Tipping point in Pennsylvania near; Cirque du NFL

“I think gaming expansion money in one form or another is necessary for this budget process to be complete,” spoke Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R). With Gov. Tom Wolf (D, right) having given way on sales-tax and income-tax increases, Tom Wolfexpanding gambling is one of the few remaining ways to close a budget shortfall. Accordingly, the House has voted to permit online betting, as well as slot routes in OTBs and airport lounges. Faced with a great hue and cry from the state’s casino industry, the House trimmed the legislation to remove a provision that would enable any bar in the state to house a slot route. So it’s a partial victory for the industry, especially if it can get to host online casinos. After the initial flurry of legislative victories in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, the Keystone State is the one where i-gaming has come closest to taking root. Almost every casino in Pennsylvania has lobbied for it, with the notable and predictable exception of Sands Bethlehem, an opponent.

Let’s not start counting the money yet. The House needs to vote a second time on Continue reading

Posted in Cirque du Soleil, Economy, International, Internet gambling, Lawrence Ho, Macau, Marketing, Melco Crown Entertainment, MGM Mirage, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Politics, Sheldon Adelson, Slot routes, Sports, Station Casinos, Steve Wynn, Taxes, The Strip, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

CAESARS-ENTERTAINMENT-LOGO“We really could talk this monstrosity to death for the rest of our lives. We’re not going to. We’re going to finish this now.” — U.S. Bankruptcy Judge A. Benjamin Goldgar, giving the go-ahead for a creditor vote on Caesars Entertainment Operating Co.’s bankruptcy plan.

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NHL makes it official; Isle opens new casino

Fortunately, it looks like we won’t have to worry about our NHL-franchise-to-be playing under a cliched name like “Las Vegas Gamblers.” Says majority owner Bill Foley, Monte Carlo Theater, The Park, Arena Renderingspeaking of the league, “They’d prefer we don’t go in that direction.” Also, Foley seems pretty much set on Black Knights. A West Point grad, Foley wants to with team colors the same as those at the Point: black, gray and gold. (I have mixed feelings about this: When I lived in Minneapolis, the preferred street-gang gear was either of the Chicago White Sox or the Oakland Raiders, with their silver-on-black color schemes.) As for holding a contest to name the team, there’s not enough time. “We want to get our merchandise out in the stores as quickly as possible,” Foley told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Also-ran team names were “Las Vegas Aces” (hackneyed to the umpeenth degree), “Las Vegas Scorpions” (appropriate, particularly with Continue reading

Posted in Donald Trump, Election, Entertainment, Iowa, Isle of Capri, Maryland, MGM Mirage, New York, Rhode Island, Sports, The Mob, The Strip, Westgate LV | Leave a comment

Doing it the right way

In keeping with the aphorism that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce, Glenn Straub‘s fire-aim-ready attempt to reopen Revel continues to drag on, providing tropicana_havanaan object lesson in how not to open a casino. As though to shame Straub by example, the Tropicana is officially debuting $40 million worth of upgrades. The Press of Atlantic City enumerates these as “redesigned Havana Tower hotel rooms, a new high-limit slot area, the addition of a property entrance on Pacific Ave, a Luxe Hair Salon, a Corner Market, Ivan Kane’s Kiss Kiss a Go-Go, a Trop Advantage Rewards Center and five all-new multimedia light and sound shows on the Boardwalk.”

Owner Carl Icahn and CEO Anthony Rodio are doubling down on last year’s $50 makeover, refusing to rest on their laurels — which may be why Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Carl Icahn, Internet gambling, Macau, New York, Politics, Problem gambling, Revel, Stanley Ho, Tropicana Entertainment | 1 Comment

Quote of the Day

“It’s fun to see stuff get teared down so…” — area resident Raiyanne Shepher, on the demolition prefacing construction of MGM Springfield.

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Revel … still not open; Cautious hope for Internet gambling in Pennsylvania

Glenn Straub‘s once-bold gambit to reopen Revel has turned into an embarrassing face-plant. Perhaps rushing to market in hopes of beating Bart Blatstein‘s Showboat to the hotel traffic, Straub announced a hasty revival of Revel as a casino-hotel without securing the necessary permissions first. Last Friday, two days after his self-imposed deadline for getting Revel back in business, Straub finally got around to applying for a certificate of occupancy. As of last Thursday, the sewer lines were still blocked (they have been subsequently unplugged).“It’s the first time we cut off a casino. It’s gonna come flying out 100 miles per hour,” said a utility worker of the backed-up waste. Tomorrow, city inspectors will check out Revel’s fire-suppression infrastructure, along with its electrical and water systems. More damningly, not only does Revel have no official name at this point, it appears that Straub has hired no new workforce. Approval of elevators and escalators for use is going slowly.

He also doesn’t have a casino license and the New Jersey Casino Control Commission isn’t allowing Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Atlantic City, Dan Gilbert, Detroit, Environment, Glenn Straub, Internet gambling, MGM Mirage, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Politics, Regulation, Revel, Slot routes, Sports, Technology | 1 Comment

Louisiana gets hammered; Three states legalize DFS

As we’ve noted before, May was hard on Midwest casino operators, nowhere more so than in Louisiana, where gambling revenue was down 13%. This marks seven months of same-store decline for the Pelican State, an exceptional slump, with the usually booming lauberge_exteriorLake Charles market taking the hardest hit, -16.5%. That led to a 19% tailspin for Pinnacle Entertainment, although although all major operators — Boyd Gaming -11%, Caesars Entertainment -10%, Gaming & Leisure Properties -15%, Isle of Capri Casinos -16% — had a rough go of it. Not only did Pinnacle’s L’Auberge du Lac ($21 million) plunge 29%, it lost primacy in Lake Charles to the Golden Nugget ($23 million, 5%), a signal victory for owner Tilman Fertitta. Also-rans in the market were Isle Grand Palais ($10 million, -16%) and Boyd’s Delta Downs ($16 million, -11%).

Caesars got to say it was No. 1 again, as Harrah’s New Orleans shrugged off a 3.5% dip to record $23 million and change for top-grossing status in the state. Elsewhere in the Big Easy, Churchill Downs actually Continue reading

Posted in Boyd Gaming, California, Churchill Downs, Colorado, Economy, Eldorado Resorts, GLPI, Golden Gaming, Harrah's, Internet gambling, Isle of Capri, Louisiana, MGM Mirage, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Pinnacle Entertainment, Regulation, Sports, The Strip, Tilman Fertitta, Tribal, Tropicana Entertainment, Wall Street | 2 Comments

Quote of the Day

Trump face“… when a ball bounced into the Trumps’ grassy yard, he would not throw the ball back but instead would yell, ‘I’m going to tell my dad; I’m going to call the police.’” — Laura Manuelidis, on how adolescent Donald Trump prefigured old Donald Trump (who would go on to throw a tantrum when scalp-reduction surgery to remove a bald spot went awry.)

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Little relief for Caesars; Atlantic City braces for labor strife

It’s out of the frying pan and straight into the fire for Caesars Entertainment. Federal bankruptcy court has put a temporary halt on litigation against the casino giant, giving it IMG-20130507-00006until Aug. 29 to cut a new deal with bondholders. As far as the pesky junior ones, like Appaloosa Management‘s David Tepper are concerned, what Caesars is offering them is such a fraction of what the senior lenders and bondholders stand to collect that they’re as unlikely to settle two months hence as they were two months ago. Caesars simply can’t or won’t sweeten the pot sufficiently. Besides, it might be more lucrative to sue Caesars for the assets it pillaged from Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. Of these suspect transactions, the court’s own examiner has written: “The principal question being investigated was whether in structuring and implementing these transactions assets were removed from CEOC to the detriment of CEOC and its creditors. The simple answer to this question is ‘yes.'”

Caesars has also taken the blithe attitude that it’s no longer obligated to Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, Carl Icahn, Donald Trump, Eldorado Resorts, Geoff Freeman, Harrah's, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Pinnacle Entertainment, Politics, Slot routes, Sports, Taxes, The Mob, The Strip, Tropicana Entertainment, Trump Entertainment Resorts, Unite-Here | Leave a comment

Atlantic City goes to pot; MGM, Boyd, Pinnacle, Red Rock Resorts meet The Street

We’ve come a long way from the days of Reefer Madness. Latest case in point: Atlantic City, where Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D) is pushing recreational “tea” as a cure to the city’s penurious condition. Weed would be legalized on the Boardwalk and taxed 20%. atlantic_city_boatHalf of that amount would go to alleviating Atlantic City’s fiscal problems, another 30% would be dedicated to transportation infrastructure, and the remainder would be split between anti-drug enforcement and women’s health. Gusciora’s introduced legislation called “Promoting Opportunities for Tomorrow” (POT, geddit?), arguing that prosecuting marijuana offenses “is archaic and has had a disparate, harmful impact on minority communities … A well-designed and heavily regulated marijuana industry would move Atlantic City’s economy into the 21st century and provide extreme economic benefits to a new generation of Atlantic City residents and business interests, including existing hotels and casinos.” (You can see the casinos installing enclosed, pot-smoking lounges even as we speak, can’t you?)

Gusciora’s idea doesn’t appeal to all his fellow Democrats. “Though we appreciate the Assemblyman’s efforts to Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Boulder Strip, Boyd Gaming, Cannery Casino Resorts, CityCenter, Economy, Georgia, Glenn Straub, Harrah's, Illinois, Indiana, Internet gambling, Macau, Marketing, Maryland, MGM Mirage, Mississippi, Missouri, Palms, Pinnacle Entertainment, Politics, Reno, Scientific Games, Station Casinos, The Strip, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

Slot player“I don’t like playing slots. Just hitting a button over and over again to see what pops up is boring. Makes me feel like a test rat that gets addicted to hitting a trigger because it results in cheese, unpredictably and randomly.” — Raving Consulting Marketing Manager Gency Warren (age 29), expressing her generation’s view of bread-and-butter casino gambling.

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Quote of the Day

“My sense is that they are likely to be quite dangerous devices and they’re certainly not the kind of thing that’s going to attract your high-rollers and exotic gamblers. James Packer is not going to drop into Canberra Casino in his Aston Martin and play automated table games.” — Monash University professor Charles Livingstone, employing scare tactics Down Under.

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The perils of Packer; Straub misses deadline

There’s been another hiccup in the Alon saga, as billionaire James Packer is restructuring his Crown Resorts portfolio “to shield his Australian assets from a prolonged downturn in the Chinese gambling hub” of Macao, according to Bloomberg. Packer’s share of Nobu, the Alon site and British casino operator Aspers Group will all be spun off into a new entity, as will be $2 billion worth of shares in Melco Crown Entertainment. The move is, simply put, an effort to protect the value of Crown’s Australian casinos from the effects of Macao’s recession, where profits are a sixth of what they were three years ago and which has seen Crown’s share price wither 30% over two years.

Lest you think this means curtains for Alon, Las Vegas developments are assured of a “reasonable-sized war chest.” As for what will remain Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Australia, Glenn Straub, International, Internet gambling, James Packer, Law enforcement, Massachusetts, Melco Crown Entertainment, Penn National, Revel | Leave a comment

NHL picks Las Vegas; Borgata carries Atlantic City

It’s not been officially confirmed and it’s not a final decision, but The Associated Press is reporting that the NHL‘s executive committee has chosen Las Vegas businessman Bill Foley‘s proposal to create an expansion franchise in Sin City. In a high-sticking blow to LasVegasArena_Exteriortraditional hockey markets, the committee passed over a similar bid from Quebec City. If approved by the NHL’s 30 owners, the Las Vegas team would start play in the 2017-18 season. Although not involved with the ownership of the team, this is also a win for MGM Resorts International, which will be able to fill at least 50 nights at T-Mobile Arena (200 more if the team makes the playoffs — I jest). Already, 13,200 seats are spoken for at T-Mobile, which holds 17,500 puck fans in its hockey configuration.

Most importantly, an ownership vote in favor of Las Vegas would end the longstanding stigma that the community has had with major-league sports. If NHL ownership isn’t bothered by sports betting and Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, Current, Harrah's, Internet gambling, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, PokerStars, Sports, The Strip, Tilman Fertitta, Tropicana Entertainment, Wall Street | 1 Comment

Penn has big plans for Trop; DFS sites feel the heat

High rollers aren’t spending as much as they used to at Penn National Gaming casinos, reports JP Morgan analyst Joseph Greff, after meeting with CEO Tim Wilmott. Penn logoOverall, Penn says its springtime revenues have been tracking with its expectations. Greff writes that “overall trends for its consumers remain relatively positive with stable housing prices, modest wage inflation, and job growth in its major markets.” The sanguine outlook of casino executives, whose job is to look at the bottom line, continues to contrast starkly with the free-floating rage encountered in the body politic.

That being said, Penn had predominantly good news to disclose, although it seems no closer to finding outside financing for Hollywood Jamul (which just cleared a significant hurdle). It could happen in a month or it could Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, California, Colorado, Dining, Economy, Election, Florida, Internet gambling, Isle of Capri, Marketing, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Penn National, Stanley Ho, Technology, The Strip, Tribal, Wall Street | 2 Comments

Riviera goes down

Of all the implosions I’ve watched in Las Vegas since 1999, I can’t remember one being prefaced with three minutes of fireworks. Here’s the whole shebang of the demolition of the Riviera‘s Monaco Tower, marred only by an unfortunate change of camera angle, just as the building’s collapse gains momentum. Due to asbestos issues, I wonder if the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority will make such a big production of the implosion of the Monte Carlo tower, expected to happen in August. Anyway, since implosions are the guilty pleasure of casino lovers, Continue reading

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Quote of the Day

Would that our politicians could speak as directly and selflessly to the genocide in Orlando as Jimmy Fallon does.

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More gridlock in California; Caesars ownership ups the ante … sorta

California lawmakers’ push for legalized i-gaming appears to run into an insuperable obstacle. Just when it looked like state Rep. Adam Gray had devised language that would Adam Graytap-dance around the “bad actor” issue, the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians and Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, along with their allies, wrote him to say, “we regret that your amendments related to suitability standards and taxation force us to oppose the bill.” This returns us to a familiar impasse in California, dividing the supporters of PokerStars (Gray’s allies) from those for whom PokerStars is toxic. Pechanga Chairman Mark Macarro basically called upon PokerStars’ adherents to abandon it: “We have made concessions. Racing has made concessions. It’s time for the other group to make meaningful concessions if they truly want iPoker legalized in California,” he wrote. In case anybody didn’t the message, he added, “Our position is rooted in shaping policy that protects tribal rights, not give a boost to the stock prices of publicly traded companies desperate to get iPoker at any cost.” Publicly traded companies? Trying to peddle iPoker? Nah, doesn’t sound like anybody we know.

* Now that even first-tier bondholders are balking at Caesars Entertainment‘s emergence-from-bankruptcy plan, Continue reading

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Indiana celebrates 20 years of casinos; Racinos gain traction in Nebraska

“I read that one of the steel plants is closing more lines. We have 70 jobs open right now,” says Horseshoe Hammond General Manager Dan Nita, alluding to the resiliency of Indianathe Indiana casino industry, which is celebrating 20 years. Some of the initial players, like Don Barden (R.I.P.) and Donald Trump are long gone from the scene but the riverboat casinos are still there are and still important donors to the tax base. A study by the Chicago Tribune finds that unemployment is still high in Gary and Hammond, and casino workforces are two-thirds what they were before the Great Recession. However, the Tribune also chronicles a comeback in casino employment and excellent chances for advancement within the riverboats themselves (102 Majestic Star employees have been on the job since Day One, 114 at Horseshoe Hammond).

Casinos “brought 4,000 to 6,000 jobs to cities that needed jobs desperately. That’s 1.6 percent of all jobs in Northwest Indiana. I’d call that significant,” Indiana University Northwest professor Micah Pollak told Continue reading

Posted in Ameristar, Don Barden, Donald Trump, Economy, Election, Entertainment, Genting, Harrah's, Indiana, Iowa, Majestic Star, Marketing, Minnesota, Nebraska, Pinnacle Entertainment, Sheldon Adelson, Singapore, Tribal, Warner Gaming | Leave a comment

Trump: How to make out like a bandit; Big plans for Station

To give the devil his due, if you visit Trump Taj Mahal and are dismayed because “carpets are frayed and dust-coated chandeliers dangle above the few customers there to trumpplay the penny slot machines,” you are not entirely witnessing the handiwork of Donald Trump. After all, while he remained on a fat retainer as a pitchman for Trump Entertainment Resorts, he also beefed loudly about the spare-every-expense mentality of lead owner Marc Lasry and his bungling, hand-picked CEO, Bob Griffin, dredged up from the ranks of MTR Gaming, another company that is gone with the wind. (To be fair, Trump was making money from canny side deals with Lasry, including a $390,000 helicopter lease and the $197,000 layout for a year’s worth of Trump Ice Water. “The flavor of bombast,” perhaps?)

However, Trump’s characteristically hyperbolic claims to have been a successful Atlantic City gaming tycoon are coming under belated scrutiny. The New York Times took a hard look and concluded Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, Donald Trump, Harrah's, IGT, MTR Gaming, Palms, Regulation, Riviera, Station Casinos, Technology, The Strip, Tilman Fertitta, Transportation, Trump Entertainment Resorts, Wall Street | Leave a comment