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Archive for August 1st, 2018

Non-Gambling Investment Will Be Welcome on Boracay, President Duterte Spokesperson Says

New tourism projects would be welcome on Boracay when it opens after its six-month environmental cleanup, except casino resorts, a spokesperson for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said in series of comments on the matter over the past few days.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque further told media during recent briefings that no private entities should challenge the President’s ban on developing casino gambling businesses on the popular tourist hub.

Boracay is undergoing an environmental rehabilitation after a review by environmental authorities found that multiple businesses discharged untreated water into the sea, thus polluting the surrounding environment and threatening the health of locals and visitors. It also became known that there were a number of illegal structures on the island, which President Duterte threatened to blow up.

Boracay was closed in late April and is expected to reopen for business on October 26. It has become clear from previous comments made by President Duterte and members of various government departments that the island might still look to attract international tourism. However, casino gambling would not be allowed, as repeatedly pointed out by the country’s top official.

The casino gambling comments have been made in relation to a recently announced project for the development of an integrated resort with a gaming floor. The project was introduced by Macau casino and hospitality operator Galaxy Entertainment Group and its local partner Leisure & Resorts World Corporation (LRWC). The two companies announced late last year that they planned to build a $550-million resort on the island.

They received a provisional license from PAGCOR, the Philippine gambling regulator, earlier this year and acquired a 23-hectare site where the property will be built. Commenting on Boracay’s closure and how this would affect their project, a LRWC official said over the weekend that the resort remained on track for 2021 opening, despite the island’s ongoing environment cleanup and the fact that no groundbreaking date has been decided on.

Casino Gambling a Vice

As mentioned above, President Duterte has been staunchly opposed to Galaxy and LRWC’s project and has reiterated his determination to stop that one as well as any other casino resort construction plan on the island from materialization.

The President’s spokesperson said in series of comments from the past few days that the official does not like casinos as they promote gambling, which is a vice and “contrary to good morals.”

The latest comments could mean that Boracay would still be open to business and international tourism after its cleanup is completed, despite previous statements made by President Duterte that the island could be subjected to an agricultural reform that would aim to return land to its residents.

The President has said that the government would have to decide how to determine who owns what portion of Boracay’s land and to make sure that the distribution of land would be fair.

The post Non-Gambling Investment Will Be Welcome on Boracay, President Duterte Spokesperson Says appeared first on Casino News Daily.

Casino Operator Melco Gets Into Lucrative eSports Market with Dedicated Venue

Major gaming and hospitality company Melco Resorts & Entertainment is looking to tap into the exploding eSports market with today’s opening of its first eSports venue. The facility, branded Macau Estadium, is located at the company’s Studio City integrated resort.

The brand new eSports venue is the first of its kind in the popular casino gambling hub and will aim to attract a new generation of customers, as Melco, similarly to its rival integrated resort operators, is looking to diversify its revenue sources beyond casino-style gambling.

News about Melco’s plan to venture into the rapidly growing eSports market first emerged earlier this year, when the company itself revealed in its Q1 report that it would open a dedicated facility at Studio City by the end of the year. Launched in 2015, Studio City is located in the heart of the Cotai Strip, known to be Asia’s equivalent of the legendary Las Vegas Strip.

Reports emerged earlier this week that in an invitation on behalf of Macau Estadium, Melco has announced today’s opening of its new operation.

This is not the company’s first foray into eSports. Back in April, it partnered Singapore-based consumer Internet platform Garena for the eSports 2018 League of Legends Master Series (LMS) Spring Final. The event took place at Studio City before a live audience of more than 2,000 people. Last summer, the resort played host to an eSports-focused festival.

Macau Looks to Tap Into New, Non-Gambling Markets

Ben Lee, LMS eSports Manager at Garena, said back in April that China might account for more than a half of the global eSports viewership, with the majority being aged 30 or below. It is important to note that Macau has been seeking to attract that particular demographic as part of a larger diversification strategy that is hoped to reduce the special administrative region’s current heavy reliance on gambling revenue.

Following Mainland China’s crackdown on corruption, which had a massive negative impact on Macau’s casino revenue, city authorities called on the six companies holding licenses to operate casino gambling within larger resorts to introduce offering that would attract various, non-gambling, groups of visitors.

Melco and its rival operators have clearly begun looking at eSports as one of the products that could help them and Macau, as a whole, diversify their revenue streams.

According to Newzoo’s latest Global eSports Market Report, the eSports market was worth around $655 million last year and is poised to grow 38% this year to $906 million and to $1.65 billion by 2021. Newzoo’s report further says that China and North America will generate more than a half (around 56%) of global eSports revenue this year.

With the opening of Melco’s first eSports facility, other operators could follow suit and look to extend their operations into that relatively new but rapidly growing market. Several other casino resort owners have already hosted or sponsored eSports events in Macau.

Late last year, SJM Holdings’ Grand Lisboa Hotel was the title sponsor of the MDL Macau Dota2 International Elite Invitational event that took place at the University of Macau. The tournament featured nine teams and a prize pool of around $300,000 and was the first of that scale to take place in the popular gambling hub. Earlier in 2017, Studio City hosted the GIRLGAMER 2017 eSports Festival, while Broadway Macau played host to that year’s edition of the China eSports Carnival.

The post Casino Operator Melco Gets Into Lucrative eSports Market with Dedicated Venue appeared first on Casino News Daily.

Brian Soja Claims 2018 MSPT Iowa State Poker Championship Title

Brian Soja finally topped the field of the MSPT Iowa State Poker Championship at Meskwaki Casino in Tama after a couple of near-misses. The player outlasted a field of 455 entrants late last week to collect a top prize of $94,568 and the champion’s trophy.

The tournament took place from July 27 through July 29 and featured two starting flights and a second day of action. As many as 62 survivors returned at the host venue for Day 2 action. Of them, eight had to leave empty-handed as only the top 54 places got paid. Shaun Burnett became the unfortunate bubble boy or the last player to leave the Main Event empty-handed.

Once the money bubble burst and there were 54 players, everyone was looking to secure a seat into the ten-handed final table. Many notables failed in that, though, with some of those being four time WSOP Circuit gold ring winner Amrk Fink, former Run It Up Reno champion Blake Cavanagh, and eleventh-place WSOP Main Event finisher Ryan Phan, among others. Phan collected $725,000 for his recent deep run into this year’s edition of the $10,000 World Championship.

Final Table and Heads-Up

Players were nearly even when cards were thrown in the air for final table action. However, it did not take long before the first eliminations occurred. Several players left the table in quick succession. And several of them were eliminated namely by Soja. The eventual champ busted police sergeant Zac Campbell and then Alex Winter. Kipp Smith was also among the final tablists to fall victim to the player who would eventually claim the title and the accompanying first-place payout.

The elimination of Travis Sweet in third place set the heads-up duel between Soja and Kevin Berthelsen. Soja entered the match with a huge chip advantage over his final opponent and never relinquished that to take down the tournament.

On what turned out to be the last hand of the tournament, Berthelsen went all in with [Kd][5d] to Soja’s [Ad][4h]. The [Jc][3c][2s][4s][4c] arrived on the board to seal it for Soja. Berthelsen left the tournament with a consolation prize of $58,104 for his deep run.

Commenting on his performance in recent months, Soja said after his victory that he has had a good year so far, making his fourth or fifth final table appearance for the past seven months. Asked what he was planning to do with his first-place prize of a little less than $95,000, the player said that he and his wife were planning to retire in the next 15 years and that the money would probably go into their bank account to make sure that they would be able to accomplish that goal.

Soja is a father of two sons – Brady (13) and Beckett (5). The player praised the two boys as well as his wife, saying that he was really thankful she has been letting him play a game for money.

The post Brian Soja Claims 2018 MSPT Iowa State Poker Championship Title appeared first on Casino News Daily.

Trump Supreme Court Nominee Sided with Casinos to Foil Unionization Efforts

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who was nominated by US President Donald Trump for a seat on the Supreme Court earlier this month, was once a key figure in preventing unionization at one of President Trump’s Atlantic City casinos, Bloomberg reports.

The nation’s top official operated several casinos in Atlantic City back in the 1990s and 2000s. President Trump founded Trump Entertainment Resorts in 1995 to run the now shuttered Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino as well as Trump Taj Mahal (now operating as Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City) and the Trump Marina. Here it is important to note that President Trump has not been formally involved in the daily operations of the company and its properties since at least 2011.

In 2007, Trump Plaza became the subject of a dispute between owners and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The latter called for the hotel and casino resort to engage in unionization negotiations with the United Auto Workers (UAW).

During a UAW event with federal and state legislators, the union claimed that there was majority support for unionization at the casino. A vote took place shortly after and 324 of the property’s employees voted in favor of the move, while 149 cast a negative vote.

However, casino owners argued that the vote should be annulled as the extended coverage and UAW’s event influenced the vote. Under NLRB precedents, a vote could be declared invalid if preceded by actions that could have impacted the results. In that case, the NLRB maintained that neither the pre-vote event, nor any of its actions were biased.

Judge Kavanaugh’s Involvement in the Case

It was around 2010 when the case reached Judge Kavanaugh’s desk in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Trump Entertainment Resorts attorneys claimed that UAW’s pre-vote event was an “elaborate hoax” that eventually created a “bandwagon effect”. They further explained that workers did not vote against the proposed unionization because it seemed that pro-union workers were a majority.

In 2012, Judge Kavanaugh supported those arguments and told NLRB attorneys that arguing the pre-event had no effect on the vote defied common sense and that the Board had ignored “substantial circumstantial evidence”. The case is still open, although Trump Plaza was shuttered in 2014. The property is planned to be demolished later this year.

Bloomberg reports that the Trump Plaza case was not the only one when Judge Kavanaugh sided with a casino business instead of workers. In 2015, the Judge supported casino giant Las Vegas Sands, owned by business mogul and staunch Republican supporter/donor Sheldon Adelson, in a dispute that involved its The Venetian casino resort and the NLRB. The Supreme Court nominee upheld that the property had a First Amendment right to call the Las Vegas Police Department and request action against union protesters who trespassed on its private property.

The post Trump Supreme Court Nominee Sided with Casinos to Foil Unionization Efforts appeared first on Casino News Daily.

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