Editor's note: An item involving Crown Ltd. contained factual errors, which have been corrected (as you'll see). I apologize for the misinformation. My thanks to the reader who pulled my head out of my @$$.
California gamblers stay and play ... at home. While the recession has made some inroads on tribal-casino revenue in the Golden State, it's losing less ground than Las Vegas. Some of those Vegas losses will eventually be recouped, but this day of reckoning was bound to come.
Unlike Las Vegas, which is arguably suffering from having too many competing profit centers within each resort, California casino bosses interviewed still view entertainment as either a loss leader or a one-off. I never thought I'd say this but Las Vegas could use a little more "old school" thinking right now.
James Packer, the guy who can't catch a break,
is finds his casino company in even more hot water, in a case of the sins of the father being visited upon the son. The plot surrounding Crown Ltd.'s courtship of a self-banned high roller (and convicted felon) is thickening considerably. Seems paterfamilias Kerry Packer may have been pressuring crony John Williams to get pathological gambler Harry Kakavas back to the tables.
Williams, for his part, rolled on the late Mr. Packer,
who's now got some 'splainin' to do. No wonder the young Packer's pursuit of Cannery Casino Resorts collapsed like a pup tent. The money quote, if you will, is: "[Williams] said it was common for patrons to rip up [self-exclusion] cards and that, in his view, Mr Kakavas's loss of $2.3 million in 28 minutes was recreational gambling."
If you lose $82,000 per minute, it's not recreation. It's degenerate gambling.
Globe-trotting Ian Sutton is back from Macao and G2E Asia. The sights! The sounds! The smog!
(Update: Ian says it's not smog but mist, as forthcoming videos will show.)
Holy Cow II: GlobeSt.com, normally a continent source of business news, is shocked -- shocked! -- that Steve Johnson's proposed casino on the former Holy Cow site will include a Walgreens. Smelling salts, stat!
But there are some interesting revelations, For one, the reason that Palazzo's flagship retailer is also a Walgreens is that it was a compromise Sheldon Adelson effected with the landowner ... Steve Johnson. (The mere fact of Adelson compromising is newsworthy enough.)
Turns out, that purchase may set the record for an on-Strip acquisition, at an alleged $50 million per acre -- Phil Ruffin, eat your heart out! Johnson also paid through the nose for the Holy Cow site. The price? $23.5 million/acre for land north of Sahara Avenue. Egad!
Columbia Sussex's casino portfolio continues to crumble. Tropicana Entertainment parent Tropicana Casinos & Resorts is selling its Amelia Belle riverboat (thereby forfeiting the New Orleans market) barely two years after the ship was acquired. Amelia Belle is former Harrah's Entertainment vessel, having been Bally's Belle of Orleans.
It's a canny strategic move for new owner Peninsula Gaming, which now has a Louisiana riverboat as well as a racino and four OTBs, not to mention a small flotilla of Midwest riverboats. TropEnt CEO Scott Butera, meanwhile, has less and less over which to preside. At the moment, his ambit consists of four riverboats, mostly in tertiary markets, two casinos in Laughlin and one on Lake Tahoe. Is this TropEnt's future: A succession of piecemeal asset sales? Sure looks that way.
Bad news for Sheldon Adelson. Over in Singapore, rival Genting's mega-budget Resorts World at Sentosa is letting news outlets like Bloomberg know that 60% of the project will ready for a soft opening in early 2010 (i.e., February-March). Projected attendance figures have been revised 20% downward.
In a rapier thrust at Marina Bay Sands, a Genting exec said the company was having regular meetings to make sure it came in on its $4.5 billion budget. Full completion of Sentosa is projected for 2012. Sands is going to have a sufficiently tough time making its nut without Genting crashing the party so soon ... to say nothing of the fact that Genting enjoys much higher brand equity in that corner of the world.
RoboPoker has risen from the grave. Electronic table games have been OK'd for eight New York State racinos. Though the Lege hasn't signed off, the Empire State's lottery board is confident it has the authority to make this move unilaterally. Poor Atlantic City is dying the death of a thousand cuts.
Congratulations to Penn National. It's scheduled to inaugurate a new pavilion for Empress Joliet today. A March 20 fire resulted in a three-month closure of the boat and substantial fiscal hardship for Penn National. In a noble gesture, CEO Peter Carlino kept employees on the payroll even though his ship was hors de combat. Capt. Carlino, S&G salutes you.