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Casinos making waves in Laughlin

Sep 4, 2007 3:04 AM

When I first heard of the Edgewater and Colorado Belle being sold off by MGM Mirage to Marnell Sher Gaming LLC, I was a bit concerned because in my opinion, the two properties haven’t been kept up over the last several years, and I was already staying away from them. Generally, when you hear of a sale of such casino/hotels, the news isn’t always positive.

So, I rushed in to see what might be going on, and after experiencing a bit of confusion at the new slot clubs, I left without expecting to return for some time, if at all.

But first impressions aren’t always lasting. In this case, Tony Marnell — the original owner and builder of the Rio in Las Vegas — and Ed Sher of Sher Gaming, have committed to upgrading these two properties in short order.

In mid-August I met with the new on-site management team: Joe Magliarditi, Executive VP and COO, and Richard Strafella, VP Casino Operations and long time Las Vegan with over 30 years of casino business experience. Together, they have initiated an impressive and very aggressive program of improvements and upgrades.

As of now there are over 2,000 new slot, video poker and video keno machines installed that have replaced the many older and worn out versions that were at both properties for years. Everything is now ticket-in/ticket-out (coinless) and the casinos incorporate some of the newest and most popular games with and without progressive jackpot meters.

And good news for video poker players, the Edgewater now has the most concentrated selection of full-pay video poker games on the River.

And, according to Strafella, it’s only going to get better. Here’s some of what you’ll find when you walk in:

”¡ 25¡ Full Pay Deuces Wild

”¡ 25¡ Full-Pay Jokers Wild

”¡ 25¡ 10/7 Double Bonus Poker

”¡ 25¡ 10/6 Double Double Bonus Poker

”¡ 25¡ 8/5 Bonus Poker w/progressive royal

”¡ $5 10/7 Double Bonus Poker (being upgraded to $1/$2/$5 10/7 Double Bonus Poker)

”¡ $1 9/6 Jacks or Better w/progressive royal (in-process)

”¡ 25¡ and $1 9/7 Triple Double Bonus Poker (in-process)

I may not have mentioned everything and I know there’s more upgrades coming for all 50¡ and higher machines, but I think you get the picture.

And upgrading the video poker machines isn’t all. The new owners of both casinos have re-arranged both floors so you no longer feel like you’re always trying to avoid your neighbors. Clever machine spacing and roomier aisles are a huge plus and are more than welcome in both casinos.

Now let’s talk about the all important slot club. Both casinos have what’s called Access Player’s Club, and until early December you have to get separate cards at both the Edgewater and Colorado Belle in order to have you play tracked properly. In December, one card will work at both locations, making it easier to "access" comps at all restaurants and free-play right at your machine on an on-going basis.

But what I like best about the program is the ease in which the player can understand what he or she is earning for their play. Clearly displayed in multiple locations throughout both casinos and in a handout at the slot clubs is the program in simple black and white: $1 played equals 1 point on every machine. Players earn .2% in cash back, .3% in free-play, and .7% in comps.

In other words, you play $1000 through the machines and you earn $2 in cash, $3 in free-play, and $7 in comps. You get half of all this at the >100% machines, but for the conscientious player it’s one of the best deals in the state.

As a person who sometimes plays at various properties in Laughlin, I can say with certainty that this is the only club in town that doesn’t confuse you or give the player a mystery to figure out when it comes to how the points are earned and what they mean. Another plus? Your card reader will tell you everything you want to know when you insert your card.

Coming soon will be guest rooms remodeling, sprucing up the casinos’ appearances, new restaurants, and probably a host of other improvements. I know I’m ready to go back.