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18 August 2010

Australian and Asia Pacific Casino And Political News, by Greg Tingle - 17th August 2010

Australia remains home to some of the world's most interesting and unique casino, gambling, poker and political news. We've got casino - movie news, political odds, pro and anti casino advocates, real life Underbelly and the continuation of the famed Aussie Casino Wars. Media Man and Gambling911 continue to bring you the best down under.. Let's go punters... Tiny Kangaroo Down Sport, Tiny Kangaroo Down...

Mildura Star Casino: Political Fun And Games...

The Advance Northwest Association has predicted strong Nationals vote losses at November’s state political poll should the party oppose the $400 million Mildura Jewel development. The new action group became the latest body to volcano its support behind developer John Haddad’s grand plan for a casino and entertainment centre in regional Mildura. This follows the flagging of another unnamed mystery of sorts group, set to meet within hours, comprising casino supporters in the business community. Yep, we have pro casino types (not just haters). Advance Northwest spokesman Mark "No Bull" Bull pointed to polls undertaken by Sunraysia Daily and ABC’s Stateline program as evidence Mildura folk were largely in favour of a land based casino. Both polls found 70% of respondents in favour of the Jewel. "Every major Australia city and tourism destination has one," (No) Bull said. "There is no reason why Mildura should miss out. Media Man says, "Let Mildura be wanton no longer. Given what they want. It will boost the economy, tourism, entertainment, lifestyle... the works. It can't help but to bring in tourists and create jobs. It's a no brainer".

Jupiters Hotel And Casino - Australian International Movie Convention 'Tomorrow, When The War Began'...

Based on the best-selling series of novels from John Marsden, the film sees a group of teenagers become guerilla soldiers after Australia is invaded by an unidentified foreign power. Border security is a key theme of the flick. Writer/director Stuart Beattie, shares the following "It's not refugees in the film, but the defense experts we talked to painted a very scary picture for us. It's one of those things where we're the beloved country, the lucky country where we've got so much and so many others have so little. We should be grateful and always remember that we have it better than anyone, we've never had a war on our own soil. If you take away anything politically from the film it's that we're so lucky and we should appreciate what we have, because we have so much. It's about the main characters and what happens to them when their homes have been taken and their families have been locked up. How do they react and how do they survive? That's where the real drama is. And because they're high schoolers to me it would feel inorganic to get into all that other stuff because teenagers would not be privy to the politics that's going on. If I was making a film about the Prime Minister and his cabinet and a bunch of SAS soldiers then OK, we would need to say who this is because that's what they would be talking about. But they're teenagers trying to survive and the whole thing about the enemy is it doesn't matter who they are, they're here now and lets deal with it. I thought it was important to acknowledge that it's not the first time this has happened. Having Ellie acknowledge just for a second, amidst all this craziness, that she's on the other foot now and look at that in a whole new light. I didn't want to make it all about that, I just wanted it acknowledged. I lived in Broadbeach for six months with the girls from the show and we trained at Southport pool, so it's great to be back here. I filmed at Warner Roadshow Studios and there were always big films coming into be made there because this is such a beautiful place to shoot. It looks great on camera and has all the locations.' On the Aussie political election he says "It's so exciting to be here for that and to get to go into an election booth. I haven't been in the country for an election campaign in a long time. I've decided who I'm voting for, but I'm going to keep it under my hat."

Jupiters Hotel and Casino: Avatar 3D Celebs Connection Update...

Film director James Cameron is backing up at the Australian International Movie Convention (AIMC) on the Gold Coast this season showing footage of his 3D underwater epic Sanctum. Cameron impressed delegates away when he showed exclusive footage from his blockbuster Avatar last year, now, 12 months later, he plans to wow the town again. Star of the Sanctum, Rhys Wakefield, and producer Andrew Wight, will attend the happening at Jupiters Hotel and Casino this Wednesday when Universal Studios will present the scenes. The media opp will help combat some mixed media reports on the crime rate at the Tabcorp owned casino. Sanctum, shot (pun intended) at Surfers Paradise - Gold Coast earlier this year, is understood to be in post-production down south in Melbourne (home to 'Underbelly' - real and TV) where the visual effects and the like are being meshed in. Director Alister Grierson says it will be a 'very exciting' event. "It won't be the fully finished version but what you will see will be in 3D. Universal pictures are really excited and pumped up to do the release and it's rare an Australian film gets this amount of positive review and anticipation before it's out. We're doing some pick-up shots and have built a mini set here for visual effects, so we're very close to finishing." He won't be present, nor will exec producer Cameron. "I flew over to LA and screened a version for Jim about a month ago and he really enjoyed that. He had some tips on how to improve it and a few nips and tucks." Sanctum is just one of the dozens of films that will be previewed over the 5 day convention.

Queensland: Punters Put Money On Coalition Win...

Bananana Bender punters' money is coming back to the Coalition and seat-by-seat analysis suggests Labor may not win government in its own right, a national betting agency advised. Centrebet and Sportingbet are both tipping the ALP to lose 5, possibly 6, seats in Queensland. The ALP holds 17 of the 30 seats in Queensland, but 10 of these seats with a margin of under 4.6 per cent. Nationally there are 150 seats in the House of Representatives, with the ALP in 2007 winning 83, the Coalition 65 and two independents. 3 independents are tipped to win seats and punters back The Greens to win their first lower house seat in inner-city Melbourne, leaving 146 seats open. Centrebet's Neil Evans said there was a "bizarre" difference between the money being bet on a national basis and the money being wagered on individual seats. "This is the bizarre thing about this election. The head-to-head betting has been so heavily towards Labor in the past two, three, four days, it belies what is happening on the seat betting. The seat betting is showing the Coalition is not that far away. Maybe not in forming a government, but they almost look as though they are doing enough damage to deny Labor a majority." He reckons the punters were giving Labor a maximum of 12 and a minimum of 8 or 9 seats in Queensland: Blair, Bonner, Brisbane, Capricornia, Forde, Griffith, Lilley, Longman, Moreton, Oxley, Petrie and Rankin. Of those, the Labor-held seats of Longman, Forde, Petrie and Bonner are most vulnerable and rated as "not certain". Evans said punters were backing the Coalition over Labor in Queensland. "So as you can see, it is a massive return swing the Coalition's way. The way the market is looking now it is hard to get the ALP anywhere past 76 seats and the Coalition 70. They are hanging onto a very, very bare majority at the moment." Centrebet is getting most of the election betting in Australia, picking up a few virginal punters, such is the passion... without or without the Budgie Smugglers X Factor thanks to 'Bruiser' Abbott.

Underbelly Real Life With Pokies And Gunfire...

Underbelly real life has appeared to return to the now mean streets of Melbourne, down under in Australia. Evening peak hour traffic in downtown Lygon Street, Carlton. One Aussie bloke dead as wood inside the doorway of a pokies pub, another fella lying on the footpath outside the venue. A gunman darts across a public park, reloading his weapon on the run. The deceased were said to be middle aged, both gunned down at close range. A 3rd man was has been detained in custody, being questioned over the murders. Earlier that fateful day, in another part of Melbourne, another man lay dead. Just before 11am, a gunman jumped out of a sedan in Conifer Avenue, Brooklyn, in the city's industrial western region. He strolled towards the bearded figure of Macchour Chaouk, who was standing in his backyard, and fired several rounds into his chest. Everyone is looking to see if there is connection between the two bloody baths. Let us also recall the Crown Casino Chinatown crims who got busted for drug dealing around the same period, with a somewhat casino chip connection, often spotted in Crown's Mahogany Room (they won't be coming back to play nor mingle). 65-year-old Chaouk, a Lebanese - Australian man with the rep of a low-mid level crime boss, had died a violent death. Police made little secret that they were looking closely at a rival crime family, which had been engaged in a vicious turf war with the Chaouk clan. Turf is often associated with the patch used for drugs, distribution, deals... you get the idea. Melbourne police advised a 57-year-old Altona North man was arrested over the shooting at a residential address in Altona North. Chaouk had served time in the slammer for a for number of drug offences and was charged and acquitted of murdering a drug dealer. The crime figure was involved in two blood feuds: one against the notorious Haddara family; another against Victoria Police force, who in circa 2005 shot dead his son Mohamed when its officers raided their suburban Brooklyn home. It was last month when papa and two surviving sons, Omar and Waleed, were arrested and guns were confiscated in a series of raids by coppers. It came within a couple of weeks of a drive-by shooting in a nearby suburb that left Sam Haddara with nasty facial wounds. Omar was charged, and reluctantly bailed by magistrate Fiona Stewart on the grounds he avoid the family home. "There is an ongoing war between two families and the court should be extremely worried about the danger posed to the community by it," Stewart said. These happenings bring back memories of Alfonse Gangitano and Lewis Moran's Carlton Crew. The shootings took place in Players on Lygon, a pokies den across the road from Argyle Square. Witnesses to the shootings say they heard between five and eight shots above the noise of rush-hour traffic. Reloading the weapon as he ran for his life, the killer dressed in midnight black, reached the other side of the popular park before giving up the pursuit. He then strolled back across the park and into the pokies venue. Several more gun shots were heard in the region. He has returned apparently to finish the job, perhaps engulfed in hate and fueled by the smell of blood. Homicide Detective Sergeant Wayne Woltsche said the shooting as "outrageous and callous." He said he didn't believe there was a connection between this crime and the earlier murder. "Two people have been shot in the streets of Melbourne. It is a fairly callous crime. Whether it is an execution, I cannot say." Police sealed off the Lygon Street crime scene, they were still preping to remove Macchour Chaouk's body from his Brooklyn house under police guard. Footage captured from a Network Nine helicopter showed Chaouk's wife, dressed in Islamic black, prostrating herself on her husband's body as it lay covered by a sheet in backyard on the family home. Abour an hour and a half after the murders, three kids, aged one, three and five, who were inside when the killing occurred, were taken from the home, wrapped in what looked to be blankets. Twenty minutes later, after the arrival of a grey assault vehicle, an army of 11 heavily armed Special Operations Group police officers entered the home to make it safe for detectives, forensic experts and the like. Family and friends, including 19-year old offspring Omar, still on bail waiting to face weapons, drugs and fraud charges, waited outside for many hours after the shooting as police sealed off the area to the public and curious types. He was not allowed inside until a touch after 3pm. An aging neighbour heard shouting and several rapid-fire gun shots at the house, on the corner of Geelong Road and Conifer Avenue, just before 11am. Schools in the area locked students in their classrooms, neighbours advised they were not surprised by the killing. They were also aware of the strong potential for further gunfire and murders in their neighbourhood, with one sharing, "It will never end now." Several described Chaouk as a "friendly man", although all were aware of his family's criminal reputation and then some. "He was always pleasant to me," one man said. "I guess you don't shit in your own nest." Detective Superintendent Murray Fraser said that at 10.55am a gunman stepped out of a car in Conifer Avenue and fired several shots through the back gate, killing Chaouk. Attempts were made to revive him, but he was dead as before paramedics arrived. Quizzed whether inquiries were centred on the family feud, Superintendent Fraser went on record with "That's a fairly obvious inference to draw at the early stages. At this stage there is no evidence that we can really rely on to take that matter any further but we have to look at that as an avenue of inquiry, no doubt . . . and we will obviously have to keep an open mind." Probed if he thought there would be revenge attacks, he shared "That's an issue that we have to plan for. There has been a history of conflict involving the Chaouk family." Before yesterday, the most violent make up of that history had been the drive-by murder of Mohammed Haddara in June last year. Chaouk's 22-year-old nephew, Ahmed Hablas, was charged. Hablas's legal eagle, Alan Swanwick, advised his client feared for his life in custody as members of the Haddara family had vowed to take revenge. Those fears will be heightened considerable be it Chaouk id dead. Back to the Lygon Street killings, suspicions are of an unrelated drug deal gone to *hit. Lygon Street may never be quite the same, and no doubt these real life 'Underbelly' happenings are ongoing to boost interest in the Network Nine smash hit. Insiders say they will include the pokies connection, and perhaps also draw upon more history with Crown Casino, having a hard time stopping the rumor mill. The TV version of 'Underbelly' has yet more material to work with, as it prepares to screen the Brisbane and Gold Coast - Surfers' Parasise versions.

Aussie Regulator Considers Bets For Home Market!...

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is seriously considering a proposal to allow investors to bet on house prices on the stock exchange. No, this is not a hoax. The index would operate like any other index on the Australian Securities Exchange and would allow investors to bet against daily price fluctuations in house values. Mums and dads, banks, governments and hedge funds etc could all bet on indexes for the whole country, or individual capital cities, using futures contracts. The ASX says the index is still in development.
Leaks advise a house price index would allow people to protect themselves against falling house prices. "The single biggest source of household and financial system risk is the housing market," Mr X tells. "There's $3.5 trillion of housing in Australia and there's no way to hedge or insure against house price falls." Investors who are anticipating house price falls currently short-sell Australia's banks on the share market because, with 60% of their assets tied up in residential mortgages, they are the closest proxy (not IP proxy!) for house prices. Numerous prominent economists believe that Australian house prices are overvalued and set for a tumble. The Economist magazine's measure of fair value of twenty housing markets found Australia's the most overvalued, by 61%
Morgan Stanley strategist Gerard Minack says prices cannot continue their upward trend forever. "We are sitting on a powder keg, unless you think we have banished the economic cycle. I think we have good policy makers, but they're not that good. The next time we have a downturn, housing will be something that will exacerbate it quite severely."

Macau: Melco Crown Big Changes...

James Packer's Hong Kong-based casino JV has unveiled a major restructure of its management team. In a bid to better capitalise on booming gaming revenues in Macau, Melco Crown Entertainment, a JV between Packer's Crown and Lawrence Ho's Melco International, has appointed 2 chief operating officers after the resignation of Greg Hawkins, who has been president of the ventures flagship City of Dreams project for the past 5 years. The new management will see 2 execs given responsibility for group functions rather than for individual properties as has been the case. Ted Chan, president of Melco Crown's first casino in Macau, Altira, has been promoted to Co-COO, Gaming, overseeing gaming activities across the group. Former Sands China executive Nick Naples has joined Melco Crown as Co-COO, operations and is responsible for all non-gaming operating activities across the entire company. Both will report to Mr Ho (note its Ho, not No). Melco Crown chief bean counter ex News Corporation exec Simon Dewhurst resigned last Friday from his role as part of the restructuring. Melco has promoted Geoffrey Davis, currently senior VP of corporate finance, to deputy CFO and treasurer on a permanent basis and is looking for a new CFO. City of Dreams, which is on the Cotai Strip of reclaimed land in Macau, has delivered a solid performance since opening its doors in June last year. Its revenues were boosted in July by a 70% gain in Macau gaming revenue, helped by the soccer World Cup.
Macau's July gross gambling revenue was 16.3 billion Macanese patacas ($2.2bn) compared with 9.6 billion patacas a year earlier and 13.6 billion patacas in June, according to data from Macau's Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau.
While analysts said the pace of growth was expected to slow in coming months, it is expected to remain solid. Melco Crown enjoys a market share of 15% in Macau, behind Stanley Ho's SJM Holdings with 32% and Las Vegas Sands with 19%. On a US GAAP basis, Melco Crown recently reported a net loss for the second quarter of 2010 of $US30.1 million ($33.7m) compared with a net loss of $US144m a year earlier. Crown's investor relations and business development head Anthony Klok has announced his resignation from the Australian-based group. Crown will report its annual results next week. The management changes are being received well by the financial, tourism and gaming sector.

Scam (We Think): Macau’s Melco Crown Scam Targets Belgium...

At least a Belgium investor has been offered to buy shares in Melco Crown Entertainment at a 10% discount by callers claiming to be part of Mitsubishi Group (which includes Japan’s biggest lender), an investigation by Macau Business shows. This follows a group of three Norwegian businessmen who had been made the same offer. Last week, Mitsubishi Group already announced it was investigating the possible scam. Melco Crown will consider taking action after studying the case, spokeswoman Maggie Ma said, quoted by Bloomberg. According to the Belgium investor, who wishes to remain unnamed, the calls were followed up by e-mails and documents linked to an alleged Mitsubishi Group. The documents stressed that the minimum expected return on the investment would be above 150%.
He was proposed to buy a total of 1,500 shares in an investment totalling US$5,302 (MOP42,000). In the documents, Melco Crown is identified as a “star company”, “the term we use to describe the gems that our analytical endeavours tend to discover from time-to-time”. Included in the documentation, there was an international telegraphic transfer form. The beneficiary stated was a company with no Internet presence and the money was to be transferred to a bank account in Taiwan! As sore... no thanks. Confusous say smells like Bull ... Shhh.

Punters, er readers, stay glued to Media Man reports via Gambling911 for more "can't miss" information on the Australian media, gaming, casino and political wars.

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Wrap Up...

Readers... er, punters, what's your view on the Aussie Casino Wars, online poker, online casinos, censorship, internet censorship and freedom of the press? Who will win the Aussie Casino Wars? Do you enjoy adult content (that is legal)? Who are your betting on, and why? Make your voice heard. Tell us in the forum. The big wigs of Australian politics and business read and hang on every word at your beloved Gambling911. From Australia's answer to 'Casino Jack' to 'Outback Jack', they're all her folks. Keep checking daily for updates, Yes Minister, and have another cup of Full Strength Coffee (no caffeine or web filter thanks).

The Late News...

Mildura Star Prop Gaming Steam

Industry No Sure If Star City With Sink Or Swim With $800 Mill Upgrade

PartyGaming Eyes Australia, Asia Pacific; Aussie Millions Promo In The Works

Land Based Punters Moving Towards Online Casino Portals

Pro Gaming Campaigners Combating Casino And Gaming Haters

Liberal Party Open To Gaming Co Proposals; Internet Policy Tie Ins

If your going to have a bet, please bet your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming and offer political commentary and analysis.

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