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Issue 335
February 12 - February 18, 2007
Volume 7
page 1
 

This Issue

Gaming News

Casino City's February Sweepstakes

Looking in on: Gaming

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

See the lucky winners

 

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NETeller explains U.S. withdrawl delay
By Ryan McLane, Casino City

NETeller is unable to pay U.S. customer withdrawals because American banks have refused to do business with one or more of the e-wallet's U.S. based automatic clearinghouses, according to a NETeller press release issued Thursday morning.

The NETeller release also said that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York has seized funds of no more than $55 million that were destined for or coming from American NETeller accounts, further impeding the withdrawal process.

The NETeller group said they are working with the U.S. Attorney's office to develop a mechanism to return money owed to U.S. customers, but that the withdrawals will continue to be on hold.

"The return of funds to our U.S. customers is a top priority for NETeller," Group President and CEO Ron Martin said.

The U.S. Attorney's office had no comment Thursday morning and would not confirm or deny details in the NETeller press release.

NETeller officials continue to say that American monies not seized by U.S. officials are held in segregated trust accounts. The release did not issue a timetable for U.S. customer withdrawals.

A group of NETeller legal advisers met with officials from the U.S. Attorney's office on January 19, three days after the FBI arrested NETeller co-founders Stephen Lawrence and John LeFebvre and charged them with money laundering.

The NETeller group pledged to cooperate with the investigation, initiate pertinent document production, and discuss a mechanism for returning money to NETeller customers located in the U.S., the release said.

"As part of these discussions, it is contemplated that the USAO will engage a forensic accounting firm, at the (NETeller) Group's expense, to assist in this process and to examine the Group's financial position."

The release stated that NETeller officials are continuing to operate under the assumption that no further charges would be filed, but added that there was "no assurances that the Group will not be charged in a criminal action at some subsequent time."

The NETeller financial position continues to be strong despite losing its massive stake in the U.S. market, according to the release.

New-account sign-ups, one measure of the e-wallets resilience, fell from a daily average of 3,303 new accounts per day in 2006, to 1,400 a day since January 18.

Still, the NETeller group claims they are fiscally sound with a daily revenue average of more than $200,000 per day from account fees produced by non-U.S. customers.

"These metrics demonstrate the resilience of the Group's ongoing business. NETELLER customers not resident in the US continue to be minimally affected by this withdrawal from the US market," the release said.

NETeller Group shares continue to be suspended from trading on the London AIM.


Looking in on: Gaming
by Liz Benston, Our partners at the Las Vegas Sun

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- If Boyd Gaming Corp. had a dollar for every inquiry it received about when the venerable Stardust building will be torn down, it would have enough money for a significant down payment on the $4 billion luxury hotel complex it wants to build there.

Problem is, company officials don't want to tell the thronging masses when the property will return to dust.

The company says it could create a safety hazard if rubbernecking tourists cram the three public streets surrounding the property. More important, Clark County will issue the demolition permit based on a safety assessment of the site, which includes taking measures to prevent people such as your shutterbug Uncle Bob - and hundreds of others like him - from getting too close.

It's going to be difficult to keep the destruction of a major building on the down low, especially since developers and demolition crews must file county permits.

To appease the press and memorialize the event, Boyd will reveal the demolition date during a private media gathering this month. Media that spill the beans ahead of time won't be invited to cover the event up close.

The Stardust will be the most high-profile property to bite the dust since the late 1990s, when the Hacienda, Sands and Aladdin met their fate.

• • •

In spite of impassioned pleas about their right to keep their own tips, dealers at Wynn Las Vegas who have appealed their lawsuit over a casino tip-pooling policy to the Nevada Supreme Court are running up against previous decisions in both state and federal courts that allow casinos to split dealer tips with dealers' immediate supervisors.

These decisions will hold sway even though federal labor law says workers can't be forced to pool tips with others who don't typically receive them. While floormen such as those getting a share of dealer tips at Wynn aren't normally tipped by customers, Wynn's attorneys have creatively argued that the federal rule shouldn't preclude casinos from redefining who should give direct service to customers (witness Wynn's recasting of "floormen" as "service team leaders") and therefore, who should receive a cut of the tip pool.

A more effective comeback by dealers would be to change Nevada's three-sentence tip statute, which is vague enough to have allowed courts to side on casinos' behalf. Tip laws in Massachusetts, for example, more specifically state that tips can't be split with workers in management jobs.

That tactic has failed in Nevada once before. Dealers had Assembly support in 1995 when a change in state law to protect tip-earners was quashed - with help from the casino industry - in the Senate. Dealers have support from at least two assemblymen but also have started their appeals to the Senate - and specifically to Sen. Randolph Townsend of Reno, who chairs the Commerce and Labor Committee.

• • •

The International Gaming Institute at UNLV is looking for a few good research subjects.

The institute received a two-year, $190,000 grant to figure out whether people starting to exhibit gambling problems can overcome them without resorting to more drastic intervention.

The funds come from $2.5 million in state tax money earmarked for treatment and research of gambling addiction.

The state is now asking for more money - $3.3 million over the next biennium - for future problem gambling programs.

The program may help people without access to therapists or treatment programs, said Bo Bernhard, an assistant sociology professor and director of gambling research at the institute.

"We have this huge population out there that we never see and haven't studied" because few people seek treatment for problems, Bernhard said. "There are individuals who aren't full-fledged problem gamblers but are sliding down the slippery slope. Maybe we can catch these people before they hit rock bottom."

 

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