Competition heats up in Detroit

Dec 26, 2000 10:54 AM

The competition is heating up in Detroit, and that means good news for visitors to the city’s three casinos and Casino Windsor, just across the Detroit River in Canada.

MotorCity Casino, just a year old, competes for their dollars with the just-opened Greektown Casino and the city’s first, the MGM Grand.

There will be increased giveaways, high roller perks and new games to sweeten the pot at these casinos. MotorCity also plans to expand its sponsorship of sporting events like boxing.

Innovative Gaming
stock on ‘small market’

Innovative Gaming Corporation (IGCA-news) announced that its common stock will be listed on the Nasdaq Small Cap Market effective Tuesday. it’s common stock had been listed on Nasdaq’s National Market and is now listed on the Nasdaq Small Cap Market via an exception from Nasdaq’s minimum $1 bid price requirement.

While IGCA failed to meet this requirement, IGCA was granted a temporary exception from this standard subject to IGCA meeting certain conditions. The Nasdaq exception requires the company show a closing bid price of at least $1 by 1-22.

Conseco buyout

Argosy Gaming Company (AGY) is buying Conseco Entertainment’s 29% interest in the Argosy Casino and Hotel in Lawrenceburg, Ind., which caters to Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, residents. The purchase gives Argosy 86.5% ownership of the property. Its management fee increases 5%, to 12.5% of earnings.

Argosy owns and operates the Alton Belle Casino in Alton, Ill., serving St. Louis; the Argosy Casino in Riverside, Mo., serving Kansas City; the Argosy Casino-Baton Rouge in Louisiana; and the Belle of Sioux City in Iowa.

Cape Town

Century Casinos Inc. (CNTY), based in Cripple Creek, Colo., owns 65% of the Caledon Casino, Hotel and Spa. It just acquired another 15% of the South Africa operation, an hour away from Cape Town. It has 350 gaming positions and a 92-room hotel.

Chairman and CEO Erwin Haitzmann said his company already has zoning approval to add a championship golf course, 350 residential or time-share units and more retail space. The company owns Womacks Casino in Cripple Creek, has cruise ship concessions and runs the Marriott Hotel casino in Prague, Czech Republic.

Big contract

Casino Data Systems (CSDS) has received a $4.5 million-plus contract to manage the casino systems, games and sign products at the Pala Casino and Entertainment Center for the Pala Band of Mission Indians. The facility, in northern San Diego County abutting the Palomar Mountains, should open in early spring.

Native Americans
no threat

Richard Jacobs used to own the Cleveland Indians baseball team. He received state approval last week to buy the Gold Dust West, a Reno, Nev., slots-only casino.

Jacobs’ company owns Black Hawk Gaming & Development Company in Black Hawk, Colo. He was praised by regulators for investing in Nevada despite the threats of Indian casinos in neighboring California.

Jacobs’ son Jeff, Black Hawk board chairman, said the company would stick with just slots right now, but is planning a 200- or 300- room tower addition. "We believe in crawling, then walking and then running," said company president Stephen Roark.

Gaming commissioners also approved Marvin Lipschultz to head the slots-only Golden Palm Casino (a former Howard Johnson’s on Tropicana Avenue in Las Vegas). He told commissioners his plans include a 24-story hotel and time-share.

Nutmeg tribes
put on hold

Connecticut may get two more Native American casinos, but not any time soon. Assistant U.S. Interior Secretary Kevin Gover withdrew from federal tribal recognition cases involving the 1,650-member Nipmuc Indians of Grafton, Mass., and the 250-member Chaubunagungamaug Nipmucks of Webster and Dudley, Mass. Both tribal areas extend into Connecticut.

In his government post, Gover heads the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. A Pawnee Indian, he’s also a lawyer. He disqualified himself from the recognition process after sharing a meal with the Nipmucs. He leaves office by New Year’s. His deputy, Michael Anderson, was traveling and couldn’t be contacted.

"We’ve waited 21 years," said Chaubunagungamaug Chief Edwin "Wise Owl" Morse. "So we can wait some more."

Tahoe confab

The second annual South Shore Tourism Conference will take a look at the growth of Native American casinos in California when it meets Jan. 3 at South Lake Tahoe. One such is a $125 million project for the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians just west of Placerville, Calif., off U.S. 50. It will be managed by Lakes Gaming of Minnetonka, Minn.

South Shore businessmen will discuss this, Reno-Tahoe air service and other issues. Panelists will be include Washoe County Airport Authority executive director Krys Bart; Lew Feldman, attorney for the South Lake Tahoe redevelopment project; Harveys Casino Resorts spokesman Jim Rafferty, chairman of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority; and John Wagnon, marketing v.p. for Heavenly Ski Resort.

Meanwhile, Heavenly has opened a $23 million goldola to haul tourists 2,875 feet up in the Sierra. The ski resort hopes it will make the village an upscale travel destination.

Full court press

Fitzgeralds Sugar Creek, one of four casino operators that wanted to build a hotel-casino complex on the Missouri River, has sued Station Casinos Inc., alleging improper contacts with a former state official to help Station get its license.

Station pulled out of Missouri, selling its assets there to Ameristar Casinos for $488 million. Michael Lazaroff, a new-disbarred St. Louis attorney, got a $500,000 bonus from Station for lobbying on their behalf. Missouri regulators were told Lazaroff tried to influence the Missouri Gaming Commission’s then-chairman Robert L. Wolfson.

Station attorney Charley German said its license was "decided on the merits without any undue outside influence."

Station Casinos paid a $1 million fine to settle its disciplinary problems there.

Ameristar took over Station’s Missouri operations last week. The Reserve, Ameristar’s hotel-casino in Henderson, Nev., is being sold to Station Casinos for $70 million, with Nevada regulatory approval possible by the end of January.

Still open

Attorneys for lien-holders on the Regent Las Vegas are due back in bankruptcy court Jan. 2. The resort had demanded $20 million from first mortage holders to stay open through that date.

Other resort suits allege Reliance Insurance owes more than $13 million for shoddy construction by Helix Electric and National Fire Insurance owes $10 million for construction delays.

The resort stays open until parties present their arguments next week.

Hog heaven

Visitors to the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas next October will get a peek at International Game Technology’s latest creation: a slot machine with the Harley-Davidson theme – and its roar.

"We’re going to create a product for casino players that will get their motors running," says IGT engineering/design v.p. Joe Kaminkow.

The licensing agreement gives IGT the right to use Harley’s bar-and-shield logo and the muffler roar of the motorcycle called "The Hog."

Slow death

Once the most profitable of Michigan’s games of chance, the Lotto game will bite the dust in February.

Lottery Commissioner Don Gilmer said players were losing interest. "There were some weeks the Lotto didn’t even bring in enough money to cover the jackpots," he said.

State casino tax revenues have more than offset Lotto’s losses.

The Lotto will be replaced by a game called Michigan Millions, with more chances to win and bigger jackpots, Gilmer says.

Ladbroke sells

Magna Entertainment Corp. (MEC) has a deal to pay $53 million for Ladbroke Racing Corp.’s account wagering operations, The Meadows harness track, four off-track betting places, and an interest in The Racing Network.

Magna Entertainment tracks already include Santa Anita Park, Golden Gate Fields and Bay Meadows Racecourse in California; Gulfstream Park in Florida; Remington Park in Oklahoma; Thistledown in Ohio; and Great Lake Downs in Michigan. They handle a fourth of the pari-mutuel wagers in the United States.

You betcha! Inc. (UBET) has bought all its remaining senior convertible debt (about $22.6 million worth) at a cost of $13.5 million. The online live event, entertainment and wagering company said that should show a $7.7 million gain on the books for the quarter ending Dec. 31. doesn’t accept wagers; it sends information-related wagers to licensed wagering facilities.

International Game Technology says it will get an exclusive license for MGM Mirage’s coinless slot machine system.

IGT and Anchor Gaming already own patents on related systems. Anchor Gaming will be the lead marketer for the combined package. "We hope our agreement with MGM Mirage will benefit the entire industry by making these important patent rights more accessible," said IGT president and CEO Tom Baker.