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Archive for January 30th, 2019

Caesars to Debut New Non-Gambling Resort Brand in Scottsdale, Arizona

Caesars Entertainment Corp. is set to expand its portfolio with its first non-gambling resort in the United States, the company revealed on Monday

The property will be located in Scottsdale, Arizona and the Las Vegas gaming and hospitality powerhouse expects to break ground on it in the second half of the year. Caesars Republic Scottsdale will feature a four-star, 266-room hotel and multiple other facilities.

The opening of the Arizona property comes as part of Caesars’ strategy to expand its business geographically both in and outside the United States and to diversify its operations with non-gambling resorts.

With yesterday’s announcement, the company also introduced its newest hotel brand – Caesars Republic. Caesars will license the brand, while HCW Development will build the Arizona resort and Aimbridge Hospitality will operate it. The Las Vegas giant said in a Monday press release that it will “advise on design elements” and integrate its loyalty program, Total Rewards, into the Scottsdale operation.

The new resort will be located just north of Scottsdale Fashion Square, known to be the city’s premium retail space.

Caesars said in its press release announcing the new non-gaming resort that it has selected Scottsdale as the host of the first Caesars Republic property due to the city’s popularity with visitors. It is estimated that Scottsdale welcomed 4.5 million overnight visitors and 4.4 million day-trip visitors in 2017.

Unique Guest Room Experience and Rooftop Pool

The 11-floor tower of Caesars Republic Scottsdale will include 266 hotel rooms. Aside from a mixture of kings, double queens, one and two-bedroom suites, the hotel portion of the property will also feature a bridal suite, and five luxury entertainment suites on the top floor.

The second floor will feature five breakout rooms for 40 people each. Those can be opened for events that can accommodate up to 200 people.

A 7,000-square-foot column-free ballroom will also be part of Caesars’ first non-gambling US resort. Its 34-foot sliding glass doors will open into a lawn that will be suitable for outdoor events for up to 600 people.

A rooftop pool and bar will on the seventh floor will be among the flagship attractions of Caesars Republic Scottsdale. The pool will host different activities such as “yoga at 9 and champagne at 11” and brunches. The pool, the first rooftop one in the city, will offer breathtaking views of the nearby Camelback Mountain.

Caesars plans to further expand the Republic brand in the coming years. The company said Monday that no two properties within the brand will look alike and that “everything the décor to the culinary offerings are inspired by local traditions and tastemakers.” The hospitality giant will look to tap into the unique character of each host city and to amplify its energy and culture.

The announcement about Caesars’ new non-gambling hotel brand arrives shortly after the company debuted its two casino-less beachfront luxury resorts on the Bluewaters Island in Dubai. The company also announced last year that it would develop a non-gaming Caesars Palace complex in Puerto Los Cabos, Mexico.

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Wynn, Genting Settle on Casino Resort Design Dispute

Wynn and Genting have settled their copyright infringement dispute over the design of Resorts World Las Vegas off-court

Gaming and hospitality companies Wynn Resorts and Genting Group announced on Monday that they have reached a settlement agreement on a copyright infringement dispute over the design of Genting’s Resorts World Las Vegas integrated resort.

The two gambling groups revealed that they have settled the issue out of court a day before they were to appear before US District Court Judge for the District of Nevada, Gloria Navarro.

News broke late last year that Wynn was suing Genting over the design of Resorts World Las Vegas, a multi-billion-dollar hotel and casino resort the latter company is currently building on the Las Vegas Strip.

Wynn claimed that the mega-complex looked strikingly similar to its flagship properties Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, which are located across the street from where Genting is developing Resorts World Las Vegas.

Wynn sued its rival resort operator on five counts of trademark infringement, including trade dress infringement, federal and state trademark dilution, copyright infringement, and unfair competition. The company argued that Resorts World Las Vegas ripped off the signature concave facade of its properties as well as the horizontal banding between floors and bronze glazing.

In a statement from earlier this month, Genting denied Wynn’s claims, saying that its hotel and casino resort will look “dramatically different” from the latter’s properties upon completion.

Genting Agrees to Redesign the Property

In the latest round of developments in the case, Wynn and Genting jointly announced that they have settled the issue and that Genting has agreed to change the design of its property. The changes implemented are not expected to delay the scheduled 2020 completion and opening of the integrated resort.

In its court filing, Wynn sought a temporary restraining order that, if granted, would have threatened Resorts World Las Vegas’ timetable. Genting could have lost an estimated of $169 million and would have had to lay off 500 construction workers, if a restraining order had been issued.

In a statement from yesterday, Genting’s Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Development, Michael Levoff, said that their Las Vegas resort “will be the launching point for the next generation of integrated resorts” and that its aesthetics “will play an important role in its future success.” The official went on to say that while Genting believed the design had differences, it decided to make several changes that “will clearly differentiate the two properties.”

Wynn Chief Communications Officer Michael Weaver said in yesterday’s joint statement that their “world-renowned signature architecture and design” were among the elements that have cemented the company’s reputation for excellence. Mr. Weaver added that the new design changes offered by Genting will resolve their concerns.

Resorts World Las Vegas is currently being constructed in the northern end of the Strip, an area that has remained underdeveloped but has captured quite some investor interest over the past several years. While Genting has not announced how much exactly it intends to spend on the property, analysts believe that its total investment could hit the $7 billion mark.

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More and More Dutch People Gamble on Unregulated Websites, Survey Shows

New report shows more Dutch gamblers have opted for unregulated online gambling in the past few years

The number of Dutch gamblers opting for unregulated online gambling services has increased 20% over the past two years, according to a survey conducted by market research agency Motivaction and commissioned by Holland Casino.

The recently released research shows that more than 1.86 million Dutch people gambled on websites that did not hold licenses from the local regulator, Kansspelautoriteit, in the period between 2016 and 2018.

Here it is important to note that gambling on unlicensed offshore websites is prohibited under the Netherlands’ current gambling law. In addition, the country’s current regulatory framework does not contain provisions for the issuance of licenses to interested international online gambling operators. Gambling services in the country are provided by state-run entities.

In 2016, when Motivaction’s previous study was conducted, there were 1.5 million Dutch people to have gambled on unregulated websites, which means that the unregulated market grew 20% or by more than 300,000 over the course of the past two years. Poker and online casino games were the most popular online gambling activities. Motivaction further notes that the popularity of sports betting has increased significantly over the past several years.

In terms of revenue generated by unlicensed operations, Motivaction researchers believe the market has remained roughly the same. According to estimates, the Netherlands’ unregulated online gambling market is worth around €600 million. This means that the country is losing significant amounts of tax money every year due to the lack of regulations.

Commenting on the results from the survey, Holland Casino CEO Erwin van Lambaart said that they highlight the need for the re-regulation of the local market to better protect online gamblers.

Senate to Vote on Remote Gambling Bill

Internationally licensed companies have been operating in the Netherlands for years, despite the existing prohibitions and the local regulator’s efforts to prevent local gamblers from being targeted bu such companies.

An effort for the re-organization of the Dutch market was launched a few years ago, but it has been advancing slowly. The Dutch House of Representatives passed the so-called Remote Gambling Bill in the summer of 2016. Generally speaking, the piece calls for the re-regulation of the gambling market in a manner that would allow foreign companies to apply for licenses from Kansspelautoriteit and operate in a regulated environment.

The bill needed to pass the Senate, as well, but a vote on it has never taken place over the past two and a half years. News outlets reported that the much-anticipated vote could finally happen on February 5. It is also believed that the re-regulation drive has gained support from most of the parties that comprise the nation’s Parliament.

While the bill could pass through the Senate as early as next week, the actual re-organization of the market will probably take a while. According to analysts, it will not be before 2020 when the first online gambling licenses will be issued.

The bill contains a number of provisions that aim to ensure that online gambling services will be offered in a socially responsible manner. For instance, each company that obtains a license from Kansspelautoriteit will have to appoint an addiction prevention manager.

It is yet to be seen how lawmakers and regulators will treat gambling companies that have been penalized by Kansspelautoriteit. The regulatory body has issued multiple six-figure fines to online gambling operators that have targeted Dutch players without being authorized to do so, with Betsson and Mr Green being among those.

There have been proposals that such companies should not be allowed to enter the local market once it is re-regulated. Under separate proposals, fined operators would be allowed to apply for licenses from Kansspelautoriteit, but would have to wait for a while before being able to do so as a form of punishment for previously servicing local players.

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New York Hedge Fund Buys Ocean Resort Casino

A New York private investment firm has been identified as the new owner of the ailing Boardwalk hotel and casino resort

New York-based hedge fund Luxor Capital Group has been revealed as the mysterious buyer of Atlantic City’s Ocean Resort Casino after several weeks of speculations about its identity.

The private investment firm has no relation to the Las Vegas-based Luxor Hotel & Casino, which is owned by MGM Resorts International.

Luxor is buying Ocean from Colorado businessman Bruce Deifik just seven months after the opening of the Boardwalk property. Mr. Deifik acquired the hotel and casino resort early in 2018, paying $229 million to its previous owner, Florida investor Glenn Straub.

Mr. Deifik’s purchase of the Atlantic City casino resort was actually partially funded with a $122.5 million bridge loan from Luxor.

A press release from Monday revealed that Luxor would become the principal owner of Ocean, while Mr. Deifik will retain a small non-controlling interest in the property. First suggestions that the Colorado investor was looking for buyers for the hotel and casino resort emerged in a lawsuit filed last December by the former manager of the HQ2 club at the property, Joseph Morrissey.

Mr. Morrissey said in his lawsuit that he had his contract terminated due to the fact that he had a small stake in the Boardwalk property and Mr. Deifik wanted to eliminate any stakeholder who could hamper Ocean’s potential sale.

Renovation at the Property

The sale of the Boardwalk property was confirmed earlier this month when Mr. Deifik said that an undisclosed buyer would purchase the resort. While the identity of the buying entity was yet to be revealed at the time, the Colorado businessman said that the property’s new owner planned to invest $70 million to add a buffet, more rooms and suites, and for renovations at the casino floor.

There will also be a “substantial increase” in Ocean’s entertainment programming and player events in the coming months. The investment needs regulatory approvals and final documentation to close. That is expected to happen in the next few days.

Luxor also needs to obtain a gaming license in order to be able to operate in Atlantic City. While awaiting approval from New Jersey’s gambling regulators, the firm will hand the management of the property to a specially created temporary trust. A trustee will be appointed once the $70 million investment is finalized to oversee the trust until Luxor obtains interim authorization to enter the local gambling market.

Ocean said in a statement from Monday that it does not expect the transaction and the temporary existence of the trust to have effects on its daily operation.

The Boardwalk property originally opened doors in 2012 as Revel but was shuttered just two and a half years later, failing to become a profitable business. It reopened doors in June 2018 as Ocean Resort Casino and with Mr. Deifik and his team at the helm. The Colorado businessman spent $200 million into property renovations that aimed to mend the mistakes made by its previous owners.

Ocean was launched on the very same day that saw the opening of another Boardwalk property – Hard Rock’s reimagined former Trump Taj Mahal. While Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City managed to quickly cement its position in the local casino market, Ocean’s gaming revenue has remained at or near the bottom of the pack among the city’s nine operational casinos.

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