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Issue 334
February 6 - February 12, 2007
Volume 7
page 1
 

This Issue

Gaming News

Casino City's January Sweepstakes

Macau partnership subject of hearing

NETeller withdrawals on hold for U.S. customers

Dealers to seek review of Wynn tip policy

Colorado bill targets casino smoking

Show Time Tony Danza at the Trump Plaza

Column What goes around... by Donald Caitlin

Check out our entertainment highlights & upcoming tournaments

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Lightning Poker signs with Shuffle Master
By Ryan McLane

Casino industry giant Shuffle Master agreed last week to distribute Lightning Poker's e-tables.

The tables are a cross between online gaming and live poker play. Players sit around a table, but look at their cards and chip stacks on a video screen. Hands and bets are made electronically -- eliminating the need for a dealer.

ShuffleMaster, which distributes almost every type of casino utility product including automated card-shufflers, chip sorters and electronic table games, gives Lightning Poker a global platform for promoting their automated poker tables.

"We couldn't have found a better partner than Shuffle Master," stated Lightning Poker CEO Brian Haveson. "The service excellence and distribution channels that Shuffle Master brings Lightning Poker, provides us with worldwide product support capabilities and sales contacts that will elevate our business to the next level."

Lighting Poker plans to install their e-poker gaming systems in at least two California casinos and two Canadian casinos sometime this spring, President Ron Skotarczak said.

The company officially entered the e-poker Market in November by installing their first machines at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York.

At the time, Lightning Poker had a memorandum of understanding for distribution with Shuffle Master, but last week's deal makes their partnership official.

Skotarczak said his company will now hand over all promoting, marketing, distributing and servicing duties to Shuffle Master.

"We are pleased to offer the Lightning Poker electronic poker table as one of our electronic content delivery systems," said Paul C. Meyer, Shuffle Master president and chief operating officer in a statement. "The consistent popularity of poker makes automated poker tables a natural technological progression. We are confident that the Lightning Poker platform, especially when offering our proprietary content, will be an important enhancement to casinos worldwide."

The agreement may turn the e-poker table industry battle into a war.

Only two companies, Lightning Poker and PokerTek, have licensed tables available for distribution in North America. And the two have been battling it out in the courtroom and in the marketplace.

Lightning Poker filed a suit against Pokertek last fall, alleging PokerTek violated antitrust laws and engaged in various acts of unfair competition, civil conspiracy, trade slander and defamation, including falsely advising Lightning Poker's customers that Lightning Poker's products infringed PokerTek patents.

The suit was dropped shortly after Pokertek released an official statement saying that their patent was not violated.

PokerTek established itself as the young market's leader last year, signing installation agreements with Carnival Cruise Lines, the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, Calif., the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Okla. and the Osage National Million Dollar Elm Casino in Tulsa, Okla.

"Our success in the market and the success of our customers speak for itself," said PokerTek Vice President of Sales and Marketing Chris Halligan when asked about Lightning Poker's new agreement. "We feel that anything that helps the automated poker market grow is good for PokerTek."

Pokertek has a distribution agreement with Aristocrat Gaming -- a deal which provides them with access to Aristocrat's network of 55 gaming countries, but Pokertek retained their distribution rights in America.


Macau partnership subject of hearing
by Howard Stutz

From our partners at the Las Vegas Gaming Wire

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Nevada gaming regulators have tentatively set Feb. 27 for a public hearing in Las Vegas to determine the suitability of MGM Mirage's partnership in an under-construction $1 billion hotel-casino in Macau.

Last year, MGM Mirage asked regulators to approve its 50-50 joint venture with Chinese businesswoman Pansy Ho, who had been granted a subconcession by the Macau government to develop and operate a hotel-casino in the gaming enclave. The MGM Grand Macau, which is expected to open by year's end, will have 600 rooms and a casino with 300 tables games and 1,000 slot machines.

Gaming regulators want to be assured about Pansy Ho's independence from her father, 84-year-old Chinese billionaire Stanley Ho. He owns several gambling halls in Macau, including the Lisboa Casino near the site of the MGM Grand Macau.

For years, Stanley Ho has fought allegations that his Macau casinos have been involved with organized crime triads engaged in money laundering, loan sharking, drug trafficking and prostitution. His sister, Winnie, has alleged the triads are involved in the casino.

Pansy Ho is the oldest of Stanley Ho's 17 children and has been reported to be the heir-apparent to her father's business holdings.

Last month, following an appearance in front of the Gaming Control Board, MGM Mirage Chairman Terry Lanni said he had no doubts about Pansy Ho's independence from her father.

"If I had any concern that she wasn't an independent person, then (the deal) wouldn't be where it is right now," Lanni said. "I have no concerns about that. I've known her about a dozen years and she's very independent and she's very tough. She's not an easy partner. She's a competent, bright, successful businesswoman."

Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said the three-member panel is preparing for its scheduled meeting Wednesday in Carson City. Afterward, it will take up the investigative report on Pansy Ho.

"Right now, we're holding open several dates," Neilander said. "But we have to complete our process. Board members may have questions that could mean we would have to delay things, but we won't know until we look at the findings."

Pansy Ho is expected to attend the hearing in front of Nevada gaming regulators. The control board would make a recommendation on her suitability, which would then be taken up by the Nevada Gaming Commission at a later date.

In 2005, published reports said New Jersey gaming regulators had begun looking at MGM Mirage's relationship with Pansy Ho. MGM Mirage co-owns the Borgata in Atlantic City with Boyd Gaming Corp.

Control Board sources said a year ago the agency was planning to ask MGM Mirage to file an application of suitability for the proposed Macau joint venture, but the company took the action itself to ward off being forced to comply with any formal request.

Because she is not operating a Las Vegas casino, Pansy Ho does not need a Nevada gaming license. However, under state gaming regulations, she can be considered for suitability.

Pansy Ho's subconcession is under the concession granted to her father, who owns the competing Macau casino and has been a controversial figure in Chinese business circles. Stanley Ho's business holdings include hotels, real estate, a ferry route, Macau's largest department store, an airline and a racetrack.

 

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