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Inside gaming column: W died, but Edge may have new plan

9 July 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Edge Group's dreams of building a large resort along Harmon Avenue may have new life, a Reuters report from Israel suggests.

Israeli-based investment group Africa Israel Investments is heading a joint-venture partnership, which includes a "subsidiary of the land owner," that is buying 60 acres along the Harmon corridor west of the Hard Rock Hotel for $625 million, or $10.4 million an acre.

The property includes 49 acres owned by Edge Group, previously slated for the folded W Las Vegas project, and an adjacent 11 acres owned by home builder D.R. Horton.

Edge Group Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Reagan Silber declined to comment through a spokeswoman on any pending deals, citing confidentiality agreements.

Reuters is reporting that Africa Israel Investments will take a 49 percent stake; a New York-based partnership between developers Steve Witkoff and the Cipriani family will take a 30.6 percent stake; and financial consulting firm Credit Suisse and the "subsidiary of the landowner" will each take 10.2 percent stakes.

The Reuters report said the new group intends to build a casino accompanied by several hotels, retail, restaurants and convention space.

The deal is expected to close in August; the project is expected to open in 2012.

The Edge Group announced the demise of W Las Vegas on May 11 when minority partner Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide pulled out of the project.

Keep your shirt on! That's what the operators of Tao Beach at The Venetian are telling women who want to lounge around Strip pools without swimsuit tops.

Despite the growing popularity of European-style sunbathing at hip Strip resort pools, The Venetian no longer allows women to lounge topless.

Tao officials weren't very revealing when it came to discussing the change.

"In the course of our operations at Tao Beach, we have found that the topless aspect was not vital to our success," a Tao representative said in statement.

But for women who prefer to go topless, pools at the Wynn Las Vegas, Stratosphere, Manadalay Bay, The Mirage, the Flamingo and Caesars Palace still offer the European experience.

The $18.5 billion buyout of the Hilton Hotels Corp. by the Blackstone Group does not affect the Las Vegas Hilton, which is owned by a joint-venture partnership led by Los Angeles-based Colony Capital.

Colony Capital signed a licensing agreement to continue using the Hilton brand until 2008.

The Inside Gaming column is compiled by Review-Journal gaming and tourism writers Howard Stutz, Benjamin Spillman and Arnold Knightly.

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