Straub makes some odd choices; Tiverton still up for grabs

Glenn Straub won one round, lost another in his quest to revive Revel as Ten. On Oct. 18, he received a certificate of occupancy, paving the way for him to reopen the property. (Last revel_0601spring’s effort was a Chinese fire drill.) Since Straub plans to lease the casino proper to an outside operator, he tried to have it both ways, collecting a slice of gaming revenues as landlord while not having a gaming license. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement wasn’t buying that argument and says Straub needs to get a license. We can think of no reason why he couldn’t. Compared to some of the people who have been licensed in the Garden State, Straub is a saint. However, his choice of managerial talent has us a bit worried. Senior Vice President of Casino Operations Frank Leone is a refugee from failed Trump Taj Mahal, as is Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations Cindi LePine. More propitious is the selection of Vincent Turrano, late of Hard Rock Tampa Hotel & Casino, to head up the F&B department. Dip into the Hard Rock brain trust and you’re going to find a lot of good minds.

Straub’s exact timeline for reopening Ten remains a bit vague — he doesn’t have a casino operator, after all. And his disagreement with former Revel nightclub owners IDEA Boardwalk is headed for state court after the two sides couldn’t resolve their differences in bankruptcy court. Our theory is that Straub intends to open during the slow months of 2017, to get the bugs out before Memorial Day and the high season that follows. But betting on what the ever-unpredictable Straub will do is a risky proposition.

* The bad news from Missouri is that 5% fewer gamblers visited its casinos last month. The good news is they spent 3% more, although not enough to stave off a 2% revenue dip. The big loser was Harrah’s North Kansas City, down 16% for a $14 million gross. On a happier note, the Penn National Gaming-managed portfolio had a good month. Hollywood St. Louis was up 6%, to $20 million, while Argosy Riverside rose 4%, to $13 million. Despite construction issues that prompted a 2% dip in revenues, Ameristar St. Charles was tops in the Show-Me State, with $22 million. Pinnacle Entertainment also had a 2% slippage at River City, which was still good for $19 million. Ameristar Kansas City enjoyed a 2% run up, for $16 million.

Tropicana Entertainment continues to struggle with Lumiere Place, down 12% ($11 million), while Affinity Gaming had an adverse month at Mark Twain ($3 million), down 8.5%. The Isle of Capri Casinos flotilla was mostly stable, barring declines of 3% in Cape Girardeau and 5.5% in Caruthersiville. Since there is little coverage of gaming revenues from neighboring Kansas casinos, we can’t judge how they’re affecting the western Missouri market — but Penn and Pinnacle seem to be bulletproof.

* It’s Election Day Plus Two and we still don’t have a final vote count from Tiverton, where a slot parlor hangs in the balance. Given the chance to siphon off revenue from neighboring Massachusetts, we thought this would be a slam dunk but Tiverton citizens clearly see it differently. Could the Newport Grand gaming license become the Flying Dutchman of gaming, doomed to wander Rhode Island until the next election cycle and the next after that, in search of a hospitable community?

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