Time to put 9-11 in rear view mirror

Jun 25, 2002 10:42 AM

”˜THE OWL’ SAYS 9-11 TRAGEDY’S BEHIND US: The top gun at Mirage Resorts, Bobby Baldwin, says the 9-11 tragedy is finally lapsing into the unfortunate past. "Naturally, it still has historical significance, we learned a lot from what happened and have prepared accordingly, but it is no longer a point of reference internally," Baldwin told GamingToday in an exclusive interview.

Since the tragedy, Baldwin added, business has returned to near normal levels. "Hotels are fully occupied, but room rates are still 5% to 10% off," he said. Baldwin also used his "Owl-like" vision to predict that consumers will return when they’re ready. "They have to be in the mood to buy," he said. "We’re seeing evidence that they are coming back." Among the customers who remained loyal throughout has been the "casino marketing component," Baldwin said. "The players seem impervious to any downturns in the economy."

ONLINE FIRMS LAY IT ON THE LINE! The gathering of Internet gaming companies at the Bellagio this week may not be on the scale of global expos, but it is an important one for the fledgling online gaming industry.

Insiders report many executives in the bricks and mortar casino world are watching what unfolds here, especially as it relates to the imminent approval of intrastate, interactive gaming by regulators in Nevada.

The scene here contrasts what’s happening in Washington, where out-of-touch legislators are debating an ill-conceived bill that would ban Web gaming. It reminds me of the 1920s, when the Volstead Act supposedly banned liquor, all the while ordinary citizens consumed kegs of the stuff at their local speakeasy! Well, to all the stalwarts at the Bellagio, I raise my glass to you!

WHO SAYS POWER CORRUPTS? Veteran gaming executive Jack Leone will go from power lunches at Caesars Palace to corporate power games in his new post at Sierra Pacific Resources, the parent company of Nevada Power. Over the course of his 16 years in the gaming industry, Leone also worked for MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay.

Working in the energy industry won’t be new, though. Leone previously worked as the chief of corporate communications for Getty Oil in Los Angeles, and then with Texaco, which acquired Getty in the mid 1980s. We wish Jack all the best luck, and we give about 18 months before he returns to the lush life of casino gaming!

A LEGEND DEPARTS, ANOTHER RETURNS: Sunday marked quite a day for both thoroughbred racing and harness racing. Hall of Fame Jockey Chris McCarron tearfully hung up his tack at Hollywood Park while Standardbred Driver Herve Filion made successful comeback after sitting on the sidelines for the past seven years.

Herve, the Canadian transplant, dominated the harness racing sport through the 1970’s and 1980’s, often driving at one track in the afternoon and another track at night. He made 14,783 trips to the winner’s circle during an illustrious career that became tainted in 1995 when he was dragged through a wiretap investigation into fixed races.

Although he was cleared by New York courts, he failed to be reinstated by that state’s regulators, thus keeping him out of the sport over the years. But that changed last week when he was licensed by the Delaware Racing Commission and was permitted to drive in races at Harrington Raceway.

He wasted no time doing what he does best: winning. He won three races.

SO WHAT ARE THE ODDS? There won’t be any bets taken in Nevada on who will win this year’s hot dog eating contest conducted by Nathan’s in New York because such bets are prohibited by state regulation. But, a Caribbean Internet bookmaker has announced that he will be taking bets on the event.

Problem is Takeru Kobayashi, the diminutive world record holder from Japan will be such a prohibitive favorite the bookmaker has been having trouble coming up with opening odds. Kobayashi set the world record last year by wolfing down 50 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes.

The best an American has been able to do, so far, is 28 dogs.

WAS HE CARD COUNTING OR JUST LUCKY?: Either way, the house tired of seeing one of their players winning so they moved in and cut the maximum bet in half.

The play took place recently at an Isle of Capri riverboat casino in Missouri. The man reportedly was at a blackjack table with a $2,000 table limit. After running up his buy-in to a $14,000 profit, a pit boss moved in and lowered the table limit to $1,000.

According to Rick Alm of the Kansas City Star, the player protested to no avail. He then cashed and left threatening to complain to the Missouri Gaming Commission.

Noting that the casino always has an edge in play, the man said, "I also know I will get and expect a fair game. I don’t believe the actions of Isle of Capri this particular time was displaying fairness."

A spokeswoman for the commission said the complaint would be investigated.

BOARDWALK DEVELOPMENT TO BE A MONOPOLY: An announcement is expected on Wednesday, June 26, but those in the know are saying that the new retail development being planned for the Ocean One shopping mall across the Boardwalk from Caesars Atlantic City will have a Monopoly theme.

Seems only right since the original Monopoly game was based on Atlantic City and used the names of A.C. streets on its board.

At one time a few years ago, it was expected that an effort would be made to transform the retail extension that hangs over the ocean into a gaming area with slot machines. City officials and their gaming counterparts put an end to that kind of thinking.