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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Major Casino Company Leaders Find Accord

15 September 2005

LAS VEGAS -- The leaders of the gaming industry's two largest companies, who between them control more than 60 casinos, employ more than 170,000 workers and have combined annual revenue of more than $16 billion, found themselves agreeing Wednesday on many of the key issues facing the casino business.

Harrah's Entertainment Chairman Gary Loveman and MGM Mirage Chairman Terry Lanni told an audience at the Global Gaming Expo that their respective companies are committed to rebuilding their hurricane-damaged casinos along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, although in what shape or form is still to be determined.

The two leaders said the industry's diminishing dependence on gaming revenue in favor of growing nongaming attractions, including restaurants, retail, entertainment and spa-salon offerings, benefit both their respective companies.

Both MGM Mirage, with the development of the 66-acre Project CityCenter, and Harrah's plans for its large footprint that includes Harrah's Las Vegas, the Flamingo and the newly acquired Imperial Palace, give the companies sizable Strip parcels to develop.

"The dynamics have changed tremendously and we have a lot of different options," Loveman said.

In addition, Loveman and Lanni said gaming expansion outside the United States, such as into Macau and Singapore, will continue to boost Las Vegas visitation.

While being quizzed for an hour by American Gaming Association President Frank Fahrenkopf as well as audience members, Lanni and Loveman echoed each other's answers on several subjects.

Both executives said rebuilding on the Gulf Coast was important to the industry.

"Mississippi is one the three states, along with Nevada and New Jersey, that understood gaming," Lanni said. MGM Mirage's Beau Rivage in Biloxi suffered extensive damage and Lanni said it may take more than a year to rebuild.

Loveman said Harrah's will rebuild its Grand casinos in Biloxi and Gulfport, but the Mississippi Legislature will determine if they will be land-based or remain over water.

He also said the company would reopen Harrah's New Orleans after the flood waters recede and the city is cleaned up.

Lanni laughed at the notion that gaming expansion into markets outside the United States would hurt Las Vegas and other American gaming destinations.

"Every time a new jurisdiction opens, I've heard that same comment," Lanni said. "It's just a faulty assessment."

Major Casino Company Leaders Find Accord is republished from