US backs calls for Taiwan to get role at UN health assembly

The United States is backing calls for Taiwan to be granted observer status at the U.N. health agency’s biggest annual gathering, the U.S. health secretary said Monday.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar spoke to reporters in Geneva on the sidelines of the start of the World Health Organization’s annual assembly, which China’s government has prevented Taiwan from attending.

China claims sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan.

For years, China allowed Taiwan to send observers to the assembly, but has locked out its envoys in recent years amid tensions between China’s Communist government and the government of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

“We support Taiwan having the type of status it had previously here at the World Health Assembly,” Azar said.

“We think it’s important that 23 million individuals have a voice and are able to see the proceedings here and be part of that as appropriate, as consistent with past historic practices,” Azar said.

Despite the difference of opinion over Taiwan, Azar said “we have an excellent relationship with China, especially on the health front.”

Relations aren’t necessarily strong on the trade front. The two countries are in the midst of a trade spat and there are fears it could escalate. The Trump administration has slapped tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods, which has prompted Beijing to respond with its retaliatory measures.

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US-led casino pipeline could hurt Asia’s market: Union Gaming

US-led casino pipeline could hurt Asia's market: Union GamingThe US gaming industry wants to put together a $65-billion development pipeline that would see the construction of new casinos and resorts across Asia. The plan is an ambitious one and looks really attractive on paper, but that’s where its glory ends. Union Gaming analysts believe that the plan is complete overkill and that the rate of economic growth in the region doesn’t warrant an investment of that magnitude.

According to a memo published by the brokerage yesterday, “We estimate the Asian gaming development pipeline currently exceeds US$65 billion. Approximately two-thirds of this pipeline is in existing gaming jurisdictions, while the remaining one-third is in a solitary, green-field jurisdiction (Japan).”

The Union Gaming analysts, Grant Govertsen and John DeCree, added, “Given the scale of the pipeline relative to the earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) required to justify it, we think – for the first time in Asia – the amount of new supply is simply too much over too short a period.”

The result of such a lofty endeavor would be catastrophic. Returns for everyone involved would be much lower than expected and the failure of certain projects, as a result of a lack of a decent return, would cause entire companies – and possibly communities – to fail. If the casino industry wants expanded growth in Asia, they should consider spreading the plan out over 15 years, not the five years currently being considered, assert the analysts.

Govertsen and DeCree further offered, “The reality is that the current pipeline in just the existing markets (forget about Japan for now) requires EBITDA in Asia to literally double, even as the boom years in China gross domestic product (GDP) growth are behind it, and as so many of Asia’s wealthy individuals have already been captured. The math simply doesn’t work from a GDP perspective (excepting Japan).”

As a play is made to enter the Japan gambling market, the situation could become worse. Union Gaming explains, “Regulatory factors like the locals entry levy could force operators to try and capture a greater-than-anticipated share from other Asian markets, like Macau. If this is the case, then the result will be even more depressed return-on-investments for the current excepting-Japan pipeline via some combination of share loss to Japan and increased marketing expenses as they try to stop the share loss from happening.”


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An Osaka IR before 2025 just got complicated

Japan has decided to open its arms to casinos, to a certain degree, but the decision hasn’t come easily. In order to best gauge how the industry will be managed over the long term, the country is putting together strict regulations for its integrated resorts (IR) and these controls are beginning to show their impact. Particularly where financing is concerned, these regulations and restrictions an-osaka-ir-before-2025-just-got-complicatedmight be problematic and could ultimately cause delays in IR rollouts. This has already started to become an issue and some industry insiders believe that it could cause Osaka’s plans for a 2024 launch to be delayed passed even 2025.

Japan wants all the IRs to be of certain sizes, with limits on casino floor spaces compared to overall square footage and a certain number of hotel rooms. There is also the subject of fees and taxes – the tax rate is 30% – that are going to eat into the venue’s bottom line. As a result, securing financing from traditional banks or financial institutions may prove cumbersome if not virtually impossible.

According to Delta State Holdings Managing Partner David Bonnet, “Due to the huge disconnect between what the Japanese government will write into legislation and what the Japan megabanks are saying they require in order to underwrite a project financing loan, there will be difficulty in obtaining traditional integrated resort mortgage loan financing from local lenders. That being said it creates a huge opportunity for global investment banks to raise senior bonds on a global level. There are significant opportunities for a number of investment groups but the structure needs to be different from what we are discussing today.”

Another industry insider, Kentaro Maruto of KPMG Tokyo, points out that the bids submitted by casino companies to the national government will most likely need to be accompanied by a written letter of commitment from a financial institution. However, banks are going to have a difficult time providing any type of commitment for an endeavor that has no foundation in the country.

Provided Osaka could get passed this and help a casino operator secure all of the necessary paperwork, there is still another issue. There are rumors that the Casino Control Commission will not be ready to start its operations has initially planned. Initially expected to be established in June, it now looks like it won’t be ready until next February.

If that’s the case, the selection process for host cities wouldn’t even begin until the latter half of next year. The delay resulted in Praveen Choudhary of Morgan Stanley to assert, “Osaka will not open its casino before the World Expo. It is impossible to open before 2025. The reason is not that Osaka isn’t doing everything it can, but there are several regulatory processes that need to be signed before they can even start, so time is very much against them.”


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Warren's opioids message applauded in hard-hit West Virginia

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s plan to battle the nation’s drug addiction problem drew an enthusiastic response Friday in a small West Virginia community waging its own fight against opioid abuse.

Warren outlined her idea to tax the wealthiest Americans and deliver sorely needed funding directly to hard-hit communities.

The Massachusetts senator is proposing to spend $100 billion over 10 years on battling addiction. Her plan is for a 2% tax on those making $50 million or more “so everybody else has a chance to make it.”

“I’m tired of freeloading billionaires,” Warren said to loud applause from a crowd of about 150 people at the volunteer fire station in Kermit along the Kentucky border.

President Donald Trump carried West Virginia by 42 points in 2016. But the state has by far the nation’s highest death rate from prescriptions drugs, and Warren is hoping that reality will help her message resonate with people who may otherwise be skeptical of her brand of politics. At a time when many in the party are debating how to court rural voters, Warren’s trip could give her an opportunity to demonstrate an ability to connect with voters beyond the party’s traditional liberal base.

Among those listening intently were Kermit physician Dr. J.W. Endicott and town Fire Chief Tommy Preece, who lost a brother to a drug overdose.

Preece said he was surprised Warren chose to visit Kermit because “she’s coming right into the middle of Trump country.”

Endicott, whose biggest frustration as a physician in a rural area is not having enough drug treatment facilities, said Warren’s message “is a big deal for us, a big deal nationally.”

Warren said her proposal would bypass state governments and send federal funding directly to communities whose leaders would determine how it is used.

“The money needs to be here in Kermit and in towns and on reservations across this nation that are on the front lines in the battle,” Warren said. “We don’t need it tangled up in more politics. We need this money to go straight to the people who are dealing with the crisis every hour of every day.”

Marybeth Beller, an associate professor of political science at Marshall University, said Warren’s policies resonate with West Virginians, who “really have a history of liking hands-on politicians that will come out and meet them and talk to them and listen to them.”

Beller said it may be too early to count West Virginia as a solid red state.

“In ’16, a lot of people put hope into Donald Trump because of his rhetoric,” she said. “I think measuring that two-and-a-half years later, particularly with coal jobs, it just hasn’t come to fruition. So, do I think that West Virginia could change back to blue? I think so.”

Kermit is located along the Tug Fork in Mingo County, which dubs itself “The Heart of the Billion-Dollar Coalfield.” But West Virginia continues to be one of the poorest states in the nation, ranking 49th in per capita income, and is among those to lose thousands of jobs in the coal industry’s downturn this century.

Mingo County’s coal employment dropped from 1,750 jobs in 1997 to 764 last year, while production fell from 22.4 million tons to 5.1 million over the same period.

As the jobs have left, so too have the people. West Virginia’s population has dipped every year since reaching 1.86 million in 2012.

Warren, who also had scheduled stops later Friday in Chillicothe and Columbus, Ohio, spoke a few blocks from a now-closed pharmacy in Kermit where wholesale drug distributor McKesson Corp. shipped an average of 9,650 hydrocodone pills per day in 2007. A decade later, the town of 360 people fought back, suing McKesson and four other drug wholesalers, saying they illegally flooded Kermit with millions of prescription pills.

The lawsuit, one of many filed by municipalities throughout the state against drug distributors, seeks to recoup the costs of dealing with opioid abuse.

Last week the state announced a $37 million settlement in its lawsuit against San Francisco-based McKesson. Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, say the settlement was minuscule compared to the harm inflicted on West Virginians.

In 2017, Preece’s brother, assistant Kermit fire chief Timmy Dale Preece, died of an overdose. Timmy Preece had been taking medication to help deal with the pain from a broken neck.

Tommy Preece, a Democrat, is open to Warren’s proposal because he believes the opioid crisis needs America’s fullest attention, especially in the two counties his department serves.

“It’s bad, it really is,” Preece said. “We have a lot of young kids in our community and we don’t want to see them go down this route.”

The scope of the epidemic predates their generation. Preece’s father, the late fire chief Wig Preece, was convicted in the 1980s of selling marijuana, pills and other drugs from a trailer parked near the Kermit town hall and police station. A sign posted on the trailer at one point by the elder Preece read, “Out of drugs, back in 15 minutes.”

Wig Preece’s wife, six of their 14 children and their son-in-law, Police Chief David Ramey, also were sentenced to lengthy prison terms.


Associated Press writer Anthony Izaguirre in Charleston contributed to this report.

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Ending Masturbation Myths

By Nathan Lam, 16, Staff Writer

May 13, 2019

“Don’t you know that masturbation causes hair loss?” my friend says, as he pulls up an article online. “Look, it says that masturbation increases testosterone in the body, which creates DHT, a hormone that leads to male pattern baldness!”

For those of you who are now worrying about balding because you have masturbated before, keep reading. Masturbation does not cause hair loss. There is no scientific evidence that supports this claim. This is just yet another masturbation myth.

There have always been lots of myths like this about masturbation, such as “Masturbation will make you go blind.” Since May is National Masturbation Month, we are going to debunk some of these myths!

MYTH #1: Masturbation causes infertility, meaning you’ll lose the ability to get someone pregnant or be pregnant.

TRUTH: The testicles will keep producing sperm no matter how many times you masturbate. Masturbation will also not affect a female’s ovulation, menstrual cycle or ability to get pregnant in any way.

MYTH #2: Only guys masturbate.

TRUTH: Regardless of your gender identity, almost everyone wants to enjoy pleasure. On average, 78 percent of Americans age 14 and older report having masturbated at some point, according to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior.

MYTH #3: You should not masturbate if you are in a relationship.

TRUTH: Just because you choose to masturbate doesn’t mean you’re not also interested in sex with a partner. Masturbation is a completely separate, pleasurable experience.

MYTH #4: You are masturbating too much.

TRUTH: Unless it is interfering with your personal life, this isn’t likely. You can masturbate once a month or once a week or once a day or more, it all depends on your preference. Whether you masturbate daily or never masturbate is completely up to you!

And the biggest myth of them all is that masturbation is bad or wrong. For the longest time, masturbation has been seen by some as taboo. However, it is a normal sexual act and has many benefits. In addition to pleasure, masturbation can actually relieve stress, elevate mood, enhance sleep quality and boost your concentration! Also, it’s a great way to discover what you sexually desire and are interested in. Finally, masturbation is a way to experience sexual pleasure without the worry of sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy. If you choose not to masturbate, that’s fine as well.

Just know that if you do decide to masturbate, it will not make you go bald!

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BeeFee enters Latvian slot hall market with LVBET Casino partnership

London, 13th May 2019 – BeeFee has entered the Latvian retail gaming market, with its slot machines and popular casino content now available in LVBET’s casino halls in the country.

beefee-enters-latvian-slot-hall-market-with-lvbet-casino-partnershipUnder LVBET’s Latvian gaming licence, 18 of BeeFee’s most popular slots games are now live in the country for the first time, including Book of MingStunning HotMagic Hunter and Dragon’s Power.

BeeFee will be the main slot machine provider for LVBET’s casino halls in Latvia.

BeeFee’s terminals can currently be found in LVBET’s casino hall in Terehova, on the border to Russia, which will be followed by venues in Valka and Krāslava.

LVBET has also applied for permission to operate more casino halls in the country and is in the process of obtaining betting licences for the premises.

Piotr Szpoton, CEO of BeeFee, said: “We are thrilled to have our land-based products live in Latvia through our distribution deal with LVBET and we are certain that our products will be a hit with players in the country.

“Entering the Latvian market is part of BeeFee’s strategy to expand our footprint and cement our position as a leading slot machine provider in the retail market.”

BeeFee’s slot machines are manufactured in the company’s factory in Poland and certified in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Romania and Latvia. The supplier also creates innovative slots content for the global online market.

For more information on this release or to arrange an interview please contact Square in the Air on 0203 586 8266 or email [email protected] 

About Bee-Fee Games

BeeFee is a creative and dynamic game development studio that creates innovative slots content for the global online market. With a focus on developing high-quality games, BF offers an extensive portfolio of industry-leading products to the sector. The London and Malta-based company was founded by industry veterans and is also a land-based operator and games producer in several European jurisdictions. Learn more at:


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Genting Singapore sees profits fall in the first quarter

Genting Singapore Ltd. has delivered its financial report for the first quarter of the year and things could have definitely been better. The company’s profit slipped 5.4% year-on-year, as did its revenue, which fell by a similar amount, 5.1%. The company took in $150.7 million, down from the $159.3 million a year ago.

Genting Singapore sees profits fall in the first quarterGenting Singapore has a mix of gaming and non-gaming operations and is behind the Resorts World Sentosa resort in Singapore. The company’s gaming revenue dropped 7.9% year-on-year to $315.6 million, compared to $342.8 million last year, and non-gaming revenue saw a slight, 1% uptick to $153.5 million. That revenue comes from operations that include, among others, the Universal Studios Singapore theme park.

Hurting the company’s bottom line in the quarter was a net impairment on trade receivables. This is nothing more than a fancy way for a gambling company way to say that it gave out too much credit that it wasn’t able to collect. Genting Singapore showed this impairment, or bad debt, to be $8.1 million, which was 34% higher than it was a year ago. The good news is that the amount was lower quarter-over-quarter – the company only gave away $28.6 million in the fourth quarter of last year.

Despite the drop in revenue, Genting Singapore is a glass-half-full kind of company. It said in its filing, “The group continued to perform healthily in the first quarter of 2019. Non-gaming business registered its eighth consecutive quarter of year-on-year revenue growth with higher spend per visitor. Our key attractions drew in a daily average visitation of over 19,000.”

It added that the occupancy rate at Resorts World Sentosa hotels stayed consistently high at around 93%, further stating, “Notwithstanding challenges from both the local and regional economies, the group continues its marketing efforts especially towards the regional premium mass segment.”

Morgan Stanley Asia analysts responded to the filing, indicating that the results were better than they had anticipated thanks to a greater VIP win rate – 3.3% – and a reduction in bad debt. However, it added that Genting Singapore “appeared cautious about future credit extension to Chinese VIP customers amid geopolitical tension, and it sees near-term competition from other ASEAN countries. With limited near-term catalysts … [the] upside looks limited.”


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Trump defends health workers' right to object to abortions

Advancing his anti-abortion agenda, President Donald Trump moved Thursday to protect health care workers who object to procedures like abortion on moral or religious grounds.

Trump chose the National Day of Prayer to announce the new regulation.

“Just today we finalized new protections of conscience rights for physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students and faith-based charities,” Trump told an interfaith audience in the White House Rose Garden. “They’ve been wanting to do that for a long time.”

The conscience rule was a priority for religious conservatives who are a key part of Trump’s political base, but some critics fear it will become a pretext for denying medical attention to LGBT people or women seeking abortions, a legal medical procedure.

In a strongly worded statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “these bigoted rules are immoral, deeply discriminatory and downright deadly, greenlighting open discrimination in health care against LGTBQ Americans and directly threatening the well-being of millions.

“Make no mistake,” she added, “this is an open license to discriminate against Americans who already face serious, systemic discrimination.” She said she was also addressing another pending regulation seen as undermining the rights of transgender patients. Pelosi said the Democratic-controlled House would “fight” the administration’s actions.

San Francisco immediately sued the Trump administration, saying the conscience regulation will undermine access to care.

The complex rule runs more than 400 pages and requires hospitals, universities, clinics and other institutions that receive funding from federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid to certify that they comply with some 25 federal laws protecting conscience and religious rights.

Most of these laws and provisions address medical procedures such as abortion, sterilization and assisted suicide. The ultimate penalty can be loss of federal funding for violations of conscience or religious rights, but most cases are settled by making changes in practices and procedures.

The rule makes no new law and doesn’t go beyond statutes passed under administrations of both political parties, said Roger Severino, head of the office that will enforce it at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Rather, the regulation will guarantee that religious and conscience protections already on the books can’t be ignored.

“We are giving these laws life with this regulation,” said Severino, saying it’s no different from civil rights statutes enforced in daily life through government regulation and oversight. “It makes sure Congress’ protections are not merely empty words on paper.”

Under the rule, clinicians and institutions would not have to provide, participate in, pay for, cover or make referrals for procedures they object to on moral or religious grounds.

This will make it “so that people do not have to shed their religious beliefs to participate in health care,” said Severino, adding that “certain medical professions such as OB-GYN should not be declared pro-life-free zones.”

The rule also addresses conscience protections involving so-called advance directives that detail a patient’s wishes for care at the end of life.

Asserting that previous administrations have not done enough to protect conscience rights in the medical field, HHS under Trump created a new division to investigate such complaints within its Office for Civil Rights, which Severino heads.

HHS said last year the office received more than 1,300 complaints alleging discrimination in a health care setting on account of religious beliefs or conscience issues. There was only a trickle of such complaints previously, officials said, about one per year for alleged conscience violations.

Sister Carol Keehan, head of the Catholic Health Association, said her group representing church-affiliated hospitals, nursing homes and other providers will stress continued service to “all persons.”

“Our mission and our ethical standards in health care are rooted in and inseparable from the Catholic Church’s teachings about the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death,” Keehan said in a statement. “These are the source of both the work we do and the limits on what we will do. Every individual seeking health care is welcome and will be treated with dignity and respect in our facilities.”

Among religious conservatives, Family Research Council leader Tony Perkins called the regulation an answer to prayer.

“Protecting the right of all health care providers to make professional judgments based on moral convictions and ethical standards … is necessary to ensure that access to health care is not diminished, which would occur if they were forced out of their jobs because of their ethical stances,” his statement added.

But Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the administration has opened the door to discrimination. “Religious liberty is a fundamental right, but it doesn’t include the right to discriminate or harm others,” she said. “Denying patients health care is not religious liberty,”

The rule takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.


Associated Press writers David Crary in New York and Janie Har in San Francisco contributed.


HHS press release:

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World Series odds update: May betting futures

The longest drought of winning the World Series in Major League Baseball belongs to the snake-bitten Cleveland Indians, whose last title was in 1948. The Tribe were oh-so close to ending that in 2016 as they took a 3-1 lead on the Chicago Cubs in the Fall Classic but lost an epic Game 7 at home as the Cubs ended an even longer championship drought.

Odds courtesy of

world-series-odds-update-may-betting-futuresCleveland opened this season as a heavy favorite to win a fourth straight AL Central title, but even reaching the postseason could be a challenge now that ace pitcher Corey Kluber is out indefinitely. He suffered a broken right (pitching) forearm last week when he took a line drive off it on a batted ball (estimated at 102 mph) by the Marlins’ Brian Anderson.

True, Kluber was struggling this year with a 2-3 record and 5.80 ERA, but he’s a two-time Cy Young winner and leads all American League pitchers in wins over the past five seasons. It’s the last thing the Indians need because they already are without fellow starting pitcher Mike Clevinger until perhaps July with a back injury, and the team isn’t hitting a lick. The Indians are built to win with their pitching. They are now +2000 to win the World Series.

While Bryce Harper is struggling with his new team, the Philadelphia Phillies (+1000 to win the World Series), his former team the Washington Nationals clearly misses the former NL MVP. The Nats are well below .500 and below average offensively.

A drop offensively might have been expected, but the pitching staff looked to be one of the best in baseball with three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and the free-agent addition of former Arizona Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin. However, the Nats’ team ERA is among the worst in the National League. Scherzer has not looked like himself. Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist was made an early scapegoat, fired last week. Washington is +3500 to win the first World Series in franchise history.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros are the World Series favorites at +500. The Dodgers are mashing the ball, led by early NL MVP favorite Cody Bellinger, who had a historic April at the plate and was named NL Player of the Month. Los Angeles did just lose outfielder A.J. Pollock for several weeks to elbow surgery, however.


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Clarion Gaming and Global Market Advisors solidify exclusive strategic partnership

Clarion Gaming and Global Market Advisors solidify exclusive strategic partnershipClarion Gaming (Clarion) and Global Market Advisors (GMA) announce an exclusive strategic partnership, bringing together two of the leading organizations in the gaming, entertainment, sports, and hospitality sectors. This partnership will provide both organizations with a collaborative vehicle to educate and grow these industries through Clarion’s extensive lineup of events and GMA’s operational and regulatory expertise.

“We appreciate the great insight, knowledge, and innovation that GMA continues to demonstrate in the gaming and hospitality sectors,” said Kate Chambers, Managing Director at Clarion Gaming. “GMA’s contributions and thought leadership will be invaluable as we both seek to grow our organizations and the industry globally.”

This partnership memorializes years of collaboration between Clarion and GMA and develops a fluid framework for both organizations to utilize their respective knowledge, expertise, and industry marketing across all events, media, and other creative avenues. As this strategic partnership grows, both groups expect to make further announcements on their collaborative efforts to grow the industry, bring stakeholders together, and educate them across all verticals.

“This is a natural partnership considering our years of collaboration with Clarion,” said Steve Gallaway, Managing Partner with Global Market Advisors. “As we continue to advise our clients, we have found a strategic partner with whom our clients can work regarding education and networking in the industry. Clarion does that better than anyone else.”

The upcoming event ICE North America is the first event to take place following this agreement formation. Developed for trade industry professionals involved in sports betting, iGaming, esports, iLottery and Affiliate Marketing, the event takes place from May 13-15 in Boston MA, USA, and more information is available via the website.

About Clarion Gaming
Clarion, as the oldest independent event organizers in the UK, occupies a unique position in the gaming and hospitality sector, providing the full range of services to the entire spectrum of the global industry including exhibitions, conferences, technical training, research and digital information. Clarion’s products, which include the world’s largest gaming technology exhibition, are delivered globally and attract more than 30,000 participants annually in locations spanning every continent.

About Global Market Advisors, LLC
GMA is the leading international provider of consulting services to the gaming, entertainment, sports, and hospitality industries. The company’s market experience extends throughout all regions of the Americas, Europe, Australia, and Asia. GMA’s clients consist of the majority of public gaming companies, more than 75 Native American tribes, commercial and investment banks, associations, and government agencies from around the world.


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