Media Man Gaming, Casino And Entertainment News Report, by Greg Tingle - 27th August 2011


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Media Man 'Online Casino Of The Month Award'...

PartyCasino.com has once again won the Media Man 'Online Casino Of The Month' Award. Richard Branson's VirginCasino.com picked up 2nd place, while new entrant into the Asia Pacific Region, Grand Reef Online Casino picks up 3rd. Well done to all brands.

Coonan offered position on Crown Limited board...

Former Liberal Party senator Helen Coonan has a new job offer, just days after resigning from Parliament.

Crown Casino has announced its intention to appoint the former communications minister to its board.

The gaming regulator has to sign off on the appointment, but Crown hopes to have her on the board before Christmas.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon says he is saddened by the appointment.

"Helen Coonan's had a distinguished career and public life," she said.

"She's been a senior minister in the Howard government and to take a position on the board of a company, Crown Casino, where we know they peddle a product - poker machines, gambling - that causes so much misery to so many, is pretty sad."

Echo Entertainment $226m Casinos Profit...

Sin City Sydney's Star City casino redevelopment is on track, according owners Echo Entertainment.

Echo, which holds a portfolio of casinos including Star City and Jupiters on the Gold Coast, yesterday reported a maiden profit of $226 million after spinning off from gaming group Tabcorp in June.

While its profit result reflects a rise in casino earnings of 33 per cent, most of the money will flow through to Tabcorp shareholders as it was reaped before the demerger.

The company said revenue from its Queensland casinos, Jupiters and Treasury in Brisbane, rose despite the impact of deadly flooding from cyclone Yasi in February. Chief executive Larry Mullin said Echo was about to reap the benefits of its $870 million redevelopment of Star City.

The casino would be fully operational by the second quarter of the current financial year, he said.

Echo shares rose 1.8 per cent to close at $2.883. The company will not pay a dividend for the 12 months to the end of June.

Marvel Studios' Lackluster Inaugural Performance at the 2011 D23...

It’s important to note that the Marvel Universe, on the big screen, is a much more complicated place than it is on print

Prior to 2008, the movies based on many of Marvel’s marquee characters (household names like Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and X-Men) were produced via licensing agreements with a variety of studios – and as long as the studios continue to produce movies based on these characters, they maintain the licenses. That is to say that, though Marvel Entertainment still has a hand in the movies based on certain characters, they share the decision making (and profits) with companies like Sony Pictures (Spider-Man) and 20th Century Fox (X-Men). The end result of Marvel Studios becoming its own production entity has been overwhelmingly positive, as evidenced by the Disney Corporation’s interest in, and eventual acquisition of, Marvel Entertainment.

Marvel Studios’ underwhelming performance at the D23 Expo is pretty sad, especially with Disney’s resources behind them, they could have, and should have, done much, much better. Somebody dropped the ball. Either Marvel didn’t have enough to present, or Disney wouldn’t let them present what they had – and even if it was unintentional, either possibility is a bit of a snub to the fans who endured D23’s horrifyingly long lines in hopes of seeing Marvel deliver.

Disney Pixar not only brought in trailers and footage from works in progress and upcoming releases (Brave, Planes, and Monsters University), they brought in writers and directors of two projects that have recently been given the green light, but didn’t have titles, and won’t even begin production until sometime circa 2013.

Since late 2004 – when, in order to produce movies based on their characters independently, Marvel entered into a non-recourse deal with Merrill Lynch Commercial Finance Corp. to produce ten movies with Paramount as distributor – and as recently as last year, Marvel has said that they intended to develop films based on lesser-known characters such as Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and even more obscure characters like Shang Chi: Master of Kung-Fu and Guardians of the Galaxy. This spring, Marvel Studios’ President of Production, Kevin Feige, told D23 Magazine by way of IGN that the roster of films for the immediate future was heavy on Avengers-related titles [Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man sequels; plus possible Ant-Man, Black Widow and Nick Fury/S.H.I.E.L.D. projects] and even provided basic ideas of what the second Captain America and Thor movies would be like.

Perhaps a better, more tangible example is the Ant-Man film: for a couple years now [Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World writer/director] Edgar Wright, and Joe Cornish [Wright’s frequent collaborator, and director of this summer’s cult smash Attack the Block] have been attached to the project. Though the project hasn’t been fast-tracked, it’s got an IMDb page, and a proposed release year (2014). Wright is still listed as director; and Wright and Cornish are still listed as writers. The only speculation surrounding the project is whether or not Wright’s favorite leading man, and collaborator, actor Simon Pegg (Star Trek), will still play the titular tiny titan. Even without an official release date and leading man, let alone a date to begin production, there was plenty to talk about – especially for an audience that may or may not know anything about Marvel, let alone their movies.

Bottom line: Marvel and Disney - the powers that be can and must do better than this. It's a critical time in the industry and Marvel Entertainment needs to pull out all the stops to remain at the very top of the industry. Too many more stuff ups like D23, and the empire may take a great fall, one that even Marvel icon and living legend Stan Lee could not imagine.

For everyone's sake, we hope that Marvel Entertainment and other brains at Disney will soon excite us and restore the faith.

Martin Scorsese, William Monahan Teaming for 'The Gambler' at Paramount (The Hollywood Reporter)...

The duo are developing a remake of the 1974 movie starring James Caan as an English professor with a gambling addiction. They want Leo DiCaprio to star.

Paramount is going all-in on The Gambler, a remake of the 1974 James Caan addiction drama.

The studio has set Martin Scorsese to direct and William Monahan to write. Irwin Winkler, who produced the original, will again act as producer of the new film. They are interested in having Leonardo DiCaprio star, but no deal is in place for the actor.

The 1974 movie, an adaptation of the short novel The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, detailed a New York English professor who inspires his students but suffers from a secret gambling addiction. The affliction causes him to extort money from his mother and convince one of his students to shave points in a basketball game.

Caan received a Golden Globe nomination for best actor for his performance in the original. Lauren Hutton and Paul Sorvino co-starred for director Karel Reisz. (The project is not related to the series of Gambler TV movies that starred Kenny Rogers in the 1980s and 90s.)

The gritty New York setting of the original seems a perfect match for Scorsese, who teamed with Monahan on 2006 best picture Oscar winner The Departed.

The director has been especially active lately. He has his first family film, Hugo, slated for a Thanksgiving release, and he’s preparing to direct Silence, an adaptation of the Shusaku Endo novel. He’s also attached to The Wolf of Wall Street, an adaptation of the Jordan Belfort memoir that has attached DiCaprio, with whom Scorsese collaborated on Shutter Island.

Scorsese is repped by WME and Rick Yorn. Monahan is repped by WME and Anonymous.

Paramount declined to comment. (Credit: The Hollywood Reporter)

Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment's bwin.fr and SAjOO.fr to Merge - 29th July 2011...

Given the challenging regulatory and fiscal regime that currently prevails in France and in order to drive greater value for both parties, bwin.party and Amaury Group have decided to merge their bwin France and SAjOO online gaming businesses.

While the terms of the merger are not being disclosed, the combination will deliver real financial benefits in a number of areas including marketing and shared resources and as a result, the combined entity will be much better placed to deliver attractive financial returns.

Both Amaury and bwin France share a common objective of delivering an exciting and competitive online offer, and have been working together since 2008. With an estimated 9% share of the French online betting market, SAjOO.fr has already surpassed the goals set at its launch back in 2010.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Norbert Teufelberger, Co-CEO of bwin.party, said:

“Combining the resources of SAjOO and bwin France makes perfect sense and will only enhance our already strong position in the French market. With the prospect of a more commercial regulatory framework in 2012, we look forward to building a market leading enterprise with our long-standing partner.”

Philippe Carli, Amaury Group’s Chief Executive Officer, said:

“This merger creates a new force in the French market, one that we expect will prosper over the months and years to come. We remain optimistic that the current review of the existing regulatory framework being conducted by the French Government will result in significant improvements to the legal and regulatory framework. In this context, Amaury group is strengthening its involvement with bwin France, one of the sector’s leading operators.”

Scratchie case loss a picture of pain...

Lotto lovers have been warned the odds might be even more stacked against them than they thought after a Sydney couple were ordered to hand back their $100,000 scratchie ticket winnings.

A lawyer for the couple says they are considering whether to take the matter further.

The Federal Court of Appeal ruled yesterday in favour of New South Wales Lotteries after the couple had won an earlier case over what looked like a winning ticket.

Elizabeth Kuzmanovski bought the Pictionary-themed ticket for her husband as a birthday present in July 2007.

Bale Kuzmanovski was elated when he scratched to reveal an image of a swimmer alongside the word "bathe".

NSW Lotteries refused to pay out, arguing the picture and word did not match.

But it was not on that basis that the appeal was won.

The appeals court accepted the lottery body's argument that a code on the bottom of the scratchie determined whether it was a winning ticket, not the pictures.

Mr Kuzmanovski's lawyer, Peter Ives, says they are considering a further appeal.

"Bill is extremely disappointed at what happened. He feels cheated. He has a feeling that he could never buy another Lotto ticket, knowing that he'll never know if he's won or not, even if it looks like he has won," Mr Ives said.

Christopher Zinn from Choice says the case shows consumers are vulnerable to fine print.

"What I take away from it is you can read the back of a ticket, you can read the back of a scratchie, but if there's going to be a dispute they can often pull various small print rabbits out of a hat, which are actually going to jinx any chance you might have of getting your hands on the money," Mr Zinn said.

"There are so many terms and conditions applying to the simplest things now, they're not always on the back of airline tickets or scratchie tickets or anything else.

"So it seems to be saying that you know you have to avail yourself of the maximum amount of information, certainly if you're going to take a challenge onto them."

IGT Wins Again with Sex And The City Big Diamonds!™...

The sequel to record-breaking Sex And The City™slot debuts

LAS VEGAS, Aug. 17, 2011 - It's a blockbuster summer for International Game Technology with the debut of Sex And The City Big Diamonds!™ Reel MultiPLAY Slots, the sequel to the award-winning Sex And The City™ slot machine.

This new slot game is appearing in casinos worldwide where it is sure to be equally as fantastic as the original.

"The original Sex And The City™ Slots remain one of the most popular games on casino floors throughout the world," said Tom Mikulich, IGT senior vice president of MegaJackpots. "And if early reviews are any indication, we expect the new Sex And The City Big Diamonds!™ title to be just as popular with players. The combination of unique game play and interactive bonuses will entertain fans of the original game and new players alike."

Players will experience even more glitz and glamour on the casino floor as Sex And The City Big Diamonds!™ joins the award-winning, player-favorite original, Sex And The City™ Slots. And not only have players fallen in love with the smash-hit Sex And The City™ slot theme, it's also a favorite with the casino industry. According to the Roth Fantini Quarterly Slot Survey of January 2011, the original Sex And The City™ title, introduced in 2009, continues its lead as the top performing premium leased game in North America.

"It's hard to imagine a tougher act to follow than the original Sex And The City(TM) slot game, but with Sex And The City Big Diamonds!(TM), IGT clearly has another big winner," said Robert Allen, corporate vice president of Casino Operations at Pinnacle Entertainment.

Adorned with a diamond-lit cabinet, the Sex And The City Big Diamonds!™ game is the perfect sequel. Along with its sophisticated presentation, Sex And The City Big Diamonds!™ Reel MultiPLAY interface comes with all new bonus content and features five progressive pick bonus levels, one for each of the five characters of the hit series.

Mr. Big is back and his winning charm is bigger than ever. He steals players' hearts with a random wilds diamond shower feature in the base game.

Carrie's bonus is called The Right to Shoes, and in this version, players will experience a marvelous new twist using the "accept or reject" bonus feature. Charlotte's bonus is the Glamorous Gifts bonus, which awards the player a virtual wheel spin. In Miranda's Retail Therapy bonus, players touch the screen to spin the wheel to award shopping bags filled with credits, multipliers and maybe an additional spin. And in Samantha's Glimmer Ring bonus, players can populate gems in the top box display while a diamond ring moves back and forth, highlighting the potential for big wins.

Sex And The City Big Diamonds!™ will be available throughout the U.S. Visit www.megajackpots.com/wheretoplay/bigdiamonds to find out where you can play the game now.

About IGT

International Game Technology (NYSE: IGT) is a global leader in the design, development and manufacture of gaming machines and systems products, as well as online and mobile gaming solutions for regulated markets. More information about IGT is available at www.IGT.com or follow IGT on Twitter at @IGTNews or Facebook at www.facebook.com/IGT

Official HBO Licensed Product. © 2011 Home Box Office, Inc. All Rights Reserved. HBO and related trademarks are the property of Home Box Office, Inc.

Ric Flair: Boozing Has Not Damaged My Heart...

Wrestling icon Ric Flair is furious over an article which claims the Nature Boy is suffering from a serious medical condition caused by years of hardcore boozing ... because Ric claims it's not true and now he's threatening to sue.

The unflattering article -- which paints Flair as a troubled, irresponsible mess of a person -- ran on an ESPN affiliated website called Grantland.com ... and the report is mostly based on court documents.

But Flair is particularly pissed about the reporter's claim that he suffers from Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy -- a disease caused by years of alcohol abuse which often leads to heart failure.

A rep for Flair whose real name is Richard Fliehr - tells TMZ, "While the information gleaned from courthouse records may be credible, Mr. Fliehr is currently evaluating his legal options with respect to falsehoods in the story, specifically the untrue statement that he suffers from alcoholic cardiomyopathy."

The rep adds, "Our client understands that these allegations are part of the territory when you are not only famous, but a living legend."

Hulk Hogan And Friends Tours American Casinos And Arenas; Gamble Paying Off...

Hulk and Friends, the live show that has been touring the country with stops at casinos, fairgrounds, arenas and other venues, announced that fans will have the chance to meet their favorite wrestlers in a unique and up-close setting on Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 7:30 P.M. at the famous AG Hall, now known as the Agri-Plex within the Allentown Fairgrounds, in Allentown PA.

"I'm really looking forward to meeting all my fans in the Allentown area on October 8th" Hulk Hogan said. "We are having a great time doing this show. Meeting the fans, telling jokes, and brother, everybody's laughing more than we have in years" he continued. Not only will all the fan favorites be there but Hulk Hogan promises to bring some very special guests along with him. "You never know who is going to show up at a Hulk and Friends Show" he added.

Tickets will be going on sale August 5th through Ticketmaster. A limited number of ringside seats (which include a VIP Meet and Greet) are also available. For those interested in sponsorship opportunities, please go to the official website www.hulkandfriends.com

Coke's game plan...

Coca Cola is turning to gaming technology and ideas to market itself.

Coke is soon to roll out new marketing strategies using gaming for several key products, including Fanta, which is targeted at a teenage market.

David Elsworth, Coke's vice-president for creative excellence, said gaming offered untold opportunities for marketing a brand

''Gaming is as ancient as storytelling but it was never able to be used in marketing on a mass scale because we didn't have the tools to do that before.''

Mr Elsworth said gaming in marketing was not about using the games, but using the rules and approach of games to create a different relationship between consumers and the brand.

''Gaming is about getting people to move from passive receivers of a message to active collaborators … interacting and participating.''

Mr Elsworth said gaming offered a richer level of engagement with consumers. He said gaming was no longer the domain of ''pimply teenagers in their bedrooms playing Xbox'', but a massive industry worth more than the film and music industries put together.

Pokie kings have slots to be happy about - 26th August 2011

Poker machine maker Ainsworth Game Technology pipped its cross-town rival, Aristocrat Leisure, yesterday with its second profit upgrade this year.

After a 17 per cent share price jump on Wednesday, Ainsworth yesterday announced an unaudited $23.1 million net profit for the financial year ending June 30, compared with a $2.7 million loss for the previous year.

More details will be available next Wednesday when the audited results are released.

Excluding the benefit of tax losses, Ainsworth's net profit was $14.6 million. In May the company upgraded its earnings forecast to a range of $11 million to $13 million.

''This positive financial performance reflected further strong domestic and international demand for the company's range of products in the last two months of the financial year and a more favourable currency position as at the reporting date,'' Ainsworth said.

Aristocrat reported that its profit forecast for the year ending December 31 this year remains intact, although this relies on the Australian dollar remaining at parity with its US counterpart for the current half year.

The strong dollar and high interest costs - the latter a result of Aristocrat taking on debt to settle its long-running dispute over its convertible bonds last year - dragged down its results for the six months to June 30.

The company reported a net profit after tax of $24.9 million down from $49.3 million for the previous half year while revenues dropped to $312.7 million from $340.5 million.

The company declared a 2.5¢ unfranked dividend payable on September 30 and also announced a dividend reinvestment plan.

As with its smaller rival, Aristocrat reported strong results from the Australian market as well as promising signs from the US despite forecasts that this market will continue to shrink this year.

The company's chief executive, Jamie Odell, described the result as an important milestone in its five-year turnaround strategy with the company delivering on guidance of a 10 to 20 per cent improvement on last year's $55.2 million profit as well as demonstrating improved underlying performance in its core business.

Media Man Website Network Attracting Close To 6 Million Hits Per Month...

The well known Media Man website network, the online arm of Media Man, is attracting close to 6 million hits per month. The company was established in 2001 and coverage over a dozen different business sectors. Some of the Media Man website portals are listed in the Hitwise Australia top ten (entertainment - personalities category). Media Man is currently focused on the celebrity, film and television, technology, gaming and community sector. They plan to further ramp up their Casino News Media, Property News Media and Wrestling News Media brands.

*The writer has conducted b2 with Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment and Betfair.

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