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Year and a Half Before Opening, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi Receives More than 1,900 Resumés

The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss., Inside Gambling Column

By Timothy Boone, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News 

Feb. 15, 2004 --THE CROWD AT THE GROUNDBREAKING for the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi on Tuesday morning was impressive, but not as amazing as the number of people who have applied for a job at the resort. 

More than 1,900 people have submitted resumés or asked about jobs with the Hard Rock, said Joe Billhimer, president and chief operating officer. Those numbers are of as Thursday morning, about 18 months before the casino is scheduled to open. 

"We got 400 applications yesterday," Billhimer said before The Sun Herald's second annual Business and Community Awards Breakfast on Thursday. 

One person is responsible for handling all of the job applications, said Billhimer, who was one of the Top 10 Business Leaders Under 40 winners. 

Right now, resumés are being filed in different categories, based on what job a person is applying for -- dealer, cocktail waitress, slot tech, etc. 

Send an e-mail to resumes@hardrockbiloxi.com if you're interested in a job. 

Please don't call The Sun Herald newsroom -- I'll just refer you to the e-mail address. 

IN THE ILLINOIS RUNNING: Several casino companies with Coast ties are in the running to get the state of Illinois' 10th casino license, which would provide an entrance into the multibillion-dollar Chicago market. 

The Illinois Gaming Board released the amounts bid for the 10th license earlier this month. The license became available after Emerald Casino filed for bankruptcy and surrendered the right to operate a casino. 

Penn National Gaming, the parent company of Boomtown Casino Biloxi and Casino Magic Bay St. Louis, was the top bidder for the license. Penn National has bid $506 million for the casino license, earmarking $350 million to the state of Illinois and $156 million to Emerald's creditors. 

Penn National plans to build a $225 million casino resort in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, Ill., including a 200-room hotel. But there's an unusual wrinkle: The company would then sell the casino to the state of Illinois for $1. The state would own the casino, but Penn National would operate the resort for a 10 percent cut of the net revenues and an incentive fee. 

Harrah's bid $375 million for the license, second behind the Penn National bid. Biloxi-based Isle of Capri Casinos bid $351 million for the license and Caesars Entertainment, the parent company of Grand Casinos Biloxi and Gulfport, bid $205 million. Isle of Capri and Caesars also want to build their casinos in Rosemont. 

Other bidders included Wynn Resorts, Steve Wynn's new company, and a joint proposal from Mandalay Resort Group (owners of Gold Strike in Tunica) and Hyatt Development Corp. 

Illinois has a 70 percent top tax rate on gaming revenue, which has caused some casinos operating in the state to lay off employees, halt construction and slash operating hours. But the chance to move into a market the size of Chicago was enough for bidders to set aside their misgivings about high taxes. 

The Illinois Gaming Board will announce the final three bidders on Feb. 23 and will reveal the winning bidder on March 15. The winner will have to be confirmed by U.S. Bankruptcy Court. 

-----To see more of The Sun Herald, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.sunherald.com 

(c) 2004, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. WYNN, MBG, HET, PENN, 


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