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While the live and online felts have been doling out exciting action, the business end of the industry has also moved along at a brisk pace.
Irish bookmakers had come under a cloud of uncertainty when Ireland’s Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe had announced an increase on betting taxes by January 2019. However, following protests from Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA), Donohoe has decided to halt his plans.
The former Showboat Casino Hotel on the Atlantic City Boardwalk maybe getting a new look after Philadelphia-based developer Bart Blatstein decided to a portion of the hotel into residential apartments.
Meanwhile, Rogello Bangsil, a former PAGCOR employee who had sued and lost the lawsuit against Wynn Resorts for allegedly distributing his personal information with the FBI, has now decided against an appeal in Macau but announced that he would pursue the case in a U.S. court instead.
In Philippines the police and other concerned authorities have tightened their reins over illegal online gambling. The police teams busted two illegal Chinese operated online gambling operations, one in Metro Manila and the other in Pasig City, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterto has warned police officers against patronizing and frequenting the Okada Manila casino.
In recent times, Ireland’s bookmakers were concerned as the government was hinting at plans to double betting taxes. Luckily, the bookies seem to have won some temporary reprieve.
On November 15, the Times reported that Irish Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has halted his plan to double the tax on bookmakers’ betting turnover to 2% starting January 1, 2019. Donohoe now plans to conduct a review of the tax impact on the betting sector that won’t be completed until next year.
The tax hike had been announced in October by Donohoe when he had declared the year’s budget, drawing immediate protests from the Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA), which projected that the change would result in the closure of hundreds of Ireland’s remaining 855 betting shops and the loss of thousands of jobs.
On November 22, director of Tully Bookmakers, Paul Tully told The Independent that the turnover tax hike would “make us totally unviable,” and he’d likely have to close 18 shops starting in the new year, threatening the jobs of 70 employees.
The IBA were able to convince some Irish parliamentarians to propose an alternate tax scheme in which retail bookmakers would pay 10% tax on their wagering revenue while online bookies would pay 20%. The organization claimed that “this alternate plan would generate more tax revenue for the government than the 2% turnover tax, in part because there would be more betting operations still left open to tax.”
Nonetheless, it is still unclear if the government will consider an alternative plan for Irish-licensed online betting exchanges, whose tax on betting commissions was supposed to increase from 15% to 25% under the October budget plan.
The former Showboat Casino Hotel has been a hotspot for gamblers on the Atlantic City Boardwalk since 1987. It shut shop for the first time in August 2014 but following a brief possibility of becoming a potential site for a university, the property was re-opened in the summer of 2016 as a standalone hotel by Philadelphia-based developer Bart Blatstein.
While Blatstein had thought of applying for a gaming license in order to re-open the casino earlier this year, most recently, his company announced plans to turn a portion of the hotel into residential apartments.
785 hotel rooms belonging to the Showboat will remain, while the other 400 rooms will be converted into 264 rental units. With an additional apartment complex coming in across the street, developers are hoping the move will revitalize the north end of the Boardwalk.
The Showboat was one of five Atlantic City casinos to close since 2014. The Atlantic Club, Revel, Trump Plaza, and Trump Taj Mahal also shuttered their doors, although a few months ago, Revel re-opened as Ocean Resort Casino, and the Taj Mahal re-opened as the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
There are currently nine brick-and-mortar casinos in Atlantic City from a high of 12, and total gaming revenue is actually up a little more than 5% for the year, however, much of that growth is due to online gambling.
Legal conflicts seem to go hand-in-hand with the gaming industry and Wynn Macau has been embroiled in a lawsuit filed against it by a former employee of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR), Rogello Bangsil.
Bangsil had alleged that Wynn Resorts- operator of Wynn Macau had distributed his personal information with others. After Bangsil lost the case in July this year, he had made his intentions clear to file an appeal. In his latest move however, Bangsil has decided instead, to take the issue to a U.S. court.
According to media reports, Bangsil has argued that he wasn’t able to argue his case properly largely owing to lingual issues. “Since in my case the violation was actually done in the U.S., I may have better chances of getting justice there. I’m consulting now with U.S. lawyers to file the case there,” he stated.
The conflict revolves around the fact that when Bangsil was employed in PAGCOR, he and his wife found their names listed on a 2011 FBI report in context to an ‘improper relationship’ between several PAGCOR officials and a shareholder of Wynn Resorts, Kazuo Okada.
According to the Office for Personal Data Protection (OPDP), Wynn Macau had illegally provided their names to Wynn Resorts. Recognizing that the information was shared, the OPDP fined Wynn Macau $2,500.
Following this, Bangsil sued Wynn Resorts seeking damages to the tune of $1.2 Million in 2014. However, Bangsil reportedly failed to prove that he didn’t offer the information voluntarily and in its verdict after hearing the case, the Court of First Appeal in Macau had sided with Wynn Resorts. Bangsil announced that he was appealing the court’s verdict and had close to 40 days to file an appeal but couldn’t. The former PAGCOR employee will now look at pursuing legal relief in a U.S. court.
Authorities in Philippines have been actively hunting down people found involved in illegal online gambling. Just days after warning of a crackdown on local gambling operators, the Philippines police busted an illegal Chinese operated online gambling operation in Metro Manila.
On Thursday, a joint team of National Capital region Police Office and the Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti Cybercrime Group nabbed 104 people found running an illegal online gambling operation from an office complex in Pasig City. Among the arrested are 93 Chinese nationals, while police also seized a number of mobile phones, digital devices and computers. These were examined and found to contain ‘volatile data’ that is being further investigated.
At the same time, President of Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has warned police officers against frequenting the Okada Manila casino and to stay away from the casino even if they were in uniform.
The casino Duterte said, attracts “the lowlife in society and is crawling with usurers and kidnappers.” Duterte also added that any police officer caught near the casino would be summarily dismissed.
A year back, several police officers were found to have participated in the kidnapping and murder of a local casino junket operator. Following this the PNP announced that it would detail special officers to ensure policemen were not patronizing casinos.
Following Duterte’s statement, Okada Manila made its official stance clear. The casino management said it “fully supports President Duterte’s call for vigilance against erring members of the police force,” and would “cooperate and coordinate with local authorities to ensure the safety and welfare of our guests.”