|By Howard Stutz, Las Vegas
Review-JournalMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Apr. 10, 2008 - Nearly three years after spending $9 billion to acquire rival casino operator Caesars Entertainment, Harrah's Entertainment is finally going to capitalize on the name.
Harrah's announced Wednesday that it plans to change the company's name to Caesars Entertainment Corp. The switch requires regulatory approval in the states where the company operates casinos.
The name Harrah's, however, will not disappear. Harrah's will become one of the company's three primary casino brands, along with Caesars and Horseshoe.
Harrah's has long been associated with middle-market gamblers and the company's Total Rewards marketing program, one of the gaming industry's pioneering database development systems. Harrah's was founded more than 70 years ago in Reno as a small bingo parlor by gaming figure Bill Harrah.
In June 2005, Harrah's completed a buyout of Caesars, which at the time was the largest gaming industry merger and created the world's largest casino operator. The deal gave Harrah's the iconic Caesars Palace, one the Strip's most recognizable hotel-casinos.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas public administration professor Bill Thompson, who specializes in gaming matters, said the name change should have been done when Harrah's bought Caesars.
"Caesars is a high-class name with world reknown identity," Thompson said. "Harrah's is a good name, but it's middle-class. Harrah's is like Kmart. They should have done it when they merged."
In a statement, Harrah's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary Loveman said the name change is designed to capitalize on the international name recognition of Caesars.
"Adoption of the name Caesars Entertainment will provide our company with greater prestige and help attract strategic business partners as we pursue expansion opportunities in new jurisdictions," Loveman said.
However, in recent weeks Harrah's announced it was withdrawing from potential hotel-casino projects in the Bahamas and Slovenia. Meanwhile, the company is adding the Caesars name to its Casino Windsor in Ontario in June. The name change is to coincide with a $400 million expansion.
The Caesars name is on three Harrah's-owned casinos, in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Indiana.
Harrah's operates more than 50 casinos worldwide. The company employs more than 87,000 workers. In Las Vegas, Harrah's operates Caesars Palace, Bally's, Paris Las Vegas, Flamingo, Harrah's Las Vegas, Imperial Palace, Bill's Gamblin' Hall and the Rio.
The name change will mark the second time Caesars has been adopted by a casino company. In 2004, Park Place Entertainment, which had acquired Caesars Palace, took on the name Caesars Entertainment.
A Harrah's spokeswoman said it was unclear how long regulatory approval would take before the name change can be implemented. She did not have any estimates available for costs associated with the transition.
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