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Archive for May, 2006

May 31st, 2006

Golf Betting Column: What The Golfinggods Say..

Victory for David Howell at the European tour flagship event, the BMW
Championship. Once again he gave notice to golfing world that he’s a player
of the highest quality. His complete game was faultless and he reduced the
newly lengthened and toughened Wentworth course to its knees. He is, without
a doubt, the most improved player in world golf over the past three years
and I see no reason why he cannot compete for a Major championship. He is an
unobtrusive player who sometimes slips under the radar of many but he is the
‘real deal’ and will continue to win at good odds. Hard to think the way
Jeff Maggert finished off the Fed Ex Classic on the weekend was the form of
a man who has not won for over seven years. Like Tim Herron the week before
Maggert was able to move the doubts aside for a week and capitalise on a
leader board that was not moving forward on the back nine. It is hard to
suggest what this may do for Maggert in terms of winning again as it has
been so long since his last win, however he does have the game for a US Open
course and maybe he will compete at Winged Foot in two weeks.

Speaking of the US Open it seems that Tiger will not play at the Memorial
this week and will go straight to the US Open as his first tournament back
after the death of his Father. Tiger is a different class to everyone else
but this is obviously not ideal preparation and his price has crept out to
11/2 to win at Winged Foot. Is this the best price for Tiger ever or just
about right for a player who must be still shaken by his loss?

The US tour moves to Ohio for Jack’s event, The Memorial Tournament played
at Muirfield Village GC. The Nicklaus designed course takes a page from
Augusta with the fairways being wide but positioning within the fairways
paramount. The rough is penal and there is both water and bunkers ready for
wayward shots, however it is the positioning of the tee that is key this
week.

Selections:

Fred Couples: this is a tournament Fred just loves to play at and his runner
up position in the last two years shows his form around Muirfield is as good
as anyone’s. His putting is always the key to his game but I see no reason
why he cannot compete at good each way odds.

David Howell: fresh of victory last week at the BMW Championship he is back
to his best. Howell has both the composure and the game to win around
Muirfield and I expect him to contend.

Jose Maria Olazabal: I chose him last week in Europe and am keeping faith.
If his driving stays as consistent as it has all season then the Spaniard
must rate a good each way chance. He should have won twice this year already
and I think his short game genius will be required this week. A good each
way option.

Others to mention: Stephen Ames, K.J Choi & Vaughn Taylor.

The European tour moves to Wales for the Wales Open played at the Celtic
Manor Resort course. This course will play host to the 2010 Ryder Cup and
the 7,200 + yards provides a severe test of golf. The designer, Robert Trent
Jones Jr, has created a course that has undulating fairways that provide
challenging approach shots to large greens. Add to this the expected soft
conditions and you have a real slog!

Selections:

Anthony Wall: the Englishman has played solid golf all season and in a
tournament that does not have depth he is likely to contend this week. At
around 50/1 he represents good each way odds.

Simon Khan: finished second to David Howell last week and this was his first
display of form this year. However he was definitely a player to follow last
year and his season may now be ‘kick started’. Expect him to contend.

Ross Fisher: the Wentworth player continues to play solid golf. He is a
player of great attitude and his game will be suited by the Celtic Manor
test. The more he knocks on the winners door the more likely it will open.
This could be the week.

Other to suggest: Peter Lawrie, Phillip Price & Stephen Gallagher.

Until next week – May The Golfinggods Be With You!

Post at 8:41 am UTC by Jerry

Philadelphia Casino Designs Receive Critique

As reported by Globe Street: “Designs by developers of five different
proposed casinos here received criticism by a panel of architects and urban
planners during “Slots and the City: A Public Design Forum.” It was held at
the Pennsylvania Convention Center just ahead of the Pennsylvania Gaming
Control Board’s June 2 deadline for public comment, and a recording of the
event has been entered into the board’s public record. “Each developer made
a 10-minute presentation, followed by comments from panel members. The least
criticized design was by Pinnacle Entertainment, except for the Trump
Organization. Its presentation contained no renderings, floor plans or
details, because, the developer said, they have gone back to the drawing
boards after obtaining input from neighbors at the site. “All but the Trump
proposal are at sites along the Delaware Riverfront. The six panelists
leveled as much criticism at the city as at the developers in respect to all
plans, but especially the riverfront four.”

Post at 8:41 am UTC by Jerry

MSPokerChallenge Plans MySpace Event

In the past two years poker has exploded to become one of the worlds
favorite past times. At the same time what was once a small community for
friends to catch up with each other has grown be one of the most popular web
portals on the internet. Today an internet start-up company has announced
the launch of its all new poker championship event and website that will be
bringing these two explosive markets together for one huge event. Working
with the internets top poker rooms, MSPokerChallenge.com has planned a World
Championship Poker Event to take place July 29th, 2006. This event will be a
$30+3 buy-in tournament and will crown the first ever world champion poker
player of MySpace. Leading up to the main event, MSPokerChallenge.com will
be hosting several satellite tournaments where players can win their entry
into the main event for free. In an interview with MSPokerChallenge.com
director of marketing Steve Cook, he stated “We are confident that by
bringing together two of the most popular trends in the world right now,
(myspace & poker) we have an idea that simply will not fail” The MySpace
Poker Challenge is a first of it’s kind and is targeting an audience of over
80 million members. Although the main event is a $30+3 buy-in, members have
the opportunity receive a free entry by referring 50 new members to the
website or by winning one of the freeroll events.

In a phone interview with MSPokerChallenge.com CEO Jeremy Enke, he stated
“Our marketing plans for this promotion are so well thought out, it is
scary. We are integrating both viral marketing as well as network marketing
to bring together MySpace members from throughout the world who play poker.
I have no doubt that this will be one of the premier online poker
tournaments of the year.”

MSPokerChallenge.com is independently owned and operated by Poker Affiliate
World Inc. and has no relation to myspace.com.

Post at 8:39 am UTC by Jerry

VIPSports.com Car Heads to NHRA Summer Nationals

After a three week rest, the ParkerTech Racing Services crew is ready to
start burning some alcohol again. Their VIPsports.com funny car is loaded up
and ready for Topeka, Kansas and the May 26th – 28th NHRA O’Reilly Summer
Nationals. The Heartland Park Topeka track promotes itself as “the world’s
fastest ¼ mile” and the crew is hoping that feature will work to their
advantage. “For Frank Parker, owner of the VIPsports.com Dodge Stratus, the
time between races hasn’t been very restful. “We’ve freshened up the whole
car since Atlanta and made some adjustments,” he said. “If it moved, we took
it apart and put it under the microscope. If it didn’t move, we polished it.
I made the mistake of taking a brief nap and woke up to my four-year old
rubbing polish on my leg.”
Danny Townsend, driver of the VIPsports.com Top Alcohol Funny Car and Dan
Parker, co-chief, have been studying past data from Topeka and working on
set-ups and strategy. “We’re a real close second in Division 3 points and
holding on to number five in national points,” said Townsend. “With one win,
out of only two points meets, the odds are in our favor for a great season
finish.”

Round one of Top Alcohol qualifying is on Friday, May 26, at 3:00 pm and the
second at 6:00 pm. The final qualifying session takes place at 11:00 am
Saturday. Eliminations begin at 4:00 pm Saturday and pick up again at 11:00
am Sunday.

Post at 8:39 am UTC by Jerry

Pennsylvania Gaming Investigator Suspended

As reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: “A Pennsylvania Gaming Control
Board investigator arrested Saturday on the South Side has been suspended
without pay. “Control Board spokesman Nick Hays announced the suspension of
Justin Husar, 26, on Sunday and said the case is being investigated by the
state’s Office of Professional Responsibility in Harrisburg. “.Husar makes
$64,000 a year as an investigator with the board’s Bureau of Investigation
and Enforcement, which is responsible for looking into the backgrounds of
those applying for slots licenses. “Husar, who lives on Pretense Way on the
South Side, faces charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, escape
and public intoxication after a verbal and physical altercation with
off-duty police officers working a security detail at the Town Tavern on
East Carson Street around 1:30 a.m. Saturday, said Pittsburgh police Sgt.
William Vollberg, who helped subdue Husar.”

Post at 8:39 am UTC by Jerry

Swedes Qualify For Everest Poker Event

Three more players qualified to represent Sweden at the Everest Poker
European Championship to be held in September. Tobias Eriksson won the
Gothenburg, Sweden qualifier on May 6 to secure a seat representing Sweden
at the Everest Poker European Championship. Tobias is from Stockholm.
Charles Elisson from Gothenburg placed second while Rickard Sollander from
Gothenburg placed third. In Virsbo on May 13, Daniel Olsson and Peter
Lindström each won a seat in this qualifier and secured their places in
representing Sweden. The event took place at Wirsbo Pokersällskaps clubhouse
in Virsbo.

During May, Swedish players can compete for free to represent Sweden in the
Everest Poker European Championship finale being held at the Casino de
Barcelona on 9 September 2006. The finale will be a free roll offering a
?50,000 prize pool. Upcoming Sweden live qualifiers are in Nyköping and
Kristianstad. “We are bringing two really good poker players to Barcelona
from the Virsboro event,” said Jack Hansen, Everest Poker Event Manager.
“There is a strong possibility that one of these players will walk away with
first prize in September.”

The Everest Poker European Championship (EPEC) is open to all Europeans. The
event will consist of a series of free poker tournaments in 7 countries
including Sweden, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Holland, and Denmark from
March to June 2006. Players from all over Europe can also qualify at free,
online satellites at EverestPoker.com from May to August 2006.

Ultimately, 100 players from throughout Europe will qualify to represent
their country in a European Championship finale which will take place at the
world famous Casino de Barcelona in Spain on September 9, 2006. The prize
pool for this free roll is ?50,000 offered by Everest Poker.

Post at 8:37 am UTC by Jerry

May 30th, 2006

Pechanga Puts Additional High School on $400,000 Contribution Roster

As reported by the Temecula News: “…In an effort to enrich the educational
experiences of local high school students, the tribal leaders and the
management of Pechanga Resort & Casino have committed to making a yearly
donation of $50,000 to each of the high schools in the Temecula Valley. This
contribution is expected to offset the costs associated with academics,
extracurricular activities, athletics and scholarship programs. “With the
recent addition of Lakeside High School in Lake Elsinore, eight local high
schools each received a $50,000 check during a special luncheon on
Wednesday, May 24, at Pechanga. Representatives from those eight high
schools, including principals, teachers and students, gathered with the
members of the Pechanga Development Corporation and the Pechanga Tribal
Council…”

Post at 7:09 am UTC by Jerry

Choctaw Casino Faces Hurdles for Approval

As reported by the Mississippi Press: “The Choctaws’ plan to build a casino
in Jackson County isn’t quite as simple as a roll of the dice, despite
public perception that the tribe can do pretty much whatever it wants. “In
fact, winning federal, state and local support for a casino resort may be
the tribe’s biggest gamble yet. “…The Choctaws also have to convince the
governor to allow a casino — Haley Barbour has balked at their proposal —
and have requested the support of Jackson County voters, who have
overwhelmingly rejected gaming in the past. “But before jumping those
hurdles, the Choctaws must place their 100 acres of land, located along
Miss. 57 near Interstate 10, into a trust for the purposes of gaming, as
required by The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. “…In order for all
100 acres to be considered for gaming, the tribe must follow five steps set
out in the act and one self-imposed requirement…”

Post at 7:09 am UTC by Jerry

Inside Gaming Column: $30 Million an Acre Called Too Much for Tropicana

Wall Street analysts examining the Columbia Sussex Corp. deal to buy Aztar
Corp. tell us the $54 a share price amounts to an astronomical record $30
million an acre for the 34-acre Tropicana site at the south edge of the
Strip. They reached the estimate by looking at how much the Tropicana in
Atlantic City and Aztar’s Midwest properties contribute to its financial
performance. Quietly, they say Pinnacle Entertainment was smart to bow out.
They say that combining Aztar with Columbia Sussex makes operational sense.
But the strain on finances and human resources for Columbia Sussex to
develop its first megaresort may prove overwhelming. More to come.

Nevada has more Starbucks stores per resident than any other state,
something overlooked in recent reports about the Seattle-based chain.
Industry analysts told us the reasons were a combination of three factors:
wise investments since Starbucks owns most of its stores and land in Las
Vegas has been leading the nation in appreciation, savvy marketing and a
caffeine-craze driven by Las Vegas’ 24-hour economy where many casino
workers never sleep, or so it seems.

A lot of readers took exception to remarks by MGM Mirage Chairman Terry
Lanni, reported here, that it’s unfair to discriminate against immigrant
workers who have helped build our economy and companies such as MGM Mirage,
and it’s impractical to talk about shipping illegal immigrants back home.
Experts, however, say at reasonable rates and given government escort
policies, it could take a century to send them all back. Plus,
three-quarters of the touted 12 million figure are simply undocumented
because of U.S. government foul-ups or the intimidation it has encouraged.
Lanni seems to have a point.

Wall Street analysts are touting sales in MGM Mirage’s three-tower Signature
development as a barometer of land values on the Strip. The sales price per
square foot for the hotel-condos has climbed to a death-defying $1,057 per
square foot, the cost of construction is actually coming in lower than
expected, sales are going great guns and profits are surging. Extrapolate
from that and it’s not hard to imagine land at $25 million an acre,
realistic or not.

What does this tell you about your investments? By Thanksgiving, mutual
funds will be required to file the same anti-money laundering reports with
the U.S. Treasury Department as casino operators. Treasury officials say the
new requirements are part of a campaign to nab drug dealers, terrorists and
other criminals who launder money. It sounds as if Al Capone’s got our
money.

Gaming Wire Editor Rod Smith can be reached by phone at 477-3893 or by
e-mail at rsmith@reviewjournal.com.

Post at 7:08 am UTC by Jerry

Gambling Beyond Nevada : Just Like Vegas, Half a World Away

The first time he saw China’s planned Cotai Strip development four years
ago, Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson thought the Chinese
government was banishing him to some faraway no-man’s land. Much of the
Cotai Strip was submerged under several feet of water. Engineers were just
beginning to reclaim land from the South China Sea and transform the area
into an industrial complex. Adelson had other ideas. Las Vegas Sands Corp.,
was already spending close to $300 million to build a Sands casino on the
waterfront of the Macau Peninsula, a former Portuguese colonial region that
is the only place in China where gambling is legal.

Government sponsors asked Adelson to look at Cotai, which is just minutes
south of Macau by car, as another potential gaming destination.

“At first, I thought it was political exile,” Adelson recalled. “I thought
(rival Chinese casino developer) Stanley Ho had some influence that he got
me off the peninsula because that’s where he believes the center of
everything is. All I was hoping was that I could get a location in which I
could really do something.”

By the end of the decade, Cotai, which derives its name from its position
between the islands of Taipa and Coloane, could be home to more than a dozen
hotels with 20,000 rooms, casinos, showrooms, restaurants, convention space,
shops and a 15,000-seat sports arena.

Adelson guided Cotai’s development, persuading some of the world’s largest
and most profitable hotel chains to join Las Vegas Sands in opening
locations on the Cotai Strip. North American hotel companies, such as
Hilton, Starwood and Four Seasons will join Asian hotel company Shangri-La
to build properties using some of the world’s most recognizable brands —
Sheraton, St. Regis, Intercontinental, Conrad and Holiday Inn.

The hotel operators will manage their own rooms and restaurants. Las Vegas
Sands will run the properties’ casinos and showrooms.

The anchor centerpiece of the Cotai Strip, the $3 billion Las Vegas
Sands-owned Venetian Macau, is well under construction on slightly more than
67 acres. It will open in 2007.

With 3,000 rooms, 565,000 square feet of casino space, a 1
million-square-foot convention and meeting center, a 2,000-seat showroom and
a 1 million-square-foot version of the Grand Canal Shoppes, the Venetian
Macau emulates its sister property, The Venetian in Las Vegas.

The sports arena is also part of the Venetian site.

The development of Cotai helps complete a personal vision for the
72-year-old Adelson: creating a second, somewhat smaller, Las Vegas.

In a long interview with the Review-Journal, Adelson, the majority
shareholder in Las Vegas Sands, said developing Cotai almost didn’t happen
until he investigated the location.

“When I went out to see it, I said to myself ‘this could be what I’m
dreaming about. I could create another Las Vegas,’” Adelson said. “That’s
when I got excited about (Cotai). Nobody wanted this and it wasn’t even land
anyway. It was just a bay.”

Adelson said architects and planners helped his company devise a U-shaped
Strip with seven sites covering a little more than 147 acres. Each site
could hold several hotel-casinos. Adelson thought Asia, which includes
China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore, deserved its own Las Vegas.

“There isn’t anybody who knows anything about hospitality, lodging, casinos
and entertainment that would deny, if you picked up Las Vegas and brought it
over to anywhere in Asia, it would be a grand slam home run,” Adelson said.

Adelson said he had little trouble conveying his vision and encouraging
hotel operators to build on Cotai. Many of the hotel sites could be under
construction by 2007. One 15-acre site controlled by Las Vegas Sands remains
in development negotiations.

Even rival casino developer Steve Wynn, who Adelson says at first scoffed at
the idea of developing Cotai, is asking the Chinese government for
permission to build three or four casino-hotels on about 50 acres of Cotai
Strip property east of Las Vegas Sands’ development.

“All you have to do is go over there,” Adelson said. “You can’t help but see
it if you go over there.”

Wall Street analysts estimate Cotai, which is about 25 miles from Hong Kong
via ferry, could lead one of the world’s most lucrative gambling markets.

By decade’s end, Cotai Strip casinos, along with casinos in Macau, could
collectively report anywhere between $15 billion and $18 billion in annual
gaming revenue. In 2005, Macau casinos, including the Sands Macau which
opened in 2004, churned out almost $6 billion in gaming revenue. By
comparison, Nevada, the nation’s leading casino market, reported gaming
revenues of $11.6 billion in 2005, an all-time record.

Macau casinos operated by Wynn Resorts Ltd. and MGM Mirage are scheduled to
open in the next 12 months.

“A lot is going to depend upon how loose the Chinese government gets in
opening up travel restrictions,” said Steven Wieczynski, gaming analyst for
Stifel Nicolaus in Baltimore. “There are anywhere from 2 billion to 3
billion people living a short distance from Macau and Cotai. Once those nice
properties are built on Cotai, a lot of people are going to want to get over
there. Our estimates have been $11 billion (in gaming revenues by the end of
the decade) but we’re a little conservative. While $15 billion is a big
number, it’s absolutely doable.”

Wieczynski said savvy investors understand what Las Vegas Sands is doing in
China.

In March, Las Vegas Sands shares were trading in the $50 price range on the
New York Stock Exchange. The company’s stock price climbed to a 52-week high
of $72.69 on May 9 but investor profit-taking brought the share price down
below $60 this past week. However, shares in the company closed at $69.63
Friday on news that Las Vegas Sands won its bid to build a $3.6 billion
resort in Singapore.

Much of Cotai’s approximately 250 acres has been reclaimed and is being
prepared for development.

Adelson said the Cotai Strip will create, in essence, two Macaus. The
downtown area, dominated by the Sands Macau, Stanley Ho’s Lisboa casino, and
the soon-to-open Wynn Macau and MGM Grand Macau, will be the domain of
day-trip Chinese gamblers. The Cotai resorts will be packed with destination
travelers.

Though competitors may disagree, Adelson thinks the Cotai Strip properties
will be the true destination resorts in Macau; he envisions free-spending
gamblers and tourists flocking there.

“Downtown (Macau) is not a destination market,” Adelson said. “When my
competitors say they are building a destination resort, to me, it’s like
saying you’re building a destination resort in downtown Las Vegas. You have
to be sensitive enough to the market to understand what the people want and
what they respond to. I frequently touch the numbers and I know what’s going
on over there, and it’s not a destination resort.”

But revenue from casinos in the Macau Peninsula area won’t vanish. His
company’s Sands Casino is expanding, ready to capitalize on its location
less than a mile from Macau’s ferry terminal.

Gaming analysts agree with Adelson’s assessment that Macau’s market will
change.

Wieczynski said Macau could see a boost in day-trip gamblers who would flood
the downtown casinos while high-end gamblers gravitate toward the Cotai
properties.

Expansion of the Macau International Airport to accommodate more airline
traffic and the building of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge by 2011 or
2012 would connect regions now separated by water.

Susquehanna Financial Group gaming analyst Brian McGill said pent-up demand
for more gambling in Macau will drive the market. He said the Cotai Strip
will turn the area into a true travel destination.

“What they’ve done with the Sands Macau has already exceeded everyone’s
expectations,” McGill said of the casino, which reported revenues of $278.2
million and cash flow of $103.4 million in 2006′s first quarter.

“There is a lot that doesn’t exist in Macau that Las Vegas Sands is helping
to create,” McGill said. “(Adelson) is clearly a visionary in the industry
and he’s been proven right more times than he has been wrong. There was a
lot of skepticism on Macau and Cotai early, but most have come around and
believe he’ll be right on this.”

One early skeptic was Wynn.

In a 2005 interview with Fortune magazine, Adelson said Wynn dismissed any
notion of building on Cotai, a claim he repeated recently to the
Review-Journal. Adelson even offered witnesses to corroborate his story,
people who were with him when he approached Wynn outside a meeting in Macau
and proposing a partnership in the Cotai project.

“I said ‘Steve, I have this idea about doing a Strip. I think if you and I
did it together, it would be unbeatable,’” Adelson recalled. “He turned me
down flat. He said it was the most stupid idea he had ever heard in his
whole life. I think he now sees that it is happening and everybody is trying
to buy into it, so now it’s a perfect time. Of course, when he gets ready to
open his first (casino), I’ll have seven hotel-casinos open on Cotai.”

Wynn was traveling last week and could not be reached for comment.

To complement its projects on Cotai, Las Vegas Sands signed an agreement in
October with the city of Zhuhai to master plan and build a 1,300-acre
nongaming resort on Hengquin Island, less than a mile from the Venetian
Macau site and a short trip by water taxi to the main areas of Macau.
Adelson said the Hengquin Island site, which will have golf courses, resort
villas and a marina, will serve as an amenity to Macau tourism.

Adelson said Cotai and Macau will combine to make the Chinese region the Las
Vegas of the Far East.

“In the Asian culture, there is a great propensity to play, but they’re not
gambling addicts,” Adelson said. “Gambling is a form of entertainment to
them and that’s their social activity to gamble. Every Chinese New Year,
they give family members little red envelopes with ‘lucky money.’ The
concept of luck is in all their thoughts.”

Although he believes Asian visitors will flock to Cotai, Adelson believes
few Americans will have any reason to venture halfway around the world to
visit.

“Would Americans want to go? No,” Adelson said. “I think Americans will go
for convention purposes. But Americans already have Las Vegas. Why would
they want to go to an Asian Las Vegas? To me, it’s a broadening of the
market so that Asians will want to come to the real Las Vegas, which is the
mecca of entertainment.”

Post at 7:08 am UTC by Jerry