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Inside Gaming: Macau's Record Revenues, Las Vegas Hilton's New Name, and More

Inside Gaming

The gaming industry spent the week before New Year's Eve planning one of the biggest nights of any casino's year. But in between the stage building, countdown practicing, and cage stocking, casino executives found time to set in motion some big changes for 2012. New year, new start, new record, new name, new deals, new rooms. Of course, most of it is the same old, same old.

New Revenue Record for Macau

OK, so there isn't really anything new about Macau raking in the patacas, but another year end means another annual revenue record for gaming's golden goose. Macau casinos brought in 268 billion patacas ($33.5 billion) in gross gaming revenue in 2011, a 42 percent increase over 2010. Year-over-year December revenue grew 25 percent according to the Chinese Special Administrative Region's Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. Macau pulled in about 5.5 times the gaming revenue of Las Vegas.

Although it sounds like enough dough to make it rain like a hurricane, gaming stocks have felt the effects of fear that growth is slowing down to parallel a slowdown in the Chinese economy. Next year's success depends on Chinese whales being able to get credit lines to "invest" in the baccarat tables.

Bloomberg and the Las Vegas Review-Journal have more on the story.

New Owner for Social Gaming Company Playtika

Caesars Entertainment Corp. bought 51 percent of social gaming program developer Playtika in May, and after months of testing the waters, last week, Caesars acquired the other 49 percent. The Israeli gaming technology company created Slotomania, the most popular slots game on Facebook, with about 10 million monthly users. Caesars paid between $80 and $90 million for the first half of the company and the right to purchase the other half at a later date.

"2012 is going to be a very big year for Playtika…we will concentrate on Playtika's competitive advantage and on widening its activity on social networks other than Facebook," said Mitch Gerber, CEO of Caesars Interactive. "Caesars Interactive and Playtika will be focusing on Asia in the upcoming year."

Playtika's investors include 888 Holdings Plc CEO Gigi Levy. Caesars partnered with 888 to operate its online gaming sites in March.

Games Blog has details on the latest sale, and Israeli site Globes offers interesting insight into the May deal.

New Name and Management Structure for Las Vegas Hilton

On Jan. 3, the Las Vegas Hilton officially became the LVH-Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. The hotel's licensing deal with Hilton Worldwide ran out at the end of the year, and the international hotel chain declined to renew it. Check out previous Inside Gaming stories on the need for the name change here and here.

LVH, owned by Colony Capital LLC, was foreclosed on by primary lenders Goldman Sachs Mortgage Company and Gramercy Capital Corp. Goldman Sachs has owned The Stratosphere, a neighboring casino on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip, since 2008 and will take control of LVH by the end of January. Ronald Johnson was appointed to oversee the hotel operations last month but now is set to take control of the entire property, including the casino.

LVRJ breaks down the name change and the new management.

New Applicant for NV Gaming License

Aristocrat Technologies Inc. added its name to the list of companies to apply for a license to offer real money online poker in Nevada. Aristocrat is the sixth company to apply to be a licensed platform provider. One casino, South Point, has applied to be an online gaming site operator. The Nevada Gaming Commission approved new regulations that allow for licensing on Dec. 22.

Aristocrat, a subsidiary of Australian company Aristocrat Leisure Ltd., joins International Game Technology, Cantor Gaming, Shuffle Master, Bally Technologies, and Caesars Entertainment in applying for a provider license. Approvals are expected in the next three months.

Aristocrat CEO Nick Khin said the company's platform "allows our clients to market a virtual casino to its customers to play for free. When the law changes it will allow them to move into a play for real-money site."

Learn more at Casino City Times.

New Rooms for Caesars Palace

Caesars Palace opened its much anticipated Octavius Tower on Monday, adding 668 luxury rooms to the casino's existing 3,300 rooms and suites. After pressing pause on the "boutique" hotel tower for three years during the economic downturn, Caesars Entertainment resumed construction and started taking reservations for the 19-story tower in September. Rooms in January range from $325 to $789 a night.

For a quick tour, watch this video from KTNV.

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