Caesars’ highway robbery; Good news for problem gamblers

What do you do when you’ve just lost $435 million? Bust out a new round of resort fees, of course! That’s Caesars Entertainment‘s answer. Keeping up with the Joneses on the Las Vegas Strip, Caesars will implement two tiers of fees. Better brace yourself for an extra $3 a night at top-line Caesars PalaceThe Cromwell, Paris Las Vegas and Planet Hollywood. And pony up an extra buck at second-tier Bally’s, Flamingo Las Vegas, Harrah’s, Linq and The Rio. Among the goodies you’re ostensibly getting are use of the gym and in-room phone calls. Seriously, who uses those land lines anymore?

It’s time to bring back Sen. Claire McCaskill‘s bill to force hotels to include all additional levies in their published room rates. As it stands now, it’s little better than false Continue reading

Posted in Foxwoods, Genting, Harrah's, Japan, Macau, Massachusetts, Melco Crown Entertainment, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Penn National, Pennsylvania, Politics, Problem gambling, Sheldon Adelson, Steve Wynn, The Strip, Transportation, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Ho taunts Adelson; Turnover at Wynn

Both Sheldon Adelson and Jim Murren have anted up $10 billion for a Japanese megaresort.  The fever is catching. Melco Crown International CEO Lawrence Ho went completely off his rocker and vowed to spend any amount whatsoever for a casino concession in Japan. One wonders how parliamentarians are reacting to their legalization of casinos being treating as an auction. Like Adelson, he covets Osaka and would prefer to be the majority partner, which could be a serious sticking point. (Japanese companies are likely to be juiced in as majority stakeholders.) Ho took a hard shot at Adelson, saying, “If you put up some of the tacky buildings that you have in Las Vegas or Macao here it would look out of place. Can you imagine the Venetian here?”

Japan has some catching up to do. It might surprise you to learn that it draws only two-thirds as many tourists (20 million) as Macao. There’s definitely a growth opportunity to be had.

* Heads are rolling at Wynn Resorts. First, Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, International, Japan, Law enforcement, Lawrence Ho, Macau, Melco Crown Entertainment, MGM Mirage, Regulation, Scientific Games, Sheldon Adelson, Steve Wynn, The Strip | 1 Comment

Quote of the Day

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Smoke got in their eyes; Curious doings at Mohegan Sun

Macao Chief Executive Fernando Chui is denying that his government is abasing itself before casino operators even as his administration rolls out a new policy, proposed but not yet adopted, that would represent a total cave-in on Chui’s drive to ban smoking from casino floors. The enclave seems to be working off a script supplied to it by the University of Macao (whose biggest booster is Steve Wynn) and paid for by Macao’s six casino concessionaires. Speaking of concessions, there were a few points on which Macanese officials would not yield. VIP smoking rooms would require special permits and Sociedade de Jogos de Macau CEO Ambrose So‘s pleas for a 12-to-18-month implementation period was dismissed as “too much.” Technical requirements for the lounges will also be made more stringent.

Government officials had the results last December but sat on them until now. Though they claim to have Continue reading

Posted in Cretins, Environment, Idaho, Law enforcement, Macau, Mohegan Sun, Pennsylvania, Politics, Regulation, Technology, Tribal | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“We’re not talking about giving tax credits to highly lucrative operations. We’re talking about the prospect of casinos not being able to survive.” — Pennsylvania state Sen. Pat Browne (R), proposing tax credits for casinos in return for continued $10 million/year host-community fees. Browne numbers Sheldon Adelson‘s Sands Bethlehem among his constituents.

Posted in Pennsylvania, Politics, Sheldon Adelson, Taxes | Leave a comment

Caesars: The comedy is (almost) finished; Lawmaker gets high — on revenue

By merging Caesars Acquisition Co. (which holds most of the goodies) with Caesars Entertainment, the conglomerate may be finally able to ring the curtain on its bankruptcy. It’s been a long-running show, often replete with elements of farce. What seems to have brought resolution was the offer to Caesars Acquisition stockholders of 1.6 shares in Big Caesars for every share they hold in Little Caesars. With Judge Benjamin Goldgar having gaveled $10 million into oblivion, Caesars now carries ‘only’ $8 million in long-term debt. However, the effects of its adventure in Chapter 11 are far-reaching. The company lost $435 million last quarter, blowing out Wall Street projections, mostly due to restructuring costs, and revenues were up only 3%. At this point, with the bankruptcy largely in the rearview mirror, it’s time for Gary Loveman to keep his promise to step down as chairman of the board. His reign has been a near-unmitigated catastrophe and almost any new COB would be an improvement.

In another blow to the bottom line, Caesars will Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Environment, Florida, Harrah's, Louisiana, Marketing, MGM Mirage, Neil Bluhm, Nevada, New York, Politics, Regulation, Taxes, Technology | Leave a comment

Cool breeze in Singapore; Pennsylvania gets on the sports-betting bandwagon

It seems more unlikely than ever that Singapore will issue casino concessions after gaming revenues laid an egg in 1Q-3Q/16. For the full year, tourism to Singapore reached record heights, but receipts for “sightseeing, entertainment and gaming” dropped 16% in the first three quarters. This is especially surprising considering what powered the tourism numbers: Chinese mainlanders, up 36%. (Hong Kong made a weaker contribution, attributable to economic troubles back home.) Singapore raked in $17.5 billion in tourism receipts last year but recorded a substantial caveat in the form of “lower gaming revenue reported by integrated resorts.” Given this lack of bounce from the tourism increase, the government lacks an incentive to authorize more casinos in the city-state.

Further south, the detention of The Crown 18 has put a chill on high-roller play in Continue reading

Posted in Australia, Dining, Donald Trump, Foxwoods, Idaho, International, James Packer, Law enforcement, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Pennsylvania, Politics, Singapore, South Korea, Sports, The Crown 18, Tribal | Leave a comment

MGM lands big fish; Black-market casino busted in Georgia

MGM Resorts International took it on the chops from Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli, who said of 4Q16 results that they “were undoubtedly surprising, in the wrong direction in this instance as property EBITDA fell well short of forecasts, most notably on the Strip.” Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand especially suffered, as most of the increases were at low-end properties — although Bellagio had a $21 million boost. So either players are saving their pennies or they’re choosing to stay at the very top of the MGM food chain and largely ignoring the properties in between the extremes. (Due to being jointly owned with Dubai World, megaresort Aria was excluded from the comparisons.) MGM’s REIT was also a disappointment, contributing only $30 million. “Management noted convention softness, sports book hold … were a hindrance and we believe the shift from convention to leisure/casino channels at Mandalay/MGM Grand was more painful than expected,” Santarelli elaborated.

For those looking for a silver lining, MGM Grand Paradise in Macao beat Wall Street expectations and MGM National Harbor did almost twice the amount of return on investment that Santarelli projected. Wall Street expected Continue reading

Posted in Boyd Gaming, California, Donald Trump, Dubai, Georgia, International, Internet gambling, Law enforcement, Macau, Maryland, MGM Mirage, Regulation, The Strip, Tribal, Wall Street | 1 Comment

Quote of the Day

“The trick [to regulating e-sports] will be to come up with a framework that is appropriate and nimble enough to deal with innovation and technology that changes on the fly,” — Massachusetts state Sen. Eileen Donaghue on the difficulties of coping with bitcoin, skins and other items of value in the fast-growing realm of gambling.

Posted in Massachusetts, Regulation, Technology | Leave a comment

Atlantic City warms up; Tribe puts faith in Trump

Judging by his apparent failure to build brand awareness of Ten, mogul Glenn Straub is going to have trouble cracking the Atlantic City nut. That’s fine by his rivals, who are all doing very well without him. Online gambling continues to grow hand over fist up, up 29% to $19 million. Casinos as a whole grossed $186 million, a 6% increase despite having one fewer weekend than January 2016. Tables carried the day, up 20% to $60 million, while slots ($124 million) were flat. Borgata outperformed the market, rising 16% to $61 million, with tables bringing in $20 million (up 7%) and slots 6% higher than the market as a whole.

All casinos had revenue positive months, even Bally’s Wild Wild West, which added a few decimal points to the positive side of the ledger. ($14 million). Caesars Atlantic City rocketed an astounding 41% — Lady Luck must have really been favoring the house — 41% to $28 million and Harrah’s Resort also grossed Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, Dan Gilbert, Detroit, Harrah's, Kansas, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Neil Bluhm, New York, North Las Vegas, Pennsylvania, Politics, Racinos, Steve Wynn, Tilman Fertitta, Tribal, Tropicana Entertainment, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Station, Culinary at it again; Attack of the Russian slot cheats

After reaching a fragile labor peace with Station Casinos, the Culinary Union is heading for another scrum with the company, publishing a petition to “Stations Casino” [sic!], detailing various and sundry workplace complaints, such as “first aid supplies were not easily available at work.” The petition concludes that “based on focus group and survey data collected from 61 workers at Station Casinos’ properties in 2015″ there exists “a grim picture of work conditions related to employee health and safety risks” This summation was ratified by workers such as Palace Station cook Adolfo Gaspar, who told the Culinary, “We have been understaffed for the last six to seven years and they don’t train people properly. The pots and pans are regularly dirty so I have to work extra hard to clean everything before I can cook, which adds a lot of stress to my job.”

That’s basically the short version of a long litany of complaints. The study was commissioned by the Culinary, so that must be taken into account with regard to its findings. It accused Station of Continue reading

Posted in California, Culinary Union, Georgia, International, Law enforcement, MGM Mirage, New York, Penn National, Politics, South Carolina, Station Casinos, Technology, Tribal, Tropicana Entertainment, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“This is highly unnecessary. I don’t believe this bill will make it out of committee and I would urge the chairman to reread our laws.” — Idaho state Rep. Paulette Jordan (D), on a bill that would outlaw VLTs at casinos owned by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, of which Jordan is a member. The tribe’s casino gambling has been challenged in the past and upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Posted in Idaho, Politics, Tribal | Leave a comment

Sports betting a political football; Lucky Dragon doing just fine

Lawmakers in Maryland are entering the fray over sports betting. Unlike their counterparts in New Jersey, they’re not challenging the federal government directly. The proposed law, as drafted, would make sports betting legal in the Free State *if* the Bradley Act is either repealed or amended to permit single-gaming betting. (None of this parlay-only nonsense that you have to endure in Delaware.) That’s a big “if” unless President Trump — it’s still surrealistic to type that phrase — puts his money where his mouth is about the sensibility of legalizing sports betting on a widespread basis. Or the Supreme Court could rule in New Jersey’s favor and toss the Bradley Act on the ash heap of history.

The draft bill in Maryland would establish a study commission and mandate that the law be ratified by a voter referendum. Not surprisingly, MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and Cordish Gaming are already on board with the Lege. We might see political action in New York State, where Assemblyman Gary Pretlow says “Pushing sports betting is at the top of my agenda right now,” leapfrogging Internet gambling. Pretlow’s constituents include Empire City Casino, which could benefit from sports-betting lagniappe. There are rumblings out of  such unlikely places as Continue reading

Posted in Ameristar, Boyd Gaming, Cordish Co., Delaware, Dining, Donald Trump, Georgia, GLPI, Harrah's, Hawaii, Internet gambling, Isle of Capri, Lucky Dragon, Macau, Maryland, MGM Mirage, Mississippi, Missouri, Neil Bluhm, New York, Penn National, Philippines, Pinnacle Entertainment, Politics, Racinos, Singapore, Sports, Steve Wynn, The Strip, Tourism, Tropicana Entertainment, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Mixed results in Indiana; New Hampshire tries, tries, tries again

Casino revenue was down 4% last month in Indiana but, with one less weekend than last year and a 6% decline in foot traffic, I’m disinclined to read too much into the results. However, just for the record, let’s look at what went down (in more senses than one). For starters, the $173 million gross implies that customers were wagering slightly more than in 2016. Several big operators took it on the chin. Penn National Gaming/GLPI‘s Hollywood Lawrenceburg ($13 million) was off 8%, while Pinnacle Entertainment‘s Belterra dove 9%, to $8 million. By contrast, Rising Sun ($4 million) was only 2% off the pace and Tropicana Evansville ($10 million) was 2% up. So was French Lick Resort ($7 million).

Caesars Entertainment dominated its respective markets, with Horseshoe Southern Indiana grossing $19 million (down 5%) and Horseshoe Hammond hauling in $34 million (off 4%). Ameristar East Chicago was not so fortunate, down 9% to $17 million. Majestic Star I ($7 million) stayed afloat, off only Continue reading

Posted in Ameristar, Boyd Gaming, Full House Resorts, GLPI, Harrah's, Indiana, Majestic Star, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Penn National, Pinnacle Entertainment, Politics, Racinos, Regulation, Sports, Tropicana Entertainment, TV | Leave a comment

Wynn shows Adelson up; Schenectady casino opens tonight

Contrary to crude insinuations by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Steve Wynn‘s gift of $7 million in company stock late last year went mainly toward medical research at the University of Iowa’s Wynn Institute for Vision Research ($5 million), while another $1.7 million was disbursed to various and sundry Las Vegas charities. Although it’s nobody business but Wynn’s what he did with the stock, he may have felt compelled to go public with the donations after Sheldon Adelson‘s newspaper added one and one, and came up with three, assuming that Wynn had given the stock to Donald Trump in return for high visibility in Republican Party affairs. While the R-J doesn’t owe Wynn an apology, neither should it go off half-cocked again.

Speaking of Adelson, he may be well rid of the ongoing NFL stadium fiasco. Seems that the self-serving lease the [your city here] Raiders submitted to Clark County has a subtle escape clause that could enable the Raiders to leave Vegas before their stadium lease expires. The Raiders have played Nevada politicians like a harp and Continue reading

Posted in Animals, Charity, Economy, Harrah's, Iowa, Maine, Marketing, Neil Bluhm, New York, Sheldon Adelson, Sports, Steve Wynn, Technology, The Strip, Tribal | 1 Comment

Quote of the Day

“It is very hard to open a casino that doesn’t have another casino within 100 miles, so the pie is really being divided up. The bottom line is going to be in three, four, five years when the rest of this market is built out … who is going to survive in this? What happened in Atlantic City was no fluke. They had to close four casinos because there was not a big enough market anymore…and that is going to be the norm in the future.” — casino pundit Alan Woinski, on gambling expansion in upstate New York, which detractors argue is oversaturated.

Posted in Atlantic City, Economy, New York | Leave a comment

Tumult at Golden Gate; Icahn to sell Trump Taj

It’s been a busy week or so for Derek Stevens. Last week, he started turning earth on the La Bayou site, preface to construction of a two-story slot parlor that Stevens expects to have finished by August. (He wastes no time.) That bit of news was overshadowed yesterday by the precipitate closing of DuPar’s in the Sal Sagev, known to you and I as the Golden Gate. “DuPar’s has struggled with payments over a period of time,” ran the austere official announcement, one that Stevens felt compelled to clarify with a tweet that the “payments” in question had nothing to do with the rent. VitalVegas thickened the intrigue with a rumor that DuPar’s owner Biff Naylor was at odds with the IRS. As if that weren’t enough drama for a day, the closing was moved up by 30 hours, with midnight on Feb. 8 superseded by 6:30 on the evening of the 7th. DuPar’s occupies an awfully prominent space, so we’re confident that Stevens will have something else in there sooner rather than later.

* This was bound to happen sooner or later. In Nevada, you can vote at age 18 and volunteer to get your ass shot off in Iraq but Heaven forbid you should Continue reading

Posted in Alabama, Atlantic City, Carl Icahn, Derek Stevens, Dining, Downtown, Glenn Straub, Nevada, Politics, Revel, Unite-Here | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“A comment by U.S. Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions that he would ‘revisit’ the Department of Justice‘s opinion on the legality of online gaming also has been ‘overblown,’ [Chris Grove and Adam Krejcik] write. Sessions declined to be a co-sponsor in recent years of a Senate bill that would have led to an online gaming ban.” — John Brennan, on the performance of online gambling in New Jersey. Sessions’ statement sounds, in the cool light of reflection, like the kind of senatorial sop thrown out during confirmation, telling the questioner (in this case, Sen. Lindsey Graham [R]) what they want to hear.

Posted in Atlantic City, Internet gambling, Politics | Leave a comment

MGM National Harbor a hit with players; Fertitta talks a good game

Given its high profile, MGM National Harbor had to hit a home run for MGM Resorts International and, judging by the numbers, it’s done just that. Last month it grossed $49 million, which — when the numbers are adjusted to account for National Harbor’s not having been open the first week of December — is a 12% sequential improvement. Casino management has to be happy that revenue was split almost 50/50 between slots and table games. National Harbor had 39% of Maryland‘s casino market last month, followed by Maryland Live ($44 million) with 35% and Horseshoe Baltimore, way behind at 16% ($20 million). Year/year, Maryland Live was down 16% and Horseshoe was off 14.5%, which (if memory serves) is in line with projections. An unlikely beneficiary was Penn National Gaming/GLPI‘s Hollywood Perryville, ($6 million) up 5%. Golden Entertainment‘s Rocky Gap Resort had an exceptionally good month, up 12% to $4 million.

Out in West Virginia, where National Harbor was expected to wreak real havoc, it’s not playing out according to the script. Gross gaming revenues for January were Continue reading

Posted in Boyd Gaming, Cordish Co., Downtown, GLPI, Golden Gaming, Goldman Sachs, Harrah's, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, MGM Mirage, Mississippi, Neil Bluhm, Nevada, New York, Penn National, Politics, Racinos, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, Slot routes, Sports, Station Casinos, The Strip, Tilman Fertitta, Wall Street, West Virginia | Leave a comment

Next stop, Terre Haute

Now that ex-Gov. Mike Pence (R) has moved on to bigger and better things, casino expansion is back on the table in Indiana. The question seems to be more one of “where” than “if.” Lawmakers are warming to Dan Lee‘s proposal to split Rising Sun‘s gaming inventory in half and move 50% to a new facility further upstate. The idea of relocating in Indianapolis has been ditched and legislators are now focused on the (much smaller) Terre Haute market, with the idea of drawing off players from nearby Illinois. Full House veep Alex Stoylar said, “Indianapolis is obviously a much bigger marketplace, but Terre Haute allows us to attract a lot more from Illinois, which is really the key to all of this.” Cannibalization is also a worry for other Indiana casinos, who aren’t on board with the idea, particularly Tropicana Evansville. There’s also expected to be some impact on French Lick Resort Casino as well as on the state’s two racinos.

Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) is too busy with other legislative priorities to weigh in on the issue but state Sen. Jon Ford hopes to buy the racinos’ cooperation with Continue reading

Posted in Dan Lee, Economy, Full House Resorts, Illinois, Indiana, International, Isle of Capri, Macau, Melco Crown Entertainment, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Philippines, Politics, Racinos, Slot routes, Taxes, Tribal | Leave a comment