Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Bastard Children of Harrah's

(UPDATE, 8/7/07: See this post for a clarification of a portion of this post disputed by Ms. Jones.)

So I'm working on a feed to an immigration-bill story for Saturday's New York Times and was interviewing Harrah's VP Jan Jones on their company's reaction to the legislation's failure. While I had her on the line, I asked why the Imperial Palace and Bill's Gamblin' Hall and Saloon (nee Barbary Coast) are not present on the Harrah's website or integrated into the Total Rewards program, the company's groundbreaking frequent-players club.

Jones was surprisingly frank: "If you owned Imperial Palace, would you want it in your rewards club?"

Ouch.

She told me that they bought both properties for their land -- no surprise there -- and that the two bastard properties will limp along in their purgatory status for at least another year before, more likely than not, perishing from this earth. For one thing, she said, the cost of integrating those properties into the system would be too much to bother. And the company is likely to announce whatever its Big Idea is for all of that property from Bill's to Harrah's next summer, after the LBO is completed.

One challenge, she said, is how to do something ambitious while taking properties -- the IP, and Bill's -- off-line. It sounds like Flamingo Las Vegas is less likely to meet an implosion rig. Consider this exchange:

Friess: You've been putting a lot of money into the Flamingo lately, so it's unlikely you'd knock that down, right?
Jones: Yes.

She said the IP and Bill's do produce modest profits for the company. But I suspect that it's shutting down Harrah's (if they ever do; see clarifying post here) that would be the bigger cash-flow problem. Should be interesting since, despite their enormous status in Vegas, Harrah's has never built a single building in Las Vegas. Everything they have has been acquired.

BILL'S PHOTO COURTESY OF RATEVEGAS.COM.

2 comments:

ChrisR said...

The IP's rewards program is the most transparent of the ones I know on the strip. You stick yer card in a machine, it tells you how many comp dollars you have. Simple. you use it to get $3 of your Imperial Buffet.

Or room or whatever.

Much easier and nicer than points and having to work out what they mean in terms of bonuses. Plus just giving a couple of dollars of my dinner made me happier to stay and play there.

Very low rent, but as you yourselves have said, Vegas needs low rent as well as high rent.

LinFromNJ said...

Here's hoping the IP has a long life. Despite the condemnations of the place, it's still the only LV casino that still offers me comped weekends almost any time of the year. It's location also is great and is a good cheap mid-strip home base. Stay far away from the buffet though. I've had decent luck at the slots (VP is abysmal) and they always seem to have the newest machines there. The rooms aren't the best, but the ones I've stayed in are clean and comfortable. And I'm not in Vegas to stay in my room anyway. This low-roller isn't into paying big bucks (or any bucks) for rooms.