Everyone was wondering why Chris Morris would buy a dying casino, but the businessman has big plans for the Jupiters in Townsville.
Founder of Computershare, Morris told reporters his dream was to create an exciting new package for all tourists to enjoy, and Jupiters will play an important role in his plan.
According to the latest gambling news
, he is looking to get more international tourists to come to the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree and the outback, by building a small resort complete with a gambling venue.
“Having the casino allows you the cash flow to do other things,” he explained.
Australian gambling companies have been targeting mostly Asian high-rollers and Echo Entertainment and Crown Resorts have even fought over a casino spot in Brisbane and a proposed $8 billion casino project in Cairns.
But Chris Morris is planning on focusing his attention and investing all his efforts in Townsville to draw more locals, not just foreign visitors. There are several direct flights to the regional centre and the businessman plans to take advantage of this.
Business Review Weekly: Why Rich Lister Chris Morris bought ‘worst-performing casino in Australia’
The Business Review Weekly has estimated Morris’ fortune at $700 million. The businessman built a reputation by working in the tech industry. He co-founded ASX-listed share registry business Computershare, but nowadays he’s focusing mostly on tourism.
His tourism and entertainment company, Colonial Leisure Group, owns 15 businesses, including a pubs, a brewery on Margaret River and the Daintree Eco Lodge located in north Queensland. With the Jupiters deal sealed, the total amount invested in Queensland over the past three years reaches $100 million.
In addition to these businesses and properties, Chris Morris recently bought an outback cattle station, Mount Mulligan, and owns Orpheus Island Resort plus a Queensland helicopter charter company.
While he opposes the idea of installing pokies in pubs, Morris says offering these gambling machines in casinos is okay, arguing that “people make a conscious decision to go to casinos.”
The Australian businessman doesn’t have much experience in the gambling industry, but he believes the Jupiters casino has “huge potential”, which is why he brought Brad Morgan on board, who recently ran SkyCity Entertainment’s Darwin casino.
The Australian: CLG pays $70m to snap up Jupiters
The private company owned by Chris Morris, the founder of Computershare, has offered $70 million to buy Echo Entertainment’s Jupiters Townsville casino. The deal was struck through ANZ Corporate Advisory.
The price of the casino equates to 10 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization for the previous financial year. The new buyer is looking to invest money in redeveloping the casino, to make it part of a large-scale integrated resort.
John Redmond, managing director at Echo, said: “Recent performance of Jupiters Townsville has been positive. However, given the scale of operations and the size of the local market, we saw more limited expansion opportunities, and therefore strategic fit, with the group’s other assets.”
The company would make an $8 million pre-tax profit on the $70 million sale.
A statement by Colonial Leisure Group added: “We are excited about the opportunities and synergies this acquisition represents. Combining our extensive expertise in hospitality management and ability to further invest, we will develop Jupiters Townsville Hotel and Casino into a leading regional resort, improving the operational and financial performance of the property.”
MyWealth News: International high rollers drive Echo’s earnings higher
According to a financial report released at the end of October, Echo Entertainment said it expects its normalized earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) to reach between $245 million and $260 million in the first half of the 2015 financial year. The figure reflects a 31% increase from the previous year.
The current financial year has already brought the company a revenue of $216 million, a 78% rise compared to the previous year within its international VIP rebate business, which was “breaking previous records” according to chief executive Matt Bekier. Between 2010 and 2013, Echo’s VIP business has expanded by 224%.
“The positive trading momentum generated in 2H FY14 continues to prevail. We are experiencing good demand in all properties, especially in domestic electronic gaming,” he said.
But Echo has bigger plans in Australia. Taking advantage of the country’s favorable gambling laws, the company recently submitted a proposal to develop a multi-billion dollar resort at Queen’s Wharf Brisbane. Echo was shortlisted for the location along with rival casino developer Crown Resorts.
“In terms of the Brisbane bid, we can’t yet disclose the details of what we are proposing to build, or the scale of the tourism, economic or job-creation benefits to Queensland,” Bekier said. “But let me assure you that we have put forward a responsible offer that delivers a truly iconic precinct.”
The controversial issue of casino gambling in Alabama came to a peak when the state’s governor, Bob Riley, ordered a raid on a new $87.5 million casino in the middle of the night and the action was halted in its tracks by a judges blocking order.
LA Times: Judge halts state raid of $87M bingo casino in latest round of Alabama’s fight over gambling
Near 40 Alabama state troopers gathered before sunrise, Wednesday, for a Gov. Bob Riley approved raid. The target: bingo machines at a new, allegedly illegal, $87 million casino near Dothan.
Local officials moved quickly to defend the targeted site, going to a judge’s home after midnight to get an order blocking the raid. The order was given to police before they could seize the 1,700 electronic bingo machines at Country Crossing.
County Commissioner Mark Culver denounced the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling’s attempt to shut down the bingo and entertainment complex, which created 1,300 jobs in the struggling community.
Bill Eadington, a University of Nevada at Reno gambling expert, said Alabama casino investors relied on questionable laws to build, but casinos are hard to close when restaurants and hotels, that produce lots of jobs, are added.
ABC News: Judge Halts State Raid of Big Alabama Bingo Center
A rural Alabama county hungry for economic development staved off a state raid on a new bingo and entertainment center despite Bob Riley’s wishes to close it. The county won a middle-of-the-night court order barring the raid as agents from the governor’s anti-gambling task force massed near Country Crossing, an $87 million complex near Dothan.
Houston County Commissioner Mark Culver got the order from a judge’s home at 1:30 a.m. delivered it to the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling assembling for a pre-dawn raid. He was trying to save 1,300 jobs in a county with 8.7 percent unemployment.
The Houston County Commission approved the construction of Country Crossing in 2008 and created a method for it to issue up to $70 million in bonds for construction. Country Crossing sought to stop the raid, claiming it would harm the bond issue that’s supposed to be paid off with bingo revenue.
Alabama gambling centers have been expanding with restaurants and other attractions and portraying themselves as economic development projects providing needed jobs in a recession.
AP News: Midnight order halts Ala. raid of $87M casino
A Gov. Riley approved raid on bingo machines at a new, $87 million casino by himself was stopped before dawn on Wednesday by judge’s order blocking it. Houston County Commissioner Mark Culver secured the judge’s approval and signature.
It was a blow for the governor in Alabama’s odd, ongoing struggle for control over the state’s mushrooming gambling industry. Culver said, “We are going to do everything we can to protect the jobs of the people of Houston County,” in reference to the incident. The governor claims the machines are illegal and simply an attempt to compete with Mississippi’s coastal casinos.
Circuit Judge P.B. McLauchlin agreed that seizing the machines “would do irreparable harm” to the bond transaction and blocked any raid pending a court hearing Jan. 20.
The scene of the crime is the Sho-Ka-Wah Casino in Hopeland, California. The perpetrators are eight locals, aged 38 to 47, including former casino employee Joan Elizabeth Pickron. The crime, according to state Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Kate Gibbs, is “manipulating jackpot slot machines to cheat the casino.”
This group of gamblers have been hacking the casino’s slot machines for more than three years. No details have been release about how the group rigged the jackpot slots, but their efforts earned them a total of more than $100,000 in ill-gotten wins.
The California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Gambling Control has been investigating the situation since late 2008, and arrests were finally made last week. All eight offenders now face charges of embezzlement and grand theft.
Normally, the security of casino slot machines is quite strong, so the fact that these gamblers were able to manipulate the machines is surprising. Online jackpot slots are even more secure, since all games are monitored electronically. Fortunately, this sort of crime is rare, and even when something like this does happen, it has little effect on other patrons of the casino where the crime takes place.
As though it weren’t enough for one lucky Ladbrokes Casino player to take £75,000 on a single spin, as though it weren’t enough that he did it on a free spin earned through a promotion, the big winner also pulled off the feat on a Friday the 13th.
Ladbrokes Online Casino just released a few details – though not the identity – about their £75,000 winner, and it’s a story about beating the odds all the way. The London resident first won in the casino’s “Single Day Prize Draw Promotion,” which offered randomly-awarded £10, £25 and £50 prizes for play on the Mega Moolah Isis progressive slot.
Even stranger about this story is that just last month a Ladbrokes customer hit Mega Moolah Isis for over £88,000 – and that player was also from London! With such a stacking up of coincidences, it’s no wonder magical Friday the 13th paid off in strange ways, one supposes.
A representative for Ladbrokes marketing said that “A £75,000 win on Friday the 13th is amazing. It just goes to show that this day can be lucky for some! We have had so many big winners in the last few months that 2010 is starting to look very good for our customers.”
With a bit more than a trace of worry, Ladbrokes also reminds that the progressive jackpot on the record-breaking Mega Moolah progressive slot has just passed £4 million.
A couple of twenty-something Canadians hit a massive progressive slot jackpot while playing at Casino Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada over the weekend. The pair started the evening at the roulette tables, and they were having a rough time. After losing more money than they would have liked, the young men returned later in the evening, resolute to do better.
A slot machine caught their eye – it was called Monte Carlo, and it had been occupied most of the night. They saw their chance and dropped some coins on the game. Their luck changed. A $40 gamble helped them hit the $913,940 jackpot, changing their lives forever.
“I was extremely shocked,” said one of the lucky winners. “I didn’t say too much for the entire night. I was up until about 5 a.m. just sitting there.”
The last time Monte Carlo hit was back in 2008, but this weekend’s win set a record for the biggest amount won in the 14 years the casino has been open. It is also the largest slot payout ever in Canada.
Slot fans hoping to net their own massive jackpot should try their hands on Mega Moolah, an online slot machine with a jackpot that is sitting at almost $4 million, growing bigger by the minute.
PKR Casino player ‘PaulTuscan’ just hit the jackpot for the second time in the past 9 months, winning $174,084 on the Queen of Pyramids progressive slot game. Last November, PaulTuscan hit a similar jackpot, winning $88,000 on a game called ‘Fruit Mania’. This brings the man’s winnings up past a quarter of a million dollars in the last year alone.
The Welsh gambler took notice of Queen of Pyramids slot when he saw that its progressive jackpot had climbed above $90,000. “Then it topped $174,004.01 and it was the most I have seen it at,” said Paul. “The rest is history as they say.”
The lucky slot fan is considering spending his winnings on an Aston Martin, or maybe a couple of long holidays.
PKR Casino is a sister site to the famous PKR Poker. The casino runs on software designed by Playtech which operates one of the largest networks of progressive jackpots in the world. Their progressive games can be played for as little as $0.50, and 1% of each bet made on the game is added to the jackpot, which grows and grows until a lucky player like PaulTuscan comes along and wins the whole thing.
Right now, two of Playtech’s progressive slot games have jackpots that are more than a million dollars. Beach Life is sitting at $1.2 million, while Gold Rally is just behind at $1.1 million. These prizes can pay out at any time. Who will be the next lucky jackpot winner?
Quite possibly the hottest online casino on the entire Internet in terms of big payouts last month was Spin Palace Casino. The Microgaming-powered casino reported no fewer than five progressive jackpot winners in addition to another nine players who took home $18,000 or more on standard video slot games.
July’s biggest winner at Spin Palace was a player known as S.P. Playing Treasure Nile on July 19th, S.P. lined up enough jackpot symbols to win a nice €52,815.82 (about $68,300) on the 9-payline machine.
Some smaller progressive jackpots won in July at Spin Palace include the €10,985.06 ($14,125) taken by M.D.R. at LotsaLoot when he hit three LotsaLoot symbols on payline 5. Player E.L. won a piece of the Mega Moolah jackpot worth €10,302.20 (almost $13,000) from Mega Moolah Summertime Slot. (The Mega Moolah bonus is now at over $3.8 million, by the way.) And M.B. took one of the smaller Mega Moolah progressive jackpots to start the month by winning $10,015.39.
Finally, the biggest table game winner was surely L.V.D.P. who won €20,000 on the Progressive Cyberstud Poker game there.
Slot players M.W., R.H. and V.L. each registered big wins in July, taking Spin Palace for over $154,000 combined. M.W. was the single largest winner after seeing quite a run on Isis and Fortune Finder slots for nearly $70,000. G.P. also recorded a nice windfall, going for $20,730 on Tomb Raider: Secret of the Sword slot.
Barnaby Jack has a special power – he can walk up to an ATM and trick the machine into thinking it is a casino jackpot slot game. Once Barnaby has performed his magic, the ATM will start spitting out money onto the ground faster than most people can enter their PIN code.
Barnaby is no magician. He is actually a security researcher, and he recently demonstrated his unique hacking skills at the Black Hat Security Conference in Las Vegas. His session, titled “Jackpotting Automated Teller Machines Redux”, was put together to bring attention to issues of digital security in today’s world of computers.
During the Black Hat conference, Barnaby hacked two different brands of ATM machines. He bought the machines online, and spent years going over the program code that powers them, looking for weaknesses. These are not the only ATMs he has hacked; in fact, Barnaby says he has yet to find an ATM that he couldn’t exploit to get free cash.
The issue of digital security in the online gambling world has been in the news recently, after Canada’s BC Lottery Commission launched the country’s first-ever fully licensed internet gambling website. Unfortunately, the site contained a massive security glitch, and within hours it had to be shut down. It seems that player accounts were crossing over, and certain casino users were able to gamble with other players’ money. Some 200 accounts were compromised before the site was taken offline.
Fortunately, these sorts of problems with online gambling sites are rare. The software that powers online casinos is rigorously tested prior to release, and new games undergo testing by third-party companies to make sure they are random and fair. Just as most people have no idea how to hack an ATM, most online casino users can gamble for years and years without ever running into problems.
A member of Sun Vegas Casino known only as DM hit his third progressive jackpot yesterday, bringing his total progressive winnings up to an amazing $157,200.
DM’s first big win came two and a half months ago, when he hit the Lotsa Loot progressive jackpot and won $58,222. Last month he got lucky again, grabbing a $30,347 progressive prize on Jackpot Deuces, a single-hand video poker game. DM’s most recent win came from another progressive jackpot slot called Fruit Fiesta, and totals $68,631.
“Well done DM!” says Austin Green, manager of Sun Vegas Casino. “Three big wins in as many months is an outstanding achievement.”
Sun Vegas Casino, member of the Vegas Partner Lounge, is powered by Microgaming software and provides its members with more than 450 different online casino games, including more than a dozen progressive jackpot titles. At the time of writing this, more than $5 million in progressive jackpot prizes are available across these games at Sun Vegas Casino, just waiting for a lucky player like DM to scoop them up.
Dave from Lancashire has always been fond of online gambling sites in the UK, but this week his love grew even stronger. Dave just won a £121,691 progressive jackpot prize, and he couldn’t be happier. He was playing on a slot called Pharaoh’s Treasure, an ancient Egyptian themed game that is proving very popular among players.
Pharaoh’s Treasure is anything but cursed. In fact, this progressive jackpot slot has already been won twice this year, each time dishing out more than £100,000 to the lucky winner.
“I was in shock when I won,” said Dave, “it didn’t really sink in for a while. It was an absolutely great feeling.”
“I feel great about the win, you read about big wins but never believe it will happen to you!”
Dave plans to use a big chunk of the jackpot money to pay off his mortgage and clear a few other debts he has, and then wants to go on a nice holiday. With the summer weather heating up, Dave won at just the right time of the year.
Pharaoh’s Treasure is just one of dozens of progressive jackpot slots available online. While these £100,000+ payouts are impressive, they pale in comparison to some of the larger progressive jackpots. For example, a Microgaming jackpot game called Mega Moolah is now sitting at £3.5 million, and could be won by anyone at any time! These games tend to cost more to play than regular internet slots, but the payoff potential is so huge that it’s usually worth it.
Linda W., a Bodog Casino player from the US state of Indiana, won a massive progressive jackpot prize this week while enjoying her favorite online slot game. Linda, 61, runs a landscaping business with her husband; the two often turn to Bodog Casino to wind down and relax after a long day’s work.
The huge prize was on a progressive slot called Jackpot Piñatas. After playing for a while and not doing so well, the couple’s account was down to just $39. Suddenly, Jackpot Piñatas’ bonus round launched, immediately triggering ten free spins. On the second free spin, the reels hit first one, then two, then a full row of Bull symbols, signaling that the pair had just won the game’s progressive jackpot prize.
The payout? An impressive $470,850! The couple has decided to use the money to help balance their books, and will then pour whatever remains into their landscaping business. Linda also hopes to use some of the winnings to help out some of her friends, including a grandchild who she says could use some help covering the costs of college.
Jackpot Piñatas is a Mexican fiesta is a 20-line RealTime Gaming software progressive jackpot slot with a spicy Mexican fiesta theme. Linda prefers this slot over the many other progressive jackpot games at Bodog Casino. “It’s my favorite game due to its brightness and amusement,” she says. It has also brought her the most luck – she has won smaller prizes of a couple of thousand dollars in the past.
Linda’s other favorite games at Bodog Casino include Triple 7 Inferno, Bank On It!, Paradise Dreams, Rain Dance, Fruit Frenzy and Honey to the Bee. Bodog is one of the most popular online casinos accepting US players. It offers more than 100 games for members to explore, including more than a dozen progressive jackpot slots that can pay out just as much as Jackpot Piñatas did! Join Bodog Casino now and claim a 10% welcome bonus up to $100 – maybe you will become the next big Bodog winner.
An interesting study printed in 2009 and recently put online at the Journal of Consumer Research website is a report entitled “Blackjack in the Kitchen: Understanding Online versus Casino Gambling.” Written by June Cotte and Kathryn A. Latour of the University of Western Ontario, the findings are the results of a psychological study of 30 gamblers.
Two major points are made in the study: Firstly, like most academics studying the subject ultimately conclude, Internet gambling should be regulated, but the second point was far more interesting and unexpected. Cotte and Latour immediately noted the dramatic diametrical opposition of standard casino and online casino players: Rarely did one type or the other cross over into the other gaming experience.
Both land-based and online casino visitors noted the social element of their preference, namely that visiting a real-life casino is a highly social experience and that Internet gambling is a solitary activity – and both groups cited this difference as the no. 1 reason for their choice.
“Casino gamblers perceive online gambling as bereft of social connections, which was pivotal to the enjoyment of gambling for them,” reads the study in part. “The online gamblers also perceive this lack of social connectedness in virtual gambling. But for them, this aspect is positive; it is one crucial reason the online gamblers gave for their choice to stay home and gamble. Many online gamblers chose the online environment because of the perception of the lack of social connections.”
The study also notes an interesting justification for those of modest budgets to enjoy playing in online gambling sites: “The perceived anonymity of the online environment equalizes gamblers, so that low rollers and high rollers are treated equally. In contrast, in a casino more experienced gamblers who bet larger amounts are treated specially, and some gamblers go to the casino seeking such ego gratification.”
“Blackjack in the Kitchen” is available by subscription only from Chicago Journals.
There are hundreds of casinos scattered all across the internet, and it would take even the most dedicated player months to try them all out in a quest to find the top online blackjack games. Fortunately, this is not necessary, because there is an easier way to find out which casinos offer the best games – the key is to look at the software.
Each online casino runs on specific gaming software, and since there are just a handful of different casino software providers out there, looking at the software a site operates on can give players a good idea about what games that casino will offer. Of course, there is still the problem of deciding what games are the best, because every player will have a different opinion! To solve this, here are a few different ways of looking at things.
Players who live for variety should look at Microgaming casino games to satisfy their online blackjack cravings. Microgaming offers more games than any other casino software (over 450 at the last count), and included in this massive game selection is a tremendous selection of more than 40 different styles of blackjack! Microgaming casinos are sure to keep blackjack fans busy for a long, long time.
Most realistic games
This is a tie between two different casino softwares: Cryptologic and and WagerWorks. Both of these software producers focus on realism, with lifelike tables, natural looking cards and chips, and visual embellishments like brass card shoes and polished wood table rims. These games also incorporate animations and sound effects to add to the realism.
Most unique games
The blackjack titles offered by RealTime Gaming casinos are very special. They don’t aim for realism, but instead they try to look smooth and classy. A cool blue and black color scheme sets the stage, while bold cards and chips make the games easy to follow. The games are fast-paced and intense, making for exciting online gameplay.
Most casino software companies offer at a progressive blackjack game. These games usually require a special side bet to enable the progressive payout, so they’re more expensive to play, but the jackpots can grow to enormous sizes, making them worth going for. The biggest progressive blackjack jackpots tend to come from the games offered by Playtech and Vegas Technology.
By now, it should be clear that choosing the best online blackjack games is not an easy task. It really depends on what features a player values in a game, whether it’s variety, realism, novelty, or big payouts. The best way to make a final decision is to just try one or two casinos from each software provider – only then can a player truly know which internet blackjack games they like best.
More than one Internet gambler has succumbed a little bit to World Cup Fever, with the big tournament now being watched all over the world – and promoted all over Internet casinos. Everyone has football-themed games, and the following are just a sample of some of the best online casino games for World Cup time.
In old-fashioned pub slots, Rival has the brand new Global Cup Soccer. It’s a one payline, three reel game with all the symbols of football present. Top payout on this game is 2,500 coins. Global Cup Soccer may be found at any Rival Gaming-powered online casino.
Microgaming-powered casinos have installed an online video slot in time for the big tournament as well: Soccer Safari blends cartoon animals with World Cup action and to further appeal to a wide audience has a big 60,000 coin jackpot.
Best of the lot in video slots has got to be Playtech’s Top Trumps World Football Stars and Top Trumps World Football Legends. In Football Stars, choose the teams you want to face off and players from those teams become high-paying symbols on the reels – the most popular choices are reportedly England and Brazil. World Football Legends is also a five reel 15 payline slot game in the football theme, but with set images on the reels of Zidane, Carlos and Jairzinho.
There are some specialty video games for the World Cup out there, too. The Casino Rewards group of Microgaming casinos has installed its World Cup Koala Game along with an exclusive promotion. Players use the koala bear goalkeeper to stop as many penalty shots as possible for Australia while thrilling to the roar of the crowd. The player with the most saves at the end of June 30 will win the top prize of $500.
Finally, Virgin Casino offers an interesting instant win scratch card game entitled Goal! Three2Win. Simply choose from the covered spaces until you match three of a kind. In standard play receive between 1 and 50 coins with a winning combination, but in the random “Mystery Round,” win up to an amazing 500,000 coins.
No matter how you feel about the World Cup, any of these games make for a fun online casino experience. Enjoy them while they last, because the World Cup will be over before you know it – for another four years.
Two things seem certain and universal about Internet gambling: One, if people want to gamble online, they will in spite of vague threats from law enforcement; and two, somebody somewhere is making a lot of tax-free money.
Many European nations are currently modernizing their national laws to account for the rise in Internet gambling in the past 10 years. In countries such as France and Italy, a combination of pressure from the European Commission on fair competition laws plus the realization by state-run gaming monopolies that benefit would come from regulation and taxation will soon result in more freedom and safer gaming for those countries’ consumers.
Though the amount of online gambling being done is impossible to know, virtually every country without regulation in place has commissioned a study on how much money their government could stand to earn in revenue should online slots (estimated to represent 85-90% of all gambling monies collected) and reputable online casinos offering them be legalized.
While advisory firm KPMG has forecasted that the global online betting market will reach $32 billion by 2012, some specific representative numbers from around the world include the following.
• U.S. congressman Barney Frank, the chief advocate of creating regulatory law for online casinos in America, claims that online slots alone could generate $41.3 billion in tax revenue over the next 10 years. Taxing all gambling would make $62.7 billion for the government.
• Officials estimated that Thai citizens will spend $1 billion on World Cup gambling alone.
• Upon announcing that Greece could have online gambling made fully legal by 2011, state monopoly OPAP stated that the country’s market could be worth about €5 billion ($6.13 billion) in taxable revenue.
• An estimate from Denmark shows that citizens there spend €8.3 million per year at online casinos.
• Australia’s Productivity Commission estimated that nearly 750,000 Australians would *lose* $1 billion on unregulated online casinos in 2010.
The point: By allowing online casinos to go unregulated, the world’s governments are losing money hand over fist daily. One would think that in this global economy, such an opportunity would not be wasted. In the case of online casino slots, all that glitters could be gold – if only the politicians let it.
Gaming group 888 has had a difficult 2010 and it seems things are only going to get worse. After releasing a profit warning showing that poker turnover had decreased by 18% between January and May, 888 now anticipates losing even more business during the 2010 World Cup this summer. While 888 blames an industry-wide decline, currency fluctuation and even illegal casino operators for their woes, some financial experts wonder if 888 is ripe for a takeover.
The Guardian: Gaming group 888 could attract predators after profit warning
After a gloomy warning from 888 spokespeople regarding revenue between January and May, the company has left itself vulnerable to takeover. Following up on a similar negative forecast released in April, 888 showed that the number of players at its poker website dropped by about 18% in the first five months of 2010.
Though 888 believes the downward trend to be industry-wide and that its own program of cost-cutting must be adhered to, spokesmen maintained that 888 would continue its strategy of acquisition – a plan 888 seems to be incapable of at present.
Rumors that bigger companies Party Gaming and/or Ladbrokes might make a bid at a takeover of 888 emerged while 888 stocks lost 21% of value on the day of the announcement to finish trading at 53.25p. Greg Johnson of investment banking services provider Shore Capital stated that Ladbrokes “needs greater scale in its online operation, in our view,” making 888 operation a perfect match.
This is London: 888 will spend World Cup behind the sofa as it predicts strain on profits
Internet casino 888 warned that the upcoming World Cup would actually be bad for its business, as its staple poker players are expected to be spending less time and money at the online poker tables and instead devote more energy to football. “Online gaming trading during the period of the World Cup will be difficult,” said 888 CEO Gigi Levy as he announced the profit warning.
Levy also stated that profits for 888 in year 2010 would be “significantly lower than previous market expectations” of $45.5 million.
As for the current drop in poker business at 888, illegal online operators in America were blamed for eating into profits, though the numbers show that high-rollers visit the site less frequently than ever. Levy also blamed currency fluctuation for its financial woes, stating that $5 million in revenue had been lost in 2010 so far because of exchange rates: Though 888 does most business in euros and pounds sterling, revenue is reported in terms of U.S. dollars.
The (London) Express: 888’s World Cup Fears
Online gaming company 888 Holdings issued a warning on profits yesterday in anticipation of casino gamers deserting the site to turn attention to the 2010 World Cup tournament: “Instead of staying in and using 888,” said one 888 spokesman, “people are more likely to go down the pub and watch the football.”
A pair of financial analysts offered harsh assessments of 888’s current financial state. One unnamed analyst stated that “The potential for 888 to be acquired has diminished,” while James Hollins of corporate advisory firm Daniel Stewart & Co. said that “888’s weak poker offering and lack of significant sports offering has worked against it.”
The state lottery groups of several Canadian provinces are joining forces to build what will eventually be a nation-wide mobile gambling platform offering casino-style games as well as internet poker. The system will use geo-location technology to make sure players are within the proper jurisdiction before they will be allowed to play.
Winnipeg Free Press: Provinces get in the game
Canadians spend an estimated $1 billion a year gambling on the internet and most of this money goes to offshore gambling sites. Recently, the provinces have been moving in to grab their share of this money.
Later this year, six Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Quebec and the four Atlantic provinces) intend to share a common online gambling platform that will offer online poker and internet casino games.
The Atlantic Lottery Corp. and the British Columbia Lottery Corp. have both been offering online gambling for several years, but so far, their internet gambling offerings only make up about 1% of their revenues. They expect this number to climb once they begin to offer the types of online casino games that players can currently only access through offshore gambling sites.
“We estimate that by the end of 2012/13, e-gaming revenue will be about 3.5 per cent of BCLC’s overall revenue,” a corporation spokeswoman said.
The Montreal Gazette: Gambling on the go
Loto-Québec, B.C. Lottery Corp. and Atlantic Lottery Corp. have announced a plan to launch a common online gambling platform this fall.
Bob Rybak, a consultant working with Atlantic Lottery, says the system will likely expand through the rest of Canada 18 months, as Western Lottery Corp. and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. join in.
Canadian gamblers spent around $800 million gambling online in 2009, and according to Rybak,”the vast majority of that money going offshore.”
Provinces want to funnel some of that money back into Canada, so lottery corporations have figured out a way to provide “a legal and credible” option to Canadian gamblers. The new platform will include casino-style gambling as well as an online poker network.
Rybak envisions players using mobile phones, laptops and lottery kiosk terminals to plug into a library of online casino games. It is a vision of “gambling-on-the-go”. Wireless devices like the Apple iPad will even be added to the mix, says Rybak.
The system will use geo-location technology to make sure that only within approved jurisdictions can access the site. Other software will help determine the gambler’s identity for age verification purposes.
Times Colonist: Nationwide platform to link gamblers on the go
B.C. Lottery Corp. is working to build a nationwide Canadian internet gambling platform that will give players access to online casino games and poker games through mobile devices such as cellphones and netbooks.
The platform will go live this fall, and will be launched in cooperation with Loto-Québec and Atlantic Lottery. Bob Rybak, a gambling consultant with Atlantic Lottery, expects the rest of Canada’s provinces to join eventually.
Rybak stresses that public acceptance of a nationwide online gambling system will depend on the system’s ability to ensure underage players cannot access the games.
Like their offshore competitors, Canada’s online gambling groups will use geo-location software to make sure gamblers are within the proper jurisdictions before they will be allowed to sign up and play.
In April, after a Florida man collected over $130K in winnings from his bookie, the bookie called Officer Villar, and arranged for the gambler to be pulled over. Villar, along with his cousin who was with him impersonating a cop, took the money from the man calling it “evidence” and fled the scene. Now, a month later, the three have been arrested for armed robbery.
The Miami Herald: Officer charged in $131K gambling rip-off
When Miami police officer John Francisco Villar Jr. pulled over a man on the Palmetto Expressway last month, he confiscated a bag filled with $131,000 in cash. The bag wasn’t evidence – Fillar was stealing it.
Villar was arrested on Tuesday. He, his cousin, and a third man who runs an online gambling site are being accused of orchestrating the robbery.
The story is as follows: Marvin Duarte was out collecting his winnings from his bookie, Leonardo Lastre. As Duarte was driving home, Officer John Villar pulled his unmarked Ford Taurus (license plate covered) behind Duarte’s car with his police lights flashing. Villar had plain clothes on, with his badge hanging around his neck. Also with him was his cousin, wearing a bullet proof vest with the word “police” across the chest. Villar inspected Duarte’s car, found the money, took it as “evidence”, and fled.
It was later discovered through phone records that Officer Villar was in touch with bookie Leonardo Lastre, with Villar basically acting as a hired thug who was sent out to retrieve the money.
“It’s sad that an officer would use his authority in order to commit such unlawful acts,” said Detective Bobby Williams.
The charges against Villar include felony armed robbery with a firearm, armed burglary and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
NBC Miami: Crooked Cop Helped Bookie Rob Gambler: Report
A Miami cop was busted this week after police found out he worked with a local bookie to steal thousands of dollars from a gambler.
Officer John Villar, 28, was arrested after he and his cousin Fausto Villar (who is not a cop) pulled over the gambler in April using Villar’s unmarked police car. The gambler, Victor Duarte, was returning from a visit to his bookie, Leonardo Lastre, who had paid him $131,000 cash in winnings.
After Duarte left with his money, Lastre called Officer Villar with details about Duarte’s car and where he was headed. Villar pulled Duarte over and took the money, saying it was “evidence”. Duarte started to shout for help, but the men fled the scene.
Villar and his cousin, along with the bookie Lastre, have all been arrested. They face charges of armed robbery, armed burglary and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Fausto Villar also faces charges of impersonating a police officer.
CBS 4 South Florida News: Miami-Dade Cop, Cousin Accused Of Robbing Gambler
A Miami-Dade police officer has been charged with using his gun and badge to steal $131 thousand in cash from sports gambler Victor Duarte. Duarte placed several bets with bookie Leonardo Lastre who operates an illegal gambling operation. After Lastre paid the man his winnings, he phoned Officer Villar, who then pulled over the gambler and stole the money back with the help of his cousin, who was impersonating a police officer.
According to an internal investigation by Miami-Dade police, Bookie Lastre and Officer Villar had been in contact several times before the robbery, planning the operation. It event turned out that some of the money in the bag that Villar stole was his own, and that he had placed it there while vising Laste the day of the robbery.
After the robbery, Duarte gave chase, but Villar got away. Soon Duarte saw a Florida State Trooper, and told him what happened. When the Trooper Matthew Mihm pulled Villar over a few minutes later, he noticed the license plate on his car had been covered. Villar’s cousin ran off on foot with the money, without Mihm noticing.
Eventually, officials learned the truth, and got a search warrant for Villar’s vehicle, where they found evidence of the crime. Villar, his cousin, and Lastre the bookie now face charges of armed robbery.
The gambling industry is one that continues to blossom exponentially. Originally, Las Vegas was considered to be the gambling capital of the world. Macau passed it in popularity after just a few short years and Japan is starting to look like a promising venture for some of the world’s larger gambling operations.
The Street: Las Vegas Sands Bets on Japan
Las Vegas Sands plans on expanding its Macau-based Sands China into Japan, which it predicts could become Asia’s largest gaming market. Sands has already been approach by local gaming firms in Japan.
Gaming is still week in the U.S. and Macau has been the focus of casino operators. In the first quarter Sands Macau, which has three casinos in the Chinese gambling enclave, saw its profit quadruple to $110.5 million from $26.7 million just one year ago.
Revenue at Sands China shot up 24% to $944 million from $761.7 million in the year-ago period. Overall, Macau posted a record 70% surge in gaming revenue in April to $1.76 billion. And it appears the gambling hub could be on track for another record month.
Casino operators aren’t just limiting their Asian expansion to Macau. Last month, Sands opened the first part of its $5.5 billion hotel-casino in Singapore. The company expects the Singapore casino could earn $1 billion annually. MGM has also said that it is looking into other gaming markets, including Vietnam.
Reuters: Sands China bets on Japan; sees strong Q2
Macau-based Sands China, the world’s second-most valuable casino operator, has its sights on expanding into Japan, which it predicts could become Asia’s largest gambling market.
Expanding in Asia beyond Macau has become important for casino operators such as Sands and Wynn Resorts, which worry about Beijing’s erratic travel restrictions on mainland Chinese visiting Macau, the only place in the country where casino gambling is legal.
Japan has long debated legalizing casino gambling and could make a decision soon as it looks to the example of Singapore, which recently opened two major casino resorts. Sands China’s parent Las Vegas Sands opened its $5.5 billion Singapore casino resort, the world’ second-most expensive, late last month.
Japan has made slow progress on allowing casinos, partly due to fears they could trigger social problems.
If Japan moves to legalise casino gambling, the first casino could open by around 2014-15, said Jacobs, who was chief executive of an international management services firm before he joined Las Vegas Sands in March last year.
Channel News Asia: Marina Bay Sands targeting Southeast Asian market
The $5.5 billion Marina Bay Sands integrated resort is betting its chips on the Southeast Asian market. The region is expected to account for over a third of its business in Singapore, according to Sheldon Adelson, the
chairman of its parent company Las Vegas Sands.
He said the company is also considering building integrated resorts in Europe and Japan.
The Marina Bay Sands resort, which was partially opened on Tuesday, April 27, is expected to break even in just 5 years.
Marina Bay Sands will be targeting primary markets like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore. Combined, these countries will make up some 40 per cent of Marina Bay Sands’ business (10 per cent each from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand; and 8 per cent from Vietnam). China will account for about 6 per cent of its business.
Adelson added: “Asia could use 5 or 10 Las Vegases fully built out with 140,000 rooms each. That would give you from 700,000 to 1.4 million rooms for destination resorts for people all over Asia to go to. And in my opinion, you will never saturate the market.
Just when we thought it was safe to get back in the water, research shows that the dreaded recession is still pressing down on Americans. Overall, national revenue through gambling dropped over 5%, but progress in some states even during the recession gives a nation hope.
USA Today: Casino gamblers tightened purse strings in recession
Americans have been rolling the dice less as the economy soured. According to the American Gaming Association, revenue from casino gambling fell 5.5% overall last year, with the take falling $1.8 billion from the $32.5 billion of revenue in 2008. Revenue fell in 8 of the 12 states that have casino gambling.
Interestingly, consumers spent more last year gambling at casinos than they did on candy or movie tickets. Spending on lotto tickets hasn’t dropped much. According to La Fleur’s 2010 World Lottery Almanac, states had lottery revenues of $53.1 billion in fiscal year 2009, compared with $53.4 billion in fiscal year 2008.
Six of 12 states with racetrack casinos reported revenue increases, and six reported decreases. Maine had the largest increase, 17.2%, and Iowa took the biggest hit, a 6.7% decline.
Colorado, Indiana, Missouri and Pennsylvania were the only states that posted an increase in casino gambling revenue, according to the association. Pennsylvania saw revenue rise because two casinos opened last year. Kansas, brought in nearly $2 million after its first casino opened
New gaming laws increased some revenue. Colorado relaxed bet limits and increased hours and types of games. Missouri removed loss limits. Casinos in 13 states employed about 328,000 workers last year, compared with about 357,000 in 2008. Casinos contributed $5.6 billion in tax revenue to state and local governments last year, a 1.6% drop from 2008.
Stateline: Gambling slowdown reduces states’ take
The economic slowdown that’s battered the bottom line of states has also reduced their take of gambling taxes, according to a report released Thursday. The American Gaming Association said gaming revenues dropped 5.5 percent across the country last year. State revenues from taxes on gaming dropped 1.6 percent.
New Jersey took the biggest hit, as gaming tax revenues dropped 18.6% between 2008 and 2009. Nevada and Mississippi were also hard-hit, losing 10.4% and 9.4%, respectively.
Four of the 13 states that allow commercial casinos actually did better last year than in the previous year. The report credits voter initiatives in 2008 that legalized more gambling for boosting revenues in both Colorado and Missouri.
Colorado raised its bet limit from $5 to $100; and state gaming taxes increased by 2.6%. Missouri did away with a rule that limited gamblers’ losses to $500 in a two-hour period; its taxes went up 5.9 percent. By far the biggest revenue winner, though, was Pennsylvania, which opened two new casinos in 2009. Its gaming revenues jumped by 21.6%.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: State’s casino numbers buck national trend
Pennsylvania, where new casinos are still opening and legalized slot play is still a novelty, added more than 3,200 gambling-related jobs and yielded big revenue increases in 2009, a year in which casino revenues declined nationally by more than 5%.
Statistics were presented in the American Gaming Association’s annual industry report, which was released Thursday. Pennsylvania’s revenues increased by almost 22%, aided by the 2009 opening of Rivers Casino on the North Shore and the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem.
Nationally, casinos took in $30.74 billion in 2009, down nearly $1.8 billion from 2008. It’s the 2nd year of declining casino revenues nationally, and as a result, the number of people employed in the industry dropped by almost 30,000, or 8.1%.
Nevada’s casinos saw 2009 revenues decline by 10.4% from 2008 numbers, while Pennsylvania’s neighbors in Atlantic City, N.J., performed even worse, with a 13.3% decline. Western Pennsylvania is still in the running for 2 more casinos – one, a proposed racetrack casino in Lawrence County; the other, a smaller “resort” casino at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County.