Vegaswalk?Forget it!

Nov 28, 2000 7:40 AM

VEGASWALK? — Stories are tip-toeing across the Valley of Dollars that Michael Jackson may work Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve.

"Nonsense," said a well-fitted pipe, who has a good wrench on the local casino industry.

"The moonwalker will not do a Vegas walk for the big Vegas weekend. Bet on it."

More pipe: "Most major properties have all but ruled out the merits of Big Names on the busiest weekend of the year. They cost Big Bucks, and it’s impossible to find someone who appeals to everyone — someone who spans the generation gap. They have other plans in the works. . . not Big Names!"

I wonder if Jackson’s manager had anything to do with the rumors?

LAZAROFF ON THE GRILL – "No, it has nothing to do with Bobby Flay’s cooking show, it refers to what’s going on in Missouri," said our pipe.

So what’s new on the Missouri front?

"Well, you know that Michael Lazaroff, the discredited and convicted lawyer who reportedly implicated his former bosses at Station Casinos in some skullduggery while trying to get a riverboat license, has been out of the news of late. But that is no longer the case.

"Word is that Station Casino lawyers have placed Lazaroff on the hot seat for depositions to help ward off any further action by the Missouri Gaming Commission. Even though Station Casinos is selling their two casinos to Ameristar, they still face disciplinary action by the Commission.

"So, any good words they can extricate from Lazaroff will go a long way to help them extricate themselves from the ‘Show-Me State’ with the least amount of problems," he said.

TRUST YOUR MOTHER . . . But, Cut The Cards! According to research from e-Marketeer — 60% of online gamblers think that the games they are playing are rigged.

"That’s nothing," said a rosebud, "they also fear that the credit card details that they are asked to submit are not secure."

Despite everything, online gambling soars. It is estimated that by 2003 online revenues will rise above $3 billion annually.

More rosebud: "It reminds me of some of the bust out gambling joints of the past. Everyone knew the games weren’t on the square, but it was the only game in town."

TRIBE TROUBLES? "There seems to be little question that the Reno market will be challenged as we go forward with substantial Indian gaming in its feeder markets!"

So said Glenn Schaeffer, top gun at Mandalay Resort Group (MBG). The giant casino company has a 50% stake in Northern Nevada’s Silver Legacy and owns Circus Circus in downtown Reno. Reno properties fell $2.6 million (15.3%) for the quarter ended Oct. 31. In Southern Nevada all the company’s sites enjoyed cash flow gains. Overall, MBG beat last year’s numbers by a penny.

GOOD SPORTS IN MISSISSIPPI — That’s what is helping the Imperial Palace show solid growth at its Biloxi, Miss., property, says property publicist Connie Ross.

"Every Monday night, there’s a special party with a former sports star as special guest," explained Ross. "And Monday Night Football parties has really attracted the local jocks."

Recently, she said, College Hall of Fame running back Herschel Walker, topped the list of celebrities. Others have been Mike Lansford, Rod Sherman, and the "Joe DiMaggio of football" Ollie Matson.

Next week, Ross says, the special guest will be Fox Sports broadcaster Craig Fertig, and on Super Bowl Sunday, it will be Icky Woods.

BAD GUESS? Guess long, guess wrong. Or, in the case of Harrah’s Entertainment (HET), it now admits that its greatest miscalculation before opening up in New Orleans was an over estimation of the casino’s ability to draw convention-goers and tourists.

"That’s what HET chief executive Phil Satre said during a recent visit to Jazz City," said an in-the-knowster.

"After a full 12 months of operations," said the source, "revenues continue to be below the level necessary to stay out of the red.

"They are crying for help. And, I think they’ll get it. It seems to me, Louisiana is in a no-win situation. Cut back on the unrealistic tax bite or send thousands of workers to the unemployment line if Harrah’s pulls the plug."

PASS THE GERITOL, PLEASE! Bringing downtown Reno back to life is the plan of David Cordish, head of a Baltimore company (Cordish Development), who is also working on a similar plan to revive Atlantic City.

"Cordish’s plan for downtown Reno spans 350,000 square feet," said a pipe. "It would include retail-entertainment attractions that would be linked and fed by a proposed events-convention center and downtown hotel-casinos.

"They call Cordish a visionary. Maybe he is. I’m hearing that he envisions something like a planetarium orbiting his downtown Reno project."

Last week Reno City Council approved spending $208,000 so that Cordish could do appraisals and environmental work necessary to acquire four blocks of downtown property.

GO FIGURE IT OUT! Isle of Capri Casinos (ISLE) last week hit a 52-week low of 8 3/4.

On the other hand, the company (led by CEO Jack Galloway) has doubled its size in less than a year. It continues to pump out significant increases in shareholder value.

Earnings per share are 30 cents — up 15% over 26 cents a year ago. Net income also took a jump — $9.6 million vs. $6.6 million.

"It’s already in my portfolio," said a rosebud who closely watches the company.

"It has rung up 13 consecutive quarters of year-over-year improvements and grew from sic to 14 properties, including expansions into Las Vegas, Iowa and Missouri.

"I talked with Galloway. He told me that the company is going to sit down and learn about Las Vegas before it decides to expand operations at its downtown site (Lady Luck)," said the rosebud.

THE MCDONALD APPROACH! When the giant restaurant chain switched from mainly hamburgers to other food attractions, horseracing tracks in America should have paid attention.

However, most of the track operators were napping. They kept horses — only horses — on the menu.

Not the case with a once tiny outpost in Pennsylvania named Penn National. They got the message and acted properly. Last week its Charlestown racetrack made a giant step by installing up to 2,000 slot machines. Initially, 374 reel-spinning, coin-out game machines were on the menu.

Now comes word of an expansion of 19,215 square feet gaming center with a western theme for its patrons. It is adjacent to the existing Silver Screen Gaming Center for "Live" OTB.