Stations’ Ranch is Another big winner!

Dec 24, 2001 8:24 AM

SEEING THE GREEN: Kudos galore were heard throughout the opening night party at Green Valley Ranch Station Casino Tuesday night. The “oohs and aahs” were heard in nearly every little conversation group.

But the definitive description of the property must be credited to Bobby Siller, retired FBI agent who now serves on the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Said he, “The property is beautiful”¦in fact, it’s the neighborhood Bellagio.”

AND, SEEING MORE GREEN: More kudos to Bruce Turner, the former Wall Street whiz who left brief retirement to take the helm of the foundering GTECH Holding Co. (GTK).

Shortly after Turner was appointed to the company’s board of directors, the firm’s two top executives resigned, leaving a rudderless ship. The board elected Turner to be its chairman and named him interim CEO. Over the next 12 months, Turner turned things around and set the groundwork for a huge surge in stock value. Shares prices rose from the mid-teens to the recent mid-40s.

Once back on an even keel, the company searched for a permanent CEO and Turner was content to go back to his job of heading the board.

Now, it appears time for Turner to cash in on his good work. He recently sold 80,000 shares he had been offered as stock options receiving proceeds of $3,261,350. Last week, he filed to sell another 100,000 shares with estimated proceeds of more than $4 million. Turner received the options at prices ranging from $17.06 to $26.

NOW THE GREED FACTOR SETS IN: When the New York lawmakers proposed permitting racetracks to install slot machines on their facilities, track operators jumped with joy. But, the elation soon moderated when they found out that they would run the slots but the state would get most of the money.

Language in the bill permits the tracks to hold between 12% and 25% of the video lottery terminals gross revenues. But when a little trotting track like Buffalo Raceway began tallying the cost of installing about 750 terminals, track officials found that they would have to shell out between $2 million and $3.5 million.

And, Barry Schwartz, the czar of the N.Y. Racing Association, which plans to put the slots in their Aqueduct facility, added, “It will be more expensive to get going than anybody thought.”

But, if all the machines finally do get operating, the state’s cut will be about $400 million.

“That might be killing the golden goose before she lays her eggs,” said one wag.

OLIVE OIL, WHERE’S THE SPINACH: Al Copeland could have used some reinforcements last week when he allegedly was punched out by a New Orleans businessman who turned state’s evidence against ex-Gov. Edwin Edwards, and claimed he bribed his former buddy to get a Louisiana riverboat license.

Robert Guidry and his two sons have been charged with battering Copeland, whom Guidry beat out for the gaming license. Guidry is on probation and a conviction in this case could send him up the river.

Seems taunts exchanged at a steak house between Copeland, founder of Popeye’s Famous Fried Chicken franchises, and Guidry prompted blows to be thrown. Caught in the middle was Copeland’s fourth wife who is six months pregnant. Both Copelands were hospitalized.

And the Edwards’ saga goes on and on. Maybe he should have advised Copeland to stick to chicken instead of steak.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING, IT SEEMS: For a Wisconsin woman, a delayed flight out of Dallas, Texas, cost her a cool million.

Barbara Huffman, a retired legal secretary, patronized three casinos operated by the Ho-Chunk Tribe of Indians in Wisconsin and qualified for the second annual Million Dollar Giveaway contest. However, the person selected must be present to win the prize.

Because of a flight delay, Huffman’s plane landed in Madison at ll:30 p.m., too late to make the trip to the casino for the drawing. Sure enough, her name was drawn in her absence.

When advised that she would have become an instant millionaire had she been at the casino, she remarked, “Oh, my word. That makes me ill.”

HE’S BAAACK, HE’S BAAACK: That’s Len Ainsworth, not a terribly well-known name in the gaming industry, at least, not in the U.S. But in the rest of the world, he’s legendary.

Ainsworth founded the Aristocrat gaming machine company in Australia and guided the company to become a world-wide giant. Except in the U.S., that is. In fact, when Ainsworth attempted to get Aristocrat licensed in Nevada a decade ago, he was advised to back off. He did.

Then about three years ago, he left the company and others took over. A move to the U.S. and ultimately a Nevada license would follow. Now Aristocrat USA is distributing its slot machines in several states.

But, Ainsworth wasn’t done. He recently formed a new venture in Australia and is taking his company public. Because of his successful history, the initial stock offering was over-subscribed. And, his first machine, the Ambassador poker device, already has a 1,000 orders waiting to be filled.

But, Aristocrat is not taking the competition lightly. It recently introduced the new CashMan poker machine and the battle has become ferocious.