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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Australian And New Zealand Gambling And Casino News, by Greg Tingle - 17th February 2011

G'day everyone. It's yet another huge gambling and casino news updated from down under in Australia. We've got political fun and games, lovers VS haters, man VS machine, Big Brother VS The People, and you get the idea. Media Man and Gambling911 with your regular Aussie round up...

Pokies limits Likely To Cost Hotels Up To $4b'...

The Hotels Association says it would cost the industry up to $4 billion to comply with proposed new laws for pokies. The Federal Government aims to force gamblers to set limits on how much money they are prepared to lose before they play machines. But the Australian Hotels Association says the scheme would drive people to other forms of gambling, like illegal or online, and lead down the road to job losses. John Whelan from the Association has told anyone that would listen at a Parliamentary inquiry half of all machines would need to be replaced. "What's being asked of the industry this time around will involve a multi-billion dollar capital cost. It's very unlikely that those many venues or most venues around (have) the cash to do that, and it's equally unlikely that the banks will lend them the money to fund that capital cost."

Proposed Pokie Laws Will Send Smaller Clubs Broke...

Industry group, Clubs New South Wales, says the cost of complying with proposed new poker machine laws will send clubs across the region broke and put thousands out of work. The Productivity Commission has told a parliamentary inquiry, responsible hotels and clubs will barely notice the impact on revenue from the proposed laws designed to help problem gamblers. The new laws would require individuals to register and nominate a maximum spend amount and then use a USB card in converted machines. Clubs NSW Hunter spokesman, John Chin says his Hexham club will have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to convert 87 poker machines. "We're talking around $400,000 just to be compliant. I'm sure it's not going to do what they think it's going to do and that's to help the problem gambler." Chin says he understands the Prime Minister's dilemma, but she needs to understand the impact it will have on local clubs and 5,000 Hunter jobs. She had given him the agreement that she would push this through. We are fighting basically a life and death struggle for us and we are not going to give way, saying they can have it their way. We will fight this to the very end."

Higher Power At Work In Gambling; Godsend To Bendigo, Victoria...

Well respected Social welfare agency St Luke’s, has a rather new approach to tackle problem gambling...reaching out to workers at the Bendigo region’s gaming venues. St Luke’s will kick off its new venue support worker program, aimed at helping staff at gaming venues recognise and assist potential problem gamblers. The initiative comes as a new Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation survey of gaming venue managers and staff showed about two-thirds were less than comfortable to approach someone with a gambling problem and that almost 10% had never been instructed on dealing with problem gamblers. Trevor Rice is one of 26 Gamblers Help venue support workers across Victoria and covers 23 venues in the area from Gisborne and Maryborough to Swan Hill and Echuca. "I go and work out with the venues what training they require. Most venues are looking at how to approach people, and I think it’s a confidence thing. We’ve had some good responses. Some are very proactive, and all of the managers are very positive about the program." Rice said a problem gambler may exhibit one of more than 100 signs, including playing for long periods, attachment to a particular machine, aggression and continued visits to ATMs. Bendigo Stadium chief executive officer Eric Pascoe said Rice began training staff at the stadium last week after he initiated a meeting with Rice and Gamblers Help counsellors at St Luke’s. "The stadium is a community organisation, and we wanted to be a leader in helping problem gamblers and take a very active approach. Some insiders question if a staff member should be required to look out for over 100 different signs in players, thinking that may be more the thing for a body language expert of psychologist, attempting to move the responsibility and legal burden to a club employer. A Media Man spokesperson said "In regard to watching out to problem gamblers, the program has some merit, but it looks like there may be some buck passing going on already. Club workers are not psychologists. One may question if them having to remember up to 100 signs of a problem gambler is fair cop. An agro patron being questioned if they have a problem may also potentially wish to argue or get in a fight with who questions them. This proposal is fraught with questions and risks".

Queensland Banana Benders Punters Spend $5 Million Bucks Per Day On Poker Machines...

Banana Benders sank almost $5 million a day into poker machines in the first month of this year. The state's more than 42,000 machines collected nearly $153 million in metered wins in January. This is about $10 million more than January last year and up more than $18 million for the year to date. Queensland Council of Social Service director Jill Lang advised the number of at-risk and problem gamblers lay between 8 and 9% and were responsible for about 40% per cent of money generated. Some insiders question the numbers, with social groups known to sometimes use misleading numbers in attempt to push their own agenda. Lang said QCOSS supports many of the recommendations from the ongoing federal parliamentary inquiry into gambling, including pre-commitment machines, where gamblers set a limit. She advised that along with slowing down the betting rate and removing ATMs from the area where possible, pre-commitment was a good idea, despite industry saying this week that it would be too expensive. Clubs Queensland CEO Doug Flockhart said despite the higher year-to-date figures, the floods had led a drop in revenue in the central west by almost 44%. He said pokies upgrades would cost between $3500 and $5000 per machine. "Pre-commitment machines are another tool in the box. Any addict, whether it be alcohol or drugs, until they make the decision to stop, there'll be no way to stop them".

Aussie Hotels Want Pokie Limit Trial...

The Australian Hotels Association has just about begged the government to carry out detailed research and trials of mandatory pre-commitment poker machines before rolling out restrictions nationwide. The AHA's written submission to an inquiry on pre-commitment pokies was critical of the push by independent Andrew Wilkie, the committee's chairman, to have the pre-commitment system rolled out in 2014, despite the Productivity Commission saying it should begin in 2016, with exemptions for small hotels until 2018. The AHA warned that it could cost the industry up to $2.5 billion to upgrade machines to make them capable of having a pre-commitment function limiting the amount of money punters can wager. Older machines, mainly in regional areas, would have to be completely replaced at a cost of $25,000 each to make them capable of having a mandatory pre-commitment. In its submission, the AHA said it wished to work with government "to develop a sensible, evidenced-based way forward - that will continue to minimise harm from gambling, but will not close our businesses, slash our workforce and reduce our community support". AHA's national chief executive Des Crowe and director for responsible gaming John Whelan fronted the joint standing committee on gambling reform yesterday. The Productivity Commission also appeared before the committee yesterday highlighting the need for any trial of pre-commitment technology to be held in a large area, such as Tasmania. The commission warned that a small trial zone would allow people to drive to the next suburb where they could play unrestricted. The commission also dismissed concerns that people's privacy could be breached by new technology. On Friday the committee will reconvene in Hobart, where it will hear from Anglicare and the Australasian Casino Association. Media Man has interviewed dozens of journalists and gaming experts about pre commitment over the past few months with all questioned saying they don't see the Gillard government proposal offering a total solution and that trials overseas showed that the pre commitment doesn't work properly. It's widely known that gamblers and problem gamblers will gamble no matter what government restrictions are put in place. An uprising off illegal poker and casino game events are expect in Australia on an invitation only basis. This follows the U.S and Canadian pattern, where if some forms of gambling become illegal or too restricted, they thrive in the underground, falling off the map of government reports and bean counter types.

Crown Casino Loves Rugby Union Too...

James Packer's Crown Casino is enjoying the company of other sports fans at a lunch for Melbourne's new rugby union team, the Rebels. 1200 people showed their support at the lunch, with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and opera singer Teddy Tahu Rhodes part of the fun. Mike Brady gave a preview of his new rugby anthem. Rebels board member Gary Gray, whose involvement with Victorian rugby goes back to the failed 2005 bid to get a licence from the Australian Rugby Union, said rugby's support in Melbourne was a complex and varied mix. Rugby is an international game. You have a lot of people that have been starved for it in this town - expats both from interstate and from New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, even France and other parts of Europe where rugby's popular." Gray said there was also strong support from the local south Pacific island community, which has fielded many top players, and local clubs. "In Victoria there's the south Pacific island community, some of the state schools play rugby, most of the private schools play.". Crown Casino continues to back sport, having recently sponsored the NRL's Melbourne Storm.

Adelaide SkyCity Casino Feels Some Pain...

The popular casino's pre-tax earnings climbed to $16.1 million as its owner predicted subdued future trading. Sky City's half year profit fell 2.2% to $51 million ($NZ67.1 million) and chief executive Nigel Morrison said a quiet retail environment would impact on gaming revenue in Adelaide as it works with the State Government on developing the Riverfront precinct. Adelaide Casino lifted revenue by just $500,000 to $74.4 million but pre-tax earnings climbed 5.6 per cent to $16.1 million in the six months to December 31 thanks to "good cost controls and food and beverage revenue", Morrison said. Smoking bans in Darwin impacted on Australian casino earnings which fell 2% to $NZ47.2 million. The economic environment in this country remained challenging, particularly in discretionary retail, while the Australian discretionary retail sector was now also reporting more challenging times, Morrison said. Normalised net profit climbed 2.1% to $51 million after adjusting for comparisons without its divested cinemas group, the company said. Normalised revenue from ordinary activities rose 3.1 per cent on a year earlier to $NZ410.1 million.
An interim dividend of 8c a share has been declared. Gamblers from the orient - China and Thailand into the company's Auckland casino boosted the company's international business division, which almost doubled revenue to $1.1 billion. That growth underpinned the decision to invest in increased capacity and world class facilities for international customers in Auckland, Sky City said. Sky City reiterated its full year profit guidance to $96.1 million. Talks with the South Australian government on the proposed Adelaide Casino redevelopment and casino regulatory reforms were continuing, Morrison said. "We continue to stress the importance of a level playing field in respect of casino regulation and believe in the potential of the Adelaide market to deliver strong growth should some of the current challenges be adequately addressed," the company said. Sky City shares are trading steady at $2.49.

Sky City New Zealand And Australia Half Yearly Profits Drop...

The economic slowdown in New Zealand and Australia has led to a fall in half-year profit at casino operator Sky City Entertainment Group. The company made $67.1 million in the six months to December, a decrease of 6% on the same period a year ago. Stripping out a contribution from its now sold cinema operations, the listed company's underlying profit rose 2% to $67.4 million. Revenue rose 3% to $448 million, with growth in Adelaide and Hamilton partly offseting a fall at Darwin due to the introduction of a smoking ban.
Sky City chief executive Nigel Morrision says earnings at its flagship Auckland casino remained flat, as the subdued economy deterred local gamblers, although turnover doubled from high rollers, mainly from Asia. He says revenue rose 9% for the first six weeks of this year compared with the same period a year ago. Looking ahead, Sky City expects a full year profit of $127.4 million, compared with last year's normalised profit of $129 million.
A dividend payout of 8 cents a shares has been declared. Media Man analysts were not prepared to comment on what the financial position the firm would likely to be in come end of year results.

Online Casinos, Online Poker and Sports Betting...

Ok readers, we hear you... you also want to know some of the best places to play online (that accept Aussies) if your in or around the Asia Pacific - Australia (including Tassie) and New Zealand, so here it is...

PartyCasino.com

Captain Cooks Casino

Betfair (sports betting only)

PKR.com (poker, slots including Marvel slot games and sports betting)

PartyPoker.com (online poker at one of the world's most respected poker rooms and gaming brands)

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If you have a bet, please bet with your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. Gaming is just one of a dozen sectors covered

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