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Chef Laurent Tourondel's BLT Burger Restaurant
 Replacing The Mirage's White Tiger Habitat

Las Vegas Review-Journal Inside Gaming column

Las Vegas Review-JournalMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Nov. 11, 2007 - BIG CATS' HABITAT OUT, BURGER JOINT IN AT MIRAGE: The Mirage's white tiger habitat is giving way to an upscale burger joint. Siegfried & Roy's famous exotic animals, however, aren't vacating the Strip resort.

MGM Mirage quietly closed the tiger habitat near the hotel's south entrance last week and announced that BLT Burger, a stylish hamburger restaurant from Chef Laurent Tourondel, will occupy the space by next spring. BLT Burger is advertised as having a hip and casual setting and a diverse menu, specializing in beef, Kobe, Lamb and Ahi tuna burgers.

The tigers, who prowled the glass-enclosed home since The Mirage's opening in November 1989, can still be seen as part of Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the resort. Rather than the free viewing near the entrance, the Secret Garden carries a charge of $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 4 to 12.

"We thought we could make better use of the space by opening BLT Burger, and we wanted to encourage our guests to visit the Secret Garden," said MGM Mirage spokeswoman Jenn Michaels.

-- Officials from the proposed Crown Las Vegas project, slated for the former Wet 'n Wild site on the Strip, held meetings with their potential neighbors from Turnberry Towers last week. Developers wanted to alleviate any concerns about the potential height of the 5,000-room resort's hotel tower, now proposed for 142 stories.

The Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing a request from Crown Las Vegas to reduce the planned height of the tower from the initial 1,888 feet to 1,150 feet, one foot taller than the Stratosphere.

Crown Las Vegas officials told Turnberry residents the project could be turned into shorter, dual hotel towers, depending upon the FAA's ruling.

-- Does this count?

In an interview last month on, disgraced baseball star Pete Rose said he would pay $100 to anyone who sees him gambling.

Rose, the former Cincinnati Reds all-star who was banned from baseball for violating rules against wagering on baseball, will be at the Global Gaming Expo on Tuesday, appearing in the Kodiak Gaming booth.

Last year, Kodiak Gaming, a Florida-based slot machine company that supplies American Indian casinos, announced that it had signed Rose to a licensing deal for a Pete Rose-themed slot machine.

-- Voters in Maine rejected a referendum last week that would have allowed an American Indian tribe in the eastern part of the state to operate a racino. Penn National Gaming, which owns a slot machine parlor at a racetrack in Bangor, now has the state's lone casino.

The Inside Gaming column is compiled by Review-Journal gaming and tourism writers Howard Stutz, Benjamin Spillman and Arnold M. Knightly. Send your tips about the gaming and tourism industry to


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