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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday Night News and Notes

- Slots at Gulfstream continue to falter; the win per machine per day for May is down to a mere $70, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinal.

In comparison, the April average for slots along the East Coast was $262 a day, according to Joe Weinert, editor of Gaming Industry Observer, an industry newsletter that puts out a monthly report on East Coast slots.

"[Gulfstream's number] is really anemic," Weinert said. "I didn't really think it was possible for a casino in such an attractive area like Broward County …When you get down to $100 a day per machine, you are profitably challenged." [Sun-Sentinal]
Gulfstream is the most extreme case of a general failure of the Broward County racinos to meet their projections. Pompano Park was projected to generate $300 per machine, but is only doing $202. The old Hollywood dog track is the top performer on the year, but is down 35% from February, to $173 in May. The state had projected an overall average of $219.

As in New York, the racino operators are complaining that they're taxed too much, and therefore cannot compete with Indian tribes, in this case the Seminoles, who have two casinos in the area that pay no taxes to the state. While the Seminoles do not make their financial records publicly available, analysts say they think the tribe's machines each could be generating as much as $500 per day.
Dan Adkins, Mardi Gras' [Hollywood] chief gaming executive, said the pari-mutuels are struggling to establish themselves as the Seminoles have been "marketing us to death."

"Every time I run a promotion, the Seminoles run three," he said. "If I run two television commercials, they run 20. If I buy a billboard, they buy six."
Several slots players the South Florida Sun-Sentinel interviewed at the Gulfstream Park casino's November opening said they are now back gambling at the Hard Rock.

"The Hard Rock has a lot more to offer — the shopping area, all those restaurants," said Doris Keeps, 68, of Davie. "It's similar to Vegas."
Another depressing article appeared in the Baltimore Sun, regarding the failure of slots in Delaware and other mid-Atlantic states to do anything to attract fans for racing.
There's no correlation," said George Sidiroplois, the West Virginia Racing Commission chairman. "It's inverse, in fact."

Figures from Delaware show that live betting on thoroughbred horse racing in the state has dropped by 40 percent since slots were legalized in 1996. Six months after slots came online at Philadelphia Park in Pennsylvania, betting is down by 20 percent. West Virginia's wagering handles increased sharply a few years ago when the state's tracks began broadcasting their races nationally, but betting has leveled off and begun to decline. [Baltimore Sun]
Slots were never really intended, in most cases anyway, to draw people to the races; all of the racinos I've been to are actually constructed to discourage it, which I suppose is pretty typical. The idea was that bigger purses would attract better horses, which would create bigger fields and more competitive racing, thus attracting more simulcast action. But that's not going well either.
In Delaware, simulcasting boosted betting revenue in the '90s, but it has declined at roughly the same pace as live wagering over the past five years. Since 2002, all horse betting has dropped by 20 percent in Delaware.

Since slots came to Philadelphia Park, simulcast betting also dropped, from $29 million in the first four months of 2006 to $25 million in the same period this year.
Maybe there just so many of those good horses and simulcast dollars to go around.

And some controversy of a different kind at the Saratoga Gaming and Raceway racino, where Vapor, the highly publicized new night club, recently opened. The Albany Times-Union's Steve Barnes, in a review, thought the club itself was really cool.
The staff is hot, the drinks are smart and interesting, and the prices aren't outrageous. If Vapor were in downtown Albany, it would be a club killer -- every other high-end place would close for lack of business because all their former patrons would switch to Vapor exclusively. In design, decor, food and drink, it's the best nightclub we've yet seen locally. [Albany Times-Union]
But Barnes was not particularly impressed by the patrons.
At Vapor last weekend, the crowd detracted from the club. Many looked like exactly what they were: racino folks checking out a nightclub. Perhaps a third of the patrons appeared to have made an effort to dress classily for a night out.

"It looks like the people at a bad wedding," said one of my companions as he eyed the dance floor.

Surveying the outfits, a second said, "Every time I look around, another part of me dies."
The best-dressed and best-dancing guy in the place last Friday looked like Daddy Warbucks or the Spider-Man villain called Kingpin: 65-ish, bald, bulky, chunky metal specs, black suit and tie, shiny silver-striped shirt with contrasting white collar, two-tone shoes. Otherwise, as one of my companions said, "All the guys have gold necklaces with medallions, and all the women look like elementary-school teachers."
Another Times-Union writer, Kristi Gustafson, likened the crowd to an "inbred wedding reception." This brought not only some angry letters from readers, but an emotional response from the racino's management:
This month, we opened Vapor in part for our existing customers, but also for new and future customers. Our customers come from a wide range of social and economic backgrounds. Our customers are doctors, lawyers, bus drivers, public servants and, yes, school teachers. They are friends, neighbors and family to all of us. They are loyal, good people and they are the sole reason behind all of the economic benefit being derived for the state, city and county from Saratoga Gaming and Raceway.
If, as he says, Mr. Barnes wanted to make a statement about how people dress and present themselves in general, he should do so in a way that does not demean or insult specific individuals. Instead, his statements detracted from the review of the facility and turned into a cruel and unnecessary tirade against the good people of the Capital Region. Our current and future customers deserve more, and we intend to continue to strive to provide them with more, with or without the support of Mr. Barnes and Ms. Gustafson.
However, the racino also pointed out that there is now a dress code in place after an introductory period without one. As much as I'd love to check the place out this summer, that's a price I may not be willing to pay.

1 Comment:

Michael said...

I remember looking at data provided by the state when Equidaily reported this a few months ago and the reason that there had been a drop in $ per machine from Dec to April (I think this was in April) was because they opened up 3x as many machines, so while the per-machine revunue was down, the total dollars were up b/c there were more machines.

I wonder if this is still the case?