Olympia taps ex-Caesars chief

Jun 20, 2006 6:41 AM

Former Caesars Palace President Dean Harrold appears to have found himself a new world of opportunity as Las Vegas developer Garry Goett’s top gaming executive.

Harrold’s appointment to a top spot in Goett’s Olympia Gaming, a subsidiary of the Olympia Group, which has also brought us the Southern Highlands development, will probably be announced this week.

Harrold will hit the ground running if reports of Goett’s appetite for moving forward into the world of big gaming projects are accurate.

Goett’s thousands of acres in southern and northern Nevada have propelled him to the front line of developers in an environment where real estate and a booming economy are two of the most important elements in any successful equation.

Harrold’s long time association with the late Bally Entertainment chief Arthur Goldberg and some of the world’s best known resorts gives Goett another helpful element — a seasoned executive familiar with life at the highest levels of the gaming business.

The resort development planned by Olympia south of the South Coast for the area of St. Rose and I-15 will be among the largest in the area. Let’s not forget that Goett is already licensed as the owner of Carson City’s Casino Fandango.

Unofficial sources in northern Nevada say Goett is planning another project up that way, possibly in the Sparks area.

Harrold has been climbing steadily through the gaming industry for almost 40 years, visiting Las Vegas for the first time in about 1968 when former Dunes owner Syd Wyman put him to work as a dice shill.

His salary at that first job was a staggering $12.50 a day.

He’s come a long way since then.

Harrold’s dad Murph, was a professional gambler with skills large enough to eventually land him in the Poker Hall of Fame at the former Horseshoe casino back when the birthplace of the World Series of Poker was handled by Jack Binion.

It was Murph Harrold who had set his son up with the chance to meet Wyman, the late Dunes owner with a style and personality that had made him a legend in his own time.

But it was during his association with Goldberg that Harrold’s career took off in a big way.

Goldberg had taken control of then-troubled Bally Manufacturing, spun off its slot division into a public company, changed the name of the casino company to Bally Entertainment and engineered a merger with the Hilton Hotels gaming division that produced Park Place Entertainment.

Goldberg put Harrold in charge of the casino at Bally Las Vegas and eventually sent him over to be president of the Las Vegas Hilton. When Goldberg engineered the purchase of Caesars World, Harrold became the president of Caesars Palace.

Harrold left the company shortly after Goldberg died and the politics at the top of that company changed as the tug of war between so-called Goldberg people and Hilton people took its toll.

But the constantly evolving landscape of the gaming industry, which has seen some companies thrive and others disappear, appears to have pointed Harrold toward fresh opportunity in an industry where big things often happen in a hurry.