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Heard it on the River

10 May 2005

DON BARDEN, CEO of Barden Companies which includes FITZGERALDS TUNICA, made a keynote speech at the very successful SOUTHERN GAMING SUMMIT just ended in Gulfport but it was an interview with the GULFPORT SUN HERALD he gave after his presentation that made the news. Barden told reporter TOM WILEMON that he is considering putting a Fitzgeralds casino hotel on the Gulf Coast and following the interview he went scouting for possible locations. In his presentation Barden reiterated what he has preached so profoundly in Tunica and other venues…casinos should strongly consider making purchases from independent companies including those owned by women and minorities.

Blackjack tournaments are front and center this weekend (May 13-15) at FITZGERALDS and GRAND. JOHN LeFEVRE, table games director at Fitzgeralds tells us the tournament there will be fun, different and very social. In addition to the cash prizes, there are special prizes awarded for different hands such as suited blackjacks, consecutive blackjacks, etc. There is a total of $5,500 in prize money with first place paying $2,000. You still have time to enter so call 1-800-766-LUCK. GRAND is putting up $150,000 in prize money for its event with a $500 buy-in. Call 800-WIN-4-WIN.And just around the corner on May 20-22 is GoldStrike's $150,000 BJ tournament, also with a $500 buying. Cal 1-877-24K-VIPS. If you like big money slot tournaments, there is time to get into the SAM'S TOWN BEACH BLAST May 13-14 with $100,000 in prize money and a first place of $50,000. It is limited to 200 players with a $500 entry fee. Call 800-946-0711.

In case you missed the ubiquitous billboards, RESORTS TUNICA is now a prominent presence at the end of CASINO STRIP. Formerly Harrah's, the MARK FULTON managed newcomer here promises to bring excitement to Tunica. Its customer loyalty program is the "R Card." Use it for cash, comps and invites to special tournaments and it comes in two tiers, Preferred and Platinum. Get the details for each level and sign up at the promotional center. The same card will also work at BALLY'S in a few months.

Boxing returns to PEARL RIVER RESORT on May 22 with former welterweight champ STEVE FORBES headlining the card. Forbes (26-3) takes on Memphis native MARTEZE LOGAN (19-13) in the "Battle for the Belt." A good co-feature will pit Mid-South heavyweight king FRANK WOOD (25-3) against QUINN NAVARRE (31-1-13). Call 1-866-44PEARL or visit www.pearlriverresort.com

Congrats to JOE MALONEY who moves up to be Vice President of Food & Beverage at Horseshoe Casino. With Binions Steakhouse, Café Sonoma, N'awlins and the wonderful buffet, his plate will be full so to speak. In other important F&B developments at Hollywood Casino, ABRAHAM MARTINEZ has been Chef d' Cuisine at Fairbanks restaurant, JUAN URCIA appointed as executive pastry chef and TONEY HALL moves from executive chef to assistant director of F&B.

SAM'S TOWN has improved the layout and traffic patterns considerably on its first floor and the widened aisles eliminate the congestion in slot areas. The craps pit is directly on the main aisle as you enter the gaming area and not out of sight in the back of the room anymore. More improvements to come. DON SNYDER has retired at BOYD GAMING as president and leaves the company operating 18 casinos in six states with revenues of $1.73 billion last year. KEITH SMITH, formerly chief operating officer, is the new president. PHIL SATRE, former Harrah's Entertainment Chairman and CEO, will be presented with a lifetime achievement award at the May 26 East coast Gaming Congress in Atlantic City

I saw this slot machine at the recent Southern Gaming Summit and it looked like a lot of fun and when I played it at FTIZGERALDS later. I knew that POPCORN SLOTO was going to become popular. This thing resembles an old-fashioned popcorn machine and has a kettle that overflows with white and yellow bonus balls to the actual sound of corn popping. "It has taken off," says Director of Slots KEVIN TOLLIVER. FITZ' FAST 500 FRIDAYS, which has distributed more than $180,000 in cash to some 400 guests to date, is coming down the stretch but still has legs before it concludes June 24. Before it's over $250,000 will have been won by CLUB FITZ members. .

When HORSESHOE opens it's revamped and upgraded BLUESVILLE the inaugural performance after the grand re-opening will be a hot show. The BLUES BROTHERS of DAN AYKROYD and JIM BELUSHI will deliver spirited renditions of classic soul hits and you can bet this one will be sold out. The boys will appear June 8 and June 9 at 8 p.n., following them will be SUGER RAY on June 18 with a little grunge, a little hard rock and some fusion. You can get tickets online for both shows, if you are quick, at www.horseshoe.com

PEARL RIVER RESORT will have its new BEACH CLUB at CLEARWATER KEY open when you read this. It heralded the opening of its very popular GEYSER FALLS WATER THEME PARK. It's like going to the Caribbean without the airfare, says CHUCK MILLER, PRR president. See the complete story in this issue on page _______

The recent inaugural HARRAH'S $50,000 MEN'S PRO CHALLENGER was won by JAMES BLAKE in straight sets over Brian Baker at TUNICA NATIONAL.

Reminder that the TUNICA AIR RACES will fly into town next month. Sponsored by HORSESHOE CASINO & HOTEL, the event on June 2-5 will feature in addition to the wild races, vintage and military aircraft displays, a midway, aerial acrobatics and stunt performers. The TUNICA CUP championship race is scheduled for June 5. Watch for complete details in a coming issue of Jackpot.

AMARILLO SLIM is generally known as one of the greatest gamblers who ever lived but this fast-talking Texan is also a wonderful story teller and that ability and the outrageous schemes he went through to take somebody's money make for wonderful reading in his just published memoirs that he co-wrote with Greg Dinkin. I met Slim when he visited Tunica many years to play poker at he old TREASURE BAY casino and he told me then he had played a little poker in Columbia. His book reveals it was more than a little poker. He was kidnapped by the drug cartel and when his abductors realized who he was he was invited to sit down to a friendly poker game with the infamous drug lord, PABLO ESCOBAR, who ran into some bullets later, and hustled him. He once took WILLIE NELSON for $300,000 playing dominoes and even went "all in" against presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. It is a very good read…. AMARILLO SLIMS in a WORLD of FAT PEOPLE. It is a paperback published by HarperCollins for $13.95.

Last year Americans spent nearly $29 billion in non-tribal casinos, which was an increase of 7 percent from the previous year, according to a study by the AMERICAN GAMING ASSOCIATION. That money came from 54.1 million players, about 26 percent of the adult population. And a poll by the AGA reported that 79 percent of civic leaders and elected officials in gaming jurisdictions think casinos have a positive effect on their communities. With all the community work and donations provided by Mississippi's 31 casinos, that should be no surprise. And did you know that one in five adults played poker at least once in the past year, a 50 percent increase over 2003. Gaming analyst DANIEL DAVILA of Stern, Agee & Leach, says the Mississippi gaming industry is set for an upswing.

Laissez le bon temps rouler

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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