June in Vegas: The house won; Wynn gets spanked in Macao

While a 10% increase in June gambling revenues on the Las Vegas Strip fell short of some Wall Street analysts’ projections, it was a healthy month nevertheless. Slot Cosmopolitan Las Vegaswinnings were up 10% ($253 million) on only 1% higher coin-in. Luck was really with the house at baccarat, where revenue vaulted 32% despite 12% less money wagered. Baccarat play remains in a 13-month swoon but results like June can keep casino moguls whistling past the graveyard. Other table games saw 9% less money dropped on the felt but Las Vegas Strip casinos eked out a 1% increase, to $159 million. For a change, the Strip heated up more than locals markets, where revenues rose 3%, to $183 million. Players beat the house, winning 9% more on 3% increase in wagers.

Most of the gain for local operators was in the nebulous “balance of Clark County” jurisdiction. Downtown was flat, as was the Boulder Strip, while North Las Vegas lost a percentage point. It certainly was a good month for Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Boulder Strip, Downtown, Economy, Lake Tahoe, Laughlin, Macau, Nevada, North Las Vegas, Regulation, Reno, Steve Wynn, The Strip, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“When the [Cherokee Nation] casino went in and we had other businesses go in, I think it sparked stability for our community. People aren’t afraid to build here. The Cherokees are good neighbors of ours.” — Sallisaw, Oklahoma Mayor Julie Ferguson, vouching for the positive economic impacts on tribal gaming on the surrounding area.

Posted in Economy, Oklahoma, Tribal | Leave a comment

Trailer trash in Boston; New crisis looms in Atlantic City

Massachusetts lawmakers may have thought they’d settled the question of casinos in the Bay State when they voted to baptize three resorts and slot parlor. However, thanks to a Healeyruling by state Attorney General Maura Healey, a ballot question here and a ballot question there, and voters could put additional casinos pretty much anywhere they want. OK, it’s not quite that easy. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission gets to weigh in on the constitutionality of the casino-to-be and, in this case, Revere has to be persuaded to give the project its blessing. But don’t count out developer and international man of mystery Eugene McCain. He wants to build a slot parlor on the site of a trailer park and compel nearby Suffolk Downs to revive horseracing (the ballot question specifies that the parlor must be within 1,500 feet of a racing oval). The Boston Globe calls this curate’s egg, “one of the most mysterious ballot questions voters have confronted in years.”

Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle, who lost out on a megaresort bid, is even blunter. “We have not and do not plan to support it,” he told the Globe. “And as far as gaming on the … property, we think Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Economy, Election, Horseracing, Lawrence Ho, Macau, Maine, Marketing, Massachusetts, Melco Crown Entertainment, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson | 1 Comment

Analysts: Buy Penn!; Veteran columnist calls it quits

According to J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Greff, “meaningful contributions” from the Tropicana Las Vegas, Plainridge Park Casino and Illinois slot route Prairie State Gaming drove a 14.5% improvement in Penn National Gaming‘s cash flow last Penn logoquarter. M Resort hit a record level in that department and Greff reported continuing improvement at the Trop, all this despite “economic and political uncertainty that is weighing on discretionary spend.” Penn management also noted positive results from a tweaked casino floor and new marketing strategy at Plainridge. At the Trop, room revenues are up 6.5% and volume of slot play has increased 30% (although some of the latter could reflect a winnowed-out slot inventory). Penn continues to wean the old gal off online travel agencies, getting OTA room nights down to 36% from 52% a year ago. It credits 10,000 room nights in May and June to incorporation of the Marquee Rewards loyalty program. As for the oft-mooted Phase II, customer feedback has Penn looking at investing in more non-gaming amenities rather than adding hotel rooms.

In the San Diego area, Hollywood Casino Jamul continues to plod toward a vaguely late-summer opening. In addition to getting 30% of Continue reading

Posted in Alabama, California, Economy, Election, Entertainment, Fontainebleau, Illinois, M Resort, Marketing, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Penn National, Politics, Sheldon Adelson, Slot routes, Station Casinos, The Strip, Tribal, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

J'Adoube“Of all God’s creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the leash. That one is the cat.” — Mark Twain

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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, Harrah's, 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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