Posted At : September 8, 2009 03:33 PM | Posted By : D McKee
Related Categories: Planet Hollywood,Entertainment,Indiana,Current,Boulder Strip,Architecture,The Strip,California,Station Casinos,CityCenter,IGT,Sheldon Adelson,Kansas,Technology,Pinnacle Entertainment,Economy,Atlantic City,Wall Street,Cordish Co.,MGM Mirage,Penn National,Boyd Gaming,WMS Industries,Ameristar,Macau,Bally Technologies
Relaxation of stringent visa restrictions from Guangdong Province came a full four months sooner than expected, starting Sept. 1. Now, residents will be able to visit Macao once a month instead of quarterly. While this has prompted J.P. Morgan to raise its price target on Las Vegas Sands stock, analysts also fret that Sands may overreact and go pedal to the metal on its unfinished Cotai Strip™ hotels.
Those same analysts are bullish on the manufacturing sector, though. They think casinos will be more willing to reinvest in the slot base as 2009 draws to a close. Also, the onward march of casino expansion means more jurisdictions and facilities to whom IGT, Bally and WMS can peddle their products. They're 'meh' on regional casino operators like Penn National, Ameristar Casinos and Pinnacle Entertainment, due to flattish performance. (Penn could catch a break in Kansas, though I still think Cordish Gaming has that sewn up.)
But that's a rave notice compared to the long face Morgan analysts pull when pondering Boyd Gaming's prospects. They cite the slow-to-recover, promo-driven locals-casino market in Las Vegas ("trickle-down" economics of the worst sort); Atlantic City's critical condition -- "the best-case scenario here is that [Borgata] would do less bad" than most of A.C. -- those blah regional metrics and new competition for the Blue Chip riverboat in Indiana, which had been looking like 2009's feel-good story.
Intriguingly, the prospect of a Strip acquistion is floated in lieu of a 'stalking horse' bid for floundering Station Casinos. Boyd's still got enough unused borrowing capacity it could even swing an acquisition of The Mirage (with money to spare), not to mention some of the lower-hanging fruit, which now includes Planet Hollywood. But if the J.P. Morgan guys are gun-shy concerning Boyd ...
They're over the moon about MGM Mirage's CityCenter: "we are increasingly under the belief that City Center will be a new must-see property for both domestic and international gamers/travelers that should drive solid visitation volumes to the Strip in 2010. We were impressed with the massive 18m-square-foot complex ... a new type of high-end product for the Strip that should garner increased trips. It has a very contemporary feel that is different than anything else on the Strip, with lots of natural light and high ceilings, interesting room product and, for a massive property, ease of getting around from one 'neighborhood' to the next."
More good news comes in the form of a press release from Commerce Casino (in Commerce, Calif.), which rolled out the welcome mat for a group of undoubtedly weary firefighters. A strike force of 30 Bay Area-based firemen is being housed in the casino's hotel, with the casino comping all meals and picking up most of the hotel tab. Let's hope that such civic-mindedness spreads through the industry like -- if you'll forgive the analogy -- wildfire.
In case it matters, "super-starlet" (yes, that's the official term) Holly Madison has been given a 12-month contract extension at Peepshow, so she's obviously earning her pay. Also, I've heard through the grapevine that she and incoming Aubrey O'Day do not get along, so the timing of the Madison announcement should make clear who's got the upper implant in this situation.