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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston

Looking in on: Gaming

25 November 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Handheld gambling devices were the big buzz at last year's Global Gaming Expo trade show but are still undergoing testing in the Gaming Control Board's slot lab. As a next step, the Venetian is expected to begin testing the devices, manufactured by Cantor Gaming, early next year.

The devices, which are essentially PDAs encased in heavy-duty rubber, already are certified by Gaming Laboratories International, an independent lab that tests casino games for tribal casino states nationwide. But Cantor wants to introduce the devices, ready-made for the BlackBerry generation, on the Las Vegas Strip.

The early buzz on the devices appears to be good in spite of a lengthy testing period, which isn't unusual for new technology. Regulators need to make sure the devices, which require gamblers to register for them, shut off when taken outside preapproved zones, for example.

Meanwhile, competitors are developing similar mobile technology and submitting it for regulatory approval.

With timing a matter of when, not if, the real question is just how much money these devices will generate for casinos.

Mobile gambling devices are expected to increase casino revenue by extending opportunities for gambling, Cantor consultant Phil Flaherty said. The device allows gamblers to wager even at a casino restaurant, showroom or nightclub.

"We've created an age of multitasking people."

• • •

In its effort to win LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification as an environmentally friendly project, MGM Mirage's CityCenter sought more water-efficient, high-end faucets for its luxury hotels.

The problem was, the faucet envisioned by the company didn't exist.

So a faucet maker created one to MGM Mirage's specifications. The result: a low-flow faucet that feels more luxurious because it also pushes out air. The faucets are expected to reduce water consumption by 30 percent and are a unique outgrowth of the burgeoning green building trend.

CityCenter, the most expensive construction project in U.S. history and enjoying huge tax breaks for its green efforts, ordered more than 6,000 of the faucets.

Besides initiating new, eco-friendly technology, MGM Mirage is paving the way for other local developers to pursue green projects, said Katarina Tesarova, senior project manager for CityCenter.

With help from about 30 environmental design consultants based outside Las Vegas, MGM Mirage has trained its general contractor and hundreds of subcontractors - companies that will end up working on other companies' projects. MGM Mirage also used its purchasing power to help a local recycling company expand so it could dispose of waste materials generated by CityCenter and the Boardwalk, the old casino demolished to make way for the project, Tesarova said.

Las Vegas already has some green consultants, but few contractors and architects had such specialized experience before working on CityCenter, she said.

• • •

Palms owner George Maloof says he's bombarded with calls from entertainment and consumer products companies that want a piece of the property's mystique.

He's been offered money to brand suites with the names of liquor companies and other products that could be featured prominently throughout the hotel.

Except for landing the sought-after Playboy Club, which includes a casino and lounge, Maloof says he turns down virtually all of these offers, including a short-lived proposal to create a Maxim magazine-branded casino.

The home-grown Palms brand has become synonymous with scantily clad partygoers thanks to reality shows and other nonstop media coverage. In short, the Palms doesn't need much help from outside brands to boost its image.

"There's always going to be money in it but you may not want to associate with a particular brand or want the advertising clutter," Maloof said. "We already have so many branded suites of our own that I didn't think it was necessary."

That doesn't mean there aren't some deals that catch Maloof's eye.

Palms hotel suites now stock Rhoto V, an eyedrop product with hip packaging and names like Arctic and Ice.

"We have a lot of customers who stay up late, partying and drinking," Maloof said.

Looking in on: Gaming is republished from