Harrah’s has big
plans for Gulf Coast

Mar 28, 2006 6:23 AM

Having spent several months evaluating the various gaming properties damaged by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) has announced that it will reopen a second facility — the Grand Casino Biloxi, Miss.,— in mid-to late summer 2006.

The announcement came on the heels of the company’s reopening of its land-based Harrah’s New Orleans facility.

Still to be determined is the future of Harrah’s two riverboat casinos in Lake Charles, La. The company is expected to announce before the Louisiana Gaming Control Board’s next meeting on April 17 whether it will remain in Lake Charles or sell its properties with the two licenses to one of five casino companies interested in the licenses.

As for the Mississippi casino, the company said it plans to create a destination resort with a completely redesigned and rebuilt Bayview Hotel tower and convention center.

"We’re excited to begin the process of rebuilding on the Mississippi Gulf Coast," said Gary Loveman, chairman and CEO of Harrah’s Entertainment.

"The Grand will return with the kind of high-quality casino entertainment experience our customers have come to expect."

The new resort, he said, will feature a steakhouse, a 300-seat buffet, a swimming pool and a 16,000 square foot full-service spa.

The facility will be land-based, as opposed to the floating casino that was destroyed by the hurricane. Since the disaster, Mississippi lawmakers have amended the regulations to permit the casinos to move on shore to make the facilities more resistant to future storms.

On another front, Harrah’s announced that it had joined with its partner, Keppel Land Ltd., in recruiting Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Ltd. (NWS) to boost their bid to build the first casino resort in Singapore.

The group, one of four now seeking the Singapore licenses, said they will form a joint venture with broadcasting company STAR to bring in live entertainment and media events.

Officials in Singapore said actual bids on the Marina Bay casino will close this week while bids on the Sentosa resort island casino will being on April 28 and continue through Oct. 10.