News Beyond Nevada

Jan 24, 2006 3:58 AM

Harrah’s to Invest in Biloxi Casinos

Harrah’s Entertainment reports it will invest more than $1 billion to build two casinos in Biloxi, according to Mayor A.J. Holloway.

Anthony Sanfilippo, president of Harrah’s operations in the central United States, said his company will soon make a formal announcement of its plans, according to a published report. He said the company will be joined at the announcement by Holloway, Gov. Haley Barbour and Mississippi Gaming Commission officials.

"At this point, we’re not ready to reveal those plans nor associate a time frame or set of dollars potentially to be spent in Biloxi. But having said that, we do plan on making a significant investment in Biloxi," Sanfilippo said.

"We’ve greatly appreciated Mayor Holloway’s positive position on the gaming industry in the future development of Biloxi," Sanfilippo continued. "He’s made it crystal clear that the gaming industry will be the engine for the future long-term development of Biloxi. That excites us."

Holloway was not available for comment, but his spokesman, Vincent Creel, confirmed the report was accurate. A spokesman for Harrah’s was not available to comment.

According to the report, Holloway said Harrah’s will build two casinos — one on the north side of Beach Boulevard and one on the south side — and the project will cost more than $1 billion. The company could open a casino inside its Bayview Hotel as early as this summer, Holloway said, but will rebuild from the ground up on the south side of Beach Boulevard.

Harrah’s owns the Grand Casinos in Biloxi and Gulfport. Both casinos were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29.


Sands offers community workshops

Las Vegas Sands Corp., the company that plans to redevelop the former site of Bethlehem Steel into an entertainment, gaming, shopping and historical destination, is reaching out to the local community with workshops on Feb. 6 and Feb. 21. The first workshop will give small, minority and women owned businesses information about vendor opportunities. The second workshop will focus on employment opportunities for those interested in working at the redevelopment. The redevelopment will include a casino, a museum that is dedicated to the history of "The Steel" and the area’s industrial heritage, a shopping center, a world-class arena for entertainment, and a new housing complex.

"This is a great opportunity for us to meet the people in the community and outline the way they can benefit from our project," said Andy Abboud, vice president of government relations and community development. "And we are really fortunate to have the backing of many of the local community groups."

The workshops are sponsored by Las Vegas Sands Corp. with assistance from the Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem, the Hispanic Chamber of the Lehigh Valley, the Small Business Development Center, and the Tri-City African American Chamber of Commerce. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is not a sponsor of these workshops.

This workshop will focus on the procurement opportunities for area businesses to supply the new project, both in the construction phase and the operations phase. The workshop will also detail sub-contracting opportunities for local businesses.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. is a hotel, gaming, resort and exhibition/convention company headquartered in Las Vegas. The company owns The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and the Sands Expo and Convention Center, and the Sands Macao in Macao. The company is also developing additional casino hotel resort properties, including The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas and The Venetian Macao Resort-Hotel-Casino in Macao.


AC revenues top $5 billion

Gaming revenues at New Jersey’s casinos topped the $5 billion mark for the first time in 2005, bolstered by a strong December and the popularity of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in its second full year of operation.

Results submitted to the state Casino Control Commission show that Atlantic City’s 12 casinos won $5.02 billion last year, a 4.4 percent increase from 2004.

"Thirty years ago when we were debating casino gambling in the Legislature, no one could have imagined a $5 billion industry," Gov. Richard J. Codey said.

Slot machine revenue rose 3.3 percent to nearly $3.8 billion, while table game revenue increased 7.5 percent to $1.3 billion, according to the commission.

December was particularly strong in Atlantic City, as year-over-year revenue increased 7.3 percent to $387 million. Commission spokesman Daniel Heneghan attributed the rise to December 2005 having one more Saturday than 2004 — the last of which fell on New Year’s Eve, traditionally a busy night at the casinos.

The Borgata continued its strong showing in its second full year of operation, winning $704.4 million, a 10.7 percent jump from 2004. The Borgata, co-owned by Boyd Gaming Corp. and MGM Mirage Inc., is now the most profitable casino in Atlantic City.

The Tropicana Casino’s revenue spiked 21.4 percent to $441.9 million. Table games were up 25 percent, while slot revenue rose 19.8 percent to $306.4 million.

The Trop was helped by the opening of its Quarter expansion.

The Sands was hit hardest as revenues sank 7.1 percent to $176.6 million. In December, the Sands revenue nose dived 20.1 percent to $11.6 million.