Three companies were granted interactive gambling licenses by the Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday as the lineup for the state’s potential online poker market grew more crowded.
Commissioners licensed Boyd Gaming Corp., the Golden Nugget ownership and Fertitta Interactive — which includes the owners of Station Casinos and operators of Ultimate Fighting Championship — to launch online poker websites as soon as the technology is approved.
The website can be accessed only by people age 21 and older playing on computers or mobile devices within Nevada.
Boyd Gaming Executive Vice President Bob Boughner told gaming commissioners the company believes online poker in Nevada will be a $180 million a year business and would damage the state’s live poker business.
“The total revenues in the state from poker will be twice what they are today with online poker,” Boughner said.
The company has an agreement with bwin.party to operate online poker and the website can’t be launched until the European partner is licensed, which may not happen until early 2013.
Also, Fertitta Interactive is hoping to launch its for-pay Ultimate Gaming brand as soon as its technology, which the company owns through its purchase last year of Cyber Arts Licensing, is approved.
Echleon development remains in stasis
A Boyd Gaming Corp. executive told the Nevada Gaming Commission Thursday there has not been any catalyst on the Strip that would allow the company to complete the halted Echelon development.
During questioning over a request for an interactive gambling license in Nevada, Boyd Gaming Executive Vice President Bob Boughner said the company expects to complete a landscaping project to the hide the unfinished Strip resort by the end of December.
Boughner said Boyd hopes to complete a “decorative” wrap of the site’s steel and concrete structures by the first part of January.
“We believe the landscaping and wrap will take away from the temporary nature of the site,” Boughner said. “We’re embarking on a beautification of the site.”
Boyd Gaming halted construction of the planned $4.8 billion Echelon in August 2008.
The 87-acre Strip site, which was once home to the Stardust, was to include five hotels, a casino, retail, dining and other entertainment amenities.
Boughner told the gaming commission the company was evaluating new plans for Echelon, but the economy has not recovered sufficiently for the development to be restarted.
Culinary union leader in line to become new national president of UNITE HERE
Culinary Local 226 leader D. Taylor, who has been at the forefront of the Strip’s labor movement for more than 25 years, will be nominated at the end of November to become the national president of Washington, D.C.-based UNITE HERE.
John Wilhelm, the current UNITE HERE president, announced in an email message Wednesday he is stepping down, effective Nov. 29 at the general executive board meeting in Chicago, and he would nominate Taylor to replace him. The board is expected to vote on Wilhelm’s successor that day.
“I don’t underestimate the challenges facing UNITE HERE and the broader labor movement, but I am optimistic,” Wilhelm said in an Oct. 11 statement. “Our union is blessed with terrific leadership with very strong depth. It is time for a new generation to lead us into the future.”
UNITE HERE is the parent organization of the Culinary, which represents 60,000 hotel and restaurant workers on the Strip and downtown. The Culinary is the state’s single largest labor union.
Gambling law firm hires three N.J. attorneys
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck has expanded its gambling law practice to Atlantic City.
The national law firm, which is headquartered in Denver but centers its gambling law practice in Las Vegas, announced the hiring of three New Jersey-based gambling attorneys, Paul O’Gara, Pacifico “Pat” Agnellini and Dennis Daly.
The expansion allows Brownstein to position itself as the largest national gambling practice, with offices in both Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The gambling division is headed by longtime Las Vegas gambling attorney Frank Schreck, who merged his Las Vegas law office with Brownstein several years ago.
L.A.-to-Vegas party train proposed
A plan to build a 150-mph train from Las Vegas to Southern California has attracted national attention, but another rail proposal has chugged along on the theory that 60 mph is more fun.
Las Vegas Railway Express promoters started laying out the concept of using existing tracks between Las Vegas and Los Angeles for Amtrak-style service in March 2009. But recently they have unleashed a flurry of announcements related to what they say will be the start of service by the end of 2013.
What the company calls the X Train would run five days a week between a new terminal in downtown Las Vegas and Fullerton, Calif., near Disneyland. The trip would take about five hours to cover roughly 300 miles. The one-way fare would be $99, including food, drinks and a party atmosphere.
Race track/casino owner justifies Maryland casino fight
Penn National Gaming Chairman Peter Carlino said Thursday the company’s multimillion dollar gamble to defeat a casino expansion issue in Maryland has been worth the effort.
The regional casino operator, which owns the M Resort, has been the funding force behind the defeat of Maryland’s Question 7, which would allow a Las Vegas-style casino to be built in suburban Prince George’s County.
Carlino reiterated on a conference call with analysts that Penn is not opposed to the casino. However, the company believes its Rosecroft Raceway was a better location than the 350-acre National Harbor development. MGM Resorts International is financially backing passage of Question 7 and plans to build a $700 million casino complex at National Harbor, which is located along the Potomac River, about 10 miles from Washington, D.C.