Las Vegas makes
Macau connection!

Jan 8, 2002 9:17 AM

WHO’S RUNNING THE SHIPS?: “You might have thought it was a gathering of Las Vegas casino operators Monday in Macau,” reported our Far East pipe.

“Sheldon Adelson from The Venetian probably was the most visible of the execs but there were people there from Mandalay Resort Group (MBG), Park Place Entertainment Corp. (PPE), MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGG); the Steve Wynn organization, and Larry Woolf’s Navegante Group.

“Surprisingly, most of the top execs didn’t show. You know, people like Mike Ensign of Mandalay; Tom Gallagher of Park Place, Terry Lanni of MGM MIRAGE and Steve Wynn, but they were represented by some top people. Of course, their absence made Adelson more prominent, as well as the local star of the show, Stanley Ho, who has just completed a two-decade monopoly in Macau casino management.

“There must have been 60 reporters and photographers on hand and at the conclusion of the hearings they flocked around Ho, the aging casino giant.

“Plans call for three licenses to be awarded with 18 applicants still in the running. Many consider Ho as an odds-on favorite to get one of the licenses but that may not be the case.

“Appearing to be well-received at his Monday hearing was Adelson whose proposal includes building a hospital.

“Woolf, whose Navegante Group successfully opened the temporary Casino Niagara in Ontario, Canada, represents a group of U.S. investors known as the Lucky 9.

“Don’t know yet when the selection committee will be ready with their recommendations but we’ll stay on top of it,” the pipe promised.

  BUCKING THE ODDS: When the idea to put slots at some of  New York racetracks was first proposed, few people thought that it would happen in Saratoga.

“You know, the bluebloods and all those bigwigs at the New York Racing Association thought that having slots at Saratoga Racecourse would be like putting a girlie show at the Vatican. They know they could call the shots for The Spa but they forgot all about Saratoga Raceway, the trotting track,” explained our upstate New York observer.

“For the past few years, the harness boys have been struggling to stay alive so when the opportunity arose to put video lottery machines they tried to jump at the chance. Of course, the opposition has been terrific but weakening.

“Saratoga harness still has to survive public hearings but the early indication seems to be that the county officials will give them the green light,” he predicted.

CAN YOU FEEL THE TRADE WINDS, YET? Looks like casino gaming has taken another step forward on the beautiful Hawaiian Island of Oahu. One of the Islands most influential labor unions has come out in favor of locating a casino at Ko Olina.

Jobs, jobs, jobs. That’s what the union in counting on.

Sun International Holdings (SIH), operators of the beautiful casino Atlantis on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, says that such a casino would create 3,500 construction jobs and more than 11,000 direct and indirect permanent local jobs.

Hard for a union, especially Local 142 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, one of Hawaii’s largest labor organizations, to ignore.

So far, opposition to the creation of a gaming operation remains strong but Gov. Ben Cayetano is on record as saying he will sign legislation that allows a single casino to operate in Hawaii.

A CHARMING NEW JOB: Our old friend and former Gaming Control Board Chairman Steve DuCharme has taken a position with WMS Gaming Inc. as a regulatory consultant. That’s certainly an area in which he has expertise. DuCharme will advise the Chicago-based slot maker on regulations, compliance and corporate expansion.

DuCharme, who served on the Control Board for 10 years, retired a year ago. He has been an instructor at the National Judicial College in Reno and sits on the Board of Directors of the Vestin Group, a Las Vegas mortgage company.

SOUND THE ALARM: Last week’s announcement that the feds will place in trust land that the United Auburn Indians can use to build a casino near Sacramento, Cal., already has Reno casino operators wringing their hands.

“How many Reno customers do you think will continue to travel from the Sacramento area to come here?” asked one operator. “If they build a Las Vegas-styled casino with all the slot machines that we are offering here, the competition will be overwhelming,” he said.

Adding to competitive fear is the fact that the property will be operated by Station Casinos Inc., a company that has grown because of its ability to attract what Las Vegas describes as “local” customers.