Phuket island ‘casino’ raided; Crown and Genting team up on Echo bid?

TAGs: Crown Ltd., Echo Entertainment, Genting, phuket, thailand

crown-genting-echo-bid-phuket-casinoThe Australian media is buzzing with rumors about a linkup between Crown Ltd.’s James Packer and Genting’s K.T. Lim to gain control of Echo Entertainment and its monopoly license on casinos in Sydney. Both parties currently hold around 10% of Echo, and both have applied to New South Wales regulators to boost the ceiling on their Echo holdings. While the pair are presumed to be rivals, current scuttlebutt has the pair pooling their stake to acquire control of Echo, then either (a) going splits on Packer’s long-dreamed-about Barangaroo casino project in Sydney, or (b) letting Packer go it alone in Barangaroo while Genting takes over Crown’s Jupiters Casinos in Queensland (Genting was an early investor in Jupiters). Then again, the whole ‘teamwork’ theory could be complete bullshit and the two parties are actually preparing to engage in a pricey bit of gamesmanship over who’ll win the exclusive right to bring Chinese high-rollers to Sydney.

Charoen Pokphand Group billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont may be lobbying Thai politicians to horn in on Macau’s action by legalizing casinos, but until that day arrives, casinos in Thailand remain targets for police, not Chinese high-rollers. This week, around 60 officers staged a mini-recreation of D-Day by making an amphibious landing on Rang Noi, a small island off the east coast of Phuket, after a tipoff that a private developer was building an illegal casino there. Once on the island, police found a number of partially constructed buildings, but no sign of gaming equipment. The Phuket News reported that the roughly six-acre property was previously owned by a company called Bridge Rang Noi, until it was sold in March 2012 to Kan Krao, a company owned by three Thais, for B38b (US $1.2b). As part of the deal, a 30-year lease on the property was given to Bridge Rang Noi board member John Kevin Baldwin, an American who reportedly has ties to the Savan Vagas Casino in the Laotian province of Savannakhet. A lawyer for Kan Krao has denied the development has any casino connection.

Sticking with Thailand, remember that photo of police apparently engaging in some unauthorized play with seized gambling equipment? Permsak Wongvila, the 35-year-old bail bondsman who posted the photo to his Facebook profile, has been charged with libel. Pattaya People claimed the officers in question had accepted Wongvila’s apology, but a senior officer decided an example had to be made. Damn… If either of the two guys in the video below were Thai policemen, the video editors would be swinging from palm trees by now…


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