2016: Know thy enemy

A Las Vegas Sun roundup of the presidential field gives some helpful guidance. For instance, we’ve long known that Jeb Bush (R) was anti-christiecasino, despite gambling expansion on his watch in Florida. Martin O’Malley (D) was in similar circumstances in Maryland but could at best be called a lukewarm supporter. Enthusiastic supporters are relatively few: Lincoln Chafee (D), Chris Christie (R, left) and Donald Trump (R) and, at least to an extent, Rand Paul (R). Bernie Sanders‘ (D) position is inscrutable, although Vermont is hostile territory to gaming, while George Pataki (R) is schizoid, strongly supportive of terrestrial gambling but opposed to it on the Internet. GOP candidates are more often than not opposed to Web wagering … they want Sheldon Adelson‘s money after all.

Some candidates were against gambling before they were for it, such as Continue reading

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From Russia with baccarat; Massachusetts tribe has no quit in it

North Korean, South Korean and northern Chinese punters will relatively soon have at least two opportunities to take short-hop flights to Vladivostok, where two casinos — relatively modest in NagaCorp-Vladivostok-Russia-rendering-e1414487130641budget by American standards — are in progress. The junior of the two is NagaCorp, which is in the first of three phases of what will be a $150 million to $200 million casino, with 100 tables and 500 slots. It’s part of Primorsky Entertainment Resort City, in which NagaCorp is being beaten to the finish line by Lawrence Ho. His $700 million Tigre de Cristal casino should be open by September — four months behind schedule — and will feature 65 tables (divided between VIP and mass-market play), 800 slots and 119 hotel rooms. But if Ho’s running behind schedule, NagaCorp’s just getting started.

Since Nagacorp’s budget has been scaled back from $369 million, it makes you wonder Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, CityCenter, Donald Trump, history, International, Lawrence Ho, Massachusetts, New York, Racinos, Regulation, Slot routes, Technology, The Strip, Tribal | Leave a comment

Atlantic City, Trump Resorts play for time

Atlantic City can breathe a little easier: It’s bought a year’s reprieve from a ballot question which would revoke its casino monopoly.
WhelanTechnically, it could still get done if the Legislature votes it through by August 30. But it has to pass both houses by supermajorities, must be subject to a public hearing and has to sit on the legislative calendar for 20 days. All this, plus the opposition of state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) means the issue is dead for 2015. “I wish it was never going to be on, but at some point I think it will be on the ballot. Given the polling information, I’m not sure it will pass,” said state Sen. James Whelan (D above), who represents the Boardwalk.

Whelan and others believe the issue Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, Carl Icahn, Election, Genting, International, Politics, Sheldon Adelson, Taxes, Trump Entertainment Resorts, TV | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“The next wave of people aren’t going to stand there and play slots. The industry has to change or disappear.” – game developer Greg Giuffria, on the prospect of skill-based slot machines.

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MGM goes to Atlanta; Pechanga named #1

Instead of waiting for an incremental creep of acceptance of gambling in Georgia, MGM Resorts International is taking the bull by the ron stephenshorns. While it says that it is in the “very preliminary” stages of proposing a casino for Atlanta, it also called it “a beautiful market.” MGM has at least been confident enough to share its plans with state Rep. Ron Stephens (R, left), who said, “I’ve seen what they want to do, and it’s going to blow your mind. It’s massive in its size and its elegance. ” He called the $1 billion project a “game-changer,” although the governor and most lawmakers seem inclined to play by the same rules as before.

There is, however, a Stephens-penned constitutional amendment working its way through the legislature that would permit Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, California, Economy, Foxwoods, Georgia, Hard Rock Hotel, Harrah's, Indiana, Internet gambling, Louisiana, MGM Mirage, Mississippi, Mohegan Sun, Neil Bluhm, New York, Pinnacle Entertainment, Politics, Sheldon Adelson, Station Casinos, Technology, The Strip, Tourism, Tribal | Leave a comment

Reprieve for Dotty’s; Straub changes course again

By one vote, Dotty’s eked out a four-month grace period while the Las Vegas City Council ponders whether or not to lower the boom on the newest in this mammoth chain of slot parlors and taverns. Known for Dottys.jpgits homey, smoker-friendly atmosphere, Dotty’s is equally notorious for living dangerously when it comes to the requirement that a restricted gaming licensee’s slot machines be “incidental” to its overall revenue. The new Dotty’s derives a robust 91% of its monies from slot play, which hardly seems “incidental” by any reasonable definition. (On a personal note, I happen to live a couple of blocks from the original Dotty’s, at the intersection of Maryland Parkway and Tropicana Avenue.)

Dotty’s and competitors like Jackpot Joanie‘s ought to be very worried if Continue reading

Posted in Arizona, Atlantic City, Carl Icahn, Dotty's, Foxwoods, Glenn Straub, Laughlin, Massachusetts, Regulation, Tribal, Trump Entertainment Resorts | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

Trump in LV“Yes, the 2016 Republican field is so wide and diverse it includes perhaps the nation’s first presidential candidate with his own fragrance, and, it must be noted, not just any fragrance. Success has ‘a masculine combination of rich vetiver, tonka bean, birchwood and musk,’ and ‘captures the spirit of the driven man.’” — National Review Editor Rich Lowry on “Success by Trump,” the cologne of bankruptcy.

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Mohegan Sun’s eastern inspiration; Bumper crop in Colorado

You’d never know Mohegan Sun has been experiencing financial difficulties on the home front to judge by the scale and expense of its InspireSouth Korean partnership with Incheon International Airport Corp. The two sides have finalized conceptual plans for Inspire Integrated Resort and they’re ambitious to say the least. The linchpin would be a 250-table, 1,500-slot casino, augmented by two hotel towers with an aggregate 1,000 rooms. Other components would be a retail mall, art gallery, music venue, an arena seating 20,000 people, an amusement park, a “Korean cosmetic and beauty hub [and] a Korean village celebrating Korean food and music, and a Native American cultural and arts experience.” You know, just your average casino.

An incomplete cost estimate for Inspire tops out at Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Colorado, Economy, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Neil Bluhm, Regulation, South Korea, Steve Wynn, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Macao: Victory or status quo?; No more soft opening at Linq

Deutsche Bank was predicting a 37% dropoff in Macao gaming revenues for June. They came in 36% under last year’s numbers. Is this Galaxy Macaogood news or not-so-bad news? Probably the latter. The novelty factor of Galaxy Phase II was quick to fade (everywhere except at Galaxy, it seems), as the sequential decline in Macao from May to June was 12%, not the historical 8%. Galaxy, however, evicted Sands China from the top spot in market share of table-game play, 24% to 22%, with Sociedade de Jogos de Macau close behind at 20%.

Wynn Macau (11%) and MGM Grand Paradise (10.5%) did surprisingly well against Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Economy, Environment, Harrah's, Macau, Melco Crown Entertainment, MGM Mirage, Sheldon Adelson, Stanley Ho, Steve Wynn, Technology, The Strip, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Loveman: The blessed and the damned

Bankruptcy’s good for Caesars Entertainment Operating Co., which posted a $53 million profit in April (not having to pay interest on IMG-20130507-00006$18.4 billion in debt can’t hurt). As for outgoing CEO Gary Loveman, his move upstairs to the chairmanship of the Caesars Entertainment empire plays to mixed reviews in the Wall Street Journal. He is praised for acts of kindness toward the families of Caesars executives, as well as for a willingness to take the mickey out of himself (not a trait I witnessed in any of several encounters with Loveman).

He also gets zinged for his decision to live in Boston and essentially run Caesars from Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Harrah's, Macau, Marketing, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pinnacle Entertainment, Regulation, South Korea, The Strip | Leave a comment

This just in … Trump dumped

Our long television nightmare is over.

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Pushback against Adelson; Packer’s pretension

“Poker is an all-American game. It’s a game that I learned as a teen and continue to play today. Just like millions of other players I enjoy the Bartonstrategy and skill involved.” So said Rep. Joe Barton (R) as he introduced the Internet Poker Freedom Act, a counterthrust to Rep. Jason Chaffetz‘s efforts to shut down online gambling altogether. (It should be noted that Internet gambling was never outlawed at the federal level, only the processing of financial transactions related thereto … creating a legal penumbra in which operators like PokerStars continued to operate.)

Unfortunately, Barton’s bill would authorize the federal government to license Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Australia, California, CityCenter, Cosmopolitan, Entertainment, Hard Rock Hotel, Harrah's, International, Internet gambling, James Packer, Lawrence Ho, Macau, PokerStars, Politics, Regulation, Taxes, The Strip, Warner Gaming | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“Can the one-armed bandit reinvent itself? There is no doubt that gaming, specifically the slot machine, needs a face-lift.” — Deutsche Bank analyst Andrew Zarnett on new developments in casino technology.

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Dispatch from Macao

Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli visited Macao recently and found “limited signs of help on the way.” For instance, the anti-Sands-Cotai-Centralcorruption campaign continues merrily forward, with arrests up 32% from last year. Give a dearth of VIP play, operators are moving more table games into the mass-market areas in their Cotai projects. There’s also hope, albeit cautious, that a compromise may be worked out in the no-smoking policy whereby smoking lounges could be retained on casino floors.

While Santarelli senses no major decline in business forthcoming, “we found nothing thesis changing and continue to see more Continue reading

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Strip treads water in May; Penn a big hit in Massachusetts

For all the hoopla about the (fixed?) Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, Strip gaming revenues sent mixed signals. The game that matters most, baccarat, saw somewhat less play (-7%) but the house got beaten badly, Baccaratits winnings down 36%. By contrast, all other table games saw 23% more volume and revenue. Slot coin-in was up 6% but here luck was with the house, which saw 12% higher winnings. Concluded J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Greff, “Overall, we continue to think that LV Strip can generate low to mid-single RevPAR and visitation growth, though given a likely slowdown in Chinese players, we expect the market to continue to experiencing volatility in baccarat play.”

While the Strip only saw 1% growth overall, locals play generated an Continue reading

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Adelson’s minions do his bidding; Seminoles lose patience

Two presidential aspirants, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R) and Marco Rubio (R), joined forces with a gaggle of other senators in Macau Sands New Casinoreintroducing “Restoration of America’s Wire Act,” Sheldon Adelson‘s pet vehicle for keeping his competitors out of Internet gambling. Among those joining Graham were Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D) and Kelly Ayotte (R), giving the bill bipartisan and bicoastal sponsorship. It’s not clear from the language if state lotteries would still be allowed to use servers outside their borders but the horsey set still gets a carve-out for bets on the ponies.

Free-market conservatives are expected to oppose the bill, as are Continue reading

Posted in Florida, Harrah's, Internet gambling, Macau, MGM Mirage, Politics, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, Technology, The Mob, Tribal | Leave a comment

Ruffin loses in Kansas; Expanded New Jersey gambling dissed

Three casino proposals were weighed in the balance and two were found wanting, as the Kansas State Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board sifted the pros and cons, ultimately settling on the
ruffinlowest-budgeted of the contenders, Kansas Crossing. The project, named for its strategic location at the intersection of U.S. 400 and U.S. 69, was deemed to be of the best size and the most realistic in its revenue projections. The fact that several of its investors, somewhat incestuously, are involved with two other Kansas casinos actually counted as a plus. Kansas Crossing got five of the seven votes.

Phil Ruffin‘s Camptown Casino didn’t garner a single Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, International, Kansas, Marketing, Massachusetts, Mohegan Sun, Phil Ruffin, Politics, Racinos, Tribal | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

Glendale casino 2“I understand the desire to stick it to the tribe, given that it has outmaneuvered, well, everyone. But this lawsuit seems like a loser for the state … I haven’t seen any signs of plague ravaging the land. No frogs running amok. Not so much as a single locust.” — Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts, advocating that the state, with political jujitsu, legalize racinos instead of continuing to fight the Tohono O’odham Nation‘s Glendale casino project.

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Big legal bill for Steve Wynn; SLS Las Vegas craters

In case Steve Wynn is having second thoughts that maybe it was a bad idea to try and muzzle stock-picker James Chanos, a federal court Wynn Forbesmade it official. On top of two defeats in the courtroom, Wynn has been handed a $422,380 bill for Chanos’ legal expenses. Chanos had asked for six hundred dimes but, as John L. Smith puts it, “I’m guessing Wynn’s legal eagles didn’t brag to their client that they got him a nifty 25 percent discount.”

Chanos’ crime was basically to tell the truth about the volatility of the Macao casino business and its treacherous undercurrents. As though to Continue reading

Posted in Colony Capital, Cosmopolitan, Entertainment, Genting, James Packer, Macau, Marketing, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Sahara, Sam Nazarian, Sheldon Adelson, SLS Las Vegas, Steve Wynn, The Mob, The Strip, Tribal, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Billion-dollar bonanza in Macao; Mob boss returns

Casino investment in the U.S. has largely been a bust for private equity firms. However, two funds — Silver Point Capital and Oaktree Capital Management — could be about to hit the jackpot in Macao. macau-studio-cityIt seems that Melco Crown Entertainment just secured a package of loans and credit lines. What do Lawrence Ho and James Packer plan to do with all that money, especially since they intend to draw down the loan portion immediately?

The answer is, buy out Silver Point and Oaktree, making Melco Crown the sole owner of Studio City, its rescue project on Continue reading

Posted in Economy, International, James Packer, Lawrence Ho, Macau, Melco Crown Entertainment, MGM Mirage, Singapore, Stanley Ho, The Mob, Tourism, Wall Street | Leave a comment