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Circa picketed; Sundry green shoots in Vegas; Sports book busted

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If you cruise by Circa, you’re liable to see members of Teamsters Local 986 walking a picket line on behalf of the ‘Circa Seven,’ a group of unfortunate warehouse workers. The seven were employed by Derek Stevens‘ Three Corners company, which services Circa. What caused the Circa Seven to get the axe? According to the Teamsters, it discovered they were pursuing union membership and gave them the chop. “The Circa Seven came to work, informed that their jobs were ‘outsourced’ to [subcontractor] QLI and then fired without warning,” claims Local 986 Secretary-Treasurer Chris Griswold. “It is heartless of this company to displace its own workers during the worst health crisis in a century.” If you agree with the Teamsters, you can make your feelings known online. If you side with Stevens, you of course don’t need to do anything … except maybe cross a picket line.

<p>Room rates on the Las Vegas Strip were tanking this time last year, so maybe improvement is in eye of the beholder but they continue to trend upward. For April 18-24 they’re 28% higher, averaging $129/night, including an encouraging 2% improvement in weekday rates (weekends are up an eye-popping 73%). Mind you, at that time last year the averages were -33% midweek, -56% weekend and -44% overall. Caesars Entertainment is seeing a 23% midweek climb and a 106% improvement on the weekend. Venelazzo leapt 185% weekends and 50% weekdays. Convention-dependent MGM Resorts International saw only a 1% midweek nudge, plus a 70% weekend uptick, while Wynncore tumbled 26% midweek, even on such an easy comparison, and bumped up just 12% on the weekend. Was it too soon for Encore to reopen?</p>        <p>Southern Nevadans are also saving their money at record rates, considered an augury of economic rebound. The Nevada Credit Union League declares that “the economy is poised to outperform original expectations.” That’s reassuring. NCUL continued, “many economists are forecasting that ALL consumer/household income-tiers could likely spend money at faster paces (in aggregate) than the initial two rounds of federal payments last year since state/local COVID-19 business, retail, event, and gathering restrictions are steadily loosening (in combination with quicker local job growth). This is in addition to paying down debt and saving money.” Not only had credit-union deposits doubled 4Q19 levels by the end of last year, refinancing of home and vehicle loans continued apace, to take advantage of “historically low” interest rates. Paycheck Protection Program recipients also swelled membership ranks. Deposits in checking and savings accounts were growing by as much as 30%. Much of this was hoarding of money by people who were receiving unemployment insurance and/or stimulus payments but it is regarded as a plus sign. We’re always hearing about “pent-up demand.” Las Vegas locals have the pent-up money to go with it.</p>    <img width="960" height="744" src=" 960w, 150w, 300w, 768w" alt="" /><p>Speaking of pent-up demand, our Atlantic City correspondent saw plenty of it last weekend, reporting “crowded” conditions at Borgata and Ocean Casino Resort. The former has a new ‘buffet’ regime in the Borgata Players Lounge whereby you order food off a menu. The lounge cuisine “is still very good, but not excellent as it was when it was ‘The Borgata’ with Boyd‘s co-ownership.” Not much to be said for Tropicana Atlantic City, “which was crowded and none of their restaurants inside the casino were open. Their gift shop was a ‘time machine’ from 3-4 years ago. No point getting new stuff until the people buy the old stuff.” (That’s no way to incentivize customers, Caesars.) Speaking of the Roman Empire falling on evil days, our friend then went to Harrah’s Philadelphia. “The part near the entrance was crowded, the rear portion was near empty. Their [William Hill] sports book had 2 customers, and their Top Swing Golf was closed. If you like old IGT/Aristocrat/WMS slot machines, this is your kind of casino. Their Diamond Player’s Club Lounge never re-opened (their buffet was removed about a half dozen years ago). We ate at their Philly Tap restaurant, with a Delaware River view, which used to be branded as Guy Fieri’s.” At least we are reliably told that the portion sizes are double what you can expect from Philadelphia Live, at lower prices.</p>    <p>Whilst on the subject of Cordish Gaming, it’s on a roll. Richmond, Virginia, made its first cull of casino applicants and Cordish was one of three left standing, along with nascent Bally’s Corp. and favorite son Urban One/Peninsula Pacific. It obviously didn’t hurt Cordish’s chances that it is fresh off two successful casino openings in Pennsylvania. If them that has gets, then Urban One (profiled last week) will receive the nod. Bally’s <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">is more of an acquirer</a> than a developer, so there’s that, while Cordish has the most impressive resumé by far when it comes to building from the ground up. Congratulations to all and may the best company win. (That wouldn’t include Golden Nugget, a surprise loser in the bidding war.)</p>    <p>Blame it on the Super Bowl. Or not. Like all other states that have reported February sports-betting numbers, handle was down significantly and sequentially in Tennessee. Punters bet $176 million, compared to January’s $211 million. Revenue was $13 million. Super Bowl handle was a measly $15 million, which generated $3 million in win for the books. One sports book has been sidelined—homegrown Action 24/7, hit with allegations of money laundering and proxy betting. (One person registered 45 out-of-state accounts.)  If you had deposited funds from Action 24/7, you’re SOL, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">at least for the time being.</a> “It’s too early to know for certain if news of a suspended license will shake bettor confidence in the state, and Action 24/7’s suspension is a reminder that regulated sportsbooks need to be vigilant in fostering trust,” said PlayUSA analyst Jessica Welman. We don’t think BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel are losing any sleep over the matter. They keep their noses clean and, besides, it’s one less competitor.</p>    <p><em>Jottings</em>: Not to rain on Virgin Las Vegas‘ parade but the best it could do for an opening-night celebrity was Mario Lopez, along with sundry “reality” TV stars too sordid to mention here … Just when things were looking good for Mohegan Gaming Entertainment, CEO Mario Kontomerkos <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">is suddenly departing</a>. Trying to keep pace with the current executive movements at MGE is enough to make your head spin  … Those on-again/off-again compact negotiations between the Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida are in one of their “on” phases, so it will be very interesting to see what contingencies the Seminoles (who hold the upper hand) insist upon … Finally, what’s being MGM’s dainty new habit of referring to March Madness as “March Matchups”? It just looks weak, guys.</p>    

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