Casino Watch - March

15 February 2008
More Money: Just Another Year in Macau

Macau showed a 47 percent increase in gambling revenue to $10.34 billion in 2007. The figures are slightly below analysts' projected figures but still exceed the growth rate and gambling revenue of the Las Vegas strip.

Four new casinos opened in Macau last year. Another one opened in January, another five are scheduled to open this year, while as many as nine could open next year. At year-end, Macau had 4,375 gaming tables and 13,267 slot machines in 28 casinos compared to 2,762 tables and 6,546 slot machines in 24 casinos at the end of 2006.

The Las Vegas strip took in $6.83 billion in gambling revenue in 2007, a 2.1 percent improvement over the previous year. Gambling revenue for the entire state of Nevada, which includes the Las Vegas strip and the rest of the city as well as outposts such as Reno and areas around Lake Tahoe, reached $12.85 billion, a 1.8 percent improvement.

Irish Casinos could be Subject to Stricter Money-Laundering Policy

Ireland's Justice Minister Brian Lenihan has introduced legislation intended to transpose the EU's Third Money Laundering Directive into Irish Law. If enacted, the bill would require Irish gaming clubs and private member clubs to comply with money laundering statutes from which they are currently excluded.

A March 2006 report from the international Financial Action Task Force said it was "a matter of concern" that private clubs that operate "casino-like facilities" are not included in Irish anti-money laundering legislation. Trusts and company services providers as well as dealers in high-value goods, such as car dealerships, are also addressed in the new bill. All such entities would have to identify "the beneficial owner" of cash transactions and not just the identity of the person with whom they are dealing.

The legislation proposes possible prison terms of up to 14 years as penalty for money laundering.

Harrah's Proposes LCI Merger with Gala

Harrah's Entertainment has proposed a deal to merge its London Clubs International (LCI) division with Gala Casinos. A business resulting from a merger between London Clubs and Gala Casinos would own 40 casinos in Britain, just one shy of Stanley Casinos, the country's largest casino operator. Neither party has revealed much to the public about the structure of such a deal or its chances of becoming a reality.

Three months ago Harrah's approached Rank, operator of 32 casinos in Britain, with a proposal to hand over LCI to Rank in exchange for 28 percent ownership of the enlarged Rank that would emerge from the deal. Rank, however, rebuffed the offer.

It is not clear whether Harrah's would like to enter a similar arrangement with Gala Casinos, or even if it proposes to sell London Clubs flat out.

Ann Summers Launches Online Casino

Ann Summers, the U.K.-based retailer of adult products and lingerie, is set to launch a branded online casino,, to compliment its existing bingo offering tag-lined The Sexy Bingo. Software will be provided by St. Minver. Ann Summers is owned by Gold Group International, which holds a significant stake in Birmingham City Football Club.

Spin3 Partners with 32Red to Launch Mobile Casino

Spin3 has agreed to supply 32Red with a mobile casino platform, which includes blackjack, roulette and the Tomb Raider video slot. "The deal with Spin3 and Microgaming means that we can extend our product base and enter a new and exciting field," said 32Red Chief Executive Ed Ware. "This was an obvious move for us as we were already seeing demand from our users to plan on the move."

Ladbrokes Decides against Entering U.K. Casino Market

The Financial Times reported on Jan. 21 that Ladbrokes has scrapped plans to enter the U.K. land-based casino market, amid talk of U.K. Culture Minister James Purnell's impending announcement of the "formal burial of the proposed supercasino in Manchester." Purnell is also expected to give the go-ahead for eight large and eight small casinos that remain from the "wreckage" of the government's "much-derided" casino expansion plan. The paper adds that Ladbrokes' decision to abandon the casino market effectively precludes the possibility of it making a bid for embattled operator Rank Group.