First ‘poker-only’ club OK’d in U.K.
The Dusk Till Dawn poker club has received its operating license from the Nottingham Magistrates Court.
In his verdict, the chairman of the Betting and Gaming Committee said, “I can safely say that if you had come to us with the intention of obtaining a full gaming license we would have denied it… However, as you wish to open a poker only club, we feel there is demand for the facilities you offer. As such we will issue you a license with the condition that only poker can be played there and no slot machines will be allowed.”
This case is one of the last of its kind, as it was heard under the rules of the Gambling Act of 1968. Under 1968 Act rules, it was possible for a club to apply for a limited gaming license, which prohibited a club from operating slot machines, for example. But now, the 2005 Act converts all licenses granted under 1968 Act rules to full gaming licenses-which means, technically, that the DTD card club could apply to operate slots, and which was also one of the objections put forward by those opposed to the license.
Fighting the club since last April were casino operators Gala, London Clubs International and Stanley’s. At the final hearing, held September 24-26, LCI withdrew its objection within the first 10 minutes. Gala and Stanley’s continued to battle, arguing there was “insufficient demand” and that the club was not financially viable.
Rob Yong, DTD managing director, said, “I am absolutely delighted as are all my team at the news. It’s been a lot of hard work these last two years but we’ve cleared the final hurdle and we can look ahead to opening later this year, making DTD the best poker club in Europe.”
When the club officially opens it will be one of Europe’s largest poker venues, with 45 tables, a dedicated high-limit room and a broadcast-ready, final table area for tournaments.
Said Yong, “Though we did consider having slot machines at the club we have now reconsidered and despite the conditions not being legally binding we will abide by them as a sign of good faith.”
If DTD management sticks to its agreement to refrain from operating slots, the court’s decision to grant the license could prove to be an evolutionary step in British gaming law.
New casino for Romania
Queenco Leisure International has finalized the terms of its concession agreement with the municipality of Constanta, in Romania. The casino operator has obtained the rights to renovate a historic building dating from 1909 and operate it as “Casino Constanta.”
The agreement is for an initial period of 49 years, with an option to extend the terms for another 24 years. QLI will invest approximately €10 million and pay gross annual royalties of €140,000 to the municipality.
Constanta has a population of 310,000 and is the main Romanian port, the largest on the Black Sea. Constanta is also the most popular destination for summer holidays in Romania for both the national and the international market.
The casino will open in the second half of 2009. Plans call for 24 tables and 250 slot machines. The casino will also feature restaurants and entertainment facilities. The new Constanta casino will be the company’s fourth property and second in Romania. Queenco also recently increased its stake in Casino Loutraki, in Greece, from 35.7 percent to 40.3 percent.
Step by step in southeastern Europe
Casino development continues to move forward in the now independent nations that once comprised Yugoslavia. In a region still on the road to full economic development and integration into mainstream Europe, casino operators and regulatory bodies must deal with situations typical of both present and past.
A smoking ban might not be the first obstacle to profit that springs to mind in this environment, but at Slovenia’s Casino Portoroz, this past August saw a significant drop in revenues from slots and electronic multiplayer games. Portoroz board President Marjan Bolka attributes the lower take to the smoking ban introduced nationwide on August 5, which allows smoking only in areas where employees will not be exposed to secondhand smoke.
To counter the effect, the casino will set up special smoking areas, which have to meet strict technical standards and may not occupy more than 20 percent of the total space. Just for good measure, the casino will also add 60 new slots.
Meanwhile, new construction was recently announced that will see a casino as part of an entertainment complex in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. The Grand Media Center is planned for the center of the once grand city devastated by war in the early 1990s. The investor is Alpha Baumanagement of Austria and its partner Hypo Alpe Adria Consultants of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Besides the casino, the project will include hotels, shopping, entertainment, and what will be the largest meeting center in the Balkans. The timeline for completion is three years. Total investment will be around 170 million Bosnian marks, or $123 million.
And finally, the Grand Casino Belgrade project will be completed in December of this year. The €60 million casino-hotel, jointly owned by Casinos Austria International, Casino Loutraki and the Serbian Lottery, opened some facilities this past summer and is the first international-style casino to operate in Serbia.
Belgians not amused
The Belgian Gaming Commission has filed a complaint with the Brussels prosecutor’s office, claiming that online betting operator Unibet is breaking the law by taking wagers on when the new government will be formed. Belgians may only bet on sports and horseracing.
Belgium has been without a government for the last 100 days, the result of the latest falling out between the French-speaking and Dutch-speaking halves of the country. This is not the first time the government has fallen due to conflict directly related to the two cultures having to share one nation.
Unibet was offering 25-to-1 odds on a new government being formed before October 1, with odd of 2.5-to-1 for after December 1, 2007.
Players can also bet on who will be next prime minister. No wager is available on whether Belgium will survive as a country.