Meetings & Information


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Iran picks on Sheldon Adelson

Dontcha have to wonder if this isn't more of Sheldon Adelson's hysteria simply feeding into an irrational paranoia?

Clark Schultz, SA News Editor

  • A top U.S. security official confirmed to a Senate committee that Iran was behind the hacking incident against Las Vegas Sands (LVS +0.5%) last year.
  • CEO Sheldon Adelson has been vocal in the past on Middle East issues.
  • The breach reportedly cost Las Vegas Sands $40M, although insurance may have covered part of the exposure.
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Iran Behind Cyber-Attack on Adelson’s Sands Corp., Clapper Says

National Intelligence Director James Clapper
James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

(Bloomberg) -- The top U.S. intelligence official confirmed for the first time that Iran was behind a cyber attack against the Las Vegas Sands Corp. last year.

Identifying Iran as the perpetrator came more than a year after the Feb. 10, 2014, attack against the world’s largest gambling company, which crippled many of the computer systems that help run the $14 billion operation. Sands’ chairman and chief executive officer and top shareholder is billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a leading U.S. supporter of Israel and of Republican political candidates.

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday that the attack by Iran, followed by the hacking of Sony Corp. by North Korea in November, marked the first destructive cyber-assaults on the U.S. by nation-states. Iran’s role in the attack that crippled operations at several of Sands’ U.S. casinos was reported in December by Bloomberg Businessweek.
“While both of these nations have lesser technical capabilities in comparison to Russia and China, these destructive attacks demonstrate that Iran and North Korea are motivated and unpredictable cyber-actors,” Clapper said.

He also said the cyberthreat from Russia is “more severe than we have previously assessed,” without elaborating.

Computer attacks such as those by Iran and North Korea are more likely to threaten the U.S. in the future than a single massive assault crippling the country’s infrastructure, he said.

No ‘Cyber-Armageddon’

“Rather than a ‘cyber-Armageddon’ scenario that debilitates the entire U.S. infrastructure, we envision something different,” Clapper said in a report on global threats submitted to the Senate committee. “We foresee an ongoing series of low-to-moderate level cyber-attacks from a variety of sources over time, which will impose cumulative costs on U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.”

Clapper’s report marks a departure from past U.S. warnings about the type of Internet attacks that the country will face. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned in 2012 of a“cyber Pearl Harbor” that could paralyze the country.

Attacks may include not only hacking but “supply-chain operations to insert compromised hardware or software,” Clapper said. At the same time, detection has improved so that attackers can no longer assume that their identities will stay concealed, he said.

Arming Ukraine

At the hearing on worldwide threats, Clapper and the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, clashed with the committee’s chairman, Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, over whether to send defensive weapons to Ukraine in its battle against Russian-backed separatists.

Sending weapons to Ukraine “would not change the military balance of power and it would not get there quickly enough,”Stewart said.

McCain, who has advocated providing arms for months, said“it’s just incredible to believe” that weapons couldn’t be sent quickly or that such a move would provoke Russian President Vladimir Putin when he’s already achieving what he wants in Ukraine.

Findings in Clapper’s wide-ranging summary of a “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community” were less optimistic than positions taken by other Obama administration officials.

On Iraq, where officials have said the U.S. has stopped the momentum of Islamic State extremists, Clapper described a stalemate.

Violent Extremists

Six months of air strikes by the U.S. and allies and limited ground operations have “largely stabilized” Iraq, with no side “able to muster the resources necessary” to meet its objectives, Clapper said.

On terrorism more broadly, Clapper said that “Sunni violent extremists are gaining momentum” and the number of groups “and safe havens is greater than at any other point in history.”

The threat to U.S. allies and partners will probably increase depending on extremists’ success in seizing and holding territory, he said.

Most groups “place a higher priority on local concerns than on attacking the so-called far enemy -- the United States and the West,” Clapper said.

If Islamic State’s priority were to change, “radicalized Westerners who have fought in Syria and Iraq would provide a pool of operatives who potentially have access to the United States and other Western countries.”

As the U.S. seeks to negotiate an accord to halt Iran’s nuclear program, Clapper said Iran remains “an ongoing threat to U.S. national interests because of its support to the Assad regime in Syria, promulgation of anti-Israeli policies, development of advanced military capabilities and pursuit of its nuclear program.”

While Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been described as relatively moderate, Clapper said he is “a longstanding member of the regime establishment” who “will not depart from Iran’s national security objectives.”

PA: Government Addiction to Gambling any cost

Caesars entire $$$ went to debt payment and they're now in the midst of a messy divorce from creditors [bankruptcy].

Even the not too bright among us could see the Titanic sinking!

This defines Government Addiction to Gambling Revenues!

Harrah’s Philadelphia casino license renewed

Feb 26, 2015
Reporter- Philadelphia Business Journal

Harrah's Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack's license was renewed by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on Wednesday.

The seven-member control board unanimously voted to renew operator Harrah's Chester Downs and Marina's Category 1 casino license for another three-year period. The decision was based on a number of processes, including public hearings, and testimony from the public and local government officials, the state police and the Control Board's office of enforcement counsel.

Since opening in 2007, Harrah's Philadelphia has generated more than $2.5 billion in gross revenue from slot machines and table games, generating nearly $1.3 billion in gaming tax revenue.

The casino's table game gross revenue for January 2015 was $6.1 million, up 6 percent year-over-year according to the Control Board.

Harrah's has about 2,800 slot machines and 120 table games, employing more than 1,400 people.

PA: A Slap on the Wrist for Meadows!

If Pennsylvania wanted to ensure that Casinos abided by regulations, the $$$ would be a percentage of profits - you'd see how fast Casinos would comply!

Meadows fined $15,000 for underage gambler

The operator of The Meadows Casino was fined $15,000 for allowing an underage player to gamble on slot machines.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced the fine Wednesday against Washington Trotting Association after a male, age 20, gained access to the gaming floor of the North Strabane Township casino. Under state law, a player must be at least 21 to bet on slot machines or table games.

That was one of five consent agreements PGCB approved resulting in $77,500 in fines. The agreements were forged between the PGCB’s Office of Enforcement Counsel and the operators of three casinos, including the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.

Holdings Acquisition Co. L.P., operator of the North Side facility, was hit with two fines totaling $27,500. One was for $22,500 for incidents in which casino personnel violated board regulations or the Rivers’ internal controls in conducting table games. The other was $5,000 for check cashing violations.

Downs Racing L.P., operator of Mohegan Sun Pocono in Luzerne County, likewise was fined twice and will pay the largest amount – a total of $35,000. They were: $30,000 for five incidents in which a person on the PGCB’s Self-Exclusion List was permitted to enter and gamble, and $5,000 for conducting business with an unlicensed gaming service provider.

For more infirmation, visit

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The 'Red King of Gambling' owes $160 million

The 'Red King of Gambling' owes $160 million, and that says everything about China's problems

shao dongmingYouTube
Shao Dongming

Shao Dongming is the CEO of Chinese property development company Dongding Investment, and he's one of richest men in Shanghai.

He's also known as the red king of gambling, infamous for going to Macau and making multi-million dollar bets with abandon.

Unfortunately his luck has run out.

Shao is being investigated for corruption in the country's ongoing, far-reaching anti-corruption campaign. Specifically, the government is looking into the $160 million worth of gambling debts he's racked up in Macau. According to reports, Shao refused to pay these debts when his creditors tried to call them in, and he reportedly even threatened representatives of his creditors with bodily harm.

His story is a reflection of a new China.

Two years ago, this probably wouldn't have been a problem, but with a national anti-corruption campaign afoot in China — in which President Xi Jinping vowed to go after lowly "flies" and powerful "tigers" — and Macau's casino industry going through a massive slowdown, there is no longer any tolerance for the red king's excesses.

MacaoKin Cheun/APPeople walk across a road in front of the Venetian Macao casino resorts.

There's also little tolerance for his pride. A report from China's NDTV noted that Shao bragged that "anyone creating trouble for him would end up in jail." He has close ties to the mayor of Shanghai, and he has held high-level positions within the Communist Party.

No matter. He's still going to get a "stringent inspection," according to the Party.

It's about more than Shao

Now, the fact that Shao's being targeted for corruption is not the only way his case reflects Xi's new China. His investigation may spell more trouble for the country's slowing housing market and show that an already dire situation in Macau isn't getting any better.

Overall, Shao's business has seen better days. Chinese housing is facing its roughest patch since 2011. New home prices fell 5.1% in January from the same time the year before. In December that figure was 4.3%.

Last month, massive property development company Kaisa defaulted, and now $2 billion worth of its assets are frozen. Naturally, having a billionaire property developer under investigation won't help matters.

As for Macau, the fact that Shao's debts are being called in at all is a sign of weakness, especially for the island's high roller segment. Coming off of the worst year since it opened to western casino operators, analysts think that the global gambling hub will continue to slow. Foot traffic is up slightly among retail gamblers, but it's not nearly enough to make up for the loss of high rollers, who've been scared off by Xi's corruption crack down.

Moreover, one would think Chinese New Year would be a boon for Macau, but it hasn't been.
"Based on checks through February 22, we believe Chinese New Year (CNY) revenue trends have been soft to ­date. Our checks suggest that revenue trends in both the VIP and mass segments have been soft. Notably, there were a number of mass tables empty on the third and fourth days of CNY," wrote Wells Fargo analyst Cameron McKnight in a recent note. "Continue to expect ­-35% to -­45% growth for February."

What's more, reports indicate that the Chinese government is looking to cap the number of visitors to Macau — period. That means the end of the islands massive boom, and the beginning of what McKnight calls a "new normal."

Oh and there's this: "our analysis shows a 95% correlation between Chinese home price growth and VIP volume growth," McKnight wrote in a note.

So if the ship starts to go down, it all goes down together.

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