Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Caesars is the New Harrah's. Yawn.

Buh-bye, Bill Harrah. Your company is officially something else entirely. Harrah's Entertainment is, heretofore, Caesars Entertainment Corp.

What's funny is, it prompted a little Who's On First interplay in AIM between me and another journalist who messaged me and wrote, "Harrah's is Caesars?" I thought she was asking me who owned whom. So I said, "Caesars is Harrah's, actually." And she said, "Hmmm... Is that a philosophical question?"

As it turns out, yes. The company is still the same company. Still has riverboats galore. But the move, of course, is intended to once and for all shuck the middle-brow, Midwest-grind-joint image. Perhaps they think that will improve their hapless efforts at getting licenses and stuff overseas.

Some will remind us that Circus Circus became Mandalay Resorts Group back in the day.

Except one thing. Circus Circus became Mandalay Resorts -- and a company with a new focus -- when it started building high-end properties. Since Harrah's bought Caesars, however, the only thing they've built at all is more hotel capacity at...Caesars Palace. Oh, and they've spiffied up some Flamingo rooms. Other than that, the company led by Gary Loveman still has never actually built anything in Las Vegas except maybe an impressive database.

So this is a company that thinks it can alter its image merely by changing its name. And it can't. That requires actually doing stuff.

My journalist colleague was surprised, too, that there was no fanfare. No press conference, no rollout of a new website, not even any leaking it to a favored journalist or two. (Rats!) Just this unexciting press release issued at 4:30 p.m. PT, too late for East Coast media to do much more with it than a brief. Which is odd, considering that the entire exercise is about image.

But I guess it doesn't matter much. Harrah's is private now. They don't have to worry about their stock price. For now.