Archive for February, 2012

William Hill Looking to Expand in U.S.

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Europe’s leading gaming and sports betting business, William Hill Plc., discussed the topic of expansion while reporting earnings this past Friday.  The ever-growing UK bookmaker pointed to its interest in the United States for both land-based and online opportunities.

With a long-standing tradition in the gambling industry, William Hill employs over 15,000 people worldwide and has over 2,300 betting shops.  While it is involved in various aspects of the gambling industry, including the internet sector (courtesy of UK  Online Casino Club), the company is most known for its sports betting heritage – dating back over 75 years.

William Hill’s CEO Ralph Topping discussed the company’s strength and forward-looking goals involving expansion.  Following the earnings report on Friday, Topping told reporters, “We will look to expand outside the UK.  I think we are in good shape now as a business to look seriously at further expansion … Ideally, it would be a multi-channel operation, but online is also attractive to us.”

The company is currently awaiting approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission to purchase three US sports betting businesses.  Topping discussed his expectation that the NGC will grant the necessary licenses and went on to explain the additional benefits William Hill sees in purchasing these US businesses.  It seems that the widely held notion that state-by-state legalization is on its way factors highly in the company’s plans for US expansion.

In addition to the United States, William Hill has its eyes on European countries for possible landing spots for its expansive efforts.  Seeing as countries like France and Italy are all further along in offering legalized online gambling to their citizens, one can easily understand the company’s interest in its European neighbors.  Spain, also onboard with online gambling, recently announced that it would soon begin awarding licenses to online casinos.

With the company’s continued success, indicated by its full year earnings report, one can expect that there will be many opportunities for William Hill to grown its business outside of the UK.

Massachusetts Considers Online Gambling

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Massachusetts State Treasurer, Steven Grossman has brought together a collection of experts to study the effects of a possible move towards legalizing online gambling.  To date, no US state has initiated such a program – but with recent statements from the Department of Justice indicating a tolerance for state-by-state legalization, many states in addition to Mass. are considering online gambling programs of their own.

Grossman, who already runs the commonwealth’s lottery program, has placed an emphasis on video poker games as one of the potential offerings that his commission should consider.  “I think we’ve got an obligation to the people of the commonwealth to study the whole basket of Internet gaming options — including online poker,” Grossman told reporters.

While poker fans will certainly hope that the commission advocates a program that includes online poker, a more conservative first step could simply be taking the lottery online.  One could easily imagine the sate offering virtual scratch-off lottery tickets to get the ball rolling.  Of course, a more expansive program would include licensing online casinos to operate legally within the state.

Proponents of Grossman initiating an online gambling program point to the increase in tax revenue that would be generated.  In addition to tax income, regulation seems to pop up consistently in the pros column when online gambling programs are discussed.  Everyone agrees that US citizens are participating in online gambling already via foreign online casinos – with legalization the state could protect gamers by regulating all casinos that receive a license to operate.

If Grossman’s commission experts are serious about studying the potential benefits and drawbacks to Massachusetts legalizing online gambling, they will certainly look towards Europe for examples of such programs.  Countries like France and Italy already have their own online gambling programs, and Spain has recently announced that it will begin awarding online casino licenses in the coming months.

Oscar Bonuses at Grande Vegas Casino

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Actor buddies Brad Pitt and George Clooney will face off in the Best Actor category at this Sunday night’s 84th annual Academy Awards. One might guess that these two sin city vets, known around the world for their work in casino heist flick Ocean’s Eleven, might have a friendly wager going on the outcome of Sunday’s festivities. While it may be fun to fantasize about what those two gents might consider a friendly wager, you can easily get in on the Oscar action yourself by taking advantage of a great offer going on now at Grande Vegas Casino.

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The movie buffs at Grande Vegas are offering 9 Oscar themed bonuses – one for each of the Best Picture nominees. Players can receive a 50% cash back bonus on deposits made with the winning film’s corresponding bonus code.

In addition to the Best Picture bonuses, players can win more bonuses by participating in the casino’s Facebook contest dubbed, “Oscars 2012 at Grande Vegas.” This is a follow up to the successful Valentine’s Day Facebook contest Grande Vegas held earlier this year.

In a press release announcing the Oscar bonuses, casino manager Oliver Smith said, “We can only guess which Hollywood stars will be winners, but we know we’ll have lots of Oscar winners right here at Grande Vegas. And I know they’re going to love all the exciting bonuses we’ve got this weekend!”

With 9 Best Picture nominees this year, fans have been complaining online about the Oscar’s expansion of its Best Picture category sighting financial motivations. Of course, the upside is that with more nominees, the chances that you have seen one of the films up for Best Picture this year increases as well. And that can be helpful when it comes to deciding which bonus code to go for when making your deposits this week at Grande Vegas!

Kentucky Gambling Bill Rethinks Language

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s effort to bring casino gambling to his state via a constitutional amendment received committee approval to move ahead with a full senate vote. The Senate Bill 151 had been revised since Beshear first introduced it and it seems that the changes in language have not satisfied all of the bill’s critics.

Of course no language changes would satisfy the number of religious organizations that are opposed to expanded gambling in Kentucky, but efforts to protect Kentucky’s famed horse racing industry have also been met with harsh criticism.

When it was first introduced, SB 151 had sought to protect the horse industry by guaranteeing that 5 of the 7 casino licenses the bill was allowing for would go to Kentucky horse tracks. This measure was particularly unpopular even amongst supporters of expanded gambling, and thus a revised version of 151 was offered up as a compromise. The new version no longer dictates that any of the 7 licenses will be awarded to horse tracks. And while that change seems to be appreciated by legislators not comfortable with using the state constitution to protect horse racing, a new provision in the bill has raised concerns with many of these same legislators.

The revised version now attempts to protect the horses by stipulating that no casino license can be awarded to any location within 60 miles of a Kentucky horse track. Of course, any of the 8 existing horse tracks can be awarded a license, – but if that doesn’t happen, Governor Beshear doesn’t want the tracks to have to compete with any nearby casinos. This of course creates the possibility that a city like Louisville could end up without a casino if its horse track isn’t awarded one of the 7 licenses. One might guess that this provision may be changed prior to the bill going before the full senate.

If SB 151 ultimately passes with the votes needed by the state legislator, it will go before the Kentucky voters in November.

Half Measures Not Enough in Maryland

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Maryland is considering expanding its rather conservative gambling policy in an effort to create jobs and drum up much needed state revenue. The last major effort by the state legislator on this front was in 2007. At that time a vote passed the General Assembly to allow Maryland voters to decide if they felt the state would benefit from 15,000 slot machines. In 2008 voters said yes, but four years later it seems that slot machines may not be enough.

To compete with neighboring states that offer more than just slots, voices in the Maryland state legislator are now clamoring for an expanded policy that would allow for table games. That would certainly make Maryland casinos more attractive to local and visiting gamblers, but it would also, possibly even more importantly, create jobs. Slot machines of course do not require dealers as table games do. A single employee can maintain a floor of slot machines, while on the other hand, a floor of table games, like blackjack and craps for instance, would require many more individuals to run properly.

More than just the inadequacy of a slots only gambling policy, Maryland has suffered from poor implementation. The vote in 2008 allowed for up to 15,000 slot machines at five casinos. To date, less than 3,000 slot machines are actually working in the state.

There are more casinos on the way, like the one opening later this year in Anne Arundel County. But the feeling that seems to rule the day now is that the state won’t be able to generate the income it needs without an expanded gambling policy that would allow for table games. Of course, if the Maryland state legislator is truly serious about initiating a more aggressive gambling policy in order to help pay the bills, then it will surely consider developing an online gambling program as well.

Zynga Discusses Online Gambling Future

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

zyngapoker-facebookSan Francisco based social network game developer Zynga – already dominating the virtual gaming scene with Zynga Poker – now has its eye on online gambling. What could a move like this mean for Zynga? Well, considering Zynga’s daily user base is in the millions, a successful move towards real money gambling could yield annual profits in the billions.

“It is very interesting”, Zynga Chief Operating Officer John Schappert said of online gambling while discussing the companies’ first quarterly report since the $1 billion stock offering they went public with in December.

The gaming industry at large has long been clamoring for the legalization of what is arguably one of America’s favorite online past times. And while online gambling has been a thriving business for some, many American companies like Zynga have stayed away due to fears of legal battles thus far deemed not worth fighting. But with recent statements from the Department of Justice indicating a potential for state-by-state legalization on the way, Zynga seems to think the time is now to make its move.

During the conference call, Schappert went on to say, “We are the leaders in online poker gaming, and we have the most social and popular poker game. So obviously we know the audience.”

Zynga is clearly well positioned with its huge user base to make a run at the online gambling market, but what is still unclear is when exactly state-by-state legalization will occur. This week’s setback regarding legalization in the District of Colombia indicates if nothing else that lawmakers do not all share the same views as far as legalization is concerned.

So it may be a while before you can play Zynga Poker for real money, but in the meantime, check out any of our top rated online casinos and we’ll point you in the right direction for all of your gaming needs.

MGM Ups Casino Rewards Program

Friday, February 17th, 2012

metrogoldwynmayerOne thing that most everyone can agree on – it feels great to get something for free. Rewards programs have been based on this principal since their inception. The more you purchase from a certain company, the more you are rewarded with points towards a free purchase.

Anyone with a frequent flyer program membership knows exactly how this works. What most people don’t know, however, is what it feels like to be rewarded for their spending on a trip to the casino. That is because the average casino rewards programs have traditionally been for gambling only. And the only gamblers that were benefitting regularly were the high rollers. But MGM Resorts international is taking a new approach.

With their new and improved “M Life” website, MGM is offering customers the ability to make reservations at any of the thirteen MGM owned casino resorts and earn rewards for their loyalty along the way. All purchases will yield points for customers. This includes hotel accommodations, restaurants, live shows and any of the more extravagant offerings that can be found on the “M Life” website. Loyalty rewards are no longer reserved for only the high rollers at the tables. Now customers can feel the rewards of loyalty at nearly every step.

As reported by Oskar Garcia at Associated Press, MGM Resorts International has just inked a deal with Ameristar Casinos that will link their marketing efforts and expand member benefits.

“With our Ameristar alliance, our members can enjoy the high level of experience they have at MGM Resorts’ properties in more destinations across the U.S.,” said Jim Murren, Chief Executive Officer for MGM Resorts International.

“This also provides Ameristar’s Star Awards/Plateau Players Club members exclusive experiences and offers at our Las Vegas properties that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. This relationship is part of an aggressive expansion plan for M life.”

International Game Technology Appoints CFO

Monday, February 13th, 2012

InternationalGameTechnologyInternational Game Technology (IGT), which has been making strategic moves of late to take advantage of prospective online casino gambling regulation in the United States, has appointed a new Chief Financial Officer, John Vandemore, to replace the company’s outgoing CFO, Pat Cavanaugh.

Formerly serving as the CFO for The Walt Disney Company, Vandemore brings billions of dollars worth of investment management experience to IGT. While much of Vandemore’s experience pertained to global theme park, resort and cruise line development projects, IGT’s Chief Executive Officer, Patti Hart, highlighted Vandemore’s strategic leadership and global financial planning skills in a press release announcing the details of the appointment.

According to Hart, “John’s financial experience..and impressive background in operational excellence will benefit all of IGT’s stakeholders.”

There is no denying Vandemore’s track record. With over seventeen years of financial experience at The Walt Disney Company, Goldman Sachs and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Vandemore is a prime candidate for overseeing the big numbers and investments that IGT is currently handling.

Such numbers include $400 million in free cash flow over the last year and recent investments that include over $500 million for the developer of Facebook’s third most popular social gaming app – Double Down Interactive. A Royal Flush of an investment (in terms of risk), the continued success of Double Down blackjack casino largely depends on the liberalization of the U.S. facing online gambling industry, which, worldwide, is expected to grow to $30 billion in 2012.

This kind of investment will certainly keep Vandemore on his toes, not to mention IGT’s stakeholders on the edge. All things considered, online gambling regulation looks like an inevitability, while IGT’s success in the industry is an even greater given. Being the world’s largest casino gaming systems and slot machine manufacturer, IGT certainly has a place carved out for itself in the online gambling industry.

Golden Nugget Casino to Launch U.S. Free Play Online Poker Room

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Chalk up another bet in favor of online poker. Following suit of Caesar’s Entertainment and other big player’s in the brick ‘n mortar casino gambling industry, the operator of famed Las Vegas downtown casino, The Golden Nugget (among others), just announced that a deal has been struck with European gaming platform developer, ChiliGaming.

As reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Golden Nugget casino owner, Landry’s Restaurants of Houston (yes, the buffet at Golden Nugget is really good), will be launching a free-play poker website in the coming months, with the hope that one day online poker will be legalized and properly regulated either on a State level in Nevada or by the federal government (whichever comes first).

After having spent nine months analyzing the online poker industry, Golden Nugget Chairman, Tilman Fertitta, said he believes that regulating online poker in the United States is inevitable, and that launching a free play poker site ahead of the curve will help position itself as a formidable competitor in the U.S. sector.

The move is certainly a strategic one for Golden Nugget – and most analysts agree it’s a smart one at that. Although last month was the first overall increase in gambling revenue for the State of Nevada since 2007, downtown Las Vegas and Laughlin casinos (Landry’s bread and butter), are still experiencing a downturn. Needless to say, getting a foothold in the real money online gambling industry would do wonders for Golden Nugget.

ChiliGaming is certainly a good partner in making that a reality. Having opened an office in San Francisco, California late last year in conjunction with the launch of Chili’s free-play U.S. poker network (UIGEA compliant), the France-based company has been a big player in the European online casino market, namely through the success of it’s highly popular poker site, chilipoker.com and online casino, chilicasino.com.

Making good on it’s promise to begin winning over U.S. brick ‘n mortar casino brands, ChiliGaming’s U.S. free-play network is already gearing up to be a strong launching pad into a regulated online poker market. Optimized with social gaming features and compatible with a number of devices, including smart phones and iPads, this is going to be a solid poker network if regulations come down.

Learning to Love Slot Machines all Over Again

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

I have a confession to make. I have a love-hate relationship with slot machines. There, I said it. By God, I may never be forgiven by the slots fanatics out there, but at least I got it off my chest!

Granted, I don’t know if it’s just me, or if anybody else out there has this problem, but the thing is, I used to love playing slots all the time! Now, whether I’m playing slot machines on the computer, in Las Vegas or on an overpriced cruise ship, I find myself loving and cursing the slot machines in a single breath. If you’re wondering how on earth this is possible, welcome to the club.

Sure, there’s those freakishly inhuman people who never seem to get upset no matter how much money they lose on the slots. I’m not one of them. I’m just a Jedi in training. I can only aspire for the day in which the force will be with me, and I too will be able to lose $500 on the Monopoly slots and look that machine in the eye….err, coin slot, and say, “Nice doing business with you. Thanks for the good times”.

No, I’m thinking most people are probably wondering how it’s even possible to curse and love something on a single breath to begin with. Let’s just say that’s how long it takes for a slot machine to take your money. If you’re one of those deep breathing Yogi’s, you could probably get in ten spins (and lose twenty bucks) on a single breath!

But seriously folks, that’s part of the problem. Looking back on my relationship with slots, I can see that during the times in which I went on auto-pilot and wasn’t taking my time and wasn’t reminding myself to have fun and that I was losing money I could afford to lose, that’s when the love would turn to hate and I would start shouting out expletive’s at the slot machine (as if it could hear me), and all to the chagrin of the poor little old lady sitting behind me. Actually, she turned out to be more of a sailor than me, but that’s another story.

Needless to say, I’m a happy man when the machine is spitting out coins. My challenge is to learn how to be happy when it’s not.

That said, I suppose the moral of this story (and the whole point of this diatribe) is that if you too find yourself loving and hating the slot machines in a single breath, remind yourself to take it slow and have fun. Take in your surroundings, stop to sip on a drink and watch those around you. If you’re playing at online casinos, remember to take more frequent breaks. You could check your email, update your Facebook account or catch up on some news.

The point is to prevent yourself from getting into what I like to call the zombie zone and forget that you are playing slots to have fun. If you can win some money while your at it, then consider yourself lucky.