WHEN YOURE HOT, YOURE HOT! Thats what they say. Believe it! Right now, International Game Technology (IGT) is hotter than a Fourth of July firecracker. The giant slot machine maker has all the elves it can find busy making slot machines to supply Indian casinos in California. It seems as if there is ambiguity between the number of slot machines Gov. Gray Davis had in mind for the tribes and the number they may actually receive.
Gov. Davis apparently intended to allow the tribes to have a total of 45,000 slot machines. But, right now, that certainly isnt the clear message being sent. And, as a matter of fact, some of the tribes may double, triple or even quadruple that number. But, they have a deadline in May to meet when the ambiguity is a cinch to disappear.
It came as no surprise Monday to find shares of IGT closing at $51.72, up 27/8 in nearly double its average daily volume. A total of 1,129,600 shares were traded Monday vs. a daily average of 684,772.
IGT was a shoe-in to be the main benefactor in a rush for more slot machines since they lead the way in the industry. Is it any wonder that Wall Street gaming analyst Harry Curtis is urging buyers to buy even more shares. One insider says he wouldnt be surprised if the shares hit $70.
I dont know about that. Id look more for a stock split. Either way, when youre hot, youre hot.
SHUFFLING OFF TO BUFFALO! A rosebud who keeps us up to date on whats going on in Albany, N.Y., whispers that the Seneca Nation and Gov. George Pataki are working on plans for gaming compacts to allow casinos in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Having lived a number of years in between the two Western New York cities, I have only one regret. I wish the Seneca tribe were looking for an investor. Here is an area of the country where people love to gamble.
REMEMBERING JAMES BOND! It seems as if International Game Technology (IGT) is coming with a new video slot machine based on an Austin Powers game.
International Man of Mystery will begin appearing in Nevada casinos sometime this week.
"The game is designed with the goal of making players laugh, maybe even gasp," explained Joe Kiminkow, vice president product development.
The design team took technology near the limit, using numerous clips from the two Austin Powers movies and filling nearly 100% of the audio card with scores of different sound bites. To ensure players get to enjoy all of the games zany antics, the designers built in a high-hit frequency. Thanks to the large cast of bonus scenes, the game experience is never the same twice.
Want an example?
One bonus round features the alluring Fembots and their weapons of choice. In the Henchman Bonus, players help Dr. Evil eliminate his incompetent subordinates by flipping selected henchmen backwards into a pit of flames. Appearances of the movie characters are sprinkled generously throughout the game.
"Our goal at IGT is to make the game easy to play, difficult to master," Kiminkow said. "The objective is to keep players returning time and again, because playing is both fun and challenging.
Said a pipe: "Oh, fun and games!"
DAMN THE TORPEDOES, FULL SPEED AHEAD! There are rosebuds and pipes by the score. And, there is a handful of each who I go to the wall with when they speak.
One in-the-knowster, who fits into the latter category, continues to tell me that despite all the negativity (torpedoes), the Aladdin is going full speed ahead.
"Theyve racked up another strong weekend. Cash registers rang loudly in the casino. There will be heads on the pillows of nearly 96-97% of the beds at the resort for the month of April," said the source.
He added: "Rumors may be getting stronger that other casinos (Park Place Entertainment?) are rattling their sabers. Its probably true. But, I see that more as a positive than a negative. No one in their right mind follows an empty truck."
CELINE HEADED FOR CAESARS? The silver-throated Celine Dion is rumored to be poised to ink a deal for a long-term run with Caesars Palace. According to an insider, Celine will come out of semi-retirement if the deal is right.
"Celine has always been a fan of the resort, and she would like to resume her career there," the insider said.
Although the details arent set in stone, it is said that Celine will headline in her own showroom, which has yet to be built.
"Celine likes everything about Caesars," said the insider. "She frequently dines in the upscale restaurants with her husband, Rene Angelil, and celebrated her anniversary there last year. It would be a nice match having Celine at Caesars."
LESS THAN A GRAND NATIONAL! While America looked toward China to release the 24 military personnel taken into custody following a collision of airplanes, Brits were hoping to beef up their betting handle on the Grand National steeplechase race.
For the first time, the Saturday race was telecast to China where some 200 million people were expected to watch the event. Also, Internet bookmakers William Hill and Ladbroke expected to get a big chunk of the betting, which some felt would exceed $145 million, a world record. Racing conditions were described as deplorable and only four horses of the 40 starters were able to finish. The winner, Red Marauder, was 33-1.
The addition of China to the Grand National telecast was expected to swell the worldwide viewing audience to 600 million, making it the largest horse race viewing audience ever.
"IT AINT NO MIRAGE!" Thats what a rosebud said when she called to tell about the phenomenal success overcoming The Mirage hotel.
"I hear from an insider that the numbers to be reported this quarter are apt to blow everyones socks off!" the rosebud said.
What goes? I cant get a peep out of management.
The rosebud added: "Theres a lot that has to be said for their entertainment menu - Danny Gans, Sigfried and Roy, and dont forget the dolphins. But, even though they have stiff upper lips, my guess is that management has plenty to do with it."
THEYRE GETTING THE MONEY, HONEY! "Dont expect the Strip properties to apologize for the strength of the first quarter when they start reporting their numbers," said a Wall Street wag.
"Its true the gaming end didnt seem to be setting any records, although January was really good. But things are different today. What they may lack in gaming revenues they should make up for in room revenue.
"Just a cursory look at some of the properties indicates that revPAR, thats revenue per available room, should be strong. That means that the visitors who were here may not have gambled as much as in the past, but they had no problem paying a higher rate per room.
"That may not help the second quarter, however. Indications are that second quarter revPAR will be lagging. Plus, the bigger companies will be going against tough comparisons that will be impacted by higher energy costs.
"So, it looks like a flat to higher first quarter, followed by a tough second quarter," the Wall Streeter predicted.
LOST AND FOUND! The Peppermill Hotel/Casino in Reno falls in line with many resorts where millions of visitors leave behind personal items.
The one that caught my fancy was the guy who walked out of the hotel and left his hairpiece behind!
NEW NAME, SAME AIM! The Gaming Manufacturers Association (GAMA) has changed its name to Gaming Standards Association (GSA).
The international trade association was originally comprised of only gaming system manufacturers. In 1999, it opened membership to casino operators and suppliers alike.
It is felt that the new name is a more accurate representation of what GSA is and what they do.