Trump card: The Don fires gaming shots from Cal

Apr 16, 2002 1:49 AM

Donald Trump had a message for Las Vegas, and it wasn’t nice.

“I think Las Vegas is in serious trouble because of what is happening in California,” the casino mogul said in connection with the opening of another tribally owned gambling resort.

“You’ll have hundreds of these casinos,” said Trump, who owns Trump 29 Casino in Coachella.

While Trump’s boasting comes from an entrepreneur involved in a number of Atlantic City ventures including the Trump Taj Mahal, there aren’t many people in the gaming industry that doubt the threat sophisticated Indian casinos in Southern California are having on neighboring Nevada.

The Augustine Casino, slated to open in July, will offer $1 blackjack tables, something no other Coachella Valley casino is doing.

Michael Lombardi, a consultant to the Augustine tribe, said in a Desert story that taking the less glitzy, less intense approach is the right way to draw business away from Las Vegas.

“It is very smart to do that,” said Lombardi, who has been involved in California Indian gaming for over 10 years. “They don’t have to generate much revenue to break even.”

Lombardi predicts that as gaming progresses in California, more tribes will follow the Augustine tribe’s method. His belief is shared by Frank Cornett, general manager for Augustine Casino.

  “Over time, I believe the customers who live in (the Coachella Valley) will make decisions based on convenience,” he said.