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Archive for February 16th, 2019

Parx Owner’s Mini-Casino Proposal Gets March 25 Public Hearing

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board today announced that it has set a March 25 public input hearing to collect testimony on the proposed establishment of a mini-casino near Shippensburg Township

The mini-casino project is being pitched by Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc., known to be the owner of Parx Casino in Bensalem. Greenwood submitted its application for the new gaming facility this past fall.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said in a press release from earlier today that it will hold its public input hearing on March 25, 2019 at the Conference Center at Shippensburg University. It is set to begin at 4 pm local time.

Under Pennsylvania gambling law, the state’s gambling regulator must hold a hearing within the municipality where a mini-casino is proposed to be built. The purpose of the event is to provide individuals with the opportunity to voice their opinion on whether a facility of this kind should be authorized in the area they inhabit and to learn more about the project.

The Gaming Control Board said today that it will be accepting written testimony on the project until March 22, 2019. Those who want to attend and speak at the hearing will have to register until March 22 on the regulator’s website in order to be able to participate in the public debate.

The Pennsylvania gambling regulator will include all the information it collects, in both written and oral form, in the report on which its decision to grant or deny a mini-casino license to Greenwood will be based.

Details about the Shippensburg Casino

Parx Casino’s owner won last February the right to build a mini-casino in the Shippensburg area. Greenwood’s $8.111 million bid was selected over an offer made by Sands Bethlehem owner Las Vegas Sands.

According to Greenwood’s application, the gaming facility will be visible from Interstate 81 and will be easily accessed from Exit 29 of the highway. The company’s original plans include 475 slot machines and several dozens of table games. Once operational, the mini-casino will be part of a community that is home to 300,000 residents within a 25-mile radius.

Shippensburg was one of a flurry of South Central Pennsylvania municipalities that agreed to host a mini-casino under a sweeping gambling expansion package signed by Gov. Tom Wolf in the fall of 2017. The measure authorized the establishment of up to 10 new mini-casinos across the state that are permitted to operate between 300 and 750 slot machines and up to 30 table games. Each of the smaller facilities is required to be located at least 25 miles from one of Pennsylvania’s 12 full-blown casinos.

The mini-casinos are also allowed to offer sports betting as long as their parent companies are authorized to provide the service. Greenwood has said previously that its plans for the Shippensburg facility include the addition of a sports bar, but it is yet to be confirmed whether it would feature a sportsbook.

The gambling operator expects to open its mini-casino in the second half of 2020.

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The post Parx Owner’s Mini-Casino Proposal Gets March 25 Public Hearing appeared first on Casino News Daily.

European Casino Association Presents New Strategy, Welcomes Newest Member

The General Assembly of the European Casino Association (ECA) approved the organization’s strategy for the next three years and welcomed its newest member during this year’s edition of ICE London earlier this month

Providing more details about its new strategy, ECA said in a press release issued Thursday that it will “advocate the values and principles” of Europe’s nationally licensed land-based casinos towards “a sustainable feature.”

The key objectives of the strategy, titled Supporting and Promoting Europe’s Casinos, include providing thought leadership and developing and exchanging the best practices on the most pressing industry issues. Industry trends and digitalisation, anti-money laundering, corporate social responsibility, responsible gambling, diversity and inclusion, and safety and security are among the topics ECA’s new strategy aims to address.

Combating all forms of illegal gambling and national level with proven cross-European practices will, too, be among the most important tasks before the casino association in the coming years. The organization said during ICE London that it will also invest further efforts into the promotion of the positive economic and social impact as well as good causes spearheaded by Europe’s licensed land-based casinos.

The implementation of ECA’s new strategy will be led by the association’s new Secretary-General Philip Easthill (recently promoted from Executive Director) as well as by Chairman Per Jaldung and Vice-Chairs Tracy Damestani and Prof. Dietmar Hoscher.

ECA Welcomes City of Dreams Mediterranean

The casino association also announced that it has welcomed its 29th member, City of Dreams Mediterranean. The property has passed successfully ECA’s membership requirements and has signed up to the organization’s code of conduct to join the group of licensed land-based gambling venues located across Europe that are represented by ECA.

City of Dreams Mediterranean will be Europe’s first integrated casino resort. The property is to be developed in the city of Limassol in the Republic of Cyprus by Asian gaming and hospitality giant Melco Resorts & Entertainment and its Cypriot partner Cyprus Phassouri (Zakaki).

As Casino News Daily reported earlier this week, Melco and its local partner selected Greek construction companies GEK Terna and J&P Avax as the preferred contractors for the development of the gambling operator’s first casino property outside Asia. Construction is now slated to commence by April and the property is expected to swing its doors open in 2021.

Commenting on City of Dreams Mediterranean joining the European Casino Association, property President and gambling industry veteran Craig Ballantyne said that they are delighted to join the association and represent Cyprus at this crucial time. Mr. Ballantyne went on that their membership will help them establish connections with Europe’s licensed land-based casino industry ahead of the opening of what would be the continent’s first integrated resort.

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Phil Ivey’s Baccarat Edge-Sorting Partner Inspires Feature Film

The story of the queen of baccarat, Kelly Sun, is getting a feature film produced by the team behind box office smasher Crazy Rich Asians

The producers of 2018 hit movie Crazy Rich Asians are now onto a new exciting project that involves putting the story of one of the world’s most talented baccarat players on the silver screen.

Ivanhoe Pictures and Jeffrey Sharp of Sharp Independent Pictures have partnered to finance and co-produce The Baccarat Queen, a feature film about Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun, known to be one of the most successful players of the highest grossing casino game in Asia’s gambling mecca, Macau.

The movie is inspired by a 2017 article by Vegas insider Michael Kaplan, titled “The Baccarat Machine” and published on Cigar Aficionado.

The Baccarat Queen (a working title) will tell the story of Sun, the daughter of a now deceased wealthy Hong Kong factory owner, who mastered an elaborate technique known as edge sorting that gave her advantage at the baccarat table.

Sun infamously amassed tens of millions of dollars within a short period of time playing baccarat and using the technique. She used her impeccable vision and uncanny memory to spot the tiniest discrepancies on the backs of playing cards, memorize those, and thus improve her odds against the casino.

Sun helped poker pro Phil Ivey win millions playing baccarat at Crockfords Club in London and Atlantic City’s Borgata back in 2012. Their winning sessions at the two casinos got them embroiled in two of the most expensive and most highly publicized lawsuits in the history of gambling.

A Story of Revenge

Ivanhoe Pictures President John Penotti said that they are thrilled to partner with Sharp and “tell this exciting, high-stakes tale of cunning and revenge.” The Baccarat Queen will feature “strong Asian characters” but will be told mostly in English as it will be targeting the worldwide market.

In previous conversations with journalists, Sun has said that she had been playing baccarat and slot machines in gambling dens around the world, and while learning she had blown more than $20 million of her father’s fortune.

In 2007, Sun got arrested for a gambling debt of nearly $100,000 owed to Las Vegas casino giant MGM Resorts International. The player spent three weeks in prison, where she was attacked by fellow prisoners and was bullied by guards. She lost 25 pounds while serving her time, until a relative paid what she owed to the casino and she was released.

Her trials in jail motivated Sun to master the edge-sorting technique and take revenge on MGM by playing baccarat at its properties (the Borgata is owned by the Las Vegas gambling powerhouse) and gaming millions of dollars out of the gambling venues.

A release date and more details about Ivanhoe’s feature film are yet to be announced.

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Carl Icahn Reportedly Presses for Caesars Sale

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is planning to push Caesars to consider a sale, the Wall Street Journal reports citing people familiar with matter

Reports about Mr. Icahn pressing for the company’s sale emerge after it became known that he was quietly building a stake in the Las Vegas gaming and hospitality powerhouse.

The New York activist investor currently owns 10% of Caesars. According to people familiar with the company’s shareholder dealings, Mr. Icahn believes Caesars has “desirable properties and that the outlook for Las Vegas is positive.” The WSJ report goes on that Mr. Icahn believes the casino and hotel operator would perform better under the stewardship of “a rival.”

It seems that the businessman is planning to press for Caesars to let its shareholders consider and decide on the options available and whether the company should be sold.

Mr. Icahn has not been the only shareholder to have pushed Caesars to consider divestment of assets or an outright sale. News emerged last September that New York hedge fund HG Vora had built a stake in the casino giant and pressed for sale of assets or some form of consolidation.

Caesars emerged from a complex and lengthy Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the fall of 2017. The company has been looking to pay down its behemoth debt which currently stands at around $9 billion and to improve its profitability in the competitive land-based casino and hospitality fields.

The gaming and hotel operator currently manages nearly 50 properties in 13 states and five countries, including Dubai where it launched two non-gambling resorts late last year. The company has said that part of its growth strategy would involve expanding its non-gambling portfolio.

Sale Offers

According to WSJ’s report, Caesars has been approached by at least two parties with purchase offers in recent months. One of the offers came from Golden Nugget’s owner, billionaire Tilman Fertitta. Sources have said that Mr. Fertitta has proposed that Caesars acquire his restaurant, gaming, and hospitality businesses in exchange for a majority stake. The businessman’s offer has also involved him running the combined entity. Caesars has rejected Mr. Fertitta’s bid.

It is believed that Eldorado Resorts Inc., another Nevada-based gaming and hospitality company, has too approached its much larger counterpart with a purchase offer, but discussions over a possible deal have fallen through.

It is to be seen whether Mr. Icahn’s push would result in a sale deal taking place. The New York billionaire investor is no stranger to the US land-based casino industry. Over the years, he purchased, operated, and sold casino properties in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Most recently, he unloaded his holding in Tropicana Entertainment Inc. to Eldorado and real estate investment trust Gaming and Leisure Properties for $1.85 billion.

Mr. Icahn is also the former owner of Trump Taj Mahal which now operates as Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. Hard Rock International purchased the property from the billionaire investor in 2017 and invested more than $500 million into its transformation before swinging its doors open in June 2018.

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