Tired of the Pittsburgh snowstorms, but don't feel like shelling out thousands of dollars for airfare and hotel costs in Tampa? There's still time to book a flight to Vegas:
While in years past high-quality hotels on the Sin City Strip could command $300 or more a night, tourism is down in 2009. Way down. As a result, hot deals abound for Super Bowl XLIII weekend, with check-in Jan. 31 and check-out Feb. 2.
At vegas.com, for instance, a two-night stay in a luxury king suite at the five-star Venetian Resort Hotel & Casino costs as little as $450. Prices at the four-star Luxor start at about $215.
The landmark Stratosphere Las Vegas Hotel & Casino is an even bigger bargain: just $132.60 for two adults for two nights in the three-star hotel, or cheap enough to also allow for an all-day pass to its world-famous Big Shot, Insanity and X Scream thrill rides.
And unlike the prices of flights to Tampa, which have skyrocketed in the last week, airfare to Vegas is still cheap.
Southwest's "Wanna Get Away" roundtrip fare, for instance, runs as low as $275 for early-morning flights from Pittsburgh. A rental car can be had for as little as $9 a day.
... The line? Still Steelers by 7. At some point, the Cardinals money starts coming in, don't you think?
... Construction at Pittsburgh's North Shore casino, now called the Rivers, is still on schedule, despite the lousy winter weather.
Smoke 'em if you got 'em ...
At The Meadows casino, and every other casino in Pennsylvania:
"The [state's no-smoking ] law enabled casinos to apply after 90 days to expand their smoking areas to as much as 50 percent if their smoking-permitted slot machines were generating more revenue on a daily basis than the smoking-prohibited slots. Pennsylvania Revenue Department figures by December showed a significant difference in revenue between the smoking and nonsmoking areas in all seven of the casinos, and all of them applied for expansion to 50 percent. The machines in the one-quarter of The Meadows where smoking was allowed generated more than twice as much revenue, about $544 daily compared with $269 for slots in nonsmoking sections."
Dispatches from the east
The slots money is supposed to fund tax relief (among other projects), but that relief may be hard to see, as it's swallowed up by the state's huge deficit:
"The impact of Pennsylvania's slots revenue, however, may be impossible to recognize in the sea of red ink on the pages of government budgets. In Philadelphia, city officials are talking about using slots revenue to help plug a $1 billion budget gap in the city's five-year plan, instead of reducing the city's wage tax as state officials originally intended. And the state's budget woes could add pressure on local school officials to increase property taxes - ironically at a time they stand to receive more slots money than ever to reduce those taxes."
... Funny how folks are willing to overlook an indictment when they're running low on cash:
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board voted Wednesday to allow a casino owner whom it suspended from the business to contribute millions to keep his property afloat, despite reservations that agency investigators have not yet confirmed where he got the cash.
Louis DeNaples' injection of $15 million into the struggling Mount Airy Casino Resort is part of a deal with the facility's lenders to get the property out of default on its loan and allow it to borrow more money for capital needs, such as renovating the golf course.
... An analysis of Penn Gaming and its shopping list:
"Penn National Gaming, with $1.5 billion in cash on hand from a failed attempt to go private last year, is shopping for casinos. Like a consumer who saved while others blew their wads, the Pennsylvania-based company is one of a few in the debt-ridden casino industry with the ability to buy some major bling -- on sale, of course."
... Philadephia's casino foes keep on fighting.
Save the ponies!
One of the arguments in favor of the legalization of slots in Pennsylvania was that it would help rescue the state's breeders. Apparently they were on to something:
"With millions in new funding from slots revenues, Pennsylvania is the rare state enjoying an upswing in horse breeding ... The Jockey Club, which keeps the breed registry of Thoroughbreds in North America, reports that the number of mares bred in Pennsylvania last year climbed to 1,237 as of Oct. 10, up more than 30 percent from a year earlier. Nationally, 52,410 mares were bred in North America through the same date, a 7.7 percent drop from the previous year."
Odds and ends
A plumbing contractor whose owner has a felony conviction will still be allowed to do work at The Meadows casino in Washington County ... Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in West Virginia is laying off 175, about 8 percent of its workforce. That's on top of the 93 employees that were laid off in the autumn ... Slot technicians are threatening to strike in Atlantic City ... Ohio needs casinos, and it needs them now.
Bad economy + need for state tax revenue + push for casino legalization. This time, it's in Texas:
"With the economy slumping and state revenue getting tighter, gambling proponents are betting that it's the perfect time to bring casino-style gambling to Texas. They say casinos could bring billions of dollars into the state and add thousands of jobs."
I bet you say that to all the girls.