Reno welcomes first non-gaming branded hotel

In Nevada, Wednesday saw the city of Reno reportedly welcome its first non-gaming branded hotel after the owner of the former Siena Hotel finished converting the 214-room property into the new Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel.

According to a report from the Associated Press news service, the venue closed in late-June of 2015 but has now re-opened with its 22,000 sq ft casino replaced by a family-friendly entertainment venue offering games of bocce ball, shuffleboard and skee-ball alongside a restaurant and a pair of 50-foot projections screens.

“Northern Nevada, specifically Reno, is quickly emerging as a premier destination beyond its gaming roots and the opening of the Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel will raise the standards for hospitality in the city,” read a statement from Fernando Leal, the man behind the enterprise that bought the property at auction for $3.9 million in 2010.

Opened as the Holiday Hotel in 1956 without a casino, the property added gaming a year later but continually struggled to make a profit. Leal is now hoping the new-look venue, which has joined the 5,700-strong family of properties managed by Maryland hotelier Marriot International Incorporated, will become a success due to its more traditional offering and the addition of a 15-foot outdoor restaurant deck that will allow up to 90 diners to eat while suspended above the Truckee River.

“It’s hard to believe but it is the only property over the actual river with outdoor drinks and dining,” read the statement from Leal. “The number of people that we’re going to be employing here is going to be higher than when it was a casino.”

Leal explained that this deck additionally includes a wrap-around fire pit that creates a wall of fire between visitors and the river while guests at the Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel can also enjoy an outdoor pool and hot tub as well as exercise facilities.

As if this wasn’t enough, the property moreover features 38,200 sq ft of meeting and events space while a 10,000 sq ft outdoor recreation area comes complete with a bar and restaurant offering a buffet-style sushi menu alongside an assortment of up to 100 canned beers.

Furthermore, the Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel is pet-friendly and offers a facility where guests can have a personalized tag engraved for their animal before being used and subsequently saved for future visits.

“Pets humanize and ground us,” read the statement from Leal. “They are a big part of the experience we are creating here; an environment where people feel welcome and comfortable.”

Mike Kazmierski, President for the Western Nevada Economic Development Authority, welcomed the new hotel and declared that he expects it to draw a different kind of tourist to Reno.

“In the past they’ve come here to game [but] now they are here to experience the entire region,” Kazmierski told the Associated Press.

Reno welcomes first non-gaming branded hotel was last modified: April 9th, 2017 by Adam Morgan

Vote on Genting Group’s downtown Miami hotel proposal postponed to April 18

In southern Florida, a plan from global casino operator Genting Group to build a 300-room hotel on a small plot of land near to the site of its long-proposed Resorts World Miami downtown casino resort project has reportedly been delayed after local commissioners failed to hold a full vote on the scheme.

According to a report from the Miami Today business newspaper, last month saw the multi-million-dollar hotel proposal win the unanimous support of the transportation committee for the Miami-Dade County Board Of County Commissioners but the required full vote before the body was a late addition to the group’s April 4 meeting and was subsequently postponed until its next gathering on April 18.

Genting Group has been trying to obtain permission to build its giant Resorts World Miami scheme on a 5.65-acre site that once housed the offices of the Miami Herald newspaper since 2011 but its attempts have been continuously hindered by local opposition, planning regulations and an inability to secure the appropriate casino license.

However, the stalled casino plan received a boost in March after the proposal for the unaffiliated hotel scheme, which would sit directly across the street from the hoped-for Resorts World Miami development, received the consent of the local transportation committee. This calls for the Malaysian firm to be granted a 90-year lease on a one-acre plot of public land that would be home to the hotel as well as a renovated bus terminal and new-look Metromover station.

Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez told the Miami Herald newspaper last month that the proposed hotel deal with Genting Group would generate nearly $55 million in rent and revenue-sharing payments for the county while he put the value of the transit improvements at around $22 million.

Although the plan calls for Genting Group to construct a hotel on the site within four years of receiving the appropriate approvals, the Miami Herald additionally reported that the company would be permitted to alter this designation in order to build a residential complex depending on market conditions.

Miami-Dade County deputy mayor Alina Hudak told the Miami Today newspaper last week that the hotel project is forecast to create 1,871 jobs during construction followed by approximately 171 full-time positions once completed.

“It will also stimulate the creation of 100 additional indirect jobs and provide significant revenue to the county and the city of Miami in the form of taxes and impact fees,” said Hudak.

Vote on Genting Group’s downtown Miami hotel proposal postponed to April 18 was last modified: April 11th, 2017 by Adam Morgan

Jeju Shinhwa World to open hotel accommodations April 25th

Landing International Development Ltd, a real estate firm located in mainland China, is set to debut an accommodation portion of the Jeju Shinhwa World, a resort located in South Korea this month. The resort will offer hotel accommodations starting on April 25th and is also set to have casino gaming in the future, along with other amenities.

The resort is located on Jeju Island and will open Somerset Jeju Shinhwa on the 25th, an accommodation section with 344 guest units, according to a report at GGRasia. This facility will be operated by The Ascott Ltd., which is a wholly-owned unit of CapitaLand Ltd, of Singapore.

In an earlier press release by Landing International, it was revealed that additional facilities of Jeju Shinhwa World would open later on this year. The full development is set to be finished by 2019, based on a company filing from last month.

In the previous press release by Landing, it revealed that from late 2017, the resort would be opening a family theme park, a water park, the YG entertainment center, hotel rooms, the largest retail/food beverage complex in Jeju and casinos. The casinos will be for foreigners only. MICE facilities are also to be opened, which refers to meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions.

Previously, it was announced by Landing International that 486 guest rooms would open at what was being called Jeju Shinhwa World Marriott Resort and Spa, later this year and then 144 guest rooms opened in a second phase, with 630 guest rooms offered in total.

The company already operates as well as owns Landing Casino, a gaming venue located on Jeju. This casino is located at the Hyatt Regency Jeju Hotel.

With the Jeju Shinhwa World project, Genting Singapore Plc was set to be involved, the operator behind Resorts World Sentosa of Singapore. In November of last year, the firm announced they were ridding themselves of their rights to take part in the Jeju Shinhwa World project, which previously had the working title of ‘Resorts World Jeju’ or ‘Myths and History Park’. The company stated they would be working on other projects including potentially investing in Japan.


Jeju Shinhwa World to open hotel accommodations April 25th was last modified: April 18th, 2017 by Marie Kelley

Genting Miami-Dade joint development receives unanimous approval

Genting‘s 300 room hotel, planned to be built over the Miami Omni bus terminal with access to the Adrienne Arsht Center Metromover station was unanimously approved by the Miami-Dade County Commission on Tuesday. The transportation committee approved the plan on March 16. During Tuesday’s hearing, a side debate arose focused on the assumption that the gambling giant, through Resorts World Miami LLC, is planning to eventually develop a casino at the site.

The Miami Herald reports that Commissioner Joe Martinez said, “I am willing to live with a casino there because it is coming.”

The ninety-year lease includes air rights over the property where a 36 story hotel is envisioned. The deal includes improvements to other local mass transit and other systems such as a $16 million upgrade for a nearby bus stop that will include an air-conditioned shelter.

Upgrades and redesigns slated for the Metromover station include replacing of stairs, escalators, elevators, surveillance systems, and flooring along with improved pedestrian access and improved views from within.

The infrastructure, including a total of $22 million in improvements will continue to be owned by Miami-Dade. Genting will also turn over a side street it currently controls. Genting will need to make $100,000 per year lease payments while construction is underway and a cash payment to Miami-Dade of $10 million. Ongoing revenues to Miami-Dade include whichever is greater of 50% on gross revenues from retail or $300,000 per year.

The development land includes seven parcels which when counted together equal less than one acre.

The deal allows for significant investment in the transit infrastructure at no cost to Miami-Dade. All revenue will accrue to Transportation and Public Works.

Genting also own about 30 acres of adjacent land including the former Miami Herald building on the waterfront. Genting purchased the property earlier for $236 million as well as the Omni retail and hotel complex which sold for $185 million.

The Malaysian conglomerate originally planned to build a 5,000 hotel-casino on the waterfront but lawmakers have been cold to the idea of expanded gambling in the state. Powerful interests such as the Seminole Tribe, who could provide Florida with up to $7 billion if their compact is renewed have stood in the developer’s way, as have some so-called grass roots organizations flying the Disney flag that say the state will suffer from expanded gambling.

Genting has also proposed bringing machine gambling to the Omni site under current law but those efforts have met with defeat so far.

Some commissioners seemed leery of Genting’s intent and at least one attempted to write more county control into the agreement before coming on board for the unanimous approval.

Genting counsel explained to the commissioners that in order for a casino to be installed above the bus terminal, Genting would need a change in existing state law, local approval for gambling expansion, and permission from the city of Miami to change zoning to allow card games or slots. As Miami-Dade will remain as owner of the property under Genting’s 90-year lease, County approval would be needed as any zoning request submitted to Miami would need to be endorsed by Miami-Dade.

Genting Miami-Dade joint development receives unanimous approval was last modified: April 19th, 2017 by Lars Jones

Motives of Hialeah’s new horsemen’s group questioned

The recognition of a new horseman’s group at Hialeah Park by the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering is being challenged and a trial is set to begin today in a Tallahassee courtroom. Those in the know regarding horseman’s issues in Florida say that the trial could have far-reaching implications.

The group replacing the American Quarter Horse Association (Racing) (AQHA), which has represented horsemen since 2010, was created by the management of Hialeah and a racing application has been submitted by Hialeah listing the new horseman’s group. The Division has recognized the newly created horseman’s group and while it has yet to be assembled, has issued Hialeah its 2017 racing permit. The original six-year purse agreement between AQHA and Hialeah expired last year.

The president of the Florida Horsemen’s Protective and Benevolent Association, William P. White, says that the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering is not willing to serve as a referee in determining the legitimacy of the new group and whether or not it constitutes a new majority, according to Sunshine State News. White, who is scheduled to testify before Administrative Law Judge Lawrence P. Stevenson at the trial today, claims that the Division is evolving into a regulating body that does not arbitrate/referee. White said , “With no racing commission, there is no governmental body to appeal to other than the courts,” and, “So every time we bring some sort of issue to the Division, they say, ‘oh, it’s not for us to decide,’ we’ll get the courts to do it,” according to the news agency.

However, some say that the issue shouldn’t have to be arbitrated. They say that “signed cards” are supposed to be on file indicating that a member has made a choice to affiliate with that group. Instead, they say, the Division has simply decided to look the other way, according to the news agency.

Thoroughbreds and other breed races are allowed under a Quarter Horse permit so long as Quarter Horses comprise half the races. The speculation is that the new group is an attempt by Hialeah to legitimize a bogus group, which would be accepted at face value by the Division for the purpose of being issued a permit. Hialeah benefits from the move by enabling it to run an abbreviated racing schedule next summer, as well as reducing or cutting slot revenue to purses due to the fact that they can negotiate with the group that they themselves created. White said, “In essence, Hialeah can fill out a purse contract any way they want and they are now, in all practicality, decoupled without legislation,” adding, “I believe the danger to us is Calder. When the tri-party agreement expires in four years, Churchill Downs again takes over the running of Calder,” he said. “Churchill could try to do something similar to what Hialeah is doing.”

White’s testimony will involve the requirement by law that a legitimate horsemen’s group represents the trainers and owners, according to the news agency.

Motives of Hialeah’s new horsemen’s group questioned was last modified: October 25th, 2016 by K Morrison

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo continues push to get video lottery terminals into New Jersey racetracks

The referendum to move casinos outside of Atlantic City goes to vote in November but Assemblyman Ralph Caputo is not waiting for the official results as a number of polls have already shown that New Jersey residents are not in favor of developing casinos outside of Atlantic City. Proponents of the referendum will have to wait another two years before they can campaign once again.

However, Caputo is not going to wait for so long as the former casino worker and northern New Jersey Democrat has decided to amend two bills that he introduced in Jan 2016 that will allow video lottery terminals to be hosted by racetracks in New Jersey. The two bills will allow racetracks such as the Monmouth Park in Oceanport and the Meadowlands in East Rutherford to host these video lottery terminals which are similar to slot machines.

Trenton’s Bad Bet, the group that campaigned against the November referendum was not happy with Caputo’s decision. In a statement, Bill Cortese, executive director of Trenton’s Bad Bet said “What is shocking is that he has decided to completely ignore the will of the people, which will be expressed on election day as New Jersey voters support or oppose the casino expansion referendum.”

This is not the first that a move to get slot machines into New Jersey racetracks has been made. Back in 2003 when an attempt was made, the state government asked Atlantic City casinos to pay the horseracing industry in the state $30 million each year for not permitting slot machines. Republican Gov. Chris Christie put a stop to those payments in 2011 and redirected those funds to the Atlantic City Alliance, which promoted Atlantic City’s casino industry throughout the country.

The horseracing industry in New Jersey wants to be able to have slot machines as it will enable their racetracks to compete with the racinos in neighboring New York and Pennsylvania. Caputo plans to support the amendment on his two bills by using the 1982 opinion given by the state Attorney General Irwin Kimmelman at that time who stated that video lottery terminals did not require the state constitution to be amended as the current law only permits gambling in Atlantic City.

Republican Gov. Tom Kean banned the state lottery from using video lottery terminals in 1983 and Caputo’s two bills will have to overturn this decision. The current office of the State Attorney’s General stated that it would not comment on conflicting matters that go back to 1982. Caputo went on to say that he will amend his two bills and take out the requirement for a new referendum which will speed up the process and make it easier to get back into the game.

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo continues push to get video lottery terminals into New Jersey racetracks was last modified: October 18th, 2016 by Renee Kingsley

Melbourne Cup organizers tread carefully in China after Crown crisis

Organizers of the Melbourne Cup, the Victoria Racing Club, are treading lightly as they prepare the first big marketing push into China on the heels of the recent Crown arrests, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Sina Weibo, the online social media giant, is the venue through which nearly 20 million Chinese viewers will be able to watch the races. The micro blogging site, which is owned by the SINA Corporation, pays for the rights to broadcast the race.

In order to circumvent the gambling ban in China, Lisa Patroni, the head of international tourism and government for Victoria Racing, said that joint promotion with Crown Hotels for the Melbourne Cup was done so as a fashion event, according to the local news agency. Just like gambling in casinos is illegal in China, so is betting on horse races.

Patroni said, “The Chinese government is conscious of the sorts of money leaving the country, but there is more sensitivity around gaming and casinos,” according to the news agency. She added that the club was “watching” carefully. “We’ve always been very careful in our positioning. That’s why we dialled up the fashion. The government will shut your website and memes down. We don’t talk gambling at all, but softly educate them on racing, and dial up the history and heritage of the Melbourne Cup,” explained Patroni.

An increase from last years 5,000, approximately 7,000 Chinese visitors have purchased tickets to this year’s Melbourne Cup.

On the weekend of the 15th, 18 employees of Crown Resorts Ltd were detained by the Chinese authorities. Among those detained were three Australians accused of trying to lure gamblers in China to their gaming venues. Until the reasons for the arrests become clearer, all marketing in China by Crown Hotels will cease. In addition to sponsoring Australia Week in China, Crown Hotels has previously run partnerships with Tourism Victoria, Austrade, and Tourism Australia. Crown has insisted that it only promotes its resorts on the mainland, not its casinos, according to the news agency.

Recently, Crown Resorts indicated that it intends to offload more of its international holdings.

Melbourne Cup organizers tread carefully in China after Crown crisis was last modified: October 31st, 2016 by K Morrison

Horse Racing industry in New Jersey confirms major partnership on eve of casino vote

New Jersey residents will vote today on the North Jersey referendum which seeks to allow two casinos outside of Atlantic City. A deal was confirmed Monday evening that will improve the quality of horse racing in the state and help the industry balance its books.

Jeff Gural, owner of the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, is in favor of the North Jersey referendum and was one of the main financial backers of the ‘Our Turn NJ’ campaign as he has plans to develop a casino in partnership with the Hard Rock International. Monmouth Park is the only thoroughbred race track in New Jersey. Gural and Dennis Drazin who runs the Ocean Port race track have reached an agreement wherein purses will be subsidized up to $15 million each breed. Gural would also provide up to $5 million annually to assist with operating costs.


Drazin and Gural were at loggerheads earlier this year and as a result Drazin did not throw his full support behind the North Jersey referendum. However the new agreement appears to have satisfied Drazin who called on the horse racing industry on Monday to vote ‘Yes’ and support the referendum. The North Jersey Gaming Advocates group which wants casinos to be developed outside of Atlantic City was happy to see the horse racing industry throw its full support behind the referendum.

In a statement, Ron Simoncini, a representative for the Advocates group said “This should affirm for the voters that the prospect of new casinos in North Jersey will bring significant benefits to the state. This is a complex moment in New Jersey’s history, but one that has many sincere interests working to create equity across the board”.

Gural has also agreed to spend an additional $2 million each year to develop his track and make both his dirt and turf tracks ready for thoroughbred racing. Legislators who prepared the referendum had included a horse racing purse supplement but the formula used would result in the horse racing industry receiving less than one percent of the $600 million in revenues that the two new casinos are expected to generate.

Both Gural and Fireman decided to withdraw their financial support from the ‘Our Turn NJ’ campaign after internal polls showed that voters in New Jersey were not in favor of the referendum. While the support from the horse racing industry is definitely important to the referendum, it might have come at a time that is a bit too late for it to have much of an impact on the result of the vote. The latest polls show that between 55 to 71 percent of New Jersey voters will vote for Atlantic City to continue its 40 year monopoly on the gambling industry in the state.

Horse Racing industry in New Jersey confirms major partnership on eve of casino vote was last modified: November 8th, 2016 by Renee Kingsley

Antigua And Barbuda issues deadline in long-running iGaming dispute

The twin-island nation of Antigua And Barbuda has threatened to launch a website offering royalty-free downloads of United States intellectual property including books, films, television programs and music unless its giant counterpart complies with an order from the World Trade Organization by the end of the year.

Yesterday saw Antigua And Barbuda make the threat as part of a formal presentation to the World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Body regarding a twelve-year-old ruling that the United States’ trade policies regarding online gambling and sportsbetting were a violation of obligations under the General Agreement On Trade And Services.

The matter can trace its roots back to 1997 when United States law enforcement officials began charging individuals including several Antiguans for offering online betting services to their American consumers. These indictments were subsequently backed up by efforts to prevent local operators from using financial tools such as credit cards.

Antigua And Barbuda felt that the move was protectionist as the United States permitted its domestic horseracing industry to offer interstate online betting services and subsequently brought the matter before the World Trade Organization. The international trade body agreed with the small Caribbean nation and in 2003 ordered the United States to pay $21 million a year until it either scrapped its domestic Internet sportsbetting industry or allowed Antigua-licensed sites access to its market. This penalty has now reportedly reached over $250 million without one penny ever being handed over.

“In this instance, the United States has never complied with the judgment in our favor,” read a statement from Harold Lovell, the former Finance, Economy And Public Administration Minister for Antigua And Barbuda. “Further, years of patient negotiating have resulted in nothing but frustration. American officials have stepped up efforts to enforce the very laws ruled invalid by the World Trade Organization. The industry that once employed some 4,000 Antiguan people now employs just a couple of hundred.”

Anticipating intransigence by the United States, the ruling from the World Trade Organization gave Antigua And Barbuda the right to employ alternative means as a way of collecting these penalty funds including offering a service that provided for the royalty-free downloads.

“Even after obtaining the authorization, the government of Antigua And Barbuda continued to seek middle ground with the United States, sending delegations on numerous occasions in hopes of reaching a settlement,” read the 2013 statement from Lovell. “These efforts have failed. Just as in the United States, in Antigua the government owes a duty to its citizens to protect and enforce their rights. We have reluctantly decided to suspend intellectual property rights protections for American firms and products. Hopefully, the remedy will work as designed and American business interests can convince the Obama administration to follow international law.”

Seen as a last ditch effort, the move from the government of Antigua And Barbuda could result in the “Megavideo” domain launching as soon as January if “an appropriate and beneficial settlement is not reached with the United States by year-end”.

“For why should, for example, the United States motion picture industry suffer just so the federal government can continue to protect the monopolies of the big American gambling interests,” asked Lovell in his statement.

Antigua And Barbuda issues deadline in long-running iGaming dispute was last modified: November 29th, 2016 by Adam Morgan

Winford Hotel & Casino hosts official grand opening

After a soft opening in January of last year, the Winford Hotel & Casino has hosted their official grand opening ceremony this past Friday. The MJC Investments Corp project cost $160.9 million to build and features casino gaming along with hotel space. Manila Jockey Club Inc. subsidiary, MJC Investments Corp created the hotel and casino in Metro Manila to take advantage of the busy area in the Philippines.

Located in San Lazaro Tourism and Business Park, the casino has two floors dedicated to gaming with options including slot machines, table games and sports betting. On the third floor of the casino, players will find the VIP gaming area. For the poker enthusiast, the second floor is home to a poker room, branded after the Asia Poker Tour.

Overnight guests of the property can book a hotel stay in one of 128 guest rooms on-site. The facility also includes a heated pool and fitness area, food and beverage space, bar that includes a concert stage plus a spa.

Chairman of Pagcor, Andrea D. Domingo, spoke with the BusinessMirror on the project and stated that she is very happy to see the Manila Jockey Club adhering to the new policy of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, which is to encourage integrated resort casinos, rather than focus on gaming or just the casino portion of the venue.

Winford Hotel & Casino hosts official grand opening was last modified: April 26th, 2017 by Marie Kelley