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One year later, skeptics give in to Boonville

Dec 30, 2002 11:56 PM

   Isle of Capri was confident that Boonville would be a success. One year later, the skeptics have been silenced.

   The Missouri casino, one of two in the state operated by Isle of Capri, rates No. 10 nationally in the gaming industry. The company, which owns 14 casinos nationally, had a birthday luncheon last week to celebrate a successful opening year at Boonville.

   General manager Jeff King said the company is poised to expand their development with a hotel located near the riverfront casino pending the time frame breakdown. In the meantime, the casino has been a big hit.

   “I can say nothing but good things about the Isle,” Boonville Mayor Danielle Blanck said. “They have been generous with their time, money and volunteers.”

   The company gave $90,000 in donations and sponsorships to events such as Special Olympics and a YMCA benefit golf tournament. The company also announced plans to buy two Colorado casinos from IGT for $84 million in cash.

   Construction will start in the spring on a $75 million expansion of both Black Hawk casinos. A 240-room hotel, parking garage and more casino space are planned.


KC gaming divided

   The Argosy Riverside Casino in Kansas City is winning the battle for customers, but losing in the wallet.

   The suburban riverboat’s market share for November dipped below 15 percent for the first time in more than four years. However, the Riverside posted its 15th consecutive month as the local gambling venue with the market’s highest paying slots.

   Kansas City’s four casinos amassed $51.4 million in November, the sixth largest month ever and up 7.2 percent from November 2001.

   Statewide casino revenues were up 13.1 percent last month to $109 million, well ahead percentage-wise of casinos in Atlantic City (up 2.9 percent), Iowa (up 5.2) and Illinois (down 4.2) for the same period.


No Laughlin matter

   Nobody is laughing in Laughlin about the expansion of Indian gambling in Arizona to include Nevada-style blackjack.

   The Arizona Republic reports that Laughlin will lose one of its key distinctions in early 2003 when Arizona figures to be a much stronger competitor. Blackjack accounted for $31.6 million in gambling revenue for Laughlin last year.

   The 17-tribe gambling initiative that passed Nov. 5 allows house-banked blackjack tables with betting limits of $500 and approximately 7,000 more slot machines statewide in the next five years.

   Arizonans comprise 21 percent of Laughlin’s visitors, according to fiscal 2000-01 data from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Of all Laughlin visitors that year, 23 percent had gambled in an Arizona casino in the past 12 months.

   Tourism in the river region of Laughlin and Bullhead City supports at least 13,400 jobs or about 25 percent of the region’s total workforce, according to a 1997 study.

Mitt won’t commit

   Massachusetts Gov.-elect Mitt Romney plans to conduct his own review of the potential benefits or dangers of gambling casinos and slot machines in his state.

   “We don’t view their recommendations as the final word on the subject,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, who will be Romney’s communications director when he takes office Jan. 2. “Mitt would like to do his own independent analysis, which will take into consideration the final report of the commission.”

   Romney said in a Boston Globe story that he wants to determine whether the expansion of gambling would generate significant revenue for the state.

   “I plan to look at this decision on the basis of economics,” Romney said. “If our gambling program doesn’t bring in a lot of additional revenue, I’m probably going to be opposed to it.”


MTR nabs Ohio track

   The MTR Gaming Group announced last week the acquisition of Scioto Downs in Ohio for $19.1 million.

   The West Virginia-based group also owns and operates the Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort in Chester and the Speedway Casino in North Las Vegas.

   Stock market analysts expect MTR to earn 64 cents a share on revenue of $265.1 million.