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Archive for January 9th, 2019

Okada Arrest Order Will Not Affect Manila Casino Resort’s Operations

Kazuo Okada arrest order will not impact Okada Manila’s operations and backdoor listing plans, Universal Entertainment says

Universal Entertainment Corp. is positive that the recently issued order for the arrest of founder Kazuo Okada will have no impact on the operations of the Okada Manila casino resort, the Japanese gaming company said in a Monday statement.

Universal Entertainment’s comments came in the wake of reports that the Parañaque City Regional Trial Court Branch 257 ordered the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to present Mr. Okada to court. The arrest order for the Japanese pachinko tycoon was issued on Friday and was made public on Sunday.

Mr. Okada founded Universal Entertainment more than five decades ago. The company is currently wholly owned by Okada Holdings. The Japanese businessman was ousted in the summer of 2017 as Director of Universal Entertainment’s parent company over allegations that he had misappropriated millions of dollars. Lawsuits against the embattled tycoon have kept piling since then, and he has in turn been suing the people he believes have conspired to dethrone him.

In the Philippines, Universal Entertainment owns Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment, the operator of the $2-plus-billion Okada Manila integrated resort. Tiger Resort has filed a lawsuit against Mr. Okada, arguing that he had defrauded the company out of $3.1 million while he was serving as CEO and board member. The Japanese businessman was ousted from the casino operator in 2017 as the scandal around him unfolded.

In December, the Philippine Department of Justice sided with Tiger Resort, saying that Mr. Okada had acquired the contested amount of money “through mistake or fraud” and should be charged. The businessman filed a motion later that month, arguing that he had obtained the money as salaries for serving as CEO of Tiger Resort and as a reward for his consultancy services to the casino company.

No Impact on Backdoor Listing Plan

In its statement from Monday, Universal Entertainment also pointed out that the ongoing legal battle between Mr. Okada and Tiger Resort would have no impact on the company’s plans to backdoor list Okada Manila through the acquisition of a listed company.

Tiger Resort has revealed plan to list its Philippine operation on the local Stock Exchange through the purchase of shares of Asiabest Group International Inc. The casino company will pay approximately PHP650 million to acquire shares in Asiabest through Tiger Resort Asia Limited.

Back in December, the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission ordered Tiger Resort Asia to file a revised tender offer for Asiabest that would include information about the ongoing dispute with Mr. Okada. The order was issued after a minority Asiabest shareholder had filed a complaint with SEC, arguing that Tiger Resort Asia should have disclosed information about the legal battle with the Japanese businessman and seeking cease and desist actions.

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Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino Unveils Plan for New Hotel Tower

Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino announces expansion project that will add a third hotel tower to the downtown Las Vegas property

Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino unveiled on Monday plans to add a third hotel tower as downtown Las Vegas has been capturing more and more visitors in recent years and demand for hotel rooms has been growing.

The property, which opened doors in 2013 in the heart of downtown Vegas, broke ground on Monday on its third hotel tower that will be located on its east side. It will feature seven guest-room floors and is slated to open doors in mid-2020.

The new building will add 495 rooms, bringing the resort’s total to 1,124. In addition to 405 standard rooms, the project also involves 67 studio units, 20 one-bedroom suites, and three presidential suites, a press release from Monday reads.

Commenting on Monday’s announcement, property General Manager Kevin Glass said that they are “advancing [their] progressive growth plan for the Downtown Grand development” as demand for hotel rooms has grown steadily since the property’s launch more than five years ago. The official did not provide information about the downtown Vegas resort’s occupancy rates.

No Information on Planned Investment

It should also be noted that property officials did not disclose how much the expansion project will cost. Commenting on the matter, CBRE’s John Knott told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that similar projects usually cost somewhere between $200,000 to $350,000 per room, which means that Downtown Grand could spend up to $175 million on the newest addition to its portfolio.

The announcement about the construction of a new hotel tower at the existing resort arrived just days before local businessmen Derek and Greg Stevens, who co-own The D Las Vegas and Golden Gate, are to reveal essential details about their massive downtown Las Vegas development project.

The developers received last summer approval from the Las Vegas City Council to build a hotel and casino resort on Fremont Street. The property will occupy a 1,224,485-square-foot site on the north side of the Fremont Street Experience, right across the Golden Gate casino.

It will feature 777 hotel rooms, a 117,740-square-foot casino, as well as a number of food and beverage and entertainment facilities. The future resort has been billed as the first one of this kind to be built from the ground up in downtown Vegas since 1975 when the $10-million, 325-room California Hotel opened doors.

Essential information about the property, including its name, has been kept under wraps for a while now. More details about the project will be revealed at a special unveiling event on Thursday, December 10, at the Events Center owned by the Stevens brothers.

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D.C. Council to Vote Tuesday on Sports Betting Bill Amendments

D.C. Council could vote today on bills that double license fees for sports betting and favor DC Lottery as the preferred provider of wagering services

The District of Columbia Council could vote today on a measure that aims to bring legalized sports betting to the city as quickly as possible by handing the DC Lottery the contract to provide wagering services on the territory of Washington.

The D.C. Council overwhelmingly backed last month a sports betting bill calling for the legalization of the practice within city limits. Under the bill, D.C.’s sports arenas and stadiums as well as local retailers would be able to obtain betting licenses. Approved licensees would be taxed at 10% on betting revenue under the recently approved legislation.

The bill also needs to be approved by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and to be reviewed by the Congress in order to come into effect. Legislative pieces normally have a 30-day review period during which they are either signed or vetoed by the Mayor. However, the Council passed the sports betting bill alongside an emergency measure, which means that the 30-day period does not apply and it is up to Mayor Bowser when and whether she would sign the legislation and the accompanying measure.

The secondary piece could be discussed during today’s meeting of the D.C. Council, according to multiple news outlets. It has also emerged that lawmakers have introduced amendments to the city’s sports betting legalization push that will, too, need to be approved before any further action toward the introduction of wagering is taken.

License Fees and DC Lottery Proposals

Under the original bill, interested sports betting operators were to pay a $250,000 license fee in order to be able to operate in the city. However, the newly introduced amendments propose for the fee to be doubled to $500,000 for licenses for the provision of sports betting at the city’s stadiums and to $100,000 for venues that are located outside exclusivity zones that were outlined in the original version of the bill.

In addition, amendments suggest that discounts be awarded to interested operators that form partnerships with local businesses.

The emergency piece is expected to be voted on during today’s meeting of the Council. Generally speaking, the measure contains provisions that favor the DC Lottery and its provider, Intralot. Under those provisions, Intralot could be allowed to bypass the bidding process for sports gambling and would instead be awarded a license as the preferred provider of this product.

The state purpose of the legislative piece reads:

To exempt, on an emergency basis, the initial procurement used in connection with the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018.

Under the original bill, sports betting would be allowed at physical facilities and through mobile apps. There have been proposals for the DC Lottery to be granted monopoly over the provision of digital betting.

Critics of the idea have said that allowing more operators to provide mobile wagering would be better for revenue. However, City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has said in a memo that the only way for sports betting to go live in D.C. this year would be if the DC Lottery is involved. Otherwise:

…the Office of Chief Financial Officer will have to go through a prolonged procurement process that could delay the implementation of sports wagering in the District by as many as three years.

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Farid Jattin Leads after PokerStars Players Championship Day 2

Colombia’s Farid Jattin is leading 215 survivors into Day 3 of the first-ever PokerStars Players Championship

It was a day of thrills and spills at Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas where the largest ever $25,000 buy-in tournament is currently taking place. It was quite clear that the event had smashed records by the end of Day 1, but once registration closed with the start of Day 2, organizers revealed the scope of this thrilling poker event and numbers were truly gobsmacking.

The inaugural PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) drew a total of 1,039 entrants, including 320 Platinum Pass winners. That created a prize pool of $26,455,500, including $1 million added by PokerStars for the winner.

The PSPC champion will walk away with $4.1 million plus that additional $1 million from the tournament’s organizer. Each of the six players that will reach the final table will receive a seven-figure payout. Minimum final table cash will be worth $1.012 million.

All in all, the top 181 finishers will leave with a payout from the tournament. Min-cashes start from $25,450 and go all the way up to the first-place prize.

Day 2 of the first-ever PSPC took place yesterday at the host venue. It saw more than 700 players return from Day 1. Another twenty-ish players took advantage of the late registration option and joined poker action directly on the second day of the tournament.

By the time all eight levels scheduled for the day were completed, there were just 215 players left in contention. They will return at the host casino today at noon local time to further reduce the record-breaking field.

Farid Jattin Takes Overnight Chip Lead

Colombia’s winningest tournament player Farid Jattin ended Day 2 action as the chip leader. The player bagged and tagged 921,000 worth in chips last night to secure himself with a comfortable start of the third day of action.

Jattin has nearly $3 million in total live tournament earnings. Last spring, the player finished runner-up to Almedin Imsirovic in the Borgata Spring Poker Open Main Event for his career’s largest cash of $243,521.

While Jattin may have taken the lead last night, he has some seasoned pros hot on his heels. Italian poker star Mustapha Kanit scooped the second largest stack at the end of PSPC’s second day, good for 888,000. The player was on the feature table throughout Day 1 where he was crushing opponents ruthlessly and was making the task look way too easy. Kanit kept his momentum throughout Day 2.

Canada’s Griffin Benger with 885,000, Frenchman Julien Martini with 832,000, and US player Athanasios Polychronopoulos with 797,000 are the other players to round out top five of the temporary leaderboard.

As mentioned earlier, PSPC action resumes today at noon local time at Atlantis Resort. The final 215 contenders will fight for a paid spot as the money bubble is expected to burst in the early levels of Day 3.

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