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MGM MIRAGE expands U.K. presence
with major alliance

Apr 20, 2004 4:38 AM

Despite industry concerns that a study commission’s recommendations as to modifying the gaming laws in the United Kingdom failed to go far enough, MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGG) has shown a renewed commitment in British gaming by signing a strategic alliance with one of that nation’s leading private landowners and property developers.

The U.S. gaming firm announced on Monday that its strategic alliance with Peel Holdings plc will focus on the development of several multi-purpose leisure, entertainment and gaming complexes in a number of the UK’s leading cities including Liverpool, Manchester, Salford and Glasgow.

The first phase of the gaming and related elements of the proposed schemes, the company announced, has a potential projected cost in excess of 650 million pounds sterling, the equivalent of $1.1 billion, which, if developed, will lead to the creation of approximately 20,000 direct and indirect new jobs together with related significant regeneration and tourism benefits.

Included among the potential projects are:

”¡ A mixed-use development of 125 acres of land known as Glasgow Harbour, currently owned by Peel Holdings, which will incorporate a casino operated by MGM MIRAGE and other related leisure facilities. If the development goes forward, the project has the potential to create as many as 2,500 direct construction jobs and 2,000 leisure-related jobs, the company said.

”¡ A multi-purpose leisure and gaming development at Sportcity in East Manchester, adjacent to the Manchester stadium.

”¡ A 20,000 seat sports stadium, casino and hotel in Salford adjacent to the Manchester Ship Canal, and

”¡ A formal expression of interest with Liverpool City Council to develop on land known as King’s Waterfront.

The chief executives of the two companies involved in the alliance praised the move as the creation of a firm that will transform the leisure opportunities of the country.

"Our companies unrivalled reputations, manpower and financial resources," said Terry Lanni, chairman and CEO of MGM MIRAGE Inc., "create a partnership singularly positioned to develop multiple projects of this scale while maintaining unparalleled levels of quality."

John Whittaker, chairman of Peel Holdings Plc., called the alliance, "the ideal partnership to bring the best possible gaming experience to the UK."

Bigger and better

Argosy Gaming Inc. (AGY), the operator of the Argosy Sioux City riverboat, has promised a bigger and better gaming facility now that the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has approved a plan for a $21 million improvement project.

"This will be a very elegant facility with chandeliers, high ceilings, wall-to-wall carpet and decorations," promised the riverboat’s general manager. Actually, the company plans to accomplish most of this by transferring a riverboat from berth in Kansas City, Mo.

The replacement boat, which will triple the gaming space now available in Sioux City, has been replaced at its Missouri location by a larger facility.’

Company officials said that Argosy IV will begin navigating up the Missouri River to Sioux City, Iowa, in May and should reach its destination by late July or early August.

Canadian casino

Century Casinos Inc. (CNTY) is making progress in its attempt to open a casino in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

The company said Monday it has received notice from the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission that it has been selected as the only one of six applicants to move to step seven of eight steps of the casino licensing process.

Step Seven was described as the "investigation state of the casino facility application process."

The company said its plans called for the construction of the Celebrations Casino and Hotel in two phases, the first of which would have a casino operating with 600 slot machines, 30 house-banked table games and a 12-table poker room within a year.

THE INSIDER: March gaming revenues were either flat or down for the two tribal casinos in Connecticut. Foxwood Resort Casino reported a 3.8% decline this year against last year’s revenues while Mohegan Sun was up .08%. Spokesmen said the fact that the month had two fewer weekend days affected the month’s revenues.

Much was made a few months ago when it was announced that Donald Trump bought a 10% interest in Riviera Holdings Corp., with some observers believing that he was preparing a move on the company. However, after several months of inactivity, Trump sold his 358,000 shares for $10 a share, a premium on the current market price of $9 a share.

Maine legislators have defeated a bill that would have permitted some charitable groups to operate slot machines.

Should Nebraska voters approve casinos during a November referendum, Sheldon Adelson and his Las Vegas casino, the Venetian, would like to be involved, according to a company spokesman.

Stocks in Shuffle Master Inc. (SHFL) were split 3-2 in trading prior to the opening of the market on Monday. The split was originally announced on March 17.

Two gaming companies will report their quarterly fiscal results in conference calls this week. Station Casinos Inc. (STN) will report at 9 a.m. PDT on Tuesday, April 22, while Boyd Gaming Corporation (BYD) will report on Tuesday, April 22, at 2 p.m. PDT.

Multimedia Games Inc. (MGAM) will report on Wednesday, April 28, at l:30 p.m. PDT.

Greektown Casino in Detroit, Mich., says it will double the number of poker tables it has in its casino. The announcement said they would now offer 16 poker tables featuring both No Limit Texas Hold’em and Seven Card Stud.

Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN) says it will pay $5 million to anyone who enters its free contest and correctly names the finishers (expected to be 20 in number) in exact order. As a consolation prize, the company said, it will pay $25,000 to the contestant that has the most correct answers but fails to correctly identify them all.

GTECH Holdings Corp. (GTK) said earnings for the quarter that ended on Feb. 28, was up 14%, primarily due to acquisitions and higher lottery ticket sales. Net income rose to $47.8 million or $0.72 a share compares to $41.9 million or $0.72 a share last year.

Moody’s Investors Service has assigned a Ba2 rating to Boyd Gaming Corporation’s proposed $1.5 billion senior secured bank credit facility and has affirmed the company’s existing ratings.