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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Resorts CEO Promises East Chicago Property Will Deliver

29 June 2005

Recreational casino gambling enthusiasts in the greater Chicago-land area have the potential to reap some benefits of their own in the wake of the acquisition by Resorts Destinations of the East Chicago, Indiana casino and hotel complex from Harrah's Entertainment, Inc.

Resorts is a dynamic gambling company that is on the threshold of becoming a major player in America's casino industry with increased name recognition and its presence in four of the nation's leading gaming jurisdictions. Executives are eager to establish a prominent footprint in the Midwest.

Competition is what brings out the very best in business. Consumers are the direct beneficiaries of that competition in the form of services, value and amenities.

The Resorts acquisition means that the Northwest Indiana gaming market is once again represented by five different companies. In addition to Resorts East Chicago, the quintet includes Horseshoe Hammond (Harrah's Entertainment), Majestic Star in Gary (Don Barden Gaming), Trump in Gary (Trump Gaming) and Blue Chip in Michigan City (Boyd Gaming).

Nicholas L. Ribis is the Vice-Chairman, CEO and President of Resorts Destinations. The Thrifty Gambler had an opportunity to speak with him about his plans for the East Chicago property and what it will mean to the gaming public:

The Thrifty Gambler: What can gaming enthusiasts who were familiar with Harrah's expect at East Chicago now that it is owned by Resorts Destinations?

Nicholas Ribis: We're going to deliver to our customers a quality product, a competitive property and competitive incentives that they have come to expect to receive through the various programs that other gaming companies have.

TG: Does this mean that Resorts will develop its image and expand its name recognition in the wake of the East Chicago acquisition and three other gaming properties in the U.S.?

NR: Of course, and we're in the process of refining it as we speak. We have a major advertising firm that's creating our brand advertising, but our first thrust was to complete the acquisition to get the properties integrated, to get them moving forward, and then to work on the concepts so that all the operating people at all the properties have input into how it works. There is no exclusivity on being smart or how to approach the public. We're looking at all the alternatives that are available to us in doing that, but we are definitely moving down the road smartly and quickly to continue to develop the Resorts brand.

TG: What are the unique challenges of the transition period that's taking place?

NR: From an overall standpoint we've purchased properties before and had to re-establish their identity. What it takes is a focused management team. One of the first things we did was to being in Joseph DeRosa as General Manager. Joe had worked before in Indiana at Gary and knows the market place, the property and has an understanding of Indiana.

When I was with Trump I had the Gary property report in to me for six years, so I understand the marketplace that we're in as well. I think that Harrah's is an established, powerful brand and a great company. But we think that we have an advantage because we can individualize and focus in the region that we're in and let our customers know that we're here. And our results thus far have proven to me that a focused management team, a great product and a good customer base works well together. There's been literally no fall off in business. On the contrary, there's been an increase in volume.

We feel very comfortable with the mailings that we've done and with the advertising, but of course we're not naive enough to think that the Resorts brand can have the same impact as a Harrahs brand, which was here for a long time. It will take us time to show our customers that we can deliver a great product and service level the same as or better than Harrah's and that our hotel product is still the same and the service is going to be as good or better. And once people test us out and we're able to deliver that product we'll succeed under the Resorts brand here.

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