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09 August 2011

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Bwin.Party. Digital Entertainment Shares Dip To Record Low; Online Players Up...

The global economic slump has once again impacted the share price of Bwin.Party, as share prices of the parent company that owns PartyCasino.com World Poker Tour and PartyPoker.com reached a record low less than 48 hours ago.

Bwin.Party share prices dropped as low as 113.8p prior to closing at 116.9p - a 5.7% decline in one day. Experts are investigating what may have caused a sudden decline in the share prices of the gaming giant.

There is an overall downward trend of the market. Bwin also has an increased reliance on Euro-zone troubled markets. Before merger of PartyGaming and Bwin, the latter showed that 11% of its revenue is generated from Greece.

The European Commission’s president Jose Manuel Barroso is warning European governments that the financial troubles of Greece, Portugal and Ireland could spread to Italy and Spain. Italy alone represents 10% of Bwin’s revenues.

Bwin.Party's online arm is business usual. PartyCasino.com and PartyPoker.com is continuing to run a number of attractive promotions, and the company looks like a safe bet to retain it's #1 position as the world's leading online gambling firm.


Party Poker Sending Players to Oktoberfest...

Starting this coming Friday, PartyPoker players will be able to take the first step on a possible trip to Germany to join in one of the world’s most famous parties. Through the first week of September, PartyPoker will award 16 packages to the 201-year old Oktoberfest, held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.

Beginning at the stroke of midnight on August 12th, PartyPoker will hold a VIP Oktoberfest Race, in which players can try to earn as many PartyPoints as possible at real money tables through August 21st. When the Race period is complete, the top seven points earners will each win Oktoberfest prize packages. In addition to those winners, players who finish from 8th to 25th will receive $250, 26th through 75th place will win $100, and places 76 through 400 will all receive a seat in September’s VIP Oktoberfest and Super Gadget Freeroll.

There will then be a second VIP Oktoberfest Race starting immediately after the first one ends, at midnight on August 22nd, and running through 11:59pm on August 31st. All of the prizes are exactly the same for Race number two.

Those who finish in the top 25 in both races will be gifted a 16 GB Apple iPad2, while anyone who finishes in the top 75 in both races will win a 64 GB iPod Touch.

The VIP Oktoberfest and Super Gadget Freeroll will be held on September 4th at 2:00pm ET. An Oktoberfest prize package will be handed out to the top two finishers in the tournament, while the remainder of the top 30 will receive Apple electronics. Those who round out the top five will win 4 GB Apple iPhones, 6th through 10th will get the 16 GB Apple iPad2, and 11th through 30th will win a 64 GB iPod Touch.

Players are allowed to win a maximum of one Oktoberfest prize package and one Apple electronic gadget.

The Oktoberfest prize package includes two night’s accommodation for two, with breakfast, at the Le Meridien hotel in Munich, dinner and drinks at the Hippodrom Oktoberfest tent, dinner and poker at the Olympic Tower restaurant, access to a reserved area and drinks at the P1 nightclub, daytime activities, all transportation in Munich, VIP hospitality, and $600 spending money. Travel to and from Munich is the responsibility of the winner, which is why the $600 is included.

Keep in mind that, like most of PartyPoker’s promotions, players must opt-in in order to participate. The option to opt-in can be found on players’ PartyPoker account pages. In addition, prizes cannot be transferred or exchanged for cash, so if you win a trip to Germany, you are going or you get nothing. For the rest of the terms and conditions, including how to claim prizes (yes, players must claim their Apple gadget prizes – they are not mailed automatically), visit PartyPoker’s web page.

PartyPoker is currently the third largest online poker room or network in terms of cash game traffic, according to PokerScout.com. With a seven day average of 4,200 cash game players, it is neck-and-neck with the iPoker Network, which has 4,250 cash game players. (Credit: Poker News Daily)


$35M renovations to downtown Plaza in Las Vegas nearly done; Hotel reopens Sept. 1...

LAS VEGAS — A roughly $35 million overhaul of the downtown Plaza Las Vegas hotel-casino is ahead of schedule, keeping the property on track for a Sept. 1 reopening, the chief executive of its operator tells The Associated Press.

CEO Tony Santo of Play LV said buying furniture, fixtures, wallpaper and other items at a discount from the shuttered Fontainebleau project on the Las Vegas Strip helped stretch the Plaza’s renovation budget.

“It elevated what we were originally thinking about doing here,” he said.

The Plaza will reopen with a new casino floor, lounges, entertainment and several restaurants, including a steakhouse named for former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.

Santo said he expects the hotel to compete with top hotels downtown, including the Golden Nugget, and others citywide during a time when Sin City is hoping for an overall rebound in tourism and hoteliers are battling one another for gamblers to patronize their properties.

Gambling revenues in downtown Las Vegas have remained essentially flat through the first five months of 2011, ticking up less than 1 percent compared with the first five months of 2010, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The number of visitors citywide went up 4.7 percent over the same period.

The Plaza closed in November as owner Tamares Group started the renovations, opting to make most of its changes all at once rather than keeping open and changing little by little.

“Our existing product was so bad, it wasn’t worth it to struggle and keep it open,” Santo said.

Roughly one month before the reopening, the Plaza’s rooms look like they’re from a completely different hotel, while construction crews have pulled the carpeting, light fixtures and other elements of the casino floor and are starting anew.

“There’s really nothing on the casino floor that hasn’t been touched,” Santo said.

He said the Plaza plans to target typical Sin City customers, including Las Vegas locals and people from the Midwest and West Coast.

He said success will come by convincing gamblers and others that the Plaza has truly changed.

“You have to start somewhere,” he said.


MGM Resorts posts 2Q profit, aided by MGM China...

NEW YORK (AP) — Casino operator MGM Resorts International said Monday it swung to a profit in the second quarter as the company benefited from taking a controlling stake in its China venture. The company's adjusted net loss was narrower than analysts expected as both gambling and hotel room revenue increased.

The positive results, which came after the market closed, were largely overshadowed on a day when the stock market swooned as anxiety overtook investors on the first trading day since Standard & Poor's downgraded American debt. The Dow Jones industrials fell 634.76 points, the worst one-day drop since December 2008.

MGM shares fell 24 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $11.30 in aftermarket trading, after closing the day down nearly 9 percent at $11.54.

Still, MGM's results mark the first two consecutive sequential quarters of operational improvement since the downturn, said CEO Jim Murren in a call with investors.

"This, combined with very positive forward trends that we are currently seeing, leads us to believe that the signs of the recovery" in Las Vegas are consistent, he said. "We are going to see continued improvement as we move into the back half of this year and into 2012."

Net income totaled $3.44 billion, or $6.22 per share during the three months ended June 30. That compares with a net loss of $883.5 million, or $2 per share last year, which included a charge of $1.12 billion for impairment of the company's investment in the CityCenter joint venture.
The latest results benefited from a hefty $3.5 billion gain, or $6.30 per share, related to acquiring a controlling interest in MGM China Holdings Ltd.

MGM China Holdings Ltd. operates a profitable casino in Macau, which is the only place in China where casino gambling is legal. MGM took a controlling 51 percent stake in MGM China Holdings when it went public on the Hong Kong stock exchange in June. Before that it had a 50 percent stake.

That move is "an important step in expanding our global operations and profitability," said Murren in a statement.

Excluding that as well as a 3 cents per share impairment charge, MGM Resorts' net loss totaled 5 cents per share. Analysts expected a loss of 14 cents per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose nearly 17 percent to $1.81 billion from $1.55 billion last year. That beat analysts' expectations of $1.58 billion.

Revenue from the company's domestic results totaled $1.5 billion, up 4 percent compared with the prior year quarter as room prices and occupancy rates increased.

Domestically, casino revenue rose 1 percent, including a 4 percent increase in slots revenue.
Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian is a major investor in MGM Resorts International, which is based in Las Vegas. (Credit: Google News, Wires, AP)


Sands China Signs Deal With Hilton, IHG for Cotai Project...

HONG KONG—Sands China Ltd. has signed franchise agreements with Hilton Worldwide and InterContinental Hotels Group PLC. for hotels at the casino operator's $4 billion-plus resort in Macau's Cotai area, Sands said Friday, solidifying plans for the long-delayed expansion project.

Hilton's five-star Conrad is expected to open at the Sands Cotai Central property in the first quarter of 2012 with more than 600 rooms, Las Vegas Sands Corp. unit said in a statement.

A four-star Holiday Inn by InterContinental is also scheduled to open late in first quarter 2012 with more than 1,200 rooms, it added. Dow Jones in March reported Sands China was in talks with the hotelier amid a failed agreement with Shangri-La Asia Ltd.

In July Las Vegas Sands Chief Operating Officer Mike Leven said Sands China plans to launch nearly 2,000 Sheraton-branded hotel rooms at the Cotai property in the third quarter, and that in early 2013 it should open an additional 2,000 rooms under the Sheraton Towers brand of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

Construction of the project, which Sands China has said will have 6,000 hotel rooms in total, has been slowed at least in part by government restrictions on how many foreign workers companies in the labor-starved territory can hire.

The number of gaming tables at the resort has been a thorny issue as well since the government imposed a cap on tables until 2013. Mr. Leven last week said Sands Cotai Central will have as many as 530 tables versus the 670 the company was planning previously. (Credit: The Wall Street Journal)


New casino opens on NY Mohawk reservation...

ALBANY, N.Y. — A group of Mohawks has quietly opened a casino on the tribe's reservation along New York's northern border with some 400 electronic gambling machines and plans to expand and host poker games, drawing criticism from tribal leaders responsible for the established casino and bingo hall located nearby.

The Three Feathers Casino operates in a commercial building six miles down Route 37 from the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino, which has electronic slot machines and table games under a state compact. The new venture is separate and has no similar state or federal approvals.

Three Feathers organizers, from the Men's Council of the People of the Way of the Long House, say they established their own gaming commission last year that set regulations. "By no means is anyone looking for any confrontation," spokesman Chaz Kader said, adding that would be negative for everyone on the reservation.

Kader cited economic development efforts and plans to use 20 to 25 percent of revenue to support the Long House, including help for elders in the community, as reasons for opening Three Feathers.

"It's employing over 100 of our local people," he said.

Open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight, it began operating July 13, has had incremental increases in customers and had 500 visitors its second Sunday, Kader said. There's no alcohol, but smoking is allowed.

The Akwesasne casino, with some 1,600 Las Vegas-style slot machines and 22 table games including blackjack, craps, roulette and poker, is operated around the clock by the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe under a New York compact that calls for sharing 25 percent of profits from the electronic slot machines with the state. St. Regis tribal officials said the only two "legitimate" gaming properties in Akwesasne are their casino and their Mohawk Bingo Palace, noting regulatory oversight by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Gaming Commission along with the National Indian Gaming Commission.

On a reservation with factions and some history of tensions, including over whether the original casino should have opened in 1999, the new enterprise drew criticism from the tribal government responsible for the first casino and bingo hall, saying their profits already support programs for tribal members.

"The unlicensed gaming facility cannot compare to our legal casinos in terms of safety, gaming integrity and regulatory oversight," St. Regis Tribal Chief Mark Garrow said. In a statement, the St. Regis tribal government said the new casino's suppliers, operators and financiers had not undergone background checks in accordance with the federal law and they are all under investigation.

Men's Council members told KahnawakeNews.Com that their gaming regulations meet or exceed the others and they'd like to see all casinos on Mohawk territory follow them. Kader said the regulations are based on the foundational great law of peace, considered a superseding document to the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Charter, that can apply to other areas and that specifies revenue sharing and doesn't include the state compact.

"As the public becomes more confident with this extra venue, we've seen word of mouth and satisfied gaming players liked what they saw and would be back," Kader said.

According to state gambling officials, Congress in 1988 permitted federally recognized tribes to regulate traditional forms of Indian gaming in conjunction with the federal commission or by themselves. They include bingo, pull tabs, lotto, punch boards, tip jars and certain card games, with all other gaming subject to regulation set under state-tribal compacts.

Kader said the new casino's machines operate "in an electronic bingo environment," where they are operating on a single computer server that has different architecture and software than self-contained slot machines. He said long-term plans include adding more machines and that poker is being discussed and that's likely, but with players betting against each other and not against the house.

Gamblers will get individual financial statements about winnings, but any reporting for tax purposes will be up to them, he said.

Lee Park, spokesman for the Racing & Wagering Board, said there is no compact between the state and the Mohawk group that opened Three Feathers and so it is not under the board's regulatory oversight.

The state board regulates four other Indian casinos, including the Oneidas' Turning Stone in central New York at Verona and three Seneca casinos in western New York at Salamanca, Niagara Falls and Buffalo.

The St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council last year stopped sharing Akwesasne Mohawk Casino revenue with the state, claiming the gambling compact provision that gave them exclusive seven-county rights to install and operate slot machines had been violated. Tribe spokesman David Staddon said the case is in mediation.

The Mohawks' outstanding state liability now is $17.7 million from a year of non-payments, said state Budget Division spokesman Morris Peters. The Senecas, who haven't made payments for more than two years, have a state liability of $288.3 million, he said. (Credit: Google News; Wires; AP)

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