Binion’s showing house often loses

The new owner of Binion’s would be wise to start enforcing the oldest rule in gambling — the house always wins.

In recent years Binion’s, once known for taking any bet, hasn’t done much winning. The casino lost $3.3 million in 2006.

Terry Caudill, owner of the Four Queens, is offering $32 million to MTR Gaming of Chester, W.Va., for Binion’s.

Nollenberger Capital Partners gaming analyst Justin Sebastiano projected that Binion’s isn’t done bleeding red ink. In a report praising MTR for unloading Benny Binion’s old haunt, Sebastiano thought the property would lose $3.2 million in 2007 and $1.9 million in 2008, “which may be optimistic,” he added.

Caudill said MTR focused more on its race tracks back east rather than the downtown casino. He plans to pour money into the property, much like he has done at the Four Queens since buying it four years ago.

Las Vegas-based Ameristar Casinos topped off a 400-room hotel tower recently at its Ameristar St. Charles casino outside St. Louis.

The $265 million expansion project includes a spa, indoor and outdoor pool area, a 2,000-space parking garage and convention space. The new hotel is expected to open in December.

Competition in the St. Louis market is expected to heat up this year between Ameristar and Pinnacle Entertainment, which opens the $475 million Lumière Place in November near downtown’s Gateway Arch.

The Harrah’s Entertainment acquisition is one of 10 leveraged buyouts that will determine the current trend now happening with private equity firms, according to the Wall Street Journal Web site.

Apollo Management and Texas Pacific Group need to raise $9 billion in bonds to finance the $17.1 billion buyout, part of nearly $200 billion in financing various firms will be seeking from credit investors to finance deals over the next six months.

How successful the private equity firms are in placing Harrah’s bonds could pave the way for additional large buyouts on the Strip. Most speculation centers on MGM Mirage, which has a current market value of approximately $25 billion.

Poker legend Thomas “Amarillo Slim” Preston, the 1972 world poker champion, placed in the money at a World Series of Poker event for the first time in five years.

On Tuesday, the poker icon won $2,655 for finishing 96th in the Seniors World Poker Championship, a $1,000 buy-in, no-limit hold’em event.

Preston, 79, owns four championship bracelets for individual World Series of Poker event victories.

The Inside Gaming column is compiled by Review-Journal gaming and tourism writers Howard Stutz, Benjamin Spillman and Arnold M. Knightly. Send your tips about the gaming and tourism industry to insidegaming@reviewjournal.com.

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