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Quick-takes: The month's trends in a glance - September 2004

30 September 2004

Funny how news spins depending on the political party or other bias of the spinner, the person that is interpreting the news for you. Still, there are times that even without help the news just spins itself. Take the price of oil and its impact on the economy. Global uncertainly pushed the price of oil above $50 a barrel. The first day sent stock prices down; a day later the same news sent stock prices up. Unfortunately for drivers or businesses depending on drivers, the prices at the pump are much slower to react and are still going up. However, the reason is unclear: is it the cost of oil, the season, interest rates or consumer confidence?

The blue-chip Dow Jones average closed below 10,000 for the first time in about six weeks on Monday as a spike in oil prices to nearly $50 a barrel renewed concerns about corporate profits… Mark McSherry, Reuters, 9-27-04

Stocks rebounded Tuesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average rising solidly above 10,000 as investors, less anxious about volatile energy prices, focused instead on good corporate news. Meg Richards, Associated Press, 9-28-04

The U.S. average pump price for gasoline is a record $1.81 a gallon so far this year, according to the U.S. Energy Department. That's up from $1.56 a gallon last year and $1.34 in 2002. Victor Epstein, Bloomberg News, 9-23-04

Whatever the spin, the name of the tune is some things are up and some things are down. The market is up. The market is down. Consumer confidence and job creation are down.

US consumer confidence worsened last month to its weakest level since May as gloom over the employment outlook increased …confidence slipped to 96.8 from 98.7…Consumers saying jobs are "plentiful" fell to 16.8 per cent from 18.4 per cent, while the numbers claiming jobs were "hard to get" rose to 28.3 per cent from 26 per cent last month. Jennifer Hughes, Financial Times, 9-28-04

…144,000 Jobs Created in August…dollar rose after a government report showed U.S. employers stepped up hiring in August …Today's figures follow two months of job creation that were short of forecasts, eroding demand for the dollar. Bloomberg, 9-3-04

The price of oil, interest levels, and the cost of a cup are up.

Crude oil prices surged past the $50-per-barrel milestone in overnight trading in response to the triple threat of turmoil in the oil-rich countries of Nigeria and Iraq and a decline in production in the hurricane-battered Gulf of Mexico. Fred Barbash, Washington Post, 9-28-04

The Fed raised its target rate to 1.75 percent two days ago, which may again cause the yield curve to make a negative contribution to September's leading economic indicator index. Victor Epstein, Bloomberg News, 9-23-04

You'll soon be forking over an extra 11 cents for a gentrified java.
Starbucks (SBUX) says it will raise the average price of its beverages by 11 cents at 4,500 stores in North America Oct. 6 because of increases in the cost of coffee and sugar. Associated Press, 9-27-03

Home sales and personal income are up.

New home sales rebounded in August, posting their biggest one-month gain since late 2000 as low mortgage rates lured buyers into the market…sales jumped 9.4% in August from July, hitting a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.184 million homes. Sue Kirchhoff, USA Today, 9-27-04

U.S. personal incomes rose 1.5 percent in the second quarter of 2004, the fastest pace of growth in more than three years, as income gains sped up in 33 states, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday. All 50 U.S. states reported increases in personal income, and real earnings for all eight U.S. regions climbed above the level set in the first quarter of 2001, the previous peak in the national business cycle, the government reported. Kristin Roberts, Reuters, 9-28-04

And unemployment is down, but that is good, right? It all depends on your point of view, stay tuned to the presidential debates for the latest spin on all the economic numbers.

The unemployment rate in the United States fell to a 34-month low in August as the economy added 144,000 new jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday. Floyd Norris, International Herald Tribune, 9-4-04

The stocks are down, gaming stocks that is. Hurricane Ivan introduced another spin, closed casinos and lowed quarterly incomes in all the states in the hurricane's path and all the states that rely on customers who live in the hurricane's path.

Shares of casino operators moved lower Wednesday as Wall Street reacted to Hurricane Ivan, the latest storm of the season, poised to hit the Southeastern United States within the next 24 hours. Casinos along the Gulf Coast -- from riverboats floating on the Mississippi River to gambling halls in downtown New Orleans -- could suffer losses from both damage and lost revenue. Hurricane Ivan continues to churn toward land, triggering massive evacuations. Associated Press, Yahoo! Business, 9-15-04

Shares of Multimedia Games Inc. on Thursday fell sharply after an analyst at Prudential Equity Group lowered his fourth-quarter earnings forecast, citing construction delays and hurricane-related effects. Analyst William Lerner…said Hurricane Ivan could hurt Multimedia, which has 1,800 of its highest-earning units in Alabama. Reuters, 9-15-04

With powerful Hurricane Ivan threatening the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the state Gaming Commission ordered the 12 coast casinos to close to patrons at noon Tuesday. Associated Press, 9-14-04

Harrah's New Orleans Casino will close at 6 p.m. Central Daylight Time this evening due to the approach of Hurricane Ivan, Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. announced. PRNewswire-FirstCall, Yahoo! Finance, 9-14-04

Penn National Gaming, Inc. announced that it will close its Casino Rouge property in Baton Rouge… the Company reported that in preparation for Hurricane Ivan, it closed the Casino Magic - Bay St. Louis…Boomtown Biloxi casino. Business Wire, Yahoo! Finance, 9-14-04

Hundreds of people evacuated their homes yesterday in parts of West Virginia and Ohio as rivers and small streams were swollen beyond their banks by the torrential rain dumped by remnants of Hurricane Ivan. …The Ohio River crested yesterday at Wheeling …submerging the city's riverfront park…and Wheeling Island Racetrack and Gaming.
Lawrence Messina, Associated Press, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9-20-04

Ivan did less damage than it might have, a few trees and a little wind damage. Within a couple of days most casinos were open and back in business. Not the billions of dollars of damage that Florida suffered. The gaming industry in the south dodged another bullet.

Casinos on the U.S. Gulf Coast sustained only minor damage from Hurricane Ivan, … spokeswoman said none of the 12 casinos on the Mississippi coast had sustained major damage…reported minor wind damage at their properties, such as a few downed trees, in initial reports. Reuters, 9-15-04

The Coast's casinos will reopen for business at 7 a.m. after getting safety clearances from local and emergency officials and the Mississippi Gaming Commission's approval Thursday. Tom Wilemon, Biloxi Sun Herald, 9-17-04

The bullet missed, this time. But it sent a quiver of fear through the communities that depend on gaming. The possibility of long-term damage, loss of jobs and tax revenue, opened a new discussion about the merits of water-based casinos. Casinos in Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri may not crawl ashore, but the discussion has begun. And if they crawl ashore in those states, can they long remain floating on waves of possible disaster in other states? Ivan - dare we call him terrible - may prove to be more than a force of nature driving people from their homes, killing many and causing billions of dollars in damage. Ivan may prove to be the force that drove casinos on land from their watery beginning and into a new phase in their evolution. Land-based casinos are much different animals than water-based casinos.

Even before Hurricane Ivan makes landfall, South Mississippians have faced the unhappy prospect that their casino industry has massive vulnerabilities. …"This could be the big one," said Bruce Nourse, spokesman for the Beau Rivage. "I think it's already changed our thinking. I can't remember the level of the threat being this severe since the gaming industry started" in the region. When South Mississippi's casinos closed Tuesday to wait out the storm, the state began to lose $385,747 per day in taxes. In addition, South Mississippi's economy began to lose the revenue from 17,000 hotel rooms and the paychecks from about 17,000 casino industry jobs. These losses will continue as the casinos remain closed in the aftermath of the storm…could stop gambling in South Mississippi for weeks and perhaps months. …Casino tax revenue provides some 35 percent of Biloxi's budget and 10 percent of the state budget. Of Biloxi's $104 million annual revenue, some $42 million comes from casinos or sales taxes. Patrick Peterson, Biloxi Sun-Herald, 9-13-04

At Wednesday's monthly meeting of the Gaming Commission in Greenville, Chairman Leonard "Len" Blackwell again stressed the need for the Legislature to approve land-based casinos on the Coast within strict guidelines. "I will be kind of on my soapbox for a moment," Blackwell said at the last meeting of his tenure. "Two years ago, and I'm not saying I told you so because I'm preaching to the choir, I advocated that the Legislature allow our casinos on the Gulf Coast to protect themselves from natural disasters." …Blackwell said he hopes lawmakers will deal with the issue next year. Tom Wilemon, Biloxi Sun Herald, 9-17-04

The monthly gaming revenue reports vary as much from one jurisdiction as the individual company reports differ from each other. Six states were up and seven states were down. Neither the ups or downs were dramatic; even a spin doctor would struggle with most of the reports, and as no presidential candidate except Ralph Nader ever even speaks the word casino, we are not likely to get a national spin on these results.

The resort's 12 casinos won $452 million from gamblers in August, a 4.8 percent slide from the same month last year, according to figures released by the Casino Control Commission on Friday. The $22 million difference can be attributed partially to a calendar change. Last year, the Labor Day weekend fell on the last days of August. J. Staas Haught, Press of Atlantic City, 9-13-04

After months of double-digit increases, winnings in Nevada casinos slumped in July by 1.5 percent compared with a year ago. The Nevada Gaming Control Board reported today that casinos statewide won $812.4 million before taxes and business expenses, or $13 million less than a year ago. Cy Ryan, Las Vegas Sun, 9-10-04

Two Kansas City-area casinos posted higher revenue, and two others posted lower revenue in August compared with last year, the Missouri Gaming Commission said Friday. The Kansas City market as a whole reported revenue of $56.9 million in August, up 2 percent from $56 million a year earlier, the agency said in a written release. Kansas City Business Journal, 9-10-04

Four of the five St. Louis-area casinos saw increases in revenue in August, the Missouri Gaming reported. …In Illinois, Argosy's Alton Belle Casino's admissions dropped 3.1 percent to 124,180, while revenue increased slightly to $9.3 million. St. Louis Business Journal, 9-10-04

Detroit casinos reported revenue of nearly $98.3 million for August, up by almost $3.4 million over the same period last year, during which the casinos closed for three days because of the regional power outage. …7.2 percent increase over the first eight months of 2003. Roberet Ankeny, Crain's Detroit, 9-15-04

Missouri Gaming Commission…Statewide, casino revenues in August hit $124.5 million, up 2.4 percent, the second-best month on record. …declines of 6.2 percent in Iowa …Illinois riverboats were up 2.4 percent. Rick Alm, Kansas City Star, 9-15-04

Winnings from gamblers at Louisiana's state-licensed casinos dropped 4.5 percent last month in comparison to August 2003…$173.8 million at the state's 14 riverboat casinos, Harrah's New Orleans Casino and slot-machine casinos at three race tracks…state-licensed casinos won $182 million in August 2003. Alan Sayre, Associated Press, Picayune-Times, 9-15-04

Gamblers left more than $1.3 billion in Arizona Indian casinos in fiscal 2004 …On Wednesday, the state Department of Gaming made the first-ever report of the total annual gambling revenues at Arizona's 22 casinos and put to rest analysts' estimates about the industry's size. For the record, the exact take was $1,349,801,856. John Stearns, Arizona Republic, 9-16-04

Foxwoods (Connecticut) had slot revenues of $74.6 million in August…an average of 7,273 slot machines in operation during the month and gave the state $18.6 million of its slot revenue. Mohegan Sun…had an August slot take of $72.4 million… Associated Press, Hartford Courant, 9-16-04

…two of three riverboat casinos in Southeastern Indiana reported a drop in August gaming win over a year ago. Only the recently expanded Belterra Casino Resort near Florence enjoyed an increase in August gaming win over a year ago, according to figures released this week by the Indiana Gaming Commission. …The three riverboat casinos combined collected August win of $63.3 million, a year-over-year drop of 1.5 percent from August 2003. Ken Alltucker, Cincinnati Enquirer, 9-221-04

Colorado casinos recorded $62.5 million in revenues for August, a 5 percent slide from the same month a year ago…Black Hawk's 21 casinos generated $44.2 million…down from $47 million a year ago. Cripple Creek's 19 casinos made $13.4 million in adjusted gross proceeds in August, down from $14.2 the previous year. Central City's five casinos recorded proceeds of $4.8 million…only…increase. Rocky Mountain News, 9-22-04

The billboard is up, the commissioners' thumbs are down and regulation in Nevada has produced an unusual story. Gaming regulators have pretty much had their say in Nevada over the years; if gaming says it is not allowed, it is not allowed. Hard Rock decided to challenge that. When regulators fined the Hard Rock Hotel for a billboard, Hard Rock decided to argue its case. More than just appeal the ruling, Hard Rock put up another billboard that makes fun of the issue in ways that are hard to ignore.

The Hard Rock Hotel's dispute with gaming regulators over several of its ads is turning into a full-bore confrontation over the First Amendment that will begin Friday when the Nevada Gaming Commission hears motions on the case. …The battle that's shaping up stems from a series of suggestive billboard and print ads that the Nevada Gaming Control Board wants banned because they suggest illegal activities and allegedly damaged the industry's reputation. …Hard Rock Hotel has changed its tune from trying to amicably settle the complaints brought by the state over its suggestive advertising campaign to insisting its First Amendment rights are being violated…joined…by the Nevada Resort Association…and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada. Rod Smith, Gaming Wire, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 9-21-04

Though it stands more than eight miles away, a not-so-tongue-in-cheek billboard towering above the Hard Rock Hotel could cast a heavy shadow on Friday's Nevada Gaming Commission meeting near downtown Las Vegas. …several sources who've followed the issue insist the Hard Rock is already mocking regulators with its latest promotional effort. …erected a billboard that depicts a cartoon cat, two rabbits and a wood-chewing beaver next to its hotel-casino …sign touts itself as "Another clean & inoffensive billboard from your friends at the Hard Rock," others claim it's simply a reprise of the suggestive content that led to the company's $300,000 Gaming Control Board settlement that was rejected by the Nevada Gaming Commission and then Friday's commission hearing. "It's a pussy, a beaver and some bunnies, and we all know what bunnies do," Scott Robertson, creative director for local ad firm the Merica Agency, said Wednesday. "Because it's not so overt, maybe people are OK with that, but given that there's a looming controversy, it shocked me," Robertson said. Chris Jones, Gaming Wire, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 9-23-04

And even though there is still another hearing, it appears that Hard Rock may be winning. The case is more than just a curiosity with titillating pictures and words. Regulation in Nevada is based on a few broad principles that allow regulators to control gaming. One principle is the privileged license - a gaming license in Nevada is a privilege not a right - a gaming license in Nevada can also mean a limit on broader legal rights. A second principle is the reputation of the industry and the State of Nevada; licensees are not allowed to do anything that brings discredit on either. This case tests Nevada's ability to limit a licensee's rights to control the activities of gaming.

Attorneys hailed a Nevada Gaming Commission's Friday decision to dismiss two complaints against the Hard Rock Hotel arising from its sexually suggestive advertisements as a victory for the hotel-casino and the First Amendment.

In dividing the complaint against the company, however, the commission decided to proceed to trial Nov. 18 on a single procedural complaint claiming the company reneged on its promise to run all of its advertising through a hotel compliance committee. Rod Smith, Gaming Wire, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 9-25-04

…Bobby Siller wrote a letter explaining why he wasn't signing off on a settlement agreement that had been reached between the state and the Hard Rock, a settlement that ultimately was rejected by the commission. Siller's letter said, "I was told, both in writing and orally, that future Hard Rock advertisements which contain 'questionable elements' would be channeled through the compliance committee. This committee was composed of Hard Rock management and other individuals experienced in gaming in Nevada and sufficiently mature to assure that any advertising or promotion effort to reach the young crowd would not violate gaming regulations. Unfortunately, I have been disappointed." Richard N. Velotta, Las Vegas Sun, 9-27-04

…"This was a good day for the First Amendment," Gary Peck, executive director of the Nevada ACLU, said late Friday. "The commission made a very clear record that it is not the commission's job to regulate ads based on their content except to look at whether they propose illegal activities or are obscene." Richard N. Velotta, Las Vegas Sun, 9-27-04

Unions are up. Unions are down. This one really is a spin issue. To the gaming industry and the operators, unions are trying to gain more control, limit a casino's ability to sublease space, and form a national bargaining power that might bring the federal government into a major strike. To the unions, casinos are a fertile ground for mining new members, building a national power base and a means to regain some lost credibility and political power. Atlantic City is key to the debate. If the union can force Tropicana and others to submit to its demands and a new contract that expiries when other like-contracts expire across the country, the unions win big-time. If the casinos can stop the expansion of unions into subleasing and keep the contracts separate and regional, the casinos win. In the meantime, the battle rages and the spinners spin.

Local 54 of Unite Here held a 24-hour informational picket of the Tropicana to let the public know about their demands for a new contract. It was a bit noisier on Pacific Avenue, as about a dozen union members held signs saying "No contract, no peace" and "Contract now!" and about a half-dozen women marched in a circle chanting "Shame on Tropicana." Hotel and restaurant workers at 11 Atlantic City casinos have been working without a contract since Sept. 15. The union has threatened to strike if an agreement is not reached by Oct. 1. Only the Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa is not affected, having negotiated a contract with its workers last year. At issue are: Casinos' proposal to have employees pay for a portion of their health insurance; A three-year contract instead of the casinos' proposed five-year deal, that would time the end of the contract period with that in other cities and give the union greater bargaining power; Casinos subcontracting space to other restaurants that would hire non-union workers. Elaine Rose, Press Of Atlantic City, 9-26-04

Strikes and threats of strikes are unfolding across the country in Detroit, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Nevada. And outside of gaming, but connected, hotel workers in LA, DC and San Francisco are dancing to the same tune.

Pari-mutuel clerks at the Dubuque Greyhound Park & Casino have approved a new three-year contract, ending a strike that began earlier this month. About a dozen clerks walked off the job Sept. 4 after contract talks failed to resolve issues over health insurance and holiday pay. Las Vegas Sun, 9-21-04

Contract talks between the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 501 and Mandalay Resort Group are at an impasse, and workers are taking a strike authorization vote today, a union official said Wednesday. "We're not calling for a strike yet, but negotiations have bogged down," said Local 501 business representative George Scott, whose union represents 1,100 workers in Las Vegas. Rod Smith, Gaming Wire, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 9-23-04

Workers at Harrah's Casino in East Chicago and Majestic Star and Trump casinos in Gary have joined those at a Michigan City casino in authorizing a strike if contract negotiations fail. Hospitality workers at Harrah's, Majestic Star, Trump and the Buffington Harbor Pavilion voted 423-33 on Wednesday to authorize a strike. Workers at Michigan City's Blue Chip Casino voted 140-17 on Monday to authorize a strike. Associated Press, Indianapolis Star, 9-23-04

Thousands of hotel workers in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and San Francisco are prepared to strike in a concerted attempt to pressure employers into signing contracts that could significantly boost union clout. In Los Angeles, 3,000 housekeepers, bellmen and other workers at nine prominent hotels were expected to authorize a strike, but no date has been set for a walkout. The hotel workers voted Monday and results of the strike vote were expected to be released Tuesday morning. Besides the usual issues over wages, benefits and work load, the key demand for Los Angeles workers is a contract that would expire at the same time as those for hotel workers in six cities and Hawaii - an expiration that employees said would give them more leverage at bargaining time. Ben Fox, Associated Press

Atlantic City will offer a few more ups and downs before the matter is settled, but Atlantic City is key to adding gaming to the national hotel union strategy. This issue is just one more example of gaming becoming a mature industry and firmly integrated into American culture, politics and business. Unions traditionally have had a major role in electing presidents, governors and mayors. Nationally connected contracts would help the unions advance that agenda.

While a weekend picket held by casino workers did not appear to affect visitors to the city, it did draw the attention of a superior court judge. Judge William Nugent ruled that the protest by members of Local 54 should be limited. His temporary restraining order, issued Saturday, limited the number of pickets that could set up outside entrances to the Tropicana Hotel and Resort. The order also said picketers had to stay 20 feet from the Tropicana's doors. Associated Press, USA Today, 9-27-04

Heading into the second half of Local 54's two-week extension of contract talks, one casino property appears to be nearing an agreement and the divide between the casino-hotel union and another property is still as deep as ever. …Union members last Friday agreed to extend talks until Oct. 1. Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc. could reach a deal as early as Wednesday. J. Staas Haught, Press of Atlantic City, 9-25-04

Organized labor is working overtime this fall to defeat President George W. Bush, and one big reason is that Bush's Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry, will almost certainly make life easier for unions trying to sign up new members. That's because Kerry, like any new president, can immediately reshape the National Labor Relations Board, the federal body that regulates labor-management disputes in the United States. The Bush-appointed Republican majority on the five-member board has handed unions several stinging defeats, including the process of making it easier for unions to sign up members, this year. All sides agree that a Kerry-appointed board could reverse, or at least moderate, many of those decisions. For unions and management, the stakes are high. "People need to know that when they vote for president, they're also voting for a National Labor Relations Board as well as other federal agencies," said Richard Block, a professor of labor and industrial relations at Michigan State University. John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, 9-27-04

Harrah's is up, [a slight disclaimer, I do not own any Harrah's stock, but do own some Caesars, purchased pre-merger] unless of course you count the apparent loss in Rhode Island. Harrah's continues to use its brand to grow its casinos and strengthen its brand through growth of its casinos. A 1.45 billion dollar merger with Horseshoe and a 9 billion dollar merger with Caesars certainly grew the casinos. A profitable sale of some of the casinos in those mergers will help pay down the debt and move Harrah's up the casino ladder, only they seem to have run out of rungs. Is there a bigger casino company in the world that Harrah's will pursue after the last merger is complete? It is a company that is not without its notice, awards and accolades. Almost every month there is another award of some kind.

For the fourth consecutive year, Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. has been selected as a component of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. The index is a compilation of more than 300 companies from 24 countries selected for their responsible approaches to creating long-term sustainable shareholder value. Harrah's has been the only U.S. gaming or hospitality company in the Sustainability Index since 2001. "We are focused on achieving consistent, superior growth for Harrah's shareholders," said Gary Loveman, president and chief executive officer of Harrah's. "We've met this goal without sacrificing our commitment to responsible behavior toward our customers, employees and communities. That is why our repeated inclusion in the Sustainability Index is such a tremendous honor. It is a measurable, independent validation of Harrah's reputation as a successful, responsible company." PRNewswire-FirstCall, Yahoo! Finance, 9-7-04

The Motley Fool certainly thinks Harrah's is up. Jeff Hwang thinks the mergers are great and the selective sales of properties even greater. He summarizes a year in the corporate life of Harrah's and is amazed' but aren't we all?

As I've said before, I don't think Harrah's Entertainment could have hoped for much better. …Harrah's and Caesars look to be getting premium value at 8.5 times trailing earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), and they aren't really giving up much either. …When the sale closes, Harrah's will use its $476 million in after-tax proceeds to pay down debt, and Caesars will use its $480 million in proceeds to reduce its debt to near $3.7 billion. Caesars also expects to book a gain from the sale. …As for Harrah's, I am amazed at what the company has accomplished over the past year. This time last year, the company snatched Horseshoe Gaming away from riverboat rival Ameristar Casinos in a $1.45 billion deal, forever reversing its fate as a second-best player. That deal gave Harrah's the top property in the Tunica and Shreveport-Bossier City, La., market and what is arguably the best player in the Chicagoland market. It also eventually led to Harrah's acquisition of the World Series of Poker, which has been and will continue to be a considerable boost to Harrah's brand. Jeff Hwang , 9-28-04

The Harrah's brand is gaining steam, but Harrah's has not lost sight of other brands that have been added to the Harrah's stable. Some seem to be lost and slowly losing their identity, like Showboat. Others like the World Series of Poker are becoming important in the overall corporate marketing strategy. With ESPN as a partner and taking maximum advantage of the current interests in poker, it would be hard to believe they don't have a home run with this one.

They're 10 of the most feared, respected and famed poker pros in the world. But only one can claim the title of World's Best. On September 2, 10 poker legends -- Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, T.J. Cloutier, Annie Duke, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer, Daniel Negreanu, Greg Raymer and Chip Reese -- gathered at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Shuttered away in a private room, they squared off in the 1st annual World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions. After playing long into the night, one player emerged to capture The Harrah's Trophy and the $2 million winner-take-all prize provided by Harrah's and ESPN. A nearly three-hour telecast of the Tournament of Champions will air September 21… "Never before has the world seen this caliber of players face off in a single-table event," said Ginny Shanks, senior vice president of acquisition marketing for Harrah's Entertainment. "Tuesday night, America will witness a poker game for the ages, and learn who can claim to be the best poker player in the world." PRNewswire-FirstCall, Yahoo! Finance, 9-20-04

Harrah's Entertainment Inc. and ESPN are aiming to capitalize on poker's best-known event by beginning a series of high-profile tournaments across the country next year. The Las Vegas-based gambling company hopes name recognition will shuffle rival tournaments to the back of the pack in the lucrative and fast-growing poker market. The World Series of Poker Circuit will include a point system and seven televised tournaments at Harrah's casinos in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Atlantic City, N.J., New Orleans and San Diego, Harrah's Entertainment executives said. The circuit concludes with the Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas with top point earners gaining entry. …Steve Lipscomb, chief executive of the 3-year-old World Poker Tour, began airing tournaments to impressive ratings about 18 months ago. …"When you play in the World Poker Tour championship at the Bellagio, there is no better poker event in the world, including the World Series of Poker," he said. "We've established the sport. The WPT is the NBA." "If they try to go up against our event, they are going to have to try to take on an established event," he said. Well-known pros such as T.J. Cloutier, Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth Jr. and Howard Lederer can play in both WPT and WSOP events. Adam Goldman, Associated Press, Las Vegas Sun, 9-21-04

November's election will put gaming on the ballot again in a number of states. The polls are not indicating any gaming victories, except possibly Washington. The Washington initiative is much like the one in California and would allow non-Indians to operate slot machines in the state. Neither of the two initiatives in California may pass, but gaming will continue to expand in California regardless.

With Election Day less than five weeks away, several ballot initiatives that once promised major expansion for the gaming industry are suddenly flaming out, industry experts said Tuesday. Major initiatives in California, Florida, Nebraska and Oklahoma appear headed to defeat with only a plan for expansion in Washington state likely to pass. An anti-gaming measure in Michigan is also considered a shoo-in. Across the board, gaming companies are simply not lobbying for ballot measures or expanded gaming the way they did in the 1980s and 1990s. Rod Smith, Gaming Wire, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 9-29-04

An up and down month? The truth is, without a political spin, the economy is growing slowly. Some segments of the economy are growing, some are not; gaming is experiencing the same growth as the economy, slow. The exceptions are individual companies or jurisdictions; in those cases it is not same store growth that is dramatic, but acquisitions or expansion. California's gaming revenues will grow over the next twelve months because there will be more slot machines and more casinos. Harrah's revenues will also grow for the same reason, more casinos and more slots.

Ken Adams

Ken Adams is the principal in the gaming consulting firm, Ken Adams and Associates. Formed in 1990, Ken Adams and Associates specializes in information, analysis, and strategic planning for Indian tribes, casino operations and gaming manufacturers.

Ken spent over 20 years in the hotel-casino industry, prior to founding Ken Adams and Associates. He held the positions of: Director of Casino Operations, Casino Manager, and Keno Department Manager. During this time, he developed numerous innovative marketing and customer development programs and systems for evaluating casino performance. Some of those programs, such as slot clubs and tournaments, have become industry standards.

Ken is also actively involved in gathering and disseminating information that is important to the gaming industry. He is editor and publisher of and the Adams' Report, a monthly newsletter specializing in identifying trends in casino gaming, regulation and manufacturing, the Adams Daily Report, an electronic newsletter that provides electronic links to the key gaming stories of the day, and the Adams Review, a special report distributed by Compton Dancer Consulting that provides editorial commentary on gaming trends.
Ken Adams
Ken Adams is the principal in the gaming consulting firm, Ken Adams and Associates. Formed in 1990, Ken Adams and Associates specializes in information, analysis, and strategic planning for Indian tribes, casino operations and gaming manufacturers.

Ken spent over 20 years in the hotel-casino industry, prior to founding Ken Adams and Associates. He held the positions of: Director of Casino Operations, Casino Manager, and Keno Department Manager. During this time, he developed numerous innovative marketing and customer development programs and systems for evaluating casino performance. Some of those programs, such as slot clubs and tournaments, have become industry standards.

Ken is also actively involved in gathering and disseminating information that is important to the gaming industry. He is editor and publisher of and the Adams' Report, a monthly newsletter specializing in identifying trends in casino gaming, regulation and manufacturing, the Adams Daily Report, an electronic newsletter that provides electronic links to the key gaming stories of the day, and the Adams Review, a special report distributed by Compton Dancer Consulting that provides editorial commentary on gaming trends.