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Monday, April 30, 2012

Media Man News Update - 30th April 2012




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Casino controversy continues...

Affluent Chinese tourists are a significant component for James Packer’s hopes to construct a second Sydney casino at Barangaroo.

Mr Packer has found opposition to his plans for a second harbour-side casino in the form of Tourism Queensland chairman, Don Morris.

Consumer research provided by Tourism Australia supports Mr Morris’ claims that Chinese tourists are not visiting Australia just to gamble and visit casinos.

“Our traditional European, British and US markets have long been seduced by the uniqueness of Australia's easygoing, class-free culture. And the Chinese are the same, with this research ranking 'laid-back and easygoing' as their key motivator for visiting Australia, after safety,” Mr Morris told The Australian.

Mr Packer disagreed and said that without proper infrastructure, accommodation and entertainment “we will not get the tourism growth Australia deserves”.

He has support from Tourism Australia chairman and Crown board member Geoff Dixon.

“The Crown, Burswood and Star complexes are a lot more than casinos; they are integrated resorts that provide some of the best restaurants, convention and meeting facilities in Australia,” Mr Dixon said.

“To get very desirable venues you often need revenues from casinos."

Mr Packer said the rising middle class tourists spread throughout China and Asia “wants luxury hotels, great restaurants, high-end retail and an entertainment experience which usually includes the opportunity to have a gamble”.

Mr Dixon agreed claiming “they [high-end Chinese travellers] want all the things our research says, such as the environment and good food, but also many of them do desire the opportunity to visit casinos”.

Despite his lack of encouragement for a second Sydney casino, Mr Morris supported Mr Packer’s suggestion of a new hotel in Sydney.

“A new major Sydney hotel of the superb standard of Melbourne's Crown Towers would provide a vital and overdue tourism impetus to Sydney and benefit immensely the entire Australian tourism sector.”


The Darling in Sydney wins Best New Hotel Design at Asia-Pacific International Hotel Awards...

Sydney's new 5 star hotel The Darling, designed by Cox Richardson Architects has won the Best New Hotel Construction and Design 2012 at the Asia-Pacific International Hotel Awards in Kuala Lumpur.

The Star commissioned renowned building corporation, Brookfield Multiplex, to interpret and execute the designs by Cox Richardson Architects, to produce a contemporary hotel integrated within the existing complex.

The Darling has been designed as a stand-alone hotel, with its own arrival experience, amenities and alluring personality. It is the first five-star new build hotel in Sydney since the 2000 Olympic Games.

Two-part in its design, The Darling has a distinctive inverted glass tower resting on a sandstone podium and features 171stylish and spacious rooms and suites, an infinity pool and a luxury 16 room spa. The Darling is also home to Sokyo, an exciting new contemporary Japanese restaurant and bar.

Echo Entertainment Group CEO, Larry Mullin said the industry award is recognition of The Darling’s distinctive design and a tribute to the hard work and dedication by a strong team of builders, designers and visionaries.

“We are very proud to receive this prestigious award and I would like to thank everyone involved, including our partners, Brookfield Mulitplex, Cox Richardson and Laurence Lee.

“We set out to create an iconic hotel at The Star that was sympathetic to its surroundings, while breaking the mould in terms of design and construction. The result we think is an innovative and aesthetically beautiful building that appeals to business and leisure travellers looking for something different to chain hotels.”

The International Hotel Awards recognise the most outstanding hotel projects across Asia Pacific which have been singled out for their green credentials, excellent architectural merit and design. Eighteen different countries took part in this year’s competition with judges reporting keen competition across the board.

Located on the edge of Sydney’s harbour and a key feature of The Star’s $870 million redevelopment, The Darling Hotel and Spa features 171 rooms and suites complete with views of the harbour and city skyline. The rooms and suites are designed to feel like a home away from home for both business and leisure travellers.

Built in addition to the existing hotel and apartments, The Darling brings the total rooms and suites at The Star to over 650 across three towers.


Poker Legend “Amarillo Slim” Preston Passes Away...

In saddening news from the state of Texas this morning, 1972 World Series of Poker Championship Event victor, four-time WSOP bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Fame member “Amarillo Slim” Preston has passed away after a lengthy illness. The legend of the poker world was 83 years old.

Last weekend, Preston was entered into hospice care, battling cancer and heart problems. Buoyed by several friends in the poker community, including his old “road gambler” running mate Doyle Brunson, Preston seemed to improve over the past week. The announcement of his passing was provided to poker player Scott Clark, who also stated that full details regarding the passing of a poker legend would come later today from the family.

Born Thomas Austin Preston, Jr., in Arkansas in 1928, the man who would become “Amarillo Slim” was known for his propensity to make outlandish prop bets as well as his tremendous skills on the felt. Joining up with Brunson and another former World Champion-to-be, Brian “Sailor” Roberts, the trio would tour the Southwest as the original Texas “road gamblers,” traveling to poker games to make a living. Although the trio would eventually break up their partnership (after they lost their bankroll in Las Vegas, a story told by Brunson in several arenas), they would continue to remain friends and earn their legends during the early years of the World Series of Poker.

“Amarillo Slim” first earned attention during the 1972 WSOP Main Event, taking down the championship for his first ever bracelet. He was able to parlay that victory into a celebrity status, appearing on talk shows including The Tonight Show and movies to promote the game of poker. He would also continue to excel on the tables, taking three more WSOP bracelets, with his last victory coming in 1990 in a $5000 Pot Limit Omaha tournament.

Preston was also very influential in other poker endeavors. He was responsible for several poker books, including Amarillo Slim’s Play Poker To Win. One of his most popular literary efforts was his autobiography, Amarillo Slim In A World Full Of Fat People, which he detailed his career on the tables and with his prop bets. As recently as 2007, Preston released an e-book co-written with Joe Brent Riley.

“Amarillo Slim” also played host to the Super Bowl of Poker which, at the time, was one of the biggest tournaments around until it cancellation in 1991. That tournament was won by actor/poker player Gabe Kaplan on one occasion and accounted for three of poker legend Stu Ungar’s ten career victories.

Over the span of his tournament poker career, Preston was able to cash in tournaments around the world. On the WSOP stage, “Amarillo Slim” was able to cash eleven times, with his most recent cash coming in 2007 in the Seniors Event, and was still racking up those cashes as late as 2009, when he finished in fourth place in an event on the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza schedule. Overall, the career earnings for Preston may not be impressive ($587,568, according to the Hendon Mob database), but his overall impact on the game of poker might arguably only be rivaled by Chris Moneymaker’s historic 2003 WSOP Championship victory.

Comments regarding Preston’s passing have poured in across social media. Poker pro Bernard Lee simply stated, “RIP Amarillo Slim, one of the first poker superstars,” over his Twitter feed. Brunson himself recounted a story on his personal blog of a robbery the twosome had gone through in the early 1960s, while others paused for a moment in memory of one of poker’s all-time greats.

Poker News Daily would like to pass along our condolences to the Preston family during this saddening time.

UPDATE: The Preston family has released a statement through Nolan Dalla, the Media Director for the WSOP, stating the following:

“We hope everyone will remember our beloved Amarillo Slim for all the positive things he did for poker and to popularize his favorite game – Texas Hold’em.” (Poker News Daily)


The Avengers versus The X-Men...

In the late '60s, the legendary comic artist Neal Adams was lured by the irrepressible Stan Lee to reinterpret the Marvel comic of his choice.

He chose the then least-successful comic, The X-Men, which the company was phasing out. Lee's response, according to Adams: "Why don't you do the last two X-Men and then do an important book like The Avengers?"

"I actually did 10 issues," Adams says. "It was after those 10 issues that everybody and their brother became fans of The X-Men and every new artist wanted to do The X-Men."

In 2012, the "important" comic finally gets its own movie, with The Avengers finally hitting the screen (after a warmup that included two Iron Man movies, two Hulks, Captain America and Thor). The erstwhile expendible X-Men franchise, meanwhile, will flex its muscles again next summer when Hugh Jackman dons his adamantium claws for The Wolverine. And, not to miss a marketing opportunity, Marvel released an Avengers Vs. X-Men comic book series last month.

Herewith, a thumbnail comparison of the two Marvel franchises on film.

THE AVENGERS

Born: September 1963 in Avengers Comics #1.

Original Members: Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp

Related Movies This Century: Seven (The Avengers, Two Iron Mans, Hulk, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America)

Domestic Box Office: $1.26 billion (source: Box Office Mojo)

You Don't Want To Make Him Angry: Hulk

Boy Scout: Captain America

Fanboys Drool Over: Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

Brains Behind The Operation (Onscreen): Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)

Brains Behind The Operation (Real life): Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly)

Oscar Cred: Gwyneth Paltrow (won), Robert Downey Jr. (nominated twice), Mark Ruffalo (nominated), Jeremy Renner (nominated twice), Samuel L. Jackson (nominated)

Evil British Actor: Tom Hiddleston as Loki

Best Cameo By Marvel Founder Stan Lee: Tony Stark mistakes him for Hugh Hefner on a red carpet in Iron Man

THE X-MEN

Born: September 1963 in X-Men Comics #1

Original Members: Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Beast and Iceman

Related Movies This Century: Five (X-Men, X-Men 2: X-Men United, X-Men 3: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class)

Domestic Box Office: $932 million (source: Box Office Mojo)

You Don't Want To Make Him Angry: Wolverine

Boy Scout: Cyclops

Fanboys Drool Over: Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, Rebecca Romijn as Mystique

Brains Behind The Operation (Onscreen): Prof. Xavier (Patrick Stewart)

Brains Behind The Operation (Real life): Bryan Singer (first two movies).

Oscar Cred: Halle Berry (won), Anna Paquin (won), Ian McKellen (nominated twice), Ellen Page (nominated), Hugh Jackman (hosted), Jennifer Lawrence (nominated)

Evil British Actor: Ian McKellen as Magneto

Best Cameo By Marvel Founder Stan Lee: Hot dog vendor in X-Men; old man watering his lawn in The Last Stand.


Avengers does well at Aussie box office...

The hugely anticipated mega-blockbuster The Avengers has wreaked havoc at the Australian box office, breaking $6 million on the film's Anzac Day opening.

It puts the 3-D action flick at No.2 on the list of all-time best Australian box office openings behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which took $7 million on its first day in July last year.

The Joss Whedon-directed superhero mash-up is now on track to fly past The Hunger Games to be the year’s biggest box office smash.

The Avengers, which features Australian Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, is the latest in a long line of superhero films to come out of the Marvel comics stable.

However, its one day figure easily surpasses the combined individual opening days of each of the the studio's movies — Iron Man 2, which took $1.813 million in 2010, last year's Thor ($1.3million) and Captain America: The First Avenger ($0.86million) and 2008's The Incredible Hulk ($0.37million) for a total of $4.357 million.

It also represents the best opening day for Disney Studios, taking the number one position from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe ($3.5 million).

The film's performance is remarkable given that Anzac Day trading restrictions in Queensland and Victoria meant cinemas could not open until after 1.30pm. And WA is contributing a large proportion of the takings, with Innaloo the third top Event Cinemas location in the country behind Sydney’s George Street multiplex.

Event Cinemas WA area manager Stephen Lamb said Gold Class sessions were sold out weeks in advance and the fight for seats was at Boxing Day levels.

WA Hoyts marketing co-ordinator Alex Biddle also reported bumper sales: "Hoyts Cinemas across WA saw their Xtremescreen and IMAX cinemas teeming with enthusiastic cinemagoers" while Ace Cinemas marketing and promotions manager Karen Smith added: "This film has certainly pumped up our box office and engergised the cinema viewers' batteries."

Senior vice president and managing director of The Walt Disney Company John Cracknell said the success of The Avengers was testament to "fabulous storytelling with a blockbuster cast and world-renowned director".

Whedon is best known as the creator of the cult television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel.

He co-wrote and produced the horror film The Cabin in the Woods, which is due for release in Australia in July. (The West Australian)


Heroic effort as The Avengers tops box office...

Marvel's long-awaited and much-hyped all-in superhero pic The Avengers has recorded the second-highest local one-day haul in history, taking just over $6 million on Anzac Day.

With Joss Whedon at the helm and a budget of around $US220 million, expectations for the film are high, and its Australian result is bound to settle a few nerves ahead of the film's US opening on May 2.

For the record, the film with the highest one-day opening in Australia is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which took $7.092 million on July 13, 2011. But The Avengers pipped it in per-screen terms, taking an average of $9668 on each of its 621 screens, versus Harry's average of $9716 across 730 screens.

Of the top 10 opening days, the best per-screen average remains the $12,336 recorded by Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on 424 screens on December 26, 2002. Adjusted for inflation, that is the equivalent of roughly $16,000 per screen today.

It doesn't have the clout or the saturation exposure of The Avengers, but the week's second-placed film made a very solid bow. The Lucky One is Australian director Scott Hicks' adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' (The Notebook) novel, and it proved something of a lucky charm for him, taking $3.59 million with the week’s best per-screen average of $14,027.

The weepy about an Iraq war veteran (Zac Effron) who goes in search of the woman he thinks magically saved his life also opened strongly in the US, recouping its estimated $US25 million budget in a week. It was a strong start for the Shine director's first film since 2009's The Boys Are Back.

At No. 3 was Battleship, sailing on with $3 million in its second week and a total of $8.4 million.

The Hunger Games did $2.16 million in its fifth week, taking its total to $29.12.
Fleshing out the top five is American Pie: Reunion, which took $2.1 million in its third week for a total of $13.42 million.

Australian Box Office (April 19-25)

1. The Avengers (M) - $6,003,882
2. The Lucky One (M) - $3,586,273
3. Battleship (M) - $3,020,666 ($8,420,129 after 2 weeks)
4. The Hunger Games (M) - $2,160,941 ($29,117,930 after 5 weeks)
5. American Pie: Reunion (MA15+) - $2,152,882 ($13,428,159 after 3 weeks)
6. Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (G) - $2,097,817 ($15,110,737 after 4 weeks)
7. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG) - $1,892,057 ($17,228,059 after 5 weeks)
8. Titanic 3D (M) - $1,402,489 ($6,493,694 after 3 weeks)
9. Pirates! Band Of Misfits (G) - $1,241,266 ($5,963,905 after 3 weeks)
10. Mirror Mirror (PG) - $863,978 ($5,939,508 after 4 weeks)
Source: Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (Fairfax Media)


Out of the picture for Melbourne films...

Melbourne's major film studio has called on the Federal Government to ramp up its support for international flicks shot locally.

Major overseas productions have shunned Docklands Studios Melbourne since 2010’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, as the high Aussie dollar has eroded competitiveness.

Studio chief executive Rod Allan has responded by lobbying the government to increase its location offset rebate from 16.5 per cent of what film productions spend in Australia to 30 per cent, to entice more acclaimed directors, actors and producers to our shores.

Mr Allan said he was hopeful of an announcement to this effect in next week’s Federal Budget.

But a spokeswoman for Arts Minister Simon Crean, Angela Dorizas, did not commit to any increased support when contacted by Leader last week.

Ms Dorizas said the government’s backing for the sector, including the 16.5 per cent offset, was at record levels.

She said the upcoming Hugh Jackman blockbuster The Wolverine would be shot in Sydney - thanks to a one-off payment of $12.8 million to bring it to Australia - leading to investment of $80 million and 2000 Australian jobs.

Despite the recent lack of international interest in Melbourne, Mr Allan said Docklands Studios was busy with television productions and a feature film - I, Frankenstein, starring Bill Nighy and Aaron Eckhart - which qualified as local due to a large contingent of Australians on the team.

“This year has been good. At one point every available space was hired, but the business is naturally cyclical,” Mr Allan said.

Established in 2004 and run by the State Government, Docklands Studios hires out five giant soundstages.

Major international productions filmed there include Ghost Rider, starring Nicolas Cage, and the Steven Spielberg-produced US TV series The Pacific.

TV productions now using the space include Winners and Losers and Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation.

The state’s peak film body, Film Victoria, did not respond before deadline.


Olympics security: surface-to-air missiles could be stationed on the rooftop of apartment block...

Surface-to-air missiles could be stationed on the rooftop of an apartment block in east London as part of Britain's air defences for the Olympics, the country's military confirmed on Sunday.

About 700 people living at the building in Bow - about 3.2 kilometres from London's Olympic Stadium - have been contacted and warned that the weapons and about 10 troops are likely to be based at the site for about two months.

In a leaflet sent to residents, the ministry said the venue offered an uncluttered "view of the surrounding areas and the entire sky above the Olympic park".

Troops plan to conduct tests next week at the building, an upmarket gated apartment complex, to determine if the high velocity surface-to-air missiles will be stationed on a water tower attached to the site's roof.

Britain has previously confirmed that up to 13,500 troops are being deployed on land, at sea and in the air to help protect the Olympics alongside police and security guards.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has said Typhoon fighter jets, helicopters, two warships and bomb disposal experts will also be on duty as part of the security operation.

"As announced before Christmas, ground-based air defence systems could be deployed as part of a multilayered air security plan for the Olympics, including fast jets and helicopters, which will protect the skies over London during the games," the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

"Based on military advice we have identified a number of sites and, alongside colleagues from the Metropolitan Police, are talking to local authorities and relevant landowners to help minimise the impact of any temporary deployments."

However, the ministry insisted that "no final decision on whether or not to deploy ground-based air defence systems for the games has been taken".

Resident Brian Whelan said those who lived at the site were wary about the plan.

"From the few people I've spoken to, and the security we have here, they're not happy about it," he said. "I don't think it needs to be here at all."

The leaflet insisted there would be no hazard to those living in the building.

It said the missile system would be "only authorised for active use following specific orders from the highest levels of government in response to a confirmed and extreme security threat". (AP)


Paul Orndorff Slams Bret Hart, Warrior, Ric Flair & More...

"Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff was a guest on Inside The Ropes' 15th episode, where he talked about several topics and slammed a few legendary wrestlers. His interview stars 42 minutes, 20 seconds in.

On facing Ric Flair for the NWA World Title in 1982: "He was just another body. Some are better than others. I believed in making it look real. I was probably hard to work with because I wanted it to make real and I knew how to wrestle."

On working the first Wrestlemania in the main event: "It was special. There were so many people. It was the largest crowd to ever watch it. And then the pay per view of it was just ungodly. This was my opportunity to be really noticed and be seen. My paycheck….it was huge. I made more money in that 30 minutes than I did in a whole year with the NWA. People expected it and they were gonna get it from me."

On working with Mr. T: "I wasn't crazy about it. I was very protective WrestleMania 1of the business. I was taught that. You take care of it. You don't give out all your trade secrets. But then again you look at somebody like Ric Flair and you can say how can you hide something when they look like that? So I guess I started to give in a little bit."

On the transition in WWF from wrestling to entertainment in the 1980s: "It depends on your personality. I protected it. To me that wasn't protecting it. As you can see right now, because they didn't protect it, where it is now, there's only two shows now. Look how many there was, there was one in every state, now look where it is."

On Vince using bigger guys like Warrior: "I thought it was the worst move they could've made. Vince did it on purpose. He did it so he could be the only one."

On Warrior: "He never paid his dues. You gotta pay your dues, go and learn your trade that'll make it better when you are on that big stage. It's called experience and nobody has any now, because there's nowhere to go to get it."

On giving the belt to smaller stars like Savage and Bret: "No. Absolutely not. It's like putting the belt on someone who wants to be a wrestler. It didn't work. It downgraded, made the belt worthless. When Terry Funk, Harley Race had world titles, it meant more."

On the rumor that Hogan wouldn't drop the belt to Bret in 1993: "I don't blame him. I wouldn't have either. Bret Hart was a nobody from Canada and Hogan was the greatest star in wrestling. I don't blame him. He did the right thing."

He also gave some quick fire thoughts on several wrestlers:
-Ultimate Warrior: "I gotta go to the bathroom………………..NEXT!"
-Vince McMahon: "One of a kind."
-Hulk Hogan: "Great."
-Bret Hart: "I don't care much for Canadians."
-Randy Savage: "OK."
-Ric Flair: "A Joke."


WWE News: Big WWE Network updates - no timetable for launch, McMahon addresses current standing & challenges, will PPVs move to Network?, specific shows in the works...

WWE remains unsure when a proposed WWE Network will launch and what form the Network will take.

During the annual shareholders meeting Friday, WWE executives fielded numerous questions related to the Network. Near the end of the Q&A, WWE CEO Vince McMahon was finally asked point-blank when the Network will be launching.

"That's a really good question," McMahon replied. McMahon then repeated WWE's stance that they want to make sure they "do it right" by exploring all of their options with a traditional cable TV model versus a hybrid model incorporating newer media.

Specifically related to when the decision will be made, McMahon said, "An announcement is forthcoming." After a pause, McMahon said, "In other words, I don't have that answer."

McMahon suggested earlier in the meeting that WWE could launch a cable-specific Network right now, but the volatility of the market and "times being different now" makes them more cautious to continue looking into other Network options.

"We're close to closing - if we wish - a linear network. We can do that," McMahon said. "We can also look at other opportunities at the same time that might be better for us, but, then again, it might not be."

One investor offered three proposed alternatives to a traditional cable TV network that included a suggestion for PPV event distribution through GFL.TV, a YouTube model alternative, and an a la carte offering online.

WWE CFO George Barrios replied that their research shows TV viewing behavior is still ahead of online/new-model consumption by a ratio of 5:1 hours. He said consumers may supplement their TV viewing on smart phones and other devices, but they still watch TV at a high rate, which is why they continue to pursue a traditional cable TV network model.

-- Another major aspect of the Network discussion centered on whether PPV events will be offered on the Network, as has been rumored over the past year. McMahon was vague in response, saying, the Network policy "may or may not include PPVs." He added, "It's certainly a factor we're considering."

The topic was also looked at from a different angle when a shareholder asked about offering current PPV events in a season pass form to curtail lower PPV buys for non-WrestleMania events. McMahon said, "That's a possibility," before noting PPVs could be part of the Network package. However, the key for WWE would be knowing when to pull the trigger on changing the PPV model and whether it's feasible to include PPVs on the Network.

-- Some of the key phrasing WWE used was their belief that they can drive the current WWE audience to a Network and that there is strong demand for more WWE content, which would be made available through a Network. "Give audience more of what they want," McMahon said. WWE did not provide supporting evidence for their belief that there is more demand for more content, though.

-- Asked of WWE Classics-on-Demand will go away when the Network launches, McMahon said it most likely will. Earlier in the meeting, WWE management stressed they are creating new shows based on their tape library.

-- Two shows WWE stressed for the Network were a show based on the Monday Night Wars and a WWE Countdown show, which WWE is currently pushing in new DVD releases.

Link: WWE's full shareholders meeting can be viewed at this link from WWE Corporate (Pro Wrestling Torch)


HULK HOGAN Take My Naked Ass Off the Internet!!!...

Hulk Hogan is freaking OUT over screengrabs of his alleged sex tape that have leaked onto the Internet -- and now, the wrestling legend's taking legal action ... sending in his lawyer to clean up the XXX mess.

The black-and-white pics -- which appear to show a naked Hulk doing the nasty with an unidentified female -- surfaced on TheDirty.com last week ... and more pics followed.

But Hulk isn't taking the affront on his knees -- unlike a certain unidentified female -- in fact, his lawyer just fired off a cease and desist letter to TheDirty.com editor Nik Richie, demanding Nik take down the pics forthwith ... or face a lawsuit.

The lawyer writes, "As you know, should a sex tape or photographs of Mr. Bollea exist, they were taken without his consent and therefore the same would constitute a felony in the State of Florida."

We're told Nik and TheDirty.com have no plans to remove the pictures in question. Stay tuned ... (TMZ)


Lakshmi Mittal retains tag as richest man in Britain, tops Sunday Times Rich list...

LONDON: It's not a good year to be in metals,mining or owning football clubs. Lakshmi Mittal, who still retains his tag as the richest man in Britain, topping the annual Sunday Times Rich list, is GBP4.8 billion poorer than he was last year, with his wealth estimated at GBP12.7bn - the main reason, a Eurozone crisis that has eroded the share price of Arcelor Mittal.

Anil Agarwal, Vedanta's promoter, has seen his position dropping from 12th place to 26, thanks, again to dropping share prices that's seen his wealth erode by GBP1.5 bn. Ravi Ruia, who entered the list last year at number 12, has also seen his share price bomb, and in 2012 clocks in at 33, with his wealth almost halved by GBP2.9 bn to GBP 2 bn. The newspaper noted that Essar Global, which was valued around GBP 5.4 bn in 2010 when it floated, is now valued at GBP 1.6 bn.

The only Indians who have seen their position going up are Sri and Gopichand Hinduja, who last hit the headlines for buying a palatial mansion at Carlton Terrace, within a stone's throw of Buckingham Palace in Pall Mall, who are now estimated to be worth GBP8.6bn, up by GBP 2.6 bn from last year. It puts them at the 4th place in the top 1000 rich list.

Anurag Dikshit, the reclusive, Gibralter-based former owner of poker site Partygaming, makes it to the number 3 in the top philanthropy list in 2012, with recent donation of GBP 23.4 million to his charitable trust in India, Kusuma, in addition to the GBp 172 million he gave away last year, reducing his personal wealth to a mere GBP 35 million.

In the top 50, another Indian who's seen he's position rise is Ajay Kalsi, of AIMS-listed Indus Ind Gas, who at number 42 has significantly crawled up the ladder from number 58. The newspaper attributed this to share prices holding up despite the recession.

Of the other top 3, though, Alisher Usmanov, the Russian mining tycoon best known for his recent acquisition of Arsenal football club, has also lost wealth, as has Roman Abramovich, the oil mogul best known for his ownership of Chelsea football club, has also lost money.


SkyCity holds winning hand, say Oz analysts...

SkyCity's controversial expansion plans have not dented its share price - nor the view taken of the business by three Australian-based professional investment experts.

Not only are analysts picking better fortunes for the gaming business, but their latest market research out this month on four ASX- and NZX-listed gaming industry businesses showed they had rethought the longer-term outlook for SkyCity's earnings.

They picked it as the best performer on a profit revision basis, piling on more money than the other three.

Shares are still rising despite the business suffering a backlash against its $350 million offer to build an international convention and exhibition centre in Auckland's Hobson St in return for Government permission to have more gaming machines.

The company, with a market capitalisation of $2.2 billion, is trading at $3.81, below its $4 two-year high but well above the $3.30 of last November.

Deutsche Bank Markets Research's Mark Wilson, Daniel Pi and Anthony Hanna revised up their SkyCity earnings estimate forecasts by 2 per cent, the highest for any of the Australasian stock exchange-listed gaming businesses.

Instead of making $145.4 million net after-tax profit in 2012, $150.7 million in 2013 and $164.9 million in 2014, SkyCity will make $145.8 million, $153.6 million and $168.1 million, they predict.

They advise investors not to sell, issuing a hold recommendation on the stock because they believe it has good potential - although they have not gone as far as issuing a buy, which they have on the giant Melbourne and Perth Crown.

Some of the risks and rewards of buying shares in SkyCity are major capital expenditure projects with the benefits the business has gained from recent main gaming floor refurbishments, they say.

Changes to the regulatory environment, movements in the New Zealand and Australian dollars and changes to the New Zealand economy, particularly household disposable incomes, are also singled out for mention.

Auckland accounted for 60 per cent of the group earnings, they said, exposing the business to booms and busts in one area.

"SkyCity's earnings are sensitive to movements in the Australian dollar given the translation of earnings from the Adelaide and Darwin casinos," said the analysts, who used various financial metrics to give a favourable review of the business, benchmarking it against gambling rivals Aristocrat, Crown and Tatts Group.

Crown owns and operates two of Australia's leading gaming and entertainment venues: Crown Entertainment Complex in Melbourne and the Burswood Entertainment Complex in Perth.

Aristocrat Leisure makes and sells gaming machines and supplies gaming systems, table gaming equipment and other services for casinos, clubs and hotels. Tatts provides leisure and entertainment products and services to the Australasian gambling industry and has investments in overseas businesses.

Nigel Morrison, SkyCity's chief executive, has wanted to expand Auckland because he says international gamblers, particularly from Asia, do a circuit of major Australasian casinos. (New Zealand Herald)


Bwin.party Commits to Teradata to Drive Single Customer and Operational View...

Online gaming and sports betting leader will use advanced data warehouse system to integrate its customer base, strengthen analytics and improve BI performance...

LONDON, April 24, 2012 -- Teradata (NYSE: TDC), the analytic data solutions company, has agreed to a deal with Bwin.party Digital Entertainment Plc, the world's largest listed online gaming company, to supply a new, high-performance enterprise data warehouse solution.

Based in Gibraltar and listed on the London Stock Exchange, Bwin.party is one of the largest online gaming operators. It was created in March 2011 through a merger Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG and PartyGaming Plc.

The agreement will see the Teradata Database and a Teradata integrated data warehouse platform implemented across Bwin.party's gaming and sports customer bases to create a single customer view across all gaming verticals. In turn, this will enable Bwin.party to segment its customer base and target marketing campaigns more effectively based on previous customer activity.

In addition to facilitating essential financial reporting across the joint organisation, the new integrated Teradata solution is expected to strengthen the data analytics used for essential campaign planning, reduce operating costs and contribute to an easier-to-use and maintain business intelligence environment.

"Data analytics are essential to our organisation," said Bwin.party's Group Technology Director Tod Martin. "We believe that the new Teradata solution will be extremely effective in consolidating data generated by our joint organisation, whilst providing the platform for better reporting analytics and insight."

Current planned developments include the provision of a more widely-available self-service Business Intelligence model across the wider organisation.

"We are delighted that Bwin.party has chosen the latest Teradata integrated data warehouse platform," added Teradata Corporation Area Vice President, UK, Chris Armitage. "The technology is well-placed to help drive business performance and consolidate key performance indicators across the organisation."

About Teradata Teradata Corporation (NYSE: TDC) is the world's leading analytic data solutions company, focused on integrated data warehousing, big data analytics, and business applications. Teradata's innovative products and services deliver data integration and business insight to empower organizations to make the best decisions possible and achieve competitive advantage. Visit teradata.com for details.

About Bwin.party Bwin.party digital entertainment plc (LSE: BPTY) is the world's largest listed online gaming company. The Company was formed from the merger of bwin Interactive Entertainment AG and PartyGaming Plc on 31 March 2011. Incorporated, licensed and regulated in Gibraltar, the Group also has online poker licences in France and Italy. With offices in Europe, India, Israel and the US the Group generated total pro forma revenue of euro 816.0m and pro forma Clean EBITDA of euro 199.3m in 2011. Bwin.party operates one of the world's largest online poker networks, www.PartyPoker.com and also owns the World Poker Tour. The Group's scale, proprietary poker software, online gaming platform and strong portfolio of games collectively differentiates its customer offer from those of its competitors. Bwin.party is a constituent member of the FTSE4Good Index Series, which identifies companies that meet globally recognised corporate responsibility standards.


bwin.party will go social in 2012...

bwin.party digital entertainment plans to launch into the social gaming sector this year.

Commenting on the company’s financial results for the full year 2011, co-CEOs Jim Ryan and Norbert Teufelberger said: “As integration projects are completed, we are channelling more resources into driving innovation across the business and through new channels including our proprietary mobile gaming platform. We are also extending our reach into new areas of digital entertainment such as social gaming, where we see significant potential.”

bwin.party reported a 0.2 per cent increase in total revenues to €816m for the year ended December 31, 2011, and it remains “on track to deliver approximately €40m of synergies this year and €65m in 2013." The growth in casino and games, as well as slight improvement in sports betting revenues, made up for a decline in its poker and bingo offering.

Looking ahead, Ryan and Teufelberger said they expect to gain competitive advantage this year from additional scale and improved flexibility, which will flow from the integration and migration of the company’s main products to a single technology platform. The company will also add more casino games and continue to improve its poker and bingo offerings.

They continued: “We have secured strong business partners in the US ahead of any regulation there and have also applied for a licence in Spain, which is expected to regulate in the second quarter of this year. In Germany, we have applied for a gaming licence in Schleswig-Holstein, the only EU-compliant licensing regime available.” (Intergame)

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