KNOWIN’ WHEN TO FOLD ’EM: That’s what Bernard Goldstein, founder and CEO of Isle of Capri (ISLE) casino company told his board of directors last March. He was referring to a couple of non-producers in his fleet of casinos. The two, Isle of Capri Tunica, which couldn’t handle the competition in an area that attracted nearly a dozen riverboats because of its proximity to Memphis, Tenn., and Lady Luck Hotel/Casino in the struggling Downtown area of Las Vegas.
Goldstein realized quickly that Lady Luck was not going to shine on the Las Vegas property and that since it didn’t fit into the company’s business plan of operating riverboats, the company should accept its losses and dry up the red ink.
And, in Tunica, even the addition of a 227-room hotel failed to turn the tide of a losing operation.
But, there needn’t be any tears shed for Goldstein. His company has been one of the most successful in the gaming industry and recently the company’s stock was given top billing by Zack’s one of the country’s most respected rating services.
JUST A MINOR GLITCH! Despite all the ink last week devoted to a minor glitch in their slot machines, IGT came through it all unscathed, according to Bear Stearns. This problem was promptly fixed, with all of the machines back up and running by Wednesday.
According to IGT, no machines malfunctioned in the field due to this hardware problem. Further, no customers Bear Stearns spoke with have reported any difficulties with the machines. "We believe that this problem is very minor, otherwise the machines would have been shut down immediately by regulators," said a source at Bear Stearns.
On the stock market, IGT shares were trading at 16.7x FY 2002 EPS estimate of $3.33 per share and 14.9x our FY2003 estimate of $3.73. These estimates reflect IGT’s intention to divest of the casino operations segment, and as such, contributions from this segment are now considered income from discontinued operations. "We believe the company has a five year growth rate of 15-20%," the source said. "We reiterate our Buy rating."
TALK ABOUT WRITER’S CRAMP! A San Diego rosebud informs that she thinks Mandalay Bay’s quest to bring giant pandas to the Strip resort is a wonderful idea, but she suggests they buy an extra gross of pencils.
"They’re going to need every one of them before the process is complete," our rosebud said. "When the San Diego Zoo got to the finish line and was awarded two of those fascinating creatures, the application totaled more than 8,000 pages."
Haven’t any of those panda people ever heard about the Paperwork Reduction Act?
DON’T FORGET THE GARLIC! Our good friend Rick Howe sent me a message reminding me about a sign that used to hang over the door at Bombara’s Italian restaurant, the subject of last week’s Marker Down. It read, "If you don’t like garlic, go home!"
That’s good advise anywhere! Thanks, Rick, for reminding me. Which reminds me, is it time for the raviolis yet?
HOW SWEET IT IS! Bill Paulos, top gun at Millennium Management, said "The Rampart Casino is doing well ”” it’s terrific." Paulos added, "People who haven’t seen what we’ve done with the casino floor will feel a new energy. There is a whole different feel."
It’s time to drive to Summerlin and take a look at the upscale property. In addition to a more player friendly casino, the Rampart has added (and will continue to add more) a buffet and great new dining choices. Look for bigger and better things to come.
Incidentally, Bill is getting ready for the debut of his newest venture, The Cannery, in North Las Vegas. We can’t wait to see this one!
THUNDERING HURD ON THE MOVE: The city loses one of its most respected Race and Sports professionals as the Palms’ Marcus Hurd goes abroad to further his career in the gaming industry. Hurd has forever been one of the pioneers in auto racing wagering, along with his vast knowledge and talents in horse racing. There might not be a more knowledgeable motor sports fanatic in the city and his contributions to the growth of the sport in Las Vegas will be missed.
LONG GONE, NO MORE: True, Silic, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Mile before being sent to the breeding shed, brought many a smile to the partnership of MGM MIRAGE chief honcho Terry Lanni, and Las Vegas Mercedes Benz sales manager Bernie Schiappa.
And they had the additional benefit of owning a piece of the still-active Ladies Din, another terrific grass performer who finished just a head behind stablemate Silic in the B.C. Mile.
But what do they do for an encore?
That question may have been answered on Sunday at Del Mar when the gray speedster Long Gone Con wired a field of solid allowance performers going a mile and one-sixteenth on the grass. The Lanni-Schiappa partnership acquired the four-year-old gelding prior to the 2002 racing season. He made his debut a winning one with a victory on the dirt.
Long Gone Con had never won a grass race prior to Sunday but nobody is betting that he won’t win many more in the future.
SOUNDS LIKE RODNEY DANGERFIELD: Poor Kevin Mannix, popular sports writer for the Boston Herald ”¦ he’s moaning because his beloved New England Patriots are not getting much respect in the Las Vegas sports books.
He believes that the bettors have forgotten or are ignoring the fact that the Pats made a late rush to the playoffs by winning their last nine games, 11 of their final 12 in the 2001 season, and that they eliminated the Steelers and the Rams as distinct double-digit underdogs in both games.
In his review of current odds, seven teams rated higher than the Patriots with St. Louis the fav at 7-2.
And, adding insult to injury, he notes, is the fact that the oddsmakers have established an over-under line of eight wins for the Pats this year, meaning they expect the team to play at the .500 level.
Explained, Caesars Palace race and sports book expert Chuck Esposito, "New England is not a popular betting team. They don’t have the support of people around the country like the Raiders and Rams and 49ers do."
So, Bostonians, get your money up and Mannix will have less to cry about