11/23/2012

Australian and international gaming, business and interactive entertainment news

Australian and international gaming, business and interactive entertainment news: Crown Limited; Echo Entertainment, IGT, Virgin Games, Aussie Millions, Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, WWE, THQ, Marvel Entertainment, Disney, Warner Bros and more...Media Man reports


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Contender in Echo Entertainment CEO race drops out: report...


An undisclosed senior United States casino executive has emerged as the frontrunner to replace departing Echo Entertainment Group Ltd chief executive Larry Mullin after frontrunner Grant Bowie reportedly pulled out of the selection process, according to News Limited owned newspaper The Australian.

The New Zealand-raised Mr Bowie is president of US giant MGM Grand's Macau operations, and was seen as an ideal candidate given his record in Australia while working with Park Place Entertainment and Asian experience.

With Mr Mullin set to depart the company January 31, Echo is expected to name his replacement by the end of the year.

Marina Bay Sands casino head Andrew MacDonald and Skycity Entertainment's Nigel Morrison had been named as candidates, and the leading internal candidate is Echo chief financial officer Matt Bekler, according to The Australian newspaper.


IGT debuts trio of mobile slots...

American computerised gaming equipment and systems designer and manufacturer International Game Technology (IGT) has released mobile versions for three of its most popular slots.

Las Vegas-based IGT stated that Elvis: A Little More Action, Wolf Run and Kitty Glitter have been ‘optimised for the industry’s fastest growing sector’ and are now ready for users of iOS and Android-enabled smartphones and tablet devices to enjoy via its remote game server Casino series.

“The size of the mobile market is expanding by the day and a selection of superior branded content and consistently high performing games helps make IGT a driving force behind this growth,” said Leigh Nissim, Interactive Commercial Director for IGT. “Choosing the right casino game supplier in the world of mobile gaming is crucial [and] our experience, expertise and compliance record at IGT is second to none.”

Elvis: A Little More Action is a 50-payline slot with stacked wilds that features audio from one of Elvis Presley’s most recognisable tunes, A Little Less Conversation. It also offers players up to 255 free spins via its Free Spins Bonus. IGT described the 40-payline Wolf Run and the 30-payline Kitty Glitter slots as two of its ‘all-time best performers’ and revealed that the mobile new versions come complete with the titles’ expected free spins bonuses.


Three New Games Launch on Virgin Mobile Casino...

Virgin Games, the leading online gaming company, has today announced the release of three new mobile games - Elvis, Kitty Glitter and Wolf Run. All are by leading game developer, IGT, and will be available exclusively at Virgin Mobile Casino.

Virgin Mobile Casino, which now accounts for more than 10 per cent of Virgin Games' gross revenue, was launched in December of 2011 to offer a range of slots, table and instant win games. It currently has content partnerships with both IGT and Microgaming, with the intention of introducing additional partners later down the line in order to offer the same variety and choice through the Mobile app as customers experience at the web based Casino.

Joshua Morris, Commercial Director at Virgin Games, commented: "The three latest mobile games to be added to Virgin Mobile Casino continue the trend of bringing our best games from the web onto mobile. We are already seeing 10% of our gross revenues come from Mobile in less than a year since launch and with the addition of top titles such as those launched today we are strengthening our position as a multi-game aggregator."

Virgin Games has attached its single wallet system to the new mobile product, meaning its players use the same account to play at Virgin Casino, Virgin Bingo, Virgin Poker and now mobile casino. Customers can register, manage their account, play for bonuses, deposit and withdraw seamlessly, whether they are on the web or on the move. Launched in 2004, Virgin Games is one of the UK's leading online gaming sites.


Aussie Millions Poker Tournament coming up...

The Aussie Millions (Jan 17th – 3rd Feb): Held at the awesome Crown Casino, the average temperature in Melbourne in January is about 26 degrees. Not only that the tournament runs at the same time as the Australian Open Tennis. Sweet!


PKR Gains Five Millionth User; 3-D Online Poker Room Hits Milestone After Seven Years...

PKR, the 3-D online poker room, has registered its five millionth user. The website was launched in 2006.

Simon Prodger, marketing director for the company, said, “We’re delighted to hit this major milestone, and we look forward to continuing to welcome more and more poker players from around the world to PKR.

“We have a range of marketing initiatives and product developments scheduled for launch in 2013 that we’re sure will continue to grow the PKR brand, including new TV advertising campaigns and the eagerly-awaited launch of our first mobile poker product.”

The company, which is hosting the upcoming World Poker Tour Dublin event, recently told the E-Gaming Review newsroom that it had launched a seven figure investment prospectus.

PKR told the industry magazine it had been unofficially searching for an investor for two years and it was not ruling out a sale.


Crown Limited sweet tax deal?

In Australia, Crown Ltd.’s controversial ‘unsolicited proposal’ to build a second casino in Sydney won’t be of much benefit to the taxpayer, according to ex Citigroup analyst and current independent research consultant Jenny Owen. Crown’s plan is for an international VIP-focused casino, meaning the applicable tax rate would be 10%, about one-third the rate applied to other gambling revenue, like most of the action going on down the street at Sydney’s existing casino, The Star. Ms. Owen told the Sydney Morning Herald this made for "a very attractive business model, certainly one that I would have thought would go to public tender and should attract a reasonably significant license premium. Clearly that doesn’t appear to be the case.". Time will tell as "It sure looks like the casino - hotel will be going ahead" according to a Media Man gaming spokesperson.


Online Gaming Execs Respond to Detention of bwin.party CEO...

Leaders of the world’s top online gaming firms are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. In response to last Tuesday’s detainment of bwin.party co-CEO Norbert Teufelberger in Brussels, Belgium, 14 executives from 12 internet gambling companies penned a public letter to the Financial Times saying that enough is enough when it comes to European Union (EU) countries ignoring EU law.

To recap, Teufelberger was set to make the closing remarks at Responsible Gaming Day, put on by the European and Betting and Gaming Association (EGBA), of which he is Chairman, when he was detained by Belgian police. The authorities reportedly kept him for two hours (he was allowed to make his speech first), questioning him about bwin.party’s activities in Belgium.

bwin.party has found itself on the short end of extremely strict Belgian gaming regulations, which, among other things, require online poker operators to have a brick-and-mortar presence in the country in order to be granted an online gaming license. Only six operators – PokerStars.be, Poker770.be, Partouche.be, Win2day, GoldenPalace.be, and Unibet – have received licensed. To make matters worse, some of bwin.party’s websites have been put on the Belgian Gaming Commission’s (BGC) blacklist. Despite the blacklist status, bwin.party has continued to operate in Belgium.

While Belgium’s regulations may be cut and dry, they are not without controversy. bwin.party, as well as other gaming companies and organizations, feel they run contrary to EU law and have been fighting them for several years.

Norbert Teufelberger himself was one of the 14 executives to sign the letter to the Financial Times, along with co-CEO Jim Ryan. The others were:

Michael Carlton – CEO, Victor Chandler International Denise Coates and John Coates – Joint CEOs, bet365 St├ęphane Courbit – President, Betclic Everest Group Canel Frichet – CEO, Winamax Noel Hayden – Managing Director, Gamesys Denis Kelly – CEO, Stan James Brian Mattingly – CEO, 888 Holdings Andrew McIver – CEO, Sportingbet Magnus Silfverberg – CEO, Betsson Ralph Topping – CEO, William Hill Ed Ware – CEO, 32Red

In the letter, which was posted at FT.com, the executives expressed their resentment towards both the EU Belgian law enforcement, saying, “While the Belgian authorities are free to intimidate Europe’s leading online gaming groups with threats about the consequences of challenging their domestic gambling laws, the European Commission has yet to receive an answer to its own concerns regarding the regulatory regime in Belgium that have remained unresolved since issuing its detailed opinion back in 2009.”

The letter reminded the Financial Times’ readers of the complaints against Belgium two years ago, quoting the head of the European Commission, Michel Barnier, from 2010 , “’…ensuring compliance of national law with the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) is a prerequisite of a successful EU policy on online gambling…if blatant infringements persist, I will not hesitate to propose to my colleagues that the appropriate proceedings be taken or relaunched.’”

The letter concluded, “We hope that the commission will now enforce compliance with the European treaty and do so swiftly. Countries such as Belgium and Greece that are in clear breach of EU law and that are seeking to enforce those laws domestically are likely to be at the top of the list. The time for polite rhetoric is now over. It is time for deeds not words.” (Poker News Daily)

THQ being sued by tattoo artist...

Chris Escobedo, creator and owner of Elite Tattoo, has sued THQ because one of his tattoos has been used by the developer in their game, UFC Undisputed 3 without his consent.

His tattoo, a lion, has been used on the arms of current welterweight champion of UFC Carlos Condit in the game. Escobedo claims that THQ never came to him to seek permission to use the tattoo in the game.

People often believe that they own the images that are tattooed on them by tattoo artists,” said Escobedo’s lawyer Maria Crimi. “In reality, the owner of the tattoo artwork is the creator of the work, unless there is a written assignment of the copyright in the tattoo art.”

Escobedo said: “I would not have agreed to the recreation of the tattoo by an animator.”

Well, it certainly is a violation of the copyrights, as silly as it may seem.

"WWE ’13" receives rave reviews from video game gurus..

“WWE ’13,” available in stores now, gives WWE fans the most seamless, realistic and exciting WWE video game experience to date. With the new addition of WWE Live, enhanced Predator Technology and an enormous Creation Suite and talent roster based on the Attitude Era, it’s no surprise that “WWE ’13” is a hit with reviewers. Look at what some of the leading reviewers have to say about “WWE ’13” and pick up your copy today!

IGN Review score: 8.4 out of 10 “At its core, ‘WWE ’13’ continues last year’s legacy with already solid gameplay refined via a few new moves. Aptly named OMG Moments let you tackle opponents through barricades and break the ring with top-rope suplexes, while the creation suite has been slightly upgraded with improved arena types that should facilitate better community creations.” (MORE)

Game Informer Review score: 9 out of 10 “I’ve always pointed to 2000’s WWE No Mercy as the best wrestling game I’ve ever played, but nostalgia is certainly a factor in that. After playing ‘WWE ’13,’ I’m hard pressed to think of a more enjoyable and complete wrestling game in history.”

Official XBOX Magazine Review score: 8 out of 10 “Of particular note is the game’s superb single-player experience, which should serve as the foundation for all future endeavors. If anything, the smart objective design and use of archival WWE footage makes us want more.”

AtomicGamer Review score: 8 out of 10

Bleacher Report Review score: 8 out of 10

Canadian Online Gamers Review score: 85/100

Click Online Review score: 4.5 out of 5

GamesBeat Review score: 86/100

GamesRadar Review score: 4 out of 5

IRB Gamer Review score: 4.5 out of 5

PlayStation Official Magazine – UK Review score: 80/100

RTV Review Score: 4 out of 5

TotallyGN Review score: 8 out of 10

Disney honors Black Friday in Avengers Alliance, Gardens of Time et al...

When it comes to the biggest shopping day of the year, Disney ain't playin' no games ... or something like that. The company's social gaming arm has lots planned for Black Friday in its most popular Facebook games, namely a number of enticing deals for in-game boosts and items for Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Gardens of Time, Ghosts of Mistwood and Blackwood & Bell Mysteries.

Each game will offer reduced prices on in-game currency in addition to specific offers for in-game goodies. Here's the list of the delectable deals straight from Disney and Playdom:

Marvel: Avengers Alliance: Starting Nov. 23, Mockingbird will be on sale for all players until Nov. 26. Mockingbird was originally only available as the ultimate reward for achieving 15 mastery stars in the first Special Operation, but starting on Black Friday, players will have four days to recruit this secretive S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent from the Heroes section and get her before she is gone.

Ghosts of Mistwood: From Black Friday through Cyber Monday on Nov. 26, the hit Facebook game, Ghosts of Mistwood, will be having a special Black Friday bundle sale to help players solve the mysteries of Mistwood Estate. Players can gobble up lantern oil, coins, special ingredients and a Limited Special Stardust Relic for a limited time in the Market and at a festive price.

Gardens of Time: For Disney Social Games' super sales weekend, Gardens of Time players will be able to purchase any of the in-game gold decoration items at a discount when sending them to their friends. That's over 100 items discounted for this offer.

Blackwood and Bell & Threads of Mystery: Two more amazing hidden object games from Disney Social Games, Blackwood and Bell & Threads of Mystery, will be having sales on in game gold. Players need to head on over to take advantage of these limited time Black Friday Sales.


Tolkien's estate sues over Hobbit gambling games...

JRR Tolkien's estate is suing the makers of The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies for allegedly overstepping their merchandising rights by making gambling games based on the books' characters.

Tolkien's family and publisher HarperCollins are suing Warner Brothers, its subsidiary New Line Cinema and Saul Zaentz for $80 million.

In papers filed in a Los Angeles court, they accuse the defendants of copyright infringement and breach of contract.

They say the companies are entitled to develop and sell only tangible merchandise such as clothes, figurines and stationery, not downloadable video and gambling games.

The Tolkien estate has asked for an injunction on such products, which it claims have caused irreparable damage to the author's legacy and reputation.

"Not only does the production of gambling games patently exceed the scope of defendants' rights, but this infringing conduct has outraged Tolkien's devoted fan base, causing irreparable harm to Tolkien's legacy and reputation and the valuable goodwill generated by his works," the lawsuit stated. The suit claimed Warner Brothers has earned millions of dollars from legal merchandise licensing revenue related to The Lord of the Rings trilogy of films, which have grossed nearly $3 billion at the global box office.

Representatives for Warner Brothers, Tolkien's estate and HarperCollins were not immediately available for comment.

The lawsuit comes a week ahead of the New Zealand premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of a new trilogy of films returning to Tolkien's world of elves, goblins and wizards of Middle Earth, based on the Lord of the Rings prequel novel, The Hobbit.


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11/15/2012

Online gamer bwin.party defends stance in Belgian licence row - 14th November 2012

Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment legal news...


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Online gamer bwin.party defends stance in Belgian licence row...


Online gaming company bwin.party digital entertainment PLC defended its actions today after Belgian authorities questioned its co-CEO for two hours in an escalating dispute over licences.

Co-CEO Norbert Teufelberger has now left Belgium, after the authorities took advantage of his presence at a conference to summon him for questioning on Tuesday.

"The request to attend the interview arose from the Belgium Gambling Commission's view that bwin.party was in breach of the country's gambling legislation," the company said in a statement.

"Bwin.party maintains the position that it is acting and has always acted in compliance with applicable laws," it added, saying it planned further talks with the Belgian gambling authorities.

The case brings into sharp focus the risks faced by companies in the growing online gaming sector that operate in countries where regulations are either unclear or restrictive.

Bwin, the world's largest listed online gaming group, is in dispute with Belgium over licences, and access to three of its websites has been blocked this year.

The company says the ban is costing it 700,000 euro ($1 million) per month in revenues.

Bwin.party says rules in Belgium do not comply with European law.

"We have been at the forefront of regulatory change in Europe for several years and we have licences in Gibraltar, Alderney, Denmark, France, Germany (Schleswig-Holstein), Italy and Spain," Teufelberger and co-CEO Jim Ryan said.

"We continue to strive for a regulatory framework in European Member States that is compliant with EU law."


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11/07/2012

Australian casino king James Packer defends Sydney casino bid process; Entering virgin territory

Australia's casino king has grand plans for another Sydney land based casino / hotel, but Media Man discovers that not quite everyone is as positive as Team Packer, but Australian news media and political types seem to be closely coming around to JP's line of business thinking...

The Media Man agency has another in depth report on the Australian casino, gaming, tourism and property wars.

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Australian casino king James Packer defends Sydney casino bid process; Entering virgin territory...



Tycoon James Packer has defended the way he and the New South Wales Government have gone about securing a second Sydney casino at a new harbour-side development.

Recently the New South Wales Government gave a preliminary tick of approval for the casino-hotel proposal at the Barangaroo site.

The Government says any new casino will not be allowed to start operation until 2019 because of an exclusivity arrangement with Star Casino.

And the project will not go out to tender - although Mr Packer insists he would have won any tender had it been conducted.

Recently Packer told a business dinner in Sydney that he was not just interested in making money, but wanted to build something "special" on the site at Barangaroo.

"I spent a lot of time in casinos as a kid with my dad, and I ended up thinking, f***, this must be a good business," he said.

"My dad was a lot smarter than I am and a lot more successful than I'll ever be, but he got his adrenalin rushes from going to a casino.

"That's the customer that we want. And there are a lot people out there who can afford it, and who you're selling adrenalin to, and they're happy to pay for that experience."

Mr Packer and his gaming company Crown Limited are having an especially good run of luck.

He says the latest project has been given the preliminary tick not because of lobbying, but because it is a really good idea.

This is more than just about money for me. My dad was a larger-than-life figure and I think this is my chance to do something that is special.

"The Labor Party and the Liberal Party were prepared to look at this – or the Labor Party especially – in a bipartisan manner and Premier O'Farrell was willing to say 'let's just do it'," he said.

"There's three stages, and we've got to get through stages two and three ... Premier O'Farrell's made it very clear that we're not done and I don't think we're done, we're a long way from done, but we've had a very good day."

Mr Packer also defended his decision not to wait for a competitive tender process.

"The unsolicited proposal legislation was designed for good ideas and this is a good idea and we took advantage of the legislation that was in place," he said.

"So I think frankly if there was a tender it would be very hard to see how we wouldn't have won it."

So far, the gaming venue has been touted as one that would lure high rollers, especially international tourists, and it would not have pokies.

But Mr Packer says that could change.

"This is not an economic no-brainer," he said.

"You know, there has never been a casino in the world built for a billion dollars without slot machines.

"So we're entering virgin territory, and we're sitting there and saying we'll wait until 2019, as we should."

At the same time as promising to give Sydney an economic kickstart, he says he wants to be the one to leave a legacy in keeping with his father's.

"This is more than just about money for me," he said.

"I am a great believer in Sydney, this country has been incredibly kind to my family, this city has been incredibly kind to my family.

"My dad was a larger-than-life figure and I think this is my chance to do something, you know, that is special."


Build new casino over water says Paul Keating...

The new hotel and casino at Barangaroo should be built over the water so it becomes an iconic landmark, former prime minister Paul Keating said yesterday.

He called on Premier Barry O'Farrell to reverse his decision for the Barangaroo Hotel to be erected on solid ground, blaming it on "Clover Moore, Darling Island residents and The Sydney Morning Herald".

That decision had led to Barangaroo builders Lend Lease being given a bigger hotel which requires the city's second casino to fund it.

Mr Keating said the compensation was forced because Lend Lease already had a contract with the government to have a hotel on the water and Mr O'Farrell broke that contract. (Full story at The Daily Telegraph)


Packer rural estate added to licence pitch: report...

The Business Spectator reports...The Packer family's Ellerston country estate is be included as part of Crown Ltd's pitch to secure Sydney's second casino licence for its Barangaroo development, The Australian Financial Review reports.

According to the newspaper, Crown chairman James Packer said the inclusion of the New South Wales rural property, with its golf course and polo complex, would be a unique tourist offering.

“If we are successful with the project, Crown will attempt to build an airstrip at Ellerston and purchase brand new seaplanes to fly our guests from Rose Bay straight to the property,” Mr Packer said.

The news of the Ellerston complex's inclusion comes on the back of Mr Packer's comments that high-end attractions are vital to attracting visitors to Australian resorts.


Plenty of celebs but no Echo in Crown marquee (Fairfax Media)...

Melbourne newspaper The Age had nice and cheeky write up on the Crown Casino marquee at yesterday's Melboourne Cup. The article reads...

CBD at the Melbourne Cup

Crown Casino's marquee at the Melbourne Cup was just like chairman James Packer - small but perfectly formed.

The trim billionaire spent much of the afternoon deep in conversation with equally lithe bowler of maiden overs Shane Warne, who lends his name to a bar at Packer's Southbank sin pit.

While Packer's wife Erica was by the billionaire's side, there was no sign of Warne's fiancee, actress Liz Hurley.

Others in Crown's tent included ALP hardman turned Crown lobbyist Mark Arbib, and AFL boss Andrew Demetriou, with wife Symone.

While lacking in largeness, Crown's teepee was immaculately carpeted and featured plenty of deep-cushioned furniture, possibly to make sure there wasn't an Echo in the room.

Casino boss Rowen Craigie was keen to get to the mounting yard to check out his horse Sanagas, but he remained downbeat about the nag's chances.

''If it can run in the first six I will be delighted, realistically top 10.''

Sanagas came in 18th.

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11/03/2012

Australian gaming, casino and property wars; James Paker, Crown Limited, Barangaroo...

Australian gaming, casino and property wars; James Packer, Crown Limited; Barangaroo, Zynga, Marvel Entertainment - Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment and much more from 'Sin City' and the land down under...

The Media Man agency has another look at the world famous Australian casino wars.

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Shareholders approve Murdoch buyout of Australia's CMH...

Shareholders in James Packer's majority-owned Consolidated Media Holdings on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly in favour of a US$2 billion takeover by Rupert Murdoch's News Limited.

The deal will see News, the Australian arm of News Corp, emerge with 50 percent control of Foxtel, the country's biggest pay TV operator, and all of Fox Sports. Telecommunications giant Telstra holds the other half of Foxtel.

"At the meeting held today CMH shareholders approved the scheme of arrangement... under which News Pay TV Financing Pty Ltd, a 100 percent owned subsidiary of News Corporation, will acquire all of the shares in CMH," the subscription TV-focused media firm said in a statement.

CMH said 90.13 percent of shareholders present or voting by proxy at the meeting voted in favour of the deal, with 99.91 percent of all votes cast in favour.

It will be taken to the Federal Court of Australia on Friday for formal assent and lodged with the securities regulator the same day, with the intention that trading in CMH's shares cease by the end of that day.

CMH said the deal, which has already been cleared by the competition and investment regulators, was expected to be implemented on November 19.

The Aus$3.45-per-share deal was in little doubt given CMH's largest shareholders -- James Packer's Consolidated Press Holdings (50 percent) and Kerry Stokes' Seven Group Holdings (25 percent) -- had already indicated their approval.

Seven had wanted to mount a rival bid but it was knocked back by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

It will be the first time in a century that the Packer family will have no media interests in Australia, apart from a small stake in the Ten Network.

For News Corp, the takeover is its most significant investment in pay television since its bid to buy out British Sky Broadcasting broke down.

Consolidated Media chairman John Alexander told shareholders ahead of the vote, which was held in Perth, that board members unanimously supported the takeover.

"I think that when you get an offer which basically makes overwhelming sense -- and our two biggest shareholders thought it made overwhelming sense, the independent expert thought it made overwhelming sense -- you have to act in the best interests of shareholders," Alexander was quoted in The Australian newspaper as saying after the meeting.

Consolidated Media Holdings was formed when Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd, founded by Packer's grandfather Frank and run by his father Kerry, a one-time arch-rival to Murdoch, changed its name in 2007.

Since Kerry's death in 2005, billionaire Packer has been moving away from the family's traditional media business and focusing on creating a worldwide gambling empire.

He has casino interests in Australia and Macau, the world's biggest gaming hub, and is pushing to build Sydney's second casino as part of a huge gambling and hotel development on the harbour foreshore.


Critics slam approval process for Packer casino...

Critics of James Packer's plan to build a second Sydney casino say the billionaire has had a free ride through the planning approvals process.

The New South Wales Government and Opposition have both thrown their support behind the project, which would see a high-rollers' haven built at the northern end of the CBD - right on Sydney Harbour.

Mr Packer thanked both the Liberal and the Labor parties for their support.

But current and former politicians are questioning why the community apparently had no say in approving the development.

Mr Packer already owns Crown in Melbourne, the casino in Perth, and has a large stake in BetFair. He also has casino interests in London, Las Vegas and Macau.

The proposal for the Barangaroo site in Sydney is a little different, in that mug punters will not be allowed in through the front door.

"We don't want a customer that can't afford to be there," Mr Packer told a business dinner.

"There's a lot of people out there who can afford it and who you're selling adrenalin to, and they're happy to pay for that experience."

'Appalling process' Sydney's Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the city's people have been locked out of the approvals process, and it has been too easy for Mr Packer.

"I think if Australians, if ordinary punters want to go to the casino they should be able to," she said.

"I think the process is appalling. This is a site, it's public land, it's probably one of the most important sites in Australia, it is harbour-side, adjacent to the global city of Australia, and yet there's no consultation.

"The Government knows that before it came to office... there was real concern in the Sydney community about the process that the previous Labor government had gone through, and they came in saying that they were going to do it differently.

"And here we have a situation, this major, major development where there's no tendering and there is no public consultation and it's all been done behind closed doors and it's been done by both the major parties to Jamie Packer.

"I just think the people of Sydney will be appalled by what is going on."

Crown predicts when it is finished, the casino complex could inject $400 million into the local economy and support 1,400 jobs.

But former federal opposition leader John Hewson says whichever way you look at it, the approval looks bad.

"Perception is the problem here, people perceive that Packer's bulldozed this through," he said.

Wealth and power

Current Greens MP John Kaye went further, saying the integrity of the political process was being undermined.

"Mr Packer's wealth and Mr Packer's power has given him an easy access to the second stage of the O'Farrell Government's process," he said.

"There will be no public consultation on whether we have a second casino or not, that's now a done deal, with four parties in the New South Wales Upper House signing off on it.

"At least there should have been a debate."

Mr Hewson dealt with the late Kerry Packer during the tender process for Sydney's first casino.

On ABC Local radio recently, he was scathing in his assessment of the latest approvals process - especially of James Packer's assumption he would win any tender process.

"I think that's the height of arrogance and I think it pre-judges the processes of government," Mr Hewson said.

"It's not clear to me that an international gaming group wouldn't have been an effective competitor, we don't know that.

"We've been told it wouldn't apply but we don't know that.

"It reminds me of his father telling me in pretty colourful language that you know the country doesn't need pay TV, but if we have to have pay TV I'm going to own it.

"And it's that sort of arrogance, there's sort of two sets of rules, one for the Packers and one for the rest of us."

But there is a long way to go before anyone starts building anything. This is the first approval in a three-stage process.

Still to come is a tick-off by a Government-appointed panel and a design competition for the six-star hotel.



Australian casino king James Packer defends Sydney casino bid process; Entering virgin territory...



Tycoon James Packer has defended the way he and the New South Wales Government have gone about securing a second Sydney casino at a new harbour-side development.

Recently the New South Wales Government gave a preliminary tick of approval for the casino-hotel proposal at the Barangaroo site.

The Government says any new casino will not be allowed to start operation until 2019 because of an exclusivity arrangement with Star Casino.

And the project will not go out to tender - although Mr Packer insists he would have won any tender had it been conducted.

Recently Packer told a business dinner in Sydney that he was not just interested in making money, but wanted to build something "special" on the site at Barangaroo.

"I spent a lot of time in casinos as a kid with my dad, and I ended up thinking, f***, this must be a good business," he said.

"My dad was a lot smarter than I am and a lot more successful than I'll ever be, but he got his adrenalin rushes from going to a casino.

"That's the customer that we want. And there are a lot people out there who can afford it, and who you're selling adrenalin to, and they're happy to pay for that experience."

Mr Packer and his gaming company Crown Limited are having an especially good run of luck.

He says the latest project has been given the preliminary tick not because of lobbying, but because it is a really good idea.

This is more than just about money for me. My dad was a larger-than-life figure and I think this is my chance to do something that is special.

"The Labor Party and the Liberal Party were prepared to look at this – or the Labor Party especially – in a bipartisan manner and Premier O'Farrell was willing to say 'let's just do it'," he said.

"There's three stages, and we've got to get through stages two and three ... Premier O'Farrell's made it very clear that we're not done and I don't think we're done, we're a long way from done, but we've had a very good day."

Mr Packer also defended his decision not to wait for a competitive tender process.

"The unsolicited proposal legislation was designed for good ideas and this is a good idea and we took advantage of the legislation that was in place," he said.

"So I think frankly if there was a tender it would be very hard to see how we wouldn't have won it."

So far, the gaming venue has been touted as one that would lure high rollers, especially international tourists, and it would not have pokies.

But Mr Packer says that could change.

"This is not an economic no-brainer," he said.

"You know, there has never been a casino in the world built for a billion dollars without slot machines.

"So we're entering virgin territory, and we're sitting there and saying we'll wait until 2019, as we should."

At the same time as promising to give Sydney an economic kickstart, he says he wants to be the one to leave a legacy in keeping with his father's.

"This is more than just about money for me," he said.

"I am a great believer in Sydney, this country has been incredibly kind to my family, this city has been incredibly kind to my family.

"My dad was a larger-than-life figure and I think this is my chance to do something, you know, that is special."


CALIFORNIA ONLINE POKER ASSOCIATION COLLAPSES...

They certainly had noble intentions, but the ride is over for the California Online Poker Association after several million dollars spend and a handful of failed legislative bills caused the organisation to cease its lobbying efforts.

COPA had poured a lot of money into ensuring that online poker was both legalised and regulated in the state, but after spending $1.2 million on its efforts in the first half of 2012 alone without making any headway, it was decided that the group must fold.

Despite outspending companies like Chevron and the California Teachers Association, COPA’s two-year run saw a handful of proposed bills fall through the legislative cracks as interest dissipated or the state could not agree on the financial rewards for those who were involved.

COPA’s operating agreement had stated that the organisation would dissolve if significant progress had not been made by January 2013, but the decision was made to pull the plug ahead of schedule earlier this month, with Ryan Hightower, the group’s spokesman, confirming: “The decision was based upon insufficient progress within the legislature towards the passage of an online poker bill.”

The San Manuel and Morongo tribe who had affiliated themselves with COPA, however, are not giving up the fight just yet and have stated that they believe it is only a matter of time before online gambling happens in California. If legislation does change after 2013’s proceedings, don’t be surprised to see the efforts of COPA and its partners reassessed in light of the new online climate.



Marvel Entertainment Movies: Amazing Spider-Man, Thor 2, The Avengers Et Al Boost Popularity Of Marvel Slot Games...

The Media Man agency reports that Marvel themed online slot games across the network, and featured at partner, PartyCasino.com , are boosting the popularity of the superhero themed online slot games. Bwin.Party currently offers The Incredible Hulk, Thor, The Amazing Spider-Man and Fantastic Four, with more expected to soon hit the popular gaming and entertainment website destination.



Zynga partners with bwin.party to offer real-money gaming...



Social gaming giant Zynga has signed a partnership agreement with bwin.party digital entertainment to launch real-money poker and casino offerings for the UK market.

'Bringing together Zynga's expertise in social gaming with the top international real money gaming operator is the best way to create the highest quality gaming experiences for our players in the UK,' said Barry Cottle, Executive Vice President, Corporate and Business Development, Zynga. 'Partnering with an established leader like bwin.party is a strategic and prudent way for us to enter a key RMG market while giving local players the real money games they've been asking us for.'

The new real-money poker and 180 game casino suite are set to launch in the first half of 2013 and will include table games such as slots, roulette and blackjack. Zynga also revealed that it will also offer UK players the first-ever, online FarmVille-branded real money slots game.

'Today's announcement is another example of our success in leveraging our assets through strategic blue-chip partners,' said Jim Ryan and Norbert Teufelberger, Co-CEOs of bwin.party. 'Zynga is the world's leader in social games with hundreds of millions of active players worldwide and a significant player base in the UK. We are delighted to have been selected as their chosen partner for this important step in their evolution, and hope to expand our relationship into other products and markets.'

*Media Man is a shareholder in Crown Limited, Network Ten and Virgin

*Media Man has conducted b2b with Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, Crown Limited, Virgin Enterprises Limited and Marvel Entertainment

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