Saturday, May 16, 2009

Atlantic City Casinos: It's Only a Flesh Wound

As if the times weren't already tough enough for the casinos in Atlantic City, Delaware Governor Jack Markell has signed his controversial sports betting bill into law, paving the way to sports betting and table games to make their way to Delaware's 3 racinos (one of which I pissed off with this cartoon).

Atlantic City’s casinos have been taking a beating, with gaming revenue down 15.7 percent for the first four months of 2009 and headed for a third straight year of declines.

It's estimated that table games in both Pennsylvania and Delaware would cut into Atlantic City’s $4.55 billion annual gaming revenue by about 5 percent, although he has also calculated a worst-case scenario of about 10 percent.

If Atlantic City wants to survive, it needs to get on the path following Las Vegas to a family destination. Atlantic City still offers something that no casino in the surrounding area can ever compete with - the beach.

Unless the Delaware racinos, protected by a state-run monopoly, get smart and build a casino at Rehoboth Beach.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Stacked Deck for Delaware Racinos

Delaware state senators Thurman Adams and Gary Simpson are unpaid directors and members of the Delaware State Fair executive board and hold non-dividend fair stock from Harrington Raceway & Casino, who alongside Dover Downs and Delaware Park have lobbied strongly against Markell's sports betting bill, saying that increasing the state's share of the gambling monopoly will cause them considerable financial stress.

As the News Journal recently pointed out, Harrington recently went through a $35 million expansion and renovation, hardly indicative of a business in stress.

Harrington has also entered into a long-term contract with its operator that guarantees an accelerating increase in annual payment while the racino moves to become its own operator. According to a News Journal editorial, the management firm will be getting paid to watch itself lose the Harrington contract.

Harrington's stockholder list reads like a who's who of Delaware politics. No wonder they always get what they want.

As an added bonus, here is Delaware Governor Jack Markell appearing on ESPN's E:60 show discussing the issue of sports betting. One thing I found interesting was the NCAA admitting that allowing Montana, which does have a sports lottery, to host NCAA post-season games and events was an “oversight” - and one they will correct. They of course are fighting to prevent any NCAA post-season games from occurring in Delaware due to the legalization of sports betting.