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Best of Star Brooks

Gaming Guru

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Buying, Selling and Expanding Reno

21 December 2003

Reno is growing, changing, morphing again and getting bigger and better. Tamarack Junction out on the southern end of town is expanding. The parking lot is finished and now it is time to get on with the expansion of the casino... to about three times its present size. It is needed; the area around it has grown with new subdivisions and high schools and shopping. The expansion should be completed by next fall if the expansion clears regulatory agencies. Tamarack Junction opened two years ago with an 8,500 square-foot gambling area in a 22,500 square-foot building. It wants to expand to 61,000 square feet. Some 13,000 square feet would be for gambling. Another 10,000 square feet would house offices that currently are in three smaller buildings that would be demolished.

News broke last week that The Sands Regency is purchasing Rail City from Alliance Gaming for $38 million and that deal is set to close by spring. Rail City is a popular locals casino in Sparks alongside Interstate 80 and will be a great acquisition for The Sands... They were impressed by the current management team, as well they should be. The property was the Plantation Station years ago and is known for its agressive promotions and outstanding 24-hour food specials. Plans call for The Sands to leave the current management team in charge.

The Reno Hilton is still on the sales block... not even a whisper of who might purchase the monster property from Park Place Entertainment. I just hope that whoever buys it leaves the racing planes hanging from the ceilings of the Super Book... it has been a wonderful topic of conversation and a great place to take visitors to show them something unique. The property is so large it houses a huge bowling center inside as well as a downstairs shopping mall... it is going to take someone special to acquire and run it.

About the fireworks display this year for New Year's Eve in downtown Reno... I received the following press release from the four properties that make up Downtown Reno... "Circus Circus, Eldorado, Harrah's Reno and Silver Legacy have been working together since October 2003 in conjunction with other downtown Reno properties, the City of Reno and the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, to explore the possibility of presenting a New Year's Eve fireworks display.

"After reviewing bids from several vendors and insurance providers, the four properties have arrived at an estimated cost of $120,000 for the event, including synchronized music. It is our collective understanding that the parties involved will not be able to entirely fund the fireworks display.

"The four properties each earmarked funds for the event at the start of 2003, and will be happy to contribute that budgeted amount toward a fireworks display this year if other funding becomes available. Circus Circus, Eldorado, Harrah's and Silver Legacy look forward to again collaborating with the Downtown Reno properties, the city and the RSCVA in 2004 to bring a New Year's Eve event to downtown Reno.

Downtown Reno properties still plan to provide a wealth of entertainment for locals and visitors alike on New Year's Eve at hotel bars, lounges, nightclubs and showrooms, including complimentary Champagne toasts at midnight. "

From the Reno Gazette Journal recently... "Market leaders Raving Consulting and Ascend Media Gaming Group are teaming up to produce the first Northern Nevada Gaming Summit Feb. 18-19, 2004, at Harrah's Reno. Northern Nevada Gaming Summit will tackle the many challenges and opportunities facing the Reno market. It begins with an evening reception and welcome keynote address the evening of Feb. 18, followed by a full day of seminars and workshops on Feb. 19. Session topics include an in-depth analysis of Reno market demographics, successful marketing and promotional strategies and the impact of expanded gaming in Northern California. Speakers will be composed of Raving Consulting's team of 15 industry specialists, Reno casino industry leaders and nationally recognized gaming executives.

On Feb. 19, Phil Satre, Chairman of the Board of Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., will provide the keynote luncheon presentation that will challenge Reno to "get off the porch if it wants to run with the big dogs."

Bill Eadington, University of Nevada Reno Professor and Director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming, will provide the keynote remarks at the Opening Night Reception Feb. 18. Reno Mayor Robert Cashell will be one of several speakers during the "Public/Private Partnerships" session.

"We are proud to work with Raving Consulting on the inaugural Northern Nevada Gaming Summit," said Charles Anderer, Director, Product Development, Ascend Media Gaming Group. "Under the leadership of Dennis Conrad, Raving has assembled a team of industry consultants that adds value to the gaming industry, and will prove an invaluable source of content to this conference."

"We are looking forward to focusing our resources on what promises to be an important event for the Northern Nevada casino market," said Dennis Conrad, President, Raving Consulting. "With the support of Ascend's publications and integrated trade communications, I am confident that we will combine to offer attendees a productive and rewarding event."

Ascend Media Gaming Group publishes leading monthly gaming publications IGWB and Casino Journal, and produces 10 niche and regional gaming trade shows and conferences, including American Gaming Summit and Southern Gaming Summit. Raving Consulting Company is a Reno-based marketing company that has worked with more than 200 casino companies worldwide and trained more than 1,500 gaming executives in its insider-savvy gaming seminars. Full program details and registration is available at" This is one event needed for this area and I am going to try to attend.

Congratulations U.S.A.! Saddam's evil reign is over...thanks to our Armed Forces! Thanks guys and gals for a job well done and one that is continuing to be well done. Our thoughts and prayers are with you!

I found another newsletter coming out of Las Vegas that is worth subscribing to... VegasDuSoleil... so if you want lots of information out of Las Vegas you should subscribe to this one too... Amy Hollon brings you reviews of Las Vegas, hotels, casinos, buffets, weddings, jobs and more. Vegas giveaways, newsletter and excellent resources. They offer promotional services on their site and newsletter. To contact them or subscribe to the newsletter, please email and Amy will do you right and get you the news!

Meanwhile... getting back to Reno stuff... the newsletter is still coming out and yes, it has been off-track. I'm sorry for that and it will be back on track soon. There has been a lot of illness on my end... not me... but family... and I am still trying to get the Reno casinos to cough up support for the Reno Gaming Guide. So if you want to see what is going on in Reno you can visit the Reno Gaming Guide and subscribe to the Reno-Tahoe Gambling Weekly. For those who may have unsubscribed during the lagging on my end, apologies and I ask you to give it another chance. It will revolve back to being out on Saturdays, and I think you will find it contains a lot more news of events. I try to print as many of the press releases as possible from the PR departments so the news is more complete. I'm also printing people's suggestions as to what Reno can do to get their business. I find that there are many breaks between snowstorms to allow people to come on over the pass from California... and quite frankly this is the time of year I prefer to be in a town full of choices for gambling. To heck with the Indian casinos... people say they are over-rated... the blackjack isn't as good and neither is the video poker. So pack your bags and come to Reno. C'ya!