Boyd Gaming chief executive elected chairman of AGA

Boyd Gaming Corp. Chief Executive Officer Keith Smith has been elected chairman of the American Gaming Association, the industry’s Washington D.C.-based lobbying organization.

Smith joined the association’s board in 2007 and has been vice chairman for the past year. Bally Technologies CEO Richard Haddrill was elected vice chairman.

“The coming year promises to bring both challenges and opportunities, and I am confident that Keith and Dick will steer us in the right direction,” said association President Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. “They will maintain the board’s important balance between the operating and manufacturing sides of our industry and work tirelessly to protect the interests of our organization’s diverse membership.”

Smith succeeds former International Game Technology Chairman and CEO TJ Matthews.

The American Gaming Association also elected two new directors, IGT CEO Patti Hart and Penn National Gaming President Timothy Wilmott.


Fed adopts new rules to protect credit card users

The Federal Reserve on Tuesday issued sweeping new rules to better protect Americans from sudden hikes in interest rates on credit cards.

The new rules, which take effect on Feb. 22, generally bar rate increases during the first year after an account is opened. After the first year, companies must provide customers with a 45-day notice before bumping up rates.

Some lenders have pushed through rate increases ahead of the new rules. That irked lawmakers in Congress who had wanted to speed up implementation of the Fed’s rules.


Major airlines raise surcharges on travel to Europe by $20

Major airlines have raised fuel surcharges on travel to Europe by $20 per roundtrip, and some have added conditions that could cause travelers to pay higher fares.

Surcharges to Paris, Frankfurt and most cities on the continent were raised to $280 per roundtrip and to $242 for London, airline representatives said Tuesday.

Tim Smith, a spokesman for American Airlines, said his company matched increases by Continental and United. “That’s purely a competitive factor,” he said.

Continental and United didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Delta confirmed it too raised surcharges $20 a roundtrip.

IGT reaches into tech sector to fill board of director seat

Slot machine giant International Game Technology reached into the technology realm to fill a seat on its board of directors.

The Reno-based company announced that Sprint Nextel executive Paget Alves has been elected to serve as a director for the company, pending regulatory approval.

Alves, 55, is the president of the Business Markets Group for Sprint Nextel, and is responsible for Sprint’s sales and marketing to all enterprise and public sector customers. Alves also oversees the development of strategic alliances for Sprint.


Honda shows off model of new two-seater hybrid

Honda Motor Co. showed off the production model of the 2011 CR-Z, a sporty two-seater hybrid that will go on sale late summer in the U.S. at the Detroit auto show.

The CR-Z hatchback is Honda’s attempt to bring a bit of flair to the hybrid segment, whose design has long been dominated by the boxy lines and sloping roofs of four-door sedans like the Toyota Prius. The two-door CR-Z, by contrast, features a compact profile and roadster look.

It also comes with multiple drive modes that allow cycling between sportier or more fuel-efficient drive settings.

The CR-Z is Honda’s latest bid for market share in the gas-electric hybrid market. The Insight, a four-door sedan that went on sale in the U.S. last year, was geared to compete with the market-leading Prius. Honda also sells a hybrid version of its Accord midsize sedan.


U.S. housing officials subpoena 15 mortgage companies

Federal housing officials on Tuesday served subpoenas on 15 mortgage companies with suspiciously high default rates for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration. The actions are part of a crackdown on lenders as the agency tries to cut losses.

The agency has already taken action against several problem lenders. One of the nation’s biggest mortgage bankers, Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Co. of Ocala, Fla., was banned from the FHA program in August and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Another mortgage company, Lend America, was kicked out in November.

The FHA does not make loans, but rather offers insurance against default. Borrowers are willing to pay for the insurance because FHA loans only require down payments of 3.5 percent of the purchase price.

The lenders targeted by FHA officials include some of its worst-performing active lenders. For example, almost one in five loans made by Alethes LLC of Lakeway, Texas, over the past two years went into default, compared with a national average of about 5 percent.

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