NO DICE ON DEAL ”” Rumors of a pending merger of Shuffle Master and Wells-Gardner Electronics Corp. are not only greatly exaggerated, they’re flat out wrong, says Shuffle Master’s Mark Yoseloff.The chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas-based game maker, recently named one of America’s 100 Fastest Growing Small Companies by Fortune Small Business magazine, categorically denied reports that a buyout was in the works.
Speculation may have been fueled because Yoseloff has been on Wells-Gardner’s board of directors for the past year and a half. WGE, headquartered in Chicago, supplies components to game manufacturers and acquired American Gaming & Electronics in 2000. In June, WGE landed a $4 million order to supply monitors for Canadian gaming. The company’s sales in the first quarter were $11.3 million, down 2.3 percent from a year ago; net earnings were $202,000 compared with a loss of $680,000 previously.
PARTYING MAIDS HANDICAP HUBBARD: Indiana gaming officials took R.D. Hubbard to the woodshed last week and the timing could not have been worse. Hubbard has been battling Las Vegas investor Shawn Scott for a horse racing and slot machine license in Hobbs, N.M. A decision might come as early as Aug. 27.
Last week, however, Hubbard felt the full wrath of the Indiana regulators when he was fined $740,000 for his role as chairman of Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. (PNK) that was cited for importing party girls to Indiana from California to entertain high rollers at Pinnacle’s Belterra Casino and Resort. Hubbard also was forced to give up his gaming license; agreed to never again apply for a license in Indiana, and to pay a $10,000 fee to reimburse the commission for its investigative expenses.
Pinnacle, now run by Dan Lee, former CFO of Steve Wynn’s Mirage Resorts, was permitted to keep its operating license but was fined $2.26 million. Also, the company will have to close its riverboat operation for two and one-half days in October.
AL SHARPTON, WHERE ARE YOU? The New York civil rights activist has been critical of MGM MIRAGE Inc. for allegedly being weak in its minority efforts. But, that was hardly the case last week when company point man, John Redmond, made a presentation for a permanent casino in Detroit.
Joining Redmond before the city council were four black investors who with six associates make up the contingent of 10 minority investors who since the temporary casino has been operating have received between 10% and 16% of the profits. Also, said Redmond, 40% of the construction contracts for the temporary casino went to small businesses or those owned by women or other minorities.
As for purchases made by the temporary casino, he said, 60% worth about $133 million involved minority firms.
A review of the current payroll showed that 65% are minority representatives.
A QUESTION OF TIMING: That controversial $50,000 payment to Trainer Bob Baffert to bring Kentucky Derby/Preakness winner War Emblem to Monmouth Park for Saturday’s running of the $1 million Haskell remained a subject of conversation even after the three-year-old colt devastated his opposition in the Grade I event.
"Just when did Baffert agree to fly the colt to New Jersey?" asked a critic. "Was it after the financial inducement or was it really after Saudi Arabian owners gave him the OK?"
"And why would the trainer pocket the money when really the decision to make the trip was made by the owners of the horse," he asked.
Prior to the running of the television stakes race, Monmouth officials said that Baffert had indicated he would offer half the $50,000 to a charitable institution and presumably keep the other half as a wedding present. Baffert married his fiancé, Jill Moss, on Saturday.
BLEDSOE MAKES MOVE OFFICIAL: For those diehard N.E. Patriots fans who hoped against hope that Drew Bledsoe’s move to Buffalo might be short-lived, the three-time Pro-Bowl quarterback placed his home on the market last week, adding the finishing touches to his nine-year New England career.
And what a home it is!
Built by Bledsoe four years ago, the Medfield, Mass., 11,000 square-foot property is three stories high, has 20 rooms including seven bedrooms, a tennis court, a heated pool with a waterfall and a putting green.
Asking price is a cool $9 million.