Conway, National flying up, up, away!

Apr 9, 2002 10:50 AM

CONWAY HEADED FOR MOON! Mike Conway, top gun at Las Vegas-based National Airlines wants to add three jets to his existing fleet of 15.

Attorneys for National, which is operating under Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection since December 2000, has asked Judge Linda Riegle for permission to lease one of the Boeing 757 aircraft from ILFC, a company that ­­already has a contract with National. Motions for the ­­other two planes are in the process of being filed for a hearing scheduled this week.

Conway has told the court the airline has the ability to make payments on the planes and not put pressure on its cash flow.

Conway told GamingToday that National would launch daily service to Seattle on May 23. The advance sale of bookings has made it necessary to introduce new aircraft into the fleet.

At the same time, Conway has reached an extension to the agreement in place with Harrah’s Entertainment (HET) for a $12.2 million letter of credit with US Bank.

TRIPLE SHOT A TRIPLE THREAT! Triple Shot — the popular game that combines War, 21 and poker — has been held over by popular demand. Sources report that the Shuffle Master creation had a “fantastic” 90-day trial run at the Treasure Island, and continues play today.

“It was one of the most successful field trials in years,’’ our pipe sang.

Once the Nevada Gaming Commission gives its final blessing this month, Triple Shot is set to go in at Harrah’s. It’s already in operation at a half dozen casinos around the country.

SLOTS FOR VISUALLY IMPAIRED! A line of slot machines is on the way for the visually impaired. It will feature the music and image of singer Ray Charles, whose blindness has not impaired his ability as an entertainment giant.

The new game is designed by Bally Gaming & Systems. It is unique. Braille dots on buttons and voice commands by an automated likeness of Charles make the games “America the Beautiful,” and “What’d I Pay?” playable with or without sight.

A spokesman for the slot company said the machines have been submitted to Nevada gaming regulators for approval.

Bally Vice President of Marketing Marcus Prater said the company would offer the game to all of its casino customers. It is expected that the games would be on the floor by late spring or early summer.

FAMILY FEUD? A power struggle between Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) and the company that owns Harrah’s New Orleans casino has erupted into a public war of words.

JCC Holding Company owns the land-based casino on Canal Street. Harrah’s Entertainment is trying to nominate more members than allowed to JCC’s board of directors and thus gain a majority.

Harrah’s Chairman and Chief Executive Phil Satre and Charles Teamer Sr., a New Orleans banker, were nominated to the board. It would give HET four members on the ­­seven-member board, if elected at JCC’s annual meeting to be held April 25.

JCC managers said, “no dice!” It would be a clear violation of agreements approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court last year.

“We hope JCC management will reconsider their position. If they do not, we will be forced to consider our legal options,” a Harrah’s Entertainment spokesman said.

Satre is a JCC board member up for re-election, and two other members were Harrah’s nominees ”” its central division president, Anthony Sanfilippo, and Eddie Williams.

MACAO TYCOON WINS! Stanley Ho will maintain and revamp his once-monopolized casino business in the Special Administration Region (SAR) for another 18 years after signing the new gambling license agreement with Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah.

Ho is the managing director of the Macao Gaming Holding Co. (SJM). He was one of the three successful candidates for casino licensing. The two others were Las Vegas-backed Wynn Resorts and Galaxy Casino Co. Ltd., A Hong Kong-Macao joint venture.

Negotiations on contract conditions are said to be underway between the SAR and Wynn Resorts and Galaxy.

CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN? Maybe that’s why Magna Entertainment (MIEC) purchased Lone Star Park in Texas, its 11th racetrack.

Magna and Churchill Downs (CHDN) are on a shopping spree. Word is that they each want to buy the Maryland Jockey Club, which owns both Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

It has little to do with racing, however. It’s mainly about slot machines at the tracks. Maryland is hoping for a change in politics that will bring the lucrative machines to horseplayers next year and both Magna and Churchill want in on the action.

Surprisingly, Churchill may get shut out in its home territory, Kentucky. A racetrack slot machine bill there seems to have gotten bogged down and may not get out of the state legislature this year, which adjourns April 15.

The picture looks brighter in California. Both Churchill and Magna have major holdings there and a move for a November ballot initiative to allow racetrack slots seems to be on the right track.

KING IN A GOPHER JERSEY: There wasn’t any exchange of goods in a wager between two state chief executives, only humiliation. Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who favors sports wagering, challenged Maine Gov. Angus King to wager on the outcome of the NCAA Hockey Championship.

Whichever governor lost would have to wear the opponent’s jersey to work on Monday.

Maine Black Bears lost in overtime, 4-3. Ventura now awaits a photograph showing King wearing the jersey of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Goods were exchanged in a wager between Maine Congressman John Balducci and Minnesota Congressman Martin Sabo. As the loser, Balducci must provide Sabo with a Maine lobster dinner.

There was no word from NCAA headquarters relative to the governmental officials wagering on the outcome of a college sports event.