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Old 10-29-2013, 06:26 AM   #1
Rumors Rocks
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Wink Disney 'unintentionally' tied to gambling industry.

Gambling Debate Entangles Disney in Florida http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/us...rida.html?_r=0


Disney World in Florida. The Walt Disney Company has long argued that gambling tarnishes the state’s family-friendly brand.


Iron Man and other characters owned by Disney appear on slot machines.


A slot machine featuring the Disney-owned Spider-Man.


A casino in Coconut Creek, Fla., owned by the Seminole Tribe, which has seven large and small casinos in Florida. State lawmakers are preparing to decide whether to allow Las Vegas-style resort casinos, which the Walt Disney Company opposes.

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — Just around the corner from the poker room and within shouting distance of the greyhound track here at the Mardi Gras Casino, the Amazing Spider-Man slot machine beckons gamblers with its spinning masked superhero and his nemesis the Green Goblin.

At the touch of a button, this Spider-Man can pay out fortunes or, more typically, deplete wallets.

But in the recently renewed battle over casino gambling in Florida this year, the popular Spider-Man slot machine delivers a different sort of jolt altogether. Spider-Man is one of a stable of Marvel superheroes that the Walt Disney Company acquired for $4 billion in 2009 and that continue to appear on slot machines, Internet slot machines and state lottery tickets. The lottery tickets have featured Iron Man and the Avengers.

Disney, a powerhouse in Florida because of its financial might and its sway over the tourism industry, has long led the fight against the expansion of casinos in the state, arguing successfully that gambling tarnishes Florida’s coveted family-friendly brand.

This year is no exception. For the second time in two years, state lawmakers are preparing to decide whether Las Vegas-style resort casinos should be allowed to open in Florida, a move that Disney hopes to thwart again. The company is so opposed to gambling that not even Disney cruise ships offer casinos, a mainstay of major cruise liners.

But in a nation increasingly awash in various forms of gambling, Disney is finding that keeping a constantly growing entertainment conglomerate completely removed from gambling is far more challenging than it used to be.

Asked whether Disney’s ties to the gambling industry, through Marvel, undercut its position on casino gambling, a Marvel spokeswoman said last week that the company planned to shed its connection to slot machines when the various licensing agreements expire. On Saturday, the spokeswoman added that Marvel had signed its last slot machine deal two years ago.

Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk and others will begin to disappear from casinos and Internet gambling sites over the next “few years,” the spokeswoman said.

“Marvel discontinued plans to initiate or renew slot machine licensing arrangements as part of its integration with Disney,” the spokeswoman said. “The handful of remaining license agreements have expiration dates within the next few years.”

The spokeswoman also said late Saturday that Marvel currently has no active lottery deals and does not plan to sign any new one. Disney also faces a similar issue with its $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm last year. “Star Wars” characters, which have been featured in Disney parks for years, are also widely used in slot machines.

On Thursday, a Disney spokeswoman said the decision not to renew Lucasfilm and Marvel licensing agreements once they expired had been made recently. It had not previously been made public.

In the years since Disney’s acquisition of Marvel, gambling opponents and the company’s critics, including those seeking to open Vegas-style casinos in Florida, have accused Disney of being disingenuous in its campaign against casinos as new slot machines rolled out. Its competitors argue that Disney fears competition more than gambling.

“Disney’s internecine warfare against integrated resorts in Florida under this pretense demeans them significantly,” said Michael A. Leven, the president and chief operating officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which seeks to open a casino in South Florida.

A spokeswoman for Walt Disney World, Andrea M. Finger, said it could take several years for policies to align after two corporations merged, always a complex endeavor. But she said Disney’s commitment to keeping Vegas-style resorts out of the state was unwavering.

“We oppose the legalization of so-called destination resort casinos because this major expansion of gambling is inconsistent with Florida’s reputation as a family-friendly destination,” Ms. Finger said.

The decision that Disney, through Marvel and Lucasfilm, will phase out its slot machine licensing agreements comes at a pivotal time for Disney and its biggest allies, the influential Florida Chamber of Commerce and No Casinos, a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping more casinos out of Florida. The groups are engaged in the latest chapter of a battle over the expansion of large casinos in Florida, an issue awash in lobbyists and money.

Gambling is already commonplace in Florida. The Seminole Tribe, which owns the Hard Rock brand, has seven large and small casinos in Florida with some table games but no roulette or craps. Thoroughbred and greyhound racetracks, and jai alai frontons, all feature poker rooms, and in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, the so-called racinos, like Mardi Gras, also offer slot machines.

The racinos also oppose Vegas-style casino gambling expansion.

Despite a decision last year to waylay a bill on expansion after fierce lobbying by Disney and others, the Legislature is now poised to take up the issue again. The decision stems in large part from the fact that the state’s five-year agreement with the Seminole Tribe expires in 2015. The agreement gives the tribe exclusive rights to table games like blackjack in their casinos. (Slot machines are covered under a separate agreement.) In exchange, the tribe pays the state $1 billion over five years.

The state and the tribe will soon have to negotiate a new agreement. Competition from full-scale private casinos in the state could scramble the deal and drain the state of $233 million a year, from the tribe, with no guarantee that tax money from expanded private casinos would offset the loss.

For Disney, the debate over casinos has grown more difficult in the past year as its relationship with Marvel becomes more obvious to theme park visitors and other Disney customers.

“Hypocrisy is in the eye of the beholder,” said Robert Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University’s Law Center and an expert on gambling law. “If they were honest, they would just come out and say, it’s Business 101. We’re trying to protect our turf, and we’ve always attempted to do that.”

Marvel merchandise has been sold in Disney stores and gift shops since shortly after the Marvel acquisition. Now Marvel’s superheroes, including Iron Man and Thor, will soon be featured alongside Disney princesses and Mickey Mouse in some Disney parks. In November, Thor will become the first Marvel character to greet visitors at Disneyland in California. Captain America is expected on cruise ships soon.

Because of an existing agreement with Universal Studios, Disney World in Orlando cannot feature live Marvel characters or create Marvel rides. But merchandise is available.

The fact that Marvel characters crop up around the country in lottery tickets further complicates the issue for Disney. In Colorado this spring, shoppers could buy scratch-off lottery tickets featuring Iron Man. And in Idaho and Texas, the Avengers were featured on scratch-off tickets.

While some consider lottery tickets a benign form of gambling, Keith Whyte, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, said scratch-off tickets are a “gateway” to more serious gambling. Some tickets are even sold in vending machines, making them easily accessible to children, Mr. Whyte said.

For John Sowinski, the president of No Casinos, Disney critics are using the slot machine issue simply to distract.

“They want to change the subject,” he said of the large-casino interests. “They don’t want to have a discussion about the merits of the issue. If Disney wanted to be in the gambling business, they would be, on their cruise ships and elsewhere.”

Last edited by Rumors Rocks; 10-29-2013 at 08:42 AM.
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Old 10-29-2013, 06:30 AM   #2
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Disney does not own Spiderman.

Sony does.
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Old 10-29-2013, 06:50 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Son of Gadsden View Post
Disney does not own Spiderman.

Sony does.
Spider-man is owned by Marvel. Disney purchased Marvel, totally and outright. Sony has a licence with Marvel that gives it certain rights to produce and market the Spider-man films and related merchandise. Disney has a legal obligation to honor Sony's pre-existing contract with Marvel. However, when that contract expires, Sony will lose those rights, and they will return to Disney entirely.
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Old 10-29-2013, 07:16 AM   #4
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I'll take your word for it.

I was under the assumption that Sony owned all rights, but google searches are showing "movie only" rights. I hadn't seen anything relating to Spiderman around anything Disney thus far, so I assumed that was the case.
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Old 10-29-2013, 07:19 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Son of Gadsden View Post
I'll take your word for it.

I was under the assumption that Sony owned all rights, but google searches are showing "movie only" rights. I hadn't seen anything relating to Spiderman around anything Disney thus far, so I assumed that was the case.
The Disney Store sells plenty of Spiderman merchandise, I've bought some for my son so I can verify that Disney does, in fact, have rights to Spiderman.
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Old 10-29-2013, 07:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sosai X View Post
Spider-man is owned by Marvel. Disney purchased Marvel, totally and outright. Sony has a licence with Marvel that gives it certain rights to produce and market the Spider-man films and related merchandise. Disney has a legal obligation to honor Sony's pre-existing contract with Marvel. However, when that contract expires, Sony will lose those rights, and they will return to Disney entirely.


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Old 10-29-2013, 07:42 AM   #7
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Well, I learn something about this odd Marvel situation every day.
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Old 10-29-2013, 07:46 AM   #8
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I don't see Disney at all humiliated! It nothing more then a fact of existing licenses and waiting for them to expire!


Frankly this is a big to do about nothing, the article like some many articles trying to make a issue where there isn't really nothing, writes a title that implies Disney is running a casino or betting polar!

The article admits that the licenses and contracts are expiring and will not be renewed, but continues to comment implying Disney is somehow responsible for the pre Disney contracts and isn't stopping it. Yet they present no evidence that Disney could stop it.

Seems Disney has always demonstrated that they are not into gambling and this is proved by the DCL with no casinos on there ships!

Lets face it folks, the media loves to try and tear down anything with the name *DISNEY*, and when they have nothing or some minor thing, they make it up to seem like they have something!


These type of articles are why so many people rank the media and so called journalist right down there with used car dealers and swamp land real estate sellers.


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Old 10-29-2013, 08:03 AM   #9
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The title of this thread is a bit harsh, me thinks!
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Old 10-29-2013, 08:30 AM   #10
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This article makes no sense. Disney is not humiliated. Allowing Marvel characters on slot machines while opposing legalized large casinos state wide really isn't even a conflict of interest.

Large Las Vegas style casino resorts would be travel destinations, competing with Disney for Florida tourist dollars. Since there are already casinos on Indian reservations, Disney may as well try to get a little piece of that pie through licensing. Reservation casinos are really not a major destination. Most states have them already, they really are not a major player competing for interstate tourist dollars, nor are they a family destination vacation.
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Old 10-29-2013, 08:33 AM   #11
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The title of this thread is a bit harsh, me thinks!
Me too....
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Old 10-29-2013, 09:59 AM   #12
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Odd that their spokeswoman made such sweeping statements regarding the use of Marvel characters on slots. This was a more recent acquisition by Disney. I know all to well that the casino we have up here has a number of Oz machines that are in the most highly visible floor space.

Just seem odd that they would talk about letting Marvel expire, yet allow Oz (which I believe is Disney alone).
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:11 PM   #13
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I would like to question the meaning of the word "content" on this packaging, and I hope we have something better to look forward to. Hoping the sequel is NOT "Disney Princess Superheroes."
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