‘Commish’ has nice ring for Mayor Rudy

Jul 16, 2002 9:07 AM

JOINING THE DUMP SELIG CAMPAIGN Andrew Cuomo, son of former N.Y. Gov. Mario Cuomo, says it’s time for major league baseball to dump its baseball commissioner, Bud Selig, and replace him with former N.Y. Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Problem is, Giuliani probably couldn’t afford to take the job at the sale baseball would offer. Because of his popularity following the way he handled the 9/11 terrorists attacks, Guiliani is a hot prospect on the talk circuit. It’s estimated that he can earn some $8 million on a speaking tour.

Of course, he’ll probably need every cent considering he just agreed to pay his former wife, TV celebrity Donna Hanover, nearly $7 million to walk away from their 17-year marriage.

Young Cuomo is seeking the gubernatorial position once held by his father.


KIRK, CRAIG CAPTAIN THE SHIPS: Only two publicly-traded gaming companies show individuals as owning more than 50% of their company’s stock. Holding the highest percentage is Craig Neilson, chairman and CEO of Ameristar Casinos Inc. (ASCA) with 15.4 million shares, or 59.33% of the total number of outstanding shares, and Kirk Kerkorian, who holds 81.1 million shares of MGG MIRAGE Inc. (MGG), or 50.8% of the outstanding amount.

For the most part, institutions own the largest amount of shares in the companies. Prominent among the group are Fidelity Management, Janus Capital, Goldman Sachs, Wellington Management and Capital Research Management.

In other individual holdings, William S. Boyd, chairman and CEO of Boyd Gaming Corp. (BYD), holds 24.5 million shares or 38.4%; Jack E. Pratt, 30.8% of Hollywood Casino Corp.; Sumner Redstone, 30.13% of WMS Industries, and Dick Duchossois, 24% of Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN).


JACKPOT FEVER? Fascination with lottery jackpots, that attraction to a quick fortune, not only permeates the American psyche but afflicts people from all over the world. We’ve seen people wait hours in line to buy lottery tickets when the numbers reach astronomical proportions. Surely that’s what will happen in the nine states that sell tickets for the Mega Millions. Jackpot this week has reached $165 million.

But what about Norway? According to a story distributed last week, Norway leads the world in money spent per person on lottery tickets. One individual offers two reasons for the lottery appeal: "In Norway, Lotto appeals to all levels of society, there is nothing embarrassing about playing," and, "People don’t just buy a ticket”¦ they buy a dream of winning a sack of money, the everyday dream that ”˜this time it will be me.’"


BEST AWARDS MONEY CAN BUY! This month, Casino Player published its Best of Gaming issue, and one of its biggest winners is Harrah’s, which claimed 413 total awards and 219 first place honors. Although the magazine says its awards are based on a reader survey, sources say Harrah’s benefited by being supplied with extra ballots.

"This kind of thing is nothing new," said a local PR manager who asked not to be identified. "I’ve been involved in purchasing awards, such as Show of the Year, for hotels that are willing to sign an advertising contract."

You mean this kind of thing actually happens? Tell me more!

"I’ve known publications to ”˜trade off’ awarding a show or entertainer Best of the Year honors in exchange for an ad, usually under a minimum one-year contract," the PR agent said. "I’ve also seen an instance where the marketing department of a Strip hotel purchased hundreds if not thousands of extra newspapers, just to get their ballots. They then had staff people filling out the ballots and mailing them in."


ROCK FINDS PLACE IN THE SUN: Congratulations to our own Monti Rock, the roving entertainment columnist, who was featured prominently in a profile published by the Âí­Review-Journal’s View edition. There’s also another piece set to be published by the Los Angeles Times.

Even though he likens himself to a male Zsa Zsa Gabor, Monti continues to sling the latest dish about the Las Vegas entertainment scene. He’s probably able to move within those prized circles because of his crazy outfits ”” leopard hats, feathered boas, long pony tail and whatever else survived the 1970s Disco Era. Monti can be read every week in our Going Out section.


BUSINESS COMING BACK TO TOWN: The latest trends in visitor volume indicate tourism business in Las Vegas is returning to near normal figures. According to Bear Stearns, Las Vegas visitor volume was down only 0.3% in May 2002, to 3.0 million visitors. The results were in-line with their expectations, and were a sequential increase from the 3.3% decline in April.

Also helping out was convention attendance, which continued to show strong gains during the month, climbing by 17.8%, and pushing convention room night occupancy up 14.9%.

Overall, Bear Stearns said May’s results are an indication that trends continue to improve for Las Vegas. The Strip’s recovery continues, although there has yet to be sustained growth in visitation or gaming revenues.


ONLINE PLAYERS FIND WAY TO PAY Gamblers are turning to seasoned online casinos as they are put under pressure by credit-card firms who are now denying their online gaming purchases. Large online casino operators are responding to players’ concerns by increasing accepted payment methods, and hedging operations against these latest credit-card developments. Although some smaller online casino gaming operators are suffering from the casino credit-card ban, top online casinos are picking up the players that get denied at second-tier operations and winning out with their greater resources and channels of payment.

GrandBanksCasino.com for instance changed its software and operating jurisdiction earlier this week to accommodate the surge in demand for its online casino in post-credit-card e-betting. The company made the decision to adopt the most modern version of PlayTech’s software.

"Businesses that stay competitive, stay in business," told Clarence Evans, Grand Banks Casino’s Manager. "Our customer management system needed to be more robust to handle the increased customer base we’ve enjoyed signing up over the past several months. We also wanted to make sure that our new software provided a better player experience. The new software introduces $100,000 minimum progressive jackpots, putting it at the forefront of progressive gaming; as well as multi-player and multi-hand blackjack and video poker games."