Temporary relief for Illinois; CityCenter for sale?

As a huge gambling expansion works its way through the Legislature, casino owners in Illinois must feel like condemned men awaiting the execution. At any rate, it behooves them to gather roses while yet they may. Fortunately, gamblers felt like playing last month, propelling revenues up 3%. There were 2% fewer patrons but they spent 5.5% more. Penn National Gaming‘s Hollywood Aurora rocketed 18.5% upward ($12 million), while its Argosy Belle was flat ($4.5 million) and its Empress Joliet rose 3%, to $11 million. Boyd Gaming was not so fortunate, as long-suffering Par A Dice fell 8.5% to $7.5 million, well below analyst expectations. GLPI‘s Casino Queen in East St. Louis was up just a bit (1%) for a $10 million take.

Jumer’s Casino Rock Island was one of the few revenue-negative properties, dropping a percentage point to gross $6.5 million. Neil Bluhm‘s Rivers Casino posted a competition-crushing Continue reading

Posted in Boyd Gaming, California, CityCenter, GLPI, Harrah's, Illinois, Macau, MGM Mirage, Mississippi, Neil Bluhm, Penn National, Regulation, South Korea, Sports, Taxes, The Crown 18, Wall Street | 1 Comment

Quote of the Day

“The Las Vegas casino giant said Tuesday the material was transported to licensed landfills across the country over the course of about seven months and filled more than 8,800 truckloads and 4,300 railcars.” — Mind-boggling statistics on Wynn Resortscleanup of a brownfield site in Everett, Massachusetts, in preparation for building Wynn Boston Harbor,

Posted in Environment, Massachusetts, Steve Wynn | Leave a comment

Hard Rock to spend big in Atlantic City; Bad news for slot makers

In the biggest vote of confidence Atlantic City has received in a decade, Hard Rock International has announced that it intends to invest $375 million in the former Trump Taj Mahal. On top of the 1,000 projected construction jobs, Hard Rock predicts the ex-Taj will need 3,000 full-time employees. That’s music to a job market that’s been hard hit by a wave of casino closures. The Hard Rock-branded resort should be reopened in time for the 2018 summer season. Since the casino could cannibalize business in a market that’s finally been right-sized, Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen is advocating joint marketing efforts, to promote Atlantic City as a varied destination.

He’s already getting some help already from Bart Blatstein, The latter has  Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Cordish Co., Economy, Golden Gaming, Hard Rock International, Harrah's, International, Lawrence Ho, Marketing, Maryland, MGM Mirage, New York, Penn National, Pinnacle Entertainment, Station Casinos, Technology, Tribal | 2 Comments

Bicycle Casino gets busted; Macao bounces back

For the second time in its history, the Feds have busted the Bicycle Hotel & Casino, in Bell Gardens, California. They’re hot on the trail of laundered money and think Bicycle was providing some drip-dry service. Agents from multilateral task force (including the IRS) descended upon the casino and temporarily shut it down. The alleged scam is a classic: Buy chips with dirty money, play a little, then cash out the chips for “clean” cash. The Bicycle has been through this before. In 1991, the casino was confiscated, Washington having discovered that Florida drug lords were washing their $12 million of money there. In fact, with a total of an additional $10 million cleaned through the Bicycle Club cage, the card room was a full-service laundromat for scofflaws. The casino was literally built with laundered money.

Players watching the spectacle, however, were more concerned about being Continue reading

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Trump keeps them guessing; Meet your new neighbor, Steve Wynn

Could the president of the United States build a Las Vegas casino? That’s regulatory terra incognito that Nevada regulators will have to explore as Phil Ruffin and Donald Trump continue with their plan to erect a Trump-branded casino next door to Trump International. Pardon the pun but there’s no precedent for this situation, thanks to a loophole in the law, so Silver State regulators will have to create one. At least some of the work has already been done. A decade or so ago, Trump applied for — and received — a Nevada gaming license. Since it has lapsed in the interim (essentially being imploded along with the Riviera), he’ll have to be scrutinized all over again. However, since the investigation would focus on the years between the first and second gaming application, time in which the most egregious of Trump’s conduct was behind him, I don’t see any hidden booby traps lying in wait.

Or … Trump could take a less-than-10% stake in the property which, while hardly his style, would spare him from Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Donald Trump, Economy, Law enforcement, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Movies, New York, Phil Ruffin, Regulation, Riviera, Sports, Steve Wynn, The Mob, The Strip | Leave a comment

Cutting the Gordian Knot in Florida; New Hampshire tries yet again

Daily fantasy sports is expected to be legalized in Florida with little fuss. Resolving the casino-gambling impasse — that’s another story. Next week, a committee of the Legislature will try to reconcile two radically different bills. The state Senate one would give the Seminole Tribe the right to operate seven Class III casinos, add non-tribal slot parlors in Miami-Dade and Broward counties (one apiece), and enable slots at eight parimutuels statewide. The House bill is almost exclusively concerned with ratifying the Seminole compact at a higher-revenue rate. The Seminoles are satisfied with neither bill. However, last week’s ruling that “pre-reveal” slot-like games are legal — and wont to run hog wild in the Sunshine State — has given the Seminoles new leverage. If the Lege doesn’t explicitly outlaw the devices, Continue reading

Posted in Florida, Japan, New Hampshire, Politics, Problem gambling, Regulation, Seminole Tribe, Singapore, Taxes, Technology, The Strip | Leave a comment

What’s in a name?

Quite a lot, if you happen to be the late Sen. Pat McCarran (D). Not only is Nevada‘s largest airport named after you (not inaptly — the anti-New Deal, pro-fascist McCarran’s signature achievements included splitting off the Air Force as a separate branch of the armed services. But McCarran was also a racist, an anti-Semite and a xenophobe, who wrote of immigrants that they were “hardcore, indigestible blocks which have not become integrated into the American way of life but which, on the contrary, are its deadly enemies.” Accordingly, there is belated anti-McCarran pushback both in Carson City and in Washington, D.C. In the former, state Sen. Tick Segerblom (D) wants McCarran’s name of his eponymous airport, while in the latter Reps. Reps. Jacky Rosen, Ruben Kihuen and Dina Titus (all D) are requesting that McCarran’s statue be banished from Capitol Hill.

The Los Angeles Times got a hold of the Rosen/Kihuen/Titus letter, which “said McCarran led anti-communist crusades, pushed for severe anti-immigration laws and helped pass Continue reading

Posted in Cordish Co., Donald Trump, Harry Reid, history, International, Movies, Politics, Sports, Steve Wynn, Transportation | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“The United States is not a perfect country, and it has a great distance to go before it fully achieves its goals of liberty and equality. But preserving what works and defending the rules and values on which democracy depends are a shared responsibility. Everybody has a role to play in this drama.” — from an editorial in the Los Angeles Times.

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Programming note

S&G is back online at Twitter, with the new handle @Stiffs_Georges. I look forward to seeing you there.

Posted in Current | 3 Comments

Shawn The Sham; Cal-Neva in limbo

“They got the signatures to put it on the ballot and they are going to be spending millions of dollars on advertising, probably six weeks prior to this Election Day in November, to convince people to vote for it. It will be slick advertising just like their whole approach to this was slick.” That was Maine state Sen. Ron Collins (R), before he stormed out of hearing on Shawn Scott‘s latest sleazy attempt to get himself a casino. Under the masquerade of “Horseracing Jobs Fairness,” Scott raised enough signatures to get a referendum placed on November’s ballot — a question craftily worded so that Scott and Scott alone could benefit from a “yes” vote. As the Portland Press Herald reported, “lawmakers pointed out that the proposal would exempt the company from having to build or operate a horse track.”

Scott’s last-minute lobbyist, Dan Riley, said his client had tried to buy Scarborough Downs but it went to another bidder. Scott’s sister, Lisa Scott, shelled out $4 million on this latest ballot drive. While it looks at first blush like Continue reading

Posted in Galaxy Entertainment, Harrah's, Horseracing, International, Japan, Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, Penn National, Politics, Regulation, South Korea, Technology | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in California, Marketing, Tribal | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Boyd Gaming, Florida, Japan, Law enforcement, Macau, Seminole Tribe, Sheldon Adelson, South Dakota, Sports, Technology, Tourism, Westgate LV | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Boulder Strip, Colony Capital, Downtown, Harrah's, Lake Tahoe, Laughlin, Maryland, Mesquite, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, Penn National, Reno, The Strip, Wall Street | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Current, Geoff Freeman, Harrah's, Law enforcement, MGM Mirage, Sheldon Adelson, Sports, The Strip, World Series of Poker | Leave a comment

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

Posted in California, Downtown, Economy, Entertainment, Foxwoods, history, Indiana, Macau, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Neil Bluhm, New York, North Las Vegas, Philippines, Politics, Steve Wynn, The Mob, Tribal | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Arizona, Economy, Harrah's, Tribal | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Current, MGM Mirage, Sheldon Adelson, Technology | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Australia, Donald Trump, Economy, Florida, Internet gambling, Macau, Mississippi, Phil Ruffin, Politics, Racinos, Seminole Tribe, The Strip, Transportation | Leave a comment