Fulton having time of his life buying race horses

May 28, 2002 5:33 AM

When Stan Fulton, founder and principal stockholder in Anchor Gaming Inc. decided to leave Las Vegas and follow his dream, he arranged as part of his sale of stock to the company that he would buy Sunland Park Racetrack in New Mexico. The track was part of the deal involving Anchor Gaming’s acquisition of VLC, another gaming machine manufacturer.

Once free to pursue his new calling, Fulton went all out to improving both the facility at Sunland Park and its racing program. He also took advantage of the legislative approval for the installation of slot machines at the track.

He was so delighted with his new responsibility that he even applied for a license in Hobbs, N.M., when the state’s racing regulators agreed to consider a new track for that community.

But the past month, Fulton reportedly had the time of his life when he went to Keeneland Race Course for the spring sale of two-year-old thoroughbreds. When he left, he had spent $1,310,000 for three horses, including $850,000 for the sales topper, a son of Unbridled’s Song that has been named Ocillator.

Advising him at the sale was Darby Dan Bloodstock’s Tim McMurry who described the colt as a "man among boys."

Fulton said he decided to enter the owner’s ranks after seeing how much his friends enjoyed owning horses.

Interviewed by Deirdre B. Biles for Blood Horse magazine, Fulton described his recent endeavors as "living a dream. I used to tell everyone I was too smart to ever own a racehorse, but when you catch the fever, there’s nothing you can do about it. Lordy, I’m just like every other human being who thinks about racing in Kentucky in early May. Next year, I want to be 75 miles west of here (at Churchill Downs). That’s my goal."

Actually, this wasn’t Fulton’s first appearance at a horse sale. Last year, he began his stable acquisition by buying some two-year-olds at Barretts Sale in California and later he bought five yearlings at the Del Mar yearling auction.

Asked what his goal was, Fulton replied, "I’d like to have, oh, probably, a hundred horses in my stable."

A former Las Vegas gaming community competitor remarked that Fulton "never wanted to do anything in a small way."

Prior to selling his interest in Anchor Gaming, Fulton donated upwards of $6 million for the construction of the Gaming Research Institute building at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Nelson expanding

Eric Nelson, the Las Vegas real estate auctioneer who broadened his business enterprise, Phoenix Leisure Corp., to include both racetracks and gaming properties, is buying the Playfair Race Course in Spokane, Washington.

Three years ago, Nelson bought Wyoming Downs racetrack and its off-track betting facilities from long-time racing executive Joe Joyce. He also had made a bid for a track in Vermont but the deal never materialized.

Nelson said the Playfair corporate name would be Cleopatra Horse Racing and Casino Inc. Nelson currently operates four card rooms in Washington under the Cleopatra name.

In order to devote his full attention to the Playfair project, Nelson said he has withdrawn from the daily management of his other gaming operations.

His task won’t be easy. The east Spokane racetrack has shut down in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2001 because of financial problems.

Tax sales drop

According to figures released by the Nevada Taxation Department, sales in March fell 3% when compared to the same month a year ago. This followed the first two months of the year when sales were reported as flat.

The decline in sales for the Las Vegas area was less severe. The state officials said sales in the Las Vegas area fell just 1.6% in March but the numbers from bar and restaurants sales increased 1.5%.

Officials said that in order for the state to meet its budgetary requirements there would have to be growth sale of at least 6% going forward to the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

New Miss. Hotel

It hasn’t taken long for the former racetrack company, Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN) to make its presence felt on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Last week, the company announced it had completed "on-time and on-budget" a 291-room hotel and convention center at its Casino Magic Bay St. Louis casino resort in Bay St. Louis, Miss.

The company acquired the property in August, 2000, and immediately announced plans for the expansion. Ground breaking for the project took place in April, 2001.

Peter Carlino, company chairman and CEO, said the development places Casino Magic Bay St. Louis in a position of becoming the "most comprehensive casino resort on the Mississippi Gulf Coast." He said the property now has 500 hotel rooms, 40,000 square feet of gaming space, several restaurants, and a championship golf course.

Striking Gold?

It used to be strictly a "gold" company but a couple of years ago, the Houston, Texas, based Nevada Gold and Casino Inc. (UWN) changed focus to concentrate on casino gaming rather the mining business.

The company isn’t entirely out of the gold business but has transferred the responsibility of its share of gold leases to other companies for development.

As for its gaming interest, which include Colorado gaming operations, Nevada Gold is partnering with the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians in the controversial River Rock Casino, near Sacramento, Calif.

Preliminary construction has begun on the site but nearby property owners have filed lawsuits with the intent of preventing the casino from being built. Lawyers for the tribe have insisted that the project is both legal and sound since it will sit on tribal lands.

Nevada Gold and Casino Inc. is the largest shareholder among a group of investors that will hold 51% ownership of the casino. The tribe will hold 49% and has agreed to pay its outside investors 20% of the casino’s net revenues for five years.

Pechanga upgrade

In the southern part of California, the Pechanga Tribe will shut down its hodgepodge of gaming buildings near the city of Temecula and will open a $262 million Las Vegas-style casino resort.

The new facility includes a 522-room, 14-story complex that will house 2,000 slot machines, 63 table games, and a 700-seat bingo hall.

The casino project had the full cooperation of the City of Temecula whose leaders have described the facility as adding several new dimensions to the community.

As part of the new complex, the Pechangas have built a convention center that local authorities said will put Temecula on the map.

JCM’s Cash Box

Currency handling manufacturer JCM American Corporation (JCM) recently installed its new Intelligent Cash Box system at the MotorCity Casino in Detroit. The system integrates the casino’s existing slot floor with its accounting system, ensuring accuracy and guarding against errors during the soft drop and soft count processes. The ICB is a combination of cash box, docking station and printer.

The Insider

The Mandalay Resort Group Inc. (MGG) reported quarterly earnings of $0.71 a share, meeting the figure it had pre-announced several weeks ago. Despite the drop-off in business at most properties because of the 9/11 attacks, the company was able to meet or exceed expectations by strict cost control and with record numbers from its MotorCity Casino in Detroit.

Also, during the announcement, the Mandalay Resort Group spokesman said the company would break ground in September, 2002, on a $225 million all-suite 41-story tower that would have 1,122 rooms as an enhancement of its Mandalay Bay hotel/casino.

Working through Goldman Sachs & Co., the Venetian Casino Resort LLC/ Las Vegas Sands Inc. is offering $850 million 11% second mortgage notes due June 15, 2010.

April’s gaming revenues increased at the casinos in Mississippi. The group reported revenues of $234.3 million, making it the best April ever. In Colorado, however, the casinos produced $59.8 million during April, a decrease of 5.8% from the previous month.

The board of directors of Shuffle Master Inc. (SHFL) has renewed its authorization for management to repurchase company shares.

Officials of MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGG) indicated last week that the company plans to go forward with the construction of a $1.5 billion gaming destination resort in Atlantic City. Indications were that ground breaking for the project could be as soon as September, 2003.

Argosy Casinos Inc. (AGY) says it is on a pace for a record year with its Lawrenceburg, Indiana riverboat. From January to April, the company said the boat had revenues of $123 million.

Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN) has announced a 2-1 stock split to take place on June 4 with distribution to follow on June 25. Following the split, the company will have 39.1 million shares outstanding.

Analysts at Banc of America Securities have upgraded to a strong buy from buy shares of Ameristar Casinos Inc. (ASCA).

Passenger count at McCarran International Airport for the month of April was down 6.5% from what it was a year ago as 2,960,000 passengers passed through the airport. The figures were supplied by the Clark County Department of Aviation. Since the beginning of the year, the passenger count has fallen 7.9%.

Sales of gaming machines manufactured by Ainsworth Game Technology Ltd. of Australia have not met estimates and the company has reduced its forecasts for full-year revenues and profits. The company was founded by Len Ainsworth the embattled former chairman and CEO of Aristocrat Limited.

Regis Philbin’s Fan Club was expanded to Japan last week when a visitor from that country won $1.5 million instantly on the Regis Cash Club Video Slots at Treasure Island.