Openings and expansions at gaming destinations around the country
Las Vegas, Nevada This fall, the Las Vegas Convention Center unveiled a $44.6 million expansion, bringing its total meeting and exhibit space to 1.6 million square feet--and making it the largest single-level convention facility in the country.
The city's 105,000 guest rooms are expected to grow to 120,000 by the year 2000. Bellagio, a 3,000-room destination resort catering to adults is the Strip's newest extravaganza. It opened in October. Inspired by Italian architecture, the lavish $1.8 billion resort spreads over 122 acres and features a 116,000-square-foot casino floor, an elegant array of waterfalls and classic gardens, a 12-acre lake, and original artwork by Picasso and Matisse. Cirque du Soleil provides entertainment on an aquatic stage.
Several other hotel casinos are slated to open in 1999. Mandalay Bay, a $950 million, 3,700-room hotel casino by Circus Circus, is scheduled to open during the first quarter. It is located in Masterplan Mile, a 60-acre site on the Las Vegas Strip. Within the 43-story resort, formerly known as Project Paradise, a Four Seasons Resort will offer 417 guest rooms, as well as its own entrance, check-in, and convention space. Other resort features include a 10-acre tropical lagoon with a surf-and-sand beach, a 12,000-seat arena, and 100,000 square feet of convention space.
April will see the debut of the first phase of the Venetian Casino Resort, billed as the world's largest resort hotel and convention complex. Phase one will consist of 3,036 guest rooms (of an eventual total of 6,000), 116,000 square feet of casino space, and 30 restaurants. Plans then call for the addition of 500,000 square feet of convention space to the Sands Expo Center, increasing its size to 1.6 million square feet and making it the largest privately owned facility of its type in the United States.
Other projects in the works include a $100 million expansion of the Stratosphere, upping its room count to 2,500 with the addition of 1,000 guest rooms; the 2,900-room Paris Casino Resort, featuring replicas of such landmarks as the Arc de Triomphe, and a 50-story Eiffel Tower (1999); the Aladdin Hotel Casino/Planet Hollywood, with 2,600 guest rooms at the Aladdin and another 1,000 at the Planet Hollywood "music hotel" (2000); a 500-room Hyatt Hotel on the north shore of Lake Las Vegas in Henderson surrounded by a Jack Nicklaus golf course (1999-2000); and the 526-room Ritz-Carlton at Mountain Spa Resort, with a lavish spa, golf course, and casino (early 1999).
The Ritz-Carlton has also signed a letter of intent to operate a 500-room hotel on the grounds of the MGM Grand Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. The MGM Grand is currently undergoing a $950 million transformation to become the City of Entertainment. Already completed is a 380,000-square-foot conference center with a 63,000-square-foot exhibit hall and a 50,000-square-foot ballroom. The Mansion at the MGM Grand, with 30 private suites and villas, is scheduled to debut late this year, and an additional 1,500 guest rooms managed by Marriott Marquis are slated to open in early 2000.
Next year, a new airline carrier, National Airlines Inc., will launch nonstop service to Vegas from New York, Miami, L.A., and San Francisco.
Las Vegas CVA * Contact: Rossi Ralenkotter, vice president,
* Phone: (702) 892-0711
* Fax: (702) 892-2824
* Web: www.lasvegas24hours.com
* Number of guest rooms: 109,000
* Number of gaming venues: 142
Illinois/Iowa Lady Luck Casino Bettendorf (Iowa) debuted its full-service riverfront hotel, Lady Luck
Casino Hotel, in September. The hotel has 256 guest rooms and four meeting rooms. It is the centerpiece of a $39.5 million development project.
Davenport, Iowa, is home to the Lady Luck Casino and the President Riverboat Casino. Rock Island, Ill., is the site of the Jumer's Rock Island Casino. Altogether, there are a total of 18 riverboats with gaming in Illinois; in Iowa, there are nine riverboat casinos and four land-based casinos.
Quad Cities CVB * Contact: Arlyce Musal, director of sales
* Phone: (309) 788-7800; (800) 747-7800
* Fax: (319) 322-6066
* Web: quadcities.com/cvb
* Number of guest rooms: 5,100
* Number of gaming venues: 3
Atlantic City/New Jersey Atlantic City is in the midst of a multibillion-dollar redevelopment. The centerpiece is the New Atlantic City Convention Center, which debuted in May 1997 with 500,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space and high-tech amenities. And $72 million is being spent to redo the historic Boardwalk Convention Hall into an events arena with sports, entertainment, and retail outlets.
Within the next few years, the city's hotel inventory is expected to double to more than 30,000 guest rooms. The $87 million Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel, connected to the convention center, opened in November 1997. A dedicated meeting hotel with no casino, the hotel has 502 guest rooms and 29,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 12,000-square-foot ballroom and 18 meeting rooms on the second and third floors.
At Caesars Atlantic Hotel Casino, the December 1997 debut of the $280 million, 26-story Centurion Tower added 620 guest rooms for a grand total of 1,144, plus the new Palladium Ballroom, which holds 2,000 people. The 500-room Resorts Casino Hotel is slated to be renamed The Beach Club and will undergo a $15 million renovation by summer 1999.
MGM Grand Inc. will open a $700 million, 2,000-room casino resort on 35 acres next to the Showboat Casino Hotel in 1999; Mirage Resorts Inc. plans a February 2001 debut for the $750 million, 2,027-room Le Jardin Hotel & Casino in the Marina District; and next to Le Jardin, Boyd Gaming is building a $500 million resort scheduled to open in 2002.
The Trump Marina Hotel Casino has 600 rooms and 128 suites. Its largest meeting room can accommodate 3,000 people.
The Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority has introduced AC Meetings Express specifically for corporate meeting planners with short-term needs. The service provides one-stop shopping and date and rate information within 24 to 48 hours.
Atlantic City CVA * Contact: Joe DiGirolamo, vice president, convention development
* Phone: (609) 449-7110, (888) 222-3683
* Fax: (609) 345-3685
* Web: www.atlanticcitynj.com
* Number of guest rooms: 16,000
* Number of gaming venues: 13
Reno/LakeTahoe,Nevada Fresh from a $1 million face-lift, the Reno-Sparks Convention Center is already undergoing another $1 million improvement program. A feasibility study to consider a permanent enlargement of the center and the addition of temporary outdoor pavilions is also in the works.
Several Reno hotels are expanding their meeting facilities. Next to the Reno Convention Center, the Atlantis Casino Resort has begun work on a $63 million project that will include a new 392-room hotel tower (for a total of 984 rooms), an additional 20,000 square feet of meeting space that will bring the total to 37,000 square feet, a new restaurant, and a health club. Later plans call for the addition of a tower with 521 upscale rooms and a new casino.
The Reno Hilton, the largest hotel casino in northern Nevada, is adding 47,000 square feet of meeting space for a total of 187,000 square feet. At the Silver Legacy, the Pavilion is slated to open this month with theater-style seating for 3,800. Also this month, Boomtown will debut its new six-story, 200-room hotel addition with 40,000 square feet of meeting space. In 2000, work starts on a $500 million plan to transform Boomtown into the largest destination resort in northern Nevada, with the addition of 2,100 hotel rooms, a museum complex, an outdoor entertainment park, a golf course, and retail shops.
For groups of 15 to 1,500, the Peppermill Resort features 30,000 square feet of meeting space and 1,070 guest rooms, including 185 Jacuzzi suites minutes from the airport and convention center. In addition to a business center, guest rooms have voice mail and some have fax machines. Other highlights: entertainment centers around the casino, headliner acts, and a spa and fitness center.
Reno-Sparks CVB * Contact: Gloria Brown, director of convention sales
* Phone: (702) 827-7600, (800) 443-1482
* Fax: (702) 827-7666
* Web: www.playreno.com
North Lake Tahoe Resort Association * Contact: Paige Nebeker, director of conference and group sales
* Phone: (530) 581-8709, (800) 462-5196
* Fax: (530) 581-8779
* Web: www.tahoefun.org
* Number of guest rooms: 31,000
* Number of gaming venues: 79
Louisiana Phase three of the expansion of New Orleans's Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is moving swiftly, with completion slated for early next year when the center's contiguous exhibit space will be upped to 1.1 million square feet. Other additions include 57 new meeting rooms, bringing the total to 140, and a 4,000-seat conference center. Several new hotels are also in development, including a 453-room Ritz-Carlton, slated to open in September 1999, and many existing hotels are seeking approval for expansions that could add as many as 6,000 guest rooms to the area.
Casino development is moving more slowly. Harrah's Casino, on hold for three years, now has a tentative opening of fall 1999. The city has three other riverboat casinos.
Other gaming facilities throughout the state include two in Baton Rouge, where the Belle of Baton Rouge is breaking ground next year for a 300-room Crowne Plaza on the property where the ship is docked; four casino boats at two facilities in Lake Charles; and four casino boats in Shreveport/Bossier City. Hollywood Casino recently announced plans to begin construction on a $165 million facility in Shreveport that will include a riverboat; a 300-room, full-service hotel; and a pavilion. Harrah's Shreveport Casino also signed a lease this year that will allow the construction of a 300-room hotel, and Casino Magic in Bossier City is expected to debut its new 200-room hotel this month.
New Orleans Metropolitan CVB * Contact: Salee Pavlovich, associate director of sales
* Phone: (504) 566-5095
* Fax: (504) 566-5046
* Web: www.neworleanscvb.com
* Number of guest rooms: 27,000
Mississippi Gulf Coast Within the past year, this resort area has added more than a thousand guest rooms, with an additional 5,000 scheduled to be added in the next few years. This year's growth spurt centered around Biloxi, where 378 guest rooms were added to Casino Magic Hotel, 700 guest rooms were added to the Imperial Palace Casino, and the 500-room luxury Grand Casino Biloxi opened.
More than 3,000 additional guest rooms are currently in the works, including another 600 rooms at the Grand Casino Biloxi and an additional 500 at the Grand Casino Gulfport. This February will see the opening of Beau Rivage, a $600 million beachfront resort with 1,780 luxury guest rooms and upscale amenities. The New Palace Casino began construction in July on an upscale 236-room beachside hotel. A resort with three hotels and a 2,500-slip marina is planned along the Bay of Biloxi.
Tunica, 20 miles south of Memphis, Tenn., is America's third-largest gaming destination. A third hotel, the 600-room Terrace, is planned for the Grand Casino Tunica, which also includes a 48,000-square-foot convention center. Last year at the Grand, the Cottonwoods Golf Club opened with a Hale Irwin-desgined golf course.
Mississippi Gulf Coast CVB * Contact: Susan Gaffney, director of convention development
* Phone: (228) 896-6699, ext. 214, (888) 467-4853
* Fax: (228) 896-6796
* Web: www.gulfcoast.org
* Number of guest rooms: 12,000+
* Number of gaming venues: 13
Tunica CVB * Contact: Bill Canter, director of sales
* Phone: (888) 488-6422
* Fax: (601) 363-1493
* Web: www.tunicamiss.org
* Number of guest rooms: 6,000
* Number of gaming venues: 9
Missouri The only gaming development in Kansas City this year was the closing of Station Casino after it was purchased by Harrah's, which already owned Harrah's Riverboat Casino (an entertainment complex with two riverboats, the North Star and the Lucky Star). Additional gaming venues include Argosy Riverside Casino, five minutes from downtown Kansas City, and the Flamingo Casino, a dockside facility within a Missouri River basin.
In St. Louis last year, the Riverport Casino Center opened, billed as the largest gaming facility between Atlantic City and Las Vegas. The center features a Harrah's Casino and Hotel as well as a Players Island Casino.
CVB of Greater Kansas City * Contact: Denise DeJulio, dir. of sales
* Phone: (816) 221-5242
* Fax: (816) 691-3805
* Web: www.kansascity.com
* Number of guest rooms: 19,000
* Number of gaming venues: 4
St. Louis CVC * Contact: Bill Bohde, director of convention andsales
* Phone: (314) 421-1023
* Fax: (314) 621-7729
* Web: www.st-louis-cvc.com
* Number of guest rooms: 20,000
* Number of gaming venues: 5 0
Indian Gaming: The Big Players Indian gaming is now a $6 billion industry, although the explosive growth of this segment has slowed. According to figures from the Indian Gaming Commission, the federal agency that regulates Indian gaming, at the beginning of 1998 there were 186 tribes operating 276 gaming operations in 28 states, ranging from Arizona to Wisconsin.
The figures are a little deceptive, however, because only 70 facilities are considered "Class III"--those that may operate casino games, slot machines, and pari-mutuel betting. The others operate games of chance such as high-stakes bingo, pull-tabs, and punch-boards.
The undisputed leader of Indian gaming remains the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, whose Foxwoods Resort in southern Connecticut is billed as the "largest casino in the entire world." It is certainly the best known--and most profitable--Indian gaming facility in the country. Although no expansions are currently planned, Foxwoods' 812-room Grand Pequot Hotel, Casino, and Conference Center opened in phases from late 1997 through this year, bringing the resort's guest room total to 1,402. There's also a 50,000-square-foot casino, a conference center that includes a 25,000-square-foot ballroom, and three meeting and executive conference rooms.
Also in southern Connecticut, the 240-acre Mohegan Sun, the third-largest casino in the country, made several additions this year. These include a Mohegan-themed gas station, a venue called the Race Book for off-track betting, and the themed Winter Casino entrance. Mohegan Sun does not have any guest rooms, although management says they may be added in the future.
The Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort, one of 14 in Michigan, has grown to be the largest casino in the Midwest. This summer, the Soaring Eagle debuted the largest hotel in central Michigan. The resort has 512 guest rooms, 26,000 square feet of meeting space, and upscale amenities such as a health club, a full-service spa, an art gallery, and a swimming pool with an underwater sound system. The casino boasts a 212,000-square-foot gaming floor with more than 4,000 slot machines, 56 blackjack tables, 12 poker tables, and the largest bingo hall in the world.
On the West Coast, Chinook Winds Casino, on the beach in Lincoln City, Ore., features a 1,000-seat showroom for meetings, plus additional expandable conference space.