Foxwoods Resort Casino paid $15 million to the state of Connecticut as its share of November winnings. The casino made $60.3 million from its 5,800 slot machines in that month, $1.5 million more than the same month a year ago.
"We benefited from a strong month”¦despite fluctuations in the presidential, financial and economic markets that could have kept people away, but didn’t," said president and CEO Bill Sherlock.
In Missouri, gaming revenues increased 3.9 percent over year ago figures for the month, to $80.6 million. The hold at Harrah’s Kansas City in November was $16.9 million (up 21.5 percent); St. Charles Station, $14.2 million (up 13.6 percent). Isle of Capri-Kansas City’s riverboat casino is being overhauled after being acquired from the Flamingo Hilton, and should be back in operation before the end of March.
In Iowa, November gaming revenues grew a modest 1.8 percent, to $45.5 million, over year-ago figures. CIBC World Markets gaming analyst William R. Schmitt said growth was driven by the addition of Lakeside casino and better results at Belle of Sioux City. Gaming revenues for all three Isle’s properties (ISLE-S) were down from a year ago, probably hurt by integration or its acquisitions of President and Lady Luck properties.
Government agencies in Louisiana’s St. Mary Parish (county) will get a $10.5 million grant over seven years from the Chitimacha tribe, which runs the Cypress Bayou Casino on its reservation. Half that money will go for infrastructure improvements.
David Attaway, senior vice president of marketing and sales at the Aladdin Resort & Casino, has resigned his post to pursue other professional opportunities.
Vegas growth back to normal
Las Vegas’ "astronomical" growth will shrink to a more modest 3 percent growth over the next two years, predicts R. Keith Schwer, University of Nevada’s Business and Economic Research Center director.
Since late 1998, five major resorts have opened: Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, The Venetian, Paris and the Aladdin. That added 12,000 rooms to the city’s inventory. No new megaresorts debut in the next couple years, Schwer noted. That puts a crimp on construction jobs. However, the research center’s poll of 200 local companies showed that more than half expect to add employees next year.
Despite the increase in the number of available hotel and motel rooms, he said, occupancy rates should stay at 90 percent or better. More than 36 million visitors are expected in the next 12 months.
Casino backers sweeten the pot
Wisconsin casino backers have offered to pay St. Croix County local governments more than $80 million over the next eight years if they can build a tribal casino on a Hudson dog track.
The offer was presented by the Red Cliff, Sokaogan and Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa bands and the owners of the St. Croix Meadows dog track. It’s before the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs for a second time.
Proponents say it would cut local homeowners’ taxes by a third. The casino plan has drawn opposition from local government officials.
"This is a substantial amount of money," said Hudson City Attorney William Radosevich. "Whether it changes any opinions remains to be seen."
Terminals bottled up
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber wants to make his state less reliant on gambling revenue. Lottery commissioners last June approved allowing video poker terminals. Oregon already has a state lottery.
The governor says Oregon must lessen its reliance on gambling for state funding. His remarks drew support last week from the East Oregonian newspaper.
On the block
Best bid over $3 million takes a chunk of the former Sam’s Town Casino in Kansas City, Mo. The entertainment pavilion, offices and parking garage go on the block Feb. 15.
Harrah’s bought the 30-acre complex two years ago, but didn’t find a way to generate money with it. Sam’s Town had opened the casino in late 1995, but the opening of nearby Station Casino Kansas City 15 months later severely crimped its business.
A Harrah’s deed restriction prevents its use by the new buyer for any gambling activity. The casino gambling boat Judy’s Prize, not part of the auction deal, sails from Kansas City to a Harrah’s mooring in Lake Charles, La., as part of a $40 million upgrade there.
Land deal refused
Harrah’s New Orleans Casino is struggling to make ends meet, so it was no surprise that it turned down the land deal offered by that city. Specifically, Mayor Marc Morial said he’d sell the land on which the casino is situated for $600 million.
By buying the land, Morial said, the casino would no longer have to pay about $20 million a year for services provided to it.
Casino officials said they wanted to keep discussing the situation with the city, but Harrah’s wasn’t interested in buying the real estate.
A Texas gambler lost his claim that Nevada casino markers aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. The Nevada Supreme Court last week said (yet again) they’re covered by the state’s bad check laws.
Tuan Ngoc Nguyen wrote markers in Las Vegas five years ago for $5,000 at Harrah’s, $5,000 at the Luxor and $2,500 at the Excalibur. The casinos sent the markers to the Texas First National Bank, which notified them the account had been closed.
Earlier in the year, a federal judge in Las Vegas also upheld casino marker collections under Nevada’s bad check laws.
Station Casinos "a good buy," but”¦
Bear Stearns gaming analyst Jason Ader thinks Station Casinos is "an attractive acquisition target" now that it’s spun off its two Missouri casinos — but others doubt if the Fertitta family is interested right now. They own 40 percent of Station’s stock.
The Fertittas agreed three years ago to sell out to Crescent Real Estate Equities Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas, in a $1.7 billion deal, which then fell through.
"I don’t think (the Fertittas) would turn down an exceptionally attractive deal," adds Dennis Forst of McDonald Investments, "but I don’t think they’re shopping the company, either."
Stations earlier this year bought Paul Lowden’s Santa Fe resort and the Maloofs’ Fiesta in northwest Las Vegas.
Reno resorts concerned
Station Casinos plans a major casino project in California, off Interstate 80, just east of Sacramento. (Lakes Gaming has another California project outside Placerville, off U.S. Highway 50.)
"You’ve got to be concerned," said Don Carano of Reno, CEO and owner of the Eldorado Hotel-Casino and a partner in the Silver Legacy Resort Casino there.
Californians made up half the visitors to Reno-Sparks last year, prompting Reno marketing officials to upgrade their customer base with conventions and more attractions.
"We are not a tumbleweed city that’s just going to dry up and go away" because of the growth of California’s Native American casinos, says Dean Richard, Circus Circus Hotel Casino marketing director.
Oregon and Washington also have Nevada-style Indian casinos competing for the same tourist market as Reno-Sparks.
Reno leaders are studying ways to improve transportation to and from the area, and promoting outdoor and recreation activities.
Net ban bill in the works
Nevada Assemblywoman Merle Berman is drafting a bill to legalize and regulate Nevada-based gaming web sites.
"The person who opens up shop first gets the repeat customer," she told the Associated Press. "But even more than Atlantic City, our competition is with California Indian gaming. California’s got all the techies."
The Legislature opens its session Feb. 5. The Nevada Resort Association, which represents major casinos, will strongly oppose such legislation.
A framework for Internet gaming controls that states can use to write their own legislation is being proposed by New Jersey Rep. John Bennett.
There is some Nevada support for such controls. MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said the company thinks Internet gambling should be legalized and regulated much like Nevada casinos are controlled. MGM Mirage and Harrah’s have agreements with Silicon Gaming and iwin.com, respectively, to develop Web sites with games for prizes. Park Place Entertainment has close to a 20 percent stake in Jupiters Ltd., an Australian company that runs an e-wagering site, centrebet.com.
Starnet Communications International, based in St. Johns, Antigua, has signed and renewed simulcast agreements with several racetracks, including Delta Downs, Northfield Park and Lebanon Raceway.
It has an agreement with Casino Marketing, S.A., a wholly owned subsidiary of Poker.com, for a full Internet casino and sportbook. It plans to simulcast Panix’s boxing matches on Starnet’s worldbroadcasts.com site.