Monthly Archives: August 2018

Russia’s Tigre de Cristal casino puts VIP gamblers on back burner

The Tigre de Cristal casino in Russia’s far east Primorye gaming zone is ditching VIPs in favor of a more modest class of high roller.

On Friday, the Hong Kong-listed Summit Ascent Holdings, which holds a controlling stake in Tigre de Cristal, released its financial results for the six months ending June 30. Revenue improved a modest 2% year-on-year to HK$207.8m (US$26.5m) but adjusted earnings improved 17% to HK$66.8m and profit swung to HK$2.6m from a loss of HK$5.4m in H1 2017.

Once again, it’s time to explain the tangled web of Tigre de Cristal’s operations: Summit Ascent holds a 60% stake in the casino’s actual owner Oriental Regent Ltd, while the casino’s operations are handled by Summit’s wholly owned subsidiary G1 Entertainment, which earns a management fee of 3% of the property’s gross gaming revenue.

The casino’s VIP gambling turnover fell 22.5% year-on-year to HK$6.5b in H1, while VIP gross win fell 38.2% to HK$189m as win rate fell 0.74 points to 2.9%. After deducting VIP rebates, net VIP win was down 44.5% to HK$41m. It’s worth noting that the casino’s average number of VIP tables fell to 12 from 16 in H1 2017.

Kindred Group teams with Scientific Games for US market

Nordic online gambling operator Kindred Group will use Scientific Games Corp’s platform for its US market operations.

On Friday, Kindred announced that it had chosen Sci-Games’ SG Digital (SGD) division to be its technology partner for its US-facing operations. Kindred will use both SGD’s Open Platform System (OPS) player account management platform and Open Gaming System (OGS) game aggregation technology.

Earlier this month, Kindred announced its first US deal with Hard Rock International’s new Atlantic City casino. As luck would have it, SGD announced in July that it would provide Hard Rock Atlantic City with its OGS. The three-year Kindred-SGD pact is currently limited to New Jersey, but the parties will collaborate in other states depending on Kindred’s opportunities to expand geographically.

Kindred has its own technology platform that is successfully operating around the globe, from the UK to Australia, but Manuel Stan, Kindred US’s senior VP, said the SGD technology would give Kindred “swift access to the market” while offering Kindred’s US customers “a truly great gambling experience on a top technology platform.”

Former Card Player Controller Shelby McCann Indicted on Theft Charges Over $1.1 Million in Missing Funds

Former Card Player financial controller Shelby McCann allegedly stole over $1 million from the poker publication during her tenure with the company from 2011-2016, Clark County, Nevada prosecutors say. The […]

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Activist investor Jason Ader puts Playtech in his sights

Activist investor Jason Ader is out to reshape yet another major online gambling firm, having put technology supplier Playtech in his sights.

On Friday, The Times reported that Ader’s New York-based Springowl Asset Management hedge fund had quietly accumulated a $100m stake in the UK-listed Playtech, giving Ader a roughly 5% stake in the company. The report said Ader (pictured) is expected to push Playtech to sell off assets or pursue an outright sale of the company.

The Times also suggested that Ader was keen to put Playtech chairman Alan Jackson in the hot seat. Jackson quietly received a £66k annual salary bump this month, despite the company’s share price having fallen by nearly half this year and shareholders voting against the company’s remuneration plan several months earlier.

Ader was quoted saying Playtech needed to “improve its reputation, governance and stock price” but he expressed interest in “continuing a dialogue” with the company. A Playtech spokesperson told The Times that the company “continually engage[s] with our shareholders and value[s] their feedback.”

Imperial Pacific writes off $733m in bad VIP gambling debts

Saipan casino operator Imperial Pacific International (IPI) wrote off nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in uncollectable VIP gambling debts in the first half of 2018.

On Friday, IPI released its financial report for the six months ending June 30, during which the company’s revenue fell 51% year-on-year to HK$2.2b (US$281.6m), earnings tumbled 72.2% to HK$450.5m and profit plummeted 91.3% to HK$79m.

The dire results followed a profit warning last week that only hinted at the scale of the problem, which was caused in part by the “impairment of trade receivables,” i.e. uncollectable VIP gambling markers. IPI famously chose to avoid the use of third-party junkets when it launched in 2015, opting instead to offer credit directly to customers.

IPI wrote off a total of HK$5.75b ($733m) in H1, of which nearly HK$2.5b was owed by just 10 VIP clients. The figure is nearly triple the $268m the company wrote off in the same period last year, and significantly more than the half-billion or so it wrote off all last year.

South Shore’s The 13 Hotel in Macau (finally) opens

After many years of delays and financial setbacks, The 13 Hotel in Macau’s Coloane district opened its doors to guests on August 31.

In a press release, Mark Lettenbichler, managing director of The 13 Hotel project, said, “Our team at The 13 are thrilled to unveil this new Macau treasure and are proud to showcase our world-class offerings to our guests.”

Walt Power, CEO of South Shore Holdings (SSH) that built the hotel, said, “We are sincerely appreciative of the support by the Macau SAR Government throughout the development process.”

Initial guests were welcomed last weekend, on August 24, the press statement said. The hotel had just obtained all necessary licenses, such as for restaurant and health club operations, two weeks ago.

Australia bans gambling ads during online live sports broadcasts

Gambling advertisements are to no longer be allowed for live sports streamed online from between 5 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. in Australia.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority released its new rules for online content service providers last August 23, expanding on the previous prohibition on gambling promotions during televised and radio broadcasts of live sports.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said, “This brings online services in line with television and radio broadcasting services. It creates a safe zone for children and families to watch live sport across a variety of platforms.”

From the times of 8:30 p.m. until 5 a.m., promotions are limited to a certain number of times, depending on the sports. For golf and cricket, for example, promotions are permitted only once each day, while for Olympic and Commonwealth games, promotions are allowed once every three hours. Rugby games can have four promotions, in between matches.