Issue 284
February 20 - February 26, 2006
Volume 6
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News

Tropicana plans $25M Makeover for 2006

Trump Entertainment Resort plans to open a casino in Las Vegas

Job Jackpot at new 'Gamblers Paradise'

Rules eased for casinos

S. Africa's Gold Reef says buys casino stakes

Show Time The Village People take the Stage at the Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun.

Column A Final Word on Blackjack from "Mr. Aces" by John G. Brokopp.

Check out our entertainment highlights & upcoming tournaments

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Tropicana plans $25M. makeover for 2006

As reported by Press of Atlantic City

LAS VEGAS, Nevada - Tropicana Casino and Resort will complete a $25 million facelift this year and spruce up the property again in 2007 to complement its cash cow, The Quarter.

Improvements this year will include refurbished hotel rooms in the North Tower, 800 new slot machines and new decor on the South casino floor to match the Cuban-themed retail and entertainment attractions in the mall-like Quarter.

For 2007, Tropicana will give the hotel rooms in the South Tower a makeover and refurbish the North casino floor, including the main table-games area, parent company Aztar Corp. announced Wednesday.

The improvements will help continue the momentum generated by The Quarter, a $280 million hotel, retail and dining complex that has boosted Tropicana's casino operations since its November 2004 grand opening, company officials said.

The Quarter's spinoff effect helped drive up Tropicana's casino revenue by 24 percent overall in the fourth quarter, including a 31 percent increase in slot winnings.

Gross operating revenue, also known as cash flow, tripled in the quarter to $25.4 million, Aztar reported during a conference call.

Aztar's combined revenue rose 19 percent to $222.8 million for its casinos in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Laughlin, Nev., Caruthersville, Mo., and Evansville, Ind. Net income for the quarter climbed to $11.2 million, or 29 cents a share, from $2.3 million, or 5 cents a share, a year earlier.

“All of our properties posted solid results during the fourth quarter, but we are particularly pleased by the performance of Tropicana Atlantic City,” said Robert M. Haddock, Aztar's chairman and chief executive officer.

Haddock noted that Tropicana is off to a strong start in 2006, raking in a 21 percent increase in slot revenue for January. However, Tropicana's table-games win was up a modest 4 percent for the month.

Reflecting The Quarter's drawing power, the number of visitors to Tropicana jumped more than 50 percent in 2005. Revenue increased by $100 million for the year, up 27 percent, said Gary Simpson, Aztar's senior vice president of finance and development.

Simpson, though, added that The Quarter has not yet lived up to the overall financial goals set by Aztar and is expected to take three years before it is running on all cylinders.

“śWe have consistently discussed a three-year ramp up period to reap the full benefits of the expansion project,” he said. “At this point, we are still in the process of developing a relationship with our new customers, who are critical to our long-term success. We are taking nothing for granted.”

Trump Entertainment Resort plans to open a casino in Las Vegas

As reported by

United States - Casino operator Trump Entertainment Resorts sees profitability improving in the third quarter of 2006 as the formerly bankrupt company attracts more upscale clients, its new chief executive, James Perry, said on Monday.

Perry, who was hired to turn around the company after it emerged from bankruptcy last May, also said the company begun by Donald Trump wants to have a Las Vegas casino by 2010 and would consider expanding abroad.

But first the company must bounce back from a long period of neglect in which maintenance of the three Atlantic City properties was delayed and management focused on increasing the quantity of guests rather than luring big spenders. "We’ll start to see improved margins and some very nice flow-through in the third quarter," Perry said at the Reuters Hotels and Casinos Summit in Los Angeles.

He said the company aims to reach an industry-average profit margin, in terms of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, of about 26 percent by the second half of 2007, up from about 20 percent in the third quarter. He said the key to success is bringing customers to the city for attractions other than gambling, improving services and attracting higher-end customers.

He assured that the company traditionally has been driven by a business model that focused more on volume than quality, which drew low-end customers and left customer service wanting.
Trump Entertainment aims to change that through changing pay structures to reward employees for focusing on cleanliness, for instance, as well as capital improvements.

The company has said it plans to spend us$ 110 million on renovating its Atlantic City properties -- Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Marina and Trump Plaza -- over the next two years, besides a planned hotel tower at the Trump Taj Mahal. Perry said the company would also look for opportunities to leverage the Trump brand internationally, including in Macau, but said he would target 2008 or 2010 for a presence there.

Perry, who has suggested in the past that reorganization efforts could adversely impact revenues in the short term, said revenue growth should start exceeding the rate at which the market was growing in the second quarter of this year.

He said Trump had one of the industry’s highest gaming cost of sales, which includes giveaways and promotional expenses to lure customers, and added that bringing those costs down could substantially improve margins. Still, the going remains tough for Trump Entertainment, as it faces rivals with much deeper pockets in several markets, such as Harrah’s Entertainment.

Perry said the company should start to enjoy stronger revenues in March and April, resulting in improved profits later. Presidents Day weekend is traditionally a big revenue-generating weekend for Atlantic City. Competition for Atlantic City is also looming in Pennsylvania, where five slot parlors are scheduled to open.

Although Trump Entertainment has applied for a license to develop a us$ 350 million casino in Philadelphia, it is only one of several bidders. Perry also said the company would like a presence in Las Vegas around 2010, which would be the earliest it could open a newly constructed full-service casino resort there. A joint venture project could come to fruition earlier than that.

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