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CR62-p26&27-Comment:SJC-Casino Review 25/11/07 01:32 Page 1
“The euphoria exhibited in Manchester when it was successful now “Taiwan’s market potential for casino gaming
seems a long time ago. The amount of money expended by revenue, in the context of large-scale integrated
operators, developers and local authorities in bidding for the Regional resort and tourism development, is significant. It
Casino must run into millions of pounds. Many will feel that the ‘spin would take several years and billions of dollars of
of the wheel’ has gone against them in the process that has meant, public and private sector investment to make Taiwan,
in a matter of years, the government has gone from recommending or one of its islands, into a premiere leisure tourism
an unlimited number of casinos to a final position where we are destination such as Macau.”
expecting the regional to become extinct altogether. “ Jonathan Galaviz, a partner at Las Vegas
Paddy Whur, head of gaming unit, Walker Morris based consultancy firm Globalysis.
Will operator
interest match
Grand ambitions?
Since the birth of Casino Review some 62
months ago, there have been some pretty
spectacular casino-led projects launched,
as everywhere from Las Vegas to Singapore
aims to build must-see destinations to
boost not just the coffers of the casino
owner but also government tax receipts and
the economies in which they are located as
a whole. Phil Martin looks at the latest.
much for the visitor to take in.
Had the project called for just
one casino, operators would no
doubt be snatching the planner’s
hands off to sign up to a commit-
Then there’s the ambition of
the business plan, which calls for
visitor levels of 25m a year.
Bearing in mind that Disneyland
Could the birth of a
Paris attracted 10.6m people in
2006, the extent of the project’s
ambition is evidently apparent.
wowfactor Then there’s the theming.
poker star symbolise a
VIEWPOINT Several of the themes that have
proved popular in Las Vegas,
Some of the most awe inspiring, such as Ancient Rome, Egypt
new wave of players
such as a man made island off and Paris, are present but some
the shore of Monte Carlo or the seem a little awkward. Operators
Moon Casino Resort, haven’t must apply for a few themes in pokerace
quite seen the light of day, yet. order of preference but there are FIRST PERSON
Whilst others such as Euro no assurances that they will get
Vegas, a huge multi-entertain- the theme at the top of their wish BY PHIL MARTIN
ment complex in the Hungarian list. Some themes are clearly The internet is responsible for many things, one of the
wastelands, are still being talked better than others. most pertinent for the casino sector is the creation of a
about. The idea of bringing Las Casino developer Steve Wynn new style of poker player. Learning to play in private,
Vegas to Europe has fascinated was critical of the tender online, has slashed the imitation hurdle for new players
many a project planner over the process in Singapore for being to an all time low with one of the resultant factors being
last few years. The most recent, too restrictive on the operator. the emergence of a new generation of female poker
an elaborate plan destined for Grand Scala will have to be players. The most successful of those is, of course,
Aragon in central Spain, was careful not to do the same. The Annette Obrestad, a name that most in the casino sector
launched at the Global Gaming concept of casinos as museums will have heard. She shot to poker stardom on Septem-
Expo in Las Vegas and has is certainly interesting but the ber 17 this year winning the inaugural World Series of
upped the ante somewhat in whole issue of children any- Poker Europe Main Event one day before her 19th birth-
terms of ambition. where near casinos clearly day. By winning the £1m first prize she scooped the
With a working name of Gran needs addressing. The ambition highest ever payout to a female player set previously in
Scala, it aims to bring 32 themed of the overall project is huge as it 2004. As of 2007, her total live tournament winnings
casinos to life as the centre aims to cater to the tastes of exceeded $2,400,000 and in just a few months she has
piece of a much bigger project absolutely every age group from amassed more headlines than most poker stars do in
comprising theme parks, water children to the elderly. Yet jug- their entire career. It might not make great headlines for
parks, racing tracks, shops, gling all age groups will take the gaming industry but Obrestad launched her poker
nightclubs, restaurants, spas, some skill. Las Vegas struggled career online when she was only just 15 years old using 180 person online sit-and-go where she played the
outdoor pursuits. In fact, you with kids when it aimed to be the online screen-name Annette_15. Legend has it she entire tournament without looking at her cards, except
name it and Grand Scala has more family focused a few years never had to deposit money online, instead making her one time when she faced an all-in bet. She did this to
probably already written it into ago and has recently gone all out initial online bankroll by winning freeroll poker tourna- demonstrate the importance of playing position and to
its plans. On the casino side, on lavish adult nightlife. ments. It was evident early on that she wouldn’t need to paying attention to the players at the table. Born in
there are several things that stick The launch of Grand Scala be depositing money to play as between September Vietnam she was adopted when she was about nine,
out, firstly the sheer size of the certainly turned heads and set 2006 and February 2007 she won over $500,000 on Pok- therefore the misleading last name. Whilst her family
project. Whether 32 casinos, tongues wagging and operator erstars, $200,000 on UltimateBet, and $136,000 on Full doesn’t approve of gambling, the more Obrestad wins
each with 1,250 slot machines, interest is reportedly rife and if it Tilt Poker. Having mastered her art online, Obrestad the more they must surely recognise that success in
making them super casinos in comes off, would be a huge coup moved into bricks and mortar and promptly brought the poker requires a high degree of skill, as well as the luck
UK terms, can operate in such for Spain and a massive boost to house down with her success. Following on from her of the draw. Undoubtedly in the near future, there will be
close proximity as each other the casino sector. The pessimist WSOP bracelet, she came close to achieving her second more of Annette Obrestad’s new breed of poker player
and each remain profitable is inside me can’t help but think a major live title in November of 2007, finishing in second taking part in tournaments across the globe. And as the
doubtful. Few people visit 32 scaled down version on the place winning 297,800 euros along the way at the 2007 intimidation factor continues to fold in poker, casinos
casinos when in Las Vegas and casino side at least might make European Poker Tour Dublin event will be hoping this spells for a new generation of player
so there could very well be too more business sense. She’s certainly a quirky player. In July 2007, she won a at blackjack and roulette.
26 December 2007 comment
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