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Gaming Guru

 

New Development, The Engine That Drives The Gaming Industry

27 April 2005

Sixteen years ago, in a fairly stagnant Las Vegas economy, Steve Wynn opened the Mirage, the first new major casino resort in Las Vegas in almost 20 years. At the time, many thought that Mr. Wynn had gone too far, that the market wouldn't support such a lavish facility. Not only did Mr. Wynn succeed, but his success lead to a fundamental shift in thinking among casino executives. Las Vegas will never be the same again.

Each year it seems when you go to Las Vegas, there is some big new billion dollar development either opening or in the works. Part of the ongoing attraction of this city is the consistency of change, bringing with it new worlds for the gambling customer to conquer. This week, it is the highly anticipated opening of the Wynn Las Vegas, a new $2.7 billion casino resort on the site formerly occupied by the historic Desert Inn. With a 2,700 room luxury hotel, complete with a private mountain, lake and golf course, the Wynn Las Vegas promises to once again capture the imagination of the gaming public. Its opening is sure to fill not only the new casino's hotel rooms, but will undoubtedly lead to spillover business throughout the town. With 18 restaurants, a new show by Franco Dragone, an 18-hole championship golf course, a spa and salon, and an art gallery featuring the works of many masters, the resort promises to be truly unique.

As various anticipatory news reports on the opening have crossed my desk, I also received an e-mail from a reader of my column quoting from earlier columns of mine on the plans for permanent casinos in Detroit being in place by the Super Bowl. The reader, who confessed that he tracks national news more closely than Detroit local news, wondered simply "what happened" to the new permanent facilities for the three Detroit casinos.

Unfortunately, all three developments have been "on hold" as the result of an injunction in a case brought by the Lac Vieux Desert Band against the City of Detroit over the language of the Ordinance authorizing the selection of casino developers.

Two of the three casino developers (MotorCity Casino and Greektown Casino, LLC) have agreed to settle with the tribe, but still are awaiting court approval of the settlement.

Despite this setback, the three Detroit casinos have performed well, become integral members of the community, and monetarily have contributed much to try to help keep Detroit's head above water financially. As attitudes changed from a desire for a clustered riverfront development to having the permanent casinos be geographically separated, the casinos' managements have remained flexible and generous to the City leaders in restructuring the development agreements. Collectively, on many of the initial aspects of the development, the citizens of the City of Detroit and the City leaders have repeatedly charted a new course.

The reader's basic point is a very sound one. To thrive long term, and for the community to reap all the benefits of casino gaming, there must be new and exciting development. If the opening of the Mirage 17 years ago and the Wynn Las Vegas this month have taught us anything, it is that new development is the economic engine that drives the success of the gaming industry. Governmental leaders in Windsor have recognized this with their recent announcement of a major facelift and refurbishing of Casino Windsor, together with the construction of a new 100,000 square foot convention center, a 5,000 seat auditorium, and a 23 story hotel tower with 400 new rooms.

The Detroit/Windsor market has shown itself to be a very strong one, with a customer base deserving of the best the gaming industry has to offer. The Michigan construction industry in this region did a remarkable job of constructing "temporary" facilities that are first class in and of themselves.

The Detroit casinos were approved as an economic development tool for southeastern Michigan and it is time for the second wave of casino development to begin in Detroit. To accomplish all that the casino gaming industry has to offer, Detroit needs a clear vision and needs the courts to get out of the way and let progress occur.

David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com
David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com