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Issue 337
February 26 - March 4, 2007
Volume 7
page 1
 

This Issue

Gaming News

Casino City's February Sweepstakes

The future giants of Internet gambling may be familiar brick and mortar names

Gambling industry: Three-ring circus of a weekend

New York tribal casino deal reached

MGM Mirage serious about AC casino

Show Time George Strait at Mohegan Sun

Column Sports betting, poker and other reader questions by John G. Brokopp

Check out our entertainment highlights & upcoming tournaments

See the lucky winners

 

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The Strip: Help wanted, a lot of it
By Howard Stutz, Las Vegas Gaming Wire

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Casino operators believe they will have no problem filling hotel rooms with guests and packing casinos with free-spending gamblers during the current building boom, which is expected to bring at least four new resorts to the Strip and an estimated 45,000 more hotel rooms to the Las Vegas market by 2012.

Finding enough employees to clean the rooms, work the restaurants and staff the casinos may not be as easy.

Deutsche Bank Securities, in a report to its investors, said the Las Vegas casino industry will need to hire some 113,500 workers for the positions being created by the new resorts. Analysts for the Wall Street investment house believe if the current growth rate in Clark County's population continues unabated, there will be a shortfall of some 25,000 jobs left unfilled.

Bill Lerner, who authored the report for Deutsche Bank, said older casinos will be hit by the open positions as qualified workers flee for newer and more attractive opportunities. Lerner said a job shift took place during the most recent casino hiring wave in 2005 and 2006. Wynn Las Vegas, the South Coast (now called South Point) and the Red Rock Resort hired workers from competing casino properties.

"Las Vegas resorts have not had an issue attracting labor, particularly at the newer high-end properties," Lerner wrote in the report that was released last month.

He said Wynn received more than 110,000 applications for 9,000 positions while Station Casinos had 100,000 applications for 2,600 jobs at Red Rock Resort. The bulk of those applications, he said, came from workers at existing Las Vegas properties.

"We believe this could occur with new supply as well, shifting workers to the newest properties, and potentially causing a shortage at older properties, " Lerner said. "Ultimately, we expect if there were a shortage, properties could buy labor if necessary, while the economy nationwide could play a part as well. We expect that a labor crunch could weigh on property margins."

The resort corridor is already swelling with construction activity. Las Vegas Sands Corp. plans to open the $1.8 billion Palazzo later this year with 3,025 rooms. Wynn Resorts Ltd. has begun construction on Encore, a $1.4 billion, 2,000-room resort expected to open in 2008. MGM Mirage's $7 billion Project CityCenter, which includes a 4,000-room hotel-casino and four high-rise condominiums and condo-hotels totaling 2,700 rooms, is also under way.

Meanwhile, Boyd Gaming Corp., is preparing the closed Stardust site for Echelon Place, a $4 billion project that totals 5,300 hotel rooms. Also, Station Casinos is expected to break ground this month on Aliante Station, a $600 million hotel-casino in North Las Vegas.

According to Deutsche Bank, the number of potential jobs is based on a formula of 2.5 workers per hotel room. The investment house also believes that Clark County's estimated average growth rate of 7,300 new residents a month through 2012 will miss the mark.

"Historically, Las Vegas population increases have fallen short of that level, with the exception of 2004 which came close with an average of almost 8,800 new residents a month," Lerner said.

He added that the economy nationwide could play a role in bringing more potential workers to Southern Nevada.

"For instance, high unemployment rates in another region could spur workers to move to Las Vegas," Lerner said.

D. Taylor, the secretary-treasurer of Culinary Workers Local 226, which represents more than 60,000 hotel and restaurant employees, agreed that a labor shortage could be on the horizon unless the casino companies begin taking steps to avert the crunch. He said the middle to upper end of the job scale would be the most impacted unless the industry undertakes a serious job training program.

Taylor said the union's Culinary Training Academy graduates 3,000 employees annually, but he'd like to see that figure climb to 7,000.

"The companies need to break through rhetoric and create internal training and mentoring programs for their workers," Taylor said. "Some have embraced that concept and it will be a big issue in the upcoming contract talks. It's imperative for the industry that a career ladder inside these companies be created so employees can develop different skills in order to better themselves."

Casino operators are mostly unconcerned about a potential labor shortage. Seeing the amount of applications filed for recent casino openings give them hope of similar numbers.

Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese said the company should begin the process for filling an anticipated 4,000 positions at the Palazzo this spring.

On the other end of the timeline, Boyd Gaming spokesman Rob Stillwell doesn't think the labor pool will dry up when Echelon Place is ready to hire workers, possibly by 2010.

Meanwhile, MGM Mirage is already taking steps to staff 12,000 positions at Project CityCenter, which covers the hotel-casino and Vdara condo tower.

The development isn't expected to open until 2009.

Richard Vosburgh, senior vice president of human resources for MGM Mirage who is overseeing the CityCenter hiring, said at least half of the development's employees will come from other company hotel-casinos. MGM Mirage operates 10 Strip casinos.

"Because 12,000 is a starting point, the ripple effect is creating a tsunami," Vosburgh said. "We'll have to fill the same position two or three times because some will leave Mirage for CityCenter and another person will leave (Treasure Island) for that position at the Mirage. That will create some challenges."

MGM Mirage expects 100,000 applications for jobs at CityCenter, which will be hiring workers after the Palazzo and Encore have filled their staffs.

"Sometimes, you'll get 10 applications for one position and three or four for another," said Michael Peltyn, vice president of staff for CityCenter.

"That's where we're challenged to grow the applicant pool," he added.


The future giants of Internet gambling may be familiar brick and mortar names
by Aaron Todd, Casino City


When The Sands announced it would open an Internet casino targeting the U.K. market in December, European gaming companies cried foul.

How could an American company open an online casino and target Europeans when the U.S. Department of Justice was prosecuting executives of regulated European Internet gaming companies that allowed U.S. players?

No one can blame Party Gaming, SportingBet and 888.com for feeling like they're getting the short end of the stick. But the Sands represents a much larger threat to traditional Internet gambling companies: Brick and mortar gaming companies looking to enter the online space.

"This is another opportunity for our company to create greater awareness of our global brands and further establish our presence and interest in the U.K. market," said Bill Weidner, the Chief Operating Officer of the Las Vegas Sands in a statement. "As the Internet gaming landscape continues to evolve, this effort will put us in a strong position to evaluate and react to other potential opportunities."

The Sands isn't alone. Dusk Till Dawn, a card room set to open in April in Nottingham, England, already has an Internet poker room up and running, and the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, Calif., has been running a play-money Internet poker room for three years.

With brand recognition, cross-promotional opportunities and the increased consumer confidence in the safety of an Internet casino run by a brick and mortar corporation, it may become difficult for Internet-only casinos to keep up.

Cross Promotion
When Rob Yong originally dreamed up the Dusk Till Dawn poker room, he had no intention of launching an online companion. But apparently, once Yong starts something, he's got to go big.

The 46-table card room in Nottingham will be the largest in Europe once it opens. And based on the success of the online business, which opened in December because it took less time to build, it's bound to be a success. DTDpoker.com had more than 1,000 players less than a month after it opened for business.

"Everybody in Europe is talking about it," said Simon "Aces" Trumper, who will serve as the Live Poker Director when the club opens this spring. "We're going to cause a huge stir on the European poker market."

Part of the buzz around Dusk Till Dawn is that DTDpoker.com will help bring customers into the physical card room. Online players earn "DTD Points" which can be used to pay for membership fees or to buy food and drinks at the live club.

Players may also choose to channel rakeback bonuses into buy-ins for large live tournaments as part of the DTD$$$ Club. Players who use this option and finish in the money in live tournaments will earn extra bonuses from Dusk Till Dawn, with larger bonuses for players who make the final table or win a tournament.

"I'm hoping as many as 75 percent of our (live club) members will play online," said Trumper. "A lot of the players that were already playing a lot of hours (at other online sites) have decided to cross over and start playing on our site with a view to making money to play with once the club opens. I'm hoping that it will have kind of a wave effect; the players that come in will tell people that haven't started playing (online) yet."

U.S. players hoping to work towards the buy-in for an EPT tournament, however, will have to find another way. DTDpoker uses CryptoLogic software, and U.S. players are restricted from real money games on the site.

Building a Community
While the Bicycle Casino only has play money games on its Internet poker room (www.thebike.com), the site has still been an integral part of The Bike's marketing campaign. The site doesn't provide any direct revenue, but it does extend the community for the player.

"When players go home from playing in the casino, they get online and play at home together," said Kelley O'Hara, Marketing Director for The Bicycle Casino. "People know each other's screen names, and later they contact each other and meet up at the casino. It really created an interesting social advantage."

The Internet presence even gives The Bike a way to reach customers well beyond its local clientele.

"We have players that come from around the world to play in our tournaments," O'Hara said. "This is a chance for us to reach out to them and be able to have them play online with us with the feel of the Bicycle Casino and keep our name in front of them, even if they live in Australia or England."

The Bike used to offer online freerolls to help promote the brick and mortar card room, but stopped that practice after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) passed in October. While the bill doesn't outlaw such giveaways, management at The Bike decided the freerolls were no longer worth running.

O'Hara, however, seemed receptive to the idea that The Bike could run real-money games on its site should the government warm up to the idea of regulating Internet gambling.

"Right now it's just a play money site," O'Hara said. "It's a pretty quiet subject, but do I think (regulation) is a good idea? Yeah, I do."

The Future of Internet Gambling
The UIGEA did include one provision that was actually friendly to Internet gambling companies: It gives states the ability to regulate Internet gambling within its borders.

If and when states regulate Internet gambling, new Internet gamblers are most likely to trust the names they know. While several Internet gambling companies have built solid reputations with players who are already playing online, it will be tough to compete with established brands -- especially those that combine their live and online rewards programs.

 

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