Australian Casino, Gambling And Media News, by Greg Tingle - 27th December 2010

Season's Greetings punters, casino and gambling millionaires, billionaires, entertainment news junkies, insiders, outsiders, politicians, journalists and everyone else. The new year may be about to hit but there's no sign of the best in Aussie news slowing down. No sir, its full speed ahead on Santa's sleigh. Media Man and Gambling911 with yet more Aussie news to help keep your Santa's stocking full. Ho Ho Ho!...

Aussie Casino King James Packer, Shane Warne And Michael Clark Have A Feed And Chat At Crown Casino...

Warnie made one of his first public appearances since the Liz Hurley affair in the UK, playing host to his Shane Warne Foundation's annual Boxing Day breakfast at Packer's Crown Casino. JP attended with wife Erica in support of the event, which raises considerable financials for children who are unwell. Cricket greats Michael Clarke and Phil Hughes also attended in for a spot of breaky before heading to the Melbourne Cricket Group, where they ended up getting analysed in possibly Australia's worse performance in The Ashes Cricket series in 100 years! Performing artist Leo Sayer pumped out a few great numbers to keep the punters entertained.

Ainsworth JR From Aussie Dynasty Enjoys 13th Race In Sydney To Hobart...

Quizzed about being nervous racing in his 13th Sydney to Hobart, Stephen Ainsworth tries to convince you he's not concerned.

"I am not superstitious. Not religious", Ainsworth, from the Aristocrat pokies family, says grinning. "Thirteen … doesn't worry me. I have used that as an excuse to say that I will have to do at least one other race. I won't stop at 13." Maybe they should make a slot games called 'Lucky 13' if they haven't already.

James Packer's Consolidated Media Taxing Situation...

Packer's Consolidated Media Holdings are taking the fight to the Australian Taxation Office. They are following the other high profile case of man VS ATO - Paul "Hoges" Hogan. The firm has been fighting in the Federal Court over the tax treatment of a $1 billion share buyback transaction some 8 years back, and just last week it filed more legal claims covering the 6 years to 2008. It ended up in court after the Tax Office rejected its argument that it should be able to shift tax losses. Circa 2004 the late Kerry Packer emerged victorious in the Federal Court, and guess what - the main question in that particular case was the "legitimacy" of shifting losses between financial years. Getting you up to speed, it was October 29 last year the firm, which owns stakes in the Foxtel, Fox Sports and Premier Media Group, and employment website Seek, was issued a revised tax assessment for each of the 6 years to 2008. It's curious timing...exactly 1 year after the company was handed a revised tax assessment for the 2002 year, the year of the buyback. Back to the present, Wednesday arvo CMH filed 10 separate lawsuits against the ATO in its latest chess - art of war manoeuvre to sidestep paying a tax bill of a cool $22 million. Consolidated Media is also wrestling to avoid having to pay a fine imposed for "non-payment." The latest legal battle came after a 13-month exchange of formal notices, a procedure used to help find a mutual understanding of sorts and keep the case out of court. The ATO has already had plenty of bad PR this year, after Hogan getting the best of them. For those of you who don't know, Consolidated Media was created out of the split of Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd aka PBL into separate media and gambling companies in 2007. The vast majority of the tax bill dates back to when the company was trading as PBL. Details of the latest dispute were contained in documents Consolidated Media filed with the Federal Court in Sydney on Wednesday. The case is due in court for directions before Federal Court judge Richard Edmonds on February 24. It is unclear if Crown king of the castle, James Packer will make an appearance. The associated dispute over the $1 billion buyback is due to be heard by a different law man over a 3 day duration commencing on March 7. In that case the court is to decide whether the proceeds received by PBL from Crown via the buyback in June 2002 were in face dividends or a capital gain. Crown Limited bought back 840 million ordinary shares held by PBL for a total of $1 billion to repay funding previously provided by PBL to Crown. PBL bean counters, some of the best in Australia as you might expect, recorded the payment as a dividend, which is tax-effective because franking credits can be used to offset tax. It's a legal tax minimization tactic. The ATO advised it should not have been recorded as a dividend and billed the company for capital gains tax. Packer owns about 50% of Consolidated Media's shares and his mate and associate, Kerry Stokes owns 24% these days. So folks, looks like a new type of Australian casino and gambling war is brewing - one against Australia's tax department.

Casino Canberra Wants Bigger and Better Pokie Deal...

Casino Canberra is making more noise about wanting its Xmas wish of 200 poker machines, with their marketing director Peter Cursley going on record with the region top getting "hung up" on numbers. The ACT has more one armed bandits per head of population than any other Australian state or territory. They are king! A report by the Gambling and Racing Commish found the number of ACT adults participating in gambling had dropped from 72.9% in 2001 to 69.8% in 2009. The number who played pokies dropped from 38.1p% in 2001 to 30.2%. Pokies remain a game of preference for punters young and old, both in land based venues and online. When Casino Canberra opened for business two decades ago, it apparently did so on the understanding that it operate no machines, and be the only casino in Australia not to operate them. Cursley advised this provision became "redundant from day one". We are yet to get to the bottom of this but are investigating further. In its submission to the ACT Government's tax review, the casino said it desired to utilize machine licences held by the Government in surplus. Now, just 3 weeks back, Gaming and Racing Minister Andrew Barr announced he would remove those licences from circulation in a bid to further curb problem gambling. "The bottom line is we want 200 machines and we're prepared to pay," Cursley said. "We don't care where they come from." He said valuable business opportunities were being lost by the long-term ban on poker machines at the venue. It's a move and public stance bound to add fuel to the fire re anti-gambling groups, the casino says the arrangement would benefit the community, contributing $10 million in one-off licence fee revenue to the Government. It would in addition contribute 30% in gross gaming revenue tax, which would deliver an annual revenue stream of about $4 million to the ACT Government. The casino was also prepared to go on record that it would employ 20 new staff members which would contribute roughly $60,000 in payroll tax to the Government's account each year. Will money talk, as the AC/DC song goes? Cleopatra, Sinatra, Monopoly Black Rhino, Where's The Gold, Top Gun and Mission: Impossible are understood to be some of the pokie titles Casino Canberra is keen to get its hands on.


Last month was a big month for casino awards also. Let's have a look...

PartyGaming's PartyCasino has also come back with seconds, picking up another Media Man 'Online Casino Of The Month Award' for November, and also the parent company, PartyGaming, picked up the prestigious EGR Slots Operator Of The Year Award ...Some other top picks of ours who picked up awards at the EGR night of nights were:
Virgin Games (Affiliate Programme)
Betfair (Innovation, Mobile Operator and UK Sports Betting Operator)
Bwin (European Sports Betting Operator
PKR (Poker Operator)

Oh, we almost forgot...Media Man and Casino News Media 'Casino Babe Of The Month': Jenny Woo, 'Poker Babe': Kara Scott, 'Gambling Babe Personality': Pamela Anderson.

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Wrap Up...

Readers... er, punters, how did you like our report? Have you been naughty or nice? Did Santa give you what you had hoped for? Tell us in the forum.

If you have a bet, please bet with your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming and offer political commentary and analysis.

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