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The week in pictures: November 11th – November 17th, 2014

Nov 19, 2014

Weekly news in pictures

The world last week was a place of excitement and disaster so lets look back at some of the big stories that hit the headlines

Quatar was cleared of allegations of wrong doing surrounding their being awarded the 2022 World Cup by FIFA the body that oversees international soccer. Despite a huge number of allegations the report supposedly gave the rich nation in which it’s actually too hot to feasibly play football a clean bill of health although the report itself is not to be published in full and has already been criticized by one of the authors for being misrepresented. UEFA are already threatening to quit FIFA over the scandal.And a scandal is perhaps what the Rosetta project could become as the 1.4 billion Euro adventure into the depths of space managed to get 300 million miles from Earth, catch up with a speeding comet and then crash into it, bounce a few times and dive into one of the few places its solar panels couldn’t recharge its batteries. Still hailed as a huge success by the scientific community it remains to be seen just how much real information will be gleaned from the results.

Of course real information is hard to come by these days and Vladimir Putin seemed a tad disingenuous when he cited a long journey home and a need for sleep as being the reasons behind his leaving the G20 Summit in Australia quite as early as he did. Of course many observers would point to the fact just about every other leader had lambasted him for his attitude and behavior over Ukraine, and that Russia was rapidly becoming isolated on the world stage.

In sports a very disappointed Roger Federer was forced to pull out of the ATP World Tour final versus long term rival Novak Djokovic due to a back injury. Apologizing in person at the O2 Arena in London he said sorry for not being match fit in what was a massive PR disaster for the ATP, and an unfortunately tainted default win for Djokovic who admitted this wasn’t the way he wanted to win the trophy. Will Federer recover his fitness or have we seen the last of the six time ATP champion? Find out on our daily news pages but in the meantime lets have a look back at our headlines from last week.

1. One company’s trash is another company’s treasure. With Echo Group hunting VIP gamblers, the Townsville casino was becoming too insignificant in the whole picture, so the company sold it for $70 million to someone willing to fix it up and revive it.
Jupiter Townsville

Townsville’s gem (Photo: Morgan Evan)

2. After remote gambling operators have taken a major financial blow because of the new license fees and taxes imposed in the UK, the Maltese Government is offering to help heal their bleeding wounds.
Parliamentary Secretary José Herrera comes to the rescue (Photo: Times of Malta)

Parliamentary Secretary José Herrera comes to the rescue (Photo: Times of Malta)

3. A trained chef and poker player, Martin Jacobson has surely figured out the secret recipe for success, because he just won $10 million and his very first gold bracelet at the World Series of Poker.
If  the game of poker were a dish...what would it be?  (Photo: Martin  Jacobson blog)

If the game of poker were a dish…what would it be? (Photo: Martin Jacobson blog)

4. It took a long time, but Atlantic City is finally waking up and smelling the coffee. Losing five casinos and leaving thousands of workers unemployed has finally hurt enough to convince officials that it’s time for a change.
Casino Campus

Casino Campus (Photo: Spy Hollywood)

5. One of the largest Asian gambling groups, Genting, is resilient to the general decline on the gambling market.
Genting says VIPs will save the day

Genting says VIPs will save the day (Photo: Genting Casino)

6. The state of Illinois allowed video gaming machines in bars and restaurants and so far the experience has been positive.
Joy of casino: Illinois style (Photo:)

Casino joy: Illinois style (Photo: Chris LaPelusa/Sun Day Photo)

7. New information has been made available in connection to Paul Phua illegal betting ring, which might lead to case dismissal.
Paul Phua: case dismissed? title=

Paul Phua: case dismissed? (Photo: Youtube via The Review Journal )

Meanwhile Boko Haran we accused of being behind the suicide bombing that struck a Nigerian school assembly killing 46 and injuring 79 students, an event that made a mockery of government claims to have signed a ceasefire with the Islamic terrorist group, and elsewhere the Dutch have discovered a new outbreak of an even more contagious, and thus dangerous, strain of bird flu that can be transmitted to humans. Will we all end up tarred and feathered? You’ll have to keep up to date with our daily news pages to find out.

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Investor Plans Remake of Townsville Casino

Nov 12, 2014
Chris Morris will revive the Jupiters casino

Chris Morris will revive the Jupiters casino

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.”

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