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Best of Ken Adams

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Quicktakes: The month's trends in a glance - August 2007

15 September 2007

Some people never fail – never fail to do what we expect of them. Donald Trump is one of those people. That doesn't mean he succeeds in everything that he does; particularly in gaming, he is known more for his failures and bankruptcy than for his successes. More than his casinos, he is known for his flamboyant style, incredible ego and, of course, for his hair. The Donald did not disappoint us this time either. He put his company up for sale, got offers he said were too low, took it off the market, blamed an employee for the failure to sell the properties at the right price, and then in full color, live and in front of the whole world, said maybe he would just run the casinos himself. Because, and here comes The Donald, when he ran them he killed everyone, even Caesars. You go, Donald.

Donald Trump knows the art of the deal. But he won't be making one for his three New Jersey casinos. The company that bears the flamboyant real estate mogul's name had been up for sale for several months. But Trump Entertainment Resorts announced Monday it is not likely to be sold. That caused shares of the company to plunge in early trading Monday. The operator of three Atlantic City casinos said its board determined none of the "indications of interest" received met its expectations…Trump Entertainment was in talks with a group led by former Atlantic City casino executive Dennis Gomes and real estate developer Morris Bailey about a possible sale of the casinos. (Wayne Parry, Associated Press, Newsday, 7-2-07)

Trump said his fellow directors were "dying for me to run the company like I did 12 or 13 years ago. I used to kill everybody. Nobody - not even Caesars - could beat me back then." (Suzette Parmley, Philadelphia Inquirer, 7-3-07)

Unable to strike a deal to sell his namesake company's trio of Atlantic City casinos, celebrity deal-maker Donald J. Trump said yesterday that he would like to run them himself. Trump, who owns 31 percent of Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. is chairman of the company's board of directors. (Suzette Parmley, Philadelphia Inquirer, 7-3-07)

…Former Trump Entertainment CEO James Perry, who was fired by Trump and the board of directors for opposing a sale to Gomes and Bailey, announced his retirement June 19. His resignation became effective Sunday. Trump said with Perry's departure, "millions of dollars of corporate overhead would be reduced." Among those terminated were members of Perry's inner circle, brought from his former company, Argosy Gaming Co., of Alton, Ill., where he served as CEO. They included Paul B. Keller, the company's executive vice president of design and construction, and Virginia McDowell, the executive vice president and chief information officer, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday. (Suzette Parmley, Philadelphia Inquirer, 7-3-07)

Trump backed away from running the casinos himself, but then he put his 25-year-old daughter, Ivanka, on the board, saying she always succeeds at whatever she does. Like the famous Playboy daughter of Hugh Hefner, Trump's daughter seems to be taking a very prominent place in his business ventures – he even sent her to Fresno, California to negotiate a major land purchase, but alas the sellers wanted too much. There were even rumors that she would replace Rosie on "The View" and, therefore, vindicate her father in the famous debate between Rosie and Trump. In the meantime, he finally made it onto the Strip in Las Vegas and put his name on a building – not a casino, but a building on the Strip, nevertheless.

Heiress and former runway model Ivanka Trump is joining the board of the gaming company that bears her flamboyant father's name. Ivanka Trump will join the board of Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. She currently is a vice president with the Trump Organization, which controls Trump hotels, real estate holdings and golf courses, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, one of the nation's top business schools. (Hinesberg Journal, 7-14-07)

New York developer Donald Trump has seen his name affixed to skyscrapers and buildings in some 50 cities in the United States and abroad. However, the billionaire real estate magnate got a little sentimental knowing his name was finally going to fly above the Strip. The $1.2 billion Trump International Hotel & Tower reached a construction milestone Tuesday when a 20-foot-tall T was lifted 640-feet by a crane and attached to the top of the building. By the end of the week, it's expected the R, U, M, and P should take their places at the top of the south side of the tower, covering about 140 feet. Five more letters spelling out TRUMP are scheduled to go up on the north side of tower next week while the east and west sides of tower will receive large Ts. (Howard Stutz, Las Vegas Gaming Wire, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 7-25-07)

When a person decides to comment on a subject, it is sometimes as significant as what that person says. The sooner the comment occurs after an event, the more likely it is to be superficial and lacking the depth and detail that time provides. There are two sports gambling stories going around that illustrate the danger of jumping in too soon when the facts are as yet unknown and no one has been convicted of anything – except, of course, in the press.

Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons has been indicted for dog fighting, and Tim Donaghy, an NBA referee, is being investigated for gambling on basketball including games he refereed. These two stories have dominated the sports news and taken up considerable space in the mainstream news as well. We could throw in a third story – this year's Tour de France and its doping crisis – but it isn't really an American story and hasn't received very much attention outside of Europe. Michael Vick and the dog fighting is not so much about gambling as it is about fighting dogs, animal cruelty, and bad judgment. If he is found guilty it will impact his career, his team's immediate future, and maybe some other players who might also fight dogs or wager on dog fights, but it will not affect football in general or have implications for sports betting or Las Vegas casinos.

The other case is a horse of a different color. It is about gambling, and if Donaghy is found guilty, there most certainly will be implications far beyond one man and his future. Gambling and sports share one common trait – trust in the integrity of the event. Sports have rules and it is assumed that all participants are playing by the same rules. In wagering the assumption is that no one knows the outcome in advance, and the game will be played according to the rules – by everyone in the game.

David Stern insisted allegations a former referee bet on games was an isolated case and called it the worst situation he had experienced during his tenure as commissioner…The FBI is investigating former referee Tim Donaghy for allegedly betting on games he officiated during the last two seasons…"We understand he's accused of betting on games in the NBA," Stern said. "We're not positive it's games he worked." However, he said, there still was the possibility that Donaghy did gamble on games he worked and that was part of the investigation. "I understand that he will likely be accused of providing information to others for the purpose of allowing them to profit by betting on NBA games," he said. (Associated Press, New York Newsday, 7-24-07)

Michael Vick is scheduled to appear in federal court in Richmond tomorrow. Vick will be arraigned on federal charges of conspiring to engage in dog fighting. City officials have been preparing for the hearing for nearly a week now… The U.S. Marshall Service has called on Richmond and Capitol Police to help control the massive crowd expected tomorrow. Portions of several streets are being shut down to make way for animal rights activists, Vick supporters, and others drawn by curiosity. (Roanoke WDBJ7, 7-25-07)

Tour de France leader Michael Rasmussen was dropped from the race by his cycling team in a dispute involving missed drug tests, a Tour spokesman said… The Rabobank team hasn't decided whether it will continue in the race tomorrow, team spokesman Jacob Bergsma told Agence France Presse. The Cofidis team exited the race yesterday after one of its riders failed a doping test. The Astana team dropped out two days ago after its leader, pre-race favorite Alexander Vinokourov, failed a test for blood doping. (Alex Duff, Bloomberg, 7-26-07)

The debate rages on without any further information, detail or evidence. The NBA and all major sports are looking at their regulations, controls and policies in an attempt to eliminate the influence of gambling on the outcome of sports. They all want the impact of gambling – it puts people in the seats, buying logo laced products and watching on television. It is only the influence on the outcome that everyone, including the legitimate bookmakers – and they all work in Las Vegas by legal necessity – wants to avoid.

That is where the story starts to get off track from my point of view. The NBA already forbids – that's right, they forbid – referees from going to casinos. Off season, during the season, anytime, all the time; just how a casino can corrupt an official is not exactly made clear. What is clear is the implication that casinos are illegal, illegitimate and corrupting. And immediately there have been cries to ban sports betting, to keep all casinos from any relationship with any sport – much like the NFL's efforts to keep Las Vegas out of advertising on the Super Bowl or holding Super Bowl parties. No Nevada book would risk its license over a game.

During the off-season, referees are permitted to bet at racetracks or attend shows at casinos, as long as they do not enter a casino gaming area. "We can't even walk across the casino floor."

An eight-page pamphlet distributed by the National Basketball Association to its referees before last season delineates a wide range of prohibitions against various forms of gambling, including rules that led the league to investigate the referee Tim Donaghy two years ago…According to the pamphlet given to all referees, titled "Bad Bet: Understanding the N.B.A.'s Anti-Gambling Rules," all players and league personnel are barred from gambling on any league game, including those in which they do not participate. Rules for referees go considerably further. They are prohibited from "participating in any gambling or placing bets of any kind." Officials are barred from visiting or attending "any racetrack, off-track betting establishment, casino or gambling establishment of any kind." Violating the rules subjects the referee "to discipline by the N.B.A., including termination of his or her employment." (Alan Schwarz, New York Times, 7-24-07)

NBA scandal prompts the usual media hand-wringing about Las Vegas One example comes from Newsday's Ken Berger, who instructed the NBA commissioner: "Here is the first thing Stern must do: Wipe Las Vegas off the NBA map for good." (John L. Smith, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 7-24-07)

Veteran NBA referee Tim Donaghy probably has a closet full of striped shirts. Now it appears he'll be getting pants to match. News that the NBA official was implicated in a cheating scheme makes me cringe, but not for the usual reasons. Not because it's surprising to learn a professional sports referee is susceptible to corruption. It's no shock. In leagues where players and coaches make millions, officials are arguably the most vulnerable -- especially if they have a heavy gambling history. Not because it's mortifying for the league's image-conscious commissioner to admit one of his referees has been slow dancing with illegal bookies and aspiring knuckle-draggers, although it is. Surely Commissioner David Stern will have something glib to say on this matter. The Donaghy news made me cringe for this reason: Whenever a betting scandal breaks, hand-wringing from the national media about Nevada's legalized sports book industry soon follows. It never fails. In this case, it took about five seconds for some writer to reach the conclusion that Las Vegas shouldn't have an NBA franchise because an NBA referee has gambled…Nor does it make sense to vilify Las Vegas because it's known as a fun destination for wealthy NBA players and a popular place for exhibition games. Hate to break the news to the hand-wringers, but gambling is an everyday part of American life. Its down sides are dark, dramatic and well documented, but casino gambling and betting on sports are part of the culture. The difference between Las Vegas and elsewhere is sports betting is legal here. And regulated. And watched by sports book directors whose careers hang on their ability to maintain profitability and track odd movements in the betting line. The last thing a Strip sports book operation wants is to lose a bundle on a fixed game. (John L. Smith, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 7-24-07)

None of the betting this referee or other referees or players do on games is done in Vegas. They have bookies – like Pete Rose, a personal bookie, an account and a pronounced daily betting pattern. Those patterns would be reported to the league if they were happening in Vegas. Illegal betting is just that, illegal. It is done online or with illegal bookies. The league and the other leagues have to take their heads out of the sand and face the real problems and causes: Vegas is not the problem or the cause, guys. Give it a rest!

Across the board, gaming revenues were up with two exceptions, New Jersey and Delaware. Both of those states are adjusting to increased competition and both share another common characteristic: smoking has been banned in casinos in both states. They are the leading edge of the trend in gaming. Colorado and Illinois will be next. Next to new casinos moving into an adjacent state and a jurisdiction's primary feeder market, smoking legislation may be the most challenging trend casinos will be facing. It is too soon to predict the impact on gaming revenues. In Delaware, revenues initially dropped 15-20 percent, but eventually recovered. New Jersey is going to be facing a double whammy – competition is increasing significantly (competition without the same smoking restrictions) and smoking bans. The remainder of 2007 and 2008 will be challenging times for Atlantic City.

Atlantic City: June gaming revenue fell 1.9% to $419.8 million. (Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 7-16-07)

Colorado: June gaming revenue rose 8.6% to $68.9 million. (Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 7-23-07)

Delaware: June gaming revenue fell 3.2% although that was all due to the 7.5% decline at Delaware Park. Harrington Raceway was up 1.3% and Dover Downs was up 0.1%. (Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 7-16-07)

Detroit: June gaming revenue rose 3%. (Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 7-23-07)

Connecticut: July slot win rose 1% to $ 160.3 million. (New London Day, 8-15-06)

Florida: June gaming revenue came in at $16.6 million with an average win per day per slot of $140, down 6.1% from May. (Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 7-16-07)

Illinois: June gaming revenue rose 8.3% to $165 million. (Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 7-16-07)

Indiana: June gaming revenue rose 9.1% to $221.7 million, 4.5% on a same store basis. (Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 7-16-07)

Iowa: gaming revenue rose 10.9% in June to $113.2 million with a same store gain of 3.4%. (Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 7-16-07)

Louisiana: June gaming revenue rose 2.8% to $219.6 million. (Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 7-23-07)

Mississippi: June casino revenues rose 18.7% to $236.2 million. Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 7-27-07

Missouri: June revenue rose 3.9% to $134 million. (Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 7-16-07)

Nevada: May casino revenue rose 1.5% to $1.14 billion. (Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 7-27-07)

Pennsylvania: June gaming revenue rose to $90.9 million but the win per day of $312 was down 4.2% compared with last month. (Alan R. Woinski, Gaming Industry Weekly Report, 7-16-07)

Ken Adams

Ken Adams is the principal in the gaming consulting firm, Ken Adams and Associates. Formed in 1990, Ken Adams and Associates specializes in information, analysis, and strategic planning for Indian tribes, casino operations and gaming manufacturers.

Ken spent over 20 years in the hotel-casino industry, prior to founding Ken Adams and Associates. He held the positions of: Director of Casino Operations, Casino Manager, and Keno Department Manager. During this time, he developed numerous innovative marketing and customer development programs and systems for evaluating casino performance. Some of those programs, such as slot clubs and tournaments, have become industry standards.

Ken is also actively involved in gathering and disseminating information that is important to the gaming industry. He is editor and publisher of and the Adams' Report, a monthly newsletter specializing in identifying trends in casino gaming, regulation and manufacturing, the Adams Daily Report, an electronic newsletter that provides electronic links to the key gaming stories of the day, and the Adams Review, a special report distributed by Compton Dancer Consulting that provides editorial commentary on gaming trends.
Ken Adams
Ken Adams is the principal in the gaming consulting firm, Ken Adams and Associates. Formed in 1990, Ken Adams and Associates specializes in information, analysis, and strategic planning for Indian tribes, casino operations and gaming manufacturers.

Ken spent over 20 years in the hotel-casino industry, prior to founding Ken Adams and Associates. He held the positions of: Director of Casino Operations, Casino Manager, and Keno Department Manager. During this time, he developed numerous innovative marketing and customer development programs and systems for evaluating casino performance. Some of those programs, such as slot clubs and tournaments, have become industry standards.

Ken is also actively involved in gathering and disseminating information that is important to the gaming industry. He is editor and publisher of and the Adams' Report, a monthly newsletter specializing in identifying trends in casino gaming, regulation and manufacturing, the Adams Daily Report, an electronic newsletter that provides electronic links to the key gaming stories of the day, and the Adams Review, a special report distributed by Compton Dancer Consulting that provides editorial commentary on gaming trends.