Posts Tagged ‘casino business’

New New Jersey Poker

by , Mar 25, 2012 | 11:23 pm

Every once in a while we remember there are poker room developments of note in places other than Vegas and that New Jersey still has poker. The Golden Nugget opened their AC joint last month to Jersey-ish fanfare … but the room that really has people buzzing is at the new Revel Casino, which best I can tell is a $2.4 billion knockoff of Aria (and maybe all of City Center) — and the new hope for Atlantic City casino industry recovery.

They’re having a soft opening April 2. Special thanks to Pokeratizen Darren in Millville for pics the entire Eastern time zone has apparently been clamoring to see:

Revel Poker Atlantic City Poker Atlantic City Revel

click to enlarge


Vegas is Changing…Again

by , Mar 22, 2012 | 3:49 pm

There are times when a gambler yearns for a fresh start, when past losses magically disappear. You could also say that the gambling city of Las Vegas is built — and rebuilt — on the idea of fresh starts. Rooms are gutted and names are changed at a frenetic pace, all with a goal to wipe the slate clean.

If you haven’t been to Vegas lately, these are some of its latest reincarnations:

On May 15, 2011, the Sahara closed its doors. At the time, there were no plans for the Rat Pack’s former home. But in November, the Clark County Commissions approved plans to renovate the property. Alas, the roller coaster will not live to see another day.

The Las Vegas Hilton is now LVH- Las Vegas Hotel and Casino: The hotel, located near the convention center, lost its Hilton franchise in January. The LVH is currently being run by a court approved receiver while Goldman Sachs proceeds with its foreclosure of the property.

Fitzgeralds Casino & Hotel changed its name the D Las Vegas. The “D” apparently stands for “Downtown,” “Detroit” (hometown of the Stevens brothers who now own the property) and/or CEO Derrick Stevens’ nickname “D.” The new owners are also kicking in $15 million to renovate the old Fitz.

O’Shea’s celebrated one last Saint Patrick’s Day before it closes its doors on April 30, 2012. But this Strip casino owned by Caesars Entertainment will rise again. The new O’Shea’s will open as part of the Linq project, due for completion sometime in mid-2013.

Wynn Resorts has a restaurant named Okada, named after a one-time (?)  partner in the casino. But Steve Wynn and Kazou Okada have been embroiled in an epic feud. As a result, the restaurant will be renamed Ohtaki and will include some changes to the menu.

Steve Wynn also cut ties with chef extraordinaire Alex Stratta. Needless to say the Wynn’s restaurant Alex has disappeared and will be replaced with a new nightclub named Climaxx.

The Lady Luck closed in 2006 for renovations. But financing collapsed and the lay dormant for years. But the downtown casino and hotel is now scheduled for a rebirth as the Downtown Grand in April 2013.

The Playboy Club at the Palms is closing in June 2012. Will the rabbit warren be reincarnated?  The Vegas odds are in its favor.


Is the Price of Poker Going Up?

by , Mar 13, 2012 | 12:36 pm

Vegas was hit hard by the bursting housing bubble and recession. As a result, WSOP-bound poker players found travel and lodging bargains over the past few summers. But with these and other ancillary economic factors in flux, 2012 could prove to be more challenging for frugal gamblers … unless you are an alcoholic vegan who flies no frills with no checked bags, rents a condo instead of getting a hotel room on (or near) the Strip, and opts out of any $1 million buy-in events. Then you should be OK.

Gas prices: If you’ve filled your gas tank lately, you know you’re paying more for a gallon of gas. On average, gasoline prices are running 7.8 percent higher than they were this time last year. If you’re planning a cross-country drive, you can anticipate some additional expense. Check out the gas prices by region here.

Airfares: Airlines are fairly efficient at passing on higher jet fuel costs to their passengers. Surprisingly, airfares to Vegas are substantially lower this year. Use Expedia’s “Trend Tracker” to see how much lower your route is this year over last. Low cost carriers have added flights to Vegas in the past year, keeping a lid on airfares. Spirit Airlines has added 119 weekly flights into Vegas since last year and Allegiant enjoy Air has added 32 flights per week — while higher cost carriers have cut back. Airport statistic geeks will McCarran’s monthly flight activity reports.

Hotel Rates: When MGM’s City Center opened in December 2009, it dumped more than 4,000 hotel rooms into an already saturated market. But the slow and steady economic recovery has been taking up some of the slack. As a result, the average daily rate (ADR) for hotels is higher this year. According to their latest financial statements, the ADR for MGM Strip properties is $127, up 10.4% from last year. The ADR for Caesars Entertainment’s Las Vegas properties is up 8.3 percent to $9.  The Wynn’s ADR is up 15.2 percent over last year, coming in at $242.

Condo/House Rentals: House and condo rental prices are marginally lower this year, according to the latest from HUD’s Fair Market Rents Data Set. If you and your friends are heading out for a prolonged WSOP stay, you might consider a short-term house rental. But be careful. Rental scams in Las Vegas involving foreclosed properties are not uncommon. Read this article to learn more about these scams.

Food and Beverage Prices: Overal, food and beverage prices are up 4.2% since last year. It’s especailly bad if you lived off hamburgers (up 10.6%) and coffee (up 15.4%). Vegans, however, will save this year (fresh fruits and vegatables are down 0.1%). And its not too bad for alcoholics. Stocking the bar at your condo will only be 2.1% more expensive this year. You can check out the BLS CPI report for more details.

WSOP Buy-Ins: If your goal is to play the most expensive event at the WSOP, you are going to have to fork over much more than last year. Last year’s $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship looks like a bargain compared with this year’s $1 million “Big One for One Drop” event. If $1,000 and $1,500 buy-in events are more your speed, however, you are in luck. The 2012 WSOP schedule includes two additional events in the weekend-warrior price range. Less good news for the frugal: juice is still 10 percent for these events (7 percent for entry fees and 3 percent for tournament staff).


Paperwork Mishaps at MGM and Wynn

by , Mar 4, 2012 | 10:49 am

Investors received the latest financial news from the world’s largest casino companies last week. And while Dan was thinking standard SEC filings from Caesars were signs of impending online poker happiness, it was the unexpected word from MGM and Wynn that really had tongues wagging.

MGM: Documents Shredded and Shares Dumped

Back in the day, gambling establishments made their problems disappear somewhere out in the Nevada desert. Perhaps that’s where we’ll find MGM’s legal documents?

MGM has been embroiled in a years-long legal battle with City Center’s general contractor Perini Building Company. The case took a bizarre turn last week when MGM notified the court that a rogue warehouse manager sold more than 500 boxes of legal documents to a paper recycler for roughly $800. 
  
Overall, it wasn’t a great news week for MGM. Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, continued to dump shares of the casino company he founded. He reportedly raked in $268 million for the 20 million shares he sold on February 27. 
 
Wynn: Stock Halted after Premature/Erroneous Filing

The messy divorce between Wynn Resorts and one-time (?) partner Kazou Okada continues to be the fodder of many news stories. But that isn’t what temporarily halted the shares of Wynn from trading on the stock exchange on March 2.

Wynn filed a document with the SEC about getting the concession to build a new casino in Macau, the world’s hottest gaming territory. Wynn’s share price soared on the news. But minutes later, the SEC filing was pulled and shares were halted. Apparently Wynn jumped the gun on the announcement, failing to jump through one last legal hoop. Poker and investment maven Kid Dynamite goes Sherlock Holmes on Wynn’s premature 8-K ejaculation.


The Re-Publicing of Caesars

by , Feb 7, 2012 | 5:23 pm

Buckle up … the news (we care about) has been moving too fast for Pokerati be the lone source keeping up with it all. And with this latest — Caesars has made it official … the Empire is going public (again)! — don’t be surprised if February/March 2012 turns out to be the biggest news month in poker since April 2011.

I haven’t quite yet figured out if and how this is different from an IPO. But I do know these sorta things don’t happen in a vacuum. And considering the last time Caesars — soon to be better known on NASDAQ as CZR — looked serious about going public was the last time they had reason to believe passage of online poker legalization was imminent (Dec 2010) … uh, um, gahhh! So much going on, so many old docs to look at, so much for Kevmath to hopefully fact-check … my head is spinning with the possibilities! (And I can only wonder who Barack Obama met with on the side when he visited Las Vegas long enough to stay the night in the suburbs a couple weeks ago,)

Probably not a bad time to remember that Caesars was a public corporation (called Harrah’s) that went private almost immediately after passage of the UIGEA, controversial legislation that leveled the impact of the biggest online poker sites in the world (at the time).

Read below for an official press release.

More…


Steve Wynn in Partner Spat over Asian Pursuits

by , Jan 26, 2012 | 2:29 pm

Shares of Wynn Resorts tumbled on January 12 when it came out that a Wynn director and major shareholder had filed a lawsuit against the casino company. Turns out Kazuo Okada, one of Steve Wynn’s original partners, is claiming the company made a questionable $135 million donation to the University of Macau and hasn’t been sharing its financial information with him. Reuters has a nice write-up here.

The veiled implication is Wynn’s sizable donation might have been less than philanthropic — bordering on a “pay to play” ante to retain favor in the world’s most lucrative gaming destination. (The competing Las Vegas Sands’ Macau operation is currently under DOJ and SEC scrutiny for possible infringement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, as referenced here in a Wall Street Journal blog.)

Wynn claims Okada’s lawsuit is just a smoke screen to mask the fact that Okada had been working behind Wynn’s back to develop a casino in the Philippines. You can read all the tawdry details in A Partners’ Fight Erupts at Wynn.

How will it end? Perhaps better than Steve Wynn’s marriage. After all, Wynn recently told the press, “I love Kazuo Okada as much as any man that I’ve met in my life.”

Wynn shares have since recovered from the drama at the start of January, but still have a ways to go in 2012 before reaching 2011 highs.


Caesars Public Offering

by , Dec 28, 2011 | 11:13 pm

caesars harrahs czr IPO online poker

CZR FTW?
“Poker Poker!”

It feels like we’ve been talking about Caesars going public since before they were Caesars (we have) … but their latest S1/A filing with the SEC suggests not only that CZR really is might be ready to kick it Zynga-style with a big fat IPO … but also that any public offering from the worldwide gambling empire may be in preparation for imminent legalization of US online poker.

While such hefty levels of high finance are still probably a little beyond my ken … you can read the nearly 300 pages of Big Casino corporate speak and decide for yourself. Somewhere in here, I’m pretty sure, is a blueprint for the future of poker and/or online gambling.

At a minimum, I found this snippet on page 7 suggesting that Caesars is getting ready for something big related to online gambling poker:

We believe that additional jurisdictions will legalize online gaming due to consumer demand, a broader understanding of the need to regulate the industry and to generate income through taxes on gaming revenue. As such, we support efforts to regulate the online gaming industry to ensure that consumers are protected. We believe that the potential for online gaming is substantial and believe that we will command, at a minimum, our fair share in any legal jurisdiction. An H2 Gaming Capital study conducted in 2010 projects that the global online gaming market will grow to $36 billion in revenues by 2012. We believe that the largest opportunity in online gaming in the near term is the legalization of online poker in the United States. [emphasis added]

There’s tons more in this document worthy of perusal … some of which I’ve already skimmed. And it doesn’t take much to see how an actual Caesars IPO — not just talk of it — could-well coincide with legalized American online poker hubbub (finally!) reaching critical mass.

Caesars, after all, formerly known as Harrah’s, was a publicly traded company until going private shortly after passage of the UIGEA in 2006. Changed their name to Caesars in November 2010 — the last time they prepped seriously for an IPO (right after their boy Harry Reid won re-election and owed them a favor) only to withdraw plans for a public offering of stock shares right after someone told them the lame-duck online poker Reid bill was just a farce for other political purposes a couple weeks later.


With IPO Imminent, Zynga Casino Launch Brings Social Gaming Closer to Online Gambling

by , Dec 1, 2011 | 8:45 pm

POKER CON? Lo Toney plays his cards close to the vest when questioned about Zynga’s entrée into casinoville and supposed disinterest in the future of real-money online play.

Wall Street is buzzing about a coming Zynga IPO — set for December 15, according to the Huffington Post — and what it may or may not say about social gaming industry valuations and overall US economic health in a more-global internet age. Expected to raise at least $10 billion, this hotly anticipated initial public offering (one born of poker, mind you) could well be the biggest financial news in the history of our beloved little game.

Big Casinos are paying close attention, of course. It’s a fine line these days between social gaming and online gambling, particularly in a multinational economy built on virtual currency. I spoke with Zynga Poker General Manager Lo Toney a couple weeks ago … he wouldn’t make “forward-looking statements” about the IPO, and as per usual denied any interest in the future of legalized real-money online gambling … even as the company announced further steps into the casino world.

Toney had just two big developments to push — Zynga’s second live tournament event (he was really excited about Zynga players getting to compete against newly crowned WSOP champ Pius Heinz) and the opening of the new Zynga Casino … starting with Bingo, remade to appeal to grandmothers and the “younger generation” alike, he says.

But beyond the promo that usually would have little appeal to a grizzled old Poker blog like Pokerati, we did at least get to touch on the recent removal of tobacco (and water bongs) from the Zynga gift shop, my personal addiction to the Zynga Poker iPhone app, and the advantages, challenges, and social responsibilities that come with being able to market your poker (and now casino) games to 13-year-olds.

Have a listen …

Pokerati Interviews Lo Toney
November 16, 2011
[audio: /Pokerati Interview/lo-toney-zynga-interview.mp3]
download

Even if Toney is totally sincere about Zynga’s indifference to the possibility of legalized online gambling in the future, brick-and-mortar casinos are still actively trying to emulate Zynga’s social gaming success. No wonder the company appears so well-suited for such a big investment in the next generation of poker player and casino patrons as they come of age.


Trump Forms Partnership in Preparation for US Online Gambling

by , Oct 24, 2011 | 12:26 pm

joan rivers donald trump

Joan Rivers’ nemesis’ brother’s online poker company could learn a lot from Trump about how to run a company into the ground and still be rich.

Oh yeah, and now Donald Trump wants in on online poker … should the Feds re-legalize it anytime soon. He’s apparently partnered with New York hedge fund manager Marc Lasry with the intent of entering into the online gambling space as soon as the US opens the hatch.

Not a surprise. Trump got in, then out, of poker early in the boom (remember the US Poker Championships in Atlantic City?). That was a few years before Joan Rivers beat Annie Duke heads-up on Celebrity Apprentice. Trump’s 29-year-old daughter, Ivanka, explains the partnership as Trump Entertainment contributing the gambling licenses, Lasry putting up the capital, and The Donald offering his name and likeness to recruit future players.

“In terms of the Internet, brand is essential toward attracting players,” Ivanka told Business Week. “The Trump brand would be the most powerful one in this space.”

(h/t @TheWookieWay. NOTE: DonaldPoker.com is available should anyone wanna gamble $8 that such a URL might become the most powerful domain in poker.)


Did Caesars Just (Quietly) Buy the Palms?

by , Jun 19, 2011 | 5:05 am

The Palms Casino Resort, one of the last remaining “family run” operations on or off the Las Vegas Strip — and home to the gloriously raucous @Pokerati Game @PalmsPokerRm — will likely become part of the Caesars casino empire. The Maloof family, 80 percent owners of the Palms, sold off their majority interest this week to investors that include TPG Capital.

palms towers las vegas

Across the street from the Rio ... a true palace of low-stakes NLH/PLO.

Fort Worth-based TPG, of course, are majority owners of Caesars Entertainment, corporate overlords to the WSOP.

According to the Sacramento Bee, upon approval by Nevada Gaming regulators, the billionaire Maloof family will retain just 2 percent … with an option to rebuy up to 20.

Turns out talk of TPG owning the Palms wasn't referring to The Pokerati Game after all.

Untested but presumably reliable sources say the Palms will almost certainly end up in Caesars’ portfolio of casino properties, following an acquisition path similar to how things went for Planet Hollywood … and should become part of Caesars’ Total Rewards program by year-end. Over in Sacramento, the buzz is all about what the Maloof sale means for the Sacramento Kings, who apparently need both a new arena and a player bankroll.

I can’t begin to think I really understand the high finance and debt restructuring of Big Casinos … so before I try to explain, you should probably peruse the past six months or so of SEC filings for CZR. There really is a rather fascinating story in the agate here.


WPT Free-money Site Running UB Cheating Software?

by , Jun 8, 2011 | 2:04 pm

Though I’m not expert enough to confirm or deny any validity, this video did give me pause. To the untrained eye, it sure does look like possible (if not certain) cheating software in play on ClubWPT, the World Poker Tour’s subscription-based non-gambling site — you know, the one Mike Sexton is heavily pimping on Poker After Dark (in commercial spots previously occupied by Full Tilt) as the safest American online poker alternative out there.

Interesting to see the code explained, visually, for a clearer understanding of how God-mode in the UB Scandal probably worked … then extra-curious to realize Jim Ryan, CEO of WPT-parent Party Gaming, was CEO of Excapsa Software, Ultimate Bet partner, during the heyday of cheating on their site.

And while some may think little of it, because hey, it’s just pretend money … we all know free-play online poker isn’t just about the joys of truly amateur poker … it’s about preparation for real-money online gambling. The WSOP is pushing their free Facebook-app game throughout the Amazon Room, after all, and Zynga takes a rake in their “cash games”. Do a Google search for “Zynga poker rigged” or “Facebook poker scam” … The screams of cheating and scandal are more outrageous than AP/UB/Cereus ever coulda had to cover up.

Whether the apparent security flaws at Club WPT are a matter of coincidence, ignorance, incompetence, or shenanigans, it does make you wonder who will be ready for American players when real-money online poker comes into play.


Sahara Liquidation (Ep 07)

by , Jun 7, 2011 | 12:15 pm

Inspired by a conversation with Jesse May… Dr. Pauly and Benjo decide to buy pieces of the Sahara…

2011 WSOP – Episode 7: Sahara Liquidation with Remko (6:12) – Benjo and Pauly discussed the Sahara Casino liquidation sale/auction with one of the members of the Dutch press, Remko. Both Remko and Benjo expressed a keen interest in acquiring a slot machine for super cheap, while Pauly has his eyes set on a Pai Gow table. Meanwhile, Benjo and Remko try to figure out how to ship a slot machine from Vegas to France and Holland.
[audio: https://pokerati.com/podcast/tao/TOP_W11_07_SaharaLiquidation.mp3]

For more episodes, visit the Tao of Pokerati archives or subscribe to the Tao of Pokerati feed.


Grey Friday?

by , Apr 29, 2011 | 12:41 pm

Not everyone is calling it “Black Friday”. For Euros who opted out of the US in ’06 and mighta started believing that coulda been a wrong decision, it was “White Friday”.

The DOJ’s virtual handcuffing of Full Tilt and PokerStars two weeks ago not only neutered two industry giants (who made billions in North America while others sat on the sidelines), but also supposedly leveled the playing field worldwide for US-abstainers who supposedly found it harder to compete in Europe or anywhere against companies benefitting from the vast liquidity American players provided.

Thus the inaugural iGaming North America conference in Las Vegas next week is kicking off their new-era industry confab with a special session called Assessing ‘Grey Friday’ and the Expected Fallout … get it? Black + White = Gray Grey.

Should be interesting to hear from gaming industry insiders who’ve never appeared on Poker After Dark or in Day 1 chip counts speaking about “the road to regulation”, as per the theme of @iGamNA‘s shindig.

Check out the lineup here. You’ll see both Stu and I are serving on panels. @GamingCounsel‘s gonna be schoolin’ about Canada …

  • Mapping Canada’s Future in Online Gambling
  • … while I’m a panelist for the closing session:

  • The New Challenge for Online Poker – Playing the Hand That’s Been Dealt
  • There’s no live-stream as far as I know, but I’ll be sure to report back as influential industry experts (and a token blogger) assess the important questions moving forward … for me probably starting with, do I need to get a tie?


    5-Link Minimum

    Pokerati’s irregular clickable web guide for pokerers

    by , Mar 9, 2011 | 1:13 pm

    Tonight’s semi-random collection of websites that have recently caught my eye for various reasons is brought to you by Suited Cribsyour 2011 WSOP housing hookup and VIP services connek!

    OK, the links:

    G2E Asia — the AGA brings its trade show to Macau, prepping Western gaming industry round-eyes for a new level of expansion in China and across Asia.

    PokerGrump — an accidental low-stakes Vegas grinder, respected colleague on the license plate beat, and another guy I read often but don’t link up enough … generally thoughtful insight, and fun “guess the casino” posts, though few are as hard as this one:

    highlight for answer

    Mandalay Bay

    PokerGives.org — Mike Sexton, Linda Johnson, and Jan Fisher’s philanthropic endeavor has undergone a website redesign as they continue efforts to make sure charity poker tournaments give back as much as possible.

    DFW Gambler — don’t know who runs this site, but it kinda-sorta picks up where Pokerati left off upon skipping town, keeping the Dallas/Fort Worth poker scene up to date with solid, regularly updated info on local charity tourneys, big events in Oklahoma and Louisiana, and different free games — whether they be WPT Amateur Leagues or lesbian bar poker at Sue Ellen’s. Bingo, too!

    The Poker Life Coach — Jen Dunphy was once responsible for keeping Harrah’s employees on their A-game, and now brings her motivational services to MGM Resorts. Not sure if she’s more happy drill sergeant or corporate therapist … but for poker players needing to work on their life skills (she won’t give up names of clients? Balls!) it seems she’s no Sam Chauhan … but then again, she’s also no Sam Chauhan.

    Live Poker Training — Not sure if Shaun Deeb needs a life coach or just a mom. But either way, he’s got a boot camp March 26-27 … for players wanting to learn how to win so much money it doesn’t matter if you never learned to throw away pizza boxes or lift the toilet seat.

    Zynga PokerCon 2011 — you know they are new to poker when they call their inaugural event Poker CON. But the best we can tell, even though the folks at Zynga supposedly have made millions without paying out any winners, they aren’t the second coming of UB … but they could well be proof that recreational players are more valuable than online pros. And they’ve hired me (along with Michele Lewis and BJ Nemeth) to tell you all about the Zynga version of BARGE — so already we think they’re great, obv!


    Allied Service

    Suited Cribs — The guys to handle your WSOP housing needs, and all variety of poker services, from laundry runs and VIP transportation to nightclub line passes. Say you heard about them from Pokerati for a special surprise AND to have me personally check out your summertime Vegas rental to make sure the internet works and no pillows smell like urine.


    State of Nevada Super Bowl Numbers

    Casino sports books barely win with Green Bay victory

    by , Feb 16, 2011 | 1:42 am

    Not super-pokery, but poker players definitely like to bet on sports … and the gamble-wonky might find it interesting what the following data reveals about the economy … let alone the role of sports betting in American culture and the spread.

    The Nevada Gaming Control Board released the state’s take on the Super Bowl last week from its 183 sports books. $87.5 million. Not a totally shocking number — bigger than the last two years but nowhere near the glory days of 2006 … and the state lost money in ’08. But what was surprising to me is how much Nevada won — a mere $724k … less than 1 percent of money wagered, and the second smallest amount won by the state in the past decade. I mean she-ot … that’s less than a single Phil Ivey prop bet!

    Check out the stats, and discern for yourself …

    super bowl sportsbook betting