Gaughan, like Adelson, sees
gold in Omaha, Neb., casino

May 4, 2004 4:49 AM

Michael Gaughan, who has a majority interest in Coast Casinos in Las Vegas, has joined the call for a gaming license in Nebraska with hopes of establishing a hotel/casino on Omaha, Neb.’s riverfront.

Such a project, he told an Omaha newspaper last week, would "put a major dent" in the Iowa casinos that attract many Nebraskans to their properties. He added that he believed that an Omaha casino would attract as much as 75% of the Iowa casinos’ patronage. Particularly affected would be the casinos in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Gaughan is eyeing an undeveloped piece of land south of Eppley Airfield where he would construct a $300 million facility.

Currently the only plan to be acted on by the electorate in November is one that proposes two casinos that could be located in any part of the state. A group called Keep the Money in Nebraska is circulating a petition to allow two casinos in Omaha but also would allow slot machines in restaurants, bars, keno parlors and horse tracks.

Previously announced were plans by Las Vegas gaming mogul Sheldon Adelson for a casino in Omaha.

Windsor still closed

Both sides in a labor dispute that has closed the Casino Windsor on the Canadian side of the Detroit River thought the issues were resolved last week only to find the agreement rejected by the union members.

Although the vote that saw 57% of the union members opposed to the collective bargaining agreement normally sends both sides back to the bargaining table, there were no talks set following the vote.

The union represents about 3,500 employees including table game dealers, change persons, security guards and other casino staff who retained to the picket lines that were set up when the casino was closed on April 2.

The average pay for casino workers, officials said, was $15.53 per hour.

Chief beneficiaries of the casino closing were the three Detroit casinos.

Casinos fined

Dealing with violations that have been reported to gaming regulators in Indiana since 2000, the Indiana Gaming Commission last week ordered the payment of $688,000 in penalties against three casino operators.

Most heavily fined was Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) for a total of $375,000 for violations such as failing to safeguard money; not having the proper number of employees at its craps tables and failing to have a security guard posted at all times in the poker room.

Also fined was Trump Casino (DJT) in Gary $213,000, and Argosy Casino (AGY) in Lawrenceburg $100,000.

During the meeting, the commission gave tentative approval for Harrah’s plan to take ownership of the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond.

THE INSIDER: Gaming industry veteran Richard Irvine has been named senior vice president of sales for the Alliance Gaming Corp.’s (AGI) Bally Gaming and Systems business. He has held several major executive positions including being president and COO of Mikohn Gaming Corporation.

The Kansas Senate has rejected efforts to have a gambling bill passed. They voted 26-14 to expand gambling in the state.

Mikohn Gaming Corporation (MIKN) has received approval from Gaming Laboratories International for its Garfield slot game and the final version of its Ticket In/Ticket Out operating system.

The Sands Regent (SNDS) has completed the purchase of Rail City Casino in Sparks, Nev., from Alliance Gaming Corporation (AGI). The company paid Alliance $37 million in cash and a $900,000 promissory note for the property.

Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN) said it set a record for total wagering on the 130th Kentucky Derby and the surrounding race card on Saturday. Final tally showed $142,775,857 wagered for the day, topping the previous North American record by 2%. Derby betting rose 13% to $87.968,037.

Stockholders of both Boyd Gaming Corporation (BYD) and Coast Casinos Inc. have approved the previously announced merger of the two companies, according to official announcements.

Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) says its directors have declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.30 to be paid on May 26 to shareholders of record on May 12.

Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. (ISLE) has promoted John Bohannon as vice president and general manager of the company’s Isle of Capri-Bossier City, La. Casino.