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James Packer Could Still Prove a Savior to Las Vegas

Written by:
Alistair Prescott
Published on:
Apr/08/2009

JAMES PACKER will be reviewing Las Vegas gaming revenue for the second time in five months, though he might be disturbed by what he sees.

February gaming totals are lowest since 2004 for state and the Las Vegas Strip.

From the Las Vegas Review Journal:

"Throughout Nevada, gaming revenue fell more than 18 percent during February and more than 23 percent on the Strip, figures released Tuesday by the Gaming Control Board show. The raw numbers -- $839.5 million statewide and $427.4 million on the Strip -- were the lowest single-month gaming revenue totals since 2004.

"During February, the statewide casino win of almost $839.5 million from gamblers was down from almost $1.145 billion won a year ago. The figure was the lowest statewide one-month total since July 2004, when casinos recorded $813 million in gaming revenues. February's 18.1 percent decline was the third largest monthly decline in state history, following a 22.3 percent drop last October and an 18.9 percent decline last December.

"On the Strip, casinos won $427.4 million, down from $558.3 million a year ago. The figure was the lowest single month total since November 2004 when casinos won $426 million. It was the second-largest single month drop ever, trailing only the 25.7 percent drop posted last October."

The negative news doesn't necessarily mean Australia's gambling magnate, Packer, won't still dive in.

Depending on which way he views the statistics, it's either good news for Packer's Crown because it will mean casinos in Las Vegas will be even cheaper, or bad if his company's only sizeable investment in the poker capital defaults on its loans, Australian media outlets reported on Wednesday.

The Las Vegas strip produces nearly 10 times the revenue of any other area in that city.

Crown has an interest in the strip through its 19.6 per cent stake in Fontainebleau Resorts (once worth $US250 million).

Fontainebleau is in danger of defaulting on loans if the ailing strip does not soon recover.

Packer himself is hardly immune to today's economic woes. 

The Herald Sun reported on how Packer has taken measures to trim down his own company:

Packer's Consolidated Media Holdings has slashed the size of its board, with the remaining non-executive directors taking a pay cut.

In a sign of both the scaling down of CMH and of leaner economic times, the board has been slimmed down from 12 directors to seven, saving the company more than $500,000 a year in directors' fees.

Directors have also been told to repay loans taken out with the company to buy shares, or else forfeit those shares.

Media Man Greg Tingle tells Gambling911.com: "I think its great to see James Packer show some authority in the boardroom which his late father, Kerry Packer, was also noted for.  James doesn't swear like his old man did however.

"There's nothing quite like a shack up on a company board to put them on noticed that performance levels are being closely monitored."

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Alistair Prescott, Gambling911.com 

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