Gambling News, by Greg Tingle - 14th May 2011
been a big week for Australian gambling news, both
down under in Australia, as well as Aussie gambling
entities making waves overseas. Plus we're got the
IGT VS Aristocrat legal update, Australian gambling
and media stock price updates and loads more.
News Media, Media
Man News, Property
News Media and Global
Gaming Directory team up to deliver this jam packed
news update, with some help from friends at Fairfax
Media, Google News and wires.
To Gambling Companies And Players Where Credit Is
to Crown's James Packer for his ongoing development
of Crown Limited, creating employment opportunities
for thousands of Australians, in addition to continuing
to assist GenerationOne, focused on sustainable solutions
for Aboriginal Australians, which employment and welling
being key aspects. Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment's
has snatched another Media
Man 'Online Casino of The Month' award too, and
Vegas gambling tycoon Steve Wynn has gotten himself
married, and invited some of Australia's most notable
citizens, including you guessed it - The Packers.
We also thank Fairfax Media, The Daily Telegraph and
The New York Times for their responsible reporting
on the gaming and gambling industry, and also well
done to Gambling911 and Poker News Daily for their
daily colourful stories covering the sector. Life
would be more dull around gambling if it wasn't for
Chris, Jenny and the team and Gambling911. Media Man
of course remains independent, certainly for new media
and gaming coverage standards, but once in a while
do an official campaign for quality brands and individuals.
Family And Other Aussie Billionaires Attend Wynn Wedding
In Las Vegas...
tycoon James Packer and wife, Erica, Wolverine Hugh
Jackman and his wife, Deborra-lee Furness, billionaire
truck driver - transport entrepreneur Lindsay Fox
and his wife, Paula, retail big wig Solomon Lew and
wife, Rosie, were the Australian guests at casino
king of the kids Steve Wynn's extravagant wedding.
The Aussies enjoyed themselves big time at the ball
that went for 3 days, which featured a swag of entertainment
including Lionel Richie and Garth Brooks. Clint Eastwood
was best man. Wynn married his Pommie sweetheart,
divorcee Andrea Hissom, and the lovely couple have
been named by the press "duke and duchess of
Vegas". Wynn first met Hissom during a trip to
the French Riviera circa 2008. Wynn aged 69, and Hissom,
understood to be in her 40s, got married at the cost
of $US5 million ($4.7 million), with 500 guests from
around the globe. Other guests included Donald Trump,
Sylvester Stallone and Celine Dion. The super A-list
guests were flown in for a poolside "white"
party on the day prior to the elaborate wedding. A
"Grand Celebration" was housed in Wynn's
Encore Ballroom...was put together by Michael Jackson's
ex musical - events et al genius Kenny Ortega. Brunch
was held on the Sunday morning. Wynn's ex wife, Elaine,
was not on the list. She's mum to Steve's two kids.
Last year the ex was awarded one of the largest divorce
settlements in US history - $US741 million in stock
in Wynn Resorts. It's understood the Packers enjoyed
napoleon of tuna with caviar and roasted turbot with
red wine sauce and cauliflower puree. The Wynn's are
understood to be delighted at the way everything went
down, and the Australia's were equally delighted we
Digital Entertainment's PartyCasino Wins Media Man
'Online Casino Of The Month'
has once again won the Media Man 'Online Casino Of
The Month Award'. The well known and respected online
casino brand has won the Media Man awards over a dozen
times in the past three years. The award is given
out based on a number of factors including gameplay,
portfolio of games, customer services, affiliate partners
offerings, value for money, innovation and overall
customer service. Richard Branson's Virgin
Casino has also won the award, but Branson's brand
doesn't accept Australians which has held back the
firm in recent years. PKR
Casino and Captain
Cooks Casino have been Media Man semi finalists
over the years, but PartyCasino
looks like a safe bet to maintain it's stranglehold
on the title for now. Well done Party.
Vegas Live at Burswood Theatre...
Friday 20 May...Take a trip to Las Vegas without the
airfare or expenses. Viva Las Vegas has all the razzle
dazzle and glitz of the entertainment capital of the
world, and is coming to Burswood for one night only!
The show combines sensational song and dance numbers
with exciting specialty acts. Viva Las Vegas will
take viewers on a spellbinding journey to Las Vegas,
without leaving their seat. Show-goers will witness
the gorgeous Vegas Showgirls in spectacular costumes
and dazzling choreography, plus the remarkable illusions
of Magic2. Audiences will also experience the best
celebrity impersonators, Tom Jones tribute artist
and world class Elvis impersonator Rick Charles performing
together with a live band. This is 90 minutes of spectacular
Las Vegas entertainment, a fabulous night to be remembered
Gaming Giant Keen On Centrebet...
Springs-based online gaming - gambling giant Centrebet
International has confirmed a London-listed company
is proposing a takeover bid. A spokesman for Centrebet
says discussions are being held with Sportingbet.
The UK gaming company is proposing to acquire shares
and performance rights for starters. The spokesman
says no agreement has been reached as yet. He says
the Centrebet licence would most likely remain in
Alice Springs if a takeover bid is successful.
Wilkie Keen To Discuss Poker Machines With Victoria...
independent MP Andrew Wilkie says he is happy to talk
to Victoria about its concerns regarding his planned
poker machine changes. Wilkie is insisting on a compulsory
scheme where pokie players will have to pre-set how
much they are willing to lose or play on machines,
which will only accept $1 bets. Victoria opposes a
mandatory scheme and says Mr Wilkie should see the
voluntary scheme it is putting in place. Mr Wilkie,
who is threatening to bring down the Federal Government
if he does not get his way, says he is happy to speak
with the Victorian Government. "But I want to
make one thing perfectly clear: it is not an option
for Victoria to be exempted from these national reforms.
It is as simple as that," he said. "There
will be mandatory pre-comittment on these high-intensity
poker machines, full stop."
Lottery Winners Unlucky With Love Life...
used to be a couple whose relationship would not endure
for love or money - not even $3 million bucks. They
split up a year after the woman bought a winning lottery
ticket, and the Federal Magistrates Court had to decide
how to divide the fortune. Known by the pseudonyms
Ms Kneen and Mr Crockford, the pair - aged in their
20s - had lived together on and off for a while. In
September 2008, after spending much of the year in
women's shelters, Ms Kneen moved back in with Mr Crockford.
A month later she bought a Powerball ticket at a Canberra
newsagency and was stunned when she learnt she had
won $3 million. Establishing the facts was not easy;
the federal magistrate who determined the property
settlement, Stuart Lindsay, said both parties were
"very poor witnesses" who lied to help their
own case. Kneen claimed she was the only one who bought
lottery tickets and that Mr Crockford was "dismissive
of her buying tickets and encouraged her not to".
''She said that she always referred to the tickets
as her tickets,'' Mr Lindsay said. ''She said that
she had only ever won small amounts
she always kept those winnings for herself.'' But
Mr Crockford said they both played Powerball or Lotto
every week and each contributed to the tickets, on
the understanding that "whoever bought it, it
was a joint ticket and that they would share the winnings,"
Mr Lindsay said. After the $3 million windfall, they
bought three properties. The pair flew to Melbourne
together to claim the winnings and Ms Kneen was with
Mr Crockford when the cheque was made payable to his
account, Mr Lindsay said, suggesting a relationship
where the money would likely "be regarded by
them both as having been jointly won". Mr Lindsay
allocated $100,000 to Ms Kneen because she earned
less than her former partner, but split the rest equally.
Legal Case Against James Packer And Lachlan Murdoch
New South Wales court has dismissed a civil case against
James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch in relation to the
collapse of phone company, One.Tel. Some of One Tel's
creditors appointed a special purpose liquidator,
Paul Weston, to investigate why the board withdrew
financial support for the company and put it into
voluntary administration in 2001. Mr Murdoch and Mr
Packer were directors of the board and companies linked
to them were investors. But Justice Julie Ward said
the case was stale and the proceedings should be dismissed.
Mr Weston has been ordered to pay the costs of the
case. The High Court has agreed to hear an appeal
by ASIC against the dismissal of civil penalties against
former James Hardie directors. In 2009, the Australian
Securities & Investments Commission won a landmark
court case against the company's former executives
and directors for misleading the market about asbestos
compensation. James Hardie was fined, and the former
executives and directors were fined and disqualified.
The case was partially overturned on appeal and the
former directors had their penalties quashed. The
local share market ended higher after a volatile day.
The All Ordinaries Index rose 11 points, or nearly
0.25 of a per cent to 4,787. Spot gold is higher at
just over US$1,510 an ounce. West Texas Crude oil
is at US$98.97 a barrel. The Australian dollar is
nearly $US1.07. Congrats to 'Our James' and 'Our Lachlan'.
Names Gaming Visionary Rich Schneider Chief Product
Technologies has named legendary gaming visionary
Rich Schneider as its new Chief Product Officer. As
CPO, Schneider will lead all aspects of product design,
portfolio management and global marketing activities,
and he will direct the overall leadership of Aristocrat's
vibrant creative studios. Schneider will be based
in the company's Las Vegas office and will report
directly to CEO and Managing Director Jamie Odell.
"The appointment of our CPO is significant, and
we are fortunate to have attracted someone of Rich's
calibre, and he will play a critical leadership role
in the next stage of our turnaround story," Odell
said. "His skill set, knowledge of the industry
and years of experience will be tremendous assets
to Aristocrat's Executive Leadership Team and to our
business." "I could not be more delighted
about joining Jamie and the entire Aristocrat team.
Aristocrat's breadth of product, coupled with a great
game library, and a strong tradition of delivering
games that players just love to play are all great
building blocks for a successful future," said
Schneider. Schneider is widely regarded as an important
force in the gaming industry and has played significant
roles in shaping its future. Most notably, Schneider
was Executive Vice President of Product Strategy at
IGT. He has also served as IGT's Senior Vice President
of Server Based Gaming and President of IGT Systems.
Prior to IGT, he served as President and Chief Operating
Officer at Acres Gaming. He has also been V.P. of
Game Development for CDS and Director of Engineering
for United Coin Machine. Schneider's vision has helped
lead to the creation and proving the value of system
bonusing products that have become the industry standard
for building patron loyalty and driving casino revenues.
He also played a vital role in conceiving what is
now known as the Gaming Standards Association and
has been a tireless advocate for open standards. Schneider
has held several important positions in GSA, including
Board Member and Vice Chairman of the Board. Schneider
holds a BS in Engineering from the University of Nevada,
Las Vegas. He will begin his tenure at Aristocrat
on July 28. Aristocrat Technologies Inc. is a subsidiary
of Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX: ALL), a leading
global provider of gaming solutions. The Company is
licensed by more than 200 regulators and its products
and services are available in more than 90 countries
around the world. Aristocrat offers a diverse range
of products and services including electronic gaming
machines and casino management systems.
v. IGT: Attorney Negligence, Revival, and Inequitable
Techs. v. Int'l. Game Tech. & IGT (N.D. Cal. 2011)
attorneys regularly have hundreds of patent applications
pending, each with their own due dates far
too many for anyone remember on their own. We keep
track through docketing systems, paralegals, and attorney
cross-checks. We are often overwhelmed especially
when firms change and staff leaves (as happened in
this case). One of the comments to this post astutely
introduced the old adage: "there but for the
grace of God go I."
Aussie slot-machine manufacturer Aristocrat missed
its US national stage patent filing deadline by one
day. The patent was saved when the USPTO granted Aristocrat's
US attorney's petition to revive the abandoned application
based on the claim that the "entire delay"
in filing the appropriate papers was "unintentional."
During infringement litigation against market leader
IGT, the district court first held the patent invalid
based on a defense of improper revival. In particular,
the district court held that the USPTO lacked authority
to revive national stage applications unless the abandonment
met the much higher standard of being unavoidable.
On appeal, the Federal Circuit reversed holding
that improper revival did not constitute a cognizable
defense to allegations of infringement under 35 U.S.C.
remand, IGT shifted its focus to unenforceability
alleging that Aristocrat committed inequitable
conduct in the revival of its abandoned application.
Filing and Hiding Abandonment from Client: The district
court used one-hundred-twelve paragraphs to described
the facts relating to the abandonment and revival.
Here are a few key facts:
10, 2000: On the day of the 30month deadline,
Aristocrat's US patent counsel (Shahan Islam) used
US Express mail to file the necessary documents to
enter US national stage examination. The USPTO received
the documents the next day (January 11, 2000). However,
according to the USPTO, Islam did not include sufficient
evidence to prove the January 10, 2000 mailing date.
And, Mr. Islam's firm did not retain the filing evidence
in a locally held file.
2001: The USPTO dismissed Islam's petition to correct
the filing date and indicated that the application
remained abandoned. Mr. Islam later testified that
he did not remember receiving the June 2001 decision.
The court found that Mr. Islam likely saw the decision
shortly after it was mailed.
2001: Aristocrat requested a status update on the
application from Mr. Islam. (Up to that time, Aristocrat
had been told nothing of the abandonment issues).
In December 2001, Mr. Islam responded in an e-mail
that "we have learned that the application won't
be examined for at least another nine months(!) [or]
so in view of the backlog." The e-mail did not
indicate anything about the abandonment. Mr. Islam
also forwarded his response to another attorney at
his law firm saying "lets discuss."
this same time period, eight other Aristocrat applications
being prosecuted by Mr. Islam also went abandoned
based on failure to respond to PTO notices mailed
18, 2002: Mr. Islam (at this point with the KMZ firm)
filed a petition for revival for unintentional abandonment
included a statement that "the entire
delay in filing the required reply from the due date
for the reply until the filing of a grantable petition
under 37 CFR 1.137(b) was unintentional." In
addition, Mr. Islam filed a preliminary amendment
and petition for accelerated examination. In a letter
to Aristocrat, Mr. Islam incorrectly (and apparently
intentionally) stated that the amendment & petition
to accelerate had been filed in January 2002. The
letter did not mention the petition for revival.
3, 2002: USPTO granted the petition to revive.
KMZ attorneys informed Aristocrat of the abandonments
Revival: The USPTO typically does not require documentation
to revive under the unintentional delay standard.
Rather, the office relies on the applicant's statements
that the entire delay in filing a response was unintentional.
Here, the USPTO did not require specific documentation.
versus Not Intentional: In its analysis, the district
court held that the facts did not provide clear and
convincing evidence that Mr. Islam had intentionally
delayed the petition filing. In particular, the court
could find no motive for the delay. Instead, the delay
appeared to be the result of Mr. Islam's ongoing negligence
rather than intentional misbehavior. Negligence is
the foundational non-intentional tort and therefore
a finding of negligence does not suggest that the
delay was intentional. In an odd logical analysis,
Judge Whyte concluded that Islam's failure to notify
Aristocrat of the abandonment "actually suggests
that the delay was unintentional."
Islam did not want to disclose his errors [to Aristocrat]
because he was likely embarrassed by his failure to
act in accordance with his client's instruction. Had
it been granted, Mr. Islam's Petition to Correct would
have avoided abandonment altogether. Mr. Islam's deflections
in December 2001 show that he was fully aware that
Aristocrat wished to proceed with the '717 application.
Mr. Islam's comments to Mr. Owen's regarding the PTO
backlog at the time further avoided acknowledging
any personal responsibility for delay but it may have
been correct, especially considering that the '717
application remained in an abandoned state even after
the PTO had officially revived it. Still further,
Mr. Islam's incorrectly dated Second Preliminary Amendment
is further evidence that Mr. Islam's chief motive
was to hide his failures from Aristocrat. Once the
June 2001 Decision was sent, a decision to deliberately
delay reviving the '717 application would not have
helped to hide his errors from Aristocrat.
Judge Whyte found "Mr. Islam's testimony was
disturbingly vague and his lack of memory difficult
to believe," the Judge agreed with the notion
the delay was entirely explained by Mr. Islam's disorganization
and the "out of control" state of his practice
at the time. "Even if Mr. Islam failed to properly
prosecute the '717 application, 'unintentional' delay
does not require that the delay have occurred despite
the exercise of due care and diligence (as does 'unavoidable'
holding that the delay was not intentional, the court
concluded that the statement regarding unintentional
delay could not be a material misrepresentation and
therefore that the defense of inequitable conduct
could not stand.
Opinion: Two leading patent law experts testified
at the inequitable conduct hearing: Charles Van Horn
for Aristocrat and Paul Gardner for IGT. While the
court found the testimony helpful for explaining the
prosecution of PCT applications, it found the experts'
extensive legal conclusions filled with "blatant
advocacy" to be "not helpful." Judge
Whyte has been known to speak critically against expert
testimony in patent cases. (Credit: www.patentlyo.com)
IGT Exec joins Aristocrat...
International Game Technology executive Rich Schneider
will join Aristocrat Technologies in July as its chief
product officer. Working out of the company American
headquarters in Las Vegas, Schneider will oversee
slot machine development for Australian-based Aristocrat.
Schneider will report directly to Aristocrat CEO Jamie
Odell. Schneider served in various executive capacities
with IGT, overseeing game design, gaming systems and
developing server-based gaming products. Odell said
Schneiders knowledge of the industry and
years of experience will be tremendous assets to our
business. Prior to joining IGT, Schneider held
executive positions at Acres Gaming and United Coin
Revises SKYCITY Outlook To Stable; Rating Affirmed...
13, 2011--Standard & Poor's Ratings Services today
said that it had revised its outlook on New Zealand-based
gaming company SKYCITY Entertainment Group Ltd. (SKYCITY)
to stable, from positive, and affirmed its 'BBB-'
long-term corporate credit rating on the company.
The rating affirmation and stable outlook reflects
our view that SKYCITY's financial profile and credit
measures--while incorporating some leeway to allow
management the flexibility to pursue growth and shareholder-return
objectives--will remain commensurate with the 'BBB-'
rating over the medium term.
believe SKYCITY's strengthened balance sheet and debt-maturity
profile, combined with our expectation of relatively
stable property-level EBITDA and cash flow generation,
will enable the company to undertake debt-funded growth
opportunities in a manner that preserves credit quality
at the 'BBB-' long-term rating," Standard &
Poor's credit analyst Jennifer Wee said.
rating and outlook incorporates our expectation that
SKYCITY will maintain the competitive positioning
of its New Zealand and Australian casino assets, underpinned
by a supportive licensing environment and measured
capital investment. Furthermore, we expect the company
to continue its relatively stable cash flow performance
and disciplined financial policy, balancing future
potential capital projects and dividends with the
maintenance of rating-commensurate credit measures
over the medium term.
Packer To Spend $281m For Extra Aussie Casino Development....
Crown Casino is raising its bet on the business, announcing
it would spend an extra $281 million upgrading its
Australian casinos. It is also making acquisitions
that include consolidating its ownership of the Aspinall's
Club in London. The new money s on top of $139 million
previously earmarked for upgrades of the Crown Casino
in Melbourne and Burswood Casino in Perth, signalling
the company's confidence in the market and its ability
to attract high-rollers to the casinos' VIP gambling
service. Crown's buys include the Holiday Inn hotel
building and associated assets at Burswood Casino
for $79 million. "Burswood will be entitled to
a greater share of hotel profits,'' the company said.
A further $81 million will be spent upgrading Burswood's
gambling floor, catering, convention centre and VIP
accommodation services. Crown Casino in Melbourne
will enjoy $132 million in upgrades, with a more extensive
investment in the gambling floor and catering as well
as a new bar and lounge that will feature Shane Warne
and the poker champion Joe Hachem as ambassadors.
Further upgrades to its VIP facilities were also announced,
including refurbishing the casino's jet. Crown and
Tabcorp's Star City had announced upgrades to the
VIP gambling businesses to meet growing competition
from new casinos in Singapore and Macau. In December
Mr Packer, Crown's chairman, said Australia would
need to work harder to compete with new Asian developments
and called on other companies to take up some of the
slack. ''Australian investment in large-scale tourism
attractions has been relatively modest in recent years.
In contrast, Crown has been and continues to be a
significant investor in Australian tourism infrastructure."
Crown will acquire a 100% interest in Aspinall's Club.
The casino was owned by the Aspinall's Group, Crown's
joint venture with the Packer family friend Damian
Aspinall. The venture will use the $55 million in
proceeds to pay debt.
Packer Says Kangaroos And Clichés Stifling
tourism is letting itself down by sticking to outdated
clichés, according to one of the countrys
richest men. Marketing campaigns promising to throw
a shrimp on the barbie and asking where
the bloody hell are you? have been a waste of
$500 million of taxpayers' money, says James Packer,
son of the late media tycoon Kerry Packer. Tourisms
contribution to the national economy has plummeted
from 3.4 percent to 2.6 percent over the last decade.
Its world ranking in tourism competitiveness has dived
from fourth in 2008 to 13th, according to a World
Economic Forum Report. Casino mogul Packer says the
latest campaign - featuring Americans navigating
a four-wheel drive through the outback looking for
kangaroos - is geared towards backpackers on
$50 a day," and would do little to change
fortunes. In a rare interview with The Saturday Age,
a frustrated Packer said tourism was a "lost
opportunity." He said a "tired and aging
Sydney has fallen behind not only other Australian
cities like Melbourne, but also our regional competitors.
And it is a regional market -- we're competing with
Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur." James
Packer, who has an estimated net worth of $3 billion,
believes marketing should target the affluent, middle-class
Asian market to arrest stagnation in the sector. This
comes as the Chinese have emerged as the primary force
in Australia's tourism sector. Packer believes Australia
needs to market the cities - and imitate Singapore's
and Macau's initiatives -- rather than selling the
Great Barrier Reef and the desert. The majority
of tourists want to go to man-made attractions, not
the outback," he said. And Packer, who owns Melbournes
Crown Casino and another in Macau, believes this is
what Asian tourists are after, putting him at odds
with a Federal campaign to limit gambling. He believes
tourism is being held back by five factors: a strong
Australian dollar, antiquated visa applications for
Asian visitors, run-down tourist facilities, key inbound
tourist markets suffering natural disasters, and fierce
competition from our Asian neighbors. Australias
selling itself short, according to Packer. Hotel owners
and tour operators desperate for business agree. Even
the chairman of Tourism Australia, Geoff Dixon, believes
a lack of investment in tourism infrastructure and
protectionist visa regulations are holding Australia
back. The premier, Barry OFarrell, agreed that
tourism needs to sell a modern Sydney, rather than
outdated clichés, reports Smh.com.au. He said
the multicultural hub of Cabramatta was an extraordinary
place to visit on a weekend." "And there
are many other places like that across this city,"
OFarrell said. "So I think we are dealing
with a far more sophisticated tourism trade than simply
sausages on barbies and looking for kangaroos."
Shares: Media And Gaming - 13th May 2011
- CROWN LTD - up one cent at $8.51
operator Crown will spend an extra $281 million to
buy new properties and further upgrade its flagship
casinos in Melbourne and Perth.
- FAIRFAX MEDIA LTD - down 3.5 cents at $1.09
Media has confirmed it will outsource all sub-editing
work from its flagship Sydney and Melbourne newspapers,
the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance says.
- TEN NETWORK HOLDINGS LTD - up 1.5 cents at $1.275
- SEVEN GROUP HOLDINGS LTD - down 64 cents at $8.96
executive James Warburton will have to wait until
January 1, 2012, to start as the boss of Ten Network
Holdings, a court has ruled.
Media Man Firm May Sell Some Website Portals...
continues to develop and diversify they are apparently
looking to sell a few of their website portals. A
well placed leak said "Media Man is looking to
raise some fast cash to fuel other non gaming ventures.
They found that gaming related ventures are down from
last years numbers and have decided to get into more
online - non gambling related services, following
the Packer strategy. It's also rumoured Media Man
sold some of their shares in Crown Limited, Ten Holdings
and Virgin Blue to also raise extra cash, after apparently
over spending as they over invested back in their
business". Don't be mistaken however, Media Man
still own approximately 30 website portals and remain
a well known and established media, publicity brand
and internet brand, and are understood to be getting
further investor ready.
Man has an online news syndication arrangement with
Fairfax Media and The New York Times
Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal
writer owns shares in Crown Limited