Archive for February, 2007

Ladbrokes may unveil casino plan

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007


LONDON (Reuters) – Ladbrokes could announce an interest in running Britain’s first Las Vegas-style supercasino when it unveils its 2006 results this week, an industry source said on Monday.

Last month, Manchester was the surprise winner of a competition to host the supercasino, which although small by Las Vegas standards, is likely to be huge in UK terms, with 5,000 square metres of gaming space, 1,250 slot machines and 2,700 workers.

“One of the reasons Ladbrokes took full ownership of the Paddington casino earlier this year was to get operationally ready for the new licences,” said the source, referring to Ladbrokes’ first recent casino venture, adding that nothing was certain until the government has clarified bidding criteria.

The group is also likely to broadly outline plans for 16 other casino licences the government will soon make available, said the source. Ladbrokes declined to comment.

Profit before tax for 2006 will be between 235 million pounds and 240 million, according to a company poll of 10 investment banks.

Analysts at Numis Securities said the shares could be buoyed by any news of Ladbrokes’ expansion plans in Italy and Spain and details of either a deal to buy online gaming group 888 or of a return of cash to shareholders.

Ladbrokes said in November it was considering a bid for, and last week 888 Chief Executive Gigi Levy told Reuters there was “desire on both sides to continue talks”.

Ladbrokes could be the only UK company bidding for the licence to run the Manchester supercasino, after privately owned Gala Coral ruled itself out this month, and with Rank keeping its plans secret.

Former UK rivals London Clubs and Stanley Leisure are now under foreign ownership, having last year been bought by Harrah’s and Genting respectively.

Harrah’s, the world’s largest casino operator, does plan to bid for the Manchester licence, a source said on Friday. So too does its close rival Las Vegas Sands. But like Rank, Genting is keeping its cards close to its chest.

Related LinksLadbrokes Online Casino / Ladbrokes Online Poker / Ladbrokes Online Sportsbook /

Nine Mecca Bingo clubs to close

Saturday, February 17th, 2007


Gaming company Rank Group PLC has announced plans to close down nine of its Mecca Bingo clubs as part of their strategy to “improve the quality of its clubs portfolio in preparation for the introduction this year of smoking bans in England and Wales’.

The nine clubs affected are in Fulham, Islington, Kingston-upon Hull, Liverpool, Reading, Sheffield, Swansea, Welling and Wolverhampton. Rank owns the freeholds of five of the clubs and said some of these would be sold. The remaining clubs are on a leasehold basis.

However, Rank believes that the close proximity of other Mecca Bingo clubs to these locations will ensure that the closures do not have a material effect on its profits in 2007.

Despite the closures, Rank will still remain the UK’s second largest bingo operator will 103 Mecca Bingo clubs throughout England, Wales and Scotland.

‘A number of the freehold properties will be sold, crystallising value and allowing Rank to redeploy capital into assets with potential for higher growth and stronger returns,’ Rank said.

Up to 230 jobs will be lost as part of the closures but Rank announced that those employees will be offered other positions in the company ‘where practicable’.

A smoking ban in bingo clubs was introduced last year and caused drastic falls in profitability and revenues for many bingo clubs. According to Neil Goulden, chief executive of the UK’s biggest bingo operator Gala, 46 per cent of bingo players smoked, illustrating the threat that the impending ban presents.

From – Mecca Bingo Online review /

12 of the World’s Best Take Part in Premier League Poker

Saturday, February 17th, 2007


GIBRALTAR, February 15 /PRNewswire/ — is pleased to announce the launch of the Premier League Poker, a new televised poker spectacle.

The groundbreaking series, developed by Matchroom Sport, will feature 12 of the world’s best players playing in a unique league format for a US$500,000 pot.

With a system developed especially to showcase the legendary poker prowess of each player, they will play six times in the preliminary stages. The leading four players will then progress to the final table with the next four battling it out in heads-up matches for the final two seats. Each player will buy-in for US$20,000, with adding US$260,000 to the final table prize pool.

Ten-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth will lead a top field that includes: Dave ‘The Devilfish’ Ulliott, Tony G, Andy Black, Kiril Gerasimov, Liz Lieu, Ian Fraser, Roland De Wolfe, Vicky Coren, Juha Helppi, Kenna James and Eddy Scharf.

Poker superstar Phil Hellmuth commented: “I love the UK and feel at home there, so I am really looking forward to Premier League Poker. It’s always challenging to match wits with the world’s best poker players but I’m coming for the title – make no mistake about that!”

A spokesman said “Premier League Poker is an exciting new concept and is sure to make great television. The interest from pros on both sides of the Atlantic has been excellent.”

The league launches on 26th February in Maidstone, Kent, UK. is a popular member of PartyGaming Plc’s growing suite of online games that includes,,, and

Casino-on-Net 888 Still in Talks with Ladbrokes

Saturday, February 17th, 2007


Online gambling company 888 PLC reported better-than-expected trading since withdrawing from the US market, but there was no further update on a possible takeover by Ladbrokes.888 PLC, parent company of Casino-on-Net, released an update on performance results this week, reporting that revenue from countries outside the US rose 12%. Revenue across the group increased by 7% in 2006, despite the US shutdown. Net gaming revenue for the year reached $290 million compared with $271 million in 2005.

Like other online gambling firms, the new priority for 888 will be to diversify geographically in the way of the UIGEA, a US law which seeks to ban online financial transaction with online gambling companies.

888 now has 3.6 million customers and is still in discussions with Ladbrokes about a possible merger. The two companies have been in dialogue over the potential deal since early November, but a well-placed source told AFX News investors should not read too much into the length of time being taken. The source said the time taken reflects due diligence and the assessment of legal risks associated with the potential takeover. Ladbrokes is understood to be looking at ways to protect itself from any possible future criminal liabilities if it acquires 888.

If Ladbrokes passes on the opportunity, there will be several other parties interested in the business. PartyGaming has previously been linked with 888.888 has recently embraced the mobile gambling revolution, introducing the ‘mobile casino’, which enables gamblers to play Blackjack, Slots and Roulette on their mobile phones and PCs with the one account. The software is compatible with almost 85% of the European market.

888 is trading at 109p, but broker Numis reiterated its ‘buy’ recommendation and 148p target price, noting 2006 revenues were ahead of its forecast and saying trading in 2007 is above expectations.

‘We continue to view as the way to play the online gaming sector as the group has a robust balance sheet with 117 mln usd of net cash at the end of 2006, has a sizeable UK business with approximately 45-50 pct of the net gaming revenue, and is an attractive bid target,’ the broker said.

Related – Casino-on-Net Review / Ladbrokes Casino Review /

Harrah’s eyeing UK’s first “supercasino”-source

Saturday, February 17th, 2007


LONDON, Feb 16 (Reuters) – The world’s biggest casino operator Harrah’s Entertainment would like to run Britain’s first Las Vegas-style casino in Manchester, but is wary of the “winner’s curse”, a company source said on Friday.

Last month, Manchester was the surprise winner of a competition to host the “supercasino”, which although small by Las Vegas standards, is likely to be huge in UK terms, with 5,000 square metres of gaming space, 1,250 slot machines and 2,700 workers.

The winner is also expected to help with local regeneration projects.

“Harrah’s would like to run the regional casino, but it has to make economic sense,” said the source.

“Let’s not get carried away with plans for new convention centres, motorways and airport terminals — or the winner could end up with a winner’s curse.

“The business plan has to work, but Manchester Council is very business savvy and will hopefully know how to weigh this up.”

Harrah’s rival Las Vegas Sands says it would also like to build a $760 million casino resort in Manchester, while industry sources say Bahamas-based operator Kerzner International hopes to invest $500 million there.

But the Harrah’s source said it was too early to come up with sensible numbers.

Last December, Harrah’s completed its $530 million acquisition of London Clubs International, gaining a foothold in Europe which it aims to expand.

“Caesars in Spain should open in 2009, and Harrah’s is looking to expand elsewhere in Europe — that was the reason for buying London Clubs,” said the source.

Apart from the regional “supercasino”, Britain also plans sixteen smaller casinos — eight with 150 slot machines each and eight with 80 each. “We’ll look at those and most likely bid for all of them, but only once we know more about the process,” said the source. “Bath, with its Regency background, looks interesting and the kind of venue we’re good at.”

“We’re in all spectrums of the market, from Fifty at the top end to mid-tier casinos like Leicester Square, which will open at the end of April or in the first week of May.”

Other likely bidders as Britain opens its casino industry are Malaysia’s Genting, Britain’s Rank and Ladbrokes .

From / Casino Britain / Poker Britain / Blackjack Britain /