IN BRIEF

Black Gaming names chief operating officer

Randy Black Sr. has relinquished some operational control of his troubled Mesquite casino empire.

Black Gaming has named Anthony Toti chief operating officer. He will oversee operations that includes the company’s three Mesquite properties, a filing Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows.

The 49-year-old Toti joined Black Gaming in October 2007 as vice president of gaming operations and general manager of the CasaBlanca.

Black Gaming also owns the Virgin River and the Oasis, which closed its casino and part of its hotel Dec. 6, cutting 340 jobs.

The company is struggling financially and has defaulted on a portion of its $188.7 million debt load.

Toti is the first chief operating officer for Black Gaming since Jonathan Lowenhar left the company in September 2007 as part of an executive and management restructure that gave Black more day-to-day control.

Toti will receive a salary of $250,000 per year on a series of one-year contracts that will renew each Dec. 31. He will also receive an annual bonus of $50,000 on each renewal date.

 

Southwest cuts fare to LV, if you book today

Southwest Airlines, the biggest carrier of Las Vegas-bound passengers, is doing its part to goose bookings for early 2009.

The airline said it will knock 50 percent off the lowest fare to Las Vegas for people who book by midnight today and travel between Jan. 13 and March 11.

Round-trip fares available include $69 round-trip from Phoenix, $149 from Philadelphia, $159 from Dallas and $169 from Orlando, Fla.

The fares are available at www.southwest.com/lasvegas under the code "lasvegas."

Travel to Las Vegas by air was down nearly 15 percent in November and hotels are reducing rates to fill rooms.

 

Slot maker IGT names chief financial officer

Slot machine giant International Game Technology named Pat Cavanaugh chief financial officer Tuesday, filling a position than had been vacant for more than 18 months.

Cavanaugh, 48, joined IGT in 2004 and has been the company’s vice president of finance and investor relations. He had been CFO of Acres Gaming, a gaming technology company that was purchased by IGT in 2003.

IGT shares rose 76 cents, or 7.24 percent, Tuesday to close at $11.26 on the New York Stock Exchange.

NEW YORK

Price of liquidating Madoff firm climbs

The financial whirlpool created by Bernard Madoff continued to churn Tuesday as the price of liquidating his old firm rose, and duped investors, including the actor Kevin Bacon and actress Kyra Sedgwick, struggled to accurately estimate how much they lost.

A publicist for the celebrities confirmed that they, too, were among the unlikely victims of what Madoff, according to the FBI, has described as a giant Ponzi scheme. The spokesman, Allen Eichhorn, wouldn’t say how much of their savings were gone.

Madoff himself has pegged the losses at $50 billion, but details of who lost what remain unclear.

Yeshiva University, which had initially estimated its losses in Madoff’s alleged scheme at $110 million, offered a clarification Tuesday, saying that its actual losses had been much smaller.

 

Thrift ordered to reveal prices for fund stakes

Washington Mutual Inc., the bankrupt former parent of the biggest U.S. bank to fail, must reveal the prices it gets for stakes in a group of venture capital funds, a court ruled.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday rejected WaMu’s request to keep secret how much it gets for shares in 10 funds and three technology companies.

DENVER

Investors withdraw from pipeline project

The credit crunch has prompted some investors to withdraw from construction of a natural gas pipeline in northwestern Colorado.

Enterprise Products Partners and Quicksilver Gas Services have terminated plans for a 50 percent stake in TransCanada’s $2 billion Pathfinder pipeline project. The 673-mile pipeline would run from Colorado to North Dakota, where it would link to a major system in the Midwest.

Quicksilver Gas Services, based in Fort Worth, Texas, decided in August that it wouldn’t pursue the project, spokesman Rick Buterbaugh said Tuesday.

 

Tech execs contribute to inauguration events

Executives at Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. are the largest contributors among technology companies to Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration festivities.

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steven Ballmer, his wife, Connie, and company executive Steven VanRoekel all gave the individual maximum of $50,000 to the inaugural committee, which organizes events around the Jan. 20 swearing-in. Contributions from those affiliated with the company totaled $200,250, according to the committee’s Web site.

Six Google executives, including co-founder Larry Page and Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt, gave a total of $150,000, $25,000 each.

The inaugural committee raised more than $24 million to pay for receptions, dinners and formal balls.

 

Bratz doll maker loses bid to extend freeze

MGA Entertainment Inc., maker of the pouty, multiethnic Bratz dolls, lost a bid to extend beyond Feb. 11 a freeze on a court-ordered ban on manufacturing and selling the toys while it appeals a jury verdict that they infringed Mattel Inc. copyrights.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson denied MGA’s request, saying it was premature while he was considering post-trial motions to be argued at a Feb. 11 hearing.

Larson ruled Dec. 3 that MGA may no longer make most of the Bratz dolls, which have contributed to a drop in Mattel’s Barbie sales.

NEW YORK

Treasury prices rise on consumer-faith news

Treasury prices rose Tuesday as a disappointing report on consumer confidence sent investors again searching for the safety of government debt.

The 10-year Treasury note rose 0.44 points to 115 and its yield fell to 2.08 percent from 2.09 percent.

The 30-year Treasury bond rose to 1.94 to 139.84 and its yield fell to 2.59 percent from 2.64 percent.

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