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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Casino News Media Update

Crown Casino Crown Towers ready for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes stay in Melbourne

Russian land based casinos shut down

Twitter Changing Professional Poker: Report

World Poker Tour Season Eight Announced

PartyGaming rumoured to release more Hollywood blockbuster theme slots, Alien, Andre The Giant

Virgin Games website removes Michael Jackson promo

CasinoClub.com and SlotsClub.com ramp up multi currency facilities and revamp websites

Media Man Australia revamps Casino News Media, Classic Slots Online and Australian Casino News websites

Lottery jackpot draw held tonight; Australia

American gaming changes on the way, California, Texas; could be windfall to U.S states

UIGEA: Odds are Good on Overturning U.S. Online Gambling Ban

Online poker proving popular with world's financial wizards

Donald Trump to revisit land based casino business in Vegas, Atlantic City

Gambling911.com revamps Australian content

Star City Casino model gunman court trial on the way

Tabcorp chasing payments to former director

PartyPoker.com climbing way back up PokerScout rankings

CAP Euro Goes to Budapest

JackpotCity.com to embark on Australian media and new media campaign

William Hill likely to leave UK base

Elle MacPherson still dating casino king, Damian Aspinall

Calvin Ayre eying off Philippines, Australia

UFC enjoying solid success with BetUS sports betting

Captain Cooks Casino releases more Microgaming titles

Playtech to sign a deal 2 or 3 times bigger than William Hill agreement

Australian online gambling landscape heats up between Centrebet, Betfair, PartyGaming, and overseas operators

Marvel Entertainment online slots deal with PartyCasino.com exceeding expectations

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MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE And TOP GUN Star Tom Cruise visits Melbourne, Australia via Crown Casino

Hollywood movie star, Tom Cruise, and wife, Katie Holmes, will be staying at the Crown Towers, part of James Packer's Crown Casino group.

The star of such iconic blockbuster films such as Mission: Impossible and Top Gun, is in Australia accompanying his partner who is to film Don't Be Afraid of the Dark at the Docklands Studio. Holmes will feature along side Australia's Guy Pearce.

Mr Packer has gone all out to ensure the couple enjoy a happy, safe and secure stay. The Packer's are reportable good friends with The Cruise's and have shared an interest in Scientology, and the entertainment and media business over the years.

Tom Cruise is planning to jet to and from the US to spend time with the family.

Readers may have difficulty meeting up with Mr Cruise, however gamblers may like to try their luck playing the official MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE and TOP GUN online casino games, developed by PartyGaming and available for play 24/7 on the Media Man Australia, Casino News Media and Australian Casino News websites.

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James Packer in Melbourne, star pad for Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes - The Daily Telegraph - 30th June 2009

A beefed up James Packer yesterday flew to Melbourne to prepare his personal suite at Crown Plaza for the arrival of Hollywood stars Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

The billionaire has offered Cruise and wife Katie Holmes the use of his private suite at the Crown Plaza for the duration of their Australian stay.

The Packers' private jet was at Essendon airport yesterday with a cheerful-looking Packer spotted at Crown Towers.

The media-turned-gambling tycoon is understood to be leaving nothing to chance for the Cruise and Holmes visit.

The Cruise clan and the Packers are close friends, with a shared interest in Scientology.

Crown has increased its security in readiness for the power couple's arrival.

Holmes and her daughter Suri were offered the billionaire's top floor Crown Towers home after being unable to find a home large enough and with enough security to accommodate their needs.

Holmes is expected to arrive in Australia for the start of her 10 week visit today. The Docklands studio where she will film Don't Be Afraid of the Dark with Australian actor Guy Pearce will be a media-free zone during filming.

Husband Tom Cruise is planning to jet to and from the US to spend time with the family. (Credit: The Daily Telegraph)

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Monday, June 29, 2009

PartyGaming to build first grassroots poker team; Signs Ian Fraser - 26th June 2009

PartyPoker is to create its first ever grassroots poker team to compete at major poker events.

PartyPoker.com has previously stayed out of the player sponsorship market with the exception of main site ambassador Mike Sexton, but has sponsored UK player Ian Frazer as the new team’s first member.

A PartyPoker.com spokesman said: “The sponsored player and grassroots team initiative will continue to grow, with all VIPs reviewed for suitability. We are looking for players that have shown themselves to have star quality in their play but who are also fun, humorous and possess a strong character and willingness to co-operate. Our extensive international television distribution gives players the chance of brilliant exposure.”

VIPs, loyal players and players with historic links to PartyPoker will form the basis of the team.

Ian ‘The Raiser’ Frazer, a 50-year-old building contractor from London with live tournament winnings of over US$1.3m, started playing online at the site in 2004, and has finished on the final table of five offline Party tournaments.

Frazer will host invitation-only private tournaments on PartyPoker.com and represent PartyPoker.com at events at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas, on which he has started blogging on the PartyPoker blog.

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Casino shooting: girlfriend 'stalked, threatened' - ABC News - 25th June 2009

A man accused of shooting a gym instructor several times at Star City Casino last year has been committed to stand trial.

Todd Devaney was charged after he was accused of shooting his ex-girlfriend Holly Graham while she was working at the Star City gym as a pilates and yoga instructor.

In the brief of evidence tendered to the court, Ms Graham describes a violent relationship and how she was stalked and endured years of threats from Devaney after their relationship ended.

In her statement she also described the expression on Devaney's face as he pulled out the gun, saying it made her think he was saying "I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to kill you".

Devaney appeared in court via video-link and quietly watched proceedings. (Credit: ABC News)

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Casino News Media Update

PartyCasino.com ramping up in Australia, Canada, with TV adverts, web and games upgrade

Crown Casino pokies auction sees strong pub sales

Virgin Games Transformers slot a hit, Michael Jackson death terminates Jackson ticket giveaways

Media Man Australia negotiates with JackpotCity, Star Partner. Party time in battle of the casino titans

Sports betting scam on Gold Coast investigation by police

PartyGaming rumoured to release Resident Evil, Alien and Andre The Giant slot

Australian gambling industry under spotlight, club pokies and online

Bingo still a growing online market: PartyBingo, VirginBingo, Bingo Australia and Mira Bingo and Bingo Canada shake things up

New Zealand's SkyCity looking to attract share of casino whales

Crown Casino and Star City Casino in battle to attract top line entertainment attractions

Classic Slots Online.com website portal big hit with classic casino game players

Australian Casino News.com website portal adds PartyCasino classics, Marvel and Aussie slots

Australian pokies business supported by Woolworths and Coles

Harrah's making progress with online casino initiatives

Reef Hotel Casino, Cairns, hotel faces tax bill hike

Gaming entrepreneur Damian Aspinall says Aspers revenue up 50%

Casino portal forums CAP, GPWA, Affiliate Guard Dog, Casino Meister in heated battle for audience and breaking news

Skill games to be used in Australian property promotion campaign

Online casino industry enjoying more mainstream media coverage: Fairfax, News Limited, AAP ramp up coverage

PartyCasino.com, PartyPoker.com, JackpotCity, Virgin Games and others ramp up official blogs

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

IGT-UK Group restructures its online and mobile operations - 22nd June 2009

Manchester, England, 22nd June 2009

IGT-UK Group today announces the restructure of its mobile and internet gaming operations following the recent news concerning its acquisition of Million-2-1 and the subsequent announcement covering the integration of the UK division of WagerWorks.

As a result of this restructure, the UK division of WagerWorks will take responsibility for the sale and distribution of:

* Barcrest Group game content in remote gaming markets (interactive digital television, mobile gaming and internet gaming markets); and

* IGT game content in mobile gaming markets, developed utilising the Million-2-1 mobile gaming platform.

WagerWorks game development strategy has been to supply a mixture of well-known consumer brands coupled with internet versions of IGT “killer” brands, such as Cleopatra®. WagerWorks will now also leverage online versions of successful game titles from Barcrest Group, offering streams of game content in interactive digital television, mobile gaming and internet gaming markets.

Million-2-1 will continue to focus on interactive services for media organisations and land-based retailers, using mobile solutions to deliver new revenue streams. This includes prize competitions, mobile marketing campaigns and lotteries for the UK and international markets.

Also announced is the appointment of Simon Murphy to the position of Head of Business Development for WagerWorks. Simon joins WagerWorks from Million-2-1 and will be responsible for developing commercial relationships with key clients across mobile gaming and internet gaming products alongside the existing WagerWorks team.

Robert White, Vice President, IGT-UK said, “This restructure streamlines our current sales and distribution process and enables us to offer an integrated remote gaming solution to our partners through one business relationship. It is also consistent with our game development strategy of offering great game content across multiple channels, including mobile and internet. By developing new branded content and continuing to access the best games from land-based environments I am confident we can further strengthen our games portfolio and our position as a leading content supplier.”

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Casino News Media - Media Man Australia News Update

PartyCasino.com adds Marvel slot games, Next Gen slot games, $500 bonus and more

Virgin Games - Virgin Casino Transformers slot game more popular with public than film

CyptoLogic extends Marvel Entertainment slot deal to 2013

James Packer confident City of Dreams will follow success of Crown Casino

Captain Cooks Casino and TOMB RAIDER slot still winning punters in Australia

PKR revamps website

Donald Trump aims to retake control of casinos

Paris Hilton and other celebrities tempted by celebrity poker pay days

JackpotCity website relaunched

William Hill Casino Club contemplating next move

Casino News Media.com website approaches Hitwise top ten status, following Media Man

Australian Casino News.com website winning over Aussie punters and insiders

Classic Slots Online.com website adds more casino classics

Marvel Slots Online.com and Marvel Heroes Casino.com adds multimedia

Bodog.com reclaims original domain name, Australian visit rumours

CasinoClub.com and SlotsClub.com ramp up Australian presence

Australia gambling authorities aiming to tighten gaming laws

LuckyAcePartners to change affiliate program name, insiders say they know why

Poker nights proving popular in Australian clubs, pubs and hotel

Shane Warne and other Australian sports figures rumoured to be heading up games of skill campaigns, following 888 campaign

Sports betting positioning itself as game of skill, following poker legal findings

Casino reviews and online casino reviews Media Man Australia profile updated

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cryptologic Extends Relationship With Marvel

Spider-Man, Hulk, X-Men and other heroes extend their stay with CryptoLogic to 2013

June 22, 2009 (Dublin, IRELAND) -- CryptoLogic Limited, a world leader in Internet casino and branded gaming software, today announced the extension of its exclusive licensing agreement with Marvel Entertainment, Inc., a relationship that has produced some of the company’s most popular and profitable games.

Under the agreement, CryptoLogic retains its rights as the exclusive worldwide developer of Internet casino games based on Marvel’s characters as they appear in the comic books through 2013. This is the third time CryptoLogic has extended its very successful licensing agreement with Marvel.

“CryptoLogic’s exclusive partnership with Marvel has been daringly different for our industry – as together we have brought some of the world’s favourite characters to the world’s top Internet casinos,” said Brian Hadfield, CryptoLogic’s President and CEO. “It’s exciting to extend a deal that has been mutually successful and profitable, and to strengthen CryptoLogic’s competitive advantage in the branded gaming space. We look forward to working with Marvel to deliver an even more compelling experience for every player, every day.”

According to Simon Philips, President, Worldwide Consumer Products for Marvel Entertainment, “We are very pleased to be extending our relationship with CryptoLogic. They have proven they are able to translate Marvel’s world renowned Super Heroes into hugely successful Internet casino games and we are confident they will continue to fully leverage these properties on a global level."

Since 2005, CryptoLogic has launched more than 17 slot games featuring classic Marvel Super Heroes — including Spider-Man, the Hulk, X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Blade, Sub-Mariner, the Punisher and others — at some of the world’s most popular Internet casinos.

Boasting more than 280 games, CryptoLogic has one of the most comprehensive casino suites on the Internet today, with games featuring some of the world’s most famous action and entertainment characters. CryptoLogic has earned rave reviews from industry peers and players alike, and in 2009 earned Gambling Online Magazine’s Top Casino Software award for the fourth consecutive year. Based on the votes of players around the world, it is widely considered the industry’s top honour.

“CryptoLogic is committed to building on this great partnership by delivering even more blockbuster entertainment with Marvel in the years to come,” added Justin Thouin, CryptoLogic’s Vice President.

About CryptoLogic (www.cryptologic.com)
Focused on integrity and innovation, CryptoLogic Limited is a leading 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 that offer their games to non-U.S. based players around the world. For information on WagerLogic, please 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).

Marvel and all related characters: TM & 2009 Marvel Entertainment, Inc. and its subsidiaries. Licensed by Marvel Characters B.V. www.marvel.com. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

'Pink Panther' suspect nabbed near casino - Agence France-Presse - 20th June 2009

Monaco police have arrested at least one suspected member of the "Pink Panther" gang international jewel thieves.

Two other men arrested with him could also be members of the gang.

The three, whose nationality has not been revealed, were picked up on Thursday as they were parking in Monte Carlo's Place du Casino, where several jewellery shops are located.

Interpol has been coordinating the work of several police forces to track down the gang, thought to number around 60 members.

About half of them are Montenegrins, and from the former Yugoslavia.

The group is suspected of having carried out raids in the Mediterranean millionaires' playground of Monte Carlo, the French Channel resort of Le Touquet, as well as in Germany and the Swiss cities of Lausanne and Geneva.

It has also been linked to robberies as far afield as the United States, Japan and the United Arab Emirates, where the Panthers carried out a spectacular heist.

In October 2008, Monaco police arrested two suspected members of the "Pink Panther" in the same square.

Two Montenegrins, suspected members of the "Pink Panther" of jewellery shop raiders, were jailed by a French court earlier this month on charges relating to forged papers.

And on Sunday, Montenegrin police, acting on an Interpol warrant, arrested Vladimir Lekic, another suspected member of the gang, at his home in the central town of Cetinje.

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DiCaprio betting on online casino film - 17th June 2009

Leonardo DiCaprio is set to star in a new film about the world of online casinos based in Costa Rica, entertainment industry reports said Tuesday.

The 34-year-old Oscar-nominated star of Titanic and The Departed is also set to produce the as-yet-untitled project, the Hollywood Reporter and Variety reported. No further information was available.

DiCaprio, whose most recent film was last year's 1950s period drama Revolutionary Road, will next be seen in Shutter Island, Martin Scorsese's thriller based on Dennis Lehane's 2003 novel.

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Crown Casino sting, by Carly Crawford and Ellen Whinnett - Sunday Herald Sun - 21st June 2009

REVEALED: MORE than $23 million in stolen money was laundered through Crown casino as part of one of the world's biggest frauds.

Three Chinese conmen have been jailed for up to 25 years each for embezzling more than $605 million from the Bank of China.

The Sunday Herald Sun can reveal that $23.6 million of the stolen money made its way on to Crown's tables from the thieves and their illegal companies.

One of the conmen, Yu Zhendong, has told a United States court the gang spent their dirty money in Australia.

"We've been to the Crown in Melbourne and also the Gold Coast casino," he said, before being sentenced to 12 years' jail.

Two other ringleaders of the gang - Xu Chaofan and Xu Guojun - are now serving 25 years and 22 years respectively for their roles in the global fraud and money-laundering scheme.

Yu told a court he occasionally used his alias, Yu Wing Chung, to enter Australia illegally.

Documents lodged with the District Court of Nevada in the US show the conmen and associates diverted millions of dollars into Crown's bank accounts in 1998 and 2000.

They moved up to $7.5 million in a single transaction - money that courts in China and the US say was stolen.

But it appears no alarm bells were rung in Australia. Crown refused to comment on the case. (Credit: Sunday Herald Sun)

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Robots in Disguise Are Coming to Virgin Casino-Transformers: Ultimate Payback

-Virgin Casino launches new slot game, Transformers: Ultimate Payback(TM)

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, Jun 19, 2009 - Virgin Casino today announces the launch of the brand new online slot game, Transformers: Ultimate Payback(TM). The multi-coin slot game offers players the chance to experience an action packed battle between their favourite Transformers complete with authentic characters, voiceovers and the theme song from the cult science-fiction series! Players can reap the rewards along the way with the slot game's 25-payline configuration, Transforming Wild symbols, free spins and bonus level.

Throughout the base game, players can multiply their winnings into fortunes by making an entire reel wild by revealing Optimus Prime and Megatron Transforming Wild symbols on the second and fourth reels. And if that's not enough, the Cybertron Variable Wild symbol can offer up to a 10 x line multiplier.

Players can settle the ongoing battle between The Autobots and The Decepticons once and for all with the Ultimate Payback Bonus(TM) which is triggered by bonus symbols landing simultaneously anywhere on the first and fifth reels. Optimus Prime (leader of Autobots) or Megatron (leader of Decepticons) battle when a 'Fight' symbol is revealed anywhere on the fifth reel. Before the great battle commences players are tasked with the tough decision of selecting which robot they believe will win. Players can spin for free (maximum 100 spins) until one of the Transformers triumphs and if their chosen hero wins players can cash in on up to 3250 bonus credits.

As with all Virgin Casino games, players can also earn V-POINTS - Virgin Games' loyalty points - every time they play. Offering players the chance to redeem their points for further Virgin rewards, including Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles or cold, hard cash, V-POINTS can be transferred across Virgin Games portfolio of products, including Virgin Poker and Virgin Bingo.

Premium releases including ELVIS - A Little More Action(R), Dungeons and Dragons: Fortress of Fortunes(TM), Cleopatra II(TM) and Da Vinci Diamonds(R) have already been added to Virgin Casino's portfolio of games. Further big titles will be added to Virgin Games in the coming months, ensuring a constant stream of new and exciting games to keep players' adrenalin going.

Virgin Casino launched under the Virgin Games brand in June 2004. The site was refreshed in June 2006, providing players with a greater choice of games and additional means of earning bonus points and rewards.

Transformers: Ultimate Payback(TM) is available on www.virgingames.com/casino

(i) Transformers: Ultimate Payback(TM) is a trademark of IGT in the U.S. and/or other countries, and is used with permission. U.S. and international patents pending.

About Virgin Games

Virgin Games launched in June 2004 and has quickly established itself as one of the leading gaming websites in the UK. Virgin Games comprises four distinct offerings:

- Virgin Casino, part of the Wagerworks network, brings consumers classic casino offerings like blackjack and roulette, as well as great feature slots like Monopoly, Cluedo, Dungeons and Dragons Fortress of Fortunes(TM) and the highly popular MegaJackpots progressive games, with a seeding value of Pounds Sterling 1,500,000

- Virgin Poker, part of the Boss Media network, offers a huge array of games and content for beginners through to experienced pros - as well as the most generous loyalty scheme in the industry

- Virgin Bingo, part of the Virtue Fusion network, offers cash prizes worth thousands of pounds in the progressive jackpots, as well as Virgin prize bingo and a range of unique Virgin Games bingo games.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

David Leckie’s bizarre speech - Media Diary - The Australian - 18th June 2009

It's usually the network’s stars who face questions about their after-hours behaviour, but last night it was executive David Leckie whose bizarre antics left an industry event wondering what was wrong with the Seven CEO.

Leckie was so unsteady on his feet at Sydney’s Star City Casino some guests questioned whether he had fully recovered from a severe infection which left him in an induced coma in April last year.

Leckie was slurring his words as he delivered a speech at a star-studded party to celebrate the success of Seven’s morning programs, Sunrise, Weekend Sunrise and The Morning Show.

He mumbled so much he was hard to follow and at one stage he said “I can’t read this (speech) by the way…”.

Then followed a series of harsh reflections on the Seven network he inherited six years ago and which he has turned around into the market leader.

“The second day I arrived at Channel Seven, I went out to wonderful Epping. Sacked the general manager and went into our newsroom.”

He recounted how he and his new recruit from Nine Peter Meakin both wanted the pleasure of sacking the then Seven news director.

Meakin, who became the network’s news and public affairs chief, got the task.

“It was a horrible, horrible hole down there…. but you know what? There was something going on. There was something really going on.

“That was six years ago. Six years ago. You could just see it. You could just see some sort of spark going on.”

Leckie then identified the “spark” as the Sunrise breakfast show produced by Adam Boland, which has not lost a ratings week to Nine’s Today in five years.

“The only thing we did was, we went to the board, or I actually did…with Peter [Meakin’s] endorsement…to get more money. I thought ‘I’m going to have a crack at this,’” Leckie said. “And I must say Kerry Stokes and Ryan Stokes were way, way behind this. They were so into it. It was fantastic. We could have closed the doors, we could have walked out, it was that bad. But for one thing: it was called Sunrise.”

“Sunrise is number one, full stop. Full stop. Weekend Sunrise has smashed their opposition. Smashed their opposition. I mean you can’t believe important Sunday was to Channel Nine,” the former Nine CEO said.

“It was hugely important. We’ve smashed it. God….

Leckie praised Boland and the producers and presenters of Sunrise, Weekend Sunrise and The Morning Show, all of which win their timeslots.

“And The Morning Show -well it’s just a joke. We started from nowhere and just killed them. We’ve killed them. It’s really exciting you know. It’s really very, very important and I’m glad you’re all here. It’s just extraordinary what we’ve done. But not me. The people here,” he said.

“It’s all I’ve got to say I guess. Everyone deserves their succ…success. Because I think the success has been incredible. I’ve never seen a turn around like this in my life. Don’t think I ever will again. But well done.”

One of the stars present was Andrew O’Keefe who was supported by Leckie and the network after a video of the Deal or No Deal presenter rolling drunk in the street was screened on a rival network. (Credit: The Australian)

Greg Tingle comment...

We're all human and can only do our best. Life and business is full of ups and downs, millionaire, billionaire, media tycoon or not. Channel Seven have overall enjoyed a number of hugely successful years and celebrating at a casino seems as good as place as any. Seems something might be in the wind between Channel Seven and Star City Casino, just as there's an association between James Packers' Crown Casino and Network Nine Australia. Nothing wrong with a drink either. No sign of Gordon Ramsay at the Star Casino bar, and the jury maybe out if he is to appear at Crown. No such thing as coincidence... not in the news media or casino business anyway. Cheers.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Transformers Slot Game Review - Virgin Games

Review

There’s more than meets the eye in this 25-payline game as wild symbols suddenly transform and multiply your wins into fortunes!

Spin for free in the Ultimate Payback Bonus™ until one of the Transformers prevails in the battle, up to 100 spins.

Game Specifications

• Play in the Universe of the Classic Transformers
• 3x5 Multi-Line/Multi-Coin slot game
• 1 to 5 credits per Line
• 125 credit max bet
• 25 Paylines Full of Action Packed Transforming Symbols in Both Main and Bonus Games
• Optimus Prime and Megatron Transforming Wilds Make the Entire Reel Wild
• Cybertron Variable Wild Offers Up to a 10x Line Multiplier
• Optimus Prime and Megatron Battle to the Finish in the Ultimate Payback Bonus™
• Spin for Free in the Bonus Until One Transformer Prevails in Battle
• Player always has equal chance to select between three randomly selected multipliers

Ultimate Payback Bonus™

• Optimus Prime and Megatron Transforming Wild symbols make entire reel wild
• Cybertron Variable Wild symbol – from 2x up to 10x
• More Transforming and Cybertron Wild symbols on bonus reels
• Optimus Prime and Megatron fight in the “Ultimate Payback Bonus™” battle
• Player Chooses winner and receives bonus pay if their champion wins
• Up to 100 free spins!

Playing the Ultimate Payback Bonus™

• Bonus symbols landing simultaneously anywhere on the first and fifth reels trigger the “Ultimate Payback Bonus™”
• The bonus is played with a bet equal to the initiating bet
• Before the bonus begins, the player chooses which Transformer they think will win the battle (Optimus Prime or Megatron)
• The bonus free spin reels contain the same feature symbols as the base game:
• Optimus Prime and Megatron Transforming (expanding) Wild Symbols
• Cybertron Variable Wild Symbol (up to 10x)
• At the beginning of the bonus, Optimus Prime and Megatron square off beneath the reels as they prepare to fight
• During a free spin, when a “Fight” symbol lands anywhere on the fifth reel, Optimus Prime and Megatron fight
• If the player’s chosen Transformer wins the battle, they are awarded a pay
• If the player’s chosen Transformer wins the battle undamaged, they are awarded a special “Perfect!” pay
• The bonus continues until one of the Transformers has defeated the other in battle (or 100 free spins are played)

Top Award

The top award is capped at 250,000 currency units for a single bet.
This maximum applies to a single spin of the base game as well as the cumulative total of all wins in the base game and the Free Spins bonus.

Coin denominations

• GBP: 1p / 2p / 5p / 10p / 20p / 50p / £1 / £2 / £5
• Euro: 1c / 2c / 5c / 10c / 20c / 50c / €1 / €2 / €5
• USD: 1¢ / 5¢ / 10¢ / 25¢ / 50¢ / $1 / $2 / $5

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PartyGaming Is Going Online With Five - 17th June 2009

Leading listed online gaming operator PartyGaming has signed an exclusive agreement with Channel 5 Broadcasting Limited to create a Five-branded online bingo and casino service targeting the UK market.

This is PartyGaming’s fourth business-to-business deal in 2009 and it stated that the online service would be launched in the second half of the year.

“With more than 30 million viewers each week and a household entertainment brand, Five is an important addition to our expanding business-to-business portfolio,” said Jim Ryan, Chief Executive Officer for PartyGaming.

“We are confident of securing more business-to-business deals in the coming months as we match our eGaming talents and assets with the consumer reach of other companies around the world.”

Five has already launched a popular video-on-demand catch-up service, Demand Five, and has begun expansion into key vertical markets with FiveFWD, an advertiser supported portal for young men featuring content from two of the broadcaster’s key programme brands, The Gadget Show and Fifth Gear.

“Five is looking aggressively at how to expand its presence in digital media both in terms of its core broadcast content as well as allied offerings that reflect the channel’s unique sense of dynamism and fun,” said Dawn Airey, Chair and Chief Executive for Five.

“We look forward to a long and prosperous partnership with PartyGaming, whose job it will be to create for Five’s audience the very best gaming experience.”

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Landmarks For PartyCasino.com and PartyBingo.com More Additions To World's Largest Online Casino As Number Of Games Doubles In Six Months

Gibraltar -- 16th June – www.partycasino.com and www.partybingo.com are both currently offering record jackpots that are waiting to be hit! The PartyCasino.com Gold Mega Jackpot is at a record level and stands at over $2.4 million, while the PartyBingo.com jackpot in the Lillac Lounge is industry leading at over £63,000 and is rated as highly winnable by independent comparison checks.

Gold Mega Jackpot games on PartyCasino.com include The Godfather, Super Star, Super Joker, Super Fortune Wheel, Super Mystic and Mega Fortune Wheel. PartyCasino.com now offers over 120 games and pays out well over $10 million EVERY DAY to players. The world’s largest online casino continues to expand rapidly - in fact the number of games on PartyCasino.com has DOUBLED in just six months and there are a lot more to come! The latest release has seen dozens of new games added with the highlights being the in-house developed dinosaur themed Raptor Island and online casino classic Cleopatra. They join the group of Cryptologic licensed Marvel games, Wagerworks games like the very popular Monopoly and Next Gen slots such as Dolphin Reef.

With rights acquired from Frank Sinatra Enterprises (FSE), a joint venture of the Sinatra Estate and Warner Music Group, PartyCasino.com has also developed the Sinatra Slot - a five-reel, 20 line slot game with a Sinatra Big Band feature. Play through the three ages of Frank in Hollywood, Las Vegas and New York, collecting and writing big band tunes on the way. The game features an accumulating bonus trigger; collect a Treble Clef for each reel to build up a Sinatra track at the top of the screen. Complete the track to see Frank sing a classic track and then get a chance to write your own number in the Big Band Bonus feature. The minimum bet is $0.01 and maximum is $1,000. To celebrate the recent introduction of this innovating slot, PartyCasino.com is offering the chance to win trips to New York, Las Vegas or Hollywood and free spins until July 7 – see http://www.partycasino.com/news/newsletter for more details. Other highlights include film themed slots such as Mission:Impossible, The Terminator, Top Gun, Saturday Night Fever, Gone with the Wind and Rambo.

The PartyBingo.com jackpot in the Lilac Lounge is now over £63,000, the largest in the industry at the current time. It is rated by independent adjudicators to be one of the most ripe to be hit and the ball count has been increased to 37 make it easier to hit!

A PartyGaming spokesman said: “PartyCasino.com is a completely different product to what it was six months ago with so many great new games added. The Gold Mega Jackpot just continues to grow and grow past previous record levels – we’re surprised it hasn’t been hit yet. At the same time jackpot hunters are going to find PartyBingo.com very attractive, £63,000 would be a seriously big bingo win!”

PartyGaming Plc is the world’s leading listed online gaming company. Founded in 1997, the Group is a constituent of the FTSE 250 share index and the FTSE4Good Index Series, which measures the performance of companies that meet globally recognised corporate responsibility standards. PartyGaming’s shares are listed on The London Stock Exchange under the ticker: PRTY. PartyGaming’s principal brands are: PartyPoker.com, PartyCasino.com, EmpirePoker.com, PartyBingo.com, PartyGammon.com, PartyBets.com, PartyMarkets.com and Gamebookers.com.

PartyGaming is regulated and licensed by the Government of Gibraltar and is certified by GamCare as a responsible gaming operator. For more information, please visit www.partygaming.com

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Daniel Tzvetkoff hit with $52m lawsuit, by Daryl Passmore - The Sunday Mail - 14th June 2009

Queensland's baby-faced internet tycoon Daniel Tzvetkoff is being targeted in a $52 million legal action by an online gambling firm.

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of blows in recent months for the 25-year-old who first hit the headlines last year when he bought the state's most expensive home, spending $27 million for an unfinished beachfront mansion on the Gold Coast.

Mr Tzvetkoff is the brains behind an online billing, payments and fraud-detection system which helped him and partner Sam Sciacca, 38, build a business empire worth an estimated $120 million in last year's The Sunday Mail Top 100 Rich List.

Their firm, Intabill Inc, is now being sued by Kolyma Corporation AVV for payments which Kolyma says were not passed on.

The corporation, based in the former Dutch colony of Aruba in the southern Caribbean, operates Full Tilt Poker, one of the most popular and lucrative online gambling sites.

It was one of the biggest clients of Intabill, which is based in the Brisbane suburb of Milton.

Kolyma is seeking payment of an alleged debt of $US43 million ($A52.75 million) plus interest, which it claims has been increasing at $US13,532 a day (about A$16,590) since May 25.

The action, lodged in the Supreme Court in Brisbane on May 25, names as defendants Intabill, which is registered in the British Virgin Islands tax haven, and the Australian-registered holding company BT Projects. It also targets Mr Tzvetkoff and Mr Sciacca individually, saying they gave a guarantee to pay Kolyma money claimed to be owed.

Mr Tzvetkoff told The Sunday Mail they would defend the lawsuit "but I can't comment further".

Mr Sciacca could not be reached for comment.

Intabill had more than 5000 customers in 70 countries. It is understood that about half its revenue came from business linked to online gambling operations, with fees from just one operator topping more than $150,000 per day.

In April, Intabill laid off 96 employees - keeping about 20. Mr Tzvetkoff blamed market conditions and increased loan funding costs.

In May, Intabill withdrew a multimillion-dollar sponsorship of the Team IntaRacing V8 Supercar team, announced only months earlier.

Asked on Friday about the current state of his businesses, Mr Tzvetkoff said: "We are continuing to work to rebuild during these tough times."

Mr Tzvetkoff was raised in Brisbane's southern suburbs by a school teacher mum and a father who runs weekend markets.

Benefiting from the boom times of his business, he drove a black Lamborghini Gallardo with the number plate BALLER and owned a Ferrari 599, an Audi S6, Range Rover and a Ford GT40. He had a luxurious boat and used chartered private jets.

He is a part-owner of the Zuri Lounge celebrity nightclub in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley.

It is understood the boat and most of the cars have been sold.

A year ago, Mr Tzvetkoff emerged as the mystery buyer of the $27 million half-built mansion on "millionaire's row" at Hedges Ave, Mermaid Beach, which was formerly owned by tourism tycoon Tony Smith.

The property, spread over four waterfront lots, was to be a family home for Mr Tzvetkoff, his fiancee Nicole Crisp and their son Hugo, now aged two. They planned to marry last October and move in late last year. But the wedding was postponed because Mr Tzvetkoff said he was too busy with business commitments.

The Hedges Ave property is still unfinished and they have not moved in yet.

"At the moment we are on hold," Mr Tzvetkoff said yesterday.

Salvatore "Sam" Sciacca is a lawyer with a background in commercial and corporate work, including e-commerce.

He is a cousin of former federal minister for veterans' affairs Con Sciacca, and has kept a much lower profile than Mr Tzvetkoff. (Credit: The Sunday Mail)

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

PARTYPOKER.COM AND PARTYCASINO.COM LAUNCH NEW GLOBAL CAMPAIGN

PARTYPOINTS STORE TO BE IMPROVED AT END OF JUNE

Gibraltar – 9th June 2009 – An exciting new global campaign has been launched for both PartyPoker.com and PartyCasino.com.

Extensive worldwide customer research helped PartyPoker.com and PartyCasino.com develop a new proposition and this is delivered through the new strapline ‘Feel it’. The research identified ‘it’ as the intense rush as the river card is turned or the wild anticipation as the roulette wheel begins to slow. In fact ‘it’ is something different to every player and with its range of new games, promotions and tournaments PartyPoker.com and PartyCasino.com are constantly innovating to deliver the best customer experience in online poker and casino.

The campaign will roll out on TV, online, billboards and in press in territories worldwide. At the heart are thrilling TV commercials for both PartyPoker.com and PartyCasino.com that show players caught up in a whirlwind of excitement. The whirlwind captures the journey of the game for poker and the fun and excitement of casino as players enjoy the games in a virtual world. The campaign also sees the introduction of a redesigned logo.

The television advertisements were filmed on the biggest stage at the famous Shepperton Studios in the UK where so many blockbusters including the Bond movies are shot. All the action was overseen by Hollywood film director Paul WS Anderson - his experience in directing Event Horizon, Resident Evil and Alien versus Predator was key to delivering the action packed footage. A look at the tv ads can be found at http://www.partypoker.com and http://www.partycasino.com

The campaign was created by Leeds based agency Home, in conjunction with PartyGaming’s in-house team.

A PartyGaming spokesman said: “The new campaign has gone global and you will already see the brand changes when you log on to PartyPoker.com and PartyCasino.com. PartyPoker.com has just launched the Million Dollar Hand promotion for June, while PartyCasino.com is the world’s largest online casino and is continuing to expand at a rapid pace. The Gold Mega Jackpot at PartyCasino.com currently stands at just over a record breaking $2,281,000 and is waiting to be hit!”

At the end of June, PartyPoker.com will be improving the PartyPoints store. Customers are advised to hold on to their PartyPoints until then to make the most of the changes that will be introduced. See http://www.partypoker.com for more details.

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Others could follow us, says Virgin Games chief executive - This Is Guernsey - 9th June 2009

Guernsey has become the central hub for all Virgin Games online gaming services.

The company moved to Guernsey last year and took on four people, according to Virgin Games chief executive Simon Burridge (pictured).

‘We started as a marketing operation, which meant we had to outsource all operations except marketing,’ he said.

That has now changed and the company has centralised its casino, poker and bingo services in the island.

Making all the operations in-house had always been the intention when moving to Guernsey, according to Mr Burridge.

He said he was pleased with how the company was operating here.

‘It is a lovely place. It has fantastic infrastructure and we wanted to employ people with financial experience. It is also close to the UK and we are regulated nearby in Alderney.’

He said he could definitely see more online companies moving to the island. (Credit: This Is Guernsey)

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

PartyGaming to launch new service with Five

8th June 2009

Service to launch H2 2009

Confident of securing more B2B deals

LONDON, June 8 - PartyGaming, the world's biggest listed online gaming company, said on Monday it had signed an exclusive deal with British broadcaster Channel 5 to create "Five"-branded bingo and casino gaming services.

The online service, which will be operated by PartyGaming and promoted by Five, will launch in the second half of 2009.

The agreement is the fourth business-to-business deal to be announced by PartyGaming in the current year.

"We are confident of securing more B2B deals in the coming months as we match our eGaming talents and assets with the consumer reach of other companies around the world," said Chief Executive Jim Ryan.

PartyGaming and rival 888 are focusing on business-to-business activities to offset tougher trading in their consumer-facing divisions.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Wynn sued after gamble by NZ pair on the run - Macau Daily Times - 30th May 2009

The New Zealand couple who fled after being wrongly accredited with 10 million New Zealand dollars, around 43 million patacas, by Westpac Bank might have spent part of the money at the gambling tables in Wynn Macau. The Westpac bank is taking legal action against Wynn International Marketing, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wynn Resorts according to New Zealand media reports.

The bank did not explain why Wynn was named in the court papers a New Zealand Herald newspaper report said.

According to South China Morning Post, New Zealand police were reportedly seeking help from the central government in this case. (Credit: Macau Daily Times)

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Stanley Ho calls it a 'joke' - Macau Daily Times - 30th May 2009

Casino tycoon Stanley Ho has dismissed as “a joke” a recent report by US gambling regulator which accused him of having “ties to Asian organised crime”. According to South China Morning Post yesterday, Ho stepped up his criticism of a report by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, released last week which advised MGM Mirage not to enter with businesses with is daughter, Pansy Ho, who was deemed “unsuitable” because her father had links with organised crime in Asia. Ho said last week that he had a lot of money and had no reason to get involved in illegal activities. (Credit: Macau Daily Times)

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Virgin Games Delivers The Ultimate Gaming Experience

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - June 1, 2009)

Today Virgin Games, the online gaming service, announces that it has centralised its offerings and has become an operating company in its own right working from one common platform. This development will provide a streamlined customer experience by offering players the opportunity to play across multiple gaming products using a central sign on solution and a single Virgin Games wallet. The operation of Virgin Games gaming service was formerly outsourced to three different operators; Wagerworks for Casino; Boss Media for Poker and St.Minver for Bingo. The operation on the new Virgin Games platform has now been taken in-house and will be managed centrally from their head office in Guernsey.

With the Virgin customer experience being of core importance, players now only need to register once to become a Virgin Games player and browse seamlessly through all of the games at Virgin Poker, Virgin Casino and Virgin Bingo. Additionally, under the new system, Virgin players will be able to play for bonus promotions and Virgin Games loyalty points, V-Points, across all games offered.

The strategic shift to become a fully fledged gaming operator has taken place at Virgin Games over the last 18 months. The company now operates using two gaming licenses held in Alderney and Malta and runs an in-house customer service call centre as well as owning and co-ordinating player databases and payment processing systems. The 24/7 customer experience solution will bring all consumer touch points together in-house including telephone, email and web-chat communication resulting in greater control, improved efficiency and an all round excellent customer experience.

Simon Burridge, CEO Virgin Games, comments: "In developing and taking ownership of the new customer experience program, we have focused on creating the best possible value and service for our customers. Here at Virgin Games, we live and breathe the Virgin brand values and feel taking the customer service department in-house and integrating all three gaming services allows us to continue to deliver the unique Virgin experience that our customers have come to expect."

"Our players have told us that they would like to see a wider range of games at Virgin Games and we intend to give them exactly what they're looking for. There have been some very exciting new games brought into the market recently and we look forward to introducing them into the Virgin Games product offering" said Burridge.

For more information on Virgin Games please visit www.virgingames.co.uk.

Notes to Editors:

About Virgin Games
Virgin Games launched in June 2004 and has quickly established itself as one of the leading gaming websites in the UK. Virgin Games comprises four distinct offerings:
- Virgin Casino, part of the Wagerworks network, brings consumers classic casino offerings like blackjack and roulette, as well as great feature slots like Monopoly, Cluedo, Dungeons and Dragons Fortress of Fortunes(TM) and the highly popular MegaJackpots progressive games, with a seeding value of Pounds Sterling 1,500,000
- Virgin Poker, part of the Boss Media network, offers a huge array of games and content for beginners through to experienced pros Texas Hold em, Five card Stud Poker and more - as well as the most generous loyalty scheme in the industry
- Virgin Bingo, part of the Virtue Fusion network, offers cash prizes worth thousands of pounds in the progressive jackpots, as well as Virgin prize bingo and a range of unique Virgin Games bingo games.

For more information, please contact
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melissa.robinson@nelsonbostock.com

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James Packer's Macau dream rocks on, by Andrew Carswell - Herald Sun - 2nd June 2009

His fortune may have shrunk by billions of dollars but James Packer has opened the doors to what is arguably his biggest gamble yet.

Amid fanfare and fireworks, the first chips went down at the $2.9 billion City of Dreams - Mr Packer's second joint-venture casino to be built in Macau, the former Portuguese colony bordering southern China.

The increasingly reclusive billionaire stepped back into the spotlight last night to cut the ribbon to the new casino, alongside his chief partner in Melco Crown Entertainment, Lawrence Ho.

Christening one of its centrepieces, the Hard Rock Hotel, Mr Packer and Mr Ho smashed guitars hours before last night's celebrity-studded opening bash.

The City of Dreams stares directly across Macau's glitzy Cotai Strip at the Venetian, the world's biggest casino.

The property - almost 40,000 square metres - features 2000 gaming machines and tables, three hotels, a huge shopping, restaurant and entertainment precinct, and a spectacular multi-media attraction dubbed The Bubble.

"It is a crucial project," Lawrence Ho said.

"What is good for us . . . is good for our competitors and is good for Macau."

Experts believe there is much riding on the performance of the City of Dreams.

While Mr Packer has remained tight-lipped about the forecasts for the City of Dreams, Mr Ho has been brutally honest about the high-stakes game the men are playing in the middle of a global recession.

A poor reception for it may spell "the endgame for us," Mr Ho said last month.

"The investment case (for Melco Crown) basically comes down to how City of Dreams goes, so if you want to call it a sink-or-swim moment, well I guess it is," an analyst told BusinessDaily.

"Across the road you have the Venetian. That does about $500 million a year (in pre-tax earnings). The market is generally expecting City of Dreams to do $300 million. If it does that it's a success."

Since taking his late father Kerry's fortune above $6 billion, Mr Packer's net wealth has plummeted to $3 billion in the past year as shares in his divided kingdom - Crown Ltd and Consolidated Media Holdings - halved.

He is now only ranked the sixth richest Australian.

As well as Mr Packer staking much of his fortune on the venture, City of Dreams will be seen as an all-important test case for the future of Macau's gaming industry.

A 40-minute boat ride from Hong Kong, Macau now takes more gambling dollars than Las Vegas and Atlantic City combined.

But an attempt last year to stem the flow of visitors from mainland China dealt a dud hand to casino operators and put the brakes on the growth of the industry.

Mr Packer and Mr Ho hold a licence to build a third casino in Macau, but they remain publicly uncommitted to plans as yet. (Credit: Herald Sun)

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Packer bets big on Dreams of Macau, by Miriam Steffens - The Sydney Morning Herald - 2nd June 2009

As James Packer's $US2.4 billion ($A3 billion) City of Dreams casino opened with great fanfare in Macau last night, after more than three years under construction, it marked the biggest gamble for the 41-year-old billionaire in his global gambling expansion.

A lot is riding on the success of the 39,000-square-metre casino built on a former swamp in the gaming mecca.

It is designed to be the flagship of Mr Packer's Asian gambling empire which he is building with Lawrence Ho, son of the Hong Kong tycoon Stanley Ho.

At stake are not only about $US500 million Crown has invested in its 36 per cent shareholding in the venture, but Mr Packer's reputation as a businessman, which has been bruised as his wealth more than halved over the past year in the global financial meltdown and after a series of ill-fated US casino investments.

But the opening of the prestige casino, which features a shopping precinct, its own bubble-shaped theatre, and close to two dozen restaurants and bars, comes at a challenging time. Travel demand to Macau has been hurt by the world recession and headwinds from Beijing, which last year imposed new visa restrictions to limit the number of mainland Chinese gambling in the former Portuguese colony.

Macau's gambling revenue and visitor arrivals fell every month except one between January 2008 and April. Melco Crown Entertainment, the Packer-Ho venture, posted a first-quarter loss of $US35.3 million, down from a profit of $US43.2 million a year earlier, as the decline in visitors hurt revenues at its first Macau casino, the Altira, which opened in 2007.

City of Dreams, located opposite Las Vegas Sands' huge Venetian Macao complex, starts out with about 520 table games, 1350 gaming machines and two hotels — Crown Towers and the Hard Rock Hotel — with a combined 600 guest rooms. A third hotel with 800 rooms should be finished later this year.

That compares with 350 gaming tables and about 1000 hotel rooms at Melbourne's Crown Casino, which will be expanded to about 1600 rooms by mid-2010.

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(Credit: The Age)

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Packer confident of his Macau gamble - The Australian - 30th May 2009

On Monday morning, James Packer will wake up in Macau to his moment of truth.

In the 3 1/2 years since the death of his legendary father, Kerry, Packer has transformed the family empire from one focused predominantly on media into the international casinos conglomerate Crown.

Monday's opening of Macau's City of Dreams casino -- one of the Chinese territory's most opulent and expensive -- is a crucial psychological marker on whether that transformation has been successful.

One of Packer's close confidants told The Weekend Australian this week the 42-year-old "always had a real belief in Macau and he's backed his belief". "City of Dreams is the culmination of that," the friend says. "It will be the jewel in the crown, in terms of size, of all of his casinos."

But with size comes risk. Packer has bet hundreds of millions of dollars of his money -- but more importantly his reputation as a major player on the international gaming scene alongside casino legends Stanley Ho, Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson -- on Macau.

Packer and Stanley Ho's son, Lawrence Ho -- his partner in the Melco Crown Entertainment joint venture behind the casino -- unveiled their plans for City of Dreams in the midst of an unseemly rush to develop a new Asian Las Vegas.

But today, such developments face pretty strong headwinds. In particular, gaming revenues in Macau are under pressure as the financial crisis and restrictions on Chinese citizens travelling to the former Portuguese colony bite. Even major players, such as the Las Vegas Sands, have reportedly delayed projects. Packer's fortunes have certainly fallen in line with the global crisis, with BRW magazine this week estimating his worth at $3 billion, down from $6.1 billion this time last year and the $7.3 billion he reportedly inherited from his father.

Still, Crown shares, of which the Packer family owns 36 per cent, have rallied strongly ahead of the City of Dreams opening. The run was spurred in part by Crown's escape from a proposed $US1.75 billion ($2.2 billion) takeover of Cannery Casino Resorts in the US. But one source close to Packer describes him as "quietly confident" about the future of City of Dreams. "I think we benefited from the fact there are a hell of a lot of cranes up there on unfinished projects," he says. "It is the only big new casino opening, and it will be the only one for some time."

The importance of Monday night's spectacular opening ceremony and first few months of trading are not lost on Melco Crown finance chief Simon Dewhurst. "City of Dreams is our flagship development," he says.

"It has consumed over 60 per cent of our investment capital and it represents our first opportunity in Macau to compete for the integrated resort middle ground that represents the future for the market. The opening of CoD marks the culmination of more than six years hard work. We are taking a transformational step from being primarily a development company, to being primarily an operating company."

Crown chief Rowen Craigie agrees the opening of City of Dreams represents "a major milestone". He says: "City of Dreams will be an exciting and attractive property and will benefit from being the only major casino entertainment complex to open in Macau in 2009."

City of Dreams, on Macau's popular Cotai strip, will be Melco Crown's second in the territory, following the opening of the $US760 million Crown Macau (now the Altira Macau) in 2007.

Analysts say City of Dreams is the first casino in Macau to break the $US2billion investment threshold. Its opening will be the culmination of a process that started before Kerry Packer's death when James settled on Macau as the first focal point of his global gaming ambitions.

In November 2004, Packer struck a joint venture agreement with the Hong Kong-listed leisure and entertainment group, Melco Development, run by Lawrence Ho. While there was little concrete announced at the time, it was soon made clear the joint venture company had big plans.

Once his father died in December 2005, Packer moved quickly to transform what was then the media-driven Publishing and Broadcasting Limited into a gaming empire. This transformation was highlighted late in 2006 with the top-of-the-market sale of PBL Media -- owner of the Nine Network and ACP Magazines -- to private equity firm CVC Asia Pacific for more than $5billion, just before the value of the assets started to decline amid both structural and cyclical change.

The PBL empire was left as largely a casino-focused one, and a subsequent split of the group in 2007 saw the casino assets hived off into the new casinos group, Crown.

But the move that signalled Packer's serious intent for gaming in Macau was his joint move with Melco just three months after his father's death to buy Macau's last available casino sub-concession from Wynn, the US casino entrepreneur, for $US900 million. The move cemented Packer and Ho as major players at the table of Macau's casino industry.

Altira Macau and City of Dreams are now held through Melco Crown Entertainment, which is listed on the Nasdaq index in the US and counts Crown as a 36.4 per cent shareholder.

Since 2006, Crown has also made a series of casino purchases independent of the Melco Crown venture in North America. These include stakes in the US-based Fontainebleau Resorts, Canada's Gateway Resorts group, Stations Casino Group and Harrah's Entertainment, underlining Packer's intense focus on gaming assets.

With the fall-off in casino values worldwide since the purchases, critics -- acting with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight -- have questioned the wisdom of his moves in both Macau and North America shortly before the global economic downturn. Even Crown's Rowen Craigie reportedly admitted earlier this year that the group had bought some of its US assets at the top of the market.

Crown's woes in the US were on full display in the company's interim profit result, with the group posting a reported net loss of $409.7 million due to a non-recurring $454.9 million writedown to the value of its minority US casino investments -- namely Fontainebleau, Stations and Harrah's.

But Packer's supporters assert that while there has been a fall in value of the US ventures in particular, he is well up on his Macau investments. After its $US45 million investment in Melco Crown's $US180 million capital raising this month, Crown has now invested a total of $US500 million in the group. That stake is now worth more than $US1 billion. Friends point out that Packer has effectively doubled his money and, in the process, gained a major say in a business that has two casinos fully funded, one of only six casino licences in Macau, and assorted hotels, retail complexes and entertainment venues supporting the casinos.

Melco Crown is not without problems. It booked a March quarter net loss of $US35.3 million, compared to a profit of $US43.2 million for the same period last year, prompting Ho to admit the casino market was not out of the woods yet. One analyst noted that Crown Macau had a "very poor opening" in 2007, with Packer's reputation suffering as a result. City of Dreams, he says, represents "a very critical moment".

Then again, Deutsche Bank last week raised its price target on Melco Crown from $US4.40 to $US6 a share, saying it was "now more confident on the success of City of Dreams after we walked through the property early this month".

City of Dreams certainly sounds impressive. Ho promises the water- and fantasy-themed complex will be a "next-generation resort like no other in Asia, or perhaps the world".

Located directly opposite the biggest casino in Macau -- the Las Vegas Sands Venetian Macau -- it will boast several distinctly branded casino floors, three world-class hotels and a shopping precinct to be known as The Boulevard.

On Monday, Melco Crown opens the first phase of that project, which will include the Crown Towers and Hard Rock hotels, 20 bars and restaurants, The Boulevard, plus a casino with 520 gaming tables (a third of which will be VIP) and 1350 gaming machines. It will be the only major casino to open in Macau this calendar year.

The casino's Bubble Theatre will feature a 10-minute "Dragon's Treasure" multi-media lights show. Theatre of Dreams, a 2000-seat theatre, will feature a Cirque Du Soleil-style water production when it opens in the December half. By December, the third hotel, the Grand Hyatt, will open, giving the complex a total of 1400 rooms. And there is even the future prospect of a further apartment development in the complex, subject to Macau regulatory approval. Melco's Dewhurst says Melco Crown is "very confident". He says: "We have spent a very significant amount of time, energy and resource into understanding what's working and what's not working throughout the market. We think City of Dreams is right."

Success for Melco Crown and City of Dreams will come down to a number of things. But one key measure will be foot traffic. "We expect that we will have something in the order of 35,000 guests a day passing through the property," Dewhurst says. "I have no doubt that we will have in excess of that number on the first day. In the first 100 days what's important for us is that on any of those 100 days we see that volume of traffic into the building."

In the current climate, that could be a challenge. Its performance will hinge on the recovery of the Asian economy -- and in particular how quickly Asian high-rollers return to the territory's casinos after the tough recent times.

Credit Suisse analyst Gabriel Chan said in a note last week that "with concerns about swine flu remaining vital, and signs that the recovery pace of the Chinese economy may have slowed, we see certain execution risks for the opening".

Indeed, visitor numbers to Macau, as recorded by the Statistics and Census Service, were down 3.5 per cent in April from the same period last year and steady over the previous month. Visitors from mainland China were down 13.5 per cent year on year.

Gaming revenues have suffered as a result of weaker visitor arrivals, but the pace of the decline has stabilised in the past few months. And there are hopes, from Ho down, for a swift rebound, partly driven by the buzz from the City of Dreams opening.

Some analysts believe that as Macau's most expensive casino, City of Dreams may be able to take market share from other players.

Janet Brashear, senior gaming analyst with US investment house Sanford C. Bernstein, says she expects City of Dreams to "make a splash, garnering $US1.4 billion in gross gaming revenues in 2010 and a 10 per cent share of the market". She also predicts City of Dreams could cannibalise the market share of some of its competitors in Macau, such as the Venetian Macau and Wynn resort.

For analysts, success will come down to one thing -- City of Dreams achieving an earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of about $US300 million in the first year.

"You look across the road at the Venetian and they're doing about $US120 million EBITDA a quarter -- $US500 million a year," says one analyst. "So you would have thought $US300 million would be achievable for City of Dreams."

If City of Dreams achieves better than that -- say $US500 million a year -- then it will be a strong position against its rivals. There is growing speculation that casino giant MGM may have to sell its Macau interests after US regulators raised concerns about its local joint venture partner, Pansy Ho -- the daughter of Stanley and brother of Lawrence. Las Vegas Sands is also looking to sell some plots.

One close Packer confidant is hedging his bets ahead of Monday's event. He says: "On the assumption that the Macau economy will start to improve, Melco and City of Dreams are going to be in a very good place." (The Australian)

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