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Monday, April 30, 2012

Casino News Media - Media Man News Update - 30th April 2012


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Casino controversy continues...

Affluent Chinese tourists are a significant component for James Packer’s hopes to construct a second Sydney casino at Barangaroo.

Mr Packer has found opposition to his plans for a second harbour-side casino in the form of Tourism Queensland chairman, Don Morris.

Consumer research provided by Tourism Australia supports Mr Morris’ claims that Chinese tourists are not visiting Australia just to gamble and visit casinos.

“Our traditional European, British and US markets have long been seduced by the uniqueness of Australia's easygoing, class-free culture. And the Chinese are the same, with this research ranking 'laid-back and easygoing' as their key motivator for visiting Australia, after safety,” Mr Morris told The Australian.

Mr Packer disagreed and said that without proper infrastructure, accommodation and entertainment “we will not get the tourism growth Australia deserves”.

He has support from Tourism Australia chairman and Crown board member Geoff Dixon.

“The Crown, Burswood and Star complexes are a lot more than casinos; they are integrated resorts that provide some of the best restaurants, convention and meeting facilities in Australia,” Mr Dixon said.

“To get very desirable venues you often need revenues from casinos."

Mr Packer said the rising middle class tourists spread throughout China and Asia “wants luxury hotels, great restaurants, high-end retail and an entertainment experience which usually includes the opportunity to have a gamble”.

Mr Dixon agreed claiming “they [high-end Chinese travellers] want all the things our research says, such as the environment and good food, but also many of them do desire the opportunity to visit casinos”.

Despite his lack of encouragement for a second Sydney casino, Mr Morris supported Mr Packer’s suggestion of a new hotel in Sydney.

“A new major Sydney hotel of the superb standard of Melbourne's Crown Towers would provide a vital and overdue tourism impetus to Sydney and benefit immensely the entire Australian tourism sector.”


The Darling in Sydney wins Best New Hotel Design at Asia-Pacific International Hotel Awards...

Sydney's new 5 star hotel The Darling, designed by Cox Richardson Architects has won the Best New Hotel Construction and Design 2012 at the Asia-Pacific International Hotel Awards in Kuala Lumpur.

The Star commissioned renowned building corporation, Brookfield Multiplex, to interpret and execute the designs by Cox Richardson Architects, to produce a contemporary hotel integrated within the existing complex.

The Darling has been designed as a stand-alone hotel, with its own arrival experience, amenities and alluring personality. It is the first five-star new build hotel in Sydney since the 2000 Olympic Games.

Two-part in its design, The Darling has a distinctive inverted glass tower resting on a sandstone podium and features 171stylish and spacious rooms and suites, an infinity pool and a luxury 16 room spa. The Darling is also home to Sokyo, an exciting new contemporary Japanese restaurant and bar.

Echo Entertainment Group CEO, Larry Mullin said the industry award is recognition of The Darling’s distinctive design and a tribute to the hard work and dedication by a strong team of builders, designers and visionaries.

“We are very proud to receive this prestigious award and I would like to thank everyone involved, including our partners, Brookfield Mulitplex, Cox Richardson and Laurence Lee.

“We set out to create an iconic hotel at The Star that was sympathetic to its surroundings, while breaking the mould in terms of design and construction. The result we think is an innovative and aesthetically beautiful building that appeals to business and leisure travellers looking for something different to chain hotels.”

The International Hotel Awards recognise the most outstanding hotel projects across Asia Pacific which have been singled out for their green credentials, excellent architectural merit and design. Eighteen different countries took part in this year’s competition with judges reporting keen competition across the board.

Located on the edge of Sydney’s harbour and a key feature of The Star’s $870 million redevelopment, The Darling Hotel and Spa features 171 rooms and suites complete with views of the harbour and city skyline. The rooms and suites are designed to feel like a home away from home for both business and leisure travellers.

Built in addition to the existing hotel and apartments, The Darling brings the total rooms and suites at The Star to over 650 across three towers.


Poker Legend “Amarillo Slim” Preston Passes Away...

In saddening news from the state of Texas this morning, 1972 World Series of Poker Championship Event victor, four-time WSOP bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Fame member “Amarillo Slim” Preston has passed away after a lengthy illness. The legend of the poker world was 83 years old.

Last weekend, Preston was entered into hospice care, battling cancer and heart problems. Buoyed by several friends in the poker community, including his old “road gambler” running mate Doyle Brunson, Preston seemed to improve over the past week. The announcement of his passing was provided to poker player Scott Clark, who also stated that full details regarding the passing of a poker legend would come later today from the family.

Born Thomas Austin Preston, Jr., in Arkansas in 1928, the man who would become “Amarillo Slim” was known for his propensity to make outlandish prop bets as well as his tremendous skills on the felt. Joining up with Brunson and another former World Champion-to-be, Brian “Sailor” Roberts, the trio would tour the Southwest as the original Texas “road gamblers,” traveling to poker games to make a living. Although the trio would eventually break up their partnership (after they lost their bankroll in Las Vegas, a story told by Brunson in several arenas), they would continue to remain friends and earn their legends during the early years of the World Series of Poker.

“Amarillo Slim” first earned attention during the 1972 WSOP Main Event, taking down the championship for his first ever bracelet. He was able to parlay that victory into a celebrity status, appearing on talk shows including The Tonight Show and movies to promote the game of poker. He would also continue to excel on the tables, taking three more WSOP bracelets, with his last victory coming in 1990 in a $5000 Pot Limit Omaha tournament.

Preston was also very influential in other poker endeavors. He was responsible for several poker books, including Amarillo Slim’s Play Poker To Win. One of his most popular literary efforts was his autobiography, Amarillo Slim In A World Full Of Fat People, which he detailed his career on the tables and with his prop bets. As recently as 2007, Preston released an e-book co-written with Joe Brent Riley.

“Amarillo Slim” also played host to the Super Bowl of Poker which, at the time, was one of the biggest tournaments around until it cancellation in 1991. That tournament was won by actor/poker player Gabe Kaplan on one occasion and accounted for three of poker legend Stu Ungar’s ten career victories.

Over the span of his tournament poker career, Preston was able to cash in tournaments around the world. On the WSOP stage, “Amarillo Slim” was able to cash eleven times, with his most recent cash coming in 2007 in the Seniors Event, and was still racking up those cashes as late as 2009, when he finished in fourth place in an event on the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza schedule. Overall, the career earnings for Preston may not be impressive ($587,568, according to the Hendon Mob database), but his overall impact on the game of poker might arguably only be rivaled by Chris Moneymaker’s historic 2003 WSOP Championship victory.

Comments regarding Preston’s passing have poured in across social media. Poker pro Bernard Lee simply stated, “RIP Amarillo Slim, one of the first poker superstars,” over his Twitter feed. Brunson himself recounted a story on his personal blog of a robbery the twosome had gone through in the early 1960s, while others paused for a moment in memory of one of poker’s all-time greats.

Poker News Daily would like to pass along our condolences to the Preston family during this saddening time.

UPDATE: The Preston family has released a statement through Nolan Dalla, the Media Director for the WSOP, stating the following:

“We hope everyone will remember our beloved Amarillo Slim for all the positive things he did for poker and to popularize his favorite game – Texas Hold’em.” (Poker News Daily)


The Avengers versus The X-Men...

In the late '60s, the legendary comic artist Neal Adams was lured by the irrepressible Stan Lee to reinterpret the Marvel comic of his choice.

He chose the then least-successful comic, The X-Men, which the company was phasing out. Lee's response, according to Adams: "Why don't you do the last two X-Men and then do an important book like The Avengers?"

"I actually did 10 issues," Adams says. "It was after those 10 issues that everybody and their brother became fans of The X-Men and every new artist wanted to do The X-Men."

In 2012, the "important" comic finally gets its own movie, with The Avengers finally hitting the screen (after a warmup that included two Iron Man movies, two Hulks, Captain America and Thor). The erstwhile expendible X-Men franchise, meanwhile, will flex its muscles again next summer when Hugh Jackman dons his adamantium claws for The Wolverine. And, not to miss a marketing opportunity, Marvel released an Avengers Vs. X-Men comic book series last month.

Herewith, a thumbnail comparison of the two Marvel franchises on film.

THE AVENGERS

Born: September 1963 in Avengers Comics #1.

Original Members: Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp

Related Movies This Century: Seven (The Avengers, Two Iron Mans, Hulk, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America)

Domestic Box Office: $1.26 billion (source: Box Office Mojo)

You Don't Want To Make Him Angry: Hulk

Boy Scout: Captain America

Fanboys Drool Over: Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

Brains Behind The Operation (Onscreen): Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)

Brains Behind The Operation (Real life): Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly)

Oscar Cred: Gwyneth Paltrow (won), Robert Downey Jr. (nominated twice), Mark Ruffalo (nominated), Jeremy Renner (nominated twice), Samuel L. Jackson (nominated)

Evil British Actor: Tom Hiddleston as Loki

Best Cameo By Marvel Founder Stan Lee: Tony Stark mistakes him for Hugh Hefner on a red carpet in Iron Man

THE X-MEN

Born: September 1963 in X-Men Comics #1

Original Members: Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Beast and Iceman

Related Movies This Century: Five (X-Men, X-Men 2: X-Men United, X-Men 3: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class)

Domestic Box Office: $932 million (source: Box Office Mojo)

You Don't Want To Make Him Angry: Wolverine

Boy Scout: Cyclops

Fanboys Drool Over: Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, Rebecca Romijn as Mystique

Brains Behind The Operation (Onscreen): Prof. Xavier (Patrick Stewart)

Brains Behind The Operation (Real life): Bryan Singer (first two movies).

Oscar Cred: Halle Berry (won), Anna Paquin (won), Ian McKellen (nominated twice), Ellen Page (nominated), Hugh Jackman (hosted), Jennifer Lawrence (nominated)

Evil British Actor: Ian McKellen as Magneto

Best Cameo By Marvel Founder Stan Lee: Hot dog vendor in X-Men; old man watering his lawn in The Last Stand.


Avengers does well at Aussie box office...

The hugely anticipated mega-blockbuster The Avengers has wreaked havoc at the Australian box office, breaking $6 million on the film's Anzac Day opening.

It puts the 3-D action flick at No.2 on the list of all-time best Australian box office openings behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which took $7 million on its first day in July last year.

The Joss Whedon-directed superhero mash-up is now on track to fly past The Hunger Games to be the year’s biggest box office smash.

The Avengers, which features Australian Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, is the latest in a long line of superhero films to come out of the Marvel comics stable.

However, its one day figure easily surpasses the combined individual opening days of each of the the studio's movies — Iron Man 2, which took $1.813 million in 2010, last year's Thor ($1.3million) and Captain America: The First Avenger ($0.86million) and 2008's The Incredible Hulk ($0.37million) for a total of $4.357 million.

It also represents the best opening day for Disney Studios, taking the number one position from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe ($3.5 million).

The film's performance is remarkable given that Anzac Day trading restrictions in Queensland and Victoria meant cinemas could not open until after 1.30pm. And WA is contributing a large proportion of the takings, with Innaloo the third top Event Cinemas location in the country behind Sydney’s George Street multiplex.

Event Cinemas WA area manager Stephen Lamb said Gold Class sessions were sold out weeks in advance and the fight for seats was at Boxing Day levels.

WA Hoyts marketing co-ordinator Alex Biddle also reported bumper sales: "Hoyts Cinemas across WA saw their Xtremescreen and IMAX cinemas teeming with enthusiastic cinemagoers" while Ace Cinemas marketing and promotions manager Karen Smith added: "This film has certainly pumped up our box office and engergised the cinema viewers' batteries."

Senior vice president and managing director of The Walt Disney Company John Cracknell said the success of The Avengers was testament to "fabulous storytelling with a blockbuster cast and world-renowned director".

Whedon is best known as the creator of the cult television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel.

He co-wrote and produced the horror film The Cabin in the Woods, which is due for release in Australia in July. (The West Australian)


Heroic effort as The Avengers tops box office...

Marvel's long-awaited and much-hyped all-in superhero pic The Avengers has recorded the second-highest local one-day haul in history, taking just over $6 million on Anzac Day.

With Joss Whedon at the helm and a budget of around $US220 million, expectations for the film are high, and its Australian result is bound to settle a few nerves ahead of the film's US opening on May 2.

For the record, the film with the highest one-day opening in Australia is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which took $7.092 million on July 13, 2011. But The Avengers pipped it in per-screen terms, taking an average of $9668 on each of its 621 screens, versus Harry's average of $9716 across 730 screens.

Of the top 10 opening days, the best per-screen average remains the $12,336 recorded by Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on 424 screens on December 26, 2002. Adjusted for inflation, that is the equivalent of roughly $16,000 per screen today.

It doesn't have the clout or the saturation exposure of The Avengers, but the week's second-placed film made a very solid bow. The Lucky One is Australian director Scott Hicks' adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' (The Notebook) novel, and it proved something of a lucky charm for him, taking $3.59 million with the week’s best per-screen average of $14,027.

The weepy about an Iraq war veteran (Zac Effron) who goes in search of the woman he thinks magically saved his life also opened strongly in the US, recouping its estimated $US25 million budget in a week. It was a strong start for the Shine director's first film since 2009's The Boys Are Back.

At No. 3 was Battleship, sailing on with $3 million in its second week and a total of $8.4 million.

The Hunger Games did $2.16 million in its fifth week, taking its total to $29.12.
Fleshing out the top five is American Pie: Reunion, which took $2.1 million in its third week for a total of $13.42 million.

Australian Box Office (April 19-25)

1. The Avengers (M) - $6,003,882
2. The Lucky One (M) - $3,586,273
3. Battleship (M) - $3,020,666 ($8,420,129 after 2 weeks)
4. The Hunger Games (M) - $2,160,941 ($29,117,930 after 5 weeks)
5. American Pie: Reunion (MA15+) - $2,152,882 ($13,428,159 after 3 weeks)
6. Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (G) - $2,097,817 ($15,110,737 after 4 weeks)
7. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG) - $1,892,057 ($17,228,059 after 5 weeks)
8. Titanic 3D (M) - $1,402,489 ($6,493,694 after 3 weeks)
9. Pirates! Band Of Misfits (G) - $1,241,266 ($5,963,905 after 3 weeks)
10. Mirror Mirror (PG) - $863,978 ($5,939,508 after 4 weeks)
Source: Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (Fairfax Media)


Out of the picture for Melbourne films...

Melbourne's major film studio has called on the Federal Government to ramp up its support for international flicks shot locally.

Major overseas productions have shunned Docklands Studios Melbourne since 2010’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, as the high Aussie dollar has eroded competitiveness.

Studio chief executive Rod Allan has responded by lobbying the government to increase its location offset rebate from 16.5 per cent of what film productions spend in Australia to 30 per cent, to entice more acclaimed directors, actors and producers to our shores.

Mr Allan said he was hopeful of an announcement to this effect in next week’s Federal Budget.

But a spokeswoman for Arts Minister Simon Crean, Angela Dorizas, did not commit to any increased support when contacted by Leader last week.

Ms Dorizas said the government’s backing for the sector, including the 16.5 per cent offset, was at record levels.

She said the upcoming Hugh Jackman blockbuster The Wolverine would be shot in Sydney - thanks to a one-off payment of $12.8 million to bring it to Australia - leading to investment of $80 million and 2000 Australian jobs.

Despite the recent lack of international interest in Melbourne, Mr Allan said Docklands Studios was busy with television productions and a feature film - I, Frankenstein, starring Bill Nighy and Aaron Eckhart - which qualified as local due to a large contingent of Australians on the team.

“This year has been good. At one point every available space was hired, but the business is naturally cyclical,” Mr Allan said.

Established in 2004 and run by the State Government, Docklands Studios hires out five giant soundstages.

Major international productions filmed there include Ghost Rider, starring Nicolas Cage, and the Steven Spielberg-produced US TV series The Pacific.

TV productions now using the space include Winners and Losers and Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation.

The state’s peak film body, Film Victoria, did not respond before deadline.


Olympics security: surface-to-air missiles could be stationed on the rooftop of apartment block...

Surface-to-air missiles could be stationed on the rooftop of an apartment block in east London as part of Britain's air defences for the Olympics, the country's military confirmed on Sunday.

About 700 people living at the building in Bow - about 3.2 kilometres from London's Olympic Stadium - have been contacted and warned that the weapons and about 10 troops are likely to be based at the site for about two months.

In a leaflet sent to residents, the ministry said the venue offered an uncluttered "view of the surrounding areas and the entire sky above the Olympic park".

Troops plan to conduct tests next week at the building, an upmarket gated apartment complex, to determine if the high velocity surface-to-air missiles will be stationed on a water tower attached to the site's roof.

Britain has previously confirmed that up to 13,500 troops are being deployed on land, at sea and in the air to help protect the Olympics alongside police and security guards.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has said Typhoon fighter jets, helicopters, two warships and bomb disposal experts will also be on duty as part of the security operation.

"As announced before Christmas, ground-based air defence systems could be deployed as part of a multilayered air security plan for the Olympics, including fast jets and helicopters, which will protect the skies over London during the games," the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

"Based on military advice we have identified a number of sites and, alongside colleagues from the Metropolitan Police, are talking to local authorities and relevant landowners to help minimise the impact of any temporary deployments."

However, the ministry insisted that "no final decision on whether or not to deploy ground-based air defence systems for the games has been taken".

Resident Brian Whelan said those who lived at the site were wary about the plan.

"From the few people I've spoken to, and the security we have here, they're not happy about it," he said. "I don't think it needs to be here at all."

The leaflet insisted there would be no hazard to those living in the building.

It said the missile system would be "only authorised for active use following specific orders from the highest levels of government in response to a confirmed and extreme security threat". (AP)


Paul Orndorff Slams Bret Hart, Warrior, Ric Flair & More...

"Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff was a guest on Inside The Ropes' 15th episode, where he talked about several topics and slammed a few legendary wrestlers. His interview stars 42 minutes, 20 seconds in.

On facing Ric Flair for the NWA World Title in 1982: "He was just another body. Some are better than others. I believed in making it look real. I was probably hard to work with because I wanted it to make real and I knew how to wrestle."

On working the first Wrestlemania in the main event: "It was special. There were so many people. It was the largest crowd to ever watch it. And then the pay per view of it was just ungodly. This was my opportunity to be really noticed and be seen. My paycheck….it was huge. I made more money in that 30 minutes than I did in a whole year with the NWA. People expected it and they were gonna get it from me."

On working with Mr. T: "I wasn't crazy about it. I was very protective WrestleMania 1of the business. I was taught that. You take care of it. You don't give out all your trade secrets. But then again you look at somebody like Ric Flair and you can say how can you hide something when they look like that? So I guess I started to give in a little bit."

On the transition in WWF from wrestling to entertainment in the 1980s: "It depends on your personality. I protected it. To me that wasn't protecting it. As you can see right now, because they didn't protect it, where it is now, there's only two shows now. Look how many there was, there was one in every state, now look where it is."

On Vince using bigger guys like Warrior: "I thought it was the worst move they could've made. Vince did it on purpose. He did it so he could be the only one."

On Warrior: "He never paid his dues. You gotta pay your dues, go and learn your trade that'll make it better when you are on that big stage. It's called experience and nobody has any now, because there's nowhere to go to get it."

On giving the belt to smaller stars like Savage and Bret: "No. Absolutely not. It's like putting the belt on someone who wants to be a wrestler. It didn't work. It downgraded, made the belt worthless. When Terry Funk, Harley Race had world titles, it meant more."

On the rumor that Hogan wouldn't drop the belt to Bret in 1993: "I don't blame him. I wouldn't have either. Bret Hart was a nobody from Canada and Hogan was the greatest star in wrestling. I don't blame him. He did the right thing."

He also gave some quick fire thoughts on several wrestlers:
-Ultimate Warrior: "I gotta go to the bathroom………………..NEXT!"
-Vince McMahon: "One of a kind."
-Hulk Hogan: "Great."
-Bret Hart: "I don't care much for Canadians."
-Randy Savage: "OK."
-Ric Flair: "A Joke."


WWE News: Big WWE Network updates - no timetable for launch, McMahon addresses current standing & challenges, will PPVs move to Network?, specific shows in the works...

WWE remains unsure when a proposed WWE Network will launch and what form the Network will take.

During the annual shareholders meeting Friday, WWE executives fielded numerous questions related to the Network. Near the end of the Q&A, WWE CEO Vince McMahon was finally asked point-blank when the Network will be launching.

"That's a really good question," McMahon replied. McMahon then repeated WWE's stance that they want to make sure they "do it right" by exploring all of their options with a traditional cable TV model versus a hybrid model incorporating newer media.

Specifically related to when the decision will be made, McMahon said, "An announcement is forthcoming." After a pause, McMahon said, "In other words, I don't have that answer."

McMahon suggested earlier in the meeting that WWE could launch a cable-specific Network right now, but the volatility of the market and "times being different now" makes them more cautious to continue looking into other Network options.

"We're close to closing - if we wish - a linear network. We can do that," McMahon said. "We can also look at other opportunities at the same time that might be better for us, but, then again, it might not be."

One investor offered three proposed alternatives to a traditional cable TV network that included a suggestion for PPV event distribution through GFL.TV, a YouTube model alternative, and an a la carte offering online.

WWE CFO George Barrios replied that their research shows TV viewing behavior is still ahead of online/new-model consumption by a ratio of 5:1 hours. He said consumers may supplement their TV viewing on smart phones and other devices, but they still watch TV at a high rate, which is why they continue to pursue a traditional cable TV network model.

-- Another major aspect of the Network discussion centered on whether PPV events will be offered on the Network, as has been rumored over the past year. McMahon was vague in response, saying, the Network policy "may or may not include PPVs." He added, "It's certainly a factor we're considering."

The topic was also looked at from a different angle when a shareholder asked about offering current PPV events in a season pass form to curtail lower PPV buys for non-WrestleMania events. McMahon said, "That's a possibility," before noting PPVs could be part of the Network package. However, the key for WWE would be knowing when to pull the trigger on changing the PPV model and whether it's feasible to include PPVs on the Network.

-- Some of the key phrasing WWE used was their belief that they can drive the current WWE audience to a Network and that there is strong demand for more WWE content, which would be made available through a Network. "Give audience more of what they want," McMahon said. WWE did not provide supporting evidence for their belief that there is more demand for more content, though.

-- Asked of WWE Classics-on-Demand will go away when the Network launches, McMahon said it most likely will. Earlier in the meeting, WWE management stressed they are creating new shows based on their tape library.

-- Two shows WWE stressed for the Network were a show based on the Monday Night Wars and a WWE Countdown show, which WWE is currently pushing in new DVD releases.

Link: WWE's full shareholders meeting can be viewed at this link from WWE Corporate (Pro Wrestling Torch)


HULK HOGAN Take My Naked Ass Off the Internet!!!...

Hulk Hogan is freaking OUT over screengrabs of his alleged sex tape that have leaked onto the Internet -- and now, the wrestling legend's taking legal action ... sending in his lawyer to clean up the XXX mess.

The black-and-white pics -- which appear to show a naked Hulk doing the nasty with an unidentified female -- surfaced on TheDirty.com last week ... and more pics followed.

But Hulk isn't taking the affront on his knees -- unlike a certain unidentified female -- in fact, his lawyer just fired off a cease and desist letter to TheDirty.com editor Nik Richie, demanding Nik take down the pics forthwith ... or face a lawsuit.

The lawyer writes, "As you know, should a sex tape or photographs of Mr. Bollea exist, they were taken without his consent and therefore the same would constitute a felony in the State of Florida."

We're told Nik and TheDirty.com have no plans to remove the pictures in question. Stay tuned ... (TMZ)


Lakshmi Mittal retains tag as richest man in Britain, tops Sunday Times Rich list...

LONDON: It's not a good year to be in metals,mining or owning football clubs. Lakshmi Mittal, who still retains his tag as the richest man in Britain, topping the annual Sunday Times Rich list, is GBP4.8 billion poorer than he was last year, with his wealth estimated at GBP12.7bn - the main reason, a Eurozone crisis that has eroded the share price of Arcelor Mittal.

Anil Agarwal, Vedanta's promoter, has seen his position dropping from 12th place to 26, thanks, again to dropping share prices that's seen his wealth erode by GBP1.5 bn. Ravi Ruia, who entered the list last year at number 12, has also seen his share price bomb, and in 2012 clocks in at 33, with his wealth almost halved by GBP2.9 bn to GBP 2 bn. The newspaper noted that Essar Global, which was valued around GBP 5.4 bn in 2010 when it floated, is now valued at GBP 1.6 bn.

The only Indians who have seen their position going up are Sri and Gopichand Hinduja, who last hit the headlines for buying a palatial mansion at Carlton Terrace, within a stone's throw of Buckingham Palace in Pall Mall, who are now estimated to be worth GBP8.6bn, up by GBP 2.6 bn from last year. It puts them at the 4th place in the top 1000 rich list.

Anurag Dikshit, the reclusive, Gibralter-based former owner of poker site Partygaming, makes it to the number 3 in the top philanthropy list in 2012, with recent donation of GBP 23.4 million to his charitable trust in India, Kusuma, in addition to the GBp 172 million he gave away last year, reducing his personal wealth to a mere GBP 35 million.

In the top 50, another Indian who's seen he's position rise is Ajay Kalsi, of AIMS-listed Indus Ind Gas, who at number 42 has significantly crawled up the ladder from number 58. The newspaper attributed this to share prices holding up despite the recession.

Of the other top 3, though, Alisher Usmanov, the Russian mining tycoon best known for his recent acquisition of Arsenal football club, has also lost wealth, as has Roman Abramovich, the oil mogul best known for his ownership of Chelsea football club, has also lost money.


SkyCity holds winning hand, say Oz analysts...

SkyCity's controversial expansion plans have not dented its share price - nor the view taken of the business by three Australian-based professional investment experts.

Not only are analysts picking better fortunes for the gaming business, but their latest market research out this month on four ASX- and NZX-listed gaming industry businesses showed they had rethought the longer-term outlook for SkyCity's earnings.

They picked it as the best performer on a profit revision basis, piling on more money than the other three.

Shares are still rising despite the business suffering a backlash against its $350 million offer to build an international convention and exhibition centre in Auckland's Hobson St in return for Government permission to have more gaming machines.

The company, with a market capitalisation of $2.2 billion, is trading at $3.81, below its $4 two-year high but well above the $3.30 of last November.

Deutsche Bank Markets Research's Mark Wilson, Daniel Pi and Anthony Hanna revised up their SkyCity earnings estimate forecasts by 2 per cent, the highest for any of the Australasian stock exchange-listed gaming businesses.

Instead of making $145.4 million net after-tax profit in 2012, $150.7 million in 2013 and $164.9 million in 2014, SkyCity will make $145.8 million, $153.6 million and $168.1 million, they predict.

They advise investors not to sell, issuing a hold recommendation on the stock because they believe it has good potential - although they have not gone as far as issuing a buy, which they have on the giant Melbourne and Perth Crown.

Some of the risks and rewards of buying shares in SkyCity are major capital expenditure projects with the benefits the business has gained from recent main gaming floor refurbishments, they say.

Changes to the regulatory environment, movements in the New Zealand and Australian dollars and changes to the New Zealand economy, particularly household disposable incomes, are also singled out for mention.

Auckland accounted for 60 per cent of the group earnings, they said, exposing the business to booms and busts in one area.

"SkyCity's earnings are sensitive to movements in the Australian dollar given the translation of earnings from the Adelaide and Darwin casinos," said the analysts, who used various financial metrics to give a favourable review of the business, benchmarking it against gambling rivals Aristocrat, Crown and Tatts Group.

Crown owns and operates two of Australia's leading gaming and entertainment venues: Crown Entertainment Complex in Melbourne and the Burswood Entertainment Complex in Perth.

Aristocrat Leisure makes and sells gaming machines and supplies gaming systems, table gaming equipment and other services for casinos, clubs and hotels. Tatts provides leisure and entertainment products and services to the Australasian gambling industry and has investments in overseas businesses.

Nigel Morrison, SkyCity's chief executive, has wanted to expand Auckland because he says international gamblers, particularly from Asia, do a circuit of major Australasian casinos. (New Zealand Herald)


Bwin.party Commits to Teradata to Drive Single Customer and Operational View...

Online gaming and sports betting leader will use advanced data warehouse system to integrate its customer base, strengthen analytics and improve BI performance...

LONDON, April 24, 2012 -- Teradata (NYSE: TDC), the analytic data solutions company, has agreed to a deal with Bwin.party Digital Entertainment Plc, the world's largest listed online gaming company, to supply a new, high-performance enterprise data warehouse solution.

Based in Gibraltar and listed on the London Stock Exchange, Bwin.party is one of the largest online gaming operators. It was created in March 2011 through a merger Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG and PartyGaming Plc.

The agreement will see the Teradata Database and a Teradata integrated data warehouse platform implemented across Bwin.party's gaming and sports customer bases to create a single customer view across all gaming verticals. In turn, this will enable Bwin.party to segment its customer base and target marketing campaigns more effectively based on previous customer activity.

In addition to facilitating essential financial reporting across the joint organisation, the new integrated Teradata solution is expected to strengthen the data analytics used for essential campaign planning, reduce operating costs and contribute to an easier-to-use and maintain business intelligence environment.

"Data analytics are essential to our organisation," said Bwin.party's Group Technology Director Tod Martin. "We believe that the new Teradata solution will be extremely effective in consolidating data generated by our joint organisation, whilst providing the platform for better reporting analytics and insight."

Current planned developments include the provision of a more widely-available self-service Business Intelligence model across the wider organisation.

"We are delighted that Bwin.party has chosen the latest Teradata integrated data warehouse platform," added Teradata Corporation Area Vice President, UK, Chris Armitage. "The technology is well-placed to help drive business performance and consolidate key performance indicators across the organisation."

About Teradata Teradata Corporation (NYSE: TDC) is the world's leading analytic data solutions company, focused on integrated data warehousing, big data analytics, and business applications. Teradata's innovative products and services deliver data integration and business insight to empower organizations to make the best decisions possible and achieve competitive advantage. Visit teradata.com for details.

About Bwin.party Bwin.party digital entertainment plc (LSE: BPTY) is the world's largest listed online gaming company. The Company was formed from the merger of bwin Interactive Entertainment AG and PartyGaming Plc on 31 March 2011. Incorporated, licensed and regulated in Gibraltar, the Group also has online poker licences in France and Italy. With offices in Europe, India, Israel and the US the Group generated total pro forma revenue of euro 816.0m and pro forma Clean EBITDA of euro 199.3m in 2011. Bwin.party operates one of the world's largest online poker networks, www.PartyPoker.com and also owns the World Poker Tour. The Group's scale, proprietary poker software, online gaming platform and strong portfolio of games collectively differentiates its customer offer from those of its competitors. Bwin.party is a constituent member of the FTSE4Good Index Series, which identifies companies that meet globally recognised corporate responsibility standards.


bwin.party will go social in 2012...

bwin.party digital entertainment plans to launch into the social gaming sector this year.

Commenting on the company’s financial results for the full year 2011, co-CEOs Jim Ryan and Norbert Teufelberger said: “As integration projects are completed, we are channelling more resources into driving innovation across the business and through new channels including our proprietary mobile gaming platform. We are also extending our reach into new areas of digital entertainment such as social gaming, where we see significant potential.”

bwin.party reported a 0.2 per cent increase in total revenues to €816m for the year ended December 31, 2011, and it remains “on track to deliver approximately €40m of synergies this year and €65m in 2013." The growth in casino and games, as well as slight improvement in sports betting revenues, made up for a decline in its poker and bingo offering.

Looking ahead, Ryan and Teufelberger said they expect to gain competitive advantage this year from additional scale and improved flexibility, which will flow from the integration and migration of the company’s main products to a single technology platform. The company will also add more casino games and continue to improve its poker and bingo offerings.

They continued: “We have secured strong business partners in the US ahead of any regulation there and have also applied for a licence in Spain, which is expected to regulate in the second quarter of this year. In Germany, we have applied for a gaming licence in Schleswig-Holstein, the only EU-compliant licensing regime available.” (Intergame)

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gambling with online casinos coming to Facebook social media; Bwin.Party, Virgin Games and PKR top brass speak

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The talk is that gambling and social media ala Facebook and the like are to come together in a big way.

It started with free poker and bingo games, with the odd free slots, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

What will it all mean for players, big gaming companies, land based casinos, law makers and all the usual suspects? Time will tell but in the meantime the Media Man agency continues it's probe of the always exciting and volatile gaming, igaming and internet industry.

Jim Ryan, co-chief executive of Bwin.party Digital Entertainment, said of the online gambling companies, “As an industry we have missed the ball. Bingo is easy. That is the one and only social game that our industry has gotten right.” He noted that social game companies such as Zynga have amassed huge audiences in the meantime.

“Social gaming is obviously the coming thing and in some sense it has already arrived,” said Simon Burridge, chief executive of Virgin Games, speaking on a panel. “Social gaming meets (real gambling) is the high ground of the future.”

Malcolm Graham, chief executive of online gambling firm PKR, agreed. He said, “We have all missed the opportunity to build tournament-style gambling games (for no real-money betting) on Facebook. But in the next 12 months to 18 months, our gambling industry will move onto Facebook.”

The gambling industry has and realized that soon the social gambling craze is happening without most of them. The smart players have already started making moves into the space, such as IGT's purchase of Double Down Interactive and Caesar's purchase of Playtika. Companies that are further behind are now struggling to catch up. With rumors swirling that Facebook is preparing to roll out gambling in the UK, it seems like only a matter of time before social gambling is a reality.

Massive companies with huge marketing and budgets are coming to into town. The good news is that these are large, slow-moving companies with little knowledge of modern social game mechanics, though the similarities between social games and casino games could shorten the learning curve. The bad news is that the average gambling player is worth about $300 per month, so these guys are packing big guns when it comes to user acquisition and retention. Competing with that kind of a budget is going to be downright hard. And after multiple swooning love letters back and forth, it seems inevitable that Zynga and Wynn will team up to offer real-money gambling in legal jurisdictions. This means social game developers can't count on their industry know-how to protect them, even in the short term.

So what can social game companies do? Operating exclusively in the US will keep you safe for the time being. But, now that The Wire Act has been modified, multiple states are throwing their hats into the ring to offer legalized online gambling, including big markets like Florida, California, New Jersey.

According to the VentureBeat article, Jim Ryan expects that online gambling will be largely legal in the US by 2014. That means that hiding in the US is not a good business plan.

Instead, social game companies should do what they have always done best: adapt. There's a number of avenues this could take:

1. Mobile

Frankly, mobile is likely to befuddle many gambling operators for some time, but the smart gambling companies are already making big moves into the space. It's interesting that most smaller social game companies have already turned their attention away from Facebook.

2. Younger audiences

Social game companies could target their games for a younger audience, which gambling companies are legally obligated to avoid. This doesn't have to mean anything cloak and dagger - just that you make more kid-oriented games or go into a specific, younger vertical like educational games. However, children under 18 only make up 5% of money spent on social games, which is rather limiting.

3. Offer real-money gaming

Social game companies can compete with gambling companies on their own turf: by offering real-money gaming in their social games. In this strategy, social game companies have the advantage. They understand their players and what drives them to purchase or play better than anyone, and they can leverage this knowledge to onboard them into lucrative real-money gaming. However, most social game companies haven't done this already because gambling licenses are tremendously difficult and expensive to acquire.

It's all leading up to a perfect storm but rest assured that social media and gambling are coming together, and you can bet that Media Man is going to be in the thick of the action.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Report into The Star casino complex to be delayed

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A final report into Sydney's The Star casino will be delivered two weeks later than initially planned.

The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority originally asked Gail Furness SC to deliver her findings on April 30 but has agreed to her request for the deadline to be extended until May 18.

"The extension follows advice provided to the authority by Ms Furness that the additional time is required to enable her to complete her work," the authority said in a statement on Thursday.

It said some matters needed "further investigation" following public hearings in April, where former staff accused The Star's sacked managing director Sid Vaikunta of using cocaine at work and fostering a culture of sexual harassment.

After those hearings, the ABC on April 16 aired further allegations from another employee, Thomas Lin, who said the casino pleased international high rollers by ignoring gambling compliance laws.

The authority says the report deadline has been extended to ensure all parties to the inquiry receive procedural fairness.

However, it promises to have submissions given to the inquiry, following the public hearings in April, published on its website by early May.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Casino News Media: Media Man Network accepting approved advertisers and campaigns


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The Media Man Network is currently accepting approved advertisers and campaigns - both online and traditional campaigns.

Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company.

They were established in 2001 and are a multi-time award winner.

Ranked in the Hitwise Australia top ten (entertainment - personalities category), Google 'Best Of The Web', and AllExperts (TV and Radio).

Campaign portfolio includes WWE, UFC, Messages On Hold, Human Statue Bodyart, PartyCasino, Virgin Games, Marvel Entertainment, Aston Martin, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, PlatinumHD, Ric Drasin, Eva Rinaldi Photography, Music News Australia, Richard Bradley Productions, Gizzi's Cafe, Frank Sinatra Enterprises, Palazzo Versace, IGT and Endemol.

The Media Man website network currently attracts approximately 5 million hits per month.

Media Man is regularly quoted in mainstream media including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Daily Telegraph, B&T, The New York Times blog, Gambling911, Street Corner and News Limited blog websites.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Facebook drives growth of social gaming developers

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The networking giant has put a British firm on route to Nasdaq...

London Riccardo Zacconi will always remember Christmas Eve 2003 — it was when his company almost went bust.

Instead of jetting off to spend time with his family, Zacconi and his then business partner, Toby Rowland, son of the late Tiny Rowland, were hunched over the office fax machine waiting for a letter of fin-ancial support that would keep their online gaming operation afloat.

At the last minute, the vital document arrived, with the promise of backing from an old colleague. Nearly nine years later, that vote of confidence looks likely to prove a shrewd investment.

The company, King.com, has evolved into Britain's leading player in the fast-growing social gaming market, taking on the likes of Zynga, creator of Farmville, and other American rivals such as Electronic Arts. King.com could even emulate Zynga and pursue a lucrative listing on Nasdaq.

Social gaming is booming. It is estimated that the amount spent on such games will hit more than $8 billion (Dh29.4 billion) globally this year, and nearly $15 billion by 2015.

Many of the most popular games are played by Facebook users. Apple's App Store has become a centre for developers of smart phone applications. Similarly, the social network's huge worldwide membership makes it the prime destination for games creators.

It is this that has helped propel King.com to the front ranks of the industry. When Zacconi, a 44-year-old dotcom veteran, and Rowland started the company in 2003, it foc-used on internet versions of board games, word games and quizzes on its own website.

Funding hiccup

After the initial funding hiccup, it went well, turning a profit every year since 2005. By the summer of 2009, however, Zacconi realised the market was evolving. "People were moving away from large portals to play games on Facebook," he said. "Initially, the quality was low, but you could play with your friends."

King.com needed a new strategy to compete. The solution was to set up a team to develop products for Facebook in parallel with the existing website. The company calculated that many of the King.com games could be adapted for Facebook. The first to make the move was Bubble Saga, which quickly took off.

It was soon followed by a Facebook version of mah jong.

King.com went from about 300 million games played a month to more than 2.5 billion after joining Facebook. Bubble Witch Saga, launched last September, helped make it the fourth-biggest gaming company on the site. Zynga is comfortably on top, followed by Electronic Arts and Wooga.

On Zynga's trail

Zacconi has Zynga, which clocks up more than 50 million daily users, in his sights. "We are going after them," he said.

King.com has quite a way to go — it attracts less than 20 per cent of the players Zynga has — but it is growing fast. The most recent accounts for the London company show turnover of €35 million (Dh169.59 million) and pre-tax profits of nearly €1 million — down from €4 million in 2009 because of the investment required to expand into social games.

Zacconi is coy about discussing the group's latest figures, but they are up substantially. He expects revenues to top €100 million this year, thanks to income from advertising and from players buying extra lives to help complete the games.

The stock market is likely to come calling, not least to provide an exit for two venture capital firms, Apax Partners and Index Ventures, that invested in 2005 — an age ago in tech terms.

The business has already made Rowland, who left in 2006, and Zacconi wealthy — they were able to take money off the table when the venture capitalists bought in. The deal valued King.com at €75 million.

Zacconi would like to follow Zynga onto Nasdaq. The American firm was valued at $7 billion when it listed in December. "It's something we are thinking about. We have an option next year to go public," he said.

A sale is another possibility, particularly as social gaming companies are changing hands for big bucks. In 2009, Electronic Arts, famous for sports games such as Fifa 12, picked up Playfish for $300 million. In January, Double Down Interactive, which has a casino game, sold for about $500 million.

There could be increasing convergence between social gaming developers and their online gambling cousins. Bwin Party Digital Entertainment, which runs poker, sports betting, roulette and bingo, is examining the market and has helped set up an investment fund dedicated to social games.

"It's an area that is of great interest to gambling companies," one City leisure analyst said.

There is even talk that Zynga, or one of its ilk, could expand by buying an online gambling group. Either way, future Christmases promise to be rather less stressful in the Zacconi household.


PartyPoker And PartyCasino Owner bwin.party Digital Entertainment Plans Return to US Market...

Online gambling firm bwin.party are set to return to the US poker market after almost six years away following their application for a gaming licence with the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

The Gibraltar-based company – which owns online poker room PartyPoker – have submitted their application to add their name to an ever-growing list of firms showing massive interest in taking advantage of the expected legalisation of online poker in the USA.

Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment plc was formed in March last year following the merger of Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG and PartyGaming plc to create the world’s largest publicly traded online gambling company that is now listed on the London Stock Exchange.

PartyGaming Left US Market in 2006

This merger came almost five years after PartyGaming took the decision to suspend all real-money games in the USA, before then exiting the market three days after the US government’s passing of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) back on September 29, 2006.

In April of 2009, PartyGaming decided to reach a settlement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in which they agreed to pay a $105 million penalty over four years as part of a non-prosecution agreement for providing online gambling to American customers before the UIGEA was passed.

As an element of the agreement, PartyGaming put its name to a “statement of facts” in which it admitted that, before October of 2006, they had aimed to attract American citizens that resulted in the processing of transactions “contrary to certain US laws”.

This deal ensured that PartyGaming were not prosecuted and also made sure that they could return to the US market if – and when – new laws are put in place to regulate all internet gambling in the North American nation.

Partnership Provided Opportunity to Return

Bwin’s merger with PartyGaming last year also paved the way for the new company to partner with Nevada-based gaming firms Boyd Gaming and MGM Resorts International late last year in what was considered an “anticipatory” move ahead of the hoped-for legalisation of online gambling in the States.

The venture has resulted in bwin.party owning 65% of the company as they provide and maintain the software for both gaming businesses, while MGM – which also runs hotels – holds 25% and Boyd Gaming just 10%.

Boyd Gaming and MGM have previously applied for licences with the Nevada Gaming Control Board to operate as online poker providers.

PartyPoker Still World’s Second Biggest Poker Room

PartyPoker had been the world’s biggest internet poker brand – if based on their number of players and cash game revenue – before pulling out of the US market, although it still holds the position as the second biggest behind PokerStars.

While Jim Ryan, bwin.party’s chief operating officer, recently told media that the joint venture is unlikely to see them regain the 50% share PartyPoker enjoyed before the introduction of the UIGEA, he does expect to see a “very meaningful liquidity pool” in what will be a highly competitive market.

Stay tuned as well follow up the story.

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Sir Richard Branson backs Facebook rival Path; Olympic gold not on the cards for Virgin

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SEATTLE - Sir Richard Branson has invested in Path, the "private social network" hoping to take on Facebook.

Path, a 'mobile-centric social network', which limits its members to 150 friends, was created by former Facebook employee Dave Morin in 2010.

Original backers included Hollywood actor and serial technology investor, Ashton Kutcher. However, during the site's latest round of funding, in which the company managed to raise more than US$30 million (S$37.5 million), Sir Richard has added his name to Path's investor list.

Last month Path came under fire after it emerged that the site was automatically uploading users' mobile phone address books and storing the information on its servers, without gaining consent from its members.

Consequently Mr Morin was forced to apologise and change the service's mobile settings. Path members are now asked first if they wish to opt in to share the content of their mobile address book.

An Apple spokesman said at the time: "Apps that collect or transmit a user's contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines."

The Daily Telegraph lists other new Path investors as Mr Yuri Milner, the Russian investor with stakes in Facebook, social games company Zynga and Twitter, and chief executive of Zynga Mark Pincus.

The news comes only a week after Facebook acquired Instagram, a popular photo-sharing app which has yet to generate revenues from it 40 million users, for US$1 billion.

Path, which has two million users, also has yet to fully roll out a commercial model.

Such large investments and buy-outs of companies without strong revenue models have prompted much conversation about a new technology bubble forming.


Virgin Casino New Football Online Slot...

Football will take center stage this summer in Europe. The UEFA Champions League has reached the semi finals stage and the Euro Cup will kick off in June. There will be plenty of football themed slot games at online casinos. Alderney Virgin Casino has set the ball rolling with the Ash Gaming title Sensible Soccer Euro Cup Slot. With the title it covers the Euro Cup, but the bonus game simulates the Champions League.

The setting in the Sensible Soccer Euro Cup Slot at Virgin Casino is what one has come to expect in any game of this genre. The background to the reels depicts a stadium. The thematic symbols include stadium, trophy, whistle, football, player and goalie. The uniqueness lies in that they are designed from Lego like bricks. The high value card symbols are like jersey numbers.

When the free spins round is triggered the player can choose one of the three modifiers. The Banker awards 15 free spins. The Fanatic awards 10 free spins. The Wobbler awards 20 free spins. Each modifier uses a different reel set and the one that offers more free spins will offer lower average payouts. During the free spins if the selected wild symbol appears anywhere on the reels then several symbols will be turned to wilds for that spin.

The Euro Cup bonus round can be triggered by three bonus symbols or the player can buy the bonus by paying 30 times the current total stake value selected. Buying the bonus gives the player a slightly higher chance of winning the progressive jackpot. The bonus game is a simulation of the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League. Players can play the bonus normally with highlights of goals and near misses or just see the scores of the games. The former method displays some stunning visuals of a simulated football game. The player selects his team from the 16 displayed and the further that team gets in the simulated cup competition then the more money he will win. Better teams are more likely to progress through the tournament but will pay out less as in any real betting scenario. If the chosen team wins a knock out round it will go through to the next. If the team loses then the player wins the bonus amount accumulated till then. Each knock out round is played over two legs just as in the actual league. For a Virgin Casino player to win the progressive jackpot his chosen team must score ten or more goals in one round, adding together the scores for the home and away leg.


Sir Richard Branson says FA Cup final kick off time should change to ease Liverpool FC travel chaos...

Virgin boss Richard Branson has asked the Football Association (FA) to rethink the timing of next month's FA Cup final, in the light of travel problems faced by Liverpool fans.

Major maintenance work means rail travel, of which Virgin is the main provider, is likely to be severely disrupted over the May public holiday weekend.

That means supporters traveling from the north-west to Wembley for a 5:15pm kick-off against Chelsea on May 5, and hoping to return on the same day, will be affected.

"We have a strong relationship with Liverpool Football club and twice recently have worked with them and Network Rail to bring many fans to Wembley," said Branson in a letter emailed to the Liverpool Echo.

"On this occasion we would ask the FA to look again at the timing of the game."

The FA did not respond to Branson's call for a rethink on the kick-off time but stressed they felt there would be enough coaches to ferry fans back and forth.

"In light of the disrupted rail service to London, The FA can confirm that National Express, a partner of Wembley Stadium, will provide dedicated services between Liverpool and Wembley for the FA Cup Final," said an FA spokesman.

"We went on record last year to state that the 2011-12 FA Cup final would have a later kick-off time while May 5 was announced almost 12 months ago to allow the Premier League to conclude in plenty of time for England to prepare for this summer's European Championships."

But with all but three of Virgin's Liverpool to London trains having been cancelled that day and the last return service leaving just after 8:00pm, some fans still face being stranded in the capital.

The matter was even discussed in Parliament on Thursday, with Transport Secretary Justine Greening telling the House of Commons, "The underlying problem that we are trying to solve is that the FA Cup starts later than it was originally planned to start."

Six lawmakers have signed an early day motion, calling on "all involved to take the action necessary to ensure disruption is minimised as much as possible."


Virgin Casino offering blackjack bonus...

LONDON, England -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- Virgin Casino, part of the online gaming company - Virgin Games, is now offering a fantastic 50% welcome bonus to new Blackjack players.

To qualify for the promotion players must sign up to Virgin Casino using the code 'BLACKJACK50' and deposit a minimum of GBP10. Virgin Casino will then give players 50% of their first deposit up to GBP50.

Ollie Wilson, Casino Acquisition Manager at Virgin Games, commented: "Blackjack players often get a rough deal in terms of sign up bonuses, but not at Virgin Casino. Our blackjack welcome bonus of up to GBP50 is seriously generous and gives players even more reason to sign up."

Virgin Casino has a range of 10 different blackjack games including no frills versions and modern variations such as 'Blackjack with Hot Streak Bonus' and 'Power Blackjack'. The games do not require a download so players can be in the thick of the action in a matter of moments.

Founded in 2004, Virgin Games has over 1,000,000 players and over 250 games on its site. Through the introduction of a custom built Virgin Games platform in 2008, Virgin Games seeks to provide its players with the widest possible choice of casino games. A growing selection of games can be found at Virgin Games from a number of producers including Microgaming, IGT, Cryptologic, Freemantle, Ash Gaming and Mazooma Interactive Games.

Olympic gold not on the cards for Virgin...

RICHARD Branson's Virgin Atlantic is not counting on the London Olympics delivering it a ''bonanza'' in demand for flights on the Australia-UK route as the games are likely to keep the British at home.

After passenger growth of 10 per cent on the route last year, the British airline expects a more moderate rise of 6 per cent in 2012 due to recession in European economies and competitive pressures.

Airlines including Qantas have struggled to stem losses on routes to Europe because of intense competition from Middle Eastern and Chinese airlines and high fuel prices.

Virgin Atlantic's chief commercial officer Julie Southern said the impact of the London Olympics on travel demand in late July and August would be ''net neutral''. While it would encourage an influx of tourists to the UK, she said the sporting event would lead to a reduction in the number of British travelling abroad. ''It is not a curse but is is not a bonanza either,'' she said. The airline is yet to see a trend emerge for Australians' interest in travelling to the Olympics.

Big events such as the Olympics tend to be a mixed blessing for airlines as they create operational headaches due to a surge in demand for travel in one direction. The soccer World Cup in South Africa two years ago failed to deliver Qantas the spike in passenger numbers it was expecting on flights between South Africa and Australia.

To ease its exposure to recession-hit Europe, Qantas will this month reduce flights on the route to London from five a day to three. The flights it drops from Hong Kong and Bangkok to London will be filled by Qantas' joint-venture partner, British Airways.

''It is tougher flying internationally, which is what we are seeing with BA and Qantas,'' Ms Southern said. While Australians flock overseas in record numbers - egged on by the high Australian dollar and cheap fares - she said it was ''more of a challenge'' to encourage the British to fly here because the weakness of the pound made Australia a more expensive destination.

Ms Southern said she was hopeful a code-share arrangement with Virgin Australia on flights between Australia and Hong Kong would boost demand.

The code-share deal does not include flights from Hong Kong to London because Virgin Australia has a strategic alliance with Etihad between Australia and Britain via Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Virgin Atlantic flies daily between Sydney and London via Hong Kong. Sir Richard's Virgin Group has a 51 per cent stake in Virgin Atlantic. (Credit: Fairfax Media)


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Casino News Media: Media Man Gets New Slot Games


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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Identity of The Star's casino whale gamblers suppressed - 21st April 2012

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The identities of the Star casino's biggest international high-roller whales and their gambling histories have been suppressed by the Supreme Court after the casino's owner, Echo Entertainment, won an interim order prohibiting their publication.

The court also suppressed publication of reports by casino staff and government inspectors about alleged incidents at the Star.

The details were broadcast on Monday by the ABC's 7.30 program, which named the two biggest high-rollers and the amounts they have gambled, based on leaked information.

On Thursday, Echo Entertainment won a temporary injunction, forcing removal from the ABC website of details of the high-rollers and information contained in the reports.

It is understood a letter of demand from Echo sought surrender all the documents by the ABC and a guarantee it would not use them in future stories.

The interim court order has forced the ABC to censor the transcript of its program online and edit out reference to the high-rollers and the reports from its archived story until a full hearing on Tuesday.

The hearing is expected to decide if the incident reports and reports by government inspectors should be returned to the casino. The documents also have been subpoenaed by the inquiry into the Star being conducted by Gail Furness, SC, for the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.

The inquiry was launched after the sacking of the Star's managing director, Sid Vaikunta, in February for sexually harassing two women managers.

The inquiry has also heard allegations that bad behaviour by high-rollers is tolerated at the Star because of how much they gamble. The inquiry is due to report by April 30.

The 7.30 program aired claims by a former government casino inspector, Thomas Lin, who left the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority in 2008, that the authority had not acted on incident reports prepared by inspectors.

The authority said its records show it has acted on all recommendation since July 2010.

A spokesman for Echo Entertainment said, "Echo believes it is important to take steps to protect its confidential customer information."

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Friday, April 20, 2012

PartyCasino Wins Media Man 'Online Casino Of The Month' Award

PartyCasino.com has been awarded the Media Man and Casino News Media "Online Casino Of The Month" award.


PartyGaming's igaming suite has grown a custom to winning awards since they first opened for business in 1997.

The competition for the coveted award was intense again this month with massive bids from both Virgin Casino, PKR Casino and Captain Cooks Casino however there can only be one winner... ladies and gentlemen, that's PartyCasino.com

The award follows PartyPoker's EGR Poker Operator Of The Year and PartyGaming also made the shortlist for EGR Operator Of The Year. Recently PartyGaming's PartyPoker.com also won the Casino News Media "Online Poker Website Of The Month".

The Media Man - Casino News Media accolade is based on a combination of elements including user experience, innovation, trustworthiness, customer service, gameplay, affiliate program offerings, newsworthiness and company values.

PartyCasino.com is one of a number of Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment brands.

The most popular PartyCasino.com games of late include Heist, Circus, Rambo, Palladium Slot, The Godfather, Sinatra, Slotbox, Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Mission: Impossible, The Terminator, Cleopatra, Sinatra, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, The Amazing Spider-Man, Monopoly, Resident Evil, Melon Madness, Wheel Of Fortune and Mega Fortune Wheel.

The PartyCasino.com jackpot is currently approaching the $2 million mark. Players can also compete for The Big One and Marvel Hero Jackpot, playing the Marvel super hero themed online slot games.

PartyCasino's most recent game releases include Shaaark! SuperBet, Crocodopolis, Alice's Wonderland, Glamour Puss, Super Cubes, Heist, Palladium Slot and Circus Slot.

Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Co-CEO Jim Ryan has gone on record advising PartyCasinowill soon feature more Hollywood blockbuster themed slots. A few in the know journalists and media agents have been recently tipped off that an all time classic movie adaption will be showcased in the PartyCasino portfolio within 1 month. PartyCasino has the world's most impressive line up of Hollywood themed games, and more are just around the corner.

PartyCasino.com and PartyPoker.com customers can also benefit from rewards and bonuses via PartyPoints and the Palladium Lounge. Be certain to check out the PartyCasino exclusive "Cash Machine" that is being championed as one of the greatest online casino promos ever.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

IGT Sex and The City - Human Statue Bodyart

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Today was a important day on the Australian gaming industry calendar. It's the third and final day of the 2011 Australasian Gaming Expo, held at Darling Harbour in 'Sin City' Sydney, Australia. The event comes at a time where the spotlight on the Australian gambling industry may have never been brighter or so politically red hot. My company, Human Statue Bodyart, was delighted to be in the thick of the action. Enter the events world of the Gaming Technologies Association...

Australasian Gaming Expo Open Day In Sydney...

Over 150 gaming - gambling exhibitors enjoyed day three at the Australasian Gaming Expo Open at Sydney's Darling Harbour. Dozens of big name brands were there including IGT (and its new 'Sex And The City' slot game), Aristocrat Technologies Australia, Ainsworth, Konami, WMS, ShuffleMaster and Bally.

Most of the exhibitors were making a return appearance from last year. It appeared they're were more exhibitors than "punters".

It's a huge production, with over 15,000 square meters decked out in gambling gear.

While big name companies like IGT somewhat dominated the event, it was impossible not to also recognise some of the smaller operations, as well as a few of IGT's competitors of sorts, thanks to their considerable branding and marketing efforts.

Here's the list of all of entities I was blessed to be able to speak with and photograph:

IGT
Aristocrat Technologies Australia
Ainsworth
Bally
Maxgaming
Keno
Paynter Dixon Hospitality
Tenrod Australia
Rohrig
Choice Paper & Imaging
Allpride Signs & Marketing
Paltronics Australasia
Maximun Light

As you can see from our photographs showcased on our Flickr, a great time was had by all, and the event was largely a success for all involved.

For the record, some of my personal favorite games are 'Sex And The City', 'The Phantom', 'Queen Of The Nile', 'Aussie Gold', 'Rose Tattoo', 'Jaws', 'Wheel Of Fortune' and Keno.

It's going to be interesting to see what poker machine manufacture is the one that will step up to battle with the red hot IGT slot - 'Sex And The City'. Will it be Australia's own Aristocrat or an international entrant.

Good on the organisers for also having coffee and bites on hand. 4.5 stars out of 5 for an excellent event, and we'll look forward to being on hand next year for more of the fun and games that is the Australasian Gaming Expo.

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$1 Million WSOP Event up to 30 Entrants; Scott Seiver Wins PartyPoker Premier League V

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$1 Million WSOP Event up to 30 Entrants...

Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté, along with the World Series of Poker (WSOP), announced Thursday that this summer’s $1,000,000 buy-in WSOP event has added eight more entrants, increasing the field to a stout 30 players. The tournament, called the Big One for ONE DROP, is now on pace to feature the largest first prize in poker history.

In December, it was announced that 22 players had been confirmed for the event, just shy of half the 48-player maximum. Joining such poker luminaries as Daniel Negreanu, Johnny Chan, Bobby Baldwin, Tom Dwan, Patrik Antonius are:

Bob Bright – CEO, Bright Trading
Cary Katz – CEO, College Loan Corporation
Arnaud Mimran – French businessman
Paul Newey – Co-founder, New Wave Ventures, LLP. (UK)
Paul Phua – Asian businessman
Erik Seidel – Poker pro
Justin Smith – Poker pro
Richard Yong – Asian businessman

With $111,111 of the $1,000,000 dollar buy-in going to ONE DROP, the 30-player field brings the total prize pool to $26,666,670. According to a payout structure table provided by the WSOP, the winner of the tournament at its current size will earn $12,266,668.20, or 46 percent of the prize pool. That would break the record for the largest prize ever awarded in a poker tournament, live or online. The current record is $12,000,000, won by Jamie Gold in the 2006 WSOP Main Event.

ONE DROP is a charitable organization which seeks to provide access to clean, drinkable water to people around the world. In a press release, Laliberté, who himself is participating in the tournament, said, “It is an exciting moment and it is wonderful to see the poker community’s generosity, where organizations, players and fans are all coming together to support ONE DROP. Whether entering the BIG ONE for ONE DROP, becoming a poker ambassador, making a donation, or simply changing their water consumption habits, everyone can get involved and everyone should be concerned, because a child dies every 20 seconds from a water related disease and that together we can beat the odds.”

As it stands now, over $3.33 million from the tournament is earmarked for ONE DROP. And while 30 players signing up for a $1 million buy-in event is phenomenal, WSOP officials expect the tournament to reach its cap of 48 players. Should that happen, the prize pool will hit $40,000,000, with $17,200,002.15 going to the winner.

The continued growth of the Big One for ONE DROP will be aided by live satellites scheduled to be held at casinos around the country. The next satellite will be at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota. The direct buy-in for the “Main Event” satellite is $500 with 40 percent of the prize pool going to the winner. That first prize is guaranteed to include at least the $25,300 buy-in to the Official World Series of Poker the Big One Satellite on Saturday, June 30th in Las Vegas, where at least one $1,000,000 seat in the Big One will be awarded. Also included in the Canterbury Park prize packages is airfare and lodging. Qualifiers for the Canterbury Park $500 satellite will run May 7th through May 12th and will feature both $65 and $125 buy-ins. (Credit: Poker News Daily)


Scott Seiver Wins PartyPoker Premier League V...

Going into the final table of the PartyPoker Premier League V, many in the poker community were hoping the Mathew Frankland’s Cinderella story would continue for one more day. Frankland, one of two players in the field who had to qualify to get into the game, began Tuesday with the largest chip stack, a reward for earning the most points in the preliminary heats. It was not to be for Frankland against an all-star table, though, as he bowed out in 7th place. Emerging triumphant just a few days shy of his 27th birthday was Scott Seiver, who gave himself a sweet early birthday gift of half a million dollars.

Though there were seasoned vets such as Erik Seidel, Phil Laak, and Tony G at the table, it came down to two of the young guns, Seiver and 22-year old online phenom Daniel “Jungleman” Cates, for the championship. The two started heads-up play in almost a dead heat in chips – Cates with 1.295 million and Seiver with 1.245 million. Within minutes, though, Seiver took a 500,000 chip lead, picking up many of those when he moved all-in with pocket Kings, forcing Cates to fold after a three-bet.

Just minutes later, Seiver stretched his lead to 2-to-1. With blinds at 20,000/40,000, Cates had to make a move quickly. A pocket pair was as good a hand as many with which to make that move, so Cates got it all-in pre-flop with 7-7. Seiver was all-in, as well (having Cates covered, of course), settling for a coin flip with K-Q. Cates had to have been happy with the flop, as it came down T-T-4, which both denied Seiver a pair and severely limited any straight possibilities. The 3 on the turn was fantastic, too, as Seiver now had just six outs. Unless you skipped everything to this point, you already know that the percentages were not with Cates on the river. Seiver spiked a King to give him the title and the $500,000 first prize.

Here is a look at the final table standings and prize payouts:

1. Scott Seiver – $500,000
2. Daniel Cates – $300,000
3. Phil Laak – $175,000
4. Patrik Antonius – $125,000
5. Tony G – $100,000
6. Tom Dwan – $80,000
7. Mathew Frankland – $65,000
8. Sam Trickett – $55,000

But that’s not all. Each player in the PartyPoker Premier League V received $2,000 for each point earned in the preliminary heats. The standings based on total winnings remained almost the same after including the bonus money. The only change was Frankland moving up from 7th to 6th in the money rankings, the result of his winning $80,000 in the preliminary rounds. All 16 players won prize money, though only Seiver, Cates, Laak, Patrik Antonius, Tony G, Frankland, and Tom Dwan made enough to cover the $125,000 buy-in. Because Frankland won his seat, though, his winnings were all profit. The same was true for Ben Wilinofsky, which is fortunate, as he took home just $2,000. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

2012 PartyPoker Premier League V – Final Payouts

Scott Seiver – $560,000
Daniel Cates – $376,000
Phil Laak – $233,000
Patrik Antonius – $189,000
Tony G – $160,000
Mathew Frankland – $145,000
Tom Dwan – $136,000
Sam Trickett – $121,000
Yevgeniy Timoshenko – $58,000
Andy Frankenberger – $56,000
Erik Seidel – $48,000
Vanessa Selbst – $46,000
Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier – $36,000
Eugene Katchalov – $18,000
Luke Schwartz – $14,000
Ben Wilinofsky – $4,000


Star investigator dismisses 'Sniffing Sid' rumours...

An investigator at Sydney's Star casino has told an inquiry he does not believe his former boss Sid Vaikunta was using drugs while in charge of the business.

Kevin Houlahan, the casino's investigations manager, is giving evidence this morning at a public hearing by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.

Gail Furness SC is presiding over the inquiry to examine the sacking of Mr Vaikunta, as well as claims of sexual harassment and a culture of bullying at the Star.

The inquiry heard yesterday from former staff member Elizabeth Ward, who believed Mr Vaikunta used drugs.

Ms Ward said that the casino's general manager came to be known to staff by the nickname "Sniffing Sid".

Mr Houlahan has told the hearing he had heard of the nickname and rumours that Mr Vaikunta used cocaine.

But the former policeman said Mr Vaikunta never showed any signs of being a drug user in his dealings with him.

"Mr Vaikunta made it very clear to me that he was against drug use, that he had been subjected to drug testing whilst he worked previously in the United States and that he was more than happy to introduce drug testing within the workplace here," Mr Houlahan told the inquiry.

Star spokesman Brad Schmidt yesterday condemned the claims of Mr Vaikunta's drug use.

The inquiry heard yesterday that a five centimetre line of fine white powder was found in a bathroom in a high roller section of the casino.

Ms Ward said she believed the powder was cocaine, but that it was switched for cement dust before it was tested.

Security questioned

Mr Houlahan has told the inquiry he was on annual leave when the powder was discovered in December.

He said when he returned to work and was updated on the matter he felt that several steps had been missed.

Mr Houlahan said the powder should have been photographed in situ, and it should have been appropriately bagged.

The inquiry into the casino also heard details of an anonymous report suggesting staff wiped evidence of Mr Vaidunka being drunk on the premises.

Mr Houlahan said he had no reason to believe security staff had deleted video footage showing Mr Vaikunta being removed from the building.

He says he questioned two security workers and he believes their responses.

"I interviewed two other staff members within the surveillance department to which I expressed the concerns about how or why the system works, can footage be deleted, have they ever been requested to delete footage, to which they both returned that no they'd never been asked and there is no way that you can delete footage," he said.

Counsel assisting the inquiry Michael Wigney put an allegation to Mr Houlahan, that he had once told a high roller, "You need to stay off the drugs".

But Mr Houlahan flatly dismissed the suggestion.

"I deny that conversation ever took place," he said.

The casino's chief executive, Larry Mullin, also faced questioning today.

Mr Mullin worked with Mr Vaikunta in the United States before they came to work at the Star.

Mr Wigney asked Mr Mullin about claims he and Mr Vaikunta were once at a bar in the casino where a female colleague was drinking.

Mr Vaikunta allegedly told bar staff to keep serving the woman shots, despite the fact she was drunk.

Mr Mullin told the inquiry he had no memory of the alleged incident.

Mr Wigney also asked if the casino put its business interests ahead of rules, but Mr Mullin said that was not the case.

"(We) keep them happy within the framework of what's legal," he said.

Mr Mullin said the media has misrepresented the casino.


Asian operators give Vegas casino titans run for their money...

MACAU/LAS VEGAS - Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who became one of the world's richest men by creating a casino empire in Las Vegas and Macau, is doubling down on his bets in Asia, the hottest gambling market on the planet where his Singapore operation made $1 billion the first year it was opened.

The 78-year chairman of Las Vegas Sands, the world's biggest gambling company by market capitalisation, looked supremely confident when he opened his new $4.4 billion casino last week in the former Portuguese colony of Macau, the world's largest gambling destination where bettors spent $33.5 billion last year compared to Las Vegas, which took in $6 billion.

Speaking at the opening of his Sands Cotai Central on April 11, Adelson outlined plans to spend billions more developing casinos in Vietnam, Korea and Japan, in addition to the $35 billion he plans to spend on a Spanish casino-resort complex.

Rivals Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts are also staking their own claims throughout Asia for growth.

It's not all an American story however. Asian players like Malaysia's Genting, Hong Kong-listed Galaxy Entertainment and Melco Crown, are aggressively raising the ante as they expand on their home turf.

Rise of the Asian titan

The race to conquer the Asian casino world is already heating up in the Philippines where Asian brokerage CLSA forecasts gambling revenue to grow from US$1.3 billion in 2011 to US$3 billion in 2015 once three new resorts are completed.

Genting, controlled by Malaysian businessman Lim Kok Thay, controls and is developing casinos in the Philippines through its Genting Hong Kong unit, while parent Genting Group is developing a casino in Vietnam with local asset management group VinaCapital, according to Vietnamese media.

Galaxy and Melco, which both sit on prime real estate on Macau's coveted casino strip, are also interested in investing in the Philippines, Cristino Naguiat, chairman of the state-owned Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp, told Reuters in February.

The firms currently developing or operating casinos in the Philippines include Belle Corp, Bloomberry Resorts, Universal Entertainment and Travellers, a joint venture between Genting and Alliance Global.

"Countries like Singapore have provided a very good template for emerging jurisdictions looking to liberalize gaming entertainment," said Steven Tight, president of international development for U.S. giant Caesars Entertainment, which owns Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Caesars does not operate a casino in Macau, but is itself expanding in Asia and is building a luxury resort in China's southern tourist destination, Hainan, where gambling is illegal.

Genting Singapore, armed with a hefty cash reserve of some S$3.9 billion ($3.1 billion) as of March 2012, has in the past two months raised around S$2.3 billion in debt, suggesting it is likely to push ahead with expansion plans and global acquisitions in the near term, analysts said.

Loss of face

The Asian expansion by U.S. operators has not been without controversy. Government officials in several potential Asian gambling jurisdictions considering which operators will be awarded a license are growing weary of the negative headline risk that Las Vegas operators bring with them, executives said.

Sands and Wynn are both embroiled in legal battles in the United States and Macau. Sands is fighting lawsuits filed against it by its former Macau chief executive and a former Taiwanese business partner while Wynn is being investigated for a HK$1 billion ($130 million) donation to the University of Macau.

Alleged bribes for Philippine regulators became the centerpiece of litigation in the United States between Wynn and its largest shareholder, Kazuo Okada. The case is now before a federal court in Nevada.

Okada, one of Japan's richest men whose Universal Entertainment manufactures pachinko machines, is building a casino resort in the Philippines and is reported to be investing in South Korea.

"Since entering Macau, all three Las Vegas-based operators have had international headlines that have caused humiliation and 'loss of face' for their Chinese partners and government officials," said Matthew Ossolinski, chairman of Ossolinski Holdings, a global emerging markets fund that invests in casinos and other gambling-related companies. "Some government officials in Asia are now wondering: is it worth it?"

Leaving Las Vegas?

Meanwhile, U.S. operators committed to a future in Asia could make a bold move to leave Las Vegas by delisting and selling their U.S. properties, which could free them from various U.S. legal constraints.

"It would be creating a sort of international hybrid gaming company: an established, world-class operator without the American legal baggage," said fund manager Ossolinski, who predicts the next five years will determine who dominates Asian gambling for the next 20 years.

U.S. operators are also on guard against Asian companies muscling in on their territory in the United States. Genting has been buying waterfront real estate in downtown Miami over the past year, including buying the Miami Herald building, in the hopes the state will legalise gambling.

As Asian firms look to dominate in Asia by relying on their local networks and knowledge, they are also tapping the intellectual resources of Las Vegas by hiring Las Vegas-based lawyers, architects, live entertainment producers and information technology companies.

"It won't be long before Asian firms start acquiring and developing properties in Las Vegas as a part of creating a global footprint," said Jonathan Galaviz, managing director and chief economist at Galaviz and Company LLC, an economic research and government strategies firm.

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