Wednesday, June 30, 2010

California Tribal Casino Opens Hotel Putting Further Pressure on Northern Nevada Gaming

The Sacramento Bee reports on the opening of a 300-room hotel, spa and amphitheater at the Thunder Valley Casino, north of Sacramento. This is bad news for gaming properties in northern Nevada. Northern Nevada has definitely been hit by the recession as well as the explosion of tribal gaming in California. By adding lodging to their property, Thunder Valley is even that much more of a draw for gamblers that want to spend the night at a property, but not drive all the way to Nevada. This is a good move for Thunder Valley and bad for Northern Nevada.

I had a post last year that discussed a radical approach to helping Lake Tahoe and Reno hotel casinos compete - putting legal brothels in the properties. That idea was discussed in a Casino Operations class at UNLV last spring and it was not rejected out of hand by the students. What should be noted is that I'm not the first to pose the idea. The mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, posited the same idea for Sin City back in 2007. He took some heat for his position, but an opinion piece in the Las Vegas Review Journal supported him. I do too. It makes sense for Las Vegas but makes even more sense for Northern Nevada gaming properties. In fact, it might be a matter of survival.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Jersey Still Looking at Sports Betting

The AP reports that New Jersey wants voters to decide this fall if sports and internet betting should be legalized in the state. Several Democratic legislators are pushing for a ballot initiative for the November ballot. In addition, they have called for a gambling summit that would assemble legislators, gambling industry figures and policy advisers.

The story quotes State Senator Steve Lesniak, " 'There are billions of dollars of gambling money that we're leaving on the table," said Lesniak, who represents a district in northern New Jersey, near where the Meadowlands racetrack wants to offer slot machines to attract new gamblers. That's something Atlantic City has vowed never to let happen.' "

Senator Lesniak has already sued the federal government over the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which effectively bans sports betting in all but four states: Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware. He is challenging PASPA based on constitutional grounds.

In recent years, other states have expanded their gambling offerings, pulling market share from Atlantic City. Senator Lesniak is quoted, " 'Atlantic City is dying,' Lesniak said. 'The Meadowlands is dying. Our racetracks are dying. We have time to get this right and craft a constitutional amendment that will maximize revenues for the state and for our tourist destinations.' " I think he is correct. If New Jersey doesn't do something, Atlantic City gaming will become a shell of what it once was.

Other posts on this topic can be viewed here and here.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tropicana Adding Cantor Gaming's Mobile Product

The Las Vegas Sun reports that the Tropicana is the latest casino to add Cantor Gaming's mobile wagering system. Cantor's system is already installed at the Palazzo and M Resort. I believe that Cantor has an agreement with the Hard Rock, but the system may not be installed yet. Cantor isn't exactly taking Las Vegas by storm, but they are making progress and picking up casino installations.

The Sun story reports the deal to mobile gaming for the Tropicana's upcoming revamped race and sports book, as well as other public areas, such as pool areas, restaurants and bars. This installation is part of the Tropicana's $165M renovation. The Las Vegas Review Journal reports the deal is larger - that Cantor will actually RUN the renovated Tropicana sports book when it opens this fall.

If the Review Journal story is accurate, Cantor running the sports book is a bigger deal. Selling a wireless network coupled with their proprietary games is one thing; taking the responsibility and potential liability of operating a sports book is another. Cantor, if successful, will provide new competition to Leroy's and Lucky's, the two major sports book operators in Nevada. Cantor's mobile gaming system would be a differentiator.

Cantor is the only mobile gaming system approved by state regulators, so they are in the first-mover position in this application area. If Cantor indeeds leverages this and also enters the sports book market, they could easily become a real threat to Leroy's and Lucky's. With regard to the other nascent mobile gaming providers, they are definitely in the rear and losing ground fast.

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