I have to admit to being a little annoyed by the ongoing privatization and consolidation in the gaming industry. This "Gaming Roundup" was much easier to do when there were more companies to follow. But just in the past few years, we've seen Mandalay Resort Group, Caesars Entertainment, and Argosy Gaming get swallowed by MGM Mirage
Before long, there will be no one left to write about but the Indians.
But I digress. This week, three gaming companies reported earnings -- international casino resort powerhouse Las Vegas Sands
The week in review, in no particular order:
Sir Charles' lucky shot
The L.A. Times reports that former NBA star, current TNT NBA analyst, and previous Fool interviewee Charles Barkley enjoyed a lucky Super Bowl Sunday. Barkley told Phoenix TV station KTVK on Monday that he had won about $700,000 playing blackjack and betting on the Indianapolis Colts to win the Super Bowl. That should partially recoup what he had previously estimated at $10 million in lifetime losses.
The paper quoted Barkley as acknowledging that "It's a stupid, bad habit. I have a problem. But the problem is when you can't afford it. I can afford to gamble."
Ok, Chuck. But if you plan to continue to gamble, heed these words of advice:
Don't gamble with money you can't afford to lose. Even the wealthiest people on the planet have a point where gambling turns from a form of entertainment to ... well, gambling. Make sure your gambling money is simply that -- gambling money.
Learn basic blackjack strategy, if you don't know it already. Learning basic strategy could save the average player about $15 in long-run expectations for every $1,000 bet you make. With those savings, you can buy me dinner.
Learn to count cards. Why not?
- Don't hate on the Heat. You were wrong about the Heat last year, all year long. Here's to a repeat.
Las Vegas Sands' earnings oasis
Monday morning, Las Vegas Sands said that Q4 net revenues climbed 27.1% to $636.3 million, while EBITDAR -- earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, and rent -- increased 28.2% to $244.3 million.
The Venetian property on the Las Vegas Strip managed a whopping 52.9% jump in EBITDAR to $134.1 million. The company claims that's a record result for any property in the history of the Las Vegas Strip. The rise was due partly to a 9.8% increase in REVPAR, to $235, but more related to exceptional luck at the tables. The table games' hold percentage was 36.9% (compared to an expected range of 20% to 22%).
Meanwhile, the Sands Macao saw casino revenues rise 27.1% to $343.3 million, while EBITDAR increased a more modest 7.2%. Despite the introduction of new competition in Macau -- including the arrival of Wynn Resorts
2007 will be an extremely exciting year for the company. The Venetian Macao -- the anchor of the future Cotai Strip -- is set to open this summer, while the Palazzo, located between the Venetian and Wynn Las Vegas on the Las Vegas Strip -- is slated for a fall opening. The company has also begun construction of The Sands Bethworks, a slot facility in Bethlehem, Penn.
WMS is a winner
Slot manufacturer WMS Industries continues to gain ground. The company saw diluted earnings jump 43% to $0.33 per share, or $12.2 million, on a company-record $135 million in revenue. Notably, North American shipments were up 21%, thanks to the openings of two racinos in Broward County, Florida and new slot facilities in Pennsylvania, and the transition of Oklahoma tribal casinos from Class II to Class III machines. WMS claimed 20% market share on shipments to Florida, with an expected share of the Pennsylvania slot market in the "high teens."
Meanwhile, gaming operations revenues grew 14% to $40.8 million, thanks to a 16% increase in the average installed base of gaming machines to 7,123 units. That success largely owed to the popularity of WMS's Monopoly Big Event machines.
Postponements at Penn National
On Thursday, Penn National reported fourth-quarter EBITDA of $146.4 million on net revenues of $572.9 million, bringing full-year EBITDA and net revenues to $629.2 million and $2.24 billion, respectively. Key announcements included the rescheduling of the first phase of an expansion project at the company's Charles Town slot facility from the first quarter to May 2007, citing "certain construction delays," as well as the pushed-back opening of a new monster two-level barge at the Argosy Casino Lawrenceburg, now slated for Q2 2009. The delays are disappointing news, since those two properties represent the company's two highest-grossing operations.
Harrah's AC to unveil Phase I expansion
Harrah's Atlantic City is set to unveil the first phase of its $550 million expansion project on Feb. 18, with the opening of a new 620-seat buffet and a retail promenade. The existing buffet will be converted into additional gaming space, adding 400 slot machines, 10 table games, and a lounge. The addition will create 16,500 square feet of new gaming space, bringing the property's total to a sizeable 165,700 square feet by this summer.
In May, the property will also open an indoor pool and spa. The centerpiece of the project will be a 961-room, 44-story hotel tower, which Harrah's says will be the tallest hotel casino in Atlantic City, and the second-tallest building in New Jersey.
Place your bets on further Foolishness:
- Class III Slots Mean More Seminole Power
- The New WMS Industries: Part I and Part II
- Ameristar: Is an Acquisition Imminent?
- Betting on a Breakup at Harrah's
- A Last Stop for Station Casinos?