Trump’s Amman Castle?; Wynn goes 0-for-2

Gambling is illegal in Jordan but that doesn’t stop Donald Trump. The new president’s company has renewed the trademark for a Jordanian casino. This won’t play well with religious hawks in the Hashemite kingdom, who went into full cry when a previous regime tried to sneak a British-built, tourists-only casino onto the shores of the Dead Sea in 2007. It was enough of a scandal to be dubbed “Casinogate.” A previous attempt to build two tourist casinos in 2003 also went nowhere. Why the Trumps thought this time would be any different — and whether they expect any quid pro quo remains to be seen.

The official White House policy in such matters is that the left hand (President Trump) doesn’t Continue reading

Posted in Donald Trump, Genting, Glenn Straub, International, Internet gambling, Japan, Macau, Revel, Steve Wynn, The Strip | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“There are a finite number of gamblers. The more times you split that pie up, the fewer customers you have.” — Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort CEO Rich Hoffman, uttering apparent heresy to explain why California tribal casinos need to diversify their appeal beyond games.

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Raiders prompt magical thinking; Next stop: Yankton?

Boxing promoter Bob Arum has drunk deeply of the NFL-in-Vegas Kool-Aid, telling the Wall Street Journal, “Say  [the Raiders] play the Giants. It’s going to bring 20,000 people coming from New York to watch the game, clutching fistfuls of money … it’s going to be like eight New Year’s Eves in town.” Yeah, right. And holding the NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas was a good idea. (That’s a mistake unlikely to be repeated.) Las Vegan Brent Musberger seems to have a firmer grasp on reality, saying, “In the long haul, you have to be able to market this team within the community,” something owner Mark Davis has done a poor job of. In Musberger’s view, the NFL’s concerns about gambling are exaggerated and the league benefits from sports betting: “The NFL would not be as big as it is today without people taking a chance on their games.”

Commissioner Roger Goodell continues to wrap himself in the mantle of sanctimony, proclaiming, Continue reading

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Trump’s revenge; Larry Flynt, casino boss

Why is Trump Plaza the whitest elephant among Atlantic City casinos? (Scroll to bottom) Because its operating costs include a $1 million ground lease to former American Jewish Congress head Robert Lifton, who owns the underlying acreage. This little poison pill was put in place by Donald Trump when he owned the Plaza. Incredibly enough, Carl Icahn prevented Trump Entertainment Resorts from selling the Plaza for $20 million, unrealistically thinking it could bring more. Now he can’t give the Plaza away: Hard Rock International didn’t want it, thanks to the ground lease. Icahn is trying to lower his Atlantic City profile before Democrats gain control of the governor’s mansion. However, he can thank his friend Donald — and his own cupidity — for lumbering him with the Plaza, which now seems certain for demolition.

* In an almost meaningless gesture, Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, California, Carl Icahn, Donald Trump, Hard Rock International, Harrah's, history, Isle of Capri, MGM Mirage, Technology, Trump Entertainment Resorts | 1 Comment

Penn gets bigger; Cool February in Nevada

Not many casino companies would double down on the Tunica market, let alone triple down. However, Penn National Gaming has an appetite for risk plus a track record of taking distressed properties and turning them around. So, in addition to running Hollywood Casino Tunica, it will soon be in charge of Resorts Casino Tunica and Bally’s Casino Tunica, in a transaction announced this morning. Despite the latter’s brand name, it is not a Caesars Entertainment property. “Bally’s” is sublicensed by outgoing owner RIH Holdings. Penn and partner Gaming & Leisure Properties Inc. snapped up the pair of gambling houses for a bargain-price $127 million. (The low price tells you something about depressed the Tunica market has become.) Resorts defaulted to its creditors several years ago when Colony Capital over-leveraged the property, under CEO Tom Barrack‘s reckless leadership.

“We view this as a good, albeit little, accretive deal for both companies, and while Tunica is not Continue reading

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It’s official: Las Vegas Raiders; Crime on the Strip

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell having slammed the door on Oakland, we’re going to have to follow Adam Schefter‘s lead and get used to saying “Las Vegas Raiders.” Needless to say, this is a huge coup for Sin City, all the bigger for having transpired so rapidly. Goodell’s tipping his hand on today’s ownership vote begs the question of his anti-sports betting stance, although casinos are already hard by NFL stadiums in Pittsburgh and Baltimore, so you might say that the league and Big Gaming are learning to rub elbows — or at least pretend that the other doesn’t exist, at least until the Super Bowl is held in the league’s newest stadium, at which point the national media will be raising the issue in earnest. (As though to make the point, the American Gaming Association lost no time in stating, “The second announcement of a major sports franchise to locate a team in Las Vegas in just the last 12 months demonstrates how far gaming has come, from a niche industry to a $240 billion economic engine that supports 1.7 million jobs in 40 states.”)

Today’s ownership vote having gone as expected, losers include Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and winners will be led by Continue reading

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Reading Trump’s tea leaves; Paper to MGM: Give us your money — or else!

What does the nascent Trump administration bode of tribal gaming? That question is vigorously bandied about in the new issue of Global Gaming Business. Although fairly circumspect in his opinions, National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernest Stevens Jr. sees cause for optimism in the nomination of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R, right) for secretary of the Interior Department. In Zinke’s lone congressional term, he “established a proven record of working closely with tribes in the state of Montana on critical issues relating to law enforcement, water rights and water infrastructure, Indian housing, and tribal labor sovereignty.”

Stevens also hails the nomination of Judge Neal Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, citing Gorsuch’s “significant experience in federal Indian law.” Addressing the White House as much as GGB readers, Stevens reminds everyone that Continue reading

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Quote of the Day

“I don’t like to say that we’re a ‘gaming tribe. We’re a farming tribe that happens to have a casino … Gaming may not be here forever. So we have to be able to look back and say that we spent the money wisely.” — Ak-Chin Indian Community councilwoman Delia M. Carlyle on the economy of the tribe, which is buoyed by Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino. Carlyle is one of several tribal-gaming leaders profiled in the all-tribal, new issue of Global Gaming Business.

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Quote of the Day

“Perhaps if the utility called the exit fee a resort fee the casinos would be more comfortable with an exorbitant fee imposed on them for profit.” — anonymous LVA reader on Las Vegas Sands‘ and MGM Resorts International‘s recalcitrance at paying eight-figure sums to leave the NV Energy grid. The comment was made in response to today’s “Question of the Day.” As part of our revamped Web site, you can comment on QoD and have your remark posted immediately for all to see.

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Trump’s Vegas Castle?; Florida Lege speaks with forked tongue

Just a few months ago, the idea of a Donald Trump-branded casino on the Las Vegas Strip would have seemed like a joke. Trump’s brand equity in gaming had dwindled to zilch and the man himself was out of gaming entirely. However, funny things happen over time and the Trump name could adorn a brand-new Sin City gambling hall. Since Trump’s business interests are in a blind trust (more like a seeing-eye trust, since his kids are running it) the moving force is partner Phil Ruffin, one of the relatively few people to go into bidness with Trump and not regret it.

Ruffin would build the casino on four acres adjacent to Trump International (land originally purposed for the [unbuilt] second tower of the hotel). However, with Alon circling the drain, we think Continue reading

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Slim hope for North Dakota casinos; Russians hack U.S. slot machines

North Dakota lawmakers are still averse to the idea of state-owned casinos (which caused a fair number of birthing pains for Kansas) but they split the baby on casino expansion this week. While the House Judiciary Committee still stamped “do not pass” on a proposed constitutional amendment to put the idea of state-owned casinos before the voters, it approved a change to the bill whereby six privately owned casinos could be enabled by the electorate. The only caveat is that none of the six could be built within 40 miles of an Indian reservation — an obvious sop to tribal gaming interests in the state. (Tribes and charitable gaming organizations are opposed, understandably.)

The proposed amendment has a lot of hurdles ahead of it. Not least, it missed the deadline for Continue reading

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Palace, soon with 100% less Station; Casinos nixed in North Dakota

Palace Station was the Fertitta Brothers‘ first go at a big locals casino and it is, let’s face it, a little crude in its theming, at least by the standards we have come to expect. That’s OK: The Fertittas got better with each subsequent outing. But now Station Casinos is Red Rock Resorts and, symptomatic of that change, the choo-choo theme is coming off Palace Station. Reports the Las Vegas Sun, “the six faux locomotive noses and the train cars on the front of the building facing Sahara Avenue will be removed and may be donated to the Neon Museum.” (Thank God — but will the museum want them?) In their place, Station spokeswoman Lori Nelson promises “mid-century modern design … very clean lines and a very contemporary look.” In other words, something in the tradition of Red Rock Resort itself.

That’s no disparagement. Were it on the Las Vegas Strip, Red Rock could give The Cromwell a run for its money as the best boutique hotel. (On a side note, Caesars Entertainment is polling customers about a new name for The Cromwell. Maybe naming a casino after Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Dining, Dubai, Harrah's, history, International, MGM Mirage, North Dakota, Politics, Station Casinos, The Strip | 1 Comment

Gaming up nationally — but Louisiana gets hammered

America‘s casino industry had a winning month in January, up 3.5% to $3.4 billion. Even Illinois, which has never recovered from the smoking ban, was in the top four, behind Nevada (naturally), Pennsylvania and Louisiana. The only serious loser was West Virginia, ground between the millstones of Maryland and Ohio, down 15%. Speaking of Louisiana, it did not fare so well in February, down almost 7%. The fact that 2016 had one extra day doesn’t quite cut it as an explanation for some pretty mystifying declines.

With the exception of Golden Nugget (up 7% to $12 million), the normally lucrative Lake Charles market got body-slammed. Pinnacle Entertainment‘s L’Auberge du Lac ($23 million) tumbled 14% while Isle of Capri‘s casino plunged Continue reading

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Quote of the Day

“The greater impact would be the effect of completely changing the character of our south Mississippi community, as it would effectively open the floodgates to an indiscriminate proliferation of gaming sites to areas never contemplated or desired.” — Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes on the rejection — again — of two casino sites, on the grounds that they were too far inland.

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Freeman attacks Yucca Mountain; Brawl in Connecticut

Back when Frank Fahrenkopf was its president, the American Gaming Association was little seen or heard, as Fahrenkopf played a flawless defensive game behind the scenes. Washington, D.C., never laid a glove on Big Gaming (although eugenicist and sometime Congressman Steve King [R] made an effort). Current prexy Geoff Freeman, by contrast, plays on offense and on multiple fronts. An attempt to push the Internet-gaming agenda died ignominiously, the jury is still out on sports betting and Freeman is just beginning to be heard on health insurance for pathological gamblers (the AGA’s for it). However, when it comes to getting his talking points into the mainstream media, Freeman is a virtuoso, sometimes to the point — particularly on sports betting — where he’s driving the discussion.

If Freeman is obliquely at odds with Rep. Paul Ryan (R) on health insurance, he’s downright “in your face” with Continue reading

Posted in Donald Trump, Entertainment, Foxwoods, Geoff Freeman, Harry Reid, history, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, New York, Politics, Problem gambling, South Korea, The Strip, Tourism, Transportation, Tribal, Westgate LV | Tagged | Leave a comment

Legal trouble for Mohegan, Foxwoods; The gospel according to Slammy

It looks as though the constitutionality of a no-bid, off-reservation casino for Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino may be an issue after all. Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen issued an opinion that the legal risks with the unusual deal “are not insubstantial and cannot be mitigated with confidence.” Let’s face it, Connecticut lawmakers were so panicked by MGM Springfield — and by losing the 25% of slot revenue they get from Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods — that they juiced the tribes into an arrangement of dubious constitutionality. Protecting the slot-revenue arrangement was of a higher priority than conducting an open process. The attorney general’s cautionary letter comes as the allied tribes had finally settled on a site, after much indecision, a defunct cineplex in East Windsor.

Now that the constitutional underpinnings of the deal are being knocked away (it was Gov. Dannel Malloy [D] who Continue reading

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Pennsylvania: Land of confusion

When it comes to making gaming policy in Pennsylvania, handwringing Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is no help at all. He wants another $100 million in gaming revenue — but only if it doesn’t come at a cost to existing casinos and the state lottery. None of the state’s 12 casinos wants to see slot routes legalized. Complicating matters still further, a rump faction of legislators wants to narrow the state’s options by explicitly outlawing Internet gambling. Repeat offenders would be charged with third-degree misdemeanors. A previous effort proved widely unpopular and sputtered out in the Lege. “Considering where Pennsylvania is on this issue, and the abandonment of the previous prohibition/criminalization attempt, the bill is likely to be little more than a minor distraction… if that,” concludes Steve Ruddock.

The GOP pushback against Internet gaming is fueled by scare talk that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going to Continue reading

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Atlantic City suffers February hiccup; Caesars K.O.’d in Korea

All good things must end and, in the case of Atlantic City, a pretty steady comeback hit a pothole in December, with business down 2%. Even Borgata ($58 million) was down a percentage point. Citywide, slot revenue was actually up to $132 million (+1.5%) but casinos took it on the chin from table games. Grossing $52 million, they were down 9%. Borgata was schizoid, down 5.5% in slot revenue despite 3% more coin-in. At the tables, revenue and wagering were both down 12%. The bright spot for the city was sensational Internet-gaming growth, up 27% to $19 million.

Carl Icahn‘s Tropicana Atlantic City vastly outperformed the market, up 28% to $28 million. Harrah’s Resort led the Caesars Entertainment trio in dollars grossed ($29.5 million), although Continue reading

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Quote of the Day

“The Florida Senate is setting up a buffet of glutinous proportions. Proposed legislation calls for the biggest expansion of gambling in Florida’s history. It literally would recreate our state in Nevada’s image, with casinos popping up in communities from the far reaches of the Panhandle to the end of the Everglades.” — No Casinos President John Sowinski on state Sen. Bill Galvano‘s push for a wide expansion of gambling in the Sunshine State, including giving the Seminole Tribe roulette and craps.

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Adelson ban bombs with conservatives

If Sheldon Adelson was hoping to be hailed at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, he got a rude surprise. Attendees blew a raspberry to his pet cause, Protect America’s Wire Act. One dissident, Institute for Liberty President Andrew Langer was right on the money, as it were, when he said, “Conservatives see RAWA for what it is—one of the worst forms of crony capitalism in Congress today. RAWA is nothing short of an effort by one of the richest men in the world to ban a form of competition for his brick and mortar casino empire – and everyone knows it. Worse yet, he is even willing to trample on the Constitution to do it.” It would also have the presumption to outlaw online state lotteries, already a facet of life in many U.S. jurisdictions. Sheldon would remake American gaming in his own image.

Attendees at the conclave were polled and 90% Continue reading

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