PN postsrecord $

Feb 18, 2003 3:30 AM

Penn National proclaimed record revenues and earnings for 2002 as reported last week in the Biloxi-Gulfport (Miss.) Sun Herald.

"We had a great performance at all of our properties," Penn National chief executive officer Peter Carlino said during a conference call last week. "Even on the (Gulf) Coast, which was flat to down for the year, we had great performances."

Penn National owns Boomtown Casino Biloxi and Casino Magic Bay St. Louis. The company saw revenues increase by 27 percent and earnings by 26 over the 12-month period ending 2001.

Boomtown Biloxi saw revenues rise 5 percent to $73.2 million and earnings increase 7 percent to $14.5 million. Penn National disclosed that Casino Magic rose by 11 percent over 2001 to $95.8 million. Earnings were only 2 percent more than last year, a result the company related to the promotion of the 291-room hotel that opened in May.

"We figured Bay St. Louis would be a 2003 story," Carlino said.

Despite the positive news and the bright outlook for slot machines at Pennsylvania horse tracks, the company’s stock has slid in the recent weeks over plans to purchase Hollywood Casino Shreveport properties.

Vegas pushing Omaha

Omaha is shaping into a battle between Las Vegas casino giants Michael Gaughan and Sheldon Adelson for entry into the Nebraska market.

Gaughan runs four Coast hotel-casinos in Las Vegas, while Adelson is the owner and chairman of the Venetian. The casino moguls were among 150 turning out for a public hearing on four constitutional amendments to legalize casino gambling in Nebraska.

Despite the sales pitches, gambling opponents told the Omaha World Herald that they weren’t buying that casinos will draw tourists and revenue to Nebraska.

"Who in their right mind would fly to Omaha to gamble?" said Pat Loontjer, representing a state anti-gambling group. "This is never going to become a destination. It will suck more money out of the local economy."

Big plans for Austin

The Texas state capital city could find a $440 million casino in its downtown area if a statewide vote passes the plan this year.

"The window of opportunity will have shut forever in Texas, certainly in our lifetimes," consultant Barry Keenan told the Austin Business Journal.t week.

Keenan is heading the effort to win both state and local approval for as many as 24 casinos throughout Texas, including the one proposed for Austin.

Keenan said he is prohibited from ownership in a casino due to his conviction in the 1963 kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr., when he was sentenced to life in prison plus 75 years.

The courts later reduced the sentence to 12 years, of which Keenan served just 54 months before being released on parole. Austin is also the home of the University of Texas.