Palms continues to play to a packed house

Nov 27, 2001 8:39 AM

The crowds keep coming at the Palms.

The Maloof family resort, which earned rave reviews on opening night Nov. 15, continues to pack them in. A GamingToday survey found locals filling lengthy buffet lines and players bellying up to busy slot machines.

Crowded walkways throughout the casino reflect strong foot traffic at the Flamingo Road resort ”” a refreshing sight in sluggish economic times. “If one person stops to gawk, you’ve got a traffic jam,’’ said one patron who visited days after the opening.

As the weather cooled off this weekend, the action remained hot. “All the machines were full,’’ reported another customer.

“We’re pretty happy,’’ general manager Jim Hughes told GamingToday. “Table games have been strong and the race and sports book has been stronger than expected ”” even with the football season more than half over.’’

Palms President George Maloof has been working both ends of the market. He recently appeared on the Playboy Channel to tout his resort’s trendy 55th story Ghost Bar and Little Buddha Cafe. He’s also employing a down-home strategy that clicked at his ­­Fiesta hotel-casino by catering to the local clientele with food and drink bargains.

Before selling the Fiesta to Station Casinos, Maloof and Texas Station collaborated on community events such as Fourth of July fireworks shows. A longtime industry observer speculates that the Palms and Coast Casinos’ Gold Coast ”” and perhaps even the Rio ”” may develop similar synergies to build business across West Flamingo.

But not all the reviews have been glowing. Some players complain of tight machines, typical of new casinos. Armchair critics came away unimpressed by what they viewed as a hodgepodge of interior décor and limited aisle space. Others said the food court had a  “prefabricated” feel.

The Maloofs, however, are positively upbeat about their $265 million resort. The chic Rain the Desert nightclub was filled to its 1,200-person capacity both weekends after the opening. Fine dining restaurants have enjoyed a bustling trade. And Hughes says his staff has worked to resolve the traffic crunch that gridlocked parking during the first few days of operation.

In the wake of Terror Tuesday, it appears that more and more Las Vegans feel it’s time to party again.