Policy change roils Atlantic City; Stratosphere scheduled for makeover

In what we can expect to be a trend rolled out nationwide, Caesars Entertainment is using its Atlantic City casinos to experiment with cutting back on waitresses. It’s not like we didn’t have fair warning of this: One of the big arguments in favor of server-based slots was that you could make your drink order without waiting for a waitress, all thanks to the machine. That is what is happening now. If the time-and-motion boffins at Caesars like what they see, any outpost of the Roman empire could be next. But it’s not as though the waitstaff is taking this lying down. Local 54 of Unite-Here is protesting, partly because the new regime prevents waitresses to gauge a patron’s level of intoxication before bringing him another drink. (Customers, incidentally, love the new policy.)

Said union research analyst Ben Begleiter, “God forbid that someone is intoxicated and gets in a car and Continue reading

Posted in ACEP, Atlantic City, Churchill Downs, Dining, Golden Gaming, Harrah's, IGT, International, Internet gambling, Mandalay Bay Massacre, Marketing, Maryland, MGM Mirage, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, Regulation, Scientific Games, Slot routes, Sports, Unite-Here, West Virginia | 1 Comment

Quote of the Day

“We are always evaluating our services and the associated fees with the goal of delivering the best guest experience.” — e-mail from Las Vegas Sands, bragging on their tops-in-Vegas resort fees.

Posted in Resort fees, Sheldon Adelson | 1 Comment

Vegas soccer no sure thing; Scientific Games wins thrice over

A perspicacious gentleman named Steven R. Brown wrote the following on Facebook in response to my reportage of the apparent shelving of Wynn Paradise Park: “Steve Wynn‘s creativity can be outlandish at times (Like his idea back in the early 90s to turn parts of Downtown Las Vegas into a mini-Venice.) and at times, a stroke of genius (Mirage and Bellagio.). Paradise Park is a mix of the two. The lagoon itself is not a bad concept and would fit in with overall property. The amusement park rides and the giant ape belongs down the street at Circus Circus, not at a high-end resort. Make it something that brings to mind somewhere like the French and Italian Rivera.”

And then to the topic of major-league sports and Sin City …

MGM Resorts is going to be fighting with a number of cities for Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Arizona, California, Charity, Detroit, Downtown, Environment, Florida, International, MGM Mirage, Missouri, Ohio, Scientific Games, Sports, Steve Wynn, Texas, The Strip, Wynn Resorts | 1 Comment

Atlantic City slumps; New wrinkle in Lake Tahoe

First the good news: Internet gambling revenue was 17.5% last month, grossing $22 million. Golden Nugget continues to wildly dominate this
category, up to 36% of market share. Borgata and Resorts Digital were tied for a distant second with 17% each. Now for the bad news. Terrestrial casinos continued to slump, with the Boardwalk down 9%. Even the big dog, Borgata, was off 5.5%, grossing $55 million. (That looks like a typo but isn’t.) Table games revenue bit the big one, falling 9.5% to $15.5 million, while slot revenues were 3.5% off, to $38 million on flat coin-in. Elsewhere in the market, the Caesars Entertainment portfolio sagged 12.5% for a $60 million. (Note that it takes Caesars three casinos to equal or surpass Borgata.) Caesars Interactive is also suffering, settling into last place with 14.5% of market share.

Citywide, the $124 million in slot revenue was down 6% on 4% less coin-in while tables suffered from both a 12.5% decline in wagering and a 16% drop in wagering. To say the house lost would be Continue reading

Posted in Atlantic City, Bart Blutsten, Boyd Gaming, Dan Gilbert, Detroit, Eldorado Resorts, Golden Gaming, Greenwood Racing, Hard Rock International, Harrah's, Internet gambling, Lake Tahoe, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Neil Bluhm, Penn National, Pennsylvania, Pinnacle Entertainment, Tilman Fertitta, Tropicana Entertainment | 1 Comment

Ruthless resort-fee robbery; Minstrel show at NY-NY

What do you do when occupancy declines? Why, raise the resort fees, of course! The odious levies went up 16% in 2016 and 11% last year, for an average of $34/night. Venetian/Palazzo recently upped its impost to $45 and other companies (we’re looking at you, MGM Resorts International) are expected to swiftly follow suit. Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli calls resort fees “a healthy baseline for ADR growth.” We call them a low-down, dirty form of highway robbery. In 2016, 39% of room-rate growth was represented by resort fees and at least 46% last year. It looks to be worse still in 2018. No wonder that AirBnb is catching on in Las Vegas. Why get ripped off by the casino barons when you can stay in a nice home, away from the madness of the Las Vegas Strip?

Although, according to Santarelli, Las Vegas Sands has been the main driver of resort-fee increases, is hasn’t done Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Dining, Entertainment, Law enforcement, MGM Mirage, Resort fees, Sheldon Adelson, The Strip, Wall Street | 1 Comment

Pennsylvania casino draws no bids; Louisiana: Raise the levies!

What if they gave a casino and nobody came? That’s literally what took place in Pennsylvania where the fifth mini-casino license received no bids. Nada. Nix. Bupkes. From this point forward, Valley Forge Casino and Lady Luck Nemacolin will be allowed to bid but ownership of the first is in transition and the second makes so little scratch that it’s hard to see it ponying up the $7.5 million minimum bid. So what happened? Sands Bethlehem was busy selling to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians but what’s your excuse Neil Bluhm, Watouchke “Bob” Manoukian and Caesars Entertainment? Perhaps they are deterred by what is likely to be an investment in excess of $300 million. Penn National Gaming would only say it is “evaluating” whether or not to add a second mini-casino to its fold. Mind you, at some point the process will be opened to out-of-state operators and then it’s anybody’s ballgame. The one sure winner in this is Continue reading

Posted in Boyd Gaming, Churchill Downs, DFS, Greenwood Racing, Internet gambling, Iowa, Louisiana, Neil Bluhm, Penn National, Pennsylvania, Pinnacle Entertainment, Politics, Problem gambling, Racinos, Sheldon Adelson, Taxes, Tribal | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“I think that the younger population is more promiscuous today than probably ever before.” — Dr. Frank DiCenco of Premier Women’s Health, in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Oh, those wacky Millennials!

Posted in Pennsylvania | Leave a comment

Sands Bethlehem becomes Wind Creek; Brazil nixes casinos

Sands Bethlehem‘s buyers are letting no grass grow beneath their feet. The Poarch Bank of Creek Indians will rename the megaresort Wind Creek Bethlehem. It remains to be seen whether they’ll have to deal with unionizing the work force: So far only security personnel are represented — the first union contract Las Vegas Sands ever signed. Wall Street continues to wax skeptical on the deal, with Jeffries analyst David Katz not budging off his “Hold” rating for LVS: “Given the company’s prior efforts to sell the property, increasing competition in the Northeast, and Pennsylvania’s recent legislative rulings, we believe the announcement is modestly positive for the shares but does not alter our neutral stance on the shares.”

Added Joseph Weinert of Spectrum Gaming Group, “A lot of people in the industry are going to be watching to see if this tribe has Continue reading

Posted in Entertainment, Harrah's, International, Japan, Kazuo Okada, Pennsylvania, Politics, Sheldon Adelson, Station Casinos, Tribal, Wall Street, Wynn Resorts | Leave a comment

Sands Bethlehem (finally) sold; Stratosphere battered

Never underestimate the power of electronic bingo. It’s the capital derived therefrom that’s enabling the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to make a $1.3 billion purchase of Sands Bethlehem. The tribe is succeeding where Tropicana Entertainment and MGM Resorts International failed. Sheldon Adelson said, “Sands Bethlehem has become one of the leading regional entertainment and gaming destinations in the United States and we are extremely proud of the positive contributions the property has made for Bethlehem,” without explaining his motives for selling. However, it was always the red-headed stepchild of the Las Vegas Sands family so maybe the price was finally right.

Although the Poarch Band’s Wind Creek Hospitality already owns poker rooms in Florida, casinos in Continue reading

Posted in Alabama, Florida, Foxwoods, Golden Gaming, International, Japan, Law enforcement, Macau, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Politics, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, Singapore, The Strip, Tribal, Tropicana Entertainment, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Paradise lost; MGM contemplates CityCenter buyout

Steve Wynn‘s executive chair isn’t even cold yet and already Wynn Resorts is shifting its priorities, evidently. Yesterday Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli wrote that he believes the company “is likely to complete its convention space at Paradise Park and move to Wynn West, leaving the Paradise Park hotel and lagoon project for further consideration.” So say goodbye to nightly fireworks, free ice cream and giant apes, animatronic or otherwise. And take a good look at that rendering of Wynn Paradise Park because you’re probably never going to see it again. Wynn Resorts, if Santarelli is right, is moving away from the experimental, sometimes daffy things that Steve Wynn would initiate and towards what it understands: another hotel-casino on the Strip. Here’s hoping they try some new ideas in architecture and that Wynn West won’t look like the afterbirth of the amours of Wynn Las Vegas and Encore. It’s a good thing the company didn’t completely rip up the golf course, lest that acreage remain fallow. In an unrelated (?) development, Dr. Ray Irani abruptly resigned from the board of directors, while Alvin Shoemaker will step down at the end of his term.

In a piece of good news for WYNN shareholders, the company settled its lawsuit with Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Churchill Downs, CityCenter, Dubai, Florida, Illinois, Japan, Kazuo Okada, Macau, Massachusetts, MGM Mirage, Pennsylvania, Politics, Steve Wynn, The Strip, Wall Street, Wynn Resorts | 1 Comment

Indiana suffers, Ohio not so much; Station’s surprise

While its $170 million gross looked a lot better than Illinois‘ $104 million, Indiana saw its gamblers stay home in droves — 24% less foot traffic, although those who showed up seemed to have spent 21%. In any event, gambling revenue tumbled 8%. Most the action was in the Chicagoland area, which produced (when blended with casinos on the Illinois side of the border) $147 million in revenue, also down 8%. Safe in Lawrenceburg, nearer the Kentucky market than thee, Penn National Gaming‘s riverboat made $14.5 million, up 6%. Other operators got hammered, including Pinnacle Entertainment (-12%), Caesars Entertainment (-18%) and Boyd Gaming (-16%). There’s no way to be certain, but all three are heavily invested in the northern tier, where Four Winds Casino could be inflicting depredations on their player base as customers try out the new kid on the block.

Belterra, which has never been the same since gambling came to Ohio, was down 21%, for a Continue reading

Posted in Boyd Gaming, Churchill Downs, Economy, Eldorado Resorts, George Maloof, GLPI, Hard Rock International, Harrah's, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Marketing, Ohio, Palms, Penn National, Pennsylvania, Pinnacle Entertainment, Racinos, Reno, Sports, Station Casinos, The Strip, Tribal | Leave a comment

Ground broken for Connecticut casino; Big Brother is watching you in Japan

In a damn-the-torpedoes move, Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun leaders moved forward with demolition of the cineplex that will give way to a satellite casino in East Windsor. Although only 100 people showed up for the event, spirits were high: “Cheers erupted” as the walls began to crumble and Mohegan Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown declared, “We’ve been through too much already together to give up. And we’re not going to.” Take that, MGM Resorts International. Brown and his Mashantucket Pequot counterpart, Rodney Butler, foresee a two-year construction process, by which time MGM Springfield will have been up and running about 18 months and the damage may have Continue reading

Posted in Foxwoods, Japan, Macau, Massachusetts, Melco Resorts & Entertainment, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Politics, Regulation, Sheldon Adelson, Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, Technology | 1 Comment

Pot comes to casinos, sorta; Terrible February in Illinois

In a deft bit of regulatory jujitsu, the Nevada Gaming Association has ruled that casinos can hold marijuana-related conferences, provided that they refrain from doing business with the marijuana industry (a somewhat vague directive, admittedly) nor directly involve themselves in loco-weed business. After all, no matter what Jefferson Beauregard Sessions might wish, there’s no crime in talking about wacky weed, provided nobody lights up a doobie. It’s good to see that the casino industry will see some benefit, however indirect, from Nevada‘s new status as the capital of legal reefer. Admittedly, it’s more of a boon to residents, as tourists can neither smoke in public nor in your hotel room, so pot tourism would seem to be a non-starter.

One gaming exec was put off by the NGC’s hair-splitting. “Hosting a convention for marijuana business at a casino actually provides Continue reading

Posted in Boyd Gaming, California, Environment, Hard Rock International, Illinois, Marijuana, Marketing, MGM Mirage, Nevada, Ohio, Penn National, Regulation | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“We believe the most significant changes taking place during the Palms renovations will involve returning the property to its roots. In its heyday, the Palms was one of, if not the, place to be for dining and nightlife in Las Vegas. While a lot has changed since those days, including the Strip following suit and beefing up their dining and entertainment amenities, we believe the overall experience at the Palms is set to change in a material way.” — Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli, predicting a comeback from “paltry” food and beverage revenues in 2016-17.

Posted in Dining, Palms, Station Casinos, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Slots rule in Maryland, retreat in Pennsylvania

MGM National Harbor continued its domination of Maryland last month, with a 39% market share and $53 million gross. Less reassuring for MGM execs, high-tax slots are starting to pull away from low-tax table games, two categories which used to be in 50/50 balance. In February tables raked in almost $25 million while slots banked $28.5 million. Still, when you’re grossing $1.9 million a day, taxes a relatively minor worry, especially when those slots are pulling in a way-above-average$376/win/slot/day. Gambling revenue for the Free State was up 6%, although almost all of that gain was represented by National Harbor (+16%). Maryland Live was up 1.5%, with $47 million and a 34.5% market share. Horseshoe Baltimore slipped 3% to $21.5 million, while retaining a 16% market share.

Table games really paid off for Ocean Downs. The racino, co-owned by Churchill Downs, shot out of the gate with Continue reading

Posted in Churchill Downs, Cordish Co., Economy, Genting, Golden Gaming, Harrah's, Maryland, MGM Mirage, Neil Bluhm, New York, Penn National, Pennsylvania, Racinos, Wall Street, West Virginia | Leave a comment

Mandalay Bay victims compensated; Elton John goes nuclear

There is no dollar value adequate for a human life but the going rate this week is $275,000. That’s how much will be donated to the families of each of the 58 people killed at Mandalay Bay. According to WFAA-TV, “$275,000 also will be paid to 10 other people who were paralyzed or suffered permanent brain damage in the Oct. 1 shooting on the Las Vegas Strip.” Interestingly, the victims fund that is making the payouts has a gaming-industry connection, having retained Golden Entertainment spokesman Howard Stutz to be its media representative. The gaming industry is among the 90,000 donors chipping into this GoFundMe campaign that grew into a nonprofit corporation. Seven hundred dimes came from the industry’s Vegas Strong concert, while an enterprising Henderson school raised another $66,000 (!) from T-shirt sales. And no, they probably don’t say, “I was shot in Las Vegas and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.” As far as how the money was divvied up, that was the determination of “a committee of victim advocates, mental health and medical professionals, lawyers, donors and others.” They done good.

Indecline, the activist group behind the naked Donald Trump statue has struck again. It changed a Continue reading

Posted in Charity, Entertainment, Golden Gaming, Harrah's, LVCVA, Mandalay Bay Massacre, The Strip, Tribal, Unite-Here | 2 Comments

Interruption in programming

Just minutes ago, I found myself lying on the kitchen floor, surrounded by the shattered remnants of a Stewie Griffin drinking glass. I’d had a momentary blackout and, had my loving wife not been home, perhaps it could have been worse. At any rate, God seems to be telling me, “No more S&G today.” Sorry, guys. I’ll try to do better next week.

Posted in Current | 3 Comments

Quote of the Day

“As a senator, I spent a lot of my time and effort on mental health issues. There is no question that the shooter in Parkland is, like the perpetrators of all these mass killings, deeply troubled; and in this particular case, the shooter appears to have a history of mental illness. But we need to be very careful about stigmatizing mental illness in a way that is counterproductive and may ultimately prevent Americans from accessing the treatment they need.” — Al Franken, on the need for more and better mental-health treatment in America.

Posted in Current | Leave a comment

Penn out of Jamul; Fuzzy math on the Strip

Casino companies rarely admit defeat but Penn National Gaming is bagging it where Hollywood Casino Jamul, near San Diego, is concerned. Hollywood Jamul’s debut was disastrous and Penn’s “essentially exiting” its management contract (as Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli put it) suggests that business never recovered. As a contributor to Penn’s bottom line, Jamul was a no-show: $5 million in cash flow to date and $400,000 more expected by the time the contract terminates on May 28. “Despite the inconsequential, though negative, financial impact on our estimates/[price target], we view the removal of the Jamul distraction as a modest positive,” wrote Santarelli. Penn also takes a $29.5 million hit from an unfunded loan to the tribe. “At present, PENN has $98 mm of face value debt outstanding to the Tribe and roughly $30 [million] in additional funding requirement obligations, of which $1 [million] have been drawn. Thus, PENN has in total $99 [million] of current loans outstanding to the Tribe and $128 [million] of potential total outstanding commitments. PENN has written down Continue reading

Posted in California, Economy, Genting, New York, Penn National, Pennsylvania, Sheldon Adelson, The Strip, Tourism, Tribal, Wall Street | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day

“What did the three killers have in common? Well… They gambled a lot. They were men. They were armed with guns. They killed innocent people. They were losers. They are dead now.” — Willy Allison, on the connection between problem gambling and violence.

Posted in Mandalay Bay Massacre, Philippines, Problem gambling | Leave a comment