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Gambling on TV?


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The Casino and Gaming Television network is a new U.S. television network scheduled to launch in 2004, targeting the estimated 50 million Americans who gamble regularly.

The new network is a digital cable and satellite channel with shows such as “Winning Hand,” with poker experts offering tips on the game, and “Dusk ‘Til Dawn,” a tour of night spots in Las Vegas, Monaco and other gambling destinations.

The number of Americans who bet represents a vast potential audience, said David Hawk, co-founder and co-chairman.

More than 50 million Americans made more than 300 million visits to casinos  Slot Gampang Menang last year, Hawk said, citing research conducted for the American Gaming Association.

Other “niche” channels, such as the Golf Channel, have succeeded with a smaller pool to draw from, Hawk said. About 25 million people visited golf courses last year, half the number of casino-goers, he said.

The new channel, being announced Monday, will target the young male crowd, age 21 to 34, which is valuable to advertisers, said Nickolas J. Rhodes, the network’s president and chief executive officer.

Television has been dealing out an increasing number of gambling-themed shows, including Travel Channel’s hit series on the World Poker Tour and the upcoming “Celebrity Poker Showdown” on Bravo.

Still, it remains to be seen whether gambling shows will be successful.

“That’s the ultimate question,” said Bill Carroll, an analyst for Katz Television, a media buying firm. “The marketplace will determine if there really is a need for any of these digital channels that are specially targeted.”

The network, which plans to raise $75 million in operating capital by first quarter 2004, is negotiating carriage deals. The goal is to reach 1 million homes initially and be in at least 20 million homes in four years.

MGM Enters UK Casino Market

According to the Las Vegas Sun, MGM Mirage has entered into a joint venture with a UK entertainment company, Earls Court and Olympia Group, to develop a casino and entertainment complex in the heart of London if the deregulation of gambling proceeds as expected in Britain.

The partnership would transform the Olympia Exhibition Center, a “major icon” in London, into a casino complex with shopping, restaurants and bars. MGM Mirage has not yet calculated its total investment in the project, but the proposal calls for an initial investment of more than 150 million British pounds (about $254 million).

“We are committed to the U.K. and anticipate spending a substantial amount of money in that market if the business conditions are what we hope they will be,” says James Murren,

MGM Mirage’s chief financial officer.

(In May, the company announced it had acquired a stake in a British casino developer, Metro Casinos, with a casino under construction in Bristol.) The London casino is contingent upon the adoption of deregulated gambling laws, a reduction in gaming taxes as part of those proposals and local permit approvals. Analysts have predicted the implementation of new gambling rules by 2005 or 2006.




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