Venture Catalyst tech division
being acquired by IGT

Aug 29, 2006 5:25 AM

International Game Technology (IGT), the country’s largest maker of gambling devices, reached into California on Monday to buy Venture Catalyst Inc., a publicly-traded technology and consulting company.

IGT agreed to pay $2.58 per share in cash for all the outstanding stock in Venture Catalyst, a 14% premium over Venture’s closing price of $2.26 on the over-the-counter bulletin board market on Friday.

However, IGT wasn’t interested in Venture’s consulting services division so it agreed to sell that entity to Venture’s chairman, L. Donald Speer, for about $4.5 million in promissory notes.

The new consulting entity, that will involve Speer and several of his Venture executives, will continue to provide consulting services to the Barona Casino in California, as well as other clients.

The deal is expected to close before year end.

N.J. slots?

While campaigning last fall for the governor’s chair in New Jersey, then Sen. Jon Corzine told voters in the southern part of the state that he was opposed to slot machines known as video lottery terminals at the state’s racetracks.

That position was cheered by the Atlantic City casinos who dread the thought of slots competition.

But things may have changed a bit. Corzine still insists he opposes "racinos" in New Jersey but hedges those statements by saying that with the possibility of slots in Pennsylvania and New York the thought of racetracks slots has to be revisited.

A spokesman for the governor said Friday that Corzine believes that casino executives and state officials should work together to determine how best to compete with the VLTs in surrounding states.

AEG deal

Boyd Gaming Corporation (BYD) has denied that it is contemplating downsizing its planned $4 billion Echelon Place and has announced it will develop two major entertainment venues that will be managed by AEG Live.

The downsizing suggestion came from a Wall Street gaming analyst who suggested that Boyd Gaming was looking to reduce the size of the project, set to replace the Las Vegas Strip aging Stardust Hotel/Casino, and to cut back the amount to be expended on the development.

A Boyd Gaming spokesman denied the suggestion, saying in effect, that everything was on track as had been planned.

AEG Live, one of the world’s leading producers, or live sports and entertainment events, operates such properties as the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas the Sprint Center in Kansas City, the Stapes Center in Los Angeles, and the O2, formerly known as the Millennium Dome in London, England.

AEG Live, a division of Anschutz Entertainment Group, is reported in the British press to be in line for the first license for a Las Vegas-styled casino in the United Kingdom. The super-casino, with Kerzner International Inc. (KZL) as a partner, is to be built at London’s Millennium Dome when the license is issued.

Isle of Capri

Profits were higher in the first 2007 fiscal quarter for Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. (ISLE) but both the net revenue and profit per share were far from the number expected by analysts, thus causing the company’s share price to drop substantially in trading on Friday.

Traders pounded the stock shortly after the report was made and pushed the per share price down to $19.30, lower by $2.64 by the time trading ended for the day.

The company said that for the quarter that ended on July 30, the company had revenues of $274 million and earnings of $9.2 million or $0.29 per share. Analysts had expected revenue of $294.4 million and earnings of $0.37 per share.

Officials blamed the shortfall on higher costs stemming from increased insurance premiums, stock compensation expenses and corporate office relocation expenses.

One analyst wrote that with increasing pressure from added competition in Mississippi, Iowa, Missouri and Colorado, the company’s future looked gloomy, indeed.

New leader

After a search of several weeks, Aristocrat Leisure Ltd., the Australian manufacturer of gaming devices, has found a new head of its activities in the U.S. He is Timothy Parrott, former chairman and CEO of Boomtown Casinos.

As head of its activities in North America, Parrott, who assumes the position on Sept. 18, will be responsible for a division that has accounted for nearly 40% of the Australian company’s total revenue in 2005.

Well-known in the gaming industry, Parrott ran the company that operated casinos in Las Vegas and Reno, Nev.; Biloxi, Miss., and Harvey, La. The company was sold in the late 90’s to the company now known as Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. (PNK).

More recently, Parrott was CEO of On Stage Entertainment Inc. of Las Vegas.

Racing license

Critics insisted it would never happen but it has”¦the New York Racing and Wagering Board has granted a racing license to Vernon Downs, the harness racing track in upstate New York.

The track, now owned by a partnership involving a New York City businessman, Jeff Gural, and Nevada Gold and Casinos Inc. (UWN), a publicly-traded company that is based in Texas, will begin racing on Thursday, Aug. 31.

By October, the operators expect to have 800 video lottery terminals in operation, giving New York State another "racino."

Racing was suspended two years ago when the previous owner filed for bankruptcy.

THE INSIDER: Cash Systems Inc. (CKNN) says it has received an enhanced contract renewal from Midway Slots and Simulcast at the Harrington Fair Grounds in Delaware that will add credit card cash advance and check cashing to the service.

Quintain Estates & Development Plc of London, England, announced it has abandoned plans for a casino near Wembley Stadium, a venture that would have included Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET).

Casino revenue in Colorado jumped 6.1% in July, according to state officials. Revenue reached $74.3 million as compared to $69.9 million in July, 2005.

Gino Roncelli, an independent member of the board of directors of Magna Entertainment Corp. (MECA), has resigned to "devote more time to my personal life."

In a filing with the SEC, Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) said that Jack Binion, the new chairman of Wynn International Marketing, planned to purchase up to one million shares of company stock.

Young & Rubicam Brands and Eric Mower and Associates will form the marketing team for Empire Racing’s bid to operate the three major racetracks in New York State.

The first conditional licenses for racetracks to operate slots parlors will be awarded on Sept. 27, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Analysts at Bear Stearns have initiated coverage of Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. (PNK) with an outperform rating.

Shuffle Master Inc. (SHFL) will hold a conference call to discuss operating results for the third fiscal quarter on Thursday, Sept. 7, at 2 p.m. PDT.