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09 April 2011

Asia Pacific Mega Gambling News Update, by Greg Tingle - 9th April 2011

In what must be the busiest gambling and casino news time so far this year, Media Man and Gambling911 continue to pound the pavement to bring you the best and most entertaining, red hot news available anywhere. Media Man and Gambling911 with the Asia Pacific - Australian - Kiwi special...

Newcastle NSW War Pokie Laws...

New poker machine restrictions proposed by Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie will "annihilate" pubs and clubs in the Hunter, leaving hundreds out of work, ClubsNSW Newcastle councillor Jon Chin says. Clubs Australia is launching a $20 million advertising campaign on Monday in an attempt to prevent the introduction of mandatory pre-commitment technology for all poker machines. Banjo, a John "Singo" Singleton company is behind the campaign. Mandatory pre-commitment requires pokies users to commit to a spending limit before they begin gambling. Once they reach that limit they will be unable to gamble again until the following day or longer, depending on what restrictions the player sets for themselves. Chin said the cost of implementing the new technology in the Hunter region would surpass $100 million. This figure did not include the 40% in revenue clubs would experience once the restrictions were imposed, he said. "This means Hunter clubs will lose another $100 million, making it impossible for us to sustain our businesses," he said. Australian Hotels Association Hunter sub-branch vice-president Bruce Woods said there was no evidence to suggest the restrictions would discourage people from gambling. "This won't help pathological gamblers at all but it will lead to a loss of jobs," he said. "We support the clubs' campaign against this, it will affect pubs just as much as clubs".

Online Gaming Strong Growth In Asia...

Online gaming industry has grown into a $US3 billion business that provides a good standard of living to migrant workers in Asia who play games all day and sometimes, all night! Virtual currency is all the rage, it sometimes gets sold to punters abroad for cash. A World Bank study demonstrates an emerging industry in which firms seeking to boost their brands' popularity pay low-skilled workers overseas to become their Facebook fans or Twitter followers. The study, Knowledge Map of the Virtual Economy, is the World Bank's first in-depth look at the impact of online gaming and social media in the developing world. Vili Lehdonvirta, a co-author of the report, advised that the bank should not pour its money into the industry, because he said the deal making violated some of the game publishers' terms of service and was cheating. Known in the business as "gold farming", the game-playing boomed in the early 2000s with games like World of Warcraft and has evolved considerably. Labourers in Asia spend numerous hours each day advancing through levels of an online game, picking up gold, swords and gems that enhance a game player's status. Then gaming studios, which employ the players, sell those virtual goods to online retailers. Next step, the retailers sell on those goods to more than 120 million players globally, many of them in Europe and North America, who don't want to play the games day and night to gather their own. The bank's report indicates that online gaming has a positive impact in Asia because 70% of the industry's revenue remains in the gaming countries, with most of that money going to the gaming studios. Compared with the $US70 billion coffee market...in which only a tiny fraction of the revenue remains in the bean-growing countries...the gaming industry had a "much better development impact", the report states. A report survey checks out on a group of 26 players and studio managers that offers a rough, yet rare demographic look at their lives. Most of the players work out of studios in China, in Beijing or Changsha, capital of Hunan province. They earn an average wage of $US2.70 an hour, $US1 more than Beijing's minimum wage for part-time factory work. "The larger point is that online gaming is often viewed as exploitation, Lehdonvirta said. "Certainly it's not a dream career, but the players are not at sweatshop levels." The gaming studios keep about 60% of the industry's $US3 billion in revenue. Readers, would you like to be a prize gather for the gaming studios on that level of pay? Better not answer!

Samoan Casino Proposal Has Social Concerns For Kiwi, Samoan Locals...

All these places have land based casinos - Las Vegas, Monte Carlo, Macau, Melbourne and just maybe soon - Apia in Samoa. Some business folks have earmarked it as a future gambling destination, and Kiwi group, the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand, is advising against it, citing social harms of a casino will outweigh any economical benefits that the Samoan government will hope to achieve. In an admission of the dangers of gambling, the proposed casino in Apia will attempt to bar locals by only allowing the holders of foreign passports to gamble. Problem #1... many locals have duplicate passports, so getting in to a casino for locals may not be that hard, and don't even bring up the subject of fake ID. Will the region get a land based casino? Stay tuned for updates.

Clubs Australia War On Gillard Labor Government Re Pokie Laws...

Clubs Australia has declared "open warfare" on the Gillard government, preparing a $20 million media campaign to try to stop laws to limit how much punters can spend on poker machines. Last year "Tasmanian Devil" (MM satire) independent MP Andrew Wilkie backed Labor to form a minority government in return for a clampdown on the use of poker machines. Now, the lobby that represents clubs and pubs is wrestling and punching back, with a media blitz targeting Wilkie and Prime Minister Julie Gillard. Both Wilkie and Gillard are in big trouble in the popularity polls, with Labor set to lose the next federal election, following their NSW loss, where it was bloody and crimson mass. Billboards, a website, beer coasters and more It's war on nationwide. The campaign has been criticised as misleading for claiming punters will need a licence to gamble. Clubs Australia executive director Anthony Ball rejects that. "What we do know is that everyone who plays a poker machine will need to register and obtain a card, and then insert it into a poker machine and set a binding limit. There needs to be player tracking, because how else does the machine know what the player is doing? It will have your private details and your gambling history on it. Now if that's not a licence, I don't know what is." Under Wilkie's master plan, gamblers would have to nominate a dollar figure for how much they are prepared to lose before they start gambling, a scheme known as "mandatory pre-commitment". Wilkie wants the law in place by 2014 and he has the backing of South Australian independent Senator Nick 'Mr X' (MM satire) Xenophon. Senator Xenophon describes the Clubs Australia campaign as a "joke". "This industry is willing to spend $20 million of tax-break money that they get from community clubs - effectively taxpayers' monies, indirectly - to peddle lies in terms of a campaign where they haven't even seen what the final report will say. Whether it's $20 million or $200 million, this mob can spend as much as they like, but they can't spin that they are causing enormous damage out in the community. There are 300,000 Australians who either have a severe gambling problem because of poker machines, or are already showing the signs of one."

Proposed Pokie Laws With Cost 10,000's of Aussie Jobs...

Clubs Australia advise the changes will cost jobs. They want it to be a voluntary scheme and have rejected a government request to hold off on the ad war. "It will cost jobs, for the simple reason that asking Australians to sign on to this licence to gamble will mean they'll do something else," Mr Ball said. "They'll go and gamble online where none of these controls exist, or they they'll go to the TAB - they won't do it at the club.Even the proponent of this, Andrew Wilkie, is saying that this will cost up to 40% of revenue."
It's all hot fodder in Aussie Parliament too. Liberal Steve Ciobo sits on the joint committee on gambling reform, which has been hearing arguments pro and con against a mandatory pre-commitment scheme. "The committee was charged by the Labor party with the responsibility to look at a roll-out of pre-commitment," he said. "But Coalition members will be putting in a dissenting report because the evidence is clear that it's going to cost jobs, it's going to cost investment, and I'm concerned based on the evidence that it will make problem gambling potentially worse." The committee is due to report in the next few weeks. The states and territories have until the end of May to decide if they will agree to the Wilkie-led reforms. If they refuse, the Commonwealth believes it has the power to introduce overriding legislation to impose a national scheme. The pokie industry has shown the willingness to wrestle all the way to the next election, and perhaps even beyond. It's the lovers VS the haters. Who will win, and when will the final victor emerge. Stay tuned.


Sky City Entertainment Group Stocks Fall From Sky...


Sky City Entertainment Group, the casino and hotel operator, fell 0.9% to $3.41 amid media reports that overseas competitors were looking to hire the 500 staff made redundant or on leave without pay due to the closure of the Christchurch Casino. SkyCity owns a 50% stake in the business.

Casino Bouncer Thought Disabled Bloke Was Drunk...

A South Australian man with deasiese cerebral palsy says he was refused entry to the Adelaide Casino because the bouncer thought he was drunk. Mark Thiele was on a big night out with friends when he attempted to enter the casino, but was refused by a bouncer aka "gorilla". Thiele says the bouncer mistakenly thought he was drunk, but the casino is sticking by its decision. "I had said to the man that I wasn't a drunk, I was crippled," said Thiele, talking about his rejection on 7.30 South Australia. "He had said to me he was convinced I was intoxicated even though we said that I had only had a few drinks earlier on in the evening. "So I can't see why I was singled out and everybody else in my party wasn't. There was no difference between any of us besides the obvious. It's a mystery to me really." Last month, he and his friends had walked to the casino from the city's Hindley Street entertainment strip a few blocks away. Thiele has trouble moving his body and for him, walking distances is a big effort. His mate Aaron Nettlebeck says the casino bouncer did not understand. "Walking that sort of distance does get very, very sweaty over that sort of short period. It was a bit infuriating that it happened like that after such a nice evening." Thiele says he has not had a problem at venues until now. "For the vast majority it's never been a problem. Bouncers that I've come into contact with have been understanding and even let me skip the line a few times just to put me at ease," he said. "Obviously it's a stamina thing that I can't walk these long distances and stand in lines and all of these things." He says he is considering lodging a complaint with the commission or under South Australia's liquor laws.The casino's general manager, David Christian, has offered an apology of sorts. "It was certainly not our intention that Mark would have felt discriminated against and I'm sorry that he does feel that way," he said. But he is defending the actions of his staff. "They believe that they made the right call. I would believe that with the calibre we have and the training we put into our security officers, and the level of management that oversees it, that they would be right most of the time."

New Zealand Christchurch Casino Workers Hurting From Earthquake Financial Aftershocks...

Financial and emotional aftershocks are still be felt by the casino sector after a series of earthquakes that rocked the Asia Pacific - Japan and New Zealand region. Christchurch Casino workers are feeling disappointed and even depressed after having failed attempt to get a bigger redundancy payday. In excess of 500 formally happy and motivated casino employees were offered redundancy at the central Christchurch casino last weekend, which was badly damaged in the February 22 quake and has stayed closed ever since the act of mother nature. Anyone who wants to stay at the casino will be paid their holiday pay as either a weekly amount or in a "lump sum". Simply put, they will remain as employees of the land based casino on leave without pay until the the gambling den opens again. The SFWU (Service and Food Workers' Union), which reps for 100 plus casino workers, has a meeting with the casino's managers on Thursday. SFWU strategic industry boss Len 'Razor' (MM tag) Richards said workers were sombre but firm in their desire about securing a more attractive redundancy package. The union power that be were also asking for continued pay for employees that choose to stay on until the casino opens again. However, he advised management was not prepared to increase the amount of redundancy pay for staff, but did agree to request for a government wage subsidy. Due to a private insurance deal and policy in place, the land based casino has not relied upon the $1.5 million government subsidy available for quake-affected businesses. Richards stated that the union has contacted earthquake recovery minister Gerry Brownlee to request assistance to help pay workers who remain employed. SkyCity, half owner of the famous Christchurch Casino, has projected a $130 million plus profit this year. It's not known how much financially the quake cost Christchurch Casino or SkyCity. Christchurch Casino top sheep er top dog...chief executive Brett 'Ask Him' (MM satire) Anderson said about 70% of employees have indicated they will stay with the company rather than take the offered redundancy. He said a number of employees are also being offered jobs offshore. Anderson elaborated "I'm getting phone calls from Australia looking for our people and likewise all over New Zealand, and a few of them have spread their wings. More than a few have gone over to the Gold Coast. It's a lot warmer, it's a lot more stable, you can swim in the sea, the pay rates are better." Anderson said he still does not know when the casino will reopen.Employees have a deadline until Monday to decide whether they will take the redundancy package or stay on. Yep, it's the money or the box. Workers who have not contacted the company by showdown at 5pm on Monday will be deemed to have left their jobs and will be paid out a four-weeks-notice payment, along with their annual leave entitlements. Casino workers, did you get that. D Day is approaching.

A Media Man spokesperson said "In the current global economy anyone with a decent job should be grateful, especially in the casino or gaming sector. Well done to Christchurch Casino management for doing their utmost to assist in their difficult times. Employers will always want to ask for more... its in the nature. Land based casinos generally remain popular around the world so good staff will always be in demand."

Media Man and Gambling911 wish all parties well with their dealings, and hopefully some win - win - wins will still be possible.

States Probe Sports Betting Ads...

Aussie states are uniting to consider a crackdown on an explosion in advertising of sports betting, Victoria's Gaming Minister says. Michael O'Brien last night revealed the betting blitz on sport was being examined by the Council of Australian Governments. "There is growing concern at the extent to which is becoming inseparable from the coverage of major sporting events. Kids are being exposed to it constantly just by watching the footy or cricket," he said.AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said the league had expressed its concerns to stadium managers. Goal posts, boundary line fences and scoreboards at the MCG and Etihad Stadium have been plastered with ads from bookmakers. Demetriou said the alarm was raised during last year's Brownlow Medal telecast. "There seemed to be an enormous amount of (gambling) advertising after each break," he told press. O'Brien said the AFL, which enjoys lucrative sponsorship arrangements with gambling giants, could take responsibility through its media and stadium deals. "It may be that there's an opportunity for this influence to be exercised to ensure the promotion of sports betting isn't allowed to detract from family-friendly objectives of (such) sports," he said. This week, former Demon Daniel Ward revealed in the the newspapers his battle with gambling. "It's always in your face," he said of the ads. "It's like being a drug addict and an advert comes on saying, 'The first 50 people to ring will get a free bag of marijuana'."

Hawkins Former Ms Univervese Lookalike Kahili Blundell Wins Ralph Swimwear Title At Star...

Sin City Sydney babe Kahili Blundell has snatched the Ralph Australian Swimwear Model of the Year comp. The Crows Nest bikini super babe bested more than 2000 babes from all over Australia and Kiwi land to grab the coveted title at Sin Sydney's Star City Casino on Thurday. "I feel more than special right now, I'm blown away and so honoured to be given this position," Blundell said. "I was expecting him to call another number and I stood there thinking 27, is that me? "It's also my boyfriend's birthday, but I realised it was me and I was shivering." The 21-year-old Jennifer Hawkins lookalike works as a personal assistant and dabbles in makeup artistry in her spare time. Blundell says modelling has been tough, slogging it out for 3 years. "Since November I've been training every week for this, thinking about it every night," she said. "I've been brought up to eat very healthy, so I don't have too much trouble doing that, but I definitely exercise a lot. I've been working very hard so thank god it's all paid off." The comp saw the 38 finalists strut their stuff in catwalk parades. Sex bikinis were all the rage. A select group of a bakers dozen were picked, then reigning champ Emmi Moore handed over her sash and championship title to Blundell. "I've been doing this for three years now and this is exactly what I've been dreaming and hoping for," Blundell said. "I'm open to any opportunity and I love challenges. I've obviously done well in the bikini field, so I might just continue on this track for a little while." Burlesque babe Sina King from Underbelly home Melbourne snatched runner-up while second runner-up went to 21-year-old writer - journo type Tiffany Baker from Fremantle in Western Australia.

Australian Boxer Katsidis To Fight Guerrero In MGM Grand Casino Las Vegas Bloody Sunday...

Down under's Australia's Michael Katsidis and his opponent in Sunday's (AEST) interim lightweight world-title fight at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Casino, America's Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero, also have powerful stories. Guerrero's world was crushed big time circa 2007 when his wife, Casey, was diagnosed with leukemia. The Californian gave up boxing, giving up his world-title, so he could be by Casey's side and stay close to their young children as she underwent a bone-marrow transplant. Things are now looking up for Guerrero. "Casey has been cancer free for almost a year now," 28-year-old Guerrero, the number one ranked lightweight in the world and a former featherweight and super featherweight champion, said. Last year Katsidis' was having a dream run. The likable 30-year-old blokefrom Toowoomba celebrated his first wedding anniversary with wife Kumiko. He loved being a dad to their one-year-old daughter Kalia and was preparing for the biggest bout of his career, a world-title fight in Las Vegas against Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez. Things quickly went downhill when five weeks before the Marquez fight he learned his 31-year-old brother, champion Australian jockey (horse racing) Stathi Katsidis, had passed away. Just days later Katsidis' longtime trainer, Brendon Smith, received two more bad news calls. Smith's nephew got paralysed from the chest down in an accident and one of the trainer's former boxers passed away. "We got it all within three weeks and just before the Marquez fight," Smith said. Katsidis and Smith made the call to keep training at their Thai boxing camp and take on Marquez at the MGM Grand Casino, a match that would be voted the Fight of the Year after Katsidis floored Marquez to the mat in the third round. Marquez guts and balls by getting up and pounding Katsidis so badly ref Kenny Bayless ended the match in the ninth round, giving Marquez a ninth round technical knockout victory. On the eve of the Guerrero fight, Katsidis and Smith, who kept quite before the Marquez bout, finally opened up about their personal tragedies. Katsidis did not sleep two days before the Marquez fight. "He was emotionally spent before he got in the ring and to do what he did under the circumstances was incredible," Smith said. "I believe if something doesn't kill you it only makes you stronger," Katsidis said. Guerrero has 22 knockouts in his 27 professional victories. "This is truly a fight for boxing fans," Guerrero, who has a 28 win (18 KO), one loss professional record, said. "You are going to see two guys go at it and give it their all." The winner of the match will be named the interim World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organisation lightweight champions. Promoter 'Golden Boy' Oscar De La Hoya has named the MGM card "Action Heroes", with another Mexican legend, Erik Morales, fighting Argentina's exciting welterweight contender Marcos Maidana and in another welterweight battle, Brooklyn's Paulie Malignaggi VS Jose Miguel Cotto. The matches will be broadcast live in Australia on Sunday from 11am AEST by Main Event pay-per-view. "For a boxing card, sounds like it will be value for money for a bit of a change", said a Media Man insider.

Punters, er readers, stay glued to Media Man reports via Gambling911 for more "can't miss" information on Australian, New Zealand and global casino news, wars, and general land based and online casino news.

*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.

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