WHILE we are all winding down for Christmas, some of the biggest announcements and changes in the gambling industry are taking place. This past week, Tabcorp has announced it is shutting Luxbet.com down after confirming the $11.3 billion merger with Tatts. We also take a look at the match-fixing scandal which has rocked Cricket Australia, plus a controversial Tasmanian poker machine policy, and the WSOP Sydney 2017 round up.
Luxbet.com closes accounts before Christmas
Tabcorp’s online betting branch, LuxBet is shutting down. From 8am on December 20, 2017, punters will no longer be able to deposit or place wagers via their LuxBet.com account. Those with an account with the online bookmaker will be able to withdraw their winnings up until January 19, 2018. After the cut off date, punters will need to contact customer service to recover your account balance.
The announcement follows confirmation that the $11.3 billion merger between Tabcorp and Tatts will be completed by December 22, 2017. Tatts stakeholders voted to approve the tie-up between the two gambling giants on Tuesday last week, and the Supreme Court of Victoria cemented the timeline the following day.
Tabcorp CEO David Attenborough revealed earlier in the year that the company would undertake a strategic review of Luxbet after the digital branch recorded poor performance results. The merged entity will still operate an online betting site, with Tatts Ubet bookmaker service remaining operational.
The merged entity also revealed plans to focus on lobbying the Australian government to enforce a national point of consumption (POC) tax on online sports betting sites. Currently, several different states are introducing and considering 15 percent POC taxes, but the company wants a harmonised tax regime.”’
Crown Resorts announces divestment plans
Crown Resorts has announced plans to divest several assets after its global strategy failed.
The company announced it will sell two floors in its Barangaroo hotel to James Packer, who is the majority owner of the casino conglomerate.
According to a media release, Crown Resorts will sell for $60 million to Packer, as part of a $700 million assets package. Packer will receive two floors in the Sydney hotel, which is currently under construction and set to open in 2021
“The sale documentation will be on the same, or materially the same, terms as the documents to be entered into with other purchasers,” the company said in the release.
Packer’s sister, Gretel Packer, will also get a piece of the pie, with Crown Resorts agreeing to sell its Ellerston property, located in the Hunter Valley, NSW.
The company said it has also entered into a deal with Wynn Resorts over its 14-hectare Las Vegas site, while announcing plans to sell more than $70 million of its shares in the US casino company, Caesars.
Crown Resorts confirmed once again that it was in talks with potential buyers over the sale of its 62 percent stake in the online betting site, CrownBet. However, it added that there is “no certainty as to whether a transaction will eventuate”.
Packer recently revealed at the company’s annual meeting that Crown Resorts didn’t succeed in its global strategy, partly due to the incident in China. Local authorities arrested several employees, including three Australians, for illegally promoting gambling on the mainland.
Poker machine ban causes divide in Tasmania
The Tasmanian Labor Party has announced it will introduce a policy to phase out poker machines in pubs and clubs by 2023 if elected in March 2018.
The controversial policy proposal has caused a divide between those for and against the plan, which includes a $55 million support package for the affected venues.
Clubs in the region are reportedly preparing to fight back against the policy, with Glenorchy RSL Sub Branch Inc releasing a statement via Clubs Australia revealing its disappointment given many regional venues rely on poker machine revenue to operate.
The Federal Group also declared war against Labor, which it regularly donates to, stating that it will be campaigning against the new policy.
Federal, which holds the only poker machine license in the state until 2023, pointed out that the plan threatens around 2000 jobs.
However, anti-gambling advocates have praised Labor for proposing the package, with $20 million allocated to venues which begin to phase out the machines before 2023.
They have also urged Liberal to follow suit, despite the Party proposing a reduction in the number of machines instead.
The Tasmanian Bookmakers Association is also backing Labor’s plan, stating it could boost the state’s racing industry.
The TBA said trackside bookies have been struggling in recent years and that the racetrack has more societal benefits than poker machines.
Australian cricket match-fixing scandal
Australia has been caught up in an international match-fixing scandal, after the UK media outlet, the Sun, published a dossier late last week.
The report revealed that two Indian bookmakers offered to sell details of rigged play arranged so private gamblers could bet and win millions.
They said that players involved would then perform a gesture, which would indicate their plans to rig the over. Spotters in the crown would then tell the bookmakers, who bet millions in India, where sports betting is illegal.
The two bookies said they could fix three or four Big Bash League games, and claimed that a former Australian player and an administrator were involved in spotting in BBL matches. They also said that there was an Australian player, known as the Silent Man, who had internationals working for him.
Cricket Australia released a statement saying the allegations are serious, while the International Cricket Council (ICC) launched an investigation resulting in the representative body announcing it may seize players’ phones.
The dossier came just as the Third Ashes Test in Perth commenced, but the ICC has determined that it is free of corruption.
WSOP 2017 Sydney finishes up at the Star casino
The 2017 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Sydney Circuit at the Star Casino in Sydney finishes on Monday, December 18.
The event has been running since December 8, featuring 13 tournaments, including the $2200 Main Event with a $2 million guaranteed prize pool.
The largest event of the series was the $1100 Monster Stack event, which took place in the Star Poker Room on December 16, with 403 players turning up to compete.
Tim Mitchell was crowned the winner, pocketing $88,684 for his efforts, while runner-up Rafe Aman won $54,787.
The $20,000 buy-in High Roller event was also quite popular, attracting international and local talent to the casino, with Andy Lee defeating Martin Finger to win $273,600.
There is also a leaderboard, where participating players earn points to score a place in the WSOP Global event, with Jarrod Thatcher currently tying with Antonis Kambouroglou for first place, at the time of writing.
The last event of the series is the WSOP Bounty Event, a re-entry event which will likely pull a large crowd.
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