Australian Gambling News; Asia Pacific Gaming Connection: James Packer...Crown Melco, by Greg Tingle - 8th August 2011


Casinos Australia Asia Pacific Macau Crown Limited Burswood Entertainment Complex James Packer Casino Legal Media Man

Perth's Burswood Casino Sued After Stolen Cash Gambled Away...

Burswood Casino is being sued for in the region of $600,000 stolen from a Perth engineering company by an accountant who used the money to help fund his gambling addiction.

In a Supreme Court writ lodged last week, Exceleng Corporation claims Burswood was "unjustly enriched" at its expense when accountant Anthony Bianco deposited stolen funds in a casino account from which he could withdraw gambling vouchers.

Bianco, who pleaded guilty to nearly 300 counts of stealing as a servant between 1998 and 2005, was sentenced to 3.5 years jail in 2007 and served at least 21 months for siphoning $925,000 from his Naval Base employer.

Lawyers for Exceleng, trading as Alltype Engineering Services, argue that Burswood facilitated Bianco's breach of trust.

"(Burswood) recklessly failed to make any reasonable inquiry as to the funds so transferred into (the casino's) account and their source, and should reasonably have been aware, given the quantum of such transfers, that inquiry as to the funds and their source was required," the writ states.

Alltype managing director Colin Heitman said Burswood had a case to answer, claiming it ignored an obligation to report big transactions for independent tracking.

"I think Burswood has an obligation to protect businesses and individuals against fraud and they don't do that," he said.

"I don't think they uphold their duty of care when it comes to protecting people against electronic fraud.

"It was an extraordinary amount of money.

"Fortunately we've survived and moved on."

Bianco, of Cannington, said yesterday: "That was like six years ago.

"I'm all finished, I'm finished with that."

In a 2007 Court of Appeal decision that increased Bianco's original 2.5 year term by a year, Bianco was described as an immature man in denial about his gambling addiction.

"His immaturity led him to identify achievement as related to being admired as a high roller and being well known in the casino context," the judgment said.

Burswood Casino declined to comment on the legal action.

Malaysian Gamblers Drown Fleeing...

Police say five men have drowned in northern Malaysia after leaping into a river to escape a gambling raid.

A police spokesman in Malaysia's northern Kedah state says the men were among 20 suspects who were playing dice games by a river on Saturday when police tried to detain them.

He says five men sought to escape by swimming to another village across the river, but a search team found their bodies over the next few hours. Most of them were in their 40s and 50s.

Betting and gambling in public without a licence is punishable by a six-month prison term and a fine.

Melco Crown To List In Hong Kong...

James Packer's Macau casino joint venture Melco Crown Entertainment plans to list its shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to improve liquidity and raise equity to help fund a new $US2.5 billion ($2.38bn) casino resort development.

Melco Crown chief executive Lawrence Ho said the proposed dual listing -- the stock is already listed on Nasdaq -- would give Oriental investors a more direct access to the stock and put Melco on a par with other Macau casino operators that all have Hong Kong listings.

"We believe our proposed dual listing on the local bourse will not only put us on par with our competitors but will also provide our existing shareholders with much enhanced liquidity, while providing us with access to an additional source of capital," Mr Ho said in a statement.

It is widely believed Melco Crown wants to proceed with the issue before the end of the year.

The move is likely to include an equity raising rather than simply a compliance listing, although analysts expect the raising to be small given they expect neither joint venture partner will want to be diluted in the issue.

Packer's Crown owns a 33.5% stake in Melco. The equity will help fund the development of Macau Studio City, a $US2.5bn integrated gaming, retail and entertainment resort to be developed in Macau, although much of the project is expected to be debt-funded.

It will be Melco Crown's third casino in Macau, although the joint-venture partners must first negotiate with local authorities to ensure a casino is included in the project plans. The current government-approved plans do not contain any gaming elements.

Citi said a dual listing would allow Melco Crown to join key benchmark indices and improve liquidity.

Macau's gaming regulator has revealed that July gross gaming revenue was $US3bn, the second-best month this year.

However, Melco shares have fallen sharply. They opened at $US16 last Monday but closed at $US12.94 in Thursday trading on the Nasdaq, down 13.15% on the day. The shares rose 21% last month.

Readers...er, punters, please bet with your head, not over it, and have fun.

*the writer owns shares in Crown Limited

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