Isle of Capri, Lemieux plan Pitt. arena

Dec 27, 2005 3:15 AM

Executives of Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. (ISLE) must have realized while attending a recent movie showing that this is the year of the Penguin”¦or Penguins or, more accurately, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After discussions with the Lemieux Group LP, owners of the National Hockey League, ISLE announced that that it and the Penguins owners had signed a joint development agreement to fund a new multi-purpose arena and pursue a gaming license in Pittsburgh.

It was indicated earlier by state lawmakers that one of the slots licenses to be granted by the state would be earmarked for Pittsburgh. By combining the slots facility with a new arena for the hockey team would be a big boost for the city and for hockey Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux and his associates.

"We look forward to working closely with the Penguins as well as state and local officials as we move through the application process. Redevelopment of the Lower Hill and Uptown Districts will return the neighborhood to the community and funding a new multi-purpose arena will keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh, making this project a win/win for the entire community," said Tim Hinkley, president and CEO of Isle of Capri.

Of course, the project hinges completely on the developers receiving one of the 14 slot machine licenses that are expected to be awarded sometime in 2006.

Hinkley said that if the license is granted and all the necessary regulatory approvals are received, the project would begin in early 2007.

Owner/player Lemieux has already indicated that the Penguins cannot survive playing in the 44-year-old Mellon Arena, the oldest and smallest in the NHL. If the team does not have a new venue by the time its lease expires in 2007, he will have to move the team, he said.

Involved with the Penguins is Nationwide Realty Investors of Columbus, Ohio, accompany that financed the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Harrah’s bid

Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) continued to add to its rapidly growing team of participants in its bid to win a development/gaming license in Singapore.

With its partner, Keppel Land, Harrah’s announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc. to manage entertainment venues at a project to be developed at Singapore’s Marina Bay.

Earlier, the partners said their integrated resort proposal would have the exclusive marketing expertise of Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Group and the world’s leading convention management specialists, SMG.

Commenting on the addition of AEG to its group, Harrah’s Richard Mirman remarked, "AEG’s experience in the live-entertainment industry is unsurpassed. They bring a unique and global perspective to the entertainment experience we will offer at Marina Bay."

On the homefront, Harrah’s announced that it would not rebuild its Grand Casino in Gulfport, Miss., but would concentrate on a project in Biloxi. The Gulfport property, the company said, would be sold to Gulfside Casino Partnership, a company whose gaming property, Copa Casino, was destroyed by the hurricane.

Contract complains

The North Carolina Lottery has written specifications for its scratch tickets contract that only one company — Scientific Games Corp. (SGMS) — can meet, according to complaints from competing companies.

Bidding for the seven-year contract was begun early so the lottery can have four instant-win games in place to begin the lottery on April 5, 2006. However, the request for bids specifies that whichever company wins the contract must have the capacity to handle the printing, warehousing, distribution and marketing of the tickets.

Only Scientific Games, with facilities in Georgia, can meet all the specifications, other bidders said.

And, they noted, Scientific Games is under investigation for possibly violating lobbying laws as the lawmakers considered whether to approve establishing a lottery in that state.

It was noted, however, that other states have bundled ticket printing with other services to expedite the start of the games.

Slots for sale?

While Rhode Island was busy worrying about the future of Lincoln Park, whose executives were convicted of attempting to influence the legislature in the awarding of slot machine approvals, the state’s other slot machine emporium, Newport Grand, was negotiating a deal for more gaming devices.

The deal was struck last month with Gov. Donald Carcieri given Newport Grand permission to add 800 machines to its inventory. But, there was a catch. The company would be required to undergo a $20 million expansion that would include a hotel. And the funding would have to be in place by Dec. 31.

That hasn’t happened, yet. Under consideration, the company said, was a joint venture or the sale of the company.

A number of offers have already been received, an official said.

THE INSIDER: Lakes Entertainment Inc. (LACO) resolved its cash shortage last week with a $20 million loan from the Lyle Berman Family Partnership. Berman is chairman and CEO of LACO but according to the SEC filing "does not have an ownership or other beneficial interest in the Partnership."

Kirk Kerkorian, largest single stockholder in MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGM), made news in the business community last week when his Tracinda Corp. revealed that it had sold 12 million General Motors Corp. (GM) shares.

Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. (PNK) announced it had replaced its previous credit facility of $380 million with a new one valued at $750 million. The new credit facility was arranged by Lehman Brothers and Bear, Stearns & Co.

Station Casinos Inc. (STN) said it planned to include a Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World superstore in its proposed resort hotel and casino to be built in Reno, Nev. A similar store currently sits on the property of the Silverton Hotel/Casino along Route I 15.

Shuffle Master Inc. (SHFL) has received regulatory approval to buy Australia’s Stargames Ltd.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) says it is working to secure $2.5 billion in financing for its planned development of the Cotai Strip of Macau.

Progressive Gaming International Corp. (PGIC) has added Gen. Paul Harvey to its board of directors. Harvey is the former executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. Also, the company has opened a new office in Biloxi, Miss.

Scientific Games Corp. (SGMS) has won a contract from the Mexican broadcaster Televisa to provide support and services to its gaming unit.

Magna Entertainment Corp. (MECA) says that its slot machines at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, Okla., generated $176,455 per day for the first nine days of its operation. The company turned over to the state $158,809 for taxes due from the slot operation.

Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN) has appointed Desiree A. Burke vice president and corporate controller.

International Game Technology (IGT) says it has signed a $2.5 billion, five-year credit facility with a syndicate of banks.

Despite pressure from the U.S., Antigua says it will continue developing its Internet gambling industry. The country plans to license 10 new gambling companies that will join the 14 companies currently operating.

Even with the disruption caused by the fall hurricanes, Louisiana’s licensed casinos continued to do land-office business during the month of November, reporting gaming revenue of $184.4 million compared to $167.1 million in November 2004.