Small Nuggets of News

Slot manufacturer Bally Technologies has bought nearly 14 a res of land just north of the 215 Beltway in Las Vegas, with the intent to expand its office and industrial buildings. The land is next to the new, 135,000-square-foot headquarters of the former SHFL entertainment, which Bally acquired last year. “The acquisition of these strategic parcels provides Bally Technologies and important foundation as it continues to develop long-term growth plans,” Greg Tassi, first vice president of commercial brokerage CBRE Las Vegas, which represented Bally in the purchase, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  •  West Virginia’s Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races announced plans to add a 1,200-seat concert venue. Casino officials said construction will begin this month on the new venue, to be located on the casino floor. It will include a VIP area and a box office. Charles Town is seeking to expand in advance of 2016’s opening of the MGM casino at National Harbor, which targets the same metropolitan Washington, D.C. market.  •  The Michigan Lottery has extended its contract with GTECH Corporation to run the Powerball, Mega Millions and other lottery games for the state. The contract, initially a six-year deal set to expire next January, will now run until January 2017. “The Michigan Lottery games supported by GTECH’s products and services are very popular with our players and provide a significant share of the revenue that we contribute each year to the state School Aid Fund,” lottery spokesman Jeff Holyfield said in a statement. In Europe, Greek online gambling monopoly OPAP has chosen GTECH as its online betting provider. GTECH beat out four other companies—believed to include Playtech, OpenBet and 888 Holdings—to win the closed tender, which will initially focus on sports betting. OPAP holds a  national monopoly on online sports betting and random-number-generated games.  •  The Israel Sports Betting Board reported record revenue of NIS1.92 billion (US$5.5 million) in 2013, a 7.3 percent increase over 2012. Profit rose 1.2 percent to NIS420 million ($120.4 million). The bulk of the revenue came via ISBB’s Daily Odds lottery offering. Its Racer horse betting product added NIS64 million. CEO Ishtak Lary said he expects revenue to top NIS2 billion for the first time in 2014 in line with a three-year goal of NIS3 billion.  •  The Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission has lifted a suspension of racing it had imposed on Harrah’s Philadelphia Racetrack and Casino. The suspension was handed down after drivers complained about the track’s condition, which they say led to a November crash in which a driver was injured. While lifting the suspension, the commission indicated that the track’s racing season will not begin as scheduled March 8 because of continued cold and snowy weather.  •  Western Maryland’s Rocky Gap Casino Resort has applied to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission to add to its total of 577 slot machines. According to the commission, 19 VLTs will be transferred to Rocky Gap from Maryland Live! in Hanover, which is seeking to reduce its slot machine count by 100 to make room for 12 more table games. Maryland Live! has 4,270 slots and 174 table games.  •  Finland’s Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy has proposed the creation of a special task force to monitor compliance with and enforcement of the country’s internet gambling laws. The set-up of the new group and the results of its deliberations are expected to be completed and submitted to the cabinet for study by the end of the year.  •  Century Casinos, Inc. announced that the company and Regent Seven Seas Cruises signed an amendment to the casino concession agreement extending casino operations on board the Mariner, Navigator and Voyager cruise ships, operating out of Miami, Florida, through December 31, 2016. Century Casinos also announced the introduction of a fleet-wide progressive jackpot on board of all eight vessels of Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises throughout 2014.  • Boyd Gaming now offers its Stardust Casino app, on Facebook since last year, on iOS. The app, developed by Boyd, takes players to the original lobby of the Stardust Casino in Las Vegas, which closed in 2006. Players can bet with virtual money on a number of casino games and earn points when they win.  •  Liquor regulators in Pennsylvania have awarded the first license to a tavern to operate small games of chance. The license to Midway Tavern in Hanover, Pennsylvania, comes with a $2,000 fee before the bar’s owner can begin offering pull-tabs, sweepstakes and other games. So far, only six applications state-wide have been made to the Liquor Control Board to operate games under the three-month-old law.  • New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez last week signed a bill that confirms the right of racetracks to bar individuals whose licenses have been suspended or revoked for drug violations related to horse racing, i.e. performance altering drugs. It provides civil immunity from suit by persons who are appealing such a ruling and whose suspensions or revocations have been stayed until then.  •  Visitation to Las Vegas was up 8.2 percent to 3.4 million visitors in January, reports the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Convention attendance increased 10.4 percent for the month. Air passengers into Las Vegas were up 5.3 percent.  ?  The new Cromwell resort in Las Vegas plans to hire 1,000 employees by the end of the month. The Strip property owned by Caesars Entertainment, formerly Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and the Barbary Coast, will feature 188 rooms and suites and a 40,000-square foot casino.  ?  Sands China is planning to launch a new production show at its Sands Cotai Central resort complex in Macau. Monkey King—a Mythical Theatre Show, based on a popular Chinese legend, is expected to debut in 2015.  •  The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council has named MGM Resorts as one of America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises. MGM joins other companies including, Allstate Insurance, AT&T, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Marriott International, and UPS.  ?  March is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month in the U.S. The National Council on Problem Gambling reports that 8 million Americans may be affected by problem gambling, which also affects their families.  ?  William Hill has appointed Sir Roy Gardner to its board as an independent non-executive director. Gardner is a former chairman and director of Manchester United football club and has held executive positions in the utility, telecommunications, defense and catering industries. He will serve as a member of the Audit and Risk, Remuneration, Nomination and Corporate Responsibility committees.  •  Insomniac Even
ts CEO Pasquale Rotella, founder of the popular Electric Daisy Carnival, has announced two new Las Vegas festivals: Beyond Wonderland and Nocturnal Wonderland. The festivals’ current Southern California editions have begun to outgrow their present home at a 65,000-seat amphitheater in Bakersfield, California. EDC will return to Vegas for a fourth year June 20-22.  ?  A comic stage version of TV’s “Pawn Stars” is moving from Downtown Las Vegas to the Vegas Strip. “Pawn Shop Live!” will open in the Riviera’s Starlite Theatre April 21.  ?  Construction has restarted on a mixed-use real estate project in Las Vegas. The Gramercy, a 20-acre development with retail, office and residential space, is being revived by WGH Partners. It was begun as ManhattanWest by original developer Alex Edelstein. He sold it for pennies on the dollar early last year.  •  The National Indian Gaming Commission has announced the preliminary fee rate for 2014. Tier 1 Tribes will be 0.000 percent of gross revenues to the commission, while Tier 2 tribes will pay 0.072 percent. The NIGC is funded from such fees.  •  During its first full year of operation Maine’s Oxford Casino took in $30 million in revenues according to the Maine Gambling Control Board. During the same period Bangor’s Hollywood Casino made $47 million with gambling activity declining from $569 million in 2012 to $469 million in 2013. Patrick Fleming, the board’s executive director said this might be the effect of people visiting the new casino at the expense of the old. •  The Spokane, Washington, city council last week voted to withdraw its opposition to the Spokane Tribe of Indians’ proposal for a casino near Fairchild Air Force Base. The vote reverses a two-year old vote. The council’s make-up recently changed, and a member solicited a letter from former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Terry Yonkers to the effect that the casino would not hinder operations of the base, an issue that opponents of the casino have cited.  •  Macau VIP gaming room promoter Iao Kun Group Holding Company reported unaudited rolling chip turnover for February of US$1.73 billion, a 34 percent increase over the same month in 2013. For the first two months of 2014 turnover was $3.02 billion, an average of $1.51 billion per month, up 18 percent year over year. Win rate for the month came in at a high 3.6 percent. All the company’s VIP rooms are on a revenue-sharing remuneration model.  •  Nova Star Cruises Ltd. has plans to build a casino ship, the Nova Star, with 300 square meters of gaming. It will operate out of Yarmouth, in Nova Scotia, Canada. It will offer 70 slot machines and table games such as blackjack during the ten-hour ferry cruise between Yarmouth and Portland, Maine.  The Nova Star can carry 1,215 passengers and 336 vehicles.  •  The Colville Tribes of north and central Washington will break ground in April or May on a casino in Omak that will open about a year later. The project will be located on 35 acres and will cost about $41 million. It will include a 52,000 square foot casino, dining and 80 room hotel. It will double the size of the tribe’s current casino.  •  California has earmarked over $120,000 to the Yolo Indian Gaming Local Community Benefit Committee to give as grants to local groups affected by casino gaming in Yolo County. The state has allocated more than $9.1 million from its Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund to such committees all over the state since Indian gaming was legalized in 2000.  •  The government of Armenia has issued regulations for the development of casinos in the city of Meghri bordering Iran. The rules follow legislative changes first approved in 2012 opening up the national market beyond the capital of Yerevan to four additional cities: Tsaghkadzor, Jermuk, Sevan and Meghri.  •  Dublin-based bookmaking giant Paddy Power said losses from its operations in Italy, the largest betting market in Europe, totaled €16.8 million last year, up from €14.7 million in 2012. Chief Financial Officer Cormac McCarthy said he expects the company will break even in Italy in 2014. Paddy Power controls about 10 percent of online betting and 3 percent of online casino-style gaming in the country.  •  The Atlantic City Alliance and its “Do Crew” were selected as “Best in show” at a recent travel show exhibition. The Alliance, which is Atlantic City’s marketing arm, won the distinction at the New York Times Travel Show in New York earlier this month. The award went to the Alliance for having the most interactive booth at the event.  The booth showcases a “pop-up” resort, which has a DJ booth, prize wheel, massage chairs and other nightlife.