Posted At : September 10, 2009 12:03 PM | Posted By : D McKee
Related Categories: LVCVA,TV,Lake Tahoe,MGM Mirage,Bally Technologies,North Las Vegas,Marketing,Alex Yemenidjian,Atlantic City,The Strip,CityCenter,Sheldon Adelson,Laughlin,Detroit,Economy,Reno,Station Casinos
Dipping into the dispatch box, S&G finds the following tidbits, courtesy of the nice people at J.P. Morgan:
Alex Yemenidjian is serious about revamping the Tropicana Las Vegas. He's just inked a contract with Bally Technologies for a player-tracking system and other BYI goodies ...
... fading interest in MGM Grand Detroit has caused MGM Mirage to take it off the market. Also, with the company looking at price concessions to its CityCenter condo buyers (i.e., forfeiting money it was counting on to finance CityCenter), it may need to borrow against its Detroit palace, one of the few MGM properties still unencumbered ...
... Atlantic City, like Macao, is and will probably always be essentially a daytripper market. So there's symmetry in the fact that China State Construction Engineering Corp. has been signed to finish the stalled Revel project on the Boardwalk, to the tune of $1.7 billion. A July 11 opening is predicted. This is the best news to emerge from Atlantic City in quite a long while.
Speaking of good news, gaming revenues for Nevada's July are in and, basically, they don't suck. Yes, the Silver State was down 8% and the Strip was 11%. But June's year/year comparisons were far suckier (-15% on the Strip), so there's some consolation to be had. In fact, compared to a series of truly craptacular year/year comparisons -- all in double digits, except for last May -- it's darn near cause for celebration.
Table game drop was down overall but the casinos played lucky, particularly at baccarat. (Watch the first-season Mission Impossible episode "Odds on Evil," if you need a quick primer on this game. You'll get scintillating performances by Martin Landau and Barbara Bain in the bargain.)
Slot play is way down (-17.5% win on -15% handle) and North Las Vegas, bouyed by Aliante Station, was the only part of Clark County to have a positive month. Laughlin got hammered pretty badly (-19%) and neither Reno (-21%) nor South Lake Tahoe (-33%) seems likely to ever fully recover from tribal competition across the border, Tahoe especially. If there was a moment for some "unbundling" by overexposed companies, this is it.
Didn't get the memo. Would somebody break into the R&R Partners biosphere and let oxygen into the office of Billy Vassiliadis? "Billy V" was the author of this boneheaded pensée, which he shared with the Los Angeles Times:
"You've got to drop your rates, but you don't want to create a sense that this is a discount experience or that the experience itself has been diminished."
What the ... ? Las Vegas' recent success was built on the perception (and actuality) of a "discount experience," and lower prices are unlikely to "diminish" a tourist destination that is now synonymous with exclusivity and unaffordability. Vassiliadis, like Sheldon Adelson and the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, seems convinced that the current doldrums are -- to use my favorite Internet-board gaffe -- "a blimp [sic] on the radar."
They need to wrap their heads around the reality that 2004-like levels of business were damned good at the time (superb, in fact) and that Vegas needs to get back to the value-based messages that fueled the preceding 15 years of growth. Or, as David G. Schwartz writes in a particularly trenchant DieIsCast.com entry: "Of course, unpredictable events can make a hash of any predictions, so it’s possible that five years from now the casino industry will be employing 100,000 more people than it does today. That would be after the federal government offers Americans a $10,000 annual tax credit against travel to Las Vegas, and Las Vegas alone."
Seems like some folks in the marketing bidness should be taking Dr. Schwartz's classes.