Inside Gaming: LV Hilton Loses its Name, Cantor Gaming Deal with Sands, and More
This week Inside Gaming looks at three different licensing deals that were recently announced. The Las Vegas Hilton needs a new name after 40 years since the Hilton is ending its franchise agreement with the money-losing property. Cantor Gaming is making its deal with the Las Vegas Sands more permanent. And Full House Resorts is lining up new deals to replace its operating agreement with a Delaware casino that runs out at the end of the summer.
Hilton to Terminate Franchise License Deal with Las Vegas Hilton
Hilton Worldwide informed the Las Vegas Hilton last week that it plans to end its franchise license agreement with the property on Jan. 1, 2012, forcing the hotel-casino to change its name and loyalty program. The Las Vegas Hilton, now owned by Colony Resorts LVH Acquisitions LLC, has held its current name since 1971. The most recent license agreement, signed in 2009, was set to expire at year's end and allowed either party to terminate the contract anytime after Jan. 1, 2011.
No reason was given for the decision, but the Las Vegas Hilton has struggled since the economic downturn and is located on the north end of the Strip, an area suffering from unfinished projects, empty lots, and the recent closing of the Sahara. Colony Resorts lost $3.3 million in the first quarter of 2011, a bigger loss than the $2 million it dropped in the same quarter of 2010. David Schwartz, directer of the Center of Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that having to change its name means extra expenses for the Las Vegas Hilton "at a time when it doesn't have much, if any, money to spare."
Sixteen other properties in Las Vegas bear the name of one of Hilton's brands, including Hilton Grand Vacations, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites, Hampton Inn, and Hilton Garden. Schwartz suggested that the "Hilton might just affiliate with an existing casino, like Cosmopolitan with Marriott. The Tropicana might be a good candidate, as might Treasure Island or even the Stratosphere."
A spokesman for the Las Vegas Hilton said it is in discussions with other hotel brands and expects to form a new partnership before the Jan. 1 deadline. He also did not rule out negotiating a new deal with Hilton Worldwide. The Las Vegas Hilton, once known as the Vegas home of Elvis Presley, was built in 1969 by Kirk Kerkorian and named the International Hotel. It was purchased by Hilton Hotels Corp. in 1970 and renamed the Las Vegas Hilton a year later. Since then, the property has changed ownership several times, most recently in 2004, when Park Place Entertainment sold it to Colony Capital for $280 million.
Cantor Gaming Inks Deal with Venetian and Palazzo as Sports Books Prepare for Sparse Seasons
Cantor Gaming signed a long-term agreement last week to operate the race and sports books at the Venetian and Palazzo casinos, both owned by the Las Vegas Sands Corp. Cantor currently leases its mobile gaming units to both properties but will now expand its operations and upgrade the sports book at the Venetian. The successful Lagasse's Stadium at the Palazzo will remain untouched. Cantor specializes in offering "in-running" wagers, allowing gamblers to place bets on sporting events already in progress.
"We have committed to a multimillion dollar investment in building out the sports book at the Venetian to create a spectacular new sports trading environment," said Cantor Gaming President and CEO Lee Amaitis. Cantor Gaming also operates the race and sports books at the Cosmopolitan, the Hard Rock, M Resort, and the Tropicana.
In 2008, the Venetian became the first Las Vegas location to use Cantor's mobile gaming technology to allow patrons to place bets and play other casino games anywhere on the gaming floor. Cantor is behind the push to pass legislation in Nevada allowing hotel guests to use the devices to place bets from their hotel rooms. The Nevada Gaming Commission will vote this year on the bill.
Sports books could be in trouble this year if the NFL and NBA lockouts aren't resolved. The NFL accounts for about 35 percent of all bets placed in Las Vegas sports books, Johnny Avello, executive director of the Wynn's race and sports books, told the Las Vegas Sun. "The NFL is a commodity that everyone loves," he said. "It's an event people look forward to on Sundays. You can't overlook the overall impact to the revenue of this town. A lot of people need those Sundays to make ends meet."
Full House Resorts to Take Over Operation of Lake Tahoe Casino
Full House Resorts announced Thursday that it is leasing the Grand Lodge Casino at the Hyatt Regency in Lake Tahoe, giving the Las Vegas-based company a second location in Nevada. Full House also owns the Stockman's Casino in Fallon, Nevada, and manages several Midwestern Indian casinos.
Full House signed a five-year deal with Hyatt Equities to pay monthly rent of $125,000 in addition to $600,000 in up-front costs and liability coverage. The casino, which brought in net revenue of $12.5 million in all of 2010, has 260 slot machines, 25 table games, and a sports book. It is significantly smaller than some of Full House's other properties, the largest of which is the FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek, Michigan.
Full House was searching for new properties to manage since its management contract with a Delaware casino expires in August. The company also recently signed a deal with the Pueblo of Pojoaque to manage its Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Full House CEO Andre Hilliou said the company hopes to take over operations of the Grand Lodge Casino by September, pending Nevada Gaming Commission approval.
Casino City Times has the details.
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*Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Sun