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Sunday, November 30, 2008

CryptoLogic to Provide Online Casino Games for GigaMedia Casinos

CryptoLogic has just announced an exclusive contract with GigaMedia Casinos over the next few years. With two of the biggest names in Online Casino software together, both companies look set to give their Online Casino players a multitude of fun and exciting new Casino software.

The terms of the contract state that CryptoLogic will be the only external provider of Online Casino software across all of GigaMedia's Online Casinos. These include casinos like PartyCasino, InterCasino and LuckyAceCasino.

CryptoLogic plans to initially release Online Casino software in a few limited languages this quarter, but plans to expand language selection early next year.

This means a whole new selection of games available in almost every language for GigaMedia's range of Online Casinos including PartyCasino, InterCasino and LuckyAceCasino.

Brian Hadfield, the president and chief executive officer of Cryptologic, was proud to say: "I've said before that CryptoLogic's core strengths are the development of the industry's most innovative casino games and licensing our exceptional casino software to the top gaming sites around the world. CryptoLogic's exclusive partnership with GigaMedia clearly demonstrates the international appeal of our highly successful casino software, a strength on which we will continue to focus and build moving forward."

With more than 200 games under its belt, CryptoLogic has one of the largest and most comprehensive collection of Online Casino games. This is of great news to GigaMedia's Online Casinos, with places like Party Casino and InterCasino set to receive a whole new collection of Online Casino games as well as updated software.

"We are committed to delivering players the best online entertainment, and this exciting line-up from CryptoLogic featuring world-famous action heroes can help us do just that." stated Bob Cahill, chief executive officer of GigaMedia's gaming software division.

Lastly, Justin Thouin, Vice-President of Product Management and Business Development for CryptoLogic, had this to say: "Today's announcement combines CryptoLogic's award-winning online casino expertise with GigaMedia's established and growing player base."

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Rupert says journalists forsaking their own - Marketing Magazine

There are predictions of rough times ahead for the publishing industry, but it seems Rupert Murdoch believes the profession may still have a bright future, if it can get rid of reporters and editors who have ignored their readers.

“My summary of the way some of the established media has responded to the internet is this: It’s not newspapers that might become obsolete. It’s some of the editors, reporters, and proprietors who are forgetting a newspaper’s most precious asset: the bond with its readers,” says Murdoch, in remarks made as part of a lecture series sponsored by the ABC.

Murdoch, whose company News Corporation owns MySpace and The Wall Street Journal, criticised what he sees as a culture of “complacency and condescension” in newsrooms.

The 77-year-old, recalling a long career in newspapers that began with The Adelaide News in 1952, asserts the profession has failed to creatively respond to changes wrought by technology.

“It used to be that a handful of editors could decide what was news and what was not… today, editors are losing this power. The internet, for example, provides access to thousands of new sources that cover things an editor might ignore. And if you aren’t satisfied with that, you can start up your own blog, and cover and comment on the news yourself.”

These comments from Murdoch come at a time when the media landscape looks increasingly bleak for print-based and online news organizations.

A recent report by US research company, Goldman Sachs, predicts that advertising pressure will continue because of the declines in the auto and financial industries. Online outlets are also feeling the impact.

Despite these potential blemishes, however, Murdoch believes newspapers can still count on circulation gains “if papers provide readers with news they can trust.” He adds that they will also need to embrace technology advances like RSS feeds and targeted e-mails.

“The newspaper, or a very close electronic cousin, will always be around. It may not be thrown on your front doorstep the way it is today. But the thud it makes as it lands will continue to echo around society and the world.”


Greg Tingle

It's great to hear Rupert Murdoch tell it straight. I'm a former journalist, now media analyst, portal developer and gaming entrepreneur. Some of the newsrooms have been complacent. It's no secret that some editors and journalists do have an attitude and ego problem. Just because someone in a newsroom doesn't think your story is news, doesn't make it so. Many newsrooms are under resourced. Let's be real... they often don't have all the resources and all the staff required to cover the news like the good old days, when the journo's hit the street in search of a good story. News stories become recycled and press releases are often not fully checked over for facts. Comment on the news yourself like News Limited has done so well with News.com.au, and sometimes the switched on editors and journalists will follow up on the comments left on the newspaper website, and some of the comments and add ons can then find their way into print.

Remember, print ends up in the bin with the rubbish, and online news lives on. It's called the speed of news, which is about as fast as the speed of sound. Murdoch said, 'Big will not beat small anymore, it will be the fast beating the slow. Gaming and media tycoon, James Packer said, "Internet is like electricity", and Charles Darwin said, "In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed". Can we see a pattern here?

By the way, great to see Marketing Magazine online (and listening to its readership). With Murdoch now running The Wall Street Journal he must be the most connected media man in the world, if he wasn't already, and for his sake, let's hope this journalists have got the financial news right. Speaking of financial news and Murdoch, Scott Pape has a great News Limited blog entitled, The Barefoot Investor, and Pape listens and engages with his readership also. By doing so the media gains more insight into news stories, and as is the case right here, often doesn't have to even pay for more news, in times when everyone is watching the bottom line, and reading the fine print!


Kate

Thanks for the comment Greg! I like a bit of Darwinian theory ;-) Those are some very valid points and I'll be sure to check out the blogs recs. and so forth.

Anyone else have a different take?


Matty

I may be biased but I agree with MediaManOz. While it's finally good to hear someone of major media influence (ie, Mr Murdoch) say what we're all thinking, it'll be up to the next generation of editors, journos, bloggers, social media stars to take it to that next level. Quality or legitimacy doesn't have to suffer (though there are (BANNED WORD FILTERED) bloggers, etc, out there) and we can all embrace where new media takes us.

So let's have it - old-fashioned dedication mixed with modern tech and 'conversation'!


Greg Tingle

I largely agree with Matty : ) I'm just back from chairing CAP Down Under, the world's leading iGaming conference, which finally made its way down under, hence the name. Apart from the odd newspaper website post, we largely did own own media, as often traditional news media doesn't shot that much interest in the online casino sector (unless there's a scandal attached, like an OJ Simpson casino theft tie on or UltimateBet - Absolute Poker insider trading scenario, which is being covered by 60 Minutes in the United States). So, many of us have blogged about it, and were interviewed by the CAP side arm, the newly created, CAP TV, which I understand will soon be one of the hottest programs on YouTube, if not the entire internet. CAP Magazine will also be doing significant coverage of the happenings. Casino news is financial sector news and technology news, which is big news! Even Marvel Comics are now involved thanks to their deal with NextGen Gaming and CryptoLogic, Richard Branson's got Virgin Games, PKR is like a SecondLife.com type of casino room (but makes money), and it's big enough for the Crown Casino operations director to attend and a number of folks to make the 20 something hour flight from the U.S and Canada. I don't need to force the point about how big sports betting is in Australia, which is carried by the likes of Betfair, Centrebet, EzyBet (Gold Coast Titan's deal), IASbet, and 888.com has signed Aussie sports starts like Shane Warne and Jeff Fenech playing poker as part of the campaigns. How big is iGaming? Well, big enough where some of the industry movers and shakers are listed in Forbes and NextGen Gaming, based at North Sydney, often receives business awards, recently making the Deloitte top 50 Fastest Growing Technology companies in Australia. It's also no secret that people have been turning off TV's and turning on games for a number of years now. Even the ABC has 'Good Game' and one of the Australian networks is getting the next series of Cybershack ready. LiveNews.com and Fox Sports Online has a ton of sports betting coverage (and advertising). The crossover between games for fun and gaming for money has some concerned, however the games carry a "play for fun" and "play for money" option, and there are a number of motions alive in Australian parliament regarding monitoring the industry. That's how big and newsworthy this industry vertical is. Much more industry specific and mainstream news coverage is coming up on the iGaming and online casino industry, and its going to be big political news also, you can bet on it (at a number of online casinos). More on this at Media Man Australia and Casino News Media.


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Thursday, November 27, 2008

APT Ambassador JC Tran Dominates PartyPoker.com Premier League

London – 26th November 2008 – Asian Poker Tour ambassador JC Tran’s excellent run at PartyPoker.com Premier League III has continued after he won his first two heats and finished runner-up in his third. JC now sits clearly at the top of the table with 26 points at the $1.25 million event for 12 elite players in London.

Tran, who is also representing team PKR, won his first heat on day one at the expense of World Champion Peter Eastgate and has continued his great form. Cheered on by a large contingent in the green room, including WSOP Main Event final table pal David ‘Chino’ Rheem, and ‘Poker Pack’ pals Nam Le and Quinn Do he put on other great display. When it got heads-up he held 476,000 to Vicky Coren’s 124,000 and he looked the likely winner throughout. The decisive hand saw Tran raise with A6 off-suit and pushed all-in by Coren with KK. An ace on the flop was enough to take it down.

JC’s third heat was hugely eventful. All the previous heats had seen very few eliminations in early levels but this game was different and it very quickly become a heads-up battle between JC and Peter Eastgate. The 2008 WSOP Main Event champion completely run over the field and looked to be home and dry but the blinds were only at 2,000 – 4,000. Eastgate sat with 541,000 to Tran’s 59,000, a very different scenario to when the pair met on day one when the chip counts going into the heads-up stage were more level. Remarkably, as a 9-1 underdog, Tran fought back to hold the chip lead. Eastgate, however, eventually got his revenge for his defeat at the hands of Tran on day one to pick up 10 points. Eastgate pushed all-in with K3 and was called by Tran with A7. A king on the flop was enough to seal the deal for the $9 million Dane. With 6 points from the heat, however, JC is the man to beat and holds a very comfortable lead at the top of the league table and he looks set to qualify for the deep stacked final table on Sunday.

JC said: “It’s going great here in London, maybe I should move here! I was very pleased to come back in the heads-up after being a 9-1 dog but I was confident there was a way back as there was still so much play left at the table. It is a shame I couldn’t eventually win this heat but I am very happy with 26 points and topping the table.”

PartyPoker.com Premier League III sees the buy-in elevated to $75,000 and the added money raised to $350,000, making a total prize pool of $1.25 million. The series features 12 of the world’s best players playing in a unique league format. All 12 players will play six times in the preliminary stages. The leading four players will then progress to the final table with the next four battling it out in heads-up matches for the final two seats. Phil Hellmuth leads the strongest ever line-up that includes Tom ‘Durrrr’ Dwan, JC Tran, Nenad Medic, Devilfish, Tony G, Vicky Coren, Annette Obrestad, Roland de Wolfe, Andy Black, Juha Helppi and WSOP Main Event winner Peter Eastgate.

PARTYPOKER.COM PREMIER LEAGUE III – 24th – 30th November

LEAGUE TABLE AT THE END OF HEAT FIVE ON DAY THREE

26 pts JC TRAN

16 pts PETER EASTGATE

14 pts JUHA HELPPI

14 pts VICKY COREN

12 pts TONY G

10 pts ANNETTE OBRESTAD

8 pts TOM DWAN

7 pts ANDY BLACK

6 pts ROLAND DE WOLFE

6pts NENAD MEDIC

3 pts DEVILFISH

3 pts PHIL HELLMUTH

ABOUT ASIAN POKER TOUR (APT)

The Asian Poker Tour (APT) is Asia ’s biggest and original poker tour. The Tour was recently acquired by AsianLogic (AIM:ALOG). Joining the stars are players from all over the world who won seats to the event by qualifying through online satellites at www.PartyPoker.com, DafaPoker, PKR, Titan Poker, Bodog, JBet Poker, Virgin Poker, PaddyPowerPoker and Poker Trillion. www.asianpt.com

ABOUT ASIANLOGIC (ALOG)

AsianLogic is a leading online and land-based gaming company focusing on the Asia-Pacific markets. The Company is listed on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange (AIM: ALOG). AsianLogic owns and operates eight online casino brands and two online poker rooms as well as land-based sportsbook operations through its MegaSportsWorld brand. It is a specialist in Asia-specific games such as Mahjong, Cho-Da-Di, Do-Di-Zhu and 13 Card Poker. The Company owns and operates the Asian Poker Tour. The Company also maintains a corporate advisory team specialising in the gaming sector which is an active investor in gaming-related businesses as well as providing consultancy and analytical services. AsianLogic enjoys strong commercial relationships with leading gaming providers including Playtech , ID Games and LVS. Founded as ESL in 2002, AsianLogic employs over 300 employees, the majority of whom are based in the Philippines .

World Series of Poker”® and “WSOP”® are registered trade marks of Harrah’s License Company LLC. No license, affiliation, sponsorship, or endorsement is claimed, or should be inferred from the use of these trademarks here. AsianLogic is not licensed by or otherwise affiliated with Harrah’s License Company LLC or the World Series of Poker®, in any way.

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Casino News Media And Media Man Australia Director Interviewed By CAP TV

Casino News Media and Media Man Australia director and founder, Greg Tingle, was interviewed today by CAP TV at the CAP Down Under event in Sydney, Australia.

Tingle mentioned the exciting developments and the great work by Alex, Lizzie and team in putting together CAP Down Under, and how it sets the stage for more great developments with CAP including in Australia.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Vegas bids to cash in with plan for $50m Mob museum, by Kevin Mitchell - The Guardian - 23rd November 2008

Defiant mayor hopes to rejuvenate his ailing city by celebrating the Mafia's role in its creation

Las Vegas, the desert city with an insatiable thirst for reinvention, is turning to some old friends to reboot its faltering economy: the Mob.

Building projects have stalled up and down the Strip, unheard of in a town where the sound of explosions on worn-out casino sites was as commonplace as gunfire, when the old constantly made way for the new. Now, as credit and the gambling nerve of the hotel bosses dry up simultaneously, the town invented by Bugsy Siegel in the Forties is going back to its dubious past for inspiration.

Work has started on a $50m museum that will open in the spring of 2010 celebrating the Mafia's links with the gambling capital of the world. It is an initiative that excites the mayor, Oscar Goodman, but dismays others weary of the city's historical association with organised crime.

Goodman is more than a mayor. He is a celebrity in a city that lives and dies on fame. He knew Frank Sinatra. He knew John F Kennedy. He knew Marilyn Monroe. This is a town and a civic administration that was as comfortable with the Mob and its attendant guest list as it was with the certainty of another sunny day.

Goodman told The Observer the project was 'as cool as it gets', dismissing suggestions that it might not be universally popular, given the nature of the Mob's activities.

The museum has been the subject of controversy since it was announced in October. 'The Mob museum and media try to romanticise these monsters for money,' wrote a blogger on the Las Vegas Review Journal's website. 'These romantic characters are really just lunatics and degenerates who preyed off society. If Las Vegas wants a museum, build one to commemorate the victims, not the criminals.' There is no denying, though, that exploiting the fascination with gangsters here is a profitable exercise. On a two-and-half-hour, $70 'Mob Tour of Las Vegas' last week, Vinny the guide said that even real-life hoodlums come to have a look.

'Three weeks ago,' he said, 'we had Henry Hill, who is in and out of witness protection, and was played by Ray Liotta in Goodfellas. He was pretty stewed. But he loved it.'

Goodman said: 'Nobody's given me an opinion other than they like it. You want a watercolour museum? You want a porcelain museum?' A robust populist who mines his colourful past as a prop in his political shtick, Goodman is in his third and final term, a Democrat approved by eight out of 10 voters in a city that is an unashamed cathedral to capitalism.

Goodman is no ordinary civic leader. As he is occasionally reminded, over three decades he acted as counsel for some of the country's most notorious mobsters, men who built and ran Las Vegas. His clients included Frank 'Lefty' Rosenthal and Anthony 'Tony the Ant' Spilotro, whose barely disguised doppelgangers were portrayed by Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in the eerily accurate 1995 movie Casino (in which Goodman had a walk-on part).

And, no, he did not find his own 'Mob history' an embarrassment. 'What? To defend people, and protect their constitutional rights, and make sure that the government doesn't take advantage of them? You find that offensive? That's the reason we left England. OK?

'I don't care whether it is or it isn't [popular]. I care that there are people going in there and spending a lot of money and the city of Las Vegas is getting the fees and the concession money and making a fortune. It's going to be phenomenal. It's going to bring hundreds of thousands of people into our downtown.'

It might be stretching it to say Goodman 'knows where the bodies are buried' in anything other than a metaphorical sense, but he does know how to generate money. And the city that has been his home since he moved to Nevada from Philadelphia in the Sixties as a public defender has rarely needed his entrepreneurial instincts more than now.

Statistics released last week make grim reading: visitor numbers are down 10 per cent, year on year, to 2.9 million in September; room rates have been slashed by 21 per cent as tou6rist numbers dwindle; hotel occupancy is 84.3 per cent, down 7 per cent; across Nevada, gambling revenue dropped 5.4 per cent to just over $1bn; and on the Strip the take was a mere $525.5m for the month, down 5.17 per cent.

Those are numbers of dollars lost by Mr and Mrs Wisconsin at the slot machines, as well as the high-rollers at the baccarat tables. Las Vegas wins because it is full of losers. 'Life is a risk,' said Goodman. 'When I have my drink tonight, I'm risking it may be my last.'

The Mob Museum has been his pet project since he was elected in 1999. He got the idea from an unusual source: the old Post Office down the street from City Hall. It was in that building in 1950 that Senator Estes Kefauver conducted the Nevada leg of his famous inquiry into organised crime, butting up against the intransigence of witnesses unbothered by official scrutiny.

'We hired the folks who are doing the Spy Museum in Washington DC,' Goodman said. 'When you go in there you're going to be mugged, you're going to be booked, you're going to have your Miranda rights [the 'right to remain silent' legislation] given to you. And who knows if you'll ever get out? Because we're going to have machine-guns there, which will be provided by the FBI.'

(Credit: The Guardian)

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Packer's luck turns as rival Macau project runs aground, by Vanda Carson - The Sydney Morning Herald - 24th November 2008

James Packer's latest joint venture in Macau is set to be the only new casino to open in the enclave next year after its larger US rival was forced to suspend its plans when the financial crisis dried up construction funds.

At last week's global gambling expo in Las Vegas, Melco Crown Entertainment's chief financial officer, Simon Dewhurst, said the $2.1 billion City of Dreams project, to open in the first half of next year, would benefit from the reduced competition.

Las Vegas Sands, which owns the Venetian in Macau, has suspended construction of a further three casinos and two hotels on two sites along Macau's Cotai Strip, adjacent to the City of Dreams Site, which has a 1400-room hotel and 500 gambling tables.

Las Vegas Sands raised $US2.1 billion ($.3 billion) late last week, which has assuaged fears that it would be bankrupted but is unlikely to be enough for the projects to resume construction.

Mr Dewhurst said he believed it would be impossible for Las Vegas Sands to raise the funds needed to finish building its Macau casinos.

Melco Crown was fortunate that it had locked in its development funding before the financial crisis struck.

The company raised $US1.6 billion through its public offering on the Nasdaq last year at between $US16 and $US18 a share. Its shares closed $US17c lower at $US2.65 on Friday.

"Nearly two years ago the dollars were out there for everyone. That's no longer the case," Mr Dewhurst said.

"There's no way those sites [Las Vegas Sands will be] … completed. There are 15 people in the world who do project financing, and in this climate it's impossible to get done."

Melco Crown may yet need to raise more capital, since after City of Dreams reaches its first anniversary $US1.5 billion of loans need to be repaid or refinanced.

A Credit Suisse analyst, Larry Gandler, said a capital raising might need to occur in early 2010.

(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Market Deals Different Hands For Casino Rivals Big Bets Andrew Farrell - Forbes - 14th November 2008

Big Bets

Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson try to find financing in lean times.

Casino billionaires and long-time rivals Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson both want to raise cash during these lean times. One is having a much easier time.

Wynn's Wynn Resorts (nasdaq:WYNN - news - people ) announced Thursday it will sell 8 million shares in a public offering at $43.50. The deal, if it comes off as planned, would raise $348 million before fees for the gaming company.

"Cash is the most important thing at this point," says James Hardiman, an analyst at FTN Midwest Securities. "Wynn Resorts is already at a better position than their peers with a good chunk of cash on their balance sheets, and this offering will extend their lead." (See"The Casino Billionaires.")

Hardiman says Wynn's more conservative approach to expansion kept them less leveraged than some competitors. The company's relatively strong balance sheet is hugely valuable during this rough period for gaming operators. Gamblers are visiting casinos less and are wagering less.

Adelson's Las Vegas Sands (nyse: LVS - news - people ) doesn't enjoy the same financial security. While Sands hopes to raise $2.1 billion in its own stock offering, it may find buyers scarce. Shares are down 95% so far this year. Morningstar analyst Sumit Desai says the company's financing difficulties "very possibly could force the company into bankruptcy."

Adelson and Wynn's relationship is long and icy. Adelson complained eruptions from the fake volcano at Wynn's Mirage hotel and casino were too loud. Wynn countered that Adelson didn't build enough parking at his Las Vegas projects and the overflow grabbed spaces from his own customers. Wynn said Adelson has an "inferiority complex" and Adelson called Wynn an "egomaniac."

Adelson doesn't have time for quips now though. The Las Vegas Sands auditor warned last week that the company could breach some agreements with its lenders. Sands admitted in a regulatory filing that a default on its loans would raise serious doubts about its ability to operate. (See "The House Always Wins.")

The company is scrambling to right itself. Sands might lay off about 11,000 workers at its China operations and temporarily halted two of its massive construction projects in the country.

Tightened lending is compounding the Nevada-based company's financing woes. "We would not have suspended" construction, said Stephen Weaver, Sands' Asia president, "if we could see clarity on how long it would take to raise the funds."

Greg Tingle comment...

Potential investors, backers and the like are going to obviously do a risk assessment on both Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson. In addition, the (real books) and balance sheets, and, who they are in bed with already. Also, don't forget that Donald Trump is also doing a consortium deal in The Philippines, and Australia's James Packer has his Crown Macau - City of Dreams, and Packer has enjoyed some considerable success in the casino and gaming sector, despite some leaner times lately. Packer got out of CVC - Network Nine Australia and this did free up some cash, and cash is very attractive in the current market. You can bet that the casinos will be wanting to get on or stay on the good side of the tourism and gaming regulators and boards, and a sweet airline deal or two to swing in the masses and whales on some sort of dream casino travel package won't go astray. And, finally, the right PR and news headlines, both mainstream news media and casino press, as backers, investors and Joe Public read this stuff, and perceptions become reality.

(Credit: Forbes)

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Casino company CFOs: Money hard to come by, by Howard Stutz - Las Vegas Review-Journal - 20th November 2008

A panel of casino company chief financial officers, reflecting a cross section of the gaming industry, on Wednesday painted a bleak picture for businesses looking to raise money over the next few years.

The sinking national and global economies aren't going to cooperate, panel members said.

The panel, which included representatives from MGM Mirage, regional casino operator Penn National Gaming, Macau casino operator Melco PBL and the Mohegan Sun Indian casino, all said money for expansions and other projects is tough to secure.

"It's not a gaming or hospitality industry issue alone," MGM Mirage Chief Financial Officer Dan D'Arrigo told an audience at the Global Gaming Expo during a discussion on the state of the economy. "This is a wider issue that cuts across many other industries as well."

D'Arrigo said he didn't believe any new resort development on the Strip, beyond projects under construction and expected to open next year, will be started for another five to seven years.

"That's my own opinion." D'Arrigo said. "The cycle we're currently in, we'll eventually get out of. The incumbent companies that have properties today will be much stronger."

MGM Mirage operates 10 Strip resorts and is building the $9.1 billion CityCenter development that is opening next year. However, the company recently halted development of a resort in Atlantic City and a joint venture on the north end of the Strip with Krezner Holdings International.

D'Arrigo said CityCenter completed $1.8 billion of financing for CityCenter, but it's one of the few financing arrangements taking place now.

"Lenders are picking their spots," D'Arrigo said. "Each case comes with its own challenges that are unique and different."

Mohegan Sun Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Hartmann said the tribe postponed a new hotel tower for a year or two because of the tight credit markets.

"From a tribal perspective, we've had good relationships with the banks," Hartmann said. "The markets are just not there."

Melco PBL CFO Simon Dewhurst said his company financed the $3 billion City of Dreams project on the Cotai Strip, which is expected to open next year. The company raised about $1.6 billion through a public offering last year on the Nasdaq National Market before financing opportunities dried up.

The company, which is headquartered in Hong Kong, also operates the Crown Macau resort.

"Nearly two years ago, the dollars were out there for everyone," Dewhurst said. "That's no longer the case."

Dewhurst was also critical of Macau competitor Las Vegas Sands Corp., which has said it will seek financing to complete its now-halted Cotai Strip resorts, which encompass 6,400 hotel rooms. He said there was no way Las Vegas Sands will complete that process.

"There's no way those sites are completed," Dewhurst said. "There are 15 people in the world who do project financing, and in this climate, it's impossible to get done."

The only panelist not worried about liquidity issues was Penn National CFO Bill Clifford.

The company has about $1.48 billion in cash from an aborted buyout attempt. However, Penn National pulled out of the bidding for a casino site in Kansas after it was rejected for another site. That project was awarded to Harrah's Entertainment, which dropped its plans this week because of financing issues.

Clifford said jurisdictions need to do their homework on a casino company's finances.

"They need to do a better job in the application process," Clifford said.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871.

(Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Greg Tingle comment...

It appears that it's going to take some collaboration between numerous parties and industry sectors to see the casino industry get back on its feet. Pooling resources and collaborating in a way that presents a holistic approach may get the job done. There's many considerations from people and money in the door, government and tourism body assistance, airline and travel packages, insurances and keeping a tab on fraud. For banks and financial lenders to get their money back the way to go is to keep the industry alive rather than to let it die. If tourism goes and the casinos go under, the government misses out on their cut from the sector and it would be a poor reflection on that country or cities tourism and overall financial management. The flow on effects, both negative and positive are evident and at play. The news media has a responsibility to report accurately and thus far the coverage largely appears fair and balanced. Investors and banks also follow what media reports. Casinos are a huge part of the tourism and financial economy, and tourism is of course one of the world's biggest industries, spanning airlines, insurance, government tourism boards and so it goes on. The challenges presented need careful consideration of many parties and may require a few billionaires, governments and industry experts to sort out. If the government needs to step in, let it be. Another way this may go is "let only the strong survive in the law of the jungle". Just how big the body count is going to be from the sector shake up is yet to be all told. Some corporates have the financial resources to ride out the storm, whilst others don't. Time will tell, it always does. Ho, Branson, Packer, Wynn, Trump...dice.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

CAP TV Premiering December 3

Leading Online Casino Affiliate Marketing Resource to Launch New Weekly Interactive Online Video Channel in December, Beginning with Exclusive Recap of CAP Down Under Conference

November 19, 2008 -- CasinoAffiliatePrograms.com ("CAP"), the world's leading online marketing resource and community website for Internet casino affiliates, announced today the launch of CAP TV, a new online video channel to be integrated into its family of Internet-based marketing and communications resources.

CAP TV will consist of weekly videos that focus on affiliate marketing and online gaming news, as well as promotions, interviews, opinions, and industry updates that directly concern the CAP community -- which currently numbers more than seven thousand members, and is rapidly expanding.

In addition to weekly news updates, viewers of CAP TV can expect to receive exclusive information regarding special promotions, advance information on leading industry players, on-location reporting of key online gaming industry events, and previews and recaps of the many popular CAP conferences (including CAP Euro, CAP Spring Break, and the new CAP Down Under).

"In this age of rapidly developing online media, CAP is proud to take the initiative to step up and deliver the kind of video resources that this industry demands," stated Lou Fabiano, President and Founder of CasinoAffiliatePrograms.com. "It's an effort to not only ensure that we at CAP hold our position as the leader in the Internet gaming affiliate marketing industry, but also that our clients, members, and even casual visitors to CAP enjoy every benefit of our unique, advanced position in this industry."

"As the largest and longest-running community serving the online gaming affiliate marketing world, we feel it's our responsibility to continue to lead the way into new venues," continued Mr. Fabiano. "And we're confident that the incredible people within the CAP community will embrace this latest effort to do just that."

CAP TV will premiere on Wednesday, December 3, with a special edition offering a recap of the first annual CAP Down Under Australian conference, according to company officials. New videos in the CAP TV series will be released every week on Wednesday following the December 3 premiere. (Credit: CasinoAffiliatePrograms.com)

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Cryptologic Consolidates Its Market Position by Joining Forces with Top Slot Game Developer

November 7, 2008 (Dublin, IRELAND) – CryptoLogic Limited, a leading software developer to the global Internet gaming market, has signed an exclusive multi-year agreement with NextGen Gaming, the world’s leading independent developer of slot games for the international gambling industry.

Under the deal, CryptoLogic will collaborate with NextGen to develop new branded slot games for the company, and in return, NextGen will provide branded games exclusively to CryptoLogic within the online gaming space. Additionally, the companies will combine their extensive sales and distribution networks to allow CryptoLogic to license these branded games to the world’s top online and land-based organisations. Next Gen has existing commercial relationships with a great majority of the top operators and suppliers in the industry.

The ultimate goal of the collaboration is to ensure that branded content providers look no further than CryptoLogic when choosing a partner with whom to take their brands into the online gaming space. This will be achieved by continuing to create the best games in the industry and by ensuring that the games are live at as many top operators as possible.

“For CryptoLogic, this is a most significant and unique strategic partnership – one that gives us new access to one of the industry’s broadest, deepest and most successful distribution networks,” said Brian Hadfield, CryptoLogic’s President and CEO. “This will allow CryptoLogic to deal with the best brands, develop the best games, and deliver the best experiences to players around the world – whether they’re on land or online.”

“Branded content in gaming is powerful, because it combines a familiar theme with an exciting new experience,” said Matt Davey, CEO of NextGen Gaming. “In selecting CryptoLogic as our Internet gaming software partner for branded content, NextGen has chosen a pioneer, an innovator and a leader. It’s a powerful partnership that promises both performance and profitability.”

In recent years, CryptoLogic and NextGen have worked together and distinguished themselves with highly successful branded slot games, including titles based on the world-famous Marvel Super Heroes, Street Fighter II, and the highly anticipated King Kong. CryptoLogic has also excelled with casual branded games such as Bejeweled, Cubis, and Jewel Quest. As one element of its new strategy, Cryptologic plans to consolidate its leadership position in this area by aligning with additional content providers to bring the best brands, with the best games to the online gaming market.

“In 2008, CryptoLogic has shown innovation not just with its games, but also with its partnerships,” added Justin Thouin, CryptoLogic’s Vice President of Product Management and Business Development. “With a partner like NextGen – who knows the industry like very few others, and who has a distribution network like few others – CryptoLogic will take its software to new people and new places. With this agreement, CryptoLogic cements its position as the undisputed leader in the provision of branded content in the online gaming space. We can now offer the best games, and the broadest distribution network with our ability to tap into all of the online and land-based partnerships that CryptoLogic and Next Gen have established.”

About CryptoLogic (www.cryptologic.com)
Focused on integrity and innovation, CryptoLogic Limited is a world-leading, blue-chip public developer and supplier of Internet gaming software. Its leadership in regulatory compliance makes it one of the very few companies with gaming software that is certified to strict standards similar to land-based gaming. WagerLogic Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CryptoLogic, is responsible for the licensing of its gaming software and services to blue-chip customers who offer their games around the world to non-U.S. based players. For information on WagerLogic, visit www.wagerlogic.com.

CryptoLogic’s common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange (CRY, CXY), the NASDAQ Global Select Market (CRYP) and the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange (CRP).

About NextGen Gaming (www.nextgengaming.com)
NextGen Gaming Pty Ltd is the world’s leading independent supplier of innovative games to the gambling industry. NextGen has delivered hundreds of games to its international partners and gained a reputation for delivering the best player experience. The company prides itself on delivering exceptional game performance and game longevity that translates into profit for its partners and a great experience for their players.

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Melco Crown's losing streak, by Vanda Carson - The Sydney Morning Herald - 20th November 2008

James Packer's Macau casino joint venture is facing further headwinds with VIP gaming revenues in the territory expected to fall 25 per cent next year.

The prediction by Karen Tang, a Deutsche Bank gaming analyst in Hong Kong, follows a Macau Government forecast that casino revenues would fall to an average of 7 billion patacas ($1.36 billion) each month.

It comes as a spokeswoman for Melco Crown Entertainment said management was discussing whether to close restaurants at its Crown Macau casino. Last week the company forced its 3000 staff to choose between taking two and six months unpaid leave.

Lawrence Ho, Melco Crown's chief executive officer, said the company planned to save $US25 million ($38 million), or 10 per cent of its salary base, by making staff stay at home each month.

Melco Crown's City of Dreams 1400-room hotel and 500-table casino opens next year.

Ms Tang said in a note to clients that revenues from high rollers would fall by about a quarter as the operators of group gambling tours, who lend money to casino visitors, find it harder to get credit from banks.

The VIP segment makes up about 66 per cent of gaming in Macau, the world's largest casino market, and is the biggest contributor to Melco Crown Entertainment's Macau casino.

Mr Ho said last week he and his co-chairman, Mr Packer, had agreed to remove the name Crown from Crown Macau, and it appears likely the City of Dreams will use the Crown brand.

Mr Packer owns about 38 per cent of the Australian-listed Crown, which in turn owns about 37 per cent of Melco Crown.

Melco Crown, which trades on the Nasdaq, hit $US18.15 a year ago. It is trading at $US3.20, after falling 4 per cent on Tuesday. Its slump is nearly twice as steep as the broader index with its shares weighed down by debt fears.

Crown shares yesterday fell fell 10 per cent, or 58c, to $5.20.

(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

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Centrebet to be CAP Down Under Sponsor

November 18, 2008 -- Centrebet, the creators of the 'Play Australian', will be official Silver Sponsors for the first igaming affiliate conference to hit Australia, CAP Down Under, the company reported today.

Running November 26-27, CAP Down Under will bring members of the igaming industry together at the Harbour View hotel in downtown Sydney. The Centerbet affiliate program will be offering special incentives to affiliates attending the event.

"We're really looking forward to CAP Down Under," said Michael Ciancio, Centrebet Affiliate Manager. "It's a great opportunity for our affiliates to meet us in our environment. When we found out it would be in Sydney, we just had to get behind it."

For affiliates attending CAP Down Under, Centrebet will be offering an exclusive "Home Ground Advantage" sign-up offer. Affiliates that sign-up to the Centrebet affiliate program at the event will receive a 51% commission on their referrals.

Powered by the Income Access software, the Centrebet affiliate program already offers in-depth tracking reports and dedicated support. This intelligence provides Centrebet affiliates with the resources they need to optimize their online marketing campaigns.

"This is an excellent opportunity for affiliates," said Nicky Senyard, CEO of Income Access. "Our research has shown that attending industry events leads to increased affiliate earnings. Not only will affiliates have access to a lucrative sign-up commission, but to networking opportunities that can help them build strategic relationships."

To embody the truly laid-back nature of the Australian lifestyle, the Centrebet stand will also be filled with an assortment of football fun. "To celebrate our sponsorship of the Newcastle Jets, we've adopted a football feel," said Mr. Ciancio. "We’re giving away mini-footballs and we even have a foosball table, in case anyone's up for a challenge."

The Centrebet Affiliate Team will be exhibiting at CAP Down Under from November 26th to November 27th, 2008. To set up a meeting with the Centrebet Affiliate Team at CAP Down Under please send them an email to affiliates@centrebet.com. Affiliates can join the Centrebet affiliate program at http://affiliates.centrebet.com/registration.asp?btag=742-2204-1117.

CAP Down Under is a two-day event of excellent networking opportunities for affiliates. In addition to several recreational events, the conference will feature panels and presentations on marketing opportunities and industry issues. Information on how to register and access discount hotel rates can be found at http://www.capdownunder.com.

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Melco Crown Says Macau Project Will Open on Schedule in 2009, by Wendy Leung - Bloomberg - 18th November 2008

Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd., a casino venture between Australian billionaire James Packer and Macau magnate Stanley Ho's son Lawrence, said its City of Dreams project is on schedule to open in the first half of 2009.

The project in Macau will create about 7,000 jobs, Melco said in a statement to Hong Kong's stock exchange today. It is expected to be the only major new employer next year.

Las Vegas Sands Corp, controlled by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, said this month it halted development at its $12 billion project in Macau, leading to at least 9,000 job losses. Melco has adopted ``flexible working arrangements'' to avoid ``large-scale redundancies,'' the statement said.

Staff can take additional training programs and continue to receive full pay for part-time work and a training subsidy equivalent to half their pay during course days, it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Wendy Leung in Hong Kong at wleung12@bloomberg.net.

(Credit: Bloomberg)

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wynn Resorts boosts public offering to 8M shares - 14th November 2008

Wynn Resorts raises public offering to 8M shares, prices offer at $43.50 each
NEW YORK (Associated Press) - Casino company Wynn Resorts Ltd., which is run by billionaire Steve Wynn, said late Thursday it has boosted the size of its public stock offering to 8 million shares and priced the offering at $43.50.

Earlier Thursday, Wynn Resorts said it planned a smaller offering of 5 million newly issued common shares to meet the expected demand for its stock when the company joined the Standard & Poor's 500 index. S&P was expected to replace chemical maker Ashland Inc. with Wynn Resorts after the close of business on Thursday.

Wynn Resorts plans to use the proceeds for general corporate purposes, including debt repayment.

Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and Banc of America Securities LLC are acting as joint book running managers and underwriters for the share offering. Wynn Resorts has granted the underwriters an option to buy up to 1.2 million additional shares to cover any overallotments.

According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Wynn Resorts had 104 million shares outstanding as of Oct. 31. The offering is expected to close Tuesday.

Also Thursday, Wynn Resorts reported that it revised its agreement with Deutsche Bank, allowing the company to repurchase up to $650 million of debt.

Wynn Resorts shares closed at $44.76 on Thursday, but lost $1.26, or 2.8 percent, in premarket trading Friday.

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Flaws in casino plan, says council, by Jano Gibson - The Sydney Morning Herald - 17th August 2008

A proposed $475 million makeover of Star City casino has too many flaws and should be redesigned, City of Sydney council says.

The casino lodged plans in September to redevelop the venue into a world-class gambling and entertainment complex with a five-star hotel, the largest outdoor gambling area in Australia and an entrance facing the harbour instead of the back streets of Pyrmont.

But in a submission to the Department of Planning, which is assessing the proposal, the council said plans to redevelop the harbourside section of the casino "will impose a wall of glass" that "will not contribute to the overall civic feel of the harbour edge".

The council also warned the outdoor gambling area would have adverse effects. "This will promote longer uninterrupted periods of gambling, exacerbating the likelihood of problem gambling."

A Star City spokesman, Peter Grimshaw, said the casino was working with a design review panel set up by the department to amend the design of the harbourside section of the building.

(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Melco remains upbeat despite loss, by Simon Liddle - Intergame - 14th November 2008

Casino gaming and entertainment resort operator Melco Crown Entertainment continues to maintain its positive outlook for the company's future, despite recording a loss during the quarter ended September 30, 2008.

The firm announced that it made a net loss of $21.1m or $0.05 per share during the three-month period, although this compared favourably with the net loss of $45.2m or $0.11 per share recorded during the third quarter of 2007. Meanwhile, net revenue stood at $295.2m, up from $113.3m a year earlier and adjusted EBITDA rose to $20.8m from a loss of $9.8m.

“Our capital raising efforts in 2007 in both the equity and debt markets have put us in a strong position relative to most of our peers in the industry,” said Lawrence Ho, co-chairman and chief executive officer of Melco Crown.

“Phases I and II of City of Dreams are fully funded and the project remains on timetable to open Phase I in the first half of next year,” he continued.

“Our outlook for the Macau market remains strong and we are confident that City of Dreams will set a new standard for casino development in Macau.”

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Vegas Woes Continue

November 14, 2008 (InfoPowa News) - Latest figures from the Nevada Gaming Control Board show a further decline in revenues on both The Strip in Las Vegas and across the gambling state -- the ninth consecutive month in which revenues have gone downhill.

Gaming revenues across Nevada were down 5.4 percent to a billion dollars compared with September 2007, officials reported. On The Strip, revenues dipped 5.1 percent to $525.1 million over last year's equivalent.

Explaining the decline, officials pointed to the general economic conditions, but also noted that the month was short of a weekend, there had been no special attractions to draw players in and that the comparative period for 2007 had seen a particularly strong set of numbers. But the bottom line was that Nevada was $10 million in tax income down from the same period last year, receiving only $63.5 million.

Frank Streshley, a statistician with the Board described the decline as "alarming" and predicted that the October 2008 figures are unlikely to show a better picture.

Revenues from slots and table games on The Strip were all down, he reported, with the exception being baccarat, which delivered a 66.6 percent rise to $75 million during the month and saved the overall decline from going as high as 8 percent.

Venues elsewhere were also disappointing, dropping by 8.1 percent to $49 million, with the exception of Clark County where casinos reported an 11.2 percent rise over last September, and the Boulder Strip establishments which reported $87.5 million in gross win, up 13.9 percent. In Laughlin the decline was 6.9 percent, and Mesquite revenues plunged by 27.8 percent.

In Northern Nevada the same depressing pattern was recorded, with Washoe down 20.5 percent at $77 million, and South Lake Tahoe casinos dropping 16.8 percent to $24.5 million. Carson City posted a 20.6 percent decline to $8.5 million and Elko County venues were down 12.6 percent to $24 million.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

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Scarab Announces launch of Gaming Executive Network

Bangkok, Thailand

14th November 2008

Scarab announce that they have launched http://gamingexecutivenetwork.com a gaming news website and forums by gaming executives and for gaming executives. News updated round the clock throughout G2E.

For news updated by our staff in Asia, Europe, and the Americas please visit http://gamingexecutivenetwork.com Discuss the latest important topics in our community at http://gamingexecutivenetwork.com/forums

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Friday, November 14, 2008

CasinoAffiliatePrograms.com Signs Up Bob Rains for Exclusive New Online Marketing Advice Column

"CAP Exclusive Q&A with Bob Rains" to be Featured Every Other Monday on Popular Website, Starting in December

IRVINE, CA (PRWEB) November 12, 2008 – CasinoAffiliatePrograms.com ("CAP"), a leading online marketing resource and community website for Internet casino affiliates, has announced a new bi-weekly Q&A advice column to be written by Bob Rains, a popular personality in the world of online marketing.

Currently best known as the Head of Acquisition for Betfair — one of the world's premiere gambling companies with a large family of online gaming subsidiaries under its corporate banner — Bob Rains is a prominent figure in the world of Internet marketing and gaming. He's also served as Director of Online Marketing for Everest Poker, another popular gaming website, in addition to holding numerous other high-profile online marketing roles.

The column will be the central part of CAP's redesigned Learning Center, a section of its website that features a wide range of informative articles offering educational content on online marketing, SEO, web design, affiliate marketing information, and much more.

"I'm looking forward to helping provide SEO, online marketing, and social media solutions to real affiliates facing real challenges in these changing economic and legal times, as well as sharing stories from my own personal experiences," Rains said in a statement to CAP. "And I can't think of a better venue to do so than the CAP Learning Center."

"We're thrilled to have Bob Rains on board for this exciting new feature," commented Lou Fabiano, president and founder of CasinoAffiliatePrograms.com. "Bob is deservedly one of the most popular figures in the online gaming industry — especially where that industry crosses over with the world of online affiliate marketing, which is CAP's jurisdiction. We're confident that the thousands of CAP members and casual readers who visit the site each day will be directly benefited by his expertise when it comes to online marketing and SEO matters."

Those interested in having questions answered by Bob Rains in the new feature are encouraged to send questions to the email address expert@casinoaffiliateprograms.com.

The new feature with Bob Rains is scheduled to go live on Monday, December 1. For more information, please visit http://www.casinoaffiliateprograms.com/learningcenter.

About CasinoAffiliatePrograms.com
CasinoAffiliatePrograms.com (or CAP, as it's commonly known) is the largest and longest-running online gaming affiliate resource, featuring an active community forum, chat rooms, affiliate marketing tools, industry news/articles, scam alerts, and a rigorous and distinguished certification process for online casino affiliate programs. The CAP Certification Process is held in the highest regard among industry experts, and is designed to protect the integrity of affiliates and the online gaming industry as a whole. For more information, please visit http://www.casinoaffiliateprograms.com.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Vegas: Fantasy meets economic reality - ETN - 10th November 2008

There seems to be parallel realities in Vegas right now. On the one hand, for tourists, things seem almost eerily normal. In fact, better than normal. Room rates have dropped so low that you can find stays at Strip resorts cheaper than budget motels on lonely highways -- with show tickets, gambling coupons, and/or a food credit tossed in for good measure.

Certainly, some shows are closing: "Stomp Out Loud" announced its demise as a going concern at Planet Hollywood come January. They hope to find another theater. And many smaller shows have not weathered the economic downturn. One show at the V theater at Planet Hollywood was closed within a week of opening. But other shows quickly take their place, and so no showroom remains empty for long.

In short, Vegas remains much the same place: full of conspicuous consumption, parties every night and carefree fun for all (or those with enough cash). This weekend, the ticket to have is the Madonna concerts at MGM. The top ticket price is a not very budget-conscious -- $375. In short: There have been a few issues that noticeably affect the tourists in Vegas.

Meanwhile, in the parallel world, the last few months, weeks and even days have been among the most difficult that Las Vegas locals have seen for our economy. Strip revenues and visitor counts have been dropping for more than eight months. The result is now coming into full view almost by the day.

Vegas lacks a Plan B that posits an area without ever-increasing growth. We need more people always coming to exist. Things don't have to drop for Vegas to feel pain. Here is why: New tourists are needed to fill all the new resorts opening -- M, Aliante Station, Encore, City Center (with six towers), Fontainebleau and even the new tower at Caesars. Meanwhile, near the Strip are the recently opened Palms Place and Trump. I am leaving out MGM's Signature and others. But the point is clear: Even if the number of tourists simply doesn't rise, everyone in Vegas knows bad times are ahead.

From the big gambling companies to the individual employees who live off shifts and tips, these are dark days. All of the major Strip resorts have already done some layoffs (except Wynn, which has to staff its new Encore) on account of the economy. In addition, many workers remaining have seen their hours cut substantially. Almost every local business depends on the casinos in some way. Both of our local newspapers have reported staff cutting at their competitor's parent company. You know that story.

This is on top of Vegas already being ground zero of the foreclosure crisis. As Buffet readers know, I bought my own condominium in February 2007. The other night I walked through my complex and counted eight moving vehicles. Of the owners of the two other units in my building, one has already moved out of state. A renter has moved into the unit. The owners told me before they left that the rent is less than their mortgage but it will allow them to wait out the economy.

A short tour of the agony of the big companies include MGM-Mirage having issues funding the final phase of their gigantic City Center and the Las Vegas Sands (owner of Venetian and Palazzo) admitting they may default on debt. Meanwhile, the malls attached to both the Venetian and the Palazzo are for sale as the parent company teeters with financial issues. Fontainebleau has not opened yet but Moody's just downgraded its debt. Harrah's has just announced quarterly losses. The Tropicana is in bankruptcy, and I have not even gotten to the Cosmopolitan, where the developer lost the project to bankers months ago. So, behind most smiles in Vegas these days there is a lot of anxiety. Yet, those with jobs are extra grateful to still be standing, and with fewer customers to serve, I've actually noticed an improvement in customer service in my travels on the Strip. Of course, eventually tourists are going to notice. The Riviera, for example, announced it is taking a year off from the badly needed renovation of the property to save money.

So, the one sure thing is that the future guarantees some amazing deals for tourists (and, with gas prices down, why are you reading this in California?). But for locals this is a harrowing economic time, no matter if you are a big player such as Steve Wynn about to open a new casino (Encore) or just a front-line worker hoping to keep working 40 hours.

Vegas only knows how to grow and we are still growing, but no one knows if all those rooms will attract people as has always been true in years past. As elsewhere, these are interesting times and even in a fantasy city such as Vegas it turns out reality exists.

Greg Tingle comment...

In the entertainment, showbiz and news media business, fantasy can become reality, just as perceptions can become reality. Fact is also often stranger than fiction. Vegas has always had ups and downs, and its no secret where it stands at the moment. It appears that Steve Wynn and his Las Vegas Sands have enough backing, support, goodwill and loyalty to ride out the storm. Trump is now investing in the Philippines, sharing the risk in a consortium, and James Packer of Crown is full speed ahead in Macau, so it seems. One of Charles Darwin's quotes is applicable in the current environment... "In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed". It will be interesting to see how much assistance the state and federal governments may offer, along with tourism bodies and such, as its all about tourism, the tourism dollar, and having a positive image, both to locals and the outside world. You can bet that the likes of Richard Branson's Virgin would be interested to fly "whales" and regular punters out of the casino and gaming hotspots. Virgin is bringing in more competitive fares to the Australian market (which you can bet Crown Casino appreciates), so perhaps they can drop the prices further in Vegas, and even cut their own deals with some casinos. Online casinos have played a dent in the market, but there's nothing like live entertainment. Quality usually wins over cheap and nasty, so it will be interesting to see what acts do the casino rounds in the coming weeks and months.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Macau leader: No plans to help Sands’ financing - Associated Press - 11th November 2008

Macau has no plans to help Las Vegas Sands Corp. with financing after the struggling casino operator announced it was suspending multibillion-dollar projects in the Chinese gambling city amid a cash crunch, the territory's leader said Tuesday.

In his annual policy address, Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho said that the government was aware of Sands' funding difficulties.

"Because of its over-leveraged borrowing in the U.S. and around the world, it's normal and expected that it has to suspend some of its projects," he said.

Asked whether he had any comment on reports that a Chinese bank would extend a significant loan to Sands, Ho responded that the government was not in a position to intervene.

"Until now, the Macau government has no concrete measures to help it solve its financing difficulties immediately," he said.

On Monday, Sands said it was suspending several projects, in Macau and elsewhere, and had agreements to raise $2.14 billion in new capital.

The announcement, amid worse-than-expected results for the third quarter, came after Sands said Thursday it was in danger of breaching lending conditions Dec. 31 and defaulting on $5.2 billion in credit facilities secured by its Las Vegas operations.

The company said it would temporarily shut down sites five and six along Macau's Cotai Strip, including a Shangri-La/Traders hotel tower, a Sheraton hotel tower and three casinos. The Macau sites cost $1.16 billion so far, and represent a part of the company's $13 billion master plan to develop Cotai.

The company said other projects, however, were still on track, including the $2.7 billion Marina Bay Sands to open in Singapore at the end of 2009.

Sands has controlled almost a quarter of of the gambling market in the southern Chinese gambling enclave, with its popular Venetian Macao Hotel Resort taking in $2.18 billion in revenues during its first 12 months.

Sands' successful Macau properties have given the company a needed boost in the last year, accounting for almost 70 percent or revenues.

A Sands representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.

On Tuesday, Ho said the suspension of Sands projects could cost some workers their jobs and revealed government officials had started discussions with the company to "make appropriate arrangements."

Ho also said he expected monthly gambling revenue to drop to about 7 billion patacas ($876 million) next year from about 8 billion patacas ($1 billion) a month this year.

"We expect there certainly will be some downward pressure on the entire gaming industry next year," he said. "Although there's pressure, we believe they're still business. On one hand, we have to be cautious, but on the other, we shouldn't be too pessimistic."

AP Writer Dikky Sinn contributed to this report.

Greg Tingle comment...

Edmund Ho is smart and diplomatic. He's seen the ups and downs of the casino, resort and tourism business before. One would certainly think that there is enough money in the Chinese bank and government reserves to put together some sort of rescue package, but whether they do it is another matter entirely. It's interesting that both James Packer and Donald Trump are now investing in The Philippines. Packer of course has his Crown Macau. Packer and Trump are involved in a number of projects of which gaming and casinos are only part of the equation. Trump's new Philippines project is a consortium effort, so the risk is shared amongst the group of investors. All of the action may present a great opportunity for an airline or two to fly the punters and high fliers alike around between the worlds top casinos and resorts. There's still a few "whales" around who like to play. You can bet that the likes of Richard Branson's Virgin Airlines will be eyeing this off, as Virgin are also involved in online casinos and have Virgin Hotels and health retreats well on the way. It's all a competition for the consumer and tourism dollar. As Charles Darwin said, "In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed". Sheldon Adelson, your throw of the dice.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

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Casino mogul puts Macau plans on hold - Reuters - 11th November 2008

Casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp, which warned last week it was in danger of violating loan agreements, said on Monday it would suspend construction in Macau as it copes with a lack of financing options.

Sands also reported a narrower third-quarter net loss and said it expects to shortly release details of a $US2 billion ($3 billion) bond sale.

''The whole solvency risk is gone and it looks like the liquidity risk will be gone,'' said Jefferies & Co analyst Lawrence Klatzkin.

Sands has elected to significantly slow the pace of development activity along Macau's Cotai Strip ''as we focus our current efforts on maximizing our cash flow and our returns on invested capital from our existing properties in Macau,'' Chief Operating Officer William Weidner said in a statement.

Majority-owner Chairman and Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson, speaking on a conference call, said the Macau government may act to help find financing for the projects.

The company also said it would suspend work on the St. Regis luxury-condominium project in Las Vegas and would focus on the casino components at its Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, development.

It still expects the Marina Bay Sands project in Singapore to open next year.

The Las Vegas-based company posted a net loss of $US32.2 million, or 9 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $US48.5 million, or 14 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter.

Sands attributed the smaller loss to increases in operating income and an income tax gain, partially offset by an increase in interest expense and a decrease in other income.

After adjusting for one-time items, Sands said it earned 2 cents a share in the quarter, well short of the 11 cents a share expected by analysts, as compiled by Reuters Estimates.

''The results weren't that bad...Vegas was a little bit on the rocks, but that was expected,'' Klatzkin said.

The company said net revenue rose 67% to $US1.11 billion, close to the $US1.16 billion expected by analysts.

Sagging US consumer spending power has hurt business in Las Vegas, where Sands operates the Palazzo and Venetian resorts, as well as the Sands Expo and Convention Center.

The company operates two casinos in Macau, where officials have recently restricted travel from mainland China, and has several more projects underway there as well as in Singapore and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The company said in its US Securities and Exchange filing on Monday that if it is unable to raise additional capital in the near term, it would need to consider further suspending portions, if not all, of its remaining global development projects.

The casino operator has also filed a shelf registration with regulators that would allow it to sell securities.

Shares of Sands, which have plummeted from a 52-week high above $US122, rose 14% on Monday to close at $US8.00 on the Nasdaq only to fall in after-hours trade to $US7.45.

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Melco's long odds - The Age - 11th November 2008

No wonder Melco Crown's share price is trading at $US3.83 ($5.58), having slumped as low as $US2.85 last month. Melco is burdened by $US1.75 billion in loans - soon to grow to $US2 billion - and management says the Crown Macau casino is not pulling in enough cash to support current and expected debt service requirements.

A Merrill Lynch analyst, Dan Renshaw, said this was a worry, but he emphasised that none of this debt could be sheeted home to locally listed Crown, which owns 37 per cent of Melco Crown.

He has also ruled out Melco Crown as a buyer if rival Las Vegas Sands had to sell assets in Macau because of its cash crisis, which has it teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

Citi said that Crown's purchase of a group of Las Vegas casinos known as the Cannery had been delayed three months to next March because of sluggish regulatory approvals.

It comes as more US rivals - this time Trump Entertainment Resorts and Harrah's Entertainment, in which Crown has a minority stake - reported quarterly losses.

(Credit: The Age)

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Final nine meet in Las Vegas again for US$9.12M poker crown - 9th November 2008

LAS VEGAS — The wait is over for nine men to settle a US$9.12 million bet.

The final players at the World Series of Poker resumed play Sunday at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to determine the champion at this year's no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event.

Seven players were to be eliminated Sunday, with the last two scheduled to play heads-up Monday night for the title and top payday. The nine players will split $32.6 million - the lion's share of a pool built on the $10,000 entry fees of 6,844 players who began play in July.

The last nine players return to the table Sunday after a break to build up interest in the event with vastly different sized chip stacks. Chips don't have monetary value, but they tell players where they stand compared with their opponents and significantly affect how they can manoeuvre in the game. A player who loses all his chips is eliminated.

Dennis Phillips, 53, a trucking account manager from suburban St. Louis, leads the way with 26.3 million chips. Phillips won his $10,000 buy-in and trip for the main event in a $200 satellite tournament at Harrah's St. Louis Hotel & Casino.

"I think I have these guys pegged pretty well," Phillips told The Associated Press. Phillips hired a professional poker coach but did not quit his job at Broadway Truck Centers in St. Louis.

He did say he spent weekends and other spare time studying his opponents and poker.

"You're always learning, you're always perfecting, you're always trying to improve," he said.

Ivan Demidov, a 27-year old semi-professional poker player from Moscow, trails Phillips with 24.4 million in chips.

Next in line are poker professional Scott Montgomery, 26, of Perth, Ont., with about 19.7 million chips, and Peter Eastgate, a 22-year-old professional poker player from Odense, Denmark, who holds 18.4 million chips. Eastgate, the youngest player at the poker table, could become the youngest main event champion ever.

Ylon Schwartz, 38, of New York, is next with 12.5 million chips. The Brooklyn native has been hustling games since age 13 and said the only difference between the World Series of Poker final table and other poker games is the "public spectacle."

Schwartz said he would try to not let the pressure of the money stand in the way of winning.

"It is $9 million, but I have no understanding of what that means," Schwartz said.

Schwartz is slightly ahead of Toronto accountant Darus Suharto, who won his main event entry through a $650 online satellite tournament on gambling site PokerStars.

"I'm an online donkey," Suharto said, billing himself as the least skilled player left in the tournament. Suharto won $26,389 for finishing 448th in the 2006 main event.

David "Chino" Rheem, a 28-year-old pro from Los Angeles, is in seventh place with 10.2 million chips, just 20,000 chips ahead of Craig Marquis, 23, of Arlington, Texas. Marquis also is trying to become the tournament's youngest champion.

In last place is Kelly Kim, a 31-year-old professional from Whittier, Calif., who believes serious play won't start until he doubles his stack or busts out. With 2.6 million chips, Kim holds about two per cent of the chips in play.

Kim said he was looking to get lucky after a bad day nearly eliminated him before the final table was set in July. He held on as the last players busted out, and said afterward that just making the final nine was of paramount importance.

"After getting there, now you're free-rolling into placing farther," he said.

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Chips are down as high rollers lay low, by Vanda Carson - The Sydney Morning Herald - 10th November 2008

The management of James Packer's Macau joint venture will face tough questions about a sharp fall in the number of VIPs at baccarat tables when it announces its third-quarter results late on Thursday night.

Shares in Melco Crown, which trades on the Nasdaq in the US, have been on a rollercoaster ride in recent weeks due to fears that it will be hit by a debt crisis that has afflicted the US gambling giant Las Vegas Sands.

Las Vegas Sands said it risked defaulting on its loans, and even bankruptcy, if its earnings from its Las Vegas casinos did not improve. The company, which is behind the Venetian casino in Macau, pulled its plans to raise $US5.25 billion ($7.5 billion) in loans to fund its expansion.

Investors in Melco Crown are also concerned the Macau market is heading for a fall in gamblers due to Chinese visa restrictions.

They have also been under pressure as casino revenues have dropped because the operators of group gambling tours, known as junkets, who lend gambling money to casino visitors, have found it hard to get credit from banks due to tighter lending standards. Melco Crown has a deal with the junket operator Amax Entertainment to provide visitors to its Crown Macau casino, which focuses on VIP gamblers.

Shares in Melco Crown have fallen more than 83 per cent since their peak of $US22 nearly two years ago, closing at $US3.83 on Friday. James Packer's Crown Limited owns 37 per cent of Melco Crown.

In the September quarter, VIP revenue in all Macau casinos fell 14 per cent from the previous quarter, to 17.25 billion patacas ($3 billion), according to the latest statistics. VIP revenue once made up almost 70 per cent of the Macau market, but it has now slipped to just over 66 per cent.

A Hong Kong-based gambling analyst, Gabriel Chan, of Credit Suisse, said the lack of finance available to gamblers was hurting casino revenues in Macau.

"People are losing money in the stockmarket so that would affect appetite for gambling," Mr Chan said. "The VIPs depend on the junket operators to offer them credits, but right now not even the junket operators can get financing."



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Sunday, November 9, 2008

After a Golden Era, Poker’s Stack Is Down, By Steve Friess - The New York Times - 7th November 2008

In a few days, the multimillion-dollar set would begin to take form, the players and their posses would arrive in town, and the hype machine surrounding one of the biggest gambles in the history of card games would kick into high gear.

But before then, a small thin man who wears pinstripe suits and paisley ties and doesn’t look anything like a gambler peered out from a barren stage at the empty 1,000-seat theater in early November and nodded his approval.

“We’re a long way from Benny’s Bullpen, huh?” said Jeffrey Pollack, 44, the commissioner of the World Series of Poker, referring to the squalid smoky room at a dump of a Las Vegas casino where, in 1970, seven grizzled card players held a little tournament to crown one of them a world poker champ.

“This is a lot different.”

But as calm and collected as Mr. Pollack and his team appear — these are poker people, after all — they have a problem. Poker’s status as pop phenomenon, a game that burst from insular casinos to become a fixture of cable television and attracted Hollywood card sharks like Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire, is in trouble.

Poker is drawing fewer television viewers, and it is drawing fewer low-stakes players inspired by the big names to visit Las Vegas. Television ratings for the poker world series on ESPN peaked in 2005, with last year’s event drawing 32 percent fewer viewers than the previous year. The number of players entering the world series, the game’s most prestigious tournament, hit a high of 8,773 in 2006. Only 6,844 entered this year, a 22 percent decline. (The championship is to be played on Monday.)

Poker’s golden era of growth was highlighted here by the $7-million refurbishment of the poker area at the Bellagio hotel and casino in 2005. But now poker rooms around Las Vegas are contracting; the one at the Las Vegas Hilton was replaced last year by 36 Wheel of Fortune slot machines, and the one at the Excalibur was replaced with dealerless electronic poker tables.

“Poker became this cultural phenomenon, and since then it’s certainly leveled off,” said Jeff Haney, a gaming columnist for The Las Vegas Sun. “I don’t think I’d call it a crash, but there were clear signs the market was oversaturated with goofy poker shows on TV.”

Enter Mr. Pollack, an executive with experience promoting Nascar and the National Basketball Association, who decided that this year the World Series of Poker would halt midway through the tournament to allow for four months of building suspense before the finals. So in July, once the thousands of entrants were whittled down to nine players, those finalists left to promote themselves as poker ambassadors. They have now returned here for a two-day finale to compete for a $9.1-million top prize.

In years past, the tournament was completed all at once and broadcast on ESPN in the fall, by which time most enthusiasts already knew who had won. This time, the so-called November Nine are to play down on Sunday to two competitors, who face off Monday.

ESPN plans to edit a two-hour show about the final two days of play, which will be broadcast on Tuesday at 9 p.m. Eastern time. (Nevada law prohibits broadcasting live gambling events in progress.)

“I don’t know how it winds up being received, but I think they’re really smart,” said Steve Lipscomb, chief executive and founder of a competing poker series, the World Poker Tour, which puts on high-stakes tournaments around the world. “I don’t think it’s a market changer — that all of a sudden everyone does it,” he said, referring to the four-month timeout in the world series. “Then it gets silly. But any innovator has to cringe and do something different.”

Mr. Pollack learned much of what he knows about developing sporting franchises at the knee of the N.B.A.’s legendary commissioner, David Stern, for whom he worked in marketing. He later spent five years as chief of broadcast and new media for Nascar.

“The goal is to make the World Series of Poker more popular than ever and more relevant,” said Mr. Pollack as he gave a tour of the trailers backstage, where, he said, 90 ESPN technicians will handle the final feeds.

This year’s schedule has been controversial. Explaining the logic behind it, Mr. Pollack said of the event: “It was developing a level of awareness in the pop culture that was very significant. But we stopped to ask, ‘If this were taking place on a basketball court or football field, how would we grow it?’ ”

The pause is aimed in part at turning the final nine players into poker-world celebrities, which has not been the case in recent years. The starting field of players is now large, and it has been seven years since a well-known poker star has made it to the Final Table, leaving poker fans without a Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan to root for.

“You’ll never see a real pro win the tournament again — a recognized pro, let’s put it that way,” said poker’s elder statesman, Doyle Brunson, 74, who has won more than $5.3 million in tournaments, including 10 different world series events. “I just go in and try to play well. But the magnitude of the numbers makes it impossible. It’s like I got a bull’s-eye on me. Every one of those players wants to break me. I have to overcome so many obstacles that it’s not realistic to think I can win.”

The nine finalists this year have each approached their break differently. All have landed sponsorships from Internet poker sites and the like, with the chip leader, a 53-year-old truck salesman named Dennis Phillips, of St. Louis, also landing a deal with Ford. The company is believed to be the first automotive sponsor of poker. Mr. Phillips and his opponents, four of whom are from foreign countries, have all been profiled by their local newspapers and TV stations and have been invited — expenses paid — to play in tournaments around the world.

For making it this far, they have each won at least $900,670, which they have already received. One of the final group is Kelly Kim, currently in ninth place with such a low number of chips that he acknowledged he is likely to be knocked out early when play resumes. He said the four months in limbo have been nerve-wracking but also financially rewarding because he is enjoying attention that usually comes only to the champion.

“I understand why they’re doing this, and I’ve probably benefited more than anyone considering where I am, but I’m really sick of my situation,” said Mr. Kim, 31, a poker pro from Whittier, Calif.

Mr. Pollack views the lack of transcendent poker stars at the Final Table as the charm of the tournament, not a problem. “You can’t buy your way onto an N.B.A. court,” he said. “You can’t buy your way onto an N.F.L. field. You can, however, enter the World Series of Poker and potentially walk away as a world champion.”

His organization recently wrapped up its second year of a European edition, with offshoots planned for Latin America and Asia. The World Poker Tour, too, is expanding overseas, having recently struck a deal with the Chinese government to produce a televised nongambling version of tractor poker, a popular Asian card game, as “a means of getting people comfortable to do card games on TV,” Mr. Lipscomb said.

“It’s a big world,” he said. “An awful lot of places are exploding right now. Just not as much in the U.S.”

(Credit: The New York Times)

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Cash-Starved Las Vegas Sands Seeks Help in Asia - The New York Times - 7th November 2008

Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire who controls Las Vegas Sands, is in talks with Singapore’s government and banks in Hong Kong and Macao as a cash shortage threatens $16 billion of casino developments in Asia, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the negotiations.

Mr. Adelson and government officials, who met this week, will pledge to complete a $4 billion project in Singapore, said a person with knowledge of the meeting told Bloomberg. Hong Kong and Macao bankers are also discussing financing for Las Vegas Sands’ Macao projects, Bloomberg said, citing two people involved in the transaction.

Las Vegas Sands seeks funding to stave off loan defaults while facing “substantial doubt” about its ability to survive, it said Thursday. Casino revenue in Macao, where the company earns about two-thirds of its sales, fell in the second and third quarters for the first time in at least three years.

“If they come up with something to help them get through this, the expansion can still be on course,” Billy Ng, a Hong Kong-based analyst at JPMorgan & Chase, told Bloomberg. “They are dealing with a liquidity crunch that nobody could’ve foreseen.”

Las Vegas Sands, which had $8.8 billion in long-term debt at the end of June, said in a regulatory filing that it probably wouldn’t meet lenders’ requirements unless it cut spending on developments, improved earnings at its Las Vegas Strip casinos and raised more capital.

A Las Vegas Sands spokesman, Ron Reese, declined to comment on any negotiations, Bloomberg said. The Singapore Tourism Board told the news service that it had nothing to add beyond a statement on Oct. 29, when it said it was in talks with Las Vegas Sands to “facilitate the success” of the Marina Bay Sands project.

Las Vegas Sands may have to delay or suspend its Macao projects “if the company is not able to obtain the requisite financing or the terms are not as favorable as it anticipates,” it said in a filing.

The Macao project financing, originally at more than $5 billion, may be cut because of the exclusion of a proposed $3.3 billion refinancing of loans signed in 2007, people involved in the deal said. The arrangement for new financing was originally scheduled for completion in late September or early October.

Lenders have also suggested that Las Vegas Sands sell shares or convertible bonds, the people said.

DBS Group, one of eight banks hired to arrange a loan of 5 billion Singapore dollars, or $3.4 billion, for Las Vegas Sands’ Singapore casino, said it saw “no indication of default” on the debt.

Pretax income for Las Vegas Sands in the first half was $80.1 million less than needed to cover fixed charges including interest expenses, Las Vegas Sands said in the filing. The company had a shortfall of $80.7 million at the end of last year. The company’s pretax income was 1.2 times the charges at the end of June 2007.

Shares of Las Vegas Sands plummeted on Thursday by 33 percent, to $7.85 in New York trading, after it said it might default on loans arranged by Citigroup, Goldman Sachs Group and Lehman Brothers. That’s the biggest drop since it went public in 2004 and extended a slide this year to 92 percent.

The company’s earnings may be hurt by Chinese government restrictions on mainland residents visiting Macao, where Las Vegas Sands operates the Venetian Macao, the biggest casino resort in Asia. Macao, a former Portuguese colony, is a semi-autonomous city and the only place in China where casino gambling is legal.

Casino gambling revenue in Macao fell to 26 billion patacas, or $3.28 billion, in the third quarter from 28.9 billion patacas in the second.

Mr. Adelson’s company is also building the $800 million Sands Bethworks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and a $600 million condominium complex in Las Vegas. Mayor John Callahan of Bethlehem said Las Vegas Sands had suspended work on construction of a hotel, conference center and mall to speed up completion of the casino there.

Spending declines on the Las Vegas Strip have also reduced Las Vegas Sands’ cash flow. Mr. Adelson, 75, who holds a stake of more than 64 percent, invested an additional $475 million in September to avoid violating the terms of a loan. He hired an unidentified investment bank to help raise more capital.

The casino operator said it did not expect to meet a maximum leverage ratio covenant in the fourth quarter. That would trigger defaults that might force it to suspend development projects and “raise a substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” Las Vegas Sands said in the filing.

Greg Tingle comment...

Sheldon Adelson is putting his own money where his mouth is. That is a sign that a. He's got money and b. He's confident that the good times in the LA casino business will come again. Adelson is looking to lead by example. It reminds me someone of a few instances that Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Enterprises Limited backs himself and his company, to show leadership, even when share prices in the sector and his own company take a dive. You can bet that the likes of Mr James Packer and Mr Ho of Crown Casino and Crown Macau are watching this space closely. Mr Packer recently opted out of the Australian TV business via his association with Network Nine Australia, PBL and CVC, to focus his efforts on the Crown Casino chain. It will be interesting to see if Packer's current focus on the casino sector pays off. Casinos are of course part of the investment, property and tourism sector, so one can bet that the likes of Adelson, Packer and Branson have a few aces up their sleeves. Most countries and cities have a tourism sector, and its in the governments best interests to look after the sector. I can foresee further consolidation and even mergers in the casino sector, much like the mergers that are occurring in the aviation business. Mergers of the right kind, and appropriate government action may be what's required to see the casino (and hotel - resort) sector once again return to the glory days when things were pumping Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal style. Also, don't dismiss the fact that famed reality television producer, Mark Burnett is preparing to launch his casino game theme Rouletter television show. It's all entertainment and a battle for the entertainment and consumer dollar. Little wonder iGaming is bringing their CAP Down Under casino business conference down under to Sydney, Australia. Everyone's looking for an insider edge, in all facets of the casino and casino related sector. With all things considered, it looks like a combination of casino business family and private money, outside investor, government tourism money and a little help from the friends are going to pull the casino sector back up to the glory days, but I think the smart money says its going to take a few years, and some won't be able to wait that long.

(Credit: The New York Times)

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