Marina Bay Sands Can Improve On Strong Financial Results

Posted on: July 23, 2023, 11:50h. 

Last updated on: July 23, 2023, 11:50h.

Marina Bay Sands (MBS) is coming off a quarter in which it generated adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $432 million, but at least one analyst believes the Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) venue can do even better.

Marina Bay Sands
The Marina Bay Sands casino resort in Singapore at night. An analyst says the venue can post even better EBITDA numbers. (Image: Getty Images)

In a recent note to clients, CBRE Research analyst John DeCree said MBS can continue notching impressive financial performances because Chinese visitation to Singapore is just half what it was prior to the coronavirus pandemic. As that percentage increases, the city-state’s two integrated resorts — Genting’s Resorts World Sentosa is the other — should benefit.

Moreover, ongoing construction disruption on the casino floor is coming to a close and 200 higher quality suites are coming back online, allowing MBS to drive pricing and cater to higher value customers,” wrote DeCree.

Marina Bay Sands, which is LVS’s lone property outside of Macau, is one of the most profitable casinos in the world and vies with Venetian Macau — also a Sands venue — for the top spot.

Marina Bay Sands Has Room to Run

DeCree’s assessment that Marina Bay Sands has upside potential appears to be spot on. On Sands’ recent second-quarter earnings conference call, CFO Patrick Dumont noted the operator is making significant investments at the Singapore casino resort.

Those expenditures include enhancements to Towers 1 and 2. Those improvements haven’t been fully ramped up as of yet and when that happens, it could drive improvement to the property’s margins and EBITDA.

“Our biggest suites, so our 200 multi-day suites are the last to come online. So that’s what’s going to come in this quarter and the next quarter. So the full earnings potential of the renovated Tower 1 and Tower 2 will not really be reached until those suites are online. So we’ve been operating without them,” said Dumont on the call.

With the $432 million in second-quarter EBITDA, MBS is on track to reach Sands’ goal of $2 billion in annual EBITDA this year. Gross gaming revenue (GGR) derived from mass market bettors was $580 million in the June quarter – a 36% jump from the same period in 2019.

Sands Bullish on Singapore

While Las Vegas Sands is often viewed as a Macau story, there’s no denying the importance of MBS to the overall investment thesis. Nor is there denying the operator’s commitment to Singapore. Dumont noted Sands has “very strong feelings about the future success of” the city-state.

The market’s “changed for the better. We’re investing a lot and we’re creating what is arguably the best product we ever had. And the customer response is very strong, but we’re mid-flight in that,” he added.

Marina Bay Sands is an essential part of Singapore’s business and leisure travel industries and Sands benefits from its presence there. Last year, the city ranked ninth in the world in terms of tourism spending, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

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Open Championship Longshot Brian Harman Hoists Claret Jug

Posted on: July 23, 2023, 06:50h. 

Last updated on: July 23, 2023, 06:50h.

The Open Championship was a bit of a yawner Sunday, as American Brian Harman began the day with a five-shot lead at Royal Liverpool and never looked back.

Brian Harman Open golf odds
Brian Harman kisses the Claret Jug after winning the 151st Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in Hoylake, England, on July 23, 2023. Harman hadn’t won since 2017 before ending his drought on Sunday. (Image: Getty)

Harman, a 36-year-old PGA Tour journeyman who had never won a major in his career and had only won twice on Tour before this week, was certainly a pre-tournament longshot.

Most sportsbooks had him around 100/1 or longer, with PointsBet putting the Georgia native at 150/1 before last Thursday’s opening round.

BetMGM told that Harman was at 125/1 before he teed off at Hoylake. Harman was responsible for just 0.9% of the book’s tickets and 0.7% of the overall money wagered on the fourth and final golf major of the year.

Harman Unflappable

On the biggest day of his career, many wondered if Harman would be able to keep his nerves in check and continue his steady play.

After the world’s third-ranked player put up a record 63 at Royal Liverpool in a Saturday moving day charge, Jon Rahm — despite being six back — likely caused some disrupted sleep for the overnight leader. And Cameron Young, the 2022 “Golfer of the Year” who won at St. Andrews a year ago, sat just five back after a Saturday round of 66.

Sportsbooks said the pre-tournament bets they did take on Harman were relatively small, with most being under $10. But Harman moving into the lead early Friday after following Thursday’s -4 opening round of 67 with a -6 round of 65 cut into their profits, as in-tournament bets poured in on the leader.

While the books kept all of the outright money on the pre-tournament favorites, including Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, and Brooks Koepka, oddsmakers paid handsomely for the bets that came on Hartman heading into the weekend.

Before Saturday’s round in which Harman also held a five-shot advantage over fan favorite Tommy Fleetwood — an English native — Harman still was still at +125. A $100 bet on that line won $125.

It was only after Saturday’s round that books finally believed Hartman would win and moved his line to -225 (implied odds of 69%). The same $100 bet now netted just $44.44.

Unlikeliest Champion Golfer

Brian Harman has played on the PGA Tour for a dozen years dating back to 2011. He won in 2014 at the John Deere Classic — then a precursor of The Open Championship that attracted a strong field by offering to fly Open players overseas following the conclusion of the tournament.

Harman won again in June 2017 at the Wells Fargo Championship. He then went six years without a victory. During that time he competed in 167 tournaments without a win. But since 2017, Harman’s 29 top-10 finishes topped any other player who also hadn’t won during that span.

Harman finally got things done on Sunday at Hoylake. Padraig Harrington, a two-time Open Championship winner and a forthcoming member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, wasn’t so surprised.

Sometimes we see somebody leading a tournament and you kind of go, ‘Oh, is he going to hang on?’ I don’t think that’s the case with Brian Harman,” Harrington said before the final round. “Nearly every day he goes out on the golf course he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder.”

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Nationwide Gambling Raids Lead to Multiple Arrests

Posted on: July 23, 2023, 06:24h. 

Last updated on: July 23, 2023, 06:24h.

Four illicit gambling operations have lead to recent arrests and the apprehension of illegal devices, cash and firearms in several states.

Leeds, Ala. police cruiser
Leeds, Ala. police cruiser, pictured above. Police arrested a man at an illegal gambling operation. (Image: WVTM)

On Thursday, authorities uncovered a Leeds, Ala., illegal gambling operation. Five gambling machines, two firearms, and an unspecified amount of cash were found in the property.

Following the gambling raid on the Elliott Lane operation, Thomas Jeffery Bynum, 56, was arrested on five counts of possession of a gambling device and a single count of promoting gambling, according to Alabama TV station WBMA.

The search was approved by a local judge. Details were not released by Alabama police.

South Carolina Arrests

Earlier this month, Danny Ray Turner and Brenda G. Turner, both 74, of Marion County, S.C., were charged with gambling and seven counts of unlawful possession/operation of a gambling device.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division raided their home on July 10, according to South Carolina TV station WMBF. Seven gambling machines were seized from their residence, the report added.

The devices were described as  Pot O Gold gaming machines. They include poker, keno and blackjack games. They are illegal in South Carolina.

The duo was arrested on July 12. They were booked at the Marion County Detention Center and released from custody after each posted an $8K bond.

Brenda Turner admitted to “keeping and operating the illegal machines for the purpose of illegal gambling,” according to South Carolina TV station WBTW.

Their cases were turned over to local prosecutors from the 12th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

$18K Cash, Gambling Devices Seized

Five people were arrested in Akron, Ohio and illegal gambling devices were seized last month during a raid.

A half a gram of suspected fentanyl, drug paraphernalia, an AR-15 style rifle, three handguns, over $18,000 in cash, and 40 gambling motherboards were apprehended from the gambling operation, according to Akron TV station WOIO.

Following the court-approved search on June 7, Kyle Brown, 27, Leonard Cross IV, 23, and Davontae James, 30, were each charged with gambling and operating a gambling house, according to the report.

Brown and Cross were booked at the Summit County Jail. The other suspects were issued a summons to appear in local court.

Michael Walsh, 37, allegedly possessed the fentanyl and drug paraphernalia. He was charged with possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Beth Ison, 33, was arrested on an unrelated warrant and for misrepresenting her identity, authorities said.

Each of the five cases were turned over to local prosecutors.

Teen Shot

In another Akron case, a 16-year-old was arrested after getting shot in June in an alleged illegal gambling operation. Two adults were also charged.

The incident took place on June 5 at Akron’s Royal Queens Party Center.

The unnamed teen was wounded in the abdomen. He was transported to Akron Children’s Hospital. The injuries were described as serious but not life-threatening.

He was charged with aggravated robbery and aggravated assault, according to Ohio TV station WKYC.

Authorities said the teen pulled out a firearm when he entered the business. The teen and another person struggled over the firerarm, and a weapon discharged.

Authorities also seized gambling machines, gambling devices, and an unspecified amount of cash from the business.

While police were on the scene, they charged Donovan Alexander, 19, a manager, and Billy Walker, 34, who leases the property, with operating a gambling house, according to the report.

The two men were booked at the Summit County Jail.

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93 Las Vegas Firefighters Respond to Fontainebleau Hotel Blaze

Posted on: July 23, 2023, 12:44h. 

Last updated on: July 23, 2023, 01:09h.

Fire officials are continuing to investigate Saturday afternoon’s rooftop fire at the Fontainebleau Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. A plume of smoke could be seen for miles and 93 firefighters responded.

Smoke seen from the roof of the Fontainebleau Hotel
Smoke seen from the roof of the Fontainebleau Hotel, pictured above. No injuries were reported. (Image: KTNV)

It appears the fire ignited roofing materials and debris on top of the towering 67-story blue structure, according to Las Vegas TV station KTNV.

Clark County Fire Department and Las Vegas Fire and Rescue were first alerted about the fire at about 3:41 p.m.

Initially responding firefighters got to the hotel about six minutes later. They were able to take elevators to the roof.

They quickly doused the fire, and it was contained to the roof. They also searched the roof and building to ensure no workers or construction crews were at risk.

The smoky blaze was extinguished at 4:19 p.m. Fire pumps at the building automatically activated.

No injuries were reported.

As a precaution, firefighters drank fluids in the oppressive heat to remain hydrated. Firefighters also took rotational breaks from fighting the blaze. Las Vegas temperatures reached about 114°F during the fire.

In a statement released on Saturday, the Fontainebleau Hotel said the incident was a “minor fire” which was “quickly contained.”

The hotel added it is cooperating with local officials as they investigate the cause of the fire.

As safety and security are our highest priorities, we are working closely with the investigators,” the hotel said in the statement.

Clark County Deputy Fire Chief Billy Samuels did not release a damage estimate for the fire.

Many Crews Respond

In total, of the 93 firefighters, crews at the site included 12 fire engines, four ladder trucks, seven rescue units, four battalion chiefs, two heavy rescue units, and two air crews.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) officers and EMTs also responded to the property. Hotel security guards assisted emergency crews to allow them to get to the roof, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

LVMPD officers closed Elvis Presley Boulevard between Las Vegas Boulevard and Paradise Road to let firefighters battle the blaze.

Years of Construction

The hotel is under construction. It is scheduled to open late this year.

Construction on the Fontainebleau started in 2007. Due to an economic downturn, the project stopped in 2009.

The casino has been sold many times and has faced numerous setbacks.

The longest owner was Carl Icahn, who purchased the bankrupt project in 2010 for $151 million.

Icahn sold the unfinished resort to Steve Witkoff and the Witkoff Group for $600 million in 2017.

Witkoff sold the property to Jeff Soffer’s Fontainebleau Development and Koch Real Estate Investments (KREI) in early 2021 for an undisclosed sum.

In December, KREI announced that it secured $2.2 billion to finish the Fontainebleau. The funding is bankrolled by JPMorgan Chase, SMBC, Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies, Goldman Sachs, Guggenheim Partners, and VICI Properties. VICI is a real estate investment trust controlled by Caesars Entertainment.

Once finished, it will feature approximately 3,700 luxury guest rooms, more than a half-million square feet of convention and event space, and dining, retail shopping, health and wellness amenities.

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$1B Powerball Ticket Sold Near Skid Row

Posted on: July 23, 2023, 10:12h. 

Last updated on: July 23, 2023, 10:12h.

The $1.08 billion Powerball ticket that matched the six winning numbers this past week was sold near Skid Row in Los Angeles — a neighborhood notorious for homelessness and crime.

Powerball jackpot lottery commission
Nabor Herrera speaks with reporters after his mini market in Los Angeles near Skid Row sold a $1.08 billion winning Powerball ticket. For selling the life-changing ticket, Herrera will receive a $1 million bonus. (Image: AP)

Powerball officials said the winning ticket that hit the July 19 drawing was sold at the Las Palmitas Mini Market in downtown Los Angeles located at 1205 Wall St. The neighborhood is largely Latino and butts up against one of the most infamous tent cities filled with drugs, addicts, and people suffering from mental health crises.

The sixth-largest lottery jackpot in US history being won in such an area has brought a bit of hope to the community.

I’m very happy,” Nabor Herrera, 52, the owner of the Las Palmitas Mini Market, said in Spanish after media rushed the store following the win. “I think the person who won is Latino. I don’t know who it was, but that’s mainly who our clients are. Latinos working in the city.”

Herrera didn’t spend much time with reporters, as he said he needed to get back to unloading cases of water and milk from the trunk of his car. Herrera’s store competes with many street vendors selling bottles of water, flavored water ice, and candy. One of the lures to get locals inside the store is being an official retailer of the California Lottery, which is one of Powerball’s 45 participating states.

$1M Retail Reward

Powerball retailers have a vested interest in their ticket sales. In California, retailers can receive up to $1 million for selling a winning jackpot ticket. The lottery rewards retailers that sell a winning jackpot with a 0.5% share of the prize, but the prize is capped at $1 million.

Herrera did say before getting back to work that he plans to take his four children and wife on a vacation and invest the rest of the money. Asked about the state of his emotions, Herrera said, “Surprised.”

Powerball officials said the identity of the winner was not immediately known. The winner has until July 19, 2024, to come forward and collect the prize. California does not allow lottery winners to remain anonymous, so the winner’s identity will be made public.

The winner will need to decide whether to opt for the full value of the $1.08 jackpot paid out over a 30-year period or for a one-time cash option of $558.1 million. Both amounts are before the federal government takes its 37% share — the highest individual tax bracket in which the winner will fall into regardless of whether they select the annuity or cash.

Immigrant Success Story

The Los Angeles Times reports that Herrera immigrated from El Salvador to the US several years ago with his wife, Maria Leticia Menjivar. They opened a convenience store selling drinks, bread, canned food, and other common household items. They also decided to partner with the California Lottery to become an authorized retailer.

The California Lottery says for every $5 in lottery sales, a retailer on average generates an additional $10 in gross revenue by the lottery player making additional in-store purchases. Retailers also collect a commission from 4.5% to 6% on sales for California Lottery draw games.

Since 1985, the California Lottery says its retailers have collected more than $8.5 billion in commissions and bonuses.

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New York Yankees Have the Most Superstitious Fans in Baseball

Posted on: July 23, 2023, 09:17h. 

Last updated on: July 23, 2023, 09:17h.

The New York Yankees won more championships than any other team in the MLB with 27 World Series victories. It might be a surprise that the Yankee have the most superstitious fans in baseball. Some of their most iconic members of the Yankees also harbored their own odd rituals and superstitions.

The New York Yankees have some of the loudest and most devout fans in professional sports, but they’re also among the most superstitious in baseball. (Image: Getty)

Fans have an unusual connection to their teams, and some of them are so twisted that they think they can alter the outcome of a game by following a specific ritual, or repeating a behavior.

According to a recent survey conducted by, the Yankees have the most superstitious fans in baseball. The fervent fanbase is also the fourth most superstitious in major pro sports.

The Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Lakers are tied for the top rank with the most superstitious fans according to the survey. Those rabid fans are followed by the Green Bay Packers at #2 and the Pittsburgh Steelers at #3. The Yankees are currently #4 on the list, and the Bronx Bombers are just ahead of the Chicago Bears at #5.

Don’t Jinx the Pitcher

Many baseball players have their own superstitions and routines. For the last century, a teammate does not want to be the one who jinxes a no-hitter — and in rare instances a perfect game — by mentioning that a starting pitcher has yet to yield a hit. That’s why teammates will avoid a pitcher in the dugout in between innings during his no-hit bid.

Announcers will also shy away from uttering the words “no-hitter” during their broadcast to avoid invoking the ire of the fan base. Fans will also avoid verbalizing the act. Even though it’s absurd to think they actually control the outcome of the game, no one wants to feel like they jinxed their team and spoiled a no-hit bid.

This recently occurred when Yankees starting pitcher Domingo German tossed the 24th perfect game in MLB history. Superstitious teammates didn’t want to go near German in an attempt to avoid the jinx during his night of perfection against the Oakland A’s.

German told reporters that had been thinking about a perfect game during the entire game, but his teammates — especially his catcher Kyle Higashioka — did not broach the subject.

By the fourth inning, I thought Domingo could pull off a no-no,” admitted Higashioka. “Of course, I was not even going to bring it up. By the eighth inning, it gets a little stressful, but you have to stay focused.”

German not only threw a no-hitter, but he also he retired all 27 batters for a perfect game.

Sweat, Chicken, and Golden Thongs

Different members of the Yankees had their own rituals, routines, and superstitions over the years.

Orlando ‘El Duque’ Hernandez always avoided stepping on the foul lines when he pitched for the Yankees in the late 1990s. That’s a superstition that many players share, but El Duque was extremely vigilant about not stepping on the chalk on along the first or third baseline.

During home games at Yankee Stadium after he finished his warm up in the bullpen, pitcher Roger Clemens would always rub sweat from his forehead on Babe Ruth’s plaque in Monument Park. Clemens considered the sweat rub his good luck charm.

When five-time batting champion Wade Boggs joined the Yankees, he continued pregame ritual with a special meal, and it didn’t matter if it was a day game or a night game.

“In 1983, we ate chicken every day and I wound up winning a batting title in ’83,” explained Boggs.

Slugger Jason Giambi once wore a gold thong to snap a hitting slump in 1996. He shared his slump-busting technique with two teammates: Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon.

I was 0 for 32 and I hit a homer on the first pitch,” said Jeter. “That’s the only time I’ve worn them.”

Jeter also liked to rub the head of bench coach Don Zimmer for good luck. Before the Yankees would take the field, Zimmer would remove his cap and Jeter rubbed his head.

Personal Superstitions

Here is a quick disclaimer: I grew up in the Bronx and consider myself a die-hard Yankees fan. I tend to avoid superstitions because once you give in to one, then you become enslaved to it. However, when I left New York City, I developed some rituals in October to make me feel a little closer to home.

After I moved to Los Angeles, my routine during the playoffs involved New York-based foods. I ordered a pizza from Mulberry Street, owned by a NYC transplant, to put me in a New York mood.

If the Yankees win a playoff game, I will tend to repeat the same outfit until they lose. If the Yankees lose a playoff game, I will often retire the ensemble that I wore while watching the game. Some of my favorite hats were retired in this fashion.

The last time I banished an item occurred in the 2019 ALCS against the Houston Astros. Relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman gave up a walk-off home run to Jose Altuve from the Houston Astros. The Yankees were eliminated from the postseason in a brutal loss.

I had been wearing a branded hooded jersey that members of the Yankees wore during batting practice that season. I have not worn the hoodie since that heartbreaking night in 2019. It’s now buried on the bottom of a drawer because seeing the hoodie would conjure up an awful memory.

Superstitious Fans: Lucky Glasses, Muting Announcers

Fans have their own silly superstitions like wearing a favorite hat or jersey. Other superstitions involve food, drinks, seating assignments, and muting announcers. I asked my friends and family to share any of their unusual superstitions while rooting for the Bronx Bombers.

During the 1996 World Series, I was in law school in Miami and there were about six of us hardcore Yankee fans,” explained long-time fan Jerry Engel, an attorney based in Miami. “We met up each night, same house, same seats, drank same drinks.”

“In college, we used to drink rally beers when the Yanks were down, and we were waiting for starting pitching to get removed,” said Derek McGuire, an insurance underwriter and devout fan from the Bronx.

“We used specific and lucky glasses for beers during the playoffs,” said Will Lambert, a Yankees fan and environmental engineer from Denver. “We also toasted every Yankee home run.”

“Anytime the Yanks are ahead later in the game, and the announcers are about to say anything that assumes that they’ll win, I will mute the broadcast,” admitted Jay Sheer, a musician from Manhattan and long-time fan. “Don’t like counting chickens before they hatch.”

Despite all the superstitions, the Yankees have not won an AL pennant since 2009, which is also the last time they won a World Series.

The slumping Yankees are +2200 odds to win the 2023 World Series, and +1300 odds to win the AL pennant in October. Fans need to provide the Yankees with a spiritual boost by wearing their lucky hats and jerseys because the Yankees are -170 odds to miss the playoffs this year, according to a prop bet from DraftKings.

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Casino Crime Round Up: Gambling Addicted Minister Sentenced

Posted on: July 22, 2023, 01:38h. 

Last updated on: July 22, 2023, 01:40h.

A one-time pastor was sentenced this week to 18 months in prison for stealing about $130,000 from a New Hampshire church. Some of the loot was used to pay for his gambling debt with other money used for personal purchases.

Journey Baptist Church
Journey Baptist Church, pictured above. A one-time pastor was sentenced to prison after he stole money from the New Hampshire church to fund his gambling addiction. (Image: Journey Baptist Church)

Gregory Neal, 45, of Barrington, was sentenced in Concord, N.H. federal court on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

Under the sentence, he also must reimburse both the Journey Baptist Church and an insurance company. The insurer compensated the church for some of the missing funds.

In April, Neal pleaded guilty to wire fraud before U.S. District Court Judge Samantha Elliott.

Neal stole the money between January 2017 and March 2020, prosecutors said. The money was charged on church credit cards.

A defense attorney attempted to keep Neal out of prison. He wanted Neal to be sentenced to five years of probation.

That way Neal could earn money as a carpenter and could pay back the money and pay for family expenses, the defense requested.

“When the theft was uncovered, Mr. Neal confessed and tried to make amends,” according to a sentencing memorandum quoted by the AP.

He repaid several thousand dollars and, after being confronted by law enforcement, saved additional money to repay. He attended Gambler’s Anonymous meetings and started a new business, building kitchen islands, to support his family.”

But prosecutors sought more severe justice.

“A man who abused his position of trust — as a leader of his church — and stole from his congregation to support his gambling habit has been brought to justice,” New Hampshire U.S. Attorney Jane Young said in a statement.

He faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, as well as restitution of the money.

Louisiana Casino Blaze

Officials are investigating the cause of a Friday fire in Louisiana at St. Helena Parish’s Grand Paradise Casino.

The blaze broke out at about 5 p.m. at the small casino and truck stop. The fire was brought under control at about 7:30 p.m, according to a local news site, Unfiltered With Kiran.

Firefighters from several fire departments in the region responded and battled the blaze.

An initial investigation suggested the fire broke out from an incident involving an electrical panel.

The ongoing investigation is being handled by a local fire marshal’s office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

A local news report said damage to the complex was a “major loss.” No injuries were reported.

The property is located at the intersection of Highways 16 and 63.

Los Angeles Gambling Raid

Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers issued citations to more than 20 people in an illegal gambling raid on Friday.

The raid took place at about 1:30 p.m. on Vanowen Street in Los Angeles, according to Los Angeles TV station KCAL.

The detained individuals were lined up in front of the complex following the raid. Many were released from custody. Some were arrested due to pending warrants, KCAL reported.

The operation was located in the Reseda neighborhood.

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Hoiana Casino Operations in Vietnam Acquired by Chow Tai Fook

Posted on: July 21, 2023, 04:46h. 

Last updated on: July 21, 2023, 04:52h.

The operations of the Hoiana casino have reportedly been taken over by Chow Tai Fook, one of the property’s developers and owners, from a group previously run by jailed former Macau junket kingpin Alvin Chau.

Hoiana Vietnam casino Cow Tai Fook
Vietnam’s Hoiana resort and casino in Quang Nam. The casino’s operations are reportedly now being run by Hong Kong’s Chow Tai Fook. (Image: Hoiana)

Hoiana opened in 2021. A joint venture between Chow Tai Fook, Vietnamese private equity firm VinaCapital, and Suncity Group, the multibillion-dollar complex was billed as the first integrated resort to be operated by Suncity.

Chau, the former face of the junket industry in Macau became a billionaire by catering to the richest gamblers in Asia — mainly in China — and bringing them to Macau to gamble in private high-roller rooms. Chau formed Suncity in 2007.

As China cracked down on such junket operators due to concerns they were helping the mainland’s wealthiest people move their money out from the Communist Party’s oversight through the tax haven of Macau, law enforcement discovered that Chau’s business wasn’t exactly on the up and up. Following a trial in which he was found guilty of fraud, facilitating illegal gambling, and criminal association, Chau in January was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Casino Finds New Management

Hoiana was supposed to be Suncity and Chau’s go-to destination in Vietnam to bring high rollers from across Southeast Asia to gamble. Following Chau’s arrest and prosecution, the resort’s ownership group sought to distance itself from the Macau gambling tycoon.

Bloomberg reported this week that Chow Tai Fook, a Chinese conglomerate with holdings in jewelry, real estate, and hospitality, recently assumed control of the casino’s operations from Suncity. Andrew Lo last year acquired Suncity and renamed the organization LET Group. Neither company released a statement on the management change, and the terms of the decision were not immediately known.

Hoiana features more than 1,000 guestrooms, suites, and villas across several hotel brands, including Chow’s New World and a forthcoming Rosewood hotel. Chow owns the ultra-luxury Rosewood Hotel Group. Hoiana also features 270 privately owned residences.

As for the resort’s casino, the gaming floor features about 350 slot machines and more than 140 table games. Unlike in the US where slots are king, casinos in Asia are more centered around table games, specifically baccarat, the game of choice among whales.

The integrated resort additionally offers an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., luxury shopping, a health club, an infinity pool on the resort’s 16th floor, and a beach. As for gastronomy, the integrated resort allows guests to dine around the world with 15 full-service restaurants and bars.

Junkets Seek Markets

With Macau’s junket industry all but dead after Suncity competitors fled the Chinese enclave following Chau’s 2021 arrest, VIP organizers are looking for new markets. Vietnam is considered a favorite, as the country currently has rather lax laws on junkets.

Chow Tai Fook is betting big on gaming, as the company has amassed a major stake in Star Entertainment and is helping the Australian casino operator finance its $3.6 billion casino resort project in Brisbane. Chow has also helped bankroll Star’s two fines costing more than $135 million after the Queensland and New South Wales governments concluded that the casino group regularly violated gaming laws and regulations.

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Atlantic City Casino Union Boss Likens Smoking Ban to ‘Suicide’

Posted on: July 21, 2023, 03:36h. 

Last updated on: July 21, 2023, 04:45h.

Newly implemented Atlantic City casino union leader Donna DeCaprio ruffled some feathers during her first week on the job after she was questioned about the ongoing permittance of indoor smoking at the nine resorts.

Atlantic City casino smoking Donna DeCaprio
Unite Here Local 54 President Donna DeCaprio doesn’t think eliminating smoking at the nine Atlantic City casinos makes smart business sense. But casino workers say their health is a risk. (Image: AP)

DeCaprio took the reins of Unite Here Local 54, the labor union that represents approximately 10K nongaming workers at the city’s nine casinos, on Wednesday. She will oversee the trade group that negotiates pay structures for a variety of careers, including housekeepers, cooks, waiters, bartenders, bellmen, and porters.

She replaced Bob McDevitt, who served in the role for more than 25 years. While DeCaprio won’t need to negotiate new collective bargaining agreements for at least another three years, her tenure begins with a pressing issue that needs to be addressed: indoor cigarette smoking on sections of the gaming floors.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would extinguish the casino smoking exemption provided to Atlantic City casinos through the state’s 2006 Smoke-Free Air Act. Assembly Bill 2151 and Senate Bill 264 are legislative clones that each seek to mandate casinos go entirely smoke-free.

Under current law, casinos in Atlantic City can designate up to 25% of their floor space for smoking.

‘Suicide Pact’

During an interview this week with the Associated Press, DeCaprio was asked where she stands on the smoking dilemma. She expressed a similar view to McDevitt, who argued that a smoking ban would result in a 25% reduction in annual gross gaming revenue.

DeCaprio opined that because of Atlantic City’s proximity to Philadelphia where casinos also permit indoor smoking in designated areas, a smoking ban down the shore “would be a suicide pact.”

A study last year commissioned by the Casino Association of New Jersey (CANJ) conducted by Pennsylvania-based gaming consultancy Spectrum Gaming Group concluded that a smoking ban would result in up to 2,500 job losses at the nine Atlantic City casinos. The review additionally forecast that annual GGR would decline nearly 11% in the first year after the casinos would be forced to go smoke-free.

While that would be bad for the resorts and their workers, the state would also lose out on up to $44 million a year in reduced taxes.

Anti-Smoking Group Responds

CEASE, Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects, came out arms swinging to DeCaprio likening a smoking ban to suicide.

Indoor smoking is slowly killing us every day. Between Donna DeCaprio’s insulting description of critical legislation to close the casino smoking loophole, her parroting of long-ago debunked industry talking points on ventilation systems, and her false suggestion of a compromise that is nothing but the status quo, it’s clear that the new Local 54 president is very much unaware of the circumstances we deal with at our workplaces every day,” a CEASE statement to read. “Just like her predecessor, DeCaprio is carrying the water of casino executives and Big Tobacco, spewing false statements that are anti-worker.”

It’s unclear why the two pieces of legislation, both of which have adequate support to pass by way of co-sponsors, have been stalled by Legislature leaders in the Democratic-controlled government. The likely culprit is that all 120 seats are up for election this November.

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Las Vegas Icon Tony Bennett Dies at 96 –

Posted on: July 21, 2023, 12:28h. 

Last updated on: July 21, 2023, 01:55h.

Tony Bennett, the masterful crooner, and interpreter of American standards, died Friday at age 96. Though no cause of death was released, his family publicly revealed his struggle with Alzheimer’s disease in 2021.

Tony Bennett poses for a postcard announcing his engagement at the Dunes in 1962. (Image: Vintage Las Vegas)

In having to share Bennett, Las Vegas comes in a distant third after New York and San Francisco if only because of, you know, that song. However, the standard-keeper of classic cool performed on the Strip hundreds more times than he did anywhere else, beginning in 1952 at El Rancho Vegas, where he was double-billed with dancer Samia Gamal, up through his engagement at the Venetian Theater on Sept. 25, 27, and 28, 2019.

Probably Bennett’s most notable Las Vegas engagement was the 1964 residency, at the Copa Room, that resulted in his 1964 album “Tony Bennett – Live at the Sahara.”

Rags to Riches

Tony Bennett performs on stage at the Sahara in 1957. (Image: EPA)

Bennett was born Anthony Dominick Benedetto on Aug. 3, 1926, the son of Italian immigrants who worked as a grocer and seamstress in New York City. John Benedetto died when Anthony was 10, leaving his mother to raise three children.

Bennett grew up listening to Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Judy Garland, and Bing Crosby, and began his career as a similar interpreter of pop tunes.

Comedian Bob Hope discovered Bennett in a Greenwich Village nightclub in 1949 and invited the singer to tour with him, but only if he changed his name to Tony Bennett, which he agreed to.

Bennett was snatched up by Columbia Records, which released his first hit, “Because of You.” The ballad topped the pop charts and stayed there for 10 weeks in 1951. This was followed to the top of the charts later that year by a similarly styled rendition of Hank Williams’s “Cold, Cold Heart.”

In 1962, Bennett recorded his career-spanning signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” It was a decade-old, little-known ditty originally written for an opera singer. From there, he went on to win 20 Grammy Awards and sell more than 50 million records worldwide.

Bennett poses on stage with Frank Sinatra in Reno in the ’70s. (Image: Getty)


“For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business,” Frank Sinatra told Life magazine in 1965. “He excites me when I watch him. He moves me. He’s the singer who gets across what the composer has in mind, and probably a little more.”

Though he often performed and recorded with  Sinatra and Dean Martin, Bennett was never a member of the Rat Pack, both because he never ran with their Hollywood crowd, but also because he stood tall on his own pedestal.

Also like Sinatra, Bennett reportedly had his own entanglement with the Las Vegas mob and, if Bennett biographer David Evanier is to be believed, he was lucky to make it out of his 50s.

In a 2012 interview, the author told the New York Daily News that Bennett unknowingly dated the girlfriend of Anthony “Tony the Ant” Spilotro in 1979. The singer was going through a rough patch in both his career and personal life at the time, according to Evanier, and was separated from his second wife, Sandra Grant.

Spilotro, who was the high-ranking member of the Chicago outfit who inspired Joe Pesci’s vicious character in “Casino” and was suspected by the FBI of being involved in 22-25 murders, grabbed a telephone book and slammed Bennett upside his head with it, “laying him out,” according to Evanier.

The incident most likely took place while Bennett performed with Lena Horne at the Sahara. It didn’t appear in Evanier’s 2011 unauthorized biography, “All the Things You Are: The Life of Tony Bennett,” because the author didn’t learn about it until after the book’s publication.

Bennett continued his singing career into his 90s, only until Alzheimer’s disease refused to let him. (Image: The Publicity Lab)


After a near-fatal cocaine overdose in 1979, Bennett entered rehab. Then he asked his sons, Danny and Dae, for some career rehab. Danny, an aspiring musician himself, came to a realization: he had the head for business that his dad didn’t.

Danny became his father’s manager, got his expenses under control, and moved him from Vegas back to New York to begin remaking his image.

Thanks to Danny, Bennett staged a comeback in the late 1980s that lasted the rest of his life. While keeping his musical style intact, he reached out to younger generations by dueting with singers such as Carrie Underwood, Amy Winehouse and, most notably, Lady Gaga, who first appeared with Bennett on his 2011 album, “Duets II.”

Bennett’s final performances were a pair of concerts he staged with Gaga at New York’s Radio City Music Hall in 2021.

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