Mandalay Bay raises high-roller stakes

Dec 3, 2002 6:38 AM

   Mandalay Bay is jumping into the high-roller game with its own international gaming salon.

   The resort has overhauled and expanded its baccarat parlor to make room for five private salons where the minimum bet will be $500 per hand. Players must have $500,000 in cash or credit to enter.

   The exclusive suites — operating under the same rules as the new salons at MGM Grand and Caesars Palace — are designed to reel in big-spending whales with a host of posh and private amenities.

   “We hope to maintain our level of high-end play while increasing revenue,’’ says Tony Alamo, senior vice president for Mandalay Resorts. “This will help us compete with Australia and other venues around the world.’’

   Mandalay has invested a hefty $3.5 million in its new salons, which will feature only table games. “We’ll offer any game people want to play. Just no slots,’’ Alamo said.

   In addition, the south Strip resort’s enclave is furnished with a private bar and dining area, as well as a private cashier window. Unlike Caesars, however, there will be no private showers, a controversial perk that had been rejected by the Gaming Control Board but ultimately approved by the commission.

   Alamo says Mandalay’s high-stakes layout can be adapted to private or public play, depending on the demand. But, per state regulations, each of the five salons bristles with state-of-the-art surveillance cameras to ensure compliance with strict gaming control rules.

   If approved at upcoming board and commission meetings, Mandalay plans to open its salons on Dec. 23. 

   The move comes as Mandalay and other megaresorts strive to drum up business along the Strip. The company, which posts its third-quarter earnings this week, reported that the win percentage on table games was “sub-par” at its flagship resort in October — negatively affecting results by 2 cents per share in the quarter.

   Last January, Alamo testified that only 24 players at his Strip resort carry a credit line exceeding $500,000. Betting that whales will bolster that bottom line, Mandalay hopes to attract more high-end players.

   Under a 2001 state law, MGM Grand became the first to open an international gaming salon earlier this year. Caesars followed suit this summer.