Gaming briefs for March 5, 2004

Fri, Mar 5, 2004 (11:11 a.m.)

Regulators select leading bid

Illinois regulators today selected Harrah's Entertainment Inc. as the leading bidder for a 10th casino license that will be sold at auction next week.

Harrah's beat competitors Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. and Midwest Gaming and Entertainment LLC for the top slot. The two companies will have a chance to top the Harrah's bid at a public auction conducted by the Illinois Gaming Board March 10.

Harrah's $375 million bid compares to Isle of Capri's $351 million bid and Midwest Gaming's $360 million bid.

Harrah's has partnered with S-L Partners to build a 50,000-square-foot casino in Waukegan, a suburb north of Chicago. The casino would be built on a 32-acre parcel located on the site of a former mall and would include 250 to 500 hotel rooms and several restaurants.

Ex-PepsiCo exec tapped for CEO

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A former executive at PepsiCo Beverages International was chosen today to head Hard Rock Cafe International, one of the oldest themed restaurant chains.

Hamish Dodds was named president and CEO of Hard Rock, which has more than 100 restaurants in 40 countries. He starts Monday.

Dodds had worked 13 years for PepsiCo in franchising, joint ventures and brand management.

Mike Smith, chief executive of The Rank Group, Hard Rock's parent company, said he was confident that Hamish's experience "will prove invaluable as Hard Rock enters its next phase of development."

Hard Rock in recent years has branched out into the hotel and casino business. The Las Vegas Hard Rock Cafe, located at Paradise Road and Harmon Avenue, sits adjacent to the Hard Rock hotel-casino.

Hard Rock had been without a permanent leader for more than a year after Pete Beaudrault abruptly resigned as president and CEO in January 2003.

Critics: Bill expands gambling

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Charities that sponsor bingo games could sell instant pull-tab bingo tickets under a bill the House passed Thursday over objections that it is unconstitutional.

The bill (HB 187) allows charities or veterans organizations to sell the pull-tab or scratch-off instant bingo tickets if they already offer regular bingo. Pull-tabs are tickets where the player removes a cover from a ticket to reveal if a prize is underneath.

It passed the House 103-11. A similar measure is pending in the Senate, where its prospects are uncertain.

Opponents of scratch-off bingo sales say the measure expands gambling and appears to be a violation of the state constitution, which says that only the state may operate a lottery.

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