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Rod Smith

Inside Gaming Column: Staff had Plenty of Notice of Stardust Exit

11 September 2006

These are the best of times and worst of times for the workers at the Stardust. While Boyd Gaming Corp. announced last week the hotel-casino will close Nov. 1 to make way for the $4 billion Echelon Place, the company has also given workers nearly a year's notice, since January, to settle into new jobs. Of the 900 nonunion, unprotected workers, half wanted to stay with Boyd, and most of them have changed positions or are in the process. Most of the rest are retiring or changing professions. A union leader called the program unprecedented. Why Nov. 1? Insiders said it is too hard to staff the joint while Boyd Gaming operates its private sector placement program to keep as many workers in jobs as possible.

Wall Street's been atwitter over gaming stocks since May, and it's not just security or the price of gasoline that has investors worried. For 15 years, consumers have been driving the American economy because of the "wealth effect." The concept, generally attributed to famed British economist John Maynard Keynes, holds that people spend more when they feel richer, whether or not they are. Now, with interest rates at the highest levels in years, home prices falling and gasoline prices climbing, consumers feel poorer. That shoots consumer confidence, and that's what has Wall Street worried. It's all about expectations.

There's always another amenity. The Four Seasons at Mandalay Bay, it seems, is promoting itself for having the Strip's only kosher kitchen, with a rabbi on site to make sure food served passes muster. Word is everything kosher is flown in from New York City or Los Angeles. And it's tougher to run than you'd think, as was the case with executive chef Michael Goodman's search for kosher balsamic vinegar. And then there's the really tough crowd: Californians demanding organic kosher only. Insiders say it's a big draw, but that might be an overstatement with only about 5,000 meals served a year.

You know you've made it to the Big Top when you're featured in crossword puzzles. Local developer Steve Wynn recently went bicoastal when he made it in the Los Angeles Times puzzle. Clue: "A Wynn in Las Vegas." Answer" "Steve." He'd already made it in The New York Times' puzzle, several years ago, in fact.

Paternalism in the United Kingdom seems to know no bounds. Recently, the Crown released new rules to "loosen" casino advertising. They'll permit advertising gambling as entertainment. But look at the list of what's verboten: No ads to exploit "vulnerable" adults, to suggest gambling can be an escape from personal problems, to imply it can be a rite of passage or to promote gambling through peer pressure.

Gaming Wire Editor Rod Smith can be reached by phone at 477-3893 or by e-mail at

Inside Gaming Column: Staff had Plenty of Notice of Stardust Exit is republished from