According to Isa-casinos.com, industry experts are unfazed at the Santo and Sanfilippo departures and the prospect of downsizing at Harrah's in general. "It's normal, any acquisition of that type, that some of the senior executives do leave," said Los Angeles-based stock analyst Saul Leonard. Nor did he think the resignations would impact Harrah's stock. "Assuming they get licensed, the stock'll be at 90, when it's acquired. The stock is not being traded now for its unknown potential, so I don't see what effect (the resignations) could have," he concluded.
According to Gaming Today, Harrah's was ramping up "a streamlining plan at the corporate level that is expected to trim perhaps several hundred million in administrative expenses." A Business Press source stated that as many as 5,000 positions could be trimmed, particularly in construction, marketing and information technology, but not on the gaming floor. "I know of no cuts to those areas," said Harrah's spokesman Alberto Lopez.
There are concerns about planned Harrah's expansion and construction projects in the face of the buyout, including a major initiative involving Las Vegas Strip properties, where Harrah's has acquired approximately 350 acres of prime real estate. A planned construction project in Biloxi was placed on hold last year, but Mayor A.J. Holloway is confident in Harrah's continued dedication to the project. "I certainly hope so," he added, noting that "The market's here. Harrah's knows that. They're still buying property today. That's what their real estate agent told me."
A potential casino project in nearby Jackson County has some market speculators concerned, as the proposed Choctaw casino would sit along the I-110 highway, directly ahead of Biloxi along its main feeder highway. Holloway describes the potential effect on Biloxi as "devastating." The mayor estimates that 75% of Biloxi's drive-in business comes via I-110.
In other Harrah's news, at the December annual meeting of the American Gaming Association (AGA), the AGA board of directors elected Gary Loveman, chairman, president and CEO of Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., to serve as chairman of the AGA. "Gary is one of the most vocal and persuasive advocates for the continued normalization of our industry, and his forward-looking approach will serve the AGA well, said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and CEO of the AGA.
The AGA is the lobbying organization for land-based casinos in the US, and sponsors the Global Gaming Expo trade show each year. The AGA also attempts to serve as the gaming industry's information clearinghouse, providing the public, the media and legislators timely, accurate gaming industry data.