Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sydney Star City Casino workers vote to strike - 22nd December 2009

Staff at Sydney's Star City casino have voted to take industrial action over pay, frustrated over a two per cent rise offered by management.

The LHMU hospitality union says staff in the next few days are likely to decide exactly what action to take and when.

"Star City staff have decided on strike action because they are frustrated by the casino's unfair wage offer and management's refusal to listen to them," LHMU NSW branch secretary Mark Boyd said in a statement on Tuesday night.

"The casino put its offer to a vote of all staff in September and earlier this month. Star City staff voted overwhelmingly `no' twice to the casino's unfair pay offer.

"Star City is refusing to listen to its staff who just want a decent pay rise and don't want to lose any of their conditions.

"The decision to consider action is not taken lightly but staff feel it is their last resort."

Mr Boyd said $575 million was being spent renovating the venue, its top executives were paid $2.6 million and the casino's last quarter revenue was up 11.6 per cent.

No one was available for comment at Star City on Tuesday night. (Credit: Wires, Google News, AP)

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Gatto asked to fix $6.25m dispute after mates fall out, by Vanda Carson - The Sydney Morning Herald - 22nd December 2009

Underworld figure Mick Gatto was called in to help settle a $6.25 million dispute between the colourful developer and high-roller gambler Harry Kakavas and the millionaire Gold Coast property developer Jarrod McCracken.

Details of the meeting in 2007 between Mr McCracken, the former rugby league player-turned-developer and the Carlton Crew boss Mr Gatto emerged as part of a sensational NSW Supreme Court lawsuit triggered by the bitter falling out between the two Gold Coast property tycoons, who were once best mates.

Mr McCracken travelled to Melbourne and met Mr Gatto, who he believed was ''very friendly'' with Mr Kakavas, in an attempt to encourage Mr Kakavas to repay the money, lent in a handshake deal.

But even Mr Gatto was not convincing enough to coerce Mr Kakavas to repay the money, which he had lost in gambling sprees at the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas and at Crown in Melbourne.

About $500,000 of the money was lost when Mr Kakavas bet on the AFL and NRL grand finals.

*Read full article.

(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Carl Icahn Moves to Control Trump Resorts - 11th December 2009

Carl C. Icahn, the investor, agreed to buy most of Trump Entertainment Resorts’ bank debt, pitting Mr. Icahn against a bondholders’ reorganization plan for the casino operator. Mr. Icahn leads a group that will buy a secured loan from the Beal Bank, which is first in line among creditors, and agreed to back the lender’s reorganization plan for Trump Entertainment, according to a statement Friday. Trump Entertainment’s three casinos filed for bankruptcy protection for the third time in February, blaming a high debt load and falling revenue. The founder, Donald Trump, and his daughter, Ivanka, dropped Beal as a partner last month and backed a bondholder plan that would give him up to 10 percent of the reorganized company.

“Despite the current problems in Atlantic City I continue to have great faith in the city’s future,” Mr. Icahn said in the statement. The competing plan “is a roll of the dice to releverage these operations, which may well turn into a round-trip ticket to bankruptcy court,” he said. Beal Bank is based in Plano, Tex. Trump Entertainment, based in Atlantic City, owns the Trump Taj Mahal Resort, the Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino and the Trump Marina Hotel Casino.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Melco Crown says no plans to raise equity - 9th December 2009

HONG KONG - Macau casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment does not plan to raise capital through the equity market, but will refinance its debt through bonds and bank loans by the middle of 2010, its chief financial officer said on Wednesday.

Melco Crown, a joint venture between Hong Kong-listed Melco International Development Ltd. and Australia's Crown Ltd , would be able to "carry comfortably" $US1.5 to 2 billion ($A1.65 to 2.2 billion) of debt on its balance sheet, CFO Simon Dewhurst told Reuters in an interview.

Melco Crown's stock has nearly halved since it hit its highest level in more than a year on September 23 on concerns about potential fund-raising. In contrast shares of Galaxy Entertainment Group slipped 8.2 per cent in the period.

Macau casino revenues could rise 20 to 25 per cent by the end of 2010 from 2009 levels, on the back of strong economic growth in neighbouring China, Dewhurst said.

"If we assume that China is growing at 10 per cent year-on-year, the gaming industry in Macau will grow for the next 20 years at 20 per cent," Dewhurst said. "I have never found a better proxy for consumer behaviour in China than the Macau gambling story."

Crown shares closed 1.76 lower to $7.79, against a 0.70 per cent decline in the benchmark index. (Credit: Wires, Google News, Reuters, Fairfax)

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Tatweer to Create world's First Marvel Super Heroes Theme Park - 21st April 2008

Tatweer to Create world's First Marvel Super Heroes Theme Park

4.5 Million Sq Ft Development to be Built in Dubailand.

Tatweer, a member of Dubai Holding, today announced a landmark deal with US-based Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: MVL), the creators of such globally renowned Super Heroes as Spider-Man, The X- Men, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk, to develop the region's first Super Heroes theme park at the world's largest leisure, tourism and entertainment destination.

Allocated within DUBAILAND(R), the Marvel Super Heroes theme park will be one of its key anchor..

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

James Packer defends casino industry at Crown AGM - 28th October 2009

James Packer has criticised "one-sided" media reporting about gambling advising his casinos make a great contribution to the community and business.

"Next time you read an unbalanced story about your casinos and their impact on the community, stop and think about the other side of the story" he advised the annual general meeting of Crown. "The one that rarely gets reported". "That is, of the contribution Crown makes to tourism, to employment, to training, to urban development, to community partnerships and to government revenues. Contributions that make us fundamentally different to many pubs and clubs."

Chief executive Rowen Craigie advised "While a few domestic customer segments continue to exhibit some signs of softness - and in particular I refer to some corporate events and corporate hotel bookings - these impacts have been offset by growth in other customer segments such as consumer and leisure bookings". "There are indications that the business environment in Macau is improving. We see long term potential for the Macau market growth given its exposure to China."

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*The Media Man Australia founder and director does hold shares in Crown Limited

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Platinum HD Profile

Mission Statement

To be the World's No 1 property, tourism and lifestyle online production network.

Our Aim

Platinum HD (Propvid Queensland) is a team of Cinematographers with a passion for making films that work. Anybody can shoot video. Platinum HD (Propvid Queensland) makes films people watch. Since opening in a two-car garage on the Gold Coast in 2006, PlatiumHD (Propvid Queensland) has grown to become an online TV network with offices in Broadbeach and West End, with a reach from the Sunshine Coast to Tweed Heads and a capacity to shoot anywhere, anytime. Platinum HD (Propvid Queensland) shoots seven days a week, from first light to last light. Our Crew has produced over 6,000 films on property and lifestyle in South East Queensland and have no intention of stopping anytime soon.


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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Packer's game spot on, by Terry McCrann - Herald Sun - 14th October 2009

Understanding James Packer and judging his success or failure - present and future - turns entirely on understanding that he has made two big strategic calls.

One was to exit 20th century media - free-to-air TV and magazines. To exit them, self-evidently, in Australia but, for what it's ever worth, the decision applies globally.

It was a decision that developed from the late 1990s, so that he was able, brutally but clinically, to hit the ground running on the death of his father.

The second was to go long 21st century China. At core, seeking to ride exactly the same long wave as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, indeed as Australia overall.

But via a very different path. It was - is - of course, his real first (business) love: gaming. And in the only available place, Macau.

Indeed, when you think it through, Packer is really aiming to sell a sophisticated consumer product into the fastest rising disposable incomes on the planet, of some 1.3 billion people. With all the pluses - and very real competitive risks - that entails.

Now, that is 'first love' in a very different way to his late father Kerry or his mentor in this space, the man who in effect built him his money-making Xanadu on the Yarra, Lloyd Williams. For James it is all about the certainty and mind-bogglingly fine detail of the mathematics.

Understand this and you begin to understand where he is going and the dynamics of that journey. And why the US gaming plays that were the focus of the ABC's 45-minute advertisement for Paul Barry's new book were an extremely costly, if instructive, diversion.

Even accounting the $1.5 billion apparently lost cold and extraordinarily rapidly in the US (and Canada and the UK), Packer's combined media and gaming corporate empire has outperformed almost all his relevant peers on his unqualified watch.

As I explained yesterday, the package of value from the old Packer PBL company had increased by $1.20 (down to 97 yesterday) since the death of Kerry on Boxing Day 2005.

This gave shareholders a positive 5.8 per cent TSR (total shareholder return). That's the total over the four years, not per year as I incorrectly wrote in haste yesterday. This compared to a 19.5 per cent negative TSR for Packer's media peer group and an even worse 26.9 per cent negative TSR for the gaming peer group.

The reason was, of course, the spectacular sale of the Nine Network for $5.5 billion - netting him $4.5 billion after the $1 billion he had to reinvest in the network and subsequently lose.

There is just no way to describe this other than as a spectacular coup, spectacularly timed - late in 2006, just as the subprime crisis was starting its slow bubble towards the surface in the US.

Even if you set off the $1.5 billion he would lose in the US against the $4.5 billion, the 'net' was still $3 billion. That's still almost as much as Kerry Stokes got for following him in selling half the Seven Network, just as it was toppling Nine from its long dominance of ratings and advertising dollars.

In short, Packer sold a rapidly depreciating asset beyond the top of the market, exploiting the global financial whiz-kiddery in its dying days! And the deal was even better than it looked.

Why? Because Packer kept the key stakes in Foxtel (25 per cent) and Fox Sports (50 per cent).

Two things are significant about that. It's at least another $1 billion of value - depending how the NBN arm-wrestle plays out, maybe even $2 billion. So his net value out of media was really more like $5.5 billion to $6.5 billion. Secondly, he very deliberately kept what he sees as the 21st century media business. He thinks Foxtel/Fox Sports is the best media business in Australia.

So why did he bend over and sue for peace with the other Kerry; indeed letting him, albeit by proxy, into his media company's boardroom? And did it signify he had a loose affiliation even with Foxtel?

Actually, no. What tended to slip under the radar with the 'mogul peace deal' is that Stokes agreed to 'stand-still' - to not buy any more shares in Packer's Consolidated Media for a year. But Packer did not.

Following the ConsMedia buyback, Stokes' stake goes to 22 per cent, while Packer's will go to a tick over 45 per cent.

Stokes can't buy any more for 12 months. But Packer can and will. He can buy 3 per cent every six months. As the time expires on Stokes' standstill, Packer will move above 50.1 per cent and unchallengable control.

There is no way he will sell out of his remaining - 21st century - media. Unless Stokes or somebody else (it would have to be from another planet) offers him a very silly price. Then the cold-blooded mathematical Packer would kick in.

2 There is no way he is going to 'share' Foxtel with Stokes. He has handcuffed Stokes and in 12 months he could resume hostilities from a position of unchallengable ascendency.

In short, he has moved to 'correct' the mistake he made when he opened the front door by 'selling out' of Nine without bolting the back door to the ConsMedia register. And he's doing, incidentally, the same thing at Crown. He's already started 'creeping' to the same 50.1 per cent.

In short also, the simple fact is that his media plays have been an unqualified success. He has created extraordinary value - in the form of very real (that is, Aussie) dollars.

He has paid for his US mistakes. And he has kept his position in 21st century media, alongside the businessman he most admires and the country's, for the moment, dominant telco.

That leaves judgment on his big 21st century play: China. It is as simplistic to judge that on the basis of what might be happening in Macau this year, as it would be to conclude that the lower prices BHP And Rio were getting this year 'proved' China was a dud for them.

Yes, there might be indigestion in Macau; yes, the Chinese government can play games with visas.

But Macau is very different to Las Vegas. It's the only game in town - until, if, the Chinese allow it in Beijing and Shanghai. And it sits next to 1.3 billion people with rising incomes; against Vegas with 300 million people with falling incomes. (Credit: Herald Sun)

Read the full article here

Media Man Australia - Greg Tingle comments

Mr Packer has investments in a range of business verticals... old media, new media and the hotel, casino and resort sector (both in Australia and abroad), thus spreading risk

Crown Casino is Australia's most profitable casino

Mr Packer and his team appear to have played "politics" correctly with both the Australian / Victorian government as well as the Chinese government

New media investments that Mr Packer's Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL) made that performed impressively include Seek, Carsales, and Foxtel

Gambling is one form of entertainment. Crown Casino, Burswood Entertainment Centre and City Of Dreams have been successful in securing numerous world class entertainment acts, performing artists and the like. Crown Casino and City Of Dreams have developed into major tourist destinations and provide substantial employment

Crown Limited is still in business, while many competitors on a global scale went out of business or are currently going into bankruptcy

Media Man Australia director and founder, Greg Tingle, owns shares in Crown Limited

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why James is still on a roll, by Terry McCrann - 14th October 2009

There is one simple all-encompassing measure of James Packer's performance since he assumed absolute responsibility for - he already had control of - the family fortune, when 'Big Kerry' died on Boxing Day just under four years ago.

It is also the single most important measure: How have he and his fellow shareholders done?

When the market closed for Christmas back then, the share price of the Packers' then PBL company was $16.61.

Somewhat over-excited observers suggested it would reopen post-Christmas and post-Kerry as much as 10 per cent lower. In the event it dropped 20.

Well those shareholders now have a package of value adding to around $17.80 per old PBL share. They are $1.20 a share better off under James Packer's sole stewardship.

It's simple, it's clear, it's undeniable. It captures all the pluses and minuses and finishes with a significant net plus.

First up James split PBL into two companies - Crown, to hold the gaming interests and Consolidated Media for the 'old' Packer business. Investors were given one share in each of the new companies for each PBL share plus a special $3 dividend.

So today's value package comprises the $9.19 market price for a Crown share, $3.08 for a ConsMedia share, $3 for the demerger dividend, $2.13 in accumulated normal dividends since then and 38 for theoretical interest earned on those dividends.

Now in isolation an extra $1.20 over four years mightn't sound much. But it came through a little event called the Global Financial Crisis.

In that context, what's called the 'Total Shareholder Return' or TSR delivered to investors in the Packer empire of plus 5.8 per cent per year over the four years is very impressive. Just about everybody else outside the resources sector would be negative.

Compared to its peers, the performance of the - to stress, James - Packer empire is spectacular. And it is very important to note, that it has two sets of peers - the gaming sector and the media sector.

Why important? Because it is the combination and the type of media which is key to understanding James' success to date and the plays he is making into the 21st century. In both spaces.

It is also fundamentally his corporate empire. It reflects his choices and his strategic and tactical decisions. The biggest of course, the exactly perfectly timed sale of the Nine Network just 10 months after Kerry's death.

Investment bank UBS has done the numbers. They show a media average (of Seven, Ten, Fairfax, WAN and NewsCorp) TSR of minus 19.5 per cent a year since Kerry's death.

While the gaming average (using Tabcorp and a clutch of US-based groups), produces minus 26.9 per cent a year TSR.

Just to emphasise the difference: the Packer package grew by 5.8 per cent a year over the four years; the media and gaming peers went not just backwards, but significantly backwards.

Full article here (Credit:

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Play on the Biggest Monopoly Board Ever

Monopoly City Streets will incorporate Google Maps in an online version of the famed board game.

US, September 8, 2009 - EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. - Have you ever wanted to own the entire street where you live? Starting tomorrow (September 9), aspiring MONOPOLY moguls can take over the globe with MONOPOLY CITY STREETS, a limited-time online free version of the world's most popular board game that allows players to "buy" streets based on Google Maps, competing against participants all over the world.

The MONOPOLY CITY STREETS instant-play online platform brings MONOPOLY to life by letting competitors play with the actual streets that are special to them. including their very own neighborhood, town or city. Or, players can choose to set up their property empire in a city where they would like to own property. It's easy to get started -- players create a profile on and begin to acquire properties each day through purchases and trades. Each player starts the game with $3 million MONOPOLY dollars and earns rent based on streets and properties owned at the time competitors log into the game.

Each street in the world is available for purchase by only one player, increasing the opportunity for trading and interaction among players. Players can instantly set up houses, hotels, skyscrapers and other buildings quickly after acquiring streets to increase property values.

The online game is launching in celebration of the release of MONOPOLY CITY, a new board game where players build a 3-D city in the center of the game board. For the first time since MONOPOLY was invented in 1935, game play has changed, removing the need to collect an entire property group before players can build structures on their properties, so a city can be built from the ground up from the first roll of the dice. Additionally, just like in real life, the value of property and players' incomes can rise and fall. Players can build structures to increase property values, such as schools or eco-friendly wind farms, or they can sabotage opponents by building sewage plants or prisons on the competition's property.

"The online experience for MONOPOLY CITY STREETS emphasizes the exciting dealing and negotiating elements of MONOPOLY," said Sarah Hoskin, Senior Marketing Manager for U.S. Marketing at Hasbro Games. "Both MONOPOLY CITY STREETS and MONOPOLY CITY bring new creativity to MONOPOLY that goes beyond the traditional property streets, green houses and red hotels."

MONOPOLY CITY STREETS will launch online in English, French, Spanish, Dutch and German on September 9, 2009. MONOPOLY CITY will be available at mass retail stores nationwide in Fall for the approximate retail price of $34.99. The board game includes more than 80 3-D buildings, district property cards, MONOPOLY money, "Chance" and "Dodge Rent" cards, and a Trading unit that requires two AAA batteries.


Since 1935, more than 250 million copies of MONOPOLY have been sold in 106 countries and 40 languages. More than 200 different editions of the game have been published, but the most popular continues to be the classic "Number Nine." Affectionately known by its original product number, "Number Nine" is based on the streets of Atlantic City and is nearly identical to Charles Darrow's original submission to Parker Brothers. The MONOPOLY name and logo, the distinctive design of the game board, the four corner squares, the MR. MONOPOLY name and the character, as well as each of the distinctive elements of the board and playing pieces are trademarks of Hasbro for its property trading game and game equipment. (C) 2009 Hasbro, All Rights Reserved.

About Hasbro

Hasbro, Inc. is a worldwide leader in children's and family leisure time products and services with a rich portfolio of brands and entertainment properties that provides some of the highest quality and most recognizable play and recreational experiences in the world. As a brand-driven, consumer-focused global company, Hasbro brings to market a range of toys, games and licensed products, from traditional to high-tech and digital, under such powerful brand names as TRANSFORMERS, PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, TIGER, CRANIUM and WIZARDS OF THE COAST. Come see how we inspire play through our brands at (C) 2009 Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



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Monday, September 07, 2009

Platinum HD Propvid Queensland Website Updated




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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

James Packer's Consolidated Media Holdings Head Office Sells For $50m

Mr Packer's CMH has sold its Sydney head office for $50 million.

ConsMedia issues a statement to the ASX earlier today that it had entered into a contract to sell its Park Street property for $50 million.


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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Click Your Way To A New Home

Play an online game, win a house. It sure may sound too good to be true, but it is indeed a legitimate offer being made by a new website called

How Does Play4Property Work? -

Participants wanting to try to win the available house for that period simply register at the site, pay a $35 entry fee, and play a game of skill called “Spot the Ball”. In the game, players are presented with a picture of people playing a sport, like soccer. In the picture the ball has been digitally removed. The people in the photo are looking at where the ball used to be - and players have to determine the precise spot where the ball is and place a virtual pin as close to the exact middle of the invisible ball as possible to win. When the competition ends on the announced date, the Play4Property’s legal team and sports experts analyze the submissions to determine which participant’s pin is placed closest to the precise center of the ball.

The value of the available house depends on the amount collected in entry fees and is based upon the number of players who have competed in the game for that property. Properties can range in value up to $5 million.

There are actually two types of competitions people can enter at the site. The main competition, describe above, or players can try the Instant Win competition for just $7.50 per play. In Instant Win, if a player picks the exact co-ordinates of the ball, he/she instantly wins a prize, like a laptop.

Anthony Davis,’s Managing Director, says that the odds of winning at his site are around 1 in 15,000. That’s much better than the chances of winning the lottery-about 1 in 120 million. And unlike the lottery, this game actually requires the player to think. “It’s not all about luck”, Davis says, “which makes it much more fun to play.”

But the game isn’t just for those hoping to win a new house. Sellers can also use the site to market their home. Instead of wondering about buyers’ financing or dealing with annoying open houses, sellers can contact Play4Property, simply upload a description of the house and some photos, and their property can begin being viewed worldwide.

For more information go to: or call (954) 821-3293

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Crown's Macau joint venture raises $237m - 14th August 2009

Casinos operator Crown said that its joint-venture business in Macau, Melco Crown Entertainment, had successfully conducted a $US200 million ($237 million) equity placement.

The size of the placement will increase to $US220 million if an over-allotment option is exercised.

Crown said that following the Melco Crown placement, Crown's ownership interest in Melco Crown would be diluted from 36.4 per cent to 33.5 per cent, assuming full exercise of the over-allotment option.

Melco Crown is jointly owned by Hong Kong-listed Melco International Development Ltd and Crown.

Melco International is substantially owned and led by Lawrence Ho.

Melco Crown operates the Altira Macau (formerly Crown Macau) and the City of Dreams casino resort. The company's operations also includes the Mocha Clubs, which have about 1,500 gaming machines across eight locations.

Mr Ho said in a statement that year-on-year growth in gaming revenues for the whole of the Macau market had re-emerged in July 2009, following soon after the successful opening of City of Dreams at the start of June.

"We are confident that a period of growth at sustainable levels is ahead of us, and we continue to remain absolutely focused on the opportunities that this will present to our company,'' Mr Ho said.

"The placement funds raised will better position us to be able to pursue future development opportunities while at the same time maintaining our rigorous approach to balance sheet prudence.''

Crown shares were down 19 cents at $7.33 at 3.31pm (AEST).

Crown rolls a winner - 15th August 2009

Casino operator Crown's joint venture in Macau, Melco Crown Entertainment, has successfully conducted a $US200 million ($A238 million) equity placement.

The placement will increase to $US220 million if an over-allotment option is exercised.

Crown said yesterday that following the Melco Crown placement, its interest in Melco Crown would be diluted from 36.4 per cent to 33.5 per cent, assuming full exercise of the over-allotment option.

Melco Crown is jointly owned by Crown and Hong Kong-listed Melco International Development. Melco International is substantially owned and led by Lawrence Ho.

Melco Crown operates the Altira Macau (formerly Crown Macau) and the City of Dreams casino resort.

Mr Ho said that year-on-year growth in gaming revenues for the whole of the Macau market had revived in July 2009.

Crown shares closed down 19¢ at $7.33.


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Friday, August 14, 2009

$240m raising on cards for Packer casino - (AFR Abstract) - 13th August 2009

Melco Crown is trying to lower its debt from the City of Dreams complex in Macau through a $A240 million capital raising. The complex has started slowly since its 1 June 2009 opening. The company's casinos are suffering lower-than-expected patronage and a lower house-win rate. Crown shares closed slightly down on 12 August 2009 at $A7.24 (Credit: Australian Financial Review)


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Packer shocks with surprise resignation, by Carolyn Cummins - Fairfax - 14th August 2009

James Packer has surprised the market with his resignation yesterday from the Gold Coast-based property developer, Sunland Group, which is currently embroiled in court action regarding a former employee in Dubai.

Having paid about $70 million for an 11 per cent stake in the group in March 2006, Mr Packer is currently sitting on a paper loss of $43.5 million. Sunland closed 8c to 71c yesterday, but there was no sign of any large scale selling.

The Herald asked Mr Packer's office if his resignation was related to the Dubai controversy.

A spokesman said: "It is not Mr Packer's policy to comment on matters relating to his investments."

In a short statement to the ASX yesterday Sunland said "Mr Packer has resigned from the board effective immediately".

In response to the Herald's call Sahba Abedian, Sunland's managing director said: "It is business as usual at the Sunland Group and yesterday's resignation by Mr Packer will not cause any disruption to the business".

"Sunland has a very strong board with a depth of talent and experience that has successfully guided the company for 25 years, and will continue to do so," Mr Abedian said.

Mr Packer joined the board as a non-executive director in March 2006, at the time when Sunland, like all property developers, were riding high on the market boom.

He bought 37.5 million securities through his private Cavalane Holdings, a wholly owned subsidiary of Consolidated Press Holdings, in July 2006, at an average entry price of $1.87. On June 3 this year, Sunland hit a low of 29c as the full impact of the global financial crisis hit.

Since that time, the market has staged a turnaround with the price moving back towards its early 2000 level.

At the time of his appointment, Mr Packer said he had "enthusiastically watched its (Sunland) growth over recent times".

"CPH wishes to take a strategic position in the group recognising Sunland's domestic achievements and international potential in the property, tourism and leisure sector," Mr Packer said in 2006.

It was widely assumed that Mr Packer would look to open a casino in one of Sunland's proposed Dubai projects. (Credit: Fairfax)

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Packer casinos bet on beds to get them out of the red, by Vanda Carson - The Sydney Morning Herald - 8th August 2009

James Packer's Macau casino joint venture hopes to turn around the ailing fortunes of its two casinos by encouraging more of its visitors to stay and gamble until the early hours of the morning, when profitability is at its peak.

In announcing Melco Crown Entertainment's second-quarter earnings yesterday, the chief financial officer, Simon Dewhurst, told analysts the company planned to entice gamblers to spend more at the tables to reverse the slide of the past year.

The Nasdaq-listed company posted a loss of $US24 million ($29 million) in the three months to the end of June - compared with a profit of $US36 million in the period last year - due to a slump in visitors to Macau, a lower house win rate and fewer VIPs at its baccarat tables.

The company owns the Altira casino, which opened in May 2007, and the larger City of Dreams, which opened in June.

Over the past three months, the average amount of money won by the house on table games at the Altira casino was half what it was a year ago. The average house win each day was $US10,800 a table in the three months to June, compared with $US22,600 in the three months to June last year.

The overall result was below analysts' expectations, but Mr Dewhurst said he was hopeful that earnings would improve as the new City of Dreams casino became established and the economy picked up.

He said the opening next month of the 800-room Grant Hyatt Macau as part of the City of Dreams complex would likely boost gambling turnover, and that he expected a 20 per cent rise in the ''efficiency'' of gamblers.

Casinos give gamblers hotel rooms free because it directly boosts gambling revenue by allowing them to play through the night. The new rooms would ''ensure the gambling floor stays busy from midnight until 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning'', he said.

Casinos try to encourage gamblers to play at baccarat tables for long periods of time because it increases the house win rate. ''If someone buys in and sits for three hours, rather than one hour, it generates a higher hold percentage,'' Mr Dewhurst said.

The "hold" percentage - or casino win rate - on mass-market table games at City of Dreams would rise as loyalty to the casino, and the number of hotel rooms, increased, he said, adding that the house win rate could rise from its current 16 per cent to 21 per cent.

The City of Dreams has 600 hotel rooms, half of which are used to entice high rollers to visit and a further 150 of which are used as incentives for players on the lower-end, mass-market casino floor.

The company declared a bad-debt provision of $US4 million after a pair of high rollers did not repay money they had been lent by Altira to bet at the casino.

Mr Dewhurst said doubtful debts were "a function of our business - we have to manage them as best we can". (Credit: Fairfax)

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Aussie gambling gossip from the Media Man - 8th August 2009

What a week its been. Australian self confessed pathological gambler, Harry Kakavas "unlucky" streak continues. If anyone could vouch its a casino economy, it would be him. Thus far unsuccessful in his bit to sue Melbourne's Crown Casino. Kakavas company based on the Gold Coast has been giving the corporate doctor. Challenger Managed Investments have appointed John Park and Mark Korda of KordaMentha as receiver managers. Incidental, Part is also looking after the matters for former gaming and IT whiz kid cum tsar, Daniel Tzvetkoff. Yes folks, the higher they climb, the further they fall, especially in the casino circles if these latest turn of events are anything to judge by. In the meantime north of Australia's Gold Coast, up Las Vegas and Atlantic City way Donald Trump is looking to rescue, and no doubt, resurrect, his Trump Casino empire. Trump's peers such as Steve Wynn are said to not want a bar of igaming involvement (bit of a threat to the bricks and mortar Stevo?), while Harrah's Entertainment boss (formally PartyGaming chief), Mitch Garber, is very confident and excited about rolling out at least some of what he knows works for his Harrah's hotel-casino-resort chain. We here at Media Man like this Mitch fella. Sound like he might be open to some b2b and World Casino Directory and multi currency casino listing proposals. Rumours are circulating that some of the Vegas top brass has been observing one Aussie companies b2b dealings with James Packer's long time UK connection - Aspers, including Aspers online ventures. Aspers Damian Aspinall, is finding it impossible to live down his series of high profile dates with Australia's "Body" Elle MacPherson. Speaking of rumoured power couples, or at least, "power pairings" (not to implicate the potentially innocent.. doubt it), Bodog founder Calvin Ayre has been spotted with igaming pr and communications queen, Rebecca Liggero. Ms Liggero is said to have some positive and spicy history with Ayre, and last week our miss was officially placed in a role to help along the Bodog empire rebuild, or global expansion, depending of the sources you care to believe. PartyGaming remains in the party hard - happy days mode at the moment with their CEO Jim Ryan reporting that their and brands are performing well, and that their recent purchase of Cashcade (including the famed Foxy Bingo) are on track. Party keep teasing rising poker and casino babe, Paris Hilton with public press releases, however our precious Paris is yet to sign the bottom line. Maybe she's waiting on Sexy Poker (banned in Australia) to call. Not to be outdone, Nicki Hilton has been hanging out considerable with our main man, WSOP legend, Doyle Brunson. Hilton's said to have injected some new life into "the father of poker". The Bondi Beach igaming crew are wondering when Holly Branson, daughter of business tycoon, Sir Richard Branson, will one again grace their shows. Sir Richard who also heads up Virgin Games might take a liking to Berg's Gaming on location at the Bondi Icebergs, said to be previous visited by the power pairing, and Paris Hilton of course! Whatever the case, its sure been a hot and eventful few weeks in the casino sector, from court cases, to buyouts, casino babes, not to mention the new poker bill happenings in Washington. CAP, PAP and PPA took no time to publish their spin on things and subsequent press releases, and these developments are strongly rumoured to be on the radar of Australia's Parliament House, including the office of gaming and racing (who have plenty of their own in house problems to contend with). Stay tuned to for the latest and hottest news from the gambling world, as we scour the universe for the news you need to know.

Gambling man in more strife, by Shannon Willoughby - The Gold Coast Bullentin - 8th August 2009

The man who is suing Melbourne's Crown Casino for $30 million is facing his own financial setback on the Gold Coast.

A company directed by self-confessed pathological gambler Harry Kakavas has moved into the hands of the corporate doctor after it failed to meet its financial commitments.

Elite Property Investments Group Pty Ltd, which owns and runs a commercial property in Broadbeach, is understood to owe its mortgagee millions.

The appointment comes as Mr Kakavas awaits a judge's decision over a legal stoush involving him and Melbourne's Crown Casino.

Mr Kakavas is suing Crown for $30 million plus damages over claims it lured him to the tables, despite knowing he was a banned gambler.

Elite Property Investment's mortgagee, Challenger Managed Investments, appointed John Park and Mark Korda of KordaMentha as receiver managers.

Mr Park said the debt remained confidential but The Bulletin understands it is in the millions.

Mr Kakavas's company paid $9.35 million for the mid-rise on Queensland Avenue in 2005.

Mr Park, who is also the liquidator for a company controlled by embattled IT tycoon Daniel Tzvetkoff, said there was a possibility they could sell the property.

"We are assessing the tenancy mix at the moment and looking at the best strategy for realisation of the property," he said. "We are assessing the quality of the product (before we decide if its going to go to the market)."

The former king of Hedges Avenue -- a name Mr Kakavas was crowned after his prolific buying and selling along 'millionaires row' -- declined to comment.

The judgment over his court case is expected to be handed down within months, with final submissions being heard on August 17.

Mr Kakavas alleges the casino giant seduced him on to the tables knowing he was a self-confessed problem gambler. He is alleging negligence, unconscionable conduct and breaches of the Casino Control Act by Crown Casino.

He claims he banned himself from the casino but said he was lured back with VIP treatment.

The former property developer claims to have turned over more than $1.4 billion during a 14-month gambling binge across Australia from June 2005.

He is also suing the casino's chief operating officer John Williams. Mr Kakavas claims Mr Williams lured him back with VIP treatment.

Mr Kakavas also alleges he was flown about 30 times on Crown's VIP jet in 2007, was regularly handed bags and boxes of cash and given a promise of a 20 per cent rebate on all losses.

Crown Casino boss Rowen Craigie, who also owns property in Hedges Avenue, is also being sued.

Mr Craigie had his Hedges Avenue mansion on the market but it has since been withdrawn. (Credit: News Limited)

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Trumped by Trump? - Bloomberg News - 5th August 2009

Trump Entertainment Resorts bondholders are preparing to challenge Donald Trump's plan to buy the bankrupt casino company and leave them with nothing.

Trump and an affiliate of Beal Bank Nevada agreed yesterday to invest $US100 million ($119 million) in the company, while Beal would postpone the maturity date of a $US486 million loan until December 2020 from 2012. Bondholders, who are owed $US1.25 billion, may argue in bankruptcy court that the deal undervalues the company, whose assets consist mainly of three casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, according to a person familiar with the situation.

``The stories of Mr. Trump's regaining control of the debtors are simply inaccurate,'' said Kristopher Hansen, co-head of the financial restructuring practice at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP in New York, who is representing bondholders. ``The plan proposed by Beal Bank and Donald Trump is not capable of confirmation for many reasons,'' Hansen said in an e-mailed statement.

Trump is attempting to recover control of the company he founded after the properties it owns ended up in bankruptcy protection a third time. Any value above the Beal loan, which ranks first for repayment, should go to bondholders, according to the person, who declined to be identified because the creditors are still discussing how to respond. Shareholders would also get nothing under Trump's offer, which requires court approval.

`Too low'

Trump's plan puts ``too low'' a valuation on the company and we ``suspect bond holders, who are second lien but are being offered nothing in this plan, will object,'' Barbara Cappaert, an analyst at high-yield research firm KDP Investment Advisors Inc. in Montpelier, Vermont, wrote in a report today. ``This will likely delay an eventual reorganization for several more months.''

Atlantic City-based Trump Entertainment filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Camden, New Jersey, on Feb. 17, days after Trump quit as chairman and said he was severing ties. At the time of the filing, the company listed assets of $US2.06 billion and debt of $US1.74 billion as of Dec. 31.

``The filing of a bankruptcy plan is standard in the restructuring process and signifies the start of a many months long process that guarantees no certain outcome,'' Hansen said.

Tom Hickey, a Trump Entertainment spokesman, declined to comment beyond yesterday's company statement.

Bondholders will ``have a very hard time proving'' the casino company is worth more than $US500 million in court, Trump, 63, said in a telephone interview today.

`Needs leadership'

``They appointed most of the board of directors and this was already sent to the board,'' Trump said. Bondholders have failed to reach their own agreement with the board, he said.

Additional capital from bondholders would be too expensive and under any plan other than his own, Beal Bank may not let Trump Entertainment extend the maturity on the loan, Trump said.

Bondholders ``want to invest money with a large amount of interest on that money, and that doesn't work,'' Trump said. ``These people have been running the company for the last three years. They put the board on, they hired everybody and look what happened. I haven't been involved in management in a long time. This is a company that needs equity investment and needs leadership.''

Trump Entertainment's $US1.25 billion of 8.5 per cent notes maturing in 2015 last traded at 12.25 cents on the dollar on July 23, according to Trace, the bond-price reporting system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The securities traded as high as 103.375 cents as recently as June 2007.

Cappaert recommends investors ``hold'' the securities because ``bondholders deserve and will earn a level of return consistent with current bond prices,'' she said in the report. (Credit: Bloomberg News)

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Trump Entertainment Resorts Enters Into Agreement to Sell Company; Files Plan of Reorganization

* Donald J. Trump and BNAC, Inc. to Invest $100 million Cash for Full Equity Ownership of Private Company

* Company and Senior Lender Agree to Amended Credit Agreement With Favorable Terms

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., Aug. 3, 2009 - Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc. (the "Company") announced today that it entered into a Purchase Agreement (the "Purchase Agreement") with Donald J. Trump ("Trump") and BNAC, Inc., an affiliate of Beal Bank Nevada, under the terms of which Trump and BNAC will invest $100 million cash in the newly private company and become its owners.

In connection with the Purchase Agreement, on August 3, 2009, the Company and its partnership subsidiary also entered into a commitment letter with Beal Bank and Beal Bank Nevada to amend and restate the Beal Credit Agreement with the Partnership in order to restructure approximately $486 million in debt. Under the amended Credit Agreement, the maturity period for the repayment is extended until December 2020 from the existing maturity of 2012.

In connection with the execution of the Purchase Agreement and the Commitment Letter to amend and reinstate the Credit Agreement, the Company filed with the Court a Disclosure Statement including a joint Plan of Reorganization (the "Plan"). The Plan is both backed by Company's management and received the approval of the Company's Board of Directors. The Plan provides for the completion of the Purchase Agreement and the restructuring of the Company's debt under the terms of the Commitment Letter. Pursuant to the Plan, no distributions will be made to the holders of the Company's outstanding equity or debt securities. The Plan is subject to confirmation by the Bankruptcy Court, customary closing conditions including regulatory approval and the consummation of the transactions contemplated by the Purchase Agreement and commitment letter relating to the amended credit agreement.

The Company's chief executive, Mark Juliano, said, "The Plan of reorganization that we filed today is a significant event for our company because it includes an adjustment to our debt and the commitment of Mr. Trump and BNAC to invest new capital. As a private enterprise under the ownership of the Trump family and BNAC, the company will be well capitalized and positioned for success, and we are hopeful for the Court's expeditious approval so that the new capital can start being invested. I am confident that this is the best proposal to provide the company with a platform for growth. I am truly excited about the future."

Commenting on a return to Atlantic City, Donald J. Trump said, "My previous investment in the company was destroyed by excessive and restrictive debt. This reorganization changes all that. I am pleased that the reorganization affords me an opportunity to make a new investment and help revive a company that has borne my name, but not performed to my standards or been under my management. My daughter Ivanka and I will work tirelessly to make this company great again. As I have done in the past, we will make Atlantic City hot once more."

Andy Beal, Beal Bank President and CEO, said, "We have a longstanding relationship with Donald Trump through previous transactions, and we are pleased to continue that relationship as he works to return Trump Entertainment Resorts to profitability and long-term success."

On February 17, 2009, the Company filed its Chapter 11 petitions for relief in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey in order to restructure the company's indebtedness and strengthen its balance sheet. The Company strongly believes that its Plan satisfies necessary requirements and is hopeful that it will be confirmed by the Court. Information regarding the Chapter 11 proceedings, including the Plan, is available at

Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc. owns, through its interest in Trump Entertainment Resorts Holdings, LP, and operates three casino resort properties: Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort and Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, located on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Trump Marina Hotel Casino, located in Atlantic City's Marina District. Mr. Trump is not involved in the Company's daily operations or management. The Company is separate and distinct from Mr. Trump's privately held real estate and other holdings.

PSLRA Safe Harbor for Forward-Looking Statements and Additional Available Information

The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides a "safe harbor" for forward-looking statements so long as those statements are identified as forward-looking and are accompanied by meaningful cautionary statements identifying important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in such statements. All statements and information concerning plans, expectations, estimates and beliefs, as well as other statements including words such as "intend," "anticipate," "believe," "plan," "estimate," "expect," will," "could," "optimistic," "can," "strategy" and other similar expressions, constitute forward-looking statements under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. In connection with certain forward-looking statements contained in this release and those that may be made in the future by or on behalf of the Company or the Issuers, the Company and the Issuers note that there are various factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in any such forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained in this release reflect the opinion of management as of the date of this release and are qualified by, and subject to, significant business, economic, competitive, regulatory and other uncertainties and contingencies, all of which are difficult or impossible to predict and many of which are beyond the control of the Company and the Issuers. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that the forward-looking statements contained in this release will be realized. Readers are hereby advised that developments subsequent to this release are likely to cause these statements to become outdated with the passage of time or other factors beyond the control of the Company and the Issuers. The Company and the Issuers do not intend, however, to update the guidance provided herein prior to its next release or unless otherwise required to do so. Readers of this release should consider these facts in evaluating the information contained herein. In light of the foregoing, readers of this release are cautioned not to place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements contained herein. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ from those contemplated by forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, the Debtors' ability to obtain Bankruptcy Court approval with respect to motions in the chapter 11 cases prosecuted by it from time to time; the ability of the Debtors to confirm and consummate the Plan or any other plan of reorganization with respect to the chapter 11 cases, the terms of the restructuring or reorganization plan ultimately implemented, the timing thereof, the related costs and expenses, and the ability of the Registrants to maintain normal relationships with its vendors, service providers and customers. The Registrants disclaim any intention or obligation to update or revise an forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events and/or otherwise. Similarly, these and other factors, including the terms of any reorganization plan ultimately confirmed, can affect the value of the Debtors' various pre-petition liabilities, common stock and/or other equity securities. Additional information concerning the potential risk factors that could affect future performance are described from time to time in the Company's periodic reports filed with the SEC, including, but not limited to, the Company's Annual Reports on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q. These reports may be viewed free of charge on the SEC's website,, or on the Company's website,

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hot Property Foxtel profile

Hot Property follows the fortunes of buyers, sellers, and renovators negotiating the challenges of the real estate game. From first home buyers to empty nesters, young singles looking to rent or DIY renovators, each week we join households around the country experiencing the joys and disappointments of creating their own domestic dreams. Presented by iconic Australian actor Michael Caton, Hot Property is as much about the people as it is about the real estate.

The series follows the trial and tribulations of going to auction; the race against the clock for a dad trying to add on a second storey before his wife gives birth to baby number three; three inspiring women share their secrets to real estate success; and there are helpful tips throughout. Join Michael as he shares in the excitement of sales as well as the disappointment.

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Harry M Miller is on the move again - 30th July 2009 - News Limited

Harry M. Miller and his partner, piemaker Simmone Logue, have listed their Potts Point apartment for sale, fuelling rumours - incorrect - that the couple are separating.

The couple want $3.5 million for their two-bedroom 1920s garden apartment in the prestigious Manar building.

Yesterday a representative for the couple confirmed the promoter and the businesswoman remained together but had chosen to spend more time living at their two rural escapes.

Miller has a retreat at Wombarra near Wollongong to which he and Logue go most weekends. Logue has a farm at Oberon, where they run horses.

Miller has listed his apartment with two agents, Jennine Leonarder-Collins and Di Jones, and is hoping to double the money he paid for the property in 2006.

He bought the then three-bedroom apartment for $1.95 million and, claim architectural sources, has spent almost $1 million converting it into an opulent two-bedder.

While daughter Lauren Miller Cilento said Miller worked three days a week, sources suggested the sale was a sign 75-year-old Miller was ready to retire.

Manar, according to an online listing of the apartment, was "sensitively contemporised to retain the ambience of splendid Georgian apartments in Paris, London and New York".

Last month Miller and Palm Island poet and singer friend Maggie Walsh appeared in these pages after being photographed dining together Darlinghurst's Tropicana Caffe.

Maybe Miller has decided it's time to give the big smoke a rest.


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NT sends casino earnings sky-high - 29th July 2009

Improved earnings at its Darwin casino has seen SkyCity Entertainment Group boost its profit forecasts for the last financial year.

Shares in the trans-Tasman company rose more than 7 per cent, up 16c to $2.46, as SkyCity upgraded its profit estimate to be between $113 million and $116 million for the year to June 30, up from $99 million to $106 million the previous year.

The company pointed to improved earnings at Darwin's Mindil Beach casino, Adelaide and Auckland for the rosy forecast.

Earnings are subject to an external audit with the full annual profit result due out on August 26.

"It has been a very pleasing fourth quarter and second half, with our operations in New Zealand and Australia performing above expectations," chief executive officer Nigel Morrison said in a statement sent to the stock exchange yesterday.

The Darwin Casino recently underwent a major redevelopment of its gaming room floor.

It also added a new upmarket restaurant - Il Piatto - and the popular Sandbar.

Mr Morrison said the Adelaide Casino was also a key performer underpinning improved results.

"It was coming off a very low base but we're very pleased with Adelaide's performance," he said.

"We're very pleased we kept Adelaide and we think it's got great potential."

The company expects its underlying and reported earnings, (EBITDA) for the 2009 year to be approximately $300 million.

SkyCity will update shareholders and investors with details of its 2009 result on August 26.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Google sparks real estate listings brawl, by Julian Lee - The Sydney Morning Herald - 27th July 2009

Google is facing the greatest challenge yet to its might in Australia as two of its largest media customers threaten to pull their business over the internet company's decision to enter the real estate listings market.

Fairfax Media and News Limited are independently weighing up whether to pull the millions of dollars they collectively spend on buying key search terms on Google following the latter's decision to list properties for sale on Google Maps.

Domain, which is owned by Fairfax, and, which is controlled by News, dominate the market for properties being searched for on the internet and the $144 million of classified advertising revenue that goes with it.

What had been a symbiotic relationship between Google and its media partners in Australia has been showing signs of strain.

In April News Corporation's chairman, Rupert Murdoch, fired the first shot, accusing Google of not paying the media for content that it was using to aggregate and sell ads against.

Google began sourcing listings from real estate aggregators such as Homehound and My Home this month and opened up the service to allow real estate agents to list their properties free on Google Maps.

Greg Ellis, the chief executive of REA Group - which operates - welcomed competition in the marketplace but added: "It will be interesting to see how Google reconciles its ability to encourage companies to purchase Adwords, buy Google Maps and DoubleClick services and then compete with those companies who currently or intend to buy these services.

"It's a discussion that should occur across the Australian internet landscape, not just within REA. We are reviewing our options. No decision has yet been made."

Lloyd Whish-Wilson, the head of Fairfax's NSW metropolitan publishing, which includes Domain's online and print properties, and the publisher of the Herald, released a short statement. "We are looking at our options at the moment. We are obviously not keen to support a would-be competitor with our revenue," it said.

At stake is a market that grew 38 per cent last year and that the analyst Frost & Sullivan forecasts will grow 23 per cent this year.

Nielsen reckons nearly half a million people a day visit property websites, with realestate and Domain accounting for nearly 90 per cent of that traffic.

But almost a third of their traffic comes via Google, Hitwise reports, which raises the question of who needs whom more? Google has 92 per cent of the search advertising market and this year is expected to book revenues close to $1 billion.

Simon Baker, chief executive of the online classified marketing specialist Classified Ad Ventures, said Google would struggle to get more than half the agents listing their properties on Google Maps. It would also find it difficult to ensure that listings were up to date and free of scammers who might target Australian property hunters with bogus listings.

Mr Baker, a former chief executive of REA, said Google might be shooting itself in the foot. Its real estate service risks undermining its core business model, which relies on selling advertising against internet search queries.

"Google is moving from being a search engine to a portal," he said. "Instead of sending you to other websites - which have paid money to be there on its listings - it is now serving up the end data itself. That then raises the question: why would you need to go to the other sites and why would they then pay Google money [for search key words].

"Google has opened up a Pandora's box of questions."

A spokeswoman for Google, Lucinda Barlow, said it had received "great feedback" about its site to date and would like to work more closely with Fairfax and REA to take its listings - which both groups are refusing to do.

"We are partners and we would like to discuss this [issue]," she said. (Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Ravesi’s awarded National AHA “2009 Best Bar Presentation and Service (Metro)”

23rd July 2009

A year after their win for Hotel Bar of the Year in 2008, A-List Party Playground Ravesi’s has won Best Bar Presentation and Service (Metro) in 2009, by the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) – at the National Awards for Excellence held Friday night, 17 July 2009.

Won jointly with The Langham, Aria Bar and Lounge in Melbourne, Ravesi’s is located at the heart of Sydney’s most alluring stretch of sand; home to Bondi’s beautiful people, fresh from the surf locals, and curious guests from across Australia and the world. Fusing together Sydney’s most famous beachside bar with stylish accommodation, casually elegant dining, and glamorous nightlife; in a seductively Sydney combination unique to Bondi’s hottest Hotel.

Ravesi’s General Manager Troy Graham, a local Bondi boy from way back, is thrilled with the win. “It’s fantastic to be recognised by the industry for the second time - especially in a national capacity.”

“Ravesi’s iconic beachside elegance and our management and staff’s attention to every detail makes Ravesi’s the perfect place to enjoy Sydney’s most incredible beachside views; backed of course, by a brilliant team of top-line hospitality professionals dedicated to the very best in service and standards. Ravesi’s has been committed to ensuring guests enjoy the very best Sydney has to offer.” he says.

A delight in any season, Ravesi’s offers an alluring winter respite, with deliciously cosy wines to warm, world-class cocktails and premium spirits. From glorious summer days to glittering and glamorous winter nights Ravesi’s casually elegant surrounds combine Bondi’s beachside cool with Sydney’s shimmering nights. A place where Bondi’s locals, A-listers, and celebrities can and do play on; Ravesi’s is at the center of Bondi’s alluring life, from day and well into the night.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Rooms for high-rollers, by Bruce Elder - The Sydney Morning Herald - 4th July 2009

Bruce Elder finds the casino's apartments are large, impressive and pricey.

Star City, Saturday night: is it, as some would have it, Sydney's 21st-century answer to William Hogarth's Gin Lane? Certainly, the whole place glows with the gaudy, luminous power of a thousand poker machines and the glassy-eyed punters are driven by the siren call of Lady Luck.

Groups of young women teeter on impossible heels at tables where dice are thrown and cards are dealt. Young men, all tats and gel, move in packs and, hunched over the machines, serious gamblers press buttons and dream of jackpots.

For a unique view of a sliver of humanity and the city's only legal casino, a night at Star City is worthwhile. Sure, you can take in a musical at the Lyric Theatre, wander across to Darling Harbour, enjoy the best of Chinatown or, with a little extra effort, make your way to the Opera House and Circular Quay. But for action and fascination, the casino is a magnet on a Saturday night. Sydney at play. Sydney trying to break the economic cycle and win a fortune. Sydney as the gleaming Emerald City.

But brace yourself for some of the highest hotel and apartment rates in Sydney.

Star City has two accommodation options: the apartment section and the hotel section. And, if you want to engage in nuances, it also has a new super-whammy section with spa baths and televisions to watch while you bubble away.

If you stay in the hotel section, which is at the western side of the complex, you can check in at reception and never have to venture anywhere near the gaming tables.

If you opt to stay in the apartment section, you will walk past the gaming area and can, if you are prepared to pay a little extra, get a view to the city skyline.

We book what is described as the "Superior City BB" with a room description promising "city skyline views". We end up gazing over Ultimo and Glebe.

None of these accommodation options are cheap. According to, the full rate for Star City rooms ranges from $580 for a Superior Pyrmont BB (which, I guess, is where we end up) to $990 for the Star Suite Escape.

Fortunately, with the website's help, I find that at the time I book, those $580 rooms can be secured for $265 during the week and $365 on a Saturday night. And a Superior City BB, which has a full rate of $610, can be had for $285 during the week and $385 on Saturdays. The new Star City Suite (full rate $990) drops to $595 during the week and is available for $745 on Saturday night.

So what do we get for $385 or, if you want to impress your friends, "What did we get when we stayed in a $610 room last Saturday night?"

The view from Room 956 is not of the city skyline but from our large balcony we can sit and watch the sun set over Anzac Bridge. The two-bedroom apartment is huge (and so are the two flat-screen televisions) and dressed in the popular decorator colours of stone and chocolate. The beds are comfortable: a king size in the main bedroom, a queen in the second bedroom.

The kitchen is designed for a stay-in evening, with a full-sized fridge, stove, microwave and decent-sized dining table. And there is a big laundry with washing, drying and ironing facilities.

Breakfast is included in the tariff but, for an extra $10 a person, we ascend from the Garden Buffet with its bain maries and hundreds of patrons to the more rarefied ambience of the Astral Restaurant on the 17th floor. It has tablecloths, which is what everyone needs for breakfast, and superb city views. On the menu is an excellent mix of bain marie and freshly cooked items and Toby's coffee. And the 24-hour valet parking for $26 adds a high-life indolence to the experience.

We had planned to indulge in the new Star Suites, part of the hotel's recent upgrade, but at $990 full rate (or $745 on Saturday night and even $595 midweek on, the suites are beyond Traveller's budget.

Even so, we're impressed by the quality of Star City's as yet unrefurbished hotel and apartments, which are ideal places to stay if you want to give your spare cash to a croupier or enjoy a musical.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.


Star City

Address 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont.

The verdict A large and comfortable hotel and apartment complex close to the city centre and ideal for those planning to enjoy the Star City facilities.

Price Rooms from $580-$990 a night but has deals as low as $199 midweek to $745 for a suite on Saturday night. Our two-bedroom apartment was $385 on a Saturday night.

Bookings Phone 1800 700 700, see

Getting there Close to public transport, at the north-western end of Darling Harbour.

Wheelchair access Yes.

While you're there Visit the excellent Maritime and Powerhouse museums and enjoy the attractions of Darling Harbour. (Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

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High-rollers fail to pitch at City of Dreams, by Vanda Carson - The Sydney Morning Herald - 4th July 2009

The City of Dreams, James Packer's latest Macau casino, has disappointed the market in its first month of trading with its lack of VIP and mass-market gamblers and its lower than expected market share.

Melco Crown Entertainment, the joint-venture company between Mr Packer's Crown and Lawrence Ho's Melco, said yesterday that rolling chip volume was $US1.94 billion ($2.4 million) in June. Rolling chip turnover is a key measure of casino profitability. It measures the number and value of chips gambled by VIPs, who are the City of Dreams's most valued and desired customers.

Shares in Melco Crown, which trade on Nasdaq, fell 3 per cent on the news on Thursday US time to close at $US4.55.

Before it opened last month, Mr Ho conceded there was a lot riding on the success of the project. He told Bloomberg it was "crucial" that the casino defied the global recession and had a successful opening.

"We know the pressure is on us," Mr Ho said. "The success of it will have major implications."

The casino is opening in the midst of both the worst global slump since World War II and as the Chinese Government tightens restrictions on the number of visits its citizens can make.

The Chinese enclave's gaming revenues have been hampered by soft economic conditions, a tighter credit environment and travel restrictions.

Across the whole of Macau revenues in June were 17 per cent lower than a year ago. Revenues also fell in May, when they dropped by 10 per cent.

The City of Dreams figures released yesterday also implied the casino had only grabbed an estimated 7 per cent share of the Macau market, below initial expectations of at least 10 per cent, and analyst consensus expectations of 14 per cent.

However, having only traded for a month, it is still too early to tell whether it will be a success.

Melco Crown Entertainment also owns a second casino in Macau, the Altira, which has a market share of about 8 per cent. Together the two casinos have about 15 per cent of the market.

Analysts are expecting the City of Dreams to post pretax earnings of $US300 million in the first year, less than the $US500 million a year its neighbouring casino, the Venetian, has been generating.

Yesterday the company emphasised that the trend of chip turnover throughout the month across its 127 VIP tables was positive and volumes were improving, with the casino taking 38 per cent of revenues in VIP tables in the final week of June.

The casino also makes money from gamblers who bet smaller amounts than high rollers.

These gamblers dropped about $US100 million on the City of Dreams's 376 mass market tables in June, which equates to about $1400 to $1600 daily net win per table. This is below the industry average of $US3000 per table. (Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pubs prove attractive to investors, by Natalie Craig - The Age - 25th June 2009

Three Melbourne pubs leased to a Woolworths-backed company have been sold for more than $16 million in heated auctions at Crown Casino.

The Elsternwick Hotel in Elwood, the Rose Shamrock & Thistle in Reservoir and the Rifle Club Hotel in Williamstown sold separately to three wealthy individuals - one from Sydney and two from Melbourne.

Agents say the buyers were attracted by the "blue-chip" tenant, Australian Leisure & Hospitality Group, in which Woolworths has a 75 per cent stake. Melbourne publican Bruce Mathieson owns the remainder.

The pubs sold on investment yields as low as 5 per cent, prompting agents to speculate that private buyers, disgruntled by sharemarket and banking returns, are now prepared to pay more for pubs - relative to their rental income - than in previous months.

Vendor ALE Property Group, Australia's largest listed pub owner, reaped a 24 per cent premium on the pubs' book values at December 31.

ALE managing director Andrew Wilkinson said it was a "particularly strong" result in a "difficult market".

He said the sale last week of two of its Sydney pubs for $12 million - slightly more than book value - fuelled interest in the Melbourne sales. "Sydney set a benchmark and in the past week investors have been digesting that and knew that they'd have to turn up in Melbourne with a very sharp price."

The sales by ALE come as rival pub owners are expected to start flooding the market with sales. About 200 pubs in NSW are believed to be in breach of their lending covenants, with banks already pulling the plug on owners such as Winners Circle Group.

In Melbourne, the Cornerstone group needs to sell several of its assets after appointing administrators to deal with debts racked up during a buying frenzy at the top of the market in 2007.

ALE told the stock exchange it would "apply the proceeds of the sale to both debt reduction and to increase surplus cash balances". Mr Wilkinson said ALE was not a forced seller, and "at this stage" had no more plans to sell.

"We've got no refinancing coming for another two years, at least. From our point of view, our finances are in good shape … In this market, people are gravitating towards lower-risk, long-term, good-quality properties."

Agents were happy with the auction turnout but were reluctant to call a widespread recovery in pub sales, emphasising instead the rarity of what was on offer.

Scott Callow and Joel Fisher, of CBRE Hotels, jointly marketed the hotel portfolio with Raoul Holderhead and Dean Venturato of Burgess Rawson.

"The strength in the hotel investment market has been proven by this result … a number of private parties were bidding feverishly," Mr Callow said. "Quality assets are continuing to attract strong interest, given the lack of prime hotels available in the current market."

Each pub sold with 19-year leases to ALH, indexed to inflation, with options to renew for four 10-year terms. (Credit: The Age)

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Monday, June 22, 2009 launches first-of-its-kind Australian iPhone application for house hunters launches first-of-its-kind Australian iPhone application for house hunters

Monday 22 June 2009: Online property site has today launched a free* iPhone application through the Apple iPhone App Store.

The application is the first-of-its-kind in Australia. It makes searching for a property easier for Domain users, who can now search for properties to buy, rent and share in the paper, online, via their mobile and now within an iPhone application.

For real estate agents and property vendors, the iPhone application offers greater exposure for property listings, particularly while house-hunters are actively in the process of pounding the pavements.

Anthony Ishac, spokesperson, comments “The iPhone application is one more way which Domain provides our agents with unique reach and unmatched support.”’s free iPhone application gives iPhone users the ability to:

Select criteria and search thousands of properties Australia-wide;
View property listings and photo galleries;
Shortlist favourite properties to view online or offline;
Check open for inspection times as well as auction dates and times;
View mortgage calculations for each property;
Email or call the agent/advertiser directly from the iPhone

This is Fairfax Digital’s first iPhone application developed in-house. It was created by the company’s newly-established Future Services team, which is tasked with creating innovative technologies to further extend the accessibility and convenience of Fairfax Digital’s sites, including its mastheads, and online classifieds such as

Anna Cicognani, Chief Product Officer, Fairfax Digital, comments, “This first product from the Fairfax Digital Future Services team is a sign of things to come. We are actively investing in innovative technologies to meet immediate and future consumer needs, as well as add demonstrable value to our partners’ businesses.

Sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank, the iPhone application complements’s existing mobile site for 3G enabled phones ( as well as its iPhone-ready mobile site. For more information and a video demonstration, visit:

The application is available from the Apple iPhone App Store today. To download the application, just open the App Store on your iPhone or access the App Store directly from iTunes on your computer and search for or visit

* Please note that while the Domain iPhone application is free to download via Apple iTunes and the Apple App Store, users may incur fees as per their standard mobile or internet network charges for "data retrieval".

- ENDS -

Part of the Fairfax Digital network, is an indispensable source of national property listings and resources for Australian property buyers, sellers and renters. With a vast network of real estate agents Australia-wide, contains the constantly refreshed information people need to make smarter property decisions.

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