Russia redux

Russia’s State Duma has voted in the first reading for a bill that will prohibit all persons under 18 years of age from entering any gambling outlets. The bill went through with 300 votes in favour and 105 against with one abstention at the end of March. All slotting machines on the streets, at metro stations and in shops, easily accessible to teenagers, will be removed from the market. Estimates put this figure at over 100,000 machines across Russia. “The state is obliged to tighten the control of the gambling business and the proposed bill will provide the proper legal basis,” said Valery Draganov, chief of the Duma’s Economic Policies, business and Tourism Committee. The bill, written by the United Russia party, will tighten the grip on the country’s gaming business and the requirements they are expected to meet. There will be no gambling outlets in residential buildings, pre-school child-case centres, schools, hospitals, railways stations and airport buildings of religious function. Gaming locations must also swell in size. The minimum casino floor space should be no less than 800sq.m. with no fewer than 10 gaming tables. A slot hall must occupy a minimum 100sq.m. and their number will be liable to quotas. In each Russian territory the permission to open a gaming location will be limited to one per 200,000 residents. Legislators believes this will effectively control the proliferation of gaming in Russia.

  Currently, Moscow alone has 56 casinos and 63,000 slot machines for a population of around 12 million. Operators must have gaming license and net assets of no less than 900m rubles (17m euros). Gaming machines must return a minimum 80 percent payout, while licenses will be valid for a maximum of 10 years. The proposed bill also contains a list of licensed gaming activities : casinos, slot machine halls, bookmaker offices and bet tantalizers. The current bill, introduced by Valery Draganov, sets new requirements for the industry and leads it towards consolidation. It means that in a few years numerous gaming outlets would tuern into a fixed number  of big card gaming and amusement resorts and casinos more like western style operations,” stated Unicum Chairman, boris Belotserkovsky. “A total number of licenses to be issued to the operators would not exceed 700 and quantity of gaming sites would be fixed according to a quota per region.   The changes would not happen overnight, current licenses should be valid until 2009, providing operators an opportunity to adapt their businesses to the new regulations. ” A decision on distributing the quotas for Russia’s new gaming guide facilities should be made by July 1, 2007. The distribution of permits will be conducted via auctions organized by individual Federation members. In the meantime, it’s hoped that the market will now offer some stability.

Shuffle master establish Asian alliance with Melco

Shuffle master and Melco International have formed a gaming technology alliance, for a term of 20 years, to develop localized gaming technologies for legalized gaming jurisdictions in Asia. This alliance includes the exclusive distributorship of gaming products of both Shuffle master and its Australian –based Stargames subsidiary, co-development of an R & D Centre and a manufacturing base. In terms of product distribution, Melco’s technology arm, Elixir, will distribute the Shuffle master Group’s complete utility and entertainment product lines (through an agreement with Stargames) exclusively in Asian countries, including: Cambodia, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Macau. The distributorship also covers Asian-based cruise ships and any jurisdiction in Asia, such as Thailand and Japan, in which gaming will be legalized in the future.

Under agreed distribution transition arrangements, Shuffle master’s and Stargames ’ existing product distributors in Asia may remain in place in some of these areas for up to one year after which Elixir will determine distribution arrangements in these markets. Elixir has commenced establishment of a gaming research and development centre in Macau to focus on developing gaming machine contents and other gaming technologies specifically for the Asian markets. Shuffle master intends, subject to any required regulatory approvals, to enter into a separate agreement with Elixir and Stargames. The parties also intend to enter into a separate manufacturing agreement, subject to any required  regulatory approvals, whereby Elixir  will manufacture the co-branded gaming machines for the Asia region, and assist Stargames with the supply of machines throughout the world, from a first-class manufacturing plant to be built in mainland China.

Game machines@Net 2006 Expo, held in   Athens in April, is a new initiative for the electronic and digital entertainment sector in Greece and products on display included electronic games, computer games, personal computers, electronic accessories, software, vending machines, billiards, table football, air hockey and amusement park equipment. The vast majority of coin-op and entertainment exhibitors came from the Greek distribution sector, and international companies from most non-gaming sectors were represented. In partnership with its distributor, Megatouch Hellas, Merit Entertainment presented ION, Force 2006 software and Mr. VIPs to a market where the touchscreen skill game genre offers substantial potential. As Merit’s International Sales manager, Javier Lanfranchi, explained: “We are delighted to support the launch of Game machines@Net. The show offers us great platform in what could become a good market for our products. The importance of this event as the first tradeshow for our market to take place in Greece since the initial ban on videogames three long years ago cannot be underestimated. ”

EELEX 2006 organizers, Unicum Group, have announced that a Moscow-based company, Internet plus travel, will be official travel agent of EELEX  gaming trade show. The company has introduced a variety of services to cover all the needs of an exhibition guest to make their stay comfortable and enjoyable. Internet plus travel will provide show attendees with necessary visa support, airport transfers, pre/post show hotel accommodations, airport fast-track and excursion services. Several travel managers will be working with EELEX visitors and making timely and appropriate suggestions to better serve one’s travel needs and budget requirements.

EELEX discount rates will be available at four Moscow hotels – Radisson, Ukraine, IRIS and Korston – which have been selected according to the preferences of the show’s regular visitors and located between the city centre and Crocus Expo. Buses will be circulating between these hotels and EELEX before and after the trade show hours during all three days. EELEX guests can choose a recommended hotel or select a well-known brand, Marriott, Novotel or Sheraton. Direct hotel contracts in the majority of city hotels provide Internet plus travel highly competitive pricing on a variety of options in various categories. September is a high tourist season in Moscow, and travelers should expect to make their accommodation reservations months in advance to be able to secure travel.