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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Australian Casino, Gaming And Politics News, by Greg Tingle - 25th August 2010

Australian casino, gaming and political news remains crazy. Australia is counting the final ballots as Australia awaits the announcement of who the Prime Minister actually is! Crown casino has signed up more world class entertainment acts and online gaming and gambling moves forward down under, as the industry awaits internet laws to catch up to reality, in line with much of the rest of the world. James Packers' Crown Casino marketing, internet and legal is going to be very busy, as they updated system and websites to the evolution of the online gaming world, with a bit of Aussie Casino Wars on the side. Media Man and Gambling911 once again dominate the world of online gaming reporting, with just enough politics to keep them honest. Enjoy the ongoing journey of discovery...

Crown Casino Getting More Top Line Entertainment Acts...

The Australian Bee Gees Show returns to The Palms with a brand new show celebrating 50 years of wonderful music by the Brothers Gibb. This multimedia concert event is the only Melbourne show in the Australian leg of their 2010 world tour. Since 1996, The Australian Bee Gees Show has played to capacity houses around the world, cementing their reputation as an exceptional live concert act and the world's leading Bee Gees show. For one night only be a part of the magic that is, The Australian Bee Gees Show. Date Saturday 28 August 2010
Time: Doors Open: 7:30pm

Australian Hip Hop Championships 2010 - 18th September
Tommy Fleming - 1 - 2 October
Village People - 8 - 9 October
Cirque Mother Africa - 12 - 24 October
Bjorn Again - 18 - 21 October
Leo Sayer - 27 November

World's Top ABBA Show BJORN AGAIN Coming To Crown Casino 'The Palms' This November...

BJORN AGAIN plus Special guest support are The Old Romantics who are a highly entertaining parody of the New Romantic music era in the 80's, featuring songs by Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran and Culture Club. Get ready to have the time of your life! Tickets available from 9:00am 24 August, 2010. Dates: Thursday 18 - Sunday 23 November 2010

Tabcorp May Take On US Private Debt!...

Australian gaming gaint Tabcorp Holdings is looking at refinancing options as debt repayments near, and declared a preference for placing bonds in the US private debt market, its finance top brass says.. The firm would consider Australia dollars and other currencies, but the US traditional private placement market would be a natural place to revisit since the company has issued $US1 billion ($A1.11 billion) of bonds there, chief financial officer Matt Bekier told the press. "Ideally, I'd like to get 12 to 15-year money," Bekier said.
Traditional private placements in the United States have been a popular source of funds for Australian companies looking for long-dated debt. 7 Australian borrowers raised a total of $US2.2 billion so far this year. Bekier also said he was committed to keeping the firm's investment grade ratings, as Tabcorp embarks on an $860 million expansion strategy. Tabcorp is trying to fill a looming hole in its earnings from 2012 when it and Tatts Group are due to lose their duopoly on gaming machines in the Australian state of Victoria. This month, ratings agency Standard & Poor's warned it may cut Tabcorp's BBB-plus ratings due to higher debt levels after spending money on a revamp of Sydney's Star City Casino. "We want to remain investment grade, whether they are BBB flat or BBB-plus," Mr Bekier said. The lowest ratings for investment grade is BBB-minus. Bekier said his main focus was ensuring gross debt did not exceed a ratio of 2-2.5 times the firm's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. He did not say where the ratio stood currently, though it was within that range. "That is, to me, the bigger metric," Bekier said. As to whether Tabcorp would consider raising equity to protect its ratings downgrade, as suggested by a Merrill Lynch research report, Bekier is unequivocal. "The idea we would raise equity just to maintain a specific rating is a bit outlandish," Bekier said. Tabcorp has $450 million of debt maturing in just over one year and is looking at refinancing into long-term debt. Typical buyers of US traditional private placements are "buy and hold" US insurance companies keen on long-dated paper to match their liabilities. Bekier said the Australian dollar bond market would always be part of Tabcorp's funding strategy but would not be its core, mostly because of the firm's focus on long-term debt. The gaming outfit could also sell Australian dollar retail bonds, as it did last year when all other long-term funding avenues were shut in the wake of the global financial crisis. However, Bekier highlighted the high costs associated with selling retail bonds. "It was relatively expensive," Bekier said, adding that the all-in cost of issuing retail bonds was around 100 basis points above what Tabcorp could get elsewhere. Unlike Japan and New Zealand, retail bond offers are rare in Australia, where bonds are typically reserved for professional investors. The Aussie authorities introduced this year measures to to ease documentation and speed up the lengthy process to give that market a boost. Yet Tabcorp's Bekier said the regulators would have to go much further still to attract borrowers. Looks like the Aussie Casino Wars are taking on more of an international flavor. Debt anyone?

Greens Exclude Themselves From Cabinet: Betfair Fun And Games...

The two Greens members of the Tasmanian Cabinet have excluded themselves from Cabinet deliberations over Betfair. Greens leader Nick McKim and the Greens Cabinet secretary Cassy O'Connor 48 hours ago exercised their right to abstain from Cabinet deliberations on an area of policy difference. Labor members of Cabinet approved legislation to enact a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Government and the online betting agency Betfair before the March state election. It includes a reduction in the company's state tax contribution, a move opposed by the Greens. McKim says it is simply a policy clash that will happen from time to time in the power-sharing Cabinet. Bartlett says it's the first time the Greens Cabinet members have abstained from deliberations under the power-sharing model. He says the difference was handled with maturity. "The spirit of cabinet is a very positive one," he said. Bartlett says the rest of Cabinet supported legislation to reduce the company's state tax contribution to secure its future in Tasmania for another 10 years. "This is a clear indication that this relationship is maturing and that the protocols that we have put in place to provide for certainty and stability are working." Liberal leader Will Hodgman says it is a split that highlights the uncertainty and instability of the Labor-Green Government. His statement did not indicate whether the Liberals would support the Betfair bill. Political analyst Richard Herr says if the Greens oppose the Betfair bill, the Government will need the support of the Liberals to pass the legislation. "Well the Government will realise that if it proceeds to present this to the House and the Greens do not support it and the Liberals don't support it then it will fall over, it'll fail," he said. "Either they're betting the Opposition will or they are manoeuvring to oppose the legislation in hopes that it will embarrass the opposition." Stay tuned to Media Man and Gambling911 for more political and gaming fun and games, and Packer's Betfair (now understood to be off the ACMA blacklist) is tipped to remain in the thick of the action.


Punters Remain Excited On Aussie Election Result...

Australian punters wagered as much as $10 million on the election poll, with 1000s taking their changes on the craze that is election betting. There's is no sign of when the bookies will pay out or even when betting markets will actually close. Many are still taking bets on the final results two major betting agencies reported a flood of money rushing back to Julia Gillard on Monday afternoon. Prime Minister Gillard is neck and neck with Parliamentary Secretary Bill Shorten for the top job, says many punters. Betfair insiders Daniel Hoare went on record with "By Friday afternoon we had somewhere around $2.5 million on the federal election market overall. But at that point in time about mid-afternoon Friday there was about $3,000 a minute being traded on the election. That market now is bordering on $3.5 million. In the past few hours there's been a significant move towards Labor. This morning the Coalition were red-hot favourites to find a way to form government, but for some reason in the past few hours those odds have tightened right in for Labor and it's almost pretty much a toss-of-the-coin market at the moment and it's heavily fluctuating as we speak." Analyst Neil Evans from online betting agency Centrebet also noticed an increase in the total amount gambled and advised about $5.5 million has been wagered through Centrebet. "Certainly in the main book, the prime ministerial book, the market's still powering away," he said. "Hung Parliament punters of course have been paid and those who took the Coalition with the start, they're all in the winners' queue and of course most of the seats, but the battle goes on. It's been a very big day for the Australian Labor Party, who went from being favourite for so long out to a clear outsider overnight, with negotiations continuing. "But they've been backed from as high as $2.75 right down to $1.85 equal now with the Coalition. So the momentum back with Labor, the Coalition coming a long way out from $1.40 out to $1.85.". Some academic research suggests betting trends are a more reliable indicator of a likely election result than opinion polls. Newspoll, which is published in The Australian newspaper, was the closest to predicting the result with its final poll on Saturday. "We came out with a 50.2 two-party to a 49.8 in favour of Labor, which shows that we're very likely to have a hung Parliament. It was so close to 50-50 it wasn't funny," said Newspoll chief executive Martin O'Shannessy. Most of the other national polls showed a narrow Labor win, with the party ahead of the Coalition 52 to 48 on a two-party preferred basis. Newspoll had also been predicting a 52 to 48 result for most of the campaign and Mr O'Shannessy admits to being slightly nervous about Saturday's poll. "Obviously when you see a change like that, and especially the big negative swing in Queensland, you worry. "Then you look at it and you think well, a big move like that is much more than what you'd expect from sampling error, so the odds are then hundreds to one against it actually being sampling error. "And so while your hands shake, you have to remind yourself of the rules of sampling and you know and go with it."

Australian Punters Back Coalition To Form Government...(But Keeps Changing)!!!

Aussie bookies have installed the coalition as the favourite to form government following an inconclusive result from Saturday's federal election.

Aristocrat Not Concerned About Poker Machine Rules And Regulations...

Tougher rules and regulations on Aussie pokies are not likely to be a big ticket item of the new federal government, the gambling machine manufacturer Aristocrat Leisure has gone on record with. The company's half-year results went public less than 48 hours ago, and showed a 23% drop in revenue and a net profit of $49.5 million, Aristocrat's chief executive, Jamie Odell, advised he did not expect a new government would act soon on recommendations of the Productivity Commission's recent report on gambling, and did not factor it into his outlook. The report, published way back in June, proposes $1 bet limits with a maximum of $20 to be fed into a machine at any one time and recommends a pre-commitment system by 2016, for players to set a limit on the amount they are prepared to lose. The former prime minister Kevin Rudd referred the report to a council of state governments to consider. First things first...Once the election results are known, the new parliament may include the independent anti-pokie campaigner Andrew Wilkie. The Greens, who support greater restrictions on poker machines, will hold the balance of power in the Senate. 'O' told analysts earlier in the week that it was too early to know what all this might mean, and any changes would need to be managed "in an orderly manner through new product coming through. In the short term I'm not factoring anything in around the government because, like you, I don't know which government we will take or what influence that will have, but I would think with all the other issues around it wouldn't be the first cab off the block." Aristocrat's profit includes a $12.7 million sale of an asset, but also represents a turnaround from the $33 million loss the company reported this time last year, and its $157 million full-year loss. It reported encouraging results in its biggest market, North America, where profit rose 5.5% in local currency, but it made a 199 million-yen loss in Japan. Aussie revenue fell 22% and profit fell 46% to $11.8 million. Odell described the local result as unacceptable and attributed it to difficult market conditions "legacy issues" within the company. Aristocrat reported some good news with strong sales in Macau and in Singapore's 2 new casinos but Odell said he expected trading conditions to remain difficult in most markets. "We do not expect any improvement over the balance of 2010." Aristocrat declared an unfranked 3.5% dividend to be paid on September 30. Profit results were roughly in line with expectations, and shares rose 2.62% to close off at $3.52.

James Packer: Casino And Media King News Report...

James Packer's pay television investment group Consolidated Media Holdings last week said it would not seek a new standstill agreement with Kerry Stokes' Seven Group Holdings when the current agreement expires on September 10. The 2 groups reached the agreement last year following Seven raids on Consolidated Media, which raised Seven's stake in the group to 19.9%, compared to James Packer's 40.8% holding.


Mildura Jewel Casino Prop: Up To Public...

If Mildura wants a casino now is the time for the city’s “movers and shakers” to back the proposed $400 million development. That is the view of the man behind the Mildura Jewel entertainment and convention centre plan, casino and property developer John Haddad. In an exclusive interview with the Sunraysia Daily this week, Mr Had dad said the time for him to “push” the project had lapsed – it was now up to Mildura to show it wanted the development. It was a development he labelled “a once in a lifetime opportunity” for Mildura, one he hoped people would see as critical to underpinning the city’s future. “It’s a Mildura thing now, not a John Haddad thing anymore,” he said. “I’m not pushing it now – I’m standing back. “I’ve put the project and the idea together for everybody to look at. “I’ll await the outcome. “All I will say is that it’s an extraordinary opportunity that has been handed to Mildura by the government, to be able to decide whether it wants the Jewel or not.” Casino proponents have been buoyed in recent weeks by the level of backing from various interest groups around the city. Last week, a group calling itself the Mildura Progress Action Group met for the first time, its immediate aim to gain information on the development and the processes needed to move it forward. It followed earlier backing from the newly formed Advance Northwest Association, a resident-based, pro-development lobby group.

South Australian Govt Missing Millions Thanks To Online Gambling; Could Be National Trend...

Online gambling is clearly understood to be diverting tax money from state coffers as punters go colder on poker machines and give online pokies from the likes of PartyGaming, Centrebet, PKR, Virgin, Roxy Palace, Captain Cooks Casino and Media Man white label type deals a go. The most recent figures show a significant dip in the amount gamblers pour into the state's pokies and a $10 million annual fall in tax revenue. State Government analysis shows punters put $729 million into pokies in the past financial year, compared with $750 million in the 12 months to June 30, 2009. The result is the lowest annual outlay on poker machines for 6 years and has resulted in a Government gaming tax revenue drop from $292 million to $282 million in the past year. Experts say mass-media advertising campaigns have driven a dramatic rise in the popularity of internet gambling, which sidesteps traditional tax regulations. South Australian pubs and clubs have also suffered an $11 million revenue hit, which comes as smoking bans look to further harm the sector. Australian Hotels Association general manager Ian Horne said competition from both sports betting and online gambling outlets was placing major pressure on the industry. "The sports betting market is expanding enormously," he said. "Just look at the betting options for the federal election. The promotion of betting odds was unprecedented. It's becoming the normal way of life to bet on anything and everything." Horne said poker machines had been unfairly "demonised" while other gambling options were considered socially acceptable. A spokeswoman for Gambling Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the decline could be attributed to reduced household expenditure for recreational activities. "This expenditure is also affected by the Reserve Bank's increasing of interest rates over the past 12 months," she said. The spokeswoman also said the Government was working to reduce the number of pokies, despite figures showing 7 more in use now than last year. "There is always some variation in the number of live machines, as gaming venues may not use all of their entitlements, for example during renovations," she said.
"The Rann Government is committed to reducing pokie machine entitlements by 3000. "So far the Government has removed more than 2200 gaming machine entitlements from SA venues." Treasurer Kevin Foley has warned the state to brace for a tough September 14 Budget, saying the lingering impact of the global financial crisis has diminished revenue. Media Man and Gambling911 have strong reason to believe that online gaming and gambling will continue to grow in the Australian - Asia Pacific region, and many land based venues will continue to be hit hard.

A Media Man spokesperson said "Online gambling and gaming is here to stay in Australia. The internet is of course a global medium. Website portals, affiliate programmes, and media agency deals help determine where the traffic, players, entertainment dollar and media coverage goes to. Even Fairfax Media, News Limited and Google are big industry players now. YouTube may ramp up also. Website portal developers such as us have also done well. This is all fueled by media and gaming press speculation, and remains hot fodder for news articles. PartyGaming, Virgin, World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker remain some of the biggest brands that often get major articles in mainstream press, so of which we help facilitate, be it officially or unofficially. Smart Australian casino operators such as Crown Casino are starting to plug into the action, exampled by Crown accepting PartyGaming - PartyPoker.com online poker players as part of their Aussie Millions promo last year... one by an Aussie, and will be doing the same again this year. Google is pushing forward with Google Games on the back of Pac-Man. Marvel Entertainment, Sega, DC Comics and even Harrah's are expected to ramp up. Gambling911 and Media Man will remain in the thick of the action, even though gaming and sports betting are only 2 of about a dozen of sectors covered. Many media companies are heding thier bets are offering strong coverge, while also covering many of industries like tech, politics, entertainment and the like. Some brands like Party and Virgin are in a number of sectors which is very exciting and profitable. Online variations of Cleopatra, Monopoly and Sinatra remain the top slots, with Tomb Raider enjoying a second wind, with 3D games like Heist on the upswing too. The industry is looking forward to a further improved remainder of the year, and punters will be able to benifit from great promos and deals, so its a win - win - win".

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Aussie Millions Poker Championship At Crown Casino This January...

Folks, mark it down in your diary. Australia's richest poker tournament is coming back to Crown in Melbourne this January.

Readers, is it time for Crown and Burswood to get their own branded online casino games like 'Underbelly' and 'Kerry Packer'? Has Crown now got its security levels to the right level? What other developments would you like to see at Packer's world of entertainment? What's your favorite casino games and why? Tell us in the forum.

Crown Limited Shares...

$8.350

Readers, know the odds, bet with your head, not over it, and have fun. Want more good Aussie fodder... check out Media Man and the 'Australian Casino Wars' portfolio at Gambling911 of course. Good punting.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming.

*The writer owns shares in Crown Limited

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