Thursday, December 28, 2017

mBit Casino Supporting Litecoin, BCH and Dogecoin

Latest Casino Bonuses
mBit Casino Supporting Litecoin, BCH and Dogecoin
mBit Casino Supporting Litecoin, BCH and Dogecoin

Adding cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin to increase the availability of banking methods has always been a matter of fortitude and mBit Casino is one of the first online venues to have taken serious steps towards alternative digital coins. The platform now supports Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash and Dogecoin, simultaneously announcing the integration of Ethereum in mid-January.

The five largest cryptocurrencies on the market will be available to all players who prefer and support gambling with fast withdrawal times and fluent casino experience. Furthermore, members will not be limited to BTC anymore, which went through a series of problems regarding increased fees and slower admission times. Alternative cryptocurrencies and altcoins are gaining more and more popularity, synchronously affecting the overall popularity of the market’s leading medium.

Representatives of the casino have noticed that a large number of unconfirmed transactions due to blockchain issues might affect crypto enthusiasts to play and spend more money than usual. By integrating LTC, DOGE and BCH as payment methods, the brand makes all selling processes easier, as no third party exchange sites are involved in the transaction.

Playing slots, table games or video poker and using your favorite digital currency is what makes gambling at mBit Casino so awesome.The site was established in 2014 and it features an amazing game collection of industry’s top providers, wrapped in a streak of redeemable loyalty points, VIP benefits, tier points with more advantages and extra rewards!

The company is fully registered, regulated and licensed by the Government of Curacao, so sign-up and collect the automatic bonus for your first virtual deposit!


“mBit Casino Adds Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash and Dogecoin”,, December 27, 2017.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Some table games at Palace Station now feature smartphone charging outlets

Las Vegas Sun Stories: Gaming
Some table games at Palace Station now feature smartphone charging outlets
With the bevy of major upgrades as part of Palace Station’s $191 modernization project, one smaller addition might be easy to overlook. The Station Casinos property rolled out 32 new gaming tables that include smartphone charging stations equipped with six outlets — one for each ...

How President Donald Trump Kept Sportsbooks and Bettors on Their Toes in 2017
How President Donald Trump Kept Sportsbooks and Bettors on Their Toes in 2017

Love him or hate him, President Donald Trump, who took his place in history as the 45th US president on January 20, 2017, has been a bit of a bonanza for the global gaming industry. Not only are some of his top advisers current and former casino operators themselves, he’s the first American president with a direct casino connection of his own.

Donald Trump online political betting

45th US President Donald Trump gave oddsmakers plenty to smile about over the last 12 months, as UK sportsbooks went crazy with absurd betting lines on the unconventional leader. (Image: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Overseas, where sportsbooks can take bets on political events (which is illegal in the US), oddsmakers benefited from having such a controversial and divisive figure as the leader of the free world.

It turned into strong handles for books like Paddy Power, William Hill, and Ladbrokes, as both conventional and seemingly absurd lines failed to materialize over the year, which meant that bettors who took some of the more extreme odds lost their wagers.

“From a betting perspective, Donald Trump’s presidency has triggered a massive boom for these kinds of markets,” Ladbrokes PR Manager Alex Donohue explained. “Everything he does … can be turned into speculation, and that can be turned into gambling.”

Trump specials have become so active, Paddy Power appointed a longtime oddsmaker earlier this year to the newly created “Head of Trump Betting” position.

Impeachment Odds

Since Trump assumed the presidency in January, bettors have been taking odds on his chances of becoming the first commander-in-chief to be successfully removed from office. Past American presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were successfully impeached by the House of Representatives, but were then acquitted in the Senate.

Soon after Trump became the top tenant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, bookmakers thought the odds of his impeachment were basically a coin flip. In January, Ladbrokes had it at 50-50 that #45 wouldn’t survive his first full four-year term. But by fall, those same odds of him completing his four-year term were at 4-6, slightly longer at implied odds of 60 percent.

Paddy Power offers impeachment odds by the year, and 2017 was initially the favorite at 4-1, followed by 2018 (9-1), 2019 (16-1), and 2020 (20-1). But now that line is at 2017 (18-1), 2018 (11-4), 2019 (7-1), and 2020 (50-1).

North Korea

Another popular Donald Trump betting arena has surrounded North Korea and Kim Jong Un. The high-stakes relationship, which is primarily focused on nuclear weapons, wouldn’t seem to lend itself to comical betting lines, but that’s precisely where bookmakers have gone in garnering interest for their odds.

In addition to producing odds on the chances of nuclear war and whether Kim would be removed from office, sportsbooks took bets on the likelihood of Trump and the supreme leader settling their differences on the golf course (80-1). Paddy Power also asked if North Korea would erect a statue of Trump in 2017 (66-1), and if Kim would demand his mug be added to Mount Rushmore (100-1).

But even Paddy, which was criticized in the past for its short-lived betting lines on a possible Obama assassination attempt, left untouched the North Korean leader’s call for a death sentence for Trump.

NFL and Trump

The first four months of the NFL season have been doused in controversy due to players kneeling during the singing of the national anthem. Trump has fueled the protests, routinely weighing in on Twitter and even calling for owners to fire those who refuse to respect the anthem.

This February’s Super Bowl LII has plenty of kneeling and Trump lines. Paddy Power asks if at least one player will kneel on both sides during the national anthem (2-5), as well as whether Trump will attend the big game (4-1).

Paddy additionally offers odds on the Trump Organization purchasing an NFL or NBA franchise before 2020 (66-1).

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Land casino reportedly places Blockchain gambling machine

World Casino News
Land casino reportedly places Blockchain gambling machine

The Ethereum blockchain development company SmartPlay has reportedly placed one of their cryptocurrency gambling machines in a land-based casino. The SmartBox machine operates on smart contracts using the Ethereum blockchain. This is a separate blockchain than Bitcoin is found on and ETH has its own value. Rather than having a random number generator and gaming software within the machine itself, the gambling program is actually written into the blockchain. The sponsored post, which the company placed on, does not go into much detail about what sort of games are available on the machine, nor where it is located. However, the company's official web page notes the production of the first blockchain gambling machine on November 16, 2017, and references only SmartRoulette as a game developed at that point in time. Company documents indicate that future developments will include poker, blackjack, and slots. The machine is said to accept fiat currency (most likely paper rubles) which then converts them into the company's own coin called the RLT (roulette token). The alt-coins are available for purchase and sale on Russia's LiveCoin exchange (account required) and have been listed on the Eidoo Exchange. The machine, as currently deployed, is only for beta testing and proof of concept, no real money bets are being accepted on it at the undisclosed casino location. If the beta test is successful the company plans to start mass production of the SmartBox. SmartPlay did an initial coin offering (ICO) on April 7, 2017,  with the goal of raising $100,000 to $150,000 by offering 2.5 million units of 10 million created at an initial price of 0.0015 ETH at the time. The value of the RLT was about $0.07 based on ETH currency and with the explosion of the markets is now worth about $1.15. The ICO was worth $126,150 at the exchange rate as of 04/10/2017 at the end of the three-day sale. The number of tokens sold was 1,874,170. One interesting element of the game machine is that one-half of one-percent of each bit is returned to players as a bonus in RLT coins. The company looks at this is a way for players to own part of SmartPlay and to profit off the gambling of future players. The company claims to have already paid more than $300,000 to players in the form of RLT tokens. The company's website is operational but US players have been restricted since May of this year. According to a quote in the company's press releases, Philipe Comini, CEO of the Gimmer project said: "SmartBox looks pretty reliable and I can see the technology is going forward, so I give my thumbs up and hope everybody can join as well. [It's] a very revolutionary technology introducing the blockchain on gambling, and I’m really watching for SmartBox". One selling point the company is using to place its machines on live casino floors is that they will be able to eliminate croupiers, cashiers, and accountants as all processes are handled via smart contracts on the blockchain. The games are also probably fair as nobody, not even SmartPlay can change the blockchain once it is written.

The top casino stories of 2017

Casino –
The top casino stories of 2017


The Macau casino market’s tentative return to growth that began in 2016 accelerated dramatically this year, with each month posting strong double-digit year-on-year growth and the full-year total is now projected to come in at least one-fifth higher than the year before.

Perhaps the most unexpected aspect of Macau’s resurgence was the fact that it was driven by VIP gambling, despite Beijing’s crackdown on corruption showing no signs of abating, and despite all the talk about Macau’s pivot toward mass market gamblers. Even the once beleaguered junket industry is back to opening new VIP rooms.

The market was buoyed by the first full year’s contribution from new casinos such as Las Vegas Sands’ Parisian (pictured above, behind Sands boss Sheldon Adelson) and even the ban on proxy betting couldn’t dent Macau’s momentum. Some stakeholders are now projecting a return to Macau’s pre-2014 revenue heights.

Ironically, the timing of Macau’s resurgence could actually work against the market’s six casino concessionaires. Macau is gearing up for its planned review of the concessions, the first of which are set to expire in 2020.

Had Macau’s market remained in the dumps, the authorities might have felt the need to tread lightly, banking that continuity was more important that wringing blood from a stone. But with operators back to printing money, Macau is free to consider all options, including opening up the market to other operators.

2016 ended on a sour note for Crown Resorts owner James Packer with the arrest of multiple staffers – including VP Jason O’Connor – for aggressively promoting gambling activity on the Chinese mainland.

2017-year-end-crown-james-packerAs the calendar flipped to 2017 and it became evident that China was serious about prosecuting the Crown employees, Packer accelerated his sell-off of Crown’s stake in the Melco Crown Entertainment (now Melco Resorts & Entertainment) joint venture, ensuring Crown shareholders missed out on the benefits of Macau’s gambling revival.

With Crown’s name tarnished by the China arrests, Packer publicly withdrew his company from the race to win a coveted Japanese casino license. Packer also sold off Crown’s interest in a Las Vegas casino project, and looks set to unload the Crownbet online sports betting operation.

In September, Crown began defending itself in court against allegations that its pokies were misleading gamblers as to their chances of winning. The following month, an Aussie politician set off a firestorm by repeating the allegations of former Crown Melbourne staffers regarding tampering of pokies machines and helping high-rollers avoid federal financial reporting requirements.

Packer was also forced to submit to interviews with Australian federal police at the request of Israeli authorities, who are trying to determine what (if anything) Packer received in return for the generous hospitality he’s shown the family of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the years.

Packer even found himself indirectly connected to the #MeToo sexual harassment campaign when his former Hollywood production partner, Brett Ratner, was accused of abusive behavior. In April, Packer sold his share in RatPac Entertainment, which produced that star-studded promo film for Melco Crown’s Studio City resort, to Ratner.

It was Ratner who introduced Packer to singer Mariah Carey, with whom Packer reached a multimillion-dollar settlement this year after the pair broke off their engagement. Mariah got to keep the 35-carat diamond ring and, apparently, Packer’s mojo.

By contrast, Melco Resorts & Entertainment CEO Lawrence Ho had a remarkably positive year. Packer’s selloff in Melco Crown gave Ho majority control over the rebranded joint venture, eliminating the need to share the profits from Macau’s resurgence. Ho reshuffled MRE’s senior management in January, and the year’s positive momentum suggests the changes were the right ones.

2017-year-end-melco-lawrence-hoThe Melco Crown/Resorts’ expansion into the Philippines also hit its stride in 2017, to the point that the City of Dreams Manila property now accounts for 15% of MRE’s earnings. MRE could further boost its Philippine presence next year if it wins the auction for the state-run Casino Filipino operations.

Ho’s Melco International also celebrated international gains in 2017 when the company took sole control of its joint venture casino in Cyprus, which will be Europe’s largest integrated resort when its first phase opens in 2019.

Ho likely scored some significant brownie points with Japanese decision makers by vowing to shift MRE’s corporate HQ to Japan if MRE were to win the Japanese casino derby.

If there was one stain on Ho’s 2017, it was his Russian casino Tigre de Cristal, which celebrated its second anniversary in October. The property has struggled to attract mass market gamblers, and the government’s abrupt decision to dramatically hike gambling taxes was apparently the last straw, prompting Ho to sell his stake in the project as the year drew to a close.

There were two mass casualty events at casinos in 2017. In the Philippines, 37 people died when a gunman stormed Resorts World Manila (RWM) casino in June. What originally appeared to be a terrorist attack turned out to be a puzzling tale of an indebted gambler who didn’t appear that interested in shooting anyone.

Jessie Javier Carlos set several fires on RWM’s gaming floor, and the resulting smoke and fumes ended up killing casino guests who’d taken refuge in a narrow hallway. Carlos later shot himself, preventing any further explanation of his actions.

In October, Stephen Paddock opened fire on an open-air concert from the window of his hotel room in MGM Resorts’ Mandalay Bay casino. A total of 59 individuals died, including Paddock, who took his own life before security could enter his room.

Naturally, in both cases, the issue of the shooters’ gambling history was prime fodder for the media, even if there was little direct connection between their gambling activity and their violent ends.

Rightly or wrongly, RWM’s owner Travelers International Hotel Group and MGM were each accused of negligence in the wake of the attacks, and both markets suffered temporary dips in activity immediately following the incidents. However, both markets have since rebounded amid well-publicized improvements to security protocols, not only in the affected venues or markets, but at casinos across the globe, hopefully lessening the likelihood of such incidents going forward.

The seaside gaming hub managed to go the whole year without closing another casino, which sounds like damning with faint praise, but when you’ve lost five of 12 casinos to mothballs in a short time period, you measure success differently.

2017-year-end-atlantic-city-casinos-aliveThe year got off on the right foot when AC announced its first annual gaming revenue gains in a decade. The surviving casinos showed they’d read their Darwin by getting far more efficient, posting double-digit profit gains despite only modest increases in revenue, and they got a wind-assist from online gambling, which now represents 10% of all monthly gaming revenue.

In March, Florida’s Hard Rock International showed its faith in AC’s rebirth by acquiring the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal and vowing to spend half-a-billion removing the Trump taint before reopening next summer as the music-themed Hard Rock Atlantic City.

Another mothballed property, the $2.4b white elephant that is Revel, also reportedly found a buyer late in the year, although Revel’s reliably loony owner Glenn Straub continues to deny it, even after the alleged new owner – Colorado developer Bruce Deifik – went to the trouble of applying for a New Jersey casino license (something Straub refused to do).

Trouble is, AC’s surviving casinos are worried that the reopening of some closed venues will upset the delicate balance that has allowed them to post those profits and restore the oversupply problems that led to AC’s decade-long decline.

After years of hemming and hawing, Vietnam’s government finally approved plans for a three-year test of allowing local residents to gamble in casinos. (The government also announced a separate pilot program for legal sports betting.)

The locals ban had been cited by numerous international firms as the primary reason for their disinterest in pursuing Vietnamese casino projects. But the increasing likelihood of the government permanently bending on this issue has led to a flurry of casino project announcements.

While undoubtedly welcome news, the locals pilot program remains something of a chimera, in that none of the casinos designated to participate in the test are actually open for business. In fact, some of these casinos have yet to progress beyond the conceptual stage, and may not be ready to welcome gamblers – regardless of their nationality – for years yet.

On the plus side, if none of the specified casinos manage to open by the time the three-year trial is over, that means the potential for negative impact on Vietnamese society will be nil. So, uh, it will be considered a success?

A few years ago, the Canadian province of British Columbia dropped its pretentious official motto, ‘The Best Place on Earth.’ Now, if they’d added “…to Launder Money in Casinos,” they’d have been on to something.

2017-year-end-british-columbia-casino-money-launderingThis spring, BC voters threw out the governing Liberal party after 15 years in power, and the incoming NDP government announced they’d found a year-old report detailing rampant money laundering at BC’s land-based casinos. The situation was so prevalent that the laundering process was known internationally as ‘the Vancouver model.’

The Liberals and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation had long been accused of ignoring shady dealings at BC casinos but the report added flesh to those bones, including tales of Asian high-rollers collecting gym bags full of $20 bills in casino parking lots, then exchanging the cash for chips without too many questions asked. The government even shut down an investigative body that asked too many questions about the shady goings-on.

The release of the report led to police actions against BC-based private lenders, while Canada’s federal financial watchdog announced it was reviewing the allegations, and Great Canadian Gaming Corp – which manages the casino where most of the real shenanigans occurred – was forced into the embarrassing position of publicly declaring that it wasn’t in the money laundering business.

The whole incident added significant weight to the argument that acting as both gaming regulator and operator is a recipe for corruption. Calvin Ayre has predicted that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin Cash will eventually make regulators like BCLC redundant but their own greed and incompetence might do the job first.

In July, Saipan casino operator Imperial Pacific International finally transferred its shopping mall casino’s gaming operations to IPI’s permanent facility, despite the new joint being nowhere near completion, and despite a near-constant deluge of negative attention from international media, US law enforcement, local politicians and the company’s own labor force.

After closing out 2016 denying that its VIP gambling operations were the subject of a probe by US financial watchdogs, monthly VIP turnover at IPI’s temporary casino hit a staggering $5.6b in January – a greater monthly sum than that generated by virtually any casino in Macau. Related or not, a few months later IPI announced it would no longer report its monthly turnover figures.

IPI’s offices were raided by US federal agents in March, in what was initially suspected of being a financial probe. Instead, the raid was linked to IPI’s contractors hiring undocumented Chinese workers (and not always paying them) while dodging workplace safety rules, which may have contributed to the on-site death of a worker.

While IPI’s permanent casino finally opened (dodgy sewage system notwithstanding), the company’s historic aversion to unloading risk on junket operators led analysts to warn that the company could default if it couldn’t collect on its staggeringly vast bad VIP debt total. In the first half of 2017 alone, IPI wrote off $266m in unrecoverable debts.

Meanwhile, Saipan politicians continued to make noise about IPI’s sweetheart deal with the government, which require the company to pay business taxes and license fees but no tax whatsoever on gaming revenue. There may yet come a day in which IPI wishes it had never left the cozy confines of its shopping mall origins.

Spain proved once again that it really isn’t interested in building integrated resort casinos; Baha Mar finally opened in the Bahamas, albeit to an underwhelming response; Phil Ivey’s bid to reclaim his millions in edge-sorting winnings crapped out in the UK Supreme Court; and US authorities fingered North Korea as the culprit behind 2016’s Bangladeshi bank heist that so embarrassed the Philippine casino and junket industries;

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Key 2017 moments for the Asia Pacific casino industry

Key 2017 moments for the Asia Pacific casino industry

The year 2017 could prove to have been a turning point in the development of Vietnam’s casino industry. In Macau, despite the VIP gambling segment being once again in the driving seat regarding contribution to gross gaming revenues, there was evidence that the right non-gaming offer to customers might have the power to drive some incremental gaming business.

Those are respective views of several commentators in their specialist fields, namely gaming law and financial analysis.

Meanwhile, the announcement in early December that a unit of Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd was to be a partner in a planned casino resort on the Philippine holiday destination of Boracay, could prove a pivotal moment for that country’s casino industry. That is provided the investors have good enough air transport links to guarantee a supply of foreign players, says a long-time operator of gaming machines in that market and local agent for major casino technology brands. Until now, most of the Philippines’ world-class casino resorts have been clustered in a district of the capital Manila.

In 2017, the Philippine casino industry was also hit by a tragic event: the Resorts World Manila casino resort in the Philippine capital was attacked on June 2 by a lone gunman, leading to the deaths of 37 people, including the perpetrator Jessie Javier Carlos. Following the incident, the country’s regulator – the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) – instructed Resorts World Manila to halt its gaming operations pending investigation of the attack on the property. Gaming operations were eventually resumed at the end of June.

That attack, and the mass shootings near the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada in the United States in October, were mentioned by the Macau government when it announced in mid-October the authorities there would work with the city’s six casino operators on how to cope with simulated “attack” on the sector. More details were given in late November, when Macau’s Secretary for Security said the simulation exercise would happen in the first half of 2018.

In the gaming supplier segment, a leading veteran of the casino technology sector – who asked not to be identified by name – expressed “surprise” to GGRAsia at the continued aggressive expansion in 2017 – via acquisition – of Scientific Games Corp, a specialist in casino gaming machines and systems and lottery equipment and services. But the person found it less surprising that Scientific Games had become a stronger competitor to Australia’s Aristocrat Leisure Ltd in the slot machine business in Asia Pacific and beyond.

Vietnam opportunities

Regarding the Vietnam gaming market, Pedro Cortés, a member of the International Association of Gaming Advisors (IAGA) and a senior partner at the Macau legal practice Rato, Ling, Lei and Cortés, told GGRAsia that a Vietnam government decree in January 2017, that came into force in March and paved the way for a trial period of gambling by economically-qualified locals at selected casino resorts, had helped to put Vietnam “on the regulatory map in the Asia-Pacific region”.

In February, the Vietnam government announced another gaming-related decree that included provisions to enable some citizens of the country aged 21 and over to bet on certain overseas football matches and on horse and dog races. The conditions included that the events must be approved ones as defined by the government. Players would be allowed to wager a maximum of VND1 million (US$44) per product day.

The combination of the potential for opening up of the Vietnam market for local players and the beginnings of some kind of discernible regulatory framework – rather than licences being granted on a case by case basis as previously –“permits Vietnam to have foreign investors, and Macau-based VIP gaming operators are reportedly starting investing in the casino industry of Vietnam,” Mr Cortés noted.

He added: “Due to its proximity to the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam has an enormous potential for the industry.”

There have been reports of some large-scale Vietnam casino resorts possibly being allowed to offer gambling to locals by the turn of the year.

Augustine Ha Ton Vinh, an academic who says he has been advising the government there on liberalising Vietnam’s gaming industry, told a panel moderated by GGRAsia at the MGS Entertainment Show – a casino industry trade exhibition and conference held in November – that two Vietnam properties would be in the first wave of gambling for locals. He said they were a so-called integrated resort at Van Don in northern Vietnam, and one on Phu Quoc Island in the south; with two more – in Ho Tram and at Hoi An – “in limbo”.

The prospect of local play in Vietnam has had major U.S.-based casino firms including Las Vegas Sands Corp and Hard Rock International LLC studying the market.

But there appears to be a high mandated threshold for capital expenditure per resort: it is reportedly US$2 billion currently, rather than US$4 billion as mentioned previously in some provincial government announcements regarding new projects. Such an entry price does not appear to guarantee operators permission for entry of locals, and the locals initiative is at this stage only for a trial period due to run for three years.

“We’re not necessarily in love with the conditions or the three-year test period,” said Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive of potential Vietnam suitor Las Vegas Sands, in comments to investment analysts on the group’s first-quarter 2017 earnings call on April 26.

Against that background, it could be that Chinese entrepreneurs such as Macau junket investor Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, boss of Suncity Group – who is slated for an investment at Hoi An, and who is linked to an entity due to run the gaming at Van Don – have a stronger stomach for risk in the Vietnam market than Western public companies.

During the MGS Entertainment Show in November, Andrew Klebanow, senior partner at business consultancy Global Market Advisors LLC – also known as GMA – told GGRAsia that Vietnam would need to balance its domestic policy expectations regarding what the casino industry could deliver in terms of inward investment, with the commercial needs of the operators. He described the reported US$2-billion capital threshold as an “unrealistic number”.

Macau’s VIP comeback

In 2017, as in previous years since the turn of the century – when the system for exit visas from mainland China was partially liberalised, helping to support the tourism sectors in the special administrative regions of Macau and of Hong Kong – the Macau casino market led Asia Pacific in gross gaming revenue terms (GGR).

In respective notes on December 18, several brokerages said they expected 2017 GGR to have expanded by at least 19 percent year-on-year, or to at least MOP266.24 billion (US$33.06 billion). Full-year 2017 is set to be the first time since 2014 that Macau’s casino industry will report full-year GGR year-on-year growth. In 2014, market-wide GGR declined by 2.6 percent, decreasing further by 34.3 percent and 3.3 percent in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Grant Govertsen, managing director of brokerage Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd, told GGRAsia in an emailed commentary: “Clearly VIP has re-emerged as the driving force behind what should be approximately 20 percent GGR growth in Macau in 2017.”

It has become a truism of the Macau casino scene that new non-gaming products can sometimes struggle to find a role and a market. Not if the product is right, suggested Mr Govertsen, giving as an example the food and drink offerings of Galaxy Entertainment.

“Simply put the company has instituted significant changes and additions to its F&B [food and beverage] offerings at what feels like a lightning pace,” said the analyst.

“Well-known brands, concepts that mainland [Chinese] visitors enjoy, reasonable price points, and easy access have played a part in driving incremental foot traffic to Galaxy Macau (and to a lesser extent to StarWorld too),” he added, referring first to the casino group’s Cotai flagship, and second to its main Macau peninsula property.

Boracay blue skies?

In the Philippines, Joe Pisano, chief executive and founder of Jade Entertainment and Gaming Technologies Inc, a Manila-based distributor and operator of casino gaming machines, told GGRAsia regarding the prospects for Galaxy Entertainment’s Boracay project: “Of the local tourists that go to Boracay they are not of the demographic that would frequent casinos: basically they are millennials going to the beach to party.” The latter was a reference to young adults born at the turn of the current century.

“If Galaxy [Entertainment] has an airstrip in their plans and they are able to bring players directly from China then they could make it work,” added Mr Pisano.

Referring to another holiday island destination in the Philippines were several casino resort schemes have been proposed, the gaming entrepreneur added: “The new Cebu properties have a lot of advantages over the Boracay developments – an international airport, local customer base, and several established five-star resorts.”

Galaxy Entertainment has also expressed interest in obtaining a casino licence in Japan, as have many other international casino operators. But the arrival of year-end without the passage in Japan of an anti-gambling addiction bill – a statute seen as a precondition of casino industry legalisation – only pushes the request for proposal stage further down the track, a number of industry commentators have said.

Supplier M&A

In the casino equipment supply sector, 2017 saw a continuation of the merger and acquisition trend that started earlier in the decade. In the latest round, a predominant theme was acquisition – by traditional casino slot machine and electronic table games makers – of new technology firms involved in either so-called social casino games or online sports betting.

In October, Aristocrat announced it had completed the takeover of social gaming company Plarium Global Ltd, for US$500 million, after receiving all relevant regulatory and other approvals.

In late November, the firm also announced a US$990-million cash bid for social casino brand Big Fish Games Inc, a U.S.-based, wholly-owned unit of horse racetrack operator Churchill Downs Inc. Aristocrat said that deal would make its digital business the “second-largest social casino publisher globally by revenue”, citing research from Eilers and Krejcik Gaming LLC.

On December 20, Scientific Games announced the acquisition of Canada-listed sports betting firm NYX Gaming Group Ltd would close on January 5 after being approved “by an overwhelming vote of NYX shareholders”. In September, Scientific Games said it wanted to expand its existing digital gaming and online gambling portfolio by acquiring NYX Gaming for approximately CAD775 million (US$604.3 million), including debt.

At the end of September, Scientific Games had total net debt of US$7.98 billion, according to its third-quarter earnings statement issued on November 1.

‘Aggressive’ expansion

“I was really surprised how aggressive Scientific Games have remained despite high debt; but you have to remember they have a couple of very large shareholders, [a scenario] which always tends to result in more aggressive management,” the casino technology sector industry veteran – who asked not to be identified by name – told GGRAsia. “I see this continuing unless we have a serious economic bump in the road,” the person added.

The industry source said, asserting no commercial interest in the topic: “Aristocrat in particular are being very smart in pursuing acquisitions but not ‘absorbing’ them in the core business. They are running them as virtually independent business which seems to be working very successfully.”

The person further stated: “This worked for them very well with the acquisition of Product Madness and they seem to be continuing that trend.”

Aristocrat acquired Product Madness Inc, an online social casino games developer, in 2012. The consideration involved was not declared at the time.

Referring to the conventional slot games segment for land-based casinos, the industry commentator told us: “For Asia, I don’t think we will see a substantial weakening of Aristocrat as they are looking after their core games and trying to establish and expand the business with a premier portfolio. Yes, compared to 10 years ago, they do have a good competitor in Scientific Games, but this really made sure they didn’t get complacent. Top line growth for Aristocrat [in Asia Pacific] will remain difficult with the market share they [already] possess,” said the person.

At the MGS Entertainment show in November, the Macau regulator revealed that in the city’s casino market, Aristocrat had a market share of 48 percent of the total number of EGMs in the market as of July, while Scientific Games was some way behind, with a market share of 17 percent.

Splendor of the Old: 2017’s Biggest Sports Superstars Were No Spring Chickens
Splendor of the Old: 2017’s Biggest Sports Superstars Were No Spring Chickens

Everyone knows that sports are a young person’s game, especially when it comes to the professional level of competition. But in 2017, we all found ourselves in awe of some veteran athletes who defied their ages to score some of the most impressive victories of the year.

2017 sports superstars

Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor took part in one of the most hyped sporting events in history. (Image: Isaac Brekken/AP)

These men and women may not be truly old, but they’re certainly past the age where we expect our sports heroes to be winning championships.

Tennis Throwbacks

If there’s one sport where age might seem like an insurmountable obstacle, it might be tennis. Singles players must exert themselves for hours at a time with no teammates to rely on, requiring not only immense skill but also all the stamina they can muster.

Nonetheless, a look at the 2017 season might make you think you were looking at the 2007 results instead.

Heading into the year, Roger Federer hadn’t won a Grand Slam tournament in five years, and at age 35, it looked like he never would again. But in January, the Swiss legend won the Australian Open, and followed that up with a win at Wimbledon in July. That gave him 19 Grand Slam titles for his career.

Bookmakers even favored Federer heading into the US Open, where he was a 5-2 favorite. But it was second choice Rafael Nadal who would instead win in New York, giving him his second major title of the year, and 16 Grand Slams for his career. At 31, Nadal is no spring chicken himself, and the dominance he and Fed showed this season in the face of young challengers was a special treat for tennis fans.

But it wasn’t just the men who looked to the past for inspiration this year. Serena Williams won the Australian Open women’s title at the age of 35, a feat made all the more impressive considering she was two months pregnant during the tournament.

Hype of the Century

The most hyped sporting event of the year was undoubtedly the fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and UFC superstar Conor McGregor. The fight was something of an odd matchup: Mayweather, 40, was an undefeated 49-0 boxing legend who was a bit past his prime. On the other hand, while McGregor, 29, was a UFC Champion, he did not have a single professional boxing match to his credit.

Most of the public betting was on McGregor, who started as an enormous underdog but was pushed down to around +500 at most sportsbooks before the fight. More money came in on Mayweather, however, as the sharps astutely predicted that the all-time great pugilist might be able to take care of a man who was a great athlete, but essentially an amateur boxer.

Sure enough, after a competitive first few rounds, Mayweather took control of the fight, ultimately winning by technical knockout in the 10th round. The fight was a big win for Vegas bookmakers, who took in about $65 million in bets on the event. As for the fighters themselves, with Mayweather reportedly earning more than $300 million from the bout.

Brady’s Comeback for the Ages

Tom Brady never seems to age, and he remains one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks to this day. The New England Patriots quarterback brought his team into Super Bowl LI as a three-point favorite against the Atlanta Falcons. But the Patriots found themselves losing 28-3 midway through the third quarter, and even the most ardent New England fans had begun to despair.

But New England scrambled back from the brink of defeat, tying the game up with less than a minute left in regulation before a James White touchdown run in overtime gave the Patriots their fifth Super Bowl title in Brady’s tenure.

The team’s winning ways may not be over, either, as New England opened the season as 11-4 favorites to repeat as champions even as their star quarterback turned 40 years old.

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Cash-strapped Kentucky takes another look at legalizing casinos

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Cash-strapped Kentucky takes another look at legalizing casinos

Kentucky lawmakers are now studying proposals that will amend their constitution in a bid to accommodate four casinosacross the Bluegrass State.

Cash-strapped Kentucky takes another look at legalizing casinosWCPO TV 9 reported that State Reps. Dennis Keene and Rick Rand have pre-filed BR-197, which seeks to legalize casinos and at the same time expand pari-mutuel gambling, in the first week of December.

Kentucky, currently one of the 10 U.S. states that does not have a casino offering, is becoming more receptive to the measure compared to the previous years, according to Keene.

Aside from allowing casinos in the state, Keene’s bill also opened the possibility of allowing sports betting in Kentucky.

The cash-strapped state is now pushing for the legalization of casinos because it needs new revenue streams to straighten its budget and salvage the state pension plan. Kentucky wants to recapture the money that its residents spend in neighboring gambling venues, according to the report.

In the historic coal town of Jenkins, Kentucky, residents are already throwing their support for the opening of casinos in the wake of high unemployment rate, according to the Lexington Herald Leader.

Meanwhile, lobby group Jobs 4 Kentucky has already gather signatures of Jenkins residents supporting the initiative.

“Responsible gaming is the pride of the modern gaming entertainment industry,” the pro-casino group said in a statement posted on its website. “The Citizens of Kentucky can count on an expanded gaming community to operate responsibly and with care for our people.”

Despite the growing support, several lawmakers believe that BR-197 faces a steep uphill climb in the Congress.

One of the factors why the casino measure has not moved forward in Kentucky is the disagreements over the casinos’ location. Social conservatives are exerting pressure on Congress not to allow gambling expansion in the state, while the Kentucky’s influential horse industry wants casinos confined in the tracks.

There were casino bills that had been filed over the past years, but Keene said these measures met their untimely demise in the Congress because “there’s not been the political courage to pass it.”

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Monday, December 25, 2017

Wealthiest Gambling Bosses of 2017 – the Rags-to-Riches Stories of Five Remarkable Visionaries

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Wealthiest Gambling Bosses of 2017 – the Rags-to-Riches Stories of Five Remarkable Visionaries

Building wealth is hard. Keeping and increasing that wealth is even harder. It requires deployment of smart strategies and risk-taking. The five people below have apparently found the recipe for building wealth. What is more, they have managed to overcome the challenges of being born into poverty and to create something better for themselves and for many others.

These five remarkable businessmen currently top Forbes’ richest gambling representatives list. And while they are involved in different sectors of the global gambling industry, it can be said that they have quite a lot in common. They have found what it comes down to to become a wealthy gambling boss, have come up with concepts all unique for the industry, and have spotted the right niche to eventually create and grow successful gambling enterprises. Here is how they have achieved what they have achieved.

Sheldon Adelson

Net Worth: $30.4 Billion (Forbes: December 2017)/Self-Made Billionaire

The stories of self-made billionaires who managed to take themselves from the streets to the top of world’s richest people lists are countless. And Sheldon Adelson, the founder of one of the world’s largest casino companies (if not the largest) has one such rags-to-riches story.

Mr. Adelson was born in 1933 in one of Boston’s poorer neighborhoods. He sold newspapers in his teenage years and later on entered The City College of New York, where he commenced his corporate finance studies. He left two years later, never finishing his degree. Little did the college dropout know that he would happen to become one of the rulers of the casino world.

Mr. Adelson was engaged in different business endeavors in the 1960s. In the early 1970s, he started a dedicated show for the computer industry, interest in which was growing quite rapidly at the time. The first edition of the show was held in 1973 and saw modest success. However, Mr. Adelson felt that he was on the right path and sold a number of his other businesses to dedicate his attention to the computer show.

The businessman’s work in the field eventually brought to life the Computer Dealers Expo (COMDEX) in the late 1970s. The event took place at MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. It took less than a decade for it to become the largest computer-dedicated show in the world.

Adelson made his first foray into the casino world when he purchased the emblematic Sands Hotel and Casino, which had been known to be a favorite spot to stars like Frank Sinatra back in the 1950s. The property’s new owner redeveloped it into a multi-purpose complex that featured retail, dining, and entertainment facilities.

In 1990, Mr. Adelson opened the Sands Expo and Convention across the street from the Sands Casino. The center was the second largest one in the world at the time. It can thus be said that the businessman was the founder of what is now known as the MICE integrated resorts model. Multiple integrated resorts with meeting and convention space have been built over the past 27 years, following the success of Mr. Adelson’s endeavors and changing the casino, tourism, and hospitality industries for good.

The casino mogul further expanded his gambling and hospitality business in Las Vegas and later on in Macau and Singapore through Las Vegas Sands, the company he founded in 1998 gradually grew into the world’s largest casino operator. Its market cap stood at around $55 billion as of early December.

Las Vegas Sands Properties:

Sands Expo and Convention Center
The Venetian Las Vegas
Sands Macao
The Venetian Macao
The Palazzo Las Vegas
The Plaza Macao
Sands Bethlehem
Marina Bay Sands
Sands Cotai Central
The Parisian Macao

Carl Icahn

Net Worth: $16.4 Billion (Forbes: December 2017)/ Self-Made Billionaire

Carl Icahn is yet another billionaire businessman who was raised in relative poverty, but had a bent for business that eventually rocketed his name to the very top part of the world’s richest list. Icahn was born in 1936 and grew up in the Far Rockaway neighborhood in Queens, New York. The neighborhood was and still is quite a poor one.

His mother was a school teacher and his father was a lawyer and cantor at the neighborhood’s synagogue. Icahn himself said that he has always had a drive for success.

The businessman was a gifted student and was very keen on going to college. His parents said that they would pay his tuition fees only if he was admitted in an Ivey League college. Icahn applied to Harvard, Princeton, and Yale and was accepted by all three. He eventually picked Princeton where he studied philosophy. Icahn has said in interviews that his years at Princeton helped him succeed in his future business endeavors.

The businessman is widely known as one of Wall Street’s most colorful representatives and one of the most aggressive investors out there. Sometimes brash and controversial, his business tactics have won him the reputation of a corporate raider.

Icahn has been involved in different businesses over the years through his holding company Icahn Enterprises. The conglomerate has invested in real estate, auto parts, casinos, entertainment, and energy, among other things.

In 1998, Icahn was given the green light by the Nevada Gaming Commission to operate the bankrupt Stratosphere Casino and Arizona Charlie’s casino, which was under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the time. The businessman agreed to sell the two properties as well as the Boulder casino and Aquarius Casino Resort (both located in Nevada) and a portion of empty land in Las Vegas to Goldman Sachs’ Whitehall Street Real Estate Funds in 2007 for the total amount of $1.3 billion. The deal was completed at a profit of nearly $1 billion for Mr. Icahn.

The purchase and the subsequent sale of the unfinished Fontainebleau casino resort on the Las Vegas Strip was yet another highly profitable move. Mr. Icahn bought the property in 2009 for $156 million. Here it is important to note that the complex was under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the time. In 2015, the billionaire businessman listed Fontainebleau for sale at a price of $650 million. He sold the unfinished resort in August 2017 to investors New Valley LLC and Witkoff Group for the total amount of $600 million.

Mr. Icahn’s casino interests also spread to New Jersey and more specifically to Atlantic City. In 2009, the state’s Casino Control Commission backed the investor’s bid to assume control over Tropicana Casino Resort. His proposal to buy the then struggling property emerged a year earlier at a bankruptcy auction.

Back in 2009, Mr. Icahn was also battling now US President Donald Trump over the latter’s bankrupt Atlantic City casino resort business Trump Resorts Entertainment. The company was the owner of the now shuttered Trump Plaza, Trump Taj Mahal as well as of Trump Marina, which was bought by Tilman J. Fertitta’s Landry’s Inc. and now operates as Golden Nugget Atlantic City.

Mr. Icahn eventually acquired Trump Resorts Entertainment in 2015. Trump Plaza had already been shuttered by that time, and Trump Taj Mahal barely escaped bankruptcy. The latter property closed doors in October 2016 after a prolonged workers’ strike, during which staff picketed the casino resort over contract dispute with its owner. Mr. Icahn actually blamed Trump Taj Mahal’s closure on the strike. He sold the shuttered casino this spring to Florida-based casino developer Hard Rock International.

Lui Che Woo

Net Worth: $12.1 Billion (Forbes: December 2017)/ Self-Made Billionaire

At the age of 88, Chinese businessman Lui Che Woo survived the atrocities of World War Two, grew up in extreme poverty, and used every lesson life served him to build his business empire. Mr. Lui is one of Asia’s wealthiest people and most successful entrepreneurs.

He was born in Mainland China’s Guangdong province, but spent most of his childhood in Hong Kong. At the age of 13, he became his family’s breadwinner. This was when he gradually began entering the world of business.

He sold peanuts for a while to support his five sisters and the rest of the family. Later on, Mr. Lui joined his uncle’s car parts company as a stock keeper. He founded his own car parts company after gaining experience at his uncle’s.

He made his “first pot of gold” when he sold heavy machinery left behind in Japan after the Korean war to Hong Kong contractors. This helped him launch K. Wah Group in the 1950s. It later on became the parent company for his other businesses.

Over the years, Mr. Lui expanded his operations across different fields including construction materials supply, real estate, hospitality, and casino gambling. He also extended his businesses’ footprint across Southeast Asia and the United States.

He entered the hospitality industry in the 1970s when he purchased a waterfront site to build what would become Hong Kong’s first star-rated hotel. The businessman believed that he was onto something big and that demand for world-class hotels in the region would explode. And he turned quite right.

In 2002, Mr. Lui founded Galaxy Entertainment Group, the company that later on became parent to his casino operations. The businessman decided to explore the world of gambling after the Chinese government had given the nod to the construction of casino venues in Macau. Galaxy Entertainment was selected as one of the six preferred bidders for the city’s gaming concessions.

The company now operates its flagship property Galaxy Macau, an integrated resort with a gaming floor and multiple hotel, entertainment, dining, retail, and convention facilities, as well as several city casino clubs. It has recently emerged that Galaxy Entertainment has partnered a Philippine developer to build a $500-million integrated resort on the Boracay Island.

Johann Graf

Net Worth: $7.2 Billion (Forbes: December 2017)/ Self-Made Billionaire

The founder of international gambling company NOVOMATIC Group is yet another self-made billionaire. Mr. Graf was born in 1947 in Vienna, Austria. He was raised by his grandparents in a single-room apartment without running water.

He apprenticed as a butcher at a young age and his family hoped that he would take over their butcher business. However, Mr. Graf had different plans for his life. Sensing a good opportunity, he began importing pinball machines to his home country through Belgium. He distributed the gaming devices across cafés, pubs, and other facilities around Austria.

With the popularization of electronic gaming machines, Mr. Graf grabbed what he believed was yet another good opportunity to extend his business, and formed Novomatic Automatenhandels AG in 1980. The company saw a quick growth which allowed it to expand its geographic footprint to Switzerland and across the East Bloc.

NOVOMATIC has grown into a company that annually generates billions of dollars in revenue, produces slot machines, electronic table games, video poker and video lottery products, and runs a chain of land-based casinos, with most of the venues operating under the Admiral brand. NOVOMATIC has offices in more than 40 countries and supplies its products across 80 countries.

Mark Scheinberg

Net Worth: $4.5 Billion (Forbes: December 2017)/ Self-Made Billionaire

Mark Scheinberg and his father, Isai Scheinberg, are recognized as the founders of PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker room. Mr. Scheinberg was born in Israel in 1973, but moved to Canada with his family at the age of 13. He was admitted to Fanshawe College of Applied Arts and Technology in London, Ontario, but spent only a year there before dropping out and moving to Toronto.

In Toronto, he started a job in hospitality and spent the next several years of his life traveling around South America and Asia.

The Scheinbergs eventually entered the world of online gambling in September 2001, when they launched PokerStars. The website initially offered play-money games only. The real-money wagering options arrived in December 2001.

Mark and his father, an experienced computer programmer, held a controlling stake in PokerStars’ parent company, Rational Enterprises. Although the online poker room was launched at a time when the Internet was still a bit of a weird place, its popularity among players grew exponentially within a very short period of time.

It can be said that PokerStars was at the center of what has become known as the boom of online poker in the mid-2000s. In 2003, Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event after securing a seat into the world’s most prestigious No-Limit Hold’em tournament through a PokerStars online satellite. The next several years saw an explosion in demand for online poker, a trend that many dubbed the Moneymaker effect.

In 2011, Isai Scheinberg was one of the people indicted by the US Department of Justice on five charges related to the provision of real-money online poker services to US players in the years following the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.

In 2014, the Scheinbergs sold their stake in PokerStars’ parent company, the Rational Group, to Canadian gambling company Amaya Inc. (now The Stars Group). The deal was at the time the largest one to have ever taken place within the online gambling space. With Canadian businessman David Baazov at the company’s helm, Amaya paid the amount of $4.9 billion for the online poker business.

The sale actually made Mark Scheinberg one of the world’s youngest billionaires. The businessman reportedly cashed around $3.6 billion from the deal. He has been investing in different other fields since cashing out from the Rational Group. It has recently emerged that he is participating in a development project for the construction of a multi-purpose complex in Madrid.

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Top Gaming Industry Salaries of 2017: Which Casino Barons Brought Home the Most Bacon
Top Gaming Industry Salaries of 2017: Which Casino Barons Brought Home the Most Bacon

The gaming industry had a dynamic 2017, but for casino operators, there’s only one true way to count success, and that’s by taking a look at their ledger sheets at the end of the year. The top dogs in the business didn’t get there by being faint of heart, and this year, the industry’s notables took risks and faced their antagonists head-on. The result was hefty compensation all around.

Big money casino industry 2017

Good to be king: Las Vegas Sands Corp CEO Sheldon Adelson got a huge raise, but also pulled out of the Las Vegas Raiders stadium deal. (Image: Getty)

Many of the top names in the sector are billionaires, counting themselves among the richest people on the planet.

Here’s a look at a few of the major executives and owners who made the big bucks in 2017.

Adelson Gets Standard 400 Percent Raise

When it comes to the richest of the rich, there are few who have the vast resources of Sheldon Adelson. The Las Vegas Sands CEO and chairman has a net worth of approximately $32.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and his piles of cash only got deeper in 2017.

Adelson saw his annual salary increase from $1 million to $5 million, and along with performance-based bonuses, his total compensation package could be worth more than $17 million a year.

But his biggest financial move may have been the one he didn’t end up making. The billionaire dropped out of a bid to bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, withdrawing his $650 million in funding for a proposed NFL stadium after saying that the Raiders had left him out of discussions over the arena’s lease agreement.

Wynn Takes Stock Payout, Faces Off Against Frenemy

Steve Wynn also had quite the year, with his biggest windfall coming in January. That’s when Wynn Resorts awarded its CEO with a stock package distribution worth $12.5 million. Wynn immediately sold $5.2 million in stock, providing himself with plenty of spending cash to start the new year.

The casino mogul has other big money stock issues pending, though. Former Wynn Resorts board member Kazuo Okada is suing the company over his 2012 dismissal and the forced redemption of his 20 percent stake in the firm, a move that Okada says wasn’t made by the board because it was in the best interests of the company, but rather on orders from Steve Wynn himself.

Murren, MGM Must Deal with Shooting Aftermath

Another CEO to earn a raise in 2017 was MGM Resorts CEO James Murren. The 54-year-old executive received a new contract in October 2016, and while his base pay remained at $2 million a year, his bonuses and stock awards both increased in April, resulting in a total bump of about 25 percent.

Murren may be hard-pressed to get that kind of raise again in 2018, however. Following the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 1, MGM is facing lawsuits from more than 450 victims. While most damages are likely to be paid by insurers, the legal and public relations ramifications from the shooting will extend into 2018 and beyond.

Frissora Leads Caesars Out of Bankruptcy

On the other hand, Caesars Entertainment President and CEO Mark Frissora reportedly took a pay cut in 2016, though his compensation package of $9.5 million was still more than enough to keep him living large.

That could easily change when his 2017 earnings are announced. Frissora helped Caesars emerge from bankruptcy after a three-year effort, and in October, he spoke to investors about the corporation’s plans to grow their operations not only in Las Vegas, but also in other global destinations like Japan, Brazil, and South Korea.

Northeast, Asia Likely Battlegrounds in 2018

So where will the big money players be focused heading into 2018? Increased competition may be the biggest concern to their respective bottom lines, particularly in the northeastern United States, where new casinos in Massachusetts and Connecticut, along with the introduction of online gambling in Pennsylvania, could put a lot of pressure on markets that are already beginning to feel saturated.

High stakes are at play in Asia as well coming into the new year. Not only will Japan likely grant final approval for the nation’s first integrated resorts, but regulators in Macau are also expected to announce the rules that will govern the renewal of gaming license concessions in the Chinese territory.

Both could lead to fierce competition amongst some of the largest gaming firms in the world, each of which wants to be a leader in these lucrative markets. And you know what that means: bigger payouts for the gambling industries biggest moguls in 2018.

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Upcoming Poker Tournaments – Holiday Edition

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Upcoming Poker Tournaments – Holiday Edition

After unwrapping their Christmas presents and emptying their Christmas socks, many would likely feel tempted to head to a nearby or not so nearby casino for some holiday edition poker action. If there are such avid poker players among our readers, we at Casino News Daily have compiled a list of some of the poker events that will take place in the week after Christmas and before New Year. Here is a little bit more information about these.

2017 Deepstacks Challenge

The Borgata Casino, one of the casinos gracing the emblematic Atlantic City Boardwalk, will welcome players between December 26 and December 29 to celebrate Christmas with them and to offer them the chance to take part in four No-Limit Hold’em tournaments.

A single single-day tournament will take place on each of the four days within the Deepstacks Challenge. The $120 No-Limit Hold’em with a guaranteed prize pool of $15,000 will open the poker bonanza at the Borgata. The buy-ins and the guaranteed prize pools will grow with every day.

The second day of the festival will welcome players for a $180 buy-in tournament with a guaranteed prize pool of $20,000. The third day will feature a $230 event with a guaranteed prize pool of $25,000. Finally, the festival will be concluded with a $300 buy-in tournament that will offer $40,000 in guaranteed money.

Seminole Hard Rock Poker Fun in the Sun Poker Open

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, known to be a popular poker destination, will host an exciting festival in sunny Florida in the days between December 26 and December 30. Players will be able to enter six different tournaments, with those featuring different structures.

The two-day $250 No-Limit Hold’em Big Stack with $50,000 in guaranteed prize money will be the opening event. There will also be two tournaments with guaranteed prize pools of $25,000, a $350 No-Limit Hold’em Bounty and a $250 No-Limit Hold’em Big Stack. Fans of Deep Stack Turbo poker will be offered the opportunity to enter two such tournaments in the days between Christmas and New Year festivities. Both events will be $130 buy-in ones and will feature guaranteed prize pools of $15,000.

Dutch Open Poker Series

Holland Casino in the Dutch city of Breda will welcome players from here and there for a nice post-Christmas and pre-New Year festival. Dutch Open Poker Series action at the hosting gambling venue is set to begin on December 27 and to last all the way through December 30. As many as six tournaments are scheduled to take place within the series’ Breda stop.

A €250 No-Limit Hold’em Steal the Button event will open the festival at Holland Casino. There will also be a Deepstack Bounty event with a buy-in of €800 as well as a Turbo and a team event with buy-ins of €400 and €500, respectively. The Main Event will kick off on December 28 with a buy-in of €1,500.

German Poker Tour – Christmas Edition

The Christmas Edition of the German Poker Tour is set to take place on December 25-30 at King’s Casino Rozvadov. The festival will feature five tournaments and several satellites to the Main Event. The German Poker Tour will kick off with the €115 Christmas Deepstack with a guaranteed prize pool of €20,000.

The German Poker Tour Main Event with a buy-in of €299 will certainly be the most exciting tournament on the schedule. It will feature a guaranteed prize pool of €200,000. The event will take place from December 26 to December 30. It will include three starting flights and two more days of action.

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Casinos Pay Price for Unusually Stormy Year, as Mother Nature Lets Loose in 2017
Casinos Pay Price for Unusually Stormy Year, as Mother Nature Lets Loose in 2017

Casinos across the US and its territories, as well as in Macau, bore the wrath of Mother Nature over the past 12 months. In the end, it was gambling revenues that took the hit, as numerous Cat 4 and 5 hurricanes and typhoons pummeled both the American and Asian gaming markets in 2017.

mother nature casinos damage Macau

Macau was hit hard by mother nature this past fall, with August’s Typhoon Hato causing severe damage. It was but one of a series of catastrophes that left its mark on the casino industry globally. (Image: Anthony Wallace/Getty)

Casino closures, guest room cancellations, and inaccessibility following storm damage were among the factors that caused the industry to feel the pain at the bottom line this past year.

The Thunder Roared

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was hyperactive, with six major Category 3 or stronger storms hitting the US, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean. Over 420 people died, and final damage estimates are predicted to be close to $200 billion across the board.


The first major hurricane this year to make landfall in the US was Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm that hit Texas and the Houston area in late August. While the hurricane devastated much of southeastern Texas, riverboat casinos located in nearby Lake Charles, Louisiana, were spared.

Despite being docked in Galveston, the Jacks or Better casino cruise ship got lucky. Just 50 miles southeast of Houston on the Gulf of Mexico, the company, not necessarily advisedly, resumed providing gambling tours just days after much of the state endured a Category 4 hurricane.


Almost at the exact time that Harvey was doing damage in Houston, over 8,000 miles away in Macau, Typhoon Hato was delivering massive blows to China’s special gaming enclave in August.

The storm was the strongest to hit Macau in 53 years. Ten people died, and Hato caused almost $2 billion in damage in South China. The storm closed casinos and caused delays to the MGM Cotai , which is now expected to open its doors in January.

Executives from the six licensed casino companies in Macau, which will begin seeing permits expire as of 2020, stepped up to help aid in the city’s recovery. Combined, the six operators donated $26.7 million to Macau charities. Las Vegas Sands and its founder Sheldon Adelson led the way, with a $12.3 million pledge. Wynn Resorts gave $3.75 million to Macau, and another $3.75 million to Houston’s Harvey, an altruistic move, considering there are no legal land-based casinos in Texas.

US Takes a Hit


Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm that was deemed the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin outside the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, hit landfall in the US in early September. The storm pummeled towards Florida, but casinos and parimutuel tracks fared well.

Many gambling venues provided electricity and a climate-controlled escape, as power was slow to be restored in the southern part of the steamy and warm Sunshine State.


The final bad weather chapter in 2017 was devastating. Category 5 Maria targeted Puerto Rico, and made landfall on September 20. The storm caused catastrophic damage, and led to a humanitarian crisis, as hundreds of thousands went without fresh water, fuel, electricity, phone service, and other vital basic necessities for weeks.

Casino resorts across the island were closed for days after the storm, but began reopening in the weeks following Maria.

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