Three new resorts help casinos cash in big in fiscal '99

LAS VEGAS -- Three new resorts helped casinos win $8.5 billion in fiscal 1999, a 7.9% gain over the previous year. The Nevada Gaming Control Board said that marked the strongest growth in five years. The gain was attributed to the opening of Bellagio last October, Mandalay Bay in March and the Venetian in May.

"It does appear that when they build these new properties, it does tend to create an increased demand in the Las Vegas market," Russ Guindon of the control board told the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, William Weidner, president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands Inc., parent company of the Venetian, delivered a progress report on the delay-plagued, $1.5 billion Venice-themed resort during a Colorado financial conference.

He said casino revenues have increased. Slot machine and table game revenues were averaging $4.1 million a day when the resort opened in May, and that figure had grown to $5.9 million a day by the end of July.

He said the Venetian, with its direct link to the Sands Expo and Convention Center, expects to sell more than half of its rooms to the group business market.

In July, the Venetian's overall hotel occupancy was 85%, at an average daily rate of $127. "The overall linear average of occupied rooms began in May at approximately 1,000 occupied rooms per night and increased to approximately 2,700 occupied rooms per night at the end of July," Weidner said.

Only 36 of the resorts' 3,036 suites were unfinished as of mid-August. They are on the top floor and were expected to be completed by press time.

Nine of the 65 retail stores and boutiques planned openings in August. Nearly 50 of the 65 stores will open this month.

The Venetian
Phone: (702) 414-1000

Study: City must refocus its ads

LAS VEGAS -- Facing fewer visitors from three of its key feeder markets, Las Vegas needs to better advertise its nongaming amenities such as entertainment, according to a recent study.

The research, compiled by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority along with R&R Partners, was part of a competitive threat analysis, which showed Vegas' appeal dropping in Southern California, Texas and Phoenix.

The percentage of respondents who said they were likely to visit Las Vegas fell from 8% to 6% in Los Angeles, 18% to 12% in Phoenix and 13% to 11% in Dallas. Researchers said Indian casinos are an increasingly competitive factor in the three areas.

Billy Vassiliadis, chief executive officer of R&R Partners, suggested Las Vegas commit to more advertising on nongaming amenities. He urged that ads also focus on the convenience of travel to Las Vegas. He also suggested that after the latest wave of new casinos is completed, the marketing of special events would take on added importance.

SFX Live of New York, which was hired by the LVCVA to develop a nine-event slate of events (see story, below), is expected to detail some of those activities in the fall.

Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority
Phone: (702) 892-0711

LVCVA, SFX Live sign pact

LAS VEGAS -- The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority entered into a three-year entertainment partnership with SFX Live, a division of SFX Entertainment, the largest diversified promoter, producer and venue operator of live entertainment events in the U.S.

"The alliance with SFX is a major component in our overall strategic plan for marketing and promoting Las Vegas," said Manny Cortez, LVCVA's president and chief executive officer.

Under the terms of the agreement, SFX Entertainment designated the city as the "official resort destination" of SFX and will bring nine events to Las Vegas during the next three years.

The first event, which kicked off the new alliance, was the May 8 George Strait country music festival featuring Tim McGraw, Dixie Chicks, Kenny Chesney, Jo Dee Messina, Mark Wills and Asleep at the Wheel. Other events may include street festivals; rock, alternative rock, rhythm and blues, jazz or folk music concerts, and motor-sports events.

Nationally, Las Vegas this year will be promoted on site at SFX-produced shows in 10 major markets, including Atlanta; Boston; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles; Miami; New York; Phoenix, and San Francisco. Five more major cities will be added to the list next year and 10 more in 2001.

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