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Heard it on the River

9 July 2004

Funny thing about timing. I pursue Horseshoe Boss JACK BINION for an exclusive interview for over a year and return from a respite on the RED RIVER in Arkansas to find out that what I had predicted earlier in this column, that HARRAH'S ENTERTAINMENT would complete its acquisition of HORSESHOE GAMING on or about July 1, had taken place. The official notice came via a press release from Harrah's on July 1. The interview had just hit the stands in JACKPOT MAGAZINE and its sister publication, MISSISSIPPI GAMING NEWS, and it was nice of Harrah's to make us look good.

Harrah's now adds to its growing and impressive portfolio the Horseshoe properties in Hammond, Indiana and Bossier City, Louisiana, but it's the Tunica Resorts property that we are most interested in. The name remains the same on the marquee and we've heard from various sources that things will generally stay the same. Some change is inevitable, that's the nature of an acquisition, but the 'Shoe has been so fabulously successful since it opened in Tunica that one would expect it to remain much the same. Harrah's brings a lot to the table with its focus on building loyalty and value with its customers and knows a thing or two about running a casino as it owns or manages through various subsidiaries 28 casinos in the USA. The 500-pound gorilla it has just landed may just put on a few more muscles.

The day after the announcement, HORSESHOE GAMING HOLDING CORP, now the wholly-owned subsidiary of Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., called for redemption all $535 million of its outstanding 8 5/8% Senior Subordinated notes, due July 2009. Note holders will receive a redemption price equal to 104.313% of the principal amount of the notes, plus accrued and unpaid interest through the redemption date of August 2, 2004. I hope that doesn't affect my Horseshoe WINNERS CIRCLE player's club card.

While we are on this big biz news binge BOYD GAMING has officially completed its $1.3 Billion buyout of COAST CASINOS making it the fifth-largest gaming operator in the WORLD. With some $800 million committed to expansion projects now underway, that position could improve. In fact, Boyd's very successful joint venture with MGM Mirage in the new BORGATA in Atlantic City is paying off and expansion there alone is predicted to cost more than $150 million. The stock was up last time we looked.

The THOROUGHBRED TIMES reports that FITZGERALDS owner DON BARDEN recently filed an application to open a racetrack-casino in Michigan. It reportedly is for a $150 million facility in Romulus.

LAST call for GRAND'S $100k blackjack tournament this weekend (July 9-10). There is a $50,000 first prize and you can get in the $500 buy-in event by calling 800-550-4473 NOW! Use the code word "Hot."

Another $100K event is on the horizon but this one is for the MISSISSIPPI CRAPS CHAMPIONSHIP at GOLDSTRIKE on August 13-15. The prize money for this baby was doubled from the last championship and now first place alone pays $50,000. Check out the article in this issue for complete details. There is a $450 early bird buying for registration before July 30. After that it costs $500. Goldstrike is also coming back on Sept. 1 with its very successful $100K Mid-South Buy-In Slot tournament. It is limited to 100 players who have to pony up $1,000 to enter. Call 1-888-24K-PLAY for info on all tournaments.

HOLLYWOOD has announced its SUMMER OF SPECIAL EFFECTS $20,000 SATURDAYS. On five drawing dates beginning Saturday July 24 club card holders can immerse themselves in movie magic at the Special Effects Stage. Winners take home their share of $20,000 each night. Complete rules are available at Club Hollywood or by calling 1-800-871-0711. Hollywood has also announced the installation of ten new video slot games that include QUAKERS, MILK MONEY, RAKIN' IT IN and WILD WILDERNESS. They are multi-denominational.

For poker players and for those who just love to watch it on TV all the time, the NEW YORK POST says, "Fox Sports Net will air the air the nation's first live telecast of a professional poker tournament…" It is scheduled for July 14 and expected to be on for four hours. This is a big format change and a big risk when compared to the shorter, edited- for- excitement TV tournaments staged by the WORLD POKER TOUR. Check your listing for the time. The new poker room at the ISLE OF CAPRI is up and running and MGR. DALE CARDEN invites players to Lula to check it out.

This news item is out of my coverage area but deserves a mention here. The BILOXI SUN HERALD reports that BEAU RIVAGE casino in Biloxi will invest $1 million in a community development program designed to increase the number of homebuyers and small businesses in disadvantaged areas of Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.

FITZGERALDS made a good move to recognize our armed forces over the July 4th
Weekend with three billboards in the immediate market showing that support. I want to soon see a billboard that says…WELCOME HOME TROOPS. The MISSISSIPPI GAMING NEWS that goes to some 40,000 casino employees in the state devoted much of its just-out issue to casino employees who have or are serving this country. We have a lot of heroes hereabouts. If you missed this issue, maybe your HR department can scare one up. Casino employees should be reading every monthly issue; it's YOUR paper!

SANDI, a JACKPOT MAG reader from WYNNE, AR, emailed me the quote below saying it reminded her of me and I agree so I won't have my usual message from the QUOTABLE GAMBLER.

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, cigar in one hand, favorite beverage in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming WOW - what a ride."

Right on Sandi.

Laissez le bon temps rouler.

Heard it on the River is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Rudi Schiffer
Rudi Schiffer

Rudi Schiffer is a long time columnist and contributing writer for Jackpot Magazine, the South’s leading gaming publication, and for casinocitytimes.com, the world’s leading casino industry internet news distributor. He is also owner and co-host of the 20-year-old Goodtimes Radio Show, now simulcast on Fridays from 3-6 PM Central Time from Country Classic 1180 AM, Memphis networked with KMIS 1050 AM, and 103.9 KGLU FM from Kennet, MO covering parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. His radio show is also archived at audiovegas.com. A Boston University Journalism graduate, he resides in Memphis, TN. Known as the "Voice of Tunica" for his support the gaming jurisdiction for two decades, he was also recently named to Memphis Business Quarterly Magazine’s 3rd annual “The Power Players, Who’s Who” of Memphis.He is also a contributing writer for Southern Gaming & Entertainment and Mississippi Gaming.

Rudi Schiffer Websites:

www.AudioVegas.com
Rudi Schiffer
Rudi Schiffer is a long time columnist and contributing writer for Jackpot Magazine, the South’s leading gaming publication, and for casinocitytimes.com, the world’s leading casino industry internet news distributor. He is also owner and co-host of the 20-year-old Goodtimes Radio Show, now simulcast on Fridays from 3-6 PM Central Time from Country Classic 1180 AM, Memphis networked with KMIS 1050 AM, and 103.9 KGLU FM from Kennet, MO covering parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. His radio show is also archived at audiovegas.com. A Boston University Journalism graduate, he resides in Memphis, TN. Known as the "Voice of Tunica" for his support the gaming jurisdiction for two decades, he was also recently named to Memphis Business Quarterly Magazine’s 3rd annual “The Power Players, Who’s Who” of Memphis.He is also a contributing writer for Southern Gaming & Entertainment and Mississippi Gaming.

Rudi Schiffer Websites:

www.AudioVegas.com