New Indiana House bill could see changes to state casino industry

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Indiana State Representative Todd Huston recently introduced House Bill 1350 for consideration, a bill that would see changes to the casino industry of the state. To begin, a $3 admission fee per visitor would be done away with but an additional 3% wagering tax would be placed on operators who have gaming facilities in the state.
Currently, the state has a tax of 15% to 40% on casinos depending on the total gross gaming income of the individual facility. The new bill would change the riverboat admissions tax to a new supplement wagering tax of 3% of the adjusted gross receipts of the riverboats.
If the bill were to be signed into law, communities in the state would earn less in distribution dollars from casinos. Around $48 million is provided to regional governments each year but the bill would reduce this amount by around $18 million.
Huston is calling his bill a way to help casinos to invest in their own gaming properties. The Representative would like to see the riverboats and racinos in the state make changes to be able to compete with the casino industries of neighboring states. Lawmakers in Illinois are considering a gambling expansion which would harm the riverboats in the northwestern region of the state as a large portion of their gaming income is produced by visitors from Illinois.
Additional legislation has been introduced in the state as of late involving the gambling industry, including Senate Bill 354 which would see a casino created in Terre Haute. This legislation was introduced by State Senator Jon Ford.

Maryland’s six casinos earn over $126m for January

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A negative effect was expected for the month of January when it came to casino gaming revenues in the state of Maryland due to the newly opened MGM National Harbor being in operation for their first full month. At least two close competitors were expected to be affected but casinos in the state were still able to see overall growth when compared year-over-year. For the state, January produced $126.2 million via the six casinos, which is an increase of 42.8%.
The top earner was the MGM National Harbor, who was able to earn $48.8 million for January. With the revenues of the venue removed, the state actually saw a decrease in year-over-year earnings, with a drop of just over 12%. Maryland Live was down for the second consecutive month with $44 million in earnings for January. This is a 15.6% decrease and around $8 million less than what was earned in 2015.
The Horseshoe Casino Baltimore also saw a decrease when it comes to year-over-year earnings, of around 14.5% with only $20.2 million in earnings. This is disappointing as the venue was able to see a significant increase of more than 9% for the month of December. However, it was expected that both the Horseshoe and Maryland Live would see a decrease in earnings as the MGM National Harbor became operational.
Revenues were up for Hollywood Casino Perryville with $5.8 million earned, a 4.6% gain. The Rocky Gap Casino Resort was up almost 12% with $3.7 million in earnings. Casino at Ocean Downs was down slightly by 1.2% with $3.7 million in earnings.

Palm Beach Kennel Club welcomes WSOP Circuit this month

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Starting on February 9th, the World Series of Poker Circuit will be back in action at the Palm Beach Kennel Club for the seventh year in a row. The West Palm Beach venue will feature WSOP Circuit events from the 9th until the 20th. The Palm Beach Kennel Club was actually the first non-casino to offer circuit events and for some time was the only stop on the circuit to take place in Florida.
On the 9th, the circuit stop will begin the 12 Rings in 12 Days series starting with the NL Hold’em Monster Stack tournament. The event will have a $365 buy-in. The 10th and 11th will feature a NL Hold’em Re-Entry event also with a $365 buy-in. The Main Event of the series is set to take place on the 18th with a buy-in of $1,675.
Additional formats that will be available during the circuit stop are 8 Max No Limit Hold’em with re-entry, Pot Limit Omaha 8 or Better with re-entry and Turbo No Limit Hold’em. A Ladies event is on the schedule for the 18th with a $135 buy-in along with a Seniors event with a buy-in of $250.
Satellites are also on offer so players can pay a lesser amount to take part in certain events. Mega Satellites can be found for Event #9 and Event #11, with buy-ins of $150 and $250 respectively. The full schedule of events can be found here at the Palm Beach Kennel Club Website.

Nevada lawmaker proposes lowering state’s gambling age

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In Nevada, the first day of the western state’s new legislative session has reportedly seen a lawmaker introduce a measure that could see the legal gambling age lowered by three years to 18.
According to a report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper, the proposed AB86 measure from Republican representative Jim Wheeler was one of over 200 pieces of legislation presented to the Nevada State Assembly in Carson City on Monday and it now faces an uphill battle to becoming reality.
The newspaper reported that the idea of lowering Nevada’s gambling age from the current stipulation of 21 was first floated by a group of the state’s gaming regulators in 2008 after being raised by a lawyer during a Las Vegas gaming law conference. But the suggestion was quickly shot down by lawmakers with industry experts currently unsure how Wheeler’s proposal will be received by members of the Nevada State Assembly before proceeding to the Nevada State Senate and the desk of two-term Republican governor Brian Sandoval.
“Personally, I think if you’re old enough to go [and] serve our country in foreign lands, you’re old enough to come to Las Vegas or Reno or Lake Tahoe and have a good time,” Wheeler told local television broadcaster KTVN-TV in July when submitting the required bill draft request concerning AB86.
Wheeler told KTVN-TV that the passage of his legislation could see Nevada casinos face an increased challenge of ensuring only players that were 21 were being allowed to consume alcoholic beverages as the current rules on drinking would remain intact.
“Obviously, an 18-year-old is not allowed to drink in this state,” Wheeler told the broadcaster. “So, they would have to check identifications but they’re probably doing that anyway to make sure they’re of gambling age.”

Anti-gambling group pushes to ban lottery pull-tab machines in Idaho

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In a 10-5 vote on Thursday, the Idaho House State Affairs Committee has reluctantly agreed to send a bill to the House floor that would outlaw electronic pull-tab machines in the state.
Stop Predatory Gambling, a Washington, DC- based anti-gaming group, successfully convinced lawmakers in Idaho that touchscreen gaming machines commonly known as “tap scratchers,” which can typically be found situated near the counters of local taverns, clear the way for gambling to spread throughout the state and threaten to ruin lives and families, according to The Spokesman-Review.
Jonathan Krutz, a Boise State professor who serves on the lobbying group’s board of directors, also argued that the pull-tab machines are similar to slot machines in that they allow rapid-fire betting. Krutz reportedly said, “The difference between paper pull-tabs and these touch tab machines is the difference between caffeine and cocaine.”
The characterization of the machines, which bring the state lottery $3 million in profit annually, was disputed by Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson, who said that last year an average of $7.03 per hour in bets were collected by the pull-tab machines. The revenue from which, was allocated to public schools, Idaho’s permanent building fund, with the host businesses receiving $2 million in commissions, as reported by the news agency.
The lucrative machines, which were approved by the state legislature in 2011, can be found in 144 drinking establishments throughout the state. Similar in performance to slots, the electronic pull-tab machines are capable of playing some 1,200 bets per hour, but without all the bells and whistles, that’s where the similarities end.
The bill now moves, without a recommendation, to the full House for further consideration.
Meanwhile, the state could be gearing up for another battle over the possible legalization of instant historical horseracing wagering machines.

Nevada sportsbooks have record betting handle on Super Bowl 51

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According to Nevada’s Gaming Control Board, the 2017 Super Bowl brought a record betting handle to Nevada Sportsbooks, generating a total of $138.48 million – or approximately $6 million more than their previous record from last year’s Super Bowl, when the handle was $132.5 million. This year’s handle marks a 40% increase in the period since 2013, when the amount was $99million, a growth which was in large part thanks to mobile betting, according to news reports.
This year’s Super Bowl also brought Nevada operators a $10.9 million dollar profit, marking nine consecutive years the sportsbooks haven’t lost money on the event. The last Super Bowl which saw the sportsbook lose profits was in 2008, when the Giants vs. Patriots game caused a $2.5 million loss for the operators. However, when compared to last year, the 2017 Super Bowl generated less profits for the sportsbooks, amounting to a total of 7.9%, as opposed to the 10.1% of 2016. This is the third highest profit in the past decade for Nevada sportsbooks, although nearly half less that their 2014 record of $19.7 million.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board has been tracking Super Bowl wagering ever since 1990 and during this period Nevada’s sportsbooks have come ahead in 25 out of 27 Super Bowl events, generating a total net profit of $173.6 millions. A number of operators did well during this year’s event, according to news reports, including the Westgate Casino Resort and Wynn Vegas, but also the South Point Casino, where the sportsbook had a record handle. The 2017 Super Bowl brings record betting handle to Nevada sportsbooks, despite reports of a national decline in audience for the game broadcast.

Silver Heritage Group delays opening of new Nepal casino

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After announcing in October that it intended to open its new Tiger Palace Resort later this month, Asian casino operator Silver Heritage Group has now delayed the launch after encountering “temporary unexpected delays” that include “a shortage of liquidity in the Nepal banking system”.
Sydney-listed Silver Heritage Group made the revelation as part of a construction update filed on Wednesday while additionally declaring that it intends to provide a revised opening date for the Bhairahawa-based venue in the next “several weeks”.
“The revision to the opening schedule for Tiger Palace Resort Bhairahawa is due principally to both a shortage of liquidity in the Nepal banking system and unanticipated delays in the issuance of approval for Silver Heritage Group to increase the equity ceiling of its corporate investment vehicle in Nepal to allow remittance of capital into Nepal to fund Tiger Palace Resort Bhairahawa construction costs,” read the update from Hong Kong-based Silver Heritage Group. “This has resulted in a slowdown of on-site activity, which is currently ongoing.”
July saw Silver Heritage Group launch an initial public offering that raised approximately $18.8 million to help fund future projects with the firm stating at the time that its coming Nepal venue would offer a 26,597 sq ft casino floor complete with 200 slots and 52 gaming tables. Tiger Palace Resort is moreover set to feature a pool and spa service as well as wedding, tennis and gym facilities alongside a conference hall, meeting rooms, shops and six food and beverage outlets.
Silver Heritage Group was established in 2003 and 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. The firm also holds interests in gaming venues in Laos and Cambodia and moreover used last week’s update to reveal that it expects to report higher-than-expected annual sales for 2016 of $16.9 million with adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization above previous forecasts at $3.3 million.

Clubs NSW agrees ten-year CrownBet deal in New South Wales

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In Australia, casino operator Crown Resorts Limited has announced that its CrownBet online sportsbetting service has signed a ten-year deal to serve as the official betting partner for Clubs NSW.
Sydney-listed Crown Resorts Limited is the firm behind land-based casinos including the Crown Casino And Entertainment Complex in Melbourne and Crown Perth as well as the coming $2 billion Crown Sydney and revealed that the agreement, which is effective immediately, will see it offer digital gambling services to some 1,200 clubs across the state of New South Wales with individual venues able to earn commissions from any in-house wagers.
Crown Resorts Limited overcame competition from rivals Sportsbet, the Totalisator Agency Board and Betting Club in securing the New South Wales deal after offering a higher commission structure for clubs along with a more beneficial rewards structure for members and explained that in-venue punters are to be incentivized via its CrownBet Rewards program, which allows bettors to accumulate points that can be exchanged for food and drink.
“We’re thrilled to receive this groundbreaking endorsement from Clubs NSW,” read a statement from Matt Tripp, Chief Executive Officer for CrownBet. “Our plan is to change the entire wagering experience for the benefit of its members and guests.”
The deal between Clubs NSW and Northern Territory-licensed CrownBet moreover marks the first time an Australian online betting provider has offered punters in the nation’s most populous state the ability to directly receive their winnings in cash as before they were forced to utilize an electronic money transfer to a personal bank account.
“Our arrangement with CrownBet will ensure all [Clubs NSW] clubs get their fair share from digital bets and will help ensure the industry’s long-term viability,” read a statement from Anthony Ball, Chief Executive Officer for ClubsNSW. “Small and regional clubs will be the biggest winners.”
However, the arrangement between Crown Resorts Limited, which has a market capitalization of around $5.74 billion and is controlled by principal shareholder James Packer, and Clubs NSW has not been welcomed by everyone and drew immediate criticism from long-time anti-gambling campaigner Nick Xenophon, who serves as a member for South Australia in the Australian Senate.
“This is good news for the clubs [but] bad news for punters,” Xenophon told The Guardian newspaper. “They’ll have even more opportunity to lose their shirts. It’s not enough to lose your shirts at Crown [Resorts Limited] casinos but you’ll now be able to lose them at clubs and pubs.”
Charles Livingstone, an academic and spokesperson for the Alliance For Gambling Reform, reportedly described the deal as “cynical opportunism” as it markets online wagering services to groups already vulnerable to problem gambling.
“There’s no good news here for people who may have a gambling problem,” Livingstone told The Guardian. “You could describe it as marketing cocaine to people who already have a heroin problem.”

Straub offered lifeline for opening TEN casino by Lesniak

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New Jersey Senator Ray Lesniak has introduced a new legislation that would reportedly make it easier to open Atlantic City’s TEN Casino, a short time after its owner Glenn Straub was told by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission (NJCCC) that he would need a New Jersey license before he is allowed to launch the property. According to the proposed state senate bill S3001, hotel owners in Atlantic City will be allowed to lease portions of their hotels to casino operators if “certain circumstances” are met.
Back in 2015, Straub bought the former $2.4 billion Revel Casino through a bankruptcy court for $82 million. The casino hotel was rebranded as TEN Casino this September and former executives from the Trump Taj Mahal were hired to help run the 6-million square feet property.
However, a week before the Gaming Enforcement Division filed a report to the NJCCC on Straub’s suitability for licensure, Straub’s company filed a petition asking for a ruling that his company didn’t need a license and later a court action to require of the NJCCC to decide on whether he needs a license, which the Commission did a week ago.  He contended that since the casino will be leased to a third party, why was he asked for a license, to which the Commission responded by ruling that it was according to the law. Straub then said that his company would appeal the decision.
However, according to the new bill, which doesn’t have a hearing date, for now, Straub will not be required to get a casino license if he is leasing his casino operations to a third party. According to Lesniak, it made no sense to make a landlord undergo the same long review process that casino operators would, thus creating an obstacle for the opening and development of business operations and employment.

Future of Elk Grove casino resort to be discussed at Wednesday meeting

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In California, officials in the city Elk Grove will be meeting later today to discuss how to move forward with a plan from the Wilton Rancheria to build a $400 million casino resort in the southern Sacramento County community.
Last month saw the incoming administration of President Donald Trump delay a land-into-trust application that the tribe had been granted by the United States Department Of The Interior and previous President Barack Obama. This action left the whole project open to cancellation pending the outcome of a sought after local public referendum being organized by anti-casino groups including one calling itself Council On Prosperity And Accountability.
At its Wednesday meeting, the city council for Elk Grove is to consider if it should authorize just such a referendum for as soon as June 6 along with whether to cancel an October agreement it signed with the Wilton Rancheria that gave the tribe permission to purchase 35.9 acres of land for the planned casino resort from The Howard Hughes Corporation.
According to a report from The Sacramento Bee newspaper, the federally-recognized Wilton Rancheria wants to construct a twelve-story hotel along with a spa, 30,000 sq ft events space, fitness center and casino offering 2,000 slots and 84 gaming tables. The land for the scheme lies within Elk Grove, which is located just south of the state capital of Sacramento, and is adjacent to a half-built mall that has been fenced-off ever since a previous developer went bankrupt in 2009.
The newspaper reported that the Wilton Rancheria lost its federal recognition in 1964 before regaining the designation in 2009 after 45 years in which its over 700 members struggled economically. Raymond Hitchcock, Chairman for the Wilton Rancheria, explained that more than 60% of the tribe is now unemployed and the proposed casino would present an opportunity for its members to become self-sufficient and enjoy services such as a health clinic and scholarships.