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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Deadwood gambling revenues set record | The Daily Republic | Mitchell, South Dakota

Deadwood gambling revenues set record | The Daily Republic | Mitchell, South Dakota

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Gambling regulations in some Asian countries allows only foreigners to play | The Raw Story

Gambling regulations in some Asian countries allows only foreigners to play | The Raw Story


Gambling regulations in some Asian countries allows only foreigners to play

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, January 27, 2013 17:17 EST
A woman walks past gaming machines at the G2E Asia gaming expo in Macau on May 22, 2012.  Image AFP
Topics:  ♦  ♦ 
 
The casino industry is booming across Asia, offering anyone looking for high-stakes action a wide choice of venues, from high-tech South Korea to the Himalayan nation of Nepal and communist Vietnam.
Anyone, that is, except South Koreans, Nepalese or Vietnamese.
For conservative Asian countries, the financial pros and social cons of casino gambling pose something of a dilemma — one that several have chosen to resolve by adopting a foreigner-only access policy.
The upsides are obvious in a region where rapid development has nurtured a taste and capacity for high-end leisure activities.
Casinos provide a consistent source of hard currency revenue, fuel tourism — especially from sought-after high rollers from mainland China — and boost the local economy.
Macau, now the world’s largest gaming hub, saw its gaming revenue jump 13.5 percent to a record $38 billion in 2012.
But the social impact of gambling is equally well documented, in terms of addiction and broken families, as well as criminal activities like loan-sharking.
So a number of Asian countries have tried to have their cake and eat it, by building glitzy casinos but barring — or strictly limiting — entry to their own citizens.
Kim Jin-Gon, director of tourism in South Korea’s Culture Ministry, cited a widely-held belief that Koreans are particularly susceptible to gambling addiction.
“Our feeling is that Korea does not have a mature culture that could enjoy gambling simply as a leisure activity,” Kim said. “We block Koreans from casinos because the fallout would be too big.”
South Korea’s ban is not total. Of the country’s 17 licensed casinos, one — Kangwon Land Resort — is open to locals.
Its remote location in a mountainous area, several hundred kilometres and a three-hour express bus ride from Seoul, was supposed to deter salarymen from nightly excursions during the working week.
But special “bullet taxis” offer a high-speed, white-knuckle service that promises to get punters there in half the time, and attendance and revenue figures seem to support the theories about Koreans’ proclivity for gambling.
Kangwon Land pulls in an average 10,000 visitors a day — around five times the actual seating capacity — and boasted revenue of nearly 1.2 trillion won (1.1 billion dollars) in 2011, more than all the 16 foreigner-only casinos combined.
This despite rules that restrict any individual from gambling more than 15 days a month — ID cards must be shown — and impose a maximum house wager of 300,000 won ($280).
The overcrowding led to calls for other casinos to be opened to Koreans but the government has resisted, insisting that Kangwon Land was a one-off project with the sole aim of revitalising an economically depressed area.
Director Kim warned that other casinos, especially in major cities, would be swamped if access was extended to all.
“If we let Koreans in, there would be no room left for foreigners, which would defy the whole purpose of the casinos in the first place,” he said.
Nepal and Vietnam operate 100 percent foreigner-only casino policies, although in the case of Nepal it’s a regulation often observed in the breach.
Vietnam’s first casino opened in 1992 and there are now seven, with two more in the pipeline.
According to the finance ministry, casinos generated around 1.5 trillion dong ($72 million) in tax revenues in 2012.
For Vietnamese nationals, all gambling apart from a state-run lottery is banned, although illegal betting — on everything from cock-fighting to English Premier League football matches — is widespread.
While Vietnamese gamblers have no access to a place like Kangwon Land, they can simply cross into Cambodia, where huge casinos have been built near the border that cater almost exclusively to Vietnamese tourists.
Cambodians, needless to say, are not legally allowed to gamble in their own casinos, though presumably they would be welcomed at those in Vietnam.
Perhaps aware of the contradictions thrown up by foreigner-only policies, Singapore has opted for a compromise of open casino access but with special restrictions for the island state’s citizens and long-term residents.
A Sg$100 ($80) entry fee aimed to filter out low-income gamblers, while any Singaporean who had filed for bankruptcy or received long-term financial state aid was automatically barred.
After a 2011 official survey showed an increasing proportion of low-income gamblers playing with large sums, the ban was expanded in June last year to include the unemployed and those on short-term welfare.
Casinos that fail to comply face a maximum fine that used to be capped at Sg$1.0 million but can now reach as high as 10 percent of annual gross gaming revenue.
Despite these measures, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong admitted during a visit to Australia in October that his government was still “watching anxiously” to determine the impact of the casino experiment.
“From a social point of view, we would like to say that it has been all right, but it is too early to say because the casinos have been operating only for two years and a half,” Lee said.
Commercially, Singapore’s two casino resorts have been an undeniable success, with a combined gaming revenue of around $5.0 billion in 2011.
That level of return has fuelled debate in countries like Japan about lifting its ban on casinos, which forces Japanese gamblers to travel to South Korea, Macau and Singapore to play the tables.
Taiwanese, meanwhile, may soon have a domestic option after the people of outlying Matsu island voted in July last year to open Taiwan’s first legal casino.
The casino would be open to everyone except, perhaps inevitably, the Matsu islanders themselves.
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Sands gets Macau's OK for more gambling tables - MarketWatch

Sands gets Macau's OK for more gambling tables - MarketWatch

Online Industry Scores Win Against Greek Gambling Regime

Online Industry Scores Win Against Greek Gambling Regime

Online Industry Scores Win Against Greek Gambling Regime
by Lorys Charalambous, Tax-News.com, Cyprus
29 January 2013
The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) has welcomed the verdict in favor of online gambling operators delivered by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on January 24, 2013, which said that provisions in Greek gambling legislation should be deemed to contravene European Union law.

The case was referred to the ECJ by the Greek Council of States following legal challenges initiated against the Greek government by three gambling operators - Stanleybet, William Hill and Sportingbet.

In its judgment, which echoes the opinion of the Advocate-General, the Court reminded Greece of its obligation to maintain consistency with the objectives enshrined in its own legislation.

Although it is for the national judge to make the final assessment, the EU Court held that the Greek gaming legislation, which granted certain exclusive gambling rights to state company OPAP, and allowed for an expansion of its offerings, went beyond what was necessary to attain the objectives stated, and should therefore be deemed not compliant with EU law.

The Greek legislation provided that the public authorities could grant a single operator, in the form of a public limited company, the right to organize and operate games of chance. It also allowed the public entity to advertise freely and expand its services, including into other countries. The legislation was supposedly designed to combat criminality by exercising control over the single operator.

In the Judgment, the Court held that the legislation enacted to justify OPAP's expansion and the public promotion of its products went beyond what is necessary in order to channel consumers towards the controlled provision of gambling services. The Court agrees with the opinion of the Advocate General that OPAP is not subject to the strict control of the public authorities and hence the Greek monopoly does not satisfy the requirements of ECJ case law. The ruling further strengthens the online gambling industry's argument that the Greek government has consistently sought to unfairly support OPAP in competing with private sector operators.

Clive Hawkswood, Chief Executive of the RGA, said: "Although it is referring to the old legislation, we welcome the Judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU as it clearly shows that the expansion of OPAP's activities is not EU-compliant. It therefore substantiates further our claim that the new extension of OPAP's exclusive rights to certain types of online games breaches EU law. We hope that this ruling will spur the Greek Authorities into action and to bring their legislation into line with EU regulations. The Court today has come out strongly against Greece, and we hope that this will in turn be a signal to other member states that compliance with EU law is expected of them."

Online gambling operators represented by the Remote Gambling Association have more recently challenged new gambling legislation, passed in August 2011, to regulate and tax online gambling in Greece. As in the latest matter to go before the ECJ, the companies argue that the legislation is too restrictive for private sector companies, and is serving instead to to extend OPAP's monopolistic position in the Greek marketplace, in the soon-to-be-regulated online gambling sector.

Crucially, the government has failed to begin licensing online gambling operators, with the private sector claiming that the advantage is giving OPAP a head start on the competition.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

The ECB will come under pressure in the currency wars | The A-List

The ECB will come under pressure in the currency wars | The A-List

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights. http://blogs.ft.com/the-a-list/2013/01/28/the-ecb-will-come-under-pressure-in-the-currency-wars/#ixzz2JHK0bNSV

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Gambling industry campaign donations add up - The Insider | Crain's New York Business

Gambling industry campaign donations add up - The Insider | Crain's New York Business


Gambling industry campaign donations add up

A year ago, the New York Times reported that gambling lobbyists in New York were urging clients not to donate heavily to Albany lawmakers in the wake of a 2010 scandal surrounding bidding of the Aqueduct racino license and campaign contributions.
However, that did not stop several gaming interests from giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to lawmakers in 2012, though many of the donations were fairly small. The money was almost entirely spent by interests with a foothold already in New York, while campaign records show that big out-of-state operators like MGM, Wynn, Las Vegas Sands and Caesars weren’t giving to lawmakers last year, thoughseveral of them have hired lobbyists.
The Seneca Nation, which operates several casinos in Western New York and has an exclusivity agreement, gave more than $334,000 to state lawmakers in 2012. Notably, that included $175,000 to two campaign committees of New York Senate Republicans and $50,000 to the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee. Meanwhile, the Oneida Indian Nation, in central New York, gave more than $22,000.
Genting, the Malaysian casino giant that operates Aqueduct (winning the development rights after AEG was disqualified in the 2010 scandal) gave more than $213,000 to lawmakers in 2012, according to campaign finance records. Its biggest donation to a lawmaker was on Jan. 11, 2013, to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
The bulk of its spending went to the New York Gaming Association, of which Genting is a member along with racino operators. The association, which is led by well-known lobbyist James Featherstonhaugh, gave more than $164,000 to lawmakers though a political action committee. In February 2012, the group gave $25,000 to the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee.
Genting’s priorities have shifted over the past year. During the early part of 2012, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the company were talking about building a $4 billion convention center (and allowing full-scale casino gambling) at Aqueduct in Queens, but the plan fell through. During his 2013 State of the State address in early January, Mr. Cuomo announced that the first three (out of a proposed seven) casinos in the state would be built north of New York City. First, the Legislature must pass a constitutional amendment legalizing casino gambling in New York. The change would then have to be approved by a majority of voters statewide. That is expected to set off a fierce battle this session over where casinos will be sited and which companies will land the business.


Read more: http://mycrains.crainsnewyork.com/blogs/insider/2013/01/gambling-industry-campaign-donations-add-up/#ixzz2Iny59WXM

Gambling expansion debated - Business - The News Herald

Gambling expansion debated - Business - The News Herald


Gambling expansion debated

Lawmakers told pari-mutuel wagering in state can’t be saved
Gambling expansion debated
This rendering shows how Ebro Greyhound Park could be redeveloped into a major resort if state law were amended to allow slot machines in Washington County.
Special to The News Herald
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 19:32 PM.
TALLAHASSEE—The state Senate Gaming Committee on Tuesday heard testimony supporting and opposing gambling’s expansion in Florida.
The Panhandle’s eyes have been fixed on the committee as many hope for comprehensive legislation that would allow destination casinos in the area. Also Washington County already has voted for slot machines at Ebro Greyhound Park, but a state Attorney General’s opinion requires its referendum be approved in the state Legislature or in the state Constitution.
On Tuesday, lawmakers primarily stayed neutral on controversial gaming issues, using the meeting as an information gathering session, with a few notable exceptions.
Richard Turner, representing the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA), sparked some pointed questions when he voiced opposition to expanding gambling. He was most against “destination casinos” and said they would cannibalize restaurants and retail stores in Florida because they offer in-house dining and shopping options.
“The expansion of gambling is simply a bad bet for Florida,” he said.
Turner said the FRLA isn’t against existing gambling, only its expansion.
“The important thing is not to cannibalize what we already have,” he said.
But state Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, asked if he’d have the same concerns if another Disney World came to the state. Turner was less opposed to that idea.
“You can always add one more successful product to Florida,” he said.
Still Turner said expanding gambling would create a “strong possibility” that some tourism dollars would be redirected from existing businesses to casinos.
Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, expressed doubt that more gambling is bad for Florida. He made the point that people travel to Las Vegas and Atlantic City to gamble, so why not Florida.
Turner responded that Florida already has attractions that bring people into the state and said tourism is about the only growing economic sector.
“And perhaps you wouldn’t want to threaten that,” he said.
Latvala said a state, like a business, can “cap out” a certain revenue segment and must develop other options. He asked wouldn’t it be logical to go after another type of customer.
Donn Mitchell II, chief administrative officer of Isle of Capri Casinos Inc., was more adviser than advocate when he addressed the committee. He said lawmakers need to look carefully at the tax rate applied to the gaming industry. He said within the industry higher taxes means more revenue for the state, but fewer jobs and less capital investment.
“We do think that getting that equation right is very important,” he said.
Mitchell said Florida should look at other states’ tax rates and use that as a guide. He said the independent gambling study the Legislature is planning is “exactly the right path.”

Pari-mutuels declining
Also testimony was given on the slow death of pari-mutuel wagering in the state, which is used for horse and greyhound racing. Cari Roth representing Tampa Bay Downs Inc. said its thoroughbred racing was in decline and asked that the committee view such racing as a separate business. She said interest in this form of gambling has declined.
Gary Rutledge, representing St. Petersburg Kennel Club Inc., agreed. He said pari-mutuel wagering has been in Florida for about 90 years and its high-water mark was in the 1980s. He said particularly outside South Florida pari-mutuel wagering has fallen off.
Rutledge said allowing slot machines and poker rooms at these facilities is no panacea, but it will provide them some temporary relief.
SenTom Lee, R-Brandon, said pari-mutuel betting has been slipping since the 1990s.
“The pari-mutuel permits have just become an anchor for (other types) gambling,” he said.
Leeasked if it was safe to say the Gaming Committee’s actions couldn’t bring pari-mutuel betting back, and Rutledge agreed.
“I didn’t mean that to be pejorative, but I’m just trying to cut through it,” Lee said.
Also Rutledge addressed Internet cafes and said some say they should be regulated, licensed and taxed. He said regardless the Internet cafes are impossible to ignore.
John Sowinski, president, NoCasinos.org, said Internet cafes should be shut down and called for no gambling expansion.
“Gambling comes with its own unique, devastating and very real consequences,” he said.
Also in the meeting, committee chair Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, said several times the Senate and House are working on a request for proposal for a comprehensive gambling study for the state. He said he wasn’t sure on the study’s particulars, but would look at gambling’s economic and social impacts.
“This is a wheel with a lot of numbers on it,” he said.
Richter said the issue is complex and achieving comprehensive legislation won’t happen in interim committee meetings. He said ultimate decisions will be thoroughly investigated and thought out.
“We’re exercising now for the starting line,” he said.

Indiana senate expected to vote on expanded gambling at racetracks | Daily Racing Form

Indiana senate expected to vote on expanded gambling at racetracks | Daily Racing Form


A bill that would allow Indiana’s racetracks to add casino-style games to their slot-machine operations is expected to be called for a vote in a state senate committee on Wednesday.
The provision allowing for expanded gambling at the casinos at Indiana Downs and Hoosier Park is part of a larger gambling bill that would also allow the state’s 11 “riverboat” casinos to build facilities on land. Supporters of the bill have cited increased competition from casinos and slots parlors in Ohio for the measures.
Taxes on casino gambling currently provide approximately 5 percent of the budget in Indiana, according to the Indianapolis Star, along with hundreds of millions of dollars of support annually to local municipalities. Receipts from gambling declined last year, however, by 4.2 percent, the Star said.
Indiana Downs and Hoosier Park both built casinos in the past three years after the legislature authorized slot machines at the tracks. A decade earlier, the state had legalized riverboat casinos, but those casinos are currently moored at 11 locations, almost all on the state’s borders with Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio.
The bill would allow riverboat casino owners to move the casinos to dry land as long as the land is already owned by the company.