Cruising to Philippines resort casinos likely will be more of a breeze once Solaire Cruise Center — a two-berth pier for cruise ships — is open in 2021 on Manila Bay.
Manila Bay in Philippines will be the site of a two-berth pier for cruise ships located near integrated resorts in Manila. (Image: Philippine Canadian Inquirer)
The cruise center is being developed by Sureste Properties. The company is associated with Bloomberry Resorts Corp., which also owns the Solaire Resort & Casino. a $1.2 billion integrated resort in Manila’s Entertainment City.
Guillaume Lucci, an adviser to Bloomberry Cruise Terminals, said construction on the two berths will begin later this year. It will take about two years to complete.
Our plan is to have this operational by the third quarter of [the] 2021 season,” Lucci was quoted by Seatrade Cruise News. The cruise center may target tourists and casino patrons from mainland China.
The cruise center will be the first dedicated cruise berth in the Philippines, according to the Seatrade report. It could lead to growth in the nation’s cruise tourism, the report adds.
The berths will be large enough so big cruise ships can dock. These include Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class — which were recently ranked as the world’s largest passenger ships — and Genting’s forthcoming Global class, according to GGRAsia.
One of the berths can fit cruise ships up to 365 meters (approximately 1,200 feet). The other can fit vessels up to 345 meters (about 1,132 feet).
Salomague Floating Berth
Also, an off-shore floating berth is to be opened in October in Salomague at Ilocus in the northern Philippines — with passengers using tenders to reach land. It will also be managed by Sureste Properties.
“We had a short period to launch but have so far been able to confirm the first few cruise calls from December 2019 onwards, including Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas and Genting’s World Dream in 2020,” Lucci was quoted by Seatrade. “For these large ships with over 5,000 passengers, economic impact will be felt through the community.”
The Salomague floating berth could target tourists from Hong Kong and South China. The port is close to Vigan and beaches.
The World Dream, a 151,000-ton ocean liner built for Genting Hong Kong (GHK), began sailing in 2017. Like its sister vessel, Genting Dream, which sailed into operation in 2016, World Dream is a floating high-end integrated casino resort.
Its itinerary includes many of Southeast Asia’s gaming spots. World Dream can accommodate 3,400 passengers and 2,030 crew members, with dozens of restaurants, bars, waterslides and an onboard gaming area called “Resorts World At Sea.”
Earlier, Genting was operating casino cruises through its Star Cruises fleet. Dream Cruises was launched in 2016, specifically as a luxury cruise line “conceived and built for Asia,” according to GHK President Kent Zhu.
Airports Need Upgrades Too
Cruising to the Philippines is not the only mode of transportation that needs upgrades. The casino sector would also get a boost if the Philippines upgrades its airports.
Last year, Japanese financial services firm Nomura Holdings said in a note that the aging airports are keeping wealthier tourists from patronizing casino resorts, especially affluent travelers from China.
Philippines casinos won $3.6 billion last year, and the four integrated land-based casino resorts in Manila generated the lion’s share of the gross gaming revenue (GGR). City of Dreams, Solaire, Resorts World, and Okada won $2.71 billion. E-gaming parlors reported GGR of more than $500 million.
Philippines GGR this year is predicted to total $4.1 billion, an 8.5 percent jump from 2018. President Rodrigo Duterte directed PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) to make the Philippines “the top gaming and entertainment destination” in Southeast Asia by 2020.
Irishman Shane Lowry is the Champion Golfer of the Year after winning The Open Championship at Royal Portrush by a commanding six shots. The victory was embraced by locals at the storied Northern Ireland track, but few saw this coming from the 32-year-old journeyman.
Shane Lowry holds back tears after winning the 148th Open Championship. (Image: Jon Super/AP)
The night before the 148th playing of golf’s oldest major, Lowry was a long 80/1 at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas to hoist the Claret Jug come Sunday. The line implied a chance of Shane winning of just 1.23 percent, with every $100 wagered netting the fortunate gambler $8,000.
Lowry shot rounds of 67-67-63-72 to finish at -15. His Saturday round set a new Royal Portrush record since the course was renovated in 2016.
Just shows you how fickle golf is,” said Lowry – who lost full exempt status on the PGA Tour last year due to poor play. “Golf is a weird sport, and you never know what’s around the corner.”
The SuperBook said Lowry wasn’t in the top 10 in either ticket count or money wagered.
Just as surprising as Lowry’s good play was Rory McIlroy’s dismal 79 in the first round. The consensus betting favorite, the Northern Irishman began his Open with a quadruple-bogey eight on the first hole.
McIlroy bounced back with a solid round of 65 on Friday, but it wasn’t enough to make the cut. Rory was first or second in money wagered and ticket counts at several Las Vegas sportsbooks. All of those funds are now the property of the book.
However, if McIlroy couldn’t win the Claret Jug himself in his native homeland, Lowry was the next best thing for McIlroy.
“Even though last week wasn’t the week I had envisaged for myself, I couldn’t be happier and more proud of Shane Lowry,” McIlroy said on Instagram. “How he handled everything over the weekend…. emotions, nerves and conditions tells you everything I’ve gotten to know about him over the past 15 years. 2019 Champion Golfer of the Year! Enjoy some good stuff out of the Claret Jug!”
Open Win for Oddsmakers
Brooks Koepka printed the most tickets and generated the most money wagered at the SuperBook. McIlroy was second in both categories.
McIlroy was also the favorite in a variety of player one-on-one matchups including against Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Koepka, Jon Rahm, and Woods. Rory lost them all other than versus Woods.
The Open concludes golf’s four majors in 2019. Oddsmakers are already looking to 2020.
Odds for the Masters has Koepka the favorite at 10/1. He’s followed closely by defending green jacket winner Woods and DJ at 12/1. McIlroy, who only needs a win at Augusta National to complete his career grand slam, is next at 14/1. He shares that line with Jordan Spieth – the 2015 Masters winner who finally found some form at The Open following nearly two years of struggle.
Lowry will arrive in Georgia as the latest major winner. He’s at 80/1 for the Masters, the same odds as last week for The Open.
Vice detectives in Long Beach, Calif. disrupted an illegal gambling operation being run out of a residence on July 19, seizing four gaming machines, four firearms, ammunition and $2,000 in cash. The bust resulted in three arrests.
Four gaming machines seized in a raid on an illegal gambling den in Long Beach, Calif. (Image: LBPD)
Authorities did not specify the nature of the gaming machines found at the residence on the 1400 block of Cherry Avenue, but a photo provided to Casino.org by the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) indicates that at least two of the machines appear to be the fish table game, often a hallmark of illegal gambling enterprises.
Upon arrival, officers contacted a large group of subjects inside the residence,” according to LBPD. “While conducting the search warrant, officers seized four large illegal gambling machines, four firearms, ammunition and approximately $2,000 in U.S. currency.”
The department did not give details about how many people were discovered at the location or the types of firearms that were found there because the investigation is ongoing. Another photograph acquired by Casino.org indicates the four firearms were three pistols and a rifle.
The three arrests included two men and a woman. Each were taken into custody on multiple felony charges.
Roland Amrikhas, 37, of Santa Ana, Calif. was arrested for illegal possession of a firearm and illegal possession of ammunition, He is currently in Long Beach City Jail on bail of $35,000.
Anh Ngo, 29, of Fountain Valley, Calif. and Rouet Nay, 46, of Long Beach, were taken into custody on charges of gambling stakes. Both are being held in Long Beach City Jail on bail of $10,000.
The case is expected to be referred to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office early this week and the trio could face more charges once the DA examines the evidence.
In California, the illegal gambling stakes law and applies to the illicit operation of a range of activities, including traditional table games like blackjack, poker and roulette to being in possession of gaming devices, such as fish machines. First time offenders in the Golden State can face up to $1,000 in fines, six months in jail or both, according to state law.
Illegal possession of a firearm in the largest US state can carry jail time of up to three years and stiffer sentences for previously convicted felons.
California is home to about 100 cardrooms and more than 60 tribal casinos, but despite those legitimate properties being accessible by car for many Californians, the state still has a vibrant black market for gambling.
Just this year, authorities in Orange County broke up illegal gambling rings in Buena Park and Santa Ana while the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) took down an unauthorized gaming establishment in Koreatown in March.
Jennifer De Prez, a spokeswoman for LBPD, said the July 19 arrests were the first related illegitimate gambling in the Long Beach this year.
Legitimate tribal gaming in California generates approximately $8 billion in revenue per year, according to the state’s legislative analyst’s office.
Jocelyn Agnellini Allison, previously a regional vice president for marketing for Caesars Entertainment Corp. in New Jersey, is suing her former employer and Caesars Enterprise Services.
Caesars Atlantic City. A former employee is suing the gaming company for discrimination, among other issues. (Image: Play NJ)
Allison claims that she was discriminated against because she’s a woman, that she was retaliated against for calling attention to a romantic encounter between a high-ranking male executive and a subordinate, and that the gaming company created a hostile work environment.
Her suit was filed in federal district court of New Jersey. The plaintiff, a Caesars employee for 21 years until her firing in February, is seeking compensatory, economic and punitive damages as well as court costs and legal fees, but court documents do not specify the exact dollar amount she’s seeking.
Allison’s direct superiors at Caesars were Regional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Joseph Schatz and Regional President Kevin Ortzman.
In Atlantic City, New Jersey’s casino gambling center, Caesars owns three gaming properties – its namesake venue, Bally’s Atlantic City and Harrah’s.
Problems Started In 2017
According to the suit, the beginning of the end for Agnellini Allison at Caesars started in May 2017. That’s when Allison received two reports of Ortzman making out with a female subordinate following a work function and that other employees felt uncomfortable witnessing that encounter.
Allison made a complaint to Caesars regarding Ortzman’s “unlawful sexual act” and when Ortzman got wind of the complaint, he promised “there would be hell to pay” for whomever ratted him out, according to the suit.
She subsequently reported Ortzman’s threat to higher ups at Caesars, but court documents indicate the former employee believes the “defendants failed to take corrective and remedial action.”
From late May 2017 onward, Allison’s status at Caesars rapidly deteriorated. The plaintiff alleges her superiors at Caesars subsequently diminished and ignored her, intentionally excluded her from emails and staff meetings relevant to her role at the company and bypassed her to issue work requests to her subordinates that should have been her wheelhouse.
Allison’s suit claims that she was treated in a “hostile and dismissive manner” and that the defendants believed her role at the gaming company was non-essential and should be eliminated.
After her May 2017 complaints about Ortzman’s alleged make-out session with the female staffer, Allison was left off executive team thank-you emails, experienced canceled one-on-one meetings with higher ranking executives, and said she did not receive holiday gifts.
Fighting For Women
Her claim against her former employer also maintains that Caesars does not have an adequate number of female staffers, particularly in higher-ranking roles. The suit additionally says another staffer that complained about Ortzman’s 2017 encounter with the female subordinate was also terminated in February.
The plaintiff asserts Caesars upper management either participated in or was indifferent to violations of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). Caesars has until July 26 to respond to the suit.
The budget for Las Vegas Stadium, the Strip venue that will host games for the NFL’s Raiders, is on the rise to $1.9 billion from initial projection of $1.8 billion after officials recently signed off on $40 million in new construction to install more pricier seating options.
Las Vegas Stadium where the budget has inched up to $1.9 billion. (Image: Raiders.com)
Last week, the stadium authority board approved the addition of 20 more luxury suites and field-level club seating, reports the Associated Press.
Las Vegas Stadium, which will be operated by entertainment company AEG, is getting $750 million in funding from local taxpayers. In addition to Raiders games, the venue will also be the home stadium for UNLV football. For football games, capacity there is expected to be 65,000 seats.
At $1.9 billion, the budget for Las Vegas Stadium exceeds that of the recently opened Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, but is well below that of the $4.9 billion property being built in Los Angeles to accommodate the Chargers and Rams.
It was recently reported that Las Vegas Stadium passed the halfway point in its construction and is on pace to be operational prior to the start of the 2020 NFL season.
A Boon For The Strip
The opening of the stadium and the addition of an NFL franchise to Las Vegas is expected to be a boon for the city’s gaming and leisure companies and could lead to a flurry of new development in the area. The stadium, situated between Hacienda Avenue and Russell Road at the south end of the Strip, is near MGM’s Aria, Bellagio and Mirage, the Cosmopolitan and seveal Caesars properties, among others.
The Raiders’ eight regular season home games are expected to be a driving factor in luring more visitors to Sin City and if the team improves, there is the potential for up to two playoff games per year. Although the Raiders have yet to play a game in the city, Las Vegas is already seeing some benefit of being an NFL town as the league formally announced it will host the 2020 draft there.
AEG’s goal is to have Las Vegas Stadium host 46 events per year, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The paper notes that Raiders and UNLV football games would combine for 16 of those events, leaving another 30 events to be filled.
AEG officials could look to position the stadium as a venue for neutral site college games held early in the season, something that has been a money maker for glitzy football properties in cities such as Atlanta and Dallas. The stadium will also host the Las Vegas Bowl, which has been held at UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium since 1992.
A new venue and adjustments to the game’s participants, including matching two teams from major conferences, could bring more fans to the competition and that means more visitors to Las Vegas.
Last year, the NCAA relaxed some of its rules on holding competitions in states where sports betting is legal, saying it will allow championship or tournament games to be held in those places in the future. That could put Las Vegas Stadium in the mix to host the Final Four down the road.
More than 10,000 construction jobs have been created as a result of Las Vegas Stadium, providing a solid, non-gaming boost to the local economy. Once the venue is up and running, it is estimated its annual economic could reach $620 million with about 6,000 jobs permanent jobs being created.
If the stadium is ever selected to host the Super Bowl, the economic benefit to Las Vegas, though it would be a one-off event, could top $1 billion, according to some estimates.
Manny Pacquiao didn’t just beat Keith Thurman on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He also beat Father Time to claim the WBA Super Welterweight title.
Keith Thurman may have landed more punches in his fight against Manny Pacquiao Saturday, but Pacquiao delivered more punches that mattered in claiming the split-decision victory. (Image: John Locher/Associated Press)
At age 40, when most boxers have long since been retired, Pacquiao, the only fighter to ever claim titles in eight divisions, remains among the sport’s elite. Saturday’s win, his 19th in a title fight, made him the oldest welterweight champion and the fifth-oldest boxer to win a world title in any division.
To do so, he took 192 punches from his younger opponent, the most CompuBox has recorded in the 43 Pacquiao fights its tracked. Pacquiao landed just 113, but he delivered the key blows in the match, including a body shot in the 10th round that made Thurman shudder.
In the post-fight press conference, Pacquiao (62-7-2) ranked it among his top performances.
Legendary trainer Freddy Roach, a long-time member of Pacquiao’s camp, said the champion prepared well in leading up to Saturday’s bout.
“It was a great win,” Roach said. “I thought he did really well in the fight.”
Pacquiao entered the flight a slight favorite in the sportsbooks, but oddsmakers initially made Thurman the favorite when the fight was announced earlier this year.
Winning the Fight Early
Pacquiao won the fight by split decision in going all 12 rounds, but he won it in many people’s eyes early. In the first round, he used a stirring combination to knock down Thurman for the first time in the 30-year-old’s career.
The start was the exact opposite of what Thurman touted leading up to the bout. In fact, he said on camera that he would bet on himself knocking out Pacquiao early.
Instead, Thurman ended up losing for the first time in 30 professional bouts.
I’ve always said I’m not afraid to let my 0 go, if you can beat me — beat me,” Thurman tweeted after the bout. “@MannyPacquiao beat me tonight. Hats off to the Senator on a great performance.”
Thurman did recover from the first-round knockdown and seemed to win at least a couple of the middle rounds. However, the fact that he won the fight in the eyes of judge Glenn Feldman seemed to shock most pundits and fans.
He scored it 114-113 for Thurman, while the other two judges scored it 115-112 for Pacquiao. Boxing uses a 10-point scoring system, where judges give the boxer 10 points for each round they won. Typically, the opponent gets nine points in a losing round, although judges deduct a point for each knockdown.
“It’s certainly NOT the first time veteran boxing judge Glenn Feldman has been on the ‘odd’ side of judging a fight,” tweeted Chris Maathuis, sports director of KLAS-TV in Las Vegas. “But he gave 6 of the last 7 rounds to Thurman. I don’t think Thurman’s corner gave him 6 of the last 7.”
Up Next for Pacquiao?
Pacquiao isn’t just a fighter. He’s also an elected official serving in the Senate in his native Philippines. That’s where he plans to spend the next few months, he told reporters after the match. However, that doesn’t mean his boxing career is close to wrapping up.
“I can give a good fight,” he said. “I can entertain the fans.”
In all likelihood, Pacquiao, who also beat Adrien Broner in January, is done for 2019. His next likely challenger could come from the winner of the Errol Spence Jr.-Shawn Porter fight on Sept. 28 in Los Angeles. Spence (25-0, 21 KOs) holds the IBF welterweight belt. Porter (30-2-1, 17 KOs) reigns as the WBC’s champion in the weight class.
Pacquiao told reporters he would attend the fight at The Forum.
There’s also the possibility of fighting Amir Khan, although initial reports about a fight happening in November appear to be premature.
The renovation of the casino formerly known as The Stratosphere will coincide with a “shift of energy” back towards the north side of the Strip, Macquarie hospitality analyst Chad Beynon told the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week.
The Stratosphere’s transformation into The STRAT coincides with a number of projects that should attract new footfall to the north side of the Strip, which has been neglected since the abandonment of developments there during the recession. (Image: Las Vegas Weekly)
New owners Golden Entertainment have rebranded the Stratosphere to “The STRAT Hotel, Casino and Skypod” as part of an ongoing $140 million revamp that hopes to zhuzh up a property that has suffered from two decades of underinvestment, and from being situated in the “wrong” part of the Strip.
But analysts said the renovations will help to invigorate not just the STRAT but the whole north side of the Strip, and vice versa. That’s because the overhaul is scheduled for completion in 2021 — a time when several projects will either be up and running, or close to completion, in an area where development has been largely stagnant since before the recession.
The King in the North
Genting’s $4 billion, 3,400-room Resorts World Las Vegas is scheduled open next year and is expected to attract more international visitors to the north Strip, reflecting the global footprint of the Genting brand.
Meanwhile, 2022 will see the completion of the Drew Las Vegas — a casino resort that’s currently being remodelled from the shiny blue wreck of the Fontainebleau, which was abandoned ten years ago at the height of the global financial crisis.
The Drew promises retail, nightlife and more than 550,000 square feet of exhibition and meeting space, bringing much-needed conventioneers to the north Strip.
And the SLS is splurging $150 million on renovations that involve changing its name back to the Sahara and getting rid of the weird blob man in the forecourt, which should help.
Brent Pirosch, director of gaming consulting for CBRE’s Global Gaming Group, described the STRAT renovations as “defensive spending” – a necessary component of staying competitive in the face of emerging competition.
But Brad Goldberg, senior vice president of marketing and entertainment for Golden Entertainment, told LVRJ that “a rising tide lifts all ships,” when referring to competing developments in the area. He sees a bright future for a district that has suffered from a lack of footfall for years.
Beyond the Stratosphere
The STRAT has always done a brisk trade as a no-frills hotel for vacationers on the cheap, and its picture-postcard observation tower has never struggled to attract visitors – more than a million visited the casino last year – but the challenge is getting them to stick around.
Hotel guests tend to use the STRAT as budget base for hitting the Strip, while visitors to the observation tower see it as part of a whistle-stop tour of Las Vegas, bu they don’t tend to hang around to eat or gamble.
That’s something Golden Entertainment is determined to change, with an emphasis on food and entertainment, while keeping room prices low.
Analysts point out that the north Strip’s new developments — The STRAT, Resorts World, SLS and The Drew — are all differentiating on demographic, price point, and themes, and that can only bode well for attracting footfall to the most neglected part of North Las Vegas Boulevard.
Why did comedian Doug Stanhope give the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino a one-star rating on Yelp?
A letter Doug Stanhope received last month said he’s persona non grata at Caesars Entertainment establishments. The comedian claims the ban stems from a one-star review he gave the Rio earlier this year. (Image: Improv.com/Irvine)
“Because who reads a two-star review? It’s just business,” he wrote in his February review of the Las Vegas hotel.
According to Stanhope, Caesars Entertainment allegedly decided it wants none of Stanhope’s business anymore. On Saturday, the comedian posted on his Twitter feed a letter dated June 27 that he claims he received via certified mail at his Arizona residence. The letter, which he maintains was generically from “Caesars management,” reportedly said that he engaged in conduct the gaming company considered inappropriate.
Stanhope claims the ban came because of the bad reviews he posted on Yelp and Trip Advisor. A message to Caesars officials was not returned over the weekend.
A touring professional for nearly 30 years, Stanhope got his start in comedy in Las Vegas. His bio notes he served as host of both The Man Show on Comedy Central and a video in the controversial Girls Gone Wild series, “both solely and shamelessly for financial gain,” it says.
Known for his dark humor, he’s had four comedy albums top the Billboard comedy charts.
In his Yelp review, Stanhope described the Rio as dated.
The Rio is like being in 1986” he wrote. “By that I mean it’s like you were still driving your 1986 Ford Tempo 33 years later, held together with gaffer’s tape and surgical mesh, riding on the rusted rims. Vegas isn’t what it used to be, anyone who’s come here over the last two or three decades can attest. The Rio isn’t even what it was when they last updated their Expedia page.”
He also said the Rio had not updated signage nor its listing of dining options. The comedian claims he observed room service trays and piles of garbage that remained on the floor — much like his manager, who apparently slept outside Stanhope’s room one night.
Not everything was bad though, he said. He spent six days in a 1,600-square-foot suite with a view of the Strip at less than $200 a night. Entertainment options — featuring magicians Penn & Teller and The Comedy Cellar with Mark Cohen — were also good.
But Stanhope criticized the resort’s rewards program for not giving him enough comps.
“I’ve gambled less at other casinos and been offered free rooms, my own private concierge and amenities too numerous to count,” he said. “Here I got half-off a buffet.”
Several of Stanhope’s fans and followers responded to his tweet noting that his comments accurately described the Rio.
Do Not Enter
So, what does being banned by Caesars mean here?
Well for starters, Stanhope claims the letter states that he’s no longer allowed to enter a Caesars, Harrah’s, or Horseshoe property, as well as all others owned by Caesars Entertainment, which is pursuing a merger with Eldorado Resorts.
The Rio, of course, is on the list, as is Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, and The Linq Hotel and Casino. So, too, is Bluegrass Downs, a harness track in Paducah, Ky. And while Bally’s Las Vegas made the count, Bally’s Tunica is inexplicably excluded from the exclusion list.
Banishment also reportedly includes the loss of all perks he’s acquired as a Total Rewards member. In addition, he says the company warned that should he make his way into a Caesars-owned gaming facility, place a bet, and then win before being detected, those winnings may be forfeited, except in Nevada and other states that outlaw such tactics.
If this is a legit claim, then Caesars’ decision means Stanhope won’t be able to visit the JACK Thistledown Racino when he has his scheduled appearance at the nearby Cleveland Improv on Sept. 22. It would also keep him away from Harrah’s New Orleans when he visits the city’s The Howlin’ Wolf on Oct. 12.
Or the whole thing could just be a publicity stunt, because he is, after all, a comedian.
California tribal operator the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi is facing lawsuit a from Wells Fargo for allegedly violating agreements on a $250 million loan in an effort to avoid repayments, The Fresno Bee reports.
Wells Fargo claim the Chukchansi would not have been able to reopen their casino, after it was shutdown following an armed standoff in 2014, without the help of a $250 million loan, taken out two years earlier. (Image: Chukchansi Gold)
The Chukchansi took out the loan in 2012 to refinance debt for its Chukchansi Gold Casino in Coarsegold, 40 miles north of Fresno.
In 2014, the casino was the focus of an armed takeover by a rival faction within the tribe and was subsequently shuttered by the federal government for over a year.
The Chukchansi have been criticized for liberally employing the controversial practise of disenrollment — stripping political rivals of their tribal rights and identities — as different factions squabble for control of the casino and its profits.
According to the lawsuit filed in the New York State Supreme Court this week, under the terms of the loan the tribe would pay casino revenues into a deposit account, which it could withdraw to fund gambling operations and make certain tribal member distribution payments. Anything left over was expected to go towards twice-yearly repayments to Wells Fargo.
But the bank claims that, instead, the Chukchansi Economic Development Association (CEDA) began “illegally” stockpiling money that should have gone to making payments on the loan as far back as 2013.
The bank contends that the tribe, having lived without casino revenues during the casino shutdown, would not have been able to reopen in 2015 without drawing on funds from the loan.
The complaint further accuses the tribe of creating an affiliate lender which made a $2 million loan to CEDA.
CEDA used the money, plus another $12 million it had stockpiled in the deposit account, to make payments to other lenders who had helped finance the reopening of the casino and additional improvements to the property.
Wells Fargo is seeking relief to avoid future “irreparable harm” from loan violations, plus monetary damages.
“Every dollar CEDA diverts from the deposit accounts is a dollar of collateral lost to the trustee and holders forever and a dollar that will never be available to make payments on secured notes,” reads the lawsuit.
The Chukchansi disenrolled at least 60 tribal members last month, a move critics described as attack on its own people, motivated by greed for casino profits.
Disenrollment not only strips tribal members of access to casino distribution payments but also often things like housing and healthcare. The practise ostensibly exists to correct tribal rolls and preserve the integrity of the tribe, but it is also too often wielded as a political or economic weapon.
Since the casino opened in 2003, the tribe has disenrolled more than half its members, including those with documented ancestry and some of the last native speakers of the Chukchansi language.
Macau will celebrate its 20th anniversary as an autonomous region of China in December, but the recent protests in nearby Hong Kong over the 2019 extradition bill are raising serious security concerns on the safety of People’s Republic President Xi Jinping attending the ceremony.
Widespread protests in Hong Kong could keep China President Xi Jinping from attending Macau’s 20th anniversary of return to the People’s Republic. (Image: Kim Cheung/AP)
The South China Morning Post says top Chinese officials are conducting a security probe to determine whether Xi could be properly secured should the country’s top leader attend the anniversary events. Lawmakers in Hong Kong – a Special Administrative Region (SAR) like Macau that are self-governing jurisdictions that aren’t considered to be officially part of mainland China – are considering legislation that would allow fugitives to be transferred to the People’s Republic.
According to the SCMP, “Sources say at this stage Beijing still believes the crisis is best left for the Hong Kong government to handle and it should not get directly involved. The principles of avoiding bloodshed and keeping the city ‘largely stable’ remain unchanged.”
Millions of Hong Kong residents have joined in on protests against the extradition bill. The legislation is viewed as China gaining unreasonable power over the SAR.
Macau was under Portuguese control until 1999 when it was returned to China as a special area separate of the mainland. The region’s lifeline is its casinos, which won more than $37.8 billion last year.
Xi said in January he would be present for the 20th anniversary celebration. Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said he would be, too.
Hong Kong and the world’s richest gaming hub Macau are the only two Special Administrative Regions in China. The National People’s Congress Basic Law affords the two enclaves a high degree of autonomy, separate government, and capitalistic economy under the so-called “one country, two systems” arrangement.
Other than diplomatic relations and national defense, Hong Kong and Macau are self-sustaining jurisdictions. Those who live in the areas cherish their quasi-independence, and efforts such as the extradition law are typically widely opposed.
The bill was introduced after a 19-year-old Hong Kong resident admitted to killing his pregnant girlfriend while in Taiwan. Police in the enclave haven’t been able to charge him with murder due to a legal loophole or move him to Taiwan where he’s wanted because no extradition law is in place.
The 2019 legislation would allow Hong Kong authorities to transfer alleged criminals to China, Macau, and Taiwan.
The enclave is amid a renaissance of sorts following Xi’s crackdown on VIP junket groups. Casino resorts are now catering to more of the mass market, offering numerous non-gaming attractions and investing in new convention and exhibition space.
Last year’s opening of the Hong Kong to Macau bridge, a 34-mile expanse across the Pearl River Delta that drastically cuts vehicle travel from roughly four hours to 30 minutes is allowing more visitation from the general public. But some believe making Macau less isolated is also a threat to its SAR status.