It’s all about casinos in this week’s installment of Inside Gaming. Starting in Atlantic City, the purchaser of the old Revel Casino — now called TEN — has announced plans to reopen part of the property in June, two different casinos catch fire in Las Vegas (with no injuries, thankfully), and Connecticut tribes and others continue to battle over casino expansion in Connecticut.
Owner Announces Another Opening Date for TEN
This week Glenn Straub, owner of the former Revel Casino in Atlantic City that closed in 2014 and has been renamed TEN, announced a plan to open the hotel-only portion of the property on June 15.
“If that sounds familiar, it is,” reports the Press of Atlantic City, adding that Straub made a similar announcement last year about a June 15, 2016 opening. He also previously announced a plan to open in February of this year.
Straub remains optimistic, however, and on Tuesday explained there would be 1,500-2,000 rooms open with a $4 million computer system up and running in the hotel.
However, before TEN can open Straub will still have “to meet several Casino Reinvestment Development Authority conditions, including providing a landscaping plan and traffic study,” neither of which have been provided.
Meanwhile Straub has not obtained a casino license, and has hopes that the New Jersey Superior Court will waive that requirement for his company as he has leased casino operations to another party. With that case still being decided, Straub wants to move ahead with the opening of the hotel.
Straub purchased the property in August 2015 for $82 million. Since then “Straub claimed it would open on several occasions. After each missed deadline, the wealthy developer claimed state and local agencies were holding up the opening.”
Visit the Press of Atlantic City for more regarding Straub’s plans for TEN.
Two Fires in Two Days at Las Vegas Casinos
The temperatures have yet to reach boiling conditions of summer out in Las Vegas, a climate with which annual visitors of the World Series of Poker are familiar. But things were nonetheless heating up last week with fires occurring at two different Vegas casinos.
A week ago Thursday saw a huge fire break out at the Bellagio along the rooftop of a shopping area. Dramatic videos were shared across social media, some showing flames visible through the famous Bellagio fountains continuing to operate.
Windy conditions forced employees to evacuate, with Las Vegas Boulevard even being shut down for a period while the fire was contained. No injuries were reported, and while the fire did not make its way inside the building the shops sustained an estimated $450,000 worth of damage.
According to the Clark County Fire Department, a faulty light fixture on an exterior wall was the cause of the fire, News3LV reports.
Thankfully the blaze was swiftly contained, as the outdoor rooftop area of the Bellagio is made of highly flammable styrofoam. “The material is used on properties all along The Strip to create the unique appearance seen on many of the rooftops,” explains News3LV.
Then on Friday night a smaller fire erupted downtown at the Golden Nugget Casino when an awning over the casino employee entrance caught fire.
According to KVVU-TV in Las Vegas, the fire was already extinguished by the time firefighters arrived. Some smoke filled the hallway connected to the entrance, but besides the awning no damage resulted, no one was hurt and hotel operations were unaffected. There was no estimate of the cost, with the fire’s cause later reported to be a burned out elevator motor.
Las Vegas history unfortunately includes several hotel fires, including one of the worst in U.S. history back in 1980 when an electrical fire at the old MGM Grand (now Bally’s) resulted in 85 fatalities and prompted many design changes at hotel-resorts to improve fire safety.
Pressure from All Sides in Connecticut Casino Expansion Debate
They’re still debating casino expansion in Connecticut, where legislators had another hearing this week to consider whether or not to allow the building of a casino in the state off of tribal lands, reports the Hartford Courant.
The Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans, operators of Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun, respectively, have partnered up to devise a plan for a new casino in East Windsor in the northern part of the state. Meanwhile MGM Resorts International is also part of the debate, arguing for “opening up the process to more potential casino operators” than the two tribes — including MGM.
Adding pressure to the situation is the ongoing construction of the MGM Springfield just across the northern border in Massachusetts, a $950 million resort casino scheduled to open in 2018. As reported here last spring, the prospect of the Springfield casino is prompting some in Connecticut to want to make a move soon in order for its casinos not to lose business.
Thus are lawmakers being asked to decide between a couple of alternatives — the tribes’ plan to build in East Windsor, and the MGM’s interest in building a casino in the southwestern part of the state “to tap into the New York market, where MGM does not have a presence.”
The current bill being considered is the third different one Connecticut lawmakers have looked at already this year. The first supported the tribes’ plan, the second MGM’s plan to open up the process to other operators, and this new one is also “framed to set up competition.”
“Since the debate over casino expansion in Connecticut began two years ago, three casinos have opened in New York, Springfield is well underway and Rhode Island has approved a casino in Tiverton, near the Massachusetts line,” explained the tribes’ consultant Clyde Barrow.
“Connecticut does not have luxury of time,” commented the state’s Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (who leans toward supporting the tribes). “In fact, the clock is ticking.”
Learn more about the complicated casino debate in Connecticut from the Hartford Courant.
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