Casino Watch - May

20 April 2006
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By the March 31 deadline, reportedly more than 40 local authorities put in applications for the license to host the United Kingdom's only Las Vegas-style "super casino." The winning city would have to make a substantial investment, but would gain thousands of jobs in a 24-hour casino with live entertainment, gaming tables and up to 1,250 jackpot slot machines. Lancashire County's Blackpool is seen as the favorite to win, but Southend on the eastern coast, Manchester in the northwest and Coventry and Birmingham, both in the West Midlands and northeast England's Newcastle, are frontrunners as well. The Casino Advisory Panel maintains, however, that every bidding authority stands an equal chance of winning. "It's rubbish that there's a favorite," it said. "We have no preconceived notions of who will win and who won't."

Melco Thriving

Melco International Development, helmed by Lawrence Ho, son of Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho, reports a full-year net profit for 2005 of $HK548.7 million (USD $99 million), up from $HK59.7 million (USD$7.7 million) in 2004. A one-time gain of $HK514.4 million (USD$63.3 million) was recorded in the first half of the year. Sales in 2005 rose 47 percent to $HK600.6 million (USD$77.5 million) and Melco will pay a final dividend of HK1c per share. Melco and joint venture partner, Australia's Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd, paid $US900 million (A$1.25 billion, HK $7 billion) last month to Wynn Resort for Macau's last sub-license to operate a new casino, Crown Macau, which opens next year. PBL Melco may be looking to build a third property in Macau, though Ho said there is no specific plan yet and that they are focusing on current investments. "I would be lying to you if I said we were not looking for sites for a new project," Ho said, "but we don't have anything in mind yet."

Vietnam IPO

Vietnamese hotel and casino developer the Hoang Gia International joint-stock company says it will raise US$20 million at its initial public offering next month by listing 2 million shares at a face value of VND150,000 (USD$9.42) per share on the country's bourses in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. The company said it plans to invest a part of the $20 million into developing a hotel chain with a new 13-story hotel and five-star 20-story hotel and park. The first auction is scheduled for May 5-6 at the HCMC Securities Trading Center.

VC Roulette

British bookmaker Victor Chandler has teamed up with interactive gaming software provider Electracade Ltd. and its partner, gaming technology company Orbis Technology, to launch no-download version of classic roulette. Electracade specializes in supplying and developing content for online, FOBT, mobile and iTV gaming platforms and is the supplier to several of the big names in online gaming industry, including Ladbrokes and Paddy Power. Orbis' OpenBet technology provides a single-account, single-solution platform to online bookmakers.

Streaming Poker at Binion's

Historic Las Vegas hotel and casino Binion's, birthplace of the World Series of Poker, will soon become the first casino in Nevada to broadcast poker tournaments on the Internet giving ordinary players a chance to win their way in front of the cameras. Binion's spent more than $80,000 on installing seven cameras in and over a single poker table and on creating a production booth with commentators, camera operators and other technicians. The casino was expected to start the Webcasts--made possible by Las Vegas-based media company iStreamPlanet--by this week, but as of today nothing was viewable. Meanwhile, Binion's will host the American Poker Player Championship, its first major poker tournament since the departure of the World Series of Poker, starting May 10.