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English firm plans $225 million casino complex, if...

Oct 19, 2004 7:00 AM

When England moves forward in its intent to deregulate gaming, the landscape won’t be left to American companies to develop. At least one British firm is prepared to build its own Las Vegas-style casino.

Stanley Leisure Plc announced Monday it planned to build a $225 million casino-complex in the northern city of Leeds, creating more than 1,000 jobs. The company said it hoped to capitalize on Britain’s planned reform of its 40-year-old gambling laws.

Peter Hain, the leader of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s party in the House of Commons, said last week that the gambling bill will be introduced before Queen Elizabeth II officially opens the next session of the Parliament on Nov. 23.

Following the announcement, Caesars Entertainment Inc. (CZR) said it plans to build a $600 million resort on the 13 acres adjoining the famed Wembley Arena and National Stadium. The company said it was teaming up with the U.K.’s Quintain Estates and Development Plc, a firm that specializes in property investments.

The addition of a casino to the Wembley project will be the next stage in Quintain’s plans to revitalize Wembley in northwest London. However, the casino project will only go forward if gaming is deregulated.

Addressing the change in the gaming laws, a spokesman for the Department for Culture Media and Sport said that unless the legislation meets significant opposition, the law could be passed by the middle of next year.

The draft of the new regulation eliminates the current rule that requires casino goers to register 24 hours in advance and permits the larger casinos to install as many as 1,200 slot machines.

Also waiting in the wings with casino plans of their own are MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGG), and Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET).

Poker route sale

Alliance Gaming Corp. (AGI) said Monday it had completed the sale of its 49% interest in a New Orleans, La., slot route. The entire Video Service Inc. (VSI), operator of a 730-machine slot route, was purchased by Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN) for $4 million.

Alliance Gaming received $1,960,000 for its interest.

The announcement came on the heels of another announcement by Alliance Gaming relative to its slot machine activity. The company said it had signed a multiyear licensing agreement with Electronic Arts Inc. to develop a series of games based on EA’s Pogo.com online game Internet site.

Included in the Pogo portfolio were the titles Poppit!, Greenback Bayou, Swashbucks, Pop Fu, Tri-Peaks Solitaire, Dice Derby and Poppa Zoppa.

Smokeless gaming

They’re still smoking around the blackjack tables at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City but the smoke isn’t bothering the dealers. That’s because the table was specially constructed to "wave" the smoke away.

Borgata’s operators have installed 120 custom-built tables that were developed by Paul-Son Gaming Supplies, a Las Vegas-based subsidiary of Gaming Partners International (GPIC)

The tables have a built in Air Rail System that feeds four small slots on the table felt just in front of the dealer’s chip float. The slots are connected to duct work contained beneath the table’s surface that subtly clear the air in front of the dealer.

Paul Mollo, Borgata’s director of casino administration, called the tables a winner. "When you’re dealing and the smoker is right in front of you, like on a blackjack table, that’s when you need it. I had dealers coming up to me every day thanking me, saying it really works."

Maine license

After much delay, the Maine Harness Racing Commission has voted 4-1 to grant a harness racing license to Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN).

The company plans to conduct harness racing at Bangor Historic Track in Bangor, Maine, assuming the company is successful in receiving a gaming license from the Gaming Control Board. That would permit them to install slot machines at the track.

Penn National bought the track from Las Vegas entrepreneur Shawn Scott who is in a position to receive some $30 million when all the licenses are in place.

There was no word on when the gambling board will address Penn National’s gaming license application.

Fed handout?

New Mexico’s newest legal discussion revolves around Social Security and whether the retirement checks fall under the category of "government assistance."

The matter came up when it was learned that SunRay Park horse track has been cashing their customers’ Social Security checks. State law prohibits tracks from cashing "government assistance" checks such as welfare checks and child-support payments.

The legal counsel for the state Gaming Control Board says SS checks are really "retirement money" and they don’t fall under the category of governmental assistance. But the executive director of the New Mexico Coalition Against Gambling disagrees.

Cashing Social Security checks is "just outrageous," he said, adding, "It belies everything they say about watching out for problem gamblers."

SunRay says it will comply with the law, regardless how it is interpreted.

Earnings reports

More gaming companies have announced their dates for reporting their quarterly fiscal results. Among these are:

Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN), on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at 3:30 p.m. PDT.

Alliance Gaming Corp. (AGI), on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 7 a.m. PDT.

Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN) on Tuesday, Oct. 26, at 4 a.m. PDT.

Riviera Holdings Corporation (RIV), on Tuesday, Oct. 26, at 11 a.m. PDT.

WMS Industries Inc. (WMS), on Tuesday, Oct. 26, at l:30 p.m. PDT.

Argosy Gaming Company (AGY), on Wednesday, Oct. 27, at 8 a.m. PDT.

Mikohn Gaming Corporation (MIKN), on Wednesday, Nov. 3, at 8 a.m. PDT.

THE INSIDER: Shuffle Master Inc. (SHFL) has been named one of the country’s 200 Best Small Companies by Forbes magazine. This was the sixth consecutive year the company has been selected for the honor.

Magna Entertainment Corp. (MECA) says it has negotiated the extension of two credit facilities, one for $50 million, and the other for $75 million.

Nevada casinos won $905.1 million during the month of August, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. This was an increase of 11.2% over last year.

Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN) has closed its $46 million transaction to acquire the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, La.

Shares in Multimedia Games Inc. (MGAM) took a huge dip last week following the company’s announcement that its earnings would be substantially lower than previously announced for the fourth quarter and for the entire fiscal year.

Scientific Games Corporation (SGMS) has joined with Electronic Game Card Inc. (EGM) to market and promote Electronic Game Card products to U.S. lottery operators.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley have initiated coverage of WMS Industries Inc. (WMS) with a rating of overweight.

Philadelphia Atty. Thomas A. Decker has been selected by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell as that state’s newest gaming commissioner.

AFL-CIO officials want Linda C. Faiss removed from several committees as a director of Aztar Corporation (AZR). They charge that there is a conflict of interest since her husband, Robert Faiss of Lionel Sawyer Collins law firm, is gaming counsel for Aztar.