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Resorts Senior VP & GM Looks Back on First Year

5 July 2006

The casino destination in East Chicago, Indiana, celebrated its first anniversary under the Resorts International brand in April. The property's senior vice-president and general manager, Joseph DeRosa, took time from his busy schedule to sit down with The Thrifty Gambler and talk about some of the highlights of the first year of operation.

Thrifty Gambler: What was it like taking a decade-old property which had conducted business in Northwest Indiana successfully under two previous owners and re-branding it with the Resorts name?

Joseph DeRosa: Getting one of these properties started up, whether you're buying a property or starting from the ground up, is sort of like giving birth. There's all the preparation, then the big day comes. You've got to get your sea legs, then you learn to crawl and eventually you learn to walk. A lot of things happen in that first year. That's no different with us and no different with some of our competitors around the market place the way the trends go.

TG: Resorts is privileged to have a wonderful live poker venue, certainly one of the biggest and most attractive rooms of its kind in the Chicago metropolitan casino market. Do you think the poker craze has peaked or is there room for growth?

JD: There's definitely room for expansion and growth. This hasn't peaked. You know, when I was in California at a casino near Palm Springs we had some statistics done. Supposedly some experts out there claim that 35 adult citizens within a one hour radius would support one poker table. If that's the case there's no telling what the poker market will really bear.

TG: What are your thoughts about continued development of the gaming industry in the Midwest, particularly the Native American property that is being constructed in Southern Michigan?

JD: They've already broken ground up there. Again, as much as (the new casino at) Blue Chip did not hurt us one iota, I expect pretty much the same thing from them. I look for them to split their market over there. We are finding that most of our market comes from Illinois.

TG: Is the gambling market saturated in the Greater Chicagoland area?

JD: Far from it. I don't know if you'll see double-digit growth over the next few years, but you're going to see near

double digit growth. Getting back to the Native American development for example, having experience with one in California I notice that lots of times they lose focus. For example: Having all their restaurants and other entertainment on a separate floor because they want to be known as a family destination. It's so very typical and it looks good on paper to say they want to make money in hotels and restaurants and just happen to want a casino. Out in California they wanted to be a resort that happened to have a casino. That's not the way it goes.

TG: What kind of cross-marketing is being done with the other Resorts properties around the country, including Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Tunica, Mississippi?

JD: There's one in place, and to be quite honest, there was one the first day we took over, if nothing more than through my personal relationships with people I knew in Atlantic City. If I had players I knew who said to me, 'Gee, I haven't been to Atlantic City in a long time' I'd simply tell them, 'You're there!' One of the most valuable things we learn from focus groups is the desire of players to earn points and use them in other parts of the country. And we do that. We're very quickly coming on line with that.

CASINO NEWS: A gaming industry trend across the nation has been the development of the non-gambling related amenities at casino properties. Harrah's Joliet Casino & Hotel in Illinois is proceeding full speed ahead with that initiative with the grand openings this month of Mosaic, a distinctive new casual dining venue, and Sheer, a new contemporary lounge.

Late this month a new Starbucks will open in the pavilion along with an expanded Gift Shop.

Mosaic spotlights a variety of cuisines and signature desserts in a colorful setting. The décor of the restaurant is framed in exotic, mosaic tiles and floor-to-ceiling windows that give guests picturesque views of Joliet and the Des Plaines River.

Sheer creates a Las Vegas style lounge experience in an intimate, atmospheric setting of music, colors and light shows. Specialty cocktails reflect Harrah's accent on its system-wide brands, including Atlantic City's Mojito Mojo and the Rio's Melontini.

More improvements are in the works. The property's long-time signature steakhouse, Van Buren's, ceased operations earlier this month. Set to open in its place some time this fall will be The Reserve, a complete new dining experience but once again with an emphasis on choice steaks.

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:

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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