Small Nuggets of News

The board of Galaxy Entertainment Group is scheduled to discuss the possibility of paying a dividend when it meets this week. Galaxy had HK$14.4 billion in cash at the end of the third quarter. Fourth-quarter and year-end results will be announced following the board meeting.  •  The European Parliament has approved revised rules that require all gambling services to adhere to anti-money laundering measures proposed for implementation across the European Union. The rules, which also provide conditions whereby member states may exempt certain forms of gambling with European Commission approval, will not come into force until the EP and the European Council agree on the revisions. Negotiations to that end will resume after EP elections in May.  •  The governing council of the English city of Bath has approved plans for a £14 million casino with a 128-room hotel and two restaurants. The facility will be operated by France’s Groupe Partouche in partnership with Global Gaming Ventures. Construction is slated to begin this summer, with an autumn 2015 opening planned. The development is expected to create 120 construction jobs and about 80 full-time positions when it is complete.  •  Macau’s University of Saint Joseph is partnering with Catholic University in Lisbon and the Kellogg School of Management in the United States to offer an Advanced Program in casino and hospitality management. The English-language course, aimed at executive-level managers, will be taught in four stages in sessions in Lisbon, Macau and at Kellogg’s campus in Chicago. The first stage begins May 5 and ends July 10. Application closes on April 16.  •  Visa Europe, Mastercard and PayPal have voluntarily agreed to block financial transactions between UK gamblers and online gambling sites not licensed by the country’s Gambling Commission. The agreement commences once the government’s new point of consumption tax on foreign-based operators is imposed in December.  •  The U.S. Department of State says Macau should drastically lower its reporting threshold for gaming-related currency transactions. In its annual report on money-laundering and financial crime the department recommends the threshold be lowered from MOP500,000 (US$62,500) to MOP24,000 and calls for “robust oversight of junket operators, mandating due diligence for non-regulated gaming collaborators and implementing cross-border currency reporting.”  •  The Silverton Casino in Las Vegas is expanding. A new hotel tower is now under way and should be complete in 2016. Construction crews plan to erect the 390-room tower on a lot behind the resort’s 1,500-space parking garage.  ?  Only two major casino operators on the Las Vegas Strip have yet to partner on loyalty points with mainstream hotel chains. Wynn Las Vegas and Sands Las Vegas do not have deals with hoteliers like Marriott, Hyatt and Starwood. MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment have both announced loyalty program partnerships with major hotel chains. The $415 million SLS Las Vegas resort, which will open Labor Day weekend, will be part of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts guest loyalty program.  ?  The Neon Museum in Las Vegas has met attendance projections in its first full year of operations, drawing more than 60,000 visitors into the outdoor space full of old casino signs. The Downtown attraction took in almost $2 million in revenue and hosted more than 60,400 visitors in 2013. Eighty percent of the visitors came from out of town, and out of those, 25 percent were from overseas.  ?  Boyd Gaming’s Orleans Arena has been awarded LEED Gold certification for existing buildings by the U.S. Green Building Council. The Orleans is the first arena in the state of Nevada to receive this certification, which recognized Boyd’s efforts to reduce energy consumption and the amount of waste sent to local landfills.  ?  The new lineup of shows at the Riviera in Las Vegas includes “Pawn Stars Live!” a spoof of the TV show, which will move from the Golden Nugget March 29 and reopen at the Riviera April 21. The Riviera Comedy Club is adding “Men: The Experience,” “Forever Doo Wop,” and “Forever Motown.” The Riviera has spruced up its historic showroom with new carpet and upholstery.  ?  Sambalatte, a Las Vegas-based coffee restaurant, has opened a new location at Monte Carlo on the Las Vegas Strip. The new restaurant officially opens May 1 and will create jobs for 40 people.  ?  On March 21, a  24-by-24-foot wooden block will be set aflame in Downtown Las Vegas in a performance art production called Life Cube. But six nights of live music leading up to the event have been called off. Organizers gave no reason for the cancellation.  •  The California State Auditor last week released an audit that finds that some Indian gaming money collected as part of the Special Distribution Fund, and intended for counties as mitigation for casinos, hasn’t was properly documented by some of the counties that received it. The money, about $1.7 million total from a total of $39 million distributed between 2010 and 2013, was not documented properly in seven cases out of 12 audited. The counties audited were San Diego, Riverside, Butte and Lake.  •  Kennedy Management Company has announced its demerger from Kennedy Wendel. As Kennedy Management Co. it will be 100 percent Indian-owned. It partnered with Wendel Cos. in 2007 and worked together on several Indian construction projects, including several casinos. The goal of the new company is to provide training and mentoring to tribes and to employ as many tribal members as possible in construction projects.  •  The stock value of Boyd Gaming Corp., jumped 16 percent last week to $13.64 after Elliott Associates LP disclosed that it has a 7 percent share in the company. The company’s gains were the highest since July 30. Boyd operates several casinos in Nevada and New Jersey. Elliott is a New York based hedge fund that specializes it taking positions in distressed firms and helping to grow them.  •  Century Casinos, based in Colorado, has signed six-year agreements with Nova Star Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises to upgrade the technology on their floating casinos, that offering ferry services between Maine and Nova Scotia. Century has also signed a contract extension with Regent Seven Sea that will allow it to introduce a jackpot system above Regent’s vessels. It will begin by introducing a progressive jackpot game on eight of Regent’s vessels this year.   The first Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) that focuses on the casino market formed in November, and is called Gaming & Leisure Properties (GLPI). The REIT was a spin off from Penn National Gaming. It is so
far the only REIT to zero in on the gaming market and has already moved to include 20 casino properties and is aiming at smaller and regional casinos to add to its portfolio.  •  The latest report shows that slots in Pennsylvania have a lower cumulative payback percentage than most other jurisdictions. According to Spectrum Gaming Group’s East Coast Slot Report, Pennsylvania slots as a whole returned an average of 89.9 percent of all wagers, lower than every nearby jurisdiction except West Virginia, where the return was 89.8 percent. Experts interviewed for a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article said the reason is a combination of lower revenues due to table games, a high tax rate, and a lack of nearby competition to pressure operators to offer higher returns.  •  The Venetian Macao was the scene of a historic event for the Chinese gaming enclave when the Rolling Stones performed their first-ever Macau concert at the venue’s Cotai Arena. More than 10,000 fans crowded the venue for the performance, part of the band’s “14 on Fire” tour. “This marks one more move in Sands China’s support in establishing Macau as the place to be in Asia for non-stop superstar entertainment and an enormous diversity of leisure and business attractions,” said Sands China Ltd. CEO Edward Tracy. “With each mega-event, our city’s global profile as a world center of tourism and leisure reaches ever higher.”  •  Joe Pakootas, chief executive officer of the Colville Tribal Federal Corporation, recently announced construction is about to begin on the Colville Tribe’s new $41 million casino in Omak, Washington, and the facility could open in May 2015. Located on 35 acres of the tribe’s 600-acre site, the venue will include a 52,000 square foot casino, restaurant and buffet and an 80-room hotel.  •  Josh Hirsberg, senior vice president and chief financial officer at Boyd Gaming, recently announced the final expansion of the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, Kansas will feature a 10,000 square foot convention center, 20,000 square foot equestrian practice arena and 200 equestrian stalls. Scheduled to be completed early next year, the total cost of the expansion will be $20 million.