Category Archives: News

Macau Casinos – Were They a Good Bet?


Macau has been touted the East’s answer to Las Vegas, and has been Asia’s gambling mecca for decades and was originally owned and run by Chinese casino mogul Stanley Ho. Chinese regulators ended Ho’s exclusive monopoly in 2002, opening up the district to U.S investors. Soon casino giants like MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands entered the market, constructing resorts valued at billions of dollars and happily cashing in on the East’s gambling boom in the Macau Metropolis.

Attracting visitors from mainland China as well as the surrounding areas, Macau became the world’s largest gambling centre by 2006 thanks to the fact that it is the only area in China where gambling is legal, with casino’s contributing to around 80% of the territory’s revenues.

For over a decade Macau enjoyed exceptional growth in revenues, but flash forward to present day and the picture is a great deal different. Macau gaming revenues began to decline in June of 2014 and the sharpest declines have been seen in recent months, with gross gaming revenue falling by a significant 35.5% in August in comparison to the previous year, leaving many questioning whether the Las Vegas casino operators who entered the Macau market made a good bet after all.

Of course, these sentiments are being reflected in the stock markets with stock prices tumbling as the various casino groups show declines in gaming revenue and the losses have been great. Wynn Resorts shows the biggest losses at a whopping 63% and that with a $4.1 billion dollar construction of Wynn Palace on the Cotai Strip underway in Macau which is expected to open in the first half of 2016. Competitors Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts have also not gone unscathed reporting 38% and 34% losses respectively, and both also having multi-million dollar resort projects in the works.

wynn stocks

A number of factors account for the decline after over a decade of booming success, among these are an economic downturn in China which has led to the de-valuation of the Chinese Yaun, an aggressive crack-down by the Chinese government on money laundering and corruption, a reduction in visitors visas to Macau due to stricter regulations and to add insult to injury, a smoking ban levied on all Macau Casinos.

Approximately 70% of Macau’s visitors originate from mainland China and with a poor economic, weakened currency, governmental red tape to get through, as well as the restriction of smoking in the casinos, traffic to the area has been greatly reduced. Adding to these woes, the government’s anti-graft policy is targeted at the upper echelons of the mass market which means the number of casino high rolling VIP’s which flock to the mecca to play high value slots and table games, and account for $44 billion in revenues for Macau casinos have declined.

However it’s not all doom and gloom and while the government’s actions have affected casinos in the short term, they are making efforts to invest heavily in Macau’s infrastructure, stating that while they want to support growth, they also want to clean up the industry, eliminating underground operations and corruption while emulating a Las Vegas model which is not only gambling related but also offers and entertainment destination for families.

The key players in the industry have followed suit with this notion, diversifying their offering into retail, hotels and entertainment with more non-gambling features being added to entice middle income earners and families to the area. While this group may not be as profitable as the casino VIP’s, they are expected to drive revenues, although given the cultural differences between the East and West, these revenues are not projected to match Las Vegas’ non-gambling revenues.

While it is unsure when Macau will return to positive growth, according to industry experts the intermediate and long term growth of the region remains a good prospect with analysts predicting a 10% long term growth rate once revenues settle back to their long term trends.

UK’s New National Lottery Ads Feature Popular Celebs

Piers Morgan stars in UK Lottery Ads

The UK’s National Lottery has launched a new promotional campaign and this year the country’s gaming powerhouse is turning to humour to remain top of mind amongst the nations punters. The campaign is set to feature a series of TV adverts having a laugh at a few of the UK’s high profile celebrities.

The campaign, created by AMV BBDO, is entitled “Please Not Them” – an idea that was inspired by the thinking that we all have dreams of what we would do if we ever won the lotto millions, a hook that keeps lotto players and gamblers alike buying their tickets and playing progressive jackpot slots. What the ad plays on is that most of us would rather see our own dreams come true instead of those of others, especially the already wealthy celebs of the world.

To this end, the adverts pose the question, what would the self-absorbed UK celebs do with a major lottery win. And the answer comes in strange attempt at being comical. The first ad features the infamously opinionated television personality and journalist Piers Morgan, who would apparently build a mammoth seaside amusement park called “Piers Pier” – featuring himself, in everything of course.

In the intro, Morgan describes his dream of building a monument to one of Britain’s favourite sons…himself obviously. They then go on to reveal a grandiose architectural model of Piers Pier – the entrance to which is a giant Piers Morgan head. The park will also feature a rollercoaster in the shape of Piers’ signature and every ride or amusement features his face.

The ad concludes with Piers on the beach commenting that one big win is all it will take for Piers’ Pier to open for business – and of course this is followed by a voice over stating that “Anyone can win the lotto, please don’t let it be him” – probably the funniest line in the ad.

The ad should be funny, but somehow comes across rather strange and almost as if they were just trying way too hard to be comical…or perhaps we were just having a bad day when we watched it??? See for yourself and you be the judge. Either way, they must have paid Piers a fortune for his endorsement.

The next instalment is set to feature the controversial model and TV personality Katie “Jordan” Price who reportedly wants her own TV station with dedicated 24/7 coverage. Apparently a host of other UK celebs are in negotiations to be featured in the series, yet names have not been disclosed at present. Do you think the Beckham’s will make an appearance, Wayne Rooney perhaps? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Gambling and Drinking blamed for Affleck Garner Split

Jen and Ben split

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck have decided to call it a day after 10 years of marriage. While the couple has had a tumultuous relationship over the past few years, separating for 10 months in 2013 and spending the last 2 years in therapy, sources say that Garner has had it with Affleck’s drinking and gambling and decided to end things.

Neither of the stars are commenting on their divorce but sources from Jen’s camp cite drinking and gambling as the main reason for the split while Ben’s sources say that they simply want to live their lives differently.

Ben is famous in the gambling world and his exploits have been well documented here on over the years. Not only has he acted in online gambling films like Runner Runner alongside Justin Timberlake, Affleck is also known for his prowess at the tables.

He is an avid blackjack player that has mastered the art of card counting and has even been banned from Las Vegas casinos like the Hard Rock Café for being “too good at the game” after raking in huge sums of money during one session there.

While Jen and Ben were spotted at the casinos together on occasion, it seems that Ben will gamble anywhere and has been involved in a variety of high stakes blackjack games across the country add to this his penchant for alcohol and it seems like it’s just not the life that Jen wants to be living, given the fact that they are parents to three children, so we’re not betting on them getting back together anytime soon.

eCOGRA Offers Approved Player Dispute Resolution

While researching online casinos before you play and selecting trustworthy providers is key to a safe and enjoyable online gaming experience, there may come a time when, as a player, you encounter an issue with a casino that you cannot resolve on your own.

Now, if you’re playing at a casino licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, the London-based, independent online gaming watch dog eCOGRA offers a free dispute resolution service.

The organisation has recently been authorised to operate as an “Alternative Dispute Resolution Service Provider” by the UK Gambling Commission which manages casino licensing and regulation across the British market now that the new Point of Consumption Remote Gambling legislation is in place.

eCOGRA is already a trusted name within the online gaming industry and has been setting and monitoring operational standards while acting as an unofficial, impartial mediator in player disputes with online casinos for over 12 years.

Their new role will see the organisation offer players a free dispute resolution service in an official capacity. This service can be accessed online via the website which is managed by Tex Rees a Clear ADR Accredited Civil and Commercial Mediator with over a decade of experience encompassing over 8,000 disputes involving players at casinos bearing the eCOGRA’s Safe and Fair accredited seal.

Earlier this week, Andrew Beveridge, eCOGRA’s CEO announced that 355 UK Gambling Commission (UKCG) licensed operators had already elected to make use of the organisation’s ADR service, including well-known operators like Betway and the Casino Rewards Group casinos like Casino Action.

He added that eCOGRA had developed a sophisticated software system to aid in the management of expedition of dispute resolution with UKCG licensed casinos, and that this system had harnessed the eCOGRA ADR team’s extensive experience in online gambling mediation processing which means that the majority of disputes are resolved within 72 hours.

Rees added that eCOGRA is used by a number of clients for the casino game testing, and that due to the fact that the organisation had earned a reputation as an approved test house as well as the fact that they performed annual security audits for casino as required by the UKGC they were a natural fit for their new official role.

Furthermore, the company included ADR in their service offering to players as they are aware of how important it is to have an unbiased mediator negotiating issues with operators. On the other hand, from an operator’s perspective, it is equally important that the company offers a full suite of services involving independent third parties as required by UKGC regulations.

Judge orders Atlantic City gamblers who won $1.5M to return their winnings

Golden Nugget Casino

Imagine playing your favourite game at a casino and realizing that a pattern is emerging and you have the potential to clean out the house? What would you do? Up your bet and go for the win?

That’s exactly what players at the Gold Nugget Casinos in Atlantic City did back in 2012 when they discovered that the cards at a Mini-Baccarat table were emerging in a pattern due to the fact that they hadn’t been automatically shuffled by the manufacturer as the Gold Nugget had expected. Upping their hands from $10 a hand to $5000, this lucky bunch ended up winning 41 straight hands.

Litigation against the manufacturer of the playing cards took place and was resolved but a confidentiality agreement keeps both parties from divulging the settlement details.

The case against the players however played out in the courts and recently, the judge determined that due to the fact that the cards were not shuffled by an automatic shuffling machine within the game or by the dealer who obviously believed that they had been pre-shuffled, the games were illegal under state law as they didn’t conform to gambling regulations which specify the way that each casino game should be played, and therefore violated the Casino Control Act.

She ordered the gamblers concerned to return all of the winning paid out to them by the casino as well as any outstanding chips held in their possession, which amounted to a whopping $1.5 million. The Golden Nugget in turn was order to refund the players the money that their initial wagers were placed with.

Of course the Golden Nugget management is pleased with the decision, with the casino’s general manager Tom Pohlman commenting that they were pleased with the court’s decision and felt that it was the right one.

The road to this decision has been a long one and favour between the players and casino has seesawed over the years. Originally, Tillman Fertitta who owns the Golden Nugget Casino decided to allow the players concerned to keep their winnings as long as they dropped other claims made against the casino, which they refused to do, opting to take their chances in court.

The player’s council was not immediately available for comment, but it is expected that they will appeal the judge’s decision in an attempt to hold on to their winnings – $500,000 of which have already been paid out and $1 million of which are held in outstanding chips.

Bets are off for the William Hill takeover of 888

No Deal struck

If you were betting on William Hill succeeding in their £720m takeover bid of 888 Holdings you’ll be disappointed to discover that the deal has dissolved as quickly as it was announced after a spat between 888’s major shareholders caused the deal to collapse.

In an uncharacteristically candid statement, 888 attributed the collapse of the negotiations to “a significant difference in opinion on value with a key stakeholder” – a point that industry insiders had already anticipated could cause problems when the initial talks were announced. While 888 shares had initially soared by 21 percent at the outset of the negotiations, this statement sent them tumbling by almost 20 percent.

888’s original founders, the Ben-Yitzhak and Shaked families who collectively control close to 60 percent of the business, shares are divided into 10.5 percent controlled by the Ben-Yitzhak family, with the other 48 percent being divided between Avi Shaked and the children of his late brother Aaron.

It is reported that all parties with the exception of Avi shaked were for the takeover at 200p per share with an additional 3p dividend. Avi on the other hand was holding out for a price in the region of 300p, even if this resulted in the other shareholders receiving less.

According to sources, William Hill was said to be willing to offer a combination of cash and shares to seal the deal which would have enabled Avi Shaked to remain invested in the combined group. Nevertheless, Shaked was said to have refused in what was described as an “emotional exchange“.

While takeover negotiations in the UK ensure equal treatment of shareholders, this negotiation has been unique due to the fact that 888 is a Gibraltar based operation, which means that normal UK takeover rules do not have to apply.

Significantly, this fact also means that William Hill is not subject to restrictions which would prevent is from returning in 6 months to renegotiate the deal should the various 888 shareholders be able to reach a mutual agreement to sell.

According to those in the know, with the exception of Mr Shaked, the 888 board and key shareholders are eager for the William Hill takeover of 888 to proceed, however this is a company that has been at the centre of deal speculations for over a decade with Ladbrokes previously failing to reach an agreement for takeover on two separate occasions.

William Hill is due to report on its annual results shortly and shareholders will be interested to ascertain whether or not the organization has an alternative plan for 888 going forward. There is also concern that Mr Shaked’s fierce opposition could be used as a bargaining tool which could result in William Hill overpaying for the acquisition of 888.

Only time will tell whether or not a deal will be struck, but from the outset the takeover was thought to be an unlikely one which has posed a number of challenges from the start.

Meanwhile, it’s business as usual at William Hill Casino Club which remains a great place to play online!

William Hill in a bid to acquire 888


William Hill is a renowned name in betting and more recently amongst online casino players who frequently play at William Hill Casino Club, with a reputation spanning decades. Recently it was announced that this gambling powerhouse presented another online casino giant, 888 Holdings with a takeover bid.

The news was first published by The Times newspaper which reported that William Hill had held advanced negotiations with the company over a 750 Million Pound deal as it plans to speed up the expansion of its own online gambling operations. According to the report, a preliminary agreement between the two parties had already been settled at 210 pence per share and of course, news of this deal sent 888 shares soaring by 21 percent, while trading volumes later reached almost five times the stock’s daily average. William Hill shares on the other hand fell 3.5%.

888 later issued a statement confirming that they had in fact been approached by William Hill with a possible takeover offer, but that there was no certainty as to whether or not a definite offer would be made or acceptance thereof would take place.

According to industry sources, the negotiations may be halted due to the fact that one of the 888’s founding members, thought to be of the Shaked family, was asking for 300p per share in order to sell. 888 saw a similar offer by the UK’s other large betting player, Ladbrokes, collapse in 2011 due to pricing shortly after 888 announced a joint business venture with Caesars Entertainment.

Analyst Karl Burns of Panmure Gordon, believes that at 210 pence per share, the deal is already on the higher end of the scale and that it would be highly unlikely that William Hill would raise its offer any further. He further added that this kind of deal would stretch William Hill’s balance sheet to such an extent that they may be required to raise capital, and as such, would make it unlikely to be passed.

Due to tax and regulation increasing across the industry’s largest market sectors, gambling and casino operators are now seeking accelerated growth in order to attract more customers to their various online casinos and sports books.

In November of 2014 Bwin.Party was said to be considering a range of offers from interested parties and appointed Deutsche Bank to handle the negotiations. To date, no announcements have been made.

Only time will tell whether or not William Hill will take over 888 holdings, but if they do, they will be the most powerful online gambling company of all time, and whether or not that will be a good thing remains to be seen.

Gauselmann withdraws Lord Shiva Slot

In December 2014 the Gauselmann Group came under heavy fire from religious leaders of all denominations after the release of their Shiva Slot, which depicted images of the Hindu deity and various religious paraphernalia.

Complaints were headed by Rajan Zed of the Universal Society of Hinduism who claimed that the Shiva online slot was insensitive to Hindu followers and demanded that the slot be withdrawn. Interestingly, Christian, Buddhist and Jewish religious leaders agreed and added their voices to the dissent surrounding the slot release.

Towards the end of the month, the Gauselmann Group withdrew the slot from the market and issued an apology stating that they understood the confusion and irritation that the slot had caused and as such had withdrawn it from their slots portfolio. They added that it had never been the intention to trivialise or insult the religious beliefs of Hindus and committed to be even more diligent to the design and designation of their games in future.

Accepting the apology on behalf of the Hindu community, Zed thanked the Gauselmann Group for being sympathetic to the concerns of the worldwide Hindu community, but advised that global corporations do more to educate their senior executives in religious and cultural sensitivity.

While this seems to be a win for religious leaders across the globe, the question that has been raised is whether or not this will it set a precedent for online casino software providers to steer clear of everything to do with gods and religion? If so it would seem that player favourites like Thunderstruck and Zeus would have to be withdrawn out of respect for those worshiping the ancient Greek gods. It’s quite an interesting subject and one that is sure to be the topic of much debate.

Shiva Themed Slot Causes Interfaith Uproar

shiva slot
The infamous Shiva Slot has caused an
interfaith uproar

Germany company, the Gauselman Group found itself at the centre of an uproar recently after its Merkur Division of Espelkamp (Germany) released its latest 5 reel, 20 line online slot entitled “Shiva” which depicts the blue, red lipped, four-armed Hindu deity Lord Shiva carrying the damru in one hand, along with symbols of a cobra, monkey and the Taj Mahal across the reels. The slot invites players to “Step into the realm of the god Shiva and experience an exciting adventure“.

While the theme may have seemed like a great idea that should have mass appeal given that Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world with approximately a billion devotees across the globe, Hindu leaders and followers are up in arms about what they deem to be an offensive use of their god and religious iconography.

Interestingly, they are not the only ones protesting Gauselmann’s latest game release – Christian, Buddhist and Jewish religious leaders are also adding their support to the foray, calling the slot “highly inappropriate” and are supporting the protests calling for the slot to be recalled.

From the comments it seems that the leaders are uniting against all use of religious iconography in slots. Reverend L Smith, past of the United Church of Christ in Nevada (USA), commented that he could understand why Hindus were offended by the use of their god to promote slot machines, adding that Roman soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ clothing and he (Smith) would also be offended if the name of Jesus was attached to a gambling product. He urged the Gauselmann Group to find a more respectful approach.

Likewise, Jewish Rabbi, Elizabeth W Beyer of California issued a statement insisting that the group stop using deities revered by millions of Hindus, adding that the use of religious iconography necessitated respectful and thoughtful use rather than being trivialized in a game.

Renowned Buddhist leader Jikai’ Phil Bryan also issued a statement stressing that the game’s use of lord Shiva and other Hindu religious symbols and iconography was wholly inappropriate and should be discontinued.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed welcomed the support of the various religious leaders, urging Gauselmann AG and its chairman Paul Gauselmann to issue a public apology and recall the slot due the fact that Shiva is part of the Hindu triad of deities and should in Zed’s opinion be worshipped in temples or home shrines rather than being used to promote gambling on slots at casinos in order to earn profits for an international company.

To date the Gauselmann Group and its Merkur Gaming division have yet to comment on or respond to the statements and protests.

Gambling like Rock Star isn’t always what you’d think


be one of the world’s wealthiest rock stars but that doesn’t meant that Bono always acts like one or goes as big at the casinos as one might expect. In fact, in a recent interview with Mojo Magazine, the U2 frontman revealed quite the opposite on a visit to a casino in Monte Carlo.

To the writers surprise, Bono asked the Pit Boss to direct his party which included his U2 band members, to the cheapest table at the casino and proceeded to limit his as well as his band members gambling spend to a mere $125 each. Delighted, U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jnr. told the journalist that if he didn’t include that request in his article he would kill him.

In spite of having a reported $600m net worth, Bono remains thrifty when it comes to his gambling activities, something those close to him seem to find rather amusing. According to the interviewer, Bono enjoys taking his chances at the Blackjack and Roulette tables, and will happily pick up the tab for his party as long as everyone joins him in limiting their bets to a total of $125 or €100 each.

And that wasn’t just a one time gag for the sake of adding interest to the interview. In the past he famously handed billionaire Bill Gates an envelope containing €100 when the mogul joined him at a casino. Gates was apparently more than a little underwhelmed at Bono’s gesture, and responded “what must I do with this?“- Which Bono of course found highly entertaining.

Bono’s responsible gambling habits in setting limits and sticking, as well as not betting more than he is willing to lose, are lessons we can all learn from and are what make him the casual type of gambler that everyone can aspire to being. After all if someone with a multi-million dollar fortune can do, so can you and the next time you say you’re going to gamble like a rock star, do so with Bono in mind and you’ll find it’s a whole lot more bankroll friendly.