Exclusive Content   Join Now

Say it ain’t so, sportsbook Joe!

Oct 22, 2002 8:08 AM





   GOING EAST YOUNG MAN? A pipe at the Stardust reports that its sports shop boss, Joe Lupo, could be leaving his post to take a position at The Borgata in Atlantic City. But in a phone interview Monday, Joe pleaded “no comment,” adding that nothing had been announced by Boyd Gaming, which is building the 2010-room resort casino in partnership with MGM Mirage. We gave Rob Stillwell, the publicist for Boyd Gaming, a chance to speak up, but he was unavailable Monday afternoon. In any event, our pipe is adamant that the long-time bookmaker will likely head the new resort’s race operation, since sports betting isn’t allowed in New Jersey. The Borgata is under construction and expected to open next summer.


   LOOK WHO’S STALKING THE HORSE! Is George Maloof about to throw his stylish hat into the Aladdin ring? While all the talk has been about Colony, Pinnacle and others preparing a “stalking horse” bid for the bankrupt Aladdin, Maloof may be saddling a mount of his own. A source at the Rampart Casino reports that George Maloof last week was given a presentation by Bill Paulos for the possible management of the Aladdin casino. Paulos, along with Bill Wortman, own Millennium Management, which runs the Rampart Casino at the JW Marriott Hotel in Summerlin, and will soon open the Cannery Casino in North Las Vegas. It sounds like a sweet deal for George as well as the Aladdin. After all, he’s won his spurs at the Palms.


   MORTON’S STEAKS! No one who has eaten there can deny Morton’s of Chicago serves up the best steak in town. But, if you look behind the scenes, you’ll discover that management was forced to sell off part of itself as a shield from the economic storm that has been everywhere. They did so by selling to a private investor.

   A New York investment firm, Castle Harlan, led the pack and came out on top by offering shareholders a $17-per-share buyout price. They seemed to have the inside track from the get go because two of their senior managers, John Castle and David Pittaway, were already on Morton’s board of directors.

   But, they may have been forced to pay the prime price because of offers being made by billionaire Carl Icahn. And, as is often the case with the wily entrepreneur, he’s in a position to make money even when he loses.

   “The whole thing was a plot by Carl Icahn to do a number on Castle Harlan,” Scott Keller, president of, said. “Icahn owns (6.1%) of Morton’s (common stock), so we know for sure that Icahn will make money off of this, but it remains to be seen if Castle Harlan can.”

   Did Castle Harlan really win? Only time will tell if they overpaid for the stock.

   Did Icahn really lose? Hardly. His stake in Morton’s is now worth more than $4.87 million per the buyout agreement. That’s a clean 23% profit ($912,342) in less than three months.


   THE ARGOSY OR THE AGONY: Can a case be made that MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGG) might make a bid for Argosy Gaming Inc (AGY)? Robin Farley, chief gaming analyst for UBS Warburg thinks so.

   Fact: MGG trashed its deal to bid for the controversial Illinois license in Rosemont because the hassle wasn’t worth it.

   Fact: MGG last week scrapped plans to build a $1.5 billion property in Atlantic City in order to preserve capital and to pursue other interests.

   Fact: Argosy, with a riverboat in Joliet, Ill., near the Chicago market, gives an acquirer access to Chicago without battling for the state’s 10th and last gaming license.

   Fact: Argosy’s capitalization has been cut in half by investors who have reacted negatively to the company’s recent earnings warnings.

   Fact: MGG could acquire Argosy for about 6.6 times cash flow or 0.83 shares of MGG for each AGY share. That would represent a 50% premium to AGY’s current price but the deal could still be $0.15 accretive to MGG’s earnings and add $2 to MGG’s valuation.


   LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON??? Ricci Martin, whose father, Dean Martin performed time and again as part of the Rat Pack on the Las Vegas Strip, has revived interest in his dad’s work with a show at the Riviera called, “A Tribute to Dean Martin”¦His Son Remembers.”

   “It was a delightful evening,” said a pipe. “What was so good about the performance was that Ricci did not try to sound like his father when he did the songs but sang in his own top notch voice,” he reported.

   Helping the show along was the backup performance of a young performer named Staci Spector who “was just great” in her solo jazz number.

   Adding to the applause were a number of celebrities joining Desi Arnaz Jr. in the audience.


   WILL WE SEE THE DEMISE OF THE “Big M”? Supporters of Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J., are really worried that the track could go under relatively soon.

   The reason? Competition! From slot machines. At nearby racetracks.

   Efforts are being made to introduce legislation that would permit slots at the Big M but opposition from Atlantic City casinos will make approval a Herculean task. Also to be considered is the requirement to change the state’s constitution.

   The track is owned by the state and operated by the New Jersey Sports Authority. The property also is home for other sporting events.

   Sounding a worried warning, the Authority’s president said the track is facing “catastrophic” financial problems that are being exacerbated by the video lottery machines in use at neighboring states. Soon, he said, the competition will grow with the addition of slots in New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The impact will be overwhelming for the Meadowlands, he said.


   BRING ON THE BOBBLEHEADS: That’s what Bay Meadows officials urged last week when a delivery of  “Mini-Seabiscuit” bobbleheads were tied up offshore because of a dock workers strike along the California coastline.

   The original bobblehead giveaway day had to be postponed when the ships carrying the thousands of promotional gimmicks were not permitted to dock. Then when the Taft-Hartley invocation brought the ships back into dock, the giveaway day was re-scheduled.

   The thoroughbred Seabiscuit, designated as the 1938 Horse of the Year, has developed a renewed following in the past few months with the publication of the best-seller, Seabiscuit: An American Legend.

   Even before the track had its promotional day, reports said there offers on e-Bay that priced the bobbleheads at between $40 and $50.