Stick and stay, it’s bound to pay!

November 20, 2001 9:18 AM
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            YOU GOTTA HAVE FAITH! “Anyone who had faith in Las Vegas and the ability of its casinos to recover from the September 11 terrorist attacks have been laughing all the way to the bank,” chuckled our Wall Street pipe.

            “That is, provided he put his money where his faith was,” he added.

            Very quickly, he rattled off some of the 9/11 low points: MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGG) $18.24; Mandalay Resort Group (MBG) $15.25; Park Place Entertainment Corp. (PPE) $6.50; Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) $23.52 and Station Casinos Inc. (STN) $7.70.

            “As of Monday,” the pipe said, “those same stocks were trading as follows: MGM MIRAGE $26.80; Mandalay Resort $22.25; Park Place $8.40; Harrah’s $33.85, and Stations $10.44.”

            He then went on to note that the manufacturers have done even better. Especially, International Game Technology (IGT) from $38.10 to $62.46; Anchor Gaming (SLOT) from $35.88 to $61.93; WMS Industries (WMS) from $15.87 to $20.00; Shuffle Master Inc. (SHFL) from $10.30 to $16.02, and Alliance Gaming (ALLY) from $10.80 to $24.25.

            “So you didn’t have to be a Warren Buffet to make money in this market . . . just have faith in Las Vegas and the companies that are doing business here,” he concluded.

            CLEAN HANDS! Robert Coulter, a dyed-in-the-wool slots player, got tired of getting dirty hands playing his favorite pastime. So, he invented a device that collects winnings from the machine and eliminates the dirty job of scooping the coins by hand. He pegged the idea EZPay 1 Slot Machine Coin Chute.

            His device clips onto the edge of the coin tray on stand-up slot machines and channels coins from the machine into the player’s collection cup. Coulter says he has received favorable reviews of the product from Nevada and Mississippi gaming regulators.

            Not one to rest on his laurels, Coulter is also working on a new product to help deer hunters. It’s a retractable rope device that clips to a hunter’s belt to facilitate hunting.

            AIRLINE REBOUNDS SHARPLY! National Airlines traffic figures are in the air and soaring. Mike Conway, chief executive, told GamingToday that the airline reported a load factor of nearly 79% in October. That was up 10% over the same month a year ago.

            At the same time, National announced it would add daily flights to Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles and San Francisco beginning Dec. 21.

            The airline said it would purchase smaller aircraft to fly short routes to L.A. and San Francisco. Presently, National operates a fleet of 15 Boeing 757s.

            “HIP, HIP, HOORAY!” That’s the sound coming from Bill Timmins’ executive office at the Aladdin Hotel. It follows the decision by bankruptcy Judge Clive Jones to approve a $50 million financing plan for the bankrupt Aladdin. It figures to keep the Strip resort open through the end of next year.

            Explained Timmins: “It is a key step in our plans to put the Aladdin in a positive cash flow.”

            One insider viewed the approval as a go for the Aladdin to operate comfortably while working on a plan to reorganize or sell.

            At the same time Aladdin Gaming minority owner London Clubs International told of a deal struck with the Brits to be free from paying $150 million to bankers because of the Sept. bankruptcy filing.

            HOLDING HANDS! St. Regis Mohawk Indians will hold hands with Park Place Entertainment (PPE) to build and operate Kutsher’s Country Club in Monticello, N.Y.

            “We’re optimistic that if things go reasonably as we expect, we should be able to break ground next year and open sometime in 2004,” said Tom Gallagher, Park Place chairman.

            The project has a $500 million price tag. It includes a 750-room hotel. It is planned that the state would receive up to 25% of gross profits from slot machines. After the payments, 70% of casino profits would go to the tribe and 30% to Park Place.

            TRIBE VS. CALIFORNIA CARD ROOM OPERATORS! A federal judge in Sacramento will decide if California gives American Indians an unfair monopoly on Nevada-style gambling. Card room operators, who can’t offer the same sort of slot machines and table games, are up in arms. They argue that federal law bars California from letting tribes offer casino-style games that are banned elsewhere in the state.

            “The state cannot permit gaming only on Indian lands,” a Washington, D.C.-based Constitutional attorney alleges. “Congress did not intend to give Indian tribes monopoly rights.”

            CASINO ISSUE HEATING UP IN KENTUCKY! A weakened economy is prompting the horse racing industry to drop its opposition to casino gaming in the Bluegrass State. It’s a serious in-road for casinos to have the horse racing industry soften on this issue. The Sport of Kings stood strong against casino competition. Then the first riverboat casino docked near Metropolis, Ill., across the Ohio River from Paducah, Ky.

            Now, with six nearby riverboats threatening their very existence, racetracks are crying uncle. They want slot machines with proceeds to help underwrite purses.

            OUCH! Tribal casinos are threatening the Northern Nevada economy. A large, modern, California Indian casino (Cache Creek Indian Bingo and Casino) about 45 minutes northwest of downtown Sacramento is playing to a packed house with 1,150 slot machines and 80 table games. On a recent Monday afternoon, all 1,500 spaces in the parking lot were filled with cars and tour buses.

            “Customers are flocking to the slot machines,” said a source. “They won’t even leave the machine to go eat. We’re over capacity with respect to the devices.”

            CASE IN POINT! This year’s Breeders’ Cup was billed as the World’s Thoroughbred Championships and few who witnessed the events would argue that it truly was a World Class racing day.

            However, let’s hope that this year and in the future a horse is not disqualified from Horse of the Year voting because an injury prevented him or her from competing in these classic events.

            Case in point is Point Given. A tendon injury led to his retirement, thus keeping the entire world of racing wondering whether he would have been able to win the at Belmont on BC Day.

            Back-to-back victories in the Breeders’ Cup Classic is a major feat, but Tiznow’s record in 2001 of three wins in six starts, including only one other Grade I in the Santa Anita Handicap against a weak field also has to be considered.

            No question, Point Given will be voted America’s top three-year-old but, it says here, he accomplished enough in winning four straight Grade I’s to wit: the Preakness, the Belmont, the Haskell and the Travers, to deserve honors as Horse of the Year.

            CAST IN STONE? New Hampshire supporters are still trying to find a way to introduce slot machines to the Granite State. They’ve been spurred on by the recent legislation in New York State that will permit Indian casinos and racetrack slots.

            “A group of big-time gambling supporters, mostly Democrats, met secretly recently to bounce around ideas that would win votes from some legislators that are unhappy with the way the state is funding, or better still under-funding, the state’s education expense,” reported a state lawmaker.

            “They’re aware that the next session will probably be their last chance to get something done. (Gov. Jeanne) Shaheen is for it, but it’s likely that her successor will not be since nearly all the candidates are opposed.

            “Putting slots in the racetracks would be a bonanza for Park Place (Entertainment Corp/PPE) since their loan agreement, made originally with Showboat, gives them 50% of the slots action at Rockingham Park, the state’s biggest track.”

            But, will it happen?

            “We’ll know by the end of the 2002 session,” he said.