Pinnacle close to buying Sands

Aug 29, 2006 9:15 AM

Las Vegas-based Pinnacle Gaming is the most likely buyer of Carl Icahn’s Atlantic City Sands, according to sources with a good view of what’s happening at one of the Boardwalk’s oldest properties.

Pinnacle officials have nothing to say, but well-connected execs outside the company say Chairman Dan Lee redirected his attention to the Sands after falling short in a bid for Aztar, which owns the Tropicana hotel.

The Sands became much more attractive to prospective suitors after Icahn acquired the acreage that gives the Sands frontage on the Boardwalk for the first time.

Lee (or any other buyer) would probably elect to tear the existing Sands down — "since it is so old" and build a new resort opening on the Boardwalk.

Major casinos cool
to Wynn tip plan

Former Steve Wynn executive Dennis Gomes says the decision to give Wynn Las Vegas casino floormen a share of the tokes now divided only among the dealers is a good idea because "it legitimizes what is probably happening anyway."

It’s an old story in the casino business, he said, that floormen often get "envelopes" from dealers after a good day.

The change that is scheduled to occur Sept. 1, also gives floormen a stake, Gomes explained, in promoting customer service that encourages tipping at a high level.

Will the dramatic change spread to other properties?

"I’m just waiting for my raise," laughed a Mandalay Bay floorman.

But MGM Grand Chairman Terry Lanni says flatly that there are no plans to follow suit at the company’s Strip casinos which include high-roller houses such as Mandalay Bay, the MGM Grand and Bellagio.

Mirage Resort President Bobby Baldwin said, "There are many valid approaches to operation and we see no reason to change our procedures."

Gomes, who has previously run the Golden Nugget, Las Vegas Hilton, Trump Taj Mahal and Atlantic City Tropicana, says it is difficult for floormen to do their job and protect the games when they are getting money that they are not supposed to get.

"That means the dealers have something on them," he said.

Interestingly, Nevada may be the only state where tip-splitting could even be an issue. Most jurisdictions such as New Jersey and Illinois have specific regulations concerning tips.

And floormen don’t get them.

Boyd eyes one slot card

Boyd Gaming’s moving forward with plans to join the club, so to speak, and link its roughly 20,000 Nevada slots through a single players club. That club may involve an extension of the current Club Coast which was a pioneer among single card player marketing programs

The 20,000 units includes the Boyd Gaming machines at casinos such as Sam’s Town and the Stardust and those of the former Coast Casinos once controlled by Michael Gaughan. They have been marketed separately since Boyd acquired Coast some two years ago.

But with Gaughan’s scheduled departure from Boyd to separately own and operate the South Coast Casino, the integration effort seems to have picked up speed.

Elvis in Riv’s future?

It’s been nearly 30 years since Elvis Presley died in Memphis.

But he’s never really left Las Vegas.

Images associated with "The King’s" power as an entertainer continue to resonate years after his death.

Now we have Robert Sillerman, a music mogul with an impressive resume and a major, so to speak, in pop entertainment, who wants to create an updated image of Elvis, something "suited to the 21st Century." He’s got the clout as the controlling owner of Elvis Presley Enterprises.

But let’s not forget that Sillerman is also busy on another Las Vegas front. He’s associated with the group that hopes to eventually own the Riviera where shareholders are to take a look at the deal this week.

Whatever the results of the scheduled vote, there’s a decent chance either side will take it to court, the result being that the future of the Riv may be tied up in litigation until long after MGM Mirage’s CityCenter project — that’s where the Elvis show is to be staged — welcomes its first customers sometime around November 2009.