Atlantic City looking forward to long, hot summer

Jun 4, 2002 9:40 AM

The summer forecast for Atlantic City casinos is sunny and hot.

"Memorial Day traffic and volumes were very strong," Wallace Barr, CEO of Park Place Entertainment Corp., told the Atlantic City Press. "We enjoyed good action in all levels in all the facilities. I think it bodes well for the summer."

Gaming revenue through the first four months was ahead 4.2 percent from last year’s pace. The first quarter gross operating profit was up 26 percent.

Over the next 22 months, the city’s casinos will add nearly 4,000 rooms to their current base of 11,400. The building boom is estimated to cost $1.8 billion.

Harrah’s opened a 452-room hotel expansion and added 450 slot machines earlier this month. Resorts will demolish its 166-room North Tower in order to build a 400-room site in early 2004.

The Tropicana Casino broke ground last month on a $225 million addition that will take about two years to complete.

The casino industry’s hotel occupancy rate last year was 94 percent, with totals running near 100 percent in the summer.

Detroit deals fall

The Detroit City Council voted 6-3 to reject Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s casino development agreements.

According to a Detroit Free Press report, the Council suggested that the Mayor try again for better deals. However, Kilpatrick said he would not renegotiate with the Council and supports the idea district elections determining the issue.

More than $500 million from casino and spinoff benefits over the next two years is at stake, according to Kilpatrick. "The existing casino deals expire June 15 and could result in 9,000 lost jobs and more than $2 billion in potential riverfront investment.

Argosy will expand

The Argosy Riverside Casino, along the Missouri River, was given the corporate green light to proceed with its $105 million expansion.

Missouri Gov. Bob Holden had put the plan on hold in January after proposing large increases in casino taxes to plug holes in the state budget. Formal groundbreaking is set for June 26, according to the Kansas City Star.

The Missouri Gaming Commission approved Argosy’s plan to replace its three-deck riverboat casino with a one-deck floating barge. Other improvements would include additional parking, new dining options and a new entrance façade that resembles a 19th century wharf.

St. Louis towns aided

Five St. Louis-area towns would share an estimated $2 million a year from a new tax on the Casino Queen under a measure advanced by Illinois legislators.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that the communities of Washington Park, Brooklyn, Fairmont City, Alorton and Centreville would share in casino profits, along with East St. Louis.

"The conditions are different everywhere in Illinois," said state Rep. Wyvetter Younge, the measure’s sponsor. "These are some of the worst-off places in Illinois. Unemployment is excruciatingly high."

The bill was approved on a 9-2 vote.

Western NY at odds

Casinos are months and maybe years away, but the Niagara Falls and Buffalo areas are already demanding a greater cut of the local share, according to The Buffalo News.

The Seneca Indians and the Western New York cities agreed that a minimum of 6.2 percent would go the area from casino slot machines. However, many government officials say that the local share is not enough and that the area can’t afford to ship dollars from a new funding source out of the region.

A 50-50 split of the state’s gambling revenues from the casinos is the optimum goal, according to Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte," D-Niagara Falls.


Cali confusion costly

Confusing language in the quickly-negotiated Indian gaming compacts may have cost California’s poorest tribes $37 million.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the state has collected that amount in one-time fees of $1,250 for each slot machine license issued since the first 60 compacts were signed in September 1999.

ALSO: Maine citizens are split over whether there should be a casino. A poll showed 47 percent in favor, 40 against...Florida Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed a bill that would have expanded card room betting at the state’s dog tracks.