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Harrah's Joliet Stays Course During Down Year

23 September 2009

It has been a tough year for Illinois casinos, but that hasn't stopped Harrah's Joliet from doing everything it can to weather the economic storm.

The property's efforts to remain on the cutting edge are very much in evidence with a five-month remodeling project which was completed earlier this summer and continual upgrades to the slot machine product.

According to Philippe Khouri, vice president of operations at Harrah's Joliet, an extensive restructuring of the layout of the casino floor was necessary to improve the sight lines and eliminate the overhead clutter created by signage on slot machine denomination "toppers".

"We wanted people to have easy access to our Smoker's Club, Ace's Diner, the high limit room, and the main cashier," he said. "The problem was how to position our games so that there were natural aisle ways to take people to these locations."

The first project was to break up the long table games pit that extended nearly the width of the casino.

"We created some space by dividing one very long pit that was hard to maneuver around into three areas," Khouri explained. "The goal was to market and merchandise our games correctly before moving with the slot machines."

Guests entering the casino now have more room to visually explore the surroundings. Roulette was moved to the front where a craps table used to be, and three additional tables, two for blackjack and one Let It Ride, were added.

New carpeting was installed to assist guests to discern aisle space from casino floor space, slot machines were moved around, and ticket redemption kiosks were repositioned for easier access in high-traffic areas.

Another big change was moving the Total Rewards Center from the pavilion to the back of the casino adjacent to the Smoker's Club where a cashier's cage used to be.

"Total Rewards is now one straight counter with eight windows," Khouri said. "We also added some LCD's to help people distinguish Gold, Platinum, Diamond and Seven Stars lines."

The Smoker's Club was also spruced up a bit, plus the bar and cigarette concession stand adjacent to it was expanded to improve visibility and accessibility.

"We have a lot of new games coming in," Khouri noted. "The changes are not going to a stop. We're heading toward full product refreshment to make our floor even more appealing."

A popular attraction for video poker players at Harrah's Joliet is the bank of one dollar Double-Double Bonus machines with 9/6 pay tables and progressives for the royal flush, aces with a kicker, and 2s, 3s or 4s with a kicker.

As part of the revamping of the casino floor, another 10 machines were linked to the progressive, bringing to 30 the number of units now available for play.

Harrah's has also beefed up its low-denomination slot inventory. There are now 16 penny games on the floor, while the two-cent inventory has increased to 389 units.

CASINO NEWS:

Veteran gaming industry executive Frank Quigley, who has since 2007 served as general manager of Empress Joliet, is moving on. He was recently appointed by parent company Penn National Gaming, Inc. to take over general manager duties at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Pennsylvania.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp