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  • Harrah’s Close to 7th Property on the Strip with Planet Hollywood

    Posted on January 16, 2010 by Jordan

    Harrah’s Entertainment is taking over management of hotel operations at the Planet Hollywood casino-resort in Las Vegas as it negotiates with lenders to buy the property. Harrah’s will start managing the hotel tonight at midnight after purchasing a portion of Planet Hollywood's $870 million debt. Up until now, Harrah's has accumulated more than $19 billion in debt after a 2008 leveraged buyout, a debt burden exacerbated by the recession.

    Planet Hollywood has 2,500 rooms and manages another 1,200 units, including vacation homes and regular hotel rooms, in an expansion tower that opened this month. There is no deal yet for Harrah’s to take ownership of the property, but the gambling powerhouse applied with Nevada gambling regulators for a license to run it.

    Harrah’s has been on the lookout to buy casinos that may be eager to sell cheap in the downturn. The complete takeover of the Planet Hollywood property would make sense for Harrah's, because the resort would provide more presence on the southern end of the Strip. The company already owns six major casinos, including Paris, Bally's, Flamingo, Imperial Palace, Harrah's and Caesars Palace.

    An excerpt of a memo to employees from Planet Hollywood owner Robert Earl: Harrah’s is pleased to take on the management of the Planet Hollywood hotel for the current owners and excited by the opportunity to work with such a terrific team of employees. I will continue in my role and while we transition to Harrah’s management of the hotel, it will continue to be business as usual for all of us. As part of the takeover, Marilyn Winn, Las Vegas regional president overseeing Paris and Bally's, will add Planet Hollywood to her list of responsibilities. Steve Opdyke, vice president of hotel operations for Paris and Bally's, will oversee Planet Hollywood hotel operations. Shawn Ritchie, vice president of food and beverage, will oversee the resort's buffet, room service, beverage and banquets and David Hoenemeyer, general manager of Paris and Bally's, also will be involved in food and beverage operations at the neighboring resort.

    This post was posted in Vegas News

  • 2010 World Series of Poker Schedule Released

    Posted on January 15, 2010 by Jordan

    The much anticipated 41st Annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) schedule has been released and online registration is now open. Harrah's 2010 schedule for the WSOP announced fifty-seven bracelets will be awarded at next year's series including one for the brand-new $50,000 buy-in "Player's Championship". This event will rotate between eight different poker variants and replaces the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event on the schedule.

    For 51 days, the WSOP will have many thrilling events, in addition to the H.O.R.S.E. variants, the Player's Championship will feature pot-limit Omaha, no-limit hold'em and 2-7 triple draw lowball. The final table of this event will be played entirely using no-limit hold'em rules.  The Player's Championship will mark the start of the series on May 28th. Also new to this year's schedule are six $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold'em events. Harrah's likely added these events after seeing the popularity of last year's "Stimulus Special" which drew over 6,000 participants. Another interesting addition to the schedule is a $25,000 buy-in six-handed no-limit hold'em event that will start on June 30th.

    The Main Event will feature four starting days the first of which will be held on Monday, July 5th. On July 17th, Main event participants will play down to a field of nine and return on November 6th to complete the tournament. Last year's winner Joseph Cada won $8,546,435 for finishing first and not a bad prize to the second place winner Darvin Moon who took home $5,182,601.

    Looking to brush up on your poker tournament skills, this weekend January 16-17 Poker Academy hosted by poker pro, bracelet winner, and upcoming Huntington Press author Annie Duke.  For those who are interested there are just a few spots open at the WSOP Tournament-Poker Academy at Caesars Palace. The price is $1,899 and the two-day in-depth event covers all aspects of the game of poker needed to hone your skills and make money in more tournaments. The easiest way to practice your poker skills is online at PokerStars, find any type of tournament at the biggest and most trusted poker site in the world.

    This post was posted in Vegas News

  • Nevada Leads Nation with Highest Foreclosure Rate in 2009

    Posted on January 14, 2010 by Jordan

    Although last year saw a small increase in home sales, Nevada still led the nation in foreclosures in 2009 followed by Arizona second and Florida third. More than 10 percent of Nevada’s homes received at least one foreclosure filing in 2009, keeping the state No. 1 ranked in the nation for the third consecutive year. In 2009 nationwide, the U.S. reported 2,824,674 properties default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions, which is a 21 percent increase in total properties from 2008 and a 120 percent increase in total properties from 2007.

    The state of Nevada had more than 112,000 foreclosure filings in 2009, a 44 percent increase over 2008 and a 226 percent gain over 2007. The foreclosure crisis has generated interest from homebuyers in southern Nevada, with bank-owned homes accounting for more than 60 percent of existing home sales. The Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported 46,879 sales in 2009. That number is the second-highest on record, trailing only the 71,963 homes sold during the record year of 2004.

    In the past year, Nevada’s population shrank as the recession forced families to make a living in other states. This finding was from the Nevada State Demographer’s Office, which released its preliminary 2009 population estimates saying Nevada lost an estimated 27,677 persons, or 1 percent of its population, since July 2008.

    There is a bit of mixed feelings on where the trend is headed for Nevada given the job losses in construction and gaming. In the last year we saw the completion of several major construction projects, and if there is no work, then people in construction are going to leave Nevada to find work elsewhere. At the same time, gaming numbers are down overall for Nevada, and despite a recent increase, Las Vegas casinos have been trying to minimize their staff to maximize their profits. The good news is that more lenders have been willing to modify loans and allow homeowners to sell homes for less than is owed on the mortgage.

    This post was posted in Vegas News

  • Two Las Vegas Restaurants Added to AAA Four Diamond List

    Posted on January 13, 2010 by Jordan

    Two of Las Vegas' most world renowned chefs are taking their restaurants to the main stage of culinary excellence. The latest report from travel club AAA shows the upscale side of Las Vegas continues despite a recession that's cut into consumers' spending. Travel club AAA has added two Las Vegas restaurants to its list of Four Diamond eateries in Nevada. These restaurants with the new AAA status include Wolfgang Puck’s CUT, and Daniel Boulud Brasserie. Nevada's total number of Four Diamond restaurants is now up to 31, making the state 6th in the US for its share of Four Diamond winners.

    Wolfgang Puck's CUT is located inside the Palazzo, specializing in their fine cuts of meat. CUT in Las Vegas is the second location for master chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck’s critically acclaimed, award-winning Beverly Hills steakhouse. This 160-seat restaurant and 60-seat bar, provides a modern aesthetic to the traditional steakhouse. The other inductee Daniel Boulud Brasserie, is located inside Wynn Las Vegas. This restaurant has a prime location with an outdoor patio overlooking the Lake of Dreams. While enjoying the lakeside view, guests can feast on Boulud’s modern French cuisine or take on their extensive wine list.

    AAA's inspectors evaluate 58,000 hotels and restaurants a year to come up with its select list of winners in the Five Diamond category, its highest honor. Just 113 hotels and 52 restaurants made the roster. Inspectors grade properties based on service and atmosphere. Landing consistently high customer-service marks for a hotel with more than 5,000 rooms isn't easy. However, the executives of the MGM Grand, America's biggest hotel by number of rooms achieved the Four-Diamond feat by making the rank a property wide goal.

    All 17 hotel winners are repeat members of the list. The Mirage, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in November, won Four Diamonds for the 20th time. The property owns the longest Four Diamond streak of any local hotel. Four properties celebrate 10 years on the list: Aureole, a restaurant inside Mandalay Bay, and the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris Las Vegas have won Four Diamonds for a decade running, as have Mandalay Bay and Paris themselves. The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino earned its 15th Four Diamond honor.

    This post was posted in Vegas News

  • Gaming Revenues Up For First Time in Almost 2 Years

    Posted on January 12, 2010 by Jordan

    After a great kick off to the New Year, for the first time in 23 months, Nevada gaming revenues increased with casinos state-wide collecting $873.2 million from gamblers in November, a 4.35 percent climb compared to the same month a year ago. It has been almost 2 years since we could report a positive increase in gaming numbers for Nevada. This past year has been the worst with a couple of older casinos desperately making moves to try and compete with the new mega resorts on the Strip. Although this recent increase is great news, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported monthly revenues for the fiscal year beginning in July are still down almost 8 percent.

    On the Strip, gaming revenues were also up for the first time in almost two years. Strip casinos collected $473.8 million, an 8.3 percent increase compared with the figures from November 2008. After 19 straight months of declines, the casinos on the Strip registered a 4 percent increase in win from the 21 games in November. The increase was mainly because of a 136.2 percent jump in gross win at the 191 baccarat games, which is the seventh-straight month of an increase in this category. Also winnings on sports parlay cards rose 79.7 percent as the pro and college football season was in full swing. Also up was Roulette with increased winnings up 12.3 percent, but craps tables fell 32.4 percent and slot win fell by 3.7 percent for the 17th consecutive month.

    Elsewhere in Nevada, strong win numbers were posted in North Las Vegas, up 20.7 percent; Boulder Strip had an increase of 18.9 percent and the balance of Clark County had an increase of 18.9 percent, ending 13 months of declining revenues for that sector. While the casinos in Southern Nevada enjoyed some success, the gaming business in Northern Nevada continued to suffer. Washoe County casinos reported a 4.2 percent decline in gross win in November; South Lake Tahoe was off 26.6 percent; Carson City was off 10.5 percent and Elko gaming revenue fell 8.7 percent.

    Nevada state revenues collected in December based on November casino winnings topped $57 million. That was up more than 28 percent from $44.4 million in December 2008. Taxes paid on casino winnings account for about 30 percent of the state general fund. Increased gaming numbers are a good sign for the economy's tax dollars, but the number that will really make the people of Nevada happy is the unemployment rate. There are still many people searching for jobs, with gaming numbers up, it seems like a case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Look for December gaming numbers to be up also, due to the thousands of visitors for a busy month of the CityCenter opening and the world famous New Years Eve party.

    This post was posted in Vegas News

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