Foxwoods slots sets $$$ record in July

August 21, 2001 8:07 AM
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            Continuing a success story that began more than eight years ago, Foxwoods Resort Casino, considered by many to be the most financially successful casino in the world, reported that July was the busiest month in the casino’s history.

            The one-month record of $73.8 million was accomplished during a period that saw a month with one fewer weekend than last year, which was the property’s previous record-holder.

            Bill Sherlock, president and CEO of Foxwoods Resort Casino in southeastern Connecticut, was ecstatic in making the announcement.

            “The numbers point to a tremendous acceptance of our slot product, including our new spectacular Slots 360 and our newly reopened Slots Down Under.

            “Since last July, we have added nearly 600 additional units for our customers and they are flocking to them. July is typically a busy month, but this one was nothing short of spectacular,” he said.

            In addition to the new slot rooms, and 562 additional slot machines, the casino has completed major refurbishing of the property during the past year. The new look includes a modernized food court that offers additional seating and a sparkling new decor, and an upgrading of guest rooms in the Great Cedar Hotel, one of the three hotels on the property.

            As a result of the record slots business in July, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, owners of the casino, turned over to the state $18.4 million, raising to $1.3 billion since Foxwoods began offering slots to its customers in January, 1993.

            Shortly after the property opened, then CEO Mickey Brown heard that Connecticut Gov. Lowell Weicker was having trouble balancing the state’s budget, which was a requirement by law. At the time, Foxwoods was operating with the benefit of slots. Brown offered the proposition that if Weicker would agree to permit Foxwoods to install slot machines, Brown would turn over 25% of the proceeds to the state with a minimum guarantee of $100 million annually.

            Weicker agreed. From the very first year, Foxwoods exceeded the guarantee.

            When Mohegan Sun was built just eight miles from Foxwoods, the Mashantuckets agreed to modify its agreement with the state permitting Mohegan Sun to install slot machines, as well.

            The result was a bonanza for the state coffers.

Wall Street’s eyes

            A group of leading gaming analysts will participate in a panel discussion, “Wall Street Eyes Gaming,” at the 15th Annual World Gaming Congress and Expo set for Oct. 17-18 at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas.

            Leading the discussion will be Jason N. Ader of Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. He will be joined by his associate, Marc J. Falcone; David Anders of Merrill Lynch, Harry Curtis of Robertson Stephens, Larry Klatzkin, Jefferies and Company, and Andrew Zarnett, Deutsche Banc. Moderating the discussion will be Joe Weinert, gaming writer for the Press of Atlantic City.

Litigation likely

            Any hopes the owners of a gaming license in Illinois had of selling that license for a profit were dashed last week when the Illinois Gaming Board indicated it would not recognize any such transaction. In fact, regulators said they hoped Emerald Casinos Inc. would surrender the license to avoid litigation.

            Unlikely, said the owners, who had participated in conversations with MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGG) about establishing a riverboat casino in Rosemont, a suburb of Chicago.

            MGM MIRAGE officials, caught in the middle of the flak, said they would discuss the matter with state regulators before going further.

            Emerald Casinos Inc. operated a riverboat shortly after being granted a license several year ago but the casino went bust. However, the operators retained their gaming license and suggested they would transfer it to a site in Rosemont. When the matter came before the Illinois regulators last year, Emerald was found to be unfit to hold a gaming license. And despite the company’s pursuit of a buyer for the state’s 10th and last casino license, regulators have insisted they would conduct an open bidding process. Observers have suggested that the bidding process would trigger a lawsuit, thus postponing the awarding of a license by at least five years.

Harrah’s on top

            A newly-remodeled Harrah’s North Kansas City Casino & Hotel drew record crowds to the Kansas City, Mo., facility during the month of July, thus developing the second highest gaming revenue for the area. A total of $50.5 million was won by the four casinos, second only to the $54.3 million won in March.

            The new casino, Harrah’s Mardi Gras, was the big attraction. The new vessel replaced the older North Star riverboat which Harrah’s Entertainment Corp. (HET) moved to its Metropolis, Ill., location. This was the first time that Harrah’s outdrew its rival, Ameristar Casino Hotel. In recent months, Ameristar usually attracts more people but Harrah’s has higher revenues.

            Ameristar has its own remodeling project going on. The company is removing the walls that separate its River King and River Queen vessels in order to establish one large casinos floor of about 115,000 square feet.

Sneak preview

            Home Gambling Network Inc. of Las Vegas, a subsidiary of i2corp.com presented several “sneak preview” demonstrations of its patented method of live remove wagering in Atlantic City last week.

            “These demonstrations,” explained Chris Almida, president of i2corp.com, “gave us the opportunity to see reactions from a live audience and fine tune the presentation. The application itself performed flawlessly and we are pleased with the work that 3V has done and the performance of the Hello Networks Hellolive streaming media component.”

            The company holds a patent that covers remote wagering on live games and events with electronic financial transactions.

            THE INSIDER: Aladdin Gaming, the Las Vegas Strip’s newest megaresort, reported a lost of $20.4 million during the second quarter. Following the announcement, the company said it was working with the Bank of Nova Scotia in an attempt to relax debt payments during the next 12 months.

            Shuffle Master Inc. (SHFL) says it will hold its third quarter conference call on Thursday, Aug. 23. The call will be available on the Internet via live webcast at 222.shufflemaster.com.

            According to press reports out of Atlantic City, MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGG) is planning to build a resort on the H-tract property it acquired with the purchase of Mirage Resorts. Currently under construction is The Borgata, a $1 billion joint venture between Boyd Gaming Corp. (BYD) and MGM MIRAGE. When Steve Wynn, former chairman and CEO of Mirage Resort bought the land from the city, he had plans for three resorts for the property.

            After months of negotiations, Starnet Communications International, a subsidiary of World Gaming plc, and Canadian authorities have reached an agreement whereby the company will agree to a single charge of violating the Canadian criminal code. As punishment, the company will pay a fine of $100,000 plus a $15K surcharge.