Westward Ho to expand,
well, westward

Oct 19, 2004 5:45 AM


It will be a casino with a convenience store in it, a gas station a few feet outside its doors and lots of parking space. It will have a Leroy’s sports book inside, a security tower outside and it will face Industrial Road — the well-traveled street that has become key to its future.

"We have a lot of faith in the street," said Jeff Bernard, vice president at the Westward Ho, the resort that is building the separate casino. He added it will be called The Ho: Your Get Lucky Casino, which will be a golf cart ride west of the main property and just a few feet off of Industrial Road.

"The volume of business on Industrial Road is an untapped market," he said, adding that the Westward Ho has a game plan for siphoning a part of it into what Bernard calls a "cross between a rustic, Western lounge and a party place."

The Ho will have 13,000 square feet of gaming space and will employee about 150 people when it opens around the middle of November. It will be clearly aimed at locals as opposed to the Westward Ho, which Bernard says draws most of its customers from an area of the country that extends from upper Michigan to lower Texas. He said he expects The Ho to attract a high energy, younger crowd than the venerable Westward Ho.

Bernard says he wants The Ho positioned so that "when people get off work there is no question as to where they’ll go: they’ll go to The Ho." He says the kind of people he has at the top of his target list are casino workers, and he expects to draw heavily from the Stardust and Circus Circus, which flank the Westward Ho, and the Riviera, which is directly across the Strip. He plans to attract casino workers initially with discounts and other promotions.

Beyond hotel workers, Bernard said he has his eyes on people who work on or near Industrial and Highland, an area where he says there are thousands of businesses. The Ho’s casino will feature a mix of 200 slot machines and video poker machines as well as table games and single deck blackjack tables.

There will also be a stage that will offer a variety of bands playing a range of music. Bernard emphasized that The Ho will not be a country and western venue, and he frets that with the gas station and convenience store as part of its offerings, people will think of it as a truck stop.

Instead, he said it will be the "nicest mid-sized casino in town." He says the goal is for The Ho to be a high-volume casino that attracts repeat business among locals with its classy décor and the personalities of it employees plus a range of sizeable special deals in its food and drink specials. Some of the planned specials include a 27-ounce margarita for less than $2 and tubs of a popular imported beer for $9.

He says the size of the parking lot makes it a nice attraction to locals, and says it can also be used as an outside venue to host special events such as festivals.

"We have a lot of faith that our property is something that people will really, really enjoy," Bernard says.