Boyd Gaming slows Pa.
Interest; moves in Florida

Jun 13, 2006 3:46 AM

Gamblers need to know when to hold’em and when to fold’em and so do gaming companies.

That seems to be the case with Boyd Gaming Corp. (BYD), whose leaders have decided to substantially reduce their efforts to get a slots license in Pennsylvania while focusing more on their proposed acquisition of a Florida jai-alai fronton.

When Pennsylvania lawmakers showed their interest in setting up video lottery machine operations in the Keystone state, Boyd Gaming, like many other major gaming operators, found a pair of influential partners and selected a site in a bid for one of 14 licenses the law provided.

The partners — Patrick Rooney of the influential Rooney clan, owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and David Sweet, a former campaign manager for Gov. Ed Rendell — were solid but their casino location in Limerick Township, about 30 miles northwest of Philadelphia turned into a bummer. Township officials opposed the $650 million casino complex, the only community to take a negative view of a potential licensee.

Without local support, Boyd Gaming officials saw that the odds of their getting a license were stacked against them so they reportedly have significantly curtailed their efforts to build in Limerick.

Rooney might be less of a loser in the effort since he owns Yonkers Raceway in New York and the facility is working on a plan to convert the track into a racino with some 4,500 VLTs.

And Boyd is in the process of putting together plans for a slots complex at Dania Jai Alai in Broward County, Fla. The property, being bought from Steve Snyder and his associates for $152.5 million, is located in the heart of Florida’s tourist area.

Biz bites

Larry Woolf, chairman and CEO of the Navegante Group and one of the gaming industry’s most respected executives, has received the approval of the Nevada Gaming Board to manage the Reno Hilton Hotel/Casino for new owner Grand Sierra Resort Corp.

The recommendation will now be taken up by the Nevada Gaming Commission at its meeting on June 22.

Woolf, CEO and general manager of the MGM Grand when it was built more than a dozen years ago, currently owns the Casino Fandango in Carson City, Nev. He was chosen by Grand Sierra Resort when the company purchased the Reno Hilton from Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) for $151 million.

Also recommended by the board at its recent meeting was the licensing of Jeffery Jacobs, founder of Jacobs Entertainment Inc., to operate the Best Western Pinon Plaza resort in Carson City.

Jacobs, who was a major shareholder at one time in the defunct Boardwalk Hotel/Casino on the Las Vegas Strip and currently operates a horse track in Virginia, purchased the Carson City property for $14.5 million from Clark Russell. He says he plans to re-brand the property as the Gold Dust West resort.

Benoit Aucouturier has notified Gaming Partners International Corporation (GPIC) that he will resign from the board of directors on June 30 for personal reasons.

Gary Orton, former deputy chief of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, has been appointed U.S. Marshal for the District of Nevada.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) has added Robert Rozek to its executive team as the company’s chief financial officer.

Angela R. Frost, senior vie president of operations for Ameristar Casinos Inc. (ASCA) has announced her retirement effective on July 7. She has been with the company for 22 years.

THE INSIDER: Nevada Gold & Casinos Inc. (UWN) reports that racing has returned to Tioga Downs near Binghamton, N.Y., after many years of inactivity. Later this month, the company says it will add 750 video lottery machines to the gaming operation.

Cash Systems Inc. (CKNN) announced it has received two new contracts for its cash access systems. They were from the Gold Bear Casino in Northern California and the Lodge at Belmont in New Hampshire.

Gaming revenues in Nevada rose by 12.7% during the month of April, according to state regulators. Gaming win jumped to $989.8 million from last year’s $878.3 million.

In Atlantic City, casinos won $432.5 million in May, an increase of 2.9% over last year.

Analysts at Stifel Nicolaus have upgraded the shares of Shuffle Master Inc. (SHFL) from hold to buy.

Shareholders of GTECH Holdings Corporation (GTK) have approved the company’s merger with Italy’s Lottomatica S.p.A.

Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. (TRMP) and Diamondhead Casino Corporation (DHCC) have signed a letter of intent to form a joint venture partnership to build a casino in Diamondhead, Miss.

The annual meeting of Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN) shareholders will be held Thursday, June 15, at the Louisville, Ky., racetrack.

Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) has filed a notice with the SEC indicating that it will pay $15.9 million to buy the rights to its headline show "Le Reve" from creator Franco Dragone.

Columbia Sussex, the hotel and casino operator that recently arranged to buy Aztar Corp. (AZR) says it will build new headquarters in Crestview Hills, Mo.