LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The place that made
poker famous is awash in rumors of a possible sale,
but its owners still aren't showing their hand.
in downtown Las Vegas has been the subject of sale speculation
for months and a recent remark by the chief executive
officer of the West Virginia company that owns the historic
casino added fuel to the rumors.
But so far
neither Edson Arneault nor anyone else in the Chester,
W.Va., headquarters of MTR Gaming Group is willing to
elaborate on plans for the struggling casino, the former
home of the World Series of Poker, an event that's reaped
millions of dollars and raised poker's profile worldwide.
the casino's 850 employees, investors and downtown enthusiasts
to wonder about the future of what was once among the
most successful and notorious casinos in Las Vegas.
heard rumors ever since I have been here. And companies
have expressed interest in this property," said
Bill Robinson, Binion's chief operating officer since
May 2006. "Nobody from corporate has talked to
me about this."
was responding to remarks by Arneault, president, chief
executive officer and chairman of the board for MTR
Gaming, during a conference call in May to discuss the
view it as an investment property rather than one of
our strategic properties," Arneault told investors,
which suggested MTR Gaming would like to unload Binion's,
which posted a negative cash flow of $3.3 million last
has already agreed to sell its other Las Vegas property,
Speedway Casino in North Las Vegas, for $18.2 million,
and investor conference calls focus more on its racetrack
and casino operations in West Virginia, Pennsylvania
and Ohio than problems in Nevada.
don't invest in MTR for Binion's," said Justin
Sebastiano, a senior gaming analyst for Nollenberger
Capital Partners, who follows the company.
said MTR Gaming's future is in slot machines and racetracks
in Pennsylvania and the potential approval of table
games in West Virginia.
Sebastiano said, has been a drag on MTR Gaming's stock
since the company bought it from Harrah's Entertainment
in 2004 for about $20 million.
really see it getting better for them anytime soon,"
Sebastiano said. "I'm estimating negative cash
flows over the next few years."
nor Steven Overly, MTR Gaming's vice president of business
and legal affairs, returned several calls to comment
or elaborate on the remarks.
said as far as he knows, the company plans to continue
to invest in Binion's in an attempt to right the listing
include a club that operates at night on the 24th floor
of the hotel tower in space Binion's Ranch Steakhouse
uses earlier in the evening.
include new carpeting and decor and 200 new slot machines.
And there are plans to upgrade at least one floor of
hotel rooms in an attempt "to see what the price
resistance is" and attract higher-spending customers,
isn't the only casino in downtown Las Vegas operating
in an air of uncertainty.
Group recently listed the Gold Spike for sale at a price
of $15 million. The smoky, down-market property has
reportedly piqued the interest of a number of potential
buyers, including operators of the Sapphire gentleman's
club near the Strip.
recently parted ways with the Navegante Group, the company
that had been managing the Gold Spike, Plaza, Las Vegas
Club and Western Hotel. Company officials, through representatives,
have hinted they intend to make changes but so far have
declined requests to elaborate on their plans.
the Golden Nugget and El Cortez are investing about
$100 million and $20 million, respectively, in their
continues to decline at downtown casinos. Gaming win
in March was $55.3 million, a 7 percent decrease compared
with $59.5 million a year ago. It was the 10th consecutive
month of decline for the market.
is not the Vegas Strip," said Sebastiano of Binion's
and its downtown location. "I just don't think
it is that great of an asset."
Group shares fell 8 cents, or 0.51 percent, Thursday
to close at $15.76 on the Nasdaq National Market.