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If you can’t beat ‘em,try the old two-step!

Jun 3, 2003 7:12 AM

CASINOS TO SKIRT TAX HIKE? In the wake of a new 70% tax approved by the Illinois legislature, some casinos may cut their hours of operation.

"If they roll back their hours, they could avoid reaching revenue thresholds that would push their gaming tax rate to 70%," said an Illinois in-the-knowster.

The top rate kicks in when an Illinois casino grosses $250 million in revenue. The rate is 50% for revenue in excess of $100 million, down from a previous threshold of $200 million.

"You might even see some casinos go from three to two shifts to reduce hours," the source said.

The gaming tax increase is part of package aimed at easing a projected $5 billion budget shortfall over the next two years.

But casinos stand to lose plenty as a result of shouldering the budget burden. Argosy said Monday that the higher tax would force a decrease in its per share earnings by 25-30 cents this year.

And shares in other Illinois casino companies were down in mid afternoon trading on Monday, with Penn National, which owns Hollywood Casino in Aurora, losing more than 4%.


LIKE ANOTHER ”˜LITTLE BIGHORN’: Since the voters of California provided Native Americans with a casino monopoly, card rooms in the state have been falling like dominoes.

As Haig Kelegian, owner of the 151-table Bicycle Club near Los Angeles, told the Sacramento Bee that "We can’t compete. We need help because, eventually, our business is going to go down the drain."

For many California card clubs, that day of reckoning has already come. In its heyday in the late 80s and early 90s, a period when the federal government made tens of thousands of dollars as a 50% owner of the Bicycle Club, the number of licensed card clubs exceeded 240. Now, there are barely over 100 clubs, with most of these operating fewer than 10 tables.

So far, efforts at gaining assistance from the state legislature have failed, surprising no one. After all, the biggest lobbying group in Sacramento are the Indians!


WHERE ART THOUGH LENNY? Why, he’s in Fargo, N.D. That’s where Lenny Del Genio, longtime Las Vegas race and sports book director, was found by the New York Post’s Page Six gossip column.

With all the turmoil in the editorial room of the N.Y. Times, the Post reached out to "one of our favorite oddsmakers, Lenny Del Genio," for his line on who will be the first Times executive to get the ax.

Del Genio, who spent years posting his lines at the old Frontier and Bally’s casinos, now sets up racing sports books for Racing Services Inc.

In his opinion, the two most likely candidates to depart the Times are Howell Raines, the executive editor who personally guided the career of admitted copycat Jayson Blair, and Raines’ associate, Gerald Boyd, managing editor.

"It’s an exacta that they leave together," Del Genio said.


THEY COULDN’T SHAKE HIM LOOSE: Move over Bill Bennett, there’s a guy in northern Japan who is taking the heat for his love of a slot machine. Well, actually, it isn’t quite a slot machine, at least not in the eyes of Japanese regulators.

The machines are called pachinko games and they probably fall into the category of a pinball machines, which the Japanese use to gamble.

Recently, Takashi Chiba, who was the acting governor of a northern Japanese state, was playing pachinko when a powerful earthquake hit the area. But that didn’t stop Chiba from playing. In fact, he continued to play for at least a half-hour after the temblor struck, injuring an estimated 100 people.

Chiba didn’t offer an alibi for his actions, although he came under tremendous pressure. Enough pressure developed that he resigned his post "for personal reasons."


LET THE FUN BEGIN: After weathering political pressure relative to his operation of Vernon Downs, the harness racing track near Syracuse, N.Y., Las Vegas entrepreneur Shawn Scott has been beating the drum to get more people to attend the races.

As an added attraction, the track will host, "The Dead Summer Getaway 2003" tour on Sunday, June 29. The band consists of former Grateful Dead members.

How attractive is the promotion?

Vernon Downs officials say they already have sold more than 10,000 tickets.