Caesars liberated from bankruptcy; Wynn pitches tantrum

It’s not the end, nor the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning for the Caesars Entertainment bankruptcy, to paraphrase Winston Churchill.  So protracted has the bankruptcy been that its quiet resolution comes as an anticlimax.”I’ve never seen so much paper in my life,” said Judge Benjamin Goldgar of the millions of pages of documentation generated by the Chapter 11 filing. Judge Goldgar having given his assent for Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. to reform as a REIT, the process now moves on for consideration in Nevada, New Jersey, Mississippi, Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana and anywhere else Caesars operates. One hopes Goldgar had a big courtroom: the attorneys in attendance alone numbered nearly 200, to say nothing of other interested parties.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee having dropped its objection to the Caesars exit strategy, the path is clear to wipe $10.5 billion in bad debt off Caesars’ books. Caesars’ creditors will become the landlords of its casinos, recouping their debt through rent payments from Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Donald Trump, Georgia, Harrah's, International, Japan, Macau, Maryland, MGM Mirage, Politics, South Korea, Steve Wynn, Wall Street | Leave a comment

MGM’s big rake in Washington; Resort projects power Massachusetts

It should come as no surprise that Washington, D.C., the land of smoke-filled rooms where sleazy deals are made, should be deliver a bumper crop of players to MGM National Harbor‘s 39-table poker room. Even with a truncated month of operation, MGM was responsible for $1.4 million of Maryland‘s $3.9 million poorer haul. “We are either at capacity or near capacity most days, and we are regularly getting 100-150 name waiting lists for some games. It’s been incredibly high volume,” Manager Johnny Grooms told CardPlayer.com. He likens the room to the one at Aria, with a touch of Bellagio in the mix. The early results vindicate Groom’s early hypothesis “that there was an under-served population in Southern D.C. and Northern Virginia, and in the more expansive area down to North Carolina.” So far, the narrative that National Harbor will expand the market, not cannibalize it, seems to be largely holding true.

MGM’s also using its position near the nation’s capital to set up a lobbying shop on C Street for gaming interests (specifically MGM’s, although Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Donald Trump, Geoff Freeman, GLPI, International, Internet gambling, Macau, Maryland, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Penn National, Pennsylvania, Philippines, Politics, Regulation, Rhode Island, Singapore, Sports, Steve Wynn, Taxes, Tourism, Vietnam, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Trump: The Fix is In; Battle of Gettysburg III

Gaming executives who are buddies with Donald Trump just got a rude surprise when attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) said he was “shocked” by the 2011 Jeff_Sessionstreinterpretation of the Wire Act, whereby Internet gaming became legal. This sets the stage for a re-reinterpretation to attempt to revert to the good old days of 2010 when Internet gambling was unsafe, frequent and illegal. “He says he opposed the original memo, and then he said he needed to study the issue thoroughly before making a decision. But that he already opposed something—he didn’t study it—makes me feel like his mind is already made up,” Michelle Minton of the Competitive Enterprise Institute told Yogonet.

While Sessions may have been speaking only for himself, his remarks would tend to confirm suspicions that President-elect Trump (now there’s a surreal phrase) cut a deal Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Donald Trump, Economy, Harrah's, history, Horseracing, Internet gambling, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Problem gambling, Sheldon Adelson, Taxes | Leave a comment

Warm December in Atlantic City; Las Vegas stages comeback

Online gambling continues to be a hit with New Jersey players, up 31% to $18 million in December. Resorts Digital‘s market share has eked past Tropicana Entertainment‘s but Golden Nugget ACGolden Nugget is far and away the leader, with 26%. Enjoy it while you can, because would-be Attorney General Jeff Sessions intends to outlaw Internet wagering. A coalition of conservative groups oppose Sessions, including the American Conservative Union, the Americans for Tax Reform, the Campaign for Liberty, the Center for Individual Freedom, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance among others, but that’s how the cookie crumbles.

Last month also saw an unseasonably strong performance by terrestrial Atlantic City casinos. Drag the carcass of Trump Taj Mahal out of the revenue comparisons and you have a 7% increase. Table game revenue was up an especially strong Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Atlantic City, Dan Gilbert, Detroit, Economy, Glenn Straub, Harrah's, Internet gambling, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Pinnacle Entertainment, Politics, Revel, The Strip, Tourism, Tropicana Entertainment, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Trump vs. Las Vegas; E-sports is big busine$$

Donald Trump is the most uninformed president the U.S. has ever had.  This is not an opinion.  It is based on the realities of how human beings communicate:  He does not read.  trump_gold_ap_328‘[Trump] said in a series of interviews that he does not need to read extensively because he reaches the right decisions ‘with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had, plus the words ‘common sense,’ because I have a lot of common sense and I have a lot of business ability.'” So writes gaming-law expert I. Nelson Rose in a stemwinder on how Trump’s policies toward China — and his propensity for diplomacy via Twitter — could ricochet and wreak havoc on Las Vegas. Rose explains the tortuous history of relations between the U,S. and Communist China, the importance of nuance in diplomacy, the primacy of saving face in Chinese culture — and how Trump’s bull-in-a-China shop tendencies could backfire. (In case you think Rose is an ivory-tower academic, he teaches annually at the University of Macao, putting him in closer contact with the Chinese people than Trump.

Among the many actions that Trump’s anti-China fixation has inspired was the statement of a rear admiral who said, “If Trump and the American government dare to take actions to challenge Continue reading

Posted in Affinity Gaming, Atlantic City, Donald Trump, Downtown, Economy, Entertainment, Harrah's, International, Internet gambling, Macau, Marketing, MGM Mirage, Mississippi, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, Sports, Steve Wynn, The Strip, Tourism, Tropicana Entertainment, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

Leong“We have not considered that yet. Because we need to do well on our Grand Lisboa Palace project now, as the project is in full swing.” — Sociedade de Jogos de Macau Executive Director Angela Leong, dismissing rumors of a Japan foray by the company, whose Macanese resort is dragging behind schedule, its opening postponed into 2018.

Posted in Japan, Macau, Sociedade de Jogos de Macau | Leave a comment

Jesus scapegoated for December results; Changing of the guard in New Jersey

Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli put in some quality time in Las Vegas recently and came away satisfied with the market, particularly MGM Resorts International, Station Casinos, Boyd Gaming and Penn National Gaming, although he had no new intel on Penn’s intentions for the Tropicana Las Vegas. Mandarin 3Convention business remains a pillar of strength: “we believe the overall book of group business remains quite strong and the rate of group pricing growth has accelerated.” High-roller player remains somewhat of a will o’ the wisp, although it’s been better on the domestic front … due in part to tighter holds and “player unfriendly rule changes.” Regionally, Santarelli is blaming Jesus Christ (or the NFL) for the surprisingly weak December, Christmas and New Year’s Day having fallen on Sundays — but don’t we have Christmas and New Year’s every year? Just checking.

The conversion of Monte Carlo into Park MGM continues on pace for an early 2018 (MGM gave itself some late-2017 wiggle room but these things are Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, California, Economy, Foxwoods, Georgia, Horseracing, Internet gambling, Lucky Dragon, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Penn National, Politics, Station Casinos, Tribal, Wall Street | Leave a comment

A slight chill in the air

Even allowing for additional weekend in 2016, gaming results last month were a tad frosty,  shall we say? The best market was Missouri, which was merely flat. That was Lumiere-252largely due to strength in the St. Louis area, where Pinnacle Entertainment‘s River City was up 4%, to $19 million. Ameristar St. Charles was less fortunate, grossing $22 million but down 5.5%. The latter lost market share to Penn National Gaming/GLPI‘s Hollywood St. Louis, up 6% to $19 million. Tropicana Entertainment had a good month at Lumiere Place (right), up 5% to $12 million. The brightest light in Kansas City was Ameristar Kansas City, down 1% to $16.5 million. Runner-up Harrah’s North Kansas City was down 9%, to $14.5 million. Penn/GLPI’s Argosy Riverside grossed $12.5 million, a 3% slippage. Isle of Capri Kansas City balanced a $6 million gross with a 6% falloff.

Modulations in most of the outlying markets were relatively insignificant, save for Continue reading

Posted in Affinity Gaming, Ameristar, Boyd Gaming, Economy, Eldorado Resorts, Full House Resorts, GLPI, Harrah's, Indiana, Isle of Capri, Majestic Star, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Penn National, Pinnacle Entertainment, Racinos, Tourism, Tropicana Entertainment | Leave a comment

Cheerless Christmas in Illinois; Whitewash at Caesars?

Despite two extra weekend days, gaming revenues in Illinois were down 5% last month. For all we know, gamblers may have been saving up for Christmas but we think this points Aurorato the increasing prevalence of slot routes (many owned by Penn National Gaming,) Foot traffic was way off (11%), although gamblers spent only 7% less … guess they weren’t saving that much up for Christmas, Boyd Gaming‘s Par-A-Dice took it upside the head, off 9%. ($6 million). Speaking of Penn, its three properties were flat in the aggregate, a 4% drop at Empress Joliet ($9 million) balanced by steady numbers at Hollywood Aurora ($10 million) and a 3% bump at Argosy Belle ($3.5 million).

MGM Resorts International‘s Grand Victoria grossed $13 million but that was a 15% plunge from last year. Jumer’s Casino Rock Island fared worse still, down 18% on a $5 million gross. A weak month at Harrah’s Metropolis (-10%, $7 million) was ameliorated by Harrah’s Joliet’s $15 million (-3%) performance. Casino Queen ($9 million, -2%) was a tad under the weather while Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, Carl Icahn, Churchill Downs, GLPI, Harrah's, Horseracing, Illinois, MGM Mirage, Neil Bluhm, Penn National, Racinos, Slot routes, Sports, The Strip, Unite-Here | Leave a comment

National Harbor boffo for MGM; Icahn keeps them guessing

In its first month, MGM National Harbor has been both good and bad for Maryland. Although the MGM Resorts International property, acclaimed by some as being Las Vegas Strip-caliber, did blockbuster numbers, the rest of the Maryland casino industry MGM National Harborwas down 4%. Had National Harbor been open a full month, the cannibalization would have been worse still. The new casino on the block grossed nearly $42 million, or $1.75 million a day. Maryland Live took it in the shorts, its market share diminished from 55% to 36% virtually overnight. (Of course, having 36% market share is still pretty good.) How big is MGM? Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli projected 2017 results of $561 million but has revised that number upward to $637 million.

Despite being down 11%, Maryland Live grossed $48 million, propelled by a well-above-average $256/win/day at the slots. Horseshoe Baltimore actually gained ground — Continue reading

Posted in Carl Icahn, Cordish Co., Glenn Straub, Golden Gaming, Harrah's, Internet gambling, Maryland, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Penn National, Pennsylvania, Politics, Revel, Slot routes, Taxes, The Strip, Tropicana Entertainment, Unite-Here, Wall Street | 2 Comments

Quote of the Day

“I fear we’re seeing the evolution of a business in which the shots are being called by Vegas bethlehembean-counters instead of strong, committed local leadership that recognizes the advantages of a cooperative relationship with neighbors who share in its prosperity.” — Morning Call columnist Bill White on Sands Bethlehem‘s refusal to continue host-community payments. “As perhaps the most successful casino in the state of Pennsylvania, it is disheartening to see that the Sands does not believe it has to be a good corporate citizen,” Northampton County Sheriff Robert Morganelli wrote to casino president Mark Juliano.

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

Icahn amputates nose, spites face; Casinos for Carolina?

In a “So there!” move, Carl Icahn has petitioned, as part of a sale process, to have a five-year deed restriction placed on the Trump Taj Mahal, preventing anyone from reopening it as a casino until 2022. He’s carl_icahnalso surrendering the casino license, proving that he’s serious about getting out of Atlantic City. Who’d buy the Taj as a non-gaming property is quite another question. However, with an anti-Icahn bill to prevent casino owners who shut down from reopening for another five years — directed at Icahn’s attempt to reboot the Taj as a scab casino — sailing through the New Jersey Legislature, Icahn clearly decided to beat lawmakers to the punch. Due to the proposed law’s dubious constitutionality, we’re surprised Icahn didn’t stay and fight, but unpredictability is his trademark and his inventory of white-elephant casino properties is starting to mount up.

* With land values plummeting and investors literally dying off, things look bleaker than ever for revival of the Moulin Rouge site. So hard is Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Carl Icahn, Moulin Rouge, North Las Vegas, Politics, SLS Las Vegas, South Carolina, Sports, Station Casinos | Leave a comment

2017: Boom or bust?

Vital Vegas, whose predictive skills are superior to ours, recently came out with a blockbuster, forecasting that Las Vegas Sands or MGM Resorts International or Wynn Resorts (or maybe some combination of the above) might be headed into Sheldonbankruptcy. “Tectonic changes in China” were tagged as the inciting incident (Sheldon Adelson recently lost $3 billion of his net worth in 30 minutes, when the markets had a coronary over China’s restructuring of UnionPay usage in Macao). In addition to heavy Macanese exposure, $39 billion in long-term debt was cited. Much of that is carried by Caesars Entertainment but MGM is highly levered, and both it and Sands are talking about spending $10 billion in Japan alone — all highly theoretical at this point.

(In other prognostications, Vital Vegas wrote that “skill-based games will prove to be Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Detroit, Economy, Harrah's, Japan, Macau, MGM Mirage, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, Steve Wynn, Wall Street | 1 Comment

Macao: Cautious recovery predicted; Straub sets Revel reopening

“Does the fact that Macao has an Eiffel Tower now bring extra people to the market,” asked Union Gaming Group analyst Grant Govertsen rhetorically. “Yes, but their main activity here will still be gaming.” “They” includes players from as far away as the the-parisianU.S., cushioning the blow felt from the drop-off in VIP play. At present, analysts expect Macao to close out 2016 down 3.5% in gambling revenue but to be up 7% this year, according to a survey conducted by Bloomberg News. Overnight stays are up 10% (and day-tripping is down a comparable amount) with the average length of stay just over two days. “There are definitely more reasons to come to Macao now versus two years ago and that is the key reason why overnight visitation is growing faster than total visitation,” reported Richard Huang of Nomura Holdings, who foresees continued growth in the mass-market sector. Even a bad year in Macao is a lucrative one: 2016 is expected to yield $28 billion, which only the most wildly optimistic projections for Japan can rival.

Native-son casino owners are taking a long view of the recovery. Melco Crown Entertainment Chairman Lawrence Ho calls the present “a natural recovery.” His counterpart at Galaxy Entertainment, Lui Che-Woo is waiting for Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, CityCenter, Dining, Economy, G2E, Glenn Straub, Internet gambling, Japan, Lawrence Ho, Macau, Revel, Sheldon Adelson, The Strip, Tourism, Transportation, Wall Street | 1 Comment

Freeman gets Christmas wish; Florida lawmakers: Let’s make a deal

American Gaming Association President Geoff Freeman could hardly have asked for a better present, all wrapped in a big, dollar-bill bow: The IRS has abandoned a set of proposed As Deadline On Debt Reduction Impasse Looms, Super Committee Meets Over Weekendcasino-reporting “reforms” that would have been intrusive, onerous and costly. (Of course, it could be argued that the IRS’ purpose in life is to be “intrusive, onerous and costly.”) First and foremost, the idea of halving the jackpot-reporting threshold to $600 goes away, taking away untold amounts of paperwork — and idled slot machines — with it. Also abandoned is the notion of tracking players’ winnings through loyalty cards, which the AGA said “are not equipped to serve this purpose and customers are uncomfortable with the proposed approach.” (I’ll bet!)

The lobbying effort against the potential IRS rules also marked a passing of the torch. Although Sen. Harry Reid (D) put his thoughts to paper, Continue reading

Posted in Cosmopolitan, Current, Florida, Geoff Freeman, Harry Reid, MGM Mirage, Politics, Racinos, Seminole Tribe, Taxes, The Strip | 3 Comments

MGM’s base motives; Slots: You snooze, you lose

MGM Resorts International really kicked over a hornet’s nest when it extended pay-for-parking to locals. Spokesman Gordon Absher (“The sacrificial lamb or the goat staked to the post in Jurassic Park,” in the words of Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Steve Sebelius) has faced the stings and pinpricks of a zillion social-media gadflies. mgm-picAbsher didn’t exactly help his own cause by telling the Los Angeles Times, in essence, that the new policy was undertaken to get even with employees and others who were using McCarran International Airport parking lots in preference to MGM’s own costly facilities. “You wouldn’t believe the number of cars that had been parked there for weeks. People were storing vehicles there, taking taxis to the airport or parking and then walking to the Strip,” he fumed.

So MGM has cut off its nose to spite its face. For locals, paying as much as $16 to park at an MGM property (or at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, which has joined the stampede) suddenly makes an impulse visit or even Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Cosmopolitan, MGM Mirage, Pennsylvania, Sheldon Adelson, Taxes, The Strip, Transportation | 1 Comment

A legend passes; Packer flops in Vegas (again)

Before we get back to business, a few brief mentions. First, let us have a moment of silence for Strip icon and former Las Vegas casino owner Debbie Reynolds, victim of a fatal stroke.  Coming as it did a day after the passing of daughter Carrie Fisher, it can be legitimately said that Reynolds died of grief.

I should also like to thank all of those who wrote in to wish me well during my recent illness. Your support means more to me than I can adequately say.

November was moderately negative for the Las Vegas Strip, down 3.5%. Strip casinos grossed $517 million and suffered from a 23% plunge in baccarat win, on 23% less money Strip panoramawagered. Strip casinos were somewhat luckier at other table games, down 4% on 9.5% less betting. (Tighter holds were credited.)  But a 2% increase in slot revenue was of no avail, with win down 3%. JP Morgan analyst Joseph Greff, however, hailed the sixth straight month of increased slot handle as “an encouraging sign.”

Compared to a booming November 2015 (+15%), locals numbers could not help but look anemic, up 1% overall. Slot revenue, up 5%, drove the increase, although Continue reading

Posted in Boulder Strip, Downtown, Economy, Entertainment, Harrah's, history, James Packer, Lake Tahoe, Laughlin, Melco Crown Entertainment, North Las Vegas, Reno, The Strip, Uncategorized, Wall Street | 2 Comments

Freeman: All I want for Christmas …

Mid-December is a time when children compose their Christmas letters to Santa Claus. In much the same spirit, American Gaming FreemanAssociation President Geoff Freeman was framing a missive to Donald Trump. After pointing out that the industry was on a path to add 62,000 jobs, lifting many Americans out of poverty, Freeman made a hardly coincidental series of references to gaming’s diversity (40% minority employment), including the fact that its 20% Hispanic workforce was fully one third greater than that of the American workplace as a whole. Leading a pitch to the lily-white Trump administration with a proud declaration of workforce diversity was a brave move on Freeman’s part and he should be commended for it.

He then went to lobby for the expansion of legal gambling, cannily framing this issue as a crackdown on illegal gambling. You know where this is leading: sports betting, unlawful online wagering, black-market slot machines and (thank you, Geoff)
Continue reading

Posted in Animals, Arizona, Donald Trump, Economy, Election, Geoff Freeman, Internet gambling, Nevada, Regulation, Taxes, Tourism, Tribal | 2 Comments

Japan goes all in; Adelson, Davis on the outs?

In an uncharacteristic flurry of activity, the normally tortoise-powered Shinzo Abe got casino enabling legislation through both houses of the Diet_of_Japan-e1401350602863Japanese Diet prior to adjournment. “To us the opportunity is thoroughly Japanese and thoroughly delicious,” said a lip-smacking Steve Wynn. Due to several complicating factors, including the need to write gaming regulations, we’re a long way from “Let the games begin!” However, Wall Street analysts are busy counting the money already. “On an overnight basis, we would expect Japan to exceed the [gross gaming revenue] of the Las Vegas Strip,” opined Union Gaming Group‘s Grant Govertsen.

How big of an opportunity? A Morgan Stanley analysis values the Tokyo/Yokohama area at $4 billion a year and Continue reading

Posted in California, Florida, Geoff Freeman, Japan, Politics, Seminole Tribe, Sheldon Adelson, Sports, Steve Wynn, Taxes, The Strip, Tourism, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“It doesn’t have to be brand spanking new or as classy as the Wynn poker room in Las Vegas. But it helps when the tables and chairs are clean and in good shape and when the chips haven’t been in circulation since the Reagan administration.” — Steve Ruddock, on the criteria for a successful poker room.

Posted in Architecture | 1 Comment