MGM goes on the attack; Wynn’s new “masterpiece;” Isle out of Louisiana

This story pretty much writes itself. While MGM Resorts International cowboys up and makes it clear who’s sponsoring the ad — not hiding behind some phony-baloney PAC name like “Citizens for a Stronger Connecticut” — but the commercial is a rehash of tiresomely familiar political tropes: ominous music, insinuating voice-overs and cherry-picked quotes. While the MGM ad leads one to believe the Bradley International Airport casino is a done deal, lawmakers say ‘Not so fast!’ Besides, who wants to go to an airport — of all places — to gamble? Nobody thinks of airports and “fun” in the same breath anymore.

* Given all the anticipation, the actual opening of Wynn Palace was almost anticlimactic. Few casino projects have been so heavily debated as this one, and Continue reading

Posted in Alabama, Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, Carl Icahn, Foxwoods, Harrah's, Internet gambling, Isle of Capri, Louisiana, Macau, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Politics, Racinos, Steve Wynn, Tropicana Entertainment, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Tax fight in Pennsylvania; Adelson donation goes awry

Sands Bethlehem could soon pocket another $10 million a year but it’s letting Mount Airy Casino do the heavy lifting. The latter is arguing to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the flat, yearly fee falls disproportionately on small casinos, not the big boys Sands Bethworkslike Sands, or as the state constitution puts it, “all taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects.” On the other side of the issue are elected officials like Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez, who says $10 million a year translates into 100 police officers and the “host fee is significantly important to our budget.” Added state Sen. Pat Browne, anticipating a court defeat, “I don’t know exactly how we’d go about it, but given that this fee has been established for a decade, we’re not just going to let this money be stripped from municipalities that rely on it.” However, given the Legislature’s hopeless performance on gaming-related issues last session, is it going to be able to get its act together and find a way to prop up civic budgets.

Mount Airy has a case: SugarHouse in Philadelphia is exempted from the levy (it pays a simple 4% of gross receipts), as are the state’s two resort casinos. Also, as a Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, California, Eldorado Resorts, Greenwood Racing, International, Internet gambling, Law enforcement, Massachusetts, Neil Bluhm, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, PokerStars, Sheldon Adelson, Steve Wynn, Taxes, Tribal | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“Drop out and tell America this entire candidacy was a stunt. You would not be a loser, you would be a legend.” — Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, making an appeal to Donald Trump, arguing that if Trump won the presidency, it would reduce his standard of living, condemning him to “living in government housing, conversing with fully clothed women and traveling in a plane that doesn’t even have his name on it.”

Posted in Donald Trump, Election, TV | Leave a comment

Caesars vs. Caesars; Wynn Palace opens

In a surrealistic turn of events, Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. has filed suit against parent Caesars Entertainment, and against majority owners Apollo caesars-palace-02Management and Texas Pacific Group. This bit of shadow puppetry is apparently intended to get at the goodies before junior bondholders can sue for relief (which they are enjoined from doing before the end of the month). In the meantime, Caesars has a new offer on the table, contingent upon converting CEOC into a REIT. Reports Global Gaming Business, “senior bondholders, who are owed about $6.35 billion, would get all the stock in the property company, $2 billion in cash, almost $1.9 billion in new debt and nearly 16 percent of the equity of the parent company. Creditors who hold $5.35 billion in bank loans would get $3.2 billion in cash, $2.2 billion in new debt and 5 percent of the parent.” So even if Caesars is prevalent in negotiations, it’s going to have to live with Continue reading

Posted in Election, Entertainment, Florida, Galaxy Entertainment, Harrah's, Internet gambling, Macau, Melco Crown Entertainment, MGM Mirage, Nevada, New York, Steve Wynn, The Strip, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Wynn receives vote of confidence; Rivers Casino gets a ‘best’

Account holders and investors in Dore Entertainment are evidently out of patience waiting to be reimbursed for the reported theft of $43 million from the VIP room operator. WynnInstead, they’re suing Wynn Macau, saying “as a gaming concessionaire, [it] should be held responsible for Dore’s conduct on the basis that Wynn Resorts Macau is responsible for the supervision of Dore’s activities at Wynn Macau that resulted in the purported losses,” according to the company itself. It added that “the plaintiffs of the lawsuits allege that Dore failed to honour withdrawal of funds requests that allegedly has resulted in certain losses for these individuals.” Wynn holds that the lawsuit is without merit. (Big surprise, no?)

But Steve Wynn got some good news in the form of an investor note from Telsey Advisory Group. “We believe the opening should be a positive event for the company and its targets are achievable,” wrote analysts David Katz and Brian Davis, swimming against the tide of bankers’ sentiment. Calling Wynn Macau shares undervalued, Continue reading

Posted in Macau, Melco Crown Entertainment, Mississippi, Neil Bluhm, Pennsylvania, Sheldon Adelson, Steve Wynn, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Steve Wynn, re-visionary; DFS in Nevada: It’s back

Evidently industry leaders are coming to terms with the fact that the go-go days when Macao was a $45 billion/year casino market are over. Steve Wynn told The Associated Press that “What took place here in previous years was an anomaly. he amount of revenue, Wynn Forbesthe rate of growth was unprecedented and historic and in many cases not just extraordinary but outrageous.” Careful, Steve, you’re starting to sound like a member of the Chinese government. Calling current market conditions “wonderful” — Macao’s current $29 billion/year output is anything but shabby, after all — Wynn described the present casino business as “representing more normal patterns of human behavior, and that applies as well financially.” I’m not quite sure I believe Wynn when he says he’s too busy to keep tabs on policy in Beijing: “The policies of the central government are only tangentially important to us because we’re in the middle of delivering a service. In the long run, the economy of China is going to affect all my customers and their ability to recreate [sic], but on a day-to-day basis it’s not part of our script, it’s far away from us compared with the demands of the moment.” Even if he’s sweating out such niceties as Continue reading

Posted in Donald Trump, Economy, Election, Harrah's, Internet gambling, Macau, Nevada, New York, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, Station Casinos, Steve Wynn, The Strip | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“The other candidate seems determined to needlessly antagonize our allies and trading partners by pledging to tear up NAFTA and other hard-won trade agreements. One murren's headcandidate works to create stability and certainty, qualities the market loves and rewards. The other operates erratically and unpredictably, qualities the market abhors and punishes.” — MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren, endorsing Hillary Clinton as we predicted, his first-ever presidential benediction. Murren said his decision was predicated on “the personal experience of being with her in a room, working on issues in real time. Each time I have met with her to discuss complicated matters such as trade and energy policy, I have been incredibly impressed by her knowledge, command of the facts and solution-oriented approach.”

Posted in Election, MGM Mirage, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Wynn: Overextended in Macao?

Daiwa Securities Group put “sell” ratings on Wynn Macau Ltd. and Sands China, arguing that projections that the Wynn Palace and Parisian megaresorts would reverse declines in Macao gambling “remain overly optimistic.” Analysts Adrian Chan and Jamie Soo wrote that the market was being overly roseate regarding “the ability of new properties steve-wynn-1to grow the overall market; the ability of the operators to capture a disproportionate share of the market from their new openings; and the operators collective ability to defend their market share when competitors open new properties.” They were particularly skeptical of Wynn Palace, writing, “there is no conclusive evidence over Wynn Macau’s 10-year track record in Macau that shows the success of its properties in taking market share or driving incremental demand … Indeed, Wynn [Resorts] has been steadily losing market share since Wynn Macau opened in 2006. At its peak, Wynn Macau accounted for more than 17 percent of Macau’s total [gross gaming revenue]. Today it accounts for around 10 percent, or around half of the figure eight years ago.” (Steve Wynn has declined to predict what the megaresort’s break-even point or return on investment will be.) “That Wynn is able to shift 250 tables to Cotai is really telling in terms of how much demand has slackened over the past couple years,” added Union Gaming Group analyst Grant Govertsen. He thinks Wynn Palace can limp along with an emaciated table-game repertory for a year or two but that, starting in 2018, prospects get fairly dicey.

He also opines that the government will, in effect, rub Steve Wynn’s nose in it for calling its table game policy “the single most counter-intuitive and irrational decision that was ever made” by Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Dining, Galaxy Entertainment, International, Isle of Capri, Macau, Melco Crown Entertainment, MGM Mirage, Neil Bluhm, New York, Sheldon Adelson, Stanley Ho, Steve Wynn, Technology, The Strip, Tourism, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Atlantic City boosters gain momentum; Gamblit takes important step forward

New York State gaming forces are taking a more-than-disinterested view of the upcoming referendum on Atlantic City‘s monopoly on casino gambling in New Jersey. For instance, Genting Group, owner of Resorts World New York, is opposing the measure behind stalking horse PAC Trenton’s Bad Bet. More openly, the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council has declared its opposition and Empire State racino operator Jeff Gural is strongly in favor — especially considering that his Meadowlands Racetrack would be a heavy favorite to land a northern New Jersey casino. The ballot question is fading down the stretch, showing a surprising loss of support. A Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind survey found 56% of voters against it and only 37% in favor.

“They don’t seem to be sold on the idea of saving the gaming industry in the state by Continue reading

Posted in Affinity Gaming, Atlantic City, Election, Foxwoods, Genting, Massachusetts, Mohegan Sun, New York, Pennsylvania, Taxes, Technology, Tribal | Leave a comment

MGM’s China gambit; Mixed quarter for Station

MGM Resorts International and Pansy Ho are performing a fancy juggling act with MGM stock. The former is going to buy an additional 188 million shares in MGM China, Pansy_increasing its hold on the property to 56%. In return, Ms. Ho will buy 4 million MGM shares from the late Kirk Kekorian‘s Trancinda Corp., giving her an almost 5% stake in MGM. Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli spoke for many when he wrote, “we expect investors to be a bit confused by the rationale for this transaction. The transaction, while positive for MGM China … is a bit perplexing from MGM’s perspective. In our view, MGM Resorts is inexpensive and MGM China is trading at top of the range multiples, on our forecasts, with meaningful ambiguity in future results given the wave of new supply in a questionable top line recovery environment. While MGM Resorts benefits from Ms. Ho lightening the Tracinda overhang, it does so just modestly. Lastly, in a period in which we view domestic gaming fundamentals favorably, MGM is using its equity to Continue reading

Posted in California, Culinary Union, Economy, Election, Isle of Capri, Macau, MGM Mirage, Missouri, Nevada, Palms, Pansy Ho, Penn National, Reno, Station Casinos, Steve Wynn, Tribal, Wall Street | 1 Comment

So long, Riviera

For those of us who couldn’t be there, this was the scene as the remaining vestiges of the Riviera swooned gracefully into a pile of debris. You can see spectators scurrying to evade the dust cloud, as it threatens to engulf Circus Circus. The Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority‘s efforts to keep the event on the lowdown were clearly for naught. Here’s the unexpurgated, narrated version of the twilight of the Old Vegas gods:

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Quote of the Day

binions-pic“Truly, I think the brand is so powerful, that when other people would have maybe went under, I think that helped carry us because people are very loyal to the Binion brand. I think if we could survive the bad economy, we could survive anything.” — Binion’s Gambling Hall General Manager Tim Lager, reflecting on the resilience of the property, which turns 65 this month.

Posted in Downtown, history, Terry Caudill | 2 Comments

Hooters’ inspirational initiative; New York legalizes DFS

Plucking General Manager Michael Storm from the executive ranks of The D and the Golden Gate and installing him at Hooters Casino Hotel is proving to be one of the hooters-picbest ideas that property’s had in a long time. Storm’s “Month of Giving” campaign, in which the August marketing budget is rechanneled into charitable causes is getting noticed. It’s also getting a strong amount of employee buy-in. Most recently, the Hooter Girls showed the flag (and a $1,000 check) at Sam’s Town’s bowling alley for the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals “Out of the Gutter” fundraiser. Before that, they were enlisted as Habitat for Humanity volunteers.

“To my surprise, 14 girls showed up at 5 in the morning, ready to go, and they worked — they worked their butts off. Not only did we Continue reading

Posted in Animals, Charity, Harrah's, history, Hooters, Internet gambling, Law enforcement, LVCVA, Riviera, The Strip | Leave a comment

Big month for Atlantic City; Wanna be president?

Casino gambling revenue in Atlantic City was up 5%, to $258 million, last month and Internet gaming revenues pole-vaulted 39%, exceeding $17 million. Higher coin-in at the slots translated into a 3% growth in one-armed banditry while a 7% increase in table play, borgata_exterior_sunsetcombined with a little good luck for the house, meant an 11.5% revenue uptick. Borgata grossed $81 million, a 12.5% gain, far overshooting Deutsche Bank‘s projection ($65 million). Table play was 10% higher and players lost big, with Borgata raking in 22% more than last year. Slot play was up 6% and the house had a winning edge, banking 8% more coin-in. (I’m telling ya, Boyd Gaming, you’re going to be sorry you sold your half of this piggy bank.) Borgata continues to hold the largest share of hotly contested Internet play, with the unlikely runner up being the Golden Nugget. With or without PokerStars, they’re still an also-ran at Resorts Digital, stuck firmly at the back of the pack.

Unite-Here Local 54‘s strike relegated Trump Taj Mahal to the bottom rung of the ladder, down 8% to $17.5 million. Some business must have migrated to Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, Election, Harrah's, Internet gambling, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Tilman Fertitta, Tropicana Entertainment, Unite-Here, Westgate LV | Leave a comment

Cold comfort for Wynn; Nebraska racino initiative crashes and burns

As Wynn Resorts predicted in its last earnings call, it will get more table games from the Macao government after Wynn Palace opens … 50 tables, phased in over two years. That’s Wynn on Foxa pretty mingy allocation but is in line with Secretary for Economy & Finance Lionel Leong‘s goal of 3% table-game growth. Wynn said it was “satisfied” with the grant, as though it had any choice but to roll with the punches. The megaresort was designed with 400 tables in mind and Steve Wynn is camouflaging the shortfall by importing 250 tables from Wynn Macau. The Macanese government seems to be having a jolly good time making an example of Wynn (the CEO, not the company) after he blew his stack over governmental micromanagement of the casino industry, views that probably shouldn’t have been shared on an international conference call. We’ve come a full 180 degrees from the days when Wynn said his eponymous firm was “essentially a Chinese company” and threatened to move corporate headquarters to the People’s Republic of China. (Las Vegans practically lined up to help him move.)

The news was little help to Wynn Macau stock, which has badly lagged the parent company in its performance. As Union Gaming Group analyst Grant Govertsen wrote, an outlay of 150 tables “does raise concerns on Continue reading

Posted in Australia, Downtown, Election, Law enforcement, Macau, MGM Mirage, Nebraska, Philippines, Racinos, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, Steve Wynn, Technology, Wall Street | 1 Comment

Quote of the Day

“While I cannot say what a [Donald] Trump presidency would mean for poker, there is some smoke. And, as they say, where there is smoke, there could be a fire. The story with Trump in LVTrump’s running mate, though, is perfectly clear. While there is smoke with Trump, [Mike] Pence’s desire to usurp the states with a federal online poker prohibition is a raging inferno.” — Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas on the disappearance of an anti-Internet-gambling plank from the GOP platform. Five years ago, Trump said, “Online gambling has to happen because many other countries are doing it and like usual the U.S. is just missing out.”

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Stratosphere bucks consumer trend; New way to bet coming to Nevada

StratBetter slot play, stronger restaurant business and greater hotel occupancy (which drove up rates) conspired to improve American Casino & Entertainment Properties‘ revenue and profitability in 2Q16. Net revenue — i.e., not profit — is on a 10-month upward roll, driven in part by a 3% increase in room rates and 4% higher slot winnings. ACEP, owner of the Stratosphere, bucked the Las Vegas trend of generating higher revenue through non-gaming amenities. With 5% fewer people visiting the sightseeing pod atop the tower and spending 8.5% less, a 10% in pod-derived revenue was the consequence. Business was flat for ACEP’s Arizona Charlie’s grind joints but the company was successful in inducing more people to stay at the Aquarius in Laughlin, where hotel revenues rose 8.5%, even though gambling winnings were only 2% up.

* Nevada is coming justthisclose — but not quite — to allowing direct use of debit and credit cards for all forms of casino play. Instead, state regulators are Continue reading

Posted in ACEP, Animals, Boulder Strip, Laughlin, MGM Mirage, Pennsylvania, PokerStars, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, Sports, Technology, The Strip, Tourism | Leave a comment

Case Bets: Wynn Boston Harbor, sports betting, cockfighting and a fire

There’s big money to be made at Wynn Boston Harbor. Primary contractor Suffolk Construction is hoping to entice subcontractors with a bundle of bids valued at $1 billion Massachusetts Gamblingfor services and supplies. That’s almost half the construction budget for the Massachusetts megaresort. Essentially vowing to think globally and act locally, casino President Robert DeSalvio said, “Wynn [Resorts] is absolute in our commitment to keep as much spending as possible close to home during our nearly three-year construction phase, particularly with minority, women and veteran-owned vendors.” Meanwhile, despite federal litigation, the Mashpee Wampanoag are forging ahead with activity on Project First Light, planning to be the second Bay State casino to market, opening roughly a year from now.

* American Gaming Association President Geoff Freeman has really got a bee in his bonnet about Continue reading

Posted in Animals, CityCenter, Geoff Freeman, Law enforcement, Marketing, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Sports, Steve Wynn, The Strip, Tribal | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“According to the term, [Sumona] Islam is prohibited from being employed, for instance, as a custodian, at every casino within a 150-mile radius. The agreement’s prohibition of all types of employment with gaming establishments severely restricts Islam’s ability to be gainfully employed. For these reasons, we deem the term to be overbroad and unreasonable.” — Nevada Supreme Court Justice Michael Douglas, writing for the majority in a decision that throws casino non-compete clauses into question in the Silver State, or at least will cause them to be more narrowly written in the future.

Posted in Nevada, Regulation, Reno | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“Everybody including Twin River, the competitor across the border 17 miles away in Rhode Island, projected that Penn [National Gaming] would do more than it’s been Crosbydoing. Exactly why it isn’t, nobody’s quite sure. Whether it’s that you can’t smoke or you have to be 21, we don’t know for sure what it is … Plainridge [Park] has about 500 jobs, about 20% of those people were hired off the unemployment rolls, and Plainridge has generated $80-plus million in tax revenue. From the standpoint of the negative consequences, there have been no serious traffic problems since the first day, we have a very careful study done of any crime of any kind in all of the surrounding communities … there has been zero increase in crime in the first six months owing to the casino.” — Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby, projecting $300 million in annual revenue for the commonwealth of Massachusetts when all the state’s casinos are open.

Posted in Economy, Law enforcement, Massachusetts, Penn National, Rhode Island, Taxes | Leave a comment