Issue 132
March 24-30, 2003
Volume 3
page 1
 

This Issue

Gaming News
Le Reve Affords Wynns Unique Opportunity

Taj Mahal Has $15 Million Makeover

Caesars Palace Bets on Love with Celine Dion Show

Security High at Atlantic City Casinos

In Reno, Sports Bettors Distracted by War News


Show Time

The Beastie Boys and DJ Hurricane will appear at House of Blues in Mandalay Bay Resort Casino April 25


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Grochowski Reviews

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Le Reve Affords Wynns Unique Opportunity

/Las Vegas Sun/ - LAS VEGAS - The landmark $6.4 billion sale of Mirage Resorts Inc. to MGM Grand Inc. in June 2000 was a "mixed blessing" that gave Las Vegas casino entrepreneur Steve Wynn an opportunity to build another megaresort, Le Reve, says Wynn's wife, Elaine.

Speaking March 19th to more than 300 business people at an annual luncheon of the Southern Nevada chapter of the Better Business Bureau, Elaine Wynn said it "would not have made good business sense to create another property that would compete with (Wynn's) Bellagio, if we had still owned
Mirage Resorts."

"There was a great deal of concern when we first built Mirage and Bellagio that we'll be in direct competition with ourselves. But Steve thought there was still room because the market was still growing," said Elaine Wynn, who's on the board of directors of Wynn Resorts. "Le Reve will offer a unique opportunity to do one more final 'badaboom' in Las Vegas."

In what she described as a $2.6 billion resort and one of the largest single building projects in the nation to date, Le Reve - French for "The Dream" - a 45-story, 514-foot glass tower at the northeast corner of Sands Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, is expected to break away from the conventional themed casino concept and set new trends in casino design.

When the property opens in April 2005, it will have 2,701 rooms and suites, an 111,000-square-foot casino, 18 restaurants including six fine-dining restaurants, the Strip's only 18-hole golf course, a gallery displaying Wynn's art collection of works by Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne and Matisse, and the Strip's first full-service Ferrari and Maserati dealership.

The resort also will have a new water-based entertainment production by Franco Dragone, who developed Bellagio's production of "O" and Treasure Island's "Mystere" shows. A 2,080-seat showroom is planned and entertainment production costs have been listed as a $24 million expense in
the prospectus.

The resort, which is expected to employ about 8,000 people, would also include 78,200 square feet of retail shopping space with brand-name, high-end boutiques, plus a 130,000-square-foot convention area.

Wynn said she and Steve were able to determine what mistakes could be avoided and improvements made in the design of Le Reve because they're using the same design group responsible for building The Mirage and Bellagio.

Some of the design challenges she identified include creating an intimate environment in a large-scale project and striking a balance between the classic luxury that appealed to the older, well-heeled customers and hip decor favored by people in their 20s and 30s.

Le Reve will achieve a more "intimate" feel than the typical megaresort by shrinking distances between the property's various features. In another break with convention, some of the outdoor attractions won't be visible from the Strip sidewalk, requiring customers to enter the resort in order to experience them,
Wynn said.

"We want to be able to control the total experience of our guests and let them benefit from all the special attractions of the hotel. The volcano eruptions outside The Mirage, the Bellagio fountain are all extensions of signs and best viewed from outside. But for

Le Reve is being constructed on the site of the former legendary Desert Inn. (Seen here in 2001 shortly before it was torn down to make way for the
new hotel.)

Le Reve, we want to be able to view wonderful things from the inside," she said. "Las Vegas (casinos) are also themed (to the point) of ad nauseam. It's time for us to go in a whole different direction," she said.

One other challenge is making Le Reve user-friendly, she said. "One of the things that struck us (in most casino designs) was how far apart everything was (in terms of access,)" she said. "If people are traversing long spaces ... you can condense that (space) by building up."

Despite expected changes to the tax environment brought on by the proposed gross receipts taxes, Wynn maintains that Nevada's tax policies are still pro-business because Nevada residents are still exempt from personal income taxes.

"So what worries us about doing business here? Transportation issues, the situation with the airlines, the cost of gasoline and terrorism," she said. "That's why we hired (former Metro sheriff) Jerry Keller as our security chief at Le Reve because we're living in a new age and Keller's background deals with protection of property and staff."

Meanwhile Sylvia Campbell, president and chief executive of the Southern Nevada chapter of the Better Business Bureau, said the number of general complaints filed with the bureau jumped to 7,000 in 2002 from 4,500 in 2001.

Campbell said this number is expected to rise to 8,000 this year because of growing consumer awareness of investment scams, the ease of online filing as well as an increase in the number of investment and charity-related scams in the wake of the economic downturn.

Campbell, who said the bureau has about 3,200 members in Las Vegas and has been gaining between 50 and 125 new business members each month over the past three years, identified surging incidents of identity theft and pyramid schemes as some of the bureau's
key concerns.


Taj Mahal Has $15 Million Makeover

Taj Mahal Hoetl CasinoATLANTIC CITY, NJ - The Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort took an expensive leap forward to spiff up its appearance and services for competition with old neighbors and the new one on the way. Nearly $15 million in renovations to its guest rooms, suites, club restaurants and member services area put a new sheen and sparkle on the last casino to be built in the resort.

"We did it to be competitive," said Jay Chesterton, vice president for food and beverages at the Taj. "Perhaps part of it was the Borgata, but it still needed to happen. We would have done these projects even if that building were not being built."

The most elaborate renovations were made on the guest rooms and suites, where $12 million was invested in creating an animal motif with leopard-print upholstery and elephant prints mixed with minaret-style headboards and marble floors. The rooms, which used to have a more angular, 1980s-style look, now have a feel better suited with the exotic name and image that the casino touts.

The buffets in the Bengal Club and Sultan's Feast were gutted and expanded to accommodate more guests with less congestion, Chesterton said. Angus steak, cooked to order, can be had buffet-style now.

The Taj also spent $350,000 to consolidate its Taj Card services area on the casino level. Here, guests can get assistance and information about promotions and complimentary items.

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