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Archive for January 17th, 2019

Group Mounts Opposition to Beloit Casino Proposal, Calls For Referendum

Ho-Chunk Nation casino proposal sees opposition from Beloit group as it awaits federal and state approval

A group of community members has mounted opposition to the proposed construction of a casino in the city of Beloit, Wisconsin. Concerned citizens held a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the project’s timeline and other issues, and suggested that community members be allowed to voice their opinion on the casino plan at a local referendum.

The 11th Hour Beloit Casino Group hosted the meeting as the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin is awaiting federal approval to build a $400-million hotel and casino resort along Interstate 90/39. The property would feature a gaming facility with 2,200 slot machines and 50 table games, a 300-room hotel, a water park, a convention center, food and beverage facilities, and a number of other amenities.

The Ho-Chunk Nation has said previously that it hopes it would be able to break ground on the resort late this year or in early 2020 and to launch the property in 2021.

As mentioned above, the 11th Hour Beloit Casino Group has voiced opposition to the plan and has suggested that Beloit citizens be given the chance to voice their opinion on whether they want a casino at a referendum.

Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther attended yesterday’s meeting. She told local media afterwards that there was a public process on the casino matter last February and that an open meeting was held at which no opponents came forward.

Ms. Curtis Luther went on to say that at the current stage of the game discussions of “an advisory referendum are not necessarily appropriate.”

Federal and State Approval

The Beloit casino plan needs federal and state approval in order for the Ho-Chunk Nation to be able to proceed with construction. The project has been in the making for more than a decade now, but it was only last August that it made first major step toward its eventual materialization.

The US Bureau of Indian Affairs announced last summer that it would review the casino resort proposal and its environmental and economic impact. In November, the agency published a draft of the findings from its review, but it is yet to announce its final decision.

Even if the Bureau gives the green light to the project, it will also need approval from Governor Tony Evers. Wisconsin’s top official has previously spoken in favor of the proposed casino resort.

According to early projections, the Ho-Chunk-operated hotel and casino complex will create 1,500 new jobs and will generate labor income of nearly $84 million. It is also expected to bring economic impact of more than $225 million to Rock County. The host city of Beloit will annually receive $3 million from the Ho-Chunk Nation for being allowed to provide its services in the region.

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Melco to Cease VIP Rolling Chip Operations at Macau Casino

Studio City to cease VIP rolling chip operations as owner Melco looks to diversify offering beyond gambling

Gaming and hospitality company Melco Resorts & Entertainment is set to cease VIP rolling chip operations at its Studio City casino resort from January 15, 2020. The company announced its plans in a Tuesday filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Studio City opened to the public in 2015. The property is located in Cotai, often referred to as the Macau equivalent of the legendary Las Vegas Strip.

Studio City did not feature VIP gaming tables at first. Melco CEO Lawrence Ho said at the time that the lack of those particular gambling options was a “business decision” that was related to the Macau government’s cap on the number of gaming tables that could be allocated to a new property. Melco had originally asked for a permission to add 400 gaming tables at its Studio City resort but was only allowed 250 tables by city officials.

The glitzy Cotai property operated without VIP gaming tables for a little over a year. In August 2016, Melco announced plans to add VIP tables at the resort and VIP operations eventually commenced at Studio City in November of that year.

The casino and hospitality giant did not provide further detail on why it has decided to cease VIP rolling chip operations and how exactly this would affect its high roller operations at Studio City in its Tuesday filing.


According to multiple brokerage firms, gross gaming revenue’s performance in Macau could slow down a bit during the first half of the year and its VIP gaming market will probably be affected at a higher rate than the mass market.

The Macau government has been promoting initiatives and has been encouraging the six casino concessionaires to diversify their offering and thus reduce the city’s reliance on gambling to avoid repetition of the recent unprecedented crisis the local casino market experienced. In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched a multi-pronged crackdown on corruption as a result from which high rollers from Mainland China withdrew from Macau, causing double-digit drops in gross gaming revenue in the gambling mecca.

Melco has been among the companies to adapt the quickest to the new landscape and to incorporate multiple non-gambling options into its Macau properties. eSports has been one of the areas the operator has been looking to diversify its offering into.

Last summer, Melco launched Macau Estadium, its first eSports arena, at Studio City. The 274-seat facility was also the first one of its kind to open doors in Macau. It is now host to major eSports tournaments and virtual gaming leagues and livestreams events that take place in different other parts of the world.

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Three-Time WPT Champ Chino Rheem Eyes PCA Main Event Title

Chino Rheem, a member of the elite club of three-time WPT champs, now eyes another poker summit to attain

He 865-strong starting field of the PCA $10,000 Main Event is now down to its final six players. The six finalists will square off for the title and the first-place prize of more than $1.5 million later today. Each of them is guaranteed a minimum cash of $297,020, but the top prize is certainly what they are all vying for.

Chino Rheem, a player with an already impressive poker portfolio, will lead the way into the final day of action. The US poker pro started off with 1.425 million on Tuesday at the host casino to build a solid chip stack of 7.55 million by the end of the day and to secure himself with a comfortable advantage and entry into the finale.

While it was Canadian Tommy Nguyen who entered the penultimate day of the Main Event as the chip leader, it was Rheem who dominated action yesterday. The player made the right calls, stepped up pressure where that was need and kept quiet when he had to. All the right moves and a little bit of luck rocketed him to the top of the temporary leaderboard.

Rheem was part of the first-ever WSOP Main Event November Nine. The player finished 7th in the 2008 edition of the prestigious tournament for a cash prize of $1.77 million. It is also important to note that he is one of few players to have won three World Poker Tour titles.

The Lucky Six

The final table of the 2019 PCA Main Event includes international presence and players of different levels of poker skill. Trailing behind Rheem in the chip counts chart is Canada’s Scott Wellenbach with 6.015 million in chips.

American poker pros Brian Altman and Daniel Strelitz bagged the third and fourth largest stacks last night, good for 4.995 million and 2.355 million, respectively.

Spain’s Vincent Bosca and Ukraine’s Pavel Veksler round out the final table. Bosca bagged and tagged 2.875 million last night, while Veksler put 2.035 million worth of chips in his bag. It can be said that the two players are the least known among the final six, but that certainly does not mean they lack the skills to outwit their more accomplished final tablists.

Bosca was actually the player to set the final table when he eliminated Mihai Manole, the first Platinum Pass winner into the PokerStars Players Championship. While he did not cash in the inaugural edition of the largest-ever $25,000 tournament, Manole scooped $208,920 for his seventh-place finish in the Main Event.

Notables who failed to reach the final table last night included German high roller Christoph Vogelsang, start-of-the-day chip leader Tommy Nguyen, and Jeffrey Hakim.

The final day of the Main Event is set to kick off today at 1 pm local time. The six finalists will play down to a champion who will claim the title, the tournament trophy and the $1.5 million first-place prize.

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Sands Bethlehem Buyer Plans to Add Hotel, Water Park to the Casino Resort

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians has big expansion plans for Sands Bethlehem, awaits regulatory approval to complete purchase

A multi-million expansion is on the way for Sands Bethlehem, the hotel and casino resort that billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his company Las Vegas Sands built on the site of the former Bethlehem Steel plant more than a decade ago.

News emerged yesterday that the property’s buyers plan to invest $190 million to add a new hotel at the resort and possibly an indoor water park. Wind Creek Hospitality, the hospitality business of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, announced last March its bid to buy Sands Bethlehem for $1.3 billion.

Las Vegas Sands agreed to sell its property to the Alabama-based tribe, but the deal is yet to be finalized, pending regulatory approval. The transaction is currently under review by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and the involved parties will only be able to proceed with it after receiving the necessary permission from the regulator.

Sands Bethlehem was initially planned to open doors in 2008, but was eventually launched a year later due to delays in demolition and construction work. The property opened with a casino, hotel, and other amenities. Its casino only featured slot machines upon launch. Later on, owner Las Vegas Sands received a license to operate table games by the Gaming Control Board and added more than 180 tables for poker, blackjack, and craps in 2010.

Expansion Plans

Wind Creek Hospitality said Tuesday that even though the purchase of the casino still needs approval from local regulators, a plan for its expansion is already in the works. If the deal is approved, the company will spend $190 million on building a second hotel at the site and possibly an indoor water park.

The new hotel will feature 300 rooms and will aim to respond to the demand for rooms in the area. Wind Creek Hospitality CEO Jay Dorris said yesterday that occupancy at the existing Sands Bethlehem hotel currently stands at around 90%. His company would look to commence construction on the new accommodation facility as soon as possible.

Mr. Dorris went on to explain that they will look to “appeal to a number of different people” and that the property and the site are large enough to accomplish that goal.

Wind Creek Hospitality is also considering the renovation of the vacant No.2 machine shop site. One of the possibilities discussed involves the addition of an indoor water park. Of that plan, Mr. Dorris said that they are looking at options to diversify the appeal of the site and that they have earmarked money to pursue the development of a water park.

The executive further pointed out that once their expansion is complete, it will create up to 400 permanent jobs in addition to the existing 2,100 ones.

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