December 2000 Casino Executive

      Casino Executive is a monthly business-to-business publication covering North American casino industry news and operations issues on the minds of today's casino managers. Casino Executive Focus provides a monthly management resource guide, with timely tips and insights from industry professionals.

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D E C E M B E R  2 0 0 0  H I G H L I G H T S

Cover Story

An enlightened management culture, a focus on customer service and an impressive financial turnaround make Argosy Gaming our Company of the Year

By Fred Faust

Jim Perry, CEO of Argosy Gaming, likes to compare the gaming industry to the theme-park business. Hell draw the appropriate parallels to a premier destination resort such as Disney World, to Six Flags-sized regional attractions and then to the more modest amusement parks that cater to locals.

The best analogy for Argosy itself, however, may be the most extreme roller coaster ride. As a pioneer of riverboat gaming, the company confounded skeptics by launching an immensely successful little riverboat casino in 1991 and going public in 1993, in time to cash in on the go-go days for riverboat companies.

By 1996, however, Argosy was losing $25 million a year and burdened with heavy debt at high rates of interest. There was speculation about how long it could survive as an independent company.

Editor's Note

Achievements and Ascents

By Doug Puppel

Events at Argosy Gaming and Park Place Entertainment underscore gamings evolution from cottage industry to big business.

Casino Executive salutes Argosy Gaming, its company of the year for 2000. In making the announcement during the World Gaming Congress & Expo, the magazines editors wrote: Argosy regularly wins plaudits from Wall Street for its consistently solid financial performance, capable management team and the ability to boost foot traffic. The company is well run and well positioned and this honor is well deserved. Argosy CEO Jim Perry passed the credit around, saying, We have a lot of great people and we give them the opportunity to be their best.

Gaming Law and Politics

Every Man a Sovereign?

Indian nations and Internet gambling

By I. Nelson Rose

Cutting-edge developments in gambling law are coming from North Americas oldest cultures and the worlds newest technologies: Can Indian tribes run online lotteries, bingo and casinos? Can they license non-Indians to operate gambling sites on the Internet?

This is not merely a hypothetical legal question. In 1997, the Coeur dAlene tribe in Idaho set up the first Internet tribal lottery, accepting bets from anyone located in a state with a state lottery. Non-tribal companies spent millions of dollars setting up the US Lottery, but its computers were always on tribal land. The tribe shut down the lottery, at least temporarily, after losing court cases in Missouri and Idaho.

Executive Briefings

A compilation of news, information, and tips collected from our network

Call Them Bwana

Station Casinos recently scrubbed a deal with a team of its own executives to buy out Stations two Missouri riverboats, in favor of a pact with Ameristar. The Las Vegas giant was still able to command a $475 million price for its Missouri assets, even with Show Me State regulators breathing down its neck. However, $70 million promptly went back into Ameristars kitty, as Station picked up the formers struggling Vegas Valley flagship, The Reserve, as part of the deal.

Another One Bites the Dust

One of the casino industrys least-beloved icons went to that great Gaming-Enabled Zone in the sky in the wee hours of Oct. 3. Turnberry Associates imploded the El Rancho, long a synonym for both eyesore and fatally flawed business plan, to make room for future development. Turnberry is contemplating possible casino, hotel or time-share construction (or some combination of the three) on the newly vacated land.

Gaming Execs Broker Motown Accord

Whats sauce for the goose in one market isn't always sauce for the gander in another especially when it comes to unionization in the gaming industry. Case in point: The recent three-year pact between the Detroit Casino Council Union and the city's two casinos, the MGM Grand Detroit and Motor City. In total, some 4,700 of the 5,000 (or 94%) Detroit casino workers are now unionized, including dealers, food-and-beverage-service staffers, parking valets, maintenance workers and custodians.


Walking the Floor

Evaluating service the right way

By Steve Browne

When was the last time you took a good look at customer service? I'm not talking about what's in the trendy books on the coffee table, or the customer-service-training seminar everyone gets when they go through orientation, nor the latest pablum in the employee newsletter.

When was the last time you walked the floor, cruised the halls and peeked into the corners? When last did you look for the signs that benchmark your company's commitment to serving customers, making them happy and keeping them coming back? If you haven't done it in the past week, much less the past year, then tie on those tennies and get moving.

Corporate Compensation

The Other Casino Executives

Compensation for the Hotel and Food & Beverage Executive

By Keith Kefgen at Gold Rush Slots

The competitive edge in modern casino resorts has changed dramatically, and very recently. The days of cheap hotel rooms and tired buffets are gone forever. Now, from riverboats and locals operations to megaresorts, quality hotel and food-and-beverage offerings are must haves in order to compete.

More importantly, rooms and food-and-beverage offerings are not simply something to give away but have become profit centers in their own right. In Las Vegas the average daily rate for a hotel room continues to rise every month, and it is as hard to get a reservation at one of the plethora of five-star restaurants as it is in New York or Los Angeles.

Kranes on Design

How Las Vegas Could (and Should) Rethink its Concept of the Casino-Hotel Lobby

By David Kranes

It would be nice to say that the casino industry has been reinventing the lobby. For the past 20 years, Las Vegas has been naming spaces somewhere near the porte cochere lobby,but most of these spaces aren't what lobbies have the power to be.

Lobbies shift worlds and expectations. They facilitate journeys. They're spaces that begin any traveler's transition from outside and everyday into inside and special. They shift us from jostled, pinched-vision streets to a private room with a view. In lobbies, where one has come from holds a conversation with where one anticipates going. Work gossips with Leisure. Duty visits with Delight. Obligation negotiates with Dream.

Hospitality and Restaurant Report

Lessons from Childhood
The players may have changed, but the principles of good hospitality remain the same.
By George Goldhoff

Sun, Surf and Sand Traps
The Gulf Coast's casino resorts try to capitalize on the Southern experience.
By Bill Holland

Guest Service
How one phrase can mean hours of misery for your guests.
By Bill Dibenedetto    

Managing the Hotel Casino
Twenty Lessons in leadership... both good and bad.
By Keith Kefgen & Stephen Goebel

Creating a Family
How Steve Wynn made master chef Julian Serrano an offer he couldn't refuse.
By Stephen Witt

Like Water for Chocolate
Rachel Breen creates culinary excellence at the Second Street Grill.
By Bob Barnes

Food & Beverage
How to run an effective meeting.
By Steve Arcana


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