David Siegel is the perfect example of the difference between 80 years old and 80 years young.
The owner and CEO of Westgate Resorts helped cut the ribbon last week at the “official” opening of the new and expanded SuperBook, hailed by some as “the ninth wonder of the world.”
Well, Steve Wonder fans might challenge. So might followers of Wonder Woman, the makers of Wonder Bread and, of course, Robin, the Boy Wonder. But that’s for social media to debate. We as bettors are excited to see a race and sportsbook now worthy of the name Super with the very best in big screen hi-def TV’s, VIP seating and expanded floor space.
“I am not done yet,” Siegel told me after the press conference when all the commotion died down. “I want a first class place, top and bottom. I am spending a lot of money, but we will get it back. Gaming revenue is up.”
The next major project is a major overhaul of the deli, which has been in need of one for years.
“Every time we open a wall we get a surprise,” Siegel said. “The property is 45 years old. We could find bodies and dead horses.”
He was just kidding. Folks are so sensitive these days. Anyway, the plan is for a whole new food concept emphasizing higher quality and quicker service.
“We should be finished by the summer, we move fast,” Siegel said. “People don’t want to wait in line. Our board of directors makes instant decisions. That’s because the board is me.”
That’s not being arrogant, merely stressing he is hands-on as far as anything going on at the resort long famed for having Elvis living on the penthouse floor in the days when this venue off Paradise Road was known as the International.
“We upgraded our casino, adding the international bar and a new convention area,” Siegel said. “We brought in our award winning Edge steakhouse from Utah. All this was done without having to lay off any of our employees.”
That was a promise Siegel made when he took over the property that was known as LVH and prior to that Las Vegas Hilton. Morale was at an all-time low and many workers confided in me they were very concerned about where the resort was headed.
And with good reason. Westgate is in the same area as the Riviera, Sahara, Stardust and the never completed Fontainebleau. All dust in the wind or soon will be. Now morale at Westgate has never been higher.
“This is the largest and friendliest of the 28 properties Westgate operates around the country,” Siegel said. “We’re lucky to have Jay Kornegay running our book. I am really proud of what we have accomplished here.”
One more major hurdle Siegel wants to address is the lack of a big-time headliner to fill his showroom.
“We had Manilow and Liberace (through the years) and getting the right combo of entertainment here is still being worked on,” Siegel said. “We haven’t hit the jackpot (Suzanne Somers was a miss), though able to bring in Sexxy, the Prince tribute and Dirk Arthur. We want people in the casino and I am working every day to see that this happens.”
Encore: The Atlantis book in Reno recently released its over/under season win totals for major league baseball. And the list is quite conservative. The Giants top the chart at 90. The Braves are at the bottom at 65. I believe 95 wins is certainly possible for a number of teams. We’ll get into that later. It’s just nice to see baseball back just a few weeks before the exhibition season begins.