Saturday, July 25, 2015

Bellagio Fountains to host Kabuki Performance

Shochiku Co, Ltd. and MGM Resorts International are teaming up to bring some Japanese flair to the Las Vegas Strip. On August 14-16 Kabuki star Ichikawa Somegoro will perform a show called "Fight with a Carp" in front of the iconic Bellagio fountains.

According to Wikipedia Kabuki is "a classical Japanese dance-drama. Kabuki theater is known for the style of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers."

In addition to the August 2015 performance, a "Kabuki festival" is being planned for Las Vegas in 2016. I'm guessing there would be a more permanent show located at one of the MGM properties.

It's somewhat interesting that they would choose the Bellagio fountains for this trial performance. The fountains are clearly one of the most iconic images of Las Vegas, and I could see some purists getting upset at anything that changes them.

For more about the Kabuki performance check out the MGM Resorts Press Release.

UPDATE: Some videos of the Kabuki spectacle.

Friday, July 24, 2015

July 2015 Business News Roundup

With earnings season in full swing on Wall Street there were a few notable bits of Las Vegas business news this week.

Nevada regulators approved the merger of Lakes Entertainment and Golden Gaming. The combined company will be called Golden Entertainment and will be publicly traded. Golden currently operates in Nevada owning a few casinos in Pahrump along with taverns and slot machines located in grocery stores and other businesses. Lakes owns the Rocky Gap resort in Maryland.

Boyd Gaming reported second quarter 2015 earnings. Their Las Vegas properties had solid results. Las Vegas Locals revenue was up 3.21% from the second quarter last year, and Downtown was up 5.19%. Boyd stock was flat today on the news.

Las Vegas based Pinnacle Entertainment agreed to sell its real estate to Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLPI). Under this arraingement Pinnacle will continue to operate their resort properties while paying rent to GLPI. Penn National has a similar arrangement, as GLPI was split out from that company a few years ago.

In case you missed them earlier this week also check out my blog posts about Las Vegas Sands earnings and Penn National's plans for Tropicana.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Penn National plans for Tropicana

Penn National has a two-phase plan for Tropicana which was revealed in their latest earnings release earlier today.

Phase one involves integrating Penn's Marquee Rewards loyalty program at the property along with some other small improvements.

Phase two is more exciting with the potential for new restaurants, entertainment and even a new hotel tower. All of that will be based on customer demand though, so a major hotel expansion would likely be years down the road - if it ever happens.

Tropicana plans from the Penn National Second Quarter 2015 earnings release:

With our $360 million acquisition of Tropicana Las Vegas scheduled to close later this year, we will have achieved a key strategic objective to identify the right resort at a reasonable cost of entry on the Las Vegas Strip to unleash the significant potential of our database of nearly 3 million active customers. Tropicana Las Vegas, which recently underwent more than $200 million in facility upgrades, presents a tremendous opportunity to drive increased visitation to a premier Strip property, while at the same time allowing us to strengthen our competitive position in our regional gaming markets.

Penn National has developed a two-phase plan to realize the full value of this transaction, which we expect to implement over the next three to five years. In the first phase, we intend to invest approximately $20 million in additional facility improvements and integration activities, including upgrading the existing technology infrastructure to integrate Penn National's nationwide player loyalty program, Marquee Rewards. In the second phase, we intend to evaluate other potential facility enhancements at the property, such as the addition of retail offerings, food and beverage outlets, additional hotel rooms and enhanced entertainment offerings. The scope, budget and timing of any such expansion and improvements will be determined based upon Penn National's early operation of the property and customer feedback for additional amenities.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sands Reports Strong Las Vegas Numbers

Las Vegas Sands reported positive trends in their Las Vegas operations (Venetian and Palazzo) when they released second quarter 2015 earnings earlier today.

Compared to the same quarter last year:

Hotel room revenue was up 5.8%.
Food and Beverage was up 5.1%.
Convention, Retail and Other was up 0.7%.
Table games drop was up 6.0%.
Slot handle was up 15.4%.
Occupancy was 92.6% - up from 90.1%.
Average Daily Rate was $231 up 3.6%.
Revenue per Available Room was $ 214 up 6.5%.

Despite these positive numbers, overall Las Vegas revenue was actually down 17.1% from last year due to a poor hold percentage.

Also Las Vegas is only a small piece of the LVS pie, as Macau and Singapore make up the bulk of the company's revenue. Both of those markets were down compared to last year.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Caesars Avoiding Bankruptcy

Caesars Entertainment and their subsidiary Caesars Entertainment Operating Company (CEOC) have reached a preliminary debt restructuring agreement with some of their creditors.

CEOC is already in bankruptcy, and this agreement is a step towards preventing the parent company Caesars Entertainment from sliding into bankruptcy as well.

Caesars already has a restructuring plan in place which calls for the company's real estate to be split off into a REIT, but needs creditors to agree to the plan in order to proceed. This latest agreement gives creditors more incentives than Caesars was offering before.

The whole thing is very confusing, but it looks like the Caesars Entertainment parent company will likely avoid bankruptcy. Wall Street certainly thinks so, as Caesars stock was up $1.47 to $8.02 (+22.44%) today on the news.

UPDATE: July 22, 2015 - What a difference a day makes. Yesterday Caesars was up 22% on positive bankruptcy news. Today it received a negative bankruptcy ruling and the stock plunged a whopping 40% all the way down to $4.76 a share.

My note yesterday of "it looks like the Caesars Entertainment parent company will likely avoid bankruptcy" looks to be outdated already, and bankruptcy for the parent company seems like a real possibility now. My guess is that Caesars will continue negotiations with creditors to avoid bankruptcy but we shall see.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Casino Owner gives Hundred Dollar Bills

Maryland Live casino owner David Cordish recently did some viral marketing and built some goodwill with his customers as he handed out a $100 bill to randomly selected players.

Part of the campaign was to claim he could do this because Maryland Live is a family owned establishment and they "can do something the big corporate owners of casinos can't do" - a shot at their main competitor Horseshoe Baltimore (operated by Caesars Entertainment).

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Alon 4 Billion Dollar Budget

The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia had a fairly comprehensive article about James Packer and his quest to build a number of casino resorts across the globe in the next few years.

Alon Las Vegas is the resort Packer is involved with stateside. Most of the details about Alon have not been revealed yet, but the article provided this tidbit:

"After announcing plans last year to build the Vegas casino by 2018, Packer has steadily been raiding Wynn's top executives as he looks to challenge the US businessman with an 1100-room integrated resort that could cost the gaming magnate more than $US4 billion."

This is the first time I've seen a budget attached to this project, and I'm somewhat surprised. Four billion seems kind of high for a relatively small resort. The initial renderings of the resort didn't strike me as an ultra luxury property, but those plans are very preliminary.

The luring of XS nightclub expert Jesse Waits is another clue that Alon will be competing for VIP customers. Packer has some ties with Hollywood, so attracting celebrities might be part of the Alon master plan.