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Caesars Palace Early Years
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Nationwide ‘Awe’ for Caesar
Sunday, Aug. 7, 1966 | 5 a.m.
Top name personalities from across the nation flew into town this weekend to make the grand opening of one of the largest gambling resorts to be constructed on the Las Vegas Strip in 10 years--Caesars Palace.
The $25 million resort, headed by Nate Jacobson, an insurance executive from Baltimore, and some 70 stockholders, chartered planes and imported celebrities and gamblers for the opening.
Included on the guest list were: Teamster Union President James Hoffa, Nevada Governor Grant Sawyer and entertainers Rhonda Fleming, Ann Baxter, Adam West, David Jansen and Ed Sullivan.
The casino, lighted by the largest crystal chandelier in the world, was jammed with gamblers by mid-afternoon.
An executive of another Strip hotel said Caesars Palace had imported some of the biggest "high rollers" in the country for the opening.
Singer Andy Williams opened the dining room show with such favorites as "Who Can I Turn To," "Call Me," "Shadow of Your Smile and "What How My Love."
Williams joshed about the usual opening-day blues of confuseed reservations and the apparent lack of coordination in opening the hotel on schedule tht had Strip gamblers betting it would not come off on time. He sang a medley of Henry Mancini hits and then lured the composer-director on stage to conduct a few numbers.
Eight Roman soldiers heralded the opening curtain which was more than an hour late going up. A stage full of swinging Cleopatras gyrated to modern rhythm.
Some chorus girls wore see-through beaded costumes, but nudes were noticably absent from the production.
Gov. Sawyer welcomed guests before the opening curtain. He termed the multi-million dollar hotel one of the most spectacular displays he had seen. "This is quite a jump for Nate Jacobson from the insurance business," said the governor.
The sprawling hotel covers a 34-acre piece of desert worth $3 million.
Faulty Landing Ruins Exhibition
Monday, Jan. 1, 1968 | 6 a.m.
Stuntman Evel Knievel, 29, made a flight of about 150 feet over the fountains of Caesars Palace here yesterday, but he failed the acid test of the aviator.
His landing wasn't one he could walk away from.
As a result, he was seriously injured and faces months in the hospital.
The stuntman, who gives Hollywood and Butte Mont. as his homes, failed to get up sufficient speed to leap from one ramp to another set up in front of the hotel, as he had planned.
His motorcycle landed on the top [art of the second ramp, rather than the downward portion.
He was thrown off the bike at a speed of about 92 miles an hour and the cycle hurtled over him as he tumbled down the 150-foot ramp and hit a retain wall.
The rampaging bike, riderless, narrowly missed several spectators before too, crashed into a wall.
Knievel was taken by ambulance to the Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital. There Dr. Armand Scully, orthopedic surgeon, reported after an X-ray examination that Knievel had suffered multiple fractures in the pelvis area.
Doctors said he might be crippled for life if it became necessary to fuse his pelvis. The medical decision was expected to be made today, following extensive examinations and consultations.
A spokesman for the stuntman said that a decision to fuse the pelvis would end Knievel's career as a motorcycle jumper.
The surgeon made a preliminary estimate that Knievel would be hospitalized for "a long time," perhaps four or five months. The injured man was admitted to the intensive care section.
Knievel's mechanic, Art Parker, reported the stuntman should have been going about 100 miles an hour for a safe landing on the jump but about 10 miles slower.
Knievel was conscious but in pain when he was picked up by the ambulance crew. A crowd of about 10,000 persons had gathered to witness Knievel's jump over the fountain area in front of the hotel.
The stutman's plans for the future had called for him to attempt to leap over the Grand Canyon in a jet-propelled motorcycle in the Marble Gorge area next Labor Day.
Clubs’ cash flow suspect
By Liz Benston, Jeff German, Michael Mishak
Thursday, Feb. 28, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Beyond the velvet rope (12-30-2005)
John Katsilometes on Pure Management’s plan to bring some glitter to the Gutter (3-13-2007)
Tipping the scales of fair play by IRS (10-24-2005)
The burgeoning nightclub scene has brought a new kind of money to Las Vegas — and an old kind of trouble. The scene is awash in cash to an extent reminiscent of Las Vegas’ early days.
An IRS investigation into two of the Strip’s hottest clubs, Pure at Caesars Palace and LAX at Luxor, has demonstrated the potential for abuse by employees and managers. But of greater worry to casino executives and state gaming regulators is damage the case could do to the carefully guarded reputation that modern Las Vegas’ casinos and resorts have for running transparent and legitimate businesses.
Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said Wednesday he doesn’t recall the IRS conducting a raid inside a casino since the waning days of the mob in Las Vegas in the 1980s. His agency, he said, will be watching the IRS investigation closely and is prepared to take action over any alleged violations.
Several major casinos already have informed the Control Board that they are conducting internal reviews of the cash practices at the nightclubs operating on their properties.
Pure and LAX are both operated by Pure Management Group as a partner of the casinos. Pure Management, which manages more than 10 restaurants and clubs at casinos along the Strip, is run by two innovators of the nightclub scene, Robert Frey and Steve Davidovici.
Pure opened on New Year’s Eve in 2004 next to the sports book at Caesars Palace, which is owned by Harrah’s Entertainment. The $14 million club quickly became a haven for jet-setters and big-name celebrities. Accommodating more than 1,500 people, Pure claims to be the nation’s top revenue-producing nightclub.
LAX, inside MGM Mirage’s Luxor, reportedly cost $20 million to develop.
Pure Management’s revenues have grown sharply. In August, Davidovici told the Los Angeles Times annual revenues had jumped in the past five years from $25 million to more than $120 million.
Neither the IRS nor the company would discuss the IRS action, although Pure Management issued a statement last week saying it is “fully cooperating with this IRS investigation and looks forward to a quick and satisfactory resolution.”
The probe has shaken executives at the MGM Mirage.
“The issue is a big concern to us,” said Alan Feldman, a senior vice president. “The IRS and the Department of Treasury raiding the offices of one of our partners is not something we take lightly. This is a circumstance where the responsible thing to do is to monitor things very closely.
“We should not need to remind any one of our partners about our expectations of them and of their compliance with all rules and regulations,” Feldman said.
Gary Thompson, a spokesman for Harrah’s Entertainment, said: “If there was something illegal going on that would obviously be of great concern to us. But we don’t know if there was any such activity going on.”
Nightclub insiders say the investigation is focusing on the common practice of employees’ soliciting tips from patrons to get inside the crowded clubs and whether all of those tips have been reported to the IRS.
Many of the tens of thousands of patrons who go to Pure, LAX and other clubs along the Strip each week learn quickly that they must wait for hours in line to get inside — unless they slip the doorman some cash.
Inside, hosts and waitresses also can signal that they expect money up front for services normally included in the cover charge.
“It’s a sophisticated tourist shakedown,” an experienced nightclubber says. “You pay to skip the line at the door. Then you pay a host to take you to a table. Then you pay up to $1,000 for a bottle of alcohol. And at the end of your stay, you tip the waitress for all of the great fun you’ve had.”
At some nightclubs, the cash payments are pooled and distributed each night up the management chain in a process those familiar with the nightclub scene call “breaking the bank.”
The practice of paying doormen to get inside a club is not unique to Las Vegas, but it does have urgency here.
“You only have a certain amount of time in Las Vegas,” said Xania Woodman, a former independent club VIP host who edits the nightlife section of Las Vegas Weekly and covers the industry. “Next in line does not necessarily mean next in the club. You can either spend time or spend money; I always suggested you spend money.”
The IRS investigation, she said, has stunned the city’s club industry.
“This has been done so long that it’s become the way,” Woodman said. “It’s talked about so openly that everyone is completely shocked. It’s our vocabulary. Whatever paradigm shift comes, it’s clear there will be a new way of doing things.”
Nightclubs have become major cash cows for casinos. Some clubs share revenue with the casino. But even properties that collect rent from clubs benefit by attracting hordes of spendthrift clubgoers who spend money elsewhere in the resort.
Operators say a successful club can generate from $10 million to $50 million a year in revenue. But the most intriguing feature about Las Vegas nightclubs isn’t the revenue but their huge profit margins. Most of the money is made on liquor, which can have profit margins as high as 95 percent. Many clubs make the bulk of their money on “bottle service.” Typically, customers will pay hundreds of dollars per bottle for the privilege of sitting at a VIP table — and they may be required to buy more bottles, depending on the size of their group.
At Pure and other high-end clubs, many tables are reserved for customers paying for bottle service, which includes the services of a cocktail waitress who pours and serves drinks to the group.
On a typical night, club operators say, hundreds of thousands of dollars could be moving through any given club in the form of tips to doormen, VIP hosts, servers and bartenders, as well as payments for bottle service.
Unlike casino cashiers, who are accustomed to handling large sums and are subject to criminal background checks, employers say many nightclub workers are young and relatively inexperienced in money-handling. Much of the cash they touch is being slipped from hand to hand in the dark.
“It’s like running a casino without cash cages, cameras, people wearing jumpsuits without pockets and controlled access,” said one casino executive who declined to be named. “Or more like running a bank without regulatory oversight. It’s an accounting nightmare.”
Doormen often walk up and down the line to make it easier for those waiting to offer money to skip ahead. Women often can jump ahead for free, but it can cost a man $100 or more to jump the line.
The IRS visits to Pure and LAX weren’t the only sign of trouble with this tipping practice.
In October 2006 a former Pure patron, Ira Kiener, filed suit in District Court against the club, Davidovici and Caesars Palace following a 2005 altercation with Davidovici over an “entry fee” the patron and his party of 12 paid to jump in front of the line.
After paying $30 apiece to move up, Kleiner and his lawyer, Michael Koning, allege, the group discovered that some of its members weren’t let inside. A dispute erupted with Davidovici. Eventually, Kleiner and others were kicked out of the club but did not get their money back.
Kleiner alleges he was wrongfully detained by Caesars Palace security officers after the altercation. The case is set for trial in July.
Although regulators were caught off guard by the IRS visits to Pure and LAX, Jerry Markling, chief of the Control Board’s Enforcement Division, said regulators are well aware of the growing problem nightclubs have brought to the Strip.
In February 2006, the Nevada Gaming Control Board distributed an industrywide memorandum warning the casinos that they would be held accountable for any trouble occurring in those clubs — even if most of the clubs are run by independent operators.
Among the concerns of regulators at the time were incidents of violence, public drunkenness and drug distribution at the clubs.
Agents with the Control Board’s Enforcement Division met with executives of the casinos and the clubs to explain the potential repercussions of allowing the activities to continue.
In the wake of the IRS raid, Markling said he wanted to again remind the casinos that they are “responsible for the activities that take place on their properties.”
Caesars Palace stars Celine Dion, Guy Savoy and Gary Loveman to be inducted into Gaming Hall of Fame
By Robin Leach (contact)
Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 | 12:56 p.m.
Celine Dion Celebrates 10th Anniversary of The Colosseum
H.C. Rowe, of AEG and executive director of The Colosseum; John Nelson, AEG vice president; John Meglen, AEG president and co-CEO; and Dave Platel, CDA Productions Management associate celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on Saturday, March 16, 2013. Launch slideshow »
Caesars Palace headline entertainer Celine Dion, celebrated celebrity chef Guy Savoy (whose Restaurant Guy Savoy is at Caesars) and their boss Gary Loveman, chairman, CEO and president of Caesars Entertainment, will be inducted tonight into the Gaming Hall of Fame.
The 25th annual American Gaming Association’s charity gala and induction ceremony is at Pure in Caesars. Celine and Guy have flown in from Europe for the festivities, and the star chef celebrated after landing Tuesday with fellow chef Thomas Keller at the latter’s restaurant Bouchon in the Venetian. Celine arrives today from Paris, France.
Also being inducted is Frank J. Fahrenkopf, who led the AGA for its first 18 years. Today, its president is Geoff Freeman, who said: “The gaming industry is nothing without its innovators, artists and advocates. We are proud to honor Celine, Guy, Gary and Frank as talents who have helped transform our business into the entertainment juggernaut it is today.”
I’ve recorded a special video greeting for Celine that will be played at tonight’s gala that will raise funds for the National Center for Responsible Gaming. She began her first Caesars run with “A New Day” in March 2003, and the original three-year engagement was extended for an additional two years due to unprecedented sellouts.
On March 15, 2011, she returned to begin her second three-year residency with “Celine‘s Back.” Husband manager Rene Angelil has indicated several times that he will extend her residency to 2019.
Mon ami Guy opened his famed Parisian restaurant at Caesars in May 2006. His restaurant in the French capital, now just steps from the Arc de Triomphe, opened in 1980, and its three Michelin stars are widely recognized as the pinnacle of culinary achievement.
Induction into the Gaming Hall of Fame is the highest honor accorded by the gaming-entertainment industry. Some 70 people have been inducted since its inception in 1989.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.