BUSINESS

Xenophon cries foul; Star Casino settles with ABC; investors short Echo Ent.

TAGs: Australia, Echo Entertainment, James Packer, Nick Xenophon, Star Casino

australia-xenophon-star-casinoWednesday’s revelation that the Australian government has been consulting with betting operators about offering online poker and extending in-play betting to the online realm has anti-everything Senator Nick Xenophon wondering what else Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s minions have been up to. The Australian quoted Xenophon (pictured right, proof that your mother was right when she warned that if you didn’t stop making that face, your face would freeze that way) saying the gov’t had engaged in “secret talks” to enable the online gambling biz “to diversify their addictive product to suck in more Australians.” Xenophon said he would file freedom of information requests to determine what other secret talks may have been going on behind his back. Then, if he has time, he hopes to determine if the gov’t has known all along where this Waldo character was hiding.

Sydney’s Star Casino has won a $190k out-of-court settlement with ABC after the broadcaster admitted using confidential Star information in an on-air report. The April 16 report cited names and gambling habits of seven of the Star’s biggest whales derived from the casino’s internal database. In taking ABC to court, the Star had argued that the “highly prized” database contained “highly confidential and commercially sensitive” info. ABC countered that the public had a right to know what was going on at the Star, which was at the time of the broadcast still the subject of an inquiry by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority. The Sydney Morning Herald quoted ABC news director Alan Sunderland as saying the settlement was made in order to protect the broadcaster’s sources. As part of the deal, ABC has promised not to re-air the offending material and to destroy the confidential casino info within a week.

Star Casino parent company Echo Entertainment has reportedly become the target of short sellers who aren’t convinced that rival operator Crown is serious about a takeover. Crown boss James Packer is said to covet Echo’s monopoly casino license in Sydney, but The Australian quoted RBS analysts saying short positions in Echo have been building ever since February, when Crown doubled its stake in Echo to 10%. Apparently, Packer’s recent public bro-mance with fellow billionaire Kerry Stokes – renowned for never paying more than absolutely necessary to acquire a company – tipped the prognosticators’ view from bullish to bearish on a Crown/Echo tie-up.

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