The big question going around the water cooler at Nevada-based casinos is, “Are we back?” The state just published official documents showcasing its annual revenue for 2011 and it is the second year in a row that it has gone up. Analysts were also quick to point that these results are not just reliant on Baccarat play, the popular casino game that lifted this industry’s performance throughout the recession.
Throughout the state, the casinos collected over $10 billion in casino gaming revenues in 2011. This is a 2.8 percent increase over the total in 2010, as well as the biggest jump for the Nevada industry in four years.
On the Las Vegas Strip alone, casino gaming revenues went up by 5.1 percent. These casinos made $6.068 billion. It was the first time the casinos along the Strip made over $6 billion since 2008.
Subtracting the Baccarat figures from the mix, casinos throughout Nevada had a 2.4 boost in casino gaming revenue, which has not been seen since the year 2007.
Michael Lawton, a senior research analyst over at Gaming Control Board said that this is a very broad recovery. While it is not double digits, it is steady and gradually climbing, which is what casinos want to see.
The highest amount of revenue earned in 2010 did not come from Baccarat but actually slot machines. In 2011, casinos in Nevada saw their revenues increase by 1.5 percent from all slot machine wagering. In 2010, revenues from slot machines were actually down by 2.7 percent
So the question is again, is Nevada back on the scene?
Chad Beynon, a gaming analyst for Macquarie Securities said that these numbers are a very good indication that spending is growing. Joe Greff, a gaming analyst for JP Morgan noted that it is the belief that JP Morgan’s Nevada casino gradual recovery thesis will remain intact going into 2012.
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On Friday, January 27, a floor collapsed at the site of a brand new casino being erected in Cincinnati, Ohio, sending a number of workers sliding into the ground. There is at least one worker with serious injuries and more than a dozen more who were hurt.
The floor collapsed before 8:00 A.M. as the crew was starting to pour some concrete into a section of the floor of what will be the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati. The co-developer Rock Gaming LLC, Steve Rosenthal, mentioned that this incident occurred weeks after an accident of a similar variety occurred at a casino being built in Cleveland by the same exact developers.
At the time of the news conference, Rosenthal said that they were not able to determine what was the cause of the floor collapse and was still investigating.
Inspectors from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) are working alongside with local investigators to see what caused the accident. Developers are saying that work will not resume on the construction site until all the authorities are saying that it is safe to go back to work.
This new casino is under development by Rock Gaming LLC in a partnership with developer Caesar’s Entertainment. This is the same exact team that was supported a casino project in Cleveland when the garage on the site partially collapsed mid-December. A section of the garage’s parking deck gave way as concrete was then being poured. Luckily, no one was injured.
Rosenthal is stating that there is no connection what-so-ever between both collapses, other than both taking place in Ohio. The construction management companies on the projects are different; as well there are different contractors as well as different areas and sites. Also, the concrete pouring as on schedule and there was no acceleration within the schedule.
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An independent research firm, Spectrum Gaming Group, that services a number of clients, both public-sector and private-sector around the world, listed some of the top trends to be monitored in 2012 in regards to the worldwide casino industry. Here are some of the top trends:
- New casino plans for 2012 will emphasize mid-scale, sensible sizes and design as all gaming companies begin to emphasize a return on investment in the current soft economy.
- A number of major gaming operators in the United States are going to continue to scout undeserved international markets, such as Asia, for the development of new major gaming resorts.
- Land-based casinos in the United States are going to continue to prepare for capitalization of internet poker when it is finally made legal in the country. When legalization does occur, a number of offshore operators will be eager to sign deals with land-based casinos in the United States.
- Social networking websites and electronic gaming are quickly heading up to be the “next big thing” in casino gaming.
- Competition throughout Las Vegas is going to continue to accelerate within the local markets as the housing and employment markets remain weak. Meanwhile, casino operators along the strip are going to push their focus on property enhancements and debt restructuring rather than consolidation and new developments.
- Legalization of gambling in states like New Hampshire, Kentucky, and other states reluctant to start building casinos, may push to fruition as these states are looking for additional revenue streams to boost their state’s economy. On the flip side, states where there is limited casino gaming will pursue opportunities for expansion, such as states like New York and Florida.
- There will continue to be an increase in regional casino competition as slot parlors, racinos, as well as Native American Casinos continue to expand and provide additional upscale amenities. This will place additional pressure on destination casino resort cities, such as Atlantic City and Las Vegas.
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On November 22, 2011, the European country of Serbia adopted their own set of gambling laws. The objective of these laws is to decrease the total number of various illegal operators in the country, and combat money laundering – a problem in Serbia that is tied to online gambling.
JAKTA, the trade association in Serbia, welcomed in this new legislation and had a meeting with the Serbian Gaming Board right after it was passed. JAKTA remains optimistic and believes they were quite thorough during their relevant fact gathering mission. They believed it was important to research the gaming marketplace to come up with their facts. JAKTA met with a number of testing partners and compared various regulatory models throughout the European Union. In the end JAKTA retained information to lobby in the Serbian government for a market that is well-regulated.
The Serbian Gaming Board’s director stated that the inclusion of these new gambling laws will aid in successfully opening up the entire online gaming market to Serbia. The laws address three key issues for Serbia – how to control online gaming, electronically operating all online gambling operators, and streamlining taxation throughout the industry.
Recently, it has been extremely difficult for any legitimate gambling operator in Serbia to compete for a place in the market due to the large black market for this industry. For the previous five years, the black market has held onto the reigns of the majority share of the online gambling industry. The new laws just created will provide the Serbian Gaming Board with the ability to punish illegal operators (who at this time outnumber legitimate operators 2:1). Tax authorities as well as Serbia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs will aid the Serbian Gaming Board with enforcing the new laws that work toward a promotion of a legal online casino industry with fair taxation and player protection.
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A new advisory board headed in Washington D.C. for online gambling was recently formed by Tom Ridge, the former Secretary of Homeland Security, Parry Aftab, an internet safety expert, and Greg Raymer, a well known professional poker player. These three men have stood up to say that while they completely support the stance of Congress in relation to illegal internet gambling, they are very determined to ensure that online gambling is secure and safe for all players in the United States who enjoy playing poker and other casino games online for money.
While FairPlay USA has stated that the fully support the definition of illegal online gambling by Congress and will enforce the regulations, the advisory board has noted that they will be providing a new framework that can assist in creating strict regulatory laws when it comes to online poker. Numerous members of the consumer protection agency, law enforcement field, gaming industry as well as professional poker players have come out to support FairPlay USA.
The first action of this advisory board is to petition the Congress to further crack down on all illegal offshore gambling websites and start establishing strict regulation for online gambling in the United States with a strong focus on safety and integrity. This comes in response to the numerous Americans that enjoy online gambling and want to legally gamble online for money in the United States. FairPlay USA believes that with strict regulation of online gambling websites, it will be safe for Americans rather than gambling illegal through offshore gambling websites.
There are three main areas of concern FairPlay USA is looking to address. These areas include law enforcement in regards to illegal and unregulated casino websites, child protection, as well as the various rights associated with adult poker players and their ability to enjoy online casino on a regulated and secure website.
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Canadian online poker players are feeling the brunt of all the issues raising big questions revolving about opportunities to continue participation in both online and live poker events. First of all, Canadians who were customers at Full Tilt Power will get caught up in the continuing problems surrounding the licensing troubles of the website. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) decision in June to review the Secondary Client Provider Authorization of Full Tilt Poker will establish if the company can continue their license in Canada.
Furthermore, the Quebec Poker Tournament League is being forced to stop all its activities because of a current legal action brought to Canada’s Superior Court, following the dispute between state-run Loto-Quebec and the Quebec Poker Tournament League.
Currently, the Quebec Poker Tournament League has approximately 40,000 members. While the league does maintain a partnership with Loto-Quebec in regards to Quebec’s online interest – espacejeux.com, this partnership is in danger of falling apart. This occurred after the Quebec Poker Tournament League published a statement on their official website that was related to a possible dispute over missing service payments and sponsorship by Loto-Quebec.
In response to these allegations, Loto-Quebec started legal action, citing that the statement caused damage to Loto-Quebec’s reputation. It is currently claiming $175,00o CAD (approximately $184,599 USD at the time this post was written) from the Quebec Poker Tournament League and its owner, French Canadian Andre Boyer. Boyer is known for his 2005 bracelet win at the World Series of Poker $3,000 No Limit Texas Hold’em event.
Boyer, a Quebec poker playing pro, is best known for doing World Series of Poker commentary on channel Reseau Des Sports (RDS) from 2003 to 2008. He is also the major hand behind the establishment of the Canadian National Poker Tournament League.
At this time, Loto-Quebec said it would not make any statements regarding the claim until a decision has been reached by the Superior Court.
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When the United States Federal Government and the Department of Justice when on a rampage on April 15 and shut down the four main online poker websites, numerous professional online poker players lost their main source of income. More than 50,000 men and women were left without jobs or income to support themselves as well as their families. Many online poker players decided to pack up their entire lives and move up north to Canada where online poker playing is legal. Other online poker players made the switch to playing in poker tournaments at brick-and-mortar casino establishments. However, this has been quite a large adjustment for many poker players and many have not seen the kind of profits they did when they played online.
Online poker players became very familiar with styles of playing online and the different online poker rooms. Now many of them are traveling far distances to enter into poker tournaments. However, many are only playing a few hands and finding the atmosphere more depressing and less profitable due to the commute to the casino as well as room and board during the period of the tournament.
However, those looking to move to the United States’ neighbor to the north are finding a number of problems when trying to maintain their online poker presence. Many are actually getting stopped along the Canadian border because they have listed “online poker player” as their profession on their work visa. A number of countries are making it rather hard for these people to move to other countries due to the anti-online gambling laws the United States have in place. With the future of online gambling very unsure in the United States, many are filing for unemployment and/or looking for other things they are good at to obtain employment until the laws against online casinos possibly change.
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In a new Scottish study, users’ behavior on Facebook is being compared to gambling addiction. This pronouncement has come as a shock to the public, including many Facebook users, as gambling addiction is a serious condition that most people dread.
The research was conducted in Scotland by college students. According to the students’ professor, Dr. Bea, Facebook members use the site in patterns comparable to how gambling addicts gamble. This anxiety that Facebook provokes is similar to how a gambling addicts may feel when they play at a casino.
The researchers found similarities between the anxiety levels of Facebook users and gambling addicts to be similar when they were not using Facebook or gambling. The study focused on Facebook users whose usage habits were structured around using the site to build their social networks.
The research has been criticized by some addiction researchers. One symptom of gambling addition is always to have a sense of missing out on some big jackpot when not playing, and experts argue about whether one can actually become addicted to Facebook. Many believe that being an addict is much more complex and that, just as most people can drink alcohol without losing control, while alcoholics lack this ability, only a small subset of the population can not handle using Facebook in a “normal” way.
The study hasn’t made much of an impact on the gambling addicts or on Facebook users, most of whom are thoroughly devoted to social networking. Addiction experts do say, however, that it is possible for addicts to get addicted to anything, even to Facebook.
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An ongoing investigation held by the Australian Federal Police has revealed an international cocaine trafficking network. Some of the alleged traffickers have been arrested, including professional poker and blackjack players.
Three men have been formally charged before the Melbourne Chief Magistrate with trafficking cocaine: David Saab, 37; Darren Francis Hughes, 27; and Robert Alan Remeeus, 27. They have so far declined to talk with investigators and also remained silent during their hearing.
The accused were caught with 22 kilograms of high grade cocaine worth over $4 million AUD. The cocaine was hidden in machinery parts that had been shipped from Vancouver, Canada. A joint narcotics task force had allowed the suspects to collect their packages before making the arrests.
All three of the men are part of an internationally known group of poker players, sports handicappers, casino hustlers and blackjack players called the “SAAB Squad.” They frequently participate in high profile casino tournaments held in America and Europe. The leader of the group, David Saab (aka ZanderFish), is a renowned high stakes poker player, hustler in casino games and blackjack pro. He has also participated in the televised WSOP Main Event, finishing in 46th place. Mr. Hughes is a famous online poker tournament player who has won over $50k this January in online poker tournaments. If convicted, they could face up to 25 years in a maximum security prison.
It is rumored that the three men were involved in Australian organized crime, forming a link to Colombian FARC rebels when the SAAB Squad were playing high stakes games in underground casinos all over the world.
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A man and a woman meet and fall in love at the poker table after 60 years of living as singles. What are the odds of that?
Jeff Zuckerman and his wife, Patty Kruger Zuckerman, met playing poker. They didn’t have any idea that they would hit the love jackpot when playing at the casino. “She’s the only thing I’ve ever won at the poker table,” says Jeff, 62.
Jeff who had retired in 2004 from managing an accounting department in New York, moved to southern Florida in 2005, shortly after his mother’s death. Patty, also 62, had been engaged in her youth, but sadly never married due to the sudden death of her fiancé. They met casually during a Friday morning poker game at the Isle Casino & Racing in Pompano Beach. They played at the max $4 table and were in a group who did lunches after playing at the casino.
Jeff says, “She realized it before I did. But I guess if you keep going to the buffet and bringing back the same things on your plate, there might be something there.”
Patty said she kept throwing hints, “Like, ‘oh, next time you’re in Boca stop by.’ Finally another player said, ‘Don’t you two think it’s time to go out already?’”
As they both didn’t cook, they went out to get something to eat together in June 2009. Three weeks later, they were engaged to be married, and their wedding was four months after that.
“I wasn’t avoiding it. In fact I was hoping it would happen, but never in a million years at a poker table,” Jeff says. “If this is my reward for doing good, thank God. When you’re resigned to a lifetime alone…”
Last year they spent Valentine’s Day playing cards at the casino. Now that they’re married, of course, they can stay in on a rainy day and play video poker or other casino games at the online casino of their choice.
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