Slow days in Philly; Georgia pines for casinos, not sports betting

Since a picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words, we’ll let these photos do the talking.

O’Shea’s Casino at Harrah’s Philadelpha

Harrah’s Philadelphia slot floor. On a Thursday but still …
Philadelphia Live, the preceding Tuesday

“If you compare Philly Live and Harrah’s Chester, one might assume they share a management ‘non marketing’ team with each other,” writes our East Coast correspondent. As for Valley Forge Casino Resort

It’s hopping, albeit on a Saturday. It looks even more crowded than it is, due to the small size of the casino.

You know how last week we said that regulators erred when they carpet-bombed the Philadelphia area with five casinos? Well, we rest our case.

Over in Atlantic City, the Golden Nugget is showing some wear and tear:

We hope Tilman Fertitta doesn’t bring sights like this to the Las Vegas Strip. “The ‘out of order’ sign is plastic and glued to the wall, an indication of no repairs anytime soon.”
Maintenance, anyone?

At least we can report that business was booming that weekend at the Nugget, so maybe they can roll some of those winnings into capex reinvestment, eh?

On another positive note, we are informed that “Ocean Casino [is] looking good overall. The lobby bar at Ocean was moved to the center of an open space, so the new breakfast place is now where the lobby bar used to be. The big difference is that the Ocean place cooks everything fresh. Borgata tries to keep things in their ‘warming’ drawers. Golden Nugget’s stuff is in a refrigerator and has to be heated. Bally’s Dunkin Donuts place also make things fresh, but nothing we had turns out correctly (just remember you’re at Bally’s).”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp‘s reflex is to dive under the table when the subjects of casino gambling and sports betting are raised. Believed to be an opponent of both, Kemp says (somewhat disingenuously) that it’s all up to the voters. Well, first it’s up to the Lege. Let’s suppose the latter passes the requisite constitutional amendments with a veto-proof majority. Kemp would find himself on firm ground with the voters if the question is sports betting but bucking the tide vis-a-vis casinos. A poll by the School of Public & International Affairs Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia shows voters almost evenly divided on sports wagering, 45.5% to 42.5%, within the margin of error. Casinos, however, enjoy 60% support and 29% opposition. They need to get two-thirds support but it’s doable, as you see. The opposition to sports betting is a bit perverse when you consider that’s drummed up $439 million in neighboring Tennessee but there you have it.

Perhaps the qualms involved are like those expressed by Ron Greene, who said “It’s bad enough that we are paying college kids and now we are out there gambling on them when they are trying to get an education. I don’t think it’s right.” Still, there are others like Richard Rodriguez, who mused, “I don’t know if it benefits Georgia one way or another, it just benefits the people who like to do it. I haven’t bet on a game in years, mainly because it’s not available.” As for casinos, few if any of those Georgians interviewed by the Georgia Recorder would come out and say why they were so partial to them. One was more likely to find glum remarks like those of University of West Georgia professor Charles Hodges: “I saw what it did to the local economy along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, it sucked the life out of small businesses.” If properly implemented, hopefully not.

Jottings: Having bailed on Richmond, fickle Cordish Cos. is now putting its chips on nearby Petersburg. Even more eyebrow-raising is its proposal for a $2.3 billion metaresort in the small Spanish city of Torres de Alameda. The two bil would buy “several smaller casinos, hotels, shopping areas, meeting and convention space, restaurants and much more.” Sounds doable. But $4 billion in profit in the first five years? Seems like Cordish has been drinking its own bathwater … Pinnacle, not to be confused with former casino operator Pinnacle Entertainment, is promising a smooth transition to regulated i-gaming in Ontario on Wednesday. Halloween is the drop-dead date for gray-market operators to go legit in the province, with Canadian Gaming Association CEO Paul Burns saying, “Gray market operators have been given over a year to submit applications for registration and transition into the Ontario regulated market. We feel the transition period has been very generous but it is time for it to come to an end” … Kazuo Okada flew into Manila—and was promptly thrown in the clink. He’s out on bail now and vowing revenge. Same old Kazuo … New South Wales regulators lowered the boom on outlaw Star Entertainment, suspending its license. It also received a record-setting $63 million fine … Forget about that U.K. governmental white paper on gambling, often promised and just as often delayed. Prime Minister Liz Truss‘ sudden resignation has thrown the casino-reform measure into chaos …

Happy 70th birthday to the Sahara Las Vegas. It’s certainly seen more than its share of highlights over the decades and survived Sam Nazarian‘s attempt to ruin the place … Two spots in the Gaming Hall of Infamy should be reserved for troglodyte Connie Uhre and her knuckle-dragging son Nicholas Uhre, whom the Department of Justice is targeting for discrimination against Native Americans, barred from Rapid City‘s Cheers Sports Lounge & Casino. Ms. Uhre was actually stupid enough to go on Facebook and write that she could not “allow a Native American to enter our business including Cheers,” a flat-out violation of federal law … Grand Victoria in Elgin is the best-performing of Caesars Entertainment‘s Illinois casinos. It’s being rewarded with a $4 million revamp that includes an upgraded sports book and a World Series of Poker-branded poker room. In go eight more tables, out goes the buffet … Penn Entertainment was even more lavish with its new Barstool Sports-branded book at L’Auberge Baton Rouge, spending almost $7 million. “We feel strong about the Barstool brand,” said property Vice President Alex Rangel. “It really speaks to a younger demographic that is heavily interested in sports” … Oklahoma‘s Chickasaw Nation has been green-lit for online Class II gambling within the 1,230 square miles of its reservation. By sticking to Class II the Chickasaw stick it to Gov. Kevin Stitt (R), who can’t approve or deny it. Class III and/or sports betting, however, put the ball in the governor’s court.

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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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