New owners have begun a $40-million renovation on the nearly 25-year-old building which once housed the Maxim casino-hotel just off the Las Vegas Strip – what will emerge is the Westin Casuarina Hotel and Spa. Richard Kannapell, regional director of sales for Columbia Sussex Corp. says the project includes “gutting the entire building”, doing some exterior work and erecting a model room which will be open for public viewing in late February. The new hotel, scheduled to debut July 1, 2003, will include a 10,000-square-foot meeting area and an 11,000 square-foot spa. Westin’s trademark “Heavenly Bed” and Heavenly Roobet Crash Bath” features will be included in each hotel room, which will rent from $50 to $199 per night. Columbia Sussex’ casino management company will operate the new property. It currently operates 60 hotels in the U.S. and several overseas markets, including the Horizon Casino Resort in South Lake Tahoe.
Study Says More People Gambling
More people are gambling, showed a recent study by the Research Institute on Addictions at the State University of New York. The study, reported in The Journal of Gambling Studies, found 82 percent of adult Americans say they had gambled in the last year. In comparison, researchers cited studies showing that 61 percent of Americans gambled in 1975, as did 63 percent in 1998. Gambling was defined in the research as everything from office pools and friendly card games to dog racing and casinos. In a recent survey, 2,630 Americans nationwide were interviewed by phone in 1999 and 2000. They were asked such questions as how often they gambled and how much they won or lost. Results showed that state lotteries are the most common form of gambling, but casinos account for most of the money. While those who play the lottery (66 percent) outnumber those who go to casinos (27 percent), the average amount gambled was much higher at casinos. Also, people who bet on horses and dogs were described as “the biggest gamblers by far,” wagering on average about $2,000 a year.
Fraudster on the Loose in UK
More than 10,000 bookmakers in and around the United Kingdom received emergency alerts via satellite this week, warning them of Britain’s most feared gambling scammer, Pencil Man. For the past six years, John Bailey, 32, with his talent for gambling fraud has netted proceeds from bookmakers of an estimated $1.5 million (£1 million). Last November he was found guilty at Grimsby Crown Court of conning two Humberside bookmakers out of nearly $65,000 (£40,000) in 48 hours of betting. However, late last month Bailey failed to attend a hearing where he was expected to receive a substantial jail term. He was recently spotted in two betting shops in Co Kildare in the Irish Republic, despite being banned by court order from every bookmaker in the UK and also being forced to surrender his passport. “If there was an Olympic Games for conmen, I am sure he would get gold. There is not one part of the country where he has not been active,” says Warwick Bartlett, chairman of the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB). Pencil Man has been described as quick-of-hand and charming in nature. He fills in a betting slip with a harmless bet, which is accepted and time stamped. He then steals the carbon copy back from across the counter. Once he knows the winners of the race, Bailey adds a further, more complicated bet to both copies and slips the carbon copy back across the counter after distracting staff. He returns later to collect his winnings. Bailey is known to place large losing bets to cover his tracks.