PILOT overboard!; Black Book bust; A spark for Sparks

The former Trump Marina looks sadly outmoded next to Borgata and Ocean

Although terrestrial casino revenue dipped 2.5% last month, New Jersey casinos made out like bandits online, with i-gambling up 19% and sports betting leapt 33.5%. In Atlantic City the gross was $227 million at traditional casinos, as a sharp decline in table revenue (-8%) pulled the Boardwalk down. Borgata slipped 4.5% but still led the market with $60.5 million. Hard Rock Atlantic City felt a chill, off 6.5%, but banked $39 million nonetheless. Ocean Resort was the usurper, jumping 17% to $30 million. Among the Caesars Entertainment flotilla, only Tropicana Atlantic City held its ground, flat at $21.5 million. Harrah’s Resort ceded 10% to fall to $19 million whilst volatile Caesars Atlantic City slid 9.5% to $18 million—not a good look for a high-roller joint. Everybody else was bunched way to the back, trailed by the Golden Nugget with $12.5 million (-1%), as Resorts Atlantic City made $13.5 million (-5%) and Bally’s Atlantic City managed $13 million on a 4% gain.

Internet casinos raked in $161.5 million, with DraftKings out front at $59 million, trailed by BetMGM‘s respectable $44 million. FanDuel took home $17.5 million and Caesars $15 million. BetRivers did $9 million and also-rans included PointsBet ($7 million), Barstool Sports ($4 million) and WynnBet ($1.5 million). For all the noise BallyBet executives make about their Garden State market share, it didn’t even show up on the radar. Sports betting brought in $82 million on handle of $786 million. FanDuel walloped DraftKings, $39.5 million to $18 million, while BetMGM bagged $7 million, Caesars Sportsbook $2 million and Barstool $1.5 million.

In other news, the plague of “Iffters,” phony acts using the names of famous ones, continues on the Boardwalk. Our man in A.C. took in an alleged Drifters/Coasters/Platters revue, and got 15 minutes of “Coasters” and 25 minutes of “Platters,” before walking out partway through the “Drifters,” whom he’d seen before. He writes, “Wonder if the song was ‘Under The Atlantic City Boardwalk’? Today, only the homeless (unhoused) are found under the Boardwalk.” By the way, the Golden Nugget was responsible for this sorry excuse for entertainment. Small wonder it’s in last place.

Grotto no more

Valet parking at the Nugget was jammed, so our correspondent tried customer self-park. No go. The entrance was closed. Everybody had to use the employee entrance. What kind of message does that send to your customers? “Second surprise, the large number of closed-off parking areas and the large number of support columns! I hadn’t been to the self-park in months and I couldn’t stop and take a photo, as there was no place to pull over. Doesn’t look good, hope they can fix everything.” At least the Nugget has removed the “Grotto” floor tiles from its soon-to-be-Mexican restaurant.

Our correspondent also stayed at Ocean Casino and sends back this report on the newer room product: “Really nice, new everything, with carpet that has ocean blue- and sand-colored carpet. On Thursday night, we stayed at Ocean in one of the ‘original’ rooms that shows wear and tear. Quite a contrast.”

He also reports that the Atlantic City “supermarket nightmare has bounced back. Four proposals were received by the Casino Redevelopment Authority. One of them was from the same Shop Rite corporation that took three years and asked for $500,000 per year to complete the deal. The CRDA backed out of that one. [Good idea—Ed.] One proposal was for a supermarket plus 150 apartments. The owners of the existing Save-A-Lot store, which is smaller than a Super Wawa convenience store, made a proposal to operate the full-sized supermarket in A.C. That makes too much sense, as they already run a business in A.C. without any giveaways. As with most things in A.C., ‘expect more’ but ‘accept less.’” Finally, the less-is-less Press of Atlantic City is now charing $4 a copy for its Saturday edition, in another twist of its death-spiral business model.

At the moment, we’re in Chicago on vacation. We don’t know if the Windy City is ready for this newfangled casino thing. A 24-hour town it is not. At 2:10 a.m. outside casino-to-be Medinah Temple there was no foot traffic, the streets were deserted, hot food was hella hard to come by and the truly lucky people were the few who had managed to snag cabs. Doesn’t look too promising for Bally’s Corp.—and that’s in a more central location than the permanent one.

Members of Congress of both parties are belatedly doing the right thing and trying to ban greyhound racing in West Virginia. This is a ‘sport’ that is long past the point of obsolescence, so bravo to Rep. Tony Cardeñas (D) and his five bipartisan cosponsors. According to Global Gaming Business, a bill introduced by the six would “make it illegal to wager on greyhound racing. The bill also would prohibit remote gambling on greyhound races and end the transport and sale of greyhounds across state lines for the purpose of racing.” Or, as Cardeñas said, “Greyhound racing is a cruel, dying industry that deserves no place in our country.”

The only malefactor remaining is Delaware North, employer of New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul‘s husband and operator of two West Virginia tracks. It has plenty of defenders in the W.V. Lege. Defending canine cruelty, State Senate Majority Whip Ryan Weld (R and track owner) huffed, “Once again, here is Washington trying to dictate to West Virginia what it can and cannot do. We had a bill a couple of years ago that would have effectively ended greyhound racing and that bill went down to a pretty strong defeat in the Senate. The legislators who are responsible and elected here in West Virginia made it clear that there wasn’t an interest in ending greyhound racing.”

The state’s two congresspeople lined up behind Weld and against the dogs. “Greyhound racing has a rich history in the state of West Virginia,” said one, evidently equating richness with animal cruelty. Grumbled the other, “I oppose anything that hurts West Virginia’s businesses. I’ll continue to do anything in my power to make sure West Virginia’s economy thrives.” And if that requires dogs to keep dying, so be it. Evidently, track patrons agree, as wagering at the state’s two tracks is on a four-year upward climb, inspiring on Democratic solon to crack, “Quite frankly, it has a better job performance than Congress.” But we agree with animal rights activist Christine A. Dorchak, who says, “the criminality of greyhound racing is particularly attractive to cartel affiliated groups trying to capitalize on it.” And West Virginians, apparently.

Jottings: ICYMI, two states enabled sports betting last week. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) both signed OSB bills into law. North Carolina will accept up to 12 operators and tax them at 18%, while Vermont will allow two to six books, although few are expected and they will be taxed 20% … Although court challenges will probably be filed, the Virginia Lege has passed a law forcing Richmond voters to revisit the question of whether the city will host a casino. The electorate shot own down (narrowly) two years ago … We call them slots. Makers call them “skill machines” (above). Pace-O-Matic just won its fourth court decision allowing continued operation of its slot routes in Pennsylvania. Seen above is a “skill machine” (maker unknown) at Andy’s Diner … Internet casinos could soon be a thing in Rhode Island. Bills to permit them have been voted out of committee in both houses of the Lege … Everi and Bragg Gaming could be among the low-hanging fruit of this year’s merger-and-acquisition activity. So opines Frank Fantini, who also puts Rush Street Interactive on the ‘vulnerable’ list … Our favorite casino owner, Kenny Epstein of the El Cortez, is interviewed by Global Gaming Business this week. Give it a listen, please …

Speaking of the El Cortez, it’s trotting out a Barbie Suite to cash in on Greta Gerwig‘s forthcoming movie. Part of the Jackie Gaughan Suite has been restyled in pink and will look familiar to viewers of Ellie Goulding‘s “On My Mind” video … Under the aegis of Jacobs Entertainment, the venerable Sands Regency in Reno has been rebranded as J Resort, the culmination of a $300 million makeover. From what little we can see, it’s a dramatic change for the better … If faltering compact negotiations between the Seneca Nation and New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) ever reach fruition, the Seneca are expected to get another urban casino. Rochester is on the wish list, but affrighted Del Lago Casino is throwing up opposition in the Lege … Ag Park in Columbus, Nebraska, is the latest outpost of the Roman Empire. It’s where Caesars Entertainment opened a temporary, Harrah’s-branded casino while its permanent one is constructed. 250 slots and electronic table games (ugh!) are already on offer … Louis Vuitton is inescapable in Sin City. The company just opened its sixth Las Vegas store at Wynncore, although this latest boutique is intended for a select fewVici Properties is reassuring investors that it can ride out a recession (which persistently refuses to manifest itself). Who’s to disbelieve them? Gaming REITs outperformed nicely during the Great Pandemic … Las Vegas Sands only reluctantly built 282 hotel rooms at what is now Wind Creek Bethlehem. The new owners are doing splendidly enough to bump the room count up to 550 and it evidently looks a lot better than that fugly tower that Sands’ Michael Leven threw up … A non-gaming hotel is on the drawing board for the burgeoning Allegiant Stadium area. Nuance Las Vegas would offer 340 rooms at a development cost of $275 million.

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Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

A Las Vegas Realtor since 2008. Mike has a wide range of knowledge around all things Las Vegas.

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