MGM, Caesars duel for high-end whales

Jul 16, 2002 9:58 AM

The MGM Grand will open Nevada’s first exclusive international gambling salon next month, and Caesars Palace won’t be far behind.

Pending final approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission next week, MGM will put its three high-limit parlors into private play. Caesars is now asking regulators for permission to do the same at its recently revamped Palace Court enclave.

Customers must meet a $500,000 minimum threshold in cash or credit. The minimum bet is $500 per hand. Though those amounts are far short of the $1 million and $20,000 originally proposed by regulators, gaming attorney Bob Faiss said the salons’ exclusivity "will strengthen the ability to compete in the high-end market.’’

MGM’s salon is located near its upscale Mansion units and consists of three tables. That mix is likely to change, however. Casino execs say one room may be dedicated to slots and additional tables may be added, depending on demand.

MGM exec Bob Moon said the resort intends to recruit players nationally, as well as internationally. And Gaming Control Board members praised the casino for its credit and business plans.

Still, regulators are approaching the first-ever private salons with care ”” and plenty of surveillance. Initial licenses are limited to two years, and the rooms are spiked with cameras that send live, wall-to-wall feeds directly to the gaming control’s offices downtown every hour that games are afoot.

Future gaming reports will also break out salon winnings into a separate category to determine how they’re faring.

In other gaming news:

”¡ Hyatt shuffled its diversified portfolio to consolidate all gaming properties under the newly created Hyatt Gaming Group. The move comes as the hotelier paid a $460 million fine to the federal government for poor lending practices and sloppy bookkeeping at its failed Superior Bank. Hyatt chief Thomas Pritzker assured regulators that putting casino operations under one umbrella will improve the company’s focus on gaming issues. Larry Lewin, son of ex-Hilton chief Henri Lewin, is executive vice president of the new group.

”¡ The Moulin Rouge will re-open for one day to maintain its license as the long-shuttered resort undergoes reconstruction. The one-day operation will open 16 slot machines to public play. No date has been set, but it could be as early as next month. Officials for the faded Bonanza Road resort say rehab work is 60 percent done and they’re hoping for a New Year’s Eve re-opening.

”¡ IGT President Tom Baker said his company expects to report "record" machine sales for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. The big numbers are bolstered by IGT’s purchase of Anchor Gaming six months ago. With offices in Reno and Las Vegas, IGT is the world’s largest manufacturer of gaming machines.

”¡ Golden Gaming named Rodney Seth Atamian, a securities expert, as executive vice president, chief financial officer, secretary and treasurer. To which Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander told Golden President Blake Sartini: "Whenever you go public, it looks like you’ve got your man.’’

”¡ Leroy’s bid to open a sports betting kiosk at the El Capitan in Hawthorne was delayed until investigators can conclude testing and evaluation of the unmanned station. The new device is manufactured by American Wagering’s AWI Keno Inc.