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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Australian And Asia Pacific Gaming And Gambling News, by Greg Tingle - 28th June 2011

Profiles

Media Man Crown Casino James Packer Tabcorp Holdings Asia Pacific Games Gambling911 Internet City Of Dreams Macau Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Australia

Asia Pacific gambling is red hot, with Australia appearing to be the eye of the hurricane.... Media Man investigates...


Deutsche Bank Confirms Damage Of Wilkie Reforms On Clubs And Hotels...

An independent analysis of Andrew Wilkie’s mandatory pre-commitment technology for poker machines by Deutsche Bank confirms industry predictions of a financial wipe-out for clubs and pubs.

The report predicts gaming revenue will be reduced by between 30-40%, which translates to an annual loss of income of between $4.9 and $6.5 billion.

Further, the Deutsche Bank report predicts the installation cost of Andrew Wilkie’s licence to punt technology on the nation’s 200,000 poker machines and linking them to a national database at up to $5 billion.

Last night the ABC program Media Watch suggested industry predictions of 40% were inaccurate and that no one knows what the revenue implications will be.

Executive Director of ClubsAustralia Anthony Ball said the Deutsche Bank analysis of mandatory pre-commitment confirms industry warnings that the as yet untested technology will reduce club revenue by 40%.

“The Productivity Commission recommended to the Federal Government that this technology should be trialled, and with good reason.

“It’s a measure of the Federal Government’s desperation to avoid the wrath of Andrew Wilkie that they instead of trialling mandatory pre-commitment, they are defending it. The Government is now ignoring predictions from Deutsche Bank as well as the gambling industry and gambling researchers that this technology will cost billions of dollars.

“Possibly even more alarming, some of Australia’s leading gambling academics have indicated mandatory pre-commitment will not achieve a reduction in the rate of problem gambling.

“Clubs and hotels employ more than 180,000 people directly. Tens of thousands more are employed through sectors such as food, cleaning, security and tourism that won’t have a job if local clubs and pubs no longer exist.

“It’s one thing for the Government and now the ABC’s Media Watch to question the industry’s predictions of the financial impact of mandatory pre-commitment. Today we have an independent, internationally recognised financial institution confirming that the Wilkie deal will cost the industry up to $6.5 billion each year and another $5 billion just to set up.

“The anti-gambling lobby regularly claims that poker machines damage the community. The Productivity Commission looked at this issue and calculated that after considering the impact of problem gambling, poker machines deliver a net benefit to the community of between $768 million and $5.5 billion a year,” he said.


Media Man Firm Ramping Up Movie And TV Publicity Tied To Gaming Tie Ins...

A Media Man spokesperson has advised their plans to expand their coverage and website portfolio covering the global movie and television sector, with a focus on companies which produce both video and games. A Media Man spokesperson said "In the coming months our readership can expect much more coverage on Marvel Entertainment, DC Comics, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures and Universal Studios. This is in line with our preference to cover companies which produce movies, television shows, as well as offer branded games. Will will also be expanding our converge on the Australian and international land based casino sector, as well as gaming manufactures such as IGT, Aristocrat and other gaming related firms like FremantleMedia and NextGen Gaming. This will also compliment our upcoming investment offers and media and publicity offerings". The prime two website portals acting as a central point on the campaigns will be www.mediamanint.com and www.mediamannews.com


Online Gaming And Entertainment Company 2UP Enters Agreement To Buy Online Pokies/Slots...

Listed online gaming and entertainment company 2UP Gaming PLC (2GM:GR) has entered into an agreement to purchase an online pokies/slots affiliate business that is part of a global USD$6.7 billion industry.

London, UK, June 26, 2011 - The agreement, subject to due-diligence, is for the WebPokies.com and OnlinePokies.com.au domains that provide links to internet gaming services for a worldwide audience.

2UP managing director Peter Bentley says the purchase is an excellent strategic fit for the company providing immediate cash flow.

“A report released earlier this year noted online poker and casino operations account for almost half of the USD$13.49 billion international internet gambling market,” Mr Bentley says.

"Entering the affiliate business forms part of 2UP's long-term plans to become a major international online gaming and entertainment company.

"This purchase is for a long-established business with solid earnings, however we believe the revenues can be significantly increased through 2UP's distribution network in Asia, India and around the world."

Affiliate sites act as portals to enable visitors to locate and access online slot machines or pokies by redirecting them to casinos who pay for either traffic or a sale of their product. Many online casinos have affiliate programs driving traffic to their chosen domain.

OnlinePokies.com.au commenced in 2006 and acquired WebPokies.com in 2010. Both domains have demonstrated cumulative growth in players, revenues and earnings.

Mr Bentley says online gaming is currently experiencing exponential growth with signs for the sector to increase dramatically over the next few years.

"The growth of online gaming is particularly relevant in Europe, where governments are seeking to capture tax revenues by regulating the market," Mr Bentley says.

"A recent report by KPMG states cash-strapped governments around the world may consider relaxing current online gaming rules and restrictions in order to provide a much needed boost to tax revenues.

"If promoted properly, affiliate businesses can be extremely profitable, especially if they have standout URL's such as these."

2UP, with offices in the UK and Australia, listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in early May and has already seen a solid growth in its share price.

It recently finalised a partnership deal with one of Asia's largest pool betting companies ToteDaddy.

The deal will see 2UP's range of popular gaming and wagering products made available to ToteDaddy's substantial global membership base providing 2UP with immediate high-traffic exposure to the Asian online gaming market.

The company has an online gaming license granted until 2025 to capitalise on its market positioning.

The first game to be released from 2UP is its live streaming and animated versions of the classic Australian coin-tossing game.

This will be underpinned by other unique and established gaming and wagering options to be released as part of its growth plans.


Betfair Faces CEO Gamble...

Unexpected executive departures are usually followed by negative share reaction. True to form, the announcement by Betfair that CEO David Yu is to step down whacked its shares with almost 3% wiped off the online betting exchange’s share price in trading today.

But that’s small change compared to the near 600 pence pence (44%) the share price has lost since its initial public offering in October 2010.

Back then Mr. Yu promised growth predicated on cross-selling gambling products, going mobile, venturing overseas and putting Betfair’s proprietary technology to new use like the much-hyped LMAX financial markets trading platform.

Unfortunately, high rolling customers on one of Betfair’s potential cross-selling products, poker, failed to rejoin the company after it migrated to a new online system. Then regulatory restrictions severely crimped hopes for overseas expansion and LMAX has proved a very damp squib indeed.

Betfair cites Mr. Yu’s tenure (six years as CEO and another four before that as chief technology officer) as a key reason for his decision to depart once a successor is found, but the timing seems more strategically opportune.

“Given the share price performance since float and increasing market concerns over strategy and leadership, this is not unexpected and is likely to be taken as a positive, “ Evolution Securities analyst James Hollins said bluntly in a note to clients Monday.

It’s not all Mr. Yu’s fault though. He has no control over the regulatory environment, most notably in Germany, which has proposed severely draconian gambling laws that would see large swathes of online gaming and betting priced out of the market.

But given the hard sell at the IPO about the stellar opportunities for Betfair’s proprietary technology, both the poker migration fiasco and LMAX, still mired in start-up mode, are self-inflicted wounds.

Investec analyst Paul Leyland thinks former CTO Mr. Yu was the wrong choice for CEO in the first place, “especially given the failure to make [player to player] poker work, the (likely) waste of resources that has been LMAX, and the expansion of the cost-base without adequately factoring in regulatory risk.”

And he doesn’t think a gambling veteran would be the ideal choice for a successor, rather a “proven PLC executive with clear leadership skills who can display a willingness both to listen (internally and externally) and to delegate.”

CFO Stephen Morana is reported to be a front-runner.

Now that the company is no longer (over) valued as a high-growth tech stock, whoever takes the helm can hopefully “reinvigorate, refocus and re-market a business that has endured a difficult start to life as a listed company,” Peel Hunt’s Nick Batram says.


Analyst says James Packer may be looking to sell stake in Melco Crown...

One of Melco Crown’s two major shareholders, Australian-based Crown Limited may be looking to sell out its stake in the gaming operator, Merrill Lynch analyst Nathan Gee advised.

The prime goal would be for James Packer’s Crown to use the money to fund a move on Echo Entertainment, one its major casino rivals in Australia, Mr Gee said, quoted by The Australian.

“We can’t rule out Crown looking to divest Melco Crown, particularly if the Australian market continues to discount the value of Macau relative to the Melco Crown share price,” Mr Gee said.

Crown is already a minority stakeholder at Echo Entertainment and has recently said it has no “current” intention of increasing its interest in the company.

“We can’t discount a Crown takeover of Echo, but we think a deal is unlikely until 2012,” Mr Gee said.

Crown holds a 33.4% stake in Melco Crown.


Problem gambler 'offered $80,000 credit'...

Federal Liberal MP Alan Tudge is pursuing amendments to Northern Territory laws after one of his constituents advised he ran up an $80,000 debt gambling on credit with betting agency Sportsbet.

Mr Tudge — the MP for Aston in Melbourne's outer east — told Federal Parliament that in May, the problem gambler was offered $80,000 in credit by Sportsbet.

He said the Wantirna punter had lost the entire amount in less than a week, and when he could not pay it back, was taken to court by Sportsbet. He now faces a bankruptcy notice and the potential loss of his home.

The gambler's mother, Barbara, told the ABC Jon Faine program Tuesday that her son Henry (not his real name), who suffers from depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, was initially offered free bets of $5000, then $10,000 in credit by Sportsbet.

"When Henry was first approached by the individual staff ... Henry was at a loss – (he) thought 'How could they know me?' And he never used free bets before and he never knew Sportsbet, so he turned it down.

"And the individual staff approached him again and ... say 'I have set account for you'.

"In this case Henry was vulnerable and inexperienced, he did not know what it would mean to him. But eventually the disasters came just like an earthquake ...

"Since this occurred to us my son and me were under very heavy pressure financially and mentally ..."

Mr Tudge does not claim that Sportsbet has done anything illegal, and admits that legally, Henry is in the wrong. However, he says the provision of credit for gambling must not be allowed.

“Sportsbet was only able to provide credit to (his constituent) due to regulations in the NT which are more lenient than in other jurisdictions in Australia.

“All jurisdictions except the NT and ACT expressly prohibit extending credit to these customers or only allow it in exceptional circumstances. In Victoria, where Henry lives, it is prohibited.

“Sportsbet is headquartered in Melbourne but licensed in the NT. By being licensed there, it is covered by the Northern Territory laws, despite its online presence being Australia-wide,” Mr Tudge said.

Mr Tudge names the Territory provisions a "loophole" and has written to Territory Chief Minister Paul Henderson asking for changes to his laws. If that doesn't work, he will look to initiate federal legislation.

"There's a number of actions we can potentially take as well and certainly I will be discussing it with the parliamentary committee which is just starting to look into internet gambling as well.

Mr Tudge will discuss the matter with independent and Greens senators next week.
"I don't think it should be allowed at all in terms of online gambling companies being allowed to provide credit to their customers. I think it is a significant moral hazard for them to be able to do so."

The MP has asked Sportsbet to "show compassion" towards Henry.

To their credit, Sportsbet's Responsible Gambling Code of Conduct permits people to set betting limits and to suspend or exclude themselves from placing a bet with the company.

Is gambling a problem for you? Counselling services which may assist you are Problem Gambling Victoria 1800 858 858 http://www.problemgambling.vic.gov.au
Amity Community Services (NT) call 1800 629 683, G-line (NSW) call 1800 633 635.

Please bet with your head, not over it, and have fun.


New study reveals changing nature of gambling behaviour in Victoria...

From the Minister for Gaming

The latest findings from the Victorian Gambling Study reveal that gambling habits and behaviours are not static, according to Minister for Gaming Michael O'Brien.

The study is the first longitudinal study in the world to estimate the rate of new problem gambling cases in a general population in a 12 month period, following the same group of Victorian adults over three years to explore their health, wellbeing and gambling behaviours.

"The study will add to our understanding of gambling behaviours and will enable us to develop more effective prevention, early intervention and treatment programs," Mr O'Brien said.

The Victorian Gambling Study - A Longitudinal Study of Gambling and Public Health, Wave Two Findings found that almost six per cent of participants who gamble increased their risk category, moving to the low, moderate or problem gambling categories. Meanwhile, 4.3 per cent moved away from those risk categories to a lower-risk status.

However, 88 per cent of non-problem gamblers remained non-problem gamblers, while 72.5 per cent of problem gamblers did not change category.

"This is a clear indication that, while the study shows not all problem gamblers remain problem gamblers, for some, problem gambling might be a longer-term feature of their life," Mr O'Brien said.

"The Victorian Coalition Government recently committed $150 million over four years to establish the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation to reduce problem gambling, encourage responsible gambling and ensure that much more is done to tackle the serious social problems caused by problem gambling.

"Research adds to our understanding of gambling, in particular problem gambling, and allows us to make informed decisions about gambling policy and legislation.

"Problem gambling is a significant and multifaceted social problem and preventing problem gambling, and treating those who need support, requires a coherent and integrated approach supported by good evidence," Mr O'Brien said.

To learn more about the Victorian Gambling Study, visit www.gamblingstudy.com.au


A well-orchestrated campaign: ABC 'Media Watch'

Transcript
http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s3254914.htm

Video
http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/video


Barnett confirms stadium for Burswood...

Perth’s new multi-purpose stadium would be built on the Burswood Peninsula and is scheduled for completion in 2018, Premier Colin Barnett has said.

The new Perth Stadium will have the third-biggest capacity in Australia and will be the second largest AFL home stadium.

It will have a capacity of 60,000 seats with provision for future expansion to 70,000 seats in the style of Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium, with similar views, amenities and comfort.

The Premier's announcement followed an exclusive report in The West Australian today that Cabinet had approved the plan yesterday.

Mr Barnett today said that the Burswood Peninsula was unconstrained by surrounding development and Government-owned, "which will allow us to achieve the vision of a world-class stadium precinct".

“The new stadium will be the centrepiece of an emerging eastside precinct at the gateway to Perth and is within walking distance of a range of potential transport options including footbridges, ferries, and trains," he said in a statement.

“We want people going to the stadium for an event to catch public transport. The new Perth Stadium will deliver a high quality, state-of-the-art facility all West Australians can be proud of.

“To help us achieve this, there will be an international design competition to attract the best ideas."

The 2011-12 State Budget allocated a total of $13 million over two years for planning of the new stadium.

The final cost will be determined after the design process has been completed. However, the current indicative cost for the stadium is approximately $700 million, excluding costs associated with upgrades to transport infrastructure.

The design will not include an underground carpark.

The Premier said geotechnical problems will be solved by anchoring the stadium to 30m-deep pylons driven into bedrock.

Lighting will be in Eagles and Dockers colours, depending on who is playing on the big night.

The stadium will be linked to East Perth by a footbridge.

A four-platform train station will be built so that every train line can come directly into the stadium.

Sport and Recreation Minister Terry Waldron said a steering committee would be established to oversee the project and will be co-chaired by the executive director of the Office of Strategic Projects Richard Mann and director general of the Department of Sport and Recreation Ron Alexander.

The press has been reporting that the plan was endorsed after ministers were convinced the Burswood site was stable and the arena was affordable.

No geotechnical testing has been done at the site near the Graham Farmer Freeway.

The Government is yet to pinpoint how much it will cost to upgrade transport links to the Burswood Peninsula, with a ferry terminal, a pedestrian footbridge and a bigger train station at Belmont Park racecourse likely to add hundreds of millions of dollars to the final bill.

It is understood the Government is keen for gambling and media tycoon James Packer to contribute to the transport upgrades because the billionaire's Burswood Casino complex will benefit greatly from the improvements.

The prediction that the stadium can be built for well under $1 billion will raise eyebrows, given that in 2006 a task force charged with investigating the best stadium site put the cost of building an arena at Burswood at $685 million, assuming construction started in 2008 and finished in March 2013.

A 5-year construction timeline, starting within 2 years, would elevate that price to more than $900 million, once construction inflation is factored in.

The task force, headed by former under-treasurer John Langoulant, noted that a stadium at Burswood would "greatly enhance the national and international reputation of the City of Perth".

But the report warned the venue would present transport problems because access was restricted to Victoria Park Drive and the nearby train station was at capacity.

It also flagged engineering headaches because the peninsula used to be a rubbish tip.

It is understood the Government is using soil testing by companies which built the casino and nearby apartment towers as evidence the site is suitable.

The task force put the total cost of the Burswood option, including transport needs, at $1.147 billion. Increasing construction costs since the report suggest the bill will be close to $1.5 billion, assuming work begins within two years.

Premier Colin Barnett has championed Burswood as the best location for the stadium. The tennis centre site is several hundred metres east of the area considered by the Langoulant task force.

The sports, events, construction, tourism and gambling industry is watching this one closely.


Casino And Gaming Share Prices...

Code Company Name Exchange Currency Price

CWN Crown Limited ASX AUD 8.620
EGP Echo Entertainment Group ASX AUD 4.02
RCT Reef Casino Trust ASX AUD 1.65
TAH Tabcorp Holdings Limited ASX AUD 3.17
DHCC Diamondhead Casino Corp. OTC USD 0.540
CGAM Concorde Gaming Corp. PINK USD 0.0001
EMH SPORTWETTEN.DE AG ETR EUR 0.589
ESO Estoril Sol SGPS SA ELI EUE 3.63

Punters, er readers, stay glued to Media Man reports for more "can't miss" information on Australian and Asia Pacific pokies, gaming and casino wars.

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

*The writer owns shares in Crown Limited

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