An interesting Friday shaping up: The Rivers Casino appeals its property assessment in the Allegheny County Office Building tomorrow morning, hoping to get its assessed value reduced (thus reducing its tax obligation). Worth keeping an eye on: Will Rivers tell the Allegheny County Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review that it is losing money? Doubtful, but you never know what arguments will be raised to buttress the proposition that Rivers Casino is worth less than the county claims it is.
Also tomorrow is a U.S. Bankruptcy Court deadline for the losing bidders in the Valley View Downs harness racetrack asset auction. Indianapolis-based Centaur Inc., the owner of the the Lawrence County Valley View Downs project, held an auction last month and determined that an investment group out of Southwestern Pennsylvania, American Harness, had the best bid, at $5.6 million. But Carmen Shick says he had a better bid, and may appeal the results of the auction.
... New Castle News has an interview with the aforementioned Mr. Shick.
... On Dec. 16, the gaming control board may award its last remaining "resort" casino license. That could go to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County, or one of its competitors in the eastern half of the state.
A Philadelphia Story
From Philly.com: "The Foxwoods Casino got a reprieve - again. But this is the last one, the state's Gaming Control Board warned. The investor group behind Foxwoods has until Dec. 10 [next Friday] to deliver to the gaming board evidence that its deal to turn over control of the project to Harrah's Entertainment is signed and sealed. At its next meeting, Dec. 16, the seven commissioners will decide whether to revoke the project's license - four years after it was awarded."
The proposed Harrah's Horseshoe Casino would be about 60,000 square feet and feature 1,500 slots and 80 table games -- much smaller that the orginal Foxwoods casino proposal, the reason why foes claim that the gaming board shouldn't move forward with a project so vastly different than what was initially approved by the board. This is the new layout -- and keep in mind that Rivers Casino is more than 140,000 square feet in terms of gaming space, more than 400,000 square feet overall:
Dispatches from the border
Moody's financial ratings house is not impressed with Atlantic City's plans to compete with Pennsylvania's casinos:
Boutique casinos, Internet gambling and sports betting will be of little help to Atlantic City's troubled casino industry and possibly could harm the existing gaming halls, a financial services company warned Monday in a new report. Wall Street ratings company Moody's Investors Service said all of those initiatives would add up to a "zero-sum game" for Atlantic City because gaming revenue would simply go "in one pocket and out the other."
New Jersey's Legislature is considering sweeping regulatory reforms to help revive the gaming industry, now mired in a four-year revenue slump caused by the weak economy and competition from casinos in surrounding states. In responding to the Moody's report, one of the chief proponents of the reforms said changes are needed 'to create a new reason' for tourists and investors to come to Atlantic City. "To me, doing nothing is not an option," said state Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic.
Sure it's an option. Just look at Congress.
Odds and ends
The amount of gross revenues generated in November 2010 through the play of slot machines at Commonwealth casinos rose 8.37 percent over the previous year, according to figures released today by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board." ... Are the days of watching races at Laurel Park numbered? ... "A former big-time racehorse owner and his ex-trainer claim state Horse Racing Commission officials trampled their rights in ousting them from Penn National Race Course early this year." ... The Donald lays off 250 casino employees ... and big news from Illinois, which is strapped for cash like pretty much every other state:
"A huge gambling expansion bill cleared the Illinois Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 31-20. But Gov. Pat Quinn has already expressed reservations about major gambling expansion. And the House, which would have just eight days in early January to consider the measure, traditionally has been less welcoming to major gambling bills. ... The legislation includes new casinos for Danville, Rockford, Lake County and the south suburbs, plus an exceptionally large casino for Chicago – with 4,000 gaming positions – that would be owned by the city. Existing riverboat casinos could expand to 1,600 positions in 2013. The bill also permits slot machines at horse-racing tracks."
Imagine if the city of Pittsburgh owned its own casino. Then sold it. Instant pension rescue right there.