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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston

Caesars Takes Plunge into Reality Television

11 January 2005

A catfight between casino customers, a $1 million jackpot winner with terminal cancer and a singer who gambles for 13 hours straight at the roulette table were among the situations that unfolded at Caesars Palace before a national audience during Monday night's debut episode of the latest reality show in Las Vegas.

Caesars Palace is taking the plunge into reality television with "Caesars 24/7," a 13-episode series that airs on the A&E network on Mondays at 10 p.m. The show follows the defunct Fox reality series "The Casino" at the Golden Nugget and Discovery Channel's "American Casino" at Green Valley Ranch Station Casino in an attempt to give viewers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of casino culture.

The show comes amid the largest single makeover in the property's 38-year history, a time when the landmark casino is trying to better compete with newer and hipper resorts. Caesars Entertainment Inc. has spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the past couple of years, beginning with the opening of the Colosseum theater featuring performances by Celine Dion and Elton John as well as a new casino area with upscale bars and restaurants and an outdoor ampitheater and Roman Plaza. Still to come is a 949-room hotel tower that will open in a few months.

In the first episode, the camera follows customers as they relax in a high-roller suite, gamble in the high-limit pit, lounge by the pool, perform in an upscale restaurant and drink at a swanky bar. Several employees also are profiled, including a blackjack dealer, a pit boss and a butler.

The show presents an opportunity to "showcase the renaissance of Caesars Palace with new amenities and attractions," Caesars Entertainment Inc. spokesman Michael Coldwell said. "It's also an opportunity to showcase the tremendously professional staff that is employed there and can handle any and every situation no matter how wild or serious the situation is."

Caesars doesn't have veto power to kill episodes or content it doesn't like but worked closely with A&E producers to come up with engaging storylines that fit the Caesars Palace brand, Coldwell said.

"We knew it wasn't going to be an infomercial for Caesars Palace, and we also knew it wasn't going to be an episode of 'Cops,' " he said. "It's a balance."

A&E spokeswoman Gina Nocero said the network has "high hopes" for the series and placed it in a premier time slot behind the second season opener of another reality show. That show, "Growing up Gotti," follows the daughter of John Gotti and her three teenage sons.