Issue 162
October 20 - October 26, 2003
Volume 3
page 2

Las Vegas places bets on
China's big new spenders

BEIJING, Oct 14 (Reuters) - The U.S. gambling state of Nevada has seen dollar signs in China's swelling middle class and is trying to woo the world's most enthusiast gamblers to the casinos and shopping centres of Las Vegas.

Banned from betting at home by China's Communist rulers, growing numbers of mainland tourists already head overseas to try their luck at the tables.

Nevada officials now hope a maiden marketing tour through Beijing and financial hub Shanghai will draw more mainland tourists to the desert state.

"When you consider the enormous population of China of 1.3 billion and you consider the rise of the middle class in this country, more and more people will be travelling," Nevada Lieutenant Governor Lorraine Hunt told a news conference on Tuesday.

"If Nevada would only get a small percentage of that, it would be a significant amount of visitors to our state."

The state's major casino operators include Park Place Entertainment Corp. (NYSE:PPE - News), MGM Mirage (NYSE:MGG - News), Mandalay Resort Group (NYSE:MBG - News), Harrah's Entertainment Inc. (NYSE:HET - News) and Station Casinos Inc. (NYSE:STN - News).

Nevada gambling revenue fell three percent in August and more than 10 percent on the Las Vegas strip, state data showed last week.

China, whose middle class has mushroomed following market reforms initiated in the late 1970s, was "the great emerging market" filled with "extremely entrepreneurial" and "free enterprise thinking" individuals, she said.

Hunt had no estimates of numbers of Chinese visitors to Nevada, but said many Asians could be seen during a tour of Las Vegas.

Around 250,000 U.S. tourist visas were granted to Chinese nationals every year, Nevada delegates said.

A potential opening of direct flights between China and Las Vegas or Reno had been discussed with Chinese aviation officials, Hunt said, adding that Nevada planned to open its first representative office in the country in the near future.

Visa rules made more stringent by the September 11 attacks on the United States were also discussed by Hunt during talks with embassy officials.




West Virginia retailers launch video poker chains MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The Limited Video Lottery Act, passed by West Virginia lawmakers in April 2001, enables gambling entrepreneurs to open convenient video gambling chains in storefronts and strip malls across the state. Sam Oliverio and business partner Gary Wilfong have established ten High Rollers Clubs and plan to open more across north-central West Virginia. The 2001 act outlawed unregulated, untaxed gaming machines and allowed them to be replaced by 9,000 state-controlled machines in adult-only settings. The 5,329 machines in operation by the end of fiscal 2003 generated $66 million for state government and $3 million for counties and cities, but the biggest chunk of profits, $99 million, went to retailers such as Oliverio and companies that lease the machines to clubs.

IGT Founder Dies - William "Si" Redd, the man who founded leading slot maker International Game Technology, died Tuesday at the age of 91. Redd helped to popularize video poker and Megabucks progressive jackpots. "Si Redd might have had more impact on gaming than just about anybody in the last 30 years," says University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor Bill Thompson. In 1967, Redd founded Bally Distributing Co. in Las Vegas, where he developed a reputation as Nevada's "slot king."

Redd's company was bought by Bally's Manufacturing in the mid-1970s, and in 1978 Redd left to form a new venture called Sircoma, now known as International Game Technology. Before breaking off from Bally's, Redd negotiated for the right to continue developing video-based slot machines. "Video poker drove the creation of our locals casinos," says Thompson. "It was this machine that made IGT." IGT is now the world's largest slot manufacturer responsible for an estimated two-thirds of all slot machines on U.S. casino floors.


Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa announced today that David Bowie will commence his North American "A Reality Tour" at Borgata on December 6, 2003. Welcomed by Tommy Hilfiger, the tour is in connection with Bowie's new album "Reality," which follows last year's critically acclaimed, million-selling "Heathen" album. Macy Gray is the special guest on the North American leg. The concert will start at 7:30pm in the Borgata Event Center and will accommodate close to 2,100 Bowie fans. Ticke

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