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Best of Rudi Schiffer

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Heard It On The River

28 September 2005

As we met our deadline for this column the Mississippi Legislature had not yet met in special session to consider, among other things, a change in the 1990 Gaming Control law to permit casinos to build on land rather than over water. That is obviously the right thing to do when you consider the damage to buildings, lives and jobs that were blown away with HURRICANE KATRINA. Since there were other ramifications from such a move, we cannot venture a guess on whether the proposal would pass. We can, however, endorse the change as to do otherwise is in our opinion reprehensible.

It may become a hot political football as powerful religious groups and their allies will resist such a change even though they are in the minority on this issue. That's fine if that is what your conscience dictates but these nice folks were not in the shoes of some 14,000-casino employees whose lives were threatened and disrupted by the terrible force of this killer hurricane. It also does not take into consideration the destruction and losses suffered by the companies that own the 13 affected casinos on the Gulf Coast.

The state has to recognize that the casinos need this protection as more and more hurricanes of high intensity are predicted for the future and Rita's visit should be enough proof of such a recurrence. Considering the huge amount of jobs created by casinos and the beneficial taxes they pay to the state and the communities they occupy, who will pick up that slack if casinos choose not to rebuild over water. Not the groups who oppose and benefit from the industry. Amen.

On one positive note, JON LUCAS, the general manager of IMPERIAL PALACE on the back bay in Biloxi, told us that he expects to host a New Year's party after the casino opens in late December with a renovated and improved facility if projections stand up for reconstruction of the first floor which underwent severe damage. And other operators that include MGM Mirage, Harrah's Entertainment, Boyd Gaming Corp., Isle of Capri Casinos, Penn National Gaming, Pinnacle Entertainment and President Casinos have committed to rebuild their properties but as Harrah's Central Division President ANTHONY SANFILLIPO told us…"what incentive will the state give us to rebuild?" And rebuilding physical structures may be the easy part but rebuilding the market will be tougher.

Nice to see old friends in the biz move up the ladder. ADOLPH LEPRE, as many will be happy to find out, has been promoted to casino manager at Sheraton. Let's hope he can find a way to bring the popular blackjack tournaments that he previously ran. Over at GRAND, we heard that smiling JOHN BRANSTON, also a popular executive, has been moved up to table games shift manager. Also, the next $150,000 blackjack tournament at Grand will be held Dec. 2 with a $60,000 first prize. Some 250 players attended the recent tournament .Not too early to register with a $500 buy-in. The Isle of Capri has announced the appointment of JOSE OAKLEY as vice president and general manager of the company's LULA, MS property. RESORTS INTERNATIONAL has appointed GARY DIBARTOLOMEO as executive director of nationwide marketing, which includes overseeing player development initiatives in Mississippi. MATT GALLAGHER has joined SAM'S TOWN as director of marketing.

FITZGERALDS continued its commitment to the BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS of the Mississippi Delta with its annual $15,000 donation. DAVID SCHUGAR, general manager, also said the casino is committed to presenting the 2nd annual fund raiser dinner for the club that serves over 2,500 youth in various outreach program in the Delta. Hard luck at the HARD ROCK, which was just about to open its new casino in Biloxi when KATRINA came to the opening uninvited, and ravaged the structure. The bad run continued when the remains caught fire while being dismantled.

We Shall Gather at the River, you know how that beautiful hymn goes. Well if you want to take in a real gathering on the banks of the Mississippi, mark on your calendar Sunday, Oct. 2 at 6 p.m. for a sunset concert of hymns, songs and spirituals that will take place on the Garden Terrace overlooking the river at the TUNICA RIVER PARK adjacent to Fitzgeralds. The entertainment will include the Rhodes College Singers, baritone Charles Billings, and sopranos Mona Kreitner and Carol Blankenship. Admission is free. Bring your blankets and lawn chairs.

The popular MISSISSIPPI GAMING NEWS, which is published by Jackpot Magazine publisher MICHAEL SUNDERMAN, was a finalist in the Best Employee Publication category as announced by the AMERICAN GAMING ASSOCIATION for its 2005 Gaming Voice Awards.



LAISSEZ LES BON TEMPS ROULER.
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