Budapest New casino gamble

AUSTRIAN and US investors have joined forces in a plan to construct a casino and entertainment center near the number 15 main road in north-western Hungary. Austrian construction and tourism group Asamer & Hufnagl Holding (Aramer) and US-based group Royal Distribution have formed an investor consortium to build the facility, which would be located between the towns of Hegyeshalom, Mosonmagyaróvár and Rajka. Hegyeshalom Ipari Park Kft, the Mosonmagyaróvár-based subsidiary of Asamer, already owns approximately 170 hectares of land known as Hegyeshalom Ipari Park. It is thought the joint venture – known as Crystal City – would invest Ft1 billion ($3.3 million) in the industrial park property, about 220km west of Budapest. Plans include four hotels, as well as a casino, and were expected to provide jobs to about 2,500 people. The news was confirmed by Edina Balogh, spokesman for the Finance Ministry, who added that Elemér Terták, Deputy State Secretary of the Finance Ministry, last week met with hopeful investors Joseph Jackson (father of pop idol Michael Jackson) and an Austrian. However, Balogh added plans were still at a preliminary stage and said the ministry did not expect to invite bids for the right to operate a casino for the time being. “We have received no official offer (from the consortium) as yet,” said Balogh. Under recent Hungarian gambling law, all new casinos require a concession tender, according to Márta Sibinger President of the gaming supervision body Szerencsejáték Felúgyelet. “Any new concession would have to be approved by the Finance Ministry,” said Sibinger. She added that currently there were only five casinos operating in Hungary (three in Budapest – the Las Vegas, Tropicana and Várkert – one in the border town of Sopron and another in Szentendre). A casino in Kecskemét closed on May 26.

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Bracks calls for talks on Net gambling

Victorian Premier Steve Bracks wants the Federal Government to sit down with the states to devise a “more workable” approach to a ban on Internet gambling. He says the Government’s proposed laws banning online gaming are impractical, and the states should be asked for their ideas on how to better regulate the industry. “I think the problem with the federal legislation is not so much its intent- if it could work we’d back it, but frankly it won’t work,” he said.

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Bill to be proposed to allow barge gambling

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) – Dockside barge casinos in southwestern Louisiana would provide stiffer competition to an Indian reservation casino that is popular with Texas gamblers and pays no state taxes, a legislator says. Floating casinos in Louisiana would be allowed to replace their riverboats with dockside barges under a bill that would be introduced at a special legislative session that may be held to consider a tax cut for the New Orleans casino, a legislator said Monday. Rep. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, said that permanent barge casinos could generate up to $100 million in extra annual revenue. Barges are used by dockside casinos in Mississippi. Johns said legislation probably will be filed in early March in anticipation that a special lawmaking session will be called that month to deal with a tax cut for Harrah’s New Orleans Casino. That casino says it will close March 31 without a break from its $100 million minimum annual state tax. Currently, only riverboat casinos in Shreveport-Bossier City are allowed to stay dockside fulltime. However, the cruising requirement for the other boats is largely unenforced. Lake Charles has a pair of two-boat casino complexes, but they face stiff competition for Texas gamblers from a reservation casino in nearby Kinder. Also, the Delta Downs race track at nearby Vinton is expected to have slot machines in the future. “With our boats here, we feel like surely it would allow them to compete on a more even scale with the Indian casino,” Johns said. “We are getting no revenue out of the Indians, and we can’t do a thing about it.” Johns said all boats would be permitted to stay dockside, but those who chose to do so would pay a state tax of 21.5 percent on gambling winnings, instead of the current 18.5 percent rate. Casinos that substituted barges for their boats would pay 23.5 percent. The bill must be considered during a special session because it involves a tax increase that cannot be considered during this year’s regular legislative session. As a backup, Rep. Vic Stelly, R-Moss Bluff, said he plans to file another dockside bill in the regular legislative session that would permit dockside gambling in Lake Charles without any increase in gambling taxes. Dockside gambling would have to be approved by local voter referendums that the casinos would pay for, Stelly said.

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Betinternet receives takeover bid

5/18/2001 (By Saskia Wirth, FTMarketWatch.com) LONDON – Shares of U.K. online betting company Betinternet.com [UK:BET] surged up to 40 percent on Thursday after it said it had received a takeover bid. The company, which is quoted on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM), said it had received approaches from third parties which could lead to an offer for its share capital, and that it was currently reviewing the bid. Shares surged up to 40 percent following the announcement before falling back. They closed up 14.3 percent at 28 pence. Betinternet.com added it also continued to examine various other strategic options for the development of the company, and that one of them was to remain independent. Its business is dominated by football bets which total more than 70 percent. Its fastest growing area is the Far East, where it believes its market penetration will give it a competitive advantage when the soccer World Cup is co-hosted by Japan and Korea in 2002.

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