Atlantic City saved

It’s all over. The fat lady hath sung. And Atlantic City lives to gamble another day. Discouraged by poll numbers that showed insurmountable support for the status quo in atlantic-cityNew Jersey, expansion PAC Our Turn NJ is closing up shop. That means that well-heeled potential casino developers Jeff Gural and Paul Fireman (the two frontrunners) are out of the fight. They’re pulling their ads from Garden State media. Sure, they would have been mandated to construct billion-dollar pleasure palaces, but you know what we would have gotten on Election Day Plus One: slots in a box. (Strangely, the American Gaming Association buried this banner-headline story deep in its daily briefing.)

Polling showed the voters were skeptical that the state would do as it said in terms of using the new tax proceeds to shore up economically blighted areas of New Jersey (a big vote of no-confidence for state leaders). Gural and Fireman covered their retreat with self-serving verbiage. “We believe deeply that gaming expansion to Northern New Jersey is a Continue reading

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Adelson expands; Caesars sweetens the pot

Las Vegas Sands never did get around to building that historical museum it promised Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and it finished its hotel in quick-and-dirty (and fugly) fashion. But that doesn’t mean that Sands is still clinging to CEO Sheldon Adelson‘s Sands Bethworkspronouncement that going into Bethlehem was “a mistake.” After all, it’s beating the pants off most of its competitors and — when it comes to table-game play — is in a class of its own, making $228 million last year. Sands Bethlehem is going to invest $40 million into an extension of the gaming floor, right up to the shores of the Lehigh River. This enlargement, described as being the size of two football fields, will give Sands Pennsylvania’s largest gaming floor — would you expect Sheldon to settle for anything less?

A poker room and new restaurants are also components of the plan. Even though detailed specifications have been filed with the Department of Community & Economic Development, casino CEO Mark Juliano took the rather silly position of saying,  Continue reading

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Round One to Adelson; Berman honored; Atlantic City winning in polls

Sands China has been getting mad props for its handling of the Parisian rollout last week. Compared to Wynn Palace‘s “passive” approach to the market (and despite a hailstorm of Sheldon pashaupbeat verbiage from Steve Wynn), analyst Christopher Jones wrote, “The awareness of the Parisian among gamblers was high, with Sands having blanketed the region with social media impressions of the new property over the last couple months. “This is in contrast to the recent Wynn Palace opening that took a more passive strategy relative to marketing, prior to opening. We believe that Wynn is looking to address this, as it adjusts to the operating environment in Cotai.” Not only was Parisian doing strong business, it was drawing off players from luckless Studio City, a project taken in haste by Melco Crown Entertainment, to be repented at leisure. Parisian is also said to have benefited from being more fully completed than previous Sheldon Adelson offerings in Macao.

“The bottom line is that Parisian seems to be significantly more compelling than Studio City from a mass-market consumer perspective, and should these trends be maintained, Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Carl Icahn, Election, Harrah's, history, International, Lyle Berman, Macau, Marketing, Melco Crown Entertainment, Mississippi, Nevada, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, Steve Wynn, The Strip, Transportation, Wall Street, World Series of Poker | 1 Comment

Macao: Dirty money; What Millennial problem?

Is Macao‘s gaming prosperity built on “often shady links to organised crime and racketeering” through the junket business? The South China Morning Post‘s Niall Fraser contends that it is. As of 2013, $202 billion in ill-gotten-gains were flowing through the enclave, according to the United States Congressional-Executive Commission on China. With junketeers looking farther afield, casino CEOs are suggesting unthinkable — that Macao might have peaked. “The number of junket representatives has shrunk dramatically over the last two years. It would have to regrow again to come back with the same vigor that we’ve experienced in the past. I’m not sure that’s going to happen because other locations are trying to pick up the excess market that’s no longer here,” said Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson last week.

Junkets are putting their resources into asset management, pawnbroking and mining, among many other activities, while “Others have sought to expand Continue reading

Posted in Boyd Gaming, Downtown, Harrah's, history, International, Internet gambling, Macau, Marketing, MGM Mirage, Pinnacle Entertainment, Riviera, Sheldon Adelson, Steve Wynn, The Mob, The Strip | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

macao-from-st-pauls“By 2018, at the latest, some casinos failing to make ends meet would be forced to restructure. But the point is, why does the market cling to the hope of a turnaround,defying the fact that the gambling business has already developed excessively in Macao?” — Delta Asia Financial Group Chairman Stanley Au Chong-kit, defying conventional wisdom that the Chinese enclave’s casinos are on the comeback trail.

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Revel becomes Ten; Bluhm enters Atlantic City market

As we enter the waning months of 2016, Glenn Straub has decided to wait until next year to reopen Revel. He also announced its long-awaited new name: Ten (actually it’s Revel_0947“TEN” but we don’t go for that all-caps tomfoolery at S&G). Ten was chosen as preferable to “Zen.” “Ten joined with our infinity logo represents our mission to provide the highest-rated amenities and our daily endeavor to offer an infinitely perfect escape for our guests, families and businesses,” said property CEO Robert A. Landino. There will be one holdover from the old Revel team in the form of CFO Alan Greenstein, who presumably knows where all the bodies are buried. Ten is pinning its hopes on refugee gamblers from the casinos that have closed — or, in the case of Trump Taj Mahal — soon will. But those are low-rollers, which leads one to question the strategy.

Nobody could blame Straub if he wanted to wait until the spring of 2017 to reopen — he can certainly afford it. But he’s shooting for Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Glenn Straub, Internet gambling, Macau, Neil Bluhm, Pennsylvania, Philippines, Regulation, Revel, Tilman Fertitta, Tropicana Entertainment, Unite-Here | 1 Comment

Arkansas casino proposal hotly contested; Straub gains support

Although a ballot initiative to legalize casinos in three Arkansas counties could draw some gambling dollars away from Oklahoma, that hasn’t stopped a Sooner State tribe from supporting it. Cherokee Nation Businesses has ponied up $400,000 to support Flag_of_Arkansas.svgthe ballot question. What’s in it for them? Management of the northwesternmost casino, which would siphon business away from the Branson, Missouri area. (Branson businessman Marc Williams is also a campaign backer.) Arkansas Winning Initiative, as the campaign is called, is hotly opposed by the state’s horse tracks, which have VLTs, to the tune of a hundred grand. Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a casino opponent, is also trying to tip the scales against Arkansas Winning Initiative. He’s appointed failed Continue reading

Posted in Arkansas, Atlantic City, Glenn Straub, Horseracing, Internet gambling, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Politics, Racinos, Regulation, Revel, Tribal | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“If this was the old days Gov. Doug Ducey would have sent a telegram to Sen. McCain in Washington, D.C., and asked him to get the government to send in the cavalry to run off the tribe occupying a patch of land in the West Valley. It wouldn’t matter that that the tribe was occupying land that it owned. Apparently … that still doesn’t.” — Arizona Republic columnist Mike Montini on the state’s “sleazy schemes and secret meetings” to thwart the Tohono O’odham Nation‘s Scottsdale-area casino.

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Eldorado captures Isle; Adelson thwarted; Perlman dies

Scratch one more casino company from the checkerboard. This morning it was announced that Eldorado Resorts was buying Isle of Capri Casinos (long mooted as a takeover target. Isle_of_Capri_Casinos-1Eldorado will pay $1.7 billion for Isle — or $23 a share (and including $929 million in long-term debt). Isle stock shot up from $17 to $22 a share over the weekend, plateauing at the latter figure. Wrote Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli, “we view the transaction as an obvious win for ISLE shareholders and a net positive for broader regional gaming operators.” It’s also a David-and-Goliath situation, with Eldorado — owner of seven casinos — swallowing the much larger Isle of Capri network. Eldorado already has experience working in large markets like Reno, Shreveport and Columbus, Ohio. Now it will get to test its experience on podunk Isle facilities in places like Boonville, Missouri, and Nemacolin, Pennsylvania.

“Despite ISLE’s more challenged regional asset portfolio,” Santarelli wrote, Eldorado wanted Isle badly enough to pay an above-average 8.4X cash flow for its assets, “a healthy premium” as Santarelli called it. Eldorado expects to Continue reading

Posted in Alabama, Atlantic City, Eldorado Resorts, Florida, Foxwoods, Geoff Freeman, Harrah's, history, Internet gambling, Isle of Capri, Louisiana, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Missouri, Mohegan Sun, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Politics, Reno, Sheldon Adelson, Taxes, The Mob, The Strip, Tribal, Vietnam, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Judge to Caesars: Get naked; Bite the wax tadpole

IMG-20130507-00006“These folks are going to have to pony up the paper,” said U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Benjamin Goldgar, stripping the fig leaf from Caesars Entertainment owners Marc Rowan, David Bonderman and others. They’ll have to reveal details of their personal wealth — which includes lavish bonuses they paid themselves for cutting costs in the Roman empire. Junior creditors aren’t going to release their claims on the company without knowing how much its owners have in the bank. Caesars Chairman of the Board Gary Loveman and former CFO Eric Hession are among those who are going to have to come clean under Goldgar’s order. While Goldgar threw out some of the junior creditors’ demands — like details of the defendants’ domestic life — he backed the plaintiffs in the main. Bonderman’s Texas Pacific Group has already promised to appeal.

* Southwest Airlines appears to have the deciding vote in where a proposed [your city here] Raiders stadium would go. It has expressed vexation with Continue reading

Posted in Dining, Economy, Georgia, Harrah's, International, Lucky Dragon, Macau, Melco Crown Entertainment, MGM Mirage, Sheldon Adelson, Sports, Steve Wynn, Taxes, The Strip, Transportation, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Tribal opponents caught in the act; Freeman gets ratings boost

Opponents of the Tohono O’odham casino in Glendale may have really stepped in it. According to the Arizona Republic, “lawyers and lobbyists representing the state and two danberginrival Indian communities held confidential meetings about ways to stop it, according to depositions released Wednesday.” However, if any minutes of those meetings were kept, they were subsequently destroyed. “They were of no further use,” a representative of the state argued lamely. No, documentation of a conspiracy to stop the tribe’s casino ambitions couldn’t possibly have any probative value in ongoing legal proceedings. The Tohono O’odham want Arizona Department of Gaming Director Daniel Bergin [right] sanctioned for sweeping the meetings under the rug. “If you have a duty to keep certain documents and you destroy them, then the judge could consider a … sanction,” argued Arizona First Amendment Coalition attorney Dan Barr — particularly when litigation is anticipation. At present, the State of Arizona and the tribe are deadlocked over whether the latter’s casino can offer Class III gaming — it presently has Class II machines and there’s nothing the state can do about it.

A state official pushed the Gila River Indian Community and Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community under the bus, saying Continue reading

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Analysts not sold yet on Macao recovery; Soggy month for Louisiana

They came, they saw, they were unconvinced. “The re-affirmation that mass is improving was pronounced,” reported Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli, adding that Sheldon_Adelson dye jobprojections were all over the place. “We get the sense that expectations remain low with respect to medium term VIP trends,” he added. There was a lot of talk about “player acquisition” (read: poaching from the competition) but concrete strategy was lacking. Santarelli concluded that “we think ultimately product quality leads the way, with customer reinvestment following.” Of the two new megaresorts, he was slightly more taken with Parisian, due in part to the critical mass of properties surrounding it. He also like its “inexpensive room product,” which would incentivize longer stays and Sands China‘s large, existing, mass-market base, from which it could “prune” customers for the new property. “Unfortunately, we leave with little confidence in either direction as we believe the market is at least stable, but believe more robust growth expectations are a function of the tail wagging the dog, given the moves in the stocks of late,” Santarelli added.

“We’d like to get more positive on the Macau names, but do not see a Continue reading

Posted in Australia, Boyd Gaming, Churchill Downs, Economy, Eldorado Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment, GLPI, Harrah's, Isle of Capri, Louisiana, Macau, Massachusetts, Melco Crown Entertainment, MGM Mirage, Penn National, Pinnacle Entertainment, Racinos, Sheldon Adelson, South Korea, Steve Wynn, Tilman Fertitta, Tropicana Entertainment, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Atlantic City: Some win, most lose

Just when things were looking up, August casino revenues in Atlantic City fell 7%. Some consolation was to be derived from a 32% increase tropicana_havanain Internet revenue, up to $16 million. Slot revenue of $167 million was down 5% on 4% less coin-in. Table-game revenue, just over $60 million, fell 10% as players wagered 10% less. Players bet 13% less at Borgata‘s tables but took the house to the cleaners, as it won 29% less, leading to an overall 8% dropoff in gambling revenue. Not an auspicious debut for the MGM Resorts International era at the Borgata . (Slots did bring in 1% more than last year, on flat slot handle.) Despite some tightening of the Internet-gambling market, Borgata is still the lead dog, although Resorts Digital has finally gotten out of last place, slipping past Tropicana Atlantic City (pictured) by a fraction of a percentage point.

No surprise, the strike-afflicted Trump Taj Mahal was at the bottom rung of the ladder, grossing less than $14 million — Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Carl Icahn, Harrah's, Internet gambling, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, PokerStars, Tilman Fertitta, Tropicana Entertainment | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“MGM is a good competitor. Let the games begin.” — Cordish Cos. Chairman David Cordish telling MGM Resorts International to bring it on as he breaks ground on a $200 million hotel at Maryland Live.

Posted in Cordish Co., Maryland, MGM Mirage | Leave a comment

Parisian debuts, Adelson still thinking big

Sheldon Adelson™ has refrained from pre-hyping his Parisian Macao, preferring to let the product speak for itself. It opened last night to the customary fireworks display, as well as a dazzling light show on the megaresort’s half-size Eiffel Tower. Additional va-va-voom has been injected by the engagement of pulchritudinous Bond girl Sophie Marceau as the resort’s poster girl. However, if you thought Adelson had gone all in on Macao, he revealed that his original plan for the Cotai Strip™ entailed 20 casinos — an ambition the Chinese government would not countenance. I mean there’s gambling and then there’s gambling. (Also, Adelson would probably have been in a world of hurt when the bottom fell out of the Macanese market.)

“When the government sent me out to Cotai, I frankly thought they were exiling me because the big activity, the resorts and the gaming, was on the peninsula. So I went back to the government after I went out to Cotai and I said, Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Cirque du Soleil, Entertainment, International, Macau, MGM Mirage, Movies, Sheldon Adelson, Singapore, Stanley Ho, Steve Wynn | Leave a comment

Parisian opens amid uncertainty; Jones attacks old-boy network

While Sheldon Adelson‘s Las Vegas Review-Journal covered the opening of Wynn Palace from a safe distance, it has sent Richard Velotta to Macao to be on hand for today’s parisian-macao parisianopening of Parisian Macao. What he discovered, among other things, was an inescapable plethora of advertising heralding the debut of the newest Macanese megaresort. The Chinese enclave accounts for 53% of Las Vegas Sands‘ revenue. (Wynn Resorts is even more exposed, relying on Macao for 60% of its income, while MGM Resorts International has the lowest risk profile — 33%.) So will Parisian move the needle? “The reality is that nobody knows if Wynn Palace will grow the market, or even what it will take to drive real growth in Macau at this point, especially at the high end of the market,” wrote Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen, “We have fairly high expectations for Parisian to be the most likely property to grow the market. Sands China does a better job than the peers in delivering what mass-market consumers wants, and Parisian should hit a sweet spot given the Chinese affinity for Europe in general, and Paris specifically.” Velotta writes that Melco Crown Entertainment‘s Studio City “dazzled guests” with its amenities but neglects to mention that, from a financial standpoint, it laid an egg. However, expectations for Parisian have boosted Sands stock, up 30% this week.

As we have seen from yesterday’s report on South Korea, Adelson is not Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Boyd Gaming, California, Galaxy Entertainment, Harrah's, IGT, International, Japan, Macau, Melco Crown Entertainment, MGM Mirage, Nevada, Pinnacle Entertainment, Scientific Games, Sheldon Adelson, South Korea, Station Casinos, Steve Wynn, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Shady dealing in Massachusetts; Caesars mediation breaks down

Shadowy casino speculator Eugene McCain is trying to make his coveted Revere slot a fait accompli by having a special election held prior to November in which local voters would massachusetts-quarterexpress their ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ before statewide voters weigh in during the November election. Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo is neither enamored of McCain, whom he dismisses as a “fly by night” casino developer nor of the cost to the city of holding a special plebiscite: $50,000. Stonehill College political science professor Peter Ubertaccio says McCain’s strategy is a canny one — if Revere voters approve the slots parlor McCain covets, outstate voters may think twice about overriding the local mandate. “The point they will make is that, if Revere wants a slots parlor, why should voters outside the city deny them. Voters can say, ‘Hey, it’s not in my town,’” Ubertaccio told the Boston Globe. A judge has ordered Arrigo to hold the vote before Oct. 26 but Hizzoner continues to resist.

As for the loophole this could create in the Bay State’s three-casinos-and-one-slots-parlor statutory regime, Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby said,  Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Election, Harrah's, International, Marketing, Massachusetts, Mohegan Sun, Philippines, Regulation, Technology, Tilman Fertitta, Tropicana Entertainment, Unite-Here | 2 Comments

Caesars dips toe in skill-based slots; MGM National Harbor snares Dylan

Caesars Entertainment is going on the road, as it were, to test-drive its first foray into skill-based slots. It’s going to install six Gamblit Gaming slot carousels at Harrah’s Rincon, CAESARS-ENTERTAINMENT-LOGOwith 36 slated for Las Vegas deployment next year. The games include Smoothie Blast (where  you try to assemble a virtual smoothie) and Grab Poker, in which players assemble the best hand they can by “grabbing” cards off the touch screen. The move by Caesars is the leading edge of a trend to attempt to reverse a worrisome decline in slot play: from $355 billion in 2007 (Las Vegas’ apogee) to $291 billion in 2014. The Gamblit machines are designed to appeal to Millennials’ love of interactive gambling and get past their boredom with the repetitious nature of conventional slot play. (Believe me, I understand.)

Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G Burnett told Bloomberg News “he expects some manufacturers to make their games progressively Continue reading

Posted in California, Colorado, Cordish Co., Downtown, Environment, Golden Gaming, Harrah's, Hooters, IGT, Internet gambling, Kansas, Maine, Marketing, Maryland, MGM Mirage, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Penn National, Pennsylvania, Racinos, Scientific Games, Sheldon Adelson, South Dakota, Sports, Technology, The Strip, Tribal, TV, West Virginia, Westgate LV, Wisconsin | 2 Comments

Glenn Straub flakes out; Adelson woos South Korea

Glenn Straub‘s reputation for mercurial behavior was reinforced last week when he blew his stack before the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. What was the flashpoint? The CRDA wanted Straub to come up with a new landscaping plan for Revel, revel_0409in light of the rope course he’s erecting in the property’s former porte cochere. According to one newspaper report, the CRDA’s rationale was that “the addition of a ropes course on the former Revel property changes the way traffic flows through the site.” No landscaping plan, no certificate of occupancy. This was more than Straub could bear. “[I] come in here with $150 million to spend in your city and this is what you come up with? Just keep it up. This building will be shut down forever,” he exploded. “We got $200,000 in this simple application and you’re now adding up landscaping, 100,000 plants on that property? We’re not going to keep changing things. We’ll leave it go the way it is.”

CRDA member Paul Weiss tried to calm Straub down, saying, “Plant as many plants as you wish. Plant them in what ever variety you wish. We want a plan that demonstrates compliance with the law. That’s all.” Replied Straub, “The application is withdrawn.” He then Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Glenn Straub, Harrah's, Japan, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Regulation, Revel, Sheldon Adelson, Singapore, South Korea, Steve Wynn | 1 Comment

Galaxy cautious on Macao; No smoking in Mesquite?

One swallow doesn’t make a spring and, if you’re Galaxy Entertainment CEO Lui Che-Woo, one month of 1% growth in gambling revenue doesn’t constitute a recovery in MacaoGalaxy Macau“Give me two more years to see if there’s a recovery here.” Now there’s a man who takes the long view. In the meantime, he’s expanding Galaxy’s reliance on mass-market play and attractions. Considering that the mass market has gone from providing 25% of Macao’s revenue five years ago to half now, Lui is definitely on the right track, especially since Galaxy is now the lead dog in Macao, having bested Sands China. “While Macao’s gambling industry has hit the bottom, it’s still too early to call it a recovery,” he cautioned Bloomberg News. That puts Lui on the opposite side of the field from Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson and MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren, who are already taking victory laps based on August’s tiny increase in gaming revenues. Lui’s goal is grow by 20% the amount of revenue it collects from day trippers and other “recreational gamblers.” To that end, a theme park and an event center are planned.

“There have been strong signs that the market has stabilized, especially the Continue reading

Posted in Arizona, Atlantic City, California, Donald Trump, Economy, Environment, Galaxy Entertainment, Illinois, Louisiana, Macau, Marketing, Mesquite, MGM Mirage, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, The Mob, Tribal | Leave a comment