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Harrah's Expands Las Vegas Casino Oligarchy

Harrah's Entertainment, who, along with MGM Mirage, already owns more than two-thirds of Las Vegas Strip casinos, is gambling on adding another property, the Planet Hollywood Casino.

Harrah's Entertainment is assuming management duties for the Planet Hollywood Casino and Resort on the Las Vegas Strip in preparation for purchasing the gambling venue. The casino would be the tenth on or near the Strip owned and operated by Harrah's, the world's largest gaming company.

“We continue to work on a plan that would allow Harrah’s to own and manage the entire casino resort property,” stated Harrah's CEO Gary Loveman. “In the meantime, we are pleased to take on the management of the Planet Hollywood Hotel for the current owners.”

Planet Hollywood had been a breath of fresh air to gambling patrons searching for an alternative in the nearly monopolistic world of Las Vegas Strip casinos. MGM Mirage controls eleven more casinos, and, along with Wynn and Las Vegas Sands, make up with Harrah's almost the entire range of operators on the Strip, even though there are around thirty differently themed casinos.

While executives at these casino operators have blamed the recession for the stark business conditions facing their industry, some analysts, including OCA's Sherman Bradley, have said a return to diversity in ownership and competitive conditions would greatly enhance the Strip's drawing power.

Bradley, who has said the federal government's only proper role in the marketplace is to ensure full competition by preventing the formation of companies "too big to fail," says the lack of competition among Strip properties has led to an amount of rejection by gambling patrons, who have turned to online casinos and regional gambling.

"Without the spurs of fighting to grab customers from the other casinos, Strip gaming venues had gotten away from concentrating on persuading gamblers to patronize their particular casinos," says Bradley. "The recession forced some of the old Vegas mentality to return, with comped rooms, shows, and perks for anyone playing on the gaming floors. The revival may depend as much on a continuance of this Benny Binion-style strategy as the economy as a whole."

Published on January 15, 2010 by JoshuaMcCarthy

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