Issue 306
July 24 - July 30, 2006
Volume 6
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News

Casino City's July Sweepstakes

Mt. Airy Casino Breaks Ground

Jeff Simpson Sees Dangerous Trend in Nevada's Inaction on Growing Online Action

Betfair Poker Launches Leaderboard

Internet Betting Firm Freezes Trading After Arrest

Show Time Rita Rudner performs at New York-New York's Cabaret Theatre.

Column Reader Survey Results by John Grochowski.

Check out our entertainment highlights & upcoming tournaments

See the lucky winners


Not yet subscribed to the Casino City Newsletter? Sign up NOW!


Looking In On: Gaming
by Liz Benston - Our Partner at the Las Vegas Sun

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Harrah's Entertainment isn't saying much about its plans to redevelop its center Strip properties. Details are expected this fall.

In the meantime, Strip watchers have some free advice.

For starters: Don't mess with Caesars Palace, arguably the world's best-known casino. It makes sense for Harrah's to tear down its time-warped, low-rent Imperial Palace, but elegantly middle-aged Caesars still is the opulent flagship and will stand up admirably to a new wave of ultrahip Strip developments.

While access to the mazelike property could be improved and its old-fashioned Strip frontage better exploited, Caesars doesn't need a makeover a la MGM Mirage's $7 billion Project CityCenter.

"Caesars is probably going to have its best year in the last 10 years," said Andrew Zarnett, a bond analyst with Deutsche Bank Securities. "Every day they wake up and think, 'How can we make this property better.' And the incremental cost of making it better is a lot more profitable than building a new resort from scratch.' "

The property has tumbled through various owners and has grown topsy-turvy but it "will always have a place in Las Vegas at the mid to high end" as long as the company continues to pump money into the property, Zarnett said. "People just love that brand."

Second piece of advice: Don't mess too much with cash cows Harrah's or Flamingo, either. Yes, they could use some cosmetic surgery but, based on the legions of slot players who flock to the hotels, the two properties are still alluring and there's no need to go under the knife - ahem, wrecking ball - to seduce young hipsters.

Harrah's base "is Middle America," Zarnett said. "It isn't the elite top 20 percent or the bottom 20 percent. They have a wide base in the middle."

Jeffrey Compton, a Las Vegas casino consultant, gives Harrah's a bit more credit than that. "Harrah's is very comfortable catering to the upper-middle class," he said. "They're not after whales, but they are moving up. They're good at upgrading their properties. They're not ones to buy a property and let it rot."

With dramatic developments up and down the Strip, it's time for Harrah's to look into the mirror and prepare for its next close-up.

• • •

Just when you think the argument about whether poker is a legitimate sport has played itself out, the tedious debate has resurfaced. A Washington man is waging an uphill battle with Nevada regulators to legalize pari-mutuel betting on poker and, for that matter, billiard tournaments.

The discussion turned downright silly at the board's July meeting.

Attorney Louis Czoka, representing Washington lawyer Harry Platis, struggled to explain before the board why poker is different from, say, chess, backgammon and bridge. Poker, he explained, is more similar to target shooting and curling because it involves controlled body movements. And still, poker is not a far cry from traditional sports, either, because it requires stamina.

"You're not just playing your cards, you're playing your opponent," Czoka said.

True enough, though any poker pro knows an amateur with lucky cards is tough to beat, just as the odds of winning have gotten a lot longer as tournaments attract the masses.

Czoka also didn't win any points with former Las Vegas FBI boss and state Gaming Control Board member Bobby Siller, who said he didn't see many similarities between shooting guns and playing poker.

Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander acknowledged that the sports betting regulation is vague and should be tightened up. If read broadly, casinos could offer betting lines on just about anything, he said.

And what's so wrong with that? Where there's a hobby, there's a fan and a bet to be made, which means more tax money, right?

"I was in a local establishment, and they had these hermit crabs on a table," Neilander said, implying that betting was in process. "They put helmets on them or something like that."

Board member Mark Clayton suggested that his biggest fear would be watching grown men bet on dominoes, video-game tournaments and even Candyland board games.

"Where do you draw the line, Mr. Czoka?" Clayton said.

Hopefully not between Candyland and the hermit crabs.

• • •

What's old is new again on the Strip, where developers are trying to snap up the last remaining parcels for luxury development.

At a recent Gaming Control Board meeting, the general manager of the Barbary Coast half-jokingly referred to the 200-room property as a "boutique" hotel.

It may not look anything like the tony Mondrian in Los Angeles or the swank Delano in Miami Beach, Fla. But the property - which sits on the busy intersection at Flamingo Road and the Strip - is nevertheless sitting on a redevelopment gold mine.

The Barbary Coast opened in 1979 and looks its age, with a cavelike interior and plenty of worn carpet.

But that doesn't matter to Harrah's Entertainment, which is vying to purchase the old dame as part of a master-planned redevelopment of its center Strip properties next door.

If Harrah's decides it doesn't need the Barbary Coast to complete its project, Boyd Gaming Corp. can maintain the property's status as one of the Strip's smallest - uh, make that boutique - hotels.

Mt. Airy Casino Breaks Ground

Press Release

PARADISE TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania – Mount Airy Resort & Casino officially broke ground today on a $360 million gaming and resort complex in the heart of the Poconos.

"Today is a great day for Mount Airy. It is a great day for the Poconos, and it is a great day for the state of Pennsylvania," said Louis A. DeNaples, the northeastern Pennsylvania businessman who owns Mount Airy. "This project will create thousands of jobs, generate millions of dollars in tax revenues and enhance a major tourism center.

"It will complement - not compete with - existing Pocono attractions," DeNaples continued. "And it will be another great reason to visit the Poconos."

Phase I of the project calls for the construction of a 200-room luxury resort hotel, a gaming and entertainment complex that would house 3,000 slot machines, four restaurants, two live entertainment lounges, an 18-hole championship golf course, an indoor pool, spa, retail shops, and a covered parking facility.

Phase I construction is estimated at $300 million, which would be followed in Phase II with an expanded casino to accommodate a total of 5,000 slot machines, an additional 200 luxury hotel rooms, and additional conference, entertainment and parking facilities. The plan also preserves nearly 550 acres of green space at the 891-acre site.

DeNaples was joined for the groundbreaking by dozens of supporters, including local officials and representatives of the business and tourism community.

"Mount Airy is sure to foster economic prosperity throughout the entire Pocono region," said Robert Phillips, President and CEO of the Pocono Mountains Chamber of Commerce. "By boosting existing businesses and attracting new companies, this project will be a driving force in the revitalization of the Poconos."

"Mount Airy will help enhance the tourism industry here in the Pocono Mountains," said Robert Uguccioni of the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau, Inc., the official destination marketing organization for the four counties of Carbon, Monroe, Pike and Wayne in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The new Mount Airy Resort & Casino will be located on the site of the former Mt. Airy Lodge, which was known nationwide for half a century as the "host with the most in the Poconos."

The Lodge drew visitors from around the world and was an economic engine for the entire region, and particularly for the local community, which relied on the facility as a source of jobs, business opportunity and as a magnet to draw visitors to other Pocono attractions. The Lodge fell on hard times and closed its doors permanently in 1999.

The new Mount Airy is expected to open in the Fall of 2007 after the first phase of construction is completed.

The resort will be run by a world-class team of gaming industry executives led by Paul Henderson, the former President and Chief Operating Officer of Caesars Atlantic City, the Atlantic City Hilton, and Trump Marina Hotel and Casino. The operations team has worked at more than 50 casinos and gaming companies worldwide, and has an extensive background in the development, design, opening and operation of gaming facilities.

Tell us what you think about our newsletter. Copyright � 2000-2005 Casino City. All rights reserved Casino City is a trademark of Please read our Disclaimer of Warranty