@HowardStutz's Inside Gaming
Let’s halt one rumor before it gains traction.
Scientific Games Corp.’s $1.5 billion acquisition of slot machine manufacturer WMS Industries doesn’t mean a statewide lottery is headed to Nevada.
New York-based Scientific Games provides lottery systems and equipment to U.S. states, Canadian provinces and foreign governments. The company was actively seeking to acquire a traditional slot machine vendor when the buyout was announced in February.
It wasn’t about bringing a lottery to Nevada.
That said, Wall Street, which was skeptical about the deal, is starting to find some comfort with the transaction.
Scientific Games is paying $26 per share for WMS, roughly 59 percent above the slot maker’s closing stock price on Jan. 31.
When the buyout was announced, both WMS and Scientific Games officials said the transaction would provide $100 million of synergistic cost-savings between the merged companies.
But vision begins to emerge in fight for big state's gaming dollars
A new push for gaming expansion in Texas drew muted commentary from analysts Tuesday.
They have been down that road before.
A Texas state senator said this week that he has support for legislation to bring 21 large and small casinos to Texas and create a state gaming commission.
Casino expansion bills surface routinely in the state’s biannual legislative sessions, but the measures have universally failed.
Union Gaming Group Managing Director Bill Lerner doesn’t see much difference with the latest proposal, which calls for a state constitutional amendment to expand gaming.
“The issue of bringing casinos to Texas has been around for quite some time, but we haven’t heard much optimism around potential passage,” Lerner told investors. “There are notable detractors against gaming expansion.”
Company cites positive expansion plans, not regional casino saturation, as cause
Several one-time charges and costs associated with the opening of a hotel-casino in Baton Rouge, La., caused regional gaming operator Pinnacle Entertainment to suffer a net loss in the fourth quarter.
The Las Vegas-based company said Wednesday its net loss in the quarter that ended Dec. 31 was $42.4 million, or 72 cents per share, compared with a profit of $25 million, or 40 cents per share, a year earlier.
The largest charge Pinnacle took in the quarter was a noncash write-down of approximately $25 million related to the company’s investment in a casino project in Vietnam. Pinnacle also reported one-time charges surrounding casino expansion projects in St. Louis and the opening of the L’Auberge Baton Rouge in September.
Pinnacle Entertainment board member John Giovenco, who served as the regional casino companys interim chief executive officer for five months, retired from his position last week.
The Las Vegas-based company made the announcement Friday.
Giovenco joined the Pinnacle board in 2003 and took part in many aspects concerning the companys growth.
After CEO Dan Lee resigned in November 2009, Giovenco stepped in and directed the company until the hiring of current CEO Anthony Sanfilippo in March 2010.
John has made significant contributions to the board’s decisions during his tenure, Pinnacle Chairman Richard Goeglein said in a statement.
Inside Gaming: Pinnacle most interested in Lone Star State
Texas lawmakers will again take up the issue of gaming expansion during the state’s biannual legislative session that begins next week.
And, as in previous years, a gaming bill has as much chance of passing through both Lone Star State legislative houses as the Dallas Cowboys have of winning the Super Bowl with Tony Romo at quarterback.
Slim and none.
“There are a host of detractors and hurdles standing in the way of Texas passing gaming expansion anytime soon, from religious groups, out-of-state gaming interests, a conservative Legislature, and animal rights groups,” Union Gaming Group managing director Bill Lerner told investors.
National gaming expansion talks always focus on Texas when that state’s Legislature convenes for roughly five months in odd-numbered years.
Gaming stocks end 2012 on high note
What fiscal cliff?
Gaming stocks were oblivious to investor worries that the lack of a year-end agreement in Congress to avoid wide-ranging tax increases and spending cuts would push the economy over the edge.
The sector closed out 2012 on a positive note in December.
Of the 12 gaming companies followed by Las Vegas financial adviser Applied Analysis, 11 showed marked increases in their average daily stock prices during the month.
Eight of the companies finished 2012 with a higher average daily stock price than in 2011.
Applied Analysis principal Brian Gordon told the firm’s clients Monday in a research report that investors believed a compromise would likely take place in Congress concerning federal revenue enhancements and other measures.
INSIDE GAMING: How a Texas company competes in a Vegas casino world
The slot machine industry’s largest manufacturers in the past year have invested billions of research and development dollars in interactive gaming prototypes, social media casino efforts and systems, hoping to capitalize on the potential for legalized Internet gambling in the United States.
Multimedia Games, meanwhile, is growing the company the old fashioned way: It’s building actual slot machines.
The manufacturer could give rivals International Game Technology, Bally Technologies and WMS Industries competition for the casino floor by next year.
One analyst recently came away from meetings with company executives convinced the manufacturer is poised for years of increased game sales as it moves into major markets, including Nevada.
What has held Multimedia Games back is that it can sell slot machines only in roughly 40 percent of U.S. casino markets, primarily those run by Indian tribes.
Not that Indian gaming is a bad base.
There’s a corporate rush like something that hasn’t been seen for a while in the casino industry — to secure and develop poker-related assets. After the Department of Justice’s quiet reinterpretation of the 1961 Wire Act, and subsequent political buzz it created , corporate gaming partners jumped into bed together faster than you can change a relationship status on Facebook.
• Kentucky-based horse racing and casino company Churchill Downs acquires the assets of Bluff Media.
• Caesars Entertainment extends its partnership with 888 Holdings.
• MGM, Boyd Gaming, and BwinParty looking for a wild poker three-way.
• Vegas-based ShuffleMaster dangling diamonds in front of OnGame Network.
• Pinnacle Entertainment in acquisition talks with newly formed Epic Poker League.
• Golden Nugget partners up with ChiliGaming for online poker.
What’s next? Will Pokerati be getting a bid from Palms Casino Resort?