LV route to Atlantic City won’t fly anymore

Casino executives, apparently, prefer the corporate jets.

The only daily direct commercial airline flight between Las Vegas and Atlantic City ends Monday when Florida-based Spirit Airlines pulls the plug on the route between the nation’s two largest gaming destinations.

The airline blamed rising fuel costs for ending the flight, which began in May.

When the airline announced the daily nonstop flight, it hoped to attract gaming industry executives traveling between resorts in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Spirit will still fly into Atlantic City, but from other destinations. The airline will continue its scheduled flights between McCarran International Airport and Atlanta, Detroit and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Missouri casinos want to eliminate the state’s wagering loss limit, in which gamblers can only lose $500 per gaming session. Last week, proponents of open-ended gaming filed paperwork with the Missouri secretary of state seeking a referendum in November to repeal the loss limit. Loss-limit supporters are also expected to ask the Missouri legislature to repeal the rule.

Casino operators argue the $500 limit makes it difficult to attract high-end customers.

Missouri gaming executives have long contended they operate at a disadvantage to casinos in nearby Illinois, which doesn’t have a loss limit. Neighboring Kansas is moving toward placing five casinos in the state, all without a loss limit.

Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Bill Lerner hinted that casino operators might balk at attempts to increase the Missouri gaming tax unless the loss limit is removed.

Wachovia Securities gaming analyst Brian McGill said repealing the loss limit would boost both Ameristar Casinos and Pinnacle Entertainment, which operate in the Kansas City and St. Louis markets. McGill said increased gaming revenues could translate to between $21 million to $25 million in additional cash flow for the two Las Vegas-based casino operators.

Harrah’s Entertainment may be working to extend its holdings in the United Kingdom.

According The Telegraph in London, the gaming giant has retained Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank to look at a possible bid for London-based Rank, an operator of casinos, bingo halls and interactive gaming, mostly in the United Kingdom.

Rank, which has a market value of approximately $700 million, owns 102 bingo clubs and 33 casinos in the United Kingdom and 11 bingo clubs and two casinos in Spain.

A Harrah’s spokeswoman declined to comment. The company paid $570 million for London Clubs in December 2006, giving it six casinos in England, two in Egypt and one in South Africa.

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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