PokerStars camel meets eye of needle; Penn loses last-gasp appeal

California state Rep. Adam Gray‘s online-gaming bill comes under some close scrutiny from analysts Steven Eichorn and Jeff Ifrah. As expected, there is no “bad actor” clause Adam Graythat would explicitly keep Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act scofflaws like PokerStars out of the Golden State, although there is some placeholder language where such a clause could go. However, the Gray bill prescribes two forms of suitability investigation, the more stringent of which is such a regulatory colonoscopy that only firms with the cleanest of hands could hope to transcend it. For instance, “past and present financial affairs and standing, and business activities, including whether the applicant or an affiliate of the applicant has a financial interest in any business or organization that is or was engaged in any form of gaming or transactions related to gaming prohibited by the law of the federal or state jurisdiction in which those activities took place.” Whoops, there goes PokerStars.

True, the language isn’t an automatic disqualifier but it’s pretty daunting (and that’s just a small sample). Considering the amount of money they expect to make Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, California, Genting, Internet gambling, Iowa, Law enforcement, MGM Mirage, New York, Penn National, PokerStars, Politics, Regulation, Singapore, Stanley Ho, Tribal | Leave a comment

Sheldon’s big surprise; AGA attacks NFL silliness

Sheldon Adelson is feeling bullish on the Las Vegas market these days. Undeterred by the debut of T-Mobile Arena, he is proposing a 17,500-seat concert venue, to be built on venetian-picunderutilized land behind Venelazzo. Adelson has formed a consortium with Live Nation Entertainment, Madison Square Garden Co. and other partners to build the arena, which is as yet undesigned and unbudgeted. The concert hall, which would be Las Vegas’ third-largest, behind T-Mobile and the Thomas & Mack Center, would hew to the classic horseshoe design, with the goal of providing everyone with an unimpeded view of the stage. In addition to musical performances, boxing matches and MMA brawls would be staged there, although team sports have been explicitly ruled out.

“At a time when significant conversations are taking place about the city’s future tourism needs, a state-of-the-art venue designed, built and exclusively dedicated to bringing the world’s greatest musical and entertainment acts to Las Vegas is the type of development we should all be excited about,” said Adelson.

He already has three theaters and they would all comfortably fit into the newly proposed one (with room left over for lounges and clubs), as they hold an Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, California, Downtown, Entertainment, Geoff Freeman, history, Hooters, Internet gambling, MGM Mirage, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Sheldon Adelson, Sports, Texas, The Strip | Leave a comment

DFS stalls in Illinois; Mississippi casinos rebound

Things were looking up for the daily fantasy sports industry in Illinois, where enabling legislation passed the state Senate 32-22. However, a hold has been put on the bill, which Raoulmay not make it to the House. Why? Although the legislation would deal the casino industry in on DFS action, gaming executives complain that the regulatory mechanisms for DFS are flabby compared to what they have to comply with and they’d like to be permitted a wider array of Internet-gambling offerings, too. At present, DFS is illegal in Illinois, following an opinion rendered by Attorney General Lisa Madigan. While some solons are sympathetic to the casinos’ protests, others balked at the last-minute hitch. “With any bills that come anywhere close to gaming, everybody has their parochial interests that they pile on,” grumbled state Sen. Kwame Raoul (above), a co-sponsor of the bill, which would tax DFS revenues as low as 5% or as high as 30%.

“Today, Illinois and a handful of other states offer their lotteries over the Internet. And of course, for many years, Continue reading

Posted in Arkansas, Delaware, G2E, Hard Rock International, Harrah's, Illinois, Internet gambling, Macau, Marketing, Mississippi, Nevada, PokerStars, Politics, Steve Wynn, Tribal | Leave a comment

New era at Trump Taj Mahal; Blasphemous gambling promo spanked

He’s been handed a small budget ($15 million) for the task at hand, but new Trump Taj Mahal boss Anthony Rodio has been charged with undoing the damage inflicted on the Taj Mahalproperty during the Bob Griffin era. This includes “reactivating lights and water fountains that had been turned off for years” (!), reopening the poker room — formerly one of Atlantic City‘s most renowned — renovating 180 worst-case hotel rooms and adding 250 rooms. He’ll also be restoring live music to the aptly named (for a Trump-branded property) Ego Lounge. “We want to let the world know that we are open for business and we’re not going anywhere,” is Rodio’s mission statement.

Given the vastness of the Taj, Rodio concedes that his team is still figuring out how they’re going to fill it out if and when Carl Icahn releases the other $85 million in restoration money he’s holding hostage, pending the outcome of the election. Although Local 54 of Unite-Here has authorized a strike at the Taj, an uneasy peace seems to be the status quo, with one employee characterizing Rodio’s takeover as Continue reading

Posted in Affinity Gaming, Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, Cannery Casino Resorts, CityCenter, Dining, history, Internet gambling, Macau, MGM Mirage, Penn National, Regulation, Sports, Stanley Ho, Station Casinos, Tamares Group, Technology, Tropicana Entertainment, Unite-Here | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

fine_art_collection_-_aria_-_the_park_-_henry_moore_-_reclining_connected_forms-224x300“I believe that art is an essential element of quality of life. I believe that all people regardless of their level of interest, education in the arts or even inclination has a visceral positive experience when they are enriched visually. That visual experience could be a desert park that we built between New York-New York and Monte Carlo or it could be a statue or oil painting.” — MGM Resorts International CEO James Murren, on the role of public art in MGM’s properties.

Posted in CityCenter, MGM Mirage, The Strip | Leave a comment

Wall Street loves Red Rock; ColSux foiled again

Wall Street analysts are initiating coverage of Red Rock Resorts and they like what they see. JP Morgan‘s Joseph Greff put a $25 price target on the stock, emboldened in part by Green Valley RanchRRR’s acquisition of the Palms and its growing pipeline of management fees from Native American casinos. He also cited Station’s 400-acre land bank in the Las Vegas and Reno areas, which created the prospect of high return-on-investment properties and the advantage of controlling/preventing most new LV Locals capacity.” Observing that Red Rock has the largest market share (43%) of resident Las Vegas gamblers and that 90% of Las Vegans live within five miles of a Red Rock-owned property, he added that the “market has benefitted and should continue to benefit from a stable supply environment and from improving macro trends in the Clark County, LV economy, where key growth drivers such as population, jobs, wages, retiree base, and home prices are all trending positively.”

Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli added “we trust LV locals fundamentals will continue to accelerate in the near term and remain sound over Continue reading

Posted in Columbia Sussex, Dining, Downtown, Economy, Environment, Harrah's, history, Kentucky, Palms, Reno, Station Casinos, The Strip, Tribal | Leave a comment

Macao: The 9% solution; It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Steve Wynn

Supply has overrun demand in Macao, where a wave of impending megaresorts is rolling in on an emaciated marketplace. But optimistic noises are being heard at Global Gaming Expo Asia, amid the robotic croupiers and other new toys. “The sentiments have become Venetian Macaoquite bullish of late. The market is showing signs of bottoming out,” said gaming analyst Ben Lee. However, for all of the new casino product, he says the industry is behind the curve of a market that is being reshaped in the image of middle-class players, not VIPs: “Macao currently still does not have the infrastructure to attract the family segment. We are talking about logistics, attractions, language and plain old service friendliness.” It sounds like Macao could learn a few tricks from Las Vegas after all.

Taking a contrary viewpoint is Andy Choy, late of the Riviera, who has popped up at Continue reading

Posted in Downtown, Economy, Entertainment, G2E, International, Lawrence Ho, Macau, Pennsylvania, Politics, Regulation, Steve Wynn, Taxes | Leave a comment

Caesars’ slippery slope; Parx, Sands lead Pennsylvania

In 20 years of covering the gaming industry, I have rarely seen an example of looting a company so brazen as the “sale” of Total Rewards from Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. to parent Caesars Entertainment for $0.00. And since Big Caesars
Gary_loveman_Cropped_fmtshows no intention of pursuing fair value for Total Rewards or any of the other assets that changed hands for a pittance, junior creditors want the right to sue to get a proper return on what they feel CEOC owes Caesars and vice versa. We’re not talking about chump change, either. The claims against Caesars could escalate as high as $12.6 billion. That’s a considerable hike on the $5.1 billion in fraudulent transfers identified by a court-appointed examiner. Senior creditors probably wish this would all go away so that that CEOC can be converted into a REIT, whereupon they’ll get a big-ass piece of equity in the investment trust.

Junior bondholders, however, aren’t amused by the spectacle of Caesars management, led by Chairman of the Board Gary Loveman, continuing to Continue reading

Posted in Boyd Gaming, Churchill Downs, Cordish Co., Dining, Eldorado Resorts, Entertainment, Greenwood Racing, Harrah's, Isle of Capri, Kansas, Louisiana, Mohegan Sun, Neil Bluhm, Oklahoma, Penn National, Pennsylvania, Pinnacle Entertainment, Planet Hollywood, Sheldon Adelson, Texas, Tribal | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“In the short-term there will be conflicting information and worry about the aviation sector in the region, but we remain bullish on the long-term prospects on airlines flying out of, and headquartered in Gulf States (UAE, Qatar) specifically.” — Jonathan Galaviz, of Global Market Advisors, on last night’s disappearance of EgyptAir Flight MS804.

Posted in Current, International | Leave a comment

Top Golf’s impressive debut; Lucky Dragon’s calculated risk

“My only problem is A.D.D.” read the T-shirt of one of the celebrants at last night’s opening of Top Golf, on the MGM Grand campus. He was certainly in the right place. If you are serious about honing your skills, you’ve come to the wrong place. But if you just

Architectural Photography by Michael Baxter, Baxter Imaging LLC

Architectural Photography by Michael Baxter, Baxter Imaging LLC

Architectural Photography by Michael Baxter, Baxter Imaging LLC

Architectural Photography by Michael Baxter, Baxter Imaging LLC

want to whack the heck out of some golf balls and feel better about your game by seeing others flounder, Top Golf is very much for you. Its sensory-overload environment couldn’t be further from the quasi-religious aura that pervades professional golf tourneys. It’s golf with a heavy infusion of Las Vegas, even including a nightclub. (What? You don’t think the Masters would be improved by having Afrojack scratching beats in Amen Corner?) I enumerated one high-volume music system, at least two swimming pools, two or three lounges — one with live music — and too many big-screen TVs to count. In addition to be able to watch, say, the NHL or NBA playoffs on the TV in your bay, you could follow both on the mammoth screens at the far end of the driving range. Those big boys had better be built to take some punishment: As expansive as Top Golf is, I saw some hackers booming tee shots all the way to the rear netting.

The food, which includes glazed shrimp and a superb Nutella pudding, is a cut above sports-stadium fare. Ditto the Continue reading

Posted in Boyd Gaming, Churchill Downs, Entertainment, Foxwoods, G2E, Geoff Freeman, Illinois, Internet gambling, Law enforcement, Lucky Dragon, Macau, Marketing, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Pennsylvania, Philippines, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, SLS Las Vegas, Sports, Station Casinos, Technology, The Strip | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

sandoval_t178“We can’t be trapped in a 40-year-old [gaming] paradigm … It very well may be that it is an athletic event.” — Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), on the quandary posed by e-sports, which his Nevada Gaming Policy Committee is pondering whether and how to regulate. Already both Mandalay Bay and the Downtown Grand have hosted e-sports tournaments.

Posted in Downtown, Regulation, Sports, Technology, The Strip | Leave a comment

Adelson bill makes unwelcome return; Downtown Vegas’ new face

His presidential aspirations having turned to dust, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) is back to doing Sheldon Adelson‘s business, resurrecting RAWA. He has appended to an Grahamunrelated spending bill the following language: “Internet Gambling—Since 1961, the Wire Act has prohibited nearly all forms of gambling over interstate wires, including the Internet. However, beginning in 2011, certain States began to permit Internet gambling. The committee notes that the Wire Act did not change in 2011. The committee also notes that the Supreme Court of the United States has stated that ‘criminal laws are for courts, not for the government, to construe.’” It’s unclear whether this subterfuge will survive the process by which House and Senate bills are reconciled but eternal vigilance is the price of Internet gambling. Call your senators if you want to see this language quashed.

Center for Freedom & Prosperity President Andrew F. Quinlan takes umbrage at RAWA and its “origins as a crony handout.” He says the very name of RAWA is Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, California, Dining, Downtown, Entertainment, Internet gambling, Law enforcement, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, PokerStars, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, The Strip | 1 Comment

MGM prevails, Wynn slowed in Massachusetts

Bowing to the inevitable, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission ratified MGM Resorts International‘s redesign of MGM Springfield, on which the casino company is already hard at work. What was the MGC to do? Tell MGM to go back to Square One? MGM Springfield 3The casino company held all the cards and everybody knew it. “Seeing this again, it reminds me why we’re really excited about it,” said MGC Chairman Stephen Crosby, although we can’t second the emotion, given the distinct lack of “wow” factor in the revised designs. (Elimination of the hotel tower really hurt.) “You can have luxury that’s not necessarily in a high-rise tower,” project President Michael Mathis argued. If the purpose of the new look is to be fairly unobtrusive, MGM has succeeded with flying colors. Indeed, MGM is selling the redesign as a means of maintaining downtown Springfield‘s historical aura.

Paradoxically, MGM is characterizing the revision as a cost-saving measure at the same time that the budget has swollen to Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Environment, International, Internet gambling, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Politics, Regulation, Steve Wynn, Transportation, Tribal | Leave a comment

Weidner headed to Vietnam?; Nazarian on the rebound

William Weidner hasn’t finished Lucky Dragon Casino yet and he’s already flashing some leg at the Vietnamese government (or so it appears), seeking a $4 billion casino william_weidnermegaresort in Ho Chi Minh City (to most us, Saigon). Financing Lucky Dragon will be a very light lift compared to the capital-investment mandates in Vietnam. Luckily for Weidner, his partners include Cantor Fitzgerald, which ought to be good for a few bucks. The design will be farmed out to Steelman Partners. Since only non-Vietnamese citizens would be able to gamble at the resort, Weidner’s business acumen will be tested to the max. Making a $4 billion megaresort pencil out just on tourist traffic is a challenge even in the gambling capitals of the world.

* Station Casinos CFO Marc Falcone agreed implicitly with our friend American Gaming Guru that the Palms is Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Boyd Gaming, Hard Rock Hotel, International, Lucky Dragon, Macau, Marketing, Morgans Hotel Group, Palms, Regulation, Sam Nazarian, Station Casinos, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

Sanchez“Tribes are sovereign. But their casinos employ non-Indian workers. One argument used to sell casinos to the public is that they provide jobs. Those jobs should come with basic protections afforded by federal law.” — the Sacramento Bee on HR 511, backed by Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D, left), which would strip workers at tribal casinos of National Labor Relations Act protections.

Posted in Politics, Tribal | Leave a comment

Poker Stars changes Atlantic City landscape; MGM budges (slightly) on parking fees

An extra month helped Atlantic City post a banner April, up 6%. Citywide, 5% higher slot handle produced a corresponding increase in revenue, while 4.5% table-game wagering Harrahs AC_2translated into 10% more winnings for the house. Borgata ($56 million) was up 4.5%, riding its slot win. Table players wagered 7% less and the house won 14% less. At the slots, however, Borgata was able to ride 12% higher coin-in to a 13% revenue gain. Borgata also continues to lead the market in Internet-gambling market share (23.5%), although Resorts Atlantic City — thanks to PokerStarsis now a serious contender, with 20.5%. In fact, the market is pretty evenly divided between all five players, with Caesars Interactive holding 19%, nipping at the heels of the Golden Nugget (19.5%), while Tropicana Entertainment hangs in there with 18%.

As for traditional casino games, despite a 4% drop in revenue, Trump Taj Mahal ($15 million) managed to stay out of last place, occupied by Resorts ($14 million, +14%), while Golden Nugget’s 16% gain was good for a $17 million gross. As for Continue reading

Posted in Ameristar, Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, CityCenter, Golden Gaming, Harrah's, International, Internet gambling, Iowa, Isle of Capri, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Pinnacle Entertainment, PokerStars, Racinos, Sports, The Strip, Tropicana Entertainment, Warner Gaming | Leave a comment

Palms purchase confirmed; Adelson gets rapped

It’s official: Red Rock Resorts has purchased The Palms for $312.5 million. It got a bargain when one considers the inventory that comes with the deal — the Palms Place palms-piccondo tower, 710 hotel rooms, 85 of the most famous suites in Las Vegas, 1,250 slot machines and 48 table games, plus a spacious race and sports book. Its mix of tourist and locals clientele is consonant with the business model Station has been pursuing at Green Valley Ranch and Red Rock Resort. The fate of the Palms’ employees is up in the air but, since they’re not unionized, I’d be surprised if Station didn’t keep them in place. (The noisiest objections to ratification of the deal are certain to come from the Culinary Union, though.) Station paid almost 9X cash flow for the Palms, a reasonable multiple when its proximity to the Las Vegas Strip is considered. Besides, the overall purchase is only slightly more than half of what it cost ($600 million) to build the Fantasy Tower alone.  Station expects an 11% return on investment in the first year of operation, which is pretty good for the Strip market.

* Las Vegas Sands got a rap on the knuckles from Continue reading

Posted in Culinary Union, Economy, Law enforcement, Macau, Palms, Philippines, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, Station Casinos, The Strip | 1 Comment

Balmy spring for Ohio, Missouri; Pinnacle beats estimates

Ohio had a particularly good April, with gaming revenue up 9%. Coin-in rose 8% at the slots while table game revenue was up 5% despite 3% less wagering. Penn National Gaming, Caesars Entertainment and Pinnacle Entertainment all posted revenue-thistledownpositive months, led by Caesars 7.5% gain. It even had a good month at ThistleDown Racino, up 9% on an $11 million gross. Horseshoe Cleveland rose 5% ($19 million) and Horseshoe Cincinnati gained 10% ($17.5 million). How interesting that the Caesars-run properties are showing such good results just as owner Dan Gilbert has Caesars halfway out the door. Pinnacle’s Belterra Park ($7 million) was booming compared to last year, up 28% and generating $180/slot/day in VLT play — a huge improvement.

Despite higher slot handle ($197/slot/day and a $19 million gross), Hollywood Columbus was flat last year. The culprit was bad luck (-6%) and less play (-8%). Hollywood Toledo ($18 milllion), by contrast, was Continue reading

Posted in Ameristar, Dan Gilbert, Eldorado Resorts, Golden Gaming, Hard Rock International, Harrah's, Isle of Capri, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, Penn National, Pinnacle Entertainment, Tropicana Entertainment, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Macao: No more tables for you

When Macao authorities imposed caps on table-game allotments, Western casino companies condescendingly said that the Chinese didn’t really mean it and would lift the caps as the Cotai Strip was built out. Guess again. Secretary for Economy & Finance macau-casinos_1Lionel Leong said there would be no change in the cap unless “there is very big change in the local market or a huge social demand emerges.” In other words, pretty much never, barring a massive reversal in the local economy. Occidental operators kept mum but legislator — and Sociedade de Jogos de Macau boss — Angela Leong made some noises of dismay that the policy was short-sighted and didn’t take into account the casino industry’s future needs.

In one of those five-year plans of which China is so beloved, table-game growth will be pegged at 3% until Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Harrah's, Macau, MGM Mirage, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, Stanley Ho, Steve Wynn | Leave a comment

Wynn thinks even bigger; Showdown looming in Atlantic City

Perhaps to provide a diversion from a flat first quarter, Steve Wynn has been tinkering with the plans for Wynn Paradise Park, making them more grandiose. That modest Wynn Paradiselittle island in the middle of the lagoon has swelled into an eight- to 10-story mountain with two summits connected by a rope bridge. The fast-growing island will also sprout “cabanas and other special effects platforms … [a] beach bar with white sand,” plus zip lines. Evidently, Wynn had second thoughts about his initially announced concept, telling investors, “We’re not just building a body of water with a promenade around the edge — the American public has seen that before. When we do something here, we do something that hasn’t been seen before.” Rather than go to the ocean, Wynn is making the ocean come to him. In other words, he’s telling Alon and Resorts World Las Vegas that it’s Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Atlantic City, Carl Icahn, Economy, Genting, James Packer, SLS Las Vegas, Steve Wynn, Technology, The Strip, Tropicana Entertainment, Unite-Here | 1 Comment