Let’s make a toast to the ‘other coast!

Oct 1, 2002 8:17 AM

Heard on the Strip




   HAPPY NEW YEAR! Mickey Brown, a well-known gaming attorney and chief executive of Seneca Niagara Falls Gaming Unit, reminds me it’s not too early to make New Year’s Eve plans, and why not spend them with Mickey at the Seneca Niagara Falls planned $100 million casino?

    “I hope to be open for New Year’s Eve and would love to tip a glass or two with you,” Brown told GT publisher Chuck Di Rocco. He said the crews will be working 20 hours a day, six days per week to make the casino, with 2600 slots and 80 table games, happen.

   Brown: “We’re not putting slots in an auditorium here. We will try to make the place as customer-friendly, attractive and enjoyable as the competition. Or do better than that!”


   MONEY MAKES THE MARE GO! Mike Conway knows. He also knows that it gets people back flying again. Ever since the 9-11 tragedy, air travel has taken it on the chin. So Conway — right guy that he is — is putting more than 250,000 National Airline seats on sale for $89 or less. The sale began this week. Each day National will offer special discounts in different cities, but Mike isn’t going to tell us which cities will be on sale until that day.

   Do you think he’ll get many calls?

   I do, just wait and see!


   LOSING A FRIEND: Gaming companies operating out of Atlantic City will be losing a strong supporter when U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli leaves his office at the end of his term in 90 days. Torricelli announced Monday that he was asking that his name be taken off the ballot and that another Democrat be given a chance to replace him next January.

   During his tenure, Torricelli always took a strong position regarding gaming and its existence in New Jersey and was willing to do anything he could to place Atlantic City gaming on the same level as that of Las Vegas.

   Of particular concern to Torricelli was the inability of New Jersey casinos to take sports bets because of a failure of the state to take advantage of the opportunity provided by federal legislators when they banned sports betting except in Nevada and three other states.

   Two years ago, Torricelli said he was preparing to re-open the discussion in the Congress on sports betting but it never happened.


   FIGHTING A LOSING CAUSE: Don’t expect the Bay Mills Indian Community to succeed in their battle to gain approval for a casino to be located in Port Huron, Mich. The problem they face is that they are located too close to Detroit, and the Motor City doesn’t want the competition.

   Being just 75 miles from Detroit, Port Huron can argue all it wants that their potential casino customers are not going to Detroit’s three casinos, anyway. They say these people are crossing the St. Clair River and are patronizing a casino in Point Edward, Ontario.

   But the Detroit casino operators are faced with the requirement of spending up to $500 million to build permanent gaming facilities and their not about to permit the Congress to approve the Bay Mills casino.


   LACK OF CREDIBILITY: If Frank Stronach wants to build credibility for his company, Magna Entertainment Inc. (MIEC), which has been acquiring racetracks the way a housewife buys fruits, he’s going to have to fulfill some of the promises he has made when taking these tracks into the fold.

   Plans for the development of real estate around Santa Anita never materialized; ditto plans for Gulfstream Park where racing quality has plummeted since the Magna takeover. And last week, Magna threatened to close Remington Park in Oklahoma if they are forced to continue running quarter horses as well as thoroughbreds.

   And then there is Dixon Downs, the racetrack Stronach said he would build in northern California to replace Bay Meadows that is slated for extinction. The project has gone from being a hot item to one that was nearly abandoned. However, Magna has hired people to revive Dixon Downs with new plans to be announced early next year.

   Completing such a project might help Magna gain some credibility in the racing industry.

   BACK INTO THE FOLD: Congratulations to Kristal Surick, who was recently tapped by Ameristar Casinos as its corporate director of human resources. In this capacity, she will report directly to Corporate Vice President of Human Resources Carolyn Dobbs.

   Surick will be responsible for guiding initiatives focused on unifying and coordinating practices, policies and procedures. Additionally, Surick will oversee personnel in the recruitment, team member relations and human resources project management areas.

   "Kristal has served Ameristar loyally, first at the property level and most recently as a member of our corporate team," says Dobbs. "I am pleased to announce her new range of accountabilities and expanded role in our organization."

   Surick came to Ameristar in 1999 as employment manager for The Reserve Hotel Casino, a former company property in Henderson (now the Fiesta Rancho). She was later named director of human resources, a position she retained after the property was acquired by another casino operator. Surick rejoined Ameristar at the Las Vegas corporate headquarters in March 2002. 

CAREER SWITCH: It’s never too late to make change. Leo Rishty, publisher of the credible Unique Solutions, a Wall Street newsletter put out of Florida, has decided to start a new career as a consultant in the gaming industry. Leo is mum on where.

“But,” he told publisher Chuck Di Rocco, “You’ll be the first to know.”