NY-NY lands Rita Rudner

Mar 20, 2001 5:34 AM

New York-New York Hotel & Casino announced Monday that legendary comedienne Rita Rudner will headline the resort’s new Cabaret Theatre beginning April 20 for an indefinite run.

"I lived in New York for 20 years," said Rita. "My apartment building overlooked Central Park. I couldn’t actually see the park, but if I concentrated I could hear the screams for help."

"We are thrilled that after so many offers along the Strip, Rita selected New York-New York and will remain with the MGM MIRAGE family," said Felix Rappaport, President and COO.

Rita was an unprecedented hit at New York-New York’s sister property MGM Grand last year, playing to nearly 100,000 people in six months.

"My husband read how Shecky Greene and Don Rickles had big successes doing runs in lounges years ago," said Rita. "So we decided to try a smaller venue for a long run rather than play a larger room for a few weeks a year, as I’ve done for the past 12 years or so."

Construction on the resort’s new 425-seat theatre is underway. Shows will be held Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Ticket prices will range from $35 to $40.

Ground Zero was among the ‘sights’ during the ‘50s

The decade of the 1950s has been labeled "Fabulous," and for good reason. It seems that no matter where you look, that decade marked a kind of renaissance, or it at least planted the seeds that would blossom into the Coming of Age of the ’60s and ’70s.

It was during the decade that Las Vegas blossomed from a frontier Western town into a Miami modern type of resort. Coupled with the advent of air conditioning, interstate highways and transcontinental travel, Las Vegas was becoming a unique destination. For the gambler, it was like Palm Springs and Palm Beach — only better.

The nine-story Riviera hotel became the first high-rise resort in 1955. It was followed by the 15-story Fremont hotel downtown. Elvis, the Rat Pack and Wayne Newton became regular headliners at The Strip resorts, and lounges featured such household names as Don Rickles, Buddy Hackett, Shecky Greene, Alan King and Louis Prima, all for the cost of a drink.

Also in the 1950s, the Nevada Proving Ground, 100 miles to the north, would shake Las Vegas’ foundations with its atomic blasts. The atomic era had arrived and, at one point, nuclear tests were conducted on a monthly basis — above ground.

While school children would be herded off the playgrounds during detonations, most residents and tourists took patriotic pride in the eruption of freedom, and set up lawn chairs and watched the eerie glow and mushroom clouds.

Even the casinos got into the act by creating atomic promotions: special menu items, cocktails and even cheesecake photos of showgirls in "mushroom" bathing suits.

While the military was busy north of town, the casinos were spreading south. Gambling was the city’s No. 1 business, and the downtown casinos were evolving into larger hotel resorts on Las Vegas Boulevard ("The Strip") south of town.

The famed thoroughfare, also known as the Los Angeles Highway back then, got its name from a former L.A. police captain who bought the Pair-O-Dice Club along the barren stretch in 1938. He said the road reminded him of the Sunset Strip.

By 1960, the city’s population had grown to 65,000. One of the newcomers was Howard Hughes. The eccentric billionaire started buying up casinos, including the Desert Inn (where he lived), Sands, Landmark, Silver Slipper, Castaways and Frontier.

Paying top dollar for the properties ($14 million for the Sands and $13 million for the Desert Inn), Hughes sparked an intense round of speculation and opened the door for corporations to get into the gambling business. Such companies as Hilton, Ramada and Holiday Inn, once sensitive about their corporate image, soon became common entrepreneurs in a town that built its reputation as Sin City. When Hughes left, however, nothing new had been added.

Global Gaming Expo uses new approach to content

In an innovative approach for its first industry-hosted trade show and conference, Global Gaming Expo (G2E) will structure the content of the conference around three industry concerns: People, Product and Profitability.

To insure the success of the 3-P approach, G2E has named 23 conference co-chairs to oversee the conference content.

G2E will be held Oct. 1-3 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the event’s host venue through 2020.

In explaining the 3-P approach, Frank J. Fahrenkopf, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA), the show’s organizer, said, "The 3-P approach was developed to make sessions appeal to more targeted audiences. Each topic session under the 3-Ps will address how it influences or is related to that particular ‘P.’ For instance, a marketing session under the People track could address the influence of a firm’s marketing efforts on its revenue margins."

With this new approach, Fahrenkopf added, attendees won’t have to sit through extended general topic sessions that only briefly focus on their need or interest.

"The 3-P approach is another example of the creativity and innovation that will make G2E the premier gaming-entertainment industry event," he said. "This will let attendees customize their experience and best use their time at G2E."

Named G2E co-chairs were: Jason Ader, Shannon Bybee, Anthony Cabot, Jacob Coin, Melanie Dellas, Bob Faiss, Douglas Florence, Robert Garity, Elizabeth George, Joe Kaminkow, Lloyd Levenson, Virginia McDowell, Valerie Murzl, Marylynn Palenik, Nikki Phillips, James Rafferty, I. Nelson Rose, Bruce Rowe, Thomas Shepherd III,. David Small, P.J. Stegen, David Waddell, Ellen Whittemore and Berry Wilson.

Station Casinos waiting for OK on phone bet system

By Keith Freeman

Station Casinos has submitted a plan for a new phone bet system that screens illegal callers from out of state and is now playing the waiting game.

Phone betting has taken place at Station properties since September, but the Nevada Gaming Control board wants to make sure bettors can’t call from outside the state and call-forward through a phone in-state.

"We’re working on that and implementing the system for our guests," said a source at Station Casinos. "I can’t get into it. We’re still in the early stages. We’re still trying to develop a system. We’re still trying to meet gaming’s needs on what we need to do. Nothing is happening yet.

"We’ve developed a system, and that’s where we stand. March 1 has come and gone. We’ve presented to gaming (regulators), and now we’re waiting."

The Gaming Control Board has identified three acceptable systems:

• A global positioning system that identifies the physical location of the caller.

• A short-range pager system that ensures the caller is within the state:

• A computer dialer that controls the process.

With older technology, a sports book might see just the in-state phone number. The new technology will identify the out-of-state phone where the call originates.

National Airlines offers bargains

Las Vegas-based National Airlines offers travelers great bargains from April 17-30.

During that time, fares start as low as $60 roundtrip from L.A. to Las Vegas, and $178 between Chicago or Dallas and Las Vegas. Tickets must be purchased by April 10 through the airline’s online website, nationalairlines.com.

The e-Mazing April Fare Sale is good for flights throughout National’s entire route system.

In other news, National Airlines Vacations is accepting air-and-hotel packages for Saturday arrivals into Las Vegas. The special packages are available with accommodations at five popular Strip hotels.

The new packages also provide optional packages for travelers taking advantage of holidays on Mondays. Call 1(888) 527-8687 for information.

National Airlines currently serves Chicago Midway, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York JFK, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. with non-stop flights to and from Las Vegas.

Detroit survey shows people like the casinos

Just like the line "I’ve grown accustomed to her face" from the tune in "My Fair Lady," Detroiters have grown accustomed to the three casinos operating in the Motor City. They like what they see.

In a recent poll, 63% indicated they favor leaving the three temporary casinos just where they are and would like the city to abandon plans to have permanent facilities built on the riverfront. At least, that was Mayor Dennis Archer’s plan.

The pollsters said the majority of the people they interviewed said they’d like the permanent casinos to develop hotels, restaurants and entertainment facilities in the immediate areas around existing properties.

And when they consider the success of the three casinos, they might be justified in their positions.

During the most recent reporting period, for February, MGM Grand Detroit, reported gaming win of $28 million, followed closely by MotorCity Casino with $27.9 million and the newly opened Greektown with $19.7 million.

The three casinos paid the state $6.1 million in gaming taxes. Archer’s idea to place the permanent casinos on the riverfront seems to be reaching an impasse. Lawyers for some land owners who have already given the city options on the property indicate the deal will die if nothing is firm by March 31.

Tribal leaders, gaming executives gather for a 3rd Gaming Summit

Tribal leaders and top gaming executives will hold the third annual California Indian Gaming Summit and Slot Manager Institute on March 25-27 at the Riviera Resort and Racquet Club in Palm Springs, Calif.

"In the 500 years since European contact, no other single industry has brought more hard dollars to Indian reservations than gaming," said Indian Gaming Business editor Matt Connor. "Money generated from casinos and bingo halls has allowed tribes that have languished on the bottom rung of America’s economic ladder to boost themselves up and give them a measure of prosperity."

Nowhere is that prosperity more readily evident than in California. "According to one study, Indian gaming in California generates a statewide economic impact of more than $4 billion and has created more than 50,000 jobs," said Peter D. Havens, executive vice president for GEM Communications U.S., Publications and Trade Shows.

This explosive growth and the issues it raises attract more than 30 industry experts to the conference. Their topics will range from the impact of the new Bush administration to ways tribes can differentiate their properties and be more competitive in an increasingly crowded market.

The Summit’s opening night reception is Sunday. Seminars start the next day, with panels and networking opportunities. Richard Milanovich, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilala Indians tribal chairman, will be luncheon speaker. The opening session, "Surveying the New Political Landscape," offers a panel on what tribal leaders and the gaming industry can expect in the new political climate. Panelists will include Ron Allen, vice president of the National Congress of American Indians.

Other CIGS sessions include: "Indian Gaming in the News," "California: The Non-Gaming Solution," and "The Expansion of Gaming in California."

The Slot Manager Institute on Tuesday, March 27, is a mix of networking opportunities and seminars. Speakers for "The Evolving Market" include Charles Anderer, publisher, IGWB; Randy Adams, marketing director of Anchor Gaming; Mary Shick, executive marketing director for Barona Casino; Kent Young, marketing director at Aristocrat Technologies; and Andrew Zarnett, managing director of Deutsche Banc Alex Brown.