Cantor to apply high-tech at new resort

Jul 8, 2008 6:59 PM

Gaming Insider by Phil Hevener | Cantor Gaming expects to display its high-tech capabilities at the M Resort when the first phase of the billion-dollar hotel and casino opens next year.

This week’s announcement would seem to put a focus on issues about how new technology may be applied to engineer important new revenue streams with a lot of customer appeal in an area of the casino where there have not been a lot of new offerings.

Because this deal involves the M, the future for whatever Cantor brings to the table could be very big, assuming all goes as planned. That’s because MGM Mirage is an investor in the M project that currently appears to be on target for a March 1, 2009 opening.

An MGM insider who declined to go into details of the proposed Cantor plan said, "You know there is something really interesting in the works here because you just do not see the sponsors of a billion-dollar resort turning their race and sports book over to an outsider like Cantor.

The announcement comes this week even as the Cantor continues testing its wireless hand-held gaming devices at the Venetian. Cantor will be selling the Venetian system elsewhere as soon as gaming regulators sign off on the test procedure. It’s a process that could require several more months.

But the mobile/wireless gaming being tested at the Venetian appears to represent no more than a first step toward the future compared to the systems Cantor expects to have installed at the M when it opens next on South Las Vegas Boulevard near St. Rose Parkway.

The plan that Cantor officials are making public this week involves "a server-based gaming system with full back office infrastructure and an extensive portfolio of games," whatever that may mean.

Here’s Cantor’s explanation of what it expects to do at the M Resort: "Guests at the M Resort will not only be able to play on hand-held devices in designated areas throughout the resort but will also be able to bet in unique ways in the race and sports book."

M’s chief operating officer Joseph Magliarditi said, "We want to provide our guests with the best over-all gaming experience available."

Yes, there are still a lot of details to come.

But Cantor led the way some five years ago in pushing for the legislation that opened the door to wireless gaming and the first tests at the Venetian.

MGM agreed some 14 months ago to invest about $160 million in the M. This investment is in the form of a subordinated convertible notes that can eventually be converted to a 50 percent interest in M, depending on how certain conditions develop, which gives MGM a good reason to pay attention to what Cantor is planning at the M. But the Cantor announcement this week raises more questions than it answers.

The potential for bringing new ideas to race and sports books has drawn the attention of a lot of special interests, including a company that has as one of its principals former Cantor chief Joe Asher, who was very hands-on in Cantor’s Nevada operation up until his departure last year.

It will be interesting to see what both firms put forward in the form of race and sports wagering. Asher, and his Brandywine race and sports management operation, has vowed to become the state’s cutting edge sports shop with attractive lines, high betting limits and other inducements.

We’ve yet to see what Cantor has in store for race and sports betting via its wireless/mobile network.

Maybe there will be a parallel between the two companies, maybe there won’t. We’ll have to wait and see what unfolds.

Penn sets sights on Vegas

Penn National Gaming execs are closer than ever to finding a niche in the Las Vegas casino business following the news that the public company’s $67 a share buyout by two private equity companies had collapsed.

But Penn is not coming away from the deal empty-handed, which is where the references to Las Vegas come in. Penn is getting a $225 million breakup fee and $1.25 billion in the form of a seven-year, zero coupon, redeemable preferred equity investment.

The way CEO Peter Carlino assesses the company’s position, "The cost of capital for gaming is very high and we’re gonna have a lot of cash at zero cost."

As for Penn’s interest in Las Vegas, he said, "It’s probably stronger. It’s looking better. A year ago you couldn’t buy your way into town, but the fact our options have increased does not mean we’re gonna do anything foolish."

Various sources say the company has recently been looking at the local market possibilities.