Paulos says The Meadows a big success

Sep 11, 2007 6:35 AM

A five-year business decline at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino has been reversed, Bill Paulos proudly told Pennsylvania lawmakers last week.

Paulos and his partner, Bill Wortman, two experienced Las Vegas casino operators, are taking their first plunge in running a racino.

And, so far, it’s working better than anyone expected.

"As you know," Paulos said, "Pennsylvania’s expanded gaming law, which paved the way for slot machines, was intended in part to help save this grand industry and wonderful places like The Meadows.

"I am happy to report to you today that declines in racing attendance and wagering have now halted. Though it’s still early in the process at The Meadows, wagering and attendance has increased from a year ago."

Paulos noted that attendance, horse race wagering and simulcast betting have all increased. But the big winner has been the slot machines.

"The overall performance of our casino has exceeded all expectations," he said.

"Total coin-in to date through August 31st has surpassed $630 million in just 81 days. With gross terminal revenue currently standing at more than $51 million, state and local governments have collected nearly $30 million for property tax cuts, economic development and other worthwhile community projects."

He also noted that revenue from the slots activities pushed daily race purses from the previous $45,000 to $90,000.

The current success, Paulos told members of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, has been achieved with a temporary facility. He described it as "only a small preview of what’s to come when we open our permanent casino in early 2009."

The new facility will have state of the art gaming that will feature 3,000 slot machines and a number of amenities in all areas, including the grandstand and simulcast areas.

Plans also call for a 200-room hotel and spa.

"We entered into Pennsylvania wide-eyed and ready to bring a first class gaming operation to Southwestern Pennsylvania. By all account, we have accomplished that.

"However, as the Carpenters once sang, ”˜We’ve Only Just Begun.’ We are reinvesting in the community and our very own Meadows," he concluded.

Paulos and Wortman are the principals in Cannery Casino Resorts and own three properties in Las Vegas. They are the Rampart Casino, the Cannery Casino and Hotel and are constructing another Cannery Casino on the Boulder Highway.

Harrah’s gift

Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) has announced a $30 million donation to help launch an INNovation Village at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The INNovation Village will be a series of hospitality education and research facilities to be located next to the Stan Fulton Building, a facility made available through the philanthropy of the founder of Anchor Gaming, and a structure that contains the GamingToday Reading Room made available with funds donated by our late founder Chuck Di Rocco.

In announcing the donation, Gary Loveman, chairman and CEO of Harrah’s, remarked, "The men and women who manage large hospitality operations need considerable analytical and technological expertise in addition to outstanding interpersonal skills.

"INNovation Village at UNLV will ensure that generations of hotel, food-service and casino-resort professionals graduate with broad-based academic backgrounds and practical, on-the-job training that will make them indispensable to major hospitality employers."

THE INSIDER: With approval from the regulators, Fair Grounds Race Course will offer slot machine gaming. This will be the first property owned by Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN) to offer slots action.

Gaming revenues in Atlantic City for the month of August fell 5.9%, according to the state gaming regulators. They reported total gaming win at $465.2. Slots revenue fell 11 % while table gaming win was up 8.2%.

Progressive Gaming International Corporation (PGIC) and Shuffler Master Inc. (SHFL) have agreed to extend the closing of an exclusive agreement relative to the sale of Progressive’s table games to Sept. 17.

Scientific Games Corporation (SGMS) has been certified by the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries for the development of software applications.