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CAESARS AIMING HIGHER

The granddaddy casino of high-limit gambling on the Strip is doing some Old Vegas-style marketing to get its name into the ears of the new breed of big-money gamblers.

On Monday, Caesars Palace raised its blackjack and line bets at craps to $50,000 per hand, which it is touting as the highest posted limits in town.

“It’s kind of like what the Horseshoe did in the old days when they’d hang the sign over the craps table claiming the highest limits anywhere,” long-time casino observer Phil Hevener said. “It’s certainly going to attract some notice. The push in competition for high-end table game business is pretty fierce at this point.”

The venerable casino has been increasingly sharing much of its high-limit play with Wynn Las Vegas, The Venetian and Bellagio, said Gary Selesner, president of Caesars Palace.

Caesars executives believe the new limits could bring back some of the high-end players the property “hadn’t seen in a while.”

“Caesars Palace has historically had among the highest limits in Las Vegas,” Selesner said. “Now we can claim the highest limits in Las Vegas. This is an opportunity to put Caesars Palace back as a leader in this part of the market.”

The betting limits for blackjack is up from $10,000 per hand. Players will also have the option to bet three hands at $25,000 per hand.

In addition to the $50,000 line bets, craps players can bet $25,000 and $30,000 on place bets, up from $5,000 and $6,000. “Hard way” players can now wager $10,000.

Caesars also raised the betting limits on roulette, going from $500 to $3,000 for “any way” wagers, including single numbers, splits and quads.

State gaming regulators were notified of the increases, but the change does not require regulatory approval.

“I think they could get action out of this,” said David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “They have the name as the most famous casino in the world, so it makes sense that they have the highest limits in the world.”

Anthony Curtis, publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor, said the new limits will help Caesars Palace market itself as the highest of the Strip’s high-end properties.

“It has always been the brand in high-roller gambling at the highest levels,” said Curtis, who calls Caesars the greatest brand of the modern casino era. “I would look at it as them saying, ‘We’re Caesars Palace, we take big action, we want big players.’ “

Caesars Palace has been able to maintain its high-end position through the years in the face of greater competition, which now includes overseas markets such as Macau, Schwartz said.

The new limits are more in line with those at Harrah’s Entertainment’s international properties: the London Clubs International in the United Kingdom and South Africa, and the Conrad Resort & Casino Punta del Este in Uruguay.

“We’ve made these limits somewhat consistent with all these properties we have, which makes it easier to share customers,” Selesner said.

But Alan Feldman, MGM Mirage’s senior vice president for public affairs, described the Caesars announcement as “playing with words.”

He said MGM Mirage’s properties, which include MGM Grand, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay and The Mirage, grant limits exceeding Caesars Palace’s new numbers on a case-by-case basis.

A spokesman for The Venetian declined to comment. Calls to Wynn Las Vegas were not returned by deadline.

The move is the latest in a series of maneuvers by Caesars Palace to compete in the high-roller market.

The 41-year-old property announced a $1 billion expansion in July that will include a new 665-room hotel tower with three new pool villas. The expansion will also include a remodeling of the existing Forum Tower and the penthouse suite on the top floor.

In 2006, Caesars Palace built three penthouse suites in the Augustus Towers, built a new spa and new upscale restaurants.

“The limits really go hand-in-hand with all the improvements Caesars Palace designed to position the property as even more of a luxury property than it already is,” Selesner said.

Contact reporter Arnold M. Knightly at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or (702) 477-3893.

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