Inside Gaming Column: Harrah's, Boyd Land Swap Stalls, or Does It?

8 August 2006

Sources who seem to know say Boyd Gaming Corp. is in no hurry swap the Barbary Coast plus cash for the Westward Ho site. First, Boyd's Strip site in the middle of Harrah's Entertainment's two-block stretch of Strip hotel-casinos is plenty big enough for a Cosmopolitan-type development, and could piggy-back on Harrah's soon-to-be announced redevelopment plans. Second, Boyd does not need the Westward Ho land. If developed for condominiums, they'd benefit Echelon Place greatly. And if left fallow, Boyd could pick the land up without the middleman. That's probably why we hear negotiations between Boyd and Harrah's, which is said to have options on the Westward Ho property, aren't going well. Still, company officials say to watch for an announcement, maybe this week.

No joke. It'll take 28,000 added employees to screw in all the light bulbs and do the other work at all the new resorts MGM Mirage has planned, mostly here, but also in Atlantic City, Detroit, Biloxi, the U.K. and Macau. Human resources professionals say that to fill the jobs with qualified employees, MGM Mirage will have to generate at least 250,000 candidates.

So what do you suppose Joey Penn, the first Megabucks jackpot winner at Wynn Las Vegas, plans to do with his $12,317,717 nest egg? First and foremost, the 38-year-old Zachary, La.-native is buying his wife of 19 years a Bentley Continental GT. That'll turn heads in the Old South. Meanwhile, Wynn Resorts Chairman Steve Wynn was philosophical about having to shell out the jackpot -- and a string of others in June. "Lady Luck had fun with us, but you have to have days like that or you won't have any customers," he said.

Donald Trump, whose 1,282-unit condominium project is well under way adjacent to the New Frontier, is selling his 80,000-square-foot mega-mansion in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump's plan is not, we're told, to move into one of the Strip units, attractive as they may be. The asking price for his Florida place is a staggering $125 million, but that doesn't make it the priciest property in the United States. Saudi Arabia Prince Bandar bin Sultan is asking $135 million for his 56,000-square-foot shack in Aspen, Col.

While Pennsylvania slot operators could cannibalize Atlantic City, analysts say New Jersey casinos have time to mitigate any impact. Slot shacks won't open until 2007, so AC operators have time to grow nongaming amenities. AC may also be successful in attracting added convention business. Plus, New Jersey operators have an advantage with an effective tax rate that is only about 20 percent of that in Pennsylvania (9.25 percent vs. 52 percent).

Gaming Wire Editor Rod Smith can be reached by phone at 477-3893 or by e-mail at rsmith@reviewjournal.com.


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