Casino Watch - July

23 June 2006
Harrah's WSOP 2006 Preparations Are Well Underway

Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. announced this month four major agreements relating to the 2006 World Series of Poker (WSOP), June 25 to August 10 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Milwaukee's Best Light will remain the presenting sponsor and official beer of the event through 2008. As part of the agreement, Milwaukee's Best Light will be integrated into several facets of the WSOP and will promote the WSOP nationally on a year-round basis, including a new joint mark featuring the WSOP and Milwaukee's Best Light logos; the "Milwaukee's Best Light Pocket Cam," which will be featured during the broadcast to show ESPN viewers each player's hole cards and the "Milwaukee's Best Light Beer Garden," an area adjacent to the official poker room at the WSOP, accessible to both players and spectators.

Harrah's also agreed to extend ESPN's coverage of the WSOP through 2010 and for the first time, ESPN will offer a live pay-per-view telecast of final-table play at the $10,000 No-Limit Texas Hold'Em World Championship.

A Harrah's subsidiary has signed a letter of intent with Bluff Media, publisher of Bluff Magazine and producers of Bluff Poker Radio, for production of live radio broadcasts from the WSOP, which can be heard exclusively on Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 125, through the World Championship. Also, Card Player magazine has been named as the official magazine of the WSOP and will provide exclusive coverage of the event. Card Player will also publish the official program of the WSOP.

Efforts to Regulate Casinos in Japan Gain Momentum

Japan's MPs could be preparing to lift the ban on casinos and pave the way for the creation of a Japanese super-casino. The pro-casino lobby says Japan is losing out to other Asian countries, such as South Korea and China, in the race to secure extra tourist dollars. Singapore has recently lifted its ban on casinos and Thailand is expected to follow suit to challenge Macau's reputation as the Las Vegas of the east. The Liberal Democratic Party's subcommittee on casino entertainment had hoped to table a bill to legalize casinos during the current parliamentary session, but last-minute changes and a packed legislative schedule mean they will probably have to wait until next year. More than 25 local government leaders also support lifting the ban, including the governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, who believes that casinos would make Tokyo better for everyone, creating about 10,000 new jobs and revitalizing the Odaiba waterfront district, which is the preferred site for the capital's first casino.

Ladbrokes and Hilton Hope to Reunite for Blackpool Hotel Casino

A spokesperson for UK gambling company Ladbrokes has confirmed that the company is still backing Blackpool's bid to become the venue for Britain's first regional casino and that it would proceed with its plans for a Palace of Light casino hotel project. "Our plans, as far as the actual development is concerned, are unchanged," he said. "How we go forward with them would depend whether or not Blackpool gets the super casino license. We will enter into discussions with potential hotel partners for the site, and that would include the Hilton Group." Ladbrokes first unveiled its plans for the casino hotel project last year. At the time Ladbrokes was owned by parent company Hilton Group Plc, but in early 2006 Hilton Group Plc sold its entire hotels division to its American sister company, Hilton Hotels Corp. After the sale the remaining company consisted solely of the betting and division and consequently renamed itself Ladbrokes Plc.

Maxim Hotel Casino Slated to Open on Las Vegas Strip

Men's magazine Maxim is lending its name to a hotel casino that will open in 2010 on the Las Vegas Strip. Barry Pincus, director of brand development for Maxim publisher Dennis Publishing Inc., described the property as "upscale, sexy, flirtatious and comfortable." Maxim plans to partner with Los Angeles and Las Vegas-based real estate developer Concord Wilshire Partners LLC to build the 2,300-room resort with a 60,000-square foot casino on nine acres just north of the Circus Circus hotel casino. Construction on the project is expected to begin in late 2007.

Betfair's Exchange Baccarat Game Targets Asian Market

Betfair Games today announced the launch of "Exchange Baccarat," a game that enables customers to set their own odds and back and lay as the games unfold. As with the other offerings in Betfair's Exchange Games series, customers bet against each other, and bettors who are not happy with the odds on offer can request better ones. The company hopes Exchange Baccarat will be popular in the Asian market, where baccarat is very popular.

Macau Numbers

The government of the Macau Special Administrative Region has collected 6.10 billion patacas (US$763 million) in direct gaming taxes in the first four months of 2006, a year-on-year rise of 15.7 percent. The statistics released May 30 by the Finance Services Bureau (FSB) show that the gaming taxes accounted for 75.4 percent of the government's total revenue in the period. Macau's 21 casinos pay 35 percent of their gross receipts as direct tax to the government. Macau posted record casino revenues for the same period. The country's 19 casinos raked 12.7 billion patacas (US $1.62 billion) in takings for the three months to March, according to census department statistics.

IGT Offers $21 Million for VCAT's Mariposa

Reno-based slot machine manufacturer International Game Technology (IGT) has entered an almost $21 million bid to buy San Diego-based Venture Catalyst's (VCAT) Mariposa software system, a casino management tool that stores and manages customer information and wagering habits. The all-stock transaction would have IGT paying $2.58 a share for VCAT, which has its stock trading over the counter. The offer was announced June 15 and VCAT has given IGT a 45-day exclusivity period to agree to the deal

G2E Acquires Asian Gaming Expo

Global Gaming Expo (G2E), a joint venture of the American Gaming Association (AGA) and Reed Exhibitions, has acquired the Asian Gaming Expo from the Australasian Gaming Machine Manufacturers Association (AGMMA) and will be renamed G2E Asia. G2E announced the acquisition during the 2006 Asian Gaming Expo, June 13 to 14, and assumed ownership immediately following the event. G2E Asia is set to debut June 12-13, 2007 at the Macau Tower and the 2008 event will be held at The Venetian Macau.