New Cosmopolitan Chief Will Boost Gambling

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has always offered a lot to recommend: Cool nightlife, some of the best cocktails in town, fantastic rooms with balconies (a rarity in Vegas for obvious reasons), and, just for good measure, a spinoff of STK with a DJ. But if you want to gamble, really gamble, well, it just hasn't been the place. The casino there never feels exactly right, and if you happen to be a high roller, looking to put down seriously big bets, Cosmopolitan has a history of not courting whale-sized action. Plus, its accommodations can be limiting for guys who're used to staying in comped five-star villas that come with English butlers.

But that is poised to change. Gambling at Cosmo will soon be up to speed and as alluring as everything else inside the high-energy hotel/resort/casino. 

Coinciding with the Blackstone Group purchasing Cosmopolitan from Deutsche Bank, Bill McBeath was recruited to run the place as its president and CEO. Formerly the president and COO of CityCenter, McBeath is a gambler's gambler. He describes sports betting as a "hobby and passion" and is known for playing in some of the higher poker games on the Strip.

That's a verbose way of saying that Cosmopolitan is about to strengthen its gambling game. "Deutsche Bank did not have the risk tolerance for the volatility and acquisition costs that come with big gamblers," McBeath told me during a recent chat in his posh office that features an impressive collection of high-end Scotches. "I am comfortable that if you understand the math of the game and the expected hold percentages, then every customer is a P&L silo."

In order to attract those silos of cash, the outspoken McBeath plans to make Cosmopolitan's casino floor more inviting, bring the sportsbook down from its second-story isolation (so it can be turned in to a destination) and expand the Talon Club, Cosmopolitan's club-like, high-limit gaming room.

What he'll be cutting back on are most financial incentives, including the gratis chips and gift cards that have been known to successfully lure well-heeled gamblers into casinos. Though it's a pretty common practice—says the host to the high-roller: "I have 5,000 reasons why you ought to stay with us this weekend..."—McBeath believes that Cosmopolitan does not need it. "We're leaning off promotional chips except at the highest end," he says. "People should come here because they value the experience. Not because we're paying them to walk through the door."

Most importantly of all, though, for the potential to draw big action, there will be 12 to 26 new high-end suites on four floors that Cosmopolitan's previous owner had never quite gotten around to finishing. "I designed the Sky Villas [at Aria] with Peter Marino," McBeath says, name-checking some of the nicest, most urbane rooms in town and one of the world's more cutting-edge architects. "I'll be contributing to the design here and we have better views and wrap-around balconies." The end result, McBeath hopes, will be to bolster high roller attracting amenities "while we maintain our status as the coolest place on the Strip."