Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino should be ready for work by Memorial Day weekend in May 2018, following the full makeover it will go through over the next year. The former Indian-themed site of Trump Taj Mahal is going to be revamped into its brand new rock ‘n’ roll self and open for business next spring.
Joe Emanuele, Senor Vice President of Design and Construction for Hard Rock International, said that the process of demolition of the building should begin in the following month and the initial part of the construction of the new building is expected to start in August. The gambling venue will be the first with the Hard Rock brand in Atlantic City area, which is well-known among casino connoisseurs as the second-largest US gambling destination after Las Vegas.
Trump Taj Mahal renovations which will commence this summer will give many people the opportunity to be employed in the construction of the property – about 1,000 positions, to be precise, which will inevitably make the process much more time-efficient and beneficial for both parties. The 4.2 million square feet space will go through a complete metamorphosis in order to become the modern facility of one of the leading brands in the entertainment and gambling field.
The purchase of the Trump Taj Mahal, notoriously known for its bankruptcy and many financial issues, happened this March and the deal amounted to $50 million. The Seminole Tribe of Florida which owns Hard Rock International decided to make the site worth visiting again and transform its best and most profitable version. The most recent owner of the casino, billionaire Carl Icahn reached a deal with Hard Rock and now it is only a matter of time till the new project becomes reality.
In the plans of the casino site, there are a hotel, casino, a wide variety of retail shipping options and leading brands restaurants as well as an entertainment facility. The gambling industry in Atlantic City is hoping that this step will move further the progress in the area and increase the overall revenue. There have been some difficult situations in the recent years when it comes to gambling and profits from the casinos in Atlantic City, but statistics show that the revenue has jumped with more than 10% in comparison to last spring.
Jim Allen, Chairman of Hard Rock International and Chief Executive of Seminole Gaming, has big hopes regarding the future development of the Atlantic City gambling industry and the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in particular. The new hotel is expected to give the whole area a boost and turn it into the gambling jewel it was destined to be.
Trinidad and Tobago’s new tax-heavy plan affected the gaming industry after six of the country’s casinos decided to suspend operations and all the casino workers lost their jobs. This Monday, Trinidad and Tobago’s Finance MinisterColm Imbert introduced the new budget plan for the next fiscal year. According to it, the taxes imposed on land-based casinos are to double by the beginning of the next year. And if there are a few factors, that determine a market’s attractiveness, taxation is the most important of all.
Following the announcement of the higher tax rates on land-based casino operations, expected to come into effect in January 2018, many gambling operators started to express their discontent. Six small local casinos already announced their decision to shut doors, as the new tax rates will leave them threadbare. This resulted in many people losing their jobs. Apart from these six small casinos, other international big gambling operators also warned the country’s officials that they will exit the country’s market providing that the government does not reverse its decision.
The new tax system may appear to be much less successful than anticipated. Experts warn that it may not produce the desired effect of gambling operators generating additional tax revenue. It can be even said that the country’s gambling market is to significantly decline, because many operators will rush through the door in the wake of the new tax system.
Apart from the damaged gambling industry, many people will lose their jobs.It was reported that there are more than 9,000 people, who are directly hired. These are usually people, who are in an urgent need of a job. It was also explained that a prosperous casino industry also boosts the small- and middle-sized business. Union of Members’ Clubs and Lottery Workers (UMCLW) vice president Sean Clarke even noted that over 30,000 people are indirectly hired in the gaming industry, including taxi drivers, decorators, caterers, security personnel and others. Many of the casino employees also expressed their discontent triggered by the new tax plan.
In an interview with T&T Guardian, T&T Members Club Association (TTMCA) president Sherry Persad explained that the union will not let the gambling industry to go to the bad and it is to respond to the government’s decision in a lawful manner. The global gambling industry has witnessed similar scenarios of countries imposing too high taxes or regulations. Such actions have produced the same effect – reputable operators suspending operations.
Trinidad and Tobago’s New Tax System
As aforementioned, the new tax system was introduced by Trinidad and Tobago’s Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Monday this week. In case that the lawmakers approve the plan, it is to impose a 10% tax on players’ lottery winnings. Apart from that, operators will be obliged to pay a flat fee of TTD 120k (US $17,820) on each electronic roulette machine in public places, while all other electronic gambling machines will be imposed a fee of TTD 6k ($891) per unit. The gaming halls across the country will pay an annual slot machine fee worth TTD 24k. The fees on gambling tables will also double along with the import tax on electronic gambling machines. The sharp tax decrease is triggered by the economic crisis, which the country experiences at present.
Online operators that provide gambling services across Victoria are not really happy with the latest proposal for a new tax regime. Some time ago, Victoria government unveiled a plan to impose a 15% point of consumption tax on the bookmakers. In that way, South Australia has become the first state to adopt such a levy imposed on the online gambling operators.
The new tax regime produced the expected effect of vexed operators asking for lower taxes. Currently, Victoria government is facing the important question of how much taxes the bookmakers should pay. After South Australia introduced a point of consumption tax on corporate bookies last year, Western Australia and all other states wasted no time to embrace the idea.
If there are multiple factors that determine the profitability of the online gambling industry, taxation tops the list. Most of the online gambling companies that operate in Australia are licensed in the Northern Territory, but their major operations are based in Melbourne in most of the cases. That comes as no surprise, having in mind the low license fee in the Northern Territory. In that sense, the operators do not pay any taxes to the jurisdictions, in which they operate.
The online betting companies, on the other hand, explained that corporate bookmakers provide a solid financial support to the country’s economy, supporting Racing Victoria and other sports. As a result, Victoria’s Treasurer Tim Pallas has been under pressure for quite some time as bookmakers ask him to adopt a lower license fee. The bookmakers have already put the wheels in motion. Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA), the body that represents the Australian online wagering industry, has been tasked with filing the online betting companies’ case to the State Government.
In an official statement, the executive director of RWA, ex-Labor Senator Stephen Conroy, explained that the RWA’s main goal is to ensure that the officials from all Australian states are familiar with the online gambling industry’s contribution to the economy and the point of consumption tax rate complies with that.
Online Gambling Industry’s Contributions to the Australian Economy
Mr. Conroy backed up his statement with figures. He explained that the online gambling industry created more than 900 jobs in 2016/17 fiscal year. Apart from that, the online gambling industry provided a financial help of $78 million to the racing industry and $11 million to support Victoria’s tourism sector. Racing Victoria chief executive officer, Giles Thompson, noted that the State Government should be aware of the negative economic outcome that any proposed tax hike might trigger.
The gambling industry has already witnessed a similar scenario, when English lawmakers imposed a 15% point of consumption tax in 2014. Industry insiders explained that the new taxation system did not affect the operators’ revenue in any way. However, the country was the most affected party as the industry contributions dramatically shrunk.
Anti-gambling activists, on the other hand, welcomed the idea of the tax hike. They explained that Victoria should keep pace with all other Australian states when it comes to the tax imposed on the online gambling operators. Anti-gambling advocate Tim Costello believes that the new tax regime will also crack down on gambling ad “bombardment”.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corrupt officials is expected to hit the profitability of the British Columbia Lottery Corp. (BCLC), revealed official documents obtained by Postmedia via freedom of information request. The gambling industry is to feel the squeeze as the Chinese President is targeting the murky world of the corrupt officials for years. Documents revealed that the biggest portion of BCLC’s gambling revenue came from the so-called “whale” gamblers from China and Macau, who do not hesitate to drop millions on a single bet.
A slide presentation prepared by BCLC’s anti-money-laundering director, Ross Alderson, provided a detailed prognosis of the expected result from China’s anti-corruption drive on British Columbia’s gambling revenue. The presentation also provided information about the possible risks, which the gambling revenue reaped from VIP gamblers can hide.
The presentation was firstly introduced in front of Vancouver’s association of certified fraud examiners in November 2016. A BCLC spokesperson explained that the presentation aimed at providing a detailed information regarding the corporation’s anti-money laundering programs. Government documents also allege that an illegal money-transfer business in Richmond used to lend suspected drug-dealer cash to high-roller Chinese gamblers. The “whale” gamblers used large amounts of small bills to buy chips in B.C. casinos.
What Lies Beneath the Surface
Last earlier, Casino Reports produced an article related to the most common profession among the regular VIP rollers, who are allegedly involved in the network. However, Alderson’s presentation suggested that these Chinese high-rollers could be affected by various political and economic factors in China, including alleged corruption among Chinese officials, the dramatic decrease in gambling revenue in Macau, and many others. Among all other factors, the deal between China and Canada to share the illicit assets obtained by Chinese fugitives took a central place.
Alderson’s presentation did not provide any further information regarding the possible effect of the alleged police operations by China in B.C on the VIP gamblers. A well-known case of Chinese agents entering Canada in attempt to catch a financial fugitive refer to Lai Changxing, who is allegedly the kingpin of a billion-dollar smuggling operation in China.
Other documents obtained by Postmedia revealed that B.C.’s gaming policy enforcement branch has conducted an audit in an attempt to find out if any of the top 100 Chinese fugitives has been involved in gambling activities in any of the gambling establishments across B.C. The audit alleged that 8 suspects from China’s “SkyNet List” might have been involved in gambling activities at a certain moment. The Chinese crackdown on corrupt officials, who may be laundering money through B.C. casinos will undoubtedly eat away B.C.’s gambling revenue, but that is a must-step in combating money laundering activities in casinos.
The insider trading case against David Baazov, former CEO of Canada’s largest online gambling company Amaya (recently rebranded into The Stars Group) has been postponed to give Baazov’s attorneys time to read through more than 4 million pieces of evidence and prepare the defense. Judge Salvatore Mascia of the Court of Quebec, who is overseeing the trial, has approved Baazov’s lawyers request for a delay in the trial. The trial, which was initially scheduled to commence on 26th February, will now start on 16th April.
In late January, provincial court Judge Salvatore Mascia refused to stay the charges against David Baazov. On 17th October last year, Baazov’s attorneys had filed a motion with the Court of Quebec in an attempt to dismiss charges against Baazov. Baazov’s team of lawyers motivated their motion with the so-called Jordan ruling, under which less serious offenses should be wrapped up within 18 months.
As it can be recalled, Baazov’s trial was set to commence on 20th November last year, but the prosecutors failed to move Baazov’s case forward in a timely manner. According to Baazov’s lawyers, prosecutors have started to investigate a hard drive containing 16 million documents on 21st September, giving no time to Baazov’s attorneys to read through all the documents.
Even though Judge Salvatore Mascia refused to dismiss the charges against Baazov, Judge Salvatore Mascia agreed to postpone the trial, giving some extra time to Baazov’s defense team to review the documents. According to reliable sources, the trial will continue for a period of 70 days, spreading over four days a week.
The Long Story in a Nutshell
The investigation started in June 2014 after Amaya took over the privately held Oldford Group, the owner of online poker websites PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. In March 2016, Quebec securities regulator Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) charged Baazov and two other defendants with 23 criminal charges of insider trading and market manipulation.
Baazov is accused of “aiding trades while in possession of privileged information, influencing or attempting to influence the market price of the securities of Amaya and communicating privileged information”. In wake of the charges against him, Baazov submitted “not guilty” plea. Almost two years after the security regulator of the Canadian province of Quebec filed the charges against Baazov and other defendants, the trial is still stuck in the courtroom.
Supposing that the court finds Baazov guilty of the charges relating to market manipulation and insider trading, it may impose him a fine of up to $5 million and Baazov may spend up to 5 years behind bars. The trial that started in Montreal is the largest of its kind.
Friday evening put an end to any hopes for a gambling legislation in Florida, as lawmakers failed to agree on a bill before the end of the legislative session. Without the long-anticipated gambling package, it is unclear whether legislators will have an opportunity to work on this issue as the November ballot may give voters full control of future decisions regarding casinos and gambling.
Republican leaders were willing to pass a legislation that would address gambling in the State of Florida, where it is practically illegal, with the exception of horse and dog tracks, and casinos owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Members of the House and the Senate, however, could not agree on a law, as two separate bills, Senate Bill 840 and House Bill 7067, were proposed by the two legislative branches in the final days of the session.
By Thursday, the two opposing bills were in the conference committee, but lawmakers could not reach an agreement, which prompted their leaders to finally abandon the gambling legislation. In a joint statement, Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran announced that a gambling bill would not pass the Legislature this session. In the statement, released Friday night, they also admit that this is one of the most difficult issues they have dealt with, but note that after all, some progress has been made during the past week.
In November, voters will be asked whether gambling-related proposals shall be sanctioned in statewide referendums. If such decision is made, lawmakers will no longer have control over laws about casinos and betting in the state, with voters having the mandate to approve or say “No” to any future gambling bills.
Despite the progress Negron and Corcoran talk about in their statement, however, the lack of new gambling legislation leaves the State without a new agreement with the Seminoles. That is expected to cost state coffers $300 million a year.
Ramifications Caused by the Lack of Gambling Legislation
The most immediate concern for the State of Florida should be that the Compact with the Seminoles will not be renewed. The pact signed in 2010 gave the tribe exclusivity over offering banked card games such as blackjack but this particular provision expired in 2015, leading to long legal battles and efforts by lawmakers to strike a new deal with the Seminoles.
One of the biggest problems was the so-called player-designated games in pari-mutuels, which according to the tribe and the court decision, violated the tribal monopoly since they play much like blackjack. After Florida regulators promised to “aggressively enforce” the ban on player-designated games in all venues but Seminole casinos, the tribe announced it would maintain its revenue-sharing agreement with the state, paying $300 million a year as per the banked card games provision.
According to the 2015 court ruling, however, the tribe is free to withhold the payments to the state from March 31 and without a new deal, this could mean a budget loss of $300 million a year. No decisions have been made regarding the number of slot machines in tribal casinos, the proposal about the decoupling of greyhound racing, and about the legality of fantasy gaming.
The 25 May show by rapper Pitbull at Caesars Windsor has been postponed as the labour strike at the casino resort enters its second month. In a statement on its website, the resort announced that hotel reservations for the rest of May have been cancelled, while several shows at the Colosseum have been postponed due to the labour disruption.
The hotel and casino resort at Windsor, Ontario, has been closed for over a month since workers announced a strike on April 6. They rejected a tentative agreement that had been previously negotiated between the casino and a bargaining team from the labour union Unifor Local 444. The union represents around 2,300 Caesars Windsor employees, including casino dealers, cooks, servers, guest room attendants, and more. After workers walked off the job last month, the resort has shut down operations, cancelling all hotel bookings and all shows at the 5,000-seated theatre, the Colosseum.
According to the latest announcement on Caesars Windsor website, all hotel reservations booked through May 31 have been cancelled. All concerts for the remainder of May have been postponed, including Pitbull (May 25), Lee Brice (May 26), and Daniel O’Donnell (May 27). The shows would be rescheduled on dates that are yet to be determined. Room reservations beyond May 31 will remain booked and all shows in June will remain scheduled on their original dates until further notice. In a statement, Kevin Laforet, Caesars Entertainment Regional President, says that customers should receive an advance notice to make alternate plans.
This is the third time the casino has announced cancellations and it has not been easy, Laforet admits. At the same time, communication between the resort and its employees have been extremely difficult, too, especially after workers hit the picket line at the beginning of April. Negotiations over the new collective agreement between Caesars Windsor and its employees started back in February, but the two sides have not been able to reach a deal ever since. According to workers’ representatives from Unifor Local 444, the casino simply does not want to return to the bargaining table and forces people to resume work by “starving them out”. Caesars Windsor did not comment.
No Sign of a Resolution Any Time Soon
This is not the first time Caesars Windsor workers announce strike action and shut down the resort. Last time, in the spring of 2004, the hotel and the casino remained closed for six weeks. So far, the two sides show no signs of willingness to reach a resolution to the problem any time soon. Since talks broke off April 18, casino officials and the union have not come to the bargaining table. Whether the strike would continue much longer remains to be seen, but it would certainly have a financial impact on the casino at least in the short term.
If Caesars Windsor does not open by the end of the month, the negative effect on revenues would be even more significant. Since this is the largest casino resort of this kind in Ontario and certainly one of the largest employers in Windsor, there would also be consequences for the local tourism and economy. On April 18, the casino rejected a proposal by Unifor’s bargaining team but did not come up with an alternative. The major issue on which the two sides cannot find a common ground is, of course, the payment. Previously, the casino offered over 11 per cent improvement of wages and benefits over a three-year period. It was proposed that the average hourly wage would be raised from $18.67 to $20.62, but workers did not find the figures satisfying.
Despite the fact that it has already received approval by Delta City Council earlier this summer, some opponents of the planned casino complex in Ladner believe the project must be put as a question on the upcoming municipal election ballot in October.
Some people who protested against the casino expansion have still been urging local authorities to include the project in a referendum in order to check local residents鈥?opinion.
Recently, one opponent of the casino and hotel project has asked the city to add the matter as a simple question requiring a 鈥測es鈥?or 鈥渘o鈥?answer to the October ballot to see whether local voters support the expansion. In response to that letter, it was revealed that final consideration regarding the permission of the casino and hotel complex鈥?construction had been given by the Delta City Council.
Reportedly, the application has been sent to the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), seeking a final approval. Still, a resolution of the City Council would be required in order for the matter to be included on the ballot set for October 20th as a 鈥渘on-binding鈥?question seeking the local community鈥檚 opinion. The council resolution, however, needs to be provided at its next meeting set for September 17th, in order to meet the deadlines regarding ballot design and printing materials.
City Coucil Gives Delta Casino Preliminary Approval with 4-2 Vote
Earlier this year, the proposed Delta Casino got a preliminary approval by the City Council, which greenlighted the project with a 4-2 vote in favor of Gateway鈥檚 application. The casino and hotel complex, called Delta Cascades Casino, has been estimated at a total of CA$70 million. The gambling and entertainment complex is to be built at the Delta Town & Country site, with construction works set to start this fall, with the grand opening of the complex expected to be held in 2020.
BCLC gave its preliminary approval for a Delta-based casino in 2017, with Gateway Casinos and Entertainment being chosen as the future operator of the facility. A number of consultations, meetings and information campaigns have been held across the city since then, with the first and second reading of the proposed casino expansion given in April 2018. Following a public hearing held at the beginning of May, Delta City Council finally gave its approval of the project, despite the fact that the majority of the people being present at the meeting said they were strongly against the casino.
As Casino Reports revealed earlier, the proposed gambling facility which will be run under the Cascades鈥?branding, is set to be situated at the Delta Town and Country Inn site in Ladner. According to the project presented by Gateway Casinos, it would feature about 500 slot machines and up to 24 gaming tables, and the adjacent hotel facility would have up to 124 rooms.
The latest meeting of the Sudbury City Council ended up with a vote backing the Council’s 2017 decision regarding the Kingsway Entertainment District.
Councillor Gerry Montpellier has brought a formal question on the Council’s agenda, with the Kingsway Entertainment District, and more specifically, the proposed casino project, being involved in the discussion. The motion, however, was declared as a reassessment of last year’s Council resolution on the Kingsway project by Mayor Brian Bigger – a move that meant that councilors had to put the project on vote again.
It did not take long for sparks to fly at the City Council’s meeting so that Eric Labelle, a city clerk, had to put the situation under control. He explained that a “no” vote on the councilor Montpellier’s motion would mean that the project would be reaffirmed.
According to him, such discussions are not normally held on open sessions.
“That’s not something we would typically discuss in open session and we should be moving into closed session to have that discussion.” – Eric Labelle
The Sudbury City Council voted 11-1 not to discuss the project, which councilor Montpellier once again described as a conflict of interest. He first did this more than a year earlier. On the previous occasion, the Council voted 10-2 in favor of the Kingsway project. According to Dario Zulich, a local developer, the vote once again provided affirmation that the casino and entertainment project is valuable for the region.
Obligatory Public Meeting to Be Held in November
Meanwhile, an obligatory public meeting called a Case Management Conference was scheduled for November 6th, 2018 by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) as the next step in the ongoing debate regarding the Kingsway Entertainment District development in Greater Sudbury.
The local regulatory body has already confirmed that the appeals which the opponents of the project had rolled out are valid. The LPAT, however, said that enough facts and evidence are required to be gathered, and the two parties must try to find a way for mediation. As Casino Reports previously revealed, four appeals have been filed, with them regarding different aspects of the Greater Sudbury casino project.
The casino project now needs the court’s permission in spite of the fact that Sudbury City Council has already given it the green light. The court’s resolution is expected to put an end to the ongoing battle of the supporters and opponents of the new gambling and entertainment project, with the proponents of the casino remaining optimistic about its future.
The Kingsway Entertainment District proposal was given the green light earlier this year, with the project proceeding despite the appeals. It still remains unclear when Sudbury would finally get the planned new gaming and entertainment center. James McKenzie, the associate chair of the LPAT, said in May that issuing a resolution on the matter could take up to 12 months.
Games of chances and games of skills have sparked the interest and controversy around them for many years now and there are some instances when the very title could spark debate. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario continues its ongoing battle against Got Skill? games operating outside casino venues by appealing a September ruling of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
The definition of a game of skill is a game that determines its outcome with the help of a given mental or physical skill, instead of chance. Slot machines are usually considered being games of chance and as such, they are located in casino venues. However, the Got Skill? slot devices are one of the marginal controversial topics that appear to be stirring the pot ever since 2017. This is when the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario filed the case in the provincial Superior Court of Justice aiming to clarify the dispute.
Games of Chance Must not Operate Outside Licensed Gambling Facilities
Official hearing of this case took place on May 31, 2018, making an attempt to clarify the situation. According to the distributor of the slot machines in question, Play For Fun Studios Inc. the devices are considered games of skill because players learn how much they are going to win at the end of they perform well and showcase their skills. In this sense, the outcome is determined solely by the skills they demonstrate.
To this definition, the respondent states that the slot devices are, in fact, games of mixed skill because it usually happens that players enjoy multiple rounds of gaming action. Once they finish the first round how much they may win in the next round solely depends on chance. Taking this into account, they claimed that Got Skill? is a game that mixes the two things, making it unsuitable for operation outside casino venues across Ontario.
September 2018 saw the court ruling that the slot game is, in fact, a skill-based game which essentially granted the developer the permission to continue operation outside gambling venues. Various entertainment and spare time locations such as bars and high-traffic areas where as many people as possible could make their way to the devices. Problem gambling concerns, as well as claims that this operation is in direct breach with the existing Criminal Code, prompted the most recent turn of events.
Liquor License Holders Benefit from Operation
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario decides it would be best if it appealed the decision issued in September 2018 and seek justice in this situation. Hundreds of Liquor License holders could lose their right to operate said slot devices that eventually attract more customers to their locations. Their revenue also increases as a result of the Got Skill? machines, meaning that the court battle will continue being heated.
Cities to the likes of North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, and Timmins feature such gaming devices. It is known that those regions enjoy quite the gaming crowd and players appreciate the accessibility of said slot machines. But they are also capable of making gaming a normal spare time activity, further encouraged by the good company and alcohol offered in bars.
Tony Carvalho, President of Got Skill? stated that at the moment the company works in collaboration with the government in order to come up with a mutually beneficial plan for action including a resolution. This will make unlikely the scenario of job cuts within the structure of the provider. Upcoming weeks are set to see more development after the Commission’s decision to appeal.