Enhancing its ability to pursue long-term growth opportunities on the Gulf Coast, Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:HET – News) today announced that one of its subsidiaries signed a letter of intent to acquire the remaining assets of Casino Magic Biloxi from Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:PNK – News).
The letter of intent also calls for the sale of two Harrah’s subsidiaries that own businesses in Lake Charles, La., to a Pinnacle subsidiary.
The letter of intent is non-binding and subject to definitive documentation, as well as the receipt of all required regulatory approvals.
The Casino Magic site, which includes land leased from third parties, covers approximately 18 acres directly east of Harrah’s-owned Grand Casino Biloxi.
“We believe in the long-term potential of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and are looking forward to returning to this vibrant market,” said Anthony Sanfilippo, president of Harrah’s Central Division. “The site we are acquiring from Pinnacle will give us an even larger footprint in Biloxi, giving us greater flexibility in creating a compelling entertainment experience.”
Harrah’s plans to re-open Grand Casino Biloxi this summer, the first phase in the company’s development plans on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Grand Casino will initially reopen with a completely redesigned and renovated 500-room hotel and a 35,000-square-foot casino, as well as a steakhouse, a buffet and a 16,000-square-foot full service spa. The hotel-casino will initially employ more than 1,000 people. Harrah’s expects to announce preliminary plans for a destination resort in Biloxi in mid-2006.
Harrah’s Lake Charles Online Gambling businesses include the 263-room Lake Front Hotel – currently open and operating – as well as two casino boats.
Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. is the world’s largest provider of branded casino entertainment through operating subsidiaries. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada 68 years ago, Harrah’s has grown through development of new properties, expansions and acquisitions. Harrah’s Entertainment is focused on building loyalty and value with its customers through a unique combination of great service, excellent products, unsurpassed distribution, operational excellence and technology leadership.
The Venetian Opens $2.6 Million Poker Room
The Venetian Casino unveils an 11,000-square-foot poker room near the race and sports book costing $2.6 million to build.
When The Venetian opened in 1999, the property operated a small poker room that quickly closed due to lack of interest. The casino made another modest attempt a few years later, but that 10-table room was quietly shuttered.
With the recent revival of poker Venetian executives decided to give the game another try. Poker is televised almost daily on various cable channels, there is a booming interest in Internet poker and the Harrah’s-owned World Series of Poker drew a record 30,000 participants to 45 events in 2005.
“It’s something our customers have been asking for,” said Kenneth Davenport, The Venetian’s vice president of casino operations. “Right now, with the interest in poker and the demand for the game, it makes sense to bring a room back. But we wanted to do it in a way that appeals to all players.”
The Venetian spent $2.6 million to refurbish a corner of its casino, removing 200 slot machines to add 39 poker tables — 32 on the main poker floor and seven in a high-limit area. The nonsmoking room, with modern gaming technology such as automated shufflers, was decorated with leather chairs and wood trimmings.
Two lounges are also available for high-limit poker players and their guests. Areas around the room allow poker fans to try and catch a glimpse of their favorite players.
The new room will open Sunday night with a tournament featuring professional poker players and celebrities, including past World Series of Poker champions Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson; poker professionals Chip Reese, Howard Lederer, Phil Laak and Annie Duke; celebrity players Jeremy Piven, Jennifer Tilly and Shannon Elizabeth.
According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, revenue from poker in 2005 was $140.1 million, up 42.1 percent compared with $98.6 million in 2004.