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MGM MIRAGE sets sights on UK gaming site

Jul 31, 2001 7:04 AM

Online gambling has found the critical eye of Forbes.com with one of its writers suggesting that the movement has passed gaming “goliaths” such as MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGG) and Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET).

“By the time they lumber onto the field, however, it could well be too late,” wrote Forbes’ Michael Noer last week.

Apparently, he wasn’t aware of the current efforts of MGM MIRAGE to seek an Internet gaming license from the Isle of Man, a semi-independent member of the United Kingdom. The island’s officials had indicated that they plan to offer as many as three Internet licenses that are being sought reportedly by as many as 11 different applicants from around the world.

Company officials have indicated that MGM MIRAGE would abide by operating rules established by the license grantor and would not do anything to jeopardize its standings in any jurisdiction in which it now operates.

The move by MGM MIRAGE comes as Nevada gaming regulators attempt to discern whether the state can authorize Internet gaming without violating federal law.

MGM MIRAGE has indicated that if granted an Isle of Man license it would not take any bets from the U.S. or any other jurisdiction where such wagers are prohibited. But, Nevada officials were quick to point out that American Wagering Inc. (BETM) felt confident it could follow that pattern but soon saw its security violated. BETM was fined and ordered to dispose of their Australian Internet betting company.

Even as both the House and Senate struggle with efforts to ban Internet wagering, the U.S. Justice Department has remained surprisingly quiet on the issue. During the Clinton administration, JD was adamant that the so-called Wire Act was sufficient to prosecute Internet bet takers. However, there has been no action by the JD since President George W. Bush entered the White House.

New “tote” contract

United Tote CEO Don Fuller announced Monday the signing of a contract with Sportsystems Corporation, a Delaware North Company, to supply pari-mutuel wagering equipment at the latter’s seven racetracks.

Identified as the tracks were: Apache Greyhound Park and Phoenix Greyhound Park in Arizona; Southland Greyhound Park in Arkansas; Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Melbourne Greyhound Park, in Florida; Finger Lakes Racetrack in upstate New York, and Wheeling Downs Racetrack and Gaming Center in West Virginia.

Fuller described the contract as a “noteworthy achievement for United Tote as it solidifies the company’s reputation for providing quality service and superior products.”

Speaking for Sportsystems Corporation, Ron Sultemeier, company president, said, “Working with United Tote, we will create a quality system that will work well for our patrons, our employees and our simulcast partners. United Tote has been very responsive to our needs and we are looking forward to a smooth transition and a long and fruitful partnership between United Tote and our racetracks.”

United Tote is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anchor Gaming (SLOT) which is being acquired by International Game Technology (IGT).

PurchasePro boost

Las Vegas-based PurchasePro (PPRO) received a boost on Monday with the announcement that Hilton Hotels Corporation (HLT), using PurchasePro equipment, has completed “one of the most successful and time efficient e-procurement installations in the world.”

Launched in July, 2000, Hilton’s proprietary hospitality marketplace, now includes 500 owned and managed member hotels across the Hilton family of hotels as active users and the online participation of 1,200 national and regional suppliers.

“In the first two quarters of 2001,” Hilton said, “Hilton’s e-Procurement marketplace, powered by PurchasePro’s e-Procurement software, has executed 29,788 purchase orders worth millions of dollars.”

Because of these results, Hilton said, the company received the honor of being named “2001 E-Business of the Year” by Internet Week magazine.

Casino construction

Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) has begun construction of a $125 million luxury resort hotel on the Rincon Band of San Luiseno Mission Indians reservation about 25 miles north of San Diego.

The project is expected to be completed and to open in the fourth quarter of 2002.

A Rincon spokesman said his tribe is looking “forward to working with Harrah’s to provide Southern Californians with a first-class resort offering superior service, great accommodations and a high-quality casino-entertainment experience.

The property will be geared to the residents of San Diego, La Jolla, Del Mar, Escondido and Orange County.

Finally jailed

Robert Brennan, founder of International Thoroughbred Breeders and the convicted stock manipulator, has been sentenced to nine years and two months in federal prison for bankruptcy fraud and money laundering.

Actually, Brennan has been incarcerated since his conviction in April on seven counts of bankruptcy fraud and money laundering in connection with his company, First Jersey Securities.

Brennan gained notoriety through television commercials of himself in a helicopter touting his penny stocks that allegedly he manipulated in order to push the stock prices upward in order to provide a profit for himself.

In the racing world, Brennan was prominent as the building and owner of Garden State Park and in the breeding industry with Due Process Stable.

THE INSIDER: Bellagio Resort Hotel in Las Vegas was named the fourth best hotel in the world by the readers of Travel & Leisure magazine. The results of the poll were announced in the magazine’s August issue. Bellagio is one of the premier hotel/casinos being operated by MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGG).

Moody’s Investors Service has assigned a B1 rating to the new $25 million senior secured revolving bank credit being proposed by Alliance Gaming Corporation (ALLY). Also the service placed a B2 rating on the $200 million debt of Argosy Gaming Co. (AGY) and a downgrade from B2 to Caa1 for the $125 million senior notes of Pinnacle Entertainment (PNK).