Chasing Hi-End biz not in cards!

May 15, 2001 9:19 AM

THE CHASE IS OFF! "We’re not going to chase the high end at the Las Vegas Hilton," Park Place Entertainment (PPE) top gun Tom Gallagher told investors following a shareholders meeting last week at Paris hotel.

Gallagher said Park Place is successfully repositioning the Hilton as a convention and meeting destination. He referred to the convention business as bread and butter.

Gallagher also made it perfectly clear that "the Hilton is not for sale. We’ve been to that movie."

DISNEY IN WIN, PLACE & SHOW BIZ? The great Walt Disney is long gone. And, based on the newest direction his heirs are taking, it might not be so bad. The guy who gave us Mickey Mouse, Disneyland and Walt Disney World was far removed from the world of gambling. Not his heirs. They are now backing a pay-to-play, online gaming venture set to launch next month that will offer players the chance to win up to $1 million.

Poor Walt. The man who developed the motion picture media as a modern American art, would be apt to not think kindly about a venture that raises eyebrows and smacks of Internet gambling.

Dick Glover, an executive vice president in Disney’s Internet Group, sees no harm in the gaming venture.

"We want to be as far away from any sort of gray area as we possibly can."

I wonder what Minnie and Mickey think about that?

If it’s such a great idea, does it need to carry the Disney name?

FIRST CLASS CITIZEN! Ken Rosevear, president MGM MIRAGE (MGG) development, is now a U.S. citizen.

The long-time casino home run hitter is a native of Africa who now sings "Yankee Doodle Dandy" with the best of us.

WMS ON A ROLL! Don’t think too lightly of gaming analyst Leo Rishty’s target goal of $33-36 a share for WMS Industries (WMS). I’ve been singing the praises of WMS for some time. I even invested a dinero or two. I like the way the Nicastro family does business.

In last week’s edition, we talked about how WMS Gaming Inc. is holding hands with International Game Technology (IGT) to develop and market slot machines based on the hot TV show Survivor. There are over 20 million Survivor fans and viewers. And, according to Brian Gamache, president and COO of WMS Industries, it further strengthens the company’s gaming reputation as one of the top suppliers of premier, entertainment-based, participation gaming products.

WMS closed Monday at 22.5, up 1.99, far above its 52-week low of 8.67.

GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDS? And - from what I can tell - they also prefer gentlemen’s clubs. So, don’t be surprised when you read that several Strip properties are looking in that direction.

We first reported on this phenomenon last September. And, it’s not going away.

Where would they be looking? To their lord and master, where else? Expect that state gaming regulators will be queried. And, don’t be surprised to learn that they get the nod as long as it’s not in the casino proper. After all, how could a casino player be expected to remember to split aces with his eyes on more tantalizing subjects?

NO SMOKING, PLEASE! Foxwoods Resort, the world’s largest, will introduce 40 new EZ Play slot machines by International Game Technology (IGT). The resort has chosen one of its smoke-free casinos to house the new attraction.

KEEP THE MONEY COMING, HONEY! Lady Luck took a stroll during the baccarat sessions on the Las Vegas Strip during the month of March, but fortunately, volume made up the difference.

Baccarat revenue was up only $1 million for the period over March 2000, but with a decline from a hold of 21.9% to 17.2%, this month could have been a disaster. However, thanks to a 31% increase in play volume, the number came out on the plus side.

The baccarat play also helped the Strip casinos experience a 5% increase in gaming revenue for the month, even though slot revenue only showed an increase of 2.8%.

GOOD-BYE FOREVER . . . dear Garden State Park! When Peg Rushton, a fleet-footed filly, crossed the finish line last week at Garden State Park, it ended an era of thoroughbred history at the Cherry Hill, N.J. racetrack, which dated back to July 1942.

The house that (Eugene) Mori built that was once a playground for such great horses as Citation, Bold Ruler, Dr. Fager, Secretariat and so many others is history.

Soon steel fangs will clear the beloved racing center. Developers will turn the 223-acre site into a $500 million mixture of condominiums, shops and offices.

The track’s beloved announcer, the late Morris Tobe, must be yelling at the top of his voice - "Say it isn’t so!"

DON’T TOUCH THAT A/C DIAL! "Looks like the energy crunch could put a triple whammy on Las Vegas," said a pipe.

"Consider that the car count from California was down nearly 5% during March. That was probably the reason the slots revenue during the month was soft. But, it might be only the beginning.

"Then, some properties placed energy surcharges on their rooms, but if fewer people come to town, they’ll have to drop the price of the rooms.

"And, the summer heat will have air conditioners working on overtime.

"Some analysts expect the two big Strip companies - MGM MIRAGE (MGG) and Mandalay Resort Group (MBG) - to see their earnings per share fall between 12 cents and 16 cents by year end . . . If only the end were in sight."

NEARING THE FINISH LINE! The Ciri Group, 50% investors of the new 350-room Hyatt hotel at Lake Las Vegas, has just about dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s.

They are a nose away from the wire to completing the multi-million dollar resort deal.