Barbary swap set to go

Feb 13, 2007 2:24 AM

Boyd Gaming Company’s proposal to trade the Barbary Coast for key Strip acreage owned by Harrah’s Entertainment was approved in principle by the Nevada Gaming Control Board last week.

If the deal is ratified as expected by the Nevada Gaming Commission on Feb. 22, the Barbary Coast would become Bill’s Gambling Hall and Saloon in honor of Harrah’s founder Bill Harrah.

Boyd would receive 24 acres (the former Westward Ho site) that Harrah’s now owns next to the closed Stardust.

The deal would give Harrah’s ownership over a contiguous two-block area along the Strip, while Boyd Gaming would have 87 acres of Strip property.

The 87 acres would be the future site of Boyd’s $4 billion Echelon project. The Stardust will be imploded next month to make way for the new construction.

Dennis Gallagher, a Harrah’s executive, said the companies plan to formally trade properties on Feb. 27. The Barbary Coast will be closed for a couple of days and then reopen as Bill’s.

"It will be business as usual," Gallagher said, adding that almost all Barbary Coast employees will be retained at "substantially similar salaries."

He said there has been "much speculation" as to what Harrah’s eventually will do with the Barbary Coast, but that no decision has been made.

The Barbary Coast was built in 1979 by longtime gaming executive Jackie Gaughan and his son, Michael.

In other shuffling connected with the swap, Johnny Spot will take the reins of the race and sports book operation at the Barbary Coast.

Bert Osborne, the former race and sports director, moved to South Point to continue working for Michael Gaughan.

At Boyd Gaming, Bob Scucci returns to oversee the sports operations for the company’s race and sports books.

Scucci was the former Stardust sports book director who left that position to take an administrative post at the Borgata in Atlantic City.