Casino Watch - November

31 October 2006
Sun International to Enter Russian Market

South Africa-based casino operator Sun International (SUI) confirmed that it is planning a joint venture with Russian blue-chip company the Belaya Dacha Group for a new casino complex near Moscow. Phase one would include 1,000 top-end hotel rooms, a casino, an international convention center, summer and winter sporting facilities--including Russia's first PGA-rated championship golf course--and residential dachas. Other components include a theme park, international concert venues, bio-domes, and a nature preserve for deer and other Russian wildlife. A final decision on the project will depend on the Russian government's promulgation of the appropriate legislation and development of a suitable regulatory framework for the new gambling industry in the Moscow region.

Harrah's Working toward LCI Acquisition

U.S.-based casino entertainment giant Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. has extended the tender offer to acquire all the outstanding ordinary shares of British casino operator London Clubs International plc (LCI) to Nov. 4. LCI's board of directors continues to unanimously recommend that the remaining shareholders accept the offer of £1.25 per share. If the offer is accepted, Harrah's expects to close the deal in the fourth quarter of 2006. LCI operates seven casinos in the United Kingdom. and has an additional four under development. LCI also operates two casinos in Egypt and one in South Africa and has a consulting relationship with a casino in Lebanon.

New Concept: 'Peer to Peer' Hold'em

Casino game technology provider Progressive Gaming International Corporation (PGIC) is partnering with Harrah's Licensing Company, a division of Harrah's Entertainment, to introduce a new way to play Texas Hold'em poker in casinos. The World Series of Poker "Peer to Peer" Texas Hold'em gaming system will be designed to enable patrons to play poker on a wired or wireless device within a casino in jurisdictions where it is legal to do so. Harrah's Licensing Company has extended the license for the World Series of Poker brand to PGIC on a limited exclusive basis for a six-year term.

Net Ent Upgrades CasinoModule Technology

I-gaming software developer Net Entertainment has released CasinoModule 3.5, enabling licensees to receive six new games and further enhanced casino management capabilities. CasinoModule is developed in 12-week cycles, giving the licensees a new complementary software upgrade four times per year. CasinoModule is used by over 40 online operators worldwide, including Unibet, Gamebookers, Betsson, PokerRoom and Bahsedeger

Macau to Cap Casino Licenses at Six

Macau Gov. Edmund Ho says he will not grant any more casino licenses in the region. Macau will stick to six casino operators, including Stanley Ho (no relation to the Governor), Stanley Ho's daughter, Pansy Ho, who has linked up with U.S. casino operator MGM, and Las Vegas casino moguls Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson. The move protects the US $3 billion investment of James Packer's Publishing and Broadcasting Limited.

UK Conservatives to Jowell: 'What's the Holdup?

The U.K. Conservative party is crying foul over a delay in the selection process for the site of the country's first Las Vegas-style super-casino. The decision has been pushed to the end of January after the panel responsible for the choice requested an extension to allow "time for the printing process." The Conservative party responded by calling the selection process a shamble and said that the panel has had ample time to run off the report. Shadow culture secretary Hugo Swire has asked U.K. Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell to reveal the real reason for the delay and warned that the process could descend into chaos after the announcement is finally made, from waves of litigation. The Department for Culture Media and Sport said the delay was a relatively short one and would have no impact on the overall decision.

ukbetting Acquiring Ritz's Online Casino Assets

After the Barclay brothers abruptly announced their intention to close their Ritz Club London Online Internet casino last month, Bookmaker uketting purchased the operation for an undisclosed sum. Ritz Club management will reportedly remain in place, but a ukbetting spokesman said Ritz Club will soon relinquish its current CryptoLogic software for a platform offered by industry rival Playtech. Under ukbetting ownership, the site will no longer be associated with the Ritz Club and the Barclay brothers.