Gambling expo action in the industry is coming very fast these days. As soon as we finished with the Caribbean Gaming Show 2014 in Puerto Rico in March, we find ourselves today, April 24, closing this edition in Bogota during FADJA 2014, a vibrant and very productive Show. And as if this was not sufficient, on May 7 & 8 we will be in Panama for the SAGSE 2014 event.
But we mustn’t grumble, because as the only global gaming magazine that covers all the world gaming expos we just have to continue to bring you everything that happens in the industry, both in these pages and in our sister title, Casino International Americano in Spanish, the language of Cervantes and Gabriel García Márquez, who recently passed away to take his place in Literature’s Olympus but leaves us with a wonderful legacy of some of the finest literature from our beloved Latin America.
On more mundane matters, however, we have a scoop that tells of Colombia’s gaming regulator Coljuegos declaring the winner of the tender for Paramutual Sports Betting, naming the company less fancied in the 2-horse race as the winner. At least that hot gossip item ran like wildfire in Bogota yesterday, April 23, after the first day of FADJA.

CHILE - SCJ announces four casino projects
At the same time that Chile’s regulators, Superintendence of Casinos, announced its selection of the four casino projects that go forward towards obtaining the last casino licence available in Proceso 2014, it also announced that three of these projects are for the city of Chillán – which hosted the last casino – and the remaining project is for the region of Arica. These are as follows:
Casino Luckia Arica S.A. (Corporación Empresarial EGASA S.L.): A casino with 350 slot machines, 12 tables games and 60 bingo places in an integrated resort with an 80 rooms 5-star Hotel, restaurants, bars, cafeteria, lounges, conference halls for events or shows, spa-gym, pools, Convention Centre, business centre, Craft Centre, exhibition hall, beauty parlour, underground parking, etc. The project includes the creation of 306 direct jobs, and has an investment of US$40.3 million.
Marina del Sol Chillán S.A. (inversiones Lomas de San Andrés Ltda. - Inversiones Ltda. Valmar - Clairvest Chile Ltda.): A casino with 450 slot machines, 20 gaming tables and 68 bingo places in an integrated resort with a 100 rooms 5-star Hotel, restaurants, bars, cafeterias and lounges, concert halls for events or shows, spa-gym, swimming pool, Convention Centre, Business Centre, Sports Centre, amphitheatre, shops, tourist information, craft centre, kiddies playing area, urban parks, Museum, Planetarium, water park, etc. The project considers the creation of 575 jobs and an investment of US$56.3 million.
Chillán Casino Resort S.A. (Invergaming Chile SpA - Boldt Chile SpA). A casino game with 400 gaming machines, 20 gaming tables, 60 bingo places in an integrated resort with an 86-rooms 5-Star Hotel, restaurants, bars, cafés, lounge, events or shows hall, disco, spa-gym, swimming pools, business centre, sports centre, amphitheatre, tourist information centre, Craft Centre, children’s play area, urban parks, Museum, art gallery, audio-visual room, music room, library, Observatory, etc. The project considers the creation of 346 direct jobs and an investment of US US$54.1 million.
Casino games Chillán S.A. (Claudio Tessada - Jaime Wilhelm). A casino with 500 slot machines, 20 gaming tables and 40 bingo positions in an integrated resort with a 104-rooms 5-star Hotel, restaurants, bars, cafeteria and lounge, events or concert halls, spa-gym, pools, Convention Centre, business centre, Amphitheatre, commercial centre, tourist information, craft centre, Exhibition Centre, kiddies play area, urban park, Museum, theatre, multimedia room, etc. The project considers the creation of 705 direct jobs and an investment of US$87.3 million.

BELIZE - Grand Belize Casino Hotel to open in Santa Elena
The Grand Belize Entertainment Group has been granted a gaming license and secured the location to operate the former Golden Princess Casino in Santa Elena, Belize. Grand Belize Casino Hotel plans to operate approximately 500 slot machines, 20 table games, a brand new 50-room hotel, over 20,000 square feet of events space, and multiple first class food & beverage offerings.
The location where the Grand Belize Casino Hotel is sited sees over one million visitors per year and is known for its popular duty-free shopping.
Michael Glauser, chief operating officer of The Grand Belize Entertainment Group, said, “We are excited to step in and operate in this location. Although there are still plans for a larger casino resort, opening in this current location allows the Grand Belize brand to place a foothold in the market. We look forward to making a positive impact on the local community, as well as Belize as a whole.”
The Casino Hotel will be co-branded with The Grand Belize Interactive division’s Online Casino. Guests will be able to redeem rewards and promotions at Grand Belize Casino Hotel and through Grand Belize’s Online Casino.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Hard Rock has one of the six best Caribbean casinos
Congratulations to the Hard Rock Punta Cana, one of only six casinos picked by USA Today as the best Caribbean casinos in the article ‘Game on: Caribbean casinos are hot’. The Dominican Republic has the largest number of casinos in the Caribbean and the Seminole Tribe of Florida opened its Hard Rock casino there in 2011, transforming the former Moon Palace Resort into a mega playground for gamblers and vacationers alike.
The Hard Rock Punta Cana casino is huge, covering 45,000 square feet. Since May 2012 it has been overseen by Jess Chavez-Munoz, casino general manager. According to USA Today, the gaming floor now ‘exudes a cool, sophisticated vibe well suited to the well-heeled patrons of Punta Cana’.
The other ‘best Caribbean casinos’ are: Atlantis, Nassau, The Bahamas; Stellaris Casino, Aruba; Casino Royale, Maho, St Maarten; Alhambra, Aruba; and El San Juan, San Juan, Puerto Rico. However from December 2014 there will be a new contender - the Baha Mar, also in Nassau, The Bahamas. This US$3.5 billion resort, developed with Chinese financial support, will offer the region’s largest casino floor at some 100,000 square feet. It may become the largest gambling Caribbean mecca but whether it will offer its patrons the great ambience and sheer excitement generated by the Hard Rock Punta Cana remains to be seen.

PERU - Industry leaders at Peruvian expo and Conference in June
Joe Lopez, CEO of Affiliated Marketing Group, organizers of The Peru Gaming Show 12th Edition to be held at The Jockey Exhibition Center in Lima, Peru on June 11th and 12th said: “PGS is shaping up to be better than ever.”
He added “Along with the returning industry leaders who have always supported us such as Bally, WMS, Merkur, Novomatic, Aristocrat, Konami, Spielo, Ainsworth, Casino Technology, DLV, Feral Electronics, Heal Technology, Gold Club and Odrex we are attracting many new exhibitors this year who see the potential of the Latin American market. Among them we welcome Baum Gaming, Zitro, Meridian Gaming, Casinos Foster, Win Systems, Bet Construct, Patir Design and Tom Horn, amongst several others. Please visit our web site at for a complete listing of all the exhibitors registered to date.
“Our International Gaming Conference scheduled for the mornings of the 11th and 12th from 11:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M are also attracting a lot of attention. We have expert speakers covering topics of high interest to casino and slot room operators such as Customer Service, Marketing, On Line Gaming, Economic Overview of Latin America, Security, and Gaming Taxes and of course we will hear from our Director of Gaming Manuel San Roman, who always has interesting information to share.
“Our now famous opening night party to be held immediately following the show at 8:00 P.M. on the evening of the 11th is also en event everyone is looking forward to. We have booked the famous 12 piece orchestra of Fallo Muñoz for live entertainment and your dancing pleasure. The party will begin with the Miss Gaming Beauty Pageant and will have 4 open bars and Hors de Oeuvres”.

As the world watches the standoff between Russia and Ukraine, plans move ahead to establish a gambling zone on the annexed peninsula of Crimea. Russia is not wasting any time to proclaim dominance over the territory with a casino destination set to become a vibrant tourist hotspot.
The idea won swift support from Russian President Vladimir Putin and a draft bill has already made its way to the State Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament. Terms of the bill outline Russia’s fifth special economic zone, with the size and location to be determined by the new Crimean government. Under Russian law, gambling zones cannot be built on government funds; so special tax incentives and favourable business conditions will be used to lure investors.
Crimea is expected to run a deficit of 55 billion rubles (US $1.5bn) this year and could receive $2.8bn in emergency subsidies, which Moscow has said it will cover. However, that obligation comes during an economic downturn in Russia and as the country faces a myriad of Western sanctions. A new gaming sector would be part of an overall economic stimulus plan intended to boost tourism in the region, create new jobs and fuel the local economy.
“As a result of entering Russia, not a single citizen of Crimea should lose anything, they need only to benefit from it,” declared Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who is urging Russian state companies, ministries and private corporations to send their employees to the peninsula for holidays at subsidised airfares. “Citizens need to understand that they’re citizens of a powerful country.”
Crimean authorities proposed the idea originally and are convinced of its commercial success. Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov recently expressed his support, professing, “Crimea should have a gambling zone. Now we are looking for a place for it.” Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliev told local news agencies that Crimea “stands a good chance of becoming a competitor to such sophisticated territories as Macau, Monaco and Las Vegas.”
At first it was proposed that designated gambling zones should be limited to areas close to 5-star hotels in the city of Sevastopol. However, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak believes the zones should be in less densely populated areas and segregated from established resorts. Kozak, who has been tasked by the Russian government to turn Crimea into a special economic zone, also assured that the sector would obey Russia’s current gambling zone laws.
If approved, the plan could come into effect rapidly as Russia looks to assert its power on the international stage. Since Russia and Ukraine outlawed casinos in 2009, an influx of illegal casinos throughout both nations is proof of a potentially substantial market. In fact, the major reason behind closing Russian casinos was that gambling started to spread like wildfire after the collapse of communism.
Russia has setup four designated gambling zones in Krasnodar, Kaliningrad, Altay and Primorsky, however only Azov City, in the coastal Krasnodar region, has opened casinos. The zone’s three casinos brought in 120 million rubles (US $3.9m) in taxes last year and are seeing annual turnover increases of around 30pc. Due to the sheer size of Russia, it is hoped that Crimea would not act as direct competition, but instead bring the gambling spotlight back to the nation.
While the other zones were essentially built from scratch, Crimea is already a popular destination amongst tourists from central parts of Russia. The region has several air- and sea- ports and according to the Regional Development Ministry, hosted about 3 million visitors annually prior to the Russian annexation. The Ministry predicts a casino hub would attract another 600,000 tourists each year and add over 1 billion rubles (US $28m) to state coffers.
Until Ukraine followed Russia’s lead to ban gambling five years ago, effectively making casinos illegal overnight, Crimea contained a fruitful gaming market with more than 250 venues. Crimean authorities had since contemplated reintroducing casinos in the peninsula and submitted a bill to the Ukrainian parliament in 2011, which was overlooked by lawmakers.
But new facilities in the peninsula are not expected to generate an instant windfall, as major infrastructure and transportation links are needed. Two motorways currently exist between Crimea and Ukraine, and Putin has commissioned a new bridge built from Russia. Nestled between the two countries on the northern coast of the Black Sea, Crimea is heavily dependent on tourism and will require time to become a globally recognised gambling region.
Time is also needed for conditions to stabilise before casino developers risk investment. While local Parliament has declared the territory part of Russia and some 95.5pc of Crimean voters have supported joining Russia, the Ukraine, EU, UN and US have all declared the referendum invalid. But as the Crimean spotlight dims, Russia keeps hold of the territory and continues its development plan.

With the recent growth in interest for Vikings it comes as no surprise that we now also see a casino brand taking the Viking route. Viking Slots takes their Viking themed casino to a totally different level compared to the existing casinos with a hint of a Viking theme.
The whole website is based around a Viking theme, and you will have no doubt that you have come to home of Vikings when you visit Viking Slots. The themed background and artwork provide a unique and rugged atmosphere that goes much further than you have seen any casino do with a Viking theme. The little details match the theme, and you expect that it might actually be Brunhilda that is replying to your enquiry.
Viking Slots also features a blog, where you are able to learn a lot more about the Vikings and particularly how they liked to gamble. It is no surprise that the tricky Norse god Loke is a big part of that section. The brand definitely offers everything to prepare you to go pillage the site.
The game selection includes - true to the brand name - a vast selection of slots but the brand also offers casino games, scratch cards and other instant win games. All scratch cards, instant win games and many slots have a jackpot prize of £/€200,000 but a few include jackpots worth £/€1,000,000.
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The game selection at Viking Slots is delivered by multiple game developers and you will find a lot of well known games from the popular game providers Net Entertainment, NeoGames and Microgaming.

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March was a tough month for gaming operators in regards to development of the UK market. The revision to UK Gambling legislation passed through its Third Reading in the House of Lords on the 18th March and this was swiftly followed (the next day) by changes in tax levies announced in the Chancellor’s Budget Statement.
Critically, the Budget introduced a new higher tax rate for revenues accrued through FOBTs - the 25% rate being much higher than expected. This, in itself, is expected to cost the betting industry an additional £335m in levies in the UK over the next five years. This was accompanied by an increase in the horse racing levy for those organisations based off-shore (eg Hills, Coral, Ladbrokes and others) and a tax rate of 15%, taking effect from December 1, was set for online gaming. The Budget changes will have a significant impact especially when considered in relation to the changes affecting tax and promotions that are part of the Gambling Act amendments.
Gambling operators have been watching with interest the progress of proposed revision to UK gambling legislation through its Third Reading in the House of Lords last month. Debate around the propositions contained within the Gambling Bill has already seen some operators indicate they could step back from the UK market because of the impact it would have on tax regulation of gambling revenues and advertising practices for operators’ advertising and marketing in the UK.
The changes proposed will have an impact on the commercial viability of the operations of some gaming operators. Indeed some of the major players in the industry have already flagged that these changes will require commercial restructuring - e.g. Paddy Power said it will cut its marketing costs and seek to restructure revenue share deals with affiliates and partners as a means of mitigating the impact of the change. William Hill has also stated that it will be seeking to cut costs to the tune of £15-20m.
The main principles of the Bill’s proposed revisions to the Gambling Act are designed, it is argued, to ensure greater protection for UK users of remote gambling services. The Bill, if (and when) enacted will ensure that operators of remote gambling are regulated at a point of consumption rather than the point of origin of the remote service; that operators providing gambling in the UK hold a UK Gambling Commission LIcence; that to advertise gambling services in the UK for UK players will require a UK licence; that there will be stricter interpretations of where and when gambling services may be advertised; that remote gambling operators must report any suspicious betting patterns involving British customers; and that there will be operator contributions required towards research and education on gambling addiction.
The amendment with, possibly, the most impact and certainly the one with most publicity has been the proposed introduction of a ‘point of consumption’ tax (PoC). However, following the consultation process, this PoC tax will, in effect, be more of a ‘point of residence’ tax, because the challenges of ascertaining and maintaining customer location records across all bet/spin activity have been deemed too difficult to implement. If through its reasonable efforts the gambling operator can determine the customer’s usual place of residence as the UK, the tax will apply to all gambling revenues generated by that customer.
Aside from the PoC tax changes, the other main contention impact may be on the advertising of gambling services. As the next UK general election hoves into view (in the next 12 months) there is much focus on matters deemed to be of ‘public concern’. The advertising of gambling (especially remote gambling) will be affected by this focus and the Bill. There is expected to be a bar on advertising gambling services on TV before the ‘watershed’ (9pm). This will significantly impact advertising and brand sponsorship of TV programmes around sporting events, especially (in the UK) football. It will also restrict the available time slots for advertising gambling services and so, likely, push up advertising costs.
In terms of customer impact, it’s reasonable to assume that there will be decreased competition (usually considered to be a bad thing for customers). There may well be a change in the level of Return-To-Player rates as gaming operators look to ensure that their services are profitable within the ‘new’ tax regime. There might also, longer-term, be less innovation as fewer operators and new entrants are in the market and research and development offers less in the way of profit-opportunity.
The value of this change in tax regulation would seem likely to have little positive impact on the UK’s current gaming players. The impact will be on operators who have notable numbers of players residing in the UK. There are examples of operators already stating a willingness to take a step back from the UK market.
As such, the £300m+ in tax revenue estimated by The Treasury may not be fulfilled as operators and players reduce their activity and touch with the UK’s online gaming market.
Mark Gibson is a specialist in mobile communications and mobile’s convergence and relationship with other ‘new media’. His focus is on devising and bringing to market interactive, accessible applications that deliver customer-focused solutions across the mobile, social and digital environment. Mark is also Chair of the AIME Mobile Betting Gaming Forum, a working group designed to discuss and represent the mobile gaming industry and further the cause and reach of mobile gaming.
mkodo provides practical and creative solutions in all aspects of mobile. mkodo has been enabling clients to develop their mobile interactivity since 2001.