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Around the World - April 1998

ASIAN TOURIST BOOST

It is now estimated that Asian visitors are providing half the revenue for Australian casinos.

Although it has long been recognised that the Asian element has played a major part in the country’s casino boom (the number of venues has risen from just one to 14 in 20 years), operators have commented that the numbers have taken a steep rise recently.

This appears to be partly down to increasing prosperity in many Asian countries and also to the fact that gang violence in Macau has led to many Asians looking for a change of venue.

Whatever the reason, it is estimated that an average 45,000 Asian visitors, the majority of them tourists, play in Australian casinos each day. While all 14 casinos have a healthy Asian attendance, it is widely thought that three or four of the major venues rely particularly heavily on such customers.

And the boom continues apace. Although profits can only be guessed at because most Australian casinos are privately owned, it is estimated that total revenues topped A$1 bn (US$0.7bn) last year. That figure is expected to double by the year 2000.

POLITICAL CLUBS

The booming club industry in New South Wales, Australia, is aiming for a voice in the state parliament and has formed its own political party, the Registered Clubs Party (RCP) to contest seats at the next state election, due to be held on March 27, 1999.

The party’s formation comes in retaliation against NSW Treasurer Michael Egan’s recently announced 30 percent tax increase on gaming machine profits. Nor is the formation of the RCP an empty gesture. The state’s 1,500 clubs have a joint membership of almost three million: the total population of Australia is currently less than 19 million.

Jim Henry, President of the Club Managers Association, has taken the post of RCP secretary. According to party spokesperson Sandra Ward, however, the RCP should not be considered as aligned with either the CMA or the Registered Clubs Association, although it draws its membership from the ranks of both associations.

EGI SETS UP EUROPEAN STUDY

The European Gaming Institute, in conjunction with the Netherlands Institute for Public Opinion and Market Research (NIPO), is preparing a study of the European gaming market.

The objective of the study, which will be repeated annually, is to compile a report on the gaming behaviour of European residents. The report will be designed to show what kind of games people play, where they go to do so and how much they spend on them.

"The gaming market in Europe is huge, but its size is hidden by national boundaries," said EGI Managing Director Bernard Polders.

"For that reason we tend to be impressed by US figures.

"In fact, the European slots and casino market is estimated to have a revenue of over US$20bn, while the lottery market is put at more than US$50bn.

"The average spend for each citizen is therefore around US$110 for lotteries only. This figure has doubled since the 60s."

CARD SALES UP IN JAPAN

The sale of playing cards in Japan is apparently increasing dramatically, according to Takashi Matsui, President of Matsui Gaming Machine Co. Ltd. of Tokyo.

The company is Japanese distributor for the United States Playing Card Company, which has been a manufacturer of cards and other gaming accessories for over a century. Pictured here are Mr. Matsui with USPCC President Ronald Rule (centre0 and director of international sales and marketing.

SLOTS IN FRANCE

According to the latest statistics, there were 10,684 slots operating in casinos in France during 1996.

They brought in over Ffr6bn (US$1bn), of which the state and local municipalities took around half. The five groups sharing the bulk of the market are the Barriere Group, with 1,730 slots; Partouche, with 1,600 slots; Tranchant, with 1,100; and Emeraude and Mallortigues, which have a few hundred each.

SWEDEN PLANS NEW CASINOS

THE Swedish government is currently working on new casino laws for the country.

The plan is to establish three casinos in Sweden and the European Gaming Organisation wants to be involved.

"We are currently trying to set up a meeting with the decision makers in Sweden," said EGO board member Jens Halle of Bally Gaming.

FRENCH GAMING LEVIES INCREASED

The French Government plans to increase from 3.4 percent to 7.5 percent the gaming levy–called Contribution Sociale Generale or CSG, which was introduced on 1st January 1997. This rise came into effect on 1st January 1998. This follows the introduction in 1996 of a levy of 3 percent–called RDS. In other words, new gaming levies of over 10 percent–in addition to the existing 55 percent which has been levied since 1996.

The gaming authorities, Brigade des Courses et Jeux, has admitted that this new increase will put some Casinos into deficit. Added to that, two other ‘kamikaze’ policies have also just been announced.

Reduction of the working week from 39 to 35 hours ‘with no loss of salary’. In other words, this represents a 10 percent increase in labour costs.

A new national salary scale for gaming staff negotiated by unions representing gaming personnel. Apart from an immediate increase in salary, this government-backed deal links table gaming salaries to slot machine receipts and makes it extremely difficult for Casinos to introduce new young staff into the business. This is because it is the older croupiers who are union representatives. This will serve to slow down or stop any modernisation of table gaming in France, which has been in the doldrums for over 10 years. In that time, slots results have rapidly increased while table results have steadily decreased.

CASINO POLAND TO BE PRIVATIZED

Casino Poland, which operates five casinos in this formerly communist country, is expected to have new shareholders by-mid-1998. At present, state-owned airline LOT owns 100% of the company, but the giant’s pending privatization is charging its relationship with Casinos Poland and could possibly sever it completely.

MONEY TIME

Mikohn Gaming has introduced to latest in multi sensory gaming experience, a new product and slot environment entitled MoneyTime™. MoneyTime™ offers the opportunity to win bonus jackpots of up to $1,000 for eligible casino slot players on the system during a randomly timed period. Wins are saluted with spectacular lights, a musical fanfare and display animation. One of the unique features of this system is that slot players are awarded simply for playing–no winning combination is needed, although they must meet eligibility requirements. Once the preset progressive amount is reached, eligible players will be awarded various amounts from the progressive jackpot. Then the whole slot environment goes into a frenzy as voice messages ring out: "It’s MoneyTime™!" Players keep playing with this exciting new free-money concept, which makes eligible players winners just for playing.


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