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Inside Gaming: Downtown Downturn: Four Hotels, Few Takers

24 October 2005

Street talk is that the four downtown Tamares Group properties are actively being shopped. The Tamares Group, a private, international investment company, in June rescued partner Barrick Gaming with a $10 million bailout for the Plaza, Gold Spike, Las Vegas Club and Western Hotel. Scuttlebutt is that gaming operators have been approached quietly and told a deal can be made if they're interested. "Everyone who might be interested has been told," brokers say. So far, few takers and no deals. Operators say no one believes in downtown, not with a downturn on the horizon.

With all due respect, no one attended the recent Global Gaming Expo to see Rita Rudner; she performed to be seen by thousands of conventioneers who might hire the headliner at their casinos. Catching onto the craze that Las Vegas is the spot for entertainers to be seen, HBO and AEG Live are sponsoring The Comedy Festival Nov. 17-19 at two Harrah's Entertainment properties, Caesars Palace and the Flamingo. Featured comedians include Bill Maher, Dennis Miller, Chris Rock, Ray Romano, Jon Stewart and Garry Shandling.

The Palms is set this week to unveil the world's only suite with an indoor basketball court. Designed for basketball enthusiasts like the Maloof brothers, who own the Palms, the two-level, 10,000-square-foot "Hardwood Suite" comes with a locker room, scoreboard, pool table, poker table and dance floor. It's part of the property's new, 347-room Fantasy Tower, a $600 million expansion that includes a recording studio and a 2,200-seat showroom.

Nuts, a Scottish men's magazine, found that gambling has become the most popular vice among young men. According to a new study, half of young men in Scotland lose ?40 a month on average gambling. Celebrities, Nuts found, have made gambling trendy, and all the online sites have made it easier. The poll showed that most men gamble to make an event more interesting or were convinced they would win big bucks. Nuts polled 1,000 men and women age 18 to 35.

The Nuts survey makes it easier to understand why officials in Blackpool, Great Britain's largest seaside resort, are openly talking about turning the it into "the Las Vegas of the U.K." Why not? Britain has gone through a decade-long gambling explosion, with the number of lotteries doubling and the number of casinos up 44 percent. And the government is putting the country's gaming industry through the biggest overhaul since the '60s, with casinos now able to advertise and gamblers freed from getting a membership and then cooling off for 24 hours.

Gaming Wire Editor Rod Smith can be reached by e-mail at rsmith@reviewjournal.com or by phone at 477-3893.

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