Issue 258
August 22 - August 28, 2005
Volume 5
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News

Casino Development: Hopes High for High-Rise

Poker Players Make High Society

Harrah's New Horseshoes

Las Vegas: Venerable Strip casino nearing completion of upgrade SA Announces the World's First True Online Peer-to-Peer Betting Network

Show Time The Eagles appearing at MGM Grand.

Column Keeping Out Legal Gambling By I. Nelson Rose.

Check out our entertainment highlights & upcoming tournaments

See the lucky winners


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Casino Development: Hopes High for High-Rise
As reported by The Las Vegas Gaming Wire

The South Coast is going to be a lot more than just another locals casino when it opens early next year, industry experts said Monday.

The $600 million project, which started filling 2,400 positions with a job fair Saturday, will be the first high-rise hotel-casino to be built south of the airport runways on Las Vegas Boulevard.

With its 1,350-room hotel casino, Boyd Gaming Corp. is likely to redefine the Strip, dragging it southward from Mandalay Bay, where it ends today, and setting up a new era for Las Vegas development, observers said.

"Location and timing are everything in the gaming industry and the South Coast is either genius or dumb luck on both scores," said one casino executive with a competing company who requested anonymity.

"Development has headed north toward a new city center around Fashion Show, The Venetian and now Wynn for several years," the source said.

"Now, it's going to boomerang south where Boyd is going to be set to hit a home run," the source said.

University of Nevada history professor Hal Rothman said development will inevitably head south as the community grows in that direction toward the planned airport in Ivanpah.

"It will leapfrog the runway, of course, and possibly even the 77 acres next to it, which used to be the most attractive property in town until MGM consolidated its monopoly game-hold on the Strip south of Flamingo," he said.

"It makes little sense for any development to directly challenge MGM in that area; leapfrogging the runway allows Boyd to develop in the sphere of MGM but in essence, apart from it," Rothman said.

University of Nevada professor Bill Thompson, who specializes in gaming studies, said the new resort will also benefit Las Vegas as a destination.

"It's important that South Coast has 1,400 rooms, not the required 200," he said. "No other locals casino has so many rooms. Boyd will be using the South Coast to bring players into Las Vegas, not just to pick Las Vegas pockets."

Jim Medick, chief executive officer of the MRC Group, Nevada's largest market research firm, said Boyd Gaming will be the first casino company to make a mark south of Mandalay Bay and others are certain to follow.

"With a strong customer database and a growing population, the resort will set the trend for others to try to beat," he said.

Construction is already finished on the 60-acre development and Boyd Gaming started hiring at Saturday's job fair, which featured a fashion show previewing employee uniforms, designed by Cintas.

South Coast Vice President and General Manager Mike Gaughan Jr. said more than 2,500 applicants showed up for the eight-hour job fair, 1,300 of whom submitted applications online at The Orleans. Others decided to apply later from home, and a few filled out paper applications.

Location, he said, will be key to the operation of the South Coast once it opens.

"We haven't had a presence in the south, or particularly the southeast side of the valley before. We're lucky enough (with South Coast) to be just off I-15 which will help grab tourists. The Orleans has always been successful filling 1,900 rooms with that," Gaughan said.

South Coast, the next major casino project set to open in the Las Vegas area, will include a 80,000-square-foot casino, seven restaurants, a 16-screen movie theater, a 64-lane bowling alley, a fitness center, 150,000 square feet of meeting space and what is billed as one of North America's finest equestrian centers.

Medick said when Boyd Gaming opens South Coast with its resort and convention amenities, it will enjoy the benefits of targeting two worlds: Strip tourists and the locals gaming market.

"The locals' (market) remains one of the hottest markets for gaming companies and as new home communities continue to pop up almost overnight," he said. "There are two things you can count on: a new grocery store and a new locals' casino.

"The south side is a great area. First and foremost, the population projections for the area are staggering and developers are throwing the kitchen sink into the community mix, from rentals to condos to first-time-home buyers to grand private gated communities," Medick said.

"The South Coast will be right in the heart of this mix as well as having grand visibility from I-15," he said.

"Plus, the Boyd group is not building their grandfather's casino. The new plans are designed to rival their No. 1 competitor, Station Casinos, and fit right into the soul of the community complete with everything from night clubs and movie theaters to an equestrian center," Medick said.

"To both the gamer and the investment community, this local resort, as opposed to a locals casino, is as an important of a move as when Circus Circus began the positioning move to Mandalay Bay," he said.

Rothman said for Boyd Gaming, the new resort represents a chance to continue its advancement toward being a premier Strip company.

"A 1,400 room property south of the existing Strip seeds the future, both for that part of town and for the company," he said.

"It's hard not to see a sizable property there as a precursor of the redevelopment of the Stardust, an attempt to work out the kinks in the process on a smaller property before starting what will likely be Boyd Group's biggest endeavor," Rothman said.

Thompson said South Coast will intensify Boyd's competition with Station Casinos, the second leading locals gaming company, while giving it a chance to jump ahead.

"Boyd will continue to be in a 'keeping up with the Station's fight,' but Station does not have a presence on the Strip, and Boyd does -- two places -- Stardust and Barbary," he said.

"Their next venture must be to firm up that presence with an implosion and a multiple-billion-dollar effort at the other end of the Strip," Thompson said.

Poker Players Make High Society
By Anakana Schofield, Casino City Press

As poker's popularity swells and viewers spend more time riveted to the action, our attention occasionally wanders from the game itself to the attire of the players. The high visibility poker players now enjoy is exposing their personal style, and we're all beginning to pay attention. Just like any televised sport, clothing companies and poker rooms are seeking product placement opportunities. Alongside what poker players hold in their hands, the clothing they wear can potentially enhance their image and their pockets.


Phil Laak and Jennifer Tilley at the High Society
stand at WSOP.

Two Hawaiian surfer dudes are showing poker players the way and the wave of poker fashion style. Meet High Society, a young company, who believes it is extremely important for a poker player to portray his or her personal style through fashion, because they insist when you are wearing clothes that you feel comfortable and confident in, it is inevitable that you will play better.

'We are creating a lifestyle brand that the new, hip breed of poker players wants to be a part of. Until High Society, there was no clothing company in the poker world creating gear that truly expresses the x generation poker player.' Ryan Haneberg CEO of High Society told me when I talked to him recently.

Haneberg, 28, a former aspiring pro-beach volleyball player and model, launched High Society with his partner Justin Britt, 30, a web designer. Their background in Hawaiian surf culture suffused with their love of poker gives the poker world the boost in style they say it needs.

It appears to be working. They recently launched their product successfully at the World Series of Poker main event and Phil "The Unabomber" Laak wears their gear from time to time. Team member Sean "Sly" Ly wore High Society threads during his run at WSOP. He made the feature table on ESPN twice and finished in the money

The current range offers mainly hats, hoodies and t-shirts. There are immediate plans to add jerseys, track jackets, collared button downs and a women's line in 2006. Eventually they'll cover everything from sunglasses to jeans. So what exactly are the considerations when designing around the poker concept?

'Comfort is the number one priority,' insists Haneberg, 'aside from creating an image that people want to associate themselves with. Players also rely on certain articles of clothing to help conceal facial expressions like hooded sweatshirts, hats and sunglasses.'

Even their name comes courtesy of ultra hipster and poker fan actor Matt Damon. In his famous poker movie Rounders, Damon walks into the poker room and says "give me three stacks of High Society" referring to a $100 chip or a $10,000 bankroll in poker slang.

'When I heard Matt Damon say it, I immediately knew that High Society was the perfect name for us.' Haneberg reveals.

High Society currently manufactures their clothes in the United States because it's easier to maintain quality control, and, like many of their generation, they will not support sweatshop labour.

With the arrival of this skater/surfer clothing for the poker crowd High Society predict change is afoot.

'Poker players have just started to get savvy with fashion, but in a couple of years I think they will be just as savvy as any other sport or game.'


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