Carl Icahn is pumping fresh air and millions of dollars
into his Arizona Charlie’s casinos.
Arizona Charlies’s East is adding an expanded race and
sports book as well as the Boulder Strip’s first 24-hour bingo hall. Arizona
Charlie’s West, which celebrates its 14th anniversary next month, is getting a
San Francisco-style facelift, along with a state-of-the-art filtration system
that blows out smoke and harmful particulates.
Icahn bought the two properties out of bankruptcy and is
determined to make them competitive, company spokesman Mike Gilmartin says.
“He made these decisions (to upgrade) after September 11. He has no debt,
which allows him to keep prices low.’’
The $5 million expansion at Charlie’s East includes a new
three-story building, with a bigger race and sports book occupying the second
floor and bingo on the third floor.
Offering race action
for the first time, the book will have extended hours, seating for 60 and a bank
of large-screen TVs.
That work is being
matched by a $1.5 million makeover on ÂÃ‚ÂDecatur Boulevard, where Charlie’s
West trades its Wild West ambience for a more elegant ÂÃ‚ÂVictorian San Francisco
motif. The new look includes fresh carpet, wall coverings and ceiling tiles. The
project is slated to begin in late April and take four to six months to
Ron Lurie, general
manager for Charlie’s West, says the filtration system produces air that is
“as clean and safe as you can get. It’s a breath of fresh air for our
customers and associates.’’
Meantime, Icahn is
hunting for more casinos.
financier who also rescued the Stratosphere from bankruptcy, says he’s
focusing on “boutique” properties that attract customers seeking solid
values and amenities. But he’s not ruling out larger projects, such as the
Aladdin . . . if the price is right.
To Icahn, it all comes
down to three things: loose slots, great food and personalized service.
Such strategy is a
sharp turnaround for the corporate raider who built a ruthless reputation for
snapping up big corporations and selling the assets. Now Icahn, having played at
the big casino known as Wall Street, appears in for the long haul here.
“He loves gaming and he loves Las Vegas,’’ says Gilmartin, noting that his boss also purchased former Hughes exec John Goolsby’s golf course estate at Summerlin’s TPC.