Issue 281
January 30, 2006 - February 1, 2006
Volume 6
page 2

Atlantic City's youth movement
As Reported by The Globe and Mail

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey - Once a seniors-only haven, the New Jersey resort town is drawing younger crowds with a new casino, trendy clubs and beach bars. LL Cool J was playing the House of Blues. A few blocks away, rapper Jay-Z's new nightclub was rocking. Fredericka Jones, 42, out on the town for a Friday night with her girlfriends, was determined to hit both, then try her luck at a casino.

She used to make the one-hour trip from her Philadelphia home once every couple of years. Now, she goes several times a year. And she has noticed some changes.

"The crowd is getting younger," she said. "You don't see the older crowd as much, the grandparents. Now, you see the younger people."

Rejuvenated by a saucy new casino, trendy clubs and beach bars and a vibrant music scene, Atlantic City is evolving into a nightlife hot spot for people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who once saw it as one big neon-lit retirement home for senior citizens who arrive by the busload to play the slot machines.

Atlantic City began making the shift with the opening of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in mid-2003. It stressed sexy fun more than gambling in its advertising, it showcased its racy "Borgata Babes" cocktail waitresses, it offered high-end restaurants, and it booked contemporary stars into its showrooms, instead of the aging crooners and nostalgia acts for which Atlantic City was known.

The moves paid off, turning the Borgata into Atlantic City's most profitable casino.

The Borgata also bet that blackjack, roulette and craps -- which many Atlantic City casinos were ditching in favour of more profitable slot machines -- could bring in more business.

Its rivals in Atlantic City's $5.5-billion-a-year casino business have followed suit, replacing slots with table games aimed at cashing in on both a poker boom and on younger gamblers' tendencies to favour games with human interaction.

"Tables are hot, there's no doubt about it," said casino industry consultant Joe Weinert. "A lot of that is fuelled by poker's popularity and its popularity on TV, which is showing Americans that table games in general are fun.

"Increasingly, we're becoming a society that has grown up with solitary gaming experiences on their computers, TV sets or personal game consoles. And I think people are going to casinos and discovering the community atmosphere on the gaming tables. They're finding out that, hey, it's fun to be around real people."

In the 2½ years since Borgata's opening, the Tropicana Casino and Resort has seen a 20-per-cent increase in table game play among under-50 gamblers.

Resorts Atlantic City -- which in the past year has booked rapper Snoop Dogg, opened a trendy Nikki Beach bar and switched its piped-in house music from Motown to contemporary -- has experienced a similar shift. Now, 60 per cent of the gamblers in the casino's player database are under 50, compared with 39 per cent 18 months ago.

Showboat Casino-Hotel, meanwhile, brought in the House of Blues, a chain of restaurant-nightclubs that built a $75-million addition consisting of a 2,200-seat theatre, a restaurant, 50 hotel suites and its own mini-casino. Among the acts booked to appear at House of Blues last month: mewithoutyou, Puny Human and Avenged Sevenfold.

"I look at the list of headliners and I don't even recognize most of these names," said Jeffrey Vasser, the 45-year-old executive director of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority.

But he isn't complaining. Nor are the entrepreneurs opening nightclubs, name-brand restaurants and sexually oriented clubs aimed at the under-50 crowd.

The influx of younger gamblers has driven down the median age of the Atlantic City visitor from 55 in 1998 to 52 last year, according to a visitor profile commissioned by the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority.

"There's more to do now," said Frank Whoy, 23, of Egg Harbor Township, who took in the LL Cool J show at the House of Blues. "More nightlife, more shows."

But the mix of old and young has also challenged casinos.

"It truly is a delicate balance," said Audrey Oswell, president of Resorts Atlantic City casino. "You don't want to do anything that's going to offend the older customer, which has been so loyal for so long. We've found that the young people and the old people can exist side by side, although we did have some people ask us who Snoop Dogg was."

Playing a slot machine at the Tropicana, Alexander Ott, 73, of Smithtown, N.Y., said Atlantic City is still "the AARP's playground."

"We've got the time. We're retired," he said. "These other people, they're only the Friday- and Saturday-night crowd. They're living paycheque to paycheque. We're living Social Security cheque to Social Security cheque."




Better Hide the One-Armed Bandit
As reported by Kommersant

MOSCOW, Russia - Deputy Mayor of Moscow, Iosif Ordzhonikidze, had made public a plan to “bring order” to the gaming business in Moscow, which he characterized as “chaotic.” There are 56 casinos, 5000 gaming halls containing 56,000 gaming machines, and 9000 gaming machines in other locations in Moscow. Their annual turnover is over $1 billion, on which $100 million is paid in taxes. The city plans to take inventory of all gambling machines in the city by the end of the month and remove them from streets, train stations and airports. The deputy mayor said that agreement has already been reached with Russian Railways and the airports on the matter. In addition, gaming halls will be prohibited in “pavilions,” the light, freestanding structures on streets, where more than half of them are located. Irregularities in licensing will be identified and harshly dealt with.

Gaming business representatives say that the mayor's measures are a violation of freedom of enterprise. “The gaming business does not need special permission to rent real estate,” objected Stanislav Bartnikas, marketing director for Ritzio Entertainment Group, which manages the Vulkan chain of gaming halls. “Such limitations can only be introduced on the federal level.”

The measures are aimed at small chains of gaming halls and at illegal gaming halls. Large-scale operators will benefit from the move. They face the prospect of a doubling of taxes on gaming machines (to 15,000 rubles per month) and a hike in the licensing fee from 3000 rubles to 30,000. Some Duma members and United Russia officials are talking about banning gambling in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sochi next year as well. The administration of Moscow had not expressed a position on those initiatives previously, but Ordzhonikidze said that the city would oppose Duma plans to prohibit gambling in Moscow and other cities, but would support the tax increase. “It's a law that's unrealizable,” he said of the proposal to ban gambling in its major centers in Russia. “Gaming centers cost $50-60 million. Who is going to compensate the owners for the lost investment? Moscow won't.”

Mobile gaming studied
As Reported by Las Vegas Review-Journal

LAS VEGAS, Nevada - Nevada gambling regulators on Thursday reviewed proposed rules for hand-held, wireless gambling devices that would let gamblers roam the casino while placing their bets.

The Nevada Gaming Commission is writing the regulations after the Legislature enacted a law permitting the devices last spring.

Under the new law, the games can be used only in public areas of casinos that have 100 or more slot machines and offer at least one other game. The law bars the devices from hotel rooms, parking lots and garages, and other private areas.

Commission Chairman Peter Bernhard said the regulations being considered would allow gamblers to play the portable games everywhere gambling is already permitted. Casinos wanting to allow the devices off the casino floor -- in convention space, for example -- would need special permission.

"Mobile gaming devices are seen to be fairly well-defined, and we've established that the system can meet the requirements that they be made safe and secure, kept out of the hands of minors and used in designated areas," he said.

The wireless devices would be linked to a main casino server that verifies the gambler is the person who checked out one of the devices at a casino. Proponents say the devices can be set to stop working in nonauthorized areas, and players can establish limits in advance by depositing money on account.

Proponents say the remote gambling devices will help Nevada casinos compete with Indian casinos, Internet betting and resorts elsewhere in the country and around the world.

Under the regulations under review, casinos would pay taxes based on the numbers of devices they offer, not on how often they're used.

The regulations will be discussed Feb. 23 at the commission's meeting in Carson City and could be approved at the March 23 meeting in Las Vegas, Bernhard said.

Once the rules are in place, regulators can start reviewing applications. Companies expressing interest have included Cantor G&W (Nevada) LP, an affiliate of Cantor Fitzgerald LP, the New York-based financial services company that pressed for the new law. The company says an adaptation of its interactive bond-trading technology will work for casino gambling.

Others interested include Louisiana-based Diamond I, which has developed its own device; Reno-based International Game Technology; and FortuNet, a Las Vegas-based gambling device manufacturer.

Joe Asher, managing director of Cantor G&W, told the commission his company supports the rules under review.

The commission also debated proposed regulations based on a new law that allows casino nightclubs that charge an entrance fee to have slot machines. The commission will take up the issue again in February.


Stardust Theater: In 1988, Roseanne became a household name with her hit network sitcom, "Roseanne." The show dealt with real-life issues in a lower-middle-class working family and within a year overtook "The Cosby Show" as the No. 1 program on television. Since then, Roseanne has been busy on Broadway, writing books, producing shows, and making TV and movie appearances, as well as performing in the medium which catapulted her to stardom. Roseanne will be at Stardust Resort and Casino's Stardust Theater on February 21st through the 26th.

Dates: February 21-26, 2006

Time: 10:00 p.m.

Ticket Price: $43.95

For more information: (866) 80-SHOWS

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