announcement that Kirk Kerkorian plans to significantly
add to his majority stake in MGM Mirage is the most recent
indication that the men who have invested money in the
casino business have faith in their operations and their
plans for expansions.
Las Vegas casino resort business has proved to be a fantastic
long-term investment, share prices this year have lagged.
But the city's
top operators believe in their businesses.
also has been demonstrated by the friendly $15.5 billion
offer made by two private investment groups for Harrah's
Entertainment and Securities and Exchange Commission filings
by Wynn Resorts that set the stage for Chairman Steve
Wynn and partner Kazuo Okada to increase their combined
stakes in the company above 50 percent.
When the smartest
people in the resort business put additional money into
their companies, I think it's a good sign for the strength
of the Las Vegas economy - and probably a good example
for other investors looking for a smart place to park
their investment capital.
One of the
most troublesome reports from this year's Global Gaming
Expo was the suggestion from Nevada gaming regulators
that they may be willing to consider allowing casinos
with server-based slot machines to change payouts based
on the customer playing the game.
In other words,
a big-bucks player who is a good customer at a casino
(and recognized by the slot club card she inserts into
the machine) could be allowed to play a game with a more
generous payout percentage than another player playing
the exact same game and denomination who is a less valued
be bad for Nevada, and unfair for the customer.
already reward their best players with more slot club
points and point multipliers, more comps and better perks
- and that's fine.
be allowed to reward their best customers, but the games
themselves should not play favorites.
off the street should have the same opportunity to play
a game with 99.9 percent expected return (or any other
game and return) as the casino's best player. Just because
the new technology provides the opportunity for casinos
to alter the games and payouts a gambler can play doesn't
mean it should be allowed.
Board member Mark Clayton told one G2E seminar that he
would be willing to consider allowing the change, suggesting
that the decision should be left up to operators.
sure many casino operators would agree with Clayton, I
think the move would be bad for the state.
should protect the state's reputation as a place where
a gambler can get a fair bet.
to download more generous games to their best (biggest
betting) players and download less generous games to lesser
players would be a reverse Robin Hood system, with the
extra per-spin losses from less-favored customers allowing
bigger payouts to better customers.
Can you imagine
a similar system at work on table games? Preferred players
betting $100 at blackjack might be given a full 3 to 2
($150) payout on a natural 21, while new players wagering
the same $100 at the same table would only get a 6 to
5 ($120) return for the same blackjack.
That just smells
bad, and so does the same idea applied to the slots.
need to focus more on protecting gambling consumers and
the state's reputation and worry less about being casino
industry yes men and women.