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Nutshell

  • The casino business has turned Macau into the world’s 20th richest economy, according to the South China Post. Macau has passed Singapore, Brunei and Japan to become the leading economic territory in Asia, with per capita GDP equal to ,357 in 2007, according to Macau government figures.
  • The government of Ukraine will begin a broad review of existing gaming legislation and regulations. Problems have arisen from the fast-growing gaming market and some lawmakers favor restrictions as radical as prohibition. The government, however, is said to be more concerned with looking at areas such as player protection and money laundering.
  • The Ministry of Popular Power for Tourism in Venezuela has published a resolution ordering the National Commission of Casinos, Bingo Halls and Slots to abstain from issuing or renewing licenses for the next three years. The ministry also banned the casinos, bingo halls and slot machines from shopping centers, national parks and national monuments.
  • The Tahoe Biltmore Lodge and Casino will see some changes in the coming months as part of a $1.5 million renovation project. General Manager John Muller said the property will feature updated slot products, a new entertainment venue and a VIP room on the casino floor.
  • In the midst of a $215 million renovation project, Planet Hollywood Resort managed to show signs of improvement by trimming its net loss by more than 20 percent last year. Not only did this turnaround come during the facelift that removed any vestiges of the old Aladdin, but it also came despite a reduction in net revenue of 3.6 percent. Casino revenues were up 9 percent over 2006 and daily occupancy rates were up 4.7 percent.
  • The Strip site of the proposed $5 billion Crown Las Vegas is for sale, the Wall Street Journal reports. “Unable to come up with the increased equity demanded by lenders, developers last month put the site up for sale with CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. and Goldman Sachs,” the paper reported. The proposed Crown Las Vegas is not necessarily dead, with project principals James Packer and Christopher Milam looking for another equity partner to keep it moving forward. The 5,000-room hotel tower would have been the tallest hotel tower in Las Vegas.
  • Indiana’s two horse-racing tracks, Hoosier Park in Anderson and Indiana Downs near Shelbyville, received final approval for their $250 million licenses to run up to 2,000 slot machines each from the Indiana Gaming Commission last month. Hoosier Park expects to open its racino in June, including two $100 slots and a “New York” deli. Indiana Downs is building a $170 million facility with a NASCAR-themed sports bar and high-end steakhouse.
  • It looks like Atlantic City gamblers will be able to light up only in non-gaming, unstaffed lounges at the city’s 11 casinos. Last month City Council unanimously approved a measure that will prohibit smoking on all casino floors. The ordinance, which has the support of Mayor Scott Evans, is expected to pass after a second reading later this month. Then casino officials will have until October 15 to construct the ventilated smoking lounges. The Casino Association of New Jersey had argued that a full smoking ban could lead to a further decline in gaming revenue and the potential loss of thousands of casino jobs. Trump Entertainment CEO Mark Juliano called the lounges “a middle ground.”
  • Jasper County, Iowa voters last month rejected casino gaming in the county by 62 percent to 38 percent, according to unofficial tallies. Casino proponents had wanted to build a casino hotel complex next to the Iowa Speedway near Interstate 80 in Newton. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission is conducting an economic study of the state’s gaming industry and is tabling any further new casino licenses, although several other communities besides Newton have shown interest in them. They include Ottumwa, Fort Dodge, Tama and Franklin County.
  • Mayor A.J. Holloway signed a zoning change that would allow the South Beach Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, sending the project to the state gaming commission for final approval. The project has been criticized as an attempt to expand gaming along the entire beachfront of the city, a criticism Holloway dismisses. “Since there is already development on the south side of the Biloxi Strip, near where Gold Coast is proposing to be located, I do not believe this project would create pressure to open the entire beachfront to casino gaming,” Holloway said. “In fact, this land was zoned for casino development from 1993 until recently, so we’re not changing the rules for the casino resorts that are already here.”
  • Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell has asked top state legislators to withdraw a bill that would include the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods tribal casinos in a statewide smoking ban so she can negotiate the issue with the owners. That might avoid a likely legal battle predicted by the state attorney general, but both operators have said they won’t enter discussions while the bill is in process.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs has issued a final environmental impact statement on a North Richmond, California, casino proposed by the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians. Comment ends April 28 on the EIS for the 225,000-square-foot complex, proposed about four years ago amid a flurry of public protest. The agency continues work to decide whether the site near San Francisco Bay qualifies as restored land for the currently landless tribe’s 219 members.

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