Laughing all the way to the bank: CRYP

Jul 3, 2001 8:47 AM

LAUGHING ALL THE WAY . . . to the bank! While the country agonizes about the legality of Internet betting, a Canadian company based in Toronto is enjoying a handsome run-up in its shares.

CryptoLogic Inc. (CRYP) makes the software and offers the know-how to get anyone into the online gaming business overnight.

For 100 large - that’s $100,000 - the company provides the software and will create a web page to get an Internet bookie ready to go.

Wait! There’s more. The Internet entrepreneur has to pay CryptoLogic about one-third of its monthly win.

In January CRYP was selling at $7 a share. It’s at $22 and growing.

With Nevada giving its blessings to Internet betting - although approval is still pending with the gaming authorities - CRYP projects a 25% growth in revenue and 45% net margin by 2002.

BINGO! The growth of bingo in the gaming industry continues to soar. A report from Michael Holder, bingo boss at Foxwoods Resort, clearly indicates that bingo has been a hit since day one at the Connecticut casino. What started out as a 1,667-seat hall now seats 3,500 bingo players.

"Besides that," said a rosebud, "Foxwoods offers the only high-stakes bingo in the state - toss in the rest of New England, too."

Four or five times a year, bingo players at Foxwoods have won $1 million on a single game. On Saturday, Foxwoods will celebrate its 15th anniversary with Firecracker Bingo. It will feature a game at $250 a head.

Interested? Forget it! It’s already sold out with players coming from as far away as Texas and South America. More than $750,000 in prizes will be handed out with a super jackpot of $300,000 and cash prizes of $7,500 to $25,000.

Bingo was the first successful business the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe ever had. Bingo began in 1986, six years before the casino opened in 1992. (Editor’s Note: Beginning Aug. 14, GamingToday will focus its editorial cannons on the coverage of Bingo each and every week.)

INSIDERS SELLING? It was recently learned that three insiders at Harrah’s Entertainment (HET) have sold significant shares of company stock. Marilyn Winn, a director, has filed to sell 40,127 shares valued at about $1.5 million. Jan Jones, a vice president and spokeswoman for Harrah’s as well as a former mayor of Las Vegas, filed to sell 17,310 shares worth about $644,573. And, J. Kell Houssels, also a director, has sold 10,000 shares for $349,500. It leaves him owning 3,613 shares.

ARE SOME PEOPLE JUMPING SHIP? "Some unusual activity showed up in the trading of Anchor Gaming (SLOT) stock over the past couple of days," reported a Wall Street pipe.

"After several weeks of what appeared to be normal activity, the shares suddenly tanked between Friday and Monday. From a close of $64.62 on Friday, shares fell to Monday’s opening number of $58.20. From there, a slight rally took the price to $59.30, but it fell to $56.50 before closing at $57 a share.

"Recently the number of shares traded daily has been rather weak, but on Monday, 225,100 shares changed hands.

"Analysts said they saw no immediate reason for the drop in price, adding that the company is estimated to earn $3.53 this year and $4.42 a share next year.

"Still, when stocks move suddenly the way Anchor Gaming did over the past couple of days, it suggests investors take a closer look.

"That’s what we plan to do," he said.

TOO FAR-FETCHED! Rumors of a fire sale scenario of Harrah’s Entertainment (HET) and its New Orleans casino make no sense.

So say many of the Wall Street gaming analysts. And, GamingToday heartily agrees.

What may have begun the rumor was the recent appointment of Paul Debban, managing director of the investment firm Seidler Cos. in Los Angeles. He was picked by Phil Satre and the HET board over several other board members or someone with casino operating experience. Debban’s firm is a significant investor in the New Orleans casino.

Let’s face it, anything’s for sale if the price is right. But, our pipes and rosebuds insist that Satre isn’t giving up the fight. He believes that with a fair tax structure the property can make money.

"There’s no doubt that dreams that the casino could generate nearly $1 billion annually were - excuse the expression - pipe dreams," our New Orleans pipe reported.

He continued: "Placing someone with financial know-how such as Debban possesses tells me that Satre and company have miles to go before they sleep."

"MARKER DOWN!" That’s what a pipe said when he called to inform that the Aladdin Hotel made the $4.9 million payment to its bankers last Friday.

Commented a rosebud: "The Aladdin has been getting a lot of bad press lately. I think someone is fanning the flames. Maybe that someone has an eye on the resort. If the price lowers, the deal could be sweeter."

PLAYERS LOVE ”˜CHEEZE!’ You don’t have to be a whale, explained a pipe, but it helps in getting an invite to view the Miss Hooters International Swimsuit Contest.

It happened at the Rio last week when 84 Hooters waitresses from across the USA competed in the contest.

"Don’t think that cheesecake doesn’t still attract. It does. The Hooters contest at the Rio was only one of many swimsuit contests held annually in Las Vegas," said a pipe.

Is it any wonder that GamingToday continues to publish its Back Page Girl each week to the delight of readers - both male and female? There had been complaints, but the newspaper decided to conduct a survey before scrapping the back page feature.

It was no contest. The Back Page Girl won by a big margin. Cheeze is still in.

CAN YOU USE A LITTLE HELP? There are two seasoned gaming executives who are standing by to come to the rescue. The company is Luery & Alesia Consultants. Darrell Luery and Gerry Alesia have formed a partnership to provide assistance mainly in the gaming and hospitality industry. They are specialists in bringing companies in sick bay back to the mainstream.

Luery was largely responsible for the comeback staged at Regent Hotel. Ditto Bally’s in the days before the late Arthur Goldberg bought the Strip Resort.

Alesia owned and developed a number of Kinko copy centers in Las Vegas. He has also served well on the front lines at a number of major casinos, including Caesars Palace, Bally’s, Tropicana, Frontier and Main Street Station where he was casino manager.

LAST OF THE MOHEGANS? The Mohegan Tribe is on the warpath wrestling with the question of whether it should close its membership rolls to newcomers. The tribe was granted federal recognition seven years ago and now it’s time to close the rolls to everyone except the lineal descendents of existing members. The Mohegans now number about 1,470 members. They are entitled to an annual stipend of $12,000, plus health, education and housing benefits. Said one member who doesn’t want to close the doors: "What if a Mohegan baby was given up for adoption and finds out later in life that they have Mohegan blood? Will it be too late for them? Yes, it will, and that’s not right."

For the amendment to pass, the majority of at least 30% of the tribe’s registered voters would have to vote in favor of it. That could happen at a July 15 meeting.

IT’S A DONE DEAL! The buyout of Casino Data Systems (CDS) by Aristocrat Leisure Ltd., a Sydney, Australia-based slot machine manufacturer, was completed last week.

"Aristocrat paid $180.5 million ($9.25 per share) for the casino software company," said a pipe. He quickly added: "Expect big things and look for Aristocrat to give all the other slot machine manufacturers a run for their money."

Aristocrat, with offices in Las Vegas, has also named Mark Newburg, president of Aristocrat Technologies Inc., the company’s American subsidiary.

NO MORE BIRTHDAY CANDLES FOR THIS GUY! Don’t go adding 78 candles to Sumner Redstone’s birthday cake. The chairman and CEO of Viacom (VIA) and its many holdings told CNBC’s Bill Griffeth that "52 would be more like it."

The Boston-area native, who built the family’s outdoor theater chain into one of the world’s largest media giants, was on television to peddle his new book, "A Passion to Win." Redstone says the title came from his "obsession to succeed."

He said that he agreed with those who say that "bigger is not necessarily better . . . but acquiring CBS sure as hell made us better." He touted the network’s many successful shows and said that if advertisers wanted to put their products before the consumers they had better choose CBS.

"And, there will be more to come," he advised. "We anticipate enormous internal growth."

Redstone is also the largest single stockholder in WMS Industries Inc. (WMS) and Midway Games Inc. (MDY).