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Sunday, April 30, 2006

IGCE a Huge Success

 

The International Gaming Conference & Expo (IGCE), which took place April 9th-11th in San Jose, Costa Rica, dramatically exceeded its goal of addressing issues of growth, technology, legalities and consolidation as they affect the companies competing within this burgeoning industry of gaming. As the accolades continue to pour in from those who attended, exhibited and sponsored, plans are presently underway for IGCE Europe, to be held in Dublin, Ireland, September 10-12 at Fitzpatrick Castle. "It was clearly our intention to take the lead as a conference destination for the industry," indicated Chris Dauer, Director of Conferences for The Sports Network, organizer of the event, "and the final results have indicated that the first step towards that goal has been achieved. Those are the facts, not self-aggrandizement or breast-beating by ourselves, the organizers, but truly the reflection of the results. The plaudits and kudos, the compliments, have been ongoing and we fully expect that Dublin will be twice as big and successful as Costa Rica.

"Consequently, one's accomplishments and successes are best judged by what others have to say about your efforts, and not by self-indulgence, so inclusion of those comments are more than ample confirmation of the result, as well as what the future holds."

"I've been to many conferences over the years, as speaker, moderator, chairperson and attendee in some cases but this was the best opening cocktail party for those in attendance that I have seen," said Joe Kelly, a renowned attorney and Professor of Business Law at SUNY College at Buffalo, who spoke on a panel addressing the political hurdles facing the industry world-wide today. "It was not only planned down to the last minute detail but organized in such a fashion that speakers, sponsors, attendees and exhibitors were able to interact for extended periods of time without worrying about dinner plans thanks to the repast offered. Just fantastic!"

"Congratulations on a really great conference! I don't think I have ever spoken before a more interested audience. And a lot of people told me that our legal debate was the best of its kind they had ever seen," stated I. Nelson Rose, attorney and gaming law expert, who debated Bob Blumenfeld, one of the lead counselors for Antigua in the case against the U.S. in the WTO. "I am glad I was able to help make the conference such a success."

Melissa Kearns, Assistant Director for Conferences at TSN, added that "Our direction of analyzing and examining the gaming industry today, and what the future holds, began, sustained and closed with presentations followed by questioning and interacting with some of the preeminent names in the industry and organizations that have helped to set the height of the bar. It is fully our intention to maintain that pace when we arrive in Dublin in September and it is very encouraging to see that the inquiries for sponsorship, exhibiting, speaking and attending are already coming to us in great numbers. Those who have attended conferences for years, who are extremely knowledgeable and respected, have added such laudatory comments as the following:

'The show had a good flow, interesting topics, and a great mix of panelists. I was proud to be a part of the maiden voyage!' - Terry Lefton, Editor at Large, Sports Business Journal

'The event was not only informative, but the most well planned event I have attended in years. I will definitely be in attendance in Dublin.' - Michael Caselli, Editor, iGaming Magazine

'The convention dramatically exceeded its goal of addressing issues of growth, technology, legalities and consolidation as they affect the companies competing within this rapidly expanding industry. With a brilliant first effort behind them, the IGCE takes on Dublin, Ireland in the fall of 2006.' - Buzz Daly, Contributing Writer, EOG.com

"It is expected," Ms. Kearns concluded, "that everyone will be marking down those dates in September for IGCE Europe and that ours, in Costa Rica and Ireland, will be the mainstays and principal gathering places for conference participants for the future."

Casino Data Imaging Announces New Sales

 

Casino Data Imaging (CDI), the casino industry leader in data visualization and report writing slot analysis solutions, announced today that Casino Del Sol, Casino of the Sun, Paradise Casino Arizona, and Paradise Casino California have licensed CDI's CasinoCAD(C) v4 business intelligence program. Casino Del Sol and Casino of the Sun (owned and operated by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona) and Paradise Casino Arizona and Paradise Casino California (owned and operated by the Quechan Indian Nation) are the latest in a growing list of world-class gaming companies that are leveraging the power and flexibility of CDI's CasinoCAD(C) analysis program.

"We are very excited about working with CDI and look forward to using the system as a means of making informed real-time decisions which will impact our bottom line," said Roy Corby, vice president of gaming for Casino Del Sol and Casino of the Sun.

CasinoCAD(C) delivers actionable slot analysis to casino and corporate personnel via point-and-click report generating, color-coding, data mining, and data drilldown techniques. The program allows casino management to quickly generate, share, and present graphical financial analysis, financial report analysis, floor profiles, charts, and group/query analysis via snapshots, html export, print, plot, and e-mail features.

"We have a very complex, diverse and multi-lingual market. We look forward to CDI tools helping us break through some of those barriers and answering many of our analysis questions with quantifiable data analysis that CasinoCAD provides," said Charles B. Montague Sr., general manager of Paradise Casino Arizona and Paradise Casino California.

"CasinoCAD(C) is a great example of how leading organizations are using BI tools to gain a companywide understanding of casino performance to make informed decisions in time with the pace of business," said George Levine, CDI corporate spokesman. "The innate integration capabilities and scalability of CasinoCAD(C) and CasinoCAD(C) Enterprise uniquely positions our multi-casino clients to constantly feel the pulse of their casino slot operations. Quickly and securely CasinoCAD(C) delivers actionable data to employees across the enterprise." With more than 130 clients in North America monitoring more than 200,000 machines, CasinoCAD(C) has become an important analysis tool for users of ACSC, Aristocrat Oasis, Bally System One, IGS, IGT, SDG, and SDS slot information systems. CDI's continued customer satisfaction proves CasinoCAD(C) is fulfilling its commitment to focused development and value-added support to a diversified user base. Look for CDI at the May 4-5 Southern Gaming Summit in Tunica, Miss., and May 24-25 Gaming Technology Summit in Las Vegas.

Tourist Missing After Gambling Binge

 

As reported by the UK Daily Telegraph: "A British tourist is missing after apparently gambling away the money for her return flight to London at Star City casino. "Frances Mary Embleton, 24, from London, was last seen at the Three Wise Monkeys bar, in Sydney's CBD, last Saturday afternoon. "Police said she told a bar patron she had gambled her savings at the Star City Casino and could not make the final payment on her fight to London.

"Friends became concerned when she did not show up for a planned farewell party later that night.

"Ms Embleton, who had been in Australia on a 12-month working visa, also missed her flight from Sydney airport last Monday.

".She is European in appearance, of slim build with blonde hair and blue eyes. Ms Embleton was last seen wearing a singlet or white top, black cargo pants and black thongs."

Odds for Lehigh Valley, Poconos Slots Improve

 

As reported by the Morning Call: "The odds of a casino coming to the Lehigh Valley, the Poconos or both got better this week as opposition to a proposed $650 million slots parlor, hotel and convention center in Limerick Township intensified. "Township supervisors voted unanimously Thursday night to tell the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board they oppose the slots parlor. Boyd Gaming, one of the nation's largest gambling companies, proposed the casino for a 125-acre site near the Limerick nuclear power plant.

"Officials in Allentown and Bethlehem, which are both potential host cities for a new casino, said opposition in Limerick can only make a Lehigh Valley slots parlor more likely.

"Six companies are competing for two licenses to build stand-alone casinos outside Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Two casinos are proposed in the Poconos, and one each is proposed in Allentown, Bethlehem, the Gettysburg area and Limerick, Montgomery County.

".In their vote against the casino, the Limerick supervisors directed community outreach consultant Mike Pincus to present their opposition to the gaming board. The five supervisors did not say why they're against the casino."

Blackpool Nightclub Proposed for Casino

 

As reported by the Blackpool Today: "Coral Island is planning to convert the former Palace nightclub into a three-storey gaming venue which would also include a restaurant and a show bar. "Called the Coral Island Casino, it would boast a pirate theme and act as a complementary attraction to the company's existing Coral Island amusement centre. David Biesterfield, group development director for the Noble Organisation, which owns Coral Island, said: 'This will be the best casino in Blackpool.

"'It will have a variety of table games and slot machines and a mix of automated and traditional gaming.'

".The Noble Group is in the process of applying for its casino licence under existing legislation."

IGCE a Huge Success

 

The International Gaming Conference & Expo (IGCE), which took place April 9th-11th in San Jose, Costa Rica, dramatically exceeded its goal of addressing issues of growth, technology, legalities and consolidation as they affect the companies competing within this burgeoning industry of gaming. As the accolades continue to pour in from those who attended, exhibited and sponsored, plans are presently underway for IGCE Europe, to be held in Dublin, Ireland, September 10-12 at Fitzpatrick Castle. "It was clearly our intention to take the lead as a conference destination for the industry," indicated Chris Dauer, Director of Conferences for The Sports Network, organizer of the event, "and the final results have indicated that the first step towards that goal has been achieved. Those are the facts, not self-aggrandizement or breast-beating by ourselves, the organizers, but truly the reflection of the results. The plaudits and kudos, the compliments, have been ongoing and we fully expect that Dublin will be twice as big and successful as Costa Rica.

"Consequently, one's accomplishments and successes are best judged by what others have to say about your efforts, and not by self-indulgence, so inclusion of those comments are more than ample confirmation of the result, as well as what the future holds."

"I've been to many conferences over the years, as speaker, moderator, chairperson and attendee in some cases but this was the best opening cocktail party for those in attendance that I have seen," said Joe Kelly, a renowned attorney and Professor of Business Law at SUNY College at Buffalo, who spoke on a panel addressing the political hurdles facing the industry world-wide today. "It was not only planned down to the last minute detail but organized in such a fashion that speakers, sponsors, attendees and exhibitors were able to interact for extended periods of time without worrying about dinner plans thanks to the repast offered. Just fantastic!"

"Congratulations on a really great conference! I don't think I have ever spoken before a more interested audience. And a lot of people told me that our legal debate was the best of its kind they had ever seen," stated I. Nelson Rose, attorney and gaming law expert, who debated Bob Blumenfeld, one of the lead counselors for Antigua in the case against the U.S. in the WTO. "I am glad I was able to help make the conference such a success."

Melissa Kearns, Assistant Director for Conferences at TSN, added that "Our direction of analyzing and examining the gaming industry today, and what the future holds, began, sustained and closed with presentations followed by questioning and interacting with some of the preeminent names in the industry and organizations that have helped to set the height of the bar. It is fully our intention to maintain that pace when we arrive in Dublin in September and it is very encouraging to see that the inquiries for sponsorship, exhibiting, speaking and attending are already coming to us in great numbers. Those who have attended conferences for years, who are extremely knowledgeable and respected, have added such laudatory comments as the following:

'The show had a good flow, interesting topics, and a great mix of panelists. I was proud to be a part of the maiden voyage!' - Terry Lefton, Editor at Large, Sports Business Journal

'The event was not only informative, but the most well planned event I have attended in years. I will definitely be in attendance in Dublin.' - Michael Caselli, Editor, iGaming Magazine

'The convention dramatically exceeded its goal of addressing issues of growth, technology, legalities and consolidation as they affect the companies competing within this rapidly expanding industry. With a brilliant first effort behind them, the IGCE takes on Dublin, Ireland in the fall of 2006.' - Buzz Daly, Contributing Writer, EOG.com

"It is expected," Ms. Kearns concluded, "that everyone will be marking down those dates in September for IGCE Europe and that ours, in Costa Rica and Ireland, will be the mainstays and principal gathering places for conference participants for the future."

Casino Data Imaging Announces New Sales

 

Casino Data Imaging (CDI), the casino industry leader in data visualization and report writing slot analysis solutions, announced today that Casino Del Sol, Casino of the Sun, Paradise Casino Arizona, and Paradise Casino California have licensed CDI's CasinoCAD(C) v4 business intelligence program. Casino Del Sol and Casino of the Sun (owned and operated by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona) and Paradise Casino Arizona and Paradise Casino California (owned and operated by the Quechan Indian Nation) are the latest in a growing list of world-class gaming companies that are leveraging the power and flexibility of CDI's CasinoCAD(C) analysis program.

"We are very excited about working with CDI and look forward to using the system as a means of making informed real-time decisions which will impact our bottom line," said Roy Corby, vice president of gaming for Casino Del Sol and Casino of the Sun.

CasinoCAD(C) delivers actionable slot analysis to casino and corporate personnel via point-and-click report generating, color-coding, data mining, and data drilldown techniques. The program allows casino management to quickly generate, share, and present graphical financial analysis, financial report analysis, floor profiles, charts, and group/query analysis via snapshots, html export, print, plot, and e-mail features.

"We have a very complex, diverse and multi-lingual market. We look forward to CDI tools helping us break through some of those barriers and answering many of our analysis questions with quantifiable data analysis that CasinoCAD provides," said Charles B. Montague Sr., general manager of Paradise Casino Arizona and Paradise Casino California.

"CasinoCAD(C) is a great example of how leading organizations are using BI tools to gain a companywide understanding of casino performance to make informed decisions in time with the pace of business," said George Levine, CDI corporate spokesman. "The innate integration capabilities and scalability of CasinoCAD(C) and CasinoCAD(C) Enterprise uniquely positions our multi-casino clients to constantly feel the pulse of their casino slot operations. Quickly and securely CasinoCAD(C) delivers actionable data to employees across the enterprise." With more than 130 clients in North America monitoring more than 200,000 machines, CasinoCAD(C) has become an important analysis tool for users of ACSC, Aristocrat Oasis, Bally System One, IGS, IGT, SDG, and SDS slot information systems. CDI's continued customer satisfaction proves CasinoCAD(C) is fulfilling its commitment to focused development and value-added support to a diversified user base. Look for CDI at the May 4-5 Southern Gaming Summit in Tunica, Miss., and May 24-25 Gaming Technology Summit in Las Vegas.

Tourist Missing After Gambling Binge

 

As reported by the UK Daily Telegraph: "A British tourist is missing after apparently gambling away the money for her return flight to London at Star City casino. "Frances Mary Embleton, 24, from London, was last seen at the Three Wise Monkeys bar, in Sydney's CBD, last Saturday afternoon. "Police said she told a bar patron she had gambled her savings at the Star City Casino and could not make the final payment on her fight to London.

"Friends became concerned when she did not show up for a planned farewell party later that night.

"Ms Embleton, who had been in Australia on a 12-month working visa, also missed her flight from Sydney airport last Monday.

".She is European in appearance, of slim build with blonde hair and blue eyes. Ms Embleton was last seen wearing a singlet or white top, black cargo pants and black thongs."

Odds for Lehigh Valley, Poconos Slots Improve

 

As reported by the Morning Call: "The odds of a casino coming to the Lehigh Valley, the Poconos or both got better this week as opposition to a proposed $650 million slots parlor, hotel and convention center in Limerick Township intensified. "Township supervisors voted unanimously Thursday night to tell the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board they oppose the slots parlor. Boyd Gaming, one of the nation's largest gambling companies, proposed the casino for a 125-acre site near the Limerick nuclear power plant.

"Officials in Allentown and Bethlehem, which are both potential host cities for a new casino, said opposition in Limerick can only make a Lehigh Valley slots parlor more likely.

"Six companies are competing for two licenses to build stand-alone casinos outside Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Two casinos are proposed in the Poconos, and one each is proposed in Allentown, Bethlehem, the Gettysburg area and Limerick, Montgomery County.

".In their vote against the casino, the Limerick supervisors directed community outreach consultant Mike Pincus to present their opposition to the gaming board. The five supervisors did not say why they're against the casino."

Blackpool Nightclub Proposed for Casino

 

As reported by the Blackpool Today: "Coral Island is planning to convert the former Palace nightclub into a three-storey gaming venue which would also include a restaurant and a show bar. "Called the Coral Island Casino, it would boast a pirate theme and act as a complementary attraction to the company's existing Coral Island amusement centre. David Biesterfield, group development director for the Noble Organisation, which owns Coral Island, said: 'This will be the best casino in Blackpool.

"'It will have a variety of table games and slot machines and a mix of automated and traditional gaming.'

"…The Noble Group is in the process of applying for its casino licence under existing legislation…"

Allegiant Air Cancels Ad Deal

 

Allegiant Air, the Las Vegas-based low-fare air carrier, has abruptly canceled an ad deal with an online casino company that would have turned six of the airline's jets into flying billboards. Allegiant specializes in flying tourists from middle-market cities such as Des Moines, Iowa, and Shreveport, La., to Las Vegas.

Ponder Harrison, Allegiant's managing director, said Allegiant pulled the plug on the deal with Bodog.com after airline executives learned more about the Justice Department's views on advertising Internet gambling, which the government considers to be illegal.

Allegiant canceled the deal after a Las Vegas Sun reporter questioned an airline executive .

Allegiant wouldn't disclose the value of the canceled deal, but published reports said it was worth $500,000.

Harrison said Mylar film with the Bodog brand had already been applied to the fuselages of five MD-80 jets .

"The more we did our due diligence, the more we became uncomfortable with displaying the brand," Harrison said.

Bodog had hoped its three-month deal with Allegiant would reach gamblers who go to Las Vegas once or twice a year and might consider playing online. Tray tables resembling blackjack tables were also planned .

In a statement, Bodog's founder and Chief Executive Calvin Ayre said he understood Allegiant's decision.

"I have no problem with Allegiant changing our agreement when faced with this type of threat," Ayre said. "We 100 percent support them and are saddened that they are not being able to pursue their constitutionally protected rights of free speech in this case."

Saturday, April 29, 2006

PBL to Manage Moscow Casino

 

As reported by Hotels Magazine: "Australia's Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd (PBL) has signed an agreement with Russia's Crocus Group and is expected to manage a casino and a hotel in Moscow, said Emin Agalarov, one of owners of Crocus Group, Russian business daily Vedomosti reported Friday. Crocus Group is building the 24.300 square meter casino and the about 80,000-square-meter hotel at the Crocus City Mall at the intersection of the Moscow ring road and Volokolamskoye highway, Agalarov said.

".However, the agreement between PBL and Crocus Group was confirmed by Sergei Riabokobylko, managing director of Cushman&Wakefield Stiles&Riabokobylko real estate company, which consulted the companies on the project, the daily reported. PBL will be the first foreign company managing a casino in Russia, Riabokobylko said.

"However, PBL may wait until the legislation regulating gambling business in Russia is clarified, said Lavrentiy Gubin, spokesman for the Netherlands-based Storm International B.V. company, that manages casinos in Moscow, the daily said."

Pechanga Casino Enacts Tips Pool

 

As reported by the Press Enterprise: "An ace and a face mean money at the blackjack table, but for dealers at some Inland tribal casinos, shuffling cards isn't paying off like it used to. "Next month, Pechanga Resort & Casino near Temecula will become the latest tribal gaming hall in California to require table game dealers to pool their tips and split them equally instead of keeping what they make individually. "That means dealers assigned to low-stakes tables or slow times of the day will pocket as much as those who work high-limit tables or during prime weekend hours.

"The change is the result of an agreement between the casino and the Internal Revenue Service, which requires dealers to report tips as income, according to a statement from Michelle Schilder, Pechanga's vice president of marketing.

".The change is good for dealers because those with more seniority can work daytime hours without worrying about losing out on the best tips, [David Fendrick, chief operating officer for the Agua Caliente tribe] said.

".But Fendrick acknowledged that some of his 250 dealers were unhappy with the policy -- and some even quit -- because they like taking money home at the end of every shift and because some of them now make less money.

NFTA Removed from Buffalo Casino Lawsuit

 

As reported by the Business First of Buffalo: "The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority has been removed from the laundry list of defendants in a civil lawsuit filed, aimed at preventing the Seneca Nation of Indians from building the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in downtown Buffalo. "In an agreement with Citizens for a Better Buffalo, the group that filed both state and federal lawsuits concerning the planned downtown casino, the NFTA was stricken from the defendants list.

".The NFTA had been included because the authority and the Seneca Gaming Corp. had been negotiating about the possibility of the 100,000-square-foot casino going in the second floor of the historic DLW Terminal, a building the authority owns. Those talks have long since broken off."

Nevada Gold Granted Temporary NY License

 

Nevada Gold & Casinos, Inc. today announced that on April 26, 2006, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board granted a temporary conditional track license to Nevada Gold NY, Inc. on behalf of Tioga Downs. The license enables Tioga Downs to continue the current construction and development schedule. Issuance of a final license is subject to compliance with various conditions. Nevada Gold & Casinos, Inc., through Nevada Gold NY, Inc., owns a 40% membership interest in American Racing and Entertainment, LLC. American Racing owns the Tioga Downs Racetrack in Nichols, New York.

John A. Arnesen, President & COO of Nevada Gold & Casinos, Inc., commented, "Receiving this temporary conditional license marks an important step in our progress at Tioga Downs. We continue to be very excited about bringing this racing and entertainment facility to the region."

Ameristar Fined for Jackpot Limits

 

As reported by the Kansas City Star: "Pai gow poker players at Ameristar's Kansas City casino were prevented from winning the top prize of $62,500 because the company had improperly posted a $20,000 lid on jackpots. "The Missouri Gaming Commission on Wednesday fined the casino $5,000. The commission forbids table-game payout limits to be less than the amount of each game's maximum bet times its maximum odds.

"Ameristar limits pai gow wagers to $25, and the commission said the odds of a player getting the game's top hand were 2,500 to 1, which would require a top jackpot of $62,500.

"Steve Johnson, the commission's acting director, said there was no way to determine how long the improper jackpot limits had been in place at Ameristar's five Fortune Pai Gow tables, nor whether any player had been underpaid."

Powerball Winner Donates to Buddhist Temple

 

As reported by the Lincoln Journal Star: "For four years, members of Lincoln's Vietnamese Buddhist community have scrimped and saved for their dream of a new temple. Now they're $400,000 closer - thanks to a gift from Powerball winner Quang Dao. "Dao, who has been active in the Linh Quang Buddhist Center, dropped by the existing temple at 216 W. F St. a couple of Sundays ago and more than doubled the pot.

".The Vietnamese Buddhist community bought 20 acres in 2002 at Southwest 33rd Street and West Pleasant Hill Road for a new temple. The converted house they're in now has been used for worship, prayer and meetings since the early 1990s.

"The temple serves about 1,000 Vietnamese Buddhists living in Lincoln.

".Dao was one of eight employees of Lincoln's Cook's food processing plant who shared the largest Powerball jackpot in U.S. history in February.

"Each winner received $15.1 million after taxes. Dao reportedly planned to spend some of the money building homes for himself and other family members in south Lincoln. He also was one of three winners who gave nearly $6,000 to residents of the People's City Mission on April 4."

Friday, April 28, 2006

Casinos Push Petition, Not Protest

 

Top executives representing the Strip's major casinos and the gaming industry's largest labor union urged employees to come to work Monday, saying they could do more in the effort for comprehensive immigration reform by staying on their jobs, rather than participating in a national day of protest. A planned nationwide job boycott by immigrants on Monday, designed to draw attention to the role they play in the U.S. economy, is part of the ongoing debate in Washington concerning an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws.

During a news conference Wednesday at the Stardust, D. Taylor, secretary-treasurer of the 50,000-member Culinary Local 226, said casino workers can do more to help bring about immigration reform by going to their jobs.

"May 1st is just one day," Taylor said. "On May 2nd, May 3rd or May 10th, we still have to get a bill through Congress that is comprehensive and addresses the core issues (of immigration reform)."

Casino executives fear thousands of Hispanic workers could take part in the planned Day Without Immigrants protest and cripple the Strip hospitality industry. Hispanic workers account for some 40 percent of the membership of the union, which represents cooks, maids, waiters, waitresses, bellhops and housekeepers at casino resorts on the Strip, said union political director Pilar Weiss.

Instead of boycotting their jobs for a day, Taylor asked employees to come to work and sign large petitions that will be placed in employee dining areas inside casinos along the Strip, downtown and at unionized properties that cater to local customers.

Also on Monday, the union will sponsor a rally at 6 p.m. at the Fremont Street Experience that will recognize the contributions immigrant labor has made to the gaming industry.

The petition will be printed in several languages, including Spanish and Chinese.

The petition asks Congress to adopt a plan for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship; plans for the future flow of workers and family members; protects workers; reunites families; and helps communities promote citizenship and civic participation.

Taylor said the gaming industry has been built by the efforts of an immigrant work force and that casino companies have recognized the contributions of those employees.

"The union and the gaming industry have been working on this issue hand in hand for years," Taylor said. "We're not Johnny Come Lately."

Gary Loveman, Harrah's Entertainment chairman and chief executive officer, Terry Lanni, MGM Mirage chairman and chief executive officer, Keith Smith, Boyd Gaming president, and Andrew Pascal, Wynn Las Vegas president, attended the news conference and were the first to sign the petition, followed by about two dozen Culinary workers.

Together, the gaming executives spoke on behalf of 19 Strip casinos.

"We are a nation of immigrants, and this is an issue that affects all of us," Lanni said. "These are employees who have come to this country looking for opportunities and they have taken advantage of those opportunities by earning good jobs."

Lanni said the gaming companies will discuss immigration reform with members of Nevada's congressional delegation and congressional leaders of both parties to voice the concern of the companies and employees.

More than half of MGM's 70,000 workers are minorities, and 30 percent are Hispanic, company officials said.

Pascal said the message has been sent to employees of Wynn Las Vegas that they are expected to be at their shifts on Monday. However, the casino is making contingency plans if there is a large amount of absenteeism. In some job classifications, Pascal said immigrant labor makes up 50 percent of the resort's work force. He said a large rate of employees staying away could have a "potentially devastating impact" on the services offered by Las Vegas hotel-casinos.

"(The petition) is a viable alternative," Pascal said. "We're encouraging everybody to be responsible."

Miguel Abad, who buses tables at the Les Artistes Steakhouse at Paris Las Vegas, signed the petition after the news conference. A U.S. resident for 14 years and now an American citizen, Abad said he has told fellow Paris immigrant employees they could do more good by staying on the job.

"One day is not going make a difference," Abad said. "We have to get a solution for this issue. Rather than stay out of work, we have to send a message to Congress."

Taylor said the names of between 50,000 and 70,000 casino employees on a petition calling for comprehensive immigration reform would send Congress "a powerful message from Nevada."

"These petitions are not going to stay here. They're going to Congress," Taylor said. "We view this as much broader than just one group. Our congressional delegation needs to hear this message in a unified way and in very strong terms."

While Hispanic immigrants have been the focus of the immigration reform issue, Taylor said the matter cuts across a wide path. He said one Las Vegas resort, where employees are covered by the Culinary union, has workers representing 84 nationalities.

"It's a compliment to this industry that they have embraced the contributions of immigrant workers," Taylor said. "This is a hotly debated issue right now in the streets of every single city in this country. In some ways, we haven't seen anything like this since the civil rights movement."

While Culinary representatives will place the petitions in all properties where it represents workers, nonunion Las Vegas resorts also could feel the effects of any one-day worker boycott.

At Station Casinos, which has more than 14,000 nonunion workers in 15 casinos, plans are under way to help employees support a change in immigration laws.

Company Vice President of Human Resources Valerie Murzl said initiatives throughout all properties involving workers would demonstrate Station's commitment toward immigration reform.

At The Venetian, the Strip's largest nonunion resort, spokesman Ron Reese declined to discuss the property's plans for next week should immigrant employees participate in the boycott.

Mobile Gambling Touted as Next Big Thing

 

As reported by the Telecom Asia: "Mobile gambling is touted as one of the big revenue drivers for mobile data services in the next five years. But it's not easy money, and the house is the big winner, so the real value for cellos may be in 3G-based VAS packages that maximize 3G's multimedia channels to deliver a rich experience "Mobile gambling isn't a new thing to the wireless industry. It's been around for years in one form or another. ".Inevitably, the emergence of sophisticated handsets and advanced mobile data services is already taking mobile gambling services and apps to new levels. Today, users can download Java-based gambling apps over higher-speed wireless networks.

"As 3G networks become mainstream and handsets with advanced Java and video capabilities, many believe that such trends will help mobile gambling grow sharply over the next few years.

"One source of optimism for mobile gambling enthusiasts is, of course, the rapid rise of remote gambling on the Internet, which has opened up sports betting and casino-style gaming to a mass-market audience.

".Estimates on the size of the mobile betting market vary widely. Figures from Informa Telecoms & Media indicate that the global mobile gambling revenues will grow from $1.2 billion in 2005 to $7.6 billion in 2010, split across the chief categories of sports and spread betting, mobile lotteries and scratch-cards, and casino and skill games. Juniper Research is even more bullish, predicting that global mobile betting will grow from $2 billion last year to $19.3 billion by 2009, with mobile lotteries becoming the most popular form of mobile gambling.

"Either way, Asia is pegged as a key market for mobile gambling over the next few years. Informa says mobile gambling in Asia will grow from $426 million to $2.7 billion by 2010, making it the second largest market for mobile gambling after Europe. Juniper Research reckons that Asia will see strong growth of mobile lotteries, due to the strong culture of lottery in the region - and because most lottery apps don't require 3G capabilities to succeed.

".The relationship between mobile gambling growth and regulatory climates is clearly illustrated in Europe. Mobile gambling is gaining traction there at rapid rates, largely due to more relaxed legislation."

NZ District Ignores Criticism

 

As reported by the Wanganui Chronicle: Rangitikei District Council has thumbed its nose at the New Zealand Problem Gambling Foundation. "The council yesterday resolved to confirm its existing policies on gambling and TAB venues without change, unmoved by the foundation's criticisms of some aspects of the policy. "The PGF had suggested that the current policy was too weak in the areas relating to the merging of chartered clubs and in defining specific purposes for some venues where gambling machines might be located near areas where food and drink were on sale and therefore where children might be present.

"While council chief executive Leigh Halstead hinted that he might like some discussion on those issues and perhaps for changes to be made, councillors generally dismissed the Foundation's assertions as 'minor . pedantic and semantic'."

California Compact Bill Move Angers Tribes

 

As reported by the San Bernardino County Sun: "A bill to ratify gaming compacts between the governor and two American Indian tribes was pulled Tuesday before going to the state Senate, sparking angry exchanges Wednesday among competing groups hoping to open casinos here. "The sponsor of the measure, state Sen. Wesley Chesbro, D-Arcata, removed the context of the bill before it was sent to the full Senate floor from a Senate committee, a press aide confirmed.

"The measure, Senate Bill 1582, called for ratifying a gaming compact signed Sept. 9 between Gov. Arnold Schwarnegger and the Los Coyotes and Big Lagoon tribes.

"The two tribes and a third tribe, the Chemehuevi of eastern San Bernardino County, are seeking local, state and federal approval to open multimillion-dollar casino resorts near west Barstow's two factory-outlet malls.

".Tom Shields, spokesman for Detroit-based BarWest Gaming, business partner for Los Coyotes and Big Lagoon, said the compacts are still alive in Sacramento."

London Clubs Shares Soar

 

As reported by Reuters: "Shares in casino operator London Clubs International rose by 8 percent on Wednesday on rumours bookmaker Ladbrokes was preparing to make a bid. "London Clubs shares closed 8.3 percent higher at 123-1/2 pence, valuing the group at around 275 million pounds, after talk Ladbrokes might offer up to 155 pence-a-share. ".For its part, London Clubs has been surrounded by bid speculation for months, mostly linked to stake-building by its Malaysian shareholder Genting , which reached 29.9 percent last April, stopping just short of the 30 percent at which it must launch a full take-over bid under UK rules."

Stanley Leisure Plans Expansion

 

As reported by icLiverpool: "Liverpool-based gaming group Stanley Leisure's expansion plans are snowballing, with a new venue now planned for Sheffield. "The firm, which announced it had also been granted permission for an £8m casino in Liverpool two weeks ago, is to create a 30,000 sq ft venue in Sheffield's St Paul's Place after city magistrates approved the plans. "Stanley is going ahead with a further five new licence applications for casinos and three new licence applications in respect of moves in London, Edinburgh and Southampton. "The 30,000 sq ft casino in Sheffield will be Stanley's first in the city. The new Liverpool casino will be Stanley's third here. Stanley expects to open the Sheffield casino in early 2008 and the Liverpool casino in late 2008.

"The 48-year-old company has focused on its casinos since selling its UK high street betting shops to rival William Hill last year for £504m."

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Football Betting Column: The Pinnacle Pulse

 

After a grueling 82-game regular season, the NBA playoffs are finally here, which is one of the busiest betting events every year. During the post season many sharper players shift their focus from sides and totals to something easier to beat: playoff series wagers. Betting on the winner of a series often provides a bigger return on investment than betting on a straight side. Consider this hypothetical: two fairly equal teams are playing a best of seven series at a neutral site. One can bet on any of the seven games at Pick'em, or the winner of the series. From basic handicapping, every bettor knows that the two teams aren't equal and that one of the teams should win each game about 52% of the time. The fair moneyline for each game is (-52/48 * 100) = -108.3. Taking advantage of the 10-cent reduced juice lines at Pinnacle Sportsbook will usually give bettors a marginal play, while betting at a traditional sportsbook's 20-cent lines will almost always leave players making negative wagers on NBA sides.

Considering the series play, the team handicapped as a favorite will win the series about 54.3% of the time. This is the danger bookmakers face when handicapping series - small mistakes in the line compound themselves, giving the players better opportunities than found just betting the games themselves.

The odds in this example are similar to what one would expect if San Antonio and Dallas meet in the second round of the playoffs using Sagarin's power ratings - the Spurs would most likely be a moderate favorite at home, and a small dog on the road. Unfortunately, blindly using power ratings doesn't work as well in the playoffs. Some teams, especially those that started the season slow and finished strong, will outperform their power rating. Understanding situational factors is critical not just to playoff game betting, but mid-series betting as well. Two examples being that home court advantage increases in a game 7 and that teams that get blown out usually play better than after losing a tight game.

Another helpful tip about mid-series betting is to pass on long-shots down 3 games to 0. There's been 63 times where a team was up 3-0 and no NBA team down 3-0 has ever comeback to win the series. The great comeback requires more than just winning 4 evenly matched games as the team up 3-0 is not only superior team, but will likely play 2 out of the 4 games at home. Consider the current Detroit-Milwaukee series. Detroit at home is a 13:1 favorite. On the road, Detroit will be better than a 2:1 favorite. If Milwaukee gets down 3-0 and the market prices are right, the Bucks chances of completing the first "grand-slam" series comeback are (1/14)(1/14)(1/3)(1/3), or 1764 to 1 against.

Whenever playing futures, bettors should also know how much juice they're paying. How can one figure this out? The Pinnacle Sports Book homepage provides a calculator where you can type in the moneylines and it will calculate the juice. Players who aren't used to higher moneylines often mistakenly believe they're paying more juice, since the two moneylines are further apart. If you see a series priced at -480/+440 at PinnacleSports.com, the house edge is only 1.26% - much less than the 1.92% edge on a MLB game with -104/-104 pricing. If you want to know how much juice another sportsbook is charging, use the calculator and compare.

A simple trend to remember with series or mid-series betting is to never underestimate the result of the first game in the series. The winner of the first game in a series ultimately takes the series 79% of the time.

Bettors should also be careful with the size of bets to avoid hedging. At Pinnacle Sports Betting there are regular patterns in futures betting. Usually players who bet the long shots often bet against their initial future once it has equity, trying to "lock in a profit". For example, let's say a bettor has the Indiana Pacers to win the series at +320 and the New Jersey Nets (Indiana's opponent) are a -240 favorite in game 7. Many players with Indiana series bets would bet on the Nets in game 7. It's fine to bet on the Nets if you think that's "the right side", but it's a mistake to bet New Jersey just to hedge a future bet on the Pacers. If you're in a position where you need to hedge, you may have wagered too much on Indiana initially. Hedging out half of a play costs the juice on the hedge play; if you had just bet half as much to start with, you'd avoid that cost.

One thing to remember is that home court advantage becomes monstrous in a seventh game where home teams have won a whopping 85% of seventh games in NBA history. While many sharps know this and bet the game, many fail to cash in on mid-series wagers. If a team is up 3-1 or 3-2, don't be afraid to lay heavy chalk on the favorite. The NBA is unique with its game-7 home "locks" - in baseball, for instance, the home team wins closer to only 50% of seventh games.

With the first round series in full swing, future betting at Pinnacle Sports has been extremely active. Here's just a few examples of the futures the public and pros have expressed definitive opinions.

Detroit to win NBA Championship -127

The Pistons opened at +114, and after being flooded with public money, Detroit has fallen to a massive -127 favorite to win the NBA Championship. The Pistons finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA, despite losing its final 2 games while resting many players. Historically, the public has always backed the team with the best record to win the league championship. This year the public has also given support for the Suns, Clippers, Lakers and Kings to emerge as NBA champions.

Dallas to win the Western Conference +346

After taking multiple hits from sharps, the odds on the Mavericks to win the Western Conference fell from +405 to where it currently stands at +346. While the wise guys are backing them to win the conference, no one thinks Dallas can hang with Detroit. The Mavericks opened at +980 to win the NBA title, but the influx of Detroit money has elevated Dallas's price to +1133.

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.

Missouri Court Throws Out Casino Appeal

 

As reported by St. Louis Today: "A Missouri appeals court has ruled that a Kentucky company lacks standing to mount an appeal that a new casino in downtown St. Louis is too far from the Mississippi River. "The decision was made public on Tuesday by the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District. Columbia Sussex Corp. had appealed the Missouri Gaming Commission's decision that the casino was 1,000 feet or less from the river. The $400 million casino is being built by Pinnacle Entertainment Inc."

British Gambling Ads Could Carry Wealth Warning

 

As reported by the Independent: "Future adverts by casinos, betting shops and internet poker sites may have to carry warnings about the dangers of gambling, under rules being drawn up by the Government before the lifting of the ban on advertising in the gambling industry next year. "Under last year's Gambling Act, gambling operators will be allowed to advertise in all media from September 2007. Tessa Jowell's Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Gambling Commission have recently proposed new rules for the industry to promote 'socially responsible gambling'.

"The new code, akin to the rules surrounding advertising for alcohol, seeks to pacify critics who fear the new gambling laws will lead to a surge in gambling addiction.

"...The Gambling Commission said it was considering whether adverts should carry warnings to discourage loss-chasing as in some countries, messages such as 'know your limit, play within it'..."

UK Conservatives Against Raising Super-Casino Numbers

 

As reported by the Financial Times: "The gaming industry's hopes for more Las Vegas-style super-casinos will be dashed tomorrow when the Conservatives rule out their support for plans to increase the number of properties. "Only one super-casino will be built following changes to gambling laws although the government has indicated it would be prepared to increase the number if there were sufficient cross-party support.

"However, the Tories will outline their opposition to an increase at a special seminar that will be attended by groups such as the Salvation Army and GamCare, which helps problem gamblers.

"In a letter sent to Tory MPs this week, Hugo Swire, the shadow culture secretary, called on his colleagues to stress their opposition to more super-casinos."

A Spot on the Hit List

 

Nevada Homeland Security commissioners will meet in closed session today to complete work on a study expected to identify Las Vegas as a likely target for international terrorism. The study essentially undercuts findings by the U.S. Homeland Security Department, which in January left Las Vegas off a list of 35 American cities terrorists are most likely to strike. That omission drew strong protests from Nevada officials and terrorism experts, who argued that the federal agency's analysis failed to consider the obvious desire of al-Qaida to strike symbols of Western materialism and decadence, such as Las Vegas.

Leaving Las Vegas off the list meant less federal anti-terrorism money that could be used by local agencies for prevention and response.

The state study, prepared by UNLV's Research Foundation and its Institute for Security Studies, is expected to lay out that argument and others, as well as detail locations in Clark County and throughout the state most vulnerable to attack.

It also is expected to detail flaws in intelligence sharing, emergency communications systems and evacuation plans and to recommend improvement in the ability of communities to provide medical care on a massive scale during a terrorist attack or natural disaster.

Many details, however, will remain classified. Nevada Homeland Security commissioners plan to meet again next week to decide how much information to make public. The study was paid for with $400,000 in federal Homeland Security funding. The findings will be provided to the federal agency as it updates its list of threatened cities later this year. Cities on the list are eligible for special federal anti-terrorism aid. Nevada Homeland Security Commission Chairman Dale Carrison, one of the few people to see the study, was reluctant Tuesday to discuss its conclusions until the entire commission has a chance to review the study this morning.

But he said that dealing with the threat of terrorism in the Las Vegas metropolitan area is his greatest concern.

"In my mind, an act of terrorism is the biggest threat to Southern Nevada," said Carrison, who is director of emergency services at University Medical Center.

His view was shared by Sheriff Bill Young, who is also on the commission. Young said he hasn't seen the study, yet.

"Our No. 1 issue isn't flooding, fires or earthquakes," Young said. "It's terrorism."

In explaining why Las Vegas didn't make the list of 35 likely target cities, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that his department had come up with a new risk-based formula that had made 3.2 billion computer calculations.

But Carrison and Young were astounded to learn earlier this month that Homeland Security personnel who compiled facts to feed into the computer relied on inaccurate information about Las Vegas.

Chertoff's subordinates told Nevada officials that such prominent and potential terrorist targets as the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Nellis Air Force Base had not been included.

Nevada officials are hoping to get a better shake from federal authorities during the next round of anti-terrorism funding.

Young has said that counterterrorism experts at the FBI and CIA consider Las Vegas one of the top five cities at risk in the country, not far behind New York and Washington.

The Sept. 11 hijackers spent time in Las Vegas before the attacks, and since then, the city has repeatedly surfaced in terrorism intelligence chatter.

Al-Qaida also has had a tendency to attack tourist sites in other parts of the world since Sept. 11 - a strategy that has not gone unnoticed in Las Vegas, a city regarded as a top international tourist destination. Las Vegas boasts of being home to 12 of the world's largest hotels.

Twenty Four Hours of Poker ... By the Numbers

 

I started playing poker at 12:28 p.m. on Saturday, April 22 and played the last hand of a $1/$2 modified H.O.R.S.E. cash game just over 24 hours later. Oh yeah, since we hadn't had quite enough at that point, we played a $5 No Limit Hold'em Tournament to cap the experience.

For the last few days, I've struggled to come up with something coherent to say about the experience. In fact, I've been struggling to come up with anything coherent to say about anything. Pretty much all I've been able to write is "poker," which, thanks to one player, became the catchall phrase for the group at approximately 2 a.m.

The Godfather, a man who refuses to be referred to by his given name in print, who traveled all the way from upstate New York, was the man behind this movement. Win a big pot? "Poker." Lose on a suck-out on the river? "Poker." Catch trip aces in razz? "Poker." Taking a bathroom break? "Poker."

Three days later, my brain is finally returning to normal, or at least my version of normal. Now that I've had a chance to analyze the experience, here's a breakdown of the 24-hour poker game by the numbers .

15: People who took part in the game 3: People who played for the full 24 hours 5: People who started at 12:28 p.m. on Saturday 8: Largest number of people playing at any given time 6: People playing at 12:28 p.m. on Sunday 6.4: Average number of people at the table 4: People in the No-Limit Tournament, including all three players who played for 24 hours 1: People allergic to our cat . sorry Frank! 150: Total man hours spent at the poker table by the group 4: Total woman hours spent at the poker table 3: Episodes of Star Wars played by our VCR 3: Times The Godfather said "Oh, this is the one that starts with words scrolling up the screen and then pans to spaceships in the sky." 2: Times we played the Rounders DVD 368: Miles driven by The Godfather to attend 872: Times the word "Poker" was said 3: Straight flushes showed down 5: Hands won with quads 20: Pushups I did at 3:30 a.m. 3: Variations of H.O.R.S.E. suggested by the group (including H.O.S.E.R., adding Pineapple for H.O.R.S.E. P. and adding a wild card game for W.H.O.R.E.S.) 12: Donuts brought by Liam at 4:25 a.m. 2: Rugby games played by Ryan prior to arriving 60: Pints of beer in a quarter barrel of Budweiser 52: Approximate number of pints consumed 10: Approximate number of pints consumed by Noah 13: Estimated liters of flatulence expelled in my living room 8: Estimated liters of flatulence expelled by just two players . thanks Shobu and Akin 64: Ounces of crackers and cookies consumed by the group 0: Ounces of vegetables consumed by the group

I lost eight hours of sleep and a few bucks along the way, but overall I think the experience was worthwhile, if only for the social aspect of the game.

I doubt I'll ever want to play poker (or do anything for that matter) for that long again. But who knows, maybe by the time I finish catching up on all my lost sleep, I'll forget about how hard it's been to function these last few days and only remember how much fun we had along the way.

All I know is I'm glad it's over. Poker.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Group Says Illegal Racing Bets Tally Inflated

 

As reported by the (China) Standard: "The Hong Kong Jockey Club has exaggerated the amount of horse-racing bets placed with illegal bookmakers to win legislators' support for the proposed betting duty reform, an anti-gaming watchdog has alleged. "With Jockey Club chairman Ronald Arculli earlier hoping the proposed betting duty reform could help the club recapture between 10 and 20 percent of the HK$50 billion to HK$60 billion in horse-racing bets now said to be placed with illegal bookies, Hong Kong Gambling Watch said Sunday the figures provided by the club are 'inaccurate' and 'unrealistic.'

"Group convenor Reverend Wu Chi-wai said a gambling study conducted by Hong Kong University last year showed that just 0.4 percent of the local adult population - or about 20,000 people - placed bets on horse racing through illegal bookies, while soccer betting receipts confiscated by police last year amounted to HK$10 million. He wondered how such a huge amount in illegal bets could be attributed to so few punters, as the club claimed..."

Analysts Examine Gaming Growth

 

Five prominent Wall Street analysts will examine the challenges and growth potential of gaming in the East at the 10th annual East Coast Gaming Congress, May 22-23 at the House of Blues here. East Coast gaming revenue surpassed $11 billion last year and is poised for strong growth with the legalization of slot machines in Pennsylvania and billions of dollars earmarked for expansion in other jurisdictions. The East Coast Gaming Congress will analyze this dynamic in the panel discussion "From Maine to Florida: The Wall Street View." The participants are:

-- Marc Falcone, Deutsche Bank

-- Dennis Forst, KeyBanc Capital Markets

-- Lawrence Klatzkin, Jefferies & Co.

-- William Lerner, Prudential Securities

-- Daniel Silvers, Fortress Investment Group

"These experts have significant influence in the gaming industry, from moving markets to shaping the investment climate. Their analysis is closely read in every executive suite in the industry. Attendees at the East Coast Gaming Congress will benefit tremendously from their insight," said Thomas Sykes, a principal with conference co-producer SOSH Architects.

The signature event of the East Coast Gaming Congress is the "Industry Leaders Forum," moderated by American Gaming Association President and CEO Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr. The participants are:

-- James Allen, CEO, Seminole Gaming

-- Peter M. Carlino, Chairman & CEO, Penn National Gaming

-- Gary Loveman, Chairman, CEO & President, Harrah's Entertainment

-- James J. Murren, President, CFO & Treasurer, MGM Mirage

-- James B. Perry, CEO & President, Trump Entertainment Resorts

-- Keith E. Smith, President & COO, Boyd Gaming

Conference registration is available at early-bird rates by visiting EastCoastGamingCongress.com.

The East Coast Gaming Congress is produced by Cooper Levenson, Gaming Industry Observer, Ernst & Young and SOSH Architects. Sponsors include A.C. Coin & Slot, Ainsworth Game Technology, Atlantic Cape Community College, Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority, Bally Technologies, Commerce Bank, Gaming Laboratories International, Global Gaming Business Magazine, International Game Technology, JCM American Corp., Jefferies & Co., MEI, New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, The Press of Atlantic City, Progressive Gaming International, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, South Jersey Industries, Sprint Nextel, and Vibrant Development.

UK Private Lottery Proposed

 

As reported by the Lancashire Evening Telegraph: "Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans hopes a private lottery will ensure worthy causes like the Bowland Mountain Rescue Team do not lose out on cash grants. "Following the launch of the new lottery, which Mr Evans says will be a wake-up call to the Government, he also called for changes to the rules of the National Lottery, giving more power to the punters to decide where their money should go."

Pennsylvania Lottery Fund Idea Criticized

 

As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "A top House leader has doubts about a key element of a property tax relief plan, threatening to complicate a legislative panel's efforts to produce an acceptable compromise. "House Republican leader Sam Smith, of Punxsutawney, said yesterday he didn't like the idea of transferring about $240 million from the state lottery fund to provide property tax and rent rebates this year for senior citizens.

".A six-member, House-Senate tax panel met briefly yesterday without reaching a solution. It plans to meet today with leaders of both chambers, along with Gov. Ed Rendell, in an effort to find a compromise on property tax relief that will pass both the House and Senate.

".The panel is trying to increase, from the current $15,000 to either $25,000 or $30,000, the annual income limits for seniors to qualify for property tax and rent rebates. The maximum rebate is now $500 a year, which the panel would like to increase to $650.

"But doing so will cost about $200 million, [House Democratic Whip Mike Veon] said. He favors transferring that amount from the Lottery Fund for two years and then repaying the lottery account by using the projected $1 billion in slots revenue."

Kentucky Lottery Selects Ad Agency

 

As reported by the Louisville Business First: "The Kentucky Lottery Corp. has selected Cincinnati advertising agency Northlich as its agency of record. "Northlich will partner with Cincinnati marketing firm DeanHouston Inc., which will serve as a consultant. "The two firms plan to launch a campaign that includes scratch-off and online games, with the first radio and television commercials airing in June."

Joe Bartholdi Wins $3.76 Million In Fourth WPT World Championship At Bellagio

 

The 2006 WPT World ChampionshipTwill be remembered in a string of superlatives - the most, biggest and first! When Joe Bartholdi, of Las Vegas, defeated the brightest poker talent from nearly 40 countries, he did so in a tournament that is going to be talked about for years. The finale to the WORLD POKER TOUR®'s Season IV drew a record-breaking 605 entrants, generated the highest ever WPT prize pool of more than $15 million, and for the first time in WPT history, awarded more than a million dollars to a player that qualified on a $25 satellite! Bartholdi pockets a coveted first prize of $3.76 million, the enviable title of WPT World Champion and a seat in the 2007 WPT World Championship at Bellagio.

The WPT World Championship is the jewel atop the crown of the WPT's fourth season. Its $15 million purse brings the total prize money for the 17 Season IV tournaments to a staggering $85+ million. The riveting shows, currently airing on the Travel Channel every Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET/PT, have revealed the 20 newest WPT Poker Millionaires. After the WPT World Championship that number rises to 23 as the tournament paid more than $3 million to first place, nearly $2 million to second place and $1 million to third place.

"This tournament captures the dream and the reason we created the WORLD POKER TOUR," says Steve Lipscomb, Founder and CEO of WPT Enterprises, Inc. (NASDAQ: WPTE). "The Championship is an open event where anyone with the drive and courage to enter can test his or her skills against the best players in the world. This Final Table match-up will absolutely fuel the poker fantasies of millions of players. We congratulate Joe and welcome him to our family of WPT Champions."

Champion Joe Bartholdi was cheered on by a sizable hometown crowd. His post-tournament plans include taking his cheering section out to "celebrate for a while," and once the party ends he intends go out and "buy a house." His friends were also heard to be talking about a Bartholdi-funded trip to the Caribbean. Money is no object for the newest WPT Millionaire.

Second place finisher, Davidson Matthew of Toronto, Canada, enthused, "This tournament has turned me from an amateur to a professional. It's set me up to play poker. Now if I lose, financially, it just doesn't matter." To put his accomplishment in perspective - his $25 spent on a satellite buy-in to cash over $1.9 million puts his winnings at $76,000+ for every dollar spent - now that's good investment!

Roland De Wolfe, of London, England, was the only previous WPT winner (Grand Prix de Paris, Season IV) to make the Final Table. De Wolfe also joins the ranks of WPT Millionaires as his third place finish awarded him $1,025,205. Claus Nielson of Las Vegas finished in fourth and cashed $659,120. Fifth place, with an award of $439,375, was given to James Van Alstyne also of Las Vegas. Sixth place and $292,915 goes to the legendary Men "the Master" Nguyen of Bell Gardens, California.

This tournament marked the closest yet that a woman has come to making the Final Table of the WPT World Championship. Vanessa Russo of Miami, FL, finished "on the bubble" -- seventh--but took home to the "Sunshine State" a consoling $263,625.

The $25,500 buy-in tournament at Las Vegas' Bellagio proved to be a lure to marquee players from all around the globe. Among those who took to the felt for the WPT World Championship were defending champion Tuan Le and Alan Goehring, plus T.J. Cloutier, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, Doyle Brunson, Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari, Jennifer Harman, Daniel Negreanu, Scotty Nguyen, Erick Lindgren, David Williams, Allen Cunningham, Men "The Master" Nguyen, Phil Ivey, Kathy Liebert, Chip Jett, Ted Forrest, Gavin Smith, Barry Greenstein, Paul Darden, Nick Schulman, Freddy Deeb, Jennifer Tilly, Michael Gracz, John D'Agostino, Hasan Habib, Scott Fischman and James Woods.

The international contingent also included Martin DeKniff, Paul Maxfield, Gus Hansen, David Benyamine, Juha Helppi, Chris Bigler, Humberto Brenes, Juan Carlos Mortensen, Johan Storakers, Marcel Luske, David "Devilfish" Ulliot, John Gale and Patrik Antonius, among others.

The 2006 WPT World Championship will bring the excitement coast-to-coast when it airs on the Travel Channel on Wednesday, June 28th at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

The WORLD POKER TOUR is the global leader in poker. The WPT introduced poker to a worldwide audience through its innovative and riveting brand of televised poker, now seen in more than 147 countries and territories. Capturing all the excitement and sizzling action at its 17 Tour stops around the globe, the show sets the gold standard in poker programming. The WPT inspired a global poker phenomenon that has attracted millions of men and women to the game and legions of devoted followers to the poker lifestyle. It has transformed poker into the sport of choice for vast numbers of viewers and players, and the hundreds of millions of dollars of prize money on the WPT have rekindled the promise of "The New American Dream." The WORLD POKER TOUR airs on the Travel Channel, every Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET/PT in the U.S. and on ITV4 in the U.K. For more information, go to www.worldpokertour.com.

About WPTE WPT Enterprises, Inc. (Nasdaq: WPTE) is a company engaged in the creation of internationally branded entertainment and consumer products driven by the development, production, and marketing of televised programming based on gaming themes. WPTE is the creator of the World Poker Tour®, a television show based on a series of high-stakes poker tournaments that airs on the Travel Channel in the United States and more than 147 markets globally. WPT Enterprises currently licenses its brand to companies in the business of poker equipment and instruction, apparel, publishing, electronic and wireless entertainment, DVD/home entertainment, casino games, and giftware.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Barden's Considered Serious Bidder for License

 

As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "When Don Barden came to Pittsburgh last week, he seemed like a long shot in his bid to secure the city's casino license. By the time he left, he had served notice that he wouldn't be treated as an afterthought. "As state Gaming Control Board public hearings wrapped up Wednesday, Mr. Barden had positioned himself as a more serious threat to the two bidders that have commanded the most attention, Forest City Enterprises and Isle of Capri Casinos Inc.

"Of the three, the Detroit businessman, who operates five casinos, including one in Las Vegas, appeared to do the most to improve his bid's standing, at least in terms of public perception.

"Much of that had to do with timing. With the caginess of a poker player, he waited until the day before the hearings, months after his competitors had trotted out their proposals, to commit funding to a new arena and to unveil a $350 million plan to redevelop the lower Hill District.

".Mr. Barden, head of PITG Gaming LLC, lined up just-retired Steelers star Jerome Bettis, who will lead a consortium on the Hill development, to counter the celebrity power of Steelers Hall of Famer Franco Harris for Forest City and the Penguins' Mario Lemieux for Isle of Capri.

".In two days of hearings, Mr. Barden raised his public profile in Pittsburgh, where he had not done one news conference before last week. And he proved to be quick on his feet.

". Mr. Barden's $1.1 billion bid includes a proposed $410 million Majestic Star casino to be built on the North Shore, west of Carnegie Science Center. He is pledging $7.5 million a year over 30 years under Gov. Ed Rendell's alternative Plan B for funding a new arena, plus a possible 300-room hotel."

Bingohall.com Study Looks at Online Players

 

A recent study by one of the largest bingo sites on the Internet, Bingohall.com, has found that offline and online demographics of bingo players do not always match up. The study, which was completed by a random sampling of thousands of real money online bingo players at the site, have concluded that offline and online bingo players are not the same. "Typically, if you walk into any offline bingo hall, you're going to find table after table of retired ladies sweating on the next number out", said Bingohall.com's VP Marketing Scott Logan. "We've found this just isn't the case when it comes to online players."

Logan went on to say that while the majority of their players were still women, the age demographic drops significantly, to around 35 years old. In line with this, the number of players working full or part-time was over 50%.

"We definitely see an influx of players logging on at the end of the working day in an attempt to relax and enjoy the evening with their online bingo friends", said Logan. "We provide an enjoyable community that makes it possible, with a range of bingo games with big jackpots along with other games such as slots, video poker and keno."

Bingohall.com offers a wide range of fun games such as bingo, slots, video poker and keno and awards over $8 million every month in prizes.

Calfornia Gaming: Tribes Fly High

 

Joe Welch Sr. has lived his whole life on the Barona Indian reservation, an 8,000-acre patch of ranch land nestled in a valley near the community of Lakeside. For years, he watched the poverty-stricken tribe struggle. He thought bringing a small bingo hall would be a step toward giving the community economic self-sufficiency. Never did Welch imagine that 20 years later, his idea would grow into a gambling operation rivals some of the Strip's well-known resorts.

At a cost of $320 million, the expansive Barona Valley Ranch sits as a tribute to the Indian tribe's perseverance. In 1983, Welch and the Barona Band of Mission Indians needed a favorable ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to have bingo.

In 2003 the bingo hall was replaced by a 400-room hotel that's surrounded by a 310,000-square-foot casino (MGM Grand's casino, by comparison, is 170,000 square feet) and an 18-hole golf course.

Welch, now 69, still serves on Barona's council. Soft-spoken and humble, the tribal elder says he's sometimes amazed at the riches the casino profits have brought the tribe and its 500 members.

"Our only goals were to do something for the community and our members," Welch said. "I think we've achieved that."

About an hour north of Barona, Steve Glisson piloted his van around the Pala Indian Reservation one morning and picked up a few of the 25 students who attend classes at the private Aswe-T Pati'a Christian Academy.

Glisson, principal of the tiny school located in a large portable across Highway 76 from the Pala Casino, doesn't belong to the tribe. His friendship with a tribal member, however, brought the school to Pala.

"She wanted a Christian school for the tribal children and she gave us the land for the building," Glisson said.

Serving grades 3-12, the school will move next fall into a new modular structure and will have room for all grades, which will double the enrollment. In addition to a normal school curriculum, the students receive a Christian education and a bonus: Once a month an Indian woman comes into the classrooms to teach tribal culture.

Tuition costs about $500 a month, a seemingly steep price to pay for members of the rural community. Glisson said there is just one reason why parents are able to give their children a private education: the annual payment each member of the Pala tribe receives from the earnings pool of the Pala Casino.

"There is absolutely no way this school would be here without the casino," Glisson said. "The tribal members have the money to pay for tuition, and a member provided land for the school."

Five years ago, San Diego's first Las Vegas-style casino opened after California voters approved Proposition 5 in 1998 and Proposition 1A in 2000, which allowed Indian tribes the right to have full-blown gambling on reservation land.

Gambling was viewed as an economic development tool Indian tribes could use to provide a revenue stream to members.

For most tribes, housing, medical insurance, education, tribal infrastructure and other economic development opportunities have increased, fueled by gambling revenue.

"Every tribe is different, and some are a lot more successful at this than others," said Robert Smith, the chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians. Smith is in his 17th year at the helm of the tribe with almost 700 voting members and their families.

"We've been able to do what we set out to accomplish, putting the money back into the tribe so we can use it for years to come," Smith said. "I think we've been successful."

Bonnie LaChappa, a councilwoman for the Barona Indians, said the large casino was controversial at first, but the tribe's operation of the bingo hall helped ease any fears.

"We're doing things for our members that we never thought possible," LaChappa said. "(Gaming) has meant so much for us."

California has 56 American Indian casinos, stretching as far north as Amador County near the Oregon border to the far southeast in Imperial County near Arizona.

Nowhere in California, however, have the Indian casinos gained a greater concentration than in San Diego County. Nine casinos are spread through the northern and eastern reaches of San Diego's rural communities, from a tiny slot machine parlor in Pauma Valley off Highway 76 to the expansive Barona Valley Ranch just northeast of Santee and El Cajon.

California's casinos operate 58,000 slot machines; in San Diego, 12,680 slot machines are being used, almost 23 percent of the state's total.

"Without question, this county, probably because of the sheer size of some of the facilities, has to be the casino leader in California," said Jerry Turk, who heads the management company that operates Pala Casino.

Turk said that when you add in the eight casinos in neighboring Riverside County and two casinos in San Bernardino County, Southern California drives the state's casino engine.

"It's remarkable to see what's happened in San Diego," Turk said.

One of the majority owners of Fitzgeralds in downtown Las Vegas for almost a decade, Turk cashed out in 1996 and retired to San Diego. But a chance meeting with representatives of the Pala Band of Mission Indians led to his involvement with the tribe's quest to open a casino on a portion of its 12,000-acre reservation in the shadow of Palomar Mountain.

Pala opened in April 2001 at a cost of $115 million with just a casino, event center and a handful of restaurants. In 2003, the tribe spent $125 million to add a 500-room hotel tower, a spa and convention space.

"The business has been phenomenal for the tribe," Turk said. "They run their business in a very democratic way and the casino proceeds have allowed them to do many things for the reservation and the community. They're very careful how they make outside investments, which is a good thing."

Customers to Pala and the other San Diego-area casinos come predominately from San Diego County, and nearby Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Los Angeles and Orange counties, two of the state's most populated counties, are void of Indian casinos, providing a steady customer base for San Diego's gambling halls.

"When we opened we thought all the guests would come from San Diego," Turk said. "We were wrong. We didn't focus on the fact Los Angeles and Orange County didn't have casinos. That's a huge amount of people, and we've been able to penetrate that market."

Operating a casino in California has some differences from operating in Las Vegas. One example is alcohol. While booze flows freely in Las Vegas 24 hours a day, liquor sales by state law are ended in California at 2 a.m. Casinos also can't give free drinks to gamblers.

Barona Valley Ranch doesn't even offer alcohol on the casino floor. Customers can order drinks in the Barona Oaks Steakhouse, in their hotel rooms and on the golf course, but not in the casino.

Barona casino leaders said the winding and hilly Wildcat Canyon Road that leads into the reservation is a primary reason they don't want to be responsible for sending alcohol-impaired gamblers out on the highway.

"It works for us," said Barona General Manger Karol Schoen. "Our customers appreciate the environment we've established. If you think that might be a negative, you should have seen our New Year's Eve party."

Revenue figures on Indian gaming are not easily accessible. The tribes don't publicly disclose monthly gaming win, but all figures are reported to the National Indian Gaming Association in Washington, D.C.

In 2004, the most recent year for which statistics were available, American Indian casinos generated $19.6 billion in gaming revenue. In California, the 56 tribal gaming operations reported gaming revenue of $5.8 billion, the highest of any state in the nation. Nongaming revenue generated by the Golden State's Indian casinos was $544.6 million, also highest in the nation.

A spokesman for the National Indian Gaming Association said figures for 2005 should be released within a month.

Companies managing the tribal casinos have different arrangements for revenue sharing. Some receive a set management fee, some a portion of all revenue generated by the property, while others have a contract calling for a little of both.

Harrah's Entertainment, the only major Las Vegas gaming company running a casino in the San Diego area, receives a percentage of the profits from the operation of Harrah's Rincon as a management fee from the Rincon San Luiseño Band of Mission Indians.

In the company's quarterly earnings statements, Harrah's protects the tribe's revenue secrecy by combining the fee with fees the company earns from managing American Indian casinos in Kansas, Arizona, North Carolina and on three cruise ships. The figure is under the heading labeled managed properties.

Revenue generated by the tribal casinos is used for economic development.

While most tribes won't divulge annual payments to members, Pala's Smith said each voting tribal member receives about $60,000 annually. The money for tribal members under age 18 is put into a trust that they can access once they achieve their high school diploma or an equivalent. What they do with the money is their business, Smith said.

"We have a financial department within the tribe that helps members invest their benefits," Smith said.

Since the Pala Casino opened, tribal members all receive medical, dental and life insurance coverage. The tribe spent almost $8 million to build a tribal administration building that is surrounded by an athletic complex.

The tribe operates its own infrastructure and Smith said money from the casino enhanced sewer treatment and trash collection. A $7 million fire station is under construction.

About 17 homes annually are built around the reservation and an elders program provides about 150 meals a day to homebound seniors.

"We had some stuff before gaming, but the money from the casino enhances everything and gives us a way to provide for our members," Smith said.

Similar activities have taken place on the Barona reservation.

More than $5.5 million has gone toward infrastructure enhancements, while the tribe pays its students $1,500 per semester in college scholarships as a way to give tribal members an opportunity to continue their education.

The tribe spent $225,000 to expand its reservation public school and, at a cost $1.2 million annually, members, spouses and dependents all have insurance coverage.

"The first thing the tribe did for its members was to buy insurance," LaChappa said. "We pay for schooling. I worked two jobs full time just to go to community college. My son won't have to work. He can concentrate on his schooling and that's such a good benefit."

IGT Appoints VP

 

IGT today announced the appointment of Jon Wade as its new Executive Vice President of Engineering, overseeing the management and deployment of the Company's various engineering and systems development groups. Wade is the former President of AgilePower Systems. As a founder of that company, he was responsible for its technology development strategy, product marketing and finances. He also spent 10 years with Sun Microsystems, Inc., during which time he managed the hardware development of the UltraSPARC V(TM)-based Enterprise Server family and served as product manager for high-performance interconnects.

Wade earned a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has many patents and published articles to his credit.

International Game Technology is a global company specializing in the design, development, manufacturing, distribution and sales of computerized gaming machines and systems products.

In California, Gambling is All About the Cards

 

California's Indian gaming regulations allowed tribal casinos to have live casino table games as long as the outcome is determined by cards. While blackjack, baccarat, poker and poker's variations, such as Let It Ride and Three Card Poker, were offered from the outset, the casinos seemed empty without the traditional roulette and craps tables, an essential aspect of the Strip's gambling offerings. Bingo, which had been legal on Indian lands since 1983, was still allowed.

"Our customers seemed to miss those particular games that we couldn't offer," said Lee Skelley, assistant general manger of casino operations for Barona Valley Ranch.

Individually, the casinos set out to get around the regulation, using cards as well as dice on craps tables and in conjunction with the spinning roulette wheel.

"We found a way to give players a variety of games," Skelley said. "The games are the same, the mathematics are the same, and the objects of the games are the same. But there is just a little variation."

At Barona, the craps tables have eliminated dice all together. Cards, aces through sixes, representing the six sides of a die, are placed in an automated card shuffler. The shooter -- the player who's turn it is to roll the dice -- tells the dealer how many cards to "burn" before turning over two cards, which determines the roll.

"It's still craps and we give the player some control by telling the dealer how many cards they want to burn," Skelley said.

Barona patented the game and has licensed it to other Indian casinos in California for a small fee.

Other San Diego casinos still allow players to roll dice, but it's in unison with cards determining the roll.

At Pala, a craps dealer places 36 cards in a shuffler -- representing the 36 possible combinations of two standard dice. Two cards are placed face down in red and blue boxes on the table and the shooter rolls red and blue dice. The die with the highest number determines which of the two cards the dealer will turn over as the play card.

Craps players at Harrah's Rincon use one red and one green die while six red and six green cards are placed face down on the table. The stick person calls out the roll and a dealer turns over the two cards that correspond to the roll.

"We'll explain the game to customers, and once they realize the odds and payouts are identical to the Las Vegas game, they seem to enjoy playing," said Joe Gonzales, table games manager at Harrah's Rincon.

Roulette, with odds and payouts similar to Las Vegas, is also determined by the cards.

At Pala, 38 cards representing the 38 roulette numbers (1-36, 0 and 00) are shuffled and four are dealt face down in four colored boxes on the table. The color of the wheel pocket in which the ball lands determines which card is turned over to reveal its number.

In Barona roulette, double zero is eliminated. A 37-card deck numbered 0-36 is shuffled. From the deck, three random cards are placed face down on the layout. One of these three cards will determine the winning number. The section on the wheel in which the ball drops (0-12, 13-24 or 25-36) dictates the particular card that will be revealed.

The Harrah's Rincon version of roulette -- Volcanic Roulette Bingo -- replaces the spinning wheel with 38 bingo balls tossed about in a bingo hopper. One ball is drawn to determine the game's outcome. The probabilities and odds are an exact mathematical duplication, as are the wagering choices, of the Las Vegas game.

Tribal Gambling: Leaving Las Vegas

 

After nearly five years working the slot floors at some of Las Vegas' most-recognized casinos, Mike Montenez took what he learned to Southern California. A slot host position at the 59,000-square-foot casino that Harrah's Entertainment manages for the Rincon San Luiseño Band of Mission Indians allowed Montenez, 35, to be closer to his family, especially his 11-year-old son, and still work in a career he enjoyed. But his new job in northern-most San Diego County allowed Montenez a benefit the majority of Las Vegas casino workers don't have. This fall, he'll own a pair of newly purchased season tickets to see his beloved San Diego Chargers.

Montenez's home in the Riverside County community of Temecula, about a 45-minute drive to Harrah's Rincon, is about a 90-minute drive to Qualcomm Stadium, home of the National Football League team.

"There are a lot of trade-offs (working in San Diego), but I also got tired of making the drive out here all the time to see my son," said Montenez, who has been with Harrah's Rincon for two years. "When I went to work at the Rio (also operated by Harrah's), my wife and I saw the opportunities to come out here and be closer to our families. So she got a job at Pechanga (an Indian casino in Temecula) and I transferred here. It's been a great move."

San Diego's nine casinos, which supply jobs to more than 13,000 workers, are dotted with transplanted Las Vegas casino workers.

Former Las Vegas casino owner Jerry Turk, whose management company has been operating Pala Casino for the Pala Band of Mission Indians since its opening almost five years ago, said most of the casino's senior managers have Las Vegas gaming experience.

The onset of casino gaming in Southern California forced Indian casinos to look to Las Vegas for experienced casino employees.

"Initially, when they opened table games, no one had ever dealt cards," Turk said. "We advertised in the Las Vegas papers and it built upon itself. Every dealer in Las Vegas knows what's going on in Southern California. If they want to get a pretty good job and change their lifestyle, they come here. Our dealers make an awful lot of money."

Rick Messura, assistant general manager for hospitality operations at the Barona Valley Ranch, spent 11 years in hotel management at Caesars Palace. American Indian casinos, he said, benefit from tapping into a pool of experienced casino workers from the Strip.

"We've surrounded ourselves with a lot of talent that came from gaming's biggest resorts," Messura said.

"I live in a city that's not all about gaming. There are so many other things to do (in San Diego) plus it's nice to live in a city where you're not reading about gaming all the time."

Many of the relocated Southern Nevadans wanted a climate change; they traded scorching summers in the desert for more temperate summers in beach communities.

Others wanted better jobs; they took their Strip employment experience and used their skills to advance their careers.

Joe Gonzales, a Harrah's Rincon table games manager, for example, came to San Diego to gain experience. He was working at Harrah's Las Vegas as a dealer and saw Rincon as a way to enter management.

"I'll probably move to another Harrah's at some point and that's what makes this a great opportunity," said Gonzales, 28. "When I first came here, I used my experience and helped other dealers. A lot would come up to me with questions."

Some transplanted workers wanted a lifestyle change.

Most of the transplanted Southern Nevadans don't see much difference in their day-to-day jobs.

"When it comes right down to it, this is absolutely like working in a casino in Las Vegas," Montenez said. "You don't really recognize too many differences right away. For the most part, it's just like the jobs I had in Las Vegas."

Said Messura, "You're working in a casino environment, but it's a different type of casino environment. (Barona) is in a beautiful valley and our property has beautiful grounds."

Mary Crane spent 23 years in hotel services at Fitzgeralds, dating back to when the downtown casino was known as the Sundance. She said San Diego gaming workers make trade-offs.

They may not have the short commutes Las Vegas casino workers take for granted. Crane, the assistant general manager for hotel operations at Pala Casino, said some of her staff spends between an hour-and-a-half to two hours getting to the casino, located off Highway 76 at the far northern end of San Diego County.

Also, she said, San Diego gaming workers must pay state income tax as California residents.

"If you enjoy working in the casino environment and you want the Southern California lifestyle, then this is the place to be," Crane said. "It's a little more expensive to live here and the biggest change is in housing. It's much more expensive."

With the casinos in somewhat rural communities in the county's northern and eastern edges, most of the San Diego gaming workers are spread between highly populated northern county cities such as Escondido, Oceanside and Vista, and cities in southern Riverside County, such as Temecula, Murietta and Lake Elsinore.

According to the Web site Bestplaces.net, which compares cost-of-living categories for different cities, both San Diego and Riverside County are far more expensive places to live than Las Vegas. Based on an annual salary of $60,000, Riverside County is 13.6 percent more expensive to live than Las Vegas; San Diego has a 50 percent higher cost of living index than Las Vegas.

"Certainly, the cost of living here is higher than anywhere in Nevada, but it's trade-off," Messura said.

Gonzales, who lives in San Diego's Mission Valley, a short drive from the beaches, said he doesn't mind the added expense and longer commute to Harrah's Rincon. Gonzales used to live in the Green Valley section of Henderson and broke in as a dealer at Railroad Pass. He built his résumé by moving to different Station Casinos' properties.

"The clientele here are very much like we had at Station Casinos, primarily local," he said. "But we're very customer-service-oriented."

He said some dealers average about $22.50 an hour during a 14-day pay period, which includes hourly wages plus tokes.

"I've even seen it average as high as $30 an hour," Gonzales said.

The casinos have also provided employment for nongaming casino workers.

Singers Llynda More and Mark Gendel perform one week out of the month in Pala's Promenade Lounge. The pair had performed for two years in the Orchid Lounge at Mandalay Bay, losing the gig when MGM Mirage bought the Mandalay Resort Group.

Crowds at Pala are local, smaller and more subdued than audiences in Las Vegas, they said.

"One thing we found here is that they want live music in San Diego," Gendel said. "They embrace live music here and that seems to be going away in Las Vegas."

Added More, "The crowds are nice and because it's a lot of local people, you get to know them. Thank God these casinos are here to provide work."

Monday, April 24, 2006

Aztar Receives Revised Definitive Offer from Ameristar

 

Aztar Corporation today announced that on April 20, 2006, its Board of Directors received a revised definitive offer from Ameristar Casinos, Inc. to acquire Aztar in a merger transaction in which the holders of Aztar common stock would receive $45.00 per share in cash and the holders of Aztar's Series B preferred stock would receive $475.94 per share in cash. The revised definitive offer included a signed merger agreement. Ameristar also provided a signed financing commitment letter. Ameristar stated in its revised definitive offer that the offer would expire by noon (Las Vegas time) on April 22, 2006, but that if certain conditions were met before that time, this deadline would be extended until 12:01 a.m. (Las Vegas time) on April 27, 2006. The conditions required for the extension include written notification by Aztar to Ameristar before noon (Las Vegas time) on April 22, 2006, that: (1) Aztar's Board has determined that Ameristar's revised definitive offer constitutes a superior proposal (as defined in Aztar's amended merger agreement with Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc.) and has informed Pinnacle of that determination; (2) Ameristar's revised definitive offer is the only superior proposal Aztar has received; and (3) as of the time of the notice to Ameristar, Aztar has received no other takeover proposals (as defined in Aztar's amended merger agreement with Pinnacle) that are reasonably likely to result in a superior proposal.

Aztar also announced that its Board, after consultation with its legal and financial advisors, has determined that the revised definitive offer from Ameristar is reasonably likely to result in a superior proposal. Based on such determination, Aztar's Board has authorized Aztar to resume its discussions with Ameristar.

Aztar also stated that its Board indicated it is unwilling to discontinue its discussions with Wimar Tahoe Corporation, d/b/a Columbia Entertainment, the gaming affiliate of Columbia Sussex Corporation. As previously announced, Aztar's Board determined on April 18, 2006 that Columbia Entertainment's proposal to acquire Aztar for $47.00 in cash per share of Aztar common stock continued to be reasonably likely to result in a superior proposal, as defined in the amended merger agreement with Pinnacle.

Aztar's Board will evaluate all aspects of the revised definitive offer from Ameristar and the proposal from Columbia Entertainment (including any financing commitment letter yet to be provided to Aztar). Aztar's Board is not making any recommendation at this time with respect to any such offer or proposal, and there can be no assurance that Aztar's Board will approve any such transaction or that a transaction will result.

As previously announced, on April 18, 2006, Aztar and Pinnacle amended their merger agreement to increase the purchase price for each share of Aztar common stock from $38.00 to $43.00 in cash.

Calder to Open April 25

 

As reported by the South Florida Business Journal: "Calder Race Course said it will open its 2006 season Tuesday, April 25 and hold racing each week through Jan. 2. ".Calder's feature programs are to include the Summit of Speed on July 15. Stakes races that day are to include the $500,000 Princess Rooney Handicap, which the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association upgraded to Grade I status from Grade II. ".Calder's other biggest stakes race day is the Festival of the Sun, scheduled for Oct. 14."

Bollywood Star Signs Online Site

 

TeenPattiParty.com announced that Mahima Choudhury, a leading Bollywood actress, will be the official spokesperson for the company. The actress, who burst into the Bollywood scene in 1997, was previously a model. She was featured in a Pepsi commercial in the mid-nineties with Miss World Aishwarya Rai. Launched in June 2005, TeenPattiParty.com has helped connect the global South Asian family digitally, providing the best possible way for gamers to get together and relive their cherished moments playing teen patti, which is the Indian version of poker. Safe and secure encryption methods make the site the destination of choice for any player looking to connect with like-minded players and prove their skills at online gaming. In addition to teen patti, players may also choose to join texas hold 'em tournaments or play a wide range of casino games, including blackjack, craps, and roulette. "I feel that TeenPattiParty.com is a fantastic way for online gamers to connect with each other, no matter where they live," said Mahima Choudhury.

Signing up to TeenPattiParty.com has never been easier, especially considering that every new signer gets $25 to play right off the bat. Added to this, the company promises to match 500% of the first deposit, making this the best promotion in online gaming for South Asians.

TeenPattiParty.com will promote its alliance with Mahima extensively, beginning with a press conference in late May, in New York City and Bombay. Look for Mahima Choudhury, new spokesperson for TeenPattiParty.com, in newspapers and on television to learn about new and exciting promotions for the site. It is expected that this promotion will lead to thousands of new users signing up.

Lessig to Address GIGSE

 

River City Group, organizer of the Global Interactive Gaming Summit and Expo (GIGSE) to be held May 16-18 at the Palais de Congres in Montreal, is pleased to announce that Professor Lawrence Lessig will provide the keynote address at this year's event. Lessig is one of the world's foremost experts on intellectual property in the age of digital communication and the founder of Stanford's Center for Internet and Society and the authority on "cyberlaw" -- the evolving law of the Internet. He has written several books, including "Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology" and "the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity (April 2004)." In his two previous books, "Code" and "The Future of Ideas," Lessig concentrates on the destruction of much of the original promise of the Internet. Blending knowledge, insight and eloquence, these books are profoundly important guides to the care and feeding of innovation, intellectual property, free speech and privacy. They are not just for lawyers, but for anyone concerned with the survival of democratic values in the Information Age.

Lawrence Lessig is a unique force in the deliberations that will define the character of innovation and discourse in our future.

His keynote address will focus on the unique issues the industry faces. In this lecture, titled How Regulation Will Happen: The Leviathan Is Coming - The Only Question Now is How, Professor Lessig will draw from a range of work in legal theory and technical design to draw the map of his approach, and map how those who depend upon liberty for their livelihood (namely, you) can survive in the perfectly regulated world that will be.

River City Group CEO Sue Schneider, said, "We've been following the work of Professor Lessig for years now and are pleased to have him as the keynote speaker. This will allow our attendees to be exposed to his ground-breaking ideas and have the debate at this conference to be stimulated by his insights."

Expected to be the largest event ever for the interactive gambling industry, GIGSE will attract close to 2,000 individuals from 45 countries. Headlined by this year's Platinum Sponsor, WireCard, over 120 companies will be exhibiting or sponsoring activities at the tradeshow.

Kelley Technologies' Product Debuts at Red Rock

 

Network Installation Corp. (OTC Bulletin Board: NWKI) announced today that subsidiary Kelley Technologies' patent-pending, next generation Race & Sports Book platform debuted on April 18, 2006 at the grand opening of Station Casinos' $925 million Red Rock Casino Resort Spa in Las Vegas. Kelley Technologies CEO Mike Kelley stated, "We couldn't be happier that Station Casinos chose our next generation solution for their newest showcase property at Red Rock. They entrusted us with this project and are proud to have been a part of the experience. We look forward to continuing a valued relationship."

Hollywood Sportsbook Features Odds on MBL Game

 

Hollywood Sportsbook features odds on the MLB game between the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox on April 21st 2006! The A.L Central division has captured the collective heart of America. The White Sox and Twins have both been very good and exciting teams these past few seasons. World Champion Chicago White Sox had a franchise best record of 99-63 and have a very good chance of repeating as champions, a feat no team has done since the 98-00 Yankees.

With GM Kenny Williams running things and Ozzie Guillen at the helm, the White Sox are in great hands. However, they will have a lot of good competition; the Minnesota Twins are the steady ship in the AL Central and are ready to step right in and take over next Friday, April 21st at the U.S. Cellular Field at 8:35 pm (ET) in Chicago, Illinois and Hollywood Sportsbook proudly features odds on the event.

Hollywood's Media Relations executive, Alejandro Gomez, was quoted saying - "With one of the best pitching staffs in the majors and the addition of great players, the White Sox could run away with the division again, but the Twins won't just give in".

"Even though the Twins haven't been on anybody's radar, this team deserves better than that, the Twins may ultimately surprise, they are in contention for not just a division title, but a World Series Championship. So we will see; it is a long season, they may actually be the best team in the AL - 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!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

WinOurCash.com Offers One Stop Gambling

 

As the Poker and Texas Hold 'Em craze continue to run rampant on television and in celebrity events, the internet has allowed online gambling enthusiasts the ability to experience "the games" that have created this hype at their leisure. The online casino is experiencing explosive growth rates because of this and it is reflected in the success of mega-sites like Party Poker. Gambling online allows the user to not only practice with play money, but actually wager at the level their budgets permit.

WinOurCash.com was created to not only cater to those online gambling enthusiasts, but also become a venue for the player who enjoys other online casino games and sports betting. Entrepreneurs Anthony DelVecchio and cousin David DelVecchio teamed with www.ownAcasino.com and the Access Corporation, who has over a decade of experience in the gaming industry, website design and creation.

"To make the vision of this 'One Stop Gambling' themed website become a reality, We wanted to create something that offered the player a site that has it all, similar to Las Vegas casinos," states DelVecchio. "Las Vegas casinos focus on having everything within the walls of their establishment. We're planning on taking that ideology to the website." He continues, "We will be updating our system on an ongoing basis and we will continue to make this the smoothest experience for our players."

Special online gambling promotions are currently being offered at WinOurCash.com for new players. These include:

*110% Deposit Bonus *Daily Free Rolls and Guaranteed Prizes * 4 Player Shoot-Outs (Ideal for the player pressed for time) * Satellite tournaments for WSOP and WPT events.

Neuman Continues Sponsorship Deal

 

World Series of Poker / World Poker Tour Player Scott Neuman is proud to announce his continued sponsorship by Aztec Mining and Sportsbookandpoker.com. A publicly traded company (Ticker:AZTM). Aztec Mining and Sports has agreed to sponsor Toms River, NJ resident Scott Neuman in twelve upcoming multi-million dollar tournaments in the next twelve months. The total prize pool could be as high as $20 million dollars and the potential revenues for Aztec Mining could be over $1.2 million dollars. Scott Neuman will be competing against World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour players in the No Limit High stakes game of Texas Hold'em.

Scott Neuman is coming off a final table result at the World Series of Poker event in Atlantic City at Harrahs Casino and the Big Smoke High Stakes No Limit Texas Holdem event sponsored by Cigar Aficionado and also 34 final table poker tournament total finishes or wins. Scott Neuman is happy to have the opportunity to continue to be sponsored by Aztec Mining and Bordercitypoker.com for these twelve upcoming events worth millions of dollars in prize money.

"Aztec Mining is a public traded company under the ticker symbol "AZTM". While Aztec Mining has mining interests, they are also looking for other revenue streams to increase shareholder value via their newest acquisition Sportsbookandpoker.com and bordercitypoker.com. Aztec Mining is looking to show the world their state-of-the-art sports book and poker software. Their sportsbookandpoker.com and their new bordercitypoker.com site offers the ability to place bets on hundreds of events and in addition, play against some of the best online poker players in the world for as little as $3.00 a tournament" said Scott Neuman. "Aztec Mining and Bordercitypoker.com came to me after seeing my eBay auction promotions and that other online poker rooms had sponsored me for World Poker Tour events at the Borgata Casino and Spa and also at the World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas, and suggested that by playing in twelve different multi-million dollar tournaments, that it might generate revenue for the shareholders of Aztec Mining and also introduce players on their new poker and sports book room".

Aztec Mining was also interested in sponsoring Scott because of his charity work with Rotary International. Scott Neuman is a member of Rotary International's local club in Lakewood, NJ, and Scott Neuman will donate 10% of his earned and kept winnings to his local Rotary International Club from these sponsored events. Scott normally places in the top percentage of most tournaments that he enters and hopes to be able to make a large charitably donation to the Lakewood Rotary Club of Lakewood, NJ. "A large percentage of the money raised from donations and events run by the Lakewood Rotary Club goes right back to the community of Lakewood in the form of scholarships, books for the elementary schools, and support for senior citizens in town, in addition to national and world wide needs, says Scott Neuman".

"This is a win-win situation for us as Scott is an accomplished poker player in the World Series of Poker and has done well in many high-profile events" said Aztec Mining CEO Scott Tobia. "Sportsbookandpoker.com will gain widespread publicity by sponsoring Scott Neuman if Scott can hit one or all of the 12 upcoming tournaments. If Scott places well in these series of tournaments, the upside is huge for Aztec Mining, with possible revenues in the millions of dollars for our shareholders over the next twelve months. Sportsbookandpoker.com and Bordercitypoker.com will gain more members and our shareholders will see an increase in stock value from the revenues our pokersite will generate. In addition we're hoping to help Scott contribute a large amount of money to his chosen charity if he does well in this tournament.

Scott will be wearing a Aztec Mining/Sportsbookandpoker.com logo shirt and hat when he plays at various events in the future including the Borgata Ultimate Satellite in two weeks in Atlantic City. More on Aztec Mining: Aztec Mining is an emerging mining and metals company that has diversified, by creating revenue generating internet search engines and their latest purchase, "Sportsbookandpoker.com". Tens of thousands of pokers players will be playing online daily. In addition, Sportsbookandpoker.com offers step tournaments to World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour events for as little as $3.00 to enter.

Aztec Mining would like to announce that it has signed a letter of intent to acquire an established land based casino located in the United States. The casino includes poker tables, a small number of video poker machines a lounge, and restaurant. The property has room to expand. All gaming and liquor licenses are included in the sale. The company has 120 days to perform due diligence on the business. Current revenues are approx. $500,000 US a year. The restaurant, lounge, and casino are currently only open a limited number of hours daily.

The company has reached an agreement with Harrahs Entertainment (HET) so the company can host satellite tournaments to the World Series Of Poker on sportsbookandpoker.com . The World Series Of Poker will be held at the RIO in Las Vegas Nevada from July 29th 2006 to August 10th 2006. This is the largest poker tournament in the world. Our tournaments are scheduled to begin on May 4th 2006. We anticipate being able to give away 30 seats to the World Series of Poker No Limit 10,000 buy in main event. Our satellite tournaments are going to be a two tournament format the buy in for the first tournament will be $3.00 1 in every 25 entrants will receive a seat in the second tournament. The only way to be in the second tournament is to win an entry from the first tournament. the winners in this second tournament will receive an entry in the World Series Of Poker. The total seats given away in the final tournament will be determined by the total number of entrants.

The company has also posted it's financial reports for the first quarter of 2006. They are available at pinksheets.com Included in the revenues are the last four days of March 2006 when the company took over ownership of sportsbookandpoker.com's marketing agreement. Aztec Mining gets 80% of poker revenues from the rake from cash games and tournaments and 85% of net losses from the sportsbook with the other 20 and 15 percent going to the third party operator. Sportsbookandpoker.com is a live cash poker website as well as a sportsbook.

IGT Gets in the Game

 

Industry giant International Game Technology, acknowledging that it is operating during a challenging time for slot makers, told Wall Street on Thursday it was able to beat all second-quarter expectations. The Reno-based gaming equipment provider reported quarterly earnings of $124 million for the three-month period ending March 31, a 32 percent increase from $93.9 million for the same quarter a year ago. IGT reported earnings per share of 35 cents in the quarter, up from 26 cents per share from a year ago. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had been expecting earnings of 31 cents a share in the quarter.

"Once again, IGT was able to buck the current challenging domestic slot trends and find ways to generate revenues and earnings in a tough slot environment," Goldman Sachs gaming analyst Steven Kent said in a note to investors.

Slot machine makers have experienced trying times over the past 18 months as casinos nationwide haven't shown much of an interest in newer slot machine products. Most of the major casino markets changed out older machines a few years ago for newer games with ticket in-ticket out enhancements.

IGT, as with much of the slot machine industry, is working on technological advances. Server-based gaming and downloadable gaming, products that would allow a casino to change game titles through a central server, are one to two years away from being on the casino floor.

Still, IGT has been able to sell some slot machines. The company said it sold 2,300 games to the newly opened Red Rock Resort, and 2,100 machines to the South Coast. In addition, IGT sold 600 machines to the Foxwoods casino in Connecticut, which is expanding, and 600 machines to the recently reopened Imperial Palace in Biloxi, Miss., which was closed for several months following Hurricane Katrina.

During the quarter, IGT unveiled its new Super Spin product and trimmer slot machine cabinet, both of which were placed at the Red Rock Resort. Company executives said there is now a backlog of orders for those products.

The games in which IGT shares in profits with casinos, such mega-jackpot slot machines, drove earnings much of the quarter. Revenue from gaming operations was $311.2 million, compared with $298.9 million a year ago.

Overall company revenue rose 17 percent in the quarter to $644.4 million from $551.1 million last year.

"We achieved several product successes and set a number of new financial records in the quarter despite limited visibility to new unit growth domestically," IGT Chairman and Chief Executive Officer TJ Matthews said on a conference call with analysts and investors.

"The quarter's results reflect the depth and reach of our product offerings and are focused on growing our international business, increasing the installed base and the efficiency of our game operations business and expanding the contribution from nonmachine product sales," Matthews said.

Wall Street reacted positively to IGT's news, which was announced before the opening of trading on the stock market. Company shares jumped almost 7 percent initially in trading on the New York Stock Exchange and climbed as high as 10 percent during the day.

The shares closed at $38.14, up $3.22, or 9.22 percent. More than 8 million shares were traded, quadruple the normal daily volume. The results didn't surprise gaming analysts.

"Overall, a solid quarter (for IGT)," Bear Stearns gaming analyst Joe Greff said.

Kent said IGT has found ways to turn a profit during a tough period.

"Overall, we think that this quarter and last quarter are examples of the high quality management team at IGT, and the company's product diversity that allows it to perform even during rough patches," Kent said. "While we have concerns about the volatility of nonbox revenues, we are encouraged by IGT's ability to navigate through the weak slot environment relatively safely."

Hard Rock Biloxi Moves Closer to Rebuilding

 

As reported by the Clarion Ledger: "Hard Rock Casino & Hotel in Biloxi moved a step closer toward rebuilding Thursday when the Mississippi Gaming Commission approved a deal by a New York holding company to buy into the casino. "The $235 million Hard Rock Casino & Hotel was three days away from opening when Hurricane Katrina severely damaged the casino barge and hotel on Aug. 29.

"'The casino was a total loss,' said Lawrence S. Hershfield, chief executive officer of Ranch Capital LLC, that in association with Leucadia National Corp. is acquiring an interest in the casino. ".Leucadia, which is involved in manufacturing, health-care services, telecommunications, real estate, a winery and residual banking and lending activities, is buying ownership in the Hard Rock for $89 million and also will offer to buy $160 million in bond debt owed on the resort.

"The deal should close sometime within the next two weeks, said Scott Andress, a Jackson gaming lawyer for Hard Rock."

Philadelphia Council Looks at Casino Classes

 

As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer: "OK, class, repeat after me: 'More quarters, sir?' "Philadelphia City Council plans to study whether lessons like that could become a staple of future job-training classes once slot-machine parlors set up shop in Philadelphia. "Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, who has called for hearings on job opportunities in the gambling industry, said the goal was to make sure low-income city residents get access to the 7,000 to 12,000 jobs that are projected in and around the casinos.

".Blackwell also said she would like to see a charter school devoted to preparing youngsters for careers dealing with the gambling business ".Paul Vallas, schools chief executive, was a bit less enthusiastic.

" We welcome enhanced employment opportunities for our young people, but our reforms are geared to do more than just train our young people in slot machines," he said."

Terrible's Bounces Back

 

As reported by the Des Moines Register: "Terrible's Lakeside Casino in Osceola has rebounded sharply the past three months after losing droves of customers last year when Altoona's gambling operation introduced casino table games. "Between January and March, Lakeside drew 284,000 patrons, up 29.5 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Gross gambling revenues totaled $15.1 million, up 13.4 percent from a year earlier.

"The big gains can be attributed to several factors, including $18.3 million in renovations to the casino complex and better marketing that includes a glitzy, 132-foot-tall sign on Interstate Highway 35 that features 'Mr. Terrible,' said Damon Butler, Lakeside's general manager.

".Commissioner Jack Ketterer said it's clear that increased spending to upgrade the casino complex is paying off for Lakeside, which is owned by the Herbst family of Nevada."

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Pittsburgh Bidders Battle Over Land

 

As reported by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette: "Two of the bidders competing for the Pittsburgh slot machine license are going after the same plot of publicly owned land above Mellon Arena as part of their projects. "Both Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. and Detroit businessman Don Barden want options on the Urban Redevelopment Authority's nine-acre Melody Tent site, now used for parking. But they want it for different reasons.

"Isle of Capri wants to use the parcel for a temporary casino with 1,500 slot machines while its permanent casino is erected nearby. Mr. Barden wants to use the parcel for a $350 million Hill District redevelopment project. His proposed $410 million casino would be on the North Shore."

Portuguese Casino Revenues Up

 

As reported by the Macau Hub: "Revenue at Portuguese casinos rose by 10.6 percent in the first quarter of 2006, against the same year-ago period, to 83 million euros, thus changing eth downward trend that had been felt over the last few quarters, figures from Portugal's Gaming general-Inspectorate showed Thursday.

"The figures, quoted by Portuguese financial daily Diário Económico showed that Portuguese gaming rooms, which now total nine after the inauguration of the Lisbon casino by Estoril Sol, mainly benefited from a 45 percent increase from banker games to 13.2 million euros.

".Revenue form slot machines, the most popular type of gambling in Portuguese casinos, increased by around 6 percent to 69,.2 million euros in the period."

Wynn Rides High on Prospects

 

As reported by Reuters:" At Wynn Resorts Ltd. it isn't just the casino patrons who are hoping to hit it big. "Investors have bid up shares of the company some 41 percent this year, enthused by the company's plans in the booming Chinese gambling resort of Macau and its prospects in Las Vegas, where it opened its first and only casino last April. "The stock comes with its share of risks. The company has only one open casino, its future rests on just two markets, and it relies heavily on its chief executive, Steve Wynn, for his acumen and his ability to attract high rollers -- and to run the business despite a degenerative eye condition.

"But analysts said the hype around the Las Vegas-based company's stock is justified, with room for further gains.

"Wynn shares are trading near their 52-week high of $80.19 set earlier this month.

".As these projects are completed, Wynn's earnings per share, excluding special items, would make leaps from the 16 cents it made in 2005 -- to 82 cents in 2006, $2.22 in 2007, $2.70 in 2008 and $3.25 in 2009, analysts polled by Reuters Estimates predict."

Russian Casinos Re-opened

 

As reported by the Itar-Tass: "- North Ossetia has been re-opening gambling houses earlier banned by a decree issued by the North Ossetian president after a series of terrorist acts staged at Vladikavkaz gambling clubs, spokeswoman for the North Ossetian Interior Ministry Ala Akhpolova said on Friday. A resolution in favor of re-opening several casinos in Vladikavkaz has been passed already, the spokeswoman said.

".The North Ossetian city administration explained that the Court of Arbitration proceeds from the federal law, rather than the Law ' On Gambling institutions' adopted by the North Ossetian parliament. Practically, all owners of casinos and gambling clubs had filed lawsuits, and the resolution to re- open such clubs in North Ossetia was just one of similar resolutions that would follow, the administration of the North Ossetian president said."

Louisiana House Passes Poker Legislation

 

As reported by the Advocate: "House committee Wednesday challenged Gov. Kathleen Blanco by unanimously passing legislation she opposes. "'It's personal now that the governor has tried to force the issue,' said Rep. Warren Triche of his House Bill 1149, which would make clear that "Texas Hold 'Em" poker tournaments, popular with some bars, are legal gambling. "The committee unanimously approved the measure.

"Triche said the governor should wait until legislation reaches her desk and not interfere with the legislative process. ".The governor said on March 27, the opening day of the legislative session, that she would reject any bills that she deems an expansion of gambling. ".Blanco sent her chief lawyer, Terry Ryder, to remind members of the House Criminal Justice Committee of her opposition. ".Triche's HB1149 is aimed at clarifying whether businesses' efforts to exploit Texas Hold 'Em poker is legal or not. Spurred by the popularity of televised poker tournaments, bar owners have hosted poker tournaments in hopes of attracting business on slow nights. "To avoid running afoul of the state's gambling laws, bar owners don't take a cut of the wagers. But they do sell more drinks and food due to the increased traffic brought in by the tournament."

Australian Gambling Industry Tested

 

As reported by the Australian: "Racing Victoria chairman Graham Duff insists he is not angry with departing chief executive Robert Nason. The expletive which rang out on Tuesday when Nason announced he had taken a job with Tabcorp was, Duff says, an honest outpouring of frustration because this was the very worst time for the racing club's boss to take his leave. "These are unsettling times in the Australian gambling game as long-standing partnerships are shattered and remade in the face of industry consolidation, new technologies and big changes in entertainment choices.

"And one of the alliances being tested is Racing Victoria's productive but recently very fraught relationship with Tabcorp.

"The racing club and Tabcorp are joint venture partners in Victorian wagering, which last year generated $475 million of revenue for the shareholders of Australia's biggest gambling company. That was a bit more than 30 per cent of Tabcorp's total wagering revenue, the balance coming from NSW punters.

"The Victorian Government is reviewing the state's wagering and gaming industry ahead of the issue of new licences in 2012.

".For the past two years Tabcorp and the Victorian and NSW racing clubs have been at war over Sky Channel's coverage of thoroughbred racing.

"The roots of the dispute pre-date Tabcorp's acquisition of the NSW totalisator, Tab Limited."

Friday, April 21, 2006

Spectrum Gaming Opens New Headquarters

 

Spectrum Gaming Group, responding to the rapidly growing demand for its
suite of industry-related services, has expanded its professional staff and
established new headquarters for its worldwide operations in Northfield, a
suburb of Atlantic City. The office complex serves as Spectrum's center for
regulatory services, investigations, economic studies, professional
services, conference production, and publication of its nationally acclaimed
newsletter, Michael Pollock's Gaming Industry Observer.

Spectrum recently hired Gail Pagano, a 25-year casino-industry veteran, as
Office Manager. Pagano coordinates the activities of Spectrum's eight-person
staff and more than 30 associates around the world.

Spectrum also announces the appointment of Paula M. Leach to the newly
created position of Director of Marketing and Conferences. Leach, previously
Marketing Communications Manager for Wheaton Science Products, will oversee
brand development, marketing services, and production of Spectrum's
nationally respected conferences, which include the East Coast Gaming
Congress, Florida Gaming Summit and Pennsylvania Gaming Congress.

"Paula Leach is an accomplished professional in marketing, communications
and trade shows. She brings a wealth of experience and creative energy that
will help Spectrum continue its amazing growth trajectory," said Michael J.
Pollock, Spectrum Managing Director.

Spectrum Gaming Group is a full-service consultancy conducting work for
private clients and government agencies. Through its Spectrum Oso affiliate,
Spectrum Gaming Group serves clients on a global basis with offices in
Bangkok, Las Vegas, Macau and Tokyo.

Among many other projects in recent months, Spectrum has been retained by
the government of Singapore to conduct due diligence investigations of
applicants for the proposed Marina and Sentosa integrated resorts; was
retained by three prospective Pennsylvania gaming operators to assist with
their Category 2 license applications; and has conducted numerous economic-
impact, feasibility and market studies from Atlantic City and Pennsylvania
to Macau.

Spectrum has served numerous government agencies, from Florida and the
Bahamas to Australia and the Netherlands.

"Spectrum's growth is based on its experience, independence and integrity.
That foundation will remain unchanged," said Managing Director Fredric E.
Gushin, who founded Spectrum in 1993.


Neighbor Changes Stance on Bethlehem Casino

 

As reported by the New Jersey Express-Times: "Borough council on Monday
night decided it will remain neutral on the issue of whether a casino should
be built in neighboring Bethlehem. "Council unanimously approved a motion to
steer clear of an opinion on the matter. The motion also calls for officials
to be proactive in minimizing the effects a casino would have on the
borough. "Monday night's decision contradicts an earlier proposal calling
for the borough's opposition to a casino in Bethlehem. That motion cited
problems a casino could bring, such as a staggering increase in traffic and
a need for the borough to hire additional police, ambulance and fire crews."


Harrah's Presents Pittsburgh Proposal

 

Forest City Enterprises and Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. today presented
their plan for investing more than $1 billion at Station Square to the
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board during public hearings held in Pittsburgh.
The two industry leaders reiterated their commitment and ability to generate
the most revenues for the state, Allegheny County, City of Pittsburgh, and
Pittsburgh School District. The plan includes substantial new investment in
support of a revitalized downtown Pittsburgh, a $512 million casino, a
community partnership with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation,
and the creation of a new charitable foundation headed by Franco Harris.


"We're excited about the tremendous potential of bringing the Harrah's brand
to western Pennsylvania's premier tourist destination," said Charles Atwood,
chief financial officer of Harrah's Entertainment. "We plan to create a
first-class gaming, retail, and dining experience, one that we believe, when
combined with our industry-leading customer loyalty program, will complement
and expand Pittsburgh's tourism industry."

Brian Ratner, director of Forest City Enterprises outlined the group's
support of the multi-purpose arena financing plan: "We are looking forward
to the opportunity to work with the government to execute a plan to
construct a new arena. We believe the Arena Funding Plan offered by Governor
Rendell, Executive Onorato and Mayor O'Connor is a great approach to
financing a new multi-purpose Arena." Ratner continued, "Once the Penguins
commit to staying in Pittsburgh as an integral part of the community, the
Harrah's Station Square team welcomes the opportunity to finalize the terms
of our participation."

The plan expands Station Square into a bustling, new, urban mixed-use
residential and entertainment community. This will include ground-floor
retail, sidewalk dining and cafe eateries, a 400,000-square-foot, $512
million Harrah's Station Square Casino with 3,000 slots, an additional 200
rooms at the adjacent 400-room Sheraton Station Square Hotel, and 1,250
residential condominium units. All of these new elements will be connected
by pedestrian scaled streets, creating a neighborhood look and feel. The
residential units will have porches and stoops, accompanied by new parks and
a riverside esplanade offering improved river access. With more than 50
acres at Station Square, the plan also allows for future expansion of the
casino to 5,000 slots and the creation of a new hotel tower with 300-500
rooms.

"Harrah's Entertainment is committed to creating compelling gaming
entertainment experiences in the markets in which we operate," Atwood said.
"This translates into the greatest economic impact for the City of
Pittsburgh and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: More jobs, greater property
and wage tax relief, and more opportunities for local businesses."

Jesse Fife, Jr., Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, spoke
in support of the Harrah's Station Square proposal, explaining the role his
institution will play should the license be awarded to the group.

"Our organization is deeply committed to the future of this region and we
entered into a partnership with Harrah's Station Square because we realized
their plan offers a unique opportunity to create a diverse workforce
development program and good paying jobs in this region. Bidwell will serve
as the training ground for many of the projected employees that Harrah's
will need to sustain a successful casino in Pittsburgh," Fife said. "As we
evaluated this partnership, it became clear to us that Harrah's Station
Square is the applicant that has the capacity to create the most jobs for
our region. Their human resources, employment track record and commitment to
diversity is unparalleled in the industry and has become the benchmark for
every other player in the casino industry. Equally important, Harrah's is a
company that understands how to create opportunities for inner city,
disadvantaged populations."

Brian Ratner, director of Forest City Enterprises, outlined the findings of
a transportation impact study conducted by nationally recognized
transportation engineering firm DKS Associates, and Pittsburgh's GAI
Consultants. "Station Square is uniquely positioned to absorb the enhanced
visitation a casino will bring from a transportation standpoint. Its
location on the west side of Station Square allows for the best integration
into the overall site and offers the only location that benefits from all
modes of transportation - interstate highway, river, light rail, bus,
pedestrian and incline," Ratner said. "We also will tap an interstate system
that will take traffic off of Carson Street, the Smithfield Street Bridge
and the downtown area. When combined with the assets already in place at
Station Square and Bessemer court and the additional retail that will be
developed, this development will create a 'spine line' or Main Street
concept that will connect a dynamic multi-purpose, mixed use Station Square
and a vibrant, walkable community."

Forest City and Harrah's also reviewed their significant philanthropic
commitment to Pittsburgh, both now and in the long-term, that will be
realized should they secure the license to develop a casino, as follows:

- The Forest City/Harrah's development proposal will enable the Pittsburgh
History and Landmarks Foundation to establish an endowment of $25 million.
Proceeds to the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation will be invested
with its existing funds and used to support and expand programs to
revitalize inner city neighborhoods.

- In addition, the Forest City/Harrah's development proposal will give a
total of more than $1 million a year through a foundation to support the
community. Half of the funds must be used in neighborhoods with a 60 percent
or higher minority population. Franco Harris will lead the effort to give
these funds back to the community. This money will be made available as soon
as the license is secured.


Federal Regulations Could Derail Cowlitz Plans

 

As reported by the Columbian: "Federal officials are crafting regulations
that could derail the Cowlitz Tribe's chances for winning federal approval
of its $510 million casino complex near La Center. "The regulations, which
still are in the preliminary stage, would require at least half of tribal
members to live within 50 miles of the casino site, a condition the Cowlitz
and many other tribes would not meet. "Congress already is considering
legislation that would make it more difficult for tribes to build new
casinos.

"The Senate Indian Affairs Committee has approved legislation sponsored by
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that would impose a new requirement on the
Cowlitz and other tribes. In the House, Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., has
introduced a bill that would all but kill the tribe's prospects for building
a 134,150-square-foot casino."


California Tribe Unveils Final Design

 

As reported by the California Press-Enterprise: "The Agua Caliente Band of
Cahuilla Indians Monday unveiled its final design for a 16-story hotel near
Rancho Mirage, amid continued negotiation with city and county officials.
"In 18 months, the tribe expects its high-rise hotel will emerge from the
Coachella Valley's desert landscape along Interstate 10 and join two other
tribal-owned resorts along the freeway stretch.

"The tribe hired Orlando-based VOA Associates Inc. to design the 344-room
hotel. At Monday's groundbreaking, VOA representative Jonathan Douglas said
the firm moved the $185 million hotel's location to lower ground to address
complaints about the building's proposed height.

".Richard Milanovich, chairman of the Agua Caliente tribe, said the tribe
needs the hotel to remain competitive with the Cabazon Band of Mission
Indians and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians who, respectively, built the
12-story, 250-room Fantasy Springs Resort & Casino and 26-story, 300-room
Morongo Resort Casino along Interstate 10.

"The $185 million hotel won't include condominiums and will be managed by
the tribe instead of a hotel operator such as Marriott or Starwood.."

Arkansas May Reconsider Casinos

 

As reported by the Baxter Bulletin: "Arkansans don't mind betting on fast
horses. They don't seem to have a problem making wagers on fast dogs. When
it comes to casinos, however, they draw the line. "Arkansas voters
repeatedly have drawn the line on attempts to legalize casino gambling, most
recently in 2000. This November, if proponents get the necessary 80,570
signatures on their petition, voters may get to have their say again, this
time on a proposal similar to the one that went down in flames six years
ago.

"Unlike the Legislature's proposed amendment to legalize bingo and raffles
for established charitable organizations, the casino measure is being put
forth by the private, for-profit Arkansas Casinos and Resorts Inc., a
Texas-based company headed by Michael J. Wasserman of Gainsville, Texas.

".In addition to casinos, the proposed amendment would establish a state
lottery and a gaming commission. The proposal would earmark 50 percent of
lottery revenue for prizes, 45 percent for an educational trust find and 5
percent for operating expenses.

".Mr. Wasserman's proposal also would make gross gambling revenue from
casinos subject to state and local sales taxes. However, the amendment would
exempt the casinos from personal and property taxes, where local governments
get most of their funding."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Shuffle Master Releases Three Card Poker National Championship Dates

 

Shuffle Master, Inc. through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Shuffle Up
Productions, Inc., today announced that the two one-hour television programs
chronicling the 2005 Three Card Poker National Championship will air on GSN,
the Network for Games, later this month. The first episode will premiere on
Friday, April 21 at 9 p.m. ET/PT; the second episode will air on Friday,
April 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Produced by LMNO Productions and Shuffle Up
Productions, the two episodes highlight key 2005 regional tournament events,
culminating with the dramatic National Championship tournament held in Las
Vegas at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino where a million dollar grand
prize was awarded. The program is hosted by Mark L. Walberg ("Temptation
Island" and "Russian Roulette") and Danielle Demski (Miss Arizona 2004 and
Miss USA Finalist).

"We are pleased to celebrate the kickoff of our second annual Three Card
Poker World Championship with the debut of our television program
chronicling last year's event," stated Mark L. Yoseloff, Ph.D., Shuffle
Master, Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Three Card Poker
continues to be an extremely popular table game played throughout the world,
and we are confident that our television program combined with our 2006
tournament will encourage more players to participate in this year's World
Championship tournament."

Progressive Gaming Signs Key Contract with Galaxy's Starworld Casino

 

Progressive Gaming International Corporation, (the Company) a leading
provider of diversified technology and content products and services used in
the gaming industry worldwide announced today that it has signed a key
systems contract with Galaxy Casinos to install CasinoLink Enterprise
Edition and its Table Management System at Galaxy's Starworld property in
Macau. Starworld is the fourth casino to be opened by the Galaxy Group in
the rapidly expanding Macau market and is expected to have approximately 300
slots and 300 tables. The Company anticipates installing various modules
including CasinoLink slot accounting and wide area jackpot management,
CasinoLink Intelligence incorporating Club, Cage and PIT, and its Table
Management System.

Executive Vice President of the Company's International Division Neil
Crossan stated: "We are excited that Galaxy has recognized the full
potential of our range of systems for their Starworld property. This latest
agreement is an exciting development that we believe reinforces our offering
of systems products in one of the fastest growing markets in the gaming
industry worldwide. The Macau market is expected to expand by 5,000 tables
and 10,000 slots within the next 5 years and Galaxy is expected to continue
to be a significant player in this region."

Vice President of Casino Operations for Galaxy Starworld Mick Caban stated:
"We are pleased to extend our existing relationship with Progressive Gaming
as we operate CasinoLink in our first two properties and are currently
installing CasinoLink in our third property. The success of these
installations has provided us the confidence to continue to expand the use
of Progressive Gaming's systems products at Starworld that will incorporate
their full cage management and table management offerings to enable us to be
at the forefront of technology to allow Galaxy Starworld to provide the best
service to our customers."

New Slots Put to the Test

 

To customers at Barona Valley Ranch, the slots in a 20-machine bank don't
appear to be much different than any of the casino's 1,980 other games. But
for officials of the East San Diego County American Indian casino and
gambling equipment maker International Game Technology, the 20 games
represent the beginning of a breakthrough in the future makeup of slot
floors.Barona is the first California casino to test market server-based
gaming developed by IGT. The system could, conceivably, let casino customers
change games on a slot machine with a few clicks of a computer mouse.

Most of the major slot machine manufacturers are researching and developing
server-based systems, also referred to as downloadable technology.

Slot makers said they think server-based gaming could remake casino floors
by the end of decade. Slot machine boxes would have pull-down menus of
different games, denominations, wagering limits and payouts. Customers could
tailor-make their play.

For now, Barona casino managers can only perform simple tasks.

"Really, this is just the first step," said Lee Skelley, assistant general
manager of casino operations at Barona. "We're very comfortable with Version
1, which is what we have here now. It's worked exactly like IGT told us it
would. The next step is Version 1.2, and we'll put that out on the floor
when it's ready."

From a central server, Barona officials can swap out a game's wagering
denomination or change features, such as the maximum number of coins played.
Skelley said the casino has moved game titles between boxes, swapping
"Russian Treasures" with "Snow Globe," through the server. But floor
personnel had to change out the slot machine title glass.

"What we're being told is that the next version will have LCD
(liquid-crystal display) screens in place of the top and bottom glass where
the titles will automatically change out," Skelley said.

Barona was selected by IGT as the California test casino because of its
history with IGT. When it opened in 2003, the 300,000-square-foot casino
equipped all of its 2,000 slot machines with ticket in-ticket out
technology.

On the ultrahigh-limit slot machines in Barona's two private gaming lounges,
the machines use fingerprint screening to allow for in-house cash transfers
from a customer's account in the casino cage directly to the $500 and $1,000
minimum bet machines.

"Barona is one of the real proponents of technology on the casino floor,"
said Patrick Cavanaugh, IGT's executive director of investor relations.
"They have very progressive management and their customers understand new
casino technology."

He said the testing at Barona, which could proceed well into 2007, was the
first stage in experimenting with the core technology of server-based
gaming. A similar test is taking place at Treasure Island.

It may be some time next year before slot players interact actively with
server-based technology. Customers didn't seem to notice they were taking
part in what could be a casino-changing event.

On Wednesday afternoon, 18 of the 20 sever-based machines at Barona had
players wagering away.

"It does OK for me," said Barona customer Jon Larson of nearby Ramona,
Calif., figuring he was playing just any other slot machine. "I'm winning,
so I'm happy."

Said Skelley: "For the customers, they really aren't seeing anything
different yet. Our mantra is that we will look at any new technology, but we
want to know what it will do for our customers. Does the technology make the
experience better for our customers?"

Skelley said Barona would offer as much feedback as possible to IGT in time
for the next phase of testing.

Michigan Commissioner Avoids Illegal Gambling Charges

 

As reported by the Bay City Times: "Prosecutors have chosen not to charge a
Huron County commissioner with a crime for allegedly frequenting what police
call a mini-casino here. "Huron County Prosecutor Mark J. Gaertner also
declined to charge the 72-year-old owner of the home along M-25 where
Michigan State Police allege the county commissioner and others played slot
machines. "'This is not a gambling den in the sense of a gambling operation
in the big city,' Gaertner said. 'This was a 72-year-old man who had friends
and neighbors over to play the slot machines.

" 'There were no large sums of money exchanging hands, and any winnings that
were made were either given back to patrons or were donated to various
community charities.'."

Harrah's, Pinnacle Swap Riverboat Casinos

 

Harrah's Entertainment and Pinnacle Entertainment agreed Monday to a swap of
hurricane-damaged riverboat casino properties. Harrah's will acquire the
Casino Magic in Biloxi, Miss.; Pinnacle picked up side-by-side floating
casinos in Lake Charles, La. The Las Vegas-based companies signed a
nonbinding letter of intent. The transaction is subject to regulatory
approvals. Harrah's spokesman David Strow said the deal was not a straight
swap of properties, but the companies declined to disclose financial
specifics.

Harrah's had previously announced it hoped to exit Lake Charles after its
two riverboat casinos were destroyed by Hurricane Rita on Sept. 24. In the
deal, Pinnacle will also acquire the 263-room Lake Front Hotel, which
Harrah's now operates.

"As we are focusing our Gulf Coast development efforts on Biloxi and New
Orleans, we felt it made sense to sell Harrah's Lake Charles," said Anthony
Sanfilippo, president of Harrah's Central Division.

Pinnacle operates L'Auberge du Lac in Lake Charles, which has dominated
western-Louisiana gaming since it opened last May. The bulk of Lake Charles'
out-of-state customers come from nearby Houston.

Pinnacle didn't comment on the deal, but analysts thought the company would
use the acquired riverboats to expand gambling operations at L'Auberge and
the company's casino in Bossier City, La.

Casino Magic in Biloxi was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29.
Pinnacle had been weighing its options with the property. The swap gives
Harrah's a commanding presence in the rebuilding Mississippi Gulf Coast
gaming market.

Harrah's announced recently it would reopen a portion of the Grand Casino
Biloxi, which was also destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, this summer with a
renovated 500- room hotel and 35,000-square-foot casino.

The company hopes to announce plans for a new destination in Biloxi by this
summer.

The Grand Casino site is 27 acres and the Casino Magic site, directly to the
east, is 18 acres.

"We believe in the long-term potential of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and
are looking forward to returning to this vibrant market," Sanfilippo said.
"The site we are acquiring from Pinnacle will give us an even larger
footprint in Biloxi, giving us greater flexibility in creating a compelling
entertainment experience."

Shares of Harrah's jumped initially on the news, but finished the day at
$79.51, down 4 cents or 0.05 percent. Pinnacle shares closed at $30.71, up
$1.61 or 5.53 percent.

Bear Stearns gaming analyst Joe Greff said the deal was a good move for
Harrah's.

"We are positive on the transaction as we believe the deal relinquishes
Harrah's from a potentially expensive and difficult project in Lake Charles
and increases exposure in Mississippi, a lower tax rate and in our opinion,
more stable jurisdiction," Greff said in a note to investors.


Cash Systems Signs New Contract With Crystal Park Casino Hotel

 

Cash Systems, Inc., a provider of cash access solutions for the gaming
industry, today announced a new contract with Crystal Park Casino Hotel.
Cash Systems will provide the casino with check cashing, ATM and cash
advance services, as well as the All-In-1 ATM product, which offers an array
of cash services such as debit card withdrawals and credit card cash advance
at the point of sale. Crystal Park Casino Hotel is a card club located in
Los Angeles, California. Crystal Park was the first casino opened in the Los
Angeles area and includes 38 table games and extensive guest amenities.

"We decided to work with Cash Systems because of their emphasis on
developing new products and their ability to roll them out with relative
speed. Cash access on the casino floor is a fundamental and evolving part of
our business and we felt that Cash Systems would be the best partner for the
long term," stated Haig Kelegian Jr., Chief Financial Officer and Owner of
Crystal Park Casino Hotel.

Michael Rumbolz, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Cash Systems, said
"Our proven track record of new product development and roll-out of
innovative cash access solutions drove today's announcement and we look
forward to providing Crystal Park with our current and future pipeline of
leading products. Today's announcement also reflects our growing presence in
the California market."


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bluff Poker Radio Expands Broadcast

 

Bluff Poker Radio, the only nationally syndicated Poker radio show, is pleased to announce its growth of original and exclusive poker content on radio. Bluff Poker Radio has now grown its lineup of poker radio shows to Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday nights on Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 122) at 8-10pm ET, plus terrestrial radio stations on the Sports Byline USA Radio Network and American Forces Radio Network.

Bluff Poker Radio has hosted the biggest names in the game from Doyle Brunson to Phil Hellmuth and is the only nationally syndicated regularly scheduled poker show in existence. Bluff Poker Radio is the only show that affords the listeners a chance to directly ask questions of their poker heroes.

"We've been absolutely thrilled by the success of the show over the past year and a half. The chorus of requests from our listeners asking for more programming has been deafening! We're pleased to be adding another day of live programming to the schedule," says Nick Geber, the host of Bluff Poker Radio.

Along with having the largest audience of any poker radio show, Bluff Poker Radio broke new ground last year when it covered the World Series of Poker Main Event live on radio.

JMC, Tovis, TransAct Appear at SGS

 

Fresh from their successful joint appearance at this month's NIGA tradeshow, the alliance of JCM American, Tovis Monitors and TransAct Technologies will next be appearing in Tunica, Miss., at the upcoming Southern Gaming Summit (SGS). SGS is held May 4-5 at the Tunica Arena & Expo Center, and the alliance companies will be in booth #333. The group is also sponsoring the event's registration. "Our joint display at the NIGA tradeshow went exactly as we had envisioned, and our customers are very enthusiastic about the convenience that our alliance brings to them. We are very excited to bring that same message to the South, where we are fully committed to assisting in the Gulf's recovery," said JCM VP of Gaming Solutions Tom Nieman.

On display will be the wide range of products the alliance jointly represents, including the award-winning Universal Bill Acceptor (UBA(TM)), Trident(TM) Table Safe System, the Epic(R) 950 printer, and Tovis monitors.

The UBA is the next generation bill validator, utilizing magnetic and optical sensors and is completed by its forward/backward-compatible, high- impact Plastic Cash Box. The Trident Table Safe System is a complete table management system that tracks assets from the table to the pit to the soft count room, and to the back office.

The Epic 950 has a 2-color printing that turns ordinary slot vouchers into eye-grabbing marketing media. Its TicketBurst(TM) technology ensures the ticket is completely printed and detached before presenting it. Tovis offers a wide array of best performance LCD monitors including standard 15", 17", 19" and wide format 23", 26", 32", 40", 42", 46", 55". Also, Tovis provides monitors with customized design and configuration to meet the customer's need exactly.

Venetian Macau Chooses First Advantage

 

First Advantage Corporation a global risk mitigation and business solutions provider, today announced that its applicant tracking and talent management software solution, First Advantage Hiring Management System (HMS), has been selected by the Venetian Macau Ltd. to automate its recruiting process for the Sands Macao, a one-million-square-foot casino and entertainment complex, as well as its integrated resort The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel under construction at the Cotai Strip(TM), located in Macao, Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.

"An automated system such as First Advantage HMS will help us greatly in achieving our ambitious recruitment objectives," said Bill Gasparek, non-gaming application development manager for Sands Macao.

First Advantage HMS offers multilingual support to Venetian Macau Ltd. in the Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. "We needed a system that had a proven capability to support Asian languages concurrently," said Gasparek.

In addition to its ability to support Asian languages, Venetian Macau Ltd. selected First Advantage HMS for its integration with the Infinium HR system, its proven record of automating recruiting processes for gaming industry clients, and its use of .NET and XML as underlying technologies. "First Advantage HMS is one of the components that will allow us to automate our entire HR recruitment process and make it essentially paperless," added Gasparek.

"The global market is expanding, and it is increasingly important that automation tools, such as First Advantage HMS, help companies reach out to potential candidates in multiple languages," said Robert Neveu, executive vice president of First Advantage's Hiring Management Systems group. "Our HMS software speeds the recruiting process for companies like Venetian Macau Ltd., which need to hire a high volume of employees in a short period of time. We're excited to be working with Venetian Macau Ltd. as they launch Macao's first luxury integrated resort."

Available as a hosted ASP offering or as a client-hosted licensed solution, First Advantage HMS supports all aspects of the hiring process, manages both hourly and salaried hiring, and is based on the most flexible technology available. First Advantage HMS solutions support talent management across an organization and around the globe, offering 13 standard language translations and complete localization of the data scheme. First Advantage HMS is tailored to a company's particular recruiting process, including seamless HRMS integration, complementary service offerings and advanced workflow support. Its comprehensive, integrated hiring solution includes a Monster Premier ATS Alliance Membership, background checking, behavioral assessments, tax screening and a variety of other client specific service collaborations. First Advantage HMS has been consistently ranked as a leading applicant tracking solution by independent sources, including Gartner, AMR, Workforce Management and ERExchange.

The HMS service is part of a comprehensive hiring solutions platform offered by First Advantage's Employer Services segment. The platform also includes domestic and international recruiting services, skills and behavioral assessments, background verifications, occupational health services, tax credits screening and more.

PGMI Opens New Location

 

PGMI, Inc. announces that the Company's 2006 expansion plans are being implemented with the scheduled opening of a new location in July. The new Marugin Gyota store will open in the Saitama prefecture just North West of Tokyo. The location will be a blend of direct purchase and leasehold with a total of 197,458 square feet of land. This will allow for 476 parking spaces and 560 machines in the new 18,931 square foot building. This will bring the number of operating locations to 14.

Shinichi Kanemoto, the president of PGMI, said, "We are very pleased that our expansion plans are on track with the addition of Gyota store in July. This location will feature 560 machines with the mixture of 300 pachinko machines and 260 pachislot machines. The location and mix of machines was based on our extensive demographic analysis. There is a demonstrated preference for pachinko style machines among older players. Younger players prefer the new generation of pachislot machines that use medallions instead of pachinko balls. Unlike the familiar slot machines of Las Vegas casinos, pachislot machines allow the player to affect the outcome by choosing when to stop the rotating wheels. This brings in the element of skill that is the distinguishing characteristic of Japanese gaming."

Kenilworth Report Delayed

 

Kenilworth Systems Corporation ... Kenilworth Systems Corporation ("Kenilworth") in an 8-K filing today reported that the Company's Annual Report for the period ended December 31, 2005, after having filed an extension until April 17, 2006, will be further delayed for approximately two (2) weeks. Herbert Lindo, Chairman and CEO stated the delay is caused by the extensive expenses incurred in continuing negotiations taking place in the Philippines with a Philippine government authorized agency, the acquisition of Lighthouse Supply and Services, Inc. in the Philippines, all of which require Independent Auditors confirmation and the lack of qualified staff personnel that left the Company in November 2005, which have not as yet been replaced.

As previously reported, the Company sustained a loss of $3,267,912 for the nine (9) month period ended September 30, 2005 which included a non-operating loss of $1,250,000. The Company expects these losses will continue until its "Roulabette(R) System" becomes acceptable to the worldwide Casino and Lottery Industry.

Roulabette(R) is the brand name, coined by the Company, for a method and system for placing wagers on live, in-progress casino table games broadcast to digital satellite and digital cable subscribers, such as Roulette, Dice, Baccarat and more, at sites remote from the actual casino table at which the game is taking place.

With the patented Roulabette(R) System, the actual wagering takes place at the receiving television set managed by the microprocessor installed in the set-top boxes (both cable and satellite) or as an attachment to the TV set. The wagering is not managed by the casino that broadcasts Roulabette(R). It is a one-way transmission requiring only the consent of the receiving jurisdictions. The Roulabette(R) casino is next door, doesn't have the costly bricks and mortar, and can be managed to prevent the under aged from participating and shut out the compulsive gamblers by using lotteries to manage the cash handlings.

Harrah's Presents Pittsburgh Proposal

 

Forest City Enterprises and Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. today presented their plan for investing more than $1 billion at Station Square to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board during public hearings held in Pittsburgh. The two industry leaders reiterated their commitment and ability to generate the most revenues for the state, Allegheny County, City of Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh School District. The plan includes substantial new investment in support of a revitalized downtown Pittsburgh, a $512 million casino, a community partnership with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, and the creation of a new charitable foundation headed by Franco Harris.

"We're excited about the tremendous potential of bringing the Harrah's brand to western Pennsylvania's premier tourist destination," said Charles Atwood, chief financial officer of Harrah's Entertainment. "We plan to create a first-class gaming, retail, and dining experience, one that we believe, when combined with our industry-leading customer loyalty program, will complement and expand Pittsburgh's tourism industry."

Brian Ratner, director of Forest City Enterprises outlined the group's support of the multi-purpose arena financing plan: "We are looking forward to the opportunity to work with the government to execute a plan to construct a new arena. We believe the Arena Funding Plan offered by Governor Rendell, Executive Onorato and Mayor O'Connor is a great approach to financing a new multi-purpose Arena." Ratner continued, "Once the Penguins commit to staying in Pittsburgh as an integral part of the community, the Harrah's Station Square team welcomes the opportunity to finalize the terms of our participation."

The plan expands Station Square into a bustling, new, urban mixed-use residential and entertainment community. This will include ground-floor retail, sidewalk dining and cafe eateries, a 400,000-square-foot, $512 million Harrah's Station Square Casino with 3,000 slots, an additional 200 rooms at the adjacent 400-room Sheraton Station Square Hotel, and 1,250 residential condominium units. All of these new elements will be connected by pedestrian scaled streets, creating a neighborhood look and feel. The residential units will have porches and stoops, accompanied by new parks and a riverside esplanade offering improved river access. With more than 50 acres at Station Square, the plan also allows for future expansion of the casino to 5,000 slots and the creation of a new hotel tower with 300-500 rooms.

"Harrah's Entertainment is committed to creating compelling gaming entertainment experiences in the markets in which we operate," Atwood said. "This translates into the greatest economic impact for the City of Pittsburgh and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: More jobs, greater property and wage tax relief, and more opportunities for local businesses."

Jesse Fife, Jr., Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, spoke in support of the Harrah's Station Square proposal, explaining the role his institution will play should the license be awarded to the group.

"Our organization is deeply committed to the future of this region and we entered into a partnership with Harrah's Station Square because we realized their plan offers a unique opportunity to create a diverse workforce development program and good paying jobs in this region. Bidwell will serve as the training ground for many of the projected employees that Harrah's will need to sustain a successful casino in Pittsburgh," Fife said. "As we evaluated this partnership, it became clear to us that Harrah's Station Square is the applicant that has the capacity to create the most jobs for our region. Their human resources, employment track record and commitment to diversity is unparalleled in the industry and has become the benchmark for every other player in the casino industry. Equally important, Harrah's is a company that understands how to create opportunities for inner city, disadvantaged populations."

Brian Ratner, director of Forest City Enterprises, outlined the findings of a transportation impact study conducted by nationally recognized transportation engineering firm DKS Associates, and Pittsburgh's GAI Consultants. "Station Square is uniquely positioned to absorb the enhanced visitation a casino will bring from a transportation standpoint. Its location on the west side of Station Square allows for the best integration into the overall site and offers the only location that benefits from all modes of transportation - interstate highway, river, light rail, bus, pedestrian and incline," Ratner said. "We also will tap an interstate system that will take traffic off of Carson Street, the Smithfield Street Bridge and the downtown area. When combined with the assets already in place at Station Square and Bessemer court and the additional retail that will be developed, this development will create a 'spine line' or Main Street concept that will connect a dynamic multi-purpose, mixed use Station Square and a vibrant, walkable community."

Forest City and Harrah's also reviewed their significant philanthropic commitment to Pittsburgh, both now and in the long-term, that will be realized should they secure the license to develop a casino, as follows:

- The Forest City/Harrah's development proposal will enable the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation to establish an endowment of $25 million. Proceeds to the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation will be invested with its existing funds and used to support and expand programs to revitalize inner city neighborhoods.

- In addition, the Forest City/Harrah's development proposal will give a total of more than $1 million a year through a foundation to support the community. Half of the funds must be used in neighborhoods with a 60 percent or higher minority population. Franco Harris will lead the effort to give these funds back to the community. This money will be made available as soon as the license is secured.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Buffalo Sabres Owner Opposes Casino

 

As reported by the Buffalo News: "Buffalo Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano said Tuesday that while he is late in opposing the Seneca Nation's new Buffalo Creek casino - and its "video crack" slot machines - he is willing to help the litigants suing to block the development in state and federal courts. ".The Seneca Gaming Corp. has the legal authority, at this juncture, to build the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in the Cobblestone District, just paces from the arena where the Sabres take the ice.

"But anti-casino voices have grown louder in recent days, sparked by repeated disclosures in Seneca Gaming documents that its newest enterprise will cater primarily to Buffalo and its suburbs and not lure tourists from afar."

Foxwoods Faces Public Opposition

 

As reported by the Philadelphia Daily News: "Keeping accurate score of public support or opposition is hardly an exact science. But based on the first full day of public commentary on Philadelphia casinos, it's a safe bet that the Foxwoods casino faces the most daunting battle for public support in the high-stakes bid for one of two state licenses. "During yesterday's hearings, 13 community groups and about 30 individuals addressed the state Gaming Control Board in the second of three days of public hearings.

"The testimony focused on the community impact of two casinos: TrumpStreet, proposed for the former Budd site in Nicetown, and the Foxwoods casino, which would open on a 16-acre site on Columbus Boulevard between Tasker and Reed streets.

"Those proposed casinos are sited in communities that are more heavily populated than those planned by the three other applicants.

"The Trump testimony was generally split between opposition and support, with about five votes of neutrality.

".On the other hand, Foxwoods generated no votes of support and at least eight voices of opposition, mitigated only by a few votes of neutrality."

Brightbill to Return $21,000 From Donors With Gambling Ties

 

As reported by the Associated Press: "Senate Majority Leader David J. Brightbill has returned $21,000 in campaign contributions from donors with gambling ties. "Brightbill, who opposed the 2004 bill legalizing slot machines in Pennsylvania, said he gave back two checks for $10,000 each from D&L Realty, of Lackawanna County; he also returned a $1,000 check from the Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association.

"Brightbill, R-Lebanon, said he returned the contributions to avoid any perception that the money would influence his future votes on slots-related legislation..."

Illinois Probe Looks at Casino Tax Funding

 

As reported by the Gary Post Tribune: "Gov. Mitch Daniels said a state probe has begun to uncover evidence that the backers of a private foundation benefited personally from the $14 million in casino taxes intended for the residents of East Chicago. "The Attorney General's Office and the Indiana Department of Revenue are heading the probe. "If the investigation shows Second Century violated state law, Daniels said he has called on the state's Gaming Commission to 'void that contract and make a new agreement' and possibly force the foundation to return millions it has received since 1995.

".Daniels made his declaration in East Chicago City Hall, where city officials have struggled to win back the funds earmarked for the private, politically connected Second Century foundation since Mayor George Pabey unseated Robert Pastrick.

"Second Century is run by two Pastrick insiders - attorney Tom Cappas and Michael Pannos, a former chairman of the state Democratic Party."

Greektown is at Odds on Licensing

 

As reported by the Detroit Free Press: "Some Greektown restaurant owners are angry that state regulators have cut off their share of $6 million in annual complimentary meal coupons from Greektown Casino. "They share the concern that the state could drive them out of business by requiring that they qualify as casino suppliers and be licensed to feed gamblers. "We don't know how the gaming board can ask us to get a license. A license for what? We have nothing to do with the gamblers," said Steve Georgiou, president of the Greektown Merchants Association. "We just give them lamb chops or soup or whatever and get reimbursed by the casino."

"Georgiou, co-owner of Olympia restaurant, had to lay off 35 of his 70 workers in recent weeks after the Michigan Gaming Control Board pulled his license in February. Business is down by 40%.

"But the gaming control board staff says stringent rules require them to license anyone doing more than $200,000 worth of business each year with the city's three gambling houses..."

Talking Poker With Chris "Jesus" Ferguson

 

Chris "Jesus" Ferguson is a busy man. Exclusively a tournament player, Ferguson travels around the world, buying-in to poker's biggest events. Recently, while driving to participate at the final table of the World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event at Caesars Atlantic City, Ferguson gave me a call and shared some of his poker insight for our readers. Ferguson was excited during the phone interview. He had a small stack going into the WSOP Circuit Event's final day and said this is what he lives for - having a chance to come from behind and win major tournaments.

He said before the event that although he always plays to win, final day tournament play is always exciting. Truth be told, Ferguson said he was happy just to have the final table opportunity and thankful for his abilities in the world's most exciting sport.

Ferguson finished sixth in Atlantic City, but for a time, he was the large stack and in command of the final table.

Ferguson on Becoming a Professional Poker Player

Ferguson hesitates to call himself a professional. He's not being coy. His reputation precedes him and he doesn't pretend poker hasn't made him what he is, but if pushed on what he'd like to list as an occupation, he prefers "student."

Education may be Ferguson's edge over the rest of the poker world. The son of two mathematicians, Ferguson laughs at the common misnomer that he majored in math. His degree from UCLA is actually in Computer Science with a focus on artificial intelligence.

Math is a big part of his game, no doubt the result of many discussions and homework sessions at the family dinner table. Most poker fans believe his background is Math, but his actual expertise lies in computers and anyone assuming his amazing math skills comes from university training is misinformed.

"I've played card my whole life," Ferguson said. "I'm sure at some point my parents taught me about cards. My earliest poker memory comes from fourth grade."

Playing a game of 5-Card Draw, Ferguson's set of queens lost to a flush. He lost his entire bankroll fourth grade bankroll of 35-cents and vowed never to go broke again.

"I've played card my whole life," Ferguson said. "I'm sure at some point my parents taught me about cards. My earliest poker memory comes from fourth grade."

Playing in regular home games in high school and college, Ferguson squeezed out enough money to make regular trips to Las Vegas and support his lifestyle. Playing against the world's best players in Vegas convinced Ferguson he could beat the game, encouraging him to continue to learn.

His love of computers led him to the Internet before many even knew poker existed on that medium. The games and tournaments at the IRC Poker Network were all for play money, but Ferguson said in those days (the late eighties - early nineties), players took the non-real-money games very seriously.

He quickly became the highest rated online tournament player at IRC. Supplementing his online play with cash games at the Southern California casinos, Ferguson eventually made the move to big money tournaments.

After graduating with his Ph.D. from UCLA in 1999, Ferguson made the trek to the Horseshoe in Vegas to play in poker's biggest tournament. Finally completing his degree after 18-years of study, Ferguson was ready to focus on poker full time. He won the WSOP Main Event in 2000, making him a World Champion and a millionaire.

"I became a pro very recently," Ferguson said. "Even when I won the World Series, I never planned to play professionally. It's something I just kind of fell into."

Ferguson on Tournament Play

Most professionals consider cash games to be their bankroll staple. Ferguson is not your typical professional. Although he's dabbled in cash games in the past, Ferguson made the conscious choice to play only tournaments.

He enjoys the strategy. While cash games require consistent techniques to win money, tournaments change constantly, forcing a player to shift tactics as limits increase and stack-to-big blind ratios come into play.

And rather than sitting for hours trying to reach a certain cash amount, tournaments have one goal - to win.

"A lot of people can sit down and play for 15 hours at a time," Ferguson said. "I can't, I get tired. In the tournaments, as I get tired, the limits and antes increase which forces me to pay attention. I could sit there for 40 hours in a tournament."

Ferguson does not have an aversion to money. The winner of more than $5 million in tournament prizes knows he needs to keep making money to call poker a career, but money isn't everything to a person who considers competition his greatest drive.

"There is a real goal in tournaments.winning," Ferguson said. "You play to win a tournament. In cash games you play to win money and honestly that's not as appealing to me."

His tournament record speaks for itself. His first major win came in 2000 when he captured the $1,500 7-Card Stud WSOP event bracelet. Later in that World Series, Ferguson cemented his standing in the poker world by defeating veteran T.J. Cloutier to take home the Main Event title.

Since then, Ferguson has collected three more bracelets, two in Omaha Hi-Lo Split in one more No Limit Texas Hold'Em. Dating back to 1995, no one has more bracelets (5), final table appearances (25), or money finishes (42) than "Jesus."

More recently, Ferguson finished runner-up in consecutive years (2005-06) in the NBC National Heads Up Championship. In a world that loves tournament poker, Ferguson stands a cowboy hat above the rest.

"Tournaments are just more exciting," Ferguson said. "The play is always changing. You can't help but love the strategy necessary to win the big ones."

Ferguson on Internet Play

It can be argued that Ferguson is the leader of the Internet generation of poker players. Playing on the IRC Poker Network at a time when even the Internet was a new idea, Ferguson became someone to watch, holding the top Internet tournament ranking for most of the early 1990s.

"Back then it was play money only, but people took it very seriously," Ferguson said. "We had maybe 5-10 tables in the beginning and only a handful of regular players. It continued to grow and now online play is unbelievable."

The transition from major online to major live tournaments was a quick one. He played in his first WSOP event in 1995 and in his first 5-years, he played in seven final table, finishing fourth in one event.

His breakout year was 2000. His new school style of math and Internet knowledge contrasted greatly with old school player T.J. Cloutier. He believes his win opened the door for Internet players, moving them from someone to scorn to someone to fear.

Two of the last three WSOP Main Event Champions have come from online qualifiers, proving Ferguson's point that the Internet can be a powerful tool for aspiring poker professionals. Chris Moneymaker won the Main event in 2003 and Greg "Fossilman" Raymer followed up in 2004. Both qualified for the event online.

"When I started out, people scoffed at the idea of an Internet player," Ferguson said. "Established players said you couldn't learn the game without seeing your opponents. I think the success of Internet players in recent years has changed that way of thinking."

After his successes in 2000 and 2001, Ferguson put his computer skills to work, helping to create the software currently used by fulltiltpoker.com. He said his collaboration on that project is one of the highlights of his poker career and he backs up his words by playing exclusively on that site.

"I think it's good for players to start online," Ferguson said. "You can start in smaller tournaments like for $5. It's a great place to learn. You get to play in tons of hands and really learn how to play, especially betting size and blind structure."

Given his origins in Internet play and his success in live tournaments, Ferguson has trouble picking which one he prefers more.

Ferguson On Being A Celebrity

His skills make him well known in all poker circles, but it's his look that makes him a household name. Donning all black with a signature cowboy hat on top his head, Ferguson is known to most as "Jesus," especially when his long hair encompasses his intimidating face.

In 2006, the WSOP made him their cover boy by putting his likeness on the official WSOP video game. It's hard to find a serious player who doesn't know "Jesus," but with his entry into mainstream markets, it's not a stretch to call Ferguson a celebrity.

"I love people coming up to me and saying hello," Ferguson said. "I love the celebrity aspect. These opportunities didn't exist 2-3 years ago."

Television audiences everywhere got a good look at Ferguson when he starred in a series of Milwaukee's Best Light beer commercials. Crouched in a refrigerator ready to give poker advice to an average Joe in a poker game, Ferguson proved he has a sense of humor and willingness to stand in the spotlight.

He believes there will be plenty of opportunities in the future for poker players to grab a little side action in the endorsement arena.

"Corporate America hasn't full embraced poker yet, but I think it's coming," Ferguson said. "There is still a reluctance to involve poker players. Poker has been looked down upon in the past and I don't think the sport has fully shaken that image."

Ferguson on the World Poker Tour

Because of his contractual obligations with full tilt poker and other sponsors, Ferguson will not play in any WPT events. The WPT makes its players sign a waiver that allows the WPT to use a player's likeness, image, and footage in any of their side projects like video games and DVDS.

Ferguson joins a number of poker professionals that cannot play in the WPT's major tournaments because of the disagreement over the rights' waiver.

"The WPT does not let me play," Ferguson said. "Until their policy changes, I can't play in any of their events."

Ferguson on What's Coming Up

Ferguson plans to stay busy. Although his schedule is not set in stone, he plans to play in nearly every major tournament in 2006. When asked about the World Series Events, he says, "I plan to play every goddamn day."

Interestingly, Ferguson does not see another Main Event Championship on the horizon. "I never thought I'd win the World Series and I don't think I'll win it again."

Other Ferguson Facts

It is well known that Ferguson can throw a playing card so fast, he can slice through vegetables from 10-feet away. Some of Ferguson's confirmed kills include carrots, bananas, and pickles.

Ferguson is an avid ballroom dancer and is proficient in all the dances including: the foxtrot, waltz, tango, and the mambo. Currently, his favorite dance is the West Coast Swing, a throwback to his California roots.

Although Poker has brought him fame, Ferguson said he doesn't obsess about the game and doesn't really consider it his main activity. Ferguson said he'd rather be known as a game theorist and his dream job would be teaching game theory at a major university.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Alan Sofer To Represent Casino City At The World Series Of Poker

 

When 39-year old Alan Sofer was in high school, one of his teachers had hemophilia. A complication during surgery cost that teacher his life and the experience has stayed with Sofer. At a recent weekly home game, a friend told Alan about 2006 Game Night, an event at the ESPN Sports Zone in Times Square held to raise money for the National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF). Given his love for poker and his personal awareness of the disease's tragic effects, Sofer decided to buy into the $500 Game Night poker tournament and compete with a few of his friends for a good cause.

At night's end, Sofer was the tournament winner, receiving a Casino City sponsored entry in the June 27th $1,500 No Limit Texas Hold'Em World Series of Poker Tournament.

But for him, the night was about the children.

"I feel for anyone with an illness or disease and I have a special place in my heart for children with hemophilia," Sofer said. "Whatever I can do to contribute, whether it be monetary or time, I do it with an open heart. It puts a smile on my face to know I made a difference."

Sofer said he's very excited about getting a chance to participate in one of poker's most prestigious tournaments. He went to Las Vegas a couple years ago and called the city "a beautiful must see." But on this visit, he's going with a mission.

Poker is a part of Sofer's life. He began playing two years ago and tries to make it once or twice a week to a home game with his friends. Television is where he does most of his research, watching old World Series tapes and current World Poker Tour telecasts. He also picks up a few poker books when he can.

But he doesn't consider himself a poker player. Basketball is his favorite sport, but he said his favorite thing to do is spend time with his wife Sheri and his three children Marlene (13), Hayley (10) and Isaac (5).

"I love being with my kids," Sofer said. "They grow up so quick you can't get enough time with them."

A lifetime resident of New York, Sofer lives in Plainview with his family. He works as a traveling salesman and is considered one of the best at Elite Technologies in New Hyde Park, according to their President and CEO. His boss is very supportive of his upcoming trip to the World Series of Poker and Sofer said he's heard nothing but well wishes from family, friends, and associates who know about his chance.

"It's all very exciting," Sofer said. "I've had all kinds of friends coming up to me with advice and well wishes. Some have even come up to me with business propositions (if he wins), but we'll see about that. We'll take it one step at a time."

For Sofer, just a couple weeks ago the World Series of Poker was nothing more than something to watch on TV. Now he gets a chance to play against the best in the world and surprisingly, he said he's not intimidated by the idea of competing for a gold bracelet.

"I don't know what to expect," Sofer said. "I'm looking forward to it. If I end up at a table with the big boys, so be it. If not, that's good too. I'm just going to play my game and have a good time."

Sofer plays online at PokerRoom.com and says he will play a little bit more in anticipation of the big day, but nothing about his poker will change. He plans to play aggressively and do his best to play the way he always does.

And what if he wins?

"Who knows," Sofer said. "I'm a salesman so I like to take chances. If there's an opportunity out there for me, I'll take advantage of it. If not, hey I'm in Vegas and I'm sure it will be a great time."

Casino City will follow Sofer's progress as he makes his way to Las Vegas and competes in the WSOP. For updates on his progress and news stories from the event, visit the Casino City Web site at www.casinocity.com .

The National Hemophilia Foundation

Established in 1948, the National Hemophilia Foundation operates in various chapters all around the country. Their programs and initiatives are funded through donations from individuals, corporations and foundations as well as through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to their Web site.

Hemophilia may be the most well known of the blood disorders with an estimated 400,000 people affected worldwide. There is no cure for hemophilia and although treatments exist, the NHF reports that these treatments are costly and may require lifelong infusions of replacement clotting factor just to maintain normal life activities.

The NHF also works with many other abnormal blood clotting disorders that affect hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. Some of these diseases are genetic, while others are temporary, but according to the NHF, all of these diseases require more research to find effective ways to manage and fix the problems.

Mount Airy Resort & Casino Plan Advances

 

Mount Airy Resort & Casino cleared another hurdle as the Paradise Township Planning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday night to recommend that the Township Board of Supervisors review and approve Phase I of a $360 million plan to redevelop the site of the former Mt. Airy Lodge. "With this action, Mount Airy continues to be well ahead in seeking to secure a gaming license for the region," said Mount Airy owner Louis A. DeNaples. "The Planning Commission's recommendation puts us one step closer to our goal of building a resort and casino that will bolster the economy of the entire region. Best of all, this project will complement - not compete with - existing businesses and attractions in the Poconos."

Phase I of the redevelopment plan calls for the construction of a 200-room luxury resort hotel, a gaming and entertainment complex that would house 3,000 slot machines, four restaurants, two live entertainment lounges, an 18-hole championship golf course, an indoor pool, spa, retail shops, and a covered parking facility.

Phase I construction is estimated at $300 million, which would be followed in Phase II with an expanded casino to accommodate a total of 5,000 slot machines, an additional 200 luxury hotel rooms, and additional conference, entertainment and parking facilities. The plan also provides nearly 550 acres of green space.

The project will create 300 construction jobs and 650 full-time jobs when complete. During its first year of operation, Mount Airy Resort & Casino will generate $83 million in state and local tax assessments. That figure is expected to grow to $161 million by the resort's fifth year in operation. The project also is expected to generate $69.3 million in total economic output during its first year and $134 million by year five.

The Planning Commission attached a number of conditions to its vote. Conditions include securing state, county and local permits; completing the design for a pedestrian bridge, and obtaining approval from the Department of Environmental Protection on the storm water management plan.

Colma Voters Support Unlimited Betting

 

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle: "Voters in Colma on Tuesday supported unlimited betting at a local casino in poker and Asian games in an advisory measure intended to sway the state Legislature to allow no-limit gambling. ".Unlimited betting was allowed from the time the Lucky Chances Casino opened in 1998 until December of last year, when the city government and casino management followed a directive from the state attorney general's office and limited bets to $200.

"Measure R is not binding, but Colma leaders hoped the support of the town's 1,200 or so residents could help persuade the state Legislature to clarify California laws and ensure that no-limit gambling is allowed. Most of poker's recent worldwide popularity is because of no-limit hold 'em, a game now illegal in Colma, but available at many other Bay Area cardrooms."

Reliving the Good Old Days

 

While competitors on the Strip tear down older hotels to make way for sparkling luxury resorts, investors buying the Riviera are doing the opposite. They see a market niche in nostalgia for the Las Vegas of decades ago. The investors - a geographically diverse group of experienced real estate investors including Brett Torino, Barry Sternlicht and Neil Bluhm - intend to keep the old building standing while spending millions on improvements.

It's a decision that runs counter to the trend. As the Strip evolves from resorts based on fantasy-themed re-creations of other times and places, the Riveria will become a themed resort almost by default - one of the last remaining authentic examples of Las Vegas in the 1960s.

"I think there's a longing for what Las Vegas used to be," said Scott Butera, a former executive with Trump Entertainment Resorts in Atlantic City and leader of the investor group. "We think it's a nostalgic asset that has a brand that can be restored and get the capital it's been missing."

Butera is a former Wall Street investment banker who was instrumental in restructuring Trump's debt and bringing the company and its casinos out of bankruptcy.

The notion of nostalgia is a quirky one in Las Vegas, where buildings rarely remain standing long enough to evoke a sense of history.

For some, nostalgia recalls the Rat Pack days when headliners and live entertainment ruled the Strip. For others, it is a longing for the Las Vegas when buffets cost less than $10.

A vintage look and feel is also attracting young customers who never experienced Las Vegas before it was overrun by themes, and then high rises and exclusive nightclubs.

While the ultimate plan for the Riviera hasn't been determined, the group aims to re-create the spirit of the 1960s and 1970s, when the property was in its heyday, Butera said.

"There's a tremendous history of entertainment at the Riviera," he said. "A lot of people really cut their teeth there."

The idea isn't new.

The Sahara, Golden Nugget and Stardust have attracted entertainers from the 1960s and 1970s who draw older regulars. Some properties have remodeled over the years without completely modernizing their interiors.

As more casinos go upscale, places such as the Riviera - one of the oldest on the Strip - can get mileage out of preserving their properties and marketing themselves as an authentic piece of Las Vegas history, experts say.

"I think it makes sense," said Anthony Curtis, publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor. "The only thing left that's new might just be old. If you've already got an old place, you wouldn't want to tear it down and start from scratch if you didn't have to."

Some say the Riviera investors may capitalize on connections to Elvis Presley's image.

Robert Sillerman is a former concert promoter who is managing partner of Flag Luxury Properties, one of the investors in the Riviera purchase.

His publicly traded company, CKX Inc., last year purchased majority rights to Presley's name and image, among other prized family assets.

Some investment analysts, however, say remodeling isn't a successful long-term strategy. Older casinos become even less competitive amid newer luxury properties, they say.

Deutsche Bank bond analyst Andrew Zarnett said the investors will most likely try to improve operations for a few more years before tearing down the building.

" 'No' doesn't mean never, it means 'not now,' " Zarnett said.

The casino's slot machines are outdated compared with many of the high-tech slots customers expect to see around town, he said. The rooms could also be improved and better marketed.

"Given its location at the end of the Strip that's getting more and more attention, they can pull a higher volume of customers down there" at higher rates, Zarnett said.

The company has spent about $30 million to maintain its Riviera casinos in Las Vegas and Colorado over the past three years, a minimal amount in the casino business, he said.

Others say a lucrative niche exists for casinos that appeal to visitors who liked Las Vegas the way it was before the spread of expensive hotels, condos and other attractions.

"The Riviera is going to be surrounded by all these pricey joints," said Jeffrey Compton, a Las Vegas casino consultant. "They can stay where they're at and pick up the cash flow from all those other places" that are being torn down.

"There are people out there who like values - that was the crowd that came to Vegas for many years," Compton said. "They could keep their hotel and restaurant expenses low enough to pay a decent amount of money at the tables and machines."

The Riviera is a mishmash of buildings and passageways that have been added over the years. The property has attracted a steady stream of customers drawn to its eclectic shows and bargain prices in spite of a confusing design and well-worn interior.

One casino operator who passed on the Riviera is Tim Poster, the former boss of the Golden Nugget. Like other potential buyers, Poster wanted to tear down the Riviera and rebuild - a proposition that was ultimately too expensive.

But Poster still believes there's a market for the kind of property that can create a more personalized casino experience.

"There's a certain amount of charm to be able to take the elevator down and be on top of the casino," he said. "In some of these bigger properties you can just get lost."

Study: New Jersey to Receive Almost $1 Billion in Gaming Funds

 

"The Casino Association of New Jersey Tuesday released results of a study that estimated the gaming industry will generate more than $980 million in state and local taxes and other obligations in 2006. "These include money for the Casino Revenue Fund, which pays for programs benefiting seniors and the disabled, and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, funds earmarked for development and other projects throughout the state.

"'The success of casino gaming in New Jersey is statewide and far exceeds the Atlantic City region,' said Audrey S. Oswell, president of the casino association.

"Over the years, the CRDA has contributed to projects such as the Camden Children's Garden, Shepherd's Farm Senior Housing in West Deptford, and the Alice Paul Leadership Center in Mount Laurel.

".Northfield-based Spectrum Gaming Group, which conducted the study, anticipates the casino industry in Atlantic City will produce about $5.2 billion in gaming revenue in 2006 and $500 million in non-gaming revenue. Last year, the industry set a record, topping the $5 billion mark for gaming revenue.

".Despite a 7.7 percent increase in gaming revenue for the first quarter, the anticipated gain of almost 4 percent is not unrealistic, said Joe Weinert, vice president of Spectrum Gaming Group."

Third Cleveland Casino Plan Submitted

 

As reported by the Plain Dealer: "Business leaders put the money squeeze on racetrack owners and Cleveland's would-be casino developers on Tuesday, submitting a third casino plan to the state. "The Greater Cleveland Partnership submitted ballot language that mimics a plan from the Learn and Earn Committee, which is proposing 10 slots parlors statewide. "There's one big difference - Cleveland leaders want a $30 million fee at each site, for local economic development. Other plans don't call for such fees.

"Business leaders, Cuyahoga County commissioners and Mayor Frank Jackson have been negotiating for months with the Learn and Earn campaign, which includes businessman Jeff Jacobs and Forest City Enterprises Inc.

"Commissioners appear to favor the demand for a licensing fee. Jackson had no statement to make on the debate, a spokesman said."

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Monticello Raceway Transfer Review Completed

 

Empire Resorts, Inc. ("Empire") today announced that its partner, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, was notified that the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has completed its review of the Environmental Assessment (EA) for a proposed transfer of land into trust for a casino at the Monticello Raceway site. This review identified certain items in the EA that need to be enhanced and/or modified; once such concerns are addressed, a final modified EA will be submitted to the BIA for review and approval. David P. Hanlon, Empire's President and CEO, commented, "The list of items from the Department of the Interior is consistent with our expectations and provides a definitive roadmap for moving forward with the environmental assessment. We have already begun work on all remaining items - such that we can obtain a modified EA as soon as possible."

Century Casinos Acquires Casino Millennium Shares

 

Century Casinos, Inc. announced today that the Company has acquired the remaining 50% of all issued and outstanding shares of Casino Millennium a.s. ("CM"), Prague, Czech Republic, that were owned by Strabag AG, a non-affiliated Austrian company. The transaction has been closed on April 13, 2006. The total consideration paid was $680,000, including the buyout of a security deposit for the casino license in the amount of CZK 10 million (approx. $425,000) which belongs to CM, the takeover of loans previously granted to CM by Strabag and the purchase price for the 50% equity interest.

Since its opening in 1999, Casino Millennium, located in the 600 room Marriott and Renaissance hotel, office and shopping complex, has established its position as the premium casino in the heart of Prague with high standards of customer service and hospitality.

Hollywood Sportsbook Offers Odds on MLB Game

 

Hollywood Sportsbook features odds on the MLB game between the Seattle Mariners and the Cleveland Indians on April 13th, 2006. The Indians took a five-game winning streak into Monday's off day this week before opening a three-game set on Tuesday April 11 against the Seattle Mariners, who followed the season-opening series with a 6-2 win over the Oakland, but went on to lose three straight to the Athletics. Having won all five games against the two teams they expect to compete with for the Central Division title, Chicago and Minnesota; the Cleveland Indians off their best start since opening 11-1 four years ago. Now they go for a victory when they play against the Seattle Mariners on Thursday April 13th at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Ohio at 7:05 pm and Hollywood Sportsbook proudly features odds on the event.

Hollywood's Media Relations executive, Alejandro Gomez, was quoted saying, "The Indians have used a mixture of hitting and pitching to win their games during this season. They are getting good pitching, good fielding and guys like Travis Hafner are really hitting well"

"Besides, before opening the three-game set on Tuesday, the Cleveland Indians won five of its last six games against Seattle, so the Indians have good chances to win against a team that has also high hopes for themselves. The Mariners haven't been playing good, neither bad, they are somewhere in the middle," 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.

Missouri Ticket Wins $224 Million Jackpot

 

Powerball paid off big in multiple ways Wednesday night. Not only was there one winning jackpot ticket worth a whopping $224.2 million sold in Missouri, but also there was a ticket that won $800,000 with Power Play in Pennsylvania! In addition, nine other fortunate players won $200,000 for matching 5 white ball numbers in the states of Arizona (1), Idaho (1), Kansas (1), Louisiana (1), Minnesota (1), New Mexico (1), Pennsylvania (1), Tennessee (1), and West Virginia (1). The jackpot winner will now have to decide between the 29-year, 30-payment annuity, and the cash option worth $102,868,636. The winner will have 60 days after their ticket is validated to make that decision.

The jackpot for the Saturday, April 15th drawing will be $15 million with the cash option at $6.9 million.

The numbers drawn Wednesday evening were 16, 26, 34, 35, 41, and the Powerball was 24. The Power Play multiplier was 4.

Forty-eight players matched 4 white numbers plus the Powerball and won $10,000. Twelve additional players of that prize level wisely purchased the Power Play and had their prize multiplied by 4 for a $40,000 cash win! A total of 1,107,435 players across the nation won more than $10.4 million in prizes playing America's favorite game.

More than 145,000 winning Powerball players multiplied their prize by 4 Wednesday. They were able to do that by purchasing the Power Play option for $1. With Power Play you multiply your Powerball winnings from 2-5 times, except for the jackpot. At the beginning of each drawing a wheel is spun to select that night's multiplier.

Players should carefully check their tickets after every draw. Even if there are no jackpot winners there are always tens of thousands of winners at other prize levels.

Players purchased more than $46 million in tickets between Sunday and Wednesday night.

The lotteries have sold approximately $2.4 billion in Powerball tickets so far in fiscal year 2006. That translates into approximately $700 million for worthwhile state projects.

Powerball is now played in 28 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Jackpot Factory Launches Promotion

 

The Jackpot Factory Group, one of Microgaming's elite casino groups with a wide array of games and incredible promotions, announced the launch of "Bonuses in Bloom" - a random gameplay promotion with up to $75,000 in cash prizes at stake. The bonuses will be raining down all month at All Slots Casino, All Jackpots Casino, and First Web Casino and anyone playing their favorite game is automatically eligible for the random bonus. To make the promotion truly arbitrary, the Jackpot Factory Group created a random bonus generator that first detects which casino accounts are online and then randomly selects a winner. Subsequently, the lucky winners are automatically credited and notified by email.

David Brickman, Spokesperson for the Jackpot Factory Group said, "April is the month traditionally known for showers and our casinos are going to be showering bonuses on lots of lucky players every hour. We have run similar gameplay promotions before and learned that they are quite popular, especially with new players. Furthermore, since this promotion is random, everyone has the same chance of winning.

"The best thing about this promotion is that the crediting is instantaneous. A player wins and receives the bonus money right away. Prospective players that are interested in Bonuses in Bloom and more of the industry's best promotions should first take up one or more of the Jackpot Factory Group's various sign up offers, all of which are guaranteed. All Jackpots Casino for example offers a lucrative 400% sign up offer."

Tourism Boss: Allure of Vegas Not Just Gambling

 

A Las Vegas tourism official on Wednesday showcased Southern Nevada's approach to marketing itself as an oasis for "adult freedom" in a speech before international tourism leaders and executives. Rossi Ralenkotter, president and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said a blend of entertainment, dining, nightlife, golf and spas has helped diversify the Las Vegas brand beyond a "one-dimensional destination" for gambling. "We couldn't just be a gaming destination. We need to be all things to all people," Ralenkotter said at The Global Travel & Tourism Summit.

Las Vegas was cited as a model during the conference being held at the Washington Convention Center over three days. The event drew about 700 tourism executives, government leaders, and airline and hotel chairmen from around the world.

"Las Vegas gets it," said Jonathan Tisch, chairman and chief executive of Loews Hotels and chairman of NYC & Company, the New York visitors bureau. "Las Vegas understands that this is a very competitive environment both internally and internationally. And Las Vegas supports the product, supports the brand with a very large budget."

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, whose $278 million operating budget is funded by room taxes, spends $120 million annually on destination advertising, marketing and promotion, Ralenkotter said. Tourism generated $36.7 billion in Las Vegas last year.

Based on interviews with visitors who associate the city with "excitement, sexiness and mischief," Ralenkotter said Las Vegas positioned itself as an adult destination.

"When you boil us all down it's all about adult freedom," he said. "That's how we came up with 'What happens here, stays here,' " a slogan that has gained worldwide exposure.

Ralenkotter said Las Vegas cannot relax.

To grow visitor foot traffic from 39 million in 2005 to 43 million in 2009, the city needs to maintain its current visitor base, increase the frequency of visits and find new markets, Ralenkotter said.

Other goals include boosting the city's hotel room inventory from 133,000 to 171,000 by 2010, Ralenkotter said.

Roger Dow, president and chief executive of the Travel Industry Association of America, said Las Vegas could help itself further by expanding McCarran International Airport and unclogging traffic along the Strip.

Ralenkotter said the visitors authority has launched a direct-marketing campaign through 1,000 face-to-face sales calls in the next year targeted at tour operators, corporate meeting executives and trade show producers.

It is also looking at ways to attract gay, lesbian, Hispanic and black visitors, and increase the number of international nonstop flights to Las Vegas.

The visitors authority has travel offices in eight international cities, with a new office opening soon in Toronto, Canada.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Cowlitz Casino Study Released

 

As reported by the Columbian: "A long-awaited study on the proposed Cowlitz Tribe's casino complex advocates building a huge project that would employ nearly 3,200 people. "The draft environmental impact statement, prepared by Analytical Environmental Services of Sacramento, Calif., details a massive structure near La Center that would cost $510.3 million to build and contain 1.2 million square feet. "The document continues to dismiss many of the concerns raised by casino opponents, specifically worries that the tribe's project would trigger bankruptcies and spawn crime because of gambling's addictive nature.

"The study is remarkably similar to October's preliminary draft that was obtained by The Columbian but never released to the public.".Almost all of the project's features remain unchanged, including a 134,150-square-foot casino that would generate an estimated $415.2 million a year in gambling revenue.

".The project would create 4,011 temporary construction jobs, with an average salary of $46,200 and a total construction payroll of $185.3 million. Sales tax on construction purchases would generate an estimated $39.3 million. The tribe has agreed to use only union workers for construction.

"The completed project would create 3,151 permanent jobs, with an average annual wage of $28,000 and a total annual payroll of $88.1 million. The highest percentage of employees, 39 percent, would work in the casino. About 18 percent of employees would work in food and beverage service."

Harrah's Casino's Traffic Impact Studied

 

As reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Harrah's Station Square Casino has the potential to 'blow up' traffic congestion on the South Side, an independent traffic engineer told the city's Gaming Task Force today. "Chuck Wooster, president of David E. Wooster and Associates, raised questions about both Harrah's and Majestic Star Casino, which would locate on the North Shore. But he issued his harshest assessments about the Station Square site.

"Harrah's 'woefully underestimated' the number of cars that would come to a casino, provided "inadequate" traffic information and has few options to ease the projected congestion by expanding Carson Street or the Smithfield Street Bridge, Wooster said.

".From a purely traffic standpoint, Wooster said he favors the plan by Isle of Capri Casino, which would pay $290 million for a new arena if it wins the license."

New Product Puts Cash at Gamblers' Disposal Quicker

 

Two Las Vegas gaming-equipment providers are developing a device that could eventually let slot customers make credit-card and debit-card withdrawals directly at the game. The proposed device won't allow casino patrons to gamble directly off their Visa or American Express cards, but will remove several steps in the current money access process, Mike Rumbolz, chief executive officer of Cash Systems, said Wednesday. Cash Systems is developing the product with Bally Technologies. Scotch Twist LLC, which has several patents that allow for the transfer of money to a gaming device, is also participating in the joint venture. Rumbolz could not give a price for the product because it is still in development.

The product would let casino patrons set up accounts with particular gambling halls, using conventional credit cards or debit cards as cash sources to fund wagering.

The device would let players access money through their regular player club cards off any of the casino's slot machines. For security, players would need personal identification numbers to access the money.

Bally Technologies will provide the hardware for the slot machine-casino interface and the accounting systems. Cash Systems will provide the products for cash access transactions between the casino and banks.

Both Bally Technologies and Cash Systems will jointly market the product.

Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said current state law does not allow the direct electronic transfer of money from credit cards into a gaming device. The legislation does not cover debit cards and the Nevada Gaming Commission has asked the control board not to approve any proposed devices that would enable money transfers from a debit card into a slot machine until more information is gathered.

"We're just going to have to take a look at what they are proposing before we know if this product would be allowed under our laws," Neilander said.

Rumbolz said the system is at least nine months to a year from being used on a casino floor. The system will first be tested in American Indian gaming jurisdictions, Rumbolz said.

"In the casino environment, time equals money, and these products will significantly expedite the cash advance process where both customers and casinos believe it matters most, at the gaming device," Rumbolz said.

Bally Technologies Chief Executive Officer Richard Haddrill said the product would increase gamblers' convenience.

"This next stage of cashless (gaming) will provide both patron convenience and operator efficiency," Haddrill said.

Problem-gambling advocates have traditionally opposed allowing credit card access at slot machines. But Rumbolz said the products could offer some form of data gathering on customers' wagering habits.

"These products will provide regulators with new methods for identifying and addressing critical issues surrounding responsible gambling," Rumbolz said.

In news related to Wednesday's announcement, Bally Technologies said Tuesday that it agreed to provide Boyd Gaming Corp. with casino management, slot accounting and slot machine bonus technology for the company's 30,000 slot machines in six states.

A Bally spokesman said he could not give a price for the transaction.

Las Vegas Visitor Count Up

 

Las Vegas narrowly missed the 3 million visitor mark in February, the first time in a year the local travel industry fell short of that threshold. Regardless, the month's nearly 2.98 million visitors were enough to make this the busiest February on record, up 0.9 percent from a year ago. In the first two months of the year, more than 6.15 million guests were in town, data released Wednesday by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority show. That's a 2.6 percent jump from last year, which ended with a record annual total of nearly 38.6 million visitors.

From Chinese New Year and an international furniture show to Super Bowl parties, Valentine's Day weddings and another visit from the year's largest semiannual apparel event, travelers had plenty of reasons to come here during the year's shortest month.

They also paid plenty for the privilege.

Average daily rates for the city's 131,617 guest rooms were more than $120, up 18 percent from a year ago.

Despite higher prices and a slight increase in available rooms, citywide occupancy climbed to better than 90 percent.

February's conventions enjoyed 53.3 percent better attendance than a year ago.

World Market Center, a downtown Las Vegas furniture showcase that drew an estimated 62,000 attendees from Jan. 30 through Feb. 3, did not take place in winter 2005.

The Men's Apparel Guild in California apparel trade show drew an estimated 115,000 visitors, well above 2005's reported 90,000.

In addition, the 39,000-attendee SHOT Show and 41,000-attendee Surfaces floor coverings event moved to February following January dates in 2005.

As a result of those changes, convention-related spending topped $1 billion, up 65 percent from February 2005's $646.8 million.

Numbers from Laughlin and Mesquite continued to slide, though one expert said the falloff was a bit misleading. The Southern Nevada getaways saw monthly decreases of 12 percent and 2.8 percent respectively. Likewise, their year-to-date tallies were down 11.4 percent and 8.7 percent.

Laughlin last enjoyed a monthly increase in April 2004; Mesquite's most-recent positive month was January 2005.

"There's been a decline in day-trippers to Laughlin, but the type of visitor they're getting is spending more on gaming," Kevin Bagger, the authority's research director, said Wednesday. "Mesquite continues to see good gains in gaming numbers and (average daily rate) levels. That shows they're getting visitors with a strong spending propensity."

Greektown Leads Detroit Casinos

 

As reported by the Detroit Free Press: "Greektown Casino led Detroit casinos in revenue growth for March, registering a 14.6% rise, the Michigan Gaming Control Board reports. "Greektown reported revenue of $32.2 million, up from $28.1 million in the same month last year. MGM Grand Detroit Casino had a 1.53% rise in revenue to $41.5 million for March, while MotorCity Casino reported revenue rose by 1.54% to $40.9 million."

PEI Casino On Hold

 

As reported by the Canadian Press: "The PEI government has suspended plans for a casino-styled gambling centre in Summerside. "Treasurer Mitch Murphy said the province won't proceed with a so-called racino at the Summerside Raceway until a similar centre in Charlottetown meets its financial targets."

Cowlitz Casino Study Released

 

As reported by the Columbian: "A long-awaited study on the proposed Cowlitz Tribe's casino complex advocates building a huge project that would employ nearly 3,200 people. "The draft environmental impact statement, prepared by Analytical Environmental Services of Sacramento, Calif., details a massive structure near La Center that would cost $510.3 million to build and contain 1.2 million square feet. "The document continues to dismiss many of the concerns raised by casino opponents, specifically worries that the tribe's project would trigger bankruptcies and spawn crime because of gambling's addictive nature. "The study is remarkably similar to October's preliminary draft that was obtained by The Columbian but never released to the public.

".Almost all of the project's features remain unchanged, including a 134,150-square-foot casino that would generate an estimated $415.2 million a year in gambling revenue.

".The project would create 4,011 temporary construction jobs, with an average salary of $46,200 and a total construction payroll of $185.3 million. Sales tax on construction purchases would generate an estimated $39.3 million. The tribe has agreed to use only union workers for construction.

"The completed project would create 3,151 permanent jobs, with an average annual wage of $28,000 and a total annual payroll of $88.1 million. The highest percentage of employees, 39 percent, would work in the casino. About 18 percent of employees would work in food and beverage service."

Harrah's Casino's Traffic Impact Studied

 

As reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Harrah's Station Square Casino has the potential to 'blow up' traffic congestion on the South Side, an independent traffic engineer told the city's Gaming Task Force today. "Chuck Wooster, president of David E. Wooster and Associates, raised questions about both Harrah's and Majestic Star Casino, which would locate on the North Shore. But he issued his harshest assessments about the Station Square site. "Harrah's 'woefully underestimated' the number of cars that would come to a casino, provided "inadequate" traffic information and has few options to ease the projected congestion by expanding Carson Street or the Smithfield Street Bridge, Wooster said.

".From a purely traffic standpoint, Wooster said he favors the plan by Isle of Capri Casino, which would pay $290 million for a new arena if it wins the license."

Friday, April 14, 2006

Group Puts Off Listing Casino Concerns

 

As reported by the Contra Costa Times: "A North Richmond neighborhood advisory group failed Tuesday to come up with a list of concerns about a planned Las Vegas-styled casino in its community. "Though the North Richmond Advisory Council has until April 28 to submit written concerns, the group does not yet have such a list drafted, nor has it set a meeting date to vote on one, chairman Lee Jones said Wednesday. "A Contra Costa County assistant administrator and a representative from county Supervisor John Gioia's office at the neighborhood group's meeting Tuesday warned that it was important to include the community's concerns in the project's environmental impact statement.

"But during the meeting, Jones said he wanted instead to hear from tribal Chairman Donald Arnold.

".If the council misses the April 28 deadline, it could jeopardize North Richmond's ability to sue the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians should the tribe fail to deliver on a number of promises it has made to community members, Supervisor John Gioia said Wednesday. These include providing jobs to North Richmond residents, improving schools and funding health care in the impoverished and crime-ridden area."

Kalispell Board Supports Casino

 

As reported by the Daily Inter Lake News: "How close should casinos be to Kalispell's parks, schools and churches? "The Kalispell Planning Board wrestled Tuesday with two aspects of that question, deciding to recommend that the City Council: "-Keep the current legal 300-foot buffer and have the city staff explore creating exemptions if a four-lane highway, river, airport or other barriers are located between a casino and a church, park or school. "-Set up a planned-unit-development zone at the old Montana National Guard armory to allow a Hilton Garden hotel-conference-restaurant-casino complex to be built there.

".Both recommendations have an intertwined history with the Hilton Garden project.

"The city is seriously considering selling the 3.4-acre armory site to an Ohio development company, Gateway Hospitality Group, for $1.216 million."

Casino Lawsuit Bogged Down by Attorney Fees

 

As reported by the Whitefish Pilot: "Negotiations in the Best Bet Casino inverse-condemnation lawsuit have bogged down over the issue of litigation expenses, with the attorney for the casino asking for $263,507. "That's on top of the $176,833 that a jury awarded K & R Partnership in July last year. In a 12-0 ruling, the jury decided the city owed $161,000 for the value of the land taken to build 13th Street between U.S. Highway 93 and Baker Avenue, and $15,833 for breach of contract based on how paving and drainage was done for a parking lot behind the casino. ".K & R's attorney, Sean Frampton -- whose father, Kent Frampton, owns the casino -- submitted a bill for litigation fees in August last year."

Navajo, Federal Officials Meet

 

As reported by the Arizona Journal: "Navajo Nation officials, including President Joe Shirley Jr., met with federal gaming officials in Albuquerque, N.M., last week to discuss the tribe's plan to build a casino near Sanders. The results of the meeting were not available by press time, but tribal officials indicated that a statement would be provided soon after the meeting. "Communications Director George Hardeen confirmed that the president still hopes to have the casino open by August. The exact location of the casino near Sanders has not been determined, though, and certain legal requirements, such as the public posting of gaming related documents, must be completed before construction can begin.

"Hardeen noted that a revenue-sharing plan is also still in the works. The local chapter is hopeful that it will share in the proceeds from the casino.

"In order to meet the August deadline, the tribe plans to use a 'sprung structure' which can be constructed very quickly."

Sun International Offer Deemed Unacceptable

 

As reported by Reuters: "Investment firm Real Africa Holdings Ltd. said on Wednesday a 2.2 million rand cash offer to acquire it by South Africa's top casino operator, Sun International, undervalued it and was unacceptable. "Sun said last month that it hoped to buy Real Africa at 5.90 rand per share, which represented a premium of 13.5 percent to the closing share price of 5.20 rand on March 27. "Sun has since then bought hundreds of thousands of shares in Real Africa in the open market.

".Real Africa said it was ready to discuss any proposal which will enhance shareholder value."

Millionaire Bets on Casino

 

As reported by the UK Evening Telegraph: "Millionaire businessman Rinaldo Fasulo showed his hand today - and revealed he is willing to stake £50 million on opening a glitzy casino. "Laying his cards on the table, Rinaldo, the former nightclub owner said he was hoping the city council would back a local man getting the gambling licence. "Mr Fasulo, whose Peterborough business interests include the Broadway entertainment complex, the Sessions House and Gaston restaurants, believes he would be on a winner, because a Peterborough casino would attract high rollers and tourists, who would pour millions into the local economy. "Peterborough City Council has applied to the Casino Advisory Panel for the right to have one of 16 new 'large' (1,500 sq m) casinos, which are set to be built under new gambling laws.

"Mr Fasulo has written to chief executive Gillian Beasley asking for her support, pointing out that he has already ploughed £25 million into city enterprises."

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Czech Republic Gambling Grows

 

As reported by the Prague Daily Monitor: "People spent a record CZK 50 billion on gambling machines last year, a growth of 4.5 percent year-on-year, and the number of the machines increased by 2,438 to a record 52,185, Finance Ministry spokeswoman Petra Krainova informed CTK in a press release today. "Gambling machine operators paid CZK 3.2 billion, in licence and other fees to the 2,500 municipalities where the machines are placed.

"Over CZK 500 million was contributed for public benefit projects…"

Sportsbook.com Posts 2007 NCAA Odds

 

Cinderella has left the ball, Reggie Bush has all but been drafted by the Texans and all the fans have gone home, but Sportsbook.com odds makers are ready for the madness to begin again! The world's largest online sportsbook and casino has posted early odds on who will win the 2007 NCAA basketball tournament and the BCS Championships.

"Everybody bets, and in America NCAA football and basketball are a bettors dream!" said says Alex Czajkowski, Sportsbook.com. "As soon as one season ends fans start betting on it all over again. This year we set records for volume of wagers and we expect that trend to continue again in 2007."

Billy Donovan's Gators have been at the big dance for the past five years but it took a sophomore forward, Joakim Noah, to lead the team to the title game. Odds for Florida to repeat in 2007 are 7-1. Florida was a team thought to be a year away from contending for the title. Well they won it in 2006 and may just be the team to beat again in 2007 - they'll be primed to do it again with Noah back on the roster.

North Carolina is tied with Florida at 7-1 to take the title, and after an early and unexpected exit this season the Tar Heels will be looking for redemption. This year's big story might be Ohio State. Thanks to David Stern and the NBA's new age limit requirement, the highest rated high school prospect since LeBron James is going to be lacing up his sneakers for the Buckeyes this season. With an explosive, young lineup headed by man-child Greg Oden, the Buckeyes sit at 8-1 to win the championship. If they do, they might not be the only Buckeye team celebrating this year.

On the gridiron, 2007 is shaping up to be a battle between Ohio State and Notre Dame. The Buckeyes outplayed the Fighting Irish 34-20 at the Fiesta Bowl last year and looking ahead the teams are projected to battle it out for the Championship. Ohio is listed at 5-1 and Notre Dame and Oklahoma at 6-1. If the Buckeyes do prevail in both sports, they will be the first school ever to capture both the basketball and football titles in the same season.

Pete Carroll has vowed that his Trojans are over their Rose Bowl loss and ready to work and stay on top. The storied program will likely rise again and are listed as 8-1 favorites. The defending champion Longhorns are a 12-1 bet.

Retiree Caught in a Legal Web Over his Gambling Patent

 

Mel Molnick is an unlikely adversary of the Internet gambling industry. He is not a foe of gambling. But the retired contractor has spent the last several years suing dozens of online casinos. Molnick, 63, claims to own a method patent that governs live, electronic betting from a remote location. In other words, the process by which just about every Internet gambling site does business.

"When I first got my patent, people said, 'You must be living in a spaceship. You're a crazy old man,' " said Molnick, whose long white beard and grandfatherly demeanor have a Santa Claus quality.

A method patent is a controversial and often litigated type of patent that covers a process rather than a particular product. Molnick's patent was filed with the U.S. Patent Office in 1995 and published in 1998. The patent has since been approved in other parts of the world, including Asia and Europe.

Molnick has been called a kook and an opportunist for making the bold - some say ridiculous - claim that he invented and patented the idea for Internet gambling. Others say his patent will have little legal weight in the United States because of the quirks of Internet commerce and the complexities of patent law.

Internet gambling was a fledgling enterprise in 1995, a shadow of the $12 billion-plus business it is now. Web casinos operating at that time were primitive versions of the sophisticated, well-advertised brands they are today.

Yet Molnick has had some success with his patent by reaching pretrial settlements with several Web casinos, according to court documents. Those that didn't settle have disappeared into cyberspace - although it's possible they simply popped up elsewhere under different names.

For years Molnick didn't command the respect he expected. If anything, he and his patent were largely ignored. Companies blew off the lawsuits or have paid token settlements, attorneys familiar with the cases say.

Molnick won't disclose the amount of the settlements, citing confidentiality agreements.

Recently, however, Internet gambling companies are taking notice. Molnick has managed to do what some legal experts thought couldn't be done - proceed with a federal lawsuit against the world's largest Web casino company.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court last year, named London-based Sportingbet Plc along with many other Internet gambling sites. In contrast with previous suits, several defendants were larger, more profitable companies and included publicly traded entities.

"I'm going after the big boys now," Molnick said. "These people have made billions off my patent, and now they're going to have to pay."

Last month, a federal judge in Las Vegas rejected Sportingbet's motion to dismiss the suit based on a lack of jurisdiction, saying there was enough evidence that Sportingbet does business in the United States. The ruling, however, merely allowed the case to proceed and did not delve into its merits.

A Sportingbet spokesman declined to comment and referred a call to the company's overseas attorney, who was unavailable for comment.

Patent experts say the ruling could potentially expose the business practices of an Internet gambling company that, like many others, makes a large chunk of its money off American gamblers.

Internet gambling in the United States has been declared illegal by the Justice Department, although there's been some disagreement in the courts as to whether certain Internet gambling games are illegal under federal law.

The pending court battle is new territory for Molnick.

Some Internet experts say Molnick will face an uphill battle against the Web gambling giants regardless of their murky legal status in the United States.

For one thing, they are based outside the United States - far from the Justice Department's reach.

Foreign companies that are sued often say they aren't subject to legal jurisdiction in the United States, even if they do business with Americans. Companies have also been known to ignore judgments from U.S. courts. If defendants don't show up in court, enforcing default judgments in other countries can be difficult at best, some attorneys say.

Molnick's attorney, Craig Marquiz, said foreign companies are still subject to international treaties that apply to patents.

Under those treaties U.S. companies would be able to collect judgments in foreign countries, Marquiz said.

Others are skeptical of Molnick's patent, which governs "a method by which a person may participate in a live casino game and place bets from a location remote from the casino at which the game is being played."

The patent further describes a table with a live dealer whose image is broadcast to players at their remote locations.

Molnick said the depiction of a live dealer is merely one example of how the patent could be used. But critics say Molnick is trying to broadly interpret a fairly narrow patent - one that applies to Web casinos that use real dealers.

Some of the first Internet casinos used Webcasts of real dealers as a way to get players comfortable with the idea of wagering their money online. But the practice is little used today, an age when many customers have grown accustomed to buying various products online.

Molnick's original lawsuits were against gambling sites that broadcast images of live dealers. But his latest suit targets sites that merely use electronic images of games in progress.

For Molnick to win his case, "he would have to show that every single step - the placing of the bet, the transmission of the bet, the involvement of the financial institution, the place where the live casino game is taking place - is in the United States," said Michael McCue, a patent attorney in Las Vegas who is not involved in the Molnick dispute.

Attorneys say that scenario would be highly unlikely, as most Internet gambling companies are based abroad along with the computer servers that process the bets.

Pennsylvania Lottery Players Win Trip

 

Ten Pennsylvania Lottery players who entered the Hold 'Em Poker instant game's second-chance drawing were randomly selected to receive a trip to a U.S. World Series of Poker Tournament, or its $20,000 cash value. The 10 contestants, out of 150,000 contest entries, will each receive a seat at a World Series of Poker tournament event (maximum of $10,000 buy-in), round-trip airfare for two, hotel accommodations for six nights/seven days at a first-class hotel selected by the Lottery, and $1,000 in spending money. Second-chance drawing winners may elect to take the $20,000 cash value of the prize package; winners under age 21 will automatically receive the cash prize.

The second-chance drawing winners are: Mary August, Scranton, Lackawanna County; Bradley Spencer, Titusville, Crawford County; Jim Kash, Pennsburg, Montgomery County; Stephen Krushinsky, Chambersburg, Franklin County; Elmer L. Weimer, James Creek (Markelsburg), Huntingdon County; William D. Stem, Fairfield, Adams County; Frances Rendulic, Belle Vernon, Washington County; Tom Deglmann, Camp Hill, Cumberland County; Dan Hradesky, Monroeville, Allegheny County; and, James Mossburg, McKeesport, Allegheny County.

The Pennsylvania Lottery's $100,000 Hold 'Em Poker is a $5 instant ticket with four $100,000 top prizes, four $50,000 prizes, and 12 World Series of Poker tournament prize packages still remaining in the game. To date, all winners of the Poker tournament prize have opted to take the $20,000 cash value of the prize package.

About the Pennsylvania Lottery: The Pennsylvania Lottery remains the only state lottery that designates all its proceeds to programs that benefit older residents. Since its inception 34 years ago, the Pennsylvania Lottery has contributed more than $15.5 billion to programs that include property tax and rent rebates; free and reduced-fare transit; the low-cost prescription drug programs PACE and PACENET; and the 52 Area Agencies on Aging, including 650 full- and part-time senior centers throughout the state. The Pennsylvania Lottery reminds its players to play responsibly.

Station Buys Back Shares

 

Station Casinos announced Tuesday it had repurchased $232 million of its common stock as part of an accelerated share buyback program that the company initiated in February. The announcement came a week before Station opens Red Rock Resort, its most ambitious resort project to date. In all, Station said it expects to buy back more than 10 percent of its outstanding common shares during 2006. Under the plan, Station Casinos will buy back between 7.1 million and 7.4 million shares at prices ranging between $75 and $86 a share. Previously, Station Casinos announced it had spent $230 million to buy back stock in February. After the repurchase, Station Casinos will have 63 million shares outstanding. "We continue to believe in the long-term strength of our business model," Station Casinos President Lorenzo Fertitta said, adding the stock repurchase wouldn't change the timetable for the company to develop new properties or complete any master-planned expansions. Stations Casinos is spending $1.25 billion on capital improvements, including the cost of the $925 million Red Rock Resort, which opens Tuesday. Three other company-run casinos, Green Valley Ranch Resort, Santa Fe Station and Fiesta Henderson, are receiving parking garage expansions. The company has already announced plans to start construction next year on the $450 million Aliante Station in North Las Vegas. Station is also looking at developing casino sites in Reno, at Durango Road and Interstate 215, and on the site of the recently imploded Castaways-Showboat. Station will tap its $2 billion revolving line of credit to finance the stock buyback. Station is using the same credit line to fund its expansion projects. The repurchased shares will be held by the company, but could be either reissued or retired. "We would rather own more of our own stock than any of the opportunities we have right now for capital," said Station Casinos Chief Financial Officer Glenn Christenson. "We are in a good position and we have flexibility in our capital structure which allows to both buy back stock and continue with our growth program." Wall Street gave its approval the announcement, which was made before the stock market opened Tuesday. Shares in Station Casinos shot up more than 3 percent when trading opened on the New York Stock Exchange. By the end of the day, shares in the company closed at $77.23, up $1 or 1.31 percent. Almost 1.2 million shares were traded. Gaming analysts said Station's buyback reflects the company's faith in Red Rock Resort's success. "We would view these significant share repurchases as a very bullish move by management," Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Marc Falcone said in a note to investors. In his comment to investors, Bear Sterns gaming analyst Joe Greff added: "We believe the repurchase activity speaks toward management's confidence in the soon to open Red Rock as we do not believe management would be active in repurchases if it were concerned about near-term operating trends in the Las Vegas locals market or the opening."

Boyd Gaming Acquires Building

 

Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Corp. has bought a four-story, 110,000-square-foot office building at Rainbow Sunset Pavilion, a 25-acre retail and office park on Rainbow Boulevard, one-half mile north of the Las Vegas Beltway. The price of the building was not disclosed. However, a recent report from Marcus & Millichap showed office space selling at more than $200 a square foot, which would put the price of the building at $22 million. You're in the neighborhood, said Chuck Coleman, president of Plise Cos. development group. Plise has started construction on a twin to the Boyd building and three-level parking garage at Rainbow Sunset Pavilion, master-planned for 450,000 square feet of office space and nearly 100,000 square feet of retail. An eight-story, Class A office building is planned between the four-story buildings with completion scheduled by the end of 2007. Gross lease rates at Rainbow Sunset Pavilion are $2.85 a square foot, a fair price compared with some of the office product in the southwest submarket that's going for $3 a foot, said Dean Kaufman, a Colliers International office broker. "This is an incredible environment here for legal, gaming, financial institutions," he said. "It's got great amenities, retail and dining tenants, and you can walk to those amenities. You've got a Starbucks out front, Chinese food, Italian food, banking on site." Blake Cumbers, Boyd's vice president of development, said the sale has closed and about 300 employees from Boyd's corporate office on Industrial Road behind the Stardust and other offices will move into the building soon. "We were looking for a new building because we're growing so rapidly. We started with the El Dorado in Henderson and we still own it," Cumbers said. "We've leased 60,000 square feet elsewhere for the development of Echelon Place."

In addition to Rainbow Sunset Pavilion, Plise is developing Centennial Corporate Center in the northwest valley and the 135-acre Sage Mountain mixed-use project west of Henderson Executive Airport. It will have more than 1 million square feet of office space, 500,000 square feet of retail and 2,500 residential units in a live-work environment, Coleman said. Infrastructure work at the site will probably start in about five months.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

UGXI.com Offers New Wagering Possibilities

 

The future of online gaming is now upon us with the launch of UGX1.com (Under Ground X-Change). The website is a breath of fresh air for the gambling public interested in skilled wagering for popular online home console video game tournaments. With the release of online video games, gamers have logged hundreds of thousands of playing hours and counting. UGX1 provides a place for the world's best gamers to meet and bet against one another for cash in head-to-head or tournament style competitions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This service was developed to give gamers a chance to improve game play and earn cash after every tournament, unlike LAN Tournaments, where only a few players reign as winners.

UGX1.com gamers play in the comfort of their own home, with fewer opponents, yielding greater statistical tournament results. Our members have real-time account adjustments and tournament ladders; they also set their own wager amounts, interact with other gamers in our chat rooms, and can easily set up potential four or eight person tournaments at their discretion.

"I usually play multiplayer games with my friends, and when I'm not working we play online tournaments. UGX1.com tournaments have brought Las Vegas to my home console controller," says Theo, a UGX1 member. With lightning quick payouts, the days of waiting weeks or months to receive tournament monies are extinct.

UGX1.com is revered as the supreme online gaming community, servicing adult video gamers across the globe. In a rapidly expanding gaming marketplace growing at a rate of 15% a year, video gamers are taking their skills to new levels, literally in their own hands, as tournaments have become an outlet for fierce competition.

UGX1.com honors Under Ground Gamers who now call UGX1.com home to all their skilled wagering needs. The time has come for Online Gamers to reap the rewards of their hard work, sleepless nights, sore hands and broken controllers. "It's not just for bragging rights anymore!"

Casinos Have Record Gain

 

As reported by the Reno Gazette-Journal: "Reno casinos reported $61.3 million in gambling revenue in February, nearly a 10 percent rise from February 2005. Despite the strong gain, the Las Vegas Strip has at least 24 casinos that each do a minimum $10 million more business than all the large casinos in Reno combined, according to the Gaming Control Board.

"Washoe County casinos hit a nine-month streak of revenue growth in February as casinos statewide posted a record for the month, the Gaming Control Board announced Monday.

"Washoe County casinos saw $84.4 million in gambling revenue, 8.7 percent more than February 2005, with both Reno and Sparks reporting near 10 percent gains, the board announced.

"...He said the strong Northern Nevada gambling revenue performance can be attributed to the market absorbing the effects of tribal gaming in Northern California..."

Melco Joins Equipment Business

 

As reported by the China Standard: "On the heels of a HK$6.98 billion deal to become a casino operator, Melco International Development announced it will also jump into the casino equipment business. "Hong Kong-listed Melco signed a 20-year agreement Tuesday with US gaming machine maker Shuffle Master under which Melco will take over distribution of the New York-listed firm's products in Asia. The two will also jointly open a research and development center in Macau to design Asia- geared gaming machines to be built in a new Melco factory in China.

"Melco officials declined to forecast revenue benefits from the alliance, but its chairman and chief executive Lawrence Ho Yau-lung said results from the distributorship will be immediate.

"Shuffle Master's flagship product line is card shuffling machines, but the company has been expanding into table game development, roulette chip sorters, slot machines and electronic table games.

"Shuffle Master chairman and chief executive Mark Yoseloff said Tuesday that checks with his existing customers turned up no reluctance to buy equipment from the prospective alliance, even though Melco is a competitor…"

Galaxy Shares Slump

 

As reported by the China Standard: "Galaxy Entertainment Group, a casino operator in Macau, said profit surged 43 times last year, but its shares slumped as earnings were well below analysts' forecasts and the company did not propose to pay any dividend. "Galaxy said net profit was HK$2.4 billion in 2005, compared to HK$55.9 million in 2004. The growth was purely the result of a HK$3.03 billion accounting gain related to the company's shift from a construction materials producer into a casino operator through the HK$18.4 billion reverse takeover last year.

"Its 2005 profit fell well short of the median estimate of HK$4.18 billion of analysts surveyed by IBES. Moreover, the company recorded revenue declines in both its original construction business and its new casino operations.

"Galaxy's board voted not to pay any dividend given the funding needs of its casino hotel projects in Macau. The company's shares fell 3.4 percent Tuesday to HK$7.15…"

Montreux to Replace the New Frontier

 

As other casino operators announce plans to redevelop their older properties, New Frontier owner Phil Ruffin hasn't had a lot to say about his long-awaited plans for his aging Strip hotel. Ruffin says he's not sitting on his hands. The name of his planned megaresort will be Montreux, after the Swiss resort with a famous annual jazz festival.

Ruffin says he is close to announcing a financing package.

"These things take time," Ruffin said. "It can take nine months to do an architectural plan and five months to come up with parking plans."

"I'm trying to do something nobody's ever done before, which is develop a resort without any help or partners. It's very hard to do," he said.

To capitalize on the resort's brand, Ruffin said he's also working on plans to bring the internationally known Montreux Jazz Festival to the new property, which is scheduled to break ground sometime next year and open by 2010.

The New Frontier would be closed and demolished before ground is broken on the Montreux.

The new hotel would have about 2,750 rooms, including about 750 suites, and cater to customers who patronize high-end properties such as the Mirage or Paris Las Vegas, Ruffin said.

Perhaps the most-talked about feature would be an "observation wheel" that would be positioned in front of the property and facing the Strip.

Ruffin said the wheel, tentatively called the "Las Vegas Eye," is modeled after the famed London Eye. It would enable tourists to take pictures of the Strip from slow-moving, temperature-controlled cabins that rise to more than 450 feet in the air.

The wheel was approved in February by the Clark County Commission along with plans for the new resort.

"I rode on the London Eye, and it was just packed with people," Ruffin said. "It should do very, very well in Las Vegas."

Ruffin wouldn't be the only Las Vegas resort owner to flirt with the idea of a giant Ferris wheel.

The owners of the now-closed Wet 'n Wild amusement park, the redevelopers of the Westward Ho site, the Rio and developers with a site next to the Aladdin have all pitched plans that included observation wheels.

To date, none has been started.

Bill Thompson, a professor of public administration at UNLV, said the observation wheel sounds like a "neat idea."

"It will be noticed. And I suppose if you're building something across from Steve Wynn, you've got to do something to stand out," Thompson said.

But the resort will also need a full complement of upscale restaurants and shopping to attract discriminating customers, he said.

While the Montreux name might not mean much to consumers, the resort could be a hit if it uses the association with the jazz festival to create a niche for jazz musicians and performances at the property, Thompson added.

"We don't really have a Strip casino that advertises good jazz music," he said.

Rising construction costs have pushed up the price tag for the resort to around $2 billion. The design is also more upscale than originally planned, Ruffin said.

Wall Street has awaited Ruffin's redevelopment impatiently, attributing his inaction to financing problems stemming in part from a desire to contribute relatively little in equity and a lack of management expertise.

Others reject that idea, saying Ruffin has plenty of money to finance the project and can hire resort management expertise.

He is one of America's richest businessmen but is known as a conservative investor. Forbes has estimated Ruffin's net worth about $1.3 billion.

Ruffin said business partner Donald Trump will not be involved in the resort.

Jack Wishna, a minority partner in the nearby Trump International hotel-condominium tower under construction, said Ruffin and Trump had discussed branding the redeveloped New Frontier as a Trump property, but that Ruffin has decided to put his own stamp on the resort instead.

"Donald would do it tomorrow," Wishna said. "But Phil doesn't need a financial partner and is creating, in essence, a legacy for his family."

Financing has never been a problem, although Ruffin previously was reluctant to put up other assets as equity to redevelop the New Frontier, Wishna said.

Now that the land underlying the New Frontier is worth much more than it was a few years ago, Ruffin can finance the project with a combination of equity from the value of the land as well as cash.

"Financing is not the problem," Wishna said. "The decision (to redevelop) rests with Phil Ruffin. He doesn't feel any pressure whatsoever from the market. He's not going to let the zealousness of development along Las Vegas Boulevard influence him."

Ruffin said he will likely sell some bonds to help finance the resort. Not counting the land for the two neighboring Trump towers, the 35-acre resort site could be worth at least $700 million, he said. That land, plus $150 million from the sale of a resort in the Bahamas and other cash on hand will allow him to finance a resort priced at $2 billion or more.

The 1,282-unit Trump tower, the biggest condo project under construction on the Strip, is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2008. The county has yet to approve plans for a second, identical tower.

Ruffin is a 50-50 partner with Trump in the first tower, which has nearly sold out.

Ramdin Wins $1.3 Million at Foxwoods Poker Classic

 

Having the most tournament experience at the final table of the April 9th Foxwoods Poker Classic No Limit Hold'Em Championship gave 38-year old Victor Ramdin enough of an edge to grab the title and $1.3 million prize. Ramdin had two top-25 finishes in 2005, placing 24th at the Bellagio World Poker Tour (WPT) World Poker Championships III and 23rd at the Commerce Casino L.A. Poker Classic, but outlasting 430 entrants at Foxwoods is the highlight of his self proclaimed semi-professional career.

It took Ramdin 19 heads-up hands against 21-year old Internet guru Alex Jacobs to finally find a winning hand. When the final river card hit the felt and Ramdin knew his A-J had won against Jacob's K-J, the Bronx, NY resident raised his hands in triumph and embraced the table.

"Oh my God I was stunned," a smiling Ramdin said about winning. "I was so focused on not seeing a King fall that it took me a minute to realize I'd won. When it hit me, all I could do was lay on the table and celebrate."

Ramdin donates most of his winnings to charity and this huge prize purse will be no exception. His donation to Guyana Watch will sponsor open-heart surgeries for five needy children in his native Guyana.

"I'm so happy for the children," Ramdin said. "The charity is really important to me and I've never had a chance to help out this much."

Final table play took more than six hours to complete as the six finalists from the four-day event squared off in the Grand Pequot Ballroom. The field was quickly narrowed to four as the table lost short-stacked participants Bruce Cater and John Russell in 18 hands. Another player didn't fall for 80 more hands.

Ed Jordan, who was the chip leader going into the final day, took control early, using his large chip stack to bully around the other players and build up a sizeable lead. In the early levels, both Ramdin and Jacobs were short stacked.

Then things changed.

Jacobs took a stand after Russell was knocked out, going all-in for the first time. He used this move dozens of times from that point on, scaring away raisers and picking up enough blinds and antes to make the final two.

His strategy was so effective, Jacobs didn't show down a hand until the 100th hand of play. When he finally showed his hole cards, he had top two pair, filled up on the turn, and knocked Jordan from the game.

Jordan placed third and received $417,520 for his effort.

The fourth place finisher was Larry Klur, a 64-year old crowd favorite who was playing in his second $10,000 tournament. Recently married, Klur plays mostly in his native Florida, but said after the tournament that this was his last tournament now that he has a wife on which to focus his attention. She was out of town for the weekend so Klur decided to give the major poker tournament a try.

Fourth place netted Klur $292,264.

When the tournament came down to the final two, the tension in the Grand Ballroom was thick. Ramdin and Jacobs both picked each other as the person they'd least like to play heads up. Neither player got their wish.

Jacobs continued his pressure tactics, moving all-in on nearly every hand, stealing the blinds and antes and building his chip lead.

After facing a dozen all-in moves from Jacobs, Ramdin found a hand to play when he looked down and saw pocket nines. He moved all-in and Jacobs quickly called with A-K suited. The race was on.

When the flop came 9-2-4, the crowd erupted and Ramdin knew he had doubled up through his opponent. The first signs of concern showed on Jacobs face after he lost that hand, but the youngster rebounded quickly after a few shouts of encouragement from supporters in the crowd.

Jacobs chose to go all-in two hands after losing the race to Ramdin. It proved to be the final hand of his amazing run, but after the tournament, WPT commentator Mike Sexton said he's sure the poker world will see Jacobs again.

Jacobs, an Internet phenom, majors in math and economics at Yale University and is just months from graduating. He is well known in the online world and had he won, he would have been the youngest WPT champion ever. He was just one flop away.

"What a player that kid is," Ramdin said. "I saw early in the tournament that he was going to be dangerous and man was I right."

Clearly disappointed at the result, Jacobs lingered around the final table for a few moments before finding his girlfriend and giving her a big hug. She told him how amazing he had played and for the first time all day, the serious and calculating young player cracked a smile. He is now $655,506 richer.

"I tried to play my best game," Jacobs told Sexton. "It didn't work out in the end, but second place is still pretty good."

During the money presentation just before heads-up play began, WPT announcer Linda Johnson asked Ramdin if this would be his biggest win. He quickly responded yes, and then changed his mind, telling Johnson his biggest win was when he met his wife.

After the tournament Sexton told Ramdin his wife proved to be his lucky charm. He smiled and agreed; hugging his wife and telling her he had finally done it. She nodded her approval and never stopped smiling at her husband.

Next up for Ramdin is the WPT World Championships on April 18th at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. In addition to his winnings, Ramdin gets an automatic $25,000 a fee entry at the Bellagio main event for a chance at over $2 million in first place money.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Chinese Police Crackdown on Soccer Gambling

 

As reported by Xinhua: "Chinese police will join sports authorities in a nationwide fight against soccer gambling which has beleaguered the country's professional league. "In a recent joint circular issued by the Ministry of Public Security and State General Administration of Sport, local police and sports officials are ordered to clamp down on various sports gambling activities, including online betting.

"…The campaign will focus on such activities as setting up gambling booths, inducing people to bet, fixing matches, and organizing on-line soccer gambling.

"Police and sports officials are asked to enhance Internet surveillance to root out any soccer gambling websites and cut off gambling chains…"

Hong Kong Betting Duty Reforms Approved

 

As reported by the Xinhua: "The Executive Council of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), hoping to combat rampant illegal gambling on horse races while maintaining stable revenue from betting, approved here on Friday proposals to reform horse race betting's duty system. "The Betting Duty (Amendment) Bill 2006 will be presented to the Legislative Council on April 26 for final approval before going into effect.

"According to the proposals, a single set of rates will progressively apply to gross profits with duty at 72.5 percent up to 11 billion HK dollars (US$142 million), increasing by half a percentage point for every 1 billion HK dollars up to 15 billion HK dollars, and at 75 percent for the amount exceeding 15 billion HK dollars.

"If the proposals were finally legalized, the betting duty will no longer be charged on betting turnover with the introduction of a single set of rates.

"…The club will be allowed to provide rebates to high-value bettors who lose money, to increase its competitiveness against illegal bookmakers while the regulatory regime of horse race betting will also be rationalized to bring it broadly in line with legal football betting and lotteries…"

Armed Man Robs Casino in Great Falls

 

As reported by the Associated Press: "Police in Great Falls are searching for a man who robbed a casino at gunpoint early yesterday. "It happened around 8:15 a-m. Police say a man walked into the Player's Casino with a handgun and demanded money from one of the workers. "The man fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.

"No one was injured..."

Vegas Boom Going Upscale

 

The Las Vegas building boom under way will usher in a slew of new luxury properties over the next five years, continuing a transformation from Middle America playground to the desert version of Southern California and Miami Beach resort enclaves. It is the biggest development binge in Las Vegas history, and it is based on something no one talks about: fearlessness. The prospect of adding 40,000 hotel and condominium units in other major cities would set off alarms about overbuilding.

While some anxiety exists in Las Vegas, particularly about the overhyped condo market, it has been overshadowed by a drumbeat of optimism from casino operators, analysts and even investors who say Las Vegas has proven skeptics of past growth spurts wrong and is even better prepared this time around.

The latest boom is based on a unique phenomenon in the hotel industry. Las Vegas builds upscale resorts, lots of them, and watches them sell out. It's a trend that goes back nearly two decades.

This time, as if to tempt fate, the new resorts and casinos will be so expensive that they will be out of the reach of many middle-income visitors who visit Las Vegas regularly. But investors and casino operators are confident that for every tourist priced out of the Strip, one or more new, higher-income visitors will come to replace them.

That expectation is rooted in a belief that a worldwide market exists of visitors with expensive tastes who have snubbed or overlooked Las Vegas in years past.

Now, they are a primary and growing target market for the new Las Vegas projects, which include some of the most expensive buildings in U.S. history.

"It's not a shift in the economy, it's in part a marketing shift," said Keith Schwer, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV. "We are marketing to different people," especially wealthier customers. "We have hit upon a responsive market and people are demanding it."

On the supply side of the equation, Las Vegas has reinvented itself in a dramatic way by building ever more luxurious and architecturally appealing resorts. That trend will continue in the next few years as Wynn Resorts Ltd. and Las Vegas Sands Corp. build even more upscale resorts than their existing Wynn and Venetian casinos.

Plans for MGM Mirage's $7 billion CityCenter - a collection of resorts and condominiums - have already wowed critics along with the project's group of renowned architects, who are known for designing iconic buildings in major cities around the world.

Boyd Gaming Corp.'s $4 billion Echelon Place will also feature distinctive elements, including the Las Vegas version of boutique hotels with roots in Los Angeles and Miami.

"In supplying new and creative things we've created demand for them," Schwer said.

While Schwer uses information such as population and housing sales to forecast the growth of the Las Vegas economy, tourism growth on the Strip is more difficult to predict using standard formulas.

"If I knew how long we could reinvent ourselves I'd have a much better idea how Las Vegas would be after I'm dead," he said.

There's more to marketing than the $82 million that the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority will spend on advertising for the year ended June 30 - more than any other city in the country and the combined budgets of top destinations such as Hawaii, Florida and New York.

It's also more than the explosion of television programs and reality shows that show Las Vegas at its most exciting, sexy and irreverent.

Casinos now have point-of-sale monitoring systems that can adjust everything from slot payouts to souvenir prices. They have growing customer lists and more sophisticated ways of tracking spending patterns as well as offering discounts to repeat customers. This information-gathering has become more advanced as casino companies have consolidated, creating more expensive tracking systems for larger customer lists.

Hotel yield management systems also have become more sophisticated in recent years, allowing operators to raise prices sharply on weekends when demand is high.

"There's no trial and error - this is a science," said Bill Carroll, an economics professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. "They study this day in and day out."

Hotels now analyze how customer segments respond to price increases, such as leisure travelers who book trips online versus those who book through a travel agent, Carroll said. They also are comparing their rates to other Strip properties, and to hotels in other resort cities.

Such technology allows hotels to arrive at a pretty accurate picture of what customers are willing to spend to come to Las Vegas.

"Casinos have found that customers are more tolerant of price increases than they were before," said Bill Eadington, director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at UNR.

Once tourists are here, Las Vegas is able to satisfy a strong desire by all ages to see and be seen, said Eadington, an economics professor.

"There's a long history in Las Vegas of conspicuous consumption, he said. "It's the kind of place where you can demonstrate your command over financial resources."

Las Vegas has become "the place to be, especially at the higher end," he said. "It's like skiing at St. Moritz and Louis Vuitton."

Many of these customers with a desire to spend are newer to Las Vegas. They include Baby Boomers with money to burn as well as young people of all incomes.

Skip Fortier, who oversees travel and vacation business for MacNair Travel American Express in Alexandria, Va., said many of his customers are businesspeople heading to Las Vegas for the first time.

And they're not thinking twice about the cost.

"Las Vegas is my No. 1 destination," Fortier said. "We're seeing people who would only stay at a Four Seasons property staying at the Wynn. They wish they would implode all the lower-end resorts and start bringing in more Wynn resorts."

Twenty-two percent of Las Vegas visitors had household incomes of $100,000 or more, up from only 13 percent in 2004, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority's 2005 visitor survey. It was the highest income bracket measured in the survey, released last week.

Gambling revenue alone rose 13 percent on the Strip last year. That was the largest increase since 1999 after the Strip added Bellagio, Paris, Venetian and Mandalay Bay - the largest number of hotel rooms built over the shortest period.

"There was a fundamental shift from lower to higher income customers," Schwer said. "They are coming here and spending more."

For the young crowd, Las Vegas' appeal is fueled by television shows, regular celebrity appearances and the age-old desire to show off in public.

Once shunned by casinos for their relatively small bankrolls, young customers are now opening their wallets in expensive nightclubs and lounges as well as playing table games, a pastime fueled in large part by televised poker.

They are a different breed from their parents and grandparents who remember Vegas as a gold mine for rock-bottom bargains. And these younger visitors will potentially grow into long-term, brand-conscious customers.

"People want to be big shots," said Michael Politz, editor of Las Vegas Food & Beverage Magazine. "They want to be high rollers. They save all year to buy a bottle at a nightclub in Vegas. They're spending their paychecks and they're happy to do it."

In some cases, higher prices themselves will create demand.

UNLV marketing expert Seyhmus Baloglu calls this phenomenon the "price-quality relationship."

"If you increase the price, the expectation is that you will get more quality," said Baloglu, associate dean for research at the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration. "The other side of the story is that you will get the quality you expected."

The casino industry welcomes the luxury trend. Wealthier customers are more profitable. Middle-income customers will still have a choice of several, more reasonably priced hotels - although the numbers of those on the Strip will decline. While occupancy rates have remained relatively steady in recent years, room prices have soared. Rates across the valley have risen 34 percent since 2002 to an average of $103.12. Strip rates, which aren't tracked by the LVCVA, are much higher. Last year, visitors spent 15 percent more on rooms, 5 percent more on shows and 10 percent more on shopping. Average gambling budgets rose 15 percent last year, according to the LVCVA. Yet for all the fearlessness behind the building boom, there are some cautions.

"These companies are making long-term bets on the continued strength of the economy and visitation in Las Vegas," said Brian McGill, a stock analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group. "I don't think anybody knows for! sure what the total capacity will be in 2010 and what the demand will be four to five years from now to support the increase in supply. We only know about a portion of the potential supply out there."

Marc Falcone, a stock analyst with Deutsche Bank, said Las Vegas has a "strong, proven track record" of filling additional hotel rooms to capacity and believes the market is still underserved. Las Vegas has the "highest occupancy of any major metro city in the world relative to its room base" even after adding some 60,000 or so rooms over the past 15 years, Falcone said.

For long-term forecasters such as Schwer, Las Vegas' track record - compared to business cycles of 100 years or more in other major cities - is a fairly short measuring stick. "It seems so unique because we've had such strong growth over a brief period of time," he said. "We're now an international city with international name recognition.

"Right now everything is going right, very right," he said. "We're in the right business at the right place at the right time."

UK Study Looks at Gambling Habits

 

As reported by the BBC News: "Gamblers will be put under the microscope in a study of betting habits by the University of Glasgow. "Researchers will talk to gamblers in casinos, betting shops, arcades and bingo halls, those who play the lottery and internet gamblers. "The three-year project announced on the weekend of the Grand National aims to find out the motivations for gambling.

"…Dr Reith will look at the socio-economic status, ethnicity, gender and education of regular as well as problem gamblers."

Riviera Merger Hits a Snag

 

As reported by the Denver Business Journal: "The largest shareholder of Riviera Holdings Corp. is refusing to back the company's merger plan. "The parent of Riviera Black Hawk Casino, Riviera Holdings of Las Vegas has agreed to be acquired through a merger with Riv Acquisition Holdings Inc., a concern of real estate developers and investors. Riv is to pay $17 a share and, under a separate deal, $15 a share for those held by Riviera's CEO.

"Over the past year, Riviera stock has traded between $12.59 and $26.83 a share but lately has settled into the $19 range.

"D.E. Shaw Laminar Portfolios LLC, a New York company and with 1.2 million shares the largest shareholder of Riviera, announced Monday it won't support the deal, saying the $17 figure 'drastically undervalues the company's assets.'…"

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Vegas Five-Tower Project Begins

 

Chet Nichols hears a lot of talk about the demand for high-rise luxury condos as second homes for people coming to Las Vegas. "How many people can really afford to buy a $750,000 home that they use six weeks out of the year? When someone does that, they're really investing," said Nichols, executive vice president of Las Vegas-based Amland Development.

Amland, in a partnership with international developer B.S.R. Group of Israel, is building One Las Vegas, five towers with 890 residential units planned for nearly 20 acres on Las Vegas Boulevard south of Windmill Lane.

Nichols said One Las Vegas caters to people who live or spend a considerable amount of time in Las Vegas and who understand condominium living and the values provided through economies of scale.

The $142 million first phase is under construction with grading, excavation and underground utility work at the site. J.E. Dunn Construction of Kansas City is the general contractor.

The master plan calls for five 18- to 21-story private residential towers, 200-room boutique hotel and 200-unit condo-hotel to be operated by the same company, a 20,000-square-foot health club and spa, two restaurants and retail services.

The condominium market in Las Vegas Valley has expanded to 62,600 potential residential units, local research firm Applied Analysis reported for the fourth quarter.

More than half of them, or 33,800, are planned for the Strip resort corridor, and 11,700 units are proposed for the suburban markets, 8,600 are downtown and 8,500 are on the South Strip, including One Las Vegas.

Jeremy Aguero, principal of Applied Analysis, said there is insufficient market demand to absorb all of the units in the development pipeline. He predicts that 35 percent to 40 percent of the projects will move forward by 2010.

Several projects have been canceled, including Krystal Sands, Aqua Blue and Liberty Tower. Others, such as Ivana Las Vegas, The Curve and Las Ramblas, have stalled or halted sales.

That's not an unusual circumstance in an emerging market such as Las Vegas, which has a relatively low ratio of condos to single-family homes compared with other resort destinations, Aguero said.

"We believe that of the 61,000 units either under construction or planned for future development, approximately 16,000 units have been sold or presold," he said. "That having been said, the pace of sales has started to show signs of softness as foot traffic at sales offices, unit reservations and the number of contracts are slowing."

Nichols said financing for One Las Vegas has been in place for weeks with Corus Bank of Chicago and roughly 50 percent of the first phase has been presold. The first two towers are slated for completion in December 2007. Units are selling for $550 a square foot on average, from the $400,000s for a one-bedroom, 850-square-foot unit to $1.8 million for a 2,850-square-foot penthouse.

"The difference between the Nasdaq bubble in the 1990s and the condo bubble here is demand is overstated by investors," Nichols said. "We don't cater to investors. Our true buyer is anyone who wants to shorten their commute and if you want to be amongst your own demographics. That's what got me into condos in the first place."

Amland built the midrise Park Avenue luxury condos off Las Vegas Boulevard at Agate Avenue and is doing high-end condos and custom homes at Prima in Lake Las Vegas.

B.S.R. Group has built 26 high-rise projects around the world, including the Toyota Tower in Tel Aviv and Waterfront Square in Philadelphia.

32Red Sponsors of Aston Villa

 

The UK facing online casino and poker operator, 32Red Plc ("32Red" or "the Company") has reached conditional agreement to be the new official club sponsor of Premiership football club Aston Villa. The two year sponsorship deal includes a logo on the home and away shirts and comes into effect for the 2006/2007 Premiership season. Under the terms of the agreement, 32Red will pay a basic six figure sum per season, with Aston Villa receiving additional revenues under its marketing affiliate arrangement with the Company.

Ed Ware, CEO of 32Red Plc, commented: "This partnership fits into our strategic marketing plans extremely well. Our presence at targeted sporting events including Premiership and Championship football matches and horse racing meetings has worked well for us to date. This deal will sit very well alongside those activities, as well as our existing online marketing programmes.

"Importantly, this sponsorship will also significantly enhance our brand recognition by bringing us television, national press and other media coverage in Britain and around the world. It is a measured but significant step forward for the 32Red brand. Aston Villa FC is one of the UK's biggest clubs and we are very pleased to be associated with them."

32Red Plc is based in Gibraltar and its shares are traded on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange. Their online casino has been awarded the title 'Best Online Casino' for the past three years by the industry's number one independent watchdog.

Penn National Execs Reveal Hollywood-Themed Casino Plans

 

As reported by the Chambersburg Public Opinion: "Executives from Penn National Race Course tried to sell state gaming regulators Thursday on their plans for a Hollywood-themed slots parlor at the Dauphin County racetrack. "Peter Carlino, chairman and CEO of Penn National Gaming Inc., told the state Gaming Control Board that a casino at the 34-year-old track would be 'an economic engine for the community and the state.'

"Besides Penn National representatives, 10 others testified at the 90-minute hearing at the auditorium of the State Museum in Harrisburg. The gaming board is conducting 18 days of hearings, which began Wednesday in Gettysburg, on 22 proposals for 14 slots licenses across the state…"

Diamond Jo Buys Gulf Course

 

As reported by the Albert Lea Tribune: "Diamond Jo Casino doubled down Thursday when paperwork came through for its purchase of the Arrowhead Golf Course here on the same day its new casino opened its doors seven miles west of Northwood, Iowa. "Carrie Tedore, director of public relations for Diamond Jo's locations in Northwood and Dubuque, Iowa, confirmed the purchase had gone through and said the golf course and other attractions with it were scheduled to open this fall.

"The total package cost the casino about $655,000 for the golf course and some adjacent land to the east, according to Freeborn County Recorder Kelly Callahan. The two Diamond Jo casinos are owned by Dubuque-based Peninsula Gaming.

"…The casino plans to remodel the current golf course and club house, said Emmons Mayor Paul Henschel. Plans for adjacent land include a hunting preserve and a skeet shooting range, he said…"

Everest Casino Launches Spring Tournament

 

Everest Casino has launched its April spring tournament, featuring its Faerie Tale video slot machine. Registration is free - all players need to do is enter coupon code FATE5 with any deposit and start playing any of the Faerie Tale machines - Faerie Tale 1, Faerie Tale 2, Faerie Tale 5, Faerie Tale 10 or Faerie Tale 25. Between April 4 and April 30, Everest Casino will track all eligible participants and tally the number of 4-of-a-kind Red Birds and 4-of-a-kind Butterflies they hit.

At the end of the month, on each Faerie Tale machine, the player with the most 4-of-a-kind Red Birds and 4-of-a-kind Butterflies added together will win:

Faerie Tale 1: $100

Faerie Tale 2: $200

Faerie Tale 5: $500

Faerie Tale 10: $1,000

Faerie Tale 25: $2,500

A second-chance sweepstakes will also award a bonus prize to a randomly selected player on each machine.

"Faerie Tale is one of our oldest and still most popular video slot machines," said Eduardo Santos, Everest Casino's Property Manager. "We think its rich 3-D graphics and out-of-the-box design continue to be a sensation with players."

The series of 15-line Faerie Tale machines features 5 independent progressive jackpots, making it the largest group of progressive jackpots for a single game at Everest Casino. On April 3, 2006, a player from France won a jackpot of $177,694.68 on Faerie Tale 25.

Everest Casino also offers other exciting video slot machines such as Space Ace, Eureka!, Cactus Jack, Jurassic Cash, Go for the GOLD!, Shopping Spree and Lucky Dragon Mahjong.

Ohio Casino Project Moves Forward

 

As reported by Canton Repository: "A casino resort project's future could rest with the voters. "The Eastern Shawnee tribe of Oklahoma and local businessman Steve DiPietro have proposed a casino resort development to city officials. "Council members voted 7-2 to show interest in the project Monday night but calls to have voters make the final say were expressed.

"Council President Glenn Gamber took the first step to a ballot issue Thursday. He obtained preliminary costs and other information on a ballot issue saying, 'We're getting our ducks lined up.'

"Voters have two ways to put an issue on an election ballot — initiative or referendum petition…"

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Miller Developments Aims for Glasgow Casino

 

As reported by the UK Herald: "Major property developer is hoping to steal a march on Glasgow's big three would-be super-casino operators by locating a new gambling and leisure complex in the centre of the city.

"The firm yesterday divulged details of their rival bid for the sole UK regional casino if Glasgow wins the licence from a field of 27 cities, towns and resorts throughout the UK.

"It would form part of a retail, hotel and leisure complex planned by the company for the east side of the St Enoch site, which is across the road from the existing St Enoch Centre.

"Miller Developments already has detailed planning permission for such a mixed-use project, using the site of what is currently the open-air King Street car park, and a member of the development team said that this consent could extend to a casino.

"…The project would be on a similar scale to the other bids, whose plans have been laid before the city council in detail – one at the SECC, another further along the river at the Glasgow Harbour development, and the third at Ibrox…"

Grand Casino Biloxi to Reopen in August

 

As reported by the Biloxi Sun Herald: "Grand Casino Biloxi opening by Aug. 17

"Harrah's Entertainment plans to spend $85 million to $90 million to reopen the Grand Casino Biloxi on or before Aug. 17.

"That's the word from Thomas E. O'Donnell, president of the Gulf Coast region for Harrah's, who appeared before the Biloxi Planning Commission on Thursday. However, he was tight-lipped about development plans for the property south of U.S. 90. The company has previously said the reopening is the first phase of Harrah's commitment to develop a 'world class' resort.

"…The casino will cover 21,245 square feet. There will also be two large restaurants, a big bar, a health spa and 500 hotel rooms…"

St. Louis Gambling Market Grows

 

As reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Without a doubt, the thirst for gambling is growing in the St. Louis area.

"Bets are up. Revenue is rising. And St. Louis is moving up on the list of the nation's top gambling markets. Slot parlors are under construction on the banks of the Mississippi River. Two existing casinos are planning major expansions; a third just finished one.

"The result: Heated competition for a fast-growing, but not limitless, pool of gambling dollars. That has some observers wondering whether all of these bets on expansion will result in a payoff.

"…'The competition is going to be pretty heavy for that local dollar,' said William Thompson, a public policy professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and author of several books on gambling.

"…The St. Louis gambling market has grown rapidly since the Alton Belle opened as the region's first casino in 1991.

"Today, the area has five casinos -- two in Illinois and three in Missouri -- and probably will exceed $1 billion in revenue for the first time this year. Local gambling revenue grew 13.1 percent to $959.6 million in 2005.

"The growth has surprised many experts who forecast a much smaller market than what has emerged.

"…They also cite the increasing popularity of gambling nationwide, a trend that will be further fueled by the retirement of millions of baby boomers.

"…Pinnacle plans to invest nearly $800 million to build new casinos in Lemay and downtown St. Louis over the next two years.

"In addition, Ameristar Casinos Inc. is building a $240 million, 400-room hotel at its casino in downtown St. Charles. The Casino Queen, a locally owned casino in East St. Louis, is spending more than $150 million to replace its aging riverboat with a barge in an inland moat. Harrah's Entertainment Inc., meanwhile, finished a $65 million expansion of its Maryland Heights casino in late 2004…"

PartyGaming Shares Rise

 

As reported by the UK Herald: "Shares in PartyGaming soared 10% yesterday as the prospect of a ban on internet gambling in the key market of the United States appeared to fade.

"The online poker specialist was the best-performing stock in the FTSE-100 following news that some legislators in Washington were opposing attempts to crack down on web-based betting.

"Bills introduced in Congress had proposed curbs on some forms of internet gambling and the use of credit cards to pay for online flutters.

"…However, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, proposed by Republican senator Bob Goodlatte came under fire from law-makers at a meeting of a subcommittee of the House of Representatives. Some Congressmen were concerned that the bill clamped down on some forms of betting while allowing others to continue.

"With no date set for a further hearing for the bill, sector watchers said the odds of it making it onto the statute book had lengthened, in a development that would be welcomed by the likes of PartyGaming…"

Deck Stacked Against Slots in Massachusetts

 

As reported by the Boston Herald: "House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi stacked the deck against slot machines by inserting three loyalists onto a key committee the day before it cast a crucial vote in the downfall of the gambling measure, lawmakers charge.

"On Monday, DiMasi added three of his lieutenants to the House Rules Committee. The next day, it opposed a bill allowing slots by an 8-4 vote, a majority that included the new members: Rep. John Rogers (D-Norwood), Rep. A. Stephen Tobin (D-Quincy) and Rep. Byron Rushing (D-Boston). Three committee members were also absent.

"…With a vote against slots secured in committee Tuesday, the full House voted on its recommendation, a parliamentary move that Jones said blocked any amendments from being made."

Slot Opponent Holds IGT Stock

 

As reported by the Columbus Dispatch: "Although he opposes potential November ballot initiatives to permit slot machines at Ohio's horse-racing tracks, Republican gubernatorial candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell holds stock in the world's leading maker of slot machines.

"Critics say Blackwell's investment in Reno, Nev.-based International Game Technology is inconsistent with his views on gambling because he could profit if the company ever puts slots in Ohio.

"Brian Rothenberg, spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party, said that as an owner of IGT stock, Blackwell 'stands to make a profit off something he says he's ideologically opposed to. How does he reconcile his conscience from his pocketbook? '

"Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo said that is not an issue because Blackwell opposes the expansion of state-sponsored gambling and 'there's no conflict, real or perceived.'

"…Even so, David P. Zanotti, president of the Ohio Roundtable, a Cleveland-area publicpolicy group, called Blackwell's position 'a raging inconsistency.'

"…The number of slot machines installed at casinos, riverboats and other venues in North America reached 829,000 last year, and IGT estimates it produced about 65 percent of those machines…"

Friday, April 07, 2006

Aces.com Odds Favor the Yankees

 

The New York Yankees home opener isn't until next week, but already Aces.com odds makers favor them to win the World Series in October. The Yankees couldn't manage more than a tie in their pre-season game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, but Alex Rodrigues' Grand Slam in Monday night's 13-2 win over the Oakland A's showed the Yanks have excellent pennant potential.

The Yankees are currently at 7-2 to win the October classic with the St. Louis Cardinals coming in close at 7-1. The reigning champs, the White Sox, are at 9-2.

"We're fine," New York Manager Joe Torre told ESPN.com after their disappointing pre-season performance. "We're ready to go. We don't need to work on anything or do anything. I have a sense that when the hitters start the season they will have a different mind-set. Everybody's had enough work."

"I personally like the Yankees," says Aces.com Manager Rene Quesada. "You either love the pin-stripes club or hate them, and I love them for sure. Not so much because of 'The Boss' Steinbrenner but because of Babe Ruth and Joltin' Joe Dimaggio and all the history there is in the team from the Bronx."

The Yankees home opener is next Tuesday against Kansas City. The Cardinals move in to the new Busch Stadium for their home opener on Monday. Odds on next week's games will be posted at Aces.com this weekend.

"We've got way more future bets and props betting options than any hotel in Las Vegas," adds Quesada.

-Aces.com has David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox and the Texas Rangers' Mark Teixeira each at 8-1 to score the most home runs this season.

-Odds on who will win the National and American League Pennants, who will take each division in each league, and which team will win the most regular season games, have also been posted.

-Every week, odds on who will have the most runs, hits and errors are listed.

About the only MLB prop not included in Aces.com's long list of betting options is whether or not the Florida Marlins will move to Las Vegas.

"Of course everyone at Aces.com would like to have an MLB team in Vegas," said Quesada, "It sounds like they may be close to a deal in Dade County, but they've been close before. When negotiations stalled in 2004, Vegas was only to happy to talk and we're still all ears."

GameAccount Appoints New CEO

 

GameAccount, the world's largest integrated network of skill-based P2P games, is pleased to announce the appointment of Kevin Dale as Chief Executive Officer with immediate effect. Kevin Dale succeeds John Jones, under whose management the company has grown into a market leader.

Kevin Dale brings to the company over 6 years of experience in the gaming industry. He has been involved at GameAccount as a non-executive Director to date, having previously been interim Managing Director at Betdirect. He was also Marketing Director at two of the industry's biggest success stories, Sportingbet plc and Betfair.com.

Kevin Dale will oversee the further aggressive expansion of the GameAccount skill games solution. Having witnessed the poker phenomenon and, first hand, the rise of person to person betting exchanges, he is keen to develop GameAccount as the next P2P goliath. GameAccount's strategy is to integrate high revenue generating P2P gaming products which are distributed via its many bookmaking partners and white label sites.

The GameAccount integrated network brings together players from dozens of sportsbook, casino & poker sites worldwide, making it the unrivalled market leader in the remote gaming space. Recently acquired partner licensees include Victor Chandler and Sky Bet, with more exciting partnerships to be announced in the first half of 2006. The service has also penetrated untapped international markets through cutting-edge multi-currency and multi-lingual features.

Commenting on the company's present and future, Mr. Dale said, "Each week, millions of dollars are won by high-staking players wagering within the network 24/7. Integrating our suite of Sit 'n' Go & knockout tournament games makes sense for operators searching for proven incremental rake-based revenues. Our single-wallet integrated P2P games service is proven to generate per-player value incremental to existing Poker services."

MGM Grand Detroit Design Revealed

 

As reported by the Detroit News: "The new permanent MGM Grand Detroit Casino under construction now will be 17-stories high designed in a somewhat art-deco style.

"In a rendering prepared by MGM-Mirage, the hotel/casino/entertainment complex appears to have a rounded tower on one end with art-deco accents and 5,000 car parking structure hidden from site by decorative architecture.

"Floors one through three will have 100,000 square-feet of casino space for slot machines, gaming tables and a poker room. The lower floors also will house at least five restaurants, various size meeting rooms and retail space.

"The upper 14 floors will have 400 hotel rooms…"

County May Appeal Casino's Trust Status

 

As reported by the Grand Forks Herald: "Mahnomen (Minn.) County board is considering an appeal against the Shooting Star Casino's recent approval for trust status.

"The federal recognition means the casino, owned by the White Earth Band of Ojibwe Indians, no longer has to pay property taxes.

"…With the expected budget shortfall, county board members have frozen capital assets and future hiring…"

Casino Meeting Becomes Shouting Match

 

As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer: "Former Philadelphia 76ers owner and local celebrity Pat Croce was not the city's favorite son Tuesday night - at least not at a community meeting about the TrumpStreet casino proposal in Northwest Philadelphia.

"The meeting - an ad hoc dress rehearsal for gaming hearings that begin Monday - opened with a shiny slide presentation by casino operators but quickly deteriorated into a shouting match between sign-waving proponents and opponents of the project.

"The volley of shouts among about 200 people reached a crescendo in the filled-to-capacity Mercy Vocational High School on Hunting Park Avenue during a video presentation in which Croce talked about the jobs that would be created by the casino he and Donald Trump want to build. The clapping and booing drowned out Croce and the video, which was shot at the former Budd industrial site where the casino has been proposed. The 17.5-acre plot where the casino would be built is at Henry and Roberts Avenues.

"…TrumpStreet chief executive Mark Juliano, a former Caesars Palace president and a Philadelphian, told the crowd that the casino would be 'much more than a gaming facility.'

"…Instead, he said, the casino would be a street-level promenade with three movie theaters and several restaurants, including a Chickie's & Pete's…"

Woman Wins $500,000 Slot Jackpot

 

As reported by the Stockton Record: "A Lodi woman received an unexpected anniversary gift Tuesday: $500,000. Carmelee Wolf was down to her last $2 playing the Millioni$er penny-slot machine and bet it all to win the half-million-dollar jackpot. Wolf said she and her husband go to Jackson Rancheria a couple of times a month and have won some smaller jackpots in the past.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

High Stakes Poker Deals in Season Two

 

The legends of poker are back on GSN, the network for games, for a second season of High Stakes Poker. Based on the series solid ratings performance, the network has ordered a new 16-episode season that will feature the same minimum buy-in requirement for all invited players -- $100,000 of their own money.

Joining High Stakes Poker again are some of the best players in the world including, Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreau and Sam Farha who each will risk hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions of dollars, to participate in television's only cash game series. Produced by Henry Orenstein's production company, HSOR, L.L.C., High Stakes Poker season two will be shot on location at the prestigious Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, April 10 and 11th.

"As the only poker cash game on television, this series lets fans learn how the poker legends play when risking huge amounts of their own money," said Rich Cronin, President and CEO of GSN. "High Stakes Poker has exceeded our expectations and we are looking forward to the second season for this exciting, one of a kind poker show."

Not only has High Stakes Poker received critical acclaim from the poker world, it has also delivered additional viewers to the network. High Stakes Poker has increased household ratings by 79% on Monday nights at 9 PM on GSN while doubling the Male 18-49 ratings and tripling the Male 25-54 ratings for the network.

The popular duo of co-host AJ Benza and actor turned poker player, Gabe Kaplan, will both return to call the second season of High Stakes Poker. The players, in addition to Brunson, Negreanu and Farha will be announced at a later date.

"Every week on Tuesday after the show, I get calls from my poker friends from all over the country telling me how much they enjoyed High Stakes Poker," said Henry Orenstein, Executive Producer and the inventor of the in-table camera for poker shows. They tell me that they love the show because this is real poker with real money and you can learn a lot from it."

Poker fans will find the finale of the original season of High Stakes Poker on Monday, April 10 at 10 PM ET. Daniel Negreanu attempts to recover his previous losses and Phil Hellmuth, who has also taken some bad beats in previous episodes, tries to walk away as a winner.

Also playing in this episode are Los Angeles Lakers owner, Jerry Buss, Jennifer Harman, Antonio Esfandiari, Johnny Chan, Barry Greenstein and Todd Brunson.

GSN, the Network for Games, is the only U.S. television network dedicated to game-related programming and interactive game playing. The network features game shows, reality series, documentaries and casino games. As the industry leader in interactivity, GSN features over 133 hours per week of interactive programming, which allows viewers a chance to win prizes by playing along with GSN's televised games via GSN.com. Reaching nearly 60 million Nielsen homes, GSN is distributed in the U.S. through all major cable systems and satellite providers. The network is jointly owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Media Corporation.

Bodog.com Makes Offer to NFL

 

Bodog Television, a division of the international digital entertainment giant Bodog.com, announced today that it has extended an offer to the National Football League to secure the exclusive Internet rights to the NFL's digital-content properties.

In a letter that was addressed to the NFL's Vice President for Media Strategy, Brian Rolapp, Bodog.com Founder and Chief Executive Officer Calvin Ayre stated that Bodog.com's powerful brand, combined with its web presence, would complement the NFL's ongoing initiatives to expose professional football across non-traditional mediums.

"Here is a solid opportunity to blend a traditional form of entertainment with the new world of digital entertainment," says Ayre, the recent cover subject of Forbes magazine's "Billionaires" issue. "For more than a decade, Bodog.com has been pioneering new and innovative ways to enhance the online experience, so it would seem natural that we build a partnership with one of America's most popular entertainment brands, and change the way football is viewed by millions."

Bodog.com -- whose current customer base consists of tech-savvy sports fans and pop-culture watchers, many of whom follow the NFL -- made the offer after hearing news that the NFL's Internet rights agreement expires in May 2006. The league is considering a new deal that is likely to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

"Bodog.com has seen the power of the Internet first hand," says Ayre. "Securing the rights to the NFL's digital content would be an extremely strategic business move, and would align with our long-term business objectives."

Bodog.com, recently valued at more than $1 billion, has gone to great lengths to become one of the most recognized brands in the digital entertainment space. From its annual marketing conference, which attracts sports notables such as this year's speaker Earvin "Magic" Johnson, to its international record label and self-produced television programs that air on major U.S. networks, Bodog.com has made an indelible impression on the entertainment world.

At 11 p.m. on April 15, 2006, the Bodog Television co-produced series Calvin Ayre Wild Card Poker will begin airing on a major US cable network.

EU Calls for Opening Up Sports Gambling

 

As reported by Xinhua: "The European Commission (EC) on Tuesday announced it would take legal action against several European Union (EU) countries on preventing foreign firms from entering sports gambling.

"In a press release, the EU's executive said it has decided to send official requests to Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden for information on national legislation restricting the supply of sport betting services.

"According to the EU rules, the above countries in question have two months to respond.

"'The (European) Commission has an obligation under the Treaties to ensure that Member States' legislation is fully compatible with EU law,' said EC Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy..."

Bally Technologies Game Approved

 

Bally Technologies, Inc. announced today that its innovative new multi-level progressive video slot game, Hot Shot Progressive, has received Nevada, Mississippi, Ontario, Michigan and Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) regulatory approvals and that contracted advance orders for this premium product have reached an all-time high for the Company's Gaming Operations division.

Bally also announced its advanced S9000 reel-spinning slot machine has received regulatory approval in Nevada, Mississippi, Michigan and by GLI, and that its new wide-screen CineVision(TM) video cabinet has received regulatory approval in Nevada, New Jersey, Mississippi, Michigan, Ontario and by GLI.

S9000 -- in a five-reel, multi-line, multi-coin configuration -- and CineVision installations are underway in multiple jurisdictions. More than 40 ALPHA OS(TM) video titles are approved in various jurisdictions for CineVision.

Hot Shot Progressive initially went live at Greektown Casino in Detroit prior to the end of 2005 and now has gone live at a variety of casinos in Las Vegas, California, New York and Connecticut.

"We are excited that Greektown Casino was the first in the country to have Bally's new Hot Shot game," said Jack McGinty, Vice President of Slots at Greektown. "It's a unique concept that is different from other multi-level progressives. Our players have certainly responded to the game and Hot Shot is yet another example of a game that makes our slot floor so exciting. They went live right before Christmas and we have been thrilled with their performance so far."

"Hot Shot is off to a very good start and I'm also pleased to report games on CineVision and S9000 are also performing very strongly in early placements," said Richard Haddrill, CEO of Bally Technologies. "Rarely in Bally's long history has a convergence of quality products been approved and deployed in such a short period of time and we're pleased that our customers are responding so enthusiastically."

With a history dating back to 1932, Las Vegas-based Bally Technologies designs, manufactures, operates and distributes advanced gaming devices, systems and technology solutions worldwide. Bally's product line includes reel-spinning slot machines, video slots, wide-area progressives and Class II, lottery and central determination games and platforms. As the world's No. 1 gaming systems company, Bally also offers an array of casino management, slot accounting, bonusing, cashless and table management solutions. The Company also owns and operates Rainbow Casino in Vicksburg, Miss.

Lakes Receives $2.6 Million Settlement

 

As reported by the St. Paul Business Journal: "Lakes Entertainment Inc. has received $2.6 million from the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas to settle a dispute over a casino deal in that state, the company said.

"The tribe hired Lakes Entertainment to help it improve the performance of the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino in Eagle Pass, Texas. The relationship was terminated in November.

"As part of the settlement, the tribe will pay $600,000 to Lakes Entertainment in exchange for land the company owns adjacent to the Texas casino…"

Delaware Slots Going Non-stop

 

As reported by the Delaware State News: "The slot machine facilities at Delaware's three horse tracks have begun operating virtually around the clock, taking advantage of a new state law aimed at keeping First State casinos competitive with operations in other states.

"'It seemed like the right time to expand the hours, given that we are beginning our peak season and the success we had with the longer weekend hours,' said Dover Downs CEO Denis McGlynn.

"…Delaware Park is bringing in 500 new machines this summer and Dover Downs and Harrington are working on expansion plans to house the machines…"

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Former Bahamas Official Dismisses Estimations

 

As reported by the Bahama Journal: "Calling estimations of money spent locally and abroad on games of chance "a shot in the dark" former FNM Cabinet Minister Zhivargo Laing, who is trained in economics, said any figures given cannot be trusted.

"Speaking with The Bahama Journal recently about the pros and cons of legalizing gambling in the Bahamas, Mr. Laing scoffed at the projections given by government officials that 60 percent of the Bahamian population is spending between $1.8 million to $2 million locally and abroad on games of chance each week.

"Chairman of the Gaming Board Kenyatta Gibson reported that The Florida Lottery conservatively estimates that $US100 million is spent every year by Bahamians playing the Florida Lottery.

"…Mr. Laing said these figures are not reliable and could be manipulated to support the position of the persons making the assertions…"

City Watch Means Safer Casinos

 

As reported by News West: "Local casinos now have an improved system to develop and implement emergency response plans as required by Nevada law.

"Utilizing a software database program known as City Watch, developed by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's Homeland Security Bureau, casinos, public utilities, public transit systems and ancillary businesses would be able to store their plans securely on the Internet.

"The law was enacted in 2003. It requires casinos and other properties that could be subject to a crisis situation to file emergency response plans with the state. The law, Nevada Revised Statutes 463.790, requires resorts to maintain the plans and was designed to let first responders know how individual properties would react in the event of a terrorist attack or other disaster.

"The Metro program was funded by a federal Homeland Security grant. Metro purchased software licenses for up to 250 properties in Clark County.

"...Homeland Security Bureau Sgt. Kim Veillon said if the Clark County program is successful, Gov. Kenny Guinn may implement it statewide..."

Horse Coalition Tries Again for Casino

 

As reported by the Louisville Courier-Journal: "A horse-industry group that spent about $1.4 million in an unsuccessful effort to bring casino gambling to Kentucky is expected to stick together for another attempt.

"Views vary about the job done by the group, the Kentucky Equine Education Project, said Steve Sexton, president of Churchill Downs and Ellis Park racetracks.

"…Leaders of other major tracks also said they plan to stay with KEEP.

"…After several expanded-gambling proposals to benefit racetracks died because the horse industry and other supporters couldn't come together, KEEP announced a plan last year for casinos at eight tracks.

"In this year's General Assembly, the horse-racing forces reached a compromise with Sen. David Boswell, D-Owensboro, who also supports off-track casinos.

"…Both Boswell and KEEP leaders said they plan to pursue another casino bill in next year's legislature -- even though the proposed constitutional amendment couldn't be on the ballot until 2008.

"KEEP leaders said they expect to start again with their position -- that casinos should be at tracks only -- but would be willing to compromise…"

Confusion Over Gaming Machines

 

As reported by the Rock Hill Herald: "When authorities seized 464 gaming machines from 13 York County business on March 2, they encouraged local machine owners to get rid of the remaining games they said were illegal.

"But a month later, police say their warning hasn't been heeded, and they're continuing to pick up machines.

"…But owners wouldn't buy the games if they thought they were illegal, said Jim Morton, owner of Morton Amusement in Rock Hill. It seems police one day will say a game is legal, but after owners purchase thousands of dollars worth of such machines, will change their minds, Morton said.

"…Since the March 2 raid, police have picked up 24 machines from seven businesses, Brown said. But unlike the machines seized in the initial raid, most of the ones police are now picking up are not for Internet sweepstakes, but systems called GTs, which are touch-screen, table-top games that allow players to put dollar bills into a machine and play games for payoffs.

"What makes the machines illegal, Brown said, is that they have games of chance on them, which violates state law.

"But Morton said that the state's gaming laws are vague and police are just bullying his industry.

"…What owners like Morton want is just the chance to know what games are legal and will remain legal. They also want the chance for the gaming industry to have it's day in court…"

Isle of Capri's Bid Hits Airwaves

 

As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "The battle for the Pittsburgh casino has hit the airwaves.

"Pittsburgh First, the nonprofit group championing Isle of Capri's bid for the city's slot machine license, began airing TV commercials last weekend highlighting key elements of the $1 billion plus proposal.

"The commercials were shown during Penguins' games on Fox Sports Network Pittsburgh. Radio ads touting the project also aired during the games.

"The Penguins are teaming with Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. in the bid for the state-issued slots license and both are mentioned throughout the 60-second spot. As part of its proposal, Isle of Capri is pledging $290 million to build a new arena.

"The TV and radio ads represent the first media salvos launched by Isle of Capri and the Penguins in the escalating battle with Forest City Enterprises over the slots license.

"…The Pittsburgh First ads, paid for by Isle of Capri, do not mention Forest City or the other applicant for the casino license, PITG Gaming LLC headed by Detroit businessman Don Barden…"

Muckleshoot Tribe Ready to Expand

 

As reported by the King County Journal: "The Muckleshoot Tribe has two construction projects under way at its casino property near Auburn geared to expanding already large tribal gaming revenues.

"A new Muckleshoot Bingo Hall is under construction on the Muckleshoot Reservation across the street from the Muckleshoot Casino at the site of the old mini-mall, which was torn down. It will replace the current bingo hall on the casino property.

"The new two-story bingo hall will be 65,000 square feet and will accommodate as many as 1,100 players, according to a tribal spokesman.

"…The other project is a new casino being built immediately adjacent to the front of the existing casino. It will be 42,000 square feet in size and will feature video slot machines, gaming tables, a deli, bar and other casino accouterments…"

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Orbis, Totesport Sign Deal

 

"Orbis, an NDS Group company and a provider of interactive gambling software, announces that it will provide leading British bookmaker Totesport with its OpenBet interactive gambling platform for the re-launch of its totesport.com web portal.

Orbis's OpenBet software platform is a complete gambling solution that enables customers to bet on all channels and all products from a single account, all controlled through a single back-office. Customers can place bets on a variety of products - a sportsbook, on-demand, scheduled and virtual games, P2P exchanges, lotteries or pari-mutuel pools - over almost any channel, including the web, mobile devices, retail outlets, call centers and interactive digital television, all from a single log-in.

"Under the agreement, Orbis will deploy a new sports betting site, call center application and fixed odds games, using its single account back- office solution.

"The Tote is one of the largest bookmakers in the UK, operating over 540 shops, and with a major presence on each of the 59 racecourses in Britain. The Tote offers multi-channel betting services, including Internet and telephone betting for global sports events and is the only pool betting operation on horse racing in Britain.

"Orbis further announced today that it will provide privately-owned Australian bookmaker Centrebe with the OpenBet platform, and deploy Centrebe's new sportsbook system and associated website. The new site will replace Centrebe's existing sports betting systems that were developed in-house.

"No value was disclosed for either of the agreements.

"NDS is part of the News Corp. (NYSE: NWS; ASX: NCP) group, controlled by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. NDS, which has a research and development center in Israel, acquired UK-based Orbis in December, 2000.

EverestPoker.com Launches European Tournament

 

Everestpoker.com, a site dedicated to the international poker playing community, announces the launch of the Everest Poker European Championship, a series of free roll live and online poker tournaments run locally throughout Europe open to all levels of players.

Since its inception, Everest Poker has taken an active role in the European poker community by creating the first online poker room to be fully localised in 11 languages with 24/7 customer support in 15 languages. Following the increase in popularity of live and online poker, and the success of Everest Poker's partnership with local European tournaments such as the German Poker Tour 2005 and the French Poker Tour 2005/2006, the site has decided to go a step further in bringing poker to the European community by organising a Europe-wide championship.

The Everest Poker European Championship (EPEC) will take place in 8 countries including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Holland, and Scandinavia from March to September 2006. The event will consist of a series of free poker tournaments both live and online and run locally throughout Europe. Through these events, 100 players will qualify to represent their country in a European Championship finale which will take place at the world famous Casino de Barcelona in Spain in September 2006.

"We have tailored the local events of the Everest Poker European Championship to the needs and poker level of each market", comments Ken Berman, European product manager for Everest Poker. "Everest Poker is dedicated to making poker a fun and easy to learn game, accessible to all. Our European championship is therefore open to all types of players and all skill levels, and we hope to demonstrate that poker popularity will increase through tournaments such as the EPEC that encourage all types of players to participate."

The winner of the Everest Poker European Championship will win a 50 000 euro prize pool. Winners from local free-roll events and online tournaments will receive a package worth 900 euros which will include a 500 euro buy-in and 400 euros for travel expenses to Barcelona.

The first leg of the EPEC started in Germany on the 3rd March and will run until 28th May 2006. In order to encourage a wider variety of players to participate in the local German events, Everest Poker has partnered with the German Poker Players Association (GPPA) which is the only German poker organization that has official licenses for organising poker tournaments in several German provinces and cities.

Tiger Woods 3/1 Favorite to Win Fifth Masters Title

 

When the 70th Masters tees off this week at Augusta National Golf Club, all eyes will be on Tiger Woods as he attempts to win his fifth green jacket. Only the third player in history to win four green jackets, a win this year will pull Woods within one of Jack Nicklaus' record six Masters titles. Already the only multiple winner on tour in 2006, PinnacleSports.com lists Tiger Woods as a 3/1 favorite to continue his mastery of Augusta National in this year's first major championship.

The largest sports betting site on the Internet, PinnacleSports.com has calculated odds on 75 golfers expected to participate in this year's Masters with Woods listed as an overwhelming favorite to win the tournament for the fifth time in 12 years. When making Tiger such a large favorite in the Masters, the odds makers at PinnacleSports.com took into consideration his current play, past performance at Augusta, ability to perform under pressure, public sentiment and statistics for the year among several other factors.

PinnacleSports.com lists 2004 Masters champ Phil Mickelson with the second-best odds to win this year's tournament at 13/2 odds after his historic 13-shot victory at last weekend's BellSouth Classic. Despite winning four majors between them, South Africans Ernie Els (9/1) and Retief Goosen (11/1) are still looking for their first green jackets. The oddsmakers at PinnacleSports.com have listed Vijay Singh, the 2000 Masters winner, at 13/1 to dethrone Tiger at this year's tournament. Other leading contenders at Augusta National this weekend include: Sergio Garcia (25/1), Luke Donald (28/1), Jim Furyk (30/1), Jose Maria Olazabal (30/1), and David Toms (35/1). PinnacleSports.com has installed 2003 champion Mike Weir at 40/1 along with last year's runner-up Chris DiMarco.

Current Odds:

*All Odds Subject To Change*

Odds To Win 2006 Masters (Favorites)

Tiger Woods 3/1

Phil Mickelson 13/2

Ernie Els 9/1

Retief Goosen 11/1

Vijay Singh 13/1

Sergio Garcia 25/1

Luke Donald 28/1

Jim Furyk 30/1

Jose Maria Olazabal 30/1

David Toms 35/1

Mike Weir 40/1

Chris DiMarco 40/1

Adam Scott 40/1

Davis Love III 40/1

Padraig Harrington 40/1

Darren Clarke 50/1

Henrik Stenson 50/1

Chad Campbell 70/1

For a complete list of odds, please visit www.pinnaclesports.com.

About PinnacleSports.com

PinnacleSports.com is the Internet's largest sports betting site serving customers in more than 80 countries worldwide. Founded in 1998, PinnacleSports.com was the first sports book to introduce reduced margin wagering, using a -105 pricing model that gives bettors up to 50% better value on wagers than traditional bookmakers. With low minimum bet requirements and the highest maximum limits on the Web, PinnacleSports.com has earned an industry leading reputation for providing consistent value to the player, professional customer service and the quickest payouts online. Fully licensed and regulated in Curacao, the company offers a secure environment for sports betting, racing and casino gaming.

CryptoLogic Releases Poker Software

 

CryptoLogic Inc. has announced the latest tournament enhancements to its Internet poker software released through WagerLogic Limited.

The new upgrade mainly addresses the tournament side of poker with the introduction of a new Super-Satellite feature. Their new software also features new high-speed Thunder Tournaments, which shortens the blinds, reduces player timers and promises fast-paced poker excitement.

Lewis Rose, CryptoLogic's President and CEO, said, 'For CryptoLogic, it's about delivering innovative and distinctive gaming concepts that meet the heart of the online gamer." He continued, 'Players are demanding speed, the thrill of 'land-based' tournaments and rewards for their loyalty.'

WagerLogic's new poker software enhancements can be found at top Internet poker sites, including williamhillpoker.com, interpoker.com, littlewoodspoker.com, ukbettingpoker.co.uk, betfairpoker.com, theritzclublondon.com, sunpoker.com, pokerplex.com, classicpoker.com and totalbetpoker.co.uk. 

Hughes Wasn't a Wacko, or Was He?

 

The late billionaire Howard Hughes, who once owned six casinos in Las Vegas, was known as a recluse, shunning any public contact in his declining years.

But Philip Hannifin, former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, recalls his face-to face meeting with Hughes on the top floor of a hotel in London about a year before Hughes' death, 30 years ago next Wednesday.

Hannifin and then-Gov. Mike O'Callaghan went on a secret mission to meet Hughes and try to dispel some of the rumors that swirled around the billionaire - he was unkempt, living in a drug-induced haze and not able to make a decision.

Hannifin said that wasn't the case in London on March 9, 1973.

"He was well barbered and manicured," Hannifin said, recalling that Hughes held a hearing aid the size of a deck of cards. "He was alert."

But Hughes wasn't dressed for a meeting - he was wearing a robe and slippers. "I found that kind of strange," Hannifin said.

In Hughes' life, that was mild.

After living atop the Desert Inn for nearly four years, Hughes suddenly left town on Nov. 5, 1970. Rumors flew - he had been kidnapped by his aides; he was dead.

A fight ensued over his empire and his frontman, Robert Maheu, was ousted. The new regime needed the blessing of the Gaming Commission.

But Hughes had never been before the state Gaming Commission. Maheu had represented Hughes, and the commission wouldn't approve any changes until the governor met Hughes.

"He (O'Callaghan) wanted to make sure that he, Hughes, wanted Bill Gay and Chester Davis to be in control (of the Nevada casinos.) O'Callaghan wanted to put an end to all the b.s.," Hannifin said.

The late O'Callaghan and Hannifin, now retired, flew to London for the meeting on the top floor of the Inn on the Park overlooking Hyde Park. Hannifin recalls they were in a large room with Gay and Davis and Hughes walked in by himself.

Hughes assured O'Callaghan that Gay and Davis were in charge. The governor planned to talk to the press when he returned to Nevada and told the recluse that.

"Hughes went ballistic," Hannifin said. "He (Hughes) believed he made a commitment" to phone three or four journalists first.

"They were yelling at each other like two old bulls in a pasture. Gay and Davis were fluttering around, and I started to giggle."

He said he believed this was the first time Davis, a New York lawyer, had ever seen Hughes. "Maheu never saw him," Hannifin said.

Maheu said he had the "damnedest relationship" with Hughes, communicating over the telephone and through notes and memos, but never meeting.

The only thing O'Callaghan would say on his return to Carson City was that Hughes had a "commanding personality." Despite reports of a fear of germs, there were no special precautions taken and Hughes shook hands both at the start and at the end of the meeting with both O'Callaghan and Hannifin.

When asked about the appearance of Hughes, O'Callaghan told a press conference, "This is a personal matter and I don't intend to discuss it."

But O'Callaghan said that when Hughes disagreed, "his voice raised."

Before O'Callaghan and Hannifin left, the trip was kept secret. Bob Stewart, O'Callaghan's press secretary, said he was told the governor was hunting in Southern Nevada.

Stewart said O'Callaghan, who after two terms became a Las Vegas Sun executive, never discussed the appearance of Hughes. "Mike was careful never to give a hint," he said.

In 1977, a year after Hughes died, Hannifin accepted an executive job with Hughes' casino company, Summa Corp. There he was told something that would only further the Hughes' myth: Aides spent two weeks cleaning up Hughes before that meeting in London.

Betting on a Regeneration Jackpot

 

As reported by the BBC: "Will a Scottish council win the super casino licence?

"A number of Scottish councils have decided to bid for the government's new super casino licence - gambling on winning it, bringing in tourists and getting cash for regeneration. But are the stakes too high?

"...Through its new Gambling Act the government has decided to test the public mood for more betting facilities and hopes that a new breed of casinos will bring a much needed boost to local economies.

"But critics fear these new casinos will lead to an increase in gambling addiction and other related social problems such as crime and marriage break-ups.

"They are also sceptical casinos would bring an economic boost to an area. Instead they think they won't bring new money in, just take existing business away from established firms.

"Three new types of casinos are to be allowed to operate in the UK. Initially there are licences for eight large casinos, eight small venues and one super, Las Vegas-style, casino.

"...From Moray to Dumfries and Galloway, councils across Scotland have decided to bid for these licences and win themselves a slice of the action.

"The most intense competition will be for the one super or regional casino licence. But all of these new types of casinos will be bigger than anything seen in the UK before.

"The government wants to test the social impact of these casinos to help it decide if more should be allowed.

"But it also wants them located in areas needing regeneration and it is this aspect of the process which is most attractive to councils.

"...They see being awarded a super casino licence as winning the regeneration jackpot..."

Monday, April 03, 2006

NLOP Launches Free Online Site

 

Responding to the increasing demand for online poker alternatives, The National League of Poker (NLOP) announced the formal launch of its completely free online poker portal NLOP.com. The announcement includes the launch of the NLOP Spring Series, a 6-week promotion that will award over $30,000 in cash and prizes including 6 seats to the 2006 World Series of Poker.

The NLOP poker contest is powered by Poker Creations, a leading provider of promotional poker tournaments and a wholly owned subsidiary of NLOP, Inc. The Poker Creations division will handle all game management and logistics. Poker Creations just completed operating a nationwide online promotion sponsored by Miller Beer. During the 8-week promotion over $100,000 in prizes were awarded in the Milwaukee's Best Light "Best Me" promotion.

According to a recent NY Times article over 65M Americans play Poker. In fact Poker has become America's #1 leisure game, with more participants than golf and tennis combined. But, the majority of online poker adoption has been through offshore or remote site operators like Party Poker, Poker Stars, and Paradise Poker, as domestically based online poker rooms would violate current US law.

"We feel there is huge audience of Americans looking for legal alternatives to offshore sites", explained Alan Miller founder of NLOP. "While offshore sites claim to offer 'free' poker, most also offer little to win. With NLOP, people can win huge prizes, and because we limit the amount of points they get to play with each day-the NLOP poker experience is more realistic than other free sites".

"Poker has exploded on TV", commented Miller, "but US advertisers and sponsors have not been able to connect with the online poker audience". "There has been substantial precedent set for media and brand properties to stay far away from these offshore operators, NLOP provides advertisers and sponsors the opportunity to connect with the burgeoning poker demographic in a US-legal and fun fashion".

Consumers can sign up and play at http://www.nlop.com and compete for seats at the World Series of Poker. One grand prize winner will receive a $10,000 seat at the 2006 World Series of Poker. Five other seats plus cash and prizes will also be awarded during the Spring Series promotion.

GoldenPalace.com Goes Into Eye of Storm

 

A whirlwind of media attention has surrounded online casino GoldenPalace.com for years due to their innovative and sometimes outrageous marketing campaigns, but their latest eBay purchase will literally put them in the eye of the storm.

The Antiguan-based online casino and poker room paid $10,000 to advertise on a Hummer H3 Storm Chase Vehicle belonging to The Multi-community Environmental Storm Observatory (M.E.S.O.), a professional environmental studies team.

"The $10,000.00 donation to M.E.S.O. will fund their research trip to the plains during the weeks of May 5th through May 21st. Also a large portion of the money will go to disaster relief for tornado and storm victims in the form of checks written to people at disaster scenes, as M.E.S.O. has done on past chases," according to Allan Detrich, the treasurer and Media Director of M.E.S.O.

"M.E.S.O. is grateful to GoldenPalace.com for their generous donation to our research group," says Detrich. "Donations are hard to come by in this day and age, but with the recent increase in severe storm activity in the United States, M.E.S.O., with the support of GoldenPalace.com, will be able to reach out to some of the victims of those horrible storms."

The Spring storm season traditionally brings severe weather across the United States, concentrated in what is known as "Tornado Alley," an area that includes Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska.

"This is a wonderful advertising opportunity as well as a great way to help the victims of these terrible storms," said GoldenPalace.com CEO Richard Rowe. "We commend M.E.S.O. and their Storm Chasers for their courageous and generous efforts to gather information about the storms and help the people whose lives have been devastated by them."

Setting the standard in marketing creativity, GoldenPalace.com has devised some of the most exciting and outrageous advertising campaigns in the past few years. 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. GoldenPalace.com has also used their items and marketing reach to raise awareness and over $1,000,000 for various charities worldwide.

VendingData Reports Results

 

VendingData(TM) Corporation (Amex: VNX) today reported financial results for its fiscal year and fourth quarter ended December 31, 2005. Gross revenues for the full year 2005 totaled $3.1 million, compared to $3.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2004. Sales declined as a result of the discontinuation of the SecureDrop(R) product line, disrupted sales of the PokerOne(TM) product line as a result of a patent lawsuit, and delays in the timing of the jurisdictional reviews of the RandomPlus(TM) shuffler and a delay in Deck Checker sales activity.

Gross revenues were further offset by sales returns and allowances which totaled $739,000 during 2005 due to contracts recorded in prior periods, primarily 2003, 2004, and early 2005, which allowed for product return at the customer's discretion. This type of sales contract was discontinued in Q2, 2005. Revenues by product line in 2005 consisted of shuffler sales of $1.3 million, shuffler rentals of $279,000, Deck Checker(TM) sales of $861,000, Deck Checker(TM) rentals of $241,000 and SecureDrop(R) sales of $130,000 and consumables of $279,000.

The Company reported a net loss for 2005 of $17.6 million or $1.03 per share compared to a net loss of $9.5 million or $0.55 per share in 2004. The increase in net loss was primarily due to a $3.1 million inventory write down, $2.2 million increase in general and administrative costs driven by legal and regulatory costs, a $640,000 increase in interest expense and a $739,000 revenue reversal for merchandise sales recognized during 2004 and returned during 2005.

VendingData's gross margin on revenue for the year ended December 31, 2005 was $(2.3) million, excluding the impact of the inventory write down of $3.1 million compared to the gross margin on revenue for the year ended December 31, 2004 of $(134,000). The decrease in gross margin net of the inventory write down reflected the additional costs of deploying complimentary version upgrades of the PokerOne(TM) product to those customers that purchased or leased version 1 and version 2 of this product, and the costs associated with the accelerated rollout of the RandomPlus. The manufacturing of products in China is expected to continue to reduce cost of sales on a per unit basis through the first half of 2006 as the company identifies more efficiency and optimizes vendors in China. These efforts should result in further improvements in the cost of manufacturing.

Selling, general and administrative expenses (SG&A) increased by $2.2 million or 31 percent over the prior year to $9.2 million in 2005, primarily due to $1.9 million increase in legal and regulatory costs due to defense of the patent lawsuits and legal/regulatory issues pertaining to former senior management, a $638,000 increase in payroll related to the expensing of stock options, and a $530,000 increase in consulting expenses related to the management change in March 2005. Additionally the Company had a $355,000 increase in depreciation related to the write off of leasehold improvements on the prior China manufacturing facility, a $133,000 increase in financial advisory costs, which were offset by a $1.1 million decrease in other expenses.

Interest expenses in 2005 increased by $640,000 to $1.6 million, reflecting the debt service related to the Company's previously outstanding 9% senior secured notes, the currently outstanding 10% senior secured convertible notes and the $5 million line of credit. Cash and equivalents on December 31, 2005 were approximately flat with year-end 2004 at $935,000. Accounts receivable (trade) was consistent with last year at $1.6 million. Inventories decreased by $3.1 million to $3.0 million at year-end 2005 due to the inventory write off of $3.1 million. Total liabilities increased by $11.0 million during the year to $19.5 million due to an increase in notes payable slightly offset by a reduction in current liabilities.

Revenues for the fourth quarter were $941,000, an increase of $443,000 from prior year's fourth quarter of $499,000 and compares to third quarter 2005 revenues of $319,000. The Company's revenue increased as a result of sales of our two new shuffler products, PokerOne(TM) and RandomPlus(TM) as well as increased DeckChecker activity. During the quarter, the sales returns and allowances were $428,000 due to contracts recorded in prior periods, primarily 2003, 2004 and early 2005 which allowed for product return at the customer's discretion. This type of sales contract was discontinued in Q2 2005.

The Company reported a net loss applicable to common stockholders of $5.8 million or $(0.34) per share for the fourth quarter of 2005 compared to a net loss of $2.8 million or $(0.16) for the fourth quarter 2004 and a loss of $5.9 million or $(0.35) per share for the third quarter 2005. VendingData's gross profit during the fourth quarter totaled ($2.6) million due to the additional costs of deploying complimentary version upgrades of the PokerOne(TM) product to those customers that purchased version 1 and version 2 of this product, and the costs associated with the rollout of the RandomPlus. The Company expects its gross margin to improve as it benefits from lower costs associated with the transfer of its manufacturing operations to its new facilities in China and as economies of scale are achieved through increased unit production.

The Company's SG&A for the fourth quarter decreased by approximately $188,000 over the prior year's fourth quarter to $1.9 million. The decrease primarily reflects savings in general office expenses and the initial impact of cost cutting initiatives.

Mark Newburg, Vending Data's president and CEO, commented, "Over the past few months we have focused on stabilizing the business, improving company accounting practices, and relocating the China-based manufacturing facility. We have achieved dramatic improvements in product quality, introduced a consistent upgrade cycle for the current product line, expanded the product line with leading-edge intellectual property and increased our addressable market, and made significant positive progress on two patent infringement suits. As of today, with working capital pressures relieved, this current quarter brings an even brighter picture. We have negotiated a very significant distribution agreement with one of the leading players in Macau as well as the rest of Asia, and are seeing very positive signs for revenue generation in the international market as well as continued growth domestically. While we more than doubled revenues sequentially during the fourth quarter off of a very small base, it our objective to continue that trend over the next several quarters and anticipate achieving a cash flow neutral to positive position during the year without further need of financing.

QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS AND RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

VendingData(TM) Corporation Enters Into Agreements For An $18 Million Private Placement Offering

On March 30, 2006, VendingData entered into agreements for an $18 million private placement consisting of $7 million 7% senior notes due March 31, 2011, a $6 million equity component consisting of 2.4 million common shares priced at $2.50, and an optional 5 year facility of $5 million which will be funded by common shares to be priced at a 20 percent discount to the price of VendingData(TM) stock on the day of the draw downs. VendingData(TM) Corporation intends to use the proceeds from the private placement to retire the company's current credit line, to pay off all of the company's senior secured debt and for general corporate purposes.

VendingData(TM) Corporation Signs Distribution Contract

February 2006, VendingData(TM) entered into a distribution agreement with a technology company based in Hong Kong and Macau. The distribution agreement has an initial three year term, with rollover provisions, and provides exclusive distribution rights for the VendingData(TM) high frequency RFID casino chip for certain Southeast Asia casino properties and non-exclusive distribution rights elsewhere in Asia. VendingData(TM) expects the relationship with the distributor to generate a minimum of $9 million dollars of retail sales of the RFID chip over the initial three-year term of the agreement.

VendingData(TM) acquired Dolphin Products' IP including global distribution rights to high frequency RFID-Enabled Casino Chip Technology

VendingData(TM) entered into a patent purchase agreement dated October 1, 2005 with Dolphin Products pursuant to which Dolphin Products agreed to sell VendingData(TM) its high frequency (13.56 MHz) RFID Chip within a Casino Chip technology and related patents in exchange for $750,000 in cash and 1,000,000 shares of VendingData(TM) common stock. On February 27, 2006, VendingData(TM) entered into a licensing and manufacturing agreement with Dolphin Products Pty Limited, of Melbourne, Australia. Pursuant to the agreement, Dolphin has received the exclusive rights to manufacture VendingData(TM)'s RFID chip product. The agreement has a term of 10 years.

VendingData(TM) Corporation's received Nevada Gaming Control Board and GLI approval for its next generation multi-deck shuffler, RandomPlus(TM)

During October 2005, VendingData(TM) received approval from Nevada Gaming Control Board and Gaming Laboratories International ("GLI") for its RandomPlus(TM) shuffler, the Company's next generation version of its multi-deck Random Ejection shuffler, in the following jurisdictions: California (tribal), Arizona (tribal), Washington (state & tribal, Indiana (state), Iowa (state & tribal), Minnesota (tribal), Missouri (state), and Wisconsin (tribal).

Restatement and inventory write down

On November 1, 2005, the VendingData(TM) management concluded, after consultation with the company's independent auditors, that a material charge was required for a write-down of obsolete inventory. As a result the Company has taken a charge for third quarter 2005 resulting from inventory obsolescence of approximately $2.7 million in order to write-down inventory consisting of first-generation Random Ejection Shuffler, which has been replaced by the next-generation RandomPlus(TM) Shuffler, and the SecureDrop(R) product line, which the Company has decided to discontinue. Inventories net of these write-downs during the period totaled $4.9 million. Total liabilities were approximately flat with the prior quarter at $17.3 million versus an increase of approximately $9 million over the prior year third quarter. The year over year increase in total liabilities reflects the issuance of $10 million of additional senior secured convertible notes in February 2005 and March 2005.

Current Shuffle Master Litigation status

PokerOne(TM) -- On December 28, 2005, the United States Court of Appeals granted its appeal and formally vacated an order previously obtained by Shuffle Master, Inc. to preliminarily enjoin VendingData(TM) from selling its PokerOne(TM) shuffling and dealing machine. The order was originally issued by the United States District Court, District of Nevada, on November 30, 2004. However, on March 4, 2005, VendingData(TM) convinced the Federal Circuit to stay the order pending appeal. The Federal Circuit's decision disposes of the injunction and opens the door for VendingData to seek damages from Shuffle Master for the period it was wrongfully enjoined.

On October 10, 2005, VendingData(TM) announced its new management team VendingData(TM) formally welcomed its new executive management team as well as three new members to its Board of Directors.

The Team:

Mark Newburg -- President and CEO of VendingData(TM)

Arnaldo Galassi -- Chief Financial officer

Peter Zee -- Vice President of Engineering and Manufacturing

Simon Herbert -- Vice President of Sales.

Tori Abajian -- Vice President of Operations

Michelle Glenn -- Vice President of Marketing.

General Paul Harvey -- Board of Directors (Chairman of the Compliance Committee)

Vincent DiVito -- Board of Directors (Chairman of the Audit Committee)

Robert Miodunski -- Board of Directors (Compliance and Audit Committees)

Jacobs Entertainment Reports Results

 

Jacobs Entertainment, Inc., an owner and operator of multiple gaming properties, today announced audited financial results for its fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2005.

Net revenues for the fourth quarter of 2005 were $65.6 million compared to $49 million in the fourth quarter in the previous year. Net income for the fourth quarter of 2005 was $2.3 million compared to a net loss of $901,000 in the same quarter in the previous year. EBITDA for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2005 was $11.2 million compared to $6.6 million for the fourth quarter of the prior year.

Net revenues for the year ended December 31, 2005 were approximately $234 million compared to $194 million for the year ended December 31, 2004. Net loss for the year ended December 31, 2005 was $4.7 million compared to net income of $3.9 million for the previous year. EBITDA for the year ended December 31, 2005 was approximately $29 million compared to $33.5 million for the prior year.

Jacobs Entertainment, Inc. will host a conference call to discuss its fourth quarter and year-end operating results. The conference call will be held at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, March 31, 2006, and will be hosted by Stephen R. Roark, President of Casino Operations and CFO for Jacobs Entertainment, Inc. (JEI) and Ian M. Stewart, President of Pari-Mutuel and Video Poker Operations, along with other members of the management team of various subsidiary companies of JEI.

To participate in the JEI conference call on Friday, March 31, 2006 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time, please dial (800) 289-0498 and give confirmation code #5978042. Please call 5-7 minutes before the call is to begin.

If you are unable to join the JEI conference call, you may access a replay of the call starting Friday, March 31, 2006 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. To access the replay, please dial (888) 203-1112 and reference the confirmation code #5978042. The replay will run until 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time, Friday, April 7, 2006.

Based in Golden, CO, Jacobs Entertainment is the owner and operator of the Lodge Casino at Black Hawk, the Gilpin Hotel Casino in Black Hawk, The Gold Dust West Casino in Reno, Nevada (the casino properties), Colonial Downs Racetrack, nine related off-track wagering facilities and eleven truck plaza video gaming facilities located in Louisiana and a share in the gaming revenues of an additional truck plaza located in Louisiana.

Our business and financial performance are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that might adversely affect our operating results in the future in a material way, such as the intensity of competition, our ability to meet debt obligations, regulatory compliance, taxation levels, effects of national and regional economic and market conditions, labor and marketing costs, success of our diversification plan and the successful integration of our operations.

WSOP Champ Wins Extreme Poker Challenge

 

Robert Varkonyi, the 2002 World Series of Poker Champion, is accustomed to keeping his cool under pressure, but today's InterPoker.com Extreme Poker Challenge forced him to heat things up in order to stay alive. In a dramatic come-from-behind victory, Varkonyi sent chills through his competitors Peter Larsson of Sweden, Ulrik Jensen of Denmark, Rene Christensen of Denmark, Daniel Stein of England and reigning Extreme Poker Champion and local favorite Juha Helppi of Finland.

Battling temperatures that reached minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 degrees Celsius), the Extreme Competitors were given the option of repurchasing lost chips in exchange for their coat, forcing them to play in only a T-Shirt. Within the first three hands, Internet qualifier Daniel Stein had not only stripped Varkonyi of his chip stack, but also forced him to peel off his protective layer of winter clothing in order to stay in the tournament. Varkonyi later resorted to running laps in between hands to maintain circulation and stave off frostbite.

Ultimately, only Varkonyi and Helppi remained in the tournament, with Varkonyi playing in just a T-Shirt, and Helppi securely wrapped in his Parka. Varkonyi drew 9/10 off suit, and Helppi held suited K/9 of clubs. The flop uncovered off suit 10/7 and a 3 of clubs, giving Varkonyi a pair of 10s and Helppi a flush Draw. Helppi pushed all of his chips in, and Varkonyi called his bet, his lips turning blue, and his body growing tired from his increasingly rapid jogging around the frost-covered table. The turn gave a 7, and the river another 10, leaving Varkonyi with a Frozen Full House to claim the Extreme Poker Title.

"Winning this title makes my suffering through the most excruciating cold I've ever experienced worth it, and I know this tournament will prepare me well for the 2006 World Series of Poker," said Varkonyi. "Juha really gave me a run for the title, and my hat and coat are off to him."

With this victory, Varkonyi will join Juha at the 2006 Extreme Poker Championship, to be held in a sunken ship off the coast of St. Kitts, as will top-placed InterPoker.com Internet qualifier Ulrik Jensen from Denmark.

"The tournament was absolutely stunning -- the players sat atop a seemingly endless ice shelf on the Arctic sea and played a frostbitten game of poker, as the frigid winds tore across the table," said InterPoker.com spokesperson Peter Marcus. "All of the players showed an amazing amount of concentration, skill and pure grit during this tournament -- especially our Internet qualifiers, who I anticipate will have very promising poker careers."

Despite losing the InterPoker.com Extreme Poker Title on his home turf, Helppi remained gracious in defeat. "Rob is a true champion, and he demonstrated today that he is willing to do whatever it takes to win, including removing his clothes in subzero temperatures and running in circles to fight off hypothermia," said Helppi. "I congratulate Rob his victory, and look forward to facing him in the next Extreme event to take back my title."

Internet qualifier Ulrik Jensen was excited to play against the pros at InterPoker.com's Arctic Freeze Out Tournament, but seemed to be more interested in the prospect of facing Varkonyi and Juha once more in St. Kitts. "My face, fingers and toes are all numb after sitting for 90 minutes in the frozen tundra -- and nothing sounds better than visiting a tropical paradise for a week of sun and poker."

At the close of the Finland event, InterPoker.com announced that every player who qualifies for the World Series of Poker through InterPoker.com WSOP satellite tournaments are automatically entered into qualifying round the upcoming July Extreme Poker event titled "Loser's Leap," to be held in 10,000 feet above the Las Vegas Desert. Players will compete in a plane, and will be forced to parachute out when they run out of chips.

German State Gaming Monopoly Unconstitutional

 

The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany declared the state monopoly on sports betting unconstitutional in its widely publicised ruling on March 28th 2006.

Operating the monopolistic "Oddset" without even minimal checks and balances to prevent addictive gaming was declared a violation of the constitutional right of freedom of occupation for aspiring sport betting bookmakers. The monopoly could be upheld only if measures to combat addictive gaming were introduced and enforced immediately. The ruling was very specific about appropriate measures. In essence, in the view of the Deutsche Buchmacher Verband (DBuV; German Bookmaking Association), Oddset's full compliance with these measures is only theoretically feasible but practically impossible.

Two broad scenarios for the future were outlined: One, German legislators come up with new regulation to liberalize sports betting. Two, the monopoly will be upheld and Oddset has to align its offering completely with the goal to prevent addictive gaming and abandon all fiscal interests. Betbull's Directors believe that due to overwhelming public demand for regulated and professionally run sports betting that the legislators will decide to liberalize the market.

The legislators were given a period until December 31st 2007 to provide the regulatory framework for sports betting in Germany. Until new regulation becomes effective current German law and rulings remain in force. In the view of the Verband Europaischer Wettunternehmer (VEWU; Association of European Betting Operators) this part of the ruling has caused some confusion, as it is not a "carte blanche" to close down betting shops and prosecute sport betting agents at will. Although the ruling states that specifically for the state of Bavaria sports betting operations may be shut down according to existing German law it also emphasizes that it takes no point of view on the compatibility with laws of the European Union. But, according to VEWU, the laws of the European Union are violated and the application of these laws takes precedent over the application of German law, meaning: should the authorities shut down betting shops on the basis of German law the operators can go against this action on the basis of the laws of the European Union. In essence, as the DBuV puts it: "After the ruling is before the ruling".

Suffice to mention that the Betbull-Group has only three shops in Bavaria and accepts bets from one agent. No actions have been taken against these shops as of March 29th. The ruling has no negative impact on the licensed horse racing business of the Betbull-Group.

In summary, the Directors and their advisors believe that the current laws of the European Union are material in the defence against rush actions by the authorities, in particular, when it comes down to keeping betting shops open or getting them reopened.

The Betbull-Group together with the various German and international bookmaking bodies of which it is an active member will rally massive support to convince the legislators of the need of liberalizing the sports betting market.

Gunter Schmid, CEO of Betbull: "After seven years of betting with Oddset, lacking even basic means of protection against addictive gaming, it is the bettors who deserve a fresh start, i.e., a liberalized and professionally operated sports betting offering. They will be the winners of this landmark ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany."

Betbull will publish its figures for the year 2005 as scheduled on March 31st 2006.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Choctaw Casino Durant Implements GSA Protocol

 

The crown jewel in the Choctaw Nation's collection of casinos, Choctaw Casino Durant, has joined an elite group of Class II operators in North America to implement the Gaming Standard Association's System-to-System (S2S) protocol. The protocol implementation went live last week and is interfacing systems from eight different vendors, allowing the casino to provide world-class service in a unified manner.

Choctaw Casino Durant is a Class II casino located 90 minutes North of Dallas/Fort Worth in Durant, Okla., and has more than 800 gaming devices. S2S is running event filters, voucher class, EGM registration and configuration.

Walt Eisele, VP Advanced Systems Development of Bally Technologies Inc. (NYSE: BYI) and the S2S Committee Chair for GSA, has worked extensively on developing the protocol. He said, "S2S is allowing Choctaw Casino to unify their gaming floor in terms of player tracking, TITO, accounting and others. Implementing S2S has solved a major business need for the Tribe."

S2S has brought a tremendous level of convenience to Choctaw's customers, enabling them to use TITO to go from machine to machine, as opposed to machine to cashier. S2S is also enhancing the casino's back-end by providing a more unified accounting system of machine performance across the overall slot floor. The protocol also enables truly unified player tracking.

GSA Chairman Lyle Bell and Senior VP of Information Technology for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, where S2S is also running on the gaming floor said, "From GSA's standpoint, we are thrilled that S2S is now successfully being implemented on multiple manufacturers systems. That is GSA's goal with each of our protocols, and we are very gratified to achieve this success."

S2S is a standardized communication protocol that enables casino operators to link various casino management systems together, and to easily connect them to hospitality and POS systems. S2S enables systems to share information in a more consistent manner, which allows operators to measure real-time patron activities across the entire property.

TV Host Earns World Poker Challenge Seat

 

Tom Schneider, host of Texas' first and only televised poker tournament series, TrueTexasPoker, outlasted a field of 589 players to earn a spot on the televised final table at the World Poker Challenge in Reno, NV.

"I believe that we are witnessing a star in the making," said Karridy Askenasy, TrueTexasPoker's Creator and Executive Producer. "I've always felt this way about Tom, which is why we selected him to host our show. That, and he's obviously one heck of a poker player. Sure, we're lending our star to another poker show in a sense, but we're very happy that he had this opportunity and was able to make such an impressive showing. Because our televised tournament is a totally free event, TrueTexasPoker and the players of Texas will certainly share in Tom's success. It just makes us that much better."

In a phone interview conducted the morning of the final table's taping, Tom Schneider explained his recent success by saying, "I've played some of the best poker of my life. I know people always say that, but I've really gotten into the zone. That, and I was berated for about two hours straight by last year's champion after beating him out of a hefty pot. I didn't respond, and instead used him as my inspiration. This should be a great thing for me and, of course, for TrueTexasPoker."

TrueTexasPoker is the first televised tournament series of its kind, allowing players to enter for free. This exciting endeavor is being energetically fueled by the Lone Star State's hundreds of thousands of dedicated poker players. Leading the pack is TrueTexasPoker's spokesperson and six time World Series of Poker Champion, Mr. T.J. Cloutier of Richardson, TX. Players may register to compete in this historic event by visiting TrueTexasPoker.com.

Tom Schneider has been a professional poker player for the last four years, finishing "in the money" four times at the World Series of Poker. Tom has recently joined the cast of TrueTexasPoker, as well as becoming the co- host of Beyond the Table, an internet radio show based on the business of poker. Tom's first book, "Oops! I won too much money - Winning wisdom from the boardroom to the poker table", from Brown Books, is now available at major book retailers. Tom currently lives in Phoenix, AZ with his wife and three daughters.

PinnacleSports.com Releases 2006 World Series Odds

 

This Sunday, the curtain rises on the 2006 Major League Baseball season with the boys of summer returning for the sport's 137th season. With the first pitch of the baseball season coming this weekend, PinnacleSports.com today announced updated odds to win the 2006 World Series.

The Internet's largest sports betting site, PinnacleSports.com originally opened wagering on the 2006 World Series immediately after the Chicago White Sox' clinching victory in October's Fall Classic. At that time, the New York Yankees opened as a 5/1 favorite to win their 27th World Series title, but after receiving the most support from bettors, the Yankees' championship odds have been cut to 3/1.

It appears that another Subway Series could be in the making, as the oddsmakers believe in the revamped New York Mets who are listed with the second-best World Series odds at 7/1. The reigning World Series Champion Chicago White Sox are currently 8/1 to repeat along with the St. Louis Cardinals, who hope to break-in New Busch Stadium with a World Championship. Other teams that could make a title run in October include: Oakland Athletics (13/1), Boston Red Sox (13/1), Atlanta Braves (15/1), Los Angeles Angels (18/1) and Toronto Blue Jays (18/1).

The odds on the Chicago Cubs ending the franchise's 98-year World Series drought are listed at 19/1, while the Cleveland Indians are 20/1 to win their first championship since 1948. PinnacleSports.com lists the Los Angeles Dodgers at 21/1 to capture the team's seventh World Series and the Barry Bonds-led San Francisco Giants are 26/1 to win the championship. While they may enter the season with the same record as every other team, the oddsmakers feel a number of franchises have little to no chance of winning the World Series. PinnacleSports.com lists championship odds of the Florida Marlins, Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Devil Rays as 200/1 underdogs, while the Kansas City Royals have been installed as the biggest long shots at 600/1.

In addition to offering betting on who will win the World Series, PinnacleSports.com also offers odds on each Major League team winning their League Pennant, as well as their respective Division. Bettors can also wager on a wide variety of player props and match-ups, including batting average, home runs, hits, stolen bases, strike outs and saves, among others. Additionally, PinnacleSports.com provides a unique Division "Superfecta," where players can strike it rich by predicting the correct order of the top four finishers in any division with odds of up to 2,000/1.

Wells-Gardner LCDS Receive Approval

 

Wells-Gardner Electronics Corporation (Amex: WGA) announced that their LCDs have been approved for use in IGT machines by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the Division of Gaming Enforcement in New Jersey and the leading independent third party regulatory agency, Gaming Laboratories International.

Wells-Gardner LCDs are approved for IGT machines in Nevada, New Jersey and the states of Arizona, California, Colorado (pending), Connecticut, Illinois (pending), Indiana, Iowa, Iowa (Native), Kansas, Kansas New, Louisiana Casino, Louisiana Indians, Louisiana Land, Michigan (Native), Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi (pending), Mississippi Indians, New Mexico (Native), New York (Seneca), New York (Oneida), North Carolina, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, South Dakota Gaming and Wisconsin

"We are delighted that our LCDs have been approved by these eminent gaming agencies and laboratories," said Anthony Spier, Wells Gardner's Chief Executive Officer. "This will allow us to sell our LCDs aggressively into IGT video installations in North America, which we estimate to be around 387,000 units. We expect these approvals to add annual sales of between $3 and $4 million with a gross margin of between $750,000 and $1 million. We are already having great success in selling our LCDs to replace CRT monitors in many IGT machines."

IGCA Exceeds Expectations

 

The International Gaming Conference & Expo (IGCE), slated for April 9th-11th in San Jose, Costa Rica, has announced that it has exceeded all of its early projections regarding attendees and exhibitors.

"With only one week to go before we gather in Costa Rica for our conference," indicated Chris Dauer, Director of Conferences for The Sports Network, organizer of the event, "there is no necessity for somewhat customary and industry accepted last-minute discounts or entreaties regarding attendees, exhibitors or speakers. We have a formidable lineup of speakers, experts within the industry on an international level, and exhibitors whose offerings are key to the success of anyone within the gaming industry. We are," he continued, "stressing the learning experience and the ability of attendees to network with their peers and vendors, not to mention the speakers, a critical ingredient of our success. Further, we chose a first-class venue because it is equally important that everyone be able to enjoy and relax when the speaking sessions are over and the exhibits have been closed for the day."

The IGCE conference program will kick off with Mark Mendel, the lead attorney for Antigua in the case against the U.S. in the WTO, debating renowned gaming law expert I. Nelson Rose, about what the ruling really means for the industry. "Although we will be covering a host of topics from payment solutions to marketing, skill games to technological advancements," added Melissa Kearns, Assistant Director for Conferences at TSN, "there is an obvious emphasis on the legal situation world-wide. Consequently, legal and regulatory issues in the U.S. and internationally take on an added significance and it is important to address new definitions of the legal morass which all must travel. That is why we have a panel that includes experts such as Joseph Kelly, Esq., Professor of Business Law / SUNY College at Buffalo; Eileen Petersen, Chair, Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission; Michael Lipton, Esq., Partner, Elkind, Lipton & Jacobs; and Dr. Carlos A. Fonseca Sarmiento, Partner, Chehade, Fonseca, Servat, Suarez, & Varela Abogados.

"Although there is quite a bit more, as can be seen from a visit to the conference site at igconference.com," Ms. Kearns continued, "we anticipate standing-room-only for our final session. When analyzing and examining the gaming industry today, and what the future holds, one should start with questioning and interacting with some of the preeminent participants, organizations that have helped to set the height of the bar. We called upon offshore and online gaming operations that were the first, and remain the leading, drivers of the interactive gaming industry. This session will examine the state of the industry from the perspective of some of its key spokespeople, moderated by one of the leading sports business journalists in the U.S. Panelists include Mickey Richardson, CEO / BetCRIS; David Carruthers, CEO / BETonSPORTS.com; Alex Czajowski, Marketing Director/Sportsbook.com; Bobby Goodoien, CIO/CTO / Tradewinds and moderated by Terry Lefton, Editor-at-Large / Sports Business Journal."

A spokesperson for The Sports Network, parent company of the IGCE, indicated that supplemental and complementary events, such as the kickboxing tournament slated for Costa Rica, will become a mainstay of every conference. Plans are already underway for a major poker tournament in Dublin, Ireland at the IGCE Europe scheduled for September 10-12 at Fitzpatrick Castle. He also added that there will be a concert featuring a well-known Las Vegas entertainer but that details will not be released until some time in July.

Another Day Added to Pennsylvania Hearings

 

Because of overwhelming public interest in gaming facilities proposed for the Philadelphia area, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will add a fourth day of hearings on the applications, Anne LaCour Neeb, Executive Director of the PGCB, said today.

The new date, which will be announced when details are complete, is in addition to the previously announced hearing dates of April 10-12, 2006.

The Board will gather public input on the five proposals for two standalone gaming licenses in the city of Philadelphia on April 10-12. It will gather input on the proposals for gaming licenses at horseracing tracks in Bucks County and Delaware County on the new hearing date.

"Public input is a critical part of the licensing process, and the Gaming Control Board is committed to ensuring that people across Pennsylvania have an opportunity for their views to become part of the permanent record the Board considers when deciding which proposals are approved for licensure," Neeb said.

"The Board received timely registrations from almost 1,100 individuals, community organizations, local governments and applicants statewide, including 216 for the Philadelphia-area proposals," she added. "To ensure an opportunity to be heard, we have added a fourth day of hearings in the region."

Registrants are being notified by mail of the hearing at which they will have an opportunity to testify, Neeb said. Those who cannot attend this hearing may submit written comments for inclusion in the evidentiary record that will have a weight equal to testimony presented in person. A copy of the comment-submission form and instructions for filing it are included in the mail notification to registrants.

People who submit written comments will have until June 2, 2006 to send their comments by mail to the Gaming Control Board for inclusion in the evidentiary record, Neeb said.

The mailing address for written comments is:

Office of the Clerk

Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board

PO Box 69060

Harrisburg, PA 17101

All other rules and procedures governing the hearings remain as originally announced, Neeb said. For further details, visit the Gaming Control Board's Web site, www.pgcb.state.pa.us, and click on the "Public Input Hearings" button.

Separately, the Board has added a third day of hearings on Lehigh Valley- area proposals.

Overall, there will now be 18 days of hearings scheduled for nine locations across the Commonwealth, Neeb added. The Gaming Control Board is considering 22 applications for the 14 gaming licenses authorized by Act 71 of 2004.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

No Clear Favorite for Final Four

 

In the most unpredictable NCAA basketball tournament ever, Americans are betting predictably, which is to say, they don't know which of the four teams to bet on to win the championship on Monday night. With upsets and Cinderella teams wreaking havoc throughout the tournament no clear favorite has emerged with bettors at Sportsbook.com.

Despite a record volume of wagers, very little separates the betting on the top three teams. UCLA has received 29.8 per cent of total wagers to date, followed by LSU at 28.5 per cent and Florida at 27.6 per cent. Even George Mason, the least regarded of the four, has garnered significant attention with 14.1 per cent of total wagers backing the Patriots.

"If this were a presidential race we'd be up until the early hours of the morning waiting to declare a winner," said Alex Czajkowski, Sportsbook.com. "What the trends show is that everybody has an opinion and everybody bets on March Madness."

Sportsbook.com has broken the betting trends down by state and at the moment UCLA and LSU have the backing from 16 states each, while Florida is the favorite in 12 states and George Mason is favored by bettors in six states. Sportsbook.com has created an electoral map of sorts and other than highlighting how close the race actually is, it brings to light some other interesting trends.

For example, of the nine states that are home to schools from the SEC, the conference represented in the Final Four by both Florida and LSU, eight are backing either the Gators or Tigers. Only bettors in Georgia are backing a non-conference school - UCLA. Does this mean hoops fans from the SEC have adopted their rival schools as their own? By contrast, Oregon, Washington and Arizona, states that house teams from the PAC 10, are decidedly against UCLA. In fact, each team is backing a different school with Oregon betting on George Mason, Washington betting on LSU and Arizona betting on Florida. Perhaps this shows a deep resentment toward the big bad Bruins by basketball fans in that region. Of the six states backing George Mason's improbable run, the most significant in terms of population and dollars wagered is Michigan. Perhaps the Patriots made believers of fans in Michigan with their first round upset of Michigan State.

What doesn't seem to matter with bettors is whether they are Republicans or Democrats. LSU is backed equally by fans in states that voted Republican and Democrat in the last election. UCLA is favored slightly by Republican states 10-6 while George Mason is favored slightly by Democrat states by a 4-2 margin. The only significant blip in this trend comes with regards to Florida, a key battleground state in each of the last two elections. Of the 12 states where the Gators are receiving majority backing 11 of them voted Republican in 2004.

Slot Game Makers Bet on Technology

 

Slot machines based on "Wheel of Fortune" and "Men in Black" are apparently going to be around for awhile.

A recent survey of slot floor managers by a Wall Street investment house shows casinos are reluctant to replace and update gaming machines that aren't more than a few years old.

Still, enhanced gambling technology could turn around equipment manufacturers' slumping sales revenue -- but that isn't going to happen this year.

Slot companies are developing downloadable gaming technology where slot supervisors would be able change the game content on a bank of machines with a few clicks of a computer mouse. The concept has piqued the interests of those who make decisions on whether to buy new games.

Still, most manufacturing representatives and casino executives don't expect to see the downloadable products on casino floors until 2007 or 2008.

That respective opinion led analyst Steven Kent of Goldman Sachs to offer a cautious view of the gaming equipment manufacturing sector to customers of the New York-based financial firm, which sponsored the sixth annual survey.

"We have lowered expectations and we remain concerned that investors will continue to be disappointed," Kent said on a recent conference call with investors in which the survey's findings were discussed.

An independent company interviewed slot floor managers at 151 casinos in 27 states on their view of industry trends and how their purchase of slot machines might be effected over the next few years. The survey represented 15 percent of the nation's slot market.

The survey found that slot games built by industry leader International Game Technology were losing space on casino slot floors to products from competitors. Meanwhile, Australian-based Aristocrat Technologies had solidified its standing the industry's No. 2 manufacturer.

Kent is considered by some company representatives to be one of the gaming analysts most critical of the industry. On the conference, call it was suggested that Goldman Sachs customers look at hotel and hospitality industry stocks for a better return on investment.

"Steve has always been pretty bearish on the manufacturing sector," said Patrick Cavanaugh, executive director of investor relations for IGT.

Most of the nation's major casinos spent the early part of the decade replacing their older slot machines with ticket in-ticket out games, which offered technology advances that eliminated cash payouts. The technology allowed machines to offer multiple denominations and multiple game titles.

The revolution led to enhanced sales revenue and increased earnings per share by slot makers during that time period. Many industry insiders believe that downloadable gaming, sometimes referred to as server-based gaming, will have a similar effect.

"Interest levels are high for downloadable gaming, (but) the timing and economics are largely unclear to slot operators," Kent said.

While it is still being debated what costs the casinos will face to implement downloadable systems, 59 percent of the operators surveyed said they would be willing to allocate up to 25 percent of their casino floor to the proposed systems.

"This is important because we think there is a misperception that downloadable gaming will create a full-scale replacement cycle, such that the 800,000 slot machines in the United States would have to be replaced, which is what cashless technology basically did," Kent said. "Most operators are not thinking about downloadable as being nearly the replacement opportunity as cashless. It remains unclear whether downloadable will go beyond just video machines and also be applicable to video poker and spinning reel."

Major slot machine companies are developing downloadable gaming concepts. IGT is testing its server-based gaming system at the Barona Valley Ranch casino near San Diego, a process that could take the rest of the year.

Cavanaugh said the idea that slot managers this early in the process would designate 25 percent of their floors for downloadable gaming was a big positive. When ticket in-ticket out technology was unveiled, casinos initially balked at the concept.

"Steve actually did us a favor in the survey," Cavanaugh said. "The technology is still being proven, but that figure shows a lot of interest in the concept."

Aristocrat President Gavin Isaacs said the company's downloadable games product could be in the testing stages inside casinos this year.

"The challenge to produce a product that wins over the players and brings them along," Isaacs said. "We need to make sure that what we do doesn't disrupt our recent accomplishments."

With several years of use to evaluate ticket in-ticket out machines, Kent said slot managers surveyed had varied opinions of the games produced by the different equipment providers.

Reno-based IGT has lost some of its dominant casino foothold to companies such as Aristocrat and WMS Industries. Aristocrat, which suffered heavy losses earlier in the decade when it entered the American gaming market, has righted the ship and flourished in the past few years. Kent said the company, whose stock is traded publicly on the Australian Exchange, has clearly risen above its American-based competition.

"It was nice to get that third-party affirmation and it was great to see it in writing," Isaacs said. "To be fair, we were aware in talking with our customers that our products have been well received."

Chicago-based WMS has improved its standing, but only slightly, according to the survey. The company had been behind others in bringing its cashless systems to the casino market.

Bally Technologies, which was recently renamed from Alliance Gaming, has spent almost two years in the doldrums and trying to recover lost sales with new products, only to see its popularity with slot floor managers continue to deteriorate, according to Kent.

"This year's survey showed that competition in the slot market is as competitive as it has ever been," Kent said. "This is a major concern considering the lack of new sales opportunities in the market over the next one to two years."

Cavanaugh said the survey didn't offer too many revelations for IGT. The company conducts its own annual slot census to determine what products are popular with casino customers.

The increased competition has had an effect on every company in the industry.

"At one time or another, everyone has run into trouble," Cavanaugh said. "We're very focused and on track on where we stand with our products."

While IGT is still considered by slot floor managers as having the best and broadest range of games in the slot industry, Aristocrat was complimented for a progressive machine that offers video spinning reels, multiple jackpots and low denominations.

"This game has created a whirlwind of demand for Aristocrat products that does not appear to have peaked," Kent said.

Billions Urged for Casinos in Singapore

 

Singapore's first casino could become one of the most expensive gaming projects ever constructed, based on statements released Thursday by two of the four companies competing to build a resort complex on a 50-acre waterfront location near the financial district.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. said it would invest $3.6 billion to build the Marina Bay Sands and would have the project open by 2009. Meanwhile, Malaysia-based Genting International PLC, which is bidding on the project with Star Cruises Ltd., said the consortium would spend $3.1 billion to build Singapore Entertainment & Events Destination, or SEED.

Neither MGM Mirage nor Harrah's Entertainment would divulge the prices of their hotel-casino proposals. All four bids were submitted to the Singapore government Wednesday.

The government is expected to award the project at the Marina Bayfront, one of two planned gaming destinations in Singapore, by early summer.

Wynn Las Vegas, at $2.7 billion, is considered the most expensive gaming complex ever built. MGM Mirage's evolving Project CityCenter on the Strip has a $7 billion price, but the plans include high-rise condominiums. Boyd Gaming Corp. announced in January it would replace the aging Stardust with the $4 billion Echelon Place, which would include four hotels encompassing 5,300 rooms.

Factored into the Singapore proposals was the cost for the marina district site, valued at more than $700 million.

John Knott, senior vice president of the CB Richard Ellis Global Gaming Group in Las Vegas, which worked with the Singapore government to establish a price for the now- vacant parcel, thought the proposed costs took into account the desires of Singapore tourism officials who are seeking more than just the average hotel-casino.

"The site is magnificent, as good as there is in the world," Knott said. "It's in the heart of a very modern city. I think the projects being proposed are consistent with what the specific objective the Singapore government had hoped to achieve."

Las Vegas Sands, which operates The Venetian, said its Singapore project would include 2,500 hotel rooms and 1.2 million square feet of space for meetings, conventions and exhibitions. The resort would also have 1 million square feet of retail shops, three entertainment venues and a museum. The casino would include the company's high-end gaming salon.

In a statement, Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson said the project would be aligned with the needs of the Singapore business community.

"As a catalyst for the economic future of Singapore and a launch pad for its tourism industry, the Marina Bay Sands will help Singapore solidify its standing among the world's greatest destinations," Adelson said.

Las Vegas Sands President Bill Weidner said the company, which operates the Sands Macau in China and is building the $2 billion Venetian Macau, already has a strong presence in Asia, which it views as a positive for its prospects in Singapore.

"With an extensive existing footprint in China, one of Asia's primary vehicles for economic growth and the largest source of tourism growth for the foreseeable future, Las Vegas Sands will be able to attract tourists to Singapore by leveraging our extensive global customer base," Weidner said.

In the Genting proposal, the project would include 5,000 rooms and a large convention facility.

MGM Mirage, which has partnered with CapitaLand Ltd. of Singapore, has said little about its proposal, other than announcing an architect and plans for a permanent Cirque du Soliel show.

"We've taken a position of maintaining a confidentiality on the project out of respect for the Singapore government," MGM Mirage spokesman Gordon Absher said.

Harrah's, which has teamed with Keppel Land Ltd. of Singapore, has announced several aspects of its proposal for Caesars Singapore, including an agreement with Asia's leading media and entertainment company, and plans for iPort, a 16-story, 1 million-square-foot entertainment complex in which Academy Award-winning director James Cameron will serve as executive producer.

"We've never publicly disclosed the budget for Marina Bay Caesars Singapore," Harrah's spokesman Alberto Lopez said. "We will disclose it to the Singapore Tourism Board but it will be covered by a confidentially agreement."

Company representatives are expected to be in Singapore next week to meet with government officials on the proposals.

Gaming analysts have been somewhat reluctant to handicap the competition.

"We believe the relationship with a local partner could be a particularly important factor in the decision," Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Marc Falcone said.

"Overall, we believe that the Marina location will be highly contested battle and to pick a winner would be quite difficult at this point," he said. "Singapore could announce a decision as early as June."

Blue Square Re-launches Website

 

March 29th 2006 saw the re-launch of Bluesq.com. The re-branding exercise coincided with a complete overhaul of functionality and was as a direct response to customer feedback and future gaming requirements of the brand. The new-look modern site has evolved over time and now firmly places the customer and their requirements at its heart.

From the moment a user logs onto the site they are presented with clean and simple graphics that allows for faster bet placement. The new promotions page also allows the customer to see what the best promotions are depending on which sport or game they are interested in.

Blue Square was acquired by the Rank Organisation in January 2003 and is their primary interactive betting company. Blue Square was traditionally a bookmaking business, however, their product offering has changed over time. Whilst the Blue Square Sports book will always remain at the core of the brand, other elements have seen tremendous growth in recent years such as their soft games section (Mecca Games) and their poker and casino section. These sections have been given more prominence throughout the site to reflect this growth. Customers can now use one account to gamble on anything from Blue Square TV to football matches. Thanks to advances in technology customers are spoilt for choice on ways to access the site, including internet, interactive TV, WAP and telephone

The site has been developed in order to utilise future cutting edge technological advances which are due to be incorporated on the site in the near future. Blue Square remains one of the most technologically advanced websites on the net and was recently a recipient of the 2005 egaming multi-channel operator of the year.

CEO Martin Belsham commented:

"This week Blue Square has embarked on an exciting and necessary overhaul of the entire front end of the Blue Square website. We have made noticeable and significant changes that customers will appreciate and have requested.

Blue Square will continue to be at the forefront of technological advancements in web design and innovation so that customers can fee comfortable that they are experiencing the best online gaming experience possible."

Varkonyi "Runs Away" with Extreme Poker Title in Arctic Circle

 

Robert Varkonyi, the 2002 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion, won InterPoker.com's latest Extreme Poker Challenge on Wednesday, beating Finland's Juha Helppi in a tournament played outside in sub-zero temperatures.

Helppi, who won the first Extreme Poker title under water in the Caribbean Sea, chose the venue for the event, opting for a home ice advantage in his native country.

Players who lost all of their chips early in the tournament could rebuy by trading in their coats, and Varkonyi used his rebuy just three hands into the tournament after going bust against online qualifier Daniel Stein. He played the rest of the tournament in a T-shirt, running laps between hands to stay warm.

After about an hour and a half, Varkonyi and Helppi had vanquished the four Internet qualifiers to face each other heads up. In the tournament's final hand, Varkonyi hit top pair on the flop with his 10-9, eventually making a full house to claim the Extreme Poker title.

"Winning this title makes my suffering through the most excruciating cold I've ever experienced worth it," Varkonyi said in an InterPoker.com press release. "Juha really gave me a run for the title, and my hat and coat are off to him."

Varkonyi qualified for the 2006 Extreme Poker Championship, to be held in a sunken ship off the coast of St. Kitts, where the first Extreme Poker tournament was held. Helppi had already qualified for the tournament by winning the first Extreme Poker title.

InterPoker.com has announced that the next Extreme Poker event will be held in a plane 10,000 feet above the Las Vegas desert. Dubbed "Loser's Leap," players who bust out of the tournament will be forced to parachute down to the ground. Players can earn a spot in the qualifying round of the Loser's Leap tournament by claiming a World Series of Poker seat through InterPoker.com's online satellite tournaments.

Talking Poker With Mike Sexton

 

Growing up during the Baywatch years made meeting Carmen Electra an obvious highlight in the life of this 24-year old poker reporter, but chatting with Mike Sexton at the opening of Foxwoods Resort Casino's new World Poker Tour Poker Room was far and away the best part of my day.

On March 23rd I had a chance to speak to Sexton and after years spent watching him commentate on World Poker Tour tournaments, it was interesting to hear about his rise from an average Joe to a professional poker player to a household name unofficially recognized as the world's greatest poker ambassador.

It was one of those conversations where the details don't matter as much as the ideas. I didn't spend much time writing things down. It was much more important to listen as the poker veteran freely relayed his thoughts. I wanted to include some of our conversation in my column for two reasons. First, it's interesting, and second, it gives readers a chance to gain personal insight into the life of one of poker's legends.

For those who don't know Sexton, he recently received the inaugural "Poker Ambassador" award from Cardplayer Magazine for his work promoting the game during this century's poker boom. He is the play-by-play announcer for the World Poker Tour and also an official spokesperson for PartyPoker.com. He travels the country pumping the game and although he doesn't play much these days, he still considers himself a working professional.

The setting for our discussion was the end of the red carpet overlooking the entrance to Foxwoods' new World Poker Tour Poker Room. Behind us, hundreds of players sat at one of Foxwoods' 114 tables, participating in poker games varying in structure and style. Dozens were gathered behind the velvet ropes for a glimpse at Carmen Electra, but nearly all the players recognized Sexton and many called out his name in hopes of getting a picture or an autograph. Sexton said he wasn't surprised at the size of the poker-playing crowd and laughed about how most of the players found the grand opening celebration to be disruptive to their games. He believes Foxwoods is a preeminent site in the poker world because of the intensity of the players and for the massive layout available to the gamers.

Sexton on Being at Foxwoods

His main reason for coming to Foxwoods was to promote the opening of the new World Poker Tour Poker Room, the first land-based casino to boast the WPT brand name. Part of his agreement with the WPT is promotions and this was a necessary stop. However, Sexton said his trip had a dual purpose. He was here to scout out the new digs for his upcoming gig as lead commentator for the Foxwoods Poker Classic $10,000 No-Limit Hold'Em Championship set to kick off on April 6th.

Although commentating on poker comes naturally to this seasoned professional, Sexton said he likes to warm up for these events by taking in the sites and getting a feel for the tournament space. By doing this, he has a wide array of topics to discuss during the show, helping to make the broadcast interesting and well rounded.

Calling himself a minor celebrity at Foxwoods, Sexton told me the casino would always have a special place in his heart. Sexton won the first World Poker Open in 1992 at Foxwoods, setting his name in stone as the inaugural winner and making Sexton a constant visitor. According to Sexton, he's been all around the world and Foxwoods is still one of the better casinos he's ever seen.

The 59-year old Sexton joked with me that he was clearly not the day's biggest attraction. With Carmen Electra slated to deal the ceremonial first hand, Sexton knew his role, joking that if he was wearing spectator's shoes, he'd want the announcer to get out of the way so he could get a better view of Carmen. When introducing the starlet, Sexton got a good look at miss Electra and judging by the look in his face, the old pro liked what he saw. To be fair, so did everyone else in the room.

Sexton on the Military

As a member of the military, it was interesting to me to find out Sexton also served his country as an enlisted man in the Army. At one time, Sexton considered making a career out of serving, saying that he was one of those soldiers who actually enjoyed Army life.

We chatted about how Sexton loved Airborne School, an army class that trains soldiers how to properly jump out of airplanes. A risk-taker by nature, Sexton said military training was a great fit for him. Taking risks and loving adventure are innate characteristics in most great players and he is no exception. He is not surprised to see that many of today's players have a service-related background.

I'm sure Sexton has no regrets about his poker career choice, but there was an unmistakable 'what if' scenario going on in his mind as he recounted his days at Fort Bragg. Enlisted during the Vietnam era, Sexton made some tough choices career-wise and although he was never deployed to a combat zone, soldier-to-soldier, I'd like to thank him for services rendered to his country.

Sexton on Becoming a Professional Player

It's no secret in established poker circles that Sexton's main claim to fame is his success after becoming a poker pro. Currently, Sexton resides fifth on the all time World Series of Poker 'finishes in the money' and his lifetime tournament record speaks for itself. However, poker was never a career choice until life seemed to push him in that direction.

Sexton started playing at an early age. Seven-card stud was his choice in middle school and high school; learning from a player he wouldn't name, but said was a much better player than him. The tough lunch money depriving lessons he received during school time hours taught him how to play the game the way he does today.

A gymnastic scholarship brought Sexton to Ohio State where he majored in Public Relations. In the dorms, Sexton quickly learned he had a natural talent for serious cards, consistently winning money from all takers on campus.

After graduation, he joined the army and cards took a back seat while he pondered career decisions during field exercises. He served three years with the 82nd Airborne Division. Although he contemplated going career in the army, eventually he received his release and went to work. He spent some time working jobs in North Carolina until successes in home games made him decide that poker was something he could do for a living. The decision was tough. He tried several jobs and got married in North Carolina. Nevertheless, poker continued to call. He made the move to Las Vegas in 1985 and still resides there today. His choice is not different than many other players from the past and a few from the present who knew they had some skill, but weren't sure if playing professionally was a reasonable job choice.

Sexton claims to have never really lost any serious money playing cards. Although every poker player experiences ups and downs, it was sports gambling that depleted his bankroll from time to time. Poker always paid the bills.

Where Sexton Developed his Twang

Originally from Ohio, Sexton said that he developed his famous Southern twang from his time spent in North Carolina. Although the Ohio State grad will always be a buckeye fan, he claims to have developed a fondness for the Tar Heel State and is proud of the twang that appears in his metered cadence.

Sexton on the Rise of Poker and Poker's Future

Sexton always thought poker could become a game of huge international interest, but he never imagined it would become so popular. He credits the hole-cam and television coverage for the game's current success. He said he would enjoy playing at a competitive level during the current explosion, but his life as poker ambassador is also something he relishes and if pushed, he would pick his current life as a spokesperson over his former as a professional. He is not allowed to play in WPT events, per contract. He still plays in poker tournaments whenever his schedule allows.

Poker will continue to rise, according to Sexton. He believes the rise will continue to be huge, but eventually will level off and become more like the other major sports seen on television. He said as long as the money is there, players will come, chasing dreams of becoming a millionaire, or in some cases, a bona fide celebrity. As the prize pools continue to grow, so too will the interest.

Something Sexton worries about is a poker player who can't handle his or her bankroll. The instant millionaire aspect scares Sexton and he believes there will be some sad stories down the road as players spend their money before solidifying their game and finances. Specifically, he mentioned players who win the big tournaments sometimes forget that taxes are due at the end of the year. By spending the money freely or trying to parlay the funds into a poker career, the chunk due to the IRS is sometimes an afterthought. Sexton has spent time trying to find ways to keep this from happening to the stars, both young and old, and hopes the poker world will develop mechanisms to prevent these financial tragedies.

Conclusion

Sexton is an engaging interviewee. He is willing to talk to anyone and I recommend taking some time to chat about the game with him if you ever get a chance. As he travels around the globe, it's becoming tougher to track him down. When you do get your chance, remember, no topic is off limits and his limitless insight into the game is good for rookies and grizzled veterans alike. For more information on Sexton, visit http://www.worldpokertour.com or check him out at 9 p.m. EST on the Travel Channel for broadcasts of the World Poker Tour.

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