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Best of Rudi Schiffer

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Heard It On The River

12 May 2006


BREAKING EXCLUSIVE NEWS STORY ALERT…. I thought that might get your attention. We got a scoop; at least we had one as we went to press with Jackpot two days ago. It's all over the front page in more detail but if you read my column first, here it is in brief. Met with SCOTT HAWRELECHKO, the ambitious and energetic CEO of Canadian based Myriad Botanical Resorts, the proposed $1.9 billion (US) casino/hotel/entertainment complex that will break ground soon in Tunica County several miles south of Hollywood Casino. While there has been a Tsunami of skepticism on this project since it was announced, what this young entrepreneur told me will change a lot minds and create a lot of serious interest.

HERE IT IS: Scott said four companies, including three Native American gaming corporations, have each signed letters of intent for a $40 million purchase of acreage in the 540 acre tract and he has spots still open for one more gaming company. If the whole project comes to fruition as he envisions it, the casinos will form a strategic cluster, something that should have been done in the beginning of the Tunica gaming and land rush in 1992. Each of the new casinos would have 80,000 square feet of gaming space, a 500-room hotel, you get the big picture. I imagine Myriad Botanical Resorts would be the centerpiece of this imposing grouping. Ground breaking is scheduled for September and the Mississippi Gaming Commission has given an extension, to March 16, 2008, to have bricks and mortar in place. In another new development, Myriad just signed this past week a $20 million equity letter of credit.

"All things are possible until they are proved impossible…and even the impossible may only be so, as of now." -Pearl S. Buck

Some other good news this past week was an announcement from two more young Tunica-based entrepreneurs that they are planning a 268-acre residential and retail master planned community around Tunica National Golf and Tennis Club just off Highway 61. The guys, both in their mid-20s, MATTHEW DUNN, originally out of Clarksdale, and CODY HARRELL, with long standing family roots in Tunica County, hope to break ground in the next several months for CHAMPIONS LANDING. They say it will be the first of its kind in northern Mississippi and total infrastructure and land development cost is estimated at about $25 million. It will be needed to provide more local housing choices for Myriad employees. There will be a complete story and renderings in the next issue of Jackpot.

He didn't say, "read my lips' but he did say "no tax hike' for Mississippi's casinos at the recent SOUTHERN GAMING SUMMIT in Tunica. And he meant it. GOV. HALEY BARBOUR, a proven friend of the gaming industry, has said for the last several years he will not raise taxes on gaming. This year that stance had special meaning in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that left the Gulf Coast devastated. Any tax raise concerns were eliminated when he said,"I think raising the casino tax would be the most foolish thing the state could do." Even as he spoke construction was moving rapidly on the Coast and some six or so casinos shutdown by Katrina are expected to join the three now open before the end of the year. And look for a bigger and better jurisdiction…"We have got to continue to invest in our properties to make them even more compelling," said MICHAEL ST. PIERRE, president of Harrah's Mid-South Region.

One company really looking forward to re-opening is our Gulf Coast edition of JACKPOT which hopes to be back into business next month or so as casinos spring to life again. The staff there really took an emotional and financial hit when Katrina put the paper to sleep but it didn't kill it and publisher MICHAEL SUNDERMAN and his staff have been working on getting ready to bring back the popular paper since the day after the hurricane. If you want to contact them this new number: 228-385-7707. This is also the home of MISSISSIPPI GAMING NEWS, which has continued to publish from Biloxi for casino employees in the rest of the state.

FITZ is holding another of its popular fight nights on May 20, live in its Great Hall and promoter BRIAN YOUNG has some popular sluggers on the card. The feature bout has up and coming DeAndrey Abron of Memphis 7-1 (6 KO's) taking on knock-out artist Manu Ntoh from Atlanta 16-11 (10 KO's). This light heavyweight match is a six rounder. Also on the card is the crowd-pleasing heavyweight, SWAMP DONKEY, Adam Richards of Murfreesboro, TN who sports a 12-1 record with 10 knockouts, and two local attractions, heavyweight Ray Lunsford and undefeated Pepe Rubio. It is always a sellout so get your tickets in advance at the FITZ'S gift shop. GoodTimes radio will be doing a remote broadcast from the stage at the FITZ, on the morning of the fights. Stop by between 8:30 and 11 a.m. and you might win some fight tickets.

Some folks think that visiting Tunica may get you taken for a ride and it's now true. AIR BOAT RIDES are the newest attraction at the TUNICA RIVER PARK next to Fitzgeralds and as far as I know this is a first for the region and should be an exciting attraction. CAPT. DON LANCASTER says the six person, shallow draft air boats will take riders into areas of the Mississippi River that is not accessible to other boats and can actually run in one inch of water and move at speeds up to 50 miles per hour. The half hour rides cost $35 and run every half hour from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Here's a nice little poker tournament to test your skills for a modest buy-in. HOLLYWOOD CASINO now offers a no-limit Hold 'em tournament with $2,000 guaranteed on the first Thursday of each month at 9 p.m. The buy-in is $50 with a $20 entry fee and there are re-buys and add-ons. Registration is from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Hollywood is also holding a $20, 0000 Blockbuster Open Slot Tournament on June 13 with $2,500 for first place. Call 800-871-0711 for a spot. Also note that the EPIC buffet at Hollywood is putting on a new face and will be temporarily closed from June 5 to June 16 but in the interim, the Hollywood Ballroom will be serving as the buffet.

Some other good tournaments for dice throwers and blackjackers are at PEARL RIVER RESORTS, which just opened its fabulous GEYSER FALLS WATER PARK. Both tournaments were previously monthly events but heavy turnouts forced the move to weekly tournaments. At SILVER STAR, registration begins at 6 p.m. for the $5,000 craps tournament held now every Thursday. Limited to 56 players, the buy in is only $25. First prize if $3,000, second $1,000, etc. Across the highway at GOLDEN MOON, the buy in the for Tuesday blackjack tournaments is also $25 with the same prize structure as the dice tournament. It is limited to 60 players. If you are in the vicinity of the the great CHOCTAW resort complex near Philadelphia, MS, GoodTimes radio will be doing a remote broadcast from there on Sat. May 27 to help open the fabulous GEYSER FALLS WATER PARK. Poker players can also expect an upgrade in facilities soon at the Resort. JAY EUBANKS, poker room manager, said the room would move from its present location in an out- of- the- way corner at Silver Star to a new, highly visible location on the walk-around concourse that encircles the gaming floor at Golden Moon. It will be relocated in the Sports Ticker bar with lots of televisions and food service on hand. It will have 14 tables.

Over on the fabulous DANCING RABBIT GOLF COURSE, MARK POWELL tell us the damage that took place last summer on several areas of the course, has been fully repaired and the Masters-like course is in top shape this year. If you want to have a one-of-a-kind weekend trip, make a reservation in a guest room upstairs in the clubhouse and put your family at Geyser Falls Watermark while you play 36 holes. And mark this date down; The HOOTERS TOUR will be the focus of the Pearl River Resort Golf Classic tournament there on August 7-13 Do those gals also caddy?

FITZ owner DON BARDEN, who recently hosted a reception for the Black Mayors Convention at the Fitz, hopes to ride the Bus on his bid for a casino license in PITTSBURG. Retired Pittsburg Stealer JEROME "THE BUS" BETTIS is on the Barden team as is Motown's SMOKEY ROBINSON. Barden's proposal encompasses a $410 million casino. He is competing against HARRAH'S who has teamed up with former Steeler star FRANCO HARRIS, and the ISLE OF CAPRI, which has partnered with the Pittsburg Penguin hockey team.

The great layout that is COTTONWOODS golf course at GRAND CASINO is open to the public it players book tee times 48 hours in advance. Golf and hotel packages are available as well. Phone 1-800-946-4946, ext. 6079 for more info or go to Cottonwoods@grandcasinos.com Course conditions and other related Information can heard on Goodtimes radio every Saturday morning on WMC70 AM about 8:50.

You can still catch some great tennis at TUNICA NATIONAL, which is now hosting the HARRAH'S USTA Pro Circuit tournament through May 14. BONKERZ is making a comeback at RESORTS TUNICA and will open there for a May 26-28 show with funny guy MIKE WEST who will also be a guest on the Goodtimes radio show on Saturday morning May 13 on WM79 AM. Resorts will present a special summer comedy series at Bonkerz every Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. with the initial series running from Memorial Day through the 4th of July weekend. NICK "MAV" MAVROMATIS, held a coming out party at Resorts recently that was a posh soiree with a fab buffet by EXCUTIVE CHEF DEHAAN with a tasty suckling pig as the centerpiece. Around 75 invited players were on hand to welcome Mav as Regional Director of Player Development for Resorts and sister property, Bally's. TOM STEVENS, a first class impressionist and entertainer, put on a well-received show…"AN EVENING WITH DEAN AND FRIENDS." Also visiting from Steubenville, Ohio was his mom, Annie, and friends.

If you really want to impress your friends the next time you uncork a fine bottle of wine, consider attending an introductory sommelier course, the first time this prestigious event has been offered in the Memphis area by the COURT of MASTER SOMMELIERS, led by world-renowned DOUG FROST. He is only one of three people in the world to hold both MASTER SOMMELIER and MASTER OF WINE certifications. For class info contact Scott Jackson, a very fine sommelier in his own right, at Hollywood Casino at 662-540-6792 or at scott.Jackson@pngaming.com

If you are a new or novice player who seek a quick and simple way to learn the basics of blackjack, craps or roulette, I found a way at the recent SOUTHERN GAMING SUMMIT here that can help. I met TED GOTTLIEB who has a neat product called WIN CARDS (www.wincards.com) which produces tri-packs of small plastic cards for each game that give you a quick way using hand held reference cards to make basic game decisions. The blackjack card, for instance, is much faster and easier to use than the standard pocket table card as it has a wheel you rotate to line up the correct decision for any move. We will give away some of these card packets on the Goodtimes radio show Saturday May 13 with a trivia contest. Listen on WMC79 AM Memphis from 8:30 to 11 a.m. and write this down: 901 274-7979 or 800-759-6279 for when you need to call in.

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