North Korean dictator and anti-gambling hardliner Kim Jong Un’s more fun-loving half-brother Kim Jong-nam was headed to Macau, presumably for a gambling junket, when he was reportedly assassinated on Tuesday at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia.
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un hasn’t publicly addressed the assassination of his decade older half-brother this week in Malaysia, but all signs point to the dictator being involved in the murder. The brother, known to be a gambler, was headed to Macau when he was accosted by a woman and killed.
Though details of the murder are still developing, the latest reports claim two women approached the exiled North Korean, with one placing a cloth containing a suspected poison over his face. Jong-nam died on the way to the hospital at the age of 45.
Malaysian police say they’ve arrested one of the women, and note she’s a 28-year-old holding a Vietnamese passport.
The oldest son of Kim Jong-iI, the notorious supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Jong-nam was well-known for leaning towards much-frowned-upon Western frivolities like casinos. None of that flew well with his famously harsh and merciless sibling-in-command.
North Korea has strict laws against gambling, as it does regarding any practice that might lead to a bit of fun or enjoyment for its citizens. There are, however, two casinos in the country that are open exclusively to foreigners. One is based in the capital city of Pyongyang, and the other is in Rason, though it’s unclear if the latter remains open.
In 2015, a 29-year-old casino worker at the Casino Pyongyang allegedly jumped to his death off the building. A citizen of Macau, as only foreigners are also allowed to work in the casino, the family disputed the suicide allegations and said he was murdered for stealing casino chips.
It all points to a system of jursiprudence which, much like that in the also anti-gambling Philippines, often takes a ‘shoot first, ask questions never’ approach to law enforcement.
Nam on the Lam
Once the presumed heir to his father’s regime, Kim Jong-nam fell out of the family’s good graces after he was arrested in 2001 in Tokyo for forging passport documents.
Though there was an older brother, Kim Jong-chul (who is reported to have personally spearheaded the arrest of the brothers’ uncle Jang Sung-taek) Kim Jong Un was groomed as the successor to the dynasty during this time. At the age of only 17, the new leader had been found, and Jong-nam went not-so-quietly into exile.
During his banishment, the playboy spent much time in Macau, and is thought to have lived there between 2003 and 2007. Over the last decade, Jong-nam has been frequently spotted in China’s special gambling zone, and was on his way there when he was assassinated this week.
In 2012, Jong-nam apparently fled Macau on suspicions that his younger half-brother was trying to have him assassinated. Hindsight is always a winning bet, and it appears now that those fears were warranted.
South Korea wasted no time in condemning its northern neighbor for Jong-nam’s death.
‘If confirmed, the murder of Kim Jong-nam would be an example that shows the brutality and inhumane nature of the North Korean regime,’ the more Westernized South Korea said in a statement. Although South Korea has had legal gaming for foreigners since the late 1960s, there remains only one legal brick-and-mortar casino for citizens to play in.
Caesars Q4 Net Loss Eclipses Analysts’ Expectations Ten Times Over
Caesars Entertainment Corp’s (CEC) Q4 loss was ten-times worse than analysts’ predictions.
Net loss for the period was $435 million, compared to $39 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, mainly due to a $426 million accrual related to the restructuring of its bankrupt operating unit Caesars Operating Corp (CEOC), the company said.
Caesars CEO Mark Fissora says that now CEOC is able to emerge from bankruptcy, the company will focus on generating cash flow, growth and value for investors. (Image: AP)
Analysts polled by FactSet had expected a net loss of 37-cents-a-share, rather than the $3.88 per share loss Caesars reported Tuesday.
Net operating losses across the whole year were $2.7 billion, thanks to $5.7 billion paid in accruals for CEOC.
Looking on the Bright Side
Caesars has become accustomed to putting a positive spin on these things, and so here it is. Mark Frissora, President and Chief Executive Officer of Caesars Entertainment, praised a ‘second consecutive year of solid operational improvement and margin expansion driven by strong performance in Las Vegas, our largest market, and continued productivity improvements.’
Frissora added that Caesars had generated record full year cash hotel revenues, due to the renovation of over 8,000 rooms since 2014. But this is not the only reason for Caesars to be cheerful.
In January a bankruptcy judge in Chicago approved CEOC’s reorganization plan, bringing an end to two years of bitter disputes with creditors as the company struggled to emerge from one of the most complex bankruptcies in a generation.
Under the terms of the plan, CEOC will shave $10 billion off its $18 billion industry-high debt, while separating its US-based property assets from its gaming operations as it’s spun off into a real-estate investment trust.
Parent company Caesars Entertainment, meanwhile, will merge with subsidiary, Caesars Acquisition Co (CACQ.O), with a view to regrouping its casinos and hotels together.
With CEOC emerging from bankruptcy sometime this year, Fissora said the group would now focus on generating cash flow, growth and value for its investors.
‘This year, we intend to deliver additional cash flow and margin improvements while completing CEOC’s restructuring,’ he said. ‘These actions will allow us to continue to generate more value for our stakeholders as we execute against our long-term plan.’
CEC net revenues increased 2.8 percent to $3.9 billion, while adjusted EBITDA rose 8.6 percent to $1.1 billion, driven by net revenue increases and efficiency initiatives.
EBITDA is considered to be a measure of the company’s performance and ignores things like interest payments and corporate expenses, which suggests that, minus upheaval of debt, bankruptcy and reorganization, Caesars is heading in the right direction.
UK’s Youngest Lottery Winner to Sue Operator for Negligence
The UK’s youngest ever lottery winner is planning to sue the national lottery operator, Camelot, for enriching her and thus blighting her existence.
Jane Park relaxes with the giant novelty check for £1 million that ultimately ‘ruined’ her life. She says the legal age to buy a lottery ticket in the UK should be 18. (Image: Jeff Holmes)
Four years ago, Edinburgh native Jane Park won £1 million ($1.24 million) at the tender age of 17, an event that ‘ruined’ her life, she claims. It was a case of too much, too young for Park, who was working as a temporary admin assistant on £8 ($10) an hour at the time.
‘There’s no one in the same boat as me, no one who really understands,’ complained Park to the Sunday People. ‘I feel like I’m a 40-year-old.’
Park plans to sue Camelot for negligence because, had the legal age to buy a lottery ticket in the UK been 18, as she believes it should be, as opposed to 16, she would have been spared the entire miserable ordeal of winning a million.
‘I thought it would make [life] 10 times better but it’s made it 10 times worse,’ she moaned. ‘People look at me and think, ‘I wish I had her lifestyle, I wish I had her money.’ But they don’t realise the extent of my stress.
‘I have material things but apart from that my life is empty. What is my purpose in life?’ she queried.
In a statement to the Independent this week, Camelot denied the accusation of negligence, free pokies no deposit detailing the support program in place to aid the suddenly and unexpectedly loaded.
Park was assigned a dedicated winners’ adviser who made home visits to help arrange private banking and support her through any publicity she chose to engage in.
An independent financial and legal panel was set up for her shortly after her win and Camelot also put her in touch with another winner, who won at the same age, to help her adjust to the win.
‘We keep in contact with all major winners for as long as they wish and have been in touch with Jane from time to time since her win to offer ongoing support,’ said the operator.
Now, we’re no legal eagles but a couple of things strike us immediately about this case, beyond the fact that if she really wanted to divest herself of her riches she could donate it all to charity in a matter of minutes.
1) The legal age to participate in the lottery is 16. That is the law, established by an act of parliament, and you can’t really sue someone for obeying the law.
2) If she actually wins and successfully sues for damages, she’ll be in for another windfall, which will presumably make her even unhappier.
Maybe this is the point. Maybe she plans to rid herself of the burden of wealth by plowing all her riches into one of the most ill-advised legal cases of all time.
Chicago Cubs Favorite at Sportsbooks to Repeat as World Series Champs
The Chicago Cubs are the heavy favorite at Nevada sportsbooks to win the 2017 World Series and defend their Major League Baseball (MLB) title.
Both Nevada and online sportsbooks like the Chicago Cubs’ chances of repeating at the 2017 World Series. (Image: Santiago Covarrubias/Chicago Sun-Times)
Vegas always like a winner, and when it comes to writing odds on professional sports futures, the oddsmakers tend to favor the team holding the most recent championship trophy. And that is especially holding true for the Cubbies, one of the most popular baseball franchises in America.
Similar to the Green Bay Packers in NFL season-long betting, the Cubs routinely attract much preseason action on their title dreams. Part of that was due to the team’s 108-year World Series victory drought, which ended last November, but the Windy City organization also has one of the largest fan bases in the US.
While many land-based sportsbooks in Vegas are still finalizing their MLB futures, the Atlantis Casino in Reno is taking bets.
The sportsbook puts the Cubs’ over/under regular season win total at 95.5. The team Chicago beat in last fall’s World Series, the Cleveland Indians, comes in second at 92.5.
Those looking to take an underdog can go with the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies (72.5), Atlanta Braves (71.5), Minnesota Twins (70.5), Oakland Athletics (66.5), and the league-worst San Diego Padres at 64.5.
Online casinos like Bovada already have odds on all 30 teams’ MLB title chances, and like Atlantis, they also believe the Cubs will repeat as the best time in baseball.
The Cubs are the favorite at numerous online sportsbooks including Bovada, which posts them at +450 to win the 2017 World Series. That means a $100 bet today would return $450 next fall should Chicago once again be singing ‘Go Cubs Go!’ in November.
Bovada is currently offering the best odds for those who want to put money on the Cubbies. Other sites have shorter odds including BetOnline (+425), 5Dimes (+400), and SportBet (+400).
Unlike Atlantis, however, is that the online books like the Boston Red Sox over the Indians in the American League. Perhaps that’s due to heavier betting from the larger fan base in Massachusetts, but Bovada gives the BoSox the same odds as the Cubs to win the Fall Classic.
The Indians are third (+800) at Bovada, followed by the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers at +1000.