Report from the shore; Cretins win in Alabama

While Bally’s Corp. may not be the laughingstock of the casino industry, it isn’t for want of trying. You would think that Bally’s Atlantic City (above) would want to pimp nearby Bally’s Dover Downs to its customers. Instead it sent a lengthy mailer touting all the great deals to be found … at Bally’s Vicksburg. We mean, if you’ve driven to Atlantic City regularly, what’s a quick little runout to Vicksburg, the vacation capital of Dixie? (Not.) Don’t get us wrong. We’ve been to Vicksburg. We like Vicksburg. But it’s not exactly the destination that Bally’s customer base is slavering to be incentivized towards. Actually, Bally’s apparently needs to induce players to stay in Atlantic City anyway. Through the end of the month it’s offering room rates starting at $19 a night, though one wag suggested that was $15 too much (and yes, he’s stayed there).

While on the subject of marketing, Hard Rock Atlantic City is issuing new players cards. To create confusion (we guess) the new cards look exactly like the old ones, save for a new player number. There is also a new player-management system called “Unity,” but it has not yet been deployed. Says our East Coast correspondent, “The Legends Players Club Lounge will become the Icon Lounge. I asked the employee if it would be the Carl Icahn Lounge. He didn’t think that was humorous. Apparently he knew of Uncle Carl. For the second time recently, a Hard Rock gift was cancelled, due to ‘supply issues.’” Sounds like somebody at the Hard Rock put the cart before the horse.

Casino companies looking to invest in the banana republic that is Alabama might want to have their heads examined. The state Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that electronic-bingo operations in two counties are illegal and must cease business forthwith. It’s too early for legal analysis of this decision but the Supremes have shown a tendency in the past to make it up as they go along. Long-suffering VictoryLand has a month to shut down, as must two other casinos. This is a slap in the faces of voters, who had amended their county constitutions to permit Class II gaming.

The only winner in this debacle is the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, whose three casinos are off-limits to anti-gambling jihadists in Alabama, thanks to the intervention of the federal courts. Crowed state Attorney General Steve Marshall, “The Alabama Supreme Court’s opinion makes clear what my office has maintained from the start: these gambling enterprises are not only patently illegal under Alabama law, but also a menace to public health, morals, safety and welfare.” Isn’t it nice to live in a state where one’s morals are subject to state fatwa? As for Marshall, he’s on his broomstick against three other counties, with a compliant high court in tow.

Arizona is the fastest-growing sports betting market west of the Mississippi (and growing faster than some east of the Big Muddy too). But Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and lawmakers may have given away the store. Low tax rates meant that while the state saw $5 billion in handle in Year One, a paltry $32 million trickled into government coffers. That’s a conversion rate well below 1%. By contrast, politicians had predicted $100 million a year in tax revenues. Now Ducey and legislators may try to remedy their mistake by increasing the number of licensees, which may dilute the pie rather than grow it. Another goof may have been not to auction licenses off but grant them outright. Meanwhile, “george” political donors like Sahara owner Alex Meruelo are laughing all the way to the bank. Meanwhile, although online betting has taken off, operators are much slower and more reluctant to open brick-and-mortar books.

Jottings: CEO Geoff Hogg is out at Star Entertainment, as the ethically challenged company struggles to stay out of even bigger trouble. A more pressing concern for the firm is the potential loss of its operating license at Star Sydney … The United Kingdom‘s Betting & Gaming Council is putting its money on Prime Minister Liz Truss and her economic-growth plans, which it hopes will redound to the industry’s benefit … The manufacturing sector continues to rebound from Covid-19, as 85,200 game sales are projected for next year. That would be an 11% increase over 2022. Operators’ appetite appears stronger for replacements than new games, though … Make mine Staten Island? Borough President Vito Fossella wants one of the three New York City megaresorts and proposed the site of the defunct New York wheel as ground zero. Fossella hasn’t gone off the ferris wheel idea, though. The funniest line in the story describes Bally’s Corp. as a “gaming industry giant” … Churchill Downs has gobbled up Ellis Park Racing & Gaming. This opens the door for ‘historical horse racing’ slots, er, machines at the eponymous track in Owensboro, Kentucky. “Our team is already hard at work in both Henderson and Owensboro,” said Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen … Buffets, housekeeping and jobs are out. Higher safety protocols are in. Those were the takeaways from Covid-19 according to a group of casino bosses convening in Atlantic City last week … Tulalip Resort Casino and Quil Ceda Creek in Washington State opened a pair of sports books operated by DraftKings. “Eventually, we will get so that you will be able to do it on your phone and geo-fence the parking lot so you can do it outside the building,” said tribal Chairwoman Teri Gobin … SPACs are whack, or so thinks the stock market. Hence the demise of a deal to take European lottery company Allwyn Entertainment onto the U.S. market … Congratulations to the Las Vegas Raiders for getting out of the doghouse after lighting up the Denver Broncos, like the Raiders a team that is the victim of inflated expectations.

Quote of the Day: “The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself.”—author and LGBT icon Rita Mae Brown.

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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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