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31 August 2011

Crown Casino - Crown Limited punts $1.5bn to fend off competition, by Greg Tingle - 26th August 2011

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Crown is counting on on a $1.5 billion capital expenditure program at its Australian land based casinos to help lift earnings in the second half of 2012 and beyond to help offset the impact of increased competition on Australian soil and offshore.

The James Packer-backed company reported a 15 per cent increase in annual net profit to $335.9 million, struck on a 3 per cent increase in revenue to $2.41bn.

It declared a final dividend of 19c a share, 50 per cent franked.

However, the profit increase was largely underpinned by a better-than-expected result from the Macau-based Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL) joint venture, in which Crown holds a 33.4 per cent stake.

Crown's actual share of MPEL's bumper earnings was $34.9m for 2011, normalised to $19.2m when taking into account the win rate on VIP program play, compared with Crown's $69.5m share of MPEL's loss last year.

Macau's year-on-year gaming revenue growth in the seven months to July was 45.2 per cent.

But results at Crown's Australian casinos - Crown in Melbourne and Burswood in Perth - were largely flat in 2011 as they battled increased competition from new casinos in Singapore, softening consumer sentiment and refurbishment disruptions.

"We expect the impact of Singapore, we will continue to feel that, and obviously it is a question of how we can replace that business with new business out of China and new business out of Singapore," Crown chief executive Rowen Craigie said yesterday.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation at Burswood was $176.2m in 2011, down from $183.5m a year earlier. Mr Craigie said Burswood's earnings would remain under pressure until the completion of the refurbishment program of the casino's VIP facilities, which is due by Christmas. "Burswood is playing in this game with one hand tied behind its back, given Macau and Singapore have largely completed their cap-ex programs. Burswood is yet to complete theirs," Mr Craigie said.

Analysts yesterday were generally happy with the group's result.

"We view Crown's FY11 slightly ahead of consensus result as sound," Deutsche Bank told clients. However, Crown shares closed 2.7 per cent lower at $7.87.

Mr Craigie said main gaming floor revenue growth for the start of the new financial year to date in the group's Australian casinos was 3.8 per cent, and non-gaming revenue was up 7.4 per cent.

This is in contrast to Echo Entertainment, owner of Sydney's Star City casino and Jupiters casino on the Gold Coast, which last week reported revenue growth of 8 per cent in the year to date. Echo is confident a landmark $1bn facelift for Star City will significantly boost revenues in the second half of next year, but Mr Craigie played down the competitive threat to Crown.

Crown also revealed it would buy back up to 30 million shares or 4 per cent of its issued equity.

The buyback is expected to lift Mr Packer's 43 per cent stake in Crown.

Crown continues to hold a 4.9 per cent stake in both Echo Entertainment and Tabcorp.

The stakes were acquired before the Tabcorp demerger.

Analysts said the announcement of a buyback indicated Crown had no intention to move on either company.

"Crown has stated it has no intention of increasing its holding in either, and the announcement on the buyback would seem to confirm this," Citi analysts said.

Crown says it intends to appoint former Howard government minister Helen Coonan as an additional independent non-executive director.


Crown feels heat from Singapore...

Casinos operator Crown Ltd says it is feeling the effect of competition from new casinos in Singapore.

But the company may be in a better position when extensive refurbishments of its Melbourne and Perth casinos are completed.

"We expect to continue to feel the impact of Singapore, and it's a question as to how we can replace that business with new business out of China and also new business out of Singapore,'' Crown chief executive Rowen Craigie said yesterday.

"We have programs in place to pursue both those objectives."

Crown yesterday reported a 14.9 per cent rise in annual net profit to $335.9 million for the 12 months to June 30, boosted by a $34.9 million gain from its 33 per cent stake in casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment in Macau.

The Crown casino in Melbourne and Burswood casino in Perth had a mixed performance as operations continued to be disrupted by renovations.

Crown has spent about $1.5 billion in capital expenditure from 2007 to 2011 and will spend about $540 million on Crown and Burswood in the 2012 financial year.

Crown also said that in the second half of the 2010-11 financial year, a few areas of its Australian operations had been affected by a softening in consumer sentiment.

Both casinos were affected by competition from two new casino-resorts that opened in Singapore.

Burswood casino experienced a 32.3 per cent fall in revenue from VIP gamblers as Burswood's new VIP facilities were not yet finished, and Asian high-rollers decided to carry out their betting in Singapore.

Mr Craigie said Singaporean gamblers now had options of close-to-home casinos and did not have to travel to Macau or Australia to gamble.

"That needs to be factored into the business, going forward, but the good news is the VIP market continues to grow strongly, courtesy of China," Mr Craigie said.

He said that it had to borne in mind that the refurbishments in Melbourne and Perth were still to be completed.

"So Perth is playing in this game with one hand tied behind its back," Mr Craigie said.

He declined to provide estimates of Burswood's future VIP revenue but said: "I think you could say we're looking forward to the Burswood VIP (refurbishment) program to be completed.

"If the Burswood VIP assets are completed by Christmas, and we think they will be, I probably wouldn't have to be Einstein to suggest that Burswood, going forward, is probably going to do better than Burswood has in the last 12 months."

Mr Craigie said the 2011 results reflected a "reasonable" performance from the Australian casinos in the non-VIP businesses.

Main-floor gaming generated revenue growth of 5.6 per cent.

Non-gaming revenue grew by 10.6 per cent, benefiting from the first full year of operation if the Crown Metropol hotel in Melbourne.

Mr Craigie said the Melco Crown Entertainment joint venture in Macau continued to improve its performance and was the major contributor to the profit growth of the group.

Crown said that in trading across both its casinos from July 1 to August 18, main-floor gaming revenue had grown by 3.8 per cent and non-gaming revenue was up 7.4 per cent.

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PartyCasino Wins Media Man 'Online Casino Of The Month' Award

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Sydney Reveals Its New Darling: The Star

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The Darling, Sydney's newest hotel, will breathe new life into the Sydney hotel landscape when it opens in October 2011. Nestled on the edge of Sydney harbour, The Darling will exemplify attention to detail, making this imaginative gem an indulgent and relaxing experience. The boutique accommodation will boast panoramic views of the city skyline, Harbour Bridge and out to the Blue Mountains.

The Darling will include 171 stylish rooms and suites, with the top floors dedicated to the ultimate in luxury, featuring two bedroom penthouse suites. The suites, uniquely designed by renowned LA designer, Lawrence Lee, feature floor-to-ceiling Sydney harbour views, bespoke furniture, fireplaces, media rooms, butler service and a private VIP arrival.

The Darling is a key feature in the $860 million refurbishment and extension of The Star, transforming it into a one-of-a-kind entertainment destination and a strong addition to Sydney’s overall leisure landscape. The entire complex will be re-orientated to face Darling Harbour, plus will introduce over 20 new bars, cafes and restaurants, a shopping area and a fully refurbished casino when it re-opens towards the end of the year.

The Darling has been designed as a stand-alone hotel, with its own arrival experience, amenities and alluring personality. It is the first five-star new build hotel in Sydney since the 2000 Olympic Games. Built in addition to the existing hotel and apartments, The Darling will bring the total rooms and suites at The Star to over 650 across three towers.

Introducing Drew Schlesinger

The new hotel General Manager, Drew Schlesinger, was hand-picked to manage the new hotel, based on his experience and success of opening and managing landmark hotels around the globe including the InterContinental at New York Times Square, The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and The Water Club in Atlantic City and the Mondrian Hotel Los Angeles.

“Our philosophy of The Darling is to take every aspect, whether it is a water glass or a coat hanger, and pay close attention to its form and function. From the coloured, soft coat hangers, to the hand-made drinking glasses in guest rooms. From the Egyptian cotton thread count bed sheets to the quality of the mattresses,” Drew explained.

“The architecture and design is sleek with subdued hues, yet the ambiance is warm and inviting – and there's certainly nothing modest about our plush comforts. The spa will round out the experience and be a welcome addition to Sydney,” he added.

Spa and Restaurant

A luxurious day spa with 16 private rooms is set to deliver pampering to the highest levels. An extensive array of Asian and European inspired treatments will feature at the spa, including an indulgent hamam, which is a Turkish variant of a steam bath, sauna or Russian Bath, distinguished by a focus on water.

The spa will be run by experienced international spa operator, Jeanette Haua. Jeanette’s experience includes managing Shangri La CHI spas in Mactan, Boracay and Manila in the Phillipines, plus spa experience in Fiji and Turkey.

The hotel will also be home to a stunning, contemporary Japanese restaurant called Sokyo, from Chase Kojima, formerly with Nobu restaurants, delivering an exciting and unexpected menu.

Luxury Retail Offering

A sophisticated new retail area will feature some of the leading luxury brands, including Chanel Fragrance and Beauty Boutique, Gucci and Bottega Veneta. Boasting 5,500m2 of floor space, the upscale retail space will be conveniently located between the hotel, refurbished casino, restaurants and entertainment venues.

Other features of The Darling include:

· An outdoor custom designed pool area with a deck, cabanas and bar.
· Access to the 20 new restaurants, bars and cafes featuring renowned Australian and international chefs including David Chang, Teage Ezard, Stefano Manfredi, Adriano Zumbo, Flying Fish & Chips and Golden Century.
· Access to the new retail collection including the following brands:
o G Star Raw, Calvin Klein Jeans, IM lingerie, Chanel Fragrance and Beauty Boutique, Salvatore Ferragamo , LK Jewellery, Gucci, Bottega Veneta , Moda Emporio

Reservations for The Darling will start from August 2011, on 1800 800 830. The Star will open its new bars, restaurants and retail collection from September whilst The Darling opens in late October 2011.

For further information, please visit www.thedarling.com.au

Notes to Editors

Room features:
- King and double/double size beds plus pillows designed exclusively for The Darling
- Kitchens located in penthouse suites and spa tubs in selected suites
- Sheets – 400 thread count Egyptian long-staple cotton throughout
- High Definition HD LED TVs and cable TV with on demand features
- Latest in-room entertainment centre (iPod, radio etc)
- State of the art telecommunications systems with conference and speaker capability with fibre optics and IP TV’s.
- Private/direct line access availability to specific rooms and data port connections for modem/fax hook ups

Drew Schlesinger- Bio

With 34 years of experience, Drew has served as General Manager and Director of Operations in major metropolitan cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Atlanta. Most recently he was the General Manager for the InterContinental at New York Times Square.

Drew has also managed operations of the The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and The Water Club in Atlantic City; managed the pre-opening and grand opening of 70 Park Avenue Hotel, The Kimpton Hotels & Resorts’ first hotel in New York City; and served as General Manager of Mondrian Hotel Los Angeles, an Ian Schrager Hotel.

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Casinos Of The World: Land Based And Online, Casino Awards By Media Man And Casino News Media



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Media Man And Casino News Media Awards - August 2011

Media Man and Casino News Media have awarded their casino award winners and finalists for August 2011.

Land Based Australian Casino Of The Month: Crown Casino, 2nd The Star (formally Star City Casino), 3rd Burswood Casino, 4th The Reef Hotel Casino (Cairns)

Online Casino Of The Month: PartyCasino.com 2nd Virgin Casino 3rd Grand Reef Online Casino 4th Paddy Power Online Casino 5th PKR Casino

*Online casino awards are based on a combination of gameplay, trustworthiness, ethics, customer feedback, affiliate program offerings, word of mouth, customer experience and overall offerings

*Media Man and Casino News Media have been awarding the 'Casino Of The Month' accolade for the land based and online sector since 2009.

Punters, here's 10 of the world's top land based casinos for you to mark down in your travel plans.

Monte Carlo, Monaco: Perched above the Mediterranean and bounded by the French
and Italian coastlines on either side, Monaco provides a spectacular and luxurious setting for the wealthy and the wannabees. Home to the Monaco Grand Prix and the legendary Casino de Monte Carlo, this isn't the place for those on a tight
budget. The magnificent Casino hosts the annual European Poker Tour and was also the scene of several James Bond Films, including the original "Casino Royale" and "Golden Eye".

Paradise Island, Bahamas: Located just off the shore of the city of Nassau, Paradise
Island is best known for its sprawling 'Vegas-by-the-sea' resort, Atlantis. The resort spans seven acres along a lagoon, where guests can soak up the Caribbean sun and choose from a variety of outdoor gaming areas. When in need of a break from
the tables, guests can enjoy the private beach or one of the resorts 20 sunlit pools.

Melbourne, Australia: As Australia's sporting and entertainment capital, Melbourne
offers the perfect option for high rollers looking for a local break. Aussies need look no further than Crown Casino on the southern bank of the Yarra River, which is one of the largest casino complexes in the southern hemisphere. The main gambling
floor stretches more than half a kilometre and the casino was the first to introduce the new game Rapid Roulette, which allows players to place bets on a personal electronic touch screen connected to a central roulette wheel.

Macau, China: Known as the 'Monte Carlo of the Orient,' and the gambling capital of Asia, Macau now rivals Monaco and Las Vegas as one of the premier gambling destinations in the world. With no less than 33 casinos, in addition to local horse and greyhound racing venues, Macau is perfect for the betting junkie. The Wynn Macau
casino is a standout, highlighted by 24-carat gold 'Tree of Prosperity' at the entrance, extravagant water displays and Moon Jellyfish Aquarium at reception.

Baden-Baden, Germany: Situated on the western foothills of the Black Forest and on
the banks of the Oos River, Baden-Baden is not your typical casino town. However, in addition to its hot springs and picturesque countryside, the town is also known for its 200-year-old 'Spielbank' casino - the oldest of its type in Germany. With French chateau-style salons rooms named after historical figures such as Madame Pompadour and Louis XV's mistress, the quirky casino provides visitors with a very unique
gaming experience.

Las Vegas, United States: With over 1700 licensed casinos in operation, Las Vegas
offers the ultimate package for travellers who fancy a flutter. A visit to the famous 'Strip' is a must for any player, whether they're looking for a spin on the roulette table or a game of blackjack - this city has it all. The iconic Caesar's Palace
hotel and casino offers 129,000 square feet of casino space plus an endless smorgasbord of entertainment, shopping and fine dining options, including Cleopatra's barge, a floating lounge perfect for a relaxing drink after a jam-packed night on the
casino floor.

Manila, The Philippines: With a favourable exchange rate, Manila provides great value
for Aussies wanting to live the high-life overseas. The city offers a range of shopping and entertainment options, along with a world-class casino at the Hyatt Hotel. Spread across three levels, the sparkling casino offers the newest in gaming
facilities for both hotel guests and visitors, and is just a short distance from Manila's tourist hub.

Sun City, South Africa: Known as 'Africa's Kingdom of Pleasure,' this luxury resort
and casino complex, just two hours from Johannesburg, boasts two large casinos, two 18-hole golf courses and a wildlife reserve. At the extravagant yet picturesque Palace of the Lost City, guests are treated to stunning valley views from the guestrooms, along with exclusive access to the Grand Pool. The nearby Sun City Casino is the entertainment Mecca of the resort, featuring a myriad of gaming options as well as an indoor jungle of native foliage and water fountains.

Atlantic City, United States: Regarded as the US's 'Las Vegas of the East', Atlantic City in New Jersey is renowned for its gambling, shopping and fine dining. Towering above the banks of the Atlantic Ocean, the Trump Taj Mahal casino is an icon of the city, with an on-site shopping district and an abundance of restaurants and bars. The
157,000 square-foot casino is also hard to miss, with 3,500 slot machines and 200 table games. Unveiled in 1990 by a number of celebrities, including the late Michael Jackson, the casino is the second-largest in Atlantic City and well worth a visit.

Genting Highlands, Malaysia: Nestled on the Titiwangsa mountain range, just an hour's
drive from Kuala Lumpur and 6,000 feet above sea level, the Resorts World Genting offers 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside. This spectacular resort has first-class accommodation, dining and entertainment, while avoiding the hustle and bustle of a capital city. The on-site casino, which covers 200,000 square feet, is Malaysia's sole gaming venue and is divided into separate themed areas, such as Hollywood and Monte Carlo, for the ultimate gambling experience.

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VirginCasino.com : Virgin Casino is part of Virgin Games. The parent company is Virgin Enterprises Limited, the creation of the world's most famous and celebrated entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson. Unfortunately the casino does not accept players from many countries due to what is known in legal circles as "grey areas". Most European players can play, but no Americans, Canadians, Australians or New Zealanders.

Captain Cooks Casino : Was once a very popular online casino with Australians and New Zealanders, however we understand these days they can only accept players from a few regions such as Europe, South Africa, Canada and South America.

PKR : Once only a 2D online poker room, they are now more 3D and offer online poker and a good range of online casino games, including classics, Marvel slots and table games.

Media Man's top online casino choice: PartyCasino.com PartyCasino is a multi-time Media Man 'Online Casino Of The Month' winner and have also won awards from EGR. Earlier this year PartyGaming merged with Bwin to create the worlds leading igaming company, Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment.

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Wagering firms take fee case to High Court...

A legal battle between two wagering firms and NSW racing authorities has begun in the High Court.

Betfair says a 1.5 per cent turnover fee levied by Racing NSW reduces competition and discriminates against interstate operators.

Counsel for Betfair, Neil Young QC, on Tuesday told the court the fee was not uniform but in fact was discriminatory.

He said Betfair participated in a national market.

Betfair argues the turnover fee will affect its ability to operate because the company is a low-margin operation that matches punters against each other.

The company then takes its commission from winning bets.

In March, both Betfair and Sportsbet were granted leave to appeal against a decision by the Federal Court that they tender the fee as legislated.

Both firms say paying the fee on gross profit is a fairer way to operate.

Overseas based firms such as Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, Paddy Power and PMU are watching the case closely.


Paddy Power Active Customers Already Exceeds All of 2010 Figures...

Ireland’s biggest online bookmaker, Paddy Power, is attributing mobile gaming to its massive surge in active customers. This year’s numbers already exceed that of the entire 2010.

Just over a third of its active customers made transactions via mobile devices. Online products are now contributing 81% of the group’s operating profit, according to the Financial Times of London.

Paddy Power CEO Patrick Kennedy told the Financial Times: "We invested in a very good product and backed it up with TV advertising and online marketing."

The online business generated €45.3m in operating profit, a rise of 25% compared to the same period in 2010. Its land-based shops continue to suffer, however.


Playtech Signs Gala Coral Contract, Acquires Mobile-Bet Company...

Playtech Ltd, the Internet gambling software maker and content developer which has a joint venture with William Hill Plc (WMH), said it signed a long-term contract with Gala Coral Group Ltd., and acquired Mobenga AB, a mobile-phone sports-betting company.

Playtech will pay as much as 15.8 million euros ($22.4 million) for Mobenga, the Isle of Man-based company said in a statement. Playtech also said second-quarter revenue rose 7 percent to 39.6 million euros over the same period a year earlier, led by online casino games.

Gala Coral, which has 2,000 betting shops in the U.K. and Italy, should become one of Playtech’s top three clients within a year after its software is transferred, in 2012, Playtech’s Chief Executive Officer Mor Weizer said in a telephone interview. Mobenga will help Playtech expand in mobile telephone gambling, which generates 30 percent of bets for some companies, he said.

“This is a very important win for us,” Weizer said. “We already have most of the established operators in the U.K., and Gala Coral we were after for a long time.”
Playtech gained 18.25 pence, or 5.4 percent, to 356.75 pence at 8:47 a.m. in London, after earlier rising as much as 6.3 percent. The shares have fallen 16 percent so far this year, giving the company a market value of 866.3 million pounds.

Stockholm-based Mobenga will give Playtech the ability to combine sports-betting, casino and poker games in one mobile- phone application, Weizer said.

Playtech generates more than 10 million pounds ($16.1 million) from its biggest client, Imperial E-Club Ltd., Weizer said.

‘Players’

Most of the company’s clients attract players through sports, though they make most of their money through games, so they’re always seeking to convert sports betters to game players, he said.

Second-quarter casino revenue gained 9 percent to 27.3 million euros, and bingo sales increased 32 percent to 3.6 million euros, the company said.

Poker sales dropped 32 percent to 5 million euros, the company said. The poker business declined even though the U.S. charged founders of online poker companies still accepting games in the country with money laundering in April.

Weizer said the companies still had cash to lure poker players. Poker numbers have been “picking up” since the end of June, when one of the companies stopped play, he said. Full Tilt Poker, then the world’s second-biggest poker site, lost its license from Alderney on June 29.


PartyCasino Gets New Games...

Aztec Gold, Atomic Fruit, Nag's To Riches and Fairies Forest. Check out the new games here.

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30 August 2011

Marvel Entertainment: Don't just read the comics and watch the movies; Play the games!

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Wrestling News Media: Dwayne Johnson aka "The Rock" Bringing Hulk Hogan And Roddy Piper’s Legendary Stories To TV / Movies; NBC Talk, by Greg Tingle - 30th August 2011

Scoop: PartyCasino.com By Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment To Get Andre The Giant Online Slot Game

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Dwayne Johnson and Jerry Bruckheimer are teaming up for a new TV project, set in the world of competitive wrestling in the ’80s. The NBC offering hails from Jerry Bruckheimer Television in association with Warner Bros. Television; Johnson (“Fast Five”) will be an EP on the project but no word on whether he’ll actually appear in the series. Deadline says it will be written by Brent Fletcher and Seamus Kevin Fahey (”Spartacus: Gods of the Arena”), who will co-executive produce alongside KristieAnne Reed. Johnson will next be seen in the Uni tentpole “G.I Joe : Retalliation”.


NBC Buys Dwayne Johnson-Bruckheimer Wrestling Drama Set In 1980s...

NBC is getting in the ring with a put pilot commitment to a drama about the 1980s professional wrestling boom that is executive produced by one of the biggest ’90s wrestling stars, Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock. The fictional drama set in the world of wrestling in the ’80s hails from Bruckheimer TV, marking a departure from the company’s signature brand of procedurals. It will be written by Brent Fletcher and Seamus Kevin Fahey (Spartacus: Gods of the Arena), who will co-executive produce alongside KristieAnne Reed. Johnson, Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman are executive producing.

The ’80s, often called “the golden age of wrestling”, marked a surge in the popularity of professional wrestling in the U.S. fueled by the growth of cable television and pay-per-view and the efforts of hot-shot promoters like Vince McMahon. During that period, pro wrestling shifted from a system controlled by numerous regional companies to a system dominated by two nationwide companies: Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling and McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation. It featured the launch of WrestleMania and the emergence of wrestling’s first crop of superstars led by Hulk Hugan. The project extends the popularity of period dramas among the broadcast networks, which have two such series, the 1960s-set Pan Am on ABC and The Playboy Club on NBC, premiering this fall. It also expands wrestling’s presence at NBCUniversal. NBC’s sibling network USA carries WWE Raw as well as the revival of WWE Tough Enough. This is the third sale and third put pilot commitment for Bruckheimer TV so far this development season. The company recently set up a Navy SEALs drama at ABC and a procedural about a mom-turned-New York State Trooper at CBS. Fahey, repped by UTA and Underground Films & Management, previously worked with Bruckheimer TV as a writer on the ABC series The Forgotten. Fletcher is with CAA.


Bruce Willis is on board for New Orleans-shot 'G.I. Joe 2,' co-star Dwayne Johnson confirms...

Rumors have been swirling for weeks involving Bruce Willis' reported negotiations to join the New Orleans cast of Paramount Pictures' big-budget, high-octane "G.I. Joe" sequel. This weekend, confirmation finally came -- from none other than "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" co-star Dwayne Johnson.

Johnson, who has been generous with the Twitter updates since arriving in town last month to begin prepping for the film, let the cat out of the bag Saturday (Aug. 20) with the following tweet:

"Welcome brother Bruce Willis to the cast of GI Joe! What an honor. #HeavyArtillery."

Paramount hasn't issued an official announcement yet, but Willis reportedly had been in talks to play Gen. Joe Colton, the character who started the G.I. strike team in the 1980s comic books and who is referred to by many as the "original" G.I. Joe.

He joins a cast that includes Johnson, as Roadblock; Adrienne Palicki, as Lady Jaye; and Channing Tatum, reprising his role as Capt. Duke Hauser from 2009's "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra."

Jon M. Chu ("Step Up 3D," "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never") is directing.

It's only the latest in a string of recent New Orleans-shot projects for Willis, including "RED," "Looper," "Lay the Favorite" and "Fire with Fire."

The big-budget "G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation" started filming last week as part of an extended shoot that is expected to see it continue to Thanksgiving. The film is scheduled for a July 29, 2012, release.


Andre The Giant Slot Game Developed By NextGen Gaming

Legendary wrestler Andre The Giant now has his own slot game. The game was developed by developer NextGen Gaming. The slot game is expected to go live before the conclusion of this year and is tipped to be added to the portfolio of PartyCasino.com Media Man reports.

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29 August 2011

Leonardo DiCaprio to Star in The Gambler Remake, by Greg Tingle - 28th August 2011

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Paramount Pictures are revisiting the 1974 movie with Martin Scorsese in the director's chair and recently landed Leonardo DiCaprio in the leading role. The script about a literature professor with a gambling addiction is being written by William Monahan, who also wrote The Departed, another Scorsese-DiCaprio film. It wouldn't even be the first remake DiCaprio will have worked on this year — he recently finished work on Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby. Nor would it be the first or even second time he'll have worked with Scorsese. In fact, this would be the fifth time, with their joint titles including last year's Shutter Island and the Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator, for which DiCaprio won a Golden Globe in 2004.

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27 August 2011

Sydney Hilton Hotel Zeta Bar titillates and tantalises again with ‘extreme cabaret’ - 26th August 2011

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Hilton Sydney’s Zeta Bar is continuing to take guests back to the sexy mystique of the nineteenth century underworld, or Underbelly if you will, every Friday night until the end of September.

Management, staff and guests are having a who ha of a time as the boundaries of traditional cabaret continue to be pushed, such is the is the titillating and tantalising nature of the
experience at Zeta’s brand new ‘Extreme Cabaret’, now into its 5th fantasy - devilish week.

It's world famous Zeta Bar was once again transformed into a theatrical era gone by. It's Moulin Rouge meets Burlesque, plus a dash of Underbelly, with live sensual themes to tantalise and titillate you naughty little guys and girls, and then of course you have the addictive cocktails to keep things kicking along. Don't drink too much please or you might end up dreaming about 'Eyes Wide Shut' and it's version of adult style fantasy fun and games. Oh, you must give 'Green Fairy' absinthe a go. It's the hip drink to have when being titillatated by the ‘Extreme Cabaret’ were hear.

Zeta’s very own in-house ‘ringmaster’ of cocktails and international expert bar consultant, Grant Collins, is the mastermind behind Extreme Cabaret at Zeta.

“To mirror the unique and vibrant event concept, I have developed a menu of cocktails with the same theatre and ‘shock factor’ as the dramatic d├ęcor and extraordinary acts,” Collins said. “Be prepared to expect the unexpected at Extreme Cabaret! I have no doubt that the acts, atmosphere and cocktails will amaze everyone who experiences them and keep them coming back for more.”

Be there every funky and flirty Friday night, live entertainment will transport you to a lurid fantasy world, including pretty extreme burlesque performers, juggling little people, fire acts, complete with shock-humour and Ringmaster, and maybe even one or two unspeakables, but you will just have to get your body to turn up and find out for yourself you curious souls.

Last night it was one of the Human Statue models Anastasiya Bakss performing in a wonderful yellow and red 2 piece peacock feathered styled number, and believe me, there was more skin than feathers darlings.

Anastasiya was just wonderful once the performance got on the way. What the public didn't see was all of the hard work that went into the costume and make-up, backstage in the green room, as artists worked to ultra stiff deadlines. The models were transformed them into Extreme Cabaret superstars with the unique Human Statue look and style.

Network Nine 'Underbelly' stars were back in attendance tonight, but we've been asked not to name names. You'll see some of them back on Channel Nine this Sunday night as 'Underbelly Razor' enters its second week back on the box.

Special thanks to Grant, Manual, Dave and Karina at the Hilton for keeping things running so beautifully for us, and partygoers might like to also add themselves to the Hilton Hotel Honours Club like my friend and I did.

If you desire to be titillated and tantalised to your hearts content, this is your opportunity to snatch and seize the night.

*photography by Eva Rinaldi Photography

*artistic creations by Human Statue Bodyart







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Media Man Gaming, Casino And Entertainment News Report, by Greg Tingle - 27th August 2011

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Media Man 'Online Casino Of The Month Award'...

PartyCasino.com has once again won the Media Man 'Online Casino Of The Month' Award. Richard Branson's VirginCasino.com picked up 2nd place, while new entrant into the Asia Pacific Region, Grand Reef Online Casino picks up 3rd. Well done to all brands.


Coonan offered position on Crown Limited board...

Former Liberal Party senator Helen Coonan has a new job offer, just days after resigning from Parliament.

Crown Casino has announced its intention to appoint the former communications minister to its board.

The gaming regulator has to sign off on the appointment, but Crown hopes to have her on the board before Christmas.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon says he is saddened by the appointment.

"Helen Coonan's had a distinguished career and public life," she said.

"She's been a senior minister in the Howard government and to take a position on the board of a company, Crown Casino, where we know they peddle a product - poker machines, gambling - that causes so much misery to so many, is pretty sad."


Echo Entertainment $226m Casinos Profit...

Sin City Sydney's Star City casino redevelopment is on track, according owners Echo Entertainment.

Echo, which holds a portfolio of casinos including Star City and Jupiters on the Gold Coast, yesterday reported a maiden profit of $226 million after spinning off from gaming group Tabcorp in June.

While its profit result reflects a rise in casino earnings of 33 per cent, most of the money will flow through to Tabcorp shareholders as it was reaped before the demerger.

The company said revenue from its Queensland casinos, Jupiters and Treasury in Brisbane, rose despite the impact of deadly flooding from cyclone Yasi in February. Chief executive Larry Mullin said Echo was about to reap the benefits of its $870 million redevelopment of Star City.

The casino would be fully operational by the second quarter of the current financial year, he said.

Echo shares rose 1.8 per cent to close at $2.883. The company will not pay a dividend for the 12 months to the end of June.


Marvel Studios' Lackluster Inaugural Performance at the 2011 D23...

It’s important to note that the Marvel Universe, on the big screen, is a much more complicated place than it is on print

Prior to 2008, the movies based on many of Marvel’s marquee characters (household names like Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and X-Men) were produced via licensing agreements with a variety of studios – and as long as the studios continue to produce movies based on these characters, they maintain the licenses. That is to say that, though Marvel Entertainment still has a hand in the movies based on certain characters, they share the decision making (and profits) with companies like Sony Pictures (Spider-Man) and 20th Century Fox (X-Men). The end result of Marvel Studios becoming its own production entity has been overwhelmingly positive, as evidenced by the Disney Corporation’s interest in, and eventual acquisition of, Marvel Entertainment.

Marvel Studios’ underwhelming performance at the D23 Expo is pretty sad, especially with Disney’s resources behind them, they could have, and should have, done much, much better. Somebody dropped the ball. Either Marvel didn’t have enough to present, or Disney wouldn’t let them present what they had – and even if it was unintentional, either possibility is a bit of a snub to the fans who endured D23’s horrifyingly long lines in hopes of seeing Marvel deliver.

Disney Pixar not only brought in trailers and footage from works in progress and upcoming releases (Brave, Planes, and Monsters University), they brought in writers and directors of two projects that have recently been given the green light, but didn’t have titles, and won’t even begin production until sometime circa 2013.

Since late 2004 – when, in order to produce movies based on their characters independently, Marvel entered into a non-recourse deal with Merrill Lynch Commercial Finance Corp. to produce ten movies with Paramount as distributor – and as recently as last year, Marvel has said that they intended to develop films based on lesser-known characters such as Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and even more obscure characters like Shang Chi: Master of Kung-Fu and Guardians of the Galaxy. This spring, Marvel Studios’ President of Production, Kevin Feige, told D23 Magazine by way of IGN that the roster of films for the immediate future was heavy on Avengers-related titles [Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man sequels; plus possible Ant-Man, Black Widow and Nick Fury/S.H.I.E.L.D. projects] and even provided basic ideas of what the second Captain America and Thor movies would be like.

Perhaps a better, more tangible example is the Ant-Man film: for a couple years now [Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World writer/director] Edgar Wright, and Joe Cornish [Wright’s frequent collaborator, and director of this summer’s cult smash Attack the Block] have been attached to the project. Though the project hasn’t been fast-tracked, it’s got an IMDb page, and a proposed release year (2014). Wright is still listed as director; and Wright and Cornish are still listed as writers. The only speculation surrounding the project is whether or not Wright’s favorite leading man, and collaborator, actor Simon Pegg (Star Trek), will still play the titular tiny titan. Even without an official release date and leading man, let alone a date to begin production, there was plenty to talk about – especially for an audience that may or may not know anything about Marvel, let alone their movies.

Bottom line: Marvel and Disney - the powers that be can and must do better than this. It's a critical time in the industry and Marvel Entertainment needs to pull out all the stops to remain at the very top of the industry. Too many more stuff ups like D23, and the empire may take a great fall, one that even Marvel icon and living legend Stan Lee could not imagine.

For everyone's sake, we hope that Marvel Entertainment and other brains at Disney will soon excite us and restore the faith.


Martin Scorsese, William Monahan Teaming for 'The Gambler' at Paramount (The Hollywood Reporter)...

The duo are developing a remake of the 1974 movie starring James Caan as an English professor with a gambling addiction. They want Leo DiCaprio to star.

Paramount is going all-in on The Gambler, a remake of the 1974 James Caan addiction drama.

The studio has set Martin Scorsese to direct and William Monahan to write. Irwin Winkler, who produced the original, will again act as producer of the new film. They are interested in having Leonardo DiCaprio star, but no deal is in place for the actor.

The 1974 movie, an adaptation of the short novel The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, detailed a New York English professor who inspires his students but suffers from a secret gambling addiction. The affliction causes him to extort money from his mother and convince one of his students to shave points in a basketball game.

Caan received a Golden Globe nomination for best actor for his performance in the original. Lauren Hutton and Paul Sorvino co-starred for director Karel Reisz. (The project is not related to the series of Gambler TV movies that starred Kenny Rogers in the 1980s and 90s.)

The gritty New York setting of the original seems a perfect match for Scorsese, who teamed with Monahan on 2006 best picture Oscar winner The Departed.

The director has been especially active lately. He has his first family film, Hugo, slated for a Thanksgiving release, and he’s preparing to direct Silence, an adaptation of the Shusaku Endo novel. He’s also attached to The Wolf of Wall Street, an adaptation of the Jordan Belfort memoir that has attached DiCaprio, with whom Scorsese collaborated on Shutter Island.

Scorsese is repped by WME and Rick Yorn. Monahan is repped by WME and Anonymous.

Paramount declined to comment. (Credit: The Hollywood Reporter)


Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment's bwin.fr and SAjOO.fr to Merge - 29th July 2011...

Given the challenging regulatory and fiscal regime that currently prevails in France and in order to drive greater value for both parties, bwin.party and Amaury Group have decided to merge their bwin France and SAjOO online gaming businesses.

While the terms of the merger are not being disclosed, the combination will deliver real financial benefits in a number of areas including marketing and shared resources and as a result, the combined entity will be much better placed to deliver attractive financial returns.

Both Amaury and bwin France share a common objective of delivering an exciting and competitive online offer, and have been working together since 2008. With an estimated 9% share of the French online betting market, SAjOO.fr has already surpassed the goals set at its launch back in 2010.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Norbert Teufelberger, Co-CEO of bwin.party, said:

“Combining the resources of SAjOO and bwin France makes perfect sense and will only enhance our already strong position in the French market. With the prospect of a more commercial regulatory framework in 2012, we look forward to building a market leading enterprise with our long-standing partner.”

Philippe Carli, Amaury Group’s Chief Executive Officer, said:

“This merger creates a new force in the French market, one that we expect will prosper over the months and years to come. We remain optimistic that the current review of the existing regulatory framework being conducted by the French Government will result in significant improvements to the legal and regulatory framework. In this context, Amaury group is strengthening its involvement with bwin France, one of the sector’s leading operators.”


Scratchie case loss a picture of pain...

Lotto lovers have been warned the odds might be even more stacked against them than they thought after a Sydney couple were ordered to hand back their $100,000 scratchie ticket winnings.

A lawyer for the couple says they are considering whether to take the matter further.

The Federal Court of Appeal ruled yesterday in favour of New South Wales Lotteries after the couple had won an earlier case over what looked like a winning ticket.

Elizabeth Kuzmanovski bought the Pictionary-themed ticket for her husband as a birthday present in July 2007.

Bale Kuzmanovski was elated when he scratched to reveal an image of a swimmer alongside the word "bathe".

NSW Lotteries refused to pay out, arguing the picture and word did not match.

But it was not on that basis that the appeal was won.

The appeals court accepted the lottery body's argument that a code on the bottom of the scratchie determined whether it was a winning ticket, not the pictures.

Mr Kuzmanovski's lawyer, Peter Ives, says they are considering a further appeal.

"Bill is extremely disappointed at what happened. He feels cheated. He has a feeling that he could never buy another Lotto ticket, knowing that he'll never know if he's won or not, even if it looks like he has won," Mr Ives said.

Christopher Zinn from Choice says the case shows consumers are vulnerable to fine print.

"What I take away from it is you can read the back of a ticket, you can read the back of a scratchie, but if there's going to be a dispute they can often pull various small print rabbits out of a hat, which are actually going to jinx any chance you might have of getting your hands on the money," Mr Zinn said.

"There are so many terms and conditions applying to the simplest things now, they're not always on the back of airline tickets or scratchie tickets or anything else.

"So it seems to be saying that you know you have to avail yourself of the maximum amount of information, certainly if you're going to take a challenge onto them."


IGT Wins Again with Sex And The City Big Diamonds!™...

The sequel to record-breaking Sex And The City™slot debuts

LAS VEGAS, Aug. 17, 2011 - It's a blockbuster summer for International Game Technology with the debut of Sex And The City Big Diamonds!™ Reel MultiPLAY Slots, the sequel to the award-winning Sex And The City™ slot machine.

This new slot game is appearing in casinos worldwide where it is sure to be equally as fantastic as the original.

"The original Sex And The City™ Slots remain one of the most popular games on casino floors throughout the world," said Tom Mikulich, IGT senior vice president of MegaJackpots. "And if early reviews are any indication, we expect the new Sex And The City Big Diamonds!™ title to be just as popular with players. The combination of unique game play and interactive bonuses will entertain fans of the original game and new players alike."

Players will experience even more glitz and glamour on the casino floor as Sex And The City Big Diamonds!™ joins the award-winning, player-favorite original, Sex And The City™ Slots. And not only have players fallen in love with the smash-hit Sex And The City™ slot theme, it's also a favorite with the casino industry. According to the Roth Fantini Quarterly Slot Survey of January 2011, the original Sex And The City™ title, introduced in 2009, continues its lead as the top performing premium leased game in North America.

"It's hard to imagine a tougher act to follow than the original Sex And The City(TM) slot game, but with Sex And The City Big Diamonds!(TM), IGT clearly has another big winner," said Robert Allen, corporate vice president of Casino Operations at Pinnacle Entertainment.

Adorned with a diamond-lit cabinet, the Sex And The City Big Diamonds!™ game is the perfect sequel. Along with its sophisticated presentation, Sex And The City Big Diamonds!™ Reel MultiPLAY interface comes with all new bonus content and features five progressive pick bonus levels, one for each of the five characters of the hit series.

Mr. Big is back and his winning charm is bigger than ever. He steals players' hearts with a random wilds diamond shower feature in the base game.

Carrie's bonus is called The Right to Shoes, and in this version, players will experience a marvelous new twist using the "accept or reject" bonus feature. Charlotte's bonus is the Glamorous Gifts bonus, which awards the player a virtual wheel spin. In Miranda's Retail Therapy bonus, players touch the screen to spin the wheel to award shopping bags filled with credits, multipliers and maybe an additional spin. And in Samantha's Glimmer Ring bonus, players can populate gems in the top box display while a diamond ring moves back and forth, highlighting the potential for big wins.

Sex And The City Big Diamonds!™ will be available throughout the U.S. Visit www.megajackpots.com/wheretoplay/bigdiamonds to find out where you can play the game now.

About IGT

International Game Technology (NYSE: IGT) is a global leader in the design, development and manufacture of gaming machines and systems products, as well as online and mobile gaming solutions for regulated markets. More information about IGT is available at www.IGT.com or follow IGT on Twitter at @IGTNews or Facebook at www.facebook.com/IGT

Official HBO Licensed Product. © 2011 Home Box Office, Inc. All Rights Reserved. HBO and related trademarks are the property of Home Box Office, Inc.


Ric Flair: Boozing Has Not Damaged My Heart...

Wrestling icon Ric Flair is furious over an article which claims the Nature Boy is suffering from a serious medical condition caused by years of hardcore boozing ... because Ric claims it's not true and now he's threatening to sue.

The unflattering article -- which paints Flair as a troubled, irresponsible mess of a person -- ran on an ESPN affiliated website called Grantland.com ... and the report is mostly based on court documents.

But Flair is particularly pissed about the reporter's claim that he suffers from Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy -- a disease caused by years of alcohol abuse which often leads to heart failure.

A rep for Flair whose real name is Richard Fliehr - tells TMZ, "While the information gleaned from courthouse records may be credible, Mr. Fliehr is currently evaluating his legal options with respect to falsehoods in the story, specifically the untrue statement that he suffers from alcoholic cardiomyopathy."

The rep adds, "Our client understands that these allegations are part of the territory when you are not only famous, but a living legend."


Hulk Hogan And Friends Tours American Casinos And Arenas; Gamble Paying Off...

Hulk and Friends, the live show that has been touring the country with stops at casinos, fairgrounds, arenas and other venues, announced that fans will have the chance to meet their favorite wrestlers in a unique and up-close setting on Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 7:30 P.M. at the famous AG Hall, now known as the Agri-Plex within the Allentown Fairgrounds, in Allentown PA.

"I'm really looking forward to meeting all my fans in the Allentown area on October 8th" Hulk Hogan said. "We are having a great time doing this show. Meeting the fans, telling jokes, and brother, everybody's laughing more than we have in years" he continued. Not only will all the fan favorites be there but Hulk Hogan promises to bring some very special guests along with him. "You never know who is going to show up at a Hulk and Friends Show" he added.

Tickets will be going on sale August 5th through Ticketmaster. A limited number of ringside seats (which include a VIP Meet and Greet) are also available. For those interested in sponsorship opportunities, please go to the official website www.hulkandfriends.com


Coke's game plan...

Coca Cola is turning to gaming technology and ideas to market itself.

Coke is soon to roll out new marketing strategies using gaming for several key products, including Fanta, which is targeted at a teenage market.

David Elsworth, Coke's vice-president for creative excellence, said gaming offered untold opportunities for marketing a brand

''Gaming is as ancient as storytelling but it was never able to be used in marketing on a mass scale because we didn't have the tools to do that before.''

Mr Elsworth said gaming in marketing was not about using the games, but using the rules and approach of games to create a different relationship between consumers and the brand.

''Gaming is about getting people to move from passive receivers of a message to active collaborators … interacting and participating.''

Mr Elsworth said gaming offered a richer level of engagement with consumers. He said gaming was no longer the domain of ''pimply teenagers in their bedrooms playing Xbox'', but a massive industry worth more than the film and music industries put together.


Pokie kings have slots to be happy about - 26th August 2011

Poker machine maker Ainsworth Game Technology pipped its cross-town rival, Aristocrat Leisure, yesterday with its second profit upgrade this year.

After a 17 per cent share price jump on Wednesday, Ainsworth yesterday announced an unaudited $23.1 million net profit for the financial year ending June 30, compared with a $2.7 million loss for the previous year.

More details will be available next Wednesday when the audited results are released.

Excluding the benefit of tax losses, Ainsworth's net profit was $14.6 million. In May the company upgraded its earnings forecast to a range of $11 million to $13 million.

''This positive financial performance reflected further strong domestic and international demand for the company's range of products in the last two months of the financial year and a more favourable currency position as at the reporting date,'' Ainsworth said.

Aristocrat reported that its profit forecast for the year ending December 31 this year remains intact, although this relies on the Australian dollar remaining at parity with its US counterpart for the current half year.

The strong dollar and high interest costs - the latter a result of Aristocrat taking on debt to settle its long-running dispute over its convertible bonds last year - dragged down its results for the six months to June 30.

The company reported a net profit after tax of $24.9 million down from $49.3 million for the previous half year while revenues dropped to $312.7 million from $340.5 million.

The company declared a 2.5¢ unfranked dividend payable on September 30 and also announced a dividend reinvestment plan.

As with its smaller rival, Aristocrat reported strong results from the Australian market as well as promising signs from the US despite forecasts that this market will continue to shrink this year.

The company's chief executive, Jamie Odell, described the result as an important milestone in its five-year turnaround strategy with the company delivering on guidance of a 10 to 20 per cent improvement on last year's $55.2 million profit as well as demonstrating improved underlying performance in its core business.


Media Man Website Network Attracting Close To 6 Million Hits Per Month...

The well known Media Man website network, the online arm of Media Man, is attracting close to 6 million hits per month. The company was established in 2001 and coverage over a dozen different business sectors. Some of the Media Man website portals are listed in the Hitwise Australia top ten (entertainment - personalities category). Media Man is currently focused on the celebrity, film and television, technology, gaming and community sector. They plan to further ramp up their Casino News Media, Property News Media and Wrestling News Media brands.

*The writer has conducted b2 with Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment and Betfair.

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26 August 2011

Casino News Media: Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, Playtech - Media Man News Report, by Greg Tingle - 26th August 2011

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Media Man 'Online Casino Of The Month Award'...

PartyCasino.com has once again won the Media Man 'Online Casino Of The Month' Award. Richard Branson's VirginCasino.com picked up 2nd place, while new entrant into the Asia Pacific Region, Grand Reef Online Casino picks up 3rd. Well done to all brands.




Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Talk Of The Town...

Earlier this year, PartyGaming and bwin merged to create Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, which is traded on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol BPTY. In an news article that appeared in The Independent last Tuesday, it was noted that since the two online gaming giants merged, the combined company’s share price has dipped by nearly half. While part of the drop might be due to a slowing economic environment worldwide and so no action might be needed, other entities felt that an infusion could be in the offing. The news outlet cautioned, however, that investors might wait for the gaming environment in the United States to be sorted out first: "Not everyone agreed with the chatter, however, with one trader saying acquisitions in the sector were unlikely until there was further clarification over the potential regulation of online gambling in the U.S."

Despite the merger, PartyPoker.com remains the flagship site of its own network, while bwin makes its home on the Ongame Network alongside rooms such as Betfair.

Caesars Entertainment, one of the principal competitors of Wynn Resorts, has partnered with 888, also a publicly traded company in London. Prior to Black Friday, Full Tilt Poker teamed up with Fertitta Interactive, whose ownership group has strong ties to Station Casinos. Along with the PokerStars - Wynn deal, the latter fell by the wayside once the U.S. Department of Justice took action in April. Other members of TwoPlusTwo continued to cast doubt on the validity of The Independent’s report. One player wrote, "Party has never had any interest in selling. This feels like an absolute recycle of the previous such rumor that they were going to be bought out by Harrah’s. Unsurprisingly, it turns out there was never such a thing on the table and the only connection was former Party CEO Mitch Garber moving to Caesars Interactive." Rumors have also persisted that the Ongame Network could be sold outright. To that end, Sharecast.com noted in a recent article, "Bwin.Party, the world's largest online gaming group, already has its poker network, Ongame, on the auction block. The sale is expected to generate between 20M and 30M Euros ($28.5m to $42.7m), a modest figure reflecting the loss of players the network will incur through the sale." But could a deal between Wynn and Bwin.Party be finalized before online poker is legalized in the United States? And will it matter? This week, the New York Post published an article stating that online poker legislation could be coming sooner rather than later. One source told the Post, "I think there is becoming a feeling in Congress that this is something that needs to be regulated and be done. I believe there is a possibility a bill will pass towards the end of the year." Media Man will be following the story with weekly reports.


Playtech delays interim dividend; shares fall...25th August 2011

Playtech , the world's biggest provider of online gambling software, said it would defer a decision over its interim dividend until 2011 final results as it was in talks regarding potential buyout and partnership deals, sending its shares down 8 percent.

"Due to exceptional strategic M&A and partnership opportunities which are currently under discussion, in order to retain maximum flexibility, it (board) will defer a decision over the interim dividend," Playtech said in a statement on Thursday.

Collins Stewart cut its price target on the company's stock to 440 pence from 505 pence citing concerns over dividend payouts.

"PTEC has chosen to defer a decision on the interim dividend, to conserve cash given acquisition/investment opportunities emerging in regulating markets, particularly given the weak financial markets backdrop," the brokerage said.

However, the Estonia-based company, which operates a joint venture with Britain's biggest bookmaker William Hill and provides software to Paddy Power, PartyGaming and Gala Coral, posted strong first-half results boosted by its casino and bingo products.

Playtech reported adjusted earnings before interest, tax and depreciation (EBITDA) of 56.1 million euros ($80.8 million), compared with 54.2 million euros last year.

Total revenues on a continuing basis grew 18 percent to 76.3 million euros.

The company also said it was confident of meeting its expectations for the year. The average forecast for Playtech's full-year EBITDA stands at 108 million euros.

Playtech, whose billionaire Israeli founder Teddy Sagi continues to hold a 40 percent stake, said average software revenue for the first 54 days of the second half were up more than 23 percent compared with last year on introduction of casino games and poker cash table games in Italy.

Playtech shares, which have lost more than a quarter of their value since the start of the year, were down 4.5 percent at 302.25 pence at 0814 GMT on the London Stock Exchange. The stock touched a low of 290 pence earlier in the session.


No dividend for Playtech investors...

Gaming software developer Playtech has chosen to pass on paying a dividend until the final results for the year, blaming the move on exceptional strategic mergers and acquisitions and partnership opportunities currently under discussion.

The company saw its revenue creep higher, from €72.8m to €76.3m, for the six month period ending 30 June, while pre-tax profit was only marginally up at €37.8m (2010 H1: €37.7m).

Net profit for the firm was up just 2% to €37.9m (2010 H1: €37.0m), but the company is confident of meeting expectations for the year.

Roger Withers, non-executive Chairman, said: "Playtech has continued to make strong progress in an uncertain market, winning new licensees, exploiting opportunities in existing and soon to be regulated markets and identifying valuable acquisitions which will add to the group's offering.

"Despite the complexity and uncertainty of moves towards regulation in Europe and the US, Playtech has positioned itself, both independently and through its joint ventures, to benefit from the continued growth of the online gaming market. As more jurisdictions move towards regulation, Playtech is able to offer new and existing operators a market leading suite of products and services, helping them to navigate the complexities of changing regulatory environments."

The company's casino revenues increased by 7% to €52.7m (2010: €49.1m), poker revenues decreased 33% to €10.7m (2010: €15.8m) and bingo revenues increased 59% to €7.1m (2010: €4.5m).

Trading in the second half of the financial year has got off to a strong start, despite the third quarter traditionally being a quiet one for the company.

Daily average software revenues for the first 54 days of the third quarter were up more than 23% in comparison to the comparable quarter in 2010, and up more than 2% versus the previous quarter.

The company partially attributed this improvement to both the introduction of casino games and poker cash table games in Italy, and the defection of players to Playtech's poker licensees due to the suspension of the second largest poker operator. In addition, service revenues introduced for the first time through the July acquisition of PTTS are trading strongly and in line with expectations.

The company's full year dividend was €0.19 in 2010, up 4% on the previous year.

The group had cash and equivalents worth €64.3m, up €4.3m from the same period the previous year.

Broker Peel Hunt said the figures were ahead of its expectations, but said the deferral of the interim dividend was a surprise.

"Some may not like the deferral of the interim dividend but, given the group’s acquisition track record and that ultimately Playtech is a growth story, we can see the logic behind the decision," analyst Nick Batram said.

The broker rates the shares as a "buy" and has a target price of 393p.

Panmure Gordon is also a buyer of the shares, and has a much higher target price of 494p.

"We anticipate upgrading our [full year] forecasts to c€120m EBITDA for 2011E and the stock is inexpensive trading on a 2011E P/E of 9.3x and an EV/EBITDA of 7.2x," the broker argues.

The share price was down 4.98% to 300.75p at 12:35.


FTSE 250 Movers: Bwin.party bid may be on the cards...

Bwin.party Digital Entertainment saw its share price head north as rumours persist that a US company has it in its sights.

Casinos operator Wynn Resorts is one name in the frame, with a take-out price of 170p per share being talked about.

Bwin.party, the world's largest online gaming group, already has its US poker network, OnGame, on the auction block.

The sale is expected to generate between 20m and 30m euros ($28.5m to $42.7m), a modest figure reflecting the loss of players the network will encur through the sale.

Irish mining company Kenmare Resources was rapidly heading back down following a rally of 7.5% on Monday on the back of a tip in the Daily Telegraph which declared Kenmare a "bargain share".

FTSE 250 - Risers
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 112.50p +6.43%


IGN Entertainment & Caesars Entertainment Announce Partnership to Bring Professional Video Gaming Tournaments to Caesars Casino Hotels...

Inaugural Live Event - IGN Pro League (IPL) 3: Origins - October 6-9 at Caesars Atlantic City


Players at home can participate in the gaming challenges with technology powered by Playhem
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 25, 2011 - IGN Entertainment, the leading video games media company, and Caesars Entertainment, the world's largest casino entertainment company, today announced a partnership to bring IGN Pro League (IPL) gaming tournaments to Caesars casinos. The live tournament event – IPL 3: Origins – featuring the mega-franchise StarCraft II from Blizzard Entertainment, will take place October 6-9th at Caesars Atlantic City, in the Circus Maximus Theater.

The Atlantic City tournament is the first time professional video gaming will hit the stage at Caesars – a major step in elevating video games as a spectator sport. IGN Pro League events also continue to be streamed live online at http://www.ign.com/ipl.

"Games will continue to be a dominant entertainment medium of the next 20 years, and the time is ripe for eSports to make its mark as a mainstream form of entertainment that can produce the next genre of celebrity in sports," said David Ting, General Manager of eSports and Vice President of Research & Development at IGN. "We believe that pro video gaming can become as popular as mainstream sports such as basketball, tennis and wrestling, and we are thrilled to partner with Caesars to bring video games to the forefront."

"Atlantic City is the top entertainment destination on the East Coast, and the location of Caesars Atlantic City at Center Boardwalk is prime for events such as the IGN Pro League tournament," said Don Marrandino, Eastern Division President for Caesars Entertainment. "We are thrilled to host this one-of-a-kind event in October and look forward to a fantastic weekend of intense video game competition."

For the inaugural Atlantic City event, IGN will bring together 32 of the top StarCraft II players to compete for $100,000 in prizes. In advance of the tournament, IGN will set up four online qualifying tournaments, where the top two players of each qualifier will be guaranteed at least $1,000 in winnings and free travel and accommodation for the event. There will be 256 competitors competing live at the venue. From these, 16 will be chosen to compete among 32 finalists live on stage in the Atlantic City event. Players and fans who converge on Atlantic City for IPL 3: Origins in October will witness global StarCraft II stars such as IdrA, Select and WhiteRa competing for the top spot and a chance to win up to $100,000.

Upping the ante for players and spectators, social networking commerce site Playhem.com will support the event by providing back-end betting technology that enables gamers of any level to play against others in head-to-head matches and tournaments for cash and prizes. IGN's online qualifiers are powered by the Playhem technology.

"Playhem is incredibly excited to be providing the online challenge gaming and tournament functionality for this ambitious and momentous initiative," said Ryan DeSanto, Co-Founder of Playhem.

The IGN Pro League is a franchise that reflects how video gaming has become a legitimate and prestigious profession. Launched in April 2011, IGN Pro League has attracted more than 1.2 million unique visitors and nearly 6 million page views to its tournaments. IPL 1 invited 16 of the top StarCraft players in North America, and IPL 2 – Across the Atlantic – convened 32 of the U.S. and Europe's best StarCraft II players to its online competitions, vying for their part of a $50,000 prize pot. The IPL 3: Origins event at Caesars in Atlantic City, as well as the previous two IPL installments, can be accessed online at http://www.ign.com/ipl.

About IGN Entertainment
IGN Entertainment is the leading Internet media and services provider focused on the video game and entertainment enthusiast markets. Collectively, IGN's properties reached more than 70 million unique users worldwide in February 2011, according to Internet audience measurement firm comScore. IGN's network of video game-related properties (IGN.com, 1UP.com, GameSpy, FilePlanet, TeamXbox and others) is the Web's #1 video game information destination. IGN also owns the world's largest men's lifestyle website, AskMen.com, and men's entertainment site UGO.com. It also provides technology for online game play in video games. IGN is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, with offices across North America, Europe and Australia.
About Caesars Entertainment

Caesars Entertainment Corporation is the world's largest provider of branded casino entertainment. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada, more than 73 years ago, Caesars has grown through development of new properties, expansions and acquisitions, and now operates casinos on four continents. The company's properties operate primarily under the Harrah's®, Caesars® and Horseshoe® brand names. Caesars also owns the World Series of Poker® and the London Clubs International family of casinos. Caesars Entertainment is focused on building loyalty and value with its customers through a unique combination of great service, excellent products, unsurpassed distribution, operational excellence and technology leadership. For more information, please visit www.caesars.com.

About Playhem
Playhem is a video game social network that connects gamers in competition, enabling friends to challenge one another for points, cash and prizes at their favorite games, making them more exciting and engaging. Playhem works across brands, devices, and genres through support of mass-market pc, console, casual and mobile games.
SOURCE IGN Entertainment

RELATED LINKS
http://www.ign.com/ipl
http://www.caesars.com


Media Man 'Online Casino Of The Month Award'...

PartyCasino.com has once again won the Media Man 'Online Casino Of The Month' Award. Richard Branson's VirginCasino.com picked up 2nd place, while new entrant into the Asia Pacific Region, Grand Reef Online Casino picks up 3rd. Well done to all brands.


Betfair Poaches Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Executive...

A talent war of sorts has broken out between Bwin.Party and Betfair, with Betfair scoring the most recent strike.

Betfair has by all accounts poached bwin.party’s central marketing director Matt Robinson to become the firm's emerging markets director, a new role created for the top notch gaming executive.

Robinson, who has been at PartyGaming, today known as bwin.party, for two years and was previously at 888 for six years launching the brand in the UK, will join the betting exchange in September reporting to chief commercial officer Niall Wass.

Media Man wishes him well, and holds both Bwin.Party and Betfair in high regard.

*The writer has conducted b2 with Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment and Betfair.

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