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  • Baccarat Saves Casinos on the Strip

    Posted on January 18, 2010 by Jordan

    A game of Baccarat is mainly found in the high-limit rooms of the Strip casinos that cater to the wealthiest gamblers. This exclusive class of Baccarat customers deserve some credit for the Strip’s first increase in reported gambling revenue since 2007. The high rollers who play the game of Baccarat accounted for nearly 20 percent of the Strip’s gambling revenue in November, wagered a whopping $690.8 million at Strip resorts, about 14 percent of all the money bet in those casinos. While Strip casinos made less money on most of their games last year, baccarat was an exception, and its momentum has been building.

    On the Strip, gaming revenues were up for the first time in almost two years. Strip casinos collected $473.8 million, an 8.3 percent increase compared with the figures from November 2008. After 19 straight months of declines, the casinos on the Strip finally registered an increase in win from the 21 games in November. The increase was mainly because of a 136.2 percent jump in gross win at the 191 baccarat games, which is the seventh-straight month of an increase in this category. It’s confirmed, Baccarat is the new cash cow for Strip casinos with $92.7 million in winnings. Other games posting winnings was Roulette with increased winnings up 12.3 percent and sports parlay cards, which rose 79.7 percent as the pro and college football season was in full swing. The casino games that are on the decline are craps tables, which fell 32.4 percent and slot win fell by 3.7 percent for the 17th consecutive month.

    Tens of thousands of people gamble at slots and Blackjack tables in Las Vegas every year, but Baccarat players number in the mere hundreds. Table game revenue surpassed Slot machines as "smart" players revolted against the one armed bandits in favor of lower house percentage games such as Blackjack, Craps or Baccarat. A few years ago, Blackjack was the leader of table gambling profits until some casinos decided to pay 6:5 on Blackjacks instead of 3:2. Many Blackjack games now hit on soft 17 and decks are increased to eight to lower the chances of receiving Blackjacks. The percentage won from Blackjack players is lower because some casinos wrongly assumed that the higher house percentage would reflect in higher profits. Baccarat offers some of the lowest odds at the plush casinos on the Strip with the Banker bet only at a 1.06% disadvantage to the house.

    Unfortunately, baccarat players aren’t a big enough market segment to rescue the Strip from the downturn, but casino operators expect they will be even bigger profits to come. Casino companies are also working with tourism officials to boost the number of mainland Chinese who travel to Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) plans to get more direct flights to Las Vegas aiming for more international success. This is because International visitors tend to plan their trip in advance, stay longer, and spend much more money as a domestic visitor.

    This post was posted in Vegas News

  • Las Vegas Monorail Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

    Posted on January 17, 2010 by Jordan

    The Las Vegas Monorail Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but will continue to operate until further notice. The current economic downturn has increased the financial strain on the Monorail, like it has for almost every other company in Las Vegas that relies on tourism. The 3.9-mile stretch runs on an elevated track linking casinos and the Las Vegas Convention Center east of the Strip and is the only privately owned public transportation system in the United States. Despite a 30 percent decline in convention traffic to Las Vegas, the monorail carried 6,005,024 passengers in 2009, with revenues of $26,974,513 for the year. These numbers are down from a peak passenger count of 7,917,613 in 2007, when the system had revenue of $30,252,305.

    With its current numbers the Las Vegas Monorail can generate sufficient revenue to pay its operating expenses including a portion of its finance costs. This will make it possible to restructure the company’s debt through the Chapter 11 process. In documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Wednesday, the monorail listed its debts as being between $500 million and $1 billion owed to between 200 and 999 creditors. The documents indicate the company has assets estimated to be worth between $10 million and $50 million. The Las Vegas Monorail project was built by Bombardier Transportation upon an existing free monorail that ran between the MGM Grand and Bally's, connecting a portion of the Strip that tourists usually had to travel on foot.

    The Las Vegas Monorail opened to the public in July, 2004 but problems with failing parts led to the closing of the monorail for nearly five months. A number of repairs were made to the monorail cars during this shutdown and it reopened in December, 2004. Since opening, the line has carried more than 40 million riders and during the recent Consumer Electronics Show, the line carried nearly 135,000 people in four days.

    The Monorail could have worked, but when they built the structure they ran it along the back of one side of the strip behind all of the action. Unfortunately, an expensive option is to build more track that goes to a variety of areas making it travel to places that locals want to go. If the monorail was built in front of the casinos then it might have been more of a success, but the casino owners at the time of construction did not want it, because it would block the view of the front and their mega resorts.

    Also to blame is the Monorail failing to extend to the McCarran International Airport. This could be true, but even if the monorail went out to the airport, it would require visitors to haul their entire luggage with them just to be dropped at the rear of a hotel and then have to walk even longer to just check in. The walks from the monorail stations to the casinos are too long, the fares are too high, and it did not connect to downtown. With these reasons and more many people would rather take a taxi because it is much easier and delivers you to the front of the hotel.

    This post was posted in Vegas News

  • Harrah’s Close to 7th Property on the Strip with Planet Hollywood

    Posted on January 16, 2010 by Jordan

    Harrah’s Entertainment is taking over management of hotel operations at the Planet Hollywood casino-resort in Las Vegas as it negotiates with lenders to buy the property. Harrah’s will start managing the hotel tonight at midnight after purchasing a portion of Planet Hollywood's $870 million debt. Up until now, Harrah's has accumulated more than $19 billion in debt after a 2008 leveraged buyout, a debt burden exacerbated by the recession.

    Planet Hollywood has 2,500 rooms and manages another 1,200 units, including vacation homes and regular hotel rooms, in an expansion tower that opened this month. There is no deal yet for Harrah’s to take ownership of the property, but the gambling powerhouse applied with Nevada gambling regulators for a license to run it.

    Harrah’s has been on the lookout to buy casinos that may be eager to sell cheap in the downturn. The complete takeover of the Planet Hollywood property would make sense for Harrah's, because the resort would provide more presence on the southern end of the Strip. The company already owns six major casinos, including Paris, Bally's, Flamingo, Imperial Palace, Harrah's and Caesars Palace.

    An excerpt of a memo to employees from Planet Hollywood owner Robert Earl: Harrah’s is pleased to take on the management of the Planet Hollywood hotel for the current owners and excited by the opportunity to work with such a terrific team of employees. I will continue in my role and while we transition to Harrah’s management of the hotel, it will continue to be business as usual for all of us. As part of the takeover, Marilyn Winn, Las Vegas regional president overseeing Paris and Bally's, will add Planet Hollywood to her list of responsibilities. Steve Opdyke, vice president of hotel operations for Paris and Bally's, will oversee Planet Hollywood hotel operations. Shawn Ritchie, vice president of food and beverage, will oversee the resort's buffet, room service, beverage and banquets and David Hoenemeyer, general manager of Paris and Bally's, also will be involved in food and beverage operations at the neighboring resort.

    This post was posted in Vegas News

  • 2010 World Series of Poker Schedule Released

    Posted on January 15, 2010 by Jordan

    The much anticipated 41st Annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) schedule has been released and online registration is now open. Harrah's 2010 schedule for the WSOP announced fifty-seven bracelets will be awarded at next year's series including one for the brand-new $50,000 buy-in "Player's Championship". This event will rotate between eight different poker variants and replaces the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event on the schedule.

    For 51 days, the WSOP will have many thrilling events, in addition to the H.O.R.S.E. variants, the Player's Championship will feature pot-limit Omaha, no-limit hold'em and 2-7 triple draw lowball. The final table of this event will be played entirely using no-limit hold'em rules.  The Player's Championship will mark the start of the series on May 28th. Also new to this year's schedule are six $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold'em events. Harrah's likely added these events after seeing the popularity of last year's "Stimulus Special" which drew over 6,000 participants. Another interesting addition to the schedule is a $25,000 buy-in six-handed no-limit hold'em event that will start on June 30th.

    The Main Event will feature four starting days the first of which will be held on Monday, July 5th. On July 17th, Main event participants will play down to a field of nine and return on November 6th to complete the tournament. Last year's winner Joseph Cada won $8,546,435 for finishing first and not a bad prize to the second place winner Darvin Moon who took home $5,182,601.

    Looking to brush up on your poker tournament skills, this weekend January 16-17 Poker Academy hosted by poker pro, bracelet winner, and upcoming Huntington Press author Annie Duke.  For those who are interested there are just a few spots open at the WSOP Tournament-Poker Academy at Caesars Palace. The price is $1,899 and the two-day in-depth event covers all aspects of the game of poker needed to hone your skills and make money in more tournaments. The easiest way to practice your poker skills is online at PokerStars, find any type of tournament at the biggest and most trusted poker site in the world.

    This post was posted in Vegas News

  • Nevada Leads Nation with Highest Foreclosure Rate in 2009

    Posted on January 14, 2010 by Jordan

    Although last year saw a small increase in home sales, Nevada still led the nation in foreclosures in 2009 followed by Arizona second and Florida third. More than 10 percent of Nevada’s homes received at least one foreclosure filing in 2009, keeping the state No. 1 ranked in the nation for the third consecutive year. In 2009 nationwide, the U.S. reported 2,824,674 properties default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions, which is a 21 percent increase in total properties from 2008 and a 120 percent increase in total properties from 2007.

    The state of Nevada had more than 112,000 foreclosure filings in 2009, a 44 percent increase over 2008 and a 226 percent gain over 2007. The foreclosure crisis has generated interest from homebuyers in southern Nevada, with bank-owned homes accounting for more than 60 percent of existing home sales. The Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported 46,879 sales in 2009. That number is the second-highest on record, trailing only the 71,963 homes sold during the record year of 2004.

    In the past year, Nevada’s population shrank as the recession forced families to make a living in other states. This finding was from the Nevada State Demographer’s Office, which released its preliminary 2009 population estimates saying Nevada lost an estimated 27,677 persons, or 1 percent of its population, since July 2008.

    There is a bit of mixed feelings on where the trend is headed for Nevada given the job losses in construction and gaming. In the last year we saw the completion of several major construction projects, and if there is no work, then people in construction are going to leave Nevada to find work elsewhere. At the same time, gaming numbers are down overall for Nevada, and despite a recent increase, Las Vegas casinos have been trying to minimize their staff to maximize their profits. The good news is that more lenders have been willing to modify loans and allow homeowners to sell homes for less than is owed on the mortgage.

    This post was posted in Vegas News

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