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Rod Smith
 

Park Place Hails Change to Caesars

7 January 2004

LAS VEGAS -- Park Place Entertainment Corp. officially changed its name Tuesday to Caesars Entertainment in a move the company hopes will boost its efforts to develop new gaming markets.

Caesars President Wally Barr helped mark the company's name and stock ticker change by ringing the bell to open the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday morning.

Barr said the company understood the power of the name when it bought the Caesars brand in December 1999, and would have changed the name sooner, except for the death of one predecessor, Arthur Goldberg in 2000, and the unexpected resignation of another, Tom Gallagher in 2002.

Deutsche Bank analyst Andrew Zarnett, however, said the timing of the name change turned out to be ideal.

"The makes sense for the company because they're going to again be known for Caesars (Palace) in Las Vegas and they haven't been ready before," he said.

"One of the main weaknesses in Park Place was that it didn't have a valuable asset in terms of more development (opportunities) because they weren't forthcoming with their brand name," Zarnett said.

Caesars Palace has also been criticized for major construction disruptions at its trademark resort, including development of the Colosseum and the renovation of the casino, over the past four years and allowing the property's image to tarnish.

Barr noted the Caesars brand has more clout with developers and public policy decision-makers who can affect the company's expansion into new areas, although Caesars Entertainment will do little to change its marketing strategy.

Bill Thompson, University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor and casino industry expert, agreed the new name will prove persuasive with political leaders. "If someone says Park Place, (politicians) think Atlantic City and they want to barf. If they say Caesars, wow, Las Vegas' best."

Barr said the Caesars name is the best recognized in gaming.

"Our surveys indicate ... more than half of (unaided) respondents identify Caesars (when asked for a casino name)," he said. When respondents are prompted with a selection of casino brand names, he said nearly 100 percent indicate they recognize the Caesars name.

The company plans to use the Caesars brand on all properties it develops in the future, although, for now, existing properties will retain their current identification, he said.

Barr expects the new name to be particularly helpful in developing partnerships to develop tribal casinos and in winning approval to develop a resort adjacent to Mall of America in Minneapolis.

In December, Park Place joined Minnesota legislators in proposing a Las Vegas-style casino at the Mall of America that could generate revenue of $1 billion a year.

And in September, the company announced plans to develop a Caesars-branded casino on tribal lands near Pauma Valley in Southern California.

Zarnett said the biggest advantage of the new name for Caesars Entertainment will be opening such new doors, as well as creating opportunities in the United Kingdom, other European markets and Asia.

"It just gives them more credibility that they aren't going to be building just (more) Castaways," he said.

Investors sent shares up 51 cents or 4.53 percent to close Tuesday at $11.76. The new trading symbol is CZR.