MGM Mirage has announced that it's writing off approximately $1.3 billion (i.e., taking an "impairment charge") against CityCenter, with $348 million of that chalked up to falling real estate values. (Some $174 million of that will apparently be fobbed off on MGM's partners, bringing MGM's writeoff down to $1.1 billion.) The value of MGM's half-share of the project has been restated at $2.44 billion (a 31% decline). No word yet from Dubai World as to what it thinks its half of CityCenter is worth.
Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp. shook a rhetorical fist at Wall Street, stating in a press release that there is "substantial unrecognized value in MGM and CityCenter that is not reflected in the market value of MGM’s stock." It's nice to know that even mega-corporations can feel underappreciated.
Bottoming out? Air traffic into and out of Las Vegas was almost flat, year over year, -1.2% in September, helped by passenger-load increases -- and I don't mean those hefty people who take up two seats -- on nearly every domestic carrier not named US Airways (-26%). Considering that international traffic was -21%, this is augurs well for a return of domestic consumer confidence in Sin City. And, yes, flat is the new "up."
Pennsylvania: Rendell intervenes. Never accuse the Keystone State Lege of acting in haste. The table games bill is still mired in conference committe, prompting Gov. Ed Rendell (D) to wade into the fray. Rendell's magic number for the amount of revenue table games must yield in fees and taxes is $200 million. To get there, the guv believes the tax rate must be 16%. But he's closer to the GOP position, warning that the higher levies favored by Dems would "kill the golden goose" and deprive Little Johnny's school of needed funding. Meanwhile, Rivers Casino continues to disappoint, with the lowest revenue-per-slot in the state.
Finally, a taker! Out of left field, a contender has emerged for the orphaned casino license in Cherokee and Crawford counties in Kansas. You'll recall that it was awarded to Penn National Gaming, seemingly ages ago, but Penn -- spooked by nearby tribal competition -- all but spat on the license before leaving in a huff.
Enter Ozark Trail Gaming, a consortium of Kansas businessmen, offering to build a $225 million, 900-slot, 30-table casino. After some bad experiences with carpetbagger casino developers trying to dictate terms to the Sunflower State, you have to think the Kansas Lottery Board will look kindly upon this native-son effort.
ColSux loses again. A $41.5 million summary judgment has been slapped on Columbia Sussex for abrogating its purchase of the President riverboat in St. Louis (now the property of ColSux arch-foe Pinnacle Entertainment). Regulators for Missouri didn't like the looks of ColSux and its CEO, William J. Yung III (above). The latter pulled his license application and used that as an excuse to void the President purchase, but a federal district judge wasn't buying it.
The former President owners were also suing ColSux for jacking up parking rates for casino patrons by 560% (no, that is not a typo), a truly Yungian move. If poetic justice were served in this case, the court would award the ship to ColSux. Since the President's days on the water are numbered and Yung will licensed in Missouri only in his wildest dreams, trying to dispose of that near-worthless asset might be the aptest punishment of all.