Issue 155
September 1-7, 2003
Volume 3
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News
Tropicana Tops Expansion

Casinos and Football: The Power of Pigskin

The Bicycle Casino's Renowned 'Legends
of Poker' Tournament and The Frank Mariani/Jerry Buss Charity Open

Michigan Lottery Launches Promotion

Canadian Casino Adds Slots

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Kid Rock will perform at the Rain at The Palms Resort Casino on September 21, 2003

Don't Shoot Yourself in the Foot at the Blackjack Table

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Tropicana Tops Expansion

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - It may have seemed like the conclusion of jobs well done on August 28th as the final steel beam of the Tropicana Casino and Resort's new hotel was fastened into place.

But, actually, it was just the beginning as the structure that is about to become New Jersey's largest hotel assumed its rightful place as a resort powerhouse on the Atlantic City skyline.

"There's a new landmark in town, and its name is Tropicana," said Dennis Gomes, president of Resort Operations.

The topping-off ceremony for The Quarter project signaled that Tropicana's $225 million expansion on August 28th is in full swing, and right on time. The Quarter will offer an additional 40 new dining, entertainment and retail experiences, and when The Quarter is combined with the existing facility, Tropicana will offer in excess of over 60 venues - approximately three times larger than any other existing casino in Atlantic City.

Renderings offered a peek at what's to come upon completion, including a 31-story hotel tower, the 2,400-space parking garage and, most significantly, a 220,000-square-foot dining, entertainment and retail project that takes Atlantic City visitors to levels of excitement not yet experienced on the East Coast.

With a streetscape that reflects back to the height of sophistication, romance and indulgence in Old Havana, Cuba, The Quarter will include icon restaurants from New York, Philadelphia and Las Vegas, live music venues, distinctive bars and restaurants, and national and regional retailers.

"We're here today to celebrate the tremendous group effort that has safely and expertly erected The Quarter, which represents a bold new endeavor for Tropicana, and an era of renewal for Atlantic City," Gomes said.

Joining Gomes at the topping-off ceremony, were representatives from lead designers WAT&G architects and Keating Building Corp., which managed construction and design/build, as well as members of the 23 unions that have comprised the labor force on the project since the groundbreaking in April of 2002.

The Tropicana's new Havana Tower will add 502 rooms to the Tropicana's accommodations offer, bringing the total number of rooms to 2,127 to achieve the ranking of largest hotel in the state. On its top floor will be four luxuriously appointed boardrooms, equipped with state-of-the-art technological capabilities, and offering both ocean and bay views, and four convention and hospitality suites, with floor-to-ceiling windows. On its fourth floor, The Quarter will present 20,400 square feet of meeting space in

Topping-Off Ceremony for Tropicana's The Quarter Indicates Brisk Pace for $225 Million Expansion Project

21separate rooms. Seven on-site certified meeting planners will advise and see to the needs of corporate guests.

But the big picture goes beyond facts and figures: The Quarter aims to bring the East Coast its first Las Vegas-style experience - right in the heart of Atlantic City.

State Sen. Bill Gormley, Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford, Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson, and City Councilman Dennis Mason were on hand to laud the project as a harbinger of the region's future as a destination point.

The Quarter is set to open in spring
of 2004.

Tropicana Casino and Resort encompasses 14 acres and has ocean beach frontage of 220 yards along the famed Boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Tropicana is operated by Aztar Corporation , a publicly traded company that also operates Tropicana Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ramada Express Hotel and Casino in Laughlin, Nevada, Casino Aztar in Caruthersville, Missouri, and Casino Aztar in
Evansville, Indiana.

Casinos and Football: The Power of Pigskin

/Las Vegas gaming Wire/ - It's game time.

It's first and 10. Time for sports books to get busy and coffers to get full. Locals casino operators are ready for some football, and, the bosses say, so are Las Vegans.

After teasing football fanatics with preseason pro games and a few dozen college games the past two Saturdays, the National Football League kicks off its regular season
Thursday night.

Next weekend, both the college and NFL slates will be full, and executives for the biggest Las Vegas locals casino operators eagerly await the action.

Football games are vital attractions that lure Las Vegans to the dozens of casinos sprinkled around the valley, locals bosses said. It's a given that locals casino sports books make most of their revenue during football season, tapping the public's readiness to bet on games and to play ultraprofitable -- for the books -- parlay cards.

But football is much more than a sports book revenue driver; it's a key factor in getting Las Vegans back into the habit of regularly visiting locals casinos, the bosses said. "Football re-energizes the properties after the (citywide) summer lull," Station Chief Operating Officer Steve Cavallaro said. "Locals are back from vacation, and our football contests are in full swing."

Casino action heats up earlier on Saturday and Sunday mornings during football season, as East Coast games draw early crowds to sports books, locals operators agree. "Our business picks up noticeably when football season starts, in the sports book and on the casino floor," Station Casinos Chief Financial Officer Glenn Christenson said recently.

Many Station Casinos properties and Sam's Town have installed flat-panel television monitors around their table game pits, improvements operators say moves the excitement of the book to the pit. Customers can keep tabs on games they're interested in while still playing blackjack or shooting craps, execs say.

Icahn Gaming spokesman Mike Gilmartin said football is vital to the two Arizona Charlie's properties. "Football has become such a huge part of the year," Gilmartin said. "It's become part of the culture. Casinos and football just go together, especially here in Las Vegas. You can root for your team, bet on the game and watch four or five (or more) different games at the same time." Gaughan and Cavallaro said their properties add some staff to the end of their weekend graveyard shifts during football season.

All of the big locals operators offer either paid-entry or free football contests, enticing players to visit at least once per week to submit their picks in exchange for a chance at cash prizes.

With a 17-week NFL season, plus a few weeks of NFL playoffs and college bowl games, football season takes up almost 40 percent of the year's weekends. "Football is the only sport where the sports books make money," Coast Casinos Chairman Michael Gaughan. "Everybody bets football."

Gaughan said he tells his managers that a sports book is supposed to accomplish three things. "Bring in (new) people, service existing customers and make some money," Gaughan said. "The only sport that really accomplishes that is football."

Station Casinos sports book honcho Art Manteris said his company's books make money on other sports, but football's the unquestioned king. "Football is about 40 percent of our handle over the year," he estimated, noting that gridiron games provide more than 40 percent of the books' profit. "The sports book has to be an excitement center. It must offer a competitive product, clean and comfortable, and complement the casino. Bottom line, race and sports players go where they're treated best."

Gaughan said: "Football's just more exciting. It's kind of like the excitement of the start of the NCAA (men's basketball) tournament every weekend."

The state's 159 sports books reported a 33.3 percent increase in the amount won from football bettors during the fiscal year that ended June 30. Football bettors dropped $51.5 million of the total $124.4 million won on all sports. Basketball bettors lost $33.7 million, up 12.2 percent, while baseball wagerers lost $12.2 million, down 16 percent.

Casinos' most lucrative sports betting segment, parlay cards, won $23 million from gamblers, up 20.1 percent. Almost all parlay card bets are made on football games.

"Football is perfect for the masses, for a lot of reasons" Manteris said. "Baseball is complicated, with money-line betting. Football point spreads are easier for the masses to understand. Football appeals to people from all walks of life. Everybody bets the NFL," Gaughan said.

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