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Gaming News Briefs

May 11, 2004 5:34 AM

Excalibur expands poker room

Responding to the overwhelming popularity of poker, Excalibur Hotel & Casino recently doubled the size of its poker room.

Still located in the rear of the casino, the poker room now offers 20 tables of either seven card stud and Texas Hold ”˜Em.

"With more tables, space and low limits, guests can come in, relax and have fun while playing one of the best games in the casino," said Tony Green, poker room manager.

The poker room manager for five years, Green said he has seen poker’s popularity increase steadily with the success of televised tournaments. "The casual player, serious player or novice, who are all watching poker on television, can play their favorite game here at a limit they are comfortable with," he said.

To help players, the Excalibur offers daily poker lessons at 2 p.m.

Rio drops plans for observation wheel

The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino has suspended negotiations with Voyager Entertainment International to build the world’s largest observation wheel at the Las Vegas resort.

The hotel last year announced plans to build the wheel, which would be similar to a wheel in London. The massive Ferris-style wheel would have featured observation cars that would include a bar and hold up to 20 guests.

Voyager said it still plans to build the 600-foot tall attraction that could attract up to 7,500,000 guests per year.

"Voyager has identified other sites that we believe are suitable for a project of this magnitude," said Richard Hannigan, Voyager president and CEO.

Wynn Resorts prepares for expansion

Wynn Resorts, which plans to open its Las Vegas mega resort in April 2005, announced last week it intends to demolish the remaining structures of the former Desert Inn, and build an additional showroom and 18 luxury villa suites along the old Desert Inn golf course.

The cost of the expansion of Wynn Las Vegas, which was formerly called Le Reve, is about $198 million.

Included in the expansion plans is increasing the parking facilities and acquisition of 10 lots adjacent to the golf course.

MGM Mirage pulls plug on Wembley project

Rather than participate in a bidding war, MGM Mirage last week said all bets were off in its bid for United Kingdom racetrack owner, Wembley Plc.

The Las Vegas-based gaming giant most recently bid about $555 million for Wembley, which operates Lincoln Park racetrack in Rhode Island, as well as additional tracks in the U.K. and Colorado.

But they were trumped by a bid from a competing company made up of investors from Starwood Capital, Kerzner International and the Waterford Group.

"To make a higher bid would not be the best use of our resources in light of other opportunities that are available to us," said Terry Lanni, CEO and chairman of MGM Mirage.

Wembley had become attractive to U.S. casino interests in anticipation of a complete overhaul of U.K. gaming laws, which is expected to occur within two years. The liberalization of gaming in Great Britain would allow for a widespread expansion of casinos.

Legalized bets would stifle Jersey mob

A report form New Jersey’s Commission of Investigation is urging lawmakers to consider adopting Nevada-style sports betting to undermine organized crime.

The release of the report, "The Changing Face of Organized Crime in New Jersey," coincides with state legislators attempts to bring legal sports betting to Atlantic City casinos.

However, under federal law only four states — Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana — are authorized to permit bookmaking.

The state assembly is currently holding hearings into ways to circumvent the federal law against sports betting.

"Now, it’s going offshore," said Joe Lupo, vice president of operations of the Borgata resort and casino and former sports book director of the Stardust in Las Vegas.

Lupo, while testifying before the assembly, estimated that just 1 percent to 3 percent of up to $300 billion bet annually on sports is done so legally, adding that legal sports betting actually helps protect the integrity of sports.