Slot king reports mixed results
International Game Technology
(NYSE:IGT) reported adjusted earnings of $0.34 per share on Thursday, or a couple pennies short of analyst estimates. Overall unit shipments were down to 18,800 -- just over half of the 36,900 units shipped in last year's quarter -- as domestic slot sales continue to be weak amid a continuing lull, while international unit shipments were down 62%. This is due primarily to a similar situation in Japan in anticipation of the mandated industry-wide transition to Regulation 5 pachislot machines.

On the other hand, IGT's recurring revenue gaming operations business continues to grow steadily. Gaming operations revenues climbed 10% to $341.1 million, thanks to a 19% increase in the installed base of recurring revenue machines at the end of the quarter to 54,800 units.

Meanwhile, the long-term picture remains bright, with server-based gaming not far in the horizon, and an expedited replacement of pachislot machines in Japan is expected during the second half of the current fiscal year. That said, the company does nothing but make money while returning value to shareholders. IGT also announced that it has increased its share repurchase program by 50 million shares to a total of 53.1 million shares, accounting for 16% of outstanding shares. The company plans to complete the program within three years.

Macau continues to roll
Macau-related gaming stocks got a boost this week after the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau reported that first-quarter casino revenues jumped 45% from last year to $2.23 billion. Macau has already surpassed the Las Vegas Strip as the largest gaming market in the world, yet the party is just beginning.

Melco-PBL (NASDAQ:MPEL) -- a joint-venture between James Packer's Australia-based Publishing and Broadcasting Limited and Lawrence Ho, son of Macau gaming mogul Stanley Ho -- is set to open the Crown Macau next month. The Crown Macau is being marketed as Macau's first "six-star" hotel. I suppose this would be something like "three thumbs up," as there is no official rating scale that goes past five stars (although Dubai is famous for its seven-star Burj al Arab), but you get the point -- the hotel and casino is meant to attract the very top-end gamblers in the market. The drawback to the site is its relatively isolated location on the northern side of Taipa island, away from casinos on the Macau Peninsula and north of the future Cotai Strip. What this means is that the property is going to have to be that much better than the competition.

Melco PBL's flagship City of Dreams project is slated for a late 2008 opening, though with a prime position on the Cotai Strip. The company also has a third project planned for a side on the Macau Peninsula.

Meanwhile, Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) opens the Venetian Macau to anchor the Cotai Strip this summer, and MGM Mirage (NYSE:MGM) opens the MGM Grand Macau later this year in a partnership with Pansy Ho, daughter of Stanley Ho. Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) opened its first casino in the market this past fall, with an expansion project slated for completion during the third quarter of this year.

The new Las Vegas-style casinos are expected to help tourism in Macau nearly double to roughly 42 million visitors by 2010.

MGM secures future Strip development site
In a pair of separate transactions, MGM Mirage acquired a total of 34 acres of land at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip for $575 million, or $17 million per acre. The company acquired a 26-acre parcel of land across the street from the Sahara from Gordon Gaming for $444 million, as well as several parcels totaling eight acres from Concord Wilshire Acquisitions for $131 million. MGM Mirage now controls a whopping 865 acres of Las Vegas Strip real estate, including over three miles of Strip frontage.

Combined with 44 acres of land adjacent to Circus Circus, the company now controls a 78-acre site for future development. The company intends to develop the site with one or more partners, of which interested parties would almost certainly include Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection Ameristar Casinos (NASDAQ:ASCA) and emerging rival Pinnacle Entertainment (NYSE:PNK).

PBL buys into Fontainebleau
James Packer's PBL, which owns the Crown Casino in Melbourne, as well as a stake in Melco PBL joint venture, has bought a 19.6% stake in Fontainebleau Resorts for $250 million, marking the company's entry into the Las Vegas Strip market. Fontainebleau plans to build a 3,889-room hotel and casino on a 24.5-acre site just north of the Riviera, with an opening slated for late 2009. The project will reportedly include 1,000 condo-hotel units, which will be sold and managed by Turnberry Associates.

Fontainebleau was co-founded in 2005 by Turnberry Associates principal Jeffery Soffer and former Mandalay Resort Group CFO Glenn Schaeffer, who now acts as CEO of Fontainebleau. The company is also working on a $500 million renovation and expansion of the Fontainebleau Resort in Miami Beach.

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Fool contributor Jeff Hwang owns shares of International Game Technology, Melco PBL, and Ameristar Casinos. The Fool's disclosure policy deals the fairest game in town.