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Quick-takes: The month's trends in a glance - May 2006

11 July 2006

The big news story of the month is the price of gasoline (and it drives the price of crude oil). Everyone is talking about the price - over $3 a gallon in many places. Assigning blame is a political sport, as is offering legislative remedies. Last year the increases in price stimulated speculation in many industries about the eventual impact of prices nearing $2.50, but there wasn't any national dialogue and the stories faded as prices went down and other issues moved onto the front page. This time, however, we have reached levels that trigger emotional reactions and political posturing on all sides.

The President noted that gas was three times the price it was when he took office in 2001; the oil companies reported record profits; and many businesses are forecasting financial difficulties. The debates are becoming heated, the solutions radical, but so far the impact has not hit the economy. The economic news is better than good; for example, National Public Radio reported that 58% of the large companies reported all- time record first-quarter results. GNP is up; housing is up; consumer confidence is up. All sectors, it seems, are growing. Gas prices may affect the economy in general and gaming in particular - the proverbial other shoe may drop soon, but it hasn't dropped yet. Gaming had a good March - except, of course, in Mississippi, with half of the Biloxi casinos still closed from the damage of Hurricane Katrina.

Atlantic City February gaming revenue rose 9.3% to $433 million. Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 4-17-06

Colorado March casino revenue increased to $66.6 million, up 4.0 percent from 2005. Andy Voung, Denver Post, 4-18-06

Detroit March revenues rose 4.9% to $114.6 million. Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 4-17-06

Connecticut March slot win rose 1.7% to $ 144.9 million. Associated Press, Hartford Courant, 4-14-06

Illinois Gaming revenue rose 10.3% to $167.9 million in March. Bob Okon, Suburban Chicago News, 4-11-06

Indiana March gaming win rose 6.7% to $230.1 million. Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 4-17-06

Iowa March revenue rose 3.9% to $103.2 million. Racetrack revenues were up 17%. Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 4-17-06

Louisiana's casinos won $239.1 million compared with $198.6 million in March 2005. Associated Press, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 4-18-06

Mississippi February gaming revenues fell 19.2% to $198.1 million. Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 3-27-06

Missouri's March revenues were up 5.2% to $1437.2 million. Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 4-17-06

Nevada's February casino win was $1.03 billion, up 12.84 percent from 2005. Howard Stutz, Gaming Wire, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 4-11-06

Poker has gone from a game fading faster than an aging sports figure to a model for all other games. Poker started to grow dramatically both inside and outside of casinos and poker rooms when the Internet and television converged - the stars, as it were, aligned. Now promoters, game enthusiasts and others are using the poker model to try to bring glory and gain to their game; blackjack, Mah-jong, dominoes and even video gaming are lining up for a shot at Internet play and television coverage. With dozens of poker tournaments touring the country and vying for television time, one can only imagine the television menu of the future, filled with tournaments, monster prizes and rags-to-riches stories, each with its stable of famous people who "just love this game."

While poker basks in the glow of fame and fortune generated by multimillion-dollar tournaments and celebrity-fueled televised drama, that other old-fashioned casino game, blackjack, is a relative wallflower. A who's who of poker, including poker professionals and tournament organizers, hope to change that with the debut of the Ultimate Blackjack Tour, a televised blackjack tournament that looks like a cross between a gambling game, the "Survivor" reality show and the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" game show. A group of investors are negotiating with cable networks to debut the show sometime this fall. Liz Benston, Las Vegas Sun, 4-17-06

Professional video gaming is set to debut on cable television later this year, potentially paving the way for the kings and queens of game controllers to become as familiar to American households as the faces of Johnny Chan or Annie Duke in televised poker. Major League Gaming, the world's largest organized video gaming league…deal in which USA Network will air seven one-hour episodes in the fall, featuring the pro circuit and its players…The upcoming televised series will aim to engage viewers with not only with the game play itself - featuring top players of "Halo 2" on Xbox and "Super Smash Bros. Melee" on Nintendo - but also sports-like commentary and profiles of the players. "This is the sign that pro gaming has finally arrived to the mass market. It's like poker was two years ago, or NASCAR 15 years ago." May Wong, Associated Press, 4-17-06

A Montreal software company is gambling that the business model of online poker will propel a Chinese game to the same scale of financial success. Dynasty Gaming Inc.…is organizing the first official mah-jong tournament in Macau, China. But not before marketing its chief product to a massive customer base in that country. "What made poker such a success was TV," said Dynasty Gaming chief executive Albert Barbusci. "We're the first player to launch a land-based tournament of this scale." The tournament, to be held in December, will be televised in China in February. And to make it a sure thing, Barbusci partnered with China's biggest name in gambling and entertainment, the Ho Group. "Mah-jong is much larger than poker. You have billions of people in Asia playing it. Mah-jong's worldwide popularity is 10 times that of poker. " Roberto Rocha, CanWest News Service, 4-18-06

Change is always interesting; it often happens so slowly that it is only after many years and a great deal of actual change that we realize it has taken place. In England, the government is in the process of changing gambling regulations. Most of the new regulations will deal with the number of casinos, their size and the really big change, the number of slot machines allowed.

There are, however, other changes involved. One has to do with casino advertising. England's regulation was even more restrictive than Nevada's used to be. Casinos were barely able to tell prospective customers of their existence and never of games or other gambling attractions.

Television adverts for all betting, gaming and lotteries - except for the National Lottery - are banned. BBC News, 4-24-06

Those rules are now being rewritten with the help of input from the public and the industry.

Casinos and gambling websites could be allowed to advertise on television and radio under a relaxation of rules. The new gambling code drafted by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Gambling Commission will go out to public consultation this summer. The code will clarify a provision of the Gambling Act 2005 - to be introduced next year - allowing for advertising rules to be relaxed. . . BBC News, 4-24-06

The process of regulatory change in England has been slow and often confusing, to put it mildly. But what interested me about this phase was the description of the current regulations as being 40 years old and thereby presumably badly out-of-date.

…Betting services, bingo halls, gaming machines and football pools will be covered by the new rules, as well as overseas companies operating online gambling sites…The current rules on advertising gambling are about 40 years old and are seen by some industry observers as restrictive. BBC News, 4-24-06

So now the English are trying to close the gap of 40 years and encompass the current reality - the reality that includes poker tournaments on television, and more significantly the Internet. Who could have imagined 40 years ago the Golden Palace strategies of painting their name on pregnant women, naked streakers, boxers or crashing cars? Who could have imagined a company buying religious relics and oddities just to get notoriety? Or a world where sponsors - in our case online casinos - compete to put logos on the most famous sports franchises in the world? Forty years ago, no one could have imagined it, but now someone has to try to regulate it.

When Will Stuckenberg drives his Dodge Neon off a cliff near Joplin next week, an online gambling Web site will be along for the ride. GoldenPalace.com., which has made a habit out of oddball publicity stunts, submitted the winning bid of $2,550 to have its logo and Web site on Stuckenberg's car April 29 as it plunges off a cliff into a rock quarry in south Joplin. KCTV, 4-24-06

An image of Jesus has appeared (on Easter morning no less; what great timing) on the wall of a Colombian house. The race is on between Golden Palace, the world's foremost online casino, and the Catholic Church, a pretty big money-making organization in their own right, to see who can get their hands on the relic first. The Catholic Church has announced that they will send experts to Colombia to verify if the image is genuine…There is little doubt that Golden Palace, which has taken a fancy to collecting relics that were once the sole domain of the Vatican, will be interested in this wall regardless of authenticity…Perhaps Golden Palace are just way ahead of their time. After all online casinos and organized religion share a lot in common: A love for bingo, and the ability to profit from it… Online Gambling Insider, 4-24-06

Another football club has made news by aligning itself with an online gambling firm. This time it is BetandWin.com, an Austrian sports betting company. You might recall a few weeks ago that Manchester United was prepared to welcome Mansion Poker's multi-million dollar shirt deal, which fell through in the final hours of discussion. Online gambling news portal, Online-Casinos.com, reports that Austrian public company and major European gambling group Betandwin.com has inked a sponsorship deal with the top Italian football club AC Milan, which will see the Bet & Win logo on team shirts for the next four seasons, covering all national and international matches…Over the course of the last four seasons, AC Milan's jersey sponsor has been seen by over 50 billion people in some 3,000 hours of television broadcasting in Italy and abroad. According to a recent market survey, AC Milan and the club's new jersey sponsor are amongst the best known brands in this sector. Online Casino News, 4-24-06

England is not the only country trying to bring its laws up to date. All of the countries in Europe are struggling to find ways to fit the reality of the Internet and Internet gambling into their national legal and cultural structure. So is the United States. As Congress debates Internet gambling one more time, Internet companies push the envelope with advertising and sponsorship of real-world events that mirror the virtual-world ones. Bodog decided flights to Las Vegas were the perfect places to advertise online gambling. The airlines agreed, at first; a week after agreeing to allow the advertising, the airlines withdrew from the deal, citing government pressure.

The expression "carrying coals to Newcastle" is losing some of its resonance, as the coal-mining heritage of the English town of Newcastle passes from common memory. So how about this as a replacement: "advertising a gambling Web site in Las Vegas." That is what the Bodog Entertainment Group, which operates gambling and gaming Web sites, is doing. The company has signed a deal with InterAir Media, a media broker specializing in the airline industry, to sponsor branded airplanes flying from Las Vegas McCarran International Airport…The six planes are being wrapped with the Web address for one Bodog Entertainment site, bodog.com, which offers online sports betting, poker and casino games. Bodog Entertainment joins a lengthy list of marketers that have sent campaigns aloft…The Bodog Entertainment deal is scheduled to run three months and cost the company an estimated $500,000. It will also include in-flight announcements…and brochures about the Web site will be inserted into seat pockets. And when a tray table on an airplane is folded down, "it looks like a blackjack table, with 'Bodog' on it," Mr. Stoddard said. Stuart Elliott, New York Times, 4-24-06

The Internet reality is reality. The American Congress may outlaw it. The Italian Parliament may outlaw it. The Chinese government may outlaw it. The people of the world have legalized it. It may take another 40 years for all legislators and bureaucrats to realize it, but the Internet and Internet gambling are here to stay.

The American Gaming Association has decided not to support the ban against Internet gambling and has instead endorsed a yearlong study. That is just a tactic as the industry tries to do what legislators and bureaucrats must do - update their database. The new reality requires new analysis. It is better to find a reasonable way to regulate Internet gambling and protect those who need to be protected than to pretend that it can be prohibited and stopped.

Ken Adams

Ken Adams is the principal in the gaming consulting firm, Ken Adams and Associates. Formed in 1990, Ken Adams and Associates specializes in information, analysis, and strategic planning for Indian tribes, casino operations and gaming manufacturers.

Ken spent over 20 years in the hotel-casino industry, prior to founding Ken Adams and Associates. He held the positions of: Director of Casino Operations, Casino Manager, and Keno Department Manager. During this time, he developed numerous innovative marketing and customer development programs and systems for evaluating casino performance. Some of those programs, such as slot clubs and tournaments, have become industry standards.

Ken is also actively involved in gathering and disseminating information that is important to the gaming industry. He is editor and publisher of and the Adams' Report, a monthly newsletter specializing in identifying trends in casino gaming, regulation and manufacturing, the Adams Daily Report, an electronic newsletter that provides electronic links to the key gaming stories of the day, and the Adams Review, a special report distributed by Compton Dancer Consulting that provides editorial commentary on gaming trends.
Ken Adams
Ken Adams is the principal in the gaming consulting firm, Ken Adams and Associates. Formed in 1990, Ken Adams and Associates specializes in information, analysis, and strategic planning for Indian tribes, casino operations and gaming manufacturers.

Ken spent over 20 years in the hotel-casino industry, prior to founding Ken Adams and Associates. He held the positions of: Director of Casino Operations, Casino Manager, and Keno Department Manager. During this time, he developed numerous innovative marketing and customer development programs and systems for evaluating casino performance. Some of those programs, such as slot clubs and tournaments, have become industry standards.

Ken is also actively involved in gathering and disseminating information that is important to the gaming industry. He is editor and publisher of and the Adams' Report, a monthly newsletter specializing in identifying trends in casino gaming, regulation and manufacturing, the Adams Daily Report, an electronic newsletter that provides electronic links to the key gaming stories of the day, and the Adams Review, a special report distributed by Compton Dancer Consulting that provides editorial commentary on gaming trends.