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National Airlines plans new service to Seattle

Feb 26, 2002 7:44 AM

National Airlines, confident that it will be successful in working its way through bankruptcy proceedings, has announced a new service between its home base of Las Vegas and the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The service will begin on May 23 and will include three non-stop rountrips.

In making the announcement, Mark Suman, senior vice president for strategic planning remarked, “We are looking forward to bringing our brand of quality service to the Pacific Northwest. As is always the case when National Airlines enters a new market, we will enhance competition which ultimately results in better service and more affordable fares.”

National said it would utilize the Boeing 757 aircraft, each in a dual-class configuration with 22 seats in first class, and operate out of the South Satellite concourse at Seattle-Tacoma Airport. Also, the airline is offering members of its frequent flyer program, National Comps, double points for tickets purchased by May 31, 2002 for travel to or from Seattle. Travelers can join the program online at {www.nationalairlines.com} or by obtaining an application at any National Airlines ticket counter.

Another feature, said Suman, “National offers travelers free stopovers in Las Vegas in either direction when making connections at our hub, providing customers with two trips for the price of one.”

Among its amenities, National offers seats with increased legroom and overhead storage space throughout the cabin. The airline has been recognized for outstanding customer service by Conde Nast Traveler magazine and the Zagat Airline Survey.

“Growth Story”

The marriage between Autotote, a leader in the racing totalizator business as well as lottery services, and Scientific Games, the country’s top supplier of instant lottery tickets, provided a veneer that saved the company from the economic downturn of 2001.

Instead of watching its share price fall, as many of Wall Street’s darlings did, the new Scientific Games Corp. (SGM) saw its price nearly triple in value.

“The company has delivered on the promise of the potential of the merger and investors have responded,” said one analyst, who noted that the price has risen from somewhere around $3 a share to more than $9 a share.

“It continues to be a good growth story and they’ll continue to see success,” the analyst added.

Boding well for the company, said Brooks Pierce, vice president, is the growing need for states to raise revenues to reduce budget deficits. “We can leverage the technology that we perfected in the racing business and bring it to the lottery business,” Pierce said.

During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2001, the company reported earnings of $0.04 a share compared to a net loss of $0.32 a share a year earlier.

Shuffle Master growing

Growth in both table game placements and recurring slot revenue were seen as positive indications for the future of Shuffle Master Inc. (SHFL), the Las Vegas-based gaming supply company.

Also looking up, said Mark Yoseloff, chairman and CEO, was the “near-term demand for shufflers.” Because of growing interest, he said, the company had stepped up its response to its King shufflers now capable of handling five decks of cards. A free conversion kit is being made available to customers who have four-deck shufflers and are looking to upgrade their units.

Although revenues increased for the reporting period, the company said, there also was an increase in the research and development expense, thus the earnings per share were a flat $0.14 a share.

However, the company reported that installed slot games exceeded 800 units; installed table games exceeded 1,300 units; recurring revenue increased to $9.9 million, the 17th consecutive quarterly increase, and gross margin was 74.1%.

Family feud

Law suits flew last week as a family feud involving the founders and operators of Hollywood Casino Corp. (HWCC), the company with riverboat casinos in Illinois, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Subject of the suits are Jack Pratt, the founder and former CEO of the company; William Pratt, former general counsel and a shareholder named Harold Simmons. Leading the suit against them is a nephew, Edward Pratt III, who now serves as company chairman and CEO.

The suit alleges that the two uncles and the other stockholder plotted a proxy battle for control of the company without filing the proper forms with the SEC. Also, the suit charges Jack Pratt of misappropriating funds and breach of fiduciary duties.

The Insider

Gaming revenues were flat for the last fiscal year, the Nevada Gaming Board reported, but combined net profits increased by 12%.

After getting the courts to agree that the licensing process for casinos in Detroit was flawed, the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians said it hopes to be able to bid for one of the city’s three gaming licenses when the process resumes.

MGM Grand Detroit once again led Detroit’s three casinos in total gaming revenues for the month of January. According to the Michigan Gaming Commission, MGM Grand won $35.2 million while Âí­MotorCity Casino followed with $33.3 million. Coming in with $26.1 million was Greektown Casino.

The Nevada Gaming Commission last week unanimously approved the gaming license of Brian Gamache, president and CEO of WMS Industries (WMS). Gamache apologized for failing to list a drunk driving arrest on his license application. However, he pointed out that he had disclosed the incident to Nevada investigators.

Mayors of small communities surrounding Rosemont, Ill., have urged the governor to resolve the gaming license problem with Emerald Casino. The small communities have been promised sizable annual payments from a riverboat’s profits.

Acres Gaming has received an order for its Boning technology from Archon Corporation, operator of the Pioneer Hotel & Gambling Hall in Laughlin, Nev.

Mandalay Resort Group Inc. (MBG) said it would release its fourth quarter and year end financial information in a conference call on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

A Missouri state senator has proposed legislation dropping the state’s $500 loss limit. But, the plan also calls for an increase in the admission charge would be increased to $3 from the current $2.

Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. (PNK) says it still plans to use its 15th and last Louisiana gaming license to locate a riverboat casino at Lake Charles despite plans by an Indian Tribe to build a Las Vegas-style casino in the area.

Steve Wynn told Reuters News that he plans to announce his plans this week and that the financing from the project should be in place within six weeks.

The Pacific Exchange has begun trading stock options in MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGG). The options are trading on the March expiration.