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The week in pictures: October 28th – November 3rd, 2014

Nov 04, 2014

Weekly news in pictures

Last week saw some amazing events around the world so lets take a quick look at some of the biggest that hit the headlines

In Burkina Faso protestors in the capital Ouagadougou threw out their President of 27 years after he tried to extend that via a constitutional change. They set fire to the parliament building and the army had to step in to “restore order”. Protestors then took to the streets again to ensure the army didn’t turn peace keeping into a coup, the situation remains tense and disagreement amongst opposition leaders could prove problematic.Problematic is a word all too easily applied to space travel last week as both NASA and Virgin Galactic lost craft to accidents. NASA Antares rocket dramatically exploded shortly after lift off whilst Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic suffered a catastrophic failure during a test flight that left one pilot seriously injured and the other dead. Early reports cite a malfunction of the descent mechanism may have caused it to prematurely deploy resulting in the tragedy.

South African football weathered a tragedy of its own last week as Captain of the national team, Senzo Meyiwa was shot dead at his girlfriends house after intruders broke into the Johannesburg property. His funeral at the Moses Mabhida Stadium was attended by his teammates from the Orlando Pirates and tens of thousands of supporters. Police already have a suspect in custody and he was charged with the killing on Friday.

Elsewhere in football the weekend saw a Manchester derby in the English Premier League, and as is usual with these high-tension clashes the game saw some ugly moments including the sending off of United’s center-half Smalling who seemed to forget he was playing football, and in the end, Man City got the only, and decisive goal, will things be so clear cut this week? Find out on our daily news pages, but for the time being lets look back at what made our headlines last week.

1. If you thought you knew everything about James Packer’s new VIP casino at Barangaroo, guess again. The government and the investor have been keeping secrets from the public.
VIP Barangaroo

The new VIP casino is a bit of a dark horse (Photo: Sydney Morning Herald)
 

2. Things just aren’t working out for New Jersey lawmakers, who tried to find a way around the nationwide sports wagering ban. America’s biggest sports leagues have scored a point in their battle against betting, and the ball is now in judge Shipp’s court.
Michael A. Shipp

Honorable Michael A. Shipp said…’time out’ (Photo: Carmen Natale)
 

3. A famous conman known for selling fake weight loss products has gotten himself into trouble by running an international betting scheme that brought him a fortune.
Peter Foster Jail

Sports Trading Club’s boss, behind bars (Photo: Mike Batterham)
 

4. The FBI might have screwed up its own case against an Asian betting ring that operated in Las Vegas during the FIFA World Cup, by using illegal methods to gather evidence.
Paul Phua FBI footage

‘Phua had the odds up on his page the whole time’ (Photo: FBI/AP)
 

5. GamblingResults found the best five Halloween promotions. Online gambling websites prepared scary-tempting offers past weekend.
5 Halloween promotions

Best online casino promotions come to life on Halloween (Photo: Mr. Green)
 

6. The FBI is trying to beat criminals at their own game and it’s not working. Alleged gambling kingpin Paul Phua could get away with his illegal betting operation because FBI agents didn’t stick to the rules during their investigation.

FBI should play by the books as well… (Photo: Global Elite)
 

7. The government leadership of Malta settled on Eden Leisure Group as the potential bidders for casino license.
Eden Leisure Group in Malta

Malta’s own piece of Eden (Photo: Eden Leisure Entertainment)
 

Meanwhile Tim Cook, CEO of Apple came out of the app-draw and announced he was proud to be gay, and the diplomatic relationship between Israel and the US dove to a new all-time low after an unnamed official from the Obama White House was quoted as saying “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit.” A move that has been seen as incendiary by the generous of spirit and as the insult it is by everyone else. Will there be more name calling this week? Keep up to date with our daily news pages.

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New VIP Casino in Sydney Surrounded by Controversy

Oct 30, 2014
Crown Resorts and the New South Wales government hide info on Barangaroo VIP casino

Crown Resorts and the New South Wales government hide info on Barangaroo VIP casino

Australian newspapers say Crown Resorts and the New South Wales government are hiding information on the new Barangaroo VIP casino.

James Packer’s plan to build a high-roller casino in Barangaroo has received a lot of scrutiny. There was so much attention surrounding the project that everyone just assumed that all details of the agreement had been revealed, in a perfectly transparent approval process.

As it turns out, this is not entirely true. Word got out that both partners of the deal – the government of New South Wales and Crown Resorts – have been keeping important details away from the public eye, and now online gambling news outlets are raging over it.

The Barangaroo casino has received approval last year and is scheduled to open in November 2019. The venue is targeted exclusively at VIP customers and high-rollers.

Sydney Morning Herald: James Packer casino documents referred to committee after NSW government fights public release

The New South Wales government is refusing to reveal redacted information from an agreement with James Packer, regarding measures to combat organized crime and corruption at his new casino in Sydney. The question of whether the information should be made public was referred to a parliamentary committee, which will discuss the matter soon.

Greens MP John Kaye, who has been pushing for the public release of the information, said: “The Parliament has set up a secret committee to look at secret documents. The public is being kept in the dark about critical anti-corruption and organized crime penetration measures at the casino. Neither the public nor the Parliament can have an informed debate about the adequacy of these measures without knowing what they are.”

According to Labor leader Luke Foley, the opposition is in favor of releasing the documents. “The opposition has a bias in favor of public release of all relevant casino documents. When the expert arbiter recommends release, that confirms our view,” he said.

Packer’s company, Crown Resorts, was recently awarded a license to operate a VIP-only casino at Barangaroo, starting November 2019. Significant parts of the deal, the so-called “VIP gaming management agreement”, were kept hidden from the public eye.

After a motion by Kaye, MPs were allowed to see the full document, but they were forbidden from disclosing its contents. However, it was revealed that the deal between Crown and the gambling regulator talks about measures to prevent organized crime infiltration and corruption at the casino.

Casino.org: Packer Sydney Casino License Docs Kept Secret from Public

Newspapers say certain documents related Packer’s license for a new casino in Sydney were stamped secret by New South Wales’ gambling regulator, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.

The documents in question relate to official agreements between Crown Resorts, the NSW government and the authority responsible for overseeing the local casino industry and making sure that companies abide by the state’s gambling laws.

Eight of these were particularly interesting, as they were referring to operations that were to be executed when the license was issued. In seven out of eight documents, the names of all those involved were revealed. However, one of them was fully censored. Even the title of the agreement was kept a secret, along with the names of all parties.

The regulator said it was only allowed to reveal information related to the Casino Control Act, and only if it’s in the public interest. The authority added that it was obligated to hide all information that could cause commercial damage, which is why it hid details in the eighth agreement.

A spokesperson for the authority said: “The information redacted in the VIP Gaming Management Agreement document would, in the view of the authority, not promote the objects of the relevant act and be commercially damaging to the licensee or related entities if released. It was the authority’s view the public interest in its disclosure did not outweigh that potential harm.”

The Greens are planning to subpoena the documents in the NSW Parliament next week. “If this is entirely innocent, then the government should be happy to allow upper house MPs to see the documents,” MP John Kaye said. “If not, then it’s clear that they are running cover for James Packer and Crown.”

Premier Mike Baird added: “There’s no secrets. I know the Greens like to talk about conspiracy and secrets but there is none, as much as they look.”

ABC: High Rollers – High Risk?

Law and security experts claim Australian casinos that target Asian VIP customers risk exposing themselves to organized crime. There is a lot of money to be made in the gambling industry, and a large part of profits come from regular players, but Australian casinos seek to attract more high-rollers, particularly gamblers from China.

Since casino games are illegal on the mainland, these players often choose to spend their money in places like Macau or Australia. They are usually brought to the casino by companies called junkets, which locate, transport and provide credit for gamblers.

Crown Resorts, the Australian casino operator led by James Packer, has recently won approval to develop a six star hotel and VIP gambling venue at Barangaroo, on the shores of Sydney Harbour. According to the media, there is evidence linking junket companies to organized crime syndicates, which is why locals fear Packer’s new business will expose the country to illegal operations.

A gambling expert told reporters that junket companies “turn to organized crime to enforce gambling debts, using violence or threats of violence. It looks like casino operators relying solely on VIP customers for its profits could be facing huge difficulties, leaving the government with a problem too.

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