Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Casinos: It's Official, MGM Resorts Intl., Moody's No Longer So Moody on Vegas,

So before I come home later today, I want to catch up on some of the important gaming news I've been missing.

- It's official, MGM Mirage is now MGM Resorts International. The company says they did it to "better reflect the resort developer's global presence as it expands in Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere", but I'm wondering if this means The Mirage will be up for sale next. MGM Resorts denies it (wow, I need to get used to saying "MGM Resorts"), but we'll see. Whatever they want to call themselves, they still have $13 billion total debt. And while they are making progress in paying it off, they may need more cash on hand soon if they intend to fast-track more debt payments and/or buy Cosmopolitan to integrate it into CityCenter and/or restart stalled renovation projects for their other casinos.

- In some much appreciated good news for the gaming industry, Moody's has upgraded is overall outlook for gaming from "Negative" to "Stable".

"Although monthly gaming revenue by jurisdiction varies considerably, overall, U.S. gaming revenue was flat year-over-year in March and April 2010, and it appears the trend will hold for May," Keith Foley, senior vice president at Moody's, said in a statement. "While not a stellar performance, it's a marked improvement over the consistent -- and often substantial -- declines of 2008 and 2009. It also has favorable implications for gaming company operating profits, a majority of which comes directly from slot machine and table game revenue."

While Moody's is not yet all-out bullish on gaming (they later noted the continuing struggle to get more tourists to spend more money), it at least reflects Wall Street's re-embrace of the casinos after going so sour on gaming in 2008 and 2009.

- There's some increasing controversy over online hotel reviews and who's actually doing the reviewing. Apparently, paid casino promoters are now taking to sites like Expedia, Yelp, and TripAdvisor to shill for their clients and/or attack their clients' competitors. I guess the 'net is always prone to this kind of abuse. Whatever. The travel sites say they're cracking down on it, and the casinos deny that they pay people to do this kind of sh*t. And moi? Well, I have ways of determining which reviews are real and which aren't... And ultimately, it isn't these anonymous reviews that make my hotel decision for me.

- $1.2 billion in Fontainebleau contracts have been pulled... So construction will be resumed soon? Not so fast. Carl Icahn has said for some time that he wants to wait until Vegas stabilizes some more before he finishes F-bleau, so we can't be so sure this is a sudden change of heart.

- And finally, Steve Friess recently did an interview with Donny Osmond. He talks about the recent death of Marie's son, their return to The Flamingo, his "teen fame" in the 1970s vs. Justin Bieber mania today, and more. As always, Mr. Steve keeps it interesting!

And that's all for now. I may pop out one more blog post before I fly out of Long Beach this afternoon, and I promise to resume regular Nevada blogging later this week once I settle back into "life in paradise".

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