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07 April 2010

Crown Casino Ready For War With Sydney's Star City, by Greg Tingle - 7th April 2010

Casino wars are about to explode down under between Sydney (The Blues) and Melbournites (Melbourne).

Experts are divided as to who dealt the first strike, but James Packer's "sweet deals" from the Victorian Government, along with the pending private jet purchase for VIP high flyers have certainly raised the ante.

Star City chiefs promise to turn it around from "an RSL club on steroids" aka "Pyrmont Workers Club" into a glamour showbiz icon of mammoth proportions. Vegas, look out baby! is the word.

They desire to crack Melbourne's lockdown on VIP high rollers, a couple of which are also being lured to Jupiters on the Gold Coast.

The action comes only one week after the New South Wales Government announced it indented to nab Melbourne's Formula 1 Grand Prix, Star City "mafia" have unleashed a new interstate - State Of Origin type war.

Sydney's "Star", owned by corporate "whale" Tabcorp, is expected to change its name and keep expanding, including adding a massive showbiz section... all part of a now a $640 million revitalisation, blowing the original budget by approximately $100 million. "It certainly has shades of the Crown Macau, now Altira Macau transformation up north in the Asia Pacific land of the dragons" whispered a Media Man insider.

The casino desires to host some of the world's biggest stars and entertainment icons with a new 4000 plus seat, $65 million international events centre.

Elton John, Lady Gaga, Rolling Stones, KISS, UFC and WWE are said to be on the want list, however the venue still may not be big enough to host them! Star wants Virgin's Richard Branson to pop in for a beer and photos, but Media Man spies advise Packer's got Branson nicely locked down and "more than satisfied with Crown", as is Tom Cruise. Sydney's Grant Galea and his world famous Dean Martin (and sometimes Frank Sintra act) is expected to make a return performance to Star City as the stakes climb. Hot off the heels of a Queen Elizabeth cruise liner show to a thousand patrons, Deano is hot, rocked, locked and ready to roll at Star and Crown. Galea and Media Man burlesque PR queen squeeze, Jac Bowie, is super excited about the casino wars heating up and sees the opportunity to showcase some more of Australia's and the world's burlesque queens... watch out Dita Von Teese! Sydney's icon sex symbol, Madame Lash, is rumoured to be interested to bring her VIP "Provocateur Package" (as enjoyed at Sydney's Hilton Hotel) to Star City and Crown. Some of the name wants by Star may be ambitions, but not all are Mission: Impossible.

Crown Casino is understood to be attracting 46,000 visitors a day (17 million a year), just about double Star City's patronage. Who said casinos are not tourism attractions... just another media beat up from detractors, but Packer's Crown and Star City are used to the knockers, so its water off a 'Pluka' ducks back.

Sydney is prepared for an epic battle with Crown, and wallets and passionate punters, and a few dolphins and whales are largely seen as the ultimate "catch" er prize. The bait is on the lure and rod, and they are looking forward to a happy hunting season, one which will break their drought of sorts.

Tabcorp top brass Larry Mullin advised Star City holds 20% of the lucrative VIP market.

He estimates Crown has 80% of turnover from high rollers, worth a cool $25 billion a year. So that's where Packer is pulling in the big bucks for big boys toys.

"We're getting the same high rollers, we're just not getting as many," Mullin said.

Crown cemented its place as The destination for international high rolling VIPs by offering the works, including a fleet of Gulfstream jets, soon to be expanded, as Gambling911 reported last week.

Sydney is fighting back, with a makeover to its VIP high rollers' den and plans to purchase its own fleet of jets. Why not buy a share in Virgin Galactic and the Queen Elizabeth Ocean Liner and other toys while the cash splash is on.

Star's new MD, Sid Vaikunta, advised the revamp was imperative because the casino was treated by the general public as an "RSL club on steroids" aka "Pyrmont Workers Club".

Crown was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

Sydney has warned Victoria that it wanted the Australian Grand Prix when the Melbourne contract expires in 2014.

The was sees Major Events Minister Tim Holding name calling the NSW Government the "nation's biggest blowhards", but we reckon its better to blow hard, than not blow at all.

Media Man and Gambling911 advise burlesque performers, "casino babes" and "poker babe tournaments and events" may be a "secret weapon in the process", and maybe some risque b2b may factor in the process, be it casino and entertainment website portals, pole dancers and maybe even some sort of escort VIP "service" for VIP's, of course. Star City and Crown Casino remain tight lipped on such initiatives. If its not talked about, it doesn't exist... yeah right!

Sydney and Melbourne's nightlife is expected to prosper as the casino war heats up, and the big winners are expected to be the NSW and VIC state governments, and maybe even Rudd's Federal government might make a dollar or two out of it also (even though Rudd and "Minster Of Silly Lists", Stephen Conroy, don't like pokies) and have recently displayed what many see as their blatant favoritism to "bible bashers" and fun police as "save the children" campaigners continue to try to spoil everyones fun, even dissing our beloved FHM, Playboy, Penthouse, Zoo and Maxim poker babes. Ya bloody mongrels!

Rest assured Media Man and Gambling911 will continue to cover the scene in an uncensored and no holds barred type approach, one that may or may not get caught up in the "Great Australian Firewall" as D Day approaches.

Australia's land based casinos are also being seen to be taking the fight to online casinos aka cyber casinos, as Betfair, PartyGaming and others compete for the new breed of gambler, one who prefers to do it from home, without the need for limos, let alone learjets.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company, gaming being just one of a dozen industry verticals covered.

*The writer owns shares in Crown Limited

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