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Are Boyd, MGM Mirageready to exchange vows?

Dec 17, 2002 7:23 AM

   GAMING GIANTS HEADED FOR ALTER? That’s the rumor of the week making the rounds.

   One pipe reported: “Something really, really big is about to happen at your favorite gambling hall!

   “I hear that Boyd Gaming (BYD) and MGM Mirage (MGG) will soon be doing the two-step together. If the reports are true, the merger would create the world’s largest gaming company.”

   That’s an understatement! In a potential merger, MGG would pick up Boyd’s six Nevada properties, four casino hotels in Mississippi and Louisiana as well as other assets, including a travel service that serves as a pipeline to the Hawaiian gambling market (which is second only to California in bringing players to Las Vegas).

   Moreover, MGM Mirage would presumably rake in the $300 million in cash that Boyd just raised in the issuance of 10-year notes.

   But, it says here, if you don’t believe the rumor, it’s OK. I don’t either.

   How do rumors like this get started?

   Long-time gaming top gun Burton Cohen said it best: “If you don’t hear a good rumor by noon, start one.”

   REMEMBERING BENNY: Cowboys don’t forget. Proof of that came over the weekend when a hat brigade went calling on Becky Binion Behnen and Benny Junior. It was Benny who brought the rodeo to town many years ago when he became annoyed. At what?

   He entered his stagecoach in the event and was given the bum’s rush. You don’t do that with Benny and always get away with it. He started his version of the rodeo. Everyone was welcome. Don’t think for one minute that the boys in the white hat forget. They came out by the numbers to pay their respects at the Horseshoe.


   DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN: That’s probably what Yogi Berra would say if he heard about the plans of Sports Eye, Inc., to again challenge the Daily Racing Form.

   Current plans, advises an insider, “call for a new past performance sheet to begin publishing by the spring of 2003. The tabloid will be called Daily Racing Advance and will begin with 10 tracks and a charge of $3. They will expand it to 12 tracks after they get operating.”

   Racing fans will remember that a similar move was made by Sports Eye some two decades ago to unseat the DRF from its primary position as the provider of racing information. At the time, Sports Eye had to locate its own chart callers at each of the tracks it planned to cover. Some tracks were reluctant to provide the same accommodations to Sports Eye that it provided to DRF.

   That’s not the case this time around. The Daily Racing Advance will be utilizing past performance information provided by Equibase, the same company that gives the DRF its info.

   “Expect to see a handicapper-friendly publication when Daily Racing Advance hits the street,” said our informer.


   WOODBINE MAKEOVER: When Woodbine racetrack in Toronto, Canada, dumped the old guard of the Ontario Jockey Club in the early 90’s, it adopted both a new name — Woodbine Entertainment Group — and a new image.

   Sounds a lot like the MGM Grand that, about the same time, took on the mantle of “City of Entertainment.” It worked for MGM Grand and it worked for Woodbine.

   At least that’s the message Nick Eaves, the company’s senior vice president for marketing and business development, is spreading throughout North America.

   And Eaves strategies seem very similar to some of those being implemented by Las Vegas casinos. Such things as integrating slot machines into the gaming mix, establishing a player rewards system, and instituting promotions aimed at knowing the customer.

   The next step forward, Eaves says, is to “demystify racing” to slots customers, thus improving the crossover from slots to the horses.


   CHANGING TIMES: Used to be that a hotel room at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort for the Racing Symposium staged by the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program were harder to get than comps at a Strip hotel/casino.

   Not this year!

   Just as Las Vegas suffered from a major decline in attendance at the Comdex convention, the Racing Symposium had far fewer attendees this year. This left the hotel with empty rooms.

   Said one veteran racing official, “I’ve been coming here for several years and I don’t remember when you could show up at the last minute and get a room here. Word is that a number of people who booked rooms didn’t show up.”


   ROOM AMENITIES FOR THE LIBIDO: In recent years, Las Vegas hotel rooms have introduced new amenities ranging from computer ports and internet access to pulsating water jets and spa bathrooms.

   But the Hard Rock and Palms hotels are breaking new ground with their slightly sinful ceiling mounted stripper poles!

   True to its name, these in-room poles are designed so imported strippers (entertainers?), which are not supplied by the hotel, don’t have to bring their own 8-foot poles when they arrive to entertain.

   It makes sense that the hotels supply the stripper poles. The lap dancers were probably destroying the furniture.


   SINKING TO NEW DEPTHS: A hospital security guard from Middletown, New York, is sitting in jail after stealing and cashing a lottery ticket belonging to a patient who died of a heart attack!

   The patient, Michael Walsh, had put the winning, $5,000 lottery ticket in his eyeglass case, but died before he could cash it.

   The ticket was found by a nurse and turned into the hospital’s security department. The guard, Damien Santana, apparently took the ticket and cashed it with his girlfriend.

   After a spending spree that included a $700 car stereo as well as Christmas gifts, Santana was apprehended and carted off to jail. His girlfriend said she didn’t know the ticket was stolen and remains free for the holidays. At least for now!