Support for introduction of `good casinos’


Good casinos _ legalised gambling establishments with strong regulations _ would do no harm, Chulalongkorn lecturer Pornsak Pongpaew believes.


He said the need for good casinos became apparent because casinos across the border were unregulated, and in effect served as money laundering places.


The lecturer also believes good casinos will help help block money flowing out of the country from Thai gamblers who visit cross-border gambling venues in the East, North, and South.


Mr Pornsak led a research team on “The problems of border casinos,” which found that more than 95% of gamblers visiting border casinos were Thai and included many prominent politicians.


It also showed that more than 55 per cent of respondents, while aware of the negative impact of gambling, supported the idea of legalised casinos.


His research showed money laundering happened in two ways at border casinos _ casino operators laundered their illicit money through the business, while gamblers changed their money into betting chips and then cashed them in again without gambling.


Smoking bans apply to Vic gaming areas from today


MELBOURNE, Sept 1 AAP – Almost all Victorian gaming venues will be completely smoke-free from today. Under laws introduced by state government, smoking will be banned in 99 per cent of Victorian gaming venues, including the main gaming floor of Crown Casino and the state’s 23 bingo centres. About 5,000 pubs will also have to provide smoke-free areas. Only pubs with just one bar area will be exempt from the requirement. Announcing the expansion of the bans last week, Health Minister John Thwaites said it followed the success of smoke-free dining, which had overwhelming community support. He said further smoking bans were possible, depending on the success of the new reforms. “The public are voting with their feet. They are saying they want a safe, smoke-free environment,” he said.


“Clearly, they know their customers better,” says Todd Jordan, an analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein Inc. and the Wall Street Journal’s No. 1 gaming stockpicker this year. “That’s translated into better same-store sales than the industry average,” Jordan says. “Especially in Las Vegas, where their property is not a top draw, they clearly are outperforming other properties.” This assessment is a far cry from the days when analysts were questioning Harrah’s viability.


For all his ease at fitting into the Vegas scene, Loveman, who will take over as CEO on January 1, 2003, continues to value academia. To fill the job of Harrah’s senior vice president of marketing, he hired Richard Mirman, a math genius from the University of Chicago and consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. And he has lured Harvard Business School grads who, had their professor not been doing the hiring, would sooner have joined a band of gypsies than sign up with the gaming industry. Together they are deciphering human nature. They introduced the tiered Total Rewards system, encouraging customers to migrate up the pyramid of rewards. When players alter their pattern and don’t visit as often, Harrah’s continues to pitch specials to them, but it shortens the deadline. And when loyal customers–tired of losing–consider skipping to another casino, Harrah’s makes a preemptive strike: Spend more and be rewarded with a steak dinner or free cash the following day.


In this tiered system, services are segmented. Harrah’s Diamond UFA customers have separate, no-wait restaurant lines, special wines, and lower prices. “We’re purposely exclusive,” Loveman admits. Some Harrah’s restaurants offer a Diamond cardholder-only dish, which, in Harrah’s-speak, is considered “creating aspirations.” Diamond cardholders also receive at least one personal visit to their table by the chef when they dine at some Harrah’s restaurants.


One of the reasons Harrah’s has steered clear of the new Vegas trend of theme hotels is resolutely pragmatic. “When you think of the Venetian,” Loveman says, “you think of the beautiful art, the shopping, the gondolas, the Sistine Chapel. The next word out of your mouth isn’t gaming.” Harrah’s, on the other hand, is “very gaming-centric,” Loveman says proudly.