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Jeju Shinhwa World Casino Thrives Despite Chinese Boycott

The Jeju Shinhwa World integrated resort located on South Korea’s Jeju Island has raked in KRW369.4 billion (approximately $327.7 million) in revenue since its grand opening in February, local news outlets report. The property features one of the island’s nine casinos as well as a number of non-gambling options.

The reported figure places Jeju Shinhwa World well ahead of its local rivals. According to official data, Jeju Island’s other eight casinos generated the total amount of KRW136.5 billion during the same reviewed period. In addition, the Jeju Shinhwa World resort took in around five times more than South Korea’s biggest casino, Paradise City located in Incheon.

The Jeju Island-based resort was developed and is operated by Hong Kong-based real estate developer Landing International Development. The company commenced construction on what turned out to be a KRW2-trillion mega-scheme in 2014 and began opening the property in phases from April 2017. Aside from a gaming floor, the resort also features a hotel, a convention center, retail space, theme and water parks, a concert hall, and multiple food and beverage facilities.

Jeju Shinhwa World welcomed some 350,000 international visitors since it launched and around 115,000 played at its casinos, the resort has revealed.

Jeju Shinhwa World Shines amid Rivals’ Struggles

The Jeju Island has long been a popular hub for Chinese tourists. However, the island was among the places around South Korea to be hit the hardest last year by the economic cost of China’s unofficial but wide-ranging boycott of South Korean goods.

Among other things, Beijing banned group tours to Korea which saw the number of Mainland China visits to Jeju fall steeply. As a result, the island’s casinos, which relied heavily on Chinese VIP customers, experienced sharp declines in their gaming revenues.

Jeju Shinhwa World, on the other hand, appeared to have adopted a different model that eventually helped it mitigate the consequences of China’s ire. Instead of relying solely on Chinese customers, the resort stepped up its efforts to attract visitors from other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Serena Eng, Vice President of Marketing at the casino, said that they assembled teams that had to draw and cater to VIP guests from Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan and hired more staff that spoke Cantonese and Taiwanese Mandarin instead of relying solely on Beijing-style Mandarin-speaking staff members. That helped Jeju Shinhwa World reduce the proportion of its guests from China to just 50%, compared to up to 90% at other resorts across the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition, the resort’s casino paid special attention to VIP marketing as it derived 80% of its revenue namely from high roller players. The gaming floor at Jeju Shinhwa World currently features 165 gaming tables and half of these are dedicated to VIP players. In comparison, other resorts across the Jeju Island use just about 15% of their tables for high roller gaming action.

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Former WSOP Main Event Champ Ryan Riess Wins Big in Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood is definitely Ryan Riess’ lucky poker venue. The player recently scooped his third poker title at the casino after besting the 91-person field of the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open $10,000 One-Day event. Riess collected $236,838 for his performance and the tournament trophy.

The event took place on Monday at the host venue. As mentioned above, it drew 91 entrants who created a prize pool of $873,600 to absolutely smash the $500,000 guarantee. The event’s structure provided for fast and furious action at the poker tables. It featured 30-minute levels this year, a change from previous editions of the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open festival. The top 12 finishers received a share of the money, with min-cashes kicking off from $21,857.

Poker pro Aaron Mermelstein was the unfortunate bubble boy to bust out in 13th place. He was followed by James Calderaro whose twelfth-place finish secured him with the first payout of the tournament.

Notables who failed to make it into the money included Elio Fox, who topped the field of the SHRPO $50,000 Super High Roller just a couple of days ago, and WPT champ James Romero. Stephen Chidwick, Barry Hutter, and Ben Yu were among the tournament regulars to cash from the One-Day event, but failed to claim the title.

Final Stage of Play

The short levels allowed players to reach the final stages of the tournament quite quickly. It was not that long before Riess and Ray Qartomy were the last two players left in contention. Riess was the chip leader ahead of heads-up. He came on top the chip counts chart late into play to never look back. As for Qartomy, it can be said that he controlled action throughout the greater portion of the final table.

Instead of squaring off for the title, the two remaining finalists decided to strike a deal and split what had left of the prize pool based on their chip counts. Riess was thus crowned the tournament’s champion and collected the lion’s share of the prize pool, good for $236,838, while Qartomy scooped a $206,297 for his runner-up finish.

Riess has previously won two other tournaments at the same casino. Last April, the player took down the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown $10,000 Finale for a first-place prize of $716,088. And in the spring of 2015, he won a $2,200 No-Limit Hold’em tournament that was part of that year’s edition of the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown. His payout from that tournament totaled $63,891.

Despite his numerous successes on the live tournament felt, Riess is still best known for capturing the most coveted poker title on the planet – the WSOP Championship. The player won the Main Event in 2013 to collect a first-place prize of $8,361,570. Including his latest live tournament cash, Riess now has more than $12.2 million in live tournament earnings.

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SLS Hotel & Casino Owner to Take Over W Hotel at LUX Tower

SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino announced Wednesday that it will take over the W Las Vegas hotel which currently occupies one of the three hotel towers of the property. The resort, located on the northern end of the legendary Las Vegas Strip, is expected to assume control over the hotel facility on Friday.

The change will mark the departure of the W hotel brand from the Las Vegas Strip. In a statement released on Wednesday, the SLS said that all existing reservations beyond Friday, August 17, will be honored.

The move is part of a $100-million renovation the hotel and casino resort is currently undergoing after it was acquired by US Latino entrepreneur Alex Meruelo and his Meruelo Group in April. With its three towers, the SLS features a total of 1,616 rooms as well as gaming and entertainment portfolio.

The W Las Vegas itself has 289 rooms. It is located inside the LUX Tower and joined the vibrant Las Vegas hospitality only recently. The hotel was opened in 2016. Its rooms offer a bright and clean vibe with their white walls, furniture, and bedding, while its lobby features wall panels of old craps dice designed by popular firm AvroKO.

Renovation at the SLS

The SLS was originally opened as Sahara Hotel and Casino in 1952. The property was a favorite hangout for Frank Sinatra and other popular entertainers back in the day. It closed doors in 2011 to be reopened as a boutique resort in 2014. The Meruelo Group announced in May 2017 that it would purchase the property. The real estate company closed on the deal this past April.

It has recently emerged that the Meruelo Group was planning to rebrand the property as Grand Sahara Resort as part of the ongoing renovation. Company officials confirmed that a name change would indeed take place next year, but said that they were yet to decide on a final new name for the property and that Grand Sahara Resort was only a ‘working name’.

The Meruelo Group announced earlier this year that it would invest $100 million in the next several years to renovate different portions of the property. The renovation will include enhancements and refreshment of the gaming floor and the resort’s pool area as well as upgrades of the hotel rooms.

Mr. Meruelo has previously said that, among other things, the renovated and rebranded SLS will look to attract Spanish-speaking customers, as he believes that particular market is quite underdeveloped in Las Vegas. Mr. Meruelo himself is the son of Cuban immigrants. The entrepreneur owns several television and radio stations, some of which Spanish-language ones, across California and has pointed out that he would use his media outlets to promote his new hotel and casino operation.

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Ocean Resort Casino Installs New Logo to Distance from Revel’s Unfortunate Past

Ocean Resort Casino, one of the two new additions to Atlantic City’s legendary Boardwalk, has begun the installation of its new logo, The Press of Atlantic City reports. The new logo is set to be located on the south-facing side of the casino resort’s 57-story glazed building.

The first letter of the logo was installed late last week. The 42-foot-tall letters will be located under a 40-foot-tall spherical light.

The casino’s logo and the spherical light aim to distance the resort from its building’s previous occupant – the unfortunate Revel Casino Hotel, which closed doors after just over two years of operation without turning a profit. Revel used an illuminated orb to place its mark on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

Ocean Resort Casino was one of two casino resorts to open doors on June 28, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino being the other one. The property was launched after Colorado-based businessman Bruce Deifik bought it from its previous owner, Florida real estate developer Glenn Straub. Mr. Straub planned to reopen Revel himself, but missed several self-imposed deadlines for the property’s reopening and eventually decided to dispose of it. Mr. Deifik paid $200 million for the former Revel and invested another $200 million to open it as Ocean Resort Casino.

Sports Betting in Atlantic City

Ocean was Atlantic City’s second casino resort to launch sports betting following the legalization of the activity in New Jersey in mid-June. The Borgata was the first Boardwalk property to begin accepting sports bets, and aside from the two casino resorts, the Monmouth Park racetrack in Oceanport, too, launched sports betting in June. The three properties took in revenue of $3,458,668 and handle of $16,409,619 in June.

Two more properties opened sports books in July – Bally’s AC and the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford. According to official data from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, the five operational sports books generated gross gaming revenue of $7,289,808 and betting handle of $57,091,856 in the period between June 14, when the first betting operation was launched, and July 31.

In August, Resorts Casino Hotel in partnership with DraftKings launched New Jersey’s first Internet and mobile betting operation. The Boardwalk resort also held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its physical sports book this past Wednesday. One more Atlantic City casino launched a sports book yesterday. Golden Nugget held an opening ceremony for its facility an hour earlier.

The two properties became the fifth and sixth Atlantic City casino resorts to commence sports betting operations following the mid-May annulment of the long-standing federal ban on the provision of this type of gambling activity. The city currently has nine operational casinos and it is anticipated that all of them will jump on the sports betting bandwagon.

It recently became known that Hard Rock has partnered major British bookmaker bet365 to jointly run a betting service as part of its brand-new Atlantic City property’s offering.

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MGM Springfield Denied Request for Animated Parking Garage Sign

MGM Springfield’s request for an animated parking garage sign was denied by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission during a Tuesday meeting. Gaming commissioners voted 5-0 against the use of animations citing public safety and distracted driving concerns, local news outlet MassLive reported.

The parking garage sign will instead have rotating static images that will change every eight seconds. Gaming Commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said that commissioners agreed to reconsider the issue after three months.

The announcement comes less than ten days before MGM Springfield’s grand opening on August 24. The property, developed and operated by Las Vegas gaming and hospitality giant MGM Resorts International, will be Massachusetts’ first commercial resort with a casino floor.

MGM Springfield lodged its request for an animated sign back in March. The casino told state gaming regulators at the time that its third-party consultant, Watertown-based VHB, had assured it after evaluating multiple studies that there had not been a “statistically significant correlation” between “outdoor electronic signs and driver safety”.

It was last week when the casino resort had its sign installed and lit up on the seven-story parking garage, just below its marquee. It now features a message that reads “We’re ready to roar” referring to the upcoming opening of the property and to MGM’s signature Leo the Lion mascot. MGM Springfield had its version of the emblematic lion put up last week.

The hotel and casino resort occupies several blocks in the downtown-South End area of the city of Springfield. MGM invested $960 million in what would be Massachusetts’ first commercial casino. Aside from a gaming floor with table games and slot machines, the property will also feature a six-story hotel, multiple food and beverage and entertainment facilities, and a parking garage, which MGM announced recently will be free for visitors and guests of the resort.

No Smoking

MGM Springfield officials confirmed earlier this week that smoking will not be allowed on the casino floor. The property will thus become one of nearly 800 casinos across the nation that are smoke-free.

Under the Massachusetts’ gambling regulations, all gaming venues operating on the territory of the state must be smoke-free. The Plainridge Park Casino gaming hall, which opened doors in Plainville in the summer of 2015, does not allow smoking on its gaming floor under the same requirements. The Encore Boston Harbor integrated resort currently under development in the Greater Boston area will, too, prohibit smoking at its casino.

MGM said that its Springfield resort will feature outdoor areas that will be designated for smoking. The operator pointed out that while regional competition, driving distance, weather conditions, and socioeconomic factors might impact the performance of a casino quite negatively, smoking status was not a factor that they are concerned by.

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