Small Nuggets of News

Maryland’s Prince George’s County wants to make a vacant school near MGM Resorts’ National Harbor casino site available for MGM to use as a training and recruitment facility for the new casino, slated to open in 2016. The county has asked the county education department to declare the vacant Thomas Addison Elementary School as surplus property, and to transfer the deed to county government. The county would then make the department available to MGM, which had previously asked the county to identify locations that would be suitable for a recruitment operation, training facility and staging center.  •  The New York State Gaming Commission is to partner with the U.K. National Lottery operator Camelot Group, which will draw up a five-year plan to revive the state’s lottery marketing to meet new competition. Camelot was the company retained in last year’s plan to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery that was declared unconstitutional by that state’s attorney general.  •  Scientific Games Corporation announced that the it has signed a new contract with the Maine State Lottery to implement and operate a complete lottery gaming system for instant and draw games, including the Sciplay interactive platform, as well as to provide instant ticket printing and a Cooperative Services Program (CSP). Under the contract, Scientific Games is responsible for installing and supporting terminals, terminal communications and point-of-sale equipment for approximately 1,300 WAVE lottery retail terminals, as well as providing instant game design, marketing services, warehouse management, inventory control and retail distribution.  • The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday accepted slot and system manufacturer Bally Technologies’ $125,000 fine in settlement of a 28-count complaint with state gaming regulators. The Las Vegas-based company admitted to charges that it failed to register key employees with the Gaming Control Board.  •  A bill has been introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature that would remove exemptions in the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act that currently allow smoking in casinos across half the gaming floor. The bill, sponsored Republican state Senator Stewart Greenleaf, a longtime advocate of a full smoking ban in casinos, has been referred to the Public Health and Welfare Committee. Observers give the measure little chance of getting out of committee.  •  The Kentucky Baptist Convention has launched a radio advertisement to drum up opposition to bills in the state legislature that would expand gaming to include casinos. In addition to moral opposition to gambling, the ad predictably portrays casinos as “predatory” businesses that “prey on the most vulnerable among us.” The 60-second spot, which is airing on several Christian radio stations, urges Kentucky lawmakers not to issue “hunting licenses” to casino operators to allow them to prey on the poor.  •  Officials of Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem were joined by Pennsylvania State Police in squelching a rumor spread over the Facebook social network that snakes were loose in the property and biting customers. Pennsylvania State Trooper William Ortiz told the Express-Times newspaper there are “absolutely zero snakes in this place.” A statement from Las Vegas Sands Corporation, owner of the casino, reiterated, “There have been no reported incidents of snakes on our property. We do not allow any animals on property with the exception of service animals.”  •  Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs has opened its new $50 million hotel. The hotel includes guest rooms and suites, a fitness center, indoor pool, luxury spa, and a bistro. A new porte-cochere was added, linking the casino, hotel and adjacent events center.  ?  The board of directors of Sands China has approved an interim dividend of HK$0.87 a share (US$0.11) and a special dividend of HK$0.77 a share. The company said the interim dividend was about 30 percent higher than last year’s. Combined, the two represent a returned to shareholders of HK$13.22 billion (US$1.69 billion).  •  Visitor arrivals  to Macau were up 3.6 percent in December to 2.6 million, according to officials figures, boosting visitation for all of 2013 to 29.3 million, an increase of 4.4 percent over 2012. Mainland China, the largest source of visitation, grew 10.2 percent last year, with Guangdong province accounting for 45 percent. Mainland visitors travelling under the Individual Visit Scheme rose by 13 percent to 8 million. Visitation from Hong Kong and Taiwan, the next  two largest feeder markets, declined 4.4 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively, to 6.7 million and 1 million.  •  A sequel to the movie “Mall Cop” may be filmed in part at the Wynn Las Vegas. Sony is looking for $4 million in tax credits from the state, which passed a bill last year to encourage film production in the state. The bill allows for tax credits for up to $20 million for television/film projects that spend north of 60 percent of production costs in the Silver State.  ?  Macau’s migrant workforce stood at 137,838 workers in December, up by 1,952 from November, according to official data. Mainland China supplied the largest contingent at 87,000. The hospitality industry was the biggest employer of migrant workers, accounting for about one-third of the total.  •  The International Eatery at Neonopolis in Downtown Las Vegas is proving popular among locals and visitors. The food court, which includes outlets for Italian, Asian and Mexican food, is the latest success story to emerge from the Downtown renaissance, and is turning a once languishing corner into a minor destination.  ? The CalNeva in downtown Reno, Nevada, is expanding its gaming. The new Siri’s Casino has created 65 construction jobs will employ between 30 and 50 employees when the casino opens.  •  DRGT has deployed its wide-area progressive system in MG Africa’s four machine gaming venues in Ghana. The Belgium-based supplier joined with its African partner, Simplicit-e Gaming Solutions, on the installation, which enables WAP and mystery jackpots and cashless gaming and links loyalty programs across the four properties.  •  The 9th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled last week that California’s Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians is a federally recognized tribe and upholding an earlier court ruling that the Bureau of Indian Affairs and National Indian Gaming Commission acted correctly when it recognized the tribe and allowed it to go forward to build a casino. The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by Friends of Amador County, in California’s gold country, who oppose the tribe’s plans to build a casino with 950 slot machines and 20 gaming tables near Ione.  •  Nasdaq-listed Entertainment Gaming Asia said it plans to write o
ff US$2.5 million of its investment in the Dreamworld Casino in Pailin on the Cambodian border with Thailand and may exit the flagging operation entirely. EGA, formerly Elixir Gaming Technologies, is 38 percent owned by Melco International Development, a subsidiary of Macau casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment.  •  Foxwoods Resorts Casino in Connecticut will be eliminating 125 table game dealer positions, but hopes to do it this spring without involuntary layoffs by offering severance packages to volunteers, the casino informed its dealers union last week. The casino currently has about 1,800 dealers at its two casinos at Foxwoods and MGM Grand at Foxwoods. The casino blamed increased competition, a challenging economy and “suppressed gaming market,” for the reduction.  • Cache Creek Casino Resort in Yolo County, California has “amicably” settled a strike with its slot machines technicians union Stationary Engineers Local 39. Workers voted to accept a new contract and almost immediately returned to work last week. The strike had lasted five days.  •  China Star Entertainment Group, the Hong Kong-listed company behind Macau’s Hotel Lan Kwai Fong, said it is in talks to acquire a VIP gaming promoter in the city. In addition to the Lan Kwai Fong, which operates independently as a “satellite” casino under SJM’s gaming concession, China Star is also an investor in a VIP gaming room at SJM’s flagship Grand Lisboa casino. China Star is best known as a producer of films for the Cantonese-language market.  •  The California Senate last week approved a bill that would set up an advisory committee to review taxes in the non-Indian gaming industry with the possibility of imposing a new gambling tax but also with the possibility of allowing more non-Indian gaming. It would also investigate whether existing regulations hurt or hinder the creation of employment.  •  The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs has given the go ahead to put 626 acres into federal trust, including 91 acres that could be used for gaming, for California’s Mechoopda Indian Tribe in Butte County. The tribe’s chairman, Dennis Ramirez said that a casino, “is not off the table and not on the table,” and added, “Right now we’re looking at other avenues of economic development,” according to the Chico Enterprise. The tribe has been trying to put land into trust for more than a decade. The tribe, which was first recognized by the federal government in 1851, lost its land in 1967, only to have recognition restored in 1992. However its attempts to put land into trust were delayed by court challenges that required its request to be reconsidered by the bureau.  •  Forbes Travel Guide has awarded five stars to Four Seasons Hotel Macao. The 360-room hotel is located at Sands China’s Plaza Macao gaming resort on the Cotai Strip.  •  A survey by the Macau Gaming Industry Labourers Association has found that 43 percent of casino workers hide their gambling habit. The poll of 481 workers found that 59 percent gambled. A representative of the trade union said 7.4 percent are “hard-core secret gamblers.”