Each day in Las Vegas tens of thousands people spend oodles of money on nongaming activities. Knowing this, Harrah’s Entertainment has recently come up with a new revenue enhancing idea- expanding their rewards programs to nongamblers.
Customers signed up on the programs can now earn a reward point for every dollar spent in stores and restaurants at Harrah’s casinos. Although the largest chunk of overall casino revenue is generated by gambling, that amount is falling as other segments, including rooms and drinks, is growing at warp speed.
Harrah’s Entertainment is taking over management of hotel operations at the Planet Hollywood casino-resort in Las Vegas as it continues to negotiate with lenders to buy the property.
The privately held casino operator, who likes Planet Hollywood for its location and brand, said today that it would start managing the hotel at midnight this Saturday, Jan. 16.
Regulatory filings show the resort defaulted on an $860 million loan in September.
There is no deal yet for Harrah’s to take ownership of the property, but the gambling giant has applied with Nevada gambling regulators for a license to run it.
Planet Hollywood has 2,500 rooms and manages another 1,200 units, including vacation homes and regular hotel rooms, in a tower that opened earlier this month.
Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. has filed an application to purchase the struggling Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, the Nevada Gaming Control Board said Monday.
The casino giant has formed a new subsidiary, PHW Las Vegas LLC, with the intent of taking over the Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. PHW filed the application to casino regulators last week, a person at the Control Board said.
The Las Vegas Planet Hollywood is a separate entity from the restaurant chain, which has locations around the world.
Harrah’s began pursuing Planet Hollywood in September when it purchased a $140 million piece of Planet Hollywood’s $870 million debt for an undisclosed amount from Goldman Sachs Group.
A person close to the situation said that it appears the slice of debt Harrah’s purchased could give the casino giant enough influence over the other lenders to control the property.
Harrah’s controls six contiguous Las Vegas casinos just north of Planet Hollywood. Those properties are across the street from City Center, the $8.5 billion MGM Mirage resort has been opening all this week in Las Vegas.
In an email to employees last week, Harrah’s Chief Executive Gary Loveman reportedly said the location made the distressed Planet Hollywood an attractive acquisition.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. currently manages the project’s hotel and also has a minority stake in Planet Hollywood.
Restaurateur Robert Earl, who developed the movie-themed Planet Hollywood restaurant chain, and investment manager Bay Harbour Management acquired the Las Vegas property in 2007.
World Series of Poker (WSOP) Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack has resigned from his post at the WSOP and Harrah’s. Friday, November 13th, was Pollack’s last day on the job.
“It’s bittersweet, but I’m leaving with just great memories and a really nice sense of it being a great run. More than anything else, I’m just appreciative of the opportunity to have been part of the WSOP,” said Pollack, who was instrumental in growing the WSOP since assuming his position in 2005.
The WSOP entered its 40th year this year, with Michigan pro Joe Cada crowned its latest and youngest champion last week.
World Series of Poker spokesman Seth Palansky said there were no immediate intentions to replace Pollack.
Back in May, Pollack teamed with former Party Gaming CEO Mitch Garber to lead Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment, the casino giant’s newly-formed online arm. Pollack was slated to be its President and Harrah’s CEO Gary Loveman commented in a press release announcing the launch: “As the world’s largest gaming company, Harrah’s is taking a proactive approach toward international and interactive expansion. It is important we position ourselves to explore new markets as well as new technologies with our best in class brands.”
Pollack said his next career move remains up in the air: “I really wanted to see this year through, see this series through. I’m leaving on an absolute high note.”
Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment and IMG Sports & Entertainment announced a four-year contract extension for global representation of the WSOP property.
According to the agreement, IMG will continue to use its international network to help establish the brand in areas beyond Las Vegas and London.
“We are looking to emphasize the ‘World’ in World Series of Poker as our vision of the brand extends beyond the annual events in Las Vegas and London,” said Mitch Garber, CEO of Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment.
“By tapping the global reach and expertise of IMG, we are confident that together we can take the brand to new levels on the international stage through new international bracelet events and other WSOP licensed poker events.”
IMG has worked with the WSOP since 2005 and helped attract corporate sponsors like Jack Link’s, Hershey’s and Planters.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said a Nevada woman’s claims of sexual assault are “reckless” and “outrageous” and said he would fight the civil lawsuit filed in Washoe County.
“I would never, ever force myself on a woman,” he said during a Steelers practice Thursday.
Roethlisberger’s accuser, 31-year-old Andrea McNulty, also claimed she was pressured by Harrah’s co-workers to drop her case.
The casino company denied those claims in a statement released to the Web site TMZ.com
Bad economy be darn. Caesars Palace opened 110,000 square feet of new convention and meeting spaces on July 13, despite an economic downturn that has Las Vegas convention attendance dropping double digits, equating to 2,441 fewer meetings held this year than last.
The convention area was part of a $1 billion expansion project of Caesars Palace that boosts the property’s total meeting space to 320,000 square feet.
Harrah’s Entertainment in January announced it was postponing construction of the planned 660-room Octavius Tower, but would work to continue the convention area.
The new space is the largest in Las Vegas for Harrah’s Entertainment. The company’s other properties range in size form 160,000 square feet at the Rio, where the World Series of Poker (WSOP) is held annually, to 25,000 square feet at the Flamingo in Las Vegas.
Caesars Palace officials expect the new space will permit it better to compete with similarly sized high-end space at the Bellagio, Encore, and Wynn Las Vegas.
Harrah’s Entertainment recent move last Friday to draw down the $740 million remaining on its $2 billion credit line, could point the company toward financial restructuring that potentially could include bankruptcy filing.
Michael Sullivan, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas finance professor, said that Harrah’s could be hoarding cash for operations in light of the current economic climate or to pay covenants on current borrowing.
Or it could be looking to file a bankruptcy plan.
Bond and gaming analysts have yet to react to the announcement. And Harrah’s executives declined to comment yesterday.
Harrah’s, who told their employees last week it would cut managers’ pay and suspend employees 401(k) contributions during the economic downturn, posted a net loss of $415.1 million from January 1, 2008 through September 30, 2008.
Harrah’s will report their annual results on March 13.