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Playboy slot pays AUD$296,202.50 at Casino-Mate

The big jackpot winner for March has been announced by Casino-Mate, with one lucky Australian player earning a life-changing prize. Online player S.S. was able to harness a little luck on March 11th and hit a massive jackpot worth AUD$296,202.50 while playing the Playboy slot machine. The Playboy slot game is based on the Playboy brand and offers players up to 25 free spins during game play. The slot has a 5x multiplier and five reels with 25 pay lines. New players to the game will find that four gorgeous ladies from the Playboy house are ready to show the gamer around and help along the way to produce mega-wins. Let Kimi, Jillian, Sofia and Ashley take you on a guided tour of the mansion as you try to be the next big winner. When you become a member of Casino-Mate, you will have access to 24/7 luxury VIP programming, massive jackpots, free slot games and quality casino action. The online casino is a favorite in Australia and provides members with limitless progressive jackpots and the latest in casino gaming. Choose from such favorites as Jurassic Park, Game of Thrones and Tarzan, just to name a few of the top slots found at the site. Currently, Casino-Mate is offering a Welcome Package for new members with AUD$1,400 available in free bonus plus free spins. Play games with a boosted balance as a new member or take advantage of exclusive new game promotions and daily offers as an already registered member of the site. The Australian online casino offers members the hottest online gaming experience with exceptional security for player peace of mind. Customer support is available 24/7 for questions or assistance. For more information, please visit: https://latestcasinobonuses.com/casinos/casino-aus. Part of the Vegas Parnter Lounge (VPL), Casino-Mate is a top Australian online casino. VPL is a gaming group that has more than 16 years of experience in the gaming industry, hosting such prestigious online casinos as Crazy Vegas, Golden Riviera Casino and Maple Casino.

Posted on Saturday March 25, 2017

Month-long Playtech promotion promising to hand out over £500,000 in cash

Gambling software, systems and services firm Playtech has launched its largest ever online casino network promotion that is promising to award players with cash prizes totaling in excess of £500,000 ($625,800) over the next 28 days. Isle Of Man-based Playtech declared that this prize draw promotion has been designed to coincide with its premiere of a series of superhero-themed games including a trio of Superman titles and follows last year’s similar £250,000 ($312,800) campaign to celebrate its launch of a series of games featuring DC Comics characters. “We are delighted to announce our biggest ever casino network promotion across a selection of our most popular and best-performing games and I’d like to thank all of our participating licensees for their continued support and making this our biggest ever giveaway,” read a statement from Shimon Akad, Chief Operating Officer for Playtech. Playtech explained that the giveaway will consist of four draws including one for £200,000 ($250,200) alongside three others each worth £100,000 ($125,100) while there will moreover be headline prizes of £5,000 ($6,250) up for grabs as well as hundreds of smaller cash windfalls. “We consistently deliver more than 50 new and exciting games a year complete with a host of innovative features across a wide range of diverse regulated markets,” read the statement from Akad. “No other supplier can deliver at these speeds and to these levels of quality and offer such a diverse and fresh range of games.” Playtech stated that participating online casino players will receive one ticket into a cash draw for every £10 ($12.50) they have wagered on games including Superman, Superman II, Man Of Steel, Green Lantern, Space Invaders, Halloween Fortune 2, Buffalo Blitz, Age Of The Gods and Plenty O’ Fortune while the firm disclosed that it is planning a similar promotion later in the year to coincide with the start of the United Kingdom’s next domestic football season. “We have meticulously planned the last nine months’ content release schedule and strategically aligned it with a series of fantastic marketing promotions,” read the statement from Akad. “Yet again, I’m thrilled to say that our industry-leading content teams have delivered some incredible products. We’re already looking forward to our next promotion.”

Posted on Saturday March 25, 2017

Cate Hall proves women can play poker

After months of back and forth on Twitter, poker pros Cate Hall and Mike Dentale finally completed their grudge match with Hall earning the victory. On March 19th, Hall and Dentale took to the felt at the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia to compete in heads-up play to see who could earn the win. The two were set to play three matches and the player to earn two individual wins would be the overall winner. A third match would never take place as Hall would earn victories in the first and second match, dominating the matchup. When game play began, Hall would quickly have an advantage. She would win the first round when Dentale would go all-in with Qs 5d. Hall would call holding Ad 9h and the board ran 3s 9s 5c 4s Jd. Hall would win with the higher pair and start out the grudge match 1 to 0. As he was losing, Dentale began to be vocal at the table, much like he was on social media. He continued to try and get into Hall’s head, challenging her in a number of ways. Yet, Hall remained cool and collected, staying silent for the majority of the matchup. Eventually, being behind would began to get to Dentale and he would go all-in yet again, this time with a pair of aces. On the final hand, Dentale’s Ac 2s would not hold up to Hall’s pocket kings as the board ran As 5s Kd 8h Kh, giving Hall quads and Dentale the loss. While Dentale was not a gracious loser, Hall was happy with the win, proving her skill and earning $30,000 for her efforts. The entire grudge match took place due to a feud between Hall and Dentale that started back in December. Hall took to Twitter to talk about her game play during the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic and Dentale ended up calling her ‘clueless’ and the two would go back and forth for some time before the showdown would take place this past week. Dan Blizerian would even become involved, taking to his Twitter account to say that he knew nothing about who Hall was facing but he would bet against her because she is a woman and women can’t play poker. Wonder what Blizerian has to say now that Hall earned a shutout win in the heads-up matchup, proving that she in fact can play the game.  

Posted on Saturday March 25, 2017

GVC Holdings reports doubled annual profit following rival acquisition

Multinational sportsbetting and gaming firm GVC Holdings has released its financial results for 2016 showing that pro forma sports wagers increased by 4% year-on-year to reach $4.92 billion off of a margin that had improved by 1.1% to hit 9.6%. The Isle Of Man-based firm completed its acquisition of rival Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment in February of 2016 and revealed that the purchase had helped it to record pro forma annual net gaming revenues of $966.82 million, which was a rise of 9% year-on-year, while its earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortization swelled by 26% to $222.29 million. London-listed GVC Holdings explained that all of this gave it an adjusted annual profit before tax of $101.36 million, which was considerably up when compared with the previous year’s $50.14 million, while its net debt now stood at $142.09 million. “The acquisition of Bwin.Party [Digital Entertainment] in February of 2016 was our most ambitious transaction to date and through the hard work of our people we have once again demonstrated our ability to create significant shareholder value through selected acquisitions,” read a statement from Kenneth Alexander, Chief Executive Officer for GVC Holdings. “Our strategy of pursuing international diversification and scale through leveraging our proprietary technology is more appropriate today than at any time in our history. The organic growth opportunity is equally exciting and we are confident of delivering further growth in 2017.” In related news, GVC Holdings has additionally announced that it has continued to diversify its board of directors following the appointment of Will Whitehorn as its Senior Independent Director. The Deputy Chairman and Senior Independent Director for Stagecoach Group and an independent non-executive director for Purplebricks Group, the 56-year-old was previously a member of the GlobalScot business mentoring network and served as non-executive chairman for Next Fifteen Communications Group, Crowd Reactive Limited and Speed Communications Agency Limited. “I am delighted that Will has agreed to join the board and we look forward to working with him,” read a statement from Lee Feldman, Chairman for GVC Holdings. “He brings a wealth of innovative commercial experience and corporate knowledge. The appointment reflects the company's continuing commitment to broadening the skills-base of its board and enhancing its corporate governance practices following the move to the premium segment [of the official list] in 2016.” Whitehorn joined Virgin Group in 1987 and served as its Group Public Relations Manager before being appointed as the firm’s Brand Development And Corporate Affairs Director. He subsequently helped to establish the company’s Virgin Games enterprise and served as President for Virgin Galactic from 2007 to 2011. “I am very excited to be joining and contributing to the great team that has built GVC Holdings so successfully,” read a statement from Whitehorn. “It is a company that is growing in an industry that is changing dramatically due to new technology, competition and regulation. All of which means exciting opportunities and challenges ahead.”

Posted on Saturday March 25, 2017

North Korea seeking foreign investment for casino cruise ship

Despite not being known for its tourism industry, the secretive nation of North Korea is reportedly seeking foreign investment in order to operate a cruise ship complete with a casino on routes around southeast Asia and across the Sea Of Japan to the Russian port of Vladivostok. According to a report from the Financial Times newspaper, the authoritarian nation of 24 million people established its special Mount Kumgang tourist region in 1988 in an attempt to attract overseas visitors and bring in legal sources of hard currency. Access to this rural area only a few miles from the nation’s border with South Korea remains heavily restricted but it does offer visitors the chance to take part in highly choreographed tours. The newspaper reported that North Korea is now seeking investments of up to $20 million from foreign entities with the cash due to be used to operate tours on the 30,000-ton Royale Star from the port of Kosong, which is located near the Mount Kumgang area. “We are trying to diversify international tourism at the world-renowned Mount Kumgang by using cruise ship services,” read the official government proposal. “The tourist passenger ships will have a variety of facilities so 1,000 passengers can experience safe and cultural travel.” The Associated Press reported that the Soviet-era ship would additionally offer passengers “preferential business conditions” with trips targeted towards vacationers from nations such as Malaysia, China and Russia. “I strongly doubt there will be foreign investors who are willing to invest money in North Korea given the current situation,” Lim Eul-Chul from South Korea’s Kyungnam University told the Financial Times. “North Korea has been interested in attracting investors to the tourism sector since 2014 in order to cope with international sanctions but they haven’t been very active given other developments.”

Posted on Friday March 24, 2017

Macau junket promoter declared bankrupt

In September, beleaguered Macau junket investor Iao Kun closed three VIP rooms in the special administrative region. Two of the rooms were located on Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG) properties; one at StarWorld and the other at Galaxy Macau. The same month GEG issued letters to Iao Kun linked promoters Sang Lung Gaming Promotion Company Limited and Sang Heng Gaming Promotion Company Limited asking the two companies to repay lines of credit amounting to HK$312 million (US$38.8 million). According to a December filing to the Nasdaq Stock Market, at least one of the companies had been summoned before Macau's Court of First Instance to answer a plea by Galaxy to declare the company bankrupt. At that time, Iao Kun wrote in their stock filing that, "The lines of credit for Sang Heng and Sang Lung are guaranteed by Mr. Lam or Mr. Vong and are secured by their personal checks and a deposit paid by Mr. Lam," referring to the company's chairman and chief executive officer. "The Company has engaged counsel in Macau to handle the matter and to defend the claim against Sang Heng and Sang Lung," the filing added. This week the Court declared Sang Lung Gaming Promotion Co Ltd bankrupt and on March 22, told creditors to make their claims within 45 days. No decision has yet been published about Sang Heng Gaming. In early March of this year Iao Kun announced that although they would remain with the firm, Mr. Lam and Mr. Vong had resigned from their executive positions with Lam taking on the duties of chief marketing officer and Vong moving to the position of chief operating officer. The company had been hit hard by Beijing's crackdown on junket operators and the firm began a process of diversification. After securing junket operations in Australia in May of 2015, this past June the firm announced it would take a 96.23% stake in Bloomberry/Solaire's Golden Luxury to acquire the Jeju Sun Hotel & Casino in Jeju, Korea. In October the company announced it was restructuring operations as well as closing a fourth room at L'Arc Macau. The Jeju deal was cancelled while Iao Kun remarshalled its forces and the company furthered diversification by acquiring a software development company. Once one of the most important junket promoters in Macau with five rooms in operation including one at Sands Cotai and a smaller room at Le Royal Arc, Beijing's iron fist has squeezed a measurable part of life out of the company, founded on the rising tide of Macau VIP gaming in 2007, as president Xi Jinping attempts to root out all real and perceived gaming improprieties and irregularities. Iao Kun's last bastion in the city is a VIP gaming room at City of Dreams Macau.

Posted on Friday March 24, 2017

Bloomberry Resorts Corporation is back in the black

Asian casino operator Bloomberry Resorts Corporation has published its financial results for 2016 showing that all-time record VIP volume and mass-market table drop led to it transforming the previous year’s annual deficit of $67.28 million into a profit of $46.18 million. Bloomberry Resorts Corporation runs the Solaire Resort And Casino in Manila along with South Korea’s Jeju Sun Hotel And Casino and revealed that its annual gross gaming revenues had improved by 18.7% year-on-year to $767.71 million while its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization more than doubled to hit approximately $211.19 million. In addition, annual net revenues swelled by 21.2% year-on-year to $606.35 million with promotional allowances growing by 13.5% to $209.01 million, which Bloomberry Resorts Corporation declared had been “significantly slower than the growth in gross gaming revenues”. Last year moreover saw the firm detail a 92.1% decline year-on-year in its provision for doubtful accounts to $4.06 million due to “continuing improvements in the credit evaluation and approval processes” while its receivables at end of December stood at around $58.97 million. “The year was not without its challenges but our continuing programs of financial management, marketing, property and systems improvements and staff engagement rallied us through,” read a statement from Enrique Razon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Bloomberry Resorts Corporation. “Overall, we are more than pleased with the results that put us in good standing with the competition. We hope to use this position of strength to carry us into, if not surpass, the results for the current year.” In the Philippines, Bloomberry Resorts Corporation explained that its annual gross gaming revenues had increased by 18.9% year-on-year to $763.72 million while the figure for the three months to the end of December advanced by 35% to $208.43 million “helped by an improvement in the quarterly VIP hold rate to 2.85%”. “In 2016, the Solaire [Resort And Casino] generated record VIP volume, mass-market table drop and electronic gaming machine coin-in with VIP volume growth of 29% while mass-market table drop grew by 12% and electronic gaming machine coin-in grew by 18%,” read a statement from Manila-listed Bloomberry Resorts Corporation.

Posted on Friday March 24, 2017

Golden Nugget avoids $1 million March Madness payout

Las Vegas casino owner Derek Stevens was set to earn a $1 million payout if Michigan was able to pull out the win during the 2017 March Madness tournament. The Wolverines were the seventh-seeded team in the series and Stevens posted a $12,500 bet at the Golden Nugget on March 13th that the team would win. Unfortunately, Stevens will not be $1 million richer as the Wolverines were put out of the tournament after taking on Oregon earlier this week. Not only did the D Las Vegas and Golden Gate Hotel and Casino owner post the big bet on his alma mater, he also bet $11,000 each on all of the 32 first-round games. During the opening round of NCAA tournaments, Stevens was already down $109,000. As far as the Michigan wager was concerned, the bet by Stevens was approved by Tilman Fertitta personally, the owner of the Golden Nugget. After Stevens placed the wager, he posted an image of the ticket on Twitter, with Fertitta tweeting back, “Should be fun my friend!”, seemingly not worried about the potential to lose $1 million. Fertitta was right not to worry as Michigan lost to Oregon in a close game with a score of 69-68. Oregon now moves on to compete in the Elite Eight. If Michigan had been able to hang on and earn the number one finish, the payout by the Golden Nugget would have been 10 times larger than any payment the sports book has ever made. This is not the first time that Stevens has made a big bet on sports teams of his home state. Two years ago, the casino owner wagered $20,000 on the Spartans to win the NCAA championship and his wager was accepted by Tony Miller, the director of the Golden Nugget sportsbook. The Michigan team made it to the final four but were unable to pull out a win, losing out to the Duke Blue Devils.

Posted on Friday March 24, 2017

Silver Heritage Group increases budget for under-construction Nepal casino

Asian casino operator Silver Heritage Group has increased the budget for its under-construction Tiger Palace Resort Bhairahawa in Nepal by over 34% and begun raising additional funds to cover the escalating costs. Sydney-listed Silver Heritage Group had initially intended to inaugurate the development complete with a 26,597 sq ft casino offering 200 slots and 52 gaming tables in October but later delayed this opening to February. This deadline subsequently slipped due to “temporary unexpected delays” that included “a shortage of liquidity” in the local banking system while the firm was last month granted a suspension of its stock by the Australian Securities Exchange as it looked for ways to raise enough cash to finish the project located approximately seven miles from the Nepalese border with India. Silver Heritage Group has now revealed that the budget for its Tiger Palace Resort Bhairahawa will stand at $53.8 million, which is 34.5% higher than the $40 million originally forecast, while it currently intends open the development’s hotel in August before inaugurating its casino in November. “Once the capital raising exercise is completed, management expects that the construction of Tiger Palace Resort Bhairahawa will be fully funded,” read a Thursday filing from Silver Heritage Group to the Australian Securities Exchange. The filing from Hong Kong-based Silver Heritage Group additionally explained that the $13.8 million in additional funding now needed to complete the Tiger Palace Resort Bhairahawa will encompass about $6.8 million for its hospitality, casino and hotel public areas due to “concerns over [the] quality of locally produced product” along with approximately $3 million to remedy “variations to original plans in particular to casino and public areas”. The firm declared that just over $2.2 million was moreover needed to satisfy pre-operating expenses such as “costs associated with completion delay” while it was setting aside in excess of $1.5 million for any “unforeseen events, delays and other increases in budget”. “Construction of Tiger Palace Resort Bhairahawa has made good progress [with] infrastructure 90% complete, hospitality 80% complete [and] casino and public areas 60% complete,” read the Thursday filing. Silver Heritage Group was established in 2003 and received its listing on the Australian Securities Exchange in August. It manages and operates the Phoenix International Club near Hanoi, which is one of only seven licensed casinos in the whole of Vietnam, as well as The Millionaire’s Club And Casino inside Kathmandu’s Shangri La Hotel And Resort while holding interests in gaming venues in Laos and Cambodia. Earlier this month saw the company state that its Special Projects Executive Director, Hugh Holmes, had resigned and that it had installed a new management team led by casino industry veteran Adam Titus, who has been involved with projects such as the MGM Macau and the Okada Manila developments.

Posted on Friday March 24, 2017

House Concurrent Resolution 3033 shot down by North Dakota lawmakers

A resolution that would have allowed casinos to be constructed in North Dakota outside of reservation lands was defeated yesterday in a major fashion. Lawmakers voted against House Concurrent Resolution 3033 by a vote of 28-63, a bill introduced by Al Carlson, the House Majority Leader. If the resolution had been able to gain ground and be passed into law, it would have allowed for as many as six casinos (state-owned) to be created off reservation lands. The casinos would have been located away from larger cities in the state. In a last ditch effort to see the bill move forward, changes were made by Carlson to allow no more than six private casinos, all of which had to be located away from the reservations, at least 40 miles in distance. Additional restrictions on location were not included in the change. The measure would have seen the industry regulated by a state commission. Even if the resolution had been passed by House lawmakers, voters would have had to approve an amendment to the state constitution in the general election of 2018 for the bill to move forward in becoming law. Tribes and charitable gaming groups have been in opposition of the resolution since it was proposed, with individuals representing both sectors testifying against the original form of the resolution earlier this month. Both the charities and tribal groups feel that allowing such gaming options would cut into their revenues. Currently, casinos are only allowed on tribal lands in the state via federal law. Charitable gaming and the multi-state lottery offerings are available due to the state constitution. According to the Bismarck Tribune, Mark Fox, the Chairman of Three Affiliated Tribes, stated that the vote on Thursday was the best decision for all parties involved. In the past, Fox had stated to lawmakers that casino revenues used by the tribes would be greatly diminished if the state were to allow casinos off-reservation lands. Charitable Gaming Association of North Dakota President Jonathan Jorgensen was happy with the vote, stating that people have a limited amount of income that is used for entertainment and some of that money was going to go away from the charitable gaming and be spent at privately owned casinos via the measure. Carlson introduced the resolution just a short time ago and saw trouble from the start. The lawmakers of the House chose to extend committee deadlines many times in March before the bill was able to reach the floor this past week. A ‘do not pass’ recommendation was handed down twice by the House Judiciary Committee, most recently during the resolutions amended form on Monday. During the debate before the vote, only four lawmakers made public comments. Representative Shannon Roers Jones was concerned that the resolution seemed to be a response to protests connected to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Carlson stated that it was not created in retaliation towards the tribes and that the resolution would give Legislature the ability to choose whether to allow casinos. Carlson stated that the decision by the House should not be whether or not lawmakers are in favor of gambling but whether or not voters should have a say in the matter. The Representative stated after the vote that he did not expect the resolution to pass and that Legislature still has a great deal of work to do this session on big-ticket items.

Posted on Friday March 24, 2017

Baha Mar Casino And Hotel takes giant step forward

After recently running afoul of import rules concerning its collection of slots, the beleaguered Baha Mar Casino And Hotel in the Bahamas has finally had some good news as yesterday saw it formally handed over to its new owner and receive a temporary certificate of occupancy for its hotel. Scheduled to open from April 21, the $3.5 billion New Providence Island development is now officially owned by CTF BM Holdings, which is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based conglomerate Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited, while the temporary certificate of occupancy for its Grand Hyatt Baha Mar hotel means that this facility is permitted to officially welcome guests after all of its life safety, mechanical and electrical systems were tested and approved. “Everyone who is here today can feel the excitement,” Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie stated during a special handover ceremony on Wednesday. “I for myself have seen new employees who were coming in for training and moving forward all on course to make this project a big success. Six hundred and fifty Bahamians I’m advised have already been hired at the Baha Mar [Casino And Hotel] and 1,500 employees will be hired by the April 21 opening.” The receipt of the temporary certificate of occupancy also means that the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar hotel can begin finalizing its 1,800 contemporary guest rooms and suites, which are due to feature deluxe amenities and private balconies overlooking the ocean and the development’s pools and golf course. “We’re well on our way,” said Graeme Davis, President for Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited. “We have exciting teams that are ready to make sure we open to the world and it’s up to new standards for this destination. We are already full for our first day. We have invited guests that are already coming for our celebration but it is open to the public to come here and enjoy.” The Grand Hyatt Baha Mar hotel is additionally set to feature 20 food and beverage outlets as well as members-only level while Davis explained that the casino portion of the Baha Mar Casino And Hotel development is progressing smoothly and should be ready to open by April 21. “We just want to make sure the experience is done right and that we get the training done right,” said Davis. “We are taking our time and making sure that our associates are well trained and we deliver an exceptional feeling for every guest.” Initially a project of BMD Holdings with funding from China Export-Import Bank, Baha Mar Casino And Hotel was originally scheduled to open for business in 2014 but ran into delays and difficulties that ultimately led to it filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections in a Delaware court in 2015. The developer, which was headed by real estate billionaire Sarkis Izmirlian, subsequently blamed these problems on China State Construction Engineering Corporation and its China Construction America Bahamas subsidiary before submitting an unsuccessful offer designed to resurrect the development. In a move that it hoped would protect the economy of the Bahamas, Christie’s government ultimately liquidated the entire project in October before inking a purchase agreement two months later with Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited, which has a presence in global real estate, hospitality, transportation and casino businesses. “The Baha Mar Casino And Hotel is being transferred to a world-class company, one that successfully manages prestigious hotels across the world including three successful resorts in the Caribbean,” Christie said during Wednesday’s handover ceremony. “No one knows better than me how these jobs can change lives. These new opportunities are going to bring meaningful change for a lot of Bahamian families and that’s what it’s all about. That’s why we worked so hard to make sure that the Baha Mar Casino And Hotel was delivered to successful and to safe hands.”

Posted on Thursday March 23, 2017

North Korea “Sony code” found in $81m cyber heist laundered in PH casinos

In the U.S., federal prosecutors are looking into whether North Korea played a role in the February 2016, theft of $81m from the New York Federal Reserve Bank belonging to the Bangladesh Central Bank. Initial reporting indicated the hackers were from China. The culprits reportedly introduced the stolen funds into the Philippines banking system, sold them to an underground foreign exchange broker, then transferred proceeds into at least two local casinos, the funds were then bought back by the money broker and transferred out to accounts overseas in a short period of time. The Wall Street Journal reports that anonymous sources have indicated that no charges have been filed in the U.S. yet but Chinese middlemen would likely be the targets. Some federal officials believe that, although a unique piece of code was found related to the North Korean cyber attack on Sony in reprisal for the production and promotion of a movie critical of North Korea's Kim Jong-un, the code may have been tweaked to leave a false trail. The Sony code was reportedly made public after the hack. A piece of that code was used to identify North Korea as parts of that code were nearly identical in structure and functionality to malware known to have been deployed in the past by North Korea. No charges were ever filed in the Sony hack of 2014. Bloomberg reports that the New York Fed/Bangladesh hackers used some of the same code. The money was reportedly transferred via SWIFT, meaning the global payment messaging system itself, or an employee was probably compromised, persuading the banks to transfer the funds into four accounts at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp in Manila. The heist, initially reported at $100 million and later confirmed to be $81m, could have been much larger as the initial attack called for $951m but the NY Fed halted transfers after suspicions were raised. In March of 2016, the Fed denied they had been compromised but did not rule out the SWIFT angle. On August 11, they responded to Freedom of Information Requests stating that they had provided the asked for documents on July 29. Finally, on August 16 a joint statement by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Bangladesh Bank, and SWIFT was released outlining a May 10 meeting the three entities held in Basel Switzerland. According to the Wall Street Journal, deputy director of the National Security Agency, Richard Ledgett, said at a panel discussion at the Aspen Institute this week in regard to the reported link to North Korea, "If that linkage is true, that means a nation-state is robbing banks," Ledgett said. "That is a big deal; it’s different.” In a colorful metaphor that does not seem apropos out of complete context, he went on to compare the situation to being like “security guards at Home Depot” being expected to stand up to the North Korean Army. A small portion, about $15 million, of the money has been returned to Bangladesh from the Philippine banking system after a regional trial court ordered the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to return the funds to the Bangladesh central bank. The Philippines Anti-Money Laundering Council stated in December that they were working on recovering more of the money but it's unclear if more has been returned. Kim Wong, head of Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company casinos and a junket operator, surrendered the last of the $15m to the Philippine bank in multiple tranches, the first $5 million in May and the last in September. Wong denied any wrongdoing. The Philippines casino industry was not covered under AML law when the heist occurred and the government has attempted to institute more stringent AML controls since that time, but the 2001 Anti-Money Laundering Act has still not been amended to include casinos. In February the country narrowly escaped being blacklisted by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force a global body focused on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing. The 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report from the United States’ Department of State continued to list the Philippines as a “country/jurisdiction of primary concern" due to extreme bank secrecy laws and casinos not being covered by the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Act.

Posted on Thursday March 23, 2017

New Orleans smoking ban hurts Caesars Entertainment Corporation

American casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corporation has reportedly told officials in Louisiana that the 2015 indoor smoking ban instituted in Orleans Parish has severely hurt business at its Harrah's Casino And Hotel New Orleans. According to a report from The Times-Picayune newspaper citing a story from the Manship School News Service, representatives for the Las Vegas-based casino operator made the revelation on Tuesday during a meeting with the Riverboat Economic Development And Gaming Task Force in Baton Rouge. Caesars Entertainment Corporation also operates the Horseshoe Bossier City and the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Casino And Racetrack facilities near the city of Shreveport and reportedly revealed that its New Orleans casino had lost about $70 million in revenues since the start of the smoking ban in April of 2015. Mark Frissora, President and Chief Executive Officer for Caesars Entertainment Corporation, reportedly told officials that its Harrah's Casino And Hotel New Orleans property had found it difficult to compete with casinos in surrounding counties as the smoking ban only applies to venues in Orleans Parish. “It's not fair because everyone else around us doesn't have the smoking ban,” Frissora reportedly told the Riverboat Economic Development And Gaming Task Force. Dan Real, Regional President South for Caesars Entertainment Corporation, reportedly told those assembled that the first quarter of 2015 had seen the Harrah's Casino And Hotel New Orleans post its best-ever financial results but that these had now decreased due to the indoor smoking ban. Despite the drop in business, Real reportedly explained that he remains optimistic about the future prospects of the Harrah's Casino And Hotel New Orleans due in part to the imminent launch of two new outdoor slot areas. The venue premiered a 63-machine smoker-friendly area in November and hopes to open an additional pair of courtyards by the start of July. “Sixty-three slot machines will never make up for the gap that's been created but that's one example of multiple things we're trying to do to fill the funnel that has been left void,” Real told the Manship School News Service. For his part, Frissora reportedly stated that Caesars Entertainment Corporation remains committed to Louisiana and is planning to build “casinos of the future” with one of these set for its current location in New Orleans. “Everything we do should address both millennials as well as baby boomers," Frissora told the Manship School News Service while pointing out that the Harrah's Casino And Hotel New Orleans is additionally planning to open a new all-ages entertainments center on its second floor in July.

Posted on Thursday March 23, 2017

No spike in gambling addiction in PA region despite warnings

In spite of warnings almost 10 years ago that compulsive gambling would increase when Western Pennsylvania's first legal casino, The Meadows, opened, no such spike is apparent. On Thursday, the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania, a private, nonprofit organization affiliated with the National Council on Problem Gambling, held its annual Pittsburgh conference and nothing presented indicated that gambling addiction had increased in the region in the past decade, according to The Associated Press. A spokesman for Gamblers Anonymous reportedly indicated that group meetings and attendance in the region have actually decreased from 10 years ago. A drop has also reportedly been seen in the number of calls received by the state compulsive gambling council's hotline from 2015 to 2016 from individuals seeking help. According to the news agency, individuals who admit they have an addiction continue to add themselves to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board's self-exclusion list, which prohibits them  “from collecting any winnings, recovering any losses or accepting complimentary gifts or services or any other thing of value at any licensed facility” but at a maintained annual pace, not a surging. As for the region’s therapists who have been practicing in the field since the casinos there have opened, they have not seen a sharp increase in the number of individuals seen as casinos became more accessible, including the Rivers Casino, which opened on the North Shore about two years after The Meadows, according to the report. Western Pennsylvania-West Virginia region of Gamblers Anonymous spokesman, Norm B., said that the presumption that the opening of local casinos would result in a spike in attendance was based on the experience of GA chapters nationally. However, rather than increasing, the region’s current 24 weekly meetings are fewer in number than 10 years ago, and their rolls of active attendees reportedly indicated about 20 fewer Pennsylvania residents. The spokesman said that he “expected a deluge of new people,” but that has not happened. The problem does still exist, however, with reportedly 1,422 calls made to the state council's gambling hotline in 2016 from either individuals, who themselves have a serious problem, or from someone who knows an individual who is a compulsive gambler and sought advice on getting help. About 1,500 new people are added to the voluntary self-exclusion list by the Gaming Control Board each year, with the knowledge that they can be arrested for trespassing if security personnel at a casino find them there. There are nearly 7,800 people on the list. Elizabeth Lanza, director of compulsive and problem gambling at the state gaming board, said, "In explaining it to the public, I like to say gambling addiction is a huge, enormous problem for a very small percentage of people," according to the report. Those in the field offer several possible explanations for why gambling-related problems have not increased locally in any visible way, one being the effectiveness of programs such as state-funded treatment, the requirement that casinos promote problem gambling awareness, and the exclusions list.

Posted on Thursday March 23, 2017

St Catharines joins call to re-think Niagara Falls casino selection process

In Canada, the councilors for the city of St Catharines have reportedly followed the lead of their counterparts in Niagara Falls by unanimously passing an official motion on Monday asking the Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corporation to halt the current process for selecting a new service provider to run the day-to-day operations of two area casinos. According to a report from the St Catharines Standard newspaper, the resolution was proposed by local councilor Mike Britton and asks the Ontario casino regulator to terminate the existing procedure to select the future operator of the Casino Niagara and Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort before re-issuing its request for pre-qualification proposals with input from local stakeholders. Niagara Falls has been home to the Casino Niagara since 1996 while the much larger Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort opened in 2004 with both owned by the Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corporation but managed by Toronto-based Falls Management Group. However, this current arrangement is reportedly due to expire in June of 2019 and the Crown corporation issued a request for pre-qualification proposals concerning its “Niagara Gaming Bundle” in mid-October so that it would be able to pre-approve prospective operators that are eligible to receive future request-for-proposal documents. But, Niagara Falls councilors unanimously passed an official resolution asking the regulator to think again in late-October and this has now been followed by St Catherines, which is the largest city in the region with a population of approximately 133,000. Opponents are reportedly worried that the current request for pre-qualification proposals for designating a new operator could see the region lose up to 1,400 jobs as it contains only one of the four official objectives laid out by the 1996 directive. “To think of the people that this would impact, it’s disheartening,” councilor Dave Haywood told the newspaper. “These people depend on this job. These people have spent almost 21 years there now. To have the chance that these jobs may disappear and have nothing to replace them, it’s something that everybody around here should be concerned about.” The St Catharines Standard reported that the current request for pre-qualification proposals asks that potential operators provide revenues for the province but has left out the 1996 objectives of creating jobs and a lasting economic benefit while acting as a catalyst for economic development. “It’s unfortunate the local stakeholders weren’t consulted but that probably would have slid if the plan turned out to be good,” Britton told the newspaper. “The problem was it was not. I don’t believe that’s right, that the only goal for this new modernization is to get revenues to the province. Frankly, they should be worried about job creation in Niagara as we all are.” The St Catharines Standard reported that the Casino Niagara and Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort are the region’s two largest employers with more than 4,000 jobs while a recent third-party study conducted by HLT Advisory found that the current Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corporation plan could see the area lose up to 1,400 positions along with tens of millions of dollars for the local economy. “We urge the government of Ontario to consult with local stakeholders as much as possible in this process,” Mishka Balsom, Chief Executive Officer for the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, told the newspaper. “Failing to do this would have significant negative consequences for Niagara.” The St Catharines Standard reported that Monday’s resolution will now be sent to the area’s provincial parliamentarians while councilors moreover asked Jim Bradley, a member of the Legislative Assembly Of Ontario representing the St Catherines electoral district, to support an open letter defending the 1,400 jobs written by Alan Caslin, Chairman for the Regional Municipality Of Niagara, and Niagara Falls mayor Jim Diodati. “For our union, it’s about protecting good paying [and] family-supporting jobs that benefit everyone,” Greg Brady from the local chapter of the Unifor trade union, which represents security workers at the two casinos, told the newspaper. “These hard-working people have their futures gambled with for the sake of balancing the provincial government’s books and it’s time for us to come together to fight back.”

Posted on Thursday March 23, 2017

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