Vegas stalwarts sticking with Andersen
By Paul
Some online casinos and sports books may face a credibility problem, but at least not too many of them are audited by Arthur Andersen. Among land-based casinos however, only one major Las Vegas client, the Hard Rock Hotel, has fired Arthur Andersen as its independent auditor since the Enron scandal broke.

Last Thursdayís news that accounting firm Arthur Andersen had been indicted on federal criminal charges didnít seem to perturb the gambling industry too much, according to a report in the Las Vegas Sun.

'You don't change auditors like you change your socks,' said Jim Murren, president and chief financial officer of MGM Mirage, which uses Andersen as its auditing firm.

Station Casinos Inc.'s board met Thursday to discuss the Andersen question. The board plans to recommend that shareholders keep Andersen as Station's auditor for another year, Glenn Christenson, Station's chief financial officer, said.

'Our experience has been that the local Arthur Andersen representatives are very high-caliber professionals, with an excellent know-ledge of the gaming industry,' Christenson said. 'We felt that, because of the quality of service and these other characteristics, at the present time there's no reason to change firms.'

Station would switch if shareholders vote against Andersen, Christenson said. 'But I really don't think we'll have much trouble with that (the shareholder vote),' Christenson said.

Seven major gaming companies are audited by Andersen currently: Station Casinos inc., MGM Mirage, Harrah's Entertainment Inc., Mandalay Resort Group, Alliance Gaming Corp., Mikohn Gaming Corp. and the Aladdin.

However, despite the circumspect declarations of support from the gaming industry, Andersenís competitors stand to win some new business: PricewaterhouseCoopers perform payout audits for many online casinos, and could be set to pick up more land-based casino business.

Mary Lynn Palenik, director of gaming research and analyst for the Las Vegas office of PricewaterhouseCoopers, said the firm had had 'serious discussions with a number of companies about audit services.' She wouldn't say whether these firms are now represented by Andersen.

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