Canterbury may be country’s next track with slot machines

Feb 25, 2003 6:45 AM

Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn., which is publicly traded under the symbol "ECP" may become the next horse track to be authorized to install slot machines.

The bill to authorize the Minnesota State Lottery to operate slot and video gaming at Canterbury Park’s existing 362-acre site was introduced at a St. Paul press conference last week. The track currently operates pari-mutuel horse racing and a card club.

To generate support for the legislation, Randy Sampson, CEO of Canterbury Park, hired The Innovative Group of New Orleans, La., to examine the market for increased entertainment options.

The report concluded the following:

At least $150 million in new tax revenue for the state in the first full biennium of operation, including state gaming, sales, corporate and income taxes.

Nearly 1,400 new jobs, with 815 jobs at the racino for gaming, food and beverage operations and additional 578 jobs as a result of the new economic activity generated by the racino spending.

Approximately $4 million per biennium in new taxes for local communities.

"The report," said Sampson, "confirmed that a racino can be successful in Minnesota in the same way it has been a success for states like Iowa, Delaware and West Virginia. The racino at Canterbury Park would generate substantial new tax revenues for the state and local governments, increase employment in our area, create higher racing purses for the horse industry, and pump more money into Minnesota’s agricultural industry."

The author of the legislation, Sen. Dick Day, said that "polls show a majority of Minnesotans support using gaming proceeds as part of the solution to the budget deficit, and Canterbury Park has already demonstrated that they can responsibly manage a variety of regulated gaming options at their site in Shakopee."

There was no initial opposition expressed to the expansion of gambling at the state’s only major thoroughbred facility.

Licensing agreement

Shuffle Master Inc. (SHFL) has developed a licensing agreement with International Game Technology (IGT) involving a number of patents held by Shuffle Master. The patents were described as "Second Event Multiplier: patents that cover a broad range of bonusing methods for video slot machines.

No financial details accompanied the announcement.

In the opinion of Dr. Mark Yoseloff, chairman and CEO of Shuffle Master, "it appears that a number of games in the market today utilize our bonusing methods. We are pleased to have been able to reach an agreement with IGT, a leader in video slot games, regarding their use of our patented technology. Shuffle Master is considering its options regarding other companies that may be using this technology."

Shuffle Master, listed by Forbes magazine as the 35th best small company in America, was recently named by First Call as the 15th highest rated stock based on analysts comments.

Appeal slated

Las Vegas investor Shawn Scott may get his last chance to save his interest in Vernon Downs harness track this week when a hearing officer hears an appeal to a decision by the N.Y. Racing and Wagering Board Âí­denying the track a license to race this year.

Actually, the regulators Âí­denied the track’s license last December but a state court granted the operator ”” Mid-State Raceway Inc. ”” permission to continue operations until the end of March.

Overt reasons for denying the license were the regulators contention that the track owes back taxes, has not built a Âí­security fence as mandated by the board and has failed to correct what was described as serious deficiencies found in a 2001 fire inspection.

But the real reason behind the decision was the board’s objection to Scott and to his associate, John Baldwin who has fought the board’s requirement that he be licensed.

Informant probed

An Oklahoma grand jury is investigating an Indian casino financier who was once identified by an FBI informant as having taken a $100,000 loan on the street from slain mobster Herbie Blitztein.

Ivy K. Ong, 60, said he has made some $18 million in three years working with the Seminole Indians in Oklahoma but has separated himself from the tribe because of the ongoing investigation into alleged theft, bribery and money laundering.

Ong moved to Oklahoma in 1999 and constructed two Indian casinos and renovated two others while supplying the properties with slot machines. He also reportedly provided upfront money to the tribe to help them with their blackjack games.

In 1995, Ong pleaded guilty to two federal misdemeanor courts in a 1995 California baby-formula scheme and was sentenced to four months of house arrest.

The Insider

A management group is attempting to take over PDS Gaming Corporation (PDSG) by offering $2.75 a share for the 69% of the outstanding shares it does not already own. Making the offer are Johan P. Finley, Lona M.B. Finley and Peter D. Cleary.

Maryland Gov. Robert Âí­Ehrlich is using the Internet to rally support for his bill that would authorize 10,500 slot machines at the state’s racetracks.

Two Station Casinos Inc. (STN) executives recently sold option related company stock. William Warner, vice president, sold 11,400 shares to generate proceeds of $205,713, and Scott Neilson, general counsel, sold 21,600 shares for $389,895.

The 2nd Annual World Series of Gin Rummy will be held April 27-30 at the Riviera Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.

Casino Data Imaging and Park Place Entertainment Corp. (PPE) have formed a strategic partnership whereby PPE will install CasinoCad Millennium systems in its casinos located in Nevada and the Gulf Coast.

Analysts at CIBC World Markets have upgraded the stock of Alliance Gaming Inc. (AGI) to sector perform from sector underperform. Also, the shares of Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) were raised from sector perform to sector outperform.

Gaming revenues at casinos in Colorado during January were up 3% to $59.8 million over the same month last year.

Mohegan Sun Resort in Uncasville, Conn., has begun recruiting experienced help from both Puerto Rico and Poland. Casino operators said they had been having trouble attracting enough workers from casino jurisdictions in the U.S.

Passenger traffic in and out of Las Vegas increased 11.8% to 2.81 million in January, according to figures released by McCarran International Airport.

Peninsula Gaming Company has announced that they will break ground on the construction of a new racetrack and casino in St. Landry Parish, La. The new property will replace the former Evangeline Downs.

MTR Gaming Group Inc. (MNTG) says it has signed a definitive agreement for the sale of its hotel casino property in Reno, Nev. Sale price was given at $2.95 million.

Argosy Gaming Inc. (AGY) has agreed to purchase 4,000 new EZ Play gaming machines and retrofits for up to another 1,000 machines from International Game Technology (IGT).