Shares in Caesars Entertainment have slipped since last week’s initial public offering, closing Tuesday at $12.59. That’s well above the $9 opening price, but a far cry from the first day of trading when the casino company’s stock peaked at $17.90. In fact, the stock has fallen every single day since the IPO. You know what that means? Time for Caesars to pump up the volume.
On Tuesday, Caesars CEO Gary Loveman spoke to local cognoscenti (including Mayor Thomas Menino) at the Boston Harbor Hotel, making the case for why his company should be allowed to construct a casino at East Boston’s Suffolk Downs horse track. The former Harvard professor and current local resident was the latest casino rep to have offered to bear the one true ring, er, the one casino license eastern Massachusetts has to give. But that scheming Steve Wynn wants it so he can build his own joint in suburban Foxborough. If this were the 18th century, these two would fight a duel (perhaps in the desert, with shovels). But since we live in a supposedly enlightened age, we get dueling podium speeches. Woo-hah…
Early in his presentation, Loveman quoted a recent Boston Globe article in which the gambling industry was likened to wolves at the door. Later, Attorney General Martha Croakley voiced her suspicion that Loveman was trying to convince his audience “that you’re a sheep in sheep’s clothing.” Proving he’ll always have a stand-up comedy career to fall back on, Loveman replied, ““I’m sure that once you read my tax return and fingerprint my children … we’ll know each other very well.”
Loveman proceeded to dismiss other tall tales his well-heeled audience may have heard from anti-gambling critics during the long fight to bring casinos to Massachusetts. First of all, casinos aren’t scandalous; they’re “entirely noncontroversial” and “increasingly mundane.” So the message is: boring as shite a Caesars Entertainment casino may be, but it will grow into a mundanity “that all of you will be proud of.”
Loveman cited studies showing that, far from casinos increasing crime, the “tremendous amount of law enforcement” operating within range of a major gaming joint actually increases local real estate values. And far from preying on the lower socio-economic demographic, Loveman said casinos tended to attract high net worth individuals who were “very judicious in the management of their finances.” Loveman agreed that addiction was “a very problematic issue” that the company took “exceptionally seriously.” But since 99 out of 100 people don’t have gambling problems, Loveman feels that “if the country wants to get in the business of deciding what decisions all of us can make responsibly, we have a big agenda ahead of us.”
Having demonstrated that all the controversy was overblown, Loveman lavished praise on Boston’s appeal to international travelers, on whom the US land-based casino industry is increasingly dependent. “The fastest growing sector of the U.S. commercial casino industry are international visitors, especially Asian visitors. To the degree such visitors are attracted to your location, there is a segment of business that you can enjoy that you can’t if they are not actually there.”
But enough about you, here’s more about Caesars. We’re bloody awesome. We’ve got over 50 locations around the world. None of them in Macau or Singapore or Manila, mind you, but Japan’s looking good, we think. We’ve just bought a new free-play social gaming developer! It added another $200m or so to our $19.6b debt, but really, after a while, the numbers sort of stop meaning anything. We’re literally too big to fail, so your investment is safe with us. Go Red Sox!