07 Mar FIFA’s decision to implement sweeping changes to its World Cup bidding process came as little surprise to soccer fans and analysts.
US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in December that FIFA leaders solicited payments through orchestrated schemes for rights to host not only the World Cup but also various marque matches including qualifiers and international friendlies.
‘The betrayal of trust set forth here is outrageous,’ Lynch said at the time. ‘The scale of corruption alleged herein is unconscionable.’
FIFA last selected World Cup hosts six years ago. On the very same day, December 2, 2010, FIFA announced it was awarding Russia the 2018 Cup and Qatar the 2022 tournament.
The one-two announcement almost immediately caused controversy as rumors of vote swapping emerged and bribery emerged.
Fuel was added to the firestorm of criticism surrounding FIFA when it was later revealed that working conditions at stadium construction sites in Qatar were extremely poor and workers were being abused.
FIFA says part of the new consultation phase will focus on human rights in order to evaluate a bidder’s qualifications. FIFA will also evaluate ‘sustainable event management’ and ‘environmental protection’ during the initial review period.
According to the association’s press release on the bidding changes, FIFA will additionally consider expanding the World Cup from 32 to 40 teams, with a decision expected sometime in the next 12 months.
Station Casinos to Acquire Palms in Las Vegas for $312.5 Million
Station Casinos will buy the Palms Hotel and Casino Resort in Las Vegas for $312.5 million, the company announced during an earnings call on Tuesday, May 10.
In the palms of their hands, almost: Fertitta brothers’ Station Casinos to acquire the off-Strip, popular Palms Casino in Las Vegas. (Image: hipmonk.com)
Earlier this month, Station, trading under its new corporate name Red Rock Resorts, raised $531.4 million in an initial public offering (IPO) on the NASDAQ, and has clearly decided to splash the cash in a bid to shore up its dominance of the Las Vegas locals market.
The move follows a sudden spate of empire-building in towards that demographic market by Station’s main competitor, Boyd Gaming. This month, Boyd announced a $500 million splurge on three locals-oriented casinos: the Aliante Casino Hotel and Spa, the Cannery Casino Hotel in North Las Vegas, and the Eastside Cannery Casino and Hotel, next to Sam’s Town.
The locals market is on the up in Vegas, and the Palms is a particularly attractive proposition for Station Casinos, in that it draws a healthy mix of tourists and locals. While it’s situated almost a mile off the Strip, its focus on attracting young people through its vibrant restaurants and nightlife, means it remains a popular visitors’ destination, too.
Marc Falcone, executive vice president, chief financial officer, and treasurer of Red Rock Resorts, agrees. ‘With the acquisition of the Palms, we gain a leading gaming asset . . . with key strategic benefits in the . . . locals market and close proximity to the . . . Strip,’ he said.
‘With its appeal to both . . . residents and tourists alike, the Palms is a hybrid gaming property that is uniquely positioned to benefit from the strong economic trends in Southern Nevada and record visitation levels in Las Vegas.’
Rich Get Richer with Possible UFC Sale
The Palms, built by the Maloof family, opened in 2001 and expanded in 2005 with the construction of the $600 million ‘Fantasy Tower.’ But it was hit with financial difficulties during the recent recession and was taken over by TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners, who agreed to hold around $400 million of the property’s debt. Following the restructure, the Maloof family retained just two percent of the company.
Station Casinos said it believes the Palms will bring $35 million in cash flow in its first full year of ownership. The transaction is scheduled to close in Q3, subject to regulatory approvals.
Meanwhile, ESPN has reported that the Fertitta brothers, Station Casinos’ major shareholders, are looking to sell the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The brothers are said to be in ‘advanced talks’ with potential suitors over a possible acquisition of the popular mixed martial arts championships, which they bought in 2001 for just $2 million. Their asking price today is believed to be around $3.5 billion to $4 billion.
Mandalay Bay Power Outage Shocks Visitors and Illuminates the Ghost of Danny Ocean
It was an eerie site on Wednesday at Mandalay Bay after the resort lost power for 40 minutes and conjured up Danny Ocean. (Image: Matt Schmitz/Twitter)
The Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas went without power for about 40 minutes on Wednesday around noon, and naturally patrons and casino officials quickly thought of one man: Danny Ocean.
Reminiscent of the famous ‘Ocean’s 11’ Hollywood classic and reboot, when the lights went down the excitement went up as security personnel rushed to secure the resort and visitors rushed to social media to share the news that Ocean might be in the building.
Images and videos of the blackout were almost immediately being shared on Twitter and Facebook. MGM Resorts, which owns Mandalay Bay, said no one was injured and no evacuation was required.
NV Energy, the public utility provider for the Las Vegas metro, said the cause of the outage was unknown and that an investigation is ongoing. No other properties were affected, though Mandalay Bay’s neighboring casino Luxor reported a power surge.
Real Life Ocean’s 11
Unfortunately for those who would enjoy seeing someone other than the house actually win big for a change, Wednesday’s events seem to be just a simple power outage. Mandalay Bay representatives say security guards were able to quickly lock down the building to assure no patrons or potential heisters were leaving the property with ill-gotten money.
Of course, a sophisticated crook capable of disabling a casino’s power grid and infiltrating its vault is likely capable of finding a more concealed exit path than the front door.
But the reality is that today’s security at casinos is nearly unrivaled by any other industry, and that’s especially true on the Las Vegas Strip.
The 2001 remake of ‘Ocean’s 11,’ while hilariously entertaining, was also rather hilarious for its practicality inaccuracies. The ‘Z-pinch’ generator played a pivotal role in Ocean’s team disabling power at three casinos, but the electrical machine wouldn’t be able to fit inside a van and would require a much larger power source than the bunch of car batteries the criminals used in the movie.
While both ‘Ocean’s 11’ films were perfect for their time, in 2016 technology has given fraudsters a new tool to steal.
The most recent heist related to the casino industry took place on February 5 when some 20 individuals were able to schedule $101 million in withdrawals from the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. The crooks had planned to take $1 billion and launder the money through various banks and entities including two Filipino casinos before a spelling error foiled the plan.
The cold hard truth is that it might actually be easier in 2016 for cybercriminals to steal money through technological means than by physically entering a casino.
Cybercrime is one of the more costly and dangerous forms of crime in the modern world. The Ponemon Institute, an independent research firm that investigates privacy, data protection, and information security, found that 47 percent of all US adults had their personal information exposed by hackers in 2014.
And McAfee and Intel Security say a conservative estimate for the annual cost of cybercrime on the global economy is $375 billion.
That’s why while Mandalay Bay might not have seen anyone leaving with a bag full of cash on Wednesday, money very well could have left the building.
Donald Trump Won’t Reveal Tax Returns https://myfreepokies.com to American People, but Did for Casinos
Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan forged a friendship this week, but the GOP presumptive nominee isn’t making any friends on the left for refusing to release his tax returns. (Image: Steve Pope/Getty Images)
Donald Trump isn’t adhering to calls for him to release his tax returns to show the American people just how much the billionaire is paying to the federal government on an annual basis.
Instead, the presumptive Republican Party nominee for the 2016 presidential election says his tax filings are currently being audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and therefore won’t be made public until the investigation concludes.
The problem for Trump is that an IRS audit doesn’t prohibit a taxpayer from making his or her returns public. Following a heated debate in February in which Trump told his challengers that he ‘can’t do it until the audit is finished,’ the IRS released a statement that explained, ‘Nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information.’
Facing backlash from his critics and presumed Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton, Trump tweeted on Wednesday, ‘I told @AP that my taxes are under routine audit and I would release my tax returns when audit is complete, not after election!’
Opinions vary on why Trump might be reluctant to share his finances. One theory is that he isn’t quite as rich as he’s claimed, while another belief is that he has been using tax loopholes to avoid paying his so-called ‘fair share.’
Casinos Over People
Should Trump not release his tax returns, he would become the first presidential hopeful to go such a route since the 1960s. The news media has long advocated that aspirants of the Oval Office show the American people their yearly income to defend both their business and personal records relating to their experiences.
For Trump, whose entire campaign is founded on being a business trailblazer who could lead the US to more prosperous times, releasing his returns would seemingly be a no-brainer for the GOP frontrunner.
Adding to the irony is a revelation this week made by CNN that Trump routinely provided his tax filings to gaming commissions while involved in the casino industry. Per CNN’s Eric Bradner, Trump’s attorneys delivered four years of tax info to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in 2006 when Trump was bidding to build a Philadelphia casino.
Three months ago, Trump said, ‘I want to file it, except for many years, I’ve been audited every year. Twelve years or something like that, every year they audit me.’
If he was being audited in 2006 as he claimed during the debate, it’s unclear why he felt fine making his returns available to Pennsylvania gaming officials but a decade later doesn’t feel voters deserve the same transparency.
DFS Congressional Hearing Hijacked by New Jersey Sports Betting Push
A Congressional hearing to examine the legality of daily fantasy sports (DFS) was snubbed by industry leaders DraftKings and FanDuel yesterday. Both companies are understood to have declined an invitation to attend the meeting of the Subcommittee of Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, which was called at the behest of New Jersey Assemblyman Frank Pallone.
New Jersey Assemblyman Frank Pallone, who made no secret of the fact that this week’s DFS hearing was really about the campaign for New Jersey sports betting. (Image: politico.com)
Instead, representing that group yesterday were Peter Schoenke, president of Rotowire.com and chairman of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, along with Steve Brubaker, head of the Small Business Fantasy Sports Trade Association. Rotowire primarily offers DFS-oriented news to its audiences.
Also offering testimonies were key figures in the fields of law, sports management, and sports integrity.
Real Reason for the Hearing
‘The biggest thing for me is that I would like us to legalize sports betting,’ confessed Pallone, right off the bat. ‘I am hoping this panel and the statements that were made about why it doesn’t make sense to allow (sports betting) to go underground and run by organized crime would lead us to some kind of legislation.
‘The point is allowing sports betting to be legal in states like New Jersey who want it. That’s what I was hoping this would contribute to, primarily.’
New Jersey’s attempts to legalize sports betting in the past at its racetracks and casinos have been persistently blocked by the major sports leagues, and yet many of those leagues benefit either directly or indirectly from the DFS industry, which they claim isn’t gambling, but rather skill.