WMS to develop PAC-MAN video slot

July 24, 2001 7:02 AM
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PAC-MAN comes alive as the gaming industry’s newest video slot machine!

In a Monday announcement, WMS Gaming Inc., a subsidiary of WMS Industries Inc. (WMS) said it would partner with Park Place Entertainment Corp. (PPE) in introducing its PAC-MAN-themed participation video slot machines throughout North America.

WMS said it planned to submit its first PAC-MAN game to regulatory agencies for approval later this year.

Once approved, the machines will be installed exclusively at casinos operated by Park Place Entertainment. The first placement is expected to be at Bally’s in Atlantic City.

When the exclusivity period ends, WMS said it would install additional units in other casinos in the jurisdictions where regulators have approved the machines.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Power struggle

Remember the old game shows when the host would make a comment about some man’s strength and the audience would shout, “How strong is he?”

That scenario seems to be playing out on the floor of Congress where a battle is taking place regarding whether the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians will be permitted to acquire 10 acres in San Pablo, Calf to expand a card club into a full-blown casino.

The card club, built by the English gambling firm, Ladbroke, and later sold, is coveted by not only the Indians but also by the prominent Pennsylvania sports entrepreneur, Sam Katz. Current arrangements permit Katz and his partners to be eligible for 15 percent of the total profits while an operating group would receive a similar amount. The remaining profits, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions, would accrue to the Tribe.

The issue nearly failed to become public when a California Congressman, George Miller, added an innocuous-looking amendment to a bill dealing with Native American issues that was working its way through the House. Simply stated, the amendment would have permitted the Tribe to acquire the 10 acres occupied by the San Pablo card club and convert it into a Las Vegas-styled casino.

But, the amendment was brought to the attention of Sen. Harry Reid, the Nevada senator who wrote the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and is now the Senate Majority Whip. Reid said the amendment violated the IGRA provisions and vowed the fight the measure. He has some big-time supporters in his fellow Nevada senator, John Ensign, as well as California Gov. Gray Davis and California Sen.Dianne Feinstein.

Katz, using his political acumen, has lined up some well-known Republican lawmakers as well as some highly-visible lobbyists. Also swinging strongly on his side is Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Chief counsel for the committee is Patricia Zell whose husband, Michael Cox, is the counsel for the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union that is strongly supporting the Lytton effort. Modest growth

Las Vegas experienced modest growth for the month of May, according to numbers released by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

During the month, the visitors volume was recorded at 3,068,916 or 0.7percent highest that last year’s 3,047,649.

Despite the modest increase, room occupancy levels showed negative growth. Total occupancy was listed at 88 percent compared to last year’s 90.3percent. This was partly due to the increase of 3,400 rooms over the reporting period a year ago.

Also affecting room occupancy was the decline in convention attendance which was down 13 percent. Still, May saw gaming revenues increase by 10.6 percent in the Las Vegas area.

At McCarran International Airport, the total number of passengers recorded increased by 3.7 percent over last year’s figures. And at the Yermo Inspection Station in California, automobile traffic was up 10.9 percent. Land dispute

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe of Connecticut has developed a proposal to settle a long-standing land dispute with three eastern Connecticut towns. The proposal would temporarily limit the Tribe’s expansion and provide money to the towns.

The Pequots operate Foxwoods Casino, believed to be one of the most successful casinos in the world.

Under the proposal, the Tribe will offer a 35-year moratorium on adding new land to their reservation beyond an additional 880 acres. Also, a payment in lieu of property taxes for certain land will be added if it is not fully reimbursed by the state or federal governments.

The town and Tribal leaders will be meet on Aug. 20 to continue negotiations regarding the proposal.

Las Vegas tips

So far, Gerry Kingen has been successful in the State of Washington with his restaurants but now he’d like to take a leaf out of the Las Vegas playbook and transform his restaurants into casinos called “Funsters.”

Current card rooms, he says, are located in dank, dark settings with an attached bar and coffee shop. But, Las Vegas has shown that the secret to attracting customers is to make them entertaining, thus his restaurants will be converted into “fun” locations.

Helping develop his fun themes is Greg Thompson, who produces theatrical productions for Reno, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. Plans for each evening to feature a certain theme such as Mondays, sports; Tuesday, country night; Wednesday, ladies’ night; Thursday, karaoke, and Friday, hit tunes.

THE INSIDER: The Illinois Gaming Board is expected to approve on Tuesday the bid of Argosy Gaming Co. (AGY) to buy the Empress Casino from Horseshoe Gaming’s Jack Binion. In an earlier decision, the Board, with two members recently replaced, ordered Binion to sell the Empress when it determined that it would not grant a gaming license to Binion.

Although most casino companies have reported positive results for the second quarter of the fiscal year, Hollywood Casino Corporation (HWD) has warned that its second quarter will be down substantially. It anticipates EBITDA, earnings before depreciation, amortization, interest taxes and non-recurring items to be in the $14.5 million to $15.5 million range. Last year, the company’s EBITDA was $18 million.

Zoning officials in Charles Town, West Virginia, have approved the $40 million hotel being proposed by Charles Town Racetrack even though the structure’s height will be 87 feet.

Scientific Games Corporation (SGM) has received a three-year contract to provide instant tickets and related services to Norsk Tipping AS of Norway. Also, the company said it had received an order for 230 terminals and software from the British Columbia Lottery Corporation.

Harry Curtis, chief gaming analyst for Robertson Stephens, has upgraded his rating on International Game Technology (IGT) to “strong buy” from “buy.” He has a 12-month target of $75 a share.