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Inside Gaming: Open at Last, MGM Cotai Looks Ahead After First Month

MGM Cotai in Macau
  • Inside Gaming: A peek at the newly-opened MGM Cotai in Macau, and another big March Madness bet.

  • Big Fish Casino games constitute illegal online gambling in Washington says a federal appeals court.

In this week's Inside Gaming, a quick look at Macau's latest property to open, the MGM Cotai, a ruling in Washington state with potential implications for other forms of online gaming, and another big basketball bet.

MGM Cotai to Host G2E Asia, Plans New VIP Club

This week Inside Asian Gaming and G2E Asia announced that Macau's newest integrated resort, the newly-opened MGM Cotai, will be hosting the inaugural G2E Asia Awards on May 15, reports IAG.

The awards will "recognize excellence and innovation within Asian gaming while celebrating the success and outstanding contributions of not only gaming but also the non-gaming aspects of the entertainment industry in Asia."

The announcement comes on the heels of the Tak Chun Group, a Macau-based junket investor, announcing its plan to open a new VIP club at MGM Cotai during the second half of 2018, as GGRAsia reports.

After two year's worth of delays, the $3.4 billion MGM Cotai finally opened in mid-February on the eve of the Chinese New Year. It joins MGM's first Macau property, MGM Macau which opened in 2007.

Situated near the Wynn Palace and City of Dreams, MGM Cotai's architectural design stands out amid a skyline full of eye-catching buildings, resembling silver, gold, and copper Chinese jewelry boxes stacked upon one another.

Having had a chance to explore MGM Cotai last week while in Macau for the APPT Macau series, it is a breathtaking structure. One highlight is the "Spectacle," a four-story high atrium featuring LED walls displaying various natural and artistic settings, and even content generated by visitors.

Inside Gaming: Open at Last, MGM Cotai Looks Ahead After First Month 101
The "Spectacle" inside the MGM Cotai

Even so, according to Forbes, work remains to be done on the property, with only 500 of the 1,390 guest rooms ready for use by the opening, with other amenities (including the VIP rooms) yet to go live.

The resort currently features nine restaurants and bars. Meanwhile the 5,000 square meters of retail space in MGM Cotai — "a cash cow for other Cotai properties," Forbes notes — is less than that of neighboring resorts.

While designed to accommodate 500 gaming tables, the casino at MGM Cotai currently is licensed only for 125, with 25 deferred until 2019. MGM "moved 77 tables from its peninsula property for an opening night total of 177, 165 mass market and 12 for its direct VIP customers."

The opening of MGM Cotai follows the opening of MGM National Harbor in Maryland in late 2016, and comes ahead of the Memorial Day opening of MGM Springfield.

Federal Appeals Court Judge Says Big Fish Casino Games Consitute Illegal Online Gambling

Throughout the United States one can find many examples of establishments offering activities that strongly resemble traditional gambling games yet manage to exploit loopholes or ambiguities in the law in order to exist. One such example has been the popular Big Fish Casino video games, although thanks to a federal appeals court ruling this week, Washington state is one place where those games may not be operating for long.

That's because the Ninth Circuit of U.S. Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled the Big Fish Casino games to constitute "illegal online gambling," GeekWire reports.

Big Fish Casino allows players to use virtual chips to play various games such as slots, roulette, and blackjack. The games offer free chips with which to play, and players can win more chips as well. But they can also purchase chips, which has translated into revenue for developer Big Fish Games.

That factor also spurred a lawsuit against parent company Churchill Downs launched in 2015 by a player who had spent over $1,000 on the games. That lawsuit was tossed out by a U.S. District Court Judge in 2016, a ruling that was reversed this week in federal appeals court.

The "ruling kicks the case back down to district court," although "Churchill Downs could also request to have the case heard in front of a large appeals court panel or petition to argue the case in front of U.S. Supreme Court."

The final ruling could have implications beyond Washington state, including for other mobile game-makers whose games similarly use such "virtual currency."

Michigan Alum and Casino Owner Eyes $1M NCAA Payday

Finally, last week we were sharing some crazy NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament bets that were won and lost during the tournament's opening rounds. The Final Four begins this weekend, and while there are again a number of interesting stories surrounding bets placed on who will win it all, we'll confine ourselves to sharing just one of them.

Derek Stevens, owner and CEO of the D Casino, has made news in the past for his NCAA tournament bets. Just last year the Michigan alumnus bet $12,500 at 80-to-1 at The Golden Nugget for his school to win the title, though his dream of a $1 million payday ended with the Wolverines' loss in the third round.

This year Stevens once again is betting on Michigan, and this time the Wolverines have landed a place in the semifinals (and are in fact a favorite to advance to the finals). As shared by The Detroit Free Press, Stevens again convinced Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta to allow him before the tournament began to bet $25,000 at 40-to-1 on Michigan to win it all.

That means Stevens once more has a shot at a $1 million payday. A press release from the Golden Nugget notes that the largest payout the sportsbook has ever previously made was for $100,000.

While Stevens has been asking his Twitter followers whether he should hedge his bet and ensure himself a profit, he's also talking about what he'd do with the $1 million should Michigan win, saying he'll invest the money in a third Las Vegas casino to go along with the D and the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino.

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