Gulfstream to become ‘entertainment mecca’

Feb 6, 2001 7:03 AM

Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., will be transformed into an entertainment mecca and be called North American Super Track or NASTRACK, according to officials at Magna Entertainment Corp., Gulfstream’s parent company.

The project will cost $60 million and it will try to save horse racing.

"It’s no secret that horse racing has seen better days," Gulfstream President and CEO Scott Savin said. "The sport’s bread-and-butter audience, those 55 and older, is aging, wagering is down and tracks have failed miserably over the years to market a younger crowd. Despite a decline in attendance at tracks throughout the country, the sport is limping, but isn’t permanently injured.

The renovations plan are in two stages, which could be begin by June and be finished in 2007. Phase one will be to demolish the north end grandstand and build a 3,000-seat "sports palace" with tiered seating, a boxing ring and broadcast facilities.

Phase two includes demolishing the rest of the clubhouse, building a new 6,400-seat turf club and a 5,000-seat indoor arena or amphitheater. The existing track will be lengthened from 1 mile to 1-1/8 miles.

The plan also calls for a 60-room all-suite condo/hotel and coffee bars, cafes and move vendors in the turf club.

"There’s gambling and there’s gambling," said John Van Lindt, vice president of Hialeah Park. "I think what’s happening to racing is that you’ve got a huge competition in other forms of gambling. There are the Indian casinos, and you’ve got the boats. There’s a million close by places you can go."

To begin construction, Gulfstream needs permission from the state Department of Community Affairs to proceed without a Development of Regional Impact, said Gulfstream’s attorney Debbie Orshefsky.

Hallandale Beach City Manager R.J. Intindola said, "There’s no doubt with a $60 million investment that the community and the city would substantially benefit." Salvin said the project is similar to the Baltimore Orioles’ Camden Yards.


Mohegan’s expansion will benefit charities

East

When the Mohegan Sun started its billion-dollar casino expansion in Connecticut, it decided to close its bingo hall. Now, they’re cleaning out the attic.

The tribe is giving $200,000 worth of used bingo equipment to area charities — St. John’s Church, the Griswold Senior Center and the Pyramid Shriners in Milford, for instance. There is still about $75,000 worth of electronic bingo boards, control consoles, bingo papers, TVs and other supplies left for the asking.

A 20,000 square-foot smoke-free casino, the Hall of Lost Tribes, opens this spring where the bingo hall used to be. The Mohegans’ expansion (the Sunburst) will include a 1,200-room hotel, a 100,000 square-foot convention center, a 10,000-seat arena, stores and a spa.

New Hampshire considers slots
in liquor stores

A bill sponsored by State Sen.Ted Gatsas would put 1,000 video lottery machines in New Hampshire liquor stores. The machines would be in place as part of a two-year pilot program.

Gatsas estimated the program would bring in $87.5 million a year for the state. If the program is successful, the state could increase the number of statewide machines to 2,000 — or cut them back.

Tribe breaks ground

The Lummi Nation has begun building its new casino in Bellingham, Wash. The $15 million project could be open this November.

The tribe’s old casino hit the skids four years ago when British Columbia expanded gaming. On a reservation with 30 to 50 percent unemployment, the new casino will create 150 jobs. It will have more than 300 slot machines, 12 table games and a restaurant.

Credit crunch
for casino ventures
may be easing

The tight money market that may have knocked down major transactions, such as the Ed Roski-Las Vegas Hilton deal and the Colony Capital acquisition of Pinnacle Entertainment, may be easing.

Market analysts said this week the financial market for casino companies is improving. They cited MGM Mirage’s issue of $400 million in bonds and Harrah’s raising $500 million earlier this month as evidence of a credit recovery.

New Mexico tracks want more gambling

New Mexico’s four racetracks support a bill that would expand gambling in their grandstands. A bill by State Sen. John Arthur Smith would open the door to table games and more slot machines for the racetracks.

Tracks can have up to 300 slot machines. Smith said his legislation could generate $70-$100 million more in state revenue, while not seriously impacting the existing 12 tribal casinos.

South
Tennessee Moves To Legalize Gambling

Chances of a state lottery are "better than ever."

Chances of the Tennessee Senate passing a measure allowing a state lottery are better than ever, according to Sen. Steve Cohen.

The Senate has a good chance of passing a resolution before Valentine’s Day, which will let voters decide if they want to amend the state Constitution to allow a lottery.

Rep. Chris Newton said the Tennessee House would most likely pass the measure, too.

Louisiana court upholds gambling age

A two-year-old Louisiana law, that raised the state’s gambling age from 18 to 21, has withstood a challenge that went to the state Supreme Court. It ruled this week that raising the age for playing the lottery and video poker machines WAS "substantially related to the protection of the general welfare of the state."

The law was challenged by a group that included under-21 players, a bar owner and owner of a store that sold lottery tickets.

Midwest
Casino plans axed

Wisconsin’s new governor, Scott McCallum, has put the kibosh on a $275 million casino in Kenosha proposed by Menominee Indians. McCallum was sworn in when Gov. Tommy Thompson was confirmed as Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

The complex would have been built on Kenosha’s dog racing track, which the Menominees wanted to annex as reservation land. It could have had 4,000 slot machines and 60 blackjack tables, hotels, a golf course and a water park.

Both the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and the governor needed to approve the project.

"It’s over. It’s gone. It’s done," said the new governor.

South Dakota votes down gambling cap

The South Dakota House of Representatives has defeated a measure that would have put a moratorium on the number of video lottery terminals and establishments in the state.

Specifically, the bill would have capped the number of machine licenses, and not issue any new ones.


Russian woman wins lottery — and pays for it!

The richest woman in the republic of Bashkortostan, may be Nadezhda Mukha-metzyanova. She hit the Russian lottery this week for nearly 30 million rubles. (That’s $1,056,485 in U.S. greenbacks.)

The 47-year-old jobless factory worker had to face a problem familiar to American lottery winners: The state takes 10 million rubles of that (35 percent).


Binion out of Illinois

Illinois gaming regulators have ordered casino mogul Jack Binion to stop operating the Empress Casino in Joliet and to actively find a buyer for the property.

Binion’s Horseshoe Gaming was also told to move its offices from the Joliet Empress casino within 120 days. Binion bought the Empress in Joliet and a sister riverboat in Hammond, Ind., seven months ago.

Illinois regulators concluded Binion was "unfit" to operate in the state. They didn’t renew the casino’s license. Horseshoe officials said they would keep the Indiana riverboat.

Minnesota eyes state-run casino

Minnesota legislators have unveiled draft legislation to create a state-owned-and-operated casino that could generate $100-$150 million in taxes per year.

If the Legislature approves, the casino would be built in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Minnesota Lottery officials would oversee it.

Half the profits would go to state roads and bridges; half, to one-time projects such as schools and community centers.

WMS lands largest sales order ever

WMS Gaming just got three orders for gaming machines that total 1,738 units. One customer, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians in Minnesota, bought 716 machines, the largest order in the company’s history.

The other two orders included 667 machines for the Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley, and 570 for the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. The sales included a variety of machines, such as Monopoly, Jumble, Reel ’Em In, Money to Burn, Cash Crop, Filthy Rich, Jackpot Party. All have "hopperless" technology that uses ticket-in, ticket-out devices.


Time for casino clocks?

The 27,000 slot machines in Australia’s state of Victoria will be fitted with clocks by July 1 in an effort to keep gamblers in the real world.

The Victorian (ahem!) state ruling also decrees that natural lighting would have to filter in to some of the state’s artificially lit venues. The clocks and lighting should keep gamblers in real time.

"If you are absorbed in that activity," state Premier Steve Bracks told one Melbourne radio station, "you lose perspective of…what you should be doing, what your responsibilities are."