This just in: It was pretty clear that Sheldon Adelson was cool toward his home state of Massachusetts and he officially called it quits today. His excuse? Three casinos and a slot parlor will “dilute the market.” In other words, no monopoly = no Sheldon. That’s a slight variation on the too-much-competition wheeze he used in Florida. Somehow, I expect the Bay State will find a way to live without him. Besides, if four casinos is too dilutive, how does the sandy-haired Las Vegas Sands CEO explain the recent, runaway success of Sands Bethlehem in a far more crowded market? Its revenues just grow and grow (up 27% in 1Q12), Resorts World New York having not made the slightest dent. Inconsistent much, Shel?
(This is default good news for Caesars Entertainment. It could have been knocked out of the Boston-area box by a strong Sands presentation but homeboy Gary Loveman’s potential competitors continue to obligingly fall on their swords.)
Apple falls, tree nearby. It looks as though the recent Billboard Music Awards, held at MGM Grand, will be remembered less for anything that transpired during the show than for some not-so-legal slot play by Bobbi Kristina Brown (daughter of the late Whitney Houston). Seems that family just can’t stay out of trouble. The financial penalties for MGM Resorts International could be severe, depending on whether the Nevada Gaming Commission reacts with vigor or its usual somnolence. I mean, whatever happened to the probes into Harrah’s Entertainment’s troubled relationship with disordered gambler Terrance K. Watanabe, the covert-operations unit J. Terrence Lanni set up to conceal his negotiations with Stanley Ho (right) or the financial participation of a Triad member in a Sands China VIP room? When last we heard about the latter, the Nevada Gaming Control Board was still “developing investigative product” — and that was before regulator Randall Sayre left. (Don’t blame Gov. Brian Sandoval [R]: Sayre gave Sandoval an ultimatum that the incoming governor refused to accept.)
Compared to matters like this, l’affaire Bobbi Kristina is a mere bagatelle (and if you’re not familiar with that word, you soon will be). Short of carding individual players, one by one, what are casinos to do when underage players aren’t glaringly obvious? I’d be hard-put to distinguish a 19-year-old from a 21-year-old on sight, wouldn’t you? It would help a bit if casino-hotels weren’t designed so as to frog-march every customer across the gaming floor in order to reach any given destination but there’s not much that can be done about that either.
MGM should be concerned, however, about the laxity of its security at Bellagio. The absence of a visible “prowl” clearly emboldens robbers like these. For that matter, shouldn’t it be a rule of thumb for the “eye in the sky” that people wearing sunglasses or (like, duh!) motorcycle helmets should receive closer scrutiny?