Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen (below) must be the optimistic politician alive. She’s not only OK with Saratoga Raceway & Casino taking its expansion plans elsewhere, she actually gave it her blessing, boasting of her city’s “thriving downtown, successful city center, two horse race tracks and a wealth of natural beauty and cultural assets.”
What Saratoga Raceway owners propose to do is build an offsite casino in East Greenbush, a town that voted favorably in last November’s casino referendum. This would give Saratoga Raceway a satellite facility in the Albany area, just across the Hudson River. To this end, Saratoga investors have bought 72 acres in East Greenbush — chosen from among 15 sites — and are prepared to invest $300 million in a casino. They’ve optioned another 380 acres for a spa and golf course. Praising his “spectacular” new view of Albany, lead investor James Featherstonhaugh said “Our decision there is final: We’re going to bid from East Greenbush … I’m really excited about the location and what we can do there.”
East Greenbush officials are on record as supporting “reasonable” casino development, although what is reasonable Continued >>
Casinos in Ohio are already becoming a veritable laundromat of money laundering. The practice, called “smurfing,” calls for one person — or a group of conspirators — to buy casino chips, then redeem them, “washing” their cash by those means. Ohio lawmakers are trying to crack down on the practice, at the behest of regulators. They’d be the first to do so. But the process is hung up on a difference of philosophy. The state Senate has already passed the law but its House equivalent is hamstrung by a well-meant amendment introduced in the upper house by state Sen. Larry Obhof (R). It would further shrink the loopholes whereby Internet cafes function as de facto casinos, limiting their revenue from sweepstakes games to 5% or less. The House GOP, however, favors a clean bill, so the future of smurfing hinges on their ability to get one.
MGM Resorts International has solved the problem of what to do with its north-Strip acre on the corner of Sahara Avenue. The land will become the site of a 33-acre concert venue that can host 80,000. It will be the North American home of biennial Continued >>
When it comes to the U.S. gaming market, there’s nothing that can stand between James Packer and a bad investment, it seems, common sense least of all. According to Australian media reports, Deutsche Bank wants $1.5 billion-$2 billion for The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Packer intends to “lodge an expression of interest” today. Howard Stutz provides a partial litany of Packer’s missteps in the U.S. gaming market, which also include duff investments in Fontainebleau, Station Casinos and then-Harrah’s Entertainment. If it was a bad idea, Packer was all in.
Today’s news reminds us how much we’ve missed Packer. Making fun of his terrible investments was great sport. Maybe his Crown Entertainment casino chain and Melco Crown Entertainment partnership can bring in whales from Australia and Macao, respectively, and get some action going on The Cosmo’s anemic casino floor. Because, let’s face it, The Cosmo has a busted business model and it will take all of Packer’s ingenuity to turn it back into a casino, not a restaurant row with slots on the ground floor. However, with casino projects going in Brisbane, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, plus the promise to build a $5 billion megaresort in Japan, Packer may be starting to stretch himself pretty thin.
Further up the Strip, casino action is already happening at Continued >>