Potential free-for-all in Massachusetts; Tribal triumph in Alabama

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey took time out from impeding Steve Wynn‘s Everett casino to run a cart and horses through the Legislature’s carefully crafted three-casinos-and-healey_mauraone-slot-parlor formula. She approved a ballot question that seemed tailor-made to give Suffolk Downs racino status, although Downs COO Chip Tuttle protested, “It’s not us.” East Boston casino opponents, however, weren’t buying it and proceeded to rend their garments in dismay. “There is something so maddening about the idea that we have to do this again,” said one, while another groused, “I would feel that this is a complete circumvention of the community process.”

Although the ballot language, without naming a specific track, is explicit enough in Continue reading

Posted in Alabama, Atlantic City, Delaware, Election, Harrah's, Internet gambling, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Racinos, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, Steve Wynn, Technology, Tribal | Leave a comment

Reality check at Sands; Bonanza in Baltimore

Sheldon Adelson risks making himself look in denial with his continuing insistence that the economic troubles in Macao are Sheldon Acyclical. This is B.S.: There has never been a ‘cycle’ in Macao of such depth or duration. Adelson’s Pollyanna attitude contrasts sharply with that of Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli, who writes, “We are now projecting 3Q15 [gross gaming revenue] to fall 35.1% (previously -33.0%) and 2015 GGR to decline 34.1% (previously -33.0%). Our 2016 forecast is -5.8% (previously -5.5%). Our estimate for September is -35.2%” (The outlook of Santarelli’s DB colleague, Karen Tang, is even more dire.) Also, proving that this leopard can change his spots, Adelson is now bragging on Sands China‘s market share, a metric he used to scorn.

“Sands has managed to boost its profit margins and operating earnings on a quarter-over-quarter basis,” notes Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Harrah's, Japan, Macau, Marketing, Maryland, Sheldon Adelson, Singapore, Taxes, Technology, The Strip, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Bidding war in cyberspace; Adelson flexes Macao muscles

Having been outbid by GVC Holdings and jilted by Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, Israeli-based 888 Holdings is upping the ante again in what is shaping up as the bidding war of the year.

SheldonMeanwhile, Internet gamblers can look forward to a new Android application from Betcade, putting the casino in your pocket as it were. Sheldon Adelson won’t like this and — here’s the best part — it will be unveiled at Global Gaming Expo, which is held in Sands Expo Center. Will Adelson chain himself to the Betcade booth and refuse to let them set up?

* Speaking of Sheldon (and how can we not?), the Las Vegas Sands CEO can glean a silver lining from last month’s dark cloud of Continue reading

Posted in Galaxy Entertainment, International, Macau, Neil Bluhm, New York, Racinos, Sheldon Adelson, Stanley Ho | Leave a comment

Isle trends upward; Free the Texas ponies!

Add Isle of Capri Casinos to the list of companies enjoying a positive turn in their fortunes. It reported an operating profit of $57.5 million, a 15% increase. The biggest cash cow was Isle Pompano Park, hauling Isle Pompanoin $42 million, an 11% uptick. Other big earners were Isle Casino Hotel Black Hawk, with $34 million (+9%) and — predictably enough — Isle of Capri Lake Charles ($32 million), which did lose a slight amount of business to the Golden Nugget. In terms of revenue growth, Lady Luck Nemacolin, in Pennsylvania (+13%) and Lady Luck Caruthersville (+12.5%) in Missouri, both living up to Continue reading

Posted in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Horseracing, IGT, Iowa, Isle of Capri, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Politics, Racinos, Technology, Texas, Tilman Fertitta, Wall Street | 2 Comments

Turmoil along the Boardwalk

Cult figure Glenn Straub is back in the news again, if indirectly. Stockton University has received Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez‘s blessing to sell the former Showboat and Mendez has Showboat_Atlantic_Cityenjoined the obstreperous Straub from challenging the sale. Stockton is thereby closer to ending the nightmare that was its $18 million attempt to establish an Atlantic City campus. Straub’s consolation is that he gets his $26 million purchase back — plus interest. Anybody want an ex-casino where you can’t gamble anymore?

In other Boardwalk news, the AFL-CIO has called for a Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, Carl Icahn, Glenn Straub, history, Marketing, Massachusetts, Neil Bluhm, Regulation, Technology, Tribal, Tropicana Entertainment, Trump Entertainment Resorts, Unite-Here | 1 Comment

Wynn gets one step closer; Those insidious resort fees

“At moments like this, there is certainly a feeling of gratification and forward movement. It lifts our spirits and energizes us.” Thus spake Steve Wynn after Wynn Everett cleared another hurdle on its way Massachusetts Gamblingto completion. A 27-page memo from Massachusetts Energy & Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton found Wynn’s traffic plans to be in compliance with codified state environmental policy — meaning Wynn’s done all he can to mitigate the effect of his eponymous resort on traffic in the Everett area. Wynn’s allies at this point also include Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Macau, Massachusetts, New York, Regulation, Sports, Steve Wynn, The Strip, Tourism, Transportation, Tribal | 1 Comment

Quote of the Day

“We believe replacement activity will continue to plod along at trough levels and we see a more muted expansion pipeline in the US.” — Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli, in the course of upgrading Scientific Games from “sell” to “hold.”

Posted in Economy, Scientific Games, Wall Street | Leave a comment

The Strip is all right

A 2% decline in July revenues on the Strip may not seem like good news but the casinos were competing against the anniversary of a very Baccaratgood month for baccarat last year. By comparison, this July saw players drop 35% less money onto the felt, although the house was relatively lucky, its winnings only 21% down. Looking ahead, J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Greff wrote, “we expect the market to continue to experience volatility in baccarat play given a likely slowdown in Chinese players.”

A slight uptick in coin-in plus tighter holds combined for a 9% increase in slot winnings. Players were luckier at Continue reading

Posted in Boulder Strip, Downtown, Economy, Hard Rock International, Lake Tahoe, Laughlin, Marketing, MGM Mirage, North Las Vegas, Reno, Seminole Tribe, The Strip, Wall Street | Leave a comment

SLS: Sinking less slowly

Judging by the looks of this going-out-of-business sale at SLS Las SLSVegas (and the exorcism of the Fred Segal name from the Web site), more rats are scurrying off Sam Nazarian‘s sinking ship. It makes me sorry my wife and I turned down a free-stay package this weekend (too busy): It may be our last chance to experience SLS before it’s gone.

Posted in Sam Nazarian, SLS Las Vegas, The Strip | Leave a comment

Maryland to players: Drop dead

If you suddenly find that you’re in a Free State casino and your gambling budget doesn’t go as far as it once did, you can thank the Maryland Lottery & Gaming Control Commission. It’s prepared to Great_Seal_of_Maryland_reversevote on a staff-recommended change that slot holds in the state be lowered from the 90%-95% range to 87%-95%. In a slight concession to players, holds are not being tightened to the 85% sought by casinos. Now I understand that casinos in Maryland are taxed to within an inch of their lives, but they’re big boys. They didn’t go into the state with their eyes shut. They knew the tax rate was (initially) 65% and they fought hard — and in the case of Penn National Gaming, dirty — to get a foothold just the same. They even got a tax break during the last election and they still want to sweat the percentages. It all adds up to a big “screw you” for the consumer.

Both the state and the industry are offering the rationalization that competition will Continue reading

Posted in Cordish Co., Environment, Harrah's, Massachusetts, Ohio, Penn National, Regulation, South Dakota, Tribal, West Virginia | 1 Comment

Atlantic City profits grow; Good and bad news for Caesars

Second-quarter operating profits in Atlantic City were up everywhere except for — you guessed it — Trump Taj Mahal. The Golden Nugget ACTaj swung from a $2 million profit in 2Q14 to a $900,000 loss, another testament to CEO Bob Griffin‘s inspiring leadership. Despite the drag exerted by the Taj, cash flow was up 28% in the market. The increased profitability is actually greater if defunct turkeys like Revel, the Atlantic Club, Trump Plaza and the martyred Showboat are added to the year/year splits. The Golden Nugget‘s ability to draw in refugee players from the closed casinos was reflected in a 902% increase (that’s not a typo) in profitability, nearly $8 million.

Resorts Atlantic City also continues to climb the ladder, up Continue reading

Posted in Arizona, Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, Carl Icahn, Genting, Georgia, Harrah's, history, International, Mohegan Sun, Politics, Regulation, Revel, Sheldon Adelson, Technology, The Strip, Tilman Fertitta, Tribal, Trump Entertainment Resorts | Leave a comment

Caesars, O’Malley flunk key tests

Caesars Entertainment got caught with its pants down by Howard Stutz, who wrote that the company “committed public
Loveman speaksrelations suicide” by lavishing a $200,000 bonus on General Counsel Tim Donovan. This is the same Caesars that is trying to stiff its junior creditors and the same Tim Donovan who — as Stutz pointed out — defended the company’s denial of pensions to 63 former employees. Moneybags Donovan isn’t exactly a Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, California, Election, Entertainment, G2E, Harrah's, Maryland, Mohegan Sun, Taxes, Technology, The Strip, Tribal, TV | 1 Comment

New Jersey loses again; From Russia with casinos


New Jersey‘s quest for sports betting came to a bitter, penultimate roadblock before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which deemed the Garden State’s repeal of its sports-betting ban to be a violation of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The ruling was basically a rerun of prior Third Circuit edicts, with judges Maryanne Trump Barry and Marjorie Rendell frowning upon New Jersey’s law and Judge Julio Fuentes the lone voice of sanity, saying  Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Harrah's, International, Japan, Lawrence Ho, Macau, Politics, South Korea, Taxes | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“Indian gaming, unfortunately, is the 800-pound gorilla in every room, in every discussion, on every Indian policy, including recognition. Mostly recognition.” — lobbyist Arlinda Locklear, on how tribal policymaking in Washington, D.C., is complicated by politicians and interest groups who have the heebie-jeebies about gambling.

Posted in Politics, Regulation, Tribal | Leave a comment

Back from vacation

My wife and I have just returned from four days’ vacation in Kanab, Utah. We spent our time there volunteering at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, where we washed dishes, folded laundry, picked up poop, fed the inhabitants and socialized with Continue reading

Posted in Animals, MGM Mirage, Pets, The Strip | 1 Comment

Caesars’ pound of flesh; SLS plays the Red Bull card

Banks and other lending institutions aren’t going to simply forebear while Caesars Entertainment ownership absconds with all the assets. No, they want equity if they’re going to forgive debt and drop caesarscasino_1lawsuits. And if those lawsuits drag the parent company into Chapter 11, so be it. Caesars’ attitude toward creditors has been at times disdainful, with advisor James E. Millstein telling a lawyer, “You’re deluding yourselves in thinking you’re getting that money anytime soon.” Millstein added that Caesars could lose whatever creditor support it has if litigation over potentially fraudulent asset transfers is permitted to go forward. (And, let’s face it, when Total Rewards is “sold” for $0.00, there’s something fishy happening.)

According to the Wall Street Journal, “a bondholder committee proposed a restructuring plan under which Continue reading

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The Penn National effect strikes again

Penn National Gaming is “making it rain” in Plainview, where it has spent $1.5 million with local vendors since opening. The Plainridge5workforce at Plainridge Park has gone from 100 to 533, with a $14 million payroll. And the state has already collected $10 million in taxes. This would seem like success beyond Deval Patrick‘s wildest dreams but now the dreaded Penn National Effect kicks in, management having engaged in its habitual exaggeration of projected revenue, forecast at $248 million but likelier to come in around $220 million. (See also Baltimore, Horseshoe.)

Area vendors have nothing but good things to say about Plainridge, while Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Harrah's, Macau, Massachusetts, Penn National, Racinos, Regulation, Taxes, Tourism | Leave a comment

Those tight slots; A birthday for Horseshoe

When one reads that casino revenues were up in, say, Indiana, despite lower foot traffic, you’ve got to wonder how its done. Applied Analysis has the answer: Slot holds are at “all-time highs,” meaning that some of the economic recovery we’ve been seeing is artificially Parx slotsgenerated. The study was commissioned by the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers, who are to be commended for essentially blowing the whistle on themselves. Except for Florida‘s drop from 9.5% to 6% hold, most states have seen 6% increases in hold since 2007, even as actual slot play fell by double-digit amounts.

Applied Analysis takes issue with Wall Street pundits on the subject of recent comebacks, saying, Continue reading

Posted in Alex Yemenidjian, Atlantic City, Baseball, Derek Stevens, Downtown, Economy, Harrah's, Indiana, Maryland, Penn National, Regulation, Tamares Group, Technology, The Strip, Wall Street, WMS Industries | 5 Comments

Optimism at MGM; SLS: The Unhappy Blob

MGM Resorts International sent CFO Dan D’Arrigo to meet with J.P. Morgan analysts, who found MGM execs in an upbeat mood. “We’d characterize the tone of the meetings as positive and Crystals 4investor interest as high,” wrote analyst Joseph Greff. That’s partly because MGM’s bread and butter, convention-goers, have been coming to Vegas in force and October is on course to set a record for group bookings on the Las Vegas Strip. As for other strategic positioning, management is still working its way through the pros and cons of converting to a REIT. As for ongoing asset sales, Crystals (above) is still the property being most aggressively shopped, although the $1 billion price tag may explain why MGM hasn’t found a buyer yet.

MGM taketh away, planning to eradicate any remaining 3:2 blackjack from its Strip casinos, as well as trying to “capture” more resort fees. Thanks, guys. Greff projected that the company’s forthcoming Macao casino would make a “reasonable” Continue reading

Posted in Boyd Gaming, Churchill Downs, CityCenter, Eldorado Resorts, Georgia, Harrah's, Louisiana, Macau, MGM Mirage, Pinnacle Entertainment, Sam Nazarian, SLS Las Vegas, The Strip, Tilman Fertitta, Wall Street | 1 Comment

It’s Galaxy’s turn to take a hit; Tohono O’odham file suit

Add Galaxy Entertainment to the companies taking on the chin in the Macao economy. The casino firm just posted a 46% drop in cash flow Galaxy-Macau-e1352360709345-300x300for 2Q15. Leading by example, Chairman Lui Che Woo announced a freeze in executive salaries as the primary austerity measure. He also became the latest casino boss to say Macao has “almost hit bottom.” Hey, if enough CEOs keep saying it, somebody’s eventually bound to be right, no? Although China International Capital Corp. analyst Chris Kwai called Galaxy’s numbers “solid,” he’s not buying into the ‘build it and they will come scenario for 2016. “Individual new opening will not bring too much of an upside in the entire market,” he hedged. “But once it added up all the casinos next year, people will be more fond of going to Macao.”

Aside from the emaciated VIP play, Macao casino bosses also have to worry about a possible Continue reading

Posted in Arizona, Cosmopolitan, Dining, Economy, Galaxy Entertainment, Harrah's, Macau, Melco Crown Entertainment, MGM Mirage, Penn National, Philippines, Regulation, The Strip, Tribal | Leave a comment