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Inside Gaming Column: Adelson Promises Casinos for Israel

13 June 2005

Las Vegas developer Sheldon Adelson has set his sights on another multibillion-dollar, Striplike development overseas, this time in Eilat, Israel. Israeli Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing for a strip of casinos on the tourist-rich Red Sea Coast, according to Israeli media reports. And Adelson, owner of The Venetian in Las Vegas and developer of the Cotai Strip in Macau, has agreed to commit to investing at least $1 billion in casino developments in Israel if the government legalizes them. Adelson, an Israel booster, says Netanyahu's plan makes perfect sense, and Eilat is a natural for luring Europeans and Israelis.

Although Illinois recently rolled back its top gaming tax rate from 70 percent to 50 percent, investors say to forget large capital expenditures at the riverboats as a result. The exception is the already-announced riverboat at Harrah's Entertainment's Metropolis. Because casinos have become big-ticket investment items that take years to pay for themselves, Wall Streeters and operators agree it would be unwise to make any investments as long as the state's tax environment remains unstable and unpredictable.

Insiders say there's an exodus in the works of about 200 mostly senior executives at Caesars Entertainment's corporate headquarters. Computer professionals are being kept and some junior executives are staying on for up to six months. The rest of the crew is being shipped out, just as Caesars and Harrah's Entertainment honchos forecast when the deal to merge the two companies was announced in July. For Harrah's, it's a question of efficiency. For executives, it's more a question of deciding for whom they will work. At least that's what they tell us.

Don't believe everything you read. Widely published reports say Wynn Las Vegas held "Le Reve," Franco Dragone's newest Strip show, at one nightly show instead of twice a night because of weak ticket sales. Not so, management says. It delayed its plans for a second show to give performers time to train for the new stage layout and changes in the show.

Honoring a Las Vegas icon, new street signs went up this weekend on the newly named Jay Sarno Lane. The street runs from Frank Sinatra Drive, between Caesars Palace's two parking structures, down past The Forum Shops and under the walkway into the casino, up to the main entrance into the Palace. Jay Sarno developed Caesars Palace and Circus Circus in the 1960s. His daughter, Heidi Strauss, has worked on the street project for almost a year and said she and her family are happy Clark County and Caesars Entertainment have seen fit to honor her father.

Gaming Wire Editor Rod Smith can be reached by e-mail at rodneysmith1@cox.net or by fax at 387-5243.

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