Berman amasses Lakes’ shares

January 02, 2001 11:17 AM
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When Lyle Berman buys, everyone follows the leader. Berman, chairman-CEO-president of Lakes Gaming Inc. (LACO), just bought close to $2.6 million of its stock.

"I believe our company’s stock price continues to be undervalued," Berman said in a press release. "I have confidence in the future of Lakes and have seen this as an opportunity to increase my ownership."

During the month of December, he acquired 370,000 shares of its stock at $7.28 per share.

Lakes manages the largest casino resort in Louisiana and has development and management agreements with three tribes for new casino operations – one in Michigan and two in California. It also has agreements with MRD Gaming to develop two other casinos on Indian-owned land in California and has a joint

venture agreement to develop land on the Las Vegas Strip.

Patent limits

International Game Technology and Shuffle Master may have a deal on its three-reel conversion kit, but some programs are not included, according to IGT president and CEO Tom Baker.

Shuffle Master "intends to market this platform and operating system in combination with its own game library and those of third party developers," he said. However, it’s not licensed for its Red White and Blue or Double Diamond games, nor did the deal include IGT’s cashless patents.

"IGT will continue to work closely with Shuffle Master to develop and market games based on popular themes such as "The Three Stooges," "Honeymooners," and "Let’s Make a Deal," he said.

Accounting changes

Mikohn Gaming Corp. (MIKN) has pared its diluted net income per share for 1999, from 35 cents to nine cents. It’s the way it logged its sale of a half interest in its Australian subsidiary and the separate systems acquisition agreement with TAB Limited, which holds exclusive licenses to run a progressive jackpot system in New South Wales.

Mikohn took a gain of $4.3 million on the sale, but the gain from the TAB agreement will be deferred until it’s completed in the third quarter of 2001.

The revision has no effect on Mikohn’s cash flow or the amount it expects to realize from this sale," Mikohn said in a press release. Recognition of revenue and the gain will start then.

A week before, IGT announced it had an exclusive license for MGM-Mirage’s coinless slot machine patent.

In a related announcement, IGT said it has signed a five-year contract with the Harley-Davidson Motor Co. to use the Harley name and logos on a new slot machine. The arrangement includes replicating the Harley roar.

Asian expansion

Applied Gaming Solutions of Canada, Inc. (AGC) has negotiated a brokered private placement for sale of up to seven million units at 20 cents per unit, subject to regulatory approval.

AGC said it would use the money to expand its operations in Vietnam, for working capital and continuing operations. It provides technical and marketing support for Hanoi’s on-line lottery system; does outsource management of on-line lotteries, e-gaming solutions and related professional services.

Big jackpot

There’s $1 million awaiting the winner of the Mississippi Million Slot Tournament on Jan. 21 at the Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica, Miss. Another $700,000 will go to the other 240 finalists.

Satellite tournament run Jan. 7-14, with winners entered into the Jan. 19 final play. Resort officials say it’s the most cash ever given away at once by a Tunica casino.

Refinancing

A refinancing plan for the bankrupt Vacation Village on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip will be submitted by mid-January, according to its attorney, William McGimsey. The 315-room operators took bankruptcy protection two months ago after an affiliate, Shangri La Ltd., allegedly didn’t repay a $19 million note with 14 percent interest due last September.

Its operators say they spent upwards of $2 million upgrading the property so it could become a Holiday Inn franchise. Shangri La Ltd. owns the Sundance Plaza shopping center on East Sunset Road, southeast of the Las Vegas Strip.

Meanwhile, lien holders of the Regent Las Vegas were due in bankruptcy court Jan. 2 to consider alternative financing plans. That has been postponed until Jan. 9. Another hearing on collateral and debt financing is scheduled for Jan. 23. The resort had sought $20 million from first mortgage holders to keep open until the end of July. The resort has filed breach of contract suits against two insurance companies arising out of claims of construction defects and delays.

Express on track

The Gamblers Express will keep running between Philadelphia and Atlantic City, New Jersey transit’s executive director Jeffrey Warsh promises.

The train service has been rolling snake eyes since it began several years ago. Instead of being packed with casino patrons, it had a $9.9 million operating deficit in 2000. Ridership has fallen for the last two years.

"We’re going to make our stand on the Atlantic City rail line and we’re going to demonstrate our commitment to the region," Warsh said.

Funds arranged

Country World Casinos says it has a contract with Dartmouth General Capital Management Ltd. To provide $80 million to complete its Black Hawk, Colo., hotel-casino project.

Country World, based in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., said the project will include 1,000 slot machines, 32 gaming tables, and a hotel-entertainment complex.

Lottery revamped

The Michigan lottery will be retooled to perk up sluggish sales. Michigan Millions will feature 51 numbers

instead of the 49 used before, resulting in bigger jackpots. The old system started 16 years ago. Lottery Bureau Commissioner Don Gilmer noted "some softness in the Detroit region" since casinos opened there.

Ruffin delivers

Several months ago, Phil Ruffin shelved his plans to demolish and rebuild the New Frontier hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip The Associated Press reports Ruffin has bought the vacant Wichita, Kan., building that headquartered Pizza Hut’s corporate offices. His chief financial officer, Gail Knott, said it was picked up "for speculative purposes."

The last Pizza Hut and its parent company executives left for new offices in Dallas and Louisville, Ky., three years ago. Ruffin already owns Wichita Greyhound Park and the Crystal Palace Resort and Casino in the Bahamas.

Revenues better

It’s been a better year for Paul Lowden. For the quarter ended Sept. 30, revenue from his Santa Fe hotel-casino in northwest Las Vegas was up 5.3 percent, to $84.4 million. At his Pioneer in Laughlin, revenue was up 2.5 percent, to $45.9 million. His Santa Fe Gaming Corp. stock showed a profit of 85 cents a share for the quarter versus a year-ago loss of $1.04 a share. Santa Fe sold the hotel-casino and raw land in Henderson to Station Casinos earlier this year.