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Archive for March 6th, 2019

David ODB Baker Leads after WPT L.A. Poker Classic Day 3

David ODB Baker had rough two and a half days before taking the lead on Day 3 and bagging the largest stack into the night

There were just 35 players left by the end of the third day of the WPT L.A. Poker Classic from an overall field of 546 competitors. Each of these 35 survivors has locked up a minimum cash of $26,830, or more than two tsnf bsgging imes the $10,000 buy-in fee, but all eyes are set on the $1 million first-place prize.

The name of the this year’s WPT L.A. Poker Classic champion will become known on March 11, when the televised final table of the tournament will be played at the brand new HyperX Esports Arena at Luxor Las Vegas. But two more days of action at Commerce Casino in the Los Angeles await those still in the hunt for the title and all the accolades that accompany a WPT Main Tour champ.

It was a busy day at the host casino on Monday as 108 players returned for Day 3 of the Main Event. They had the important task to burst the money bubble and they did great in completing that task.

The top 69 finishers are getting a share of the $5,169,270 prize pool, min-cashes starting from $17,230. As many as 34 players left the tournament with a payout before the end of Day 3 was announced.

Action resumes today at noon local time at the host casino. The remaining players will play four 120-minute levels.

David ODB Baker Leads the Remaining 35 Survivors

The 35 remaining hopefuls will return to Commerce Casino with poker pro David ODB Baker as the chip leader and the only player with more than 2 million chips in his bag. Baker had amassed a stack of 2.086 million by the end of Day 3 of the L.A. Poker Classic.

The player told WPT staff that the realization of being the chip leader and securing a massive stack was yet to sink in, particularly given the fact that he was the short stack for the better part of the past three days.

Baker is no stranger to the WPT circuit and no stranger to poker success. For example, he boasts a gold bracelet from the WSOP. The player captured the piece in 2012 when he took down a $2,500 8-Game Mix event. Another notable WSOP accomplishment was his third-place finish in the $50,000 Players Championship in 2015. The player scooped his career’s largest cash of $514,926 for his deep run in that tournament.

Baker now has the chance to improve that accomplishment and claim a prize two times larger and a WPT title. However, the road to victory is not an easy one as a number of accomplished and seasoned poker pros intend to walk it.

Record-breaking four-time WPT champ Darren Elias and his fellow WPT Champions Club members Tony Tran, Matas Cimbolas, and Mohsin Charania, among others, are still in the hunt for the title and the top prize. The likes of Dan Shak and WPT Players of the Year Andy Frankenberger and J.C. Tran were, too, among those to make it through Day 3 of the tournament.

As mentioned above, action resumes at noon local time for the penultimate day of action at Commerce Casino.

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Sri Lanka Rolls Out Casino Entry Fee, Gaming Turnover Tax; Raises License Fees

The government of Sri Lanka raises casino license fees, introduces turnover tax and casino entry as part of new budget

Sri Lanka’s operational casinos will have to pay higher annual license fee from this year, the nation’s Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera announced today. The amended fee comes as part of Sri Lanka’s budget for 2019 that was delivered today.

Each licensed casino currently operating in Sri Lanka is required to pay an annual license fee of LKR200 million (approx. $1.1 million). Seeking additional revenue for the nation’s coffers, lawmakers decided to double that fee to LKR400 million (approx. $2.2 million).

In addition to this, licensed casino operators will be obligated to pay an annual 15% tax on gambling turnover. The new tax is set to take effect on April 1.

Minister Samaraweera further said today that the government of Sri Lanka has also decided to introduce an entry fee for people visiting the country’s casinos. Starting June 1, casinos will collect a $50 entry fee per person per visit. Responding to comments regarding the new fee policy, Minister Samaraweera said that Singapore’s two licensed casinos have such a fee and it is higher than the one introduced as part of Sri Lanka’s new budget.

In Singapore, citizens and permanent residents of the city-state are charged a 24-hour entry fee of $100 ($73.7) or an annual entry fee of S$2,000 ($1,475.48).

Anticipated Impact on the Local Casino Industry

While the increased license fee and the new turnover tax are expected to have a particularly negative impact on Sri Lanka’s gambling industry, analysts believe that the entry fee could be the one to hurt the sector the most.

Being required to pay an entry fee will discourage players, particularly Sri Lanka nationals, from gambling at the local casinos, experts said shortly after the announcement about the new levy emerged.

Sri Lanka, a tiny South Asian island nation, has over the years attracted quite some interest among major players in the global casino gambling industry. Back in 2013, Australian gaming and hospitality operator Crown Resorts confirmed that it was in advanced discussions with the government of the country to develop a casino resort in the capital Colombo.

According to media reports, Las Vegas giant Las Vegas Sands was, too, eyeing entry into Sri Lanka after a failed expansion attempt in India. Separate reports linked MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp. to Indian gaming group Delta Corp. and suggested that the companies were in talks to form joint ventures for the potential development of casino resorts. Delta operates a casino in Colombo.

Early in 2015, the then newly sworn-in administration of Sri Lanka reportedly canceled three major casino projects that had been given the green light by its predecessor.

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Queensland Opens Expression-of-Interest Process for Second Gold Coast Casino

International gaming and hospitality operators have until April to register interest in operating the Gold Coast’s second casino resort

The Queensland Government has decided to roll the dice on a second casino resort in the Gold Coast area, despite protests from anti-gambling groups and warnings that the market is already saturated.

The state Government opened today an expression-of-interest process, seeking interested international developers for the construction and operation of what would be the Gold Coast’s second casino resort. The city is currently home to The Star Gold Coast, a hotel and casino complex in the suburb of Broadbeach.

In a statement on the official website of the Queensland Government, the state’s Minister for Innovation and Tourism Industry Development Kate Jones said that “a world-wide search” is now underway for the best proposal that would give a major boost to “the tourism and entertainment offering” for the Gold Coast.

While Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and her administration identify the development scheme as a Global Tourism Hub, the concept behind it does not really differ from the so-called MICE integrated resorts. The Gold Coast Global Tourism Hub will include entertainment venues, convention facilities, high-end food and beverage and retail experience, luxury hotels, and gaming space.

Minister Jones clarified today that the Government has decided to cap the gaming facility of any new resort at five percent of the total area of the property. She went on to say that a similar limitation has been placed on the integrated resort that is currently under development in Queen’s Wharf in Brisbane.

The Tourism Minister went on to explain that the Global Tourism Hub concept introduced by the Premier Palaszczuk’s administration focuses on revenue from entertainment, high-end retail, and convention offering and less so on gaming revenue.

Under initial projections, a new Global Tourism Hub on the Gold Coast would create more than 6,000 local jobs and attract an additional one million tourists per year.

Minister Jones said today that a property of this kind could be “a game-changer” as it would give the Coast “world-class entertainment and convention facilities, events, tourism experiences and attractions.”

Gambling-Related Concerns and Market Saturation

The Global Tourism Hub plan is facing strong opposition from anti-gambling groups that argue the addition of one more casino would only hurt a region that already offers too much gambling. Commenting on today’s announcement, Stephen Mayne from The Alliance for Gambling Reform told local media outlet ABC that Queensland is already the nation’s second-worst state in terms of gambling losses, with those running at an average rate of over A$1,000 per person.

Mr. Mayne went on to say that the number of new jobs the integrated resort would generate does not justify the development of a property that would expand gambling. According to him, no economic benefit will be created because of the huge social harm gambling causes.

The Star Entertainment Group, the owner of the Broadbeach casino resort, has warned that the local gambling machine market is already saturated and that the Government should find the right balance between reaping maximum economic benefits from such a massive project and preventing any further social harm from being done to the community.

The Star plans to invest more than A$2 billion in upgrading and renovating its Broadbeach property. The company has introduced a masterplan that would see the addition of five towers at the existing complex and a number of amenities over the coming years.

The company was also selected as the preferred bidder for the development of an integrated resort in Brisbane’s Queen’s Wharf area.

Minister Jones told ABC today that The Star is free to apply with the state for running the second Gold Coast casino resort. A number of international operators have previously expressed interest in entering the local market, with gaming and hospitality giants Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Hard Rock International being among those.

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Latest Trial in Las Vegas Sands, Richard Suen Legal Dispute Starts This Month

Jurors sought for multi-million trial involving casino giant Las Vegas Sands and a businessman who helped the company set foot in Macau

The selection process of a jury for the upcoming trial involving Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen and Las Vegas casino giant Las Vegas Sands began on Monday, the Clark County District Court announced.

The trial is set to begin on March 11 and could take up to seven weeks for a ruling to be issued. A Clark County District Court Judge and attorneys for Mr. Suen and Las Vegas Sands said yesterday that it could take several days for prospective jurors to be questioned before the actual panel of 15 is assembled.

The legal dispute between the Hong Kong businessman and the Las Vegas casino operator spans more than 15 years. Mr. Suen brought to court Las Vegas Sands after the company refused to pay him for helping it enter Macau’s lucrative casino market.

The businessman claims that he introduced Sands officials to fellow Chinese businesspersons and officials and that those introductions played instrumental role in the company being given the green light to operate integrated resorts in Macau, the tiny Chinese enclave that is the only place where casino gambling is legal in the country.

Mr. Suen sued Sands for breach of contract, arguing that he was unable to collect $5 million plus 2% of Sand’s Macau profits for helping the company establish an operation in what would later become the world’s largest casino gambling hub.

Sands Claims Suen Did “Virtually Nothing”

Courts ruled two times in favor of Mr. Suen over the course of the prolonged legal dispute. In 2008, a Clark County court ordered Sands to pay Mr. Suen $43.8 million in damages. That ruling was vacated two years later.

In 2013, a court ordered the company to pay $70 million in damages after a retrial of the same case. The casino powerhouse said back then that it would appeal that order. Sands took the matter to the Nevada Supreme Court, which said in 2016 that a Las Vegas jury should decide whether Mr. Suen should be awarded damages. As mentioned above, testimony is now set to begin on March 11.

Mr. Suen’s attorneys have evaluated his services for Sands at $328 million. The company’s legal team has maintained over the years that the Hong Kong businessman should only receive $1 million and that he did “virtually nothing” to help the company set foot in Macau.

Attorneys for Sands have also pointed out in court that the company was not awarded a concession in Macau and that its entry in the local market was due to a subconcession agreement with concessionaire Galaxy Entertainment that was signed in 2002.

The Las Vegas gaming and hospitality operator opened Sands Macao, its first property in the casino hub, in 2004. Its footprint in the city has expanded over the years with the opening of Sands Cotai Central, The Venetian Macao, The Plaza Macao, Four Seasons Hotel Macao, and The Parisian Macao.

It became known that the company’s CEO and Chairman, US business mogul Sheldon Adelson, would not be able to appear before court when the trial starts due to his dire health. News broke last week that the billionaire is battling cancer and is dealing with the side effects of his treatment.

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