Poker players 1, Adelson 0; Competition in Maryland gets ugly

For the first time in anyone’s recollection, the Republican Party has dropped its opposition to Internet poker from the election platform. It’s a win for the Poker adelson_t200Players Alliance, which lobbied for the change of heart. This doesn’t mean the GOP is about to embrace Internet gambling. But if it reframes the i-gaming debate as a state-level issue … that’s where it should have been all along. However, you will pardon us if we enjoy the egg on the faces of Sheldon Adelson, sugar daddy of the GOP, and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), another bitter foe of online poker. However, at the top of the ticket you have Donald Trump, who — as a private citizen — has dabbled in prospective Internet gambling. It would hardly do for the party to give him the finger by dissing one of his fields of endeavor. Compound this with the grisly demise of Restore America’s Wire Act in the last Congress and Adelson’s Luddite crusade against the evil Internet seems to be breathing its last, thank God.

* MGM National Harbor hasn’t opened yet and already the competition with Maryland Live has turned nasty. The latter is alleging that ex-Cordish Gaming employees made off with a list of 3,000 Continue reading

Posted in Cordish Co., Donald Trump, Election, Indiana, Marketing, Maryland, MGM Mirage, Politics, Sheldon Adelson | Leave a comment

Plainridge Park hits the one-year mark; Pennsylvania casinos spurn booze tax

Recording its first anniversary with a reported $160 million in revenue, against projections closer to $300 million, is Penn National Gaming‘s Plainridge Park a dud? Not so fast. The casino reports the highest win/slot/day by far of any casino for which Penn Plainridgeshares such numbers. Smokers only had to drive an extra 11 miles to play at nicotine-friendly Twin River Casino, in Rhode Island, which is only 5% off last year’s revenue pace. Ditto table-game players. So those were two constituencies with whom Plainridge was bound to disappoint. However, $130 million of Plainridge’s haul was new revenue. So it grew the market, even if it largely failed to interdict the flow of capital to casinos to the south. Penn spokesman Eric Schippers had to tip his cap to the competition: “This is a highly competitive market where we learned that, despite having the newest product and great customer service, we underestimated the ongoing benefit that table games and indoor smoking continues to provide Twin River.”

A slots-only casino with a reputation for tight holds, Plainridge still managed to accomplish at least half its mission, which was to Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, Election, Internet gambling, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Neil Bluhm, New York, Penn National, Pennsylvania, PokerStars, Regulation, Revel, Rhode Island, Sheldon Adelson, Steve Wynn, Taxes, Tribal | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“[W]e’re going to spend millions now marketing to them, because hey, before you know it, it’s 2030, and we’ve missed our shot. It’s like marketing a car to 6-year-olds so they’ll want to drive it when they’re old enough.” — Frank Legato on the casino industry’s new infatuation with millennials and particularly with e-sports, which has already had its first betting scandal.

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Wynn Boston Harbor a ‘go’; Caesars’ big score

Depending on how peevish Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone is feeling, groundbreaking on Wynn Boston Harbor could be a week away. Wynn Resortswynn_night-fullacknowledgement of its latest victory contained just a hint of battle fatigue, saying the rejection of Curtatone’s arguments “hopefully concludes” one of the most protracted construction debates in Massachusetts history. For his part, dese-dem-dose palooka Curtatone is saying maybe he won’t appeal further — but maybe he might. (My money’s on the latter; surely Curtatone hasn’t enjoyed this much press in years.)

For his part, Wynn Boston Harbor President Robert DeSalvio isn’t waiting to find out. “Crews and resources are being readied and mobilized,” he told the Boston Herald. Curtatone could ask the Department of Environmental Protection to reconsider its ruling or even take the whole matter to court — and never mind that Continue reading

Posted in California, Dining, Environment, Florida, Genting, Harrah's, International, Internet gambling, Massachusetts, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, Singapore, Steve Wynn, Taxes, Tourism | Leave a comment

Tomato King gets squashed; California, the wild, wild west of gambling

So much for Lawrence Downs Casino & Racing Resort. In a unanimous vote, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board decided to drop-kick the casino project, which had already Joseph-G-Procacci-and-Dr-Walter-Lomax-Jrlost the backing of Penn National Gaming, which has racino interests nearby in Ohio. What seems to have shot down Endeka Entertainment was a lack of financing. It proposed to execute a $500 million-size project on $205 million, a number that shrank to $145 million once licensing fees were subtracted. This is the second major defeat for Joseph “Tomato King” Procacci, the hapless vegetable mogul who tried and failed to get a Philadelphia casino, too. The Lawrence County site also seems to have been hexed, having been through a revolving door of developers, of whom Procacci was the sixth to date. The news comes as Pennsylvania hits a new high in casino revenues — $3.2 billion for the last fiscal year — providing a huge revenue stream to the state … albeit not enough for Continue reading

Posted in California, Dan Gilbert, Election, Geoff Freeman, Law enforcement, Macau, Ohio, Penn National, Pennsylvania, Politics, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, Sports, Tomato King Procacci | Leave a comment

Casino lingo that’s getting tired

Why is “Millennials” a more overused term than “skill-based slots”? Read more and find out.

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Straub’s empty bluster; Cantor gets smacked

Some people either put up or shut up. Glenn Straub can’t put up and won’t shut up. His latest brush with the news pages is his welshing on a bet with Bart Blatstein that the latter couldn’t open the Showboat by his self-imposed deadline. When Blatstein won the revel_0494bet and asked for the money so he could give it to charity, Straub claimed there was no bet and he was keeping the 100 dimes for himself. Now he’s scrapping with Blatstein over the latter’s plans to redevelop Garden Pier, which just seems like sour grapes. Blatstein has crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s in dealing with Atlantic City bureaucracy. Straub, by contrast, seems illiterate. And, yes, there’s still not even hint of a new reopening date for Revel, let alone the much-ballyhooed new name. Rival casino owners shouldn’t be worried because we don’t think Straub can throw up a serious challenge, even if he ever gets Revel back on its feet. We’ll say this for Donald Trump‘s legacy: Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Cantor Gaming, Donald Trump, Glenn Straub, Regulation, Revel, Sports | Leave a comment

Pinnacle dominates Louisiana; Trump settles Vegas case

Pulled under by the Shreveport/Bossier City market (-6%), June gaming numbers in Louisiana came in 3% off last year’s. Pinnacle Entertainment‘s Boomtown Bossier ($5 million) far sams town shloutperformed the competition, up 11%. Hardest hit were the Caesars Entertainment properties, with usually reliable Horseshoe Bossier City plunging 16% ($14 million) and Louisiana Downs 9% off the pace, at $3 million. Eldorado Shreveport also had an aberrantly bad month, down 8% and grossing $10 million. Except for Sam’s Town (-1%, $6 million, above), all other casinos were essentially flat for June. In fact, Boyd Gaming had a rough month of it across the market. Delta Downs was down indeed (-5.5%, $14 million), Amelia Belle swooned 7% ($4 million, below) and Evangeline Downs was 6% off, to $7 million. Only old reliable, Treasure Chest, had a good month. It grossed $9 million, a 3% gain.

Considering that Pinnacle’s Boomtown New Orleans (-1%, $9 million) wasn’t up for the month, it isn’t necessarily a case of Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, Carl Icahn, Churchill Downs, Culinary Union, Donald Trump, GLPI, Harrah's, Isle of Capri, Louisiana, Palms, Penn National, Pinnacle Entertainment, Racinos, Slot routes, Station Casinos, Tilman Fertitta, Tropicana Entertainment, Unite-Here | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“It is anything but a victimless crime. Just as we have partnered with law enforcement at every level, including the FBI, state attorneys general, sheriffs and chiefs of police, we look forward to supporting efforts of the Ohio Casino Control Commission and Attorney General Mike DeWine, who also has been a leader, in any way we can.” — American Gaming Association Vice President of Government Relations Whit Askew, on gray-market, Internet “sweepstakes cafes.”

Posted in Internet gambling, Law enforcement, Ohio, Texas | 1 Comment

Tribal gaming reaches new high; New concept for Railroad Pass

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Last year was the best ever for tribal casinos, up 5% from 2014, coming in just a bit shy of $30 billion. Recent efforts to align tribal and private-sector casino interests come at a time when the tribal sector could plausibly achieve revenue supremacy. The latter have the advantage of not being beholden to Wall Street and the grail of maximizing shareholder returns. “They’re not really profits,” Cabazon Band of Mission Indians member Brenda Soulliere said of tribal revenues. “They’re funds that Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Dubai, Economy, Election, Indiana, Kazuo Okada, Macau, MGM Mirage, Mississippi, Nebraska, Philippines, Regulation, Transportation, Tribal, Tropicana Entertainment | Leave a comment

Strip still catching up; Nevada taking bets on the Olympics

While gaming companies on the Las Vegas Strip are fairly sanguine about 2016, a new report by Alex Bumazhny of Fitch Ratings takes a somewhat gloomier view. For one, he notes that revenue per available room “growth during the recovery has lagged the national ARIAbyNight_t610average despite virtually no new capacity since 2010, which may suggest that the market is still digesting decade-old new supply.” Should there be another recession, though, he says the big boys are better positioned to ride it out, not being deeply into merger activity or new, capital-intensive projects. But the good news sort of ends there: “The weakness in Macau has spilled over with the Strip baccarat volume on track to decline by around 20% in 2016. Weakness may persist into 2017 as four additional resorts open in Macau and the dollar further strengthens.” At least Las Vegas‘ economic diversification (think restaurants, amenities) shields it from “lackluster” regional gaming prospects, according to Bumazhny, who says this “supports a view that the Strip resorts are real estate investments and should trade at comparable multiples.” So I guess that’s one more vote for REITmania.

* As Westgate Las Vegas Sports Book Director Jay Kornegay points out to the Los Angeles Times, the Olympics are now tantamount to a Continue reading

Posted in Arizona, Dan Gilbert, Detroit, Dining, Economy, Election, Geoff Freeman, Macau, Ohio, Penn National, Pennsylvania, Sports, The Strip, Westgate LV | 2 Comments

Big win for Wynn; Entertainer gets shrunken head

It’s never too late to count out litigious Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone but it looks like Wynn Boston Harbor may finally be inevitable. The casino project received a stevewynn_300development permit from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Sore losers Mohegan Sun are still suing the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, but it doesn’t look like their litigation will affect Wynn Resorts‘ prospects. “One does not need to be a casino enthusiast to recognize and acknowledge the benefit that accrues to a city when a long-dormant, contaminated-waste site is cleaned up and brought back to useful life,” said MDEP hearing officer Jane Rothchild. Anti-casino Curtatone may still try to get the decision overturned but Wynn Resorts can start focusing its attention on remediating the aresenic, lead and other industrial goodies with which its land is laced.

In fact, the company was a winner twice over when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ashcanned a lawsuit by Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Entertainment, Iowa, Louisiana, Macau, Massachusetts, Mohegan Sun, Regulation, Steve Wynn, Transportation, Tropicana Entertainment, Unite-Here | Leave a comment

The card-room hustle; Sheldon, can you spare $6 million?

“In the 16 years we’ve been down there, I’ve paid the city $80.5 million in tax revenue. We saved the city from bankruptcy. We’ve been paying the city payroll including the Police Department for the last 16 years and I don’t think anyone has done as much for the city and received so little.” So speaks Larry Flynt, who is balking at Gardena, California‘s quid pro quo for tax breaks he is seeking for his existing card room and his proposed rehabilitation of the disgraced Normandie Casino as the Lucky Lady Casino. The city wants a guaranteed $800,000 a month from each card room before it will give Flynt tax rebates on revenues exceeding $2 million monthly. City officials also don’t like the buxom woman who serves as Flynt’s logo but there’s nothing they can do about it — and she looks pretty inoffensive to us.

Flynt’s got a point: It does seem extortionate. His response is to threaten to shutter the Lucky Lady before it even reopens. “Yes, I did add a Continue reading

Posted in California, Election, Internet gambling, Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, Sheldon Adelson, Taxes, Tribal, Warner Gaming | Leave a comment

Station goes to Reno; Tohono O’odham trip themselves up

Continuing its sudden flurry of activity, Station Casinos is reviving its dormant Reno-area aspirations. The company is acting on its eight-acre parcel opposite the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, a strategic location if ever there were one. The $50 station-casinos-execsmillion-$70 million project will be sort of a pocket casino, its amenities limited to two fast-food outlets, a café and a sports bar. No hotel has been announced, which strongly suggests that Station is going to deploy the portable license for a no-hotel casino that it acquired a decade ago from the Reno Turf Club and has been keeping its back pocket ever since. Station is proceeding cautiously, holding off developing a larger parcel in the area of Sierra Summit Mall, which would require a more capital-intensive entry into the market. (Yes, I know the captions are reversed on the picture there and, no, there’s nothing I can do about it.)

Station needs a zoning change for the convention-center site and permission from state regulators to use the old Turf Club license, but those should Continue reading

Posted in Arizona, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Regulation, Reno, Sports, Station Casinos, Tribal, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“Amen. I recently took over a property, and using good old-fashioned guest interactions, we have seen an increase in gaming revenue of 9% in just six months. While it takes really smart people to run these businesses, it’s not as complicated as some would want you to believe. Simply, find out what the players want and within reason, give it to them.” — Reserve Hotel & Casino General Manager Barry Phillips, offering his point of view in a stimulating and lively debate over the merits of statisticians versus customer interactions.

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Acrimony grows at Taj; Racism in Nebraska election race

As protests against Carl Icahn spilled over into New York City, his casino CEO, Anthony Rodio, sent ominously mixed signals about the future of Trump Taj Mahal. On the one hand, he offered a partial restoration of health benefits and a reduction in the tony-rodioroom-cleaning quota to 14 rooms a day (the Atlantic City standard). On the other, he called the Taj “a money pit,” raising questions about the depth of his and Icahn’s commitment to the property. “The company offered to fund a health insurance plan that was offered by Unite-Here but was not quite as rich as the plan at the other A.C. casinos. But it did provide medical insurance for all union members and their families. In addition, the Taj Mahal would have extended health insurance to all non-union members, as well. This one concession would have cost the company multiple millions of dollars,” he also offered to renegotiate terms in 18 months, as well as that new job openings would be coming on line. However, he also said his deal was only valid through end of business Monday, raising the specter of a bare-bones follow-up offer.

Rodio’s rhetoric didn’t impress Unite-Here Local 54, which responded with some of its own, accusing Icahn and Donald Trump of Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, Carl Icahn, Donald Trump, Entertainment, Galaxy Entertainment, Iowa, Lake Tahoe, Macau, MGM Mirage, Minnesota, Nebraska, Racinos, Regulation, Tribal, Tropicana Entertainment, Unite-Here | Leave a comment

“Baz” in my bonnet; Moulin Rouge back in play

Palazzo is currently hosting the second coming of Baz: Star-Crossed Love, a song-and-dance mishmash of iconic moments from such Baz Luhrmann epics as Gatsby, Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet. (What, nothing from Australia? Awwwww.) There’s even a baz-picpassing nod to his first — and still best — movie, Strictly Ballroom. The good news is that Baz plays better in the reconfigured Palazzo Showroom than it did when shoehorned into Light at Mandalay Bay. The bad news is that it’s afflicted with the same heartlessness and ADHD mania as the movies themselves. For Baz’s new iteration, the showroom has been reconfigured with a multi-pronged catwalk that goes into and around the audience. More’s the pity that it’s used without much imagination. An overworked trope has one star-crossed lover, far upstage, addressing another who’s way out in the center aisle. They’re then brought together, with a long, white sheet usually involved. Another much-abused device is to have scenes from two different stories playing out simultaneously. Don’t go in expecting a linear experience.

There are are one or two standout performances, especially from  Continue reading

Posted in Downtown, Entertainment, Moulin Rouge, Movies, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, The Strip | Leave a comment

Lean June in Atlantic City; Respect for the riff raff

Just when it should have been booming with the summer season, Atlantic City casino revenue fell 4% — $197.5 million — although online casino revenues rose 41% (to $16 Resorts ACmillion). Resorts Digital — aka PokerStars — is still bringing up the rear, but it’s closing the gap, having raised its market share to 16.5% (Caesars Interactive has 18.5% and Borgata leads the market with 23%.) Luck magnified table and slot revenues at Borgata. Table play was 7% down and revenues dropped 12%. Slot handle rose 1% and casino winnings were up 4%. The megaresort grossed $56 million for a 1% decline.

Other operators would like to have that problem. Their slot and table declines were indicative of 7% less table play and 3% less coin-in at Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, Harrah's, International, Internet gambling, Marketing, Mohegan Sun, PokerStars, Regulation, Tilman Fertitta, Tropicana Entertainment | Leave a comment

Israel moves toward casinos; West Virginia mulls ‘Net betting

We’ve been surprised that Sheldon Adelson isn’t overtly pushing for casinos in Israel, especially upon reading that the city of Eilat “smells and feels a little bit like a very small version of Vegas.” It’s well away from the rest of Israel and exempt from the country’s value-added tax system. But, although pro-casino sentiment has been on the upswing in the Holy Land, obstacles abound. For one thing, a tourists-only casino or four might not only be hard-pressed to make ends meet, many Israels hold two passports, so verifying their nationality could be “an absolute nightmare” according to one consultant.

“The Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu, recently said to a source on our behalf that he desires to recreate Las Vegas in Eilat … we believe that for the first time in the history of Israel there is some actual hope for it,” said attorney Tal Itzhak Ron. Concedes Marcon Consulting Group CEO Peter Marcus, “Israel is a dichotomy because Continue reading

Posted in Genting, International, Internet gambling, Maryland, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Pennsylvania, Problem gambling, Tribal, West Virginia | Leave a comment

Poker hands across the ocean; New offer in Caesars bankruptcy

Spurning Nevada and Delaware, the state of New Jersey is exploring an online-poker compact with the United Kingdom. The deal, if consummated, would allow the two entities New Jersey flagto share players and liquidity. “Even when you discount children and non-gamblers, it gives us access to a market that is very familiar with online gaming. That number is one-fifth of the total U.S. population,” said Division of Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck. Online casino games would be foreseeable but sports betting is out of court. However, not all New Jersey i-casino operators — who include GVC and (the latter is the only operator in the Nevada/Delaware compact) — offer online poker and you’re registered with one of those platforms you’re SOL.

According to Rebuck, “We’d still have to figure out lots of issues: specific regulations, how the tax rate from each jurisdiction would be applied, player ID and geolocation issues, and other things we Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Glenn Straub, Harrah's, International, Internet gambling, Iowa, MGM Mirage, Regulation, Revel, Technology, The Strip, Transportation, Warner Gaming | Leave a comment