a question that you would like answered, please feel free to send it to askthebook@pinnaclesports.com like these players below.

Jack wrote:

Why is the order form offered in some sports, but not others? I'd also like to know if the Pinnacle clears a lot of orders during the last flash because it often looks like that could be profitable to me.

Simon:

It's practical to offer the order form when two requirements are met. First, there must be moderately high volume – we don't want our players frustrated by placing orders that are never filled. Second, the prices dealt must be somewhat stable, or no one will want to risk leaving an order up long-term. For these reasons, the pro sports (NBA, NFL and MLB) will always have order forms available after the openers have been sharpened by early players.

Regarding your second question, we see a LOT of volatility in the last 5 minutes before post. It's common to see a market fluctuate wildly, even by 5 or 10 cents in the last few minutes. Some savvy players will offer a price way off market (e.g. Yankees -180, when -200 is the market price). They monitor what gets filled and can often scalp this with other books right before post. These opportunities arise because many of our largest players make multiple limit bets in the last 5 minutes. To balance our action, we move aggressively which provides patient players using the order form with an easy way to make a buck.

Berry wrote:

I was interested in betting on the Soccer World Cup. Would you explain the difference between "1x2 Coupon" betting and "Handicaps"?

Simon:

A 1x2 line gives a player 3 choices: (1) Team A to win, (x) the draw or (2) Team B to win. If regulation plus anytime added on for stoppages ends with the teams tied, the draw wins (overtime, golden goals or penalty shoot-outs do not count for betting purposes). If the draw wins, wagers on either team will lose regardless of whether a team eventually goes on to win the game in overtime, on golden goals or in a penalty shootout.

A Handicap wager or 'Asian handicap' is similar to an NFL spread. For example, at Pinnacle Sports we're currently offering Germany -1 (-156) versus Costa Rica +1 (+148). If Germany wins by exactly 1 goal, the wager is a push. If Germany wins by 2 or more, $156 wagered wins $100 on Germany. If Costa Rica ties or wins, $100 risked wins $148.

Another feature you'll often see with 'Asian handicaps' and totals are "quarter-balls". In the German Bundesliga this week, we're currently offering Bayern Munich -0.5 and -1 (-111), or Hamburger SV +0.5 and +1 (+107). When a handicap lists 2 spreads, half of your bet is wagered at each spread. If you bet on Bayern and they won by exactly 1 goal, half your bet would be graded as a push and the other half would be graded as a win (paying 100 per 111 risked). Quarter-balls are used on totals as well – if you bet over 2.5 and 3.0, a game total of 3 would be half a push and half a win.

If you have any sports betting related questions that you would like answered in future columns, please feel free to write to me at askthebook@pinnaclesports.com

Pinnacle Sports Book & Online Betting

Pinnacle Sportsbook is an online betting company providing the best odds on sportsbook gambling, online horseracing, online casino gaming, and online poker.

With excellent 24/7 customer service, fast payouts, and secure Internet betting, Pinnacle Sports Book satisfies all your sports book betting requirements and game wagering needs.

Brokeback Mountain Critics' and Odds Makers' Choice for Oscars

 

Although not everyone is ready to see a gay romance dominate the Oscars, Brokeback Mountain is an obvious favorite with both critics and odds makers. Aces.com favors the controversial picture to win at 1-10 odds (odds at Aces.com as of March 2, 2006).

Although Aces.com is a little bit of Las Vegas online, they're offering better payouts than Vegas hotels on Brokeback Mountain. The Las Vegas Sun reports that the Wynn Las Vegas, for example, put the movie's odds at 3-5.

"I know some books have shortened the odds on Brokeback Mountain this week," said Aces.com Manager Rene Quesada. "We've still got it at 1-10 though – a pretty good payout if you think Hollywood is ready to honor a gay cowboy movie. If not, you could go with Crash – but a three dollar bet only wins two."

Brokeback Mountain has already won the Directors Guild Award the Producers Guild Award and the Golden Globe. Since 1989, when the PGA came into existence, nine pictures have won all of these awards and eight of the nine have gone on to win the Academy Award for best picture.

Odds makers seem to doubt Best Supporting Actor will go to a gay cowboy. Jake Gyllenhaal is only given 7-2 odds for his role in Brokeback Mountain while George Clooney is at 2-3 for Syriana, as is Paul Giamatti for Cinderella Man.

Although some critics argue that she really played a Supporting Actress roll in Walk the Line, Reese Witherspoon is an obvious winner in the Best Supporting Actress.

"Reese Witherspoon for Best Actress – that's a no-brainer," said Quesada. "At odds of 1-6, we're seeing a lot of Aces.com players putting money on her."

Complete odds for this weekend's Academy Awards are updated daily at Ace.com where other entertainment props on American Idol, The Amazing Race and Survivor Panama are also posted.

ThwartPoker Set for Online Launch

 

When Daniel Pfeiffer was 17 years old, he became captivated by a card game his father invented. A mathematician, Arthur Pfeiffer found poker interesting but thought chance played too large a role in the game, so in 1984 he created a version of poker called "Pickem," which eliminated the element of luck.

All cards were played face up in Arthur Pfeiffer's game, and each player selected his own cards. Players tried to make the best hand while blocking their opponents from making an even better hand. To make card selection possible, he created a prototype "Dealer," which read, stored, and dealt cards. The machine was controlled by a microcomputer, and each player had a port to "dial in" his card selection. Once selections were made, the dealer would distribute the cards under the control of the microcomputer.

Although production of the game never went much farther than a few focus groups, it stuck in the back of Daniel's mind as he built a successful career as a software engineer. With the advent of the Digital Age, Daniel Pfeiffer approached his father with the idea of bringing the game to the Internet.

"He was kind of surprised at first, because it had been in limbo for so long," Daniel Pfeiffer says of his father's reaction to the idea. "I remembered how the game had been such a great idea, and it just occurred to me to make it a Web game."

The dream is now a reality. The duo now co-owns ThwartPoker Inc., and has offered games on mobile phone networks for nearly two years. Hold'em Poker+ for Prizes on Atlas Mobile (since acquired by InfoSpace) first became available to the public in April 2004.

Numerous wireless companies offer the game to their customers, who can play the game for $2.99 a month or have unlimited access for a one-time fee of $6.99. It is the most popular game on InfoSpace, with millions of entries into multi-player tournaments. One player won a $2,000 trip to Las Vegas in June 2005. Along with its popular appeal, Hold'em Poker+ for prizes earned critical acclaim with an IGN Wireless Editors' Choice Award in 2005.

Buoyed by the success of the mobile version, ThwartPoker is now available on the Internet at www.thwartpoker.com. Users can download a 60-minute trial before deciding if they want to subscribe to the service (currently $2.99/week or $9.99/month).

Based in Palo Alto, Calif., the company can legally award cash prizes since the game is based completely on skill. Currently those prizes are awarded to players who are most successful against virtual opponents, but multi-player real-time tournaments will be also available in the not-too-distant future.

The Pfeiffers eventually plan to interface the wireless and Internet platforms so players can face each other whether they are in front of their PC or holding a cell phone. While the Digital Age changed the way people could play, the essence of Arthur Pfeiffer's game remains the same, despite the loss of the "Dealer" machine he created to play the game 20 years ago.

"It was a magical thing," Daniel Pfeiffer says, describing the prototype his father created. "The physical unit that my father built to play the game had quite a charm. The psychological element of how to build the best hand while preventing your opponents from building a better one is fascinating to me."

How to Play ThwartPoker

There are two versions of Thwartpoker: Hold'em Blitz and 6 Card Battle. In both games, cards are played face up and players select their own cards to build the best possible hand. Players simultaneously pick one card at a time, and if two or more players select the same card they receive a blank card and miss that turn. In Hold'em Blitz, three community cards are revealed before each player selects four cards, while each player selects six cards to make a hand in 6 Card Battle. The best 5-card poker hand wins in both games.

The Internet version of the game adds a new element, allowing players to make bets based on the strength of their hands and their opponents' hands. Both versions award bonus points based on the rank of the hand created, regardless of who wins the showdown.

"With this new form of Hold'em Poker, we combine the betting experience of No Limit Hold'em with the element of choosing your cards," Pfeiffer says. "Now when you get beat on the last card you get beat based on your own choice and your opponent's choice, not on the luck of the draw."

For more information and a free trial version download, visit www.thwartpoker.com.

Six Licenses Issued for Slots Manufacturing

 

As reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "State gambling regulators issued their first licenses of any kind Tuesday -- to six companies that can manufacture slot machines to be sold in the state.

"...The licenses are subject to 40 conditions set by the board to comply with state gambling law.

"Companies receiving the licenses are Aristocrat Technologies Inc., Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty. Ltd., IGT, NRT Technology Corp., Western Money Systems and WMS Gaming Inc..."

Poker's Biggest Night

 

Men "The Master" Nguyen was the star of Cardplayer Magazine and Bodog's inaugural "Biggest Night in Poker," capturing the coveted Best Player honors for 2005.

Nguyen had a career-year in 2005; a tough accomplishment considering Nguyen was already a three-time Player of the Year recipient (1997, 2001, 2003) and is one of the most decorated and recognized professionals ever to play.

In front of family, friends, poker professionals, and a host of poker-loving celebrities, Nguyen thanked the crowd for their support and used his acceptance speech to speak about the growth of poker and his increasing love of the game.

"This country made me a poker champion," Nguyen said in a Bodog press release. "It made my dreams come true."

Cardplayer Magazine awards the Player of the Year title annually, using a point system that gives players certain values for their placement in major poker tournaments. The higher a participant places in a tournament, the more points they earn.

In 2005, no one earned more points than "The Master."

Nguyen took home the top award by pouring on the points in the year's final months, earning 1,500 points in November and December to reach a total of 4,604. Additionally, Nguyen totaled $973,620 in winnings and 16 final tables en route to the title.

The winner told Bodog media representatives that in 2005 he was most proud of setting lifetime records that will be tough to surpass, like becoming the all-time leader in World Series of Poker money finishes, with 49.

In years past, Cardplayer Magazine awarded the "Player of the Year" without much fanfare, running an article in their publication that acknowledged the winner.

This year, Cardplayer wanted to make a night of it.

Attempting to cash in on the current popularity of poker, the idea for a "Biggest Night in Poker," an event that mimics traditional award shows like the Oscars, "seemed a fitting way to celebrate the awards," Bodog representatives said.

The inaugural gala took place on Wednesday, February 15 at the Henry Fonda Music Box Theatre in Old Hollywood, California. Bodog and Cardplayer Magazine combined to create a show that may become an annual event.

Neither Cardplayer nor Bodog would comment on plans for next year's show.

Television star Brad Garret (Everybody Loves Raymond) emceed the inaugural night, which saw an attendance of more than 400 stars, fans, and pros.

Bodog CEO and event organizer Calvin Ayre said high attendance figures was a direct result of the recognized worldwide poker boom, both land-based and online play.

"Tonight we exalt in poker's tremendous success. We honor the players and their accomplishments," Ayre said in a press release. "But at Bodog we know we will be celebrating again and again. These kinds of nights will soon be commonplace as our industry continues to eclipse milestones. I'm glad we produced a high-caliber show."

Phil Ivey won the most awards, taking in the coveted "Most Feared," the "Best No-Limit Texas Hold'em Player," and the "Best Heads up Player" trophies.

The night solidified Ivey's place as one of the top players in the profession, further proven by the fact that he was nominated for a total of five awards.

Ivey's nearest competitors were Daniel "Poker Kid" Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth, who were each nominated for three awards.

Negreanu accepted his fan choice award in a gracious fashion, receiving the fan's "Favorite Poker Player" trophy by thanking Ivey for "allowing him to win something."

The only other multiple-award winner beside Ivey was Chip Reese, who took trophies for "Best Mixed Game Player" and "Best Cash Game Player."

The professionals chose the winners for the awards that dealt strictly with poker play. Fans were able to vote for two awards, "Best Celebrity Player," and "Favorite Player." Fan votes were tallied at Cardplayer.com.

Other winners included "Best Celebrity Player" Jennifer Tilly, "Most Underrated Player" Allen Cunningham, "Best Female Player" Jennifer Harman, "Breakthrough Player" Michael Gracz, and "Most Entertaining Player" Mike Matusow.

The last two awards were reserved for overall poker excellence. World Poker Tour announcer Mike Sexton received the "Poker Ambassador" award and legendary poker player Doyle Brunson took home the inaugural "Lifetime Achievement award."

Donning his traditional cowboy headgear, Brunson received his award to an extended standing ovation.

According to Bodog, celebrities in attendance included "Boston" Rob and Amber Mariano (Survivor), Christopher Masterson (Malcolm in the Middle), Danny Masterson and Laura Prepon (That 70's Show), Don Felder (of the Eagles) and Gilby Clarke, (formerly of Guns 'N Roses).

Monday, March 20, 2006

UK Gaming Academy Officially Opens

 

As reported by the BBC: "The UK's first gaming academy, to teach trainee croupiers the tricks of the trade, will be officially opened in Lancashire on Wednesday.

"Blackpool and The Fylde College has built its own training casino in the resort, earmarked to benefit from the government's gambling law reforms.

"Courses ranging from GCSE to foundation courses for degrees will be available to students aged over 18.

"Students will learn skills such as operating a roulette wheel and table…"

Friday, March 17, 2006

Washington Tribal Casino Planned for 2007

 

As reported by the Seattle Times: "A new tribal casino that will be the first on the Eastside and the closest to Seattle could open as early as the fall of 2007.

"The Snoqualmie Tribe's five-year quest to build a casino on 56 acres off Interstate 90 east of Issaquah cleared a big hurdle Thursday when the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs gave the land federal reservation status."

"The 600-member tribe has been waiting since 2001 for that to happen so it could create its economic engine: a 150,000-square-foot casino 27 miles from Seattle."

"Getting reservation land status means the parcel falls under tribal authority and is generally exempt from state laws."

"It will be the newest addition to tribal gaming in the Puget Sound region, which has casinos operated by the Tulalip, Puyallup and Muckleshoot tribes"

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