|By Tom Wilemon, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Mar. 5, 2005 - --GULFPORT -- The Grand Casinos in Biloxi and Gulfport could wind up with new names because of their parent company's pending acquisition by Harrah's Entertainment.
"You can expect that going forward we will have three trademark brands -- Caesars, Horseshoe and Harrah's," said Harrah's spokesman Gary Thompson.
However, exceptions will be made for stand-alone properties such as the Paris-themed casino in Las Vegas and names that resonate with gamblers. About 13,750 casino customers have been surveyed.
"We're trying to find out what individual brands, including the Grand Casinos, mean to those customers," Thompson said. "We're trying to find a common thread to attract customers to a particular brand."
Next Friday, shareholders from Harrah's and Caesars Entertainment are scheduled to vote on the merger. The Federal Trade Commission could give its stamp of approval before the end of the month. Then Harrah's will begin asking regulatory commissions in states with legalized gambling for approval. The merger could be a done deal before June 1.
Caesars has a Mid-South headquarters in Gulfport employing about 400 people, and Harrah's has regional offices in Memphis. Bill Hessell, interim director of the Harrison County Development Commission, said efforts are under way to create an incentive package to keep the high-paying jobs in Gulfport.
Caesars employs more than 4,500 people on the Coast at its two casinos, corporate offices and golf course.
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