Strip clubCries: HELP!

November 22, 2000 10:00 AM
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COMING SOON -- HOLIDAY INN! That’s what the sign outside Vacation Village reads. An in-the-knowster is confused. So am I. I always thought that the busy resort at the top of the Strip was strong.

Pipe: "So was I. And then I found out that the place filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday. Could it be that they ran out of bullets? Too much debt to pay off debtors? There’s a story going around that the Heers Family, long-standing owners of the Village, put up the Las Vegas property as equity on a deal that went sour somewhere in California.

"I wonder if that means that the Holiday Inn is moving in? I tried calling everyone, even their barrister, William McGimsey, but no one is talking.

"At the same time, Ed Nigro, an old hand as a receiver, has been appointed as the receiver for Vacation Village.

"I was able to determine the date when creditors will gather. It’s set for 1 p.m., Dec. 20. Also, the cutoff for creditors to file is March 20, 2001."

This is a surprise! Perhaps, it is truly said that all that glitters is not gold.

MIKE MOORE WITH TRIBE! Versatile gaming executive Mike Moore has been named president of Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde, Ore.

It’s a move up at an Indian land casino with plenty of potential," Moore told me.

"It has grown considerably in the past five years. Located 60 miles southwest of Portland, not far from Salem, the resort’s casino is 85,000 square feet. It has 1,200 slot machines, three craps tables, four roulette tables, 29 blackjack games, Let It Ride, Pai Gow, big six wheel, OTB, bingo, keno games and a 16-table poker room."

Moore’s tenure in the casino business is long standing. He came out of the starting gate with Harrah’s (Lake Tahoe and Reno) and served for 11 years under its late founder Bill Harrah. The years that followed included top executive stints with Steve Wynn at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, Bill Bennett at the Excalibur; MGM Grand, Caesars Palace, Foxwoods Resort and back again with Caesars World where he is director of the company’s Beverly Hills office.

READY TO OPEN! The lobby of Jackie Gaughan’s Plaza is a beehive of activity as three famous brand names prepare to open shop inside the front entrance at the top of Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

"You’ve gotta come see these places," Jackie Gaughan told me. "There will be a McDonald’s, a Subway and Starbucks Coffee. They’re very impressive looking."

The three stores have signed long-term leases with the Plaza.

"JUST SPELL THE NAME RIGHT!" That’s what a Motor City rosebud said in her report on the early success of Greektown Casino, the newest and third gambling hall to grace Detroit.

"Greektown really isn’t talking. They’re too busy counting money! Both slot and table play have been gangbusters. I hear business is exceeding that of its rivals -- MGM Detroit and Motor City. Toss in Casino Windsor just across the border. Slot play at Greektown has been phenomenal. I can’t give you any numbers as yet. However, take my word for it.

"Some are saying its above-expectation results are due to its newness. I credit all the pre-opening ink. Greektown certainly got more than its share and its locale is well-known to local customers," the rosebud added.

WHAT IS A CATEGORY KILLER? Listen to Jason Ader, senior gaming analyst with Bear Stearns. The firm began coverage of Hollywood Casino Corp. (HWD) with a buy rating.

Ader: "In our opinion, Hollywood Casino offers investors high-visibility cash flow and earnings growth over the next two years, driven by the company’s new Shreveport (La.) facility as well as expansion at its Aurora facility."

Ader believes that HWD’s Shreveport, facility (built at a cost of $230 million) could immediately realize returns of better than 23%, based on $54 million in projected earnings at the property in its first year of operation.

The company currently owns and operates a riverboat casino and entertainment complex in Aurora, Ill. It is just a stone’s throw (35 miles) west of downtown Chicago. They also have a hotel, casino and entertainment facility in Tunica, Miss., which is 30 miles south of Memphis, Tenn. The Shreveport property is 180 miles east of Dallas.

On Monday HWD closed at 10 3/16.

FIRST THINGS FIRST! That’s what a local rosebud explained this morning when I called to inquire about the nuptials that united Patty Becker and retiring Gaming Control Board Chairman Steve DuCharme, a beau of long standing.

"It was a swell affair held in San Diego. I was surprised to learn their friend, Frank Schreck was not in attendance," the rosebud said.

Where was Schreck?

"I’m sure he was there in spirit, but in reality he was attending the high school championship game between Meadows school and Lincoln.

"Frank’s son, Derek, is a junior at Meadows. He is a hot offensive tackle and his teammate, Pat Curran, son of former Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Bill Curran and longtime friend, is also a junior. Curran is a speedy running back who scored 306 yards in the championship game won by Meadows, 31-20.

"The school is gifted with casino offspring. Mike Paulos, son of Greektown Casino executive Bill Paulos, is quarterback. He tossed two touchdown passes. The son of Gaming Commission member Radha Chanderraj is a starting sophomore guard. Ashley Wynn, daughter of Kenny Wynn, is a varsity cheerleader.

"Both Schreck and Curran had parents in the stands rooting loudly. And, both football players were voted Most Valuable in the Conference by the coaches, an honor not to be taken lightly. It was Meadows second undefeated season in a row."

DON’T BET ON IT! Anthony Impreveduto, a New Jersey assemblyman (D-Hudson), is drafting legislation that would allow casino operators in Atlantic City to take their business to the Internet.

Companies would have to operate their e-casinos from the floors of their land-based casinos. And, needless to say, the state would get a cut of the action. How much? To be determined!

The assemblyman admits that his bill is a long shot. It is likely to face stiff opposition from lawmakers and gambling opponents who fear that, without proper safeguards, the kiddies will max out their parents’ credit cards or their own. Also compulsive gamblers could lose everything with just a few mouse clicks.

One insider told Gaming Today that the bill would likely require an amendment to the state constitution.

Oddly, the Garden State has no law prohibiting gamblers from placing wagers over the web, but operating an Internet casino is illegal.

IF THE MONEY LASTS, THE DICE WILL PASS! That’s the new motto for the Las Vegas Strip’s newest mega-resort, The Aladdin Resort/Hotel/Casino.

"They’re still in the ramp up stage," explained a Wall Street pipe. "And, they were unlucky in their timing because if you polled all the casinos on the Strip you would find that September was pretty lousy all around.

"So, here’s this new property and it had to try to get started in this murky atmosphere. Tough job.

"They’ve indicated that they are now seeking a cash infusion to help them get through this period and they point out that October saw business that was much improved.

"It’s a question of time and, of course, money," he said.