After a half-decade of staring at empty hotel rooms, unoccupied slot machines and closed-off table games, is the casino industry finally seeing a glimmer of light at the end of a long tunnel?
The American Gaming Association reports that in 2011 the industry continued its laborious climb out a hole that was dug when the economy sucker-punched us all in 2008. Job growth in the commercial casino industry did not decline, and revenues actually showed a modest 3 percent gain.
Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., president of the AGA, said, “While it may be slow, the recovery of the national commercial casino industry is well under way. The state of the industry is good; the prospects for its future are solid.”
The largest growth came in areas where new casinos were built or were in their first full year of operation – Kansas, Delaware and New York (Resorts). Atlantic City, facing unrelenting pressure from Pennsylvania, continued to be an anchor on the overall bottom line, with Boardwalk and marina casinos reporting a 7 percent decline.
Fahrenkopf said he is hopeful that the new mega-resort Revel will perk up the AC numbers, but in its first complete month of operation the property placed only 8th out of 12 properties.
One uncomfortable static from the report – casino industry workers saw their overall pay decline by 3 percent in 2011.Trump flip-flops on New York casino development
On the off chance that you still place any credence in what Donald Trump has to say these days, the former Republican presidential candidate says he is no longer concerned that the development of up to seven non-tribal hotel-casinos in New York State would be a threat to Atlantic City.
OK, but this contrasts 180 degrees from what Trump was saying about 15 years ago, when he was strutting around AC with ownership of three properties. After taking pennies on the buck for them when the economy tanked, Trump says AC would not suffer if N.Y. goes ahead with significant development of hotel-casinos, one of more of which could be Trump-brand driven.
California tribe, bwin.party reach agreement
At least one California First Nations tribe is starting to smell the online coffee. While other tribes have shown their hostility to the legalization of Internet play, the United Auburn Indian Community has partnered with gambling software giant bwin.party to provide poker when the state gets its act together.
It will be eligible to obtain an online poker license because UAIC operates a casino (just north of Sacramento). Bwin.party has had deals in place with MGM and Boyd Gaming, and will be in a prime position to snag one of the country’s first licenses as soon as details are completed with Nevada regulators.No! No! No! I meant to press B5, not D5!!!
Has a Coke or candy machine ever swallowed your money and not delivered the goods? Bear that in mind if you happen to be in the revamped Golden Nugget in Atlantic City. Customers there can now buy gold or silver coins and trinkets dispensed from a vending machine, provided they have enough cash on hand.
The machine is linked to a computer which continually updates the prices based on the gold and silver markets, with the cheapest item currently running about $40 and the most expensive about 2k (for a one-ounce gold eagle coin).
The GN says the machine will soon be programmed to accept credit cards. Love to see the look on the first customer whose money is eaten when the handle jams, although it’s a lock that cameras are rolling 24/7/365 to protect purchasers.Betfair closes deal on German license
London-based Betfair is celebrating these days after it obtained one of the first licenses to do business in the German state of Schleswig Holstein. Betfair can now offer sports betting to all adult residents of Germany, with casino games and poker soon to follow.
Industry analysts say that Betfair’s license gives it a higher profile that will only help when the United States market opens up over the next few years. Stock in Betfair, which will pay 20 percent tax on all its earnings, rose sharply with the announcement.
In neighboring Belgium, however, the news was darker as the country ordered Internet service providers to pull the plug on Betfair and several other big-name operators (William Hill and bwin among them) which were offering online poker. The government says it wants to clear the decks for the time when it can issue its own gaming licenses. Thankfully, they didn’t set themselves on fire
By now you may have heard of those wild and crazy South Korean monks, who were caught on camera drinking, smoking, gambling and generic carousing at a luxury hotel. The good-timers were there for a memorial service, but they weren’t so broken up that they couldn’t lay down some serious cash during a 13-hour poker marathon.
No one knows for sure, but there are reports that $900,000 changed hands, which immediately makes it clear that a monk’s salary is somewhat north of minimum wage. Anyway, there were resignations and apologies all around, and the event cast a pall over the upcoming celebration of the anniversary of the birth of Buddha. For the record, neither the GSA or the Secret Service were involved. Here’s a link to the video