Issue 337
February 26 - March 4, 2007
Volume 7
page 2
 


Gambling industry: Three-ring circus of a weekend

by Howard Stutz, Las Vegas Gaming Wire

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Last weekend's triple whammy on the Strip -- the National Basketball Association's All-Star Game, Chinese New Year and Presidents Day Weekend -- brought large crowds but may not have translated into the overflowing casino cash boxes that operators had expected.

Several gaming analysts, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the audience associated with the NBA All-Star Game overwhelmed some of the Strip's largest casinos, displacing the deep-pocketed gamblers associated with Chinese New Year.

The overlap of the three events, along with a layover by attendees from the Men's Apparel Guild in California show that brought more than 100,000 delegates to town last week, may have been a little much for the casinos to handle.

Wall Street research analysts said that spending for hotel rooms and nightclubs, restaurants and other amenities run by the casinos could calculate into a banner weekend. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said late Tuesday that nongaming spending was an estimated $90.6 million.

The casinos themselves were also crowded, but with nongamblers, analysts said.

"Apparently, a lot of the high-end folks came in and left quickly," said one analyst. "The atmosphere wasn't to their liking. We may see some disappointing numbers."

Publicly traded casino companies will report results from last weekend as part of their first-quarter earnings during April and May. Nevada gaming regulators won't release February's official statewide and Las Vegas casino revenue results until April.

Last February, Strip casinos reported $551.1 million in gaming revenues. The biggest month ever on the Strip for gaming revenues was $642.4 million in November. Gaming Control Board senior research analyst Frank Streshley said resort operators were optimistic before last weekend that the Strip results in February could shatter all records.

"We know the hold percentage (what casinos keep vs. the amount gambled) will play a big part in the overall numbers," Streshley said. "Last year, Chinese New Year fell into both January and February, but this year, it's all in February."

Until the results become public, the question for some is whether it was good to have the NBA All-Star Game at the same time as the start of Chinese New Year.

"In a perfect world, we would have preferred two of the events to happen on another weekend," MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said. "I think the availability of rooms was much harder to come by coupled with the three-day weekend."

Harrah's Entertainment spokeswoman Debbie Munch said Caesars Palace had a busy weekend because of the casino's long-standing tie-in with Chinese New Year. But the resort also hosted several All-Star-related activities. TNT's "Inside the NBA" broadcast for three straight evenings on a stage above the hotel's famous fountains, attracting large crowds of NBA fans.

"We had a huge mix of visitors at the property," Munch said.

At the off-Strip Palms, which is known for its trendy nightclubs and customers that are gossip columnists' fodder, the expected large crowds arrived because of the All-Star Game. Palms President George Maloof said in an interview last week that Chinese New Year historically had never been a large driver of business at the casino.

As the host hotel for the NBA, however, the Palms housed the 24 All-Star Game participants and league personnel in 600 of the hotel's 707 rooms.

The Palms' nightclubs and themed luxury suites hosted over-size special events and parties throughout the weekend while nongambling fans lined the casino hoping to catch a glimpse of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and their All-Star teammates.

"It was exactly what we expected," Palms spokesman Larry Fink said. "Our restaurants were busy, the clubs were extremely busy and from what I saw, the casino was very busy. Everything seemed to play out exactly how we thought it would. We had people looking to take pictures and get autographs."

Feldman said 75,000 extra visitors jammed Mandalay Bay over five days to attend the NBA All-Star Jam Session in the casino event's center. Feldman said many of those crowds flocked to the casino's restaurants and retail areas.

It's unclear, however, if there was a payoff at the tables or slot machines.

"There wasn't a huge noticeable increase in casino activity because this was a huge social function," Feldman said of NBA All-Star fans. "They wanted to be out and about."

Feldman said the pure Chinese New Year customer that has been flocking to Las Vegas since the casinos started promoting the event, was able to find available hotel rooms. The ancillary business associated with the Chinese New Year crowd may have been chased away because of a lack of rooms.

Review-Journal writer Arnold M. Knightly contributed to this report.

 

 

 

 

 



New York tribal casino deal reached
As reported by The Albany Times Herald-Record

ALBANY, N.Y. – "Gov. Eliot Spitzer and the St. Regis Mohawks have reached a deal to bring a $600 million Indian casino to Monticello Gaming and Raceway.

"The deal, which Spitzer announced in an interview this afternoon with the Times Herald-Record, marks a historic high water mark in Sullivan County's decades-long pursuit of casino gambling.

"…Under the compact, the state would receive 20 percent of slot-machine revenues for the first two years after it opens, 23 percent for the next two years and 25 percent thereafter.

"The tribe has also agreed to comply with health and labor laws and charge state taxes on alcohol and cigarettes.

"…The casino will also likely face a number of court challenges.

"…But Spitzer's quick pact with the Mohawks just six weeks after taking office sends a sign to both the federal government and opponents that the state is fully behind the casino plan…"

MGM Mirage serious about AC casino
As reported by The Press of Atlantic City

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – As reported by the Press of Atlantic City: "One rival gaming executive thinks the odds are no better than 50-50 that MGM Mirage will build a new casino in Atlantic City.

"Analysts say the Las Vegas-based gaming giant could be discouraged by rising construction costs, extra competition from surrounding states and the effects of Atlantic City's new casino smoking restrictions.

"…MGM, however, says that the critics should quiet down. It wants everyone to know that it is serious about developing a new megaresort on a 70-acre site next to Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.

"…MGM's announcement Wednesday that it has begun the planning for a new Marina District casino is stirring excitement in town but has also been greeted by a 'we'll believe it when we see it' attitude stemming from the company's false starts in the past.

"…MGM has not estimated the cost of its project. In a preliminary step, the company has set aside $20 million to begin the planning and comply with regulatory requirements needed to build the casino. The company said construction probably would begin in 2009 if it goes ahead with development…"


George Strait
with Ronnie Milsap
and Taylor Swift

Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, Conn.: With an unprecedented fifty-two #1 songs, George Strait is a bona-fide music legend. The release of his latest album, It Just Comes Natural, marks his 34th album and it is well on it’s way to becoming another platinum seller. The albums first release “Give It Away” is one of Strait’s fastest moving singles in more than five years. He is most loved by fans for his traditional sounding country music that appeals equally to the cowboy and the country lover. Some of his other hit songs include, “If I Know Me,” “I Cross My Heart,” “Check Yes Or No,” and “One Night at a Time.”

As another hit-maker, Ronnie Milsap also has several #1 songs to his credit. He began his music career in the late 60’s and had his first hit in 1970 with “Loving You Is a Natural Thing.” He followed this hit up with a string of others including, “Pure Love,” “Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends,” and “(There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me.”

Inspired by her grandmother, a professional opera singer, 16-year old Taylor Swift began singing at a very young age. She first started performing at the tender age of ten, and was writing her own songs by the age of twelve. She recently released her self-titled, debut album, which includes her breakout hit “Tim McGraw.”

Dates: March 9-10, 2007
Time: 8 p.m.
Ticket Prices: $70 & $100
Phone:
1-860-886-0070

For more information: Official Web site

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