Sunday, July 10, 2011
Australian Gambling News, by Greg Tingle - 10th July 2011
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Australian gambling continues to be red hot. We've got political fun and games, casino developments, revamps, and more. Media Man with the latest and greatest from down under...
Violence At Crown Casino; Punters Death Sparks New Claim...
A Melbourne bloke says he was bashed by about eight Crown Casino security guards who chased him out of the casino and left him a crimson mask. The 40-year-old man's case is 1 of at least 5 being handled by Melbourne law firm Arnold Thomas and Becker involving Crown security staff. The punter alleges that after a verbal war of words with security guards late last year, he was chased out of the casino and bashed by the group of guards. He alleges he was then dragged further down the road, possibly to remove him from the view of cameras, where he was again assaulted. A report was made to police, but a spokeswoman said they were unable to comment on the progress of the investigation. Solicitor Michel Margalit said one case currently being handled by the firm involved a security guard who had been allegedly bashed by a patron. "Our firm has been involved in an alarming number of cases involving allegations of violence at Crown Casino," she said. "It is extremely concerning that these incidents appear to continue at one of Melbourne’s major entertainment venues." The revelations come after 40-year-old Anthony Dunning died in The Alfred hospital on Thursday following a dispute with Crown Casino bouncers on Sunday. Dunning was in the casino's Velvet Room about 10.30pm when he was pushed to the ground and pinned to the floor by up to 6 casino bouncers for 6 minutes. The cause of his death has not been determined. Detective Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles, of the homicide squad, said CCTV footage of the encounter shows a clearly intoxicated Dunning being escorted from the crowded casino. "From what I can see on the video footage, I don't think that he has done anything to provoke them [the guards, but] I can't hear what's being said," he said. "Maybe he said something which gave them some belief that he was going to do something, so it's critical to actually ascertain what was being said." He said the footage showed Mr Dunning was not struggling while he was held down, with his legs, arms and head pinned to the floor, for up to six minutes. While he was on the ground Mr Dunning fell unconscious and suffered a cardiac arrest. Crown Casino did not contact police about the incident, despite having what Senior Sergeant Iddles said was a "moral obligation" to do so. Mr Dunning's friend, Matthew, suffered a broken nose and fractured arm during the same scuffle with guards. Matthew alerted police at 10am on Monday, when Dunning was on life support. A post mortem is being carried out on Dunning’s body to determine the cause of death. Punters and guards are urged to respect one another to keep further incidents at a minimum. The recent casino bashings have been damaging for Australian casinos, namely Crown, but insiders say the casino will bounce back and that the investigation appears genuine.
Crown Casino Patron Suing MSS Security; Casino Gets More Bad Press...
A punter ho claims he was knocked for six by a bouncer aka guard at Crown casino is suing a security firm for damages. As police investigate the death of Crown patron Anthony Dunning this week, it can be revealed that Waqas Ali Khan, 23, is suing MSS Security over an unrelated incident. Khan claims he suffered facial injuries, a fractured jaw, and psychological injuries, including stress, anxiety and depression, according to court documents. Khan was out with friends when he ended up at the casino early on August 1 last year. "He goes out on a Saturday night to have a good time with his mates and he ends up in hospital," said his lawyer, Nowicki Carbone partner Nunzio Tartaglia. He said a security guard had been talking to one of Khan's friends because he believed he was taking a video on his phone, and Khan went to his friend's aid. "A lot of it he does not remember, because he was knocked out," Tartaglia said. "Friends told him he was punched. It was totally unprovoked, from our account." Tartaglia said Khan had had four months off work as a result, and was seeking damages. Khan has filed a writ in the County Court against MSS Security, which he alleges was contracted to provide security services at the venue. Another man told the Herald Sun yesterday that about a year ago, security staff at the casino had tackled him and a friend to the ground and started hitting them, after they'd been asked to leave for being too loud. The man, who wanted to be known only as Tom, claims they were put in thumb locks, mocked, and forced to sing Baa Baa Black Sheep. He alleged they were taken into a back area of the casino and thrown against walls.
"I was pretty scared, to be honest," said Tom, now 22. "It was like a movie. I couldn't believe they would take you out the back and beat you up." A criminal lawyer, who did not want to be named, said it was possible that if the security guards involved in the incident with Dunning were found to have caused his death, they could face manslaughter charges. He said reasonable force could be used for protection, but it could not be excessive. "It must be proportionate to the threat faced." Nowicki Carbone partner Tony Carbone said that a "minute of madness" could cost people dearly. Not only could those involved in violence face charges, but they could be sued; any judgment could hang over their heads for 15 years, and in some cases could lead to bankruptcy. MSS Security and Crown Casino are not commenting.
Land Based Casino Robin Hood Blackjack Ace To Give Back In Australia...
Meet the modern day Robin Hood. He spends a lot of his time on the gambling floors of casinos, taking his winnings and donating them to the needy.
Not much is known about the secretive American but we know this...He plays blackjack under the pseudonym Robin Hood 702, and he is excellent at it. A high-stakes player, he wins thousands of dollars at a time.
He gambles in disguise, donning beards, glasses and hats. And he will visit down under next month to "steal" from our land based casinos and give away his winnings. He has asked Australians to visit his website and nominate a person or family in need of help - such as victims of natural disasters, illness or financial hardship.
"I will then pick a family or individual and fly them to the casino for the weekend, all expenses paid, and while they're enjoying the betterments of life I will be down at the casino playing blackjack for them," Hood advised.
He's given away $1 million plus to date. When he loses, the people Hood has chosen to help still get 50% of their bills paid, even if it means digging into his own savings.
He helped one American family wipe away more than $35,000 in debt, which they had accumulated from medical expenses while their three-year-old daughter battled brain cancer. He gave another woman more than $20,000 to care for her elderly parents.
He has also been known to wander around food courts pretending to be homeless, asking people for a bite of their sandwich and giving hundreds of dollars to those who say yes.
Hood's snack for winning big began when he was introduced to blackjack at 16. "First time I played, I won $122," he said. "I thought I broke the bank. Boy, was I wrong."
He practised his game by watching and learning but he does not like to play online.
He speaks of gambling with the likes of the late, great Kerry Packer..."he was a big gambler" - and being inspired by the late media mogul's generosity. But his mother, whom he cared for before she died, is his biggest motivation. "I watched my mother as a child help other people and do kind things and I just want to do the same."
Though he is much discussed on internet gambling websites and forums, he shies away from talking about his personal life with his Maid Marian (who calls herself Lady Greice) and does not show off his wealth.
"I try to keep the focus more on the gift, and not on the person giving it.
I also want to inspire other Robin Hoods, perhaps doctors and lawyers or business executives, who may consider giving to people in need. I would like to see an army of Robin Hoods."
Readers wishing to nominate themselves or someone they know to Robin Hood 702 can do so at www.robinhood702.com Good luck and be merry.
Star City At Sin City To Reach For The Stars, Dolphins And Whales...
Sydney's Star City is to relaunch in September with a brand new look and new name - The Star.
September 15 is set to be the day of the huge happening.
Looking to establish itself as Sydney's must-see tourist destination, owner Echo Entertainment Group has built an entertainment precinct which insiders say rivals that of Melbourne's Crown Casino complex and Perth's Burswood Dome.
"Until now, Star City did not realise its fullest potential as much beyond a casino," The Star's managing director Sid Vaikunta told the press "Our entire goal here is to, just like a star, create multiple reasons for people to be here. The casino is one amenity amongst several. In the past, the casino has been one amenity of one.
"For us, creating multiple reasons to be here, multiple reasons to come back, that is the fundamental shift from where it has been to where we are going."
Echo Entertainment, which de-merged from Tabcorp last month, has spent $860 million to bring The Star up to scratch with the aim of countering the highly competitive gaming market booming in Macau and Singapore.
In May, gambling and media king James Packer, who has controlling interests in Melbourne and Macau's Crown complexes and Perth's Burswood Casino, controversially said Australia's tourism industry was tired and under siege from more competitive Asian countries.
World Economic Forum figures show Australia's ranking in travel and tourism competitiveness dropped from fourth place in 2008 to an unlucky 13th.
"The market Australia should be aiming for is the affluent and rising middle-class Asian market," Packer said. "That is who Australia needs to be aiming for, because we are too far from Europe and too far from America."
Star City in Sydney faced the double problem of having to wrestle with the gaming growth in Asia as well as the strong offerings of Crown and Burswood.
Crown and Burswood will "complement" The Star and hopefully bring more tourists to Australia as a whole, Vaikunta said.
"This country deserves more than one casino that is talked about and no doubt, The Star should be that to Sydney," he said.
The new development will include restaurants from some of the world's top chefs, among them David Chang, Adriano Zumbo and Stefano Manfredi, as well as a raft of entertainment outlets and retail from everyday fashion to high-end stores.
Echo Entertainment will continue to use its 2000-seat Lyric Theatre, hosting Hairspray The Musical, and is planning a much bigger, world class, entertainment centre with a 4000-seat capacity. A five-star hotel will open later this year, adding 171 rooms to the apartment-style and tower hotel offerings already containing 479 rooms.
Architects have "flipped" the building, meaning Pirrama Rd will provide the main entrance to the complex instead of the previously used Pyrmont St.
"In the past we have been introverted and non-inclusive in our architecture but now we're opening up to the harbour and the city of Sydney," Vaikunta said.
While trying to entice more foreign visitors, Vaikunta said it was also vital Sydneysiders embrace the new precinct. For Echo this also meant coming up with a new name.
"What became clear to us is that Star City is in a beautiful city already, the city of Sydney. We are not a city within a city. So it became a very easy job of just eliminating the word city completely," Vaikunta said.
"First and foremost, The Star has to become a destination for Sydney.
"It has to become a place that Sydney is proud of, a place that becomes a part of the landscape of Sydney. If we are able to deliver, it will become a star within the city."
It'll bring new life to entertainment.
Sporting a new 4000-seat theatre in the planning to open next year, The Star aims to establish itself as Australia's top live entertainment venue.
Its owner, Echo Entertainment Group, has set its goal to attract top international performers like Prince and Elton John for several week residencies as well as big-budget stage productions.
"Sydney is hungry for an events centre that is close, that can accommodate 4000 people with high-end bars, not a bad seat in the house, the best acoustics, and to have it all here," The Star's managing director Sid Vaikunta said.
Illustrating the calibre of artists The Star is targeting, Sir Elton will play two nights at the Lyric Theatre in November as part of extended re-launch celebrations.
And multiple Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey will headline the Sam Mendes-directed play Richard III in the Lyric Theatre for 11 performances from December 1.
Complementing the current facilities, a ton of new and exciting offerings are planned for the precinct.
As well as world-class restaurants with top chefs, the new entertainment centre is planned to house major events such as televised award ceremonies (such as the ARIAs) as well as extended runs of shows for big-name artists and performance troupes like Cirque du Soleil.
"Until the events centre and our entertainment centre is built, we don't really get to throw the kind of events we want to throw," Vaikunta said. "We can explore a production or a review show once the event centre is in place.
"But the potential to have a headline artist, much like Celine Dion did in Las Vegas, or Prince or Elton John, for a headline artist to come here to a city like Sydney, which they love, to have hotel suites and penthouses that they can stay in to do three - or four-week shows is an absolute winning formula."
Las Vegas casinos are famous for having high-profile entertainers as resident artists, performing runs that can go for years. For instance, Celine Dion performed for five years from 2002 at Caesars Palace, Barry Manilow played the Las Vegan Hilton for five years until December 2009, while Prince is performing every Friday and Saturday at The Rio.
"We'd be more likely to bring out big stars for, say, a 12-week run over summer than permanently," Mr Vaikunta said.
CHEFS AND RESTAURANTS...
David Chang - Legendary NY chef will open Momofuku
Teage Ezard - Melbourne favourite will open a contemporary Australian grill
Stefano Manfredi - The famous Italian will treat diners to modern Milanese cuisine
Chase Kojima - To run a contemporary Japanese restaurant in the new five-star hotel
Flying Fish and Chips - Sydney restaurant Flying Fish will operate a fish and chip outlet
Golden Century - An offshoot of the Chinatown institution will open
Adriano Zumbo - MasterChef’s dessert superstar will open a patisserie showcasing his famous treats
More than 20 retail stores, featuring leading luxury brands will be found at The Star
The 5500m2 space, also featuring dining outlets, will connect the hotel, refurbished casino and other entertainment venues
Cherry - A new stylish cocktail bar with views of Sydney Harbour
Rock Lily - A live music bar has opened already, staging Good Charlotte
Lyric Theatre - Currently hosting Hairspray The Musical, seats 2000 people
Concert venue - A 4000-seat entertainment centre to open late 2012
International artists - Elton John and Kevin Spacey begin an influx of OS stars
Halo Bar - showing sport 24/7 on 50 LED big-screen TV
300 gaming tables
High rollers flown in via private jet...a Bombardier Global Express XRS
VIP gaming - New luxury area is under construction on level 17
New five-star hotel - 171 rooms including four high-roller suites with butlers
Other - ask the friendly staff and management
Australian Soft Rockers Air Supply To Perform In Michigan, USA...
Island Resort and Casino - Mark it down. July 22 and 23, Australian soft rockers Air Supply will perform at the casino in Harris in the U.P. Tickets are $25.
Tickets are at www.islandresortandcasino.com
Pullman Cairns First Hotel In Australia To Introduce Optimum Service Standards To Boost Chinese Inbound Market - 15th June...
The Pullman Reef Hotel Casino in Cairns has been announced as the first hotel to be accredited to Accor’s new Optimum Service Standards for Chinese Visitation, paving the way for the hotel to attract greater numbers of Chinese visitors to North Queensland.
The formal accreditation follows this week’s announcement in Cairns by Federal Tourism Minister, Martin Ferguson, of a new 10-year strategic plan aimed at boosting China’s inbound tourism to Australia. He extolled the tourism industry to more actively cater for the Chinese market, which is the fastest growing inbound market for Australia, and already worth over $3 billion a year to the economy.
Earlier this year, Accor - Australia’s largest hotel group with 150 hotels under brands such as Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel and Mercure – announced that it would implement an Optimum Services Standards program for hotels in its group that aimed to attract large-scale visitation from the Chinese and Indian markets. It involved hotels implementing a wide range of services to cater for the specific needs of these two growth markets, and only hotels that met (and maintained) these standards would be accredited to pitch for this business.
Recognising the potential of Chinese inbound for the Cairns and Tropical North Queensland markets, the Pullman has led the way with adopting services to meet the needs of the emerging China market. These include translation of in-room collateral and the Welcome Kit to Mandarin, Mandarin speaking staff available to handle guest queries, all reception staff trained to give basic greetings in Mandarin, Chinese breakfast and mini-bar items, green tea and comfort items such as slippers.
In addition, the Pullman has implemented training for all staff on Chinese cultural practices, so that they can better understand the specific needs and requirements of Chinese travelers.
Commenting on the accreditation, Pullman General Manager, Adrian Williams, said that he was very pleased that his hotel was playing a pioneering role in the national push for more Chinese inbound tourists.
“The growth in Chinese inbound isn’t new, but the pace of the growth highlights the need for the industry to really look at what is being provided for Chinese travelers and to enhance the offer, because this market represents a significant future for our tourism industry,” said Mr Williams.
“Many of the measures under the Optimum Service Standards program are fairly straightforward, but it sends a strong signal to Chinese operators that Australia is not only welcoming their clients, but going out of their way to ensure they feel as comfortable as possible when they are here.
“Cairns and far North Queensland have so much potential for this market. The Great Barrier Reef is the primary draw-card, but Cairns has many other attractions - natural and man-made - that our ideal for Chinese tourists. The climate is appealing, our infrastructure is well developed, there is good shopping and entertainment, high quality restaurants, and our prices are very competitive.
“It was very encouraging that Tourism Minister Ferguson chose Cairns to launch the new China strategy here in Cairns, so it is now up to us operators to translate the strategy into action on the ground.
“The Optimum Service Standards will hopefully lead other North Queensland operators to follow suit and really look at the specific needs of Chinese travelers.”
Pullman Reef Casino Cairns is the largest hotel, tourism and entertainment complex in Far North Queensland, offering 5-star accommodation, the award-winning Tamarind restaurant, the Cairns Wildlife Dome (where visitors can view Australian wildlife icons such as kangaroos, koalas and crocodiles), a range of cafes, bars and shopping, and the Reef Casino.
Casino Slashes Number Of Planned Pokies...
The operators of the Alice Springs casino have reduced the number of extra gaming machines it had planned to install. Earlier this year, Lasseter's Casino started work on a $35 million project that it said would include 100 more poker machines. Shortly after, the Northern Territory Licensing Commission said it had not approved any increase in gaming machine numbers. It said it would take community concerns into account when deciding. Local social welfare groups raised concerns the increase would adversely affect the relatively high proportion of low-income local residents in the central Australian town. The casino released a statement saying the increase is now 30 machines. It said the decision had been made after "community liaising". The extra machines are scheduled to be installed by the end of next year. The casino expansion project is scheduled due to be finished by early 2013.
Former Online Casino A To Head Up Anti Cyber Crime Unit In Australia...
The was the need to create a "hunter" to combat cyber crime in Australia, an expert with a background in online casino design has warned.
Recently appointed Asia-Pacific director of the Global Institute for Cybersecurity + Research, Australian cyber security expert Craig Wright advised there was a lack of fundamental skills in security training.
"Things like .NET have become very sexy. But from a security point of view, assembly language coding has far more relevance," Dr Wright said.
The GICSR is an international non-profit organisation seeking to advance a comprehensive range of cyber security initiatives, cyber innovations and research. It is funded by a range of organisations including the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security in the US.
"When you are reverse engineering malware, you need to have knowledge right down to the base level first, and there is little being done about it anymore," Dr Wright said.
"We are not going into the depth that is necessary to fight, combat and find where the cyber crime initiates."
Dr Wright, an adjunct lecturer at Charles Sturt University, said there should be a focus on creating security specialists with a deeper knowledge base.
"So when a piece of malware or some other code comes out they can understand it at a fundamental level, they can start reverse engineering it, they can pull it apart and see how it was created," he said.
Dr Wright, who designed the architecture for the world's first online casino, Lasseter's Online (no longer online), in the Northern Territory, will focus on establishing a regional centre of excellence in cyber security for the GICSR.
In the past, Dr Wright has also designed and managed the implementation of a number of the systems that protect the Australian Stock Exchange.
The centre of excellence will involve the region's leading research organisations and universities and will initially focus on establishing doctoral research projects in cyber security priority areas such as cyber extortion, identity theft and money laundering.
"The attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated and we are not banding together to actually fight it yet," he said.
Dr Wright said the GICSR would look to establish similar relationships with regional intelligence agencies, governments and security vendors to those that it has in place with the groups in the United States.
The focus of the relationships would be to assist government, industry and security vendors to be much more aligned to cyber threats.
"Until we start approaching this collaboratively and thinking internationally, we are going to have huge problems and they are just going to get worse."
Casino News Media Website Portal Relaunched; International And Australian Content...
The ultra popular casino and gambling news website portal www.casinonewsmedia.com has been relaunched. The blog is updated daily and it also sports numerous news stories tipped off to friends in the business including at the world famous Gambling911.com and Poker News Daily websites. Multimedia can also be found at it's YouTube and don't forget the profiles section where 100s of personalities and brands are showcased. There's even some interviews with the likes of Bwin.Party's Jim Ryan, Virgin's Richard Branson and some Media Man management, of course! Last but not least, don't forget to check out the promotions and advertising sections, but the blog is a must!
Punters, er readers, stay glued to Media Man reports for more "can't miss" information on Australian pokies, gaming and casino wars.
*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming. Media Man also publishes Media Man News
*The writer owns shares in Crown Limited
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