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Best of Rudi Schiffer

Gaming Guru

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Heard It On The River

24 August 2006


HARRAH'S has picked GRAND CASINO to kick off this season's prestigious WORLD SERIES of POKER circuit on Sept. 24 and running through Oct.4.The high stakes action in KAREN KAEGIN'S tournament area (she's runs the place like a tough house-mother)will offer several tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $300 to $5,000, The first place winner will get free entry in the main event at the $2 million 2007 WSOP plus $1,000 to cover expenses, no to mention the first place prize money. Registration begins Sept. 24 and is held 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Just returned from my second visit to the Gulf Coast and during my short stay visited IP, Grand, and Harrah's in New Orleans. The rebirth of the casino industry is well underway and as expected, it is way ahead of what is being done on the local, state and federal level for the areas devastated by HURRICANE KATRINA a year ago. New Orleans seems to be stuck in time as areas we toured previously, like the flooded Ninth Ward, showed little signs of life or reconstruction. Biloxi on the other hand was showing lots of life and tourists and gamblers were very much in evidence with casinos doing a booming business.

IP has done a lot with the money it has earned since last December when it was the first casino back in business with the opening of two beautiful and excellent restaurants, thirty-two and the unique Carnaval de Brasil churrascaria with its exotic hand-carved, pit-roasted meats. Thirty-two, as you might expect, is on the 32nd floor of the 1,088 room redecorated hotel that features new luxurious suites and afford a great view of the Back Bay. Also new are HIGHLIGHTS Sports Bar & Grill with 65 plasma-HD screens and is open 24/7, and a first floor lounge by the entrance, CHILLS. SENSES is the new full service spa and salon with 19 treatment rooms. A big attraction that just began was the ULTIMATE REWARDS IP Member Bonus. Play any slot, from pennies to $500, with your IP card and you might win a progressive and random jackpot that would lock up your machine and pay up to $150,000. It then restarts at $100,000 and the game goes on. Familiar names to Tunica, JON LUCAS, BRAD RHINES and PETE BURNS, have re-positioned the casino on the top level in the market and more improvements are forecast.

We didn't have time to stop by the ISLE of CAPRI and the PALACE but rest assured they are moving along at a fast pace with IP. This Biloxi trio has set records since last December, like $780 million in revenue, which is over 60 percent of the $1.3 billion yearly revenue earned by the area's 12 casinos before Katrina came calling.

Getting back into business in August were the GRAND, BEAU RIVAGE and TREASURE BAY, with a small operation. Caught a beaming KAREN SOCK, another familiar Tunica name, busy at her job as GM of the Grand now located in the Bayview Hotel and at mid-day it was packed. We heard that HARRAH'S, which sold its Grand Casino property in Gulfport and consolidated in Biloxi, plans to spend more than $1 billion to cover some 30 acres it now owns. A master plan is being quickly developed and will be unveiled later this year and being the world's largest casino company, you can expect a mega resort to be built there and be ready for action in about two years.

Beau Rivage, the iconic casino/hotel that looms over the beach on the seaward side of I-90 remains where it was built over the water, but it is not the same place as MGM-Mirage has made considerable upgrades and improvements which were outlined in detail in the previous issue of JACKPOT magazine. GEORGE CORCHIS, president of the BEAU RIVAGE and its sister in Tunica, GOLD STRIKE, has led a team through a grueling rebuilding period and more than $550 million was spent restoring and upgrading the $800 million facility. And more is expected in months to come. "We will do better than before the storm as will the whole area because there will be bigger and better casinos that will make this market a very attractive destination," said Corchis. The new golf course, FALLEN OAK, will also play a part in the revival when it opens in Nov.

At busy Harrah's in New Orleans it appears as if a hurricane never hit the central downtown area of the City. A $170 million, 450-room hotel and brewery is being completed and the Times Picayune reported that Central Division President Anthony Sanfilippo continues with plans to increase the company's investment in the city. The newspaper also stated that since opening last Feb., the casino has grossed over $144 million through June. It was nice to redeem the points earned on our TOTAL REWARDS card in Tunica at restaurants in Harrah's.

Closer to Tunica a non-casino development is making the big news. The state has approved a $173 million incentive package for the proposed RIVERBEND CROSSING development just north over the Tunica County line in DeSoto County that will transform the whole area. When completed, it will cover 4,500 acres with not only thousands of homes but also an MGM entertainment center, golf courses, hotels, retail and other attractions. Ground breaking is expected this fall on a 600-acre lake.

Several years ago when we wanted to take the GOODTIMES RADIO SHOW to the Internet we wandered about trying to figure it out. We couldn't but a smart MIT grad name of MICHAEL CORFMAN did it for us and put the show on audiovegas.com with live streaming audio and archived each broadcast as well. Since then Corfman, who is CEO of CASINO CITY.COM, also accepted this column for inclusion in his "guru" section of CASINOCITYPRESS.COM so the news of TUNICA and MISSISSIPPI gaming is spread out across the Internet. Recently he was the featured entrepreneur in the Boston Business Journal and called a "major player in the market for gaming industry information." His business is an industry forerunner and the place where you can get just everything you need as far as gaming industry information is concerned. Casino City is the world's largest provider of information and almanacs including Casino City's Gaming Business ,and operates a network of websites including Casinocity.com and CasinoCityPress.com.

HOLLYWOOD GM JOHN OSBORNE fits the profile of a serial volunteer when it comes to being involved with the world outside of the casino. Adding to his numerous posts and boards he was just named Vice Chairman for the Delta Region Revitalization Task Force. He will help set and maintain an agenda and direction to guide the Task Force through completion of its legislative mandate and assist in establishing a coalition with legislators, regional economic leaders, educators and health care professionals to identify and define targeted goals. While he is busy that program, Hollywood is giving away the place with its $500,000 Thriller that doles out $25,000 in cash every Saturday and its $7,000 Sundays.

Checked out the new $3.4 million CALYPSO BUFFET at the ISLE OF CAPRI recently and it is as advertised…wonderful! GOLD STRIKE will host a drawing for a new Caddy STS on August 31.The TOTAL REWARDS $3 MILLION On The House promotion continues at Grand and Sheraton .SAM'S TOWN stages its classic and custom car show on Sept. 22-24 with Bowzer's Rock-n-Roll party on the 23rd. Win your share of $50,000 in cash on Sept. 3 at PEARL RIVER RESORT with a grand prize drawing for $25,000 at the 10 p.m. drawing. LEE ANN WOMACK will entertain there the night before. For all your casino information, check out www.jackpotmagazine.com. An awesome club has opened in HORSESHOE CASINO. Check out the feature on it in this issue. FITZ'S will stage its fight nite on August 26th with a wild collection of re-matches this time. It will be another sellout so call 662-363-5825 for ticket info now.

SOUTHLAND, the large dog track in West Memphis, has changed its name to SOUTHLAND PARK GAMING & RACING in anticipation of opening its doors for gaming in Nov. with "games of skill." The company is spending million to revamp the facility and is now hiring at a job fair on August 29 at the Park.

Graduating from VANDERBILT'S Owens Graduate School of Management was worth it for BRAD HIRSCH who was just named HORSESHOE'S director of slot operations. Brad joined Harrah's in 2003 and most recently was Central Division VP of Customer Satisfaction Assurance. He will work with WARREN PAN, VP of the department.

We HEARD that a new casino might want to move into the Tunica market...mmm. Also, is appears the pace has accelerated for the proposed mega casino complex to be known as MYRIAD BOTANICAL GARDEN…what ever happened to the proposed casino for MHOON LANDING and the proposed NASCAR type track? We also Heard there might arise a village-like residential complex behind the Sheriff's Station. Also Heard that the new STARBUCKS COFFEE in the Horseshoe might be the most successful one in the USA.

FROM THE QUOTABLE GAMBLER, The Lyons Press
"Death and dice level all distinctions."
Samuel Foote (1720-77)

LAISSEZ LE 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