Wynn Resorts banks $900
million for Macau license

Sep 12, 2006 5:23 AM

When Steve Wynn’s application for one of three casino licenses to be granted by the Chinese enclave of Macau was approved, a side benefit included the right to sell a subconcession to another casino applicant.

Wynn Resorts Macau, a subsidiary of Wynn Resorts Limited (WYNN) found a buyer in James Packer’s Publishing and Broadcasting Limited, a public company in Australia that previously was operated by the late gaming "whale" Kerry Packer. The sale price, as announced, was $900 million.

The subconcession right permits the PBL affiliate to receive a license from the Macau Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China to conduct gaming operations in Macau.

Wynn didn’t indicate the use of the subconcession windfall but just having opened a $1.2 billion deluxe hotel/casino in Macau and with the $1.4 billion Encore hotel/casino currently under construction next to the flagship property on the Las Vegas Strip, the funds come at an opportune time for the company.

A U.K. move

Unsuccessful in its bidding for licenses in the expanding Asian gaming community, Malaysian gambling company Genting announced Monday that it was buying the 80% interest it doesn’t already own in Stanley Leisure Plc., Britain’s largest casino operator.

The purchase price was given as about $1.19 billion.

Stanley Leisure operates 45 casinos in Britain and has other gaming interests in Italy, Belgium, Germany, Croatia and Romania.

The move came on the heels of the announcement that Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) was acquiring London Clubs International Plc.

Since identifying a move to loosen its gambling laws, Britain has become the target of foreign investors looking to get in on the expanding gambling future.

Open the doors

Reversal of previous action seems to be standard operating procedure for the Sparks City Council.

First they voted to deny developer/lobbyist Harvey Whittemore a license to establish a casino resort just north of town. Whittemore responded by suing the town for $100 million charging that a 1994 agreement granted him the right to develop the Lazy 8 resort and casino.

Prodded by the city attorney, the council met behind closed doors and rescinded the previous vote and allowed the project to go forward.

But Nevada Atty. Gen. George Chanos said the vote didn’t count since it was taken in private, so the council has scheduled a meeting on Wednesday to again vote on the application, violating the state’s open meeting laws. This time, however, the vote will be in full view of the townspeople.

Track opens

With barely more than two weeks remaining before the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission awards slots licenses, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) opened its brand new harness race track Saturday, welcoming more than 5,000 fans to its Chester grand opening.

The track is located about 15 miles south of Philadelphia and brings back harness racing to an area that in the sports heyday of the ’60s and ’70s saw fans crowded into the Liberty Bell and Brandywine facilities.

The track would not have been built had it not been for the state’s plan to permit racetracks to install video lottery machines as an added attraction to the racing format. Officials of Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack expect to install some 2,700 machines and hope to have them operating in early 2007.

Also awaiting the issuance of slots licenses is The Meadows harness track that was purchased by Las Vegas casino operators Bill Paulos and Bill Wortman from Magna Entertainment Corp. (MECA).

Appeal denied

The two executives of Lincoln Greyhound Track in Lincoln, R.I., who were convicted of conspiracy to bribe a state official have had their appeal denied by the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

Dan Bucci, track CEO, and Nigel Potter, CEO of the track’s then owner, London-based Wembley Plc., received prison sentences last October of 41 months and 36 months, respectively. The company was fined $1.5 million.

Prosecutors alleged that the executives hoped to win support for more gambling machines at their track and to block approval of a rival casino being proposed by the Narragansett Indian Tribe by offering up to $4 million to the law firm of Rhode Island House Speaker John Harwood.

The money was never paid and neither Harwood nor his firm was charged.

Defense lawyers said the money being discussed was not a bribe but a bonus for the work the law firm had done for the track.

THE INSIDER: Bally Technologies Inc. (BYI) has received a contract from Magna Entertainment Corp. (MECA) for a complete slot accounting and casino management system for Gulfstream Park in Florida.

Longtime Las Vegas casino operator Michael Gaughan made his departure from Boyd Gaming Corp. (BYD) official on Sept. 6 when he resigned his position as an executive and as a member of the board of directors.

As part of the Gaughan offering of his Boyd Gaming shares, Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and Lehman Brothers Inc., who acted as underwriters of the sale, exercised the option of acquiring an additional 500,000 shares at a price of $33.75 per share.

The 12 casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., won $494.4 million during the month of August, according to the state’s gaming regulators. This was 4.5% more than the total won in August, 2005.