Gaming world mourns loss of Robert Baccellieri

Dec 26, 2000 10:04 AM

The sports betting and gaming communities are mouring the passing of Robert Baccellieri, who died last week at the age of 48. Many Las Vegans knew Mr. Baccellieri as the popular sports book manager at the New Frontier, where he has worked for the past two years. Prior to that, he worked at the Sands’ and Ballys’ sports books.

Mr. Baccellieri is survived by his wife, Barbara, who also serves as the sports book manager at the Flamingo. In addition, Mr. Baccellieri’s brother, Rich, has served as sports book manager and director at several sports books in the Las Vegas area.

Services were held at Palm Mortuary-Eastern on Saturday.

Moody’s keeps Gala Group’s rating at 3B

By: GT Staff

Moody’s Investor Service affirmed the B3 debt rating of Gala Group Holdings Plc’s GBP100 million senior unsecured note issuance following the announcement that the company has reached an agreement to purchase the casino business of Hilton Group Plc for GBP235 million in cash.

The affirmation reflects Gala’s strong operating performance since the original rating was assigned in May 2000, combined with an improved diversification of cash flow as a result of the transaction and Moody’s expectation that Gala’s strengthened management team will be able to get additional value from the estate.

However, the rating also takes into account the recent fall in admissions suffered by the casino business (which partly reflects the previous management’s approach), the fact that the casino operations are currently under-performing the sector, the present lack of a clear branding policy and the tight regulatory environment which currently limits the potential to expand the existing estate.

Autotote ”˜running full tilt now’

Autotote (TTE) took a hit last fall when it bought Silicon Games Holdings Corp., but "we’ve sailed through the roughest part of the storm," Autotote chairman and CEO Lorne Weil told teleconferencers Thursday.

"We’re running full tilt now," he said, "and have more backlog than we know what to do with."

Closure of a major production facility in California and opening another in Georgia hurt the bottom line, but bigger printing capacity helps, and the Georgia plant is not fully on stream yet, he added.

He expects income from the combined businesses "to grow in the low double digits" with new contracts, introduction of new technologies and new instant lottery games.

Autotote’s pre-paid phone card business will get a boost from the new technology, Weil said. Lower administration costs will help, too.

Last week, Britain’s National Lottery Commission awarded its national lottery contract to Camelot Group plc, for which Autotote supplies instant tickets.

Silicon’s acquisition cut $5 million from Autotote’s fourth quarter earnings, but Weil said production and manufacturing costs have rebounded to normal levels.

"I don’t see any downturn in our business," Weil added, noting that lotteries and pari-mutuel wagering are "historically recession-proof."

Next year, he expects the on-line lottery business will increase significantly with the start-up of Maine and Iowa lotteries. This will also be the first full year of operations for New Hampshire and Vermont lotteries.

Autotote is a major supplier of instant tickets, systems and services to lotteries; and a leading supplier of wagering systems and services to pari-mutuel operators. It’s also a licensed pari-mutuel gaming operator in Connecticut, Holland and Germany. It has customers here and in 60 other countries.

Horseracing stock rated high

Horseracing industry stock just got a boost from CIBC World Markets, a leading Canadian investment bank.

Churchill Downs, in particular, according to CIBC gaming analyst Adam Steinberg. It’s "one of the top operators in the industry," he says; has been actively acquiring racing assets, including Calder Race Course, Hollywood Park and Arlington Park; and already owns the historic home of the Kentucky Derby.

The company wants to capitalize on "growth opportunities in simulcast wagering through its Churchill Downs Simulcast Network (CDSN), Steinberg adds. CIBC set a 12-month target price at $35 a share, "implying a 7.4X EBITDA multiple in next year’s forecast of $73.6 million. CIBC initiated coverage with a hold rating, citing its good assets combined with favorable growth.

CIBC also likes MTR Gaming (MNTG), which owns Mountaineer Racetrack in Chester, W.Va,; Penn National Gaming (PENN); and Minnesota’s Canterbury Park, giving the latter two "strong buy" ratings. "The presence of slots at tracks, as well as ownership of casinos are a significant growth driver that can improve valuation," CIBC analysts said.

Bear Stearns, a week earlier, initiated coverage of the Louisville, Ky.-based racing conglomerate.

In other racing industry news, Anchor Gaming (SLOT ) has sold its assets in Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino in New Mexico to former Anchor chairman Stanley Fulton. The $306 million purchase included $240 million in cash and $66 million in notes that were cancelled in conjunction with the sale.

Anchor Gaming develops unique proprietary gaming machines; provides services to on-line and video lotteries and parii-mutual organizations; runs two Colorado casinos, gaming machine routes in Nevada and Montana; and develops and runs projects for the Pala Band of Mission Indians. It operates equipment and systems on a world-wide basis.

Canterbury Park, in Shakopee, Minn., will have a 61-day meet next year (May 18 through Labor Day.) Daily purses will average about $120,000, up 5% in overnight purses and up 20% in stakes purses.

Canterbury Park president Randy Sampson said that should attract top horsemen from the Upper Midwest "who may have wandered from Canterbury in past summers.

"The Breeders Cup Derby will be held there June 2; the Claiming Crown, which drew 14,000 fans last year and inspired nearly $1 million in on-track wagering will be Aug. 4; the Minnesota Festival of Champions, Aug. 18.

CMA Associate

Richard Dardner started in the gaming industry as a pit clerk
in 1975 while attending UNLV. He received his master’s degree in hotel administration. He has held gaming positions from dealer, mid-level management, to his current title as general manager for the Sac & Fox Casino in Powhattan, Kansas.

Richard’s masters thesis rated dealers’ motivational working environment. He has published articles on motivation and has been a panelist at gaming conventions.