WEEKLY AC REPORT: SECRET TRUMP HOTELS MEETING

By JOE WEINERT
For lasvegas.com Gaming Wire

ATLANTIC CITY
Monday, 12 Feb 2001

   While the Atlantic City casino industry presented a  unified front 
against a state legislative bill that would allow  casinos to offer 
Internet gambling, the Trump casinos were secretly checking out 
a similar form of at-home gambling.
   Home Network Gambling Inc. of Las Vegas gave a private 
demonstration of its live remote wagering system before Trump 
executives and two key state assemblymen.
   The meeting took place Wednesday, just days after the Casino 
Association of New Jersey, which represents all 12 of the city's 
casinos, announced its opposition to the Internet gambling bill.
   Mark Brown, chief operating officer of Trump Hotels & Casino 
Resorts, said he wasn't trying to undermine the industry trade group, 
of which he is vice president.
  "Other (casino) companies are light years ahead of us on the 
Internet and we're just trying to understand what's out there," he 
said, noting that Harrah's Entertainment and MGM Mirage offer 
play-for-fun or prizes gambling on the Internet.
   The Home Gambling Network is not an Internet casino, but if offers 
a similar experience.
  Gamblers on the system would use their telephones, the Internet or 
other electronic device to bet on actual, live casino table games. 
They could even view the game through a surveillance camera. Wagers 
would be placed through an instant bank-to-bank electronic transfer.
   A Home Gambling Network spokesman would not talk about the Trump 
meeting, and other attendees were mum until a newspaper story 
appeared about it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * 


   Nearly 9.1 million gamblers arrived at Atlantic City casinos on 
359,091 buses last year, according to the South Jersey Transportation 
Authority. Both figures represent a 4 percent decline over 1999.

   Busing is a vital component of Atlantic City's $4.3 billion gaming 
industry, representing more than one-quarter of their customers.
  To lure these gamblers, who arrive mostly from the Philadelphia and 
New York regions, casinos spend heavily on cash incentives. Through 
the first nine months last year, casinos doled out $117.2 million in 
cash to the bus customers - just for showing up.
   Occasionally, the bidding for customers gets out of hand - as it 
has this winter. As of Feb. 2, most casinos were paying bus customers 
$21 each. That prompted Tropicana to put out an unusual press 
release, announcing that it would lower its per-head price to $15.
   "I'm hoping the industry follows us down. All the places (casinos) 
would stay in the same relative position they are, but it would cost 
us all less," said Dennis Gomes, president of resort operations for 
Tropicana parent Aztar Corp.
   Pricey cash incentives serve only to steal market share, not 
attract more gamblers, casino executives say. However, casinos that 
dare buck the trend by lowering prices risk losing market share 
almost instantly.
   "There's no other (gaming) jurisdiction that spends bus coin like 
we do, and we have to get this under control," a disgusted Gomes said.
   Showboat and Bally's Park Place are the city's biggest busers, each 
having bused in more than 1 million gamblers in each of the past two 
years.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * 

   Park Place Entertainment and billionaire financier Carl Icahn have 
at least tentatively agreed to a securities swap mixed with cash, in 
which Icahn would give up his position in the Claridge and Park Place 
would give up its position in the Sands.
   Icahn owns 43 percent of the Claridge bonds and could block Park 
Place's attempt to buy Claridge through a bankruptcy plan of 
reorganization. Icahn's Sands two weeks ago gave up his bid to 
acquire Claridge.
   Park Place owns 7 percent of the stock and bonds in Sands. Icahn 
last year defeated Park Place in a bankruptcy duel for control of 
that casino.
   Neither party would confirm the securities swap, but people 
familiar with the transaction said both sides would exchange their 
securities and Park Place would also pay Icahn at least $20 million.
   U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Judith Wizmur set a May 1 confirmation 
hearing for the Claridge, which means that Park Place could formally 
take over by May 31.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * 

   Sun International Hotels said it will take a $229.2 million 
fourth-quarter charge on a write-down of Resorts Atlantic City, which 
it has agreed to sell to Harveys parent Colony Capital LLC.
   Bahamas-based Sun bought Resorts for $300 million more than four 
years ago and invested another $100 million into it. Now it's selling 
the aging casino hotel for $140 million. Sun President Butch Kerzner 
said he expects the sale to close by March 31.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * 

   Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts is still the dog of the gaming 
industry, according to the annual Fortune magazine survey of 
America's most admired companies.
   Trump placed 527th of 535 companies ranked in the overall listings, 
and last among the 10 in the Hotels, Casinos, Resorts category. Last 
year, Trump ranked 501st out of 504 companies.
   Marriott placed first in the lodging and gaming category, with MGM 
Mirage second, Park Place Entertainment fourth, Harrah's 
Entertainment fifth and Mandalay Resort Group eighth.
   Fortune provided overall rankings for only the top and bottom 10 
companies. Other firms were ranked only within their industries. Only 
the country's 1,000 largest companies are eligible for ranking, which 
was judged by an outside firm that surveyed executives, directors and 
analysts.
 

(Joe Weinert covers the gaming industry for The Press of Atlantic 
City. He can be reached at jweinert@pressplus.com)
 
 

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