State to run Aztar’s Missouri casino

Nov 7, 2006 5:40 AM

An agreement between Aztar Corporation (AZR) and the privately-held Fortunes Entertainment LLC for the sale of Casino Aztar Caruthersville has been cancelled. But the action will not affect the purchase of Aztar Corporation by Wimar Tahoe Corporation, a subsidiary of Columbia Entertainment.

Fortunes Entertainment’s apparent inability to get regulatory approval from the Missouri Gaming Commission before the Nov. 19 deadline caused Aztar to cancel the deal.

However, Aztar said it had entered into an agreement with the Missouri Gaming Commission whereby the Commission will appoint a supervisor for the Caruthersville riverboat operation, thus permitting the merger with Columbia Sussex to go forward.

The company said that the agreement provides that G.M. George Stadler would keep his position.

Primm sale

MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGM) announced it had accepted a $400 million offer for the sale of its three casinos in Primm, Nev., by Herbst Gaming Inc. Included in the sale will be Primm Valley, Whiskey Pete’s and Buffalo Bill’s hotel/casinos, as well three gasoline stations and a convenience store on the California side of the state border.

The three properties have a total of 2,644 hotel rooms and 136,000 square feet of gaming space. They were acquired by MGM several years ago from Gary Primm and other family members.

Ed Herbst, company president, said he and his brothers believe the Primm properties will fit well with their company’s "Terrible’s" brand and its existing eight casinos in southern Nevada, Missouri and Iowa.

This is the second major purchase for Herbst Gaming. In May, the company said it was buying Sands Regent casinos for $148 million.

Maine’s success

The Maine voters who supported slot machines for the racetrack in Bangor expected the enterprise to be successful but had no idea just how successful a "temporary" racino would be.

""It’s hard to believe the money that’s coming in, but it’s coming in," said Peter Danton, a member of the Maine Gambling Control Board.

He was referring to the Hollywood Slots at Bangor Raceway, a property that was built and is being operated by Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN).

On the racino’s first anniversary Saturday, Penn National counted a total of 860,000 visitors who wagered more than half-a-billion dollars on the 475 slot machines in a building that used to house a family-owned buffet-style restaurant.

The racino now employs 140 people and has paid the city of Bangor $17 million in taxes

When it opened, gaming regulators predicted the machines would receive about $1,500 in action daily but, in fact, each machine has been averaging more than $3,500 per day.

THE INSIDER: Cash Systems Inc. (CKNN) announced Monday that it will install its Cashclub product in the Agua Caliente Casino and The Spa Resort casino in California.

Analysts at Matrix Research have downgraded the shares of MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGM) from "buy" to "hold."

The Yonkers, N.Y., racino, operated by Empire City Gaming, plans to increase the number of video lottery machines from the current 500 to 2,370 machines.

Pennsylvania has received its first revenue from the state’s slot machine industry. Operators of the Pocono Downs at Mohegan Sun racetrack have paid $50 million as a license fee. The track expects to open its slots activity on Nov. 14.

State officials in New York have turned over $8 million to the operators of its three major thoroughbred racetracks to keep them in business. The N.Y. Racing Association filed for bankruptcy on Friday.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board has approved the sale of the former Reno Turf Club’s casino license from developer Roger Elton to Station Casinos Inc. (STN).