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

Posted in Atlantic City, International, Law enforcement, Missouri, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, PokerStars, Politics, Problem gambling, Sheldon Adelson, Singapore, Tilman Fertitta, Tribal | Leave a comment

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 | Leave a 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

Posted in Affinity Gaming, Atlantic City, Boyd Gaming, Churchill Downs, Economy, Eldorado Resorts, GLPI, Harrah's, Illinois, Internet gambling, Isle of Capri, Louisiana, Marketing, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Pinnacle Entertainment, Sheldon Adelson, Taxes, Tilman Fertitta, Tropicana Entertainment, West Virginia | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Mississippi, Regulation | Leave a comment

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

Posted in California, Downtown, Economy, Foxwoods, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Penn National, Pennsylvania, Sports, The Strip | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Atlantic City, Detroit, Internet gambling, Kansas, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, PokerStars, Politics, Regulation, Tribal | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Atlantic City, Carl Icahn, Dan Gilbert, Detroit, Glenn Straub, Golden Gaming, Greenwood Racing, Hard Rock International, Harrah's, Internet gambling, Isle of Capri, Macau, Maryland, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Pennsylvania, PokerStars, Revel, Sheldon Adelson, South Korea, Tropicana Entertainment | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Florida, Politics, Seminole Tribe | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Internet gambling, Japan, Law enforcement, Massachusetts, Mohegan Sun, New York, Penn National, Politics, Sheldon Adelson, Singapore, Steve Wynn, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“As a player organization, the Poker Players Alliance takes consumer protections very seriously. I would argue that states like Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have created a far more reasonable and effective approach to consumer protections than those who would simply stick their heads in the sand.” — PPA Executive Director John Pappas testifying in favor of regulated i-gaming in Pennsylvania.

Posted in Atlantic City, Delaware, Internet gambling, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Regulation | Leave a comment

MGM antes up for Sands Bethlehem; Glenn Straub, man of mystery

Last week’s premature announcement by Sands Bethlehem President Mark Juliano that a sale, probably to MGM Resorts International, may have redounded to Las Vegas Sands‘ benefit. The reported sale price has crept up to $1.3 billion. Since a sale would require several weeks of due diligence before being formally announced, Sands and MGM have continue pretending that nothing is going on. However, two sources tell the Allentown Morning Call that the deal is practically done. The news has Wall Street analysts salivating. Some speculate that MGM could step aside and let its REIT handle the transaction. The lion could also scarf up Sands Bethlehem’s player database and feed it into Mlife.

Wrote Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli, “For MGM, the transaction would expand a northeast presence that has grown significantly over the past year, while Continue reading

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MGM National Harbor, Maryland Live duke it out

MGM National Harbor strapped a jet pack on Maryland gaming revenue, up an eye-popping 38% last month. The bad news for other operators is that, once you subtract MGM, gaming revenues are down 11%. However, the fact that the declivity isn’t worse shows that MGM is growing the market, as it was intended to do. Despite generating almost $46 million in revenue, National Harbor was still a few decimal points behind Maryland Live. In terms of slot win per day, the two properties are running neck and neck, but when it comes to table win, MGM has a huge edge, with a probable $4,782/table/day against Live’s $2,921. The latter was 14% down from February 2016, while Horseshoe Baltimore ($22 million) ceded 12%.

GLPI made 5% less at Hollywood Perryville, grossing Continue reading

Posted in Boyd Gaming, Cordish Co., GLPI, Harrah's, Illinois, Maryland, MGM Mirage, Neil Bluhm, Penn National, Pennsylvania, Sheldon Adelson, Sports, The Strip, Wall Street, West Virginia | 1 Comment

AGA backs Obamacare; “Messy” quarter for Station

OK, the headline is an oversimplification (as headlines tend to be) but the American Gaming Association found itself in disagreement with congressional Republicans after their overhaul of the Affordable Care Act was found to leave mental-health and substance-use-disorder services out in the cold, at least as far as disordered gambling is concerned. “The plan released by House Republicans would scale back the government’s role in helping people afford coverage and could leave more Americans uninsured,” stated the AGA. It joined ranks with the National Indian Gaming Association, National Council on Problem Gambling and Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers to send the following message to Capitol Hill: “Today, gambling disorders are recognized under the ACA’s essential health benefits. We believe this recognition, which did not exist prior to the passage of ACA, is critical not only to enable adequate funding for research, but also to ensure necessary resources and treatment facilities are available.” One would be going too far perhaps to say Continue reading

Posted in Dan Gilbert, Economy, Eldorado Resorts, Geoff Freeman, GLPI, Hard Rock International, Lucky Dragon, Marketing, Ohio, Palms, Penn National, Pinnacle Entertainment, Politics, Problem gambling, Reno, Station Casinos, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“The bones of the Taj Mahal are as good as anything in town, and it’s something we felt we could do something spectacular with, from the height of the ceilings to the way the casino floor is laid out.” — Hard Rock International CEO Jim Allen, explaining the appeal of buying Trump Taj Mahal.

Posted in Architecture, Atlantic City, Hard Rock International | Leave a comment

Mystery of the Sands

Since the Las Vegas Review-Journal continues to pretend that the Sands Bethlehem sale isn’t taking place, we’ll fill you in on the latest. At least one Wall Street analyst is certainly taking the rumblings emerging from Bethlehem at face value. Deutsche Bank‘s Carlo Santarelli says the casino generates significant ROI for Las Vegas Sands but a sale wouldn’t hurt the balance sheet either. As for MGM Resorts International, “the transaction would expand a northeast presence that has grown significantly over the past year, while [its REIT] potentially benefits from a new rent stream.” Indeed, if the company adds Sands Bethlehem to a portfolio that includes Borgata and MGM National Harbor, it becomes a major mid-Atlantic player in a very short period of time.

While casino experts think Bethlehem would fit nicely into MGM’s repertory, they think it’s the odd man out among Sands’ more globally focused casino empire. Both Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Maryland, MGM Mirage, Pennsylvania, Sheldon Adelson, Wall Street | 1 Comment

Casino gridlock in Florida; Illinois contemplates “grand bargain”

There’s a saying that a man who wears two watches never knows what time it is. In the case of the Florida Lege, it knows something dramatic needs to be done about gambling policy but is of dramatically different mindsets about just what that “something” is. A bill in the House would preserve the status quo, including giving the Seminole Tribe a 20-year extension on blackjack exclusivity. A more lavish Senate bill gives the tribe roulette and craps as well, possibly because it dilutes the market by opening the prospect of slot machines to several additional parimutuels.

While state Sen. Bill Galvano (R, pictured) may say “Inaction is not a choice,” the Lege has been prone to do little on the issue for a couple of sessions now. And reconciling Galvano’s bill with the “freeze” version in the House is a big stretch, one that has people like state Rep. Mike La Rosa (R) saying things like, “we can’t be afraid to step away from the table if we ultimately have to.” The risk in that strategy is that the courts could Continue reading

Posted in Florida, Illinois, Neil Bluhm, New York, Politics, Racinos, Seminole Tribe, Slot routes | Leave a comment

Sheldon stifles story; Trump Plaza’s end near

News about Las Vegas Sands‘ negotiations to sell Sands Bethlehem (confirmed) to MGM Resorts International
(alleged) have been all over the Internet, especially once MGM’s name entered the discussion. You know where the story hasn’t been? Yup. Sheldon Adelson‘s very own Las Vegas Review-Journal. The business desk clearly got a memo from The Boss to ignore the story and have diligently stuck their heads in the Sands. Instead we get this — and the greatest affront to the convicted bookie was that his concealed-carry permit got revoked. Gun rights are sacrosanct at the R-J.

* “We are extremely happy with our ownership of the Tropicana Casino and Resort, and after considerable analysis and deliberation we determined that we only wanted Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Carl Icahn, Hard Rock International, MGM Mirage, Pennsylvania, Sheldon Adelson, Tropicana Entertainment, Unite-Here | Leave a comment

MGM tipped as Sands Bethlehem buyer

It’s definite: Las Vegas Sands is shopping Sands Bethlehem, no matter what Ron Reese tells you. Company executives visited Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Commissioner Richard G. Jewell with the news, which he confirmed to the Allentown Morning Call. Corroboration came from Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez. Sources for the news paper finger MGM Resorts International as the likely buyer, and a similar leak has trickled down from Sands Bethlehem supervisors to floor employees, although MGM is hunkering down behind a ‘no comment’ policy. A purchase would put the lion right on the doorstep of the greater New York City area, able to draw on that market without great fear of competition until at least 2023, when the five boroughs become eligible for casino development.

So why is Big Sands selling Little Sands, especially on the heels of announcing a $90 million expansion? There are four theories. Take your pick: Continue reading

Posted in Carl Icahn, Georgia, Internet gambling, Maryland, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Movies, New York, Pennsylvania, Politics, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, Slot routes, Tropicana Entertainment | Leave a comment

More resort fees at MGM; Sands Bethlehem sold?

It was show time for the big boys at the J.P. Morgan Gaming, Lodging, Restaurant & Leisure Management Access Forum, starting with MGM Resorts International, which had to get started by explaining why fourth-quarter numbers had been “coming in well below investor expectations.” Despite that, MGM posted a record amount of convention-related business in 2016, although if you thought MGM had more hotel rooms on the Las Vegas Strip than it could possibly use, think again. Execs said “the [Donald] Trump travel ban resulted in a little glitch in late January, but business is back to normal.” Reading the tea leaves, J.P. Morgan analysts see another round of resort-fee increases, probably toward year’s end. As one analyst put it, room revenues “at core properties are still not at prior peak, but resort fees do help quite a bit.”

As for Strip gaming revenues, MGM execs basically said they’re maxed out, as “domestic casino patrons have Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Atlantic City, California, Donald Trump, Economy, Hard Rock International, Harrah's, Harry Reid, Japan, Macau, Maryland, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Penn National, Pennsylvania, Pinnacle Entertainment, Seminole Tribe, Sheldon Adelson, Singapore, Sports, Steve Wynn, The Strip, Tourism, Transportation, Tribal, Tropicana Entertainment, Wall Street | 1 Comment