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Archive for August 11th, 2018

Greece Launches International Tender for €8 Billion Casino Project after Sept. 10

After a huge delay on the ambitious €8 billion Hellinikon casino project, Greece will finally launch the international tender for a license this fall. The Hellenic Gaming Commission has now invited all interested parties to submit proposals regarding the plans for Europe’s first integrated casino resort.

Back in February, the Greek Council of State gave a final approval for the construction of a major casino and entertainment resort at the former site of the Ellinikon International Airport (also spelled Hellenikon). Slated to become the nation’s biggest coastal resort and first integrated casino resort in Europe, the €8 billion project is also a key term in the country’s international bailout. This caused unrelenting pressure for launching the development as soon as possible.

The project has faced several delays over the past few years, sparking heated disputes between its proponents and environmentalists and archaeologists. Greek authorities are now aiming at finding a casino operator by the end of the year so that construction work can finally start in early 2019. The Hellenic Gaming Commission, which is the local gambling regulator, is now inviting all stakeholders to submit comments and make proposals. This public consultation about the investment project will run through September 10.

According to the regulator, the international tender for a casino license will be opened for bidding soon after that. The concessionaire who wins the tender will operate the casino for a period of 30 years. It will be part of a much larger project expected to create up to 10,000 construction jobs during development, as well as more than 70,000 direct and indirect (from the increased economic activity) jobs during the first five years of operation.

The Largest Tourism & Gaming Destination in Greece

In an official announcement, the Hellenic Gaming Commission said that the future casino would be an essential part of the coastal resort, which will transform the economy and the lives of millions of people in the wider Athens area. When it opens its doors, the resort will be key to the future development of the tourism sector in Greece and is expected to revitalize the slowly recovering economy and reduce unemployment.

It will cover a wide, 600-hectare area and will have hotels and residential buildings, convention facilities, entertainment and concert venue, themed parks, luxury retail and fine dining outlets, as well as a casino. Likely to occupy one of the 45-story Hellenikon skyscrapers, the casino will spread across an area of 15,000 square meters, with the gaming floor planned to cover around 8,000 sq.m. The remaining area of the property is intended for non-gaming facilities.

So far, the only gaming operator to express some interest in the future casino on the Athenian Riviera is the US-based corporation Caesars Entertainment. The Las Vegas casino giant has eyed the Hellenikon casino as part of its expansion plans but still has not disclosed any details regarding its potential participation in the tender.

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Warren Sheaves Takes Down 2018 WSOP Global Casino Championship Title

After defeating Day 2 chip leader Jeremy Meacham in the final heads-up, Warren Sheaves took down the 2018 WSOP Global Casino Championship title on Thursday. With this win, the player from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, won a cash prize of $282,113 and the first WSOP Gold bracelet in his career.

Thursday was the final, third day of the prestigious event that marked the end of the 14th season of the World Series of Poker. This year’s Global Casino Championship was held at Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina and attracted a field of 127 entries. With a buy-in of $10,000, the event managed to offer a total prize pool of $1,050,000, which was split among the first twenty places, while the winner took home more than $280,000.

Day 3 of the championship saw only six finalists returning to the felt and Jeremy Sheaves, a little-known North Carolina poker player, had the second shortest stack of all. This did not stop him, however, as he dominated the final table throughout the game. Interestingly, Sheaves was the last player to register for the championship, coming almost in the last minute on Day 1. During the entire event, he displayed his positive attitude and sense of humor, laughing and joking the whole time.

With this title, Sheaves took his first ever WSOP Gold Bracelet and won $282,113, the best cash prize from a live tournament in his career. Although he has been on the US poker scene since 2007, he has not been particularly regular and has participated mostly in lower-stakes games. Until Thursday, his best cash was $28,160 when he finished 38th at the 2017 WSOP $1,500 NLH Millionaire Maker event in Las Vegas. With his latest win in his home state of North Carolina, Sheaves now has more than $666,000 in total live tournament earnings.

Final Table Action

Only six players reached the final table on Thursday, led by Jeremy Meacham who was slightly ahead of the rest with 1,460,000 in chips. The fourth stack, Arkadiy Tsinis was the first to leave the table (6th, $48,926) after Sheaves doubled up through him, and then, was eliminated by Kevin Stammen. Loni Hardwood was the next to go home, receiving $65,067 for the fifth place. Swiss Armin Stocker finished 4th ($88,463) after his Tens could not hold up against Sheaves’ pocket Jacks. Three runners-up remained in play for a few hours but eventually, Kevin Stammen was eliminated by Sheaves and took home a prize of $122,890.

A heated heads-up battle between Sheaves and Meacham followed as the two were almost evenly stacked. Although Meacham was seemingly controlling the situation, he eventually lost a good portion of his stack after an unsuccessful bluff. In the final hand, Meacham’s Queen-Seven lost from the Ace-Three of Sheaves, as the board showed Ace-Eight-Six, with Four on the turn and Jack on the river. The winner took the top cash prize and the WSOP Gold Bracelet, while for his second-place finish, Jeremy Meacham received $174,360.

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Man Who Cracked Roulette and Won Millions Dies at 86

Medical researcher Richard Jarecki who cracked roulette in the 1970s, winning millions of dollars in European casinos, died on July 25 at the age of 86. Taking advantage of flawed roulette wheels, he became legendary among gamblers and a threat to some of the most popular casino facilities in Monte Carlo, Italy, and Las Vegas.

The news of Jarecki’s passing was reported on Thursday and multiple stories of his successful runs across gaming facilities in the 1960s and 1970s began to resurface. According to the New York Times, the German-born university professor died on July 25 in his home in Manila from pneumonia. Richard Jarecki was born in Germany but he grew up in the United States where his family was forced to emigrate by the Nazi party in the 1930s. He studied at Duke University and then, at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. According to reports from the 1960s, this is where he started winning huge amounts of money on roulette.

During the early 1960s, Dr. Jarecki and his wife visited dozens of casinos across Europe and in the United States. He was well-known in Monte Carlo, as well as in the casinos in Divonne-les-Bains, France, Las Vegas and Baden-Baden, Germany. He was also a regular player at the Italian Riviera casino in San Remo, which generated serious losses during his playing sessions. His success on the roulette table encouraged other gamblers to place the same bets and as a result, casinos generated even larger losses.

It is believed that Jarecki was banned from several casinos and according to his wife’s account, Italian authorities managed to bar him from entering the country for several months. The Morning Herald cites San Remo casino’s managing director Robert Lardera who said that by 1969, Jarecki was considered “a menace to every casino in Europe”. His casino winnings were believed to exceed $1.2 million or more than $8 million in today’s money, which is an exceptional amount of money since roulette is a random game. Winning and losing should be a matter of pure chance.

How Did He Crack the Roulette?

While he was studying in his home country, Richard W. Jarecki realized that there had to be a way to successfully predict where the ball would land on the roulette wheel. According to news reports from the 1960s and 1970s, he explained that he managed to do that and win by developing a statistical model on a computer in the University of London. This was the official version meant for casino owners and employees, however, while the truth was very different.

It turns out that Jarecki was actually carefully observing roulette wheels for slight imperfections and collected large amounts of data on each roulette table before he started playing. After analyzing the entire information gathered by himself and his friends, he successfully exploited these flaws in the construction of the wheels and the tables, eventually turning the edge in his favor. These imperfections included manufacturing defects, scratches, wear and tear, unleveled gaming tables, and more.

While he successfully used this method to win at roulette, he did not invent it. In reality, this strategy was created much earlier, in the 19th century by English engineer Joseph Jagger. Known as “the man who broke the bank in Monte Carlo”, Jagger is the first person known to have used this system. Others have also exploited the mechanical flaws of roulette wheels, however. It was exactly what Richard Jarecki took advantage of – any mechanical flaws and wear and tear that result in a bias toward certain numbers. After observing the ball for a long time, he could predict with a high degree of certainty where the ball would fall next.

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Despite Positive Outlook for Macau, US-China Trade War May Impact Gambling Revenues

The International Monetary Fund expects Macau to become the richest place in the world by 2020, overtaking oil-rich Qatar as the jurisdiction with the highest GDP. Meanwhile, the trade war between China and the United States continues to escalate and some experts forecast a negative impact on gambling revenues in the special administrative region.

The ongoing trade dispute between the world’s two biggest trading countries is already slowing the economic growth of entire regions. After the introduction of 25% tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods by the current US administration last month, China responded with similar measures. This led to serious discussions within the Chinese government and the ruling party, while economists expect losses in stock prices, fluctuating markets, and overall uncertainty. At the same time, predictions about the future of Macau, China’s gambling hub, remain overwhelmingly positive, contrary to the escalating tensions right now.

On Thursday, Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On warned that the US-China war may reduce the number of tourists in the future. During a plenary session of the Legislative Assembly, the Chief Executive explained that the administration would be monitoring for a possible decrease in tourist numbers and in their purchasing power as a result of the trade war. According to him, there will be no great impact on casino revenues and the gambling industry in Macau as a whole.

Some experts, on the other hand, believe that the trade dispute will probably have a negative effect on the economic development of Macau, including on its gaming sector. Gaming scholar Davis Fong Ka Chio explains that the impact will not be felt until 2019. He told the Macau News Agency that the trade war between China and the US would hit Macau’s gaming revenues generated in 2019. The possible impact would likely show in figures late next year or even in 2020.

Macau Reports 2 Years of Consecutive Growth in July

July marked two years of consecutive revenue gain in Macau, the only Chinese territory where gambling is allowed. Compared to the same period last year, gambling revenues rose 10.3 percent in July, after even a larger growth of 12.5 percent in June. Casino revenues rose 22.49 billion patacas ($2.78 billion) in June, followed by earnings of 25.3 billion patacas ($3.14 billion) generated in July.

Compared to US’ gambling hub, Las Vegas, Macau’s casino market is much more successful, with a solid demand from both Chinese tourists and foreign VIP gamblers. Last year, the gaming win in the former Portuguese colony was $33 billion, or three times more than the figures for Nevada. Gambling is the most lucrative sector in both Macau and Las Vegas and it significantly affects their economies and their per-capita gross domestic product.

Recently, the International Monetary Fund published its World Economic Outlook Update, in which it ranks Qatar as the richest country in the world with a per-capita GDP of US$128,702. The second jurisdiction in the ranking is Macau with a $122,489 per capita GDP, followed by Luxembourg (GDP $110,870) and Singapore (GDP $98,014). By 2020, however, the IMF expects Macau to leapfrog to the first place, as its per capita GDP forecast to reach $143,116.

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