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Archive for January 15th, 2019

New Casinos Should Be Located Near State Border, Illinois Governor Says

The incoming Governor of Illinois believes expanded gambling could help the state mend an ailing budget and fund a capital bill

J.B. Pritzker, who is taking take an oath as the 43rd Governor of Illinois today, said during a Sunday interview for the Belleville News-Democrat that new casinos and expanded gaming could help the state improve its infrastructure and boost its ailing budget.

This is not the first time that the incoming Governor has indicated that he supports the idea of the addition of new casinos and new gambling options in Illinois. During his campaign last year, he said that sports betting was something the state should consider. He pointed to other states that legalized the practice following the US Supreme Court’s ruling that lifted a federal wagering ban, and that sports gambling proved “a revenue generator” in those states.

The politician said yesterday that “there certainly are opportunities […] to expand casino gaming” and expanded gaming would not be just about “revenue enhancements” but also about bringing “efficiencies to тхе state government.”

Asked on whether he agreed that there was cannibalization in Illinois’ gambling market, the incoming Governor said that there indeed has been “some cannibalization”, but that selecting the right locations for any new casinos was instrumental to the potential gaming expansion.

Casino Expansion Plans and Capital Bill

Mr. Pritzker said yesterday that “where you put a casino matters to how many dollars might flow” to places that have not seen dollars flow before. He further dwelt on that if casino expansion is approved by state legislators, gambling venues should be located in places near the state border to keep gambling money within Illinois.

According to the state’s new highest ranking official, new casinos could help fund a potential capital bill. Discussions for the introduction of the piece of legislation have begun last fall and Mr. Pritzker has been among the heavy campaigners supporting the move. The bill would fund construction and repair projects for what many have been referring to as the state’s crumbling infrastructure.

Illinois’ new Governor said yesterday that he would look to secure enough money for roads outside Chicago, Cook County, and the collar counties.

Casino expansion in the state has been a topic that has emerged during every legislative session in recent years. Under the most recent effort, a sweeping gambling overhaul bill would have allowed for the addition of up to six casinos around Illinois, including one in Chicago. The push failed to gain traction in the Legislature.

The city’s outgoing Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, revealed late last year that he would make one last push to bring a casino to the Windy City. The official has lobbied for a gambling venue for several years, seeking much-needed revenue for the city’s pension system.

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Hard Rock Ventures Into Japan with Guitar-Shaped Casino Resort

Hard Rock Japan, the local arm of Florida-based gaming and hospitality company Hard Rock International, presented last week details about its proposed integrated resort in the city of Tomakomai on the island of Hokkaido

Hard Rock International CEO and Chairman Jim Allen offered a glimpse into his company’s World-Class Entertainment Resort concept during the Integrated Resort Showcase that took place on Hokkaido last week.

Among other things, Hard Rock’s Japanese resort would feature a guitar-shaped hotel, a Four Seasons-branded resort, an event venue, Broadway-style theaters, spa and wellness facilities, and 215,000 square feet of retail and fine dining space. The property will also have a casino, although details about it are yet to be released.

Mr. Allen unveiled multiple partnerships his company has secured as part of its bid to enter the Japanese gaming and hospitality market. The executive said last week that Hard Rock has expanded its existing deal with the New York Yankees to bring the NYY Steak and overall New York Yankee experience to its proposed Japanese destination resort.

The Florida-based business has also partnered HPL Hotel and Resorts
to open a Four Seasons resort as part of the larger property.

Entertainment options at the Hard Rock resort would include a Rock’n’roll Hall of Fame that will aim to praise and popularize the musical accomplishments of Japanese, Asian, and global artists. Hard Rock has also joined forces with Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment to bring premier Broadway Theater experience to Hokkaido.

In addition, the recently revealed design of Hard Rock’s Japanese resort featured an “authentic Ainu village experience, designed to help raise awareness for the local indigenous Ainu people.”

Hard Rock’s Japanese Bid

Hard Rock is one of many major gambling and hospitality companies that have expressed interest in operating an integrated resort in Japan. The country legalized casino gambling not long ago, but is yet to open the bidding process for the three available gaming licenses.

Interested operators will be able to open casinos within larger integrated resorts. Under Japan’s recently adopted gambling laws, the gaming facilities will be allowed to occupy no more than 3% of the total area of the larger properties they will be part of.

The bidding process for the casino licenses is expected to be opened by the end of the year. Hard Rock will compete with the likes of MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands, Caesars Entertainment Corp., and Genting Group for coveted permission to venture into Japan’s nascent casino market.

Commenting on their plans, Mr. Allen said last week that they are extremely excited “about the prospect of introducing [their] Hard Rock family to the people of Hokkaido,” and that their planned resort would not only bring economic benefits but will also “act as a gateway” to Japan’s “wonderful heritage” and all it has to offer.

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PCA Main Event Day 2 Ends with 79 Survivors

Pierre Calamusa bags the largest chip stack after eight levels
of play on PCA Main Event Day 2, leads 79 hopefuls into Day 3

Day 2 of the PCA Main Event is now in the books, with just 79 players
still in the hunt
for the prestigious title and the accompanying
first-place prize of $1,567,100. With three more days to go, the
event’s field is poised to further diminish until a winner is crowned
on Wednesday, January 16.

PokerStars-branded Main Events usually enjoy quite some attention
from a perfect mix of both poker professionals and players who only
play occasionally
but never miss a good chance to test their skill
and luck.

The 2019 edition of the PCA Main Event was no exception to the above
trend. It drew 865 entries who generated a prize pool of $8,390,500.
There are prizes for the top 127 finishers, min-cashes starting from
$17,620, and action has developed well into the money bubble.

In fact, it burst last night, just after the dinner break. There were all-in confrontations at four tables at the Imperial Ballroom at Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, and the players at risk were Stanley Lee, Luc Greenwood, Kristen Bicknell, and Matt Glantz. Lee went out in 129th place and Greenwood became the unfortunate bubble boy, leaving the race in 128th place. Bicknell and Glantz were safe at the time, but they both exited later last night.

Pierre Calamusa Leads the Pack

Of the 330 players who entered Day 2 of the tournament, there were just 79 who made it through the eight levels played throughout the day. France’s Pierre Calamusa bagged and tagged the largest chip stack last night.

The player was not off to the greatest start of the Main Event as he had to shoot one bullet after busting early into the tournament. However, he gained quite some momentum yesterday to eventually collect 1.5 million after the end of the eighth level of the day and go into the night with a comfortable advantage over the remaining survivors.

Spain’s Vicent Bosca is Calamusa’s closest rival in the temporary chip counts chart. The player bagged 1.138 million last night. Italy’s Enrico Camosci collected 980,000 to round out top three of the leaderboard.

German high roller Christoph Vogelsang, poker pro and presenter Maria Ho, David Rheem, Ben Yu, and Matt Berkey are among the notables still in the race for the Main Event title.

Sam Greenwood, who took down this year’s PCA $100,000 Super High Roller on Saturday, is also still in contention. The player bagged more than $1.7 million for emerging victorious in the high roller event and hopped into the Main Event immediately, vying for another seven-figure payout.

Main Event action resumes today at noon local time at the host venue. Day 3 players will play until there are 16 of them left at the poker tables.

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Kazuo Okada Asks Philippine Stock Exchange to Block Manila Casino Owner’s Listing

The next chapter of the endless Kazuo Okada versus Universal Entertainment Corp saga involves the embattled Japanese tycoon trying to block the listing of the gaming giant’s Philippine arm on the local bourse

Japanese businessman Kazuo Okada is seeking to prevent the proposed listing of Tiger Resort Asia Ltd. on the Philippine Stock Exchange, arguing that parent company Universal does not have authority to proceed with that plan, Reuters reports.

Mr. Okada, who founded Universal, a major pachinko and other gaming equipment manufacturer, in the 1960s, has been engaged in a long and complex legal conflict with the company, its owner, and its affiliates for nearly two years now.

He was ousted as Chairman of Universal in the summer of 2017 and was accused of misappropriating millions of dollars during the time he was at the company’s helm. Mr. Okada has repeatedly denied those allegations and has been trying to regain control of the gaming giant and of its owner, Okada Holdings.

News emerged last year that Tiger Resort Asia Ltd. would acquire a majority stake in the Manila-listed Asiabest Group International Inc. to pave the way for its backdoor listing. Tiger Resort Asia is the owner of the $2.4-billion Okada Manila integrated resort.

Letter to the Stock Exchange

In a letter to the Philippine Stock Exchange dated January 11, Mr. Okada’s legal team said that “the backdoor listing is not authorized and is opposed by the casino magnate”, who is the true owner of controlling shares, and Chairman and Sole Director of Tiger Resort Asia and all Okada companies.

The letter went on that there was “a serious issue as to whether Fujimoto et. al. are legitimate directors/officers of Tiger”. Mr. Okada’s lawyers referred to Universal Entertainment’s President Jun Fujimoto.

Earlier this month, the Parañaque City Regional Trial Court Branch 257 issued an arrest order for Mr. Okada. The order was related to a legal battle between the businessman and Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment, one of Universal Entertainment’s Philippine subsidiaries. Tiger Resort sued Mr. Okada for improperly obtaining more than $3 million.

The casino tycoon dismissed those allegations, saying that he received the contested amount as salaries and fees for consultancy services during the time he was serving as CEO and Director of the company. Mr. Okada was ousted from his roles at Tiger Resort in the summer of 2017.

Last month, the Philippine Department of Justice issued a statement, in which it said that the businessman acquired the amount “through mistake or fraud” and that he should be charged on three counts of fraud.

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