Casino Watch - March

21 February 2007

Tabcorp Virgin Deal Falls Through  

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group is no longer in talks with Australia-based operator Tabcorp regarding the construction of a £1.5 billion ($2.9 million) casino in Macau. Branson and Tabcorp CEO Matthew Slatter previously visited Macau together to look at potential sites and partners for the casino. Tabcorp was due to play a major role in developing and operating the project, which would have been marketed under the Virgin brand, but, for unknown reasons, the deal collapsed.  

"We can't see that (partnership) going anywhere," a source said, adding discussions had only been in the early stages. "These things happen all the time."  

Virgin remains in talks with other potential partners.  

Sportingbet Goes to Sweden  

Online operator Sportingbet on Feb. 9 announced a three-year casino and poker contract with Sweden-based software provider Boss Media. The company will also migrate its Paradise Poker players to its existent Sportingbet poker platform, powered by the Boss platform. Though Sportingbet has pulled the plug on Paradise, it will retain the Paradise brand name. ?

All Slots Improves Software  

Microgaming powered All Slots Casino, part of Canada-based online casino group Jackpot Factory, has launched a brand new casino lobby called Viper. Developed by Microgaming, Viper software enhances the gaming experience by bringing faster games and higher resolution picture quality, practical features such as autoplay, expert mode, clear description of the different casino games and enhanced sound options. Players at other Jackpot Factory casinos --All Jackpots Casino, First Web Casino, Wild Jack Casino, and The VIP Lounge Casino--can expect to see this new innovation implemented in the future. For now, new players are welcomed to All Slots Casino, where they can immediately qualify for a lucrative sign up bonus.  

Poker for a Cause  

WPT Enterprises, Inc. (WPTE) has partnered with The Creative Coalition (TCC) for the fifth anniversary of the World Poker Tour Celebrity Invitational. The event features A-list celebrities and poker's best battling it out in a three-day Texas Hold 'Em tournament for charity, cash and bragging rights. The last celebrity standing in the tournament receives a $10,000 donation to their favorite charity, while the winner of the tournament receives $100,000 and a $25,000 seat in the Las Vegas-hosted WPT World Championship in April 2007. In addition, the WPT will donate $10,000 to TCC.  

Founded in 1989, TCC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. TCC is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance, primarily the First Amendment, public education and arts advocacy.

Poker for the Kids  

Online gaming company Betfred is sponsoring the U.K. Student Poker Championships (UKSP) at St. Andrews University for the third year in a row. The championships will run from March 30 to April 1, and the winner will earn a seat at the World Series of Poker 2007 in Las Vegas, which is being donated by Betfred and is worth over $13,000.  

UK 'Super Casino' to Call Manchester Home

Britain's first Las Vegas style super casino will be built in Manchester, the independent Casino Advisory Panel announced on Jan 30. But the announcement has been met with much contention from members of Blackpool's parliament. Blackpool had been a leading contender in the race for the regional casino and the CAP's decision to award the license to Manchester reportedly came as a shock to many in the industry. Blackpool MPs are holding talks with Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell in hopes of persuading her to overturn the CAP's recommendation. They are also hoping that she will allow MPs two separate votes, one for the super casino and one for the 16 smaller casinos, when the recommendation passes through Parliament in March. The CAP also announced venues for eight large and eight small new casinos.

Meanwhile, a number of casino operators and gambling firms are expected to bid for the right to run the new venue, including Harrah's and Las Vegas Sands. However, other potential interested parties--Rank, Kerzner International, Genting, MGM Mirage and Ladbrokes--have not revealed their intentions, although Ladbrokes is reportedly expected to announce its intention to bid this week. 

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport today laid out guidelines for potential bidders which stipulated, among other things, that children would not be allowed onto gaming floors and that they would pay for services such as local gambling addiction counseling.

Introducing the Gambling Capital of the World

Macau's gambling revenue jumped 22 percent to $6.95 billion in 2006, possibly surpassing the Las Vegas Strip as the number one gambling destination, according to figures released on Jan. 24. The Las Vegas Strip has yet to release its total revenue figure for 2006, but state regulators in Nevada have said total revenue through November came to $6.08 billion. If revenues were flat in December 2006 compared to the previous year, the total would likely hit $6.57 billion, according to the Associated Press. The Chinese administrative region shows no signs of slowing down, with six new casinos opening this year, including the Las Vegas Sands Venetian Macau casino complex, slated to open as early as this summer.