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Gaming Guru

Jeff Simpson

Jeff Simpson lists some of the business stories that might have been eclipsed by O.J.

14 November 2007

With much of the news media focusing last week on the ridiculous O.J. Simpson case, many folks might have missed a number of important business news developments.

And if the O.J. circus continues, valley residents might find it hard to avoid missing a few other big business stories expected to unfold this week.

The only thing I like about the O.J. case is my egocentric appreciation for headlines like the R-J's on Thursday: "Simpson show returns."

Otherwise, I couldn't care less.

Among the business stories underplayed last week was MGM Mirage's announcement that it will develop and manage a $3 billion nongaming resort in Abu Dhabi.

The resort would be owned by Mubadala Development Co., the investment arm of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Along with other MGM Mirage deals already announced with Dubai World, owned by the government of Dubai, another of the United Arab Emirates, MGM is following through on its plans to capitalize on its wealth of Las Vegas Strip property through joint ventures, as well as to parlay its ability to develop and operate resorts by partnering with companies with the capital to build them.

MGM Mirage's ability to attract billions of dollars from partners demonstrates the power of the company, the talent of its leaders and the growing worldwide understanding of the money that can be made running luxury resorts, with or without gaming.

That is good for Las Vegas and great for MGM Mirage.

Another big story you might have missed was the completion of the buyout of Station Casinos, which took effect Wednesday.

I talked to Station President Lorenzo Fertitta on Wednesday, the day the company went private, and he said customers and employees won't notice any change resulting from the ownership transfer.

He acknowledged that Station executives will no longer have to dedicate time to the buyout and to related regulatory issues and will now be able to focus entirely on operating the company.

I expect that renewed focus will allow the company to more clearly explain its development pipeline, as Station has a lot of properties from which to choose when it decides which projects will follow Aliante Station, its under-construction casino in North Las Vegas.

With a couple of tribal casino development deals, two sites in Reno and a bunch of great Las Vegas Valley sites, Station's owners (the Fertitta family and Colony Capital) are sitting on a gold mine.

Next week should be another great news week, with the New Frontier slated for implosion early Tuesday morning and the Democratic presidential debate scheduled for Thursday.

With that combined with the O.J. hearing coverage, there won't be much room left for a few other important stories.

First, the who's who of the casino business will be in town this week as the Global Gaming Expo takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Acres of new slot machines will be on display - and ready for sale - and many of the industry's top leaders will be appearing as speakers or seminar panelists.

Second, another great shopping, dining and entertainment venue debuts when Town Square opens Wednesday.

With the holiday buying season right around the corner - Who am I kidding? Costco had its Christmas gifts displayed by Labor Day - the folks in the southern and southwest valley will have a bunch of cool stores to visit.

Town Square will also have a movie theater and a couple of parks. The center is southwest of the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sunset Road, just east of Interstate 15 and north of the Las Vegas Beltway.

Third, UNLV and the Brookings Institution are hosting a forum on U.S. foreign policy from 9 a.m. to noon Friday.

The Opportunity 08 forum, "National Security at Home and Abroad," will take place in the UNLV Student Union Theatre, Room 111, and should provide Nevada voters with a thoughtful discussion about the national security and foreign policy challenges facing our next president.

The event is free and open to the public; tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 13-15 at the CSUN table on the first floor of the UNLV Student Union.

Jeff Simpson is business editor of the Las Vegas Sun and executive editor of its sister publication In Business Las Vegas.

Jeff Simpson lists some of the business stories that might have been eclipsed by O.J. is republished from