A spiffy makeover and a nostalgia-themed market position aren’t helping the Riviera as customers gravitate back toward higher-priced hotels. A bad neighborhood, while hardly a new phenomenon, isn’t helping. Having Echelon and...
A spiffy makeover and a nostalgia-themed market position aren’t helping the Riviera as customers gravitate back toward higher-priced hotels. A bad neighborhood, while hardly a new phenomenon, isn’t helping. Having Echelon and Fontainebleau as your neighbors is akin to living next to a cemetery and a slum, respectively. “We anticipate that our walk-in traffic will be adversely impacted for the foreseeable future,” read a gloomy SEC filing from the Riv. That’s one helluva bleak prospect for a casino exec to contemplate.
First-quarter losses almost doubled, to $7.5 million (at a time when business should be at its best and the balance of the Strip was flourishing) and casino revenues fell 29%. Perhaps that move toward Asian-friendly play, with more emphasis on baccarat, has proven unlucky for the house. Then again, room revs were 25% down and F&B fell a walloping 40%. Riviera President Andy Choy better get affairs in order or he’s going to be updating his resume.
Dicey dossier: Vegas-based Galaxy Gaming has a fateful, July 11 date with the California Gambling Control Commission, which is looking askance at the company and especially CEO Robert Saucier. An administrative judge determined that Saucier had demonstrated “a lack of honesty and integrity” and may have engaged in some jiggery-poker at the Mars Hotel & Casino, in Spokane, Washington. If you’ve never heard of it, that may be because it burned down in 1999 under suspicious circumstances. Saucier’s background, the judge ruled, was sufficient cause to deny him a California license, although he has been acting as an equipment provider to Golden State tribal casinos, uneventfully, for the past 14 years. His products — at least in Class III markets — include the TableMAX automated blackjack game. In California, he stands accused of pocketing side fees and falsifying official documents, charges Saucier denies That being said, Saucier has been remarkably thrifty with the truth, as a profoundly damning bill of particulars indicates. To cite one instance, a misdemeanor drunk-driving charge was erroneously listed as a dismissal. That hardly seems like the sort of thing one would forget. In many other instances, when asked for material information, Saucier simply didn’t provide it — not even that he held a Nevada gaming license. (Also a memorable accomplishment, you’d think.) Oh, and he fibbed about his college degree. Such a peccadillo get the accomplished and admired J. Terrence Lanni hounded from the industry, but it’s practically an afterthought to Saucier’s litany of alleged dubious accomplished, the merest bagatelle. Believe me, I’m just scratching the surface of the Saucier File, filled as it is with a maze of shell companies and lawsuits.
My favorite is a 1998 court case in which Saucier sued the Mars Hotel (i.e., himself) and received a default judgment. Perhaps that was how he intended to get out from under a six-figure judgment to Sherron Associates. (“I don’t have the money, your Honor. The Mars Hotel & Casino does.”) Who knows? So, uh, colorful a character would — you’d think have a date with Nevada Gaming Control Board if California pulls his license. Not so. When Vegas Inc. brought the matter to the attention of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Chairman A.G. Burnett all but yawned in the reporter’s face: “Other states sometimes have vastly different laws and regulatory standards than we do. There are cases when a ‘denial’ doesn’t mean the same thing as it does in Nevada.” Burnett sleepily assured the newspaper that his investigators would get in touch with California ones, wrote Vegas Inc. staffers, “to find out more about the allegations and see if they warrant further probing here.” Gee, ya think? Burnett’s not-so-implicit message was, What happens elsewhere didn’t happen.