Issue 198
June 28 - July 4, 2004
Volume 4
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News

Monticello makeover: Video gaming comes to harness track

Borgata Looks To Expand

Mexico looks at legalizing gambling

Lawrenceburg City Council Approves Tax Credit Plan for Argosy Casino

One-Millionth Fan to Meet Celine and Receive Luxury Package at Caesars Palace


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Monticello makeover: Video gaming
comes to harness track
As reported by the Daily Freeman

Monticello, NY - Monticello Raceway, which opened 46 years ago today, will become home on June 30 to Mighty M Gaming, a casino-like facility with row after row of video gaming machines, 1,743 in all.

There are machines you can play for as little a nickel, or as much as $10 - and more than $10 if playing multiple lines on a single spin.

Gamblers can win up to $50,000, but payouts at machines will not exceed $600. Those hitting higher jackpots will be escorted to the "cage," where a cashier will issue a check.

A stage in the Lava Lounge will host live performances by local and nationally known performers. The Mighty Mmmm Food Court, Player's Club booths, a gift shop and a 350-seat eatery dubbed the Winner's Circle Buffet will round out the gaming facility.

BILLBOARDS line the shoulders of roads heading toward the raceway, and a media blitz is in full swing to build anticipation.

The hype is similar to what preceded the opening of the harness track at Monticello in 1958, and while attendance for the horse races has fallen off from nearly 20,000 on a good day to just a few hundred, there still are those who remember the glory days.

"There was a lot of anticipation. Sports writers wrote about it," John Manzi, publicity manager for Mighty M Gaming, said of Monticello Raceway's early days. "Horses were king. It was probably as anticipated then as ... casinos are today. It was the only place you could make a legal bet."

"WHEN THIS track was built, most of our business was people coming in," said Cliff Ehrlich, senior vice president of Mighty M Gaming at Monticello Raceway.

"People show us pictures, women wore mink coats," said Charles Degliomini, vice president for corporate communications at Empire Resorts. "It was quite the social occasion."

"At one time, this was the only place you could make a legal bet in New York state," Degliomini said. "There was no (Off-Track Betting), there were no casinos, no lottery."

AS VIDEO gaming prepares to make its debut at Monticello, an additional 400 people have been hired, including roving floor ambassadors will strive to ensure everyone all visitors enjoy their experience.

THE VIDEO gaming machines that will be used in Monticello were built by three vendors: IGT and Bally's, which manufacture their machines in Nevada; and Spielo, which is based in Rhode Island but manufactures equipment in Canada.

Ehrlich said that to the players, the machines will be indistinguishable from those found in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Indian-run casinos.

Borgata Looks To Expand
As reported by The Associated Press

ATLANTIC CITY -- The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, which has hit the jackpot with gamblers since its opening nearly a year ago, had its license renewed on June 23.

The casino hotel, which began taking bets July 2, was granted a one-year license renewal by the state Casino Control Commission. As is customary with Atlantic City casinos, one-year licenses are issued for the first three years.

After that, regulators issue licenses with four-year terms.

The $1 billion casino, a joint venture of Boyd Gaming Corp. and MGM Mirage, has done a booming business since its opening, with gamblers and curiosity-seekers eager to check out its coinless slot machines, upscale restaurants and scantily clad "Borgata Babes" cocktail servers.

In its first quarter, Borgata produced $31 million in earnings before taxes, interest, depreciation and amortization. Earnings have climbed ever since, Boyd Gaming chief financial officer Ellis Landau told commission members.

"Every quarter's been better than the quarter before," he said.

The Borgata, which has 2,010 rooms, has posted below-average occupancy rates, however. The casino's daily average is 85 percent, compared with 92 percent among the 12 casinos as a whole. Borgata officials attribute that to the price of their rooms, which average $125, higher than other casinos.

"We've developed a great, loyal customer base that we're very, very pleased with. All in all, we feel it's been a great first year for Borgata," said William S. Boyd, chairman and CEO of Boyd Gaming.

According to Boyd, Atlantic City could support two or three more mega-resorts like it.

So far, Borgata's biggest problem has been success.

Reaching the casino on the telephone can be difficult, and getting a room or a restaurant reservation can be even tougher. For those reasons, Borgata officials are already drawing up plans to expand the marina district casino.

CEO Robert Boughner told regulators that he and Boyd executives are conducting market research to determine what kind of expansion is most feasible, but he said the most pressing issue was making room in public areas.

"Our principal goal, at this point in time, is to take care of the excess demand that we have from a food-and-beverage standpoint," Boughner said.

The addition of 600 to 1,000 rooms is a possibility, but no decisions have been made, he said.

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