Palas opening casino in northern San Diego

Apr 3, 2001 7:00 AM

   Bankrolled by Anchor Gaming (SLOT) and guided by the expertise of Las Vegan Jerry Turk, the Pala Band of Mission Indians will open a $115 million casino Tuesday night on reservation land in northern San Diego.

   This won’t be the first casino in the heavily populated county; there already are three thriving casinos in the area, but it will be the first in the northern section of the county. The other casinos are operated by the Barona, Sycuans, and Viejas Tribes.

   Turk, principal owner of Fitzgerald’s Hotel/Casino in downtown Las Vegas, is selling his operation to Don Barden, the Detroit entrepreneur who has a riverboat casino in Gary, Ind.

   A resident of San Diego, Turk said he wanted the Pala Indian casino to be the equivalent of a Las Vegas property. The 185,000 square foot casino will have 2,000 slot machines and 46 table games. The property also features six restaurants, two lounges and a 2,000 seat entertainment center that could be used for boxing matches, banquets or other functions.

   Originally, the Palas had planned a casino with Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) but the plans fell through. They then signed a gaming compact with former Gov. Pete Wilson that was so inadequate, in the minds of other Native Americans, that it resulted in ballot action that permitted the expansion of gaming on reservation land.

   The casino is located six miles east of interstate 15 on Route 76.

Detroit move supported

   Harry Curtis, senior gaming analyst for Robertson Stephens, sees the permanent casino being proposed for MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGG) in Detroit as a very positive move.

   “The riverfront site is appealing from the perspective of access, renovation of surrounding land parcels, and proximity to the GM building, so the area is likely to become a reinvigorated hub of commerce and tourist travel,” wrote Curtis in a Monday update.

   He was referring to the agreement by MGM MIRAGE with Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer to develop a permanent casino on the Detroit riverfront. Originally, all three license holders were going to relocate to the riverfront but because of skyrocketing land prices, Archer has settled on just one property.

   “The new resort can be with the casino on one floor, with 800 hotel rooms, and with outsourced restaurants. We view this development positively because, given that all three operators must make considerable incremental investment, MGM MIRAGE will operate on the best location for a cost not meaningfully higher than its competitors,” Curtis wrote.

Kyl bill returning

   While the Congress ponders Nevada wagering on college sports, Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona and Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia have announced they will re-introduce their respective bills to ban internet gambling.

   Kyl was successful in getting his Senate bill passed, but the measure died when the House failed to act before the legislative session ended last year. Both said they hoped to streamline their bills in order to get quicker action.

   Meanwhile, another Congressman, Jim Leach of Iowa, says he will re-introduce his bill that would prohibit the use of credit cards and other financial instruments in making internet bets.

   THE INSIDER: Penn National Gaming Co. (PENN) has received approval from Louisiana regulators to operate a riverboat out of Baton Rouge, La. The operation is being acquired from CRC Holdings Inc.

   Oregon lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit the use of credit cards, checks or electronic funds transfers in internet gambling. Similar legislation is being planned for the U.S. House.

   Marian Ilitch, a partner in MotorCity Casino in Detroit, Mich., with Mandalay Resort Group (MBG), has joined a group of investors who seek to get casino gambling approved in Hawaii.

   GTECH Holding Corp. (GTK) has sold three of its gaming contracts to Las Vegas-based Full House Resorts Inc. (FHRI).

   Michael Pollock’s Gaming Industry Observer has signed on as an official G2E publication. G2E, the first annual gaming event by the industry for the industry, will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center Oct. 1-3.

   Mikohn Gaming Corp. (MIKN) says it will take a charge of $3.2 million in fourth quarter of 2000 to accrue for the damages imposed by a recent lawsuit alleging patent infringement by Acres Gaming (AGAM).

   The New Jersey Casino Control Commission has approved cashless slot-machines proposed by International Game Technology (IGT) and Bally’s Park Place, a subsidiary of Park Place Entertainment Inc. (PPE).

   In order to concentrate on the Kutsher’s casino being proposed by its partner, Park Place Entertainment Inc. (PPE), the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe of New York State has shelved a proposal to build a casino with the Unity Development Group of Niagara Falls on Thruway Exit 21 in the Catskills.

   A strike involving 4,400 union workers at Casino Windsor was averted over the weekend when the two sides came to an agreement. The union workers were scheduled to vote on the agreement on Monday.

   JCC Holding Company, the operator of Harrah’s New Orleans Casino, has emerged from bankruptcy. There was no disruption in the operation of the casino.

   In a recent filing with the SEC, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) noted that its largest shareholder is Fidelity Investments or FMR Corp., holder of 11.3% of the outstanding shares. has developed a strategic alliance with Casino Careers Online.

   As soon as it gets approval to begin constructing a casino at Kutsher’s in the Catskills area of upstate New York, Park Place Entertainment Inc. (PPE) said it will refinance a bank loan with a $500 million bond to complete the casino it will operate for the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe.

   The hope of major gaming companies that Missouri would repeal the $500 loss limit for gamblers patronizing that state’s riverboats was dashed last week when lawmakers shot down the proposal.

   And, in Indiana, a move to permit dockside gambling was killed in committee, even before it reached that state’s Senate floor.

   VendingData Corp. of Las Vegas has acquired all the assets of Spintek Gaming Technologies Inc.

   Gaming analysts at Morgan Stanley have cut their ratings on Argosy Gaming Co. (AGY) from strong buy to outperform.

   Deutsche Bank Alex Brown has started coverage of two gaming companies with buy ratings. They are Hollywood Casino (HWD) and Penn National Gaming Co. (PENN).

   International Lottery & Systems Inc. of Carlsbad, Cal., said it showed a profit for year 2000 of $2.6 million, or 20 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $4.2 million, or 55 cents a share, a year earlier.

   Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN) said it has shelved its proposal to acquire New York City OTB operations in favor of joining forces with the New York Racing Association and its partner Television Games Network.

   Alliance Gaming Corp. pre-announced last week that the company will earn 60 cents per diluted share in its third quarter that ended on Saturday. That will bring earnings for the year to $2.00. Last year, the company reported a loss of 89 cents a share for the quarter and a loss of $1.47 for the year.

   International Game Technology (IGT) says it has completed its acquisition of Silicon Gaming Inc. (SGIC) in a cash-for-stock merger. Holders of SGIC stock will receive $0.119345 per share.

   There will be no more live racing at famed Garden State Park following completion of the thoroughbred race meet on May 3. The property has been purchased by Turnberry Associates of Aventura, Fla., and a firm from Berwyn, Pa. Turnberry is building high-scale apartments in Las Vegas and recently said it would develop a casino on the site of the former El Rancho Hotel/Casino.

   Sands President Al Luciani, who operates the property for billionaire investor Carl Icahn, has acknowledged that he has instituted a cost-savings plan to eliminate $8 million in annual costs. He also said the property had eliminated the positions of 35 management-level workers. The property recently cleared bankruptcy court.

   Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN) has been licensed by Louisiana regulators.