Travel Weekly's Las Vegas E-letter: March 16, 2004

SPEAKEASY GAMING OF FREMONT, INC., a wholly owned subsidiary of MTR Gaming Group, Inc., completed its $20 million purchase of Binion's Horseshoe Hotel & Casino and entered into a joint operating license agreement with Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., in which Harrah's will serve as the primary day-to-day operator, on an interim basis, of the landmark downtown property that is known as the home of the "World Series of Poker." The companies are aiming to re-open Binion's Horseshoe, which shut down in January, on April 1. The joint operating agreement's initial term is one year but Harrah's can opt to extend it for up to an additional two years. According to an intellectual property agreement, Harrah's will retain the rights to the names "Horseshoe" and "World Series of Poker" while MTR will keep the right to use the name "Binion's" in Clark County. When the joint operating license agreement is terminated, MTR will take over the operation of the property and will re-brand it according to the terms of the intellectual property agreement.

SPEAKING OF the "World Series of Poker," Harrah's agreed to hold this year's tournament -- and at least the final two rounds of next year's contest -- at Binion's Horseshoe, no matter whether it elects to extend the joint operating agreement for a second year. The 35th annual tournament encompasses 33 events that will be held between April 22 and the world championship finale on May 28. Based on the expected number of participants, this year's total prize money will exceed $20 million. Harrah's will offer multiple mini-tournaments called "satellites," which allow poker players to gain entry into the tournaments for as little as $50. Players who are at least 21 years of age and interested in registering in advance can call (877) FOR-WSOP and pay the registration fee for the event they want to enter via a wire transfer. Players also can register in person at the Horseshoe during the event; registration materials then can be picked up at the World Series of Poker registration desk. The 2004 World Series of Poker schedule and other tournament information is available at

THROUGH MARCH 28, agents can earn 14% commission on all-inclusive MGM-Mirage Vacations' Las Vegas packages. The offer, which is valid for bookings made via VAX VacationAccess, AgentNet VAX and Sabre Vacations, does not include air fare via Southwest Airlines. MGM-Mirage Vacations' packages features accommodations at any of the following five Las Vegas resorts: Bellagio, The Mirage, MGM Grand, New York-New York and Treasure Island. Entertainment options include tickets to such Cirque du Soleil productions as "O," "Mystere," and "Zumanity," as well as other shows such as comedian Danny Gans and La Femme. Other optional vacation features include limousine transfers, roundtrip airport-hotel transfers, and Alamo or Dollar car rentals.

STARTING MAY 3, Allegiant Air will inaugurate Friday and Monday service between Bismarck, N.D., and Las Vegas. Three days later, the low-fare, Las Vegas-based carrier will begin service on Thursdays and Sundays from Sioux Falls, S.D. Both new routes will use 161-seat MD-83 aircraft. To celebrate the new service, Allegiant, through April 10, will offer a $99 introductory one-way fare that is valid for travel through the end of the year. The carrier also is featuring air-inclusive vacation packages from Bismarck and Sioux City starting at $250 per person, roundtrip. This introductory package rate, good through April 10, includes roundtrip air and a four-night stay at the Four Queens. For air-only bookings, phone (888) 594-6937; for Allegiant Vacations packages, call (800) 432-3810. Reservations also can be made at


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