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11 May 2011

Australian And New Zealand Gambling News, by Greg Tingle - 10th May 2011



Australia and New Zealand continues to be a hotbed for gambling, casino and political news. Media Man continues to deliver the best...

Aussie Anti Gambling Crusader Victim Of Smear Campaign...

The pokies sector has been accused of mounting a smear campaign against the independent MP spearheading moves to protect problem gamblers. Andrew Wilkie told Parliament some in the industry were desperate to stop "this historic opportunity for federal intervention in problem gambling". Wilkie was tabling a report on a mandatory pre-commitment system for poker machines. The report, whose substance was released last week, calls for a pre-commitment system, in which players can't bet beyond a nominated limit, on all machines that allow a single bet of more than $1. Wilkie, who chairs the committee, said it was unfortunate the Opposition had decided not to support the move. He said the industry had launched a multi-million dollar advertising fear campaign. "Intense political lobbying and a smear campaign against me personally show how desperate some in the industry are to overturn this historic opportunity for federal intervention in problem gambling," he said. Wilkie said many in the industry expressed concern about problem gambling, but others criticised the work of the Productivity Commission and its estimates of problem gambling. There was continual misrepresentation of evidence from pre-commitment trials, exaggeration of compliance costs, complaints about timelines, overstatements of contributions to the community and the blaming of problem gamblers for an addiction caused by a fundamentally unsafe product. Wilkie has made support for poker machine reforms a condition of his backing the Labor government.

Tabcorp Wins Vic Keno licence...

Tabcorp has won the Victorian Keno licence for the next 10 years, which is fully expected to add $20 million per annum to the gambling and gaming company's earnings.
Shares in Tabcorp gained 13 cents, or 1.7%, to $7.89 by 9.15am, their highest level since October 2008. Tabcorp, which is Australia's biggest Keno operator, paid a fee of $60 million in April for the licence, which will operate from April 15, 2012, the Melbourne-based company said in a statement. The Victorian Minister for Gaming tabled the Victorian Keno licence and agreement on May 5. The new Keno licence would require Tabcorp to return at least 75% of the total amount received as prizes to players. Of the remaining player expenditure, the state and Commonwealth Governments would receive a third, including GST. Tabcorp said the Victorian Keno operations would add $20 million per year in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, assuming the game was rolled out to at least 1,000 venues, as expected. The EBITDA contribution from Keno in NSW and Queensland in the 2010 financial year was $54 million.

Land Based Casinos Set To Look On Pokies Reform...

Slot machine reforms proposed by independent MP Andrew Wilkie would slash up to $280 million from the takings of casino operators in their first year of operation, analysts estimate. James Packer's Crown and Tabcorp's casino group, including Star City, could each see revenue slump by more than $100 million, according to Merrill Lynch analyst Nathan Gee. In a note to clients, Gee said the mandatory commitment scheme proposed by Mr Wilkie would also hurt manufacturer Aristocrat by cutting demand for new machines. But casino operators would see profit "rebound" in later years as players adapted to the new rules, he said. On Friday a parliamentary inquiry into gambling, chaired by Mr Wilkie, gave mandatory commitment the go-ahead over objections from Coalition MPs. The scheme would limit the amount players can lose each day on "high-intensity" machines, which can take in more than $1000 an hour, about the price of an expensive you know what. The prop faces a mean reception from the states, which depend on poker-machine tax revenue, and key independent MPs Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter also have reservations about its effect on smaller clubs. Merrill Lynch estimates the scheme would cut poker machine revenue by between 10 and 20% in its first year, proposed to be 2014.That translates to a revenue hit for Tabcorp's casino arm, Echo Entertainment, of between $53 million and $106 million, which would carve up to 13.1 per cent from its profit. Echo, which is to be spun off from Tabcorp, runs Sydney's Star City as well as casinos in Brisbane, Townsville and the Gold Coast. Crown's revenue is expected to fall by between $72 million and $145 million, cutting profit by up to 8.6%. New Zealand's Sky City Entertainment, which runs casinos in Auckland, Queenstown, Adelaide and Darwin, is predicted to see its revenue fall by between $16 million and $31 million, cutting profit by 4.3%. The gaming industry is deeply opposed to the plan. Tabcorp boss Elmer Funke Kupper described it as akin to building a second Centrelink, and Clubs Australia launched a campaign criticising it as "un-Australian". While Clubs Australia abandoned its campaign after a public backlash, the industry is continuing its heavy lobbying of the government.

SkyCity Adelade Set For Redevelopment...

SkyCity is being urged to proceed with its $250 million redevelopment of the Adelaide Casino to kickstart the city's Riverbank Precinct. Advantage Adelaide chief executive Nikki Seymour-Smith said yesterday the Oval approval should clear the way for SkyCity to take the next step."Many of us thought since the Oval had been given the tick that would mean the Casino redevelopment would be on its way," she said. "Where there are technical difficulties or regulatory procedures they need to overcome, that is a matter for them, but I think the proposal they shared with us is vital for that precinct. "It would be a terrible disappointment if that development did not go ahead." SkyCity previously raised concern about the level of state government taxes and regulation applying to its Adelaide operations. It also said there would be no investment decision on the Adelaide Casino redevelopment until it was clear where federal mandatory pre-commitment laws for poker machines were headed. Business SA chief executive Peter Vaughan said SkyCity needed to lobby the Federal Government directly on issues relating to pre-commitment but believed there were no more impediments to the redevelopment. "The path has been cleared. The (state) taxation regime is the taxation regime," he said. "SkyCity obviously have to deal with the government but the Adelaide Oval redevelopment has been given the big tick and it clears the path for the redevelopment of the Casino." SkyCity managing director Nigel Morrison yesterday said the company was committed to redeveloping the Adelaide Casino and even waived aside concern about proposed federal gambling reforms. He said State Government regulation remained the key question to the project's viability. "There is some concern about the Federal Government but provided it doesn't jeopardise the average punter I have no doubt that will be no impediment," he said. "We think it will be reasonable at the end of the day. "All we are asking for (from the State Government) is for a level playing field with Melbourne and Sydney so we can compete."

SkyCity Shares Down...

SkyCity Entertainment Group, the casino and hotel operator which owns a 50% stake in New Zealand's - South Island's biggest gaming venue, fell 0.5% to $3.71. Chief executive Nigel Morrison said it will be several months before the Christchurch Casino is fully operational again following the February earthquake, although it's likely to reopen on partial basis by the end of the month.

Aussie Rock Gods INXS Play Moncton Casino On July 7...

Australian rock group INXS is going to perform at Casino New Brunswick's Entertainment Centre in Moncton in July. The band, performing in support of new album Original Sin, will start the rock n roller Thursday, July 7 at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. Over the span of the band's 30-year career, INXS has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. They have scored hits on four different continents and have received MTV Awards, World Music Awards, two Grammy nominations, British Music Awards and Gold, Platinum and Diamond sales status on their records. They have also performed over 4,000 live shows for more than 25 million people in almost 50 countries. First as the Farriss Brothers, then as INXS, the band is made up of brothers Tim, Jon and Andrew Farriss, along with Kirk Pengilly and Garry Gary Beers. Original INXS singer Michael Hutchence died in 1997 via a dark and adventurous sexual method and has been replaced at various times by different singers, notably J.D. Fortune who grew up in Nova Scotia. Fortune is fronting the band on stage, but on Original Sin new versions of classic INXS hits were recorded with various vocalists, including Train's Pat Monahan, Rob Thomas and Ben Harper. Tickets for the Moncton INXS show go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m. Casino execs think INXS will boost numbers to the venue and should see more folks trying their luck on casino games. Sounds like something to check out.

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

*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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