Aqueduct Gaming, the Delaware North-led group bidding for the racino, announced the addition of Harrah's to its team. Besides adding an established name in the casino industry, it comes with a built-in marketing angle.
With the agreement, Harrah's Total Rewards(R) player loyalty program will be available to customers of the planned Aqueduct casino. Harrah's Total Rewards is the largest casino customer loyalty marketing program in the world and includes several million participants who live within 100 miles of Aqueduct.Harrah's owns the Chester Downs racetrack/racino in Pennsylvania. It's also the owner of the World Series of Poker, which I suppose presents some interesting synergy potential.
[Delaware North president William] Bissett said Aqueduct Gaming estimates that adding the Harrah's brand and Total Rewards program will produce an additional 10 percent in tax revenue for New York State over the previous estimate. [Aqueduct Gaming press release]
Bissett made sure to dispel any notion however that the presence of Harrah's means his bid is going Las Vegas at a time when Aqueduct Entertainment is using the city as a buzzword against Steve Wynn.
"Queens residents clearly don't want overdone Las Vegas-style development that would clash with the neighborhoods around the venue....We will develop and operate a casino that fits perfectly in a New York community, has world-class amenities and an internationally renowned gaming brand, Harrah's, helping it thrive."The press release reiterates the notion that any plans to build a hotel or entertainment center will be "based on community input."
As for Wynn, Jim Odato reported in the Times Union on Monday that he has engaged some high-profile lobbyists as he mounts a full court press.
Steve Wynn, the Las Vegas casino creator extraordinaire, has tapped the lobbying firm led by Jerry Weiss, a former aide to Gov. Mario M. Cuomo. The firm also includes Lou Tomson, a close ally of Gov. George Pataki, and former U.S. Rep. Michael McNulty. Wynn has personally called lawmakers, and his team was among three to set up booths at a Queens "Night Out Against Crime" event that won points from the host community. [Times Union]Jerry Weiss is a frequent contributor to Democratic candidates, including $10,000 to the New York State Democratic Committee in 2007, and numerous contributions to Governor Paterson's Senate selectee Kirsten Gillibrand.
Wynn must have hired a press agent as well, because he's just all over the place these days. Last week I linked to this article in the Queens Tribune entitled Wynn Hopes To Win Aqueduct VLT Race. At the time, I overlooked this artist's rendition of Wynn's proposed building, which a reader hilariously referred to as Le Aqueduct en le Bay de Jamaica. I mean, seriously.
Over the weekend, I heard WCBS radio report on the imminence of the selection, and Wynn was the only bidder to be interviewed. And on Monday, he was featured in a piece by NY Post's gossip columnist Cindy Adams (who, I'm told, once wrote that Frank Stronach was New York racing's best hope). Wynn is a piece of work, and I don't know where to start as far picking a selection or two out of this column, as bizarre as much of it is. You just gotta read this thing yourself; here's the link again, it's worth repeating. "I wouldn't have taken that regressive Yonkers situation if they gave it to me." "My balance goes down by 'one,' New York's up by 'one.' My people will simply tell me, 'We're finished in New York. It's done.'" And he takes a couple of direct shots at his rivals.
The Hard Rock's bidding, but they're more known for pool parties. S.L. Green's another. We have photos of vagrants sleeping at their site in Coral Gables. You don't find that anywhere near my places."I dunno, do you think stuff like this helps his chances? Perhaps he should make himself less visible; take off for Martha's Vineyard or something.