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Battle brewing over Phone-bet accounts

Dec 11, 2001 8:14 AM

HORSE TALK IN THE HALLS: “Checking the seminar agenda probably would have you thinking that horse medication was the principal topic of conversation at last week’s racing symposium in Tucson, but in the hallways, the attendees were talking about the head-to-head conflict developing in California,” said our Arizona pipe.

“Come January, or possibly a month later, California will get the OK to begin making bets by telephone from home or elsewhere. The legislation has become law and it now needs only to have regulations developed to guide and license the betting mechanism providers.

“The law was passed not so much to help the tracks but to generate more state tax revenue, but a major hurdle may hurt revenues. That’s the hang-up between TVG, the company that currently provides live racing pictures and betting opportunities to players in several states. They have a betting hub in Oregon.

“TVG also has the support of both Churchill Downs (CHDN), owner of Hollywood Park, and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA). But despite talks that have gone on for 11 months, TVG has not been able to come to an agreement with Magna Entertainment International (MEIC), owner of Santa Anita, Bay Meadows and Golden Gate. Magna plans to have its own hub betting facility.

“So, without a change of heart, these two giants are going to force players to subscribe to two separate betting services if they want to play the country’s major tracks. Sure doesn’t look like that’s in the best interest of racing,” he said.

NO TIPPING THE CIVIL SERVANTS! Was that Mayor Oscar Goodman flipping burgers at Wendy’s on West Flamingo Avenue last week?

“It sure was,” said our well-fed pipe. “The mayor was dressed in a full Wendy’s uniform and used his charm and modest political muscle to secure $1 contributions from customers.”

Is the mayor working a second job, or is the city in dire financial straits?

“Not quite. It’s all part of a fund-raising drive for charity. I was happy to donate my buck, and I’d rate his service as above average. But I wouldn’t want Oscar to give up his day job!”

AWFULLY LONELY, OUT FRONT: Phil Ruffin, Sr., has been losing money at his dog track in Wichita, Kansas. So, he has been trying to point out to that state’s politicians that not only isn’t it necessary for his operation to go begging, but the state could both expand the employment picture and add to the state’s revenue base if it would only reconsider slots at the track.

Ruffin knows whereof he speaks. He currently operates the New Frontier Casino on the Las Vegas Strip and the Crystal Palace Casino in Nassau, Bahamas.

His Wichita dog track lost $118,000 last month. “You keep doing that because if you do get slot machines, you do make money. And, you also create jobs,” he explained.

But, politically, Ruffin has been getting very little help in his efforts.

“Gambling has been stigmatized by conservative lawmakers who say it will lead to broken homes and a rise in prostitution”¦That’s just ludicrous. They’re (the politicians) not interested in creating jobs. They’re not interested in creating revenue for the state,” he maintains.

A WISCONSIN BUST: There were no “cheeseheads” in court last week when prosecutors in Madison, Wisconsin, prosecuted two men who were charged with violating the Wire Act betting law by accepting bets on the Internet.

Convicted were Duane Pede from Amherst Junction, Wisconsin, and Jeff D’Ambrosia of Henderson, Nev. They ran a business called Gold Medal Sports out of a Caribbean location.

The case was not unlike one that took place earlier this year in New York State where operators of an offshore Internet betting ring were convicted of accepting bets that originated in New York.

HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD: That’s what some Wall Streeters have been saying about Hollywood Casinos (HWD) of late. A few more eyes popped last week when the company’s Aurora, Illinois, riverboat reported an increase of 19.8% in gaming win for November. True, most of Illinois reported increases for the period but the Aurora jump was outstanding.

Still, buyers weren’t impressed on Monday. The stock opened at $9.05 a share and fell a nickel on very light trading. In the past 52 weeks, Hollywood Casinos has traded as low as $5.50 and as high as $15.00 a share.

TIME RUNNING OUT FOR EDWARDS: “You’ve got to hand it to Edwin Edwards,” noted a rosebud in a recent call. “He’s 74-years-old and faces a long jail term but they haven’t locked him up yet.”

Edwards, former governor of Louisiana, was convicted along with his son and business associates of demanding extortion money in the granting of riverboat casino licenses.

“But, the latest filing could be his last hope of avoiding jail time. He’s been filing appeals since his conviction a year and one-half ago but they have all been denied. Some people seem to feel that if he strikes out this time, he’ll head straight for the hoosegow.

“It may be that the ”˜teflon’ label he’s been wearing will be all worn out,” she added.

ALLIANCE CULTIVATING ROSY PROJECTIONS: Alliance Gaming Corporation (Nasdaq: ALLY) expects record revenues when it announces its fiscal results for the second quarter ending December 31, 2001.

An in-the-knowster said Alliance will post record revenues in excess of $145 million, EBITDA of $28 million, and diluted earnings per share of a respectable $.50.

The news gets better ”” for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2002, Alliance is projecting diluted earnings per share in the range of $1.79 to $1.84.

The company is also excited about the regulatory approval granted by New Jersey for its revolutionary hybrid slot, the Evolution Series (EVO) platform. Now that the system is approved, Alliance began delivery of its new wide-area progressive games, Popeye, to five Atlantic City casinos over the last three weeks. Installation at an additional five properties is scheduled over the next four weeks.

Based in Las Vegas, Alliance Gaming designs, builds, operates and distributes advanced gaming devices  and systems for the casino and gaming industries. It also operates two casinos and one of the largest gaming routes in the nation.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CASINO NIAGARA! Congratulations to the folks at Casino Niagara, which celebrated its fifth anniversary on Sunday.

Since opening its doors in 1996, Casino Niagara has hosted more than 40 million visitors with its revenues soaring to more than $2.5 billion. Can you imagine what it would be in American dollars!

Seriously, they’ve done a great job at Canada’s most popular casino!