Casino Watch - Apri

23 March 2007

PBL Restructures for International Growth

Australia's Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd. (PBL), which is building casinos in Macau with partner Melco International Developments Ltd., has announced it will restructure its gaming division to pursue international expansion. The company said on March 5 that it plans to establish a new international business development group, which will be overseen by PBL head of gaming Rowen Craigie.

"The objective of the restructure is to enable PBL Gaming to actively pursue international gaming opportunities whilst maintaining the growth momentum at Crown and Burswood," PBL executive chairman James Packer said in a prepared statement.

Caborn Defends Panel's Selection of Manchester

In defense of the independent panel that selected Manchester as the site of the country's first supercasino, U.K. Minister for Gambling Richard Caborn on March 13 told a Lords select committee he was "reasonably content" with the job done, according to the Finanacial Times. The panel's selection has been questioned, especially since Blackpool was favored to win the license, and the government faces a growing backlash by its own MPs. More than 100 MPs, including 82 Labour MPs, have signed a parliamentary motion expressing "surprise and regret" at the rejection of Blackpool. The Manchester site and the sites of the 16 smaller regional casinos need Commons' and Lords' approval for the casinos to go ahead. Ministers have said they intend to vote "all or nothing" at the end of this month, forcing them to reject all 17 sites if they object to Manchester.

WSOP Expects Record Numbers in 2007

Despite the October 2006 U.S. crackdown on I-gaming, the World Series of Poker says it's planning for a record number of entrants. Tournament commissioner Jeffrey Pollack said during a conference call with reporters on March 14: "[10,000 entrants] is not either a target, a goal or a prediction … We're planning for a top level of 10,000, but if there are more, we'll figure it out." 10,000 players would mean a 14 percent increase over last year's record 8,773 players--half of whom were estimated to have qualified for the Series via online satellite tournaments.

Companies Line up for Leeds Casino

Several gaming companies are lining up to build a casino in Leeds, England. Leeds was one of eight cities granted a license for a new Las Vegas-style casino in the United Kingdom. Companies interested include Britain's largest casino operator, Stanley Leisure, as well as Grosvenor Casinos, which is owned by the Rank Group, and Aspers, which is co-owned by Damian Aspinall. Two other companies believed to be considering a bid include London Clubs International and Bahamas-based Kerzner International, though neither has publicly declared its intentions.

New Rules for Online Gambling Advertising

The U.K. Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) on March 13 released new rules for gambling advertising in anticipation of the Gambling Act coming into full force in September 2007. The rules emphasize social responsibility in gambling advertising, particularly regarding the need to protect children and vulnerable members of society.

In view of the emphasis on protecting children, the rules state that both broadcast and non-broadcast advertisements for gambling services in the United Kingdom must not be likely to appeal to children or young persons by showing any images associated with youth culture.

Furthermore, the rules prohibit gambling advertisements from being directed at children in any form of media. Under the rules, television and radio advertisements will be banned during programs directed at those under 18. In addition, advertisements may not feature anyone who appears to be under 25.

The rules also state that advertisements may not: depict, condone or encourage gambling behavior that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm; suggest that gambling can be a solution to financial concerns; or link gambling to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness.

Advertisements will officially be monitored by the Advertising Standards Authority and any breach could be referred to the Gambling Commission or the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, which could impose sanctions, according to the CAP.