IN THE NEWS
February 1, 2011
NOW, A REAL MONEY POKER APP FOR IPHONEVienna-based online giant bwin has launched the first real money poker app for the iPhone, and it’s available now in App Stores UK and Austria with more countries to follow soon.
“Our customers can, for the first time ever, show what they’ve got in the world’s biggest poker network via the popular iPhone platform,” says Berthold Kao, head of Product Management RNG & Mobile at bwin. “Together with the bwin live app and Casino for iPhone, we now offer our customers a complete portfolio.”
The pocket-size poker room features Texas Hold ’Em in an intuitive user interface that provides easy registration and navigation and a clear image. The player’s best hand is displayed automatically, and hand histories from the current session are displayed at a touch.
EARLY PICKINGS AT SUGARHOUSE LESS THAN SWEET
It took four years to get SugarHouse open, and the first of Philadelphia’s two casino licensees isn’t doing so well. In fact, analysts told The Philadelphia Inquirer that if SugarHouse’s first four months are any indication, the city’s Delaware River waterfront can’t support a second casino.
Since its debut last September, revenue from the property’s 1,602 slot machines has averaged $2.3 million a week, less than half of what was projected by owner HSP Gaming when it appeared before the state Gaming Control Board last May with revised estimates for a smaller casino. Considering that slots account for 70 percent of SugarHouse’s total win, that’s not good.
SugarHouse was ranked last among Pennsylvania’s 10 casinos in gross slots revenue for November and December. Its best week to date was its first one, September 27 to October 3, when it won $3.6 million.
HSP, led by Chicago real estate tycoon Neil Bluhm, has estimated $272 million in total casino revenue for the year. SugarHouse is on a pace to win $184.4 million.
“I think … the established customer base and competition from Parx and Harrah’s Chester have hurt SugarHouse,” Standard & Poor’s analyst Michael Listner told the Inquirer.
GM Wendy Hamilton acknowledged the challenges.
“We’ve got two established competitors - one 15 miles south and one 15 miles north - and 11 casinos 50 miles east of us in Atlantic City with great amenities and established data bases. There’s business to be had. Four months in, as an infant business, we’re very pleased with the results.”
Meanwhile, the group behind the waterfront’s proposed Foxwoods Casino, Philadelphia Entertainment & Development Partners, is appealing the Gaming Control Board’s decision to revoke its license because of delays and a failure to line up financing.
“A second casino on the waterfront is unlikely to significantly grow the market,” said John Kempf of RBC Capital Markets. “Instead, it will only likely take share from existing casinos, particularly SugarHouse.”
ISLE's MCDOWELL PROMOTED TO CEO
Isle of Capri Casinos President and COO Virginia McDowell is being promoted to the position of chief executive officer, and Chairman James B. Perry will become executive chairman.
McDowell will remain president of the multi-state operator, and she and Perry will continue in their current roles until a “transition date” to be determined by the board of directors, Isle said. The changes, which are subject to regulatory approval, are expected to occur before the end of the year.
McDowell has 30 years of experience in casino operations, marketing, technology and management. At Isle she has overseen day-to-day operations of 15 casinos since July 2007. She joined the company from Trump Entertainment Resorts, where she served as executive vice president and chief information officer.
The announcement of McDowell’s appointment last month coincided with a common stock offering of 5,300,000 shares (ISLE: NasdaqGS) open to the public at $10.25 a share, the proceeds earmarked for repaying borrowings under the company’s revolving line of credit.
Deutsche Bank Securities is managing the offering.
HUXLEY's COHEN HEADS AGEM's EUROPE OFFICE
The Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers has opened an AGEM Europe office to serve the organization’s growing membership base there.
Tracy Cohen, marketing manager for UK-based TCSJohnHuxley, was named AGEM director Europe. Thomas A. Jingoli, Konami Gaming’s chief compliance officer and AGEM president, said, “Tracy is well-respected throughout gaming and motivated to serve as our eyes and ears in Europe so that AGEM is better equipped to address any issues that affect a broad range of suppliers there.”
With 16 of AGEM’s 108 member companies based in Europe and another dozen with significant operations there, the new north London office will serve as the central contact point for current European-based members and prospective new members.
ANOTHER DOWN YEAR FOR MAGNOLIA STATE
Mississippi’s state-licensed casinos won $2.39 billion from players in 2010 - a nearly 3 percent drop from what gamblers lost in 2009.
An Associated Press report said business was down slightly in December with casinos taking in $184.6 million compared to $185 million on December 2009, according to figures reported Friday by the Mississippi Department of Revenue.
In 2009, casino winnings totaled $2.46 billion.
The take from gamblers at Mississippi’s 30 casinos does not include the state’s Indian casinos, which are not required to report their winnings to the public.
WMS ENTERS ITALY WITH AWP PARTNER
WMS Gaming is joining forces with Italian gaming company Cogetech to supply gaming machines to the country’s burgeoning video lottery terminal market.
WMS’ machines will be introduced in Italy, which already has more than 40,000 AWPs, under the IZIplay brand. The placement will total about 5,200 devices.
“We are proud and happy to be first in signing an agreement with WMS,” said Fabio Schiavolin, chief executive officer of Cogetech. “The top-performance WMS VLTs will enable us to offer top-quality products and an extensive product range to our customers.”
Brian Gamache, chief executive of WMS, said the U.S.-based slot giant is making “great progress” in expanding its presence in international markets.
GAMBLING STUDY BILL PROFFERED IN HAWAII
Legalized gambling is back on the legislative agenda in Hawaii.
According to the state’s KITV ABC-TV affiliate, state Sen. Malama Solomon has introduced a bill that would authorize a state Department of Business and Economic Development study of whether Hawaii should join an existing multi-state lottery.
Marcus Oshiro, chairman of the House Finance Committee, said casinos will also be considered. “This might be the right opportunity,” he said. “We haven’t had a real serious discussion for several years, so I think we will have the discussion.”
Polls have shown most residents favor limited gaming, but with Hawaii one of only two states with complete gambling bans, the opposition to legalization, from human service agencies, churches and law enforcement, has been fierce.
The new governor, Neil Abercrombie, is not an opponent, as was his predecessor, Linda Lingle, but he told KITV it is a complicated issue that cannot be resolved quickly enough to address the state’s current financial problems and could distract from more realistic solutions.
CENTURY EXTENDS DEAL WITH OCEANIA CRUISES
Publicly traded Century Casinos has opened a new casino aboard Oceania Cruises’ new liner Marina.
The Marina was launched on her maiden voyage in January with 1,250 passengers in 626 state rooms and suites. The casino features 60 slot machines, all equipped with TITO, and six gaming tables offering American roulette, blackjack, poker and craps.
Century recently extended its agreement with Oceania and will run the casinos on all the cruise ships Oceania currently operates and places into service before December 2016.