Tag Archives: Harrah’s

Harrah’s Entertainment in Las Vegas Going… Retail

Harrah’s Entertainment is reportedly seeking a building permit for a three-story, 72,000-square-foot Strip-front build-out on the southwest corner of Paris Las Vegas. That space, which now has a fountain and an outdoor dining area, would get a retail store, new restaurants and a nightclub.

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Harrah’s Starts to Manage Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas on Saturday

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.

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Harrah’s Entertainment Plans to Buy Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas

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.

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Jeffery Pollack Resigns from World Series of Poker, Harrah’s in Las Vegas

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. JeffreyPollock

“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.”

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Harrah’s Extends World Series of Poker Contract with IMG Sports & Entertainment

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.

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Las Vegas Lowers Blackjack Minimums, Not Winning Odds

Hotel, show, meal, and retail deals are everywhere you look in Las Vegas.   So, it comes with no surprise that our main attraction – blackjack – is flush with deals.  In fact, several Las Vegas Strip casinos have lowered table minimums on their blackjack games in an attempt to lure more customers in during tough economic times.  

The haute Wynn Las Vegas offers some $25 double deck blackjack games on weekdays, down from $50 per hand minimum.  On the other end of the posh spectrum, the Sahara is offering $1 blackjack. Lower minimums have been reported everywhere, even at Harrah’s and MGM Mirage casino properties. 

Players view the moves as a retreat from the high minimums of years past, during the tourism boom.  At that time, table minimums at many Strip properties rose sky-high, along with hotel room rates, mixed drink prices and dining bills. 

But don’t get snookered into believing that lower blackjack minimums now are necessarily a good player deal.  

MGM Mirage adjusts their table game limits based on daily visitor volume.  

Another aspect that comes into play are the rules.  The more favorable the odds of a particular table game, the higher the minimum bet requirement- a strategy that limits the number of players who can take their shot against the casino.  And lower limits almost always mean worse rules for players, says Al Rogers of Pi Yee Pres, which publishes blackjack rule and odds by property in it Current Blackjack News newsletter. 

Players may think they’re getting a better deal with a lower-minimum game when actually the opposite is typically true, he warns. 

Rather than tempting players by reducing their house edge, Strip casinos, Rogers says, have continues a trend that began before the recession, to lower the odds for blackjack and related games by worsening rules.

 For example, many Strip casinos offer games paying 6-to-5 odds for blackjacks, instead of the customary 3-to-2, and those where dealers hit “soft” 17s, meaning they must draws another card on hands containing an ace valued at 11, giving the house a chance to improve a relatively weak hands.  Both strategies, though, increase the house edge. 

Blackjack wagers on the Strip fell by nearly $1 billion for the 12 months ended April 30, after peaking the previous year, according to the Gaming Control Board.  However, the telling fact is that Strip casinos still kept 10.9 percent of those wagers, a fraction of a percentage point less than in the previous record period.

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Legalizing Internet Gambling in Top 10 of President Obama’s Citizen Briefing Book

Poker players simply passively sit, blow wispy smoke designs in the air and look at their cards from behind their stealth disguise of dark sunglasses and ball caps all day long, hoping to just cash in on a good payday.Gambling

Wrong.

Rather, many members of the one-million strong Poker Players Alliance saw fit to actively make their voices heard on the issue of legalizing Internet gambling by flooding the Obama Web site, suggesting online gambling should be made legal.

Their efforts paid off. Poker playing made the top 10 list of subjects sent to the White House when President Barack Obama – a self-proclaimed poker player -asked Americans to send him their policy priorities. Poker playing also ranked as the No. 1 issue in the technology category.

The citizen requested priorities were unveiled last week in a Citizens Briefing Book, made public just days after legislation was introduced in Congress to repeal the 2006 ban on Internet gambling.

In all, more than 125,000 users suggested 44,000 ideas to help the administration properly prioritize their agenda. They cast 1.4 million votes for their favorite ideas, with each supportive vote earning 10 points.

Legalizing poker was suggested by an online player from Washington, D.C., under the heading: “Boost America’s Economy with Legal Online Poker.” It earned 46,890 points.

Poker players beat out a suggestion for increasing automotive fuel efficiency standards (46,120 points), but didn’t outscore “the permanent closure of all torture facilities” (61,250 points).

An American Gaming Association study released Monday shows that 2 percent of adult respondents gamble online. The Poker Players group estimates between 10 million and 15 million Americans regularly gamble on the Internet. They also estimate $3 billion annually could be generated from legitimizing the online gambling business.

This month, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., introduced legislation that would essentially repeal the Internet gaming ban by instituting a framework for licensing and regulating online games.

Religious groups have vowed to maintain the online gambling ban, saying Internet gaming is a threat to home life and family finances.

This year Harrah’s Entertainment became the first major gaming bricks-and-mortar operations to back the online legislation. Nevada Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley signed on as a co-sponsor.

Franks spokesman Steve Adamske said support for the bill depend on the extent to which backers contact their lawmakers, adding that actions like the briefing book onslaught are “hugely helpful.”

In some ways Obama’s briefing book reads like a to-do list he has already started – closing Guantanamo Bay detention facility, developing clean energy sources, supporting investment in high-speed rail.

In others it is purely the voice of the people.

The top 10 issues also include: “Revoke the George W. Bush tax cuts on the top 1 percent,” “Commit to becoming the ‘greenest’ country in the world,” “No more wars on abstract concepts” and “ending marijuana prohibition.”

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Isle of Capri President Virginia McDowell Tapped as 2009 Gaming Executive of the Year

Isle of Capri President Virginia McDowell has been named Casino Journal magazine’s 2009 Gaming Executive of the Year.  

Running with distinguished company, past recipients include Steve Wynn, Boyd Gaming Corporation founder Bill Boyd and Harrah’s CEO Gary Loveman.

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Penn & Teller, Harrah’s Entertainment Give Back to Las Vegas

Comedy-magic duo Penn & Teller will present Goodwill of Southern Nevada with hundreds of men’s and women’s business suits that were collected throughout the Harrah’s Entertainment properties. The event starts at 11 a.m.  April 15 at the Penn & Teller box office in the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. pennandteller

The event’s purpose is to raise awareness of Harrah’s Entertainment’s ‘Giving Back to the Community’ resource fair that focuses on professional and personal development on Thursday, April 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  at the Rio Pavillion Ballroom in the Rio Convention Center at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. 

Workshops and presentations planned for April 16 include opportunities to improve skills in job searching, health and wellness, nutrition, and create awareness of financial and community resources available.  Highlights include resume review, interview practice and feedback, free mammograms, health screenings and dental checks, healthy cooking demos and more than 30 organizations that provide services to Las Vegas. 

Both events are free and open to the public.

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Las Vegas Nightclub Discrimination Lawsuit Continues

Las Vegas Strip casino and shopping mall lost a bid on Thursday to throw out a hip hop nightclub’s lawsuit alleging it is being discriminated against because most of its patrons are black. poetrynightclub

U.S. District Court Judge James Mahan said it was too early to make a decision until he hears more about Poetry nightclub’s claims of corporate racial bias against Caesars Palace, the Forum Shops and property owner Simon Property Group Inc. 

“There’s enough here that it survives a motion to dismiss,” Mahan said from the bench at the end of a one-hour procedural hearing. The judge said that the civil lawsuit was still in early pleading stages, and called for written motions before scheduling more arguments. 

Club owner Phase II Chin LLC, in a civil lawsuit filed Feb. 7, 2008, seeks unspecified monetary damages and orders prohibiting “racially-motivated” discrimination by the corporate entities.  “They don’t want black patrons in this establishment,” club attorney Harold Gewerter told the judge Thursday. “They don’t come out and say they don’t want minority patrons in there. But they show it with their conduct.” 

Caesars, Simon and the Forum Shops deny the discrimination bias claims, and lawyers argued that the case amounts to a lease contract dispute. They said Poetry was operating under an illegal sublease with the Wolfgang Puck restaurant, Chinois.  “Any claims of any racial bias are outrageous and completely false,” Gary Thompson, spokesman for Caesars Palace owner Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., said in a telephone interview. “The actual facts will come out as the case proceeds.”

Lawyer Charles McCrea Jr., representing Forum Shops and Simon Properties, said there was no evidence of bias in the four breach of lease notices he said the property owners sent to Chinois.  “We have a right to notify them the management contract violated the lease,” McCrae said. “Nothing in those notices alludes to race or demography.” 

Caesars lawyer Steve Morris said the casino was even further removed from any relationship with the club. “There is no contract with Caesars,” Morris told the judge, arguing that without a contractual relationship between the club and the casino, there could be no bias. 

Club representatives say they have a management contract, not a sublease, to operate an after-hours club upstairs from Chinois. Gewerter argued that made the club a “third party beneficiary” of the Chinois contract with Forum Shops, Simon and Caesars. 

The club, initially called OPM, opened in May 2003. The lawsuit alleges that by January 2005, Caesars, Forum Shops and Simon began “an ongoing campaign of harassment and misconduct” to force the club out. 

Club manager Michael Goodwin said outside court Thursday that because his club caters to a black clientele, casino and mall managers blame it for “every negative activity in Las Vegas and around Caesars Palace having to do with African-American people.” 

Goodwin denied incidents that officials cite involved club patrons, and said owners of the casino and upscale 160-store mall also imposed prohibitively expensive security requirements as a condition of allowing entry to the club through the main Forum Shops concourse-which Goodwin called “the only dignified way to enter.” 

Goodwin said he employs 30 security staffers inside the club and hires four armed Las Vegas police officers per night outside the club, which is open 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. four nights a week. He said he can’t pay what he called “impossible money” for more.  That means patrons in trendy club clothing have to enter by a back door and an unsightly litter-strewn service hallway.

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‘Legends in Concert’ Las Vegas Show Upgraded After 26 Years

legendsTomorrow, February 21, the third longest-running show in Las Vegas, behind only “Follies Bergere” (closing this March) and “Jubilee!” gives its last performance in its longtime home at the Imperial Palace on The Strip.  It reopens on Monday, February 23 at Harrah’s Las Vegas, sharing the main showroom with comedian Rita Rudner (prior Las Vegas Backstage Access blog article).

“Legends in Concert” is marking the move to make some long-delayed upgrades and relaunch their show that’s somewhat become a victim of its own success.

When original producer-director John Stuart introduced the show to the Strip in May 1983, it was quite the in place to go.  Departed Las Vegas greats such as Bobby Darin returned and shared stage time with other ill-fated stars who never made it to the Sands.  Buddy Holly and Janis Joplin were part of the opening-week lineup.

But now, costumed impersonators- or “tribute artists” as they are affectionately called- are so widely accepted and a staple of entertainment, that few blink an eye when a new artist enters the fray.  Tributes to everyone from John Denver to Ozzy Osbourne are a regular staple of off-Strip local casinos, as well as tribal-owned casinos around the country.  And lately, the official versions of classic rock bands such as Journey and Styx have blurred the faux line even more by pulling in singers from the tribute circuit.

With so many look-alike and now sound-alike acts in Las Vegas and around the country, it’s been hard for “Legends” to maintain its authenticity and dominance.  What makes Elvis One better than Elvis Five?

Answering the challenge, the new “Legends” at Harrah’s has been reinvented and will feature a new accompanying video to put each act into the context of its original times.  And the format is trying harder to blend the “modular” approach that allowed acts to easily be swapped in an out and provide a refreshed audience experience over time. 

The show also has grown bolder about exploring its fanciful and alluring premise, letting some of its acts – and their underlying new visual technology – appear together and thus magnify the illusions.  One Christmas themed episode re-created the famous “Little Drummer Boy” duet between Bing Crosby and David Bowie.

Has “Legends in Concert” truly experienced a New Age rebirth?

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World Series of Poker Adds $40,000 Buy-In Game in Las Vegas

The 40th edition of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas at the Rio will begin play May 27 and include a one-time commemorative $40,000 buy-in no-limit hold ’em tournament to mark the tournament’s 40th anniversary. 

The $10,000 buy-in World Championship No-Limit Hold’em Main Event will begin play on July 3 and reach its final table of nine players on July 15.  Then the players will wait four months before returning to the Rio on November 7 through 10 to play for the championship that will be televised on ESPN on a same-day taped delay. 

Officials from Harrah’s Entertainment, which has owned and operated the World Series of Poker since 2004, hope the 2009 tournament will exceed the record-breaking revenue of the 2008 event, which had 58,720 players from 124 countries participating and awarded a prize pool of more than $180.7 million and awarded 55 gold bracelets for individual championships.

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Versatile Las Vegas Entertainer Rita Rudner Extends Reign through 2011

In a city where top female performers sometimes have to resort to stripping down to pasties and a G-string to earn top entertainment dollars, Rita Rudner, though, has managed to remain fully clothed.  And she daily fills Las Vegas showrooms.  After eight years of performing, Rudner has signed on to continue on her reign of entertaining and amusing Las Vegas visitors and residents for three more years with Harrah’s Hotel and Casino. ritarudner1

In August 2001, Miss Rudner began her very successful Las Vegas run at the New York – New York Hotel and Casino.  She immediately was well accepted by audiences and earned accolades for her performances, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s “Best Comedian.” She received the Gracie Allen Award in 2004 for her syndicated comedy show “Ask Rita” which used the talk show format to showcase a variety of performers doing improvisational comedy.  Miss Rudner moved to a larger venue in October 2006 when she brought her act to the Harrah’s in Las Vegas.  She continues to be recognized as a local favorite in the annual Las Vegas Review-Journal’s reader poll. 

Beyond her comedic stage talents, Rita Rudner has co-written a play with her husband, Martin Bergman, “Room 776” which was performed in Las Vegas local theatre in 2008.  This isn’t the first team writing experience for the couple – they’ve penned a number of screenplays including the movie “Peter’s Friends.” 

Miss Rudner is also an author, with several books in print.  The most recent, “I’ve Still Got It: I Just Don’t Know Where I Put It,” is planned to be out in paperback in May 2009.  

And somehow between her many performances at Harrah’s, Miss Rudner found the time to tape a TV special for PBS, which is now available on DVD- “Rita Rudner: Live in Las Vegas” that was a huge success for the public television network.

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