New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is already throwing in the towel on his five-year plan for Atlantic City. If lawmakers want to put a statewide expansion of casino gambling on this fall’s ballot, Christie would “have absolutely no problem with that question going on the ballot right away … The competition’s only going to grow, in New York [where Saratoga Casino & Racewayis adding a hotel and electronic table games] in particular. And so if we could plant our flag firmly in the ground, I think it would make the project even more successful.”
“The biggest challenge of Internet gambling in the U.S. is that this is an industry still looked at as having been born out of sin. The new world of Internet gambling is clearly regulated and regulatable.” — 888 Holdings attorney Gil White, during an address to the East Coast Gaming Congress.
Gaming expansion is being introduced in the Illinois Legislature again and it has a pretty familiar look: a city-owned casino (the only one) in Chicago, four casinos scattered around the state, including one in Rockford, plus a pair of smaller (600-slot) satellite casinos, one in Decatur and the other potentially as far south as Cairo. Racinos, however, are out of the picture. The Chicago casino would get to keep all its revenue for seven years, as a means of satisfying growing pension obligations. However, lawmakers don’t have much time to get this done, since they adjourn on Sunday.
Baccarat play on the Las Vegas Strip improved by double-digit numbers for the second month in a row, up 14% in April, contributing to an 8% upward surge on the Strip. Baccarat revenues rose 5%, while all other table games improved 4% despite a smaller increase in action, and slot revenue shot up 11% although coin-in only grew very modestly. “Overall, we continue to think that LV Strip can generate low to mid-single [room revenue] and visitation growth, though the market will/should continue to experience volatility in baccarat play given a likely slowdown in Chinese players,” wrote J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Greff.
Who knew that Gary Loveman was a creditor of Caesars Entertainment? His compensation package has been identified as among those adversely affected by Caesars Entertainment Operating Co.’s bankruptcy. The Chapter 11 proceeding has impacted five deferred-compensation plans, two of which will resume payouts since they overlap between Caesars and CEOC. “Based on a review of plans and related documents, we determined Caesars Entertainment is likely to be jointly liable with CEOC for certain deferred compensation liabilities. As a result, we recorded and disclosed the liability and resumed the related payments that had been discontinued,” said Teneo Strategy‘s Steven Cohen.
Reality continues to sink in at Revel, where Glenn Straubhas thrown in the towel on reopening this summer — raising the prospect of a grand-reopening in the cold-weather months. Not very auspicious, that. Labor Day is the target date for getting the amenities back online and even that is a tentative date. Unable to get electrical power from other sources, Straub will continue his shotgun wedding with ACR Energy Partners for the foreseeable future. “They’re putting roadblocks up,” he complained.
Meanwhile, Straub finds himself in the middle of a legal wrangle between Continue reading →
Well, that’s it. With the exclusion of evidence gathered from all three Caesars Palace VIP villas used by Paul Phua, the federal government’s case against the poker pro collapses ignominiously. U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon had already tossed all the goodies that the FBI had scooped up from Phua’s main villa, allegedly the nerve center of a renegade sports book operation. Now he has also excluded what was found in two ancillary villas, including “an array of computers and television monitors set up to handle the action.”
Operating profits in Atlantic City don’t tell the whole story: The Showboat was notoriously in the black when Caesars Entertainment closed it but the company said it was running at a loss … thanks to interest payments with which CEO Gary Loveman had burdened it. Still, Atlantic City is coming off a very profitable April, up from $39 million last year to $81 million, with Borgata alone contributing $38.5 million worth of good news. “We aggressively reached out [to orphaned players] and the customer base found Borgata to be a nice home,” said President Joe Lupo.
“You can go to any country club in Alabama on Saturday night and get into a high-stakes poker game … You let the tribes operate gambling and people perceive that Indians and money are incompatible.” — Poarch Band of Creek Indians Chairman Eddie Tullis, on the hypocrisy of Cotton State policy.
Golden Nugget Lake Charles continues to be the outboard engine that speeds up Louisiana gaming revenues. The Pelican State was up 4% last month — but 13% when Tilman Fertitta‘s casino is added to the tally. It even made inroads upon L’Auberge du Lac, shaving 4% from what that Pinnacle Entertainment property made last year. L’Auberge, however, continued to dominate the market in sheer dollars: $31 million to Golden Nugget’s $18 million. Nearby Isle Grand Palais made a modest gain, while Boyd Gaming‘s Delta Downs was up 3%.
“There are actual reports posted as to where the ATMs were that cards were used by Kansas residents … at liquor stores, cigarette shops, strip joints. Casinos was another.” — state Sen. Caryn Tyson (R), justifying the state’s crackdown on welfare recipients.
Various law enforcement agencies are richer to the tune of $9.6 million after nailing an offshore betting ring that extended all the way to Panama. The case started humbly enough, with some Albany County jail officers found to be involved with the illegal Internet gambling sites. Joined by other constabularies, the Albany County Sheriff’s Department worked its way up the food chain. The FBI‘s Boston, Miami and Oklahoma branches became involved, conducting literally tens of thousands of wiretaps, not to mention monitoring other forms of electronic communication.
Las Vegas Sands‘ CEO Sheldon Adelson’s pet piece of legislation, “Restoring America’s Wire Act” turns out to have a raft of unintended consequences, several of which would kneecap the casino industry. For one, it would ban mobile gambling, which is a headline amenity at — you guessed it — Venetian and Palazzo, last known to be owned by one Sheldon Gary Adelson. Local attorney Greg Gemignani also found that RAWA could interfere with server-based gaming. Howard Stutzhas the full analysis but suffice it to say it would be very costly for Continue reading →
Penn National Gaming CEO Tim Wilmott recently broke bread with J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Greff, who found Penn management “positive and primarily focused on PENN’s robust development pipeline,” which it thinks will produce improved cash flow even before the Tropicana Las Vegas is added to the equation. “Additionally, regional gaming trends can be described as more encouraging than not and our review of April trends and May’s comparison would suggest that they are likely Continue reading →
Jonathan Litt‘s battle for control of MGM Resorts International‘s destiny is over almost before it was begun. His Land & Buildings firm has dropped its slate of candidates for the MGM board of directors, after failing to gain traction with major shareholders like Kirk Kerkorian and John Paulson. As for Litt’s vision of $55/share MGM stock, Union Gaming analyst Chris Jones dismissed it as Pollyanna thinking.
With so much Las Vegas Strip acreage either in flux (Tropicana Las Vegas, Hooters Casino Hotel) or newly on the market (“Project Jackpot”), CBRE Las Vegas has been moved to unleash 60.5 acres on Harmon Avenue that were the graveyard of three victims of the condo bubble. The centerpiece is the land optioned for a George Clooney-planned resort called Las Ramblas, which “called for 11 towers encompassing a 4,400 room luxury hotel, condominium residences, a spa and health club, nightclubs and a casino.” That pipe dream burnt out in 2006, right on the verge of groundbreaking. Next door was another bust-o-rama, Continue reading →
Caesars Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman‘s decision to pull out of the troubled Baha Mar metaresort may represent one of the best judgment calls he ever made. The $3 billion Bahamas resort has missed three deadlines to open and has received the rather dubious governmental assurance that it’s “too big to fail.” (Rule of thumb: Those enterprises which are too big to fail generally do just that.) “It can’t sit there idle it must eventually open,” said a desperate minister of state. Whistling past the graveyard, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe said that when Baha Mar eventually opens, “the same enthusiasm will be there because of what it represents. It will require a tremendous amount of marketing, and a lot of events centred around the opening, but it will be outstanding.”
Last Thursday, casino boosters from Somerset were expected to show up a Massachusetts Gaming Commission hearing and ask for yet another delay to get their act together. Instead, they surprised the MGC and the rest of us by simply pulling out of the running. Crossroads Massachusetts never had a firm plan and, worse yet, didn’t have the money it needed. “Nothing surprises me in this business. We never know who is in or out until the last minute,”said an unfazed MGC Chairman Stephen Crosby.
The MGC also gave provisional permission for KG Urban Enterprises to move towards a June referendum, provided that Continue reading →
“Wisconsin cannot have it both ways. The state must entirely prohibit poker within its borders if it wants to prevent the [Ho-Chunk] Nation or any other Indian tribe from offering poker on the tribe’s sovereign lands. When the state decriminalized hosting poker for taverns, it could no longer deny that game to tribes as a matter of federal law.” — U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Diane Wood, handing a victory to the National Indian Gaming Commission and the Ho-Chunk tribe, and a defeat to Wisconsin’s attempts to strip the tribe of its video poker machines.