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Nutshell - News & Notes

There is no longer a for-sale sign in front of the MGM Grand Detroit Casino. A spokesman for MGM Mirage confirmed a report last month by the Detroit News which had written that no one had bid on the casino. At the same time, the recession is seen as slowly receding, so cash flow problems are less severe for the casino, which is one of three in the Motor City. MGM has been trying to sell both its Detroit casino and the Beau Rivage casino in Mississippi. • Beneficial Holdings, Inc., a casino investment and management holding company, has made an offer to acquire between 80 percent and 100 percent of the stock of Thunderbird Resorts, Inc. The offer, delivered to the Thunderbird board, would include $42 million in cash and 2 million shares in Beneficial Holdings. The cash portion is more than double the current trading price of Thunderbird, which operates casinos in Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Philippines, Peru and Poland. • The Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem in Pennsylvania has filed a petition with the state Gaming Control Board to add slot machines to the 3,000 games with which the casino opened in May. Under the law, Sands may add up to 2,000 machines, although the number it is adding is reportedly not that high. A portion of the slot floor that is currently blocked off will be opened up to allow for the expansion, which is expected to be complete by the end of November. • For the first time in 10 years that the city has had casinos, Detroit, Michigan’s three casinos, the MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown and MotorCity, may see drops in revenue. Their combined revenues through August show a drop of 2.5 percent, so only a dramatic change of fortunes in the last quarter would change the trend. Experts say the leveling off of revenue is not surprising. Many are surprised it didn’t happen sooner, given the region’s economic decline. Caesars Windsor, which although in Windsor, Canada, is considered by many to be part of the Detroit market, is also part of the downturn. Its revenues fell behind those of the three Detroit operations, despite an expansion that added a 5,000-seat theater and a new hotel tower. • Residents of West Virginia’s Jefferson County are expecting to vote a second time on December 5 on whether or not to add table games to Charles Town Races & Slots. However, county officials say the racino, which told the Jefferson County Commission in August of the plans for a second referendum (the first was voted down), have yet to file a formal request that the election be scheduled. Track officials, though, say they are still planning the vote, and have launched a website dedicated to promoting table games. • Governor John Lynch of New Hampshire has appointed a special commission to determine what effect various forms of gambling would have on the state’s “quality of life.” The Gaming Study Commission, made up of lawmakers from both chambers and both parties as well as former politicians and business owners, is studying the effects of legalized gambling around the country. Lynch has said he will not endorse legislation to authorize any form of casino gambling unless he is convinced it will not harm the state’s quality of life. • The Pittsburgh Sports and Exhibition Authority is pressing the new Rivers Casino to make the first $7.5 million payment in a pre-arranged plan to help fund construction of a new hockey arena for the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. The annual payment is part of a 30-year plan to fund the arena that was a condition of licensing agreed to by former owner Don Barden. Rivers wants assurances that the payment will be lowered if taxes are raised or if another casino is approved for Pittsburgh. The sports authority wants the first payment now, and is threatening to ask the legislature to withhold approval for table games if they are legalized, until the casino starts payments. • The Caribbean Casino and Gaming Corporation, owner of the soon-to-open Sosua Bay Grand Casino in the Dominican Republic, recently announced that it has paid down most of the debt incurred during the construction of the resort and plans to be debt-free by the casino’s opening October 24. • MGM Mirage recently announced that it plans to extend the early participation date for shareholders taking part in the exchange of existing notes for $500 million in new senior notes. The date was pushed from September 10 to September 24. • Let’s Make A Deal, a popular CBS television game show, is being redone, with host Wayne Brady launching the show’s revival at the Tropicana Las Vegas. The show debuts October 5 in the Tropicana’s pavilion, which used to house the “Titanic” and “Bodies” exhibits. • Rotate Black, Inc. has entered into an agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of Sage Gaming & Entertainment of Las Vegas, for $5 million in stock priced at $1 per share. Under the purchase agreement, Rotate Black also will replace Sage as the casino operator in two properties currently being contracted for by Sage. Shares of Rotate Black are to be released upon the successful completion of each of the casino management agreements to Rotate Black. Current combined revenue for the two operating properties is $20 million. • Casino Gaming, LLC and the Orleans in Las Vegas have introduced a new roulette betting option called “Colors.” The system gives players the option to bet that either red or black will hit on three consecutive spins of the wheel. If winning on the Colors option, the player is paid 8 to 1. The wager has a house edge of 4.34 percent, compared to the overall 5.26 percent house edge for all other roulette bets-making the new wager the most player-friendly on the board.

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