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15 June 2011

Australian Gambling News Update, by Greg Tingle - 15th June 2011


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Australia's gambling sector continues to run re hot with both political fun and games and casino expansions and legal matters the order of the day.

Media Man and Gambling911 with the latest and greatest from down under...

Crown Casino Took Advantage Of Whale Punter Harry Kakavas Court Advised...

Folks, here's an update on the situation with Harry...Gambler "wasn't responsible for his own actions", Casino knew millionaire had an addiction - court, Earlier $35m appeal against Crown thrown out

Crown Casino apparently took advantage of millionaire property developer Harry Kakavas by allowing him to play the baccarat tables when it knew he had a pathological gambling addiction, three appeal judges heard yesterday. Allan Myers QC, for Kakavas, said his client was not truly responsible for his own actions when he lost millions at Crown and the Melbourne casino should have refused to deal with him.
Myers told the Court of Appeal that a person betting $300,000 every few seconds at the baccarat table was an indication they did not have the ability to look after their own interests. Kakavas had excluded himself from every casino in Australia, including Crown, and it was not disputed he had a "special disability'' that meant he could not deal on equal terms with Crown. "He had a 12-year history with Crown and an evident gambling problem," Myers said. Myers said the law stated that parties to any transaction had to have the ability to "conserve their interests" and casinos were not exempt from the protection offered to people with disabilities. "A person seeking to conserve their interests would not enter a casino," commented Justice Philip Mandie. The Gold Coast property developer turned over $1.5 billion on Crown's baccarat tables between June 2005 and August 2006, betting up to $300,000 a hand.
Kakavas is appealing against a decision of Supreme Court judge Justice David Harper, who threw out Kakavas's $35 million claim against Crown, saying his gambling addiction did not disadvantage him in his dealings with the casino. Justice Harper said he accepted Kakavas had a medically diagnosed gambling addiction, but concluded that he had been in full control of his actions and at all times had the power to self-exclude. In the same judgment, Justice Harper questioned Crown casino's self-proclaimed status as the world's leader in responsible gambling. Myers said the Gambling Regulation Act said that people who self-excluded themselves or were excluded for other reasons should not be allowed to enter a casino or remain in a casino. Justice Mandie asked if it was relevant whether a person was wealthy and could afford to lose large sums of money. Myers said that legally a casino could not accept a $1000 bet from the richest man in the world if he had excluded himself.
"Whether Mr Kakavas could afford to lose is neither here not there,'' he said.
The hearing is continuing.

James Packer (Pro Casinos) And Russell Crowe (Luke Warm On Gambling) Play Jet Ski In Italy...

Mates Russell Crowe (Hollywood actor and NRL team owner) and James Packer (Aussie gambling biz king) were in the same Italian parts on Thursday and took an opp to mingle on the Italian Mediterranean coast along Positano. JP had his superyacht moored up that way. Crowe was in the region for a mates wedding after a working trip to Los Angeles and heard his mate was close. "I gave Jamie a bell and we got on a couple of jet skis - and how about this to spend your day - we went by jet ski from Positano to Amalfi," Crowe told 2DayFM's Kyle and Jackie during Sandilands' 40th birthday broadcast yesterday. "It was wonderful. How did you guys spend your day?" Good to see the sense of humour in fine form.

Tabcorp Split: Investors Cautious...

Shareholders in Tabcorp Holdings Limited (TAH) have finally had a chance to assess the two businesses that have emerged after the gaming giant split its wagering, gaming and Keno interests from its casino operation. Beginning trading on Monday (June 6) on a deferred settlement basis, the new casino wing known as Echo Entertainment Group (EGP) attracted considerable market interest trading over four million common shares and closing at $4.36. TAH shareholders voted 99.56 percent in favour of the demerger, but EGP prices are believed to be high amid speculation that James Packer’s Crown Limited (CWN) was amassing a sizeable stake. The demerger saw shareholders receive one standard share in EGP for each share held in TAH, which gave Packer his opening stake in Echo. The arrangement effectively halved the value of TAH shares, sending them plummeting on Monday when resumed trading saw almost 57 percent wiped off the new TAH’s value as shareholders dumped nearly 17 million standard shares. Media reports suggested that Packer’s interest related only to wanting a vote in any potential takeover bids that come to the EGP table. The CWN announcement appeared to discourage trade, with EGP slumping 2.5% during Tuesday’s trading. The Tabcorp Echo demerger is expected to become official on June 15th following last week’s Supreme Court approval. Punters, are you game to buy in?

Press Release: Pullman Cairns launches Optimum Service Standards to boost Chinese inbound market - 14 June 2011

The Pullman Reef Hotel Casino in Cairns has been announced as the first hotel to be accredited to Accor’s new Optimum Service Standards for Chinese Visitation, paving the way for the hotel to attract greater numbers of Chinese visitors to North Queensland. The formal accreditation follows this week’s announcement in Cairns by Federal Tourism Minister, Martin Ferguson, of a new 10-year strategic plan aimed at boosting China’s inbound tourism to Australia. He extolled the tourism industry to more actively cater for the Chinese market, which is the fastest growing inbound market for Australia, and already worth over $3 billion a year to the economy.
Earlier this year, Accor – Australia’s largest hotel group with 150 hotels under brands such as Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel and Mercure – announced that it would implement an Optimum Services Standards program for hotels in its group that aimed to attract large-scale visitation from the Chinese and Indian markets. It involved hotels implementing a wide range of services to cater for the specific needs of these two growth markets, and only hotels that met (and maintained) these standards would be accredited to pitch for this business. Recognising the potential of Chinese inbound for the Cairns and Tropical North Queensland markets, the Pullman has led the way with adopting services to meet the needs of the emerging China market. These include translation of in-room collateral and the Welcome Kit to Mandarin, Mandarin speaking staff available to handle guest queries, all reception staff trained to give basic greetings in Mandarin, Chinese breakfast and mini-bar items, green tea and comfort items such as slippers. In addition, the Pullman has implemented training for all staff on Chinese cultural practices, so that they can better understand the specific needs and requirements of Chinese travelers. Commenting on the accreditation, Pullman General Manager, Adrian Williams, said that he was very pleased that his hotel was playing a pioneering role in the national push for more Chinese inbound tourists. “The growth in Chinese inbound isn’t new, but the pace of the growth highlights the need for the industry to really look at what is being provided for Chinese travelers and to enhance the offer, because this market represents a significant future for our tourism industry,” said Mr Williams.
“Many of the measures under the Optimum Service Standards program are fairly straightforward, but it sends a strong signal to Chinese operators that Australia is not only welcoming their clients, but going out of their way to ensure they feel as comfortable as possible when they are here. “Cairns and far North Queensland have so much potential for this market. The Great Barrier Reef is the primary draw-card, but Cairns has many other attractions – natural and man-made – that our ideal for Chinese tourists. The climate is appealing, our infrastructure is well developed, there is good shopping and entertainment, high quality restaurants, and our prices are very competitive. “It was very encouraging that Tourism Minister Ferguson chose Cairns to launch the new China strategy here in Cairns, so it is now up to us operators to translate the strategy into action on the ground. “The Optimum Service Standards will hopefully lead other TNQ operators to follow suit and really look at the specific needs of Chinese travelers.” Pullman Reef Casino Cairns is the largest hotel, tourism and entertainment complex in Far North Queensland, offering 5-star accommodation, the award-winning Tamarind restaurant, the Cairns Wildlife Dome (where visitors can see Australian wildlife icons such as kangaroos, koalas and crocodiles), a range of cafes, bars and shopping, and the Reef Casino.

PokerStars To Be Outlawed In Australia...

PokerStars is to be history in Australia with many online website portals starting to pull off PokerStars promos and articles, also frustrated with not being paid for months. An insider said "PokerStars name is pretty much mud in Australia these days". As previously covered GP Information Services, based in the Erina Heights suburb of Gosford in New South Wales, is according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission owned by Oldford Group, one of the business entities sought for forfeiture by defendants named by US authorities in the Black Friday indictments. It just happens to provide marketing services for PokerStars in Australia. There's lots of grey area about advertising gambling in Australia, with Media Man legal adviser Nettleton having his phone running hot of late. It's suspected PokerStars is or was a client of Nettleton, who is a partner at Addison's Lawyers. Australian television stations Network Ten and the Nine Network last November escaped a fine re TV adverts with a warning from the country’s media watchdog, which argued they had breached the IGA for promoting Reports in the press show authorities might have problems enforcing laws, whether or not a breach is provable. Comms Minister Stephen Conroy says "As the internet is a cross-jurisdictional medium, it is difficult for Australia to enforce our laws on companies not based in Australia." Other online gaming brands such as Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, Captain Cooks and PKR can be accessed by Australians, often mentioned on massive website portals that enjoy worldwide audiences, targeting players worldwide, with maps of the world shown to help potential players see the poker and online casino rooms available for their geographic region, with online gaming warnings and disclaimers a plenty, making sure they cover their own ass.

Australian Exotic Betting And Live Betting Update...

Exotic betting options have hit the headlines because of their association with corrupt behaviour. Cricket's biggest betting stings - on South African captain Hansie Cronje 10 years ago and on three Pakistani players last year - have involved exotic bets, where the players have allegedly rigged small outcomes within matches rather than the overall results. Overseas, exotic betting has a long history. In a minor game on Australia's 1972 cricket tour of England, Dennis Lillee put his teammates' money on taking exactly five wickets by lunch. (They took six wickets, and lost their money.) In Australia, where exotic options have only been available to the public this decade, their potential for corruption has been associated with the charges against rugby league player Ryan Tandy and others over first-scorer bets on an NRL match last year, and the AFL has investigated first-scorer betting patterns last month relating to three players. Some 30 Australian agencies offer exotic sports bets, and many are owned by overseas parents. The British agency Sportingbet is currently attempting to buy the Australian agency Centrebet, which is majority-owned by the bookmaking Kafataris family. The overseas agencies that will lay exotic and other bets with Australian punters - numbering more than 50, according to Centrebet's Gerard Daffy - include 12BET, AllYouBet, bet365, Betfair, Canbet, Pinnacle Sports and William Hill. The Australian bookmakers also contribute 5% of profits to sports bodies such as the NRL and AFL as a product fee, a requirement from which international bookmakers are exempt.

Macau Casino Investors Will Pay More Tax...

Asia pacific gambling tycoon James Packer will already know about this...Investors in Macau casinos, including James Packer's Melco Crown Entertainment, have been warned the Macau government could seek to increase its share of earnings when their licences come up for renewal from 2020. The first of Macau's six casino licences falls due for renewal in March 2020, with Melco Crown's licence due to expire in 2022. Commentators at a conference in Macau last week warned that investors should expect the Macau government would increase its demands for tax revenue from the casinos or impose tougher conditions as the licences are renewed. "Universally, it's normal for governments to get greedy" when negotiating gaming licenses, US expert Nelson Rose, of the Whittier Law School, told the Global Gaming Expo Asia conference last week.
Professor Rose said he did not expect the Macau government to seek to take back the land it had granted casino licensees, but it would have "huge power" in the negotiations given the billions of dollars invested by the licence holders in their Macau casinos. Professor Rose, a visiting scholar at the University of Macau, said the government could demand that the licenceholders invest in more infrastructure, or it could seek to raise taxes. James Packer's Crown Limited has a 33.4% interest in the Nasdaq-listed Melco Crown Entertainment, one of the six casino licenceholders in Macau. Melco Crown this month celebrates the two years of operating its City of Dreams casino complex on Macau's Cotai strip. It also operates a smaller casino, called Altira Macau. Crown this year reported an equity accounted gain of $11.8 million from Melco Crown for the six months to the end of December, but said the "normalised result" for the period was a loss of $6.8m, "after adjusting for an above-theoretical win rate and pre-opening expenses". The government of Macau now taxes casino earnings at 39%, a rate that allows the main operators to make healthy profits. "No one knows how the rules of the game will change at the end of the concessions," Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Gary Pinge said. "But I do think that investors need to think about it." The Macau government could seek to "regulate down" the returns for casino operators, Pinge said. But the government was still considering how to handle the issue. Macau has 6 casino licences covering 33 casinos in the former Portuguese territory, the official casino gambling outlet for China. Good fortune, and may the power of the dragons be with you.

What's you're thoughts on gambling reform in Australia? Do you prefer pokies at the casino, pub, online? What's your favorite slot and online casino? Tell us in the forum.

Readers, good punting, know your limits and have fun.

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