Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Playboy Virgin Planning Space Club; Australia and U.S To Outer Space For Luxury Travel


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What could the future hold for adult entertainment brand Playboy? Think futuristic club: a zero-gravity dance club and a casino featuring "human roulette" – in outer space no less.

The potential Playboy Club in outer space would also include a restaurant for fine dining. It would be a massive structure for fun and games on a huge private space station, all in sci-fi fashion. Casino whales would be most welcome here.

We wonder if Australia's casino tycoon James Packer would want to get in on the action, and perhaps Yankee property tycoon Donald Trump, along with Las Vegas casino king Steve Wynn.

The space station project would be in conjunction with the space tourism company Virgin Galactic.

The concept is the brainchild of artist Thomas Tenery. The adult entertainment magazine also worked with several futurists and scientists, including Adam Wells, Virgin Galactic's head designer.

"As Virgin Galactic gets closer to becoming the world's first commercial space line, Playboy is eagerly pondering the creation of the ultimate intergalactic entertainment destination," Playboy editorial director Jimmy Jellinek said in a statement . "This heaven-in-the-heavens will exceed starry-eyed travelers' wildest dreams, and guests will truly experience a party that's out of this world."

The idea brings Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's vision to another dimension, which the magazine said tracks with the path of space exploration.

In the early 1960s, Hefner started opening Playboy Clubs and publishing the magazine's iconic "pad" features as the space race heated up.

"So at the dawn of the new space race, as corporations rather than governments vie to be the first to launch pleasure-seeking civilians into the heavens, we created the first renderings of a new celestial mecca," the magazine stated on its website. "With the help of futurists and rocket scientists … we imagine a Playboy Club in space. Here's your exclusive ticket to a party that's out of this world."

"The Playboy Club in space will be on a station in orbit, like a cruise ship," Playboy writers A.J. Baime and Jason Harper said. "Orbiting Earth is one idea, but it could also travel around other celestial bodies."

Hefner, Packer, Branson, Trump and Wynn - your throw of the dice.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

NSW Premier delighted with new Sydney casino plans; Packer Crown Limited pending jackpot


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The Australian casino (or gaming) wars have got to a whole new level. It's Packer's Crown VS Echo Entertainment in an almost 'State Of Origin' type battle for the bulk of Australia's land based casinos. One that will take place in a boardroom, rather than on a football field, but make no mistake - it's war.

But, there is no war but peace between Crown Limited and NSW Premiere Barry O'Farrell.

The New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell advised he is very pleased with plans for a second Sydney casino at Barangaroo.

James Packer's Crown Casino - Crown Limited gaming giant desires to construct a world class hotel, casino and entertainment complex at the site based Sydney Harbour.

It's a given that Packer has been watching the success of Echo Entertainment's The Star, which overlooks Sydney Harbour - but has recently got itself into a few scandals.

Last week Crown Limited increased its stake in Echo Entertainment, which runs The Star casino.

Mr O'Farrell says the proposal for a second venue would bring jobs and tourism to Barangaroo, however it would need to achieve regulatory approval before moving forward to development.

John Lee from the Tourism Transport Forum says it would add life to the area.

"You only have to go to Melbourne and see that area around the Yarra River, yes there's Crown Casino there, but there is also movie cinemas, bowling alleys - there's all sorts of things that entertain people when they go to the precinct," he said.

"It's actually a place now, or a destination that people love to go to."

Currently the law allows for only one Sydney casino licence until 2019.

Greens MP John Kaye says Sydney does not need a second casino.

"There shouldn't be a back door deal between the Packers and the Premier - this should be a matter of public debate," he said.

"If you put this to the people of New South Wales they will say no to a new casino because they know it increases problem gambling, they know it increases connections to organised crime."

Packer and his team have a history of getting things done... perhaps move than that of say Prime Minister Julie Gillard.

Watch this space.

NSW Premiere Barry O'Farrell applauds Packer proposal for a second casino...

The NSW Premier, Barry O'Farrell, has embraced plans by James Packer's group for a hotel and second Sydney casino at Barangaroo on land set aside as playing fields for office workers.

On Friday Mr Packer's casino group, Crown, advised Mr O'Farrell that Crown wanted a second Sydney casino as part of a hotel and restaurant complex in the centre of the harbourside site, which the Barangaroo Delivery Authority says is intended for "civic, educational and recreation spaces".

Mr O'Farrell said: "I think it's an exciting proposal which could add extra life to Barangaroo, give Sydney another world-class hotel, generate jobs and boost tourism."

The plan also involves building a 5 star hotel well north of the proposed commercial precinct, ensuring guests on upper floors have unobstructed views of the Sydney Opera House and the Heads.

"It's the sort of tourism-related investment we want in Sydney but everyone's aware there are a range of regulatory approvals needed before it could proceed," Mr O'Farrell said.

Those approvals include permission from government bodies for a second Sydney casino because the law now allows only one licence until 2019.

On Friday Crown increased to 10 per cent its stake in Echo Entertainment, which owns the Star casino, and has sought permission from regulators to increase its stake further.

If Crown Limited can gain control of the Star, its executive chairman, Mr Packer, could in fact pursue his plan for a Barangaroo casino to operate under an extended licence for the Star.

He has flagged that such a casino would not need poker machines and could simply have gaming tables, of which the Star can have an unlimited number.

As well as approval for a second casino, Crown Limited or another developer would need the government to change planning rules for the site which now restrict any building to 30 metres high and allow only 60,000 square metres of development in the whole of Barangaroo Central.

Last week a US landscape architect, Peter Walker, who has been retained to design Barangaroo's headland park, revealed that his plans included open playing fields for office workers, similar to the Domain on the eastern side of the central business district.

He has also proposed an outdoor space or amphitheatre for concerts in the central area of Barangaroo, which is proposed as a transition between the commercial towers in the south and the headland park in the north.

James Packer planning $1.5bn casino investment...

Crown Limited plans to spend more than $1.5 billion on building new luxury hotels in Sydney and Perth, after boosting its investment in rival casino operator Echo Entertainment, Crown's executive chairman James packer advised The Australian Financial Review.

Mr Packer's plan to expand the Crown chain beyond Melbourne is part of a campaign to attract wealthy Chinese gamblers aka "Oriental whale VIP high rollers" to Australia's shores, he told the newspaper.

“Australia needs to have truly world-class hotels,” he said, acknowledging that regulators would probably raise competition concerns.

“I want to build one in Perth and one in Sydney to go with what we have in Melbourne. It puts these cities on the map."

Mr Packer's comments come after Crown spent more than $250 million lifting its stake in Echo, which owns The Star casino in Sydney, and Jupiters on the Gold Coast, to 10 per cent, from 4.9 per cent previously.

Echo rejected Mr Packer's call for representation on the company's board.

*the writer is an investor in Crown Limited, Network Ten and Virgin Enterprises


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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Crown Limited - James Packer keen on Barangaroo for Sydney casino complex, by Greg Tingle


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The Australian casino (or gaming) wars have got to a whole new level. It's Packer's Crown VS Echo Entertainment in an almost 'State Of Origin' type battle for the bulk of Australia's land based casinos. One that will take place in a boardroom, rather than on a football field, but make no mistake - it's war.

A takeover war is hovering over the head of Echo Entertainment...the owner of Sydney's The Star James Packer yesterday made an audacious bid to be represented on the company's board.

The Star has been recently embattled in a scandal regarding inappropriate behaviour of a former director, so its all very interesting timing, and perhaps sees them in a weak position at the moment. Channel Seven is also planning follow up stories on The Star, and to Joe Blogs the casino does like a bit like a soft target right now.

Mr Packer's Crown yesterday fired off a missile more than doubling its stake in The Star's owner to the current 10 per cent maximum it is allowed to hold. Crown also applied to NSW and Queensland authorities for permission to go above the 10 per cent cap: prompting talk Mr Packer wants to in fact take over Echo.

This is understood to be the big move in plans to build a land based casino at Sydney's Barangaroo.

In paperwork sent off to Mr Packer yesterday, Echo Entertainment chairman John Story rejected Mr Packer's board bid.

Mr Packer told Rupert Murdock owned The Daily Telegraph he was "disappointed" in the reaction: "This is a good synergy for both companies, and today's rise in Echo's share price shows that the market thinks so as well," he said.

Mr Story's letter to Mr Packer stated in part: "The board believes that it is inappropriate for a Crown nominee to be appointed to the board as Crown is a competitor organisation. Accordingly, we will not agree to your request."

There have been some signs of an unhealthy business relationship between the two outfits in the lead-up to yesterday's announcement by Crown.

One source of tension has been Echo's constitution, which details a cap preventing any one party from having "voting power" of more than 10 per cent of Echo. Late last year, senior Packer advisor Guy Jalland let loose an attack on Echo's shareholder limit, describing it as a "poison pill" that was not in the interests of the company's shareholders.

Key sharemarket analysts have tabled that Echo Entertainment is one of the market's most obvious takeover targets because of its strategic value to Crown - already a giant in the gaming sector in the Asia Pacific region.

The theory was tested in Echo shares yesterday, which leaped up 50 cents to $4.30 on the understanding that Mr Packer would now move forward a takeover bid.

There was also speculation yesterday that Crown may be looking for a slice of Echo's high-roller VIP "whale" business. The Star has improved its performance in the "whaling" sector since its relaunch late last year.

Packer has torpedos and plenty of bait to snare in Echo. Echo's original "whales" will help with Packer's bottom line net profit, and further helps cement his place as one of the world's real big fish casino moguls. Echo is a touch on the nose at the moment, thanks to the scandal that rocked their boat and captain Packer and his loyal shipmates look poised to go in for the kill.

Will it be ships ahoy, fair winds or man overboard? Stay tuned as the Media Man agency continues to probe to probe the murky waters of the Australian casino wars.

James Packer planning $1.5bn casino investment...

Crown Limited plans to spend more than $1.5 billion on building new luxury hotels in Sydney and Perth, after boosting its investment in rival casino operator Echo Entertainment, Crown's executive chairman James packer advised The Australian Financial Review.

Mr Packer's plan to expand the Crown chain beyond Melbourne is part of a campaign to attract wealthy Chinese gamblers aka "Oriental whale VIP high rollers" to Australia's shores, he told the newspaper.

“Australia needs to have truly world-class hotels,” he said, acknowledging that regulators would probably raise competition concerns.

“I want to build one in Perth and one in Sydney to go with what we have in Melbourne. It puts these cities on the map."

Mr Packer's comments come after Crown spent more than $250 million lifting its stake in Echo, which owns The Star casino in Sydney, and Jupiters on the Gold Coast, to 10 per cent, from 4.9 per cent previously.

Echo rejected Mr Packer's call for representation on the company's board.

*the writer is an investor in Crown Limited, Network Ten and Virgin Enterprises


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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Casino mogul Wynn dumps friend-turned-foe


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Kazuo Okada

Casino mogul Steve Wynn ousted his former friend and partner Kazuo Okada from the board of his Wynn Macau unit on Friday, in the latest twist to a gripping legal joust that shines a light into gaming industry governance.

The board's decision to un-seat Okada was effective immediately, Wynn Macau said in a brief statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The removal of the Japanese billionaire from Wynn Macau's board signals a definitive end to a successful 12-year partnership with Wynn, CEO of parent Wynn Resorts, and could trigger a protracted legal battle.

Despite a very public tit-for-tat spat over donations and alleged "unacceptable conduct" and "inappropriate payments," Okada - an engineer who helped bankroll Wynn's $14 billion gaming empire - is still on the board of Wynn Resorts, which needs to convene a shareholder meeting to remove him.

Wynn Resorts has already forcibly redeemed Okada's nearly 20 percent stake in the company after an internal investigation by former FBI Director Louis Freeh revealed Okada - who made his fortune from pachinko and is CEO of Universal Entertainment Corp - violated U.S. anti-corruption laws.

On Friday, Okada refused to attend a meeting of Wynn Macau's nine-person board, called specially to remove him, and blasted the internal report as being based on "false and misleading assertions."

"Removing him from the board was easy, but the actual legal case could drag on for years," said Victor Yip, analyst at UOB Kay Hian in Hong Kong.

"Everything points against (Okada) now unless he can come up with something new," said Teng Yee Tan at CIMB Securities. "He's fighting alone against all the others."


The falling-out between the two self-made tycoons was triggered last month when Okada filed a suit against Wynn for blocking access to financial documents related to a $135 million donation by Wynn Resorts to the University of Macau.

Each now claims the other made improper payments to foreign gaming regulators to win favor in their respective Macau and Philippines markets, and the acrimony has attracted the attention of legal regulators and investors worldwide.

On Friday, there was little sign of the boardroom drama on the gambling floors in Macau.

In the upmarket Wynn Macau, gaming tables were packed and business was booming beneath the opulent chandeliers. Crowds of mainland Chinese surrounded baccarat tables, with one chain-smoking gambler in a black leather jacket patiently waiting his turn with a stack of 10,000 chips.

Away from the action, the likely legal showdown will test regulators monitoring the tycoons' operations in Macau and the Philippines, where Okada's Universal Entertainment's $2 billion casino is due for completion in 2014.

The feuding has already drawn attention to possible cultural, as well as legal, differences over business practices in Asia and the United States, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has said it is investigating Wynn.

A second court hearing on Okada's lawsuit against Wynn Resorts - which had revenues of $5.3 billion last year - has been delayed until March 8.

In Manila, President Benigno Aquino said Cristino Naguiat, the head of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), the country's gaming regulator, would face a cabinet-level inquiry into allegations he received "inappropriate" payments and gifts from Okada.

"There's a formal process. Let's have the allegations, let him answer it, then we will weigh the allegations versus his defense. We should afford him also the benefit of hearing him out before we can give judgment," Aquino told reporters.

Naguiat has denied receiving bribes, dismissing the allegations as "outrageous, politically-motivated and untrue."


Steve Wynn, the Vegas showman known for building high-end properties such as the Bellagio and Mirage, has maintained that Okada - after whom he named his casinos' upscale Japanese restaurants - went against a board decision to pursue a property in the Philippines, making him a direct competitor.

Okada is seeking to file a suit in Las Vegas for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to protect the interests of his subsidiary, Aruze USA, Inc in Wynn Resorts and to prevent the redemption of its shares.

Estimated to be worth $2.1 billion by Forbes magazine in 2011, Okada made his riches in pachinko - a uniquely Asian game that mixes slot machine style gambling with pinball, and which rakes in about 20 trillion yen ($250 billion) annually - more than the GDP of Hong Kong.

A resident of Hong Kong where he lives with his wife and young daughter, Okada was Wynn Resorts' largest shareholder, holding more than double the stake of Steve Wynn himself.

Wynn Macau shares closed up 1 percent on Friday, outpacing a flat benchmark index. (Credit: Reuters)

Wynn Macau Limited Removes Kazuo Okada from Board of Directors

MACAU, Feb. 24, 2012 - Wynn Macau, Limited, a subsidiary of Wynn Resorts, Limited, today announced that its Board of Directors met today to review Mr. Kazuo Okada's status as a Director of the Company. All of the other Directors voted unanimously to remove Mr. Okada from the Board and the removal is effective immediately.

The Board of Directors issued the following joint statement:

"The Board considered the information disclosed by Wynn Resorts, Limited concerning the independent report (as further described in the 20 February Announcement) commissioned by the Compliance Committee of Wynn Resorts, Limited. After due consideration of the independent report, taking into account the Company's high ethical standards, the Board determined that it was obligated to remove Mr. Okada as a non-executive Director given the unacceptable conduct by Mr. Okada, his employees and associates detailed in the independent report. Accordingly, the Board resolved to remove Mr. Okada as a non-executive Director of the Company."

About Wynn Resorts

Wynn Resorts, Limited is traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol WYNN and is part of the S&P 500 and NASDAQ-100 Indexes.

Our Las Vegas operations (Wynn Las Vegas and Encore) feature two luxury hotel towers with a total of 4,750 spacious hotel rooms, suites and villas, an approximately 186,000 square feet of casino space, 35 food and beverage outlets featuring signature chefs, an on-site 18-hole golf course, meeting space, an Ferrari and Maserati dealership, approximately 97,000 square feet of retail space as well as two showrooms; four nightclubs and a beach club.

Our Macau resort is a resort destination casino located in the Macau Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China with two luxury hotel towers (Wynn Macau and Encore) with a total of 1,008 spacious rooms and suites, approximately 265,000 square feet of casino space, casual and fine dining in eight restaurants, approximately 54,200 square feet of retail space, recreation and leisure facilities, including two health clubs and spas, a pool.

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SkyCity Marriott Launches Hong Kong Disneyland New 2-Day Ticket (Effective 1 March 2012)

Book the Magical Escape Room Package to Receive a Complimentary Upgrade to Hong Kong Disneyland 2-Day Ticket


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HONG KONG, Feb 23, 2012 - Working closely with Hong Kong Disneyland Resort as one of its top-performing hotel partners, SkyCity Marriott proudly launches Hong Kong Disneyland's new 2-Day Ticket. Guests can now enjoy two magical visits to the Park with just one ticket.

With the new 2-Day Ticket, which costs only HK$100 more than the 1-Day Ticket, guests can enjoy flexibility in visiting the Park on any two days within a seven-day period. With every purchase of any two Hong Kong Disneyland Tickets at the concierge, guests will receive a complimentary special edition Toy Story Land Shopping Bag. Both 1-Day and 2-Day Tickets are now available at the hotel's concierge (refer to appendix A for price table).

To mark the launch of the new ticket type, guests who pre-book the Magical Escape Room Package to stay at the hotel between 1 March to 30 June 2012 will receive a complimentary upgrade from the 1-Day Ticket to a 2-Day Ticket as part of this exciting Hong Kong hotel deal. Guests can take their time to fully explore the Park and meet their favorite Toy Story friends in its latest Toy Story Land.

The Magical Escape Room Package is available for booking, Monday to Sunday, from HK$2,088+ per night. The Package includes a Deluxe Room one-night stay, two adult Hong Kong Disneyland Park Tickets and buffet breakfast for two. Reservations can be made through or by calling (852) 3969 1888 (refer to appendix B for room package and promotion details).

Located just 20 minutes away from the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, SkyCity Marriott is one of the closest hotels in Hong Kong to the theme park. Due to its proximity, our 5 star Hong Kong hotel is popular among local Hong Kong residents and short-haul leisure travelers from South East Asia, who wish to visit Hong Kong Disneyland and experience five-star luxurious accommodations.

SkyCity Marriott first launched the Magical Escape Room package in 2009 and it is has been one of the most popular room packages, especially among families. The room package has been specially designed to cater to this market with the inclusion of Hong Kong Disneyland Park Tickets and buffet breakfast. To provide a seamless and hassle-free experience, SkyCity Marriott offers complimentary shuttle bus service to and from the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort on a daily basis -- 10am from SkyCity Marriott to the resort, 8:45pm from the resort to SkyCity Marriott.

In addition to our unparalleled holiday offer for families and leisure travelers, guests can also enjoy the hotel's five-star facilities -- 24-hour gym, 27-meter indoor heated swimming pool, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi. For golf enthusiast, the SkyCity Nine Eagles Golf Course is at the door-step of the hotel. Traveling out of the hotel is convenient with complimentary shuttle bus service to Tung Chung MTR station and the Airport. To reach town, guest can take the Airport Express Line, which is connected to the hotel via AsiaWorld-Expo.

About Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel Nestled on the edge of Lantau Island and on banks of the South China Sea, the Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel offers a refreshing escape from the bustling city. A five-star luxury hotel, the Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel provides luxurious accommodations with 658 guest rooms, 13 premium meeting rooms for corporate events, houses five restaurants for a variety of dining options and offers pampering spa treats at the boutique Quan Spa. Transportation to the hotel is a breeze as the hotel is located next to the Hong Kong International Airport and is just a 28-minute train ride (Airport Express Line) away from Hong Kong's central business district. For the leisure travelers, they can enjoy the convenience of the hotel being located near Hong Kong's famous tourist attractions -- Disneyland, Ngong Ping 360 and the Tian Tan Buddha. This modern day oasis is perfect for conferences, business travelers and leisure guests seeking the best of both worlds -- the luxury and convenience of contemporary living set in peaceful tranquility.

About Hong Kong Disneyland Hong Kong Disneyland Resort offers immersive, unique Disney experiences for all families, generations and ages to enjoy. Hong Kong is one of only five locations in the world that is home to a Disney theme park and the many Disney characters that are beloved the world over, such as Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Stitch and Buzz Lightyear. Since the Grand Opening in September 2005, Hong Kong Disneyland has received more than 31 million Guests from around the globe. Through the unique product offering and the world-class service provided by the 5,000 strong Cast at the theme park and the two hotels, the Resort has received outstanding Guest satisfaction ratings and a range of awards from the hospitality and entertainment sectors.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

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Australian Casino News: The Star, Crown Casino; New Zealand Casino News: SkyCity


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Star casino has 'extreme' party culture...

A former Star employee says the Sydney casino is plagued by a culture of parties, irresponsible gambling and sexual harassment.

The claims come just days after the NSW Gaming Authority announced an inquiry into the casino, following the sacking of its CEO Sid Vaikunta over sexual harassment allegations two weeks ago.
In an interview with Channel 7, former manager Elizabeth Ward said in her 24 years working in casinos she had never witnessed a culture as extreme as that at the Star.

"It's a permanent party," she told Seven.

Another employee who wasn't identified told Seven there was 'chronic drug abuse' within senior management.

He also claimed senior managers were encouraged not to report breaches within the casino.
"There's financial incentives not to report any breaches," he said.

Ms Ward, who worked at The Star for 16 years, claimed in one incident a senior minister from a foreign government was ejected from the casino for gross and obscene behaviour but was allowed to return after complaining to executive staff.

"No matter what you do or what you report or what you see, nothing gets done," she said.
The employees claim high-rollers are protected by senior management, and encouraged to stay at tables for up to 48 hours.

Ms Ward said her investigation of a suspected drug scandal involving a high-roller cost her and her husband their jobs.

She claimed the high-roller was good friends with three casino executives.

"The more I investigated it the uglier things seemed to be getting for me," she said.

The employees said they were willing to testify as part of the Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority inquiry.

Echo Entertainment says the allegations made on Seven News are inconsistent with the findings of the Casino Liquor Gaming Control Authority's recent review of The Star casino licence.

The company says The Star's intolerance of breaches of its Code of Conduct is evidenced by the sacking of its former managing director after allegations were made against him.

It rejected Ms Ward's claim that the jobs of she and her husband were terminated after they investigated a high-roller over a suspected drug scandal.

"Ms Ward was unable to return to work after an eight-month absence and so her employment was ended," Echo Entertainment said in a statement.

"Six months before a restructure of table games Ms Ward's husband asked for a voluntary redundancy and The Star granted his request."

Echo Entertainment did not deny that reporting breaches was entwined with performance indicators.

It said reporting breaches was taken seriously but that a recent report by Ms Gail Furness SC to the Casino Liquor & Gaming Licence Authority did recommend a review of performance indicators for senior staff.

"She observed that The Star had already taken action to substitute a more appropriate KPI (Key Performance Indicators) in place of zero breaches," the company said.

The company also did not deny claims a foreign minister had been readmitted to the casino after being ejected for bad behaviour.

It said: "The Responsible Service of Alcohol is treated seriously and applied uniformly regardless of the status of the client visiting the casino."

Inquiry launched into sacking of casino boss Sid Vaikunta...

AN inquiry has been launched into the circumstances surrounding the sacking of The Star casino's CEO, Sid Vaikunta.

The NSW Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority said today it was establishing the inquiry, with powers conferred by the Royal Commissions Act.

Mr Vaikunta left the Sydney casino amid allegations of sexual harassment.

The casino's owner Echo Entertainment Group announced his departure a fortnight ago, citing his behaviour "in a social work setting".

Barrister Gail Furness SC will run the inquiry.

Melco interested in $1 bln Manila casino project

(Reuters) - A casino operator run by Australian billionaire James Packer and the son of Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho has expressed interest in investing in a $1 billion Manila casino project, the Philippine gambling regulator said on Tuesday.

Macau-based Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd MPEL.0 was "very interested" in the project, Cristino Naguiat, chairman of the state-owned Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp (Pagcor), told Reuters after meeting with Melco officials last week in Manila.

He said Hong Kong-listed Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd (0027.HK) was also interested in a project in the more than 100-hectare Entertainment City near Manila Bay, construction of which is to begin late next year.

Pagcor, the country's largest casino operator, awarded four licenses in 2008 and 2009 to operate casino resorts in the Manila Bay area. Pagcor expects the resorts to generate annual gambling revenue of as much as $11 billion after five years of operation, overtaking Las Vegas.

Pagcor requires a minimum investment of $1 billion from any firm awarded a gaming license, Naguiat said.


Naguiat did not know if Melco was looking for local partners, but said Galaxy was in talks with local groups and "could be" in discussions with local property and leisure firm Belle Corp (BEL.PS) for a partnership.

Belle, controlled by the country's richest man Henry Sy, was looking to lease at least 10 hectares of land from Pagcor for its second casino project in Entertainment City. The project could also cost $1 billion.

Belle is building an integrated entertainment resort complex called Belle Grande Manila Bay, which features a 30,000-square-metre casino, within the Entertainment City.

Three other groups are pursuing developments in Entertainment City, the biggest being the $2 billion casino-hotel project being built by a unit of Japan's Universal Entertainment Corp (6425.OS) set for completion in 2014.

The other developers are Bloomsbury Investments and the joint venture between Genting Hong Kong Ltd (0678.HK) and Alliance Global Group (AGI.PS).

Naguiat said Universal Entertainment remained interested in pursuing its Philippine project despite a much-publicised fight between Japanese gaming mogul Kazuo Okada and his former business partner, Las Vegas casino tycoon Steve Wynn.

Okada owns Universal Entertainment and Wynn is chief executive at Wynn Resorts Ltd (WYNN.O). Both claim the other made improper payments to win favour in their respective Macau and Philippines markets.

"I don't know what's going on between Mr. Okada and Mr. Wynn. We have to be outside that fight," Naguiat said. "From the way I look at it, there was nothing wrong with our transactions with Mr. Okada."

Naguiat said he had discussed the issue with Okada, who promised to pursue his Philippine project. "No change in plans, everything will push through."

Pagcor grew its total revenues by 16.5 percent to a record 36.7 billion pesos last year. It expects revenues to grow at least 16 percent this year.

The season for auction fever about to set in...

THE commercial auction year in Melbourne will start in earnest when Burgess Rawson offers 10 properties, including shopping centres, service stations, and liquor outlets, next week.

The auction will be on Wednesday, February 29, in the River Room at Crown Casino at 11am. Up for sale are a Coles Express at Rye, an office in Cheltenham, a car wash in Springvale, a BP service station in Ballarat and an IGA in Seymour. The interstate properties include a supermarket and warehouse in Queensland, a Woolworths in Launceston and two Dan Murphy's liquor stores in New South Wales.

In Echuca, Fitzroys and Charles L. King & Co will offer four commercial/residential development sites for auction this Saturday from 1.30pm. The property at 557-561 High Street, one of the last development sites in the Port precinct, is expected to fetch more than $2 million. The other sales prices should be between $1 million-$1.8 million.

In Southbank, Savills Australia is marketing a warehouse with development potential close to Southgate and Crown Casino. The property will be auctioned on Thursday, March 8, at 1pm on site, and is expected to fetch more than $950,000. Located at 11-13 Hancock Street, the level warehouse on a 168-square-metre site is zoned Mixed Use (allowing residential and commercial development).

Receivers and managers have been appointed to sell The Avenue, a prominent shopping centre in Sunshine West. Colliers International, under instructions from PPB Advisory, has listed the centre at 136 The Avenue for sale by tender.

The anchor tenant at the shopping centre was a Coles supermarket and was complemented by a strong tenancy mix incorporating a Cellarbrations liquor outlet and other specialty stores.

Knight Frank is to sell an industrial property at Tullamarine. Located at 9 Fellowes Court, the property comprises a clear-span warehouse with a two-level office and loading docks. The expressions of interest campaign closes on March 15 at 5pm. The expected selling price is more than $4 million.

Adelaide Casino earns $19m in first half - 16th February 2012...

SkyCity Entertainment Group is continuing talks with the State Government on the redevelopment of the Adelaide casino.

New Zealand-based SkyCity has casinos in Auckland, Hamilton, Queenstown, Adelaide and Darwin.

Adelaide Casino was the group's best performing Australian asset, lifting earnings 13 per cent to $19.1 million in the six months to December 31 on a 7 per cent rise in revenue of $82.6 million.

SkyCity on Wednesday reported a 17.4 per cent increase in net profit for the first half of the 2011/12 financial year to a record $NZ78.8 million ($A61.81 million).

The group said that since December SkyCity had been working closely with the South Australian casino taskforce regarding the future regulatory framework for the Adelaide casino.

``The outcome of these discussions will allow us to determine whether to proceed or not with progressing our plans for the transformation of the Adelaide casino,'' SkyCity said.

``While we are excited about the outstanding growth opportunity this transformational project potentially represents for SkyCity, shareholders should be assured that this project will only proceed if we can be confident of achieving an acceptable return on the potential investment.''

SkyCity says it could transform the Adelaide casino into a world-class entertainment facility, featuring a five-star hotel, expanded gaming facilities, restaurants and bars, a spa and a roof-top pool lounge.

SkyCity said that since 2010, the Darwin casino had experienced some challenging times caused by a soft tourism market, the high Australian dollar and the ban on live cattle exports.

However, gaming revenues were now returning to growth.

Construction of SkyCity's new Lagoon Resort in Darwin was on budget and scheduled to open in July.

The Lagoon Resort would include special facilities for international gamblers, enabling SkyCity's Darwin property to compete in the international VIP market.

``This, together with the recently announced business class flights direct from Singapore, Darwin's proximity to Asia and the recently announced $32 billion Inpex Ichthys LNG project, gives us confidence that our Darwin property has a very bright future,'' SkyCity said.

Overall, the group said strong first half earnings were driven by the revitalised flagship Auckland casino and hotel complex, the Rugby World Cup finals in New Zealand in October, and continued success in attracting more international gamblers.

SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison said the group had enjoyed strong momentum in the six months to December 31, and it had continued into January and February 2012.

SkyCity expected its normalised net profit for the full year to be at the top end of its previous guidance range in the high $NZ140 millions, up from $NZ130.9 million ($A102.68 million) last year.

SkyCity spent $NZ50 million ($A39.22 million) rejuvenating its Auckland operations, including new VIP gaming facilities.

SkyCity said talks were continuing with the New Zealand government over the construction of an international convention centre, which could result in the SkyCity investing $NZ350 million ($A274.54 million) in the project.

Shares in SkyCity were two cents lower at $2.78 on Wednesday.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Casino News: Australia, New Zealand, Las Vegas, Land Based, Online...


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SkyCity gives more detail of casino expansion plan...

SkyCity has revealed its vision for the Adelaide Casino, as part of a redevelop the Torrens riverbank precinct.

The company wants to expand the casino to include a hotel, more gaming facilities, VIP suites, more restaurants and bars and a spa and rooftop pool.

It says the work would involve no removal of any part of the current heritage building and its plan would give casino site visitors even better views of the heritage building.

SkyCity CEO Nigel Morrison says the redevelopment will not proceed unless the South Australian Government comes up with concessions.

"We're working closely with the casino taskforce in South Australia regarding the regulatory framework for the Adelaide Casino and the outcome of those discussions will determine whether or not we're able to proceed in progressing our plans for the transformation of the Adelaide Casino," he said.

In the first half of the financial year, SkyCity Entertainment Group recorded a net profit of nearly $79 million, a 17 per cent rise, and revenue at the Adelaide Casino was up 6.9 per cent.

Queensland Casinos make pre-commitment...

Voluntary pre-commitment modules will be added to 3000 of Queensland pokies, bringing the percentage of the state's machines with the technology to 18 per cent.

But anti-gambling campaigner, independent federal senator Nick Xenophon, has labelled the move relatively empty.

Retiring state member and the minister responsible for gaming Paul Lucas yesterday announced that Echo Entertainment Group, which owns the Jupiter-branded casinos and hotels in Townsville and the Gold Coast, as well as the Treasury Casino and hotel in Brisbane, would begin rolling out the technology this month.

Mr Lucas said it was part of a $625 million upgrade Echo Entertainment had planned for their three Queensland properties. The allocation of 500 extra gaming machines for their south-east complexes would be conditional on the introduction of the technology.

Mr Lucas said the addition of 500 machines across the Brisbane and Gold Coast casinos had been sourced from "within the current state wide gaming machine cap" and there would be no overall increase in pokies across Queensland.

He said 11 per cent of the state's 44,000 poker machines already had voluntary pre-commitment technology installed and the Echo Entertainment Group's decision brought that figure to 18 per cent or 7800 machines.

"We've seen our problem gambling rates more than halve since 2001," Mr Lucas said.

"What that shows is measures such as voluntary pre-commitment work. That's why we continue to support voluntary pre-commitment but won't be supporting moves for mandatory pre-commitment until more research is done into its effectiveness."

But Mr Xenophon said voluntary pre-commitment did nothing for the gamblers who needed the most help.

"Voluntary pre-commitment is about as effective as voluntary speed limits and voluntary drink driving laws," he said. "It doesn't work and those who need it the most won't do it. So this is a case of more window dressing, more smoke and mirrors, surrounding the real issue."

Fellow independent senator Andrew Wilkie withdrew his support for Prime Minister Julia Gillard's government this month, when he said she reneged on their deal to implement an agreed pokies reform.

The agreement included mandatory pre-commitment for high-loss machines and a one-dollar limit on all other machines, with a May deadline. The federal government effectively walked away from the deal last month.

Mr Xenophon said he still believed major pokie reform was possible in Australia.

"I think it will happen because most Australians want it to happen. But you have the major parties caving into the poker machine lobby."

Release of legal advice on gambling reform...

Bill Shorten, Jenny Macklin - Tuesday, 1 February 2011...

The Australian Government today released legal advice on the Commonwealth’s power to legislate for important reforms to address problem gambling.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, agreed with the Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, to commission this legal advice. The Prime Minister and Mr Wilkie also agreed that the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform would be informed of the legal advice.

The Australian Government is committed to working with the states and territories and industry to introduce key reforms which address the harm from problem gambling, including a full pre-commitment scheme for poker machines.

State and territory governments are responsible for the regulation of the gambling industry, except for online gambling.

However, problem gambling is a serious issue and the Australian Government believes more must be done to help problem gamblers and their families, particularly by reducing the harm caused by poker machines.

Research shows that three-quarters of severe problem gamblers have problems with poker machines.

Problem gambling can destroy families and ruin lives.

Problem gamblers spend an average of $21,000 a year on gambling. That's a lot of money by anyone’s standards – money that isn’t being spent on food, bills or the family mortgage.

We have written to Mr Wilkie, as Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform, to our state and territory colleagues on the Council of Australian Governments Select Council on Gambling Reform, and to Professor Peter Shergold AC, Chair of the Ministerial Expert Advisory Group on Gambling Reform, to provide them with the legal advice.

The advice from the Australian Government Solicitor confirms there are a range of constitutional heads of power available to the Australian Government, including corporations, trade and commerce, telecommunications, banking, currency, taxation and territories powers.

While this advice identifies the legislative options available to the Commonwealth, the Australian Government remains committed to reaching an agreement with the states and territories to progress these important reforms.

Gambling is a legitimate industry and a valued form of entertainment for many Australians. We will work with industry to implement these reforms in a staged, evidence-based way. We have established the Ministerial Expert Advisory Group on Gambling, chaired by Professor Peter Shergold AC, to seek advice from the industry, academics and gambling support services on how to best implement the reforms.

The Productivity Commission recommended the Commonwealth intervene if the states and territories do not agree to implement gambling reforms Australia wide.

Legislation for National Gambling Reforms, by Jenny Macklin - 17 February 2012

The Australian Government today released the draft National Gambling Reform Bills 2012 which will deliver long-lasting reforms to help the five million Australians affected by problem gambling.

The Bills put into action the reform package the Government announced on 21 January this year, including implementing pre-commitment technology and dynamic warnings on poker machines and introducing a $250 daily ATM withdrawal limit in pokies venues.

The Bills build on the Australian Government’s work on pre-commitment technology through the Council of Australian Government’s Select Council on Gaming Reform. At this forum in May last year, state and territory gaming ministers agreed to support the required infrastructure for pre-commitment technology in all jurisdictions.

These Bills give a clear timeline for the implementation of pre-commitment in pokies venues across Australia.

From next week the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Treasury will begin formal consultations with industry groups, manufacturers, community groups and the states and territories on the draft Bills.

Following the consultations, the Bills will be introduced into the parliament in the current session.

The Government has a clear plan to deliver the most significant and far reaching national reforms to tackle problem gambling ever seen in this country.

This is the first time the Commonwealth has taken national action to help problem gamblers and their families.

The draft legislation is available at

New star performers for SA...

SYDNEY, NSW - IGT announces that its set to release of two new games for its IGT bluechip Neo® cabinet in South Australia - taking its SA game offering for this new cabinet to seven since launch last. Age of Shogun™ and Wild Girls™ offer different play styles and game features to excite existing players and attract new ones.

The latest addition to IGT's very successful Shogun-themed games, Age of Shogun™ is a high denomination game featuring three progressive jackpots as well as triple prizes during 25 free games. Wild Girls™ on the other hand, is a low denomination game with a unique feature that offers extra substitutes and an interactive game screen during free games.

Bill Maglaris, IGT's SA State sales manager, commented: "IGT was the first gaming manufacturer to bring 3-level progressive jackpots to South Australia and it's great to see this feature teamed with one of IGT's popular game themes in Age of Shogun. If past Shogun games are an indication, this new game should prove popular with players. Wild Girls offers something new to the low denom market allowing players to collect symbols to gain additional substitutes and providing venues with a configurable hold percentage to suit their individual requirements."

We're pleased to be releasing two more games to our bluechip Neo game library in South Australia. This library now features a mix of denominations and low volatilities to ensure venues can choose games that meet their needs".

IGT is the world's largest gaming manufacturer. IGT Australia is a subsidiary of IGT and has served the local market for over 20 years. IGT Australia delivers the global strength of our parent via innovative products designed to maximise the potential of gaming floors across Australia and New Zealand. IGT's comprehensive range of value added services and systems ensures that venues get the most from their investments.

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Monday, February 06, 2012

Wynn Vs Okada: The Battle for Wynn Resorts


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Steve Wynn asks judge to oppose top investor’s suit as legal battle heats up...

Steve Wynn’s Wynn Resorts recently urged a US court to reject legal claims made by its largest shareholder, adding fire to an escalating public discord that could impact the future control of the US$15-B casino giant.

In a 117-page filing with the Clark County District Court in Nevada, Mr. Wynn stated that Kazuo Okada, who holds a 20% stake in the firm, was “utilising innuendo, hyperbole, half-truths and sweeping generalisations” in his legal petition that was filed on 11 January.

Mr. Okada, Wynn’s longtime business partner, known for his close relationship with Mr. Wynn, sued the Company for denying him access to Key financial information and has objected to an “inappropriate” UDS$135-M company donation to the University of Macau.

The Japanese businessman owns more than twice the stake of Wynn Resorts stock than Mr. Wynn himself.

Mr. Okada filed his suit through Aruze USA Inc., a unit of his Universal Entertainment Corp, an arcade-game manufacturer and developer of a multi-billion-dollar casino in the Philippines.

Responding to last Monday’s filing in Nevada, Mr. Wynn stated that Nevada law did not give Mr. Okada the right to inspection of the company’s bookd, and his requests were “nothing more than stockholder inspection requests, on behalf of Aruze.”

“Nevada law does not afford Mr. Okada or any other individual director the right to do an end run around the express statutory limitations on stockholder inspection rights, or to play detective, while unnecessarily distracting and burdening Wynn’s management with the endless task of satisfying his unfounded and unarticulated ‘concerns’,” the filing said.

Wynn’s donation to the University of Macau in Y 2011 was approved by the boards of Wynn Resorts and Wynn Macau on 18 April last year, with Mr. Okada the only member of the 12-person board objecting to the payment, according to the filing court filings.

Aruze USA said that as a member of the board of Wynn Resorts, Mr. Okada had the right to inspect the corporate documents he deemed necessary to carry out his duties as a Director.

“The response of Wynn Resorts’ management, while full of colorful rhetoric, cannot explain this away. We look forward to presenting our position to the Court,” Aruze said.

Mr. Okada, a Hong Kong resident who made his fortune in Japanese pachinkos, has also proposed 4 potential candidates for election ahead of Wynn’s Y 2012 shareholder meeting.

If these are endorsed, the Japanese businessman would be pushing out high level executives including Wynn’s Chief Operating Officer Marc Schorr and Linda Chen, President of Wynn International Marketing, whose terms expire this year.

Steven Wynn, creator of the volcano-roaring Mirage and lavish Bellagio in Las Vegas, upset shareholders more than 12 yrs ago with overzealous spending on items including his US$200-M art collection, eating into profitability of Mirage Resorts at the time.

Mr. Wynn, like Las Vegas and Macau rival Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands, has expressed interest in cementing his presence in emerging Asian gaming markets such as Japan and South Korea should legalization allow in the future.

Mr. Okada, who has been investing in Wynn Resorts since Y 2000, is seen as Key to the Company’s potential casino development in Japan due to his vast business links and contacts.

Japan is a market that analysts say would be highly lucrative and could generate revenues of over US$40-B a yr.

It is thought that this negative relationship issue with Wynn Resorts will probably press Mr. Okada to develop a relationship with another US casino gaming company. Certainly Las Vegas Sands has been very aggressive in their desire to do something in Japan, and the expectation is that many large corporates will reach out to Mr. Okada’s organization.

Revenues from Wynn’s property in Macau, the World’s largest gambling destination, accounts for 70% of Wynn Resort’s total revenues, and the Company currently does not have a presence in the fast-growing Singapore market, where LVS has developed 1 of the World’s most profitable casinos. Stay tuned… (Credit: Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr - Live Trading News)

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