E C E M B E R 2 0 0 0 H I G H L I G H T S
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. He’ll 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.
Achievements and Ascents
By Doug Puppel
Events at Argosy Gaming and Park Place Entertainment underscore
gaming’s 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 magazine’s 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
Gaming Law and Politics
Every Man a Sovereign?
Indian nations and Internet
By I. Nelson Rose
Cutting-edge developments in gambling law are coming from North
America’s oldest cultures and the world’s 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
d’Alene 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.
A compilation of news, information, and tips collected from our
Call Them Bwana
Station Casinos recently scrubbed a deal with a team of its own
executives to buy out Station’s 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 Ameristar’s kitty, as Station picked up the former’s
struggling Vegas Valley flagship, The Reserve, as part of the deal.
Another One Bites the Dust
One of the casino industry’s 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
Gaming Execs Broker Motown Accord
What’s 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
Walking the Floor
Evaluating service the right
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
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.
The “Other” Casino Executives
Compensation for the Hotel and
Food & Beverage Executive
By Keith Kefgen & Stephen
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
Kranes on Design
How Las Vegas Could (and Should) Rethink its Concept of the
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
By Bill Holland
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
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