Issue 299
June 5 - June 11, 2006
Volume 6
page 2
 

Jeff Simpson on Harrah's Plan to Transform the Center Strip
By Our Partners at the Las Vegas Sun

LAS VEGAS – Harrah's Entertainment Chairman and Chief Executive Gary Loveman says he is getting pretty excited about his company's planned transformation of the center Strip.

After meeting Loveman last week in his offices at Caesars Palace, it is clear the professorial executive believes the project will stand apart from some of the other big developments that are planned or being built on the Strip.

He said he expects to reveal details of the center Strip project by the end of the summer, but the company definitely isn't thinking small.

Among Harrah's assets in the area: Caesars and the Rio on the west side of the Strip; Harrah's Las Vegas, Imperial Palace, Flamingo, Bally's and Paris Las Vegas on the east side, along with the site of the demolished Bourbon Street and a lot of additional land behind those properties.

Loveman isn't saying what and where the company plans to build, but some of his comments offer clues about the scope and nature of his plans.

Key to the development: Creating a sense of place for the entire center Strip area that Harrah's controls, using Disneyland as an example.

"When you're visiting Disneyland, you know you're not outside anymore; that you're in Disneyland," Loveman said, saying that the properties that now look separate and distinct from the outside would be tied together in a sensible way to communicate to visitors that the individual resorts are part of a greater whole.

One way will be with signs, another will be to use Harrah's industry-leading Total Rewards card system and modern technology - think BlackBerries and cell phones - to stay in close touch with guests during their visits.

Loveman envisions using the Total Rewards loyalty card system and electronic communications to more closely interact with customers, perhaps letting Paris guests know that tickets are available to see Celine Dion at Caesars .

Loveman didn't say what resorts or property expansions he would build, but said the Strip frontage near Flamingo Road in front of Caesars and Bally's is underutilized.

He also acknowledged the company's Horseshoe brand is strong, and available.

Which properties will remain? Caesars, Harrah's, Paris and the Flamingo will; Imperial Palace won't, and Bally's, with one of its towers less than satisfactory, is a question mark.

What about Boyd Gaming Corp.'s Barbary Coast, smack-dab in the middle of Harrah's canvas?

Loveman says he knows how central its location is, and that he wants it. And that Boyd knows he wants it. But he declined to say whether he thought a purchase of the property, some kind of an asset trade, or even an outright purchase of Boyd would be how the property changes hands - if it does.

Loveman credited builder and Rio developer Tony Marnell with one of the most important things he's been told about operating Las Vegas resorts.

"You have to feed your customers a steady supply of new stuff," he said.

Loveman learned Marnell's lesson - he's getting ready to feed Harrah's customers a whole lot of new stuff.

• • •

Loveman was undoubtedly disappointed - and I was surprised - by Singapore's announcement Friday that Venetian owner Las Vegas Sands was its pick to develop a $3.2 billion casino and convention resort at Marina Bay.

Industry insiders both here and across the Pacific told me they thought Sands would be too tied up with its major Macau development.

I had thought MGM Mirage or Harrah's would get the nod. I was wrong, but extend congratulations to Sands and its owner, Sheldon Adelson, whose message about the power of the convention business is persuading doubters around the world.

Loveman told me that waiting for the Singapore announcement made him more anxious than he has been since he had to wait for his admission letter to graduate school.

The earlier wait had a happier ending, but perhaps Loveman's patience will be rewarded when Singapore awards its second casino license for Sentosa island later this year, an opportunity Harrah's also plans to pursue.

 

 

 


Boyd Gaming to Acquire Florida Jai Alai Operation
Press Release

LAS VEGAS – Boyd Gaming Corporation announced today that it has agreed to purchase Dania Jai Alai, including approximately 50 acres of related land, for $152.5 million, subject to certain closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

Located near the Fort Lauderdale International Airport and the Broward County Convention Center and in close proximity to the major population centers of South Florida, Dania Jai Alai is one of four facilities approved under Florida law to operate 1,500 Class III slot machines. The enabling legislation was signed into law in January, and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation's Pari-Mutuel Wagering Division is expected to approve final regulations by July 2006.

William S. Boyd, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Boyd Gaming, commented on the acquisition, "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to expand our brand of casino entertainment into the Florida market. Our facility will offer the latest in slot machine games, as well as many new and exciting amenities that have become an important part of today's casino entertainment product. As the closest gaming facility to Fort Lauderdale, we believe that the combination of our location and a first-class gaming experience will make our development a top choice for the nearby population centers. As we do in all of the communities where we operate, we look forward to working with local officials in making our facility the best it can be."

The Company has begun work on a master plan design, which will include an expansive gaming floor, poker room, a variety of restaurants, and entertainment lounges. In addition to the casino facility, the Company will continue to offer off-track-betting and live jai alai performances and wagering.

Last Call for Video Poker in North Carolina
As Reported by the Jackson Daily News

NORTH CAROLINA – "Sheriff Ed Brown, a longtime supporter of a proposed ban on video-poker machines, said Wednesday's House vote to approve a phaseout of the gambling machines by summer 2007 is the right move.

"'It should have been done a long time ago,' he said.

"The state House passed the measure with a resounding 114-1 vote Wednesday. The bill is now pending in the state Senate, where a vote is expected on Monday. The Senate has passed similar measures in previous sessions but lacked House support for such action to become law.

"Currently, video poker machines aren't illegal; there are about 10,000 legal machines in the state. An establishment can only have a maximum of three machines and must register them with their county sheriff's department.

"The problem is that many machines are operated illegally, either by not registering them or by giving out cash prizes to winners instead of the legal $10 merchandise prize…"

JuJWayne Brady

The Mirage's Danny Gans Theatre: Best known for his improvisational skills on ABC's "Whose Line Is It Anyway", Wayne Brady is back at the Mirage's Danny Gans Theatre, entertaining fans with his gifts of acting, singing, dancing, and making audiences laugh.

Date: Friday-Saturday, June 30 and July 1, also July 14 and July 15

Time: 10:30 pm

Ticket Price: $65

For more information: (800) 963-9634

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