New Jersey Governor Expecting $1 Billion From Online Gaming

Ultimate Casino
Ultimate Casino

New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, is at again. He’s blustering about gaming and spewing information that he can’t and won’t back up. If you remember, last year, Christie famously was going to legalize sports betting in New Jersey no matter what was legal.

“If someone wants to stop us, then let them try to stop us.”

That fight will continue to the Supreme Court. So much for Christie’s brash tone. While sports betting may not become legal in New Jersey any time soon online gaming just went live. It’s gone live in a big way with over 51,000 people signing up in the first few weeks.

More than 14,000 new online gambling accounts were created with Atlantic City casinos since Friday, bringing the total to 51,352 since a trial period started on Nov. 21.

Response for online gaming in New Jersey has been massive. For comparison Nevada has about 1,000 online poker players. Nevada is a much smaller state with no major cities like New York and Philadelphia bordering so take the comparison lightly – it’s just a reference.

It will be interesting to see how many of these accounts stay active and how many more will open in the next year. Chris Christie seems to think that online gaming will produce $1 Billion in revenue by July.

Gov. Chris Christie said today that he still expects online gambling in New Jersey to produce about $1 billion in casino revenue by July 1.

Nobody believes Christie will be right.

Industry analysts have said Christie’s projection — part of the current state budget, which anticipates $160 million in tax revenue from the venture — is far too optimistic….analysts said they expect about $300 million in revenue by this time next year.

In order for Chris Christie to be correct each of the 50,000 players that are signed up must lose $20,000 in 7 months. Even if sign ups double to 100,000 active players each would have to lose $10,000 in that period.

It’s not that this is a lofty goal but it’s irrational. Online gamblers traditionally play much lower limits than people who play in live casinos. You may be familiar with the term micros from the poker world.

I trust industry analysts more than I trust any politician. I hope his budget has a backup plan for the 70% of revenue shortfall that this line item will produce.

Las Vegas Is The Most Affordable Vacation In America

Aria Marquee At Night
Aria Marquee At Night

Last week Trip Advisor released their TripIndex list of the most affordable places to vacation in America and Las Vegas came in as the cheapest. How ’bout that?!

Among TripIndex Cities, Honolulu rings up the biggest tab as the most expensive U.S. destination with a TripIndex cost of $504.94, while Las Vegas offers the most affordable stay at $272.94.

Typically I find lists like this to be a waste for customers as they’re generated to sell something or gain traffic but Trip Advisor has been around long enough not to make me laugh at their lists. That’s not to say Trip Advisor isn’t using TripIndex to gain traffic but it’s generally the place everyone I know looks for travel reviews. Once you scrape through the 90% of reviews that are fake or people with an axe to grind there is useful information.

Prices for luxury hotels on the Vegas Strip and resort fees take the attention away from how affordable Vegas can still be for people if that’s what they want. I don’t always want a vacation on a budget but my hotel room at The D for my summer vacation is only $50 on a Saturday (My $40 room was pretty sweet). I’ll be using my fancy Platinum Total Rewards status to get free rooms at Flamingo for the rest of my time away. This will allow me to blow more money on steak and gambling. You can’t hate that!

Mid-range hotels in places like New York City, San Francisco and Hawaii will often cost a couple hundred dollars per night while the average daily cost for a room in Vegas is just over $100. Not too shabby.

The TripIndex list also has Miami and New Orleans on the cheapest places to vacation. I’m really not a fan of anywhere in Florida for vacation but I looooooove New Orleans and will always recommend that a place to visit. Beside great food, drink and culture they have casinos. Harrah’s is walking distance to just about every tourist area as well as Mother’s where you will get one of the best Po’ Boys in the city.

Play Ball! Not Slot Machines.

New York Mets Citi Field
Citi Field

Pitchers and catchers report to MLB spring training today! Baseball fans, like me, love this day. Not only does it signify that nice weather is around the corner but so is baseball season.

One of the newest baseball stadiums, Citi Field home to the New York Mets, was originally proposed to house a casino. Alas, that fell through.

The owners of the New York Mets reportedly wanted to take a gamble on owning a casino next to Citi Field, the home of their major league club.

Sterling Equities, the real estate company operated by Mets owner Fred Wilpon and family, pitched a casino adjacent to the major league stadium in September 2011 and offered the City of New York $100 million to acquire 62 acres for the site, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

It’s a shame that building a casino to go along with Citi Field fell through. It wouldn’t have been a full casino since casinos in New York City aren’t allowed to have table games yet.

This casino would just have slot machines and video poker but it would have combined two of my favorite things in the world baseball and casinos. It would give this Yankees fan an excuse to check out a new baseball stadium even if it meant sitting through the Muts.

There’s more on the potential of a Queens casino at the New York Post.



Rockin at Rampart Casino

It’s true, last week I was rockin at Rampart Casino. I’m a fairly regimented person. When I find something I like, I go there pretty often. Generally, I’m not the exploring type. I actually plan my exploration, like I did with my trip to Laughlin that I detailed on Vegas Chatter.

Well that pattern took a slight change last week. I needed to take in a beautiful day and decided to grab a smoothie and explore the Vegas burbs (Summerlin) until I finished my smoothie. Besides finding about 5 different golf courses and a road that just stopped being created (pics soon) I drove by Rampart Casino.

Rampart Casino is next to Suncoast Casino and north of where I live. I rarely head that way, so I never think to go there. When I was was exploring local casinos I didn’t consider it since it’s not associated with any casinos near the strip like Station Casinos (Red Rock Casino) or Boyd Gaming casinos (Suncoast).

After driving by Rampart Casino, I decided I’d check it out another day. Why not? It’s close even if it’s not a direction I normall travel. That night I looked at vpFREE to see what kind of  video poker games they have. They had 10 play nickel 9/6 Jacks or Better. I’ve never seen that before and although there’s not much money making, but there’s little at risk.

While checking out a new casino I always drop a little in a machine or table to see what kind of offers I get. I thought maybe I could get a Royal Flush in honor of Denver Gambler’s quest (#royalflush2012) for one since I’m playing 10 games at once. Good times for all. As you can see from the image above and video below, I got a Royal Flush!

I actually changed from Jacks or Better to Bonus Poker but I got the Royal Flush! As you might expect, 4,000 nickels is not nearly as awesome as $1’s, but I’ll happily take it! That $200 will pay for all the smoothies I can handle. Haha.

My venture to Rampart was more to get a vibe of the casino. The outside is very old and classy looking. I thought the inside may be the same. The decor at Rampart Casino is somewhere between 1920’s and 1980’s. I’m not sure if that’s on purpose, but the casino reminded me of some of my favorite New York City classic steakhouses. Comfortable, but not modern.

The casino itself is tiny, but not much smaller than the other casinos in the area. There is a lot of video poker throughout the casino. There are games I’ve never seen, which is always fun. There are new and older slots and there were lot of people.

I’d say 98% of the people I saw at Rampart Casino were over 60 years old and smoking about 40% of those people had walkers and/or oxygen tanks. Rampart Casino felt like the Atlantic City casino where people go to die…and I liked it.

Even though the place was overly smokey, everyone was nice and many of the people playing knew each other from the area. Everyone was having a good time and in turn I was having a good time. The smoke was so bad that I had to throw my clothes in the washing machine and jump in the shower when I came home from (no joke) but I enjoyed my visit to Rampart Casino.

I don’t see Rampart Casino replacing Red Rock casino as my local casino, but it’s a nice alternative. If it wasn’t for the fun video poker games (full pay 10 play and below) that I won’t find anywhere else, I probably wouldn’t return. That said, I’ll be back at Rampart Casino when I’m bored and need a video poker fix.

Las Vegas…You’re A Has-Been

I love Vegas and you love Vegas, but does Wall-Street love Vegas? Maybe they don’t love Las Vegas. In a year-end review of MGM Resorts International’s stock price, The Motley Fool said that MGM’s poor performance was, in part, due to Las Vegas being a has-been gaming market.

The first problem MGM faces is that it’s largely centered in Las Vegas, which has become the has-been of the gaming world. With rivals Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS  ) and Wynn Resorts (Nasdaq: WYNN  ) increasingly focusing on the strong Asian gaming markets, MGM has to depend largely on the health of the Vegas Strip, where gaming wins have fallen steadily since their 2007 peak.

While the take-away that Las Vegas is a has-been seems strong, it’s fairly accurate. The world is changing and so is where people gamble. In the past we’d see Wynn fly their Asian high roller to Vegas, but it’s much more economical for them just to fly to Macau where the player will still get signature Wynn service at a brand new casino.

With 48 states making money from gambling and online gaming becoming legal in the future we will continue seeing casino companies diversify out of Las Vegas searching for new income streams. New York, Miami and Boston are among the major cities looking to expand their gaming in the next few years while Philadelphia already has a casino in the city while there are multiple options in the Philly suburbs.

This is not to say Vegas won’t always rule our gambling vacation lives, but it is to say that there are other places inside and outside of the country that will be getting the attention that we’ve come to expect.

I’ll have more thoughts on the future of comps, with this being the case sometime next year because there’s a lot to consider.

Her Name Is Annabelle

I love steak, but don’t eat it as much as I used to (which is probably a good thing). One of my favorite New York (and Atlantic City) steakhouses is coming to Las Vegas soon and I’m stoked. Along with the food Caesars is bringing in the iconic cow that sits atop of the New York OLD HOMESTEAD for the opening at Caesars Palace next week.

I never reprint press releases, but I’m stoked and learned something from this press release – The cow has a name – Annabelle!

Yes, I’m a wee bit excited about Old Homestead opening in Las Vegas. Learn a little below.

Annabelle, the celebrity cow perched two stories above the entrance of the legendary Old Homestead Steakhouse in Manhattan, is moo-ving to Las Vegas. She begins her cross-country trek today and will arrive in Las Vegas on Dec. 20, in time for the grand opening of Old Homestead Steakhouse at Caesars Palace. Annabelle’s admirers are encouraged to follow her journey to Las Vegas at stay tuned for more details upon her arrival.

Fans of Annabelle should not be concerned, as the iconic brown and white cow isn’t being put out to pasture. Dressed in white butcher coats and wearing white gloves, a team of moo-ving men specializing in bovine transport will gently remove Annabelle from the restaurant’s Broadway-like marquee, where she has been perched for the past 60 years as a fixture in the center of New York City’s fashionable Meatpacking District. Before setting her into – or more likely, onto – a super-stretch luxury limousine stocked with plenty of hay, corn feed, moo juice, a slot machine and a blackjack tutorial handbook, the team will groom Annabelle and dress her up in gown, top hat and bow tie. Taking full advantage of the limo, Annabelle plans to ride around Midtown before heading to the airport.

The divine bovine intends to visit several major U.S. landmarks and graze through a few malls for some holiday shopping on her way to Las Vegas. One of the emotional highlights of her trip will be an overnight stay at the Nebraska farm where she was born and raised. Annabelle is no stranger to the spotlight, having been featured in several motion pictures and on hit shows such as “Seinfeld” and “The Sopranos.” She has also been photographed by renowned artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, whose photos are displayed in the restaurant’s Schnabel Room.

Old Homestead Steakhouse is one of New York City’s most historic restaurants, set to open its first location on the west coast at Caesars Palace. With more than 6,000 square-feet, the new restaurant will feature a total of 250 seats with a full dining room, private dining room, lounge and bar. Guests will be introduced to several signature dishes from the classic New York City menu including the popular colossal crab cake, 32-ounce Gotham rib-eye steak and the Old Homestead New York-style cheesecake. Additionally, new menu items will be created exclusive to the Las Vegas location.

See Annabelle at home (NYC Old Homestead)

New Jersey Votes To Approve Sports Betting…Now What?

Yesterday, New Jersey voters approved a referendum that would allow sports betting in the state if a federal ban on sports betting is lifted.

But first, a federal ban on sports betting in all but four states would have to be lifted by Congress or overturned by the courts for New Jersey to offer wagering on professional and college teams.

It’s smart that New Jersey is allowing sports betting to take place at racetracks, because who would bother driving to Atlantic City to make a $50 wager on a game from northern New Jersey or New York or Pennsylvania. Perhaps this will lead the way to New Jersey having racinos at those same racetracks in the future. But what’s next?

  1. After the federal ban is lifted (which is rumored to be done already) casinos will have to undergo a major transformation.
  2. Atlantic City casinos will have to buy DirecTV or some kind of satellite system to show the games that people can bet on. Currently, casinos mostly show basic cable and local sports. It’s pretty much BS that I could never watch a Jets game in Atlantic City. This will not be acceptable if they begin to take wagers on all sports.
  3. Atlantic City casinos will have to figure out which boxing or MMA matches they can show, if any. Currently Pay Per View events are controlled by the casinos hosting the events and usually only shown on their properties. Will Caesars get back into hostin boxing matches since they own four eleven Atlantic City casinos?
  4. Sports and racebooks will have to be expanded to show more than just horse racing and to be able to facilitate more bettors and viewers.
Studies show that there will be a boatload of money earned from sports betting for the casinos to make these changes (and more).
Citing a University of Pennsylvania study conducted last year, Pascrell (a lobbyist who is working with Raymond Lesniak on the sports betting campaign.) also said sports betting is expected to generate more than $10 billion in annual wagering. New Jersey would get an 8 percent cut of the betting action through the state’s gross wagering tax.
Again, this is all just in the early stages and quite frankly I don’t believe these numbers are real but we’ll have to see. For more information on the approval of sports betting in New Jersey take a look at the Press of Atlantic City and

Las Vegas Air

A new airline, Las Vegas Air, is set to launch some time this year.  It only will fly from Las Vegas (duh) and New York City (JFK airport, specifically).  Here are some of the details:

LV Air plans to work with nine select hotel-casino properties in Las Vegas to offer a one-of-a-kind experience to customers by consolidating the strength of its nine properties.  LV Air preferred hotel-casino partners will allow customers to have the following inclusive services:

1. “Straight to room” baggage service
2. “Front Desk” check-in for flight departures
3. 24/7 concierge line
4. 24/7 smart phone accessible limo service between properties
5. Smart Phone RFID (recognition software) for VIP treatment ( as guest approaches 100 ft. guest photo will display on front desk/ limousine/ club host display for immediate recognition)
6. Consolidated buffet pricing
7. Consolidated show pricing
8. Restaurant seating preference
9. Night Club booth preference and fixed entry and bottle pricing
10.  Auto reminders, upgrade opportunities and last minute offerings on smart phones daily to all customers traveling on site and outbound

One of my favorite airlines was Midwest Express because they were all first class seats and offered free wine and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.  Unfortunately, all of their flights went through Milwaukee and they’re no longer in business according to Wikipedia.

Las Vegas Air seems like a similar idea with plenty of cool ideas and entry points into the Las Vegas market.  I’m not sure this idea will ever happen, but I love it.  They seem to be partnering with a hotel chain that has 9 properties.  Caesars is closest with 8 properties, so maybe the Palms purchase rumors are true.

Now that I think of it this probably confirms the rumor and could be a great asset to Caesars if they do own the airline.  Looking further, if this is successful look for the airline to expand to Reno and some of the other casino markets after.  I don’t know the airport scene too well, so that will all depend on gate access.

Check Jaunted and Vegas Chatter if you’re looking for more info.