A study by environmental engineers at Stanford University shows second-hand smoke in California’s Indian casinos often exceeds concentrations associated with harmful effects.

The study was published online last month in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology following a year-long investigation in which engineers studied smoke particle concentrations during busy evenings in 36 casinos. It found that even many non-smoking areas within the buildings contained smoke concentrations several times those found in outdoor air.

Over more than a year, the researchers discreetly made smoke particle measurements in various locations at each casino on weekends and holidays - times when casinos were most likely to be crowded. Sampling each location for 30 to 60 minutes, the engineers used compact monitors that measure smoke particles in the surrounding air every 10 seconds.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s health-based standard for fine particles is an average of 35 micrograms per cubic meter over a 24-hour period. This concentration level was exceeded in 90 percent of the casinos the researchers visited.

“We did this study to warn the public that where they go and what they do in their everyday lives can impact their health,” said Lynn Hildemann, a senior author of the study and an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Of the almost 60 casinos operating in California, 98 percent allow smoking.



CHRISTIE GETS IDEAS ON HOW TO SAVE AC

  Casino regulatory reform, a public-private Atlantic City marketing initiative and possible state intervention in city government are among the ideas a transition team has offered to new Gov. Chris Christie to save New Jersey’s ailing casino industry.

The Press of Atlantic City reported that Christie released 19 transition team reports containing recommendations for reducing and reforming state government. The detailed proposals include making Atlantic and Pacific avenues in Atlantic City one-way streets, accelerating Atlantic City International Airport expansion and building an Atlantic City Expressway interchange for the airport and a new aviation research facility.

Another idea proffered, but not endorsed, calls for privatizing the state lottery and having it work with New Jersey racetracks, which have sought to install video lottery terminals.

The report also calls for consolidating New Jersey’s declining racing operations.

Christie takes over a state government facing a $9 billion to $10 billion budget deficit. The transition team reports call for consolidating some agencies and authorities and getting rid of others. Among the other ideas proposed are ending subsidies for the state’s public television station, setting a sales-tax holiday, removing municipal-budget caps and cutting affordable-housing requirements.

Christie said the reports were “full of bold ideas and recommendations for change from a bipartisan group of individuals from the private and public sectors,” and added he will carefully consider them.



LAS VEGAS SANDS REPORTS INCREASE IN REVENUE, EARNINGS

Las Vegas Sands reported $1.28 billion in net revenue for the fourth quarter ended December 31, an increase of 17.5 percent over the same period in 2008.

Consolidated adjusted property EBITDAR increased 25.5 percent to $306.2 million, resulting in operating income of $43.9 million, compared to an operating loss of $34.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, an increase of $78.3 million.

The increase was principally due to stronger gaming volumes and the continued realization of cost savings and efficiency initiatives, the Las Vegas-based company said.

Adjusted net income increased $38.7 million to $20.9 million, or 3 cents per diluted share, compared to an adjusted net loss of $17.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, which equated to a loss of 4 cents per diluted share.

Full year 2009 net revenue increased 3.9 percent year over year to $4.56 billion. Adjusted net income was $48.2 million, an increase of 7.6 percent.

On a GAAP basis, the company experienced a loss attributable to the stock of $540.1 million, compared with a net loss of $188.8 million in 2008. The increase was driven mostly by increases in non-cash impairment losses, losses on early retirement of debt, preferred stock dividends and accretion of preferred stock, partially offset by increased revenue and decreased interest expense, the company said.



MGM MIRAGE POSTS SMALLER 4Q LOSS



MGM Mirage recorded a smaller fourth-quarter loss but failed to live up to many analysts’ predictions for the period.

Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said the company has “profoundly improved our cost structure” and is “actively building revenue to maximize operating leverage as the economy shifts into recovery mode.”

 The Las Vegas-based casino giant posted a loss of $433.9 million, or 98 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $1.15 billion, or $4.15 a share, which included a $1.2 billion write-down.

Excluding a one-time charge to downgrade the value of its undeveloped Atlantic City land and other items, the loss was 21 cents per share. Revenue declined 11 percent to $1.45 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected a loss of 13 cents per share, according to an Associated Press report.

Hotel occupancy has been flat, the company said, and there has been heavy discounting on room rates, particularly in Las Vegas. Occupancy rates in Las Vegas rose to 86 percent from 85 percent in the fourth quarter, but the average daily rate declined 18 percent. MGM Mirage added thousands of rooms to the market when it opened its $8.5 billion CityCenter development in December.

Murren noted, however, that pace of forward convention bookings accelerated in the fourth quarter with more than 440,000 future room nights booked.

“This has been a challenging but momentous year for MGM Mirage, culminating with the opening of CityCenter in December,” Murren said. “We generated significant cash flows and kept our buildings occupied at 90 percent even in a brutal economy.”



ONTARIO EXTENDS PACT WITH RAMA INDIANS



Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission has reached a 20-year agreement with Rama First Nation to keep operating Casino Rama, near Orillia, in the Canadian province.

The deal between the Chippewas of Mnjikaning and the provincial agency will take effect Aug. 1, 2011, the same time that a new C$3 billion revenue-sharing deal with Ontario First Nations kicks in.

The new agreement also includes additional financial benefits and one-time funding of $2.3 million for a new training and development center in Rama, home to about 1,500 residents.

The Ontario government takes a 20 percent cut of gross revenues from all its casinos, but 133 Ontario First Nations divide up the net profit from Casino Rama.

Casino Rama has had more than $5.2 billion in gross revenues and profits of about $500 million since it opened in 1996.

About 500 of Casino Rama’s 3,000 employees are aboriginal, making it the largest single-site employer of First Nations in Canada.



BALLY, N.Y. LOTTERY SIGN NEW CONTRACT

Bally Technologies has signed a seven-year contract to extend its current term with the New York Lottery to continue providing video gaming terminals to the state’s eight racetrack casinos.

The contract extension runs through the end of 2017.

Bally has a 51 percent market share in New York, where it provides more than 6,400 racino VGTs.

Bally, one of three video gaming providers in the state, has had a partnership with the New York Lottery since January 2004.



LAS VEGAS SANDS REPORTS INCREASE IN REVENUE, EARNINGS

 

Las Vegas Sands reported $1.28 billion in net revenue for the fourth quarter ended December 31, an increase of 17.5 percent over the same period in 2008.

Consolidated adjusted property EBITDAR increased 25.5 percent to $306.2 million, resulting in operating income of $43.9 million, compared to an operating loss of $34.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, an increase of $78.3 million.

The increase was principally due to stronger gaming volumes and the continued realization of cost savings and efficiency initiatives, the Las Vegas-based company said.

Adjusted net income increased $38.7 million to $20.9 million, or 3 cents per diluted share, compared to an adjusted net loss of $17.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, which equated to a loss of 4 cents per diluted share.

Full year 2009 net revenue increased 3.9 percent year over year to $4.56 billion. Adjusted net income was $48.2 million, an increase of 7.6 percent.

On a GAAP basis, the company experienced a loss attributable to the stock of $540.1 million, compared with a net loss of $188.8 million in 2008. The increase was driven mostly by increases in non-cash impairment losses, losses on early retirement of debt, preferred stock dividends and accretion of preferred stock, partially offset by increased revenue and decreased interest expense, the company said.



THE SLIDE CONTINUES AT LAKE LAS VEGAS



Casino Montelago at the upscale Lake Las Vegas resort community is closing its doors this month, another victim of the ailing economy.

More than 170 employees will lose their jobs at the Henderson, Nev., casino, which has 635 slot machines, 12 table games, a race and sports book and two restaurants.

The closure is a result of an earlier decision to shutter the Ritz Carlton luxury hotel next door. Another 340 employees at the Ritz Carlton will lose their jobs when that hotel closes May 2. Of all 73 Ritz Carlton hotels, the recession reportedly was felt hardest at the Lake Las Vegas property.

Casino Montelago opened in 2003 at the 3,600-acre residential, hotel and golf resort development 20 miles southeast of the Las Vegas Strip. Lake Las Vegas has been in bankruptcy reorganization since 2008 after Santa Barbara, Calif.-based developer Transcontinental Corp. defaulted on a $540 million loan with Credit Suisse.



BALLY, N.Y. LOTTERY SIGN NEW CONTRACT

 

Bally Technologies has signed a seven-year contract to extend its current term with the New York Lottery to continue providing video gaming terminals to the state’s eight racetrack casinos.

The contract extension runs through the end of 2017.

Bally has a 51 percent market share in New York, where it provides more than 6,400 racino VGTs.

Bally, one of three video gaming providers in the state, has had a partnership with the New York Lottery since January 2004.