For example, take the recent whispers flying to and fro that Barron
Hilton is thinking about purchasing the financially ailing Las Vegas
Hilton from Park Place Entertainment (PPE). Barron owns nearly eight
percent of Park Place. But, keep in mind that he was the father of the Las Vegas
Hilton. It was the very first Hilton resort in the casino business when it
opened in 1976.
From what I hear, he woke up in shock when he realized that he had given
the late Arthur Goldberg the OK to sell off his pride and joy to Las
Vegas business tycoon Ed Roski.
That sale was thwarted and is now deeply involved in
litigation. Roski wants to go forward. Park Place and/or Barron Hilton don’t
One insider told me that the Las Vegas Hilton ”” if
properly run ”” is a moneymaker. It sits next-door to the mighty Las Vegas
Convention Center, which continues to grow by leaps and bounds ”” make that
about a 50% expansion.
Look what Sheldon Adelson did with the Sands
Hotel. It sits in the shadows of the Sands Convention Expo and has
had nothing but success.
Oddly enough, I think the sale to Barron Hilton will
drive up shares of PPE. Wall Street may not be focused on the turn around that
convention hotels have made in the past 10 years.
A rosebud ”” wise to the ways of Las Vegas
casinos ”” thinks the whispers aren’t worth a dime.
“They (rumors) walk like a duck, talk like a duck and
are as daffy as a duck. In my opinion, it would be a major conflict of interest
in light of the fact that Barron would be competing against the Park Place
properties he has a stake in.”
PSST! CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? That’s what a pipe
asked. I don’t know why? He went on to tell me that a well-known systems
company is about to merge with a mighty gaming vendor company with multi-billion
“When the merger is complete,” the pipe
continued, “it will shadow IGT (International Game Technology).”
Wow! Tell me more.
“Not now. But, you’ll be the first to know,” the pipe
What a tease!
HELP, MURDER, POLICE! Harrah’s Entertainment (HET)
wants the “high sheriff and police” to ride after Station Casinos (STN)
for allegedly infringing on Harrah’s patented Total Rewards promotion.
“I hear the folks at Harrah’s are plenty hot. Its
Total Rewards program has been a huge success by taking care of loyal
customers,” said a rosebud.
More: “Its U.S. patent covers technological
innovations, which Harrah’s claims underlie the program. Total Rewards is
available at Harrah’s 21 properties in 17 markets.
“From what I hear, the lawsuit alleges that Station’s
Boarding Pass is in violation of Harrah’s patent. They want the court to grant
them a permanent injunction,” the rosebud added.
Stay tuned. The resolution of this lawsuit could send
ripples throughout the casino industry. You can bet that a number of casinos ””
seeing how successful Total Rewards has been ”” have ideas of their own. After
all, stealing casino customers from one another is nothing new in the biz.
But, HET won’t give up easily. The company also filed
action against Stratosphere alleging that the Carl Icahn group
violated its customer tracking system that rewards customers for slots play.
Ah, to be a lawyer in Las Vegas!
ON THE GROW! The Club Cal Neva has added a new
satellite betting parlor ”” the new Siena Resort in downtown Reno.
“It’s an upscale property and is among the 15 sites
doing business under the Cal Neva banner,” said a pipe.
IT’S A DOG-EAT-DOG BATTLE! And the outcome, thought to
have been in favor of Magna Entertainment Inc. (MIEC) as recently as last
Friday, remains unresolved as of today.
The other big public corporation involved is Churchill
Downs Inc (CHDN) and the prize is the New York City Off-Track Betting
Corp. and its more than $1 billion in bets per year. When New York City boss
Rudy Giuliani was elected, he found the NYCOTB in poor shape. He even
remarked, “This is the only bookmaker in history that loses money.” He
ordered NYCOTB sold to the highest bidder.
Initially there were six bids, but they were whittled
down to two ”” powerful Frank Stronach’s Magna Entertainment and the New
York Racing Association with its partner, Churchill Downs.
Although NYRA had a lot of friends in Albany, Stronach
went one better ”” he hired powerful lobbyists with inside ties to both Mayor
Giuliani and Senate President Frank Bruno.
That, in my book, makes Stronach a big fave
in this match-up.
BADDA BING! Millennium Management, led by Bill
Wortman and Bill Paulos are happy campers these days. The local Las
Vegas gaming figures operate Greektown Casino in Detroit. Numbers
released last week show Greektown, the newest of the city’s three casinos (MGM
Detroit, Motor City and Greektown), up nearly 33% from its
first month of operation.
“There are 2,400 slot machines with an average win of
$213 (per machine) in June,” said a source. “Table games average $2,133 per
day. June revenue was $22 million.”
A look at the figures clearly shows that Greektown is on
the move. However, MGM Detroit still leads the way, even though its revenue of
$30 million was down 4.7% from a year ago. Motor City enjoyed a 2.7% increase
when revenue hit $28 million in June. Its 2,495 slots averaged a win of $263 per
day. The 104 table games averaged $2,705 per table ”” up 34% from last June.
ANOTHER REDSTONE WINNER? Leave it to ever-young Sumner
Redstone to find the companies with cutting-edge technologies. The media
magnate moved into WMS Industries (WMS) and Midway Games (MDY)
long before they became hugely successful with new products.
Now, he’s involved with Hollywood Media Corp. (HOLL),
a multi-faceted technology company that has been motoring with its
MovieTickets.com. By going to the company’s Internet site, moviegoers can buy
their tickets online and avoid potential long lines at the theater, or possibly
a “sold out” sign.
The online tickets feature a bar code that tells the
whole story. By merely presenting the bar-coded ticket at the movie house or
even in some cases just by taking the ticket to a theater usher an admission is
Redstone, who has a 30% equity interest in HOLL, has
signed MovieTickets.com for his 98 Showcase Cinemas. Actually, the Showcase
Cinemas are owned by National Amusements, another Redstone gem. And the
beat goes on, and on . . .
CONNECTICUT COMMOTION! Two casinos vs. 12 casinos,
which would you take?
When you look at the total revenue in both markets, New
Jersey draws more business ”” $2.1 billion ”” even though it’s a decrease of
1.1% from the same period last year.
In Connecticut, where the Indian casinos report only
slot revenue to state regulators, the Mohegan Sun reported a jump of
14.3% over June 2000 for a total of $52.6 million. Foxwoods Resort
revenue was up 9%. It totaled $64.5 million.
“Take your pick,” said a