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Archive for September 4th, 2018

Gambling Debate Rekindled in Virginia as Group Proposes Casino in Bristol

The new owners of the vacated Bristol Mall in Bristol, Virginia are considering the opportunity to turn the site into a casino resort, local news outlet the Bristol Herald Courier reported over the weekend.

The reports were confirmed by Clyde Stacy, the head of the group that acquired the 450,000-square-foot facility earlier this year. They have hired public relations firm Alliance Group Ltd. to assume lobbying responsibilities for the proposed development of a casino within a larger resort-style property.

The vacant mall could thus be turned into a casino complex that, aside from its gambling options, will feature multiple other entertainment and food and beverage facilities. According to original projections, a property of this kind would attract 80% of its visitors from outside Virginia. In addition, it would create more than 2,000 “good paying” jobs.

It also seems that the casino proposal might get the nod from the City Council, despite concerns related to the gambling portion of the scheme. City Manager Randy Eads has told local media that they have been working with the group that now owns the Bristol Mall for the past three months. Mr. Eads further pointed out that he has received mostly positive feedback from City Council members.

The Bristol official said that all concerns voiced City Councilor will be discussed with the Bristol Mall owners so that they are alleviated and everyone in Southwest Virginia is offered the best possible experience out of the proposed project.

A Casino Venue Requires Legislative Amendments

While the proposed casino project might have gained some traction among members of the Bristol City Council, it might hit a roadblock in the Virginia General Assembly. Casino gambling is illegal in the state under its current laws. In addition, Virginia lawmakers have a long history of rejecting any proposals for a change in the current status quo.

Commenting on the proposed Bristol casino, Sen. Bill Carrico has told local media that the effort could indeed see quite some struggle in Richmond. The lawmaker further pointed out that he has long been among the opposers of the legalization of casino gambling in the state. He also said that he was rather skeptical any such effort would succeed this time around.

Mr. Eads, on the other hand, said he believed it was the right time for Virginia to join the casino mix as it has been too long that the state has been losing tax revenue to other states where Las Vegas-style gambling is legal.

Sen. Caricco pointed out that he preferred for residents of the area to decide whether they want a casino in their city or not. The effort thus could go to a referendum before the state Legislature has any say on it.

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Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation to Craft Chips for Seoul Casino

South Korea’s Minting and Security Printing Corporation has agreed to create new chips for Grand Korea Leisure, the state-run entity operating the Seven Luck casino in Seoul. The state-owned corporation is responsible for printing and minting banknotes and coins as well as government documents of different nature.

Seven Luck is one of South Korea’s foreigners-only casinos. As mentioned above, the property is located in the capital of the Asian country. Under a memorandum of understanding, penned earlier today, South Korea’s state mint will use its technology to craft new chips for the gambling venue.

The move comes in a bid for the casino to prevent forgery and the use of fake chips by patrons. Each casino owns its unique set of chips used by its players. However, there have been multiple incidents of players smuggling fake chips and trying to exchange those for real money.

Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation and Grand Korea Leisure said in today’s memorandum of understanding that the gaming facility’s new chips will incorporate innovative three-dimensional security technology and sensitive materials that would aim to prevent any attempts for forgery and other illegal activities from being carried out at the gaming floor. The state mint uses similar technology when crafting regular currency.

Previous Incidents of Fake Casino Chips

As mentioned above, there have been previous instances of customers attempting to use fake chips at one casino or another. South Korean casinos have, too, been targeted by such fraudulent acts. An incident that gained quite some international coverage involved an international crime ring that had developed a sophisticated scheme to cash millions out of fake casino chips at a local casino. The incident occurred early in 2008.

Police uncovered that the chips had been smuggled from China. Four South Korean nationals were arrested for trying to convert some of those chips into cash at the country’s Kangwon Land casino. Here it is important to note that despite the fact that South Korea is home to a number of land-based casinos, many of which part of larger integrated resorts, all of them but one are reserved for foreign players only. Nationals are only allowed to gamble at Kangwon Land and this has been the case for many years now.

The four arrested individuals were found to be part of an international crime gang. The chips they used were believed to have been manufactured in China. At a first glance they were quite the same as the authentic ones used at the casino, police found. However, upon closer examination, the fake chips were found to have been a bit lighter than the ones used by the casino. During its operation, police seized 3,700 chips, each of them of KRW1 million denomination. The attempted fraud was first spotted and reported by one of the cashiers at the casino.

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Poland’s Piotr Nurzynski Wins Record-Breaking EPT Barcelona Main Event

This year’s EPT Barcelona Main Event was one to remember. The tournament turned out to be the largest one Main Event ever played within the EPT series and was packed with action and poker thrill.

It was Poland’s Piotr Nurzynski who outmaneuvered the event’s 1,931-strong field. The player, who is a doctor by trade but has been roaming the world over the past two years, was the last man standing after a seven-hour finale that was played Sunday at Casino Barcelona. He collected €1,037,109 for his efforts and a Platinum Pass for the PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold’em Championship next year.

Six players returned to play the Main Event finale yesterday. There were seasoned poker players among them, including former EPT champ Ognyan Dimov, and there were newbies who were making their EPT debut. The Bulgarian won his first title three years ago in Deauville and was looking to join Victoria Coren Mitchell in the elite club of two-time EPT champions. It was not meant for Dimov this time as the player finished in third place last night, but not without putting up quite some fight over the course of action.

First things first, the final day of play kicked off with the absolute rookie – China’s Haoxiang Wang leading the final table. The player, who had one tournament cash prior to last night, lost some of his stack during the first hands of action to slide a bit, but then regained momentum. The first level of the day thus saw little change in the chip counts leaderboard and no eliminations.

Action sped up a bit during the next stage of play as the two short stacks at the time – Matthias Tikerpe from Estonia and Rodrigo Carmo from Portugal were eliminated in a somewhat quick succession. The first bagged €287,050 from the tournament, while the second collected €354,200.

Four-Way Deal

Play then slowed a bit again as none of the four players were willing to give up on the title and the hefty first-place prize that went along with it. Chips swung back and forth for a while, until Dimov offered a four-way deal. The other three players left agreed and a four-handed ICM chop was done.

Wang was the chip leader at the time, with Nurzynski coming in second place on the leaderboard. Under the deal, the young Chinese was to collect €1,023,701 and €857,109 would go to Nurzynsky. Dimov would collect €721,631 and Pedro Marques from Portugal would grab €698,369 from the tournament’s prize pool. The amount of €180,000 and the Platinum Pass was left aside for the champion.

The deal boosted action at the table and took off some of the pressure that had piled on the four finalists’ shoulders. Nurzynsky himself admitted that he felt calmer after the deal was struck.

Marques was eliminated shortly after and Dimov followed him a few hands later. This left it to Nurzynsky and Wang to determine the champion. And two-handed action proved to be a great show to watch. Nurzynsky was all serious and composed with his aviator sunglasses, while Wang was all smiles and bubbly throughout that final stage of the tournament.

The duel began with Wang holding nearly four times more chips than his final opponent. However, Nurzynsky managed to double not long after the start of heads-up. The Pole began building his stack into the chip lead and it did not take long before he emerged as the chip leader. The two players then held almost even stacks with Nurzynsky holding a slight advantage for a while.

Wang then retook the chip lead once again to lose it on the very next hand to retake it back again a couple of hands later. Chips went back and forth until the biggest pot of the day occurred and it went Nurzynsky’s way. The Polish player thus soared all the way up to 47 million, while Wang dropped to 10 million.

The much-anticipated final hand was dealt soon after. It saw Nurzynsky limp from the button with [Ac][9c] and Wang check with [Ks][2d]. The [6d][Kc][Ad] ran out on the flop. Wang bet 500,000 and Nurzynsky called. The [7c] landed on the turn to see Wang check. Nurzynsky kicked off the betting round with 2 million and Wang called immediately. The river came [4d] and Wang checked once again. Nurzynsky shoved after several seconds of thought, putting both himself and Wang in danger. Wang called after giving his move quite some thought.

The decision proved the wrong one for the young Chinese as he hit the rail in second place. However, he left the tournament as a millionaire. The two heads-up opponents parted with a hug and it was time for Nurzynsky to celebrate, wrapping up an extremely successful EPT Barcelona Main Event.

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Northern Marianas Casino Regulator Reports Progress in Saipan Resort Villas Construction

The Northern Marianas Casino Commission has asked Hong Kong-listed integrated resort developer Imperial Pacific International to fast-track the construction of luxury villas as part of its major development in the village of Garapan on the Saipan Island.

Casino Commission Chairman Juan Sablan and other officials from the regulator inspected the site of the hotel and casino complex property last week. Mr. Sablan told local media that there has been progress in the construction of the 15 villas that are planned to be added to the integrated resort, but there was still a lot of work to be done. The official further noted that IPI should take the necessary measures to speed up the process.

IPI, a Hong Kong-listed developer, holds the only license for the operation of a casino on Saipan. The company opened its gambling venue in 2015 as part of a larger development project that is yet to be completed.

Mr. Sablan told local media that the developer should introduce a 24-hour work schedule to ramp up construction activity at the site. He also explained that the delays in construction work were mainly due to the fact that Pacific Rim, the contractor working on the project, is yet to reach the necessary agreements with the IPI’s hotel and casino management.

Kathleen David, project manager at Pacific Rim, said that a contract is still being worked on. She further pointed out that they had only 40 personnel at present, mostly at management level.

The 15 villas were supposed to be completed by Friday, August 31. While the deadline was missed, other commissioners admitted that progress was being made.

IPI in Hot Water

Earlier in August, IPI asked for a two-year extension to complete the development of its resort after it became clear that it would miss its previously granted August 31 and December 31 deadlines. Northern Mariana gaming regulators issued an extension to February 21, 2021 for the hotel and casino project to be completed.

IPI has agreed to pay $5,000 for every day of delay and to donate $500,000 for new medical equipment for the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation, which runs the Northern Marianas’ only hospital. According to information from different media sources, the Northern Mariana Lottery Commission is still debating whether it should allow IPI to open already completed portions of its hotel and casino resort.

August was an eventful month for the Hong Kong-listed company as it issued a profit warning and later on announced that its profits for the six months ended June 30 slumped mainly due to uncollectable VIP gambling debts. IPI recorded gross profit earnings of nearly HK$2 million, down from HK$4.1 million reported for the same period a year ago.

The company offers direct credit to its VIP players instead of using junket operators. According to media reports, IPI had to write off $733 million in uncollectable gambling debts and nearly half of that amount was generated from 10 VIP patrons of its casino.

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