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The Kingpins

Las Vegas Power Brokers
Bruce Schoenfeld
From the Print Edition:
Kevin Costner, Nov/Dec 00

(continued from page 5)

And there were plenty of potential shoppers. After mulling over his wife's idea, Henry Gluck had stood on the roof of the hotel with mall developer Sheldon Gordon one day and counted hotel rooms within one block's walk. They discussed the inherent potential in an entertainment-driven retail environment, and their eagerness to create one grew. "The idea wasn't to just build a shopping mall, but to make the retail fun and exciting," Henry Gluck says.  

He was fighting the perceived wisdom that cautioned against giving gamblers options other than gambling. "A lot of people were under the impression that any dollar that goes to retailers is a dollar that might normally be spent in the casino," he says. "They didn't understand the distinction that the money allocated for gambling is often different than the money allocated for shopping. And for restaurants."  

What the Forum Shops and its imitators have done is not only provide additional revenue outlets to capitalize on the traditional Las Vegas visitor, but provide new reasons for visitors to come. "The way the industry was going and the way Las Vegas was going, I knew the increasing competitive pressure would force us to seek other revenue sources," says Gluck. "And second, the idea was to make the whole Las Vegas experience much more interesting, much more dynamic, and to appeal to more than just people who gamble."  

Caesars was sold to ITT in 1995. By then, the Mirage had opened and the Bellagio, the Venetian and Mandalay Bay were on the drawing boards. All have essential shopping and restaurant components modeled on the Forum Shops that provide a major part of their allure. "I can modestly say I was ahead of the curve," Gluck says. "I think I'm generally given credit for changing the dynamics of Las Vegas, in terms of giving people more to do. Steve Wynn has said that publicly."  

Now Gluck believes he's doing it again. For five years, he has been involved in a mixed-use project at Lake Las Vegas, some 20 miles off the Strip. He's co-chairman of Transcontinental, the real estate arm of the Texas oilmen Bass brothers, which is creating a development that will ultimately consist of hotels, luxury home developments and numerous recreational opportunities.  

"What it's about once again is that a lot of people come to Las Vegas for reasons other than gambling," he says. "If they are offered the alternative of staying in a resort environment, they're likely to want that more than the Strip. The doubting Thomases say, 'Well, isn't all of that action on the Strip exactly what people come to Las Vegas for?' They don't understand that there's an opportunity here beyond that. All those people who are now going to Scottsdale, places like that. Why not get them to Las Vegas?"   --BS


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