Casino Watch - February

18 January 2007

Crypto, Net Ent Roll out New Games

Online gaming software developer Net Entertainment on Jan. 11 announced the release of CasinoModule 3.5.1, a suite of new casino-style games. Meanwhile, fellow I-gaming developer CryptoLogic announced the release of 16 new casino-style games.

Well Hung

U.K.-based software provider JPM International has announced that its Hangman 3 game has become one of the most popular titles on Since its release in October 2006, the game has received an estimated 8,000 plays per day.

Russian Restrictions

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed on Dec. 30, 2006 legislation that will close down slot-machine halls across the country and obligate remaining halls to relocate to designated gambling zones. The bill calls for the creation of four legal gambling zones in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, the Primorsky region of the Pacific coast, the Altai region in Siberia and near the southern cities of Krasnodar and Rostov. Casinos and slot-machine operations elsewhere in the country will be banned effective July 1, 2009.

New Jersey's Casino Industry Continues to Grow

New Jersey's casino industry is reporting another record year of winnings, earning $5.2 billion from gamblers in 2006 despite momentary setbacks. The region's industry has set a winnings record each year since the first casino opened its doors in 1978. Winnings in 2006 were 4 percent higher than the 2005 winnings of $5 billion, and they came in a year when all the casinos were shuttered for three days in July during a state budget impasse. July, as it turns out, was the third-biggest win month in the city's gambling history, right behind August. In November, the Sands closed its doors to make way for a newer, bigger and more upscale gambling hall, but winnings were higher in November 2006 than they were in that month in 2005, despite the Sands closing mid-month. Ten of the 12 gambling halls in Atlantic City made more money in 2006 than the previous year, while The Borgata, which opened in 2003, remained the biggest winner. It brought in $739.2 million in winnings, ahead of Bally's Atlantic City, which was second with $677.3 million.

Macau on the Rise

Macau has topped Las Vegas as the biggest casino destination in the world. The growth spurt came after billionaire Stanley Ho's gaming company, Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM), lost its exclusivity in the casino market. Casino Lisboa and other SJM properties are now facing stiff competition from a handful of international corporations.

Macau Gov. Edmund Ho said in November he would only grant casino licenses to six operators. So far, those include Stanley Ho (no relation to the Governor), Kirk Kerkorian of U.S. casino operator MGM, and Las Vegas casino moguls Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson.

Stanley Ho has said he wants to sell as much as US$1.9 billion worth of shares in SJM to raise funds to go head-to-head with the Americans. That plan has so far been blocked by a lawsuit brought by his sister, Winnie Ho, 84, who holds a minority stake in SJM's parent company and says she was not consulted about the share sale.

Meanwhile, two of Ho's children have formed joint ventures with his Western rivals. Pansy Ho has linked up with Kirk Kerkorian of MGM Mirage, which is building the US$1 billion MGM Grand casino-hotel within walking distance to Casino Lisboa. And Lawrence Ho, chairman of Hong Kong-listed Melco International Development Ltd., has teamed up with Australian tycoon James Packer to invest as much as US$3.3 billion in three casinos in Macau.

In all, foreign investors are staking US$20 billion on making Macau into the gambling capital of Asia.