Jeff Simpson: Not All Stardust Workers Will Retain Boyd Gaming Jobs - Wednesday 8th of February 2006

by Jeff Simpson

By Our Partners at the Las Vegas Sun

LAS VEGAS, Nevada Pity the poor Stardust workers who woke up Friday and read the Review-Journal business story that incorrectly said Boyd Gaming Corp. has developed a plan to retain all 1,899 workers after the property is demolished to make way for the $4 billion Echelon Place.

While owner Boyd Gaming is working on plans to give jobs to as many of the Stardust's workers as it can, it would be impossible for the company to place each and every one of the employees at its Las Vegas-area casinos.

No Las Vegas casino has ever done so; some hotel executives have offered to give workers at closed properties priority when applying for jobs at new resorts, and some have placed as many as possible at sister properties.

Many Stardust workers will undoubtedly be offered jobs at other Boyd properties, but the company just doesn't have the jobs to match up with the skill and experience of every single worker.

Boyd Gaming and its Chairman Bill Boyd have a history of loyalty to long-term employees, so the R-J story must have pained company executives who knew that it was wrong.

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I was a naysayer when the Las Vegas Monorail began operation a year and a half ago; in fact I won a (quite tasty) burrito from a co-worker when my prediction that the MGM Grand-to-Sahara line wouldn't attract nearly as much business as its owners estimated came true.

But the Las Vegas Monorail Co.'s plans for expansion are a different matter. An airport expansion and a new route on the west side of the Strip, as reported Friday by Sun business reporter Richard N. Velotta, would be a much more viable business proposition.

Strip hotel operators and other businesses will invest in the idea and make it a reality.

As MGM Mirage Chairman Terry Lanni told me a few months ago, linking the hotels to the airport is a no-brainer. And offering service to the west side of the Strip also makes a great deal of sense. The new route would touch many of the Strip's best megaresorts, including Bellagio, Wynn Las Vegas and MGM's soon-to-begin-construction Project CityCenter.

The Strip's tightly packed collection of hotels, convention centers, shows, restaurants, nightclubs, spas and other attractions make Las Vegas an unbeatable lure for conventions and fun seekers. Alleviating Strip-area traffic congestion and making movement easy for our guests is a smart idea.

•••

Expect Station Casinos to quickly demonstrate its ability to develop a couple of major casino projects at once. Station Chief Development Officer Scott Nielson said last week the company expects to begin work early next year on its Aliante Station in North Las Vegas, a casino that will be jointly owned by the Greenspun family, which also owns the Las Vegas Sun.

Station is in an enviable position with a bunch of casino-approved sites around the valley. Nielson said the company can easily handle building two projects at once and said the likeliest spots for a second project are near the Las Vegas Beltway at Durango Drive, on Las Vegas Boulevard South at Cactus Avenue or in Reno.

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Casino industry insiders wonder about Las Vegas' ability to support the city's current breakneck expansion of the poker business. Fueled by the incredible popularity of televised poker and Internet poker sites, almost every Strip and locals casino has or plans to have a card room. Leaving aside the shortage of trained dealers to staff the added tables, the casino moves make some poker bosses question the market's ability to absorb so much poker, particularly at the top end. Established kingpin Bellagio's in great shape, and Wynn Las Vegas and Mirage are capturing a lot of business. But I doubt there's enough business for other properties that have recently established high-end poker rooms, or plan to soon do so. Among them: MGM Grand, Caesars Palace and the Venetian.

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