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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Australian Gambling News Round-Up, by Greg Tingle - 4th May 2011

G'day gamblers, casino high rollers, billionaires, journalists... one and all. Today we have another jam packed edition of the Aussie gambling news round-up. Lovers VS haters, political fun and games, Underbelly star arrested at Crown Casino on Logies night, share prices and much more.. Media Man and Gambling911 with the news you need to know...

MP Ley Calling For New Proposed Pokie Laws To Hit The Scrap Heap...

Yep, it won't stay out of the news. The Federal Member for Farrer says proposed poker machine legislation will be the death of small town clubs and pubs. The government is under pressure to consider exemptions for smaller clubs in the deal with Independent Andrew Wilkie. Sussan Ley says some MP's are talking about exemptions, in order to look after their own electorate, when they should be looking at the nation as a whole. "Clubs play a vital part in the fabric of small communities and if we start trying to say there's a threshold here and some clubs are exempt then it just becomes very difficult, even large clubs, I mean remember the larger the income that comes through that club, the more that club gives back to its local community." Ms Ley says the only solution is to scrap the bill altogether, as exemptions would see some clubs still miss out. She says the situation is absolutely critical for smaller clubs in regional areas. "Often it's the key focus of the town where it is, there's no where else to go for a quiet drink, for a cheap cup of coffee or a bingo night, particularly for our older less mobile members of the community. "Our clubs, no matter how big or small they are really do have an important role to play, and it's one that is under threat from this proposal." The Lovers VS Haters war continues.

West Sydney Clubs Told To Find New Ways To Raise Cash...

A mob that monitors the impact of gambling says far west clubs will need to find new ways to survive, if poker machine revenue is limited. The Federal Member for Farrer, Sussan Lee, says proposed poker machine legislation will be the death of small, regional clubs and should be scrapped. But the chairwoman of the State Gambling Impact Society, Kate Roberts, says clubs should not be relying so heavily on revenue from the machines. "We need clubs to start diversifying. "You will find that many of them have already done that but some small clubs in the process of that have had to amalgamate and perhaps streamline their services and look at tailoring their services more what they're communities need," she said. "81 per cent of the community is saying they want to have a means to limit losses on poker machines." Ms Roberts says gambling addiction is a big cost to the community. "Eighty per cent of people who are presenting to counselling services with problems are there with poker machine addiction. "It is a business model that is unsustainable and really this is an opportunity to start looking at how can we start diversify and how can we lessen that dependence and more importantly lessen the cost of $4.7b that this is costing our community."

Aussie Pokies King Len Ainsworth Keeps Hitting Jackpots...

A shareholder at yesterday's AGM was having a go at Aristocrat's poor performance pointed out that the new pokies being installed in his local are from Ainsworth's new firm Ainsworth Game Technology, not Aristocrat. The valid remark was taken on board by the Aristocrat chairman, Ian Blackburne, who responded with "Aristocrat was, quite frankly, uncompetitive", while insisting things were improving under the man in town, Jamie Odell. Ainsworth's contract before leaving Aristocrat costs shareholders a big however. Mr A still receives $100,000 a year "for the term of his natural life" plus a car of his choice. "And yes, he changes cars," Odell went on to say. Sshareholders agreed to approve performance share rights yesterday that could award him more than a million shares over the next three years. The current share price is less than 20% of its 2006 level, the dividend per share has dived even more and earnings per share is almost as bad, just to add salt into the wound. Mr A keeps winning. Charlie Sheen would be proud.

Burwood Casino Apprentice Charged After Picking Up $100 From Floor...

A casino worker apprentice was charged on the first day of the month with stealing from Burswood Casino after allegedly pocketing two $100 notes he found on the floor will fight the charges. Adrian Lamonica-Miraglio of Lockridge pleaded not guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court to one count of stealing. It is alleged that at 8.30pm on March 27 the 22-year-old refrigeration mechanic was having drinks with friends at one of the casino's bars when he noticed the cash and picked it up and put it in his pocket. He claims he made no attempt to spend the money and handed it over when he was approached by casino security staff. Police later arrived at the scene and charged him with stealing. He has since been handed a life ban from Burswood Casino. Mr Lamonica-Miraglio will stand trail in August. Casino theft by employees is thought of a big no no by Crown Limited king of the castle, James Packer. Some speculation as to if it was a golden opportunity to rid the casino of a worker that they may not have wanted any longer, however that may be impossible to prove.

Centrelink High-Rollers Told To Pay Back Big Brother Millions...

The Aussie Government has ordering customers nabbed losing huge amounts of money gambling while on Centrelink payments to pay back more than $9 million. Through cross-referencing casino high-roller information with Centrelink customers, the Government has found in excess of 500 people who gambled thousands of dollars while receiving benefits. Those caught have been ordered to pay back more than $9 million to the Government. Human Services Minister Tanya Plibersek says in many cases people gave Centrelink false information about their income or assets. "It's also the case that some people may start out correctly in receipt of benefits and then their circumstances change, they return to work for example but they don't tell Centrelink that their circumstances have changed," she said. Plibersek advised some of the offenders were found to be laundering money for criminals. "We don't understand how someone who is on new start or a disability support pension or an aged pension can afford to put $200,000 or $300,000 through a casino," she said. "It often means someone has undeclared income or undeclared assets or they're engaged in a criminal enterprise of money laundering." Numerous media commentators agree - gambling and being a Centrebet customer do not mix.

West Australia To Get Strong Anti Smoking Laws; Burswood Casino Will Be Effected...

WA would get the strongest anti-smoking laws down under under proposals which include a complete ban in outdoor areas where people eat, watch sport or catch buses. The bans are among 15 proposals contained in a Health Department discussion paper being released today, which includes removing a controversial exemption that allows gamblers to smoke in Burswood Casino's high-rollers room. One option is to ban smoking in all outdoor eating areas, which would be an Australian first. Another recommends a ban at all busy outdoors areas, including concerts, public waiting areas such as bus stops and venues popular with children. Another proposes a 5m smoke-free buffer zone around entrances to public buildings to stop smokers from congregating outside. The department says the proposed changes to the Tobacco Products Control Act will be open for public comment for six weeks until June 10. Despite rates of smoking in WA being among the lowest in the country, it says tighter laws might be needed because tobacco claims the lives of more than 1200 West Australians a year and is one of the most preventable causes of death. Australian Medical Association WA president Dave Mountain said WA had a reputation as a world leader in anti-smoking measures, reflected in its low smoking rates. "We need to maintain a strong legislative approach to stay ahead of the game and we . . . need to phase out smoking altogether so it becomes a relic of history," he said. "We strongly support these proposals, including banning smoking in Burswood's high-rollers room which exposes staff to smoke just to attract dollars and pander to the big end of town." Dr Mountain said he supported wider bans outdoors because seeing other people smoke gave a visual cue that it was still acceptable to smoke around other people. Smokers, you have been warned.

Retailer Giant Woolworths Will Ramp Up Pokies Business...

Woolworths, best known for their supermarkets rather than poker machines, and sometimes called 'The Fast Cash People', has not let the pending mandatory pre-commitment betting scheme hinder its plans for expansion. It was announced that Woolworths could strengthen its grip on the poker machine industry if it goes ahead with talks for a partnership with the state’s gambling king, Arthur Laundy. Anti gambling advocated remain up in arms about the Woollies involvement in gambling, but appear powerful to stop the juggernaut.

Nevada Bankruptcy Trustees Sue Australian Gaming Mob: Press Release - 29th April 2011...

Trustees of the bankrupt Sona group of gaming companies in Las Vegas are suing Australian gaming company eBet Ltd., claiming it failed to provide promised financing and that eBet's CEO had a conflict of interest in rejecting the financing. Sona Mobile Holdings Corp. and subsidiaries Sona Innovations Inc. and Sona Mobile Inc. filed for bankruptcy in March 2009. They're still in Chapter 7 liquidation in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Nevada. In a 2008 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Sona Mobile Holdings said that as of Sept. 30, 2008, it had assets of $2 million against liabilities of $6.2 million and had accumulated $26.4 million in losses since 2003 as it developed software for gaming and mobile devices. This software enabled gambling and transactions over wired, cellular and Wi-Fi networks. Based in New York with operations at times in Toronto; Boulder, Colo.; and Las Vegas, the company developed the Sona Gaming System involving casino games that were wired and wireless. The filing said this offered "real-time, multiplayer games that accommodate an unlimited number of players." The system also provided "games on a play-for-free or wagering basis" on cell phones or any carrier, the filing said. The filing said the system also involved horse and sports wagering applications for race and sports books, as well as on-track and off-track wagering, including live streaming video of horse races and other sports events. One use of the system was for patrons in a designated sports book area to make race and sports wagers or play roulette, video poker, slots and table games between races or at halftime, court records say. Remote-betting systems developed in a strategic alliance with Shuffle Master Inc. of Las Vegas were called mCasino and mWager. The bankruptcy court trustees of the three bankrupt Sona entities filed an adversary complaint in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Las Vegas on April 15 in hopes of recovering funds for the benefit of the bankruptcy estates and their creditors. Besides eBet Ltd. of Macquarie Park, Australia, the defendants are eBet Services Pty. Ltd. and eBet CEO Anthony P. Toohey. The complaint says that in August 2008, Sona Holdings entered into a licensing and distribution agreement with eBet, that eBet agreed to a "master services agreement" (MSA) with Sona Holdings and eBet committed to pay a license fee to Sona Holdings of $2.5 million. As part of this deal, eBet Services Pty. would provide advisory services and software development and maintenance services, and Sona Holdings would pay for those services, the complaint says. However, eBet agreed to reimburse Sona Holdings for these costs through a chargeback arrangement, the complaint says. The complaint says that under the companies' arrangement, eBet was allowed to designate the CEO of Sona Holdings and that after Aug. 25, 2008, Toohey served as both CEO of Sona Holdings and eBet Ltd. In February 2009, a Sona Holdings vice president advised Toohey that unspecified amounts were due from eBet to reimburse Sona Holdings for certain costs, including costs for equipment leases and costs for employees whom Sona had anticipated would transition to the employment of eBet, the complaint says. "Sona Holdings expected that eBet would employ most of Sona's technical staff -- including the Canadian technical developers, and thereby reduce Sona's cash outlay obligations," the complaint says. "eBet did not transition Sona employees to eBet but instead agreed to compensate Sona for its employee and personnel costs relating to software development and software maintenance including the costs to employ the Canadian technical developers." "It was Toohey, as CEO and managing director of eBet Ltd., who failed to authorize and direct eBet's reimbursement of Sona's chargeback costs under the MSA and failed to authorize reimbursement to Sona for its employee costs resulting from eBet's refusal to assume and transition Sona's technical employees," the complaint says. The complaint alleges breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and breach of fiduciary duty by Toohey and seeks damages of at least $1.2 million -- not counting unspecified punitive damages. "Toohey, as president and CEO of Sona Holdings, owed a fiduciary duty to Sona Holdings and its shareholders, including a duty of impartiality," the complaint says. "Toohey had a conflict of interest by simultaneously serving as both president and CEO of Sona Holdings and CEO and managing director of eBet Ltd. "Toohey breached his duties to Sona when his decision that eBet not pay Sona Holdings under the MSA benefited eBet and harmed Sona," the complaint says. Toohey, reached by e-mail, said he and eBet had no comment on the complaint. It's unclear from the complaint whether Sona could have survived, even if eBet had continued to fund it, as Sona had warned investors in 2008 it was reliant on continued investments to survive. "Since its inception in November 2003, the company has generated minimal revenue, has incurred substantial losses and has not generated any positive cash flow from operations. The company has relied upon the sale of shares of equity securities and convertible debt to fund its operations in addition to the recent licensing agreement with eBet Ltd., which closed in September 2008. These conditions raise substantial doubt as to the company's ability to continue as a going concern," Sona said in a September 2008 SEC filing. Sona Mobile Holdings lost $4.7 million on revenue of $312,000 in the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2008, the filing said.

Bucky's Casino Mile High PBR Aussie Connection...

The Mile High PBR, which started yesterday with mutton busting preliminaries and a mini-bull expo at Buffalo Wild Wings in Prescott Valley at 6:30 p.m., will featured 45 of the top up-and-coming bull riders and lots of high-scoring bulls. The mutton busting- and mini bull finals will take place at Tim's Toyota Center on Saturday starting at 6:30 p.m., with the main event to follow. Mortensen also invited some the area's top Native American bull riders to get in on the fun. "We've got some of the best bull riders from the Turquoise Circuit," he said. "We've got riders from Tuba City, Kayenta, Round Rock, etc." If this crop of bull riders hasn't shared any hair-raising stories with Diefenbach, or the other members of the Mile High PBR bullfighting crew to date, that may change by the time Sunday morning rolls around. Diefenbach was on the other side of the gate as a young man in Australia, but made the switch to bullfighter when the opportunity popped up. When asked about the first time he faced off with a bull, he said uncertainty as to what would happen once he found himself in the path of an oncoming bull gave him pause. Yeah, he was scared too. He's not scared, per se, of the bull anymore. "I don't get scared. Bull riding and casinos do mix - who would have thought.

Gambling Stocks To Watch...

ALL - ARISTOCRAT LEISURE LTD -

Gaming machine supplier Aristocrat Leisure expects its full year net profit in 2011 to be 10 to 20% than in 2010.


South Australian Charities To Do It Tougher; Crackdown On Gambling Elements...

Minister for Gambling Gail Gago said the Government could make changes to the draft code. "The Office of the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner is currently reviewing the submissions received, taking into consideration the concerns and suggestions raised," she said. "The Commissioner will make recommendations to me, including possible amendments to the draft code of practice. "This is not about increasing unnecessary red tape; it is about ensuring the integrity of charitable donations and collections."

Underbelly: AussieWood and Real Life Big Hits At TV Week Logies...

Life appears to have imitated art at James Packer's Crown Casino in the early hours of this morning when Underbelly actor Dieter Brummer allegedly became involved in an "incident" with up to five security guards. Victorian police were called to the Crown Casino complex and the 34-year-old bloke from North Bondi was charged with intentionally causing injury, recklessly causing injury, unlawful assault, behaving in a riotous manner and being drunk in a public place. Yes, quite a list. Crown spokesman Gary O'Neill told the Herald that CCTV footage and a security report was being handed over to police. O'Neill said he had seen the footage, which he claimed indicated Crown's security guards had "followed the appropriate procedures for dealing with these situations". He politely declined to comment any further, but shared "People see these things differently, it is now up to the police to do their work." Following the Logie awards, Brummer was having a drink or five at the JJs Bar inside the Crown Complex, which each year is the venue for the Network Nine afterparty. Channel Nine is the broadcast partner of the Logies. The Underbelly hit show, which showcases the underworld down under in Australia and has been watched by millions of Aussies, has been one of the network's biggest hits and received plenty of Logies this year. Brummer and other stars of the show, including Firas Dirani were in a party state of mind throughout the evening. Reports have come to light that Brummer was asked to leave the Nine party, although this has not been proven at the time we go to press. Witnesses told the press they saw Brummer being pinned to the carpet outside JJs Bar and heard him screaming at the five guards to "get off me". Some observers were also seen filming the alleged incident on their mobile phone cameras. The man was taken from Crown Casino at 2.25am to nearby Prahran police station to be charged. He will appear before Melbourne Magistrates Court on August 29. Life can imitate art, for better of worse.


Underbelly's Firass Dirani Kicks Ass At Logies...

For Underbelly: The Golden Mile’s leading man Firass Dirani there was reasons for trifecta celebration after snatching the Most Popular New Male Talent and Graham Kennedy Award For Most Outstanding New Talent Awards, as well as bringing in his 27th birthday, which was on Friday. And in a most entertaining acceptance speech thanked 'Teenage Dream' queen Katy Perry. Kings Cross based set drama series Underbelly: The Golden Mile was awarded the TV Week Silver Logie for Most Outstanding Drama Series, Miniseries or Telemovie. The night's first winner Firass Dirani, who was voted the most popular newcomer for his performance in Underbelly: The Golden Mile, begged American pop chanteuse Katy Perry to have his babies before thanking the shows producers "for taking a chance and injecting some flair and some of that caramel flavour into our TV screens". Insiders say the "caramel flavour" was a reference to the multi cultural thing, given that Durani is not a Caucasian "white" Australian. Tipsters are confident Underbelly will continue for "one or two years more", with more gambling themes to be incorporated into the smash hit franchise.

Readers, if you have a bet, please bet with your head, not over it, and have fun.

Punters, er readers, stay glued to Media Man reports for more "can't miss" information on the Australian casino and gambling scene.

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