Casino Watch - December

22 November 2006

Russia Drafts New Ban

Russia's State Duma deputies have given unanimous, tentative approval to a bill that will ban gambling in four special zones beginning in 2009. The legislation, though, has been criticized for both its ambiguous language and targeting of minutiae, such as betting over card games in private homes. The bill is expected to undergo drastic changes before it passes a second reading later this year. "There is no doubt the bill will change beyond recognition," said Yevgeny Kovtun, a spokesman for the Gaming Business Association. The bill, submitted by Vladimir Putin in October, passed through a first reading on Nov. 15 by a vote of 440-0 and one abstention.

eBet Acquires Octavian

The latest round of mergers and acquisitions brings news that gaming technology company eBet has reached an agreement to acquire assets of U.K.-based gaming solutions provider Octavian Gaming Systems. The new company will be called Octavian Global Technology. The initial purchase price for the Octavian Group will be $23.2 million, paid in the form of 136.8 million eBet fully paid ordinary shares of $0.22 per share. Additional payments--a mixture of cash and ordinary shares, with ordinary shares being issued at prices of $0.22, $0.25, $0.27 and $0.30 per share in each of the years 2007 through to 2010--will be made subject to achievement of paid sales of Octavian products over the next four years. eBet hopes to close the transaction by February 2007. Each party has agreed to deal with the other for a non-exclusive period of 90 days.

Betfair Sells Out APT

Betfair Poker sold out the Main Event of its inaugural Asian Poker Tour festival in Singapore. Over 370 players each paid the $5,000 buy-in for the three-day Main Event that began Nov. 15. Though exact figures were not released, "many" players reportedly qualified through Betfair Poker online. Entrants hailed from 32 countries, and competed alongside a sizable pool of local players. The tournament winner, Tony Guoga, donated half of his winnings to local charities. Guoga won a total of $451,200.

Harrah's Acquires Parts of LCI

Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. has acquired approximately 83 percent of the ordinary shares of London Clubs International plc (LCI) and anticipates gaining total control of the company by the end of the fourth quarter 2006. LCI operates seven casinos in the United Kingdom and has an additional four under development. In addition, LCI operates two casinos in Egypt, one in South Africa and has a consulting relationship with a casino in Lebanon.

Macau Tops Vegas

The Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) is expected to earn in excess of $6.58 billion from its gambling industry in 2006, reports The 2006 SAR earnings projection will reportedly push Macau ahead of Las Vegas, with the region to become the world's largest casino center. After the country struck its gambling monopoly in 2002, the industry has grown rapidly. According to a report released by SAR officials, 18.7 million people visited Macau's casinos last year, with 20 million expected in 2007.

PGIC Drops Rapid Bet Live

Casino game technology provider Progressive Gaming International Corporation announced on Oct. 31 that the Las Vegas Palms Hotel and Casino, began accepting live wagers on the Rapid Bet Live Wireless mobile betting devices on casino grounds. Rapid Bet Live allows live "in game" wagering throughout the entire course of a sporting event.