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28 November 2010

Asia Pacific, Aussie Gambling And Entertainment News, by Greg Tingle - 27th November 2010

G'day punters, casino and gambling millionaires and billionaires, poker nuts, politicians, super whales, journalists, politicians... one and all. Today we dish up an Australian and Oriental giant size feast. Media Man and Gambling911 circumnavigate the globe to satisfy your culinary delights. 2, 4, 6, 8, dig in, don't wait...

Shane Warne TV Update...

Warnie sweetly beat Channel Ten shows The Good Wife and House. Australian TV critics expressed some optimism after viewing the first Warnie. Herald Sun's TV writer Colin Vickery went with the show "a solid first innings". "Warne doesn't have the skills of the famed British interviewer (Michael Parkinson) but the former Aussie spin king has a knockabout charm that brought out the best in his guests," Vickery said. Veteran interviewer and radio host Derryn Hinch told the newspaper he was pleasantly surprised after initially fearing the show "had bogan written all over it". "Take it for what it is, it's entertainment and I think Shane Warne has, what I've seen at this stage, done a pretty good job," Derryn 'The Human Headline' Hinch said. "It's just straight up and down, it's folksy and chatty, it's light and entertaining and it will go quite well." Professional blogger Karl Quinn, from The National Times, a Fairfax Media publication scribed the program as "neither a disaster nor a world-changing event". "It was exactly what you might expect from Shane Warne: affable, blokey, and not to be taken too seriously," Quinn said. Other celebrities to feature on the show include Sting, Pink, Chris Martin and Daniel Radcliffe. Quotes From Warnie And Guests...Warne: "Did you ever think, 'I wish I could be a plumber for a day, or drive a truck and deliver beds or deliver pizzas?'" Packer: "To be honest, not a lot. I sometimes wished I was you, but if I can't be you I'm happy being me." Sam Kekovich: "A life spent making mistakes is more honourable and more useful than a life spent doing nothing," he said. Claiming he was quoting George Bernard Shaw, but everyone knew who he was really talking about. Our rating: 9.5 out of 10. Yep, Warnie hit em for 6, with Packer chipping in being a good sport, making sure it would be a success. Not quite a Packer whacker, but not a puff piece either. Warnie could well be heading for a jackpot next week. Don't change your dial, and always remember to spin to win.

Melco Crown Entertainment's Altira Macau Awarded Forbes Five Star Ratings for the Second Year...

Melco Crown Entertainment Limited, a developer and owner of casino gaming and entertainment resort facilities focused on the Macau market, announced today that Altira Macau has been awarded the Forbes Five Star ratings in both Lodging and Spa categories for the second consecutive year. Altira Macau is a luxurious casino hotel located in Taipa, Macau, which is developed, owned and operated by Melco Crown Entertainment. Mr. Lawrence Ho, Co-Chairman and CEO of Melco Crown Entertainment, said: "We are honored to receive this very prestigious recognition again for Altira Macau's exceptional commitment in ensuring each and every guest experiences the true art of hospitality. Altira Macau has emerged as the top choice for travelers seeking flawless comfort and sophistication during their stay in the city. "Altira Macau represents Melco Crown Entertainment's in-depth understanding of the hospitality landscape in Asia and its commitment to the diversification of Macau's tourism industry. The awards reinforce our role in the transformation of Macau into an international travel and leisure destination for the most discerning guests." Forbes Five-Star Lodging Awards are granted to hotels with exceptionally distinctive luxury environment, offering consistently superlative, personalized service and extensive amenities and treatments. Forbes Five-Star Spa Awards are granted in recognition of the same level of exceptionally distinctive spa experiences located within a hotel.

Politics And Gambling Do Or Don't Mix? You Be The Judge...

Problem gambling report strengthens resolve for gambling reforms...(Greens)

ACT Greens Parliamentary Convenor, Meredith Hunter MLA, has described a Gambling and Racing Commission report into problem gambling as timely and an informative addition to moves by the Greens and Government to reform ACT gaming machine laws. “This report very clearly identifies the mood in the Canberra community for reforms that do more to reduce the harms caused by problem gambling,” Ms Hunter said. “The report shows that more than 5% or 14,000 Canberrans show symptoms of problem gambling. “What is even more troubling is that only 19% of those who do have a gambling problem have even accessed a problem gambling service. It is often not until problem gamblers seriously consider suicide that they seek help. “A Greens Bill before the Assembly is targeted at securing adequate funding for problem gambling support services and further research into gambling. “These services need more funding in order to be accessible and to reach people before they are in crisis. “The Greens legislation is designed to work with other reforms which have been flagged both locally and federally,” Ms Hunter said.

The Greens Gaming Machine Amendment Bill:

- Requires licence holders to contribute 0.75% of their gross gaming machine revenue to the Problem Gambling Assistance Fund
- The fund is to be managed and distributed by the Gambling and Racing Commission to organisations that provide assistance to problem gamblers
- This new funding would mean around $1.3 million is dedicated to addressing problem gambling, an increase of $0.9m on what was allocated by the clubs this year.

Candidate deals out criticism over casino support ads...

An independent candidate in the seat of Mildura is threatening legal action unless the National party withdraws television advertisements that began airing at the weekend. The ads say candidate Glenn Milne supports the proposed Jewel Casino, although Mr Milne has publicly stated he is not in favour of the development. The Nationals say by exchanging second preferences with pro-casino candidate Doug Tonge, Mr Milne is effectively supporting the casino. However, Mr Milne says the ads are wrong. "No and that has never been my campaign. I think the Nationals, they're the ones running it, they're really starting to grab at straws now because they are worried about losing the seat with their lacklustre member," he said.

New report shows extent of gambling in the ACT...

Minister for Gaming and Racing Andrew Barr said a new report released today on the prevalence of gambling in the Canberra community highlighted the need for the ACT Government to introduce reforms to address problem gambling. “The Prevalence Study into Gambling and Problem Gambling in the ACT, by the Australian National University’s Centre for Gambling Research, is the most significant study of its kind to be conducted in the ACT since 2001,” Mr Barr said. “The level of problem gambling in the Territory was measured as 0.5 percent of the adult population, which is about 1370 adults. This compares to 0.4 percent in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia and 0.7 percent in Victoria. “The report found that 45 percent of people gambling weekly or more on activities other than scratch tickets and lotteries, had at least some symptoms of problem gambling and 5.6 percent were identified as problem gamblers. “55 percent of those who played gaming machines weekly or more often were experiencing some symptoms of problem gambling and just under nine percent, or one in eleven, were classified as problem gamblers.” The study found 70 percent of adults in the ACT had gambled at least once in the last 12 months. Thirty percent of adults (or 82,000 people) had played gaming machines in that period and 10 percent of gaming machine users played weekly or more. The study also found 70.3 percent of Canberrans thought ATMs should not be available in gaming machine venues and 57.8 percent thought the number of gaming machines should be reduced in the ACT.
Mr Barr said the ACT Government was committed to addressing problem gambling and had flagged a significant package of reforms to the Assembly earlier this month. “As part of the total reform package, the Government supported in-principle a Bill from the ACT Greens to introduce a mandatory contribution by the operators of gaming machines to a central problem gambling assistance fund,” Mr Barr said. “While supporting the Greens Bill in-principle, the Government will propose that the problem gambling assistance levy be set at 0.6 per cent, rather than the 0.75 per cent proposed by the ACT Greens. “We will also reduce the number of gaming machines in the ACT’s gaming machine ‘cap’ by 143 which would see the number of machines available in the territory drop from 5200 to 5057. “Multi-venue club groups will be able to transfer gaming machines internally subject to the social impact and needs assessment currently outlined in the Gaming Machine Act 2004. “The reforms also outlined an increase in the required percentage of community contributions from 7 per cent to 8 per cent of net gaming machine revenue and the consideration of requiring other operators, such as Casino Canberra and ACTTAB Ltd, to contribute to the gambling assistance fund in the future.” Mr Barr said there were some positive findings in the study. The ACT gambling participation rate had fallen slightly in the last decade and between 2000-01 and 2007-08 per capita gambling expenditure in the ACT fell by 21 percent in real terms. “But alarmingly the study also showed those with gambling problems often didn’t reach out for help. The ACT Government will continue to work with clubs and support groups to try to increase the number of people seeking support services,” Mr Barr said. “I will also continue to work with local clubs and the Federal Government when it comes to reforms to address problem gambling."

Burswood Casino Gets Yet More Violence...

An 18-year-old man underwent surgery after a fight broke out on the dance floor of a venue at Burswood Casino in the early hours of yesterday. Police spokesman Samuel Dinnison advised that a group of men began fighting, and the 18-year-old victim received a head wound. He said the victim alleged that one of the men threw a glass bottle at his head, but said he could not yet confirm if the bottle broke on his head, or that the incident was a glassing. Dinnison said the bottle may not have broken, and the blunt force of the bottle may have caused the injuries. Another man was taken into police custody and questioned over the incident, but he was released without charge. The victim is in a stable condition and will undergo surgery later today at Royal Perth Hospital.

ACT: Getting Help For Problem Gamblers: Last Resort...

A new study has found most problem gamblers in the ACT do not seek help until they are considering suicide. The research carried out by the Australian National University for the ACT Gaming and Racing Commission found 70 per cent of Canberra adults gambled at least once in the past year. Researchers surveyed 5,500 residents, making it the most significant study of its kind conducted in the Territory since 2001. Nearly 60 per cent of those surveyed want the number of pokies in the ACT reduced and more than 70 per cent think ATMs should be banned from poker machine venues. According to the survey, less than 1 per cent of Canberrans are considered to be problem gamblers. "If you benchmark the rest of Australia the ACT is about in the middle," said ACT Gaming and Racing Commission CEO Greg Jones. "We're talking just the problem gamblers those that scored the highest risk on this index, they made up 0.5 per cent of the total adult population. That compares to 0.4 per cent in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia but Victoria was 0.7 per cent." But Mr Jones says the number of people with symptoms of problem gambling is of growing concern. "We're talking about those that are low and medium risk which are getting close to showing some of those signs," he said. "What we found in our survey was 5.3 per cent of our adult population are showing some signs or some symptoms of problem gambling and that's about 15,000 adults in the ACT. "The survey found problem gamblers and those at risk do not usually seek help until they are at risk of or are contemplating suicide. Mr Jones says it appears seeking help is a last resort. "This is very disturbing. This is going to be the focus of the Commission and ANU's future research," he said. "That came as a little bit of surprise to us and that is going to be our focus over the next few years, identifying who the problem gamblers are and what their issues are and why they don't seek help are of our research over the next few years. "Maybe we need to change the way we market our health services. Maybe we need to change how we deliver our health services." Lifeline Canberra CEO Mike Zissler says the finding is concerning. "This is part of the evidence we have. When we do our intake with people we talk to them extensively and we find about 20 per cent have thoughts of suicide," he said. "How we get people to come and avail them of our services is a real issue. "It's a challenge we face as we move forward."

'Not the answer'

Jeff House from ClubsACT says the report has some useful data but he would be worried if the ACT Government based new policies on it. "I think what the report shows is that we have to get better at providing services to the people that need them," he said. "Every time a measure like banning ATMs comes up, there's a very simple question that needs to be asked - will this help the problem gamblers? "I don't think we should be demonising all people who gamble. We need to target problem gamblers and those at risk. We need to deal with them sensitively and effectively. Treating every gambler as a problem gambler is not going to achieve that." Mr House says banning ATMs and reducing the number of poker machines is not the answer. "If we have more widespread and more sophisticated education campaigns, that would help," he said. "I think there is a range of things we can do and we should be talking about those things rather than these sort of broadbrush measures like reducing machine numbers and banning ATMs."

Pokies cut

The ACT Government says it might have to ask the Commonwealth for more money to compensate for any drop in poker machine revenue. At the launch of the report, Gaming Minister Andrew Barr foreshadowed cutting 143 poker machine licences bringing the number in Canberra to just over 5,000. However Mr Barr admits the Government would feel the cost of that decision through decreased taxation revenue. "The nett gaming machine revenue is in the order of $175 million - the ACT Govt collects about $35 million in taxation," he said. "We know the Territory budget couldn't survive without that level of revenue, that's effectively one per cent of the territory budget, but I think we'd all be more comfortable if we were less reliant on that revenue base."

Sydney - Five Dock Pokie Plans On The Way; Council And Residents At War!...

Five Docks's Illinois Hotel has been given the green light by Canada Bay council to build an outdoor pokies and smoking area. The approval allows for a maximum of eight existing pokie machines and ten people to be in the outdoor area until 3am six days a week. The new and exciting rear area will be built at the back of the hotel where a smoking terrace was illegally built back in 2007. Addressing the meeting, hotel neighbour Arthur Ciantar said the gaming area would increase noise and smoke pollution for those living around the pub, which is a pretty fair dinkum call. "I think it would be unfair for the council to consider this proposal over the welfare of residents and value of our property," Ciantar said. Liberal Michael Megna was one of two councillors who voted against the development application on noise and health grounds. "This is slap bang in the middle of a residential area… sure have a smoking area, but they don’t need pokies in there," Cr Megna said. Before voting in support of the hotel’s alterations, Mayor Angelo Tsirekas said other pubs and clubs such as the Concord RSL, had been allowed to build similar areas. "This is not a precedent, other clubs are doing it...we approved one similar at the last meeting,” Cr Tsirekas said. As part of the development’s conditions, hotel staff will be required to regularly ask patrons to keep the noise down and the volume of pokie machines will have to be kept at a low level. It was not ascertained at the meeting how these provisions would be enforced. Chair of the Gambling Impact Society NSW Kate Roberts said the move will harm those most vulnerable to pokie machines. "The business they are hoping to capture are those most addicted to the machines who, if they want a smoke, will have to push the pause button to go outside," she said. "This means they have to stop the routine or the cycle they’re in and may be more likely to actually think about what they are doing." Illinois Hotel’s manager but did not receive a comment. More fireworks are expects, as other Sin City councils look on with an eagle eye, always on the lookout for more revenue streams. Who will get lucky... the council, the residents, or both?

Americans Taking Over Star City Casino; American - Oriental David Chang To Cook Up Storm At Star...

He's been described as the world's hottest young chef, David Chang, of Momofuku in New York, is opening a restaurant in Sin Sydney... at Star City in fact. In a coup for the operators of Star City, the 33-year-old will open in the revamped casino in September next year. The American-born son of South Korean migrants owns four restaurants, including one with two Michelin stars. He's is on Time magazine's 2010 list of 100 most influential people. Chang mixes classic French training with Asian influences but said: "I just say it's American food and we try to serve something delicious because there's nothing worse in the world than leaving a restaurant and thinking you got ripped off." He was tipped to open his first venue outside New York in Los Angeles but "I've just fallen in love with Australia. I'm just fascinated by the food scene in Sydney and Melbourne. "People are excited about food in Australia. It's fresh and it's energetic. "New York will always be home but there's something in Australia that Americans have never opened up at - Australians are very serious about their food, their coffee culture and their drinks. It's a fascinating place." "It's up in the air. We have some ideas but nothing hammered out." Chang is Star City's headline act for its $860 million redevelopment. He will join a line-up that includes Chase Kojima, formerly with Nobu restaurants, whose restaurant will be in the casino's new five-star hotel. Teage Ezard of Melbourne will open a steak and seafood restaurant, Steve Manfredi will open an Italian restaurant, and the pastry chef Adriano Zumbo will open a cafe. We're hungry, how about you?

Betfair: The Ashes...

Powerhouse betting exchange Betfair is to launch an integrated campaign to coincide with the commencement of the first Ashes Test in less than 24 hours. In the campaign former Ashes winning England captain Michael Vaughan is outed as the ultimate “Urn-coat”...betting against his own country with Betfair during the Ashes. The campaign centres on Vaughan’s attempt to hide his identity as a 'Betfair Australian', and explain why his money is on Australia for this summer’s Ashes. Two unbranded viral video clips were seeded last week prior to the official launch and have so far recieved more than 150,000 hits combined, with some insiders tipping its some sort of record... for the betting meets ad sector down under. Other social media aspects included a colourful Twitter conversation between Vaughan and former Aussie batsman Darren "Boof" Lehmann giving the nod to the viral footage. This surged the 30 second TVCs of the Vaughan interview as well as ink, and a Facebook account that will link Betfair and Vaughan’s Twitter account and outdoor executions. Vaughan will also spend time today (at time of submission) the eve of the first test war...conducting a series of interviews with Australian radio stations. Betfair Australia marketing director David Pisker said: "What could be a simpler expression of our value proposition than having the Ashes-winning Captain of an English cricket team turning his back on Queen and Country to take advantage of Betfair’s superior value on Australia this summer.". The ad is expected to remain on the banned list from Australian TV, even though most tele watchers will chase it up on YouTube.

Rinehart; Australia's Richest Woman Join Network Ten Board...

Ten Network Holdings Ltd advised Gina Rinehart has become a director of the television broadcaster four days after acquiring a 10% stake in the company. Rinehart will join the board following the company's annual general meeting on December 9. Rinehart on November 22 bought a 10% stake in Ten and the company's confirmation of her board seat had been widely expected. The move comes two days after billionaire James Packer carried out his promise to sell half his newly acquired stake in Ten to good mate and fellow billionaire Lachlan Murdoch. Rinehart is the fourth billionaire on the Ten board. Fellow billionaire and WIN TV owner Bruce Gordon holds 14% while Packer and Murdoch each now hold a stake of about nine per cent.

Awards...

It's been a big month for casino awards. Ok, as you read earlier, Macau's Altira Macau was awarded the prestigious Forbes Five Star Ratings for the second year in a row, so Packer and the Ho family continue to work their magic.

PartyGaming's PartyCasino has also come back with seconds, picking up another Media Man 'Online Casino Of The Month Award' for November, and also the parent company, PartyGaming, picked up the prestigious EGR Slots Operator Of The Year Award ...Some other top picks of ours who picked up awards at the EGR night of nights were:
Virgin Games (Affiliate Programme)
Betfair (Innovation, Mobile Operator and UK Sports Betting Operator)
Bwin (European Sports Betting Operator
PKR (Poker Operator)

Oh, we almost forgot...Media Man and Casino News Media 'Casino Babe Of The Month': Jenny Woo, 'Poker Babe': Kara Scott, 'Gambling Babe Personality': Pamela Anderson.

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Wrap Up...

Readers... er, punters, how did you like our report? Did you enjoy the Asia Pacific - Oriental adventure with us? Tell us in the forum.

If you have a bet, please bet with your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun. Bon appetite.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com 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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