The provisional opening date for the €550 million ($668 million) integrated casino resort being built in Cyprus by Melco International Development Limited has reportedly been pushed back by over nine months to the autumn of next year.
According to a Wednesday report from the Financial Mirror newspaper, construction on the giant City of Dreams Mediterranean development began in June of 2018 in hopes that the five-star facility would be able to start welcoming guests to its 500 rooms by the end of this year. The source detailed that the finished Las Vegas-style development is destined to be the largest of its type in Europe and come complete with a spa, a gym and meeting and conferencing facilities alongside a 1,500-seat theater and an 80,720 sq ft casino offering a selection of over 80 gaming tables and approximately 1,000 slots.
However, the newspaper reported that construction of the 16-story property for the Limassol suburb of Tserkezoi was paused for over seven weeks last spring as Cyprus struggled to come to terms with the coronavirus pandemic. Work only resumed in May with progress purportedly being subsequently hampered by a strict set of social distancing guidelines issued by the island nation’s Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance, Department of Labour Inspection and the Medical and Public Health Services division of its Ministry of Health.
The Financial Mirror reported that news of the delay was relayed by the Vice-President for the Cyprus Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission, Phidias Pilides, during a Tuesday meeting of the House of Representatives’ Finance Committee. The official purportedly explained that Hong Kong-listed Melco International Development Limited has now laid out a detailed post-pandemic construction timeline that is expected to see its City of Dreams Mediterranean development open before the winter of 2022.
Melco International Development Limited is the parent of Asian casino giant Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited and was granted a 30-year license in 2017 that gave it the right to bring casino gambling to Cyprus. The firm subsequently opened its temporary C2 Limassol venue before premiering smaller ‘satellite’ facilities in the nearby communities of Nicosia, Larnaca, Ayia Napa and Paphos, which Pilides pronounced have recently seen revenues decrease owing to temporary coronavirus-related shutterings and an associated drop in tourism nationwide.
In Australia and the Consolidated Press Holdings Proprietary Limited (CPHPL) vehicle of billionaire businessman James Packer has reportedly severed its boardroom ties with prominent casino operator Crown Resorts Limited.
According to a Tuesday report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the investments enterprise holds a preeminent 36% stake in the casino firm although it has now nevertheless terminated the consultancy contract it held with Crown Resorts Limited non-executive director John Poynton.
The broadcaster reported that Poynton was the last remaining CPHPL appointee left on the board of Crown Resorts Limited following the Tuesday resignations of fellow non-executive directors Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston. Although the experienced businessman is to remain on the Sydney-listed casino firm’s board, the move purportedly means that its largest shareholder now effectively has no direct representation.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that CPHPL’s blow came only hours after a special inquiry being conducted by former New South Wales Supreme Court Judge Patricia Bergin had determined that the Melbourne-headquartered casino firm was currently unfit to hold a gambling license for its Crown Sydney development. This decision is purportedly now headed to the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority with its release having immediately sent the value of individual shares in Crown Resorts Limited down by some 9%.
Philip Crawford (pictured) leads the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority and he reportedly told the broadcaster in advance of yesterday’s Johnston and Jalland resignations that Crown Resorts Limited would have to ‘blow itself up to save itself.’ When subsequently informed about the departures, he purportedly proclaimed that ‘somebody is listening to us and that’s really positive’ as the moves are destined to send ‘a big message to me and the media.’
The Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, reportedly pronounced that the findings of the Bergin inquiry had been direct, thorough and clear and that she was now prepared to wait for specific recommendations and advice from the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority before proceeding further.
Berejiklian reportedly told the broadcaster…
“It’s all there in black and white and I’m sure both Crown Resorts Limited and any other organization will read that report carefully and accept what action has to occur before anybody is able to have a licence in New South Wales. Anybody who wants to operate a casino in New South Wales has to stick to the rules, has to stick to the law. The government doesn’t apologize for upholding those high standards.”
In Australia and the official inquiry looking into the license suitability of casino operator Crown Resorts Limited has reportedly returned with a damning verdict that could well see the firm forced into making sweeping changes to its leadership and the way it is run.
According to a report from The Guardian newspaper, the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority investigation was conducted by former New South Wales Supreme Court Judge Patricia Bergin and found that the Melbourne-headquartered company was currently not fit to hold a gambling license for its Crown Sydney development. This $1.5 billion venue purportedly opened in the harborside Barangaroo district of Australia’s largest city late last year although missing a VIP-facing casino that was due to feature a selection of almost 500 gaming tables.
Should it ever hope to bring a lucrative gambling option to this New South Wales venue and the newspaper reported that Crown Resorts Limited could now be required to implement a series of reforms recommended by Bergin. These purportedly include that the company launch an enhanced set of controls to prevent money laundering and potentially sack Chief Executive Officer Ken Barton alongside non-executive directors Andrew Demetriou and Michael Johnston.
Although Bergin reportedly detailed that it will now be down to the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority to suggest the specifics of any such changes, she moreover described the casino firm’s majority shareholder, James Packer (pictured) as ‘deeply flawed’ due to the way he had dealt with allegations concerning Lawrence Ho Yau Lung. This latter individual had been set to buy an almost 20% stake in Crown Resorts Limited almost two years ago even though his father, the now-deceased Stanley Ho Hung Sun, was prohibited from entering Australia due to concerns that he had built his expansive Macau gambling empire through links with organized crime groups.
Reportedly read a statement from Bergin…
“The New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority would need to be assured and be confident that there are no further arrangements that would facilitate a return to what was clearly a dysfunctional environment. It is suggested that in the circumstances of the findings against Mr Barton, Mr Johnston and Mr Demetriou, the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority would be justified in entertaining very serious doubts that Crown Resorts Limited could be converted into a suitable person under the Casino Control Act whilst they remain as directors.”
The Guardian reported that Bergin furthermore suggested that Crown Resorts Limited be compelled to provide the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority with a detailed written remediation action plan as well as evidence of any undertakings it subsequently takes with regards to governance, independent review and accountability matters.
Bergin’s statement reportedly read…
“There is no doubt that some of the evidence in which the very serious problems were exposed came as a great surprise to the directors of Crown Resorts Limited. There is also no doubt that some, but certainly not others, had their confidence dented by this exposure.”
The newspaper reported that Bergin additionally asserted that between 2014 and 2019 Crown Resorts Limited had ‘facilitated money laundering’ via bank accounts held by two subsidiaries ‘unchecked and unchanged in the face of warnings from its bankers’. She proclaimed that this ‘stark reality’ of impropriety had also encompassed deals the casino operator inked or continued to honor ‘with junket operators who had links to Triads and other organized crime groups.’
Reportedly read the statement from Bergin…
“These are not historical deficiencies. They are very clear and present problems.”
Philip Crawford leads the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority and he reportedly told The Guardian that his organization is set to consider Bergin’s recommendations at a special Friday board meeting and via its next monthly gathering, which is scheduled for February 17. He purportedly divulged that ‘it will take time for [us] to give it proper consideration before determining the most appropriate course of action’ and that it would be inappropriate to officially comment ‘until this process is completed’.
For its part and Crown Resorts Limited, which is likewise responsible for Western Australia’s Crown Perth facility in addition to the giant Crown Melbourne development in Victoria, reportedly divulged that it is ‘currently considering the inquiry report.’ The Sydney-listed firm has since purportedly placed a hold on its shares and pronounced that it was now willing to work with the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority ‘in relation to the findings and recommendations of the inquiry.’
In Japan and a local consortium known as The Niki and Chyau Fwu (Parkview) Group is reportedly now vying with four foreign rivals for the right to potentially operate the integrated casino resort being planned for Nagasaki Prefecture.
According to a report from Inside Asian Gaming, the Tokyo-headquartered entity is a joint enterprise of Asian construction giant The Hong Kong Parkview Group Limited and Japanese hotel operator The Niki Company Limited. The source detailed that this venture was recently one of five groups to submit an official application as part of the request for proposal (RFP) stage of Nagasaki Prefecture’s campaign to win the right to host an integrated casino resort.
Although most gambling is currently illegal in Japan, the coalition government of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe passed legislation in July of 2018 that is to see the nation of over 126 million inhabitants license a trio of integrated casino resorts featuring hotels, exhibition facilities and extensive gaming floors. In order to be in the running to accommodate one of these potentially-lucrative developments, candidate communities are first reportedly being obliged to pick a prospective operator before submitting a final bid to a panel of federal selectors in advance of an April of 2022 deadline.
Nagasaki Prefecture is home to approximately 1.3 million people and is reportedly hoping that it will be permitted to bring one of these Las Vegas-style facilities to a 74-acre plot of land located next to its Huis Ten Bosch theme park. The Kyushu community completed the three-week RFP section of this process late last month and is now purportedly considering bids from The Niki and Chyau Fwu (Parkview) Group, American casino operator Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, European gambling giants Casinos Austria International and Groupe Partouche and a consortium being fronted by Hong Kong-listed Get Nice Holdings Limited.
Reportedly read a statement from The Niki and Chyau Fwu (Parkview) Group…
“The Niki and Chyau Fwu (Parkview) Group announces we will apply as an operator for a Kyushu-Nagasaki integrated casino resort. We will propose to build a super smart community that makes full use of cutting-edge technology, centered on an integrated casino resort in the city of Sasebo and spreading to Omura Bay. We aim to become the model case for a regionalized integrated casino resort in Japan. Our team will work with local influential companies in Japan and we are confident that we are the core to realization and success of a Kyushu-Nagasaki integrated casino resort.”
shinzo aberfprequest for proposalsasebointegrated casino resortnagasaki prefecturehuis ten boschthe niki and chyau fwu (parkview) groupthe hong kong parkview group limitedthe niki company limited
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In Japan and officials in the city of Yokohama have reportedly held the first of six online briefings so as to lay out the specific direction of their campaign to win one of the nation’s coming trio of integrated casino resort licenses.
According to a report from Inside Asian Gaming, the inaugural remote seminar was conducted on Saturday afternoon as part of the latest request for proposal (RFP) stage of the giant conurbation’s drive to select a prospective operator for its envisioned Las Vegas-style development. The source detailed that the occasion saw members of the public ask a range of questions including how much revenue such a project would be expected to generate and where this extra cash would go.
Yokohama is reportedly hoping to be given permission to bring a large gambling-friendly development complete with multiple hotels, exhibition facilities and retail elements to a 116-acre parcel of waterfront land near Yamashita Park. However, this effort to secure one of the three licenses is purportedly set to face local opposition alongside rival bids from a number of other communities including Wakayama Prefecture, Osaka and Nagasaki Prefecture.
The second largest city in Japan with a population of approximately 3.7 million people, Yokohama reportedly kicked off the RFP stage of its casino campaign in December of 2019 and subsequently received concrete operator applications from seven candidates encompassing Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited, Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited, Genting Singapore Limited, Sega Sammy Holdings Incorporated, Wynn Resorts Limited, Las Vegas Sands Corporation and Japanese firm Shotoku Corporation. But the metropolis was purportedly forced into running this official process again from last October after admitting that its inaugural attempt had failed to take into account the appearance of the coronavirus pandemic.
These interested operators have now reportedly been given until May 17 to submit their revised RFP pitches with Yokohama subsequently hoping to have picked a preferred partner by the autumn before submitting its completed license application to a panel of federal selectors in advance of an April of 2022 deadline.
In response to questions concerning revenues from the planned Yokohama integrated casino resort and the city’s Deputy Mayor, Toshihide Hirahara, reportedly told briefing participants that the public purse would receive 15% of casino takings as well as half of all the cash earned from entry fees. He moreover purportedly explained that these funds would subsequently be earmarked to help the community endow local social welfare and cultural programs in addition to anti-problem gambling measures and tourism promotion campaigns.
Reportedly read a statement from Hirahara…
“We hope that you will understand the various attractions of an integrated casino resort, the job creation, positive impact on Yokohama’s economic development and the contribution to the city’s finances. I believe that this will be one of the sparks needed for economic recovery after coronavirus. We need to understand what measures need to be taken to support the future.”
The Indiana Gaming Commission has reportedly moved to permanently revoke the Indiana casino license held by local entrepreneur Rod Ratcliff (pictured) over allegations that he failed to disclose the transfer of business funds into a personal wagering account.
According to a Wednesday report from The Indianapolis Star newspaper, Ratcliffe partnered with former Centaur Holdings executive John Keeler in 2018 to lead a group that established Spectacle Entertainment so as to buy Indiana’s floating Majestic Star Casino Hotel and Majestic Star Casino Hotel II venues. This entity purportedly later successfully lobbied for the right to relocate one of these Gary riverboat casinos to a fresh and more profitable land-based site located along nearby Interstate 94.
The newspaper reported that this new $300 million venue is set to debut later this year as the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana featuring a collection of about 1,650 slots alongside some 80 gaming tables. However, any opening ceremonies are purportedly not likely to feature Ratcliff as he was forced to resign as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Spectacle Entertainment in June as scrutiny concerning his past behavior increased.
The Indianapolis Star reported that the Indiana casino magnate first came under the spotlight when federal law enforcement authorities and the Indiana Gaming Commission launched investigations into whether Keeler had helped to illegally funnel campaign contributions into a state lawmaker’s unsuccessful congressional run. Although Ratcliff was not named in the subsequent indictment, he did purportedly have his license temporarily suspended in December before being compelled to sell his stake in the coming 200,000 sq ft Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana.
Ratcliff reportedly responded by suing the Indiana Gaming Commission over claims that the interim suspension had come with ‘no notice, no hearing and no process’ and had additionally denied him the ‘ability to sell his shares on his own terms’ to the operator of the coming Lake County casino, Hard Rock International.
However, the Indiana Gaming Commission reportedly countered on Monday by lodging a Lake County Superior Court petition that is seeking the permanent revocation of Ratcliff’s casino license. The regulator’s application purportedly contends that the entrepreneur had transferred approximately $900,000 from his casino business to personal betting accounts between 2015 and 2019 and had subsequently failed to disclose this information at the time of applying for his license.
The newspaper reported that the request from the Indiana Gaming Commission alleges that Ratcliff had violated its licensing standards in 2018 by ‘submitting false information’ while simultaneously ‘hiding conduct that violates Indiana gaming rules and regulations’. The regulator purportedly moreover claimed that the businessman had later refused ‘on two separate occasions’ to meet with its investigators so as to answer questions regarding any allegations of unethical business practices.
The Indianapolis Star reported that this petition is to ultimately be reviewed by the Indiana Office of Administrative Law Proceedings, which is a state office charged with ruling on agency disputes. In the meantime and Ratcliff purportedly asserted that he ‘looks forward to his day in court’ so that he may ‘contest these baseless allegations.’