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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Resorts Destinations CEO Assures Success in East Chicago

27 July 2005

Gaming fans who had grown accustomed to Harrah's East Chicago Casino & Hotel were subjected to somewhat of a "gambling culture" shock in late April when the property morphed literally overnight into Resorts Destinations East Chicago.

The only popular comparisons I can make to illustrate the impact this can have on a loyal following of gamblers is if Wrigley Field became the home of the New York Yankees starting with the next home stand or if Marshall Field's closed Saturday night and re-opened Monday morning as Harrod's.

During a whirlwind 36-hour period when the property was closed to the public, all vestiges of Harrah's were removed and replaced with the identity of the new owner. One can only imagine the non-stop activity it took to replace all the signage, the felt on the gaming tables, the bank of chips, the player's club computer software and so much more.

The acquisition of the property was part of a $1.24 billion deal between Resorts Destinations, an affiliate of the Los Angeles-based real estate firm Colony Capital LLC, and Harrah's Entertainment, Inc./Caesars Entertainment.

Resorts went from owning two casinos (Resorts Atlantic City and the Las Vegas Hilton) to owning six. In addition to East Chicago, Indiana, the company added the Atlantic City Hilton and the Ballys and Resorts properties in Tunica, Mississippi to its expanding gambling-industry empire.

After having operated under the highly visible, heavily marketed and extremely popular Harrah's brand since 1998, the East Chicago riverboat and pavilion seemed stripped of its familiar "personality" the first few days after the changeover. The aura was unavoidable in light of the abrupt turn of events.

But fear not, dear gaming enthusiast: Resorts is an experienced, quality operation with a strong track record in the two biggest casino markets in the nation. Taking over and re-inventing an established property overnight isn't easy.

In a relatively short period of time, Resorts has established its presence. It is becoming obvious that by the time the property celebrates its Grand Opening later this year and the marketing executives have had a chance to work their magic, Resorts Destinations East Chicago will feel like home.

Nicholas L. Ribis is the Vice-Chairman, President and CEO of Resorts Destinations. He ran Donald Trump's gambling enterprise in the 90s, including overseeing operations at the Trump Casino & Hotel in Gary.

Ribis was a successful attorney and founder of a large legal firm before his executive talents were tapped by The Donald. He comes to Resorts with a thorough knowledge of the gaming industry and a keen sense of exactly what it takes to become successful within the marketplace.

Resorts Atlantic City was the East Coast's first casino when it opened its doors in May of 1978, yet it wasn't until 24 years later, June of 2004 to be exact, that Colony expanded its gambling holdings when it acquired the famous Las Vegas Hilton. The recent three-fold expansion less than a year later is indicative of very aggressive long range business plan.

"We are a growing gaming company," Ribis said. "With this acquisition, Resorts becomes the largest private gaming company in the world and probably the fifth largest gaming company overall. The acquisitions strengthen our position in the Atlantic City marketplace, plus we are now in the four largest gaming jurisdictions in the United States: Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Indiana (greater Chicago area) and Mississippi. We like diversity and we love the properties. We consider ourselves fortunate to have this opportunity because of the Harrah's and Caesars merger."

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