Archive for the ‘Land Casinos’ Category

Efforts Underway to Bring More Casinos to Michigan

Monday, March 5th, 2012

There is currently a battle brewing in Michigan.  With an already successful casino industry, and the potential for billions of dollars in annual profits, a number of competing efforts are underway to secure a piece of the pie.  At the moment, proposals exist that could bring as many as 22 new casinos to Michigan, a state that already has 25 casinos to speak of – 22 tribal casinos and three non-tribal.

The state’s three non-tribal casinos are located in the city of Detroit.  They have been wildly successful thus far, and investors seeking to expand Michigan’s casino industry have clearly taken notice.  Just last year, the three Detroit casinos took in revenues of approximately $1.4 billion – and in 2010, they contributed almost $100 million to help fund Michigan schools.  That last statistic is of particular importance.  While investors are attracted by the potential for obscene profits, the state officials whom ultimately hold the cards are motivated by tax revenue needed to fund everything from education, to healthcare, to prisons.  Michigan, after-all, was one of the states most affected by the recent recession brought on by the housing crisis of 2008.

One of the strongest arguments investors can make for bringing more casinos to the state is that casinos create jobs.  In 2011, Michigan’s 25 casinos combined to employ nearly 25,000 people according to estimates put forth by state officials.  Job creation and tax revenue are extremely potent arguments for proponents of casino expansion.  Recently, Massachusetts expanded its gambling laws to pave the way for three brand new casino resorts to be built in three different regions of the state.

Unlike Massachusetts, whose three new casinos will be the first ever permitted to operate in Mass., Michigan is by no means a newcomer to the casino industry.  In fact, Detroit’s casinos alone have caused their home city to be rated the fifth largest casino market by The American Gaming Association.  And despite this distinction, investors clearly feel that the motor city’s casino industry has room left to grow.

An organization called Michigan First has proposed to build an additional four non-tribal casinos in the Detroit area.  This group seemingly has the support of Mitch Irwin – Michigan’s one-time budget director who worked for Jennifer Granholm, the former governor.  When the Detroit Free Press approached Irwin to comment on Michigan First’s proposal, he remarked, “We’re not ready to announce anything publicly right now.”  He did, however, suggest that information could be released later this month that would shed more light on the organization’s plans.

Documents surfaced recently that reportedly demonstrate the massive gambling expansion that Michigan First is calling for.  In addition to four new casinos in or near Detroit, the group is targeting cities like Lansing, Cadillac and Grand Rapids for further casino development.  In order to achieve such a feat, Michigan First seeks to amend the state’s constitution in November.  An effort like this could cost as much as $50 million to pull off.

One of the greatest challenges facing Michigan First and the other organizations like them seeking to expand casino gambling in Michigan is that their interests are in direct conflict with those of the existing casinos in the state.  At the moment, tribal casinos and non-tribal casinos seem to be forging a partnership to strongly oppose efforts that would create significant competition for their casino businesses, including internet casinos.

With so much at stake, one can expect that both sides will spend large sums of money in an effort to win the support of state officials and voters alike.

Half Measures Not Enough in Maryland

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Maryland is considering expanding its rather conservative gambling policy in an effort to create jobs and drum up much needed state revenue. The last major effort by the state legislator on this front was in 2007. At that time a vote passed the General Assembly to allow Maryland voters to decide if they felt the state would benefit from 15,000 slot machines. In 2008 voters said yes, but four years later it seems that slot machines may not be enough.

To compete with neighboring states that offer more than just slots, voices in the Maryland state legislator are now clamoring for an expanded policy that would allow for table games. That would certainly make Maryland casinos more attractive to local and visiting gamblers, but it would also, possibly even more importantly, create jobs. Slot machines of course do not require dealers as table games do. A single employee can maintain a floor of slot machines, while on the other hand, a floor of table games, like blackjack and craps for instance, would require many more individuals to run properly.

More than just the inadequacy of a slots only gambling policy, Maryland has suffered from poor implementation. The vote in 2008 allowed for up to 15,000 slot machines at five casinos. To date, less than 3,000 slot machines are actually working in the state.

There are more casinos on the way, like the one opening later this year in Anne Arundel County. But the feeling that seems to rule the day now is that the state won’t be able to generate the income it needs without an expanded gambling policy that would allow for table games. Of course, if the Maryland state legislator is truly serious about initiating a more aggressive gambling policy in order to help pay the bills, then it will surely consider developing an online gambling program as well.

MGM Ups Casino Rewards Program

Friday, February 17th, 2012

metrogoldwynmayerOne thing that most everyone can agree on – it feels great to get something for free. Rewards programs have been based on this principal since their inception. The more you purchase from a certain company, the more you are rewarded with points towards a free purchase.

Anyone with a frequent flyer program membership knows exactly how this works. What most people don’t know, however, is what it feels like to be rewarded for their spending on a trip to the casino. That is because the average casino rewards programs have traditionally been for gambling only. And the only gamblers that were benefitting regularly were the high rollers. But MGM Resorts international is taking a new approach.

With their new and improved “M Life” website, MGM is offering customers the ability to make reservations at any of the thirteen MGM owned casino resorts and earn rewards for their loyalty along the way. All purchases will yield points for customers. This includes hotel accommodations, restaurants, live shows and any of the more extravagant offerings that can be found on the “M Life” website. Loyalty rewards are no longer reserved for only the high rollers at the tables. Now customers can feel the rewards of loyalty at nearly every step.

As reported by Oskar Garcia at Associated Press, MGM Resorts International has just inked a deal with Ameristar Casinos that will link their marketing efforts and expand member benefits.

“With our Ameristar alliance, our members can enjoy the high level of experience they have at MGM Resorts’ properties in more destinations across the U.S.,” said Jim Murren, Chief Executive Officer for MGM Resorts International.

“This also provides Ameristar’s Star Awards/Plateau Players Club members exclusive experiences and offers at our Las Vegas properties that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. This relationship is part of an aggressive expansion plan for M life.”

First New York City Casino by Genting Resorts World

Monday, February 6th, 2012

newyorkcitycasinoIf you’re an avid gambler, the Genting Group is probably a name you’ve heard. Heck, even if you’ve never even rolled the dice a day in your life, there’s a good chance you’ve still heard of Genting. That’s because Genting is the world’s largest destination resort operator, and has their fingers in a little bit of everything, including real estate, theme parks, cruises and power generation. Oh, and best of all: Resort Style Casinos.

Through it’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Resorts World, the Genting Group ( owns world class gaming resorts in Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and most recently, my home town of New York City. Aptly called Resorts World Casino New York City, this brand spanking new destination opened in 2011 at the famous Aqueduct Racetrack in Jamaica, New York. Not technically Manhattan per say, it’s still New York City (borough of Queens). In other words, you can quickly get to it from the subway or a cab. And if you’re one of the rare few New Yorkers who actually owns a car, you can drive there yourself!

Through a partnership with the New York Lottery and New York Gaming Association, Genting’s NYC casino is something of a marvel in that it’s the first casino (technically, it’s a racino) ever to go up in New York City. Perhaps we owe that to an ailing horse racing industry, yet the bottom line is that New Yorkers need not any longer take the Chinatown bus all the way to Connecticut, Atlantic City or Pennsylvania. Not only that, it’s a full-fledged casino with about 4,500 gaming machines (slots, keno, video poker) and over 200 electronic gaming tables (Baccarat, Craps, Roulette, etc.).

Genting Rewards Club Members can claim some great perks playing at RW’s New York Casino. On the heels of an amazing Chinese New Year Celebration, Genting is offering a fantastic lineup of free play slots tournaments throughout the month of February. Called the $50,000 Free Play Blizard, this weekly tournament (every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in February) awards free play earnings and a chance to win $50,000. Ten winners are chosen every drawing, and sixty winners are picked every day.

Additional free-play promotions this month take place on Sunday, February 19 (up to $110 in free money based on historical play), and to celebrate the Leap Year, new players can claim $9 Free on February 29th, and returning players can receive up to $129 in free money based on historical play. And for all the senior’s, RW New York Casino is offering the Senior Power Play, in which Rewards Club members age 55+ will earn 2x comp points on all wagers every Tuesday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Additionally, senior’s can redeem vouchers for a $5 lunch buffet between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., and $1 breakfast items for all the early birds between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Speaking of food, RW’s New York City Casino offers a staggering food and beverage court with 18 vendors ranging from an affordably-priced Wolfgang Puck to your traditional New York deli counter. There are also two restaurants, four VIP lounges, and for your nighttime entertainment fix – a large bar and theatre for hosting musical and comedy acts.

Genting has truly done a fantastic job with New York City’s first casino….err, racino. The New York Racing Association is predicting it will generate $30 million in racing purses, and the facility has already created more than 1,350 New York jobs.

Tropicana Casino to Expand Gambling

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

the-quarter-at-tropicanaAtlantic City’s Tropicana Casino is expanding its gambling operations in an attempt to bring in more business from those who don’t regularly frequent casinos. The casino is adding some gambling to Tropicana’s Quarter, with the hope of adding more games in the future.

The Quarter is owned by the Tropicana Casino but does not currently have any gambling. The large indoor mall is a trendy spot for locals, featuring bars, clubs, restaurants, shopping and an IMAX theater. The mall is popular with the young crowd and families, people that the casino wants to profit off of even if it’s having a hard time convincing them to enter a casino. By adding gambling machines to the popular nightlife spot, the Trop hopes to insert itself into the non-gambling nightlife scene.

New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement approved a temporary test of gambling at The Quarter. In the first phase, the Tropicana Casino will be allowed to add eleven slot machines to a section of the mall called the Fiesta Plaza. The Division of Gaming Enforcement is also deciding whether to approve electronic table games at The Quarter. Should the Tropicana get approval, they would add table games to the mall as well. Then the Tropicana would run those gambling machines at the mall and the regulators would take time to study and review the situation. Once the DGE has reviewed the gambling operations at The Quarter, the Tropicana plans to seek additional gambling expansion by adding more slots and electronic table games as well as live-dealer table games to The Quarter.

Peppermill Casino Resort Goes Green With Geothermal Heating and More

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

green casino peppermillI don’t care if you think global warming is real or not. As far as we’re concerned over here at Online Casino Suite, efforts to improve the environment and live more sustainable lives are only for the better. In other words, what’s it going to hurt to be less wasteful and use resources more efficiently? If you really want to answer that question and think you can point out why it is a bad thing to be less wasteful and more efficient, then by all means, let’s step outside like real men and take it to the comments section.

That’s all we’re going to say on that, ’cause the rest of this post is all about Reno’s Peppermill Casino is going green. Recently becoming the first and only property in the United States (and a casino resort at that) to receive 100% of it’s heating via geothermal energy produced on-site, Peppermill Casino certainly deserves some free press for their environmental efforts. Not only that, Peppermill has retrofitted all of their resort lighting with energy saving LED lights, transitioned their HR department to become virtually paperless, implemented a greywater recycling system, purchased a cadre of electric powered maintenance vehicles and replaced water-thirsty grass on the resort grounds with artificial turf in their quest to save resources and go green.

Watch the video below to see just how huge this project is, not to mention how beautiful the Peppermill Casino Resort is:

For anyone unfamiliar with geothermal heating, it refers to the natural heat energy that can be found in pockets, called “geothermal systems”, that are found shallow enough in the Earth’s core to naturally bring hot water and steam to the earth’s surface, as is the case with the famous Yellowstone Forest geysers. For those geothermal systems that have not broken through to the surface, they can be reached by drilling. Once tapped, the hot steam and water is pumped under high pressure to the surface, and then used to power turbines for generating electricity.

All things said, the only emissions from geothermal energy production in the atmosphere is steam. Only one-sixth the amount of carbon dioxide produced by relatively clean natural gas power plants is produced by geothermal fields, while virtually no nitrous oxide or sulfur bearing gases are emitted. Furthermore, due to the constant heat production from the earth’s core, geothermal energy has availability of 90% or higher, compared to 75% for coal plants.

While the building of geothermal systems can be expensive (Peppermill spent nearly $10 million), the long-term savings are phenomenal – especially in colder locations. Considering that Peppermill is framed by the Sierra Mountains and operates a ski resort, it’s a given their monthly heating bill dwarfs other commercial resorts and casinos. According to the EPA, commercial buildings can save up to 70% in heating costs, 50% in cooling costs, require a fraction of the maintenance of other heating systems, are highly reliable and built to last for decades.

Obviously, the owners of Peppermill Casino have a lot of faith in geothermal energy, and in true Nevada form, were willing to put a huge gamble on it. The fact that the drill hole was deeper than average (over 4,400 feet) and that there wasn’t even a guarantee the drilling would produce a usable geothermal resource, goes to show that the odds are always in favor of the casino!

Committee Member Calls Online Gambling “a Jungle”

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

european_unionThe member of an important European Union commission is calling for reforms to the online gambling industry. Stefano Mallia, a member of the European Economic and Social Committee, said that the status quo cannot be maintained because it is too confusing and complicated and doesn’t do enough to protect consumers. To sum up the current situation, Mallia said that the online gambling industry in Europe is “a jungle.”

With the EESC, Mallia published a Green Paper giving recommendations on how to best serve the online casino industry while protecting consumers. At the heart of the problem, according to Mallia, is a conflict between the casino operators and the EU nations. The casino operators want a totally liberalized industry, where they can freely operate in any EU nation by adhering to only one set of regulations. Most EU nations, though, want control over the industry at a national level. To complicate things, some nations, such as the UK and Malta, believe that the sector should create its own European regulatory structure.

“At the moment most member states want to maintain national control of their individual markets. On the other hand, the online gambling operators want a total liberalization of the market whereby if, for example, they have a Maltese license they are able to operate anywhere in the EU without needing any other additional lciense,” Mallia said. “The result is that we have considerable confusion in the market which is also allowing the black market to flourish.”

As a possible solution to that problem, Mallia suggests drafting EU legislation that creates a minimum level of consumer protection. All EU member states would have to adhere to at least that minimum level of regulation. Any nations that want to have higher standards than that would have that option. After the EESC debates the issue, the drafted opinion will be sent to the European Commission.

PA County to Vote on Casino Proceeds

Friday, September 9th, 2011

pennsylvaniaThere is an interesting online gambling program on the way in Pennsylvania. While it is not anything allowing residents to gamble at a casino online, it is still an innovative way to tackle the question of how a casino will benefit the community.

Residents of Erie County will soon have the opportunity to vote online on how revenue from Presque Isle Downs & Casino is spent. On Thursday, the board of directors of the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority approved a program that they are calling “UChoose.” It is a grant program modeled after the popular Pepsi Refresh Everything grant program.

With the UChoose grant program, Erie County residents will have a say in how $30,000 in revenue from the casino is spent. Nonprofit groups and local organizations will be able to apply for the program starting October 10. The Gaming Revenue Authority will give out grants of $5,000; $10,000 and $15,000. On the website, residents will be able to vote on which groups receive the grants. It is a clever way to divvy up part of the gaming revenue that the county gets from the casino. The Gaming Revenue Authority receives approximately $12 million per year in gambling revenues from Presque Isle Downs & Casino.

In a statement the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority said that any “charitable, community, or educational project benefiting the people of Erie County” would be eligible for the grants. The projects funded by the grants should be completed within one year after receiving the grant money.

Activist Criticizes Gay Casino Bar

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

cleve_jonesOn May 13 of this year, the controversial Resorts Casino in Atlantic City opened Prohibition, the first gay casino nightclub. It was the first venue in an Atlantic City casino to focus on the LGBT culture and was seen by some as a good way of reaching out to a demographic that isn’t necessary big into casino gambling.

That wasn’t enough to satisfy one casino critic, though. Cleve Jones, a longtime gay rights activist, blasted the casino in a press release where the accused the company of bigotry and trying to make money off of gay people without actually respecting them.

In the press release, Jones said that being an ally to the LGBT community means more than flying a rainbow flag and “trying to cash in on an untapped source of income. Being an ally means supporting our community in fights that are important to us, like fighting for marriage equality, ending sexism, and ensuring workers are paid fairly.”

The latter two examples, about sexism and fair wages, don’t seem to have anything to do with LGBT culture, but Jones pressed on with his attack on Resorts Casino. His best point came when he criticized the casino for donating “$100,000 over the past 6 years to New York politicians who oppose gay rights legislation.” That is a fair criticism, though Resorts may have supported those politicians for any number of reasons having nothing to do with gay rights.

In the rest of the letter, Jones criticizes the casino for what he deems sexism and unfair treatment of workers. He brought up the controversial layoffs of cocktail waitresses who didn’t look good enough in their skimpy new uniforms, the “Chick-Tac-Toe” game where players can see if they are “smarter than a bimbo” and the wage cuts on employees.

Resorts Casino almost closed in December but was bought by new management, who made drastic changes in an attempt to rescue the casino. Those changes included giving the casino a sexy new look, adding the gay nightclub, cutting wages and benefits, bringing in sexy stage shows and more. Cleve Jones is a gay activist best known for co-founding the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and creating the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Irene Couldn’t Shut Down Foxwoods Casino

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

connecticut-location-mapSince its opening in 1992, Foxwoods Casino has never closed. The rumor is that it was originally planned to close at 2:00 a.m., but on its opening day it was so crowded with gamblers who didn’t want to leave that management decided to make it a 24-hour casino. While that may not be true, it is a fact that the casino has never been shut down by weather, renovation, lack of business or any other problem. That includes Hurricane Irene.

When Irene, then a tropical storm, came through the U.S. northeast, there were mandatory evacuations of parts of New York and New Jersey. All eleven Atlantic City casinos closed for only the third time in history. However, the popular Connecticut tribal casino remained open. Even the storm couldn’t force Foxwoods Casino to breaks its streak.

Business and residents all around Foxwoods lost power in the storm, but Foxwoods used backup generators to keep the electricity running. Some parts of the casino, such as some restaurants, were closed, but a skeleton crew of employees served customers as they continued to play slots and table games during the storm. Unfortunately, the Liquid Sundays outdoor pool party was canceled, so I guess even Foxwoods couldn’t find a way to keep that open.

On Monday, the additional power sources went online and Foxwoods was able to resume normal operations. With fewer customers, they lost money over the weekend, but not as much as the casinos that had to close due to the storm. Even with a small customer base of those who didn’t evacuate and a skeleton crew of employees, Foxwoods says that they continued to offer “5-star service to the guests that were here.”