New owners of Tahoe casino looking for name, theme, employees - Sunday 12th of June 2005

Caesars Tahoe has new owners who are looking for a new name, a new theme, an upgraded image and some new employees.Since Harrah's Entertainment Inc. already owns Harrah's Lake Tahoe and Harveys Lake Tahoe Casino & Resort at Tahoe's south shore, it sold neighboring Caesars as part of its purchase of Caesars Entertainment Inc. to Fort Mitchell, Ky.-based Columbia Sussex Corp. for $45 million. And while there were layoffs in the final weeks Caesars owned the property, the help wanted sign is out now. "We're trying to hire. We're really short-handed," Columbia Sussex President William Yung said on Tuesday.

"We're looking for 25-30 people right now."He said the company plans to completely remodel the hotel-casino this fall."We're just trying to get through the summer and right after Labor Day, we'll hit it hard to get it done by Christmas," Yung said.Columbia Sussex has the use of the Caesars name for the next six months."Once we get it remodeled, we feel like the business will pick up. That's when we'll be adding more people," Yung said.Despite a challenging market that has seen gaming win decrease almost 4 percent over the past 10 months because of competition from Northern California Indian casinos, Yung said South Lake Tahoe has potential.He has contracted with Schadler Kramer Group of Las Vegas to develop a new theme for the 27-year-old resort aimed at luring affluent 20- to 40-year-olds from Tahoe's Northern California commuter market.

"I don't know what young people want," said Yung, 63.He said the makeover would be patterned after the upscale Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J., which has become the darling of gamblers since it opened two years ago next month with its pricey restaurants and quiet casino featuring all coinless slots -- complete with footrests."We look forward to the opportunity to re-brand this property to a new customer base appealing to a younger, hipper audience and remain competitive in light of the proliferation of Indian gaming in California," Yung said.Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said Caesars Entertainment had done little to improve the casino the past few years."It's not been kept up. I think this transaction will help the South Lake Tahoe market," he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.Along with the upgrades to the resort's bars, restaurants and night clubs, Yung said just the addition of a laundry represents a break from the past.

He said Caesars sent out all the towels and bedding for the 440-room hotel to Reno, a 1-hour drive in good weather from the Sierra. His company also operates the Horizon Casino Resort across the street from Caesars and all the laundry from both properties will be processed at the lake.In addition to Caesars Tahoe and Horizon, Columbia Sussex operates hotel-casinos in Laughlin, Las Vegas, Mississippi and Louisiana among its more than 60 hotels with more than 20,000 rooms.

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